תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

the sentence pronounced upon them, contained the promise of the Seed which should bruise the serpent's head. Gen. iii. 15. This Redeeming Principle began then to operate, not only bringing man out of this state of death and incapacity, but producing the fruits of righteousness. By this, Abel offered a more acceptable offering than Cain. By this, Enoch walked with God-and all the patriarchs and prophets were instructed in Divine wisdom, and finally obtained acceptance. For our acceptance is not by nature, or in our natural state, as the posterity of the first Adam; but in and through Christ, the Second Adam, the Lord from heaven, who is called "a Quickening Spirit." 1 Cor. xv. 45, 47. The same Apostle, to the Ephesians, says: "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;”—and again he says" and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards. us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. ii. 1, 3—9.

The innocence of children is sometimes mentioned as an evidence of their being in the same condition that Adam was in before his fall; and in confirmation of this idea, that passage of Scripture is adduced, in which it is related, that "Jesus called a little child unto Him, and

set him in the midst of them, and said: Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. xviii. 2, 3, &c. On referring to Mark ix. 34, where the same event is recorded, it appears that the disciples had then given way to feelings of ambition and contention; "for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest." To correct their views, our Lord adopted the mode of reproof that has been mentioned, using those expressions so remarkably adapted to the feelings which they had just indulged. "If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” Mark ix. 35. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. xviii. 4. This was the very thing they had been disputing among themselves, and they were now informed that it was not to be expected but in humility.

But, taking the passage in its utmost latitude, it will go no farther than to show the necessity of a freedom from sin, which we, who have become moral agents, must experience, through the operations of Grace, producing repentance, and obtaining forgiveness, &c.

But innocence alone cannot constitute the Divine Image. For, as it would be highly injurious to the Divine Character, to assert that God is no more than an innocent Being, so it must be evident that the Divine Image does not consist in innocence alone.

No one will pretend that the little child is in a sensible communion with God, or clearly sensible of his Di

vine Influence, which was the case with Adam. Again;
the desires of the infant, in its purest state of innocence,
are directed to objects of sense-
-to the gratification of
its creaturely appetites. But such was not the case with
Adam in his primitive state, nor is it the case with the
true Christian.

And, as the text does not contain any allusion to the primitive condition of man, so, on the most close examination, it cannot be made to prove that infants are in that condition; or that they are not, in common with the rest of the human family, objects of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ, and partakers of the benefits derived from Him.

If we impartially reflect on the present condition of the human race, we shall find, in the Pagan darkness which overspreads a large portion of the world, a striking evidence that the natural state of man is dif very ferent from that in which Adam was placed in the beginning. That portion of mankind have not the knowledge of God, his attributes, and their own relations to Him, either by intuition, or by their reasoning faculties. If every individual were furnished with the same knowledge in Divine things, that Adam had, and admitted into the same near relation to the Deity, and communion with Him, there could be no such thing as a nation of Pagans: for, even if all should ultimately fall, still there would be a portion of the life of every individual, in which he would know God, as Adam did in the beginning. Neither, if reason and our own rational faculties could naturally lead up into this exalted state, would it have been said by the apostle, that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

are foolishness unto him: neither indeed can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Cor. ii. 14. Nor should we find this declaration realized in all conditions, as to outward circumstances, from the highest refinements of civilized life to the most degraded state of uncultivated nature.

Those who are occasionally found in Heathen countries, with enlightened minds, have risen out of darkness and ignorance, by the operations of the Grace of God, that brings salvation, and which the apostle expressly declares has appeared to all men. They become such by a slow progress of improvement, and of that change which is called regeneration, and the new birth-and not as an original state. Thus these Heathen nations illustrate what human nature is, and shew the insufficiency of those faculties which constitute it, to renew them up into the Divine Image. They shew that human nature itself is fallen, is low and grovelling-still tending downward, "as the sparks fly upward."

But the human family was not left destitute, in this miserable condition: "In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John iv. 9, 10. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." Rom. v. 6. "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Rom. v. 18. Here the disease and the remedy are brought into contrast

by the apostle, to show that the latter was exactly adapted to the former. As, in the fall, the capacity of enjoying communion and fellowship with God was lost; so, through Jesus Christ, it is restored. As, in the first, we were unable to do any good thing, but were naturally joined and united to evil, forward and propense to all iniquity, servants to the power and spirit of darkness; so, in the remedy provided, "we are so far reconciled to God by the death of his Son, that we are put into a capacity of salvation, having the glad tidings of the Gospel of Peace offered unto us, and we are called and invited to accept the offered Redemption. In which respect we understand these Scriptures: He slew the enmity in Himself. He loved us first. Seeing us in our blood, He said unto us, Live. He who did no sin, his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree; and died for our sins, the Just for the unjust." (Vide Bar. clay's Apol., Prop. 7, § III. Also Eph. ii. 15. 1 John iv. 10. Ezek. xvi. 6. 1 Pet. ii. 22, 24. and iii. 18.)

And, as the guilt of Adam is not imputed to us, till we make it ours by our own transgressions; so, in order to obtain perfect redemption, we must experience Regeneration. That Divine Principle which is the purchase of Christ's death, and which is called by the apostle, "Grace," and by the evangelist, "the Light of men," must be brought into operation in us, taking the rule and government of our hearts, and setting us free from the "law of sin and death.” "He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." 2 Cor. v. 15.

Thus, we consider Redemption in a two-fold sense;

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »