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"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.
"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 garden 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 individuals, 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. §, 10.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter 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 an ass. 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 ful"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, "and a colt the foal of an ass." The prediction is
of the literal kind, and it was literally and most exactly fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. No other king, with these characteristic marks about him, ever thus came to Sion before him; and since the Jews rejected him, they have lost their temple, their city, and their country; nor has there been any Sion to which their king might come. Jerusalem would not rejoice on the day when the prophet had enjoined her to rejoice, and therefore she hath cause to mourn from that day to this. The rulers of Sion were vexed and chagrined at beholding a scene which would have excited them to shout aloud for joy. The disciples, indeed, exulted, and sang Hosannah to the Son of David. Could Messiah enter his capital unacknowledged? That was impossible. Had men been silent upon this occasion, the buildings and pavements of the city must have supplied the defect, and bore their attestation to the promised and longexpected King of Israel. "I tell you," replied our Lord to the Pharisees, who desired him to rebuke his disciples-" I tell you, that if these should hold "their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
That we may perceive the full force and beauty of the prophecy before us, it will be necessary to show its connexion with the preceding part of the chapter
wherein it stands.
In this ninth chapter of his prophecy, Zechariah denounceth some of the divine judgements, which were executed by that scourge of heaven, Alexander the Great, when he overran Syria, took Damascus, burnt Tyre, destroyed Gaza, and, in imitation of his