By Gabriel Conklin
The Warwick Association, convened at Brookfield, June fourth and fifth, 1845, to the churches of which she is composed, greeting.
Beloved in the Lord: - The subject chosen, upon which to dwell briefly in the present circular, is that of The Resurrection of the Body; and from the importance attached to this subject in the Scriptures, it is judged that none can be more interesting to the saints. It is not presumed that any thing new will be presented, and though it be a repetition of the old things said and recorded, it is believed that sufficient interest is taken in the subject by the children of God, to make it interesting to them.
That there will be a resurrection of the bodies, both of the just and the unjust, is made to appear so clearly by Christ and His apostles, that to dispute it, would seem to indicate a mind strongly imbued with skeptical principles. And though there is an admission of this fact, to a very great extent, by such as profess to believe in divine revelation, yet the question is frequently agitated, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” The great plainness of speech made use of in the Scriptures, would seem to leave little or no reason at all for the agitation of this question, by such as are taught by the word and Spirit of the Lord. And hence the apostle calls the man who starts the question “a fool,” – 1 Cor. 15:36; but at the same time goes on in a plain, simple, though forcible manner, to illustrate the subject and answer the questions.
To this illustration of the subject by the apostle in the first epistle to the Corinthians some attention will be given. A reference is made to the custom of sowing seed in the earth, or grain in the ground, and to the fact observable to all who notice the process of vegetation, that, that which is sown is not quickened (made alive) except it die. As our bodies die and are deposited in the earth, they are spoken of as being sown, &c.- The instruction given in this part of the illustration is, that, though the body dies, no obstacle is thereby thrown in the way of its being raised, the power of God being adequate to the performance of this work, but rather that its death is indispensably necessary in order to its being raised; that it is a resurrection of, or from the dead. Again, in reference to sowing seed or grain, the Apostle observes; and that “which thou soweth, thou sowest not that body that shall be,” &c. From which declaration it may have been supposed, that the body sown in the grave is not the same body that is brought forth in the resurrection: to this point, in the illustration, special attention is invited.
It is true, that in sowing grain in the ground, we do not sow that body that shall be, or that we reap or expect to reap; but this has reference to either quality or quantity, or both; yet though we reap a body ten or twenty fold larger that that we sow, as it may please the Lord to give the crop, or the body, the same grain as to kind and substance that we sow, we reap; that is, if we sow wheat we reap wheat, and hence the expression of the Apostle, and to every seed his own body. Again, “thou sowest not that body that shall be, &c., indicating not only that the body that shall be, or the body reaped is larger that that sown, but as a matter of course of more importance – more valuable &c. The lesson taught on this point of the illustration is, that the same body that is sown in the grave will be brought forth in the resurrection; and as the body deposited in the earth, is spoken of as being sown and thus represented as seed in this matter, every seed will have his own body in the resurrection. Again, that the same body is raised that was sown, yet an important difference is manifested in the body as sown, and as raised; as important as is the difference between corruption and incorruption – between mortality and immortality – between natural – and spiritual – between sin and holiness; so that there is a peculiar fitness and aptness in the illustration in the Apostle’s language. “And that which thou soweth, thou soweth not that body that shall be,” &c., the body as sown, as a grain, is vastly different from the blades that spring up, and the strength of its vigor; for it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power, it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is not intimated that the dead body, or body as sown, (although represented as seed,) possesses in itself a principle of germination as does the grain, but that in the resurrection it is brought forth by the mighty power of God, according to the Scriptures.
In further illustration of how the dead are raised up, and with what body they come, the Apostle speaks of flesh; that all flesh is not the same flesh; that there is one kind of flesh of men, another, of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds; by which we understand that, although there be different species of flesh, yet they are all and each a fleshly substance; and that each kind possesses a bodily form. From which we learn that although our bodies are sown in corruption and raised in incorruption, are in their resurrection, as in their being sown, a fleshly substance; yet, as before remarked, differing essentially in honor, glory, beauty and excellency; in these respects they are not the same.
Again, the Apostle speaks of celestial (or heavenly bodies,) and of bodies terrestrial, (or earthly.) The idea is, although they be celestial or terrestrial, heavenly or earthly, they are nevertheless bodies or substances whether they be sun, moon, stars, earth, or things of earth; so the human body, whether as sown in the earth, or as brought forth in the resurrection, is verily a body, not a spirit without a body. But as the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another, and as there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, and even between the stars there is a difference in glory, one star appearing larger and brighter than another; the moon still larger and brighter than the stars, and the sun still larger, outshining and eclipsing the glory of the whole, so that by reason of its superior glory, the others have, comparatively, no glory; so also is the resurrection of the dead. There is a glory in the creation and formation of our bodies, being the creation of God; yet being under the sentence of death in consequence of sin, they are said to be sown in dishonor, but raised in glory. The glory of the bodies of the saints as sown is one, and the glory of them as raised, is another. The Scriptures seem to set forth a glory attached to the bodies of the saints here, although sinful and sown in dishonor, not only as the creation of God, but also in that they are made the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and are declared to be members of Christ. 1 Cor. xv. 19th. But the glory to be attached to them hereafter is greater, so that the glory of the first is lost; it is no glory comparatively; it is completely eclipsed by the glory in the resurrection as is the glory of the moon and stars by that of the sun. The Apostle, having gone through with his illustrations and references to the grain, the variety of kinds of flesh, the celestial and terrestrial bodies, sun, moon, and stars, their differences of magnitude and glory, goes on to assert in positive language, that he had just been illustrating;
First, declaring the design of his references by saying, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” It is sown in corruption; it, (the same that is sown,) is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. Here the Apostle asserts the identity of that which is sown and that which is raised, again and again, in his use of the person pronoun, “it.” He also as frequently and as fully asserts the difference, the vast superiority in beauty and glory of the bodies of the saints; )for it is them he has specially in view her,) as raised from the dead, to them as sown in the grave. As incorruption, immortality, spirituality, and glory excel corruption, mortality, and sin, so will the bodies of the saints, in the resurrection, excel them as deposited in the earth.
An important lesson is taught on this subject, and much instruction given in the Scriptures when speaking of the resurrection of Christ. That He possessed a literal body, in substance and fashioned like our own, is certain; for He was “found in fashion as a man, and was made in all things like unto His brethren;” a partaker of flesh and blood; verily, and truly a man, yet, holy, harmless, and undefiled and separate from sinners; and after He had risen from the dead, He told His disciples to handle and feel of Him; for a spirit “hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have.” The same body that lay in the tomb arose; it could not corrupt. A body like our own may exist free from sin, incorruption and undefiled; such shall the bodies of the saints be in the resurrection.
God has said to His people, that He would “quicken their mortal bodies and raise them” in the image of Christ. They shall therefore be satisfied. It is enough – “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness,”
A word in regard to those that are “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.” The Apostle says, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and the last trump: (indicating a continuous trumpeting until the last note is sounded,) for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raise incorruptible. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; and we (that are then living,) shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality;” so that the bodies of the saints, whether asleep or awake at the coming of the Lord, shall be made to possess the image of the heavenly; and thus the Apostle asserts that, the Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.
As it is not judged expedient to make our Circulars very lengthy, much that might be said on this subject must be omitted; a few remarks more will close this epistle.
“And why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead?” Will not the same power that formed our bodies out of the dust of the ground and breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, be sufficient to raise them up from the slumbers of death? Shall not that voice that said, “Let there by light,” and there was light, - That voice that said to Lazarus, “Come forth,” and he came, be heard and obeyed, by all the dead? “The hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves, shall hear His voice, &c. – John v, 28. If God has decreed and declared it, who shall disannul it? “He that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies. - Romans viii, 11. Again, “And God hath both raised the Lord, and will also raise up us, by His own power.” – 1 Cor. vi, 14. Dear Brethren, God will raise the dead, both the just and the unjust; for He has said it; and as His saints have borne the image of Adam, the first man, the earthy, so they shall in the resurrection, bear the image of the second man, the Lord from heaven, the heavenly. The wisdom of this world or human philosophy is foolishness with God, and should be with us, in this matter.
Written by Gilbert Beebe
The Warwick Baptist Association, in session with the church at Brookfield, Orange County, N.Y., June 4 and 5, 1845, to sister Associations, Corresponding Meetings, Churches and brethren, of the same faith and order, with whom she corresponds, sends Christian Salutation.
Beloved Brethren: - As ever onward rolls the wheel of time, we witness the astonishing developments of the purpose of God, both in regard to His church and her enemies. His distinguishing grace, discriminating love, and sovereign favor, are displayed in preserving, defending, and comforting His people; and as the presence and form of the Son of God was displayed in the midst of the burning furnace with the Hebrew children, so also in the midst of the furnace of afflictions in which He has chosen His people, it is His gracious pleasure to reveal Himself as a Refuge in distress, and very present Help in trouble.”
May we ever realize our privilege to look to Him for support, and be enabled to renounce every other refuge. The powers of darkness are at this time greatly agitated, and that Wicked, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all signs and lying wonders; with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, is with bold and heaven-daring enterprise against the cause of Truth and Righteousness, filling up the cup of their abominations and, unconsciously fulfilling the predictions of the Scriptures concerning them; not only in relation to themselves, as, waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, but also in the bearing which their opposition to God is made to exert upon the people of God. They are God’s hand and His sword, - Psalm xvii, 13th., in all that they are permitted to inflict upon them; and so we have truly found it during the last twenty or thirty years. Their bitter and unremitting persecution of the saints has also served to dishearten those who once held a nominal standing among us, and so has aided in separating from us those who esteem the treasures of Egypt higher than they do the afflictions to which the children of God are subject. God, in the plenitude of His wisdom, has been pleasured to lay trials and sore afflictions upon His chosen ones, and to withhold the special outpourings of His Spirit for the ingathering of His redeemed which the church has been wont to receive at His hand, and He has caused all these things to work together for the accomplishment of the same object. He will thoroughly purge His floor and gather His wheat into the garner, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire. The unusual commotions which at this moment agitate the world, both in church and state affairs, however dark and mysterious they may look to us, shall assuredly be overruled so as to promote the declarative glory of God and also the good of His people. Although the time may not be far distant, when the fires of persecution shall be lit up even in this country, and under the sanction of our civil government, yet we do feel assured that the little flock of Jesus shall have grace given her equal to her necessities; and weak and feeble as we may feel ourselves to be, we shall be made conquerors, and more than conquerors, through Him that has loved us, and given Himself for us.
His tried almighty arm is raised for our defence;
Where is the power can reach us there, or what shall drive us thence?”
We have been refreshed by the coming of your messengers and the reading of your letters, and we earnestly desire a continuance of Christian correspondence with all Old School Baptists who are like-minded with us.
You will see by our Minutes, that the churches of this association have agreed to abolish the constitution and all formalities which in any wise implied that, as an association, we are, or claim to be a body or standing organization independent of, or aside from the churches of which we are composed. The following are among the reasons assigned, viz:-
Our first and principle reason is, because we can find no scriptural authority for any religious body or society with a constitution or organic form, other than or distinct from the church.
2. We have failed to discover the utility of constitutional forms, in protecting our faith and order from innovation: but we have witnessed the introduction of heresy and confusion under the cover of constitutional provisions. Churches, the most corrupt and unsound have frequently sent in the soundest kind of letters, and generally have managed to retain their standing in the association because we had no constitutional power to remove them.
3. We do not believe that the annual or other meetings of churches or brethren require rules for government which cannot be found in the New Testament.
Last, but not least, we believe that the most effectual barriers we can raise against innovation from, and intercommunication with the camp of the aliens, is to divest ourselves of all unscriptural elements and adhere to them as the only rule of our faith and practice.
Gabriel Conklin, Moderator.
Gilbert Beebe, Clerk.
Transcribed by Stanley Phillips – May 2009