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3. The incipient limitation of the freedom of the normally self-developing spirit by the body in consequence of the dependent condition of the latter on external nature, is only the corresponding normal expression of the still existing unfreedom of the, as 65yet, unmatured spirit, and is therefore also the protection of the same against its own immaturity,—a divinely-intended means of discipline for the same. But this primarily limiting relation of the body to the spirit is only transient, and is not a real trammeling. The body, while following in its own development the growth of the spirit in rationality and freedom, passes gradually over from its at first predominantly determining and conditioning character to that of being predominantly determined and conditioned by the spirit; and in its ultimate perfection,—as corresponding to the fall moral maturity of the spirit,—it becomes perfectly spirit-imbued and spirit-appropriated,—the absolutely subservient organ of the emancipated spirit,—becomes a perfectly spiritualized and transfigured body, which latter, as being developed by a regular growth out of the original unfree nature-body, is conditioned neither on a violent death of the nature-body nor is subject itself to death, seeing that it is simply the necessary and normal organ of the immortal spirit.
It would be an injustice in the Creator, and a God-repugnant defect in creation, were the essentially free and morally matured spirit bound in unfreedom by a per se irrational nature; and the anti-scriptural notion, that the rational spirit has been banished into a body, as into a prison, in punishment for the sins of a previous life, would then be the sole possible justification of the Creator. But the conditional unfreedom of the spirit such as we must admit also for the unfallen state, namely, that it is limited by the natural alternation of sleeping and waking [comp. Gen. ii, 21] by the natural wants of food, etc., [comp. Gen. i, 29, 30], is not against but for the spirit. It reminds the personal spirit of its belonging to the per se unitary and law-governed All, its regulated connection with nature; it protects the, as yet, inexperienced 66spirit from unwise presumption, from arbitrary irrational meddling with the divinely-established order of the world,—teaches it to submit itself to the divinely-willed and ordered laws of existence, teaches it humility, and brings to its consciousness its dependence on God’s power, thereby impressing upon it the lesson that it can attain to true freedom only by a free and cheerful self-denial in relation to the will of God. Hunger, e. g., is the most powerful stimulus to activity, and hence to the development of the spirit, and ever since the entrance of sin into the race there has been no other so sure and effectual a means of stirring up the spirit out of its slothful indolence [Prov. xvi, 26, in the original]. In the present state of man hunger is not only of significance for the individual, it is a world-historical power, the first and most persistent stimulus to civilization. Unfallen humanity, it is true, knows nothing of any hunger-stress, but it knows it as a want requiring satisfaction; and it is not a feature of the suffering but of the true humanity of Christ, that he also felt hunger.
That which was a disciplining beginning, however, is not to be permanent; but it is not the body, but only the limiting power of the same that is to pass away. The view that the body is not a permanent condition of the spirit, but only a prison-house destined to destruction,—a merely useless burdening incident of the spirit,—is a very favorite one, it is true, but it is a very un-Christian one. What God does is done well, and he has given the body to the spirit for perfect service, and not for a burden and a clog. Of the notion that the original body is only a worthless case or husk, to be cast off like the chrysalis of the butterfly, the Scriptures know nothing;—the dissolving of the earthly house [2 Cor. v, 1] applies only to the body of sin and death [Gen. iii, 19];—the body is originally, on the contrary, the divinely-established permanent condition of true life, though indeed not an absolutely necessary condition of the life of the spirit in general. Christ, the perfect man, shows in his own person what the human body signifies and is; Christ’s resurrection is a stone of stumbling for all one-sided spiritualism. Christ lives on, not as a mere bodiless spirit, but in his now glorified body, and he will transfigure our sin-ruined body that it may be like unto his glorious body [Phil. iii, 21]. This transfiguration, though 67without death—not a being unclothed, but a being clothed upon [2 Cor. v, 4]—is the original purpose of the body given to the immortal spirit as its subservient organ. The spirit’s body is in fact, as such, no longer a mere nature-object, but, as the exclusive possession of an immortal subject, it is also itself raised above the perishableness incident to all mere nature-objects.—Death is in the Scriptures uniformly referred back to sin; and the great emphasis which the New Testament lays upon the resurrection of the body indicates what the original body was to have been. If it is the moral destination of the spirit to be free, to dominate by reason over the merely natural, then death, as a violent interruption of life, comes into direct antagonism with this destination; it indicates a complete ascendency of unconscious nature over spirit, the impotency of the spirit in the face of nature—a condition of the real bondage of spirit to nature. Were this wide-reaching antagonism between the actual state and the moral nature of the spirit the original condition, and were it included in the nature of things or in the creative will itself, then the nerve of all morality would be paralyzed, and all moral courage broken. To struggle against too great odds is folly; if irrational nature is more powerful than the moral spirit, then the latter can rationally take no better course than to yield to superior force, and to place its own sensuous nature higher than its spiritual.
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