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germinating powers; every doubt would then be removed from our mind. And, in process of time, we should view the successive changes without any wonder; as much so, as we now view the continual changes of seed time and harvest, and the alternate vicissitudes of corruption and germination.
This case is precisely our own; it is true, we differ from grain, in that we move by a much slower process. But, the germ of future life is already lodged within our bodies; it will soon be sown in the earth, and in the day of eternity, it shall be awakened into immortal life. The grain, which is fleeting and transitory, moves with speedy transition through all its evolutions; we therefore behold all its parts in one collected view. But the human body, being destined for perpetual duration, and having an eternity before it, moves by slow but no less certain steps through those necessary changes, which, when once passed, can never more return.
Under these views, how can the whole scene be less than wonderful, when we survey it in all its parts? In our present state, we see but in part,the sequel is reserved for another state of existence. And, in our present condition, while we see nothing more than the body sown, and while we are fully assured that the whole face of nature must be changed, before it can rise from the grave; why do we look for greater evidence than even our own reason has taught us to expect? Or, why do we look for greater evidence than the nature of the subject can possibly afford? The vast changes, which all nature must undergo before this event can be accomplished, have not yet taken place; and until
those changes shall be accomplished, we can no more expect the resurrection of the body, than we can suppose that an effect can precede its cause.
In the order of nature, the seed time must first exist. And, after the grain is sown, it must vegetate and produce its fruits, before we can see the final result of all. Now if we stop at any stage in this progress, and in that stage attempt to decide upon the certainty, or uncertainty of the future cvent, without waiting the arrival of that period in which alone the final result can be expected to appear; we have in such cases nothing more to expect, than disappointment and error, as the just reward of our indiscretion and presumption.
Just such is the case before us. The seed is already in existence; in many cases we have seen it sown. But the final harvest, nothing but the season of harvest can produce. And, as this season of harvest is lodged beyond the boundaries of our present state, we can expect no more evidence on this side of the grave; and what further evidence the subject may be capable of affording, we must assuredly die to know.
As to the certainty of the result, we have for our ground-work the whole analogy of nature, and the infallible declaration of God; and they who doubt, under these circumstances, will not be satisfied with any thing short of ocular demonstration. But, I appeal to any man,—can ocular demonstration possibly take place in the present state? Can you prove to any man or men, by ocular demonstration, the resurrection of the human body, without calling eternity to your aid? The face of the question involves eternity; it necessarily refers to another world; and to have ocular demonstration of an event, which necessarily refers to eternity, without eternity, includes a contradiction. And, if ocular demonstration cannot be obtained, we must be content with such evidence as God has placed within our reach. We have all the proof that the progressive state of the subject can afford; and to expect more is unreasonable and unjust.
ut, when the times of restitution shall arrive; and the great period which is appointed by the allotment of heaven, for the renovation of human nature, shall be accomplished; we shall then, without doubt, have all that reason to expect the event to correspond with the elapsing period, which we have now to remain without it; and to be satisfied with such evidence as we have. But, until that period arrives, we have no more reason to charge the doctrine of the resurrection with an insufficiency of evidence, than we have to attribute to a grain of wheat a want of fruitfulness, before the great process of nature has passed upon it.
Objections may here be urged against the analogy between vegetation and the resurrection, from the disproportion of time in which the bodies of men repose in the grave.
For answers to these objections, I refer the reader to chapter five, and section three of this work.
Admitting this germ, or principle of identity, for which I contend, to have existed in a seminal state from the first to the last of the human race; then every movement of time, which has elapsed from Adam down to the present hour, must have had its influence in an equal manner, upon all the individuals of the human race, who have ever lived, or shall live to the latest periods of time. All, therefore, in the natural process will be alike prepared ; and will be equally ready when the trumpet shall sound, to start forth at once into life and immortality.
The short interval of life, I consider of no moment, when compared to that stupendous range of time which reaches frotn creation, down to the day of judgment. It can be no more than a single point, which loses itself in the vast abyss with which it is connected. The importance of time can only be estimated from its connection with moral action. As it stands in relation to the grand process of that germinating principle, which shall be the stamen of our future bodies in eternity ; it can be but as the minutest drop to the unbounded ocean, or as an insensible atom on the shore. It may, nevertheless, be a necessary and a constituent part of the great process itself, through which we must pass; and even the inequalities of the duration of human life may be as necessary as life itself, to form and complete the minute parts of the amazing whole.
The Objections against the Idea of a Germ, as
constituting the Identity of the Body hereafter, no Argument against its Certainty. Several Objections considered. Several Changes of our Bodies highly probable.
We have already seen, in some of the preceding sections, the difficulties which obstruct our progress in the various suppositions which we have formed. We are fully satisfied that a principle of identity must exist; but that which constitutes it, is not so easy to explore. We have already considered those suppositions, which place the identity of the body in all the particles which were deposited in the grave; and we have been led to obstacles which are not only insurmountable, but big with absurdities of the grossest nature. The same or similar obstructions have presented themselves before us in that supposition, which places the identity of the body in the greatest number of particles indiscriminately taken, either at the moment of the interment of the body, or at any previous period of life. The certainty of the principal obliges us to explore another region; and we are driven to some immoveable stamen as our last resort.
Whatever it may be, which constitutes the identity of the body, it must be a something which retains an immoveable permanency in the midst of