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“ another. There is one glory of the sun, and another “ glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars : “ for one star differeth from another star in glory. So “ also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in “ corruption, it is raised in incorruption : it is sown “ in dishonour, it is raised in glory: it is sown in 6 weakness, it is raised in power : it is sown an ani66 mal body (ooua fuxixov), it is raised a spiritual “ body.” (6)—It is sown an animal body; a body which previously existed with all the organs, faculties, and propensities, requisite to procure, receive, and appropriate nutriment, as well as to perpetuate the species: but it shall be raised a spiritual body, refined from the dregs of matter, utterly impermeable by every thing which communicates “pain,” (c) freed from the organs and senses required only in its former state, and probably possessing the remaining senses in greater perfection, together with new and more exquisite faculties, fitted for the exalted state of existence and enjoyment to which it is now rising. In the present state the organs and senses appointed to transmit the impressions of objects to the mind have a manifest relation to the respective objects: the eye and seeing, for example, to light; the ear and hearing, to sound. In the refined and glorious state of existence to which good men are tending, where the objects which solicit attention will be infinitely more numerous, interesting,
(6) 1 Cor. xv. 39–44.
(C) “ Neither shall there be any more pain." Rev. xxi. 4. The Greek word, novos, here translated pain, comprehends toil, fatigue, and excessive labour of body, as well as vexation and anguish of spirit.
and delightful, may not the new organs, faculties, and senses, be proportionably refined, acute, susceptible or penetrating? Human industry and invention have placed us, in a manner, in new worlds ; what, then, may not a spiritual body, with sharpened faculties, and the grandest possible objects of contemplation, effect in the celestial regions to which Christians are invited? What delight would Archimedes have experienced, could he by the aid of a microscope have seen the fluids moving through the vessels of some of our minutest insects ;-or viewed with a telescope the belts of Jupiter, or the ring of Saturn? And how would that sink into insipidity when compared with the rapture, with which a being, possessing a spiritual body, having its former senses perfected, and new ones communicated, shall explore all the glories and wonders which will be exhibited to it when it shall be admitted into heaven, and enabled to see God ?
Here, clogged with animal bodies, and borne down to the earth by gravity as well as our propensities, we are soon tired of bodily exertion, our mental attention flags, and our affections, « cleaving to the dust,” may impede the operation of both body and mind: but there,—where the body will be liberated from the influence of gravitation (the causes of gravity being removed), motion may be free and without fatigue, the body may obey with astonishing facility the volitions of the soul, and transmit itself from place to place with the utmost celerity,—there the senses will no longer degrade the affections, the imagination no longer corrupt the heart,--the magnificent scenery thrown open to view will animate the attention, give a glow and vigour to the sentiments; that roused attention will never tire, those glowing sentiments will never cloy: but the man now constituted of an indestructible body as well as of an immortal soul, may visit in eternal succession “ the streets of the celestial 56 city,” may “drink of the pure river of water of life, «clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of 6 God, and of the Lamb;" and dwell for ever in those abodes of harmony and peace, which, though s6 eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered “ into the imagination of man to conceive,” we are assured “ God hath prepared for them that love 56 Him!” (d)
But I leave you to pursue and improve this train of delectible reflection; and am
Truly yours. (d) 1 Cor. ii. 9.
On Eternal Existence after Death.
It is one of the grand peculiarities, and (as I doubt not you will find it, on consideration) one of the great excellencies of the New Testament, that it exhibits both promises and threatenings of eternal existence after natural death. These are presented to the contemplation of mankind under the character of reward and punishment, which are correlatives : the existence of one implies the existence of the other: the belief of the latter is as necessary as the belief of the former: for, without it, the belief of a future state will have little if any influence on the bulk of mankind.
This is not a narrow notion confined to the minds of theologians of a rigid stamp: it is the sentiment of several acute philosophers, and wise politicians ; of some indeed who have neither been condemned nor contemned for an undue attachment to what are fashionably termed religious dogmas. Montesquieu, for instance, affirms, “ that the idea of a place of “ future rewards necessarily imports that of a place or “ state of future punishments; and that when the “ people hope for the one without fearing the other, is civil laws have no force.” (e) Lord Bolingbroke also observes, that “ the doctrine of rewards and 66 punishments in a future state has so great a tendency
(e) Spirit of Laws, vol. ii. book 24 ch. 14.
“ to enforce the civil laws, and to restrain the vices “ of men, that reason, which (as he pretends) cannot “ decide for it on principles of natural theology, will “ not decide against it on principles of good policy.”() And even Mr. Hume, when speaking of the notions that “ the Deity will inflict punishments on vice, s and confer infinite rewards on virtue,” says, “ those 66 who attempt to disabuse persons of such prejudices, 6 may, for aught he knows, be good reasoners; but “ that he cannot allow them to be good citizens and “ politicians, since they free men from one restraint “ upon their passions, and make the infringement of “ the laws of equity and society in one respect, more “ easy and secure.” (8)
The ancient philosophers had some feeble glimmerings of a future state; but, as you have long ago learned, (h) they were sadly clouded by error and absurdity; and the awful idea of accountability was in great measure, if not entirely, excluded. This is not to be wondered at, considering how defective and erroneous their notions of the Supreme Being were. The belief of a God, and that of a future state, are indissoluble: no consistent Theist can believe that human existence ceases at death ; nor, on the other hand, can any one who believes in a future world be an Atheist. Our ideas of these subjects, however, must have been very vague independent of Revelation : but “ God hath brought life and immortality to light,
(f) Bolingbroke's Works, 4to edit. vol. v. p. 322.