THE CREATION OF THE EARTH AND MAN.
The earth before the creation of Adam the habitation of the angels who kept not their first estate—A geological error corrected—The Sabbath day and the Lord’s day—The formation of man and woman—The “great mystery” of her formation out of man explained—Eden—The Garden of Eden—The original and future paradises considered—Man’s primitive dominion confined to the inferior creatures and his own immediate family—Of the two trees of the garden—And man in his original estate.
The general account of the work of the six days is contained in the first chapter of Genesis; while in the second is presented among other things, a more particular narrative of the work of the sixth day in the formation of the first human pair.
Let the reader peruse the history of the creation as a revelation to himself as an inhabitant of the earth. It informs him of the order in which the things narrated would have developed themselves to his view, had he been placed on some projecting rock, the spectator of the events detailed. He must remember this. The Mosaic account is not a revelation to the inhabitants of other orbs remote from the earth of the formation of the boundless universe; but to man, as a constituent of the terrestrial system. This will explain why light is said to have been created four days before the sun, moon, and stars. To an observer on the earth this was the order of their appearance; and in relation to him a primary creation, though absolutely pre-existent for millions of ages before the Adamic era.
The duration of the earth’s revolutions round the sun previous to the work of the first day is not revealed: but the evidences produced by the strata of our globe show that the period was long continued. There are indeed hints, casually dropped in the scriptures, which would seem to indicate that our planet was inhabited by a race of beings anterior to the formation of man. The apostle Peter, speaking of the “false teachers” that would arise among Christians “by reason of whom the way of truth would be evil spoken of” illustrates the certainty of their “damnation” by citing three cases in point; namely, that of certain angels; that of the antediluvian world; and that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Now the earth, we know, was the place of judgment to the contemporaries of Noah and Lot, and seeing that these three are warnings to inhabitants of earth, it is probable that they are all related to things pertaining to our globe in the order of their enumeration—first, judgment upon its pre-Adamic inhabitants; secondly, upon the antediluvian world, which succeeded them; and thirdly, upon Sodom after the flood.
Peter says that “the Angels”, or pre-Adamic inhabitants of the Earth, “sinned”; and Jude, in speaking of the same subject, reveals to us the nature of their transgression. He says, verse 6, “the angels maintained not their original state, but forsook their own habitation”. From which it would appear that they had the ability to leave their dwelling if they pleased; secondly, that they were sometimes employed as messengers to other parts of the universe; this their name (ἄγγελος, angelos, one sent) implies; thirdly, that they were forbidden to leave their habitation without special command to do so; and fourthly, that they violated this injunction and left it. Having transgressed the divine law, God would not forgive them; “but casting them down”, or driving them back, “he committed them to everlasting chains of intense darkness to be reserved for judgment”. Hence, it is clear, when they were driven back to their habitation, some further catastrophe befell them by which their committal to darkness was effected. This probably consisted in the total wreck of their abode, and their entire submergence, with all the mammoths of their estate, under the waters of an overwhelming flood. Reduced to this extremity, the earth became “without form and empty; and darkness overspread the deep waters”. Its mountains, hills, valleys, plains, seas, rivers, and fountains of waters, which gave diversity of “form” to the surface of our globe, all disappeared; and it became “void”, or empty, no living creatures, angels, quadrupeds, birds, or fishes, being found any more upon it.
Fragments, however, of the wreck of this pre-Adamic world have been brought to light by geological research, to the records of which we refer the reader, for a detailed account of its discoveries, with this remark, that its organic remains, coal fields, and strata, belong to the ages before the formation of man, rather than to the era of the creation, or the Noachic flood. This view of the matter will remove a host of difficulties, which have hitherto disturbed the harmony between the conclusions of geologists and the Mosaic account of the physical constitution of our globe.
Geologists have endeavoured to extend the six days into six thousand years. But this, with the scriptural data we have adduced, is quite unnecessary. Instead of six thousand, they can avail themselves of sixty thousand; for the scriptures reveal no length of time during which the terrene angels dwelt upon our globe. The six days of Genesis were unquestionably six diurnal revolutions of the earth upon its axis. This is clear from the tenor of the sabbath law. “Six days shalt thou labour (O Israel) and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Would it be any fit reason that, because the Lord worked six periods of a thousand or more years each, and had ceased about two thousand until the giving of the law, therefore the Israelites were to work six periods of twelve hours, and do no work on a seventh period or day of like duration? Would any Israelite or Gentile, unspoiled by vain philosophy, come to the conclusion of the geologists by reading the sabbath law? We believe not. Six days of ordinary length were ample time for Omnipotence, with all the power of the universe at command, to re-form the earth, and to place the few animals upon it necessary for the beginning of a new order of things upon the globe.
But what is to become of the Evil Angels in everlasting chains of darkness, and who shall be their judge? Jude says, they were committed “for the judgment of THE GREAT DAY”. He alludes to this great day in his quotation of the prophecy of Enoch, saying: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Holy Ones (angels of his might—2 Thess. 1:7) to execute judgment upon all”, etc. This coming of the Lord to judgment is termed by Paul, “the Day of Christ”—“A DAY in which he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ”—during which, the saints, with angels ministering to them, having lived again, will reign with Christ a thousand years on the earth. This is the Great Day of Judgment, a period of one thousand years, in which Christ and his saints will govern the nations righteously; judge the raised dead in his kingdom according to their works; and award to the rebel angels the recompense awaiting their transgression. “Know ye not”, saith Paul, “that we (the saints) shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” From these data, then, we conclude that these angels will be judged in the Day of Christ by Jesus and the saints.
In the period between the wreck of the globe as the habitation of the rebel angels and the epoch of the first day, the earth was as described in Gen. 1:2, “without form and void, and darkness upon the face of the deep”—a globe of mineral structure, submerged in water, and mantled in impenetrable night. Out of these crude materials, a new habitation was constructed, and adapted to the abode of new races of living creatures. On the first day, light was caused to shine through the darkness, and disclose the face of the waters; on the second, the atmosphere called Heaven was formed, by which the fog was enabled to float in masses above the deep; on the third, the waters were gathered together into seas, and the dry land, called the Earth, appeared. It was then clothed with verdure, and with fruit and forest trees, preparatory to the introduction of herbivorous creatures to inhabit it. On the fourth day, the expanded atmosphere became transparent, and the shining orbs of the universe could be seen from the surface of the earth. Our globe was then placed in such astronomical relation to them as to be subjected by their influences to the vicissitudes of day and night, summer and winter; and that they might serve for signs, and for years. Thus, the sun, moon, and stars which God had made, by giving the earth’s axis a certain inclination to the plane of the ecliptic, became diffusive of the most genial influences over the land and sea. It was now a fit and beautiful abode for animals of every kind. The dwelling-place was perfected, well aired, and gloriously illuminated by the lights of heaven; food was abundantly provided; and the mansional estate waited only a joyous tenantry to be complete.
This was the work of the fifth and sixth days. On the fifth, fish and water-fowl were produced from the teeming waters; and on the sixth, cattle, reptiles, land-fowl, and the beasts of the earth, came out of “the dust of the ground”, male and female, after their several kinds.
But among all these there was not one fit to exercise dominion over the animal world, or to reflect the divine attributes. Therefore the Elohim said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the living creatures”. So Elohim created man in His image; male and female created He them. Further details concerning the formation of the human pair are given in the second chapter of Genesis, verses 7, 18, 21–25. These passages belong to the work of the sixth day; while that from verse 8 to 14 pertains to the record of the third; and from 15 to 17 is parallel with chapter 1:28–31, which completes the history of the sixth.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them”; and the Jehovah Elohim, on reviewing the stupendous and glorious creation elaborated by the Spirit; pronounced it “VERY GOOD”. Then the Elohim or “Morning Stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy”.
On the seventh day, which was neither longer nor shorter than the days which preceded it, “God ended his work which he had made”; and because of this notable event, “he blessed and sanctified it”. A day is blessed, because of what is or will be imparted to those who are commanded to observe it. The sanctification of the day implies the setting of it apart that it might be kept in some way different from other days. The manner of its original observance may be inferred from the law concerning it when it was enjoined upon the Israelites. To them it was said, “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy”. If it be asked, how was it to be kept holy? the answer is, “in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor any one or thing belonging to thee”; and the reason for this total abstinence from work is referred to the Lord’s own example in that “he rested the seventh day”. The nature of its observance in the ages and generations, and the recompense thereof, is well expressed in the words of Isaiah:—“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
In this passage, the conditions are stated upon which faithful Israelites might inherit the blessing typified by the rest of the seventh day. They were joyfully to devote themselves to the way of the Lord. They were not simply to abstain from work, yawning and grumbling over the tediousness of the day, and wishing it were gone, that they might return to their ordinary course of life; but they were to esteem it as a delightful, holy, and honourable day. Their pleasure was to consist in doing what the Lord required, and in talking of “the exceeding great and precious promises” He had made. To do this was “not speaking their own words”, but the Lord’s words. Such an observance as this, however, of the sabbath day, implies a faithful mind and a gracious disposition as the result of knowing the truth. Neither antediluvian nor postdiluvian could “call the sabbath a delight” who was either ignorant or faithless of the import of the promise, “thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord, and ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed with the heritage of Jacob”. A man who simply looked at the seventh day as a sabbath in which he was interdicted from pleasures, and conversation agreeable to him, and from the money-making pursuits in which he delighted, would regard the day more as a weekly punishment, than as joyous and honourable. Though he might mechanically abstain from work, he did not keep it so as to be entitled to the blessing which belonged to the observance of the day of the Lord. It was irksome to him, because, being faithless, he perceived no reward in keeping it; and “without faith it is impossible to please God”.
The reward to antediluvian and postdiluvian patriarchs and Israelites, for a faithful observance, or commemoration of Jehovah’s rest from His creation-work, was “delight in the Lord, riding upon the high places of the earth, and feeding with the heritage of Jacob”. This was neither more nor less than a promise of inheriting the Kingdom of God, which is a summary of “the things hoped for and the things unseen”, or the subject matter of the faith that pleases God. When that kingdom is established, all who are accounted worthy of it will “delight or joy in the Lord”; and occupy “the high places of the earth”, ruling over the nations as His associate kings and priests; and share in the “new heavens and earth,” in which dwells righteousness, when Jerusalem shall be made a rejoicing, and her people Israel a joy. The knowledge and belief of these things was the powerful and transforming motive which caused Abel, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc. to “call the sabbath a delight, holy of the Lord, and honourable”; and to observe it as the sons of Belial cannot possibly do. But while this was the motive, even faith, which actuated the sons of God in their keeping holy the seventh day, Jehovah did not permit the faithless to transgress or desecrate it with impunity. We know not what penalty, if any, was attached to its violation before the flood; but its desecration under the Mosaic constitution was attended with signal and summary vengeance, as will appear from the following testimonies:—
1. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore: for it is holy unto you. Every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done, but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord; whosoever doeth any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”
2. “Remember (O Israel), that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.”
3. “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day mere shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the sabbath day.”
4. “And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.”
5. “Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem: neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.… And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, to do no work therein: then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and upon horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever. And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt-offerings, and sacrifices, and meat-offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the temple of the Lord. But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then I will kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.”
6. “Abide ye every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.”
From these testimonies it is clear that it was unlawful for servants in the families of Israel to light fires, cook dinners, harness horses, drive out families to the synagogues, or priests to the temple to officiate in the service of the Lord. The visiting of families on the sabbath day, the taking of excursions for health or for preaching, and conversing about worldly, or family, or any kind of secular affairs, was also illegal, and punishable with death. The law, it will be observed also, had regard to the seventh, and to no other day of the week. It was lawful to do all these things on the first or eighth day (some particular ones, however, excepted), but not on the seventh. On this day, however, it was “lawful to do good”; but then, this good was not arbitrary. Neither the priests nor the people were the judges of the good or evil, but the law only which defined it. “On the sabbath days the priests in the temple profaned the sabbath, and were blameless”; for the law enjoined them to offer “two lambs of the first year, without spot, as the burnt-offering of every sabbath”. This was a profanation of the seventh-day law, which prohibited “any work” from being done; and had not God commanded it, they would have been “guilty of death”. It was upon this ground that Jesus was “guiltless”; for he did the work of God on that day in healing the sick as the Father had commanded him.
“The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore ”, said Jesus, “the Son of Man is Lord also of the sabbath Day ”. It was a wise and beneficent institution. It prevented the Israelites from wearing out themselves and their dependents by incessant toil; and revived in them a weekly remembrance of the law and promises of God. It was, however, only “a SHADOW of things to come”, the substance of which is found in the things which pertain to the Anointed One of God. It was a part of “the rudiments of the world” inscribed on “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us”, and which the Lord Jesus “took out of the way, nailing it to his cross”. When he lay entombed he rested from his labours, abiding in his place all the seventh day. Having ended his work, he arose on the eighth day, “and was refreshed”. The shadowy sabbath disappeared before the brightness of the rising of the sun of righteousness; who, having become the accursed of the law. delivered his brethren from its sentence upon all.
The ordinances of the law of Moses are styled by Paul “the rudiments”, or “elements of the world”, which, in Galatians, he also terms “weak and beggarly elements, whereunto they desired again to be in bondage”. They evinced this desire by “observing days, and months, and times, and years”; not being satisfied with the things of Christ, but seeking to combine the Mosaic institutions with the gospel. This was Judaizing, and the first step to that awful apostasy by which the world has been cursed for so many ages. When the Mosaic constitution, as “the representation of the knowledge and the truth”, had “waxed old” by the manifestation of the substance to a sufficient extent to nullify it, it “vanished away” by being “cast down to the ground” by the Roman power, and with it the law of the seventh day. Even before its abolition, Paul expressed his fear of the Galatians, “lest he should have bestowed labour upon them in vain”, seeing that they were becoming zealous of the ordinances of the law. They seemed not to understand that the Mosaic economy was only a temporary constitution of things, “added because of transgressions, till the seed should come”; that when he came, “he redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them”; and that therefore they had nothing to fear, nor to hope for from keeping, or transgressing its methods. They had got it into their heads that “except they were circumcised and kept the law of Moses”, as well as believed and obeyed the gospel of the kingdom, they could not be saved. Therefore they “desired to be under the law”, and began to busy themselves about “keeping the sabbath”, and doing other works which Moses had enjoined upon Israel. Paul was very much distressed at this, and describes himself as “travailing in birth again until Christ be formed in them”. They had been delivered from “the yoke of bondage”, by putting on Christ; but by seeking to renew their connexion with Moses’ law, they were selling their birth-right for a mess of pottage. “I say unto you”, saith Paul, “that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace”. A partial observance of the law can do no one any good. If he kept the sabbath in the most approved manner, but neglected the sacrifices, or ate swine’s flesh, he was as accursed as a thief or a robber; for to one under the law it saith, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which axe written in the book of the law to do them”; hence even the sinless Jesus was cursed by it, because he was crucified; for it is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”. What hope then is there for Jew or Gentile of escaping the curse of the law, seeing that from the very nature of things connected with the present state of Jerusalem it is impossible to observe it, save in the few particulars of “meat and drink, or in respect of the sabbath” partially, etc. The observance of the seventh day was regulated by the Mosaic law, and the penalties due to its “desecration”, or “profanation”, are pronounced by it alone; but it is dear that the law being taken out of the way, or abolished, by Jesus, who nailed it to his cross, there remain no more retributions for the non-observance of its appointments; and therefore there is no transgression in working or pleasure-taking, or in speaking one’s own words on the seventh day.
On the first day of the creation-week God said, “Let there be light, and there was light”; so on the first day of the week “THE TRUE LIGHT” came forth from the darkness of the tomb “like dew from the womb of the morning”. It is a day to be much remembered by his people, because it assures them of their justification “in him”, of their own resurrection to life, and of the certainty of his ruling or “judging the world in righteousness” as Jehovah’s king, when they shall also reign with him as kings and priests to God. This day is also notable on account of the special interviews which occurred between Jesus and his disciples after his resurrection. He ascended to heaven on this day, even the forty-third from his crucifixion; and seven days after, that is the fiftieth, being “the day of Pentecost”, the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles, and the gospel of the kingdom preached for the first time in his name.
Power being in the hands of their enemies, the Christians of the Hebrew nation still continued to observe the seventh day according to the custom. Hence we find the apostles frequenting the synagogues on the sabbath days and reasoning with the people out of the scriptures. To have done otherwise would have been to create an unnecessary prejudice, and to let slip one of the best opportunities of introducing the gospel to the attention of the Jewish public. They did not forsake the synagogues until they were expelled. While they frequented these, however, on the seventh day, they assembled themselves together with the disciples whose assemblies constituted the churches of the saints and of God. They ordained elders over these societies, and “taught them to observe all things whatsoever Jesus had commanded them”. In his letter to the Hebrew Christians, Paul exhorts them “not to forsake the assembling of themselves together”. Such an exhortation as this implies a stated time and place of assembly. On what day, then, did the churches of the saints meet to exhort one another so as to provoke to love and to good works? Certainly not on the seventh day, for then the apostles were in the synagogues. What day then more appropriate than the first day of the week? Now it cannot be affirmed that the saints were commanded to meet on this day, because there is no testimony to that effect in the New Testament. But it is beyond dispute that they did assemble themselves together on the first day of the week, and the most reasonable inference is that they did so in obedience to the instruction of the apostles, from whose teaching they derived all their faith and practice, which constituted them the disciples of Jesus.
To keep the first day of the week to the Lord is possible only for the saints. There is no law, except the emperor Constantine’s, that commands sinners to keep holy the first, or eighth, day, or Sunday, as the Gentiles term it. For a sinner to keep this day unto the Lord he must become one of the Lord’s people. He must believe the gospel of the kingdom and name of Christ, and become obedient to it, before any religious service he can offer will be accepted. He must come under law to Christ by putting on Christ before he can keep the Lord’s day. Having become a Christian, if he would keep the day to the Lord, he must assemble with a congregation of New Testament saints, and assist in edifying and provoking them to love and good works, in showing forth the death of Jesus, in giving thanks to the Father, in celebrating the resurrection of Christ, and in praising and blessing God. Under the gospel, or “law of liberty”, he is subjected to no “yoke of bondage” concerning a sabbath day. It is his delight when an opportunity presents, to celebrate in this way the day of the resurrection. He requires no penal statutes to compel him to a formal and disagreeable self-denial, or “duty”; for it is his meat and drink to do the will of his Father who is in heaven.
The law of Moses was delivered to the Israelites and not to the Gentiles, who were therefore “without the law”. “What things soever the law saith, it says it to them who are under the law”; consequently the nations were not amenable to it; and though they obtained not the blessings of Mount Gerizim (unless they became faithful Jews by adoption), neither were they obnoxious to the curses of Mount Ebal. The faithless Jews and Gentiles are equally aliens from the precepts of Christ and his apostles. What these prescribe is enjoined upon the disciples of Jesus. They only are “under law to Christ”. “What have I” says Paul, “to do to judge them that are without? God judgeth them.” He has caused the gospel of the kingdom to be preached to sinners “for the obedience of faith”. When they are judged, it will be for “not obeying the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ”, and not because they do not “go to church”, or do not keep a sabbath instituted by a semi-pagan emperor of the fourth century. The sabbath God requires sinful men to observe is to cease from the works of the flesh, as completely as He rested from the work of creation on the seventh day, that they may enter into the millennial rest that remaineth for the people of God.
Men frequently err in their speculations from inattention to the marked distinction which subsists in the scriptures between those classes of mankind termed “saints” and “sinners”. They confound what is said to, or concerning, the one, with what is said in relation to the other. Relatively to the institutions of God they are as near or afar off as are “citizens” and “foreigners” to the laws and constitution of the United States. “What the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.” This is a principle laid down by Paul concerning the law of Moses, which is equally true of the codes of all nations. “Citizens” are the saints, or separated ones, of the particular code by which they are insulated from all other people; while “foreigners” or “aliens” from their commonwealth are sinners in relation to it; for they live in other countries in total disregard of its institutions, and doing contrary to its laws, and yet are blameless: so that if they were to visit the country of that commonwealth, they would not be punished for their former course, because they were not under law to it. Let them, however, while sojourning there continue their native customs, and they would become guilty and worthy of the punishment made and provided for such offenders.
It is a fact, that “God blessed and sanctified” or set apart, “the seventh day”; and doubtless, Adam and his wife rested, or intermitted, their horticultural tendance upon that day. Yea, we may go further and say, that it is extremely probable that “the sons of God” before the flood, worshipped God according to “His way” upon that day; but in all the history of that long period, which intervened from the sanctification of the seventh day to the raining down bread from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness, there is not the least hint of any punishment for breaking the sabbath day. Guiltiness before God cannot therefore be argued against the Gentiles so as to entitle them to death or reprobation, predicated on the threatenings of the patriarchal code. Whatever the appointment might be, it was no doubt significative of the blessings to be obtained through observing it; not alone, but in connexion with the other matters which made up “the way of God”.
As I have shown, the observance of the seventh clay was obligatory only upon the Israelites so long as the Mosaic code was in force, being “a sign” between God and them. The sabbaths belong to the land and people of Israel, and can be only kept according to the law while they reside in the country. This will appear from the fact that the law requires that “two lambs of the first year without spot” should be offered with other things “as the burnt-offering of every sabbath”; an offering which, like all the offerings, etc., must be offered in a temple in Jerusalem where the Lord has placed His name, and not in the dwelling places of Jacob. Israel must therefore be restored to their own country before even they can keep the sabbath. Then, when “the throne is established in mercy; and he (the Lord Jesus) shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness”, then, I say “shall the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God: and they shall hallow my sabbaths.”
But these sabbaths will be no longer celebrated on the seventh day. They will be changed from the seventh to the eighth, or first day of the week, which are the same. The “dispensation of the fulness of times”, popularly styled the Millennium, will be the antitype, or substance, of the Mosaic feast of tabernacles which was “a shadow of things to come”. In this type, or pattern, Israel were to rejoice before the Lord for seven days, beginning “on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when they had gathered the fruit of the land”. In relation to the first day of the seven, the law says, “it shall be a holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein”. This was what we call Sunday. The statute then continues, “on the eighth day”, also Sunday, “shall be a holy convocation unto you, and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein”. Again, “on the first day shall be a sabbath and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath”. Thus, in this “pattern of things in the heavens”, the first and eighth days are constituted holy days in which no work was to be done. It also represents the palm-bearing or victorious ingathering of the twelve tribes of Israel from their present dispersion to the land of their fathers, “when the Lord shall set his hand a second time to recover the remnant of his people”.
Three times in four verses does Zechariah style the yearly going up of the Gentiles to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, there, the keeping of the feast of tabernacles; an event which is consequent upon the destruction of the dominion represented by Nebuchadnezzar’s image, and the re-establishment of the kingdom and throne of David. This national confluence of the Gentiles to Jerusalem is characteristic of Messiah’s times; and of the true or real festival tabernacles, when he will “confess to God among the Gentiles, and sing unto his name”, and “they shall rejoice with his people”, Israel. Referring to this time, the Lord says, “the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name shall the House of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.… They have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever”. This is clearly a prophecy of what shall be hereafter, because the House of Israel still continues to defile God’s holy name by their abominations; but when this comes to pass they shall defile it “no more”.
After the declaration of these things, Ezekiel is commanded to show them the description of the temple which is destined to be “the house of prayer for all nations”, with the ordinances, forms, and laws thereof. The Lord God then declares, “the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it”, and when the Levites of the seed of Zadok shall approach unto Him. The “cleansing of the altar”, and the consecration of the priests, is then effected by the offerings of seven days. “And when these days are expired, it shall be that upon the eighth day, and SO FORWARD, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you (O Israel), saith the Lord,” Thus, the day of the Lord’s resurrection from his seventh-day incarceration in the tomb, becomes the sabbath day of the future age which shall be hallowed by the priests of Israel, and be observed by all nations as a day of holy convocation in which they shall rejoice, and do no manner of servile work at all.
Constantine, though not a Christian himself, paid homage to the truth so far as to compel the world to respect the day on which Christ Jesus rose from the dead. Hence, in 328, he ordained that the day should be kept religiously, which a Judaizing clergy construed into sabbatical observance according to the Mosaic law concerning the seventh day. This is the origin of that sabbatarianism which so ludicrously, yet mischievously, illustrates the Blue Laws of Connecticut, the zeal of the Agnews and Plumptres of the House of Commons, and the rhapsodies of the pietists of the passing day. These well-meaning persons, whose zeal outruns their knowledge, seem not to be aware that Christ and his apostles did not promulge a civil and ecclesiastical code for the nations, when they preached the gospel of the kingdom. Their object was not to give them laws and constitutions; but to separate a peculiar people from the nations who should afterwards rule them justly and in fear of the Lord, when the dispensation of the fulness of times should be introduced. To be able to do this, these peculiars were required to be “holy, unblameable, and unreprovable before God”. To this end instructions were delivered to them, that under the divine tuition “they might be renewed in the spirit of their mind; and put on the new man which after God’s image is created in righteousness and true holiness ”.
As for “those without” “who receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, God sent them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”, as a punishment. They are left to govern themselves by their own laws until the time arrives for Christ to take away their dominion and assume the sovereignty over them conjointly with “the people of the saints”. If they please to impose upon themselves yokes of bondage, binding themselves to keep the first day of the week according to the Mosaic law of the seventh day, they are left at liberty to do so. But for this act of “voluntary humility” they are entitled to no recompense from God, seeing that He has not required it of them. The reward due for observing a Judaized Lord’s day voluntarily inflicted upon themselves; or, the pains and penalties to which they may be entitled for its “profanation”, are such, and such only, as result from the will and pleasure of the unenlightened lawgivers of the nations. It is a wise regulation to decree a cessation from labour and toil for man and beast during one day in seven; but it betrays egregious misunderstanding of the scriptures and singular superstition to proclaim perdition to men’s souls in flaming brimstone, if they do not keep it according to the Mosaic law of the seventh day.
All I need say in conclusion is, that if it be necessary to keep Sunday as the Jews were required to keep Saturday by the law of Moses, then those who make so much ado about sabbath-breaking are themselves as guilty as those they denounce for the unholy and profane. “He that offendeth in one point is guilty of the whole.” If they do not keep open shop, or perambulate the parks and fields, or take excursions, or go to places of public resort and amusement on the Lord’s day—yet, they light fires in the dwellings and meeting houses, they entertain their friends at comfortable warm dinners, drive to church in splendid equipages, annoy the sick and distract the sober-minded with noisy bells, bury the dead, speak their own words, etc.—all of which is a violation of the divine law which saith, “Thou shalt not do any work, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle”; and “Thou shalt not speak thine own words”. This would certainly put to silence nearly all the preachers of the day; whose “sermons”, when made by themselves, are emphatically their own in thoughts and words without dispute. It is not only ridiculous, but downright Pharisaism, the fuss that is made about breaking the sabbath. Let the zealots “first cast the beam out of their own eyes; and then will they see clearly to cast out the mote from the eyes of others”. If they would “keep the day to the Lord,” let them believe and obey the gospel of the kingdom in the name of Jesus; and then “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” on the “first day”; and cease from the works of sinful flesh every day of the week; and they will doubtless “delight in the Lord, and ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed with the heritage of Jacob” in the Kingdom of God, as the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
Of the things then which have been written under this head this is the sum.
1. The six creation-days were each as long as the seventh, whose duration is defined by the Mosaic law; and consequently the geological notion of their being six several periods of many centuries each, falls to the ground as a mere conceit of infidel philosophy.
2. The Lord God ended His work on the seventh day, “and was refreshed” by the songs of the Morning Stars, and the joyous shouts of the Sons of God.
3. To celebrate His rest, He constituted it holy and a day of blessing. Hence it was commemorative of the past, and “a shadow of things to come”.
4. The seventh day was observed by Adam and Eve as a day of delight before they became sinners. The immediate cause of their joyousness on the day of rest is not testified. It is certain it was not a burdensome day; for sin had not yet marred their enjoyments. It was probably because of the gracious interviews granted them by the Lord God on that day; and of the revelations made to them of the things contained in the blessing pronounced upon it when He “blessed and sanctified it”.
5. There is no record, or hint, of the existence of a penal statute for not observing the seventh day, from the sanctification of it till the raining down bread from heaven for the Israelites in the wilderness of Egypt.
6. The observance of the seventh day by absolute rest from every kind of work and pleasure-taking, accompanied by a peculiar sacrifice on the brazen altar of the temple, and spiritual delight in its blessedness, was its Mosaic celebration enjoined upon the Israelites, and their dependants in Palestine, and upon them alone.
7. Its profanation by citizens of the commonwealth of Israel was punishable with death by stoning.
8. Israel was especially commanded to remember the seventh day and keep it as appointed by the law; because God in creating their world brought them out of Egypt, and rested from the work of its creation when He gave them a temporary and typical rest under Joshua in the land of Canaan.
9. For an Israelite to remember the seventh day to keep it holy, spiritually as well as ceremonially, so as to obtain the blessing which it shadowed forth, he must have had an Abrahamic faith in the promised blessing, and have ceased or rested from the works of “sinful flesh”.
10. The blessing promised to Israelites, who were Abraham’s sons by faith as well as by flesh descent, for a spiritual observance of the seventh day (and which, until “the handwriting”, or Mosaic law, was blotted out and nailed to the cross, could not be spiritually observed and ceremonially profaned) was, that they should “delight in the Lord, ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed with the heritage of Jacob their father”, when the time to fulfil the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob should arrive.
11. The blessing pronounced on a national observance of the seventh day was the uninterrupted continuance of the throne of David, and great national prosperity. Its desecration to be punished by the breaking up of the commonwealth of Israel and desolation of their country.
12. The Mosaic observance of the seventh day was appointed as “a sign” between God and the twelve tribes of Israel. It was a holy day to them, and to be observed perpetually throughout their generations.
13. It was lawful for Israelites to do good on the seventh day; but they were not permitted to be the judges of the good or evil. This was defined by the law. The priests profaned the sabbath by hard work in slaying and burning the seventh day sacrifices on the altar, yet they were blameless; because this was a good work which the Lord of the sabbath commanded them to do.
14. Having finished the work the Father had given him to do, on the sixth day of the week, Jesus, while suspended on the accursed tree, cried with a loud voice, “It is finished!” “All things were now accomplished”, so that the Mosaic handwriting was blotted out, being nailed with him to the cross, and taken out of the way as a rule of life. The Lord Jesus, “rested from his labours” on the seventh day in the silent tomb, and “his disciples rested according to the commandment”. He abode in his place. and did not go out of it until the sabbath was at an end. But on the eighth day, styled also the first day, God gave him liberty, he left the tomb, and “was refreshed”. Having “spoiled the principalities and the powers” constituted by the handwriting, he made the spoliation manifest, “triumphing over in himself” (ἐν αὐτῳ̂), that is, in his resurrection; thus, for ever delivering men from the bondage of the law, which, Peter says, “was a yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear”. With the abolition of the Mosaic handwriting the obligation to keep the seventh day as a rule of spiritual life was cancelled as a matter of course.
15. The apostles and Christians of the Hebrew nation in Palestine continued a ceremonial observance of the Mosaic festivals (the annual atonement for sin excepted) and of the seventh day, until the destruction of the commonwealth by the Romans, on the same principle that New Testament Christians among the nations now observe Sunday and the laws; not as a means of justification before God, but as mere national customs for the regulation of society.
16. Hebrew Christians who proposed to blend the law of Moses with that of Jesus as a spiritual rule, or means of justification, and consequently to keep holy the seventh day, were severely reproved by the apostles, who stigmatised it as “Judaizing” (ʼΙουδαΐζειν).
