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THE RELATION OF THE INCARNATION TO THE
From the important central relation we have seen the Incarnation to sustain to our race, and especially to all Divine action on man, we are necessarily led to ask, Did it form a part of the original plan of the Creator, or is it to be regarded merely as a correctional appendage, having no integral connection with the nature ?
The latter is by some persons supposed to be the correct opinion, and sometimes it is so stated as to lead to the conclusion that it was necessary in order to rectify an unexpected failure. The reason for this opinion is that it would imply inconsistency in the Creator to bring a race into being with the certainty of their resisting His will, and so needing subjugation and recovery.
We do not adopt this view, and we do not see the force of the We can
difficulty it is supposed to remove. not expect to find a nature absolutely perfect, or, indeed, so nearly approaching perfection as to have from itself, in its initial stages, a necessary union with the Creator joined to spontaneous volition. We can conceive of such a nature, and are led to hope that such will be ours, in the state we attain after the probation and improvement of the present life. But the source whence we obtain this idea also teaches us that this is not attained by simple birth without probation, but by the most abundant participation in the suffering and toil of this world, in which the blessed ones have so shared the Redeemer's sorrow and shame as to have washed their robes in His sacrificial blood. • Therefore are they before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them' (Rev. vii. 15).
Such a moral and spiritual condition we can conceive of as the result of a Divine culture amid the difficulties and temptations of this life, and such a condition is a perfect proof of the wisdom and the efficacy of the means used by God to lead human infancy to
such maturity. But for this to be the original condition of any finite agents seems to us impossible, and therefore that it was not the Creator's purpose to bring such changeless beings into existence, the monotony of whose excellence could never fail; but rather a race of Divine infants, who, although possessing the power of rebellion, and consequently of degradation, yet had also ability for Divine intercourse and culture, which would fit them for any service the wisdom and love of their Father might appoint, and develop in them every trait of His glory in ever-increasing lustre.
If, from speculation as to what might have been, we ascend to the actual, we find that, measuring the range of our powers by our obligation, we have ability, by the full employment of them, to overtake our duty. But in the multifarious life of man on earth, is this likely to be done without some superhuman help? And as a creature under law for ever, how can man receive that help, when his sin has cut him off from God ? The law, of necessity, is to the level of the full power of the nature, or it could never be adequate to its education; consequently, to make it only equal to its earliest infancy would be to degrade the nature itself. As, therefore, the possibility of sin is involved in the essence of our nature, so there must be, in immediate connection with it, some means provided by which, after sin, a man may return to God; otherwise, the race would ultimately fail, or the operation of law would cease, which would involve a breaking up of the nature itself.
We can conceive of no moral condition fully adequate to the discharge of our duty to man, from which alone full social and national life can proceed, but an emotional union with the Creator. But it is evident that such a union is equal to the most severe and the most extended pressure duty springing from His appointment may require. And this not only appears adequate and necessary in theory, but also in fact; for not only now, but in all past time, those who have done their duty to man have avowedly done it by a Divine strength and by a Divine direction. Thus it appears that by the essence of our nature, and therefore as a primary intention of the Creator, a free and conscious fellowship with Him is a necessity to us. But, in the power of self-determination, which is not only our highest honour, but the faculty from which all our improvement comes, we have a natural tendency to assert our independence, and thus to break our union with our Creator.
We are disposed, therefore, to regard the probation of Adam as designed to teach him and his descendants the existence of this frailty; and to show that he could not exist without law, which is the will of the Creator for his benefit, and which, whether he sees its beneficial tendency or not, he is, because he is a creature, bound to obey; and further, to show that it would be unsafe for him to act as though he had skill and power in all cases to do right without reference to his Maker. The command was plain, simple, easy to be observed, and was not mixed up with the multitude of duties to others which fill the lives of his descendants; so that if man was sure to do right by consequence of right instruction, Adam could not have broken his one law. And if man could have become good without his own determination, so as to be a friend of his Maker, that one law would not have been given to test him.
It has been pleaded that his lack of experience laid him especially open to temptation, from unknown good and unknown evil. But