<< LECTURE IV: Death and Resurrection >>
But as touching the resurrection of the dead,
have ye not read that which was spoken
unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham,
and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.—Matt. xxii. 31, 32.
PRAYER BEFORE THE LECTURE.
O LORD JESUS, God over all, blessed for ever, the Resurrection and the Life, grant us Thy presence, Thy light, and Thy blessing. We praise Thee that Thou hast formed us with immortal natures. We bless Thee for the gift of Thy Word, to train us for heaven. And we pray that Thou wilt so enlighten and strengthen us by Thy truth unfolded tonight, that we may indeed, in our daily lives, seek first Thy kingdom, and its righteousness. Raise us, we beseech Thee, from the death of sin. Quicken in us affections of holiness and purity. Prepare us, by a holy life of love to Thee, and our neighbor; of faith in Thy wisdom and thy promises; and of obedience to Thy blessed commandments, to walk before Thee in the land of the living. These mercies we ask in Thy own sacred name, Lord Jesus, and for Thy loving-kindness sake. Amen.
IT is impossible to conceive of a theme round which our affections more fondly group, or that is more interesting to us, than that which is comprised in the consideration of the termination of our career in this world, and our entrance into the final home in which all who are prepared become everlastingly happy.
The first remark to which we would desire to direct your attention upon this subject is, that death–meaning the termination of man’s life here, and his entrance into a higher and an everlasting state of existenceis not, as has often been supposed, the consequence of sin, but is a result of the Divine laws from which creation has been effected, and of the Divine intention, which was, from earth, to people heaven. Man, as to his animal part, like all those myriads of animals which geology tells us lived and died before man was created, would also live and die. There is a death that has been the result of sin, but that is not the death of the body–it is the death of the soul, spiritual death. Any one who reflects upon the subject will easily decided that it is a mistake of the most decided character to suppose that the death of the body was a thing that supervened as a condemnation of mans disobedience, and had not been foreseen and intended by Infinite Wisdom. For if we remember and reflect upon the fact that the Divine admonition, when men was cautioned not to sin, was, In the day that thou eatest therefor, thou shalt surely die, and bear in mind that what the Divine Wisdom declared must certainly have taken effect, will conclude that, as there was no death of the body on that day, it could not be that death which the Divine Being intended. Besides, if we reflect again, we shall see a reason to conclude that whatever inconvenience man received from the fall, Christ redeemed him from by His redemption; but inasmuch as Christ did not redeemer us from the death of the body, that could not have been one of the penalties of the fall.
The death into which man fell by sin was not the body’s death, but the death of the soul; that is, the death of purity, love, and light in the soul. The law from the first was as it is now –The soul that sinneth, it shall die.–Ezek. xviii. 20. The death which paralyzes all men’s capacities for happiness is kept before us in the Word as the one thing to be feared. From this death the Lord, as the Redeemer in the Old Testament, ever strove to deliver us; and as the Savior in the New, He brought life and immortality most fully to light. What was lost in Adam, was restored in Him. He came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly.–John x. 10. He died and rose again that we might live. The death induced by sin is conquered when, by the Saviors power, we overcome the sin. Hence it will be surprising to one who has only thought of his body, and conceived of its rejection at last, as meant in the Scriptures by death, to read so often of death as being abolished in those who are saved. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.–Ps. cxvi. 7, 8. But, if the wicked will turn from all his sin that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall NOT DIE.–Ezek. xviii. 21 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall NOT DIE.–ver. 27, 28. Make you a new heart and a right spirit, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?–v. 31. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord, God, wherefore turn yourselves, and LIVE YE.–v 32. The victory over sin is with equal distinctness in the Gospel set forth as the victory over death Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have ETERNAL LIFE.–John iii.15. He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but IS PASSED FROM DEATH TO LIFE.–chap. V. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and NOW IS, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.–v. 24, 25. He that believeth in me hath everlasting life.–John vi. 47. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and NOT DIE.
I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall LIVE FOR EVER.–v. 50, 51. If a man keep my saying HE SHALL NEVER SEE DEATH.–chap. Viii. 51. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, YET SHALL HE LIVE; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me SHALL NEVER DIE.–chap. Xi. 25, 26. And you HATH BE QUICKENED, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; by grace ye are saved, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.–Eph. ii. 1, 5.
It may appear plausible to some that natural death was a consequence of mans disobedience, while they are ignorant that this death existed long before even the existence of man. But now it is well known to those that are at all acquainted with the condition of the earth, that geology teaches by ten thousand lessons, that millions of years before man stood upon this earth at all, both plants and animals lived and died–races even died out altogether. So that it would be the merest ignorance to assume that death–that is to say, the death which is simply the termination of one portion of our career and the commencement of another–that this is anything but an ordination of the Most High. The progression to a higher state involves the death of a former; and if sin–the only death that man need fear–if sin is shunned, then the death of the body is no curse, but is in all respects a blessing. In fact, to suppose that, death–meaning earthly departure from this life–is other than a Divine ordination, is to forget that the earth is but the nursery in which God prepares His plants for paradise. This world is a world in which all things are covered up–all things have their probation. There is not a seed but what hath its sheath and covering. The seed gradually goes on to ripening, and, when ripened, it then throws off its covering, and comes out matured for its future use. It is in this light, therefore, that we ought to regard this world in relation to ourselves.
Man is covered up here. This is not the man that we see; it is only the mans dwelling-place; it is only the bark of the man; it is but the outward covering. What we touch, what we have to do with in this world of nature, is but, as it were, the mask in which the real man lives until he is prepared either for future happiness or a future of self-will, and therefore misery; and when he is thus ripened for his future home, he leaves the body, and enters upon that home. If he has lived according to God’s laws, he will then enter into all the fullness of God’s blessings.
In this point of view, then, no one can suppose, with a show of anything like reason, that death is a thing which we ought to regard with terror and dread. Rather we should regard it as God’s permission to move from this lower stage of being and to enter upon a higher, a holier, and a happier. It is the period when the soldier who has finished his campaign goes to receive the soldiers crown. The workman has done his work, and goes to receive his reward. In this point of view the Scriptures unceasingly present it to us. They bring life and immortality to light, and they present it in this aspect. Resurrection is immediately consequent upon death.
This is the first point. Resurrection is not a change that had to be waited for during thousands of years of sleep or dispersion; but resurrection immediately follows death.
In the second place, the Scriptures instruct us that man rises to his eternal home in a spiritual body fitted to that home; and,
Thirdly, that inasmuch as the earthly body is fitted for this world, and not fitted to it spiritual and eternal world, it is left behind, and will never be wanted again.
I. That resurrection is the resurrection of the man, and takes place immediately after death. The doctrine of the sacred Scriptures every one who is acquainted with the Holy Volume will know is very strikingly placed before us, both by special instances and doctrinal by teaching.
As special instances, we may notice the Divine declaration to the thief upon the cross, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Here we are informed, not that this day a part of him would be in paradise, but thou, the conscious being, the real man. Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
There are some who take so strange a view of the body that they imagine the body to be half of the man, and that man is only half a man so long as he is without the material body, and will not be a real and full man until he gets it back again. That is not the doctrine of sound thought, nor of the Sacred Word. The Scriptures know nothing about man being a half man; they never describe man in the future life, or immediately after death, as having left anything of the man behind him. The thing is inconceivable in itself. Why should we imagine that man is a sort of nondescript after death? There have been a variety of notions upon this subject, but all confessedly mere conjecture. The Scriptures know nothing of them; sound philosophy knows nothing of an idea of this kind. For, as we have already said, the man is not the body; we reel that the man is something within the body; that, in fact, the body is only the mere instrument annexed to him while he remains in the world; and hence, science teaches us that no two hours from birth to death is the body precisely the same. There has been a change with you and with me since we entered this room. Every breath we exhale takes a part of the impurities of the used-up material of the blood, removes it, and breathes it into the room. Every inch of the skin of the whole body in moment alter moment perspiring used-up material, and putting it away. So that every day a certain weight of the body is put off, which philosophy has taught us accurately to estimate. In the course of a very few years indeed, the whole moss of a former body is put away, and the new material that is taken in, in the way of food, has built up a new frame for us. So that we have had, in the course of seventy years, not only one body as was formerly thought, but probably ten or twelve bodies.
The closest resemblance to the constant change that is taking place in the material framework of a man–the house in which he lives–is that it is like a flowing water, ever flowing on, and ever having its place supplied by new material; or like, as the Apostle represents it, a tent that the Arab sets up in the wilderness for a short time. Our material body is a tent in which we remain for a period while we are trained for our everlasting home, and as soon as its object is accomplished, the tent is struck and removed. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, the Apostle says, in 2 Cor. V. 1, we have a building of God–there is something that will not be dissolved; we have another house. The earthly house is the earthly body; we have another house, the spiritual body, the form of the soul within, a house not made with hands; and this is not dissolved, but is eternal inn the heavens.
If, therefore, we have done without the first body we had, and yet the man exists, and grows stronger and nobler; if we have done without the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, and sixth, it may be without a dozen, surely we may do without the last. A man, you perceive, is not the body but the soul, as Dr. Watts so beautifully sets it forth–it is the mind, it is the immortal part, it is that which does not change, it is that whose perfections are immeasurably more excellent than those of the body. This is the man, not the mere earthly form. The doctor puts this beautifully before us in the lines that have been so often written by us probably as school boys:—
Were I as tall to reach the pole,
Or grasp the ocean in my span;
I must be measured by my soul,
The mind’s the standard of the man.
It is this immortal mind, this glorious complex of faculties of a higher and nobler kind than aught of bodily excellence–it is this that forms the man; and therefore our Savior said, not that thy soul or half of thee shall be with me in Paradise, but thou–because that is the man–thou shalt be with me in Paradise.
Precisely the same lesson is given when we are taught the parable of Dives and Lazarus; and it is said at the termination of the career of each they went to their final home. First, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. You see there is no notice taken of the material part. The rich man also cried, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes. The beggar died, and was carried,–not half of him was carried, but the whole man was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. As soon as his life terminated in this world below, immediately the angels were with him. Yes, and they were with him doubtless in his sorrows and in his trials, and in his triumphs too, while he remained in this world, though he could not see them. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him. Those who come into the reception of heavenly things, come also into companionship with heavenly beings. We are the inhabitants of two worlds even now. But ye are come unto mount Sion, says St. Paul to the Christians, as you will read in Hebrews xii. 22, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; and this is no vain, no empty declaration, but a real truth. If the eyes of our spiritual bodies were opened, we should now see the tenants of the heavenly world, as we see the inhabitants of the earthly world around us. We live in two worlds, though only conscious of one at a time; only distantly do we feel, because we are not prepared yet for the holy communications that might otherwise be had from these blessed beings; only distantly we feel, yet we do feel, what when reflected upon evidently confirms what the Sacred Scriptures teach. Who has not, in bouts of discouragement, had some sweet balm of heavenly consolation, some holy thought dropt into the cup of bitterness, that has helped to stir him up to look for better things? Who has not had it suggested,–when cast down by the loss perhaps of some dear friend, some child or parent much beloved; when in utter mourning and distress, who has not had it suggested,–like the sweet tones of an angelic voice, Not lost, but gone before; look up, think of what the Savior said, and thus gather hope? and have me not felt that the new star, which has passed from this hemisphere to shine in a brighter, is only an invitation for us to prepare soon to follow after? These infusions of heavenly light and comfort, those inward helps, that come sometimes when we are not looking for them, are all intimations that we are united to other minds than our own. Thoughts come from minds; they do not move about in the air. Good minds are joined, by God’s providence, to better minds, and the angels of God ascend and descend upon the glorious ladder of Heaven. And minds unhappily are joined to worse minds, that gradually bring them down lower and lower. But we are in all cases, while we live here, the inhabitants of two worlds. We should never forget it, it is a truth of the highest importance, we are the inhabitants of two worlds. We have capabilities open to this outer home of our God, and others that open to an inner, a higher, and a holier home.
II. Well, then, when the man has matured himself; when he has determined his ruling love, when he has so fixed and formed himself that his time of probation can be ended, he has arrived at that, period which all nature images,–for all nature is full of emblems of death and resurrection–he has come to that period when just as the kernel is ripened, and the shell is broken, just as the caterpillar life is finished, and the butterfly comes out; just as when spring comes, and rises from the death of winter; just as when the sun that sets to this hemisphere rises to another, so it is with man. He leaves this world and its concerns, but to open immediately upon another and still higher world. Hence, as we have said, the instructions of the Sacred Scriptures teach as that the doctrine of the Bible is that the resurrection is immediate. Resurrection, say some, is the rising again of that which has died. But what does our Savior say here in these words respecting the resurrection?–And, as touching the dead, that they rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, teaching that what Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had undergone; that was the resurrection.
