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THE VISIBLE BODY.
An inquiry into the nature and duration of the human body, within which as within a tabernacle is imprisoned man's immortal soul, must possess interest of more than usual depth. This body of flesh has had a beginning; and since our conclusions tell us that “that which has had a beginning may be now, but must have an end,” we are unavoidably led to the belief of its ultimate dissolution and absolute destruction, “ All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust ;” a for “all go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." It is remarkable, and will doubtless excite surprise in many, that the Church of England is in her Articles silent upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the body ; but upon referring to the creeds which 66
ought thoroughly to be received and believed," ° we find this doctrine mentioned, though very briefly, in the Apostles and in the Athanasian creed. Almost as a necessary result of this absence of explanation, and perhaps also in consequence of the use of the definite instead of an indefinite article with the word “body," those who seek more explicit information will discover that upon this subject there exists among writers upon divinity more than the usual want of unanimity. Here are the words of Archbishop Tillotson :
& Job, xxxiv. 15.
b Eccles. iii. 20.
c Art. 8.
“ 1. The body of man is not a constant permanent thing, always continuing in the same state, and consisting of the same matter; but a successive thing, which is continually spending and continually renewing itself, every day losing something of the matter which it had before, and gaining new ; so that most men have new bodies, as they have new clothes ; only with this difference, that we change our clothes commonly at once, but our bodies by degrees.
“ And this is undeniably certain from experience. For so much as our bodies grow, so much new matter is added to them, over and besides the repairing of what is continually spent ; and after a man be come to his full growth, so much of his food as every day turns into nourishment, so much of his yesterday's body is usually wasted and carried off by insensible perspiration, that is, breathed out of the pores of his body, which, according to the static experiment of Sanctorius, a learned physician, who, for several years together, weighed himself exactly every day, is (as I remember) according to the proportion of five to eight of all that a man eats and drinks. Now, according to this proportion, a man must change his body several times in a year.
“ It is true, indeed, the more solid parts of the body, as the bones, do not change so often as the fluid and fleshy; but that they also do change is certain, because they grow; and whatever grows is nourished and spends, because otherwise it would not need to be repaired.
“ 2. The body which a man hath at any time of his life is as much his own body as that which he hath at his death; so that if the very matter of his body which a man had at any time of his life be raised, it is as much his own and the same body as that which he had at his death, and commonly much more perfect, because they who die of lingering sickness or old age are usually mere skeletons when they die; so that there is
no reason to suppose (or at least not to insist) that the very matter of which our bodies consist at the time of our death shall be that which shall be raised, that being commonly the worst and most imperfect body of all the rest.
“ These two things being premised, the answer to this objection cannot be difficult. For as to the more solid and firm parts of the body, as the skull and bones, it is not, I think, pretended that the cannibals eat them; and if they did, so much of the matter, even of these solid parts, wastes away in a few years, as, being collected together, would supply them many times over. And as for the fleshy and fluid parts, these are so very often changed and renewed, that we can allow the cannibals to eat them all up, and to turn them all into nourishment: and yet no man need contend for want of a body of his own at the resurrection; viz., any of those bodies which he had ten or twenty years before, which are every whit as good, and as much his own, as that which was eaten.” a
“ The Archbishop is here of an opinion diametrically opposite to that of Bishop Stillingfleet, as to the resurrection of every particle of the body buried. He has Mr. Locke, however, on his side. For a summary view of the controversy between Stillingfleet and Locke, and an attempt at compromising their dispute, you may consult the eighth of Dr. Watts's Philosophical Essays.
a Tillotson's 194th Sermon.
“ See also Dr. Clarke's remarks on this interesting inquiry, as quoted in Bishop Watson's Theological Tracts, vol. iv.
235—237." The above is the answer of Archbishop Tillotson to that one of the objections, usually urged against a belief in the resurrection of the body, which may be stated in the following terms: • Of men drowned in the sea, the bodies may be eaten by fishes, and they again by other men ; or, among cannibals, men feast upon the flesh of
In such cases, where one man's body may be converted into part of the substance of another man's body, and so on, how shall each at the resurrection recover his own peculiar body ?'”
When we read this objection, and endeavour to shape our thoughts in accordance with the Archbishop's suggestions, we must all feel that his idea of a search throughout the life of man in order to discover the time when his body ap
Gregory, p. 440.