« 上一頁繼續 »
For us he formed the lower world, with all its various orders of beings and productions. For us he commanded the sun to shine, to cheer us with its reviving beams; the waters to flow, to quench our thirst and enrich our fields; the air to circulate to support life, and to fan us with its refreshing gales. To us also he subjected the several parts of the animal creation, and gave us dominion over the works of his hands: “ thou,” says the grateful psalmist, " hast put all things under his feet: all sheep " and oxen; yea, and the beasts of the field, “ the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea, " and whatsoever walketh through the paths of " the sea.”. So manifold are his mercies towards the children of men !
And is it not the same indulgent affection of God, which still preserves and supports us amid all the changes and chances of this mortal life? In the day time he guides us with his almighty arm, and in the night he watcheth over us for our good. On the bed of sickness he comforts our drooping spirits, and in the hour of distress is our merciful support and protector. With the bread of life he sustains us, and refreshes our souls with the dew of heaven.
But the great act of God's love, which the present solemnity in a more especial manner calls upon us to remember, is the sending his Son into the world to die for our sins, that we might live through him. An act so great and astonishing, as no words can sufficiently express; a tragedy so bloody and bitter, as no tears can sufficiently bewail !
Here then let your most devout and contrite thoughts accompany me, whilst I trace this great act of God's love, from the fall of our first unhappy parent in Paradise to our final redemption, at this time accomplished at Jerusalem ; that you inay more fully be convinced, “what manner “ of love it is that the Father hath bestowed “ upon us.”
In the infancy of the world, God Almighty, willing to communicate some share of that happiness which he had enjoyed from all eternity, created man upon earth in his own similitude, and breathed into him the breath of life. And that he might preserve that life, on the one hanci he placed before him the pure and permanent satisfactions of innocence; on the other, the dangerous consequences of guilt and disobedience; to the one he promised the palm of eternal glory, to the other he denounced the torments of endless misery. He gave him moreover the freedom of choice, and to direct that choice, superadded the noble and instructive faculty of reason, and the powerful monitions of conscience. And having thus placed before him good and evil, life and death; he left him in the hands of his own counsel, to be the author of eternal happiness or misery to himself and his posterity,
Here then was a scheme of administration worthy the prudence of an all-wise Being, a plan becoming the benevolence of an all-merciful Creator. And what then was the consequence of this equitable and indulgent plan ? --Sad, sad indeed, to relate! Man, being thus left to his own guidance, in spite of all the great advantages afforded him, listening to the solicitations of an evil spirit, threw off his dependence upon God, fell from his original purity, brought misery upon himself, and entailed a curse upon his wretched posterity.
And now then was his before thrice-happy situation widely and deplorably altered indeed! Now sin entered into the world, and death by sin : a deluge of corruption overspread the face of the whole earth ; and this corruption was the more terrible, as its contagion not only infected the body, but tainted also the nobler faculties of
the mind, subjecting the one to misfortune, pain, and disease; the other, to ignorance, temptation and guilt; so as to leave scarce one trace or feature of the divine purity remaining.
But worse than all this was yet behind. His infirmities and miseries he might have borne: but the anger of an offended God who can bear? His conscience told him that he had abused the talents committed to his charge, and therefore had nothing to look for but fiery indignation What therefore shall he do in this hour of distress, or what satisfaction can he offer to appease the justice of a righteous Judge? Shall he fly to thickets for shelter, and hide himself in the trees of the garden? But will these conceal his guilt from the eyes of an all-seeing God? No: his voice will find him even there, and compel him, with amazement and trembling, to cry out, “I
heard thy voice, and was afraid.” Shall he then confess himself to God, and profess amendment and obedience for the future? Still that obedience must be imperfect, and therefore could be no reparation for his past transgression. Or even, if God should have been willing to have pardoned him upon his sincere repentance and renewed pbedience, yet this could have given him no hopes of a reward too, and that no less . a reward than eternal salvation. And yet, unless . VOL. 11.
this be added to pardon, nature must for ever have remained unsatisfied, and the path that leads to the grave,' must have appeared both to him and us all, dark, dreary, and uncomfortable.
Should he then, by way of satisfaction, offer unto God a bullóck out of his house, or a he. goat out of his fold? But will God then eat , bull's-flesh, or drink the blood of goats ? Or if lre were so disposed, are not all the beasts of the forest his, and the cattle upon a thousand hills ? Is not the whole world his, and all that is therein ?. -What satisfaction therefore, could he hope to .. make by giving unto God that which was his already? And after all, though God was pleased to accept of such sacrifices under the Jewish disa pensation, yet it is impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats should ever take away sin.
It appears then, that only two methods could possibly be devised, which could afford our first parent the least glimpse of hope of appeasing the Deity's offended justice, namely, repentance and sacrifice; and both these totally insufficient to procure salvation. " He looked, therefore, but “ there was none that would know him; and he « wondered that there was no intercessor.” .