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exact proportion ; so that while the body is in health no one of them predominates, in the least degree, over the others.
2. Such was man, with regard to his corporeal part, as he came out of the hands of his Maker. But since he sinned, he is not only dust, but mortal, corruptible dust. And by sad experience we find, that this “corruptible body presses down the soul.” It very frequently hinders the soul in its operations; and, at best, serves it very imperfectly. Yet the soul cannot dispense with its service, imperfect as it is : for an embodied spirit cannot form one thought, but by the mediation of its bodily organs. For thinking is not, as many suppose, the act of a pure spirit; but the act of a spirit connected with a body and playing upon a set of material keys. It cannot possibly, therefore, make any better music, than the nature and state of its instruments allow it. Hence every disorder of the body, especially of the parts more immediately subservient to thinking, lay an almost insuperable bar in the way of its thinking justly. Hence the maxim received in all ages, Humanum est errare et nescire. Not ignorance alone, (that belongs, more or less, to every creature in heaven and earth; seeing none is omniscient, none knoweth all things, save the Creator,) but error is entailed on every child of man. Mistake, as well as ignorance, is, in our present state, inseparable from humanity. Every child of man is in a thousand mistakes, and is liable to fresh mistakes every moment.
And a mistake in judgment may occasion a mistake in practice ; yea, naturally leads thereto.-I mistake, and possibly cannot avoid mistaking, the character of this or that man. I suppose him to be what he is not ; to be better or worse than he really is. Upon this wrong supposition I behave wrong to him; that is, more or less affectionately than he deserves. And by the mistake which is occasioned by the defect of my bodily organs, I am naturally led so to do. Such is the present condition of human nature; of a mind dependant on a mortal body. Such is the state entailed on all human spirits, while connected with flesh and blood !
3. “And unto dust thou shalt return." How admirably well has the wise Creator secured the execution of this sentence on all the offspring of Adam! It is true, he was pleased to make one exception from this general rule, in a very early age of the world, in favour of an eminently righteous man. So we read, Gen. v, 23, 24: After Enoch had “walked with God three hundred sixty and five years, he was not; for God took him:"-he exempted him from the sentence passed upon all flesh, and took him alive into heaven. Many ages after, he was pleased to make a second exception; ordering the prophet Elijah to be taken up into heaven, in a chariot of fire,—very probably by a convoy of angels, assuming that appearance. And it is not unlikely, that he saw good to make a third exception, in the person of the beloved disciple. There is transmitted to us a particular account of the apostle John's old age; but we have not any account of his death, and not the least intimation concerning it. Hence we may reasonably suppose that he did not die, but that after he had finished his course, and “walked with God” for about a hundred years, the Lord took him, as he did Enoch ; not in so open a manner as he did the prophet Elijah.
4. But setting these two or three instances aside, who has been able, in the course of near six thousand years, to evade the execution of this sentence, passed on Adam and all his posterity? Be men ever so great
masters of the art of healing, can they prevent or heal the gradual decays of nature ? Can all their boasted skill heal old age, or hinder dust from returning to dust ? Nay, who, among the greatest masters of medicine, has been able to add a century to his own years? Yea or to protract his own life any considerable space beyond the common period ? The days of man, for above three thousand years, (from the time of Moses at least,) have been fixed, by a middling computation, at three score years and ten. How few are there that attain to four score years ? Perhaps hardly one in five hundred. So little does the art of man avail against the appointment of God!
