The Fall of Adam
THE FALL OF ADAM
How very difficult must it be for an unbeliever to give any tolerable account of the first making of the world.
We find ourselves living on this globe of earth, but we none of us know (except so far as the Scriptures teach us) how it was formed, nor at what period of time. Has the earth been from everlasting? That seems impossible, for it cannot have made itself. Who made it then? The Scriptures tell us it was God. But at what time? About six thousand years ago, as we may gather from the Bible; and there are many reasons for thinking (though we will not here dwell on that point) that it is not unlikely to have existed about some such space.
We will now speak briefly of the manner in which the world was made, and then proceed to our main subject, which is, the formation of Adam and his fall.
“In the beginning,” says the Scripture, (that is, in the beginning of the history of our race) “God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form, and void, (that is, it was without regular shape or order) and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters. And god said, Let there be light, and there was light; and God saw the light that it was good: and God called the light, day, and the darkness called he night: and the evening and the morning were the first day.”
The world having been thus made and brought into order on the first day, God proceeded on the second to make the firmament, that is, the air or atmosphere, by which “he divided the waters, which were on the earth, from the watry clouds which were above it.”
On the third day (the earth having been as yet covered over with one universal sea), the waters were commanded to “gather themselves together into one place, so that the dry land might appear;” and at the same time the trees and herbs were created.
On the fourth day, God made those “two great lights; the fun, or the greater light, to rule the day, and the moon, or the lesser light, to rule the night. He made the stars also.”
On the fifth, all those living creatures, which either swim in the sea, or fly in the air, were called into existence.
And on the sixth, the cattle and living things which walk or creep on the earth.
And now, last of all, was made man, the lord of this wonderful creation.
There was evidently a plan in this procedure of the Almighty. The earth was first made, and next the animals, and then man; just as a house is first built and set in order, and then the inhabitant walks into it.
But let us here take notice of the manner in which the makin gof man is spoken of. When God made the light, he said merely, “let there be light, and there was light.” When he made the beasts, he said only, “let the earth bring forth the living things after its kind;” but when man was about to be created, the Almighty is represented as saying, “let us make man in our image, and after our likeness;” and it is added, “let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all earth. So god created man in his own image; in the image of god created he him; male and female created he them.”
What a being of dignity then is man! He was created in the very image of his Maker, and after his likness! The powers of thought, of reason, of imagination, and of memory, are wonderful powers: they are possessed by the Creator in their perfection, and they have been communicated in a suitable degree to man the creature also, though not in like manner to the brutes. Let it then be remembered, that all these bespeack the divine original of man. But that remarkable expression, of his being “made in the image of God,” seems also evidently to imply, that man was at first made like to God, in respect to purity and holiness. The devils, no doubt, prosses much of those powers of reason and thought, and imagination and memory, which were spoken of; and if man, while he was endowed with these, had been created in a state of wickedness, he might then more properly have been said to be made in the likeness of the devil, than in the holy likeness of his Creator. God then made man upright. When our first forefather came out of his Creator’s hands, he was pure and holy like Him that made him. “He was created,” as the apostle expresses I, “after the image of God in rightteousness and true holiness.”
Here let my readers stop to contemplate the pleasing subject of this fair creation of God. We read that God now “ looked down on every thing which he had made, and behold it was very good;” that is, every thing answered the end for which it was created, and every thing was perfect in its kind. The earth was not that disordered place, which since the fall it has become. The herbs and the trees yielded freely their increase. Blight, and mildew, and famine, and scarcity, and poverty, and want, were as yet unknown. Death had not yet entered with its attendant train of sorrows, sickness and pains. Adam and his partner Eve dwelt peacefully in the garden of Eden, which they were employed to cultivate. All nature smiled around them, and was drest, not doubt, in its most beautiful attire. Every thing was exactly suited to afford them happiness; and this favored pair, without angry passions, without undue selfishness, without anxiety or distrust, and without murmur or complaint, enjoyed the good which God had given them, and lived in favor wit their Maker.
But we have now to describe a most melancholy change in their condition. It had pleased the all-wife Creator, when he made man, to appoint a certain trial for him, which was meant to serve, no doubt, as a test of his love and obedience. His trial consisted in his being forbidden to eat of one tree standing in the middle of the garden of Eden, which was called, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, while the fruit of all the rest of the trees might be freely eaten.
