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THE THREE GARDENS:
1.—The Garden of Eden : Innocence, THREE gardens, and only three, are mentioned in the Bible; and with these the greatest events in man's history and in God's revelation of Himself stand associated. The first of the three is the garden of Eden. The story of this garden-of which we find echoes and lingering memories in the traditions of every nation—is told in the second and third chapters of Genesis. I do not mean to attempt an exposition of these chapters, which suggest-indeed, almost force upon us—some of the deepest and most baffling questions with which the human mind can deal: I would simply indicate in outline what the chapters set forth-how man was made in the image and likeness of God, how by one deadly act he passed into the rebel's place, and how the dawn of mercy broke upon him ere he was driven forth from Paradise-leaving alone all inquiries into the date and order of creation, evolution, God's purpose and man's freedom, the origin of evil, and kindred matters. I do not agree with those who would get rid of the letter, resolving it into a mere allegory, like the “ Pilgrim's Progress." It may be written in hieroglyphics, but it claims to be historic. I take up the story just as the Book of Genesis tells it. If we adopt any different method, we shall probably find ourselves led, under the guidance of fancy, into the region of fable, in company with Greek, Egyptian, and Hindoo.
We are at once taken back in thought to the commencement of human history, and placed down in the country called Eden, or Delight. Where this country was situated, and what were its boundaries, the record does not set forth. A distinct locality was evidently present to the writer's mind, which, at the time he wrote, it was presumed the reader would at once think of, or at least be able to discover. General consent has fixed it somewhere in Western Asia. It need scarcely be added that the Eden of Genesis is not to be confounded with the Eden of 2 Kings xix. 13, or Amos i, 5.
Eastward in this region—as Kalisch says, “ in the region of light, where the sun sends his first and purest rays, in that region with which the notions of joy and splendour were naturally associated”the Lord God planted a garden, or, as the Septuagint translates, a paradise. Whether He prepared it by the slow operations of nature,
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or otherwise, we are not told. Its extent could not be great, being limited by the ability of a single pair to dress and keep it. In this garden there grew “ every tree that is good for food and pleasant to the eyes; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the treo of knowledge of good and evil.” Of these two mysterious trees, the former secured continuance of life, while the latter would bring experimental knowledge of good and evil through eating of its fruit. Thus God symbolised the way of life and the way of misery and death, and exhibited His sovereignty in the most vivid manner to man's apprehension.
The garden was watered by a river which " went out of Eden " for the purpose, either as Egypt is made fruitfal by the overflow of the Nile, or as a garden is irrigated by watercourses and rills led through it. " From thence”-outside Eden or outside the garden, it is impossible to determine which—this river was parted in four heads, by which I understand not the lower streams but the upper. The names of the rivers which, when united, watered the garden, were the Pison, compassing the auriferous region of Havilah; the Gihon, compassing the land of Cash, or Ethiopia ; the Hiddekel, or Tigris, rushing swift as an arrow; and the Euphrates. Among the almost countless theories respecting the site of the garden there are two, between which, I think, we must choose as the two most probable. One is that it lay in the highlands of Armenia, where the Euphrates, Tigris, Halys, and Araxes have their source. The objection to this theory is that the sources of these rivers are separated by mountain ranges, and that they could never have formed a single stream or water-system fertilising a garden. The other theory takes into account that within historic times the rivers which send their waters into the Persian Gulf have considerably altered their course, and assumes that if we knew the ancient channels of the Kuran or Pasitigris, Kerkbab or Choaspes, Tigris, and Euphrates, we might fix the site of Paradise somewhere near their janction. According to this theory, " Ethiopia” would be the country of the Cushite tribes, bounded southward by the Kerkhah, and “ Havilah," a Semitic land on the Persian side, toward the “ gorgeous East” that
“With richest hand Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold.” * In this garden the first human pair, the progenitors of our race, are found. The work of creation has culminated in man, whom the Lord
* In “ Notes on the Site of the Terrestrial Paradise," read at the meeting of the British Association in Liverpool, September, 1870, Sir H. Rawlinson identifies Eden with that region which was the cradle of the Hebrew nation, namely, near Ur of the Chaldees, on the lower Euphrates. In another paper read at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, “ On the Identification of the Biblical Cities of Assyria, and on the Geography of the Lower Tigris,” Havilah is shown to be one of four cities successively built below the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris, to serve as commercial emporia,