Page images
PDF
EPUB

that God without any accommodations should be able to speak his mind to man, and man without any conjecture should be able to understand it. In virtue of this conformity of human reason to the infinite Spirit of God, in virtue of man's soul being an image and likeness of God, God was able to converse and did converse with Adam in the garden of Eden, as afterwards he did with Abraham and Moses, and doth with us all in his word. For the word of God is not an accommodation, but a real utterance of God's mind to man's mind, created for the very purpose of understanding and responding to God. Reason is before revelation, a pre-requisite to revelation ; and if revelation be God's account of himself, reason must find it to be the true account of herself. This conformity in all respects of human reason to God's infinite Spirit, makes it practicable for Christ, the fulness of Godhead, to be expressed in words which are the forms of reason, and to take a reasonable soul in which to contain the fulness of the Godhead, and by the powers of which to express the mind and will of God for ever to all the intelligent creation. To use the language of the schools, the Word of God is not a system of NOMINALISM—that is, a set of names chosen for the best out of man's vocabulary, so as to give a kind of notion of God-but a system of REALISM, telling out the very thing which God is to the consonant mind of man. Now because there is in God perfect freedom, and no necessity nor causation of any kind, but He is what he is because He ever wills to be so, and is not forestalled by himself or any thing he hath made, but is ever free with the same measure of freedom; therefore it is required that there should be in man, his image, a will which should be uncaused, the cause of itself; not overmastered by God, but left to act in its own liberty. Also, because the will of God, which continueth absolute in the Father, hath consented in the Son, and doth ever consent, to come into the limits of the Christ, who is the fulness of the Father's purpose ; so should there be in man, God's image, not only a will uncaused, the fountain of its own procedure, but likewise a continual energy and disposition therein to express itself in conformity with the will and purpose of God, as the same is made known in the Christ, who hath therefore the name The Word of God. Finally, as there is in God the Holy Ghost a continual willingness to serve Christ, in bringing to pass the will of the Father; so ought there to be in man a continual willingness to obey and do the will of God, and to bring it to pass within the full compass of his power.

Besides the uncaused will, therefore, there is in man the bounded reason, in the forms of which the will is ever bringing itself; and this reason in man is the proper representative of the Logos, or Word of God, into which the absolute will of God evermore poureth the fulness of its expression : and, besides the reason, there is a body which obeyeth the reason, and carrieth into continual effect the reasonable determination of the will: and to his body all the creatures, both living and lifeless, were made subject--the former receiving from his word their names, and the latter waiting for his hand to keep and dress them. Thus constituted in himself, and thus placed in the garden of Eden, he was the very image and likeness of the Christ of God, who, as the Second Person of the Godhead, hath Divine will; as the Word hath the bounds of the comprehensible, and containeth the names and orders of all created things within himself, and bringeth them into being by the word of his power, and by the same word sustaineth them there. This last office of the Christ, to bring forth from the womb of his fulness every creature of God, was represented by the creation of woman from man's substance, and their becoming the parents of infinite creatures, which was not an after-piece, but included in the very fiat of creation, or in the benediction passed upon his creation : "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Such is the condition of man, which the unchangeable God hath given him, which Christ hath redeemed and for ever fixed, which the Holy Ghost doth renew " after the image of him that created us," and for which every man is responsible, and according to which every man shall be judged. Revelation doth thus contemplate and address man as the image of God, and reproves him for the want of it: redemption hath removed out of the way that which let and hindered ; and the calling of man is now, as it ever hath been, to be God-like, and to have dominion.

IV. Of Man's Transgression, and of Death its Penalty. Our most bountiful and blessed Creator, having thus constituted us to be the image of himself in the Christ, did, to prove our entire consonance with Himself, commune with us freely and openly, face to face; walking and talking with us, and enjoying our society. And to shew the absolute sovereignty of our will, he made every thing upon the earth subservient to our word and work. And, now that we were like God by the will of our Creator, he required of us to be like God by our own will: the head of creation is required to act in creation as God had acted in order to creation. God, in order to creation, had, in the Second Person, surrendered up His own will, in order to receive commandment from the Father;" and man, if he would be His image, must ever do the same. Having a free will, he must, out of this, in love and preference and worship of God, bring it into the condition of receiving and observing commandments from the Father. This did the Godhead unto creation; and this creation must seal to and exemplify. Accordingly it was required of man, the sovereign lord over all things created, to bring that sovereignty into submission, and receive a commandment from God with respect to one thing. Lord of his body, he must forbid it to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil : lord of creation, he must be willing to acknowledge another Lord in respect to that. Having a will, he must do worship with it to the absolute will of God; and, while so exemplifying and sealing to the one great Godhead-act of selfdenial, the mother-law of creation, and creation's preliminary condition, he will be upheld in that estate which God himself pronounced very good; but, if his will, of its own accord, or yielding to any suggestion whatever, do not use its liberty for declaring a higher will in God, which it loveth to worship and its commands ever to obey, then will he come into the estate of death-"dying, thou still die.” This penalty of death, as the event hath proved, standeth not merely in the termination of life by the disunion of the body from the soul and its resolution into original dust, but in despoiling the soul of its love and likeness to God, in the bringing of it under a law, which is called in Scripture “the law of sin and death.” And not only so, but the whole world, which was made dependent upon the will of man, cometh under the same law. Death is not an historical event, done and away with, but a new state of being; which hath, indeed, an historical manifestation in the separation of body and soul, but a continuity also, in the deadness to the word and alienation to the will of God, in which man, as he is naturally, liveth and moveth and hath his being. When God said, " In the day thou eatest thereof, dying, thou still die,” he meant that which came to pass upon creation, and hath been seen and felt in creation ever since that day; namely, the state of moral death in which we are, drawing on to and concluding in, the state of moral death which we come to in the grave, together with that state in which the body and the soul are until the resurrection; but beyond the resurrection I do not believe that the penalty pronounced against Adam extendeth. The resurrection, and its future consequences holdeth of another man than Adam: As in Adam all die, so in Christ all are made alive.” From Christ, therefore, and not from Adam, depend the issues of the resurrection. By making this revolution of the world's estate to turn upon one act of the will of one man, our Creator shewed, first, the supremacy of the will, which the body and all nature followeth, like a servile thing as it is; secondly, the abiding, cleaving guilt and penalty of one act of sin, which rather than pass over, God will cancel the goodness and make away with the life of his creation; and, finally, the entire

