Page images
PDF
EPUB

are gratified, the more insolent and outrageous they grow. The senses, whose office is to be the intelligencers of the soul, to make discovery and to give a naked report without disturbing the higher faculties, sometimes mistake disguised enemies for friends; and sometimes by a false alarm move the lower appetites, and fill the soul with disorder and confusion, so that the voice of reason cannot be heard. By the irritation of grief, the insinuation of pleasure, or some other perturbation, the soul is captivated and wounded through the senses. In short, when man turned rebel to God, he became a slave to all the creatures. By their primitive institution they were appointed to be subservient to the glory of God and the use of man, to be motives of love and obedience to the Creator; but sin hath corrupted and changed them into so many instruments of vice; they are made subject to vanity.” And man is so far sunk into the dregs of servitude, that he is subject to them; for by forsaking God, the supreme object of love, with as much injustice as folly, and choosing the creature in his stead, he becomes a servant to the meanest thing upon which he places an inordinate affection. Briefly, man, who by his creation was the son of God, is made a slave to Satan that damned spirit and most cursed creature. Deplorable degradation, and worthy of the deepest shame and sorrow!

2. Man lost his felicity. Besides the trouble that sin hath in its own nature, which I have touched on before, there is a consequent guilt and torment attending it. Adam whilst obedient enjoyed peace with God, a sweet serenity of mind, a divine calm in the conscience, and full satisfaction in himself; but after his sin he trembled at God's voice, and was tormented at his presence. “I heard thy voice, and was afraid,” saith guilty Adam. He looked on God as angry and armed against him, ready to execute the severest sentence. Conscience began an early hell within him : paradise with all its pleasures, could not secure him from that sting in his breast, and that sharpened by the hand of God. What confusion of thoughts, what a combat of passions was he in! When the temptation which deceived him, vanished,

and his spirit recovered out of the surprise, and took a clear view of his guilt in its true horror, what indignation did it kindle in his breast! How did shame, sorrow, revenge, despair, those secret executioners, torment his spirit! The intelligent nature, his peculiar excellency above the brutes, armed misery against him, and put a keener edge to it—by his reflecting upon the foolish exchange he made of God himself for the fruit of a tree; that so slender a temptation should cheat him of his blessedness. His present misery is aggravated by the sad comparison of it with his primitive felicity : nothing remains of his first innocence, but the vexatious regret of having lost it--by the foresight of the death he deserved: the conscience of his crimes racked his soul with the certain and fearful expectation of judgment.

Besides the inward torment of his mind, he was exposed to all miseries from without. Sin having made a breach into the world, the whole army of evils entered with it; the curse extends itself to the whole creation; for the world being made for man, the place of his residence, in his punishment it hath felt the effects of God's displeasure. The whole course of nature is set on fire. Whereas a general peace and amicable correspondence was established between heaven and earth, whilst all were united in subjection to the Creator ; sin, that broke the first union between God and man, hath ruined the second. As in a state when one part of the subjects fall from their obedience, the rest which are constant in their duty, break with the rebels, and make war upon them till they return to their allegiance : so universal nature was armed against rebellious man, and had destroyed him without the merciful interposition of God.

The angels with flaming swords expelled him from paradise. The beasts, who were all innocent whilst man remained innocent, espouse God's interest, and are ready to revenge the quarrel of their Creator. The insensible creation, which at first was altogether beneficial to man, is become hurtful. The heavens sometimes are hardened as brass in a long and obstinate serenity; sometimes are dissolved in a deluge of rain : the earth is barren, and unfaithful to the sower, “it bringeth forth

thorns and thistles" instead of bread. In short, man is an enemy to man. When there were but two brothers to divide the world, the one stained his hands in the blood of the other; and since the progeny of Adam is increased into vast societies, all the disasters of the world, as famine, pestilence, deluges, the fury of beasts, have not been so destructive of mankind, as the sole malignity of man against those that partake of the human nature.

