A Sermon Preached By John Hazelton, At Mount Zion Chapel, Chadwell Street, Clerkenwell, On Lord’s-Day Evening, 14th February, 1875
Job had spiritual breathing times before the throne of God. There were moments in his sufferings, when his spirit was buoyant, and his feelings lively; when his thoughts were carried on high, and he was more than a match for Satan, and equal to all his pains and afflictions. Sometimes we see him plunged as it were, into the greatest depths, and then we hear the language of deep and bitter complaint. Again, we see him rise to the surface, and breathing sentiments of joy. The hand of his covenant God was underneath him, and the Spirit of Jehovah raised him above the flood, when he again and again used the language of confidence,—“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” “My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.” “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” And thus you see, Job had his changes. The night was terribly dark, but a star or two now and then appeared. The cup which was put into his hand was filled with terrible bitters, but now and then the Lord put something sweet into his spirit. The wounds which had been inflicted upon him were terribly deep, and the sufferings which they produced were unspeakable; but every now and then he was favoured with a sweet and soul-ravishing view of his God, and thus he was sustained, and helped to bear his sorrows. We find Job saying here, “Oh that my words were now written, that they were printed in a book!” Well, that wish has been at least partially fulfilled, whether Job knew it would be so or not; for they have been printed in a book, and we have the book before us here to-night. But Job proceeded to say, “Oh that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever.” Whether that wish of Job was fulfilled or not, I do not know. The idea appears to be this—and it may strike you as somewhat novel—Job knew he was a dying man, and that his poor dying body would drop into the grave; and he said, Oh that there might be engraven upon my tomb or tombstone as with an iron pen these important words;—“I know that my Redeemer liveth,” Whether these words were written upon his tombstone, or whether Job had a tombstone or not, I cannot say. It appears to me, however, that this may have been the thought of Job, and that he expressed it in the language before us First—“Oh! that my words were written in a book,”—they are here; and secondly, “That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock (where perhaps I may have a sepulchre) for ever.” Job wished these words might appear on his grave or be graven with an iron pen upon the rock: I am dead, and my flesh is here, but I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body yet in my flesh shall I see God. The remainder of the wish expressed you will read at your leisure. The whole of it is indicative of the deepest spirituality, and the clearest and most comprehensive knowledge of the things of God. I may just observe one thing more. What did Job refer to when he said, “My Redeemer will stand at the latter day upon the earth!” The learned tell us that the word translated “stand” here, has a great variety of meanings in the original. Sometimes we are to take it as it occurs before us—“He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”; and then looking thus at the words, we have Job’s faith in the incarnation of Christ, for the Gospel dispensation is called the last day, or the last days, or the latter days; and taking this meaning of the word Job expressed, if such was his thought, his faith in the advent and incarnation of the Saviour,—“And I shall see God who will appear in my flesh.” Another meaning of the word is—“He shall be lifted up above the earth at the latter day.” If this were the meaning of the Word as used by Job, then it expresses Job’s faith in the crucifixion of Jesus, “For I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me.” Another meaning of the word is “raised up”. If this he the meaning of the word used by Job, then Job expressed his faith in the resurrection of the dear Redeemer. Another meaning of the word is “stand upon or stand over; “ and that he shall stand over the earth, or above the earth, at the latter day. That appears to have been the word that was used by Job, and that is the view which we shall take of the subject to-night. This being the meaning of the word, as is most probable, it sets forth Job’s unbounded faith in the second coming of the Lord of life and glory. “ He shall stand over the earth, or above the earth at the latter day; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”
Let us take a three-fold view of our subject. First, contemplate it as a very important and glorious doctrine. In the Second place, consider it as an expression of spiritual confidence; and thirdly, look at it as indicating spiritual comfort and consolation; for it is a most comforting and consoling thought in view of death and eternity that we shall see God in these bodies of ours.
