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We have considered the affecting representation which the apostle gives us of our present mortal condition. And his animating description of the happiness of the heavenly state.

We shall now, in the third place,

III. Attend to the assurance with which he speaks on this subject.

We know, that if our earthly house be dissolved, we have a building of God.

The apostle may be understood as expressing an assurance of a future state of happiness; and a confidence of his own title to that state.

1. We may understand the apostle as expressing an assurance, that there is a state of happiness in reserve for true christians.

The evidences of such a state he suggests in our context, and in the parallel place in Romans.

He supposes it to be a common sentiment, founded in the reason of mankind, that there is a God--that God exercises a gov

ernment over men, and will make a difference between the righteous and the wicked—between them who serve him, and them who rebel against him.

But this difference is not made in the present state. Here good men often have an uncommon share in the calamities of life; and there are cases in which they suffer on account of their right

eousness.

This was the case of the apostles. “ We are troubled on every side-we are persecuted—we bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus. If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men the most miserable."

Can it be that that God will subject to peculiar miseries, and leave without reward, his most faithful servants—those who renounce all worldly interests and prospects for promoting his cause among their fellow-men?

This would contradict all our ideas of the equity of a moral government. There must then be another state in which their services, sufferings and self-denials may be rewarded. “For this cause," says the apostle,“ we faint not. Though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed. Our light affliction, which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

This argument the apostle applies to the case of the patriarchs. God had promised to be their God. But how was this promise made good ? Not in any worldly accommodations; for they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the world. In respect of earthly blessings they fared no better than many wicked men, to whom no such promise was made. The apostle thus answers this objection; “God is not ashamed to be called their

6 God, for he hath prepared for them a city.”

Another argument for a future state, urged by the apostle, is the desire of immortality common to men, and operating with peculiar strength in sincere christians. “We know that we have a building of God; for in this tabernacle we groan earnestly, desiring to be cloathed upon with our house which is from heaven.” How is this desire an evidence of our immortality? The apostle says, "He who hath wrought us to this selfsame thing, is God."

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And if God has put this desire into us, he certainly has prepared an object to satisfy it.

But how does it appear, that it is God who has wrought us to this desire ? Because it is universal. “ The earnest expectation of the creature, the human race, waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. We know that the whole creation, or every human creature, groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, even the redemption of the body.”

As a confirmation of the doctrine of the resurrection and a future life, the apostle refers us to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “ We have the spirit of faith-We believe, and therefore speak, knowing, that he who raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Christ has risen and become the first fruits of them who sleep. Reason makes it credible, that the dead shall rise and live. Christ's resurrection makes it certain. He foretold his own death and resurrection. He has promised also the future existence and happiness of his faithful disciples. What he predicted has been verified in himself. Hence we may conclude, that what he has promised will be accomplished in others.

2. The apostle may be understood in the text as expressing a strong persuasion of his own interest in the happiness of a future life.

Hence we may observe, that a knowledge of our title to heavenly happiness is attainable. The apostle, not only in our text, but in various other places, speaks with great confidence, of the happiness in reserve for him after the close of his present services for Christ. And he desires that every christian give diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end.

This knowledge, or assurance, however, is of the moral kind. It is not like the knowledge which comes by sense. We walk by faith ; not by sight. “We are saved by hope. But hope which is seen, is not hope ; for that which a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?”

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If Christian assurance were like the evidence of sight, hope would be superseded. We are to pray, that God would give us a good hope through grace, and we are to give diligence, that we may abound in hope.

The apostle in our text says, We know that we have a building of God in heaven. He adds, we are confident, or fully persuaded, that when we are absent from the body, we shall be present with the Lord. St. John says, We know that when Christ shall appear, we shall be like him and shall see him as he is; and every one that hath this hope purifieth himself as he is pure. The full assurance, of which the apostle speaks, is the full assurance of hope, or a hope which gives the mind full satisfaction.

There is no doubt, but that God, if he so pleases, can give to good men a direct and immediate discovery of their title to heaven, without leaving them to work out their salvation with fear. But we have no reason to expect this, for he has instructed us to seek the assurance of hope by diligence in the duties of religion, and to make our calling and election sure by adding to our faith all the virtues of the christian character. If we do these things, we shall never fall.

Our assurance of future glory depends on the promises which God has made in his word. We hope for eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, has promised. The conditions of these promises, are repentance of sin, faith in God through Christ, and purity of heart in conformity to the image of God. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, and be admitted into his kingdom. “God has given us exceeding great and precious promises, that by them we might become partakers of a divine nature, having escaped the pollutions that are in the world through lust.” “ Having therefore these promises,” says the apostle, “ let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” Our hope of an interest in these promises must depend on our experience of their influence in purifying our hearts. And our hope may be stronger in proportion to this influence. The more we abound in the fruits of righteousness, the more we may abound in the hope of eternal life,

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The apostle exhorts christians to fear, lest a promise being left them of entering into the heavenly rest, they should finally come short. This fear must not arise from a distrust of God, but from a distrust of themselves—not from a doubt whether God's promises are sure; but from a doubt whether their own hearts are right. Therefore they are directed to examine themselves whether they be in the faith, and to prove their own works, that they may have rejoicing in themselves. From hence it follows,

1. That a full and satisfactory hope is not to be attained suddenly. New converts cannot have had opportunity to prove their sincerity. There must be time to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, before we can feel any thing like an assurance, that our repentance is sincere. They who lay aside all fear-all self-distrust, immediately on their supposed conversion, discover more of the presumption of the hypocrite, than of the humility of the christian. It requires much labor, self-denial and vigilance, a good knowledge of religion and of the heart, and a steady, uniform practice of piety, in order to our making our election sure. All this cannot be the work and experience of a day. They who come by their assurance suddenly and easily-without taking much time, or employing much attention, may well suspect, that it stands on sandy ground, not on a firm foundation. It follows,

2. That such an assurance as banishes all fear and self-distrust, is not an ordinary attainment.

We pretend not to say, what God may do for some chosen vessels on special and extraordinary occasions-for some eminent servants in season of persecution—for some christians of high experience near the close of life. But we speak of ordinary christian attainments.

As our hopes ought to bear some proportion to our improvements in holiness; and as holiness, in the best christians, is imperfect in the present state, it must be expected, that hope, as well as other graces, will be imperfect. Few christians can, on solid ground, rise above what the apostle calls “a good hope through grace.” If they trust, generally, that their hearts are right with God, yet there are times, when a view of their imperfections in duty, the dulness of their heavenly affections, and the remaining

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