Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

It must then needs be this intellectual spark to which Moses adverts, that constitutes him the Lord of creation. It would, however, be difficult to demonstrate, beyond all dispute, that some slight degree of the same intelligence is not actually bestowed on, at least, some of the inferior orders, when we view the labours of the beaver, and the providence of many animals, in preparing their winter stores, together with the sagacity of the dog, &c. all of which, although denominated instinct, (superior sometimes to our boasted reason) imply somewhat beyond mere corporeal excellence, conjoined to a principle of vitality.

In the notes of the learned Dr. Clarke, on the verses enumerated, and others, he tells us, some have supposed that God speaks to the angels, when he says, “Let us make man.” And he objects, that, before admitting this, it is necessary to prove,1. That angels were then created,2. That they could assist in a work of creation,-3. That they were themselves made in the image of God.

Without entering into this controversy, I may be allowed to remark, that, if we credit the rebellion of Satan against the Di. vine Majesty, and his expulsion, with the other apostate angels, from heaven, we must infer their existence, prior to the creation of Adam, since we find the Devil almost immediately tempting our first parents to sin ; at least, we have reason to think so; for Cain was not born until after their expulsion from Paradise; and, as Adam and Eve were created perfect, and adults, we have a right to presume his birth to have taken place within a year from their creation.

It is easy also to imagine the angels to have acted a subordinate part in creation, being the mere operative agents of divine will : and that they were made in the image of God, cannot be doubted, when we find man spoken of, as only “ a little lower than the angels,"--and if “ a little lower,” and yet made in the divine image, we must presume them to have been, at least, as advantageously formed, as their acknowledged inferiors.

I proceed now to a cursory view of the 7th verse of the ad Genesis, quoted at the commencement of these observations; and here we evidently trace a threefold state of man. He is formed of dust, corporeal ; to which is added a principle of vitality, he “ breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” and by which he could merely rank (if so,) with the beasts of the field, &c. but to those are superadded “the living soul,” which stamped him with the image of his Divine Architect. The body alone is formed of dust ; that is, consists of principles common to inanimate matter around. The vital spark, or breath of life, is maintained in its operation, through the instrumentality of various causes, which God has rendered essential to it; and which are always acting, to the last moment of expiring life. Such are the processes of digestion, respiration, sanguification, &c.: and hence, when these are suspended by any cause, the vital principle is no longer operative, and death ensues. The earthly or corporeal part becomes now submissive to sundry agencies, which could not operate, whilst opposed by the “ breath of life;"-putrefaction takes place, and the liberated particles of elementary matter now escape, and enter into other forms of existence, either vegetable, animal, or mineral. The “ living soul” returns to God, to answer for the deeds done in the body, the passive instrument of man's virtuous or vicious actions ; for it is evident, that, but for the presence of the “ living soul," man could only rank with the animals around, whom we cannot conceive to be the objects of Divine displeasure. The 6 breath of life," then, is the medium of corporeal and spiritual existence; deprived of which, whilst the soul geeks its native sky, the body, equally with the beasts of the field, must sink into oblivion. Hence it is, that the chief of our nourishment is derived from them ; the vital principle incorporating (if I may so say) either with the other. But the soul distinctly marks us of Divine connexion : it is the renewal of creation itself ;—for a soul must be created, at the formation of every human body! Independent of this Divine emanation, this likeness of the Deity, the various classes of animals are, in their respective stations, equally perfect with ourselves; and ought, therefore, equally to be subject to the regard or displeasure of their Maker!

We are brought on now, to consider the principal subject of this communication more particularly ; viz. the resurrection to another state of existence and here I cannot but express my astonishment at the diversity of sentiment, which exists in the Christian world on this, to us, most interesting subject of our belief. What would this world be, were we not all anxiously in expectation of a better? Or how could we reconcile the evils which the good experience here, and the flourishing state (I do

VOL. I.

Nn

not say happy) of the wicked, with the mercy, the justice of heaven, were it not for a future distribution of rewards and punishments, which we anticipate beyond the grave ?

In what form we may arise into another state, and with what investiture clothed, it is perhaps beyond the ken of man to know. We may, however, be enabled to ascertain with what of our present state we shall not rise: and my present object is to show, that it is physically impossible, both from reason and revelation, that our present body can form a portion of that spiritual one, which is to exist to all eternity.

In order to prove this, it is requisite that it be conceded to me, that (I write with reverential awe) God cannot perform an impossibility! It will be admitted, then, that the same identical portion of matter cannot, by any power, be made to exist in two separate and independent places, at one and the same time, and if this be granted to me, I think the evidence against the resurrection of the body must be allowed by every one.

We have already seen that Adam was formed from the dust of the earth : we are afterwards informed in the Scriptures, that (Gen. ii. 21.) “ The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man," &c. Now, were there not other parts sufficiently express against the resurrection of the body, this alone would be adequate to disprove it; for, if it is the identical body that is to be raised, it may be asked, why, as Eve was formed from Adam, her body should not be raised as a part of his ? for otherwise his body would be raised in an imperfect state ; but if raised as a part of Adam, then what becomes of Eve's corporeal resurrection ?

