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The fall of man.-Regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
-Progressive sanctification. Vast capacity and infinite happiness of a prosperous soul in the world
THE FALL OF MAN.
BY the disobedience and revolt of our first parents, all their posterity are brought into a state of sin and misery. Instead of soul prosperity, which man in innocence enjoyed, all is adversity and bar
It is the once fruitful field turned into a barren desert, the crown fallen from the head, the fine gold changed to rust and dross. Within, all is desolation, a wilderness, a moral waste! All our powers and faculties are depraved and polluted. Since the fall “ the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; and “ from within, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemy: these are the things which defile a man. And when we think of the purity, perfection, and extent of the holy law, we behold on our whole life “ the blot of goodness," the extinction of all spirituality, the total loss of the divine image. Alas! “ all
have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Man is utterly condemned by the holy law, he is a child of wrath, an heir of misery, and is every moment exposed to the just displeasure of an offended God, and to eternal condemnatiou in hell.
I am persuaded I cannot do better than to introduce, in this place, a much admired passage from Mr. Howe's book, entitled, “ The living Temple." The excellent author having considered the human soul, as originally “ an habitation of God through the Spirit,” speaking of its fallen condition, proceeds thus:
“ That he hath withdrawn himself, and left this bis temple desolate, we have many sad and plain proofs before us. The stately ruins are visible to every eye, that bear in their front (yet éxtant) this doleful inscription, HERE GOD ONCE DWELT. Enough appears of the admirable frame and structure of the soul of man to show the divine presence did sometime reside in it; more than enough of vicious deformity to proclaim, He is now retired and gone! The lamps are extinct, the altar overturned; the light and love are now vanished, which did, the one shine with so heavenly brightness; the other burn with so pious fervour. The golden candlestick is displaced, and thrown away as an useless thing, to jaake room for the throne of the prince of darkness. The sacred incense, which sent rolling up in clouds its rich perfumes, is exchanged for a poisonous hellish vapour ; and here is, instead of a sweet savour, a stench.' The comely order of this house is turned all into .confusion; the beauties of holiness into noisome impurities; the house of prayer to a den of thieves, and
that of the worst and most horrid kind--for every lust is a thief, and every theft is sacrilege. . Continual rapine and robbery are committed upon holy things. The noble powers, which were designed and dedicated to divine contemplation and delight, are alienated to the service of the most despicable idols, and employed unto the vilest institutions and embraces; to behold and admire lying vanities, to indulge and cherish lust and wickedness.
6. There is not now a system, an entire table of coherent truths, to be found, or a frame of holiness, but some shivered parcels. How many attempts have been made, since, that fearful fall and ruin of this fabric, to compose again the truths of so many several kinds into their distinct orders, and make up frames of science or useful knowledge and after so many ages nothing is finished in any kind. Sometimes truths are misplaced, and what belongs to one kind, is transferred to another, where it will not fitly match; sometimes falsehood inserted, which shatters and disturbs the whole frame. And what, with much fruitless pains, is done by one hand, is dashed in pieces by another; and it is the work of a following age to sweep' away the fine spun cobwebs of a former. And those truths which are of greatest use are · least regarded; their tendency and design are overlooked, or they are so loosened and torn off, that they cannot be wrought in so as to take hold of the soul; but hover as faint ineffectual notions, that signify nothing. The very fundamental powers of this frame are shaken and disjointed, and their order towards one another confounded and broken. So that what is judged considerable is not considered, what is
recommended as eligible and lovely is not loved and chosen. . Yea the truth, which is after godliness is not so much disbelieved as hated, or held in unrighteousness; and shines as too feeble a light, in that malignant darkness, which comprehends it not.' You come amidst all this confusion, as into a ruined palace of some great prince, in which you see, here the fragments of a noble pillar, there the shattered pieces of some curious imagery: and all lying neglected and useless amongst heaps of dirt. He that invites you to take a view of the soul of man, gives you but such another prospect, and doth but say to you, Behold the desolation, all things rude and waste. So that should there be any pretence the divine presence, it might be said, If God be here, why is it thus? The faded glory, the darkness, the disorder, the impurity, the decayed 'state in all respects of this temple, too plainly show, The GREAT INHABITANT IS GONE."
It appears then that man's fallen state is a state of absolute ruin. “God made man upright, but he sought out many inventions." When he forsook the fountain of living waters, he laboured to form cisterns for himself, but, after all, they could hold no water.” The glory departed from the temple of the soul, and it was soon filled with filth, and every abomination.
Each individual of the human race is brought into this awful state of ruin. Sin has rendered man a monster. Human reason and philosophy would say, " What man? Nero? Caligula ?” The answer is, every man; for “ all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Let not the reader start at the
thought. Let him not think that it is merely a few of the most notorious sinners that are ruined by the fall; since himself is one of them. Sin is a general malady, nor is there any remedy to be had for its cure, but from Christ, the great Physician of souls.
The fall has brought all mankind into a state of degrading bondage. As first created, man was free in paradise, to walk with God, and was capable of enjoying the sweet communion; but now, alas! he is the bondslave of sin and the devil. A prisoner under the arrest of justice, both as a debtor, and as a criminal,
“ Sin, like a raging tyrant, sits
Upon his flinty throne;
Beneath the heart of stone."
And while sin thus sways his iron sceptre over the mind, and the enemy keepeth his palace," all is quiet, though nothing is right. If there be peace, it is false peace, and the bondage is not the less dreadful, for not being felt. Fallen man is under a gross delusion.
The enemies of his soul know how to flatter his vanity. The very nature of things is often subverted, and a false colouring is put both on virtue and vice. The former appears to be nothing but fanatical gloom, and the latter as manly dignity, or, at the worst, an excusable foible. Thus the wretched sinner embraces his chains, and fancies their clanking to be sweet music; thus, alas! he“ puts hight for darkness, and darkness for light, calls bitter things sweet, and sweet things bitter." Is the reader under this gross delusion? Does he fancy his soul to