hearts would have leaped at the well known sound, and with all the alacrity of innocent delight they would have sprung to meet him. But that time was past forever. It is only innocence that can endure the glance of purity; it is only love, tender and confiding, that anticipates delight in the presence of authority. Let the remembrance of transgression press upon the conscience, and the self-accusing heart will make far other movement. Suspicion, like a dark and murderous fiend, now bounds into the seat of high-minded confidence, and every principle of the moral constitution sustains an immediate change. No mortal man can be in love with misery; he cannot look with complacency to the quarter whence he fears it. No creature in the universe can love its own dishonor; it hates as well as fears the scrutiny that would reveal it. Yes, suspicion sits enthroned as the veriest fiend in nature; it throws a sickly and heart-sinking gloom over the splendors of the day; the whole creation withers at its touch; and its breath converts the noblest feelings of the heart into sensations the most painful-the milk of human kindness to wormwood and to gall.

It was with a feeling far other than that of licensed love, that this hapless pair recognized the footsteps of their former friend. Abashed and terrified, they shrunk back from his approaches, and sought concealment among the thick trees of the garden. But why should Adam shrink? Did he not know that it was the voice of the Omniscient? Did he not know that "the darkness and the light are both alike to him?" Did he not know that though refuge had been found ten thousand fathoms deep below the surface of the ground, yet distance is nothing; and no obstruction can be opposed to that penetrating glance which cleaves

the dark abyss beyond creation's circle, and ransacks the recesses of mind as well as matter? Yes, every jot of this was full well known to Adam. He had been created in the image of his Maker, with a high degree of knowledge as well as holiness of heart. But who does not understand how fear suspends the exercise of thought, and bewil ders the conceptions of the mightiest mind? Who does not know, that the detected transgressor must be hardened beyond conception, when the discovery of his baseness, even in the very act, does not fill him with trepidation like the hunted roe, and leave him void of expedients as the silly dove? Experienced villainy is generally hardened villainy. The wretch who has succeeded in stifling his conscience, or who has been long accustomed to the development of crime, may cease to tremble, may be fruitful in expedient, with all his impudence and all his faculties completely at command, because he is a practised and a hardened villain. Such must be left to abashment in that hour when heaven's hoarse thunder shall urge the challenge home, and the avenging fires that flash from forth the throne, shed on his deeds their pale but piercing ray.

Our progenitor was not thus hardened in deceit. This was his first offence-it was an humble offence, it harrowed up his conscience, it stupified his intellect, and when he heard the voice of the Almighty, he obeyed the sudden impulse to spring behind the trees.

But there is a voice that can compel obedience even from a fiend. Let that voice command him, and however tardy, however reluctant, Adam must obey. See then this guilty pair move forward from their concealment slow and abashed. The first thought he exercised recured to his shameful plight; the first sentence he uttered, was

a weak apology founded on that plight: "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." More than this he would fondly not have said. But his Maker struck the cord that vibrated to his conscience, and the whole truth must come out. "Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" Mark now the answer of this desperate man: see how prevarication leads on to impudence; how ingratitude to God makes way for a spirit of unkindness to his creatures.

He had at first sought shelter under a prevaricating answer, attempting to explain things by telling half the truth. This would not do. The whole truth was extorted; his guilt stood confessed. How irreverent, how desperate was he rendered by that guilt! He next attempts to implicate his Maker: "the woman whom thou gavest me to be with me, she gave me of the tree." What an ungrateful, what a disrespectful recognition of the Creator's bounty in providing him that last, best gift. But it is thus that nature, once debased from its high estate, will stoop to any act of ingratitude and meanness. Adam is not the only man who has sought to escape detection by many a tortuous course, and who, when the fact has been proved beyond the possibility of denying, has laboured to extenuate what could not be excused; to involve parties the most innocent as accessaries to his crime; and even to sully the fame of heaven's spotless purity, by pleading its allotments as the predisposing cause of the abuse of all its bounties. You will not wonder that the man who could thus say to his Creator, you gave me the woman who has wrought my sin, you are yourself the cause of all this mischief-You will not won


der that the man who could put such comment on his Maker's kindness, should strive still more to shield himself, by pointing the vengeance to his hapless partner's head. We saw, and we admired on last Lord's day, the great and gallant spirit of this man, while as yet he stood secure in innocence, and mourned his partner's fall. We celebrated the tenderness and the truth of that affection which knew no happiness but in connexion with the object of his love. But where is now that great and gallant spirit! Where is now that true and tender heart, which, forgetful of itself, of its privileges and prospects, would know nothing, regard nothing but the misery of Eve! Gone with the innocence that gives vigor to such feelings! perished with the expiring spirit of devotion. O let no one imagine that the person who spurns the kindness of his Maker, will long cherish real kindness for a fellow.worm. That the heart which proves unfaithful to its Maker, can give a pledge of fidelity to any other being. Guilt not only renders des perate, it renders selfish too. And whatever men may promise, whatever they may feel while prospects are fair and the mind at ease, they will feel only for themselves when a horror of thick darkness begins to settle on the soul. Thus felt, thus acted our fallen father in this day of dread account. While innocent he braved perdition for her sake; but together with his innocence his fellow feeling fled. He could then think of Eve without thinking of her misery, he could add his accusations to the upbraidings of her conscience, he could hold up that object once too tenderly beloved, that as an ægis she might shield him from the arrows of the Almighty. "O, momentary grace of mortal man!"

But we must hasten through this trial. The answer of

Eve furnished likewise an apology, but an apology containing nothing but the truth: "the serpent beguiled me and I did eat." The serpent, or rather he who abused the serpent's organs, had no apology to offer. He was already recognized as an old offender; his motives were quite obvious. It was hatred to God, a wish to deface his new and beautiful creation, and a desire to soothe his own hopeless anguish with the sight of similar anguish in his dark abode. But to him the judge would not deign to put a question.

And now, the guilt made manifest, the only remaining step was to award the judgment. The first decree was issued against the serpent; say against the instrument of this sad disaster. His appetites were changed and rendered gross and undiscriminating; from a nobler port he was thrown prostrate to crawl like reptiles on the ground, and irreconcilable enmity was decreed between him and his fellow creature man. "He shall bruise thy bead, and thou shalt bruise its heel." All this has been fulfilled. All this has been accomplished. We know not now the former condition of the serpent tribe. But we do know that his gross appetites seek their supplies upon the ground; we do know that he crawls like a reptile on the earth, and that dwelling in the dust, and feeding in the dust, dust unavoidably becomes a portion of his food. We do know that the serpent often inflicts his mortal bite, and that man who fears and hates him often succeeds to crush his head. But the denunciation here uttered had 'a twofold application; it struck likewise at that more cunning and malignant being who was identified with the serpent in the commission of this crime. To that circumstance we will be at liberty to advert in due time. Mean.

« ForrigeFortsett »