A String of Pearls

The Best Things Reserved Until Last

by Thomas Brooks, June 8, 1657

The glorifying of our BODIES is reserved until last.

I shall a little hint unto you the glory and blessedness of the bodies of the saints when they shall all meet in heaven. I shall not focus upon the privative blessedness of glorified bodies, which consists in their freedom from all defects, deformities, diseases, and distempers which here on earth they are subject to. Here on earth our bodies stand in need of clothes to cover them, food to feed them, sleep to refresh them, medicine to cure them, air to breath them, and houses to shelter them—from all which glorified bodies shall be free, Rev. 7:16-17. But I shall only speak of the positive blessings and heavenly endowments which glorified bodies shall be invested with. As,

(1.) They shall be like the GLORIOUS body of Christ. Philip. 3:21, "He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere." Our bodies shall be as endearing and lovely, as bright and glorious—as the body of Christ is. Chrysostom says, that the bodies of the saints shall be seven times brighter than the sun. Certainly saints shall be as handsome-bodied and as lovely-featured as Christ is. Though their bodies are sown in dishonor—yet they shall be raised in glory, 1 Cor 15:43. If Stephen's face did shine as if it had been the face of an angel, that is, bright and glorious, Acts 6:15; and if there were such a luster and glory upon Moses' face, that the children of Israel were afraid to come near him, and he forced to put a veil upon it until he had done speaking with them, Exod. 34:29-36; I say, if there were such a glory upon the face of these two mortals, Oh then! how will the faces and bodies of the saints glitter and shine when their bodies shall be made conformable to the glorious body of Jesus Christ! "Then the godly will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom!" Matthew 13:43.

Certainly, as the light and glory of the sun does far exceed the light of the least twinkling star—so much and more shall the glory of the saint's bodies excel that glory and splendor which was upon the faces of Moses and Stephen. The bodies of the saints in heaven shall be surpassingly lovely, well-favored, beautiful, and amiable. Plutarch, in the life of Demetrius, says, That he was so fair of face and countenance, as no painter was able to draw him. I am sure that I am not presently able to paint out the beauty and glory which shall be upon the bodies of the saints in that day of glory, wherein the saints shall shine as so many suns. But,

(2.) Their bodies shall be SPIRITUAL. 1 Cor. 15:44, "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." Their bodies shall be spiritual, not in regard of substance—but state and condition. Spiritual in the text is not opposed to visible—but to natural; for their bodies, though in a sense they are spiritual—yet they shall be as visible as the glorious body of Christ. When I say their bodies shall be spiritual, you must not think that I mean that their bodies shall be turned into spirits. Oh no! for they shall keep their bodily dimensions, and be true bodies still. Look! as in the restoration of old and broken vessels, the matter is the same, only the color is fresher and brighter, and the fashion newer and better—so in the day of glory, our bodies shall be the same for substance that now they are; they shall retain the same flesh, blood, and bones, and the same figure and members, that now is—only they shall be overlaid or clothed with spiritual and heavenly qualities and prerogatives; their bodies shall be glorious, of a due and lovely proportion, of an exquisite feature and stature, of a lively color, of cheerful aspect, and full of beauty and glory, splendor and favor!

1. Now the bodies of the saints shall be spiritual, first, in respect of their full, perfect, and perpetual freedom from all heats, colds, hungerings, thirstings, sickness, weakness, wants. Here on earth one cries out, Oh my back, my back! another, Oh my belly, my belly! with the prophet, Hab. 3:16; another, Oh my head, my head! with the Shunamite's son, 2 Kings 4:19; another, Oh my son, my son! as David for Absalom, 2 Sam. 18:33; another, Oh my father, my father! with Elisha, 2 Kings 2:12.

Everyone here on earth has some ailment or other, some infirmity or other, some grief or other—which fills his eyes with tears and his heart with sorrow. But when these natural bodies, these animal or carnal bodies, shall be made glorious, then they shall be fully and perpetually freed from all manner of miseries and calamities; they shall be as the angels, not subject to any sickness, weakness, or infirmities: Rev. 7:16-17, "Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Rev. 21:4, "God will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever." In this respect their bodies may be said to be spiritual.

2. But, secondly, they may be said to be spiritual in respect of their spiritual agility and nimbleness. Now, our bodies are lethargic, dull, and heavy in their motion: and by this the soul is many times hindered in its lively operations; for when the soul would mount up on high, and busy herself about eternal objects, the body, like a lump of lead, keeps it down. But now, in this glorious state, the body shall put off all lethargy, dullness, and heaviness, and be exceeding agile, light, and swift in motion, far beyond the swiftest bird which flies, Isaiah 40:31; 1 Thes. 4:17.

