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deem thee from the curse of the law, by, being made a curse for thee; to deliver thee from going down inte hell, by becoming thy ransom: it was to merit heaven for thee by his precious atonement and obedience unto death; it was to purchase for thee the eternal Spirit, by whose powerful aid thou mightest believe and love and delight in this precious Savi. our, this adorable Redeemer, this almighty Deliverer, through whom thy sins are pardoned, and by whom thou hast access unto God, as thy reconciled Father.
0! my soul, praise the Lord for his mercy, and never cease to speak good of his name.
Let this view of sin, and of a sin-bearing Saviour, humble thee in his presence; and empty thee of all pride and vain glory. Let it at the same time fill thee with gratitude to God, for having provided such a remedy against the evils of the fall.
Sin, even thy sin, nailed, pierced, and agonized the Lord of glory! O! then hate sin, and avoid it as thou wouldest tremble to plunge a spear into thy Saviour's bosom; as thou wouldest shudder to trample under foot his sacred blood. “The wages of sin is death.” But 0! rejoice in this gracious declaration, “ The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
And what is sin ? “ Sin is the transgression of the law."_"All unrighteousness is sin." Sin is enmity against God; an inveterate opposition to the gospel method of salvation ; a preference of our own will and the enjoyment of the creature, to the will and favour of the Creator. As sin crucified the Son of God, so it hates and persecutes him in all his faithful people. Sin is a daring rebellion against the Majesty of heaven, and would, if it were possible, pluck the Éternal from his throne. The proud sinner presumptuously asks, “Who is the Lord that I
should obey him ?" And, “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God."
0! my soul, and is this hideous evil the inmate of thy heart? Canst thou cherish such a serpent in thy bosom? Lord, I tremble at the thought. Blessed Jesus, turn out thine enemy-my sin, and make me wholly thine ; the purchase of thy blood, the trophy of thy grace, the monument of thy mercy, a living temple consecrated to thy praise.
Why is my heart so prone to leave
A God of mercy and of love ?
Why far from Christ and heaven remove ?
Lord, 'tis the fruit of Adam's sin,
The awful taint which nature bears ;
Dissolve my flinty heart to tears.
To thee I look, my only Lord ;
On thee, my trembling soul depends ;
Thy pard'ning mercy never ends.
Then will my heart o'erflow with joy,
My life proclaim its grateful praise,
My soul shall chaunt celestial lays.
IV. ON THE PROHIBITION IN PARADISE.
Much of the beauty of Scripture is lost to us for want of spiritual discernment. The ways of God appear dark, in proportion to the thick film which rests upon our understanding.
The view which the Rev. Hartwell Horne has given of the prohibition in paradise, in a note in the first volume of his “ Introduction to the Critical Study of the Holy Scriptures,” is very important. He says, “that the particular injunction given to our first parents not to eat of the fruit of a particular tree has been a favourite subject of sneer and cavil with the opposers of revelation.”
It is awful to reflect, how weak, polluted worms of earth dare to charge the infinite wisdom of Jehovah with folly. Surely we must say with the Psalmist, “God is strong and patient”_and God is provoked every day.
The following considerations shew at once the reasonableness, holiness, and goodness of the law of paradise.
1. As God had made man the governor of this lower world, and crowned him with so many mercies, “it was manifestly proper that he should require some particular instance of homage and fealty, to be a memorial to man of his dependence, and an acknowledgment on his part, that he was under the dominion of a higher Lord, to whom he owed absolute subjection and obedience.
2. “ What instance of homage could be more proper, circumstanced as man then was, than his being obliged, in obedience to the divine command, to abstain from one or more of the fruits of paradise?"
3. “It pleased God to insist only upon his abstaining from one; at the same time that he indulged him in full liberty as to the rest."
4. This easy and reasonable prohibition “served both as an act of homage to the supreme Lord from whose bountiful grant he held paradise, and all its enjoyments; and was also fitted to teach our first parents a noble and useful lesson of abstinence and self-denial ; one of the most necessary lessons in a
state of probation; and also of unreserved submission to the authority and will of God; and an implicit resignation to his supreme wisdom and goodness.”
5. This test of their obedience, from the nature of it, “tended to habituate them to keep their sensitive appetite in subjection to the law of reason ; to take them off from too close an attachment to inferior sensible good; and engage them to place their highest happiness in God alone.”
6. This injunction not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, would also tend, “ to keep their desires after knowledge within just bounds, so as to be content with knowing what was really proper and useful for them to know; and not presume to pry, with an unwarrantable curiosity into things which belong not to them, and which God has not thought fit to reveal.”
Now who can seriously meditate upon these valuable considerations, without being affected at the goodness of God in commanding, and at the baseness of man in transgressing such a reasonable test of his obedience ?
This law was truly a law of love; and the breach of it was the highest instance of ingratitude and rebellion.
How inconceivably great is the grace of God, that at the very time, when he came down to pronounce the sentence of death upon his offending creatures, he should reveal, by promise, an Almighty Saviour, even HIMSELF, who should destroy the power of darkness, finish transgression, make an end of sin, bring in everlasting righteousness, and form a people to shew forth his praise !
If we examine attentively the foregoing considerations, we shall find that nothing was imposed upon Adam, that we are not now commanded to perform
with respect to the spiritual part of the injunction.
We must love God supremely—acknowledge our dependence upon him-seek our whole happiness in him-delight in his law-be resigned to his will -keep our sensitive appetites in subjection-and check all unhallowed curiosity into the ways and wisely hidden things of God.
Every deviation from this state of heart and practice is a deviation from the holy law of God; and, as a necessary consequence, entails guilt and misery
Thus we see, that happiness is inseparable from obedience. We learn from hence, that misery and wretchedness do not depend upon our station, but on the state of our souls.
Adam in paradise was happy, whilst innocent. Adam in paradise was miserable, when guilty.
The law delivered on Mount Sinai is a standing revelation of the holiness of God; and the various precepts of the Gospel are all in consonance with these pure and undefiled commandments. Both the injunctions of the moral law, and the precepts of the Gospel, were virtually included in the original law given to our first parents in paradise, thus forming a chain of holiness from the beginning to the end of time.
It resembles a beautiful flower, of which the bud is seen in Eden; the expanding leaves on Mount Sinai, and its glowing beauties in Immanuel's land.
Heaven is its native soil. There shall all the trees of righteousness be finally transplanted; and there shall the lovely flowers of paradise expand their beauties, and spread their fragrance, fed by perpetual dews of heavenly grace, and screened for ever from the blasting pestilence of this sinful world.