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his ways, are unsearchable" to us, and past our finding out ; yet may we discern the general scheme, running through time into eternity. " Ac cording to the counsel of his own will,” the plan he had laid before the foundation of the world, he created the parent of all mankind in his own image; and he permitted all men to be made sinners, by the disobedience of this one man, that by the obedience of one, all who receive the free gift, may be infinitely holier and happier to all eternity!
SERMON LXV.-The General Deliverance.
" The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that subjected it:
" Yet in hope that the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth, and travaileth in pain together until now," Rom. viii, 19-22.
1. Nothing is more sure, than that as "the Lord is loving to every man," so “his mercy is over all his works ;" all that have sense, ail that are capable of pleasure or pain, of happiness or misery. In consequence of this, " He openeth his hand, and filleth all things living with plenteousness. He prepareth food for cattle,” as well as herbs for the children of men.” He provideth for the fowls of the air, “ feeding the young ravens when they cry unto him.” “ He sendeth the springs into the rivers, that run among the hills,” to "give drink to every beast of the field," and that even “ the wild asses may quench their thirst." And, suitably to this, he directs us to be tender of even the meaner creatures; to show mercy to these also. - “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn:"-a custom which is observed in the eastern countries even to this day. And this is by no means contradicted by St. Paul's question : " Doth God take care for oxen ?” Without doubt he does. We cannot deny it, without flatly contradicting his word. The plain ineaning of the apostle is, Is this all that is implied in the text ? Hath it not a farther meaning ? Does it not teach us, We are to feed the bodies of those whom we desire to feed our souls ? Meantime it is certain, God "giveth grass for the cattle," as well as “ herbs for the use of men.'
2. But how are these scriptures reconcilable to the present state of things? How are they consistent with what, we daily see round about us, in every part of the creation ? If the Creator and Father of every living thing is rich in mercy towards all ; if he does not overlook or despise any of the works of his own hands; if he wills even the meanest of them to be happy, according to their degree; how comes it to pass, that such a complication of evils oppresses, yea, overwhelms them? How is it that misery of all kinds overspreads the face of the earth? This is a question which has puzzled the wisest philosophers in all ages: and it cannot be answered without having recourse to the oracles of God. But taking these for our guide, we may inquire,
I. What was the original state of the brute creation ?
III. In what state will it be at the manifestation of the children of God?
I. 1. We may inquire, in the first place, what was the original state of the brute creation ? And may not we learn this, even from the place which was assigned them; namely, the garden of God ? All the beasts of the field, and all the fowls of the air, were with Adam in paradise. And there is no question but their state was suited to their place: it was paradisiacal; perfectly happy. Undoubtedly it bore a near resemblance to the state of man himself. By taking, therefore, a short view of the one, we may conceive the other. Now “ man was made in the image of God.” But “God is a Spirit :" so therefore was man: (only that spirit being designed to dwell on earth was lodged in an earthly tabernacle.) As such, he had an innate principle of self motion. And so, it seems, has every spirit in the universe; this being the proper distinguishing difference between spirit and matter, which is totally, essentially passive and inactive, as appears from a thousand experiments. He was, after the likeness of his Creator, endued with understanding; a capacity of apprehending whatever objects were brought before it, and of judging concerning them. He was endued with a will, exerting itself in various affections and passions; and, lastly, with liberty, or freedom of choice; without which all the rest would have been in vain, and he would have been no more capable of serving his Creator than a piece of earth or marble ; he would been as incapable of vice or virtue, as any part of the inanimate creation. In these, in the power of self motion, understanding, will, and liberty, the natural image of God consisted.
