ADAM"The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground." Genesis 2:7
The life of Adam is but a brief page. But each line supplies a volume larger than the books of human mind. We find in it the key of all, which amazes us in that marvel—Man. The countless now on earth—the countless in unutterable bliss—the countless in eternal woe—all hang on him as the parent-tree of being. All, who shall yet be born to shine in heaven or to burn in hell, must flow as streams from this fountainhead.
When we go back to the birth of him, we naturally ask, of what material is the work? Pride would conclude that no lowly quarry could produce such a frame. But pride must lie low before the unerring word, "Dust you are." Ponder this first truth. The mightiest monarch—and the Lazarus at his gate—are one in base original. The common parentage is that of worms. The flesh of each is but the filth, which our feet scorn. Who, then, will boast of beauty or of strength? There is a voice in dust, which mocks such pitiable folly.
But man is more than a shell of clay. The lowly case holds a matchless jewel. God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul." The flesh is of the earth and earthy. The spirit is from on high and heavenly. One is the clog of matter. The other is a ray from God. One soon crumbles back to vileness. The other is a deathless principle. One sinks as to the level of the beasts. The other gives the wings of immortality. Reader! you cannot think too highly of the soul. It cannot cease to be. Age after age imprints no wrinkle on it. It neither withers nor decays. Its time is timeless. Its death is never.
Thus man was formed. A lovely garden was the palace of creation's lord. Fragrance and fruit charmed and refreshed each sense. Converse with God was the soul's easy flow. To live was unalloyed delight. The smile of innocence met the smile of heaven. The heart was only love—the worship only praise. But man was a creature, and a creature must obey. In heaven the angels do their Maker's bidding. God cannot be, except on a throne of rule. But obedience shall be no heavy yoke. Only one command is issued—only one tree forbidden. To transgress is death. "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die." Who can hear this penalty, and think that sin is a trivial fault—easily to be pardoned—soon to be effaced? No! the slightest sin is the soul in open rebellion. It casts God from the heart. It strives to tread Him in the dust. It avows the godless principle of independence. It proves that self has erected the idol of self-love.
Can God then merely ignore evil? Ah, no! The whole of Deity abhors it! Therefore, to transgress is death. Such is the penalty. But who can fathom the depths of misery in this curse? It involves the instant withdrawal of heavenly presence. It denounces withering to the core of every spiritual faculty and perception. It warns, that to rebel is to become death-stricken in body, and dead in soul. It shows that sin's proper home is the eternal gnawings of accusing conscience, and eternal tossings on the bed of wrath.
We now approach earth's darkest day. The tempter comes. We reason not with those who ask if this might not have been averted. We see that piety untried is piety uncertain. With subtlety the snare is laid. Evil suggestion is presented. The first lie is muttered. Our parents pause to listen. Will they yield? Can they touch and taste? Alas! a perfect man is but a tottering reed. The one command is broken. Sin enters. Innocence expires. The life of God is extinguished in the soul. Adam hangs down his head, fallen and guilty, in a cursed and doomed earth!
It becomes us to consider well the miseries of this foul deed. It is the clue of all the dark confusion, which perplexes us without, and humbles us within. The universe moves not on the pivot of right order. The brier, the thorn, the hard toil tell of a cursed soil. The storm, the hurricane, the earthquake, the blight, the pestilence, proclaim, that displeasure frowns from heaven. All things, by tending to decay, show, that death wields an unrelenting scepter. The tears, the sighs, the groans, and all the train of sorrows, which follow in the rear of pain and bereavement, evidence that an angry God deals angrily. But this is not all. The bitterest curse fell on the heart. Alas! what a wilderness is it of hateful weeds! We read, and conscience echoes, it is true—"Every imagination of man's heart is only evil continually." "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that understand and seek God. They are all gone aside—they are altogether become filthy. There is none that does good, no, not one." The mind is vain—the understanding darkened—ignorance sits as guide—right feeling has fled. The creature is worshiped and served more than the Creator. The faithful Witness states it. All experiences confirm it. The records of the fall explain it. All woe came hand in hand with sin!
"In Adam all die." Reader! next mark, how it is, that all our race had a share in the first sin. Adam stood before God, not as an isolated being, but as a common person. All generations were in his loins. The whole family of man were wrapped in that casket. As one seed holds a forest; so all nations of all ages were involved in this one head. As all rays are in one sun; so all descendants were in this common stock. Thus Adam's act affects each child born, as taint in the spring is taint in each issuing drop. It follows, then, that in him we break the Covenant of Works. We sin in his sin. We offend in his offence. We transgress in his transgression. We are guilty in his guilt. In him we depart from God. In him we enter the cells of wrath. In him we put on the prison-garb of condemnation. In him we receive the heritage of curse. Will pride, which finds all elements of good in self, deride this statement? Let it first show why infants die—and why the first thoughts are buds of evil. There is no better proof of nature's blindness, than such wallowings in the mists and mire of unscriptural conceit.
