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seem a more difficult work for the Almighty)—to mould the human body info its present admirable texture and composition, than to recall it from its state of dispersion, in the appointed season of
But this comparison, it may be imagined, is not exact: the perished body resembles not a machine, merely disjointed and taken to pieces. Its parts lose their tone, and alter their whole form and texture. It rather resembles such works of art, as, by a total decay of perishing materials, become in time incapable of restoration. But this is a vulgar prejudice. Not a single particle of matter can perish.* The mass may be continually altering and varying its forms, to answer the purposes of nature,
*lucretius <with his usual exuberance of fancy, beautifully illustrates this observation, and concludes,
Haud igitur penitus pereunt quaecunque videntur:
, but but not a single atom can be lost out of the world, but by the power of God, who is the sovereign disposer of the whole, in all states and changes.
T<> be sure, the parts of dead bodies are sometimes dispersed far and wide through the creation, mingled with all the elements, and blended and incorporated with other bodies. But this cannot frustrate or obstruct the purposes of a Divine Agent, whose knowledge pervades all nature, and whose power knoweth no resistance. Every thing lies naked and open in his sight, and is perfectly subservient to his command. His eye attends, and his hand disposes, e« very particle of matter in all its revolutions and stages of transmutation. And it is easy to conceive, that such a Being will rather prevent all such changes in the course of things, as tend to defeat his purpose, than finally suffer his promise to fall to the ground.
The doctrine ©f the resurrection, I
am am sure, is not as amazing, as the unbelief of a rational creature, having an opportunity, every day of his life, of observing so many similar instances of Divine Power, in the common appearances of the material world. When you look at a caterpillar, upon the first view you can hardly think, that such a crawling insect, loathsome, and hideous to the fight, should, in a certain time, become a new creature of distinguished rank and order. * Attend him a little longer, and your disbelief increases. He
* For the information of some readers, it is necessary to observe, that many genera of flies pass through three states, the first of the worm or maggot, the second of the nympha ot aurelia, and the third of the fly or papilio. In the nymphal state the animal makes a shell os its own skin, which hardens and becomes brown or reddish, while the whole os its body becomes detached from it; and, after having lain some time in form of an oblong ball, apparently without sense or lise, and without any visible parts of the future creature, acquires by degrees the form of a fly and all its limbs, Supplem. to Chambers. Article Nvmph. And what is still more curious, the real fly, or higher nature, was secretly contained all the while in the two subordinate stages. See Article Feve.
seemingly seemingly loses all sense and motion : he falls into a torpid state — And yet, behold, a few days past, he really rises a beautiful winged creature, magnificently arrayed in colours, beyond the tints of art: the study and admiration of the curious. Look at the face of things in the cold inanimate state of winter. It is all one vast waste: all things lie blended in confusion: fruits and flowers no longer preserve their distinctions: what the industry of man sows, seems lost and overwhelmed in the general wreck: such vegetables, as require not human culture, have given their seeds to be the sport of winds, and they seem totally lost amidst the ruins of nature—But, behold again, the Almighty Ruler sends forth the genial breezes of the spring: nature starts, as it were, from sleep: earth resumes its verdure: and fruits and flowers spring up in all the richness of colours peculiar to their respective species.
We, poor short-sighted creatures, see nothing wonderful in this change. It is a sight quite familiar to us: the seasons revolve in regular succession: and we are taught by experience to wait for their stated returns. And yet, in fact, there is nothing more in the future renovation of man. This spiritual revolution, though slower, yet is as certain, as the revolutions of the natural world. At present we fall into the dust; and there we lie in one promiscuous mass, blended and undistinguished—But when the arch-angel of him, who hath ordained the vicissitude of seasons, gives the signal for the revival of man; then, where is the wonder, that mankind lhall also start up in their proper forms, and persons, to answer the purposes of his moral Providence?
Here is no difficulty, but what we create to ourselves. We cannot conceive, that there can be a proper resurrection, unless the same exact quantity of matter,