DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: – I find from various communications in the Signs, that Elder Goldsmith (as touching the resurrection of the body) has been differently understood. Some have understood him as denying it, at least by fair implication, while others do not so view it. I confess myself among the former, and if I have misunderstood him, I have misrepresented him, having without reserve expressed my opinion when called on. I therefore feel myself called on to state the ground on which that opinion was founded, and am sorry to say that I have seen nothing as yet to alter it; if I had, I should take must pleasure in acknowledging my mistake than in giving it a place in my mind. If the subject in view involved nothing but a mere matter of opinion, you would not be troubled to file my objection. I have frequently seen opinions in the Signs to which I could not subscribe, but regarding them as bare matters of opinion, I am willing to award to others a right I claim myself; but I do not so view the doctrine of the resurrection of the body; I cannot class it among those things on which a difference of opinion may exist, without involving the important question of fellowship; I may in this be regarded as weak and fastidious – well, be it so, I shall neither be mortified nor offended at being thus regarded – while enjoying a consciousness of contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, for which (I trust) I feel a good degree of willingness to suffer the the loss of all things.
But to the matter in hand. In Signs, vol. ix., page 108, we find the following query, “Is not Elder T’s notion that the spiritual seed is to have a natural body, or their old body of dust re-animated?” by spiritual seed I understand Eld. G. To mean the children of Christ; by their old bodies of dust the bodies they now inhabit: and, as he considers the re-animation of these a notion of Elder T., we may fairly conclude that it is not his notion. But if these old bodies of dust are not to be re-animated in the resurrection, will those brethren who take a different view from ours, and who have at least indirectly answered us, (in doing which I have not the least disposition to question the purity of their motives, nor do I feel the least symptom of unpleasantness towards them for so doing,) tell us what kind of a resurrection we shall have? Will our bodies be raised inanimate? If so, I can have no particular pleasure in contemplating the event: for if inanimate, they will be insensible to happiness, and might as well be left in their graves, as to any advantage they will derive from the change. Take a dead body from a dunghill and place it in the most splendid palace, and it will remain insensible of the change. But what says Paul? “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.” Rom. viii. 12. Your MORTALbodies, – what bodies are these but the bodies of dust we not inhabit? – and these very identical bodies are to be quickened; and if quickened then re-animated. Here we see that their quickening or re-animation, (which is a synonymous idea) is inseparable from the resurrection, – and if Elder G. does not deny their resurrection in the above query, I confess myself incapable of drawing the plainest conclusion from the plainest premises.
Again, Signs, vol. x., no. 5, 1st page, after reasoning to a considerable length on the body, Elder G. comes to the conclusion that the only difference between him and others is that he things they are derived by birth from Christ, while others think that they are derived from the dust. But, by the way, I disclaim the idea of a derivation in the case: it is an idea we have never advanced, and that we do not believe, that the glorified bodies of the saints will be derived from their old bodies of dust, but they will be identically the same bodies, though changed, i. e. changed circumstantially though not substantially. I am aware that the idea of derivation has been advanced, that is, that new bodies would spring up out of these old ones; but it has not met with countenance from old fashioned Baptists.
But to the point, and that is, to what conclusion are we to come from Eld. G.'s own words, but that the bodies of dust are to be left in their graves, and that the glorified bodies of the saints are to spring from another source? Mark his words: I think they are derived by birth from Christ, and others they are to be derived from the dust. Now is not the idea that the dust will not be raised plainly conveyed in these words? I do not wish to put a wrong construction upon them. God knows that I do not wish to misconstrue Elder G. or any other man, even the worst enemy I have in the world, much less one between whom and myself there exists (to my knowledge) none other than feelings of friendship.
In vol. x., no. 11, 1st pg., Elder G., after acknowledging a resurrection, suggests some difficulties on the subject, and wishes to know in what state are Enoch and Elijah. In Heb. xi. 5, Paul tells me all I want to know about Enoch: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God.” I am free to admit that if the position assumed by Elder G., (on which his query rests) were correct there would be a serious difficulty in the way. The truth of the above declaration is called in question; and if one positive declaration of the word of God is to be called in question, with the same propriety all may be. But let us examine the reasoning of Elder G. on this point. 1st. It seems evident that there is no entering into the glorified state of the kingdom of God, but by the resurrection from the dead. 2d. No man can be raised from the dead except he first be dead. Now, according to this reasoning, Enoch cannot be in a glorified state now, nor never can be: for it is positively said that he shall not see death. It is not unfrequently the case that men in attempting to sustain a favorite hypothesis, assume positions as evident, without attempting to fortify them by one solitary proof. In I Cor. xv. 51, Paul says, Behold I shew you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but shall be changed, &c. Sleep in the connexion certainly means death, and of course the saints will not all die. In I Thess. iv. 15, 17, this subject is most clearly illustrated: For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be cause up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord. Now what becomes of Elder G.'s evident propositions? They are exploded by the touch of truth. And the difficulty falls to the ground, while Enoch and Elijah are singing the praises of God in heaven, in the enjoyment of glorified bodies, without seeing death.
Cooch’s Bridge, Del., Aug. 4, 1842
Signs of the Times.
Volume 10, No. 18.
September 15, 1842