I. In the first place, let us contemplate our subject to-night as an important and glorious doctrine of grace. Looking at this aspect of the subject, you perceive that it naturally divides itself into two brunches first, the resurrection of the body; and secondly, the soul’s full and eternal vision of God. Let us offer a few thoughts on these two branches of this important subject.
1. First, The resurrection of the body—not the resurrection of the bodies of all men, though it is a fact, and a fact which we firmly believe, that the bodies of all men will be raised from the dead. Our attention, however, is to be limited for a few minutes to the resurrection of the redeemed bodies of the people of God. We believe most earnestly and intensely in the general resurrection of the wicked and the just. But Job was a good man, and spoke of himself, and we therefore confine our attention to our text and the resurrection of the bodies of God’s people. Now, let us notice in tho first place that the resurrection of the bodies of the church of God is necessary to satisfy the rights of Emanuel. I know that my remarks will he doctrinal for a few minutes, but I know also that the doctrines of divine grace are the spiritual food of faith; and if you can follow me here, perhaps you may be able to gather a few crumbs of heavenly bread which will be nourishing and strengthening to your spirits. The Saviour has a right to the bodies of his people, a right which is inalienable, a right he can never forfeit, a right which he will never ignore, and a right which is realisable and shall most certainly be realised. And is it not an unspeakable blessing to be interested in these rights of Emanuel, and to be enabled to say by divine teaching—In my flesh I shall see God, I shall see him in this body and for myself, and not another! Christian brethren, in London we have so much preaching, so much I had almost said—religion, and so many public services, in connection with the worship of God, that I am afraid these great facts frequently fall upon our ears as common things. Nevertheless, the last day will be a wonderful day, when churchyards and cemeteries shall yield up their teeming millions of the bodies ot ransomed men and women and they shall stand smiling beneath their descending and smiling Lord. However flatly these things may fall upon our ears now, it will be blessed to be found among the redeemed then, to look up and see the great white throne of our descending and smiling Lord, and to feel that influence which I cannot now describe, catching us up to meet the Lord in the air, that we may be for ever with him. It will not be a flat subject then. It will not then be insipid or uninteresting. The rights of Jesus Christ are such that the resurrection of the bodies of the saints of Christ must take place. Will you follow me for a few minutes while I point out a few Scripture facts. With regard to the donation of the church to Christ—“Thine they were, and thou gavest them me; “ and then turning to the sixth chapter of John, you hear the dear Saviour say, “It is the will of him that sent me that of all he gave me—of all that he gave me—I should lose none; and then secondly, “I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” It seems then, from this, that the bodies of the saints were given to Christ. You limit your attention in relation to eternal things to your minds, to your souls; but your whole persons were given to the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ says, They are mine, even their bodies, by my Father’s donation; and it is his will that I should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day; and therefore, not a limb nor an organ, not a power nor a faculty essential to our minds or our bodies shall be lost.” They are all the property of Jehovah-Jesus. They all belong to the dear Lamb of God; and Job says, “These eyes out of which I can hardly see by reason of their ulcerated condition, these eyes are his, and though they shall be eaten by worms, yet, by and by, they shall reappear in these very sockets and see God; for I shall see him for myself. And then again the body is redeemed; and if the Saviour has a right to the body on the ground of his Father’s donation, he has—I had almost said a further or a stronger right to it by reason of the fact that he has redeemed it with his precious blood. I do not know why I am directed to speak in this way to-night, for I am not preaching a funeral sermon; but I was reading the Book of Job, and the words seemed to fasten upon my mind, and I have brought them as my text. We are speaking of the redemption of the body by the Lord Jesus Christ—”Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your bodies, and in your spirits, which are his.” The Father’s gift renders it necessary that you should see Christ in your flesh. The Son’s redemption readers it necessary that you, if you are a redeemed man, should see God in Christ, in this flesh of yours. But that is not all. The body, my brethren,—and permit me to to say, perhaps you do not frequently soar so high;—the body, my brethren, is represented in heaven. We speak of the representative character and work of Jesus, and limit, I fear, our thoughts to our spirits; but he represents our whole persons there. Jesus Christ’s body is in heaven. Our Advocate before the throne appears there in our flesh and therefore our bodies are represented in a better world, even before the throne of God. That is not all. The body which you and the Bible call a vile, poor, frail, mortal, and dying body is a member of Christ and as really united to him as the soul is, for Paul speaking of purity of conduct and giving exhortations in relation to chastity, asks the question, “shall I