« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
whoin this gift was bestowed, is, by the immateriality of his physical Nature, capable of enjoying it; and, by the
freedom of his reasonable Nature, accountable for the abuse of it. So much is observed in honour of that exquisite knowledge with which the sacred Writer was endowed.
Having thus explained Man's Physical Nature, we come to the consideration of his MORAL; which, hitherto, we have but just hinted at, in shewing him to be responsible for his Actions. Now, as this responsibility is the great Principle on which all Religion, or rather the Sanction of Religion, is founded ; and as it is of the utmost use in our enquiry concerning the true nature of the GOSPEL; to understand what Mode of Religion it was to which Adam became subject, when þe first rose from the forming hand of his Creator, we must recollect what hath been said concerning the time of his Creation, wbich, we shall now see, will stand us in good stead to determine this important question.
i. For from thence it will appear, that the Man and Woman, the Male and Female, were not immediately, on their Creation, put into Paradise; but had a State and Condition upon Earth preceding that supernatural Establishment.
That this first State of Man in the world at large was not only prior to, but different from, his State in Paradise, the Sacred Writer clearly intimates : God (says he) on the creation of Man (male and female) blessed them, and said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and REPLENISH THE EARTH, and subdue it *.
But when, after they were put in possession of ParaDISE, and the gift of immortality was there bestowed upon them, they were not (immediately at least) to replenish the Earth at large; but to replenish Paradise only: from whence, as they increased, their Colonies, perhaps, might be sent out to inhabit for a time, the other parts of the Earth (not, then, a vale of misery and death), before they replenished the Regious of the Blessed.
2. Again, at the Creation of the first Pairn-God said, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which & UPON THE FACE OF THE EARTH; and EVERY TREE
* Gen. i. 28,
in which is the seed of a Tree, yielding seed, TO YOU IT SHALL BE FOR MEAT *. But when God put them into Paradise, he said, Of every Tree in the Garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, THOU SHALT NOT EAT OF IT T.
Hence it appears that Adam and Eve had a MORAL STATE, or were engaged to some Religion, before their Paradisaical life commenced, and different from it ; for in the first, there was no restraint of food; in the second, there was.
Whether the Religion, to which they were first subject, was that we call NATURAL, as being the result and conclusion of that Reason with which, at our Creation, we were endowed; or whether it was that we call REVEALED, or supernaturally taught by God, we can only learn from Scripture. And Scripture teacheth, even by its Silence, that it was NATURAL RELIGION to which the first Pair were subject, from their Creation to their entrance into Paradise.
For Scripture hath this advantage over human compositions, that it teacheth as precisely by what it doth not say, as by what it doth. In what concerns Religion, there is nothing, either in its silence or in its enunciation, that is ambiguous.
To give an instance, for the better illustration of the matter before us. SPEECH might be acquired naturally, as well as RELIGION. In this they agreed : In one thing they differed—Human Reason, which was able to instruct in both, teacheth Religion, or our duty to our "Maker, and to each other, almost instantaneously: But Speech, in the same School, is learnt only by slow degrees. So that Man must have continued long in that brutal State, to which the rest of the Animal Creation were, from their very Nature, condemned. Yet it is hard to suppose, that the all-gracious Author of our Being would leave his Favorite Creature, Man, whom he had endowed with superior gifts and prerogatives above the rest, to struggle with this' mute and distressful condition, from which, unaided reason could only, by slow degrees, in a length of time," set biin free. But this uncertainty holy Scripture removes; by the information it hath given us, that God himself, and not human Reason, was our first
+ Gen, ii. 16, 17.
* Gen. i. 29.
Schoolmaster in the rudiments of Speech. The text says,
- And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and BROUGHT THEM UNTO ADAM, TO SEE WHAT HE WOULD CALL THEM; AND WHATSOEVER ADAM CALLED EVERY LIVING CREATURE, THAT WAS THE NAME THEREOF. AND ADAM GAVE NAMES TO ALL CATTLEHere we have the most natural and familiar image of a Teacher and a learner; where the abilities of the Scholar are tried before they are assisted. From this text, we likewise learn, that no more than the first rudiments of Speech were thus, in an extraordinary manner, imparted to Adam for his present and immediate use. assisted in affixing names to sensible things, with which he was to be perpetually conversant. And this was sufficient to put his reasonable nature in a train to advance itself above the torpid silence of the brutal. Thus far was man taught of God. But the further extent and improvement of speech, particularly in its giving names to more abstract ideas, was left to man alone; which names, as his uecessities required, he would invent, and treasure up for use.
