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Since spirits, as purely spiritual beings, exist for themselves, one not being dependent upon another, so that each one incurs guilt and obtains merit solely for itself, there can be no salvation for those that have been once separated from God. But, on the contrary, for men, being men, that is, part of a whole, individuals of a species, so that each is included in the destiny and properties of the whole, salvation is possible, and grounded on this, that as one could destroy all things for all, so another can repair all things for all.
And this was the noble work of love, which, in its manifestation to guilty man, is indeed the greatest mercy. For what does love desire ? It desires to remove the opposition of the creature, and, as far as it can do so without contradiction with itself, to render it happy. This was indeed possible in regard to man, since there is a Father and representative for the spiritual part of man no less than for the corporeal. This new representative, who, in spirit, was likewise Adam's Father and restorer, had the office of cancelling, by His own free obedience, the free disobedience of the first Adam, and thus to liberate the whole race from the guilt of opposition. “When the Son,” He declared, “shall free you, then shall you be truly free.” (John viii.) On one side, therefore, it was necessary that He should proceed from a sinful race, and yet Himself be free from all guilt and stain of this race; and thus proceed, not by generation, but as a new creation of God, from a virgin daughter of Sion; and, on the other side, it was necessary that, as the creating restorer of the dissolved union, He should come from God, bearing in Himself, in living union, divinity and humanity, so that His human soul was created in original union with the Logos, in order to pour into humanity a new merit, destructive of eternal guilt-an infinite inheritance pertaining to the whole
And this is that great and glorious mystery, the accomplishment of which the Church celebrates on holy Saturday. O happy fault,' she exclaims with exultation, which has deserved so great a Redeemer!' This too is that joyful mystery, to a grateful remembrance of which the Psalmist exhorts all men and nations. “Praise the Lord, all ye nations; praise Him, all ye people; for His mercy is confirmed upon us, and His truth endureth for ever.” (Ps. cxvi.)
HATEVER we wish to distinguish as least in importance and signification we generally name last, and place in the lowest rank.
But as our Lord has in some respect taught us the contrary, that “ the last shall be first,” we also make many exceptions to this rule; as, when
presenting a number of petitions, we reserve those for the end which, although they may be less pleasing, and even disagreeable to our patron, are nevertheless more important to us, and more conducive to our welfare. In this order are arranged the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer; of which the first is, “ Hallowed be Thy name," and the last, " Deliver us from evil.” That the first is the greatest and the most exalted is evident; but because the last is in the last place, shall we conclude that it is therefore the least and most insignificant? By no means. For, besides that it expresses that which is of well-nigh the greatest moment to us, it embraces in its full import an elevation that soars even to the height of the first, as by its ac
complishment we attain also to the fulfilment of the first. For in a proper understanding of the words of the seventh petition is contained the entire doctrines of positive Christianity—the doctrine of evil, or of the guilt and punishment of sin, and the doctrine of salvation, or the removal of both through justification and salvation.
For as the essence of sin is guilt, and its necessary consequence punishment, or separation from God, so must the redemption be perfected in a twofold manner : first, by a redemption or liberation from guilt, or the justification of man through the merits of Christ,—that is, through His all-satisfying sacrifice; and secondly, by redemption from punishment through Him whom He has inherited or merited for us, namely, the Holy Ghost, who deserted the first man, but has now “ been poured out upon all flesh,” — upon the posterity of Adam,—to remove their separation from God. We have seen, that in very woe there was blessing, and that from evil salvation arose. On the very principle, that each individual of mankind must partake in the lot of his race, so that the fall of the first man brought demerit upon his entire posterity, it is possible that a new representative and father of men, according to the spirit, should enter amongst men, to restore salvation to all, and to cause the eternal love, now displaying itself as mercy, to remove and to destroy ancient opposition. “God was in Christ,” says the Apostle, “reconciling the world to Himself.” For from God alone can proceed the commencement of redemption ; which, however, must be accomplished and perfected for the entire race by one Man, since this Man Him
self, free from all original or personal guilt, repaired, by infinite obedience to God, the injury which the disobedience of our first parent brought upon all. His merit, therefore, became the merit of inheritance to mankind, as Adam's sin is also the sin of inheritance to all.
And in these exalted ways of Providence, do we not acknowledge the truth of the words of the Psalmist, “ The judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves ?” (Psalm xviii.) For assuredly God, when He created mankind, foresaw the destruction which the offence of one would bring upon the whole race. this did not deter Him from creating man, in whom all the rest of creation was to see its completion, by the union of spirit and nature, so had He prepared a remedy and salvation, wherein the greatness of His love would display itself in a far richer degree. And it was this Providence which, in the moment when man fell, looking on the redeeming obedience of the second Adam, ran towards man with helpful mercy, in order that, with the entrance of guilt and ruin, redemption might also take its commencement. For if the first man, as far as in him lay, turned himself from God, and found eternal separation and darkness for his lot, th second Adam, by His influence upon all mankind, has healed this otherwise incurable evil.
And thus it is that the Word of God, Divine Logos, long before His union with the man Jesus, and as if in pledge of His approaching incarnation, again formed a bond of union with man, not by a voice of love, but by that of conscience; a voice of superiority and rightful power; a voice sounding unto every self-conscious man,