« PreviousContinue »
QUESTION I. “Is man in his present circumstances such a creature as he came out of the hands of Gop his Creator?" We may derive a full answer to this inquiry from the following considerations, (p. 12.)
“1. This earth, which was designed for the habitation of man, carries evident tokens of ruin and desolation, and does not seem to be ordained in its present form and circumstances, for the habitation of innocent beings; but is apparently fit for the dwelling-place of creatures who are degenerate and fallen from God.
“ It is granted that the beauty and order of this lower world, even in its present constitution, and the wonderful texture, composition, and harmony of the several parts of it, both in air, earth, and sea, do still illustriously display the power, wisdom, and goodness of their Creator, (p. 13.) Yet it must be confessed also, that there are glaring proofs, of the terrors of his justice, and the execution of his vengeance.
“ Is not the present shape of our earth, in its divisions of seas and shores, rude and irregular, abrupt and horrid ? Survey a map of the world, and say, Does the form of it strike our eyes with any natural beauty and harmony? Rather does it not strongly bear on our sight the idea of rụin and confusion ? Travel over the countries of this globe, or visit several parts of this island. What various appearances of a ruined world? What vast broken moun- . tains hang over the heads of travellers! What stupendous cliffs and promontories rise, high and hideous to behold! What dreadful precipices, which make us giddy to look down, and are ready to betray us into destruction! What immense extents are there in many countries of vast and barren ground! What vast and almost impassable deserts ! What broad and faithless morasses, which are made at once both death and graves to unwary travellers! What huge ruinous caverns, deep and wide, big enough to bury whole cities ! (p. 14.)
“What resistless delages of water, in a season of great rains, come rolling down the hills, bear all things before them, and spread spacious desolation! What roaring and tremendous water-falls in several parts of the globe! What burning mountains, in whose caverns are Jakes of liquid fire ready to burst upon the lower lands? Or they are a mere shell of earth, covering prodigiouś cavities of smoke, and furnaces of flame: and seem to wait a divine command, to break inward and bury towns and provinces in fiery ruin, (p. 15.)
" What active treasures of wind are pent up in the bowels of the earth, ready to break out into wide and surprising mischief! What huge torrents of water rush and roar through the hollows of the globe we tread! What dreadful sounds and threatening appearances from the region of meteors in the air! What clouds charged with flame, ready to burst on the earth and discompose and terrify all nature !
“When I survey such scenes as these, I cannot but say within myself,“ surely this earth, in these rude and broken appearances, this unsettled and dangerous state, was designed as a dwelling for some unhappy inhabitants, who did or would transgress the laws of their Maker, and merit desolation from his hand. And he hath here stored up his magazines of divine artillery against the day of punishment,” (p. 16.)
“ How often have the terrible occurrences of nature in the air, earth, and sea, and the calamitous incidents in several countries, given a strong confirmation of this sentiment !
16 What destructive storms have we and our fathers seen even in this temperate island of Great Britain!' What floods of water and violent explosions of fire do we read of in the histories of the world? What shocking convulsions of the globe, stretching far and wide under the affrighted nations! What huge disruptions of the caverns of the earth, with tremeudous bellowings, which have filled its inhabitants with terror and astonishment, and made wide
devastations! Would a good and gracious being have originally so formed the inanimate parts of this lower world, as to produce such deadly concussions therein, and such desolating appearances, had he not designed it for the habitation of such creatures, as he foresaw would deserve these strokes of his indignation? (p. 17.)
" And thus both Moses and St. Peter suppose God to have laid up stores of ruin and destruction within the bowels of the earth, that he might break open his dreadful treasures of flood and fire at proper seasons, to drown and to burn the world, together with the sinful inhabitants thereof, (p. 18, 19.)
“ Now the great God, who appointed such prodigious quantities both of water and fire to be reserved in the bowels of the earth, and among the clouds of heaven, for such a foreseen day of general destruction, did also doubtless prepare
the materials of all the lesser storms and hur. ricanes, earthquakes and floods, and convulsions of nature; and treasured up for these purposes his magazines of wind, and flood, and fire in the earth. And is this an habitation prepared for the residence of pure and holy beings? Is this such a peaceful place, as a kind Creator would have formed for innocent creatures ? It is absurd to imagine this of a God so wise, so righteous, and so merciful?