17. The Judaizing Christians endeavoured to impose the observance of the law upon the Gentile converts, which would have compelled them to keep holy the seventh day. But the apostles and elders of the Christian community at Jerusalem positively forbade it, and wrote to them, saying, “We have heard that certain who went out from us have troubled you with words subverting your souls, saying, Be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment”. On the contrary, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.”
18. Upon the first day of the week (or day after the seventh, and therefore sometimes styled the eighth day), the disciples of Christ assembled to show forth his death, and to celebrate his resurrection; which, with an enduring rest from the works of “sinful flesh”, was all the sabbatizing they practised.
19. There is no law in the scriptures requiring the nations to keep this day in any manner whatever during his absence at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. So long as they continue faithless and disobedient to the gospel of the kingdom, neither nations nor individuals can present an acceptable observance of the day before the Lord; on the principle that “Jehovah is far from the wicked, whose way and sacrifice are an abomination to the Lord”:—and,
20. The “first day” was Judaized by Constantine, the manchild of sin, and his clergy. His present representative is the Italian high priest of Papal Christendom. When his power, and that of his kings, is finally destroyed in “the burning flame”; when Israel is engrafted into their own olive again, and the nations are subdued to the glorious sceptre of the king of saints—then will this day become the holy sabbath, “blessed and sanctified” of God instead of the shadowy seventh day, which was merely “a sign” of the things which will then have come to pass.
“Out of the ground wast thou taken; for dust thou art.”
That “the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath”, is a truth of general application to all the institutions of God. Upon this principle, man was not made for religion, but religion was made for him. If this be true, then it follows that it was adapted to man as God had formed him. Hence, the institutions of religion, if it be of God, will always be found in harmony with his constitution and not at variance with it. They are devised as a remedy, for certain irregularities which have invaded his intellectual and moral nature; by which, phenomena have been superinduced which are destructive of his being. Now the exact adaptation of the Bible religion to the curative indications suggested by the intellectual, moral, and physical infirmities of human nature, which everyone who understands it cannot fail to perceive, proves that the mind which framed it is divine; and that the religion of the scriptures, and the constitution of man, are the work of one and the same Creator. God is truly the only wise physician, whose practice is based upon perfect knowledge; for He alone (and they to whom He hath revealed it) knows “what is in man”. Hence, no incongruities are discoverable in “His way” when His method of cure is understood.
In medicine, a scientific practice is directed, and founded, upon a knowledge of the structure or mechanism of the body, the motive power thereof, and of the functions which are manifested by the working of this power on its several parts. The absence of this knowledge in a professional, constitutes empiricism; and is one cause of such vast multitudes “dying”, as it is said, “of the doctor”. Being ignorant of the motive power of the living creature, they are as unsuccessful in correcting its irregularities as a watchmaker, who was ignorant of the principles and laws by which a timepiece was moved, would be in rectifying its errors. Now this may be taken in illustration of the predicament of others who undertake the “cure of souls”. To treat these as “a work-man that needeth not to be ashamed”, a man should be acquainted with “souls” as God hath formed and constituted them. He should know what “a living soul” is; what its condition in a healthy state; what the peculiar morbid affection under which it languishes; what the nature of the cure indicated; and what the divinely appointed means by which the indications may be infallibly fulfilled. An attempt to “cure souls” without understanding the constitution of man as revealed by Him who created him, is mere theological experimentalism; and as bootless, and more fatally destructive than the empiricism of the most ignorant pretenders to the healing art. What! men undertake to “cure souls” and not to know what a soul is; or to imagine it a something, which it is admitted cannot be demonstrated by “the testimony of God”. This is like pretending to repair a timepiece without knowing what constitutes a watch or clock, or while imagining it to be a musical box, or any other conceivable thing.
Speculation has assumed that the soul is something in the human body capable of living out of the body, and of eating, drinking, feeling, tasting, smelling, thinking, singing, and so forth; and of the same essence as God Himself. In times past some have busied themselves in calculating how many such souls could stand on the point of a needle; a problem, however, which still remains unsolved. A vast deal is said in “sermons” and systems about this idea; about its supposed nature, its wonderful capacity, its infinite value, its immortality, and its destiny. I shall not, however, trouble the reader with it. We have to do with “the law and the testimony”; and as they are altogether silent about such a supposed existence, we shall not occupy our pages in superadding to the obsolete print concerning its attributes, which has already merged into the oblivion of the past. I allude to so much as this, because it is made the foundation corner-stone, as it were, of those experimental systems of spiritual cure, which are so popular with the world, and so utterly exclusive and proscriptive of the divine method.
Upon the supposition of the existence of this kind of a soul in the human body are based the current notions of heaven, hell, immortality, infant salvation, purgatory, saint-worship, Mariolatry, spiritual millenniumism, metempsychosis, etc., etc. Its existence both in the body and out of the body being assumed, it is assumed also to be immortal. An immortal disembodied existence requires a dwelling place, because something must be somewhere; and, as it is said to be virtuous or vicious according to its supposed life in the body, and post mortem rewards and punishments are affirmed—this dwelling-place is exhibited as an elysium, or, as an orthodox poet sings, “a place of goblins damn’d”.
To deter men from crime, and to move them to “get religion” that their souls may be cured of sin, frightful pictures are painted, sometimes on canvas, sometimes on the imagination, and sometimes sculptured on stones, of the crackling and sulphurous flames, hideous devils, and horrid shapes, which fill the Tartarian habitation of the immortal ghosts of wicked men. This destiny of condemned ghosts was a part of the “vain philosophy” of the Greeks and Romans before the advent of Christ. It was introduced into the churches of the saints soon after “God granted repentance to the Gentiles”. But, as the apostles taught the resurrection of the mortal body, the dogmatism of the Greeks was variously modified. Some admitted the resurrection of the dead; but, as it interfered with their hypothesis about souls, they said it was already past; and consequently, that “there is no resurrection of the dead”. This gentilizing the hope of the gospel filled Paul with zeal, and caused him to pen the fifteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians to counteract its pernicious influence. He wrote to Timothy to put him on his guard against it; and styles the gentilisms, “profane vain babblings; and oppositions of science falsely so called”. He exhorts him to shun them, and “not to strive about words to no profit”; for they “would eat as doth a canker”.
If there were no other evidence in Paul’s writings of inspiration, this prediction would be sufficient to establish it. It has come to pass exactly as he foretold it. The dogma of an immortal soul in mortal sinful flesh has eaten out the marrow and fatness, the flesh and sinew, of the doctrine of Christ; and has left behind only an ill-conditioned and ulcerated skeleton of Christianity, whose dry bones rattle in the “winds of doctrine” that are blowing around us, chopping and changing to every point of the compass. The apostles taught two resurrections of the dead; one at “the manifestation of his presence” (τῃ̂ ἐηιφανείᾳ τη̂̓ς παρουαίας αὐτου̂)—TÉ EPIPHANEIA tēs parousias autou), the other, at the delivering up of the kingdom to God at the end of the dispensation of the fulness of times. But this did not suit the theory of dogmatists. They resolved the first into what they term “a glorious resurrection of spiritual life in the soul”; and the second, into a re-union of disembodied ghosts with their old mortalities to be sent back whence they came. In this way they reduce the second resurrection to a very useless and superfluous affair. Their systems send “souls” to their account as soon as death strikes the bodies down. Some torment them in purgatory, or in an intermediate state; others send them direct into unmitigated punishment; while both, after they have suffered for thousands of years before trial and conviction, reunite them to their bodies; and if it be asked for what purpose? system replies, “to be judged!” Punish souls first and judge them after! This is truly human, but it is certainly not divine justice. The truth is, that this article of the creed is brought in to defend “orthodoxy” against the imputation of denying the resurrection of the body, which would be a very inconvenient charge in the face of the testimony of God. But this will not avail; for, to believe dogmas that make the resurrection of the mortal body unnecessary and absurd is equivalent to a denial of it. In saying that there was no future resurrection, Paul charged the Corinthians with the mortal sin of repudiating the resurrection of Jesus; “for”, said he, “if the dead rise not”, as ye say, “then Christ is not raised”. Their heresy ate out this truth, which stands or falls with the reality of the “first resurrection” at his coming.
The question of “infant salvation” and “non-elect infant damnation”, also rests upon the dogma before us. “Orthodoxy” sends some infants to hell and some to heaven; though many “orthodox” persons are getting heartily ashamed of this part of the creed. The apprehension of the damnation of their “immortal souls” on account of “original sin”, has given rise to the Romish conceit of the rhantismal regeneration of infants by the Holy Spirit in the scattering of a few drops of water upon the face, and the use of a certain form of words. This has been recently declared to be regenerative of infant souls by an English court of law! This question was actually gravely discussed by bishops, priests, lawyers and ministers, in the year of grace 1849! So true is it that “great men are not always wise; neither do the aged understand judgment”.
As far as the infant is itself concerned, this Romish ceremony is of no importance, for it does it neither good nor harm. In one sense, however, the subject of “the ordinance” is deeply injured. He is indoctrinated by system into the notion that he was truly baptized when rhantismally “regenerated”: and, therefore, when he is grown he troubles himself no more about the matter. Alas, what havoc the apostasy has made with the doctrine of Christ! Believers’ baptism transmuted into rhantizing an unconscious babe for the regeneration of its “immortal soul”! Would such a thing ever have been thought of but for the Nicolaitan “oppositions of science” “which”, says the Lord Jesus, “I hate”? I trow not.
How important, then, it is that we should have a scriptural understanding of the constitution of man. If it should appear by an exposition of the truth, that there is no such kind of soul in the universe as that conceited by the pagan Greeks and Romans, and gentilized into the doctrine of the apostles by contemporary perverters of the gospel, the faith and hope of which it hath ulcerously consumed—and handed down to us by “orthodox divines”—and fondled in these times as an essential ingredient of a true faith:—what becomes of the “cure of souls” by the dogmatical specifics of the day? They are resolved into theological empiricism, which is destined to recede like darkness before the orient brightness of the rising truth.
Let us then endeavour to understand ourselves as God has revealed our nature in His word. On the sixth day, the Elohim gave the word, saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. In this word was life, spirit, or energy. “It was God. All things were made by it, and without it was not anything made that was made.” Hence, says Elihu, “the Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life”; or, as Moses testifies, “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives; and man became a LIVING SOUL”.
Now, if it be asked, what do the scriptures define “a living soul” to be?—the answer is, a living natural, or animal, body, whether of birds, beasts, fish or men. The phrase living creature is the exact synonym of living soul. The Hebrew words nephesh chayiah are the signs of the ideas expressed by Moses. Nephesh signifies creature, also life, soul, or breathing frame, from the verb to breathe: chayiah is of life—a noun from the verb to live. Nephesh chayiah is the genus which includes all species of living creatures; namely, Adam, man; beme, beast of the field; chitu, wild beast; remesh, reptile; and ouph, fowl, etc. In the common version of the scriptures, it is rendered living soul; so that under this form of expression the scriptures speak of “all flesh” which breathes in air, earth, and sea.
Writing about body, the apostle says, “There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body”. But, he does not content himself with simply declaring this truth; he goes further, and proves it by quoting the words of Moses, saying, “For so it is written, the first man Adam was made into a living soul—εἰς ψυχὴν ζω̂σαν; and then adds, “the last Adam into a spirit giving life, εἰς πνευ̂μα ζωοποιου̂ν”. Hence, in another place, speaking of the latter, he says of him. “Now the Lord is the spirit—ὁ δὲ χὺριος τὸ πνευ̂μἀ ἐστιν. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into his image from glory into glory, as by the Lord the Spirit—ἀπό χυρίου πνέυματος”.
The proof of the apostle’s proposition that there is a natural body as distinct from a spiritual body, lies in the testimony, that “Adam was made into a living soul”; showing that he considered a natural, or animal body, and a living soul, as one and the same thing. If he did not, then there was no proof in the quotation, of what he affirmed.
A man then is a body of life in the sense of his being an animal, or living creature—nephesh chayiah adam. As a natural man, he has no other pre-eminence over the creatures God made than what his peculiar organization confers upon him. Moses makes no distinction between him and them; for he styles them all living souls, breathing the breath of lives. Thus, literally rendered, he says, “The Elohim said, The waters shall produce abundantly sheretz chayiah nephesh, the reptile living soul”; and again, “kal nephesh, chayiah erameshat, every living soul creeping”. In another verse, “Let the earth bring forth nephesh chayiah, the living soul after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth”, etc.; and “lekol rumesh ol eretz asher bu nephesh chayiah, to every thing creeping upon the earth which (has) in it living breath”, that is, breath of lives. And lastly, “Whatsoever Adam called nephesh chayiah, the living soul, that was the name thereof”.
Quadrupeds and men, however, are not only “living souls” but they are vivified by the same breath and spirit. In proof of this, I remark first, that the phrase “breath of life” in the text of the common version is neshemet chayim in the Hebrew; and that, as chayim is in the plural, it should be rendered breath of lives. Secondly, this neshemet chayim is said to be in the inferior creatures as well as in man. Thus, God said, “I bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh wherein is ruach chayim, spirit of live”. And in another place, “They went in to Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, in which is ruach chayim, spirit of lives ”. “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing, and every man; all in whose nostrils was neshemet ruach chayim, BREATH OF SPIRIT OF LIVES”. Now, as I have said, it was the neshemet, chayim with which Moses testifies God inflated the nostrils of Adam; if, therefore, this were divina particula auræ, particle of the divine essence, as it is affirmed, which became the “immortal soul” in man, then all other animals have “immortal souls” likewise; for they all received “breath of spirit of lives” in common with man.
From these testimonies, I think, it must be obvious to the most unlearned, that the argument for the existence of an “immortal soul” in “sinful flesh”, hereditarily derived from the first sinner, predicated on the inspiration of his nostrils with “the breath of lives” by the Lord God, and the consequent application to him of the phrase “living soul”, if admitted as good logic, proves too much, and therefore nothing to the purpose. For if man be proved to be immortal in this sense, and upon such premises as these, then all quadrupeds are similarly immortal; which none, I suppose, but believers in the transmigration of souls, would be disposed to admit.
The original condition of the animal world was “very good”. Unperverted by the production of evil, all its constituents fulfilled the purposes of its existence. Begotten of the same power, and formed from the substance of a common mother, they were all animated by the same spirit, and lived in peace and harmony together. Formed to be living breathing frames, though of different species, in God they lived, and moved, and had their continued being; and displayed His wisdom, power, and handiwork.
But, to return to the philology of our subject, I remark that by a metonymy, or figure of speech in which the container is put for the thing contained, and vice-versa, nephesh, “breathing frame”, is put for neshemet ruach chayim, which, when in motion, the frame respires. Hence, nephesh signifies “life”, also “breath” and “soul”—Life, or those mutually effective, positive and negative principles in all living creatures, whose closed circuits cause motion of and in their frames. These principles or qualities, perhaps, of the same thing, are styled by Moses Ruach Elohim, or Spirit of Him “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, which no man hath seen, nor can see”, and which, when the word was spoken by “the Holy Gods”, first caused a motion upon the waters, and afterwards disengaged the light, evolved the expanse, aggregated the waters, produced vegetation, manifested the celestial universe, vitalized the breathing frames of the dry land, expanse, and seas; and formed man in their image and likeness. This ruach, or spirit, is neither the Uncreated One who dwells in light, the Lord God, nor the Elohim, His co-workers, who co-operated in the elaboration of the natural world. It was the instrumental principle by which they executed the commission of the glorious INCREATE to erect this earthly house, and furnish it with living souls of every species.
It is this ruach, or instrumentally formative power, together with the neshemeh or breath, which keeps them all from perishing, or returning to the dust. Thus, “If God set His heart against man, He will withdraw to himself ruachu veneshmetu, i.e., his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again to dust”. In another place, “By the neshemet el, or breath of God, frost is given.” Speaking of reptiles and beasts, David saith, “Thou withdrawest ruachem, i.e., their spirit—they die; and to their dust they return. Thou sendest forth ruhech, i.e., thy spirit—they are created”. And again, “Whither shall I fly, meruhech, from thy spirit”.
