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perfectly free from both a sinful nature and a sinful habit, they would be liable to temptation by possessing good eyes. It is not supposed that Eve had either a sinful nature or sinful habit prior to her first transgression. “But when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat.”
This account is worthy of notice, whether it be an allegory or not. If it be regarded as an allegory, it clearly suggests the idea, that innocent or good persons may be led astray by the “lust of the eyes”- or by such desires as may be excited by beholding with the eyes pleasing or alluring objects.
The man of good eyes sees many desirable objects; some of these are not his, and are to him forbidden fruit. His integrity, therefore, is put to the test; and the temptation may be strong. In other cases it has doubtless happened, as with Eve—the lust of the eye so blinded the mind as to bring it into captivity. “ So when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Perhaps we may say that there is no property of the nature we derived from Adam, our intellects excepted, which is more important than our eyes — and no one which has been more frequently the occasion of temptation and sin. But may we on the latter account call in question the goodness of God, in forming us with eyes to see? Or may we ascribe to our eyes a sinful nature?
Not only the sense of seeing, but hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling, are all properties of our nature, very important to us — conducive to both
comfort and usefulness; and yet each of them may have often been the occasion of temptation, sin and suffering. These ideas might be illustrated at great length, were it necessary. But who will say that any of these senses are of a sinful nature?
What has been said of the senses, may be said of the various appetites, passions and propensities of our animal nature. I say our animal nature, because these properties are as common to various tribes of animals as they are to the human race. They are in themselves good -- are favors bestowed by our Creator; and yet all of them may prove occasions of temptation and sin. Had Eve possessed no eyes, and no appetite or taste, we probably should never have heard of her being tempted to eat the forbidden fruit.
Suppose it possible that a human being should be born and grow up without either of the five senses; would it be possible for him to be tempted to violate any command of the decalogue? I think not; and in proportion as men are destitute of these senses they are incapacitated for usefulnessCLUDED from the common enjoyments of life, and freed from liability to temptation.
Men are “tempted, when they are drawn away by their own lusts and enticed.” These lusts or desires spring from the animal propensities of our nature. If then, it be a fact that in proportion as men are deficient in respect to the senses and other animal propensities, they are exempted from liability to temptation, is it not easy to account for liability to sin without the hypothesis of a sinful nature inflicted by divine displeasure? And is it not demon
strable that our liability to temptation results from the kindness of God in bestowing favors on the individuals of our race?
Not only do the animal senses and appetites render men liable to temptation; but such is the fact in regard to their external figure, bodily strength, powers of speech, and mental faculties. Which of these has not often excited pride or envy, boastful exultations, or reproachful animadversions, discontent, murmuring against providence, and contentions among men? The tongue, that noble gift of God, has often exposed men to temptations; — and has been the occasion of some of the most horrible crimes and dreadful calamities which have ever been witnessed in our world.
It seems not to have been duly considered, if it has been understood, that there is no favor which God bestows on men in this life, which abused, and expose men to temptation and sin. From God's kindness to the posterity of Adam in respect to their formation, I may proceed to remark, that the external favors of every class, which God bestows upon us, expose us to temptation and sin. This may be illustrated in a few particulars.
Suppose that by a remarkable occurrence of providence a good man becomes possessed of a million of dollars. We should all say, that this man has been highly favored of God. He can now provide amply for his own family, relieve many who are suffering, and do much to advance benevolent objects. But this great favor has exposed the good man to temptations, sins and sufferings, to which he would not have been liable in less affluent cir
may not be
cumstances; and unless he should be much on his guard, the kindness of God may be to him the occasion of ruin. He is exposed to become elated with pride, in view of his wealth; to set his heart upon it, and become forgetful of God and his own soul. He is also exposed to suffer by the envy of others — and by undue solicitude, lest he should lose his property. He may lose it, and become reduced to poverty; then how sad must be his disappointment and affliction.
Another good man may be blessed with an amiable wife, and a lovely family of children. These are inestimable blessings. But by these favors the man is exposed to temptations, trials and great sufferings. By these favors he is exposed to set his affections on the gifts, more than on the giver; to make them his idols, instead of loving them in the Lord, and regarding them as streams, to excite his gratitude to the Father of mercies. Besides, in proportion as his family are dear to him, he is exposed to great trials and severe affliction. He will naturally feel a solicitude lest his children should do something offensive to God, and reproachful to themselves — lest they should become ensnared by worldly allurements, their own lusts, or vicious companions. They are also liable to casualties, to sickness, pain, and death. This he daily feels with a tender concern; and by sympathy he shares in all the afflictions which any of his family endure, when known to him. Their distresses pierce his soul; and if any of them are called by death, how hard to part with objects so dear! They may all be removed from him by death, and
At a proper
leave him a solitary mourner.
How distressing such a bereavement! and what danger would there be of his being tempted to complain and say “ All these things are against me!" How evident it is, that such favors expose men to sin and to suffering!
BenevolUS has been blessed with a son of remarkable talents, and of a pious and amiable disposition. The father resolves to give this son the best advantages for a learned education, that he may be prepared for extensive usefulness. age the son is sent to an academy, and then to the best college in the country; and no expense is spared to render him a blessing to the world. This son is highly favored by the kindness of God, and the kindness of his father. But it is easy to see that the favors thus bestowed on the son, have exposed him to great temptations. The very steps which his father has adopted for his benefit, may prove his ruin, unless he shall be careful to resist the temptations, to which he has been exposed by the father's kindness. For they are temptations, at least many of them, to which he would not have been exposed, had it not been for the benevolent desire of his father, to make him a man of great learning and extensive usefulness. His distinguished talents and advantages may prove to him the occasion of pride, arrogance, vainglorying, forgetfulness of God and religion, and contempt for his inferiors. His new situation exposes him to vicious company, by which he is liable to be ensnared and undone. Should he fail to watch and pray, — should he yield to the temptation to which he may be ex