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by Dr. John Thomas
Until he ate of the forbidden fruit, there was no breach of friendship, no misunderstanding, no alienation, between him and the Lord God; there needed not, therefore, any means, or system of means, for the reconciliation of estranged parties.
But, as soon as the good understanding was interrupted by disobedience to the Eden law, sentence of condemnation to the dust was pronounced upon the offenders; and means were instituted to put them at one again with the Lord, that He might bring them back from the ground, no longer naked and ashamed of their condition; but clothed with glory and honour, incorruptibility and life, as a crown of righteousness that should never fade away.
These instituted means made up the way of life, which Moses terms "God's way".
David styles it "the path of life"; which the apostle, in quoting, renders "the ways of life"; oJdoi; zwh`"; that is, the way leading to life in which a man must walk now; and the way into the kingdom from the house of death.
In the beginning, God's way was styled "the Way of the Tree of Life"; which in the passage where it occurs, must be taken literally, and then allegorically.
In its literal sense, it was the path leading to the Tree in the midst of the garden; but allegorically, it signified the things to be believed and practised by those who desired to live for ever.
To believe and do, is to walk in "the Way which leadeth unto life"; because immortality will be a part of the recompense of reward for so doing.
Until the crucifixion, the Way was marked out, first by the patriarchal arrangement of things; and secondly, by the Mosaic law; all of which pointed to the Shiloh.
But, when Jesus appeared, he announced, saying, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me".
Whosoever would attain to life must believe the truth concerning Jesus, and the kingdom, which is the most holy place.
Hence, it is written, "We have boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a New and Living Way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the Veil, that is to say, his flesh".
The old Way was but typical of the new; but both are purely matters of revelation.
Nothing is left to conjecture.
Man may corrupt the Way of the Lord; but he cannot improve it: and as surely as he attempts to adapt it to circumstances, he converts it into "the Way which leadeth to destruction," which is both broad and easy to walk in, being in perfect harmony with the lusts and thinking of the flesh.
The things of the Way of Life constitute religion.
As a word, it is derived from the Latin religio, from religare, which signifies to bind again; hence, religion is the act of binding again, or that which heals a breach previously existing between two parties.
This traditional idea the Romans expressed by religio.
They believed as the foundation of their mythology that mankind and the gods were at enmity; but how it originated they had lost the knowledge of.
Their impression was that they were angry, but not implacable; nevertheless, so estranged from men that there could be no direct communication with them.
Mediatorial converse with the gods was an idea universally prevalent in the world.
The pagans had derived it by tradition from the family of Noah; with whom were deposited the revealed principles of the Way of God instituted in the beginning.
The idea of mediate communication for the appeasement of divine wrath was incorporated in all the domestic and temple worship which constituted their religion.
They poured out abundantly the blood of victims; and, from the tradition of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac in obedience to the divine mandate, the Carthaginians, who migrated from Palestine, probably concluded that the most acceptable offering for sin was that of human life.