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Here and Hereafter

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    3. — IDENTITY IN THE RESURRECTION

    But it is objected that, from the standpoint of the unconsciousness of the dead, a resurrection is impossible; for if a person ever ceases to exist as a conscious being, the reorganization of the matter of which he was composed would be a new creation, but not a resurrection. It is sufficient to say a reply, that continued consciousness is not necessary to preserve identity of being. This is proved by nearly every member of the human family every day. Did the reader ever enjoy a period of sound unconscious sleep? If so, when he awoke, how did he know that he was the same individual he was before? How does any one know, after a good night’s sleep, that the is the same person that retired to rest the night before? — Simply because his organization is the same on awaking that it was when he became unconscious in sleep, and his consciousness, through his mental organization, is resumed. Now suppose that during this period of unconsciousness, while the soul itself (if there is in man such a distinct entity as is claimed) is also unconscious, the body of a person could be cut up into innumerable fragments, the bones ground to powder, the flesh dissolved in acids, and the entire being, soul and all, destroyed. After remaining in this condition a little time, suppose all those particle could be put back again substantially as they were before, the general arrangement of the matter, especially of the brain, the organ of the mind, being identically what is was; and then suppose that life could be imparted to it again, and the person be allowed to sleep on till morning; when he woke, would he be conscious of any break in the line of his existence? Any one must see that he would not. Being organized just as before, his mind would resume its consciousness just as if nothing has happened.HHMLD 224.2

    So with the dissolution of death. After its period of unconsciousness is passed over, in the resurrection the matter necessary to the new body is reorganized and rearranged essentially as it existed in the person at the moment of death, and it is then reanimated; then the line of life is taken up, and the current of thought resumed just where it was laid down in death, it matters not how many thousands of years before. This the power of God can do; and to deny this is to “err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” In this way we can have a true and power resurrection, a living again of the whole person, as the Bible affirms. On the supposition of continued consciousness, this is impossible; for in this case the real man lives right on, the body, which the Bible makes of so much importance, being only the garment with which it was temporarily clothed; and in this case the resuscitation of the body would not and could not be the resurrection of the man.HHMLD 225.1

    It is further urged, by way of objection against this view of the resurrection, that if persons come up in the resurrection as they went down in death, we should have a motley group, bloated with dropsy, emaciated with consumption, scabbed, scarred, ulcered, maimed, and deformed; which would be both unreasonable and disgusting. And this, it is claimed, is a necessary consequence from the view that the same body is raised that went into the grave, and so far reorganized according to its previous arrangement as to constitute identity of being. But when we speak of the rearrangement of the particles of the body, is it not evident to all that there are fortuitous and abnormal conditions which are not to be taken at all into the account? and that the essential and elemental parts are only to be understood? Who would imagine that the body might not differ in the resurrection from what it was before, as much, at least, as it differs at one period in its earthly history from its condition at another, and yet its identity be preserved? But we are sometimes in health, sometimes in sickness; sometimes in flesh, and sometimes wasted away; sometimes with diseased members, and sometimes entirely free from disease, — and in all these changes we are conscious that we have the same body. Why? — Because its essential elements remain, its organization is continued, and the mental organs, the source of consciousness, remain. Whatever change can take place in our bodies during our earthly life, and our identity be continued, changed to the same or even a greater degree may the body be when raised from the dead, and yet it be the same person. But a missing member might be instantly replaced, a diseased limb healed, the consumptive restored to the bloom of health, or the body, swollen with dropsy, reduced to its natural size, and the individual still be conscious that he was the same person.HHMLD 226.1

    It is said still further, by way of objection, that the matter of one body, after being decomposed by death, is absorbed and taken into other bodies, and becomes constituent parts of them; so that at the resurrection the same matter may have belonged to several different bodies, and cannot be restored to them all; therefore the doctrine of the “resurrection of the body” is unphilosophical.HHMLD 227.1

    As set forth above, it is not here contended that all the matter of which a body is composed at the moment of death must be restored to constitute that resurrection “of the body” of which the Scripture speak. Unessential changes may take place, involving the larger proportion of the material. But identity must be preserved; and this can be done only through consciousness and the power of memory, without which all past life, and even a previous existence, would be a blank. But the power to go back in memory over a past life is possible only because that portion of the brain through which memory is exercised, has experienced the changes and received the impressions of that life. In no other way could that brain matter be brought into the condition it is in at the moment of death; and no other brain matter but that would produce the consciousness of that past life. Thus every man’s identity is preserved. This much is essential to the new body. It is peculiarly organized by the experience through which it has passed; and that same matter and that identical organization being restored, the individual is conscious that he is the same person, whatever other changes in his system may appear. New matter could not be taken and organized into these memory cells in a new being, so that the new-made person would be able to look back over a past life, and think he had lived that life when he had not; for “God cannot lie.”HHMLD 227.2

