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A Suffering World.

A Suffering World.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE

BY REV. DANIEL MOORE, M.A.


" For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travailetb in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." —Romaus viii. 22, 23.

BY REV. DANIEL MOORE, M.A.


" For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travailetb in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." —Romaus viii. 22, 23.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 12, 2014
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A SUFFERIG WORLD. BY REV. DAIEL MOORE, M.A. " For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travailetb in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." —Romaus viii. 22, 23. That the world we live in has, from some cause or other, become grievously disordered, that its various moral organizations have sustained some material shock or injury, is in nothing more apparent than in the efforts which we seem to be always making to set this ill-going machine to rights. Legislation is never standing still; the philanthropist never finds his occupation gone ; every- body talks about the great cause of amelioration, and reform, and social pro- gress ; as if Bo question could be raised whether the institutions of society did not require a good deal of mending, or whether some great change were not called for in the general habits and sentiments of mankind. All this is taken for granted. The world ought to be, and may be made, a great deal better than it is : how this amendment is to be accomplished, whether religion is to do it, or the diffusion of knowledge is to do it, or more intercommunion between the different nations of the earth is to do it, men may not be agreed. The noticeable thing that must occur to a man who desires to estimate things reli- giously, who tries to take a large outlook on God's settled ways, and man's uncertain enterprizes, is the attitude of universal expectancy which the world is taking just now — the crisis of fancied perfectibility to which it i» supposed all human institutions are tending, everybody clinging to the hope of some on-coming millennium, when all our moral disorders shall be rectified, and the great wheel of human destinies shall err in its course no more. This feeling, however, of anticipating some great and beneficent future, although it may have taken in our day more active and restless forms, is evidently only the o. 2,732. 3 R A SUFFERIG WORLD. expression of one of our earnest and most universal instincts. It is not con- nected with any particular theology, nor even with any theories of social or political science. It is a natural aspiration of man's soul towards some un- attained and undefined excellence — the soaring of his spirit to some loftier and purer region ; the mind essaying to put forth its ancient strength, as if, like Samson, it wist not that the Lord was departed from it. It is, in fact, what the apostle describes, two verses before our text, an earnest expectation of the creature ; the reaching forward of the untaught human intelligence,
 
after what it knows not, only, that it is sure to be something which will be a mighty advance upon our present condition ; opening up, it may be, new and exalted relations to the Great Parent of the universe, and issuing in the final manifestation of the sons of God. And the whole of that portion of Scripture from which our text is taken, is an appeal to this universal expecta- tion of mankind, and shows for what end such a sentiment was planted in man's bosom. Man is not satisfied either with himself or with his condition; God never intended that he should be. And all that craving after Utopian perfectness — the new heavens and the new earth of the social philosopher, has its spring in something deeper than in any desire for earthly reforms; testifying, as it does, to the greatness of an awaiting immortality, as well as to the great- ness of the soul's departure from happiness and from God. " For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." There are three points, brethren, to which our attention seems to be called in these words. First, that the whole world is suffering from the effects of Adam's transgression ; Secondly, that there is nothing in the condition of be- lievers to exempt them from their proper share in these sufferings ; Thirdly, that though the Christian must participate in the common lot and trials of all men, he has what others have not, a pledge of final and complete deliverance. I. The text first reminds us that the whole world is suffering on account of sin. " For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." In the margin, you observe, for " whole creation," there is suggested the equally lawful rendering, "every creature;" and the insertion of the word " they" in the clause " and not only they" would indicate the purpose in our translators to restrict the groaning spoken of to responsible and intelligent agents only. But it seems better to give the apostle's words their widest scope ; to suppose that his heaven-taught mind is expatiating over the vast outspread of living or moving things, and that he sees the entire creation of God in labour and distress; heaving agitated, restless, proclaiming throughout all its borders, that some great woe had fallen upon it, and yet travailing in pain for a deliverance soon to come. We know how common it is with the sacred writers io assume this sympathy of the material creation, with all that relates to the actings of God ; how the visible heavens arc chal- lenged to become umpires in tlie Lord's controversy ; how to shame thankless man into gratitude, the valleys are made to sing, and the little hills to rejoice 562 & SUFFERIG WORLD. on every side ; how, at the announcement of the Messiah's day, the mountains
 
are heard to break fortli into singing, and all the trees of the field to clap their hands. And we should all feel that there was great propriety in the allusion if nothing more than a bold personification were here intended ; and that when the apostle said, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," he meant no more than that the harsher aspects of material nature, the tempest and the earthquake, the volcano and the blight, were all so many risible types of a world in suffering, because of a world in sin. But are we sure that he did not mean more than this? May not the physical creation be itself a sufierer in consequence of man's sin ? That is, may not the elements have become subject to new conditions and liabilities, just that they might be put in harmony with a suffering and fallen world; and even be themselves the occa- sion of suffering to its guilty inhabitants ? Such an inference seems deducible from the terms of the primal curse, which plainly assumed that over the vegetable kingdom, at all events, a great change was to pass, in consequence of the fall; and a change, too, exactly answering to the apostle's description of groaning and travailing in pain. " And unto Adam he said, cursed be 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 in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." Here is a plain intimation that, owing to the sin of Adam, there were to be certain properties in the soil which it did not possess before; that, instead of bringing forth fruH abundantly of itself, it would yield no fruit at all, but at the price of toil and weariness : that, for beauty, man should henceforth look on barrenness, and that where he once beheld the myrtle-tree he should see only the briar and the thorn. ow, the principle once admitted, that the curse of the transgression was really vested on the material parts of creation, no one can say how far the influence of it extended. It may be, that if there had been no sin, tints of a more delicate hue would have enriched the landscape, and scents of a more balmy fragrance would have filled the air; that the light of the moon should have been as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun should have been sevenfold. But, even, if this had not been, who can believe that this fair and beautiful world, pronounced of its Maker as very good, came forth from his hand with all those rugged and forbidding features that we now behold? The arid desert, the frowning solitudes, the summits of unapproached and eternal snow, the meteor dealing death in its flash, the hurricane in its wildness sweep- ing human habitations away. Do we not see in all this signs of nature in great affliction, proclaiming to man how she suffers and sympathizes with his ruin ; testifying that the Lord hath smitten the earth with a curse, and that " the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now ?" But there is, of course, in this language of the apostle, an allusion to the groanings of the moral creation, to that agony, and oppression, and pain which have come upon the spirits of all flesh; to that unchanging law of our being, which has decreed that man should be as surely born to trouble as that sparks go upward from the flame; that original curse of our being, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," what marks of its fulfilment do we

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