(Edwards, Absent From the Body. part 2)
[Platinga copy]

saints in heaven are partakers with Christ in the joy and glory of
the advancement and prosperity of his kingdom of grace on earth,
and success of his gospel here, which he looks on as the peculiar
glory of his reign.
     The good shepherd rejoices when he finds but one sheep that
was lost; and his friends and neighbors in heaven rejoice with him
on that occasion. That part of the family that is in heaven is
surely not unacquainted with the affairs of that part of the same
family that is on earth. They that are with the King and are next
to him, the royal family, that dwell in his palace, are not kept
in ignorance of the affairs of his kingdom. The saints in heaven
are with the angels, the King's ministers, by which he manages the
affairs of his kingdom, and who are continually ascending and
descending from heaven to the earth, and one or other of them
daily employed as ministering spirits to each individual member of
the church below: besides the continual ascending of the souls of
departed saints from all parts of the militant church. On these
accounts the saints in heaven must needs be under a thousand times
greater advantage than we here for a full view of the state of the
church on earth, and a speedy, direct, and certain acquaintance
with all its affairs in every part. And that which gives them much
greater advantage for such an acquaintance than the things already
mentioned, is their being constantly in the immediate presence of
Christ, and in the enjoyment of the most perfect intercourse with
him, who is the King who manages all these affairs, and has an
absolutely perfect knowledge of them. Christ is the head of the
whole glorified assembly; they are mystically his glorified body:
and what the head sees, it sees for the information of the whole
body, according to its capacity: and what the head enjoys, is for
the joy of the whole body.
     The saints, in leaving this world, and ascending to heaven,
do not go out of sight of things appertaining to Christ's kingdom
on earth; but, on the contrary, they go out of a state of
obscurity, and ascend above the mists and clouds into the clearest
light: to a pinnacle in the very centre of light, where every
thing appears in clear view. They have as much greater advantage
to view the state of Christ's kingdom, and the works of the new
creation here, than while they were in this world, as a man that
ascends to the top of a high mountain has a greater advantage to
view the face of the earth, than he had while he was in a deep
valley, or thick forest below, surrounded on every side with those
things that impeded and limited his sight. Nor do they view as
indifferent or unconcerned spectators, any more than Christ
himself is an unconcerned spectator.
     The happiness of the saints in heaven consists very much in
beholding the glory of God appearing in the work of redemption:
for it is by this chiefly that God manifests his glory, the glory
of his wisdom, holiness, grace, and other perfections, to both
saints and angels; as is apparent by many Scriptures. And
therefore undoubtedly their happiness consists very much in
beholding the progress of this work in its application and
success, and the steps by which infinite power and wisdom bring it
to its consummation. And the saints in heaven are under
unspeakably greater advantage to take the pleasure of beholding
the progress of this work on earth than we are that are here; as
they are under greater advantages to see and understand the
marvellous steps that Divine Wisdom takes in all that is done, and
the glorious ends he obtains, the opposition Satan makes, and how
he is baffled and overthrown. They can better see the connection
of one event with another, and the beautiful order of all things
that come to pass in the church in different ages that to us
appear like confusion. Nor do they only view these things, and
rejoice in them, as a glorious and beautiful sight, but as persons
interested, as Christ is interested; as possessing these things in
Christ, and reigning with him, in this kingdom. Christ's success
in his work of redemption, in bringing home souls to himself,
applying his saving benefits by his Spirit, and the advancement of
the kingdom of grace in the world, is the reward especially
promised to him by his Father in the covenant of redemption, for
the hard and difficult service he performed while in the form of a
servant; as is manifest by Isai. liii. 10, 11, 12. But the saints
shall be rewarded with him: they shall partake with him in the joy
of this reward; for this obedience that is thus rewarded is
reckoned to them as they are his members, as was before observed.
