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posed by his father's kindness, what was intended .for his good may prove the occasion of his ruin. The same might be said, had he, on entering his present career, been as pure as Adam was before his fall.
This last example shows how the favors which an earthly parent bestows on his children expose them to temptation. It is so in respect to the favors bestowed by God. Indeed the favors bestowed by earthly parents are also favors from the hand of God.
I may further ask, what is there of divine benefits to men in the present state, which has not been the occasion of temptation and liability to sin? The law came by Moses; but grace and truth by Jesus Christ.” These, surely, are favors of a high order, and were designed not only for the temporal but the spiritual and everlasting good of mankind. Yet what man of reflection will deny that these revelations of the divine will and mercy, have exposed men to many temptations, and been the occasion of innumerable transgressions ? The heavenly mission, miracles and ministry of the Messiah, proved to the Jews an occasion of temptation, and of sins of the deepest die. And does not the gospel, even to this day, expose multitudes of people to temptation and sin?
Let it be observed that these temptations are not limited to men who, like the unbelieving Jews, reject the Messiah as an impostor, and his gospel as a fable. By the same gospel believers, even good men, are exposed to temptation. For they do not and cannot think alike, as to the meaning of all the
passages of scripture - not even of all the words ‘uttered by our Lord himself. Hence, one is tempted to suspect the uprightness of another, and to impute his supposed error to wickedness of heart; and the other may be tempted to retaliate the wrong, and render evil for evil. Hence comes contention, clamor, reviling, persecution and frequent hostilities between men of different sects. Now this series of evils might have been prevented, had God withheld from us the inestimable favor of that gospel which brings life and immortality to light. Shall we hence complain of God's conduct in sending his Son, and in causing us to possess the written revelations? If not, what occasion have we to suppose that our liability to sin is the effect of divine displeasure?
We came into existence as the work of God's hands, “ fearfully and wonderfully made,” furnished with properties and faculties adapted to usefulness and comfort. From the moment of our birth we are the objects of God's protecting, sustaining, fatherly care and kindness. These we experience in every favor we receive, in every comfort we enjoy, and in every breath we draw. Beside the liberal provisions he makes for our bodies, he provides means for the developement and improvement of our minds — gives his precepts to direct us in the path of life, and his gospel to assure us of his readiness to pardon all our offences, and to make us heirs of immortal life, if we forsake the ways of sin, become the followers of his Son and walk as he walked. Now can it be reasonable in us, to suffer all this display of divine benignity towards us, to be
eclipsed by a belief, that with the noble faculties and properties of our nature God incorporated a constitutional and dominant property — a nature wholly sinful, and so brought us into the world under his "wrath and curse?” Who will dare knowingly to ascribe such inconsistency to our Heavenly Father?
The preceding hypothesis enforced.
From what has already been exhibited, it seems to me very clear, that God has dealt kindly with the descendants of Adam, notwithstanding his offence; that instead of bringing us into the world cursed with a nature wholly sinful, we were formed with just such properties as Adam possessed, and which exposed him to temptation; that these properties, far from being in their nature sinful, are like the other works of God—“ very good;” that they were at first bestowed on Adam, and since on his posterity, not as marks of divine anger, but as expressions of the loving-kindness of the Lord; and designed to promote the comfort and usefulness of our race. So necessary are these properties to us in the present life, that to be without them would be a great calamity. Some individuals are born destitute of one or more of the properties which expose us to temptation; — others are, by
casualties or diseases, deprived of one or more of them after having possessed them for months or years; yet, in all such cases, the privation or loss is deemed a natural evil. It is, however, a truth, that these animal properties, though bestowed in love, rendered Adam liable to temptation and sin; and the same is true in regard to his posterity, in every age. But shall our eye be evil because our Maker is good? Shall we complain of our liability to sin, and excuse transgression, while this liability results not from God's dis pleasure towards us, but from his benignity?
Before we indulge ourselves any more in such complaints and excuses, let us seriously inquire which of the known properties of human nature, as we came into the world, could be spared without injury to our comfort or usefulness. If no such property can be discovered, let us be humble for our offences; and praise the Lord for those expressions of his goodness by which we were made human beings, moral agents, and liable to temptation. Let us be careful to render according to these benefits; and whether we eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.
After long inquiry and solemn reflection, I may say with truth, that I have discovered no satisfactory proof, that a single property of my nature was evil as I came from the forming hand of God. . I have found no ground on which I might complain of the hand that formed me; but much cause for gratitude and praise. I have indeed found cause deeply to lament, that I have so often yielded to the temptations to which I have been exposed, not
by the displeasure of God, but by the exuberance of his goodness to me and to others. He might have rendered me less liable to temptation had he seen fit to deny me some of the common properties of human nature, and by forming me an idiot he might have rendered me incapable of sin. But in proportion as liability to temptation had been thus diminished, so must have been my capacity for enjoyment and usefulness. .
“ Be not deceived ; evil communications corrupt good manners.” Such is the language of Paul; and with equal truth, he might have said, “ Evil communications corrupt good” minds. The good or innocent mind of Eve is represented as having been corrupted by one who is denominated the serpent. The pure mind of Adam was soon after corrupted by the evil communications of his wife. If such were the facts relating to our first parents — if they were thus liable to be led astray; how certainly may the minds of children be easily corrupted by the evil communications of parents and others, whom they love, and in whom they place confidence! Children not only possess such animal properties as exposed our first parents to be tempted, but they are commonly, perhaps a hundred-fold, more exposed than were Adam and Eve to the corrupting influence of evil communications and evil examples. What possible need then can there be to resort to the shocking hypothesis of a nature wholly sinful, caused by divine displeasure? It surely is not necessary to account for all that is known of human depravity; and what mind that is not bewil