Theological Institutes

Part Second - Doctrines of the Holy Scriptures

By Richard Watson

Chapter 29


HAVING endeavoured to establish the doctrine of the universal re­demption of the human race, the enumeration of the leading blessings which flow from it may now be resumed. We have already spoken of justification, adoption, regeneration, and the witness of the Holy Spirit, and we proceed to another as distinctly marked, and as graciously promised in the Holy Scriptures: this is the ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION, or the perfected HOLINESS of believers; and as this doctrine, in some of its respects, has been the subject of controversy, the Scriptural evidence of it must be appealed to and examined. Happily for us, a sub­ject of so great importance is not involved in obscurity.

That a distinction exists between a regenerate state and a state of entire and perfect holiness will be generally allowed. Regeneration, we have seen, is concomitant with justification; but the apostles, in addressing the body of believers in the Churches to whom they wrote their epistles, set before them, both in the prayers they offer in their behalf, and in the exhortations they administer, a still higher degree of deliverance from sin, as well as a higher growth in Christian virtues. Two passages only need be quoted to prove this :-l Thess. v, 23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. vii, 1, "Having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." In both these passages deliverance from sin is the subject spoken of; and the prayer in one instance, and the exhortation in the other, goes to the extent of the entire sanctification of "the soul" and "spirit," as well as of the "flesh" or "body," from all sin; by which can only be meant our complete de­liverance from all spiritual pollution, all inward depravation of the heart, as well as that which, expressing itself outwardly by the indulgence of the senses, is called "filthiness of the flesh."

The attainableness of such a state is not so much a matter of debate among Christians as the time when we are authorized to expect it. For as it is an axiom of Christian doctrine, that "without holiness no man can see the Lord;" and is equally clear that if we would "be found of him in peace," we must be found "without spot and blameless ;" and that the Church will be presented by Christ to the Father without "fault;" so it must be concluded, unless, on the one hand, we greatly pervert the sense of these passages, or, on the other, admit the doctrine of purgatory or some intermediate purifying institution, that the entire sanctification of the soul, and its complete renewal in holiness, must take place in this world.

While this is generally acknowledged, however, among spiritual Christians, it has been warmly contended by many, that the final stroke which destroys our natural corruption, is only given at death; and that the soul, when separated from the body, and not before, is capable of that immaculate purity which these passages, doubtless, exhibit to our hope.

If this view can be refuted, then it must follow, unless a purgatory of some description be allowed after death, that the entire sanctification of believers, at any time previous to their dissolution, and in the full sense of these evangelic promises, is attainable.

To the opinion in question, then, there appear to be the following fatal objections :-

1. That we nowhere find the promises of entire sanctification restricted to the article of death, either expressly, or in fair inference from any passage of Holy Scripture.

2. That we nowhere find the circumstance of the soul's union with the body represented as a necessary obstacle to its entire sanctification.

The principal passage which has been urged in proof of this from the New Testament, is that part of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, in which St. Paul, speaking in the first person of the bondage of the flesh, has been supposed to describe his state, as a believer in Christ. But whether he speaks of himself, or describes the state of others in a supposed case, given for the sake of more vivid representa­tion in the first person, which is much more probable, he is clearly speaking of a person who had once sought justification by the works of the law, but who was then convinced, by the force of a spiritual apprehension of the extent of the requirements of that law, and by constant failures in his attempts to keep it perfectly, that he was in bondage to his corrupt nature, and could only be delivered from this thraldom by the interposition of another. For, not to urge that his strong expres­sions of being "carnal," "sold under sin," and doing always "the things which he would not," are utterly inconsistent with that moral state of believers in Christ which he describes in the next chapter and, especially, that he there declares that such as are in Christ Jesus "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;" the seventh chapter itself contains decisive evidence against the inference which the advo­cates of the necessary continuance of sin till death have drawn from it. The apostle declares the person whose case he describes, to be under the law, and not in a state of deliverance by Christ; and then he repre­sents him not only as despairing of self deliverance, and as praying for the interposition of a sufficiently powerful deliverer, but as thanking God that the very deliverance for which he groans is appointed to be administered to him by Jesus Christ. "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank GOD through Jesus Christ our Lord."

This is, also, so fully confirmed by what the apostle had said in the preceding chapter, where he unquestionably describes the moral state of true believers, that nothing is more surprising than that so perverted a comment upon the seventh chapter, as that to which we have adverted, should have been adopted or persevered in. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that OUR OLD MAN is crucified with him, THAT THE BODY OF SIN MIGHT BE DESTROYED, that henceforth we should not serve sin; for he that is dead IS FREED FROM SIN." So clearly does the apostle show that he who is BOUND to the body of death," as mentioned in the seventh chapter, is not in the state of a believer; and that he who has a true faith in Christ, "is FREED from sin."