5. God has indeed provided for the execution of his own decree, in the very principles of our nature. It is well known, the human body, when it comes into the world, consists of innumerable membranes exquisitely thin, that are filled with circulating fluids, to which the solid parts bear a very small proportion. Into the tubes, composed of these membranes, nourishment must be continually infused; otherwise life cannot continue, but will conie to an end almost as soon as it is begun. And suppose this nourishment to be liquid, which, as it flows through those fine canals, continually enlarges them in all their dimensions; yet it contains innumerable solid particles, which continually adhere to the inner surface of the vessels through which they flow; so that in the same proportion as any vessel is enlarged, it is stiffened also. Thus the body grows firmer, as it grows larger, from infancy to manhood. In twenty, five and twenty, or thirty years, it attains its full measure of firmness. Every part of the body is then stiffened to its full degree ; as much earth adhering to all the vessels, as gives the solidity they severally need to the nerves, arteries, veins, muscles, in order to exercise their functions in the most perfect manner. For twenty, or,
may be, thirty years following, although more and more particles of earth continually adhere to the inner surface of every vessel in the body, yet the stiffness caused thereby is hardly observable, and occasions little inconvenience. But after sixty years, (more or less according to the natural constitution, and a thousand accidental circumstances, the change is easily perceived, even at the surface of the body. Wrinkles show the proportion of the Auids to be lessened, as does also the dry-1 ness of the skin, through a diminution of the blood and juices, which before moistened and kept it smooth and soft. The extremities of the body grow cold, not only as they are remote from the centre of motion, but as the smaller vessels are filled up, and can no longer admit the circulating fluid. As age increases, fewer and fewer of the vessels are pervious, and capable of transmitting the vital stream; except the larger ones, most of which are lodged within the trunk of the body. In extreme old age, the arteries themselves, the grand instruments of circulation, by the continual apposition of earth, become hard, and, as it were bony, till, having lost the power of contracting themselves, they can no longer propel the blood, even through the largest channels; in consequence of which, death naturally ensues. Thus are the seeds of death sown in our very nature! Thus from the very hour when we first appear on the stage of life, we are travelling towards death: we are preparing, whether we will or no, to return to the dust from whence we came!
6. Let us now take a short review of the whole, as it is delivered with inimitable simplicity; what an unprejudiced person might, even from
hence, infer to be the word of God. In that period of duration which he saw to be most proper, (of which he alone could be the judge, whose eye views the whole possibility of things from everlasting to everlasting,) the Almighty, rising in the greatness of his strength, went forth to create the universe. “In the beginning he created," made out of nothing, “the matter of the heavens and the earth :" (so, Mr. Hutchinson observes, the original words properly signify :) then “the Spirit (or breath] from the Lord,” that is, the air, “ moved upon the face of the waters.” Here were earth, water, air ; three of the elements, or component parts of the lower world. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” By his omnific word, light, that is, fire, the fourth element, sprang into being. Out of these, variously modified and proportioned to each other, he composed the whole. "The earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed, and the tree yielding fruit after his kind;" and then the various tribes of animals, to inhabit the waters, the air, and the earth. But the very heathen could observe,
Sanctius his animal mentisque capacius altæ
Deerat adhuc! There was still wanting a creature of a higher rank, capable of wisdom and holiness. Natus homo est. “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him!" Mark the emphatical repetition. God did not make him mere matter, a piece of senseless, unintelligent clay; but a spirit, like himself, although clothed with a material vehicle. As such he was endued with understanding ; with a will, including various affections; and with liberty, a power of using them in a right or wrong manner, of choosing good or evil. Otherwise, neither his understanding nor his will would have been to any purpose; for he must have been as incapable of virtue or holiness, as the stock of a tree. Adam, in whom all mankind were then contained, freely preferred evil to good. He chose to do his own will, rather than the will of his Creator. He“ was not deceived," but knowingly and deliberately rebelled against his Father and his King. In that moment he lost the moral image of God, and, in part, the natural : he commenced unholy, foolish, and unhappy. And " in Adam all died;" he entitled ali his posterity to error, guilt, sorrow, fear, pain, diseases, and death,
7. How exactly does matter of fact, do all things round us, even the face of the whole world, agree with this account ? Open your eyes ! Look around you! See darkness that may be felt; see ignorance and error; see vice in ten thousand forms; see consciousness of guilt, fear, sorrow, shame, remorse, covering the face of the earth! See misery, the daughter of sin. See, on every side, sickness and pain, inhabitants of every nation under heaven; driving on the poor, helpless sons of men, in every age, to the gates of death! So they have done well nigh from the beginning of the world. So they will do, till the consummation of all things.
