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-to bring forth creatures, which, as they inhabited a grosser element, so they were, in general, of a more stupid nature; endowed with fewer senses, and less understanding, than other animals. The bivalved shell fish, in particular, seem to have no sense but that of feeling, unless, perhaps, a low measure of taste; so that they are but one degree above vegetables. And even the king of the waters, (a title which some give the whale, because of his enormous magnitude,) though he has sight added to taste and feeling, does not appear to have an understanding proportioned to his bulk. Rather he is inferior therein, not only to most birds and beasts, but to the generality of even reptiles and insects. However none of these then attempted to devour, or in any wise hurt one another. All were peaceful and quiet, as were the watery fields wherein they ranged at pleasure.
12. It seems the insect kinds were at least one degree above the inhabitants of the waters. Almost all these too derour one another, and every other creature which they can conquer. Indeed such is the miserably disordered state of the world at present, that innumerable creatures can no otherwise preserve their own lives, than by destroying others. But in the beginning it was not so. The paradisiacal earth afforded a sufficiency of food for all its inhabitants; so that none of them had any need or temptation to prey upon the other. The spider was then as harmless as the fly, and did not then lie in wait for blood. The weakest of them crept securely over the earth, or spread their gilded wings in the air, that wavered in the breeze and glittered in the sun, without any to make them afraid. Meantime, the reptiles of every kind were equally harmless and more intelligent than they; yea, one species of them was more subtle,” or knowing, “than any of the” brute creation" which God had made." 13. But, in general, the birds, created to fly in the open
firmament of heaven, appear to have been of an order far superior to either insects or reptiles; although still considerably inferior to beasts : as we now restrain that word to quadrupeds, four-footed animals, which, two hundred years ago, included every kind of living creatures. Many species of these are not only endowed with a large measure of natural understanding, but are likewise capable of much improvement by art, such as one would not readily conceive. But among all these there were no birds or beasts of prey; none that destroyed or molested another; but all the creatures breathed in their several kinds, the benevolence of their great Creator.
14. Such was the state of the creation, according to the scanty ideas which we can now form concerning it, when its great Author, surveying the whole system at one view, pronounced it “ very good !” It was good in the highest degree whereof it was capable, and without any mixture of evil. Every part was exactly suited to the others, and conducive to the good of the whole.
a golden chain,” to use the expression of Plato, “let down from the throne of God;" an exactly connected series of beings, from the highest to the lowest ; from dead earth, through fossils, vegetables, animals, to man, created in the image of God, and designed to know, to love, and to enjoy his Creator to all eternity.
II. 1. Here is a firm foundation laid on which we may stand, and answer all the cavils of minute philosophers; all the objections which "vain men,” who "would be wise," make to the goodness or wisdom of God in the creation. All these are grounded upon an entire mistake; namely, that the world is now in the same state it was at the beginning. And upon this supposition they plausibly build abundance of objections But all these objections fall to the ground, when we observe, this supposition cannot be admitted. The world at the beginning was in a totally different state from that wherein we find it now. Object, there. fore, whatever you please to the present state, either of the animate or inanimate creation, whether in general, or with regard to any particular instances; and the answer is ready: These are not now as they were in the beginning. Had you, therefore, heard that vain king of Castile, crying out with exquisite self-sufficiency, “ If I had made the world, I would have made it better than God Almighty has made it;" you might have replied, “No: God Almighty, whether you know it or not, did not make it as it is now. He himself made it better, unspeak ably better than it is at present. He made it without any blemish, yea, without any defect. He made no corruption, no destruction, in the inanimate creation. He made not death in the animal creation; neither its harbingers, sin and pain. If you will not believe his own account, believe your brother heathen: it was only
Post ignem æthereâ domo
Subductum,that is, in plain English, after man, in utter defiance of his Maker, had eaten of the tree of knowledge, that
Macies et nova febrium
Terris incubuit cohors ;that a whole army of evils, totally unknown till then, broke in upon
rebel man, and all other creatures, and overspread the face of the earth.”
2. “Nay,” (says a bold man,* who has since personated a Christian, and so well, that many think him one!) “ God is not to blame for either the natural or moral evils that are in the world ; (for he made it as well as he could ;) seeing evil must exist in the very nature of things.” It must in the present nature of things, supposing man to have rebelled against God: but evil did not exist at all in the original nature of things. It was no more the necessary result of matter, than it was the necessary result of spirit. All things then, without exception, were very good. And how should they be otherwise? There was no defect at all in the power of God, any more than in his goodness or wisdom. His goodness inclined him to make all things good; and this was executed by his power and wisdom. Let every sensible infidel, then, be ashamed of making such miserable excuses for his Creator! He needs none of us to make apologies, either for him, or for his creation. his way is perfect;" and such originally were all his works; and such they will be again, when the Son of God” shall have" destroyed (all] the works of the devil."
3. Upon this ground, then, that “God made man upright," and every creature perfect in its kind, but that man “ found out to himself many inventions" of happiness independent on God; and that by his apostasy from God, he threw not only himself but likewise the whole creation, which was intimately connected with him, into disorder, misery, death; upon this ground, I say, we do not find it difficult to
“ As for God, “ Justify the ways of God with men.” For although he left man in the hand of his own counsel, to choose good or evil, life or death; although he did not take away the liberty he had given him, but suffered him to choose death, in consequence of which the whole creation now groaneth together ; yet, when we consider, all the evils introduced into the creation may work together for our good, yea, may "work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," we may well praise God for permitting these temporary evils, in order to our eternal good : yea, we may well cry out, - Oh the depth both of the wisdom" and the goodness of God! “ He hath done all things well.” “Glory be unto God, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever!”
SERMON LXII.-On the Fall of Man. “ Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," Gen. iii, 19. 1. Why is there pain in the world? Seeing God is "loving to every man, and his mercy is over all his works ?" Because there is sin : had there been no sin, there would have been no pain. But pain (supposing God to be just) is the necessary effect of sin. But why is there sin in the world ? Because man was created in the image of God: because he is not mere matter, a clod of earth, a lump of clay, without sense or understanding; but a spirit like his Creator, a being endued, not only with sense and understanding, but also with a will exerting itself in various affections. To crown all the rest, he was endued with liberty; a power of directing his own affections and actions ; a capacity of determining himself, or of choosing good or evil. Indeed had not man been endued with this, all the rest would have been of no use: had he not been a free, as well as an intelligent being, his understanding would have been as incapable of holiness, or any kind of virtue, as a tree or a block of marble. And having this power, a power of choosing good or evil, he chose the latter: he chose evil. Thus“ sin entered into the world," and pain of every kind, preparatory to death.
2. But this plain, simple account of the origin of evil, whether natural or moral, all the wisdom of man could not discover, till it pleased God to reveal it to the world. Till then, man was a mere enigma to himself; a riddle which none but God could solve. And in how full and satisfactory a manner has he solved it in this chapter ! In such a manner, as does not indeed serve to gratify vain curiosity, but as is abundantly sufficient to answer a nobler end; to
“ Justify the ways of God with men.” To this great end, I would, first, briefly consider the preceding part of this chapter; and then, secondly, more particularly weigh the solemn words which have been already recited.
I. 1. In the first place, let us briefly consider the preceding part of this chapter. "Now the serpent was more subtle,” or intelligent, “ than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made," ver. 1;-endued with more understanding than any other animal in the brute creation. Indeed there is no improbability in the conjecture of an ingenious man,*
* The late Dr. Nicholas Robinson.
