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Cursed is the ground for thy sake.
GENESIS, III. 17.
Of the original creation it is written,“ God saw every thing that he had made; and, behold, it was very good.” But soon the same great and good being is declared to have addressed the common father of the human family, in the affecting and awful words of our text; “Cursed is the ground for thy sake." As Adam was the
representative of his posterity, these words may be applied to the whole race of man. And they place before us the following sentiment,
God has, on man's account, cursed the earth.
I. To show how it appears that the earth is under the curse of God. That the earth is now in a state which is
different from its original formation, is evident to every human eye. It has, very generally, even in our view, a deformed and unhappy appearance. It shows, by many marks, that it is under the curse of God.
1. It is subject to a great degree of barrenness, in respect to useful productions. There are on earth extensive regions, that are a gloomy waste, without a tree, or plant, or blade of grass, or fountain of water. Many portions of the earth are destitute of useful productions for the support and enjoyment of human beings. Nor is any part of the earth now made to yield its fruits, without much care and labor. But as the earth was first formed, it was so enriched and blessed by the power and goodness of God, that its productions were spontaneous and abundant and most pleasant and useful. There must then have been a great change in the earth. And the change is of such a nature, as affords evidence, that the ground is cursed.
2. The earth now yields many productions that are hurtful. To Adam God said of the earth, “ Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” The unfriendly and destructive productions of the ground are exceedingly troublesome and vexatious. They increase the labor and care of men in the tillage of the earth. Sometimes they destroy the desired and expected fruits of their painful exertions.
3. The useful fruits of the ground are often injured by numerous insects and reptiles. These creatures frequently destroy, through large tracts of country and for many years in succession, the verdure and fruitfulness of trees that yield fruit. Pastures and meadows sometimes exhibit gloomy tokens of their pernicious and extensive ravages. Fields of grain are often injured and sometimes destroyed by devouring insects. Sometimes their ravages have been so extensive and destructive, that they have caused want, famine and distress through large regions. When the curse of God is brought upon the productions of the earth by means of such creatures, it is extremely humbling and afflictive to human beings.
4. The state and changes of the atmosphere are frequently destructive to the fruits of the earth and to human happiness. The air is subject to changes of heat and cold, of moisture and drought; and to winds, storms and tempests. These changes often injure and destroy the health and life of men. Scarcely a year, or any season of the year passes, without such changes of the weather as bring extensive injury upon the productions of the earth and defeat the exertions and expectations of its inhabitants. From the state of the air arise frosts and blasts, floods and drought and other evil effects, which destroy the fairest prospects and fondest hopes of the husbandman.
5. From the earth, in its present state, the greater part of the human family receive but a scanty and sorrowful subsistence. In most countries there have often been some persons, who have suffered and died for want of food. "In all countries many families are troubled and afflicted for what is necessary to preserve their lives. Even in this land, the people are generally obliged to be attentive, watchful and careful respecting their provi
sions. But if the earth had remained as it was originally created, it would have furnished, spontaneously, the most agreeable, plentiful and healthy food.
6. Mankind are subjected to painful labor and fatigue, in order to obtain from the earth what is necessary to support their lives. When God said to Adam, “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” he also said to him, “in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns, also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” It is with constant labor and sorrow that the greater portion of the human race obtain and receive their daily food. And they rarely cease from their cares and labors about the means of life, until they are removed from this world by sickness and death. This subjection to labor and fatigue, in order to support themselves in life, is in itself a great evil. Yet, in the present state of the earth, this painful and sorrowful subjection is unavoidable. It is the sentence of God himself. And it affords decisive evidence that God has cursed the earth for man's sake. It is now proposed,
