Genesis 3:2
The woman answered the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden,
Sermons
A Crafty QuestionH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
A Poisoned HonourW. Adamson.Genesis 3:1-6
A Serpent-Like TrickJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
A Talk About TemptationM. G. Pearse.Genesis 3:1-6
A Three-Fold TemptationH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
A Warning from Eve's FallBp. Babington.Genesis 3:1-6
Adam; Or, Human NatureA. Jukes.Genesis 3:1-6
After God Comes the DevilBp. Babington.Genesis 3:1-6
ApostasyH. Burder, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
But Why Did God Give Adam This LawWatson, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
Consciousness of the FallJ. Caird.Genesis 3:1-6
Consequences of the Fall, So Far as Respects AdamA. H. Strong, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Danger of the EyeAlleine.Genesis 3:1-6
DearthW. Adamson.Genesis 3:1-6
Deceitfulness of SinA. Maclaren, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Eastern Ideas Regarding the SerpentM. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Eve Parleying with the TempterH. Melvill, B. D.Genesis 3:1-6
God not the Author of SinH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
How Could God Justly Permit Satanic TemptationGenesis 3:1-6
Is Death a RealityS. A. Walker, B. A.Genesis 3:1-6
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Lessons from the Fall of ManThe Homiletic ReviewGenesis 3:1-6
Little Sins If not PreventedJ. Spencer.Genesis 3:1-6
Longing for the ForbiddenGenesis 3:1-6
Man FallenT. Guthrie, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Man's Enemy Makes His AppearanceH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Man's Moral ConflictThe Preacher's MonthlyGenesis 3:1-6
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
ObservationsGenesis 3:1-6
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
Original SinGenesis 3:1-6
Original State of ManW. L. Alexander, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Paradise Lost; Or, Man's FallW. S. Smith, B. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Probation, Temptation, and Fall of ManW. L. Alexander, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan Attacks the Weakest PointBp. Babington.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan's Character Shown by the First TemptationJ. McConnell.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan's CommentaryGenesis 3:1-6
Satan's Counter-AssertionDean Alford.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan's QuestionJ. Vaughan, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan's Subtlety in TemptingWatson, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
Satan's TemptationsDean Law.Genesis 3:1-6
Sin and DeathA. P. Foster, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Sin, a DeceiverGenesis 3:1-6
Stages to RuinHomilistGenesis 3:1-6
Temptation and FallD. N. Sheldon.Genesis 3:1-6
Temptation and Fall of ManJames Parsons, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
Temptation and Fall of ManJ. C. Gray.Genesis 3:1-6
Temptation of the First and of the Second ManDean Burgon.Genesis 3:1-6
Ten Sins in Adam's DisobedienceWatson, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
Tests Designed for the Strengthening of VirtueGenesis 3:1-6
The Allurements of the TemptationL. Bonnet.Genesis 3:1-6
The Devil's BaitBp. Babington.Genesis 3:1-6
The Devil's QuestionsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
The FallJ. Burns, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The FallM. Dods, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The Fall of ManE. Blencowe, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
The Fatal ChoiceThe Homiletic ReviewGenesis 3:1-6
The First Great TemptationJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
The First LieJ. Burns, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The First SinThe ProtoplastGenesis 3:1-6
The First SinJ. Ogle.Genesis 3:1-6
The First SinHomilistGenesis 3:1-6
The Great Danger of not Keeping Close to God's WordJ. Spencer.Genesis 3:1-6
The Husband Tempted Through the WifeWatson, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
The Moral Aspect of the SensesHomilistGenesis 3:1-6
The Nature of the Test to Which Adam's Allegiance was PutR. Wardlaw, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The Peril of CapacityJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The Process of TemptationE. Monro, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
The SerpentDean Law.Genesis 3:1-6
The Subtlety of the First TemptationR. S. Candlish, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The TemptationR. Wardlaw, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The TemptationL. Bonnet.Genesis 3:1-6
The Temptation, the Fall, and the PromiseP. B. Davis.Genesis 3:1-6
The Woman and the SerpentJ. A. Macdonald.Genesis 3:1-6
Treachery of SinW. Adamson.Genesis 3:1-6
Use of the EyeManton, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
The Moral Chaos Before the Moral RestorationR.A. Redford Genesis 3:1-7

I. WHO TEMPTS?

1. Not the mere serpent.

2. A higher power of evil.

3. This higher power a person.

4. The leader of the fallen angels.

II. WHY PERMITTED? Easy to see why moved; why permitted, a mystery. But we may note -

1. That the intercourse of mind with mind is a general law of nature. To exclude the devil, therefore, from gaining access to man might have involved as great a miracle as preventing one mind from influencing another.

2. That the good as well as the evil angels have access to us. Can we estimate their influence, or be sure that Adam's position or the world's would have been better if both had been excluded?

3. That possibly by this sin under temptation we were saved from a worse sin apart from temptation.

4. That God magnifies his grace and vindicates his power against the devil's in raising fallen man above his first place of creature-ship into that of sonship.

III. WHY EMPLOY THE SERPENT?

1. Because not permitted to assume a higher form - his masterpiece of craft, "an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14), or his masterpiece of power, a mighty prince (Matthew 4:1).

2. Because of all animals the serpent seemed the fittest for his purpose. - W.







Cursed is the ground for thy sake.
This was almost the first curse revealed to us as pronounced by God, and yet it is almost the first blessing.

I. AT FIRST SIGHT WE ARE NOT PREPARED TO ADMIT THAT LABOUR IS A BLESSING. We shrink from the misery of task work which must be got through when we are least fitted to carry it on; the very word "repose" suggests all that is most coveted by men. It was a true instinct which led the old mythologist to invent the fable of Sisyphus and his stone, and to see in that punishment an image of horrible torture. Labour which is only laborious is and always must be grievous to endure.

II. ON ALL THE SONS OF ADAM THERE IS AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF LABOUR IMPOSED. We may recognize the necessity and submit to it with gratitude, and then we find in it every hour a blessing; or we may rebel against it, and then we turn it as far as we can into a curse. The sweetness of leisure consists in the change from our ordinary employments, not in a cessation of all employment.

III. LYING SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE BLESSING OF LABOUR THERE IS ALSO A CURSE — "Thorns also and thistles," etc. Work is grievous and irksome when unfruitful — when, after much toil, there is nothing to show. But let us be sure that if the work is done for God's glory, and in His name, the fruit will spring up in His time.

(A. Jessopp, D. D.)

The ground is our first lesson book, Notice —

1. A man does not cultivate the land by waving his hand majestically over it. The land says, "If you want anything out of me you must work for it. I answer labour, I respond to industry, I reply to the importunity of toil." That is the great law of social progress.

2. The ground does not obey the dashing and angry passions of any man. The green field does not turn white, though you curse over it till you foam again at the mouth. We cannot compel nature to keep pace with our impatience; man cannot hasten the wheel of the seasons; he cannot drive nature out of its calm and solemn movement; his own fields keep him at bay.

3. Then I see God stooping and writing with His finger on the ground, and when He erects Himself and withdraws, behold the Bible He has written. "Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain"; "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." See the earth inscribed with terms like these, and learn from the land how to live.

4. Spiritual cultivation, like the culture of the land, cannot be hastened. You cannot extemporise moral greatness; it is a slow growth.

5. Spiritual cultivation is sometimes very hard. Circumstances are heavily against us; we are not placed in favourable localities, or under very gracious conditions. Let us be thankful to God if, though faint, we are still pursuing.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. The text suggests some of the mysteries by which we are surrounded. There is

(1)the universal fact of sin everywhere existing;

(2)the sorrow which is stamped upon the whole race;

(3)the toil that is a condition of humanity.

II. The text supplies a solution by which these mysteries are brought into reconciliation with right views of the nature and character of the Eternal. Out of man's evil and man's transgression God contrives blessing. Sorrow in itself is an apparent evil; as God manages it, it is the harbinger of joy. It was the curse, but it also brings the blessing. There is hardness and difficulty in toil, but in occupation God has given us enjoyment. It keeps the mind and heart in active and energetic power. Even the curse of sin becomes in God's hands a blessing. There is no brighter happiness for man than the sense of being forgiven.

(A. Boyd.)

The king is punished by a curse upon his kingdom in addition to the personal woe falling on himself, just as Pharaoh was cursed in the plagues inflicted on his people. The ground, out of which he was taken, is cursed on his account, as if all pertaining to him had become evil. It is not he that suffers on account of his connection with the soil, but it is the soil that suffers on account of its connection with him, affording proof that it is not from matter that evil flows into spirit, but that it is from spirit that evil flows into matter. That soil from which he had sprung, that soil which God had just been strewing with verdure and flowers, that soil whose fruitfulness had produced the tree whose beauty and desirableness had been the woman's beguilement and his own ruin, that soil must now be scourged and sterilized on his account; as if God had thus addressed him: "I can no longer trust thee with a fruitful soil, nor allow the blessing with which I have blessed the earth to abide upon it; thou art to remain here for a season, but it shall not be the same earth; in mercy I will still leave it such an earth as thou canst inherit, not a wilderness nor a chaos as at first, but still with enough of gloom and desolation and barrenness to remind thee of thy sin, to say to thee continually, O man, thou hast ruined the earth over which I had set thee as king."

1. The earth is to bring forth the thorn and the thistle. Whether these existed before we do not undertake to say, nor whether they are given here merely as the representatives of all noxious plants or weeds, nor whether the object of the curse, in so far as they were concerned, was to turn them into abortions, which they really are. Taking the words as they lie before us, we find that the essence of the curse Was the multiplication of these prickly abortions till they should become noxious to man and beast and herb of the field; mere nuisances on the face of the ground. Elsewhere in Scripture they are referred to as calamities. As the effects of judgments Job refers to them (Job 31:40), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 12:13). As the true offspring of a barren soil the apostle speaks of them (Hebrews 6:8). As injurious to all around our Lord Himself alludes to them (Matthew 13:7-22). And it is evident that all these passages connect themselves with the original curse, and are to be interpreted by a reference to it. They are tokens of God's original displeasure against man's sin, so that the sight of them should recall us to this awful scene in Eden, and make us feel how truly God hates sin, and how impossible it is for Him to change in His hatred of it.

2. Man is to eat the herb of the field. Originally, the fruit of the various trees was to have been man's food; the "herb" was for the lower creation, if not exclusively, at least chiefly. But now he is degraded. He is still, of course, to eat fruit, but in this he is to be restricted. Whether it were that, the earth being less productive in fruit, he must betake himself to inferior sustenance; or whether it might also be from a change in bodily constitution, requiring something else than fruit, we cannot say. The sentence is, "Thou shalt eat the herb of the field, not the pleasant fruits of paradise."

3. He is to eat in sorrow. There. was to be no glad feasting, but a bitter eating, or, if there might be feasting, it should be like Israel's, "with bitter herbs" — the sweet and the bitter mingling.

4. He is to eat in toil — to wring a stinted subsistence out of the reluctant earth with sore labour and weariness. He cannot live but in a way which reminds him of his primal sin. Each day he hears the original sentence ringing in his ears. And yet all this hard toil serves barely to sustain a "dying life; " and even that only for a little, until he return to the dust. This is the end of his earthly toil!

