Page images

more solemn admonition to duty. They are dead in trespasses and sins, and wholly under the dominion of the god of this world, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. He is constantly endeavoring to blind their minds, harden their hearts, and stupify their consciences. Hence says the apostle, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." It is in vain to exhort sinners to resist the devil, who is seeking, not only to injure them in time, but to destroy them in eternity, while they remain his cordial subjects, and unite with him in opposing God and the whole scheme of redemption. Their first and indispensable duty is to renounce the spirit and kingdom of Satan, and cordially embrace the gospel. And as soon as they turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, they will have the power and grace of the Almighty engaged to guard them from their mortal enemy. But if they will reject the counsel of God against themselves, and walk in the paths of the destroyer, they must expect to hear that awful sentence pronounced against them at the great and last day, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."






Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright. ECCL. vii. 29.

[ocr errors]

It is one mark of our universal depravity, that we have been so prone to reproach our common progenitor. No parent, perhaps, has ever been treated with so little propriety and respect, as Adam. Some of his undutiful children have virtually charged him with all the sin and guilt in the world; while others have even ventured to call in question his moral purity and perfection before his fall. But Solomon speaks of our first parent with peculiar veneration, and represents him, in his primitive state, as far superior to any of his degenerate offspring. "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." These words naturally lead us to ascertain and support the primitive character of Adam.

Here let us first consider what we are to understand by his being made upright.

The true import of this term appears from the connection in which it is used. Solomon is not speaking of that noble aspect and erect posture of Adam, by which he excelled the lower species; but of that moral rectitude, or integrity of heart, by which he excelled all his own posterity. For he tells us in the text and context, that after taking a serious and extensive view of mankind in their various situations and pursuits, he drew up this general conclusion in his own mind: that the human race had greatly degenerated from the moral purity and integrity of their first parent, and employed all their noble powers to find out new and different ways of gratifying their

[ocr errors]

extremely depraved hearts. The inspired writers commonly use the term upright to signify that quality of the heart which forms the highest beauty and perfection of human nature. We read, "The Levites were more upright in heart than the priests." Solomon, speaking of the integrity of his father David, says, "He walked before God in uprightness of heart." And David commonly makes use of this phrase, when he would express his own integrity, or the integrity of others. "I will praise thee with uprightness of heart." My defence is of God, who saveth the upright in heart." "The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrows upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart." "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart." "O continue thy loving kindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart." "The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him: and all the upright in heart shall glory." "Judgment shall return unto righteousness; and all the upright in heart shall follow it." "Light is sown for the righteous; and gladness for the upright in heart." "Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in heart." It appears from these passages of scripture, that uprightness belongs to the heart, and gives a man his moral character. And this leads us to understand the term upright, in the text, as denoting moral rectitude, or perfect holiness.

The way is now prepared to show, in the second place, that God did make the first man upright, in this sense of the word. We are now come upon disputed ground, which requires us to proceed with great caution and perspicuity. And therefore it may be proper to observe,

1. That God might have made Adam upright in heart.

This is denied by many men of great learning and ingenuity. They suppose it was beyond the power of the Deity to make man morally upright, or create him in righteousness and true holiness. This is the opinion of two very ingenious and respectable authors, who have expressed their minds freely upon the subject. Doctor Taylor confidently asserts, "That it is utterly inconsistent with the nature of virtue, that it should be concreated with any person; because, if so, it must be an act of God's absolute power, without our knowledge or concurrence; that moral virtue, in its very nature, implieth the choice and consent of the moral agent, without which it cannot be virtue and holiness; and that necessary holiness is no holiness. To say that God not only endowed Adam with a capacity of being righteous, but moreover that righteousness and true holiness were created with him, or wrought into his nature, at the same

« PreviousContinue »