« AnteriorContinuar »
similitude of God, distinguished in excellency, and conspicuous in glory? Was man this illustrious, this blessed and happy creature? Was he the chief of all this lower creation, the being whom the great eternal delighted to honor; and did he view him with pleasure, when he pronounced him got only good, but very
Thirdly, This doctrine might with much propriety be improved in the way of gratitude and praise, humiliation and lamentation. In gratitude and praise for all the divine wonders of creating beneficence, in conferring such riches, honors, and happiness on man. In humiliation and lamentation : O man, O glorious man, from whence art thou fallen? How has thy glory forsaken thee, and thy beauty fled far from thee? All his riches, and honors, and pleasures are lost. The crown has fallen from his head. Instead of all calmness, peace, and tranquility within, nothing dwells in these once happy mansions, but anxious cares, jarring passions, and foreboding and tormenting fears. Instead of freedom from all apprehensions of alarms and dangers from without, every creature, animate and inanimate, is dressed in armour for his destruction. All heaven, earth, and hell are arrayed to hurl upon him eternal ruin. Here is an unwasting source of humiliation and lamentation. But I will not introduce you at present into the abodes of weeping and sorrow, of death, darkness and the grave,
THE PRIMITIVE COVENANT ALADE WITH MAN, OR
THE COVENANT OF WORKS.
GENESIS II, 16, 17.
And the Lord God commanded the mar, saying, of every trees , the garden, thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the know
ledge of good and evil, thou mayest not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
AS we have contemplated man in his primitive state of rectie tude as he came pure and perfect from the hands of his Maker, let us now consider the privileges he enjoyed, and the peculiar advantages under which he was placed for the service of his God, and the continuation of his felicity. He was, in a high degree, a favorite of heaven, and great immunities and privileges were granted to him, far beyond what a mere creature, however perfect, could, according to the strict laws of creation demand. Reason seems to require, that if God make a rational creature, før his service, that he should be perfect in his kind, and endowed with every qualification and accomplishment, necessary to enable him to answer the end of his creation, and for the continuance of his own happiness. It seems to be inconsistent with the justice and goodness of Jehovah, to form a creature in a state of sin and misery, or in such circumstances that this must be the necessary and unavoidable consequence. There appears nothing to an
[18 cye of reason inconsistent with the benevolence and lioliness of God, to create a rational being in a state of perfect righteousness, with powers to yield obedience to his will, and by such obedience, to continue and increase his own felicity, without stamping upon him immutability, or an impossibility of falling. This was the: very state in which man was created, and no doubt the state of the angels too. They were created perfectly holy or good, yet in their nature capable of sinning ; hence, multitudes of them fell, but much greater multitudes of them stood in the love and service, of their Maker, and. will.continue to stand in glary and blessedDess forever..
Man, in his original state of innocency, had not only conferred upon him every thing which the laws of creation required, but in. conceivably more_innumerable favours and honors were granted to him besides. He was placed in Eden, in a garden of pleasure, . planted by the hand of the Almighty, with every fruit tree, and cvery flower, which could please the eye, regale the senses, or gratify the taste. To him was given dominion over every creature, so that he was constituted sole Lord of the whole creation. He had the most intimate converse and unreserved communion with God. And besides all these dignities and honors, his Creator was pleased in astonishing condescension and grace, to enter into a covenant of life with him, which is commonly stiled, to distinguish it from all others, the covenant of works. Before we enter upon the consideration of the nature and conditions of this Covenant, or to bring forward the proofs, that such a covenant did really exist, there are two questions here, which are frequently asked. They are rather matters of curiosity than moment, and every one answers them according to the conjectural opinion of his own mind, without the infringement of any useful doctrine of religion.
The first question is, how long did Adam continue in his state ef innocency and happiness?
Various have been the conjectures in reply to this question. Some, in running the similitude between the first and second Adam, have supposed the former maintained his rectitude, as long as the latter lived upon earth ; if so, he must have supported his innocency for more than thirty three years at least. Many others. have supposed, that he fell the evening of the day in which he was created. But the greatest probability lies between these distant opinions. Upon the whole, after viewing all the conjectures on this subject, and as the scriptures are entirely silent upon it, it is most probable he did not hold his integrity for years, or even months—yet it is very likely to me, he stood for a number of days, perhaps a few weeks. We know there was business done between the creation and the fall, which must have taken time. It is probable that Eve was created the same day with her husband, and we find the next day sanctified for a sabbath, when all still remained very good. After this, we find the garden of Eden planted, the man put into it with various directions given him, the covenant of nature or works was entered into, and all beasts of the earth, and fowls of the air passed before Adam, to receive their names according to their respective species, Eve must have suffered the temptations of the serpent, Adam the enticements of his wife, and all these things must have taken up some time. They could not have been done in a few hours. It is rational to suppose, they must at least have occupied a number of days. For though God can do all things in an instant, yet man must have a rational portion of time for every purpose or work. Therefore, upon the lowest estimation we can form, there must have been a number of days between the creation of man and the fall. .
A second question is, could Adam and Eve be naked during their state of innocency, and be ignorant of it?
Immediately after their eating the forbidden fruit, the sacred text informs us, “ That the eyes of them both were opened, and " they knew that they were naked." This seems strongly to ime, ply, that they knew not this circumstance before. And there is another text previous to this, affirming the matter of their naked. ness. “ They were both naked the man and his wife, and were “ not ashamed.” The reality of this circumstance, as it has always appeared to me, though it is only matter of private opinion, was briefly this : They were not covered in their innocent state with any thing which we now call garments, or covering of any kind, as they afterwards were. Yet I apprehend they had a dress of a celestial nature, that their bodies were surrounded with a bright shining glory, as an external evidence of their own innocence, purity and perfection, and also as a token of the divine presence and favor. They were cloathed in such glory as that in which sometimes angels have appeared ; in such glory as shone upon Moses' face, when he had descended from the mount, after having been forty days in the presence of God; such glory as enveloped the burning bush, which was not consumed ; such glory as rested over the mercy seat between the cherubim in the tabernacle and in the temple ; such glory as surrounded the body of Christ at his transfiguration; and such glory as the saints shall be cloathed in at the resurrection. The saints, at the resurrection, will be dressed in white, splendid, and celestial robes, and these shall be their glorious covering throughout eternity. Hence we read in the resurrection, there will be celestial bodies, spiritual bodies, and that the saints shall be raised in glory. If these things be just, then nothing strange, that our first parents, upon their transgression, found themselves naked. Immediately this heavenly apparel, this glory which surrounded their bodies departed from them, as well as the image of God, and holiness from their hearts, and here they were naked indeed ; they became instantly naked both in soul and in body. This inzage of God, will be re-produced in the soul of the saint at his conversion by the second Adam, and perfected therein after death, when it shall be received to heaven-but the body, the wretched body,