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Saffron-Walden, July 5th, 1828. MY DEAR BROTHER, 'In my approaches to God in prayer, and especially when I have seasons of more than ordinary union and communion with Him, I urge my plea for a brother whom I dearly love. I had such a season on the 2nd inst. My mind had been much impressed with the two following passages : “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will ”; and, “ Be filled with the Spirit.” I copied these words out, and placed them where they would be almost continually before my eyes, that they might remind me of the purpose which I had conceived : to "pray without ceasing" for their abundant fulfilment, in my own ex. perience....I am privileged to draw upon the bank of heaven to an infinite amount, How great may my possessions be! The honouring of these two bills, which I am now presenting to the Divine Majesty, will enrich me more than if I were entitled to draw on an earthly bank to the amount of millions, because here are the “ durable riches." At another time, when meditating on the words : The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams," my mind reverted to you ; and I prayed, "Give him to feel, O Lord, what I now feel of Thy transcendent excellency, Thy inexpressible tenderness and love!" Well might the poet write, when spending a night on the Alps :
“By me, when I behold Him not,
Or love Him not when I behold,
My pulse stand still, my heart grow cold ;
On yonder cliff my shape be seen,
December 31st, 1828. DEAR SIR, 'I know it will afford you pleasure to hear that we enjoy this winter what we have not been privileged with for several years past—uninterrupted tranquillity in our Sabbath-evening meetings ; and that some who were disturbers now attend our services with becoming seriousness. What a contrast between last Watchnight and the one we hope to spend to-night! I well remember then beholding, from the window of the room in which I was compelled to remain as an invalid, quite a crowd of persons who had evidently come to disturb the worship ; but I now calculate upon spending the last hours of the departing year with a quiet solemnity suited to the occasion. O that we may be enabled to view our life in the solemn reality of its brevity and importance !
"Every moment brings us near
Vast Eternity's frontier ;
'I remain, etc.,
"H. E. WEBSTER.' (To be concluded.)
THE GLORIFIED BODY OF OUR LORD:
BY JAMES HAMILTON, AUTHOR OF • THE STARRY HOSTS,' 'ANIMAL FUTURITY,' ETC. How unlike is Christ's 'glorious body' to poor human nature as we are accustomed to behold it! And yet, amid all this glory and majesty, Christ's humanity is not obliterated. “I saw,'says John, 'one like unto the Son of man.' That is the first touch in the description, for that was the first impression made upon the Apostle's mind—that Christ still was man. The human identity was there, mysteriously but unmistakably blended with all that is glorious and Divine. It was Christ's glorious body which John was privileged to behold.
The fact may thus be taken as indisputable that our Lord's human body is now glorified. But at what period did this wonderful change take place ? On this point two opinions have been held, each beset with its own peculiar difficulties. Let me state briefly these two opinions, and the difficulties by which each is encompassed, and then see if I can contribute anything towards a reasonable solution of the question.
The first theory is, that Christ's body was glorified at the time of His resurrection. The obvious difficulty inseparable from this view, is to explain Christ's subsequent fleshly appearances. If He was glorified at His resurrection, yet He showed Himself afterwards to His disciples, and they recognized His familiar features. Not only that, but to convince them that He was not a spirit, but real flesh and bones,' He invited them to handle' Him. On one occasion at least He ate with them, to remove any lingering doubt as to His true physical identity. How would all this comport with the idea that He had at those periods really assumed the glorified body ? Such are the difficulties that pertain to the idea of our Lord's being glorified on rising from the grave.
