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feem a more difficult work for the Almighty) to mould the human body into its present admirable texture and compofition, than to recall it from its state of difperfion, in the appointed season of his Providence.
But this comparison, it may be imagined, is not exact: the perished body resembles not a machine, merely disjointed and taken to pieces. Its parts lose their tone, and alter their whole form and texture. It rather resembles fuch works of art, as, by a total decay of perishing materials, become in time incapable of restoration. But this is a vulgar prejudice. Not a single particle of matter can perish.* The mafs may be continually altering and varying its forms, to answer the purposes of nature,
* Lucretius with his usual exuberance of fancy, beautifully illustrates this observation, and concludes, Haud igitur penitus pereunt quæcunque videntur: Quando alid ex alio reficit natura, nec ullam Rem gigni patitur, nisi morte adjutam aliena. Lib. I. 263.
but not a single átom can be lost out of the world, but by the power of God, who is the fovereign disposer of the whole, in all states and changes...
To be sure, the parts of dead bodies are fometimes difperfed far and wide through the creation, mingled with all the elements, and blended and incorporated with other bodies. But this cannot frustrate or obstruct the purposes of a Divine Agent, whofe knowledge pervades all nature, and whofe power knowcth no refistance. · Every thing lies naked and open in his fight, and is perfectly subservient to his command. His eye attends, and his hand difpofes, every particle of matter in all its revolutions and ftages of transmutation. And it is easy to conceive, that such a Being will rather prevent all such changes in the course of things, as tend to defeat his purpose, than finally fuffer his promise to fall to the ground.
The doctrine of the resurrection, I
am sure, is not as amazing, as the unbelief of a rational creature, having an opportunity, every day of his life, of observing so many similar instances of Divine Power, in the common appearances of the material world. When you look at a caterpillar, upon the first view you can hardly think, that such a crawling infect, loathsome, and hideous to the fight, should, in a certain time, become a new creature of distinguished rank and order. * Attend him a little longer, and your disbelief increases. He
. * For the information of some readers, it is necessary to observe, that many genera of flies pass through three states, the first of the worm or maggot, the second of the nympha or aurelia, and the third of the fly or papilio. In the nymphal state the animal makes a fhell of its own kin, which hardens and becomes brown or reddish, while the whole of its body becomes detached from it; and, after having lain some time in form of an oblong ball, apparently without sense or life, and without any visible parts of the future creature, acquires by degrees the form of a Ay and all its limbs, Supplem. to Chambers. Article Nymph. And what is still more curious, the real Aly, or higher nature, was secretly contained all the while in the two subordinate stages. See Article Feve.
feemingly loses all sense and motion : he falls into a torpid state - And yet, behold, a few days past, he really rises a beautiful winged creature, magnificently arrayed in colours, beyond the tints of art: the study and admiration of the curious. Look at the face of things in the cold inanimate state of winter. It is all one vast waste : all things lie blended in confusion : fruits and flowers no longer preserve their diftinctions: what the industry of man fows, seems loft and overwhelmed in the general wreck : such vegetables, as require not human culture, have given their feeds to be the sport of winds, and they seem totally lost amidst the ruins of nature-But, behold again, the Almighty Ruler sends forth the genial breezes of the spring : nature starts, as it were, from sleep: earth resumes its verdure: and fruits and flowers spring up in all the richness of colours peculiar to their respective fpecies.
We, poor short-sighted creatures, fee nothing wonderful in this change. It is a fight quite familiar to us : the seafons revolve in regular succession : and we are taught by experience to wait for their stated returns. And yet, in fact, there is nothing more in the future renovation of man. This fpiritual revolution, though flower, yet is as certain, as the revolutions of the natural world. At present we fall into the dust; and there we lie in one promiscuous mass, blended and undistinguished-But when the arch-angel of him, who hath ordained the vicissitude of seasons, gives the fignal for the revival of man; then, where is the wonder, that mankind Thall also start up in their proper forms, and persons, to answer the purposes of his moral Providence ?
Here is no difficulty, but what we create to ourselves. We cannot conceive, that there can be a proper resurrection, unless the fame exact quantity of matter,