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BIOGRAPHY OF ADAM.-(CONTINUED.)
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the gar den in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid them selves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. Gen. iii. 8.
It is a saying to which the experience of all ages lends its sanction, that we learn to estimate the value of our blessings mainly by their loss. There is but one object in all this universe who can completely fill the grasp of men's illimitable faculties; but one whom we can never love too ardently or pursue too eagerly. In whatever other way, about whatever other object the faculties are employed, they soon become familiarized with all that it affords; and contented only when the feelings are wrought up to ecstasy, we speedily begin to droop till some new pursuit is offer ed, and cast away from us like children the bauble we had gained. Thus we lightly prize the possession of our faculties, unless when something presents itself to keep them on the stretch-we esteem as nothing the ordinary privileges of life, the enjoyment of our health, the bounties of providence, the endearments of friendship, of the social circle, of the sacred hour; heaven's light beams upon us, and we discern it not; heaven's ambient atmosphere pours
in its warmth and vigor, and we feel it not; heaven gifts us with the liberty of council and of act, and we regard it not. The heart inured to the possession of these incalculable blessings still pines for something else. But if judg‐ ments like whirlwinds desolate our path; if sickness-if fever flame through the trembling nerves of man and boil along his veins; if poverty arrest him with its cold and iron grasp; if he be exiled from his family and from all his heart holds dear; if prisons immure him among pestilential vapours and shut out the light of day. Ah! then he sees no blessings are like those ordinary blessings which while they were his own were scarcely felt or thought of. He wonders at the care which clouds the brow of many who are in possession of all these things. And he concludes that if health and a home and plenty were restored to him, he would never-never more be discontented or unhappy.
Such, my dear friends, is the common history of man. When the heir of many privileges, all is disregarded in the pursuit of something else. When those privileges are forfeited, he feels and acknowledges that nothing was so precious as that which he cast away. Thus is human life one eternal round of ingratitude and regret. Ingratitude for the blessings placed fairly at our command; regret that we did not know them when they were all our own.
It was a lesson which our nature learned at an early day. Innocence was the glory of man at his creation. Surrounded with all the possession of heaven's bounty, it was innocence that guarranteed the possession of his happiness, innocence that kept in poize those well regulated feelings which rendered the heart contented and the happiness complete. While innocent, it was his privilege to
hold converse with high heaven; ethereal spirits were but his elder brethren, and might have often extended to him their visitations of love; all beneath the sun was subjected to his dominion; and there was nothing to hurt him, nothing that could destroy in all this universe.
But the loss of innocence was the loss of all. How suddenly and how rashly he cast this pearl away we said on last Lord's day. And now nothing seemed to await him but the infliction of the penalty. Eternal divorcement from the blessings he had forfeited, embittered by the sting of eternal self-reproach.
But we contemplate not only a change in all his prospects; we mark him degraded by a change of all his feelings. Beautified no longer with the charms of conscious innocence, he was no longer ennobled by the sense of conscious worth. His first impression was a sense of shame. "The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made shemselves aprons."
We will not consume time that may be far better occupied, in stating the many idle and whimsical speculations that have been indulged on this subject. Many are the devices and great have been the pains to account for the ignorance of this happy pair in relation to the circumstance thus said to have been revealed to them by the first transgression. We believe however that it is labour wasted to no kind of purpose. It is not a fact that they were ignorant on this subject, nor is it conceivable how they should have been. In the last verse of the preceding chapter this circumstance is alluded to, not as a thing unknown to them, but as a matter which in their state of innocence gave them no concern. It was guilt that was the parent
of the sense of shame; and the strong expressions which occur throughout this chapter, are sufficiently accounted for on the principle that the suggestion of any thing im proper in this circumstance must have originated from some source very foreign from their own native and innocent conceptions.
It is more important to notice an objection to the representation of the state of innocence, that has been grounded on this circumstance. Variety of climate and of season, it is said, have their foundation in the order of things. There must always have been the winter and the summer; and how are we to suppose that such changes would have comported with the convenience of mankind, had they continued innocent, and spread abroad upon the earth? We have only to reply, that all argument drawn from the existing state of things, and applied to the former state, is perfectly out of place. Man knows very little of the economy of nature. And at this moment we well know, a perfect revolution on the philosophy of light and heat is taking place in the world. A revolution which affects equally the theories of the nature and of the causes of light and heat. If it be a fact, as is now admitted, that they are perfectly different things; if it be a fact, as is supposed, that the sun contributes neither, but merely gives activity,in some way not yet discovered, to the matter of light and heat with which our elements are stored; then no man may undertake to say that the intensity of either, or the absence of either, is necessarily dependent on the altitude of the sun under any given latitude, or on our nearness or remoteness from the centre of the system. For ought we can tell, the manner of both is connected with arrangements on which the sun beams only incidentally. For
ought we can tell, the Georgium planet, rolling as he does, 18,00 millions of miles away from the orb of day, may, nevertheless, be favoured with as brilliant light, and with as genial warmth, as ever fructified and blessed our equinoctial climes. But be the order and the laws of nature what they may, we cannot account for the sudden changes and highly various temperature so frequently experienced in one and the same place, during the same season, and to all appearance under the same general circum stances. Why then bring in our crude suppositions and half-formed theories-suppositions ever changing, theories perpetually new-modeling;-why oppose these flimsy and fragile things to the word of him who appoints the earth its seasons, who marshals all its elements, and who can change them at his will?
"The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked." Guilt unhinged their moral constitution, and strong emotions and painful suggestions, to which innocence was a stranger, now pressed upon their hearts. Thus did they verify the promise of the tempter. Knowledge of evil they sought for; knowledge of evil they attained; they found it in the quick and painful sense of unutterable shame.
But the hectic that stains the ashen cheek of guilt is but one of many evils to which sinners are subjected. They were soon to experience a more commanding emotion than that from which they shrunk. Trepidation and terror soon succeeded to abashment. Their Creator, as he no doubt would have been often wont to do, assumed the semblance of humanity, that he might hold converse with his children; and they recognized the sound of his approach through the garden. There had been a time when their