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come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John, xiv. 2, 3. And again, in the same discourse, and referring to the same eco
nomy. Father," says he, " I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me :" for that this was spoken, not merely of the twelve, who were then sitting with Jesus, and to whom his discourse was addressed, but of his disciples in future ages of the world, is fairly collected from his words, (xvii. 20.) "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me, through their word." Since the prayer here stated was part of the discourse, it is reasonable to infer, that the discourse, in its object, extended as far as the prayer, which we have seen to include believers, as well of succeeding ages, as of that then pre
Now concerning this future dispensation, supposing it to consist, as here represented, of accepted spirits, participating of happiness in a state of sensible society with
one another, and with Jesus Christ himself at their head, one train of reflection naturally arises; namely, first, that it is highly probable there should be many expressions of Scripture which have relation to it: secondly, that such expressions must, by their nature, appear to us, at present, under a considerable degree of obscurity; which we may be apt to call a defect: thirdly, that the credit due to such expressions must depend upon their authority as portions of the written word of God, and not upon the probability, much less upon the clearness of what they contain; so that our comprehension of what they mean must stop at very general notions; and our belief in them rest in the deference to which they are entitled, as Scripture declarations. Of this kind are many, if not all, of those expressions, which speak so strongly of the value, and benefit, and efficacy of the death of Christ; of its sacrifical, expiatory, and atoning nature. We may be assured, that these expressions mean something real; refer to something real: though it be something, which is to take place in that future dispensation, of which we have been speak
ing. It is reasonable to expect, that, when we come to experience what that state is, the same experience will open to us the distinct propriety of these expressions, their truth, and the substantial truth which they contain; and likewise show us, that however strong and exalted the terms are which we see made use of, they are not stronger nor higher than the subject called for. But for the present we must be, what I own it is difficult to be, content to take up with very general notions, humbly hoping, that a disposition to receive and to acquiesce in what appears to us to be revealed, be it more or be it less, will be regarded as the duty which belongs to our subsisting condition, and the measure of information with which it is favoured: and will stand in the place of what, from our deep interest in the matter, we are sometimes tempted to desire, but which, nevertheless, might be unfit for us, a knowledge, which not only was, but which we perceived to be, fully adequate to the subject.
There is another class of expressions, which, since they professedly refer to cir
cumstances that are to take place in this new state, and not before, will, it is likely, be rendered quite intelligible by our experience in that state; but must necessarily convey very imperfect information until they be so explained. Of this kind are many of the passages of Scripture, which we have already noticed, as referring to the changes which will be wrought in our mortal nature; and the agency of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the intervention of his power in producing those changes; and the nearer similitude which our changed natures, and the bodies with which we shall then be clothed, will bear to his. We read, "that he shall change our vile body, that it may be like his glorious body." A momentous assurance, no doubt: yet, in its particular signification, waiting to be cleared up by our experience of the event. So likewise are some other particular expressions relating to the same event, such as being "unclothed," "clothed upon," "the dead in Christ rising first meeting the Lord in the air;" they that are alive not preventing those that are asleep," and the like. These are all most
interesting intimations: yet to a certain degree obscure. They answer the purpose of ministering to our hopes, and comfort, and admonition, which they do without conveying any clear ideas; and this, and not the satisfaction of our curiosity, may be the grand purpose, for the sake of which intimations of these things were given at all. But then, in so far as they describe a change in the order of nature, of which change we are to be the objects, it seems to follow, that we shall be furnished with experience, which will discover to us the full sense of this language. The same remark may be repeated concerning the first and second death, which are expressly spoken of in the Revelations, and, as I think, alluded to, and supposed in other passages of Scripture, in which they are not named.
The lesson, inculcated by the observation here pointed out, is this, that, in the difficulties which we meet with in interpreting Scripture, instead of being too uneasy under them, by reason of the obscurity of certain passages, or the degree of darkness which hangs over certain subjects, we ought