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Were they to think much of so small an act of self-denial, where so much was provided for their indulgence? Were they to be so unmindful of all which He had done for them, and of all the good things which He had in store for them, as to refuse Him so small a testimony of their regard ? Amazing! Incredible that such favours should be so requited!] 4. What rebellion !
[God had an undoubted right to command; and, whatever His injunctions were, they were bound to obey them. But how do they regard this single, this easy precept? They set it at nought: they transgress it: they violate it voluntarily, immediately, and without so much as a shadow of reason. They lose sight of all the considerations of duty, or interest: they are absorbed in the one thought of personal gratification; and upon that they rush, without one moment's concern, how much they may displease their Friend and Benefactor, their Creator and Governor, their Lord and Judge. Shall not God visit for such rebellion as this?]
After their transgression, we are naturally led to inquire into, III. Their recompence
Satan had told them, that “their eyes should be opened :" but little did they think in what sense his words should be verified! “ Their eyes were now opened;" but only like the eyes of the Syrian army when they saw themselves in the heart of an enemy's country", or those of the rich man when he lifted them up in hell torments. They beheld now, what it was their happiness not to know, the consequences of sin. They beheld, 1. The guilt they had contracted
[Sin, while yet they were only solicited to commit it, appeared of small malignity: its present pleasures seemed to overbalance its future pains. But when the bait was swallowed, how glad would they have been if they had never viewed it with desire, or ventured to trespass on what they knew to have been forbidden! Now all the aggravations of their sin would rush into their minds at once, and overwhelm them with shame. It is true, they could not yet view their conduct with penitence and contrition, because God had not yet vouchsafed to them the grace of repentance:
The guilt they ha were only solicit pleasures seen
they could at present feel little else than self-indignant rage, and self-tormenting despondency: but their anguish, though not participating the ingenuous feelings of self-lothing and self-abhorrence, must have been pungent beyond all expression: and they must have seemed to themselves to be monsters of iniquity.] 2. The misery they had incurred
[Wherever they cast their eyes, they must now see how awfully they were despoiled. If they lifted them up to heaven, there they must behold the favour of their God for ever forfeited. If they cast them around, every thing must remind them of their base ingratitude; and they would envy the meanest of the brute creation. If they looked within, O what a sink of iniquity were they now become! The nakedness of their bodies, which in innocence administered no occasion for shame, now caused them to feel what need they had of covering, not for their bodies merely, but much more for their souls. If they thought of their progeny, what pangs must they feel on their account; to have innumerable generations rise in succession to inherit their depravity, and partake their doom! If they contemplated the hour of dissolution, how terrible must that appear! to be consigned, through diseases and death, to their native dust; and to protract a miserable existence in that world, whither the fallen angels were banished, and from whence there can be no return! Methinks, under the weight of all these considerations, they wept till they could weep no more e; and till their exhausted nature sinking under the load, they fell asleep through excess of sorrow'.] INFER,
1, How deplorable is the state of every unregenerate man!
[Any one who considers the state of our first parents after their fall, may easily conceive that it was most pitiable. But their case is a just representation of our own. We are despoiled of the divine image, and filled with all hateful and abominable dispositions: we are under the displeasure of the Almighty: we have nothing to which we can look forward in this world, but troubles, disorders, and death; and in the eternal world, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish for evermore. Why do we not endeavour to get our minds suitably affected with this our melancholy condition? Why do we not see ourselves, as in a glass; and apply to ourselves that commiseration which we are ready to bestow on our
first parents? Alas! “the god of this world hath blinded our minds :" else we should smite upon our breasts with sorrow and anguish, and implore without delay the mercy which we so much need.]
2. How astonishing was the grace of God in providing a Saviour for us !
[It is needless to say that our first parents could do nothing to repair the evil which they had committed. And how far they were from attempting to make reparation for it, we see, when they fled from God, and cast the blame on others, yea even on God himself, rather than acknowledge their transgressions before him. But God, for His own great name sake, interposed, and promised them a Saviour, through whom they, and their believing posterity, should be restored to his favour. To this gracious promise we owe it, that we are not all involved in endless and irremediable misery. Let heaven and earth stand astonished at the goodness of our God! And let all the sinners of mankind testify their acceptance of his proffered mercy, by fleeing for refuge to the hope set before them.]
3. How vigilant should we all be against the devices of Satan!
[He who “ beguiled Eve under the form of a serpent," can assume any shape, for the purpose of deceiving us. He is sometimes " transformed into an angel of light," so that we may be ready to follow his advice, as if he were a messenger from heaven. But we may easily distinguish his footsteps, if only we attend to the following inquiries :-Does he lessen in our eyes the sinfulness of sin? Does he weaken our apprehensions of its danger? Does he persuade us to that which is forbidden? Would he make us think lightly of that which is threatened? Does he stimulate our desires after evil by any considerations of the pleasure or the profit that shall attend it? Does he calumniate God to us, as though He were unfriendly, oppressive, or severe? If our temptations be accompanied with any of these things, we may know assuredly that “the enemy hath done this," and that he is seeking our destruction. Let us then be on our guard against him. Let us watch and pray that we enter not into temptation. However remote we may imagine ourselves to be from the love of evil, let us not think ourselves secure: for if Satan vanquished our first parents under all the advantages they enjoyed, he will certainly overcome us, unless “ we resist him," "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."]
EXCUSES MADE BY OUR FIRST PARENTS, AFTER THEIR FALL.
Gen. iii. 11–13. Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I com
manded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
THE immediate effects of sin are not easily discovered by us at this time : for if we look for them in ourselves, our partiality and self-love conceal them from us; and if we look for them in others, the universal prevalence of those effects prevents us from ascribing them to their proper cause. To see them in their true colours, we should be able to contrast the habits of some person during a state of innocence with those which he manifests after the commission of sin. Doubtless there are glaring instances of iniquity, from the investigation of which we may gather instruction : but we shall make our observations to the greatest advantage, if we examine the records respecting the conduct of our first parents after their unhappy fall. The accounts given of them are not indeed very full and circumstantial; yet the narration, brief as it is, is sufficient to elucidate the immediate influence of sin upon the mind, as well as its remoter consequences in the destruction of the soul. There are two things in particular which we shall be led to notice from the words before us; I. The way in which men betray their consciousness
of guiltMark the conduct of our first parents. While they were innocent, they were strangers either to shame or fear: but instantly after their transgression, they made coverings for themselves of fig-leaves, and fied from the presence of their God. Here we may behold ourselves as in a glass : they have set a pattern to us which all their posterity have followed :
however men may affect to be innocent, they all betray their consciousness of guilt in these two things;
1. They conceal themselves from themselves, and from each other
[Knowing that their hearts are depraved, and that, if narrowly inspected, they would exhibit a most disgusting appearance, men will not turn their eyes inwards. They will not examine the motives and principles of their actions : they cast a veil over the workings of pride and ambition, of envy and malice, of falsehood and covetousness, of carnality and selfishness: and then, because they see no evil in their actions, they hastily conclude there is none. And so successful are they in hiding from themselves their own deformity, that when all around them are even amazed at the impropriety of their conduct, they take credit to themselves for virtuous principles and laudable deportment.
If we should attempt to open their eyes, and to set before them their own picture, they would not even look at it, but would be offended with our fidelity, and condemn us as destitute of either charity or candour.
Now, would men act in this manner if they had not a secret consciousness that all was not right within ? Would they not rather be glad of any assistance whereby they might discover any latent evil ; or, at least, be glad to “come to the light, that their deeds might be made manifest that they were wrought in God?"
There is the still greater anxiety in men to hide their shame from each other. The whole intercourse of mankind with each other is one continued system of concealment. All endeavour to impose on others, by assuming the appearances of virtue; but no one will give credit to his neighbour for being as guiltless in his heart as he seems to be in his conduct. A thorough knowledge of a person whose principles have been tried, will indeed gain our confidence: but who has so good an opinion of human nature in general as to commit his wife or daughter to the hands of a perfect stranger; or to give him unlimited access to all his treasures; or even to take his word, where he can as easily obtain a legal security? But, if men were not conscious of depravity within themselves, why should they be so suspicious of others? The fact is, they know themselves to have many corrupt propensities; and justly concluding that human nature is the same in all, they feel the necessity of withholding confidence where they have not been warranted by experience to place it.]
2. They shun, rather than desire, the presence of their God