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whatever was needed for the support of our population : we will not say that the whole social system would instantly be disorganized, for time might be required to overthrow confirmed habits of order and industry; but you cannot doubt that a vast and fatal revolution would be immediately commenced. You cannot doubt, that among the lower orders especially, who are accustomed only to the bare necessaries of life, there are hundreds and thousands who would prefer the bread of idleness to the bread of labour, whom nothing but the necessity of driving from their doors the stern spectre of famine keep fast to any employment, and who would quickly, if there was the supposed inundation of plenty, cease from occupation, and run riot in abundance : and there would be no power in the upper classes of making head against the lawlessness and insubordination which would thus prevail in the lower, even if they caught nothing of the infection, but were themselves carrying forward the employments of industry. The moment the poorer ranks had resolved on being idle, there would be an arrest on all the business of the higher; for such are the links in the social combination, that in putting one part out of joint you unhinge the whole system: and when you add the almost certainty that the inevitable effects of this comparative sterility for unbounded fruitfulness would extend themselves to every class which is required to labour, you cannot but allow that there would be quickly a cessation of all commerce, and an end of all enterprise, and that the nation would soon present the inglorious spectacle of a mere stagnant humanity, ruffled only by the worst passions of our nature. You can imagine no other condition : we do not believe it would be long ere all that is noble in legislation, pure in theology, splendid in morals, great in intellect, and bold in enterprise, would be buried in one common grave; and anarchy and vice proclaim a carnival, with only here and there an opponent to the most galling of tyrannies.
If there be any thing of truth in this description of the consequences of impregnating the soil of a land with the lost fertility of Paradise, will
not confess that it was with the distinct knowledge and forethought of what would fit a fallen race that the Almighty pronounced the edict of barrenness; that toil has been made the inheritance of man; and that the great bulk of our species must wring from the earth a disastrous subsistence? We conjure you to observe how the well being, and perhaps almost the existence of a community, is dependent on the circulation, through all its classes, of a vigorous industry; and how again that industry is dependent on the sterility of the soil : and then when you see that destroying the necessity for labour, by causing the ground to yield superfluity without toil, would be destroying all that is venerable, and healthful, and dignified, and reducing the people to the lowest level of mere animal being; why you will be forced to allow, that, however harsh in sound, there was the fullest mercy, as well as the richest wisdom in the sentence, “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."
Wo would yet further observe, before quitting this portion of our subject, that after all God did not so much remove fruitfulness from the soil, as make the development of that fruitfulness dependent on industry. The earth has yielded sufficiency for its ever multiplying population; as though the power of supply grew with the demand : and neither has it only yielded a bare sufficiency, but has been so generous in its productions, that one man by his
tüllage may raise bread for hundreds. This is amongst the most beautiful and wonderful of the arrangements of Providence. Why can one amongst us be a clergyman, a second a lawyer, a third a merchant, a fourth a tradesman ? Only because, notwithstanding the curse, there is still such fertility in the ground that more corn is produced than suffices for those by whom the ground is cultivated. If the earth would yield only as much as the husbandman himself could consume, why every one of us must be a husbandman, or starve. “ The king himself,” said Solomon,“ is served by the field.” He is as much dependent on the field, on the produce of the soil, as the poorest of his subjects : and he must soon cease to be a king—nay, he could never have been a king, if no more provision could be wrung from the earth than was enough for its immediate cultivators. The human race, in all its enlargements, could have been little better than a race of savages; every member being eagerly intent on extorting from the soil his own pittance of food, and none therefore being able to invent or perfect the arts of civilized life ; had God made the sterility as great as we have supposed. The whole advance of civilization is dependent on a power in the earth of furnishing more food than those who till it can consume. A people who are always on the border of starvation must be manifestly a people always on the border of barbarism : and just as manifestly a people must be always on the border of starvation, if every individual can only wrench from the ground enough for himself.
Thus, when we come to examine into and trace the actual facts of the case, the mercy of the dispensation exceeds immeasurably the judgment. We again say that we know nothing more beautiful and wonderful than that arrangement of Providence which has bound up all the arts, and refinements, and comforts of civilized life with the ground from which we came, and to which we must return. If the soil had been so fruitful as to ask no industry, men would have been brutal through abundance; and if it had been so sterile as to give to industry only a bare sufficiency, they would have been brutal through penury: and therefore did God take the mean, so to speak, between these extremes, and thus consulted wondrously for the advantage of our race. He made it necessary on man to be a labourer, knowing that nothing would so injure him as the power of being an idler: but then, by forbidding the earth to produce spontaneously its fruits, he had made industry indispensable to the preservation of life : so that while it was the best discipline, it might also prove the best benefactor. He caused that the earth should yield so abundantly to the industrious, that a few might raise food enough for many; so that whilst a small portion might be husbandmen, the rest might be artificers, and teachers, and legislators; and thus the fabric of civil society be reared and cemented. By compelling man to be industrious, he did, as it were, prepare him for civilization : and then in rewarding his industry, he put civilization within his reach. Men were too corrupt to be intrusted with abundance without toil, and therefore God ordained that toil should produce abundance-that there should not be plenty till the wholesome schooling of labour had taught men how to use it.
You may murmur then, if you will, at the ordinance which took from the earth its first boundless fertility: but when we have shown you that there was so much fertility left that the ground gives you, not only the bread on which you live, but your crown, and your senate, and your churches, and your schools. and your commerce, and your manufactures; and that had not labour been made indispensable, men could never have constructed the grand social combination ; when we show you this, we know not of what manner of spirit you could be, if murmuring give not place to admiration, and you confess not the graciousness, as well as the wisdom of the appointment,“ In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground"
We proposed, in the second place, to examine, whether there be any intimation in Scripture, that the sentence on Adam was designed to breathe mercy as well as judgment. We are disposed to agree with those who consider, that the revelation of the great scheme of redemption was contemporaneous with human transgression. We believe that so soon as man fell, notices were graciously given of a deliverance to be effected in the fulness of time. It is hardly to be supposed that Adam would be left in ignorance of what he was so much concerned to know; and the early institution of sacrifices seem sufficient to shew, that he was taught a religion adapted to his circumstances. But the question now before us is, whether any intimations of redemption were contained in the sentence under review; and whether our common father, as he listened to the words which declared the earth cursed for his sake, might have gathered consolation from the disastrous announcement.
There is one reason why we think this probable, though we may not be able to give distinct proof. Our reason is drawn from the prophecy which Lamech uttered on the birth of his son Noah: “ This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” And therefore did he call his son Noah, which signifies rest; to mark that he connected him with deliverance and respite from that curse which sin had brought on the ground. But in what way was Noah thus connected? How could Noah comfort Lamech in reference to the ground which God had cursed ? Some suppose the reference to be to instruments of agriculture which Noah would invent after the flood, and which would much diminish human labour;
but this could hardly be said to be a comfort to Lamech, who died before the flood: and we may fairly doubt whether a prediction, having reference only to the invention of a few tools, would have been recorded for the instruction of all after generations. But Noah, as the builder of the ark, and the raiser of the new world, when the old had perished in the deluge, was eminently a type of Christ Jesus, in whose church alone is safety, and at whose bidding new heavens and a new earth will succeed to those scathed by the baptism of fire. And as an illustrious type of the Redeemer, though we knew not in what other capacity, Noah might console Lamech and his cotemporaries: for the restoration after the deluge, in which they had no personal interest, might be a figure to them of the restitution of all things, when the curse was to be finally removed, and those who had rode out the deluge, receive an everlasting benediction. Thus it would seem highly probable, from the tenor of Lamech's prediction, that he had been made acquainted with the respects in which his son Noah would typify Christ, and that therefore he had been taught to regard the curse on the ground as only temporary, imposed for wise ends, till the manifestation of the Redeemer, under whose sceptre the desert should rejoice and blossom as the rose.
And if so much were revealed to Lamech, it cannot be an over bold supposition, that the same information was imparted to Adam. Thus may our first parent, compelled to till the earth on which rested the curse of its Creator, have known that there were blessings in store ; and that though he and his children must dig the ground in the sweat of their face, there would fall on it sweat “ like great drops of blood," having virtue to remove the oppressive malediction. It must have been bitter for him to hear of the thorn and th. thistle; but he may have learnt how thorns would be woven into a crown, and placed round the forehead of One who should be as the lost tree of life to a dying creation. The curse upon the ground may have been regarded by him as a perpetual memorial of the fatal transgression and the promised salvation, reminding him of the sterility of his own heart, and what toil it would cost the Redeemer to reclaim that heart, and make it bring forth the fruits of righteousness; telling him while pursuing his daily task what internal husbandry was needful, and whose arm alone could break up the fallow ground: and thus Adam may have been comforted, as Lamech was comforted, by the Noah who was to bring rest to wearied humanity : and it may have been in hope as well as in contrition, in thankfulness as well as in sorrow,
that he carried with him this sentence on his banishment from Paradise : “Cursed is the ground for thy sake ; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."
But enough on the general truth, that there was mercy as well as judgmentyea, that mercy rejoiced against judgment-in the sentence passed by the Almighty on our offending father. We have not indeed mentioned, though it is well worthy your remark, that had the earth yielded her fruits so abundantly as to leave no place for suffering and destitution, there would have been comparatively no call on man's sympathies, and selfishness would have reigned with unlimited despotism. We must become as angels before we can be fitted to live in a world in which there is no want. Poverty and wretchedness serve to keep alive the best charities of our nature ; and it were better to live always in a hospital, and near the ragings of famine, than in the luxuriant land where there was none to ask pity, and none to need succour. And this is one great end which we inay believe to have been subserved by the substitution of sterility for fecundity in the soil. The poor are in the land, and cannot cease out of the land while the earth remains under the original curse: and thus by presenting perpetual occasions for the exercise of brotherly love, God has done the utmost to provide against that induration of heart, that contraction of feeling, and that centering of all one's thoughts in one's self, which are amongst the worst symptoms of moral degeneracy.
The ordinance, that in the sweat of his face must man eat bread, secures a continual succession of objects of sympathy, leaving selfishness without excuse, inasmuch as those who suffer least from the curse are solicited on all sides to shew compassion to those who suffer more. And on whom has the curse of labour descended with greater weight, than on those who, for no fault of their own, have been slaves? And whose behalf, then, can be more asked for that sympathy, which it was one design of the curse to maintain upon earth? Slaves ! a freeman's tongue can hardly syllable the word, and a Christian's rejects it as not applicable to man. A man and a slave! Christianity would long ago, had its genius been unfettered, have made the combination unknown, except in the case which is of commonest occurrence, where man is slave to himself. Christianity indeed found slavery existing on the earth, and pronounced no command requiring its extirpation. It was no part of the design or Christ to interfere with the institutions of society, otherwise than by introducing principles, which if fairly followed out would modify much and exterminate more. No man can pretend to assert that slavery is not inconsistent with the spirit of Christianity, or that it is not the tendency of Christianity, when allowed its full scope, to banish slavery from the earth. We hold of our religion, that it permits man to be proprietor of every thing but man; earth, sea, air—he may spread his lordship over all: but man, the meanest and poorest, is the brother of man; and in making every man the brother of man, Christianity passed the strongest interdict against trade in human flesh, and property in human sinew.
But so far as our own country is concerned, the day has departed when it would be required of us to prove the unlawfulness of slavery. It was a noble act when the slave trade was abolished: but that act entailed the necessity for another, though many difficulties delayed its execution. When we had once pronounced on the injustice and criminality of the traffic in man, we became pledged to the removing the yoke from the necks of those who had been long in captivity. The one act was the unavoidable consequence, sooner or later, on the other; for, unless willing that the abolition of the slave trade should be a national stigma in place of a national honour, we were bound to take measures for restoring freedom to the thousands whom that trade had cruelly wronged. But the case was one of great difficulty: we had tacitly, at least, if not by any direct law, allowed man to hold property in man; and with what shew of justice could the nation, when resolved that slavery should no longer be tolerated in its colonies, abstract from the proprietors what it had allowed them to purchase and transmit to inheritance? The nation met this difficulty in the only way in which it could be honourably met. It was the nation which had sinned, and the nation must pay the penalty. To have emancipated the negroes without making compensation to the planters would have been a mad endeavour at covering one crime with another; would have been nothing less than substituting robbery for slave-holding. But the compensation was nobly made : and when this country lately made laws which are soon to give freedom to every human being within the broad sweep of its possessions, these laws were as just to the owner as generous to the slave. So far all has been well: but the owner was not the only party who had a right to compensation. The slave had been injured, fearfully injured, by slavery. Away with all theories on this matter. We assert that slavery must be degrading, and that the slave, because a slave, must become less than man. It was a great questiona question which no consciousness of the unlawfulness of slavery should have been allowed to precipitate the answer—whether it would be for the well-being of the slave himself to give him suddenly his freedom.
We were never of those who could join in the cry that was raised for immemediate emancipation. We always felt that the slave had been debased by slavery, and that it was full as much our duty to fit him for freedom, as ultimately to give him that freedom. . Therefore our legislators did well in appointing a sort of intermediate state between slavery and freedom, fearing that the too sudden transition might turn the slave loose on the world; like that wild creation of romance, in the manhood of physical and the infancy of mental