This was especially the joy that was set before Christ, for the
sake of which he endured the cross and despised the shame. And his
joy is the joy of all heaven. They that are with him in heaven are
under much the greatest advantages to partake with him in this
joy; for they have a perfect communion with him through whom, and
in fellowship with whom, they enjoy and possess their whole
inheritance, all their heavenly happiness; as much as the whole
body has all its pleasure of music by the ear, and all the
pleasure of its food by the mouth and stomach; and all the benefit
and refreshment of the air by the lungs. The saints while on earth
pray and labor for the same thing that Christ labored for, viz.,
the advancement of the kingdom of God among men, the promoting of
the prosperity of Zion, and flourishing of religion in this world;
and most of them have suffered for that end as Christ did, have
been made partakers with their head in his sufferings, and "filled
up (as the apostle expresses it) that which is behind of the
sufferings of Christ:" and therefore they shall partake with him
of the glory and joy of the end obtained. Rom. viii. 17, "We are
joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we
may be also glorified together." 2 Tim. ii. 12, "If we suffer with
him, we shall also reign with him." Christ, when his sufferings
were past, and he left the earth and ascended into heaven, was so
far from having done with kingdom in this world, that it was as it
were but then begun: and he ascended for that very end, that he
might more fully possess and enjoy this kingdom, that he might
reign in it, and be under the best advantages for it; as much as a
king ascends a throne in order to reign over his people, and
receive the honor and glory of his dominion. No more have the
saints done with Christ's kingdom on earth, when they leave the
earth and ascend into heaven. "Christ came (i.e., ascended) with
clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and was brought
near before him, to the very end, that he might receive dominion,
and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages,
should serve him," Dan. vii. 13, 14. Which shall be eminently
fulfilled after the ruin of Antichrist, which is especially the
time of Christ's kingdom. And the same is the time when "the
kingdom and dominion, and greatness of the kingdom under the whole
heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most
High God;" as verse 27, in the same chapter. It is because they
shall reign in and with Christ, the Most High, as seems intimated
in the words that follow; "whose kingdom is an everlasting
kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." This verse
is true, not only of the saints on earth, but also the saints in
heaven. Hence the saints in heaven, having respect to this time,
do sing, in Rev. v. 10, "We shall reign on the earth." And
agreeably hereto, it is afterwards represented, that when the
forementioned time comes, the souls of them that in former ages
had suffered with Christ do reign with Christ; having as it were
given to them new life and joy, in that spiritual blessed
resurrection, which shall then be of the church of God on earth;
and thus it is that it is said, Matt. v. 5, "The meek (those that
meekly and patiently suffer with Christ, and for his sake) shall
inherit the earth:" they shall inherit it, and reign on earth with
Christ. Christ is the heir of the world; and when the appointed
time of his kingdom comes, his inheritance shall be given him, and
then the meek, who are joint heirs, shall inherit the earth. The
place in the Old Testament whence the words are taken, leads to a
true interpretation of them. Psal. xxxvii. 11, "The meek shall
inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance
of peace." That there is reference in these latter words, "the
abundance of peace," to the peace and blessedness of the latter
days, we may be satisfied by comparing these words with Psal.
lxxii. 7," In his days shall be abundance of peace so long as the
moon endureth:" and Jer. xxxiii. 6, "I will reveal to them the
abundance of peace and truth:" also Isai. ii. 4, Micah iv. 3,
Isai. xi. 6--9, and many other parallel places. The saints in
heaven will be as much with Christ in reigning over the nations,
and in the glory of his dominion at that time, as they will he
with him in the honor of judging the world at the last day. That
promise of Christ to his disciples, Matt. xix. 28, 29, seems to
have a special respect to the former of these. In verse 28, Christ
promises to the disciples, that hereafter, "when the Son of Man
shall sit on the throne of his glory, they shall sit on twelve
thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." The saints in
heaven reigning on earth in the glorious latter day, is described
in language accommodated to this promise of Christ, Rev. xx. 4:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them; and judgment was given
them. And they reigned with Christ." And the promise in the next
verse, in that xixth of Matthew, seems to have its fulfillment at
the same time: "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or
brethren, or sisters, or fathers, or wife, or children, or lands,
for my name's sake shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit
everlasting life;" i.e., in the time when the saints shall inherit
the earth and reign on earth, the earth, with all its blessings
and good things, shall be given in great abundance to the church,
to be possessed by the saints. This shall they receive in this
present world, and in the time to come everlasting life. The
saints in heaven shall partake with Christ in the triumph and
glory of those victories that he shall obtain in that future
glorious time, over the kings and nations of the world, that are
sometimes represented by his ruling them with a rod of iron, and
dashing them in pieces as a potter's vessel. Which doubtless there
is respect to in Rev. ii. 26, 27: "He that overcometh, and keepeth
my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
(and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessel of a
potter shall they be broken to shivers:) even as I received of my
Father." And Psal. cxlix. 5, to the end: "Let the saints be joyful
in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds;" i.e., in their
separate state after death; compare Isai. lvii. 1, 2. Let the high
praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their
hand: to execute vengeance upon the Heathen, and punishments upon
the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with
fetters of iron, to execute upon them the judgment written: this
honor have all the saints." Accordingly when Christ appears riding
forth to his victory over Antichrist, Rev. xix., the hosts of
heaven appear going forth with him in robes of triumph, verse 14.
And when Antichrist is destroyed, the inhabitants of heaven, and
the holy apostles and prophets, are called upon to rejoice, chap.
xviii. 20. And accordingly the whole multitude of the inhabitants
of heaven, on that occasion, do appear to exult and praise God
with exceeding joy, chap. xix. 1Q8, and chap. xi. 15; and are also
represented as greatly rejoicing on occasion of the ruin of the
heathen empire, in the days of Constantine, chap xii. 10.
     And it is observable all along in the visions of that book,
the hosts of heaven appear as much concerned and interested in the
events appertaining to the kingdom of Christ here below, as the
saints on earth. The day of the commencement of the church's
latter day glory is eminently "the day of Christ's espousals; the
day of the gladness of his heart, when as the bridegroom rejoiceth
over the bride, so he will rejoice over his church." And then will
all heaven exceedingly rejoice with him. And therefore they say at
that time, Rev. xix. 7, "Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give
glory to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come."
     Thus Abraham enjoys these things when they come to pass, that
were of old promised to him, and that he saw beforehand, and
rejoiced in. He will enjoy the fulfilment of the promise of all
the families of the earth being blessed in his seed, when it shall
be accomplished. And all the ancient patriarchs, who died in faith
of promises of glorious things that should be accomplished in this
world, "who had not received the promises, but saw them afar off,
and were persuaded of them, and embraced them," do actually enjoy
them when fulfilled. David actually saw and enjoyed the fulfilment
of that promise, in its due time, which was made to him many
hundred years before, and was all his salvation and all his
desire. Thus Daniel shall stand in his lot at the end of the days
pointed out by his own prophecy. Thus the saints of old that died
in faith, not having received the promises, are made perfect, and
have their faith crowned by the better things accomplished in
these latter days of the gospel, Heb. xi. 39, 40, which they see
and enjoy in their time.
     3. The departed souls of saints have fellowship with Christ,
in his blessed and eternal employment of glorifying the Father.
     The happiness of heaven consists not only in contemplation,
and a mere passive enjoyment, but consists very much in action.
And particularly in actively serving and glorifying God. This is
expressly mentioned as a great part of the blessedness of the
saints in their most perfect state, Rev. xxii. 3: "And there shall
be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be
in it; and his servants shall serve him." The angels are as a
flame of fire in their ardor and activity in God's service: the
four animals, Rev. iv. (which are generally supposed to signify
the angels), are represented as continually giving praise and
glory to God, and are said not to rest day nor night, verse 8. The
souls of departed saints are, doubtless, become as the angels of
God in heaven in this respect. And Jesus Christ is the head of the
whole glorious assembly; as in other things appertaining to their
blessed state, so in this of their praising and glorifying the
Father. When Christ, the night before he was crucified, prayed for
his exaltation to glory, it was that he might glorify the Father:
John xvii. 1, "These words spake Jesus, and lift up his eyes to
heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that
thy Son also may glorify thee." And this he doubtless does, now he
is in heaven; not only in fulfilling the Father's will, in what he
does as head of the church and ruler of the universe, but also in
leading the heavenly assembly in their praises. When Christ
instituted the Supper, and ate and drank with his disciples at his
table (giving them therein a representation and pledge of their
future feasting with him, and drinking new wine in his heavenly
Father's kingdom), he at that time led them in their praises to
God, in that hymn that they sang. And so doubtless he leads his
glorified disciples in heaven. David was the sweet psalmist of
Israel, and he led the great congregation of God's people in their
songs of praise. Herein, as well as in innumerable other things,
he was a type of Christ, who is often spoken of in Scripture by
the name of David. And many of the psalms that David penned, were
songs of praise, that he, by the spirit of prophecy, uttered in
the name of Christ, as Head of the church, and leading the saints
in their praises. Christ in heaven leads the glorious assembly in
their praises to God, as Moses did the congregation of Israel at
the Red Sea; which is implied in its being said, that "they sing
the song of Moses and the Lamb," Rev. xv. 2, 3. In Rev. xix. 5,
John tells us, that "he heard a voice come out of the throne,
saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him,
both small and great." Who can it be that utters this voice out of
the throne, but the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne,
calling on the glorious assembly of saints to praise his Father
and their Father, his God and their God? And what the consequence
of this voice is, we have an account in the next words: "And I
heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice
of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying,
Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."


