by Thomas Goodwin
Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.—2 COR. 5:5.
THERE is no point of more moment to all, nor of greater comfort to saints, than what shall become of their souls when they die. It is our next stage; and things that are next use more to affect us. And besides, it is the beginning, and a taking possesion of our eternity.
That these words should aim at this self-same thing, cannot be discerned without consulting the foregoing part of the apostle's discourse; and yet I cannot be large in bringing down the coherence, having pitched upon what this fifth verse contributes unto this argument, which alone will require more than this time allotted, having also very largely gone through the exposition of the foregoing verses elsewhere;* and I now go but on where I left last. But yet to make way for the understanding the scope of my text, take
The coherence in brief, thus:
In the 16th verse of the foregoing chapter, where the well-head of his discourse is to be found, he shews the extraordinary care God hath of our inward man, to renew it day by day. Where inward man is strictly the soul with its graces, set in opposition to our outward man, the body with its appurtenances, which he saith daily perisheth, that is, is in a mouldering and decaying condition.
Chap. 5:1. For we know, that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
In this first verse of this fifth chapter, he meets with this supposition: but what if this outward man or earthly tabernacle be wholly dissolved and pulled down, what then shall become of this inner man? And he resolves it thus, 'That if it be dissolved, we have an house, a building of God in the heavens.' And what is the we, but this inner man he had spoken of, renewed souls, which dwell now in the body as in a tabernacle, as the inmates that can subsist without it? And it is as if he had said, If this inward man be destituted of one house, we have another, God, that in this life was so careful over this inner man, to renew it every day, hath made another more ample provision against this great change. It is but its removing from one house to a better, which God hath built. As yourselves, to speak in your own language, if wars should beset you, and your country house were plundered and pulled down, you would comfort yourselves with this, I have yet a city house to retire unto.
Neither is the terming the glory of heaven, and that as it is bestowed upon a separate soul, an house, alien from the Scripture phrase, Luke 16:9, 'That when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.' Death is a failing (it is your city phrase also when a man proves bankrupt). A statute of bankrupts comes forth then upon your old house, statutum est omnibus semel mori, and upon all you have; and then it is a receiving or entertaining that otherwise desolate soul into everlasting habitations, that is, into an house eternal in the heavens, as the text.
Nor yet is the phrase of terming heaven a city-house remote neither; for, Heb. 11:13, Abraham and the patriarchs died in faith. Mark that. In faith or expectation of what? He had told us, ver. 10, 'He looked for a city whose builder is God.' What is a city, but an aggregation and heap of houses and inhabitants? Multitudes had died afore Abraham and gone to heaven, from Adam, Abel, Seth, downwards; and God promiseth him peace at his death, and a being gathered to those fathers, Gen. 15:15. There was then a city built, and already replenished with inhabitants; and amongst others, an house provided for him, that is, his soul, built of God, and ready furnished against this removal.
Ver. 2. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.
In this verse he utters the working of the affections of Christians towards their being clothed upon with this house; and so in order to this enjoyment of it, their desiring even to be dissolved, which Paul also utters of himself, Philip. 1. Now if the first verse speaks of the glory of a separate soul, when he calls it an house, this second verse must intend the same.
Ver. 3. If so be that, being clothed, we shall not be found naked.
In this verse he gives an wholesome caution by the way, and withal insinuates why he used the word clothed upon in the foregoing verse, thus, speaking of the glory of such a separate soul, even because it is absolutely necessary that all our souls be found clothed first, and renewed with grace and holiness, and not be found naked at our deaths, that is, not devoid of grace, and so exposed to shame and wrath, as Rev. 16:15.
Ver. 4. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
The fourth verse gives a genuine and sincere account why a Christian doth thus groan, and that after dissolution itself, in order to this glory, which he sets out with an accurate distinction of their desires of dissolution, in difference from like desires in all other men. First, negatively, not for that being burdened we desire to be unclothed, or dissolved; that is, simply for case of those burdens, nor out of a despising of our bodies we now wear, as their heathen wise men and philosophers did, and others do. No. But secondly, positively, for this, as the top ground of that desire, that we would be clothed upon with that house spoken of, ver. 1, and that still taken in the sense spoken of in the second verse, to the end that this mortal animal life, which the soul, though immortal in itself, now leads in the body, full of sins, clogged with a body of death and miseries, each of which has a death in it, and so it lives but a dying life; that this life may be exchanged, yea, swallowed up by that which is life indeed, the only true life, the knowing God as we are known, and enjoying him. All which, as to our souls, is truly performed at our dissolution; although the final swallowing up the mortality of our bodies also doth yet remain to be accomplished; which will be done at the latter day, at that change both of body and soul, though in respect of the body, it will be completed as then more fully.
This interpretation, and the suiting of all the phrases used in this fourth verse, to hold good of this exchange at death, I cannot, through straitness of time, give an account of now. I have lately, and very largely, done it elsewhere.
This for the coherence. I hasten to my text.
Ver. 5. Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who hath also given us the earnest of the Spirit.
The current of the four former verses running thus steadily along in this channel, the stream in this verse continues still the same.
There is one word in this verse, εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο, 'For this self-same thing God hath wrought us,' which serves us as a clue of thread drawn through the windings of the former verses, to shew us that one and the same individual glory hath been carried on all along, and still is in this verse also; so, then, we see where we are.
What this self-same thing should be, ask the first verse, and it will tell you it is that 'house eternal in the heavens, a building of God, prepared by him against the time that this earthly house is dissolved.' Ask the second verse: it is the 'same house we groan to be clothed upon with' when the other is pulled down. Ask the fourth verse, and more plainly: it is that life which succeeds this mortal life the soul now lives in this body, and swallows up all the infirmities thereof; and then here it follows, 'Even for this self-same thing,' &c. So, then, if the glory of the separate soul be the subject of any of these verses, then of all, and so of this verse also.
And, to be sure, it cannot be that extraordinary way of entrance into glory, by such a sudden change, both of soul and body into glory at once, without dissolution, should be the self-same thing here aimed at; for it was not the lot of any of those primitive Christians of whom the Holy Ghost here speaks this, 'He hath wrought us for this thing,' that they should be in that manner changed, and so enter into glory; but the contrary, for they all, and all saints since for these sixteen hundred years, have put off their tabernacles by death, as Peter did, and speaks of himself, 2 Peter 1:14, and therefore the Scripture, or Holy Ghost, foreseeing, as the phrase is, Gal. 3:8, this change would be their fate, would not have uttered this of them, 'God hath wrought us for this,' whom he knew God had not designed thereunto.
Neither is it that those groaning desires spoken of in the foregoing verses 2, 3, 4 is 'that self-same thing' here, as some would, for indeed, as Musculus well, If the apostle had said, He that hath wrought this thing in us, &c., that expression might have carried it to such a sense, but he saith, He that wrought us for the salf-same thing; and so it is not that desire of glory in us is spoken of, but 'us, ourselves and souls, as wrought for that glory.'
If it be asked what is the special proper scope of these words as touching this glory of the soul, the answer in general; it is to give the rational part of this point, or demonstrative reasons to evidence to believers, that indeed God hath thus ordained and prepared such a glory afore the resurrection. And it is as if the apostle had said, Look into your own souls and consider God's dealings with you hitherto, viz.:—
1. First, the operation of his hands; for what other is the meaning or mystery, says he, of all that God is daily so at work with you in this life? What else is the end of all the workings of grace in you, and of God that is the worker? This is his very design: 'He that hath wrought us,' that is, our souls, 'for this very thing, is God.'
2. Besides the evidence the work gives, there is also over and above the earnest of the Spirit given to your souls now whilst in your bodies, in joy, full of glories of the same kind (as earnests are) of what fulness of glory they are both capable of then, and shall be filled with, when severed from your bodies: 'Who hath also given us the earnest of the Spirit.'
We preachers have it in use, as to allege proofs of Scripture for the points or subjects we handle, so to give reasons or demonstrations of them; and so doth our apostle here of this great point he had been treating of; and such reasons or demonstrations run often upon harmony and congruity of one divine thing or truth kissing another; also upon becomingnesses or meetnesses, that is, what it becometh the great God to do. For instance, in giving an account why God, in 'bringing many sons to glory,' did choose to effect it by Christ's death rather than any other way, 'It became him,' says he, Heb. 2:10, 'for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,' &c. And so in the point of the resurrection, 1 Cor. 15:21, 'Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead;' that is, it was congruous, harmonious it should thus be, the one answering correspondently to the other. The like congruity will be found couched here in God's bringing souls to glory afore that resurrection.
Now there are two sorts of harmonious reasons couched in the forepart of these words, 'He that wrought us for this is God.'
I. That it is finis operis et operantis, the end of the work itself upon us, and of God as an efficient working for an end, God hath wrought on us for this very thing.
II. It is opus dignum Deo authore, a work as he is the great God, and as a thing worthy and becoming of God as the author of it: 'He that hath wrought us for this thing is God.'
There is a third point to be superadded, and that is, it is the interest of all three persons, which, how clearly evidenced out of the text, will appear when I have despatched these former doctrines.
Doct. 1. That it is a strong argument that God hath provided a glory for separate souls hereafter, that 'he hath wrought us,' and wrought on us a 'work of grace' in this life.
Ere the reason of this will appear, I must first open three things natural to the words, which will serve as materials out of which to make forth that argument.
First, that the thing here said to be wrought is grace or holiness, which is a preparation unto glory. (1.) Grace is the work, and so, Philip. 1:6, termed 'the good work,' a frame of spirit 'created to good works': Eph. 2:10, 'We are his workmanship, created unto good works.' The text here says, 'Who hath wrought us;' there similarly, 'We are his workmanship.' And (2.) secondly, this work is a preparation to glory; for, for one thing to be first wrought in order to another, is a preparation thereunto. Now, saith the text, 'He hath wrought us for this thing;' and Rom. 9:23, it is in terminis the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared to glory, which was by working holiness, for it follows, ver. 24, 'even us whom he hath called'; likewise Col. 1:12, 'Who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:' meet, by making us saints. So, then, 'had prepared, 'hath made meet,' is all one with 'who hath wrought us for this thing.' Here,
The second, What is the principal subject wrought upon or prepared and made meet for glory? It is certainly the soul, in analogy to the phrase here. We use to say (when we speak of our conversion), 'Since my soul was wrought on.' And though the body is said to be sanctified, 1 Thes. 5:23, yet the immediate subject is the soul, and that primitively, originally, the body by derivation from the soul. And hence it is the soul, when a man dies, carries with it all the grace by inherency. 'All flesh is grass, which withers;' that is, the body with all the appurtenances, saith Peter, 1 Peter 1:24. But you, having 'purified your souls, being born again of incorruptible seed' (our bodies are made of corruptible seed, which is the opposition there) 'by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.' 'And this is the word' (he says he means) 'which by the gospel is preached' (every day) 'unto you,' ver. 25, and by preaching is engrafted in your souls, purifying your souls, ver. 22. In no other subject doth that word as preached for ever abide; for the body rots, and in the grave hath not an inherent but a relative holiness, such as the episcopal brethren would have to be in churches consecrated by them, because once it was the temple of the Holy Ghost, who dwells in us.
And that it is the soul the apostle hath here in his eye, in this discourse of his in my text, as that which he intends the subject here wrought upon, appears, if we consult the well-head of his discourse about the soul, which is the 16th verse of the 4th chapter. 'Our inward man (says he) is renewed,' &c. (there is your wrought upon here), whilst the outward (the body) perisheth. Which soul, in being called the inward man, connotates at once both grace and the soul conjunct together, and distinct from the body, as well as from sin and corruption. Elsewhere it is declared the subject first and originally wrought on: Eph. 4:23, 'Be renewed in the spirit of your minds.' Look round about the text, and what is the us wrought on? Plainly this inward man, by the coherence afore and after. Ask yet, 1, 'If our earthly tabernacle (that is, our body) be dissolved, we have,' &c., that is, this inner man, our souls, have; for the body is supposed dissolved. So likewise, ver. 4, we in this tabernacle, that is, our souls is these bodies. More expressly after, ver. 8, our very souls, not only whilst in our bodies, but when separated from our bodies, have the we given them; we are willing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. The we present with the Lord, and absent from the body, is, nor can be, no other than a separate soul in its estate of widowhood. And so here, ver. 5, hath wrought us; the soul bears the person, carries away the grace with it.
Add to this, the time here specified in the text, in which we are wrought upon: it is but this life, and during the term thereof.* 'Hath wrought us,' says the apostle; not in the future, 'who shall work' us for it. That hath wrought, referring to the work of conversion at the first, 'Who hath made us meet to be partakers,' &c., Col. 1:12, and who doth continue still to work us; the preterperfect being often put by the apostle for the present, 'God renewing the inner man day by day,' chap. 4:16; so working upon it, in order to this self-same thing, continually. Unto which words there, these here have an evident aspect; yet so as that time of working is but during this life. For it is whilst the outward man is mouldering, and that 'by afflictions, which during this moment work an eternal weight of glory,' ver. 17, and that is expressly said to be 'but this present time,' Rom. 8. So then, there is no parabit in that other world. But, as Solomon says of man, there is no work after this life, Eccles. 9:10; 'no remembrance,' says David, Ps. 6:5, namely, which hath any influence into a man's eternity. So there is no working upon us in order thereunto after death: God hath done his do, hath wrought, and man hath 'finished his course,' as Paul of himself, and in this chapter of my text, ver. 10, 'Every man receiveth the things done in his body, be they good or evil.' Those things that are done in this body only; therefore only what in this life he hath wrought. And for this he 'hath wrought us,' says the text.
These things premised, I come to the argument to be raised out of them, to prove the point in hand.
First, That grace or holiness, because they are immediately wrought in the soul, that therefore when the body dies the soul shall be taken up into life. That this is a meet and congruous ordination of God, the Scripture itself owns, and seems so to pitch the reason of it in Rom. 8:10, 11, 'And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.' He gives an account of what is to become hereafter, both of the bodies and souls of them in whom Christ is. (1.) First, for the body that is condemned to die, 'the body is dead because of sin.' By body I understand the same which he, in the 11th verse, terms the 'mortal body to be raised up,' which, says he, 'is dead,' that is, appointed to die; as one sentenced to death you term a dead man. And this 'because of sin.' It was meet that that first threatening of dying should have some effect to evidence the truth of God therein. Only God is favourable in his ordination in this, that he arresteth but the body, the less principal debtor; but that, to be sure, shall pay for it. 'It is appointed to all men once to die,' even for men that are in Christ, as this place of the Romans hath it. Then (2.) follows, what remains, the soul of such an one when the body dies. 'But,' says he (speaking by way of exception, and contrary fate too), the spirit is life because of righteousness.' The spirit is the soul in contradistinction to the body; this, when the body dies, is life. He says not living only, or immortal, but is swallowed up into life. And why? 'because of righteousness,' which is Christ's image; and so preserves, and by God's ordination, upon dying, elevates the soul, which is the immediate and original subject of it, which is the point in hand. For this thing it is, God hath wrought it. But then because the query would be, Shall this body for ever remain dead, because of this first sin, and bear this punishment for ever? No; therefore (3.) he adds, 'He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies.' So at last, and then bringing both body and soul together unto complete glory.
And the congruity of reason that is for this appointment is observable, something like to that 1 Cor. 15, 'As by man came death, so by man came also the resurrection from the dead.' For that sin that condemned us to this death, we had from the first Adam by bodily generation, as the channel or means of conveying it, who was, as other, father of our flesh.
The arrest therefore goes forth against the body, which we had from that Adam, because of that sin, conveyed by means of our bodies; for though I must not say the body defiles the soul, or of itself is the immediate subject of sin; yet the original means or channel through which it comes down, and is derived unto us, is the generation of our bodies. The body therefore congruously pays for this, and the death thereof is a means to let sin out of the world, as the propagating it was a means to bring sin in. But an holy soul or spirit, which is the offspring of God, having now true holiness and rightousness from the second Adam communicated to it, and abiding in it; and being not only the immediate subject thereof, but further, the first and original subject, from and by which it is derived unto the body; the womb, into which that immortal seed was first cast, and in which the inward man is formed, and in respect of a constant abiding, in which it is that seed is termed incorruptible. Hence, therefore, says God of this soul, 'it is life.' It shall live when this body dies. There is nothing of Christ's image, but is ordained to abide for ever. 'Charity never fails,' 1 Cor. 13:8. 'His righteousness endures for ever,' 2 Cor. 9:9; and therefore is ordained to conserve and elevate unto life the subject it is in, and that is the soul. This as a foundation of the Substantial parts of this first reason out of this one scripture, thus directly and explicitly holding this forth.
2. I come to the argumentation itself, which ariseth out of these things laid together: (1.) That the soul is the immediate subject of grace; (2.) The first and primitive susceptive thereof; (3.) And itself is alone and immediately capable of glory, which grace is a preparation to; and (4.) that God, afore our deaths, hath wrought all of grace he intends to work, in preparation to glory. Out of all these a strong argument doth arise: that such a soul upon death shall be admitted unto glory, and not be put to stay till the time of the resurrection, when both soul and body shall be joined again together; and that this holdeth a just and meet conveniency upon each, or at least all these grounds when put together.
First, Consider the soul as the immediate subject of this working and preparation for glory. Hence, therefore, this will at least arise, that the inherency or abiding of his grace wrought in this soul, depends not upon its conjunction with the body; but so as it remains as an everlasting and perpetual conserver of that grace stamped on it; yea, and carries it all with itself, as a rich treasure innate unto it wherever it goes, when separate from the body. I say, it either hath in it, or appertaining unto it, all that hath been wrought for it, either in it or by it: Rev. 14:13, 'Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; and their works do follow them.' They go to heaven with them, and after them. And in what subject else is it, that the seed of God remains incorruptible, or the word of God abides for ever? 1 Pet. 1:23, 25. Or how else comes that saying to be performed, 1 John 2:17, 'He that doth the will of God endures for ever'? Having therefore all these riches by it, and as complete (as here it shall be), meet it is it should partake the benefit thereof, and live upon them now when it is single and alone, and in its widow's condition. And it is an opportune season, that by a glory given it for that holiness, this should now appear, that it was the soul which was the sole intrinsic and immediate receptive of all this holiness. This is the first. Add also,
Secondly, Its being the first and primitive subject of holiness, from which it is derivatively in the body.* Meet it was this soul should not be deferred, till the appurtenance of it be united to it, but be served first, and admitted into that glory ordained; and by having itself first possession given of that inheritance, the body might in its season be admitted derivatively thereinto from it, after that renewed union with it by the resurrection. Reason good, that look as in priority, grace, the preparation unto glory, was wrought, so, in that order of priority, glory itself should be communicated. And, therefore, seeing its fate is to abide a while alone, therefore first to enjoy, and drink both the juice and fruit of that vine it is the root of.
