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For can we think those bodies, well prepared for a glorious resurrection, to be refined into spiritual bodies, which are become ten times more flesh than God made them, which are the instruments and the tempters to all impurity ? Is there any reason to expect that such a body should rise again spiritual and glorious, which expires in the flames of lust, which falls a sacrifice in the quarrel of a strumpet, which sinks under the load of its own excesses, and eats and drinks itself into the grave, which scorns to die by Adam's sin, but will die by its own, without expecting till the laws of mortality, according to the ordinary course of nature, must take place ?
Holiness is the only principle of immortality, both to soul and body : those love their bodies best, those bonor them most, who make them instruments of virtue; who endeavor to refine and spiritualize them, and leave nothing of fleshly appetites and inclinations in them : those are kindest to their bodies, who consecrate them for immortality, who take care they shall rise again into the partnership of eternal joys : all the severities of mortification, abstinence from bodily pleasures, watchings, fastings, hard lodging, when they are instruments of a real virtue, not the arts of superstition, when they are intended to subdue our lusts, not to purchase a liberty of sinning, are the most real expressions of honor and respect to these bodies ; it shews how unwilling we are to part with them, or to have them miserable, how deSECT. III. Death considered as our entrance upon a
new aud unknown state of life.
ill. LET us now consider death as it is an entrance upon a new and unknown state of life ; for it is a new thing to us, to live without these bodies, it is what we have never tried yet, and we cannot guess how we shall feel ourselves, when we are stript of flesh and blood; what entertainments we shall find in that place, where there is neither eating nor drinking, neither marrying nor giving in marriage ; what kind of business and employment we shall have there, where we have no occasion for any of these things, which employ our time here ; for when we have no use for food, or raiment, or physic, or houses to dwell in, or whatever our union to these bodies makes necessary to us now, all those trades and arts, which are to provide these conveniences for us, must then cease. This must needs be a very sur. prising change : and though we are assured of a very great happiness in the next world, which infinitely exceeds whatever men call happiness or pleasure here, yet most men are very unwilling to change a known for an unknown happiness; and it confounds and amazes them to think of going out of these bodies, they know not whither. Now this consideration will suggest several very wise and useful thoughts to iis.
1. How necessary an entire trust and faith in God is : we cannot live happily without it in this world, and I am sure we cannot die comfortably without it: for this is the noblest exercise of faith, to be able cheerfully to resign up our spirits into the hands of God, when we know so little of the state of the other world, whither we are going. This was the first trial of Abraham's faith, when, in obedience to the command of God, he forsook his own country, and his father's house, and followed God into a strange land, Heb. xi. 8. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go into a place, which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went. Canaan was a type of heaven; and heaven is as unknown a country to us, as Canaan was to Abraham : and herein we must imitate this father of the faithful, to be contented to leave our native country, and the world we know, to follow God, whithersoever he leads us, into unknown regions, and to an unknown and unexperienced happiness. This indeed all men must do, because they cannot avoid leaving this world, but must go, when God calls for them; but that which makes it our choice, and an act of faith and virtue, is this, such a strong persuasion of, and firm reliance on the goodness and wisdom and promises of God, that though we are ignorant of the state of the other world, we can cheerfully forsake all our known enjoyments, and
embrace the promises of an unknown happiness. And there are two distinct acts of this, which answer to Abraham's faith in leaving his own country, and following God into a strange land: the first is the exercise of our faith while we live, the second when
To mortify all our inordinate appetites and desires, to deny ourselves the sinful vanities and pleasures of this life, for the promises of an unknown happiness in the next world, is our mystical dying to this world, leaving our native country, and following God into a strange and unknown land ; to quit all our present possessions in this world, to forfeit our estates, our liberties, all that is dear 10 us here ; nay, to forsake our native country, rather than offend God, and lose our title to the promises of an unknown happiness is in a literal sense, to leave our own country at God's command, not knowing whither we go ;. which is like Abraham's going out of his own country, and living a sojourner in the land of promise, without having any inheritance in it: this is that faith which overcomes the world, which makes us live as pil. grims and strangers here, as these who seek for another country, for a heavenly Canaan, as the apostle tells us Abraham did: For by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise ; for he looked for a city
which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, Heb. xi. 9, 10.
And when we come to die, and can with joy and triumph in an assurance of Gods promises, commend our spirits to him, and trust him with our souls, when we know not the country we go to, and never experienced what the happiness of it is, without any concern or solicitude about it ; this is a noble act of faith, which does great honor to God, and conquers all the natural aversions to death, and makes it an easy thing to leave this world, and the object of our desire and choice to see that promised land, and taste those pleasures which we are yet strangers to. We must live, and we must die in faith too, as the patriarchs did, who all died in faith, not having received the promises, but seeing them afar off ; and for that reason, the other world must be in a great measure unknown to us, for could we see it, could we beforehand taste the pleasures of it, or know what they are, it would be no act of faith to leave this world for it, to be willing to be translated from earth to heaven ; but no man is worthy of heaven, who dares not take God's word for it; and therefore God has concealed those glories from us, and given us only a promise of a great but an unknown happiness, for the object of our hope, to be a trial of our faith and obedience and trust in him.
That the other world is an unknown state to us, trains us up to a great trust and confidence in God;