The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
The Trial, and Sentence passed upon the Criminals
The Trial, and Sentence passed upon the Criminals.
When the devil had succeeded in causing man to fall from God, and had him under his control, he and his host of angels gloried in their success and triumph, and heaven was thrown into mourning, consternation, and expectation as to its final result. The devil and his servants have no reason to be glad and rejoice, as they usually are, when they have successfully carried out all the evils they can do : there is yet a judgment to come; and so it was in this case.
Man had now transgressed God's law', and upon this transgression it followed that God in justice was bound to curse man and to destroy him. But what would in that case have been the result ? Why this, that God would have appeared as a weak, imperfect, and contemptible Being; yea, more, he would have proved himself to be an impostor, liar, and deceiver; because upon inspection God had found and declared all his works to be "very good" (Gen. i. 31). Now Man, the principal of his creation, appeared to be bad; and so bad indeed that he had to curse and to destroy him. And to bring this about was, beyond doubt, the aim of the devil in his temptation of man. If such were the case, God had neither right nor page 52 power to pass sentence upon the devil, as the ringleader of the three criminals now before the bar of God's justice, because He himself, who was now the Judge, would be found to be an evildoer, and the wickedness of the devil would have abounded.
As a criminal, however, though the clearest evidence exists of his guilt, cannot be condemned before he has been tried before a tribunal of justice, even so our first parents, though their guilt was as clear as day, could not be condemned before they had been brought to trial; and that trial we read in Genesis iii., verse 10.
Here God commenced with his examination of Adam, as the responsible party, as the housefather of the family, consisting as yet of only two persons, "man and wife." And from Adam God, now only as their Judge, proceeded to Eve, and from her to the serpent, as the ringleader of the criminals. And now comes the critical point: God, as Judge in the case, was debarred by justice from showing any mercy. If, therefore, God had commenced to pass sentence upon Adam and his wife, he was bound in justice to curse and to destroy them, and thus the devil would have gained his point. God, however, commenced, as in justice should be the case, to pass sentence first upon the serpent, and in him upon the devil, as the ringleader and the principal criminal;* and, in his wisdom, included in his sentence the setting forth of the Mediator, or restorer of mankind, whom God placed in the stead of man, in opposition to the devil, to fight for man the battle with that great dragon. But, as man had his origin from God, being made in the image of God and in his likeness, he must be upheld perfect as he was made. It was therefore requisite that the Mediator who took man's place must be perfect as God is perfect, and must therefore be a person of the Godhead. Though the Mediator was appointed to his office in the Council of the "Tri-unity" previously held, before man was made, yet his appointment was of no effect unless he was proclaimed as such, publicly—by a Royal proclamation in favour of man, and in defiance of the devil—and that proclamation God made in these words: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. iii. 5). In that proclamation the Mediator was established in his office as the Saviour of mankind, to save man by suffering, and was placed in the stead of man and made King, against the devil, the Prince of darkness, and his kingdom, to destroy his works and his kingdom, man himself being placed in the background as good for nothing (John xv. 5). Hence the infallible truth, that he who amongst us thinks himself to be something only deceives himself (Gal. vi. 3). Oh! what has become of man, who had his origin of God, being the son of God ? (Luke iii. 38). He who would be as God has become as the devil; his heart "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." (Jer. xvii. 9.)
Now notice : when God speaks, his words in such cases are actions; said and done is one with God. Here the covenant of grace was proclaimed and established, and the battle between the Mediator and the Serpent (devil) was, in God's sight, fought, and mankind redeemed; for with God is everything present; all is with God to-day.