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parents had. And all this argues nothing more, than that God may, if he pleases, in any state of the church, instruct them in those things, which their faith should be conversant about, in what way he pleases.
Object. 2. It is farther objected, that the tree of life was not designed to be a sacramental sign of the covenant, which our first parents were under, but rather, as was before observed, an expedient, to render them immortal in a natural way, inasmuch as when man was fallen, yet the tree of life had still the same virtue : Accordingly it is said, Lest he put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth out of the garden of Eden; and he drove out the man : and placed cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life, Gen. iii. 22, 23, 24. And some extend this objection so far, as that they suppose man did not eat of the tree of life before he fell, which, had he done, he would by virtue of his eating of it, have lived for ever, notwithstanding his sin : or if, as soon as he had fallen, he had had that happy thought, and so had eaten of it, he might, even then, have prevented death; and therefore God drove him out of paradise, that he might not eat of it, that so the curse, consequent upon his fall, might take effect.
Answ. The absurdity of this objection, and the method of reasoning made use of to support it, will appear, if we consider, that there was something more lost by man's fall, besides immortality, which no fruit, produced by any tree, could restore to him. And, besides, man was then liable to that curse, which was denounced, by which he was under an indispensable necessity of returning to the dust, from whence he was taken ; and therefore the tree of life could not make this threatening of no effect, though man had eaten of it, after his fall : But, since the whole force of the objection depends on the sense they put on the text before-mentioned, agreeable thereunto, the only reply that we need give to it is, by considering what is the true and proper sense thereof.
When it is said, God drove out the man, lest he shald eat of the tree of life, and live for ever; the meaning thereof is, as though he should say, Lest the poor deceived creature, who is now become blind, ignorant, and exposed to error, should eat of this tree, and think to live for ever, as he did before the fall, therefore he shall be driven out of paradise. This was, in some respect, an act of kindness to him, to prevent a mistake, which might have been of a pernicious tendency, in turning him aside from seeking salvation in the promised seed. Besides, when the thing signified, by this tree, was not to be obtained that way, in which it was before, it ceased to be a sacramental sign; and
therefore, as he had no right to it, so it would have been no
parents were forbidden to eat, upon pain of death, is called, The tree of knowledge, of good and evil. Though the fruit of this tree was, in itself, proper for food, as well as that of any other; yet God forbade man to eat of it, out of his mere sovereignty, and that he might hereby let him know, that he enjoyed nothing but by his grant, and that he must abstain from things apparently good, if he require it. It is a vain thing to pretend to determine what sort of fruit this tree produced : it is indeed, a commonly received opinion, that it was an apple tree, or some species thereof; but, though I will not determine this to be a vulgar error, yet I cannot but think it a groundless conjecture *; and therefore I would rather profess my ignorance as to this matter.
As to the reason of its being called the tree of knowledge, of good and evil; some have given great scope to their imaginations, in advancing groundless conjectures: thus the Jewish historian t, and, after him, several rabbinical writers, have supposed, that it was thus described, as there was an internal virtue in the fruit thereof, to brighten the minds of men, and, in a natural way, make them wise. And Socinus, and some of his brethren, have so far improved upon this absurd supposition, that they have supposed, that our first parents, before they ate of this tree, had not much more knowledge than infants have, which they found on the literal sense they give of that scripture, which represents them as not knowing that they were naked t. But enough of these absurdities, which carry in them their own confutation. I cannot but think, it is called the tree
* The principal argument brought to prove this, is the application of that scripture, to this purpose, in Cant. vii. 5. I raised thee up under the apple tree; there thy mother brought thee forth, as if he should say, the church, when fallen by our first parents eating the fruit of this tree, was raised up, when the Messiah wus first promised. But, though this be a truth, yet whether it be the thing intended, by the Holy Ghost, in that scripture, is uncertain. As for the opinion of those who suppose it was a fig-tree, as Theodoret, [Vid. Quest. xxviii. in Gen.] and some other ancient writers ; that has no other foundation, but what we read, concerning our first parents sewing fig leaves together, and making themselves aprons, which, they supposé, was done before they departed from the tree, their shume immediately suggesting the new cessity thereof. But others think, that whaterer tree it were, it certainly was not a fig-tree, because it can hardly be supposed but that our first parents, having a sense of guilt, as well as shame, would be afraid so much as to touch that tree, which had occasioned their ruin. Others conclude, that it was a rine, because our Suviour uppointed that wine, which the vine produces, should be used, in commeniorening his death, which removed the effects of that curse, which sin brought on the world: but this is a vain and trifling method of reasoning, and discovers what lengths some mens run in their absurd glosses on scripture.
Vid. Joseph. Antiquit. Lib. I. cap. 2.
of knowledge, of good and evil, to signify, that as man before knew, by experience, what it was to enjoy that good which God had conferred upon him, the consequence of his eating thereof would be his having an experimental knowledge of evil.
All that I shall add, concerning this prohibition, which God gave to our first parents, is, that, as to the matter of it, it was one of those laws, which are founded in God's arbitrary will, and therefore the thing was rendered sinful, only by its being forbidden; nevertheless, man's disobedience to it rendered him no less guilty, than if he had transgressed any of the laws of nature,
Moreover, it was a very small thing for him to have yielded obedience to this law, which was designed as a trial of his readiness, to perform universal obedience in all the instances thereof. It was not so difficult a duty, as that which God afterwards commanded Abraham to perforin, when he bade him offer up his son; neither was he under a necessity of eating thereof, since he had such a liberal provision of all things for his sustenance and delight; and therefore his sin, in not complying herewith, was the more aggravated. Besides, he was expressly cautioned against it, and told, that in the day that he eat of it, he should die ; whereby God, foreseeing that he would disobey this command, determined to leave him without excuse. This was that transgression by which he fell, and brought on the world all the miseries that ve ensued thereon.
