Sivut kuvina

not commit; murder would have reduced him to absolute solitude; and robbery has been introduced, by the inordinate desires and the idler wants of social life, to which he was at that time a stranger, and which he had it in his power to satisfy, if he had been so inclined, by the most unbounded gratification. The one law, therefore, was simply obedience to his maker. He transgressed this law; he incurred the penalty; he entailed sin and death on himself and his posterity. The experience of ages has convinced us, that the observance of laws must be secured by penalty, and that punishment must follow delinquency; if not, the efficacy of the law is totally destroyed, and the lawgiver despised. We see, every day, before our eyes, that neither the almost certain loss of life, nor the danger of eternal destruction, can deter men from the commission of the most

enormous crimes.

B 2

Shortly Shortly after the fall of man, its pernicious consequences began to be apparent. Adam perceived the full effect of histransgression, in the guilt of one son, and in the death of the other; he felt how bitter death could be, in the loss of Abel. The image of Adam in Cain, was a mind capable of, and inclined to, corruption; and (horrid to relate) the first overt instance of it was, the murder of an amiable brother: Was this the kind of man, can we suppose, that God created? This propensity to what is wrong, which we feel in every one of us, and which we see (unaccountably as we think) in the violent passions, the greediness, the falsity, and the malice.even of infants, is denominated original sin; it is what St. Paul calls “the law of our “ members warring against the law of our “ mind;'* it is an impulse to the improper gratification of our sensual appetites and passions, contrary to the express command of God, and destructive of the good of society. * In the midst, however, of justice, God remembered mercy: he promised a descendant of the man he had created, who should redeem mankind from the penalty they had incurred, who should teach them the most exalted virtue, and who should exemplify, in his own person, its practicability, and the possibility of the perfection of man. This Redeemer was to be at once an ensample of godly life, and a vicarious sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

* Rom. vii. 23.

It is supposed, by one learned commentator,t that no carnal sacrifices took place before

* Eti de peri Job outo gegraptai. Job een dicaios kai amemptos, alethinos, theosebees, apekomenos apo panton kakou, all autos eautou kategorôn legei, Oudeis katharos apo rupou oude ei mias eemeras ee Zoee autou.

CLEMENS ROMANUS. Psalm li. 5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin hath my mother conceived me.

[blocks in formation]

the flood: the firstlings of Abel's flock, he thinks, might possibly be the milk of that flock, as the Hebrew word signifies either milk or fat; but others are of a different opinion, and consider animal sacrifices as commanded soon after the fall,* by the Almighty himself, as types of the great sacrifice of his Son; and this, indeed, may best explain the Apostle's observation, that “ by faith Abel offered a

more excellent sacrifice than Cain;"f he believed in the redemption. The characters of the two brothers are properly discriminated in Scripture: Abel was humble, pious, and submissive to his Maker; Cain was sullen, discontented, and malicious. After the deluge, mention is made of Noah's sacrifice; with which the Lord, to speak after the man

* One learned writer supposes that the skins with which the Almighty cloathod our first parents, were those of the sacrifices, as it was unlikely that any animals should die so soon, or that Adam should kill them for his own use.

+ St. Paul. Heb. xi. 4.


ner of men, is said to be delighted.* The patriarch Abraham must have been extremely astonished, to receive from God a clear command to offer up a human sacrifice: and it is impossible he could reconcile this with the promises of God, except by a firm persuasion of the resurrection of the dead. Accordingly the Apostle tells us, that “ by “ faith Abraham, when he was tried, of“ fered up Isaac; and he that had received 6 the promises, offered up his only begotten

son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac “ shall thy seed be called; accounting that “ God was able even to raise him up from o the dead.”+


* No doubt, I think, could be formed that sacrifices were of divine appointment; man, in his savage state, would have been led, by natural instinct, to have eaten the victim, rather than to have consumed it in the fire to his God. This must surely have been the effect of revelation.-See more on sacrifices in Sermon vi.

+ Heb. xi. 17.

« EdellinenJatka »