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CONCERNING THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, PARTICULARLY OF MAN.
GOD began to execute his infinitely wise and good plan, which he had formed and fixed, by his unchangeable purpose and decree, in the work of creation. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Heaven and earth comprehend the whole creation, both that which is visible, and invisible, to man.
This is said to be in the beginning, to denote that creation, or every thing that is created, had a beginning, in opposition to being eternal, or without a beginning; and because time and succession of existence then began; there being no other beginning of existence but this, and therefore no beginning before this, there being nothing before creation, but the Creator, whose existence is without beginning.
The creation is great, extensive and manifold, and vastly exceeds our knowledge and comprehension: But God spake the whole into existence, from nothing, with infinite ease. He said, “Let it be, and it was. He spake, and it was done: He commanded, and it stood fast.” The invisible heaven, which probably is intended when St. Paul speaks of the Third Heaven, and is called by Solomon, “The heaven of heavens,” was in this beginning created, and formed for the peculiar residence of God, who is said to have established his throne in the heavens, to be and dwell there; and the place where angels dwell; their creation being comprehended in the creation of heaven. And this is the heaven to 187which the redeemed will be received after the day of judgment, which our Saviour says, was “prepared for them from the foundation of the world.” This heaven and the angels were created then; but before this lower world was formed, and brought into order. Therefore it is represented by God, that when he created this earth, the angels were spectators of the work; for these are the morning stars, and the sons of God, who are said to sing together and shout for joy, when the earth was formed.148148 Job xxxviii. 4, 7. God was pleased to create innumerable hosts of intelligent beings, with strong powers of mind, and large capacities, to be spectators of his works, and attend to the numerous worlds and creatures, as they rose into existence and order; and behold and admire infinite power, wisdom and goodness, manifested herein, and rejoice, adore and praise the Creator.
We have no knowledge of the existence of any other rational creatures besides angels and men: and therefore we have no reason to conclude there are any other. Men may suppose there are many other ranks or kinds of rational creatures; but this, at most, is but mere conjecture. The supposition that there are no more, seems to have a more solid foundation, viz. that divine revelation makes no mention of any such; which it is reasonable to suppose it would, if there were any; since all rational creatures, under the same moral government, must have some connection and concern with each other.
The angels are often brought into view in the holy scriptures; and they are represented as having a particular concern and interest in the future general judgment: Were there any other moral agents, they would have ah equal concern in this judgment, and be members of the same society and kingdom of God, with the holy angels, and the redeemed from among men, or share in the punishment of the wicked: therefore, it is reasonable to suppose their existence, and some circumstances relating to them, would have been revealed, had there been any such creatures. The silence of the scriptures on this head is a sufficient reason to conclude, that angels and men are the only moral agents in the 188created universe; or, at least, not to conclude there are any such, and to be silent about them.
If it should be said, that the supposition of innumerable ranks of rational creatures, beside angels and men, represents God’s moral kingdom vastly more grand and glorious, than if there were none but the latter: It may be observed, that we are not competent judges of the number which will best answer the ends of infinite wisdom. There must be some bounds set to the number of rational creatures; and how many soever are included in this number, there would be equal reason to suppose it would be better, and render the kingdom of God still more grand a: id glorious, to have innumerable myriads added to the number, as there is to suppose it would be better there should be more than angels and men. Therefore there is certainly no reason for such a supposition.
There are “an innumerable company of angels,” even when numbers, beyond our reckoning or conception, are left in sin and ruin. And who can have any adequate conception of the number of the human race, including all who have existed, and all who shall yet exist, before the end of the world! No man has any reason to think or suppose, that this number of intelligent moral agents, far beyond his conception, is not exactly sufficient, in the view of him whose understanding and wisdom are infinite, to answer all the ends of his moral government, and to render his eternal kingdom most complete, happy and glorious.
The number and magnitude of the various bodies, worlds and systems in the material universe, which we behold, or can imagine, do not render it certain, or in the least degree probable, that they are all, or any of them, inhabited by rational creatures. If we were certain that the fixed stars are all like the sun in our system, which give light and heat to as many vast bodies or worlds, as our sun does, and no more: and that there are innumerable stars or suns, of this kind, invisible to us; yet all these, and as many more as the most enlarged mind can imagine, may be no more, nor greater, than is proper and necessary to answer the ends, which infinite wisdom has in view, with respect to angels and 189men. It is certain no man can determine they are not all necessary to answer the best ends, though there be no other ranks of rational creatures.
