Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

LETTER III.

of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing heavenly Muse -

MILTON.

UUR first progenitors, when recent from the hand of Omipotence, were perfect models of human excellence, possessed a nature untainted by sin, and capacitated to abide in the perpetual enjoyment of paradise. But, alas! the trial of their filial obedience 'soon terminated in the most heinous act of rebellion. Their listening to the vile insinuations of Satan, opened a door for the entrance of sin, the existence of which was immediately evidenced by actual transgression. Thus were their understandings darkened, their affections depraved, and the condition on which felicity was promised, completely violated. The loss of original recti.

tude rendered all their future services imperfect; and, of course, inadequate to secure the happiness formerly annexed to obedience. Perfect obedience and perfect happiness were inseparably connected.

But this offence was not attended merely with a privation of present happiness: it was a forfeiture of all claim to future blessedness. Our first parents stood as condemned criminals at the bar of their beneficent Creator; and in consequence of their detestable ingratitude, became obnoxious to the punishment threatened in case of disobedience to the divine precept. But the evil did not terminate with them. Adam stood as the federal head of the numerous posterity that should spring from his loins: they were considered as one with him, as interested in his happiness. The forfeiture, therefore, of God's favour, which was his proper life, extended itself to all his natural descendants. They were involved in his guilt, and subject to the same condemnation. The violation of that original covenant not only polluted and disarranged the constituent prin.

ciples of his nature, but impressed the same hereditary stains on all his descendants, and subjected the whole progeny to those penalties which had been incurred by its first propaga

tor.'

Thus, Adam, having by transgression, virtually renounced his allegiance to the best of sovereigns, became the vassal of that treacherous adversary who, by the power of temptation, had stripped him of all his pristine glory and happiness. He forsook the standard of his beneficent Creator, and enlisted under the banner of Satan. After his example all his posterity naturally copy. They cheerfully obey the crafty dictates of the same tyrannical sove. reign. It is said, without exception, “They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no not one.' They are led captive by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. All the pow. ers and faculties of the soul, and all the members of the body, are under his control, and devoted to his service. God is not in all their

thoughts-nay, the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.'

It is allowed, indeed, that there is a vast disparity, as to moral turpitude, between the actions of individuals. Some men, in a comparative view, may be properly denominated virtuous, and others completely vicious : and the number of those is not small, who regulate their lives, not by the standard of religion, but by the measure of other men's virtue: who lull their own remorse with the remembrance of crimes more atrocious than their own, and seem to believe that they are not bad while another can be found worse. Very different, however, were the conclusions of the learned and excellent Boerhaave, who relates, that he never saw a criminal dragged to execution without asking himself, "Who knows whether this man is not less culpable than I?' But the concession I have made does not in the least militate against the doctrine of universal and equal depravity: because every perceptible gradation of excellence arises, I presume, not from one man being less corrupt than another, but from the interposition of God, operating by natural causes, with a view to subserve his own glory in the government of a world entirely under the dominion of sin. Every christian may with propriety say, If I have not, like David, committed murder and adultery; nor with Peter, denied the Lord that bought me, it is not because my nature is less depraved, but because I have been either kept out of the way of temptation, or preserved from falling by it.

[ocr errors]

The interposition of God in restraining the evil propensities of human nature is strikingly exemplified in the character of Hazael. After Elisha, the prophet, had answered the inquiry of Benhadad the king of Syria, he fixed his countenance stedfastly on the messenger, and wept. Then Hazael said, Why weepeth my Lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel : their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children ; and rip

« AnteriorContinuar »