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in harmony by the force of one master spring, the love of God, which actuated and sanctified all its powers.
It is true, then, that God made man upright, that he was a creature worthy of the Author of his being, the fair image of his excellencies, a mirror from which the unspotted purity of the divine nature was reflected.
Man, being holy, enjoyed all the felicity which was suitable to his nature and his circumstances. His body contained no seeds of disease, and was not subject to languor or pain. The objects around him, arrayed in the freshness of youth, and beautified by the hand of the Creator, were calculated to delight his senses. Work was prescribed to him; but it was of the easiest kind, and served merely as an agreeable recreation. He was placed in the garden of Eden, where nature appeared in all her loveliness; a garden which God himself had planted, and in which grew “every tree which was pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” I shall not stop to inquire in what region it was situated, although many learned men have amused themselves with the inquiry. Some hints are given in the history of Moses; but they are too general to enable us to come to a certain conclusion. In the midst of abundance man erperienced no present want, and felt no anxiety respecting the future; for unconscious of guilt, he looked up with confident expectation to the goodness of his Maker. And this leads me to remark, that it was not from external objects that his happiness was chiefly derived, but from the intimate fellowship with his Creator to which he was admitted. He rejoiced in his glory, which his enlightened eye contemplated in the splendour of the heavens, and the varied scenery of the earth: he rejoiced in a sense of his favour, in a feeling of his love; and assured of his friendship, he reposed without suspicion upon his wisdom and benevolence. All was calm within, and all was peaceful without. He was happy now; and he should be happy always, if he continued to perform the easy service which was enjoined upon him. Easy it may be justly called, for it consisted in yielding io the bent of his own will, which was inclined only to good, and exercising the holy faculties with which he was endowed. Obedience was natural to him ; and what is conformable to nature is attended with pleasure. How delightful must have been his emotions, while he was employed in admiring, and loving, and praising, and executing the orders of that Being who had lately called him into existence, and showered innumerable blessings upon him! The life which he led in Paradise was like the lise of angels.
The Scriptures have not informed us how long our first parents retained their innocence, and enjoyed the delights of their primeval state. There is room, therefore, for conjecture; and in this, as in other cases, there have not been wanting theologians, who have filled up the void with the suggestions of fancy. Some have thought, that they fell on the same day on which they were created, and have even appealed to the authority of Scripture. “Man being in honour abideth not,” says the Psalmist, “he is like the beasts that perish. Now, the word translated to abide, signifies to continue for a night. Hence these profound critics, presuming that there is an allusion to the first man, boldly conclude that he did not continue for a night in the honour of his original state; and some of them have supported the conclusion by arguments of the most ridiculous nature. It is quite sufficient to remark, that the view which they have taken of the verse is perfectly unnatural, and would have occurred only to an interpreter who was in search of proofs to support a favourite opinion. It contains obviously a general reflection upon the transitory nature of fallen man, and the instability of his enjoyments. His wealth and glory vanish like a vapour; and he himself, aster a short interval, returns to the dust from which he came. We have no reason to think that the period of human innocence was
• Psalm xlix. 12.
of long duration; but we have also no reason to believe that it lasted only for a few hours. Was there not one day of purity and peace? Was the work of the Almighty marred as soon as it was finished? The narrative of Moses seems to be inconsistent with this supposition. The business of the sixth day was so various as to occupy, we should think, the whole of it. First, quadrupeds and reptiles were created; next Adam was made; then the command was given respecting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; afterwards the various animals passed before him, and he gave them names; again he was cast into a deep sleep, and Eve was formed of a rib taken from his side; last of all, the woman was brought to him, and they were joined together by God himself in the conjugal relation. This was the busiest day of the six, but it were still more crowded with events, if the fall took place upon it; for then we must suppose that Adam and Eve, who had so lately met, separated almost immediately, although for what reason it is impossible to conceive; that Eve had a conversation with the serpent, by whom she was persuaded to eat the forbidden fruit; that she then went in search of her husband, and prevailed upon him to imitate her example; that they then discovered themselves to be naked, and clothed themselves with fig-leaves; and that all this happened before the cool of the day, probably the afternoon, when the sun was declining, and the air was refreshed by a gentle breeze. We must add to these transactions the procedure of God as a judge towards them and their tempter, and their expulsion from Paradise. This simple detail of facts is sufficient to shew, that the opinion under consideration is destitute of the slightest probability: but I go a step farther, and say that it is manifestly false; for at the end of the sixth day God saw all his work that it was good. But how could this be, if sin had introduced misery and death into our world; if man had become a rebel, and a curse had been pronounced upon him, and upon the earth for his sake! It is evident from the narrative of Moses, that the temptation and fall of man were subsequent to the seventh day, on which God rested from all his work which he had made.
God pronounced his work to be good, because sin had not entered to mar its beauty, and disturb its order. The heavens were resplendent with the glory of their Maker, and the earth was full of his praise. The trees and herbs of the field displayed his wisdom and goodness; the inferior animals were perfect in their kind; and man, placed at their head, was enlightened by reason, and adorned with every moral excellence. There never was so lovely a sight as our world bearing the recent impress of the hand which fashioned it. The memory of its original state, conveyed down by tradition, suggested to the heathen poets their descriptions of the golden age, when the earth spontaneously yielded its fruits, the manners of its inhabitants were simple and virtuous, and life flowed on smoothly in innocence and peace. The whole creation declared the glory of God; and man, as the priest of nature, gave a voice to its silent homage, and offered up to the Universal Parent, the pure sacrifices of adoration and thanksgiving.
Doctrine of Providence-A Providence inferred from the acknowledged Perfections of God;
from the dependent nature of Creatures ; from the Order maintained in the Universe; from the existence of Moral Sentiments; and from various Facts in the History of our Race Particular Providence.
WHATEVER elevated conceptions the wiser and more contemplative heathen philosophers might entertain of the Deity, they could not rise to that sablime view of him which is exhibited in revelation. They might conceive of him as One, Invisible, and Perfect; but not knowing him in the proper character of Creator, they could not feel all that reverence for him which his power in the production of the universe is calculated to inspire, nor those emotions of love and gratitude which are awakened by the display of his creative benevolence. Some of them, indeed, did speak of him, as the Artificer of all things; but it should be recollected that, according to their undisputed maxim of the impossibility of creation in the proper sense of the term, his office was limited to the arrangement of pre-existing materials; and that over matter, which was eternal as himself, he had not absolute control, but was under the necessity of executing his designs only so far as its nature would permit. How different is the God of Jews and Christians, who, subsisting alone from infinite ages, manifested himself in the beginning of time, by calling out of nothing that immense and glorious system, which fills the regions of space! Of the work of creation we have already spoken, and have illustrated the Mosaic account of it, and endeavored to vindicate it from the objections of infidelity and of modern science, whether they seek to prove, that there is no vestige of a beginning, and no prospect of an end, or that its origin must be traced to a period far beyond the limits of history, and anterior by thousands or millions of years to the date assigned to it in the Scriptures.
We have seen that, at the command of the Almighty, the material system arose out of nothing; and by subsequent exertions of his power, under the direction of his wisdom, was arranged in that order which astonishes us by its magnificence, and delights us by its beauty. Whatever speculations we may indulge respecting the other parts of creation, which are too remote to be subjects of minute observation, we know that the earth was not intended to be a solitude. While the land, the sea, and the atmosphere, were filled with living creatures of various kinds, man was formed to be the spectator of the wonders with which he was surrounded, and to proclaim the glory of God, which they could only passively display. Distinguished from them all by his erect posture, and the gift of reason, he was still more highly elevated by his moral endowments, which being a transcript of the divine excellencies, properly constituted the image of God, with which he was adorned. But this state of ihings was of short duration. Sin finding admission even into paradise, the sacred seat of innocence and bliss, caused a sudden and melancholy change; and while man was divested of the glory of his nature, his offended Creator was provoked on his account to blast the earth with his eurse; so that, though still lovely, it is but the faded image of what it once was, and the marks of heaven's anger may be traced in the ruggedness, and sterility, and unhealthiness of many parts of it, as well as in the turbulence and desolating fury of the elements. This rev. olution, which seemed to defeat the design of God in creation, could not have taken place without his knowledge, nor without his permission; for there is no doubt that, as he could have prevented our first parents from being tempted, so he could have enabled them to resist the strongest temptations. Mysterious as the subject is, we must believe that, although we cannot say that God willed sin, he willed not to hinder it, and that it was his purpose to overrule it for an end worthy of himself. It follows, that his Providence was concerned in the fall; although we may not be able to describe the nature and extent of its agency. Before, therefore, I proceed to a particular consideration of the fall and its consequences, I shall endeavour, in some lectures, to explain the doctrine of Providence.