that the serpent was endued with reason, which is now the property of
And this accounts for a circumstance, which, on any other supposition, would be utterly unintelligible. How comes Eve not to be surprised, yea, startled and affrighted, at hearing the serpent speak and reason; unless she knew that reason, and speech in consequence of it, were the original properties of the serpent ? Hence, without showing any surprise, she immediately enters into conversation with him, “And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden ?" See how he, who was a liar from the beginning, mixes truth and falsehood together! Perhaps on purpose, that she might be the more inclined to speak, in order to clear God of the unjust charge. Accordingly, the woman said unto the serpent, ver. 2,“ We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden : but of the tree in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Thus far she appears to have been clear of blame. But how long did she continue so ? " And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know, that, in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened ; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,” verses 4, 5. Here sin began; namely, unbelief. “ The woman was deceived,” says the apostle. She believed a lie : she gave more credit to the word of the devil, than to the word of God. And unbelief brought forth actual sin: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit and did eat;' and so completed her sin. But “the man,” as the apostle observes, “ was not deceived." How then came he to join in the transgression? “She gave unto her husband and he did eat." He sinned with his eyes open. He rebelled against his Creator, as is highly probable,
“not by stronger reason moved,
But fondly overcome with female charms." And if this was the case, there is no absurdity in the assertion of a great man, “ That Adam sinned in his heart, before he sinned outwardly; before he ate of the forbidden fruit;" namely, by inward idolatry, by loving the creature more than the Creator.
2. Immediately pain followed sin. When he lost his innocence, he lost his happiness. He painfully feared that God, in the love of whom before his supreme happiness consisted. “He said,” verse 10, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid." He fled from him, who was, till then, his desire, and glory, and joy. He "bid him self from the presence of the Lord God, among the trees of the garden." Hid himelf! What from the all-seeing eye? The eye which, with one glance, pervades heaven and earth? See how his understanding likewise was impaired! What amazing folly was this! Such as one would imagine very few, even of his posterity, could have fallen into. So dreadfully was his “foolish heart darkened” by sin, and guilt, and sorrow, and fear. His innocence was lost; and, at the same time, his happiness and his wisdom. Here is the clear, intelligible answer to that question, How came evil into the world ?
3. One cannot but observe, throughout this whole narration, the inexpressible tenderness and lenity of the almighty Creator, from whom they had revolted; the Sovereign against whom they had rebelled
" And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou ?”—thus graciously calling him to return, who would otherwise have eternally Aed from God. "And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked.” Still here is no acknowledgment of his fault ; no humiliation for it. But with what astonishing tenderness does God lead him to make that acknowledge ment? “And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?” How camest thou to make this discovery? “Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat ?" “ And the man said, [still unhumbled, yea, indirectly throwing the blame upon God himself,] The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” “And the Lord God (still in order to bring them to repentance) said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done ?" Verse 13, “And the woman said, [nakedly declaring the thing as it was,] The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, [to testify his utter abhorrence of sin, by a lasting monument of his displeasure, in punishing the creature that had been barely the instrument of it,] Thou art cursed above the cattle, and above every beast of the field.–And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Thus, in the midst of judgment, hath God remembered mercy, from the beginning of the world; connecting the grand promise of salvatior with the very sentence of condemnation !
4. “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and [or, in) thy conception: in sorrow (or pain] thou shalt bring forth children;"-yea, above any other creature under heaven, which original curse we see is entailed on her latest posterity. “And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” It seems, the latter part of this sentence is explanatory of the former. Was there, till now, any other inferiority of the woman to the man, than that which we may conceive in one angel to another? “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee:"-useless, yea, and hurtful productions; whereas nothing calculated to hurt, or give pain, had, at first, any place in the creation. " And thou shalt eat the herb of the field :"—coarse and vile, compared to the delicious fruits of paradise ! “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground : for out of it wast thou taken : for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
II. 1. Let us now, in the second place, weigh these solemn words, in a more particular manner. “ Dust thou art :”—but how fearfully and wonderfully wrought into innumerable fibres, nerves, membranes, muscles, arteries, veins, vessels of various kinds! And how amazingly is this dust connected with water, with inclosed, circulating fluids, diversified a thousand ways, by a thousand tubes and strainers! Yea, and how wonderfully is air impacted into every part, solid, or Auid, of the animal machine; air not elastic, which would tear the machine in pieces, but as fixed as water under the pole! But all this would not avail, were not ethereal fire intimately mixed both with this earth, air, and water. And all these elements are mingled together in the most VOL II.