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the soul of Adam, at his creation, by the Spirit of the Lord; so that he clearly understood its nature, and the extent of its demands. Besides, he had the strongest motives imaginable to induce him to act prudently in a transaction of such high concern. He most probably knew, that if he, as the federal head of mankind, failed in keeping the covenant, the whole human race would be involved in the sad effects of his miscarriage; as also, that, in the event of his obedience, his own, and the felicity of countless millions of his descendants, would be secured and increased. Never, therefore, could a covenant be made with more justice on the part of God; or with a better prospect of every benefit resulting from it to man. The Almighty proposed no other ends to himself in covenanting with his creatures, but his own glory, and their temporal and eternal happiness. Adam was bound, therefore, to accept the covenant of his God, and render it a cheerful obedience.
The terms or conditions on which it was founded, were a perfect and perpetual obedience: according to the tenor of the covenant, God was to be loved supremely. No earthly object was allowed to steal away the affections of Adam and Eve, or alienate their hearts from His pure and holy service. In short, nothing was to be put in competition with the favour of God, to whom they owed their existence, and whatever they possessed, or might afterwards expect to obtain. The covenant of works made no allowance for any deviations from its just rule, through surprise or temptation. It condemned the least, as well as the greatest sin. It took cognizance of the thoughts and desires of the mind. It forbade vicious imaginations; and required the utmost integrity, both
in principle and practice. Nor was this perfect ob servance of the Divine will to be limited in its duration: it was to continue without interruption, to the end of their existence.
Upon such equitable terms, God promised a neverending source of happiness to Adam. And of what did it consist? I answer: Of every thing that could ennoble and rejoice the soul, even the unceasing enjoyment of God in heaven; an exemption from all evil; and the possession of the most satisfying. good. Here was, indeed, a high recompence offered, as the price of obedience. What more could God propose, or man desire? Nothing, then, seems to have been wanting, to call forth the love and gratitude and dutiful homage of our first parents. Their felicity centered in the Lord of Hosts, who was willing, whilst they hearkened to His laws, to do for them "such things as pass man's understanding." To manifest, however, at the same time, his just abhorrence of iniquity, and to declare his sovereign right to the religious service of his creatures, he enforced the observance of the covenant, by the most awful sanctions. Whilst it said, "This do, and thou shalt live," it threatened the least offence with death. With a prospect of so much glory on the one hand, and of so great misery on the other, one would have thought the first man was likely to prove invulnerable against the assaults of temptation. But the Scriptures inform us, that this expectation was soon disappointed. Adam and Eve, yielding to the suggestions of the Devil, brought on themselves the displeasure of God.
1. How long that happy period, which was the subject of the former chapter, lasted, is not certain ; though the rapid transition of the historian, from the
state of man's primæval innocence, to the Fall, inclines us to believe it was not of very long duration. It seems to have passed away "as the morning cloud and early dew;" or, like a shadow quickly following its substance, it vanished almost as soon as it made its appearance.
The history of man's defection from God, as well as many other facts of the greatest consequence, is related in a brief and simple manner; not to gratify an idle curiosity, but to furnish matter for profitable reflection. And if we attend, in a proper spirit, to the affecting narrative, we cannot fail to gather from it much spiritual instruction.
2. To remind Adam of his dependence on God, and the necessity of carefully guarding his integrity, his Maker thought it right to forbid him the use of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This prohibition was designed as a trial of his affection; and, after so large a grant of every other comfort, could not be thought unreasonable, or severe. Submission to the restraint was so easy, and the reward promised to obedience so infinitely glorious, as to hold out the strongest inducement to perseverance in "the right ways of the Lord." With every motive to preserve his own bliss, and that of others, committed as a precious deposit to his care, he fell from his allegiance to God, and involved himself, and all mankind, in the guilt of transgression and rebellion against the Most High.
Let us trace the steps which led to this disastrous event; and state the fatal results which it produced. God made the angels supremely holy: yet some of them, fired with ambition, rebelled against their Sovereign; and were cast into hell, to be punished
a Gen. ii. 16, 17.
according to their deserts. Filled, on this account, with enmity against God, they have set up a kingdom in direct opposition to his, under the authority of the Devil. Hence they strenuously labour to do mischief, by tempting men to revolt from God, in order that they may become as miserable as themselves. Soon after Adam and Eve were formed, these wicked spirits concerted a plan to seduce them, and destroy that felicity which provoked their envy. Satan, the prince of darkness, undertook to conduct the malignant enterprise. With a craft suited to the occasion, he concealed himself under the form of a serpent, to cover his foul designs. He spake through the organs of that animal, which probably then appeared uncommonly beautiful and remarkably sagacious, and by this means more easily deluded our first parents.
The Devil was certainly the real agent in this affair; the serpent performing only a constrained part. The names by which he is called, demonstrate this; such as, "The great dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, and Apollyon." The account of that transaction is as follows: "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, 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. And the serpent said unto the woman, 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
• 2 Peter ii. 4.-Jude vi.
Rev. xii. 9.-ix. 11.
gods, knowing good and evil. And 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"."
Mark with what dexterity and artifice Satan conducted the temptation. He did not at once propose to them to break the Divine injunction, lest their minds should be shocked with the base proposal; but proceeded cautiously to work, the better to ensure the success of his plot. He commenced with an attack on the woman, by insinuating a doubt respecting the equity of the command which had been given: perceiving that she was disposed to hearken to his suggestions, he assumed a bolder tone, and flatly contradicted the Divine threatening, with an assurance, that on tasting the forbidden fruit, she would derive the greatest advantage. At length, believing his lying representations, she was persuaded to commit the fatal act.
Eve, by her solicitations, prevailed on Adam to partake of the fruit; and thus he became a principal in the guilt of the whole transgression. Thus the covenant of works was shamefully broken, its promises forfeited, and all the curses it denounced against sin, incurred. Thus man fell from his integrity, and became wicked and miserable.
3. Jehovah, to vindicate his own honour, immediately passed sentence on the offence of Adam and Eve. "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened 5 Gen. iii. 1-7. Rom. v. 12.