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upon the improvement whereof that state depends. Oh what a huge weight hath God hung upon a small wire ! God hath set us here in a state of trial; and according as we improve these few hours, so will it fare with us to all eternity. Every day, every hour, nay, every moment of your present time hath an influence upon your eternity. Do you believe this? What! and yet squander away precious time so carelessly, so vainly! When Seneca heard one promise to spend a week in recreation with a friend that invited him, he wondered that he should make so rash a promise! What, said he, throw away so considerable a part of your life? How can you do it? Surely our prodigality, in the expense of time, argues that we have little sense of vast eternity.
2. How rational are all the duties and self-denial of religion, which serve to promote and secure future eternal happiness! So vast is the disproportion between time and eternity ; between things seen, and things not seen as yet; between the present vanishing and the future permanent state, that he can never be justly reputed wise, that will not let go the best enjoyment he hath on earth, if it stand in the way of his eternal happiness. Nor can that man ever escape the just censure of notorious folly, who, for the gratifying of his appetite and present pleasure, parts with eternal glory in heaven. Darius repented that he had lost a kingdom for a draught of water; "Oh;" said he, "for how short a pleasure have I sold a kingdom !” It was Moses' choice, and his choice argued his wisdom, rather "to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
.” Heb. 11: 25. 3. If there be such an eternal state into which souls pass immediately after death; how great a change does death make upon every man! Oh what a serious thing is it to die! It is your passage out of the swift river of time, into the boundless and bottomless ocean of eternity.
You that now converse with sensible objects, with men like yourselves, then enter the world of spirits. You that now see the continual revolutions of days and nights, passing away one after another, will then be fixed in a perpetual NOW. Oh what a serious thing is death! The souls of men are now, as it were, asleep in their bodies; at death they awake, and find themselves in the world of realities. Let this teach you, both how to assist dying persons when you visit them, and to make every day some provision for that hour yourselves. Be serious, be plain, be faithful with others that are stepping into eternity ; be so with your own souls every day. Oh remember eternity!
Proposition 2. All believers are, at their death, immediate
ly received into a state of glory and eternal happiness.
" This day shalt thou be with me." This proposition the atheist denies: he thinks he shall die, and therefore resolves to live as the beasts that perish. Beryllus, and some others after him, taught that there was indeed a future state of happiness and misery for souls, but that they pass not into it immediately after death, but sleep till the resurrection, and then awake and enter it. But have they found any such intimation in the Scriptures ? Not at all. The Scriptures take notice of no such interval; but plainly enough deny it: "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” 2 Cor. 5:8. No sooner parted from the body, than present with the Lord. So Phil. 1: 23. "Having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” If the soul of the apostle was to sleep till the resurrection, how was it far better to be dissolved, than to live? Surely Paul's state in the body had been far better than his state after death, if this were so; for here he enjoyed much sweet communion with God by faith, but then he would enjoy nothing. The Scrip
tures place no interval between the dissolution of a saint and his glorification: they speak of the saints that are dead, as already with the Lord; and the wicked that are dead, as already in hell, calling them spirits in prison, 1 Pet. 3: 19, 20; assuring us that Judas went presently to his own place. Acts, 1:25. And to that sense is the parable of Dives and Lazarus. Luke, 16:22.
But let us weigh these four things more particularly, for our full satisfaction in this point:
1. Why should the happiness of believers be deferred, since they are immediately capable of enjoying it, as soon as separated from the body ? Alas, the soul is so far from being assisted in the enjoyment of God by the body, in its present state, that it is clogged or hindered by it: so speaks the apostle, 2 Cor. 5:6, 8; “ Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord;" that is, our bodies prejudice our souls, obstruct and hinder the fulness and freedom of their communion. When we part from the body, we go home to the Lord ; then the soul is escaped as a bird out of a cage or snare. Here I am anticipated by an excellent pen, (Shaw's Farewell to Life,) to whose excellent observa. tions on this point I only add this; that if the entan. glements, snares, and prejudices of the soul are such in its embodied state, that it cannot so freely dilate itself and receive the comforts of God by communion with him; then surely the laying aside of that clog, or the freeing of the soul from that burden, can be no bar to the greater happiness it enjoys in its separate state,
2. Why should the happiness and glory of the soul be deferred, unless God has some farther preparative work to do upon it, before it be fit to be admitted into glory? But surely there is no such work wrought upon it after its separation by death : all that is done in the work of preparation is done here. The day is then ended, and
night comes, when no man can work. John, 9:3, " Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no wisdom, nor knowledge, nor device in the grave, whither thou goest.” Eccles. 9: 10. So that our glorification is not deferred, in order to our fuller preparation for glory. If we are not fit when we die, we can never be fit: all is done upon us that ever was intended to be done; for departed saints are called "the spirits of the just made perfect.” Heb. 12:23.
3. Again, Why should our salvation slumber, when the damnation of the wicked slumbers not ? God defers not their misery, and surely he will not defer our glory. If he be quick with his enemies, he will not be slow and dilatory with his friends. It cannot be imagined but he is as much inclined to acts of favor to his children, as to acts of justice to his enemies. See Jude, ver. 7; Acts, 1:25; 1 Pet. 3: 19, 20.
4. How do such delays accord with Christ's ardent desires to have his people with him where he is, and with the vehement longings of their souls to be with Christ? You may see those reflected flames of love between the Bridegroom and his spouse in Rev. 22 : 17, 20. They long for his coming; and the expectation and faith in which the saints die, is then to be satisfied; and surely God will not deceive them. I deny not but their glory will be more complete when the body, their absent friend, is re-united, and made to share with them in their happiness; yet that hinders not, but meanwhile the soul may enjoy its glory, whilst the body sleeps in the dust.
INFERENCE 1. Are believers immediately with God after their dissolution? Then how surprisingly glorious will heaven be to believers! Not that they are in it before they think of it, or are fitted for it; no, they have spent many thoughts upon it before, and been long preparing for it; but the suddenness and greatness of the
change is amazing to our thoughts. For a soul to be now here in the body, conversing with men, living among sensible objects, and within a few moments to be with the Lord ; this hour on earth, the next in the third heaven; now viewing this world, and anon standing among an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect: Oh what a change is this! To live as angels of God! To live without eating, drinking, sleeping! To be lifted up from a bed of sickness to a throne of glory! To leave a sinful, troublesome world, a sick and pained body, and be in a moment perfectly cured, and feel thyself perfectly well, and free from all infirmity and sorrow! You cannot think what this will be! Who can tell what sights, what apprehensions, what thoughts, what frames believing souls have, before the bodies they left are removed from the eyes of their dear surviving friends!
2. Are believers immediately with God after their dissolution ? Where then shall unbelievers be, and in what state will they find themselves immediately after death hath closed their eyes? To be torn from the body, from friends and comforts, and thrust into endless mise. ry into the dark vault of hell; never more to see the light of this world ; never to see a comfortable sight ; never to hear a joyful sound; never to know the meaning of rest, peace, or delight any more: Oh what a change! To exchange the smiles and applause of men, for the frowns and fury of God; to be clothed with flames, and drink Divine wrath, when but a few days before they were clothed in silks, and filled with earthly pleasure ! How is the state of things altered with them! It was the lamentable cry of poor Adrian, when he felt death approaching : "Oh my poor wandering soul! alas! whither art thou going! Where must thou lodge this night! Thou shalt never jest more, never be merry more !"
Your term in your houses and bodies is out, and there