From these testimonies it is manifest that the ruach or spirit is all pervading. It is in heaven, in sheol, or the dust of the deepest hollow, in the uttermost depths of the sea, in the darkness, in the light, and in all things animate, and without life. It is a universal principle in the broadest, or rather, in an illimitable sense. It is the substratum of all motion, whether manifested in the diurnal and ellipsoidal revolutions of the planets, in the flux and reflux of the sea, in the storms and tempests of the expanse, or in the organism of reptiles, cattle, beasts, fish, fowl, vegetables, or men. The atmospheric expanse is charged with it; but it is not the air: plants and animals of all species breathe it; but it is not their breath: yet without it, though filled with air, they would die.
The atmosphere, which extends some forty-five miles in altitude, and encircles the globe, is styled the expanse, by Moses; and the breath of God, in Job. It is a compound body, consisting, when pure, of nitrogen and oxygen, in the proportion of 79 of the former and 21 of the latter, in 100 parts. These are considered as simple bodies, because they have not yet been decomposed; though it is probable they have a base, which may be the ruach. This may exist free or combined with the elementary constituents of the neshemeh. Uncombined, it is that wonderful fluid, whose explosions are heard in the thunder, whose fiery bolts overthrow the loftiest towers, and rive the sturdy monarchs of the woods; and in less intensity gives polarity to light, the needle, and the brain. These three together, the oxygen, nitrogen, and electricity, constitute “the breath“ and “spirit” of the lives of all God’s living souls.
Thus, from the centre of the earth, and extending throughout all space in every direction, is the Ruach Elohim, the existence of which is demonstrable from the phenomena of the natural system of things. It penetrates where the neshermet el, or atmospheric air, cannot. When speaking, however, of the motivity and sustentation of organized dust, or souls, they are co-existent within them. In this case, the ruach Elohim becomes the ruach chayim, or “spirit of lives”; and the neshemet el, the neshemet chayim, or “breath of lives”; and both combined in the elaboration and support of life, the neshemet ruach chayim, or “breath of the spirit of lives”. Living creatures, or souls, are not animated, as physiologists and speculative “divines” erroneously imagine, by “a vital principle”, capable of disembodied existence as the ghost of a man, or the transmigrating spectres of other animal species:—ghostly things, the laws and functions of which in the animal economy physiologists are unable to discover; and theologists are nonplussed to prove the existence of from the word of God. On the contrary, “souls” are “made living” by the coetaneous operation of the ruach chayim and neshemet chayim upon their organized tissues according to certain fixed laws. When the as yet occult laws of the all-pervading ruach, or spirit, shall be known, this subject will be understood; and men will then be as astonished at the ignorance of the “divines” and physiologists of this “cloudy and dark day”, respecting “living souls”, as we are at the notion of the ancients, that their ”immortal gods“ resided in the stocks and stones they so stupidly adored. This, however, is quite as reasonable a theory as that of “immortal souls” dwelling in sinners of Adam’s race.
The ruach chayim and neshemet chayim are lent to the creatures of the natural world for the appointed period of their living existence. But, though lent to them, they are still God’s breath, and God’s spirit; nevertheless, to distinguish them from the expanse of air and spirit in their totality, they are sometimes styled, “the spirit of man”, and “the spirit of the beast”; or collectively, “the spirits of all flesh”, and “their breath”. Thus, it is written, “They have all one ruach, or spirit; so that man hath no pre-eminence over a beast; for all is vanity or vapour.” “All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” And in the sense of supplying to every living creature, or soul, “spirit” and “breath”, Jehovah is styled by Moses, “God of the spirits of all flesh”.
Besides the ruach and neshemeh without, there are certain elementary principles, in a state of combination, within all living souls, which are related to them by fixed and appropriate laws, for the manifestation of living actions. The light to the eye, and the eye to the light; so also, the breath and the spirit of God to the constituents of blood, and the blood to them. These, acting and re-acting upon each other in the lungs of all breathing frames, cause that motion throughout their structure which is termed life. The following testimonies will throw some light upon this part of our subject.
“Flesh, be-nephesh-u, with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” This teaches that blood is the nephesh, or life of the flesh; hence it continues, “and surely your blood, lah-nephesh-tikam, for your lives will I require”. We often find life put for blood, and blood for life, as elsewhere in the context. “Be sure that thou eat not the blood, for the blood is the nephesh or life; and thou mayest not eat the life, nephesh, with the flesh.” But, to this it might be objected, that if the blood be the life, then so long as it is in the body it ought to live; on the contrary it dies with the blood in it. True. Moses, however, does not teach the dogma of an abstract vital principle; but life, the result and consequence of the decomposition and re-combination of the elements of certain compounds. The blood abstractly considered is not life; yet relatively, it is “the life of the flesh”. The following testimony will show the sense in which the phrase “the blood is the life” is used. “I will set my face against that soul that eateth blood. For the life of the flesh is in the blood itself. I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for nephesh-tikem, your lives: for it is the blood that atones, be-nephesh, for the soul” or life. “Whosoever catcheth any fowl that may be eaten, he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof. Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh; for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof.” Nothing can be plainer than this.
There are three kinds of living manifestations, which are characterized by the nature of the organization, or being, through which they occur. Hence, we have vegetable life, animal life, and incorruptible life. The last is immortality: because the body through which the life is manifested, being incorruptible, never wears out; so that being once put into motion by the spirit of God, it lives for ever. Vegetable and animal life, on the contrary, is terrainable or mortal; because the materials through which it is revealed are perishably organized. Mortality, then, is life manifested through a corruptible body; and immortality, life manifested through an incorruptible body. Hence, the necessity laid down in the saying of the apostle, “This corruptible body must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality”, before death can be “swallowed up in victory”. This doctrine of “life and incorruptibility” (ζωὴ χαὶ ὰδθαρσία) was new to the Greeks and Romans; and brought to light only through the gospel of the kingdom and name of Jesus Christ. It was to them foolishness; and is to the moderns incredible, because they understand not the glad tidings of the age to come.
Incorruptible life might with equal propriety be styled spiritual life, as indicative of that with which spiritual bodies are endowed. But here I use not the word spiritual, lest it should be confounded with that intellectual and moral life a man possesses when the “incorruptible seed” of the kingdom takes root in his heart; and when, in “obedience of faith”, he passes from under the sentence of death to the sentence of justification unto life eternal. But, at present, we have to do with animal or natural life, which is all the life the fleshly sons of the first Adam can boast of. Enough, however, I think has been advanced to show the scriptural import of the text already quoted, that “the Lord God formed man, the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives, and man became a living soul”.
The simple, obvious, and undogmatic meaning of this, is, that the dust was first formed into “clay”, which was then modelled by Jehovah Elohim into the form of the soul called “man”, as a potter shapes the substance of his vessels. Thus, Elihu said to Job, “I also am formed out of the clay” and again, “We are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand”. The fashioning of the clay being accomplished in all its component parts, which in the aggregate constitute man; that is, the dust being animalized, and then organized, the next thing was to set all the parts of this exquisite mechanism into motion. This was effected by the inrush of the air through his nostrils into his lungs according to the natural laws. This phenomenon was the neshemet el, or “breath of God”, breathing into him; and as it was the pabulum of life to all creatures formed from the dust, it is very expressively styled “the breath of lives” in the plural number. Some imagine that Jehovah Elohim placed His mouth to the nostrils of the as yet clay-cold man-soul prostrate before Him, and so breathed into them. Be this as it may; of this, however, we are without doubt, that God breathes into every man at his birth the breath of lives to this day; and I see no scriptural reason why we should deny that He breathed it into Adam as He hath done into the nostrils of his posterity, namely, by the operation of the natural, or pneumatic, laws. Hitherto, man, though a soul formed from the ground, had been inanimate; but, as soon as he began to respire, like the embryo passing from fÏtal to infant life, he “became a living soul”, not an everliving, but simply nephesh chayiah, a living breathing frame, or body of life.
“Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.”
Men and beasts, say the scriptures, “have all one ruach or spirit; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast”. The reason assigned for this equality is the oneness of their spirit, which is proved by the fact of their common destiny; as it is written, “for all are vanity”: that is, “all go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again”. Yet this one spirit manifests its tendencies differently in men and other creatures. In the former, it is aspiring and God-defying, rejoicing in its own works, and devoted to the vanity of the passing hour; while in the latter, its disposition is grovelling to the earth in all things. Thus, the heart of man being “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know or fathom it?”—Solomon was led to exclaim, “Who knoweth the spirit of the sons of Adam, ruach beni headam, which exalts itself to the highest, and the spirit of a beast which inclines to the earth?” We may answer, “None, but God only”; He knoweth what is in man, and needs not that any should testify of him.
But, from this testimony someone might infer that, as man was made only “a little lower than the angels”, and yet has “no pre-eminence over a beast”, the beast also is but a little lower than the angels. This, however, would be a very erroneous conclusion. The equality of men and other animals consists in the kind of life they possess in common with each other. Vanity, or mortality, is all that pertains to any kind of living flesh. The whole animal world has been made subject to it; and as it affects all living souls alike, bringing them back to the dust again, no one species can claim pre-eminence over the other; for “one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other”.
Man, however, differs from other creatures in having been modelled after a divine type, or pattern. In form and capacity he was made like to the angels, though in nature inferior to them. This appears from the testimony that he was made “in their image, after their likeness”, and “a little lower than the angels”, or Elohim. I say, he was made in the image of the angels, as the interpretation of the co-operative imperative, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. The work of the six days, though elaborated by the power of Him “who dwelleth in the light”, was executed by “his angels, that excel in strength, and do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word”. These are styled Elohim, or “gods,” in numerous passages. David says, “Worship him, all ye gods”; which Paul applies to Jesus, saying, “Let all the angels of God worship him”. Man, then, was made after the image and likeness of Elohim, but for a while inferior in nature. But the race will not always be inferior in this respect. It is destined to advance to a higher nature; not all the individuals of it; but those of the race “who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that age (αἰὼν μέλλων, the future age) and the resurrection from among the dead (ἐχ νεχρω̂ν) … who can die no more; for they are equal to the angels (ἰσάλλεγοι); and are the sons of God, being the sons of the resurrection.”
The import of the phrase “in the image, after the likeness” is suggested by the testimony, that “Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth”. In this respect, Seth stands related to Adam, as Adam did to the Elohim; but differing in this, that the nature of Adam and Seth was identical; whereas those of Adam and the Elohim were dissimilar. Would any one be at a loss to know the meaning of Seth’s being in the image of his father? The very same thing is meant by Adam being in the image of the Elohim. An image is the representation of some form or shape; metaphorically, it may signify the exact resemblance of one character to another. But in the case before us, the parties had no characters at the time of their birth. They were simply innocent of actual transgression; no scope having been afforded them to develop character. The Elohim, however, were personages of dignity and holiness, as well as of incorruptible, or spiritual, nature. The resemblance, therefore, of Adam to the Elohim as their image was of bodily form, not of intellectual and moral attainment; and this I apprehend to be the reason why the Elohim are styled “men” when their visits to the sons of Adam are recorded in the scriptures of truth. In shape, Seth was like Adam, Adam like the Elohim, and the Elohim, the image of the invisible Increate; the great and glorious archetype of the intelligent universe.
Seth was also “in Adam’s own likeness”. While image, then, hath reference to form or shape, “likeness” hath regard to mental constitution, or capacity. From the shape of his head, as compared with other creatures, it is evident that man has a mental capacity which distinguishes him above them all. Their likeness to him is faint. They can think; but their thoughts are only sensual. They have no moral sentiments, or high intellectual aspirations; but are grovelling in all their instincts, which incline only to the earth. In proportion as their heads assume the human form in the same ratio do they excel each other in sagacity; and, as in the monkey tribe, display a greater likeness to man. But, let the case be reversed; let the human head degenerate from the godlike perfection of the Elohim, the standard of beauty in shape and feature; let it diverge to the image of an ape’s, and the human animal no longer presents the image and likeness of the Elohim; but rather, the chattering imbecility of the creature most resembling it in form. Adam’s mental capacity enabled him to comprehend and receive spiritual ideas, which moved him to veneration, hope, conscientiousness, the expression of his views, affections, and so forth. Seth was capable of the like display of intellectual and moral phenomena; and of an assimilation of character to that of his father. He was therefore in the likeness as well as in the image of Adam; and, in the same sense, they were both “after the likeness of the Elohim”.
But, though Adam was “made in the image and after the likeness” of the “Holy Ones”, the similitude has been so greatly marred, that his posterity present but a faint representation of either. The almost uncontrolled and continuous operation of “the law of sin and death”, styled by philosophers “the law of nature”, which is an indwelling and inseparable constituent of our present economy, has exceedingly deformed the image, and effaced the likeness of God, which man originally presented. It required, therefore, the appearance of a New Man, in whom the image and likeness should re-appear, as in the beginning. This was “the man Christ Jesus”, whom Paul styles “the last Adam”. He is “the Image of the invisible God” (εἰχὼν του̂ Θεου̂); “the effulgent mirror of the glory, and the exact likeness of his person,” (ἀπαύλαδμα τη̂ς δόξης χαι χαραχτὴορ τη̂ς ὑποστάσεως αὐτου̂). Hence, in another place, Paul says, he was “in the form of God” (ἐν μορφῃ̂ Θεου̂) and also “made in the likeness of men, and in the form of a man”. Being thus the image and likeness of the invisible God, as well as of man, who was created in the image and likeness of the Elohim, he made himself equal with God in claiming God for his Father, though born of “sinful flesh”. Though thus highly related in paternity, image and character, he was yet “made a little lower than the angels”; for he appeared not in the higher nature of Elohim, but in the inferior nature of the seed of Abraham. This was the first stage of his manifestation, as the present is of the saints who are his brethren. But he is the appointed “heir of all things, on account of whom” (διʼ ου̂̔), “the ages were rearranged (χατηρτὶσθαι τοὺς αἰω̂νας) by the word of God, so that the things seen exist not from things apparent”. But, says the apostle, “we do not yet see all things put under him: but we see. Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that by the grace of God he should taste death for every man”. Having been thus laid low, and for this gracious purpose, he is no longer “lower than the angels”. He is equal to them in body: and made so much superior to them in rank, dignity, honour, and glory, “as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”
In Jesus, then, raised from the dead incorruptible, and clothed with brightness as when he was transfigured upon the Holy Mount, we behold the image and likeness of the invisible God. When we contemplate him by faith, as we shall hereafter by sight, we see A MIRROR from which the glory of Jehovah is reflected in intellectual, moral, and physical grandeur. He that would know God, must behold Him in Christ. If he be acquainted with Him as He is portrayed in the prophets and apostles, he will understand the character of God, whom no man hath seen, nor can see; Who chargeth His angels with folly, and before Whom the heavens are not clean. Jesus was the true light shining in the darkness of Judea, whose inhabitants “comprehended it not”. Through him, God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shone into the hearts of as many as received him; to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; that so they might receive power to become the sons of God, believing on his name.
How consoling and cheering is it, then, amid all the evils of the present state, that God hath found a ransom, who is willing and able to deliver us from the power of the grave; and not only so, but that “at the manifestation of the sons of God”, when he shall appear in power and great glory, “we shall be like him; because we shall see him as he is”. Then will the saints be “changed into the same image from glory”, now only a matter of hope, “into glory”, as seen and actually possessed, “even as the Lord” himself was changed, when he became “the spirit giving life”, or “a quickening spirit”.
“There is a spiritual body.”
