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the character of our first parents' sense of duty. Eve's whole system of ethics and theology is in the simple creed "God has said.” How he had said it mattered little. Eve had no vague incipient sense of duty, but a clear vision of the thing that ought to be, a creed, not of words perhaps, but of conviction that forbade certain things and enjoined certain others.
But there came a time when the natural appetites urge to excess or passion impels to lawlessness or ambition leads to selfishness. “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life"—as St. John puts it-are ever present to us and bring the necessity of choice between God's will and our desire. It may not be wrong to feel these promptings of our nature. It seems impossible that rational creatures should not have these experiences. We see, as Eve saw, that the forbidden fruit "was good for food and pleasant to the eyes and to be desired to make one wise." This furnished the occasion for temptation, a motive for doing wrong, an opportunity for the deceiver to present his arguments.
The serpent—which may mean the devil, or a devil, or the principle of evil—makes the suggestion that the effects of evil will not be so bad as we imagine, “Ye shall not surely die" and moreover the result will certainly give wider knowlege. "Your eyes shall be opened."
Here we have the story of every temptation. Human passions, appetites or ambitions urging on, conscience holding back, and the powers of darkness advocating the evil course and the human will exercising its peculiar power of choice,—then the outward act. “She took the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.”
The consequences of a choice are endless. Each free act frames the conditions under which the next choice is presented. The freedom of today becomes the fate of tomorrow.
The consequences of sin are many and of various kinds, but they follow a regular order. The first effect noted here is
shame; the next was fear; then cowardice, then evasion and insincerity. When innocence goes out shame comes in. Shame is an emotion which is peculiar to man. The brutes have no sense of shame for they have no moral sense. Holy angels know it not, for they have no occasion for it. Man is ashamed because he has done wrong, and yet retains the sense of obligation to do right; hence he is conscious of his degradation, sensible of his debasement. Man by his first transgression lost his innocence, but not his moral sense.
Shame is the kindly provision for our restoration. It should lead to repentance and to reform; but alas it is apt to lead through cowardice to evasion and hiding. "Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden." So man ever seeks to hide when he is ashamed. The trees of the garden, what are they but the activities of life? Who has not striven to hide from God and his own conscience by turning his mind to other things—any things, but his own past sins.
Lady Macbeth cries
"These things must not be thought
But man cannot escape from his creator. Soon or late man must give an account of himself to God. His laws are over us, around us and within. “Whither shall I fee from thy presence?” But not only do consequences of our sin force us to an account, and the laws of nature claim their retribution with inexorable certainty, but God calls man to the consideration of his conduct. Man is rational and moral. He looks before and after. By his providence and by his spirit God is calling continually to man "Come now, let us reason together."
And in his divine compassion he calls to us not in the heat and passion of our offense, but by the sober second thought, in the calm hour of reflection. “In the cool of the day they heard
the voice of the Lord God.” What a figure to express the sweet reasonableness of the Lord our God!
And there in the cool of the day God talks it over with Adam and Eve. He points out to them the inevitable consequence of their transgression. Sorrow, pain, oppression are the peculiar penalties which woman has had to bear as the consequence of human sin. Drudgery and unremitting toil—the very soil from which he must win his bread becoming stubborn and unfertile because of his sin. Such is man's special penalty. No better description could be given today of the curses under which the race has groaned and staggered all these centuries.
This the Lord God announces to the parents of the race, not in the tones of awful judgment, but in the kindly voice of sympathy and deep concern, “Like as a father pitieth his children.”
God made no new law, nor devised a penalty for fallen man. The very constitution of his nature, which he had from the beginning, provides all this. It is the necessary consequence of the violence done to his own nature. It is the fruit of his own conduct, the inevitable sequence of cause and effect.
All this is history and science. It is only a more perfect representation of that which experience and philosophy have discovered.
But there is something else, and something better, in this story of Eden. Something that philosophy could not have guessed nor prophecy have dreamed. It is gospel. This is the important revelation of this scripture.
“And the Lord God said to the serpent, Because thou hast done this thing thou art cursed"
"and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise its heel.” That is to say, God does not, will not, give over man to the friendship and alliance of evil. He places himself on man's side, imposes penalty on the serpent and predicts the
age-long conflict between man and evil, a conflict in which the race will indeed be wounded, but evil shall be destroyed.
The "seed of woman" seems to point to some descendent of Mother Eve, a person, not the race, but a son of man, who, though wounded should be victorious. A champion, who should suffer but triumph. It can hardly be other than he who "was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities,
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong because he hath poured out his soul unto death,
and he bear the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.”
So this wonderful allegory tells the story of temptationthe same in every age, experienced anew by each soul sprung from Mother Eve. It tells the story of the first transgression, precisely similar to all other faults of men. It tells of the direful consequence of that beginning of evil. It tells us what we might vaguely surmise by reading backward the page of history, but tells it in the unfading picture of inspired allegory, which amid all mutation and uncertainties of language stands eternal as the blue of the sky or the green of the meadows.
But all this would only deepen our despairing sense of utter hopelessness if it told only of man's fall. It would but confirm the judgment in history and philosophy that man is ruined and undone :—that the wages of sin is death.
Blessed be God, there is more here than the story of Paradise Lost. There is the sweet hope of Paradise regained. There is here the sunrise of a new day, the dawning of a day of battle, with the promise of an evening time of victory and everlasting peace.
THE CONFLICT OF GOOD AND EVIL
"Behold, this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions."
HE conflict between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman began at once. The incessant warfare between our evil desires and our better
impulses—the clashing of the "law of our members" and the “law of our mind” began in Eden, and has not yet ceased.
Man is sent forth from the garden of Eden and his life has been a life of toil and sorrow. It is not to be supposed that God made any new law, or interfered at all with the constitution of man to drive him out of Eden, but rather we suppose his nature to have been from the beginning just what it is today, and that the change in his environment was wholly due to the change in his character. The laws of our moral nature, like the laws of our physical nature carry their own penalties. Misery is the fruit of sin, as pain and disease are the fruit of disobedience to laws of our physical being. Both laws are from "the beginning." It is still sin that keeps us out of Eden and dooms us to a life of toil and misery. Partly our individual transgressions, partly the faults of our fathers, and partly the disordered condition of the whole race, create for us an environment and a condition fraught with misery. It is our sin which lays our heaviest burdens on us. The bounteous earth is capable of furnishing mankind abundantly all that is necessary to his comfort and well-being, and that with no mort labor than is wholesome and delightful; but our vices lay enormous taxes on us. It is the greed and lust and pride, the