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SERMON the reward of such behaviour.
The wisdom here spoken of, as conjoined with virtue, is that wisdom from above, which is appointed by God to enlighten and guide the course of integrity. It opens to us that path of the just, which is now as the shining light, and which will shine more and more until the perfect day.
On the Immortality of the Soul, and a future State.
2 CORINTHIANS, V. I.
For we know, that if our earthly bouse of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with bands, eternal in the heavens.
THIS passage presents to us in one view SERMON the nature of our present earthly state, and the future object of the Christian's hope. The style is figurative; but the figures employed are both obvious and expressive. The body is represented as a house inhabited by the soul, or the thinking part of man. But it is an earthly house, a tabernacle erected only for passing accommodation,
SERMON dation, and to be dissolved; to which is to succeed the future dwelling of the just in
building of God, an house not made with bands, eternal in the heavens. Here then are three great objects, presented to our consideration. First, the nature of our present condition. Secondly, that succeeding state which is the object of good men's hope. Thirdly, the certain foundation of their hope; we know, that if our earthly bouse be dissolved, we have a building of God.
I. THE text gives a full description of our present embodied state; as an earthly house, an earthly house of this tabernacle, and a tabernacle which is to be dissolved.
We dwell in an earthly house. Within this cottage of earth is lodged that spiritual, immortal substance, into which God breathed the breath of life. So we are elsewhere said in Scripture, to have our foundation in the dust, and to dwell in houses of clay. During its continuance in this humble abode, the soul may be justly considered as confined and imprisoned. It is restrained from the full exertion of its powers by many
many obstructions. It can perceive and act SERMON only by very imperfect organs. It looks abroad as through the windows of the senses; and beholds truth as through a glass darkly. It is beset with a numerous train of temptations to evil, which arise from bodily appetites. It is obliged to sympa thize with the body in its wants; and is depressed with infirmities not its own. For it suffers from the frailty of those materials of which its earthly house is compacted. It languishes and droops, along with the body; is wounded by its pains; and the slightest discomposure of bodily organs is sufficient to derange some of the highest operations of the soul.
All these circumstances bear the marks of a fallen and degraded state of human nature. The mansion in which the soul is lodged, corresponds so little with the powers and capacities of a rational immortal spirit, as gives us reason to think that the souls of good men were not designed to remain always thus confined. Such a state was calculated for answering the ends proposed by our condition of trial and probation in this life; but was not intended to be last
SERMON ing and final. Accordingly, the Apostle, in his description, calls it the earthly house of this tabernacle; alluding to a wayfaring or sojourning state, where tabernacles or tents are occasionally erected for the accommodation of passengers. The same metaphor is here made use of, which is employed in several other passages of Scripture, where we are said to be strangers and sojourners on earth before God, as were all our fathers. This earth may be compared to a wide field spread with tents, where troops of pilgrims appear in succession and pass away. They enter for a little into the tents prepared for them; and remain there to undergo their appointed probation. When that is finished, their tents are taken down, and they retire to make way for others who come forward in their allotted order. Thus one generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; and the earthly house is to all no other than the house of their pilgrimage*.
The earthly house of this tabernacle, the Apostle, proceeding in his description, tells us, is to be dissolved. Close as the union #Psalm cxix. 54.