Page images

dominant. This view of the condition of our nature seems evidently the basis of the apostle's reasoning in Rom. vii., and Gal. v.

In man's perfect state there would be only two wills, namely, the will of God, and the will of the personality choosing God's will as its dominant. And it would appear, that the division of man into two sexes, shows forth this mystery—the female representing the individual, or the personality planted in the nature, in as much as she is the bearer of the fruit, and, moreover, as she is not her own dominant, but has the power of choosing her dominant; and the male representing the nature, pervaded by one or other of the dominant wills, and seeking to manifest its tendencies in the individuals or personalities that are planted in it. For the nature cannot manifest itself or bear fruit, except through the individuals—and thus Christ, as the root of the new nature, calls himself the Vine; and he seeks individual wills, to be the branches, through which he may manifest himself, and bear his fruit.

This view likewise agrees with the fact that the woman first fell, and brought on the fall of Adam—that is, the individual planted in the nature, by yielding to the temptation of the evil spirit, gave up the nature to be possessed by him. And so also Christ is the seed of the woman—that is, the restoration can only be effected through the individual again personally yielding to the will of God. It gives a reason, also, why the Bible should so constantly describe sin under the figure of fornication and adultery; and holiness under the figure of a marriage-union to Christ. It appears to me also to give the only satisfactory key to Rom. vii. 1–3; the first husband in that passage being the First Adam-and the second husband, the Second Adam. We are under the dominion of the first husband, and our consciences lie under the condemnation laid on him, and we know the voice of the Spirit only as the voice of a condemning law, until we yield ourselves to that Spirit for the shedding out of the blood of the old nature, which is the death of the first husband, when we are married to the second Adam, to bring forth fruit unto God.

We, in fact, identify our fate with that of the husband whom we choose, in the same way, as it has been already observed, that we identify ourselves with the wheat or the tare sown in our bearts, according as we live in the one or the other. The two cases are indeed but one, for the tare is the first husband, and the wheat is the second.

Connected with this subject, there is a most important question to be answered, before we can understand the reasoning of the Apostle—namely, What is the distinctive character of the law? In order to arrive at a true answer to this question, let us bear in mind, that man was lifted out from the fall, by the coming of the personal Word into the common nature, and by His so coming into it, as to be near to, and within the reach of every individual placed in it, as a warning, and a help, and a life from God. He came into it, that, by a manifestation of the loving purpose of God toward man, and by an infusion of the Spirit of God, he might engage and enable all the individuals in it to consent to the shedding out of the self-will, which is the life-blood of the old nature, as a necessary step to their being made partakers of the new nature, which lives by the Spirit of God, and is conformed to His will. But this result, which is the blessed consummation of God's purpose, even when accomplished, is arrived at only by successive steps—though these steps may be very close to each other in point of time.

The primary condition, that condition in which the Word finds a man, is selfishness, allowed and uncondemned, though it may be disguised. This condition, the Word in the name of God condemns, and declares to be most dan. gerous, making a claim at the same time to the subjection of man's will, and calling him to a better condition. In the knowledge of this condemnation on self, and of this claim on his will, consists the state of man under the law. It is a state of bondage ; for, whilst a man is in it, he cannot shake off the obligation of conscience, and yet he feels himself unable to fulfil it, and therefore wishes to escape from it. He does not know the tender heart of God toward him -and therefore he feels the sorrows of life, and the sentence of death, as merely penalties, and the commandments of God, as painful duties,—instead of feeling that God's purpose


every part of the process, is to make man a partaker in His own eternal life and blessedness. And as he has no thought of that new and heavenly life, so he cleaves to the life of the old nature, even though he may at the same time endeavour to suppress and restrain its evil manifesta

[ocr errors]

tions from conscience or fear of punishment. He regards God, not as a forgiving friend, far less as a tender Father, but as a justlyoffended Judge; and therefore he does not trust himself in His hands, but seeks to bargain for his favour by partial obediences, or observances, instead of surrendering himself altogether up to Him. It is evident that in such a state, and under such a Law-influence, the man in the hypothetical case which I have given at page 220, would have endeavoured to avoid death by any means, in order to avoid meeting his angry Judge--although he felt the will of God most distinctly calling him to meet death; and thus we see how a Law-influence may not only detect sin in us, but produce it.

This evil effect of the law does not, however, arise from any thing wrong or false in the law itself, but from the wrong or false way in which the heart receives it. A man lying on what he thinks his deathbed, and apparently within an hour of eternity, who has lived an ungodly life, feels perhaps the word of God in his conscience, rising up against him, recalling forgotten sins, and condemning the whole texture of his past life, as abominable in the sight of

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »