And to die is Gain.
To whom Christ is to live, to them Death is gain. The more we enjoy Christ, and live to Christ here, the more gainful will death be to us, and the more shall we be able to look upon death as Gain. And here we have a Scripture (if we had no other) sufficient to prove the Immortallity of the Soul: How could death be Gain un∣to the Apostle, if so be that the Soul should die together with the Body? Indeed, Christ would be Gain for ano∣ther Life hereafter, that is, at the Day of Judgment, there Christ would be Gain. And those that do deny the Immortallity of the Soul, yet they are not so vile as some take them: To think that Man should Die like a Beast, and there's an end of him; and that there shall be no Resurrection. No: But those that do deny the Immortallity of the Soul, they say, That though the Soul dies with the Body, yet at the Day of Judgment, both Soul and Body shall rise again and live for ever. But all they deny, is this, That the Soul between Death and the Day of Judgment, shall live: They think, that the Soul between Death and the Day of Judgment, shall die, and then by the Almighty Power of God, they shall be both raised again: That's their Opinion. But, though it be not so bad as some would make it, yet an Opinion false. For this Text shews that Paul was in a straight, he knew not whether to live or die; but that was the conclusion, that it was better for him to die; for then he should be with Christ. He could not mean that when he was dead, he should be with Christ when the ge∣neral Resurrection comes: but he must needs mean that he should be with Christ immediately after his death, and en∣joy Page 116 another manner of communion with Jesus Christ, than he did here while he was living. And it is upon this ac∣count, that he saith, It is gain for him to die. Why Paul enjoyed much communion with Jesus Christ here; and though he had some sin in him, yet considering the Grace he had, and the Service he did for Christ; certainly it were better for him to live, than to be in a condition where he should enjoy nothing of Christ, and do no Service for Christ. But the Apostle lookt upon the State of death before the day of Judgment, to be a better Estate than that he had while he lived. Though, saith he, I have the Grace of Christ, and I do Service for Him, yet there is a better condition between Death and Judgment: If my Soul were gone from my Body, it would be in a better Estate than now it is: To me to die is gain, and so you have it in 2 Cor. where the Apo∣stle speaks of his departing out of the Body, in Chap. 5. Therefore we are alwayes confident, knowing that whilst we are at Home in the Body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, in verse 8. I say, and willing rather to be absent from the Body, and to be present with the Lord. So that 'tis apparent, that upon the Souls absence from the Body, it is present with the Lord. Now if the Soul did die as the Body doth, it were not present with the Lord; no, not so much as when it is in the Body. But now the Apostle saith, That when it is out of the Body, then it's present with the Lord; and when it is in the Body, it is absent from the Lord. And so it is upon this Ground especially that the Apostle saith, That to him to die was Gain: Because he should be absent from the Bo∣dy, but present with Christ, which is best of all. To be with Christ, it is more than to have Christ with us. The difference lies here: For us to be with Christ, it is Page 117 for us to be brought to Christ, where He is like Himself in all His Glory and Excellency; and for us to enjoy Him in a proportionable way. But now for Christ to be Im∣manuel, God with us, it is for Christ to come down as it were to us; and to manifest so much of Himself as is sutable to our condition: Therefore Christ humbles Himself to come to be with us. For there He is a Man of Sorrows, He is with us sutable to our Mean and Low condition; but when we come to be with Him, we are there sutable to His High and Glorious condition: There lies the difference. Mark, The Apostle doth not here say, To me to die is Gain: Upon this Ground, Be∣cause I shall be delivered from my Troubles. As a great many are ready to think, it were well for me to be Dead. If they be but a little discountented, their outward Trou∣ble, makes them willing to go out of the World: Yea, and if their Bodies be weakly, and their Stomachs gone, and cannot Eat as others do, or Sleep as others do; or are very Poor, and Live in a mean Condition, they are weary of this World. Now to think death Gain upon such a poor Ground as these, is not according to the Spi∣rit of Paul: Paul suffered as much as many of you do, for outward things in this World, and yet he did not desire to die: O then, I shall be Afflicted no more, be Persecuted no more in the World; no, but when I die I shall be with Jesus Christ, and shall enjoy Communion with Him; and it's this that makes me look upon Death with comfort, and in this respect it's Gain. Though Paul had enjoyed all the World at will, yet he would have accounted Death to have been Gain to him. And though Paul was a Man of great Esteem among the Saints, (though Persecuted by others) yet death was Gain to him. Yea, though Paul enjoyed all Ordinances, yet Page 118 Christ was Gain to him. And though he did a great deal of Service for Christ, (as I verily believe there was never any Man since the World was made, did more Service for Jesus Christ than Paul did) and yet death was Gain to him; he should get much by it: Why many things might make the death of Paul Gainful. I remember the last time I spake to you, I spoke about an Argument of the Victory over Death, that we have by Christ; I will not speak now of what then I spake to, but meer∣ly Confine my self; for otherwise the Argument might be very large, to shew the Gain of death to Believers: But I'll confine my self to the very thing that the Apo∣stle speaks of here in this Chapter, That he should be pre∣sent with Christ.
Therefore now I'll speak of the Gain of being with Christ. Now I confess there are many things that might be opened: The Communion of the Soul departed with Jesus Christ,
As First, It shall be immediate, the Souls of the Saints while they are in the Body, they have Communion with Christ; but it is Mediately, by other things, by Ordi∣nances and Means, whereby Christ conveys Himself to them; but there they shall have Communion with Christ Immediately, only Christ and the Soul together. Now the more Immediate the Communion is with Christ, it is the more pure: Here we have some Communion with Christ, but a great deal of Sin mixt together with it. That that is immediately from the Fountain is more pure, that that comes in the Streams hath Dirt mixed with it. So that that we shall have with Christ immediately shall be pure, we shall have Communion with Him and nothing else: We shall have no mixtures at all of any evil in our own Spirits.
Page 119 And then Secondly, Immediate communion with Christ, it is more Sweet: As the more Pure, so the more Sweet. As now, the Wine that comes immediately from the Grape, it hath more Spirits, and is more delightful than that that is poured from Vessel to Vessel. That which we have here from Christ, it is that that is poured from Vessel to Vessel; but that which Souls departed have from Christ is immediate, and so comes more Sweet. As if the Child suck Milk from the Breast, it is more sweet to the Child than the Milk in a Spoon. That that we have from Christ here, is Milk as it were from the Spoon; but that that Souls have that are departed, they suck from Christ immediately, and so comes to be more sweet.
Thirdly, And more especially, we account that that comes Immediately, to have more Love in it. As that that a Friend gives by his own hand, is better and more comfortable to us. So that that comes from God Im∣mediately, it's a great deal more sweet: As now here while we Live in the World, the more immediate a Mer∣cy is, the more sweet it is to a gracious Heart. Indeed, a Mercy that comes by second Causes, it's comfor∣table, because God Over-rules all the Causes; but when it can see God immediately in a Mercy, the more immedi∣ate the Hand of God is here: Though God doth not work so Immediately here as He will do afterwards; but the more Immediate God is here, the more sweet it is. And therefore in a Judgment, the more Immediate the Hand of God is, the more Terrible, as in the Plague. So in a Mercy, though every Mercy is sweet, yet the more Immediate God is in a Mercy, the more sweet it is. And then, O how sweet is all the Good that the Saints have immediately from Christ, therefore it's Gain to them.
Page 130 And then, Fourthly, It's more strong. The first Re∣bound is more Powerfull than: a second; and the first Gushings out are more strong. The Beams of the Sun when they are first Reflected, than if you take a Glass and Reflect them again and again. And so that that comes Gushing out (as it were) of the very Heart of God, it's more strong a great deal; and there is greater Impressions upon the Heart by it, than that that comes by second Causes.
Fifthly, That that comes Immediate, it comes with∣out Labour. The Soul draws it from Christ, and is not put to so much Pain and Labour as now we are put to. If we would have Communion with Jesus Christ, we must stir up our selves to the Humbling of our Hearts, to the Acting of our Faith, to Exercise our Graces, and put the Body to it. If you would have any com∣munion with Christ in Prayer, it must put you to some Labour: And: so in the Word and Sacraments: And the Labour of a Christian is very great. But when we come to have Immediate communion with Christ, it will be the flowings in of Christ to the Soul, without any La∣bour at all.
