THE TRIAL AND SENTENCE|
THE sin was irrevocably committed: the Tempter had triumphed. But what of the affirmation, "Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil " ? Alas ! it had indeed proved true ; but in a fashion widely differing from Eve's expectation. For in the impetuosity of her pride she had not tarried to reflect that the knowledge of God must needs be fraught with destructive peril to those who have neither the wisdom nor the power of God. Her eyes and those of her husband were indeed opened ; but only to see themselves, to behold their own sad condition of nakedness and shame. For now they became suddenly conscious of the vileness of that flesh which had been the medium of their transgression; they were bewildered with the painful sense of a fall from the eminence on which God had placed them, of their resemblance to the brutes around them, nay, even of their unfitness to be seen.
And these feelings seem to have been intensified in no small degree by an instant and visible change in their outward appearance. For while they remained in obedience, the spirit which God had breathed into them retained its full power and vigour. Its pervading influence defended their whole being from the inroads of corruption and death ; while at the same time its brightness, shining through the covering of flesh, shed a lustrous halo around them ; so that the grosser element of their bodies was concealed within a veil of radiant glory.1 And thus, as the rulers of creation, they were strikingly distinguished from all the creatures which were placed under them.
But their sin was only made possible by a league of soul and body which destroyed the balance of their being. The overborne spirit was reduced to the condition of a powerless and almost silent prisoner ; and, consequently, its light faded and disappeared. Its influence was gone : it could no longer either preserve their bodies from decay, or clothe them in its glory as with a garment. The threat of God was an accomplished fact; the reign of death had commenced.
1. Compare the description of God in Psalm civ. 2 :-" Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment. "
Nor is it difficult to prove that the recovery of a visible glory will be the instant result of the restoration of spirit, soul, and body to perfect order and harmony, the sign of our manifestation as the sons of God. But it will then shine with far more intense brilliancy than it did in Adam: for, as we have before seen, the body of unfallen man was not a spiritual body. The spirit did indeed exercise a mighty and vigorous influence, but the soul was the ruling power, even as it continues to be : for the first man became a living soul (I Cor. xv. 45). But when the resurrection, or the change consequent upon our Lord's return takes place, our bodies will become spiritual (I Cor. xv. 44) the God-consciousness will be supreme in us, holding both soul and body in absolute control, and shedding forth the full power of its glory without let or hindrance.
Hence in speaking of that time Daniel says: "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament ; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever " (Dan. xii. 3). So, too, the Lord Himself declares: " Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father " (Matt. xiii. 43).
And yet again ; both John and Paul tell us that, when we are summoned into the presence of the Lord Jesus, we shall be like Himl that He will change the body of our humiliation into the likeness of the body of His glory (I John iii. 2; Phil. iii. 21). Nor are we left in ignorance as regards the nature of the body of His glory; for upon the mount of transfiguration He permitted the chosen three to behold the Son of Man as He will appear when He comes in His kingdom. Then His Spirit, ever restrained and hidden during His earthly sojourn, was suddenly freed, and in an instant His whole person was beaming with splendour ; so that His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light (Matt. xvii. 2).
The man and his wife were ashamed; and that fact was the one gleam of hope in their horizon. For had they been dead to the shame of guilt, they would have differed in nothing from evil spirits : their salvation would have been impossible. But the existence of this feeling showed that the God-consciousness within them, though overwhelmed, was not altogether extinguished. The blaze had dimmed, but the flax was still smoking, and might even yet be fanned into flame again by the Spirit of God.
Bewildered by their altered condition they immediately tried to supply the lost covering artificially, even as their descendants have ever since been doing. For every living creature, whether of earth, air, or sea, has its own proper covering, not put on from without, but developed naturally from within ; man alone is destitute and compelled to have recourse to artificial aids, because through sin he has lost his natural power of shedding forth a most glorious raiment of light. And hence we may see why our Lord preferred the robe of the humble lily to all the magnificence of Solomon (Matt. vi. 29). For the splendid array of the Israelitish king was foreign, and put on from without; whereas the beauty of the lily is developed from within, and is the simple result of its natural growth.
