ADAM, OR HUMAN NATURE
"The first man is of the earth, earthy." -- 1 Cor. 15:47.
"The old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." -- Eph. 4:22
GENESIS opens wondrously; first announcing a creation; then shewing it marred; then a restoration. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." As for God, His work is perfect. If He created, His work must have been good. And yet the next thing is a darkened world. For "the earth was dark and without form and void." In some way, not revealed, God's work had been destroyed. God, then, in the six days, restores that earth, not made dark by Him, yet now in darkness; and on this ruined earth His work proceeds till His image is seen, and He can rest there.
This wonder, of a work of God soon self-destroyed, meets us again in the beginning. Scarcely is God's image seen in man, before that spiritual work is marred in Adam. The creature formed to bear God's image falls, and thus becomes a platform for another work. In each case mystery shrouds the fall. How the earth became "without form and void and dark," is not told us. And how the man, God's image, falls, is a great deep: for great is the mystery of godliness, and not less the mystery of iniquity. But the fact is here. We see man made by the Divine Word; and then man, as he makes himself by disobedience.
In this way the fall is shewn not to be man's normal state. Man, like Adam, may be far off from God, yet in his heart, as in Scripture, a witness will be heard, saying that this distance is through self-will. He may live in sin; but he knows that such a life is opposition to the will and purpose of his Maker. Sin is not the law of our being, but a struggle against it, as conscience tells every man. Therefore is God's work shewn before the fall, to confirm the voice which speaks in every heart, and which declares that though all men walk as Adam, sin is no part of God's work, but its opposite. Man's proper place is seen in Christ. Out of Christ we are not lost only, but rebellious. Man, through self, may be all that we see in disobedient Adam, debased and sunk from God and heaven into self, from joy and glory into misery; and yet in Christ man has been, and is, set in all that glory which God's work and rest typify; so that Paul can say, "God hath raised us up, and blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Adam, ruling all creatures, is the type of man in Christ, as God makes him; fallen Adam, of man in self, as he makes or unmakes his own nature. The one, with glories more than eye can see, figured in the blessings bestowed in Paradise on the creature; the other, losing all through sin, with mind and will subject to, instead of ruling, lower creatures.
This latter sight, what man is in self, -- how he falls and departs from his Creator, -- how the understanding errs, -- how the will is seduced, -- how these highest powers yield to lower ones, -- how the end is shame and distance from God, -- how the Lover of men in grace meets and conquers this, -- all this is shewn as in a glass, man's self being here presented to us. As Adam fell, we fall each one; for Adam lives yet in his progeny. And, fallen in him, we prove he is in us, by walking just as he walked. Adam yet re-lives old Adam's life, as Christ in us yet lives Christ's life. And just as things are true for us in Christ, which, if we are in Him, must in due time be true in us also, as death and resurrection; so, being fallen in Adam, we shall find his fall to be true also in our experience. Adam in us still lives old Adam's life. His life is the figure of our life when "we walk as men" (1 Cor. 3:3).
I proceed, then, to trace his course; first within, then in its more outward application. We shall see how, in spite of every gift, man as man is prone to ruin all.
