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by its application of the word Serpent to the Tempter who brought Sin and Death into the world, hath referred us to the natural creation for the properties of the Serpent-kind : and from those properties every naturalist may learn what the Devil is, and what we have to fear from him, more accurately and effectually than any words can teach. What he finds in the natural Serpent he must apply to another invisible Ser. pent, who can think and reason and dispute the veracity of God; which the common Serpent never could. How came so fearful and cursed a creature into the works of God ? Certainly for the wisest end: that men might understand and avoid the enemy of their salvation. The world was made, as the Scriptures were written, for our learning; and unless the Serpent were found in it, there would be a blank in the creation, and we should have been to seek for some ideas, which are of the last importance to the mind of man..
Other ideas, nearly related, may indeed be collected froin the contrariety between light and darkness; with their figurative alliance to moral good and evil. The power of Satan hath the like effect on men's souls as darkness bath upon their bodies; and the Scripture calls it the power of darkness. If the enemies of God's religion are called the seed of the Serpent, in opposition to the sons of God; so are they also represented to us as children of darkness, in opposition to the children of light. What communion, saith St. Paul, hath light with darkness; what concord hath Christ with Belial ; or what part hath he that believeth with an Infidel? The ancient Persians, who were given to speculate as Philosophers on the principles of their theology, argued froin a course of Nature, that there are two contrary principles of good and evil in the world of Spirits; that there
is a malignant Power acting in opposition to the benign goodness of the Creator, as darkness, in the vicissitudes of day and night, holds divided empire with light. Which speculations, properly corrected, are agreeable to the imagery of the Scripture; in which the author of evil is called the power of darkness; and, in his capacity of a destroyer, is compared to lightning, which, like Lucifer, falls from heaven to do mischief upon earth.
V. Another doctrine of Revelation is the execution of a curse by the waters of a flood; which obligés us to examine how it agrees with the natural history of the earth. It was impossible to know that this catastrophe was universal, but by Revelation; but when known, it is confirmed as a fact by tlie same proofs of it occurring to us in every part of the known world. The curvatures, furrows, and channels, on the whole face of the earth, open to common observation, are so many marks and monuments of the forcible effects of descending waters. The relics, fragments, and bones of marine productions, every where found under the earth, shew that the sea covered the land, and that the present world, on which we now live, is the buryingground of a former, on which that curse was executed, which God pronounced at the beginning. The natural history of the earth, as bearing this testimony to the Flood of Noah, has been very troublesome to our Infidel-Philosophers; and the improbability and weakness of some theories, with the wild extravagance of others, advanced to disguise this plain fact, shew that its evidence is stubborn and untractable.
VI. The derivation of a principle of life from the death of Christ, and the remission of sin by the shedding of his innocent blood, are doctrines essential to the Gospel, and every way agreeable to the condition of man's natural life: for 'we live by the death of innocent animals, who lay down their lives for our sustenance, not for any fault of their own. Such creatures as are hurtful, and not fit to live, are not fit for us to eat. The act of killing clean beasts in sacrifice, and the sprinkling of their blood, and the feasting upon their flesh, had undoubtedly an intended correspondence with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the support of our spiritual life by a participation of his death. The whole institution was prophetical, and the Scriptures are copious in the application of it. And though the act of slaughtering innocent creatures is not now a religious act, as it used to be, the ra: tionale of it is still the same; and it will speak the same language to the end of the world; it will always be declaratory of the salvation of man by the death of an universal sacrifice. The insensible people who trade in the slaughter of innocent animals, and shed their blood by profession; and they who feed upon by daily custom, never think of this : but the universal practice of mankind speaks, without their understairding it, that which Caiaphas prophesied without knowing what he said, it is expedient that one man die, that the whole people perish not. It is expedient that the innocent should die to feed our bodies: let any man deny it if he can : and it is equally expedient, that Jesus Christ should die to feed our souls.
Some philosophers of antiquity, ignorant of the terins man is now upon with his Maker, refined upon the traditional rites of sacrifice and the priesthood, (which are nearly as ancient as the world) and reasoned themselves into an abhorrence of animal food. They exclaimed against the use of it, as barbarous, and unworthy of a rational creature : especially as the lot falls upon the most inoffensive of animals,
whose dispositions and services have a claim upon us.
VII. The resurrection of the body, which comes.
It is evident that man's body was made of the dust of the earth, because we see that it returns into earth again. Philosophy therefore may argue, that as God formed man's body of the dust at first, he can as easily restore and raise it from the same afterwards, That he will actually do this is promised to us in the Scripture ; and on that promise Nature is giving us a lecture every day of our lives. Many animals, after a torpid state, scarcely distinguishable from death recover the powers of life at the proper season by the influence of the sun: some after submersion in water during the whole winter. Some crawl for a time as belpless worms upon the earth, like ourselves; then they retire into a covering, which answers the end of a coffin, or a sepulchre, wherein they are invisibly transformed, and come forth in glorious array, with wings and painted plumes, more like the inhabitants of heaven, than such worms as they were in their former earthly state. This transformation is so striking and pleasant an emblem of the present, the intermedi
ate, and the glorified states of man, that people of the most remote antiquity, when they buried their dead, embalmed and inclosed them in an artificial covering, so figured and painted as to resemble the caterpillar, or silk-worm, in the intermediate state: and as Joseph was the first we read of that was embalmed in Egypt, where this manner prevailed, it was very probably of Hebrew original.
The vicissitudes of night and day instructs us farther on the same subject. The sun sets to rise again; the year dies away into the winter, and rises to verdue and beauty in the spring. Sleep is a temporary death from which we daily awake; insomuch that in many passages of the scripture, sleep and death are the same thing, and lie that rises from the dead is said to awake out of sleep*. The furrow of the field is a grave, out of which the seeds that are buried rise to a new and better state. Their death and burial, which seems to be their end, is the beginning of their life: It is not quickened except it die. The allusion to plants and seeds is very common in the scripture, to illustrate the present and future state of man : and if it reminds us, that all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field; it makes us amends, by assuring us, that our bones shall flourish as an herb, and that every secd shall have its own body.
VIII The destruction of the world by fire is the last doctrine I shall take occasion to speak of: which, though never unreasonable, and admitted even by the Heathens of old time, is now more apparent than ever, from the late improvements in experimental philosophy. Indeed, we may say, the world is already on fire: for as Sinai, with its smoke and flame, was a positive, so is every volcano a natural prelude to the
* See Daniel xii. 2. . ,