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witnesses, by their loud, consentaneous evidence, impeach Sin, the tormentor of the woman, and murderer of her offspring.
But suppose the case is not so fatal, and she is at last delivered; her labour may be over, yet not her pain and danger; a lingering weakness may carry her slowly to her grave. If she recovers she may be a mother, and yet unable to act a mother's part. Her pining child sucks her disordered breast in vain: Either the springs of his balmy food are dried up, or they overflow with a putrid loathsome fluid, and extruciating ulcers cause the soft lips of the infant, to appear terrible as the edge of the sword.
If she happily escapes this common kind of distress, yet she may date the beginning of some chronical disease, from her dangerous lying-in; and in consequence of her hard wrestling for the blessing of a child, may with the patriarch go halting all her days. How sensible are the marks of divine indignation, in all these scenes of sorrow! and consequently how visible our sinfulness and guilt.
Nor can the justness of the inference be denied, under pretence that the females of other animals, which neither do nor can sin, bring forth their young. with pain, as well as women. For, if we take a view of the whole earth, we shall not see any females, except the daughters of Eve, who groan under a periodical disorder that intails languor and pain, weakness and mortal diseases, on their most blooming days. Nor do we in general find any, that are delivered of their offspring with half the sorrow and danger of women. These two remarkable circumstances loudly call upon us, to look for the cause of the sorrow, which attends the delivery of female animals, where that sorrow is most sensibly felt; and to admire the perfect agreement that subsists between the observations of natural philosophers, and the assertion of the most ancient historian. Gen. iii. 16.
If we advert to mankind, even before they burst the womb of their tortured mothers, they afford us a new proof of their total degeneracy. For reason dictates, that if they were not conceived in sin, the Father of mercies could not, consistently with his goodness and justice, command the cold hand of death to nip them in the unopened, or just opened bud. This nevertheless happens every hour. Who can number the early miscarriages of the womb ? How many millions of miserable embryos feel the pangs of death before those of birth, and preposterously turn the fruitful womb into a living grave? And how many millions more of wretched infants, escape the dangers of their birth-day, and salute the troublesome light, only to take their untimely leave of it, after languishing a few days on the rack of a convulsive, or torturing disorder? I ask again, would a good and righteous God seal the death-warrant of such multitudes of his unborn or newly-born creatures, if their natural depravity did not render them proper subjects of dissolution?
It is true, the young beasts suffer and die, as well aş infants; but it is only because they are involved in our misery. They partake of it, as the attendants of a noble traitor share in his deserved ruin. Sin, that inconceivably virulent and powerful evil, drew down. God's
's righteous curse upon all that was created for man's use, as well as upon man himself. Hence only springs the degeneracy and death, that turn beasts to one promiscuous dust with mankind. Compare Gen. iii. 17. Rom. v. 12. and viii. 22. We may then justly infer from the sufferings and death of still-born or new-born children, that man is totally degenerate, and liable to destruction, even from his mother's womb.
But take your leave of the infant corpse, already buried in the womb, or deposited in a coffin of a span long; fix your attention on the healthy, sucking child. See him stupidly staring in his nurse's lap, or aukwardly passing through childhood to manhood. How visible is his degeneracy in every stage!
Part of the divine image, in which he was made in Adam, consisted in purity, power, and knowledge: but now, he is naturally the least cleanly, as well's the most helpless and ignorant of all animals. if the reader could forgive the indelicacy of the assu tion, for the sake of its truth, I would venture to shew, that there is no comparison between the cleanliness of the little active animals, which suck the filthy swine; and of helpless infants, who suck the purer breasts of their tender mothers. But, casting a veil over the dribbling, loathsome, little creatures: without fear of being contradicted, I aver, that the young of those brutes, which are stupid to a proverb, know their dams, and follow them as soon as they are dropped; whilst infants are months without taking any particular notice of their parents, and without being able, I shall not say to follow them, but even to bear the weight of their swaddled body, or stand upon their tottering legs.
With reference to the knowledge necessary for the support of animal life, it is undeniable that brutes have greatly the advantage of mankind. Fowls and fishes, immediately and with amazing sagacity, single out their proper nourishment, among a thousand useless and noxious things: But infants put indifferently to their mouth all that comes to their hand, whether it be food or poison, a coral or a knife: And, what is more astonishing still, grown up persons scarce ever attain to the knowledge of the quantity,
or quality of the meat and drink, which are most suitable to their constitutions.
All disordered dogs fix at once upon the salutary vegetable, that can (in some cases) relieve their distress: Bnt many physicians, even after several years study and practice, hurt and sometimes kill their patients by improper medicines. Birds of passage by mere instinct, find the north and the south more readily than mariners by the compass. Untaught
spiders weave their webs, and uninstructed bees make their combs to the greatest perfection: But fallen man must serve a tedious apprenticeship to learn his own business; and with all the help of masters, tools, anpatterns, seldom proves an ingenious artist.
Again, other animals are provided with a natural covering, that answers the double end of usefulness and ornament: But indigent man is obliged to borrow from plants, beasts, and worms, the materials with which he hides his nakedness, or defends his feebleness; and a great part of his short life is spent in providing, or putting on and off garments the gaudy tokens of his shame, or ragged badges of his fall.
Are not these plain proofs, that man, who according to his superior rank, and primitive excellency, should in all things have the pre-eminence, is now a degraded being, cnrsed for his apostacy with native uncleanliness, helplessness, ignorance, and nakedness above all other animals?
Man's natural ignorance, great as it is, might nevertheless be overlooked, if he had but the right knowledge of his Creator. But alas! The holy and righteous God judicially withdraws himself from his unholy apostate creature. Man is not properly acquainted with him in whom he lives, and moves, and hath
his being. This humbling truth may be demonstrated by the following observations.
God is infinitely perfect; all the perfection which is found in the most exalted creatures, is but the reflection of the transcendent effulgence, belonging to that glorious Sun of spiritual beauty; it is but the surface of the unfathomable depths of goodness, and loveliness, which regenerate souls discover in that boundless ocean of all excellence. If therefore men saw God, they could far less help being struck with holy awe, overwhelmed with pleasing wonder, and ravished with delightful admiration, than a man born blind, and restored to sight in the blaze of a summer's day, could help being transported at the glory of the new and unexpected scene. Could we but see virtue in all her beauty, said an heathen, she would ravish our hearts: How much greater would our ravishments be, if we were indulged with a clear, immediatc discovery of the divine beauty, the eternal original of all virtue, the exuberant fountain of all perfection and delight? But alas! how few thus behold, know, and admire God, may easily be seen by the impious or yain conduct of mankind.
If a multititude of men ingenuously confess, they know not the king; if they take his statue, or one of his attendants for him; or if they doubt whether there be a king; or sport with his name and laws in his presence; we reasonably conclude, that they neither see nor know the royal person. And is not this the case of the superstitious, who, like the Athenians, worship an unknown God? Of idolaters, who bow to favourite mortals, or lifeless images, as to the true God? Of infidels, who doubt the very being of a God? And of open sinners, the bulk of mankind, who live every where as if there was none?
Si virtus conspiceretur eculis, mirabiles amores excitaret sui.