I. -- ADAM, OR MAN
FIRST, to trace this path in that world of thought and will which is within; for, to this day, when we sin, nothing else is done but what is here set forth in the man, the woman, and the serpent. (Note: Augustin. de Gen. c. Manich. l. ii. c. 14, § 21; Ambros. de Par. c. 15, § 73.) In this view the man is the understanding, the woman the will, (Note: I use the word "will" here for that general faculty of the mind by which we are inclined to certain actions, rather than for that determination to action, which is now generally called the "will," but which I believe to be the result of the united operation of the will and understanding. If the forms of language are any guide, (and surely they often utter the results of true and deep insight,) such words as thelema and voluntas may be quoted as witnesses that the old view of the will as the seat of love is in the main correct. Both thelema and voluntas describe the will as the organ of affection and desire, rather than of determination; and in this sense I here use the word.), the serpent some animal faculty or emotion in us -- good, when in subjection, but which may be a means, under the influence of the evil spirit, to tempt the will, and lead it to disobedience and independence, and so to misery. For the will, not the understanding, is that in us which is first assailed, seduced by some lower sense or emotion, which seems to promise more happiness. But for the will, the emotions would not be felt, but only thought about: but they are felt: hence they are passions; for we really suffer, though we should command, them. Only thus is man led away. For our understanding, -- that is, the man, -- cannot be led to consent to sin but by the will; that is, that part of the mind which loves, and which, as the woman to her husband, is formed to be subject, and ought to be obedient. (Note: Aug. de Gen. c. Manich. l. ii. c. 14, § 20; c. 18, § 28.) Here the will acts in independence. If this will stood firm, the temptation would be overcome. But the will yields, and becomes self-will, and then by it the man or understanding is seduced. The head goes wrong because the heart is first seduced, while yet the head or understanding is the man, whom the heart or woman should obey. But in every fall the heart perverts the head, the will tempts the understanding, as in every restoration it is out of the heart or will that the new life must come, "the woman's Seed," which is divinely given to overcome the evil. And yet what zeal is shewn to enrich and deck the understanding, which, at the best, is only half our nature, while those affections are unkept, which, as being the spring and womb of every form of future life, are ever the first and special object of the tempter. Alas! we learn all this too soon by falls, in which the promise of forbidden knowledge is yet the bait to draw us aside. To know is yet the snare; and the will, once set on this, is quickly overcome. Then, "when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14, 15). Thus falls the will, throwing off dependence at the suggestion of a lower nature in us, which is very near it. (Note: Augustine marks that this is done in the evening, "in the cool of the day," (Gen. 3:8,) when the sun of love and light is declining. Aug. de Gen. c. Manich. l. ii. c. 16, § 24.)
The results I need not follow here; for it is the same story in the outward application. But I may note the sentence on the "woman," -- pain in bringing forth, and subjection to her husband; as it is said, "And he shall rule over thee;" on the "man," bread by the sweat of his brow, with the earth cursed henceforth with thorns and briers (Gen. 3:16-19). For the fallen will, if it travails to bring forth other forms of life, produces them with pain and much difficulty: but, having done so, is more than ever subject to reason. (Note: Aug. de Gen. c. Manich. l. ii. c. 19, § 29.) While the understanding, -- that is the "man," -- finds the earth full of thorns: not easily does it gather truth, the bread of life; for, as the wise man says, "the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things" (Wisdom 9:15). On the one hand, there are the thorns and briers of perplexing questions, which, unless they are rooted out, will choke the good seed. On the other, the understanding itself is weaker, and must "sweat" for that, which once grew without labour. Thus truth, like fruit, has to be sought and waited for; the toil to gain it being ordained to strengthen, even while it corrects and humbles us. (Note: Georg. i. 121.) And if the man will not accept this sentence, the ground is quickly filled with thorns and thistles, so that he who will not eat by the sweat of his brow here, will have to gather bitter things both here and in another world. (Note: Aug. de Gen. c. Manich. l. ii. c. 20, § 30.)
