Bainbridge, N. Y., Jan. 3, 1881.
DEAR BROTHER: – As I have never asked your views upon any portion of scriptures, will you please indulge me this once and give your views on Genesis iii. 22-24, particularly the twenty-second verse, and oblige one that would know nothing save the truth as it is in Jesus. It has been on my mind much, and I have no light on the subject. I hope you are enjoying a happy New Year, and may it be the Lord’s will to spare you and to sustain you in building the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, is the prayer of your unworthy brother,
REPLY. – We cannot in truth say that we have no views on the subject presented in the text on which our brother desires us to write, but whether the publication of our views will prove edifying to our readers, or be considered speculative and unprofitable, we cannot tell. We do not feel satisfied that we have a right to withhold such views as we have when called upon by brethren to express them. We do not exact or desire any to indorse or receive our views any further than they shall find them sustained by, and in perfect harmony with the inspired scriptures of divine truth. We are deeply sensible of our liability to err, and therefore desire that our readers may closely, calmly, and honestly scrutinize whenever we publish as our views, and always bear in mind that all spiritual instruction must come from him who teaches as never man taught, the text reads thus:
“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
“And the Lord God said.” With sacred reverence and godly fear it becomes us to accept the words which come to us from the mouth of the Lord God, and the utterance of whose voice the heavens and earth, with all created things sprang into being. With profound silence and submission, it becomes us to bid every doubt of its truth depart. All that is contained in the sacred scriptures demands our most prayerful consideration, and it is infidelity to dispute what God has spoken to the fathers by the prophets, or to us in these last days, by his Son. But when any portion of the secret testimony is thus presented, it seems to call for more than ordinary consideration. Were it not a matter of the most vital importance to us, we cannot think we would be reminded that the words proceeded immediately from the mouth of the Lord God. The most sacred names which God has appropriated to himself, are applicable to none but himself. He is the Lord, having unbounded dominion over all things in heaven and earth, holding the destiny of all beings, all events and all worlds in his mighty grasp, and as God, the supreme Offer of our being, a poll durable things, preserve are of our lives, and giver of every perfect gift, possessing in himself all the infinite perfections or attributes of his most holy being, and he is the only object of worship, adoration or unlimited trust and confidence.
With this expressive and doubt-silencing introduction, “And the Lord God said,” his words are recorded, “Behold.” The Lord God commands those to whom the mandate comes, to behold! To know well, daily consider, wonder, admire, be astonished of the way the import of a wonderful event, in which man is humbled, and expelled from the Eden in which he dwell, in debarred forever from all human ability to put forth his hand and take and eat of the tree of life. Cherubim and a flaming sword meet all the vain efforts of sinful man at every point. The same unchangeable God whose potent words cold all things into existence, now letters thee are evil above sentence, which drives apostate man from Eden; forbids that he shall have power in himself, by willing or doing, to extend his hand to help himself to the tree of life, or to do anything whereby he can gain admittance to the tree of life, or to its virtue to secure to himself everlasting life. The awful reality of the utter inability of man to secure to himself a blessed state of immortality by anything that he can do, we think is clearly taught in the personal experience of every heaven-born subject of the saving grace of God. When first arrested by divine power and dragged forth, like Adam, from our hiding among the trees of the garden, and stripped of our fig leaf covering in which we had vainly sought to hide Howard nakedness in shame from the searchings eye of God, how persistently did we try to find some way of access to the tree of life, but in every attempt were met by the angel of the divine presence in his holy law, and the flaming sword, repelling in keeping this back, and two we were thoroughly convinced of the wretchedness of our helpless and hopeless condition. The cherubim and flaming sword still keeps the way of the tree of life; man’s hand and arm are still impotent, and nothing short of the almighty arm of God, made bare for our salvation, can meet the flaming sword, or can minister to any of the sons of men the right to the tree of life. And notwithstanding all the boasted power of free agency, free will, and human ability claimed by the infatuated children of men, none but the Savior of the poor lost sinners can unbar the gates of death, and bring life and immortality to light through the gospel. But still to a greater wonder opens to our sight, while we obey the voice of God, “Behold.” In deep amazement we inquire, How, or in what sense is the transgression and expulsion of Adam, like one of the “us,” in the knowledge of good and evil?
In order to an understanding of this mystery, it is necessary to inquire after the meaning of the plural personal pronoun us. We are forbidden to believe there is a plurality of God’s. “Here, O Israel. The Lord our God is one Lord.” – Deut. vi. 4; Mark xii. 29. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Tim. ii. 5. “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” – Gal. iii. 20. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” – 1 John v. 7. “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is God.” – Isa. xliv. 6. “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is God besides me.” “For the saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited; I am the Lord, and there is none else.” “And there is God else beside me; a just God and Savior; there is none beside me.” “For I am God and there is none else.” “I am God and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.” – Isa. xiv. 5, 6, 18, 21, 22, and Isa xlvi. 9. The scriptures, we believed, fully establish the often repeated declaration of God himself that there is but one God, that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, are but the one only living in true God. Yet the plural form of the pronoun US is used in giving us an account of the creation of the heavens and the earth; not to express or implied that there was more than one God, but in the beginning, when God created the heavens and earth and all that in them is, the Word which was with God, and which was God, was, in his Mediatorial Sonship, with God in all that was made for executed, for he is, not only in his eternal Godhead, but also as the Son of God, identified, and identical with the Father, for he is before all things, and by him all things consist. He is both God and the begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth. He is both God, and with God. – John i. 1-2. This “Only begotten Son of God” is the same that in the beginning was with God, and was God, and was, in the fullness of time, sent into the world, made flesh, made of a woman, made under the law, “made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death,” who was delivered for our offenses and raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and for ever lives to make intercession for his redeemed people. He is God, and the most full in unlimited sense of the word, and as such is declared by the Father, for, “unto this Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” – Psa. xiv. 6-7; Heb. i. 8. But not another God distinct from the Father; four, as we have seen, God himself declares, There is no other God. The Father is in him, and he is in the Father, and he in the Father are one. He that hath seen the Son, in his divine fullness hath seen the Father also. Truly hath the inspired apostle written, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, scene of angels, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” – 1 Tim. iii. 16. It was not one distinct equal third part of God, that was manifested in the flesh, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” – Col. ii. 9. God is not divided. The Father, and the Holy Ghost and all the fullness of eternal perfection dwells in him. As the only begotten Son of God, he is not only one and identical in the Godhead with the Father that he is also one with his body the church. “The head of the church is Christ.” Without this head, the church as the body of Christ could not exist, as nobody can live in the absence of its head. “And the head of Christ is God.” – 1 Cor. xi.3. So Christ, if it were possible to separate him from his supreme Godhead, would cease to be a Savior, for he has said to the Jews, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also do with the Son likewise.” – John v. 19.
Now, that Christ is the only begotten Son, and Mediatorial head of the church, was in the beginning with God is, as we think, fully proved by the direct testimony of the scriptures. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature; for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by all things consist: and he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” – Col. i. 15-19. In perfect consonance with this direct testimony are the words, Heb. i. 1-8, “God, who at sundry times and diverse manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world’s; who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which is the angel said he had any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me the Son? And again, when he bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he said, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers of flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” Here, let us observe, both the eternal Godhead of Christ, and his Mediatorial subservance to the will of the Father, are clearly set forth; as God his throne stands forever and ever, while as the Son, he learned obedience to the will of the Father. Now, both as God, and as the Mediatorial head of the body, the church, he is manifestly both the Word that was with God, and the Word that was God. And this, to our mind, explains the use of the words, Let us make man. We are informed, Gen. i. 1., that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and in Heb. i. 2, that God made the world’s by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, and in John i. 1-3, that all things that was made, or made by him, whose name is called “The Word of God.” – Rev. xx. 13. By the Word, which in the beginning was with God, and which was God. In whom was that Life which was and is the true Light of men. Here then, we infer, is the ground on which the plural form of the pronoun us is used. God made the world’s by his Son, who in the beginning was the embodiment of the Life and Light of all those who were chosen and blessed in him before the foundation of the world.
Now, to return to the inquiry of Brother Bundy, “Behold the man (the earthy Adam) has become as one of us.” Not in purity, Infiniti or in glory, for he had sinned, and death had passed upon him and all his undeveloped posterity, but in the one particular named, “to know good and evil.” He had eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In this “Adam was the figure of him that was to come,” and his following his bride in the transgression, prefigured, foreshadowed and typify the mediatorial work of him by whom and for whom all things were made, who is before all things, and by whom all things consist. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we take to be emblematic of the law which Adam transgressed; that law was holy, just and good, and by it also is the knowledge of sin, or evil. By eating the fruit of the law, in knowledge of the purity of God is given, and also of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. While man continued in innocence he knew not the terrors of the law, but when the woman was beguiled and deceived and in the transgression, she could not return to the state which Adam was in, and from which she had fallen, and, the woman which God had given to be with him, must’ve been forever separated from him, and the purpose of God and that gift thwarted, if Adam, who was not deceived, had not followed, and from her hand received the fruit of the tree. Admitting Adam to be the figure of Christ, and eve of the church, which is the body, flesh and bone, of Christ, figuratively speaking, the man in following the woman, taking her transgression on himself, was, if we rightly understand the figure, like, or emblematic of the Son of God, the Mediator and Savior of his people, coming under the law to redeem them that were under the law. Cheeses was not deceived, nor was it by accident that he was made sin for us who knew no sin, and became the sin bearing sacrifice, in the redemption of the church, who, after the similitude of Adam, could say as Adam said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” – Gen. iii. 12. Thus, if we write the understand the figure, Adam in receiving the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil at the hand of his wife, completed the similitude, and he became the perfected figure of him that was to come, and so like one of the us, named in the text.
Adam could prefigure Christ thus far, in coming under the law and assuming all its penalty, but he to go no further; here the figure inns, for Adam could not redeem, wash, purify or cleanse himself or bride from the guilt and pollution of sin. And now the interdiction is irrevocably announced, “And now, lest he (man) put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man, and the place to the east of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
Here is already set forth the total inability of mankind to put forth their hand to take of the tree of life, or to evade the fearful consequence of sin. Adam is the figure of him that was to come, not only in coming under the law, and in learning its penalty, but in his progenitive headship, as the embodiment of all his earthly posterity, he was figurative of the second Adam, who is the Lord from heaven, as the life and righteousness of all his spiritual seed which were chosen in him before the foundation of the world; but of this we will not now write. Made a God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, and enlighten the eyes of our understanding that we may know what is the whole of his calling and what the riches of the Glory of his inheritance in the saints, and may he preserve us from error, for his name’s sake.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 4.
February 15, 1881