He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living,–it is the rising-up of the man. Hence the apostle says, For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain; not loss–not the loss of one half of him, and that half the one which many people think is best worthy of their care: for a vast number in the world pay every attention to the body, but little or no attention to the soul. They think that the body is the best half, or act as if they thought so. But it is a most grievous mistake; it is always attended by misery, disadvantage, and distress. It is the giving of attention to the mans clothes, but modeling the man; and hence it is that the apostle says, For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. And it is gain. The faculties of the soul are here, to a certain extent, cramped and trammeled, but there they will be free. Every one who reflects will see how very imperfectly he can carry out in his body the designs and purposes that he has in his soul. A person can think clearly, but he has difficulty in finding the words to express accurately what he means. A person can intend fully, but his body does not give him the powers to carry his intentions out. The soul is immeasurably more perfect than the body; and, hence, when we come into the soul-world, and when we throw off the outer casement of the body with its imperfections, we can see how fully it will be a gain to us. It will be a gain in increased power; again in increased perfection: a gain in the souls living in a soul-world, in a mind-world, in a spirit-state of existence; and, therefore, whatever constitutes our living, interior energy will be at once carried out to represent it. The mind itself as well as all the materials around are adapted to represent and embody the purposes of the soul; and hence the state of things after death is as much more perfect than they are here, because man has thrown off the outer covering of the body, as the spirit is more perfect than matter. For me, then, he says, to die is gain. Our Lord himself expresses the same great truth when He says, Thou hast been faithful over a few thing, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
All that we can be faithful over here, is comparatively a few things. We cannot make our bodies exactly what we would have them; we have great power and influence over our bodies, but that power is not only, by the heavy character of the material, cramped, it is also hindered much by the hereditary tendencies to disease and to imperfections, with which we are born, it is interfered with by the circumstances of our business, and where and how we live. So that it is not always the pale and noble mind that has a pure and noble and healthy body. Though there is a great tendency in a pure mind to mike the body pure also, and there is a great degradation takes place in the body of a gross-minded, or of a bad and ignorant man. This has its limits; and we can only in a few things rule over this matter; but when we come into the eternal world, the spiritual body there, is the exact outbirth of the spirit–of the inclinations and principles that prevail in the mind. The good man is as beautiful as he is good. In the language of the apostle, God giveth it a body as it, hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body. We can see the evidence of that even in what we behold around us. Goodness, every one knows, has a tendency to make a person agreeable; even in his outward form, it throws a holy luster out of the eyes, it gives a noble aspect to the face and forehead. Children like to be near a good man. A person who has been embodying in himself the Divine beauty of holy principles for year after year, acquires a heavenly aspect–and what is it? It is the beauty of the soul shining through the forms of the body; and when the forms of the body are removed, and you can see the soul itself, the inner beauty from which this celestial luster comes, you can easily see then the meaning of the sacred words, God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him. But this is a spiritual body. It is remarkable that so many have overlooked the doctrine of the Sacred Scriptures respecting spiritual bodies–heavenly bodies; and have thought, everywhere when they have read of bodies, only of this outer covering of clay.
But what says the Apostle Paul? Read 1 Corinthians xv. 40, 41: There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial–that is, there ore heavenly bodies, and there are earthly bodies–but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, end another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead…. It is sown a natural body. This is the sowing place; on earth we are sown: and here I would beg you to take a remark with you, for sometimes we arrive at very imperfect thoughts of ourselves and of our destiny, from supposing that when we come into existence at first that we are then men. God makes us men at first, we suppose; but we should ever remember that when we are born into this world, we are only born with the germs of manhood. This whole world is God’s manufactory for making men. This is the place, the field where we are sown; and our whole career in this life–all the activities of God’s providence within and around us, are Christs operations, making us to be men, if we will co-operate with Him. Simply to grow up out of bread and cheese a certain height and weight does not make a man. Very often it is but the imbruted serpent of selfishness that a person is, who is yet the full height of a man. Very often it is the embodiment only of the ambitious desire to oppress others that we call a man: rather call such a one a wolf. Very often it is but a two-legged brute that moves about with vulpine cunning, and we call him a man. The Savior calls such a one a fox. God’s characteristic of a man is one that executes judgment and does the truth. Run to and fro, said God to Jeremiah, as you will read in the fifth chapter and first verse, through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if we can find a man, if there be any that execute judgment, and seeketh the truth. A person who is too lazy or too sensual to bring out the noble faculties that constitute manhood, and judge for himself–a person that merely hangs on to somebody else’s hook, is not a man.
He only is a man who uses the glorious God-like capabilities of receiving and examining the truth. Coming into God’s universe, and looking up and around, and seeing what God’s truth teaches him, and examining it: this is to be a man. God says, Come now, and let us reason together. He has given us the capacities of reason; He has given us the light and the understanding by which me can enter into the truth; and He says, Come now, and let us reason together. He who does come–who comes to the light and endeavors to receive truth, and to see it in his own mind–not only because somebody else tells him it is so, but to acknowledge it because he beholds its beauty, its harmonies and duties: he is a man, who chooses truth, and says in the beautiful language of Cowper
And truth alone, where’er my lot is cast,
In scenes of plenty or the shining waste,
Shall be my chosen theme, my glory to the last.
This is a man. Well, then, the sacred Scriptures teach us that it is man who goes into the eternal world. This man is the immortal being, and this man will receive the everlasting blessings of that world.
Angels are men in lighter bodies clad,
And men are angels loaded for an hour.
The idea, has prevailed with many that angels are a distinct race of beings from men; were made before them, and are altogether of a better class. But such is not the teaching of the sacred Scriptures. They teach us that angels are men made perfect. They are always treated so in the volume of Heaven. When Manoah said to the angel that appeared to him, But thou the man that spakest unto the woman? he said I am. The first angels that are mentioned in the sacred Scriptures which appeared to Abraham, are called three men. The angels that appeared to Lot are called two men. The angel that spake to John said, when John was about to fall at his feet and worship him, See thou do it not:
I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God. Nay, not only so, but when a glorious assemblage of angels was beheld in the eternal world itself, when ten thousand times ten thousand were seen by the eyes, the spiritual sight of John, an angel came and said to him, What are these which are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they? And John said, Sir, thou knowest. And the angel then added, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Evidently teaching that all the shining ranks which were then sending up the hallelujah of triumph to Him that sat upon the throne, were those who on earth had had their tribulation; had had their sufferings and sorrows; had had their persecutions and deaths; had made their robes white by the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. They have made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. Hence, then, every one may see that just as those who have gone before us, those who have already had their trials and their triumphs, did not wait for some unknown period, when they should enter into the supernal beauty of just men made perfect, but are already, with the palms of victory in their hands, clothed with the white robes of heavenly intelligence in all the glorious atmospheres of the blest, sending up their loving songs of holy praise and triumph. So will it be with as. When we lie down on a Christians bed of death, it will be but to sleep for a moment, and then awaken in the Christians glorious world of light and love. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
III. But we have said further, that, as the result of this, the earthly body will not be wanted in the eternal world, and therefore will not be re-assumed. The notion that the body, the earthly carcass of man, is raised again after lying for a while in the grave, or having mingled with the elements, the gases that are in harmony with itself–that it is again to be brought up and form a part of mans everlasting body, is one that has been supposed to be taught in the sacred Scriptures, but is really not so taught.
