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PART SEVENTH.
UNION WITH GOD IN THE WORK OF MAN'S REDEMPTION.



CHAPTER II.


OF THE THREE FORMS OF REDEMPTION, PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND SOCIAL.


Of man's primitive place of residence. — The beauty of the earth will be restored again, when man is made holy.— Of the restoration of man’s physical system. — Of the restoration of the lower orders of creation. — Of mental or personal redemption. — Of social redemption.

THERE are three forms of redemption, physical, mental or personal, and social. When man, as the head of creation, fell into sin, it may be said, with a great degree of truth, that the physical creation fell with him. There are connections and sympathies between man and the outward or physical world, which are not well understood, and are not likely to be well understood, in the present state of things. Certain it is, however, that in a world destined to be the home of holy and happy beings, the outward will correspond to the inward, the objective to the subjective, the home to the inhabitant. It is not in the nature of God, who delights in the beautiful as well as in the good, to surround a holy being with barrenness and deformity, and to compel him to take up his abode among thorns and thistles. The world was and must have been beautiful as the happy souls that dwell in it. Originally the earth was everywhere clothed with its green and pure carpet; fruits suitable to the support of its holy inhabitants, hung from the branches of richly laden trees, and flowers sprang up at their feet. "Out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and that is good for food."

2. When man became a sinner his beautiful home changed its character, and became adapted to sinners. God said unto Adam, "Because thou hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee! " It is not without reason, therefore, that the poet Milton, in allusion to the consequences of Adam's fall, says:

"Earth felt the wound; and nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
That all was lost."

And, as if the earth were really as well as figuratively conscious of the great change which it had undergone, the Apostle says, in very remarkable language: — “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now.” [Romans 8:22.]

3. When holiness is restored to man, whose fall was the cause of its being blighted, it is reasonable to suppose that fruitfulness will again return to the earth. Its beauty also, as well as its fruitfulness, will be reestablished. Its defaced outlines will gradually be restored, and its tints retouched. There will no longer be storms and tempests. The cold of winter and the heat of summer will be tempered to that degree of heat and cold which will be best suited to the renovation of the earth, and also to man's condition and happiness. That golden age, when the air, the earth, and the waters, will all contribute to bring forth the perfect and the beautiful — that primitive age of delights, of which we have the tradition in many nations, — will return again.

"The swain, in barren deserts, with surprise,
Sees lilies spring and sudden verdure rise;
And starts, amid the thirsty wilds, to hear
New falls of water murmuring in his ear.”

4. Nor will these results be limited to outward nature. Man himself will be restored physically. Now, bowed down with many infirmities, the subject of many severe and wasting diseases, he has lost that dignity and beauty which once attached to him. As he recovers, through the grace of God, from the controlling influence of inordinate desires, his physical appetites will seek those objects which are best adapted to the wants of the physical nature; and he will use them, whatever they may be, in the proper manner. Holiness, by directing him to those things which can be rightly used, will give purification and erectness to that which sin has polluted and prostrated. And it is one of the favorable signs of the times, that the attention of men, roused at last to observe the connection between moral and physical disorder, is already so widely directed to this subject. Those who are in unity with God in their modes of living, find a restoration of health, of strength, and of physical enjoyment, such as will vindicate the goodness of God, and illustrate the import of the declaration of scripture, that "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." [1st Timothy 4: 8.]

5. And, as incidentally connected with these views, it may properly be added, that the various forms of the animal creation inferior to man will probably participate in some degree in the renovation and blessedness of that better time.

Nor is this a merely fanciful view. It has its foundation in the nature of things. Every system of things has a unity, or, what is the same thing, a correspondence and harmony of existence. All beings, for instance, which live upon the same earth, breathe the same air, and are sustained by the same heavenly Father, necessarily have ties of relationship, which are sacred and eternal. The earth is wisely and expressly fitted for the support of a great system of life, — a system which may be said, in its outward forms at least, to be elaborated from its own elements, — a system infinitely various in its manifestations, but still bearing everywhere the marks of a divine unity. Of this great system man stands at the head; but he is not on that account separate from the foot. All the inferior parts of creation may be said to embody something which finds its resultant and its completion in man. It is to him they tend; — it is in him they find their unity. They hardly have more of true adaptation of position, without man, than the inferior limbs of his own body can have life and adaptation without the head which controls them.

