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the original than the present state of the corporeal system, and how conspicuous the goodness of God!
3rd. The world itself in its original state was pronounced superlatively good, and as such should be viewed by man. The earth in its pristine state was a globe beautifully formed, and well calculated for the support of animals, and for the convenience of man. In its present state it is greatly altered, and wonderfully changed from what it once was. Its surface is far more irregular and rugged, than it was when pronounced very good. Inundations and earthquakes have made havock with certain parts of the world. The flood especially has desolated the whole surface, and produced many dreary mountains and awful gulfs. We read of high hills and mountains, before this catastrophe; but they would not compare with the present. They would not be too stately to render a most agreeable variety either to charm the eye, or to be most productive. In consequence of sin not only the moral but the natural world is greatly degenerated; for the earth itself is cursed for man's sake. We may well bless the Lord, that we have the earth, his foot stool, even in its present state for our abode; but, yet, how must it once have been farmore excellent and most desirable.
4th. The condition of man and all things around him were originally very good; but in his.present state they are greatly reversed. Adam had a garden, whose soil was most fertile; and all the requisite labour would only serve to render him healthy, active, and cheerful. Delightful his situation! for out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree, that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food. Though we frequently behold the face of nature clothed with verdant beauty; yet its scenery was once far more beautiful and delightsome. But how are labour and vexation, sorrow and grief, now visible throughout the world, which lieth in wickedness. Awfully true the denunciation, Cursed is the
ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it, all the days of thy life: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field : In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground. Then the unpleasant excesses of climate, and the infected atmosphere are a judgement from heaven for man's transgression. For the same reason the beasts become savage towards one another and towards man. How submissive were they and inoffensive before the fall! Now, many of them are ready to destroy man, the lord of this lower world; and they fear him not only for his intelligent countenance but also for his wicked looks. The beasts of the field and even the elements are now hostile and set in array against him. When considering the manifold miseries of this life, does any one imagine, that the divine goodness is greatly eclipsed? This subject will teach him to contemplate the world and all things therein, on the sixth day, when the Lord pronounced them all very good. Then will he behold the beauties and wonders of paradise; and the same state would have continued to this day with glorious improvement, had not sin entered this world. The evils and direfui calamities of this life must not be a reproach to the divine goodness but to man. His revolt from his supreme Lord has immersed him in all the miseries of this life and exposed him to the woes of the life to come. But notwithstanding the sins of the world, through the divine grace, mercy and forbearance of God, how manifold is the divine goodness, what a continued series of varied favours does heaven confer even on the evil and unthankful. Yet how much brighter was the original state of things, when all were perfection, were superlatively excellent in the view of God.
IMPROVEMENT. ist. If this subject has reflected some light on the works of creation concerning the goodness of God, then it may be proper to make a few observations concerning the necessity and excellence of divine revelation, which will be a farther manifestation of the divine goodness. When we consider, that the great, first cause has not only given existence to matter, but also to mind, we may conclude, that a revelation from God to man is possible. Surely he, who created intelligent beings, can reveal himself to them, or excite ideas in their minds by his. immediate agency without the intervention of means or second causes. The same power, which created the human mind by an immediate, positive agency, can furnish the mind with clear and distinct ideas by the same agency, which is implied in the term, revelation. And truly a revelation from God to man is very desirable. Our first parents, in a state of innocency, might reason from the works of creation and providence, that their Creator is great, powerful, intelligent, and benevolent; and that they ought to love a being so glorious and munificent. But, without a revelation from God, it does not appear, that they would know, how they should worship him, that they might express their love in the most suitable manner: Neither could they know, whether their Creator designed them for immortality. And, if they should believe this, they could not tell, whether this world would be their eternal home, or whether they should enter another state of existence. When they felt hunger, they might draw some rational conclusions, that it would be lawful for them to partake of the fruits of the earth for their support; but could they safely infer, that they might take the beasts of the field for food ? How could they determine with certainty, that the animals of the earth, although in different grades below them, were not rational, accountable, and immortal creatures ? Even in the primitive state of uprightness a revelation was desirable and needful: but far more so, since mankind are in a fallen, blinded, and ruined condition; for it makes known the only possible way of salvation. Would we be sensible of the great importance of a divine revelation, we should not only turn our thoughts to those who enjoy it, and all the advantages arising from it; but we should contemplate the deplorable situation of those, who are destitute of its enlightening influence. That many of the nations or tribes of the earth, are, at present, in a benighted, forlorn condition, no person of information can deny, and the same might be said concerning all past ages. When we consider the strange worship of Heathen nations, and their base and scandalous sacrifices, for the making of an atonement for sin, that they may pacify their offended deities, we have existing evidence of the necessity of a divine revelation to point out to lost man the way of salvation. Without such a divine gift, fallen, guilty man could not certainly tell, whether a holy and righteous God could forgive sinners; or, if he could, whether he would grant pardon, and on what terms. They could have no certainty merely by repenting; and they could not possibly tell what atonement would be necessary, This required wisdom far beyond that of men or of angels. Moreover the contents of the sacred writings serve to evince their divine original. The things revealed are perfectly credible and consistent, and form an extensive and harmonious scheme. The doctrines and duties revealed are not repugnant to the law of nature, but consonant to reason and conscience. Finite, short sighted man may imagine, that the sacred volume contains many unnecessary things, that are not worthy to be included in a revelation from God. But, although some make objections to the sacred writings, because they do not exactly accord to their notions; nevertheless they do the same concerning the works of creation and providence. And as they do not see the wisdom of many of the works of nature, hence an argument may be derived in favour of the authenticity of the sacred writings; because they were given to man gradually and analagous in a manner to the other works of God. Also from the fulfilment of prophecies may be derived a convincing argument to show, that revelation is truly divine. Finite beings can only conjecture, they cannot certainly foretell what things or events will come to pass. To have a perfect view of futurity, or to foreknow the events, which are to take place, is the prerogative of Deity. Hence the completion of the prophecies carries convincing evidence, that the writers were divinely inspired. Many important events, and to human view improbable, have been foretold and fulfiled, even in the minutest circumstances. Moreover many important miracles have been wrought as a confirmation of the reality of revelation being divine. Miracles were effected on publick occasions, and they appealed immediately to the senses of men, as this was the highest kind of evidence, which could be given or demanded. They were wrought for very important purposes, and they tended to show, that the messages which the inspired penman delivered, were revealed to them from heaven, and should be received as coming with the declaration and authority of Jehovah.
2nd. This subject may lead us to see the odious nature and destructive tendency of sin. How has it changed both the moral and natural world, and what dreadful devastations has it made. What a sad alteration has it produced in the condition of man, and in the very animals as well as in the earth itself. Every groan, or painful sensation, and all the woes of the earth, announce sin to be exceedingly sinful. They are not mere calamities sent upon feeble and innocent mortals, but the judgements of heaven, upon an ungodly world, who seek any thing rather than to know, love, and serve the only living and true God.
3rd. How are gratitude and praise due to God. What a mercy, that man, ruined by sin, may be delivered from its dominion here, and from its curse hereafter. What a privilege, that the soul
be renewed by grace, enjoy the communion of its maker,