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" then shall the dust,” of which it was framed, “re“turn to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall re“ turn to God who
Learn we, from hence, to bestow on each part of our composition, that proportion of time and attention, which, upon a due consideration of its nature and importance, it shall appear to claim at our hands.
To stamp on man his own image, was the design of God in creating him; to restore that image, when lost, was the design of God in redeeming him. Could greater honour have been done to human nature ? Never may the guilt be ours of debasing our nature, and obliterating “this image and superscription;" a species surely of treason against the majesty of heaven. Sloth will obscure the fair impression; its attendants, ignorance and vice, will destroy it. Let diligence, therefore, be appointed to watch over it, and to retouch, from time to time, the lines that are faded; till, the whole standing confessed in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, men may glorify our Father which is in heaven, while they behold his resemblance upon earth. So shall we answer the ends of our creation and redemption, and serve our generation in the most effectual manner. And though, when this is done, we must close our eyes in death, and sleep with our fathers; yet the hour cometh, in which we shall open them again, to “ behold thy face, O God, in righteousness; we “shall be satisfied, when we awake with thy likeWas Adam invested with sovereignty over the creatures ? Observe we from hence, that man was made to rule. Majestic in his form, he was ordained to trample upon earth, and aspire to heaven, which, without putting a force upon nature, he cannot but behold and regard. In the original subjection of the creatures, we see what ought to be that of every desire and appetite, terrestrial and animal, to the ruling principle within us. The subtilty of some creatures, and the fierceness of others, now exhibit to us the difficulty of subduing and governing the passions, broken loose, like them, from the dominion of their master; insomuch that the apostle, who asserts that every creature may be, and has been, tamed of man, yet says of one part of man, the tongue, “it is a
Ø Psal. xvii, 15.
deadly evil, which no man can tame," meaning by his own powers. Through the redemption and grace which are by Christ Jesus, this dominion, as well as the other, is restored, not only over our own passions, but over still more formidable opponents, the evil spirits in arms against us.
For thus our Lord gave his disciples power not only over the natural
serpents and scorpions,” but over some whose venom is of a more malignant and fatal kind; "over “all the power of THE ENEMY.” The apostles returned, accordingly, crying out, “ Lord, the very
DEVILS are subject unto us, through thy name !" And we have a general promise, that, in our combats with them, God will give us victory, and bruise their leader, Satan himself, under our feet. Our Redeemer is exalted above the heavens; and human nature, in the second Adam, restored to dominion over all the earth. And though, at present, the apostle's lot may be ours, to "fight with beasts,” with evil men, evil passions, and evil spirits, yet, through God, we shall do great acts; it is he that shall tread down those that rise up against us; till, finally triumphant over the last enemy, and exalted to the eternal throne, we shall view the earth beneath us, and the sun and stars shall be dust under our feet.
THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
GÉNESIS, 11. 8.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in
Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed. In a preceding discourse some considerations were offered, tending to elucidate the particulars related by Moses concerning the origination of man; namely, the time of his formation ; the resolution taken by the Deity on the occasion ; the materials of which he was composed ; the divine image in which he was created ; and the dominion over the creatures with which he was invested.
The words now read mark out the history of that habitation in which it pleased the Almighty to place him at the beginning, for the subject of our present inquiries-a subject not only curious but highly interesting. For if Levi be said to have paid tithes to Melchizedek, as being in the loins of Abraham, at the time of that transaction; we may, in like manner, regard ourselves as having taken possession of Eden, being in the loins of our ancestor when he did so. And though it can afford but small comfort, to reflect upon the excellence of an inheritance which we have lost, it may inspire into us due sentiments of gratitude and love towards that blessed Person who hath recovered it for us. And thus every consideration which enhances the value of the possession, will proportionably magnify the goodness of our great Benefactor.
For these reasons, we sometimes, perhaps, find ourselves disposed to lament the conciseness and obscurity of that account which Moses hath left us of man's primeval estate in Paradise. But when we recollect, that to this account we owe all the information we have upon so important a point, it will become us to be thankful that we have been told so much, rather than to murmur because we have been told no more; and, instead of lamenting the obscurity of the Mosaic account, to try whether, by diligence and attention, that obscurity may not be, in part, dispelled. For though Moses hath only given us a compendious relation of facts (and facts of the utmost importance may be related in very few words), that relation is ratified and confirmed in the Scriptures of both Testaments, in which are found many references and allusions to it. By bringing these forth to view, and comparing them together, we may possibly be led to some agreeable speculations concerning the situation of Adam in the garden of Eden, the nature of his employment, and the felicity he there experienced.
On a subject so remote, and confessedly difficult, demonstration will not be expected. Much of what is advanced, must be advanced rather as probable than certain; and where there is little positive in