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grass, and the herb yielding seed, after his kind; and also cattle and creeping things : and the Waters to bring forth the inhabitants of the deep, and the winged fowl after his kind : but in the formation of Man the divine energy is represented as being exerted immediately, without any kind of instrumentality ; and “God said let us make Man in our image, after our likeness.”
We know of three very important characteristics of human nature, correspondent with these expressions. The dominion over every other sensitive being, and the power of converting the inanimate creation to an infinitude of uses ; by which he imitates the Sovereignty of his Maker'; his Intellectual Faculties; and his Moral powers; by the due cultivation of these—he is able to imitate his Maker in the still more venerable attributes of Wisdom and Goodness, and their concomitant Felicity. Of the precise degree of Intellect possessed by our first parents, and how far it transcended the powers of their offspring, we know nothing; for the scriptures have not informed us. Of their moral Attainments, and the sublimity of their Virtue or Piety, we are not authorised to say much to their honour. The restraint imposed upon them, in the midst of the most liberal grants, as a proof of their
Obedience, does not appear to have been peculiarly severe and difficult, and yet they failed. Indeed, it is not easy to conceive how, at the early period of their existence, they could have offended against any of the moral duties.. From theft, extortion, fraud, intempérance, debauchery, their primitive situation totally exempted then.: Falsehood and deceit, quarrels and contentions, are vices much too rude for the simplicity of their state, or the early endearments of social intercourse. Thus, in the very infancy of their being, it was scarcely possible for a natural temptation to exist. This peculiarity indicates to us the necessity of their being prohibited from the performance of an act, which was not in itself iminoral, as a test of their OBEDIENCE. By the commission of the offence they fully manifested, that their sensual propensities were not restrained by motives of reason or of piety: They gave the reins either to a perverse appetite, or to a culpable curiosity.*
· Better things could not be expected from their posterity. Without having recourse to vitiated propensities, communicated by the fall of their parents from a state of primitive innocence, and admitting that the moral powers were, in every view, equal, it is natural to expect that the multiplication of the species, would be followed by a correspondent multiplication of temptations and desires. Oppositions of interests, and all the discordances incidental to the social intercourse, when the passions and propensities of numerous individuals were unrestrained either by reason, by a refined perception of social interests, or by the dictates of religion, must have given dccasion to divers irregularities, immoral and destructive.
* See the Layman's letters to Mr. Wilberforce, upon Hereditary Depravity, for a more ample statement of this subject. First edit. p. 56, pássim, Published by J. Johnson, 1799.
The second crime upon record is the murder of a brother; and this took place at a very early period. The crime we are informed, was perpetrated through envy ; a vice which could not easily be propagated by the first parents in their Paradisaical state. This envy was excited by the tokens of respect paid unto Abel and his offering; “but unto Cain and his offering the Lord had not respect.
And Cain was very wrath, and his countenance fell.” The acceptance of the one, and the rejection of the other, manifestly arose from some moral cause, for it is added, “ If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at thy door.”
We are further told, that the third son of Adam was named Seth; that the son of Seth was named Enos ; " then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” This remarkable expression naturally conveys to us the idea, that impiety was prevalent even at so early a period, and a distinction between the pious and the impious was commencing. In process of time, when“ men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose.” As mention is here made of the sons of God, in distinction from the daughters of men, and as it is said in the preceding passage, that men began to call upon the name of the Lord, these are intimations that the human race was divided into two separate moral characters; that large numbers of the inhabitants of the earth were totally destitute of true religion, or that they were gross idolaters ; that a few were reserved, who for some time retained the priaciples of genuine piety; but that these finally became corrupted, in consequence of the seductive alliances which were formed with the profligate and irreligious. The human race at length became totally depraved. " And God baw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." And, according to the strong metaphorical language of Scripture,' “ it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth."
The representation given us of the state of morals before the deluge, and of the punishment which followed, justifies and illustrates our as sertion, that when human depravity is arrived to a certain height, the mind will not make the necessary efforts for its recovery. Hence it appears that either the destruction of whole generations, not to be reclaimed by the influence of the usual. Dispensations of Providence, or the exer: tion of a miraculous power, renovating the heart of man, by an immediate impulse upon every individual, were the only alternatives. To have followed the latter mode, would have been to repeal the important edict of man's free agency: The former afforded a solemn and salutary warning to succeeding generations. The destruction of every individual of the human species, that was not to be reclaimed by any natural process in moral discipline, appeared to the Divine wisdom the only effective method to clear the world of this moral pestilence. One family, which had