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Fourthly, no alteration will hinder us from remaining the same, provided we are sensible and conscious that we are so ; any more than the changes which our visible person undergoes even in this life, and which from infancy to manhood are undoubtedly very great, hinder us from being the same, to ourselves and in ourselves, and to all intents and purposes whatso
Lastly, that though, from the imperfection of our faculties, we neither are, nor, without a constant miracle upon our minds, could be made, able to conceive or comprehend the nature of our future bodies ; yet, we are assured, that the change will be infinitely beneficial; that our new bodies will be infinitely superior to those which we carry about with us in our present state; in a word, that, whereas our bodies are now comparatively vile (and are so denominated,) they will so far rise in glory, as to be made like unto his glorious body; that whereas, through our pilgrimage here, we have borne, that which we inherited, the image of the earthy, of our parent the
first Adam, created for a life upon this earth; we shall, in our future state, bear another image, a new resemblance, that of the heavenly inhabitant, the second man, the second nature, even that of the Lord from heaven.
ON PURITY OF THE HEART AND
1 JOHN, iii. 2, 3.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
WHEN the text tells us, “that every
man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself," it must be understood as intending to describe the natural, proper, and genuine effects of this hope, rather, perhaps, than the actual effects, or at least as effects, which, in point of experience, universally follow from it. As hath already.
been observed, the whole text relates to sincere Christians, and to these alone: the word we, in the preceding part of it, comprises sincere Christians, and no others. Therefore the words every man must be limited to the same sort of men, of whom he was speaking before. It is not probable, that in the same sentence he would change the persons and characters concerning whom he discoursed. So that if it had been objected to Saint John, that, in point of fact, every man did not purify himself who had this hope in him, he would have replied, I believe, that these were not the kind of persons he had in his view; that throughout the whole of the text, he had in contemplation the religious condition and character of sincere Christians, and no other. When, in the former part of the text, he talked of we being the sons of God, of we being like Christ, he undoubtedly meant sincere Christians alone: and it would be strange if he meant any other in this latter part of the text, which is in fact a continuation of the same discourse, of the same subject, nay, a portion of the
I have said thus much in order to obviate the contrariety which there seems to be between Saint John's assertion and experience. Experience, I acknowledge, proves the inefficacy, in numerous cases, of religious hope and religious motives: and it must be so for if religious motives operated certainly and necessarily, if they produced their effect by an infallible power over the mind, we should only be machines necessarily actuated; and that certainly is not the thing which a moral agent, a religious agent, was intended to be. It was intended that we should have the power of doing right, and consequently of doing wrong: for he who cannot do wrong, cannot do right by choice; he is a mere tool and instrument, or rather a machine, whichever he does. Therefore all moral motives, and all religious motives, unless they went to deprive man of his liberty entirely, which they most certainly were not meant to do, must depend for their influence and success upon the man himself.
This success, therefore, is various; but when it fails, it is owing to some vice and