And (3.) it being in itself, when separate, as immediately capable of this glory, as when it shall be again united to the body. For what is the essential of glory, the substance of that life that swallows up all, but (as we said on ver. 4) God's immediate presence, and our knowing him face to face, as we are known? Now of this the apostle doth in these 6th, 7th, and 8th verses, expressly inform us, that the separate soul is not only capable thereof, but that it then begins to enjoy it: 'Therefore,' says he, 'we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.' Where, to be present with the Lord, and to live by sight, is expressly made the privilege of a soul absent from the body; which can mean no other state than that of the soul between the death of the body and the resurrection. For whilst it is present in the body afore death, it is absent from the Lord; and when it shall be present with the Lord, after the resurrection, it shall not then be any more absent from the body. This conjunction, therefore, of absent from the body and present with the Lord, falls out in no state else, but only in that interim or space of time between. Let us withal view this place in the light, by bringing the one to the other, which that passage, 1 Cor. 13:12, doth cast upon it: 'For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.' 'To see as in a glass darkly' there, is to 'walk by faith' here. But to see face to face, and to know God as we are known, (so there) is all one; and to attain to sight and be in Christ's presence (here). And to be sure, the body is in no estate whatever capable of knowing God as we are known of him. None durst ever affirm that. For besides that the spiritual knowledge of God is proper to an intellectual nature, further, so to know God, as God knows us, and so to be elevated to the similitude of God's understanding, is not communicable to the body. We may as well dare to affirm God himself to be a body, as that our bodies are capable of ever being raised up thus to know God. Hence, therefore, whether the soul be out of the body, as after death; or so in the body, as it shall be after the resurrection; yet still it is the soul that is immediately alone capable of that sight and knowledge of God. And therefore, seeing it depends not on the body, it is as well capable of it afore the resurrection without the body, as after the resurrection in the body.
Only this must be added, that whilst indeed the soul is at home in this body, this earthly tabernacle, it is not capable of the sight of the glory of God, i. e. as to continue in the body, and enjoy it; for it would crack this earthen vessel: as 1 Cor. 15:50, 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.' And although Paul, as a stander-by, was an over-hearer and an eye-witness, by way of revelation and vision, of what the spirits of just men in glory do enjoy, 2 Cor. 12; even as, on the contrary, the angels are often standers-by on earth, and overseers of us, what is therein done, as the phrase is, Zech. 3:7; yet he was not estated into it, or admitted a possessor thereof himself, no more than angels into an earthly estate, and therefore could not say whether the revelation vouchsafed him might not be in the body as well as out of it. Whereas God had otherwise long since peremptorily determined that question, that no man could see God and live; that is, at once continue in this body and see him face to face; and Paul here in my text also determines it, 'That whilst we are at home in the body (as now), we are absent from the Lord.' They are two incompatible estates. But still when that which thus lets (this body) is taken out of the way, the soul itself is sufficiently capable, as truly as ever it shall be.
But if this argument from these be yet judged not home enough, but short, then let us in the fourth place add what force the third premise will give to it, concerning the time of God's working on us, to drive all closer home; namely, that God hath wrought upon the soul in this life, all that ever he means to work, by way of preparation for glory. For this thing God hath wrought us, which though it might, with the enlargements and sub-arguments that now shall follow, be made an argument alone, yet I choose to cast it into this total, to make the whole the more strong.
Therefore (4.) gather up the demonstrations thus: If the soul be the immediate and first subject of grace, which is a preparation to glory, and capable of this glory, when out of the body; and God, the great agent or worker, hath wrought all that ever he means to work in it this way, by way of preparation to glory; then, as Peter said in the case of admitting the Gentiles to baptism, 'What should hinder that these souls should not be glorified instantly, when out of their bodies?' Acts 10:47. If indeed, as the papists and corrupted Jews and heathens have feigned, there were any work to be after wrought, a purgatory or the like, then a demur or caveat might yet be put in, to suspend this their admission into glory. But the contrary being the truth, then, &c. Now, the strength of the argument from this latter, superadded to the rest, stands upon two strong grounds.
First, If we consider what is common to God in this with all other but ordinary-wise efficients or workers that are intent upon their ends, which must be given to him, the only wise, all-powerful God. (who is here said as an efficient to work us for this end), when any ordinary efficient hath brought his work to a period, and done as much to such and such an end as he means to do, he delays not to accomplish his end, and bring it to execution, unless some overpowering impediment do lie in his way to it. If you have bestowed long and great cost upon any of your children to fit and prepare them for any employment, the university suppose, or other calling, do you then let these your children lie truants, idle and asleep at home, and not put them forth to that which you at first designed that their education unto? Will you suffer them in this case to lose their time? Do you know how to do good to your children, and doth not God? We see God doth thus in nature. We say, when the matter is as fully prepared as ever it shall be, that the forms enter without delay. Now grace is expressly termed a preparation to glory. Also God doth observe this in working of grace itself; when the soul is as folly humbled and emptied, and thereby prepared for the Lord by John Baptist's ministry as he means to prepare it, the work of justifying faith presently follows. In all his dispensations of judgments or mercies, he observes the same. When men's sins are at full (as of the Amorites), he stays not a moment to execute judgment; so in answering the faith of his people waiting on him for mercies. And thus it is for glory: 'I have glorified thee on earth' (the only place and condition of our glorifying God), 'I have finished the work thou gavest me to do; and now' (what now, and presently now remains there, follows) 'glorify me,' &c. Thus spake Christ our pattern.
Secondly, There is this further falls out in this case and condition of such a soul, as doth indeed call for this out of a kind of necessity, and not of congruity only; for whereas by God's ordination there are two ways of communion with him, and but two unto all eternity,—either that of faith, which we have at present, or of sight, which is for hereafter,—into these two the apostle resolves all God's dispensations to us; ver. 7 of this chapter, 'We walk by faith' (namely, in this life), 'not by sight;' and again, 1 Cor. 13:13, 'Now we see in a glass, then face to face.' These two, now and then, do divide the dispensations for eternity of time to come. The like in Peter, 1 Epist. 1:8, 'In whom, though now you see him not' (as you one day shall), 'yet believing.' If, therefore, when the soul goes out of the body, that way of communion by God utterly ceaseth, 2 Cor. 13:8–13, that door and passage will be quite shut up, God having, 2 Thes. 2:11, John 6:28, fulfilled all the work of faith (the work of God) with power that ever he intended, then surely sight must succeed according to God's ordination, or otherwise this would inevitably follow, that the soul would be for that interim, until the resurrection, out off from all communion with God whatever, having yet all its acquired holiness of sanctification abiding in it, and righteousness accompanying of it all that while. Look, therefore, as a child hath two, and but two ways of living, and when the one ceaseth the other succeeds, or death would follow,—in the womb it lives by nourishment from the navel, without so much as breathing at the mouth; but it no sooner comes into the world but that former means is cut off, and it liveth by breath, and taking in nourishment by the mouth, or it must instantly die,—so stands the case with the soul here between faith and sight; so that we must either affirm that the soul dies to all spiritual actings and communions with God until the resurrection, which those Scriptures so much do contradict: John 9:51, and 11:26, 'He that believeth hath everlasting life, &c., and shall never' (no, not for a moment) 'die.' And in those promises it is not simply a sluggish immortality, but to live, and act, and enjoy God, which is our life, must needs be meant; or we must on the other side affirm that the life of faith ceasing, and God yet having that way wrought all that ever he intended, that then sight of God face to face must come in its place, which indeed the apostle in that 1 Cor. 13 affirms in saying, ver. 10, 'When that which is perfect is come, then that which is but in part is done away.' There is not an utter ceasing of the imperfect, and then an interval or long space of time to come between, and then that which is perfect is to come, but the imperfect is done away by the very coming of that which is thus perfect; and in the 12th verse he explains himself, that the imperfect is this our seeing now in a glass darkly, that is, by faith, and that perfect to be that seeing God face to face, as that which presently entertains us in that other world. Nay, the apostle admits not so much as a moment of cessation, but says that the imperfect is done away, ver. 10, and vanisheth, as ver. 8, by the coming in of the perfect upon it, and so the imperfect, namely faith, is swallowed up in perfect, namely sight.
And then further, if we thus grant, as we must, this separate soul to have this sight, or nothing now left it to enjoy God any way by, then it can be no other than glory it is admitted unto; for the sight of God face to face, and to know as we are known, is the very essence of glory is it differs from faith. Neither is that ultimate enjoyment or happiness in God which souls shall have after the resurrection any other in name or thing than the sight of God as it is thus distinguished from faith, although it shall be then raised and intended unto far higher degrees of perfection.
And for a conclusion of this first point, that which follows in that place lately cited out of 1 Peter 1:9, 'Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls,' may as fitly serve for the confirmation of all these latter foregoing notions, as to any other sense interpreters have affixed.
I am aware how these words, 'receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls,' are interpreted of that joy unspeakable and full of glory, which the verse afore had spoken, that many saints through believing do in this life enjoy, as being salvation imperfect, and the earnest of it in the same and, and so a part of the reward of faith received in hand, as we say, or aforehand, and vouchsafed over and above the ordinary way of living by faith. This interpretation I no way gainsay, nor will go about to exclude, for I know it doth consist with that other I am about to give, and is subordinate to it; and I have learned to take the most comprehensive sense the Holy Ghost may be supposed to aim at in any scripture; but if this sense should directly alone obtain, yet by consequence, and at the rebound, it doth strongly argue the point in hand; for if whilst faith continues God is pleased to vouchsafe the soul through believing such joys, much more when faith ceaseth he will vouchsafe the same soul a fuller enjoyment of himself at the ending of faith; for why else are these present joys termed salvation, and that as distinct from that right to salvation, which otherwise faith at all times estates us into, but for this, that these joys are an entrance into, and a taking possession of, glory, over and above what ordinary faith giveth? and therefore they have the name given them as being the earnest of the same kind, unto that greater sum is to be paid, as in all contrasts it useth to be, at the end of that performance on one part, which end is when faith ends; and so that is made the set date or time when this full payment is to begin, which this earnest aforehand bindeth God unto.
And it were hard to suppose that God would give such a part of these joys, even whilst faith continues, for so long a time as until the resurrection, and then withdraw all communication of himself, both in joy and faith also. But I leave the prosecution of this argument till I come to those words, 'Who hath also given us the earnest of the Spirit.'
I also know that by this phrase, 'the salvation of our souls,' the soul being the eminent part of man, is often in Scripture, by a synecdoche, put for the whole person. And I must not deny but that ultimately it is intended here, it extending itself to the whole of salvation, first and last, after faith ended; which sense, on the other hand, many interpreters are for.
