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rather, I think, denotes a lower order of heavenly happiness. It is the state into which the soul enters on the day of its awaking from the sleep of death. It is the first class in which it enters upon being matriculated into the higher school of existence. It is the beginning of a change from glory to glory,—between each advancing grade there is a difference, as one star differeth from another star in glory; and the higher our Christian attainments on earth, the more abundant entrance will be ministered unto us into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Cor. iii. 1; 18 Cor. xv. 41; 2 Peter i. 11. However low the place occupied by the penitent thief, it was still within the range of heavenly happiness, and so a paradise.
In order to a full understanding of the imagery employed to represent even this lowest grade of heavenly happiness, we must look to the use of the word paradise in the Old Testament. Gesenius says: "This word seems to originate neither with the Greeks nor with the Hebrews, but in the languages of Eastern Asia. In Sancrit paradisha means a land elevated and cultivated, a garden or park around the house, planted for use and ornament." Paradise is the word in the Septuagint used to translate "garden," in the passage "And God planted a paradise eastward in Eden." Gen. ii. 8. "God planted it" to indicate a state of happiness from communion with himself, or of which he was the centre and the substance. Animal natures, in their highest state of delectation, could not enjoy it, but only beings spiritual like God, or capable of spiritual communion with him, and thus of "worshipping in spirit and in truth." The planting, fountains, rivers, gold and precious stones of this primeval paradise, all indeed entering into it as a material scene, derived its sole significance from reflecting the spiritual glories radiating from the divine throne.
Without the intercourse of mind with mind, heart responding to heart in delectable consociation, no' such Eden as Moses describes could have been combined out of the elements of material nature. Eden, in Hebrew, means delight, pleasure, such as only spiritual beings are capable of, and in the absence of this, it could no more be reflected by a beautiful garden than sunlight can be reflected without the sun. Hence, though Moses' use of the term paradise seems more material than that of the New Testament, it really amounts to the same thing,—a state of spiritual beatification. This was the golden age, which kings have vainly striven to reproduce at their sumptuous seats of dominion, contenting themselves with the effigy, without the spirit of divine holiness and love to give it life. And this, I am sorry to say, is *he paradise which a certain class of sensuous Christians look forward to as the consummation of Christ's work upon earth. Christ is to establish himself on the literal throne of David, at Jerusalem; converted Jews are to be his viceroys to rule the nations; the saints are to come out of their graves with material bodies; the earth, by their industry and skill, is to be restored to "more than Eden's first bloom "; and thus redemption consists in working up these material elements into the ultimate heaven of man. These views prevail extensively in England and on the Continent, as I have seen by personal observation. And there is a zealous class of persons in our own country, who are working them into a form of seduction for imaginative minds, to deceive the hearts of the simple.
There is one class who are proof against such paradiaical teaching; they are those in whose hearts Christ consciously dwells by faith; who have an inward experience of the peace of God which passeth all understanding; and who, being rooted and grounded in love, are able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and heighth, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, being filled with all the fulness of God. Eph. iii. 17-19; Phil. iv. 7. Such a sense of an indwelling Saviour, of heavenly peace, and of the fulness of God—a paradise of love—is an effectual antidote against dreams of a material Eden, whether in retrospection or in anticipation. Those who have it know that Christ means, as he says, that Gerizim and Jerusalem symbols can never re-appear; for the happiness of his followers would not be in trees, rivers, and precious stones to make a literal paradise, but would be like their worship, in spirit and in truth. The father had ever sought such worship and such beatification, but had not found them in a ritual, Heb. viii. 8., and therefore insured them by a new dispensation of spiritual power. John iv. 23, 24. To reverse the order, therefore, and to look for the millenium in the restoration of the Jews, the re-establishment of David's throne, and a paradise of reconstructed material elements, is beginning in the spirit and ending in the flesh. Our Lord teaches that ritualism had had its day, and we are now to look for a worship spiritual like God, and also for a corresponding beatification.
We have said that paradise represents the happiness upon which the redeemed enter at death, and of course it is a lower order than that which is to be expected from progress, the law of Gods government. Still it is complete, as the term paradise which our Lord applies to it fully shows. The imagery suggested by that word to a Jewish and oriental imagination, included extraordinary elements of physical beauty and pleasure—cultivated shrubbery, golden fruits, delicious odors, sparkling fountains, warbling birds of various plumage, vocal melody—these were the things with which Solomon embellished his seat of dominion. Thus in Cant. iv. 13-15, his plantings are described as " a paradise of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire with spikenard and saffron; calamus, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices; a fountain of gardens and streams from Lebanon." "I made me gardens and paradises, and I planted in them trees of all fruits. I made me pools to water withal the wood that bringeth forth trees; I got me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, musical instruments of all sorts." Eccl. ii. 5-8. Such was the Jewish idea of a paradise. And Solomon found it "all vanity and vexation of spirit," apart from a disposition to "face God and keep his commandments, which is the whole of man," that is, his whole happiness as well as duty. Eccl. xii. 13. Tbe idea is that without a right state of the affections, an earthly paradise cannot make us happy.
The royal preserves of the Persian monarchs are called "the king's paradise," or " forest," as we have it in our translation. Neh. ii. 8. They were in the care of Asaph, a minister of state, like our Secretary of the Interior, who lavished upon them the wealth and artistic skill of the realm. Here the court enacted its scenes of voluptuous pleasure; here the king had his hunting grounds; here roamed the fleetest and stateliest denizens of the forest; here the Bheen of glassy pond and lake reflected the overhanging forests; here the breezes revelled in their stolen sweets; here the sunbeams danced amid waving leaves, and flowers reflecting all the hues of light; here apes and peacocks from India, birds from the tropics, swans and eiderducks from the frozen north, and the many-voiced tribes that walk the earth, float on the deep or sail in air, add beauty, add motion, add life and joyousness to the scene. If such is the imagery by which our Lord set forth the state upon which the penitent thief would that day enter, what must that state itself be as to the perfection of its happiness?
Whenever the word Eden or paradise occurs in Scripture, it makes delight visible and beauty vocal. "Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thine edens," or pleasures. Prov. xxxvi. 8. "God will make his wilderness like Eden," fertile and beautiful. Isa. Ii. 3. "Trees in the garden of God, the choicest and best of Lebanon," that is, most luxuriant and lovely. Ezek. xxxi. 9. Quotations like this might be multiplied, showing the wealth of imagery centering in this word paradise which our Lord used to
encourage the hope of the thief upon the cross. It is the imagery by which Moses describes the primeval happiness of man, and which John uses to set forth the final distinction of the saints in New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. Both had the tree of life; both the river to water the city of God; both the gold and precious stones; and thus the divine revelation, however diversified the scenes through which it conducts in the intervening ages, begins and ends with the paradise of God.
The words of our Lord are full of indicated truths. 1. God is the all of our happiness in the body or out of it.
His presence makes a heaven most sweet;
"With me in paradise," indicates a happiness unlike that of any earthly paradise, spiritual and heavenly, united to a disembodied spirit, and arising from the conscious presence and favor of God. "In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forever," are words setting forth this particular form of delight, which no imagery can represent. It is not the outward beauty of a home that makes it so delightful to children, but the presence of their parents, brothers and sisters, or that subtile thing which we call affection. It is affection, it is love that makes heaven, and where that flows in upon us from being with Christ, it leaves nothing to be desired. "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise," addressed to the faith of this malefactor, was the sweetest possible method of cancelling his fears and reviving his hopes. What more can any one need in dying, than to be assured of a social life and a happier condition than he can hope for on earth, and that it shall begin with him on the very day of his death?
2. Revelation has nothing to fear from science. If science were to establish the fact that man had an animal origin, and animals a vegetable origin, and vegetables a mineral origin, and that it took millions of ages to perfect this process of raising a clod of earth into a living soul, it would not invalidate the inspired record of the race as moral and immortal, capable of sin and redemption. It is with the point at which man became such, that the moral government began, and not with his formation from dust. I say this, not because I accept the development theory, but to express what my Master expressed in talking with the thief, that the thou and me refer to a personality independent of the body or material natures. "Thou shalt be with me." Both the thou and me referred to, were disembodied spirits before the sun went down that night; and nothing, therefore, could have been in paradise but the personality of Christ and the thief, which did not come from dust, but was inbreathed from God. Moses is very specific on this point in recording man's origin, stating of him a fact not applicable to any of the animal tribes. "And God breathed into him the breath of life and he became a living soul." Gen. ii. 7. This soul was put into a casement made from dust, that it might act through it upon the material world; might see through fleshly eyes, hear through fleshly ears, and act through bodily organs. This fleshly part is alone within the province of science, and it is at full liberty to trace all its elements to the same source from which beasts derive their origin.
Suppose it were demonstrated, therefore, that man was originally a tadpole, and the tadpole was originally a vegetable, and the vegetable a mineral, and the mineral a nebulae universally diffused, but between the particles of which there were magnetic affinities to set them in motion and agglomerate them into spheres, what then? Does this process end in proving that matter and magnetism are selfproduced? If not, there lies above and beyond the utmost reach of experimental philosophy ample space for the existence of mind and moral forces. Mind, infinite and eternal, may have originated this whole material system, established its relations and laws, and may have given impulse to its endless cycles, and that too, by causes that no chemistry can detect, no induction eliminate. Can science disprove the existence of that which it cannot know?
Precisely here where science ends, revelation begins. It does not say how God made the world, except that he made it by his word or fiat; nor does it say how he made man, but only after forming him from the ground, he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul. It does not inform us whether the process was long or short between dust and manhood, but only that it ultimated in a living soul, emanating directly from God, as animal life never does, by a special divine inbreathing, imparting to it the likeness of God, with moral faculties, powers of life independent of matter, a soul capable of entering, at a death by crucifixion or otherwise, upon a state of beatification, of which an earthly paradise, with all its delights, is but a faint and feeble reflection. This is all we say, that there is a spiritual universe, with life and thought and action and happiness independent of thought and matter; and in saying it we are fearless of scientific investigation. Newton, Leibintz, De Cartes, and those who have gone deepest into science, were on these premises earnest believers in divine revelation. Only the tyros dare vaunt their strength against Omnipotence.