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able opinion of many learned divines, that we are not bound to the literal interpretation of these passages, but may consider them as emblematic descriptions of the peaceful condition of Christ's kingdom upon earth ; like the same prophet's highly figurative allusions to changes in vegetable nature, and in the condition of the earth itself, such as, “ The mountains and the hills shall break forth before
you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.*"
I would only observe, that whether literally or figuratively interpreted, the prediction applies only prospectively to things that should arrive at a future period, under a future dispensation; and is affirmative of nothing respecting past events, from which it may be implied that death did not prevail from the beginning throughout the brute creation, as an original and essential part of God's plan ; or that it was to them a new condition introduced by the sin of man.
Should any be tempted to ask, why is this universal system of life and death, renovation and
Isaiah lv, 12.
destruction ? it may be replied, that we are parties too nearly and personally concerned to be disinterested judges in such a question. The physiologist may demonstrate that the amount of animal enjoyment throughout the entire creation is infinitely increased by this incessant change of individuals and permanency of species, beyond that which would have existed had the same individuals lived on continuously, unchanging, and exempt from death.
The humble believer requires not even this obvious and satisfactory solution, content in his assurance, that all this astonishing dispensation is the will of God—of whom, and by whom, are all things that are in heaven and earth, and to whose almighty disposals, whether we understand them, or comprehend them not, be they for life or death, or for things present, or things to come, we see our duty in humble submission and faithful acqui
It remains only in conclusion to consider the infinite wisdom and love, and power of God, in the contrivance and constitution of the glorious mystery of the Redemption, as a remedy for the evils of Sin and Death, which the first parents of the human race brought on themselves, and entailed
upon their posterity. It is impossible to believe in the omniscience of God,—that all things, past and future are equally present in his sight, without admitting also, his foreknowledge of the result that would attend their trial in the earthly paradise ; and without adoring the Creator for his goodness in the remedial dispensation He has mercifully provided to do away the effects of the foreseen transgression.
By the sacrifice of the Lamb, appointed to be slain from the foundation of the world,—by that mysterious union of the Divine and human natures, which was in due time to be accomplished in the person of the Saviour, the children of the first Adam have their sins pardoned, and a way laid open for them to life and immortality, through the atonement and mediation of the second Adam who is “ the Lord from Heaven.”
Had no such gracious remedy been provided, 'or anticipated in the infinity of the divine councils, whereby his justice and mercy might be maintained in equal supremacy notwithstanding the fall and condemnation of the human race, we might have been at a loss to reconcile with our notions of the infinite goodness of the Creator, the stupendous fact of his calling into existence creatures whose moral degradation and ruin he must in his omniscience have foreseen; but the same Almighty power that must have foreseen the evil, simultaneously foresaw and provided the remedy; and the consoling promise that “the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head,” was graciously vouchsafed to Adam in the sentence passed upon the tempter, even before his own condemnation and ejection from his earthly paradise.*
In the proffered mercies of the Christian dispensation, man was at once restored to the hope of pardon ; to capacities for a more exalted state ; to the future prospect of a higher dignity in a better paradise than he had lost ; so that even then and there where sin abounded, did grace still more abound; “that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ
* If there is anything repugnant to our moral notions, in the idea of the communication of sin from one individual to many, it at least affords us some solution of our perplexity, if we are bound also by the self-same authority to admit that a parallel course of arrangement which admitted the introduction of the disease, contrived by an exactly similar process to accomplish the cure.”- Shuttleworth's Consistency of Revelation with Human Nature, 249,
May we accept with grateful adoration these inestimable mercies of the mysterious and circuitous Providence of God; who has thus not only found a remedy, but more than a remedy, for Sins, original as well as actual ; and placed the faithful and obedient, through the mercies of the Christian covenant, in a position from which they have hope and assurance, on the dissolution of their earthly tabernacle, of admission to a more exalted state of blessedness than that from which Adam by transgression fell,—of introduction to the company, and fellowship, and angelic state, and beatific visions of glorified spirits which surround the throne of God, and of his Christ.
* Romans v. 21.