Historicism.com

Recovering the classic, Protestant interpretation of Bible prophecy.

CHAPTER I. - THE ADAMIC FOREVIEW OF HUMAN HISTORY.

 

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and 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 to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

 

THE brief revelation given to Adam in Eden immediately after the fall threw light upon the character and course of human history as a whole, and foretold its grand result as viewed from a moral standpoint. Brief and few as the predictions are, they are all-embracing in their compass, and profound in their depths of meaning. They are multurn in parvo the entire history of mankind summed up in a few brief sentences. They differ widely from subsequent prophecy in character, as befits such primitive predictions. There is about them a combined simplicity and majesty, which stamp them as Divine. Their range is universal, so that all ages and all lands bear witness to their marvelous fulfillment.

 

They deal not with minor matters or temporary, passing experiences and changes, but with all the great permanent, essential facts and phenomena of human existence, including conception, birth, food, labor, the relation of the sexes, the conditions of agriculture, the existence and variety of suffering, the phenomena of conscience, and the relation of men to the evil one, as well as with the awful though universal fact of death.

 

Wonderfully condensed and pregnant with latent meaning as they thus are on their human side, they are not less marvelous on their Divine side; that is, in what they reveal of God, and of His character and His purposes. If His creative words and works had revealed His wisdom, power, and goodness, these utterances with their fullness of moral majesty reveal as clearly His righteousness, His justice, and His grace. That to Adam, in the hour of his utter ruin, should have been given the assurance of the redemption of his race, is in itself a proof of the Divine mercy. At the gloomy crisis when man fell under the power of moral evil, the promise revealed the glorious goal of human history final and complete victory over this evil. Man was not left in his self-inflicted ruin without an intimation that God had toward him purposes of redeeming grace. He was made to feel himself the subject both of judgment and of mercy, and thus was laid the foundation of all true religion in sinful beings a consciousness of unworthiness, a sense of guilt, helplessness, and utter dependence on God, mingled with a hope based on Divine promises, and a faith built upon Divine predictions. Despair was forbidden as much as pride and self-dependence. On this dark page of human history the first after man had passed out of his Maker?s hands into his own there fell the light of foretold redemption, like a gleam of sunshine gilding even the storm-clouds of judgment with beauty and glory.

 

These primitive predictions, it should be noted, were not equivocal, oracular, or but dimly comprehensible. On the contrary, they were singularly definite and simple, so that no one can misunderstand their plain meaning. If they were in one point mysterious, the mystery lay not in what was revealed, but rather in that which was left unrevealed. The mode of redemption and restoration was not made plain; that was left a mystery which the fulfillment of the promise would alone entirely remove, but on which clearer and still clearer light was in subsequent ages to be granted. The glorious terminus only was revealed at first, not how or when it was to be reached. The scheme of Divine mercy was not fully explained, but it was made perfectly clear that such a scheme existed, and that the Almighty Creator and righteous Judge of man purposed to be also his Savior and Redeemer.

 

The foreview of history given to the father of the human race after the fall consists of two contrasted portions.

 

I. THE PROMISE OF REDEMPTION.

 

2. THE PREDICTION OF THE PENAL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.

 

We will consider them in this order, which is that in which Scripture presents them, and which is in itself an illustration of the truth that ?mercy rejoices against judgment.? The God against whom they had sinned hastened, if we may so say, to cheer and encourage the trembling criminals with the blessed hope of ultimate recovery and restoration, before He proceeded to utter the sentence of punishment, and declare to them the inevitable results of their fall.

 

The Eden prophecy of redemption predicts, first, a perpetual enmity and conflict between the serpent?s brood and the woman?s seed; and, secondly, the ultimate destruction of the tempter and destroyer himself, by a suffering yet victorious deliverer, who is mentioned as ?the seed of the woman.? ?I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.? Not only would a fixed and inveterate enmity exist throughout the future history of the race between man and the serpent this was but a figure of the truth but a similar and deeper antagonism would exist between the tempter and mankind. ?Thy seed, ? the seed or posterity of the serpent, must mean those among men who should imbibe the devil?s spirit, and be partakers of his character, subjects of his ?power of darkness? as contrasted with those who should be of an opposite character.{#Mt 23:33; Joh 3:10.}

 

Enmity would exist between good men and bad, the conflict then commenced between man and his tempter would be continued in the history of the human race. But further and mainly, a special ?seed, ? a person, a great individual descendant of Eve should in due time arise in whom this conflict would culminate: ?He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.? The redemption of men should be accomplished through a man, and through a suffering man one who would himself be bruised in the battle, not fatally crushed like his adversary, but yet not free from hurt. The serpent should in the end be completely destroyed, his head crushed by this ?woman?s seed.?

 

Now we know who is styled by pre-eminence ?the Seed, ? who because men are partakers of flesh and blood ?Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.? These words have always been held, and rightly held, to be the first promise and prophecy of the Redeemer of mankind the Son of God, who by incarnation became ?the woman?s Seed.? Nor can any question be fairly raised as to the fact that we have in these words the germ of the Messianic idea so largely unfolded subsequently in the Old Testament, and realized historically in the events of New Testament gospel story. What was that idea interwoven with the histories, prophecies, laws, and ordinances of Israel, and pervading the Bible from beginning to end? Was it not that there should arise, as the Deliverer of sinning and suffering humanity, ONE who should Himself suffer before He triumphed, one who should be a bleeding Victor, a conquering Victim, a self-sacrificing Savior? The Anointed One, the Christ, was first ?to suffer, ? and only then ?to enter into His glory.? The prophets testified beforehand ?the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow.? Nature itself taught that, ?except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.? The martyred Abel, the offered Isaac, the outcast Joseph exalted to be lord of Egypt and Savior of his brethren, Moses rescued from a watery grave to be king in Jeshurun, David despised in his father?s house, hated and hunted by Saul, yet father of the royal line of Judah and founder of the kingdom of Israel, all these and similar incidents presented continually the same ideal, each adding to it some new and special feature, until Isaiah was inspired to present the perfect portrait of the Divine yet human sufferer, who was to be the victorious Savior of men. He was to be Jehovah?s servant, humbled, marred in form and in visage, without beauty or comeliness, despised, rejected, sorrowful, burdened with grief, laden with transgressions not His own, wounded, bruised, stricken of God and afflicted, oppressed and ill-used, cut off prematurely and unjustly, numbered with transgressors, laid in a grave, made a sin-offering. And yet He was to be ?exalted. and extolled and very high, ? to have ?a portion with the great? and to ?divide the spoil with the strong, ? to justify many, to become an intercessor for transgressors, to sprinkle many nations, to be the arm or power of the Lord, and through Him all the ends of the earth should behold the salvation of God.{#Isa 52:, 53} He was to be ?cut off? in the midst of His days, yet He was, as ?Messiah the Prince, ? to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins; to make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness; to cause Jewish sacrifice and oblation to cease, and to confirm a covenant with many.? {#Da 9:24-27} He was to be ?a child born? to Israel, and yet ?the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.?

 

Now though in the light of its own fulfillment and realization in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, this MESSIANIC IDEAL has become familiar to the mind of Christendom, what mystery must have overshadowed it, and what perplexities must have attended any attempt to give it even in imagination a definite embodiment previously to the event. How impossible therefore that it could have been a mere human invention, whether of Moses or of Adam or of any one else! Here, in the earliest prophecy of Scripture, a document dating back at least to the days of Moses, and possibly much further, we meet with the distinct germ and embryo of this strange, mysterious, peculiar Messianic ideal, predictions which subsequently shaped for ages the expectations of a nation, and the fulfillment of which in history has since shaped for ages more the experience of a world.

