Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

plan : Pride entered his heart, and he was not willing, he refused to obey this command, and stoop so low as to become a servant to the inferior, diminutive creature man, and be subjected to serve and adore one in the human nature, as his lord and king. This immediately sunk him down from his high station ; and by his example and influence, myriads of angels went off, and joined with him in rebellion. Thus they by sin left their first station, and were banished from heaven; and by the arm of the Almighty were cast down to hell.

This, perhaps, will in the most natural way account for the head of these fallen angels, immediately entering upon a plan to seduce and ruin man, by tempting him to sin, as he had done ; supposing that he should hereby effectually defeat God's revealed designs, respecting him, against which he had rebelled.

And this may also in the best manner account for his opposing with all his cunning and might, and by all his servants and angels, the redemption and salvation of men; and his hating and opposing the Redeemer, and attempting to dcfeat him in his designs, in every possible way, and to destroy every one of the human race ; being a peculiar enemy to the church, and all the friends of Christ. To all this he is naturally led by his first sin, and is only persevering in opposing that, against which he rose, in his first rebellion.

This apostasy, whatever was the occasion of it, was a very important event indeed, the consequences of which will continue to eternity. It, with many of its conse. quences, are, in themselves considered, infinitely dreadful. But the designs of the Most High are not in the least frustrated by all this; but his council and plan are hereby established; and this was necessary to bring to effect, and complete his infinitely wise purposes.

It has been observed, that there is evidence from scripture, that the angels who have not sinned are now, and have been, long since, in a confirmed state : And from what has been now supposed, concerning the special trial of their obedience, it has been thought that they continued in a state of trial, until the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ ; and that they were then confirmed in holiness, and his favour. They were obedient

[ocr errors]

a

1

to the divine orders, and all attention to man, particularly to the church and people of God, willingly ministering to them, and serving them and their Lord, from the fall of man to the incarnation of the Son of God. But their greatest trial did not take place, until he who was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, being born of a poor virgin, and laid an infant in a manger ; when he appeared as an outcast in the wilderness, assaulted and tempted by the devil ; when he lived a poor despised man; and was finally apprehended, being betray. ed by one of his disciples into the hands of men, and condemned as a malefactor, and crucified and buried in a tomb. In this time, while the Son of God was in this state of humiliation, the angels continued to own him as their Lord, they attended upon him constantly, and were his willing, faithful servants. They attended him when in a manger, and with pleasure carried the joyful news of his birth to the shepherds, and the whole multitude of them sang praises on the occasion. They were with him when in the wilderness, assaulted by Satan, and ministered to him. They assisted and strengthened him when he was in an agony in the garden. And when on the cross, and in the grave, they were his constant attendants ; and proclaimed his resurrection from the dead, to his disciples. And when he ascended from earth to heaven, and sat down on the throne of the universe, all these mighty angels came down and attended upon him, and ascended with him with joy, and added to the triumph and splendor of that event : And when they saw him seated in glory, all heaven was filled with a joy which never was known there before ; and all these angels renewedly devoted themselves to the service of Christ and his church ; and were made voluntarily subject unto him. Then, it is supposed probable, Christ their Lord said unto them, “ Well done, good and faithful servants, you have been faithful to me through the time of my, and your greatest trial, and have persevered in the most willing and cheerful obedience : I therefore now put an end to your state of trial, and publicly confirm you in holiness and happiness, and

1

confer on you the reward of eternal life.” And as their election of God to eternal life was now made known, they are after this, but not before, called “ elect angels.”

[ocr errors]

Goncerning the Providence of God, as it respects Man

in a state of Innocency.

