Imagini ale paginilor

prohibited, his task had been harder, and the commandment more severe; but the profusion of the grant made the restriction easy. And again, what test more proper could have been appointed? This was peculiarly calculated to try the simplicity of Adam's faith and obedience. For the prohibition rested entirely on this point, that such was the will of God. Adam could perceive no moral evil in eating of that particular fruit, and therefore he had to abstain from it only because he was so commanded. Here then he was placed under a covenant of works, of which simple obedience to one single prohibition formed the whole basis: this being observed, he should live; this being transgressed, he should die. Such was the commandment, holy, just, and good, easy of observance, and explicitly enjoined; a commandment against which he could not murmur, and in the keeping of which he ought greatly to have delighted.

II. We proceed, in the next place, to consider his transgression. It originated in an artful temptation from Satan, the head of the rebellious angels, who had themselves

that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Daring and blasphemous impiety! Here is falsehood which could only have been conceived by the father of lies; and presumption on which none would have ventured but a rebellious angel. Yet let us not fail to observe how this first temptation contains the seeds and the pattern of all succeeding ones. Thus still he excites us to be discontented with any restriction that is placed upon our desires; he induces us to question the fulfilment of those threatenings which God has denounced against sin; and he promises us some gratification, advantage, or pleasure, from our disobedience. In this manner he made a prey of the unhappy Eve. Beguiled by his sophistry, and led away by her own desires, she disregarded the threatenings of the Lord, and broke the commandment. "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband,

with her; and he did eat." What arguments were used, or what motives prevailed, to make Adam become a partaker in the transgression, we are not informed. Nor is there ever any necessity to enquire for what reasons or by what inducements the positive injunctions of God's Word are disregarded. If we will not reverence his commandments, simply for this sufficient reason that they are his commandments, our excuses for transgression will avail but little, and the force of temptation will not justify the offence. Now in this transgression there was the highest offence. It was a direct breach of the positive command of God; and greatly aggravated by this circumstance, which I have mentioned, namely, that they had but one single commandment to keep. At this day, sin having thus entered into the world, many restrictions and prohibitions are necessary to prevent men from doing all that is in their hearts; but to the first pair only one was given; one single proof of their faith and obedience was alone required. It was not merely in the act of eating the fruit of a tree that the offence

not kept their first estate, and who were eager to plunge this new-made creature into similar ruin. Concealed under the form of a serpent, the devil assailed the ear of the woman, whom God had formed out of man to be his companion and comfort, and "beguiled her through his subtlety." That this was really the case cannot be doubted. For though the present history does not lay open the real agent in this impious work, yet the Scriptures determine the point in another place, where we read of "that old serpent, which is the devil, or Satan." With the cunning peculiar to that evil spirit, he begins the attack by insinuating hard thoughts of God, and endeavouring to weaken her approbation of his commandment. "Yea," said he, "hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" What! are you restrained from any? Why should this be so?" Thus he endeavoured to make her dissatisfied that any thing should be withheld. There was diabolical craft indeed in this implied reflection upon the kindness of God. It succeeded in inducing her to discuss the subject with him. She answered

and with a due regard to truth, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." She knew the prohibition, and that ought to have secured her against transgression. God had said this to them. Had she but deeply considered the authority of the speaker, and rendered him a due obedience in her heart, she had not listened to any suggestion contrary to the command. Had she, in full assurance of faith, given credit to this declaration, and received it as the word of God, she had spurned every succeeding temptation, and had been safe. For now Satan throws off the mask, and expressly contradicts the threatening of God. He boldly asserts, "Ye shall not surely die:" nay he goes farther, and assures her that, on the contrary, she would receive great advantage; and impiously declares that God knew this, and wished to keep her in a condition inferior to what she might otherwise attain. "Ye shall not surely die," said he: " for God doth know

« ÎnapoiContinuă »