Page images

The result was a catastrophe, as awful to contemplate, as it is overwhelming to imagine-the wreck of principalities and powers—a moral chaos, analogous to what would be produced in the natural world, if a portion of the planetary system were to break loose from the centre, and to rush into confusion and darkness. Then, hosts of beings previously radiant in glory, and glowing with sacred ardour towards the great Source of love, and towards all his intelligent creatures, were hurried away by the enormity of their guilt into ruin and despair, and became 'wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.'

Henceforward, there were two worlds ;-the world where the ancient principle of love yet reigned, and the world which evil, the new and monstrous prodigy in the creation, claimed as its own ;—the world of blessedness, where God was still all in all, and the world of apostasy and rebellion, where dwelt the wretched spirits who would, if possible, have dethroned Him. There were now two interests in the universe, irreconcilably at variance with each other—the interests of good and evil. It was impossible that the darkness of malevolence could blend with the light of love; and there was now a region of infernal beings—fiends,-a Hell!

Thus was the celestial world unpeopled of a


part of its inhabitants; and if there be aught that is material in that world, corresponding with the imagery of the Apocalypse, may not the vacant thrones of apostate 'principalities and powers' remain—a silent and everlasting memorial, by which the blessed of all ranks may be admonished that, here, once sat glorious seraphim-but they fell by departing from the universal law of love!

Earth too was once, for a short time, (alas, how short !) a scene of unmingled felicity; for it was the dwelling-place of two beings who were unfallen, and who were one in mutual affection, and in holy love to their Maker. But the malignant spirit who was foremost in causing the breach of unity which had already been made in the high places of the universe, attempted also to sow the seeds of rebellion in this lower world. The machination was but too successful, and the happiness of Paradise was blighted. Then began on earth mutual recrimination; and slavish dread of the Divine Parent usurped the place of filial reverence. The dissolution of the bond of

perfect love opened the floodgates of sin and misery to man. The grand law of the moral universe

. once broken-so precipitate was man's downward career, so awfully rapid his assimilation to his demon-tempter, that in one generation, he became little less than an incarnation of evil.

The first-born of the first human pair, was a murderer; and the first human death was inflicted through envy, by the hand of man, upon his only brother! And whence, from that time, have come 'wars and fightings,' either in the church or in the world, but from men's selfish passions ? From an Eden, the earth has been changed into an Aceldama; and from being the abode of every hallowed emotion, it has become the scene of suspicion, jealousy, envy, and uncharitableness, even among those who ought to be one in the most sacred union.





Such, it is evident, is the economy of man's nature, that there can be no social happiness but in proportion to the prevalence of benevolent affections. We also know, both from scripture and enlightened reason, that in whatever world man is placed, the very thought of true individual felicity, without supreme love to his Maker, is a chimera. The grand object, therefore, of the revelation of mercy, is to restore man to the image and favour of God. The earth, in its apostasy, has never been entirely forsaken of its Creator; nor permitted to be absolutely devoid of the element of moral good. A conflict has always been going on between sin and holiness : and the means have ever been more or less in operation, for reviving in the human breast the original principle of love to God and man. This


[ocr errors]


is the true vestal fire, which, amidst all adverse influences, has at no time been wholly extinct in our world.

Early after the fall, earth began to be the scene of a restorative dispensation. Even when ' all flesh' had 'corrupted his way'-when the principle of benevolence was so far lost, and evil had become so rampant, that the earth filled with violence,' the Spirit of God was already educing the elements of a new moral

a creation from the fragments of the old. Amidst the almost universal degeneracy, ‘Noah walked with God. In his person and family, the deluge bore upon

its waters all that remained of the ancient reign of divine love; which thus emerged from the ruin of the ungodly world. At length, in Abraham and his seed, the church commenced a formal existence; and, from this period, there have never ceased to be exhibited on earth, examples of the communion of souls, kindred in supreme love to God, and in mutual love to each other-a faint image of heaven.

Blended with all that was awful, and all that was exclusive, in the dispensation which had its birth amidst the thunders of Sinai, there was a spirit of benevolence pervading the code of Moses, which distinctly bespoke its divine source, and the purpose of Jehovah to make the chosen people the conservators of a genuine philanthropy to the

« EelmineJätka »