Alexander Campbell.

The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

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cause — an instance of reasoning in a circle, that the merest tyro in
logic can not fail to perceive. Since, therefore, life must evermore
be sustained by direct supplies from the eternal and original fountain
in God, we prefer the view, which regards "the tree of life" as a
sacramental medium, through the eating of which, just as in tho
symbols of the Lord's Supper, our first parents were furnished with
supplies of life, directly by God, from whom originally we came, and
in whom alone, perpetually, we live and move and have our being.

But whether naturally or sacramentally, the tree of life was
designed to maintain in man the power of an endless life. It was
placed in the midst of Paradise, and the freest access to it, and par-
ticipation of its life-giving fruit, were granted to the happy occupants
of the Garden of delights. There was no interruption of this high
privilege so long as they continued to observe the only condition upoji
which it was suspended. Access to it was life. Separation from it
was death. The awful hour of disobedience was the hour of this


separation, and so through disobedience death came. The forbidden
fruit was plucked; the test of fealty was broken, and practical infidel-
ity becomes the sin for which banishment and death are Inflicted
upon the first transgressors.

But though man is excluded from the garden, and the tree of life
Is carefully and powerfully guarded against his approach, by the
symbolic cherubim, yet he does not leave his native and happy home
without fond remembrances of its immortal fruit, and the divinely
implanted hope of an ultimate return to its forfeited blessings. The
way is guarded, but the tree still remains. Its fruit is still the sac-
ramental medium of immortal life; and the longing of the soul for
its life-giving power is the earnest of its future enjoyment. And so
the hope of immortality springs up in the human soul from the inher-
ited memory of the tree of life, which, like a divine intimation,
descends to us with the experience of the fall, to soften its hardships,
and lift us from the tyranny and hopelessness of despair, up to the
anticipation of a blessed return to eternal life.

With the sentence of death resting upon him, and the conscious-
ness of corruption and decay already working in him, and in the
absence of a positive promise of a future return to the tree of life,
Adam would have despaired. He would have seen in his approaching
death the extinguishment, to him, of all being. The idea of immor-
tality would indeed have remained, a relic from the wreck of Para-
dise; — but the hope of it must rest upon a ground of faith, and this
faith upon the foundation of a divine promise. Without such a prom-
ise, man might indeed dream over the thought of an immortal, bliss-
ful future, and indulge his soul in happy pictures of an imaginary
paradise to come, but the sad misgivings of his calmer moments of
reason, would dash from his lips the pleasing chalice, and leave him
with the consciousness of the stern reality, that he is, apart from the
divine promise, "without hope and without God in the world."

The question whether the unaided reason can arrive at, or demon-
strate, the idea of immortality, is clearly one for which there is left
no necessity in the field of investigation, because it is unquestionably
one of tradition. What could be more indelibly impressed upon the
mind of Adam, than this great idea? It was this that led him, ever-
more, to eat of the fruit of the tree of life. It was this that the tree
of life symbolized and sacramentally communicated; and it was from
this that he was cut off because of transgression, and by his banish-
ment from Eden. And would he not tell of it — talk about it to Seth,
and Enos, and Calnan, and Mahalalef-l, and Jared, and Enoch, and
Methusaleh, with whom he was cotemporary for 243 years? And
would not Methuselah tell it to Noah, with whom he was cotempo-
rary for 600 years? And would not Noah tell it to Shem. and Bhem


10 Abraham, with whom he was cotemporary 150 years? And from
Abraham could it fail to come fresh and unquestioned to Joseph,
through Isaac and Jacob, and from Joseph to Amram, and from
Amram to Moses — the immortal historian of this divine tradition?
It is idle, therefore, tO' assume that the idea of immortality is to be
derived through reasoning, when we have so clear and satisfactory
a traditional origin for it, in the direct knowledge of Adam while
in the Garden of Eden.

The tree of life, therefore, we must regard as the sacramental
symbol of immortality, and this "pleasing hope, this fond desire, this
longing after immortality," as the original instinct of our first parents,
which led them to the tree of life for the replenishment of their
wasting power, and which still turns the hearts of all their children
with fond anticipation to the time of a blessed restoration to its lifo-
giving fruit.

But, under the sentence of banishment from this medium of life
becausie of sin, upon what ground can man expect to return to its
enjoyment, save that of acquittal or pardon? The cherubim guard the
way, and though the tree of life is still blooming in the sweet fields
of Eden, we can not of ourselves approach it. Condemned to die
through the power of Satan, we can only hope to live again through
the bruising of his head. Forbidden to eat because of unrighteous-
ness, we can only return to the privilege through righteousness. It
is in the promise of the seed of the woman, then, that this instinc-
tive desire for immortality becomes a well grounded hope, and though
death meets us this side of the cherubim-guarded portals and lays us
low, yet in the very jaws of the grave the death-Destroyer comes to
our aid with the promised deliverance, and carries us over to the
sunny banks of the river of the water of life, and to the tree whose
fruit is for the healing of the nations. w. K. p.


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Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 70 of 70)