FROM the moment in which Adam, by transgression, fell, it became apparent that, of himself, he could never rise again. The cause of his fall being entire disobedience, the effects of that cause could only be alleviated by entire obedience,--and this he was not in a condition to pay. His nature had become corrupt; his mind, his will, and his affections, were depraved; and "the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually." In his inability, therefore, to pay perfect obedience in his own person, he was compelled to rely, for the redemption of his soul, on the perfect obedience of another being. For the law of God was to be kept; and some one must keep it, to justify man, and glorify God.
But even this would not have been sufficient for the redemption of the soul of man; since no obedience, however perfect, can cancel the previous act of disobedience; and therefore can never, of itself, remove the guilt. It may indeed recommend the guilty to mercy, but can never make satisfaction for the sin.
It was utterly impossible, therefore, for Adam, by any repentance or amendment, to recover his lost communion with God. Something more than entire obedience was necessary to satisfy the JUSTICE of God, before his MERCY could be shown; and nothing less than the sacrifice of the Redeemer, AS WELL AS his entire obedience to the law, could fulfil the conditions of human redemption. Thus, and thus alone, Mercy and Truth would meet together; Righteousness and Peace would kiss each other 1."
But these conditions could not be fulfilled by a mere child of Adam, though "the seed of the woman" was ordained "to bruise the serpent's head." For the subject of atonement being the sins of the whole world, and the Being to be appeased GOD ALMIGHTY, the Mediator
must be such as could "speak face to face" with both. This could not be a man, born in the course of natural generation, for such an one could not approach God to satisfy the preliminaries of his JUSTICE. The insurmountable barrier of human imperfection would interpose between the sin and the atonement.
But as, by the sinful disobedience of MAN was forfeited the earthly Paradise, by the sinless obedience of MAN must the heavenly Paradise be entered.
What the natural man could not, by reason of his corruption, accomplish, an incarnate angel, though born of "the seed of the woman," could not effect. For however superior the ministers of God, in heaven, may be to his fallen creatures on earth, their purity is not sufficiently proof against temptation to make the offering of a sinless body. For God "chargeth even his angels with folly;" and these in their spiritual forms may err, as the angels erred who "kept not their first estate:" how much more, then, would they be liable to sin, if clothed with the infirmities of human nature!
Since, then, neither man, nor an incarnate
angel, could offer a suitable and sufficient sacrifice for the sin of Adam, there remained but one atonement, suitable and sufficient,--INCARNATE DIVINITY.
To this, and to no other, could Adam have looked with any reasonable ground for "the hope that was in him." That he did look for this spiritual redemption is evident, from the universal expectation of the Gentile world, that an INCARNATE GOD would destroy the SPIRITUAL SERPENT.
To HIM, as the true sacrifice for "the propitiation of sins," was the eye of every Pagan, though dimly, directed, when, in accordance with the belief and practice of Abel, the blood of the atoning victim was poured out upon the altar. On HIM, as "the woman's seed, who would bruise the serpent's head," was the faith of every Pagan, though ignorantly, reposed, when the fabled heroes of heathen mythology were exalted into the heavens for their services to man on earth. To HIM, as "the ransom of our souls" from death, was the hope of every Pagan, though blindly, turned, when oppressed under a sense of the terrors of divine vengeance, he imagined no atonement so available,
to avert the wrath of God, as THE BLOOD OF A HUMAN VICTIM. THIS was "THE UNKNOWN GOD" of all the world, whom every nation, actually, though "ignorantly worshipped," in their fables, and in their sacrifices, and in their deified heroes.
The tradition of "the woman's seed" was handed down by the three patriarchs who peopled the earth, after the deluge, to their children's children: and however corrupted by the lapse of time, or the blindness of idolatry, the same tradition may be recognized in the mythology of every nation which has arrived at the comprehension of a religious system. Else, WHY that universal prevalence of animal sacrifice in propitiation of sins, which has obtained among the most enlightened, and the most barbarous of mankind? WHY that more extraordinary opinion reduced to practice, that no blood is so available to avert the wrath of God as that of a HUMAN VICTIM? WHY are these opinions found in ALL THE WORLD, if man never fell; if the Redeemer was never promised; if God never said, "I HAVE GIVEN THE BLOOD UPON THE ALTAR TO MAKE AN ATONEMENT FOR YOUR SOULS--FOR IT IS
THE BLOOD WHICH MAKETH AN ATONEMENT FOR THE SOUL 1?" WHY, moreover, was that wonderful superstition of SERPENT-WORSHIP so generally resorted to by all the world, if the evil spirit never triumphed in the serpent's form? And WHY were those fables so current in mythology, which represent THE SERPENT, the emblem of the evil spirit, as finally to be overcome by a hero, born of a CELESTIAL FATHER and A TERRESTRIAL MOTHER, who, after his victory, shall be enrolled among the gods, if revelation never promised that "THE SEED OF THE WOMAN should bruise THE SERPENT'S HEAD?" And, finally, WHY should it have entered into the imagination of mythologists to represent this victorious hero as SLAIN by his dragon enemy, if redemption were not promised at the price of the Redeemer's life; if JEHOVAH never said to the apostate serpent, "Thou shalt bruise HIS HEEL?"
