Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

the end of the world.” Happy, if we always received the lesson which that voice was intended to teach us !

Now that the ground is cursed for man's sake, he must draw from it the support of his miserable existence with pain and difficulty. The delicious fruits of Eden shall no longer yield to him their riches; they shall be insufficient for his subsistence: “In sorrow shalt thou eat of the herb of the field all the days of thy life; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." Here is another clause of the sentence which the Lord pronounces upon Adam. And is it necessary for us to point out the terrible execution of it in the life of man? Who is there

among

the sons of men, that has not eaten the bread of pain and affliction upon earth, all the days of his mortal life? The happy days of Eden are gone without return. Even those of Adam's children who enjoy the fairest lot, those who are not doomed to eat bread laboriously earned by the sweat of their brow, are they happy? Do we not see them, in the midst of riches and opulence, eating, with disquietude and bitterness, a bread which is often sprinkled with more tears than that of the poor? In

M

vain do they seek to violate the command enjoined in this condemnation, by withdrawing from labour, which is the duty of all; in vain do they think to escape the sentence by taking refuge in an idle and useless life, which serves only to aggravate their culpability and to augment their misery! What they subtract from the labour of their hands, is added to the travail of their minds. The same man of God who here records the misfortunes of man in Eden, includes the whole human race in that melancholy picture which he draws of human life: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow.”

But if, in the abodes of the rich, and in the gay assemblies of fashion, man, by assuming a false appearance of happiness, sometimes seems to give the lie to the Word of God, and induces the superficial observer to imagine that he has succeeded in escaping the sentence pronounced in Eden, let not this deceive you.

Look through the deceitful surface, and you will find that the curse has penetrated even to the very core of human life. Observe the prosperous worldly man, when he is himself, and when he has laid aside the mask, and you will find him a living witness of the truth of the words before us. Pass then to the cabin of the poor man, where every thing bespeaks indigence, misery, and suffering; or go into the workshop of the artisan, whom want has enfeebled, and who, to gain for himself and his family a miserable and precarious subsistence, is obliged to rise before the dawn of morning, and to pursue his labours to a late hour of the night; or stop in the presence of the toil-worn labourer, bent down to an accursed earth, whose bosom he tears open with painful efforts, and bedews with the sweat of his brow, in order to extract from it its fruits, and then say if the justice of God be a chimera, and if his threats be only uttered to inspire man with terror; say if the baneful marks of sin and the curse meet not your eyes on every side. Ah! how serious a lesson would life afford us, did we but know how to read it by the light of God's word! How different would its evils appear to us, did we but trace them to their real origin! Rich or poor, noble or mean, how would we be humbled before God, did we feel that all our sufferings upon earth were a just punishment of sin !

But what shall be the end of all these miseries? The tomb ! For this is the last and most terrible part of the condemnation pronounced upon man: “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.” “The day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,” was the Divine sanction appended to the command. And shall not that, which God hath said, be accomplished ? Yes, death, under its most fearful form, spiritual death, consisting in the separation of the soul from God, had seized on Adam the moment he sinned. And from that time, physical death, which is but a consequence of the former, deposited in his body, hitherto clothed with immortality, the germ of dissolution, which was soon to bring his life to a termination. Death, temporal and eternal, is a strictly necessary consequence of sin. “The wages of sin is death." • By one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” O my brethren! has the thought ever yet occurred to you, that eachstroke which death deals around you, is but a repetition of the curse of sin ? Death approaches, preceded by a train of diseases, infirmities, and pains; it strikes the infant, which drops from its mother's breast into the grave; and the youth, whom it snatches from amid his dreams of happiness; and the old man, who, for a long period of years, has eaten his bread in the sweat of his brow; it impresses upon that brow, bedewed with a clammy perspiration, the livid seal of condemnation, the mere view of which is sufficient to make us shudder. The terrestrial life, which began in tears, and flowed on in pain and sorrow, now ends in agonies; the last dying struggle repeats the sentence pronounced against sin; the grave opens its gaping jaws to receive man, who was taken out of the dust, and is doomed to return unto the dust again ; the cold and heavy clay falls upon the coffin-lid, which cannot secure the child of corruption from mingling with his parent earth, and makes it ring with a hollow, mournful sound. This is the last repetition of the sentence pronounced in Eden! Thus, for six thousand years, have the millions of Adam's race descended, in succession, into the grave, repeat

« ÎnapoiContinuați »