Like many other notions that have crept in, and been assumed as parts of Christian doctrine for a while, but afterwards the advance of intelligence or of science has shown them to be mistakes, it ought now to be rejected. The advance of science has shown that this is a doctrine that involves most serious and perplexing difficulties; and those who have still supposed that the Scriptures do teach the resurrection of the body, but who from science, have seen that it cannot be the truth, have been brought into very serious trial indeed. The way out, however, is precisely that which has been successful in relation to other points. It was supposed that the Scriptures taught that the earth was the center of the universe, before Galileo so successfully controverted that notion; and the church of that time anathematized both him and all who taught this, and said it could not possibly be true, because, as they believed, the Word of God contradicted it. They found, however, that they most re-examine the Scriptures to see if they did really teach it; and it was found that the Scripture wits light, but the interpretation was wrong. So it has been in a great variety of the lessons of the same kind. Now, it is just so in relation to this notion of the resurrection of the earthly body. Many a one who has been taught this from his youth, has supposed that he has only to take up the Bible, and open it, and he will be sure to find somewhere whole it says that mans body is to rise again. But let me invite him to examine the Scriptures carefully on this point, and I can assure him that, he cannot find a single text, from the first chapter in Genesis to the last in Revelation, that says either that the earthly body shall rise again, the material body shall rise again, the natural body shall rise again, this body that we have, shall rise again, or any words equal to these. The Scriptures teach that the man will rise–that the dead will rise, but never that the dead body will rise. On the contrary, they teach the very reverse. In the mouth of two or three witnesses, it is said, every word may be established.
We give you the two or three witnesses.
Take the ninth verse of the seventh chapter of Job, and you will read, as the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away, so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up NO MORE. Now, what is it that goes down to the grave but the body? And that is to come up no more.
Take, again, the apostolic teaching in 1 Corinthians xv. 35 and following verses: But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? Now that is the question. Some persons will say that when we speak of the dead rising, we mean the dead body rising; but this is plainly a mistake. We call men dead when they die to us; but there are two sides to them. When we say the man is dying, the angels say the man is rising. What is to us death, is to them life: what is to us a decease of being, is to them the commencement of higher being. Mortals say a man is dead, angels a child is born. So that, you perceive, this dying of a man is a mere appearance to us–it is not a reality. When we say that such a one died, the fact is, all that is meant is, he seemed to us to die–he departed this life; that is a far better expression than the other. He departed this life, but he rose to everlasting life; and hence, when the Apostle says, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?–that is the real question, and you see how he treats it. He seems to treat it as being a very silly thing for a person to ask. He says, Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest NOT that body that shall be, but bare grain; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him. That which thou sowest is NOT the body that shall be. That which is sown is a body of this world; it suits this world, it belongs to this world. This is the sowing place. Every boy who has sown a seed, knows that when he puts it into the earth it is not the same seed that he gets up again. The outer portion of the seed swells; it putrefies, it rots off, it mingles with the earth around but from within the new plant rises.
That is the image of the resurrection. The earthly body, which is suited to this world, is given to us; it is our first stage of life; but when it has done its work, it decays, it putrefies, it mingles with the elements around; but from within the man ascends. Just so the apostle teaches–that there is one body for this world; there is another, the spiritual body, for the eternal world. God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body. We must not be understood to mean that when our bodies are laid by, we get the other bodies for the first time when we go into the other life. It is not so. Every seed has his own body. It is the body that is being formed within the outer body during our whole life, to which we have referred. An angel-minded man hits a beautiful spirit; more and more beautiful as he perseveres in what is holy, pure, and good. It is his inner body that is meant. Only the pure get it in all its luster and beauty. A bad man is gradually forming within himself no ugly spirit. The black-hearted man has a black and malignant-looking spirit; and hence it is that every one who has paid any attention to the great subject of how mind shows itself in matter, and has noticed, for instance, the low-minded criminals who are often brought up in our police-courts, will see such brutality and cunning, and malignancy of expression, in the very face, that he feels often he is near a dangerous person, and he would rather keep him a few yards off. It is the dark soul so impressing its ugliness upon the body; and when this is wrought, out, so that the malignant desires of the heart have formed a spirit of vice, and have expressed themselves through the body, as far as the body would permit in this world, at death the mask is taken off; and then comes the time in which that is realized of which Moses spake when he said, Be sure your sins will find you out.
Some people have wondered how judgment will take place, and have thought that it would be a strange thing for a person to come up before the bar of God, and to have his friends and neighbors and associates–perhaps his own family–to stand up there, and testify what he has done and what he has said, and so on.
But that is not the way God’s judgment takes place. We are preparing ourselves for judgment every day; writing our own characters ourselves every day. We are our own book-keepers in this matter. Every bad principle that a person deepens and strengthens, produces its expression upon his spirit; every foul, cunning malignity that a man cherishes and acts from, gives its expressions upon his own soul, and injures him before it does anybody else any harm. That is the book of life we are writing every day; either making it of the holy pages of life and love, or the defiled pages of malignancy and wickedness and falsehood, Oh, that I could impress this truth upon the mind and heart of every one before me! It is a fact we should never forget; no viciousness can we cherish, no wickedness can we love, without its doing its mischief within us. We know we cannot. Often that which we endeavor most secretly to do, is that which makes the strongest impression; and that which we have done without much concern and thought and contrivance has soon passed away. Those plans we have schemed about; that which we have proposed and contrived and cunningly carried out; that is indelibly fixed upon the soul. That is not blotted out, and never will be blotted out but in one way, that is by earnest, deep, practical repentance. Repentance is the only way in which a blotted page can be covered over. God says, in Ezekiel xviii. 27, When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. All his wickedness that he hath done shall not be mentioned in that day. The blotted book will be closed. His spirit will, in due time, have taken another and more beautiful form; and from the time when he honestly and in the sight of God repented and changed his mind and life, will he become new and purer and holier and more beautiful. Better had he begun earlier.
The formation of the soul is not a mere mundane and transitory thing; it is the proper business of life. But when we do really change in heart and mind and life, immediately the change begins to take place upon the spirit; and, although we may have been filthy and impure before we begun, as we persevere, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling, we acquire a more holy and beautiful character. The vile body which we had before, gradually assumes the beauties which emulate the Lord glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. This is the book of life, and when we go into the eternal world, we are what we made ourselves to be. God does not require any one to tell what we are, or to criminate us; we are there just what we have made ourselves to be: we stand in the light of eternity; what we have been doing, and have been in reality, there we are. A gardener, who truly understands the nature of plants, does not require hi September to be told that such and such a plant has been neglected; he sees from the plant itself what has been going on; he sees from the effect what has been the culture. It is of no use to tell him that a plant has been properly placed, and trained according to true and proper means, and has had duty done to it, when it is a poor, miserable, wretched thing: he knows better. It is just so with God’s plants. They need no foreign witnesses; they are themselves the books of their own lives; and the heavenly-minded have it written upon the ir countenances, upon their forms, upon everything about them. The Lord, the Divine Judge, and His angels see what they have been dong, and what they are. So with the infernally-minded; they have all their vices and impurities portrayed within them, and they, too, are there in the light of eternity what they have made themselves to be.