It is somewhat singular, that the divines of the Calvinistic school should be almost uniformly the zealous advocates of the doctrine of the continuance of indwelling sin till death; but it is but justice to say, that several of them have as zealously denied that the apostle, in the seventh chapter of the Romans, describes the state of one who is justified by faith in Christ, and very properly consider the case there spoken of as that of one struggling in LEGAL bondage, and brought to that point of self despair and of conviction of sin and helplessness which must always precede an entire trust in the merits of Christ's death, and the power of his salvation.

3. The doctrine before us is disproved by those passages of Scripture which connect our entire sanctification with subsequent habits and acts, to be exhibited in the conduct of believers before death. So in the quotation from Rom. vi, just given,-" knowing this, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." So the exhortation in 2 Cor. vii, 1, also given above, refers to the present life, and not to the future hour of our dissolution; and in 1 Thess. v, 23, the apostle first prays for the entire sanctification of the Thessalonians, and then for their preservation in that hallowed state, "unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

4. It is disproved, also, by all those passages which require us to bring forth those graces and virtues which are usually called the fruits of the Spirit. That these are to be produced during our life, and to be displayed in our spirit and conduct, cannot be doubted; and we may then ask whether they are required of us in perfection and maturity? If so, in this degree of maturity and perfection, they necessarily suppose the entire sanctification of the soul from the opposite and antagonist evils. Meekness in its perfection supposes the extinction of all sinful anger; perfect love to God, supposes that no affection remains contrary to it; and so of every other perfect internal virtue. The inquiry, then, is reduced to this, whether these graces, in such perfection as to exclude the opposite corruptions of the heart, are of possible attainment. If they are not, then we cannot love God with our whole hearts; then we must be sometimes sinfully angry; and how, in that case, are we to interpret that perfectness in these graces which GOD hath required of us, and promised to us in the Gospel? For if the perfection meant (and let it be observed that this is a Scriptural term, and must mean some thing) be so comparative as that we may be sometimes sinfully angry, and may sometimes divide our hearts between God and the creature, we may apply the same comparative sense of the term to good words and to good works, as well as to good affections. Thus when the apostle prays for the Hebrews, "Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will," we must understand this perfection of evan­gelical good works so that it shall sometimes give place to opposite evil works, just as good affections must necessarily sometimes give place to the opposite bad affections. This view can scarcely be soberly enter­tained by any enlightened Christian; and it must, therefore, be con­cluded, that the standard of our attainable Christian perfection, as to the affections, is a love of God so perfect as to "rule the heart," and exclude all rivalry, and a meekness so perfect as to cast out all sinful anger, and prevent its return; and that as to good works, the rule is, that we shall be so "perfect in every good work," as to "do the will of God" habitually, fully, and constantly. If we fix the standard lower, we Jet in a license totally inconsistent with that Christian purity which is allowed by all to be attainable, and we make every man himself his own interpreter of that comparative perfection which is often contended for as that only which is attainable.

Some, it is true, admit the extent of the promises and the requirements of the Gospel as we have stated them; but they contend, that this is the mark at which we are to aim, the standard toward which we are to aspire, though neither is attainable fully till death. But this view cannot be true as applied to sanctification, or deliverance from all inward and outward sin. That the degree of every virtue implanted by grace is not limited, but advances and grows in the living Christian throughout life, may be granted; and through eternity also: but to say that these virtues are not attainable, through the work of the Spirit, in that degree which shall destroy all opposite vice, is to say, that God, under the Gospel, requires us to be what we cannot be, either through want of efficacy in his grace, or from some defect in its administration; neither of which has any countenance from Scripture, nor is at all consistent with the terms in which the promises and exhortations of the Gospel are expressed. It is also contradicted by our own consciousness, which charges our criminal neglects and failures upon ourselves, and not upon the grace of God, as though it were insufficient. Either the consciences of good men have in all ages been delusive and over scrupulous; or this doctrine of the necessary, though occasional, dominion of sin over us is false.

5. The doctrine of the necessary indwelling of sin in the soul till death involves other antiscriptural consequences. It supposes that the seat of sin is in the flesh, and thus harmonizes with the pagan philosophy, which attributed all evil to matter. The doctrine of the Bible, on the contrary, is, that the seat of sin is in the soul; and it makes it one of the proofs of the fall and corruption of our spiritual nature, that we are in bondage to the appetites and motions of the flesh. Nor does the theory which places the necessity of sinning in the connection of the. soul with the body account for the whole moral case of man. There are sins, as pride, covetousness, malice, and others, which are wholly spiritual; and yet no exception is made in this doctrine of the necessary continuance of sin till death as to them. There is, surely, no need to wait for the separation of the soul from the body in order to be saved from evils which are the sole offspring of the spirit; and yet these are made as inevitable as the sins which more immediately connect them­selves with the excitements of the animal nature.

This doctrine supposes, too, that the flesh must necessarily not only lust against the Spirit, but in no small degree, and on many occasions, be the conqueror: whereas, we are commanded, to "mortify the deeds of the body;" to "crucify," that is, to put to death, "the flesh;" "to put of the old man," which, in its full meaning, must import separation from sin in fact, as well as the renunciation of it in will; and "to put on the new man." Finally, the apostle expressly states, that though the flesh stands victoriously opposed to legal sanctification, it is not insuperable by evangelical holiness.-" For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," Rom. viii, 3, 4. So inconsistent with the declarations and promises of the Gospel is the notion that, so long as we are in the body, "the flesh" must of necessity have at least the occasional dominion.

We conclude, therefore, as to the time of our complete sanctification, or, to use the phrase of the Apostle Paul, "the destruction of the body of sin;" that it can neither be referred to the hour of death, nor placed subsequently to this present life. The attainment of perfect freedom from sin is one to which believers are called during the present life; and is necessary to that completeness of " holiness," and of those active and passive graces of Christianity by which they are called to glorify God in this world, and to edify mankind.

Not only the time, but the manner also, of our sanctification has been matter of controversy: some contending that all attainable degrees of it are acquired by the process of gradual mortification and the acquisition of holy habits; others alleging it to be instantaneous, and the fruit of an act of faith in the Divine promises.

That the regeneration which accompanies justification is a large ap­proach to this state of perfected holiness; and that all dying to sin, and all growth in grace, advances us nearer to this point of entire sanctity, is so obvious, that on these points there can be no reasonable dispute. But they are not at all inconsistent with a more instantaneous work, when, the depth of our natural depravity being more painfully felt, we plead in faith the accomplishment of the promises of GOD. The great question to be settled is, whether the deliverance sighed after be held out to us in these promises as a present blessing? And, from what has been already said, there appears no ground to doubt this; since no small violence would be offered to the passages of Scripture already quoted, as well as to many others, by the opposite opinion. All the promises of GOD which are not expressly, or from their order, referred to future time, are ob­jects of present trust; and their fulfilment now is made conditional only upon our faith. They cannot, therefore, be pleaded in our prayers, with an entire reliance upon the truth of God, in vain. The general promise that we shall receive "all things whatsoever we ask in prayer, believing," comprehends, of course, "all things" suited to our case which God has engaged to bestow; and if the entire renewal of our nature be included in the number, without any limitation of time, except that in which we ask it in faith, then to this faith shall the promises of entire sanctification be given; which, in the nature of the case, supposes an instantaneous work immediately following upon our entire and unwaver­ing faith.

The only plausible objections made to this doctrine may be answered in few words.

It has been urged, that this state of entire sanctification supposes future impeccability. Certainly not; for if angels and our first parents fell when in a state of immaculate sanctity, the renovated man cannot be placed, by his entire deliverance from inward sin, out of the reach of danger. This, remark, also, answers the allegation, that we should thus be removed out of the reach of temptation; for the example of angels, and of the first man, who fell by temptation when in a state of native purity, proves that the absence of inward evil is not inconsistent with a state of probation; and that this, in itself, is no guard against the attempts and solicitations of evil.

It has been objected, too, that this supposed state renders the atonement and intercession of Christ superfluous in future. But the very contrary of this is manifest when the case of an evangelical renewal of the soul in righteousness is understood. This proceeds from the grace of God in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, as the efficient cause; it is received by faith as the instrumental cause; and the state itself into which we are raised is maintained, not by inherent native power, but by the continual presence and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit: himself, received and retained in answer to ceaseless prayer; which prayer has respect solely to the merits of the death and intercession of Christ.

It has been farther alleged, that a person delivered from all inward and outward sin has no longer need to use the petition of the Lord's prayer,-" and forgive us our trespasses ;" because he has no longer need of pardon. To this we reply, 1. That it would be absurd to sup­pose that any person is placed under the necessity of "trespassing," in order that a general prayer designed for men in a mixed condition might retain its aptness to every particular case. 2. That trespassing of every kind and degree is not supposed by this prayer to be continued, in order that it might be used always in the same import, or otherwise it might be pleaded against the renunciation of any trespass or transgression whatever. 3. That this petition is still relevant to the case of the entirely sanctified and the evangelically perfect, since neither the perfection of the first man nor that of angels is in question; that is, a perfection measured by the perfect law, which, in its obligations, contemplates all creatures as having sustained no injury by moral lapse, and admits, therefore, of no excuse from infirmities and mistakes of judgment; nor of any degree of obedience below that which beings created naturally perfect, were capable of rendering. There may, however, be an entire sanctification of a being rendered naturally weak and imperfect, and so liable to mistake and infirmity, as well as to defect in the degree of that absolute obedience and service which the law of God, never bent or lowered to human weakness, demands from all. These defects, and mistakes, and infirmities, may be quite consistent with the entire sanc­tification of the soul and the moral maturity of a being still naturally infirm and imperfect. Still, farther, if this were not a sufficient answer it may be remarked, that we are not the ultimate judges of our own case as to our "trespasses," or our exemption from them; and we are not, therefore, to put ourselves into the place of God, "who is greater than our hearts." So, although St. Paul says, "I know nothing by myself," that is, I am conscious of no offence, be adds, "yet am I not hereby justified; but he that judgeth me is the Lord:" to whom, therefore, the appeal is every moment to be made through Christ the Mediator, and who, by the renewed testimony of his Spirit, assures every true believer of his acceptance in his sight.