I only contend for this, that the salvation of the soul is intended also of that salvation which falls out in the midst between these joys, the earnest in this life, and that ultimate salvation at the resurrection; that is, the salvation of the soul, while separate, as being the next. It hath a weight in it, that salvation and damnation should so often be said to be of the soul by Christ himself; as Mat. 26:16, 'What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world' (and so provide for his body), 'and lose his own soul?' And again, in speaking of the soul as considered apart from the body, Mat. 10:28, 'Fear not them that are able to kill but the body, and are not able to kill the soul.' But that which is more conjunct to my purpose; it is observable that this our apostle Peter should choose to use in this epistle, more than any other apostle, this phrase of soul in relation to salvation, either as being the eminent subject, and sometimes as the single subject, both of grace and salvation. So in this chapter, 'You have purified your souls,' &c., as the immediate susceptive of the incorruptible seed, as was observed. Then again, in chap. 2:11, 'Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;' and 2:25, 'Ye are returned to the Bishop of your souls;' which he speaks as being the eminent part, and (upon separation from the body) the special charge he hath pastoral care of. And more directly to our purpose, chap. 4:19, he exhorts them, when they come to die, 'to commit their souls to God,' as then being to be separate from their bodies. Now, it were hard to think that this salvation to come should bear the title and name of the 'salvation of the soul' in this and other scriptures, Heb. 10:39, James 5:20; and that yet when this soul shall in the other world come to subsist for a long time single and alone, and then be properly and without figure; a mere soul without a body, a lonesome soul; that during that state it should not be the subject of this salvation, and so intended here, when more properly and literally, if ever, it is the salvation of the soul. And it would be yet more strange that the phrase 'salvation of the soul' should be wholly restrained unto that estate of the soul when remitted to the body at resurrection, and only unto that; and that word the soul, should serve only synecdochically as a part put to signify the whole man, as then it is to be raised up. But especially it were strangest of all if it should be confined and limited in this place of Peter, wherein this salvation of the soul is set forth for the comfort of such as were to lay down their tabernacles of their bodies for Christ (as this Peter speaks of himself in the next epistle), and whose faith was then to cease with their lives, whose expectations therefore he would in this case certainly pitch upon that salvation of the soul next, which is this of the soul separate. To confirm all which,
That which further invited me to this place was this phrase, 'The end of your faith,' especially upon the consideration that he speaks it unto such Christians who in these times were (as he foretells, chap. 4:4) shortly to be martyred, and at present were sorely tried (verse 7 of this chapter, and in the last verse of the fourth). He thereupon instructeth and exhorteth them to commit their soul, when they die, to be kept by God. And so understood in a proper and literal sense, this salvation of their souls is in all respects termed the end of their faith.
First, In that it is the next and immediate event that faith ends and determines in, as death is said to be the end of life; so noting forth, that when faith ends, this salvation of the soul begins and succeeds it. The end of a thing signifies the immediate event, issue, period thereof. As of wicked men it is said, 'Whose end is destruction,' Philip. 3 and Heb. 10:39. Apostasy and unbelief are said to be a 'drawing back unto perdition,' And, on the contrary, there faith is termed a 'believing to the salvation of the soul.' And both note out the final event and consequent of each, and salvation of the soul to be the end of faith, when men continue and go on to believe, until their faith arrive at and attaineth this salvation of the soul. To this sense also Rom. 6:22, 'You have your fruit in holiness, and the end everlasting life.' And the apostle Peter having in the foregoing verses celebrated the fruits and workings of their faith in this life, as is supporting them gloriously under the sorest trials, ver. 7; and then sometimes filling their hearts with joy unspeakable and glorious, ver. 8; he here at last concludeth with what will be the end or issue of it in that other life, when faith itself shall cease; and what it is that then they shall receive: 'Receiving' (after all this) 'the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls;' Κομιζόμενοι, in the present, by a frequent and usual enallage of time, being put for the future. For ye shall receive (or being about to receive), to shew the certainty of it, that when faith shall end you may be sure on it, even of that salvation (that great salvation, so spoken of by the prophets, ver. 10) of your souls, which, as it hath no end to be put unto it as faith hath, so no interruption or space of time to come between, during which your souls should not be actually saved. A salvation of your souls singly (whilst through death they shall so exist), as well as of the same souls primarily, and more eminently, when both soul and body shall be reunited.
2. The end of your faith, that is, of your aims and expectations in your faith; the end importing the aim or expectation, which is also proper and a literal sense of that word. And upon this account also the salvation of the soul, when they should die, that being the very next thing their eyes must needs be upon, is therefore here intended.
And 3. 'The end of your faith,' that is, as being that for which the great God, who 'keep us by his power through faith unto salvation,' ver. 5, hath wrought this faith in you. Accordingly we find it termed 'the work of faith,' 1 Thes. 1:3; which, when God hath fully wrought, and brought to that degree he aimed at in this life, or, to use the apostle's own expression of it, 2 Thes. 1:11, when God hath fulfilled the work of faith with power, he then crowneth it with this salvation of the soul without end; as James speaks of patience, when it hath had its perfect work, chap. 1:4, compared with ver. 12. And so speaks my text, for 'this self-same thing he hath wrought us.' And therefore, when this faith shall cease which he wrought for this, he will attain his end without delay. And you, says he, shall attain your end also; and faith thus ceasing, if this salvation of the soul did not succenturiate and recruit it anew, the end of this faith were wholly and altogether present destructive loss unto the soul in its well-being until the resurrection.
4. The end signifies the perfection and consummation of anything,* as Christ is said to be the 'end of the law,' Rom. 10:4; and so the meaning is, that your, faith, which is but 'an imperfect knowing God,' shall then, when it ceaseth, be swallowed up of sight, which is all one with that salvation here, tanquam perfectibile, a perfection, as that which is imperfect is said to be by that which is perfect, 1 Cor. 13:10. Thus much for the literal and proper import of the word end.
Now then, if we take the word end in its proper meaning, and the word soul likewise in its native proper meaning, also which sense in reason should be first served, when the scope will bear it, then it makes for that purpose more fitly which we have had in hand.
That nothing may be wanting in this last place cited to make up all the particulars in the foregoing sections insisted on, so it is that the apostle Peter doth further plainly insinuate that this salvation here consisteth in the sight and vision of Christ (which was one particular afore mentioned), accompanied with 'joy unspeakable and glorious.' The coherence, if observed, makes this forth clearly; for whereas in the verse immediately foregoing, he had commended their present state of faith by this, 'Whom now though you see not, yet believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious,' that 'now you see not' (in this life) is get in opposition, and carries a promise with it of a time to come, wherein they should see, even as Christ said to his disciples, John 13:33 and 36 compared, 'Whither I go, I now say to you, 'ye cannot come; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.' So here now believing (which is the principle at the present which you live upon), you see him not; but when the end of your faith shall come, you shall then see him; and in this it is consisteth the salvation of your soul. So that still it carries on what I have afore spoken unto, that when faith ceaseth, sight cometh; yea, perfects and swallows it up, as was said even now out of 1 Cor. 13:10.
And let me add this, that the apostle on purpose doth bring the mention of this supereminent fruit of faith, 'Even now when we see not,' that 'believing, ye yet rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious.' On purpose, I say, to make way for the raising up their thoughts and apprehensions, how infinitely transcending that salvation of their souls must be when, faith ending, they attain to sight, to see him face to face whom their souls have loved. It is implicitly as if he had said unto them, 'Oh think with yourselves what joy, what glory that must needs be, which exceedeth and surpasseth this that now accompanies your faith, in an answerable proportion, as much as sight of Christ's presence, and face to face, must be supposed to excel the knowledge of him by faith, which sees him but as absent darkly!
And further, give me leave to improve this notion. You may take this assured evidence, that your souls shall then see and enjoy God when your faith shall cease, which will be when once your souls shall come to be separate from your bodies by death; in that even now, in this life, it is your souls and spirits that are the immediate receptives, or partakers and subjects of such glorious joys.
The soul enjoys them, though in the body, yet without the help or concurrence of the body, or the phantasms of it; yea, such raptures do 'pass understanding,' that is, the common way of understanding, which by the use and help of the body, or images in the fancy, the mind exerciseth in other things, and which do concur with the understanding ordinarily in faith. But this joy falls into and is illapsed within the soul itself immediately; yea, the weakness of your bodies and bodily spirits will not permit you to have so much of this joy as otherwise the soul is now capable of by faith. And therefore by this experimental taste aforehand in your own souls, you may be ascertained that your souls, when separate from your bodies by death, as well as when united again unto their bodies, shall enjoy this great salvation.
And thus much for the first point raised out of the words, which did undertake an argumentation for a separate soul's glory and happiness. (1.) From the condition of the soul, as the immediate subject of grace wrought in it. (2.) From God's ordination of the work wrought, to raise the soul up to life, whilst sin should bring dissolution upon the body. (3.) From the scope of the worker, God himself, who as an efficient will accomplish the end, when his work for that end is finished. And all these, as comprehended in what the very first view and front of the words of my text hold out, 'God hath wrought us for the self-same thing.'
But, lo! a greater matter is here. It is not simply said, God hath wrought us for this, but 'He that hath wrought us for this thing is God;' thereby calling upon us to consider how great an hand or efficient is here, even God, who hath discovered in a transcendent manner his glory, in the ordaining and contriving of this work unto this great end. Take it not, therefore, as a bare demonstration given from God's working us to this end, such as is common to other agents, as hath been said. But further, a celebration of the greatness and glory of God, in his having contrived this with so high an hand, like unto the great God; and is as if he had said, There is a design in this worthy of God; he hath shewn himself in this to be the great God indeed. 'He that hath wrought us for this is God.'
When God's ordinary works are spoken of, it sufficeth himself to say, God did thus, or this; but when God's works of wonder, then often you find such an illustrious note of reflection upon, and pointing at him, to have done as God. And it is ordinary among men, when you would commend the known worth of the artist, to say, He that wrought this is such a man, so to commend the workmanship.