The other, and only alternative, is to hold that He was glorified at the time of His ascension. This view effectually disposes of the difficulties to which I have referred. There would, then, be nothing remarkable in our Lord's appearing after His resurrection, for His body had undergone no change as yet, that change being reserved for that eventful day in Bethany when He was parted from His disciples, and went upward in a cloud. But if this view disposes of one difficulty, it raises another. If Christ retained the fleshly body till the period of His ascension, the difficulty then is to explain where He spent and how He employed the interval of forty days between His resurrection and His ascension. And this is no chimerical difficulty. A mystery evidently hangs over the period between His resurrection and His ascension. It is clear that He did not go in and out with His disciples as formerly. He appeared to them but very seldom, and always but for a short time. He presented Himselt, too, always suddenly and mysteriously, and as suddenly and mysteriously withdrew. No man now asked Him, •Where dwellest Thou?' for His nearest friends seemed to feel that the
fleshly bond of union with Him was dissolved, and that He was no longer a citizen of this world. Such facts seem to favour the opinion that from the time of His resurrection, notwithstanding His occasional appearances here, He must have been in a glorified state. Thus we see that those who hold that His ascension was the time when the natural body was transformed into the spiritual are surrounded with difficulties, as well as those who believe the great change to have occurred when He burst the bands of death, and rose triumphant from the tomb.
Which of these views is the correct one I regard as no vain enquiry. Everything connected with the Saviour, and especially everything connected with His humanity, possesses the highest interest. But apart from this, I think we should better realize the fact of His glorification, if we could fix the time of it. And to feel that we have a peculiar interest in realizing that fact it is only necessary to be reminded that so surely as He was glorified so shall all His saints, and after the same manner that He was glorified so shall they be; for He 'shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.'
Of the two hypotheses which have been stated, I incline to the first, that is, that Christ assumed the “spiritual' or glorified body at the period of His resurrection. I am thus placed under the necessity of explaining, or at least in some degree accounting for, His fleshly appearances after His resurrection. It is not, of course, to be expected that anything like a demonstration on this point can be furnished either from reason or Scripture. It is enough if any reasonable supposition can be advanced, calculated to reduce the difficulty to a minimum, or even show the view I espouse to be more reasonable and credible than the one to which it is opposed.
The supposition which I would put forward to meet the case is this : that the glorified body is endowed with the capacity of transforming itself at pleasure into the natural body, and indeed of assuming any form or appearance that
be desirable. That this is not a mere gratuitous invention may appear when we look at the matter a little more closely.
On different occasions when Christ presented Himself to His disciples after His resurrection we have the striking intimation that the doors were shut.' Now there can be no doubt that it was His fleshly body in which He appeared; but how could His fleshly body gain an entrance when the doors were shut and secured ? Nothing is easier than to suppose a miracle to account for such a phenomenon ; but perhaps it may be even doubted whether such a miracle as this would not be in the nature of the case inconceivable, But the difficulty disappears if we suppose that Christ had now assumed the spiritual body, that He entered the room in that spiritual body to which bolts and bars would be no impediment, and that then He assumed the fleshly body by which alone His friends in the flesh could recognize Him. This would account both for His apparently miraculous entrance, and the suddenness of His appearance, and, of course, equally for His sudden disappearance, when the fleshly body changed again into the spiritual and was lost to sight.
And these corporeal manifestations were fully justified by the objects to be attained. The disciples were disconsolate and spiritless, and ignorant how to act, as well as inclined, no doubt, to lose faith in Him Whose separation from them was so ill-understood as yet; and nothing could cheer and direct them like the presence and instructions of their risen Lord. And especially was it necessary that He should appear to credible witnesses and verify the reality of His resurrection for all time. But I take it that the natural body was assumed only for such occasions, to be changed' back again into the ethereal organ when the earthly interviews were over. I think it likely, moreover, that such transitions were effected not by virtue of our Lord's Omnipotence, but simply by the exercise of a function natural to all spiritual bodies. This may appear more probable from what I shall advance shortly. Of course, we can never understand the mysterious capacity by which such transformations may be effected, till our own bodies are changed' from the natural' into the spiritual.' Then, however, we may find such transitions to be as easy, as natural, and as rapid as those of thought.
Specially illustrative of this view was Christ's appearance to the two disciples going to Emmaus. To put Himself in communication with those disciples He assumed the natural body for that special occasion ; for as soon as the object of His interview was served, “He vanished out of their sight.” (Luke xxiv. 31.) I can conceive of no explanation of that wonderful transaction so probable as that Christ was then in a glorified state, and that in vanishing out of sight He simply transformed the natural body—assumed for that occasion—back again into the spiritual.
Equally instructive, as I understand it, was our Lord's transfiguration on the mount. The glorious appearance which He then assumed corresponds wonderfully with His after appearance to John in Patmos. On the mount · His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.' (Matt. xvii. 2.) After His ascension, when seen by the beloved disciple,
His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. Now, as this last appearance was that of His glorified body, so, I believe, His appearance on the mount was that of His body glorified. In order to establish a natural medium of communication between Himself and those heavenly visitors who came to speak with Him of His coming decease, it was necessary either that they should assume a fleshly body like His, or that He should assume a spiritual body like theirs. Otherwise, except miraculously, there could be no vocal communication between them. But I think it more reasonable to suppose that there was no miracle in the case, * nor yet that any special radiance was then
* It is obvious to remark that our author's hypothesis necessitates a double miracle : first, the temporary spiritualization of the body of Christ ; and second, the visibility to eyes of flesh, of the three spiritual bodies, those of our Lord and Moses and Elias. Besides, the radiance of our Lord’s body eclipsed that of Moses and Elias ; and His raiment also was dazzlingly luminous. We read nothing of the effulgence of the bodies of Moses and Elias.-EDITOR,
shed down upon Christ from on high, but that His body simply assumed, for that occasion, the glory into which it was afterwards permanently transformed. It becomes thus easy to believe that all spiritual bodies may possess the capacity of changing their form or appearance as occasion may require.
The same probability is illustrated by the visits of angels. The spiritual bodies which we may suppose those beings to possess, must be endowed with functions and capacities of which we have hardly any counterpart in this life. "Ministering spirits' as they are they must, for instance, have the power of flight in a degree far exceeding our conception. Gabriel, on the occasion of his visit to the prophet Daniel, traversed the distance from heaven to earth in a few minutes. Now it will be clear, on very slight reflection, that the body-form and substance—which would serve Gabriel for such a journey, would be quite unsuitable for his interview with the prophet. Hence we must believe that those organs by which he touched' the prophet and spake with him must have been assumed for the occasion, for they would be incompatible with the rapidity of his previous flight.
We have many accounts of physical succour being bestowed by angels, and in such cases they must assume physical organs. Our Lord Himself, after fasting in the wilderness, was ministered to by angels, whose principal duty was to bring to Him the food He required—a physical act. Again, when His bodily frame was borne down by the mental agony He suffered, there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.' When such material services are required, we must believe that the fine, invisible organisms of angels are changed for the time into grosser but more serviceable vehicles, for the relief of our grosser necessities. On other occasions angels were entertained by men, and we may
be sure they were very human in appearance ; for we are told that thus 'some have entertained angels unawares. It was so with Lot, when two of them feasted with him, and abode with him a whole night. The same two angels had previously eaten and conversed familiarly with Abraham. It cannot be Supposed that the bodies in which they thus appeared were exactly the same, either in functions or form, as those they wear in heaven. However useful such fleshly bodies may be on certain occasions, angels could not be the ministering spirits' they are, if they still retained such bodies. We must believe that they are assumed, naturally and easily, for special occasions, and as naturally and easily transformed again into their native ethereal substance.
Such bodies may be' spiritual' in the sense in which Paul uses the word : 'a spiritual body.' He does not mean, nor do we mean, that such bodies are immaterial, for then they would not be 'bodies’ at all.
But they may be celestial, refined, invisible organisms, so far removed from the nature of our fleshly bodies as to be fitly described as 'spiritual.' The angelic hosts that surrounded Elisha were no immaterial phantoms, when they were invisible to all but himself. When Elisha prayed that the eyes of his servant might be opened, then he also saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire.' Those fiery hosts could soon have taken more tangible forms, and