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the dictates of reason, ought to have been avoided; because, as above shewn, by partaking of it, sensual gratification was preferred to spiritual pleasure, which consists in obeying the command of the blessed God.
Eve, being less able to resist the insinuating and destructive assault of the tempter, was first deceived; and, as the Holy Scriptures inform us, he, under the form of a subtle serpent, deceitfully assured her, that not only no evil consequences could happen from what she did, but, that on the contrary, she would thereby be brought into a more perfect condition : "Ye shall be as Gods;" Gen. iii. 5. This transgression of the woman was the most pernicious example for Adam himself, who, with all his exalted mental abilities, was overcome by sensual temptation.
We have above stated, that the happiness of man could not be destroyed, so long as reason continued to reign in him; but, behold, this chief ruler of human actions hurled from his throne, and, in place of him, fleshly lusts assume the reins, and make reason their slave and prisoner. The terrible consequences of such a change could be nothing less than mortal.
The effects of Transgression.
2. After man had disobeyed reason, and
transgressed the command, he fell from a most blessed into a most miserable condition. The powers of reason were now overcome, and its light became dim; the holiness of the will was defiled, the peace of the soul disturbed, the door to the passions, that always oppose reason, was opened, and man became the mournful theatre of this internal war. Along with the passions also vices entered, and they became the causes of innumerable sorrows and diseases, diseases debilitating the body, and grief and sorrow enervating the mind. Thus followed the temporal death, which God threatened as the reward of transgression.
But this temporal death drew after it a still more awful spiritual death, which consists in the soul being cast out from God, because the bonds which united God with man, namely, the light of his reason, and the holiness of his will, were, by his transgression, dissolved. Such a condition is, in different places of the Holy Scriptures, styled a fallen state, a state of sin, of the flesh, of misery, of darkness, of ignorance, of slavery, and lastly, a state of death. At the fall of man also, the very earth was cursed of God; Gen. iii. 17; that is, it was subjected to vanity, which consisted in this: that from that period, by the idleness and carelessness of man, it was not
adorned with such beauty and abundance as it received at its creation; and farther, that the inconsiderateness and wickedness of man would lead him to pervert all the good things it contains.
The consequences of the first sin. Through the first transgression, the door to sin was opened, which, by infecting the whole human race, at last brought them into the utmost misery.
1. In the First Part, under Section xiv. we have shewn that a change must have taken place among the children of men; but the fountain out of which all this evil flowed, we knew not. Now we behold the beginning of this evil: for the Holy Scriptures, in making known the happy state in which the first man was created, are also not silent in regard to the manner in which he fell from this happiness; and this fall has brought death upon all men. The word of God clearly and powerfully confirms this. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned;" Rom. v. 12. The Heathens themselves, notwithstanding their great darkness, are unable to deny the general corruption of the human race; but Christians alone enjoy the peculiar privilege of pointing to the
very spring from which this flood of wickedness flows.
In course of time sin became more powerful. 2. Though the first man was subdued by sin, yet the power of sin did not rage so much in him as in his posterity; because the light in which he was created was not altogether extinguished, and the affections of a good heart by the first shock were not completely overthrown. But in process of time, and as mankind began to multiply, sin became the more powerful, and injustice increased. Hence, soon after the fall, Cain imbrued his hands in the blood of his own innocent brother Abel; Gen. iv. 8. And in the progress of a few ages, wickedness increased to such a degree, that the Holy Scriptures assure us, “the earth was filled with violence; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." Gen. vi. 11,
The divine Paul agrees in this representation, and also reckons up the abominable and corrupt deeds into which the children of men had plunged themselves; Rom. i. 18. In short, in this creature, formed after the image of God, not one feature of that image was to be observed; but a certain kind of awful darkness, in which he blindly wandered through paths out of which he
could not extricate himself, following only the dictates of his own irregular affections. Surely it is unnecessary, in this place, to prove how wretched and sorrowful man is in such a condition, because, to have the light of reason darkened, to be removed from virtue, consequently from God, from the most exalted good, is a state of misery, than which the mind of man cannot conceive a greater.
In such a state, rational man fell under all the severity of God's wrath.
No one will dare to affirm, that God can equally love the righteous and the wicked. This can never be reconciled with his infinite justice and holiness. Hence, justice itself requires, that God should turn away from that man who is a stubborn and impenitent despiser of his holy will. Now, this turning away of God from man, is one of the most dreadful calamities; and more particularly when we reflect, that after he is thus abandoned by his Creator, every possible evil must inevitably fall upon him. Of this, the Holy Scriptures say, Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil." Rom. ii. 9.