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HOW ARE THE DEAD RAISED UP ?
BY THE REV. R. W. DIBDIN, M.A.,
“How are the dead raised upp-1 Cor. xv. 35.
You must imagine some Sadducean scoffer to be meant by this "some man.” The Apostle says, "Some man will say, how are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come ?” The Sadducees, you know, denied angel and spirit, and the resurrection. Paul here supposes the case of a man who thinks himself wise, with a sneer on his lip- 1-one of a very large class, not in Paul's time only, but in every time and in every place. It is the language of self-conceited ignorance—“How are the dead raised up ?” Oh, that word, how. It is a favourite word with some people. “ How can it be?” they say ; "I don't see how it can be, therefore it cannot be !-a quiet assumption of omniscience, you perceive. I have read, and do read more Infidel books than, probably, any man here—more, I think, than most
Some of them are clever enough in their way. The Weekly Dispatch, the Reasoner, the books of the Mormonites, of the Swedenborgians, of the Broadchurch Infidels-or philosophers we may call them of the smooth Tractarians, the avowed Papist periodicals; I read them all. All of them have talent ; for the Devil, who has a mighty intellect, helps all his servants as much as he can. But what I observe in them all, as a general rule, is, that they agree to set aside the Word of God whenever it opposes their respective fancies on any given subject. They take different modes, indeed, of stating their opinions; and they have very different opinions amongst themselves; as you must suppose, when you recall the various classes that I have gathered together in one sentence. But still, they all agree in this--to make the Word of God of none effect. Professed Christians do so, by what they call explaining the Bible, in order that it may suit their views ; which is, in other words, explaining the Bible away, and putting something else in the place of it. Infidels, more honest than others, contradict the Bible, and say, “ The Bible says this, and it is not true.” That clever fool, Tom Paine, in his writings, calls the Apostle Paul a fool. He is speaking on the passage in the context, where, by the Holy Ghost, the Apostle Paul, in the 35th verse, says ;"Some man will say, how are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" The Apostle replies, or rather the Holy Ghost by the Apostle, “ Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body." That is the Apostle's answer. Paine, in replying to
“Thou fool, Paul, thou sayest, except the seed die it cannot rise again. You ought to know, that if it doth really die it will never rise again; for, if it perishes in the earth, it will never send up a green blade.” And upon this le triumplis not a little. No doubt many thousands of working men have talked and laughed over this passage in the beer-shop, and given the weight of their approval to Tom Paine's decision. They have said, Paul was a fool, and Paine was wise.
I have learned, my brethren, to doubt dogmatic people. I am old enough to
remember many things which, at the time, were incredible to many, but which afterwards came to be true. I remember when many sober, sensible people laughed at the thought of lighting a city with gas, and called it, in a humourous way, all a bottle of smoke; and yet, look around us. Here we are, by the help of that very same gas, looking at the Word of God, and enabled to look each other in the face. I remember, too, that the Infidel Voltaire sneers at a passage in the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, because that great man, in explaining a passage in one of the prophets, said, probably the day would come when men would be able to travel as much as one hundred miles in one hour. There is the Infidel's ridicule at such things, and there is the prediction of Newton, who was led thereto by the Word of God. Voltaire little dreamed of railways, or Newton either; and yet we see, that at the present day we can go between seventy and eighty miles an hour, and think it no wonderful proceeding. Thus, you see, time proves the presumption of ignorance, and time proves the solidity of wisdom. Where all are ignorant, it is easy for a confident, positive man to get up and say to those about him, “I know all about it-hear me!" for no one can contradict him. Nothing is easier than this assumption of infallibility, where any one chooses to assert a dogmatic opinion upon a matter where all are equally ignorant. It is so in many cases; and more especially with regard to religion. It was so here in the case supposed. Paul preached the resurrection of the body; and, says the Infidel Sadducee, with a shrewd smile upon his face, "Ah, with what body do they come? The dead rise again, after they have been committed to the grave, and their bodies crumbled to dust ? Rise again! what body do they come with ?” “For, look you,” says he to the ignorant masses, who are always willing enough to listen to those who mislead them, “Look you, when a man dies his body turns to the earth. That very earth may be converted into wheat, or vegetable matter of some kind; because, you know, the earth is the means whereby the seed is changed, and from which the ear and the full cord in the ear spring. Well, then, when that same corn or vegetable is eaten by a man, the material of which it is made becomes part of his body; that body will be buried in like manner, and go to dust again ; and that may be again turned into food; and so the process may be repeated from generation to generation ; so that the very same materials may form part of many bodies. How can each man have the same material in his body, seeing that many men may have the same material ?” This is what the Infidel says. And then comes a very humourous description of the absurdity of the universal resurrection-one man disputing with another man, saying, “This is my bone;" but, "No," says another," that bone is mine;" and then comes a third, a hundred years later in the history of the world, and says, “It is my bone.” “And so," says the scoffer and the Infidel, ;" you see that the resurrection of the body involves in it the very greatest and incredible absurdity.”.