Scarcely had the fallen pair arranged their miserable garments when they heard the voice of the Lord God, that voice which had hitherto been their greatest joy. But how different did it now seem, though its tones were as yet unaltered! They fled in terror to the shrubs of the garden, and endeavoured to hide themselves. Vain attempt! While we are committing sin we may, perhaps, succeed in putting away all thought of God, and persuade ourselves that, because we have forgotten Him, therefore He neither sees nor regards us. But when He comes forth for judgment this delusion is no longer possible: there is no escape: there may not even be delay: we must, however unprepared, meet Him face to face. At the call of God Adam is forced to leave his hiding place. With trembling steps he creeps into the presence of his Maker, and is first constrained to acknowledge that he had fled through shame, and then that the shame arose from his transgression of the only commandment imposed upon him. But his confession is not a frank one, and he gives a miserable proof of his fallen condition, of the loss of all the royalty of his original nature, in his attempt to cast the blame upon his wife, nay, even to censure God Himself. "The woman," he says, "whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
Nor, when the Lord turns to her, is the answer of Eve more satisfactory than that of her husband. For she does not plead guilty, and throw herself upon God's mercy; but would lay all the fault upon the serpent, as though she were not a responsible agent.
The Lord hears what the two culprits have to say, and patiently gives them every opportunity of defending themselves, but when He turns to the serpent His manner changes. He asks the Tempter no questions, gives him no chance of defence ; but, treating him as already condemned, immediately pronounces sentence. What deep thoughts are suggested by this change of procedure ; what fearful antecedents of rebellion seem to float like spectres in the gloom of this instant and hopeless judgment !
"Because thou hast done this. " There is to be no mistake as to the reason of the curse : it is no accident, no merely natural misfortune ; but the deeply burnt brand which testifies to God's abhorrence of him who brought sin into the new world. The first part of the sentence has immediate and literal reference to the serpent which co-operated with Satan; but there is in it a wondrous type of the degradation of the Son of the Morning himself.
The words, "Thou art cursed above all cattle," seem to imply a general curse upon the animal kingdom which is not elsewhere mentioned. Possibly it fell upon that part of creation, not through Adam's sin, but because the serpent, the head and representative of the beasts of the field, yielded itself as an instrument of evil. And that the curse should thus extend to every animal is not more marvellous than the transmission of sin through Adam to the whole human race. The cause of the fact in either case has not been revealed to us : the secret is one of those deep things which we cannot know now, but may understand hereafter when the mystery of God shall be finished.
Certainly, however, there is some strange bond connecting together the creatures of our world, so that all are mysteriously affected by, and in a measure responsible for, the conduct of each. This seems to be a great law of creation, and is, perhaps, intended, in part at least, as a means of preserving unity. At any rate Paul, when treating of its application to the Church, puts forth as its object, "that there should be no schism in the body " (I Cor. xii. 25). And how welcome will be its fulfilment when, just as we have been born into sin through the transgression of Adam, we shall all be made the righteousness of God in Christ.
From the first clause of the sentence upon the serpent it is clear that the creature did not originally crawl upon its belly. Its structure must, therefore, have been entirely changed, and one who is not biassed by any wish to prove the inspiration of Scripture remarks :
" It is agreed that the organism of the serpents is one of extreme degradation; their bodies are lengthened out by the mere vegetative repetitions of the vertebrae ; like the worms, they advance only by the ring-like scutes of the abdomen, without fore or hinder limbs ; though they belong to the latest creatures of the animal kingdom, they represent a decided retrogression in the scale of beings " (Kalisch's Genesis, p. 125).
By the words, " Dust shalt thou eat," we are not, perhaps, to understand that dust should be the serpent's only food; but that having no organs wherewith to handle its prey, it would be compelled to eat it from the ground, and so to swallow dust with it. " All its food has the flavour of dust," 5ays a Jewish commentary.
And since in undergoing this visible punishment the serpent is a type of Satan, with whom it directly co-operated, its condition is hopeless, and will not be improved when the remainder of creation is delivered from the bondage of corruption. Even in Millennial times dust will still be the serpent's meat, and then, perhaps, its only food (Isa. lxv. 25). The sight of its degradation, and the more frightful spectacle of the carcases in the valley of Jehoshaphat (Isa. lxvi. 24), will serve as warnings against sin during the Millennial age.
So far the sentence seems to have no more than a typical reference to Satan. But in the following clauses the serpent begins to recede from view, and the great Adversary, who had been concealed within it, is dragged forth to judgment, and hears of the frustration of his hopes, of the brevity of his triumph, and of his terrible and inevitable doom. Wonderfully pregnant with meaning are the few words of this first of prophecies: for they contain the germ of all that has since been revealed, and afford a remarkable proof of the consistency of God's purposes, of His perfect knowledge of the end from the beginning.
Satan had deluded Eve into an alliance with himself against the Creator; but God would break up the confederation: the covenant with Death should be disannulled: the agreement with Hell should not stand. " I will put enmity between thee and the woman," were His almighty words to the abashed and speechless serpent. Nor was it difficult for Satan to divine the meaning of this separation: he was cast out to perdition, but Eve the Lord would save.
Henceforth, therefore, deprived of her beautiful home, driven into the accursed and uncultivated earth, and subjected to toil, pain, and a gradual decay which should at last terminate in complete dissolution, she should know that her false friend was the cause of all her misery, and so regard him as her bitterest foe.
On the other hand, the mere fact that the woman would not longer be willing to subserve his purposes would have sufficed to provoke the anger of the fallen angel. Yet God presently gave him a far sharper incentive to hatred, when He declared that the seed of the deceived woman should ultimately destroy her deceiver.
For the enmity should not be confined to the serpent and the woman, but should also extend to their seed. Who, then, are the seed of the serpent ? They are those who manifest that spirit of independent pride by which their father the Devil fell : those who will not acknowledge their own hopeless condition, and submit to be saved by the merits of the Son of God; but will either themselves do what is to be done, or else proudly deny the necessity of any doing at all, and clamour against God -if they have any belief in His existence-because He does not at once gratify all their wishes without any reference to His broken law. For blinded and maddened by self-conceit they believe the lie of the serpent, and, considering themselves as God, have, consequently, no reverence for Him, nor hesitate to defy His will if their own inclination prompts them to do so. Such are the serpent's seed, distinguished by the spirit which animates their father and federal head, and doomed at last to share with him the Lake of Fire.
Nor was it long before this seed appeared in the person of Cain, " who," as the apostle tells us, " was of that Wicked One, and slew his brother " (I John iii. 12). Very significant is the remark which John adds to this declaration: " And wherefore slew he him ? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." In other words the predicted enmity was the sole cause of the murder.
Our Lord when on earth did not fail to recognize the seed of the serpent in those sinners whose contradiction He endured. "O generation of vipers " (Matt. xii. 34), He cries, using a phrase which had already issued from the lips of His forerunner, " how can ye, being evil, speak good things ? " By these words He clearly designates the Pharisees as a brood of " that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world " (Rev. xii. 9). Yet again He exclaims: " Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell? " (Matt. xxiii. 33). For being the serpent's seed they must share the serpent's fate.
The reference in both passages is obvious : but, if there could be any doubt, it would be entirely dispelled by a third utterance, in which, throwing aside all figure, the Lord plainly says: " Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do " (John viii. 44).
Thus far there is no difficulty; but the significance of the term, " seed of the woman," is not so immediately apparent. The whole human race cannot be meant, as the previous remarks show. Nor would mankind in general be called the seed of the woman, but of the man; and God is here speaking of the seed of the woman exclusively. For she first sinned, and was the cause of sin to her husband and ruin to the world. Therefore she had a double punishment : but lest the blame should rest too heavily upon her, lest she should be swallowed up by overmuch sorrow, she was by God's mercy appointed to be the sole human agent in bringing the Deliverer into the world.
Nor is it difficult to discover that Deliverer : for there is none but Christ who could in a strictly literal sense be called the seed of the woman. Here, then, we have a wonderful example of the consistency of Scripture ; since in this primeval prophecy, uttered four thousand years before its accomplishment, we find it declared that the Lord Jesus should be born of a virgin. Had our translators perceived this they might have avoided a mistake. For in the well-known prediction of Isaiah (Isa. vii. 14), as also in the quotation from it in the first chapter of Matthew (Matt. i. 23), they have adopted the rendering, "a virgin," in defiance of the original which has "the virgin" in both passages.1 They did not understand the meaning of the definite article, and, therefore, cut the knot of the difficulty by omitting it from their version. But Isaiah is evidently referring to the sentence passed upon the serpent, and speaks of the particular virgin who should be chosen as the human instrument for the fulfilment of God's purpose.
Thus Christ is the literal seed of the woman. But just as all those who wilfully deny the truth in ungodliness are the seed of the serpent, so there is also a seed that serves the Lord (Psalm xxii. 30), is accounted to Him for a generation, and reckoned as one with Him. He and His Church are one, He is the Head and they are the body: He and they together make up the mystical Christ.
And hence we see the enmity of which God spoke in the long vista of estrangement and bitter conflict between the Church and the World. We behold on the one side the alternations of malignant persecution and treacherous flattery ; on the other a patient endurance, and a rendering of blessing for cursing. Yet the part of the Church is not altogether confined to suffering, but is also continually aggressive. For the children of light are first found wandering among those that dwell in darkness: the lost sheep are ever straying into the midst of the wolves, and must be boldly sought and led out of danger by those who have been themselves rescued from similar perils.
1. [R.V., Isa. vii. 14 gives "the" in margin, and in Matt. i. 23 Puts " the" in text.]
But was there no hope : should the painful and ever-varying struggle go on for ever ? No, it should find its end at last : it should be decided after many years by a deadly conflict between the seed of the woman and the old serpent himself. Christ should bruise the serpent's head, should deal a mortal blow: not, however, before the serpent had bruised His heel, had wounded Him sore, but not fatally, not in a vital part.
Here, then, we have the germ of all prophecy respecting the two advents of Christ. In the bruising of the heel we recognize His first coming to suffer what appeared to be an utter defeat ; to find that His own would not receive Him; to endure the contradiction and insults of the serpent's seed ; to be rejected of His generation ; and finally, to lay down, His life and pass for a short season under the dominion of him that hath the power of death. And the bruising of the serpent's head is in after prophecies developed into the second coming of Christ, with power and great glory, to drive the false king from air and earth, and cast him bound into the abyss. Nay, it even looks beyond this and the post-Millennial rebellion to the final destruction of Satan and his consignment for ever to the Lake of Fire and Brimstone.
So far as God's words to the serpent are concerned the two great events which they foreshadow might have been almost simultaneous. And, indeed, throughout the Old Testament the advents are generally treated as if there were no interval between them. The Israelitish prophets beheld them in the remote future just as we might look upon some far-off mountain peaks, each more distant than the other, which from our first standpoint seem, indeed, to be very near together, but disclose as we journey on an ever-widening breadth of valley between them.
Such was the curse pronounced upon the serpent. And here we cannot but pause in amazement, and render thanks for the great mercy vouchsafed to the fallen parents of our race. God could not, indeed, give Adam a direct promise at a time when the man was waiting as a condemned criminal to receive sentence. Therefore His loving kindness devised the plan of first pronouncing judgment upon the serpent, and therein implying that the fallen should not sink hopelessly to the condition of their deceiver, but be set in sharp opposition to him ; until, after a painful struggle, the woman's conquering seed should bruise him under their feet, and make both the death from which they shrank, but must now undergo, and Hades the dread place of unclothed spirits, to pass away for ever (Rev. xx. 14). And so a bright ray of hope broke in through their despair, and they were strengthened to hear their own doom of woe.
