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that which he delivered unto the Christians, (I Cor. 11, 23) also states: “The Lord is a spirit" (II Cor. 3:17.)
I am well aware that the Latter-day Saints interpret those texts as meaning a spirit clothed with a body, but what nearly the whole of mankind, Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans, have believed for ages cannot be upset by the gratuitous assertions of a religious innovater of this last century. Again, the context of the Bible admits of no such interpretation. And if anyone should still hesitate to accept the universally received meaning of the word spirit, our risen Savior settles the matter. As his disciples, upon first seeing Him after his resurrection, were troubled and frightened, supposing they beheld a spirit, Jesus reassured them, saying, "A spirit hath not flesh and bones as you see me to have (Luke 24:37-39.)
2. Another very strong and explicit statement is: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona (son of John] because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in Heaven" (Mat. 16:17.) As Christ has asked, “What do men say the Son of man is” (Mat. 16:13.) There is an evident antithesis and contrast between the opinion of men and the profession of Peter which is based upon revelation. The striking opposition between men, flesh and blood, and the Father, evidently conveys the sense that God hath not flesh and blood like man, but is a spirit.
3. That God is a spirit is proved, moreover by the fact that he is called invisible in the Bible. All material beings are visible. Absolutely invisible beings are immaterial or bodiless: God is absolutely invisible, therefore God is immaterial or bodiless.
Moses' uns! ken faith thus described by St. Paul: “He was strong as seeing him that is invisible” (Heb. 11:27.)
“No man hath seen God at any time” (1 John: 4:12.)
"The King of kings-whom no man hath seen nor can see." (I Tim. 15:16).
In the light of these clear, revealed statements, how shall we explain the various apparitions of God mentioned in the Bible? Tertullian, (A. D. 160-245), Ambrose (330-397), Augustine (354-430) and other Fathers, whose deep scholarship is acknowledged by Protestants and Catholics alike, inform us that God the Father is called invisible because He never appeared to bodily eyes; whereas
the Son manifested Himself as an angel, or through an angel, and as man after His incarnation. He is the eternal revelation of the Father. It is necessary to remark that whenever the eternal Son of God, or angels at God's behest, showed themselves to man, they became visible only through a body or a material garb assumed for the occasion (See Cardinal Newman's "Development of Christian Doctrine,” 9th edition, pp. 136 and 138.)
I am well aware of St. Paul's, “We now see as through a glass darkly, but then face to face” (1 Cor. 12:13.) “In Thy light we shall see light (Ps. 35: 10.)
The first and chief element of the happiness of heaven will consist in the beatific vision; that is, in seeing God face to face, unveiled as He really is. The "face to face" however is, literally true only of our blessed Savior who ascended into heaven with His sacred body. Otherwise, as God is a spirit, He has no body and consequently no face. In paradise, spirits (angels and our souls) see spirits. We shall see God and angels, not with the eye of the body, nor by the vibrations of cosmic light, but with the spiritual eye, with the soul's intellectual perception, elevated by a supernatural influx from God. As in ordinary vision, the image of an object is impressed on the retina, so in the beatific vision, the perfect image of God will be reflected on the soul, impressing on it a vivid representation of Him. We shall thus enjoy an intellectual possession of Him, very different from our possession of earthly things.
4. That angels as well as God are bodiless beings, is also clearly proved by Holy Writ. To which of the angels said He at any time: "Sit on my right hand till I make Thy enemies Thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" (Heb. 1:13, 14) Again, “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness" (Eph. 6:12).
Could plainer words be found to teach that angels, both good and bad, are spirits, devoid of bodies? Now, the Creator is certainly more perfect than His creatures, and pure minds are more perfect than minds united to bodies (men). ["'The corruptible body is a load upon the soul, and the earthly habitation presseth.
down the mind” (Wis. 9:15.) "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (St. Paul).] Therefore, the Creator is a pure spirit.
5. It is a well known fact that all men, after the example of the inspired Writings, make frequent use of the figure called anthropomorphism, attributing to the Deity a human body, human members, human passions, etc.; and that is done, not to imply that God is possessed of form, limbs, etc., but simply to make spiritual things or certain truths more intelligible to man, who, while he tarries in this world, can perceive things and even ideas only through his senses, or through bodily organs.
That even the Latter-day Saints thus understand such expressions is evident from their catechism (chapter 5: Q. 9). Yet it is from certain expressions of the same inspired Book that they conclude that God has a body. Now I contend that, if we must understand the Bible literally in those passages (God created man in his own image, (Genesis 1:27, and Genesis 32:24, etc., and Exodus 24: 9, etc.) from which they attempt to prove that God has a body, we must interpret it literally in other similar passages: so that if Moses, etc. really saw the feet of God (Exodus 24:10), then we must hold that the real hand of God is meant by David in (Psalm 138) (Hebrew Bible Ps. 139; 13: 9; 9; 10). "If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” And as the Psalmist says also: “Whither shall I flee from thy face? If I ascend into heaven, thou art there; if I descend into hell, thou art there" (Psalm 139: 7, 8). Have we then according to “Mormon" standards, not the right to infer that God has such a long hand as to extend to the uttermost parts of the sea, and such an extremely long face, reaching from heaven to hell? To this, I am sure, even the gloomiest Protestants would object. By the way, should we not also conclude that David had wings? (“If I take my wings early in the morning, and fly,” etc.) unless we admit that the royal Prophet anticipated our modern scientists, the Brazilian Santos Dumont, Professor Zahm of Notre Dame, Ind., etc., in experimenting with flying machines.
6. A sixth proof of the truth that God has not a body, and therefore is not an exalted man, is the fact of the incarnation of
the Son of God. The "Mormons” admit that Jesus Christ is the Great I Am, (from all eternity to all eternity) therefore, God (Doctrine and Covenants section 39). By the by, I see no mention of this fundamental Christian truth of the incarnation, in the sacred books of the Latter-day Saints, not even in their catechism. Yet what is more capable of winning cold hearted, careless people to the love of God than the exposition of this mystery which has been hidden for ages and generations, but now is made manifest to his Saints: (Col. 1:26) “God so loved the world as to give us his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish but may have everlasting life" (John 3:16.)
So the "Mormons” admit that Jesus Christ is God for all eternity. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ became a man at a specified time; therefore, Jesus Christ, or God, was not man before that specified time.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1: 1-14.) It is plain that the Son of God became flesh only at the time of his sojourn on earth Now, had he been flesh, or man, before, as “Mormons” hold, how could he become what he was already from all eternity? No; not from the beginning of the world, but only now once, at the end of ages, He (Jesus) hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of Himself. When He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast fitted to me." Then said I: "Behold I come” (Heb. 9: 26 and 10: 5, 7.) "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form (nature, glory, majesty) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (deemed it not fitting to assume to His human nature the glory and majesty due Him without labor and suffering) but emptied (stripped) Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men and in habit (in his whole exterior) found as a man (Philip. 2: 5,) etc. Again: "In Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporally” (Col. 2: 9.) Had God a body (Latin corpus) what sense would there be in St. Paul's corporally, or bodily? All save "Mormons," understand St. Paul to mean that in Christ the true God manifested himself in the flesh,
or as man.
“Because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner hath been partaker of the same, that through death He might destroy him who hath the empire of death. For nowhere doth He take hold of the angels, but the seed of Abraham, He taketh hold; wherefore, it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto his brethren" (Heb. 2: 14, 16.) "Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God" (I John 4: 2.) “Many seducers are gone out into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (II John 1: 7.) Why do the New Testament writers lay so much stress upon the taking of flesh by Jesus Christ? Evidently we must see in those expressions (the Word was made flesh, etc.)more than a Hebraism, for "He became man” (Gen. 6: 12; Is. 40:5.) The inspired authors want to teach us humility by impressing upon our minds the excessive abasement of the Eternal Son of God in uniting his Divinity, not to the nature of an angel, but to that of an inferior creature, as man is. They have still the further aim of impuning the heretics of the early days of the Church the Docetæ, Cerinthus, Ebion, etc., who, attributing the flesh to an evil principle, and therefore holding it as utterly polluted, maintained that Christ had not a real body of flesh but only an apparent body. This we learn from Ss. Ireneaus, Jerome, Clem. of Alex., etc.
7. Another proof that God is not an exalted man; that is, that He was not what we are now, and became perfected into God, is the direct statement of the Bible: "God is not as a man that He should lie, nor as the Son of man that He should be changed.” (Num. 23:19) "I will not execute the fierceness of my wrath, because I am God and not man" (Psalm 11:19).
8. Another most striking proof is to be found in God's immutability. The Latter-day Saints teach that God was once imperfect, as man is; the Bible teaches the very opposite: "Thou art always the self-same (Psalm 101:26). “I am the Lord, and I change not” (Mal. 3:6). “The Father of lights with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration.” (The Latin alter means other. So the Lord is never other from all eternity). (James 1:17).
9. Finally, the Latter-day Saints' theory of the Man-God supposes a past and present with God. The Bible excludes that succession of time, and speaks of God as the Everlasting Present: