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necessary to our correction and reformation when | help meet for him. At this time, it seems high— we have sunk into a state of sin? Mere animal ly probable, the holy angels were in being; for, enjoyment may come without labour; the birds when God laid the foundations of the earth = neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns. But when he laid the measures thereof' and 'stretchwhere mental enjoyments are required, they can ed the line upon it'-then the morning stars only be attained when they have roused and sang together, and all the sons of God shouted directed the bodily powers into active obedience for joy.' And certain it is that, at this time, all to the will of God. And this is the will of God, the lower animals had been created. How then 'if any man will not work, neither should he cat.' is man said to be alone? Just as a cottage may The idle man, therefore, is condemned to die; be alone in the midst of a forest. It has no kinand should he continue to live, he lives but as the dred with the trees: it is alone of its kind. So robber lives, by literally stealing what is not his was man. He was alone of his kind: and the own, and incurring the righteous condemnation beneficent Creator determines to make an help both of God and man. meet for him; an image of himself, as he was an image of God; capable of mental communion with him, as he was with God; capable of doubling his happiness, by partaking it; and should any disaster deprive him of that happiness, capable of alleviating his sorrows by copartnership in his burden.
But how can we enjoy the contemplation and communion of God, when actively and laboriously engaged in the business of a busy world? Can a weary body co-operate with an active mind? Can a heavenly spirit consist with an earthly hand? Yes, these are different, but not contrary. The spirit may be willing, while the flesh is weak, and the weakness of the one will not be charged against the willingness of the other. On the contrary, this weakness is the very test of willingness; while it keeps willingness humble, from the consciousness of the weak or, perhaps, reluctant, companion with which it is conjoined.
Man was therefore not made for solitude. Solitude is, no doubt, often to the mind what medicine is to the body. Medicine is salutary, as it interrupts some unhealthy process, invigorates some weakened organ, or corrects some deranged function. But just as to live on medicine would be inconsistent with health, so, to live in solitude would be inconsistent with happiness. Even in a state of holiness, solitude is inconsistent with happiness; for, were there no advice to be asked, no comfort needed, no wants to be sup
Indeed worldly employments are no hindrances to communion with God. Paul the tent maker was surely as near to God as Paul the apostle. Neither are temptations any real hindrances. Our Lord in the wilderness, under Satan's most sub-plied, still, in solitude, there would be no object tile devices, was only drawn the nearer to his Father, by the efforts of the tempter to drive him
Let us bless God for active powers, and continuous employments. And if Eden required a dresser and a keeper, how much more may we look for incessant cares and labours in a world of sin? Let us, nevertheless, plant in the vacant field, and water in the dry; and in due time God will give the increase, and we shall reap, if we faint not.
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him,' Gen. ii. 18.
BECAUSE God alone is supremely wise and good, he is therefore the only proper Judge of what is good for any of his creatures. Of man, he pronounces-It is not good he should be alone; and to remedy the defect, he resolves to make an
for the affections, and thus, not only one department of our constitution totally unoccupied, but the chief source of our enjoyment totally dried up.
But when God created man, and formed an help meet for him, he did not contemplate the mere span of his obedience, but embraced in his beneficent and merciful purposes the whole period of his future history. And if, in Eden and in innocence, it was not good to leave him alone, much less could it be good for him when, as a guilty exile, he was driven forth to till the ground, now cursed for his sake, with no title but sin, no entail but sorrow, no home, no rest but the grave! And when, to counterbalance these severe, but yet merciful inflictions, God gave him the appeared the full wisdom and the goodness of the promise of 'the seed of the woman,' not till then provided companionship. His help meet then stood beside him not merely the partner in his guilt, and exile, and curse, and ‘toil,' and sorrow, but the depository of his highest trust, the reflector of his brightest hopes, the partaker, and, by partaking, the increaser of his liveliest joys, the counsellor in his deepest perplexities, the par
that they may be the guilty and unhappy agents of eternal destruction to their own offspring, or the honoured and blessed instruments of their eternal salvation and glory-then every impediment will give way under the irresistible pressure of these sovereign motives, and the work of
ticipator of his cares, the soother of his griefs, the healer of his wounded spirit, and the commissioned trustee of a lost world's redemption. To replenish that is not, as some imagine, to fill again, but to fill completely-the earth with inhabitants was one great part of the gracious purpose of the Creator; and to this end aa godly education will advance, blessing the lowly portion of his original blessing was specially cottages of the poor, and the lordly dwelling of directed. And if this gracious purpose has never the rich on earth, and swelling the train of those yet been fully realized, the fault lies not in any that follow the Lamb, and celebrate his praises in deficiency in the blessing, but in the folly and heaven. wickedness of men, by which the human race has been continually drained away in wars and fightings,' arising from the lusts that 'war in the members;' while the progress of population has been still farther impeded by the barbarism arising from the cruelties and devastations of war, and from the pestilences and famines that have invariably followed on its track.
But the mere multiplication of inhabitants was not God's full purpose. His purpose included the multiplication of men to know him as God, to remember him as Creator, to love him as Redeemer, to fear him as Judge, to be like him as Sanctifier, and to obey him as Lawgiver and Father. And here it is that the helpmeet's qualifications, and worth, and excellency, are to be chiefly discovered. In training up a vigorous youth to bodily activities or to mental acquirements, a father may effect much; but in training the child to teachableness, to self-denial, to gentleness, almost every thing depends upon a mother. A father may raise and finish a noble superstructure; a mother must previously have laid the unseen foundation. It is thus father and mother should combine and be mutually helpful to each other in training up their offspring in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But not as if a father's work begins only where a mother's ends. To ensure the ends of a good education, they must be concurrent instructors, and proceed upon one uniform system, and with one great object-not the mere accomplishments, but the salvation of their children. What a beautiful, what a glorious sight! a pious family on eartha redeemed family in heaven!
That the impediments to parental education are great and many, cannot be denied. Some are impeded by sickness, some chilled by poverty, others distracted by cares and troubles, some overwhelmed in business; but the great, and indeed the only insuperable impediment, is the neglect of salvation as the only worthy aim of in struction. When the value of a child is estimated by its soul-when the destiny of the child is felt to be heaven or hell-and when the parents fcel
Let it then be never forgotten, that, in every such union of earthly interests, eternal interests are inseparably involved. And let it be farther considered that these are the eternal interests not merely of the parties forming this union, but it may be the interests of many generations. How needful then to seek the divine guidance and blessing, remembering that, while house and riches are the inheritance of fathers, a prudent wife is from the Lord.' And that while favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; a woman that feareth the Lord she shall be praised.'
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,' Gen. ii. 16, 17.
EVERY created thing must be subject to some law; and every law must prescribe or enforce some limit beyond which the subject may not pass. This fact is manifest in God's works of creation. The planets in their heavenly courses are subject to the laws of motion and attraction from which they never depart. The plants in their earthly beds are subject to the laws of heat and moisture, and to which they are ever obedient in bud, and flower, and fruit. The beasts of the field, the fishes of the water, the fowls of the air, all follow the instinct, that is, the law of their respective natures. Shall man be found an exception to this general rule of creation? Certainly not. He must be the subject of some law, because he is a creature; and he must be subject to a moral law, because he is intelligent and accountable.
We find, accordingly, that the law given to Adam is neither the mechanical law that governs the heavenly bodies, nor the vegetable law that produces the plants, nor the instinctive law that
rules the lower tribes,—all which laws originate | a tree as a sacramental test of human obedience. and terminate in the constitution or qualities of But have they forgot that man was now confined the things themselves but is a law originating to vegetable food? Have they forgot that man had in the will of Almighty God himself, and ad- now no inclination to sin, while he had the same dressed to a creature possessing a will the image inclination then that he now has for food? Have of the will of God, not impressing necessities on they overlooked the fact, that to subordinate inclina mere body, but presenting reasons to an intelli-ations to the will of God is the only real morality? gent spirit.
In contemplating this law, we cannot fail to acknowledge, in the very first place, its great liberality; 'Of every tree of the garden,' saith the . sovereign Ruler, thou mayest freely eat.' And here it is specially to be observed, that while man continued in obedience, the tree of life was not excepted from the generous grant. It was the emblem, the pledge, the visible security of life; that is, of immortal life; for life, where death has not yet intruded, and where, by the conditions of the covenant, it cannot intrude, is immortal life.
Surely they cannot overlook, they cannot forget these facts. Now God placed his precept in the way of the only inclination that man could have to disobey; and, consequently in the only way where temptation could test obedience.
But farther, it has been objected, that so small a sin as the eating of a fruit, could not have provoked the divine displeasure as Adam's sin is represented to have provoked it. Here it is not important to question or discuss what men mean by small sins. Were that needful, it might be easily shown that there are few of the more heinous immoralities that were not in the sin of our But to remind our first parents that this liber- first parents-such as unbelief in God, the fruitful ality is not a right, but a gift-God is pleased to parent of all sin, ingratitude, covetousness, pride, except from the grant a single tree, to which he robbery, atheism. But to demonstrate this is gives the ominous name of 'the tree of the know- not our present object, we are only concerned ledge of good and evil.' And here it is to be to examine how far the test was suited to the carefully noted that, in creation, all was pro-state of man, and worthy of the divine Legislator. nounced 'good,' yea, very 'good;' and that now when 'evil' is superadded, as a possibility, the description of that evil is, thou shalt surely die.' Whether we contemplate God or man, this was a most appropriate ordinance. It was fit that God, as the Sovereign of the world, should still retain some royalty, as it were, in his own possession, to remind man of his dependence and his allegiance. It was suited also to the condition of man. Adam was not now the victim of the 'carnal mind' to which sin has enslaved his posterity. He was free from all tendency or desire to moral wrong. Had God, therefore, given him a mere moral law, such as is addressed to sinners, regarding a moral good to be done, or a moral evil to be avoided, there would have been no suitableness of the law to the creature. God, therefore, gives him a law suited to his condition of innocence; that is, a positive injunction, not a moral precept; yet a positive injunction involving all moral consequences in its breach or observance.
The divine injunction was intended to impress upon man that the reason of obedience is to be referred implicitly to the divine will; and that because the divine will is simply an expression of the divine nature, that is, of the divine wisdom, sovereignty, goodness, and mercy.
Thoughtless, ignorant, and foolish men, have raised various objections against this narrative. They have objected against the appointment of
That it was suitable to the state of man, we have seen, because it stood in the only path where temptation could test allegiance. That it was suited to the dignity of God must be admitted, as dignity consists not in soaring infinitely above his creatures, but in condescending to their low estate, an estate that must always be low, just because God is high; and that can never be elevated, but in proportion as God 'humbleth himself to see the things in the earth.' Now the test was worthy of the God of wisdom, because it could be, and was most clearly stated, and because it was most perfectly understood, and because, in breach or observance, it formed a perfect witness between the parties to the original covenant.
The institution of the tree of knowledge was farther worthy of God, because it exemplified his goodness, secured the multitude of his other favours, and prescribed a law of the most easy and simple observance.
The narrative, independently of the character. miracles, and prophecies of Moses, carries in its bosom its own evidence. Man never could have invented a narrative so simple, a plan so efficient, so worthy of God, or so suitable to man.
It details the legislation of innocence, one simple injunction, one implied promise, one awful sanction. How easy the study, how easy the obedience of the law. Hasten, Lord, the time
when still greater simplicity of law, and still greater ease yea, delight-of obedience shall be established! When Christ shall be the Kingparadise the kingdom-saints the subjects, and love the only law!
‘And when the woman saw that the tree was good
took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and gave
Gen. iii. 6.
temptations to tendencies, that, before we are aware, the seeds of infidelity and of immoralityinfidelity's inseparable offspring-are deeply sown in the heart, and advancing to maturity before we are aware of their existence.
In another remarkable particular do the temptations of infidelity resemble that of the serpent. He represented the tree as desirable 'to make one wise, thus sophistically confounding knowledge and wisdom. That the woman would know more
when she had sinned, was a literal truth-that she would be wiser, was an absolute falsehood. Even so does infidelity ever affect to ally itself with philosophy, and by 'great swelling words of vanity' to deceive the minds of the simple. Nay, even sound philosophy, legitimately inquiring into the truths of nature, often produces the same injurious effect, by leading away the mind from the
We are truly informed that evil communications corrupt good manners,' and we are solemnly warned to have no fellowship with the unfruit-invisible things of God,' and riveting the attention ful works of darkness.' And if inattention to these lessons brought ruin upon a state of innocence, how needful for our recovery from a state
That we may justly estimate their value, let us trace the progress of the first sin arising from the neglect of them; for in that sin we have not only the fountain, but the similitude of all other sins. In examining the sin we must first observe what leads to its commission-the woman holding converse with the serpent. In this she contravened no positive law, but seemed to be guided by the general principles of sociality. Nay more, she was called on to converse of God, and his gifts and prohibitions, and to communicate information to an apparently anxious inquirer. Now in all this she sinned not. Perhaps we may not even call her prudence in question, as, for aught
appears, she may have been totally ignorant of the character of her inquirer. But the moment the serpent commences to contradict God's word, and to brave his threatenings, or to insinuate against him a charge of insincerity, stinginess, or jealousy—and the moment she lends a willing ear to this contradiction and charge, then commences that sin by which our first parents fell, and death was entailed on themselves and their posterity.
And so ordinarily commences every subsequent sin, especially the sin of infidelity. The infidel assumes the form of a modest inquirer after the things of God; starts first some difficulties we are requested to solve; insinuates some doubts we are entreated to weigh; and when the equilibrium of the mind is disturbed, puts forth some bolder contradiction of a divine truth; suggests some argument in favour of greater liberty than the word of God permits; and thus, so well suits
altogether to visible and perishing objects.
The next view of this sin presents it as arising from agreeableness to the appetite and the eye. And these still continue to be the most vulnerable quarters upon which satan makes his assaults, and where he gains his victories. The moment our attention is fixed upon what we shall eat, and what we shall drink,' farewell communion with a holy Father and a crucified Saviour; and the moment the mere beauties of nature and art take full possession of our imaginations, the beauty of holiness' loses all its attractiveness, and we become idolaters of the creature, while we forget the Creator, and are betrayed to worship the works of men's hands, whilst we think we are but admiring them as mere objects of curiosity or taste.
Another point demanding our most serious attention is, the instant activity and zeal that sin inspires for its farther propagation. The moment the woman had taken, she gave-and what is specially lamentable, she gave to him who was bone of her bone, and copartner in her destiny, and thus misled and ruined her nearest and dearest friend. And so would every sinner have others to sin with him :—
'Depravity's own work is to deprave.' There is an apostolic zeal in the cause of evil that presents a bold similarity to the most ardent zeal in the cause of good,- -a zeal that will often compass sea and land to make one proselyte,' and seeks and finds its reward in making him a child of hell.' But alas! how much is sin aggravated when it is communicated through the channels of kindred and family; when husbands and wives encourage one another to forget God; when parents train up their children in the way that
When, moved by the importunity of his wife, Adam took of the fruit and did eat, he knew he was commanded to replenish the earth; therefore must have known that he represented all his posterity, and that they would be involved in his sin and misery. Accordingly the scriptures inform us that by the disobedience of one many were made sinners,' and 'as by one man's disobedience, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.'
they should not go; and the table of friendship | sight of God himself. It is impossible to enumeis turned into a snare. rate all the sources from which those excuses are drawn; but it may be useful to instance a few of the most common, not to suggest them for the use of sinners, but, by the mere mention of their names, to demonstrate their futility. Not a few, for example, seek their excuse in admitting their sin, but pleading, in palliation, that it is a little one. Others, again, will not plead the littleness of their sin, but urge the infrequency of its commission. Others will plead their ignorance of the evil of their sin, and urge that whatever has been wrong in their conduct, they did not intend. Others charge their sin to mere want of thought, or assert that the temptation took them suddenly and unawares. Others will plead the imperfection of their natural temper, and affect to deplore that it is weak or ungovernable; while others produce, as a full satisfaction for all that is past, their purpose or determination to amend for the future. But of all excuses the chief is that which shifts the sin from the sinner's own shoulders, and lays the burden of the guilt upon another. This was the first excuse, and urged in reply to the questioning of God himself; and, since that hour, it has constituted the great model upon which most excuses for sin have been formed.
Can that sin be small which disbelieved God, and gave full credence to the devil? Can that sin be sinal that renounced allegiance to the Creator, and knowingly inflicted ruin upon all his posterity?
Yet of this sinful parent, are we the sinful children! How humbling are such views of human nature. Weak it was in innocence, how much weaker when fallen! How wonderful the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, who though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich!' That to the tree of knowledge we might really be admitted, even to that tree of the knowledge of good unmixed with evil! To that tree of life which is in the paradise of God, and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations!
And let it be seriously observed, that all good to the descendants of Adam must come in the form of healing. 'Lord, heal my soul,' must each of us say, for I have offended thee.' And they that be whole need not the physician, but 'they that are sick.' Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' What gratitude do we not owe to the second Adam? Who from the fallen earth raises to a throne in heaven; who from slavery conducts to freedom, from ruin to restoration, from darkness to day, from death to life, from degradation to glory!
Before we can fully comprehend the futility of the excuse, we must examine the circumstances that led to it as a final effort to escape from the accusations of conscience, or the cognisance and judgment of God.
Our first parents, while in innocence, had freely conversed with God. But the moment they had sinned, being smitten by their conscience,' they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. Whence we discover that the object of every excuse is, in some manner, to hide our sin. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave unto
And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, me, and I did eat.' Now in this reply it is to
and I did eat,' Gen. iii. 13.
AN unconverted sinner is never found without some ready excuse for his sin; and every excuse has one of three objects. The first object is to satisfy the sinner's own conscience, or, at all events, to silence its accusations; the second, is to satisfy the reason, or to silence the rebukes of others; and the third, is to palliate or justify sin in the
be remarked, that it is not obvious whether Adam charges his sin more to the woman than to God himself; for while he relates that the woman 'gave to him,' he tells the Lord, it was the woman whom he had given to be with him. So that it would appear he traces the evil back to God, and charges to his gift, the shame and the guilt in which he now stands before his Judge.