« ZurückWeiter »
most specious, but arbitrary and constrained system of argumentation, to be the doctrine of God's Word upon this subject.
You perceive that the point of difficulty does not consist in the simple resurrection of the bodies, but of the same bodies. “ With what body do they come?” asks the objector; indicating by his interrogatory, that it certainly can not be with the same bodies. Thus he settles down in the persuasion that it is demonstrated, by the very nature of the case, that the resurrection of the dead “is inconceivable and incredible.”
But we rejoin: That is the very thing to be proven, and not taken for granted. The question is, “ Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?”-not separate a living principle from the dead, but raise the dead. And what is it of man that dies ? Not the soul or spirit, but the body. And if “the dead shall be raised incorruptible," as is affirmed in the Word of God, and the bodies of men only die, should we not understand God's Word as affirming that the dead bodies of men shall be the subject of a resurrection?
But these bodies, immediately subsequent to death, undergo decomposition—" the dust returns to the earth as it was”-and their elements enter into other organic or inorganic alliancesit may be, to some extent, become constituent parts of other living bodies; and it is not absurd to presume that the material elements, which entered into the organization of the bodies of the first men who fell victims of mortality thousands of years ago, have sustained organic connection, as constituent elements, with thousands of other human bodies since their day.
How, therefore, it is asked, can the same bodies ever be raised from the dead? To suppose such an event possible is. to suppose that bodies can be and not be possessed of the same constituent elements at one and the same time, which is a palpable contradiction, and therefore beyond even Divine power to effect. The conclusion deduced follows infallibly from the premises laid down, that the resurrection of the dead is clearly impossible, and the objector seems, at last, to have demonstrated his charge of incredibility.
But the premises—are they correct? Sound logic can reach
false conclusions only from false premises. Whether these are true or false, therefore, it is all-important to ascertain before we proceed to build an argument upon them, and to deduce our corrollaries. All our reasoning, however well-sustained and beautifully concatenated, must be utterly abortive in the search of truth or exposure of error, if it sets out with a false major proposition.
We deny the correctness of the premises assumed, and hence we regard the conclusion as invalidated by this fact. It is not essential to the resurrection of the dead bodies, that the risen bodies should be constituted of precisely the same material elements with the mortal bodies which they represent, in order that we may be justified in believing the scripture doctrine of the resurrection. It is his own body which God promises to confer upon every soul of man, in the event of the resurrection_his own body in distinction from the body of another; and in this proprietorship—whatever may be the essence of it consists the peculiar relationship between the mortal and immortal bodies—the bodies dead and the bodies risen. And this proprietorship is a felt-proprietorship inhering in the consciousness of each individual soul of man, so that, as in the present life, through the successive periods of it, man is always assured that he is possessed of his own body in distinction from that of another, it shall be also his own body which the resurrection will rescue from the state of the dead, as the future immortal organism of his immortal soul. It will therefore be a sameness or identity of proprietorship; and this sameness or identity, consciously perpetuated through continued changes and periods of time, does not consist in the sameness or identity of the inert, passive materials of the body, but in the living, active principle of the body, the soul. The man-proper is not the body, but the soul, for man was not man till he received the breath of life, and then, it is written, "man became a living soul.”
Upon this principle, no contradiction is involved in the event of the resurrection of the dead, any more than in the actual continuing of the existence of the same body from one moment to another on earth, in midst of the incessant flux and reflux of material particles which enter into and pass away from its ever-changing constituency. The sameness—the
identity—is in the soul—is a personal identity, a felt personal identity, which pervades the whole compound being of man in his compound state, whether antecedent to death or subsequent to the resurrection.
