Imagini ale paginilor

That such a change is necessary, that such a change is to be expected, is agreeable even to the established order of nature. Throughout the universe this rule holds, viz. that the body of every animal is suited to its state, Nay more; when an animal changes its state, it changes its body. When animals, which lived under water, afterwards live in air, their bodies are changed almost entirely, so as hardly to be known by any one mark of resemblance to their former figure; as, for example, from worms and caterpillars to flies and moths. These are common transformations; and the like happens, when an animal changes its element from the water to the earth, or an insect from living underground to flying abroad in the air. And these changes take place in consequence of that unalterable rule, that the body be fitted to the state; which rule obtains throughout every region of nature, with which we are acquainted. Now our present bodies are by no means fitted for heaven. So saith St. Paul expressly,

« Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; corruption doth not inherit incorruption." Between our


' bodies, as they are now constituted, and the state, into which we shall come then, there is a physical, necessary, and invincible incongruity. Therefore they must undergo a change, and that change will first be universal, at least as to those who shall be saved ; secondly, it will be sudden; thirdly, it will be very great. First, it will be universal. St. Paul's words in the 15th chapter of the Corinthians are, “ we shall all be changed.” I do however admit, that this whole chapter of St. Paul's relates only to those, who shall be saved; of no others did he intend to speak. This, I think, has been satisfactorily made out; but the argument is too long to enter upon at present. If so, the expression of the apostle, “ we shall all be changed,” proves only that we who are saved, who are admissible into his kingdom, shall be changed. Secondly, the change will be instantaneous. So St. Paul describes it; moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead shall be raised incorruptible;” and therefore their nature must have undergone the change.



[ocr errors]


Thirdly, it will be very great.

No change, which we experience or see, can bear any assignable proportion to it in degree or import

It is this corruptible putting on incorruption; it is this mortal putting on immortality. Now it has often been made a question, whether, after so great a change, the bodies, with which we shall be clothed, are to be deemed new bodies, or the same bodies under a new form. This is a question, which has often been agitated, but the truth is, it is of no moment or importance. We continue the same to all intents and purposes, so long as we are sensible and conscious, that we are so. In this life our bodies are continually changing. Much, no doubt, and greatly is the body of every human being changed from his birth to his maturity: yet, because we are nevertheless sensible of what we are, sensible to ourselves that we are the same, we are in reality the same. Alterations, in the size or form of our visible persons, make no change in that respect. Nor would they, if they were much greater, as in some animals they are; or even,

if they were total. Vast, therefore, as that change must be, or rather, as the difference must be between our present and our future bodies, as to their substance, their nature, or their form, it will not hinder us from remaining the same, any more than the alterations, which our bodies undergo in this life, hinder us from remaining the same.

We know within ourselves that we are the same: and that is sufficient; and this knowledge or consciousness we shall rise with from the grave, whatever be the bodies, with which we be clothed.

The two Apostles go one step further, when they tell us, that we shall be like Christ himself; and that this likeness will consist in a resemblance to his glorified body. Now of the glorified body of Christ all that we know is this. At the transfiguration upon the mount, the three Apostles saw the person of our Lord in a very different state from its ordinary state. “ He was transfigured before them, and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” St. Luke describes it thus. “ The fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering: and behold there talked with him two men, who appeared in glory.” Then he adds, “ that the Apostles, when they awaked, saw his glory.” Now I consider this transaction, as a specimen of the change of which a glorified body is susceptible. St. Stephen, at his martyrdom, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. St. Paul at his conversion, saw a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about him; and in this light Christ then was. These instances, like the former, only shew the changes and the appearances of which a glorified body is susceptible, not the form or condition, in which it must necessarily be found, or must always continue. You will observe, that it was necessary that the body of our Lord at his transfiguration, at his appearance after his resurrection, at his ascension into heaven, at his appearance to Stephen, should preserve a resemblance to his human person upon earth, because it was by that resemblance alone he could be known to his disciples, at least by any means of knowledge naturally belonging to them in that human state. But this was not always necessary



« ÎnapoiContinuă »