“ 2. Let us take a survey of the vegetables which grow out of the earth, with the brute animals which are found on the surface of it, and we shall find more reasons to conclude that man the chief inhabitant, is not such as he came first out of his Maker's hand.
“ It must be granted here again, that the wisdom and goodness of the Creator are amazingly displayed, in the animal and the vegetable world, beyond the utmost reach of our thoughts or praises. But still we may have leave to inquire, whether if man had continued innocent, among the numerous herbs and flowers fitted for his support and delight, any plants or fruits of a malignant, mortal pature,
would have grown out of the earth, without some plain mark or caution set upon them? (p. 21.) “Can we suppose that among the roots, herbs, and trees
, good for food, the great God would have suffered mischief, malady, and deadly poison, to spring up here and there, without any sufficient distinction, that man might know how to avoid them? This is the case in our present world : disease, anguish, and death, have entered into the bowels and veins of multitudes, by an innocent and fatal mistake of these pernicious things, for proper food.
“ There was indeed the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise. But man was expressly cautioned against it. And certainly had he continued holy, no poisonous plant would have been suffered to grow on the earth, without either some natural mark set upon it, or some divine caution to avoid it, (p. 22.)
« Proceed to the animal world. There are many creatures indeed, which serve the use or pleasure of man. But are there not many other sorts, which he is neither able to govern, nor to resist? And by which all his race are exposed, whenever they meet them, to wounds, and anguish, and death ? (p. 23.)
“If man had not sinned, would there have been in the world any such creatures as bears and tygers, wolves and lions, animated with such fierceness and rage, and armed with such destructive teeth and talons ? Would the innocent children of men, have ever been formed, to be the living prey of these devourers Were the life and limbs of holy creatures, made to become heaps of agonizing carnage. Or would their flesh and bones have been given up to be crushed and churned between the jaws of panthers and leopards, sharks and crocodiles ? Let brutes be content to prey on their fellow brutes, but let man be their lord and ruler.
“ If man were not fallen, would there have been so many tribes of the serpent-kind, armed with deadly venom ? Would such subtle and active mischiefs have been made and sent to dwell in a world of innocents? And would the race of all these murderers and destructive animals, have been VOL. XIV.
[PART IV. propagated for six thousand years, in'any province of God's dominion, had not its rational inhabitants been in rebellion against God? (p: 24.)
" What are the immense 'flights of locusts which därken the sky, and lay the fields desolate? What are the armies of hornets or 'musquetoes, that frequently'make a pleasant land almost intolerable?" If they' are found in the heats of Africa, and of the East and West-Indies, one would think they should not înfest'the Polar regions, if the Creator had not designed them for'a scourge to the nationis' on all sides of the globe.
“ What are the innumerable host of caterpillars but so many messengers of the anger of God'against a 'sinful race! And since we can neither resist nor subdue them, we may certainly infer, that we are not now such favourites of hea- . ven, as God at first made us." (p. 25.)
« The troublesome and pernicious tribes of animals, both of larger and smaller size, which are fellow.commoners with us on this great globe, together with our impotence to prevent or escape their mischiefs, is a 'sufficient proof that we are not in the full favour and love of the God that made us, and that he has quartered his armies, his legions among us, as princes do in a rebellious province!
“ It is true all these are trials for man during his state of probation. But a state of probation for innocent man would not have included death; much less a violent and bloody, or a lingering and painful death. Accordingly, our return to dust is' mentioned by Moses as a curse of God for the sin of man.' And when once life is 'forfeited by all mankind, then a painful death may properly become a part of the further trial of such creatures as are to rise again: and any pious sufferers may be rewarded by a happy resur. rection. But a painful death could never be made a part of the trial of innocent creatures, who had never forfeited life, nor were ever legally subjected to death. (p. 26, 27.)
Upon the whole, therefore, such noxious and 'de. structive plants and animals, could not be made to vex and