« السابقةمتابعة »
God. In Ezekiel's famous vision of the new temple, there is a wonderful description, founded on the real situation of things at mount Sion, explaining their signification, and unavoidably carrying our thoughts back to the waters and plantations of the original sanctuary in Eden :" Afterward he brought me again “ unto the door of the house, and behold waters “ issued out from under the threshold of the house " eastward. -Then said he to me. These waters “ issue out toward the east country, and go down “ into the desert, and go into the sea, which being “ brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be 6 healed. And it shall come to pass, that every
thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the “river shall come, shall live.—And by the river
upon the bank thereof, on this side, and on that “ side, shall
grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall “not fade; neither shall the fruit thereof be con“ sumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to “its months, because their waters issued out of the
sanctuary; and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, " and the leaves thereof for medicine"."
When the prophets have occasion to foretel the great and marvellous change to be effected in the moral world under the evangelical dispensation, they frequently borrow their ideas and expressions from the history of that garden, in which innocence and felicity once dwelt together, and which they represent as again springing up and blooming in the wilderness. Of the many passages which occur, two or three only shall be recited. “The Lord will com“ fort Sion, he will comfort all her waste places; " he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her “ desert like the garden of the Lord : joy and glad“ness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the “ voice of melody*;" such joy and gladness, such thanksgiving and melody, at the restitution of all things, as were at their first creation, when “God
* Ezek. xlvii. 1, &c.
saw every thing he had made, and behold, it was very good;"—when “the morning stars sang to
gether, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." -"When the poor and needy seek water, and there “is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the “Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not “ forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, " and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will “make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry “ land springs of water. I will plant in the wilder
ness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, " and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir “ tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: that
they may see, and know, and consider, and under“ stand together, that the hand of the Lord hath “ done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created "it." “ The wilderness and the solitary place “shall be glad for them : and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom
abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing ; "the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the s excellency of Carmel and Sharon : they shall see
“ the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our " God.”
At the time appointed, these predictions received their accomplishment. Men "saw the glory of the “ Lord, and the excellency of our God.” By the death and resurrection of the Redeemer, lost Paradise was regained; and its inestimable blessings, wisdom, righteousness and holiness, are now to be found and enjoyed in the Christian church. But as men are still men, and not angels, those blessings are still represented and conveyed by sacramental symbols, analogous to the original ones in Eden. From the sacred font flows the water of life, to purify, to refresh, to comfort; "a river goes out of Eden, to “ water the garden,” and to “baptize all nations ;" while the eucharist answers to the fruits of the tree of life: at the holy table, we may now "put forth our
hands, and take, and eat, and live for ever.”
Let us go one step farther, and consider the state of things in the heavenly kingdom of our Lord. There, it is true, all figures and shadows, symbols and sacraments, shall be no more, because faith will there be lost in vision, and we shall “ know even as we are known.”
But in the mean time, till we attain that perfect consummation, was any person admitted to a sight of heaven and the wonders that are therein, he could no otherwise describe them to us, who are yet in the body, than by the way of picture and similitude. This was the case of St. Paul. In a divine ecstasy, he had been caught up,
u Isa, xxxv. 1, 2.
and made to see and hear things, which he could not impart to others on account of their incapacity to receive them. What then does he ? He refers us to the habitation of our first parents for a general and comparative idea of them. “I knew a man,” says he,“ who was caught up into Paradise.” Our Lord, giving the penitent thief to understand, that his sorrows would soon be at an end, and he should pass with his Saviour into a place of rest and joy, uses the same expressions, “ This day shalt thou be with “me in Paradise.” The beloved disciple, who was frequently, in the spirit, translated to those celestial mansions which Christ is gone to prepare for us, gives a more particular and extended description of them. But how? By bringing to our view all Eden, its waters and plantations, together with those seen by Ezekiel in his vision of the new temple. “ He “ showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as
crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and " of the Lamb. And of either side of the river was “there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of
fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the “ leaves of the tree were for the healing of the na“ tions. To him that overcometh will I give to eat “ of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Pa“radise of God. Blessed are they that do his com
mandments, that they may have right to the tree " of life. And the Spirit and the bride say,
Come. " And let him that heareth say, Come. And let “him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, " let him take the waters of life freely.". In these passages the divine scenery is evidently borrowed from objects once really existing in the terrestrial Paradise, and employed to aid our conceptions in apprehending celestial glories. If, therefore, we are taught that heaven resembles the garden of Eden, it seems fair and reasonable to conclude, that the garden of Eden resembled heaven, and was, from the beginning, intended so to do; that, like the temple under the law, and the church under the Gospel, it was, to its happy possessors, a place chosen for the residence of God; a place designed to represent and furnish them with ideas of heavenly things; a place sacred to contemplation and devotion; in one word, that it was the primitive temple and church, formed and consecrated for the use of man in a state of innocence. There, undisturbed by care, and as yet unassailed by temptation, all his faculties perfect, and his appetites in subjection, he walked with God, as a man walketh with his friend, and enjoyed communion with heaven, though his abode was upon earth. He studied the works of God, as they came fresh from the hands of the Work-master, and in the creation, as in a glass, he was taught to behold the glories of the Creator. Trained in the school of Eden, by the material elements of a visible world, to the knowledge of one that is immaterial and invisible, he found himself excited by the beauty of the picture, to aspire after the transcendent excellence of the di. vine original. This sacred garden, the first Adam, by transgression lost; but all the blessings signified and represented by it, have been, through the second Adam, restored to his posterity. In our stead, he subjected himself to the vengeance of “the flaming