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DOCTRINES OF GRACE.
1.—THE FALL OF MAN.
As it is proposed in this little volume to present the young inquirer with a simple view of the doctrines of grace, as contained in the Scripture, it will be a suitable introduction to begin our inquiry at the root of that spiritual disease which to the glory of our God) has been met by the provision of covenant mercy in the Redemption.
The very term redemption implies that something has been forfeited and lost : and when we speak of loss, we consequently suppose that there has been a previous possession. Hence these terms lead us to view the condition of man-as having suffered the loss of that fulness he originally possessed : great truths, on which the word of revelation dwells with impressive solemnity, and to the understanding of which we are mercifully invited.
The fulness originally possessed by man, is expressed in terms easy to be understood by such as have any spiritual discernment; and when we read the record wherein it is described, we at once admire the Divine bounty and the creature's dignity. The paradise inhabited by man rises to our view in all the loveliness of a spot teeming with life, blest as the garden of the Lord, and pronounced by him “ very good.” We can conceive of rich luxuriance abounding in every flower, plant, and shrub. We picture to ourselves the shade, the bower, and the beauty amidst which man was appointed to live, and we are conscious that herein the Creator formed a dwelling well-adapted to the taste and enjoyment of an intellectual and rational creature. We go further ; we not only believe that this Eden for man, was exempt from toil, trouble, death, or pain ; but that it was a chosen spot whereon the countenance of the Almighty turned complacently, shedding thereby the beams, out of which light, life, and joy issued. It must needs follow that Paradise was a place of bliss.
And for whom was all this riches of bounty displayed ? Even for an inbabitant, higher in dignity, more exquisitely formed, more marvellously endowed than any of the other works of God—even for man! A creature brought into being by counsel and covenant, and created for the display of the eternal glory of Jehovah. The counsel is—" Let us make man.” The standard proposed is" after our likeness ; ” and the investiture of honor is — " let him have dominion.” Thus man came forth in original innocence, with body and soul alike pure and unsullied, actuated by principles that were holy, diffusing their pure influence through every willing member ; possessed of conscious immortality in the powers of a soul, whose capacities and desires were formed for satisfaction in God only ; and well fitted to glorify his Maker and to be glorified by him : as a constituted lord likewise, to rule over the works of God with delegated power, exercising his authority in love, and governing in wisdom and truth. To minds like ours, now clouded by ignorance, and perverted by sin, it may be difficult to realize paradisaical bliss ; yet, in proportion to our experience of the Spirit's new-creating grace, we shall have an understanding of Adam's blessedness, more
especially in that particular wherein he was admitted to “ fellowship with the light,” being privileged to hold communion with his God. This we know is the privilege restored, as we read in 1 John i. 5—7. And we can readily believe that a glorious perfection of this grace originally satisfied the soul of Adam.
It was by no means an alloy to the happiness of man that he was constituted dependent. To a holy soul what can be more blissful than perpetually to rest upon Him who is uncreated holiness! To a creature finite and impotent, what more assuring than to repose in Him who is infinite and omnipotent! And to a loving soul what more welcome and refreshing than to dwell with the object beloved, and to know that support and sufficiency shall be found therein ! Childlike affections were wrought in Adam's breast: for he was a son of God; and the expression of filial dependence was a privilege to one innocent, and so untroubled by bondage and unworthy fear. Whilst therefore it was necessary in the Divine order of government that man should have a law, and that he should be required to manifest a spirit of obedience to the Lawgiver, the very law was made instrumental to bring forth dispositions most pleasurable to an
innocent soul, and to quicken the recollection of the greatness of the defence and protection under which he lived.
Such reflections upon the manifestation of God's power and grace in the creation will call forth our admiration of the divine nature; for herein we trace somewhat of the unsearchable goodness of God. The human nature likewise appears before us, as admirable, excellent, and fully adapted to the ends for which it was produced. But our thoughts should take a wider excursion, and consider that great and peculiar end which the covenant in Christ contemplated. Revelation shews us this great design, all things being in the counsels of Jehovah made subservient to the honour of the Eternal Son. The creation is declared to be made by him, John i. 1-3, and for him, Col. i. 16. He is constituted heir of all things, Heb. i. 2 ; and the world with its inhabitants is Christ's by a covenant decree, Isaiah xlv. 23; Phil. ii. 9; Psalm ii. 8, 9. This beautiful order of things, there. fore, in the creation, is as the forming of a garment or vesture with which the Lord of glory will adorn himself; and creatures, thus the property of Christ, are reserved for a future scene, wherein he will be magnified in