V. But whether we shall regard it as credible or incredible that God should raise the dead, is so dependent upon the particular conception we may form of the nature of the sameness or identity in question, that our chief attention, in this discussion, will be devoted to an attempt to develop and elucidate the true idea of the identity involved. It is a subject of acknowledged difficulty, and one which it was well worthy of the cultivated analytical powers of the great Butler to reduce from incomprehensible mystery to the light of intelligibility. Mystery still cleaves to it, however, and always must, just as essential mystery envelops and pervades every work of the Glorious Deity. But its mystery is not such as to justify us in rejecting its truth, or in failing to apprehend it as truth, by the understanding
That a recognized relationship is destined to subsist between the dead and the raised bodies, sufficient to justify the predication of a species of sameness or identity between them, is an inevitable inference from the language employed by the Scriptures in the presentation of this subject. But observe, we say a species of sameness or identity. Now, the question is, what is that species? In what does its specific nature consist? How may it be clearly and satisfactorily defined and explained? To solve this problem is the task we are now about to undertake. And as preparatory to this solution, we will first consider in what senses the dead and the raised bodies are not the same, or wherein their identity does not consist. 1. Their sameness or identity does not consist in their being distinguished by the same peculiar attributes ; for in this respect they are not identical, but are as variant from each other as light from darkness, life from death; or rather, we should say, as glory from vileness, power from weakness, incorruption from corruptibility, immortality from mortality, Yes, the risen body—especially of such as have part in the first resurrection-is essentially different from and superior to the dead body in its peculiar properties.
Thus God's Word teaches." Paul, in his epistle to the Phil
ippians (iii: 20, 21), speaking of the present life and future destination of Christians, says, “Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.” The second coming of the Lord is here referred to by the apostle, in which event the resurrection of the dead will be effected; and then it is that these our now vile bodies shall be changed-shall be purified from all their vileness, and shall be made glorious after the manner of Christ's glorious body.
Again, says the apostle in his epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. xv: 43, 44), “ It-that is, the dead body—is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” Further, he says (same chap., 52, 53), “The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, * * * for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
Thus while revelation carefully retains the idea of an identity subsisting between the dead and the risen bodies, it likewise, with equal care, assures us that this identity does not consist in an identity of attributes. The object of our search, therefore, must be sought elsewhere, for we have not found, and can not find it here.
2. Still further, their identity does not consist in their being constituted of the same identical particles of matter. How abundantly this is both proven and illustrated by the consciousness of every living man in his present body! It is a matter of fact too well ascertained to be denied, that our bodies, while performing the ordinary functions of life, are continually undergoing changes in their material consistency-that really no two successive moments find this constituency precisely the same. In every inhalation of the lungs, in the common act of breathing, we receive material elements into union with our physical organisms, so that these elements become constituent parts of said organisms, and contribute to nourish and sustain them; and at the same time, we give out or exhale into the air, material particles which had sustained a
living union with our bodies up to this moment, but now are returned to the great reservoir of nature to fulfill another mission there. Food and drink taken into the body, in answer to the imperious demands of hunger and thirst, are assimilated, by a most wonderful and benevolent process, to all the varied and complex organs and tissues of our most fearfully and wonderfully made bodies, so as promptly to supply the place of effete particles carried away, and thus keep up the integrity of every bone, and muscle, and nerve, and sinew, and membrane, as long as a healthy life is sustained.
There is an incessant pulling down and building up of our physical systems-a transferring of material elements, some being removed and others being substituted in their steada constant resurrection from the dead, and of the dead, as it were, exemplified in our daily experience. There is no fact in nature with which we are more conversant than this. We are living and dying, dying and living at every breath. We are passing from old to new bodies every instant of time.
And yet there is a felt identity between the old and the new body-between the body of the moment before and that of the moment after-yea, between the body of the child, which has not yet encountered the vicissitudes of this life for a single hour, and the body of the frail, trembling, paralytic patriarch, eighty years afterward, bending into the grave. But certainly, it is not an identity of material elements, nor an identity growing out of, or resulting from, matter at all in any of the peculiar arrangements it may assume as the temporary tabernacle of the soul.
3. We go further, and say that there is reason to presume that the material constituency of the raised body must vary from that of the dead or mortal body; else the change of attributes by which the former is distinguished from the latter would be impracticable without a change in the essential properties of matter.
The whole number of material elements supposed to enter into the constitution of the human body has been estimated at about sixteen. This is the maximum estimate. Chemists have hitherto been able to detect but sixty-six primary elements in all nature, and comparatively few of these are the basis of all nature's phenomena. Into the human body these