I know not by what to set forth the agility of glorified bodies; a swift runner, a bird, a torrent—are too short to set forth their agility. Luther says that a glorified body shall move quicker than a thought. And Augustine says that the body will presently be here and there, wherever the soul would have it.

Certainly the speed and motion of glorified bodies will be extraordinary and incredible. A glorified saint desiring to be in such or such a place a thousand miles off or more, he will be there in such an incredible short time, that one calls it imperceptible, hardly to be discerned: in which respect their bodies may be said to be spiritual.

3. But, thirdly and lastly, they may be said to be spiritual, because of that perfect, full, absolute, and complete subjection that they shall delightfully and perpetually yield to the Spirit of God. Now they often vex and grieve, affront and fight against the Spirit of God. The members of our bodies, as well as the faculties of our souls, do often make war upon the Spirit of grace, as the apostle fully shows in that Romans 6. "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other," Gal. 5:17. Now the body says to the soul, "Be not over-righteous; neither make yourself over-wise: why should you destroy yourself?" Eccles. 7:16. The body is often apt to say to the soul, You are over-righteous, O soul! You argue and dispute against this sin and that pleasurable way, and this comfort and that enjoyment, more than is necessary. And the soul seems to answer, ver. 17, "Be not over-much wicked, neither be foolish—why should you die before your time?"

But now in heaven the bodies of the saints shall be fully, perfectly, and delightfully—under the command, conduct, and guidance of the soul; and therefore may truly be said to be spiritual. As the spirit serving the flesh may not unfitly be called carnal—so the body obedient to the soul may rightly be termed spiritual. Glorified bodies are spiritual, not in their essence—but in condition and quality, as being fully and perpetually under the government of the Spirit.

Now on earth, the tongue grieves the Spirit, and now the deaf ear is turned to the voice of the Spirit, and now the eye is roving, when it should be reading the things of the Spirit; and now the feet are wandering when they should be walking in the ways of the Spirit; and now the hand is idle which should be diligent in the work of the Spirit, Eph. 4:29-31, Isaiah 63:10.

Oh! but when in heaven—the tongue, the eye, the ear, the hands, the feet—shall be all brought into an angelical, willing, and delightful obedience to the Spirit; upon which account glorified bodies may truly be termed spiritual. But,

(3.) Their bodies shall be IMMORTAL—they shall be INCORRUPTIBLE. 1 Cor. 15:42, 54. Here on earth, these carnal bodies of ours, by reason of their earthly and dreggish composition, are subject to mortality and corruption. Indeed man is so poor a piece, that he no sooner begins to live—but he begins to die; his whole life is but a lingering death. Death every hour lies at the door. This sergeant, death, constantly attends all men, in all places, companies, changes, and conditions. Petrarch tells of one, who being invited to dinner the next day, answered, I have not had a tomorrow for this many years.

Many dangers, many deaths, every hour surround these lives of ours. Here, says one, we enter into the world; we follow one another in the world; we depart all out of the world. Oh! but in heaven we shall have immortal bodies! Luke 20:36, "They will never die again. In these respects they are like angels." By the power, presence, and goodness of God—their bodies shall be so perfumed and embalmed, that they shall never corrupt, nor be subject to mortality. Manna, by a divine power, was kept many hundred years in the golden pot without putrefying or corrupting, and so shall the glorified bodies of the saints be preserved and kept pure and immortal.

The immortality of glorified bodies shall far excel that of Adam's in paradise, for they shall be free from all possibility of dying; for they shall be perfectly and perpetually freed from all corruptible and corrupting elements. Glorified bodies shall have no seeds of corruption in them, nor any corruptive, harmful, malignant, or afflictive passion attending them. Adam in his noble estate was in a possibility of dying—but the saints in their glorified condition are above all possibility of dying. This is a happiness which Adam could not reach to, in his state of integrity. This great blessing lies upon all who shall come to glory.

It is reported of the Duke of Bouillon and his company, that when they went to Jerusalem, as soon as they saw the high turrets they gave a mighty shout, which even made the earth ring, crying out, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" So when the saints shall all meet in the heavenly Jerusalem, oh how will they make even heaven to ring again, crying out, Immortality! immortality! immortality!

And thus, I suppose, I have clearly and fully made good that great truth, namely—that the best and greatest things are reserved for believers until they come to heaven.