“Vain man would be wise." It is thus that unthinking people are imposed upon. They are not a few who think this argument very profound. They say, “We never thought of this. There is no resurrection ! for with what body can they come ? The thing is unanswerable! We understand all about it! The Bible is wrong!" So the matter ends. I think it is a great pity, that they who can decide so easily upon the most mysterious and difficult subjects, have not corresponding talents in ordinary matters. I think it is a great pity that Infidels, who are so wondrously above the great mass of mankind who do believe the Bible with regard to religion and things connected therewith, are not equally superior to them in anything else. Either among gentlefolk or simple folk, either amongst the learned and the great, or amongst the lower classes of society and the unlearned, I never could find that Infidels-apart from their Infidelity-were at all wiser than other men; not I. In the lower ranks, for instance, for aught I see to the contrary, the man who believes his Bible is just as good a workman, quite as intelligent, and generally a much better husband, and servant, or clerk, or master, than the Infidel man is in the same position; so far as my observation has extended, and it is not small nor short. I do not profess myself to be very clever ; I have a great respect for scholars, and for learned men, and for men of mind, without professing to have any very great wisdom myself; I only lay claim to common sense; but I should be very sorry, indeed, if I had not as much sense as most Infidels that I have come across.
Now, for this question in the text, I confess at once, I should not know how to answer it, if the Bible did not guide me in the matter. Not that I see any difficulty in the objections that I have stated, and which the Infidel thinks to be such a triumphant refutation of the resurrection. For by that mode of argument I could prove many curious things, much to the confusion of the Infidel himself. Great absurdities can I prove by this same argument of the Infidel. He says, it is impossible that a man to be raised again that it is impossible the same body, a hundred years after, five hundred years after, a thousand years after, can be brought again from the grave. Now, look at what this will prove if you admit that. I could prove every man alive is not the same man that he was ten years ago. It is a known fact-every surgeon, every small man in a medical way, knows it as well as I do—that our bodies are in a perpetual change, or flux. Not one of us has a particle of what we had ten years ago; every particle has been changed ; so that, in point of fact, we have not the same bodies--if you come to look at the atoms of which the body is made up. Now, what a very sad affair, that would be—to say nothing of the resurrection—wbat sad results would come in this world if that theory were adopted. It is not the same body, for it has changed and become something else. It may have passed into air; it may have passed into liquid ; it may have passed into earth. It may have passed into food; and then what Was my body is now somebody else's body. Well, what will result? What would a poor old pensione say, if our beloved Queen were to take his pension away, because he has not the same body that he had when he fought at Trafalgar, or at Waterloo ? What would he say, if at the end of ten years, or twenty years, or forty years, his pension were taken away on that pretence ?" That is not the body that fought : it has gone long'ago; it is that which was pensioned, not the new body." I think most men would object to such an arrangement. It might be said, his soul is the same if his body is not the same. But then, pensions are not meant for the soul, they are meant for the body; that body which was carried into battle, that body which bled and was maimed, that body which carried the flag of his Queen triumphantly through smoke, and fire, and death. Yet, if this hypothesis were adopted, we should not have many men enabled to enjoy in their old age the pensions so wisely and beneficently awarded to them for their services.
