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ON THE ANALOGY BETWEEN VEGETATION AND
THE RESURRECTION OF THE HUMAH BODY.
That the Doctrine of the Resurrection has fewer
Difficulties than the Doctrine of Vegetation.
Whatever difficulties may seem to clog the doctrine of the resurrection, they are neither greater in themselves, nor more in number, than nature exhibits in almost all her works. It is true, that the constant repetition of a wonder, invariably tends to lessen our astonishment, and we continue to gaze till we behold with the most perfect indifference the most astonishing events, as the common occurrences of our present state. The power
process of vegetation, which are constantly exhibited before our eyes, include secrets which we cannot unravel; and when viewed with an attentive observation, discover mysteries which are by far more unaccountable than any which are contained in the belief that our bodies shall be re-aniinated in some future period, after the great recess of nature in the grave shall have passed and be totally done away.
If we confine our observations, on the analogy between vegetation and the resurrection, to vegetation in its most simple state ; and only presume that one grain shall, through its corruption, produce another similar to itself, we must at least acknowledge in this case, that the difficulties will be equal ; and we can no more account for the one than we can comprehend the other. But, when tu this simple state of vegetation, which we have supposed, we add that power of multiplication which it possesses, and which we constantly perceive in the production and re-production of grain; the difficulties which approach us are most decidedly on the part of vegetation, while the doctrine of the resurrection stands, comparatively, unembarrassed with any obstacles which can forbid belief. If the
process of vegetation were only known in theory; and if that theory had asserted, that one grain of wheat was capable of producing another new grain by the dissolution of its component parts; if this, I say, had been asserted in theory only, without any correspondent fact to verify the declaration, the assertion would even in that case have had greater improbabilities to overcome than the doctrine of the resurrection has now. For, as nothing of a similar nature would have preceded it in point of fact and time, even the possibility of realizing such a theory would be rendered doubtful, and scepticism might have smiled at the idle vision, with the same Sadducean sneer, that it now bestow's upon the notion of a resurrection of the dead.
But, if in that early period which we have sup
posed, the asserters of future vegetation, proceeding further in their speculations, had declared, that by some incomprehensible, but prolific power existing in nature, one grain of wheat should actually produce sixty, or one hundred grains, of equal magnitude and beauty with itself; and this too, through a process which threatened the inevitable destruction of all; I cannot doubt but sceptical men, forming their calculations from mere possibility, would have exploded such a declaration as something too roinantic and visionary to occupy a rational mind. For as the certainty of vegetation could not in this case, have been realized by fact, which is the most infallible demonstration of theory; there could have been no foundation, on which the mind could rest to form its calculations on the possibility of such an issue ;-a foundation, which is in the case of the resurrection, all nature annually supplies by analogy
Hence then it follows, that more probability must now rest on the side of the resurrection, if it were to be asserted that one human body should produce sixty, or one hundred bodies, of equal magnitude and beauty with itself, from that which is now sown in the earth, to be the germ of future life; than could, in the case supposed, have rested upon the vegetation and production of grains the certainty of which is demonstrated by fact. For, had an objection been stated against the possibility of the fact, in the case of vegetation; as nature could have furnished no analogy in its favour, the objection must have remained in all its force; and plausibility must have rested on the side of incredulity, and have given á sanction to error without affording it any defence. But, were it now to be asserted, that one human body shall produce sixty, or one hundred, in the great harvest of human nature, as we have the analogy of vegetation before us, the fact itself would be rescued from the charge of being an impossibility; and, on that account, when compared with vegetation, in its primary state, must have a decided claim upon our belief.
Under these circumstances, and this view of the comparison, though the doctrine of the resurrection has been placed under disadvantages which have no existence, the result even under these forbidding circumstances appears highly favourable; and the fact has every advantage over that which is annually accomplished, with which it has been compared.
If then that which is the more improbable of the two cases be actually accomplished; have we just reason to remain in doubt about that which is the less? If the mysterious multiplication of grain anňually takes place for the use and support of man;
we really disbelieve the certainty of those changes which shall take place in man himself; for whose benefit all other changes have been made; and to whose purposes vegetation has been made invariably subservient? Surely, such conclusions cannot result from the decisions of reason. The events which have already taken place, demonstrate the possibility of the fact, and deprive infidelity of those arguments which are necessary to urge us to disbelieve.
Hitherto the comparison has been considered under the supposition, that one body will produce one hundred; and even in this light, admitting the supposition to have been founded upon fact, the process of nature will furnish us with ample instances to justify our belief. For, though we might plead that we know not how a fact so strange should be accomplished; yet the want of ability to comprehend, can no more be admitted as an argument against the resurrection under all these disadvantages, than the same circumstance can be admitted as an argument against the productions of the soil. In the process of nature, we have placed before us the certainty of the fact, in the case of vegetation; and this certainly becomes a presumptive argument in favour of the great event which yet remains to be verified by accomplishment; probability, therefore, directs us in our decisions, and just analogy removes the hindrances to our belief.
But if we wave these conclusions and that comparison, which, for the sake of argument, have been adopted, and turn our thoughts to the doctrine as we really expect to find it verified by fact, namely, that one individual body sown in weakness, shall be one individual body raised in power; the argument, drawn from the analogy of vegetation, appears in favour of the resurrection, with the most decided superiority. For, while the multiplication of grain clogs vegetation with difficulties, which nothing but fact could overcome : we have in the case of the resurrection but one obstacle, and even this appears to have been removed by analogy drawn from a