To this point, our view of Adam has been a cloud—gloomy, and scattering gloom. But look again. There are bright rays behind. As we mourn, the Spirit flies on wings of love to change the scene. Sweet voices cry, Adam "is the figure of Him who was to come!" "The first man Adam was made a living soul. The last Adam was made a quickening Spirit." "The first man is of the earth earthy. The second man is the Lord from heaven." "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Blessed tidings!—blessed privilege to trace the likeness! May the Spirit help us now to look off from the sin-bringing to the sin-bearing Adam!
Is Adam the parent of the whole family of nature? So Christ is the parent of the whole family of grace. It is written, "He shall see His seed." "A seed shall serve Him." He is "the everlasting Father." As Adam is the stock of corruption and of death; so Christ creates anew to righteousness and life. He is a quickening Spirit. As those who are born after the flesh are flesh; so those who are thus born again are spirit. Their powers, and faculties, and perceptions are as light from darkness. Once they were a mass of death. Now they have ears to hear His call—and eyes to see His beauty—and mouths to worship God and sing His praise—and hands to cling to the cross—and feet to mount the hill of Zion. Once their hearts were stone—now every pulse is love. Once their taste was low and sordid as the earth—now they are high and pure as heaven. The best of books is their sweet pastime. The best of themes is their happy converse. New desires and sentiments prove that they are newborn. Such is the happy progeny of grace. They sit in harmony around the table of Christ, and adore Him as the author of their being, and their joy. Thus in Christ's garden, plants are made fit for the Paradise above—as in Adam's wasteland, weeds blacken for the burning.
But the contrast extends. Adam falls, and in him the world is cast down. Christ stands, and in Him all His seed lift up the head. He appears in flesh the common Head of His adopted ones. As such, He strides in triumph over every assault of Satan. As such, He moves in one unbroken, perfect course of pure and perfect love. God's fullest will is the one movement of His heart. His every member shares the victory and is righteous in the Righteousness. Thus each true believer boasts, "In the Lord I have righteousness," and knocks at heaven's gate with the unanswerable plea. In Christ, my law-fulfilling surety, I bring the Righteousness of God. Great was the loss in Adam; but far greater is the gain in Christ!
So likewise, as a common person, Jesus hangs upon the cross. In Him His people suffer unto death. In Him they exhaust the cup of wrath. In Him they taste the bitter pains, which sin deserved. In Him they pay the uttermost farthing into the scales of justice. In Him they endure, until each attribute of God requires no more. Thus each child of faith exclaims, with adoring praise, "I am crucified with Christ." Who can lay anything to the charge of one, who in Christ is discharged of all? In Adam we merit all wrath. In Christ we undergo it. Christ rises from the dead. The icy bands cannot detain Him. But still He holds His people in Himself. In Him each sees a pledge of that resurrection-morn, in which this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and death shall be swallowed up in victory. In Adam we crumble in the grave. In Christ we find it the gate of life. In Adam we lie down in beds of darkness. In Christ we put on light as our robe forever.
The work of redemption being ended, Jesus returns on high. Does He ascend disconnected from His members? Can the Head live apart? No! In Him they enter in and take their seats before the throne of God. It is not written without meaning or without truth—"He has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Every seat has been prepared from everlasting ages; and in the view of God no seat is vacant. Do you say this is a mystery? It is! But it is true as deep. And it is revealed for the believer's comfort. For what comfort like assurance of oneness with our Lord in all which He has done, and is now doing? It is, too, the seed of holiness; for who can dwell in spirit amid heaven's glories, and touch the debasing vanities of earth?
Reader! it is a clear fact, that natural birth has brought you into the old world of sin. How important the question, Has spiritual birth translated you into the new world of grace? It is so, if you are Christ's—and you are Christ's, if Christ is yours—and Christ is yours, if He dwells in the heart by sincere faith—and faith is sincere, which ventures on Him, and ventures wholly—which loves Him fully—which hears His voice and follows Him. If this evidence be absent, you are still in a land of ruin. And will you remain a wretched wreck? Oh! cry to Him, who always helps the helpless at their cry. Seek life from Him, who is the Lord of life. Apply for quickening to Him, who is the quickening Spirit.
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