Now, I am thankful to be set right-and I would thank any man to set me right- especially on so important a subject as the resurrection. Like the Infidel, I must have my reason satisfied. I cannot take a man's word, and succumb to him, merely because he says, he is right and I am wrong. When I bring before him what is satisfactory to me, and he chooses to set that aside, and say it is not satisfactory to him, I cannot help that. I content myself with what the Bible says on this matter; and, the more so, because I do not see that it is a matter on which unenlightened reason can give much information. Now, what says the Bible in answer to the text "How are the dead raised up ?” The Bible tells you, it is by the power of God. God raises the dead, the same that raised Christ from the dead, after He had suffered for the sins of man, and fulfilled the righteousness of the law for his Church. Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God, and every other man shall be raised in like manner. His risen body was to our resurrection, even as the sheaf-offering was to the general harvest. Now, I see no difficulty at all in believing that God who made a body can raise a body from the grave. Of course, God himself could not do a thing which is demonstrably absurd to suppose; as in the case of the same materials forming parts of one body and belonging at the same time to different bodies. If I read that in the Bible, I say plainly I would not believe it. If it laid before me that which my reason showed me could not be true, then, I should say at once, it is not from God. That is the reason I do not believe the doctrine of transubstantiation. The Papist takes up a bit of bread, or wafer, and says, " that is Christ”-that he is there, body and bones, flesh and blood. I do not believe it. I know what bread is when I see it. I know what a wafer is when I see it. I can taste it, see it, handle it; I can hear it crack when I break it in my hands. I know what a human body is too. I know its colour, size, and shape, and all about it, so far as this question is concerned. Therefore, I know very well, that what a Papist priest shows me is not a body. “Well,” says he, “the Bible teaches you so." I won't believe it, for it is a lic. The Bible does not say it. When I ask him to show it to me,
he says, “This is my body”-and Christ had a bit of bread in his hand! What, do you mean that Christ said such a silly thing as that? “Does he not say so? You ought to have faith in Christ.” Yes, faith in Christ, but I do not think Christ was so foolish as to say anything so nonsensical as that. Thus, I reject transubstantiation; and, I say again, that if the Bible taught that, or any other absurdity, I would not believe the Bible. “Oh,” say some, “this is a dangerous doctrine, indeed ; what is to become of the doctrine of the Trinity ? We do not understand that.” Neither do I understand that. Then, why do you believe it ?” Many things I do not understand I believe fully. A man takes up a foreign book, and opens it at a certain page, and reads :—“The drunkard shall be short lived."
“Does it say that ? Do you understand that language ?" He says he does. “I don't under stand it, but I believe it, because you are a travelled man, and you understand the language-I take your word for it.” So again, a man comes to me and says some deep thing in chemistry. “If,” says he, “I put together certain materials of the most different qualities, and unite them, they shall make a third, different from both.” Very extraordinary! I should have thought when he mixed the two together it would be something like a mixture of the two. “No; it becomes a third thing, different from both.” I believe you : you understand these matters, and I take your word for that. So when God Almighty, in his Word tells me that he is a Spirit, that he is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and yet that he is only one God, I begin to think, first, what do I know about spirits ? what is a spirit ? But for this book, I never knew, at all, that there was such a thing as a spirit. But what sort of a thing is a spirit ? I cannot tell. I have a spirit—what is it? I do not know. I cannot tell how it is made; I do not know in what part of the body it is; I do not know its nature and character. Who can reason upon such matters ? One knows nothing about it. That is my case with regard to the Trinity. So when a Popish priest says, "you will not be guided by reason where you bave the Trinity before you, but you will be guided by reason when you have transubstantiation.” Granted; but why? I have faculties which enable me to distinguish between a bit of bread and a man; and I have not faculties which will enable me to distinguish about spirits, and, least of all, such a spirit as the Father of Spirits. They are not parallel cases. Therefore, when I say I will not believe the Bible if it teaches nonsense, I mean exactly what I say. There is nothing pres'imptuous in it at all. There is nothing contrary to reason in the Word of God. There is much that is above reason, and with that I have no quarrel. It is to be expected that my Heavenly Father must know and say many things too wise and deep for me. I am a mere fool in comparison with him.