Another benefit which accrues to all true believers, is the RIGHT TO Pray, with the special assurance that they shall be heard in all things which are according to the will of God. "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." It is under this gracious institution that all good men are constituted intercessors for others, even for the whole world; and that God is pleased to order many of his dispensations, both as to individuals and to nations, in reference to "his elect who cry day and night unto him."

With respect to every real member of the body or Church of Christ, the PROVIDENCE of God is special; in other words, they are individually considered in the administration of the affairs of this life by the Sovereign Ruler, and their measure of good and of evil is appointed with constant reference to their advantage, either in this life or in eternity. "The hairs of their head," are, therefore, said to be "numbered," and "all things" are declared "to work together for their good."

To them also VICTORY OVER DEATH is awarded. They are freed from its fear in respect of consequences in another state; for the apprehension of future punishment is removed by the remission of their sins, and the attestation of this to their minds by the Holy Spirit, while a patient resignation to the will of God, as to the measure of their bodily sufferings, and the strong hopes and joyful anticipations of a better life cancel and subdue that horror of pain and dissolution which is natural to man. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their life time subject to bondage," Heb. ii, 14, 15.

THE IMMEDIATE RECEPTION OF THE SOUL INTO A STATE OF BLESSEDNESS after death, is also another of the glorious promises of the new covenant to all them that endure to the end, and "die in the Lord."

This is so explicitly taught in the New Testament, that, but for the admission of a philosophical error, it would, probably, have never been doubted by any persons professing to receive that book, as of Divine authority. Till, in recent times, the belief in the materiality of the human soul was chiefly confined to those who entirely rejected the Chris­tian revelation; but, when the Socinians adopted this notion, without wholly rejecting the Scriptures, it was promptly perceived that the doctrine of an intermediate state, and the materiality of the soul, could not be maintained together;[1] and the most violent and disgraceful criti­cisms and evasions have, therefore, by this class of interpreters been resorted to, in order to save a notion as unphilosophical as it is contrary to the word of God. Nothing can be more satisfactory than the obser­vations of Dr. Campbell on this subject.

"Many expressions of Scripture, in the natural and obvious sense, imply that an intermediate and separate state of the soul is actually to succeed death. Such are the words of the Lord to the penitent thief upon the cross, Luke xxiii, 43. Stephen's dying petition, Acts vii, 59. The comparisons which the Apostle Paul makes in different places, (2 Cor. v, 6, &c; Phil. i, 21,) between the enjoyment which true Chris­tians can attain by their continuance in this world, and that which they enter on at their departure out of it, and several other passages. Let, the words referred to be read by any judicious person, either in the ori­ginal or in the common translation, which is sufficiently exact for this purpose, and let him, setting aside all theory or system, say, candidly, whether they would not be understood, by the gross of mankind, as pre supposing that the soul may and will exist separately from the body, and be susceptible of happiness or misery in that state. If any thing could add to the native evidence of the expressions, it would be the unnatural meanings that are put upon them, in order to disguise that evidence. What shall we say of the metaphysical distinction introduced for this purpose between absolute and relative time? The Apostle Paul, they are sensible, speaks of the saints as admitted to enjoyment in the presence of God, immediately after death. Now, to palliate the direct contradiction there is in this to their doctrine, that the vital principle, which is all they mean by the soul, remains extinguished between death and the resurrection, they remind us of the difference there is between absolute or real and relative or apparent time. They admit, that if the apostle be understood as speaking of real time, what is said flatly con­tradicts their system; but, say they, his words must be interpreted as' spoken only of apparent time. He talks, indeed, of entering on a state of enjoyment immediately after death, though there may be many thousands of years between the one and the other; for he means only, that when that state shall commence, however distant, in reality, the time may be, the person entering upon it will not be sensible of that distance, and, consequently, there will be to him an apparent coincidence with the moment of his death. But does the apostle any where give a hint that this s his meaning? or is it what any man would naturally discover from his words? That it is exceedingly remote from the common use of language, I believe hardly any of those, who favour this scheme, will be partial enough to deny. Did the sacred penmen then mean to put a cheat upon the world, and, by the help of an equivocal expression, to flatter men with the hope of entering, the instant they expire, on a state of felicity, when, in fact, they knew that it would be many, ages before it would take place? But were the hypothesis about the extinction of the mind between death and the resurrection well founded, the apparent coincidence they speak of is not so clear as they seem to think it. For my part, I cannot regard it as an axiom, and I never heard of any who attempted to demonstrate it. To me it appears merely a corollary from Mr. Locke's doctrine, which derives our conceptions of time from the succession of our ideas, which, whether true or false, is a doctrine to be found only among certain philosophers, and which, we may reasonably believe, never came into the heads of those to whom the Gospel, in the apostolic age, was announced.

