Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

THE excellent Bishop Horne, in one of his sermons, remarks to this effect; that the garden of Eden was probably so formed as to be an emblematical representative of things in heaven: So that while man continued in that blessed abode, he could not open his eyes without receiving instruction. Every thing he saw was continually reading to him a lesson of wisdom, pointing out the duties which he owed to his Creator and daily Benefactor, and exhorting him to temperance and self-government. And hence Paradise may be considered as a school of learning, in which the first happy pair were to be kept in a constant course of training and improvement, until they should have acquired that degree of knowledge, and such a conformity to the heavenly state, as would render them capable of enjoying the reality, which they had seen shadowed out in their terrestial abode ; and then they were to be translated immediately to Heaven, as Enoch and others afterwards were. This is an ingenious conjecture ; and though supported by nothing explicit in the Word of God, yet it is highly worthy of attention. It is full of instruction and use. It represents the Almighty Creator in a light worthy of himself, who creates nothing in vain, or for an inconsiderable end. All his works were in the beginning, and still are instructive if we will but open the eyes of our understandings, and attend to the lessons they present for our perusal. Although man is excluded from Paradise, yet he has before him the natural word, which is intended not only for the support of his body, but also to furnish food for his mind. He is debarred from the original, school of spiritual wisdom; but another is open before him ; all the apartments of which are inscribed with the marks of divine wisdom and goodness : For the heavens declare the glory of God, and the fir. mament showeth his handy works. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. The instruction arising from the order and course of material things is doubtless less perfect, than it was in man's original abode ; but still much spiritual wisdom is derivable from a just view of these things. How far the Arst transgression deranged the order of the matcrial world, we can.

not say, not being informed in the word of God. Possibly however there may be some truth in the poet's fiction :

“ Some say he bid his angels turn askance
The poles of earth twice len degrees and more,
From the sun's axle; they with labour push'd
Oblique the centric globe.”

MILTON. If so, to this we owe the change of seasons and the varying course of the year. But whenever, and for whatever reasons they were introduced into the natural world, they are certainly the appointment of God. If they took place consequent upon the fall, as a punishment for man's transgression, or as introductory to the curse denounced upon the earth, that it should bring forth thorns and briats; still they are instructive; and the more so for the very reason assigned: For they are to be considered as an innovation and derangement of the original plan of God's work, and consequently an imperfection : They therefore impress perpetually on our minds one of the most fundamental doctrines of religion ; that we are fallen creatures; that we are not as we came from the hands of the Creator; but that a great derangement has taken place in our natures; and imperfection is stamped on the whole course of our lives and ac. tions. In every part of the written word, we learn that this is the case. And when the volume of nature is fairly open to our view, it teaches the same doctrine. In the irregular and constantly vary. ing changes that take place in the state of the elements, now stormy, and presently calm ; now cold, and now hot; and always uncertain, not to be calculated we behold an expressive emblem of the pas. sions of men, broken loose from the dominion of their natural lord and sovereign ; committing riot and disorder, and defacing the fair image of God impressed at the creation. Even our best propensities, by running into extremes, become mischievous, and product: ive of misery. Sometimes our passions run hig'du fervid, like the heat of summer; at others, they are cold and sluggish as the frost of winter. The love of God, that best of all emotions, that kindly warmth, which leads man to breathe his desires towards his Creator and sovereign Lord, is often found to degenerate into enthusiasm on the one hand, and into languid formality on the other ; as too much heat or too much cold prevail in our hearts. Charity, beneficence, and good will to men, are ever running into like extremes ; for with all the passions of man, it is sometimes summer and sometimes winter. They are sometimes too warm for the health of the soul; at others so cold as to deprive it of all becoming and worthy action. If this is the case with the best and noblest propensities of our nature ; if they thus find an ever constant represent. ative in the deranged and varying course of the material world, well may we expect to observe in the worst passions, a still more striking parallel. Consider then what frequently takes place, at this season of the year. Suddenly do the heavens lower, and grow black with clouds ; the winds muster all their forces; the forests bend and roar; the works of art tremble and totter, or are torn from their foundations, and scattered in fragments across the fields : The stately cdifice, however strongly reared, scarcely withstands their rage ;