 

It is true that the Jews lost sight of one half of the ideal the foretold sufferings of Messiah and dwelt only in anticipation on His glories; but this makes it only the more remarkable that the Scriptures of the prophets, which they read continually in their synagogues, should present so fully and so frequently a feature as to which the people were blinded. Whence did they get this ideal? Whence did Moses get it? Or if, as some think, Moses embodied in Genesis documents which even in his day belonged to a primitive antiquity, whence did the writers of those documents get this notion of the double bruising, the suffering Victor, the tried but triumphant Redeemer of mankind? Place the date of the birth of this ideal where we will, it must have been in existence before the death of Moses, else we could not meet it in the Pentateuch. Now whether Moses found it in some ancient document or received it through Noahic tradition, or more directly by Divine inspiration, little matters to our present argument. The point of that argument lies in the fact that fifteen centuries at any rate before the strange Messianic ideal was realized in an actual character, the essential features of it were foreseen, foreshadowed, and foretold.

 

Who foresaw them? Certainly not Moses or the prophets by mere human intelligence, for they understood not their own predictions, but searched ?what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when It testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow.? There is but one rational explanation of the early existence and long continuance of this Messianic ideal. It was the hope set before the lost and ruined human family, by their compassionate and omniscient Creator; ?holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.? This primitive germ of a prophetic character, which afterwards occupied so ruling a position in the hearts and minds of men for ages before it was realized in history, and the actual appearance of which on the stage of human life, not only forms the greatest and most widely spread era of mundane chronology, but has proved by far the most influential event that ever happened in human experience this first Messianic prediction must have come ?by inspiration of God.? From this first prophecy of the Redeemer right on to the last prediction of Christ prior to His advent, this leading feature of triumph preceded by defeat, glory introduced by suffering, redemption for man secured by self-sacrifice, is uniformly kept in view and gradually developed. So markedly is this the case, that after His resurrection Christ could reproach His incredulous disciples with being ?slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken, ? and ?beginning at Moses and all the prophets? He could expound to them ? in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself, ? putting to them the unanswerable question, ?Ought not the Christ (or the Messiah) to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?? He reminded them that not only had He Himself told them that suffering and death were to befall Him, but that it was predicted in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, adding, ?Thus it is written, and thus it behooved the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations.? The oak tree of Messianic prediction lies latent in the acorn of this Eden prophecy. Judaism and Christianity alike are the outcome of this ideal, the one of the mere prediction of it, the other of the fulfillment of the prediction. These are facts that cannot be gainsaid. How are they to be explained? Whence came the embryo if not from God?

 

The only alternatives seem to be either frankly to admit the inspiration of the Eden promise, or else to deny, not only that it has ever been fulfilled, but that Messianic predictions as a whole have been so. This would be to assert that they were one and although so exactly answering to notorious and universally influential facts, unmeaning Jewish speculations; and even then there would remain to be explained the difficulty that the Jews who wrote and treasured these predictions did not understand them, had not the true ideal before their minds, and when it was realized in history actually failed to perceive that a suffering Savior was a fulfillment of their own prophecies, or a realization of their long-cherished hopes.

 

Now it must be freely granted that Messianic prophecy as a whole has not yet received its full accomplishment, that only a part of it has done so. ?The woman?s seed? has not yet completely crushed the serpent?s head, as is evident from his present tremendous and universal activity in our world, where the tempter is undeniably still alive and at large! He is still in our day what our Savior called him in His day, ?the prince of this world, ? and what Paul called him, ?the god of this world, ? ?the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.?{#Joh 14:30 2Co 4:4 Eph 2:2} Sin still reigns unto death. No one contends that the work of human redemption is as yet complete. It stands indeed to reason that it could no more be accomplished in a few centuries than was the work of creation. This Christian age, though fast nearing its close, has not yet run its course; and according to Scripture, another age the millennial is to succeed the one in which we live before the old serpent will be fully destroyed, before redeemed humanity will rest and rejoice in the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

 

But it may nevertheless be boldly asserted that the prophetic program presented by inspiration at the beginning of the Adamic age has, even in this its first point, the promise of redemption, been largely fulfilled, and that the unfulfilled portion is so closely linked and indissolubly connected with the fulfilled, as to warrant the confident expectation that it also will in due season become matter of history instead of prophecy. In order to show this, we must consider a little more fully each of its three points: the COMING, SUFFERINGS, and TRIUMPHS of the woman?s ?Seed.?.

 

1. THE COMING OF THE SEED. It cannot be questioned that among all those born of woman one individual stands out solitary, supreme, pre-eminent; that though there have been many heroes among men, He rises above them all high as the vault of heaven above the hills of earth. Rightly or wrongly He is this day believed in and beloved, esteemed to be Divine as well as human, obeyed as Lord, worshipped as God, and trusted as Savior, by over four hundred millions of mankindthat is, by a third of the entire human family; that He holds this place, not among the more ignorant, superstitious, and degraded nations of the earth, but on the contrary among the most advanced, intelligent, and highly cultured.

 

And why? He holds it because He is believed to have sacrificed Himself for the salvation of men, to have died and to have risen from the dead, to be evermore the living, loving, almighty Savior of the human race, who will yet return to earth and finish the work He has begun. Let all this be truth or error, it matters not to our present argument. We are not now defending the faith of Christians, but calling attention to the fact of its existence as a proof of the fulfillment of the Adamic program. We point to the fact that a great Deliverer has, in the judgment of the most enlightened part of mankind, appeared among men in the person of one who was emphatically the woman?s Seed ?born of a virgin, one who Himself professed that He came into the world to save it, who engaged in a personal struggle with the tempter and defeated him, whose mission it was to destroy him and his works, who resisted his temptations, delivered his victims, exposed his delusions, endured his malice, and who finally yielded to his power of death that He might by rising again destroy both it and him.

 

?He hell in hell laid low,

 

Made sin He sin o?erthrew;

 

Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,

 

And death by dying slew.?

 

It is over one thousand eight hundred years since this great Deliverer appeared, and each generation as it passes beholds His name becoming a greater and greater power in the earth. The influence of His life and death, of His words and example, increases year by year continually, and at the present rate of progress will soon fill the world. The greatest intellects of all ages have owned the unique excellence and felt the unequalled power of the character and teaching of Christ. Kepler, Bacon, Newton, Milton, Shakespeare, in our own land; Goethe, Schelling, Hegel, Kant, in Germany, even the infidel Jew Spinoza, have left on record their hearty recognition of His matchless personality. Jean Paul Richter speaks of Him as ?the holiest among the mighty, and the mightiest among the holy, who lifted with His pierced hand empires off their hinges, turned the stream of centuries out of its channel, and still governs the ages.?

 

In a word, we may say that all men, no matter what their faith or what their indifference and unbelief, who have considered carefully this subject, admit that the man Christ Jesus stands high above all. Napoleon?s well-known testimony shows how profoundly the character and worth of Jesus of Nazareth impressed a leader among men, though himself the very opposite of Christlike, a destroyer and not a Savior of his fellows. ?No man will accuse the first Napoleon of being either a pietist or weak-minded. He strode the world in his day like a colossus, a man of gigantic intellect, however worthless and depraved in moral sense. Conversing one day, at St. Helena, as his custom was, about the great men of antiquity, and comparing himself with, them, he suddenly turned round to one of his suite and asked him, ?Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?? The officer owned that he had not yet taken much thought of such things. ?Well, then, ? said Napoleon, ?I will tell you.? He then compared Christ with himself and with the heroes of antiquity, and showed how Jesus far surpassed them. ?I think I understand somewhat of human nature, ? he continued, ?and I tell you all these were men, and I am a man; but not one is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than man. Alexander, Cesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.? ?The gospel is no mere book, ? said he at another time, ?but a living creature, with a vigour, a power, which conquers all that opposes it. Here lies the Book of books upon the table (touching it reverently); I do not tire of reading it, and do so daily with equal pleasure. The soul, charmed with the beauty of the gospel, is no longer its own; God possesses it entirely: He directs its thoughts and faculties; it is His. What a proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ Yet in this absolute sovereignty He has but one aim the spiritual perfection of the individual, the purification of his conscience, his union with what is true, the salvation of his soul. Men wonder at the conquests of Alexander: but here is a conqueror who draws men to Himself for their highest good; who unites to Himself, incorporates into Himself, not a nation, but the whole human race.? On another occasion Napoleon said: ?From first to last Jesus is the same; always the same majestic and simple, infinitely severe and infinitely gentle. Throughout a life passed under the public eye, He never gives occasion to find fault. The prudence of His conduct compels our admiration by its union of force and gentleness. Alike in speech and action, He is enlightened, consistent, and calm.. Sublimity is said to be an attribute of divinity; what name then shall we give Him in whose character were united every element of the sublime? I know men; and I tell you that Jesus is not a man. Everything in Him amazes me. His spirit outreaches mine, and His will confounds me. Comparison is impossible between Him and any other being in the world. He is truly a being by Himself His ideas and His sentiments, the truth that He announces, His manner of convincing, are all beyond humanity and the natural order of things. His birth, and the story of His life; the profoundness of His doctrine, which overturns all difficulties, and is their most complete solution; His gospel; the singularity of His mysterious being, His appearance, His empire, His progress through all centuries and kingdoms: all this is to me a prodigy, an unfathomable mystery. I see nothing here of man. Near as I may approach, closely as I may examine, all remains above my comprehension great with the greatness that crushes me. It is in vain that I reflect all remains unaccountable. I defy you to cite another life like that of Christ.?

 

Account for the strange coincidence as we will, there is no denying either that the Divine program foretold long before Mosaic times of the advent of a great Deliverer who should be the woman?s seed, or that one answering to the prediction did actually appear in our world 1, 800 years ago; nor that this individual is now more widely regarded than ever before as the Savior of mankind. His coming is admitted to have introduced into the world a new moral force, a force which is opposed to evil in all its forms. He appeared as the great antagonist of moral evil, and of its author. It is asserted of Him that ?He was manifested to take away our sins, ? that He came ?to destroy the works of the devil, ? and, more, to destroy him himself.? #Joh 3:5 and 8. No candid mind can fail to see in the advent of Jesus Christ of Nazareth an apparent fulfillment of the promise given in Eden.

 

2. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SEED. These were dimly intimated in the original prediction, but largely described, as we have seen, in later Messianic prophecies; and we ask, Was suffering a conspicuous feature in the history of Jesus Christ of Nazareth? The question scarcely needs a reply, for it is universally recognized that He was the Prince of sufferers. To no form of human suffering was the ?Man of sorrows? a stranger, and all His sufferings came upon Him because He willed to be the Savior of men. It was in His struggle with the serpent that He was bruised and crushed, His heel or human nature bruised even to death! ?He bowed His head, and gave up the spirit.? His incarnation itself involved the suffering of supremest self-denial. He emptied Himself of His Divine glory and became an ?obedient servant.? He suffered being tempted; He had not where to lay His head. He was misunderstood and reproached, doubted and disbelieved, provoked and insulted, stricken, smitten, and afflicted. For His love He had hatred, from His friends faithless desertion, from His foes relentless malice. No sorrow was ever like His sorrow; He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, He hid not His face from shame and spitting. Reproach broke His heart and filled Him with bitterness, and when He voluntarily assumed all the guilt of sinners and tasted death for every man, He had to endure the deepest of all sufferings, the sense of being forsaken of God. The woman?s Seed was beyond all question the great sufferer. And He Himself spoke of His dying sufferings as inflicted by the great enemy of man; ?the prince of this world cometh, ? He said on the last night of His life, ?and hath nothing in Me.? ?Now is your hour and the power of darkness, ? He said to His captors in Gethsemane. He recognized too that His own death was the destruction of His foe, that the two bruisings synchronized. ?Now shall the prince of this world be cast out?; and again He said in connection with His own death, ?the prince of this world is judged.? {#Joh 12:31 Joh 16:11}

 

The intensity of suffering can be estimated only in relation to the character of the sufferer; for that which is acute suffering to one is none at all to others. We must not judge of the sufferings of Christ by our own standard, but learn from Himself what the experiences through which He passed when He became ?the woman?s Seed? cost Him. The Gospels give us the story of His outward life and of His teachings, but they say little of His feelings: it is from the prophetic book of Psalms mainly that we learn something of them. Who can study the 22nd, 40th, 69th, or similar psalms without feeling that the depths of mental and spiritual anguish were sounded by the Son of man. Sorely was He bruised by the serpent and his seed scribes and Pharisees, Jews and Romans, traitors, executioners, and revilers! Moreover, the hand of God was laid heavily on the willing Substitute; as it is written, ?the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.? If the advent of Christ answer to the first point of the Adamic prediction, assuredly His experiences in life and in death answer to the second. But it remains to consider

 

3. THE TRIUMPHS OF THE SEED. The work of redemption being still in progress and avowedly incomplete, it is impossible to indicate under this last point anything more than the incipient fulfillment of the prophecy as to the destruction of the tempter of mankind by the woman?s seed. Four thousand years rolled by before the great Deliverer appeared, eighteen hundred only have passed since His advent. Sufficient time has not elapsed to show the full results of His work. But the interval has been long enough for great effects to have resulted already, and above all for the general tendency of the results to have become apparent. Can we then point to any tangible, unquestionable victories won for mankind over moral evil and its author by ?the seed of the woman?? Its main results are spiritual ones, and these are, of course, not cognizable by human sense intangible, invisible. The cleansing of human consciences, the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation between God and men, the justification of sinners, the bestowal of eternal life, all these great and supremely important changes are not of a kind to be adduced in evidence of the bruising of the serpent?s head, because they are not evident, they cannot be seen or heard or handled by men; and while they may serve as evidence to those who are themselves conscious of being delivered from the kingdom of Satan and translated into the kingdom of Christ, yet they cannot be adduced in argument with unbelievers.