8. But can the Creator despise the work of his own hands ? Surely that is impossible! Hath he not then, seeing he alone is able, provided a remedy for all these evils ? Yea, verily he hath! And a sufficient remedy, every way adequate to the disease. He hath fulfilled his word; He hath given “ the Seed of the woman to bruise the serpent's head.” "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life." Here is a remedy provided for all our guilt: He “bore all our sins in his body on the tree.” And “if any one have sinned, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” And here is a remedy for all our disease, all the corruption of our nature. For God hath also, through the intercession of his Son, given us his Holy Spirit, to renew us both in knowledge, in his natural image ;-opening the eyes of our understanding, and enlightening us with all such knowledge as is requisite to our pleasing God ;-and also in his moral image, namely, “righteousness and true holiness." And supposing this is done, we know that “all things (will] work together for our good." We know by happy experience, that all natural evils change their nature and turn to good ; that sorrow, sickness, pain, will all prove medicines to heal our spiritual sickness. They will all be to our profit; will all tend to our unspeakable advantage; making us more largely “partakers of his holiness," while we remain on earth; adding so many stars to that crown which is reserved in heaven
9. Behold then both the justice and mercy of God !-his justice in punishing sin, the sin of him in whose loins we were then all contained, on Adam and his whole posterity ;-and his mercy,in providing a universal remedy for a universal evil; in appointing the second Adam to die for all who had died in the first ; that, “as in Adam all died, so in Christ all [might] be made alive;" that, “as by one man's offence, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one,” the free gift might “come upon all, unto justification of life,”—“Justification of life," as being connected with the new birth, the beginning of spiritual life, which leads us, through the life of boliness, to life eternal, to glory.
10. And it should be particularly observed, that“ where sin abounded, grace does much more abound.” For not as the condemnation, so is the free gist; but we may gain infinitely more than we have lost. We may now attain both higher degrees of holiness, and higher degrees of glory, than it would have been possible for us to attain. If Adam had not sinned, the Son of God had not died : consequently that amazing instance of the love of God to man never had existed, which has, in all ages, excited the highest joy, and love, and gratitude from his children. We might have loved God the Creator, God the Preserver, God the Governor ; but there would have been no place for love to God the Redeemer! This could have had no being. The highest glory and joy of saints on earth, and saints in heaven, Christ crucified, had been wanting. We could not then have praised Him, that, thinking it no robbery to be equal with God, yet emptied himself, took upon him the form of a servant, and was obedient to death, even the death of the cross! This is now the noblest theme of all the children of God on earth; yea, we need not scruple to affirm, even of angels, and archangels, and all the company of heaven.
" Hallelujah,” they cry,
To the Lamb that was slain,
And liveth again
SERMON LXIII.- On Predestination. “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son:-whom he did predestinate, them he also called : and whom he call. ed, them he also justified : and whom he justified, them he also glorified,” Rom. viii, 29, 30.
I. “Our beloved brother Paul,” says St. Peter, "according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction," 2 Pet. iii, 15, 16.
2. It is not improbable, that among those things spoken by St. Paul. which are hard to be understood, the apostle Peter might place what he speaks on this subject, in the eighth and ninth chapters of his epistle to the Romans. And it is certain not only the unlearned, but many of the most learned men in the world, and not the “unstable' only, but many who seemed to be well established in the truths of the gospel, have, for several centuries, “ wrested" these passages “to their own destruction."
3. “Hard to be understood," we may well allow them to be, when we consider, how men of the strongest understanding, improved by all the advantages of education, have continually differed in judgment concerning them. And this very consideration that there is so wide a difference upon the head, between men of the greatest learning, sense, and piety, one might imagine would make all who now speak upon the subject exceedingly wary and self diffident. But I know not how it is, that just the reverse is observed in every part of the Christian world. No writers upon earth appear more positive, than those who write on this difficult subject. Nay, the same men, who, writing upon any other subject, are remarkably modest and humble, on this alone lay aside all self distrust,
"And speak ex cathedrâ infallible.” This is peculiarly observable of almost all those who assert the absolute decrees. But surely it is possible to avoid this: whatever we propose may be proposed with modesty, and with deference to those wise and good men who are of a contrary opinion; and the rather, because so much has been said already on every part of the question, so many volumes have been written, that it is scarcely possible to say any thing which has not been said before. All I would offer at present, not to the lovers of contention, but to men of piety and candour, are a few short hints, which perhaps may cast some light on the text above recited.
4. The more frequently and carefully I have considered it, the more I have been inclined to think, that the apostle is not here (as many have supposed) describing a chain of causes and effects; (this does not seem to have entered into his heart;) but simply showing the method in which God works; the order in which the several branches of salvation constantly follow each other. And this, I apprehend, will be clear to any serious and impartial inquirer, surveying the work of God either forwards or backwards; either from the beginning to the end, or from the end to the beginning.