THE BODIES OF ALL WHO DIE, WILL BE RAISED FROM THE DEAD, AND RE-UNITED TO THEIR SPIRITS, FOR THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT DAY.
Philosophy and natural religion may attain to an obscure discovery of the soul’s immortality; but we should have remained ignorant concerning the resurrection of the body, if we had not been instructed by divine revelation. From God’s book we learn that the body is redeemed, as well as the soul; and that the body shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. That no doubt may remain on the subject, the body which is to be raised again, is described as the corruptible, the vile body, the body deposited in the grave: “This corruptible shall put on incorruption.” “Who shall change this vile body.” “All that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” Paul urges not to use the members of the body for sinful purposes, because the body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; and, with reference to the same body he says, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelt in you.” No doubt can remain that the Scriptures teach the resurrection of the mortal body, the body that dies, and enters the grave.
The resurrection of the body is not only taught in the Scriptures, but it is exemplified in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fact that he was raised from the dead, is testified by many witnesses, who saw him, and conversed, and ate and drank with him, after his resurrection; and who confirmed the truth of their testimony by astonishing miracles and sufferings. On this grand fact the truth of Christianity depends; and therefore the doctrine of the resurrection is fundamental and vital to the Christian system. If it is not true, Christ is not risen; and, if Christ is not risen, Paul admits “our preaching is vain, and your faith is vain, and we are found false witnesses of God.”
As theresurrection is a desirable privilege to the just, only, it is treated of, in some passages of Scripture, as if it appertained to them exclusively: but other passages teach that it will be universal: “There shall be a resurrection of the just and of the unjust.” “All that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and come forth, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.” The only exception to its universality will be in the case of those who still be found alive at Christ’s second coming. Concerning these, Paul has taught us that they will undergo a change equivalent to that which they pass through who shall have died and risen again. Their case, therefore, is virtually no exception to the general rule: “It is appointed unto all men once to die.” “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
The power by which the dead are raised, is God’s. To the Sadducees, who erred respecting the resurrection, the Saviour said, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” It is a work which nothing short of omnipotence could accomplish. The Son of God is represented as the immediate agent, “Who shall change our vile body, that it only be fashioned like unto his own glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Even when he was on earth, weak and despised, he claimed this power: “The hour is coming when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice [the voice of the Son of God], and shall come forth.” At his command, who said, “Lazarus, come forth,” the dead shall quit their graves, and assemble at his tribunal: and the power which he will manifest, in bringing them before him, will demonstrate his right to judge them.
The resurrection, though it will require the same power that created the world out of nothing, will not be another creation. The glorified body will not be created out of nothing, but will be formed out of the vile and mortal body which the spirit once inhabited: “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned,” &c. The same body of Jesus which was nailed to the cross and laid in the tomb, was raised from the dead, and was seen by the disciples ascending from Mount Olivet. It had been transfigured on Mount Tabor, and rendered glorious in the view of the disciples who were present; and now it is crowned with glory and honor, in the presence of all the celestial hosts. It is now the “glorious body,” into the likeness of which he will fashion our vile bodies, when he fits them to inhabit the mansions that he has prepared.
How the “vile body” will be changed, we know not. We are under no obligation to suppose that all the gross matter of which it consists, will be included in the glorious body into which it will be fashioned. The corruptible body is perpetually losing, in the daily waste which it undergoes, the atoms of matter which compose it, and having their place supplied by other atoms, received from the nourishment taken in to supply the waste. The nails are pared away, and the hair shorn off; and other growth succeeds, to take the place of that which is lost. The bones, muscles, and all other parts of the body, undergo a change as real, though not so apparent, and as unceasing. The fluid parts of the body change more rapidly; and the solid parts are absorbed and renewed by the deposit of other matter, in the processes of nutrition and assimilation. It is not necessary to suppose that all the matter thus lost, during a life of fourscore years, will be gathered again. The identity of the body during life did not imply an identity of the atoms composing it: and much less is an identity of atoms necessary to be preserved, when it is changed into the glorious. Paul’s teaching on this point is explicit: “Thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him.” What is deposited in the ground, is bare grain; but the body which God giveth consists of the blade, the ear, and the full corn in the ear. The body deposited, dies; that is, it is decomposed, and ceases to be the bare grain deposited. Part of its matter is lost, and part enters into the composition of the new plant, and God adds other matter, constructing such a body as pleases him. Such is the illustration which this inspired writer gives of the process by which the dead will be raised; and we are certainly freed by it from the obligation of regarding a philosophical identity of atoms, as necessary to be preserved in the resurrection of the dead.