Man being made upright, or perfectly holy, this necessarily supposes a rule of right, or that there was a right and wrong in moral character and conduct : and that God did, and could not but require or command that which is morally right, and forbid the contrary ; or, in other words, that man was under moral government, which supposes a law requiring perfect obedience of him, or his whole duty, and forbidding all disobedience, on pain of suffering the just desert of it. What has been observed in the foregoing section of angels, respecting the nature of the moral government, and the law under which they were ;* is equally applicable to man: and proves that he was certainly and necessarily under such a law, which required him to love God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself, and to express this in all proper ways; and to obey every precept which God should give him ; with a penalty annexed, threatening every instance of disobedience with a punishment exactly answerable to the crime, which must be endless suffering. So much is certainly essential to moral govern. ment, and necessary, in order to man's being treated as a moral agent, by his Creator,

We have indeed no particular account of this law, or history of man's being put under this moral government, in the inspired narrative which Moses has given of the primitive state of innocency: And there is this very good reason to be given for it, viz. because it was entirely needless. The most express narrative of this matter would not have made it more plain and certain than it now is : There is now as great and as clear evidence of

28

VOL. I.

Page 208, 209, 210.

it, as there is, that man was created with a capacity for moral agency, and is a proper subject of moral govern. ment, as has been proved. But if this were not so evident from the nature of the case, it might be demonstrated from what has been since revealed. St. Paul, speaking of the law under which all mankind are, asserts the tenor of it in these words, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."* This law must have existed before man sinned, and while he had opportunity, and was in a capacity to continue to do every thing required by it; for if man, when in these circumstances, was not under this law, with this sanction, and bound by it, there could be no reason or propriety in making this requirement on such a penalty, when man had already violated it, and rendered it im. possible to come up to, or do what is required : Which the Apostle says is the case with all mankind, since the original apostasy ; for they are all under the curse of this law. It necessarily follows, therefore, that man was originally made under this law, when in a state of innocency, which denounced a curse upon him, if he failed of perfect obedience. This curse implies in it all the evil that man is capable of suffering, even endless de. struction ; and will take place in its fulness, and without any abatement on those to whom Christ, at the day of judgment, will say, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” We must look forward to this time, to see it completely executed. This then, we may be sure, is the penalty of the law, under which man was placed, when he became a subject of moral government; which is also true of angels, as has been proved in the preceding section.

So far therefore, we go on sure ground : No particular express revelation could make it more evident and certain : Therefore we may see good reason why we have no such revelation.

It has been observed, that the sum of duty required in the moral law, is LOVE: To love God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. This we are sure of from the express declaration of Christ.† He has reduced the whole moral law to this, and said that, “On

[blocks in formation]

Christ says,

these two commandments, hang all the law and the prophets.” This includes and enjoins obedience to all special or positive directions and commands, which God may be pleased to give at any time; for love to God implies obedience to all his particular commands, as disregard to any of his injunctions, is contrary to love to him. How many, and what particular and positive commands God gave to man, when he was at first created, and in a state of innocency, we are not told : But some of them are expressed, or may be collected from what is related. A Sabbath was instituted, God blessed and sanctified the seventh day from the beginning of the creation, which

was made for man ;" and therefore he must have been commanded to keep it holy, or dedicate it to sacred uses in the worship of God, &c. laying aside the business and employment which might be attended on other days. God instituted marriage, and conse. quently all the duties peculiar to such a relation ; and commanded man to multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue and cultivate it. He gave him authority and dominion over all inferior creatures; which is a com. mand to exercise government and dominion over them, and use them for his convenience and profit : But it appears from another direction, that he was forbid to kill and eat them for sustenance ; and probably was not allowed to put an end to the life of any animal, on any occasion. The direction or command mentioned, is in the following words, “ And God said, behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed : To you it shall be for meat.Thus they were commanded to live on vegetables, and had no license to eat animal food ; but a prohibition of this is implied. He was ordered into the garden of Eden, and commanded to dress, and to keep it. He was allowed to eat of every tree of the garden except one; and he was commanded not to eat of that, upon the severest penalty. “ And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of_every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat : But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it ; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”

« PreviousContinue »