Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

SECTION IV.

Of the Law of Innocence.

ORIGINAL Sin is transgression of the Law of Innocence. The law given to our first parents as a constitution of ruling, consisted in the positive command, "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. 17.] We derive information respecting this constitution, chiefly from the writings of the Jewish legislator and magistrate Moses, and of the apostle Paul. Moses informs us of the munificence of Divine working, displayed in the actual creation of Adam, and of his suitable partner and helpmeet Eve: also of the free favour of God, in placing them in a sphere of full accommodation, with a defence from evils by collisions, a garden planted and arranged, of every thing pleasing to sight, every thing fit for food, exclusive of every thing unwholesome, and the tree of life, adapted to perpetuate their longevity; accompanied with a communication of instruction respecting their food and exercise, which was indispensible. Thus the LORD God selected a constitutional test of their allegience, from those familiar objects, which, as possessing properties related to their imagination, taste, and appetite, must have been esteemed interesting;-in his wisdom, consonant with his justice and goodness, placed two peculiar trees in the midst of the garden, the tree of life, and tree of the knowledge of good and evil, with continuing to eat of the fruit of one, seems to have connected eternal life, and

with once eating off the other, evidently connected death. That God by a positive injunction, supernaturally, and of benevolence, manifested a covenant, or constitution of ruling, a test of their devotion, or rebellion in this prohibition, "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, dying thou shalt die."-Moses also informs us, that in the sequel, our first parents fell from the high, holy, happy, and honourable estate, in which they were created and placed, by eating the forbidden fruit. The reader is requested to peruse the narration, Gen. ii. 16, 17, and iii. 1—6. In the seventh and eighth verses, we are informed of the immediate consequent of their disobedience, their arraignment, pleas, and sentence follow. Compare also in way of exposition, Rev. xii. 9.-What St. Paul hath written on the fall of man from primeval rectitude, is chiefly in his epistle to the Romans, and epistle to the Corinthians. See Rom. v. 12, to the end. I Cor. xv. 21, 22, 45, 46, 47.

From this narration, with the comment on, and use made, of the fact by St. Paul, we collect, That our first parents were favoured with intercourse, fellowship, and communion, with their Maker; and received from him a commandment, accompanied with an enforcement;-that this enforcement could not be reasonably conceived by them, less than loss of conscious existence, or becoming as Adam was before the LORD God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; that the man was essentially, and by positive appointment, constituted a representative head of the human species, who would in some respects and to a certain extent, share the consequences of his conduct;-that, both Adam and Eve supported their integrity, and failed not in their allegience, respecting this positive injunction, until attacked with temptation;-that the woman was first seduced, and in the transgression, and afterward

became a mean of the tempter to seduce the man ;that they believed the tempter, and disbelieved God, holiness degenerated, innocence dies, disobedience exists, they chose to transgress the constitution-precept;-that wilful, deliberate, avoidable transgression of our first parents, was a forfeiture of the favour, and loss of the moral image of God, and this not for themselves only, but for their posterity also, [Rom. v. 18.]-that the immediate consequent, after the pleasure of sinning had retired, was conscious degradation, shame, confusion, and abjection of spirit; that the LORD God again favoured our progenitors with an interview, arraigned, and sentenced the sinners, and manifested a constitution of mercy, opened a door of hope, and benevolently clothed them; that Jehovah God changed his conduct towards our first parents, drove them from the pleasant inclosure and selected accommodations of the garden, to conflict with the tribulation, which hath been the portion and experience of every succeeding generation, at the same time, setting a guard of angels at the avenue of the garden, and way to the tree of life, thereby effectually preventing their eating off that tree, and in consequence, defeating his just sentence, by virtue of a medium, to which they had forfeited the right of appropriation.

Keeping in memory the foregoing strictures; The state of Innocence,-The actual Transgression,The consequent Punishment, and the actual Transmission of Depravity to Posterity,—claim our more particular attention.

Of the state of Innocence.

Concerning the previous state of Innocence, it is manifest, the man immediately created, and being just come out of the hands of God, was in a state

proper to his nature of good temper, pure and innocent, without any moral disorder. He enjoyed the highest desirable, even communion with a superior intelligent being. He had no law but that of his nature, or what he received by immediate revelation from God; nor any defect, but that which is unavoidably incident to every thing created, which may be perfect in its kind, but cannot be absolutely so; that being exclusively proper to God.-Again, "We must admit, that if man's understanding at first was ever so clear, and his senses and faculties ever so strong, yet having made no observations, and being absolutely without experience, he could know no more of general truths, than what God communicated to him, And there was no need that God should reveal more knowledge to him, than was at present to be used by him.” "Nor was it any imperfection in the first man, that he was ignorant of the nature of many things, if we suppose that he had a certain way to come to that knowledge, when he had occasion for it. For the design of knowledge is not to amuse us, or fill our heads with notions, but to serve and direct us in the affairs of life. It is only this sort of knowledge that is truly valuable; and he who has most of it, and best applies it, is to be accounted most wise." God could by miracle perhaps have commu nicated to man all the general knowledge, any single man has since attained by philosophy, history, or revelation; but we are informed merely, that God, (himself or by angels,) instructed our parents concerning what they should eat and drink, and to dress and keep the garden for its production; and it does not appear they possessed any species of instinctive knowledge, which should supercede instruction, beyond what is now enjoyed. God perhaps did communicate to our first parents some language by miracle, as to the disciples on the day of pentecost, yet we find him exercising their natural ability, by bringing the living creatures to Adam, for his

naming them of his own invention, who called his wife's name Eve, because to be the mother of all living. Therefore we must conceive, that Adam was under the immediate conduct and direction of God, and was not to judge for himself, but was to cheerfully leave himself entirely to be guided and directed by his Maker." Now if man was not to feed himself but with food of God's selection," which saved him the trouble and hazard of finding out by trial what was fit for him, it seems reasonable to believe that in every affair of life he was to depend on the same direction; that he was not to asume to himself knowledge of good and evil, that is, of what was profitable or hurtful to him, but humbly and entirely to depend on God for the determination thereof; and whilst he did so he could never know evil, because God would always direct him to what was good, and to that only."

It is probable that man, by his constitution, was subject to decay of nature; even unto death but yet was capable of immortality. The tree of life is represented as the grand medium of perpetuating our parents existence,and seems to have had properties congenial to their animal properties and constitution, which constitution itself was eminently calculated for enduring, since the lives of the first generations were so very long, although deprived of the tree of life and the other Divine provisions of paradise, to which no defect of the generative principle was preventive, for such was the fact that Methuselah, several generations after, lived to a greater age than Adam.

As every decree of God involves his provision of consequents for the hypothetical antecedents, whether conformity, or non-conformity, of the creature; and as every law, given to an agent, involves provision in case of obedience, and provision in case of disobedience; so the constitution precept, given our first parents, evidently involved provision in case of obedience, and provision in case of disobedience. Pro

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »