THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.

“BROTHER BEEBE: There are three or four designing men in Middle Tennessee, who have created considerable excitement on the subject of a non-resurrection. They have charged the Richland Association with denying the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.

“I have been a member of this association for the last eighteen years, and I know that it believes the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and of a general judgment. It denies the resurrection of flesh and blood, and contends, for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and all his saints, spiritual, in his likeness, as John says. – 1 John iii. 2. I send you a copy of faith in all the leading principles of the gospel, as they present an abstract of our principles.

GEORGE R. HOGE.”

IT has been and still is our desire, so far as possible, to avoid unprofitable agitation of subjects which in our judgment have a stronger tendency to excite discussion than to edify, comfort and instruct the people of God. And although we consider the resurrection of the dead inferior in importance to no part of the gospel of God our Savior, we have feared that the manner in which some brethren have seemed disposed to discuss it, is calculated to gender strife and discord, rather than to result in the peace of Zion and the glory of God.

The letter of Elder Hoge which will be found above, states that the Richland Association of Tennessee has been misrepresented on the subject, and asks the privilege of explaining the real sentiments of that association. He has also sent us a copy of the minutes of the association, containing an “abstract” of their doctrinal sentiments, in which they say, item 10: “We believe in the resurrection of the dead, and general judgment.” This expression undefined, we presume would be satisfactory; but as brother Hoge adds, “She denies the resurrection of flesh and blood,” we conclude that the most of our readers will consider such a denial as equivalent to a denial of the resurrection altogether, and a justification of those who have so charged that association. We will not attempt to define what is intended by their profession of faith in the resurrection, nor of their repudiation of its application to flesh and blood; or what our brethren of Richland believe will be raised up at the last day; whether soul, body or spirit. If they only intend to say that all the relationship between the saints and Adam, or human nature, ceases with the death of these mortal bodies, and that the resurrection shall bring them forth as a production of the quickening Spirit of God, in the same manner that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, we see no cause for controversy; for such we presume to be the general view held by Old School Baptists on the subject. But if such be their intention, we think they have not been sufficiently clear in defining their position.

By the reference made to 1 John iii. 2, we are inclined to believe our brethren hold with us that the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord Jesus Christ is an exemplification of the manner and nature of the fine resurrection of the bodies of the saints. In his resurrection he became the first fruits of them that slept, consequently the certain pledge that all his people shall in like manner be raised up in that hour in which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life eternal, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.

