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of the structure and growth of our bodies in life, we come irresistibly to the same conclusion, that that which gives to your body and to mine its distinctness, its individual form, is not the matter of which it is composed, but some mysterious unseen force which makes that matter the instrument of its purposes, and which remains the same in its development and its decay. And now I turn to Holy Scripture. Now I ask you to look with me at the language of St. Paul. I say, his language shatters the doctrine of the identity of material particles. He tells us, in plain words, that 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.' He warns us that the body which rises is 'not that body' which is laid in the grave. Words cannot be more explicit. He warns us that 'it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.' He bids us take our lessons from the parables of Nature. When he is asked: How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?' he breaks out in flashing impatience: 'O senseless man, 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.' That dry corn of wheat is cast into the ground, and there comes up first the green blade, and then the full and bending ear. The acorn drops from the oak, and there springs from it, not another acorn, but first the slender stalk, the little germinant shoot hidden within its two smooth leaves, that grows and grows till it becomes a tree, so that the fowls of the air lodge in the branches thereof. But the corn of wheat and the green blade and the bending ear are one life, and the oak and the germinant shoot and the acorn, unlike as they are in appearance, are one and the same vegetable existence.
Or look at that yet more marvellous change, when the unsightly crawling worm is transformed into the gorgeous butterfly. Once that creature could only crawl on the earth; then it wove its own chrysalis-shroud. Thenwithout any new environment, with the same sun above, with the same earth beneath, and the same food-what is that strange force which begins to weave on a new plan, or to carry out one held in reserve from the first? How comes that gorgeous tropical butterfly, with all its splendid colours, with all its animation of life, with all its power of transporting itself whence it will, out of that crawling, creeping, unsightly worm? We know that it is the same creature, and yet how different! It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory.' How is it that men shut their eyes to these parables of Nature, and then exclaim that a resurrection of the body is impossible, or that, if there is to be a resurrection, it must be one of material particles? That certainly is not the doctrine of St. Paul. It cannot be the doctrine of any reasonable man.
But lastly, brethren, how does this bear on the question of our reverence for the body now? If it is not the same body that is raised, what motive has the Christian for reverence for the body either in life or in death? I answer, that there is in this life a certain real though mysterious connection
between the material body and the spiritual body. I believe, and some of the profoundest philosophers of modern times hold this belief, that the force that is weaving the material body is also building now a spiritual body. I believe that the two have a very close union. I believe there are glimpses of that union visible to us now. Have you never seen the spiritual body? I believe it has been seen through the veil and covering of the material body: And all that sat in the council, steadfastly beholding him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.' Was there no spiritual body shining there through the earthly frame? Have you never seen it in one you knew and loved? I am sorry for you if you have not. Have you never seen it in the decay of life, when the earthly tabernacle was perishing; on the emaciated and sunken and wasted features, have you never seen the glory of heaven? It is the glory of the spiritual body shining through the fading envelope that shrouds it. Yes, brethren, and when we look on those we love, and know that soon all will be over in this world; when we see the eyes which shall soon give back no answering glance, and the lips which shall soon utter no familiar word of love, there is an eye there which shall behold the King in His beauty,' and there are lips there which shall break forth in His praises, when the muddy vesture of decay is left behind. It is the spiritual body shining through the material which makes the resurrection credible. That explains, or at least renders it possible for us to conceive, how He will change the fashion of our dying body to be like the body of His glory. When Christ comes He shall effect the transformation, according to that mighty power by which He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.'
Lastly, brethren, see to it that you reverence your bodies, for in some real and true sense they shall be yours at the Resurrection. Do not pamper them; do not deck them out with the trappings of vanity; do not degrade them by sensuality and vicious excess. They are sacred as the temples of the Holy Ghost. They are destined to a glorious transformation. Shall I suffer the eyes which shall see the King in His beauty to wander after hurtful lusts? Shall the mouth which is destined to join in the heavenly Hallelujahs utter the profane jest or the foolish talk? Shall the hands which shall hereafter strike the golden lyre in the temple above, now clutch the filthy lucre, or 'smite with the fist of wickedness'? Shall the feet which are to tread the golden streets, and walk in the city of the ransomed, be swift now to unholy pleasure or unrighteous gain? No; let me see that I guard the shrine in which God dwells from such profanity as this. It may decay in its material particles, it may mingle with the common dust, but it has some strange and intimate union with that body which shall rise again. As I treat my material body now, so shall my spiritual body be fashioned. the ready gate of sin now, it may hereafter quiver through and through with a sensitiveness which the material body cannot feel, with the sense of its degradation and the agony of its suffering. If I honour it now, if I guard it from defilement, if I venerate it as the temple of the
If I make it
Holy Ghost, if I glorify God (Who has made it) in my body, through decay and death it shall pass to its glorious resurrection as a spiritual body, no more liable to pain or suffering, radiant with the light of heaven, free to accomplish all that service for God which it has been trained for here. So when I leave this tabernacle in which I groan, being burdened, I shall not be unclothed, but clothed upon with my house which is from heaven; so on the Resurrection-morn I shall put on my garments of immortality, my new body made like unto the body of His glory, according to the mighty working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.'
LETTER TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE METHODIST CONNEXION:
BY THE REV. E. E. JENKINS, M.A., PRESIDENT OF THE CONFERENCE. MY DEAR YOUNG FRIENDS,
It is in my heart to address to you a few words at the beginning of the New Year, and as my voice cannot reach you, you must accept the remoter medium of the pen. Do not fear that this letter will be a sermon in disguise, a method of preparing for the taste what else would be disagreeable. Your good sense would not invite the artifice of a lesson sweetened for the palate; it will rather welcome the utmost frankness of expression. I will add that in this circular epistle I shall speak to all classes of the Methodist youth; the children of our families, of our schools, and of our congregations; both those who have united themselves with us in Church-fellowship, and those who belong to us by the associations of the sanctuary and by the circles of the home.
Let me say, in the first place, that the hope of Methodism is with you. As a Church, we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.' There are several reasons, other than those which I am anxious to enforce, why Methodism should live on in you, and not die with us. Many among you have had a Methodist ancestry, and will not be easily persuaded to snap in sunder the links of duty, of reverence, and of love, which, running back into your childhood, have fastened themselves to the earliest memories of home. But the consideration I wish to urge furnishes a stronger motive for adhering to Methodism than even the ground of family tradition. God has made us a people, and not we ourselves.' In the chief events of our history, the shaping movements of His Hand may be as plainly discerned as the skill of the potter when the lump gradually becomes a vessel; and we shall not venture to say to Him that formed us, 'Why hast Thou made us thus?' Without presuming to conjecture what may be the ultimate form which our Connexion is destined to assume, the Heavenly Voice that drew together the first Methodists is the same which made St. Paul a minister to the Gentiles: 'I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from
darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified.' * The signs that followed the work of Mr. Wesley and his companions as clearly indicated the divinity of their call as did the wonders which they wrought attest the mission of the Apostles. They not only converted multitudes from the error of their ways, and diffused a new family-life, but they changed the face of society throughout this kingdom. In the Churches a dead faith was quickened into life; in the nation public law gained more respect, and public manners lost much of their coarseness. It cannot be disputed that statesmen and magistrates have regarded Methodism as a new force of morality and order. We do not suspect that any change of outline into which the Methodist Church may grow can change our mission to the world. We still live to turn men 'from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.' The evils we were called to remove are still prevalent, and our numbers and organization make us more able to deal with them. For us to dissolve now would be to withdraw from the reforming agencies of the world one of its greatest remedial forces. The reason of our existence as a Church cannot be denied while there are people living without God and without hope. We are passing away, and the work of saving a lost world remains to be done; instead of the fathers must be the children; and the children must take up the work: if they leave it, the dishonour will be theirs: for 'who shall declare their generation?'
Let me caution you against the unbelief of the age. Do not attempt to flee from it: look at it steadfastly and it will flee from you. It assumes the aspect of science; but science is not unbelief; it is knowledge. There is a state of hesitation or suspense which is the natural temper of the scientific mind, and affords a kind of guarantee for the certainty of scientific facts. But this temper as a permanent habit has no business with morals and religion. To refuse to make up our mind to be godly because we are not satisfied with the alleged proofs of God's existence and of our own immortality, and to wait until death shall determine these questions for us, is absurd; for if it so happen that when we die, we live again, and stand face to face with God, we shall be convicted of the folly of not knowing Him Who really existed while we were doubting Him, and at a time when, above all others, it was necessary we should know Him. It is difficult to imagine that belief in God, and the conduct which springs from it, can have any place hereafter if they are not possible now. What is now called agnosticism is intellectual atheism. Let not your simplicity be ensnared by an unusual word. It is a very ancient form of ungodliness. David describes the jargon of the agnostic of his day: 'How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?'-What proof have we that the first cause is an intelligent and personal being? This non-belief has ever been associated and identified with a loose moral condition. You will hear it said that in many instances
* Acts xxvi. 17, 18.
the conduct of avowed unbelievers is irreproachable. But such conduct is not the fruit of unbelief; it is the result of the restraints of Christian institutions, and of the inheritance of Christian habits. Atheism has trafficked with the morality of theism; but has never herself originated a single moral lesson. The locomotive will run on the lines for a couple of miles after the steam has been shut off; but the steam which has escaped, and not the machinery, must be credited with the momentum. And if we all became atheists to-morrow, and the inspiration of faith were universally to die, we should still go on for a few years upon the smooth rails of Christian law and example by the sheer force of the life which has hitherto propelled us. But what becomes of Society when that force expires? Consider it deeply, that those laws of authority and obedience which give sweetness and reality to freedom, and which create the charm and security of English homes, are the offspring of that religion which taught us to bow our knees 'unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,' and that when you part with this religion, the surrender of everything in life which you deem most precious is only a. question of time. Look narrowly upon those faults that ruffle the quiet or blur the purity of home-life, and you will trace their spring to those dispositions which it is the mission of the Christian faith to check and exhaust. The sovereign remedy for unbelief is work. The religion that merely muses is apt to become sickly, because the most conclusive sign of its truth is found in its practical activity, in its fruits of goodness and help; and where this support is wanting, the mind is easily staggered by any 'wind of doctrine' that happens to sweep by. And how much work there is to be done, and how few there are to do it! The poor and the sick throng every path you tread; and in the enclosed ways and retreats of your own homes there will be an unceasing demand for the ministry of every faculty and grace you possess. Love will teach you the skill to relieve, and furnish you with the means to enrich, and this walking in the steps of Jesus will, more than anything else, make you conscious of the reality of His presence. Let me beseech you to devote yourselves to Church-work: much of it can only be done when we are young, and the doing of it is the best training for the future and heavier tasks of life. Sabbath-schools call for earnest teachers: neglected neighbourhoods for visitors: boys and girls, uncared for, are drifting into vice and ruin. Some of you have special abilities and opportunities for service in fields like these. Moreover, there are duties which you can undertake with more hope of success than older workers. We who have the authority of years may scold vice, and reason with it, and threaten it; but nothing subdues it like the beseechings of childhood, whose rebuke is innocence and gentleness. Rough and savage men will take off their hats to a girl-visitor, receive a book from her hand, or, better still, the word of Christ from her lips.
I shall offer no counsel here on the selection of books for study and general reading; nor in regard to amusements shall I attempt to discrim