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1 Cor. xii. 27. "We being many are one body in Christ." Rom. xii. 5. “ But the body is of Christ.” Col. ii. 17. “ And he is the Saviour of the body.” Ephesians v. 23. “ For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Ephesians v. 30.
Thus the union of the body and the soul with Deity, is recognized by the word of God. And the deduction which it draws from the fact, is the urgent duty of cultivating the powers of the body, on religious principles, for the service of God. The exhortations which it consequently uses for this purpose are such as these " Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” ' i Cor. vi. 20. " Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor. x. 31. “Yield your members servants to righteousness, unto holiness." Rom. vi. 19. “ Christ shall be magnified in my body." Phil. i. 20. “ If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy ; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1 Cor. iii. 17. “Let not sin reign in your mortal body.” Rom. vi. 12.
If these precepts are obeyed, then follow the promises, given in connection. “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.” Romans viii. 11. “ Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Romans viii. 21. “ If ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Romans viii. 13. I leave this point of my subject in the forcible injunction of the apostle ; "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans xii. 1.
I have said that what is here taught in the Bible, is consonant with the observation of experience. Not to enter generally upon the copious subject of the influence of physical causes upon religious character, I notice only one of the prominent results, which daily appear in life. Is it not constantly seen, that the languid and sickly body gives its morbid impress to the religious character ? Does not the Christian oftentimes become dark and doubtful, when disease bows down his spirit? If this is so in the Christian, who
has, at some time, tasted that the Lord is gracious; how shall it be expected that the first influences of piety will take root in a weak and sickly soil ? There must be a balance of proportions, in the powers of the body and the mind, for spiritual life to germinate with vigor and activity. When the bodily powers are not developed, the mind is dim and liseless ; or if the spirit of such a frame is excited, it becomes uneven and tumultuous. The agitated mind can no more reflect the beauty of religion, than can the ruffled surface of the water reflect the starry heavens. There must be peace and calmness in the soul, for the Spirit of God to dwell in the affections of the heart; and this will more perfectly exist, with clearness of intellect and corporeal strength.
From what has been thus briefly noticed, is it not an apparent duty, to cultivate, to their highest excellence, the physical powers of the human frame, from its present connection with rational and spiritual life?
The powers of the body should be cultivated, because of its connection with eternity.
I apprehend that the body is not sufficiently appreciated in its relation to a future existence. Considered only in reference to this life, and as possessing in itself the elements of dissolution, and still more as being the instrument by which the soul stoops to sensuality, it may well be styled a “vile body.” But when the gospel is made to shine upon it, which has brought life and immortality to light, it assumes new features, and acquires new dignity. Even reason would suggest, that so noble a structure could not be designed to be destroyed forever, were it not that experience rises up with the assertion that every human frame shall moulder in the dust, and be scattered by the winds of heaven. Thus would reason and experience differ. But revelation explains the seeming contradiction, by unfolding the purposes of God and the destiny of man.
And what is the declaration of the gospel with regard to the present and future destiny of the material part of man?
Originally made upright, he fell from his high estate, and received the unalterable sentence, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” The seal which is here put upon his fate, because of his sinful nature, is reaffixed in consequence of actual transgression. “The wages of sin is death." “Death hath passed upon all, because that all: have sinned.” Such is the inevitable decree of the Almighty. But his purposes do not stop here—“As by one man caine death, by one came also the resurrection of the dead." “ As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The Saviour dispels the darkness which hangs over the grave, through which, nor reason nor philosophy could penetrate. Together with the death, therefore, the Holy Scriptures have fully revealed the certain resurrection of the body. The apostle to the Gentiles, in addressing the Corinthian church, and through them all who desire to love and serve their God, has not only declared and proved this all important fact, but has made it the foundation of most urgent duty. “ Be ye therefore steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that
labor is not in vain in the Lord.” But it may be asked, if the body shall die, and dissolve, what connection can it have with the future world, although there be a certain resurrection? In answer to this, let us take the train of observation made by the apostle on this subject : “ How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?” Learn from the seed which thou sowest. “ Thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain ; it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. But God giveth it a body, as it hath pleased him, to every seed his own body.” So with man, the body that shall be, shall hold the same relation with that which has been, as the plant to the seed which is sown. “ It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” But still a body-receiving its character and its figure—its faculties and its powers—its vigor and perfection-according as that which is sown is capable of germinating into more or less of spiritual excellence. Just as the plant shoots up into wheat, or some other grain, according to the seed which was sown. As the natural body is sown, so shall the spiritual body rise. If the Spirit of God has breathed upon it before it returned to the dust, it shall rise sanctified for the eternal service of God. And if this Spirit has imparted to it his holy influences, while it was expanding its powers, and has consecrated them to the service of God, making every member his servant, there is prepared a seed, rich and efficient, that shall spring up into full vigor in the life to come. The material body thus imparts its influences to the spiritual body, into which it springs, as its germinating principle. And thus the powers of the body should be cultivated, because of its relation to that body which shall never die.
This duty might be still further enforced, by following the anatomist, in his developement of the internal structure, or by tracing, with the moral philosopher, the more minute influences of matter upon mind. It might also be urged, in obedience to Him whose command is, “Be ye holy, as I am holy.” Or it might be exhibited, as appealing to that principle of our nature which prompts to sellgratification, by illustrating the personal benefits and blessings which would result from a performance of the duty. But enough has been said, to show that the cultivation of the body is a duty, and a great one, which cannot be omitted, without a loss of present and future happiness.
I proceed, therefore, to the investigation of the principles on which this culture is to be performed. In doing this, I wish not to lay aside the volume of inspired instruction, which I apprehend recognizes each part of ihe whole duty of man. There is nothing, which can be justly styled a duty, that the conscientious inquirer may not find discussed, or on broad principles provided for, in the word of God. The Bible is not, indeed, a system of physical education ; but it establishes holy principles, on which that education should be founded. Nor is it possible to direct the energies of the body to their legitimate objects, or bring its powers into full or perfect action, without an application of the principles which it inculcates.
In establishing the laws which govern the constitution of man, the Almighty has been pleased to unite ultimate happi, ness with present obedience. So perfect is this union of cause and effect, that even that which is decreed as the penalty of an evil nature, becomes not only berest of its poignancy, but the source of great enjoyment, when it meets with implicit compliance with divine commands. The threatened evil is averted, and love is substituted, when faith, leaning on God, is fruitful in holy obedience. It is as if “the Lord made bare bis arm," and stretched it forth in anger from the skies; but when the confiding subject approached in faith, he sees not the hand of just resentment, but reads Mercy written on the extended palm.
This tempered goodness reaches as well to the body, as to the mind. In this way, that first principle which meets us, as established by God in human culture, viz. that man shall labor for his subsistence, becomes subservient, when regulated by religious feeling, to the health and happiness of the species.
This principle of labor must be more fully noticed, as it is one of the most important in physical culture. In pronouncing sentence upon man, at his first dereliction, the Lord added to that of certain dissolution, the affecting penalty in this life, that “ by the sweat of his brow, he should eat of the fruit of the ground.” This is the foundation of human labor ; and hence springs the imperative necessity of exercise, as part of the very constitution of man.
It was consequently incorporated into the system of duties enjoined by God upon his peculiar people, and at last established by law upon the mountain, “Six days shalt thou labor.” “ The law was” thus " given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” This grace and truth it is, which takes off the grievous burden of the law, by laying it at the feet of him who has said, “ Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Religion not only makes the burden of labor tolerable, but so sweetens its endurance, that it becomes the source of great and permanent enjoyment. The importance of exercise, or labor, for the acquisition of health, or the attainment of happiness, is so universally acknowledged, that I need not stop to show the truth of the proposition, or the extent of its utility ; but proceed to illustrate the general mode and nature of its correct application.
One of the prominent laws of the animal economy is this : that the strength of an organ is increased by use. This is true of each separate system of the whole frame. The eye for instance, which, in early life, has not been faithfully applied by a healthy use, will lose its power, and prematurely decay. This result of disuse is in the function of the organ; but its effect is also apparent in the developement of its structure. A sightless eye in infancy, will not attain the size of the adult organ. But this law, which operates on all the other systems, is particularly applicable to the locomotive apparatus. It is here that it operates in all its force. Even the different parts of this system are strengthened, just as they are called into action. This is familiarly noticed in the strong muscles of the smith's arm, or in the untiring strength of the pedestrian's limbs, or in the whole frame of the sturdy farmer. The mighty results which are effected, by those