God was able, and could as easily create the whole world, and all creatures and things therein, and put them in the best form, and most perfect order at once, in the first moment of their existence, as to do it gradually, and by a progressive work; but the writings of Moses inform us, that he was pleased to be six days in creating the world, and finishing this stupendous work: And we are particularly told, in what manner and order this work was carried on, until the whole was finished. We may be sure there were wise and important ends to be answered, by creating in this manner, and taking up the time of six days, and no more, in this work, though we were not able to discover or imagine what they are. But we are not left wholly in the dark, with respect to this. It is evident from scripture, that the natural world is so adapted to the moral, that the former is a representation or emblem of the latter; and that there is a designed analogy of the natural to the moral. This appears in that, in innumerable instances, reference is had to things in the natural world, and use is made of them, to represent and illustrate those of a moral kind, in the holy scriptures.
The darkness and chaotic state in which the materials of which the world was to be made, lay and were found: it being tohu bohu, without form and void, or emptiness, confusion and vanity, is a striking emblem of the moral state in which man is found, as the subject of redemption, from which a most perfect, beautiful and glorious kingdom is to be formed; which is therefore called a new creation, the new heavens and the new earth. Mankind are, in consequence of the first apostasy, m a state of moral confusion, disorder and darkness; of total ruin, emptiness and vanity. Redemption or the new creation, the kingdom of Christ, is formed out of these materials; and, when brought to perfection, will be a most bright and glorious monument of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness: and will so vastly exceed the first creation in importance, duration, worth, beauty and glory, that the former work will be forgotten, and 190not be worthy of mention, in comparison with the latter. This is the representation given of ii in the scriptures, particularly by the prophet Isaiah.149149 Chap. lxv. 17, 18. “Behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth: And the former shall not be remembered, nor come into the mind. But be you glad, and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.” This is farther explained by the apostles, Peter and John.150150 2 Pet. iii. 13.—Rev. xxi. 1. Peter, speaking of the dissolution of the old or first heavens and earth, says, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” By the last words he fixes his meaning of new heavens and a new earth. It is that society or moral kingdom, wherein dwelleth righteousness: That is, the holy church and kingdom of Christ, consisting in moral excellency, righteousness, or holiness. John says, “I saw a new heaven, and a new earth: For the first heaven, and the first earth were passed away.” He then proceeds to describe the new heaven, and the new earth: “And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” This is the new heaven and the new earth, even the new Jerusalem, the holy city, wherein dwelleth righteousness, that is, the church and kingdom of Christ, formed out of the moral chaos of disorder, confusion and darkness, in which he found mankind; and adorned with righteousness or true holiness. None who attend can be insensible, that this passage is parallel with that in Isaiah, quoted above; and explains the meaning of the new heavens, and new earth, and of Jerusalem, mentioned there. In both places, Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth are evidently put for the same thing; and the new Jerusalem is certainly the church of Christ, or the work of redemption, with all the appendages of it.
The gradual increase and advance of light and order, in creating and forming the natural material world, is analogous to the increase of light and order in the moral world, particularly in the work of redemption, and an emblem of it. This light began to dawn directly after 191the fall of man, and has been increasing ever since; and will continue to increase, till the Sun of righteousness, (the sun of the moral world, the Lord and Saviour, who is the light of the world, and of whom the natural sun is an emblem) shall arise, upon all nations, with healing in his beams; and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea; when the church shall arise, and put on her morally beautiful garments, and shine in the beauty of holiness. And the darkness in the natural world, preceding light, and night preceding day, is a representation of what takes place in the church, and will in some degree continue, till the consummation of all things. Darkness, affliction and trouble, the fruit of the original universal moral disorder, do take place in a sort of periodical succession, which is followed with a greater or less degree of light, peace and comfort; until all evil shall be banished from the church forever, and there shall be no more night there.
As God was six days in forming the natural world, in bringing it into the order which he designed, and furnishing it with the various sorts of inhabitants; and then rested on the seventh day: this was a designed emblem of the moral world, or of redemption, pointing out the length of time that it would take to bring that to such a state of order and beauty as was intended, a day being put for the period of a thousand years. During the space of six thousand years Christ is carrying on the work of redemption, and forming his church and kingdom, out of the chaotic mass of mankind, to a state of order and beauty, through various revolutions and conflicts; when it shall be brought to a state of rest and peace; and the seventh thousand years of the world shall be a day of rest, when “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;” and the church shall put on her beautiful garments, prepared as a bride is adorned for her husband: And the Lord her God will rejoice over her with joy: He will rest in his love, and will joy over her with singing.192
Moreover, by working six days, and resting from his work on the seventh, and consequently sanctifying that, and setting it apart as a day of rest for man, he set an example, and made an institution for man, which was useful, important and necessary, for the best good of man, and the promotion of his designs respecting his moral kingdom.151151 No evidence can be produced that this seventh day from the beginning of creation, is not that which is now the first day of the week; and the contrary perhaps may be supported by satisfactory evidence; And some astronomers assert that this can be demonstrated by astronomical calculations: But this will be more particularly considered in the sequel.
According to the scriptures, there have not yet been six thousand years since the creation. And there are a variety of facts and arguments which prove the world cannot be much older than it is represented to be in sacred history: which have been mentioned by many writers: And there are no appearances or facts, which give the least evidence of the contrary.
It has been asked, Why the world was not created sooner? Why it would not have been wiser an d better, to have had it created so much sooner, or be fore it was created, as to have every thing ready for the day of judgment by this time; yea, so as to have had all the blessed in the enjoyment of complete happiness for millions of ages already? For this would have been so much clear gain of happiness, which is really lost, and never can be enjoyed, because the world was created so late.
It may be observed upon this, in the first place, that this question can never be satisfied, so that it might not still be asked with as much reason and propriety, as it is now asked; and therefore it must be an improper and unreasonable question. If the world had now existed ten thousand ages instead of six thousand years; and were this possible, still the question might be asked, with as much apparent reason as now. Why it had not been created so early, as now to have existed ten millions of ages instead of ten thousand? And so on without end. That question or demand, which in the nature of things cannot be answered or satisfied, on any supposition whatsoever, is unreasonable, and ought never to be made.193
In the second place, This question is inconsistent and absurd, and can really have no meaning. Antecedent to the beginning of time there could be no succession from one minute or hour to another; for minutes and hours relate only to time. There was no before or after, sooner or later. Antecedent to the creation of the world, there was no existence but the Creator, who only exists without beginning to exist, and therefore without succession. There is no such thing, or idea, to answer the words, before or after, sooner or later, with respect to him and his existence. These are relative terms, and denote ideas that relate to time; and therefore cannot be used with propriety, to denote any thing antecedent to creation; because no such thing can be predicated of absolute eternity, which has no relation to time, and succession. Therefore it may be with truth asserted, that the world could not be created sooner than it was, or before it was actually created. Because there was no succession, and therefore nothing sooner or later, before or after, antecedent to creation.
And when it is asked. Why the world was not created so early, that from the creation to the present time, as many millions of years should have passed, as there have thousands? There is an impropriety in the question, in the use of the word early, because there was no such thing as early or late, antecedent to the creation, and therefore this is altogether inapplicable to eternity, and is a word, when used in this case, without any idea or meaning, or if any idea be affixed to it, or conveyed by it, it is a false and delusive one, or not agreeable to the truth, as has been just before proved. But, if the word early were allowed to be proper, it may upon this be observed, that the world could not be created so soon, or so early, but that there must be a time, when there have been just so many years from the creation, to that time, as there have actually been since the world was created, to this time. And whenever that time had come, and the world had been created but six thousand years, the question might be asked. Why the world was not created before, so that millions of years should have passed by that time, instead of six thousand? And on that supposition, this question would be as proper and 194 reasonable, as it is now. And therefore it may be always asked, and never can be satisfied: Consequently is an unreasonable, absurd question, as has been shown.
Besides, the querist may be asked, since, though the world were created ever so early, even as soon as it was possible it could be created; yet there must be a time when it had existed just so many years, as it has now actually existed; how does he know, that he does not live in that very time, and that the world was created as early as his question demands; yea, as soon as it could be created, and have a beginning?
He who attends to this will doubtless perceive how unreasonable and absurd it is to suppose that the creation might have been sooner or later, or that there might now have been more or a less number of years since the creation, than there have been by creating the world sooner or later than it was actually created: And therefore, that there is no propriety or sense in the question, which has been considered. And perhaps it may be thought needless to introduce it here, and say so much, or even any thing by way of answer.