"I remark that even the curious equivocations (or, perhaps, more properly, mental reservation) that has been devised for them, will not, in every case, save the credit of apostolical veracity. The words of Paul to the Corinthians are, Knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; again, we are willing rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. Could such expressions have been used by him, if he had held it impossible to be with the Lord, or, indeed, any where, without the body; and that, whatever the change was which was made by death, he could not be in the presence of the Lord, till he returned to the body? Absence from the body, and presence with the Lord, were never, therefore, more unfortunately com­bined than in this illustration. Things are combined here as coincident, which, on the hypothesis of those gentlemen, are incompatible. If recourse be had to the original, the expressions in Greek are, if possible, still stronger. They are oiJ endhmounte~ en tw owmati, those who dwell in the body, who are ecdhmhvte~ apo ths Kurihs, at a distance from the Lord. As, on the contrary, they are oiJ exkhmhnte~ ex ths those who have travelled out of the body, who are oiJ endhmhnte~ pso~ ton Kurion, those who reside, or are present with the Lord. In the passage to the Philippians, also, the commencement of his presence with the Lord is represented as coincident, not with his return to the body, but with his leaving it; with the dissolution, not with the restoration of the union.

"From the tenor of the New Testament, the sacred writers appear to proceed on the supposition that the soul and the body are naturally distinct and separable, and that the soul is susceptible of pain or pleasure in a state of separation. It were endless to enumerate all the places which evince this. The story of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke xvi, 22, 23. The last words of our Lord upon the cross, Luke xxiii, 46, and of Stephen, when dying. Paul's doubts, whether he was in the body or out of the body, when he was translated to the third heaven and paradise, 2 Cor. xii, 2, 3, 4. Our Lord's words to Thomas, to satisfy him that he was not a spirit, Luke xxiv, 39. And, to con. dude, the express mention of the denial of spirits as one of the errors of the Sadducees. Acts xxiii, 8, For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit, mede aggelon mede pneuma. All these are irrefragable evidences of the general opinion on this subject of both Jews and Christians. By spirit, as distinguished from angel, is evidently meant the departed spirit of a human being; for, that man is here, before his natural death, possessed of a vital and intelligent principle, which is commonly called his soul or spirit, it was never pre­tended that they denied." (Diss. vi, part 2.)

In this intermediate, but felicitous and glorious state, the disembodied spirits of the righteous will remain in joy and felicity with Christ, until the general judgment; when another display of the gracious effects of our redemption, by Christ, will appear in the glorious RESURRECTION of their bodies to an immortal life: thus distinguishing them from the wicked, whose resurrection will be to "shame and everlasting contempt," or, to what may be emphatically termed, an immortal death.

On this subject no point of discussion, of any importance, arises among those who admit the truth of Scripture, except as to the way in which the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is to be understood;-whether a resurrection of the substance of the body be meant, or of some minute and indestructible part of it. The latter theory has been adopted for the sake of avoiding certain supposed difficulties. It cannot, however, fail to strike every impartial reader of the New Testament, that the doctrine of the resurrection is there taught without any nice distinctions. It is always exhibited as a miraculous work; and represents the same body which is laid in the grave as the subject of this change from death to life, by the power of Christ. Thus, our Lord was raised in the same body in which he died, and his resurrection is constantly held forth as the model of ours; and the Apostle Paul expressly says, "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." The only passage of Scripture which appears to favour the notion of the rising of the immortal body from some inde­structible germ, is 1 Cor. xv, 35, &c, "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? 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," &c. If, however, it bad been the intention of the apostle, holding this view of the case, to meet objections to the doctrine of the resurrection, grounded upon the difficulties of conceiving how the same body, in the popular sense, could be raised up in substance, we might have expected him to correct this misapprehension, by declaring that this was not the Christian doctrine; but that some small parts of the body only, bearing as little proportion to the whole as the germ of a seed to the plant, would be preserved, and be unfolded into the perfected body at the resurrection. Instead of this, he goes on immediately to remind the objector of the differences which exist between material bodies as they now exist; between the plant and the bare or naked grain; between one plant and another; between the flesh of men, of beasts, of fishes, and of birds; between celestial and terrestrial bodies; and between the lesser and greater celestial luminaries themselves. Still farther he proceeds to state the difference, not between the germ of the body to be raised, and the body given at the resurrection; but between the body itself, understood popularly, which dies, and the body which shall be raised. "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in Incorruption," which would not be true of the supposed incorruptible and imperishable germ of this hypothesis; and can only be affirmed of the body itself, considered in substance, and in its present state corruptible. Farther, the question put by the objector, "How are the dead raised up ?" does not refer to the modus agendi of the resurrection, or the process or manner in which the thing is to be effected, as the advocates of the germ hypothesis appear to assume.- This is manifest from the answer of the apostle, who goes on immedi­ately to state, not in what manner the resurrection is to be effected, but what shall be the state or condition of the resurrection body, which is no answer at all to the question, if it be taken in that sense.

