The following is the first of Ralph Erskine's sonnet following the preface. I could not go past it for days. Reading and reading again the following words. So much he says in so little space. And so beautifully he says it. And the imagination is engaged, the heart, the mind - O' God may such sublime truth possess me!
Please bear with me, my own ryhme,
Then Erskine below, Read him once,
Read him a second time,
Do you his words and his sense divine?
What truths in these lines can your heart see?
Federal Headship, Covenant of works, Man in his purity?
And original ability?
The Fall, Depravity, resultant inability?
Read along below and with me do you see?
The FALL of ADAM.
OLD Adam once a heav’n of pleasure found,
While he with perfect innocence was crown’d;
His wing’d affections to his God could move
In raptures of desire, and strains of love.
Man standing spotless, pure, and innocent,
Could well the law of works with works content;
Though then, (nor since), it could demand no less
Than personal and perfect righteousness:
These unto sinless man were easy terms,
Though now beyond the reach of wither’d arms.
The legal cov’nant then upon the field,
Perfection sought, man could perfection yield
Rich had he, and his progeny remain’d,
Had he primeval innocence maintain’d:
His life had been a rest without annoy,
A scene of bliss, a paradise of joy.
But subtle Satan, in the serpent hid,
Proposing fair the fruit that God forbid,
Man soon seduc’d by hell’s alluring art,
Did, disobedient, from the rule depart,
Devour’d the bait, and by his bold offence
Prostrate, he lost his God, his life, his crown,
From all his glory tumbled headlong down;
Plung’d in a deep abyss of sin and woe,
Where, void of heart to will, or hand to do;
For’s own relief he can’t command a thought,
The total sum of what he can is nought.
He’s able only now t’ increase his thrall;
He can destroy himself, and this is all.
But can the hellish brat Heav’n’s law fulfill,
Whose precepts high surmount his strength and skill?
Can filthy dross produce a golden beam?
Can carnal minds, fierce enmity’s wide maw,
Be duly subject to the divine law?
Nay, now its direfull threat’nings must take place
On all the disobedient human race,
Who do by guilt Omnipotence provoke,
Obnoxious stand to his uplifted stroke.
They must engulf themselves in endless woes,
Who to the living God are deadly foes;
Who natively his holy will gainsay,
Must to his awful justice fall a prey.
In vain do mankind now expect, in vain
By legal deeds immortal life to gain:
Nay, death is threaten’d, threats must have their dueOr souls that sin must die, as God is true. Eze 18.4
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