Having thus passed sentence upon the Tempter the Lord next turned to the woman, who was the first to yield to temptation. For the general sin she was judged in her husband as being one with him; but, because she enticed him to transgress, she was to bear a special curse superadded to that which affected the whole human race. This is signified in the words, " I will greatly multiply thy sorrow " ; the force of which will be seen if we notice that Adam also is afterwards doomed to sorrow, the same Hebrew word being used in both cases.
Lastly, the Lord decrees the punishment of the man. Adam had excused himself on the ground that Eve was his tempter; and God begins by showing that this very fact increased the heinousness of his guilt. Had Eve sinned through the influence of her husband she would not have been without a plea ; for God had made her subject to him. But that Adam, whose duty as appointed head was to watch over, to restrain, to guide, and to rule, his wife-that he should so far forget his responsibilities as to follow her sinful suggestion, to obey her voice rather than God's, was a serious aggravation of his offence. Therefore the reason of the curse is, " Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it."
The sentence itself is not in the main a direct one, as in the case of the serpent, but strikes Adam through his surroundings. The earth, his dominion, is cursed; and in that fact we see a refutation of all those theories respecting the inherent evil of matter which figure so prominently in the early history of the nominal Church, and are now being revived by the sects of socalled Spiritualists. Evil proceeded, not from matter to spirit, but from spirit to matter. Adam was not cursed on account of the earth, which God had declared to be in itself very good; but the earth was cursed because of the sin of Adam, which again originated in the spirit of the Evil One. As a punishment for man's transgression the soil should be henceforth comparatively barren. It should no longer yield spontaneous abundance, but he should be compelled to force out of it, with heavy toil and in the sweat of his face, even the bare necessaries of life.
Nor would this be the end of the trouble. Earth should now be the parent of evil as well as good, and, teeming with thorns and thistles, should baffle and protract the labour of its tillers.
These noxious plants probably existed, though in very different condition, before the curse was pronounced; and then, owing to the sterility of the blighted earth, were no longer able to attain to their proper development and luxuriance, and so became what they are now found to be, abortions. The following remarks of Professor Balfour will illustrate this.
"In looking at the vegetable world in a scientific point of view, we see many evidences of the great plan upon which the all-wise Creator seems to have formed that portion of His works. At the same time there are many marks of what we may call, with reverence, incompleteness. Thus we see that there is in all plants a tendency to a spiral arrangement of leaves and branches, etc., but we rarely see this carried out fully, in consequence of numerous interruptions to growth and abnormalities in development. When branches are arrested in growth they often appear in the form of thorns or spines, and thus thorns may be taken as an indication of an imperfection in the branch.
" The curse which has been pronounced on the vegetable creation may thus be seen in the production of thorns in place of branches-thorns which, while they are leafless, are at the same time the cause of injury to man. That thorns are abortive branches is we'll seen in cases where, by cultivation, they disappear. In such cases they are transformed into branches. The wild apple is a thorny plant, but on cultivation it is not so. These changes are the result of a constant high state of cultivation, and may show us what might take place were the curse removed.
"Again ; thistles are troublesome and injurious in consequence of the pappus and hairs appended to their fruit, which waft it about in all directions, and injure the work of man so far as agricultural operations are concerned. Now it is interesting to remark that this pappus is shown to be an abortive state of the calyx, which is not developed as in ordinary instances, but becomes changed into hairs. Here, then, we see an alteration in the calyx which makes the thistle a source of labour and trouble to man. We could conceive the calyx otherwise developed, and thus preventing the injurious consequences which result to the fields from the presence of thistles.
