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This question will, perhaps, be best answered by asking one or two more. What temptation, then, let it be asked, could the world present to the people of God, when placed in the land of promise, and blessed with every species of temporal felicity? What temptation can the world present to a pious Christian, placed by Providence in a state of affluence, and furnished with every good that his heart can wish for? The truth is, that the world, even sup-, posing it to have been lawfully attained, and to be in ever so good hands, has this power of temptation; it may engage the attention of the human mind, and attract to itself the affections of the human heart, till, by degrees, its Maker is forsaken and forgotten. It may induce a man to consider it as an abode, and no longer to desire a removal to higher and better things with God above. “ Beware,” says Moses, " lest when thou hast eaten, and art full, thine heart “ be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God"." This proved to be the case of the Israelites. It is the temptation too often fatal both to nations and individuals, when indulged by Heaven with success and prosperity. And if the world, obscured as its brightness has been by the fall, can and does now produce such an effect on the wisest of those that are not at any time favoured with a large share of it, how much more must it have been able to charm and to deceive, when first formed in perfect beauty! Considering this circumstance, and withal, how “the
creature,” in the earliest ages, “was worshipped
11. Deut. viii. 14.
“ and served instead of the Creator,” one is almost ready to think it possible, that idolatry itself might take its beginning in Eden.
From the sad experience of those who have gone before us, let us learn-to have recourse to the law of God, for our knowledge of good and evil, and to refrain from the fruit of the forbidden tree, the tree of death. Of this fruit, though proceeding from the same root, there have been different kinds put forth and exhibited in different periods of time, agreeable to the turn and temper of each. In the days of the patriarchs, and of the Israelites, it was the worship of the material elements, or powers of nature, in the place of Him who made them, accompanied with every kind of impurity. Such was the religion of the revolted nations, and such the rites with which it was celebrated. Yet such a religion, and such rites, the people of God, for many ages, notwithstanding all that he did for them and said to them, strange as it may appear to us at present, were ever ready to adopt and embrace. They apostatized to idolatry, with the divine glory blazing before their eyes on the top of Sinai. Nor could the wisest and greatest of their princes afterwards escape the contagion. This corruption, which the Babylonish captivity, like a well-applied caustic, served to eat out and to do away, was succeeded by a disease of another kind, but one that stuck to them till it destroyed them; a mistake as to the nature of their economy; a confidence in externals; a deep hypocrisy; a spirit wholly secularized; an ambition to have all the kingdoms of the world subject to Jerusalem, and the
wealth and glory of them centred there.
" The de“ sire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the “pride of life,” were chosen in opposition to the celestial fruits of love and obedience, humility and charity, faith and holiness, produced among them by Jesus Christ, the tree of immortality. They“ put “ forth the hand, and tasted.” But soon the exterminating angel dispossessed them of their Paradise, and they died the death.
Since the ascension of Christ, the Heathen world has been converted to the Gospel, and that desert has become the garder of the Lord. But in this garden, also, is there no tree of death? no specious fruit held forth to entice the unwise to perdition? What is the doctrine, which, in some parts of Christendom, gives adoration to beings that are not God; or that, which, in others, denies it to Him who is so? What is the scheme that asserts the non-necessity of a divine revelation, claiming to man the right, and attributing to him the power, of making a religion for himself, and prescribing to his Maker the terms of his own acceptance? What is the atheistical policy, which excludes the Creator from the care of his works, and his providence from the kingdoms of the earth? What is that system of Paganism, revived under the name and notion of philosophy, as opposed to Christianity, and every thing that is called religion, by which either the Deity is materialized, or matter deified? What is that unbounded licentiousness. in principles and manners, daily growing more and more into vogue, and shamelessly, by some of the new philosophers, defended in form? What is
the luxury, the splendour, the extravagance, the dissipation, the abandoned profligacy, and ungodliness of the age ?
Behold the flourishing state of the fatal tree! View the extent of its branches, and the abundance of its fruit, in these latter days! But remember, that, still - the end is death; to a nation, excision; to indivi. duals, without repentance and faith, destruction everlasting from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall descend into his garden to make inquisition, and call offenders to their final account. Be not ye, therefore, deceived and seduced, however the temptation may seem “fair to " the sight, and good for food;" however “ desirable” it may be represented “to make you wise.” Take your direction, through life, from the word of God, and be not prevailed upon to falsify and transgress it. The conflict may be sharp, but it will be soon over; bear up resolutely under it; and, for your consolation and encouragement in the hour of trial, when strongly solicited to taste the tree of death, listen to that strength-conferring voice, which crieth from the eternal throne, in words that will bear a repetition-" To him that overcometh will I give to * eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the “ Paradise of God.”
THE PRINCE OF PEACE.
ZECHARIAH, IX. O, 10.
Rejoice greatly, Odaughter of Zion; shout, O
daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee :, he is just, and having salvation ; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of
And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off : and he shall speak peace unto the Heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even unto sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
This prophecy was delivered by Zechariah, five hundred years before the advent of Christ. And St. Matthew, in the Gospel appointed for this day, affirmeth it to have had its accomplishment when our Lord entered Jerusalem, in the manner here described, amidst the acclamations of the attending multitude: “All this was done, that it might be fuls filled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, " Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold thy King “ cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, 6 and a colt the foal of an ass." The prediction is