I cannot write what crowds upon me here, as to the "woman," and her "Seed," who shall destroy and bruise the serpent; or how Christ, if He be "formed within" (Gal. 4:19), is made of the woman in us, that is the human will; growing thence, out of the womb of human affections, not by man, but by the Holy Ghost, who begets that new life, to be in due time born amidst beasts, out of a pure virgin affection, like Mary, in us; which is itself the fruit of numberless other affections, some grievously defiled as Rahab and Thamar, which have gone before. (Note: Rahab and Thamar are mentioned in the Lord's genealogy, Matt. 1.) For from Adam to Christ are seventy-two generations, as from Abraham to Christ are forty-two (See Matt. 1 and Luke 3); that is, many a form of life is produced, and many an inward travail and death is known by us, before the will brings forth that life of faith, of which Abraham is the appointed figure. And after Abraham, or faith, more births will there yet be, in which the energy of nature is more or less manifest, before that form of life appears, which is of the Holy Ghost, and is the "perfect man." Some of these, as David and Solomon, are like, but yet are not, the perfect man, but only carnal forms or copies of Him; as we know that before God's image comes in us, certain outward likenesses, and carnal prefigurings or preludings of it, in different measures will appear in us. Many a form of life grows, toils, withers, and dies, having produced another to succeed it, which again dies out, and this many times, before the image of God, the perfect man, the true Seed, comes. But it comes at last, and the serpent's head is bruised. She, by whom came death, brings forth the Life-giver. (Note: Any one who cares to see how generally received this mystic application of Christ's genealogy was among the Fathers, may do so by consulting the Catena Aurea on the Gospels, where the inward fulfilment is given in loco. See also the extract from the Ordinary Gloss further on upon the fifth chapter, in note 13, p. 92. Augustine just glances at this succession of forms of life in us, in his Confessions, l. i. c. 6, § 9. So Chrysostom says, "Dost thou not see every day a resurrection and a death taking place in the periods of our life?" Hom. on 1 Thess. 4:15, page 410 of the Oxford Translation.)
And very wondrous is the woman's name; for "Adam called his wife's name, Eve," or Life, not while she stood, but after she had fallen, and by her fall had brought in death" (Gen. 3:20). (Note: Eve, Heb. chavvah [H2332]. The LXX. here translate Zoe for Eve.) So within, the fallen will is "Eve;" fallen, and yet indeed the true "mother of all living." Only by the will is another life produced. It is the opener of all evil or good in the creature. As we love, we live. Therefore must we "keep the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of good or bad life" (Prov. 4:23). So the Lord teaches, -- "From within, out of the heart, proceed evil thoughts," and every form of evil living (Mark 7:21); and out of the affections grows that life which is life, and is eternal. (Note: Aug. de Gen. c. Man. l. ii. c. 21, § 31. To the same effect is the well-known prayer in the Litany, -- "to receive the word with pure affection, and (so) to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit.")
And yet the man, and woman too, though she is the mother of all living, are shut out of Paradise. A flaming sword keeps the way, while at its gate are placed cherubim. The fallen mind in mercy is shut out, because unfit to deal with heavenly things; while forms of truth (for these cherubim were such forms) reveal, as through a veil, some ray of glory such as the fallen mind and will can bear. For now a coat of skin in mercy covers both. Other things therefore in grace are made to agree thereto.
But all this may be more clear to some, if we trace its fulfilment in the outward kingdom. The tale is one within or without, enacted before the face of the world, or carried on invisibly in the inmost soul of man.
Outwardly then we here have man as man. Human nature in its ways and griefs and hopes is drawn for us, with the exactness of One who views it as it is, and who presents the perfect figure of it in Adam to us, that, if we cannot look within, we may yet learn by Adam's ways to know our own tendencies. We are shewn here, first, the way of man; then, the consequences; then, the remedy.
II. -- MAN'S WAY
AS to the way of man, as man, it is from God to self and independence; a way not without its marked stages, -- for there is first temptation, then sin, and disobedience, -- and each of these has its own steps, but the steps and stages are all away from God. Such is the way of man. If he returns, that return is God's way for man, and not mere man's way.
First in this way comes the temptation. This at once touches a field of mystery, assuming the existence of an enemy of God and man; though how he became such, or whence or what he was, or how he had power to reach this world, and to use its creatures, is not told us. What we know is this, that man is tempted, and that by some of the common creatures which surround him here; the weaker vessel being ever first assailed, as being more likely to yield, and in yielding to draw the stronger with her. Christ was "tempted of the devil," and could say, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Matt. 4:1-10), for the New Man sees a spiritual world. But man as man sees but the creature, some outward thing, and not a spirit under it. Some paltry thing, the smallest, commonest creature, may be, and is often, used to ruin us. A tree or beast may stir our lusts, and a garden or fruit awaken passions and desires, which may prove too strong for us. For though man, as Adam, sees but the creature, a world of spirits is working under it, by the creature tempting man to trust in self and creatures more than God.