    The question now before us is how the future life, passing over the time between death and the resurrection, is connected with the present life so as to be a continuation of the same. At the moment a person loses consciousness in death, he can look back and remember the events of a past life. He can do this through the power of the mind, which is dependent on the action of the brain, and particularly that portion of the brain in which resides the power of memory. Memory can thus assert its away only because that brain matter through which it is exercised has been brought into a peculiar state of organization or condition essentially its own, by the experiences through which it has passed on the plane of this life. Any other brain matter to be identically the same, must have been brought through the same process. This is why no two lives will ever clash, because God has not seen proper to give two individuals the same identical experience any more than the same identical countenance.HHMLD 228.1

    Now is it not evident that, at any future time, the same matter brought back into the same condition and revivified, will resume its consciousness just where it was dropped, run back over the same track of memory, and thus connect the future life truly with the past? This is all that will be required; but the amount of matter necessary for this operation is very small compared with the entire body; and there is no liability if its ever becoming inseparably mingled with any other matter, and no possibility of its ever becoming an essential part of any other being. Thus the objection arising from the supposed confusion of matter in the resurrection, vanishes entirely away.HHMLD 228.2

    But as all vital phenomena result from organization, and the matter of which the body is composed consists only of certain chemical elements, the question may arise why the same chemical elements, without reference to to the previous body, put together, or reorganized in the same manner, would not be all that is necessary in the resurrection, or to constitute the resurrection. Largely this would be very true. One limitation only would seem to be necessary; and that is that that portion of the body through which consciousness and memory had been exercised during its earth life, should enter into the new body. And why this necessity? — Because no such matter elsewhere exists in the universe, inasmuch as this matter has been brought into the condition it is in, only by the experience through which the body has passed; and hence without this matter, identity of organization would be an impossibility. Therefore the Lord could not take, at random, a sufficient amount of chemical elements, for instance, for two bodies, and organize them precisely as two other bodies had been organized as they went down into the grave, and giving them life, thus cause two individuals to think that they had lived lives which they had not; or, organizing them precisely alike, cause two individuals to think they had lived the same life, which they had not; for the Lord will keep himself within the absolute bounds of truth. He could, of course, if he saw fit, cause two individuals to live identically the same life; and then, in the resurrection, they would have identically the same organization, and be able to look back over a life identically the same, which would all be true if each had lived that life, but not otherwise. But this the Lord has never done, and therefore each one’s life in the resurrection will be identically his own.HHMLD 229.1

    That such part of the old body is necessary to the new, to preserve continuity of consciousness and memory, is made necessary in view of the statements of the Scriptures, which show that when the dead are raised, they must come from certain definite localities. Thus Isaiah says: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust,” etc. Isaiah 26:19. “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” John 5:28. And the prophet, doubtless referring to the resurrection, records the words of the Lord, as follows: “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 43:6. And in the last gathering to the Judgment, it is said that “the sea gave up the dead which were in it.” Revelation 20:13.HHMLD 230.1

    Now why call the dead out of the graves where they have been buried; why from the north and the south; and especially why from the sea, if the bodies can all be made up together from chemical elements found in common in any convenient locality? But more than this, why not form all the bodies necessary from better material up in heaven, and save the trouble of coming down here to form the bodies out of earth’s poor elements, and take so great a multitude of bodies back to heaven? A few angels only would suffice to gather the righteous living.HHMLD 230.2

    It is the resurrection of the body of which the Bible treats, It knows no other. In 1 Corinthians 15:35, 36, Paul asserts an obvious fact, that nothing can be quickened (revived or resuscitated, as from death, or an inanimate state. — Webster), except it first die. To talk of a quickening or making alive of that which does not die, or of a resurrection from the dead of that which does not go down into death, is richly deserving of the epithet which Paul there applies to it.HHMLD 230.3

    And what is it that shall be quickened in the resurrection? The word of God replies, This mortal body. Romans 8:11: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Again, in verse 23, Paul says: “Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” And in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is as explicit as he well can be on this subject. Verse 44: “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” What does he mean by the natural body, and by its being sown? — He means the burial of our present bodies in the grave. So he says, in verses 42, 43: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it 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.” What is sown? — The natural body. Then what is raised? — The very same thing. IT is sown; IT is raised, — raised in incorruption, in glory, in power, a spiritual body. Raised in this manner, the natural body becomes a spiritual body. Why? — Because the Spirit of him that raised up Christ quickens, resuscitates, or makes it alive again as Paul wrote to the Romans. Should it be said that there is a natural body and a spiritual body in existence at the same time, we answer that, according to Paul, that is not so. He say (verse 46): “Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” In verse 49 he says we have borne the image of the earthly, and we shall bear (future) the image of the heavenly; and this will be when this mortal and corruptible, which is this mortal body, puts on incorruption (verse 52, 53), or is clothed upon with the “house from heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5.HHMLD 231.1

    To the Philippians, Paul testifies again on this point: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” This language is explicit. A change is to be wrought in the vile, mortal, or corruptible, body of this present state, not a spiritual body released from it, which never sees death and needs no change; and the change that is promised is that this body, taken as it now is, is to be fashioned, changed over, into the likeness of Christ’s glorious, immortal body.HHMLD 232.1

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