take the members of Christ and unite them to a harlot?” So that the body of the saint of God is a member of the mystical body of Christ, and that mystical body cannot be perfect in heaven without that body of yours, which at present is poor and vile. “Wherefore,” says Paul, “comfort one another with these words. Do not tell me there is no comfort in the doctrine of the resurrection, that this is a subject too distant and too mysterious for our comfort and consolation. Is it not a deeply and an indescribably pleasant and delightful fact that death shall yield up every atom of its prey, and that Christ will have all he received from the Father, all he bled for, all that is united to him, all that he represents now in heaven, and all the temples of the Holy Ghost? In my flesh shall I see God. Christ’s rights are universal, and I have said a minute or two ago that they are realisable. Worldly wisdom sneeringly asks, “How can the body be raised from the dead when it has ceased to exist?” Consider cremation, or the destruction of the body by fire. And how, it is asked, when the body is consumed, burnt to nothing or next to nothing, how can it be re-produced? How can it be raised from the dead? How can it reappear? How did Almightiness produce it at first? How did Omnipotence bring this material world of ours out of nothing at first! Can we limit an Almighty hand? Christ, therefore, having bought the body, and made it his own, has a right to it and will realise his right; therefore, the body, though it be burnt by fire and its ashes be driven by every wind, and scorched by every sun, shall be reproduced by Omnipotence; for Christ has bought it with his blood. Even Job with all his ulcers, and others with all their sicknesses shall, notwithstanding all their sicknesses, reappear. There shall bo a reproduction of bodies and all shall in their flesh see God.
But that is not all. The resurrection of the body is necessary, not only to satisfy Christ’s rights, it is necessary to complete his victories. Our Lord is the Captain of our salvation, as well as our meritorious Saviour; and he came to conquer our enemies, and he will come the second time, without sin, unto salvation, to complete his conquests; for we read that he has a sword girded on his thigh. When he shall come to complete his conquests and finish salvation, he will use that sword. He has another blow, or other blows, to strike; other battles to fight, other victories to win, and other conquests, to gain; and therefore, the period is coming when he will be seen again on the earth and fight the last battle, gain the last victory, and achieve the last conquest; for he must reign till all enemies are put beneath his feet, and the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. Our Lord when he came the first time conquered death, but he did not utterly destroy him, he conquered him, and took him into his service, but did not make an end of death, and hence you and I are to die; but when he comes again he will destroy him whom he then subdued and conquered. When our Lord came the first time, he changed the nature of the grave, but he left the grave for us, he left it where it was, though ho did not leave it what it was. There is the grave ! We must go to it or be carried to it. Ministers of the gospel have frequently visited the grave, and seen many of the bodies of the saints lowered into that last home on earth. The grave still exists. But it must be destroyed, and cease to be. And Job believed in that fact—In my flesh shall I see God. Originally, or apart from Christ’s death, the grave was only death’s gloomy depository,—the jaws, the open jaws of death, and connected with sin only; it was opened to swallow up all the seed of Adam, and it swallowed for a time, the dear and blest Redeemer. The grave was originally, or by reason of sin, the prison of justice, and, my fellow-sinner, (here is a word to you): There are two bed-fellows in the grave. Looking at the grave as a bed chamber, or as a bed, there are two bed-fellows,—one is grace, and the other is sin. Grace and sin!—and if sin goes to bed with you when you are buried it will rise with you in the morning of the last day; and if grace goes to bed with you when you are buried, it will rise with you in the morning of that day. There are two states only for both body and soul. Well, then, the grave is, apart from Jesus Christ, the prison-house of justice, and it receives the bodies of the impenitent, and the sinner for the purpose of retaining them till the general assize, till the last trial. There the body of a sinner is in a state of confinement till the day of trial comes, when the Judge will call, power will open the prison and call the criminal out, the trial shall take place, conviction shall follow, and eternal banishment and ruin take place. But Christ has changed all that to the saint. It is not now a prison to his dear people. Job said, It will not be a prison to me. “Oh that my words were written with an iron pen on lead and on the rock for ever! I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that when he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth and call me out of the grave, I shall in my flesh see him and for ever know him.” The grave, therefore, is a bed chamber, a resting-place, a temporary abode, where the sacred dust of the church of God is deposited for a time. And the eye of the great Purchaser and Owner of the property is kept upon that property, and when he shall come and blow the great trumpet, “Awake! ye dead, and come to judgment!” then Job, and you, and I, and the millions of the redeemed shall respond to the call, “Thou shalt call and I will answer thee, and thou wilt have respect unto the work of thine hands.”
Thirdly, lest we should dwell too long in one place,—the resurrection of the body you will see is necessary to preserve our identity. It will be a resurrection of the body, not a new or another body. “In my flesh shall I see God,” and “These eyes shall behold him and not another.” The body that was born—do not trouble me with any philosophical observations or quibbles just now! I am preaching the gospel, and I have not time to go into the matter that in certain respects the body changes every seven years. The body that stands in the pulpit here before you to-night, is the body that was born fifty years ago or thereabouts. The body that was born, shall be raised. The body that grew, shall be raised. The body that suffered, shall be raised. The body that died, shall be raised. In my flesh shall I see God. You see the identity of the believer will be preserved forever. Our souls, these immortal substances or beings which we have in our breasts here, will go to heaven and be for ever with the Lord; but should we at the last day enter a strange tenement, a strange house, a strange body, our identity would not be perfect and complete, but we shall be united to our identical bodies. The spirit will be reunited to its own body, and there will be no confusion. I like sometimes to sit and think on that. There will be no confusion no mistake, no disorder. There will be Abraham’s body-glorious old saint !—and there will be his spirit and the reunion will take place. There will be Isaac and Jacob, and Joseph, and Job, and there will be other bodies and their spirits which are now in heaven will come with the Lord. The reunion shall take place and there will be no mistake, no confusion, no disorder. What a meeting it will be between the body and the soul after a separation of hundreds or thousands of yearsJ Ah! Watts sings:—
“Corruption, earth, and worms,
Shall but refine this flesh,
Till my triumphant spirit comes,
To put it on afresh.”
And methinks how disappointed and tormented Satan will be when he sees the destruction of his first-born sin, his second-born death, and his third-born the grave, when he sees all his offspring dead, and the raised bodies of God’s people none the worse, but the better after having crumbled and mouldered into dust in the grave; for as death came by the first Adam, life comes by the Second. “By man came death, and by man came also the resurrection from tne dead.”
Fourthly and lastly: The resurrection of the body is necessary to complete our conformity to Christ. Without the resurrection of our body we should not be perfectly like him. His body is there. The body that Mary nursed, the body that walked about Jerusalem, the body that sat on Samaria’s well, the body that Judas kissed, the body that Pilate scourged, the dear head that was torn by the crown of thorns, the body that was nailed to the tree, the body that was put into tne grave of Joseph of Arimathea, that body was raised from the dead, that body of our Lord is now in heaven. And if these bodies of ours should not be raided, there will be a want of conformity, there will be imperfection in our conformity to the dear and blest Redeemer. But all is settled. Do not despise your body, for you will be buried in union to Christ. Your body will lie in the dust in sacred union to Christ; and at the last day, the Holy Ghost will enter your grave. Will he? So Paul says, Romans 8. I do not speak without the Book. Paul says, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Christ from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit which dwelleth in you. The Holy Ghost will enter the grave and revivify the body, sanctify the whole, spiritualise the whole, present the whole in its spirituality to Jesus Christ, and in a moment all shall be perfectly like the Lord of life and glory. This will be the climax of our religion, the consummation of Divine grace, and the fulfilment of the purposes of our God.
2. The vision of God. In my flesh I shall see him. Only a word or two. I shall see him in my nature, and hence some have supposed, and even gone as far as to say that was Job’s meaning: In my flesh I shall see God, and I shall see God dressed in my flesh. I do not mind how you take it. The literal meaning of the text is this, that in that body which was then sitting in ashes and covered with sores, Job shall see Christ at the last day; but it also a fact that Job will see God in his flesh, in his nature. We shall see God in Christ at the last day, and not see Abstract Deity, not a Being that will inspire us with terror and dread, not a distant object, an object far off. See God in our nature infinitely amiable, and attractive, and lovely. We shall know him, know him as our own God, and know him as our own in a moment. Not only see God in Christ, we shall realise the fact as we cannot realise it here, that he is our kinsman, our near kinsman, our brother! Oh friends, this will inspire us with confidence when the world is on fire, that Christ on the throne is our Brother! our Husband! that we are related to him, that the relationship is marvellously close and true. In my flesh shall I see God. Oh that it were graven on the rock for ever. We shall see him face to face without a vail between, and through no medium; and every organ, bodily as well as mental, will be qualified for the sight, qualified and strengthened to bear the weight of glory and splendour and majesty that will eternally emanate from the divine presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Live in the Sun, brother? We could not do that. Before that were possible a change would have to take place. Live in the glories of his face, in the splendours of the light of Ins countenance? We could not live in those splendours in our present state. It is a weight of glory. It would oppress us, bend us break us here. It is a weight of glory, but we shall be strengthened then. I cannot enter into this subject; I have never been there; I am guided by the Bible for glory must follow grace, and glory is said to be a weight. Heavy, however as it will be, we shall be strong to bear it, and never groan beneath it; for whilst it will be a weight, it will be a weight of glory. We shall see him face to face, and pleasure will be in both the redeemed and the Redeemer. Pleasure and love indicated in the countenances of both. The Saviour pleased to see his once suffering Job, and Job delighted to meet his Redeemer and his Lord, whom he shall see face to face. And the sight will be an influential one. This is a mystery which I cannot explain. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. A photographer takes your likeness in the light of the sun, and the solar light operates in such a manner under certain conditions that the result is your likeness. So when you come out of your grave, and your soul is united to your body, and the great Hun of righteousness shines, or the dear Redeemer descends, and your eyes are fixed upon him, his likeness shall be seen upon you at once. You will be a representation, a likeness, a copy of the great Christ of God. In my flesh shall I see God. It will be an everlasting sight, my brother. We see him by faith here, but see him only now and then. We come to his house, and do not always see him; we sometimes read the Bible, and do not see him at all, or not satisfactorily; and in Christian conversation we do not always see our Lord. But when we shall see him as he is without a veil between, we shall see him for ever, and the eye will never be removed from its object, never be taken off the dear Christ of God. Christian brother, we shall see all at once in him,—all that he is to us shall be seen immediately, and all that it is necessary we should know to constitute us perfect, we shall see at once in Christ. Now, my friend, we look from object to object, and from one thing to another, and we are obliged to do so, for our powers and parts are exceedingly limited. If we contemplate Christ as a Husband, we limit our attention to that one fact for a time. Then Christ as a Brother, we limit our attention to that for five or ten minutes; or as a bleeding Saviour,—we cannot take in all at once—-but when we see God in our flesh we shall see the Husband, the Brother, the Redeemer, the Saviour, yea, that Christ who is all in all to his dear people.
