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which kings and prophets desired to see but only saw afar off. May the blessing of God accompany our meditations!
GENESIS IV. 1.
" And Eve bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man
from the Lord.”
Our journey to-day leads us back to the far-distant, dim, and misty past. The words of the text carry us to the commencing point of the history of our race—to the very
threshold of the scarcely closed Paradise. In spirit we pay
visit to our great ancestors; not to be a witness of their misery, but for another and more joyful reason. Though their first glory has passed away, yet a new one shines forth to-day, and casts a halo over their existence. Hark! the advent-bells are chiming over the lost earth! “Christ and the first sinners" is the title of this day's contemplation. To this Christ let us now direct our eyes, and consider him in the hope of our first parents—in their supposed possession of him—and in their longing and desiring love.
Where is it that we meet our first parents ? Alas! we need no longer knock at the gate of the garden of Eden. No longer does the voice of man sound from
but instead we hear the words thundered forth, “Away from hence!" and the flaming sword of the cherubim presents to us a fearful barrier. The Fall,
which draws along with it such disastrous conse quences, has taken place; the light of the divine image has been turned into darkness; the decree of Eternal Justice has interposed, and the "murderer from the beginning" is now rejoicing at his own manifold and gigantic triumph. The whole human race have fallen into his snare, and a world lies expose machinations on the lost field of combat. The first created of our race dwell no more in the holy place of God: driven from their Father's house, we meet them to-day upon a soil, over which the Almighty has pronounced the curse of his fierce anger. They rest no longer like beloved and confiding children on the bosom of their Creator ; for, alas! sin has been committed; and heaven is now gathering its black clouds over their heads. They who a short time before were the lords of earth and of all that therein is, are now exposed to the fury of the elements; and all the powers of nature seem leagued against them. They who had personal intercourse with Jehovah, who were nourished by his hands, and who received from his table those fruits of life which no earthly tree can now bear,--they must by the sweat of their brow compel the fields to afford them the bread of sorrow; cultivate the stubborn earth, which is more inclined to produce thorns and thistles than the wholesome grain ; and, weighed down by cares and sufferings, they must struggle and toil to procure every temporal gratification. Everywhere the sword of the cherub is to be seen. Everywhere they must use force to protect their own lives; and they
ot even defend themselves from the beasts of the
field but by destroying or subjecting them. Alas! a curse is upon all, and the universal misery may well give occasion to the wise man's complaint, "For what hath a man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun ? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief.”
A miserable hut or wanderer's tent hastily put together, is the dwelling in which we now find the former inhabitants of Paradise. They have been obliged to take refuge here; for all nature, as we said before, wields against them a cherub's sword, and persecutes them with cold and storms, hail and thunderbolts. They are clad with the skins of wild animals, and, like ourselves at present, are surrounded by unceasing cares and toils; while death and the grave are hovering in the distance. They might perhaps accommodate themselves to these miserable circumstances, were it not for the terrible contrast between their present and former condition. They are not like those who merely fall from affluence into poverty. Alas! they are kings deprived of their crown, princes and rulers who have exchanged a throne of glory for a bed of straw, a sceptre for a beggar's staff. This remembrance of the bright and beautiful past, must be to them now the bitterest drop in their cup of suffering. The sunshiny splendour, not yet faded away, of the days that are gone, can only serve to show more strikingly the mournful present in all its gloom and darkness. Yet this hard fate might be borne—this host of eternal evils and afflictions might be supported—were it not for the worm within the weight upon their conscience--the
fearful conviction of having involved their whole posterity along with themselves in destruction—the total change and disorganization of their characters once so perfect-the law of sin in their members—and the feeling in their miserable souls of the divine anger, and of that curse which burns down even into hell! O my God! what overwhelming misery and woe!
How shall we find those unfortunates? Can we find them otherwise than weeping and wringing their hands ? Grief must already have almost consumed them, and plunged them in the very abyss of despair. Certainly one might well have expected this. But lo! what do we behold? We step nearer, and find every thing completely different; and the mournful picture which we a moment ago beheld in spirit, has now vanished into air. It is true that Adam, once the king of earth, now labours in the fields, tilling the ground and planting seed, the sweat meanwhile dropping from his brow; nevertheless he is joyful and of good courage, as if he had never known a higher and better condition. Eve, formerly so beautiful and glorious, is now no longer a queen, but, surrounded by cares and toils, she labours within the compass of her narrow dwelling; yet it seems as though she no longer missed the delights of Paradise, for she is as serene and contented as if she had always been accustomed to her present miserable habitation. How different from all we had expected! We should have thought that even in the brilliancy of the morning red, the flaming sword of the cherub would have appeared to them. But no! they salute the coming morn with outstretched arms, and
praise the name of the Lord. We should have thought that
every morsel of the bread which they eat would be bathed in tears before it reached their mouths. Not so. They eat their bread in silent cheerfulness, and, with smiles of thankfulness on their countenances, look up from the gifts they enjoy, towards their heavenly Giver. It does indeed astonish us to behold in those fallen ones such unexpected composure and serenity. It does not proceed merely from a sense of security, and far less from presumption and defiance of their Creator; but happiness is depicted in every look and every motion, because the divine compassion has been shown, and their God has once more received them. Yes, already the cross shines, though but with a feeble glimmer, through the midst of the clouds which have darkened their early existence. Already, through the night of misery and woe, we can distinguish the joyful words, “ There is a rest at hand.” In the horizon of the future we see a new Paradise blooming for them; and it seems as though we beheld an angel with a palm branch in his hand passing through their dwellings; for the joyful promise is heard, “ A Saviour is coming.” Happy for us, we all know this great and glorious word, which in a moment removed the unutterable sorrow of our first parents, and with a hand of power dried up their tears. We know that blessed gospel, which clad their heaven in the brilliant hues of morning, and sounded day and night in their ears, as a clear and joyful advent-bell. Immediately after the Fall, the Almighty consoled the trembling sinners; and opening his mouth, said to the serpent, “I will put enmity be