The Earthly and the Heavenly House
2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands…


1. What kind of a house?

(1) It is only a lodging-house: The soul is not sent to dwell in it, but to sojourn in it, while on the way to another world. "We are strangers and sojourners, as all our fathers were."(2) It is a weak house. The soul in the body is not lodged as in a tower or castle.

(3) It is a house that is daily in danger.

(a) It is in danger from without. There are storms to blow it down, and a very small blast will sometimes do it.

(b) It is in danger from within. There are disorders to undermine the house. The seeds of diseases, when we know not, are digging like moles under the mud walls, and soon destroy the house.

(4) It is a dark house. How many dangers come to the house from without which are never perceived by the eyes till they arrive.

2. The peculiarities of this house.

(1) It is a curious house of brittle materials.

(a) The body is a stupendous piece of workmanship, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." The very outworks of the house are admirable. Observe the wisdom of God in that beauty and majesty that are in the face, in the faculty of speech, etc. How God has put the eyes and the ears in the head as in their watch tower, that they may the better serve for seeing and hearing. Two arms to defend ourselves. These are the guardians of the house. Nay, there is not a hair, nor nail in the body, but has its use. But what is all this to the curiosity within?

(b) But the more curious, the more easily marred. The greatest beauty is soonest tarnished. So we are exposed to the greatest danger by a small touch.

(2) It is a house that needs reparation daily. Your meanest houses, once right, need nothing for a year. But this earthly house needs reparation daily. Hence eating and drinking are necessary, the house must be patched up with more mud daily. And some are so taken up with repairing the body that all the day they do nothing else.

3. Uses from this doctrine.

(1) Prize your souls above your bodies, as you do the inhabitant above the house.

(2) Make not your body a war house against heaven.

(3) Take care of the house for the sake of its inhabitant.

(4) Never ruin the inhabitant for the house.

(5) Beware of defiling the house, seeing it has such a noble lodger.

(6) Take heed to the door of the house. Let it be duly shut and be discreetly opened. Open your mouth with wisdom.

(7) Take heed to the windows of the house. The soul got its death-wound at first by the eyes.

(8) Provide in time for a better house. You must depart from this.

II. MAN'S BODY IS A TABERNACLE OR TENT FOR HIS SOUL, Paul was a tent-maker, and he takes a lesson of his frailty from what was among his hands, teaching us to do the same. It is so-called —

1. Because it is easily taken down. Whatever force may be necessary to pull down a house, it is easy to pull down a tent.

2. A tent is a movable house, one that is carried from place to place. So while we are in the body, we are not come to the place of our rest or settled habitation.

3. Tents, though mean without, may be precious within. However mean outwardly the body be, it has a precious soul within, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, capable of enjoying God for ever.

4. Uses of this doctrine.

(1) We need not wonder at sudden death. It has often been seen that a tent has fallen down when not a hand touched it.

(2) Let us lay our accounts with hardships while we are in the body. They that dwell in tents do not expect the ease and conveniences which a house affords. The ease is coming in the building of God.

(3) Let us live like pilgrims and strangers who are quickly to remove.

(4) Let us be preparing for an abiding mansion, and be careful to secure our title to it.


1. In what respects is death a dissolution?

(1) Death dissolves the union betwixt soul and body.

(2) Death dissolves the body itself.

(3) Death dissolves —

(a) The vital flame that kept the body in life.

(b) The communion betwixt the parts of the body. No more blood flows from the heart. No more spirits from the brain. Then all falls down together. The eyes see no more, and the ears hear no more.

(c) The joints and bands with which the body was united. In the grave the strongest arms fall from the shoulder blade, and every bone lies by itself.

(d) The most minute particles of the body, and though the bones last longer, yet they also moulder into dust at length.

2. This body shall be dissolved.

(1) There is an unalterable statute of death under which men are concluded. "It is appointed unto men once to die."(2) Daily observation tells us we must die.

(3) All men consist of perishing materials. "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return."(4) We have sinful souls, therefore dying bodies. The leprosy is in the wall of the house, therefore it must be pulled down.

(5) We are hasting to a dissolution. "Our days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle. They are passed as the swift ships, as the eagle that hasteth to the prey."


1. It is a dwelling house, not a house in which to lodge, but to abide.

2. It is a royal house, a palace. "They shall enter into the king's palace." Christ calls His saints to a kingdom, and their house is suitable to their dignity.

3. It is a holy house, a temple.

4. It is a heavenly house.

(1) It is situated in the better country, blessed with a perpetual spring, which yieldeth all things for necessity, conveniency, and delight. That land enjoys an everlasting day, "for there shall be no night there." An eternal sunshine beautifies it.

(2) As for the city, this house stands "in that great city, the holy Jerusalem," a city which shall flourish when all the cities below are in ashes. A city that never changeth its inhabitants. Blessed with perfect peace, nothing from any quarter can ever annoy it.

5. It is a father's house.

6. It is a spacious house. This clay body is a narrow house, where the soul is caged up for a time. But that house hath many mansions.

7. It is a most convenient house. Every saint shall find his own mansion prepared and furnished with every conveniency for him. O believer, art thou in poverty and straits? There is an incorruptible treasure in that house. Are you groaning under the tyranny of sin? There you shall walk in the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

8. It is a safe house. The gates "are not shut at all by day," for there is no danger there. No unclean thing can enter it.

9. It is a glorious house.

(1) The visible heavens are but the porch of the seat of the blessed.

(2) It is the house in which the King's son is to dwell with the bride for ever.

(3) It was purchased at a vast expense, even the blood of the Son of God.

(4) The indispensable necessity for washing and purifying, to fit persons for dwelling in the house, shows it to be glorious.

10. It is all everlasting house. It is eternal in the heavens.Conclusion —

1. Behold and admire the happiness of the saints.

2. Seek a house now into which you may be received when your earthly house is dissolved.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

WEB: For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.

The Changeable and the Permanent
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