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state of probation; and also of unreserved submission to the authority and will of God; and an implicit resignation to his supreme wisdom and good
5. This test of their obedience, from the nature of it, "tended to habituate them to keep their sensitive appetite in subjection to the law of reason; to take them off from too close an attachment to inferior sensible good; and engage them to place their highest happiness in God alone."
6. This injunction not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, would also tend, "to keep their desires after knowledge within just bounds, so as to be content with knowing what was really proper and useful for them to know; and not presume to pry with an unwarrantable curiosity into things which belong not to them, and which God has not thought fit to reveal."
Now who can seriously meditate upon these valuable considerations, without being affected at the goodness of God in commanding, and at the baseness of man in transgressing such a reasonable test of his obedience?
This law was truly a law of love; and the breach of it was the highest instance of ingratitude and rebellion.
How inconceivably great is the grace of God, that at the very time, when he came down to pronounce the sentence of death upon his offending creatures, he should reveal, by promise, an Almighty Saviour, even HIMSELF, who should destroy the power of darkness, finish transgression, make an end of sin, bring in everlasting righteousness, and form a people to shew forth his praise!
If we examine attentively the foregoing considerations, we shall find that nothing was imposed upon Adam, that we are not now commanded to perform
with respect to the spiritual part of the injunction. We must love God supremely-acknowledge our dependence upon him-seek our whole happiness in him-delight in his law-be resigned to his will -keep our sensitive appetites in subjection-and check all unhallowed curiosity into the ways and wisely hidden things of God.
Every deviation from this state of heart and practice is a deviation from the holy law of God; and, as a necessary consequence, entails guilt and misery upon us.
Thus we see, that happiness is inseparable from obedience. We learn from hence, that misery and wretchedness do not depend upon our station, but on the state of our souls.
Adam in paradise was happy, whilst innocent. Adam in paradise was miserable, when guilty. The law delivered on Mount Sinai is a standing revelation of the holiness of God; and the various precepts of the Gospel are all in consonance with these pure and undefiled commandments. Both the injunctions of the moral law, and the precepts of the Gospel, were virtually included in the original law given to our first parents in paradise, thus forming a chain of holiness from the beginning to the end of time.
It resembles a beautiful flower, of which the bud is seen in Eden; the expanding leaves on Mount Sinai, and its glowing beauties in Immanuel's land.
Heaven is its native soil. There shall all the trees of righteousness be finally transplanted; and there shall the lovely flowers of paradise expand their beauties, and spread their fragrance, fed by perpetual dews of heavenly grace, and screened for ever from the blasting pestilence of this sinful world.
O blest Redeemer, Lord divine!
What is the world but grief and care;
Thy love, with beams of heavenly grace,
Terrestrial roses fade and die,
As the bright tints of evening sky;
O! blessed Spirit, to my heart,
V. ON UNBELIEF.
Unbelief is a sin of much greater extent, than is generally imagined.
Some persons confine the sin of unbelief to Jews, Mahomedans, and Pagans; to atheists, deists, and sceptics.
They deem it a breach of charity to charge this moral evil -upon those who profess to believe the Gospel to be a revelation from God; and who exhibit in their outward character, the amiable virtues of benevolence, kindness, and compassion.
But if we bring what the world denominates faith, to the test of Scripture, and try its genuineness by the touchstone of the word of God, we shall soon discover it to be "reprobate silver." This counterfeit coin bears some rude outlines of the King's image; but it is so badly executed, that it may be easily detected by a spiritual discerner.
True faith is lively, operative and fruitful.
True faith works by love, that sacred spring, which sets all the wheels of obedience in motion.
True faith purifies the heart, by uniting the soul to Jesus, and drawing from him, through the Spirit, continual supplies of grace and strength, to mortify sin, and walk in the ways of holy obedience.
True faith overcomes the world, by raising the believer above its vanities and follies; by enabling him to renounce its pomps and honours; and to live as a pilgrim and stranger upon earth.
True faith realizes the invisible glories of heaven, and thus becomes the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
But how does the world's faith operate? leads men to the house of God on the sabbath; and then suffers them to attend theatres, and gaieties of every description through the week.
It induces them to attend the Lord's table on some great festival of the church, and then lulls their consciences to sleep by the assurance that they have done "some great thing" towards liquidating the contracted debt of daily transgression.
It prompts them, it may be, to read their Bibles on the sabbath, and then to close the sacred volume till the sabbath returns again.
The faith of the nominally Christian world, bad as it is, is nevertheless valuable to civil society; inasmuch as it restrains men in some degree from the licentious and savage practices of heathen nations,
and preserves some portion of external decency and respect for religion amongst us. But it has nothing saving in it, because it has no respect to the will and favour of God. This profession of faith is consistent with worldly ambition, pride, lust, avarice, hatred of God, and enmity to the Gospel. These evils abound in the lives of multitudes, with whose praises the world resounds.
Look at the great mass of our population, all of whom profess to be Christians. And what is the character of their life and conduct? who fill the theatres? who resort to houses of debauchery? who tread the giddy circles of maddening pleasure? who compose the midnight revel, and lose their reason amid the fumes of intoxication? who defraud and circumvent their neighbours? who defile their conversation by obscenity and oaths? who spend their time, when worldly business releases them from labour, in idle indulgences, or active wickedness ? The nominal professors of Christianity; men who would be highly offended if you ranked them amongst the degraded idolaters of the heathen world-men, who pride themselves upon their elevated scale in society, and who glory in the name of Christian. Yet these pretended admirers of Christianity abhor the spirit of the religion which they profess. They scruple not to charge the humble followers of Jesus, who "run not with them to the same excess of riot," with hypocrisy, enthusiasm, and fanaticism. They regard them with a sneer of contemptuous scorn; and delight to make them the sportive subject of their bacchanalian carousals.
Many of these enemies of the cross of Christ are loaded with the common bounties of an indulgent providence.
"They lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of