The first of the two questions in the passage referred to relates to the possibility of the resurrection, "How are the dead raised up?" The second to the kind of body which they are to take, supposing the fact to be allowed. Both questions, however, imply a denial of the fact, or, at least, express a strong doubt concerning it. It is thus that pw~, how," in the first question, is taken in many passages where it is Connected with a verb;[2] and the second question only expresses the general negation or doubt more particularly, by implying, that the objector could not conceive of any kind of body being restored to man, which would not be an evil and imperfection to him. For the very reason why some of the Christians of that age denied, or strongly doubted, the resurrection of the body; explaining it figuratively, and saying that it was past already; was, that they were influenced to this by the notion of their philosophical schools, that the body was the prison of the soul, and that the greatest deliverance men could experience was to be eternally freed from their connection with matter. Hence the early philosophizing sects in the Christian Church, the Gnostics, Marcionites, &c, denied the resurrection, on the same ground as the philosophers, and thought it opposed to that perfection which they hoped to enjoy in another world. Such persons appear to have been in the Church of Corinth as early as the time of St. Paul, for that in this chapter he answers the objections, not of pagans, but of professing Christians, appears from verse 12, "How say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead?" The objection, therefore, in the minds of these per. sons to the doctrine of the resurrection, did not lie against the doctrine of the raising up of the substance of the same body, so that, provided this notion could be dispensed with, they were prepared to admit, that a new material body might spring from its germ, as a plant from seed.- They stumbled at the doctrine in every form, because it involved the circumstance of the reunion of the spirit with matter, which they thought an evil. When, therefore, the objector asks, "How are the dead raised up?"[3] he is to be understood, not as inquiring as to the process, but as to the possibility. The doubt may, indeed, be taken as an implied negation of the possibility of the resurrection with reference to God; and then the apostle, by referring to the springing up of the grain of corn, when dissolved and putrefied, may be understood to show that the event was not inconceivable, by referring to God's omnipotence, as shown in his daily providence, which, a priori, would appear as mar­vellous and incredible. But it is much more probable, that the impos­sibility implied in this question refers, not to the power of God, which every Christian in the Church at Corinth must be supposed to have been taught to conceive of as almighty, and, therefore, adequate to the production of this effect; but as relating to the contrariety which was assumed to exist between the doctrine of the reunion of the soul with the body, and those hopes of a higher condition in a future life, which both reason and revelation taught them to form The second question, "With what body do they come'?" like the former, is a question not of inquiry, but of denial, or, at least, of strong doubt, importing, that no idea could be entertained by the objector of any material body being made the residence of a disenthralled spirit, which could comport with those notions of deliverance from the bondage of corruption by death, which the philosophy of the age had taught, and which Christianity itself did not discountenance. The questions, though different, come, therefore, nearly to the same import, and this explains why the apostle chiefly dwells upon the answer to the latter only, by which, in fact, he replies to both. The grain cast into the earth even dies and is cor­rupted, and that which is sown is not "the body which shall be," in form and quality, but "naked grain;" yet into the plant, in its perfect form, is the same matter transformed. So the flesh of beasts, birds, fishes, and man, is the same matter, though exhibiting different qualities. So also bodies celestial are of the same matter as "bodies terrestrial;" and the more splendid luminaries of the heavens are, in substance, the same as those of inferior glory. It is thus that the apostle reaches his con­clusion, and shows that the doctrine of our reunion with the body implies in it no imperfection-nothing contrary to the hopes of libera­tion "from the burden of this flesh;" because of the high and glorified qualities which God is able to give to matter; of which the superior Purity, splendour, and energy of some material things in this world, in comparison of others, is a visible demonstration. For after he has given these instances, he adds, "So is the resurrection of the dead; it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural (an animal) body, it is raised a spiritual body," so called, "as being accommodated to a spirit, and far excelling all that is required for the transaction of earthly and terrene affairs;" (Rosenmuller;) and so intent is the apostle on dissipating all those gross representations of the resurrection of the body which the objectors had assumed as the ground of their opposition, and which they had, probably, in their disputations, placed under the strongest views, that he guards the true Christian doctrine, on this point, in the most explicit manner, "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption;" and, therefore, let no man hence-forward affirm, or assume it in his argument, that we teach any such doctrine. This, also, he strengthens, by showing, that as to the saints who are alive at the second coming of Christ, they also shall be in like manner "CHANGED," and that "this corruptible," as to them also, "shall put on incorruption."

