The Origin and Antiquity of Man
The publication of the investigations, the discoveries, the disappointments, the speculations, and the expectations of Professor Schafer, and other members of “The British Association,” has set Christendom agog. The theories put forth by these wiselings are hailed by some with evident delight; by others, and among them some leading ecclesiastics, with an uncertain kind of reserve which gives one the impression that they are not very sure of their ground as Christians; and by others, thank God, with regret and utter rejection.
The first party are openly, or at heart, infidel, and hope people are fast coming to the conclusion that Christianity is about played out; and therefore do they welcome anything that gives a blow to the Bible. They think that, if they could get rid of the Holy Scriptures, they would be rid of responsibility to God, and that Christ, as Judge of the living and the dead, they might safely forget; and that anything, even everlasting oblivion, would be better than the prospects held out to them in the gospel. The Lord and His Anointed they cannot do away with, therefore they would prefer to have to trace their genealogy back to an anthropoid ape, a squirrel, or a toad that sucks the vapour of a dungeon, than be God-made men and women.
The second party, religious but unconverted, would prefer to have the blessings of the gospel left intact; but the consequences of living a life of self-will and forgetfulness of God would, in their opinion, be better eliminated from the minds of men. If people only attend to their religious duties—and what these are they are themselves the best judges—all will be well! God is merciful, and the failures of His erring creatures are not so heinous in His sight as some parts of Scripture would lead us to believe! Then, of course, it would not do for a Christian ecclesiastic to give up the Bible altogether!
The third party are those who have seen something of their sinfulness in the sight of a holy and righteous God, of their amenability to His judgment, condemnation, and wrath, and have fled to the only refuge—Christ and His precious blood. In His death they see a way of salvation opened up for lost and guilty man, the world-wide love of God declared, their own personal sins judged and put away for ever, and God glorified. And in the resurrection of Christ from the dead they see the triumph of God over the power of the enemy; death and Him that has the power of it both annulled, and life and incorruptibility brought to light by the gospel. Such are lovers of God, lovers of Christ, and lovers of the Bible, and have proven themselves ready at any time to seal their testimony with the last drop of their heart’s blood.
I have said they love the Bible. They believe it to be a revelation given from Himself “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” It is able to make them who believe in Christ wise unto salvation. It is a light to their feet, and a lamp to their path. It is a true witness regarding heaven, earth, hell, and the lake of fire. By reading it humbly and prayerfully one gets acquainted with the knowledge of God; His thoughts are therein recorded; His will unfolded; His purposes enrolled; and in visional representations we see them accomplished and fulfilled It as more to be esteemed than our necessary food, for not by bread alone do we live, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Yet the Bible is not the object set before us in the gospel for our faith. No; Christ is that. Thank God, we have not to study the Book from beginning to end to see whether we can believe every sentence of it in order to have our sins forgiven. No, Christ is the object of the faith of the Christian. He believes Him to be the Creator (Heb. 1:10; John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:6); the Upholder of all things (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3); the Man who is set at the right hand of God, and under whose feet everything is placed (Eph. 1:20, 22); the Son of God, the Man Christ Jesus, the propitiation for our sins, the Judge of living and dead, to whom every knee must bow, and who must be confessed as Lord by every intelligence in heaven and in earth, and in the infernal regions (1 John 2:2; Acts 10:42; Phil. 2:9-11), into whose hand all power is committed (Matt. 28:18), and who knows all things (John 21:17). This is the One who is the object of the faith of the believer, the One whom He knows to be “the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
Now this glorious person has authenticated the first five books of Moses; and quoting from them he confounded the Sadducees (Luke 20:37). He says also that if men did not believe the writings of Moses they were not likely to believe His words (John 6:46-47). Now when people talk about men having been a million or more years upon the earth, and as having been evolved from a mollusc, a squirrel, or an ape, it may look all very learned and interesting; and for the moment it might appear well not to take the first three chapters of Genesis as literally correct, or a pure revelation from God; but then a true believer will at once say to himself: If this be so, what comes of Jesus the Son of God? If you give up the truth of the Book of Genesis, you must also give up the truth of the Son of God. Almost the whole Old Testament has been authenticated by the New. Therefore to discredit the Old is to discredit the New; and to discredit the New is to discredit our LORD JESUS CHRIST; they stand or fall together.