This, then, is the mode in which man enters into eternity. His spiritual body is his own body–to every seed his own body. The heavenly seed is the heavenly body; the infernal is the ugly body. And so the Apostle goes on–There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
Not as some have supposed–there is a natural body, and there WILL BE a spiritual body; the natural body will be turned into a spiritual body: but there is a natural body, end there is a spiritual body. The natural body is the outward one, the spiritual body is the inward one: and therefore the apostle goes on to say, in the fiftieth verse, Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Flesh and blood cannot go there; it is a world for a different material. Flesh and blood going there would be something like a person attempting to put matter into thought, which is impossible–the two things are so entirely distinct. The spiritual world is only discernible and tangible to a spiritual body; the earthly world requires an earthly body. When a man enters into the spiritual world, he takes that with him which is accommodated to that world, and flesh and blood go to the elements to which they belong.
We have given, then, the two or three witnesses, by which it is plainly taught that the material form is not required after death, and therefore we leave it for ever. It will never more be wanted by its present owner: it may go to form other bodies. On the other hand, as we have seen in the case of the angels, when they are described, they are not without bodies. All the multitude of angels which John saw, and which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, were clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. They must have had hands to hold the palms; and they must have had bodies, or how could they be clothed with robes? The beggar who died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, and whose finger was mentioned that it might be dipped into water to cool the rich mans tongue, must have had a finger, or how could he dip it in the water? The rich man must have had eyes to have seen him afar off in Abraham’s bosom, and he prayed that water might be given to cool his tongue; and if he had a tongue he had a mouth, and if he had a mouth, he had a bend, and if he had a head, he had a whole body; and so the whole form is implied in all these cases–and, in fact, in every case in which the Scriptures give us a glimpse of the eternal world, they always do it so as to show that it is not a great way off: it is near to us.
It is an inner world pervading this outer world: and as soon as a mans spiritual sight is opened, he sees that world. And when, therefore, the servant of Elisha was in consternation that his master was about to be taken away from him, the prophet prayed that his eyes might be opened, and he saw horses and chariots of fire. Elijah was seen by Elisha when he went up by a whirlwind into heaven. The prophets seeing implies the opening of his spiritual sight; and he beheld the world which is ordinarily unseen. The powers unseen, brethren, are, however, always more efficient–are always immeasurably more perfect than the things that are seen. The seer saw the world unseen–the glorious and everlasting world. And when we have our inward powers open to behold it, we shall see its perfections, its glories, just as John did. He was in the isle of Patmos when he was brought into the spirit, and then he saw all that he describes through the twenty-two chapters of his book. He was not wafted somewhere through the air, an immense distance beyond the stars, where some people dream that heaven is to be round–a region so far distant that, as some of those philosophers who have most profoundly ganged the depths of space tell us, there are certain stars so distant, that it would take millions of years for light from them to reach us! Heaven is not so far off as all that. But when John was in the isle of Patmos, and he was brought into the spirit, immediately he saw, he says, and he beheld his Lord and Master–he beheld heaven open: and so will it be with us. If our spiritual sight were opened by the Divine Being, we should also see what we may now know–that the two worlds are close together.
Well, then, all that is needed is that we should have a body adequate to that world when me pass from this; and such a body we have in the form of the soul itself. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
There are a few places in the sacred Scriptures that have been supposed–some from incorrect translation, and some from other circumstances–to teach the resurrection of the material body; but when these are examined carefully, it will be found they all of them harmonize with the great lessons we have already traced from the sacred volume. I have pointed out that Job taught that he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. But others have supposed that they learn the contrary from what Job said in the nineteenth chapter of the same book–a passage that has been very much used because it was introduced into the Burial Service of the Church of England,–in which Job speaks of his body being destroyed by worms, and says, yet in my flesh shall I see God. But if you examine the passage you will find that its strongest part is made up of italic words–words printed in a different character from the rest; and wherever you read these words in italic letters in the Bible, it means they do not occur in the original. They are what the translators supposed was meant, but they are not, the words of Holy Writ themselves. In this passage you have worms, and that is the first term that makes a person think concerning the grave, and what is done with the body in the grave; that word is in italics. The word body is in italics–the next term that has ceased the passage to be thought of as having something to do with the body perishing in the grave. But, if the passage is read without these italics, you will find it simply expresses the confidence of Job, that though he may be brought into the extreme of sorrow and affliction; though his very reins might be consumed; he speaks of being so distressed by disease that he has scarcely anything left but, his skin, Yet, he says, in my flesh shall I see God, meaning he would see Him before he died; and this hope was inspired into him–no doubt by God Himself, who intended to deliver him; and it was fulfilled–God did appear to Job.
He was faithful, notwithstanding his affliction and bitterness and sorrow; and you will find at the end of his book it is said that God appeared to him, vindicated him, taught him that he had been quite light in following up his integrity and truth, and that his friends had been wrong in accusing him. It was no more reason when he was afflicted that we should conclude he was a sinner more than others, than that as should conclude our Divine Savior was a sinner, because He was so much afflicted. All are sinners, and all need purification. God knows what we need, and how we need it best. But in Jobs case, when God appeared to him, he referred to this very hope. In Job xlii. 5, it is said, I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee. In the former chapter he expressed a hope that his eye should see God before he died, and in his latter end it was fulfilled; he had seen God before he died: So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning. So that when we take the whole teaching of this book of Job, it is entirely harmonious with the fact that man rises immediately after death.
Job himself again assures us several times that death is a final departure of man from the world and of the body to dust; neither will be recalled. So man lieth down, and riseth not; till the heavens be no more; they shall NOT awake, NOR be raised out of their sleep–Job xiv. 12. As the heavens will remain for every, that which would not take place till the heavens be no more, will never take place. Before I go whence I shall NOT RETURN, even to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death–Job x. 21. When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.–Job xvi. 22.
There are two other passages of a figurative kind in the Old Testament which are supposed to teach the resurrection of the earthly body. But they are figures in the letter, only of the resurrection of the Jewish nation from political death and burial. We will notice them. It is written in Isaiah, Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they rise. Awake and sing, ye that; dwell in dust, for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall east out the dead.–xxvi. 19.
Again, in Daniel, And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.–xii. 2. The key to these is given in the prophecy of Ezekiel, concerning the dry bones. The miserable state of Israel in captivity was represented by the valley full of dry bones. The restoration of their nation to their own land was symbolized by the resurrection and vivification of the bones, and their reconstruction into perfect bodies. Thus the Prophet explains it: These bones are the whole house of Israel; behold they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy, and say onto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves and cause you to come out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.–xxlvii. 11, 13. They, then, who are said to be dead, and to sleep in the dust, are the people of Israel buried in captivity. Their being called to freedom, and raised to become a nation once more, and rejoice in their restored temple and the glories of home, is the awaking and singing of those who had dwelt in the dust. Shake thyself from the dust, arise and sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bonds of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.–Isa. lxii. 2.
In the spiritual sense, these texts imply the resurrection of religion in the soul, and of course have nothing to do with the raising again of dead bodies.
The New Testament also has a few passages which have in like manner been misunderstood, because applied to the body, when they ought to be applied to the soul.