5. He is to die. Grace does not remit the whole penalty. It leaves a fragment behind it in pain, weakness, sickness, death, though at the same time it extracts blessing out of all these relics of the curse. Besides, in thus leaving men subject to death, it leaves open the door by which the great Deliverer was to go in and rob the spoiler of his prey. By death is death to be destroyed. Man must die! He came from the dust, and he must return to it.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Sketches of Sermons.
I. THE CRIME PROVED. The judge condemns the criminal's conduct in several particulars.

1. His listening and yielding to temptation.

2. His neglect of God's Word.

3. His open, positive transgression of a known law.

II. THE SENTENCE PRONOUNCED.

1. Deprivation of all the fruits and pleasures of Eden.

2. Toil.

3. Disappointment.

4. Sorrow.

5. Increasing infirmity.

6. Death.

7. Justice is tempered with mercy.Let the subject teach us —

1. A lesson of humility. We are the degenerate children of such a parent.

2. A lesson of caution.(1) Mark the process of falling. Satan presents some suitable object. We appear, desire, covet, throw off restraint, and transgress, in intention, and in fact.(2) Mark the danger of falling. Our first parents fell from their paradisiacal state, and by a small temptation. Wherefore, "watch," etc. (Matthew 26:41).(3) For, mark the consequences of falling. All the evils we feel or fear.

3. A lesson of encouragement. Respited, we may recover our Eden, by means of "the second Adam, the Lord from heaven." Contrast — the first involving himself and us in guilt, pollution, and misery — the second the reverse of this (Romans 5:12-21).

(Sketches of Sermons.)

I. THE CURSE, AS WELL AS THE BLESSING UPON ALL CREATURES, PROCEEDS FROM THE WILL AND DECREE OF GOD ALONE.

1. It can be no otherwise, seeing in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:17), and have their being (Acts 17:28).

2. And it is fit it should be so, that all men might fear before Him (Jeremiah 5:24), depend on Him (Jeremiah 14:22), and praise Him alone (Psalm 107:32-34).

3. And it is every way best for us, who know that God judgeth righteously (Psalm 67:4), and that those that fear Him shall want no good thing (Psalm 84:1).

II. IT IS OUR OWN SIN THAT BRINGS THE CURSE OF GOD UPON ALL THAT WE ENJOY.

1. God's mercies are over all His works (Psalm 145:9), and His hand in itself is not shortened (Isaiah 59:1), neither is there anything that He hates but sin, or for sin (Psalm 5:4, 5).

2. And it is fit that God should so show His detestation of sin, by manifesting His wrath every way against such as provoke Him thereby, as He did in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and upon His own land (Deuteronomy 29:23, 25).

III. THE GREATEST OF ALL CREATURES ARE UNDER GOD'S COMMAND

1. They are all creatures (Jeremiah 14:22), even the work of His hand (Job 34:19).

2. He could not otherwise be an absolute Lord over all (Psalm 103:19) if any creature were out of His command.

IV. THE CURSE OF GOD UPON THE CREATURES IS A PART OF MAN'S PUNISHMENT.

1. We have interest in them, so that their destruction is our loss.

2. Our subsistence is by them, so that to lose them, is to lose the means by which our lives should be supported.

V. MAN'S LIFE IN THIS WORLD IS A LIFE OF PAIN AND SORROW.

1. To make us the more sensible of sin, by our daily tasting the bitter fruits of it.

2. To move to a holy delight, and earnest seeking after things that are spiritual, the ways whereof are pleasant and the paths peace (Proverbs 3:17; Psalm 119:165).

VI. THE SHORT PLEASURE OF SIN DRAWS AFTER IT A LONG AND LASTING PUNISHMENT.

VII. MAN'S FOOD IS OUT OF THE EARTH.

(J. White, M. A.)

It is the law of nature that plants should be diffused as widely as possible wherever the circumstances are favourable for their growth and welfare. For this purpose they are provided with the most admirable contrivances to maintain their own existence, and to propagate the species. But man interferes with this law in his processes of gardening and horticulture. His object is to cultivate beautiful or useful plants within enclosures, from which all other plants are excluded, and where an artificial soil and climate have been prepared. He wishes to separate from the struggle of the elements, and from the competition of other species, certain kinds of flowers or vegetables which are good for food or pleasant to the eye. In this he is only partially successful, for into the plot of ground which he has set apart from the waste common of nature a large number of plants intrude; and with them he has to maintain a constant warfare. These plants are known by the common name of weeds, a term which, curious enough, is etymologically connected with Wodan or Odin, the great god of the northern mythology, to whose worship in former ages, in this country, our Wednesday, or Odinsday, was specially dedicated. Any plant may become a weed by being accidentally found in a situation where its presence is not desired; but true weeds form a peculiar and distinct class. They are at once recognized by their mean and ragged appearance; their stems and foliage being neither fleshy nor leathery, but of a soft, flaccid description, and by the absence in most of them of conspicuous or beautiful blossoms. A look of vagabondage seems to characterize most of the members of the order, which at once stamps them as belonging to a pariah class. In the vegetable kingdom they are what gipsies are in the human world, and the same mystery surrounds them which is connected with that remarkable race. Like the gipsies they are essentially intruders and foreigners; never the native children of the soil on which they flourish. They may have come from long or short distances, but they have always been translated. There is no country where they are not found, and everywhere they have to encounter the prejudices which the popular mind invariably entertains against foreigners. There is one peculiarity about weeds which is very remarkable, viz., that they only appear on ground which, either by cultivation or for some other purpose, has been disturbed by man. They are never found truly wild, in woods or hills, or uncultivated wastes far away from human dwellings. They never grow on virgin soil, where human beings bare never been. No weeds exist in those parts of the earth that are uninhabited, or where man is only a passing visitant. The Arctic and Antarctic regions are destitute of them; and above certain limits on mountain ranges they have no representatives. To every thoughtful mind the questions must occur, "Have the plants we call weeds always been weeds? If not, what is their native country? How did they come into connection with man, and into dependence upon his labours?" No satisfactory answer can be given to these questions. As a class there can be no doubt that weeds belong to the most recent flora of the globe. Their luxuriant and flaccid look indicates their modern origin; for the plants of the older geological ages are characterized by dry leathery leaves, and a general physiognomy like that of the existing flora of Australia. Indeed, the flora of Europe during the Eocene period bears a close resemblance to that of Australia at the present day; so that in paying a visit to our southern colony, we are transporting ourselves back to the far-off ages when our own country had a climate and vegetation almost identical. The flora of Australia is the oldest flora at present existing on our globe. Our weeds came upon the scene long subsequent to this Australian or Eocene vegetation. In our own country they form part of the Germanic flora which overspread our low grounds after the passing away of the last glacial epoch, driving before them to the mountain tops the Alpine and Arctic plants, suited to a severer climate, which previously had covered the whole of Europe. They came from Western Asia and Northern Africa. They made their appearance in company with the beautiful and fruitful flora that is specially associated with the arrival of man, and spread from the same region which is supposed to be the cradle of the human race. In this way they are co-related with the Scripture account of the fall of man. "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee," was the sentence pronounced by God upon man's sin. We are not to suppose from this circumstance that these noxious plants were specially created then and there for the express purpose of carrying out the punishment of man. They were previously in existence, though they may be said to belong very specially to the human epoch; but since that mournful event they have received a new significance, and are bound up with man in a new moral relation. Most of our weeds possess all the characteristics of a desert flora; special adaptations to a dry soil and arid climate. And the reason why they find a congenial home in our gardens and cultivated fields is because the soil of such places is made artificially like the natural soil of their native country. Our fields and gardens are divested of all unnecessary vegetation, and drained of all superfluous moisture, and thus are possessed of the dry, warm, exposed soil, to which the provisions for drought with which weeds are specially furnished are admirably adapted, and where in con. sequence they luxuriate and overcome other plants less specially endowed. They follow in the train of man, and show a remarkable predilection for his haunts, become domesticated under his care, not merely because of the abundance of the nitrogenous and calcareous substances to be found in the vicinity of human dwellings and in manured fields and gardens, but chiefly because he provides them with the dry soil and climate in which they can best grow. It is an essential qualification of a weed that it should grow and spread with great rapidity. For this purpose it is endowed with marvellous contrivances in the way of buds and seeds. A very large number of our weeds, such as the thistle, groundsel, dandelion, colts-foot, scabious, daisy, ragwort, are composite flowers. The apparently single blossom is in reality a colony of separate blossoms, compressed by the obliteration of their floral stems around one central axis. In most of our weeds the floral parts are small and inconspicuous. The reproductive act is so arranged as to economise material and to exhaust the vital force as little as possible, and the organs concerned in it are reduced to the simplest forms consistent with efficiency. Most of the species can be fertilized by the wind, which is always available, or by the help of insects that have a wide range of distribution and are abundant everywhere. In consequence of this floral economy, the vegetative system acquires a greater predominance in this class of plants than in almost any other, so that the life of the individual is carefully preserved even amid the most untoward conditions. A weed, by reason of the strength of its vegetative system, is able to stand extremes of heat and cold, and to recover from the roughest usage. It will hold on to life in circumstances which would prove fatal to most other plants; and in this way it can abide the most favourable time for the development of its blossoms and seeds. Nay, it can propagate itself as well without blossoms as with them. Many of our weeds form long creeping stems, giving off at every joint buds which will produce perfect plants, and greatly extend the area which they occupy. That weeds belong to the most recent and specialized flora of the world is evident from their wide distribution and wonderful powers of colonization. In our own country they number about two hundred and thirty, and constitute about a seventh part of our native flora. We are constantly receiving accessions from the continent, along with the seeds of our cultivated plants. In company with the wheat and barley that can be cultivated in India down to the tropic zone, because they can be sowed and reaped during the coldest quarter of the year, have been introduced a crowd of the common annual weeds of our country, such as the shepherd's purse, the chickweed, the spurge, and the corn-pimpernel, which also run through the cycle of their lives in the winter quarter. Half the weeds of American agriculture have been imported from Europe; and of the 2,100 flowering plants of the Northern United States, 320 are European. Australia and New Zealand have sent us no weeds, and America only a very few. The solution of this mystery, as Dr. Seemann clearly proves, is not to be found in any consideration of climate, soil, or circumstances. It is a question of race. The present flora of the United States and of Australia is older than the Germanic flora which now constitutes the principal vegetation of Europe. It is very similar to, if not absolutely identical with, that of Europe during the Miocene and Eocene epochs. America and Australia have not yet arrived at the degree of floral development to which Europe has attained; consequently plants coming to our country from Australia and America would not come as colonists, with a new part to play in it, but as survivors of an older flora whose cycle of existence had ages ago run out there. Our system of the rotation of crops is based upon the fact that the soil which has borne one kind of harvest will not produce the same next year, but requires another kind of crop to be grown on it. And Nature in her wilds carefully observes the same law. Whatever our weeds were in the original state, they are now like the corn which man sows in the same field with them, endowed with habits so long acquired that they will part with their life sooner than abandon them. The original wild plant of the corn — if there ever was such a thing, and this admits of grave doubts — from which our corn was developed, may have been able to propagate and extend itself freely independent of man; but we know that without man's agency, the corn, as it is now modified, would perish. It does not grow of its own accord, or by the natural dispersion and germination of its seed. Left to itself, it would quickly disappear and become extinct. The one condition of its permanency in the world, of its growth in quantities sufficient for man's food, is that it be sown by man in ground carefully prepared beforehand to receive it. The same rule would appear to hold good in regard to the weeds which, in spite of himself, he cultivates along with it, and whose persistent presence makes the cultivation of the soil so difficult to him. We know them only in an artificial condition as abnormal forms of original wild types; and as such as they are incapable of continuing themselves without man's help. Left to grow in soil that has reverted to its original wild condition, they would soon be overpowered by the surrounding vegetation, the grasses and mosses, and in a shorter or longer space of time they would inevitably disappear. I have seen many ruins of dwellings in upland glens from which the nettles and all the weeds that once grew in the field and garden plot have utterly vanished, leaving only a dense thicket of bracken, or a lovely smooth carpet of greensward, to indicate among the heather that man had once inhabited the place. We are bound, therefore, to believe that so long as man cultivates the ground, so long will these weeds make their appearance, and in striking correlation with the primeval curse, compel him in the sweat of his face to eat his bread. When he ceases to till the ground, they will cease to grow in it.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

The world was made for man, and man for God. The upper link gave way, and all that depended on it fell. Man rebelled, and carried away from its allegiance a subject world.