shile within, the quaking inhabitants stand in doubt of their lives. Now look at him who indulges immoderate anger, and behold å counterpart. Behold the tempest rising in his veins, fury dart. ing from his eyes, and the clouds lowering in his whole countenance. See his frame shaken almost to dissolution : all the fences, which calmer moments had erected around his virtue and humanity, demolished and blown away. Hear the horrid oaths and imprecations which he utters against God and man. Take notice, in short, how the rational creature is almost destroyed, and the brute substituted in its room. How certainly on the brink of destruction totters the fortress of his Christian hope ; the defence of his soul from final perdition. Already his character is shattered and trembling, just to a fall. Already he has suffered immense loss in the tempest of anger, which he can never recover. Much time and pains will it cost him, to re-edify the partition wall between virtue and vice, which is broken down and scattered to the four winds of heaven. Much more resolution than before will be necessary, in order to stand firm on a new provocation; and to command that boisterous passion which has once become master; which has thrown down the fortress of reason, that should repel its fury. Consider well these things, and learn a lesson of wisdom and virtue from every tempest that blows. Think how gloomy and lowering is the cloud of anger, and check the first symptoms of passion as soon as they arise. Call to your aid the power of his grace, who stilleth the raging of the sea, and speak the storm into a calm.

But we may derive instruction from contemplating the season in various other points of view. Now the air, in a more peculiar manner, is fickle and changeable. To-day keen and blustering, to-morrow mild and gentle. Now frowning and angry seem the heavens, swift fly the clouds, by turns obscuring the sun; but soon all is bright and serene. And just such is the state of man in his sublunary abode. Changeable are his passions,' and changeable his external condition. He loves and hates by turns. He pursues and avoids the same thing at different times. Now ardently seeking what he will with abhorrence presently reject. Now warm in friendship but soon cold in neglect and disdain. Now storming with anger; hatred or envy; anon gentle and humane. At one time true and just; at another, deceitful and dishonest: constant in nothing but mutability. This arises from the corruption of our nature by the first transgression ; which has dimmed without entirely blinding the eyes of our 'understanding; which has perverted, without entirely taking away the will to follow the dictates of wisdom. Hence we know in part, and we resolve in part; and therefore in execufion there is always an instability and uncertainty, derogatory to the character of a reasonable being.

But there is also an instabiliíy in man's condition : For the clouds of misfortune will overshadow his days: the tempest of evil will beat upon his head ; the sunshine of prosperity will suddenly be overcast ;' his comforts will be blown away by ihe changing winds that are always shifting the scene of human life. He who rules over all is freyently knitting the joy of our hearts to vanish from

. not say, not being informed in the word of God. Possibly howev there may be some truth in the poet's fiction :

“ Some say he bid bis angels turn askance
The poles of earth twice ten degrees and more,
From the sun's axle; they with labour push'd
Oblique the centric globe.”

ΜΙΣΤΟΝ. If so, to this we owe the change of seåsons and the varying cour of the year. But whenever, and for whatever reasons they were troduced into the natural world, they are certainly the appointme of God. If they took place consequent upon the fall, as a puni ment for man's transgression, or as introductory to the curse nounced upon the earth, that it should bring forth thorns and bria. still they are instructive; and the more so for the very reason signed : For they are to be considered as an innovation and deran ment of the original plan of God's work, and consequently an perfection : They therefore impress perpetually onour minds on the most fundamental doctrines of religion ; that we are fallen c. tures; that we are not as we came from the hands of the Creat but that a great derangement has taken place in our natures; imperfection is stamped on the whole course of our lives and tions. In every part of the written word, we learn that this is case. And when the volume of nature is fairly open to our vit teaches the same doctrine. In the irregular and constantly ing changes that take place in the state of the elements, now sto and presently calm; now cold, and now hot ; and always unce! not to be calculated } we behold an expressive emblem of the sions of men, broken loose from the dominion of their natural and sovereign; committing riot and disorder, and defacing th image of God impressed at the creation. Even our best pro ties, by running into extremes, become mischievous, and pro ive of misery. Sometimes our passions run hig'anu fervid the heat of summer ; at others, they are cold and sluggish ? frost of winter. The love of God, that best of all emotions. kindly warmth, which leads man to breathe his desires towars Creator and sovereign Lord, is often found to degenerate in thusiasm on the one hand, and into languid formality on the r as too much heat or too much cold prevail in our hearts. C). beneficence, and good will to men, are ever running into lil tremes ; for with all the passions of man, it is sometimes su: and sometimes winter. They are sometimes too warm f health of the soul; at others so cold as to deprive it of all bec and worthy action. If this is the case with the best and noble: pensities of our nature; if they thus find an ever constant rep! ative in the deranged and varying course of the material wor) may we expect to observe in the worst passions, a still striking parallel. Consider then what frequently takes place, season of the year. Suddenly do the heavens lower, and gros with clouds; the winds muster all their forces; the forest and roar; the works of art tremble and totter, or are torn froi foundations, and scattered in fragments across the fields : Th ly edifice, however strongly reared, scarcely withstands their

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »