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Thou art my father; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister2.
Nor is this image less dishonourable than corrupt; it is the mark of our fallen state. Disease and death are the punishment of sin, and are therefore our shame as well as our misery. How much ignominy is there in those various sufferings which are the forerunners of the execution to which we are condemned! As a lost criminal under the sentence of his judge, man lives the heir of disgrace and sorrow. Even his dearest relatives, when death has once approached, must be buried out of his sight; and the lifeless clay committed to the earth wastes dishonourably away. Thus "the body of our humiliation" dissolves.
And why should I speak of its weakness? Human imbecility, how obvious, how painful! How little can the strongest frame endure. Extreme heat or cold, excessive fatigue or change, too much or too little food or rest; unusual care or anxiety, expectation or despair, joy or grief, all are sufficient to crush the feeble strength of man that is a worm, and the son of man that is a worm 3. And in the combat with disease and the grave, where is the boasted strength of man? where his former might?
2 Job, xvii. 14.
3 Job, xxv. 6.
where his power? He faints in the hour of conflict, and falls weak and helpless before the King of Terrors.
Nor can we be surprised at this, when we recollect that he has a mere natural or animal body. The soul indeed is rational and immortal, but the body resembles that of the beasts that perish. In its wants and appetites, its pains and pleasures, its labours and its repose, its renovation and decay, it is an earthly tabernacle, not different materially from that of other animals. And as to the tendencies to sickness and death, men themselves are as the beasts: For that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other, yea, they have all one breath, so that man hath no pre-eminence above a beast; for all is vanity 4.
Thus we are all of the earth earthy. Not only is our body made of the earth, but it is made of it with no considerable change. It is earthy still. The nature of the dust from which we were taken, remains in it. It rises no higher than its original. We represent in every feature the frail image of the first father of our race.
This image then of the earthy all mankind BEAR. It is the garment with which they are clothed. It is the likeness which they
4 Eccles. iii. 18, 19.
carry. I have alluded to this throughout the preceding observations; but it deserves particular notice. We enter the world with this body of the earthy. Frail, infirm, and moveable tabernacles we all inhabit. No circumstances of birth or nourishment or education can exempt from this law of our nature. Mark man in the tenderest childhood, as he struggles with unnumbered distempers and accidents. See him when he has risen with difficulty towards youth. Pursue him as he treads the narrow plain of anxious manhood. Follow the few who reach advanced years. Say if he does not bear the image of the earthy? Tell me if you find any who are delivered from this burden of the flesh. Point out the case where corruption and dishonour and weakness do not brand man as a ruined creature. And let it be again well remembered, what I have also before suggested, that this frailty and these diseases ending in death, are the punishment and consequences of sin, and the anger of God. They are not in the ordinary course of nature, as man was first formed in original purity; but in the extraordinary and superinduced course of it, as he has broken the covenant of his God. Man must have been mean and finite, as a creature, under all circumstances; but man is subject to corruption and dishonour and death, not as a creature, but as a sinner, as a transgressor of
the divine law. In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die, was the divine threatening before the first transgression. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, was the sentence of God after that fatal act 5. Where, then, is the boasted dignity of man? The crown is fallen from our head, woe unto us, for we have sinned'.
But it is further to be remarked, that even TRUE CHRISTIANS, though pardoned and adopted through Christ their Saviour, still bear the earthy image; as we have borne (says the Apostle, speaking of himself and other sincere believers): For though Christ be in us, the body is still dead because of sin". Christians are indeed born of God, united to Christ, accepted and justified by faith, led and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, entitled to the promises, and heirs of heaven. They love God, and they obey him. But still they are in the earthly house of their tabernacle, and they groan being burthened. For we know, says the Apostle, that not only the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption; to wit, the redemption of our bodies?.
s Gen. ii. 17; iii. 19.
7 Rom. viii. 10.
9. Rom. viii. 22, 23.
6 Lam. v. 16.
8 2 Cor. v. 1, 2.
Christians feel the same imbecility, the same corruption, the same dishonour in their bodies that other men do. They are even exposed to all this with a quicker perception of frailty than others, and with all those ardent desires to have their conversation in heaven, which none but themselves can know. They fain would rise with Christ. They fain would die unto sin. But an earthy body drags them down to the things of sense and time. The support of their fleshly frame, the seasons of sleep or repose, the interruptions of weariness and disease, the calls of appetite, and the languors of advancing age, not to speak of the endless direct temptations to sin and resistances to spiritual services, which their bodies occasion, remind them daily that they bear the image of the earthy. With all their endeavours and prayers, and all the aids of divine grace, they sink continually to earth, and cleave to that dust to which they are so intimately allied. They are thus perpetually taught the exercises of mortification and selfdenial, and are led on in a course of deep contrition, humiliation, and watchfulness, before their God and Saviour.
And if we bear this image of the first Adam in these general circumstances, how much more do we bear it in circumstances of DISEASE and The Apostle especially has his eye on these in the language of the passage from which