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This observation, in itself, I believe to be true; but as a solution of the difficulty before us, it is inadequate and incomplete, and its incompleteness hath given rise to a great deal of error. For, in the first place, though it well expresseth the great obscuration and deterioration of all things, it does not meet the difficulty of explaining why the ruinous creation was just left at that state of ruin in which it might serve to commemorate its primitive perfection. Why stands it, like Tadmor and Palmyra, a monument of former grandeur; and not rather, like Nineveh or Babylon, which tell no tales of their former glory? Besides, it is a false similitude that fallen nature is like a ruin in its fall; seeing it is not crumbling, nor unstable, nor covered over with the dust of
ages; but a fabric firm and orderly, fresh and beautiful; standing to its ancient constitutions, and fulfilling the intentions of its Creator. There is a mighty power, there is an infinite variety, there is an unspeakable grace, in all its operations and productions; insomuch that it is ever stealing away the worship and the adoration of men; and hath so charmed the minds of this scientific and tasteful generation, that by thousands, and tens of thousands, they are leaving the worship of Christ for the worship of nature. And though doubt there can be none, that in all its parts nature is underlying the sore and grievous curse which was pronounced upon it after the Fall, and hath shared the bitter portion of its master; yet is it not a decayed and decaying ruin, but a firm and enduring structure, constituted under strong and sure laws, which preserve themselves unbroken until this day. So that the question still remaineth, How is it that this sinful and angerstricken work of God should contain in it the similitude of that perfect condition in which we at present believe, and hope hereafter to be possessed of? Moreover, to say that nature in its fallen state carries 'a certain resemblance to the unfallen creation, which God pronounced very good, is a mere hypothesis at the best; for we have no such records of the unfallen creation as to enable us to compare them together: and if the hypothesis could be assured, it has nothing to do with the difficulty before us, which is not, how nature should be like the first creation, but how it should shadow forth the regeneration, that perfect condition of things yet to be, at present believed on, and hereafter to be manifested, which we call spiritual and eternal. But, worse than all, it is a line of argument, or rather of speculation, which hath led into very great mischief those divines who have adopted it; giving rise to a notion of the revealed law, as if it were only a republication of the law of creation, and had respect to the first Adam, shewing us what he was; not to the second Adam, shewing us what he was to be. From which doating and dreaming about the revealed law as the picture of man's primitive condition, hath come the false and heretical notion, that if you make a good use of it you may set human nature upon its feet again; as if we had power in ourselves to regenerate ourselves, and wanted only a model to do the work by, which model God had kindly afforded us in the revealed law. To all such idlers I would say; 'Go, try your hand at rectification upon some of the lower parts of the fallen universe : instruct the elements, for example, that they should do no harm; the animals, that they should not kill each other; the body of man, that it should not die: and when you have succeeded there, I will give you higher work, and advance you to set right the main-spring and master-movement of the whole, which is the will or spirit of man.'
Every account of the matter drawn from the retrospection of the first estate of man rejecting therefore, as crude and insufficient, which hath neither sound principle nor profitable end, I proceed to render what I conceive to be the only true resolution of the question: which is simply the statement of a doctrine, That I believe God hath ordained nature in its present form, and established it according to its present laws, for the single and express purpose of shadowing forth that future perfect condition into which it is to be brought : so that from man down to the lowest creature, and from the animated creation down to the lowest plant, and from the vegetable creation throughout the elemental and inorganic world, every thing containeth the presentiment of its own future perfection; hath been so constituted of God as to be prophetic thereof; and is bearing a silent witness to the redemption and restitution of all things which is yet to be; is in a state of travail and great sorrow, groaning and wailing till it be delivered of its immortal birth, in the day of the manifestation of the sons of God. And herein lies the proper meaning of the word “ Nature” (natura, about to be born'), that it is about to bring forth: not that it is any thing, but that it is to become by bearing something. To open this clearly and fully iş what I now aim to do; for which end it will be necessary to go back to the beginning, and discourse a little of the Fall.
The Lord, foreseeing and providing against the fall of man, and being thereby about to realize the great birth and manifestation of himself for ever, constituted Adam the type or “ figure,” but certainly not the reality, of “ Him that was to come” (Rom. v.): who was perfect in beauty, and completely accomplished in knowledge for his high place and vocation, not only as the regent of the lower world, but as the image of God, and after the likeness in which God should appear. In order, moreover, to shew how utterly impossible it is for any creature to stand when left to itself, Adam was without the knowledge of evil: not only with no bias to it, but without the knowledge of what it was; therefore without any temptation to it, or solicitation of any kind. He had nothing to desire, nothing to gain; there was provision for all his wants, and satisfaction for all his desires : and no creature could be more beneficently created, or better conditioned for standing in the favour of God; because it was the great experiment, and the great demonstration, to shew whether any creature in its creation-form can stand; or whether there be not an absolute necessity that it should fall, unless otherwise sustained. And what is that otherwise ? By connection with the Son of God, in the fulness of whose bosom the creation stood from all eternity conceived and contemplated by the Father : whence, when it has come forth from this the womb of its conception, and been born, by the work of the Spirit, into an outward existence of its own, there is no other way, by which it doth remain connected with the Son, save by faith and hope of the Son's own manifestation in the fulness of the times. For I believe that the manifestation of any of the realities in the bosom of the Son is the promise of the manifestation of the Son himself, for whom all things are, and were created. Now, every creature which came forth of the Son had, no doubt, the promise of the manifestation of the Christ; and herein consisted its fealty and faithfulness unto creation's Lord, in holding forth the faithful witness of Him that was to come. This faith and hope is the only ground by which a creature could stand, and which Adam should have manifested in a perfect obedience; and then he would have been indeed the perfect type of Christ, for which especial end he was created. And as it was the last experiment and demonstration of every creature's instability, so was it made the most decisive one. Here is a creature possessing the whole form of the Christ; a full and perfect image of what the invisible God should be when he shall become visible. He hath it not in a word or a promise ; he hath it in the very constitution and framework of his being, and in the homage of every thing around him. “ He sealed up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty." Yet must there be some test of obedience, something whereby his fealty shall be proved; otherwise he were God, and not a creature: some service, in token of his being an inferior; some feudal tenure, be it but a barley-corn, whereby to manifest that the fee-simple was in another: which verily was