The subject of this section is the second member of the apostle’s proposition, that “there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body”. It is contained in his reply to some of the Corinthian disciples, who, to their shame, had not the knowledge of God, and therefore foolishly inquired, “How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?” He showed them that the animal body had a similar relation to the spiritual body that naked grain has to the plant produced from it according to the law of its reproduction. He explained, that before a plant could be reproduced from a seed, the seed must be put into the soil, and die, or decay away. By the time the plant is established, all vestige of the seed is gone from the root; yet, the identity of the seed with the plant is not lost, inasmuch as the same kind of seed re-appears in the fruit of the plant. The plant is the secondary body of the seed-body, which is the first. There are different kinds of vegetable seed-bodies; and also of animal seed-bodies. These classes of seeds are terrestrial bodies, and have their glory in the bodies produced from them. But there are also celestial bodies, whose glory is of a different character. It is a light blazing and sparkling in the vault of heaven, as may be seen by every eye. Such is the apostle’s illustration of the resurrection of the dead; or, of how they are raised, and for what kind of body they spring forth. “So also”, says he, “is the resurrection of the dead.” We are in this state of the naked grain. We die and are buried, and go to corruption; leaving only our characters behind us written in the book of God. When decayed, a little dust alone remains, as the nucleus of our future selves. When the time comes for the righteous dead to rise, then “He that raised up Christ from the dead will also make alive their mortal bodies by his spirit”, operating through Jesus upon their dust, and fashioning it into the image of the Lord from heaven. Thus, as the Elohim made man out of the dust in their own image and likeness; so, the Lord Jesus, by the same spirit, will also re-fashion from the dust, the righteous of the posterity of the first Adam, into his own image and likeness. This is wonderful, that by a man should come the resurrection of the dead. Truly may he be called the “Wonderful”. Once a babe fondled at the breast, and hereafter the creator of myriads, now only dust and ashes, but then equal to the angels of God; and “sons of the resurrection”, of which he is himself “the First Fruits”.
Having shown “how”, or upon what principles, the righteous dead are raised, the apostle gives us to understand, that their “glory” will consist in brightness; for he cites the splendour of the celestial bodies as illustrative of theirs. This reminds us of the testimony in Daniel, that “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever”. This is repeated by the Lord Jesus, who says, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father”, which assurance Paul also revives in his letter to the saints at Philippi, saying, “Our commonwealth (ἡμω̂ν τὸ πολίτευμα) has a beginning (ὑπάρχει) in the heavens (ἐν οὐρανοι̂ς), out of which also we wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who will transfigure the body of our humiliation, that it may become of like form with the body of his glory, by the power of that which enables him even to subdue all things to himself.”
When we die we are buried, or “sown”, like so many seeds in the earth. We are sown, says the apostle, “in corruption”, “in dishonour”, “in weakness”, and with an animal nature; but, when we are raised to inherit the kingdom, we become incorruptible, glorious, powerful, and possessed of a spiritual nature, such as Jesus and the Elohim rejoice in. Now, a spiritual body is as material, or substantial and tangible, a body as that which we now possess. It is a body purified from “the law of sin and death”. Hence it is termed “holy” and “spiritual”, because it is born of the spirit from the dust, is incorruptible, and sustained by the ruach, or spirit, independently of the neshemeh, or atmospheric air. “That which is born of the flesh”, in the ordinary way, “is flesh”, or an animal body: and “that which is born of the spirit”, by a resurrection to life, “is spirit”, or a spiritual body. Hence, in speaking of Jesus, Paul says, “born of David’s seed according to the flesh; and constituted the son of God in power, according to the spirit of holiness, through the resurrection from the dead”. Thus, he was born of the spirit, and therefore became “a spirit”; and, bemuse highly exalted, and possessing a name which is above every name, he is styled “the Lord the Spirit”.
That the spiritual body is independent of atmospheric air for its support, is clear from the ascension of the Lord Jesus. An animal body can only exist in water, or in atmospheric air, and at a comparatively low altitude above the surface of the earth. Now, the air does not extend beyond forty-five miles; consequently beyond that limit, if they could even attain to it, creatures supported by breath in the nostrils, could no more live than fish in the air Beyond our atmosphere is the ether; through which they only can pass, who, like the Lord Jesus and the angels, possess a nature adapted to it. This is the case with the spiritual nature. Jesus was changed εἰς πνευ̂μα, into a spirit, and was therefore enabled to pass through it to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. Enoch, Elijah, and Moses, are also cases to the point.
The spiritual body is constituted of flesh and bones vitalized by the spirit. This appears from the testimony concerning Jesus. On a certain occasion, he unexpectedly stood in the midst of his disciples, at which they were exceedingly alarmed, supposing they beheld a spirit, or phantasm, as at a former time. But, that they might be assured that it was really he himself, he invited them to handle him, and examine his hands and feet: “For”, said he, “a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have”. Incredulous for joy, he gave them further proof by eating a piece of broiled fish and of a honeycomb. Thomas thrust his hand into his side, and was convinced that he was the same who had been crucified. What stronger proof can we need of the substantial and tangible nature of the spiritual body? It is the animal body purified, not evaporated into gas, or vapour. It is a bloodless body; for in the case of Jesus he had poured out his blood on the cross. The life of the animal body is in the blood; but not so that of the spiritual body: the life of this resides in that mighty power which suspends “the earth upon nothing”, and is diffused through the immensity of space.
When the Lord Jesus said, “A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have”, he did not mean to say that a spiritual body had not; but a spirit such as they thought they saw. “They supposed they had seen a spirit.” In the received reading the same word, πνευ̂μα, is used here as in the text which speaks of Jesus as “the Lord the Spirit”; but evidently, not in the same sense. Indeed, the reading in Griesbach’s edition of the original text is clearly the correct one. The word rendered spirit is properly φάντασμα, a phantom or mere optical illusion; and not πνευ̂μα, spirit. When Jesus walked upon the sea both Matthew and Mark make use of the same phrase as Luke, and say that the disciples when they saw him, “supposed they had seen a spirit, and they cried out for fear”. In both these places the word is phantasma, and not pneuma.
Having affirmed that man stands related to two kinds of body, the apostle gives us to understand, that in the arrangements of God the spiritual system of things is elaborated out of the animal, and not the animal out of the spiritual. The natural world is the raw material, as it were, of the spiritual; the bricks and mortar, so to speak, of the mansion which is to endure for ever. In relation to human nature, two men are presented as its types in the two phases it is to assume. These Paul styles “the First Adam”, and “the Last Adam”, or “the first man”, and “the second man”. The former, he terms “earthy”; because he came from the ground, and goes thither again: and, the latter, “the Lord from heaven”; because, being “known no more after the flesh”, he is expected from heaven as the place of his final manifestation in “the body of his glory”. Then, says John, “we shall be like him”. If, therefore, we have been successful in depicting the Lord as he is now, while seated at the right hand of God; namely, an incorruptible, honourable, powerful, living person, substantial and tangible, shining as the sun, and able to eat and drink, and to display all mental and other phenomena in perfection: if the reader be able to comprehend such an “Image of the invisible God”, he can understand what they are to be, who are accounted worthy to inherit His kingdom. Therefore, says Paul, “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly”, or, Lord from heaven.
This corporeal change of those, who have first been morally “renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that hath created them” from “sinful flesh” into spirit, is an absolute necessity, before they can inherit the Kingdom of God. When we come to understand the nature of this Kingdom, which has to be exhibited in these pages, we shall see that it is a necessity which cannot be dispensed with. “That which is corruptible cannot inherit incorruptibility”, says the apostle. This is the reason why animal men must die, or be transformed. Our animal nature is corruptible; but the Kingdom of God is indestructible, as the prophet testifies, saying, “It shall never be destroyed, nor left to other people; but shall stand for ever”. Because, therefore, of the nature of this Kingdom, “flesh and blood cannot inherit it”; and hence the necessity of a man being “born of the spirit”, or “he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God”. He must be “changed into spirit”, put on incorruptibility and immortality of body, or he will be physically incapable of retaining the honour, glory, and power of the Kingdom for ever, or even for a thousand years.
But, before the apostle concludes his interesting exposition of “the kind of body for which the dead come”, he makes known a secret which was previously concealed from the disciples at Corinth. It would probably have occurred to them, that if flesh and blood could not inherit the Kingdom of God, then those who were living at the epoch of its establishment, being men in the flesh, could have no part in it. But to remove this difficulty, the apostle wrote, saying, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep (χοιμηθησόμεθα, met. to die, be dead), but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for it (the seventh trumpet) shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible (ἱσάγγελοι, equal to the angels), and we shall be changed (ἐς πνευ̂μα, into spirit). For this corruptible (body) must put on incorruptibility (ἀφθορσίαν), and this mortal (body) must put on immortality (ἀθανασίαν). Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
But, that the saints might not misapprehend the matter, especially those of them who may be contemporary with the seventh trumpet-period, he gave further particulars of the secret in another letter. The disciples at Thessalonica were deeply sorrowing for the loss of some of their body who had fallen asleep in death; probably victims to persecution. The apostle wrote to comfort them, and exhorted them “not to sorrow as the others (οἱ λοιποί, i.e., the unbelievers), who have no hope. For if we (the disciples) believe that Jesus died and rose again”; and be not like those, who, by saying, “There is no resurrection of the dead”, in effect deny it; “even so”, as he rose, “them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring forth (ἄξει, lead out, or produce), with him.” He then proceeds to show the “order” in which the saints are changed into spirit, or immortalized, by the Son of Man. “For” says he, “this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we, the living, who remain at the Lord’s coming, shall not anticipate them who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: after that we, the living, who remain, shall be snatched away together with them in clouds to a meeting of the Lord in the air: and thus we shall be with the Lord at all times. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
It will be seen from this, that survivors of the dead were not consoled in the first age of Christianity for the loss of their friends as they are now by those who “improve the death” of the influential among them. In “funeral sermons”, the “immortal souls” of the deceased are transported “on angels’ wings to heaven”, and the living are consoled with the assurance that they are singing the praises of God around the throne; feasting with Abraham, and the prophets, with the saints and martyrs, and with Jesus and his apostles in the Kingdom of God; and they are themselves persuaded, that the souls of their relations, now become angels, are watching over them, and praying for them; and that when they die their own souls will be re-united with them in the realms of bliss. Need I say to the man enlightened in the word, that there is no such comfort, or consolation, as this in the law and the testimony of God? Such traditions are purely mythological; and come of the Nicolaitan dogma of saved “ghosts, and goblins damn’d” which has cancerously extirpated “the truth as it is in Jesus”. No, the apostles did not point men to the day of their death, and its immediate consequents, for comfort; nor did they administer the consolations of the gospel to any who had not obeyed it. They offered comfort only to the disciples; for they only are the heirs with Jesus of the Kingdom of God. They taught these to look to the coming of Christ, and to the resurrection, as the time of a re-union with their brethren in the faith. At death, they should “rest from their labours, and their works should follow them”; and “to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation”. Such were the practical and intelligible “words” with which the apostles comforted their brethren; but words which have become sealed and cabalistic, both to the unlearned and “the wise”.
In conclusion, then, as far as power is concerned, God could have created all things upon a spiritual or incorruptible basis at once. The globe could have been filled with men and women, equal to the angels in nature, power, and intellect, on the sixth day; but the world would have been without a history, and its population characterless. This, however, would not have been according to the plan. The animal must precede the spiritual as the acorn goes before the oak. This will explain many difficulties which are created by systems; and which will for ever remain inexplicable upon the hypotheses they invent. The Bible has to do with things, not imaginations; with bodies, not phantasmata; with “living souls” of every species; with corporeal beings of other worlds; and with incorruptible and undying men; but it is as mute as death, and silent as the grave, having nothing at all to say about such “souls” as men pretend to “cure”; except to repudiate them as a part of that “philosophy and vain deceit”, “which some professing have erred concerning the faith.”
“The woman was of the man.”
Adam, having been formed in the image, after the likeness of the Elohim on the sixth day, remained for a short time alone in the midst of the earthborns of the field. He had no companion who could reciprocate his intelligence; none who could minister to his wants, or rejoice with him in the delights of creation; and reflect the glory of his nature. The Elohim are a society, rejoicing in the love and attachment of one another; and Adam, being like them though of inferior nature, required an object which should be calculated to evoke the latent resemblances of his similitude to theirs. It was no better for man to be alone than for them. Formed in their image, he had social feelings as well as intellectual and moral faculties, which required scope for their practical and harmonious exercise. A purely intellectual and abstractly moral society, untempered by domesticism, is an imperfect state. It may be very enlightened, very dignified and immaculate; but it would also be very formal, and frigid as the poles. A being might know all things, and he might scrupulously observe the divine law from a sense of duty; but something more is requisite to make him amiable, and beloved by either God or his fellows. This amiability the social feelings enable him to develop; which, however, if unfurnished with a proper object, or wholesome excitation, react upon him unfavourably, and make him disagreeable. Well aware of this, Yahweh Elohim said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a help fit for him”.
But previous to the formation of this help, God caused “every living soul” (kol nephesh chayiah) to pass in review before Adam, that he might name them. He saw that each one had its mate; “but for him there was not found a suitable companion”. It was necessary, therefore, to form one, the last and fairest of His handiworks. The Lord had created man in His own “image and glory”; but He had yet to subdivide him into two; a negative and a positive division; an active and a passive half; male and female, yet one flesh. The negatives, or females, of all other species of animals, were formed out of the ground; and not out of the sides of their positive mates: so that the lion could not say of the lioness, “This is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; therefore shall a lion leave his sire and dam, and cleave unto the same lioness for ever”. The inferior creatures are under no such law as this; as primaries, indeed, the earth is their common mother, and the Lord, the “God of all their spirits”. They have no second selves; the sexes in the beginning were from the ground direct; the female was not of the male, though the male is by her: therefore, there is no natural basis for a social, or domestic, law to them.
But in the formation of a companion for the first man, the Lord Elohim created her upon a different principle. She was to be a dependent creature; and a sympathy was to be established between them, by which they should be attached inseparably. It would not have been fit, therefore, to have given her an independent origin from the dust of the ground. Had this been the case, there would have been about the same kind of attachment between men and women as subsists among the creatures below then. The woman’s companionship was designed to be intellectually and morally sympathetic with “the image and glory of God”, whom she was to revere as her superior. The sympathy of the mutually independent earthborns of the field, is purely sensual; and in proportion as generations of mankind lose their intellectual and moral likeness to the Elohim, and fall under the dominion of sensuality; so the sympathy between men and women evaporates into mere animalism. But, I say, such a degenerate result as this was not the end of her formation. She was not simply to be “the mother of all living”; but to reflect the glory of man as he reflected the glory of God.
To give being to such a creature, it was necessary she should be formed out of man. This necessity is found in the law which pervades the flesh. If the feeblest member of the body suffer, all the other members suffer with it; that is, pain even in the little finger will produce distress throughout the system. Bone sympathizes with bone, and flesh with flesh, in all pleasurable, healthful, and painful feelings. Hence, to separate a portion of Adam’s living substance, and from it to build a woman, would be to transfer to her the sympathies of Adam’s nature; and though by her organization able to maintain an independent existence, she would never lose from her nature a sympathy with his, in all its intellectual, moral, and physical manifestations. According to this natural law, then, the Lord Elohim made woman in the likeness of the man, out of his substance. He might have formed her from his body before he became a living soul; but this would have defeated the law of sympathy; for in inanimate matter there is no mental sympathy. She must, therefore, be formed from the living bone and flesh of the man. To do this was to inflict pain; for to cut out a portion of flesh would have created the same sensations in Adam as in any of his posterity. To avoid such an infliction, “the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept”. While thus unconscious of what was doing, and perfectly insensible to all corporeal impressions, the Lord “took out one of his ribs, and then dosed up the flesh in its place”. This was a delicate operation; and consisted in separating the rib from the breast bone and spine. But nothing is too difficult for God. The most wonderful part of the work had yet to be performed. The quivering rib, with its nerves and vessels, had to be increased in magnitude, and formed into a human figure, capable of reflecting the glory of the man. This was soon accomplished; for, on the sixth day, “male and female created he them”: and “the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, he made a woman, and brought her unto the man”. And “God blessed them, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish (fill again) 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 creepeth upon the earth”.
