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of God one creature holds a place above another, it is because he is intrinsically superior, and therefore, in the fitness of things has a superior place. But it is plain that if angels are beings of growth, like man, man could never hope to attain supremacy over them. Says Addison, on the Immortality of the Soul :
“ There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion than this, of the perpetual progress which the soul makes toward the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at a period in it. That cherubim, which now appears as a God to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity, when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is ; nay when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection, as much as she now falls short of it. It is true the higher nature still advances, and by that means preserves his distance and superiority in the scale of being."
The main part of this clear and elegant statement is unquestionably truth; but if the closing sentence is, how can man ever attain supremacy over angels? The fact that man is destined to this supremacy shows that it can not be true. God made angels the same great, majestic, strong, beautiful, glorious beings they are now, and such, and no more, they will forever remain. They can learn new truths, can continue to learn new truths forever; but they have no increase in their essential capacity, strength and glory.
There is some reason to believe that the disembodied soul, in the interval between death and the resurrection, remains essentially in the same point of progress in which death found it. We have every reason to believe that the revelation of our passage respecting the future of redeemed man relates chiefly to the resurrection state. The resurrection is uniformly presented in the Scriptures, as essential to placing man in conditions wherein all the glorious possibilities of his nature may become actualities. But if this be so, then the soul, separate from the body, must be in conditions in which that advance cannot be. We speak here of its essential state. We do not doubt that death does something for the soul. It delivers it from its clogs of gross materialism and sense. It no doubt corrects many errors here cherished. The knowledge of the soul is then much enlarged, it is freed from temptation and sin, it enjoys the open vision of its God and Saviour, and its happiness is greatly increased. All this is unquestionably true. But notwithstanding this, through this period of its existence, its power of intellect and thought, its capacity for acquisition and of happiness, may remain essentially the same, as with angels.
No attentive reader of the Scriptures can fail to notice that they make a great deal of the resurrection as the consummation of human blessedness. At the same time, if we carefully examine their intimations respecting the state of the redeemed before and after the resurrection, we can scarcely find sufficient difference to account for the prominence given in the Scriptures to the resurrection. But if the view now taken be correct, the resurrection does bring an immeasurable glory to the redeemed, in the power and assurance it gives of that endless growth and advancement.
We have seen that the human nature is a growing nature, while the angelic is not. The question naturally arises, what is the great and essential difference between these two natures which should be a reason for so great a difference in the conditions of their respective existences? Is it not just this : The angelic nature is spiritual, while the human is spiritual and corporeal ?* The angelic nature is a purely spiritual nature, and must have been created just what it is. The seraph did not begin its being a helpless and ignorant babe, and grow up into its seraphic nature. It could not. Its spiritual nature does not admit of such growth. And as it derived its being from no creature of its own kind that preceded it, so it can impart existence to no creature of its kind to coëxist with, or to follow it. These elements do not, and can not enter into the conditions of its being. Every angelic being stands alone, forever, such as God made him. But these elements, which the angelic being lacks, seem to be essential to all progress and advance. And these are just the elements of human nature. Man is not corporeal merely, like the brutes, nor spiritual merely, like the angels. He combines the two, corporeal and spiritual, and that combination in him gives him the conditions of improvement and growth. Man begins existence an embryo, a helpless babe. So does the brute. And if man had no spiritual nature with his corporeal, he too would be a brute. His spiritual nature and his corporeal combined with it, in a union whose nature and effect are almost as profound a mystery as the union of the Trinity in the Godhead, enables him to grow into his destiny. But when death comes that union is sundered, and man remains till the resurrection, a purely spiritual existence; in so far, essentially an angel. If therefore between death and the resurrection the soul is in a condition of existence essentially angelic, why may we not with reason conclude that he is like the angel in this respect also, that his growth and progress in that period is not in any essential degree possible? At the resurrection, man, the pure spirit, resumes his corporeal element, and with it, under far more favorable circumstances than ever before, his onward progress to his high and glorious destiny.
*Ebrard, and also Olshausen maintain that angels have a partially corporeal, not a purely spiritual nature. Now on this point we can discern no light but in the revelations of the Scriptures, and we know of no foundation there for this assumption. Paul says explicitly that angels are spirits (Heb. i: 7, 14,), and that saints departed from the body are also spirits (Heb. xii: 23); and this would seem sufficient to leave the old belief of the church on this point undisturbed.