(W. Arnot.)

The harp of Eden, alas! is broken. Unstrung and mute an exiled race have hung it on the willows; and Ichabod stands written now in the furrows of man's guilty forehead, and on the wreck of his ruined estate. Some things remain unaffected by the blight of sin, as God made them for Himself; the flowers have lost neither their bloom nor fragrance; the rose smells as sweet as it did when bathed in the dews of paradise, and seas and seasons, obedient to their original impulse, roll on as of old to their Maker's glory. But from man, alas! how is the glory departed? Look at his body when the light of the eye is quenched, and the countenance is changed, and the noble form is festering in corruption — mouldering into the dust of death. Or, change still more hideous, look at the soul! The spirit of piety dead, the mind under a dark eclipse, hatred to God rankling in that once loving heart, it retains but some vestiges of its original grandeur, just enough, like the beautiful tracery and noble arches of a ruined pile, to make us feel what glory once was there, and now is gone.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

No man that takes a view of his own dark and blinded mind, his slow and dull apprehension, his uncertain staggering judgment, roving conjectures, feeble and mistaken reasonings about matters that concern him most; ill inclinations, propension to what is unlawful to him and destructive, aversion to his truest interests and best good, irresolution, drowsy sloth, exorbitant and ravenous appetites and desires, impotent and self-vexing passions, can think human nature, in him, is in its primitive integrity, and as pure as when it first issued from its high and most pure original.

(J. Howe.)

The two great systems of nature and revelation are sometimes supposed to clash — to be opposed to each other; as if the revealings of the one were inconsistent with the discoveries of the other; as if they were two volumes, of which the principles and details of one were opposed to the principles and details of the other. The truth of this matter seems to be, that revelation differs from nature only in this, that revelation pours a broader and a clearer light upon the mysteries of creation. When we look forth upon the face of nature in the dim and shadowy twilight of morning, and when again we look forth upon the same scene in the bright and unclouded splendour of noon, there is no actual change in the landscape; the mountains have not changed their place, the forests have not changed their trees, the rivers have not changed their course; the only difference is, that the splendour of noon has flung a brighter and a clearer light than the grey mists of the morning. We are too often met with high panegyrics upon the qualities and the powers of man, and we are told in every variety of language of the lofty virtues of man — of the dignity of human nature — of the towering intellect, the refined feeling, and the virtuous heart of man; and we are told of all this, as if his powers had never been impaired, or as if his intellect had never been shattered, or as if his virtues had never been blighted, or his heart been corrupted, or his feelings debased, and his whole nature become the wreck and ruin of what it once had been. The line of argument, along which we shall endeavour to conduct you, shall go to prove that this great principle of revelation is also a principle of nature; and that though it lies unexplained in the pages of natural religion, it is explained and accounted for in the pages of revealed religion. We shall consider the subject, first, in reference to the world, and then in reference to man.

1. And first we argue, that nature is ever presenting to us evidences of the Fall, and that those evidences discover themselves to us in the present aspect of our world. It is very true, that as the eye wanders throughout all the departments of nature, it can trace the evidences of the love and the benevolence of the great Creator. In the language of the apostle, "He gives rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." And not only this, but we find that the smallest flower of the field has all that is required for its existence and its loveliness, as much as the stateliest tree of the forest; and the minutest insect of creation has all that enables it to fulfil the ends of its being, as much as the mightiest and the noblest in the animal world. But in the midst of all this living and breathing evidence, he will discover evidences of an opposite character; he will discover evidences of the going forth of wrath — that some evil has befallen our world; and he will discover that the evidences of Divine benevolence are not more palpable than these evidences of Divine wrath. We allude not now to the poverty, the wretchedness, the helplessness, the diseases, the deaths, that press and crush the family of man; but we allude to those physical phenomena, that are everywhere discoverable throughout all the fields of creation. If there be lands where all is beauty and fertility, there are also lands whore all is waste and sterility. If there be climates where all is balmy and delicious and calm, there are also climates where all is darkened with clouds and disturbed by storms. There are wide regions of our globe, so enwrapped in the mantle of eternal snows, and so defended by vast icy barriers, that like the very battlements of nature, they resist the foot of man. There are wide regions of our globe, even in the most delicious climes, where the stateliest trees of the forest and the loveliest flowers of the field and the richest fruits of the ground grow spontaneously with a strange luxuriance, where yet at the same time the fatal vapours and the envenomed atmosphere preclude the presence of man, as effectually as the angel with the flaming sword precluded him at the gate of paradise. And while these characteristics are discernible throughout the face of creation, there are at the same time mighty and tremendous agents of evil, called into existence by the Creator and sent abroad into our world; agents more destructive than the angel of the Passover that slew the firstborn of Egypt; and more terrible than the angel of destruction that smote the host of Sennacherib. If the going forth of these angels from heaven is to be regarded as a going forth of wrath from the Creator, what shall we think of the spirit of the simeon, that from time to time has lifted the sands of the African deserts, and has borne them onward like the waves of the sea, till the stateliest cities of Egypt and the most gigantic architecture the world has ever seen, lie even to this hour buried deep, deep, within their bosom? What shall we think of the spirit of the volcano, pouring forth rivers of burning lava and clouds of smoking dust, enwrapping whole regions in terrific conflagration, and, as in Italy, beautiful Italy, burying cities with all their miserable inhabitants? What shall we think of the spirit of the earthquake by which whole districts have been wasted, mighty nations submerged beneath the waves, stately cities sunk into ruins, and whole continents "frighted from their propriety"? But where nature is thus silent, revelation speaks. Where the volume of nature closes, the volume of revelation opens. Nature reveals to us the fact that our world is a fallen and a ruined world; revelation gives the explanation of that fact: that in consequence of sin our world has fallen under the curse of its Creator, that it has been a bright and a beautiful and a happy world, but that in consequence of sin a curse was uttered, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life," and that from henceforth a darkening destiny has been enchained to our planet. Wrath has gone forth against it; and our once beautiful world has become a fallen world.

2. But, as we intimated at the commencement, this argument may be carried further, and may be applied to the moral condition of man, quite as conclusively as to his physical condition. Or perhaps, to speak more correctly, it may be applied to the present condition of man, quite as conclusively as to the present condition of the world in which he lives. The destiny of man is a destiny of trouble. The experience of every man justifies the statement of the patriarch, that "man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward." It is the belief of the heathen; it is the creed of the Christian; it is the record of the historian; it is the maxim of the philosopher; it is the song of the poet. We will not believe — we cannot believe, that a God of benevolence and love, a God who must delight Himself in the comforts and not in the sorrows, in the happiness and not in the miseries of His creatures, originally created man for so melancholy a doom. And the same remark will apply to his moral condition. There are in the heart of every man the workings of evil passions, the strugglings of carnal tendencies, the violence of feelings that are not good: licentiousness of thought, the constant resistance to the empire of holiness, the striving of the flesh against the spirit. There are the anger, the malice, the hatred, the revenge, the covetousness, the ambition, the wars, the bloodshed, that characterize the whole history of man, so that it is little else than a history of the wars and the bloodshed that ambition and pride and revenge and every foul and hateful passion have called into existence. We will not believe — we cannot believe — that a God of benevolence and love, a God of holiness and of peace, could have originally created man in this state, or planted in his heart unholy passions like these. This sad condition of man is a fact that may be read in the pages of natural religion; but the explanation of the fact, and the causes of this sad condition, are a mystery in natural religion. But it is here that revelation interposes and resolves the mystery, Natural religion, like the astrologers of Chaldea, could not read the mysterious handwriting on the wall: but revealed religion, like the prophet of the Lord, reads and interprets the writing. The words of the Creator, as addressed to Adam, were — "In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life"; and again — "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread"; and again, to the woman — "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children."

(M. H. Seymour, M. A.)

I. If this sentence was executed upon man and the earth, without all doubt it may at this day be distinguished; therefore let us inquire in the first place whether there are any signs of a "curse upon the ground"? Towards the latter end of the fifth chapter of Genesis we read, that when a son was born to Lamech, he called his name Noah, which signifies comfort, because he was to "comfort them concerning their work, and toil of their hands, because of the ground which the Lord had cursed." Lamech knew, therefore, that a curse had been pronounced upon the ground, for the transgression of Adam; and he knew also, either by tradition, or the spirit of prophecy, that it should take place more fully in the days of Noah, whose favour and acceptance with God should give comfort to men, and render more tolerable that toil and labour which should be the necessary consequence of this curse upon the ground; which, therefore, was brought upon the earth by the general deluge. When the wickedness and violence of the human race had wearied out the patience and long suffering of God, and obliged His justice to inflict the punishment which had been threatened, He declared in His revelation to Noah that He would destroy man with the earth. St. Peter also confirms the same, where he takes occasion to inform ungodly men, that the "world which then was, being overflowed with water, perished." Whence it appears that the flood should, and actually did, amount to a destruction of the earth, of which destruction and the manner of it, the earth in all parts has so many signs at this day, that a man endued with eyesight, understanding, and a very little experience, cannot choose but to see and acknowledge it.

II. A second consequence of the Fall, as it stands in the words of the text is, Sorrow to man in the eating of the fruit of the ground. And here it may be useful to observe how the punishment of man is suited to the nature of his crime. His first and great act of disobedience was eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree; and it was surely just and proper that he who had eaten in sin should thenceforth eat in sorrow. We are indeed upon terms with our Creator quite different from the lilies of the field, or the fowls of the air: they are now as He made them at first, but we are not so; and hence it comes to pass that labour and travel is a law of universal obligation, and that "If any man will not work neither should he eat."

