صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Is not the account given by St. Paul and St. James a plain, reasonable representation of the power of the fleshly nature to strive against the spirit of divine wisdom in us, to tempt us and to lead us into sin which produces death ? And if this be the way that we are tempted, have we any reason to believe that it is not the way in which Eve was tempted in the beginning ?. Yea, is not this contentious sensual wisdom of the flesh, the serpent which beguiled the woman ? And is it not the same serpent which now beguiles both men and women and leads then into sin and death? Furtherinore, St. Paul says ; “Nov the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these ; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcrast, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” These works are all the natural productions of our fleshly, earthly nature, and the wisdom which is earthly, sensual, devilish, is the serpent which beguiles us. Now if we have found the real source of our own temptations, we have also found the source of the temptations of all mankind, not excepting the mother of our race. Flesh and blood was the same in the beginning as it is now, its powers were the same, its lusts were the same, its wisdom was the same, and it is to the powers and appetites of the flesh that every sin we commit may be traced.

St. Paul says; “ The woman being deceived, was in the transgression." Could she have been deceived if she had been truly wise ? No, but she was made subject to vanity. If she had been perfectly satisfied with her condition would she have disobeyed her Maker for the sake of being more wise? And was it not perfectly natural for her to wish to have ber husband with her in this wisdom ?

There appears nothing in this whole account that differs from our common experience and observation. There is no condition in which man can be placed, in the present state, that can bound his desires, or render him perfectly såtisfied with what he possesses. There has been much said concerning the happy, the consummately happy state in which Adam and Eve were placed in the garden; long accounts have been dressed up in all the beauties of rhetoric concerning the felicity of the bappy pair before transgression. But to describe the dreadful consequences of the first sin, the calamitous change which it effected in all nature here on earth, and the endless wo to which the whole posterity of Adam was exposed by it, has exhausted all the powers of human imagination. And yet, if we look for these things in the scriptures we find them pot. What is said of the happy state of our first parents before they knew good and evil ? Nothing. How does the word of divine revelation expatiate on the miserable state into which the first transgression brought man? It extends the subject no further than huinan experience in all ages of the world extends it. Sin was attended with guilt and fear according to the first account we have of it, and experience has taught us all, that guilt and fear are its natural consequences. But that the first trans

the sins which were committed afterward, we find no authority for believing. And what would be

the scriptures say concerning the state of endless wo to which the first sin exposed the whole human race? Why in fact we should search in vain to find any thing of the kind in the word of God. Even the serpent had no malediction pronounced on him, that either deprived him of his natural food or extended beyond his natural life ; much less, if possible, was there any suggestion, either to the man or the woman, that the consequences of their sin would extend into a future state.

All the vain notions which the earthly, sensual wisdom of this world has framed on this subject are evidences in support of what we have endeavoured to make evident, namely, that imperfection and sin manifest themselves in our strife to be wise by violating the word of God; and that vanity to which man is the most inclined, is seen in bis inventions by which he renders truth, which is perfectly simple in itself, obscure and mysterious.

But shall it be said, because God has made the creature subject to all this vanity, that he is therefore unfriendly to his offspring ? No, my brethren, this is not the case. Blessed be God, though in his infinite wisdom he saw best to subject his creatures to vanity in this mortal state, he has made extensive and ample provisions in his providence to render this vain state convenient in an infinite variety of ways, and has so bountifully scattered down his blessings that we have constant reason to rejoice in his goodness. He did not forsake man in the beginning of his career in sin, but though he manifested his holy disapprobation of the defection of his children, he made them sensible likewise of his fatherly kindness and unchangeable goodness. How affecting is the account we have of the voice of the Lord God in the cool of the day calling after Adam. How tender are the words ;“ Adam, Adam, where art thou?” Who can hear the language of divine mercy expressed in the promises of the seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent's head, without emotions of lively gratitude ? That all gracious, merciful Creator, who made the creature subject to vanity, subjected him in hope,

The reason assigned by the Apostle, why the creature was subjected to vanity in hope, he ex

presses in the verse following our text in these words; “ Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Just above he had said ; “The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs ; heirs of God, and joint. heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”

As the creature was not the author of this state of vanity, so he is not the author of that hope in which he is subjected ; no, nor is he the author of that glorious liberty of the sons of God into which the whole creation shall be delivered, from the bondage of corruption.

This hope of life and immortality, our kind and merciful Creator has implanted in our nature, and it seems to exist as universally as the idea of a supreme Being. Those notions which owe their origin to the inventions of priests, and their standing to the superstition of the ignorant are not universal; they are limited to certain denominations or nations, and have nothing in them which compares with the wisdom and goodness of the divine Being. But the universality of the hope of a future, happy existence, very fitly compares with the impartial goodness of God, from which circumstance it acquires no small share of its natural evidence.

But one of the principal objects of the gospel of Jesus Christ seems to have been to present us with full and adequate proof of the doctrine of a future happy state for all mankind,

Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle says; “Who bath Brought life and immortality to light through the

gospel.”

The hearer is cautioned against the notion, that our Saviour was sent into the world to go through a process in order to purchase, or procure life and immortality for man; for he came to suffer, die, and rise from the dead, that he might bring life and immortality to light; that is, that he might make that manifest which the creature groaned and travailed for, and which God had given unto us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

This glorious liberty of the sons of God, in hope of which the whole creation groans and travails in pain, is the inheritance of which we are joint-heirs with Christ. Jesus our fore-runner hath entered into glory, and being the head of every man, is « the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” : Froin the doctrine of our text may be drawn the following inferences :

· 1st. The opinion which bas long maintained that the first temptation which led to the introduction of sin into our world, was the instigation of a fallen Angel, appears to be without foundation or authority in the scriptures, which plainly indicate that the constitutional infirmities of flesh and blood are in fact the source from whence all sinful temptations rise. · 2d. That the common notion which christian people entertain and cultivate in the minds of their children, of an invisible agent, who was once a holy angel in heaven, that now continually accompanies people wherever they go, and is all the time tempting them to sin, is nothing more than an invention of the wisdom of the flesh, and is supported by no other

« السابقةمتابعة »