« AnteriorContinuar »
that dark profound. The ripened future, our present, was then present to God. In what that irrational age was to introduce; in its rich store-houses of materials for the happiness of future races; in the fact that He foresaw that these treasures would be opened and used by the highest order of creation, a race made in His own image, and would subserve their highest necessities in a thousand different ways, and would even become indispensable, in many places, to the existence of His church and the spread of the gospel of His Son, — in all this then future He found a then present delight.
So in looking down the centuries upon the deluge and the cities of the plain, upon the reeking wickedness of Greece and Rome, and the stale monotony of a mere animal existence in the populous nations of Asia and Africa, — did the Infinite mind find relief in fore-seeing that to which this state of things would ultimately lead. So, too, in the rough, wicked and provoking experiences of His chosen people, together with His severe chastisements of them for the same, His eye rested with delight upon the materials which these temporary destructions were furnishing for the instruction and comfort of His infinitely more numerous people in all later Christian ages. To the Omniscient eye, the remote, glorious consequences were all visible in their earliest antecedents.
The Lamb was " slain from the foundation of the world.” The Divine Architect, therefore, while slowly laying these solid material foundations of the earth, — an inferior and irksome work in itself, — could yet find a lively satisfaction in dwelling upon the glorious fact, then present to His mind, of Ilis Son appearing upon this earth and dying to redeem men, and actually redeeming a great multitude which no man can number.
What to-day were it worth to a tribe of Caffres to be told that their Kraals were standing upon the richest coal basin in the whole world? But the time may come when that information, if it were true, would be invaluable to them; and it would help us to endure their present dulness, could we
foresee for them such a future. So the Father of mercies saw that an earlier appearance of His Son upon the earth would not so well have answered the benevolent end of His appearing. It would not so well have met the wants of those He came to bless. It would have been like discovering the coal treasures to Celts and Mound-Builders, or like uncapping those rich deposits ere their substance had solidified, and when it would have wasted away in useless or noxious exhalations. So God bears to-day with many nations, whose blindness and sottishness prevent His sending immediately to them the knowledge of His Son.
(b) “ The restoration is not commensurate with the ruin;" meaning, I suppose, that a greater number are lost than are saved.
Numbers are fallacious data for reasoning, unless the things compared by number are identical or exactly equivalent, which is rarely the case. Figures often do lie, by inference. With the Supreme Wisdom the guiding principle is multum rather than multa.
What, to God, was the whole vegetable and animal world of the carboniferous era, compared with England or America now? What that whole Geological period, long and fertile and teeming with animal life as it may have been, compared with that part of England and America which to-day subsists entirely through what survives from the destructions of that period ? Are gigantic ferns and reeds and clubmosses, the food of gigantic lizards, comparable with the wheat and the tree upon which philosopher and poet and Christian feed? Can mathematics make out an equation between millions of monster Saurians and one living man, an image of the Incomprehensible?
We dare not affirm with quite a perfect confidence, but with the Bible open before us, we dare affirm with great confidence, that man can make no equation between a soul safe without sin, as the unfallen angel is safe, and a soul saved from out of sin by Jesus Christ. The Bible places man redeemed above the angels unfallen; - one soul recovered by Christ above the many remaining lost. Fallen hu
manity thus recovered, is worth more in the Divine estimation than humanity in its original form; even as carbon is worth more to the world in the solid and practical coal, than when floating as an invisible mordant poison in the atmos. phere of the carboniferous era.
Again: the time has not yet come for man to attempt a numerical comparison between the ruin and the recovery, and certainly not for saying that the recovery can never equal the ruin.
We can understand in some measure the extent of the spoliation that attended the exodus of this Geological era ; but the present extent and prospective value of those buried spoils to civilization and christianity, are not yet known or imagined. Coal was worthless stuff for untold ages; only yesterday, as it were, was it put to its higher uses, and its highest uses may not appear till the morrow.
Let redemption have proper time to unfold and mature, and thus vindicate itself. It were just to allow it at least as long a time for repairing as the ruin has been in coming on. The reign of sin on the earth, however long or disastrous, may bear no greater ratio to the future successes of redemption, than the temporary destructions of the carboniferous era, bear to all the ages in which coal shall enter into the well-being of mankind.
The time for the objector to make his confident assertion, has not yet come, nor can it ever fully come on earth. Let him take his point of view in heaven, at that remote period when the yearnings of infinite love over lost man are satisfied; when loud hosannas to the Lamb that was slain "fill the eternal regions;" when the myriads of the redeemed, “ without number, numberless, uttering joy,” lead off in their peculiar and prominent part in the chorus of praise to the Infinite Excellence; when the glowing pictures in the apocalypse, are all realized, then might a numerical comparison between the ruin and the recovery be less out of season, and less likely to deceive.
i Should we do a wrong to one of the sublimest strains in an inspired argument, if we introduce it here as an indirect illustration and confirmation of our position ? " But not as the offence, so also is the free gift: for if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's otsence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemna. tion ; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."
A man, in this early morning of the work of redemption, speaking of it as a failure, were like what the last of the goggle-eyed Saurians would have been, deploring in behalf of the world the untimely extinction of all these an. cient and honorable families, and their paradise lost forever. But an angel in heaven, looking down upon that transpiring ruin, and comparing it with the chart of God's future purposes for the earth, — what would he have said of the ruin? What but this and with a meaning hardly less sublime than that of the words in their original application :
“ Ye wheels of nature, speed your course;
Ye mortal powers decay;
Ye bring eternal day.”
It is sometimes said, as a covert objection, that it would have been economy for God to create a new race, rather than attempt the restoration of a fallen race. Perhaps so; and so it might have seemed economy in Him to have created the coal, as it was needed, out of its component gases, instead of preparing it through the slow processes of vegetation, decay and transformation, thus losing interest on so large a stock of raw material, for so long a time; but so He did not. The eternal Creator does not leap at results as man would in the circumstances. Stumble at it as we may, the fact is fixed and stubborn, that God's wise and benevolent providence over this earth does not pro
Vol. XV. No. 58.
gress evenly, but by alternate retrocessions and advances, by deaths and resurrections, by defeats and then victories,
—the forward victorious movement always going beyond the previous retreat, — the retiring wave, gathering strength by a momentary calm to roll on beyond the previous highwater mark, thus showing that the great tide is steadily though slowly gaining upon the shore. As evenings and mornings made up the primitive days, and as time still ad. vances by alternate light and shade, so moves on God's great scheme of grace. Whether as individuals, or as parts of his church, we must lose life in order to save it; and dying behold we live.
“ So in the light of great eternity,
Life eminent creates the shade of death."
The fall of innocent and holy man, and then his recovery through Christ to a still higher position in the universe; his fall from a something but little lower than the angels, and then his exaltation, through the Lord of Angels, to a something so high that angels count it an honor to be judged by him, — all this is part and parcel of the great scheme by which the uplifted summits of one Geological period have been ground into sand, in order to lay the foundations of the next higher in the order of Providence ; by which the vegetable and floral glory of one period is dissolved, that it may meet a necessity of higher existences in a subsequent period; and by which, at the close of the current Geological period, the earth shall be burned up, that out of its ashes may start up a new earth, worthy to be a shining member of the new heavens, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
God's great store house garners up all that is worth preserving out of what we seem to lose. Goodness, truth, worth, and life, perhaps, are indestructible,
Thus each Geological period is imperfect in itself, and prophetic of something higher and better. The carboniferous period looked onward and upward. It was the first which revealed a distinct reference to man. Only its inferior uses were for the then present. Its true life was to die, and then