Yet with this difference, that Adam saw only the creature, whilst Christ in His temptation recognised the devil as the direct agent in it, the two temptations varied not. The serpent's words in substance exactly answer to those recorded in the Gospel; first suggesting doubts as to God's love, then as to His truth, then openly attempting to put the creature into God's place. Such is the trial here: such was Christ's: and such is man's temptation yet. There is indeed no other.
First comes a suggestion questioning God's love; and this is put with great subtlety, suggesting that the commandment was merely arbitrary, imposed by power, rather than ordained in love: -- "Hath God said, Ye shall not eat?" (Gen. 3:1). (Note: It is noteworthy that the serpent always substitutes Elohim for Jehovah, -- "Hath Ehohim said," &c., Gen. 3:1, 3, 5. This, compared with Gen. 3:8, 9, 13, 14, &c., where in every instance we have Jehovah Elohim, is suggestive and significant.) As much as to say, He grudges; He cannot really love you. Keeping out of sight what God has done, His unnumbered gifts and proofs of love everywhere, the serpent fixes on the one thing denied, and brings this forward in the way most likely to awaken hard and evil thoughts. Yet he only puts a question as to God. He questions what God does: thus he opens the temptation.
If we question what God does, we judge God; we get out of our place, and put Him out of His. For simple as the question seemed, by it the serpent was drawing Eve to be God's judge, rather than His worshipper: -- an awful place for men, yet one into which our adversary is ever drawing us; to lead ere long to make ourselves as gods, and to make God a liar. A really humble soul never judges God. It may not have peace or joy, but at least it will not judge God; submitting rather to His sovereign will; tempted to question, yet not questioning. Such a soul has broken through the snare. It is safe, for it will not entertain questions as to God's ways.
Eve, however, meets the question, as men yet meet it, with knowledge. She answers with the truth of God (Gen. 3:2, 3); shewing how the serpent misrepresented God. And yet she fails. What was wrong here? This, that the woman was parleying with Satan instead of worshipping. Could Satan have gone on with success, if the woman, instead of arguing the point, had at once given God His place by worship and submission? Then God and the creature would both have had their place, and the serpent's subtlety would have been foiled. But Eve utters truth, while her soul drinks in the lie. Unconsciously she is taking the place of judging God.
And truth held away from God will not preserve: on the contrary, it may very readily be used against us. Balaam had the truth; but he walked not with God. Instead of helping him, therefore, the truth only judged him (Numb. 24:17; 31:8). And we too may have some well-known text, when Satan, "that old serpent" (Rev. 12:9), suggests that God does not love us. Will it help us against the tempter's wile, if we are parleying with him, instead of worshipping? Alas! We all know how powerless truth is, if we are admitting questions suggesting doubts as to God's love.
Such is man's first trial; and thus, in doubts of God's love, comes in creature love. All the world is doing what Eve did. They think God does not love them: they must therefore love themselves. So man turns to find his joy out of God, in things which cannot satisfy. This is the fundamental lie, -- God does not love. Every other lie is possible after this. This it is which leads man away from God. Distance from Him is easy, if the poison of this lie is really rankling in us. Oh how deep this lie has gone! Who likes to be at the mercy of God in everything? Men will trust a strong box more than God, because they are not quite certain that He so loves, that at every step He will order what is best for them. God will stint them, they fear. God cannot make them happy now. This tree or that will give far more joy than God can; for love is joy, and, if God loves us not, we can but try self and creatures and creature love.
The next step is the denial of God's truth. "The serpent said, Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). Love being doubted, truth is next assailed. God now is treated as a liar. He said indeed, Ye shall die, if ye transgress. But fear not: ye shall not die.
Now here, as before, if God lose His place, something else must take it. If the truth is doubted, some lie will be believed. Where God is not trusted, Satan will be; and, indeed, the world's happiness consists in trusting him. To this day, wherever man is doubting God, he is building his happiness upon the devil's lie. Could men, if they believed God's word, go on happily in a course of disobedience and self-will? But they believe a lie. Their happiness in sin rests on believing the devil. Carnal happiness apart from God could not live for a day under a faith that God is true, and will fulfil His word on those who disobey Him.
The truth is, man must trust some one. Boast as he may, he cannot stand alone. The man, therefore, who doubts the love and truth of God, having given up God, must trust the creature. If, therefore, creatures ask him to sin, he will obey them; for they are now in the place of God to him. If we believe God, we are free. If we will not trust Him, we are the tool and slave of any thing or any one who is stronger or cleverer than we are.
And now God's love and truth being denied, the next step is to take God's place openly. So the serpent says, "Ye shall be as gods" (Gen. 3:5). He now can dare to say any thing; for if the poison of the first two lies has entered, God has quite lost His character in the heart of man. Self now may therefore seek to be "as God;" so entirely is spiritual perception gone when we begin to doubt God.
Some may not see the sin of this. Sin blinds us so that we do not know what is sin. Men see no harm in seeking to be gods, in setting themselves up to know or judge both good and evil. (Note: The expression, "knowing good and evil," may mean sitting in judgment on it, as in 2 Sam. 14:17, and 1 Kings 3:9. Ambrose so takes it, De Parad. c. 11, § 52.) Self-glorying therefore is thought to be no sin, till some wretched fruit of exalting self opens our eyes to see it; while judging good and evil seems almost to be our work, so readily do we pass sentence on everything, as though neither sin nor danger were connected with it. But both are sin, for they rob God. They take His place, to put self into it. God must be the centre where He is known. Let Him be dishonoured, self will be the centre; and each fair gift is turned into a curse, the creature exalting itself at the expense of God's glory; till, as in Nebuchadnezzar, loss of understanding is the result, and man becomes as a beast for his self-exaltation, "until seven times pass over him" (Dan. 4:30-32). God does, indeed, call us to glory, but by glorifying Him, not by self-glorying. And in that day we too may judge, for man shall "judge the world," yea, "judge angels" (1 Cor. 6:2, 3). But the way thither is the way of Christ, who "grew in wisdom," while in subjection even to His earthly parents; in meekness and obedience offering Himself to God, taking man's place and giving to God His place. In such a path, blessing must be man's, for in it God is glorified. Let man arrogate the glory, blessing will depart, until God receives His own again (Compare Mal. 2:2, and Psalm 29:1, 11, and Psalm 96:7-10).
Still the serpent spoke some truth. They "became as gods." God Himself declares, -- "The man is become as one of us" (Gen. 3:22). And this is yet the tempter's way: he does not put forth a lie only, with the uncomeliness of a mere lie; but first a question full of plausibility, then a lie, and then a truth out of its place, working as a lie, and used to deceive us. For he can tell much attractive truth; but never for God against self, always to nourish self and self-will against the will of God. And there is a point where truth becomes the surest snare, aiding to fix us in the most awful self-deception; while held in sin, without conscience, to exalt self, it becomes our worst punishment. So a saint, when asked, "What was the most dangerous doctrine?" replied, "God's own truth held carnally and to exalt self." For His light may blind, His ark destroy, His sanctuary smite, His table be damnation (Lev 10:1, 2; 1 Chron. 13:9, 10; 2 Chron. 26:18-20; 1 Cor. 11:29). And a truth perverted may be the firmest chain to hold and bind and blind us for ever.
I might speak much here of other outward things, which had their weight in this temptation; such as the lust of the flesh, for "the tree was good for food;" the lust of the eye, for it "was pleasant to the eye, and fair to look upon;" and the lust of the mind, the pride of knowledge, for it was "a tree to be desired to make one wise" (Gen. 3:6). All these concur, and thus falls man: thus grows the "evil heart of unbelief;" and God, -- Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, -- gives place to that other trinity, the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Father is superseded by the world: creature love serves now instead of God's Love. The Son, God's Truth, is doubted, and at once Christ's opposite, the devil, "who abode not in the truth," must be trusted. Then the Holy Ghost is grieved and assailed; and in His place the flesh or self is glorified. (Note: The New Testament is full of these contrasts; the Father is ever set against the world, Christ against the devil, and the spirit against the flesh. See 1 John 2:15, 16; 3:8; Gal. 5:17.) In this order does the evil work, as then, so now, in every man; till man actually believes that sin is blessedness: not to sin and do as he will is now considered bondage. So deceived is he, that he thinks the evil good, and counts self-pleasing to be joy, though he finds no peace in it. (Note: For many of the best thoughts in this section, I am indebted to a paper, entitled "The Rejected Man," being No. 41 of the series, "Words of Truth.")