Many idle and vain speculations have been resorted to by multitudes at sundry times, in attempting a philosophical solution of the resurrection of the dead, but all philosophical solution of the resurrection of the dead, but all philosophy must forever fail when applied to the things of the Spirit of God; as we Old School Baptists hold the things of the Spirit to be known only by revelation, not by science; rules therefore which will apply to natural things cannot apply to spiritual things. To us it seems quite inexpedient to say that flesh and blood will not arise, as many would be led from that expression to suppose that the identity of the bodies of the saints in the resurrection was denied; which must be equivalent to a denial of the resurrection altogether. For if the bodies of the saints are raised from the dead at all, there must necessarily be a preservation of identity; and if the bodies of the saints are not to be raised up, what is to be raised? Not the soul, or spiritual man, for that cannot die, cannot be committed to the grave; and in the resurrection, all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth to the resurrection of life eternal, or of damnation. There can be no two ways of understanding Romans viii. 11. But if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwelleth in you. The term mortal cannot apply to our spiritual life, as that is in no sense mortal, nor can it apply to any other part of us than that which came under the sentence, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Some have said that flesh and blood shall not arise, but flesh and bones shall arise; and this view they have attempted to sustain, first, because it is written that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” – 1 Corinthians xv. 50; and second, because that Jesus had shed all his blood when he was crucified, and it is supposed that his risen body contained no blood. These two, we presume, are the strongest arguments used by the advocates of the theory. But let us examine them. Does Paul say that flesh and blood shall not be raised up? or that they shall not after the resurrection inherit the kingdom of God? By no means. Let it be remembered Paul speaks in the present tense, cannot; and for the same reason that corruption cannot inherit corruption. The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, and our flesh and blood in their present state, and relation to Adam, and to the law, are corrupt, depraved, diseased, mortal and natural. But in the text our brother has referred to, (1 John iii. 2,) we are assured that when Christ shall appear, we shall be like him,&c.; and Paul in the text quoted, (Rom. viii. 11,) has told us how: “He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal bodies.” If then we can know how Christ’s body, in which he suffered death, was raised up, we shall also know how our mortal bodies shall arise. And of his resurrection we can trace a few very important particulars. And first, we observe, though he was put to death in the flesh, we understand that his relation to the law, which he assumed by being made of a woman, was finished. He died as the Son of man; as the Son of David; as the issue of Judah; being put to death in the flesh; but he was quickened by the Spirit, or begotten from the dead as the immediate production of the Spirit, and was thus declared to be the Son of God with power. “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” is applied to the resurrection of his body from the dead, and not to his birth of the Virgin Mary. So to be like him, the same quickening Spirit that now dwells in the saints, by which they were regenerated, and which raised from the dead the crucified body of Jesus, shall also, that is, in like manner, quicken our mortal bodies. In which quickening the saints shall arise, so far as relates to the bodies, in a new relationship. As in the resurrection of Christ his risen body stood no longer related to the fleshly stock of Abraham, Judah or David, so in the resurrection, the saints shall be released from all relationship to those who are now their kindred after the flesh; not to be known in the resurrection as Gentiles or Jews, as male or female, as married or as given in marriage, as parents or as children, but simply as the sons of God. The notion of some that parents are waiting now in heaven to embrace their children, husbands, wives, &c., is altogether unwarranted by the faith and testimony of the gospel. The immediate relationship which we stand in to each other here belongs only to our time state; but all that relationship must be dissolved. We shall be begotten from the dead immediately by the Spirit, as independently of our present carnal relationship as though we had never sustained such relation to Adam. In the resurrection of Christ the identity of the body was preserved. “I am he that was dead, and am alive,” &c. That Jesus whom John saw in his risen and glorified body was the same that had been dead. The identity must have been preserved to fulfill the scriptures. His flesh should not see corruption; and what he had given as a sign of his Messiahship. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up; the sign also of the prophet Jonah must have failed if the same body which suffered on the cross has not arise from the dead. His Godhead did not die, nor could his soul cease to exist. His Mediatorial Headship of his church could not expire. But it was that wherein he was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, &c., and that which died arose from the dead. So when the saints are called hence their spiritual life which they received in regeneration does not die; their quickened souls do not die; but their bodies, even their mortal bodies, die; and those same bodies shall arise in like manner as the identical body of our Lord Jesus Christ which had been crucified did arise, bearing the prints of the nails and the place of the spear. A further definition of the identity to us seems superfluous. To talk of the particles of the flesh, the composition of the bones, to philosophize upon the subject, is as extravagant as to attempt to harmonize natural philosophy with any other part of divine revelation. We admit that all the blood was drained from the veins of the body of Jesus; but that is no evidence that his risen body contained no blood; for the fact is quite as apparent that all the life of Jesus was taken from his body contained no life. Such vain speculations serve only to gender strife and contention, and to divert the mind from a spiritual to a carnal train of thinking.

While thus we contend that the identity of the bodies of the saints shall be preserved, even as we have proved that the identity of Christ’s body was preserved, we also hold, and firmly believe, that the change which the apostle speaks of in 1 Cor. xv. shall also be gloriously realized by all the saints. The body in its time state is weak, it is sown in weakness, but it shall be raised in power. Now it is corrupt, but it shall be raised in an incorruptible state, and death shall be swallowed up in victory. It is now in a state of dishonor, but it shall be robed in immortal honor; it is now a natural, earthly, Adamic body; but in the resurrection it shall be a spiritual, heavenly body, standing in the same relation to Christ as it now stands to the old Adam. That law which remands our bodies to the dust has dominion over our mortal bodies so long as they remain this side of the resurrection of the dead, but when they shall be raised up from their graves they shall be free from the power and dominion of that law. For the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have much more to say upon this interesting subject when opportunity shall serve. We have offered the above remarks, not to provoke controversy, but because there are, as we have strong reasons to fear, many dear brethren whom we love in the Lord, who seem to indulge a sort of speculating spirit on the subject; we desire not to kill or wound them, but if possible to admonish them in the spirit of the gospel.

With regard to those passages on which brother Hoge has desired our views, we will, so far as ability is given us, attend to his request soon.

New Vernon, N.Y.,
November 1, 1846

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 695 – 701