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In the tenets which the author has incidentally sought to inculcate, he has been guided by the principles proposed to himself by the great Milton, in his Paradise Lost, namely, to endeavour, as far as in him lay, to
- assert eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to man.”
London, October, 1840.
In six days God created the universe—the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that they contain. At his word all things were moulded into beauty, and assumed the places assigned to them. On the seventh day, the sun shone over the new-made and perfect world, serene and lovely, without sign of cloud or
storm. The Almighty saw and blessed his work, and ordained a sabbath of rest, to be kept for ever.
Blossoms and fruit, all things pleasant to the eye and good for food, sprung forth without thought or toil. Happiness was diffused through all nature; but man, whom God had created in his own image, and on whom He intended to bestow greater bliss than upon any other living being, was the peculiar care of his Maker. In a region the most fertile and delicious that the imagination can picture, a garden had been expressly planted for the residence of Adam and his beautiful spouse—the first created man and woman, for whose use and enjoyment the sun had been placed in the skies to give its light by day, and the moon and stars shed their pale lustre on the night. This garden, which was called Paradise, or the Garden of Eden, contained all the choicest productions of the earth, in trees, flowers, fruit, and herbs. The stately cedar of Lebanon reared its head above the foliage of the orange, the apple, the cherry, the lime, and the myrtle : the clustering grape was twined round the stems of fragrant spice trees. The most luxuriant, the richest, the brightest, whether for taste or hue, of delicious fruit and incense-breathing flowers, were spread around in profusion.
The companions of Adam and Eve in these happy bowers were the living creatures which God had given them to be in subjection to their wishes. The strong lion bowed to them, and gambolled among the deep and shady coverts through which they were all to wander without fear or shame. The elephant was delighted to get from them an approving word or smile. The lamb, and the timid and graceful gazelle, tripped along the lawns, or sported on the margin of the clear streams which meandered through meadows decked in all the pomp of eastern spring, and would play with and be in turn caressed by the speckled leopard or the crouching tiger. Birds, of the most gorgeous plumage, flitted among the trees and shrubs, or soared with bolder wing high into the air, their golden and crimson pinions glancing in the sunlight; while others charmed the ear with melody, which the most perfect music of our days but faintly imitates. In the lakes and streams which here abounded, were fishes of the most exquisite colour and form, darting hither and thither in pastime, without being afraid of each other, or of the hand occasionally put forth to take them for nearer inspection and admiration.
Hand in hand through this blissful garden often wandered our first parents, not unfrequently meeting and conversing with angels of heaven, who had been enjoined to attend to all their wants and wishes, .even before they were expressed. The attributes of the Almighty, the mysteries of the creation, the duties of heavenly and earthly beings, were explained and impressed upon the man and the woman by these celestial visitants; and they were grateful for the goodness of their Maker, and happy in partaking the favours He had conferred upon them.
But when He had made man, and endowed him with an angelic form and reasoning and reflecting powers, the Lord had imposed upon him one condition, the breach of which was to incur the forfeiture of all that He had conferred. In the midst of the Garden of Eden two trees were planted—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life, “ Of every tree of the garden,” said the Lord, “ thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it ; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This was intended to test man’s gratitude and obedience. Surely it was a simple and inadequate return for the bounty He had lavished upon the creatures of His hands.
It would be impossible to describe the felicity of the man and woman, and of all the creatures in this Paradise. They had no cares to molest them, no toils to weary, no knowledge of fear, or hate, or any evil passion, to disturb or vex them; but all was quiet love, and joy. They were innocent and
conscious of the meaning of sin ; and, therefore, although