And thus both when the Holy Ghost speaks of this glory itself, which is the end, for which here his style is, 'Whose maker and builder is God,' Heb. 11:10; and in like equipage here of preparation to that end, he saith, 'He that hath wrought us for this thing is God.' In this very chapter, 2 Cor. 5, to go no further, when the great work of salvation in the whole of it is spoken of, he prefaceth thus to it, 'All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself,' &c.; that is, in this transaction he hath appeared like that God of whom all things else are, and so more eminently in this than in all, or at least, any other work. What there is said of salvation in the whole, is here of that particular salvation of a separate soul. You have the like emphasis put, Heb. 2:10, of bringing many sons to glory. 'It became him,' says the text. Now, put all together, and the result is,
The second point.
That to have provided a glory for separate souls of just men, wrought upon in this life, is a dispensation becoming the great God, yea, and that there is an artifice and coutrivement therein worthy of God, and like unto himself, such as he hath shewed in other his works of wonder.
There are two branches of this doctrine, which I set otherwise out thus:
1. That it is a thing becoming the great God, thus to deal with such a separate soul, having been wrought upon.
2. That God hath designed, and brings forth therein, a glorious artifice and contrivement, such as argue him a God wise in counsel, and wonderful is working.
1. First branch of this second doctrine, that it becomes God.
The account of this becomingness is best made forth by comparing and bringing together into an interview, both the inward and outward condition of such a soul, and then the relations which God bears to it, such as should thereupon move him through his good pleasure thus to deal with it.
You know I at first undertook chiefly reasons of congruity or becomingness, and such always consist of two parts; and when the one answereth and suiteth to the other, then the harmony of such a reason is made up.
Let us therefore consider,
I. What is on the soul's part.
II. What is on God's part.
I. On the soul's part.
Therein two things.
(1.) The species, the kind, and intrinsecal rank of being, which this creature we call the soul thus wrought upon stands in afore God.
(2.) The outward condition or case this soul is left in upon its parting with the body, unless God takes it up into glory.
(1.) First, For its rank or kind of being.
Therein two things.
[1.] This soul was by its first creation a spirit, and that in the substance or native kind thereof, and in that respect, considered apart for its union with the body, it in a more special manner allied unto God, than all other creatures, but angels, are.
You have the pedigree of man, both in respect of body and soul, set out, Acts 17; the extract of our bodies, in ver. 26, 'He hath made of one blood all nations of men.' So then on that side, as we say, in respect of our bodies, there is a consanguinity of all men, being made of one blood, between one another: but then in respect of our souls, we are God's offspring, ver. 28, and so on that side there is an alliance, not of consanguinity, unto God, upon the account of having been created immediately by him, and in the very substance of our souls made like him, and in his image; and yet we are not begotten of his essence or substance, which is only proper to his great Son. And in a correspondency unto this, God is styled, Heb. 12:9, 'the Father of our spirits,' in distinction from the fathers of our flesh or bodies (see the words); which alliance or fatherhood, take it as in common with all men's spirits, lieth in this, that he not only created our souls immediately out of nothing, but in his own image, as to the substance of them; which image or likeness other creatures did not bear, which yet were made out of nothing, as the chaos was; both which appear by putting two places together: Zech. 12:1, 'He frameth their spirits,' speaking of the souls of men, and that altogether, saith the psalmist, Ps. 33:15; so Ainsworth and others read it, that is, both, each of those spirits, and also wholly and totally, every whit of the substance of them. Creatio est productio totius entis; for creation differs from generation in this, that it is a raising up or producing the whole of a being out of mere nothing, that is to say, altogether, whereas generation presupposeth pre-existent matter; as in the generation of our bodies, which are not wholly and every whit of God immediately, but the parents afford the matter, and the formative virtue besides, by which our bodies we framed. So then, in respect of our first creation, our souls, apart considered, are thus allied to God, to which our bodies are not; being spirits in the very being of them, that altogether do owe that their being to him.
But there is a taint-come upon the souls of all men by sin, so as this alliance is thereby worn out, yea, forfeited, until it be restored. Now, therefore, these souls, the only subject of our discourse, being such as God hath wrought, and so are become his workmanship by a new and far nobler creation, and thereby created spirit anew, according to what Christ says, 'That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.' Hereupon these souls are spirit, upon a double account. As you say of sugar, it is double-refined, so this is now become a spiritual spirit, or spirit spiritualised and sublimated; yea, and thereby the inward sanctuary, the holy of holies, the seat of God's most spiritual worship, Rom. 7:22, 25, which the body is not, but only as it is the outward temple or instrument of this new-made spirit.
And hereupon that original affinity to God of spirit, is not only restored, but endeared, for now there is both the stuff, or the ground-work, and then the workmanship, or embroidery upon it, and both of them the works of God; that so look as the gold wrought upon commends the enamel, and then again the enamel enhanceth the value of the gold, so as both are considered in the price, so it is here with this soul wrought by God in both respects.
[2.] Secondly, consider we now again the case and outward condition of such a soul, that of itself would fall out to it upon the dissolution of the body.
1. It fails of all sorts of comforts it had in and by its union with the body in this world: Luke 16:9, 'When you fail,' says Christ, speaking, of death; it is your city phrase when any of you break, and perhaps are thereby driven into another kingdom, as the soul now is.
2. Then, if ever, a man's flesh and his heart fails, Ps. 73:26.
3. And, which is worse, a man's faith faileth or ceaseth after death, and all his spiritual knowledge as in this life; it is the express phrase used 1 Cor. 13 at the 8th verse, and which is prosecuted to the end of that chapter; and so all that communion it had with God in this life is cut off. It is of all creatures left the most destitute and forlorn, if God provides not.
4. And yet, fourthly, it is now upon death, which it never was afore, immediately brought into the presence of God. Naked soul comes afore naked God: Eccles. 12:7, 'Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God that gave it.' It is put out of home and home, and turned upon its Father again.
This as to the soul's condition.
II. God's part.
This is a special season for God to shew his love to such a soul, if ever afore or after; an opportunity such as falls not out, neither afore, whilst it was in the body, nor after, when it is united to the body again at the resurrection. If ever, therefore, he means to shew a respect unto a poor soul, which is his so near kindred and alliance, it must be done now. We read, in Ps. 73:26, 'My flesh and my heart faileth' (as at death to be sure it doth), 'but God is the strength of my heart,' both in this life and at death, to support me, 'and my portion for ever;' in the life to come without any interruption or vacant space of time, as that ever imports. And that David spake this with an eye unto the glory to come, when heart, and flesh, and all in this world he foresaw would fail him, is evident by what he had immediately meditated in the words afore, ver. 24, 'Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel;' so in this life, and afterwards (that being ended), shall receive me unto glory. The contemplation whereof makes him cry out again, ver. 25, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee?' for all things else will fail me one day, when my flesh utterly fails me also. And 'there is none upon earth,' where he had at present many comforts and comforters, 'in comparison of thee.' You see God is the portion of the whole of his time, even for ever, as ver. 26; and his estate in heaven and earth divide that time and portion between them, and no middle state between both; but when the one ceaseth the other begins, for between them two mast be the for ever; and when all fail him which he had on earth, then God alone becomes his happiness in heaven. But this only in general shews what God is and will be to a soul in this condition.
But I having undertaken to proceed by way of congruity, I must further more particularly shew how, in a correspondency to this inward and outward state of this soul, he shews himself God, and how meet and becoming a thing it is for God to receive it into glory, upon the consideration of many relations which he professedly beareth to such a soul.
1. God is a Spirit; and thereupon in a special manner, as Wisdom 11:26, the Lord is a lover of souls above all his other creation. So it is there, 'Thou art merciful to all because they are thine, O Lord, thou lover of souls.' 'God is a Spirit;' when, therefore, this naked and withal sublimated spirit, by its being born again by his own Spirit, and so assimilated to God himself, a pure spark now freed and severed from its dust and ashes, flying up (or is carried rather by spirits, the angels, out of their like spiritual love to it as a spirit, Luke 26:22, Heb. 1:14) unto that great Spirit, that element of spirits, it will surely find union and coalition with him, and be taken up unto him; for if, as Christ speaks, John 4:23, God being a Spirit, therefore seeks for such as worship in spirit and truth, that is, he loves, delights in such, as a man doth in a companion or friend who suits him. And doth God seek for such whilst they are on earth? Then surely when such spirits shall come to him, and have such a grand occasion, and indeed the first occasion, in such an immediate way to appear before him in such a manner and upon such a change as this, as they never did before, these spirits also having been the seat, the inner temple, of all this spiritual worship and sanctifying of him in this world, surely God, who sought such afore, will now take them into his bosom and glory. We also read, Isa. 57:16, 17, of the regard he bears to persons of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive them upon this superadded consideration, that they are souls and spirit, and so thereby allied to him, the lofty One. Hear how in this case he utters himself: 'The spirit would fail afore me,' says he, 'and the souls which I have made.' He speaks of their very souls properly and respectively considered, and them it is which he [is] considering, and it moves him unto pity; for he speaks of that in man whereof God is in a peculiar manner the Maker or Creator: 'The spirit which I have made,' says he; and it is one of the eminent titles he takes into his coat, 'The framer of the spirit of man within him,' Zech. 1:12, as in many other places. This is argued also, in that he speaketh of that in man which is the subject sensible of his immediate wrath: 'I will not contend for ever, nor will I be always wroth.' (This I have observed in what is public of mine.*) Now, what moves him to remove his wrath from such an one? 'The spirit would fail,' says he. Now, doth God thus profess to have a regard to them in this life, and that upon this account, that they are spirits, lest they should fail or faint, and shall we not think that when indeed otherwise they do fail (as after death you have heard even now Christ himself expresseth they would), and would, upon all these considerations before mentioned, sink into utter desolation, unless they were received into everlasting habitations, as Christ there also speaks, do we think that God will not now entertain them? The time is now come, the full time to have pity on them.
