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The first words of the Bible contain a great and most important truth : “ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”* Here we may learn the answer to the question, how we and the world we live in were made.
God created, God produced out of nothing, all that we see in this beautiful world. He spake, and it was done. In six days God created the world, furnished it with plants and animals, and made man in his own image to rule over it ; "and God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good.”* Every thing then
. was perfect in its kind ; and the appointed ruler of all, Adam, formed in the image of God, was wise, was virtuous, and was happy. For him God formed a companion, a friend, and a wife, innocent and virtuous as himself, to complete his happiness by sharing it with him, to deserve and possess his love, and to join with him in serving and in praising their great Creator. To this happy pair God gave the garden of Eden, with all things in it richly to enjoys and God said, « Of every tree of the garden 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 Gen. i. 1.
+ Gen, i. 31.
that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."* Obedience to this command was the proof required of their love and gratitude to Him who gave them all; but this command was broken. Through envy of the devil death came into the world. From the Bible we learn that a fallen Angel, who had himself lost his happiness by rebelling against God, took the form of a serpent, and persuaded the woman to transgress.
“She took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”+ From this moment all is changed. Conscious of guilt, and trembling with apprehension of the threatened punishment, they hid themselves in the garden; vainly hoping, or at least wishing, to escape from the all-seeing eye of God. As it has been justly observed by an excellent writer, « In the state of innocence Adam ran to meet God; and the intercourse with his Divine Instructor was the most exalted delight of Paradise. But when innocence was gone, he sought the shelter of the deepest cover ; and on being called forth out of it, returned for answer, with a dejection never known before, • I heard thy voice,
* Gen. ii. 16, 17.
+ Gen. iii. 6.
and I was afraid.'”+ That voice pronunced the sentence, “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” “ In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”'S If any person should be surprised that the trial to which Adam was exposed was of so trifling a nature, and that his happiness or misery should depend on his eating, or not eating, the fruit of a tree; I beg him to consider, first, that Adam, in his situation, could not be guilty of what we regard as the greatest crimes. He could not commit murder, when he was the only man; nor adultery, when his wife was the only woman. He could not steal, when he was already in possession of every thing around him ; nor commit
other injury to his fellow creatures, while he was alone on the earth. Secondly, that, in reality, every thing which can draw us away from the service of God, whether it be honour, power, riches, or pleasure, is as trifling, as unworthy of our regard, as truly contemptible, as the forbidden fruit. And lastly, that in fact the trial of Adam was
+ Sermons by the Rev. Dr. Randolph.
$ Gen, iii. 19.
Gen. iii. 17.
exactly like that of every other man; the question was not whether he would or would not taste of the fruit, but whether he would or would not obey God; whether he would submit to the revealed will of his Creator, and not attempt to be wise above that which he was taught, but humbly and constantly observe whatever directions he had received from God.
Such is the account which Scripture gives us of the fall of man; and from the same authority we learn, that the consequences of this event extend to all the children of Adam; that having lost his innocence and corrupted his nature, all. who descend from him are born weak and imperfect, inclined to sin, and under sentenee of death. It is of great importance that this should be clearly understood, in order that we may know and feel, how much we owe to the great deliverer of the human raee, Jesus CHRIST. The Bible tells us that without holiness no man can see God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and the best man in the world, if he look into his own heart, must acknowledge that he is very imperfect, that his nature is inclined to sin, and that if he depend on his own righteousness, he must tremble to appear before God. If
therefore perfect obedience were required, every one of us must appear guilty before God. But our merciful Creator did not place any human being in this dreadful situation; for even before He pronounced the sentence on Adam, he gave the promise of mercy in this remarkable prophecy,—The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. The whole history of the Old and New Testament is a comment on these words. From every part of it we learn, that this promised seed of the woman, our Saviour JESUS Christ, the Son of God, offered himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the whole world ; that “ in Adam all die, so in CHRIST shall all be made alive;"* that, through his merits, every son of Adam may hope for mercy and acceptance, if he believe in him, and humbly endeavour to do his will. He has brought life and immortality to light. He will give us much more than Adam lost. He will place us in a better Paradise, he will make us for ever happy, if during our short trial in this world, we put our whole trust in Him, and endeavour to obey all his commandments; and even if we are so unhappy as to fail in our obedience, and to commit sin, we have his
* I Cor. xv. 22.