Yet, let us observe the relation which the glorious body has to the vile body. It is not another body, but the vile body changed. In Paul’s illustration, he says: “God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” So, every man who rises from the grave, will come forth with his own body. However changed, he will recognise himself, and will be recognised by others, as the same. When wheat, rye, barley, and other grains, are sown in the ground, a grain of each may be deposited in the same bed; and when they spring up together, though all have bodies differing from the bare grain that was sown, they differ also from each other. Every seed has “his own body;” and it may be determined with certainty which is the wheat, which the rye, which the barley, &c. The illustration is doubtless incomplete: but the wisdom of inspiration has given it, to assist our conceptions of this mysterious subject; and our faith, without presuming to be wise above that which is written, should thankfully receive the instruction graciously imparted.
What will be the form and the properties of the glorified body, it is impossible for us to know. Even the beloved disciple who lay on the bosom of Jesus did not claim to know this:- “Beloved, 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.” It ought to satisfy us that we shall be fashioned like the glorious body of Christ. But though this general information ought to be sufficient, the Scriptures, while they do not attempt to describe a glorified body, have given us some information respecting it.
It is incorruptible. Our bodies here undergo perpetual decay and perpetual renewal; and they finally suffer decomposition, and return to dust. The glorified body will suffer no decomposition, no waste, and, therefore, will not need renewal. The process of nutrition by food, and the organs of digestion, will not be needed. “Meats are for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them.” The glorified body will be adapted to all the purposes for which it will be used; but, as our mode of life will be entirely different, corresponding changes will be made in the members and organs, to adapt the body to the mode of life into which it enters.
It will be spiritual. Paul affirms this. He says, “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” What a spiritual body is, we are unable to say. We shall not be pure or uncompounded spirit, as God is; for we shall have a “body,” which God cannot be said to have. But that body will be “spiritual,” as distinguished from the natural or grossly material bodies that we now possess. It will be freed from the inactivity, the ponderableness that now binds us to the earth; and will be fitted for swift motion, similar to that of which angelic spirits are capable.
It is immortal. “Now this mortal must put on immortality.” As there will be no need to supply a daily waste in each individual body, or to preserve it from corruption, so there will be no need to supply a waste of the race by death. “They neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels.” In a state of being so different from the present, we shall need bodies of far different construction and properties; and, from the likeness which we are to bear to the angels, we may infer that our spiritual bodies will resemble, to some extent the spirituality of these holy and immortal beings. The true and perfect pattern to which we shall be conformed, is the glorious body of the Redeemer, who, though once dead, now liveth for ever, and who will give us to share his own immortality. “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
With what body the wicked will come, and to what likeness they will be conformed, the Scriptures do not tell us. As they will be raised, to stand in the judgment, and receive the sentence under which they will suffer everlasting punishment, in the fire prepared for the devil and his angels; we may conclude that, both in body and spirit, they will be fitted and capacitated for the everlasting endurance of the torments inflicted. We know that their bodies will not be “glorious,” for their resurrection will be “unto shame and everlasting contempt.” Conjecture, on points which revelation has not enlightened, must be unprofitable.
 John v. 28, 29; Dan. xii. 2; Job xix. 25-27; Ps. xvii. 15; Acts iv. 2; xxiv. 15; xxvi. 8; Rom. viii. 11; 1 Cor. xv. 12-54; 1 Thess. iv. 14-17; Rev. xx. 6, 12, 13.
 1 Cor. vi. 20
 John v. 28.
 1 Cor. xv. 53.
 Phil. iii. 21.
 John v. 28.
 1 Cor. vi. 19.
 Rom. viii. 11.
 1 Cor. xv. 14, 15.
 Acts xxiv. 15.
 John v. 28, 29.
 1 Cor. xv. 52.
 Heb. ix.27.
 1 Cor. xv. 22.
 Matt. xxii. 29.
 Phil. iii. 21.
 John v. 28.
 Phil. iii. 21.
 1 Cor. xv. 37, 38.
 1 Cor. xv. 38.
 1 John iii. 2.
 1 Cor. vi. 13.
 1 Cor. xv. 44.
 1 Cor. xv. 53.
 Luke xx. 35, 36.
 John xiv. 19.
 Dan. xii. 2.