2. How far his power of self motion then extended, it is impossible for us to determine. It is probable, that he had a far higher degree both of swiftness and strength, than any of his posterity ever had, and much less any of the lower creatures. It is certain, he had such strength of understanding as no man ever since had. His understanding was perfect in its kind: capable of apprehending all things clearly, and judging concerning them according to truth, without any mixture of error. His will had no wrong bias of any sort; but all his passions and affections were regular, being steadily and uniformly guided by the dictates of his unerring understanding; embracing nothing but good, and every good in proportion to its degree of intrinsic goodness. His liberty likewise was wholly guided by his understanding: he chose, or refused, according to its direction. Above all, (which was his highest excellence, far more valuable than all the rest put together,) he was a creature capable of God; capable of knowing, loving, and obeying his Creator. And, in fact, he did know God, did un feignedly love, and uniformly obey him. This was the supreme perfection of man; (as it is of all intelligent beings;) the continually seeing, and loving, and obeying the Father of the spirits of all flesh. From this right state, and right use, of all his faculties, his happiness naturally flowed. In this the essence of his happiness consisted; but it was increased by all the things that were round about him. He saw, with unspeakable pleasure, the order, the beauty, the harmony, of all the creatures; of all animated, all inanimate nature; the serenity of the skies; the sun walking in brightness; the sweetly variegated clothing of the earth; the trees, the fruits, the flowers,
“And liquid lapse of murmuring streams." Nor was this pleasure interrupted by evil of any kind. It had no alloy of sorrow or pain, whether of body or mind. For while he was innocent he was impassive; incapable of suffering. Nothing could stain his purity of joy. And, to crown all, he was immortal.
3. To this creature, endued with all these excellent faculties, thus qualified for his high charge, God said, “ Have thou dominion over the lish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” Gen. i, 28. And so the Psalmist : « Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas," Psa. viii, 6, &c. So that man was God's vicegerent upon earth, the prince and governor of this lower world; and all the blessings of God flowed through him to the inferior creatures. Man was the channel of conveyance between his Creator, and the whole brute creation.
4. But what blessings were those that were then conveyed through man, to the lower creatures ? What was the original state of the brute creatures, when they were first created ? This deserves a more attentive consideration than has been usually given it. It is certain these, as well as man, had an innate principle of self motion ; and that, at least, in as high a degree as they enjoy it at this day. Again : They were erdued with a degree of understanding ; not less than that they are possessed of now. They had also a will, including various passions, which, likewise, they still enjoy : and they had liberty; a power of choice; a degree of which is still found in every living creature. Nor can we doubt, but their understanding too was, in the beginning, perfect in its kind. Their passions and affections were regular, and their choice always guided by their understanding.
5. What then is the barrier between men and brutes ? The line which they cannot pass ? It was not reason. Set aside that ambiguous term: exchange it for the plain word, understanding: and who can deny that brutes have this? We may as well deny that they have sight or hearing. But it is this : man is capable of God; the inferior creatures are not. We have no ground to believe, that they are, in any degree, capable of knowing, loving, or obeying God. This is the specific difference between man and brute; the great gulf which they cannot pass over. And as a loving obedience to God was the perfection of men, so a loving obedience to man was the perfection of brutes. And as long as they continued in this, they were happy after their kind; happy in the right state and the right use of their respective faculties. Yea, and so long they had some shadowy resemblance of even moral goodness. For they had gratitude to man for benefits received, and a reverence for him. They had likewise a kind of benevolence to each other, unmixed with any contrary temper. How beautiful many of them
were, we may conjecture from that which still remains; and that not only in the noblest creatures, but in those of the lowest order. And they were all surrounded, not only with plenteous food, but with every thing that could give them pleasure; pleasure unmixed with pain; for pain was not yet; it had not entered into paradise. And they too were immortal: for “God made nut death; neither hath he pleasure in the death of any living."
6. How true then is that word, "God saw every thing that he had made: and, behold, it was very good.” But how far is this from being the present case! In what a condition is the whole lower world !-10 say nothing of inanimate nature, wherein all the elements seem to be out of course, and by turns to fight against man. Since man rebelled against his Maker, in what a state is all animated nature ! Well might the apostle say of this ; " The whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now.” This directly refers to the brute creation. In what state this is at present we are now to consider.
II. 1. As all the blessings of God in paradise flowed through man to the inferior creatures ; as man was the great channel of communication between the Creator and the whole brute creation ; so when man made himself incapable of transmitting those blessings, that communication was necessarily cut off. The intercourse between God and the inferior creatures being stopped, those blessings could no longer flow in upon them. And then it was that “the creature,” every creature,
was subjected to vanity," to sorrow; to pain of every kind, to all manner of evils; not, indeed, willingly," not by its own choice, not by any act or deed of its own, but "by reason of him that subjected it," by the wise permission of God, determining to draw eternal good out of this temporary evil.
2. But in what respect was the creature,” every creature, then " made subject to vanity ?” What did the meaner creatures suffer, when man rebelled against God? It is probable they sustainod much loss, even in the lower faculties; their vigour, strength, and swiftness. But undoubtedly they suffered far more in their understanding, more than we can easily conceive. Perhaps insects and worms had then ag much understanding as the most intelligent brut have now: whereas millions of creatures have, at present, little more understanding than the earth on which they crawl, or the rock to which they adhere. They suffered still more in their will, in their passions; which were then variously distorted, and frequently set in flat opposition to the little understanding that was left them. Their liberty likewise was greatly impaired; yea, in many cases, totally destroyed. They are still utterly enslaved to irrational appetites, which have the full dominion over them. The very foundations of their nature are out of course; are turned upside down. As man is deprived of his perfection, his loving obedience to God; sc brutes are deprived of their perfection, their loving obedience to man. The far greater part of them flee from him ; studiously avoid his hated presence. The most of the rest set him at open defiance; yea, destroy him, if it be in their power. A few only, those we commonly term domestic animals, retain more or less of their original disposition, (through the mercy of God,) love him still, and pay obedience to him.
3. Setting these few aside, how little shadow of good, of gratitude, of benevolence, of any right temper, is now to be found in any part of the brute creation ! On the contrary, what savage fierceness, what unrelenting cruelty, are invariably observed in thousands of creatures; yea, is inseparable from their natures ! Is it only the lion, the tiger, the wolf, among the inhabitants of the forests and plains,—the shark, and a few more voracious monsters, among the inhabitants of the waters,– or the eagle, among birds,-that tears the flesh, sucks the blood, aud crushes the bones of their helpless fellow creatures ? Nay; the harmless fly, the laborious ant, the painted butterfly, are treated in the same merciless manner, even by the innocent songsters of the grove! The innumerable tribes of poor insects are continually devoured by them. And whereas there is but a small number, comparatively, of beasts of prey on the earth, it is quite otherwise in the liquid element. There are but few inhabitants of the waters, whether of the sea, or of the rivers, which do not devour whatsoever they can master : yea, they exceed herein all the beasts of the forest, and all the birds of prey. For none of these have been ever observed to prey upon their own species ;
Sævis inter se convenit ursis :
Even savage bears will not each other tear. But the water savages swallow up all, even of their own kind, that are smaller and weaker than themselves. Yea, such, at present, is the miserable constitution of the world ; to such vanity is it now subjected; that an immense majority of creatures, perhaps a million to one, can no otherwise preserve their own lives, than by destroying their fellow creatures!
4. And is not the very form, the outward appearance, of many of the creatures, as horrid as their dispositions ? Where is the beauty which was stamped upon them, when they came first out of the hands of their Creator ? There is not the least trace of it left: so far from it, that they are shocking to behold! Nay, they are not only terrible and grisly to look upon, but deformed, and that to a high degree. Yet their features, ugly as they are at best, are frequently made more deformed than usual, when they are distorted by pain; which they cannot avoid, any more than the wretched sons of men. Pain of various kinds, weakness, sickness, diseases innumerable, come upon them ; perhaps from within ; perhaps from one another; perhaps from the inclemency of seasons; from fire, hail, snow, or storm; or from a thousand causes which they cannot foresee or prevent.
5. Thus, “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; even so death passed upon all men ;” and not on man only, but on those creatures also, that“ did not sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression.” And not death alone came upon them, but all its train of preparatory evils; pain, and ten thousand sufferings. Nor these only, but likewise all those irregular passions, all those unlovely tempers, (which in men are sins, and even in brutes, are sources of misery,
passed upon all” the inhabitants of the earth; and remain in all, except the children of God.
6. During this season of vanity, not only the feebler creatures are continually destroyed by the stronger , not only the strong are destroyed by those that are of equal strength; but both the one and the other are exposed to the violence and cruelty of him that is now their common enemy, man. And if his swiftness and strength is not equal to theirs, yet his art more than supplies that defect. By this, he eludes all their force, bow great soever it be; by this he defeats all their swiftness ; and, notwithstanding their various shifts and contrivances, discovers all their retreats. He pursues them over the widest plains, and through the thickest forests. He overtakes them in the fields of air, he finds them ont in the depths of the sea. Nor are the mild and friendly creatures who still own his sway, and are duteous to his comman