"I have thus very hurriedly stated to you what occurred to my mind as to the curse of thorns and thistles, and I have endeavoured to show that the spines and hairs are abortive, and, so to speak, imperfect portions of plants. The parts are not developed in full perfection like what may have been the case in Eden, and like what will take place when the curse is removed."
Fit objects, then, are the thorn and the thistle to remind man of the curse. And keeping their origin in view we can see a deep significance in that awful scene when our Lord suffered Himself to be crowned with thorns, so that even His enemies set Him forth as the great Curse-bearer ; when He wore on His bleeding brow that which owed its very existence to, and was the sign of, the sin which He had come to expiate."
Lastly; man should no longer eat of the fruits of Paradise, but should henceforth find the staff of his fleeting life in the bread-producing herbs of the field, till he himself descended into that dust out of which he obtained his food: for dust he was, and unto dust he should return.
How did the impious vision raised by Satan vanish into blackness at these last words of terror, words which have sunk deeply into the heart of man, and ever rise to the surface when he finds himself in the presence of his God, or when he is brought low and his hopes perish! " Behold now," says Abraham, " I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes " (Gen. xviii. 27).
Hence, doubtless, the custom of bowing to the earth, and the feeling which prompted the casting of dust on the head, in time of bitter affliction, as a sign of broken pride and humble acknowledgment of the truth of the Creator's words. So Jeremiah says of the man who bears the yoke in his youth that " he putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope " (Lam. iii. 29). And in regard to the actual return to the dust, job mournfully declares of his hopes : " They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust " (job xvii. 16). Yet again he says of the prosperous and the miserable; " They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them " (job. xxi. 26).
But as it is to the dust that we go down at death, so it is from the dust that we arise at the resurrection. " Thy dead men shall live," is the wondrous proclamation by Isaiah, " together with My dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust : for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead " (Isa. xxvi. 19). And Daniel also tells us that, at the first resurrection, many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake (Dan. xii. 2). So, then, even the dust is a resting-place of hope for the people of God.
Thus was sentence pronounced. Upon the serpent the judgment was eternal; while the man and his wife were doomed to degradation and anguish, but not for ever. God then seems to have departed, the serpent probably slunk away, and Adam and Eve were left alone, like those who have just awakened from a dream of peace to find themselves pressed down and overwhelmed by every kind of misery and fear.
All around them, beyond the precincts of the garden at least, was changing. Earth was reeling under the first stroke of the curse : its flowers were fading, its fruits were blighted ; the former luxuriance of its vegetation could not be supported by the now sterile soil and vitiated atmosphere ; the living creatures that passed by no longer did homage to their appointed lord, but wore in their eyes the wild look of incipient savagery. Nay, the very sun-as we may, perhaps, infer from a previously quoted passage of Isaiah (Isa. xxx. 26)-seems to have withdrawn six-sevenths of its light ; so that although its beams may still have been as bright as ever they are to us, the distraught pair must have felt that the shadow of death had fallen upon their sickening world.
The darkness, literal and spiritual, of which Scripture so often speaks had set in ; that dread season during which the principalities and powers of evil are the world-rulers : that gross darkness which is only illumined by a few light-holders placed here and there in the gloom, whose spirits have been kindled by the Holy Spirit, so that they have become lamps of the Lord: that night of blackness and horror during which weeping must endure, till joy return with the morning: that night in regard to which Paul cheered those of his time with the assurance that it was even then far spent, the four thousand years which had already elapsed being much the greater part of it: that night into the breaking dawn of which the wise and faithful servants are now earnestly gazing in expectation of the appearing of their Lord as the bright and morning Star, before He rises in all His glory as the Sun of righteousness, and restores light and life to the beclouded and death-stricken earth.
Bewildered by these new sensations the fallen ones remained, perhaps, for a while mute in torpor of deep and overwhelming sorrow. But at length the light of faith began to steal over the softening countenance of Adam: he had laid hold of the implied promise : he had perceived God's mercy mingled with His judgment, had caught a glimpse of light beyond the darkness, and felt that there was yet hope in his end.