Sixthly, It shall be more full, when we come to be Uni∣ted to the very Fountain it self; there it will be more full than the Stream. Certainly, there is that Good and Excellency in Christ, that is too much for any Creature in the World to convey▪ Yea, take all the Creatures in the World, and Ordinances, they are too scant to be able to convey the Good that is in Christ; yea, that Good that Christ takes delight to communicate to the Souls of His People. And that's the Reason that here we have but a little. Why? Because the Conduits are so Narrow and Small, that there can be but a little let Page 121 out through those Conduits; but when the Soul is with Christ immediately, then it hath the Fulness of the Let∣tings out of Gods Mercy: There will be an Eminency of every sort of Good to every poor Christian. I re∣member Jerom, speaking of that Text, Christ being All in all: He makes this Interpretation of it, saith he, Christ is here but some to some; but not all to all. As for In∣stance, saith he, Here some Men have some Eminency of some particular Grace conveid to them, and some other Eminency of some particular Grace. As Moses had an Eminency of Meekness, Abraham an Eminency of Faith, Job an Eminency of Patience, and Solo∣mon an Eminency of Wisdom, but, saith he, Where was there ever a Man Eminent in all Graces? But then (saith he) Christ shall be All in all: That is, Christ shall convey all Grace to all His Saints, that all the Saints shall have an Eminency and Fulness in all Grace whatsoever. This will be an Excellent thing. Surely it's Gain then to Die, for a gracious Heart, where Christ shall be thus All in all to them, to convey this Fulness of Good in all things unto them. Those Saints that are the Meanest now, whose Souls have the least degree of true Grace, they shall have an Eminency of all Grace. Wouldst not thou think thy self happy, if thou hadst as much Faith as Abraham, as much Meekness as Moses, and as much Patience as Job, and as much Insight into the Misteries of the Gospel as Paul? Now, hadst thou as much as all the Saints ever had, were not that Gain? Why now as soon as thy Soul is departed from the Body, thou shalt have an Eminency in all Graces, as much as all the Saints ever had, since the beginning of the World. Therefore surely, it's Gain to die for a Godly Man.
7ly, Further, It's Gain in this respect, When they re∣ceive Page 122 immediately, they shall receive all United in one, and all together: They shall have such Influence from Christ, as hath all Good united in one Beam of Excel∣lency, and so receive it all together. As now, a Man may take the Quintesence of several Herbs; there's this Herb hath this Virtue, another another, and a third a third; but now if you Still all these Herbs together, you will have the Virtue and Quintesence of all in one Drop. So Christ here scatters His Excellencies, one in one Creature, another in another; but when we come to enjoy Him immediately, then we shall have all in one, because all His Excellencies whatsoever is united in one in Him.
Eighthly, Further, all our Good shall be in continal Act. Here we have a great deal of Good in the Habit, but now when we come to have this Immediate communion with Christ, there all our Graces shall be Acted continu∣ally. The Sun, you know, how it doth Act the Earth; whatsoever there is in the Earth, it draws it forth and makes it flourish. So the Presence of the Sun of Righte∣ousness, Oh how Gloriously will it Act all our Graces! In Numb. 17. 7. We read of Aarons Rod, it Blossom'd: And the Text saith, It Blossom'd before the Lord. When the Souls of the Saints shall be before the Lord, and be in the Presence of the Lord Christ: O they shall Blossom and Flourish, and all their Graces shall Flourish in a most Glorious manner.
Ninthly, And then lastly, We shall enjoy what is in Christ without any Intermission: What's the reason of any Intermission here? But something that comes be∣tween Christ and our Souls. But now when there shall be nothing between Christ and the Soul, then there will be no Intermission. That Sweetness and Comfort thou Page 123 hast in communion with Christ at any time, thou shalt have it at all times: And how good is that? O saith many a Soul, could I have but the communion with Christ at all times, as I have at some times: O that would be comfortable! Now when the Soul hath Immediate communion with Christ, it shall have it at all times. What's the reason of Ecclipses? It is the Interposition between the Moon and the Sun, or some Interposition between the Sun and us. So our Ecclipses of the Light that we have from Christ, it is some Interposition: Take away the Interposition, and then there will be no Intermission. Now put all these together, and is it not Gain to Die, and to be with Christ. Now by way of Use: