« AnteriorContinua »
destroyed himself and all whom he drew after him; and instead of continuing the illuftrious and rational being he once was, he is now ranked with the brute creation, named and defcribed as a dreadful beast, a dragon, lion, or dog.
The change of the character of this angel, which took place immediately upon his fall, from being the Son of the Morning, to that of a horrible fiend;-and the change of his condition, from being free in the habitation of light, to that of a beaft chained in darknefs, will illustrate to all eternity the infinite worth of Christ, and fhew the abfolute dependence of all the excellence and felicity of creatures upon him.
Section 2. The Fall of Man.
The devil, having departed from the beginning, and become an enemy to the truth, immediately determined upon war, if by any means he might dethrone his fovereign, and overthrow his kingdom; and as man was affociated with the Lord Chrift, and stood with him in the intereft and on the party of the government, his ground became, as it were, the out poft or frontier of the empire, and prefented the natural point for commencing. the attack.
As man was made in the image of God, and crowned with his glory and honor, it might be fuppofed that the myfterious char
ter of his dominion extended to an afcendancy over the angels; for, indeed, without any exception, he was by the Lord God fet over the works of his hands; against man, therefore, this proud, difobedient and rebellious fpirit rofe up, as against his lord and fovereign. And as man had begun to exercise the highest acts of fovereignty, by giving names to the creatures, which were among the firft exercises in a way of administration that existed in the creation; he was confidered as ftanding high upon the ground of this dominion; fo that, in this his wonderful union with Chrift, the reasons are apparent, why the devil aimed at man his firft blow.
And here, again, we may view and admire the depth of the divine counfel, that the fame circumftance in the ftate of man which occafioned his overthrow, led to his recovery, viz. that the matter which raifed against him an eneiny, was a caufe of infinite value, and an intereft in common between him and the Lord Chrift, in which the Lord his maker had the greatest share!
The serpent, which for powers of intelli gence was above all the beafts of the field, was the proper inftrument to be employed in carrying this dark defign into effect; for which purpofe, the neceffary trial of man, to give him the knowledge of truth and obedience, according to the good pleasure of God, afforded a fair opening.
From what has been obferved, respecting a certain analogy fubfifting between the fubjects of both worlds, the affociation of this
angelic fpirit with the ferpent, may not feem fo ftrange: for in fuch a political concern, or matter of flate, whilft the Lord of Heaven affociated with man in the interest of the government, a defign of rebellion would naturally lead thofe fubjects of the upper world to feek a correfpondence abroad, in order to draw into their intereft the fubjects of this, where immediately the fcene of action was defigned to commence.
And it fhould ever be a warning to all who are diftinguifhed for their natural endowments, not to truft even to fuperior fagacity and genius; that the moft fubtile and intelligent of all the creatures of the world, was the first to be drawn into that accurfed enterprize, in which he was crushed to the ground and irrecoverably loft; for, though the other creatures will be preferved, and enjoy at laft the glorious liberty of the children of God; yet, by the irrevocable decree of Heaven, the ferpent and all his generation fhall die. On account of this early connexion of the arch rebel with the ferpent, and alfo of his fubtile and wily character, he himfelf is doomed to bear the hateful name of the ferpent.
Upon this ground, therefore, of the inte eft of the kingdom, and the queftion who fhall have the dominion? the war of ages first broke out; and notwithstanding the fuccefsful attempts which have been made, in thefe laft days, to conceal the nature of Jefus Chrifl's gofpel, and to divert the attention of men from the Hope of Ifrael in the reftor
ation of the kingdom, to fyftems of mere piety, religion and morality; the kingdom-the doctrine of the kingdom is ftill, and to the great day of decifion, will be the point, the all-interefting ground of the folemn controverly. And being thus at once affaulted, by the fubtilty of the ferpent, and the falfehood of the devil, the woman was deceived and fell; and by one of the deepest ftratagems that was ever conceived, together with the natural force of, perhaps, as tempting an object as ever allured the human eye, the man alfo was overcome and ruined.
By the fall, man loft the image of God, and as neceffarily expired as a living foul, as the body expires feparated from air; the crown of glory and honor fell from his head, and he ceafed to be lord of the creation, and became like the beafts that perifh, as neceffa rily as the breathlefs body lofes its glory and ftrength, and changes into a corpfe.-This event most strikingly illuftrated the all-important truth, that all the bleffednefs, glory and power of creatures arife from their uni on with the bleffed, glorious and almighty Word; that life, and the favor of God is enjoyed only through the Lord of Life, the beloved One, who was fet up from everlasting.
And being thus without ftrength, having left the Rock of Ages, man, and the whole creation with him, neceffarily fell under the pow er and tyranny of the great enemy the devil, who, by the difplacing of Adam, came in and took poffeffion of the whole realin, and fet up .over man and all the creation, the reign of death.
This finished what is called the threatening. to Adam, dying thou shalt die. Falling from Christ his life, fatan rofe over him armed with power derived from his feparation from the only fource of life, and which is therefore called the power of death, and set up over him the dominion of darknefs, tyranny and horror. But the darkness and mifery of the power and reign of the devil in the world, ferves thus to brighten the illustration of the light and bleffednefs of the power and reign of the Lord of Light and Bleffedness.
Section 3. Depravity.
The doctrine of the entire depravity of man by the fall, properly stated, can admit of no difpute but what implies either ignorance or difbelief of the whole divine fystem; for as the uprightness and perfection of man all confisted in the divine constitution of his creation; his being made in the image of God; the lofs of this standing in covenant union with Christ, must imply a state of total and univerfal depravity.
The idea of the covenant of life being partly broken, and partly kept, or of the divine union with Christ being partly lost, and partly retained, has never been advanced; fuch a thing is inconceivable; what was declared by the word of God, was the most evident truth, that in the day man fhould eat of the tree that was the article of the trial of his co