III. The third part of the sentence pronounced upon man's disobedience, is the prevailing of thorns and thistles upon the ground. If the powers and properties of these two sorts of vegetables be well considered, it will soon appear how well they are fitted to propagate a curse, by increasing the trouble and labour we are obliged to bestow in the cultivation of the earth. For these are much more strong and fruitful than such herbs and grain as are of the greatest use; and they are more apt to disperse themselves abroad and overrun the ground. With respect to thistles in particular, we shall discover a very plain reason for this, if we compare their seeds with the seeds of wheat. For the grain of wheat ought to be lodged at some little depth in the earth, to which it cannot easily reach without human assistance. It can only be shed, and fall down from the ear upon the surface of the ground, where it would be exposed, and ready to be devoured by the birds of the air, or the vermin of the earth, or perhaps lie till it rotted and perished with rain and frost for want of being covered with earth. But the seeds of thistles presently strike down roots in the earth wherever they happen to light, and need no such care and assistance. Then again the grains of wheat are naked and heavy, and can fall only as a dead weight at the foot of the plant which bore them, without being able to stir any farther, and shift themselves to a place fit for their reception and growth. But the case is much otherwise with the seeds of thistles. These are small and light, and are furnished with a fine downy plume, which serves them as wings, by means of which they are borne up and wafted about from place to place by every breath of wind, till they are transplanted to every corner of the field where the parent thistle grew, insomuch that when this plant is ripe, and its seeds hanging loose and disposed to fall off, it is common to see large fields covered all over with them, after any little wind. Nor ought it to be passed over that there is a great difference in the multiplication of these two kinds of seed. Some sorts of thistles bear thirty, some fifty, and some upwards of a hundred heads, with a hundred (and in some kinds several hundred) seeds in each of the heads. And if a moderate reckoning be made, and we suppose all the seeds to take rightly, grow up and fructify, then one single plant would produce at the first crop above twenty thousand: which succeeding in like manner, would bring a second crop of several hundreds of millions; an increase so enormous as can hardly be imagined: and it is plain that a few crops more, if not hindered by some means, but carried regularly on, would in a very short time stock the whole globe of the earth in such a manner as scarcely to leave room for anything else. But some thistles have other ways of planting and spreading themselves, besides that of propagating by their seeds. The common way-thistle, as it is called, besides its innumerable seeds, all winged and prepared for flight, hath its roots spreading to great lengths, and sending up suckers or new plants on every side of it. In a little while these, if suffered to continue, send up others, and they more, without tale or end. So that by this method only, one plant will overrun a vast tract of land in a very short time, suppressing, stifling, and destroying all other good and useful herbage. Besides, it is not every soil that is fit for the nourishment of wheat, and scarcely any will produce it for more than two or three years together, without great expense being bestowed on its cultivation: whereas there is hardly any ground or soil whatsoever, high or low, hill, valley, or plain, where thistles will not take and flourish for ages together. Having said so much upon thistles, I may be shorter in my remarks upon thorns; the rather because a great deal of what has been offered concerning the former is as true of the latter; which grow in almost every kind of soil, running on and increasing of themselves, and endued with the same worthless nature and mischievous qualities. For a proof of this we need only look upon the bramble, which occurs everywhere, and throws itself about without measure. The berries it bears are innumerable, and each of them contains a large mass of seeds. The roots push forward under ground, and the branches and suckers running on to great lengths, trail upon the ground, and send down fresh roots out of their sides; by which means they are diffused about, and multiplied without bounds. But as to thorns, the chief example we have is in that species which is known by the name of the gorse or furze. This is the vilest and most mischievous shrub upon the face of the earth. It will let nothing thrive or prosper, or so much as grow near it. It is so beset with prickles, that it is hardly possible to approach it in any way without hurt: and so fruitful withal, that for almost half the year it is covered or rather loaded with flowers, all of which go off into pods, charged with seeds. It shoots forth stubborn roots far and near, from which other young plants are growing up: these send up others as fast as the mother plant, so that we need the less wonder to see this noxious thorn so plentifully abounding, and such large tracts of land wholly covered and overrun by it. Other thorns are of so hard and stubborn a nature as to render it exceedingly difficult, and always impracticable without great labour and expense and patience, ever wholly to extirpate and clear the ground of them. If these things are duly reflected upon, it must be allowed that the sentence upon Adam, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it, thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee," was effectually put in execution; and that not only upon him, but more especially upon us, his posterity to the end of the world. When we think of this curse upon the ground, we should also remember that it extends to our own heart, which, since the Fall, is by nature barren and unprofitable. It is a soil in which every ill weed will take root and spread itself. There the thorns of worldly care, and the thistles of worldly vanity, will grow and flourish. As the husbandman watches his land, so should the Christian search and examine his heart, that he may cast out of it all those unprofitable weeds and roots of bitterness which will naturally get possession of it. If this work is rightly performed, the soil will be ready for the good seed of the word of God, which will spring up and prosper under the influence of Divine grace, as the corn groweth by a blessing of rain and sunshine from the heaven above.

(W. Jones. M. A.)

Nature is a mirror in which we behold both the skill and character of the Divine Artificer; but the reflected image — owing to the peculiarity of the material, or of the angle of vision — is not always a true one. In every part of creation we find examples of wasted energy and frustrated design; foundations laid, but the building never completed; the skeleton formed, but never clothed with living flesh; an unceasing production of means that are never used, embryos that are never vivified, germs that are never developed. We cannot, however, in such things, measure the Divine proceedings by our human standards; for, taking a larger view of the subject, we find that the imperfection of particular parts is necessary for the perfection of the whole scheme, and all instances of failure are made to work together for the general good. It is to this tendency of nature to overflow its banks, to attempt more than she can execute, to begin more than she can finish, that we owe our own daily bread. For if the corn plant produced only a sufficient number of seeds barely to perpetuate the species, there would be no annual miracle of the multiplication of the loaves; and man, always at the point of starvation, could neither replenish and subdue the earth, nor accomplish any of the great purposes of his existence. Thorns are among the most striking examples of failure on the part of nature to reach an ideal perfection. They are not essential organs, perfect parts, but in every case altered or abortive structures. They are formed in two different ways. When the hairs that occur on the stem of a plant are enlarged and hardened, they form rigid opaque conical processes such as those of the rose and the bramble. The so-called thorns of these plants are not, however, true thorns, but prickles, for they have only a superficial origin, being produced by the epidermis only, and having no connection with the woody tissue. They may be easily separated from the stem, without leaving any mark or laceration behind. True thorns or spines, on the contrary, have a deeper origin and cannot be so removed. They are not compound hardened hairs, but abnormal conditions of buds and branches. A branch, owing to poverty of soil, or unfavourable circumstances, does not develop itself; it produces no twigs or leaves; it therefore assumes the spinous or thorny form, terminating in a more or less pointed extremity, as in the common hawthorn. In some cases, as in the sloe, we see the transformation going on at different stages; some branches bearing leaves on their lower portions and terminating in spines. A bud by some means or other becomes abortive; there is a deficiency of nutriment to stimulate its growth; it does not develop into blossom and fruit. Its growing point, therefore, is hardened; its scaly envelopes are consolidated into woody fibre, and the whole bud becomes a sharp thorn. Leaves are also occasionally arrested in their development and changed into thorns, as in the stipules of Robinia, of the common barberry, and of several species of acacia. The middle nerve of the leaf in a few instances absorbs to itself all the parenchyma or green cellular substance, and therefore hardens into a thorn; and in the holly all the veins of the leaves become spiny. In all these cases thorns are not necessary, but accidental appendages, growths arrested and transformed by unfavourable circumstances; and nature, by the law of compensation, converts them into means of defence to the plants on which they are produced — not very effective defences in most instances, but still analogous to the spines of the hedgehog and the quills of the porcupine, and typical of the plan according to which nature supplies some method of preservation to every living thing that is liable to be injured. By cultivation many thorny plants may be deprived of their spines. The apple, the pear, and the plum tree, in a wild state are thickly covered with thorns; but when reared in the shelter of the garden, and stimulated by all the elements most favourable for their full development, they lose these thorns, which become changed into leafy branches, and blossoming and fruit-bearing buds. In this way man acquires the rights assigned to him by God, and nature yields to him the pledges of his sovereignty, and reaches her own ideal of beauty and perfection by his means. But when, on the other hand, he ceases to dress and keep the garden, nature regains her former supremacy, and brings back the cultivated plants to a wilder and more disordered condition than at first. A garden abandoned to neglect, owing to the absence or the carelessness of the owner, presents a drearier spectacle than the untamed wilderness; everything bursting out into rank luxuriance; stems originally smooth covered with prickles, and buds that would have burst into blossoms changed into thorns. It is a remarkable circumstance that whenever man cultivates nature, and then abandons her to her own unaided energies, the result is far worse than if he had never attempted to improve her at all. No country in the world, now that it has been so long let out of cultivation, has such a variety and abundance of thorny plants, as the once-favoured heritage of God's people, the land flowing with milk and honey. Travellers call the Holy Land "a land of thorns." This tendency of nature to produce a greater variety of thorny plants in ground let out of cultivation, as illustrated by the present vegetation of Palestine, throws considerable light upon the curse pronounced upon Adam when he had sinned: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee." Many individuals believe that we have in this curse the origin of thorns and thistles — that they were previously altogether unknown in the economy of nature. It is customary to picture Eden as a paradise of immaculate loveliness, in which everything was perfect, and all the objects of nature harmonized with the holiness and happiness of our first parents. The ground yielded only beautiful flowers and fruitful trees — every plant reached the highest ideal of form, colour, and usefulness of which it was capable. Preachers and poets in all ages have made the most of this beautiful conception. It is not, however, Scripture or scientific truth, but human fancy. Nowhere in the singularly measured and reticent account given in Genesis of man's first home do we find anything, if rightly interpreted, that encourages us to form such an ideal picture of it. It was admirably adapted to man's condition, but it was not in all respects ideally perfect. The vegetation that came fresh from God's hand, and bore the impress of His seal that it was all very good, was created for death and reproduction; for it was called into being as "the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree bearing fruit, whose seed was in itself." We must remember, too, that it was before and not after the Fall that Adam was put into the garden to "dress and keep it." The very fact that such a process of dressing and keeping was necessary, indicates in the clearest manner that nature was not at first ideally perfect. The skill and toil of man called in, presuppose that there were luxuriant growths to be pruned, tendencies of vegetation to be checked or stimulated, weeds to be extirpated, tender flowers to be trained and nursed, and fruits to be more richly developed. The primeval blessing consisted in replenishing the earth and subduing it; and in no other way could man subdue the earth than by cultivating it. But the process of cultivation of necessity implies the existence of thorns and weeds. For in cultivating any spot we have to contend against the great law of nature which spreads every plant as widely as its constitution will permit. What then, we may ask, is implied in the language of the curse, "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee"? The Hebrew form of the curse implies, not that a new thing should happen, but that an old thing should be intensified and exhibited in new relations. Just as the rainbow, which was formerly a mere natural phenomenon, became after the flood the symbol of the great world covenant; just as death, which during all the long ages of geology had been a mere phase of life, the termination of existence, became after the Fall the most bitter and poisonous fruit of sin: so thorns, which in the innocent Eden were the effects of a law of vegetation, became significant intimations of man's deteriorated condition. It is in relation to man, solely, that we are to look at the curse; for though the production of briers and thorn-bearing plants may add to man's labour and distress, it supplies food and enjoyment for multitudes of inferior creatures, and especially birds and insects. Man, in Eden, was placed in the most favourable circumstances. It was a garden specially prepared by God Himself for his habitation, and stocked with all that he could reasonably require. It was to be a pattern after which his own efforts in improving the world were to be modelled — a coign of vantage, a select and blessed centre, from which he was by degrees to subdue the wild prodigality of nature, and make of the earth an extended paradise. And, therefore, though the native tendencies of vegetation were not altogether eradicated, they were so far restrained that the dressing and keeping of the garden furnished him with healthful employment for all his powers of body and mind, and conferred upon him the dignity of developing the perfection, which potentially, though not actually, existed in nature, and thus becoming a fellow worker with God. But when excluded from Eden, he had to encounter, with powers greatly weakened by sin, the full, merciless force of nature's untamed energies; energies, too, excited into greater opposition against him by his own efforts to subdue them. For, as I have already said, the very process of cultivation, while it removes the thorns and briers of the soil, will, if it be given up, produce a greater variety and luxuriance of thorns and thistles than the ground originally produced. The very fertility imparted to the soil would, if allowed to nourish its native vegetation, result in a greater rankness of useless growth. And therefore the tiller of the ground must never relax his efforts. I believe that the thorns and briers thus introduced in connection with the human epoch, but before the Fall, were anticipative consequences, prophetic symbols of that Fall. We err greatly, if we suppose that sin came into the world unexpectedly — produced a sudden shock and dislocation throughout nature, and took God as it were by surprise — that the atonement was a Divine after thought to remedy a defect in God's creative foresight and natural law. He who sees the end from the beginning, knew that such a mournful moral lapse would happen — that Creation would fall with its king and high priest, and had therefore made preparations for it, not only, in the plans of heaven, but also in the objects and arrangements of earth. There are many things in the scheme of nature which have a reference to the fact of sin before it became a fact; which remind us unmistakeably that God, in fitting up this world to be the habitation of a moral being who should fall through sin, and be restored through suffering, had filled it with types and symbols of that fall and that restoration. When God said to Adam, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee," He acted according to a plan uniformly pursued by Him in all His subsequent dispensations and dealings with men; by which in gracious condescension to our two-fold nature, and to the carnal and spiritual classes of mankind, He associated the natural with the spiritual, gave the outward sign of the inward spiritual truth. He set the field of nature with types of degeneracy and arrested growth, which should symbolize to man the consequences upon his own nature of his own sin. What then are the thorns, looking at them in this typical aspect, produced by the sinful, accursed soil of man's heart and life?