     The use that I would make of what has been said on this
subject is of EXHORTATION. Let us all be exhorted hence earnestly
seek after that great privilege that has been spoken of, that when
"we are absent from the body, we may be present with the Lord." We
cannot continue always in these earthly tabernacles: they are very
frail, and will soon decay and fall; and are continually liable to
be overthrown by innumerable means: our souls must soon leave
them, and go into the eternal world. O, how infinitely great will
the privilege and happiness of such be, who at that time shall go
to be with Christ in his glory, in the manner that has been
represented! The privilege of the twelve disciples was great, in
being so constantly with Christ as his family, in his state of
humiliation. The privilege of those three disciples was great, who
were with him in the mount of his transfiguration; where was
exhibited to them some little semblance of his future glory in
heaven, such as they might behold in the present frail, feeble,
and sinful state: they were greatly entertained and delighted with
what they saw; and were for making tabernacles to dwell there, and
return no more down the mount. And great was the privilege of
Moses when he was with Christ in Mount Sinai, and besought him to
show him his glory, and he saw his back parts as he passed by, and
proclaimed his name. But is not that privilege infinitely greater,
that has now been spoken of, the privilege of being with Christ in
heaven, where he sits on the right hand of God, in the glory of
the King and God of angels, and of the whole universe, shining
forth as the great light, the bright sun of that world of glory;
there to dwell in the full, constant and everlasting view of his
beauty and brightness; there most freely and intimately to
converse with him, and fully to enjoy his love, as his friends and
spouse; there to have fellowship with him in the infinite pleasure
and joy he has in the enjoyment of his Father; there to sit with
him on his throne, and reign with him in the possession of all
things, and partake with him in the joy and glory of his victory
over his enemies, and the advancement of his kingdom in the world,
and to join with him in joyful songs of praise to his Father and
their Father, to his God and their God, forever and ever? Is not
such a privilege worth the seeking after?
     But here, as a special enforcement of this exhortation, I
would improve that dispensation of God's holy providence, that is
the sorrowful occasion of our coming together at this time, viz.,
the death of that eminent servant of Jesus Christ, in the work of
the gospel ministry, whose funeral is this day to be attended;
together with what was observable in him, living and dying.
     In this dispensation of Providence, God puts us in mind of
our mortality, and forewarns us that the time is approaching when
we must be absent from the body, and "must all appear (as the
apostle observes in the next verse but one to my text) before the
judgment seat of Christ, that every one of us may receive the
things done in the body, according to what we have done, whether
it be good or bad."
     And in him, whose death we are now called to consider and
improve, we have not only an instance of mortality, but an
instance of one that, being absent from the body, is present with
the Lord; as we have all imaginable reason to conclude. And that,
whether we consider the nature of the operations he was under,
about the time whence he dates his conversion, or the nature and
course of his inward exercises from that time forward, or his
outward conversation and long space wherein he looked death in the
     His convictions of sin, preceding his first consolations in
Christ (as appears by a written account he has left of his inward
exercises and experiences), were exceeding deep and thorough: his
trouble and exercise of mind, through a sense of guilt and misery,
very great and long continued, but yet sound and solid; consisting
in no unsteady, violent and unaccountable hurries and frights, and
strange perturbations of mind; but arising from the most serious
consideration, and proper illumination of the conscience to
discern and consider the true state of things. And the light let
into his mind at conversion, and the influences and exercises that
his mind was subject to at that time, appear very agreeable to
reason and the gospel of Jesus Christ; the change very great and
remarkable, without any appearance of strong impressions on the
imagination, sudden flights and pangs of the affections, and
vehement emotions in animal nature; but attended with proper
intellectual views of the supreme glory of the divine Being,
consisting in the infinite dignity and beauty of the perfections
of his nature, and of the transcendent excellency of the way of
salvation by Christ. This was about eight years ago, when he was
about twenty-one years of age.
     Thus God sanctified and made meet for his use, that vessel
that he intended to make eminently a vessel of honor in his house,
and which he had made of large capacity, having endowed him with
very uncommon abilities and gifts of nature. He was a singular
instance of a ready invention, natural eloquence, easy flowing
expression, sprightly apprehension, quick discerning, and a very
strong memory; and yet of a very penetrating genius, close and
clear thought, and piercing judgment. He had an exact taste: his
understanding was (if I may so express it) of a quick, strong and
distinguishing scent.
     His learning was very considerable: he had a great taste for
learning; and applied himself to his studies in so close a manner
when he was at college, that he much injured his health; and was
obliged on that account for a while to leave the college, throw by
his studies and return home. He was esteemed one that excelled in
learning in that society.
     He had an extraordinary knowledge of men, as well as things.
Had a great insight into human nature, and excelled most that ever
I knew in a communicative faculty: he had a peculiar talent at
accommodating himself to the capacities, tempers and
circumstances, of those that he would instruct or counsel.
     He had extraordinary gifts for the pulpit: I never had
opportunity to hear him preach, but have often heard him pray: and
I think his manner of addressing himself to God, and expressing
himself before him, in that duty, almost inimitable; such (so far
as I may judge) as I have very rarely known equalled. He expressed
himself with that exact propriety and pertinency, in such
significant, weighty, pungent expressions; with that decent
appearance of sincerity, reverence, and solemnity, and great
distance from all affectation, as forgetting the presence of men,
and as being in the immediate presence of a great and holy God,
that I have scarcely ever known paralleled. And his manner of
preaching, by what I have often heard of it from good judges, was
no less excellent; being clear and instructive, natural, nervous,
forcible, and moving, and very searching and convincing. He
nauseated an affected noisiness, and violent boisterousness in the
pulpit; and yet much disrelished a flat, cold delivery, when the
subject of discourse, and matter delivered, required affection and
     Not only had he excellent talents for the study and the
pulpit, but also for conversation. He was of a sociable
disposition; and was remarkably free, entertaining, and profitable
in ordinary discourse; and had much of a faculty of disputing,
defending truth and confuting error.
     As he excelled in his judgment and knowledge of things in
general, so especially in divinity. He was truly, for one of his
standing, an extraordinary divine. But above all, in matters
relating to experimental religion. In this, I know I have the
concurring opinion of some that have had a name for persons of the
best judgment. And according to what ability I have to judge
things of this nature, and according to my opportunities, which of
late have been very great, I never knew his equal, of his age and
standing, for clear, accurate notions of the nature and essence of
true religion, and its distinctions from its various false
appearances; which I suppose to be owing to these three things
meeting together in him;--the strength of his natural genius, and
the great opportunities he had of observation of others, in
various parts, both white people and Indians, and his own great
     His experiences of the holy influences of God's Spirit were
not only great at his first conversion, but they were so, in a
continued course, from that time forward; as appears by a record,
or private journal, he kept of his daily inward exercises, from
the time of his conversion, until he was disabled by the failing
of his strength, a few days before his death. The change which he
looked upon as his conversion, was not only a great change of the
present views, affections, and frame of his mind; but was
evidently the beginning of that work of God on his heart, which
God carried on, in a very wonderful manner, from that time to his
dying day. He greatly abhorred the way of such, as live on their
first work, as though they had now got through their work, and are
thence forward, by degrees, settled in a cold, lifeless,
negligent, worldly frame; he had an ill opinion of such persons'
     Oh that the things that were seen and heard in this
extraordinary person, his holiness, heavenliness, labor and self-
denial in life, his so remarkably devoting himself and his all, in
heart and practice, to the glory of God, and the wonderful frame
of mind manifested, in so steadfast a manner, under the
expectation of death, and the pains and agonies that brought it
on, may excite in us all, both ministers and people, a due sense
of the greatness of the work we have to do in the world, the
excellency and amiableness of thorough religion in experience and
practice, and the blessedness of the end of such, whose death
finishes such a life, and the infinite value of their eternal
reward, when absent from the body and present with the Lord; and
effectually stir us up to endeavors, that in the way of such a
holy life we may at least come to so blessed an end.   AMEN.


[1] Preached on the day of the funeral of the Rev. Mr. David
Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, from the Honorable Society in
Scotland for the propagation of Christian Knowledge, and Pastor of
a Church of Christian Indians in New Jersey; who died at
Northampton, in New England, October 9, 1747, in the 30th year of
his age, and was interred on the l2th following.

[2] We have omitted a few pages which follow here of this
discourse, because what the author communicates, respecting Mr.
Brainerd, is to be found almost in the same words in the Memoirs
of his life, and in his Reflections upon it, which he afterwards


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