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THE RESURRECTION.

Alexandria, VA., May 7,1873.

DEAR BROTHER WEEDON: - I was very much gratified to receive your letter of March 28, and to hear of your welfare, and also the welfare of your family. I am pleased to know that you have found brethren with whom you have fellowship, and with whom you can associate. All the subjects of grace in their experience agree that Christ is the life of his people, and that life is manifest in the calling of grace. It is one life embracing the head, body, and members of that body, which is the church, and individual believers. That life existed before its manifestation. All that is meant by eternal union is the life union of Christ and his people. This union existed before its manifestation. I am no stickler for the expression eternal union. It is an everlasting love-union none can dispute who are taught of God. The love of God to his people in our Lord Jesus Christ, is one. It is indivisible. Christ the life, spiritual life and immortality of the church is one, and it is indivisible. It is called eternal life. I could quote an abundance of the scriptures, but I think you understand these points. There is, really, no just cause for divisions, and sub-divisions, among the subjects of grace, and there would be none, but for the fact that certain bad men are determined to draw off disciples after them, and the flesh is always striving for the mastery. I make these remarks as you had occasion to speak of the expression, eternal union.

You wish for my views concerning the resurrection. There is a great deal of useless cavil on the subject. It is as much of a revealed mystery as any point of revealed truth. Paul’s natural mind did not understand it. He wrote by revelation on the subject. Aside from this we are lost in a sea of speculation, theoretical disquisition, and metaphysical reasoning. Salvation by grace is not understood by the carnal or natural mind. No part of revealed truth is comprehended by the natural mind. The resurrection is a mystery. I find lost in the contemplation of the subject. When I say lost, I mean lost in every sense, only upon the principle of what God has revealed. I dare not speculate. One thing is certain: Adam, when in the garden of Eden, to be a subject of the world of immortal glory, though not at that time a sinner, must have been changed from a natural man to a spiritual man, to have been an inhabitant of the world of eternal glory. Christ Jesus being a spiritual man, the Lord from heaven, a quickening Spirit, quickens and changes our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body &c. Thirty years ago I entertained the idea that the soul and body would unite in the resurrection. This idea came by tradition. Notwithstanding God’s great purpose of eternal redemption is accomplished in time, yet time is but a moment, the twinkling of an eye, with Jehovah. The mode of operation by which the body is changed and made spiritual, can only be comprehended upon the principle of the change wrought in every subject of grace by the eternal Spirit. Every seed produces its kind. Christ Jesus our Lord in his Sonship, as the only begotten Son of God, is the incorruptible seed of God. Sinners born of this incorruptible seed are manifest as the children of God. The spirit of adoption is in them, whereby they cry, Abba, Father. The adoption is the redemption of our body – as Paul says, speaking of the church in her collective body, meaning the natural body. It is changed from a natural to a spiritual body. As to whether the bones, flesh, and dust which compose the body, either before, or after decomposition, is to be raised or not, it is this vile body that is to be changed, or is changed. The change of the whole man, soul, body, and spirit, is distinctly manifest in the resurrection. The apostle spoke by the Holy Ghost, and his natural mind did not comprehend what he spoke, or wrote by the Holy Ghost. He says, “Behold, I shew you a mystery &c.” In the mystery of redemption, in the salvation of sinners in Jesus Christ, there is a great change in a deliverance from wrath and condemnation into the liberty of the sons of God. Paul calls it “glorious liberty.” The resurrection is a mystery. It does not yet appear what we shall be. Paul speaks of the resurrection in the future tense. It is in the future with the saints while on earth. Really it is not in the future with God. Time, from beginning to end, with God, is only a moment, to make the closest calculation we can make. All of our knowledge respecting the resurrection, is very much limited. Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. Paul in First Cor., chap. 15, speaks of the resurrection in the future tense, and it will always be in the future while the church is on earth, I mean that portion of the church which is on earth, for those of the saints who have departed are already in heaven, and with them the resurrection is complete. We deposit the bodies of our kindred in Christ in the earth. That is, all our eyes can see, our minds comprehend. With them mortality is swallowed up of life. We see no resuscitation of the dust. We hear no blast of the trumpet, nor see any change before our eyes. We are in time, they are in eternity. No future with them, but with us there is a terrible future. We hear his voice in the work of salvation, and we will hear his voice in death; yes, in the resurrection, but those around do not hear. The incorruptible seed, or germ of immortality, which is Christ, the word of God, and which is in the saints, swallows up mortality, or in other words, mortality becomes spiritual; that which is corruptible becomes incorruptible. There is no tangible change to be seen by our mortal vision, or senses. Enoch and Elijah, who never saw death, were translated; they disappeared from mortal view. There was a change, but it was mysterious. Moses died, yet on the mount of transfiguration he and Elias {Elijah} appeared and talked with Jesus. The penitent thief and out Lord expired on the cross, and after death they were in the hands of the Father. Christ’s body of flesh was raised on the third eventful morning, and his appearance to his disciples, with connecting circumstances in his ascension, was to establish the personal identity of our Lord, that he was risen from the dead and had ascended to glory. When mortality closes upon us, the resurrection takes place; time has gone forever; eternity with its awful realities is upon us, or we are in it. Time is only a moment, the twinkling of an eye, in the vast immensity of boundless eternity, and insignificant speck or atom of terrafirma in the shoreless ocean of a world without end. The incomprehensible mystery of the resurrection where it is said in John 5:28,29, “In the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth,” &c., presents distinctly the awful truth of a terrible change at that distinct period with every person covel with his death. The entrance of the wicked at the death of the natural body is into a state of damnation. The resurrection with the wicked is a living death, the state of being alive, or existing when alive in the midst of death, in the presence of a holy God of immaculate purity, where there is no world like this to hide them from God, as frail mortals here suppose they can be hid. The resurrection of life is the bringing into a state of perfect glorification in Christ Jesus all the elect of God. To resurrect is the resumption of life, and of course something is raised up. The mortal body of the saints is changed, raised up immortal, but in no way can it be known by our mortal senses. Only by faith we know it to be a mystery, but when it takes place it is no longer a mystery. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. By this we are to understand that we do not by our natural birth, or standing in Adam, come into possession of anything spiritual or heavenly, in any sense of the word. There must be a change of our vile body absolutely to a state of immortality. The change is experienced in the resurrection of every person, and a special happy change with the elect of God. The body of Christ deposited in Joseph’s tomb was raised, or removed, but none knew it but the disciples, and the women on that occasion. The last trump shall sound. The length and breadth of the gospel dispensation, though with us it may be thousands of years, with Jehovah it is only a moment. The trump is now sounding, and will continue until the last vessel of mercy is brought home to glory. As I have already expressed, it is always in the future with the saints while on earth, as it was with Paul and the church in his day. That future is the end of time with the church, and every individual member thereof. Seed must be put in the ground and die before there can be a crop of the same quality. Christ Jesus our Lord was made flesh, and in the flesh he died, and in his death and resurrection all the family of the Most High are made to appear. How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? The earthy is made to bear the image of the heavenly. They are raised up by the power of God, and appear like the glorious body of Christ, a body which our natural eyes cannot behold, nor our natural minds comprehend. The voice of the Son of God is heard in our experience when called by grace, and the same voice is heard when all that are in the graves shall come forth, &c. This voice is heard by every individual, first with the saints in their experience, and secondly in the resurrection. All that are in the graves presents the condition of death of our mortal bodies. They are resurrected, not in the sense generally understood, but in the sense Paul speaks of it as a mystery. We naturally look for something we can comprehend. We shall not all sleep, &c. Whether asleep or awake, or in other words, whether dead or alive, in a natural sense, the change will take place. Everything appertaining to eternal salvation is a mystery only as it is revealed. So is the resurrection. How foolish is speculation and theorizing on the subject. The labored effort that is made by our natural minds to comprehend the subject of the resurrection, exposes the weakness and foolishness we possess. We can