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Unless the common ancestors of our race had by wilful disobedience contracted in their own persons, and transmitted to their posterity, the contamination of sin, we can easily conceive that absolute liberty might have existed among the inhabitants of earth”: a liberty, perfect and unshackled save by the one slight restriction under which our first parents were placed. Mankind had then needed no vicarious ruler, as having God for their immediate King: and, living under this theocracy in constant intercourse with their omnipresent Sovereign, they had needed no laws to embody His will; for with this their own wishes would have ever coincided, and it had been their supreme happiness, if not to anticipate, to keep pace with, the intimation of that will. The congenial tempers and habits of the human race would then have formed a strong and indissoluble bond of union: and the Evangelist's pourtraiture of the early Christians would also have been true of them: “ The multitude were of one heart and of one soul, and they had all things commont.” The true friendship, thus simply and emphatically delineated, as characterized by unity of will and community of possessions, would of course have superseded
Butler's An. part I. ch. iii. p. 89. Hooker's Eccl. Polit. vol. i. p. 244. “ By LIBERTY we never understood UNLIMITED FREEDOM.” Rowan quoted by Curran. 'Acts iv. 32. ii. 44.
the necessity of justice": for the good “ are a law unto themselves * :” their spiritual is paramount over their carnal nature: their passions are not inordinate nor insubordinate: there is no civil war raging within their breast. With them, hope is always innocent; memory is never put to the blush. With them, will is coincident with duty. To them, restraint is superfluous. They need neither rein nor curb nor spur, to guide or moderate or excite the uniform tenor of their action. No jarring discords would then have interrupted this universal harmony; for inclinations would have never clashed. Nor in such a society could any one even covet what was his neighbour's : and it is in this latter sin that the fertile germ of most other sins is to be found; so that if we would nip sin in the bud, this is the bud to be plucked off. Where shall we meet with a murderer, an adulterer, a thief, or a perjured witness, who, before plunging into those depths of guilt, has not trifled with his soul by dabbling in the shallows of concupiscence? From a breach of the last commandment of the decalogue it was, that David was led on to the breach of the sixth and seventh commandments likewise y: and from coveting his neighbour's field it was, that Ahab proceeded to subornation of perjury, to murder, and to robbery, as an accessary, if not as a principal .
και φίλων μεν όντων, ουδέν δεί δικαιοσύνης» δίκαιοι δε όντες, προσδέονται φιλίας. Arist. Eth. Nicom. viii. 1. * Romans ii. 14.
y 2 Samuel xi.
The state of innocence, however, was brought to a premature close by the machinations of the arch-enemy. Eve had neither fortitude to withstand temptation, nor faith to adhere to her duty. Adam fell a victim to the same artifices and sophistry. And the moral and physical corruption of their nature has been entailed on one and all of their descendants. To this depravation of the primigenial innocence and holiness of human nature it was owing, that concupiscence grew rife in the world. All began to appropriate : the old for the purpose of hoarding; the young for that of squandering. Rapine and lust were let loose on the defenceless. The decrepitude of age and the weakness of sex possessed no hold upon the sympathies of reckless insolence and brute force. Might made right. Each hand was armed by suspicion or aggression. It was not for the interest of such desperates that there should be a moral Governor of the universe : and it is but a step from practical to theoretical infidelity. They avowedly disbelieved what they would fain find untrue; and lived “ without God in the world.” Is this picture overcharged? What learn we from experience ?
Aye! in our own hearts we may read the legend, stamped in fearful characters, if we will but unclasp that book and look steadily upon its page. What are we taught by the inspired volume? “ God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. The earth was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. .. . And God said, Behold I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven b." From this tremendous doom but eight souls were exempted. Nor are we to suppose that such gross and extensive depravity was peculiar to antediluvian times. The human character, with its passions and propensions, is ever, and every where, naturally the same : it may be improved by culture, but the same ill weeds are indigenous to the soil. Nor is it from the theologian only that we learn this corruption. One of the most deep-thinking of ancient historians, who lived in the most enlightened era of the most polished city of the world, has made avowal of it: “ Men one and all are so constituted by nature as to do both private and public wrong: and there is no law which can prevent their so doing.” On the dispersion of mankind after the confusion of tongues, the same evil principles, as in the old world, must have developed themselves in similar evil actions, and generated the like evil habits. The continuance of this moral plague must sooner or later have roused men to seek some remedy. Under such circumstances the father of history represents the Medes as arguing thus : “ Since it is utterly impossible for us to dwell in the land, if the present state of things continues; come and let us set up a king : so that the nation may be governed by good laws, and that we may be able to attend to our own business, and not be forced to abandon our habitations by the disorders of anarchyd.”
o Genesis vi.
It might be supposed, that, where society is thus disordered, it must resemble a herd of madmen more than rational beings : that the virtuous few would never induce the depraved many to place themselves in a state of restraint; neither, if they could, would they be able to retain them in it. But this is not the case: we may refer to matter of fact. If we