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was so exalted and dignified, in this lower world; we may conclude, that, in his state of innocence, he had very little, if any occasion for an unpleasant sensation of body or mind.
Another thing which rendered the state of man, before the fall, peculiarly happy was, the anticipation of a more happy and glorious immortality. This world, beautiful and happy as it was, in its primeval state ; was not formed for the final and everlasting residence of mankind. Our first parents were doubtless taught to look forward, and hope for a more exalted state of existence, among the holy angels, and the glorious Cherubim and Seraphim in heaven. They were taught to consider this world as a state of probation for one inconceivably more glorious and happy. Had they fulfilled the duties of their probationary state,' their exit from this bodily state of existence would have been like that of Enoch and Elijah. Probably they anticipated this glorious result of their probation, with but little apprehension of the danger of apostacy. And their holy souls were feasted, from day to day, with the prospect of heavenly felicity. This must have added exceedingly to the happiness of their original state of existence.
Thus we find, that the original character and state of mankind, were indeed, very good. Their moral character was sinless, and their probationary state was happy. They enjoyed, in addition to every worldly good, the light of God's countenance, and his love shed abroad in their hearts. And, in a review of the holy and happy state of our first parents, we are led to notice the great goodness and benignity of our Heavenly Father, in providing so richly for the welfare of the great family of mankind. Had they only been faithful and persevering in obedience to God, how happy would they have been, in their successive generations ! There would have been no death, nor sorrow, nor crying; no pestilence that walketh in darkness, and no destruction that wasteth at noon day. This world would have been a state of per-, fect
peace and plenty ; and the earth would have been full of the goodness of God.
In a further review of this subject, we learn, that holiness is essential to happiness. It was so before the fall of man; and it is so still. Do we begin to look for the happiness of the millenial state ? then to hasten it on, we must cultivate holiness. By holiness, we may anticipate much of the blessedness of that day ; as Abraham did of the day of Christ's incarnation. 66 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad."
The Moral Law, or Covenant of Works. In attending to the original character and state of mankind, we readily discover, that they were made proper subjects of moral law and government. To explain the moral law of God, which is called the covenant of works, will be the object of the following essay.
The holy law of God, which is the only rule of righteousness, equally binding on all rational creatures, requires the exercise of perfectly holy love, or good will towards all beings capable of happiness or misery. In conformity to this great standard of righteousness, we find the law which God had enjoined on mankind, and which Christ, at his coming, recognized, and even mag. nified and vindicated ; was comprised in two great commandments, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." This is the great principle of righteousness. This, for substance, was doubtless the law given to the angels, at their creation; as well as to our first parents. This is the law of nature, obligatory on every rational being in the universe. It is rendering to all their due. Every being is entitled to that measure of love and regard, which is in exact proportion to his dignity and importance in the scale of existence. God is infinite in dignity and importance, and is therefore, worthy of supreme love. Mankind, generally speaking, are our equals; therefore to be loved as ourselves. This love, which, being perfectly reduced to practice, is the fulfilling of the law, is required to exist and to be cherished in the heart: and to operate as an established moral temper and disposition, in all the fruits of love and obedience to God. All the actions and conduct of rational creatures, are required to be such as naturally flow from this holy principle. Such are the requirements of the law of God.
In addition to this general law, the reasonableness of which is plain and obvious to the weakest capacity; God has in bis infinite wisdom, and sovereign good pleasure, delivered to mankind certain particular statutes, requirements, and prohibitions, which belong not to the law of nature, strictly speaking; and are obligatory, only on the ground of his positive institution, and requirement. Of such a nature was the prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the garden of Eden. The fruit in its nature, was harmless. It was apparently, perhaps really, the most precious of all the trees in Paradise. But, for infinitely wise and important reasons, it was forbidden. But this prohibition, when it was made known to Adam and Eve, became, to them, an important part of the moral law of God. Of this kind were all the ceremonial and typical rites and institutions, delivered by Moses. These laws were all of a moral nature, and binding on the Israelites, merely because God had made them so. In the eye of Omniscience, reasons of infinite importance existed, for the whole ceremonial and typical system of laws and statutes. Even the ordinances of Christ, baptism and the sacramental supper, are established, not by the light of nature; but by the positive institution and authority of Jesus Christ. But where is the Christian who rejects the ordinances of the gospel, because they are not the laws of nature ? All the positive precepts and prohibitions in the scriptures, are by faith in the true God and Saviour, regarded as parts of the moral law; and the attentive and candid mind does, from time to time, gain a knowiedge of the ends and designs of those laws, which have once appeared mysterious. Types are explained by their antitypes, as prophecies are by their accomplishment. By the prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, our first parents were put on the most important and interesting probation, which can be conceived. Life and death were set before them, in the most striking manner; in a manner calculated greatly to enhance their dignity and happiness, if they fufilled the condition of life, and if they did not fulfil the condition of life, all good was forfeited forever. “ Dying they must die.” If they refrained from the forbidden fruit, during a suitable time of probation; it is supposed, that they were to partake of the tree of life, which was a sacramental tree ; and was a token of eternal life. Like the elect angels, they were to be confirmed in a state of perfect holiness and felicity forever. In this view, we may see the reasonableness of God's positive prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil
. And doubtless, in process of time, we shall sce the reasonableness of all God's positive precepts and prohibitions. Be this as it may, we are bound to regard all the laws of God as holy. “I esteem all thy precepts, concerning all things to be right: and I hate every false way.
Having considered the nature of the divine law, which is holy, just and good; we proceed to a view of the penalty, by which it is supported and vindicated. For a law is void of force and efficacy, without a just and adequate penalty. In what then does the penalty of the law consist? The penalty of all transgressions of the law, was expressed in the threatning delivered to our first parents, “ In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." The words more strictly rendered are, 6 Dying thou shalt die." These words evidently express durable and perpetual evil; and evil of the greatest magnitude. No word conveys an idea more terrible than death. Natural death is the greatest punishment
inflicted by human laws. Death, in the greatest extent of its meaning, is the penalty of the divine law. Considering the infinitely evil and heinous nature of sin against God, and all that is said in the scriptures respecting the final and eternal punishment of the wicked; there remains no doubt, but that the threatening of death to all transgressors, means eternal death; or the eternal misery both of soul and body in hell. To Adam and Eve, the just desert of sin was expressed; and when by their apostacy they had exposed themselves to the awful penalty, they were liable, immediately to commence an eternal death. Had natural death been all that was implied in the threatening, we see not wherein their punishment would have been greater than that of the best saints. “ If Christ be in you,” says the Apostle, “ the body is dead because of sin.” But the penalty of the law was an evil infinitely greater than the death of the body. It was what is termed the second death ; which is allotted to the finally impenitent at the day of judgment. The ground of reprieve, when man had sinned against God, was the inmediate revelation of divine mercy, through the glorious Mediator. On this new ground, this gospel ground, man commenced a second state of probation, widely different from that under the covenant of works : for this was under what is called the cove
nant of grace.
Still there is a diversity of opinion respecting the penalty of the law. By some it is thought to consist, chiefly, if not wholly, in what is called spiritual death, which is, strictly speaking, sin itself. It consists, as they suppose, in being dead in trespasses and sins. On this construction of the death which was threatened, the law would read thus; 6 In the day that thou sinnest, thou shalt become a sinner altogether. Sinning thou shalt sin. And thou shalt never cease from sin." This view of the penalty of the divine law appears, however, to be altogether unsatisfactory. If the punishment of the transgressor consists in sin elf, or in additional trans. gression; what is the distinction between crime and punishment ? what punishment could it be, to one al