Here a further question may arise : What is there in the principle of corporeity and propagation by descent of race, which is essential to growth and progress? This is a natural question, but a question which we can not answer. We can only say, so far as we know, that in all the creation of God, there is no such thing as progress except on this condition. Nature affords many illustrations of this law. As an example, take the most brilliant specimen known, of the most magnificent gem which nature combined with art, can produce, the diamond. When in her profound laboratory, ages upon ages ago, nature formed that gem, she gave it every element of beauty and brilliancy which it has now. And though it may exist till the last conflagration, it will never gain one added element of beauty which it has not always had. Neither can any art of the lapidary add anything to it. All he can do is to bring out to greater advantage what before and always existed. The diamond did not spring from a seed of its own kind. It did not grow at all. It leaves no representative of itself, sprung from its own being. It stands alone, seemingly unapproachable in its imperial magnificence.
VOL. V.—No. xxv.
Now from this turn to the contemplation of a wild rose blossom. It grew upon a slender stalk, bearing a few small stinted leaves, struggling for existence among ragged rocks. How immeasurably below the gem! A single row of small, pale, inodorous petals, is all it can show. It can never hope to rival the diamond ! But be not too sure. An element of progress always affords the surest ground of hope. Transplant the wild thorny shrub from its rocky bed into a more genial soil. Propagate from it by seeds, and call to your aid scions of other and better species, and perseveringly cultivate, not it alone, but more especially its race. And what at length appears? The queen of the garden, the fragrant, the full flowered, the bright tinted, magnificent rose. Who shall say that in time roses will not grow rivalling in beauty the diamond itself? The gem represents the angelic, the flowering shrub the human nature; the gem represents the pure spirit whether human or angelic, the flowering shrub the corporeal and spiritual united.
We can not leave the proposition now under consideration, without giving brief utterance to another thought of interest which it suggests. Could the point now stated as highly probable be considered certain, viz., the impossibility of the separate disembodied soul making any essential advance while separate, it would afford an answer to a question which bereaved affection often presses, and presses in vain. For example, by parents bereaved of a young child, while yearning affection reaches forth in vain longings for a fond embrace, how often is the question started, 'When by divine grace we are permitted to go to that loved one gone before, how shall we find it? Shall we then find our lost one, or will celestial conductors introduce us to some angelic being far in advance, not only of what it was when it left us, but even far in advance of us? Will it be still a child, or will it have grown and changed to something else, we know not what, and can have no conception what ?' Our subject furnishes the only answer possible to such a question as this. We need only suggest it without spending time to state it in form. We have already answered the question.
Our subject suggests a sufficient reason why the angels are passed by in the manifestation of God's redeeming love.
May not one reason be, that sin has so perfectly entrenched itself in the very citadel of their being, so thoroughly permeated every element of their nature ? Again their sin may be peculiarly aggravated, so much so that justice can not yield to mercy for them. They are not only sinners themselves, but tempters and destroyers of others. May we not suppose, moreover, that their nature, admitting no progress, no growth, no improvement, contains nothing on which redemption may engraft itself? Such a nature, if formed perfect, holy, and beautiful, and it remain so, is something glorious to contemplate though it become no more perfect, holy, and beautiful. But if once sin possess it, and it fall from its perfection and its beauty of holiness, and still remain the same nature incapable of progress or improvement, how can it possibly be redeemed ? Concentrate a strong heat upon the diamond, and soon the brilliant gem becomes the black coal from the pit. Its form and glory have forever departed. By no skill or art is its restoration possible. But break the rose from its stem, and still a new . stem and a new rose springs out. Beat down the branch, still. the root throws up another. Or even if wholly destroyed a seed may remain from which another may grow. The principle of growth, of progress which belongs to the race, may work its redemption, though it may seem to be destroyed. It has a redeemable nature. And so while the fallen angel wholly lacks a redeemable nature, fallen man has it. His progressive, improvable nature gives place and scope for the redemptive work of divine grace.
LIVING DOGS AND DEAD LIONS :
THEIR RELATIVE VALUE. BY THE REV. WILLIAM BARROWS, READING, MA8B. If the two animals in question are alive there is no question for us, and so no essay for our readers. For the common judgment, at least up to the days of Anderson and Livingstone,