|Vol. VII, No. 4
Tamuz 5609, July 1849
The Literal First, And Then The Spiritual;
Proving Which is True, Judaism
The whole foundation and strength of the Christian religion depend upon one of these two things or systems, whether the spiritual is first, and precedes the literal, or whether the literal is first, and precedes the Spiritual.
It will at once be seen, that upon this most important decision depends the truth of Judaism, or the truth of Christianity.
Christians asserts, that, about 1848 years since, the kingdom of God, or the fifth kingdom of the stone mentioned in the Daniel ii.34, was set up, and that this kingdom was, and is the <<193>> spiritual kingdom of Christ, consisting of "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," (Romans xiv. 17); The Jews assert that this is impossible, as everything proves and bears evidence that the spiritual cannot precede the literal, in the establishment or setting up of any kingdom upon earth; and that the literal must first take place: and until it does, the literal predictions of all the prophets can never be fulfilled.
But the Christians assert, that Christ set up and fulfilled the spiritual part first, and that too 1800 years and more ago, and that he will perform the literal part at his second coming.
Now any person can clearly discern, that if the first system be founded in truth, Judaism must inevitably fall and Christianity must prevail; but if the last position be true, Christianity must inevitably fall and Judaism must inevitably prevail.
We will first take the Christians' own testimony, (Paul,) as they cannot reject that; he testifies in I Corinthians xv.46: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; (i.e. literal), and afterward that which is spiritual."
And we all see that, in the creation of man, God first "formed the body of man of the dust of the ground," and afterward "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," (see Genesis ii.7,) or the spiritual.
Just so with the creation itself; God first created the heaven and the earth, (see Genesis i.1,) and afterward "the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (see Gen. i.2); and we can clearly see this truth in the fact, that first the body of man, the literal, comes into this world without knowledge and understanding; and afterward his mind and understanding are formed, through the means or medium of the five senses, by which ideas, or the image or representations of things, are conceived and conveyed to the mind; this is the way all our* knowledge of things is obtained. Deprive any child of the five senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling, and that child must for ever remain not only deaf and dumb, but without all understanding, so long as ever these mediums continue closed.
Look at the body of man, (of a little child when first formed,) it remains entirely unconscious, and a nonentity, until objects or <<194>>things first strike or form its mind: then knowledge is formed, then memory and understanding.
It is so with everything that is known to us; first the body, or literal is formed, or organized; then a corresponding spirit, or the spiritual, is begotten, entirely dependent upon, and in accordance with the peculiar form or organization.
For instance, if we form properly and correctly the body of a whistle, it will whistle, and be a whistle—so with a rattle, and so with an organ—so with a piano—so with a galvanic battery, and so with the body of a man.
The literal must always be first, the attendant spirit, motion and sound, are always dependent upon the form and construction of the body upon upon the spirit, or spiritual; hence we see everything that is first, is literal or natural, and "afterward that which is spiritual."
Were it not that a steam-engine, when properly constructed and arranged in all its parts, would afterwards possess all the spirit and power of steam, the formation and organization of its material parts would all have been in vain.
Just so with the coming Kingdom of God; for no sooner will God have created the material body of creation in a higher and in a redeemed substance, and arranged it perfect in all its parts, and so with the body of man, than immediately afterward, and not before, will there enter that holy, harmonious, and redeemed spirit, as is declared by all the prophets of God, to the utter confusion and confounding of all the priests and enthusiasts,* who have ever put the spiritual before the literal,—and in so doing, the "cart before the horse" hundreds and hundreds of years before ever the literal appeared, or was so formed or organized as to make it any way possible for the right spiritual or spirit to be retained and continued in a right corresponding literal or body.
Does not every day's experience continually show it and prove <<195>>to us, that it is our fallen and corrupt bodies, that are ever bringing into bondage and corruption our best desires and resolutions, and confining them and subjecting them thereunto?
And who does not know if any part of our body is decayed—the lungs, for instance, gone, or the intestines mortified, or the blood-vessels ruptured—death most certainly follows? and if the brain be much injured, the mind is gone, and we are idiots, showing plainly that life is dependent as well as mind upon the body, and not the body upon life, at least in this order of things.
These truths cannot possibly be spiritualized away or evaded, for Paul, Christians' own testimony, (and they cannot deny it,) declares that the "invisible things of him (God), from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead," (see Romans i.20); mark, things that are made are not to be understood by the "invisible," or by the spiritual, but right the reverse; this is very important, indeed, and shows that even all that we have "understood or known," is dependent upon the literal, "things that are made;" and let me repeat it, for upon this absurd spiritual system being first, rests the whole strength of Christianity.
It is now admitted by all hands, at least by those that are the most enlightened, by being the best versed in the prophecies, that nearly all the literal part of them remains yet unfulfilled. And when we ask any of the spiritualizers when and where this and that prophecy was ever literally fulfilled, they invariably answer, O that was fulfilled many hundreds of years back, when the spiritual kingdom of Christ or God was set up. But let such know that the spiritual kingdom of God, for which we pray, is to be as literal as any of the four kingdoms of Daniel is that precedes it. What would we think of a spiritual kingdom of Chaldea, or of Media, Persia, or of Greece, or of Rome, and that too, many hundreds of years before they ever existed in place, literally together with all those attendant circumstances that were necessary to form them into a visible kingdom? Did you ever hear of a spiritual kingdom of England, or republic of America, existing many hundreds of years before ever either of them existed literally or visibly?
The first thing that is requisite is place for a kingdom, and then <<196>> subjects, or a people; and then, and not till then, will there be a wise and good, or else an unwise and bad spirit to influence and rule the subjects or people, just in proportion as there are right laws of government, and in proportion as men obey and are subject to these good and right laws.
The false and absurd idea of a spiritual existence in the abstract, that is, separate from the body, and before its corresponding body many hundreds of years, as the Christian's spiritual kingdom of God professes to be, is too foolish and unfounded to merit a moment's serious consideration.
Were it not that darkness and gross darkness covers the people, as Isaiah declares in chapter lx. 1, 2, and its consequent blindness had fastened these ideas upon the minds of the people, it would be thought the fullest evidence and most certain proof of insanity.
Every spiritual function and property of the mind depend upon the body; for instance, we are made visible or manifest by our bodies; we can be only seen by our having a body. We can only see by the eye of the body. We are only made manifest and known by our respective bodies; our identity is known and dependent upon our bodies. Our soul and life are dependent upon the power of our receiving bread and water, &c., through our bodies, without which we should soon die, and life would be extinct. Our bodies are all that make us distinct and separate from other bodies and spirits. By our bodies we alone perceive, receive, and conceive; and it is our present impure bodies that connect them with this present impure earth, and that influence, mould, and constitute the state of our thoughts and minds. Give any person a perfect and pure body, and an imperfect thought or idea could not dwell in it. But while we have our present bodies, our thoughts, ideas, and conceptions, are always dependent upon, and effected by, and in correspondence with the imperfect medium, the earthly body through which they have to pass, and by whose life they are sustained. As I have shown before—just as the formation, organization, and construction of any body is, just so will be the spirit that will influence and govern that body; and will most certainly constitute it, according to that formation and organization, either a whistle, a rattle, an organ, galvanic battery, a man or an angel.