If we proceed, however, to review the 19th verse, 3d chapter of Genesis, quoted at the head of these remarks, we find it expressly stated by God himself, that he was to return to the dust, from whence he was taken. Now, as this judgment could only refer to his body, which alone was derived from that source, we perceive an absolute negation to any chance of the future rising of the body. Is any text in Scripture as strongly, by any sophistical induction, in favour of such an event, as this is against it?

A proof of the resurrection has been deduced from the passage " that God is the God of Abraham,” &c. “ Now God is not a God of the dead, but of the living,” Matt. xxii. 32. And here, it is presumed, the resurrection of the body is implied: but I would ask, what is Abraham's dead body, without his living soul ? A mere mass of corruptible matter, capable of decomposition into its pristine elements, a part of which, before his birth, had been derived from his parents, and subsequently, the remainder from the aliments he received ; aliments derived from animals and vegetables, (fit subjects, certainly, for a celestial habitation !) and, by digestion, converted into a homogeneous mass, which was de. posited by the blood vessels in every part. Now, these materials, drawn from ten thousand different sources, all finally resolve themselves into the offspring of vegetation : but vegetables derive. their support from the water, air, and earth around them; and hence their elements, and those of all animated beings, deriving their support from those, must ultimately be resolved into those elementary particles which go to form the class of vegetables. Hence then, a chain of continued changes exists in matter, which now constitutes a part of an animal, a vegetable, or mineral substance, or exists uncombined amongst the gasses of the atmo. sphere.

Until this mass of elementary materials is animated by the 6 breath of life," it is truly related to the dust of the earth. Even this only places man on a footing with the beasts that perish; and with equal propriety might we contend for the resurrection of the bodies of both. It is the bright effulgence of the Deity existing within his tenement of clay, the divine emanation of the Deity, his soul, that enables man to aspire to the regions of immortality. It is that part alone, created for this purpose, at his first formation, that can, in reason, be answerable for the deeds done in the body; and which, after the breath of life, the link of upion between soul and body, is removed, alone rises to its native heaven; for we are told expressly, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven.

It appears to follow, from what has been said, (and much more, if necessary, might be said,) that that portion of the creed of the Church of England, called the Apostles' Creed, although not framed by those holy men, and unknown as such, until long after their labours on earth had ceased) which asserts our belief in the resurrection of the body, is erroneously ascribed to the

apostles.* St. Paul, who principally maintains the doctrines of the resurrection, no where asserts that it is the same body that is deposited, which rises into another state of existence. “It is sown (says he) a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." 1 Cor. 15th Ch. He speaks uniformly of the resurrection of the dead, but not of the body. Nay, he even expressly tells us, in the same chapter above referred to, v. 37, “ Thou sowest not that body that shall be.” What testimony more express can be desired ??

In St. Paul's speech to Agrippa, he says, “ Why should it be thought a thing incredible to raise the dead 3" In this, and other passages, I presume the term dead to indicate merely the solution of that union, which, by means of the vital principle, had existed between the soul and body. But since the soul does not die, it might be objected that the resurrection of the dead would not

[merged small][ocr errors]

The ten commandments are expressly delivered to Moses by God himself; our Saviour equally delivers to his disciples that prayer designated by his name; but we no where find an Apostles' Creed, either in the Acts, the Gospels, or the numerous Epistles written to the various Churches, &c. by their own hands! Nor is there any part of the Old or New Testament, (perhaps excepting å passage in Job, but the correctness of the translation of which is doubted by Bishop Newton) which implies that the body is raised.

I may here notice incidentally, as worthy of remark, that, in that short but comprehensive prayer, our Saviour teaches us to address “ Our Father, who art in heaven, but gives no intimation of any address to be made to him or the Holy Spirit distinct from God the Father, as apparently should be the case, if a Trinity of Persons, of equal majesty, &c. existed in the Godhead. Now, as Jesus Christ expressly tells us, He and the Father are one, it follows that prayer ought to be made to one only God, the Father of light and life. And it also is worthy of special notice, that God, in the very first command. ment, says, “ Thou shalt have no other Gods but me.”—But certainly if wor. ship be paid to three persons in one Godhead, we either worship two more besides the Supreme Jehovah, or we divide the Deity in such sort, as certainly negatives the idea of an individual, self-existing God!

† Bishop Newton has given us, in bis 6th Vol. a most able discourse upon the General Resurrection, (Diss. 58, p. 266) and he is amongst the most or. thodox divines of the Church of England ; yet his whole arguments go to disprove the resurrection of the body, and even to show that the words so translated will not bear that meaning. It is well worth the perusal of every friend to free inquiry after truth, and is earnestly recommended to the attentive consideration of every minister of the Church.

« AnteriorContinuar »