THE SPIRITUAL BODY BY A THO Y W. THOROLD, D.D.
Lord Bishop of Rochester
How are the dead raised up; and with what body do they come ? 1 COr. xv. 35. CT. PAUL presents this question, as savouring either of levity or captiousness. While, of The nature course, it is possible to ask it in a reasonable %*j? rtsea and becoming spirit — the whole subject is intensely interesting to a thoughtful mind — we
ioo QUESTIO S OF FAITH A D DUTY must always remember the limitations of our knowledge. We will remember also how the Sadducees, whom the apostle doubtless had in his mind, strove, when tempting the Lord, to discredit the doctrine of the resurrection by the suggestion of extravagant contingencies, which, as he clearly showed, will never happen. To desire to understand all that God reveals, and to be content not to understand what it has not pleased Him to reveal, are but different phases of " the obedience of faith." " How are the dead raised up " is a question which apparently points to the mode or manner of the resurrection. The answer to be given, and it is the only answer, is, " by the mighty power of God." Each person of the blessed Trinity is said in Holy Scripture to have a share in it. Call it by whatever name you please, and describe it as miraculous or supernatural, it is, it must be, the direct interposition of the personal action of God. If God is what we usually conceive Him to be, Almighty, it is a childish and even fatuous absurdity to deny Him the power of raising the dead ; and this St. Paul had plainly
in his mind when he pleaded before Agrippa, " Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead ? " If He is not God, and so the attribute of omnipotence does not belong to Him, certainly there is no resurrection. The matter is ended ; the grave closes all ; the fool was right when he said,
CHRIST RISEb ioi " There is no God." A verse in the Romans compactly summarises the divine agency in the matter. Other passages corroborate the particulars of it. " If the spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His spirit that dwelleth in you." It was the Father that raised up Jesus. So said St. Peter : " The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted to His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour." St. Paul wrote to the Romans : " And declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." But the work of raising the dead in the general resurrection at the last day the Father has committed to the Son, as a function of the mediatorial office. " As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For as the Father hath life in Himself, even so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself. The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice." But as St. Paul makes clear from the passage already quoted, it is the Holy Spirit who will quicken our mortal bodies, when the end comes and the time is ripe. Beyond this we cannot tell, for we do not know. The method and the time of the resur-
102 QUESTIO S OF FAITH A D DUTY rcction are among the hidden things of God, and we will leave them there. On the second limb of the question, " With what body are they raised ? " the Apostle animadverts with an almost severe irony. He answers it by constructing a parable. The dead body is the seed. The grave is the earth in which it is deposited. The resurrection body is not a mere reproduction of the seed thus deposited, but is something quite different — as different as a full head of corn is from a single grain ; and with this additional distinction, that in earthly sowings many seeds prove unproductive and are wasted, here " to every seed its own body." The divine sovereignty is asserted and maintained. " God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him." It is to be raised in incorruption, in glory, in power, a spiritual body, to bear the image of the heavenly, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality. The Lord's It may be said that, after all, these are but risen bodv . . . typical of vague and somewhat shadowy expressions, sugours. gesting great ideas, but not clothing them with objective realities, enough for hope and a noble delight in the contemplation of things which "God hath prepared for them that love Him," but advisedly and mercifully obscure. We have, however, one distinct and typical instance of the resurrection life in all its completeness — that of our Lord during His forty days' sojourn before
CHRIST RISE 103 lie ascended into Heaven; and from the reverent consideration of the resurrection body in which He was pleased to clothe His glorified humanity after He had conquered death we may safely and accurately infer these four particulars. There will be a continuity between the earthly body and the glorified body so as to maintain and manifest the personal identity of the two. There will be still the wonderful and perhaps unsurpassable human form, though what will be its organic developments and its methods of sustaining life can hardly be said to be revealed. There will be an adaptation of the risen body to the uses and employments and activities for which in the will of God it will be designed. Our Lord had the power of appearing and disappearing, of coming and going, of concealing Himself and revealing Himself, which it is not perhaps necessary to suppose was a prerogative of His divinit}'. Angels, for example, as their appearances in Holy Scripture are from time to time described, seem to possess such a power. 'There will be also, as it is not unreasonable to conjecture, a close and inevitable, and even judicial, relation between the life of the body, whether physical, or moral, or intellectual, as lived on earth, and the tabernacle which it will be given to inherit all through the ages to come. A child's risen glory will hardly be as a man's. The thief on the cross will not shine as St. John will shine. Martyrs will have their pre-eminent
104 QUESTIO S OF FAITH A D DUTY splendour ; and those who have been saved as by fire will have their place, and their song, and their duty, but not in front. Let us in conclusion observe three things. There is no real inconsistency between what has been well called "identity and variety"; in our
being different in the life to come from what we are now, and yet being the very selves which lived and acted here. There is, for instance, an immense difference between the patriarch of eighty and the infant of an hour, so immense that he who had seen only the infant or only the patriarch would find, in this world at least, recognition impossible. Yet the patriarch is in a real sense the infant, only in its development and completion. So will it be in the resurrection glory of the life to come ; and surely a faculty of recognition will be among the many endowments of that wonderful and incomprehensible condition to enable us to vindicate the righteousness of God, and to observe the recompense of man. The seed-corn will be no less identical with the glorious ear that has sprung from it than the glorified saint with the imperfect though sincere believer. The apostle again distinctly emphasises the fact of degrees in glory from another side, reproducing and enforcing the doctrine in his First Epistle to the Corinthians — "Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour." There arc in the physical universe suns and stars ; and in the life to come there will be
CHRIST RISE 105 suns and stars. The sun's glory will be greater than the star's ; but the star will have a glory of its own, and need not be ashamed of it, and will not be capable of being mortified by its littleness. There will be no envy, no jealousy, no grudging, no discontent there. The sun's glory will not put out the star's glory ; and the star's glory will add to the splendour of the sun. One more lesson, and not quite a needless one. Let us learn from the apostle not only to look upon Heaven as a compensation for our life on earth, but as a development and continuation and result of it ; to regard our life here as the school-time, the training-ground, the awful
yet delightful threshold for the eternal ages of the life with God. Our self-cultivation, our love of all things beautiful and elevating and pure, our humanness of nature, our aspirations after better things, our noble dreams after human progress, our grand discontent with failure and oppression, our completeness and symmetry and equilibrium of existence in body, soul, and spirit, may or may not be appreciated now, may or may not be self-recompensing in the few years of our mortal life. But they are a portion of ourselves, they are seeds which have their germination and harvesting in front, they are shaping and forming and beautifying that glorified nature, in which some day we hope to join the just made perfect, and, better still, to inherit the vision of God : when " They shall see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads."
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=970