Sayfadaki görseller

indeed, but there is hope yet. Cursed is that wicked serpent who is the source from which thy sin flowed. He is thy worst enemy, who has plotted thy ruin under the semblance of a friend. But he is cursed. And as for thee, I promise thee deliverance. A child of thine, seed of a woman, offspring of a virgin's womb, shall come at length to bruise the serpent's head and set thee free. Thy chains shall yet be broken. My fallen image shall yet be set up. My lost children shall be recovered. Meanwhile, be content to suffer, for sorrow is the only cure for sin. Man, Adam, it shall be thy lot to labour. Sweat of brow is thy portion. To struggle with thorns and thistles, to maintain a constant warfare with cares and troubles of life, is at once thy due chastisement for sins committed, and the wholesome discipline by which thy love of sin is to be cured. Bear it, bear with thankfulness. Woman, Eve, be it thine to suffer too. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee.” First in sin, thou shalt be chiefest in suffering. Readiest to hear temptation, thou shalt be the weaker vessel, and obey the husband whom thou didst lead astray. And thy weakness shall thus become thy strength and thy glory; thy suffering and thy subjection shall regain for thee thy crown.' Thus, substantially, God spake to Adam and Eve. But it is not to Adam and Eve only that things like these are spoken. Each of us may take up our Bibles and read this third chapter of the book of Genesis, and see in it the history of the world, and our own history.

I. Adam has been hiding himself ever since the fall. Mark you, the story of the fall does not show us that

[ocr errors]

God withdrew from Adam, but something very different, - Adam withdrew himself from God. Adam, as soon as ever he sinned, was ashamed of himself and ran away,-skulked and hid himself beneath the thick shadow of the trees of Paradise. “ Hid themselves from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden” is the expression written by the pen of the Prophet Moses, and inspired into his mind by the Holy Ghost. God said not, 'I go back to heaven. I cast from me these foolish and fallen creatures. They are too bad for me to have any dealings with them, and I leave them to their sin and to themselves.' Nothing of the kind. Man hides himself from God's presence. There were three great gifts vouchsafed to man as God's image. First, lordship over the earth and the lower animals ; second, knowledge of God's works in creation, or the power of giving names to things, which is intimately connected with the power of language; third, intercourse with God, who vouchsafed His presence and guidance in the ways of truth. All of these were lost, in some measure, but the last of these was the chief, and this especially man lost by sin. And the true way in which to regard this loss is rather that man ran away and forfeited it by his own act and deed, than that God left man and cast him from His sight as an abhorred and despicable thing. God has never

his people,” but man has cast himself away from God.

There was, if I may so say, a mutiny in the ship. God, as it were, launched world upon the sea of time, and, being Himself the captain and pilot of the ship, created man to be its sailors, and work it across the heaving waves, till at length it should drop its

cast away

anchor in that peaceful harbour, which is heaven. But Satan—the fallen angel, the cunning serpent, the deceiver, the enemy of God and man-got in among

the crew and stirred them up to mutiny, persuading them to rise against the captain and take the command of the ship into their own hands. And they, ignorant and foolish, miscalculating their own power, and blind to their proper interests, and not aware of the danger, listened to his advice and rose in rebellion against the law of God. It was madness to attempt a struggle with Him who is Almighty; but the attempt was made. And then, feeling their own utter weakness, and stung by a reproachful conscience, and covered with confusion of face, the crew which had risen in mutiny seized upon the boat and left the ship. The mutinous crew fled. The captain did not cast them off. The captain would have given them pardon and have kept them in the ship still.

For their sakes he would have kept them. But they stole away. They left the ship secretly. They took to the wide sea in an open boat; for the captain's eye was too bright for them, and His goodness was a stern rebuke to their ingratitude, and they could not believe that He would pardon such great and inexplicable sin. This is the true picture of the state of men as ruined by the fall. Like a mutinous crew, defeated in their attempts at mutiny, they have cast themselves away, and are now upon the wide sea in an open boat, drenched by the waves which are for ever breaking over them, suffering from a famine of bread and a famine of water, running from God and therefore running into misery, hiding themselves from His presence only to put happiness far from them, and making their misery worse and worse the more they turn away from Him who alone can help them in their distresses.

This is what men living after fallen nature have been doing always and are doing now. They estrange themselves from God. They turn away from Him. They injure Him by sin, and then, as it is the way of men to hate those who have been injured by them, they hate Him. The world before the flood so hid itself from God, men went so far from Him, and so resigned themselves to wickedness, that God at length was driven to turn Himself from them, and they all perished. The Jews--His own Church, His chosen people--so rebelled against Him, went so far astray, so forsook His laws and ordinances, so buried themselves among the groves and high places of idol worship, so turned their eyes away from the light of light which shone from heaven on them in the person of His own incarnate Son, that He gave them to their own hearts' lusts at last, and suffered them to ruin themselves and become an outcast nation, condemned to wander over the whole earth. And at this day the greater portion of the world is fallen into the deep sleep of atheism or false religion, so that all but all Asia, with its unnumbered people, and almost the whole of Africa, is utterly ignorant of the true God and of that life which is found alone in Him. The world, as a whole, has turned itself to wickedness, hiding itself from God, and loving the darkness rather than the light, because its deeds are evil.

And it is not only those that are in heathen darkness who have turned from that presence which is light and life. Many Christians-Christians in name, though not in deed-many Christians do the same. They do not like religion. They do not care to think about the things of God. They would rather do anything else than busy themselves with that which is good. They will go and hide themselves among the trees rather than look for God

among the walks of Paradise. They will drown thought in business, or bury care in pleasure. They will not face the truth, and look forward to a coming judgment and a near eternity. They will not turn their eyes into themselves, and search their own characters, and try to know God. Anything rather than this. They dare not. Conscience, alive enough to tell them that things are wrong, is not of power sufficient to move them resolutely to work at setting things right. They know their own nakedness of good; but, instead of coming to Him who can give them clothing and cover them with His own righteousness, they run to the darkness, leap into forgetfulness, and plunge headlong into sin. Multitudes, even of those who have been baptized in infancy and bear the name of Christians, are doing this; are going further and further from God, instead of going to Him; are hiding themselves from His presence because they love sin and practise it, instead of seeking Him, that they may find the medicine by which that sore disease


be cured. II. And while men have always thus been hiding God has been always seeking. Not in a stern, severe voice, as though the spirit which moved Him was a spirit of indignation, but in a calm and solemn tone, softened by the breath of mercy,

the Father of all has been calling to them, “Adam, where art thou ?Knowing each of them by name and character, and loving each, as though every one was all, God has gone throughout the world seeking His

« ÖncekiDevam »