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DISCOURSE IX.

An Homily or Sermon concerning the Nativity or Birth of our Bleffed Lord and Savior Jefus Chrift.

I EPIST. JOHN iv. 9.

In this was manifefted the love of God towards us, because that God fent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

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F the various creatures that God made in the
beginning of the world, all which were
equally excellent as to their particular ufes, and
truly wonderful in their kind; the holy fcripture
affures us, that none was in any respect to be com-
pared to man; who as far exceeded all the reft, in
the beauty and dignity of his body, and especially
in the powers of his mind or understanding, as the
fun in the firmament exceeds the fmalleft ftar in
light and brightnefs. Nor could it be otherwife,
for he was made at first after the likeness of God, as
to that degree of perfection that was neceffary to
render him worthy the work of the great Creator.
By the likeness of God, is to be understood, that spi-
ritual virtue, that innocence, and holiness of mind,
wherein he did refemble his Maker, and not any
likeness of his shape or figure as a man.
For God is
a pure fpirit, to whom nothing of human form
can poffibly be likened. This being the cafe, man
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confequently must have been originally poffeffed of 'all manner of divine gifts that were effential to the happiness of his ftation. He was free from the leaft taint of impurity. He was a perfect creature both within and without. His reafon was fufficient to direct him; his understanding clear and found; his will difpofed to obedience and godlinefs; and in fhort, we cannot more fully exprefs the feveral excellencies of his nature, before the fall, than by that defcription which God infpired his fervant Mofes to record in Gen. ii. and 7th ver. So God created him in his own image, in the image of God created he him; that is, wifdom, truth, and righteousness, and perfect in every capacity.

Thus happily formed, the Almighty, as a mark of his great love to man, appointed him a particular part of the earth for his refidence, which he called Paradife, and which fignifies a place of extraordinary delight. In this bleffed place he lived in all peace and pleasure, having abundance of every worldly comfort, and wanting nothing that could be really profitable, or effentially gratifying to his wifhes. For we are told in the viiith Pfalm, and 6th and 7th verfes, God made him to have dominion over the works of his hands, and put all things in fubje&tion under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beafts of the field; the fowls of the air, and the fifhes of the fea; to use them at his own difcretion, according as his neceffities required. Surely we cannot fail to pronounce him an object of grateful admiration in this ftate, and that according to our ideas of good, it must have been completely blissful. We cannot imagine any poffible addition to have been made, or greater temporal happiness to have been bestowed upon him. And this convinces us of the foulness of our first parent's trefpafs; for, inftead of strengthening their gratitude and obedience for all thefe choice and bountiful endowments, their profperity and ease ungratefully inclined them to forget, (not only them

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themfelves, as being dependent creatures, indebted to their Maker for all they had received) but they also forgot God, and his juft title to their obedience. And though they had but one eafy commandment given them, and with the confequence of their difobedience to it, they were moft graciously informed, viz. that they should not eat of that fruit which would convey the knowledge of good and evil (because in the day they eat thereof, they should moft furely die) yet they did moft carelefly, or rather wilfully difcbey; breaking that ftrict and merciful command of the Creator, and yielding to the falfe and ruine ous fuggeftions of the devil, that wicked fpirit, who tempted, and deceived them in the form of a ferpent. It came to pafs accordingly, that upon the abuse of his free will, man, who before was bleffed, became accurfed. As he was naturally beloved, when he reflected the image of his Maker, by his innocence, and perfections, fo now he was as neceffarily the object of his displeasure; for having defaced that likeness by his rebellion; having been guilty of fin, which is hateful to God, as being contrary to his divine nature; it brought on fuch a change of conftitution, as expofed him to heavy, and merited punishment. Inftead of continuing any longer beautiful and valuable in the fight of his Maker, as the admirable effect of his unerring workmanship, he became vile and wretched, he could no longer stand before Him, but bid himself inftinctively from his all puré prefence. Instead of bearing the image of God, as at firft created, he now bore the image of the devil in his fallen nature. Inftead of a candidate for greater happiness than even that at first beftowed upon him, he became a flave to fin and mifery; no traces of his former uprightnefs remained, but being polluted, and degenerated from his firft eftate, he was only capable of following fin, and therefore, by the juft judgment of an all perfect and all powerful God, he H 3 became

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became fubject to the threatened fentence upon
his difobedience, even no lefs than DEATH ETER-

NAL.

Had the confequence of the tranfgreffion affected only the original offender, the mifery of the plague would not have been fo forely felt. But as in the wife defign of God, Adam was ordained to be the father of a race of creatures like himself; that is, partaking of the nature he poffeffed, and confequently perfect, had he remained fo; fo when he had wilfully corrupted this purer nature, his pofterity of courfe partook of his disorder, by the fa.elaws which had he kept his innocence, would have affured them. happiness. The taint, therefore, became entailed on all his generation to the end of time, so that all who defcended from the loins of Adam, experienced the fame effect of the fall; and inheriting the fin, they likewife incurred the punishment which their ungrateful progenitor had rafhly deferved. And this the apoftle St. Paul afferts very plainly, (in the vth chap. of his Epistle to the Romans, 18th and 19th verfes) For by one man's difcbedience many were made frers; and by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation: which words moft clearly teach us, that as by Adam fin entered into the world, in that all men fin, and come short of the glory of God, which they would have fhewn had they continued according to their first creation by him; fo all men equally inherit the reward or confequence of fin, that is, become mortal, or are fubject to death having in themselves, through this change of nature, no profpect but to be cut off from this life by fick nefs, when the body is worn out, or by accident to which it is continually expofed ; and hereafter to be fhut out from the face of the Almighty; becaufe nothing impure or finful can ftand before him and live. And this ftate, in fact, is the utmost of eternal death or mifery, as to the worft poffible defcription that can be formed of it.

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The Pfalmift alfo decribes the fallen ftate of man in these most grievous terms, Pfalm xiv. 4. They are all gone out of the way; they are altogether become abominable; there is none that doth good, no not one.

Nothing can afford us a ftronger proof of the dreadful nature of fin, than that a fingle violation of God's law fhould tend in itself to deftroy the whole race of man: and which makes good St. James's affertion, that to offend in one point renders us guilty of all; for one deviation from the rule of right, introduced the whole body of fin. So incapable were our first parents of themselves, after having forfeited God's favor, of any recovery, that but for his gracious and unbounded love in the redemption, they must have yielded to the power of fin continually in this life, and after having paid the debt of death in this nature, have for ever experienced the unavoidable punishment that is due to it. A most woeful ftate, to fall from life to death; from blifs ineffable, to as certain ruin; from heaven, in fhort, to hell!

Having now laid before you this fhort hiftory of man's creation and his fall, you will be better prepared to taste the boundless goodness of the Creator in his regeneration or recovery. Though the creature, as has been fhewn, had by wilful wickedness occafioned himself to be driven from the fight of his Maker, and neceffarily to be feparated from his his love or notice, yet God, in the depth of his mercy and infinite wisdom of his fore-knowledge, had provided for this otherwife irrecoverable condition of the finner. He ordained a new covenant, which is by diftinction, called the covenant of grace or free favor. It is ftyled free, because man, instead of having any way deserved it, had on the contrary made a covenant with death and ruin. The bond or pledge of this covenant, treaty, or engagement, was the fure promife that God would in due time fend the MESSIAH, that is,

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