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…
I. I AM TO OPEN TO YOU THE BEAUTY AND PROPRIETY OF THE SEVERAL METAPHORS HERE USED.
II. I AM NOW TO SHOW YOU THE FORCE OF THE APOSTLE'S ARGUMENT THAT THE ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL GLORY IS THE BEST SUPPORT UNDER ALL TEMPORAL CALAMITIES. For this reason we faint not, for we know that if this earthly house of our tabernacle were dissolved we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
1. This assures the soul that all the afflictions of this mortal life are but light and transient, and when longest and heaviest, if once compared with that eternal weight of glory which succeeds them are as nothing.
2. During the present short space of suffering this assured hope of a blessed immortality revives and entertains the soul with the most delightful views of it.
3. This assurance contributes further to the support of the afflicted mind as it disposes it to a meek and quiet resignation to the will of God.
III. TO MAKE SOME GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE DOCTRINE OF ASSURANCE, WHICH IS FOUNDED ON THE WORDS OF THE TEXT.
1. I observe that an assurance of heaven is attainable in this life.
2. I would observe that it is not easily nor suddenly to be attained. It requires much labour, self-denial, and vigilance.
3. I would further observe that there is no small danger of mistaking in this matter. Mention some of those sources from which false assurance arises.
(1) It is often the effect of wrong notions in religion, such as the Jews had, who must needs think themselves the favourites of heaven, because they were the children of Abraham.
(2) A too sanguine and confident temper of mind often betrays men into these false hopes.
(3) This false assurance often flows from gross ignorance, even when there is little or no bigotry or superstition in the case. Because, perhaps, they have done nobody any harm, and never committed those open immoralities which they see others to be guilty of.
(4) Some suddenly attain good hopes of themselves through mere indolence and aversion to thought. They hope, but they do not know why, and are fully persuaded of they know not what.
(5) That even infidelity is sometimes the means of inspiring men with false and confident hopes as to their future state. So that hence it appears that it is an easy thing to be mistaken in this matter.
4. I would observe that though this false assurance be very common it is very dangerous, and if continued in, of irreparable detriment. It is a dreadful thing to go down into the grave with a lie in the right hand.
5. We cannot be too careful in determining a matter which is in its consequences of so vast importance.
IV. TO SHOW IN WHAT MANNER WE ARE TO PROCEED IN THIS AFFAIR, OR HOW A RIGHT ASSURANCE OF FUTURE HAPPINESS MAY BE ATTAINED.
1. In order to a well-grounded assurance of future happiness there must be a well informed conscience and a good understanding in the right way to salvation. In order therefore to a well-established hope of heaven there must be a right knowledge of the nature of that happiness which is to be there enjoyed, the proper qualifications for it, and how those qualifications are to be attained.
2. In order to establish our hopes of future bliss there must be a sincere renunciation and departing from all known sins, those that are more secret as well as those which are more open to the eye of the world.
3. To this must be joined the love and practice of universal righteousness, or a sincere and humble obedience to all the precepts of the gospel.
4. To attain unwavering hopes of immortal glory there must be a large and particular experience of the power of religion in the government of our passions and propensions. This goes a great way to establish our hopes.
5. To all this must be joined a lively and active faith.I shall now conclude all with two or three brief reflections.
1. Let it be well remembered that there may be a good and comfortable hope of heaven without a full assurance of it.
2. Let those who are of a more sanguine and confident temper learn hence to guard against a spirit of delusion.
3. Let us all then be persuaded to labour after it in the way now prescribed.
(J. Mason, A. M.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.