Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER VII.

of the Fall of Man and Original Sin.

SECTION 1.

When the great Creator had formed our first Parents, Adam and Eve, and endowed them with excel. leut faculties, he abundantly provided for their support and happiness, by placing them in Paradise, the garden of Eden. There, animals of all classes were collected, in order that they might be named by Adam, and put under his dominion; and all the beautiful, fragrant, and nutritious productions of the vegetable world, were introduced, in order that the cultivation of them might furnish a fit employment for

pure and harmiess man, and lead him, for whom all these wonders had been called forth, to study and admire the works, and to glorify the name of their benevolent and Almighty Author.

§ 2. Man having been made in the image of God, was, in his first estate, supremely honoured by intercourse with Heaven; gifted with free-will and knowledge, with holiness and righteousness, with immortality and blessedness.

§ 3. It pleased Jehovah to enter into covenant with his creature; to promise him a continuance of all the great and inestimable blessings which had been bestowed upon him when he proceeded from the hand of his Creator, and graciously to bind Himself by this engagement, requiring only the fulfilment on the part of man of certain prescribed conditions, which, by nature and disposition, he was inclined and able to perform.

§ 4. The terms on which blessedness and immortality, all temporal and eternal good, were insured to our first Parents, and in them to their Posterity, were entire submission and unsinning obedience to the natural and moral Law engraven on their hearts, and to a certain specific command, which, for wise purposes, the Almighty saw tit to impose upon them. The penalty attached to the breach of this Covenant

was the loss of happiness and life; the infliction of e temporal, spiritual, and eternal death. To this most

advantageous contract, Adam, and in him all his posterity, became a party : and he thus obliged himself and them, either to fulfil the terms, or to undergo the penalty.

65. The specific condition of the primæval compact between God and Man, denominated from its character, the Covenant of Works,'—the particular injunction by which trial of Adam's submission and obedience was to be made, was this,- that he should not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the only one of all the trees in the garden thus prohibited. The inducements to infringe this positive law, seem to have been, a natural thirst for knowledge and independence, a desire to gratify the senses, and the excitements of curiosity. The probable reason of its selection,---moral prohibitions not being applicable to a state of innocence,—was its being indifferent in its nature, devoid of intrinsic good or evil; and thus calculated more fully to illustrate the sovereign will of God and the implicit obedience of do

DS

man.

ed

$ 6. But a short time after the establishment of this Covenant, an evil and envious Spirit, the Devil, or Satan, assuming the bright and fascinating form of a subtle Serpent, in order to disguise his treacherous intent, tempted the first woman Eve, by false representations of the divine purpose in prohibiting the use of a certain tree, and of the advantages to be obtained by breaking through this restraint, to defy the threats of the Omnipotent; and induced her to eat of the forbidden fruit. Eve prevailed upon her husband to become her companion in transgression : and the Covenant was broken! Man, by his own free-will, in opposition to his natural rectitude and divine illumination, fell from his state of innocence and peace, and incurred the displeasure of God with all the sad predicted consequences. God was by no means the author of sin, because he did not by his Almighty power prevent the first transgression. He only permitted it, because he could not, consistently with the declaration of his will, put a coercive restriction upon that free liberty of chusing either good or evil, with which he had endued Adam when he created him just and upright.

§ 7. The immediate effects of the first heinous and aggravated sin, contempt of the command of God, and deep ingratitude towards him, were,—that the transgressors perceived at once the degradation into which they had fallen; that innocence and peace were

exchanged for the consciousness of guilt, remorse, and fear. The image of God within the Soul was sensibly defaced. Condemnation of the man to toil and sorrow, and of the woman to the pains of childbirth and subservience to her husband, was followed by their expulsion from the delightful scene of their former happiness. As a monument of the divine wrath, the nature of the serpent, the minister of evil, was debased. The earth was cursed with noxious weeds and comparative sterility; and the whole face of nature was deteriorated and subjected to disorder.

$ 8. By the Fall of Adam, his human body became obnoxious to pain, disease, and death ; his ine tellectual faculties were impaired and darkened; his

free-will inclined to evil instead of good, and rendered i liable to the dominion of unruly passions and propen

sities, tending to vice, terminating in the dissolution of the body, and meriting condemnation of the soul to future punishment.

§ 9. By Original Sin is meant the hereditary stain and corruption of nature which is the consequence of apostacy and breach of covenant in our first Parents, entailed upon all mankind, who were comprehended and represented by them in their crime.

10. The Essence of Original Sin, the inheritance of every one who is born after the common course of nature of the posterity of Adam, consists in these particulars : that man is far gone from original righteousness, and strongly inclined to evil; that he is destitute of those peculiar graces which formed in a great measure his resemblance to the Deity; that his faculties are depraved ; and that, in consequence of the weakness and corruption of his nature, he is incapable of willing and seeking rightly his present or future spiritual happiness, without the preventing and co-operating aid of God's most holy Spirit.

$ 11. The guilt of the first transgression, and the punishment denounced against it, are so imputed, or reckoned as belonging to the whole posterity of Adam, that no one can be born into the world free

Ge from the stain of guilt, and exempt from liability to E punishment: thus all are by nature born in sin, and me the children of wrath,

$ 12. The imputation of the guilt of original Sin, and the liability to condemnation on that account, are removed by Regeneration, by being born again of water and the Spirit, in the Sacrament of Baptism; but the infection or inherited corruption of nature still continues, even in the regenerate, to incline to fleshly passions, and to transgression of the divine laws: and, as being the source of actual sin, the cause from which such ill effects proceed, it must of itself partake of the nature of Sin, and deserve the wrath of God.

$ 13. The perfect free-will uninfluenced by evil propensities, with which Adam was endowed, was forfeited by his abuse of so great a blessing: and it then ceased to be in the power of man to please his Maker by any such works of righteousness, as he is able to perform by his own inherent strength and natural ability. Free-will is therefore, now, a power

of Reason and Will united, by which good is chosen, with the assistance of grace, and evil is chosen with out such assistance,

« PreviousContinue »