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the nature and capacity of the newly created pair ; and was such a command as we should suppose would have been given to the united head of the race when first created. Yet no command ever issued from God has been the subject of more ridicule; and in reference to it a jest has supplied the place of argument, and the infidel has supposed he has obtained a triumph over revelation when he has raised a laugh, or made it the occasion of a gibe. It is a matter then of no small importance.
III. We are to inquire whether the narrative of Moses is capable of vindication ; or whether there is such intrinsic absurdity in the statement that the mind is compelled to reject it. — We
e may make some observations which will tend to vindicate the statement; and then reply to the objections of the infidel.
In the vindication of this statement of the sacred writer, or in endeavoring to show that it was not absurd, we may make the following observations.
1. It will be conceded on all hands that the created faculties of Adam were such as to render it proper that they should be placed under law. The idea of intelligence, and moral powers also implies the islea of responsibility. Where there is mind, and conscience, and will, there is of necessity the obligation to obey the Creator who has formed them. This is a matter which cannot be denied ; and indeed it has not been generally denied, if at all, by even those who most abhor the Bible, and who most revolt at God's government. For every man feels himself bound to obey some law. There is some rule placed before him to violate which is in bis view to be avoided, and to violate which would be evil. The law may be very imperfect, or may itself be evil and mischievous, but there is somehow in his mind a sense of OBLIGATION. The
idea of one who has no sense of obligation to any thing — to a parent ; to a law giver ; to hionesty ; to morals; to truth; to self-respect; or to bis country, is the idea which we have of an idiot. Wherever there is found intelligence, will, and moral sense, there must be obligation and accountableness. And so deeply is this engraven on the human soul that it is impossible in the nature of the case to erase it. But if Adam was bound to obey any being, if he was under obligation to any one it was to God. He had no other Parent; he had no other superior. His powers, therefore, must have been at once, from the nature of the case, subject to the law and control of the Almighty.
2. It is equally absurd to suppose that God would have
left him without any law, as it would be to suppose that Adam was under no obligation to obedience. The obligation to obey supposes that in some way a law should be made known or published ; since it is obviously a violation of all the principles of justice to demand obedience to laws which are unknown, and of whose existence or nature the subject has no means of obtaining knowledge. That God would make known his will to the newly created man in some way seems to be probable from all that can be known of the character of God, and of the circumstances in which the man was placed. That God would send a creature like man into the world, helpless, unaided, uninstructed ; a creature ignorant of all things, and just opening his eyes on the world of wonders, is in the highest degree improbable. Every thing, therefore, in justice, and in benignity, seems to have demanded that the Creator should have been also the lawgiver ; and that the act of the creation should be nearly, at least, simultaneous with the giving of a law.
3. It would be natural to suppose that the law given would be such as would be adapted to the condition and the faculties of the man.
God would not put the human powers to the same test that he would the powers of angels. He would not make a law that was to bind an inesperienced being, of the same nature that he would to bind a being of large powers and experience. He would not expect the same service of a child and of Newton, when mature in years and in know ledge. He would not make a law in the infancy of society, and when moral relations were unknown or imperfectly known, such as would be adapted to the future developments of society, and to its higher stages of intellectual and moral advancement. We are to presume, therefore, that if a law was given it would be simple, plain, easily obeyed — and yet easily violated.
4. It is a matter of fact that POSITIVE Laws have been given to men ; I mean laws which depend so far as can be seen, on the mere will of the legislator; or whose reason cannot be known at the time in which they are given. Many of the laws of parents are just of this description -- laws wbich children are required to obey simply because such is the will of the parent. Many of the laws of the Old Testament are of this nature ; and many of the laws in all civilized society are such as depend merely on the will of the legislator. Were all the laws of this description which now exist in the statute books stricken out, a large portion of the laws of all nations would be at once
removed. That there should be a simple law of this nature in the commencement of society is not to be wondered at, or regarded as absurd. For there was a special reason why such a positive law should then be given. The design was to ascertain whether man would obey the will of God. Now, it is evident that this design could be accomplished only by some law which should be appointed by mere will, and which should not be suggested by the reason of the man.
