« PreviousContinue »
commerce with all body; so did he on the other hand again imagine, that they might also descend and sink down so low, as to animate not only the bodies of brutes, but even of trees and plants too: two inconsistent paradoxes; the latter whereof is a most prodigious extravagancy, which yet Empedocles, though otherwise a great wit, seems to have been guilty of also, from those verses of his in Athenæus ; "
"Ηδη γάς ποτ' εγώ γενόμην κούρη τε κόρος τε,
Θάμνος τ', οιωνός τε και είν αλί έλλοπος Ιχθύς. And amongst the Jews, the famous Maimonides was also of this persuasion, it being a known aphorism of his, in his great work, 73 7N XINT bayow 77999 W: That in the world to come, or state of consummate happiness, there shall be nothing at all of body, but pure incorporeity:Upon which account, being accused as a denier of the resurrection, (an article as well of the Jewish as of the Christian faith) he wrote that book entitled Iggereth Teman, purposely to purge himself, and to reconcile those two assertions together, which he doth after such a manner, as that there should be indeed a resurrection, at the first coming of the Jewish Messias, of some .certain persons; to live here awhile upon the earth, eat and drink, marry and be given in marriage, and then die again ; after which, in the world to come, they should for ever continue pure souls, ununited to any body. In which it may be well suspected, that the design Maimonides drove at, was against Christianity ; which, notwithstanding, as to this particular, bath the concurrent suffrages of the best philosophers, that the most genuine and perfect state of the human soul, which in its own nature is immortal, is to continue for ever, not without, but with a body; and yet our high-flown enthusiasts generally (however calling themselves Christians), are such great spiritualists, and so much for the inward resurrection, (which we deny not to be a Scripture notion also; as in that of St. Paul, * “ If ye be risen with Christ,” &c. And again, b« If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead,") as that they quite allegorize away, together with the other parts of Christianity, the outward resurrection of the body; and, indeed, will scarcely acknowledge any future immortality, or life to come, after death, their spirituality thus ending in Sadducism and infidelity, if not at length in downright Atheism and sensuality.
a Deipnosophist, lib. viii. p. 510.
But, besides this, there is yet a further correspondence of Christianity with the forementioned philosophic cabala, in that the former also supposes the highest perfection of our human souls, not to consist in being eternally conjoined with such
gross bodies as these we now have, unchanged and unaltered : for as the Pythagoreans and Platonists have always complained of these terrestrial bodies, as prisons, or living sepulchres of the soul; so does Christianity seem to run much upon the same strain, in these Scripture expressions: ““In this we groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon
with our house which is from heaven:” and again, d“We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened, not for that we would be unclothed (that is, stripped quite naked of all body),. but so clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life:” and, lastly, a " Ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption (sonship or inheritance), namely, the redemption of our bodies;" that is, the freedom of them from all those evils and maladies of theirs, which we here lie oppressed under. Wherefore we cannot think, that the same heavy load and luggage, which the souls of good men, being here burdened with, do so much groan to be delivered from, shall, at the general resurrection, be laid upon them again, and bound fast to them, to all eternity : for, of such a resurrection as this, Plotinus(though perhaps mistaking it for the true Christian resurrection), might have some cause to affirm, that it would be but avaotadig siç aklov útvov, a resurrection to another sleep; the soul seeming not to be thoroughly awake here, but, as it were, soporated with the dull steams and opiatic vapours of this gross body. For thus the author of the Book of Wisdom, b«The corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind, that museth upon many things.” But the same will further
a Col. iii. 1.
b Pbil. ii. 2.
appear, from that account, which the Scripture itself giveth us of the resurrection : and first, in general, wben St. Paul, answering that query of the philosophic infidel, “ How are the dead raised, or with what body do they come?" replieth in this manner,
Thou fool (that is, thou who thinkest to puzzle or baffle the Christian article of the resurrection, which thou understandest not), that which thou sowest is not quickened (to the production of any
a Rom. viii, 23...
b Chap. ix. 15.
thing), except it first dieto whatit was.” And “thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain," as of wheat, or of barley, or the like; but God (in the ordinary course of nature), giveth it a body, as it hath pleased him that is, a stalk, and an ear, having many grains with husks in it, and therefore neither in quantity nor quality the same with that, wbich was sowed under ground), nor does he give to all seeds one and the same kind of body neither, but to every seed its own correspondent body, as to wheat one kind of ear, and to barley another, As if he should have said: Know that this present body of ours is to be looked upon but as a kind of seed of the resurrection-body, which therefore is accordingly in some sense the same, and in some sense not the same with it. Besides which general account, the particular oppositions, which the Scripture makes betwixt the present and future body, seem very agreeable to those of the philosophic cabala: for, first, the present body is said to besowed “in corruption,” but the future “raised in incorruption.” For the children of the resurrection cannot die any more. And then “mortality shall be swallowed up of life.”. Wherefore the Christian resurrection-body, as well as thatof the philosophic. cabala, is owua álávatov, and aidov too, (2 Cor. v. 1.) an immortal and eternal body. Again, the body sowed is said to be a dishonourable, ignominious, and inglorious body; and therefore called also by St. Paul, to owua TĀS TAFELVÁOEWE nuwv, the body of our humility, or humiliation ;-a body agreeable to this lapsed state of the soul, 'but the body, which
a 1 Cor. xv. 42. ci Cor. xv. 54.
b Luke xx. 36.
d 1 Cor. xv, 43, e Phil. ii, 21.
shall be raised, shall be a glorious body; and oúj-
a 1 Cor. xv. 41.
b 1 Cor. xv. 44. • Comment. in aurea Pythag. carmina, p. 214. edit. Needhami,