Believing this portion of the testimony of God, need our faith be staggered at the resurrection of the body from the little dust that remains after its entire reduction? Surely, the Lord Jesus Christ by the same power that formed woman from a rib, and that increased a few loaves and fishes to twelve baskets of fragments after five thousand were fed and satisfied, can create multitudes of immortal men from a few proportions of the former selves: and as capable of resuming their individual identity, as was Adam’s rib of reflecting his mental and physical similitude. It is blind unbelief alone that requires the continuance of some sort of existence to preserve the identity of the resurrected man with his former self. Faith confides in the ability of God to do what He has promised, although the believer has not the knowledge of how He is to accomplish it. Believing the wonders of the past, “he staggers not at the promise of God through unbelief; but is strong in faith, giving glory to God”.
The testimony of Moses in regard to the formation of woman brings to light a very interesting phenomenon, which has since been amply proved to be the result of a natural law. It is, that man may be made insensible to pain by being placed in a deep sleep. The Lord Elohim availed Himself of this law, and subjected the man He had made to its operation; and man, because he is in His likeness, is also able to influence his fellow-man in the same way. The art of applying the law is called various names, and may be practised variously. The name does not alter the thing. A man’s rib might be extracted now with as little inconvenience as Adam experienced, by throwing him into a deep sleep, which in numerous cases may be easily effected; but there our imitative ability ceases. We could not build up a woman from the rib. Greater wonders, however, than this will man do hereafter; for by “the Man Christ Jesus” will his Bride be created from the dust, in his own image after his own likeness, “to the glory of God, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen”.
When the Lord God presented the newly formed creature to her parent flesh, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Ishah (or Outman), because she was taken out of Ish, or man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh”. Thus, Adam pronounced upon himself the sentence that was to bind them together for weal or woe, until death should dissolve the union, and set them free for ever. This was marriage. It was based upon the great fact of her formation out of man; and consisted in Adam taking her to himself with her unconstrained consent. There was no religious ceremonial to sanctify the institution; for the Lord Himself even abstained from pronouncing the union. No human ceremony can make marriage more holy than it is in the nature of things. Superstition has made it “a sacrament”, and inconsistently enough, denied it, though “a holy sacrament”, to the very priests she has appointed to administer it. But priests and superstition have no right to meddle with the matter; they only disturb the harmony, and destroy the beauty, of God’s arrangements. A declaration in the presence of the Lord Elohim, and the consent of the woman, before religion was instituted, is the only ceremonial recorded in the case. This, I believe, is the order of things among “the Friends”, or nearly so; and, if all their peculiarities were as scriptural as this, there would be but little cause of complaint against them.
“Man”, says the apostle, “is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man”; and the reason he assigns is, because “The man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man”. She was not formed in the image of man, though she may have been in the image of some of the Elohim. “Man” is generic of both sexes. When, therefore, Elohim said, “Let us make man in our image”; and it is added, “male and female created he them”, it would seem that both the man and the woman were created in the image and likeness of Elohim. In this case some of the Elohim are represented by Adam’s form, and some by Eve’s. I see no reason why it should not be so. When mankind rises from the dead, they will doubtless become immortal men and women; and then, says Jesus, “they are equal to the angels”; on an equality with them in every respect. Adam only was in the image of Him that created him; but then, the Elohim that do the commandments of the invisible God, are the virile portion of their community: Eve was not in their image. Theirs was restricted to Adam; nevertheless, she was after the image and likeness of some of those comprehended in the pronoun “our”. Be this as it may, though not in the image, she was in the likeness of Adam; and both “very good” according to the subangelic nature they possessed.
“We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”
In writing to the disciples at Ephesus, the apostle illustrated the submission due from wives to their husbands by the obedience rendered to Christ by the community of the faithful in his day. “As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” This was an injunction of absolute submission to their Christian husbands as unto the Lord himself; because “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church”. But, while he enjoins this unqualified obedience, he exhorts their husbands to return them due benevolence, not to treat them with bitterness, but to love them “even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for it”. If unbelieving wives, however, were disobedient and perverse, and chose to depart, “let them; a brother is not under bondage, in such cases”. The love which should subsist between Christian brethren and sisters in the married state, is such as Christ manifested for the church by anticipation. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us”, says the apostle. This is the greatest love a man can possibly show, that he should die for his enemies; and this is the kind of love which Paul commends to the attention of the Ephesians; though always on the supposition, that the wives “adorn the hidden man of the heart with that which is incorruptible, even a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord: whose daughters such women are, as long as they do well, and are not dismayed at any threat.”
As he had introduced the subject of matrimonial love and obedience, and had adduced the love of Christ for them all as his church, by way of illustration’ he proceeds to show the object for which he loved them even unto death; the relationship which was subsequently established between them; and the sacrifice which they ought cheerfully to make for him, who had loved them so devotedly. His object in giving himself for the church before it was formed, was that those who should afterwards compose it “might be sanctified and cleansed in the laver of the water (τῳ̂ λουτρῳ̂ του̂ ὕδατος) by the word (ἐν ῥήματι), that”, at the resurrection, “he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but holy and without blemish”. “Ye are clean”, said Jesus to his disciples, “through the word which I have spoken to you.” This word, which is defined to be “the law and the testimony”, is the great instrument of holiness and purification. It changes men’s minds; loosens their attachment to earthly things; causes them to place their affection on things above; creates a new and right spirit within them; diffuses the love of God abroad in their hearts; separates them from sinners; leads them into Christ; and develops in their lives, fruit characteristic of that repentance which needs not to be repented of. The Lord Jesus styles it, “the word of the kingdom”; and Peter, the incorruptible seed; and Paul, “the word of the truth of the gospel”; and John, “God’s seed”; and by James it is termed, “the word of truth”, with which the invariable and unvacillating Father of lights begets His children, that they should be “a kind of firstfruits of his creatures”. It is by this word that an individual is renewed or renovated; so as, in an intellectual and moral sense, to become a “new man”, as appears from what the apostle says to the brethren at Colosse: “Ye have put on the new man, which is renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him”. This renewing affects the spirit of the mind, which may be known to be renovated by a man having turned from his natural subserviency to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life”, to “righteousness and true holiness”. When the mental disposition, called “the heart”, is renewed, it becomes a mirror, as it were, in which one skilled in the word of the kingdom, can discern the spirit, or behold a reflection of the Divine Nature. This image of God in a man’s character can only be created by the word of the truth of the gospel of the kingdom. A man may be very “pious” according to the standard of piety set up and approved by his fellow men; but, if he be ignorant of the renewing elements,—if he neither know nor understand, and consequently, and necessarily, be faithless of the law and testimony of God, “there is no light in him”. He is walking in a vain show; “in the vanity of his mind, having his understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in him, because of the blindness of his heart”. The law and the testimony are styled by Peter, “God’s knowledge”; “whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that BY THESE”, i.e., by the understanding and belief of these, “ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”. Now, the “testimony of God” came by the Holy Spirit, by which God testified in His prophets; and, in the last days, spoke through His Son and the apostles. Hence, the effects of the word believed are attributed to the spirit; and because the word sets men to breathing in God’s moral atmosphere, it is termed “spirit and life”. These remarks will explain the saying of the apostle to Titus, “According to his mercy God saved us through the laver of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit”. This is parallel to the saying, “Sanctified and cleansed in the laver of the water by the word”; for the reader must not suppose, that any man, woman, or child, who is ignorant of the word, can be regenerated, or born again, by being plunged into a bath. The Holy Spirit does not renew the heart of man as he renews the mortal body, when through Jesus he raises it from the dead. In this case, the power is purely physical. But, when the heart is the subject of renewal it is by the knowledge of the written testimony of God, or the word. “God”, says Peter, speaking of the Gentile believers, “purified their hearts by faith”; and Paul prays, “That Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith”. Now, faith comes by hearing the word of God; in other words, it is the belief of God’s testimony concerning things to come, which are not seen; and without which, it is impossible to please Him. When a man is renewed by the truth, he is renewed by the spirit, and not before. There is no such thing in the scriptures as a renewed ignorant man. Ignorance of the testimony of God, and regeneration, are utterly incompatible. The truth is the purifier to those only who understand and obey it; and there is no moral purity, or sanctification of spirit before God, without it. It is only believers of the truth, then, who can be the subjects of a regeneration by being submerged “in the laver of the water”. When they come out of this, they have been “washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, by the spirit of God”.
The truth to be believed is the gospel of the kingdom and name of Jesus Christ. When this is understood, and heartily received, it produces a disposition of mind, such as was in Abraham and Jesus, and which is called repentance. Believers, so disposed, are the begotten of God, and have become as little children. They believe “the exceeding great and precious promises”, together with the things testified concerning the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus. He fell into a deep sleep; and, while thus unconscious and insensible, his side was opened by a spear, and forthwith rushed blood and water. Being awakened out of his sleep, he was built up a spiritual body, flesh and bones; and, by his ascension, presented to the Father as the federal representative of his church. This is the aggregate of those, who, believing these things, have been introduced into Christ through the laver of the water; according to the saying of the scriptures, “Ye are all the children of God in Christ Jesus through the faith. For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (ἐνεδύσασθε) … “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” A community of such individuals as these constitutes the mystical body of Christ. By faith, its elements are “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones”. Hence, they are “bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh”; and therefore, the beloved Eve of the last Adam, the Lord who is to come from heaven, and make her of the same holy spiritual nature as his own. Thus, the church is figuratively taken out of the side of her Lord; for every member of it believes in the remission of sins through his shed blood; and they all believe in the real resurrection of his flesh and bones, for their justification unto life by a similar revival from the dead. “Your bodies are the members”, or flesh and bones, “of Christ; … and he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit”. “I have espoused you to one husband,” says Paul, “that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”. It will be perceived, then, that the church as defined, is in the present state the espoused of Christ, but not actually married. She is in the formative state, being moulded under the hand of God. When she shall be completed, God will then present her to the Man from heaven, “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white”. This is she of whom the psalmist sings, “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people and thy father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. The king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework; the virgins, her companions that follow her, shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shah they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace”. The presentation of Eve to the first Adam was the signal of rejoicing to the Morning Stars; and we perceive that the manifestation of Messiah’s Queen will be attended with the “Alleluia” of a great multitude, sounding like the roaring of many waters, and the echoes of mighty thunderings, saying, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to the Lord God omnipotent: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his betrothed hath made herself ready”.
Such is the relationship and destiny of the true church, styled by Paul, “the One Body”. It is forming by the word; or, taking it as formed in the apostolic age, but not presented, the apprehension of the apostle has been sadly realized. “I fear”, says he, “let by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” The tempter has seduced the betrothed. The simplicity in Christ is no longer characteristic of a community. It is corrupted on every side; and the ruin of the transgression alone prevails. Nevertheless, although there be no hope for the professing world, seeing that it is too “wise in its own conceit”; too self-satisfied with its supposed illumination; glorifying itself, and saying, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”, and knows not, and will not be persuaded, “that it is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”—seeing, I say, that this is the irremediable condition of the religious public, yet there remains scope for the deliverance of those who are disposed to obey God rather than men. If they would become bone of Christ’s bone, and flesh of his flesh, they must “leave father and mother, and be joined unto the wife”. They find themselves now, perhaps, members of denominations as they happen to be led. These are their parentage according to the fleshly mind. They must be forsaken, and men must become “one flesh” and “one spirit” in the Lord, if they would inherit the kingdom of God. “This is a great mystery”, says Paul; “but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” This mystery, I have endeavoured to elucidate in these remarks, though necessarily in a very brief, and therefore imperfect manner. When I shall have finished the work before me, it will have been more minutely unfolded, and, I trust, convincingly explained.
When Moses penned the words “in Eden”, he was westward in “the wilderness of the land of Egypt”. From the expression, then, we are to understand that there was a country styled Eden in his day, which lay to the eastward of his position. Adam and Eve were its aborigines. It was “the East” of the Egyptians, as Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois are “the West” to the Atlantic American States. It was quite an extensive range of country, and in after times became the seat of powerful dominions. It appears to have been well watered by the branches, or tributaries, of “a river that went”, or flowed, “out of it”. These were four principal streams, whose names, as given by Moses, are the Pison, “which compasseth the whole land of Havilah”; the Gihon, “the same is it which compasseth the whole land of Khush”, or Khushistan; the third, the Hiddekel, or Tigris, “that is it which goeth eastward to Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates”, frequently styled in the scriptures, “the Great River”. On the map before me, there are four rivers which flow together, and at length form a river which fails into the Persian Gulf. This indicates the country called Eden, namely, that which is watered by these rivers; so that we may reasonably conclude that in early times it comprehended the land east of the Jordan, Syria, Assyria, part of Persia, Khushistan, and the original settlements of Ishmael.
This country, in after ages, came to be denominated “the Garden of the Lord”; and the kings who reigned in it, “the Trees of Eden”. It was no doubt termed the Lord’s garden as a whole, from the fact of His having, in the beginning, planted a garden in it, where He put the man; so that the name of a small part of Eden came to be applied by his family in the time of Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, and Moses, to the whole region; more especially as the future paradise is to occupy a considerable portion of its ancient limits.
The plain of Jordan appears to have been part of Eden from the following texts. “Lot beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere as the garden of the Lord. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east; and dwelled in the cities of the plain”; that is, in the East, or Eden.
There is a prophecy in Ezekiel, predicting the overthrow of the Egyptian Pharaoh by the King of Babylon, “the mighty one of the heathen”. In setting forth the certainty of his overthrow, God recapitulates the power and dominion of the Ninevite dynasty of Assyria; which, however, was not able to withstand the King of Babylon, and therefore there was no hope for Egypt of a successful resistance. In the recapitulation, the Ninevite Assyrian is styled, “a cedar in Lebanon”; that is, his dominion extended over the land of the ten tribes of Israel, in which are the cedar-crowned mountains of Lebanon. After describing the greatness of his power by the magnitude of the cedar, the Lord says, “the cedars in the garden of God could not hide him; nor was any tree in the garden of God like unto him in his beauty. I made him fair by the multitude of his branches; so that all the trees of Eden, in the garden of God, envied him”. These trees are representative of the royalties of Mesopotamia, Syria, Israel, etc., which the king of Assyria had abolished; and which “could not hide him”, or prevent him getting the ascendancy over them. It is clear, then, from the terms of this beautiful allegory, that the countries I have indicated are comprehended in Eden; that as a whole it is styled the garden of the Lord; and that the trees are the royalties of the land.
That Eden extended to the Mediterranean, or “Great Sea”, appears from Ezekiel’s prophecy against Tyre. Addressing the Tyrian royalty, he says, “Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God.… Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. Therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God. Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” The meaning of this is obvious to one acquainted with the history of the kingdom of Tyre. It was a royalty of Palestine in Upper Galilee, whose king, Hiram, was in intimate alliance with Solomon. He appears to have been a proselyte worshipper of the God of Israel; whom his successors some time afterwards forsook; and therefore God suppressed the kingdom of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar for seventy years; and finally by the Greeks.
Eden has been a field of blood from the beginning of the contest between the “Seed of the Woman” and the “Seed of the Serpent”, until now; and will yet continue to be until the serpent power be broken upon the mountains of Israel. It was in Eden that Abel died by the hand of Cain. There also Abel’s antitype was wounded in the heel, when put to death upon the accursed tree; and lastly, to fill up the measure of iniquity of the blood-defiled land, the serpents of Israel slew the son of Barachias between the temple and altar. But the blood of God’s saints shed in Eden, did not cry to Him for vengeance without effect: for as the Lord Jesus declared, so it came to pass. “Behold”, said he to the vipers of his day, “I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye will kill and crucify; and some of them ye will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the land, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar”.
