A General Account of Man's Fall in Adam & The Remedy Provided in Christ
The following selection from The Gospel Sonnets by Ralph Erskine (1685-1752) makes for excellent family reading around Christmas time. Best served with eggnog, or hot cocoa.
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 men 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 offense
Fell from his blissful state of innocence.
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 wo,
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 Heaven's law fulfill?
Whose precepts high surmount his strength and skill.
Can filthy dross produce a golden beam?
Or poison'd springs a salutif’rous stream?
Can carnal minds, fierce enmity's wide maw,
Be duly subject to the divine law?
Nay, now its direful threatnings 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 threatned, threat must have their due.
Or souls that sin must die; as God is true.
Redemption Through Christ
THE second Adam, sov'reign Lord of all,
Did, by his Father's authorizing call,
From bosom of eternal love descend,
To save the guilty race that him offend;
To treat an everlasting peace with those,
Who were, and ever would have been his foes.
His errand, never-ending life to give
To them, whose malice would not let him live;
To make a match with rebels, and espouse
The brat which at his love her spite avows.
Himself he humbled, to depress her pride,
And make his mortal foe his loving bride.
But, ere there marriage can be solemniz’d,
All lets must be remov’d, all parties pleas’d.
Law-righteousness requir’d, must be procur’d,
Law-vengeance threatened, must be full endur’d,
Stern justice must have credit by the match,
Sweet mercy by the heart the bride must catch.
Poor Bankrupt! all her debt must first be paid,
Her former husband in the grave be laid:
Her present Lover must be at the cost,
To save and ransom to the uttermost.
If all these things this Suitor kind can do,
Then he may win her, and her blessing too.
Hard terms indeed! while death's the first demand:
But love is strong as death, to take the upper hand
To carry on the suit, and make it good,
Though at the dearest rate of wounds and blood.
The burden's heavy, but the back is broad,
The glorious Lover is the mighty God.
Kind bowels yearning in the eternal Son,
He left his Father's court, his heav’nly throne:
Aside he threw his most divine array,
And wrapt his Godhead in a veil of clay.
Angelic armies, who in glory crown'd,
With joyful harps his awful throne surround,
Down to the crystal frontier of the sky,
To see the Saviour born did eager fly;
And ever since behold with wonder fresh
Their Sov’reign and our Saviour wrapt in flesh.
Who in this garb did mighty love display,
Restoring what he never took away;
To God his glory, to the law its due,
To heav’n its honour, to the earth its hue;
To man a righteousness, divine, complete,
A royal robe, to suit the numptial rite.
He in her favours, whom he lov'd so well,
At once did purchase heav’n, and vanquish hell.
O! unexampled love! so vast, so strong,
So great, so high, so deep, so broad, so long!
Can finite thought this ocean huge explore,
Unconscious of a bottom or a shore?
His love admits no parallel; for why,
At one great draught of love he drank hell dry.
No drop of wrathful gall he left behind,
No dreg to witness that he was unkind.
The sword of awful justice pierc’d his side,
That mercy thence might gush upon the bride.