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The Conflict and Defeat in Eden

The Conflict and Defeat in Eden

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Published by glennpease
BY H. L. M ANSEL, B.D.


1 ST. JOHN iii. 8.

" He that committetli sin is of the devil ; for the devil sinneth
from the beginning,"
BY H. L. M ANSEL, B.D.


1 ST. JOHN iii. 8.

" He that committetli sin is of the devil ; for the devil sinneth
from the beginning,"

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 05, 2014
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THE COFLICT AD DEFEAT I EDEBY H. L. M ASEL, B.D. 1 ST. JOH iii. 8. " He that committetli sin is of the devil ; for the devil sinneth from the beginning," VERY simple, yet very sublime in their simplicity, are the words which commence the record of the creation of the visible world : " In the beginning- God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void ; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light : and there was light." Yet how much is the import of these words enhanced, even beyond the sub limity of their first and most obvious signification, when we come to elicit the deeper and more secret meaning which lies hidden under that pregnant sentence, " The earth was without form and void ;" and interpret it according to the meaning suggested by the only two other passages of Holy Scripture in which the same expressions occur. When Isaiah, foretelling the future destruction of the land of God s enemies, declares, (using in the original the very words of Genesis,) " He shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones (or rather, the plummet) of emptiness a ?" or when, still more closely, Jeremiah, foreseeing the approaching de solation of his own country, announces his vision in * Tsniah xxxiv. 1 1. C 2 2O TJie Conflict and Defeat in Eden. [SERM.
 
the words, " I beheld the earth, and lo, it was with out form and void b ," our thoughts naturally revert to the language which describes the chaos preceding the six days of creation ; and we learn to interpret this also as indicating the effect of destruction, not the condition of formation ; not as asserting, what in deed of itself it would be hard to believe, that con fusion and emptiness was the primitive state of the world under the first effort of its Maker s hand, still less as lapsing into the heathen dream of a chaotic matter, moulded and formed, but not created, by the Almighty Mind ; but as telling us, briefly and ob scurely, yet not the less certainly, of God s power to destroy as well as to create ; as pointing dimly and darkly to that whose details concern not us as a lesson of religion, and therefore have not been revealed to us, that interval, how long we know not and how oc cupied we know not, from " the Beginning," when finite existence first came into being and the successive mo ments of time first broke forth from the unchanging noiv of eternity, to the day when He who made all things very good, was pleased for His own good pur poses to bring destruction upon His own work ; and then once more to renew it as a habitation for the children of men. As it is with the natural, so it is with the moral world : the record of man s fall runs parallel with the record of his creation. The history of the six days work closes with the words, " And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good :" the history of the temptation begins, " ow the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." Whence came this evil subtlety into b Jeremiah iv. 23. See Tusey s Lectures on Daniel, Preface, p. xix. II.] The Conflict and Defeat in Eden. 21
 
a world which God had made very good, even, as we read, down to " every thing that creepeth upon the earth?" Here again there is a blank between a blank whose solemn silence is more eloquent than speech, pointing darkly and dimly to another mystery of de struction, to something which came not in the beginning from the hand of God, but which came nevertheless, we know not when, and we know not how. If we turn to other passages of Scripture, the mystery is not ex plained probably to our present faculties it could not be explained it is but thrust back to a yet earlier world, and to beings of a nature different from ours. We read of "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world," and of "his angels," who are " cast out with him c ;" we read, in the words of my text, that "the devil sinneth from the be ginning," and again, that " he was a murderer from the beginning d ;" yet, as if expressly to confine these words within the boundaries of finite time, to preclude the possibility of any Manichean fiction of an evil power coeternal with good, we read also of " the angels which kept not their first estate 6 ;" we are told that "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment f ." The mystery of iniquity becomes deeper yet, when we return to other scenes of the holy record, in which the powers of good and of evil are shewn in direct conflict with each other. The Son of God is manifested on earth, with a twofold purpose in relation to two different orders of beings, " that He might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life ? ." c Rev. xii. 9. d St. John viii. 44. e St. Jude, 6. f 2 St. Peter ii. 4. f Collect for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany.

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