These are phænomena, to be reconciled by no rule but that of faith in the word of God, which present to the contemplation of the untrembling sceptic a path of the most rugged and unbounded difficulty, through the mazes of which the Christian, with the Bible in
his hand, can alone securely travel. But, interpreted by the Scriptures, they are FACTS of the most solemn and engrossing interest, to which history and fable, religion and superstition, bear equal testimony; which instruct while they admonish, and satisfy while they amaze the mind of the inquirer: and he that would be wise, "wise unto salvation," will "ponder them in his heart."
The humble-minded Christian will consider them with the seriousness which they solemnly demand. He will consider, that the agreement of THE WHOLE WORLD upon a subject, which could not have suggested itself spontaneously to the mind, especially of people most remote and most dissimilar, and placed under circumstances in every other respect discordant, cannot be the result of conspiracy or chance; but that what has been the belief of ALL MANKIND, however ignorantly expressed, must have had for its origin ONE FAITH, which was founded upon ONE PROMISE, which was accepted upon ONE ASSURANCE--namely, that it was THE TRUTH, and THE REVELATION OF GOD.
Thus if the Redeemer of mankind was "THE SHILOH" of the Jews, "THE DESIRE OF ALL
[paragraph continues] NATIONS 1," "THE UNKNOWN GOD" of every worship, and THE TYPIFIED VICTIM of every altar,--we are not only justified in referring this coincidence of belief and practice, but peremptorily called upon to refer it to the original revelation made by God to Adam, and through him to all mankind.
2. It is unnecessary to prove what "holy men of God," by "the word of prophecy;" evangelists, by the pen, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and martyrs, by their blood--have testified in characters, "which he may read who runs," that the "Shiloh" of the Jews, "the desire of all nations," "the unknown God" of every worship, whom all mankind really, though "ignorantly," adored, is JESUS CHRIST. IT COULD HAVE BEEN NO OTHER. For HE ALONE of all men lived without sin, and died without requiring the mercy of God. He "went
about doing good;" and he only "had the words" and the power "of eternal life." By his patience, by his innocence, by his labours, and by his resignation, he showed himself to be more than an ordinary man; and by his wisdom, by his preaching, by his prophecies, and by his miracles, he evinced himself a prophet, yea more than a prophet:" while the consummating miracles of his resurrection from the grave, and ascension into glory, declared him to be "GOD BLESSED FOR EVER 1."
This was the true victim, THE SINLESS, THE SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE; by the shedding of whose blood the sin of Adam was atoned for, and Adam restored to the communion which he had lost. That the atonement might be complete, it was indispensably necessary that the victim should be divine; in JESUS we behold the DIVINE VICTIM, and in HIS BLOOD the COMPLETE ATONEMENT. For not only the miracles which, in fulfilment of prophecy, he wrought; not only the authority, equivalent to that of God, which he assumed, and successfully exercised; but even the confession of the
evil spirits themselves, declared Jesus to be "the Christ, the Son of the living God."
To be, however, a SUITABLE, as well as a SUFFICIENT, SACRIFICE for the sins of men, it was necessary that he should be HUMAN. In JESUS we recognize this HUMAN VICTIM, and point him out like Pilate, though with far different feelings, "BEHOLD THE MAN!"
But while sufficiency for the end required the victim to be divine, and suitableness to the object demanded a human sacrifice, the eternal necessity that "all righteousness should be fulfilled," as peremptorily required the two natures to be united. Without THE MAN to suffer God would not be satisfied: without THE GOD to qualify, THE MAN could not be perfect. In JESUS, therefore, we behold the MYSTERIOUS UNION of GOD and MAN. "In him it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell 1;" and "IN HIM DWELT ALL THE FULNESS OF THE GODHEAD BODILY 2."
