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possibility, but the probability of mistake, and consequently of sin ; and sin, we know, is neeessarily connected with suffering. Now, if to be perfect; free from the possibility of sin and suffering, a creature must be omniscient, then it follows that he must also be omnipresent, and if omnipresent, then self-existent, that is, the creature must become the Creator. But this is a palpable absurdity: it is nothing less than a contradiction in terms.
Still, however, it may be said, though a creature cannot, indeed, be naturally and absolutely perfect, yet ought not he to have been kept from sin by “ the mighty power “ of God,” like the angels in heaven ?-To this I answer, that some even of these were permitted to fall into sin, and are now suffering its punishment. But without dwelling upon this, I would only observe, that the question really amounts to nothing less than the following :—Why is there any gradation or difference in the divine works ? Why was not man an angel, and the angel an archangel ? Nay, why was not the clod of the valley raised into animal life; and why
were not all animals raised to the highest ránk of created intelligence ?
But let it be well considered, that these are questions, the foundation of which cannot be removed ; for had the good communicated by God to all his creatures, been ever so great, we might still have asked, why was it not greater ? _Those who put guch questions, instead of shewing, as they pretend, a laudable desire of knowledge, only evince their intolerable presumption and impiety. The truth is, that imperfection, and consequently liableness to moral failure, seem to be inseparable from the condition and character of creatures. The possibility of the existence of evil in the creation, could not, perhaps, be properly prevented.--Let us, however, rest satisfied with this, (which necessarily follows from the perfection of the Divine Nature,) that the present system of things is, upon the whole, the best, and will be ultimately productive of the greatest possible happiness. At any rate, it is beyond dispute, that what seems wrong here, will be rectified hereafter, and that the pain now felt, will be vastly
overbalanced by succeeding pleasure. The fall of man is only an introductory part of the great and glorious scheme, which embraces his final exaltation, “ As in Adam “ all die, even so in Christ shall all be made . alive. God willeth not, that any should “ perish; but that all should come to re
pentance ; turn to him and live.” We should do well, then, to study this subject, not with the spirit of presumptuous cavillers, but with that of patient and humble inquirers.-Shouldst thou, worm of the dust ! expect fully to comprehend the stupendous plan of infinite wisdom? Shouldst thou ever dream of setting up thy own vain imaginations, in opposition to the counsels of the Almighty, or of " finding him out “ unto perfection ?” Shouldst thou dare to
« Snatch from his hand, the balance and the rod,
How little of the scheme of Providence, now comes within mortal ken! We can now only see a few links of the great chain ; but at a future period our views shall be ineffably extended ; “ we shall see even as - we are seen, and know even as we are
“ known.” Meanwhile, we should consider all the difficulties which here meet us in speculation, as destined for the same salutary purpose, for which temptations are in practice ; namely, to form within us habits of attention and discipline, that we may be qualified for the pure and perfect state; which will be hereafter and for ever. But without continuing any longer in the illustration of this subject, we shall now direct our attention to the proper improvement of it.
From the doctrine of the Fall, we may learn to beware of temptation ; to think of the baneful effects of sin ; to be deeply impressed with a sense of the necessity of holiness, and to embrace, with ardent gratitude, the proffered salvation of Jesus Christ.
LET US LEARN TO BEWARE OF TEMPTA
Temptation is the prelude to sin. It was the cause of the first and great transgression. Our first parents, being tempted, ate the forbidden fruit, and entailed disorder, and sorrow, and death, upon all mankind. Let us keep then our hearts with diligence, and abstain even from the ap
Let us pray
pearance of evil. Let us for
grace help us to resist the solicitations of sense, for the “ carnal or sensual mind is enmity
against God;"—and to resist also those ambassadors of Satan, wicked men and seducers, whose way, notwithstanding their “ fair speech," is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death. When sinners then entice us, why should we ever consent ? We should nobly dare to hold fast, unto the end, our integrity, even in the midst of a degenerate world. But there is one class of wicked seducers, who in “ these
dregs of time,” too generally obtain, and against whom we should be particularly on our guard :- I mean the pernicious herd of unbelievers. They speak evil of what they do not understand; they reject what all the wise and the worthy have cordially received, and they wish us to be partakers of their licentiousness and folly. They madly despise the denunciations of God; they would have us despise them too, and they try to flatter us with the hope of escaping with impunity. It was by this very device which they employ, that Satan gained his advantage in paradise, and his constant language to sinners still is—“ye shall not surely die.”.