2. God at this season forgets not, but full well remembers, his relation of being their Creator, both by the new and also first creation, the new reviving and ingratiating the remembrance of the first. 'The souls which I have made,' said he in Isaiah. But in St Peter this is more express, and mentioned as that which indeed moves God, and should be accordingly a support to our faith, to take care of our souls when we come to die, even upon this account, that he is the faithful Creator of them: 1 Peter 4:19, 'Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.' He speaks this specially unto such as were continually exposed unto persecution unto death for Christ in those primitive times; which therefore, ver. 12, he terms the 'fiery trial,' and, ver. 17, forewarns them of a 'time of judgment' was begun, and going on upon the house of God, such as they had not yet felt; who yet, Heb. 10:32–34, had suffered reproach and spoiling of their goods, as Peter writes to the same Jews; hereupon Peter pertinently instructs them to commit the keeping of their souls unto God. At death you know it is that when men's bodies are destroyed, and so the season when their souls to be separated therefrom should be committed to God's care; as our darling (as our translation) or lovely soul, when separate, as others,* as Christ in David speaks, Ps. 22. And Peter had in his eye Christ's example, and pointed them thereunto, who at his death committed his separate soul or spirit into the hands of God, παραθήσομαι, Luke 23:46; and the word commit is one and the same in both these places, only there is this difference, that whereas Christ says, 'Father, I commit,' Peter substitutes another title of God's (there being more than one relation moving God, and strengthening our faith to this), even of 'faithful Creator.' And I understand not the first creation only or chiefly here meant by Peter, but the second creation chiefly, which brings into repute and acceptation with God the first again together with its own; and so God is thereupon engaged to be faithful in his care and provision for such souls, according to his promises. And faithfulness doth always respect and refer unto promises; and my reason why thus I understand it is, because I find God's faithfulness still annexed unto his calling of us, that is, converting as, which is all one with this new creation: 'Faithful is he that hath called you,' that is, made you new creatures, 1 Cor. 1:9, 1 Thes. 5:24; and I find that David also urges it upon God as a motive, as in other psalms, so Ps. 138:8, 'Forsake not the works of thine own hands;' that is, this double workmanship of thine, of the first, and then, superadded unto that, of the second creation, which he urgeth thereby to move him to perfect the work began, and to be merciful unto him for ever, in the former part of that verse.
3. God professeth himself the Father of spirits; which relation, though it speaks his being the Creator of them at the first, yet hath something more of bowels in it. It says withal something further, when it falls out that such spirits as he is a Father unto by the first creation, are also the subjects of his eternal love, by grace and election unto the adoption of children, as Eph. 1:3–5; see the words. Which love having accordingly taken hold of their souls by a work of grace wrought upon them in this life, thereby owning them as his in this case, that God, that is a Father of their spirits by the law of the first creation, is in a more transcendent manner become the Father of the same spirits by grace, and the second creation superadded. Hence it falls out, in a parallel way, that (as it was said) such souls were become spirit upon a double account; that is, spirits for the substance of their being, and again spirit by being born again of the Spirit; so answerably it is that God stands in relation unto them as a Father of their spirits upon the like double respect. And this is equitable upon a very great account; for his relation of Father is more eminent to his grace by election, and then again by the grace of his second creation, than it could be any way supposed to be by the first creation, and therefore is set and pitched in like singularity and eminency upon the same object; that is, their spirits. And hence it may well, yea, must be supposed and acknowledged, that if God did make such a darling of the soul, such an account of it by creation, as to entitle himself so specially the Father thereof, then certainly this love of grace much more hath in like equipage taken up the same gracious special relation in its kind of father thereunto; not only because nature shall never be found to exceed grace in its favours, but that indeed the motives are far greater that God should extend the like and greater privileges where he meant to love by election and choice, than he did where he loved only by a due and meet law of creation. So that when God shall profess himself a Father to their spirits, speaking to such as are his elect, he strongly insinuateth thereby that he is by grace likewise the Father of their spirits in a peculiar manner. And truly that speech of our Saviour at his death confirms it, 'Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.' It was not barely as a Father of his spirit by creation (as you all know), but by everlasting love, and so in that respect also in a peculiar manner the Father of his spirit, and therefore as to a Father he commends his separate spirit unto him. And this he did, although he was to rise again in less than three whole days' space.
Now we read, Heb. 12:12, the apostle to hold forth this very relation of God's being a Father of spirits, with this promise thereunto annexed, that they should live; which relation of father, &c., although it be there explicitly spoken in respect of their first creation (which is common unto the saints with others), yet being uttered of and unto men in the state of grace (as those were supposed whom he there exhorteth, and that to move them to be subject unto him as such, with promise that they should live), it evidently respecteth not merely the relation of Father in respect of what was past, the act of creating them, but it looketh to the future; that they depended upon him (as children do upon fathers for their future livelihood, so these) for to live in him and with him as a Father to their spirits by grace; for I take hold of that word and live. This life is well interpreted by ver. 14, 'They shall see God;' that is, be glorified; and so I conclude all thus, that if he would have them be subject unto God in holiness as upon that relation, as unto the Father of spirits, with this promise, that they should live, then surely one special aim of the promise is answerable, and hath this eye, that God, as a Father of their spirits, will therefore take care of their spirits singly, and so, when separate, that they shall live; and that, accordingly, he will give demonstration of this special relation borne to their spirits (when the occasion shall be), considered apart in bestowing this life on them. And truly when is it more proper for him to shew himself as a Father, than when their souls, after their subjection to him in holiness here accomplished, and when that, as naked spirits, they come to stand is need, and stand afore him in his presence, being now turned out of house and home, and quite cashiered out of this world, and come stripped and naked of all but holiness unto their Father (for it is said they return to God that gave them), who proves to be their Father by grace? And doubt not of it but he will certainly then own them, and give them a Father's blessing, and not reject them as if they were but bastards, and no children (as that chapter to the Hebrews speaks), but as spirits, who as sons have served him, and been subject to him.
Add to this, fourthly, God his being our God, which is more home to the demonstration of this point than all the former. The text says, He that wrought us for this is God. I add, he is your God. And this alone, if we will take the Scripture's verdict, will carry it; and lo, as he is styled the Father of spirits in common, and yet withal a Father of their spirits out of special love, so in like manner he is styled both 'the God of the spirits of all flesh' (that is, of man, Job 12:20, thus in common), and also to his elect, 'I am your God by grace,' Numb. 16:22. And these two relations, God and Father, are commensurate, and exactly parallel, whether they be applied unto all men in common, or to the elect in special. He is termed the God of the spirits, and likewise the Father of the spirits of all men; so in common. Answerably he is your God and your Father, by special grace to his elect; both which in this latter respect you find yoked hand in hand, John 20:17. Look how far he is a God of the one, so far a Father also extendeth in the other. And look how far that he is our God, so far reacheth also that he is our Father. If, therefore, the God of our spirits, to provide for them because he is our God, then answerably the Father of our spirits in the like peculiarness because our Father. And so the proof of this fourth particular will add further strength and confirmation to that we presented in the former.
Now that his being our God (which is the substance of the covenant of grace) doth engage him to provide glory for separate souls, that one instance of Abraham (the father of the faithful, and we all his sons personated in him) is a sufficient evidence. God did profess himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and unto Abraham, Gen. 15:1, personally, 'I am thy abundant reward' (which respected the life to come), and his friend, 2 Chron. 20:7.
Now the Scriptures of the New Testament do improve this relation of God's unto as unto two inferences drawn from Abraham's instance, whereof the one is the point afore us.
1. The first is Christ's inference from thence, that therefore Abraham's soul lives, and Abraham, both soul and body, shall rise again, for God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, Mat. 22:31. Thus Christ.
2. Paul's collection from the same promise is, that God had provided in the mean time for Abraham's soul afore the resurrection a city, and an house therein for him. Thus Heb. 11:16, 'But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.' To give light to this, Paul had represented the story and case of Abraham, and the rest of the patriarchs, in the verses afore, to have been this: that God had indeed promised the land of Canaan to him and them, ver. 8, 9, whereupon, ver. 13, it is said that these all died in faith, not having received the promises, being strangers in the land; yea, not having a foot of land in the land of promise, as Stephen speaks, Acts 7:5–7, and also Paul in the 9th verse of this Heb. 11. Now then, when they died, what was it their faith expected instead thereof? The 10th verse tells us, 'He looked for a city whose maker and builder is God.' From which, compared, observe that when he died, his faith was thus pitched to look for this city instead of that land of Canaan promised. This was the expectation of their faith on their part. Well, but how doth it appear that this flowed from God's having professed himself to be the God of Abraham, &c., his reward and his friend? You have this clear in the 16th verse, where you have the whole summed up as the conclusion of the story, and as the proof and ground hereof; but now 'they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly.' There is their faith and expectation when they should come to die. Then it follows, 'Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city;' which spoken in full answer to that their expectation at their deaths, to shew that God, in professing himself to be their God, he had thereby engaged himself, according to his own intent in that promise, to make this provision for them at their death. The words are express, 'Wherefore God is not ashamed.' What should this mean in this coherence, but that his declaring himself to be their God did import and carry this with it, that he had provided this estate for them at their death, even an heavenly; and that otherwise (as the apostle glosseth upon it) he had not come up unto the amplitude of, nor filled full this covenanted engagement and profession of his being their God. Will you have it in plain English (as we speak)? If he had not made this provision for their souls, he would have been ashamed to have bean called their God. Thus deeply doth this oblige him, that he is our God and Father, which is the point in hand.
And judge of this in the light of all that reason we have hitherto carried along; and again, let this inference of the apostle mutually serve to confirm us in all that reason. For poor Abraham to be driven out of his own country by God, who called him to his foot, and said no more, but as a master to his servant, Take your cloak and follow me (who must presently, without more ado, trig, and foot it after his master), as Isa. 41:2, and then to live a stranger in the land of promise, upon the faith that God would be his God, which faith in him was also to cease when he came to die. If this God in this case should not have taken care to answer his faith in some greater way, instead of the possession of Canaan; and that after, upon his being turned out of that country too, which he sojourned in during this life; if God had not provided another house, or country, or city for his soul, that was to live, to bring it into, when it should be deprived of all in this world: the apostle tells us, God (in this case) would have been ashamed to have been called his God, which now, having provided so abundantly for him upon dying, there is superabundant cause to say, God is not ashamed, for that is a diminutive, implying that he infinitely exceedeth that their expectation could be supposed to be.