And so, taking up again the function of naming which God had bestowed upon him, he called his wife Eve , that is, Life ; because without cavil or doubt he frankly took God at His word, and believed that by the promised seed of the woman he and his posterity should be delivered from the death to which they had become liable, and live for ever. Thus, if any feeling of estrangement had arisen between the man and his wife, it was now removed; and being through the marvellous ways of the great Peacemaker again united in heart, they were better prepared to face the troubles before them.
Adam had professed a simple trust in God's promise, though he had but a dim apprehension of its meaning, and immediately we find the Lord returning to the mourners, and rewarding their faith by further mercy and further knowledge. He took away their coverings of fig leaves, and clothed them with coats of skins. Most significant was the action: for by it He testified that their shame was not groundless, that there was need of a covering, but that the best the sinners could make for themselves was of no avail. They were as yet unacquainted with corruption and decay, and knew not that the fig leaves would quickly wither and fall off, an apt emblem of every device which man has ever contrived to cover his shame and fit himself for the presence of his Maker. And beyond this, they must learn that only by life can life be redeemed ; that if the sinner die not, there must be a Substitute ; that the Most High is holiness and justice as well as love, and can by no means clear the guilty.
Now sacrifice as an expiation must have been ordained by God Himself. Man could never have thought of such a thing, or have dared in his worship to take the life of one of God's creatures, unless he had been commanded to do so. Probably, then, it was at this most appropriate time that the Lord instituted the rite as a type of the great sacrifice to come. He slew the victims, and as He shed their life-blood Adam and Eve for the first time gazed upon death with affrighted eyes. Then He showed them how to lay the carcases upon the altar, that they might be an offering made by fire unto the Lord. Finally He took the skins of the slain beasts, and made of them the coats with which He clothed the trembling pair.
Thus the Gospel was preached from the beginning : the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world was revealed -as soon as sin had made His death necessary : the robe of His righteousness, which may be put on by every sinner for whom He has died, was shown to be the only garment which will effectually cover the shame of fallen man. And, by comparing the promise of the woman's Seed and the bruising of His heel with the slain sacrifice and the coats made from the skins of the victims, Adam may have been at once able to discern the outline of the great plan of salvation.
But a precaution was now necessary. Man had obtained the knowledge of good and evil without the power of resisting evil. Therefore he must no longer remain in the beautiful garden, lest he should put forth his hand, take of the tree of life, and so render his state of sin everlasting. For to be immortal in his fallen condition would be the greatest of all calamities ; to continue in sin for ever would be nothing less than the second death. And it was only by passing through the first death that man could be restored to spotless innocence again.
Hence, after another solemn consultation of the Blessed Trinity, the sorrowful, but no longer hopeless, pair were expelled from the garden of beauty, and driven into the cold world to seek another home. With heavy hearts they wended their way amid the towering pyramids of green, brilliant with ruddy fruit or sprinkled with thick blossom. through the bright maze of flowers and verdure. until they had passed the great gate, which immediately closed behind them.
They stood without, exiled from their home, under a comparatively chilling climate, looking upon a vegetation which to them must have seemed stunted and deformed, no longer expecting their food directly from the bounteous hand of God, but doomed to labour for it with wearisome care and toil. Nor was there any hope of deliverance until they had returned to the dust from whence they came, until they had rendered up their spirits unto Him Who gave them, and left their mortal frames motionless and inanimate, even as the slain victims upon whose carcases they had lately gazed with shuddering awe.
And now the Garden of Eden disappears from view, and is scarcely ever mentioned again until we come to the last of the books of revelation. But in the Apocalypse it rises before us once more in all its pristine beauty, and we see the sons of Adam walking on the banks of the crystal stream, and no longer excluded from the tree of life.
How this happy restoration shall be effected is the subject of the whole Bible, which treats -as the significant fact just noticed indicates- of the dealings by which God conducts men round the painful circle from Paradise lost to Paradise regained.