Friday, August 10, 2007

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 1 - Section 1

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 1
A general account of Man’s fall in ADAM, and the remedy provided in CHRIST; and a particular account of Man’s being naturally wedded to the law, as a covenant of works.


OLD Adam once a heav’n of pleasure found,
While he with perfect innocence was crowned;
His winged 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 subtile 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,
Fell from his blissful state of innocence. (1)
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 fulfil,
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 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 ingulph 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 due,
Or, souls that sin must die, (2) as God is true.

(1) Gen. iii 1-6
(2) Ezek. xviii, 4

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