So long, therefore, as man kept his original position, and was fully united with God, so long he sustained relations of harmony and unity with all inferior beings;— not excepting the worm beneath his feet. These relations were disturbed by his fall. But the Gospel, which once more restores man to his proper place, will restore all which is necessarily connected with him. There is nothing in nature, either in its material or its sentient forms, which will not experience the effects of that great change, which it must be admitted is destined primarily and chiefly to raise and bless man, who is the head and the crown of nature; so that trees, and flowers, and birds, and all living things, will have occasion to rejoice in the consequences involved in Christ's coming. In the language of the prophet Isaiah, "The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." [Isaiah 55: 12.] And if the trees and mountains shall clap their hands, much more will this figurative but beautiful language be true of the hunted and bleeding beast and bird which inhabit them.

6. But thus beginning at the lower and advancing to the higher, we proceed to say, that redemption is felt, and is designed to be felt, more than anywhere else, in man's fallen spirit. There is a mental, as well as a physical, redemption; and the mental or personal is as much more important than the physical, as mind holds a higher rank and is more important than matter.

The restoration of man is primarily a restoration of the affections. When man fell, his affections changed their center; and that love, which at first centered in God, afterwards centered in himself. Being disunited from the true center, he never afterwards could be truly united with anything, except those things which adhered to himself as their center. In this state of separation from God, and of sin against God, he is redeemed from the penalty of sin by accepting that forgiveness which is offered through Jesus Christ.

But it is important to remember that there are two offers involved in that great work, which Christ came to accomplish; — the one is, forgiveness for the past, and the other is, a new life in God for the future. A new life in God, which implies entire reconciliation with God as its basis, could not be offered to man, until the penalty of the old transgression was remitted. And, on the other hand, the remission of the penalty of the psst would be wholly unavailing, without the permanent restoration of a divine and living principle in man' s spiritual part.

7. The great result, therefore, of the plan of redemption, when fully carried out in relation to man, is to restore him to such a position of harmony with God, that he may be said ever afterwards to live
in and from God. Nothing short of this is redemption; — nothing short of this is worthy to be thought of and to be regarded as redemption.

And this great result, — a result on which depends union or separation, life or death, happiness or woe, — is made to turn upon his own free choice. It is not left to him, however, to choose a mixed or middle course. And the reason is that there is no such course. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." There can be but one true life, and that is life from God. Our heavenly Father, dwelling in man as the Divine Teacher or Comforter, must be the
whole, the true life and the whole life in us or he can be nothing. And this is a matter, which, as a moral agent, man is called upon to decide for himself; — namely, whether God, without dividing his influence with any other master or teacher, shall be his inward life, and thus be, in all coming time, the inspiration and source of all good. This choice is given him in Christ. If he accepts God, he lives. If he rejects him, he dies.

8. In the day of his true restoration, therefore, God once more really dwells in man. We do not say, however, that he actually enters and takes full possession
at once. Just as soon as man gives his exiled Father permission to enter as a whole God and a God forever, he enters effectually; but ordinarily he enters by degrees, and in accordance with the usual laws and operations of the human mind. He does not break the vessel of man's spirit, nor mar its proportions, nor deface anything which is truly essential to it; but gradually enters into all parts of it, readjusts it, removes the stains which sin had made upon it, and fills it with divine light. Man's business in this great work is a very simple one. It is to cease all resistance, and to invite the Divine Master of the mind to enter it in his own time and way. And even this last is hardly necessary. God does not wait even to be invited to come, except so far as an invitation is implied in the removal of the obstacles which had previously kept him out. Man's ceasing from all resistance, and his willingness to receive God as the all in all, and for all coming time, may be regarded as essentially the completion of the work in respect to himself; but the work of God, who is continually developing from the soul new powers and new beauties, can be completed only with the completion of eternity.

9. In connection with what has now been said, we may understand what is meant by the second form of redemption, or
mental redemption. But this is not all that is involved in the great work of Christ. In addition to the redemption of the individual, which of course is involved in the redemption of the mind of the individual, there is also social redemption; that is to say, man is redeemed and elevated in all his relations, not only as a man, but as the member of a family, as a neighbor, as a citizen. In all these respects, just so soon as he has become the subject of a new life, received from the great Author and Master of life, he is not merely guided by the ordinary sympathies of our nature, and the ordinary sentiments of duty, but by those sympathies and sentiments as they are purified and heightened by the perfected influence of religion. As society in its various modifications is made up of individuals associated with other individuals, the redemption and elevation of the whole mass will correspond to the redemption and elevation of the individual. And man cannot become godlike by unity with God, — he cannot say with the apostle, "Christ," — which is an expression for the true image and power of God, —“liveth in me” without diffusing the image of the inward Divinity over every relation he sustains, over every association of which he is a member. And thus the families and societies of earth, under the purifying influence and power of religion, will reflect the brightness of the families and societies of heaven.