The happinesse of those who sleep in Jesus, or, The benefit that comes to the dead bodies of the saints even while they are in the grave, sleeping in Jesus delivered in a sermon preached at the funeral of ... Lady Anne Waller, at the new church in Westminst[er], Oct. 31, 1661 : together with the testimony then given unto her
Calamy, Edmund, 1600-1666.

Doctrine 2.

That the bodies of the Saints, even while they are in their graves, are asleep in Iesus — They that sleep in Iesus.

This is a very excellent and singularly comfortable expressi∣on, worthy to be seriously weighed and considered. For the un∣derstanding of it I will shew,

First, What it is to sleep in Iesus.

Secondly, What glorious benefits and advantages come to the bodies of the Saints by this priviledge.

1. What it is to sleep in Iesus. This expression signifieth two things.

1. That a true Saint dieth a Member of Christ, united to him by a lively saith. * He is one that abideth in the Faith till the last gasp, and (as the Apostle saith) dieth in the Lord; that Page  8 is, engraffed into the Lord Iesus Christ.

2. That he doth not only die in Christ, but continueth a mem∣ber of Christ, and united to him even while he is in the grave. For this Text speaks of all Saints departed from the beginning of the World — So also they that sleep in Iesus; that is, They that are now in their graves, and are there asleep in Jesus. The like phrase is used, 1 Cor. 15.18. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. The Apostle speaks of such who had been long in their graves, and yet all that while were asleep in Christ. The bodies of the Saints in the grave, though turned to dust, are yet notwithstanding united to Christ, and Members of his Body; and though separated from their Souls, yet are not separated from Christ: Even as the Body of Christ, while in the grave, was even then united to his Divine Person. Though soul and body were separated one from the other, yet neither of them were separated from the Divine Person. So the Body of a man in Christ, though separated by death from his Soul, yet it is not separated from Christ. Though it say to Corruption, Thou art my Father, and to the VVorms, Thou art my Mother, and my Sister, yet it may say also to Christ, Thou art my Brother, and to God, Thou art my Father. And therefore the Saints, even while they are in their graves, are said to be Christs, 1 Cor. 15.23. — Afterwards they that are Christs at his coming. And are said to be dead in Christ, 1 Thes. 4.16. Not only to die in Christ, but to be dead in Christ; that is, to continue in Christ even while dead. And that they do so, appears fur∣ther by these two Reasons:

Reas. 1. Because the Union between Christ and a true Christi∣an is spiritual and everlasting.

1. It is spiritual, and therefore needs no vicinity of place to preserve it. A Husband and Wife, a Father and his Child are really united together, though a thousand miles distant.

2. It is everlasting, Hos. 2.19. I will besroath thee unto me for ever, &c. Herein it exceeds the Union between a Man and his Wife, which is only till death them do part. But the Union between Christ and a true Christian is not separated by death: Once in Christ, ever in Christ, Joh. 8.35.

Reas. 2. Because Death is Christs purchase,* and part, of the Saints Ioynture. The Apostle tells the Corinthians, All things Page  9 are yours, whether Paul, or Apollo, &c. or life or death, &c. and ye are Christs, &c. These words teach us these two lessons:

1. That Death is part of the Saints Magna Charta as well as Life. Death is the Believers rich Portion, and peculiar privi∣ledge.

2. That Christ hath purchased death for his children, as pro∣perly as life. He hath made over death for their joynture, and rich portion, as much as Paul, Apollo, or Cephas, nay, as much as hea∣ven it self. Christ hath altered the nature of death, insomuch as that now it is become our best friend next to Iesus Christ: For we shall never be rid of sin, nor perfected in grace, nor see God face to face till we dye. It is become a gate to heaven, an outlet to all misery, and an inlet to everlasting happiness. Now then if Death be Christs purchase, and a part of the Saints Ioynture, with∣out doubt, it doth not separate us from Christ, for then it would be but an ill purchase, and joynture, obtained not for our good, but our great hurt, contrary to the express words of the Apostle, and also contrary to Rom. 8.28. All things work together for the good of those that love God. Et mors praecipue, and especially Death, as St. Austin saith.

The second thing propounded, is, To shew what those glorious benefits and advantages are, which the bodies of the Saints enjoy while they are in their graves asleep in Jesus.

For answer to this, you must know, That as soon as ever the soul departs out of the body, the body presently loseth all its beau∣ty and comliness, and becomes a rotten and stinking carkass; It goeth down to the house of rottenness, to the dungeon of dark∣ness, and is layed in the cold earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. And yet even then it hath a six-fold benefit, by being asleep in Jesus.

1. Though the body be turned to dust, yet that very dust is pre∣tious in Gods sight.* As the death of the Saints, so also their dust is precious to God. There is a twofold dust that God loves.

1. The dust of Sion.

2. The dust of his Saints.

First, The dust of Sion, Psal. 102.13, 14.

Secondly, The dust of the Saints. The golden Ore in the Mine is not so pretious to us, as this golden dust is to God. Iob tells us, That out of the earth comes the dust of gold; * but I may truly say, Page  10 That in the earth there is golden dust, even the dust of Gods Saints. As Balaam saith concerning the people of Israel,*Who can count the dust of Iacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? So may I say, Who can sufficiently express the love that God bears to the dust of Iacob, and to the bodies of his people, while in their graves? The Apostle tells us, *That neither life nor death is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Iesus our Lord. God loves the bodies of his Saints as well as their souls, and their bo∣dies when turned to dust. That very dust is part of Gods election, (for God hath elected the bodies of his Saints unto eternal life, as well as their souls) and it is part of Christs Redemption, and the Spirits Sanctification. O what a comfort is this to a dying Child of God! Though all his friends will forsake him when brought to the grave (the Husband will leave his dear Wife, and the Children their dear Father) yet God will not forsake him, but go down to the grave with him, and the watchful eye of his provi∣dence will be over his dust and ashes. And as Rispah kept the dead bodies of Sauls seven Sons, *and spread a Tent over them, so as the birds of the air could not hurt them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night. So will God keep the dead bodies of his Saints, and spread the Curtain of his protection over them, and as he took care of them while they were in the sepulchre of their Mothers wombe, so he will also take care of them while they are in the sepulchre of their Mother earth. He that loved them in Sepulchro uteri, will love them in utero Sepulchri.

2. They that sleep in Iesus have this benefit by it, That Christ by his burial hath sanctified the grave, and sweetned it, and perfu∣med it, insomuch, that though in its own nature, it be as loath∣some prison, a house of rottenness, and a place of terrour; yet to a man dead in Christ, the nature of it is altered, and to him it is as a soft bed, wherein he is laid down quietly to take his rest, and there to remain asleep, free from all cares, fears, and troubles till the Resurrection of the dead. Though the grave in its own na∣ture be a dreadful place, a stinking charnel-house, and a rotten prison to the wicked and ungodly, where they lye waiting for the Great Assizes; yet to the Children of God, Christ hath made it a Magazin and Store-house to keep their bodies safe till the great Resurrection. And he hath also made it a beaten and plain way to heaven. Christ Jesus himself went to heaven thorough the Page  11 grave, and so must we and all the Godly. We must first put off the rags of Mortality, before we can put on the robes of Immorta∣lity. To a wicked man, the grave is a thorough-fare to hell, but to a man asleep in Jesus it is a passage to heaven, where Christ is. And if St. Austin was willing to go even thorough hell to Christ in hea∣ven, much more may we be willing to go thorough the grave to him.

3. They that sleep in Iesus have this benefit also, That by their Union with Christ, and by the watchful Providence of God, there is a substance preserved, so as they are not utterly extinct, and an∣nihilated by death, but something of their bodies remain unde∣stroyed. There is nothing utterly, totally, and finally destroyed in a Child of God by death, but sin and misery. The rotting of the body in the grave is but as the rotting of the Corn in the earth, as the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 15.36. The Seed is cast into the earth, and there it dieth, and rotteth, but is not utterly extinct, but rot∣teth in the ground, that it may be quickned again: So the bodies of the Saints rot in their graves that they may be raised again, and made like unto the glorious body of Iesus Christ. And this is another reason why the death of a Child of God is called a sleep, because as a man asleep is not extinct, no more is he in the grave. There is a substance preserved, and as David saith of an afflicted righteous man, * that God keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken: So God keepeth the dust and ashes of his Children, so as they shall not be utterly and totally consumed.