Well, then, the Bible does not say that the same materials which belong to one man, and afterwards belong, perhaps, to ten other men, shall, in the resurrection, belong respectively to them all
. It would say simple nonsense if it said that. But what does it say? It says this :-" There is a natural body and a spiritual body." Now, I want to know touching the bodies in which men live and die, which are buried, and rot, and go to dust, whether they are natural bodies, of whether they are spiritual bodies ? There is no difficulty here-they are all natural bodies. The bones, the flesh, the blood, are all natural. We understand that. When they rise again--"flesh and blood shall not enter the Kingdom of God”—when they rise again they are spiritual bodies. So you see the Bible does not, in the slightest degree, give you the idea that the body in the resurrection will be, in all identical particulars, the same as the body which is buried in the earth. Why, consider a moment. If it were so, every blind man must rise blind; every maimed man must rise maimed; and every man who hath any deformity, or defect in his earthly tabernacle must rise with that same. See the monstrous absurdity stated by men who profess to be wise ! The Bible does not say it is the same in these particulars. You see that Paul does not profess what the Infidels so triumphantly refute. They may refute the thing they set up if they please, but they do not refute the Bible, for the Bible has never said anything of the kind. The body of a risen man will be very different from what it is now. “ The dead will be raised incorruptible.” Bodies are not incorruptible now, I think. Every man who has a fester, or a wound, or a running sore, may know that, and every man that sees a body in a charnel house, rotting, and the worms feeding upon it, may know that. Not incorruptible, now; but it is to be raised incorruptible. We
who live on earth shall be changed; not have bodies like these. The whole of the Infidel's triumphant argument and objection proceeds upon a supposition, which the Bible never makes, that the body is identical in all particles with what a man hath when he is in a state of sin and death. Whether dead or living, saints will be raised incorruptible, and their bodies will be like that of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
If any body wishes to know what sort of bodies these will be, they will find some information in Luke ix. 27. Our blessed Jesus in saying to his disciples, “I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God—that term which was used for the future coming reign of our Lord and Saviour in his heavenly kingdom. “ And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to Pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening.” If you look in two other Gospels you will see a similar description, that his body became bright and changed, and different from what it was before he went up into the Mount, and after he came down. No doubt, it was the resurrection body which they saw in Christ. Moses and Elijah were there; and they, too, had similarly glorified bodies. That is the body the saints are to have-a spiritual body, incorruptible, and that shall not fade away. It is a very different thing from what the Infidel argument supposes. The Bible you see does not represent it as they refute it. See too, again, the same Apostle Paul, in writing to this same church in 2 Cor. v. 1–4 says, “ We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." means the new body, the glorified body, the same body such as they saw Christ have when he was on the Mount of Transfiguratoin “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven." The new body, the spiritual body. “If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.”—“We that are in these bodies of death groan and are burdened by them. Not that we would be unclothed,”—not that we want to die but clothed with inmortality. Not that we want to be unclothed; to have the soul stripped of the body. We do not want that. We do not love death. Death is always a season of humiliation and punishment; we do not want that. We want the body to be clothed with inmortality. We want the corruptible to be made incorruptible, or the mortal to be swallowed up of life. That is the promise or hope set before us in the Gospel, as you see the beloved John says, 1 John iii. 2. "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.” It is not yet manifest. You cannot see the difference between a saint and a sinner, as far as his body is considered. Contrarywise, the saint often suffers more in his body, and has more of weakness and infirmity than the sinner. Sinners are often healthy and strong; their eyes stand out with fatness; and they do what they list. Whereas saints are often worn and wearied, and broken down, and are very trembling specimens of mortality. So, it does not appear what we shall be. But this we know, that when Christ shall appear, “ we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Then will be that glorious change, which will be wrought upon the bodies of the chosen and believing people of God.
It may be objected by some, that all that has been said relates to the saints. We have been speaking of the body natural, as compared with the body spiritual. And that relates only to the saints. So does the text; “How are the dead raised np?” Paul was not speaking about all men. If you read it, you will see that it is all about the saints, from one end of the passage to the other. He says, “ It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption ; sown in weakness ; raised in glory.” Then, the Sadducean objector says, “ How are the dead raised up ?-with what body do they come ?” What a foolish thing to suppose that men rotting in the earth shall rise again! Paul answers this objection. He is not speaking about the resurrection of the wicked. The fact is, the Bible says much more about this blessed subject than it does of that awful subject, the resurrection of the wicked to eternal damnation. But, yet, there is quite enough said upon it to make it very clear. There is revelation there. For instance, in Mark ix. 49, is a very