« AnteriorContinuar »
'tution, with the law thereof, in the naked innocency, and unblushing simplicity of the first man and woman, while they abode in the garden of Eden. This was the happy condition of our first parents. . Though they were naked they were not ashamed, for they had hitherto contracted no guilt ; their conscience was an unspotted tablet, no depraved affections having invaded their chaste souls; for before sin entered, all things were honest and .comely.
But the blissful state of this happy pair was but of short continuance; for the Serpent, * the chief of the fallen angels, envying the happiness of man, who hitherto retained and enjoyed that state of innocence and bliss, which he by ambition had forfeited and lost, contrived to seduce him from his obedience, and draw him into transgression, that he might become a companion in his punishment. In order to which he first attacks the woman, as the weaker vessel, by whom he hoped more easily to prevail on the man. His diabolical project succeeded; for he no sooner accosted her, but he gained his point. With apparent indifference he betrays her into an eager pursuit of her ruin. “ Indeed, (saith he,) hath “ God commanded you not to eat of every tree of the “ garden ?” “Nay, (repiies the woman) it is but one “ tree that is forbidden us; for we may eat of the fruit of
every tree in the garden, except of the fruit of the tree “ which is in the midst of the garden; for God hath said, " Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye “ die.” God's word was positive, - Thou shalt surely “ die;"† but the woman in repeating it, renders it only
* Serpent. A natural serpent is deemed a creature of peculiar cunning-proverbially wise, Matt. x. 16. But this serpent was the vehicle employed by the Devil, who is called, Rev. xii. 9. " the old serpent”--the deceiver.” The power of speech might be supernaturally allowed on this occasion, and might be pretended to have been acquired by the use of the forbidden tree. It is remarkable that the Serpent was always held sacred among the heathen, and worshipped by many of them: and thus Satan triumphed among them in that creature whereby he ruined man.
The death threatened, included a deprivation of that holy and happy life of soul as well as body, in the image and favour of God, which,
doubtful, and in doubting God's threatening, she seemed to yield. The Serpent finding her staggering, pursues his advantage, and encourages her with an assurance that she should not die ; “ for (said he,) God knows, that in " the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and
ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil. This inflamed the desire and ambition of the woman, for the fruit was not only tempting to the eye, and grateful to the palate, but desirable for its instructive quality of making one wise. On which, forgetting the prohibition, and dreadful consequences attending it, her curiosity hurries her on to destruction :—She eats of the fruit; and her husband, prevailed upon by the fascinating persuasions of his beautiful consort, forgetful of his obligations to his God, and fondly determined to share with her in the consequences of her conduct, rashly partakes of the interdicted tree. No sooner had they eaten of the baleful fruit, than their eyes were opened; but alas! it was to perceive their own nakedness and misery. They had indeed acquired knowledge, but it was a knowledge, arising from sad experience, that the serpent had betrayed them both, and drawn them from the good which they knew before, into the evil which they knew not. This dear-bought knowledge brought upon them at once both guilt and shame. * Moses had before observed, that Adam and Eve were naked, and were not ashamed before sin was committed they were innocent and free from passions, but now they began to feel the disorderly emotions of concupiscence; they were ashamed to see themselves naked, and being put to the poor shifts of art to conceal their new-discovered nakedness, they made themselves aprons to cover them. * And now their woe is increased by a sad chain of passions which their disobedience had entailed upon them ; guilt attended with shame and slavish fear pursue them: For when they heard the voice of God walking in Paradise, in the cool of the evening, they hid themselves from the face of the Lord among the trees of the garden. God at that time was heard, and made himself known to man after a sensible manner.t He called Adam, saying, “Where art thou ?” Not to know where he was, but to make him sensible of his fault. Adam, finding himself discovered, in great confusion was obliged to answer, “ I heard thy voice in the garden and was afraid, “ because I was naked, therefore I hid myself.” In con: fessing his nakedness he owned his guilt; of which God immediately convicted him ; demanding how he came to know that he was naked? Adam, who was not yet grown so hardy as to deny the fact, owned himself guilty, but endeavoured to excuse it, by laying the blame on his wife, not without a tacit reflection on God himself : “ The " woman (said he,) whom thou gavest to be with me, gave “ me of the fruit and I did eat.” God calling the woman to account, said, " What is this thou hast done?” She also readily confessed the fact; but like her husband willing to excuse herself, alledged that she was betrayed into it: “ The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” God having by examination brought this unhappy pair to confession and conviction, did not proceed in the same manner with the serpent; but immediately passing sentence upon him, he said “ Because thou hast done this, thou "s art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the
he enjoyed before his fall. Thus“ by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all (or in whom,) all have sinned." Rom v. 12.