It would only be waste of printer’s ink to quote from the sayings of these men, for their addresses are little else than mere confessions of the inutility of their investigations. They are hoping that they may arrive at something by and by, and they are sure not to be hampered for want of time, for a few million years is little more than a moment in their mode of reckoning; but for the present they have nothing definite and conclusive to present to their hearers. How many millions of years were consumed by the squirrels in the “cultivation of their senses,” while they “led an unobtrusive and safe life in the trees,” before they were big enough and “powerful enough” to venture to take their place on the earth, and “to hold their own” there against all opposition, we are not told, but we are told that life did not arise from “immediate supernatural intervention,” and therefore Milton’s lions “pawing to get free” is just as faithful a picture of the beginning of things as is the first of Genesis, for neither of them is worthy of credence!
Then men from whom we might have expected better cotton to all this kind of rubbish, because of “the light that science has thrown on the first of Genesis.” Light on the first of Genesis! Science has thrown no light at all on the chapter, nor on any verse in the whole revelation of God. Light on the first of Genesis indeed! Science is darkness itself, and revels in a darkness which might be felt. And were I asked to prove what I say, I would point to the meetings of “The British Association,” and to what is heard from the midst of that gathering regarding slime, squirrels, and monkeys; and when you have found your way out of that labyrinth of speculation and darkness of human thought, you will, with a sigh of relief, give thanks to God, and that with determination never to return that way again unless you prefer darkness to light.
What a relief it is to turn to the Word of God! With what grandeur and dignity the making of the heaven and the earth is told! First, the creation of the heavens and the earth are attributed to God; and the simple and dignified way in which the statement is made goes right home to one’s inmost soul as the truth of the living God Himself. Then we see the earth in a state of ruin, and upon this ruin the six days’ work begins, and all in view of a dwelling-place for man, who was to be made in the image and in the likeness of God. What power! what majesty! what wisdom! what authority! what creatorial glories burst forth before the vision of the soul! Let any one ponder the speculations of these men, and then read the first chapter of Genesis, and see whether the contrast is not between that of earth and heaven, between the mind of man and the mind of God.
It was man, the one who was to take the place of head, centre, and ruler, who was in the thought of God when His Spirit began to move on the face of the waters; hence every living creature that God made came into being, bearing some analogy to him, its head; some nearer to him than others; some at a very remote distance indeed; but none so far removed from him to be outside his dominion (Gen. 1:26). But as to himself, he had a link directly with God, which no creature had. While he had a link with all that was beneath him, he had also a link with that which was above him, even with God Himself, who had breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and thus caused him to become a living soul. And in this lay all his dignity and superiority over everything upon the earth. His link with his Creator is his glory. Take that away, and you have reduced him to the level of the brute creation.
The sad thing about it all is, that man prefers even such a humiliation as this to the position of responsibility to God. Therefore the fact that every living creature stands in relationship with its head, and to him bears some analogy, be it from that which seems to stand nearest to him to that which apparently is at such a distance as to be almost without analogy at all, is used by the godless and infidel mind of man to prove his theories of evolution, and for no other reason than to get rid of the Lord and His Anointed. If men would only reason downward, instead of upward to man, they might see the unintelligent creation so formed that it might stand in relationship to its intelligent head, who was to have dominion over it for its good and for his own happiness.
But if all has been lost and ruined by the fall of the earthly head, who has by his transgressions made himself subject to death and to eternal judgment, we shall see recovery in the heavenly Head, but in a new and spiritual way, and only of those who submit themselves to Him; and we shall see a new creation under Him, which shall bear some trait of the heavenly Man; though, as in the first creation, so in the second, there will be families which shall be nearer, and others which shall be more distant; the nearer bearing the greatest analogy to the exalted and heavenly Head, the last Adam, and Christ of God.
When this has come to pass where will these wiselings be who despise the revelation God has been pleased to give of Himself, and pride themselves in their own investigations and speculations, which result in nothing but wildernesses of error? They expect to see the chemist manufacturing life, and destroying death; for in their judgment we should be going back to semi-barbarism to imagine that man was a fallen sinner, and that death came by sin.
Well, thank God, we have a test that can be easily applied to all that comes forth from the greatest men upon earth, and that test is Christ. I ask myself, How does what I hear affect Him? He may be of little account today in the thought of those who bear His name. He may be almost as thoroughly rejected in Christendom today as He was by His earthly people when they put Him upon a gibbet; but He sits supreme in heaven at the right hand of God, waiting until His enemies be made the footstool of His feet. Then the drivellings of men will be all over. Every problem will have been completely solved, and it will be seen in the light of that day who have been wise and who have been foolish upon earth. It will be a terrible day for the Christ-despiser, for it will be the despised Nazarene who shall sit upon the great white throne, and who will reward every man according to his works.
May both reader and writer find Christ a perfect test to which everything that is presented to us in this corrupt profession may be subjected; and may we be ready to welcome Him at His coming again.