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in Lewin-road, Streatham, London. pastorate at Warwick, having acThe Rev. H. C. Leonard, M.A., on cepted the position of Secretary to account of the continued illness of the Metropolitan Tabernacle and a member of his family, has re- the Pastors' College. signed his pastorate at Bournemouth and Boscombe, Hants, of WE regret to announce the death which church the Rev. G. P. Gould, of the Rev. R. E. Bradfield, of M.A., is now sole pastor. The Rushden, Northamptonshire, at the Rev. E. Thomas, on account of ill- age of sixty-one; also of the Rev. J. health, has resigned the pastorate W. Morgan, formerly pastor of the of the church in Walters-road, church at Bridlington, Yorkshire, Swansea. The Rev. E. Balmford at the age of seventy-seven; also of has resigned his pastorate at Man- the Rev. F. Covell, of Providence chester-street, Oldham. The Rev. Chapel, Croydon, at the age of C. H. Thomas has resigned his seventy-one.
OUR DE VOMINATIONAL LITERATURE,
The Baptist Newspaper. London: Elliot Stock, 61, Paternoster Row.
WE rejoice to notice the vigour and ability with which this favourite organ of the denomination is sustained. We were amongst those who gladly hailed its appearance; for, as regards the circulation and influence of existing organs, the Churches were practically unrepresented, and we could not but be gratified, therefore, at the steady progress it has continued to make, and the valuable helper it has proved in every good word and work. The denomination owes not a little to it, and particularly our pastors and Church officers. We have ever noticed that the reading Church-the Church, that is, that can be got to take an intelligent interest in all that is passing in the denomination is precisely the Church that honours its chosen leaders, and does with the whole heart whatever service the Master may commit to its care. To all our readers, therefore, we say, See to it that The Baptist not only finds a place in your own families, but is introduced everywhere where you are able to bring your influence to bear. It is our ideal family newspaper. Strong in its leading articles, and uncompromising, though courteous, in its denominational tone, it also finds a place for all those matters that have a special interest and charm for every member of the Christian family. It is published weekly, price one penny, and may be ordered through all booksellers. Our wealthier members could hardly exert their influence to better purpose than in purchasing copies for distribution amongst our Sunday-school teachers, Church members, and congregations generally, at this the commencement of a new year.
THE THREE GARDENS:
II.—The Garden of Eden : The Fall. Of the mysteries that surround us, the most awful and oppressive is the mystery of sin. Given a good and almighty God, given a universe created by Him with no wrong bias, how could evil originate in that universe ? The mystery has at once fascinated, bewildered, baffled, and tortured the human intellect in the past, ar'd every new generation of thinkers repeats the experience of the generations that went before. Is there only one God? Is there not an Ahriman as well as an Ormuzd ? If there is only one God, is He really almighty? Is there nothing evil or imperfect in His own nature ? Is evil not really evil, but only the unripe and therefore still bitter fruit? Is evil the only pathway to the highest good? Is its existence necessarily involved in the very conception of human freedom ? Is it fore-ordained and necessitated in the Divine plan ? If evil is really evil, and God not its anthor, how did it first begin ? Whence came the first impulse ? Or is it absolutely causeless and reasonless ? Attempts without number have been made some of them almost sublime-to solve the mystery; but every solution yet proposed contains in it the original difficulty, Here, if anywhere in the Bible account of the Fall-We expect some mitigation of the darkness; instead of which the existence of evil is simply thrown farther back and outside the human race, apparently into the lower and bestial world, and the mystery of its first beginning is left in obscurity as deep as ever, with the figure of a dread spiritual Foe lurking back in the shadow. And we have to end all our speculations and debates with the reflection, " Ah! think now of the infinite God looking down all this time on our babblings in the dark."!
The story of the Fall is told as to a child, and we shall understand it best if we listen to it with child-ear and child-mind. There was & serpent in Eden, the story runs; and this serpent was more subtle or crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. Many animals were endowed with wonderful sagacity, but the serpent went beyond them all. This serpent becomes the tempter, and initiates the sin and misery, the woe and wailing and despair, which have since overspread the earth. To our first parents, it is only a “beast of the field” that appears. There is no hint that they were aware, either at the time or afterwards, of any other personality con
VOL. XXIII. N.S. II.
cealed behind that of the serpent, or of any connection with a dark world already in existence; and it is not till we come to the Book of the Revelation that we read in plain terms of " that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world." All that is apparent is that a creature, which God has made and placed in Paradise in subjection to man, becomes man's tempter and destroyer.
The story exhibits in the simplest and most graphic manner all the elements of temptation that we find in the sphere of human life to-day. The aim of the temptation is to undermine faith in God-faith in His goodness, love, and truth. If this can be done, man is ruined. This will be found to lie in the heart of all temptation—whether it be appotite, passion, ambition, or self-love that is appealed to. A man's faith is the living root of heaven or hell. That awful tragedy, the Fall, came about through man giving up faith in God and believing a lie.
One day, after what lapse of time we cannot tell, this couning serpent, finding Eve alone in the garden, away from her husband, and near the forbidden tree, begins to speak to her. If you ask how & serpent could speak, I cannot tell. To-day the serpent can only hiss, and no serpent known can make the least articolate sound. And if you say fartber, Must not Eve have wondered to hear a serpent speak, or exchange thoughts with her in any way whatever? I would answer, Not as you or I would wonder. For we most bear in mind that the world was new to her, and one thing could scarcely be more surprising than another. How the conversation was conducted is not the really important matter, but the process by which Eve was led to believe a lie—and that is very clearly shown.
There is no attempt to carry the fortress by a sudden assault or coup de main ; on the contrary, the stealthy enemy approaches in the friendliest manner. Eve could have no suspicion beforehand. First comes a question as if for information, but so put as to suggest strange and new, if not hard, thoughts of God: “ Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden ?" The question, though very innocent-looking, is subtle in the highest degree. It entirely passes over God's great goodness, of which so full proof had been given. It is intended to create doubt in the woman's mind respecting God, and to lead her to question and judge His action. In particular it suggests doubt of His love, and hides a lie in its heart. It is a deadly enemy coming in the gaise of a friend, and saying, I have heard an incredible rumour; I have heard that God has placed you under restriction in eating of the fruit that is in the garden, and I have come to ascertain the matter of fact; for if it be matter of fact, Gud must be different from what you have been taking Him for. The craft of the question is in its underhand suggestion of doubt. A question in itself perfectly innocent may be asked in such a tone of voice, with arched eyebrows and incredulous shrug and air of knowingness, that it shall have more influence for ill than any argument. More poison by far can be put into a question than into a direct affirmation. To say the least, it is
the most effective of all modes of instilling doubt, and the most difficult to meet; because the questioner, if challenged, can always turn round and say, I only asked.
The woman's answer is somewhat vehement, and is, besides, too long: “ 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 yo touch it, lest ye die.” God had not said, “Neither shall ye touch it;" that is the woman's addition to the Divine word; death was not to follow touch. The very vehemence with which she speaks seems to indicate that the temptation is beginning to take effect, and that she is beginning to yield. A calmer answer need not have carried less energy and decision in it; and would have shown more faith-more sense of God's perfect love-as to-day the very passion with which sceptical attacks on the gospel are repelled frequently betokens conscious or unconscious weakness of faith. We might, however, have attributed the vehemence to zeal for God; but the answer is also too long. It is neither right nor safe to “parley" with the devil; and the fact that Eve does so indicates an element of irresolution in her mind. If she must speak, a simple Yea would have been better. " Who hesitates is lost.”.
The tempter follows up his advantage. Ear-gate is opened to bim ; through that gate he now makes one bold assault on the very citadel. Speaking as your friend (he would say), you have been deceived. " Ye Eball not surely die " (or, as Coverdale translates, Tush, ye shall not die the death); “ for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” If there was craft in the question, there is audacity in these assertions. First, the penalty is denied. In the day ye eat thereof ye shall surely die," is God's word. No, says the tempter, ye shall not die : whence it follows not merely that it is safe enough to disobey, but also that God is false. Instead of dying, says the tempter, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be equal to God Himself, knowing good and evil : that is the heritage that you are excluded from. It reminds as of the devil's promise to Jesus of “ all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.” God doth know all this, says the tempter, and therefore it is that He has forbidden"you to eat of the fruit of this tree. He is selfish ; He does not love you ; He merely desires to keep His own supremacy ; He is false, and has issued a threat (brutum fulmen) which He cannot or does not mean to carry out. Such is the tempter’s lie, in which all lies against God are condensed. He begins by removing fear of the threatened penalty ; then denies God's love and goodness; then represents Him as selfishly and jealously false. He never once bids Eve pluck and eat. There is no advice or urgency or pressure ; ah, the tempter knows better where his power lies; it is enough if he succeeds in subverting her faith and lodging his falsehood in her heart! That being accomplished, his work is done, and all is lost.
And all is lost. The woman stretched forth her hand, and plucked of the fruit, and did eat. Did she pause for a space before doing so ? or did she put forth her hand hastily, in a hurried and awful venture ? The narrative would rather suggest the former. She saw-probably from some showing of the tempter, by which her gaze was fixed-she saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, that it was a tree to be desired to make one wise ; one can see her slowly stretch forth her hand to pluck and eat; and then she gave to her husband and he too did eat. This simple narrative, as has been remarked, embodies truths which neither philosophy nor experience has been able to modify or to enlarge. The deed of our first parents is one of the deepest spiritual significance. Without the apology of passion or pressure of supposed necessity, they have separated themselves from God, and dared Him to do His worst. The fatal step is taken ; the Rubicon is passed ; and from hence there is no return into the ectate of happy innocence. The earthly Paradise is lost for over. The life of humanity is poisoned at the very fountain-head. And we do not wonder when by and by we read, “ God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually : and it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart."
" She took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.” What followed? Shame, fear, hiding from God, self-justification, and blame thrown on others. Shame: their eyes were opened-ah, how differently from their expectations and they knew that they were naked, and for covering these “would-be " gods sowed fig-leaves together for aprons. Fear : their guilty consciences have forebodings of the threatened “ death,” none the less terrible because they are vague and undefined ; the voice of the Lord God among the trees of the garden, that had formerly been hailed with delight, now awakens dread and trembling. Hiding from God: instead of going forth to meet Him, the guilty pair lurk for concealment amidst the thick garden foliage, in trembling anxiety lest they should be discovered and punished. Self-justification : it was not I; it was the woman : it was not I; it was the serpent : trying to clear themselves by throwing the blame somewhere else. All this is the natural result of sin; and men are doing to-day just what our first parents did.
Two other consequences also follow--both of them, however, associated with mercy : for one thing, man shall henceforth extract his food, in sorrow and toil, from out the ground, until he return to the dust whence he was taken: and for another thing, he is driven forth from Paradise, and the entrance is guarded, to prevent all return, by cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.
Where is God all the while that this tragedy is being enacted ? Why