תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

had before been a moral desert, became, by the conversion of the Gentiles, the garden of the Lord ;'* according to the predictions of Isaiah chap. xli. 19 ; xxxv. 6; xliii. 19. Now to both these states, viz. that of heavenly felicity, and that of the New Testament Church, the state of the Israelites in Canaan bore a remarkable relation; since Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey, or abounding with all those blessings and delights which constitute the perfection of animal life, together with quietness and prosperity. But in this respect the land of Canaan presented an unquestionable type of the state of the church, both under its new dispensation, and also after the complete manifestation of the kingdom of God, and was prefigured by Paradise : for, as there is an analogy between the land of Canaan and heaven, so is there also between that land and the state of the New Testament Church. Indeed Paradise must have represented the land of Canaan as a type, inasmuch as it prefigured both the happiness of heaven and the improved state of the church under the new economy, as the antitypes.

“ These things being granted, which might be more largely proved, every thing else is easy. In the land of Canaan, in which the Israelites dwelt as in the land and garden of the Lord, there were two trees, of life and death; the latter of which it was the part of wisdom to shun. Thus Moses declares, (Deut. xxx. 15.) that he had set before them life and good, death and evil. The cause of death was the idolatry, with its carnal delights and impure lusts, which prevailed among the heathen of that period. To these the mind of the Israelites was pronę : and, indeed, the impiety, the profane thoughts of God, the selfrighteousness derived from acts of a carnal worship of God under the old dispensation, and other things of a like kind, which exposed the Israelites to the danger of death, bore a resem blance to the Tree of Death or of Knowledge ; which things were opposed to a Tree of Life, viz, to a compliance in faith with the cominands of God, as connected with eternal life, such a compliance proving the possession of life derived from Christ, who is its sole author under every dispensation. But the Israelites stood not in this state of prosperity and happiness: they suffered themselves to be seduced by the Devil; first, into the practice of Idolatry, together with the filthy superstition of the surrounding heathens, and all their other flagitious practices, all which were gratifying to the flesh ; and then into a state of hypocritical self-righteousness, founded on privileges and works of a carnal nature, while they renounced the righteousness of God, and Him who is the crue cause of eternal life, even Christ Jesus. They ate, therefore, being thus tempted and seduced, of the fruit of this fatal tree, and were cast out by the avenging hand of God, from his land, and deprived of those privileges which they had heretofore enjoyed in the land of Canaan. Thus they died, and experienced that malediction which the Lord had threatened so severely to inflict upon them.

* These views of the church seem to anticipate a state not yet realized, but to which we are looking forward in hope.

The case of the New Testament Church is much the same. The whole earth became a Paradise after the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Christ. The desert was then transformed into ' the garden of the Lord.' In that garden Christ Jesus is proposed to all the posterity of Adam, as the cause of life to all who believe in him and observe his commandments. On the contrary the posterity of Adam were cautioned to abstain from the fruit of the Tree of Death, which it is the part of wisdom to shun. That tree of death, here, denotes, in the first place, those carnal pleasures and gratifications which are inconsistent with faith in Christ and the state of the new man.'* It also denotes those destructive heresies, that damnable superstition, the idolatry and carnal worship, which, contrary to the very nature of the new dispensation, were introduced into the church by false

* See the first of the promises required in Baptism.

prophets, the adversaries of the true kingdom of Christ, whom we are accustomed to call by the name of Antichrist. Of these whosoever eateth

dies, according to the style of Scripture, the second death ;' and by the avenging hand of God is expelled from his Paradise. Such is the fact: for the devil hath seduced the greater part of those who gloried in the name of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH, by exciting carnal concupiscence in their souls, to eat of this forbidden fruit; who, for the most part, are dead, and separated from communion with the true people of God, that is, from his Paradise, the heavenly kingdom of the New Testament Church. All these views are so consistent, that they allow us not to hesitate about the truth of our hypothesis."

I have already, my dear friend, taken up so much of your time, that I must not at present add one word of my own, but for the purpose of assuring you that I am, as always,

Truly your's,

LETTER XI.

THE TEMPTATION AND FALL OF MAN.

MY DEAR FRIEND, The awful issue of our forefather Adam's probation in Paradise affords us a most melancholy, but at the same time a most instructive subject for meditation. Considering our own interest in the result, it would be too gloomy for the awakened mind to dwell on, were not the gloom relieved by the analogical connexion of that trial and its result, with another of a most cheering aspect, in both of which all mankind are interested. For, as the Homily of the Nativity observes of the former, “ This so great and miserable a plague, if it had only rested on Adam who first offended, it had been so much the easier, and might the better have been borne. But it fell not only on him, but also on his posterity and children for ever; so that the whole brood of Adam's flesh should sustain the self-same fall and punishment, which their forefather by his offence most justly had deserved. St. Paul, in the fifth chapter to the Romans, saith, By the offence of only Adam, the FAULT'came upon all men to condemnation ;' and by one man's disobedience many were made sinners.

« הקודםהמשך »