We have all of us our trials somewhat in the same manner now; thus, for instance, we may eat the food which is our own, and which is wholesome for us; we may take the rest which is necessary to refresh the body; we may indulge our natural affections and inclinations in the manner which God has ordained; but then we must not carry any thing to excess; and there are a number of things which we must in no case do. Oh! Let us remember when we see some forbidden pleasure within our reach, that we are not to touch it; but that it is placed there for the trial of oru faith, just as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was placed within the fight of Adam’s eye, and within the reach of his arm.
“And God said to Adam, In the day that thou eatest thereof thous shalt surely die.”
The Scriptures proceed to tell us, that Eve was first tempted by the serpent, (namely, by the devil, as is commonly supposed) who said to her, in direct contradiction to God, that if she and her husband should eat of the forbidden fruit,”they should not die, but should become as gods, knowing good and evil.”—“She then seeing that the fruit was fair, and much to be desired to make one wife, gathered some of it, and gave it to her husgand, which he did eat.”
Oh! Wretched Adam, how art thou now fallen! Thous hast believed the enemy of god, instead of god himself, being tempted to this crime by her who made to be a help-meet for thee! How is thy gold become dross, and thine honor line in the dust, and thy glory departed from thee!
Adam, by this act, renounced his allegiance to God, and broke the condition on which the favor of his Maker had been suspended; and, therefore, the curse which had been threatened remained now to be executed—“In the day that thou eatest thereof, it has been said, thou shalt surely die.” Those words must necessarily be understood to imply, that he should forfeit his natural life, and be deprived of that happy state of existence, which, while obedient, he was intitled to enjoy; and that, instead of this, he should come under the curse of God. Here also the New Testament comes in aid, and teaches us that “sin having thus entered the world, and death by sin, death in this manner passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; and that through this one man, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.”
Thus did Adam fall; by aiming to be as God, he lost even his former rank as man, and by wickedly listening to the temptation of the devil, he appears to have become a sharer in his guilt, and consequently also in his condemnation.
Soon after this event, our first parents are described as ashamed to meet the eye of God when he appeared to them, as he was wont to do, in the garden; they hid themselves among the trees, and said that they had felt ashamed, because they were naked. Sin and shame, it may be remarked, entered into the world together.
“And the Lord God said, Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thous shouldst not eat? And th eman said, the woman whom thoug gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
It seems as if Adam, by his expression, meant partly to cast the blame on God who had given him the woman that had proved his tempter, and he certainly casts the blame partly on Even, while she in the same self-justifying spirit, replies to God, when he charges her with the guilt. “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.”
Our first parents, as we may plainly see, were now become poor guilty sinners; they were disposed to palliate and justify their crime, and thus to add sin to sin, just as is the way with all wicked people now. They also became, after this time, full of the dread of God, instead of the love of Him, and disposed to say to Him, as Peter did to our Saviour when first called to by Him, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Oh Lord.”
God immediately proceeds to pronounce the following curse on them, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and they desire shalt be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”—“And unto Adam he said, Because thou has hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is sthe ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the seat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou retunr.” “And the Lord sent him forth from the land of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.”
Such is the history of the fall; and O how has iniquity ever since prevailed in the world. Cain, the first born son of Adam, became the murderer of his brother. The whole eart is said, presently after, to have been “filled with violence.” “God looked down on the children of men, to see if there were any that were righteous, but all flesh had corrupted his way before the Lord, and every imagination of man’s heart was only evil continually, insomuch that the Almighty is said (speaking after the manner of men) to have grieved him at his heart, and to have repented that he had made man.”
After bearing with the rebellious offspring of Adam for about two thousand years, it pleased God to drown the world with a flood, the family of Noah alone being exepted, who was found righteous. The great cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were, after this, destroyed for their wickedness; and so were Tyre and Sidon in still later times.
In order that true religion might be maintained, at least among one people, God separated to himself the single nation of the Jews, and made a covenant with them, and gave them his laws, and wrought many miracles among them. But so corrupt is every where the nature of man, that even the Jews provoked him to wrath, and proved rebellious and unbelieving.
At length, it pleased God, in his infinite mercy, to send into this lost and ruined world, his Son Jesus Christ, as he had foretold he would do, even at the very time of the fall of Adam; for when that curse, which has been already spoken of, was denounced, God who, in the midst of judgment, remembers mercy, was pleased to declare, that “the feed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head;” a promise which implied, that one sprung from the woman should come to destroy the power of the serpent, or evil spirit, and to triumph over him.
The Jews had become so wicked, at the time of Christ, that, instead of welcoming him as their Saviour, they even put him to death. Having thus filled up the measure of their iniquities, their city was taken, and trodden down of the Gentiles, their people were led captive, or destroyed, and they have become a by-word and a proverb among the nations unto this day, as had been foretold.
