"The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground."
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
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
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
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
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.