3. This was the Redeemer, and this the redemption, in anticipation of which, Adam repined not at the sentence which consigned him to toil and sorrow; which had driven him
from a life of ease to labour--from "a garden of pleasure" to a field of thorns. Though every morsel of bread, and every drop of pure water, brought with it the recollection of his sin and fall: though, "for his sake," the very ground which he tilled was "cursed," and "in sorrow," he was doomed to "eat of it all the days of his life;" though the partner of his affliction was still more afflicted, and, through "sorrow," was condemned to pass to the blessedness of a mother--yet did the faith of Adam sustain his sinking spirit--yet did he "eat the bread of labour with thanksgiving;" and yet did his loved partner "forget the sorrow for joy that a man was born into the world." FOR in that bread of labour he recognized the gift of an indulgent Father; and in that man-child she expected the redemption and consolation of their souls. Thus, though that consolation and redemption were remote; though ages must roll on ages, and individuals become nations, before that desired HOLY ONE could enter into his kingdom--so firm, so constant, and so confident was the hope of Adam, that, in the glance of his prospective faith, he gathered ages into a moment, and nations into an individual, when the voice of his
loved partner exclaimed with holy transport--"I have gotten THE MAN from the Lord 1!" And though fond expectation might have given place to despair, when the "child of their many prayers" left them childless in the world, by the murder of his brother, and the banishment of himself--yet still did Adam hope against hope, that "the seed of the woman WOULD bruise the serpent's head." And hence, when instead of him who had been branded with the curse of God, another child was given, on him they bestowed the name of SETH--that is "SUBSTITUTED:" for in their hearts they believed that he was "substituted" for their first-born; in his place to console them through their pilgrimage upon earth, and in his place to redeem them from the last penalty of sin. Thus ADAM "died in faith, not having received the promises." He "died in the faith" of a SPIRITUAL REDEMPTION.
In the same faith had died ABEL; and he evinced it in that sacrifice unto which "God had had respect," as offered in assurance of the blood which should be shed, "once for all," at Calvary.
In the same faith died NOAH, the second father of mankind, and bequeathed it as the best blessing of a departing parent to a surviving child. "God shall enlarge Japheth," was his inspired promise to the son whom temporal prosperity would magnify: but HE SHALL DWELL IN THE TENTS OF SHEM," was the spiritual and eternal blessing. In the family of Shem was the Messiah born, and lived, and died. He "dwelt" as in a tent "among them 1."
For ages after the deluge the tradition was handed down by each dying patriarch to that son who was destined to be the progenitor of "the hope of Israel;" but the time in which this Holy One would enter into his kingdom being still uncertain, it was not until upon his death-bed that the pious patriarch perceived that salvation was still distant. Then did the prophetic spirit which was imparted to the dying saint, open the dim eye to pierce into futurity. As the body decayed, the soul gathered strength: as earth receded, heaven approached: as all around him grew dark, all above him was bright. And, "THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
arising with healing on his wings," disclosed, through the dark clouds of advancing ages, LIFE, and IMMORTALITY, and JESUS CHRIST.
Thus "ABRAHAM rejoiced to see the day of Christ: he saw it, and was glad 1." Thus "ISAAC blessed Jacob concerning things to come 2." Thus JACOB declared his hope and expectation--"I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord 3!" Each in his own life-time looked anxiously for the redemption, which each on his death-bed "saw, but not nigh." In the prophetic spirit which afterwards inspired the unworthy Balaam, they perceived that "a star would come out of Jacob, and a sceptre would arise out of Judah;" but, like him, they were assured--"I shall see Him; but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh 4." "These all died in faith, not having received the promises; but having seen them afar off, and being persuaded of them, and embracing them, and confessing that they were strangers, and pilgrims on the earth 5." "They did all eat the same spiritual meat; they did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST 6."
Dwelling in tents soon pitched and soon removed; wandering from place to place, as men without a country, they weaned themselves from the follies and fascinations of the world, and fixed their hearts firmly on that place alone, "where true joys only are to be found." The only heritage which they possessed was THE PROMISE; the only land which they purchased was A BURIAL PLACE: the only rest for their bodies was THE GRAVE; the only home of their souls was HEAVEN. "Wherefore God was not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city "--"a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God 1."
May all, who are partakers of the same abiding hope, partake with them in the fruition of the same unfading glory!
GILBERT & RIVINGTON, PRINTERS,
Sr. JOHN'S SQUARE.
462:1 Psalm lxxxv. 10.
466:1 Levit. xvii. 11.
468:1 This expression is first made use of in the Septuagint, Gen. xlix. 10; where the word "Shiloh" is most wonderfully paraphrased--προσδοκία Ἐθνῶν. So that by the confession of seventy-two elders chosen for their learning out of the twelve tribes of Israel, the Redeemer of man, was "The expectation of the Gentiles," nearly three centuries before he was born!
469:1 Rom. ix. 5.
470:1 Col. i. 19.
470:2 Col. ii. 9.
472:1 Gen. iv. 1. See Faber, Hor. Mos. ii. 55.
473:1 John i. 14---"dwelt among us"--literally, "lived as in a tent;" or, "pitched his tent."--ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν.
474:1 John viii. 56.
474:2 Heb. xi. 20.
474:3 Gen. xlix. 18.
474:4 Numb. xxiv. 17.
474:5 Heb. xi. 13.
474:6 1 Cor. x. 3.
475:1 Heb. xi. 16, and 10.