It has been a question, when, or at what time of the year, the world was created, and time began? The general opinion has been that the world was made and time began at or about the autumnal equinox. It is reasonable to suppose that the fruits of the earth, necessary for the support and convenience of man, were all ready for his use, when he was created, and therefore that the trees, &c. were created with their fruit in maturity, which they have since constantly produced, at that time of the year; which in the climate in which Adam was created, is in the latter end of our September, or beginning of October. And there is this greater evidence that time began at that time of the year, viz. that all nations began their years at that time: and Abraham and his descendants did so, until they left the land of Egypt; when God ordered them to begin their religious year at the vernal equinox, which takes place in our March. Yet even then, and after that, they continued to begin their civil year at the autumnal equinox, as other nations did. This is evident from the beginning of the seventh month, reckoning from the beginning of their ecclesiastical 195year, being said to be in the end of the year: That is, when the year past had ended, and another year was begun.152152 Exodus xxiii. 15, 16. “Thou shalt keep the feast of ingatheung, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.”
When God had created the world, and furnished the earth in a manner suited for the habitation of man, he created Adam, and then formed Eve out of one of his ribs, last of all in the end of the sixth day. The particular manner of making Eve, expressed the near and intimate union which was to take place between the sexes, and their mutual relation and dependence, together with the superiority of the man to the woman. These two were so formed, that the whole human race was contained and formed in them, and to be propagated from them; so that in creating these two parents of mankind, and commanding them to multiply and fill the earth, all mankind were created. And as, in creating them he made the whole human race, and they comprehended the whole; so there was a propriety, in treating them as if they were the whole, in his transactions with them, and what he said to them; in this, having respect to all their posterity, and comprehending them as much as if they had then actually existed. As in forming the trees and plants, with the seeds in them, according to their kind, by which they were to propagate the same kind to the end of the world, he created and really gave existence and form to all the trees and plants that grow out of the earth; they being all comprehended in the original stock; and existing after their several kinds, by the same command which formed the first of the kind, and under the same regulations and laws of nature: So in creating the original stock, the first parents of mankind, with power, and under a command to propagate their kind, God created all their posterity; and by forming them, formed the whole, after their kind. And what he did for, and with them, he did for all, and they, with all their race, were put under the same regulations and laws; and what he said to these parents of mankind, he said to them and their posterity,196
Man was made superior to all other creatures on the earth, being created with a rational soul, capable of understanding things of a moral nature, and acting voluntarily, from moral motives: by which he was placed in the moral world, being made capable of moral government; of being under a moral law, and of obedience, or disobedience to it; and of reward or punishment, according to his moral exercises and conduct. And he was made in the moral image of God, with a good discerning, taste or disposition, or rectitude of mind and will, or heart; by which he was perfectly conformed to the rule of his duty, or the moral law; which is the same with conformity to the moral character of God. This is to be made in the image of God, and after his likeness, in the highest and most proper sense, and to exist in the most excellent manner, and must be implied in the expression, “Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness.” And in the assertion, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him:“ Though that which is less perfect and excellent may be implied in this, viz. his natural faculties and endowments of understanding and will, and his being made lord of this earth, having dominion over all inferior creatures on earth, and in the sea. The moral image of God must be implied and particularly intended, as it is asserted without any limitation or restriction to the natural image of God, and to be in his moral image, is unspeakably the greatest, most important and excellent: And without which, his natural abilities, and dominion over all other creatures, would be worse than nothing. But were there any doubt about the meaning, St. Paul puts it beyond dispute in giving the true and important sense of the image of God.153153 Eph. iv. 23, 24. “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God (that is, after his image or likeness) is created in righteousness and true holiness.”154154 Col. iii. 10. “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” This is parallel with the passage cited from the epistle to the Ephesians, and therefore by knowledge here, is meant that true discerning which implies holiness, and which 197Christ says is eternal life, even to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ. Therefore, according to St. Paul, to be created after the image or likeness of God, is to be made truly holy, or to put on his moral image. To the same purpose he says,155155 2 Cor. iii. 18. “But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image.” The glory of the Lord, is his holiness: therefore to be changed into the same image, is to be made like God in holiness.