The idea which should always be borne in mind when reading the New Testament is, that the soul of man in its fallen condition is dead, and the work of religion is to raise it to life and health. Its covering and pretenses are compared to a grove in which the soul is entombed. It has to be brought out of these graves, and enabled to walk vigorously in the light of. the spirit of the Savior.
With this view, every passage which has been deemed by the naturally-minded reader to speak of the resurrection of the body takes its piece in describing a fat more important subject, the resurrection of the soul. The Lord’s words in this respect also are spirit, and they are life. And each one of us ought to be striving, as the Apostle said, That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made comfortable unto His death; if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.–Phil. iii. 10–12. Viewing the regeneration and resurrection of the soul as the grand objects of Gospel care, each passage falls readily into its place, and we learn by them all how to rise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. They all form a solemn call like that of the Apostle, Awake, then that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shell give thee light.–Eph. v. 14.
Considered in this point, of view, we apprehend at once the Divine meaning, when the Lord said, The hour cometh, and NOW is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.–John v. 25. The dead who then heard were those who had been dead in trespasses and sins, but who rose to newness of life. And when the Savior continues, Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation28, 29; we think of the graves that appear not–Luke xi. 44; the whited sepulchres which appear beautiful without, but within are full of dead mens bones and all uncleanness–Matt. xxiii. 27; and out of which men must come when they are judged. All appearances are put off, when judgment is executed. The real inner men come forth. They that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.
The vile body, which is fashioned like unto the Lord’s glorious body–Phil. iii. 21–is also the spiritual body, vile by sin in its unregenerate condition, but lighted up with beauty by the glorious working of the Holy Spirit. This too, is the mortal which puts on immorality, the corruptible which puts on incorruption, when God giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, and death is swallowed up in victory–1 Cor. xv. 54, 55, 57. All becomes harmony when we think of the resurrection of the soul; and he who has attained to this priceless resurrection may with fullest faith exclaim with the Apostle, fearing nothing, doubting nothing: For we KNOW that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, WE HAVE A BUILDING OF GOD, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heaven. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven.2 Cor. v. 1, 3.
Let us not think, then, that Adam has been waiting somewhere for thousands of years without a body, and not knowing what shape or sort of life he has been in, or is in. Let us not suppose that Job, or any other of the worthies of the Old Testament, have been waiting in a. sort of nondescript half-existence without shape, and in a world that has no shape. Oh, no! That is as near nothing as possible. But they have taken with them the real man which has been formed during life, into their everlasting home, where God gives to every man as his work shall be. Behold, I come quickly, He says; not, I will lot you wait for thousands of years, not knowing what will be your lot, until some judgment at a remote period takes place. You are forming yourselves every day, and judging yourselves. You may, if you look within yourselves, find what you have there, either good or bad; you may see what you have been, and what you are. That, therefore, is the reason why, it you have been negligent of God’s laws, you should now endeavor to live for them. Obedience to right is no vain thing; it is our life. We are now in the process of being made. We are made in conformity with our life. They shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, end they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.
Death is but the period for the disclosure of our work, fully, fairly, completely, and for ever.
Let us, then, take the glorious assurance of this truth to our hearts, first of all, to make us earnest in endeavoring to live for Heaven: we are living either for Heaven or for hell every day. Let us write upon ourselves the glorious principles that, make an angel–love to God, love to man, heavenly wisdom, constant progress, doing and acting after the Saviors great example, and by His power; and when we have written these upon every part of our nature, we are as the apostle said, Ye are out epistle. We are, each of as, writing the gospel upon ourselves if we so live. We shall then come forth when health is fading away from us, when the body is becoming feeble and withered like the chaff of the ripened corn; when the chaff falls away, the corn comes out in its perfection; so will it be with us. When our covering falls off, when our sheath becomes chaff, and goes to its mother earth, the spirit will ascend in its glorious beauty to God, who gave it. We shall mingle with those who are like-minded with ourselves, to live to make others happy, each having heaven within himself, and form a part of those who inhabit those many mansions which are found in our heavenly Fathers house. We shall enter into a glorious world where all are happy, all are beautiful, all are wise, because all are good.
REV. VICAR OF –. I should leave this room, Christian friends, in a very different state of feeling, and with very different views to those that I entered it, if the sentiments which have just been broached by the lecturer were scriptural. I believe they are anti-scriptural, and on that account I rise simply to give it as my deliberate opinion, that however honest the lecturer may be, and however anxious he may be to impress upon our minds those things which he regards as truth, I look upon them as directly opposed to what God in His Holy Word has taught us.
(Hear.) He has referred over and over again to various passages sometimes in the Old Testament, and sometimes in the New–and he has labored to prove that there is no such thing as the resurrection of the body. All that I have to say is this, that if the Apostle Paul, and the other Apostles, and other inspired and holy men in the Old Testament, do not distinctly and emphatically teach the resurrection of the dead, then I neither understand my own language–I know nothing of Hebrew, and still less of Greek. The Apostle, in language, as it appears to me, in controvertible, does most emphatically and plainly teach, so that the ploughman may understand what the man says. He tells the ploughman–if I have any correct apprehension of that the Apostle of the Gentiles teaches in the sublime and inconceivably beautiful chapter, where he treats of the resurrection of the dead–I say he does there distinctly teach the poor peasant as well as the philosopher, who is oftentimes too wise to be taught, that the body which is sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption, and that which is sown a natural body will be raised a spiritual body. I declare solemnly that I should leave this room a miserable man if I did not believe, not only that my immortal spirit would live for ever in the presence of God, but if I did not also believe that the body in its spiritualized state–not in this gross material form–in that we are all agreed, I think but that the material body that will be sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption; that is to say, will be raised an incorruptible body, and that this body will be the vehicle of the operations of the immortal spirit. Touching the passage in Job, we know that some have taken one view of that subject, and some another. The Hebrew term, for example, has been rendered vindicator; but in my humble judgment, that grand and glorious passage does as distinctly and emphatically teach the resurrection of the dead, as does the Apostle in the beautiful chapter, the 15th of his First Epistle to the Corinthians.
There is another sublime and beautiful passage in one of the minor prophets, I will ransom them from the power of the grave; but according to the lecturer, if I understand him, there is no grave from which to ransom them–I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. I could say a great deal more; time, however, is fast proceeding, and I shall now wait to heal what the lecturer feels disposed to say in answer to what I have advanced. (Applause.)
DR. BAYLEY: In relation to what our friends opinions and convictions are, as opinions they will depend of course precisely upon the weight that is attached to the arguments he has offered for attention. Our friends mere statement, of his convictions being this or that, of course merely announced his conviction. (Hear, hear.) You have heard, during the course of this lecture, some of the reasons for any convictions, which tell me not of the distant resurrection about which our friend has spoken, but of a present resurrection–of our immediate entrance into the fullness of heavenly glory which I believe the Scripture to teach. Our friend has not referred to any of the passages or to the instruction I have offered upon the subject, but simply announced in answer to them his convictions and his opinions, which, of course, will have just the weight that the arguments in support of them have, and nothing more. In relation, first of all, to Job, I pointed out both what the passage really said, and how it was really fulfilled in relation to Job. Our friend has said nothing at all to show that this was not the accurate construction, only that some people think so, and other people think different. But Job tells us in the 10th and 16th chapters, at the end, that when he leaves this world by death, he will not return. I have already quoted Jobs declaration, He that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.
What we hope is, that each of you will read Job carefully–leaving out those words that are in italics–taking in what Job announces as the fulfillment of his hope, that he would see God–and then judge for yourselves which is the right view. (Applause.) The only other passage that our friends has referred to in the Old Testament, is the announcement of Jehovah himself, that He will ransom us from the power of the grave; He will redeem us from death. But the fulfillment of that glorious declaration is not to be waited for yet, as a thing in the far distance. When did the Redeemer come into the world? Has not the Redeemer appeared? Has not He done His work? Did not He come into the world eighteen hundred years ago, and did not He, when He was in the world, say, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is PASSED from death unto life? There is the fulfillment of the promise of redemption. (Doubtful.) What graves are we anxious to be delivered from?–is it not those graves of which He speaks, when He says to the Pharisees, Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead mens bones, and of all uncleanness? (Applause.) These are the graves, and that is the death that Christ desires to deliver us from. He does not leave it for us to guess whether, in some far distant time, it will be done or not; but He announces that it was done. Every person that comes out of the grave of sin and corruption–out of the death of evil, can say now, Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no longer any grave or any death for him; his is already a life that is certain. What did Christ say again? He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die; may I not say to my brother, Believest thou this? If you believe this, then you believe that the fulfillment of the passage you have referred to has been wrought out, has been amply completed; and you and I have only to rejoice that we are living in the real life, the glorious life of Heaven now, and we shall enter the holier life of eternity at last, when this earthly body is put away.
I entered very fully into the 15th of the First Epistle to the Corinthians; all that our friend has replied to what was said, and the words were quoted and dwelt upon, is to misquote one little passage. He says that we shall be sown in corruption and will be raised in incorruption. That is not what the Apostle says–he says, It is sown in corruption, and is raised in incorruption; not will be. That will be is altogether or our friends introducing; it does not occur in the Scriptures. (Hear, hear.) The Scriptures say, There is a natural body, and there is a scriptural body. Now our friend talked about Hebrew and Greek–it only needs plain English to know that is does not mean will be. It is quite as plain in the Hebrew and Greek as it is in the English. The plain English is precisely as it is rendered, and as it ought to be rendered There is now a natural body, and there is now a spiritual body. There is now a natural body that is sown, and it is the spiritual body that is raised. That is precisely our doctrine, and we have been teaching this through the whole lecture. I am sure that although our friend thinks that he would be a sadder man if he took this doctrine, I can assure him from experience he is mistaken. I have been in his state, I have had his doctrine; but now I have this doctrine, and it makes me a happier man. It would be to me sadness–I should be grievously sad–if when I saw my dear ones go away from my side, I had an idea that they were going to be a sort of half nothing, in no shape, and no where; to wait for some thousands of years till it was settled where they were to go. Our friend thinks there is to be a future very distant judgment, whenever it may come. If I thought so, it would make me very sad. I am, however, certain as the fullest investigation can make me, that every one who has had a true devotion to his Lord, who has lived for Christ, in this world–I have not the slightest doubt that when they pass from among the abodes of men, they go in bodies more perfect, more glorious, and more beautiful, at once, to the abode of angels; and that makes me happy.
(Loud cheers.) It is a happy thing for me to think that those whom I have loved here, and striven to make happy, go to better hands than mine; that they have not to wait in any half existence, or no existence; but as for them to live is Christ, so for them to die is gain. I feel sure that if our friend gives himself the attentive examination that so weighty a matter requires, he will find there will be no loss of happiness, but great gain, in the reception of this advanced view of the Sacred Word.
REV. VICAR: Nothing that has been advanced by the chairman in the shape of replication, has in the least altered my views or my feelings. It appears to me almost beyond, I was going to say contempt, that he should have stated that I quoted a passage incorrectly for the sake of impressing my view. I know as well as the lecturer that the Apostles words are, It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. Why the material body, flesh and blood, is sown in corruption, and it is raised in incorruption. And I believe all the sophistry, and all the eloquence, and all the false logic, and all the Biblical criticism, which he, or any other man, can bring to bear upon that passage, or the whole of that inimitably sublime composition of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, will fail, and fail to the end of time, to prove that he has there spoken of mere spiritual resurrection; he is speaking, if I understand human language, of the general resurrection from the dead. I believe, as well as the lecturer, that dear friends who die sleep in Jesus go to heaven. I believe their spirits enter an ineffably blessed state, and that they are not in some for distant region, wondering–if they have the power to wonder–when the resurrection is to take place, and what they are to be. Mothers who lose their darling children, may rejoice in the thought that they are gone to be with Jesus; but their bodies, as well as their spirits, will be with Jesus–that is their resurrection body. There is no language, I conceive, in the whole of the New Testament, for the lecturer to put the matter in the way he has done.
It appears to me not at all Christian. He says this is my opinion; and I suppose every man and every woman in the United Kingdom has a right to his or her opinion. It is the opinion of the Universal Church–it is the opinion of the first philosophers that have ever existed, that our bodies shall all be raised. Why is a man to be punished solely in his spirit, seeing that its partner–the body–has been one great instrument and cause of sin? I want to know that which has sinned in many, many instances, is to receive no punishment? or how that which has been active in the service of God, is to receive no reward?
Another friend (Mr. WILKINS, Baptist minister): Whatever the decision of this meeting will be, it will not affect the thing itself. There is one thing that has struck me forcibly, and that is in reference to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ: if He has risen from the dead, which certainly He has; and if He has become the first fruits of them that slept; and if He is gone into the invisible world–into the heaven of heavens, as a pattern of what His Church is to be I want to know how we shall resemble Him, unless our bodies are raised as His body was? Jesus Christ said, Handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and blood, as ye see me have. (Hear, hear.) Now, if Jesus Christ be a pattern of His Church, which certainly He is, how can we imitate Him, unless our bodies are raised like His? (Applause.)
DR. BAYLEY: Allow me first to answer my first friend. Although I do not know that he has presented any new argument, only the very strong declaration of its being his opinion that the apostle meant so and so. He admitted that the correction which I made of his quotation was a correct rendering, and he said he knew it. Our friend, perhaps, might feel a little hurt from his supposing that I meant to insinuate that he intentionally misquoted a passage for a certain purpose.
I did not mean to insinuate anything of the kind but simply that when we have been used to a certain doctrine, and suppose it to be in a certain part of the Scriptures, we unconsciously quote the Scriptures as we have been in the habit of doing, although, perhaps, mistakenly. Many people quote the Scriptures as they have been need to them, but never have their attention directed to see what the Word exactly says. What it exactly says in this case, is what I have been saying all night–that we have a spiritual body as well as a natural body, and that the natural body is sown, and the spiritual body is raised. Now that is precisely what we need to take home with us, and then we shall have all the requirements for a true idea of spiritual life. Our friend has offered an argument, not a Scriptural one, but an argument which has sometimes been proposed before–namely, that as the body has sinned, why should not the body be punished as well as the soul? and this argument seems to here some little weight in it, only that it would go farther than those who use it would intend it to go: for it would go thus far–if the body is really wanted to bear part in either the reward or punishment, why is not it taken when the soul is taken? (Cheers.) Why does not it go, at the same time as the soul, if it is to be happy in heaven? Nay, why not all the bodies? But the reason is evident. The body is only an instrument in the souls hands. The body never sinned in its life. (Loud cheers.) It is the soul that sins. A man might as well say when a horse has run away with the cart, the cart is as bad as the horse, and whip them both. (Hear, hear.) He might as well say that because an assassin uses a pistol to murder a person, and he is hung for the crime, that you should hang the pistol as well as the man. Our friends arguments–I say it with all respect–are as weak as water. I have no doubt that he is quite aware of the present condition of science, and knows that the body is being changed continually; so that we have a dozen bodies if we live to be old men. Would he say that these bodies are all to be brought up? Those are things our friend would do well to take into consideration.
(Friend: Thank you, sarcastically.) As to the soundest philosophers who thought in this way; he knows surely that what we teach, the pleasant philosophers teach(Friend: Present infidels, you mean!)the old philosophers, who had a philosophy as false as the old notions of the Scriptures were, might have taught as our friend does. But Sir Humphrey Davy was no infidel, and he taught precisely what we teach in relation to the body. that it is changed every day, and that it would be no more wrong to punish the whip than it would be to punish the body. Tillotson taught it, and he was no infidel, but an archbishop. Watts taught it. I would say further, that there is not a leading philosopher of the present day that does not teach the same thing. I will invite our friend to try if he can find a philosopher of any name whatever, within the last twenty years, that does not teach what we teach. Let him then uphold, if he will, the old philosophy, but let us seek for the true philosophy, founded on facts, which has advanced something higher and grander and nobler than that, of bygone days.
And now I will address our second friend. Many have regarded this as an evidence, as our friend has, that inasmuch as Christ rose with His body, therefore, our natural bodies will rise too. But the apostle says, Every man in his own order. Jesus rose, and we shall rise, but every man in his own order; and the order of Jesus is that He was Governor of heaven and earth. All power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth. His body inwardly was an incorruptible body; it was the Word from His Divine soul made flesh: His body was gradually glorified and perfected. The glorious form that approached on mount Tabor, when His face did shine as the sun, that was His real body within the form from Mary. Besides what men saw there was another divine form continually expanding itself until, when He arose, His body was perfectly Divine, like His soul. I do cures today, and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
His risen body could move in and out of houses without the doors being opened–a body that those who had their spiritual sight open could see; but no common Jew, with only his natural eye, saw His body after His resurrection. His body, therefore, was a Divine body; but ours is only an earthly one, suited to this world;–and, therefore, He rose in His own order, as the glorious God that had to rule heaven and earth, but had glorified and perfected His body while He lived in the world, and now from that glorious body governs heaven and earth. Jesus took His body with Him. Our body is not the word made flesh; our bodies are merely the outward corruptible forms that pass into dust. Every man in his own order. We do not want these bodies, and so we leave them behind us. He wanted His, and so He took it with Him. That is my answer to our second friend.
SECOND FRIEND: If his answer proves anything it proves that it was by death and by the resurrection that the body of Jesus became what it really was; so that it could pass from place to place without hindrance. If, as the lecturer has told us, the body of Christ was Divine, then Divinity can bleed and die;–the body of Christ bled and died. The lecturer hits been telling us that His body was made Divine: if that be true, His body was perfectly Divine before His death. As I have said, if that argument shows anything, it goes to prove that Divinity must die, because Jesus Christ bled and died. I do not see how the lecturer can prove from that, in any measure, that our body is not to be raised. After the resurrection, Jesus Christ went in and out unseen; but before death He went about with the disciples, and was seen as we are. The change was after the resurrection of Christ, just as the change will be with us. I can say with our friend who has spoken on the subject, in reply to the lecturer, that the body is sown in corruption, and raised in incorruption. As this is a subject so vast and of so much importance. I will endeavor to give my views more fully on Sunday evening next, at the Queen Square Baptist Chapel; and I shall be glad to see as many of my friends as possible on that occasion.
FIRST FRIEND: Bacon the great experimental philosopher, Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton, not less than the least of philosophers,–these men died, and were buried in a certain hope of a resurrection of their bodies into everlasting life.
DR. BAYLEY: I have only to remark further, that I am exceedingly obliged to the gentlemen who have placed these matters before us, and to the one who seems likely to make them still more interesting, by turning the attention of the people to them on Sunday night. I hope there will be many present, that there will be an earnest and interesting examination of the subject, and that we shall endeavor to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. Our respected friend has named some of the philosophers; which he, I suppose, has done, because of my referring to the philosophy of the present day; but without quoting even what the philosophers have said on the subject before us. It is very possible that had he done so, he would have found they would have been like Locke, who was a great philosopher, and who taught precisely as we teach, and in a very contrary sense to what our friend has named. When he brings up any argument from Newton, or Boyie, we shall be very glad to attend to the argument, and to see whether there is anything in it, and to give it all the weight that a respectable proposition ought to have at all times. For anything else but argument, I assure him, we have no respect. Anything that our friend has to say about demeanor and so on, will be better left to those who hear to judge. (Hear, hear.) I have tried to give, at least a respectable and courteous hearing to what has been brought before us. (Cheers.) I will just add a word or two to our friends (the Rev. Mr. Wilkins) remarks, which may assist him not to misrepresent our ideas. Our doctrine is–that the Lord through life, and at death, was going through a work of perfecting and glorifying His humanity. That at the beginning there was within the human nature from Mary, a germ of the Divine nature from God Himself–that holy thing that was born was the Son of God within as was there the Son made of a woman without.
This Divine nature in the human was being more fully brought out during the Saviors life; but the mere human from Mary remained so far that it might be crucified, and it was crucified. It was not the Divine body that was crucified or died. I hope our friend, in stating his ideas, will keep to what we assure him are our views upon the subject. It was the human from Mary which suffered and died, but there had been from the first gradually expanding a Divine humanity, from Himself, and that was the Son seen on mount Tabor, when His raiment was white as the light. The Divine body from within was that which rose, the glorious, the perfect body; and which John saw, when he beheld the First and the Last.
Author: Jonathan Bayley—Great Truths on Great Subjects (1899)