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cit thought; and follow it with their eyes, as a meteor, till it lead them to the same uncertainty. Things which are impenetrable, they account absurd; or, hy rash endeavors to explain them, they embrace ahsurdities which render them ridiculous in the estimation of common men. Here indeed we want the pitying aid of revelation; for uncertainty on subjects so important, is painful as death to a considerate mind.
Yet we have no cause for apprehension. Despondency would be a crime. From a general view of the goodness of God in caring for the body, we may be fully assured, he has not neglected the soul. He supplies our temporal wants with a munificence worthy of him self; and he cannot have neglected the more important and everlasting interests of the immortal spirit.
In the kingdom of nature, he has provided remedies for most of the diseases incident to the body : consequently, he cannot have neglected the more inveterate diseases of the heart. What father could see his numerous offspring exposed to the ensnarements and vices of the world, and withhold from them the necessary counsel and caution ? How much more then must our heavenly father have given a plenitude of instruction to those men, whom it hath been the peculiar delight of his providence to honor !
It may here be asked, and with ardor too, which is the book-which is the book ? - The Christian world have given an uniform answer-It is the BIBLE, and the BIBLE only, which is the untainted repository of these divine instructions. God hath so loved the world as to send his Son Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for our sins, and reconcile all things to himself. He hath inspired his anointed servants, the prophets and apostles, with the knowledge of his will; and they have transmitted to us, in the holy scriptures, the substance of their plenary instructions, and without the least impairs, which affect either their authenticity or their doctrines.
After a tedious night of error and impiety, in which the Heathen world have groped for happiness, aided
by the dim taper of reason only, revelation breaks forth like the cheering dawn of day, and shows us the paths of righteousness and life. It supplies all the de-. fects of natural religion, and is in itself complete, beyond the possibility of improvement. Let us hasten, therefore, to the pleasing scene, to review Christianity in the light of the Lord. Let us review it, not in a detached and promiscuous throng, as stones and timbers dispersed in a field, but as a glorious temple, admirably arranged, and nobly formed by the hand of God.
OF THE CREATION AND FALL OF MAN-OF THE PATRIARCHAL DISPENSA
TION-AND OF THE MOSAIC LAW.
In the beginning God created the elements, which compose the heavens and the earth in a chaotic state, and his omnipresent spirit actuated the fertile mass.
He said, “let there be light, and there was light; and he separated the light from the darkness ; and God saw that the light was good.” He exhaled the clouds from the waters of the ocean, and caused the dry land to appear.
He clothed the earth with all this rich profusion of grass, and herbs, and trees, that it might give food to all his creatures. He formed the sun, moon, and stars; harmonized the spheres, and appointed them for signs and seasons, and to rule the days and years. He peopled the waters with fish, the heavens with fowl, the herbs with insects, and the hills and vales with beasts and cattle. The whole was ar amazing gradation of society, arranged in perfect harmony and order. “And God saw that it was good.”
On the last day of the creation God made man of the dust of the earth, and woman of his rib, or part of his side. The excellence and dignity of his nature may be inferred from the Creator's proceeding to do it in council. 6 And God said, let us make man in our image, and after our likeness: so in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” From this counsel and sociality in the Deity is obvi. ously inferred the doctrine of the most holy trinity, or the one God, made known to us in the New Testament by the name of Father, Son, and Spirit.
The body of Adam, for so the Lord called him, was ennobled above the bodies of brutes, by its delicacy and erect figure; and by its countenance, which probably shone with a visible glory. To this body of exquisite beauty, God united a soul, endowed with angelic perfections, resembling himself in knowledge, holiness, and righteousness, or propensities to rectitude. The orbs of heaven were governed by absolute laws, but man, being a free and intelligent creature, was governed by a moral injunction. God entered into covenant with him, in which all his posterity were included.
