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Christ here, is that referred to 1 Cor. 15, and 1 Thess. 4: 13, 18. I shall only add on this passage, that though it is said, our "vile bodies" are to be changed,that they may be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, it is never said our vile souls are to be changed and fashioned like unto any thing at this period. No; the immortal soul which is of so much account now, and reckoned the vilest thing about man, is never mentioned when speaking of the resurrection. The reader must perceive that this corroborates the views advanced in the First Essay. In this passage, the change in the vile body is to take place as at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven. But does he come from heaven at every man's death?
1 Cor. 15. This whole chapter we have considered at some length in vol. 8, of the Universalist Magazine. We shall here confine ourselves to that part of the chapter, which describes the nature of the resurrection state. Paul defended and illustrated the doctrine of the resurrection, against some in the church at Corinth who denied it. At verse 35, he introduces an objector to the resurrection, saying, "But some man will say-how are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come ?” These objections, he answers in the subsequent part of the chapter.
1st. "How are the dead raised up ?" Or, how is it possible for the dead to be raised up? The apostle, from verse 36-42, answers this objection. He first appeals to the fact, that the power of God is manifested, in producing a crop from seed, which dies in the ground before it springs up; see v. 36-38: 2d, to his power, manifested in the diversity of animals, verse 39. And third, to the display of God's power, in the variety and glory of both terrestrial and celestial bodies, verses 40, 41. The man was a fool, who
saw and admitted these as effects of his power, yet questioned the possibility of the resurrection of the dead.
2d. "And with what body do they come ?" Or, with what kind of bodies will, they be raised? The apostle, still recurring to the figure of seed sown in the earth, which he introduced at verse 36, answers this question from verse 42-50, thus: "so also is the resurrection of the dead; it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor, it is 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterwards that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." Such is the body with which they are to come, and is summed up in this, they shall "bear the image of the heavenly Adam, the Lord from heaven: our vile bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body," as seen from Phil. 3: 21, above.
At verse 50, he says, "now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." As flesh and blood, or living men, cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor corruption or dead men, inherit incorruption, he proceeds at verse 51, to show how both are to be fitted for this. "Behold I show you a mystery."
Well, what is it? "We shall not
all sleep, or die, but we shall all be changed." Let us inquire 1st, on whom this change is to take place? Paul says expressly," we shall all be changed." That this included both living and dead, is evident, for this is added immediately after saying "we shall not all sleep," or die. He adds, verse 52, "the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed." This shows, the apostle was not speaking merely of believers, but of all dead or alive, when the resurrection shall take place. This will be more evident by considering
2d. The nature of this change. Respecting those who are dead, Paul says, verse 52, "The dead shall be raised incorruptible." This agrees to what he said, verses 42-44, in answer to the question"with what body do they come." There he said, "it is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption," &c. Respecting those who shall not sleep or die, he said, verse 51, "we shall not all sleep," but added, "we shall all be changed." The apostle makes the same distinction between those dead, and those found alive, when the resurrection takes place, in 1 Thess. 4: 15.
Having made this distinction between the dead and living, he proceeds to speak of both, distinguishing the dead by the term corruptible, and the living by the term mortal, in verses 53, 54. "For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory." Supposing all the dead to be raised in incorruption, death then would not be swallowed up in victory, for still all the living would remain subject to death. In no other possible way, can death be swallowed up in victory, but by mortals
putting on immortality, and the dead being raised in incorruption. When this is done, none remain dead, or subject to death, for says our Lord, "neither can they die any more," Luke 20: 36. Mortality is then "swallowed up of life," 2 Cor. 5: 4. Complete victory is obtained over death, and hence it is triumphantly asked, "O! death where is thy sting; O! grave where is thy victory?" In view of such a glorious event, well may our hearts respond-" thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," verses 55-57. comp. Isai. 25: 8. Hosea 13: 14. How can death be swallowed up in victory, if eternal death is to reign over many of the human race, as many good people believe?
3d. When shall this change take place? Paul says, "we shall all be changed, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." But when shall this be? He says, verse 23, it is at Christ's coming. And adds more fully, 1 Thess. 4: 16, "for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel, and with the trump of God." This period is called the last day, John 6, probably, because then the end comes, and Christ delivers up the kingdom to God the Father, that he may be all and in all, verses 24-28.
4th. Is this change to be sudden or gradual? Answer. It is to be instantaneous. "We shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." Mortals, or living men, shall look round this moment and see each other mortal, and the graves silent in corruption. The next moment, or in the twinkling of an eye, all mortals shall have put on immortality, and corruption shall have put on incorruption. The change in both, is to be effected in the same instant of time. It is a great mistake of many persons who call death their great and last change, for it is neither
the greatest nor the last. The change of which this passage speaks is their last, and as to it greatness, we are incapable fully to comprehend it in our present state of existence. Our vile bodies are to be changed and fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body. When the glory of it was seen in vision on the mount by the disciples, it bewildered their senses, for they did not know what they said. When seen on the road to Damascus by Saul, the glory of it was "above the brightness of the sun." It prostrated Saul and those with him to the earth, and Saul was blind until his sight was restored to him by Annanias. For such a sight, or for such a state as the resurrection, we mortals are not fitted in this world, and hence "we shall be changed" to make us meet for it.
We shall conclude our remarks, by noticing some things in this chapter, which show Paul had no faith in the immortality of the soul and its existence in a disembodied state. In verses 17, 18, he declares that "they also who are fallen asleep in Christ are perished," if Christ be not risen from the dead. His argument proceeds on this ground, that if there be no resurrection, there is a final end to man at death. Man's resurrection entirely depends on this-is Christ risen from the dead? Further,
The apostle says, verse 29, "else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" Now I ask, why put such questions, if he believed the soul was immortal, and would enjoy endless happiness in a disembodied state? With such a hope, persons acted wisely in being baptized for the dead, allowing their bodies should never be raised. But they acted very foolishly in being baptized, allowing there was no resurrection, and the apostle's questions are pertinent on this view of the passage. But again; the apostle says, verse 30,