But have, then the other nations of the world been better than the Jews? No, the heathens around them were so wicked and abominable, that the Jews were ordered to cut them off. And even since the publishing of Christinaity in the world, how has wickedness prevailed! Read whatever history you will, you will read an account of little else than the vices and follies of our race. What a wicked world is it that we live in at this hour! How different from that peaceful, happy paradise, which was just now described! Well may it be said, that “the thorn and the thistle have grown up in it.” Every where, alas! we see proofs of the fall; for what are all the present wars among nations, together with the bloody revolutions which take place in states; what are all the conflicts for power among the great, and all the complaining and repining among persons of low degree; what are the feuds and quarrels in private families; what the malice and evil speaking, the fraud and lying, the impurity and the drunkenness, the irreligion and prophaneneess, as well as the corruption even of Christianity itself—what are all these but so many consequences of the fall of Adam, and so many proofs of that corrupt nature which has descended to all his children.
And as the world has become sinful, no wonder that it has become miserable also. It is distresed, at this day, with so many evils, because it haas so much that is offensive to God in it. It is on part of his appointment, that men’s own evil passions shalls be a plague both to themselves and to each other. Death also has been sent into the world; for ever since the days of Adam, that sentence has been executing, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” And what sorrows and diseases have been brought in together with death! What pangs of the dying, what affliction for the surviving friends! And above all, what terrors of conscience, and what a melancholy foreboding of a day of future judgment afflict our guilty race!
The story we have now told of the fall of man, and of the corruption which has followed from it, stands in the first pages of our Bible; it leads the way to all Christian truth, and without it all our other religious knowledge will be of little use. But how shall we ever learn the necessity of any change in our character and condition, unless we first know, that the natural state in which we find ourselves, as children of Adam, is altogether fallen, and corrupt. “They that are whole,” says our Saviour, “need not a physician; but they that are sick.”—“I come not to call the righteous, (that is them that think themselves righteous), but sinners to repentance.” We must know that we are sinners, or we shall never repent and receive the gospel; just as a man must know that hs is sick, or he will never go to the physician for his cure. “We must be born again;”—we have “an old man” within us, which must be put off; and we must put on that “new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
I know that many are not aware, that there is this natural corruption in them; but the reason of it is, that they have not examined carefully the scriptures, nor observeed sufficiently the evil that is in the world, whose fashions, probably, they follow, nor looked strictly into their own hearts. Such persons, in short, have no just discernment of right and wrong, and are far from judging every thing to be evil which God judges to be so. I say, therefore, let these people study the scriptures. Other books vanish over the sins of men, and flatter the world that it is better than it is; for the writers of them partake in the common blindess and corruption: but the scriptures, which are the word of God, and which were written by men who were moved by the Holy Ghost alone, speak the truth. The scriptures give the true picture.—They relate the history of the world, and the history they give, is little else than the history of that controversy, which God has had with man ever since the fall of our first parent. Nay, the Bible, even in describing the best of men, describes them as acknowledging their own natural corruption, and as saying, with one voice, that they were “born in sin, and shapen in iniquiry,” and that they “were by nature children of wrath, even as others.”
But above all, let those, who are not aware of the corruption of their own nature, study the law of God. Let them examine themselves by each of the ten commandments, explained as our Saviour has taught us to explain them, and as will be made to appear in some of the following tracts. The study of the law of God will not fail, unless we are wilfully blind to teach us the same lesson which the fall of Adam, and which the history of the world, both ancient and modern, unite to teach us; I mean the sinfulness of our present nature, and the necessity which thence arises for that redemption, which has been providef for us by Jesus Christ our Lord. For let no one complain, and the doctrine of the fall is gloomy and uncomfortable; Christ has taken away the gloom of it through the lively hopes, and through all the means of grace which he sets before us in his gospel; for Christ is the second Adam. As Adam brought upon us the curse, so Christ has come down to us with the blessing; and “as in Adam will die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—“The first man was from the earth earthy, the seond was the Lord from heaven;” and, therefore, if we are Christians, we may joyfully say, that “as we have borne the image of earthy, so also shall we bear the image of the heavenly.
In all our religious inquiries, let us, therefore, be sure that we take this knowledge of the fall for our foundation, and then we shall proceed safely, and build securely; whereas, they who set out in religion with the vain notion of the natural goodness of their hearts, do but deceive themselves.
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