« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
no longer needed. As blood is the essential means of change in the human system, carrying particles of chyle to supply the waste matter constantly being thrown off, imbibing impurities from noxious gases or miasma, so becoming more or less diseased, it becomes the element especially of decay. This form of change in our bodies implies decay, and blood is the most corruptible element in them. Jesus had shed this upon the cross, and now stands before the disciples, having experienced that mysterious change in which there is no more blood. His omission of blood, then, was not accidental. Jesus stands upon the incorruptible side; Paul upon the corruptible; and, viewing the flesh as more especially pervaded with this corruptible element, he assures us that it cannot, in such a state, inherit the kingdom of God. So that with the apostle the omission of bones was not accidental. This is, perhaps, the culminating point in Paul's answer to the inquiry of the caviller, “With what body do they come?”
The thoughtful reader of this argument, in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, will not fail to notice that mortality is the marked condition or element in our present bodies, and that immortality is the essential condition of the resurrection-body, with its natural concomitants of glory and bliss. The important change, then, is from mortality to immortality. The apostle can hardly be more explicit than this. He does, however, allude to resemblances between the mortal and the immortal. The one precedes the other—holds a certain fixed relation to it, as antecedent and cause, in form and identity, as the seed does to the harvest. Says Lange:
In all the continued processes of nature, the Creator abides by the primitive constitution of things. He goes on perpetually, giving to each seed, or germ, a body after its own fixed kind, or conducts it onward to the develpment of the same. The argument here is this: That inasmuch
: as this is the way of God's working, we may expect something of the like sort in relation to the germ of the human body. . . . As with seeds, so with human bodies; dying and corruption furnish no grounds for asserting the impossibility of the resurrection.
But while this is so, there are dissimilarities noticed by Paul. All flesh is not the same flesh, even though composed essentially of the same elements. There is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also heavenly bodies, and earthly bodies; the heavenly, though having flesh and bones, yet differing in their nature and power from the earthly. But the distinguishing condition of the heavenly is their immortality. The mortal, in taking this, drops the mortality in the flesh and blood. All flesh is not the same. There is the heavenly kind, free from mortality. This seems to be the substance of the apostle's argument upon the nature of the body raised, and the force of the explanatory clause, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”
We come now to consider more particularly the nature of Christ's resurrection-body. Was his body, when it arose, simply reanimated, or was it transformed and immortalized ? In considering this, it is important to refer to the prominence given in the Scriptures to the resurrection of Christ; and, first, in respect to the order of time. In 1 Corinthians xv. 20 he is said, in his resurrection, to “ become the first fruits of them that slept." This denotes priority in time. So in the verses following. We are assured that the natural ruin, on account of the first Adam, shall be repaired by the second. “But every man in his own order. Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.” The first fruits of the harvest were “the first that were gathered in.” These were to be offered before the Lord. So the first fruits of man were the first born. These also sustained a pre-eminence in that they were the Lord's, and were to be redeemed by the offering of beasts. So the first fruits of animals were the first produced. So Christ, in the priority of his resurrection, is the first fruits of the grave.
This pre-eminence is alluded to in other places. In Revelation i. 5 he is called “the first begotten of the dead." In Paul's epistle to the Colossians, i. 18, he is said to be “the beginning, the first born of the dead, that in all things (or among all) he might have the preeminence.” This pre-eminence referred to the order of his resurrection. It should precede that of every other. “Christ the first fruits, afterward (or next in order) they that are Christ's at his coming."
Paul, before Festus, declares that the prophets and Moses taught that “Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead.” (Acts xxvi. 23.) In some particulars Christ's resurrection was to precede that of all others. It was to possess priority of time. There must have been something, then, in the character of his resurrection which entitled it to that distinction For it did not, in any sense, precede others, if, as some claim, his body was simply reanimated. Others had preceded him in this. Both Elijah and Elisha had each restored a child. The Saviour had restored some to life-Lazarus, after he had been dead four days. And yet the apostles taught the priority of Christ's resurrection to all others, as a doctrine not only founded in prophecy, but as most consistent in the nature of the case. For as priority of time in the
resurrection would imply dignity and importance in character, Christ, excelling all in these respects, should “among all have the preeminence in the resurrection." Hence he is called the first fruits of those who slept, being not only the pattern and pledge of the resurrection of the just, but the most select, choice, and glorious of all. There must have been, then, an element in his resurrection which so distinguished it in character as to make it distinct and different from all that had preceded it, but so identical in character with the resurrection of the dead, which was to follow, as that it became first in order of time of the resurrection which is complete in its nature. It could be first, then, only as it was the pattern.