II. To show why God has, on man's account, cursed the earth.
It is, unquestionably, on account of human wickedness that the earth is subject to the curse of God. Adam, the head and father of the human family, fell from his original holiness and became sinful. And mankind, as they are born into the world, become sinful creatures. In our context, God declared to Adam, that his sinful conduct was the cause that brought the curse upon the ground and made his condition so laborious and sorrowful. The universal sinfulness of mankind is the reason for which God has subjected the earth, in all ages, to the curse for man's sake. But it may be asked, why should God curse the earth for the wickedness of mankind ? To this question it may be answered,
1. The curse of God on the earth is a righteous expression of his displeasure against human wickedness. God is induced, by his holiness and goodness, to be displeased with unholy creatures. And there are many reasons for the manifestation of his displeasure against their sinfulness. When man sinned, he became a proper
object of the divine displeasure. The curse, which God has brought on the earth for man's sake, affords in his daily labor and care and even in his food, a constant and affecting testimony of the divine displeasure against human wickedness.
2. The curse of God upon the earth, for the wickedness of mankind, is a constant evidence of their unworthiness and ill-desert. As sinners are proud, selfish and haughty, it is only by the most humbling conviction, that they become sensible of their guilt. When they are subjected to the divine displeasure, in what is necessary to their very subsistence, they cannot easily prevent an impression of their ill-desert.
3. The evils that are brought on the earth by the curse of God, lay a powerful restraint upon human wickedness. If men could obtain, without labor and care, a plentiful and agreeable subsistence, they would, with their present character, indulge themselves in wickedness without restraint. Then the whole world would be like Sodom and Gormorrah. But they must now labor for their support, or die for want of food. The present state of the earth imposes a constant restraint upon
the wickedness of mankind. 4. The curse of God on the earth affords affecting motives for mankind to return to him for spiritual and eternal blessings. If they were in easy and affluent circumstances and could remain in such a state, without their care and labor, they would be regardless of eternal realities and of their spiritual necessities. The degree of temporal prosperity, which is sometimes granted to human beings, is a common occasion of persevering wickedness and eternal misery. The curse of God on earthly things affords powerful motives to seek a portion in that holy and happy state, which no curse, nor sorrow, can ever enter. From the subject of the present discourse, we may perceive,
1. The agreement between what is recorded in the Bible and plain facts. These facts respect the state of the earth and the temporal condition of mankind. These facts exists in all ages. They exist among all nations. In a greater, or less degree, they constantly affect every family and person. These facts are truly described in the Bible. And it is only from the Bible, that we learn the origin and reason of these facts. This is only one instance of agreement between the Bible and plain facts. There are many facts which agree with what the Bible teaches respecting the flood, the confusion of language, the origin and condition of different nations and the past and present state of the Jews. The history of the Christian church, the errors and delusions, divisions and contentions that have existed on religious subjects and the preservation of real piety and holiness, with the true ỉnowledge and worship of God on earth, agree with the predictions and instructions of the Scriptures. So do the moral character and condition of mankind in all ages. The very enmity, unbelief and objections of infidels and atheists against the God of the Bible and the gospel of his grace, confirm the divine origin of the Scriptures. So far as we have a knowledge of facts in this world, they agree with the statements in the Bible. And facts, at the final judgment and in the future world, will doubtless agree with the Bible on these subjects.
2. There is reason to believe, that when mankind truly turn to God, he will, in a great degree, remove the curse from the earth. They will then be prepared to receive and enjoy his blessing, in their temporal affairs, to his glory and their own good. God blessed, or cursed, his ancient people according to their conduct towards him. When all nations shall fear and serve God, there is reason to believe, the whole earth will receive the peculiar blessing of heaven in its productions. It is written, “ Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us." When the earth shall be relieved from the burdens and plagues of war and other moral evils, the time and strength of men, in respect to their temporal affairs, will generally be employed in agriculture. Improvements in agriculture, at a future day, will far exceed what we can now imagine. When mankind shall truly serve and honor God, they will be greatly honored and blessed by him in all their concerns.
3. Since God has good reasons to curse the earth for the wickedness of mankind, they have no reason to murmur against him for the evils which they suffer in their temporal interests. They naturally withdraw their hearts from God; and seek and pursue worldly objects