"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
Rom. viii. 11. -- "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."

It is true the soul is incomparably better than the body, and he is only worthy the name of a man and of a Christian who prefers this more excellent part, and employs his study and time about it, and regards his body only for the noble guest that lodges within it, and therefore it is one of the prime consolations that Christianity affords, that it provides chiefly for the happy estate of this immortal piece in man, which, truly, were alone sufficient to draw our souls wholly after religion. Suppose the body should never taste of the fruits of it, but die and rise no more, and never be awaked out of its sleep, yet it were a sufficient ground of engagement to godliness, that the life and well being of the far better part in man is secured for eternity, which is infinitely more than all things beside can truly promise us, or be able to perform. Certainly, whatsoever else you give your hearts to, and spend your time upon, it either will leave you in the midst of your days, and at your end you shall be a fool, or you must leave it in the end of your days, and find yourselves as much disappointed, or, to speak more properly, because when your time is ending your life and being is but at its beginning, you must bid an eternal adieu to all these things whereupon your hearts are set when you are but beginning truly to be. But this is only the proper and true good of the soul, -- Christ in it, -- most portable and easily carried about with you, yea, that which makes the soul no burden to itself, and helps it to carry all things easily, -- and then most inseparable, for Christ in the soul is the spring of a never-ending life, of peace, joy, and contentation in the fountain of an infinite goodness, and it outwears time and age as well as the immortal being of the soul. Yea, such is the strength of this consolation, that then the soul is most closely united and fully possessed of that which is its peculiar and satisfying good, when it leaves the body in the dust, and escapes out of this prison unto that glorious liberty.

But yet, there is besides this an additional comfort comprehended in the verse read, -- that the sleep of the body is not perpetual, that it shall once be awakened and raised up to the fellowship of this glory, for though a man should be abundantly satisfied if he possess his own soul, yet no man hateth his own flesh. The soul hath some kind of natural inclination to a body suitable unto it, and in this it differs from an angel, and, therefore, the apostle, when he expresseth his earnest groan for the intimate presence of his soul with Christ, he subjoins this correction -- not that we desire to be unclothed, but clothed upon it, 2 Cor. v.1-4. If it were possible, says he, we would be glad to have the society of the body in this glory, we would not desire to cast off those clothes of flesh, but rather that the garment of glory might be spread over all, if it were not needful because they are old and ragged and would not suit well, and our earthly tabernacle is ruinous, and would not be fit for such a glorious guest to dwell into, and therefore, it is needful to be taken down. Well, then, here is an overplus, and, as it were, a surcharge of consolation, that seeing for the present it is expedient to put off the present clothing of flesh, and take down the present earthly house, -- yet that the day is coming that the same clothes, renewed, shall be put on, and the same house repaired and made suitable to heaven, shall be built up, -- that this mortal body shall be quickened with that same spirit that now quickens the soul, and makes it live out of the body, and so the sweet and beloved friends, who parted with so much pain and grief, shall meet again with so much pleasure and joy, and, as they were sharers together in the miseries of this life, shall participate also in the blessedness of the next, -- like Saul and Jonathan, "lovely and pleasant in their lives," and though for a time separated in death, yet not always divided. Now this is the highest top of happiness, to which nothing can be added. It is comprehensive of the whole man, and it is comprehensive of all that can be imagined to be the perfective good of man.

It is no wonder, then, that the apostle reckons this doctrine of the resurrection amongst the foundations of Christianity (Heb. v.1, 2), for truly these two -- the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the mortal body -- are the two ground-stones or pillars of true religion, which, if they be not well settled in the hearts of men, all religion is tottering and ruinous and unable to support itself. That the soul cannot taste death or see corruption, and that the body shall but taste it, and, as it were, salute it, and cannot always abide under the power of it, these are the prime foundations upon which all Christian persuasion is built. For without these be laid down in the lowest and deepest part of the heart, all exhortations to an holy and righteous life are weak and ineffectual, all consolations are empty and vain. In a word, religion is but an airy speculation, that hath no consistence but in the imaginations of men, -- it is a house upon sand, that can abide no blast of temptation, no wave of misery, but must straightway fall to the ground. From whence is it, I pray you, that the persuasions of the gospel have so little power upon men, -- that the plain and plentiful publication of a Saviour is of so small virtue to stir up the hearts of men to take hold on him? How comes it to pass that the precepts and prohibitions of the most high God, coming forth under his authority, lay so little restraint on men's corruptions, -- that so few will be persuaded to stop their course, and come off the ways that they are accustomed to, -- that men pull away the shoulder and stop the ear, and make their hearts as adamant, incapable of being affected with either the authority or love of the gospel, -- that when he pipes unto us so few dance, and when he mourns so few lament? Is it not because these two foundations are not laid, and men's hearts not digged deep by earnest consideration to receive these ground-stones of Christianity, -- the belief of their souls, eternal survivance after the dust, and of the revivance and resurrection of the body, after it hath slept a while in the dust? I remember heathens have had some noble and rare conceptions about virtue, and some have laboured to enamour men with the native beauty of it, and to persuade them that it was a sufficient reward to itself.(206) And truly it would far more become a Christian, -- who knoweth the high and divine pattern of holiness to be God himself, and so must needs behold a far surpassing beauty and excellency in the image of God than in all earthly things, -- I say, it would become him to accustom himself to a dutiful observance of religion, even without any respect to the reward of it. He would train his heart to do homage to God out of a loyal affection and respect to his majesty, and from the love of the very intrinsic beauty of obedience, without borrowing always from such selfish considerations of our own happiness or misery. Notwithstanding, such is the posture of man's spirit now, that he cannot at all be engaged to the love of religion, except some seen advantage conciliate it, and therefore the Lord makes use of such selfish principles in drawing men to himself, and keeping them still with him. And, truly, considering man's infirmity, this is the spirit and life of all religion -- immortality and resurrection -- that which gives a lustre to all and quickens all, that which makes all to sink deep, and that which makes a Christian steadfast and immoveable, 2 Cor. v.8. It is certainly hope that is the key of the heart, that opens and shuts it to any thing. Hence the apostle Peter (1 Epistle) first blesseth God heartily for the new birth, and, in expressing of it, makes hope the very term of that generation, and so it must be a substantial thing. "Blessed be God, who hath begotten us again to a lively hope." Hope hath a quickening power in it. It makes all new where it comes, and is full of spirit. It is the helmet and anchor of a Christian, that which bears the dint of temptation and makes him steady in religion. No man will put his plough in this ground, or sow unto the Spirit, but in hope, for he that soweth must sow in hope, else his plough will not go deep.1 Cor. ix.10. This then is the very spirit and life of religion, -- the resurrection of the dead, -- without which our faith were in vain, and men would continue still in their sins. Certainly it is the deep inconsideration of this never ending endurance of our souls, and restitution of our bodies to the same immortality, that makes the most part of men so slight and superficial in religion, else it were not possible, if that were laid to heart, but men would make religion their business, and chief business.

We have here the two genuine causes of the resurrection of the bodies of Christians, -- the resurrection of Christ and the inhabitation of his Spirit. The influence that the resurrection of Christ hath on ours, is lively and fully holden out by this apostle, 1 Cor. xv., against them who deny the resurrection from the dead: "If Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain, you are yet in your sins, and they that are asleep are perished." Religion were nothing but a number of empty words of show, preaching were a vanity and imposture, faith were a mere fancy, if this be not laid down as the ground stone, -- Christ raised, not as a natural person, but as a common politic person, as the first-fruits of them that sleep, ver.17-20, where he alludes to the ceremony of offering the first-fruits of their harvest, Lev. xxiii.10. For under the law they might not eat of the fruits of the land till they were sanctified. All was counted profane till they were some way consecrated to the Lord. Now, for this end, the Lord appointed them to bring one sheaf for all, and that was the representative of all the rest of the heap, and this was waved before the Lord, and lifted up from the earth. Now, according to the apostle's argument, Rom. xi.16, "If the first fruits be holy, so is the lump," for it represents all the lump, and therefore Jesus Christ, the chief of all his brethren, was made the first fruits from the dead, and lifted up from the grave, as the representer of all the lump of his elect, and so it must needs follow, that they shall not continue in the grave, but must in due time partake of that benefit which he has first entered in possession of, in their name, and for them. For if this first fruits be holy, so the whole lump must be holy, and if the first fruits be risen, so must the lump. You see then the force of the present reason, "If the Spirit that raised Christ dwell in you," he shall also raise you, namely, because he raised up Christ the very first fruits of all the rest, so that Christ's resurrection is a sure pledge and token of yours, and both together are the main basis and ground work of all our hope and salvation, the neglect and inconsideration whereof makes the most part of pretended Christians to walk according to that Epicurean principle, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die." As if there were no life to come, they withhold nothing from their carnal minds that can satisfy or please their lusts. But for you who desire a part in this resurrection, and dare scarcely believe so great a thing, or entertain such a high hope, because of the sight of your unworthiness, as you would be awakened by this hope to "righteousness, and to sin no more" verse 34th of that chapter, so you may encourage yourselves to that hope by the resurrection of Christ, for it is that which hath the mighty influence to beget you to a lively hope, 1 Pet. i.3. Look upon this as the grand intent, and special design of Christ's both dying and rising again, that he might be the first-fruits to sanctify all the lump. Nevertheless, it is not the desert of your bodies, for they are often a great impediment and retardment to the spirit, and lodge the enemy within their walls, when he is chased out of the mind by the law of the Spirit of life, but it is the great design of God, through the whole work of redemption, and the desert of Christ your head, and therefore you may entertain that hope, but take heed to walk worthy of it, and that it is, "if we have this hope, let us purify ourselves," let us who believe that we are risen with Christ, set our affections on things above, else we dishonour him that is risen in our name, and we dishonour that temple of the Holy Ghost, which he will one day make so glorious.

sermon xxix and if christ
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