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Man’s Nature and Destiny

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    IDENTITY IN THE RESURRECTION

    But it is objected that, from our standpoint of the unconsciousness of the dead, a resurrection is impossible; for if a person ever ceases to exist as a conscious being, the re-organization of the matter of which he was composed would be a new creation, but not a resurrection. It is sufficient to say in reply, that continued consciousness is not necessary to preserve identity of being. This is proved by nearly every member of the human family every day. Did the reader ever enjoy a period of sound, unconscious sleep? If so, when he awoke, how did he know that he was the same individual he was before? How does any one know, after a good night’s sleep, that he is the same person that retired to rest the night before? - Simply because his organization is the same on awaking that it was when he became unconscious in sleep. Now suppose that during this period of unconsciousness, while the soul itself, if there is in man such a distinct entity as is claimed, is also unconscious, the body of a person could be cut up into innumerable fragments, the bones ground to powder, the flesh dissolved in acids, and the entire being, soul and all, destroyed. After remaining in this condition a little time, suppose all those particles could be put back again substantially as they were before, the general arrangement of the matter, especially of the brain, the organ of the mind, being identically what it was; and then suppose that life could be imparted to it again, and the person be allowed to sleep on till morning; when he woke, would he be conscious of any break in the line of his existence? Any one must see that he would not. Being organized just as before, his mind would resume its consciousness just as if nothing had happened.MND 212.4

    So with the dissolution of death. After its period of unconsciousness is passed over, in the resurrection the matter necessary to the new body is re-organized and re-arranged essentially as it existed in the person at the moment of death, and it is then re-animated; then the line of life is taken up, and the current of thought resumed just where it was laid down in death, it matters not how many thousands of years before. This, the power of God can do; and deny this is to “err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”MND 213.1

    In this way we can have a true and proper resurrection, a living again of the whole person, as the Bible affirms. On the supposition of continued consciousness, this is impossible; for in this case the real man lives right on, the body, which the Bible makes of so much importance, being only the garment with which it was temporarily clothed; and in this case the resuscitation of the body would not and could not be the resurrection of the man. The popular view makes the Bible as inconsistent on the subject of man as it would be for a historian to give the history of some celebrated man’s coat, and call it the history of the man himself.MND 214.1

    It is further urged, by way of objection against this view of the resurrection, that if persons come up in the resurrection as they went down in death, we should have a motley group, bloated with dropsy, emaciated with consumption, scabbed, scarred, ulcered, maimed, and deformed; which would be both unreasonable and disgusting. And this, it is claimed, is a necessary consequence from the view that the same is raised that went into the grave, and so far re-organized according to its previous arrangement as to constitute identity of being. But when we speak of the re-arrangement of the particles of the body, is it not evident to all that there are fortuitous and abnormal conditions which are not to be taken at all into the account? and that the essential and elemental parts are only to be understood? Who would imagine that the body might not differ in the resurrection from what it was before, as much, at least, as it differs at one period in its earthly history from its condition at another, and yet its identity be preserved? But we are sometimes in health, sometimes in sickness; sometimes in flesh, and sometimes wasted away; sometimes with diseased members, and sometimes entirely free from disease,- and in all these changes we are conscious that we have the same body. Why? - Because its essential elements remain, and its organization is continued. Whatever change can take place in our bodies during our earth life, and our identity be continued, changed to the same degree may the body be when raised from the dead, and yet it be the same body. But a missing member might be instantly replaced, a diseased limb healed, the consumptive restored to the bloom of health, or the body, swollen with dropsy, reduced to its natural size, and the individual still be conscious that he was the same person.MND 214.2

    It is said still further, by way of objection, that the matter of one body, after being decomposed by death, is absorbed and taken into other bodies, and becomes constituent parts of them; so that at the resurrection the same matter may have belonged to several different bodies, and cannot be restored to them all; therefore the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is unphilosophical.MND 215.1

    If the reader will take the trouble to submit this objection to a little intelligent scrutiny, he will find it to grow rapidly and beautifully less, until finally it vanishes entirely away. Let us take the extremist case supposable: that of the cannibal who might possibly (though this would not naturally be the case), make an entire meal of human flesh. We cannot admit the statement of a certain minister who, in his zeal to make this objection appear very strong, claimed that a cannibal might have the whole body of his victim within his own at the same time. For this supposes that he would eat a whole man at one meal, and, further, that he would consume the viscera, skull, bones, brains, and all. But it is hardly supposable that, cannibals though they are, they have such an enormous capacity, or are such unpardonable eaters.MND 215.2

    Nevertheless, let us suppose that a cannibal would, in process of time, consume an entire victim; what proportion could he use in this way? - Not one-half by weight. And what proportion of this would be taken up by the body, and become incorporated with it? - But a small fraction. And to what parts would this naturally go? - To those grosser and unessential parts which most rapidly change, and demand the most constant supply. But while a few pounds of matter are supplied to the body, if that body maintains a uniform condition, an equal amount of matter has been thrown off through what is called “insensible perspiration” and otherwise. Thus it will be seen that at no one time is it possible for any material amount of one body to be a part of another. But if there was danger, in these rare cases, that an essential element of one body would become a constituent part of another, and so remain, could not the providence of God easily interpose to prevent this, by giving these particles another direction? - Most assuredly it could. And this matter is not beneath His care who numbers all the hairs of our heads, and without whose notice not even a sparrow falls to the ground. This objection not only betrays an utter lack of faith in God’s power and care in such matters, but, philosophically considered, it amounts simply to a cavil.MND 216.1

    It is the resurrection of the body of which the Bible treats. It knows no other. In 1 Corinthians 15:35, 36, Paul asserts an obvious fact, that nothing can be quickened (revived or resuscitated, as from death, or an inanimate state.-Webster,) except it first die. To talk of a quickening or making alive of that which does not die, or of a resurrection from the dead of that which does not go down into death, is richly deserving of the epithet which Paul there applies to it.MND 216.2

    And what is it that shall be quickened in the resurrection? The holy and infallible word of God replies, This mortal body. Romans 8:11: But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Again in verse 23, Paul says: “Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” And in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is as explicit as he well can be on this subject. Verse 44: “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” What does he mean by the natural body, and by its being sown? - He means the burial of our present bodies in the grave. So he says, in verses 42, 43: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” What is sown? - The natural body. Then what is raised? - The very same thing. IT is sown; IT is raised, - raised in incorruption, in glory, in power, a spiritual body. Raised in this manner, the natural body becomes a spiritual body. Why/ - Because the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ quickens, re-resuscitates, or makes it alive again, as Paul wrote to the Romans. Should it be said that there is a natural body and a spiritual body in existence at the same time, we answer that, according to Paul, that is not so. He says (verse 46): “Howbeit, that “was not first which is spiritual, but that which “is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” In verse 49 he says we have borne the image of the earthy, and we shall bear (future) the image of the heavenly; and this will be when this mortal and corruptible, which is this mortal body, puts on incorruption (verses 52, 53), or is clothed upon with the house from heaven. 2 Corinthians 5.MND 217.1

    To the Philippians, Paul testifies again on this point: “For our conversation is in heaven, from “whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord “Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that “it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” This language is explicit. A change is to be wrought in the vile, mortal, or corruptible, body of this present state, not a spiritual body released from it, which never sees death and needs no change; and the change that is promised is, that this body, taken as it now is, is to be fashioned, changed over, into the likeness of Christ’s glorious, immortal body.MND 218.1

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