From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 8),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 309-318
ADDRESSES AND SERMONS
The Right Reverend Charles C. Grafton, S.T.D., LL.D.
Bishop of Fond du Lac
transcribed by the Revd Donne E. Puckle, SSC
THE SECOND ADAM
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." - 1 Cor. xv. 22
The text gives us two points for our consideration: 1. Our death in Adam; 2. The new life in Christ.
I. Let us consider our death in Adam. We turn to the opening chapters of Genesis to learn of God's creation, and first revelation to man, and in our study here, let us be reverent and not critical. The hand of God seems like some fair river, rising from among the hills, winding along in its course, developing here and there into a calm, still lake, and then hiding itself and going on. The very source is bright in the morning sun, though enveloped in mist and cloud of mystery, but these very clouds are aflame with the glory and majesty of the rising sun, and at the end, in Revelation, there are still the clouds, for there is always mystery attending the Word of God, but their glory is like the clouds at sunset, beautiful by the setting sun. Let us take our shoes from off our feet, for the ground whereon we stand is holy.
Though this river comes and goes in mists, yet there are facts, which stand out clearly, reflecting the truth of God, as those quiet lakes reflect the sky above them. It matters not to the Christian what science may say, theology will not complain. It matter not how many millions of years there may have been in those early ages, or what contests there may have been on this earth before the existence of man, or what races may have existed before our own primogeniture; it matters not to the Christian. In the mist and glory of the first Creation of God, we see, not science, nor those things which as men we must learn, bu the things revealed for our moral and spiritual development and advancement. We see there man, created in the very Image of God, crowned with glory, and the gift of supernatural grace.
II. As we look at human nature, we can but mark certain differences between it and other natures, - angelic, for instance. Certainly, it seems an impertinence for us to think we crowned creation, or, in ourselves, exhausted the wisdom and power and ingenuity of the good God. No! We believe in those nine great orders, or tiers of Angelic beings leading sup step by step to God. But we make a great difference between them; and human nature. The Ever-Blessed Being of God created the Angels as an artist does some special work, on canvas, or in stone. He thinks of some fair form of beauty, and gives it expression in his work, and it was thus with the Angels, - Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Cherubim and Seraphim, Angels and Archangels, Thrones, Principalities, Dominations, Virtues, Powers - are manifestations of some special beauty, which had its existence in the Heart of God. They are distinctly before Him, each one by himself, but it was not so with man. He was intended to combine in himself, as it were, or to be, the uniting point between material and spiritual natures.
Human nature was created at once as an entity. God made it as one beautiful thing, and it stood in perfection before Him. He gave it the law of perfection and development, in order to manifest it in the law of His own Being, for His Own Life was in it. He gave it a work to do, to conquer the earth, and unite in itself the two natures, and He crowned it with supernatural grace, and all that followed or happened to Adam and Eve happened to human nature as a whole, and so, "in Adam all sinned and died."
III. But your ask me, "Was there not death in the world before Adam sinned?" Surely, long before. You who read the history of this little world as it is found in the record of geologists see death's traces before human nature was created. We learn of the long struggle and contest going on in the animal kingdom, the higher orders preying on the lower; everywhere we see the battling for life. Now, God for His own purposes, made this to be so. There was war on earth as well as in Heaven.
The story of those long ages, as we trace it back by the aid of science, is a great parable left for us to read on those stone registers. And one great truth God meant man to learn from it, i.e. that death must precede final life.
IV. How then do we say that "By Adam came death?" When Adam sinned, he died spiritually. We must remember that there are three kinds of death:
1. Physical death, the cessation of animal life, the separation of the soul from the body.
2. Spiritual death, the separation of the soul and spirit from God.
3. Eternal death, which comes to human nature, which was made for glory: when it misses its end, it sinks back into a state of eternal loss.
V. Now what was it that happened to Adam? We must consider what he did not do, as well as what he did do. he had been crated in the very Image of God, and had received this gift of supernatural grace. By his sin, he did not separate himself from the power of God.The whole subject of our creation and consequent union with God is a great mystery, but one thing is clear. Once created, the creature cannot separate itself from the Power of God, for, if he could do this, he would exist independently of God, and become, in fact, another God. It is impossible: we cannot do it by any means, - "In Him we live and move and have our being." He is "creation's secret force," and in every step and thought He is with us and in us. We can never break away from Him. "If I climb up into Heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into hell, Thou art there also." No sin, however great the shame and guilt, can separate us from the power of the Creator. We cannot annihilate ourselves, 'tis as great an act as to create. God alone can do it.
But there was one thing which Adam was able to do. By his disobedience, he could separate himself from God's favor, and the grace flowing from it. Man, made so glorious and beautiful, perfect and flooded with the wondrous gift of grace, but Adam separated himself from it by his sin.
VI. What does the supernatural grace do for Adam? We know what man has more than body and soul: he has a spiritual nature. In this spiritual nature rested the gift of grace, enabling him to see God, and know Him, to discern right from wrong, and by sin, Adam lost this gift, this grace.
Now God had made a special gift of immortality to man's spiritual and material being. There seems to have been some special protection afforded his body, and when by sin he lost grace, his soul became darkened, his will and conscience weakened, and his body had no longer that protection, but fell under the laws of chemistry - (which is nothing more than the expression of the Will of God) - the law of physical death. Thus we see that, in parting from the grace of God, the soul of Adam fell under the law of spiritual death, and even his body (under physical death) suffered temporal loss.