oneness of mankind, that death in the root should spread death through the whole tree: that poison introduced at one point of the system should equally affect the whole body. For though by the Law the mortal offence was made to abound, before the Law, and since the accomplishment of the Law by Christ, God would have us to understand that death, with all its forerunners and consequences, is the consequence of Adam's one transgression. Now if we consider the end and dignity of man's creation to be an image and likeness of God, and to act the part towards God and towards the lower creation which Christ had acted towards the Father, in ever sacrificing his own selfexistence for a commanded existence, in order that there might be a creation both good and blessed; the wonder is rather that man should not have been at once annihilated, when he refused to conform unto Christ and to be the guardian of the world's well-being. But if annihilation had followed, how would God's original purpose in creating man have been attained ? It would have been frustrated, but not attained. One word of God must not undo another; therefore there never can be such a thing as annihilation. God had further purposes than creation in reserve for man-purposes of grace and glory-of which we shall by and bye unfold both the beginning and the ending.

V. Of the Change which passed upon Man and the World. The devil, or serpent, who is the head of the evil angels (Rev. xii.), had made himself a party in the evil transaction, thinking to gain his ends of man by bringing him under the curse of death; and, revealing his character of " a liar," he said, “ Ye shall not surely die;" of " a murderer,” by being the occasion, and in some measure the cause, of all death. Yet, as his manner is, he mingled truth with the lie, saying, “ Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil;” which also God confirmeth, " Behold, the man is become as one of Us, knowing good and evil.” This

one of Us,” may mean the Second Person, who in the form of the Christ Adam knew well ; by the greater glory of whose person and extent of whose knowledge he was therefore capable of being tempted. “ To know good and evil” pertained to God alone, until it became the part and property of man by the fall. To the devil and his angels pertain the part and property of evil; “ evil is their good.” Man had the part and property of good only; a most excellent portion! But having eaten of the tree of “the knowledge of good and evil,” a new world opened upon his view" his eyes were opened”—and the consciousness of the evil made him cover his nakedness, which before he observed not, and hide himself from the sight of a pure and holy God. This, now, is the first difference between man as he is and man as he was created, that his soul is now conscious of good, and its opposite, evil; it discerneth differences; and in so far forth hath attained a new feature of likeness unto God. But in preferring the evil he is most unlike unto God, and like unto the devil; the servant of the devil, and not of God; and therefore God interdicted him from that perilous promotion, as well knowing that it would bring, along with the knowledge, the domination also of evil. Yet if man, knowing the evil, can be made to abhor it, he is only the more complete an image of God, who knoweth it and abhorreth it: but this he can only be through God informing him with his own Divine holiness. And so the way is opened up to the great work of Incarnation by means of the devil's wiles, who maketh the snare to his own feet; and forthwith God's purpose of having in man his full and perfect image, one knowing evil yet doing it not, one avenging evil though at the expense of his own life. On every hand now the will of man is solicited to evil: he cannot see good without seeing evil; and he hath ever the Godlike office of choosing the one and abhorring the other. That which appertained to the single act of eating or not eating the forbidden fruit, now appertaineth to the whole world of reason and sense. The temptations are infinite, in the invisible world of thought and the visible world of sense. This is the difference between the soul fallen and the soul unfallen. Upon the body of man, which originally knew neither infirmity nor pain of hunger or of cold, nor want of any kind, nor liability of death, nor capability of it; to which all creation ministered, the animals their various gifts, the vegetables their various nourishment; in which there was nothing holding of disease or indecency or corruption, nothing unsightly, nothing unsavoury, but, contrariwise, all radiant and blessed as the creative finger of God could make it; behold and see what hath ensued, -pinching hunger and starving cold or feverish heat, filthiness needing constant ablutions, disease and pains without number, life attended with continual affliction, and death at any and at every turn, from the hour of conception till the hour of dissolution! Upon the lower creatures the like misery, so far as they are capable of it; and upon the earth a continual running to waste and wildness, unless it be waited upon evermore with the sweat of man's brow. And besides this, upon woman was imposed a place of inferiority and subjection, in punishment of her forwardness in the transgression, as also of pains of conception and of child-birth : while upon the serpent lay the curse of having his head bruised by the Seed of the woman, whom he thought to have utterly destroyed, but who shall utterly destroy him, and cast him out both of heaven and of earth, into the deepest hell. The devil had succeeded in introducing his empire of evil into the knowledge and experience of mankind, and so placing man in the middle ground between

« PreviousContinue »