They knew that they were naked," Gen. iii. 7, might be more expressively rendered they were sensible that they were naked; and the nakedness of their bodies was but the external emblem of the nakedness of their souls, for they were now stripped of their original righteousness.
Aprons, or rather Girdles ; the materials of which might be readily found in the garden ; such as the large, long leaves which cover our tea, as it comes in chests from China; these might be easily woven together ; so that this circumstance affords no countenance to the impertinent and ludicrous objections of infidels:
+ They heard the Voice, or as some render it, the Word of the Lord God walking, &c. Perhaps He, “ the Word," who was afterwards - madc flesh and dwelt among us." Some communications they certainly had from their Maker before this, and probably in a glorious human form,
"field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou " eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity be, s tween thee and the woman, and between thy seed and “ her seed, it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise “ his heel.”* Then pronouncing sentence on the woman; God said, “ I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and con. “ception. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, “ and thy desire shall be subject to that of thine husband, " and he shall rule over thee." And unto Adam he said,
Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, 16 and hast eaten of the forbidden tree; cursed be the “ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it, all “ the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it
bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the “ field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till “ thou return to the ground out of which thou wast taken: " For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
These three criminals having received their doom, God expelled them the garden of Eden, and sent the man to till the ground from whence he was taken; and placed Cherubims t. to preserve the way to the Tree of Life. And
* To confine this passage to a literal sense, would be, as Sherlock and Newton have observed, to render it unworthy of God or of Moses. Under the serpent's name, the curse is levelled at the great enemy of mankind; "by his seed" or off. spring, we understand that “generation of vipers,” (Matt. iii. 7.) or wicked men, who are “ of their father the devil," (John, viii. 44.) who in all ages have hissed and shewn their enmity against Christ, and who succeeded so far as to nail him to the cross, and thus wound his heel, i. e. his human, or inferior nature.
Christ is the “ seed of the woman,” (Gal. iv 4.) who bruised the head of the serpent, or crushed his power over man, by his death on the cross; who has led
captivity captive," and who will finally abolish all his power. Thus was the. first intimation of mercy to fallen man, the first gospel promise, included in the sentence pronounced on his seducer.
+ Cherubiin. These are commonly, but erroneously, supposed to be Angels, who, like centinels, were placed to guard the gate of Paradise ; but the Cherubim, which signifies “ the likeness of the great-ones," were most probably emblems of the Deity, figures like those mentioned Ezek. 1.: such as were placed in the Ta. bernacle and Temple over the Mercy-Seat. This was the cymbol of the divine presence, before which it is likely that Adam offered sacrifice. The design of the whole, was “ to keep the way of the tree of life," not to prevent the coming at it, but for “preserving," or " observing the way to it"-o shew that by the employe VOL. 1.
thus from the fall of our first parents proceeded all those evils which deface the beautiful works of their great Creator; and hence sin, pain, and death were entailed upon their posterity. With guilty shame they are forced to quit their seat of innocence, and exchange fair Eden's garden for an uncultivated world, which produced nothing but what was effected by labour and toil, and where they had no other prospect but an endless variety of cares and troubles.
And now Adam being expelled from Paradise knew his wife Eve, who conceiving, bare him a son, whom she called Cain, * and said, “ I have gotten a man from the “ Lord.” After him she bare Adam another son, who was named Abel. These two brethren, when they grew up to manhood, chose two different employments; Cain, the elder, whose disposition was sordid and avaricious, betook himself to tillage ; but Abel, who was of a more gentle and humane temper, delighted in a pastoral employment, and fed sheep. In process of time each of them brought their offering to the Lord. Cain's was the fruits of the ground; and Abel's the firstlings with the fat of his flock. The Lord accepted the sacrifice of Abel, but rejected that of Cain. † Hereupon Cain was provoked, which the falling
ment of the sword in shedding blood, and the fire in burnt-sacrifice, was the only way of reconciliation to an offended God.
The reader who wishes to see this fully illustrated, may consult ! Lord Forbes's Thoughts on Religion, natural and revealed,” and “ Parkhurst's Hebrew Lexi, con on the word Cherubim."
* Cain, signifies Possession, for she fondly hoped that this son might prove the seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent's head. “ I have gotten the Man-Jehovah," so some render the sentence ; but she was greatly mistaken, for “ he was of that wicked one"-the serpent-the devil. 1 John iii. 12.
+ It was “ by faith," that Abel offered a more excellent, a fuller, a more complete offering than Cain; (Heb. xi. 4.) and faith has always respect to a revelation and appointment of God. The fact was, that Abel, as a penitent sinner, gladly signified his faith in the promised Saviour by a bloody sacrifice, knowing that without shedding of blood there could be no remission ; while Cain, proud and pharisaical, merely brings a thank-offering to God, implying no humiliation for sin, nor desire for mercy. Cain seens to have been a kind of infidela natural religion