Images de page

and placed him in as delightful a situation as can possibly be imagined. As he was human all he saw was given him for his use and enjoyment; exempt from pain, poverty, and every thing inju rious: he was called into existence for his own felicity; as intellectual and social, marriage with all its pleasures and prospects, was mercifully in2 stituted; and as he was spiritual, God himself condescended to converse with him, "as a man "converseth with his friend;" and chusing the very time when his happiness would be encreased by the mercies of the past day, and the silent serenity of unruffled evening, he would then walk with him amongst the trees of the garden. All these satisfactions were but preparatory to future and higher bliss which was promised and continu ally held forth in certain prospect. Thus hope, which is the grand sweetener of present enjoyment, and the solace even of the severest woe, was not withheld. Could any being be more beneficient than God? Any more obliged to cheerful obedience than this favored man, Adam?

2. Yet he was the offender; he rebelled against God, and preferred his own will to that of his Creator. The offender was the most favored creature of the Lord of heavens; indulged with a sovereign authority over all the brute creation, he was the elder Son of God in the new world, and laid

under every conceivable obligation to love and obey the Most High; he was the representative of a numerous and promised progeny; and in order to render his allegiance more certain, their estab lished happiness was not put to the risk of individual and successive responsibility, but was mercifully made to depend on his loyalty to the Deity. That this service might not be constrained, and that the full applause of voluntary obedience might be awarded, he was formed "firm to stand, though "free to fall;" no vicious bias influenced his will; when the tempter came he found nothing in him, yet he wantonly rebelled; and adding the aggravations of impenitence to his crime, he not only vindicated his fall, but attempted to affix the stigma of his apostacy on his most merciful Creator.

3. You will be prepared to expect that the offence was committed on some very powerful temptation, to promote some permanent interest, or under the influence of some most plausible delusion: these expectations however natural, are unfounded, the turpitude of man's guilt is seen in the very character of the offence.

It should be remembered, that when Adam was placed in Paradise, God gave him permission freely to eat of every tree, but one; nor does it appear that the fruit of that tree was more delicious

to the taste or pleasant to the eye, than that of any other in the garden. Could a milder and more merciful token of God's supremacy, and an easier test of man's submission have been devised?

[ocr errors]

Profane persons have often selected this circumstance, recorded in the Scriptures, as the subject of their senseless and impious ridicule; and in the fulness of their folly, exclaim-how severe the penalty for taking an apple! But look at the Consider the offence as fact as it really occurred. the disgusting compound of incredulity, flagrant ingratitude to their beneficent Creator, uncontrolled pride and ambition, wanton and unprovoked rebellion, carelessness where all was at stake, abandoned cruelty to their expected posterity, crowned and completed in a bold impeachment of the Deity. Say, was this a small error? A trivial offence?

The blacker crimes which disgrace and distress society, have by these most depraved sons of Adam, been simplified, and their enormity pared away and diminished. Murder has by some, been styled the mere turning a few ounces of blood out of their proper channel, by cutting a small vein; but pretences such as these, will not even conceal guilt from a man's own conscience, much less from the eye of inexorable justice. Attempt not then, to dissemble or cloke your sin, before Almighty God,


your heavenly Father; while impenitent, and endeavoring to hide your transgression, as Adam, you will not prosper. Go to Him in lowly contrition, and obtain pardon through the spotless merits and costly sacrifice of a dear Redeemer, 'ere that day arrive in which all disguises shall be rent from every heart, and the secret sins with which you are chargeable, and which you have glossed over by artful apologies, shall be displayed to your own consciences, and manifested to an assembled world, in their proper and odious characters.

For Adam's sin God was justly displeased; and while he denounced suited vengeance on the serpent, the woman, and the man; the ground also for his sake was accursed. And this leads us to notice

II. The malediction pronounced on the ground for man's sake.

The earth was cursed with barrenness,-was to be productive only of thorns or thistles,-yet, fruitful when cleansed and cultivated by man's labor.

The unfruitfulness of the soil, is a punishment for man's sin; "for thy sake the ground is cursed." Now we see the efficacy of this punishment;

[ocr errors]

for though the earth could not suffer, toil and misery would be imposed on the sinner, by its unproductiveness. The curse is comprehensive; what large tracts of land are lying waste, or fruitful only in their own disgrace! You have heard of deserts of immense extent, through which no man passeth, and where no man dwells. How large a portion of the world is buried under stagnant and pestilential waters! How many of our fellow creatures have perished through famine and drought! What wide wasting misery has resulted from scanty harvests, or a total failure of crops! Was it so from the beginning? Is this to be pronounced "very good?" Does "the whole crea"tion groan and travail in pain together until "now," through any error in the original constitution of the world? Are these things the operations of Divine power? Is there not a cause? Yes, there is ample cause for these miseries; sin lies at the door: the land is barren, or yields but partially her strength for thy sake." "He "turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the water"springs into dry ground; a fruitful land into "barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell "therein."*

[ocr errors]

These obvious and mournful facts, are designed to teach us the malignity of sin; for we inherit the * Psalm cvii. v. 33, 34.

« PrécédentContinuer »