Object. But is there not a substance preserved also in the bo∣dies of the wicked?

Answ. It is true, Their bodies are not utterly destroyed, but remain, not by vertue of their Union with Christ, but preserved by the Almighty power of God as a terrible Lord, and severe Iudge, and re∣main, as in a prison, till the great day of Judgment, in which they shall appear before Christ, and then be condemned to hell. Happy were it for a wicked man if his body were annihilated by death, (as it were happy for a Traytor if he died in Prison, and escaped hanging.) But herein consisteth the difference between him and a man asleep in Jesus, A man out of Christ is not properly pre∣served in the grave, but rather reserved by the power of Christ to be afterwards tormented in hell: But a man in Christ is not on∣ly reserved, but by vertue of his Union with Christ, Page  12 and preserved to enjoy Eternal glory with their souls at the Great Day of Judgment.

4. He that sleepeth in Jesus hath this benefit also, That though his body lieth rotting in the grave, yet his soul is all the while in heaven, where it enjoyeth the glorious presence of God, and of his Saints and Angels: I say, his soul, which is his best half, which is the Man of man, is in heaven. Indeed, his body, which is but as the Box and Carkass, is in the grave; but the substance and Iewel is in heaven.

Object. What benefit doth the body in the grave gain by his souls being in heaven?

Answ. I gains this double benefit:

1. If his Soul be in heaven, it is certain the Body will come thi∣ther at last: For it is but as the shadow to the substance, and if the substance be in heaven, the shadow will undoubtedly follow.

2. Though the Soul be in heaven, yet it can never be perfectly and compleatly happy till it be reunited to the Body. For God made the soul to be the form of the body, and to dwell for ever in it: And if it had not been for Adams transgression, the body and soul should never have been separated. This separation is the fruit of sin, and therefore the soul in heaven hath appetitum unionis, a desire to have this breach made up, and to be united again to his body, because he shall have a more perfect and com∣pleat being with it than without it. The Scripture tells us, That it waits for the redemption of his body,* and that it prayeth that God would accomplish the number of his Elect, that so they may again be joyned to their bodies, and have Coronam perfectam & publicam, a publick and perfect Crown of glory. The souls in heaven (saith Bernard) pray for their bodies in the grave; They are not like the chief Butler, who forgat Ioseph when he was re∣stored to his former dignity. They remember they have bodies still in the grave, which were companions with them in the ser∣vice of God, in Prayer, and Fasting, and suffering afflictions for Christ. And they know, that by reunion with them their hap∣piness will be much increased; and therefore they cannot cease praing for them, and Christ will in due time come in glory to raise them up unto everlasting life.

A fifth benefit that accrueth to the body that is asleep in Jesus, is, That Christ himself cannot be perfect till it be raised from the Page  13 dead. As a natural body cannot be perfect without all its mem∣bers, no more can Christ mystical, as head of his Church, be perfect till every member of his body be glorified. Therefore it is said, Eph. 1.23. That the Church is the fulness of him who filleth all in all, which is to be understood of that voluntary condition, where∣unto Christ hath subjected himself in being the Head of the Bo∣dy, that is, his Church. So that as a natural body is maimed and imperfect if the least member be wanting: So is Christ, as Head of his Church, maimed and imperfect till all the bodies that are asleep in Iesus be reunited to their souls, and received into glory for ever with Christ.

Lastly, The body by being asleep in Iesus, hath this great bene∣fit, That though it lieth rotting in the grave, yet it resteth in hope. This was Davids comfort, Psalm 16.9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoyceth, my flesh also shall rest in hope. There is not a member of Christ, but when he is breathing out his last breath, may use Davids words with Davids comfort — My heart is glad, my glory rejoyceth, and my flesh also (which is shortly to be put into the grave) shall rest in hope, in a forefold hope:

  • 1. That it shall rise again.
  • 2. That the same body shall rise.
  • 3. That it shall rise by vertue of its Union with Christ.
  • 4. That it shall rise to glory everlasting. And this leads me to to the third and last Doctrine.