Had a law been given which was one suggested by reason simply, it might have been doubted whether obedience was paid to reason, or whether it was rendered to the authority of the law giver. When a law was given, however, which depended on mere authority, which was a positive enactment, it became a simple test of obedience to the will of God; and was a test which would have put the matter forever to rest,
5. All men are, in fact, put on trial with respect to their good behavior. It is one of the great and universal principles on which society is organized; and we are not to wonder, therefore, that we find this take place in the case of Adam, and in the commencement of all society. Every individual is put on trial by the very circumstances of society with reference to his future life; and often in circumstances that bear a striking similarity to the case of Adam. It often happens too, that the trial occurs in reference to some matter that is, or seems to be, in itself unimportant, but which may in fact constitute a test of character, and which may send an influence far into advancing years. When a young man, just entering on his way, resists the temptation for the first time to partake a glass of intoxicating liquor, though presented in circumstances strongly inviting and alluring, the act may scarcely attract attention. It may be deemed hardly worthy of notice; but it may, in fact, be the test on which the whole of his character, success, and destiny may
Had he yielded, the whole circumstances and events of his subsequent life might have been varied. When a bribe is offered to a judge recently appointed, though it may be of small amount, and though it may require but little virtue to resist it, yet it is a test of the man's character. Had he yielded, the whole circumstances of his life might have been reversed. So when a young man begins his way in any profession, or calling. It is a matter of fact, that in regard to that calling, his virtue is subjected to a test, or trial. The world offers its allurements; its honors, its wealth, its corruptions, its vices are placed before
him, just as the forbidden tree was placed in the centre of Paradise, alluring, and inviting, and yet forbidden. Ten thousand forms of temptation allure, and invite ; and his first act in public life, probably, will be an act of resistance. If he succeeds ; if he is prosperous in liis profession, if his virtue becomes secure, it will be as the result of resisting the allurements that are presented, and of walking in the ways of virtue. And the first act of resistance may have determined all. Had he then yielded, he would have yielded more readily to a second temptation. Had his virtue been insufficient for this, it would have been insufficient for all. When the first temptation is resisted, it becomes easier to resist subsequent allurements, and his virtue is secure. Now since this is the case in regard to the actual organization of society, and the actual state of events in the world, we are not to be surprised that we find the same thing in the commencement of the history of man. It had been rather a matter of amazement if the first man had been subjected to no trial, and if no form of temptation had been placed in his way.
6. This is equally true in regard to society. It is a fact that all society is, at its first organization, put on trial with regard to its future character and history. Its first acts; its first laws; its first customs send an influence far onward into its coming events, and character. Its early virtue becomes the pledge of future virtues, and prosperity ; its early vices, the certainty of future vices and disasters. The character of its founder affects all its history ; and some simple deed of its first legislator may be in fact the test, or trial, on which the whole subsequent history shall turn. Every community is thus subject to a test; and we are not to be surprised that the earliest society, the germ of all organization in Eden should illustrate the same principle which was destined to run through all communities. He that shall object to this, should make his objection of a broader character, and make it apply also to the actual current of events in the government of the world. Then his objection would not lie so much against the constitution in Eden, as it would against the actual constitution of the universe; in other words, against that under which he is himself called to act, and to which he has been subjected in the society of which he is a member.
7. This trial under which an individual or a community is placed is usually some simple matter, or rule which in itself seems to be of little importance, but which is immensely important in its results. The value of the thing at stake may
seem to be a mere trifle; the consequences may be tremendous. In the case of a young man, for example, the test which is to be applied to him may be whether he will partake of a glass of intoxicating drink, or whether he will abstain. There may seem to be little danger in it; and there may appear to be little dependent on an act so simple and so unimportant. In the act itself there may appear to be little that is evil. He might reason on the subject and say that it cannot be a subject of great importance to me and to others whether I partake this once, or whether I abstain. Thousands have partaken with safety ; and, at all events, it will be easy again to resist the temptation; and indulgence once does not infer the necessity of indulgence again. Yet that single act may deterinine his character, and his destiny. It may have been that resistance then would have so fortified the forming principles of his virtue, as to have secured ever onward his walking in the way of integrity. A second temptation might not have been presented. Or if presented, it might have found him prepared to resist the allurement. The simple act of vielding once may have destroyed him. It loosened the foundation of virtuous principle ; it made him accessible to a second temptation; it laid the foundation for a long course of sin, and was the first in a train of ills that terminated in the ruin of his body and his soul. Nay more. It was the commencement of a series of ills and corrupting influences and calamities that would ultimately spread wo and despair through the bosom of a father, or a mother; a sister or a wife ; that might corrupt his own children in advancing years, and that should extend pollution and death in widening circles — like the expanding circles on the agitated bosom of a lake - long after he had sunk to the grave. Now suppose a voice from heaven should be heard addressing a young man in language like this : “ The world is fitted up for your comfort. You enter into it for useful toil, and healthy and needed activity. Its pleasures are spread out before you. You may climb its hills; wander by its streams, pluck its flowers, dig its diamonds or its gold, when and where you please. You may slake your thirst in any of its fountains ; bathe in any of its oceans or its streams ; partake of all the fruit which ripens in the sun of the tropics; or all the productions of the colder north. You may range freely - make your own choice of the mode of life — select your companions and your dwelling-place, and form your own destiny. A world is fitted up for your happiness. The sun