페이지 이미지

pellation of “ fool ;” and to have shewn the philosophical propriety of an expression, which Thomas Payne, instead of confronting with argument, has attempted to ridicule, and affected to despise.


* It ought not to be admitted, that the subject of vegetation which St. Paul has so happily applied to the resurrection of the body, was first hinted by our Lord on a similar occasion. Hence he tells us, John xii. 24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. Thus we find, in corroboration of the same sentiment, that even a greater than St, Paul is here.t

† After perusing this section, my friend Dr. A. Clarke sent me the following illustration of John xii. 24. which applies so forcibly to the subject of this inquiry that I make no apology for inserting it, as I am sure it will recommend itself to the good sense and piety of every reader.

" It appears quite evident to me that St. Paul borrowed his simile and illustration of the resurrection of the human body from the words of our Lord, John xii. 24. This simile properly understood, is in both cases so physically and philosophically correct as to carry conviction to the most insensible mind. I sball give you a paraphrase which I extract from my MS. notes on the above passage.

Unless the grain of wheat which falleth into the ground die, it remaineth alone, ver. 24.

“Our Lord compares himself to a grain of wheat, his death to a gruin sown and decomposed in the ground; his resurrection to the blade which springs from the dead grain, and which brings forth an abundance of fruit. As if he had said, I must die to be glorified, and unless I am glorified I cannot establish a glorious church of Jews and Gentiles upon earth. In comparing himselfthus to a grain of wheat, our Lord shews us, 1. The cause of his death : the order of God, who had rated the redemption of the world at this price: as in nature he had attached the multipliplication of the corn to the death of the grain. 2. The end of his death ; the redemption of a lost world; the justification, sanctification, and glorification of men; as the multiplication of the corn is the end for which the grain dies. 3. The mystery of his death, which we must credit without being able fully to comprehend; as we believe the dead grain multiplies itself, and we are nourished by that multiplication, without being able to comprehend how it is done. The greatest philosopher that ever existed could not tell how one grain became 30, 60, 100, or a thousand, how it vegetated in the earth; how earth, air and water, its component parts, could assume such a form and consistence, emit such odours, or produce such tastes. Nor can the wisest man on earth tell how the bodies of animals are nourished by this produce of the ground; how wheat for instance, is assimilated to the very nature of the bodies that receive it; and how it becomes flesh and blood, nerves, sinews, hones, &c. All we can say is, the thing is so; and it has pleased God that it should be so, and not otherwise. So there are many things in the person, death, and sacrifice of Christ, which we can neither explain nor comprehend; all we should say here is, it is by this means that the world was redeemed, through this sacrifice men are saved : it has pleased God that it should be so, and not otherwise.—Some say, our Lord spoke this according to the philosophy of those days, which was by no means correct. But I would ask, has ever a more correct phi. losophy on this point appeared ? Is it not a physical truth, that the whole body of the grain dies, is converted into fine mould, which constitutes the first nourishment of the embryo plant, and prepares it to receive a grosser support from the surrounding soil; and that nothing lives but the germ which was included in this body, and which must die also, if it do not receive from the death or putrefaction of the body of the grain, nourishment, so as to enable it to unfold itself? Though the body of our Lord died, there was still the gern), the quickening power of the divinity, which reanimated that body, and stamped the atonement with infinite merit. Thus the merit was multiplied, and through the death of that one person, the man Christ Jesus, united to the Eternal Word, salvation was procured for the whole world. Never was a simile more appropriate ; nor an illustration more happy or successful.”

[blocks in formation]




In which it is argued, That the Identity of our fu

ture Bodies does not consist in all the numerical Particles, nor in the Majority of them, which have occasionally adhered to the Vital Mass, in any given Portion of the present Life.

On a subject so abstruse as that of the identity of the human body, it is natural to conceive that difficulties will arise from various quarters, and press upon us in a variety of forms. The subject itself is involved in much obscurity; it eludes in many cases, our most acute researches ; and requires faculties more penetrating and vigorous, than any which we now possess. The rays of light that are diffused through the gloom, with which we are encircled, are however sufficient to convince us of its certainty; the difficulties, therefore, which perplex us, arise from subordinate causes, but the fact itself remains unimpeached.

Nor will these difficulties admit of satisfactory solutions in all their parts, though we vary the modes of our mquiry, and suppose the identity of the body to be lodged in either of those combinations of matter, in which alone it can possibly be placed. 'For, whether we suppose the identity of the body to consist in all the numerical particles which have been occasionally united to the vital system, or in some stamen which is lodged within its recesses ; or in the majority of those particles whichi formed the body when it sunk into the grave; still many difficulties will remain, which we cannot fully comprehend. We shall meet in each case with obscurities which we cannot pierce, with obstacles which we cannot properly surmount, and in some cases with arguments which will forbid our further progress, because they will involve us in contradictions.

But these difficulties can lay no embargo on the exertions of an inquiring mind. For, though they are attended with embarrassments which are hostile in their appearances, and contradictory in their issues; they will discover the avenues of error, and direct us from what is wrong to what is right.

The works of man we may understand; but those actions which no power less than infinite can accomplish, it is but reasonable to believe, that no wisdom less than infinite can fully comprehend. We discover the most obvious demonstrations of these truths in all the varied works of nature; the periodical' vicissitude of day and night, and the revolutions of the seasons, oblige us to admit those truths, which excite our astonishment, but leave us in the shade. For, in the vast empire of nature, all our boasted researches into her secret movements, our developement of her recesses, and our investigation of causes and effects, are not only defective in their nature, but chiefly applied to the mere superfices of things. The primary causes of all lie concealed from mortals; and the utmost stretch of our most penetrating faculties can rise but little higher than probability; and must finally rest in the acknowledgment of a self-existent cause, whose nature and manner of existence are very little known. Our inquiries, therefore, in all these cases must be, how far should probability be permitted to operate; to produce conviction and to obtain belief? Without doubt, it is our indispensable duty, amidst a variety of possible cases, which are involved in difficulty, to select that which appears farthest removed from absurdity and error. It is this alone which can give it the features of truth, arrest the mind in its progressive movements, and present a rational claim to our belief.

If the human body rise from the grave, its original sameness, in whatsoever it consisted, must be preserved; because, without this it is not the former body but totally another. And it is equally certain that in whatsoever this sameness consists, the cases which are possible, cannot be infinite; on the contrary, they must be confined within a narrow compass, and reduced to a diminutive number; and

« 이전계속 »