Let us but view the force of this inference of the apostle's (and so of all the reasonings hitherto read), but according to man, or what is found amongst men (and God will be sure infinitely to surpass men in his ways of favour). Take an ordinary friend, if his friend be turned out of house and home, plundered, banished, driven out of all, as the steward in that parable, Luke 16, was, and comes to his friend at midnight, as in that other parable, Luke 11:5, 6, will not his friends entertain him into their houses, as ver. 9 of Luke 16, yea, and rise at midnight to do it; as ver. 5, 6, in that parable of Luke 11? Shall profession of friendship engage and oblige men to do this, and shall not God's professing himself to be our God, Father, Friend, engage his heart much more? Nay, will he not so entertain them as shall exceed all wonderment? What need I say more than this? Wherefore, 'He is not ashamed to be called their God.' He will therefore give you an entertainment that shall be worthy of his being your God.
The fifth and last consideration is, that these separate souls having done and finished all their work, that in order to glory, God hath appointed them for ever to do, they now at death appear afore him as a judge and rewarder; and that is the fifth relation moving God to bestow at this season such a glory on them. How that then the soul returns to God, you have heard again and again out of Eccles. 12:7; and that it is upon the account of his being the judge thereof at the end of their work in this life, the Chaldee paraphrase hath long since glossed upon it, 'It returns to God, that it may stand in judgment afore him.' In this life it came unto God by faith, as the apostle speaks, 'Believing that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,' Heb. 11:6; and now at the end of its faith, it comes unto God for the reward of its faith, as some interpret that 1 Peter 1:9, which we so largely have insisted on. This is certain, that in that promise to Abraham to be his God, he intended and included his being to him 'an exceeding great reward,' Gen. 15:1. And so we come to connect this fifth head with the foregoing. And, therefore, if the being his God moved him to prepare that city against his death, as hath been said, then surely his being his reward doth also then take place. I shall not omit it, because it falls in the next chapter, Heb. 12:23, that in that stupendous assembly of heaven, 'God the judge of all' is mentioned between 'the church of the first-born which are written in heaven,' this afore, 'and the spirits of justified men made perfect,' this after it; for there are none of these first-born, or the spirits of just men, do come to sit down there, but they pass the award of this judge first, for they sit down by him; and surely, having done all their work in the time of that day is allotted to each man to work in, it is a righteous thing with God to give them a reward in the evening of this day (which is Christ's time set for rewarding, and it is the twelfth and last hour, succeeding the eleventh of the day, Mat. 20:6 and 9 compared), which is when the night of death comes.* Now there is a law given by God, that the wages to a man hired should be given him (by him that set him awork) in his day; that is, says the Septuagint, the very same day, so as his work, or the wages of his work, 'abide not with thee all the night until the morning,' says God, Deut. 24:15. Did God take care for hirelings, when their work was done, not to stay any space of time, no, not a night, and doth he not fulfil this himself unto his sons that serve him? Surely yes, he defers not, nor puts them off to the morning of the resurrection, as the psalmist elegantly calls it, Ps. 17:15. It abides not with him all that dark and longsome night, or space after death, in which their bodies rest in the grave, which is termed 'man's long home,' Eccles. 12:5, and 'the days of darkness are many,' says Solomon; no, he rewards them in the evening of the day, besides what he will add to it in the morning. It is observable that, Rev. 6:9, 10, concerning the separate souls slain for Christ, that whilst they cry for justice on their enemies only: 'And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held; and they cried with a loud voice saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?' that they had white robes given them to quiet them in the mean time: ver. 11, 'And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season,' till they heard that vengeance also was executed on that Roman empire for their blood shed. And thus to deal is a righteous thing with God.
Thus you have seen the point confirmed from all sorts of relations that God bears unto us, by congruous reasons, that so it becometh God, the great God, to do: 'He that hath wrought us for this thing is God.' And so much for this first branch of this second doctrine.
The second branch of the second doctrine.
That there is a glorious contrivement and workmanship carried on in this dispensation of his, like unto the great God indeed.
This carries on this point yet higher, for it is not only an ordination becoming God (upon the respects mentioned), but there is an artifice, a workmanship in it, such as he useth to shew in his works of wonder, even in this, that he should work upon men's souls in this life, and then bring them into a glory he had in the mean space been a-working also for those their souls. This is the great God indeed.
When God secretly bestows cost and curiosity in preparing matters for such or such an end; and then again, as hiddenly, hath laid out a greater art, skill, and workmanship upon that end itself; and then hath exactly suited and matched the one to the other, when all comes to be finished, and both wrought and brought together, then will an infinite surpassing glory arise unto God out of all, which deserveth to have this notoriety (that is here) put upon it. He that hath wrought this for that, is God; and lo, this is found here, which is demonstrated, if we view,
1. Each of these workmanships singly and apart.
2. Jointly, as designed and fitted each to the other.
1. Each singly. If there were no such ordination of the one for the other, yet so considered, they deserve to have each an 'He that wrought this is God,' to be written under it.
2. For his artifice, in working us in this life. Learned Cameron* hath but one note upon this whole fifth chapter, and it falls to be upon this very word, who hath wrought, and it is this: this word, saith he, ὁ δὲ κατεργασάμενος, as used by the Septuagint, signifies rem expolire rudem et informem, to polish a thing that is rude, and without fashion; for which he gives instance out of Exod. 35:33, in Bezaleel's work (whom, as the 31st and 32d verses speak of him, 'God hath filled with his Spirit in all wisdom, in all workmanship, to devise cunning work'). And again, the same word is used of the temple-work (that other was for Moses's tabernacle), 1 Kings 6:36, by Solomon, which, how transcendent a structure it was, you have all read and heard. An infinitely surpassing art, then, hath the Spirit himself (who is the immediate worker in this) shewn in the framing, and hewing, and curiously carving and engraving those living stones, that grow up into a 'temple unto God,' 1 Peter 2:5, especially considering the utter remoteness, indisposedness, yea, crookedness and perverseness in the matter wrought upon (our souls filled with the contrary form and workmanship of Satan). 'Ye are his workmanship,' says the apostle, Ephes. 2:10. And truly, if we could enlarge upon all the varieties of dealings God useth to each soul to work it, the several sorts of gracious dispositions he impresseth and carveth upon it, the manifold actings of every soul drawn forth by him, you may take a view of some in the very next chapter to that of my text, 2 Cor. 6, from the 4th verse. 'In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses;' ver. 5, 'In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, is watching, in fastings;' ver. 6, 'By pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned;' ver. 7, 'By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left;' ver. 8, 'By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;' ver. 9, 'As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;' ver. 10, 'As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.' Ver. 11, 'O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.' What a glorious embroidery upon the soul of a poor believer will in all these things appear, when finished: Ps. 45:13, 14, 'The King's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King, in raiment of needlework.' 2. For his art and workmanship bestowed in the glory of the soul in the other world; if any work (but Christ, God-man) be his master-piece, it is the framing of that house, and building, spoken of, ver. 1 of this chapter, 'We have a building of God, a house not made with hands;' and the 11th of the Hebrews, ver. 10, expressly useth two artificial words, τεχνίτης, the artificer in it, and δημιουργὸς, the artificer in it, and the builder of it, that is, who hath shewn his art and skill in building of it. So then, in each, his workmanship appears. I do but add this towards the confirmation of the main point in hand.
Hath the great God perfected both works upon the soul as much as he means to work in heaven? Also prepared a building for it? And will he then (think we) let both lie empty? Of the one, says Heb. 11:16, 'He hath prepared for them a city;' of the soul, in like manner, 'he hath wrought us for this self-same thing;' will God (think we) leave this his house to stand desolate, when he hath been at such cost in both? Doth any man or landlord build or repair an house, and then let it lie empty, when he hath a tenant fit for it? God is said not to be a foolish builder in respect to perfecting; and he is much less a careless builder, to neglect to take his tenants into it, when both are ready and fitted each for other. This for the first, viz., the consideration of each singly.
2. Let us consider then, next, jointly, that it is, as they are in such a manner wrought apart, so as to suit and match one the other, when brought together in that manner, as it must be said of them, 'For this thing hath God wrought us;' yea, and therein it is he hath appeared to be the great God.
For therein, even to wonderment, doth the glory of God in his works appear; and that he 'is wise in counsel, and wonderful in working,' when he hath hiddenly contrived one thing for another, whenas each are in themselves, and apart glorious. It is said by David of himself (and it is true of all men in their measure), Ps. 139:15, 'I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth;' that is, in my mother's womb, as the context shews; which are termed the 'lower parts of the earth,' as when Christ is said, Eph. 4:10, to have 'descended into the lower part of the earth;' that is, to be conceived in the womb of a virgin. When a child is born, a lump of flesh, animated with a soul, comes forth, 'curiously wrought,' &c., but wrought for what? In David's person (in which this was spoken), it was for a kingdom, the supremest condition of enjoyments in this world. But in every other man (that is born) it is that he was curiously wrought, in a fitness and capacity to all things that are in this world, made and prepared exactly for it long afore it came into the world; you may see it in Adam (our first pattern) more lively. God was busy for six days in making this world; the angels all that while stood wondering with themselves, to what end, or for whom all this was prepared, Job 36:7. At the end of the sixth day, they saw God to set down into the world this little thing they called man, and then they ceased their wonderment, for they saw all this world (prepared aforehand) set in man's heart, and all in man curiously wrought and fitted for all things made in this world, 'richly to enjoy,' as 1 Tim. 6:17. We may apply that in the text; to this it appeared, 'that he that hath made this self-same thing is God;' both works of wonder apart, and yet as fitted to each other, all wonderment exceeding. I might much more enlarge upon the suiting of Christ, the 'head and husband,' and the church his 'body and wife,' wrought and growing up to him in all ages, both apart, secretly and hiddenly prepared, and each so glorious in themselves, and yet put together. Let us defer our admiration hereat until the latter day. Just thus it is in fitting the soul for that glory; and again, that glory in heaven for that soul: God works the one for the other apart. The very similitude in the former verses do import so much. He styleth glory in heaven a being 'clothed upon,' and holiness here he compares to an 'under-garment,' which that of glory is to be put over, or upon. There was never a curious artist in making garments that ever took measure of the proportions of an upper and under garment, to fit the one to the other, as God hath in proportioning his work upon us here, and his preparation of glory for each of us in the world to come. He hath took exact measure, and his law is (that designed his own workings on both hands aforehand), that 'every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour,' 1 Cor. 3:8.
