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that some kind of testimony, in opposition to what he calls error, ought to be made; and has been urged to let the same appear in print. But whether, on the whole, it is for the interest of truth, is left to the judgment of the candid.
Rutland, Dec. 30, 1805.
A SERMON, &C.
Genesis iii., 4: — "And the serpent said unto ike woman, Ye shall not surely die."
The Holy Scriptures are a peculiar fund of instruction. They inform us of the origin of creation; of the primitive state of man; of his fall, or apostacy from God. It appears that he was placed in the garden of Eden, with full liberty to regale himself with all the delicious fruits that were to be found except what grew on one tree—if he ate of that he should surely die, was the declaration of the Most High.
Happy were the human pair amid this delightful paradise, until a certain preacher, in his journey, came that way, and disturbed their peace and tranquillity by endeavouring to reverse the prohibition of the Almighty, as in our text—" Ye shall not surely die."
"She plucW, she ate;
We may attend,
To the character of the preacher—to the doctrine inculcated—to the hearer addressed—to the medium or instrument of the preaching.
I. As to the preacher, I would observe, he has many names given him in the sacred writings, the most common is the Devil. That it was he that disturbed the felicity of our first parents, is evident from 2 Cor. xi., 3, and many other passages of Scripture. He was once an angel of light, and knew better than to preach such doctrine; he did violence to his own reason.
But, to be a little more particular, let it be observed,
1. He is an old preacher. He lived about one thousand seven hundred years before Abraham—above two thousand four hundred and thirty years before Moses— four thousand and four years before Christ. It is now five thousand eight hundred and nine years since he commenced preaching. By this time he must have acquired great skill in the art.
2. He is a very cunning, artful preacher. When Elymas, the sorcerer, came to turn away people from the faith, he is said to be full of all subtlety, and a child of the devil—not only because he was an enemy of all righteousness, but on account of his carnal cunning and craftiness.
3. He is a very laborious, unwearied preacher. He has been in the ministry almost six thousand years, and yet his zeal is not in the least abated. The apostle Peter compares him to a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour. When God inquired of this persevering preacher, Job ii., 2, "From whence earnest thou?" he "answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it" He is far from being circumscribed within the narrow limits of parish, state, or continental lines; but his haunt and travel is very large and extensive.
4. He is a heterogeneous preacher, if I may so express myself. He makes use of a Bible when he holds forth, as in his sermon to our Saviour, Matt, iv., 6. He mixes truth with error, in order to make it go well, or to carry his point.
5. He is a very presumptuous preacher. Notwithstanding God had declared in the most plain and positive terms, "Thou shall surely die"—or, "In dying thou shall die"—yet this audacious wretch had the impudence to confront omnipotence, and say, "Ye shall not surely die!"
6. He is a very successful preacher, He draws, a I
great number after him. No preacher can command hearers like him. He was successful with our first parents — with the old world. Noah once preached to those spirits that are now in the prison of hell, and told them from God that they should surely die; but this preacher came along, and declared the contrary — "Ye shall not surely die." The greater part, it seems, bejieved him, and went to destruction. So it was with $«om and Gomorrah — Lot preached to them; the subsi&Bce of which was, "Up, get ye out of this place; for tlieVLord will destroy this city." — Gen. xix., 14. But this"yd declaimer told them, No danger! no danger! "Ye shaUonot surely die." To which they generally gave heed,; and Lot seemed to them as one who mocked — (fjiey believed the Universal preacher, and were consumed — agreeably to the declaration of the apostle Jude, "Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about thenf,~Wfering the vengeance of eternal fire."
II. Let/fl£ attend to the doctrine inculcated by this preacher, QYe shall not surely die." Bold assertion! without a(y«ingle argument to support it. The death containeaan the threatening was doubtless eternal death, — as nqtoing but this would express God's feelings towards/,s^n, or render an infinite atonement necessary. To suppose it to be spiritual death is to blend crime and jx»£jlhment together. To suppose temporal death to blrthe curse of the law, then believers are not delivered from it, according to Galatians iii., 13. What Satan meant to preach was, that there is no hell; and that the wages of sin is not death, but eternal life.
III. We shall now take notice of the hearer addressed by the preacher. This we have in the text —" And the serpent said unto the Woman, Ye shall not surely die." That Eve had not so much experience as Adam is evident; and so not equally able to withstand temptation. This doubtless was a reason why the tempter chose her, with whom he might hope to be successful. Doubtless he took a time when she was separated from her husband.
That this preacher has had the greatest success in the dark and ignorant parts of the earth, is evident; his kingdom is a kingdom of darkness. He is a great enemy to light. St. Paul gives us some account of him in his day—2 Tim. iii., 6. "For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts." The same apostle observes, Rom. xvi., 17, 18, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
IV. The instrument or medium made use of by the preacher will now be considered. This we have in the text—" And the Serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die." But how came the devil to preach through the serpent?
1. To save his own character, and the better to carry his point. Had the devil come to our first parents personally and unmasked, they would have more easily seen the deception. The reality of a future punishment is at times so clearly impressed on the human mind, that even Satan is constrained to own that there is a hell, although at other times he denies it. He does not wish to have it known that he is a liar; therefore he conceals himself, that he can the better accomplish his designs and save his own character.
2. The devil is an enemy to all good, to all happiness and excellence. He is opposed to the felicity of the brutes. He took delight in tormenting the swine. The serpent, before he set up preaching universal salvation, was a cunning, beautiful, and happy creature; but now his glory is departed. "And the Lord said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shall thou go, and dust shall thou eat all the days of thy life." There is therefore a kind of duplicate cunning in the matter—Satan gets the preacher and hearers also.
"And is not this triumphant treachery,
3. Another reason why Satan employs instruments in his service is, because his empire is large, and he cannot be everywhere himself.
4. He has a large number at his command that love, and approve of his work, delight in building up his kingdom, and stand ready to go at his call.
1. The devil is not dead, but still lives, and is able to preach as well as ever, "Ye shall not surely die."
2. Universal salvation is no new-fangled scheme, but can boast of great antiquity.
3. See a reason why it ought to be rejected, because it is an ancient devilish doctrine.
4. See one reason why it is that Satan is such a mortal enemy to the Bible, and to all who preach the gospel, because of that injunction, Mark xvi., 15, 16— "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned"
5. See whence it was that Satan exerted himself so much to convince our first parents that there was no hell, because the denunciation of the Almighty was true, and he was afraid that Adam and Eve would continue in the belief of it. Was there no truth in future punishment, or was it only a temporary evil, Satan would not be so busy in trying to convince men that there is none. It is his nature and element to lie. "When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it."—John viii., 44.
6. We infer that ministers should not be proud of their preaching. If they preach the true gospel, they only in substance repeat Christ's sermons. If they preach " Ye shall not surely die," they only make use of the devil's old notes that he delivered almost six thousand years ago.
7. It is probable that the doctrine of universal salva