VII. We must understand the difference between temporal and eternal loss or punishment.
Temporal punishment is like that inflicted by the state for crime, or by a parent for disobedience, but there is no logical connection between the wrong doing, and the going to State's prison for it, or between the disobedience, and the parent's punishment.But there is a logical connection, which all can see, between the taking poison, or walking off a precipice, and the consequences, and this is like eternal or consequential punishment. These only illustrate God's work in our souls. Our temporal punishments He gives us in love, in order to win us back to Himself. His dealing with Adam is still another parable for us. He thus inflicted temporal punishment upon him, for He took His child out of the Garden of Eden to teach him how his sin had separated his soul from God, and He caused his body to come under the law of physical death to teach him the state of his soul when separated from God. The temporal was to teach him of his spiritual state or loss.
Of course, the creature could not, by his own self, get back to God or restore the relations previously existing between himself and his Creator: it had been a gift of God originally, and God must give it back again. Adam stood there with death in his soul and body, and must finally come under the condition of eternal loss or death, unless his condition should be relieved. Physical death was to teach him this truth, but the grace by which he was to win eternal life was gone.
God, in His dear love, may punish us with death, or take away His grace from us, but it is to show us our sin, and here let us remember the power Adam had given him to do something, a terrible power. He had the power of choice, and if he would, he could choose his own eternal loss.
God, though omnipotent, yet cannot sin, nor can He make 2 + 2 = 5, nor can He make a man holy against his will. Man must love the end for which he was created - his life in God, if he wills, but the temporal punishments which do come to us are granted in love to bring back to us the grace by which we may attain to Eternal Life.Adam had lost that grace, and could not regain it of himself, and thus, "in Adam all die." God cannot prevent consequential or eternal punishment when merited. God had warned Adam in love, "in the day . . . thou shalt surely die."
VIII. But in Christ all may be made alive. God sent His own Son, Who came to the world, wrapping the same human nature about Him. Our failures were not to baffle the Divine Work. He had always meant to become Incarnate. By the loss of grace, humanity was in despair and needed light, and the light streamed from the Eternal Truth Who comes to lighten the world. It had been the cry from long ages, "Give us Light." It was the cry rising from the altars in Athens, and all the old philosophies, "Give us light." And in Christ God's Light was embodied in the Sun of Righteousness. He took our nature, and uttered His Word.
But we need more than light and truth. If that would have been enough, the Angels might have shown us. If a belief in a future state was enough, such a truth might have been written in the sky, and taught by Angels. We could have learned in that way that good would be rewarded and evil punished, but No! Truth, to be effectual, must be embodied, for this our Lord became Incarnate, and so acted out the Divine Life before us, that He could take our hand and say, "Follow Me."
IX. He became an Example. But in Adam we had lost grace, and we needed something more than an Example. There must be reconciliation, restoration, and this was wrought on Calvary. but is is always God in Love we are to see. There was on the Cross no opposition between Father and Son. The Cross was the manifestation of the Love of God. On the Cross, the creature of God (who had lost the supernatural grave given, and thus became separated from God) by the "atonement," became united to Him again.
If an Example were all we needed, God might have made another man like Adam, and created him in perfection, or, if the At-one-ment were all, our Lord might have suffered on Calvary, and then laid our nature aside, but No! - He took it, wears it now, and will wear it forever - a continual source of union between us and God. This becomes a new source of grave, so that "in Christ all are made alive," by the gift of grace, as in Adam all died" by the lost of the grace.
X. But we want not only truth, or the power of Example, for forgiveness. - No! We want life, for body, soul, and spirit. Now, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Then, how, in Adam, do we all die? for it is in that same way, that in Christ we live. Do we die in Adam by thinking of him? by believing in him? by any mental act or emotion? by trusting in him? No! But we are actually descended from Adam, and our death is the result of our actual contact with him. It is thus we die in Adam, - his very blood is in our veins. "Even so In Christ" are we made alive. It is not by any emotion or mental act, or by trusting or believing merely, but as we are in Adam, so we are in Christ; by actual contact we are descended from Him. We have been innoculated with His Life, and in this way, the body, would, and spirit have received eternal life; the God-Man infuses the Divine Life into us. His invitation to all men is to be re-created in Him.
But, if by this communication of Christ's Nature, we receive the gift of grace whereby we may attain Eternal Life, what shall we say of those who died before Christ came to us?
Our Bible and our Creed teach us that, after the Crucifixion, Christ bearing His Five Wounds went and spoke to the spirits that were in prison. That same life which he now communicates to us by material agencies in the Sacraments, He then communicated to them by His Own Word. Adam, Abraham, all the Patriarchs, received the same gift given us, because they became communicants with Christ. They received His Nature into themselves, and thus became the "spirits of just men made perfect," - and perfect, they had not been before.
XI. This work He is still carrying on, for Saints and the heathen who are walking according to their light.
We then must remember our responsibilities. Before us is Eternal Life, but there is no way to perfect our nature, but by the communication of the Incarnate Son of God. If we are baptized, we are members of Him, and may claim our rights, i.e. the gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, and the feeding upon Christ Himself in the Blessed Sacrament.
And let no one think we claim these gifts as being worthy of them. Only as desiring by them to become more worthy, for in them He gives us His own dear Life and Strength. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
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