have no proper view of it only by faith, and its revelation to our faith. The victory over sin, death, hell and the grave is through our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Christ dwells in his people by faith. They live by the faith of the Son of God. The common view of the resurrection is a myth. Sinners are saved, soul, body and spirit, in the work of redemption. The time of the resurrection, absolutely is now, but in the future with us while on earth. The past, the present and the future embodies the resurrection of the dead. Eighteen centuries have passed since Paul and the inspired writers testified of the resurrection. It is in the future with us. These fleshly bodies will never be reanimated with natural life, for if it was so we could see and understand a corporeal resurrection. But there is a change, a mysterious change, but we don’t understand it now. It will be known in the resurrection. When mortality puts on immortality, when this change takes place, then will be brought to pass the saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” The voice of the Archangel and the trump of God is heard, and the dead in Christ shall arise first. What does this mean? Why, that all the saints that have fallen asleep, and are falling asleep, are being resurrected before the period arrives when the mystery of redemption will be completed, experimentally and manifestly, and those who are alive and remain will be changed in a moment; in the twinkling of an eye. When Paul testified by the Holy Ghost of the resurrection, time receded from his view, knowing that a thousand years, or ten thousand years, was but a moment; space of time was obliterated, or blotted out; the whole family of God in heaven and earth was before him, and he spoke of the end of time, or the closing up of God’s purpose of redemption, as though he were identified in person with those who would be alive when the mystery of God is finished. “We which are alive, &c.” Our limited minds only superficially can view the subject here, for it does not yet appear what we shall be. When we leave this world we enter into an unknown country, so far as our natural minds can understand and know; but by faith we see things which are unspeakable, and produce exceeding joy, unspeakable joy, and fullness of glory. Aside from this we are lost in a labyrinth of entire oblivion. Only a portion of God’s glory can we see in the Lord Jesus Christ, compared with the fullness of the glory of the indivisible Godhead. The resurrection, what is it? It is changing the heirs of immortality – soul, body and spirit – into the perfect likeness of the immaculate Son of God. Everything mortal, natural, corruptible in our earthly existence, is made immortal, spiritual, incorruptible and heavenly, like Jesus our Lord. Sin and depravity, the temptations of Satan, and the shafts of the ungodly, will be done away forever. As we said before, we deposit in the grave the bodies of the saints, and of our fellow-creatures, and that is the last of mortality, the last we see of their flesh. Everything beyond this is unknown to our natural minds. It is eternity with the departed, and so it will be with us. There still remains a mystery in the resurrection, but those who have entered the shoreless sea or ocean of eternity, who are the redeemed of the Lord, shine as stars of the first magnitude with the glorious morning Star of our redemption in the firmament of our ascended Lord. The morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy. They are as the angels of God in heaven. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him; but he hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. We know nothing of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, the great mystery of the vital union of Christ and the church, and the mystery of the resurrection, only by revelation from God by the Eternal Spirit. These are the deep things of God.

I think I have comprehended in my remarks on the resurrection an answer to your enquiries. The views I have expressed are my understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning the resurrection. In the minds of some people, perhaps many, my views may be considered heretical, unsound and inconsistent. The awful magnitude of the subject, as I view it, arises as high above the common views of many people as the heavens are higher than the earth. I am lost in wonder, admiration and praise. If the dear saints would drop speculation on revealed truth, and receive the testimony of inspiration, through the teachings of the Holy Spirit alone, and let creeds and theories end forever, much more comfort, joy and peace would abound to the mutual edification of each other.

We are all in moderate health, and living comfortably. I continue to attend my appointments. I saw your father and other of your relatives last Thursday and Friday at Quantico. We had communion. Pleasant meeting. Write again soon. If my views on the resurrection do not meet your mind, give the reasons why they do not. My wife joins me in love to you and family.

Yours in gospel fellowship,
Joseph L. Purington.