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ways be an effort to depart from righteousness, so at least it unquestionably is in every human being till a de liberate course of wickedness has sealed up to perdition by transmitting every temper into those of a fiend; and it is much to be questioned whether the great master of nature, who has ennobled our present theme in his immortal poem, did not strike the master-key of moral feeling when he represents the apostate fiend as planning the seduction of our hapless progenitors, but at the same time revolting from the idea of the havoc he was about to make, till he armed his resolution with suggestions false and feverish,
and with necessity “The tyrant's plea excused his devilish deed.” It was to a principle laudible and highly useful in itself he addressed his temptation in the case of Eve: it was through a feeling most amiable and of legitimate exercise be reached the better fortified resolutions-of Adam; and it was by giving way to feelings thus excited, that our unhap py parents fell.For fall they did from their high estate of innocence and happiness, into what depths of pollution and wretchedness let all the world declare!
The story of this disaster is both short and simple. Surrounded as they were with every bounty of nature and furnished with every facility for making the most of these advantages; under one of the finest climates and in one of the most favored spots of earth-as the earth then was, before the judgments of the Almighty scathed it; with paradise for their home, the wide world for their inheritance; their was but one slight check upon the freedom of their wills, one solitary prohibition which was to mark their subjection to the universal çuler and prove alike the test of their fealty and love. "Of all the trees of the
garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
We are often asked by the captious or the confident why this prohibition of an indulgence in itself so very indifferent? And we are often compelled to listen to com plaints of the severity of the judgment that awarded perdition to man and desolation to the earth for so slight an offence as the eating of an apple. But with how much reason you yourselves shall judge. Nothing can be more plain than the Creator's right to assign to his creatures any particular grade in the scale of being, and any particular privileges in the rank allotted to them, which he himself sees fit. Nor can any just claim be advanced for our continued possession of any of these privileges, or even for the prolongation of existence longer than he sees proper. This much the creation has a right to claim, that there shall be freedom from suffering while there is freedom from sin; and that he who creates us with appetites and wants shall provide in sufficiency the means of their indulgence. Because to inflict pain on innocence would be of the essence of tyranny; to create beings with appetites but without the means of gratification, would be only another form of providing pang for innocence, it would be adding cruelty to tyranny.
So long then as man remained without a law, he would have had a right to the enjoyment placed within his reach; but he could have no right to plead the continuation of his happiness, or even of the existence on which it was engrafted. This security must be conveyed to him either by an absolute promise, which also guaranteed his innoconce; or it must be provided for by the provisions of a
covenant, on his adherence to which all his hopes were suspended.
It is sufficient for us to know that sovreignty and wisdom chose the latter course. Chose that man should make proof of bis obedience, should earn a just title to eternal hapu piness, then reap the blessing as a meed from justice. Now what kind of obedience.would be the best test of his devotion? obedience to the requisitions of the moral law? should he be tested by the commandment thou shalt not kill, thon shalt not bear false witness? Man was created in the image of his Maker: feelings of kindness were his natural feelings: to depart from the truth would require a strong and most unnatural effort. There could be no self-denial in abstaining from courses so opposite to the strong propensities of his being. There could be no kind of merit, no proof of bis allegiance in doing by commandment what he did by Dature.
The test must then he grounded on some indifferent thing, something neither prompted nor forbidden by his nature, that the commandment from God might be the alone reason of his course. It is madness then to say that the offence was small, because the trial was of so slight a texture. If but one tree was forbidden while the riches of paradise lay open to his grasp, then so much more gentle the trial that was alloted him-then so much feebler the temptation that might assail him--then so much fouler the ingratitude and daring the atrocity which for so paltry an indulgence would cast off subjection to the sway of the Eternal, and brave the fiercest of his lightnings. No, it was not a slight offence that thus snapped the bands that bound the earth to heaven, the hopes of the creature to the throne of God. And it swells in its proportions--it
deepens in its hues, because the temptation to it was of 80 little force.
Nor was this arrangement less favorable in its bearings than it was easy in its conditions. For though it is true that death was denounced upon violation of the commandment, yet life was as infallibly connected with its observ. ance. The very fact that life was 60 secured, provided a gainst ruin from any other quarter. Omnipotent grace then bound all other gates of death: eternal truth stood pledged to shield from suffering-infinite wisdom guaran teed man's innocence, unless it should be violated in this single way. It was the certain inlet to eternal life: guard this and God engaged that he should never fall. It was the only outlet to eternal death: neglect it, and ruin was the immediate consequence. Was it not then a dispensation most considerate thus to narrow the ground of human watchfulness; to reduce to a single point the question of obedience; and instead of leaving man to guard in his own strength the ten thousand doors by which death might enter in-instead of devolving on every child of Adam the task of working out his own title by such trials, and that amid the vicissitudes of childhood and of youth-was it not an act of kindness most considerate to try the destinies of creation by a restraint so very gentle, and that in a person so admirably fitted to give good promise of the is. sue. Nay, my friends, had that trial issued otherwise, it would have received far other comment from the sons of Adam. No man would have then complained of the bending of the terms. No language could have expressed our sense of so much kindness, while smiles of gratulation perched on every lip, and notes of joy and thankfulness swelled high from every tongue,
Indeed so secure were the terms of our eternal happiDess, so easy of observance, and so unlikely to be violated, that the arch-tempter never hoped to compass Adam's fall by a direct proposal to exchange his noble prospects for a consideration so very paltry. Adam was too intelligent, his sense of rectitude too strong, bis appetites too well rego ulated to admit a thought of his seduction by such a gross proposal. If assailed successfully it must be in some other way. That way was but too obvious. The noble crea. ture who had been given for his help afforded fairer prospect in a first attempt. She did not stand like Adam the head of human kind. The same deep sense of responsibility did not rest therefore upon her mind. The command which entered deeply into the heart of Adam would press less heavily on her mind, because received under circumstances of a less impressive character, and probably only known to her as reported by her husband. Of judgment too less solid, there was far better chance to mislead her understanding: of fancy and of feeling more delicate and lively, there seemed an easier task to work on her ambition. And then, if in his temptation of the woman he succeeded, her agency bid fairer than all the considerations which either appetite or ambition might have prompted to work this fearful downfall. To the lively fancy and aspiring mind of Eve he accordingly addressed himself. But he must do it in a way that should not alarm suspicion. “The serpent was more cunning than all the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made." Eve would therefore be less surprised at strong indications of intelligence in such a being, and her suspicion would be far less likely to be roused by temptation from that quarter. Accordingly into the body of the serpent the temp