Images de page

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.

[ocr errors]

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 Apostle 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 show 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 nor continues to be necessary. Nor is there any sufficient reason to suppose, that this resemblance to our present bodies will be retained in our future bodies, or be at all wanted. Upon the whole, the conclusions, which we seem authorized to draw from these intimations of scripture, are;

First, that we shall have bodies.

Secondly, that they will be so far different from our present bodies, as to be suited, by that difference, to the state and life, into which they are to enter, agreeably to that rule, which prevails throughout universal nature; that the body of every being is suited to its state, and that, when it changes its state, it changes its body.

Thirdly, that it is a question by which we need not at all be disturbed, whether the bodies, with which we shall arise, be new bodies, or the same bodies under a new form; for,


Fourthly, no alteration will hinder us from remaining the same, provided we are sensible and conscious that we are so, any more than the changes, which our visible person undergoes even in this life, and which from infancy to manhood are undoubtedly very great, hinder us from being the same, to ourselves and in ourselves, and to all intents and purposes whatsoever.

Lastly, that though, from the imperfection of our faculties, we neither are, nor, without a consant miracle upon our minds, could be made, able to conceive or comprehend the nature of our future bodies; yet we are assured, that the change will be infinitely beneficial; that our new bodies will be infinitely superior to those, which we carry about with us in our present state; in a word, that, whereas our bodies are now comparatively vile, (and are so denominated,) they will so far rise in glory, as to be made like unto his glorious body; that, whereas, through our pilgrimage here, we have borne, that which we inherited, the image of the earthy, of our parent the first Adam, created for a life upon this earth; we shall, in our future state, bear another image, a new resemblance, that of the heavenly inhabitant, the second man, the second nature, even that of the Lord from heaven.



[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

WHEN the text tells us " that every man, that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself," it must be understood as intending to describe the natural, proper, and genuine effects of this hope, rather perhaps than the actual effects, or at least as effects, which, in point of experience, universally follow from it. As hath already been observed, the whole text relates to sincere christians and to these alone; the word we, in the preceding part of it, comprises sincere christians and no others. Therefore the word every man must be limited to the same sort of men, of whom he was speaking before. It is not probable, that in the same sentence he would change the persons and characters concerning whom he discoursed; so that if it had been objec

ted to St. John, that, in point of fact, every man did not purify himself who had this hope in him, he would have replied, I believe, that these were not the kind of persons he had in his view; that, throughout the whole of the text, he had in contemplation the religious condition and character of sincere christians and no other. When, in the former part of the text, he talked of we being the sons of God, of we being like Christ, he undoubtedly meant sincere christians alone: and it would be strange if he meant any other in this latter part of the text, which is in fact a continuation of the same discourse, of the same subject, nay, a portion of the same sentence.

I have said thus much in order to obviate the contrariety, which there seems to be between St. John's assertion and experience. Experience, I acknowledge, proves the inefficacy in numerous cases of religious hope and religious motives: and it must be so: for if religious motives operated certainly and necessarily : if they produced their effect by an infallible power over the mind, we should only be machines necessarily actuated; and that certainly is not the thing, which a moral agent, a religious agent, was intended to be. It was intended that we should have the power of doing right, and, consequently, of doing wrong: for he, who cannot do wrong, cannot do right by choice; he is a mere tool and instrument, or rather a machine, whichever he does. Therefore all moral motives, and all religious motives, unless they went to deprive man of his liberty entirely, which they most certainly were

« PrécédentContinuer »