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clothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up in life.” In this passage there are a few things to be noticed. First. The distinction which he makes between the natural and the spiritual body, and to which we before referred. The one, he calls a “tabernacle," a temporary erection, intended to serve a particular purpose, and then to be taken down. The other is a “building,” not a mere tent, but a substantial and complete edifice. This “tabernacle” is not to be changed or beautified, but to be dissolved ; and is thus essentially different from the building which is “eternal in the heavens,” for it is only temporary and "earthly.” Secondly. The Apostle does not seem to have had any idea of what is called a separate state of souls,” He expected when the natural body was dissolved, to enter at once into his spiritual form. So far from wishing to live in the state referred to, he expresses his anxious desire to be clothed with that form; and in reference to the shadowy existence into which the heathens expected to enter, where all was “aerial substance, and an empty shade;" he declares that he has no wish to be “unclothed,” to live without a body, but to “be clothed upon,” or to receive instead of his natural body, a spiritual and immortal frame. In all this it is evident; that the Apostle expected immediately after the death of his body, to receive his spiritual form; or, in other words, to experience a resurrection, The reception of this glorious body he considers essential to eternal happiness, and a preliminary step to its enjoyment; for so far from looking for happiness in an unbodied state, he deprecates the idea of entering into it, as something which is not desirable. Taking this view of the subject, his conclusion in the fifteenth chapter is both proper and reasonable. If the resurrection is a preliminary step to future life,-if it must take place before such life can be received, then there can be no future life without it, and consequently, if there be no resurrection, those who have died believing in Christ, and expecting eternal life, must have perished, by sinking into nonexistence. And this, it would seem was the opinion of some of those who in the Apostle's day troubled the church, and against whom he declared that “we shall not all sleep."
We might go much further in our extracts from the Apostle, did our limits permit. One expression more we will notice. In the 32d verse of the fifteenth chapter he says, “What advantageth it me if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Obviously teaching, that if there be no resurrection, we may as well enjoy to the utmost the pleasures of the world; since piety, and even suffering in the cause of piety, will in such case advantage no one.
Yet such an assertion, according to the common belief, is any thing but true.That belief teaches, that the spirits of the righteous, separated from their bodies, are rewarded with happiness; and that the disembodied souls of the wicked are punished for their crimes. If, then, happiness be worth seeking, and torment worth avoiding, piety is useful and essentially necessary, even though the body never rise, and though that disembodied state is eternally permanent. To advise any one, under such circumstances, to give way to the vicious pleasures of the world, is contrary to reason, prudence, and common sense. Either, then, the Apostle spoke foolishly, or the common belief is untrue : the former we cannot admit, we must therefore acknowledge the latter.
But connecting what we have already observed with this verse, the sense of the Apostle is clear, and its correctness undeniable. If resurrection is the entrance into future being, then, without this resurrection, there can be no future existence; and if there is no future state, then piety and wickedness can only produce temporary effects; and piety, in the time of the Apostle, appeared to have the worst place," for if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable ;" and the wisest course of conduct is that recommended, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
We turn from the Apostle Paul to notice the words of the SAVIOUR. When the Sadducees (who, like the false teachers in the Corinthian church, affirmed there was no resurrection;) came to try their philosophy upon the Redeemer; after answering the question they had put to him, he said, “ 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.” And so powerful was the effect of this argument upon his opponents, that they were at once completely silenced. Yet if we consider the resurrection as a future and distant event, this strong and powerful argument is deprived of meaning and even of sense. It was the resurrection that our Lord attempted to prove; and in order to do this, he adduced Abraham and Isaac and Jacob as witnesses, while yet, neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob had experienced any resurrection, but were living in an intermediate and disembodied state! Hence a learned writer in the Church of England has acknowledged, that though our Lord's argument proves the immortality of the soul, it does not prove the resurrection of the body. According to this writer, therefore, our Lord egregiously failed in argument; for it was not the immortality of the soul, but the resurrection of the body that he designed to prove.
With the ideas, however, which we have given from the Apostle, the argument of our Lord assumes its proper
form.Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were living : there could be no future life without previous resurrection; therefore these patriarchs had risen with the spiritual body, and were “as the angels of God.” And if Abraham and Isaac and Jacob had risen, then, as God is no respecter of persons, all will likewise be raised unto the promised existence. In this view, the point which our Lord aimed at is attained; but with the common idea, our Lord was, as St. Paul said to be, an inconclusive
We may therefore conclude, first, that it is the spiritual body, and not the natural one that rises—“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” And, secondly, that this resurrection takes place on the dissolution of our present existence, and not at a future and distant period : hence the language of our blessed Redeemer to the repentant thief upon
cross, “Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
THE END OF THE WORLD.
In our last note we briefly adverted to the doctrine of the resurrection, as laid down by St. Paul, and substantiated by his Master. We then stated that the body which rises is not material but spiritual, and that this resurrection takes place immediately on the death of the material body. We now proceed to the doctrines of the judgment, and the end of the world, upon each of which we shall make a few observations.
First, then, it is commonly understood, that as the resurrec
tion will not take place until this world is about to be destroyed, so, at that period, the bodies of the dead being raised, will be reunited to their spirits, and being thtim brought forward to judgment, will be for-ever happy or miserable, according to their conduct while on earth. The common doctrine of the Judgment, depends therefore upon the resurrection, as its keystone, and if this be removed the edifice falls at once: but we have shown that there is no ground to expect anything like a general resurrection of the material bodies of the dead :—that St. Paul overthrows such expectation by teaching that the body which rises, is not the body which is interred, and that no sooner is the “earthly tabernacle” laid down, than we have another building of God eternal and spiritual ; consequently that the resurrection is an immediate event. Since therefore there is not any ground for expecting a day of general resurrection, the doctrine of a general judgment has lost its principal support. This will appear more clearly, if we consider the subject a little further.
It is generally understood that the last judgment will take place upon this earth, and immediately before the general confiagration. Upon this earth, or at least in the region of visible nature, the innumerable tribes of men are to be assembled : in the same region is the great white throne to be seen, and into it the Almighty Judge is to descend, accompanied by his angels. But it must be remembered, that whether the judgment will occur at some distant period or not, the bodies which are raised, will be spiritual bodies. Now spirit has no relation either to time or space. It exists not in space, nor can it so exist. That which exists in a universe of matter, must be subject to the laws of matter: it must be bounded by space, and possess the several qualities of length, breadth, and thickness. It must therefore occupy a certain portion of that space—it must have a relative position with other visible objects, and be at a determinate distance from them. But spirit is subject to none of these laws. It is not bounded by any thing material; it occupies no portion of the visible world : it is neither visible nor tangible by any material organ. It cannot, therefore, exist in a material uni. world of matter, so neither will the bodies of those who are raised appear in this world at the judgment. That which is spiritual, can only exist in a spiritual region; and as the bodies at the resurrection are spiritual, in a spiritual region only can they be judged. The judgment therefore, whenever it takes place, must occur in the world of spirits, and not on the visible earth,
Such, then, will be the bodies of the risen. Spiritual and not material: and consequently not existing in a material world. As then that which is spiritual does not exist in a
And this at once brings us to what is called “ the end of the world.” It is evident, that if the judgment takes place in the region of spirits, it will, whenever it occurs, be invisible to those who may at that time be on earth. For the organs of the body cannot discern that which is spiritual: or if it is seen at all, it must be by those whose eyes, like those of the prophets,
are opened » to behold the otherwise invisible world. As, therefore, the judgment will be in the very nature of things a spiritual event, all the pomp and circumstance attending it must be spiritual likewise.
And, indeed, the description which is given of that great event, is incapable of being understood in any other than a spiritual sense. The "moon being turned into blood—the stars falling from heaven—the elements melting with fervent heatthe great white throne—the trumpet-and the descent in the clouds,” are evidently never intended to be literally understood ; and for this simple reason, that so understood they are
If it be supposed that by such an assertion we degrade the Scriptures, we deny the imputation. In all languages there are expressions which though true in their meaning, are false in the letter; and the language by which God has oftentimes condescended to speak to man, is intended by symbolical or outward imagery, to convey spiritual meaning:If, however, it be asserted, that these expressions convey literal facts, let three questions be set at rest. 1. Since God, the author of reason, never speaks in opposition to reason, let it be shewn that the descriptions above given are perfectly reasonable. 2. As God never acts without a motive, let the motive be shewn which can lead to a destruction of the universe. 3. Since the same descriptions were given of the first coming of the Saviour, let the reason be explained why they should not in the former case be spiritually accomplished, as they certainly were in the latter ?
Whoever is acquainted either with the nature of the heavenly