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apply to the soul. It appears to be a mode of speech, implying the resurrection of that principle, which can alone exist independent of the body; and is more in accommodation to our imperfect conceptions of the manner in which their union had been maintained. I mean not, however, to undertake to resolve the difficulties connected with this unknown principle; but merely to endeavour to support the opinion I set off with, that the body is not the subject of a resurrection. I leave to divines and metaphysicians those more intricate questions, and shall be satisfied, if I can aid in removing a heresy which appears, even in the days of St. Paul, to have been a stumbling block to the reception of the truths he taught; and which his writings, on several occasions, seem intended to obviate.
In a subsequent verse of the chapter, in which his intercourse with Agrippa is recorded, (Acts 26th) he goes on to say, that he is witnessing “ that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead,” &c.
Now here is a dilemma, which I cannot well comprehend ; and should be happy to have the subject explained by some of your correspondents. It is evident that, corporeally, Christ was not the first who rose from the dead; for, centuries before, the Shunamite's son was restored to life, and likewise the son of the widow of Zeraphath ; so also' the man who came to life, on touching Elisha's bones. The resurrection from the dead of Lazarus, and of others, by the divine power of Christ himself, and of the saints, at the moment of his death, all confirm this position.
Neither, I think, can it be said that Christ arose spiritually, first, unless the souls of Adam and his posterity actually remain in a state of quiescence, until the general consummation of all things. But where they remain, when separated by death from their tenement of clay, and its complete destruction by putrefaction, &c. has never been pointed out by the favourers of this opinion. The cases of resurrection above mentioned, especially of the saints, at the time of the crucifixion, are difficult to be comprehended on either side of the question ; for, if the soul was separated from the body, then it was here again united before the general resurrection, and therefore not quiescent. These are, however, in some measure diminished in the difficulty surrounding them, if we consider all the persons, thus recalled to life, to
have been (as was the case) but a short time dead, and as not having undergone those changes which putrefaction soon produces.
It appears, however, plain to me, that St. Paul, in his speech to Agrippa, did not speak of the corporeal resurrection of our Saviour : as confirming this, take Christ's words, to the expiring thief upon the cross. “ Lord, (says the latter) remember me, when thou comest into thy kingdom.” And Jesus said unto him,
verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” Luke xxiii. 42, 43. Now, certainly, of the body Christ did not here speak; for his body lay in the tomb, until the third day, whilst that of the thief was probably thrown, with his companion's, into the potter's-field.
And how is the part of our creed, “ he descended into Hell, (or the place of departed spirits,) the third day he rose again," &c. compatible with the above ? for Christ himself says, he should be in Paradise! I think the text is in opposition to the idea of the sleep of the soul after death, until the judgment. “ This day shalt thou !" What ? not his body, for that remained! What then? His immortal spirit, his soul, returned to its Maker! purified from the sins done in the body, by his acknowledgment of his Redeemer, while suffering beside him !
Why, indeed, need we suppose that any interval exists between the period of death and the final judgment? for, as it respects God, “ a thousand years are as one day." What we then conceive of, as an immense portion of time, is, in his eye, a minute fraction in the ocean of eternity.
St. Stephen cries, “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Not my body. This was carried to be buried, by devout men; that was instantly received into Heaven.
Our Saviour undoubtedly assumed a corporeal form, as the fittest, and indeed only intermedium of communication with man. His mission upon earth certainly regarded the life or sal. vation of the soul, not of the body. “Take," says he, “ 10 thought for the body."
