The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fall, Redemption, and the Physical Creation

When man, as the head of creation, fell into sin, it may be said, with a great degree of truth, that the physical creation fell with him. There are connections and sympathies between man and the outward or physical world, which are not well understood, and are not likely to be well understood, in the present state of things. Certain it is, however, that in a world destined to be the home of holy and happy beings, the outward will correspond to the inward, the objective to the subjective, the home to the inhabitant. It is not in the nature of God, who delights in the beautiful as well as in the good, to surround a holy being with barrenness and deformity, and to compel him to take up his abode among thorns and thistles. The world was and must have been beautiful as the happy souls that dwell in it. Originally the earth was everywhere clothed with its green and pure carpet;  fruits suitable to the support of its holy inhabitants, hung from the branches of richly laden trees, and flowers sprang up at their feet. "Out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight,  and that is good for food."

When man became a sinner his beautiful home changed its character, and became adapted to sinners. God said unto Adam, "Because thou hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee! " It is not without reason, therefore, that the poet Milton, in allusion to the consequences of Adam's fall, says:

"Earth felt the wound; and nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
That all was lost."

And, as if the earth were really as well as figuratively conscious of the great change which it had undergone, the Apostle says, in very remarkable language: — “For we know that the whole creation  groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now.” [Romans 8:22.]

When holiness is restored to man, whose fall was the cause of its being blighted, it is reasonable to suppose that fruitfulness will again return to the earth. Its beauty also, as well as its fruitfulness, will be reestablished. Its defaced outlines will gradually be  restored, and its tints retouched. There will no longer be storms and tempests. The cold of winter and the heat of summer will be tempered to that degree of heat and cold which will be best suited to the renovation of the earth, and also to man's condition and happiness. That golden age, when the air, the earth, and the waters, will all contribute to bring forth the perfect and the beautiful — that primitive age of delights, of which we have the tradition in many nations, — will return again.

"The swain, in barren deserts, with surprise,
Sees lilies spring and sudden verdure rise;
And starts, amid the thirsty wilds, to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.”

Nor will these results be limited to outward nature. Man himself will be restored physically. Now, bowed down with many infirmities, the subject of many severe and wasting diseases, he has lost that dignity and beauty which once attached to him.  As he recovers, through the grace of God, from the controlling influence of inordinate desires, his physical appetites will seek those objects which are best adapted to the wants of the physical nature; and he will use them, whatever they may be, in the proper manner. Holiness, by directing him to those things which can be rightly used, will give purification and erectness to that which sin has polluted and prostrated. And it is one of the favorable signs of the times, that the attention of men, roused at last to observe the connection between moral and physical disorder, is already so widely directed to this subject. Those who are in unity with God in their modes of living, find a restoration of health, of strength, and of physical enjoyment, such as will vindicate the goodness of God, and illustrate the import of the declaration of scripture, that "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." [1st Timothy 4: 8.]

And, as incidentally connected with these views, it may properly be added, that the various forms of the animal creation inferior to man will probably participate in some degree in the renovation and blessedness of that better time.

Nor is this a merely fanciful view. It has its foundation in the nature of things. Every system of things has a unity, or, what is the same thing, a correspondence and harmony of existence. All beings, for instance, which live upon the same earth, breathe the same air, and are sustained by the same heavenly Father, necessarily have ties of relationship, which are sacred and eternal. The earth is wisely and expressly fitted for the support of a great system of life, — a system which may be said, in its outward forms at least, to be elaborated from its own elements, — a system infinitely various in its manifestations, but still bearing everywhere the marks of a divine unity. Of this great system man stands at the head; but he is not on that account separate from the foot. All the inferior parts of creation may be said to embody something which finds its resultant and its completion in man. It is to him they tend; — it is in him they find their unity. They hardly have more of true adaptation of position, without man, than the inferior limbs of his own body can have life and adaptation without the head which controls them.

So long, therefore, as man kept his original position, and was fully united with God, so long he sustained relations of harmony and unity with all inferior beings;— not excepting the worm beneath his feet. These relations were disturbed by his fall. But the Gospel, which once more restores man to his proper place, will restore all which is necessarily connected with him. There is nothing in nature, either in its material or its sentient forms, which will not experience the effects of that great change, which it must be admitted is destined primarily and chiefly to raise and bless man, who is the head and the crown of nature; so that trees, and flowers, and birds, and all living things, will have occasion to rejoice in the consequences involved in Christ's coming. In the language of the prophet Isaiah, "The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." [Isaiah 55: 12.] And if the trees and mountains shall clap their hands, much more will this figurative but beautiful language be true of the hunted and bleeding beast and bird which inhabit them.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 2.

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