 

But if spiritual changes such as these take place in considerable numbers and over any large sphere, they must needs produce other changes in the world which will be of a visible, tangible nature, and which may consequently be cited as evidence of the ever-increasing victories of Christianity. For it must be borne in mind that just as it was through his ?seed, ? or human agents that the serpent bruised the heel of the Savior, so it is through His people that Christ is at present triumphing over Satan. The first fatal blow He Himself delivered by His spotless life, atoning death, and glorious resurrection; and He will Himself give the last blow also, at His coming again in glory. Indeed, as Scripture puts it, He has a/ready in a sense destroyed, not only the works of the devil, but their author. It is written, ? He hath destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, ? as well as delivered many of his captives. The crisis of the long conflict is past, the victory has been won, though much of the fruits have yet to be reaped. So it may be said the power of France was crushed at Sedan, though a long period elapsed ere the full fruits of the conquest were enjoyed by Germany. Her hosts could not all at once close the campaign and rest on their laurels. Many a strong fortress still held out, many a weary siege had yet to be laid, many a soldier had yet to fall, and many a million had yet to be expended before France, disarmed and helpless, acknowledged her defeat and submitted to the conqueror?s terms. No one questions that Sedan practically settled the ultimate result of the war, sending the discrowned monarch and his hosts into captivity, though it was some time before the transferred imperial crown was placed on the victor?s brow at Versailles, and before the treasures of France were poured into the lap of Germany.

 

It is thus with the long conflict between the serpent and the woman?s seed. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus practically won the day, though the full fruits of victory are not reaped yet. In Him, man, born of a woman, resisted Satan?s temptations, fulfilled all righteousness, suffered the just for the unjust, tasted death fo; every man, broke its. bonds and rose again from the dead, triumphant alike over the wiles, the malice, and the power of Satan. There is ample and unquestionable historic evidence of these facts, and this virtually decided the struggle. The author of evil had met his match, and been wounded in a vital point. One member of the human family had vanquished him, and became thenceforth the champion and deliverer of His brethren. It was all over with the Philistines when Goliath was slain, though much remained to be done before they were finally driven from the land of Israel.

 

Since the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the ultimate triumph of the seed of the woman has, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, been a settled question; and the final issue becomes continually clearer in the light of the actual course of mundane events.

 

The victories of moral good over moral evil which have resulted from the influence whether of Judaism or of Christianity, whether direct or indirect, may all be fairly regarded as the achievements and initial triumphs of ?the seed of the woman.? In considering a few of the most notable of these, we must distinguish between results that have been and are the proper outcome of the doctrines and example of Christ the fruits of real Christianity and the results of the existence in the world of the great corrupt outward organization that bears His name the professing Christian Church. This, alas! has too often completely misrepresented the religion of Christ, and acted in opposition to His laws and to His Spirit. It has cultivated bigotry and hatred, instigated religious wars and persecutions, opposed liberty of thought and action, established bloody courts of inquisition, upheld cruel and inhuman systems of slavery, sought for itself earthly power and wealth, and by its enactments and practices encouraged a host of terrible social evils and degrading popular superstitions The mischief done by the so-called Christian Church must not be laid at the door of true Christianity. Its effects are to be traced by the changes which its doctrines have produced in the world through the influence exerted by its true professors. In ~ll ages, even the darkest, there have been such consistent disciples of Christ, filled with His spirit and followers of His example, whose lives have been potent for good, and whose influence, though they may have themselves been martyred, has been mighty enough to shame men out of some of their evil deeds, and move them to a measure of self-reformation, even when it did not make of them true converts. A work was recently published by an American writer which carefully traces The history of human progress under Christianity. ?Gesta Christi.? By C. Luring Brace. (Hodder & Stoughton.) The author is one who has had the opportunity of practically testing for thirty years on a large scale its power in diminishing poverty, misery, and crime; and of estimating the part Christian ideas had in the great effort of the United States to remove the giant evil of slavery. There can indeed be no question that they were the foundation of this greatest of modern reforms, and that they stimulated and supported the country through its long and costly struggle to deliver itself from this dread incubus. This author had also studied for many years the laws and history of the later Roman period and of the middle ages, and had been struck by the ever-recurring traces of the silent yet profound working of ?the great reforming power of the world.? He had also been engaged in examining and presenting in public writings the influence of the Christian faith in the more modern period on international law, arbitrations, and the relations of nations. This experience fitted him to do what he has very cautiously and candidly done in the work alluded to trace the progressive influence of Christianity in the earth. He writes:

 

?There are certain practices, principles, and ideas, now the richest inheritance of the race, that have been either implanted or stimulated or supported by Christianity. They are such as these: regard for the personality of the weakest and poorest; respect for women; the absolute duty of each member of the fortunate classes to raise up the unfortunate; humanity to the child, the prisoner, the stranger, the needy, and even the brute; the duty of personal purity and the sacredness of marriage; the necessity of temperance the obligation of a more equitable division of the profits of labor, and of greater co-operation between employers and employed; the right of every human being to have the utmost opportunity of developing his faculties, and of all persons to enjoy equal political and social privileges; the principle that the injury of one nation is the injury of all, and the expediency and duty of unrestricted trade and intercourse between all countries; and, finally and principally, a profound opposition to war, a determination to limit its evils when existing, and to prevent its arising by means of international arbitration.?

 

Space forbids us to enlarge as we would fain do on this theme, but we may say in a sentence the world little knows how deeply it is indebted to Christianity and its parent Judaism! Light, love, liberty, peace, preservation, progress, happiness, harmony, hope have all flowed to mankind from the advent of the woman?s Seed. Take away from the human family the nations and peoples who have more or less fully come under the Redeemer?s influence, and what remains? Nothing but polytheism and idolatry, paganism and fetishism, despotism, slavery, degraded womanhood, female infanticide, intertribal wars, depopulated countries, and dwarfed, stunted races who have retrograded through vice almost to the level of the beasts. China is the only apparent exception; and even there, alongside of an ancient and comparatively high civilization, idolatry, superstition, female oppression, judicial cruelties, and social miseries prevail. Mohammedan countries must be included among those which have, though very slightly, come under the Redeemer?s influence, for their monotheism was derived both from Judaism and Christianity. The point we have to settle is, whether the Eden prediction of the triumph of the seed of the woman seems likely, from what has already happened, to be ultimately fulfilled? Or, to put the question in another form, Are idolatries, cruelties, and degrading superstitions passing away before the liberating, ennobling doctrines of Christ? Are the more corrupt forms of the Christian faith itself giving place increasingly to purer and more beneficial ones? Is a constantly increasing section of the human race enjoying vast temporal and spiritual benefits traceable to the advent of Christ? The answer to these questions must be an affirmative one. In an ever-increasing ratio, the faith of Christ is spreading in the earth; the most marked increase in our days is in the purer Protestant forms of that faith; and everywhere civil, political, social, and religious elevation follow as a consequence.

 

Contrast the moral and social condition of Protestant England, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, North America, Australia, New Zealand, with the condition of India, Burmah, Siam, China, Central Africa, Zululand, or with that of the American Indians. The more thoroughly the two groups are studied, the more apparent will it become that the contrast of condition between Christian and heathen countries is like that between night and day. Roman Catholic countries, which, though Christian in profession, have been molded by a worldly and corrupt ecclesiastical system, rather than by the pure doctrine of Christ and the open Bible, occupy an intermediate position; as witness Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, Hayti, and the States of South America, where, instead of wealth, might, prosperity, progress, and peace, we see poverty, feebleness, disaster, retrogression, perpetual unrest, and constant wars.

 

The following statements are taken from a recently published pamphlet, entitled, ?Political Issues of the Nineteenth Century, with Important Statistics drawn from the most Authentic Sources?