II. In my flesh shall I see God. It is an expression of confidence. How did Job know this? Job had not the written Word, there was no Bible in existence then. Neither had Abraham, Isaac, Jacob nor Joseph, the written Word. Neither had Moses the written Word until he was inspired to write a portion of it; therefore God communicated his mind and will to his ancient people in an extraordinary manner. Had Job seen the Son of God in visible form? Probably he had; for Abraham and the patriarchs frequently saw the Son of God in visible forms. Probably Job had seen and met the Son of God in some visible form, but I do not like speculation. Job had the Spirit of God, and God’s Spirit is always the Regenerator of God’s people, the Sanctifier of the soul in which he dwells, and the Witness of the covenant of grace; and Job having the Spirit of God, having been taught by that Spirit, and having received his testimony, said, “I know that Christ is my Redeemer, and that he liveth, and that in my flesh I shall see God. Now I will dismiss this part of my subject, although much more might be said upon it, and just offer one word on the last particular, viz:—
III. That the text exhibits a source of comfort and consolation. In my flesh shall I see God. Job said, as it were, this diseased body of mine—and it was covered with sores from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet, his breath was strange to his wife, he took a potsherd and scraped himself withal, and sat in ashes,—yet Job says, the condition of my body does not affect its union to Jesus. The hundreds of boils upon it, and pains within it, do not affect God’s love to my flesh. My body is still a member of the dear Redeemer, and an object of God’s love; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, which is now offensive, yet in my flesh shall I see God. I will only add one thing more by way of inference from the subject: If all this is true, (and it is, and much more than this is true) then my beloved friends, your bodies are cared for now by your God. I have sometimes been terribly concerned and distressed about my poor body, more so at times than I have about my soul. I have felt at times as if I could trust God a great deal better with my soul than I could with my body, and as though I could trust him for spiritual bread more readily than I could for temporal bread, Take a wide and comprehensive view of salvation.
He loves your bodies as strongly as he loves your souls. God will care for them as tenderly and deeply and as wisely as he will care for your souls; for they are Christ’s members, the purchase of his blood, the temples of the Holy Ghost, and Christ is bound to raise them up at the last day. Therefore he will supply them, and fix the bounds of their habitation on earth, and cause them to he instruments of accomplishing his own mind, will, and purpose. God loves that flesh of yours, not your corrupt nature, but he loves that flesh of yours as he loves your immortal soul. Therefore in your flesh you shall see God. The doctrine of the text is glorious; the confidence it expresses is holy; and the consolation it indicates is such as God only could prepare and reveal. Amen.
John Hazelton (1822-1888) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He served for thirty-six years as the Pastor for Chadwell Street Chapel, Clerkenwell. His sermons were printed monthly and gathered into a five volume set. William Styles wrote of him:
"When fairly underway there was a dignity in his carriage, a grandeur in his steady flow of appropriate language, and a majesty in his thoughts that commanded close attention. At times his heart caught fire and he rose to flights of eloquence of no common order. We never knew him embarrassed for want of a thought, or at a loss for the very word he required. In a sermon delivered at the settlement of a minister he said: 'Preach a four-square Gospel, in which election, redemption and regeneration are co-extensive. Preach salvation by mercy, by merit, and by might; by love, by blood, by power. The Father's love, the moving cause; the Saviour's blood, the meritorious cause; and the Spirit's power, the efficient cause—to the praise of the glory of free and sovereign grace.' His ministry was heartily received by all who loved distinctive truth. The writer remembers the late Mr. John Gadsby once speaking of it to him in affectionate terms. Part of the inscription on the memorial tablet in the chapel contains all that is necessary to sum up this reference: ‘Called by sovereign grace in early life, and qualified by the Holy Spirit for the work of the Christian ministry, he was enabled to proclaim the truth as it is in Jesus, in all its fulness and sufficiency. Bold in the advocacy of those doctrines which the Holy Spirit had revealed to him, it was his delight to set forth the love of a Triune Jehovah in the salvation of His Church; the Cross of Christ and His righteousness were to him a glorious reality, and "Jesus only " was ever the theme of his ministry.'"