Thus, in the argument, the apostle confines himself wholly to the pos­sibility of the resurrection of the body in a refined and glorified state; hut omits all reference to the mode in which the thing will be effected, as being out of the line of the objector's questions, and in itself above human thought, and wholly miraculous. It is, however, clear, that when he speaks of the body as the subject of this wondrous" change," he speaks of it popularly, as the same body in substance, whatever changes in its qualities or figure may be impressed upon it. Great general changes it will experience, as from corruption to incorruption, from mortality to im­mortality; great changes of a particular kind will also take place, as its being freed from deformities and defects, and the accidental varieties produced by climate, aliments, labour, and hereditary diseases. It is also laid down by our Lord, that, "in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but be like to the angels of God ;" and this also implies a certain change of structure; and we may gather from the declaration of the apostle, that though "the stomach" is now adapted to meats, and meats to the stomach, God will destroy both it and them;" that the animal appetite for food will be removed, and the organ now adapted to that appetite have no place in the renewed frame. But great as these changes are, the human form will be retained in its perfection, after the model of our Lord's "glorious body," and the substance of the matter of which it is composed will not thereby be affected. That the same body which was laid in the grave shall arise out of it, is the manifest doctrine of the Scriptures.

The notion of an incorruptible germ, or that of an original and un­changeable stamen, out of which a new and glorious body, at the resurrec­tion, is to spring, appears to have been borrowed from the speculations of some of the Jewish rabbis, who speak of some such supposed part in the human frame, under the name LVZ, to which they ascribe marvellous properties, and from which tine body was to arise. No allusion is, however made to any such opinion by the early fathers, in their defences of the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead. On the contrary, they argue in such a way as to prove the possibility of the reunion of the scattered parts of the body; which sufficiently shows that the germ theory had not been resorted to, by Christian divines at least, in order to harmonize the doctrine of the resurrection with philosophy. So Justin Martyr, in a fragment of his concerning the resurrection, expressly answers the objec­tion, that it is impossible for the flesh, after a corruption and perfect dissolution of all its parts, should be united together again, and contends, "that if the body be not raised complete, with all its integral parts, it would argue a want of power in God;" and although some of the Jews adopted the notion of the germinating or springing up of the body from some one indestructible part, yet the most orthodox of their rab­bis contended for the resurrection of the same body. So Maimonides says, "Men, in the same manner as they before lived, with the same body, shall be restored to life by God, and sent into this life with the same identity:" and " that nothing can properly be called a resurrection of the dead, but the return of the very same soul, into the very same body from which it was separated." (Rambam apud Pocockium in Notis Mis cellan, Port. Mos. p. 125.)

This theory, under its various forms, amid whether adopted by Jews or Christians, was designed, doubtless, to render the doctrine of a resurrection from the dead less difficult to conceive, and more acceptable to philosophic minds; but, like most other attempts of the same kind to bring down the supernatural doctrines of revelation to the level of our concep­tions, it escapes none of the original difficulties, and involves itself in others far more perplexing.

For if by this hypothesis it was designed to remove the difficulty of conceiving how the scattered parts of one body could be preserved from becoming integral parts of other bodies, it supposes that the constant care of Providence is exerted to maintain the incorruptibility of those in­dividual germs, or stamina, so as to prevent their assimilation with each other. Now, if they have this by original quality, then the same quality may just as easily be supposed to appertain to every particle which com­poses a human body; so that though it be used for food, it shall not be capable of assimilation, in any circumstances, with another human body. But if these germs or stamina, have not this quality by their original nature, they can only be prevented from assimilating with each other by that operation of God which is present to all his works, and which must always be directed to secure the execution of his own ultimate designs. If this view be adopted, then, if the resort must at last be to the superintendence of a Being of infinite power and wisdom, there is no greater difficulty in supposing that his care to secure this object shall ex. Lend to a million than to a thousand particles of matter. This is, in fact, the true and rational answer to the objection that the same piece of matter may happen to be a part of two or more bodies, as in the instances of men feeding upon animals which have fed upon men, and of men feeding upon one another. The question here is one which simply respects the frus­trating a final purpose of the Almighty by an operation of nature. To suppose that he cannot prevent this, is to deny his power; to suppose him inattentive to it, is to suppose him indifferent to his own designs; and to assume that he employs care to prevent it, is to assume nothing greater, nothing in fact so great, as many instances of control, which are always occurring; as, for instance, the regulation of the proportion of the sexes in human births, which cannot be attributed to chance, hut must either be referred to superintendence, or to some original law.

Thus these theories afford no relief to the only real difficulty involved in the doctrine, but leave the whole case still to be resolved into the almighty power of God. But they involve themselves in the fatal objection, that they are plainly in opposition to the doctrine of the Scriptures. For,-1. There is no resurrection of the body on this hypothesis, because the term or stamina, can in no good sense be called "the body." If a finger, r even a limb, is not the body, much less can these minuter parts be entitled to this appellation.

2.  There is, on these theories, no resurrection at all. For if the pre­served part be a germ, and the analogy of germination be adopted; then we have no longer a resurrection from death, but a vegetation from a suspended principle of secret life. If the stamina of Leibnitz be con­tended for, then the body, into which the soul enters at the resurrection, with the exception of these minute stamina, is provided for it by the addition and aggregation of new matter, and we have a creation, not a resurrection.

3. If bodies in either of these modes, are to be framed for the soul, by the addition of a large mass of new matter, the resurrection is made substantially the same with the pagan notion of the metempsychosis; and if St. Paul, at Athens, preached, not "Jesus and the resurrection," but Jesus and a transmigration into a new body, it will be difficult to account for his hearers scoffing at a doctrine, which had received the sanction of several of their own philosophic authorities.

Another objection to the resurrection of the body has been drawn from the changes of its substance during life. The answer to this is, that allowing a frequent and total change of the substance of the body (which, however, is but an hypothesis) to take place, it effects not the doctrine of Scripture, which is, that the body which is laid in the grave shall be raised up. But then we are told, that if our bodies have in fact under­gone successive changes during life, the bodies in which we have sinned or performed rewardable actions may not be, in many instances, the same bodies as those which will be actually rewarded or punished. We answer, that rewards and punishments have their relation to the body, not so much as it is the subject but the instrument of reward and punishment. It is the soul only which perceives pain or pleasure, which suf­fers or enjoys, and is, therefore, the only rewardable subject. Were we, therefore, to admit such corporeal mutations as are assumed in this objection, they affect not the case of our accountability. The personal identity or sameness of a rational being, as Mr. Locke has observed, consists in self consciousness :-" By this every one is to himself what he calls self, without considering whether that self be continued in the same or divers substances. It was by the same self which reflects on an action done many years ago, that the action was performed." If there were indeed any weight in this objection, it would affect the proceedings of human criminal courts in all cases of offences committed at some distance of time; but it contradicts the common sense, because it contradicts the common consciousness and experience of mankind.


[1] A few divines, and but few, have also been found, who, still admitting the essential distinction between body and spirit, have thought that they separation by death incapacitated the soul for the exercise of its powers. This suspension they call "the sleep of the soul." With the Materialist death causes the entire annihilation, for the time, of the thinking property of matter. Both opinions are, however, refuted by the same Scriptural arguments.

[2] (5) Cen. xxxix, 9, Pw~ poihsw, How shall 1,-how is it possible that I should do this great wickedness? "How, then, can I," say our translators. Exod. vi, 12, "Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how, then, shell Pharaoh hear me ?"-pw~ disadoushtai pov faraw ;-how is it likely, or possi­ble, that Pharaoh should hear me? See also verse 30. Judges xvi, 15, "And she said unto him, Pw~ legei~, How canst thou say I hove thee?" 2 Sam.. xi, 11, may also be considered in the Lxx. 2 Kings x, 4, "But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: kaipw~, how then shall We stand ?"-how is it possible that. we should stand? Job ix, 2, Pw~ ga estai dikaio~ broto~ ;-For how shall mortal man be just with, or in the presence of GOD ?-how is it possible? See what follows. Psalm lxxii, (lxxiii,) 11; Pw~ syvw oJ Qeo~ "How doth GOD know?"-how is it possible that he should know? See the connection. Jer. viii, 8; Pw~ ereite, "How do ye say,"-how is that ye say,-how can ye say, We are wise? Ibid. xxix, 7, (xlvii, 7,) Pw~ hsucasei; "How can it,"-the sword of the LORD,-" be quiet?" Ezek. xxxiii, 10, "If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, pw~ zhsomeqa how should we then hive?" Matt. vii, 4, "Or how, pw~, wilt thou say to thy brother ?" where Rosenm. observes that pw~ has the force of negation. Ibid xii, 26, "If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; pw~ ovv xaqhsetai how shall then,"-how can then,-" his kingdom stand ?" See also Luke xi, 18 Ibid. xxiii, 33, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, pw~ fughte, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" "qui fieri potest?" Rosenm. Mark iv, 40, Pw~ hk exete pistin; "How is it that ye have no faith?" Luke i, 34, may also be adduced. John v, 47, "If ye believe not his writings, pw~-pisteusete; how shall ye,"-how can ye-" believe my words 7" Rom. iii, 6, "GOD forbids for then, pw~ krinei, how shall GoD judge the world ?"-how is it possible? See the preceding verse. Ibid. viii, 32, pw~-carisetai; "How shall he not,"-how is it possible but that he should,-" with him also freely give us all things." Ibid. x, 14, Pw~-epikalesontai, "How then shall they,"-how is it possible that they should, -"call on him in whom they have not believed?" &c. 1 Tim. iii, 5, "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, pw~, how shall he take care of the Church of GOD ?" Heb. ii, 3, "How shall we escape,"-how is it possible that we should escape,-" if we neglect so great salvation ?" 1 John iii, 17, Pw~, "Row dwelleth the love of GOD in him ?"-.-how can it dwell? Comp. chap. iv, 20, where dunatai is added.

[3] The present indicative verb is here used, as it is generally throughout this chapter, for the future.