This difference, in the two acquirements of Speech and Religion, both of which natural Reason was able to teach, but not with equal facility or speed, shews why God interfered in the one case, and why he did not interfere in the other; and consequently why the Historian's enunciation was necessary in the first instance; and why his SILENCE, in the second, was sufficient to give equal evidence to what was the truth.
This (which indeed concerns the subject in hand) appears still clearer from the following considerations :
1. The PENTATEUCH is a professed history of God's communication with, and extraordinary dispensations to, Man, from the placing him in PARADISE to the giving of the Law. We have seen, that Man was subject to a Religion, prior to that Will of God revealed to him when he entered Paradise. Now, were the State, under which he lived before the Paradisaical, the State of revealed Religion, the Nature of the Mosaic history required that some account should have been given of it.
* Gen. ii. 19, 20.
But no account is given. We conclude, therefore, that Man, on his Creation, came under the law of NATURAL RELIGION, or was, as the Apostle emphatically expresses it-a Law unto himself * On this supposition, we can easily account for the Silence of the Historian. His Theme was REVEALED RELIGION ; and to preserve the memory of such a Dispensation, it was necessary
that the various modes of it should be recorded. But the memory of Naturat Religion was prescrved by an earlier Recorder, REASOY : who wrote it, and continues to write it, in the minds of all Men. Of this ori. ginal Record, Moses bath given sufficient intimation, where, speaking of Man's nature, he tells, that it was created in the LIKENESS of God: meaning (as hath been shewn) that Man was endowed with REASON. Now such à LIKENESS implies his knowledge of, and confessed subjection to, NATURAL LAV OR RELIGION.
2. But it is not only from the Silence of the Historian, as to what preceded Nan's migration into Paradise, but likewise from what he expressly tells us followed on Man's situation there, that we conclude, he was from his crcation to this time, under the guidance of the Law of NATURE Only: For the REVEALED Law of God to Man in Paradise, after bestowing upon him the free gift of immortality, consists but of one positive Conmand, as the condition of this accumulated blessing : à condition very different from any of those which Natural Religion requires to entitle Man to God's favour : This plainly implies, that Adam, by the Light of Reason, knew already the rest of God's Will, with which, as Moral Governor of the World, he had irradiated the breasts of all Men. Otherwise, had this light been so dim as to give no clear direction for his duty, we must conclude, that the all-gracious Creator would have expressly delivered to him a complete Code or Digest of Natural Lare, at the time when he enounced this revealed Command in Paradise. And that fie did not give any such, the Sitence of the Historian, in a work whose Nature would not dispense with such an omission, is a certain proof. To sum up all in a word--Man's moral State, under * Rom. ii. 14,
the revealed IVill of God, began on his admission into Paradise. From which truth it follows, that, from his Creation to that time, he was under the guidance of NATURAL RELIGION.
And here let ine just make an observation (which it would be a fault to neglect, though it be but one of the numerous instances of divine art in this inspired Writer) concerning the different terms employed by him in defining Man as the subject of Natural Religion, from those he uses in defining hiin as the subject of the Revealed. In the first case, Man is characterised by that distinctive quality of his being made in the likeness God*, or being endowed with REASON; the faculty which denotes him the subject of Natural Religion; that Religion which teacheth the rewards and punishments of Heaven INDEFINITELY. In the second case, he is distinguished as a compound Being, made of the dust of the earth and the breath of life t, which marks him out for the adequate subject of that other Religion, denouncing death and immortality DEFINITELY.
To proceed. This natural State of Man, antecedent to the Paradisaical, can never be too carefully kept in nind, nor too precisely explained ; since it is the very Key, or Clew (as we shall find in the progress of this work) which is to open to us, and to lead us through, all the recesses and intiinacies of the last, and completed, Dispensation of God to Man; a Dispensation long become intricate and perplexed, by men's neglecting to distinguish these two States or Conditions ; which, as we say, if not constantly kept in mind, the GOSPEL can neither be well understood nor reasonably supported.
So terribly mistaken have those good Men been, who imagined, that the best way of serving the cause of Revelation was to deny the very being and existence of Natural Religion.
But if some have allowed too little to this Religion, there are others, and those no declared enemies of Revelation, who have ascribed a great deal too much to it. Systems which, however different, are yet alike injurious to the great Truth they profess to defend. The one, by annihilating Natural Religion, cuts away Gen. i. 26.
+ Gen. ii. 7. R: 4