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vanished from sight in a moment of space. At last it rose from the earth, as though seeking its native element, clear as light, buoyant and invisible as thin air. The spiritual body does not belong to that state of things which we see around us. It belongs to that spiritual world which is above us, and on the borders of which we now dwell, but which is governed by other laws than those by which the material world is regulated. It is a higher, nobler, better, brighter body than that which we have now.
And in nothing is its greatness more clearly seen than in its gift of immortality. The spiritual body is immortal and ethereal. It cannot ever die, for the Spirit of life is in it. It will be young for ever. It neither marries nor is given in marriage--for there is no need to keep up a chain of generations where life is everlasting—but it is as those Angels of God in Heaven, who are clothed in an evergreen youth and ignorant of all decay. It is powerful, it is incorruptible, it is glorious, it is celestial. The laws under which it exists are not the laws of animal life and of earth, by which all things ebb and flow, rise and fall, come and go, live and die continually. It exists by the laws of spirits and of Heaven; where change is not, though all is ever fresh; where all that is abides; where light has no shadow, and the day has no night, and where summer dies not into winter, and everything is bright for evermore. Heaven is its home, a throne its place of rest, glory its condition, eternity its duration, light its garment, life its inheritance, the Angels its companions, bliss its portion, and God its
III. So that these two bodies are very different, and the qualities by which they are distinguished are almost as opposite as light to darkness, or life to death. And yet they are related to each other in the closest and most intimate way. They are one body in two different states. St. Paul tells us that, “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” The natural body is the seed, the spiritual body is the crop. The natural body dies and is buried, and the spiritual body rises from the tomb and adorns itself afresh in robes of life. The natural body is now feeble, weak, poor, and subject to decay, but it is capable of being changed by death into a new and glorious body, through the power of the Spirit Who renews to life. “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” The two bodies are one and the same body, but the spiritual body is the old substance under a new form, the old limbs apparelled in new and heavenly garments, the old lamp now dark and unlit no longer, but bright with the effulgence of eternal fire. The natural body is that which now bears the image of the first Adam, and “is of the earth earthy;" the spiritual body is that which shall bear the image of the last Adam, and is “of Heaven heavenly.” The Spirit of God, Who hovered over the womb of the Virgin, and originated our Lord's body, broods with a regenerating power over the body of nature, and sows in it the seed of a new life. Thus the natural becomes the spiritual. That which is now corruptible puts off corruption, and is changed into the incorruptible. That which is now mortal puts on immortality and becomes immortal. The same original substance subjected to the Spirit's influence, passes into a new state and under new conditions. The old withered skin of flesh is laid aside ; the new and brilliant
. vesture of the Spirit is assumed and worn for ever.
And this great change is not less swift than it is glorious. A moment of time will suffice for its accomplishment. “Behold,” says St. Paul, “I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” In the case of that vast majority of the redeemed, who have died during the long ages which intervene between the going and the return of Christ, there shall be a rousing as from a deep sleep. Suddenly, when no man looks for it, they shall hear the voice of the Archangel, calling them, at dead of night, to rise out of their slumbers, and the trump of God, bidding them to put on their armour and go forth to meet the Captain of their salvation. In the case of that smaller number who shall be yet alive when their King shall appear for judgment, a change shall pass in an instant over their living limbs. But all shall be changed. The appearance of the Son of Man “in His glory, and all the holy Angels with Him,'' “coming in the clouds of Heaven,” shall have power to change them into His own brightness. First, the bodies of the saints which sleep shall be changed. “We who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. The dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
But though that is the time in which this great change shall be revealed, we are not to suppose that it is not going on now. The change is going on here while life continues, but its manifestation is delayed till death, the last enemy, is fully overcome.
The bodies of the saints are being now prepared for their home in Heaven. Now they are born again by the Spirit, Who changes their bodies by reviving and renewing their souls. Now they are being unclothed of sin and clothed in righteousness. The court dress which they shall wear in the presence of their King and Father is being made for them on earth and fitted to them, though it is only worn by them in Heaven. The brightness of that robe is too dazzling for the eyes of the flesh, and it is veiled from observation now, but it is lrere, though hidden, and they are learning how to put it on. This present life is their season of trial and probation, and here, though men see it not, they are learning to deck themselves in their marriage garments, that when the Bridegroom comes they may be ready to go out to meet Him, and to enter into the joy of their Lord. This present life is the seed time of eternity. According as we live in the body here, we fit our bodies for an endless life with Angels in Heaven or with devils in hell. Here we are made members of the second Adam in Holy Baptism, joined in soul with His soul, joined in body with His body, made “members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.” Here, having been incorporated into Him, we are invited to feed on Him, in the Lord's Supper, as the Bread of Life, “that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His Body, and our souls washed in His most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us." The change is going on here, while life lasts, in those who serve God; but it goes on below the surface. Sin is rooted out from the flesh. Righteousness is sown within every member of the body. The dispositions won by prayer, and by wrestlings with temptation, and by earnest efforts after holiness, are wrought into the countenance, express themselves in the features, speak by the tongue, shine upon the calm and steady eye, reveal their influence even in the motions and gestures of the body, though the change is not yet fully manifested. But when our Lord appears, it shall be as when a shower falls
upon seeds which are ready to break forth from the soil which covers them, or upon buds which are waiting to display their hidden beauty. The dead clods shall heave as with the throbs of life, and then the natural body shall become the spiritual body, and all the buds of life shall burst into the flowers of immortality.
V. How great, then, are these bodies of ours in which we now live. They are dust indeed, they are clay, they are mortal, they are corruptible. But they are the seed of a great harvest. They are the chrysalis which may yet awake from its sleep, and be changed into a spiritual body, capable of bliss, an heir of immortality. This body of ours, flesh though it be, is not to be despised as having no worth, or to be slighted as deserving no honour, or to be abused as a clog upon the soul, or to be squandered upon riotous and sinful living, as if fit for nothing but to be thrown to swine. It is honourable, for it yet may
It is beautiful, for it may shine as the sun in the kingdom of our Father. It is high, for it may fly on wings and excel the glory of the holy Angels. It is precious, for it was bought by Christ
wear a crown.