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yet invisible; such as 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor will they enter into the heart of man fully to conceive.' Now, therefore, with quietness and confidence give up thyself unto the sovereign power, grace, truth, and faithfulness of God, and thou shalt find assured rest and peace.
But Jesus Christ it is, who doth immediately receive the souls of them who believe in him. So we see in the instance of Stephen. And what can be a greater encouragement to resign them into his hands, than a daily contemplation of his glory in his person, his power, his exaltation, his office, and grace? Who that believes in him, that belongs unto him, can fear to commit his departing spirit unto his love, power, and care ? Even we also shall hereby in our dying moments see, by faith, heaven opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, ready to receive us. This added unto the love which all believers have unto the Lord Jesus, which is enflamed by contemplation of his glory, and their desires to be with him where he is, it will strengthen and confirm our minds in the resignation of our departing souls into his hand.
Secondly, It is required in us unto the same end, that we be ready and willing to part with the flesh, wherewith we are clothed, with all things that are useful and desirable thereunto. The alliance, the relation, the friendship, the union, that are between the soul and the body, are the greatest, the nearest, the firmest, that are or can be among mere created beings. There is nothing like it, nothing equal unto it. The union of three persons in the one single divine nature, and the union of two natures in one person of Christ, are infinite, ineffable, and exempted from all comparison. But among created beings, the union of these two essential parts of the same nature in one person, is most excellent. Nor is any thing equal to it, or like it, found in
any other creatures. Those who among them have most of life, have either no bodies, as angels; or no souls, but what perish with them, as all brute creatures below.
Angels being pure immaterial spirits, have nothing in them, nothing belonging unto their essence, that can die. Beasts have nothing in them that can live when their bodies die. The soul of a beast cannot be preserved in a separate condition, no not by an act of Almighty power; for it is not; and that which is not, cannot live. It is nothing but the body itself in an act of its material powers.
Only the nature of man in all the works of God is capable of this convulsion. The essential parts of it are separable by death, the one continuing to exist and act its especial powers in a separate state or condition. The powers of the whole entire nature acting in soul and body in conjunction, are all scattered and lost by death. But the powers of one essential part of the same nature, that is of the soul, are preserved after death in a more perfect acting and exercise than before. This is peculiar unto human nature, as a mean partaking of heaven and earth, of the perfection of angels above, and of the imperfection of the beasts below. Only there is this difference in these things: our participation of the heavenly spiritual perfections of the angelical nature, is for eternity; our participation of the imperfections of the animate creatures here below, is but for a season. For God hath designed our bodies unto such a glorious refinement at the resurrection, as that they shall have no more alliance unto that brutish nature, which perisheth for ever. For we shall be scayyedor, like unto angels, or equal to them. Our bodies shall no more be capable of those acts and operations which are now common to us with other living creatures here below.
This is the pre-eminence of the nature of man, as the wise man declares. For unto that objection of atheistical epicureans, “As the one dieth, so dieth the other; they have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast, and all go into one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to the dust again :' he granteth, that as unto their bodies it is for a season, in them we have a present participation of their nature; but, saith he, here lieth the difference, “Who knoweth the spirit of a man that goeth upward, and the spirit of a beast that goeth downward unto the earth ? Unless we know this, unless we consider the different state of the spirit of men and beasts, we cannot be delivered from this atheism; but the thoughts hereof will set us at liberty from it. They die in like manner, and their bodies go equally to the dust for a season; but the beast hath no spirit, nó soul, but what dies with the body and goes to the dust. If they had, their bodies also must be raised again unto a conjunction with them; otherwise, death would produce a new race of creatures unto eternity. But man bath an immortal soul, saith he, a heavenly spirit, which when the body goes into the dust for a season, ascends to heaven (where the guilt of sin, and the curse of the law, interpose not), from whence it is there to exist and to act all its native powers in a state of blessedness.
But as I said, by reason of this peculiar intimate union and relation between the soul and body, there is in the whole nature a fixed aversation from a dissolution. The soul and body are naturally and necessarily unwilling to fall into a state of separation, wherein the one sball cease to be what it was, and the other knows not clearly how it shall subsist. The body claspeth about the soul, and the soul receiveth strange impressions from its embraces; the entire nature existing in the union of them both, being unalterably averse unto a dissolution.
Wherefore, unless we can overcome this inclination, we can never die comfortably or cheerfully. We would indeed rather choose to be clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life,' that the clothing of glory might come on our whole nature, soul and body, without dissolution. But if this may not be, yet then do believers so conquer this inclination by faith and views of the glory of Christ, as to attain a desire of this dissolution. So the apostle testifies of himself, 'I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better than to abide here; Phil. i. 23. saith he, émOvulav čxw. Not an ordinary desire, not that which worketh in me now and then; buta constant, habitual inclination working in vehement acts and desires. And what doth he so desire? It is avalūgai,' to depart,' say we, out of this body, from this tabernacle, to leave it for a season. But it is such a departure as consists in the dissolution of the present state of his being, that it should not be what it is. But how is it possible that a man should attain such an inclination unto, such a'readiness for, such a vehement desire of, a dissolution ? It is from a view by faith of Christ and his glory, whence the soul is satisfied, that to be with him is incomparably better than in its present state and condition.
He therefore that would die comfortably, must be able to say within himself and to himself; Die, then, thou frail and sinful flesh; dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' I yield thee up unto the righteous doom of the Holy One. Yet therein also I give thee into the hand of the great refiner, who will hide thee in thy grave, and by thy consumption purify thee from all thy corruption and disposition to evil. And otherwise this will not be. After a long sincere endeavour for the mortification of all sin, I find it will never be absolutely perfect, but by this reduction into the dust. Thou shalt no more be a residence for the least remainder of sin unto eternity, nor any clog unto my soul in its actings on God. Rest therefore in hope; for God, in his appointed season, when he shall have a desire unto the work of his hands, will call unto thee, and thou shalt answer him out of the dust. Then shall he by an act of his Almighty power, not only restore thee unto thy pristine glory, as at the first creation, when thou wast the pure workmanship of his hands; but enrich and adorn thee with inconceivable privileges and advantages. Be not then afraid ; away with all reluctancy, go into the dust, rest in hope, for thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
That which will enable us hereunto, in an eminent manner, is that view and consideration of the glory of Christ, which is the subject of the ensuing meditations. For he who is now possessed of all that glory, underwent this dissolution of nature as truly and really as ever we shall do.
Thirdly, There is required hereunto, a readiness to comply with the times and seasons wherein God would have us depart and leave this world. Many think they shall be willing to die when their time is come; but they have many reasons, as they suppose, to desire that it may not yet be, which for the most part arise merely from fear, and aversation of death. Some desire to live that they may see more of that glorious work of God for his church, which they believe he will accomplish. So Moses prayed that he might not die in the wilderness, but go over Jordan and see the good land, and that goodly mountain,