was the pattern. The first fruits of any grain were the pledge and sample of what was to follow. And as Christ's resurrection was the only pattern that had been given of what was to follow, it became, consistently, the first fruits. Hence it is to be noticed that the apostles, in giving Christ's resurrection this pre-eminence, set aside all the instances of reanimation which had preceded it, as destitute of the essential elements of the resurrection. But some contend that Christ was simply reanimated, and in his ascension translated, or his body changed, and that both are necessary to his being a pattern of our resurrection. Yet it is plain to be seen that his ascension, or translation, was no part of his resurrection; it took place forty days after it. It is never mentioned as associated with it in the sense of giving any distinct character to it. There is not the least intimation in the Scriptures that there was any essential change in his body in his ascension, or that any such change was at all associated with his resurrection as necessary to its being a complete pattern of his followers. The claim that his body was materially changed in his ascension is simply gratuitous. His resurrection is spoken of as an event complete in itself—isolated from all else—and as standing out glorious and distinct in its own nature. Besides, the simple and most natural idea conveyed in the Scriptures is that the saints who arose and came out of their graves after his resurrection did so before his ascension, which would destroy the priority of his resurrection before that of any others, if he was simply reanimated. The graves of these saints were opened when Christ expired upon the cross. They are said to have come out of their graves after Christ was raised. And the natural impression is that their resurrection was not delayed until after his ascension. As Christ held this preeminence in time and character, it seemed fitting that there should come in with him, as the glorious first fruits, some sample of his followers. But this was to be in perfect harmony with that divine order mentioned by the apostle: "Every man in his own order : Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (1 Cor. xv.) Here, then, is a reference to a military order; next in rank to Christ. As worth of character gives priority of time, the resurrection of Christ's children is next to follow. This is the natural order. If the union of soul and body be essential to our complete perfection and happiness, it would be no longer delayed than was necessary for the accomplishment of Christ's glorious purposes in the plan of salvation. It would be natural to suppose that he would first think of and provide for his own chosen ; that in coming to receive them he would not only hasten its consummation, but would call them out of their graves, separated from everything that defiles ; that he would not tarnish the glory of that event by the resurrection of those who have defiled themselves among men. So as the first fruits of his followers, and as establishing the order of the resurrection, we are told, “The graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew xxvii. 52.)
So, too, the circumstances of their appearance was similar to that of Christ. It was occasional. They did not live with their friends as those did who were simply reanimated. Their appearance, too, after his resurrection, was in perfect harmony with the divine order, “Afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.” In these examples, then, God has given us some insight into the nature of the resurrectionbody; and we also have herein some limitations to that equivocal and much disputed term “identity" in its application to natural and spiritual bodies. Taking Christ's resurrection as the basis of oursas not only establishing the fact, but also the manner-we infer the literal identity of the two bodies. For the same body that the disciples deposited in the tomb of Joseph arose. “I know," said the
" angel, “ that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified” (i. e., his body). “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” (Matthew xxviii, 5, 6.)
Again, our Saviour says: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John ii. 19); (i. e., the same temple destroyed). Many of the bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of their graves after his resurrection. The general sense in which the term identity could be used in these instances is certainly evident. And it is in striking contrast with that questionable sense which admits the possibility of identity where none of “the same particles of matter deposited in the ground, or that compose the body at death, enter into the composition of the resurrection-body.” The principal argument for such an idea of identity is based upon the recognized identity of the living human body at different periods of time,
although constantly undergoing material changes. So that, as some claim, there is an entire change in the material particles of our bodies once in seven years. We are referred to the oak, or elm, and the river Nile, as being the same that existed centuries ago, aithough containing not a particle of matter that then composed them. But, admitting all this, the argument seems to fail. It lacks a logical coherence. To see any pertinence in these illustrations, you have to leap mentally an unwarrantable chasm in logic. In all these instances the historical connection has been unbroken. In the case of organic bodies the connection is functional. Not a single particle of matter can be received as a part of ourselves until functionally inwrought into the living tissues. The body possesses this power of self-renewal. The change is constant-it may ultimately be entirebut it is gradual, vital, and functionally produced. It is not difficult to see upon what grounds identity has been preserved. So of the oak and elm. They have taken of the earth and water, and wrought into their living fibres such matter as may be consistently called their
This has been done through the constant and unbroken operation of vital laws of growth in the tree. The analogy, then, fails in these illustrations in some very essential points. The same is true of a river. The historic connection has been unbroken. We have the same incessant flow for ages—supplied from the same sources, fed by the same tributaries, running essentially in the same bed. But if in any of these instances another and an entirely different displaces the old, the identity is destroyed. Should the Merrimack and all its tributaries become dry, and remain so until their beds were overgrown with grass, and in process of time, by some physical change in New Hampshire, the Connecticut River change its course, and flow in the old bed of the Merrimack, it could be in no sense identical with the former river. So with the oak. So long as the changes are through the operation of inherent laws of growth, the chain of connection is unbroken and the identity preserved. But no one would claim identity of two oaks, if planted in the same place, removing one to make way for the other; and yet they occupy the same place, are fed from the same soil—they are similar in form, and are composed of the same kind of elements. It would be equally inconsistent to predicate identity of two human bodies that have no material, functional, or historic union.
During the metamorphic state of the chrysalis, laws and functions inherent in itself have been in constant operation to produce the change. The same unbroken connection exists between the seed sown and the grain produced. The essential substance of the one goes to