Man was not only put at the head of this world, this earth, in which he was made, and all creatures and things in it; which were all made for him: but the whole creation was made with reference to him, and in a sense for him; so that he is the end of all, under God, and next to him. It has been observed, that the material or natural creation, however large we may suppose it to be; and even though it may exceed our imagination, was made with reference to the moral world, and for the sake of that; and that angels and men are most probably the only moral agents which were created; and that God’s moral eternal kingdom will consist of these only. For the sake of these then the worlds were made; they are the end of all God’s works, next to himself, who is the ultimate end of all; for God hath made all things for himself. He made the material, natural world for angels and men, to promote his designs concerning them; and he made them, who are the end of all his other works, for himself.
And though man in his natural powers and capacities, and in his situation and circumstances, was first made lower than the angels, and in many respects inferior to them; yet, we learn from the scriptures, that he is more an ultimate end in the creation, than the angels; or that the angels were made for man, and not man for the angels. We may know the particular end for which God makes any creature or thing by the use to which he puts it, or the end which he makes it to answer. And the scripture teaches us that the angels are improved to answer God’s ends respecting man, and that he uses them all in the service of man.156156 Heb. i. 14. “Are they (the angels) not all ministering spirits, sent forth to 198minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation?” It appears from divine revelation, that God designed to answer his ultimate end of the creation chiefly, and in the most eminent degree by man; and therefore all other creatures and things are subordinated to him, and made to answer the divine purposes with respect to him, even the angels, the highest and most noble order of beings that were created. The human race were the peculiar favourites of Heaven. The most important and glorious ends were designed to be answered by them. The redeemed from among men, the church, is the bride, the Lamb’s wife, is to be raised in dignity and glory, far above the angels: to sit with Christ in heaven, and reign with him in a peculiar union to him, as the members of which he is the head: while the angels are represented as standing round about the redeemed, waiting upon them and ministering unto them. The Son of God took not on him the nature of angels, but of man, and has hereby laid a foundation to raise the redeemed, who were originally made below the angels, and by sin had sunk infinitely low in unworthiness, guilt and wretchedness, far above the angels in honour, glory and happiness: And hereby is made the brightest and most glorious eternal display of infinite power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy, grace, truth and faithfulness; in which God is glorified to the highest degree, that is conceivable or even possible. Into these things therefore the angels desire to look. They are all attention to man, and the wonderful glorious scene that is opened respecting him; and by the church of Christ, and the wonders of redemption, are made known unto them the manifold wisdom of God. Therefore the angels, with all other things visible and invisible, were made for Christ, considered in the capacity and character of the Redeemer and Saviour of the church.157157 Col. i. 16. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, principalities or powers: All things were created by him, and for him.” Therefore when he came into the world to redeem his church by his obedience and death, all the angels of God received 199command to worship him; that is, to submit and devote themselves to him, to wait upon and serve him in the work and business which lie came into the world to perform, in favour of mankind. Accordingly, a multitude of those heavenly hosts attended upon him, when he first appeared in the world, and worshipped him; and were with gladness and joy his messengers to carry the good tidings of his incarnation to men. And they waited upon him, and ministered to him, while he was tempted of the devil, and laboured and suffered in this world; and when he rose from the grave, they were present to serve him, and to tell the good news to his friends. And when he ascended into heaven, all the angels accompanied him with veneration and joy; rejoicing in his exaltation and glory, when he sat down on the right hand of God; and they were all made subject unto him, voluntarily giving themselves to him, to be the willing instruments in promoting his cause and work in the salvation of sinners; rejoicing in the conversion of the elect, and cheerfully serving and ministering to the heirs of salvation. Therefore because the angels were made for man, and are the devoted servants of Christ in his work of redemption, and of the redeemed, constantly waiting upon them, and ministering to them, Christ speaking of the redeemed, calls the angels, their angels.
I. The view we have now taken of the creation of the world, though a very partial imperfect one, is sufficient to impress our minds with a belief and assurance of the being of God, and of his power, greatness, wisdom and goodness; the marks and evidences of which are every where to be seen, in the things which are made. The existence of the world, and of all things round us which we behold, and our own existence, and the manner of it, are a demonstration, constantly held before our eyes, of the existence of an invisible Being, who has power and wisdom enough to contrive and produce all these things in their order and harmony; and so as to supply the wants, and promote the happiness of 200the sensible part of the creation: And that this Being exists independent, necessarily, and therefore without beginning, absolutely and infinitely perfect, happy and glorious. And the more we attend to the creation, and examine the great works, the sun, moon and stars, or this globe on which we live, and the various ranks of creatures which come under our notice, the more clear and striking will be the evidence of design, and of the power, wisdom and goodness of the Creator. And we ought hereby to be led sensibly to say with the Psalmist, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches.” And may well join with the four and twenty Elders, “saying, thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.”
II. From what has been observed concerning the creation of man, his endowments and circumstances, we are led particularly to reflect upon the goodness of God to him, in making a world for him, every way furnished for his convenience and happiness; in forming him for the moral world, by giving him understanding and moral liberty, in acting voluntarily in the view of moral motives; thus making him a moral agent, capable of virtue or vice, of reward or punishment; and therefore immortal, giving him an existence never to end. He made him lord of the world in which he was placed, giving him dominion over all the creatures in the earth and sea. He formed him in his own image, after his likeness, a perfectly holy creature, which is the highest excellence in the universe, by which he was united to his Creator in perfect love and friendship, enjoying a sweet and happy intercourse and intimacy with him.
In this happy state all mankind were created and placed; for, as has been observed, all the posterity of Adam were included in him, and what was done for him was done for all. And we ought to consider ourselves as originally placed in the happy state in which Adam was created. And if Adam was under obligation to exercise peculiar gratitude to his Maker for his wonderful goodness to him, we are to consider ourselves under the same obligation to gratitude for creating goodness, and 201view all the kindness conferred on our first parents in their creation, as conferred on all their posterity. And if the apostasy of Adam, by which he fell from this happy state, and plunged into unspeakable wretchedness, did not dissolve his obligation to gratitude for the happy state in which he was at first placed, and the goodness of God to him herein, as it certainly did not; then, notwithstanding his and our sin has rendered us miserable, we are not for this reason under the less obligation to gratitude for the goodness of God to us in our creation, and the happy state in which he placed mankind, in which Adam and all his race would have continued forever, had they not fallen from it, by rebellion against their Creator.
III. We are hence led to see, and reflect upon, the magnitude
and aggravation of the crime of the first rebellion of man against God. Man’s obligations
were every way infinitely great to love and obey his Creator. The greatness, excellence
and infinite worthiness of God, brought an infinite obligation on man to love and
obey him. His deriving his being wholly from God, and the consequent absolute propriety
and right God had to him, increased his obligation to devote all he was and all
he had to him, to his honour and service. And his particular and great goodness
to man unspeakably increased his obligations to obedience, love and gratitude. And
as it was his supreme happiness to love, serve and enjoy God, and in this way only
he could secure to himself and his posterity perfect and eternal felicity, and by
refusing to do this, must bring upon himself the infinite displeasure of his Maker,
and sink into complete and eternal wo, with all his posterity; this brought an immense
addition of obligation on him, to love and obedience.158158 It has been thought by some, that to suppose every sin which men
commit against God, is an infinite evil, or a crime infinitely great, is to make
every sin of equal magnitude, and that, according to this, one crime cannot be greater
and more aggravated than another. And this objection may arise in the minds of some
readers, when they attend to this representation of the many aggravations of sin,
by which the crime of it is increased, while it is at the same time asserted, that
every sin is infinitely criminal, as it is committed against God.
All this may be easily obviated, only by observing, that every sin, and the deserved punishment of it, may be infinite in one respect; and yet some sins, and the just punishment of them, be unspeakably greater than others, there being in other respects a great difference. Two cords or cylinders may be considered as extended in length without end, or to be infinitely long, or of equal extension in length; and yet differ greatly in their diameters; and, in this respect, have vastly different degrees of magnitude. Two men may be in pain, and yet one of them may suffer an unspeakably greater degree of pain, than the other; and if the pain of each were continued without end, he who suffers the least would be doomed to infinite evil; yet the other must suffer evil, unspeakably greater, every minute.
What finite mind can measure or comprehend die greatness, the aggravations of the crime, in man’s violating all these obligations, by rising in rebellion against his Creator and owner, and ungratefully abusing his infinite goodness to him! Surely the crime of this is unmeasurable by man or angels. We must pronounce it boundless, or infinite; which can therefore be comprehended by God alone, who has proclaimed the infinitude of it, by threatening it with infinite evil, even endless misery.
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