To conclude; who can make a list of the evils to which the body is liable by the disagreeing elements that compose it? The fatal seeds of corruption are bred in itself

. It is a prey to all diseases, from the torturing stone to the dying consumption. It feels the strokes of death a thousand times before it can die once. At last life is swallowed up of death. And if death were a deliverance from miseries, it would lessen its terror, but it is the consummation of all. The first death transmits to the second. As the body dies by the soul's forsaking it, so the soul, by separation from God, its true life, dies to its well-being and happiness for ever.

1

CHAPTER III.

THE CORRUPTION OF HUMAN NATURE. 1. The rebellion of the first man against the great Creator was a sin of universal efficacy, that derives a guilt and stain to mankind in all ages of the world. The account the Scripture gives of it, is grounded on the relation which all men have to Adam, as their natural and moral principle.—Their natural. God created one man in the beginning from whom all others derive their being: and that the unity might be the more entire, he formed of him that aid which was necessary for the communicating kind to the world. “He made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth." Acts xvii. 26. And as the whole race of mankind was virtually in Adam's loins, so it was presumed to give virtual consent

but as

to what he did. When he broke, all suffered shipwreck, that were contained in him as their natural original. The angels were created immediately and distinctly, without dependence upon one another as to their original; therefore, when a great number revolted from God, the rest were not complicated in their sin and ruin. But when the universal progenitor of men sinned, there was a conspiracy of all the sons of Adam in that rebellion, and not one subject left in his obedience. He was the moral principle of mankind. In the first treaty between God and man, Adam was considered as a single person, caput gentis,” and he contracted for all his descendants by ordinary generation. His person was the fountain of theirs, and his will the representative of theirs. From hence his vast progeny became a party in the covenant, and had a title to the benefits contained in it

upon

his obedience, and was liable to the curse upon his violation of it. Upon this ground the apostle institutes a parallel between Adam and Christ, that “ as by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous," Rom. v. 19. . As Christ, in his death on the cross, did not suffer as a private person, but as a surety and sponsor representing the whole church, according to the testimony of Scripture, “ if one died for all, then were all dead;" so the first Adam, who was “ the figure of him that was to come,” in his disobedience was esteemed a public person representing the whole race of mankind; and by a just law it was not restrained to himself, but is the sin of the common nature. Adam broke the first link in the chain whereby mankind was united to God, and all the other parts which depended upon it are necessarily separated from him. From hence the Scripture saith, that by nature we are the children of wrath,” Eph. ii. 3; that is, liable to punishment, and that hath relation to guilt.

And of this we have convincing experience in the common evils which afflict mankind before the commission of any actual sin. The cries of infants who are only eloquent to grief, but dumb to all things else, discover that miseries attend them. The tears which are born with their eyes, signify that they are come into a state of sorrow. How many troops of deadly diseases are ready to seize on them immediately after their entrance into the world, which are the apparent effects of God's displeasure, and therefore, argue man to be guilty of some great crime from his birth! The ignorance of this made the heathens accuse nature, and blaspheme God under that mask, as less kind and indulgent to man than to the creatures below him. They are not under so hard a law of coming into the world. They are presently instructed to swim, to fly, to run for their preservarion. They are clothed by nature, and their habits grow in proportion with their bodies, some with feathers, some with wool, others with scales, which are both habit and armour: but man, who alone is sensible of shame, is born naked, and though of a more delicate temper, is more exposed to injuries by distempered seasons, and utterly unable to repel or avoid the evils that encompass him. Now the account the Scripture gives of original sin silences all these complaints. Man is a transgressor from the womb; and how can he expect a favourable reception into the empire of an offended God? Briefly; sometimes death enters into the retirements of nature, and changes the womb into a grave; which proves, that as soon as we partake of the human nature, we are guilty of the sin that is common to it; “ for the wages of sin is death,” Rom. vi. 23. Adam, in his innocent state had the privilege of immortality, but by him “ sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” as a just sentence upon the guilty," for that all have sinned," v. 12.

An hereditary corruption is transmitted to all that naturally descend from him. If Adam had continued in his obedience, the spiritual as well as the natural life had been conveyed to his children; but for his rebellion he lost his primitive rectitude, and contracted a universal corruption; which he derives to all his posterity. And as in a disease there is a defect of health, and a distemper of the humours that affect the body; so in the

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »