« PreviousContinue »
natural to us to be as we are, therefore we may hope to be recovered from it. We may yet hope to be what God designed us to be.
Thus in the very record of our creation there is contained a lesson best fitted to our actual condition, a lesson of humility and of hope. But most certainly the hope would have been vague and uncertain, were it not for that positive warrant for it which God has given us in His Son Jesus Christ. To Him were repeated those words which had been uttered over the first man; to Him God said again for the first time since Adam's fall, in man He was well pleased.” And as He was a man such as man was first created; good in the eyes of God, and fit for blessing ; so God showed in Him what would have been man's portion from the beginning, had he never fallen. For death bad no dominion over Him: but having died for our sakes, because He put himself in our place, He rose again to die no more, because life is the portion of God's children, whom He sees to be good, and in whom He can declare Himself to be well pleased.
Now what I have here observed as characteristic of this first page of the Scripture, is characteristic of it all; and he who dwells upon its inspiration as thus manifested, cannot estimate it too highly. It is an inspiration which indeed stands alone, and
which no arts of men have been able to counterfeit. It is marked by what it does not say, as well as by what it does say: by the absence of any thing to gratify mere curiosity, or excite wonder; by the presence of that very nourishment which our moral nature needs, whether for instruction, or for encouragement, or for warning, or for comfort. It is shown by meeting our wants in a way which we should not have thought of, but which, when once put before us, we find to be the very thing that we need. In this way there are some passages in the Old and New Testament sufficient of themselves to show that they are not of man but of God. Such is that passage on which I have already dwelt, ---the revealing to us that God has given to man dominion over other creatures, and such also is the passage to be found a few chapters later, conferring expressly the permission to use them for our food. How unlike are these marks of God's revelation, from the pretended revelations of men. And there are marks which it will be instructive to trace from time to time in following the course of the weekly lessons. This will teach us on the one hand to have a clearer knowledge of, and value for, the real inspiration of the sacred volume, and also will relieve us from any anxiety or alarm, if we find that to these things God's revelations have been
limited, and that His word was intended to communicate as from Him no other knowledge but that which will serve to make us wise unto salvation. RUGBY CHAPEL, February 15th, 1835.
GENESIS, iii. 15.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between
thy seed and her seed : it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
THESE words are a part of the sentence passed after the Fall upon the three parties most concerned in it, the woman, the man, and the serpent. I have said before, that there is much in these early chapters of Genesis which we do not understand, and which it is any thing but wise to dwell on and argue from minutely, just as if we did understand them. But amidst passages of this sort there are others not only clear, but to be numbered with the most instructive of the whole Scripture, for the large and most profitable view which they afford of the condition of mankind. Of this kind are those verses of which the text is one; the judg
ment passed upon mankind and on their tempter. These verses offer much to call for our attention, and suggest two ways in particular of considering them; one which I may call the moral view of them, taking them as they show the most important points in our actual condition; the other relating especially to the verse which I have chosen for my text, and showing forth by this earliest example that general character of Scripture prophecy which runs through the whole Bible.
First, then, let us consider the whole passage from the fourteenth verse to the nineteenth, as leading us to observe some most important points in the actual condition of mankind. Now it will be clear, I think, on a moment's consideration, that the points here dwelt on are precisely those which render it impossible for the human race, taken as a body, to enjoy upon earth either physical happiness or intellectual; in other words, to be either perfectly easy and comfortable in their outward condition, or perfectly able to gratify that desire of knowledge which the strong and cultivated understanding feels so earnestly. That is, in other words yet again, God has so ordered the course of nature in this world now become sinful, that mankind shall be unable to find happiness in those things in which alone their corrupted nature would seek it, the pleasures of the body or of the understanding. It cannot be doubted that the corruption of our