III. -- THE FRUIT OF MAN'S WAY
BUT what are the real fruits of this way? The first is a bad conscience: -- "Their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked" (Gen. 3:7). Then under a sense of their shame, they seek to hide it. "They sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
Such a conscience, such an "opening of the eyes," though it may precede conversion to God, is not conversion. It is not even one of the good things which survived the fall. It was acquired in the fall, and in itself drives man away from God, and only proves that he now sees himself. Man cannot bear his condition, or change it; therefore he hides it. But hiding it is not repentance. Where there is true repentance, there is ever open and unreserved confession.
So they made for themselves "aprons," not coats. "God made them coats" (Gen. 3:21); but they were content to hide so much only of their nakedness as they saw before them. God covers all by that which has died. But as long as the shame alone of sin is upon us, we shall seek to hide it, rather than to find atonement. Some creature or gift of God will be used, to keep us from seeing what we are, and to hide us from our own eyes. This is the reason why men so love the world, because the utter loss of outward things would shew us what poor, naked, shameful, restless, aching souls we are; while the abundance of outward things in some measure hides this from us, and keeps us from the humiliating perception of what we are. Should not then our shame be hid? Surely. God would have it covered, but with that which, while it covers, is also a witness of our true state, -- which confesses what we are, and that sin has brought death, though almighty grace out of death brings forth righteousness.
This leads to a further fruit of sin. "They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord" (Gen. 3:8). God has now to call out to them, "Where art thou?" How comes it you are not with me? Oh, how much is there in these words! God finds His creatures hiding from Him. He would let them learn the position into which they have brought themselves by disobedience. Does He do this by reproaches? He simply says, -- Where art thou? How comes it you are not with me? Adam had his excuse at hand, and man's excuse is yet the same.
In this excuse of Adam's we may see a yet further fruit of disobedience. Guilty man attempts to clear himself by throwing blame upon some other one (Gen. 3:12, 13). The righteous ever justify God; the sinner's great mark is self-justification; accusing God, or man, or Satan, without one word of self-renunciation. And, observe, the excuses were all true, but no recognition of God's claims or open confession of guilt is to be found in them. God asks, -- How comes it you are not with me? We answer, -- Because some creature has beguiled us; which is true, but no fit answer for a sinner. Nor does it spring from, nor produce a good conscience. And truth without a good conscience will not help; rather it may become a snare, serving to root us in the most awful self-deception. Admitting sin is not confessing it. Extorted concession is not confession. But if God has not His place, all spiritual sense is gone. That which has made us err in heart, makes us err in understanding also.
But there are other fruits of sin more external, and having to do with man's body and his dwelling place. The earth is cursed, and henceforth sorrow and toil are to be man's due portion, until he return to the dust whence he was taken (Gen. 3:16-19): a lot which seems hard, and yet is mercy; by toil to draw man out of self, and then by death to destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil. But on this I need not enter here. This part of man's lot has ample illustration everywhere.