I. The happy pair were placed in the garden of Eden, that they might dress and keep it, and subsist on its produce. But when permission was given to eat of its fruits, God reserved one tree to himself, which Adam was enjoined, on pain of death, neither to touch nor taste. It was the Creator's prerogative, and the seal of the covenant; and it taught man, that though he was lord of the creation, he was nevertheless a subordinate creature, and in a state of probation. This test of integrity, the Creator had an undoubted right to impose; and it seems perfectly easy, and suited to the situation of man. Surely the difficulty of abstaining from one tree could not be great, while he had a whole paradise of the most delicious, fruits. Such was the free, the high, and happy situation of our first parents when the tragic day of trial came; when the prince of apostate angels determined to attempt their ruin, by seducing them from their allegiance to God.
To effectuate this he took possession of the serpent, which they knew to be more sagacious than any of the beasts, and on that account would respect its advise. He assailed the woman in the absence of her husband, lest by mutual counsel they should have rejected the crime. Speaking in the serpent, he asked, whether it were true, that they might eat of every tree in the garden? She not knowing all the powers of the serpent, nor that he was actuated by an evil angel, answered, “we may eat of every tree, except the tree of knowledge of good and evil; of that God hath said, ye shall not eat, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye
die.” He replied, “ ye shall not surely die; the prohibition is unreasonable, and God has enjoined it to keep you in bondage; for he well knows, that in the day ye eat of it, ye shall be as the gods, who fill the thrones of heaven, knowing good and evil.” To this elating and treasonable speech, the woman assented, and seeing the delicious quality of the fruit, she presumed to pluck and eat; and taking some to her husband, seduced him by the same arguments, and by the more weighty argument of her own example, and he did also eat. Immediately their eyes were
They saw how they had been duped by believing the serpent in preference to God. Ungrateful for their
high and happy situation, they saw how they had ambitiously aspired at angelic perfection, violated the covenant, and forfeited their innocence. They saw also the nakedness and concupiscence of their bodies, and fled to hide among the trees of the garden. This was the first but great offence, and it has occasioned every moral and natural evil which afflicts mankind.
Immediately after the fall, God proceeded to convict and sentence the three offenders to sorrow, toil, and death, but he closed the judicial process with this grand promise of redemption,—“ the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.? Frequent allusion is made to this in the New Testament: it is applied to Jesus Christ, in whom it receives its full completion. See John xvi. 11. Rom. xvi.20. Heb. ii. 14. 1 John iii. 8. Christ was here promised to assume the human nature of the woman, and to die for our sin, that every man might be restored once more to a state of
hation, and regain by faith in him both holiness
and heaven. How exceedingly rich was the mercy of God, which gave his only begotten Son, and how awful the justice, which freely delivered him up for us all! How adorable was that love, and how profound that wisdom, which, taking occasion by the evils of the fall, have brought so much glory to himseli, and happiness to man, by restoring him to a better paradise than Adam lost. May we all therefore embrace this new covenant, founded on better promises than the former, and confide in this mediator, “who is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession."
II. From the Lord's clothing our first parents with skins, and from Abel's bringing the firstlings of his flock; we may presume, that Adam was instructed to approach his maker by sacrifices for sin; that is, by burning the body of a perfect animal, and sprinkling the blood upon himself, and afterwards upon his offending children. These oblations had an obvious reference to the death of Christ; they shewed the sinner the death he ought to die; and being accompanied with purifications and prayer, instructed him in the nature of holiness and devotion.
From the period that God thus entered into covenant with fallen man, we find the Messiah under the appellations of JEHOVAH, of God, or of Angel, at the head of the human race. If the patriarchs, in the progress of society, needed his miraculous aid, he was at hand with his glorious hosts of angels, to support and instruct them; to unfold the secrets of his providence, and to chastise or destroy the wicked. "He attended the altar of their devotion, and often with visible marks of his presence, and new tokens of his love. “He was always rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, and his delights were with the sons of men."
Hence the state of man was very much meliorated by the covenant of grace. His life was attended with innumerable comforts, and prolonged to great age. He had the promise of redemption, and was instructed in