1. Labour is one of the thorns of the curse. "All things," says the wise man, "are full of labour." Without it life cannot be maintained. Unremitting labour from day to day and from year to year — except in the case of a few races into whose lap nature pours, almost unsolicited, her prodigal stores, and who therefore continue children in body and mind all their lives — is the condition upon which we receive our daily bread. Much of this labour is indeed healthy. In work alone is health and life; and it is for work that God has created faculties. But how much of it, nevertheless, is terrible drudgery, effectually hindering the development of the higher faculties of the mind and soul, wearisome effort, vanity, and vexation of spirit! How much of failure is there in it, of disproportion between desires and results! How much of it is like rolling the fabled stone of Sisyphus up the steep hill only to roll down again immediately — like weaving ropes of sand! How often does the heart despair amid the unprofitableness of all its labour under the sun! We plough our fields and sow our seed; but instead of a bountiful harvest to reward us, too often comes up a crop of thorns and thistles, to wound the toiling hand and pierce the aching brow.

2. Then there is the thorn of pain — the darkest mystery of life. Some maintain that pain exists by necessity, that it has its root in the essential order of the world. It is the thorn that guards the rose of pleasure — the sting that protects the honey of life. But ask any martyr to physical suffering if that explanation satisfies him. Why, if the purpose of pain is a purely benevolent one, should it be so excessive? Why should it rend and rack the frame with agony? Why should it last so long? Methinks, if pain were meant merely to warn us of the presence of evil, and guard us against it, that a much less degree and a shorter duration of it would suffice. The Bible, and the Bible alone, tells us the cause and the origin of it. It tells us that it is nothing else than a witness for sin — the thorn which man's body, weakened and palsied by sin, produces. Man feels in his body the physical consequences of the death which his soul has died. He has the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, that he may be reminded continually of his sin and mortality, and be induced to walk softly all the days of his life.

3. Then there is the thorn of sorrow. Every branch of the human tree may be arrested and transformed by some casualty into a thorn of sorrow. The staff of friendship upon which we lean may break and pierce the hand. The bud of love which we cherish in our heart, and feed with the life blood of our affections, may be blighted by the chill of death, and become a thorn to wound us grievously. That civilization which has lessened physical troubles, has rendered us more susceptible to mental ones; and side by side with its manifold sources of enjoyment, are opened up manifold sources of suffering. And why is all this? Why is man, so highly cultivated, the possessor of such vast resources of science and art, still born to trouble as the sparks fly upward? There is no possible way of accounting for it save by the primeval curse: "In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."

4. And lastly, as the climax of all life's evils, is death, the prospect and the endurance of it, from both of which our whole nature, originally made in the image of God, and destined to live forever, revolts with the utmost abhorrence. Such are the thorns which man's nature, under the withering, distorting curse of sin, produces. Cursed is the ground within, as well as the ground without, for man's sake; and in labour, in pain, in sorrow, and in death, does he eat of its fruit. From all these thorns Jesus came to deliver us. The second Adam in the poverty of His condition has recovered for us all that the first Adam in the plenitude of his blessings lost. The Roman soldiers platted a crown of thorns and put it upon the head of Jesus; but they little knew the significance of the act. Upon the august brow of man's Surety and Substitute was thus placed in symbol, what was done in spiritual reality, a chaplet woven of those very thorns which the ground, cursed for man's sake, produced. None of these thorns grew in the sacred soil of Jesus' heart. But He who knew no sin was made sin for us. He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. He could, no doubt, by the exercise of His almighty power, remove the thorns of man's life. He who created the world by a word, had only to command, and it should be done. But not in this way could the necessities of the case be met. It was no mere arbitrary power that called the thorns into existence; it was justice and judgment: and, therefore, mere arbitrary power could not eradicate them; it required mercy and truth. And mercy and truth could be reconciled with justice and judgment only by the obedience and sacrifice of the Son of God. Jesus had, therefore, to wear the thorns which man's sin had developed, in order that man might enjoy the peaceful fruits of righteousness which Christ's atonement had produced. And what is the result? By wearing these thorns He has blunted them, plucked them out of our path, out of our heart, out of our life. By enduring them He conquered them. The crown of pain became the crown of triumph; and the submission to ignominy and suffering became the assertion and establishment of a sovereignty over every form of suffering. Evil is now a vanquished power. Every woe bears upon it the inscription "overcome." He bore the thorny crown of labour, and labour is now a sacred thing, a precious discipline, a merciful education. It is the lowest step of the ladder by which man ascends the Edenic height from which he fell. He wore the thorny crown of pain, and pain is now robbed of the element that exasperates our nature against it. By His own example He teaches us that we must be made perfect through suffering; and knowing this, we do not feel pain to be less, but we feel a strength and a patience which enable us to rise superior to it. As the Prince of sufferers, He wore the thorny crown of sorrow, and He has made, in the experience of His afflicted ones, that abortive thorn to produce the blossom of holiness and the fruit of righteousness. Sorrow is no more to the Christian the curse of Adam, but the cross of Christ. It is the crown and badge of his royal dignity, the proof of Divine sonship. And, lastly, He wore the thorny crown of death; and therefore He says, "If a man keep My sayings, he shall not see death." He has indeed to pass through the state, but the bitterness of death for him is past. He has only to finish his course with joy; to fall asleep in Jesus; to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

"If my horse, if my ox, if my dog, do not do as I want them to do," says the angry man, "I make them," and then with his blood boiling hot he goes out into the fields and he can do nothing! The ground says, "If you want to do anything with me you must do it with hopeful patience; I am a school in which men learn the meaning of patient industry, patient hopefulness. I never answer the anger of a fool or the passion of a demented man. I rest." We cannot compel nature to keep pace with our impatience; man cannot hasten the wheel of the seasons; man cannot drive nature out of its calm and solemn movement; his own fields keep him at bay. He would like to get on faster, faster — it would please him to have three wheat harvests every year, it would delight him to have an orchard stripping on the first day of every month. He makes his dog go out when he likes — his own trees put out their branches without him and mock his fury. Nature says, "I must have my long holiday"; nature says, "I must have my long, long sleep." Without recreation and rest, man's life would not be solidly and productively developed; he may be lashed and scourged and overdriven and maddened, but broad, massive, enduring growth he never can realize unless he operates upon the law of steady slowness. Such is the great lesson of nature. We sometimes think we could improve the arrangements of Providence in this matter of the ground. A man standing in his wheat field is apt to feel that it would be an exceedingly admirable arrangement if he could have another crop of wheat within the year. He thinks it could be managed: he takes up the roots out of the earth and he says, "This will never do; why, I have lost my year herein — now I will command the ground to bring forth another crop," and this agricultural Canute, having waved his hand over the fields, is answered with silence. That must be your law of progress. There is the very great temptation to hasten to be rich. I see a man in yonder corner, not half so able as I am, never had half the education I have had, and by a lucky swing of the hand he makes ten thousand pounds, and I am labouring at my mill, or at my counter, or in my field, and am getting very little — and very slowly. I look in the other corner and see exactly such another man, and he, too, by a lucky twist of the hand, makes ten thousand a year; and I never make one, by long, patient, steady work. I know what I will do; I'll put off this old labourer's coat, and buy a new fine one, and go and join these men and do as they do, and I will have a hundred thousand pounds in a month, and horses and carriages and estates, and I will not go at this slow snail pace any longer — why should I? I go — and I fail, as I deserve to do. Society never could be built upon the action of such men as have now been described. They may be doing nothing dishonourable, they may be acting in a very proper way, there are no laws that have not exceptions attached to them — I broadly acknowledge the honourableness of many exceptions to this law of land like slowness of cultivation and growth, but the solid everlasting law of human life is labour, patience, expenditure, hopefulness, little to little, a step at a time, line upon line, and if you trifle with that law you will bring yourself into a state of intellectual unhealthiness, into a condition of moral exaggeration, and you will labour upon wrong principles, and reach, by rapid strides, unhappy conclusions.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

So it is in spiritual cultivation — you cannot grow a character in a week. There are some long thin stalks that you can buy in a garden market for about a shilling a dozen, and you put up these, and say, "Do grow, if you please; do get up, and do broaden yourselves and make something like a garden about us," and the long thin stalks, spindle shanks, look at you, and cannot be hastened, though you mock them with their leanness, and scourge them with your unruly tongue. Look at those grand old cedars and oaks and wide-spreading chestnuts. Why are they so noble? Because they are so old. They have been rocked by a hundred wintry nurses, blessed by a thousand summer visitants, and they express the result of the long processes. They have told their tale to fifty winters, caught the blessing of fifty summers, waved musically in the storm, guested the birds of the air, and all the while have been striking their roots deeper and deeper, farther and farther into the rich soil. So must it be with human character; you cannot extemporise moral greatness, it is a slow growth. Money cannot take the place of time; time is an element in the development and sublimising of character; time stands alone and cannot be compounded for by all the wealth in all the gold mines of creation. This spiritual cultivation not only cannot be hastened, but sometimes it is very hard. As a general rule, indeed, it is very difficult; it is not easy to grow in grace. Some of us live too near the smoke ever to be very great trees, or even very fruitful bushes. Circumstances are heavily against us; we are not placed in favourable localities or under very gracious conditions. The house is small, the income is little, the children are many and noisy, the demands upon time and attention and patience are incessant, health is not very good and cheerful, the temperament is a little despondent and very susceptible to injurious influences, and how to grow in Christ Jesus under such circumstances as these, the Saviour Himself only knows. Be thankful to God, therefore, that the bruised reed is not broken, that though you are faint, still you are pursuing, that though you are very weak in the limb and cannot run hard in this uphill race, your eyes are fixed in the right quarter; and the fixing and sparkling of your eye has a meaning which God's heart knows well.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. THORNS AND THISTLES, AND ALL UNPROFITABLE WEEDS, ARE THE EFFECT OF GOD'S CURSE UPON MAN FOR SIN.