Eden is emphatically the Lord’s land, or garden; and from the creation till the breaking off of Israel’s olive branch, the principal, and almost only, theatre upon which He exhibited His wonders to the nations in the days of old. Egypt and its wilderness may be excepted for forty years. Beyond its limits was outer darkness. Eden only was favoured with light, until the gospel found its way among the nations of the west; and although darkness covers the land, and gross darkness the people; yet the Lord, its light, will arise upon it and His glory shall be seen there.
“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden.”
While Eden was “the East” eastward of the wilderness, the garden of Eden was eastward in Eden. “Eden the garden of the Lord”, and “the garden of Eden”, are quite different ideas. The former designates the whole of Eden as the Lord’s garden; the latter, as merely a plantation in some part of it. To plant a garden is to fence in a certain piece of land, and to adorn it with fruit and ornamental trees and shrubs. If unenclosed, and consequently unguarded, it is not a garden. The name of the plantation implies that its surface was protected from the invasion of the animals, whose habits made them unfit tenants of a garden. The place, then, was an enclosure, planted with “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food”. Its situation, Moses says, was “eastward”, having a river flowing through it to water it. I suspect from this, that it lay somewhere between the Gulf of Persia, and the junction of the Euphrates and the Tigris. The text reads, “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads”; which I should interpret thus:—a river flowing out of Eden was caused to water the garden on its way to the sea; and from the garden northward, the river diverged into its branches, which terminated at four several heads. The heads were not in the garden, but at remote distances from it. The garden of Eden was watered by only one, and not by four rivers; as it is written, “a river went out to water it”; which certainly excludes the four from its enclosure.
In the Septuagint of this text, the word garden is expressed by παράδεισος, which is transferred into our language without translation. Paradise is a Persian word adopted into the Greek, and expressed in Hebrew by parades or pardes. It signifies a park, a forest, or preserve; a garden of trees of various kinds, a delightful grove, etc. It is found in these texts: “I made me gardens (paradises) and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits”; and, “A garden enclosed (a paradise) is my sister spouse …; thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates”, etc. The latter text is part of a description of Solomon’s vineyard, representative of that part of Eden over which he reigned; and metaphorical of its beauty, fertility, and glory, when the Heir of the vineyard, the “greater than Solomon”, shall come to Zion, and “marry the land” of Eden, as defined in the everlasting covenant made with Abraham. For so it is written, “Thy land, O Zion, shall no more be termed desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah (i.e., my beloved is in her), and thy land Beulah (i.e., married): for Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee”.
When the marriage, or union, takes place between the sons of Zion, and their king, with the Land of Promise in Eden, it will again become the garden of the Lord, or Paradise, which His own right hand hath planted. For “the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody”. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” At that time, “I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle tree, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box together: that they (Israel) may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it”.
These testimonies reveal a future state in regard to Eden, of which its primitive garden is a beautiful and appropriate representation. Once the seat of a paradise on a small scale, it is destined to be transformed from its present desolation into “the Paradise of God”. The country of the four rivers, even to the west from sea to sea, is predetermined to shine forth as “the glory of all lands”. Paradise hath no other locality. Other orbs may have their paradises: but as far as man is concerned, the Paradise of God will be by Him planted in Eden according to “the promise”. “In that day, shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land”; that is, of Eden: “whom the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt, my people, and Assyria, the work of my hands, and Israel, mine inheritance”.
In the letter to the congregation at Ephesus, the Spirit says, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God”. The simple import of this is as follows. The saints of God are termed in scripture, “Trees of Righteousness”, which bring forth good fruit; and the King of Saints, the Tree of Life. This, then, is the symbol of Christ as the giver of life. “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me”, says Christ, “even he shall live by me.“ Hence, to give a man to eat of the Tree of Life, is for the Lord Jesus to raise a true believer from among the dead to incorruptible life. He will then eat, or partake, of that life, which he is ordained to bestow, who said of himself, “I am the way, and the truth, arid the life”. But none of the believers, or heirs of life, can partake of the life-giving tree, until it is manifested in the Paradise of God; that is, until the Lord appears in his Kingdom. We shall see in the second part of this work the particulars concerning this Kingdom. I shall, therefore, content myself with remarking here, that when it is manifested, it will be established in the Lord’s land; that is, in Eden: hence, the promise, interpreted into plain English, is—“To the believer that overcomes the world, will I, the Lord, who am the life, give glory, honour, and immortality, when I come to stand on the Mount of Olives, and to re-establish the kingdom and throne of David, as in the days of old”. There is no immortality, nor Paradise until then; neither can any attain to them unless they “overcome the world”; for the promise is only “to him that overcometh”.
But to this doctrine sceptics object, that Paradise must have a present existence somewhere; seeing that, on the day of his crucifixion, Jesus told the thief that he should be with them in Paradise on that day; as it is written, “I say to thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise”. I admit, that it is so written in English; but I find there are various readings and punctuations in the Greek. In the first place, the thief’s petition is differently worded in some manuscripts. In the common version it reads “Remember me, Lord, when thou comest in thy kingdom”, ἐν τῃ̂ βασιλεία σου but in others, it is various, though in sense the same—as, “Remember me when thou comest in the day of thy coming”, ἐν τῃ̂ ἡμέρᾳ τη̂̓ς ἐλεύσεως σου. Now the Lord “comes in his kingdom” “in the day of his coming”; therefore, I say, the two phrases are in sense the same, only the latter more plainly suggests to “the unskilful in the word of righteousness”, the import of the term “to-day” in the answer to the petition.
In the next place, Jesus did not evade the thief’s prayer, but gave him a direct and intelligible reply. He told him, in effect, that what he requested should be granted: in other words, that when he was himself in his kingdom he should be there too. But does the reader imagine, that Jesus told him the time when, seeing that he was not even himself acquainted with the time when the Jewish State, as constituted by the Mosaic code, should be abolished? And, till this was set aside, he could not come in his kingdom; for then he is to sit and rule, and be a priest upon his throne; which he could not be co-existent with the law: because the law of Moses would permit no one to officiate as a priest, who was not of the tribe of Levi; and Jesus was descended from Judah. “Heaven and earth”, or the Mosaic constitution of things in Eden, “shall pass away”, said Jesus: “but of that day and hour knoweth no man—no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father”.
Furthermore, does the reader suppose, that the Lord informed the thief of the time when he would come in his kingdom; or that it could possibly be, that he came in his kingdom on the day of his suffering; seeing that on the forty-third day afterwards, he refused to tell even the apostles, the times and the seasons when he would “restore AGAIN the kingdom to Israel”? “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” This was his language to the apostles. The kingdom could not be restored again to Israel under the Mosaic code. This had “decayed, and waxed old, and was ready to vanish away”. It was to be “cast down to the ground”, the daily sacrifice was to be taken away, and the temple and city to be demolished, by the Little Horn of the Goat, or Roman power. To tell them of the times and the seasons of the kingdom, would have been to have informed them of this national catastrophe; of which they were kept in ignorance, that they might not fall asleep, but be continually on the watch.
But, though Jesus did not then know the times and the seasons of the kingdom, he knows them now; for, about thirty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, “God gave him a revelation of the things which shortly must come to pass”; and in this apocalypse, the times and seasons are set forth in order. But, to return to the case of the thief. In saying “to-day”, Jesus did not, and could not, tell him the precise time when he should be with him in Paradise. In some translations, there is a various, and no doubt the correct, punctuation. The comma, instead of being after “thee”, is placed after “to-day”; as, “I say unto thee to-day,—thou shalt be with me in the Paradise, ἐν τῳ̂ παραδείσῳ”: that is, “At this time, or, I now say to thee, thou shalt be with me in my kingdom in the day of my coming”.
But, if the objector insist upon an interpretation of the passage as it stands in the common version, then let it be so; his position will be by no means less easy to carry. His instantaneous translation of souls to Paradise at death, as far as it is fortified by this passage, hangs upon a thread, like the sword of the Syracusan tyrant; and that is, the word “to-day”. This is a scripture term, and must be explained by the scripture use of it. In the sacred writings, then, the term is used to express a period of over two thousand years. The use of it occurs in David, as it is written, “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, lest ye enter not into my rest”. The apostle, commenting upon this passage about one thousand years after it was written, says, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day”; and, “Labour to enter into the rest that remaineth for the people of God”. Thus, it was called “to-day”, when David wrote; and “to-day”, when Paul commented upon it. This was a long day; but one, however, which is not yet finished; and will continue unclosed until the manifestation of the rest in the Paradise of God. If it be admitted, that we are still in “the day of salvation”, then it must be received as true, that we are living “while it is called to-day”—that “to-day” is now; and this “now” will be present until the Lord Jesus enters into his rest which he cannot do until he has finished the work God has given him to do. “Behold, now is the time of acceptance; behold, now is the day”, or the “to-day” “of salvation”,—a period of time from Joshua to the future glorious manifestation of Christ in the kingdom, to say nothing of “the accepted time” to the patriarchs, before the typical rest of Israel in the promised land.
Lastly, is it not the very climax of absurdity to talk of Jesus being “in his kingdom” or “in the Paradise” which were synonymous, while he was lying dead in the tomb? Is his kingdom among the dead? He told the Pharisees it was among the living. “Oh, but”, says one, “he descended into hell.” “True” says another, “and while he was there he preached the gospel to the dead, and proclaimed repentance to the spirits in prison. He and the thief, that is to say, their souls, were there together as soon as death released them. This was Paradise”. “Not exactly so”, adds a third. “That savours too much of purgatory. They were in an intermediate state of blessedness before the throne of God, in the kingdoms beyond the skies.” “How can that be”, says a fourth; “is the blessedness in God’s presence only intermediate? They went straight to the fulness of joy for evermore.” Why, then, was Jesus raised that he might go to the Father, if he were with the Father before; and, where did he leave the thief, for he was not raised; and if not raised, but left behind, how can he be with the Lord in Paradise? When this question is answered, it will be time enough to glance at the traditions extant upon this subject—dogmatisms, however, which none who understand the gospel of the kingdom can possibly entertain.
“Let them have dominion.”
The garden being prepared in Eden, the Lord placed the man there whom He had formed. It was there the “deep sleep” came over him, and he first beheld his bride. They were now settled in Paradise; and, protected by its enclosure from the intrusion of the inferior creatures, they passed their days in blissful tranquillity; innocent of transgression, and in peaceful harmony with God and the creatures He had made. Adam dressed the garden and kept it. This was his occupation. Though as yet sinless, it was no part of his enjoyments to be idle. To eat bread in the sweat of the face is sorrowful; but to work without toil is an element of health and cheerfulness; and is doubtless the rule of life to all the intelligences of the universe of God.
But he was not simply an inhabitant of the Paradise, placed there “to dress and keep it”. The work before him was to begin the replenishing and subjugation of the earth. For in the blessing pronounced upon them, God said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it”. The material was all before him. The earth was to be peopled; and the culture of the garden, as the model of improvement, to be extended as his posterity spread themselves over its surface.
This command to “replenish the earth” strengthens my previous conclusion, that the earth had been inhabited at some period anterior to the creation of the six days; and that its population had all been swept away by a catastrophe similar to the Noachic flood. That “replenish” means to fill the earth again, is manifest from the use of the word in the blessing pronounced upon Noah. As it is written, “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”. There is no room for dispute here. Every one must admit that it signifies to fill again; for, having been filled by Adam, all his posterity, except eight persons, were swept away by the deluge; and Noah and his sons were to supply their place, or refill it, as at this day. I see, therefore, no good reason why the same word should not be similarly interpreted in both cases; which I have concluded to do.
Man’s conquests in a sinless state were to be over rocks, mountains, seas, and rivers, by which he might subdue them to his own convenience and enjoyment; and, perhaps, had he continued innocent of transgression until his mission was accomplished; that is, until by his faithfulness he had filled the earth again with people, and had subdued it from its natural wildness to a paradise state—his nature would have been exalted to an equality with the Elohim; and the earth, without any violent changes, have become his dwelling-place for ever. But, the Creator foreseeing that man would transgress, laid the foundation of the earth upon such principles as would afterwards accommodate it to his altered circumstances. Had He foreseen a result different from what has actually come to pass, He would, doubtless, have framed or constituted it with reference to that result. But, while He did not necessitate man’s transgression, His plan was to constitute a natural world with reference to it as its basis; and then, on the other hand, without necessitating man’s obedience, to constitute a spiritual, or incorruptible, order of things upon the earth, having an intelligent and voluntary conformity to His precepts, as the foundation upon which it should be built. This, then, is the present order of things. Man is replenishing the earth and subduing it. He is reducing it from its natural wildness. Subduing land and sea to the convenience of nations; and subjugating, likewise, the wild creatures of his own species to law and order, and exterminating the untameable;—he is preparing the world for an advance to a more exalted, yet not perfect, state, which the Man from heaven shall introduce, and establish; not, however, upon the destruction of nature and society, but upon the improvement of the first, and the regeneration of the last; which shall continue for a thousand years, as the intermediate state between the present purely animal and natural, and the final purely spiritual, or incorruptible, and unchangeable constitution of the globe.
In carrying his mission into effect, it was necessary that the animal man should have dominion. He was too feeble to execute it without assistance; and there was no source from which he could receive voluntary aid. It was needful, therefore, that he should receive power by which he could compel the co-operation he required. For this reason, as well as for his own defence against the inconvenient familiarity of the inferior creatures with their lord, God gave him dominion over them all. “Have dominion”, said He, “over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” This was the charter of man’s sovereignty over flesh and blood. Himself the king, and all living creatures the subjects of his dominion. As to his own species, however, he was permitted to be neither a law to himself, nor to his fellows.
The right of man to exercise lordship over his fellow-man beyond the circle of his own family, was not granted to him “by the grace of God”. God’s grace only conferred upon him what I have already stated. Even his domestic sovereignty was to cease, when the time came for one to leave father and mother. After this separation, all paternal rule ended, and the only bondage which continued was the yoke of affection. Man rules in his family by the grace of God, which says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long in the land”. This obedience is founded on the fitness of things; but even this is not enjoined absolutely. It is only “parents in the Lord”, who have a divine fight to expect unqualified obedience from the Christian children of their household. If parents not in the Lord, require their children to do contrary to, or to abstain from doing, His will, obedience should be firmly, but affectionately, refused. This would probably produce trouble and division in the family, if the parent were an uncultivated man of the flesh, or a bigot. In that case, he would behave like a tyrant, and endeavour to coerce them to obey him, rather than their conviction of the truth; whose nature it is to divide between flesh and spirit, sinners and saints, and to create a man’s foes out of the members of his own household. But such children should remember that “it is better to obey God than man” and that he that loves parents more than Jesus, is not worthy of him. Better leave the paternal roof as an outcast, than dishonour him by preferring their laws to his.
If man’s domestic sovereignty be thus qualified and limited by the grace of God, shall we say that he conferred on man “a divine right” to govern his species in its spiritual and civil concerns? To found kingdoms and empires, and to invent religions as a means of imparting durability to their thrones? What God permits and regulates is one thing; and what He appoints is another. He permits thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, to exist; He regulates them, setting over them the basest of men, if such answer His intentions best; prevents them circumventing His purposes; and commands His saints to “be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves punishment. For the magistrates are not a terror to good deeds, but to the evil.… Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is a servant of God unto that which is good for thee.”
God did not commission man to set up these powers. All He required of him was to obey whatsoever He chose to appoint. But, when man became a rebel, his rebellious spirit was transmitted to his posterity; and, refusing to be governed by the grace of God, they founded dominions of their own, upon principles which were utterly subversive of the government of God upon the earth. He could as easily have quashed their treasonable proceedings as He stopped the building of Babel; but in His wisdom He chose rather to give them scope, and to subject their usurpations to such regulations as would in the end promote His own glory and their confusion. Therefore it is that Paul says every power is of God; and the powers that be are ordained of Him. This is matter of great consolation and rejoicing to His saints; for, though the tyrants may propose, it is God only that disposes events. The saints who understand the word will keep aloof from politics. None are more interested in them than they; but they will mix themselves up neither with one party nor another; for God regulates them all: therefore to be found in any such strife would be to contend in some way or other against Him. The servant of the Lord must not strive, except “for the faith once delivered to the saints”. For this he is commanded to “contend earnestly”, because such a contention is to “fight the good fight of faith”, and to “lay hold on eternal life”.