One consequence of sin remains, characteristic of the lot of man as man, namely, exclusion from paradise. Fallen man is driven out, lest as fallen he eat and live for ever (Gen. 3:22-24). This, too, is love. Old Adam is shut out, but the Seed can enter through the flaming sword and past the cherubim. The Head first passed, and then the members; and though man as man, that is the first Adam, without sore peril may not enter into that from whence God has excluded him, yet for man in Christ, the Second Man, the way is open, and we are invited thitherward (Rev. 2:7). Paul was caught up, how he could not tell, whether in the body or out of it, into paradise (2 Cor. 12:3, 4); and John, and others too, have passed that sword, which turns every way to shut out old Adam. For saints the way is open yet. But for man as man to seek by magic arts, as many have sought, without God's truth and love, in selfhood to enter into paradise, to hold communion with the spirits there, from which as fallen God in mercy has excluded them, only tends to make men into devils; for fallen man deceived and now akin to evil, by laws he little knows of, will come into contact with his like, even with evil, and by it will be yet more deceived, even while he thinks an angel of light is teaching him. To man, therefore, as man, the way is closed. Paradise suits him not; therefore he may not enter there. But, instead, at the gate are forms of the Divine, cherubim, veiling and yet revealing God's glory; "figures of the true," such as fallen man can bear, instead of purely spiritual communications, serving as a veil for heavenly things, and yet, like the veils of the tabernacle, which were covered with cherubims (Exod. 26:31; 36:35), in and by the veil itself revealing heavenly things. Israel, therefore, is forbidden to hold any unlawful intercourse with the spiritual world by means of "enchanters, witches, charmers, consulters with familiar spirits, wizards, or necromancers," as the nations of Canaan had done, because the Lord would speak to them by a Man, a Prophet like unto Moses" (See the context, Deut. 18:9-19). Such is God's provision for fallen man, -- forms of truth for those unfit for spiritual things; not leaving the creature in the spiritual world to an intercourse with spirits, for which, as fallen, it is incompetent; but giving, instead, a human form, (the cherubim had "the likeness of a man,") (Note: See Ezek. 1:5; 10:15. The application of these cherubic forms, the lion, the ox, the man, and the eagle, to the four Gospels, or rather to the four views of Christ which they respectively set forth, is well known. See Irenaeus, who wrote in the second century, Adv. Hoer. l. iii. c. 11. See also Ambrose, Prolog. in Luc. § 8.) by the mystery of the Incarnation in all its forms to teach us in the flesh such things as man can profit by, and yet ordained to shew us higher things, and to be the door to open, even while it shuts, paradise; by that very door teaching man how to pass it, through the fiery sword and past the cherubim. For if we enter, we must yet pass the figures and the sword to that which is within. Any coming into heavenly places is through this narrow gate. If I do but die to my own righteousness, and seek to come into that rest and joy which is by faith, the flaming sword at once meets me. What pains has even this amount of dying and entering cost many! Much more, if faith turn to experience, shall we find how sharp that sword is. Mere flesh cannot pass it; but it may be passed, and must be passed, if we would enter paradise. And awful as it appears, by it is cut off much of that which is our sorrow here.
IV. -- THE REMEDY FOR MAN
SUCH is man, -- such is his way, such are its fruits. Now let us see the remedy. This too has stages, all of God; first a Call, then a Promise, then a Gift, from Him.
First comes a Call, a voice which will be heard, to convince man of his state, saying, "Where art thou?" (Gen. 3:9). A voice which may sound in different ways, but which in all is crying to draw man back again; at first only convicting of sin, yet by this very conviction laying the foundation for man's recovery; leading man to come to himself before it is too late, that he may come to his Father, and from Him receive another life; and asking, though man oft turns a deaf ear, why we are not with Him, who still loves and yearns over us.
Then comes a Promise, full of grace and truth, touching the woman's Seed (Gen. 3:15); a promise not to old Adam, for the old man is fallen, and must pay the penalty: -- no reprieve is given to the flesh: the cross which saves us is Adam's condemnation: -- but a promise to the Seed or New Man, who shall be born, in and by whom man shall regain paradise. And as the promise is not to Adam, so, strictly speaking, there is now no trial of him. What Adam is, has been already proved. Blessed with every gift, through self he spoils all. Man therefore must die, but in the Son of Man man's line is restored and raised up again. The fall of man, like the fall of the year, by God's almighty love and wisdom opens the door for broader and richer seed-times. The very grave becomes the cradle of life, and death the way to resurrection. The new man springs out of the old, and from its grave, as a fair flower in spring out of the dark earth. For the Son of Man is indeed true man, though every man is not a son of man. (Note: Man and the Son of Man are not the same. Adam, for instance, was man, but not the son of man. The son of man is the new man, which grows by grace out of the old man. So David says: "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou visitest him?" Again, "Thou preservest man and beast, but the sons of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." -- Psalm 8:4; 36:7. Augustine speaks much of this difference, Enar. in Psalm. viii.) In the Son or Seed the curse is overcome. All that rose up in man falls in and by the Son of Man; and all that fell in man is raised again in the Son of Man, the Seed, the heavenly man. The promise cannot fail to this Seed. Unlike the first covenant, which, being of law, needed two parties, the better covenant needs but one, for it is a promise, and is fulfilled by the Promiser. Henceforth blessing stands not on a creature's will, but on deeper, safer ground, even the Lord's will. "Thou shalt" now gives place to "I will." If we are heirs, it is "according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29).
Nor is the promise all. God adds a Gift: -- The Lord God made them coats of skins and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). Again He works, for sin had broken his rest; working, as ever, to restore blessedness; to cover not with fig-leave screens only that part of our nakedness which is before each of us; but to give us, upon us, in token of our state, -- for the skins spoke of death, and so confessed trespass, -- a covering which, while it puts us in our place, as sinful creatures, yet shelters us.
Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps; fire and hail; snow and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling His word; mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars; beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl; kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth; both young men, and maidens; old men, and children; let them praise the name of the Lord; for His name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven.
There is yet another view of man, which gives us the dispensational fulfilment of the same history. In this view Christ and the Church appear. He is "the Man," who "left father and mother and was joined to His wife." While He slept, she was made out of Him; and they two became one flesh (Eph. 5:31-32). (Note: Aug. in Psalm. cxxvii. (E.V. 128,) § 11; Enar. in Psalm. cxxvi. (E.V. 127,) § 7. This interpretation is common to all the Fathers.) This is "the woman, which is of the Man," and this is "the Man who is also by the woman" (1 Cor. 11:12). For Christ is both the woman's Seed and Lord: the "Man who was not deceived" (1 Tim. 2:14), but who by the woman and for her came under judgment. And in this view the expression here used as to the formation of the woman shadows forth a mystery. For we read "He builded a woman" (Gen. 2:22, Margin); (Note: Heb. banah [H1129]. Hieron. in Amos 9:6.) and of the Church it is often said, that she is "builded." "All the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:21, 22). So gifts are "for the building of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12), (Note: eis oikodomen, k.t.l.) a building which grows without sound of axe or hammer. Without it the Man is not perfect: the woman is "the filling up of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23). Such is the Church in its relation to Christ: one flesh, one life, one spirit, with Him; bearing His upright form, made like to Him, to be an imitator of God, with a nature more than animal, -- for "among the beasts there was no help-meet for Adam" (Gen. 2:20), nor can His Bride "bear the mark or number of the beast" (Rev. 13:17). For she is one, pure, holy Church; a body of many members, not united by likeness of outward form, -- for the eye is unlike the hand and foot, and some are outward and seen, and some are unseen, -- but linked together by the bond of common life, each in its place and measure completing the body, which is one Church, one "Mother of all living," the Bride, all whose members are encircled in the divine arms, and included in the divine love, which, because it is divine and eternal and almighty, has breadth and length and depth and height enough to hold them all. This is the Church, the woman whose "power is on her Head," and whose Head and Lord is "the image and glory of God" (1 Cor. 11:7, 10), formed in the earth to rule all beasts and creatures, and to have "all things put in subjection under His feet" (Heb. 2:8). This is indeed "a great mystery," when seen as "concerning Christ and the Church" (Eph. 5:32); and leads to depths where fallen creatures cannot follow, for "no man knoweth the Son but the Father" (Matt. 11:27). But this we know, that in Him we have life; and what we know not now, we shall know hereafter.
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