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CHAP. III. This is one of the most difficult and the most melancholy chapters in
the whole bible. Before this all was very good ; here all is very bad. It contains an account of our first parents' fall, the cause, and the consequence of it. The origin of evil hath always been a subject of controversy with speculative men, and probably will always be attended with some difficulties, which in the present world cannot be solved; but the scripture gives such an account of the matter, as ought to satisfy us, namely, that it was in consequence of the temptation of some subtil and malignant being. What that being was, and how he presented his temptations, we
are here informed. IN O W the serpent, that is, the Devil or Satan, under
TV the form of a serpent, was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he, being set upon the ruin of the human race, said unto the woman, whom he found alone, and whose attention he had probably gain. ed by various wiles and appearances of intelligence, under the form of a fine, beautiful serpent, walking erect, and uncommonly attentive to her : having thus prepared the way, he said, Yea, hath God indeed said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden ? Sure it cannot possibly be, that God, who is
the supreme good and your most bountiful benefactor, should 2 in good earnest forbid you the use of this tree. And the
woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of all 3 the other trees of the garden : But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath certainly
said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, in order 4 to the eating of it, lest ye die.* And the serpent said unto
the woman, certainly you must be mistaken ; God's words may 5 have some other meaning ; ye shall not surely. die : For
God knows it will be very profitable for you ; and therefore it is not likely that He, being so good, should absolutely forbid it you : God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall instantly be opened, and ye shall be as gods, or as God himself, knowing good and evil ; you shall attain such a large, yea, divine measure of knowledge, that in compari.
son thereof your present knowledge is but blindness, 6 And when the woman saw that the tree (was] good for
food, and that it (was] pleasant to the eyes, beyond the rest of the trees, and a tree to be desired, from this account of it, te make (one) wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and
then gave some of it also unto her husband with her; and he hy did eat likewise through her persuasion. And immediately the
eyes of them both were opened, in a sense far different from
• Seo Milton's account of this matter, which I think is th: most clear, easy, and probable of any I have met with. Par. Lair, B. ix. 1.04, X .
what the tempter had pretended, and then they knew that they [were] naked ; and experienced a sense of shame and the need
of covering, so that they sewed fig leaves together, and made 8 themselves aprons, or girdles. And they heard the voice of
the LORD God, a sound from the majestic presence or glory of JEHOVAH, as it were walking in the garden in the cool of the day, or evening, and seeming to approach them : and Adam and his wife, through a sense of guilt and fear of punishment, hid themselves from the awful symbol of the presence of the
LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him,
with 'a terrible emphasis, to bring him to confession, Where 10 fart] thou? Why dost thou seek concealment? And he said,
I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid ; because I had found that I was) naked ; and therefore I hid myself. And he further interrogated Adam and said, Who told thee that thou (wast] naked ? and that thou needest on that account
to be ashamed ? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I com12 manded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man, de
sirous to excuse himself, ungratefully said, The woman whom
thou gavest (to be) with me, as an help meet, she gave me of 13 the tree, and at her instigation I did eat. And the LORD
God said unto the woman, What [is] this [that] thou hast done? How keinous a transgression! And the woman, being also desirous to extenuate her crime, said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou (art] cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field : though the serpent was only the instrument here, yet he is cursed to show God's detestation of sin : upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life ; his wings and feet fell off; and instead of feeding on
plants and herbs, he took his food from the dust and licked in the 15 dust with it : And I will put perpetual enmity between thee
and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall
bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.* 16 Unto the woman he said, she being first in the transgression,
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and, or rather, in thy canception, or pregnancy ; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth
* This is time in a literal sense : there is an irreconcileable enmity between mankind 2nd servents, and their attacks on each other are frequent. Bur Adam and Eve undoubtedly knew that it was an intelligent spirit who had seduced them, and that this sentence was addressed to such a being. God designed to contort Adam and Eve, under the dejection and grief in which he saw then involved, and therefore inade them this promise. But where would be the comfort, if it were only to be taken in a literal sense, that Adain's children shoulil sometimes kill serpents, and serpents should sometimes hurt them! This Jooks like trifling, and must be poor comfort to a creature under the divine displeasuro. Adam must be talten indeed, fallen below common sense, to take comfort in that. They seet and her seed may therefore mean, as many think, the righteous and the wicked, or (which scrise I much prefer) the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Messiah, the Cap:ain of Salvation ; He, that eminent Person, shall bruise thy head, destroy thy power; and thou shalt bruise his heel; he shall receive some slight hurt in the contest; which may refer to the suffering The Messiah andured for our Salvation.
children ; and thy desire (shall be] subject to thy husband
whom thou hast enticed, and he shall rule over thee. And 17 unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hvarkened unto the
voice of thy wife, rather than to thy own understanding, or 10 my precepts, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: from henceforth cursed [is] the ground for thy sake, it shall no longer produce its
fruits spontaneously as before ; in sorrow shalt thou eat the 18 produce [of] it all the days of thy life ; Thorns also and this· tles, all manner of unprofitable hurtful weeds, shall it bring
forth to thee ; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field instead
of those generous and delicious fruits of paradise which thou 19 hast hitherto fed ufion ; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou
eat bread, with constant labour and vexation, till thou return
unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken ; for dust 20 thou (art,] and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam, sen
sible of the mercy mixed with judgment, and thankful that the sentence was not immediately executed, called his wife's name Eve, which signifies, life, because she was to be the mother of
all living. 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God show
further favour, and taught them how to make coats of the skins
of the beasts, and clothed them therewith. And the LORD God 22 said, in something of an ironical manner, to humble him more
deeply, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also
of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever, or entertain the 23 hope of doing so : Therefore the LORD God sent him forth
from the garden of Eden, into the wild and uncultivated
country about it, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 But he lingered and was loth to depart ; So he drove out the
man by violence, and Eve reluctantly followed ; and he placed at the east of, or, before the garden of Eden ministering Angels called Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned in their hands every way, to keep the way of the tree of life ; that the earthly paradise might not be regained, and that man might not expecţ immortality on earth.
1. T ET us lament the offence and calamity of the human
U family in its first head. See what wretched work sin made in God's beautiful and orderly creation. We should be greatly grieved at this apostacy, which was such a dishonour to God, and brought such misery on mankind. We have reason to look back upon it with grief and shame, that man, though made upright, has thus come short of the glory of God, and rebelled against him. When labouring in the sweat of our brow, let us think of the evil of sin ; when the daughters of Eve endure the pains of pregnancy and the sorrows of childbearing, let them learn to hate sin. Let all our pains of body and depravity of mind lead our thoughts to this origin of evil ; and learn from the whole story, that sin is the abominable thing which God's righteous soul hateth.
2. Since we have fallen from God, let us return to him : there is no security or comfort but in this, whatever difficulties or mortifications may attend it. Let us be careful we do not cover our transgression, like Adam, (see Job xxxi. 33.) and flee from God; but fly to him as the father of mercies. To endeavour to fly from him is vain ; for there is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves. But to return to him in the new and living way which he hath af pointed, Heb.x. 20. and to confess and forsake our sins, is the only way to find mercy.
3. Let us own the justice of the sentence passed on man, We bear the image of Adam in our affictions and death : we tabour like him, and like him, return to the dust. Adam's sin was great and heinous, and being the first transgression, claimed a heavier punishment. God did his guilty creatures no wrong, he did but keep his own word. Let us humble ourselves under these mortifying circumstances of becoming a prey to sin, to affliction and death, and adore God, who exacts less than our iniquities, and the iniquities of our first parents deserved.
4. We should adore that mercy which pointed out the Lord Jesus Christ ; that God so graciously revived the drooping hearts of his fallen creatures by this early intimation of mercy, and provided so richly for the comfort of succeeding generations ; that, while feeling the effects of sin, they might look to Christ. By faith in this promise, the holy men of old bore up under their imperfections and distresses. We have particular reason to be thankful that Christ was manifested in the flesh ; that as the children whom he came to save were partakers of flesh and blood, he also partook of the same. Blessed be God for Jesus Christ! This second man is the Lord from heaven, who restores those Blessings which our first father lost, and brings greater and nobler along with him. Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift.
5. Let us long after the recovery of a better paradise by him. As by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the drad; when he shall be raised, not only to another, but to a happier life. There is a nobler paradise above, where the tree of life ever flourishes in perpetual verdure and beauty ; where there is no serpent to deceive, no lempter to seduce ; from whence Satan is for ever banished, and where joy and glory spring fresh through immortal ages. In the mean time,
6. Let us pursue the holy war against Satan, under the banner of Christ, who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. He overcame him on earth, he triumphed over him on the cross. We must expect opposition from him ; he hath an enmity against the seed of the woman, and may bruise their heel. But let us resist our great adversary. He was too hard for innocent man: his cunning is improved by long experience ; and we are less able to resist him ; but if we continue steadfast, we shall finally triumph, for he is a vanquished foe. Let us contend like those who know that they shall be more than conquerors through him that hath loved us ; and do thou, O God of peace, bruise Satan under our feet shortly. Amen.
CHAP. IV. The former chapter contained an account of man's fall, this of his
increase : it gives us the history of Cain and Abel; of Cain's posterity ; of Lamech and his posterity ; and of Seth and his
family. I AND Adam knew Eve his wife ; and she conceived,
A1 and bare a son, whom she called Cain, and said, with great thankfulness and joy, I have gotten a man from the 2 Lord, as his gift and the fruit of his blessing. And she again,
or afterwards, bare his brother, whom she called Abel, which signifies vanity. She probably expected Cain to have been the Messiah, but found him to be of a wicked disposition ; and being disappointed, called this son, vanity, or disappointment. And chey were both brought up to labour, but of different kinds :
Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the 3 ground. And in process of time, or every year, it came to
pass, that Cain by the divine command brought of the fruit of
the ground an offering unto the LORD, called a sacrifice, Heb. 4 xi. 4. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock
and of the fat thereof, the fattest and the best. This he offered evith humility and faith, and he found his account in it. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering ; which he manifested by some visible token, (probably by fire from heaven, 5 consuming the sacrifice) 80 as that Cain discerned it : But un
to Cain and to his offering he had not respect, for want of faith and sincerity. And Cain was very wroth both with God and his brother, and his countenance fell ; he laid aside that cheer. fulness and pleasantness, which argues well pleasedness ; and
betrayed his anger and discontent by his sour, dejected, envious 6 looks. And the LORD said unto Cain, to bring him to a sense
of his sin and repentance for it, Why art thou wroth ? and why
is thy countenance fallen? I am not guilty of any partiality. 7 Ifthou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted ? and if thou doest
not well, the punishment of thy sin lieth at the door, and like a furious beast is ready to seize thee. And though Abel is accepted before thee on account of his faith, yet he shall still show thee respect as his elder brother, and subject unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.