Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. IV. Eighteenth Century
The Fall of Adam
By William Law (16861761)
From Second Part of The Spirit of Prayer
AGAIN, is it not the plain letter of Scripture that Adam died the day that he did eat of the earthly tree? Have we not the most solemn asseveration of God for the truth of this? Was not the change which Adam found in himself a demonstration of the truth of this fact? Instead of the image and likeness of God in which he was created, the beauty of paradise, he was stript of all his glory, confounded at the shameful deformity of his own body, afraid of being seen, and unable to see himself uncovered; delivered up a slave to the rage of all the stars and elements of this world, not knowing which way to look, or what to do in a world where he was dead to all he formerly felt, and alive only to a new and dreadful feeling of heat and cold, shame and fear, and horrible remorse of mind at his sad entrance in a world whence paradise and God and his own glory were departed. Death enough surely!
A death that in all nature has none like it, none equal to it, none of the same nature with it, but that which the angels died, when from angels of God they became living devils, serpentine hideous forms, and slaves to darkness. Say that the angels lost no life, that they did not die a real death, because they are yet alive in the horrors of darkness; and then you may say, with the same truth, that Adam did not die when he lost God, and paradise, and the first glory of his creation, because he afterwards lived and breathed in a world which was outwardly, in all its parts, full of the same curse that was within himself, but further, not only the plain letter of the text, and the change of state which Adam found in himself, demonstrated a real death to his former state; but the whole tenor of Scripture absolutely requires it; all the system of our redemption proceeds upon it. For tell me, I pray, what need of a redemption, if Adam had not lost his first state of life? What need of the deity to enter again into the human nature, not only as acting, but taking a birth in it, and from it? What need of all this mysterious method, to bring the life from above again into man, if the life from above had not been lost? Say that Adam did not die, and then tell me what sense or reason there is in saying that the Son of God became man, and died on the cross to restore to him the life that he had lost? It is true indeed that Adam, in his death to the divine life, was left in the possession of an earthly life. And the reason is plain why he was so, for his great sin consisted in his desire and longing to enter into the life of this world, to know its good and evil as the animals of this world do; it was his choosing to have a life of this world after this new manner, and his entering upon the means of attaining it, that was his death to the divine life. And therefore it is no wonder, that after his death to heaven and paradise he found himself still alive as an earthly animal. For the desire of this earthly life was his great sin, and the possession of this earthly life was the proper punishment and misery that belonged to his sin; and therefore it is no wonder, that that life which was the proper punishment, and real discovery of the fruits of his sin, should subsist after his sin had put an end to the life of paradise and God in him. But wonderful it is to a great degree, that any man should imagine that Adam did not die on the day of his sin, because he had as good a life left in him, as the beasts of the field have.
For is this the life, or is the death that such animals die, the life and death with which our redemption is concerned? Are not all the Scriptures full of a life and death of a much higher kind and nature? And do not the Scriptures make man the perpetual subject to whom this higher life and death belong? What ground or reason therefore can there be to think of the death of an animal of this world, when we read of the death that Adam was assuredly to die the day of his sin? For does not all that befel him on the day of his sin show that he lost a much greater life, suffered a more dreadful change, than that of giving up the breath of this world? For in the day of his sin, this angel of paradise, this lord of the new creation, fell from the throne of his glory (like Lucifer from heaven) into the state of a poor, awakened, naked, distressed animal of gross flesh and blood, unable to bear the odious sight of that which his newly opened eyes forced him to see; inwardly and outwardly feeling the curse awakened in himself and all the creation, and reduced to have only the faith of the devils, to believe and tremble. Proof enough surely, that Adam was dead to the life and light and spirit of God; and that, with this death, all that was divine and heavenly in his soul, his body, his eyes, his mind and thoughts, was quite at an end. Now this life to which Adam then died, is that life which all his posterity are in want of, and cannot come out of that state of that death into which he fell, but by having this first life of heaven born again in them. Now is there any reason to say, that mankind, in their natural state, are not dead to that first life in which Adam was created, because they are alive to this world? Yet this is as well as to say, that Adam did not die a real death, because he had afterwards an earthly life in him. How comes our Lord to say, that unless ye eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you? Did he mean you have no earthly life in you? How comes the Apostle to say, he that hath the Son of God hath life, but he that hath not the Son of God hath not life? Does he mean the life of this world? No. But both Christ and His Apostle assert this great truth, that all mankind are in the state of Adams first death till they are made alive again by a birth of the Son and Holy Spirit of God brought forth in them. So plain is it, both from the express letter and spirit of Scripture, that Adam died a real death to the kingdom of God in the day of his sin. Take away this death, and all the scheme of our redemption has no ground left to stand upon.
For without the reality of a new birth, founded on the certainty of a real death on the fall of Adam, the Christian scheme is but a skeleton of empty words, a detail of strange mysteries between God and man, that do nothing, and have nothing to do.