QUEST. XXI. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at
first created him ? Answ. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their
own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God, in eating the forbidden fruit, and thereby fell from the state of innocency, wherein they were created.
N this answer,
I. There is something supposed, namely, that our first parents were endued with a freedom of will. This is a property belonging to man, as a reasonable creature ; so that we may as well separate understanding from the mind, as liberty froin the will, especially when it is conversant about things within its own sphere, and, most of all, when we consider man in a state of perfection, as to all the powers and faculties of his soul, as he was before the fall. Now, that we may understand what this freedom of will was, let it be considered, that it consisted. in a power, which man had, of choosing, or embracing, what VOL. II.
appeared, agreeably to the dictates of his understanding, to be good, or refusing and avoiding what was evil, and that without any constraint or force, laid upon him, to act contrary to the dictates thereof; and it also supposes a power to act pursuant to what the will chooses, otherwise it could not secure the happiness that it desires, or avoid the evil that it detests, and then its liberty would be little more than a name, without the thing contained in it.
Moreover, since the thing that the will chooses, is supposed to be agreeable to the dictates of the understanding, it follows, that if there be an error in judgment, or a destructive, or unlawful object presents itself, under the notion of good, though it be really evil, the will is, notwithstanding, said to act freely, in choosing or embracing it, in which respect it is free to evil, as well as to good.
To apply this to our present purpose, we must suppose man, in his state of innocency, to have been without
defect in his understanding, and therefore that he could not, when making a right use of the powers and faculties of his soul, call evil good, or good evil. Nevertheless, through inadvertency, the mind might be imposed on, and that which was evil might be represented under the appearance of good, and accordingly the will determine itself to choose or embrace it; for this is not inconsistent with liberty, since it might have been avoided by the right improvement of his natural powers, and therefore he was not constrained or forced to sin.
Now it appears, that our first parents had this freedom of will, or power to retain their integrity, from their being under an indispensible obligation to yield perfect obedience, and liable to punishment for the least defect thereof. This therefore, supposes the thing not to be in itself impossible, or the punishment ensuing unavoidable. Therefore it follows, that they had a power to stand ; or, which is all one, a liberty of will, to choose that which was conducive to their happiness.
This might also be argued from the difference that there is between a man's innocent and fallen state. Nothing is more evident, than that man, as fallen, is, by a necessity of nature, inclined to sin; and accordingly he is styled, a servant of sin, John viii. 34. or a slave to it, entirely under its dominion : but it was otherwise with him before his fall, when, according to the eonstitution of his nature, he was equally inclined to what is good, and furnished with every thing that was necessary to his yielding that obedience, which was demanded of him.
Is. It is farther observed, that our first parents were left to the freedom of their own will. This implies, that God did not design, especially, while they were in this state of probation, to afford them that immediate help, by the interposition of his providence, which would have effectually prevented their compliance with any temptation to sin; for that would have rendered their fall impossible, and would have been a granting them the blessing of confirmation, before the condition thereof was fulfilled. God could easily have prevented Satan's entrance into paradise; as he does his coming again into hcaven, to give disturbance to, or lay snares for any of the inhabitants thereof; or, though he suffered him to assault our first parents, he might, by the interposition of his grace, have prevented that inadvertency, by which they gave the first occasion to his victory over them. There was no need for God to implant a new principle of grace in their souls; for, by the right use of the fiberty of their own wills, they might have defended themselves against the temptation ; and had he given them a present intimation of their danger, or especially excited those habits of grace, which were implanted in their souls, at that time, when there was most need thereof, their sinful compliance with Satan's temptation would have been prevented : but this God was not obliged to do; and accordingly he is said to leave them to the freedom of their own wills. And this does not render him. the author of their sin, or bring them under a natural necessity of falling, inasmuch as he had before furnished them with sufficiency of strength to stand. Man was not like an infant, or a person enfeebled, by some bodily distemper, who has no ability to support himself, and therefore, if not upheld by another, must necessarily fail: but he was like a strong man, who, by taking heed to his steps, may prevent his falling, without the assistance of others. He had no propensity in nature to sin, whereby he stood in need of preventing grace; and God, in thus leaving him to himself, dealt with him in a way agreeable to the condition in which he was. He did not force, or incline him to sin, but left him to the mutability of his own will, according to the tenor of the dispensation which he was under.
III. It is farther observed, that there was an assault made on our first parents by Satan, not by violence, but by temptation; the consequence whereof was, that, by sinful compliance therewith, they fell from their state of innocency. It appears very evident, from scripture, that they were deceived, or beguiled, as Eve says, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat, Gen. iii. 13. And the apostle Paul speaks concerning it to the same effect; The woman being deceived, was in the transgression, 1 Tim. ii. 14. in which scripture, though it be said, in the foregoing words, that Adam was not deceived, probably nothing more than this is irtended, that the man was not first deceived, or not immediately deceived, by the serpent, but by his wife; though, indeed, some give another turn to that expression, and suppose that Adam sinned knowingly, being content to plunge