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benefit us. Even the renewed visitations of his love in our hearts, if resisted, will be so far from securing our final salvation, that they will add a heavy load to our condemnation.
The condition of man before the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh, has sometimes been brought into view. Divine Goodness, in providing the means of salvation for fallen man, by sending his beloved Son into the world, to "taste death for every man," was pleased to defer that outward manifestation, until, by a course of instruction, mankind could be prepared to receive Him. And He whose view takes in, at once, the past, the present, and the future, made it apply, as respected salvation, before, as well as after the time of Christ's advent. The fathers “drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. x. 4. Though light, knowledge, and many spiritual favours, have been more abundantly diffused since the coming of Jesus Christ, yet, as a means of salvation, his Grace was dispensed before that time, as well as after. This, as William Penn expresses it, was “ on the credit” of what was promised in the very sentence pronounced on our prime ancestors.
Through all the early ages, the condition of the human mind, and its capacity for understanding in Divine things, required that there should be much outward form and ceremony, addressed to the outward senses, and illustrative of the great work of Redemption. From a low and servile state, they were to be led, like children in the first rudiments of science, through several dispensations, until, “in the fulness of time,” the Messiah came, and introduced a pure and spiritual dispensation—abrogating the types and ceremonies, which were designed to lead to Him, and granting a more copious effusion of his own Divine influence, than had been communicated under the preceding dispensations.
Having thus briefly stated the doctrine of the Original and Present State of Man, with a few hints relating to the different dispensations, it may not be improper to advert to another subject which has been slightly brought into view.
In the account which is given in Scripture, of the transgression of our first parents, it appears they were tempted by an evil agent, * distinct from man : and that this agent prompted them to sin, when they were in their original innocence.
Through'all ages, and under almost all degrees of darkness or light which have prevailed, however the doctrines of religion may have been obscured, by successive innovations on those truths which God has been pleased to reveal, the great outlines of theology have been deeply impressed on the minds of men. Wherever we go, among civilized or uncivilized nations, we still find traces of the belief of a Great First Cause, and Superintending Power—the Source of all good, and the Object of adoration. We find also evidences of a belief that there is a principle or spirit, malignant in its nature, and the source of all evil. The accountability of man for his actions, &c. is another sentiment extensively believed. These first principles appear under various modifications, according as they have been viewed through the medium of light or darkness; but all retaining clear evidences of a common origin, which could have been no other than Divine revelation. Even the darkest system of polytheism, if carefully investigated, discovers traces of such revelation. But the human mind, not resting satisfied with what is received through this medium, has, through all ages, possessed a strong disposition to bring down Divine things to the level of its own unaided capacity. Hence, among heathen nations, the attributes of the Deity, and the virtues which adorn the human character, were personified, and denominated deities; and then attempted to be made visible to the outward senses. Hence all those contemptible things that have been made the objects of veneration and worship, under the general term of idols. The human mind is not yet divested of the same propensity, leading it to leave the ground of all true knowledge in Divine things, and, in the strength, or rather weakness, of its own faculties, to build up some system, which, like an idol, made visible to the outward senses, and at all times accessible to the creature, is at all times open to creaturely comprehension.
* In using the term AGENT, I intend to convey the idea of a being possessing
But returning from this little digression, and without further pursuing the fables of the ancients, or the parallels between them and the more refined speculations of later times, it may not be improper to introduce the sentiments of some of the first distinguished members of the Society of Friends, on the subject before us.
George Fox, in his Journal, vol. 2. page 22, [p. 345 fol. ed. 1765.) says : “ The Devil abode not in the Truth. By departing from the Truth, he became a devil.” 66 There is no promise of God to the Devil, that ever he shall return into the Truth again ; but to man and woman who have been deceived by him, the promise of God is, that the Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head-shall break his power and strength to pieces."
Page 402, [618. fol ed.] he says : “The Devil, who is out of the Truth, tempted man and woman to disobey God; and so drew them into the fall from the Truth.”
William Penn, in his “Rise and Progress,” in speaking of the original condition of man, says : “But this happy state lasted not long : for man, the crown and glory of the whole, being tempted to aspire above his place, unhappily yielded against command and duty, as well as interest and felicity; and so fell below it, lost the Divine Image, the wisdom, power, and purity, he was made in. By which, being
no longer fit for Paradise, he was expelled that garden of God, his proper dwelling and residence, and was driven out, as a poor vagabond, from the presence of the Lord, to wander in the earth, the habitation of beasts. Yet God who made him had pity on him ; for He, seeing man was deceived, and that it was not of malice, or an original presumption in him, (but through the subtility of the serpent, who had first fallen from his own estate, &c.) in his infinite goodness provided a way to repair the breach."
The same author, in his Christian Quaker, says : “ The world had not been long created, before man, being envied by Lucifer, the fallen angel, was betrayed of his innocence by him.” (Vide Barclay's Works, fol. edit. pp. 391, 625. Also Ellwood's Sac. Hist. on the fall of Adam.)
From these and many other passages that might be mentioned, it is clear that the Society, from the beginning, have believed that the principle of evil, on the one hand, and the Grace which brings salvation, on the other, are both distinct from man, and form no part of him, other than as he yields his mind and members servants to either.
On examining whether the serpent could have been any thing that constituted a part of the woman, it will be proper to remember, that male and female were created in the Divine Image ; and in this Image there could be nothing that, of itself, separated from the Divine will : or else there must have been discordant properties in the Divine nature; properties repulsive to each other, and which of themselves separated from each other ; thus producing its own dissolution. But these are conclusions we dare not admit. That Image, which constituted the character and the dignity of man, as he came pure from the hands of his Creator, though it fell infinitely short of the Divine Original, was still a true copy; and the different capacities and attributes, if I may be allowed the expression, all harmonized and
Even while Eve was reciting the Divine command, and the penalties of disobedience, the tempter denied the truth of the declaration of the Almighty. This evidently was sinful; but it was before Eve had sinned. Through the whole account recorded in the Scriptures, the tempter is represented as distinct from the man and woman. they were represented to be distinct agents in the transgression, so judgment was passed upon each, separately and distinctly.
When the question was propounded to Adam: “Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat ?” he endeavoured to excuse himself, by placing the blame on the woman ; and Eve, in like manner, to excuse herself, laid the blame on the serpent who had beguiled her. What extenuation of the crime could it have been, to say, that she had beguiled herself? Or how could she have said, that something of the Divine Image which she possessed beguiled her ?
Thus far the Omniscient Judge proceeded with interrogatives and expostulations; knowing that his frail and fallen creatures had been tempted, and thus drawn into sin : and therefore mercy and forbearance were extended to them. But towards the tempter, the grand enemy, there was no expostulation, no indulgence; but the curse unmixed, unmitigated, descended on him. In the several sentences pronounced on that occasion, the idea of distinct and separate agents is preserved throughout : and more particularly as relates to the serpent : “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. The line of separation is so completely drawn, that we cannot blend the two objects of this sentence in one.
When the promised Messiah came, and was about entering on his important mission, He was led of the Spirit