It may be remarked at the commencement, that men have not been more generally agreed in the belief that there is a God, than in the persuasion that the universe is under the direction and control of superior power and wisdom. In this sentiment, I may say, all nations have concurred. It seems to be a natural deduction of reason from the idea of a Deity; and to be suggested to a reflecting mind by the appearances of nature, and the course of events. Certain philosophers, indeed, have denied that the affairs of mortals are under the Divine superintendence ; and of these some have doubted or denied the existence of a God; while others, granting it in words, have with manifest inconsistency cut off all intercourse between him and his creatures, and shut him up, as it were, in the solitude of heaven. To this latter class belonged Epicurus, and his followers, who were Atheists in reality, although Theists in profession: Re tollit, says Cicero of Epicurus, oratione relinquit, Deos.* The Divine nature, according to the Epicureans, as the philosopher Sallustius observes in his book de Diis et Mundo, " is neither itself disturbed, nor does it give disturbance to others.” The same opinion is ascribed to them in Cicero's first book de Natura Deorum: “ That which is happy and eternal gives no trouble either to itself or to others, and is susceptible neither of anger nor of favour, because whatever is subject to such emotions, is weak.” Happiness, as they imagined, consisted in doing nothing, in being engaged in no occupation, in performing no work; and their God rejoiced in his own wisdom and virtue, and in the assurance of always enjoying the greatest delights. The God of other philosophers, whose task was to govern the world, maintain the courses of the stars, the changes of the seasons, the order and revolutions of the universe, to contemplate the lands and seas, support the life and supply the wants of men; this God appeared to them to be necessarily unhappy, because he was involved in irksome and laborious operations. Thus they denied a Providence, and by doing so, as the wiser heathens remarked, subverted the foundations of religion. "If God is such," says Cicero, “that he feels no good will or love towards men, away with him! for why should I say, Let him be propitious ? He can be propitious to no person, since as you say, fa vour and love are proofs of imbecility.”+
The word Providence, which we have derived from the Latin word Providentia, and the Greek word Nporaz, are used to express the action or conduct of God towards the universe, which he upholds by his power, and regulates by his wisdom. The question concerning Providence is whether, as there is a Creator, there is also a Ruler of the world; or whether the heavens and earth are under the superintendence of him who brought them into existence. Providence, is the care which God takes of all things, to uphold them in being, and to direct them to the ends which he has determined to accomplish by them, so that nothing takes place in which he is not concerned in a manner worthy of his infinite perfections, and which is not in unison with the counsel of his will. More particularly we may observe, that two things are included in the notion of Providence ; the preservation and the government of all things. Preservation immediately respects things themselves, which by his power are
• De Nat. Deor. lib. i. VOL. I.-53
sustained, or continued in existence. Government respects their actions and motions, which by his almighty influence are disposed in a certain order, and are rendered subservient to certain ends. In particular, the objects of Providence, as exercised in this world, are men, whose proceedings, partaking as they do of a moral character, are in themselves of so much importance; and whose thoughts, and volitions, and operations, are the means by which the Supreme Ruler carries on his designs.
The first argument which I shall produce in proof of a Providence, is drawn from the acknowledged perfections of God. As these prove that he is qualified to undertake the management of his creatures, and all their affairs, so they furnish sure ground for the conclusion, that he has not, and will not, dismiss them from his care. Manifold as his works are, they are all under his eye, for omniscience is an attribute of his nature; and consequently, the minutest objects are as well known to him as the greatest, and the most secret actions as well as those which are performed in the light of the sun. And, although a finite understanding would be perplexed and burdened by the countless myriads of creatures, it costs him no labour attend to them, for he surveys the immense field of creation at a glance. His power is adequate to all the purposes of his government, whether natural or moral, because it is as unlimited as his knowledge; and it can be exerted upon any object wherever it is situated, or upon ien thousand objects at the same moment, because his power, if I may speak so, is commensurate with his essence, and he is equally present in every part of the universe. He who called it into existence by his simple command, is able to uphold it by the word of his power. Of the sufficieney of his wisdom for the regulation of affairs, no doubt can be entertained, after what has been said of his knowledge. Knowledge furnishes the materials which wisdom arranges. And can he, to whom all the component parts of the universe are perfectly known, and who is intimately acquainted with their situations, their powers, and their uses, be at any loss to adjust them to one another, and to dispose them in such a manner as to accomplish those ends which will promote his glory, and the general good? I may ask again, would it have been worthy of his wisdom, to have created an immense system of material and immaterial beings, and then to have left it to itself? In this case, we could not conceive what purpose he had in view, or by what motive he was influenced in the production of it. Why did he fill the regions of space with innumerable worlds, and people them with various orders of inhabitants, and then withdraw his attention from them, or look on an unconcerned spectator of their movements and actions ? But another argument may be drawn from his goodness, which was conspicuous in creation itself, but would seem to have been exhausted by this effort, if a Providence be denied. The benevolence which prompted the Deity to call the universe into existence, would surely prompt him to extend his protection to it. There could not be a higher impeachment of his character, than to suppose him to have abandoned his own works; to have deserted his rational offspring, and to have delivered them up as helpless orphans to chance, or to the blind operation of general laws: to the dubious guidance of their feeble reason, and to the arbitrary rule of their wayward passions. What a revolting idea do they give us of the First and Greatest of all beings, who would persuade us that he is indifferent to countless myriads of creatures, whom he himself formed with desires and a capacity for happiness, but who are now the sport of accident, and tossed up and down for no determinate end, like atoms in a sun-beam ? How much more amiable and august is the Deity, whom reason and revelation exhibit as the Parent and Guardian of all that live, as caring for the meanest of them, and scattering his gifts among them with a munificent hand! Lastly, as justice is one of his perfections, it follows that he must exercise a moral government over his creatures.