 

?The social progress of the last century has been signal. That progress has been chiefly a Protestant progress. The Catholic nations have been comparatively torpid, and exhibit little movement, except when by tolerating a Protestant minority they have admitted an infusion from the reform. ?The general decay or comparative stagnation of Catholic countries is patent, but a prolonged insight shows more. It is evident the Catholic nations advance more slowly in proportion to their complete subjection to the religious influence of Catholicism, while, on the contrary, strong religious sentiment among Protestants seems favorable to rapid advance. Historians remark that the Reformation has given extraordinary force to every nation which embraced it, and that history cannot explain this force.

 

?Protestantism being founded on a book reciting covenants between God and every man, it claims that every man should read. Hence the necessity for education. Personal covenant implies individual liberty and individual intelligence. With the exercise of private judgment comes discovery. The conscience is reached by a higher sense of moral contract than in the adherents of a system subordinated to some fellow creature, who assumes solely to interpret obligation and regulate duty. The enthusiasm of Protestants has remodeled the most important States of Europe on a basis of deliberative assent and representative government. Catholic communities, when they aspire to imitate this conception, invariably fall into disorder, for Catholicism requires unthinking submission, In the States founded by Protestantism America, liberty and industrial energy are concomitant with order. Wherever Protestantism prevails, there is more frankness, more affiance, more culture and morality.

 

?This is the secret of the strength of Protestantism. It rends the cerements which have long enwrapped the Church, and gives to every member the breath of life. M. Renan says: ?The formation of new sects which Catholics bring, as a mark of weakness, against Protestants, proves, on the contrary, that the religious sentiment lives among the latter because it is creative. There is nothing more dead than that which is motionless.? Protestantism substitutes a Christian republic of genial intelligence for a pharisaic cabalism of hierarchs. The laity are no longer the proletaires of the clergy, and both escape the deteriorating immorality of the confessional. The estates and judgments of men are freed from the figment and the exactions of a vice-Christ who conveyances the invisible world to others and the visible to himself It seems incumbent on the nineteenth century to examine the extent and nature of this evil before transferring the burden to the next. Let us dispassionately ascertain how much of it is traceable to Christianity, travestied with paganism, whether the intellectual nonage of nations is not prolonged by it only in a less degree than by the vitiated theisms of Asia. Judged by the gradual corruption of the Church from Lactantius to Luther, but for the Reformation of the sixteenth century Christianity should by this time have sunk so low as to he unrecognizable, and Europe would know no more of the writings of Moses, Isaiah, Paul, or John, than do the votaries of Buddha, Siva, and Mahomet. The condition of the Jesuit-ruled portions of America and their painful history for three hundred years would raise a further question, Does such Christianity sink populations lower than it finds them??

 

Mr. Gladstone, referring to these, the vital subjects of our day, writes ?There is a question which hitherto can scarcely be said to have been presented to the public mind, and which it seems high time to examine that question is, whether experience has now supplied data sufficient for a trustworthy comparison of results in the several spheres of political liberty, social advancement, mental intelligence, and general morality between the Church of Rome on the one hand, and the religious communities cut off or separated from her on the other.? He proceeds then to reason that Scriptural faith will prove efficient ?against the ultramontane conspiracy, ? and urges the need of the purified form of Christianity. Macaulay, Ruskin, Dickens, Hallam, Hepworth Dixon, and J. A. Froude have touched the question frequently; but Continental writers, Romanist and Protestant, have dilated upon it. Tame has recognized the Bible as ?the secret of England?s greatness.? Agassiz says of the teaching of Romanist priests, that ?as long as the people do not demand another sort of religious instruction they will continue in their downward course or not be able to improve.? M. Geroult writes in the palmy days of the second empire (1866) ?The nations in which Papal religion prevails are doomed to IRREMEDIABLE DECAY, the future of the world is all to the Reformed Church. What nations are at the head of civilization, and exercise a sovereign influence? The United States, Britain, and Prussia. Which, on the contrary, drag painfully along in the routine of the past without strength or grandeur? Spain, Rome, and Austria. As for France, she is indebted to a peculiar temperament and to the free spirit of inquiry with which she is long animated, not to have fallen to the rank of a fifth or sixth-rate power in Europe. But let her take care, the Catholicism to which she obstinately remains attached why, it is not easy to say will indubitably in the long run paralyze her forces.? Professor Emile de Laveleye remarks ?The Catholic nations seem stricken with barrenness; they cannot rest, because free and representative government is the logical outcome of Protestantism only. Catholic nations aspiring to this perpetually oscillate between despotism and anarchy. Christianity is favorable to liberty. Catholicism is its mortal enemy, so admits its infallible head the pope. If France had not persecuted, strangled, and banished her children who bad become Protestants, she might have developed the germs of liberty and self-government. The fact being that the chief of a state, be he king or president, cannot be a true constitutional sovereign if he is a devotee, and confesses as an obedient penitent. He is governed by a confessor who is subject to the pope, the real sovereign. The constitutional system becomes a figment or a fraud, for it enslaves the country to the will of an unknown priest or else when the land refuses to bear the humiliating yoke, it produces a revolution. In Protestant lands the constitutional system flourishes naturally, being in its native soil; while on Catholic soil, being an heretical import, it is undermined by the priests.?

 

?Such is its fate in Ireland. The franchises bestowed by an heretical empire to ascertain the individual will of its subjects can effect that object in a Protestant population; in Ireland it expresses naught but the collective will of Rome. Even the juryman must submit to the Church?s interpretation of duty; he is influenced, as M. de Laveleyc says the monarch or the minister is influenced, through the confessional. He is abject before the priest, who is abject before the pope. Thus Vaticanism wields imperial sway in Ireland, and no proof can be given that demagoguism is not its puppet. The effort to govern Ireland on constitutional principles becomes a farce and even a fraud.... Would ultramontane success make Ireland happy? It has had its way in many lands, and shown that it perishes by its own corruption. Suppose Ireland made into another Spain or Mexico. Let the history of those countries be repeated. Let property so gravitate into the custody of the Roman Catholic Church, that even the banks became monkeries, and the trader and the property-owner must borrow through the prelacy. The inquisition in Mexico became the discounter as well as the torturer. The wealth of the insubordinate was, extracted by the rack. Money could always be had through the prelates, and through them only. Did this bring prosperity to Mexico? A new administration every nine months attests the fearful unrest which Romanism brings to agonized nations.... The traveller in Ireland is pained and surprised to find within twelve hours of London a lawlessness, truculence, and degradation defying the philanthropy and statutes of an empire which girdles the globe with its benignity. On lands where the energy of Protestantism would by emigration disengage itself from impracticable resources, the Catholic remains in chronic inanity of mind and body, and priests enjoy munificent living among the victims of superstition and sorrow... A moral map of Europe would show in darkening circles our approach to the former States of the Church, The remark of Edmund About on prosperity holds true of morality, that ?it is proportioned to the square of the distance which separates it from Rome.?

 

?Niehuhr, speaking of the Papal capital in 1830, says: ?They are a nation of walking dead men. When that which is living disgusts, can the human heart find compensation from statues, painting, and architecture? Intellect and knowledge, any idea which makes the heart throb, all generous activity seems banished, all hope, all aspiration, all effort, even all cheerfullness, for I have never seen a more cheerless nation.? Macaulay says, ?Under the rule of Rome, the loveliest provinces of Europe have been sunk in poverty, in political servitude, in intellectual torpor, and reduced to the lowest depths of degradation.? Mr. Gladstone (?Vaticanism?) says ?The education of the religious orders in its influence is adverse to freedom in the mind of the individual, freedom in the State, freedom in the family; all that nurtures freedom, all that guarantees it, is harassed, denounced, cabined, confined, attenuated, and starved. To secure these is the claim of civilization; to destroy them, and to establish the resistless domineering action of a central power, is the aim of Rome.? Sir Robert Kane, an Irish Roman Catholic, says, in every country where education has been in the hands 0f the religious orders of Catholicism, ?it had resulted in social decay and the political debasement of the people.? In Spain the adult illiteracy has attained the figure of seventy-five per cent. The condition of Spain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Sicily, rural France, and indeed of Southern Europe as contrasted with Northern, is instructive. In Northern we find education, municipal repose, rural sweetness, and contentment. In the South with or without education, there is municipal unrest, tumult, and licentiousness, in the rural districts, filth, ignorance, coarseness. The virtues of content and industry come PALPABLY FROM SPIRITUAL SOURCES. The manifestation of wisdom and goodness in a Divine Being, as conveyed in the evangelic message of the New Testament, has proved itself the firm support of authority and obligation. When Christianity was pure it tamed the Goth, and Hun, and Scandinavian, who were never tamed till the gospel reached them. The nations of the South who had the advantage of starting with the developed civilization of pagan Rome have retrograded.?

 

Statistical tables are then given to show the demoralizing effect of the Papacy, and especially of the confessional, in the countries subjected to Catholic influence. We have not space to give these, but may mention that while, in 1853, in Protestant England murders, for instance, occur in the proportion of four to a million of the population, in Ireland there are nineteen to the million, in Austria thirty-six, and in Italy seventy-eight. In 1869 the report of the French police gives still more horrible figures for the Papal States and Italy. In the former the murders were one hundred and eighty-seven in the million, and in the latter one hundred and eleven.

 

And not only does Romanism fail to restrain crime, but it fails equally to restrain vice. The official records of the birth of illegitimate children in Protestant and Roman Catholic countries present a fearful contrast. While in the great cities of England such births vary from four to seven per cent., in Paris, Brussels, and Milan they are thirty to thirty-five per cent; and in Prague, Munich, Vienna, and Gratz they vary from forty-seven to sixty-five per cent. In the Pontifical States, before their annexation to Italy, not only was the death-rate from crimes of violence, as we have seen, enormous, but the corruption of society was appalling to contemplate. Nowhere else, probably, was the number of illegitimate births so great: it amounted to seventy-two per cent. Or, to contrast the cities: in London, for every hundred legitimate births there are four illegitimate, in Paris there are forty-eight, and in Rome a hundred and forty-three though it has between seven and eight thousand clergy, monks, and nuns

 

What has made these differences and shades of difference? Divine revelation: first the law, and since the gospel. The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, ?Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.? If mankind has been to any extent liberated from the tyranny of Satan, if foolish and degrading idolatries and ignorant superstitions have lost their hold on a considerable portion of our race, it is a result of the redeeming work of the woman?s Seed. It is true that many influences material, moral, and intellectual have combined to effect the advance of the race in morality and humanity, and that it is not always easy to estimate the separate influence of the new moral power introduced into the world by the advent and death of Christ; but all the most important ameliorations of the condition of mankind will be seen on careful investigation to be gesta Christi, achievements of Christ.

 

To judge fairly of this fact, we must compare the condition of the Roman earth before Christianity became the religion of the empire with its condition subsequently and with its condition now. The moral and social revolution connected with the abolition of heathenism was immense and universal. It is difficult for us at this date to realize the corruption which characterized the old Roman civilization, the gigantic obstacles which Christianity had to overthrow in the laws, customs, and habits of the people, as well as in their religion. Satan?s power in the world has diminished indeed since the days when parents could legally kill their children, and husbands had the power of life and death over their wives when divorce was so frequent that Seneca speaks of illustrious and noble women who reckoned their years, not by the number of the consuls, but by that of their husbands, and mentions one man, Moencenas, as having ?married a thousand wives, ? and Tertullian says that divorce was the very purpose of the Roman marriage. He who is a murderer from the beginning had full sway in the days when Caesar forced three hundred and twenty pairs of gladiators at once into the arena to destroy each other, or when Trajan kept up such bloody sports for one hundred and twenty. three days together and made 10, 000 unhappy prisoners contend for life in the amphitheatre; when human sacrifices were offered on great occasions to the gods, and noble and lovely children specially sought out as victims; when parents exposed their female children without the slightest compunction if too poor to rear them, or if they seemed weakly, leaving them to die or be devoured, or rescued by others to be brought up as the lowest slaves; when corruption of still worse and more unnatural kinds was so common that Tacitus mourned over the utter decadence of his people, and, believing no redemption possible, anticipated only final and general ruin. It was in such a world as this that the triumphs of ? the Seed of the woman? began.

 

?The influence of the great Friend of humanity was especially seen in the Roman empire in checking licentious and cruel sports, so common and so demoralizing among the classic races; and in bringing on a new legislation of beneficence in favour of the outcast woman, the mutilated, the prisoner, and the slave. For the first time the stern and noble features of Roman law took on an unwonted expression of gentle humanity and sweet compassion under the power of Him who was the brother of the unfortunate and the sinful. The great followers of the Teacher of Galilee became known as the ?brothers of the slave, ? and the Christian religion began its struggles of many centuries with those greatest of human evils, slavery and serfdom. It did not, indeed, succeed in abolishing them; but the remarkable mitigations of the system in Roman law, and the constant drift towards a condition of liberty, and the increasing emancipation throughout the Roman empire, are plainly fruits of its principles. All these and similar steps of humane progress are the gesta Christi, and the direct effects of His personal influence on the world.?

 

Dr. Cunningham Geikie, in his ?Life and Words of Christ, ? after tracing the new principles and the fresh light brought into the world by the advent of Christ, says:

 

?It has already largely transformed society, and is destined to affect it for good, in ever-increasing measure, in all directions. The one grand doctrine of the brotherhood of man, as man, is in itself the pledge of infinite results.... Such an idea was unknown to antiquity, to the Jew, to the Greek, and to the Roman alike.

 

?It was left to Christ to proclaim the brotherhood of all nations by revealing God as their common Father in heaven, filled towards them with a father?s love; by His commission to preach the gospel to all by His inviting all, without distinction, to come to Him. His equal sympathy with the slave, the beggar, and the ruler; by the whole bearing and spirit of His life; and, above all, by His picture of all nations gathered to judgment at the Great Day, with no distinction of race or rank, but simply as men.

 

?In this great principle of the essential equality of man and his responsibility to God, the germs lay hid of grand truths imperfectly realized even yet..

 

?The slave, before Christ came, was a piece of property of less worth than land or cattle. An old Roman law enacted a penalty of death for him who killed a ploughing ox, but the murderer of a slave was called to no account whatever. Crassus, after the revolt of Spartacus, crucified 10, 000 slaves at one time. Augustus, in violation of his word, delivered to their masters, for execution, 30, 000 slaves who had fought for Sextus Pompeius. ?The great truth of man?s universal brotherhood was the axe laid at the root of this detestable crimethe sum of all villainies. By first infusing kindness into the lot of the slave, then by slowly undermining slavery itself, each century has seen some advance, till at last the man owner is unknown in nearly every civilized country, and even Africa itself, the worst victim of slavery in these later ages, is being aided by Christian England to raise its slaves into freemen.

 

?Aggressive war is no less distinctly denounced by Christianity, which, in teaching the brotherhood of man, proclaims war a revolt, abhorrent to nature, of brothers against brothers. The voice of Christ, commanding peace on earth, has echoed through all the centuries since His day, and has been, at least, so far honored that the horrors of war are greatly lessened, and that war itselfno longer the rule, but the exception is much rarer in Christian nations than in former times.?

 

The writer from whorn we have before quoted says on this subject

 

?Peace among all men and all nations is the ideal presented by Christ. And by one class of means or other, when at length His teachings have thoroughly permeated mankind, this ideal will be attained.

 

Outside of the nominally Christian nations there is no international law. The Turks appear to have had little idea of it till instructed by European nations. The Koran?s teachings tended in the very opposite direction, and made war the natural condition towards non-Mohammedan races, and treachery justifiable towards an ?infidel.? The Mohammedan peoples in the North of Africa lived in a constant state of hostility with all foreigners. The Chinese, with all their advancement in arts and sciences, seem never to have thought of any code of humanity and justice towards foreign nations.

 

?The Japanese have indeed recently made efforts to introduce the international law known to the Christian nations to their own people, and one proposed code at least has been translated.

 

?No Buddhist, so far as we are aware, has written on this topic, nor does a Buddhistic code of laws and customs between different peoples exist.

 

?Nor, as we have shown, does international law owe much to Greek culture or to Roman law. The first general tinge of humanity in the world?s relations, mercy to the wounded and helpless, the softening the rugged face of war, the binding different nations in a certain bond (feeble though it be) of brotherhood, the disposition to refer injuries to arbitration rather than violence these are the gesta Christi.?

 

But we must turn now to the second part of the prophetic program given in Eden the announcements of the penal consequences of sin.

 

Man having rebelled against the great and good Creator, in whose image he was made, and under whose law he was placed in paradise, the threatened penalty and the natural results of sin followed.

 

The announcement of these should be read not merely as a judicial sentence inflicting penalties, but much more as a sure and certain word of prophecy, foretelling what would be the natural and inevitable consequences of sin.

 

DEATH was predicted as the wages of sin: ?Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.? We need not pause here to inquire what Adam?s destiny and that of his race would have been if sin had not entered, nor to examine into the nature of that death which is the wages of sin. What we have to do is to observe how the prediction has been fulfilled how, notwithstanding the redemption promised, Adam and all his seed have experienced the truth of the prophetic announcement, ?Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.? How simple the words, but how awfully sad and solemn their fulfillment! The echo of that sentence uttered ages ago in Eden rolls back upon us in ever-multiplying funereal dirges from all lands and ages. Death, death, death, universal, all-devouring death! Enthroned king in paradise, death reigned from Adam to Moses, and has reigned ever since. Every biography ends like the patriarchal genealogies in Genesis v., with their ever-recurring strain, ?and he died.? Our globe is one great cemetery. Successive generations of men have passed away to the grave, as the successive crops of grass fall in turn beneath the mower?s scythe. ?We cannot hold mortality?s strong hand; men must endure their going hence e?en as their coming hither.? Two hundred generations of men have succeeded each other on earth since their Creator put into the hands of our first parents this program of the experiences of their race. What these generations averaged it would be impossible to say; the one now living is computed at 1, 400 millions. Average them at even a quarter of that number; then seventy thousand millions of times over has this prediction been accomplished! Each day sees it fulfilled afresh in more than eighty thousand cases, for such is the present daily death-rate of the world?s inhabitants.

 

With two interruptions only the raptures of Enoch and Elijah death held unbroken sway from the fall of the first Adam to the resurrection of the second. And though the resurrection of Christ has robbed death of its sting and the grave of its victory, yet even as to believers who already have eternal life in Him, ?the body is nevertheless still subject to death because of sin.? {#Ro 8:10} Christians are no exception to the universal law, ?it is appointed unto men once to die.? The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

 

Nor must we, in considering the fulfillment of this prediction, leave out of sight the universality of sickness and suffering, of disease and decay, that form no inconsiderable part of this curse of death. ?We that are in this body do groan being burdened, ? and each groan is an evidence of sin and death! From the cradle to the grave we carry in ourselves the seeds of death. Men are born dying as well as to die, and the sole hope of our race lies in the promise and prediction, that God will yet ?swallow up death in victory.?

 

A second point in this Eden prophecy was that while awaiting death, man should suffer from the curse of excessive labor. All labor is not a curse. Adam in Eden while still unfallen had his appointed task to dress the garden and to keep it, and for fallen man with all his evil propensities and incessant exposure to Satanic temptation, the necessity of labor is a mercy. Without it earth would speedily become a pandemonium. But still it was as a punishment for human sin that the ground was cursed, and it was foretold that the earth ceasing to yield spontaneously suitable human food would bring forth thorns and thistles, and would in order to make it productive demand human labor, amounting to painful incessant, wearisome toil. ?In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.?

 

To note the fulfillment of this prediction, we must not confine our attention to agricultural labor merely. Glance over the world again, look back over intervening centuries and abroad throughout all races of men! Has it not ever been so? Have not multitudes, yea, the masses of mankind, even now to endure weary, wasting toil, that they may live? Is not life to the great majority a hard battle for existence? We must not think of the few who form the exception, but of the many who fall under the rule. We must note how the races who refuse thus to toil (like the Red Indians, who prefer to live by the chase, or the Bushmen of the Kalihari, who depend on the natural produce of their country) die out by degrees and cease to be. We must note how even, with all their toil, millions of industrious Chinese, Hindus, and others are periodically carried off by famine. Millions of our fellow subjects in India do not know what it is to have more than one meal a day, and are rarely free from a painful feeling of hunger. We must consider the overwhelming labors imposed on millions more by slavery; the arduous, exhausting, and dangerous toil involved to still other millions in such operations as underground mining for coal and other minerals, navigating stormy seas as fishermen, or in pursuit of commerce. We must think of the life of drudgery and weariness led by multitudes of women and young children in factories of various kinds, of multitudes of poor sempstresses toiling all their lives for the barest subsistence; think of the thousands of men employed in the great cities of the world, as drivers of cabs, trains, omnibuses, and other public vehicles men whose hands must grasp the reins for twelve or fourteen and even sixteen hours a day, and that for seven days a week I And even if we rise above the classes condemned to the lowest forms of labor, oh, how full of toil is this our world! Rest and leisure for enjoyment are the rare exceptions, the stern, rarely relaxed rule is toil, labor in the sweat of the brow!

 

IF little labor little are our gains,

 

Man?s fortunes are according to his pains.?

 

So do men realize this, that multitudes die of over-work, over-wrought brains, or worn-out bodies. Some of this is doubtless self-inflicted and needless, but for all that, the curse of labor presses heavily on the race, and always has done so everywhere. There may be some lovely islet of the southern sea where no more of labor than is healthful and pleasant is needed to secure sustenance. But such spots are as much exceptions in the earth as men rich enough to afford idleness are exceptions in the race. It is a fact proved by carefully compiled statistics, that in the State of Massachusetts alone 72, 700 lives were lost in their prime, in the manufacturing towns, in the course of the five years, 18651871, the vast majority from excessive labor, which soon destroys women and young girls especially. What hundreds of thousands of such perish annually in England, and die premature deaths from the same cause! Is not this a heavy penalty? Does it not press painfully on the human family the world over to this day as predicted? Was not the foreview of human history given to Adam correct in this particular? Let the great mass of mankind straightening their weary backs and wiping the sweat from their brows with stiffened, aching hands reply.

 

But the heaviest burden of this Eden prophecy fell not on the man. It fell where the sin was greatest, on the first transgressor woman. Hers was a double guilt, for she not only yielded to temptation, but became in her turn a tempter. She fell not alone, but drew her husband down with her. The natural, inevitable consequences were foretold, and themselves constituted to a large extent woman?s peculiar curse, though there is superadded a Divine infliction of punishment. Given to be man?s helpmeet and companion, woman became first his tempter and then his slave; for man, in becoming a sinner, became of course selfish. Might took the place of right, and the weaker vessel, instead of being honored and cherished, was oppressed and degraded. ?Thy desire will be to thy husband, ? or, as it is better rendered, ?thou wilt be in subjection to thy husband, and he will rule (or tyrannise) over thee.?

 

Has this prediction been verified in the history of the sex? Alas! alas! almost too terribly for description. The shameless, brutal, cruel degradation of woman by the stronger sex has been perhaps one of the very darkest results of the fall, and one of the plainest proofs of the ruin which sin has wrought in the nature of man. Save where Divine revelation has shed its beams of healing light, woman is to this day a slave, or a captive, or a victim. The Indian loads his wife like a beast of burden, with all his goods and chattels, drives her before him with her infant on her back as he would drive a brute, and walking unburdened by her side, flogs her when her strength fails. The Bantu chief in Central Africa dies; straightway a dozen of his living wives are forced into the great square pit which is to be his grave, to make a couch for the corpse, and be buried alive to keep the dead man company. How often, when the Hindu husband has died, has the wife been burned on his funeral pile as a compliment to his memory! One hundred millions of women and young girls fellow-subjects of our ownare immured as prisoners to this day in the dark and loathsome zenanas of India, doomed to a wretched, cruel, dreary lifelong captivity, and to an ignorance which degrades them into mere talking animals; and this by the laws and customs invented and established by men. They may never eat with their own husbands, or share any of his pleasures or pursuits, never walk abroad for exercise, or travel for health, instruction, or amusement. They are simply slaves, lifelong prisoners, defrauded of the first right of a human being, and worse off than any negro in the West Indies in days gone by. Such is the portion of woman in heathendom, and it is not much better among the hundred and twenty millions of Mohammedans. Woman is denied her just rights by the degrading custom of polygamy, denied education and culture, denied even the possession of a soul! Even the Jews in their daily ritual thank God that He has not made them women, and do not permit wives and mothers to worship God with their husbands and sons in the synagogues, but assign to them a separate gallery. Everywhere and in all ages, savage or civilized, man black, white, red, yellow, or brown has tyrannized over and oppressed his weaker companion, degraded her into his servant, regarded her as property to be bought and sold, and imposing on her his share of the curse excessive toil in addition to her own of excessive suffering in child-bearing and fatigue in child-rearing, has inflicted on her, in wanton wickedness, multitudes of other sufferings, both physical and mental.

 

Christianity, as we have seen, makes men new creatures in Christ, and does away with all this; and even where it is a mere profession instead of a reality, it still makes men ashamed of this undisguised brutality and selfishness, so that some forms of the degradation and oppression of the weaker sex have disappeared in Christendom. But we must not think they have ceased to be because we see them not! By very far the largest part of the sex are still after six thousand years victims to these terrible sufferings, so awfully wide and long continued has been the fulfillment of this part of the Adamic program.

 

Even in professing Christian countries there exist still many cruel and oppressive laws and customs, indicating that the original Divine ideal of the equality of the sexes is not even yet, after eighteen hundred years of Christianity, fully recognized. Only a year ago were the abominable laws which sanctioned the vilest form of female slavery abolished, and the same personal liberty secured to women as to men. And these laws are still in full operation in India, in our colonies, and in most of the countries of Europe laws that condemn the young and feeble of one sex to assault and infamy, to degradation and imprisonment for the sake of securing to the other immunity from the natural penalties of vice It is only a year or two since the law of our land shielded tender, helpless female children from the worst form of brutal assault by men, and even now it gives no protection to girls after sixteen. Thus too wife-heating and wife-murder are lightly esteemed if men can plead intoxication as an excuse ; and the judges in cases of divorce may give the custody of children to a bad father, and refuse recognition to the mother?s rights, knowledge, it is safe to conclude that the whole is an inspired prediction.

 

As to the remaining portion of the prediction, the more direct infliction of penal suffering, ?in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, ? it is needless to dwell on its mournful worldwide and still-continued fulfillment. The sufferings of childbirth are the severest known. They are used throughout Scripture as a similitude for the extremest and most distressing pain and danger. The fact that in all lands and ages large numbers of mothers actually die in them, and the fact that this process is merely a climax preceded and followed by a vast variety of related sufferings, so that the greater part of every woman?s life is chequered at intervals by sickness and pain unknown to the other sex, leave no room to doubt the long-continued and universal realization in human experience of this part of the prediction.

 

It may of course be argued by unbelievers that phenomena so conspicuous as death and toil and female suffering could not but have been noted and pondered by Moses, and that their existence and universality in his day accounts for the ?legend, ? or ?myth, ? of the predictions in Genesis in. To this we reply that it is vain to contend that the second part of the Adamic foreview of the future may have had a natural origin in the days of Moses, when it is perfectly clear, as we have shown, that the first part cannot be similarly accounted for. If a portion of the prophecy evinces supernatural fore-knowledge, it is safe to conclude that the whole is an inspired prediction.

 

To conclude. This first section of the Divine program of the world?s history is, as befits its early and primitive character, fundamental and moral. It has no ethnographic nor political features; it does not distinguish between one part of the human race and another; it alludes to no special occurrences of history, gives no order of events, and no indications of chronology. Later predictions do all this, but not so the grand primitive Genesis outline. The general course of providence under the government of a righteous and holy but merciful God, the consequences of Satanic temptation and human sin, and the existence of a Divine plan for the ultimate destruction of moral evil and for the redemption of the fallen race by means of a suffering yet triumphant member of it these were the broad, fundamental, all-important particulars contained in it. It was not a detailed foreview of any one section, but a general program of the whole. It covered all lands and all ages, stretching in its geographical sweep to the uttermost ends of the earth, and in its chronological range from the days of Eden to a still future time. The experience of every single descendant of Adam has harmonized with it, and the great central event of all history the first advent of Christ has already to a large extent fulfilled its promise, and many infallible signs indicate its perfect accomplishment in days to come.

 

Nothing of a similar character can be found in all the range of literature; it arches over the guilty and suffering human race like the grand vault of heaven, simple, abiding, all-embracing, vast, unutterably lofty, and illuminated by a glorious central sun the promise of the Redeemer. Whence came it? Is this the manner of man?

 

Index Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Conclusion





About Me

Historicism.com is owned and operated by me, Joe Haynes, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I serve as a pastor in a church plant in Victoria since 2013. My wife, Heather, and I have five kids. In 2011, I completed a Master of Arts in Christian Studies from Northwest Baptist Seminary at the Associated Canadian Theological Seminaries of Trinity Western University. Feel free to visit my blog at Keruxai.com.
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