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in a chariot of triumph through the air:-And thereby said to a careless and depraved age, and to us also, upon whom the ends of the world are come-" Them that honour me I will honour; but they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather
them. Bear your faithful testimony to my cause, by your words and actions. Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Dare to be singular. Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. If ye be losers in my service, you shall not be losers by it. Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth."
II. Let us consider it as an intimation of the future happiness that is reserved for the servants of God. Instances and facts strike the mind much more powerfully than abstract reasonings. By the example of Elijah's ascension it was seen that there was another state of being after this life--that there was another place of residence and of happiness besides this earth--that it was to be obtained by leaving this world and that even the body was to share in it.
This was a circumstance of importance. Nothing of the kind could be enforced from nature. Men were seen to perish by accidents and dis
eases, and decays. They are laid in the grave; cold and silent they remained there-wives had gone to the tombs of their husbands; children to the tombs of their mothers—but in vain they implore their return. In time the body became a mass of putrefaction; and dissolving into its original element, could no longer be distinguished from other dust.
But man is an incarnate being. The body is a constituent and an essential part of human nature. Man was imbodied in his primeval state, and will be imbodied in his final state. A state of separation, therefore, is a state of imperfection; and whatever happiness may be enjoyed in a disimbodied state, it will not be, it cannot be complete, before the morning of the resurrection. To this, therefore, the sacred writers lead us forward; and while they clearly allow an intermedjate, separate existence, they tell us that “ We shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just; that when the chief Shepherd shall appear, we shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. When Paul would relieve the minds of bereaved Christians, he reminds them that their connexions will rise again: and, in reference to himself, he says, “ If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
Yes, the body will be a partaker of endless happiness with the soul; and even in our flesh shall we see God." And here was a specimen of it. Here was seen a man carried up into heaven imbodied. Here was seen what transfor-, mation the body was capable of experiencing-it could become light, agile, unsusceptible of danger; it could retain identity, and yet drop those properties which render it a prison and a burden, and become a fit companion for the skies. This
was a beaming forth of that glory, which has been more fully revealed under the gospel dispensation, and especially in the glorification of the body of our Saviour, which is to be the model of our own. “For he shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in
corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual bodyThere is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
III. We may consider this translation as a substitute for death. In some such way as this, it is probable men would have passed from earth to heaven, had they never sinned. In some such way as this will those living at the last day be qualified for glory. “Behold, (says the apostle,) 1 show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Elijah died not, but he was changed. And in whatever way we pass into heaven, a change analagous to death, and the resurrection must pass upon us. The reason is obvious. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Were the body removed with its present animal properties, it would require food, and sleep, and medicine, even in heaven. The eye would be unequal to the splendour of the glory, the ear to the melody
of the sounds, the taste to the exquisiteness of the joys, the powers to the constancy of the work. Our senses and organs are adapted to our present state, but not to our future condition. We see how little we can bear now.
When an angel appeared to Daniel, he was instantly seized with a stupefaction which he could not resist. When John in his exile saw Jesus, though he had been familiar with him, and had leaned on his bosom, he fell at his feet as dead. And, by the way, this regulates the dealings of God with his people, while they are in the body. Moses asked for a sight of God, which would have proved his death- Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live."
The disciples, in the mount of transfiguration, fell asleep; it was not so much a moral, as a natural infirmity; the animal frame was overpowered with the glory of the scene. Were he to afford to his people such discoveries and communications as they may sometimes desire, it would unhinge them from earth, indispose them for the duties of their stations, and disorder their whole frame.
IV. We inay regard it as a mode of transition much to be desired. Death is not a pleasing subject of meditation. It is called an enemy.It is said to be the king of terrors. Even exclusive of the future consequences, there is much to render it formidable. Nature cannot be reconciled to its own dissolution. Who loves to be taken to pieces; to be torn in two?
“The pains, the groans, the dying strife,
Fright our approaching souls away;
Fond of our prison and our clay.”
Its forerunners and its attendants are dismaying, I have heard of a very good man, who often said he was not afraid of death, but of dyinghe was chilled with the thought of corruption and
If we saw a viper, and knew that the poisonous fang was extracted, and that it was perfectly harmless—who could put it into their bosom without shuddering?
Let it be remembered, that such feelings as these, do not argue an inferior degree of religion. Even the apostles themselves were not strangers to these sensations.
6. For in this we groan; earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house, which is from heaven. If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked. 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.” They wished to enter heaven, yet dreaded, being unclothed by death. But escape is impossible without dying.-But ah! to us this is impossible. To this inevitable doom we all look forward. It is the way, and the only way to the city of habitation.
Let us not, however, blaspheme death. Let us rather see what there is to reconcile us to it. Let us compare Elijah's mode of removal with our own, and see whether the difference be so marvellously great.
You have to die. But consider the names under which death passes by him who perfectly knows the nature of it. He tells us, “If a man keep my sayings, he shall never see death”-it ought to be called something else--so qualified and softened is it with regard to him. Call it a departure the departure of a prisoner from his