« ForrigeFortsett »
the resurrection of the dead. In the visible productions of nature they would meet a decided answer, and be immediately defeated in their primary design. But, where an objection can be started on the ground of incongruity between the
vegetation and the resurrection; it affords the most favourable opportunity for attacking the doctrine; and it is from this quarter that the most plausible objections, and the most specious arguments are advanced. If, therefore, the resemblance between the production of grain and the doctrine in question ;-between the doctrine of St. Paul, and the examples which he has chosen to illustrate it, can be established ; every objection which can be raised must be resolved into a declaration, that it surpasses our comprehension; while the fact itself, in the productions of nature, will afford us perpetual evidence of certainty, till seed time and harvest, till cold and heat, till day and night shall be no more.
It is, perhaps, from a persuasion of incongruity between vegetation and the resurrection, that it has been asserted, that.“ the time while the seed is deposited in the earth, can bear no proportion to the length of that period, during which the body is deposited in the grave. In point of duration, I grant that there is no proportion; but I cannot conceive that this circumstance will add any weight to the objection before us. Even different species of the vegetable tribes vary in the periods of their continuance in the earth before they vegetate; the example of no one species can determine the necessary duration of another, or fix those lines beyond which the powers of nature shall cease to operate: Much less then can we presume, from our knowledge of vegetation, where we thus behold one species so considerably differing from another, to fix the length of that period in which the body must be lodged in the grave, before it can be ripened for the harvest of mankind.
That certain portions of time elapse, during which both the grain and the human body are deposited in the earth, before either discovers any signs of returning life, is a truth which no one can deny; and the only point, which can create a difference in opinion, is, how far these portions of duration ought to fix the limits of each other?
If God be able to preserve the germinating quality of a grain of wheat, though but for one day, while the component parts of the grain itself are sinking into a state of dissolution, which no man can deny, he can in the same manner preserve it for two days; and if so, he can for the same reason, preserve it for two months, for two years, or for two centuries. And, the selfsame power operating upon the selfsame substance, can produce, whensoever it pleases, the same effect, through all the varied modes of possibility; without having any respect whatever to the limits of duration.
From hence then the analogy will hold good, in the application of this principle to the preservation of those parts, which shall constitute our future bodies. For, as God preserves the germinating power of the grain, when sown in the earth, through a given period; he can upon the same principle preserve the body through the same extent of time. And, as God can and actually does preserve the grain for several months, before it appears in the future harvest; we cannot doubt his power to preserve the human body in the grave, through the same extent of duration,
And if, when both seed and body.are deposited in the earth, God should be pleased to suspend the process of future life, in either; no one, who will admit his power to be infinite, can doubt his ability to accomplish that design; nor question his ability at the same time, to preserve the germinating qualities of both, while the component parts of each are scattered abroad and permitted to wander in a state of dissolution. And, if God can suspend the process of vegetation for one month, while he preserves the germinating quality perfect and entire; he can preserve it for one year, for five hundred, or for any given period which lies within the reach of numbers.
So far as these observations apply to grain, weare, perhaps, ready to give them our assent; buteven here we admit the probability of the case, from the partial certainty which we have presented to us in fact; but beyond this scepticism of the human mind, the fact itself will hardly permit us to pass. It is nevertheless certain, when we view these probabilities in their abstract nature; that they are not exclusively confined to the vegetative powers of grain. Omnipotence can exert itself in every direction; and, since the human body includes not within its
nature properties more opposed to future life, than that grain which is annually re-produced; the length of time, during which the body is deposited in the earth, can form no argument to destroy the analogy between the resurrection and vegetation.
As, therefore, God can preserve the grain through any given period; he can without all doubt preserve the body through the same extent of duration. And the same power which can preserve all that is essential to either for two months ; can, by extending the same exertion, preserve both through any given portion of duration. And this power, consequently, can preserve, during our repose in the grave, all that is necessary to constitute our future bodies, without involving any thing of greater difficulty, than is included in the preservation of that grain which is deposited in the earth for the ensuing harvest.
With God one day must be as a thousand years, and a thousaud ycars as one day. The fleeting periods of perishing duration can, therefore, have no relation to him Our local and finite notions must be applied to local and finite objects; while whatever is infinite must be removed at an infinite distance from these views.
If successive existence were to apply to God, he must have been older yesterday than he was the day preceding; and must have been younger on both than he is to-day, or than he will be to-morrow. There can be no way to avoid these conclusions; and yet if we once admit them, they will immedi
ately lead us to deny the eternity of his existence. But, as such conclusions cannot be admitted, it follows, that successive existence cannot apply to him; and, consequently, one day must be with him as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
And, to that Being, with whom one day and a thousand
years are alike, the influence of time can never reach. And consequently, whether it be a grain of wheat or a human body deposited in the earth ; and whether it be for two days, or two thousand years, the nature of the case cannot be thereby affected. Every objection, therefore, which may be made against the incongruity of the cases, or the disproportion of time; whether it applies to the germinating parts of a grain, or to that immoveable portion of matter which constitutes the identity of the human body, must vanish into empty air. It
may, perhaps, in the next place be asserted, “ that where the grain is deposited in the earth, it instantly begins to vegetate, which is a circumstance that will not apply to the human body;" and from hence it may be objected, that“ between vegetation and the resurrection all analogy is destroyed.” That the above observation will apply to the grain, when deposited in the earth, I believe no one will presume to doubt; but that this is a case which will not apply to the human body, is a point which I conceive it will be difficult to prove.
Of the grand process of nature we know but a little part ; and in a variety of cases, her movements are so slow that her active energies are almost imperceptible. How slow must the great progress of