If the body be merely elementary, and constituted of materials that have once entered into the composition of the globe we iubabit, how can we reconcile the destruction of that globe and of all its contents, at the final consummation of time, with this presumed elevation or resurrection of so many myriads of its particles, (for such they must be, unless we conceive a continual creation of the particles composing the body of man,) in the form of bodies long since identified with its atoms, through the usual progress of putrefaction ?* Or how can reasont reconcile the existence of different bodies together, that, according to such an opinion, must necessarily be constituted of the same identical matter A-for, let us suppose, (what every day's information confirms,) that a man. is killed and devoured by cannibals; his body, by digestion and assimilation of its particles, becomes, in part, an integrant portion of those savages who have thus eaten it. They, in their turn, either die or are killed, and subserve the purposes of nutrition to other savages, or to beasts, less ferocious than themselves. Now, in the resurrection of the body, to whom shall the particles abovementioned belong to the man first killed, to the savage who devoured him, or to the beast who subsequently ate the savage ? But can the body of the original man arise, when it has thus become incorporated with others ? for if it does, then the last must, in their resurrection, rise imperfect; and if it is a part of a beast's, then we must imagine it to be destroyed in common with its carcass; for a greater absurdity will otherwise be implied! As each day, moreover, from birth to manhood, increases the bulk of
The same reverend divine, bishop Newton, has likewise written a most excellent dissertation "on the use of Reason in Religion,” (vol. 5. 205.) which is worthy the attentive consideration of every Christian inquirer. Strenuously devoted to the Church of England, his motto, nevertheless, appears to be, amicus Plato, sed magis veritas. Certain it is, that true religion can never be contrary to truth ; nor can truth be contrary to reason. Our reason, indeed, (so called,) may be imperfect, but perfect reason and true religion must unite together: neither can oppose the other.
't Let us Suppose, that since creation, six thousand years have elapsed ; that during that period two hundred generations, of thirty years each, have passed away, and that each generation consisted of five hundred millions of persons; and further, that each person averaged fifty pounds in weight: here, then, will be a weight of two thousand five hundred millions of tons, which will be raised by the resurrection of the body; and which, consequently, must be deducted from the globe, and its contents, when destroyed by fire: but since this weight, although constituting the bodies of the human race that have existed, did really, in progression, pass from the inanimate part of creation to that possessed of ratiocination, must we not, in reason, believe that it must undergo likewise the common destruction awaiting that general mass from which it originally emanated.
the body, corporcal bodies of different sizes must necessarily exist in another world, according to the period at which they are summoned to their great account !
Again, what are we to conclude, with respect to the mangled and lacerated bodies of the martyrs of different religions, whose bodies have been destroyed by fire, and mingled with the elements around :
Besides, since we must, I think, necessarily pre-suppose perfection in another state of existence, is it not evident, that a perfect body here, would be a monster in a spiritual state? The lungs, the intestines, teeth, heart, and so forth, so requisite to our welfare and perfection in this world, would be useless appendages in the regions of futurity; for we do not suppose that eating, drinking, and so forth, constitute a part of that state of existence in which we shall find ourselves beyond the grave! But, if deprived of these and other organs, how is the reminiscence of friends to be then established ? · Drew, an author who maintains the resurrection of the body, aware of these and other difficulties, attempts to show, that the body is raised from a certain fixed part, constituting its principle of identity; somewhat like the old Jews, who considered such a seminal principle or germ to exist in the bone luz, a part of the os coccygis, according to them; and indestructible by fire, or any other means in our power! Admitting his singular speculations, do they not prove, conclusively, that it is not the identical body here existing, that assumes the appearance of the body in the resurrection ; but a certain undefinable and conjectural part, of which anatomists know nothing! But surely this is not the resurrection of the body, as usually contended for, and as it is indubitably understood by the greater proportion of the clergy wbo maintain this opinion !
I might even contend (if such a germ or principle of identity existed) that it was situated in the rib; since it was this part that was selected by the Almighty for the formation of Eve!
The language of Scripture is often figurative; and too many absurd doctrines have been maintained in our Churches, from taking them always in a literal sense. Do we believe, literally, that Hell is actually a place burning with material fire and brimstone ? Do we believe that God has the organs of humanity, when reading that it grieved him at his heart to have created
man? Do we credit, in literal acceptation, his repentance to
Since then, by the continual decomposition of the human bodies
In Exodus xiv. 13, Moses says, “ For the Egyptians whom ye,
I have already prolonged this paper far beyond my original
TO THE EDITORS OF THE REPOSITORY.
INQUIRER AFTER TRUTH.