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propounding the lure of knowledge and pleasure, to inveigle the spiritual and sensitive appetites at once. There were three things in which the desirableness of this fruit was represented, which sets forth the great art and sagacity of Satan. (1.) Its agreeableness to the palate. It is said, The woman saw the fruit that it was good for food. Satan told her that it was of a most sweet and delicious taste, and would highly gratify her sensual appetite. (2.) It was pleasant to the eye; a charming and beautiful fruit, which had an inviting aspect. (3.) There was a desirableness in it to the rational appetite, It was a tree to be desired to make one wise. And the serpent told her, ver, 5. that, upon eating it, their eyes should be opened, and they should be as gods, knowing good and evil. He made Eve believe, that, upon her eating the fruit of that tree, she would be raised and elevated from the human to a kind of divine nature and condition. This was the tempration with which the devil assaulted our first parents in paradise, and prevailed against them. 2. I shall take notice of Satan's subtilty in managing this temptation. We read of his wiles in scripture; and indeed they are worse than his darfs. (1.) That he might the bettersucceed in his hellish design, he addressed himself to the woman, the weakest person, and most liable to seduction. He reckoned, and that justly enough, that his attempt would be most successful here, and that she was less able to resist him. He broke over the hedge where it was weakest. He knew very well that he could more easily insinuate and wind himself into her by a temptation. An old experienced soldier, when he is to storm and enter a castle, observes carefully where there is a breach, or how he may enter with most facility: so did Satan here when he assaulted Eve, the weaker vessel. And he tempted the woman first, because he knew, if once he could prevail with her, she would easily entice and draw on her husband. Satan knew very well, that a temptation coming to Adam from Eve, his wife, in this the infancy of their married state, would be more prevailing and less suspected. Sometimes near relations prove strong temptations. A wife may be a smare, when she dissuades i. husband from his duty, or entices him to sin. It is said of Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. 25. that
* there was none like unto him, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.’ She blew the coals, and made his sin flame out with the greater violence, Satan discovered his great subtilty in tempting Adam by his wife; for he with compla. cency received the temptation, and, by the enticement of this old serpent, committed adultery with the creature, from whence the cursed race of sin and all miseries proceed. (2.) He assaulted her when alone, in the absence of her husband, and so did the more easily prevail. For ‘two are better than one;” and, as Solomon observes, “a threefold cord is not easily broken.” Had Adam been present at this fatal congress, it is like the attempt had not been so easily successful. (3.) The devil's subtilty may be seen here in hiding himself in the body of a serpent, which, before sin entered into the world was not terrible to Eve. Satan crept into a serpent, and spake in it, as the angel did afterwards in Balaam’s ass. She was not afraid of this apparition; for she knew no guilt, and therefore was not subject to any fear. She might look upon this as one of the angels or blessed spirits, which, as they used after this to appear in the shape of men, why might not one of them appear now, and converse with her in the shape of a beautiful serpent; why might not she freely discourse with this, which she reckoned one of those good angels, to whose care and tuition both she and her husband were committed 2 For we may suppose the fall of the angels was not yet revealed to her, and she thought this to be a good spirit, otherwise she would certainly have declined all conversation with an apostate angel. Some have supposed, and that not very improbably, that more discourse passed between the serpent and Eve than is recorded, Gen. iii. and represent the matter thus: The serpent, catching the opportunity of the woman’s being at a distance from her husband, makes his address to her with a short speech, saluting her as empress of the world, and giving her a great many encomiums and dignifying titles: She wonders, and inquires what this meant? and whether he was not a brute creature? and how he came to be endowed with understanding and speech? The serpent replies, that he was nobler than a brute, and did indeed once want both these gifts; but by eating a certain fruit in this garden, he had got both. She immediately asks what fruit and tree that was which had such a surprising influence and virtue. Which when he had shewed her, she replied, This no doubt is an excellent fruit, but God hath strictly forbidden us the use of it. To which the serpent presently replies, as in the close of ver, 1. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? The way how these words are introduced plainly shews that something had passed previous thereto. ... And some suppose, that the serpent, to confirm the truth of his assertion, pulled off some of the fruits of the tree, ate one in her presence, and presented another to Eve, who, before eating it, had the discourse with the serpent recorded in the subsequent verses. (4.) The devil's subtilty appears in accosting our first parents so early, before they were cohfirmed in their course of obedience. The holy angels in heaven are fully confirmed in righteousness and holiness; they are called morning stars; Job xxxviii. 7. and are all fixed, not wandering stars. But our first parents were not confirmed in their obedience, they were not yet fixed in their orb of holiness: Though they had a possibility of standing, yet they had not an impossibility of falling. They were holy but mutable. It was possible for them to change their state. Now, Satan's subtilty was eminently manifested here. (5.) He first allures with the hopes of impunity, and then he promises an universal knowledge of good and evil. (1.) He persuades Eve, that though she did eat of the forbidden tree, yet she should not die, ver. 4. ‘Ye shall not surely die.’ ‘God indeed did say so for your terror, to keep you in awe. But do not entertaain such hard and unworthy thoughts of that God who is infinitely good and gratious. Do not think that, for such a trifle as the eating of a little fruit, he will undo you and all your posterity for ever, and so suddenly destroy the most excellent piece of his own workmanship, wherein his image shines in a most resplendent manner.’ o * - - (2.) He promiseth them an universal knowledge; as the effect of eating this fruit, ver. 5. ‘For God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened: and ye shall be as god's, knowing good and evil.” * God's design in that prohibition is only this: He knows that you shall be so far from dying, that thereby you shall certainly be entered into a new and more noble and excellent kind of life. The eyes of your understandings, which are now shut in a great measure as to the knowledge of many things, shall then be wide opened, and ye shall see more clearly and distinctly than now you do. You shall be as God, and shall attain to a kind of omniscience.” (6.) Satan's subtilty was manifested here, in assaulting Eve’s faith. He o persuade her, that God had not spoken truth in that threatening. He managed the whole busimess with a lie; yea, he adds one lie to another. “Ye shall not surely die,” says he; and then he represents God as envying our first parents that great honour and happiness that was attainable by them, ver 5. and himself as one that wished their happiness, and would tell her how to arrive at it; and alleges they might easily understand, by the very name of the tree, the truth of what he says to her. “It is (says he) because God envies your felicity that he hath forbidden you the use of this tree. But know ye, if ye eat of it, ye shall be as gods.’ Here was subtilty indeed. The devil was first a liar, and then a murderer. This was Satan's master-piece to weaken her faith; for when he had shaken that, and brought her once to distrust, then she was easily overcome: and presently put forth her hand to pluck the forbidden fruit. By these pretences he ruined innocence itself: for the woman being deceived by these allectives, swallowed down the poison of the serpent ; and having tasted death herself, she betook herself to her husband, and persuaded him by the same means to despise the law of their Creator. Thus sin made its entrance into the world, and brought an universal confusion into it. For the moral harmony of the world consisting in the just subordination of the several ranks of beings to one another, and of all to God, when man, who was placed next to him, broke the union, his fall brought a desperate disorder into God's government. And though the matter of the offence may seem small, yet the disobedience was infinitely great ; it being the transgression of that command which was given to be the real proof cf man's subjection to God. The honour and majesty of the whole law was violated in the breach of that symbolical precept. But this will fall to be more fully illustrated in a subsequent discourse. Fourthly, Man being thus left to the freedom of his own will, abused his liberty in complying with the temptation, Vol. I. N n
and freely apostatised from God. And so man himself, and he only, was the true and proper cause of his own sinning. Not God, for he is unchangeably holy.; not the devil, for he could only tempt, not force: therefore man himself only is to blame, Eccl. vii. 29, “God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.” I shall conclude this subject with a few inferences. 1. Hence see the great weakness, yea the nothingness of the creature, when left to itself. When Adam was in the state of integrity, he quickly made a defection from God, he soon lost the robe of his primitive innocence, and all the blessedness of paradise. If our nature was so weak when at the best, then how miserably weak is it now when it is at its worst; If Adam did not stand when he was perfectly holy and righteous, how unable are we to stand when sin has entirely disabled us? If purified nature could not resist the temptation, but was quite overturned at the first blast, how shall corrupt nature stand, when besieged and stormed with a long succession of strong and violent assaults : If Adam in a few hours sinned himself out of paradise, O how quickly would even those who are regenerated sin themselves into hell, if they were not preserved by a greater power than their own; nay, ‘ kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ?” God left some of the angels to themselves, and they turned devils; and he left innocent Adam, and he fell into a gulf of misery. May we not then much more now say, ‘Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall;' especially seeing we have a violent bent and strong propensity of heart and will to go away from God, which Adam had not. 2. There is no reason to blame God for the misery of the fall. He gave man sufficient power and ability to stand if he would, promised a large reward to excite his obedience, and severely threatened disobedience: but man would needs try experiments to make his case better than God made it; and so fell by his own inventions. The fault then was his own, he alone was culpable, and he was the author of his own -Tulin. 3. Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation. You see that you have to do with an impudent devil, who is still going about seeking whom he may devour. No state, while ye are in this world, can secure you from his temptations.