By E.L. Bevir
The importance of understanding clearly that the "second man" applies to an order entirely different from that of the "first man" is very great, and may still be considered, though so much has been said about it.
Adam is looked at in 1 Corinthians 15 as the head of a race, and when our Lord's place as last Adam, quickening all those in the race of which He is Head, has been clearly established, the Holy Spirit goes on to speak of the character or order of humanity of the second race, in contrast with that of the first.
I give here a note by one no longer with us. "Adam is the head of a race; man, first and second, denote two characters of manhood. Adam means head-man, but then looked at as a race, and personally the head of it". J.N.D. The earth is a very beautiful place, though man has done what he can to spoil it, and seen even as we see it, through eyes that have lost much of their power since the fall, and bearing as it does the effects of the curse, we can still trace the splendid proportions of the great Architect's hand in the very midst of the ruin.
I shall never forget, as a lad, coming suddenly upon Tintern Abbey when walking along one evening, and imagining the complete Gothic edifice from the shattered arches still left standing. The earth was very beautiful when Adam was made out of dust and the breath of life breathed into him by God. He was fitted for all that was called life in an earthly sphere: so formed that he could enjoy all that God had given him in Eden; and that, in innocence. And we are speaking of what Adam was before the fall; for Eden is not heaven whatever people may say. (He fell, and the whole race was involved in his ruin; of this, much has been said, but not too much, for on every hand men are still endeavouring to bring to perfection the natural man which has been hopelessly spoiled.) Adam, no doubt, had happy intercourse with God, as an innocent happy earthly being, very different from the brutes, and having an immortal soul, in relation to the Creator who had breathed the breath of life into him.
The great point before us is the new order. The expression "out of heaven" refers to the origin and moral character of a humanity entirely distinct from that which was "out of earth". If the last Adam be the head (last, because there will be no other order of humanity after Him) of an entirely new race, the character of this race becomes evident when others are spoken of: "as is the heavenly One, so also are the heavenly ones". A great effort has been made, and is still being made, to throw this into the future instead of accepting it as a grand fact, as true now morally, as it will be actually, later on, when the glorified saints shall be seen in the splendour of the resurrection. As is the heavenly One, so are the heavenly ones.
If the earth was beautiful when if came out of God's hands at the creation, and is still beautiful even in its ruin, the heavenly One could tell of things of an immensely higher sphere and seeing that the most instructed did not even understand earthly things, could say: "How if I speak to you of the heavenly things will ye believe?"
To apprehend the new order and character of a race of heavenly men, to understand it in the soul and walk in it would make us as truly separate from the earthly race (as to our ambition, aim, and service) as a stranger in Italy with an English passport would be separate politically from the Italians.
But there is more to be thought of; that is that the grace, fortitude, joy, peace, belonging to another race to that of the first man be made good in our souls by the Holy Ghost. That as we understand more simply what the new creation means, we may enjoy these blessed realities; and not cease to thank and praise Him who came down from heaven, the living Bread, in order that we by His death and resurrection might be brought into this new order of things, and be characterized by what is "out of heaven".
Instead of interfering with our present path and duties it will give new force and weight to all that we do or say, whilst we wait for the full accomplishment of all the counsels of God in the glorification of our bodies. May the "out of heaven" character be more simply known!
- E. L. B.