In the beginning, then, God reserved to Himself the right of dominion over the human race. He gave it not to Adam, nor to his posterity; but claimed the undivided sovereignty over all man’s concerns for Himself by right of creation; and for him whom He might ordain as His representative upon earth. All the kingdoms that exist, or have existed, with the exception of the Commonwealth of Israel, are based upon the usurpation of the rights of God, and of His Son, Jesus Christ; nor is there a king or queen, pope or emperor, among the Gentiles, who reigns “by the grace of God”. They reign by the same grace, or favour, by which sin reigns over the nations. They have no favour in the eyes of God. He bears with them for a time: and makes use of them as His sword to maintain order among the lawless; until His gracious purposes in favour of His saints shall be manifested, according to the arrangement of the times He has disposed. Then “will his saints be joyful in glory; and the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord”.
“Out of the ground made the Lord God to grow the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.”
These are the most remarkable trees that have ever appeared in the vegetable kingdom. They were “pleasant to the sight, and good for food”. This, however, is all that is said about their nature and appearance. They would seem to have been the only trees of their kind; for, if they had been common, Eve’s desire to taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and their inclination to eat of that of the Tree of Life, could have been gratified by eating of other similar trees. What the fruits were we cannot tell; not is it important to know. Supposition says, that the Tree of Knowledge was an apple tree; but testimony makes no deposition on the subject; therefore we can believe nothing in the case.
These trees, however, are interesting to us, not on account of their natural characteristics, but because of the interdict which rested upon them. Adam and Eve were permitted to take freely of all the other trees in the garden, “but of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil”, said the Lord God, “thou shalt not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”. Naturally, it was as good for food as any other tree; but, as soon as the Lord God laid His interdict upon it, its fruit became death to the eater; not instant death, however, for their eyes were to be opened, and they were to become as the gods, or Elohim, being acquainted with good and evil even as they. The final consequence of eating of this tree being death, it may be styled the Tree of Death in contradistinction to the Tree of Life. Decay of body, and consequent termination of life, ending in corruption, or mortality, was the attribute which this fatal tree was prepared to bestow upon the individual who should presume to touch it.
In the sentence, “Thou shalt surely die”, death is mentioned in the Bible for the first time. But Adam lived several centuries after he had eaten of the tree, which has proved a difficulty in the definition of the death there indicated, hitherto insuperable upon the principles of the creeds. Creed theology paraphrases the sentence thus—“In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die figuratively, thine immortal soul becoming liable to the pains of hell for ever; and thy body shall die literally afterwards”. But, it is very evident to one unspoiled by the philosophy of the creeds, that this interpretation is not contained in the text. The obscurity which creates the difficulty does not lie in the words spoken, but in the English version of them. The phrase “in the day” is supposed to mean that on the very day itself upon which Adam transgressed, he was to die in some sense. But this is not the use of the phrase even in the English of the same chapter. For in the fourth verse of the second chapter, it is written, “in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew”. This, we know, was the work of six days; so that “in the day” is expressive of that period. But in the text before us, the same phrase represents a much longer period, for Adam did not die until he was 930 years old; therefore, the day in which he died did not terminate till then.
But it may be objected that the day in the text must be limited to the day of the eating; because it says, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”: and as he was not eating of it 930 years, but only partook of it once on a certain natural day, it cannot mean that long period. But I am not prepared to admit that the physical action of eating is the only eating indicated in the text. Adam fed upon the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge all the time from his eating of the natural fruit until he died. The natural fruit in its effect was figurative of the fruit of transgressing the interdict, which said, “Thou shalt not eat of it”. The figurative fruit was of a mixed character. It was “good”, or pleasant to the flesh; but “evil” in its consequences. “By the law“, says the apostle, “is the knowledge of sin”; for “sin is the transgression of law”. Sin is pleasant to the flesh; because the deeds forbidden are natural to it. It is that “good” fruit which the animal man delights to eat. The flesh, the eyes, and life, have all their desires, or lusts, which, when gratified, constitute the chiefest good that men under their dominion seek after.
But God has forbidden indulgence in these lusts. He says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”. And again, “The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”: and, “If ye live after the flesh ye shall die”. This language is unmistakable. To indulge, then, in the lawless pleasures, which “sinful flesh” terms “good”, is to “bring forth sin”, or to bear fruit unto death; because the “wages of sin is death”. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.” All “the ills that flesh is heir to” make up the “evil” which has come upon man as the result of transgressing the law of God, which said to Adam, “Thou shalt not eat thereof”. The fruit of his eating was the gratification of his flesh in the lusts thereof, and the subjection of himself and posterity to the “evil” of eating of the cursed ground in sorrow all the days of their lives.
All the posterity of Adam, when they attain the age of puberty, and their eyes are in the opening crisis, begin to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. Previous to that natural change, they are in their innocency. But, thenceforth, the world, as a serpent-entwined fruit tree, stands before the mind, enticing it to take and eat, and enjoy the good things it affords. To speculate upon the lawfulness of compliance is partly to give consent. There must be no reasoning upon the harmlessness of conforming to the world. Its enticements without, and the sympathizing instincts of the flesh within, must be instantly suppressed; for, to hold a parley with its lusts, is dangerous. When one is seduced by “the deceitfulness of sin”, “he is drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death”: in other words, he plucks the forbidden fruit, and dies, if not forgiven.
Furthermore, the sentence “Thou shalt surely die”, is proof that the phrase “in the day” relates to a longer period than the day of the natural eating. This was not a sentence to be consummated in a moment, as when a man is shot or guillotined. It required time; for the death threatened was the result, or finishing, of a certain process; which is very clearly indicated in the original Hebrew. In this language the phrase is muth temuth, which literally rendered is, DYING THOU SHALT DIE. The sentence, then, as a whole reads thus—“In the day of thy eating from it dying thou shalt die”. From this reading, it is evident, that Adam was to be subjected to a process, but not to an endless process; but to one which should commence with the transgression, and end with his extinction. The process is expressed by muth, dying; and the last stage of the process by temuth, thou SHALT DIE.
This view is fully sustained by the paraphrase found in the following words:—“Cursed is the ground for thy sake: in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return”. The context of this informs us, that Adam, having transgressed, had been summoned to trial and judgment for the offence. The Lord God interrogated him, saying, “Hast thou eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” Adam confessed his guilt, which was sufficiently manifest before by his timidity, and shame at his nakedness. The offence being proved, the Judge then proceeded to pass sentence upon the transgressors. This He did in the order of transgression; first upon the Serpent; then upon Eve; and lastly upon Adam, in the words of the text. In these, the ground is cursed, and the man sentenced to a life of sorrowful labour, and to a resolution into his original and parent dust. The terms in which the last particular of his sentence is expressed, are explanatory of the penalty annexed to the law. “Thou shalt return unto the ground”, and “Unto dust shalt thou return”, are phrases equivalent to “Dying thou shalt die”. Hence, the divine interpretation of the sentence, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”, is, “In the day of thy eating all the days of thy life of sorrow, returning thou shalt return unto the dust of the ground whence thou wast taken”. Thus, “dying”, in the meaning of the text, is to be the subject of a sorrowful, painful, and laborious existence, which wears a man out, and brings him down to the brink of the grave; and, by “die”, is signified the end, or last stage of corporeal existence, which is marked by a ceasing to breathe, and decomposition into dust. Thus, man’s life from the womb to the grave is a dying existence; and, so long as he retains his form, as in the case of Jesus in the sepulchre, he is existent in death; for what is termed being is corporeal existence in life and death. The end of our being is the end of that process by which we are resolved into dust—we cease to be. This was Adam’s state, if we may so speak, before he was created. He had no being. And at this non-existence he arrived after a lapse of 930 years from his formation; and thus were practically illustrated the penalty of the law and the sentence of the Judge. For from the day of his transgression, he began his pilgrimage to the grave, at which he surely arrived. He made his couch in the dust, and saw corruption; and with its mother earth commingled all that was known as Adam, the federal head, and chief father of mankind.
“Eat and live for ever.”
This was planted “in the midst of the garden”. It was also a fruit-bearing tree. It would seem to have been as accessible as the Tree of Knowledge; for after the man had eaten of this, he was driven out of the garden that he might not touch that likewise. Its fruit, however, was of a quality entirely opposite to that of which they had eaten. Both trees bore good fruit; but that of the Tree of Life had the quality of perpetuating the living existence of the eater for ever. This appears from the testimony of Moses, who reports that after the transgressors had received judgment, “the Lord God said, Behold the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground whence he was taken”. From this, we learn that the Lord God had instituted this tree to give life, and that Adam was aware of what would result from eating of its fruit. It is probable that, had he been obedient to the law of the Tree of Knowledge, he would have been permitted to eat of the Tree of Life, after he had fulfilled his destiny as an animal man; and, instead of dying away into dust, have been “changed in the twinkling of an eye”, as Enoch was; and as they are to be who shall be ready for the Lord at his coming. But of this we can say nothing certain, because nothing is testified on the subject; and beyond the testimony our faith cannot go, though opinion and credulity may.
If, then, Adam had eaten of the Tree of Life, he would have been changed from a living soul into a soul capable of living for ever: and not only capable, but it would seem, that being immortal, the Lord God would have permitted him to remain so. For, we are not to suppose, that, if a thing become capable of undecaying existence, therefore its creator cannot destroy it; consequently, if Adam as a sinner had eaten of the Tree of Life, his immortality would have been only permitted, and not necessitated contrary to the power of the Lord God.
To have permitted Adam and Eve to become deathless, and to remain so, in a state of good and evil such as the world experiences, would have been a disproportionate and unmerciful punishment. It would have been to populate the earth with deathless sinners; and to convert it into the abode of deathless giants in crime; in other words, the, earth would have become, what creed theologians describe “hell” to be in their imagination. The good work of the sixth day would then have proved a terrible mishap, instead of the nucleus of a glorious manifestation of divine wisdom and power. But a world of undying sinners in a state of good and evil, was not according to the divine plan. This required first the sanctification of sinners; then their probation; and afterwards, their exaltation, or humiliation, according to their works. Therefore, lest Adam should invert this order, and “put on immortality” before he should be morally renewed, or purified from sin, and the moral likeness of God be formed in him again; the Lord God expelled him from the dangerous vicinity of the Tree of Life. He drove him forth that he should not then become incorruptible and deathless.
The first intimation of immortality for man is contained in the text before us. But, in this instance it eluded his grasp. He was expelled “lest he should eat, and live for ever”. It was because immortality belonged to this tree; or rather, was communicable by or through it to the eater, that it was styled etz ha-chayim, that is, the Tree of the Lives; for that is its name when literally rendered. The phrase “of the lives” is particularly appropriate; for it was the tree of endless life both to Adam and Eve, if permitted to eat of it. If the world enticing to sin, be fitly represented by the serpent-entwined tree, imparting death to its victim, Christ, who “has overcome the world”, as the giver of life to his people, is well set forth by the other tree in the midst of the garden; which was a beautiful emblem of the incarnated power and wisdom of the Deity, planted as the Tree of Life in the future Paradise of God.
“God made man upright.”
When the work of the six days was completed, the Lord God reviewed all that He had made, and pronounced it “very good”. This quality pertained to everything terrestrial. The beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, reptiles, and man, were all “very good”; and all made up a natural system of things, or world, as perfect as the nature of things required. Its excellence, however, had relation solely to its physical quality. Man, though “very good”, was so only as a piece of divine workmanship. He was made different from what he afterwards became. Being made in the image, after the likeness of the Elohim, he was “made upright”. He had no conscience of evil; for he did not know what it was. He was neither virtuous, nor vicious; holy, nor unholy; but in his beginning simply innocent of good or evil deeds. Being without a history, he was without character. This had to be developed; and could only be formed for good or evil, by his own independent action under the divine law. In short, when Adam and Eve came forth from the hand of their potter, they were morally in a similar condition to a new-born babe; excepting that a babe is born under the constitution of sin, and involuntarily subjected to “vanity”; while they first beheld the light in a state of things where evil had as yet no place. They were created in the stature of a perfect man and woman; but with their sexual feelings undeveloped; in ignorance, and without experience.
The interval between their formation and their transgression was the period of their novitiate. The Spirit of God had made them; and during this time, “the inspiration of the Almighty was giving them understanding”. In this way, knowledge was imparted to them. It became power, and enabled them to meet all the demands of their situation. Thus, they were “taught of God”, and became the depositories of those arts and sciences, in which they afterwards instructed their sons and daughters, to enable them to till the ground, tend the flocks and herds, provide the conveniences of life, and subdue the earth.
Guided by the precepts of the Lord God, his conscience continued good, and his heart courageous. “They were naked, both the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” They were no more abashed than children in their nudity; for, though adults in stature, yet, being in the infancy of nature, they stood before the Elohim, and in the face of one another, without embarrassment. This fact was not accidentally recorded. As we shall see herealter, it is a clue, as it were, given to enable us to understand the nature of the transgression.
While in the state of good unmixed with evil, were Adam and Eve mortal or immortal? This is a question which presents itself to many who study the Mosaic account of the origin of things. It is an interesting question, and worthy of all attention. Some hastily reply, they were mortal; that is, if they had not sinned they would nevertheless have died. It is probable they would after a long time, if no further change had been operated upon their nature. But the Tree of Life seems to have been provided for the purpose of this change being effected, through the eating of its fruit, if they had proved themselves worthy of the favour. The animal nature will sooner or later dissolve. It was not constituted so as to continue in life for ever, independent of any further modification. We may admit, therefore, the corruptibility, and consequent mortality, of their nature, without saying that they were mortal. The inherent tendency of their nature to death would have been arrested; and they would have been changed as Enoch and Elijah were; and as they of whom Paul says, “We shall not all die” The “we” here indicated possess an animal, and therefore corruptible nature; and, if not “changed,” would surely die: but inasmuch as they are to “be changed in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet”, though corruptible, they are not mortal. In this sense, therefore, I say, that in their novitiate, Adam and his betrothed had a nature capable of corruption, but were not subject to death, or mortal. The penalty was “dying thou shalt die”; that is, “You shall not be permitted to eat of the Tree of Life in arrest of dissolution; but the inherent tendency of your animal nature shall take its course, and return you to the dust whence you originally came”. Mortality was in disobedience as the wages of sin, and not a necessity.
But, if they were not mortal in their novitiate, it is also true that they were not immortal. To say that immortals were expelled from the garden of Eden, that they might live for ever by eating of the tree, is absurd. The truth is in few words, man was created with a nature endued with certain susceptibilities. He was capable of death; and capable of endless life; but, whether he should merge into mortality; or, by a physical change be clothed with immortality, was predicated on his choosing to do good or evil. Capacity must not be confounded with impletion. A vessel may be capable of holding a pint of fluid; but it does not therefore follow that there is a pint in it, or any at all. In the Paradise of Eden, mortality and immortality were set before the man and his companion. They were external to them. They were to avoid the former, and seek after the latter, by obedience to the law of God. They were capable of being filled with either; but with which depended upon their actions; for immortality is the end of holiness, without which no man can see the Lord.
We meet with no traces in the Mosaic history of ceremonial observances, or religious worship, pertaining to the novitiate. To rest one day in seven; believe that the Lord God would perform His word if they transgressed; and to abstain from touching the Tree of knowledge, was all their gracious benefactor required. There was no “religion” in the garden of Eden—no sacrifices, or offerings; for sin was as yet a stranger there. The tenure of the Paradise was predicated upon their abstinence from sin; so that it could be forfeited only by transgression of the law of the Lord.