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while it may be asked, what offence had the serpent tribe committed, and why were they degraded because of another's crime? We have only to reply, that the unintelligent creation are not properly in any case the subjects of moral government; if they be involved, it is only incidentally, and the degradations they suffer are incidental too. Meanwhile it is clear that on the serpent tribe no positive wrong has been inflicted. God assigns and may assign to his creatures any rank he pleases in the scale of his creation. Man may not complain that he was not made an angel; nor the oyster that it cannot cleave the ocean like the dolphin, or soar like the eagle high against the sun. If the serpent were lowered in the scale of creation, its appetites were lowered too. It recognizes no change, it feels no loss. Meanwhile to man there is taught an important Hesson, which God had a right to employ his creatures in illustrating. In fact this dispensation but conformed to a very general law, that every object, animate or inanimate, which has served to promote the purposes of sin, shall serve also as a memorial of God's holiness and justice. Thus was the fruitful vale of Sodom reduced to a bitter and fetid pool: thus was Babylon, the great patron of idolatry and the great seat of oppression, reft of all her glories, and rendered the habitation of every doleful creature: thus shall Rome, “the mother of abominations,” be consumed with fire, then sunk like a millstone into the depths of the sea: thus was this whole world visited at one time by an overwhelming flood, which buried in one vast ruin not only man the offender, but every work of man, every thing in nature that might perpetuate in any way the memory of his crimes. And thus we are taught that another day apapproaches in which the keen search of all-devouring fire
e will leave nothing unvisited, nothing unpurified which
man has polluted to the purposes of sin. So that while man is summoned to his last account, while man is startled by the braying of heaven's loud trumpet, his mother earth, the seat of his manifold enormities, earth racked in her bowels and wrapped in sheets of flame, shall toss and bellow like a stricken whale. According to this rule was the judgment of the serpent.
But the punishment of him who actuated the serpent was more pointed and severe. Between him and the woman's seed God announced perpetual enmity. He had succeeded indeed in involving hapless man in the guilt of his rebellion; he had taken a ready way to deface all the glories of this lower world; and he might suppose that his triumph was complete. That he and man united in rebellion and bound together in one common lot of misery, might together lay such plans. as fiends may execute, and point their united efforts against the throne of God.
Nay, says the judge, let not the tempter think so. Infinite wisdom shall confound this dark array. Infinite mercy shall break this league of wickedness. Man shall yet be linked in confederation with his Maker, and prodaim eternal enmity against his foul betrayer. This creation shall be rescued from the grasp of destruction, every vestige of its sin shall be destroyed; and redeemed, repaired, and more than ever beautified, she shall roll on in her eburse among the stars forever. And God, against whose honour this rebellion had been pointed; God, whose wisdom it was intended to render questionable, and the glory of whose goodness it was calculated to obscure, by pointing his vengeance against the creatures of his hand ;-God the all-sufficient shall retire from this contest, better known
and more beloved by all orders of intelligence, not only as the Being of immeasurable resources to correct and so control the mad efforts of his enemies, but as the God of unutterable tenderness, of unequalled fellow-feeling, and of a bounty that knows no bounds.
No, let not the tempter suppose his plans successful. Cunning as he is, that being must be cunning far beyond his measure, who by tortuous courses can outwit Omnis. cience. Strong as are the bands that now bind men and angels in one common interest and feeling against their Maker, these bands must be stronger ten thousand thousand times, or the arm of the Omnipotent can never fail to sever them.
No, let this foul fiend who now triumphs in his success, return to his den, carrying with him this assurance, that if cunning taught him to compass man's destruction in the body of a serpent, wisdom enables God to work out man's salvation in the person of a man. That if fellowship in guilt and in the destinies of misery have made man the frieod of Satan; fellowship with the Messiah, and a share in all his triumphs, shall make man the friend of God. Yes, let that tempter go, but not rejoicing in his momenta fun ry triumph. Let him bear with him the intelligence down to lowest hell, that his folly has prepared for man a higher i destiny, and for God a nobler triumph and a brighter fame, than could ever have been their's had man moved unseduced in the paradise below, and had God our Saviour dever left his throne on an errand of unutterable love. He has only provided for an illustrious triumph, when the lawful captive shall be released from his possession, the prey of the terrible wrested from his bands. For a while he may succeed to inflict on us many sorrows. he pain us; he may even shoot pang into the bosom of
Messiah, when he darts his pois nous fang into the heel of
But Messiah shall arise from the stroke of tempore al death; his redeemed shall all rise in immortal youth and vigor, and the universe shall judge to whom appertains the wisdom and the victory, when man thus risen lifts against the serpent his now invulnerable heel, and crushes his audacious head. Such was the judgment denounced against the tempter: a sentence conveyed in highly enigmatic language; but which you will find as we proceed through this course was still more and more explained. You know the way in which it has already been fulfilled. You know what myriads have broken league with the tempter, and have exerted every nerve in the service of his great and good antagonist. And heaven could now unfold to us, were our eyes but strengthened to pierce yon empyreanheaven could unfold to us her congregated hosts, redeemed from every country, the saved of every age, inheriting far other home than what the tempter had anticipated; now the objects of his envy, but no more of his attacks.
We must defer till next Lord's day, the judgments pronounced upon the other culprits. Nor have we time to add more than a single reflection upon
that which we have reviewed. Deceit is the great weapon of the adversary of God and
Deceit-cunning--the sly insinuating course is the common result of all who attempt improper objects. Let the sons of cunning learn that deceit will never prosper under the government of God. He is the defender of the right, he is the avenger of iniquity. “The shield of the stranger, the father of the fatherless, the husband of the widow, the champion of the oppressed.” All this he has andertaken. Will he neglect his charge. Let no man then glory in the success of his craftiness. He must be artful indeed if he circumvent Omniscience; he must be mighty indeed if he break those toils which the hand of Omnipotence is pledged to cast around him. Like Satan he may triumph in a momentary success; like Satan he will discover that his triumph was premature. Let no good man cultivate a crafty plotting spirit. If his object be a good one, it needs no such dubious aid; if it be a bad one, he ought never to pursue it. Let no pious man fear the machinations of the cunning. God is the protector, he has pitched his infinite wisdom against the arts of the deceiver; you have only to stand still and see his great salvation.
Let no great and gallant spirit demean his lofty feelings to point plot against plot, or to answer wile with wile. Freeborn sincerity is the attribute of nobleness. If he must act on the defensive, let it be in the light of heaven. Innocence is the native and the strongest fort ;of courage. And one single effort made in the strength of innocence will do more solid execution than ten thousand policies. An arrow thus shot will designate its course like lightning through the skies; it will fly terrific and decisive to its aim, as the thunderbolt of heaven. Ours then be the prayer of the deep reflecting psalmist, “remove far from me the way of lying;" and let all our conduct be modeled on that prayer.