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more subtile than any beast of the field, and was the fittest creature which could be chosen to illustrate how Eve was deceived. Let it be recollected, that Moses wrote this account more than two thousand years after it happened, and selects the serpent celebrated for its subtilty among mankind, when he wrote. And why might not Moses select this creature as a figure for deception, as other scripture writers do the lion for ferocity, the lamb for meekness, and the dove for harmlessness?
It will now be said, allowing all this to be true, what was it that deceived Eve, and which Moses here represents by the subtilty of the serpent? I answer, lust or desire in Eve, for what is lust but desire? That Adam and Eve were created with appetites or desires will not be questioned. They desired, or lusted after the fruit of the other trees of the garden, and ate of them. Nor would there have been any sin in lusting after and eating the fruit of the prohibited tree more than the others, but for the prohibition. It was this, and this alone, which could render it criminal. Before the prohibition was given, there was no sin in either. But this only provokes the question,-How came Eve to desire the fruit of the prohibited tree? Answer; she could no more prevent herself having desires, than she could have prevented herself being made, or made just such a creature with such appetites; and the very prohibition not to eat of this tree, was calculated to excite curiosity in her about it and create desire. What man has not known the truth of this from experience? The evil did not lie in Eve's having appetites and desires, but her appetites and desires took occasion from the very prohibition, and in this way she was deceived and eventually sinned.What Paul says, Rom. vii. 7. Eve might have said— "I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust except the law had said thou shalt not eat.
But sin taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment deceived me, and by it slew me." What does Paul here say deceived him? It was sin taking occasion by the commandment, or desire which is the origin of sin; for lust or desire "when it hath conceived bringeth forth sin." James i. 15. So in regard to Eve. There could be no difference betwixt Paul and her, unless we suppose one of two things. First, That Eve was created without lust or desire altogether, which was certainly not the case. Or, second, That she was incapable of desiring what God had prohibited. If so, then she would have been incapable of sinning. The event proved that she was not. It should ever be kept in view, that sin does not consist in having lust or desire, nor even in being tempted to gratify desire contrary to the commandment, but in complying with the temptation. Jesus Christ had desire, was tempted, but resisted the temptation, as will appear in Section 7.
If the serpent then was more subtile than any beast of the field, it was the fittest creature which could be selected to show the deceit of lust. In this view, the whole dialogue between Eve and her own lust, is both striking and natural. The serpent or Eve's lust after the fruit says "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden ?" Thus her lust takes occasion by the commandment to desire the fruit. But Eve knew the commandment, hence she replies to her lust" 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." To
this Eve's lust replies-" Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil." Permit me to ask, could any thing be more fitly chosen to describe the artful, plausible insinuations of lust or desire after some forbidden object? But the woman ceases to oppose her lust, by reasoning further on the subject. "And when the woman saw that the trec 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." From its being said—" the woman saw that the tree was good for food," some have concluded, that she saw a serpent eat of the fruit, and no evil following, she concluded it must be good for her food also. If this was true, it was calculated to excite desire in her, and embolden her to proceed. It was also an additional reason for introducing the serpent into this account. If the word saw, is here used in the sense of considered, as is evidently its sense in some other parts of Scripture, she must then have considered, or inferred that the fruit was good for food, from seeing the serpent eat, or drew this conclusion, from looking at the fruit and the reasonings of her own lust or desire about it. The last I am inclined to think was the case. But let these things be as they may, it is certain the tree appeared pleasant to her eye, and a tree to be desired to make one wise. This her lust or the serpent told her. All of us know, that our lust is subtile, and eloquent in its persuasions, and never fails to promise that we shall be wiser and happier by its indulgence. Eve was overcome by the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye. She eat, and gave also to her husband and he did eat. He hearkened to the voice of his wife, and thus "Adam was not deceived but the woman being
deceived was (first) in the transgression." 1'Tin. ii. 14.
It will likely be said, plausible as this appears, what evidence have we that Eve's lust is here represented by the serpent, and that this dialogue was between her and her own lust. The evidence which inclines me to this view of the subject I shall very briefly state.
1st. I find lust or desire stated in Scripture to be the source or origin of transgression. James says, chap. i. 15" Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death." See also chap. iv. 1. and other texts which I need not quote. The conceivings of lust after any object, never could bring forth sin, unless that object was prohibited. Paul says "I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said thou shalt not covet." Rom. vii. 7. It is the doctrine of Scripture, and of common sense, that where there is no law, there can be no transgression. Allow me then to ask, must not lust in Eve have been the source of sin, just as it is in us? Can any good reason be assigned why it is now the source of sin in us but was not so with her?
2d. Sin, and lust the source of sin, are always represented in Scripture as deceitful and beguiling. Paul, Heb. iii. 13. speaks of the "deceitfulness of sin," and declares, Rom. vii. 11. that sin taking occasion by the commandment "deceived" him and slew him. And in Eph. iv. 22. he exhorts to put off" the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." And as all the conceivings of lust are in the heart, it is said "the heart is deceitful above all things." Jer. xvii. 9. Such are merely a specimen of the texts which speak of this. The serpent then was more subtile than any beast of the field, and was just as fit to represent the deceit of lust, as the dove is to represent
the quality of harmlessness, or the lamb that of meekness. Those familiar with the Scriptures know, that many of the beasts of the field are used as figures, in a similar way, which it would be tedious to detail. For example: our Lord says, "be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves." And it is well known, that in Daniel and the book of Revelation, the writers deliver their prophecies under the figures of beasts, and other symbols derived from the material world.
3d. In after parts of Scripture, the serpent is in fact used, as a figure for cunning and deceit. The word rendered serpent in the account before us is Nehesh. Taylor says it signifies the "common snake. But in southern, hot, desert countries, the snakes may be larger or more venomous than in the cold northern climates." It is used literally for the snake or serpent,. Job xxvi. 13. Eccles. x. 8. Prov. xxx. 19. Deut. viii.. 15. Numb. xxi. 7, 9. Amos ix. 3. Jer. xlvi. 22. Mic. vii. 17. Jer. viii. 17. Eccles. x. 11. Amos v. 19. Numb. xxi. 6. The same word is used for the brazen serpent which Moses made, 2 Kings, xviii. 4. Num. xxi. 9. Also, for Moses' rod changed to a serpent, Exod. iv. 3. and vii. 15. It is used figuratively for tribes and nations, and to express a state of subjugation, degradation, &c. Gen. xlix. 17. Isai. xxvii. 1. Mic. vii. 17. Isai. lxv. 25. This word is also used figuratively, to set forth the deceit, and lies of wicked men. Please consult the following passages. Psalms lviii. 3-5. and cxl. 1-4. Eccles. x. 11. Isai. xiv. 29. Prov. xxiii. 32. If the cunning and deceit of the serpent was learned by men from experience and observation, and was used figuratively for this purpose, why not also by Moses in this account, in showing how Eve was deceived by her own lust? Was it not just as proper a figure, to show how sin entered by the deceit of lust, as to illustrate its deceitfulness, in its progress among men afterwards? If lust is deceitful