1. Seeing all creatures are His servants, as David calls them (Psalm 119:91), He can bring them up, and plant them where He pleaseth, who doth whatsoever He will in heaven and earth (Psalm 135:6).

2. Neither can God in respect to His own honour, do less injustice than to withhold His blessing from the creatures, that should be for our service, as we withhold from Him our service of obedience, which we owe Him by our covenant.

II. AS WE ARE MORE OR LESS SERVICEABLE UNTO GOD, SO WE MAY EXPECT THAT THE CREATURE SHALL BE MORE OR LESS SERVICEABLE UNTO US.

1. God's blessing upon the creatures, is that only by which they are made useful unto us. Now God in justice can do no less than recompense all men according to their deeds (Isaiah 59:17-18; Psalm 62:12), and that not only in that great day of judgment, but even at present, and in outward things, that men may see and acknowledge it, as Psalm 58:11.

2. Neither is there a means more effectual to prevail with men in general, to walk in a course of obedience, than when they find all the creatures against them in a course of rebellion.

III. GOD MAKES GOOD HIS PROMISES, BY WHICH HE HATH ENGAGED HIMSELF UNTO US, THOUGH WE FAIL IN OUR COVENANT BY WHICH WE ARE ENGAGED UNTO HIM. See Psalm 78:37, 38, and Psalms 89:32,33,34; 2 Timothy 2:13. Reason —

1. God's promises are founded upon His own goodness and truth which cannot fail (Psalm 119:89, 90, 160).

2. God knew beforehand what we are, even before He engaged Himself unto us (see Psalm 103:13, 14).

3. And if He should take advantage of every forfeiture, He must necessarily undo His children, who trespass daily against Him.

4. And hath therefore given His Son Christ to take away our sins; if we hold fast the covenant, and do not wickedly depart from it though we fail many ways (1 John 2:1, 2).

IV. THOUGH GOD WHEN HE PARDONS OUR SIN, RESTORES US HIS BLESSINGS WHICH WE FORFEITED THEREBY, YET WE ENJOY THEM WITH SOME DIMINUTION AND ABATEMENT.

(J. White, M. A.)

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.

I. THE NECESSITY OF TOIL IS AT FIRST CONNECTED WITH TRANSGRESSION. Like death, the child of sin. Yet there is blessing in toil to him who can get up into the higher regions, and see how out of the wry extremity of human pain and endurance God can bring forth fruits which shall be rich and fair throughout eternity.

II. CONSIDER WHAT IS THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF THIS ORDINANCE OF TOIL.

1. Toil is ordained to restore man to a true and living relation with the whole system of things around him. On this sentence of labour God bases all His culture of our spirits; by this He keeps alive the desire and the hope of deliverance.

2. Toil is ordained to draw forth the full unfolding of the whole power and possibility of man's being, with a view to the system of things before him, the world of his eternal citizenship, his perfect and developed life. Be sure that it is the last strain that drags out the most precious fibre of faculty, or trains the organs to the keenest perception, the most complete expansion, the most perfect preparation for the higher work and joy of life.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

I. LOOK AT THE HOPELESSNESS OF MEN'S LABOUR ON THE EARTH.

1. It cannot revoke the sentence of death.

2. It is degrading because of its necessarily sordid aims and occupations.

3. It is itself a living, lingering death.

II. THINE OF THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF THIS SORROW, SUFFERING, AND HOPELESSNESS.

1. To convince men of the fruitlessness of the life he had chosen.

2. To show him his need of the mercy of God, and prepare him to receive it.

(St. J. A. Frere.)

I. MAN'S EMPLOYMENT IN THIS LIFE IS IN WEARISOME AND PAINFUL LABOURS.

1. The curse that is laid upon the earth for sin, by which without hard labour it yields no fruits for the sustaining of man's life.

2. The Lord hath so appointed it for man's good.

(1)To humble him by leaving him that remembrance of sin.

(2)To make him long for heaven (Romans 8:22, 23).

(3)To preserve the body in health (see Ecclesiastes 5:12), and to keep the mind in frame (2 Thessalonians 2:11), which unless it be exercised in useful and profitable things, is filled with vain and evil thoughts.First, this reproves all idle slothful persons living without callings, or idle in their callings, or in unprofitable callings. Secondly, and should stir us up to diligence in such employments as we are called unto.

1. In obedience to God's command.

2. And as therein serving God, and not men (Ephesians 6:7).

3. And being profitable (Proverbs 14:23) to ourselves (Proverbs 10:4) and others (Proverbs 21:5).

4. And thereby procuring us a just title to what we possess (2 Thessalonians 3:12). Only —(1) Labour that which is good (Ephesians 4:28).(2) And with a desire to be profitable to community (Psalm 112:5, 9; 1 Timothy 6:18).(3) In a way of justice (1 Thessalonians 4:6).(4) Depending on God for His blessing on our labours, which only makes them prosperous (Psalm 127:2). Thirdly, long for heaven, where we shall cease from all our labours (Revelation 14:13).

II. THERE IS PROFIT IN ALL THE DUTIES WHICH GOD ENJOINS US.

1. God who is in Himself all-sufficient and perfectly blessed, neither needs, nor can be profited by any creature.

2. Neither is it for His honour that His service should be unprofitable, as wicked men unjustly slander Him (Job 21:15).

3. Neither could His servants have otherwise any encouragement to go on in His service with cheerfulness, which God requires (Deuteronomy 28:47) and delights in (2 Corinthians 9:7).

III. WHATSOEVER WE UNDERTAKE IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S COMMANDMENT SHALL NOT WANT EFFECT.

1. That God is able to give success, and by His blessing to prosper men's endeavours, no man can deny.

2. That it concerns Him in point of honour to prosper that which He commands, is as clear as the former.

3. It is needful to be so, lest otherwise men should be discouraged in His service, if they should labour therein without bringing anything to effect.

IV. GOD'S SANCTIONS ARE CERTAIN, AS WELL OF JUDGMENT AS OF MERCY.

1. Both the threats of judgment, as well as the promises of mercy, are founded on the same grounds of God's truth, and immutability, and power.

2. And have the same scope, the honouring of God in the manifestation as well of His justice as of His mercy, giving to every man according to his deeds (see Psalm 58:11; Isaiah 59:18, 19).

V. THOUGH GOD HATH FREED HIS CHILDREN FROM ETERNAL DEATH, YET HE HATH LEFT THEM AS WELL AS OTHERS, UNDER THE SENTENCE OF TEMPORAL DEATH.

1. That by it they might be put in mind of sin that brought death upon them (Romans 5:12).

2. They have no harm by death, which is at present but a sleep, wherein they rest from their labours (Isaiah 53:2), and which severs them not from Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:14), through whom it is sanctified to them (see 1 Corinthians 15:55), and is made an entrance into life (Revelation 14:13), and hurts not the body, which shall be raised up in glory (1 Corinthians 15:42, 43).

VI. MEN'S BODIES ARE BASE EVERY WAY, BOTH IN THEIR ORIGINAL, IN THEIR PRESENT CONDITION, AND IN THEIR DISSOLUTION.

1. To humble us (Genesis 18:27).

2. To magnify God's mercy, in abasing Himself to look on such vile wretches (see Psalm 113:6, 7, 8), to give His Son for them, to advance dust and ashes to such a glorious condition, as the apostle describes (Corinthians 1 Corinthians 15:42,43,49).

3. To move us to long for heaven (see 2 Corinthians 5:1, 2).

VII. THE DISPOSING OF MAN'S LIFE IS IN GOD'S HAND. Which God challengeth to Himself (Deuteronomy 32:39). David acknowledgeth (Psalm 31:15). Daniel testifies to Belshazzar (Daniel 5:23), and is clearly manifested by all experience (Psalm 104:29); so that it is not in the power of men to cut it off at their pleasure (1 Kings 19; Daniel 3:27, and Daniel 6:22), though God use them to that end sometimes as His executioners (Psalm 17:13, 14).

VIII. THOUGH DEATH BE CERTAIN TO ALL MEN, YET THE TIME OF DEATH IS UNCERTAIN.

1. That men might not be hardened in sin, as usually they are when judgment is deferred (Ecclesiastes 8:11), but walk in fear, as being not assured of life for one moment of an hour.

2. To be assured of the term of life would not profit us any way.

IX. THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD ARE JUST AND EQUAL, ALL OF THEM IN ALL THINGS.

1. He cannot wrong His own creatures, no more than the potter can the clay; nay, much less.

2. His nature will not suffer Him to do otherwise; He that is God must necessarily do good (Psalm 119:68); out of the Lord's mouth proceed not good and evil (Lamentations 3:38).

3. Nor the respect to His own honour, magnified as well in His justice (Psalm 64:8, 9), as in His mercy and truth.

4. It would otherwise discourage His own servants (see Matthew 25:24, 25), as the opinion of God's favouring of the wicked and afflicting His own servants, had almost discouraged David (Psalm 73:13, 14).

(J. White, M. A.)

I. The universal necessity of labour. The earth no longer produces fruit independently of labour.

II. The fact, asserted in the text, that labour is a curse. It is part of our punishment for the Fall that it should be so.

III. The manner in which we may lighten this curse, and cause it to be borne. We may not escape from it; but it may be lightened by —

1. Religion — personal, practical, and real.

2. The cultivation of knowledge.

3. The maintenance of good health.

4. The practice of economy.

(J. Maskell.)

Then come the penal clauses, and it is wonderful how the curse is tempered with mercy, so much so indeed that it is difficult to tell whether there is not more blessing than cursing in the sentence. The seed of the woman is to be mighty enough to crush the serpent; and the ground is to be difficult of tillage for man's sake. Hard agriculture is a blessing. To get harvests for nothing would be a pitiless curse indeed. To be sentenced to "hard labour" is really a blessing to great criminals; it breaks in upon the moodiness that would become despair; it taxes invention; it keeps the blood moving; it rouses energy. Many a man has been made by the very hardness of his task. But terrible are the words — "unto dust shalt thou return." According to these words it is plainly stated that man was to be exactly what he was before he was made at all — he was to be dead dust, by reason of his sin. Whether any way of escape can be found out remains to be seen. The law is plain; whether mercy can modify it will be revealed as we proceed in the wondrous story. Perhaps there may yet be made a Man within a man, a Spirit within a body, a Son within a slave. That would be glorious, surely! Night has fallen upon the guilty pair, but in the night there are stars, large, bright, like tender eyes shining through the darkness — perhaps these stars will lead on to a manger, a Child, a Saviour!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

The curse in labour is the excess of it: labour itself is enjoyment. You will find that the horse feels it enjoyment to put forth its strength; and so man felt it enjoyment to put forth his energies in rearing the flowers that God had planted in the midst of Eden. The curse is not labour, but the excess of labour. It is a very absurd notion that prevails, that labour is a sort of mean thing: it is a most honourable thing; it was a feature of Adam in his innocent and Eden state; and the poorest labourer is just as honourable as the greatest noble, if he be a Christian. We must not estimate men as we do the cinnamon tree, the whole of whose value is in its bark, but by the heart that beats beneath, and the intellect that thinks, and the life that shines out in obedience to the will of God.

(J. Cunningham, D. D.)

Man is condemned to eat his bread in the sweater his brow. He is doomed to procure it with labour and fatigue. But what would he have become, had he not been subjected to that salutary labour, which distracts his thoughts from himself, occupies his mind, mortifies his passions, and puts a certain restraint upon the corruption which dwells within him? A prey to his own reflections, master of his own life, and burdened with the weight of his days, he would have become the sport of his passions, and have plunged into every species of iniquity which a corrupt imagination could have invented. The punishment of sin, to a certain extent, deprives him of the power and opportunity of doing evil, in spite of himself, and sometimes becomes, in the hands of God, the means of bringing him to salvation. And what dissatisfaction, what weariness, what an insupportable feeling of emptiness must continually have attended an idle and useless existence! On the contrary, what a source of enjoyment and satisfaction, what a means of developing and perfecting his faculties does he now find in a life consecrated to useful labour! Blessed be God! Blessed be God for the thunders of His justice! Blessed be God for His curse denounced against sin!

(L. Bonnet.)

Turner, the great painter, was once asked the secret of his success. He replied, "I have no secret but hard work."

Dionysius the tyrant, at an entertainment given to him by the Lacedaemonians, expressed some disgust at their black broth. "No wonder," said one of them, "for it wants seasoning." "What seasoning?" asked the tyrant. "Labour," replied the citizen, "joined with hunger and thirst."

When we read the lives of distinguished men in any department, we find them almost always celebrated for the amount of labour they could perform. Demosthenes, Julius Caesar, Henry of France, Lord Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, Franklin, Washington, Napoleon, different as they were in their intellectual and moral qualities, were all renowned as hard workers. We read hove many days they could support the fatigues of a march; how early they rose; how late they watched; how many hours they spent in the field, in the cabinet, in the court; how many secretaries they kept employed; in short, how hard they worked.

(Everett.)

Homiletic Magazine.
The conception of labour as the creative intention, or "end" of human nature, is a comparatively late one, due to revelation or to philosophic reflection upon an already lengthened experience. And the feelings of persons born in these later ages of the world are not to be taken as an infallible guide as to what may have been the primitive instinct, the motive that impelled to human activity and invention. Carlyle, for instance, in a letter to his mother, when he was at the commencement of his career (1821), asks the striking question, "Why do we fret and murmur and toil, and consume ourselves for objects so transient and frail? Is it that the soul, living here as in her prison house, strives after something boundless like herself, and finding it nowhere, still renews the search? Surely we are fearfully and wonderfully made!" Now, as the process of idealization in respect of the aims of labour is closely connected with the sense of its influence upon temporal well-being, we cannot be far wrong in concluding that it is largely due to the experience of the advantages it secures. Work is the most direct and certain avenue to the satisfaction of bodily wants, to the acquisition of wealth, and to the social consideration and general influence that attend the possession of wealth. Upon the industrial energy of its people a city or a nation in the main builds its prosperity and its political power. Another source of dignity and consideration consists in the tendency labour reveals to enlarge the scope and the possibilities of life. In this respect it meets and fosters the growing, expanding faculties of our nature. To the young it opens up many a vista for vague longings and ambitions; and the great centres of industry are invested with a romantic, indefinite fascination, because of the careers they hold forth. Not only the legitimacy, but the social consideration of trades, professions, and occupations, is determined by their perceived tendency to promote civilization. Were it not for this criterion the secondary products of human skill and effort would go to the wall. So much of their value, their worth, is relative only to the circumstances and culture of their owners, that it would otherwise be all but impossible to appraise them. When the day's task is seen to be a Divine appointment (Psalm 104:23) equally with birth and death, then shall a man rejoice in it, and labour on "as in the great Taskmaster's eye," looking diligently the meanwhile for the message it may enshrine, the glimpse of higher things it is sure to give, and waiting patiently for the last, the sure reward. In the great book manifold histories and teachings set forth for us the ideals of labour, and the commonest occupation is seen to have some spiritual significance. The diligence and faith of the husbandman, the daring quest of the miner (Job 28), the far venture of the mariner, the thoroughness of the builder, the care and compassion of the shepherd, are all given in illustration of the qualities and duties of our heavenly service. But not until that service itself is, according to our gifts and adaptation, revealed as our individual vocation, is the idealization of labour perfected."That is a new day, the dawn of a new life to the boy, when he has taken himself out of the routine of the child, and resolved to be something in lessons, or play, or conduct; and the thrill with which the young man puts his hand on his earnest life work tingles yet along the very nerves of age. It makes us almost a giant to feel the birth throe of a living purpose. The lioness reproached because she gave but one at a birth, replied, 'Yes, but that a lion.' And the one lion purpose born to a man, to grow into the one thing of life, is a birth to be proud of and never forgotten. After it we are never the same. It has lifted out of old conditions, limitations; it has put a new spirit in us, as the new inspiration towards a broader life, the quick play of whose pulses, vibrating through the whole man, impels us to thought and deed....It is a proud, a solemn, a sublime moment that sees the soul register its purpose and write it as with imperishable letters, 'This one thing I do, come weal, come woe, come ban of man or shock of time, come sorrow and distress and loss, though I stand alone, here I stand, this I do'; and the life of slow, earnest, arduous toil that follows partakes of the grandeur of the birth."

(Homiletic Magazine.)

Look into the country fields, there you see toiling at the plough and scythe; look into the waters, there you see tugging at oars and cables; look into the city, there you see a throng of cares, and hear sorrowful complaints of bad times and the decay of trade; look into studies, and there you see paleness and infirmities, and fixed eyes; look into the court, and there are defeated hopes, envyings, underminings, and tedious attendance. All things are full of labour, and labour is full of sorrow; and these two are inseparably joined with the miserable life of man.

(Timothy Rogers.)

In some respects manifestly made for a sphere higher than he fills, he appears to us like a creature of the air which a cruel hand has stripped of its silken wings. How painfully he resembles this hapless object which has just fallen on the pages of a book that we read by the candle on an autumn evening! It retains the wish, but has lost the power, to fly. Allured by the taper's glare, it has brushed the flame, and, dropping with a heavy fall, now crawls wingless across the leaf, and seeks the finger of mercy to end its misery. Compare man with any of the other creatures, and how directly we come to the conclusion that he is not, nor can be, the same creature with which God crowned the glorious work of creation.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

No man in his senses will venture to assert that man is today just as man originally was. He is a dismantled fane, a broken shrine, still lingering about him some gleams of the departed glory sufficient to give an idea of what he once was, and probably left as faint prophecy of what he will again be. But notwithstanding this, man is a changed, and fallen, and degenerate creature. Nothing we know explains this seemingly inexplicable phenomenon, except the Word of God, which tells us that man sinned, and fell, and has become what we now find him. The gold, in the language of a prophet, is become dim, and the crown is fallen from his head. He has exchanged the beautiful, the fertile, the happy Eden which earth once was, for the desert and the bleak and blasted condition in which we now find it. He must now water it with the tears of his weeping eyes, and fertilize it with the sweat of his aching brow, in order to gather bread from it. This was a penal and just retribution, and yet it embosomed the hope of an ultimate and sure deliverance.

(Dr. Cumming.)

If you should see a house with its gable ends in ruins, with its broken pillars lying in heaped-up confusion on the ground, half covered up with trailing weeds and moss, you would not hesitate to say, "This building has suffered damage at some time; it was not like this when it came from the hand of the builder." I say this of man. His is not in a normal condition.

(Hepworth.)

We are inclined to believe that it was not wholly in anger and in righteous severity that God made the cursing of the ground the punishment of Adam. We think it will not be difficult to show that the Almighty was consulting for the good of His creatures when He thus made labour their inevitable lot. We need not limit our remarks to the single case of agriculture; for we may safely affirm that there is nothing which is worth man's attainment which he can attain without labour.

I. Now there is, perhaps, an universal consent upon one proposition — that idleness is the fruitful source of every kind of vice; and it follows from this that the placing it in a man's power to be idle — supplying him, that is, with the means of subsistence without extracting from him any labour — is simply to expose him to the greatest possible peril, and almost ensuring his moral degeneracy. We know that there are fine and frequent exceptions to this statement, and that many whose circumstances preclude all necessity of toiling for a livelihood carve out for them. selves paths of honourable industry, and are as assiduous in labour as if compelled to it by their wants. There is evidently a repressing power in abundance, and a stimulating power in penury; the one tending to produce dwarfishness of intellect and mental feebleness, the other to elicit every energy and intellectual greatness. We will not say that the battle for subsistence has not borne hard on genius, and kept down the loftiness of its aspirings; but we are assured that the cases are of immeasurably more frequent occurrence in which the man has been indebted to the straitness of his circumstances for the expansion of his mental powers. I wish no son of mine to be exempt from the sentence, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." And the family which we regard as left in the best condition when death removes its head is, not the family for whom there is a fine landed estate or an ample funded property, but the family which has been thoroughly educated in the principles of religion, and trained to habits of piety and industry, and in which there is just as much wealth as may preserve from want those members who cannot labour for themselves, and start the others in professions which open a broad field for unwearied diligence. We would yet further observe, before quitting this portion of our subject, that after all God did not so much remove fruitfulness from the soil as make the development of that fruitfulness dependent on industry. The earth has yielded sufficiency for its ever-multiplying population, as though the power of supply grew with the demand; nor has it only yielded a bare sufficiency, but has been so generous in its productions, that one man by his tillage may raise bread for hundreds. This is amongst the most beautiful and wonderful of the arrangements of Providence. Why can one amongst us be a clergyman, a second a lawyer, a third a merchant, a fourth a tradesman? Only because, notwithstanding the curse, there is still such fertility in the ground, that more corn is produced than suffices for those by whom the ground is cultivated. The whole advance of civilization is dependent on a power in the earth of furnishing more food than those who till it can consume. A people who are always on the border of starvation must be manifestly a people always on the border of barbarism; and just as manifestly a people must be always on the border of starvation if every individual can only wrench from the ground enough for himself. Thus, when we come to examine into and trace the actual facts of the case, the mercy of the dispensation exceeds immeasurably the judgement.

II. We propose, in the second place, to examine WHETHER THERE BE ANY INTIMATION IN SCRIPTURE THAT THE SENTENCE ON ADAM WAS DESIGNED TO BREATHE MERCY AS WELL AS JUDGMENT. We are disposed to agree with those who consider that the revelation of the great scheme of redemption was contemporaneous with human transgression. We believe that, as soon as man fell, notices were graciously given of a deliverance to be effected in the fulness of time. It is hardly to be supposed that Adam would be left in ignorance of what he was so much concerned to know; and the early institution of sacrifices seem sufficient to show that he was taught a religion adapted to his circumstances. But the question now before us is, whether any intimations of redemption were contained in the sentence under review, and whether our common father, as he listened to the words which declared the earth cursed for his sake, might have gathered consolation from the disastrous announcement. There is one reason why we think this probable, though we may not be able to give distinct proof. Our reason is drawn from the prophecy which Lamech uttered on the birth of his son Noah: "This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." And therefore did he call his son Noah, which signifies rest, to mark that he connected him with deliverance and respite from that curse which sin had brought on the ground. But in what way was Noah thus connected? How could Noah comfort Lamech in reference to the ground which God had cursed? Some suppose the reference to be to instruments of agriculture which Noah would invent after the flood, and which would much diminish human labour; but this could hardly be said to be a comfort to Lamech, who died before the flood: and we may fairly doubt whether a prediction, having reference only to the invention of a few tools, would have been recorded for the instruction of all after-generations. But Noah, as the builder of the ark, and the raiser of the new world, when the old had pertained in the deluge, was eminently a type of Christ Jesus, in whose Church alone is safety, and at whose bidding new heavens and a new earth will succeed to those scathed by the baptism of fire. And as an illustrious type of the Redeemer, though we knew not in what other capacity, Noah might console Lamech and his cotemporaries; for the restoration after the deluge, in which they had no personal interest, might be a figure to them of the restitution of all things, when the curse was to be finally removed, and those who had rode out the deluge receive an everlasting benediction. Thus it would seem highly probable, from the tenour of Lamech's prediction, that he had been made acquainted with the respects in which his son Noah would typify Christ, and that therefore he had been taught to regard the curse on the ground as only temporary, imposed for wise ends, till the manifestation of the Redeemer, under whose sceptre "the desert should rejoice and blossom as the rose." And if so much were revealed to Lamech, it cannot be an over-bold supposition that the same information was imparted to Adam. Thus may our first parent, compelled to till the earth on which rested the curse of its Creator, have known that there were blessings in store, and that, though he and his children must dig the ground in the sweat of their face, there would fall on it sweat "like great drops of blood," having virtue to remove the oppressive malediction. It must have been bitter for him to hear of the thorn and the thistle; but he may have learnt how thorns would be woven into a crown, and placed round the forehead of One who should be as the lost tree of life to a dying creation. The curse upon the ground may have been regarded by him as a perpetual memorial of the fatal transgression and the promised salvation, reminding him of the sterility of his own heart, and what toil it would cost the Redeemer to reclaim that heart, and make it bring forth the fruits of righteousness; telling him while pursuing his daily task what internal husbandry was needful, and whose arm alone could break up the fallow ground. And thus Adam may have been comforted, as Lamech was comforted, by the Noah who was to bring rest to wearied humanity; and it may have been in hope as well as in contrition, in thankfulness as well as in sorrow, that he carried with him this sentence on his banishment from paradise — "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.

Sketches of Sermons.
I. THE FRAILTY OF OUR NATURE.

1. Its origin. However glorious our Maker, however exquisite the human body, God made that body of the dust of the earth.

2. Its liability to injury. No sooner born than fierce diseases wait to attack us. If not destroyed — injured — accidents. All the elements attack us.

3. Its tendency to dissolution. Behold the ravages of time. Human life has its spring, summer, autumn, and winter (Psalm 103:14, 15; Psalm 90:5, 6; Psalm 39:4, 5).

II. THE CERTAINTY OF OUR END.

1. We are born to die. Our first breath is so much of nature exhausted. The first hour we live is an approach to death.

2. The perpetual exit of mortals confirms it.

3. God hath decreed it.

4. Learn rightly to estimate life.

(Sketches of Sermons.)

I. MAN'S ORIGIN.

1. How wonderful.

2. How humbling.

II. MAN'S DOOM.

1. Inevitable.

2. Just.

3. Partial.

4. Temporary.

(W. Wythe.)

I. Men know not that they shall die, even though they confess it with their lips almost daily. If we consider what death is, we see that men who know its approach will act in all things as in the fear of it. There is no more startling paradox in the wonders of our nature than this, that men in general are thoughtless about death. When our own turn comes, and there is no escape, then, for the first time, we really believe in death.

II. Death is a fearful thing, because of the great change that it implies in all our being. Life is that power by which we act, and think, and love, and intend, and hope. And suppose that all our energies have been wasted on things that cannot follow us into the grave, then how can we conceive of any life at all beyond this? When we know that we must die, we feel about for something in us that shall not perish, some thread of continuity to knit our present and future life into one; and if we have never lived for God, never realized the difference between treasures of earth and treasures of heaven, we find nothing that shall assure us of that other life. We start back in horror from a grave so dark and so profound.

III. If these two terrors were all, some at least would not fear to die, would even court death as a repose. But there is yet another terror. Death means judgment. To die is to meet God. You tremble because you stand before a Judge of infinite power, whose wrath no man can resist; before a Judge of infinite wisdom, who shall call back your acts out of the distant past and lay bare the secret thoughts of your spirit.

IV. Accept the salvation purchased for you with Christ's passion; then death cannot come suddenly upon you, for the thought of it will have sobered all your days. The day of account will still be terrible, but the belief that you are reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus will sustain you.

(Archbishop Thomson.)

The words do plainly show God's offence and displeasure upon occasion of Adam's miscarriage; and are in themselves partly declaratory and convictive, partly minatory and instructive.

1. They are declaratory and convictive. What! thou that art but dust, that so lately received thy being from God, not to listen to Him, but to follow thy own will, and rebel against the law of thy Sovereign? So they are declaratory and convictive.

2. They are minatory, and consequently instructive. For when God threatens, His meaning is, that we should repent, and turn to Him (Jeremiah 18:7). But to come to the words them. selves, "Dust thou art." Of this I shall give you an account in two particulars.

1. The meanness of it. For dust is a thing of little or no perfection, nor of any esteem, account, and value. Dust we are, every day sweeping away, as the refuse, as that of which there is no use. Dust, the ultimate term of all corruption and putrefaction. Dust — you cannot resolve a thing into anything of less entity and being. Yet all of man is not here to be understood, but only his worser part.

2. "Dust thou art," which respects the weakness of this bodily estate. For dust can make no resistance. It may offend us, but it is of itself so light and empty that it is scattered up and down of every wind, as it is said (Psalm 18:42). Who can defend himself against the arrow that flieth by day, or the pestilence that walketh in darkness, or the plague that destroyeth by noonday? Neither is this all, but we have a principle that tends to corruption and putrefaction within us. To which also let us add the violence that we are exposed to from abroad, either by the contagion of others or from the force and violence of those that can overpower us. For we are so weak, that if any man despise God and the laws, he may soon be master of our lives. For all that they can do is but to inflict punishment upon the transgressor. But that will make us no satisfaction nor restitution. When we are assaulted by any sickness, then we are sensible of this our weakness; and we cry out with Job, "What is my strength, the strength of a stone, or my flesh of brass" (Job 21:23). Though, when our bones are full of marrow, we put the thoughts of sickness far from us, yet so it often falleth out that "One dieth in his full strength, being in all ease and prosperity," as Job speaketh (Job 21:23). Furthermore, what are we when bodily pain approach? So weak and frail are we, that we are not able to hold up our heads; and. if to all this we shall have the sense of guilt upon our consciences, our condition will be intolerable.Now for application.

1. It is a ground of humility. If it be so, that "Dust we are, and unto dust we must return," it is fit that we know it so to be; and that upon three accounts.

(1)That we be not proud and conceited.

(2)That we do not trust to ourselves or any fellow creatures whatsoever.

(3)That we may take the best course we can to make a supply.

2. It is matter of satisfaction to us to know that we are but dust; and that lies here, that God doth not look for much from us, but accordingly — not more than He did at first make us. He knows that we were finite and fallible; and therefore, as the Psalmist saith, God "considers our frame, He remembereth that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14), and makes allowance accordingly.

3. It is matter of great thankfulness to God that He doth so much consider such worms as we are; that He hath regard to us, that are but dust; and that He hath such patience with us, who are so inconsiderable, that He might bring us to repentance; and that He doth graciously accept from us any motion towards Him, or any good purpose, and that He is so ready to promote it.

4. This will give us an account of the folly and madness of those men who neglect themselves. We are dust. If there be not the remedy of culture and education to tame the wildness and exorbitancy of man, he will grow savage, wild, and ungovernable, unless the established government of reason shall be set up in his soul. Wherefore, let our great care and daily employment be to refine our spirits, by entertaining the principles of religion; and to inform our understandings, and to regulate our lives, by holding ourselves constantly to the measures of nature, reason, and religion.

(B. Whichcote, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. WHY MAN WAS TO HAVE A BRIEF EMBODIED LIFE. How was this arrangement likely to affect his ultimate spiritual well-being?

1. Man's earthly life is his probation. period. The opportunity of choice exists while soul and body are joined, but no longer. Death is the beginning of destiny.

2. A probation-period, to be just, satisfactory, merciful, must —

(1)Show the true nature and fruits of the objects to be chosen;

(2)bring out the true character and intentions of the individual choosing.

3. The body is a valuable agent in the accomplishment of this design.

(1)It brings out the nature of the objects to be chosen.

(2)It compels man to a religious decision.

II. WHY MAN, AFTER HAVING SPENT HIS PROBATION PERIOD IN THE BODY, HAD TO SUFFER PHYSICAL DEATH.

1. Death in relation to the saved —

(1)Delivers the soul from many sinful habits.

(2)Delivers the land from a fruitful nurse of sin.

(3)Introduces the soul to higher enjoyments.

2. Death in relation to the lost. A wicked spirit disembodied seems the most miserable, pitiable thing in God's universe; like a man suddenly expelled from a brilliant and warm room, to shiver naked in the cold and darkness of a winter night — a night, too, that shall know no dawn, and to the fierce blast of which no stupor can ever render the wretched outcast insensible!

(Homilist.)

Sketches of Sermons.
I. THE FRAILTY OF OUR NATURE. This may be inferred from —

1. Its origin: dust.

2. Its liability to injury.

3. Its tendency to dissolution.

II. THE CERTAINTY OF OUR END.

1. We are born to die.

2. The perpetual exit of mortals confirms this.

3. God has decreed and declared it.

III. THE GREAT BUSINESS OF LIFE.

1. To know and serve God.

2. To seek and obtain salvation.

3. We should always be living in reference to death and eternity.

(Sketches of Sermons.)

Dust may be raised for a little while into a tiny cloud, and may seem considerable while held up by the wind that raises it; but when the force of that is spent, it falls again, and returns to the earth out of which it was raised. Such a thing is man; man is but a parcel of dust, and must return to his earth. Thus, as Pascal exclaims, what a chimera is man! What a confused chaos! And after death, of his body it may be said that it is the gold setting left after the extraction of the diamond which it held — a setting, alas! which soon gives cause in its putrescence for the apostrophe: How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! Yet "there is hope in thine end," O Christian gold, however dimmed. There is a "resurgam" for thy dust, O child of God!

(W. Adamson.)

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