Now the artifice of God in both these lies in this, that each are hiddenly contrived apart, and yet so gloriously matched as wrought one for the other; which is an argument as if two artificers, the one in the East Indies, the other in the West, should the one make the case, the other make the watch, unbeknown each to other, and both workmanships of the highest curiosity in their kind, and when both brought together they exquisitely fit the one the other.
And what? Have I been telling you all this while an artificial pleasant story? Doth not this scripture tell the very same? For a close, do but now at last take a view and prospect of our apostle's whole discourse, the round and circle whereof began at chap. 4 ver. 16, and endeth with my text; and do you not find it speak (to use the text's language) the very self-same thing?
1. He tells us there of an inward man renewed, whilst the outward is a-perishing, to the end it may live and subsist alone, when the body is wholly dissolved; there he lays his foundation. And is not this all one with what the text says? God works us, these souls, day by day. Even as the child is curiously wrought in the womb, to subsist of itself alone in this world, so this inward man in that other.
2. He then immediately subjoins, ver. 17, that all afflictions, which are nothing else but the perishings of this outward man, as also all things and dispensations else that do befall us, they are secretly at work too all that while; so set to work by God, who works the inner man daily unto such a measure of grace, and these to work, and by his ordination procure, a proportionable weight (for God works all these things in weight and measure),—'our light affliction works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,'—as shall in a comely and in the exactest manner answer and suit that curious workmanship on the inward man; and it is observable that the same word for working is used in that verse that is used in my text; but yet these are but outwardly a work, as inferior artificers or instruments. Therefore,
3. He further declares, verse 1 of this chapter, that God himself is at work about this glory, who, as the master-workman, that hath the draught and platform of all afore him, drawn by his own designing, he viewing the inward work on us, the outward work of means and dispensations, and knows aforehand what degree of holiness to bring us ultimately unto, he according unto these, as patterns, is a-framing a building for us in heaven exactly suited to the working of all the other; which building he prepares and makes ready for this inner man, to entertain it when the body is dissolved. If our earthly house were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands of either men or means, or of our own graces, but of God. But every soul hath a state of glory proportioned to all these, ready built for it against this time; even as statues in stone are framed and carved, to be set up in such a curious arch framed for them by the builder. Now, then,
4. Add but the words of my text, which is the close of this his discourse. And it opens all the scene: 'He that wrought us for this self-same thing is God.' The apostle's conclusion answers his beginning; he began in chap. 4 verse 16, and the circle ends in my text. And this is God who is wise in working, and wonderful in counsel.
But there is a third point yet remains.
Doct. 3. That it is the interest and engagement of all three persons to see it, that a righteous separate soul be brought to glory at dissolution.
And this carries it yet higher, even to the highest, and gives the most superabundant security and assurance of this thing that can be given, and superadds above all the former.
But you will ask me, How I fetch this out of my text? Thus:
1. You see here are two persons expressly named, God the Father namely, and the Spirit. That is a rule that where the name God, and then some besides other* of the two persons, Christ or the Spirit, are mentioned therewith as distinct, there God is put personally, not essentially only, to express the Father. Now, here the Spirit, or Holy Ghost, is mentioned distinct from God; for it is said, that this God hath given the Spirit; which also Christ so often speaketh of the Father, as I need not insist on it.
2. It is another rule, that in any scripture where two persons are mentioned as concurring in any thing or matter, there the other third person also must be understood to have his special share therein also; as when he wisheth grace and peace from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ, it is certain the Holy Ghost is as specially understood, as indeed we find him in that apostolical blessing as distinctly spoken of as the Father, or Christ. Thus it must be here, Christ must be taken in, who also in John is so often said to give the Spirit, when the Father gives him, as it is said here he hath, for this same thing.
But, 3, you have even Christ also not far off interested in this self-same thing, in the next verse, and ver. 8, absence from the Lord whilst in the body, ver. 6, and present with the Lord when separate from the body, ver. 8. This Lord is Christ; the phrase of the New Testament concerning Christ runs in this style, to be with Christ, this day with me, to be where I am, and see my glory; so Christ. To be with Christ is best of all, and we shall be ever with the Lord; so Paul.
Use 1. Doth God work us for this thing ere he brings us to it? What hath God wrought hitherto upon thee or thee, in order to this end? It is a blunt question, but the text puts it in my mouth: How many souls are there living in the profession of Christianity that know not what this means, to have a work wrought on them (anew upon them) over and above what moral honesty (which was nature's portion) and the common possession of Christianity adds thereunto, by custom and mere education. An honest Turk professing also and observing the principles of his religion, upon the ground of his education only (and a religion every man must have), will as soon go to heaven as thou; for all thy religion is founded but upon the like foundation that his is. I tell thee, that Christian religion is not a thing so cheap; nor salvation by Christ at so low a rate. Thou must have a work upon thy soul suited unto all the truths thus professed in the power and efficacy of them. They must enter thy soul by a spiritual faith and frame, and mould it anew to a likeness to them. Carry home therefore the caveat our apostle hath put in verse 3, 'If so be that, being clothed, we be not found naked' of grace and holiness wrought, and Christ's righteousness by spiritual efficacious faith applied, faith in earnest, bowing the soul to be obedient unto Christ, as heartily and as honestly as it expects salvation by Christ, as without which thou wilt never be saved. This is our religion; and when at death thy soul (thy poor lonesome soul) being stripped of all things in this world, even the body and all, shall come before the great God and Jesus Christ, what will the inquiry be? as Mat. 22:11, 'When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man had not the wedding garment;' he spied him out: 'And the man was speechless,' ver. 12. 'Take him and bind him,' says he, 'and cast him into utter darkness,' ver. 13. The other that were clothed were admitted unto the marriage; and (as the psalmist, the words of which are here alluded to) she was brought unto the king (the very title which in both these places is given to Christ; see ver. 11) in raiment of needlework; and this clothing is of God's working; and so my text falls in with both. There is no admission unto Christ without it. This is the first use.
Use 2. Hath God begun to work this good work in thee? He will perfect it: whereof the text gives this assurance, that he hath wrought it for this thing, that is, for this end, and God will not lose his end. Besides, he says he hath given earnest.
Use 3. Thou saint, be content to live, for whilst thou livest thou art under God's working in order unto glory. Value life; it is a season of being wrought upon. And to be sure, thou shalt live no longer, than whilst God is some way or other a-working this. What ah advantage it is that all thy sins, occasioned by living long, shall surely be forgiven, and nothing of thy score be uncut off for thee, but all the righteousness that is wrought upon thee, and wrought by thee, and therefore wrought by thee because upon thee; for being wrought upon, we work, acti agimus, and all is rather God hath wrought us, than that we have wrought. 'All thy righteousness,' I say, 'shall remain for ever,' 2 Cor. 9:9. All the time thou remainest in this life, thy soul is ripening or maturing for glory.
How great a comfort is that! In explicating the doctrinal part, I gave instance of a child in the womb curiously wrought, Ps. 139:15, all that time, in order to its living and subsisting afterwards in this world. It is a dark place the womb, which the child is wrought in; and it lives there in a stifled condition. It cannot breathe; it takes nourishment but at the navel, a way invented and prepared of God merely for that season; it lies boiling, tossing, and tumbling, and sleeping away the most of its time, and gives now and then a faint stirring, to shew it is still alive; and it is a life scarce worth the name of life. Well, but all this is a being Wrought and fitted to live another freer and braver life in this world. And this is your present case. 'Your life is hid;' it is to come; all that you find in this world is but 'that God hath wrought you for the self-like thing.' And if this child we speak of should be forced out of the womb afore the due time, it would have the more imperfect life in this world. So here, if you could suppose a saint should die afore the full birth of his soul's being wrought on; therefore be content to wait God's leisure until your change shall come.
Use 4. No matter what befalls thee, so it works towards this end. Let whatever be, so thou findest God to go on with this design, that he works upon thy soul; be it upward, in communion with himself, or downward, in disowning thyself, thy vileness and corruptions, so it works. Thou hast afflictions that break thy heart (as reproach broke Christ's heart, says the psalmist in his name); no matter, so they work upon thy soul. Know then they are set awork by the hand that sent them, to work a far exceeding weight of glory for thee, Philip. 3. If by any means, says Paul, no matter what, so the work go on. A carver comes with his chisels, and (cuts off this piece, and cuts in to that part of the stone; no matter, a stately statue, bearing the image of some person of honour, is to be set up for perpetuity, and is accordingly a-framing. So though God carves his image out of thy flesh, no matter. Comfort thyself, and think not much at any condition, whilst, as St Paul says, Philip. 1, it turns to thy salvation. Election sent thee not into this world to have a great name (perhaps God will load it), nor to be rich, or to have power, but to work thee for this self-same thing. And if thou seest that plough agoing, though it makes deep furrows on thy back, yea heart, yet so that this seed be sown therein, rejoice, for thou shalt bring thy sheaves with thee. For myself, so that I find election pursuing its design of making me holy, and blessing me with spiritual blessing in heavenly places, as Eph. 1:4, I care not (I would not care) what befalls me in this world.