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THE WIVES OF THE PATRIARCHS.
Eds Note: It should be recognised at this point that the Jews as a whole do not understand the true state of the dead as revealed in the Bible, but believe in an "immortal" soul which exists apart from the body (like most professed Christians). This writers comments should be read with this in mind.
(The headings, the words in square brackets, and the coloured emphasis have all been supplied by the editor)
The creation of the man
The last and mightiest work of creation was completed. Man, in his angelic and immortal beauty, stood erect and perfect, fresh from the hand of his Creator; lord and possessor of the new-formed world. Though formed of the dust, earth had not, as in the case of the inferior animals, brought him forth. Destined from the first to be made in the image of God, that is, to possess an emanation of the spiritual essence, and so become a living and immortal soul the shrine of so glorious a possession was created by God Himself. And God created him, He did not call him forth.
For man, the beautiful creation already wrought was not sufficient; and He planted a garden eastward in Eden, filling it with every tree that was pleasant for the sight, and good for food animate and inanimate creation brought together by the Eternal in one beautiful and perfect whole. Nor was this all: endowed with capabilities of love, happiness, and wisdom, as much above the other animals as the angelic nature is to man, still he needed more for the perfection of his felicity; and God in His infinite mercy provided for that want.
The creation of the woman
It is not good for man to be alone, the Eternal said; I will make him a help meet [fit] for him.
And therefore woman was created, and brought unto man, who received her as the Eternal in His mercy had ordained, a being beloved above all others, whose gentler qualities and endearing sympathy should soften his rougher and prouder nature, and help him in all things meet for an immortal being.
The whole creation had had its origin in that Omnific [lifegiving] Love which CREATED TO ENJOY called out of darkness and chaos a world teeming with life and beauty, that innumerable sources of happiness might spring forth from what had before been nought; but womans creation was a still greater manifestation of love than all which had gone before it.
She was created, not only to feel happiness herself, but to make it for others; and if that was design of her existence in Eden, how deeply should we feel the solemn truth, that it is equally so now; and that woman has a higher and holier mission than the mere pursuit of pleasure and individual enjoyment; that to flutter through life without one serious thought or aim, without a dream beyond the present moment, without a feeling higher than temporal gratification [earthly pleasure], or an aspiration rising beyond this world, can never answer the purpose of her divine creation, or make her a help meet for man.
Nor is it to wives only this privilege is accorded. Mother or sister, each has equally her appointed duty to endeavour so to help and influence man, that her more spiritual and unselfish nature shall gradually be infused into him, and, raising him above mere worldly thought and sensual pleasures, compel him to feel that it is not indeed good for man to be alone, but that woman may still fulfil the offices of help and love for which alone she was created.
The mind of the woman
Although the Mosaic record of mans residence in Paradise is mournfully brief, we have sufficient Scriptural authority for lingering a little while on Eves innocent career. Placed in a garden with every capability of felicity [happiness] within herself nature, meditation, commune with the Almighty in thanksgiving, or with Him direct, through the Voice which revealed the invisible presence, the sweet blessed intercourse of kindred spirits, springing from the love she bore to and received from her husband simple and imperfect as such sources of enjoyment may appear, they were more exquisite, more perfect, than we can dream of now.
The spirit which God had breathed within man when he became a living soul was the likeness or image of God in which made He man; and this spirit, or essence, enabled both Adam and Eve to commune in close and beatified intercourse with the glorified Creator whence that essence sprung. No sin could fling its dark shade between the soul and its God, and so deaden spiritual joy. Nought of doubt could stagnate the love which must have been excited in their hearts towards their Father and their God. All around and within them bore such impress of His hand, as to excite nought [nothing] but gratitude and devotion.
If even now, when once we have realized the love of God and submission to His will when once we can so put our trust in Him as to give Him all our heart, and come to Him in sorrow and in joy, convinced that He knows and loves us better than ourselves we experience a peace, a blessedness no earthly tempests can remove: how thrice [three times] blessed must have been the felicity [happiness] of Eve!
Apart from the spirit which the Eternal gave to lead man to Himself, was the MIND which opened to the creatures formed in His image the inexhaustible resources of wisdom, imagination, knowledge all that could create that higher kind of happiness, which is synonymous with mental joy.
Sources of what is now termed wisdom, that of books and man, were indeed unknown to our first parents; nor did they need them. In the wonders of creation, the tree, the herb, the flower, the gushing rivers, the breezy winds; nay, from the mighty form of the largest beasts, to the structure of the tiniest leaf; the flow of the river to the globule of the dew, which watered the face of the whole earth, there was enough to excite and satisfy their mental powers; enough to excite emotions alike of wonder and adoration. Their commune with the angelic messengers of their benevolent Creator, their tidings of heaven and its hosts, must have excited the highest and purest pleasures of imagination, and so diversified and lightened the mental exercises of wisdom, which the palpable and visible objects of creation so continually call forth.
The heart of Eve
Nor was spiritual and mental felicity the only portion of Eve the affections, the impulses of the heart, fresh from the creating Hand of Love, had full play created, as the perfecting finish to mans happiness, beholding him, the lord of all on which she gazed earth formed to yield him her fruits water and air, to unite for his refreshment every animal obeying his authority instinctively feeling, too, the mighty power of his intellect, the strength of his mind and frame, the deepest reverence must have mingled with, and so perfected, her love.
Nor would this acknowledgment tend to degrade woman in the scale of creation. Formed, like man, in the immortal likeness of the Lord, she was his equal in his responsibilities towards God and in the care of His creatures; endowed equally with man but differently as to the nature of those endowments. His mission was to protect and guide and have dominion hers to soothe, bless, persuade to right, and help in all things meet for immortal beings.
The existence of Eve, then, in her innocence, was, in a word, an existence of love love towards God and nature and man, which none of the infirmities of our present state could cloud or interrupt. Do we err, then, in saying that, even in the brief record of Scripture, we have sufficient authority for delineating [laying out in an orderly fashion] the felicity of our first parents in Eden? And will it not demonstrate appealingly to us those pleasures which God Himself ordained, and which even now might so be cultivated as to bring us happiness, as infinitely superior to the amusements so called as innocence is to sin?
The two trees
But beautiful as is this picture, we must turn from it to consider feelings and events of a sadly different nature. In the most conspicuous part of Paradise, the Eternal had called forth two trees, differing in their magnificence, perhaps in the halo with which they may have been encircled as peculiar witnesses of their Creator, from every other in the garden.
They were the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.
Of the first so little is known that we are justified in supposing the intention of its existence was frustrated by the disobedience of man; a conjecture founded on the solemn fact, that as the Lord created not one thing in vain, that tree must also have had its use and intention, and from the words which follow at a later period, Lest man put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever, we are quite authorized to suppose it possessed some qualities yet mightier than the Tree of Knowledge, with which its taste would have gifted man, had he not by rebellion frustrated the beneficent design of his Creator, and forfeited the privileges which might have been his own.
Of the Tree of Knowledge, its intention and its uses, we have sufficient information. The Eternal knew the nature of the creatures He had formed; that it was but an easy and slender trial of obedience and of love, if they had no temptation to rebel or disobey. Though subject to His sway, though deriving existence from His hand, and enjoying life and all its varied sources of felicity from the same infinite love, yet the Eternal, in His wisdom and His justice, had endowed them with the power of free-will; of listening to and following, or struggling with and conquering, the seeds of corruption, which from their earthly shell were inherent, though as yet kept so completely under subjection from the divine and purifying nature of the soul, that, until he was tried, man himself was scarcely sensible of their existence.
To have guarded him jealously from every temptation to have surrounded him with nought but sources of pleasure and enjoyment, and so called forth only the grateful and adoring faculties of the spirit, was not according to that divine and perfect economy of love and justice which characterized the dealings of the Creator with His creatures.
It was deeper, dearer love, to permit man to win his immortality, his eternal innocence, than to bestow them upon him unsought, and therefore little valued. They could be guilty of no crime, in the worlds parlance so termed [in the speech of the world]. They were the sole possessors of the newly-created earth: in daily commune with their Creator and therefore in neither idolatry, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, dishonouring of parents, murder, adultery, theft, false-witness, or covetousness, could they sin.
Disobedience (selfishness) the only sin
God knew that all the crimes which might devastate the earth would spring from one alone, DISOBEDIENCE; and therefore was it that His infinite wisdom ordained that the trial of mans love, and faith, and virtue, should simply be obedience to His will.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. Whether this threatened chastisement was robed in mystery, or that Adam had beheld death in the inferior animals (for Holy Writ gives us no authority for believing that even they knew not death till after the fall), and so could have some idea of what he would become, even as a clod of the earth, if he disobeyed, we may not here determine; suffice it that the Eternal was too merciful, too just, to threaten His creature with a chastisement for disobedience which he could not comprehend.
Beautiful to look upon, and exquisite in its fragrance, we may imagine the Tree of Knowledge extending its rich foliage and tempting fruit in the most conspicuous part of the garden, no doubt frequently attracting the admiration of Adam and Eve, perhaps exciting wishes, which the spirit within them had as yet power effectually to banish, or entirely subdue. Alone, unprotected by the sterner firmer qualities of her husband, Eve had walked forth, secure in her innocence, in the consciousness of love lingering within, and all around her; the young animals gambolling about her, calling forth her caresses and her smile; the little birds springing from tree to tree in joyous greeting, or nestling in her bosom without one touch of fear; the gorgeous flowers, in all their glowing robes and exquisite fragrance, clustering richly around her the very buds seeming to look up into her sweet loving face to reflect increase of beauty from the gaze; so may our fancy picture her, as she neared that tree under whose fair branches so much of misery lurked.
Coiled at its root, or twisted in rainbow-coloured folds around its trunk, lay the serpent, who was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden? And the woman said, 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 ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die, for God doth know that in the day ye eat therefore then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.
The fall of Eve
Such are the brief yet emphatic words in which the inspired prophet of the Lord detailed those incidents on which the whole after-history of the world is founded the mournful detail of that first sin, from which every other sprung, DISOBEDIENCE. Of the various speculations and opinions concerning the instrumentality of the serpent we shall take no heed, save the humble endeavour to reconcile the ways of the Lord. He permitted the trial, but He commanded not the evil interposition of the subtlest of His creatures, the serpent, any more than He commanded the subtlety of Jacob in obtaining his fathers blessing. Both events were permitted to take place; but the evil means of their accomplishment were NOT of the LORD, and consequently their agents were both subject to His displeasure, and condemned to punishment and wrath.
In one brief hour, the whole nature of Eve was changed the seeds of frailty, of whose very existence she had been scarcely conscious before, sprang up into influencing poison. Curiosity, presumption, an overweening trust in her own strength, a desire to act alone, independent of all control, to become greater, wiser, higher than the scale of being, than the station in which Gods love had placed her discontent scorn of the blessings which a moment before had seemed so precious, simply because imagination portrayed others more alluring the attraction of novelty, beauty, those idol shrines at which woman so often sacrifices her better, her immortal self such (and are they not the characteristics of woman, even as she is now?) such were the emotions excited by the wily tempter, through whose baneful influence she fell.
Where, at that moment, was the voice of the spirit, warning her of the God she disobeyed? Where the whisper of the mind, telling her that the sources of wisdom, of knowledge, already open, were the purest and the best? Where the fond tones of the heart, urging her to seek the protection, the counsel, the support, of her earthly lord? Hushed, drowned in the wild tumult of a new and terrible excitement of feelings, whose very novelty fascinated and held her chained. The voice of the tempter was in her ear. Sight and smell were filled with the exquisite fruit, the delicious fragrance; and if such were revealed, what must be its taste and touch, when to pluck and eat would make her as gods, knowing good and evil?
Weak, frail, unguarded, for the still small voice of the soul was lost in that hours tempest, was it marvel that she fell? Could she have done otherwise? The bulwark of FAITH was shivered, her heart was open and defenceless she was alone, alone for even the guardian within, if not fled, was silent. The God of infinite love and compassion beheld, but approached not; and wherefore? If He permitted, ordained, why did He punish?
O had the voice of His creature called on Him in that terrible hour; had but the faintest cry ascended for help, for strength, for mercy; had but the struggling murmur arisen, Father, Thy words are truth, let me but believe, strength, help, faith, would have poured their reviving rays into her sinking soul, and she had been saved saved for immortality, saved to glorify her God!
It was not that she had not the power so to pray. Free-will was her own to obey, or disobey to adhere, or to rebel. Of herself, indeed, she could not have resisted; but she had equal power to call upon the Lord, as to listen to the tempter. According to the path she chose, would have been the issue.
Infinite, measureless, as is the love of the Eternal, yet how dare we believe He will grant us help and strength, unless they are implored? How dare we believe He will come forward to our aid, if we stand forth in our own strength, as if we needed nought; nay, through presumption, arrogance, self-righteousness, rebel against, and defy Him?
He had said, Eat not of the tree of knowledge, for on the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. He had not commanded only, though that should have been sufficient from a loving Father to His children; but the command was enforced with a warning, that love should be strengthened by reverential fear. He had given the power to resist temptation, by CALLING UPON HIM; but if that power were trampled upon and utterly disregarded; and the creature of His hand, whose whole existence, felicity, strength, wisdom, had their being but in Him, so depended upon herself, as to be satisfied with her own strength, believing it was in her power to become as a god, and so defying Him, is it contradiction to assert that the All-wise, All-merciful, All-JUST, permitted, and yet punished?
Surely, surely, there is not one portion of this mournful history which, on mature consideration, will be found irreconcilable with the attributes of the Eternal, or with His dealings with His creatures.
Independence and its result
She took of the fruit thereof and did eat. For a brief interval, we may suppose, the tumult within, the struggle between virtue and vice, innocence and guilt, was stilled in a strange fearful intoxication of sinful joy. She had broken through the barrier, which, at the words of the serpent, seemed suddenly of iron, it so degraded her by its harshness and injustice. She was INDEPENDENT, had acted by herself, had shaken off all control; and the full tide of guilty pleasure so swept over her soul, as to permit, for the moment, no thought but of herself.
But this lasted not long: the reaction came with the one thought - her husband. Terror of his anger, was in all probability, the first emotion how might she evade it? Fear, notwithstanding her independence, deadened, banished, frustrated every feeling of remorse; repentance, sorrow all would avail her nothing now; there was but one way to avert her husbands wrath to make him disobedient as herself. The crime would appear less, could another share it.
She recollected the influence she possessed; nay, that she had been created to be his help, to soften his sterner and less yielding nature, and would it fail her now? There was no pause, there could be none; guilt ever hurries on its victims. On her arguments, her persuasions, holy writ is silent. It was enough she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.
Adams leap into sin
The crime was consummated. Love itself, the purest, noblest, most influencing of those spiritual blessings vouchsafed to man by his Creator love, deeper for the creature than the Creator, deeming the gift more precious than the Giver — love it was which to Adam was the tempter, and so converted the richest blessing to the direst curse. The specious offers, the dazzling allurements of the serpent, had, perhaps, to his stronger, more steadfast nature, been of no avail. He had no need of ambition, for he was lord over the whole created world. A glance from his eye, a stern rebuke from his lips, had awed even the subtlest of the beasts into silence, and banished him for ever; but strength and firmness fled before the endearing influence of the being whom, created to perfect his happiness, he loved better than himself.
Excuse for his weakness, indeed, there is none; but if such may be the extent of womans influence (and it is as powerful even now) how fearful is her responsibility, and how deep should be her humility, how fervent her petitions for grace to guide aright!
The effects of sin
Not long might the triumph of guilt last. Day declined the hour of evening came, which they were wont so joyfully to welcome, for it brought with it the voice of God. Remorse had come with all its horrors; and now for the first time the extent of their sin stood before them. Terror banished all of love, as all of joy; and when the first sound of the Eternals voice reached them, they fled in anguish to hide themselves amid the trees of the garden.
Vain hope; but proving how all of spirit and of mind was crushed and buried in this first and awful sway of guilt.
The LORD Gods behaviour
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, I was afraid, because I was naked: and I hid myself. And the Lord God said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? And the man said, The woman Thou gavest to be with me, gave me of the fruit, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this thou has done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Though to Him all was known, yet would not the beneficent, the ever-loving, ay, even at that moment, still loving God condemn without question, judge without permitting defence. And how unupbraiding [without reproach], how loving the appeal, What is this that thou has done?' breathing a Fathers sorrowing mercy in the very midst of justly deserved punishment. There was no consuming wrath, no terrifying anger, nought to betray that mighty and awful being at whose first word might be annihilation.
The Eternal pronounced not sentence without requiring and waiting for reply: but what was that reply? Accusation of another, not self-abhorrence and lowly repentance. How fearful was the change wrought in the heart, as well as in the spirit of man, by his sin!
The change in the man
Where now was his deep love for Eve, that he could say, vainly hoping to exculpate [excuse] himself, The woman Thou didst give me, she gave me of the fruit, and I did eat? She had led him by the power of his love into sin; but from that moment her power was at an end, and he cared not to give her up to justice, so he excused himself.
How terrible a commencement of her punishment must have been her husbands words to the still loving heart of Eve!
It was true she had done as he had said; but was he to be her accuser? And to her were those words of sorrowing compassion said, What is this that thou hast done? Hast thou indeed so used the power, the beauty, the influence with which I endowed thee, for so different a purpose? She denied it not: she said not one word to justify her sin towards her husband; his words had entered her heart with the first sharp pang which human affection knew, and there was no attempt at defence or evasion, - The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
If Adam had stooped to lay the blame of his own weakness upon one whom he had loved, instead of bewailing his own sin, it was no wonder Eve, not yet awakened to what she should have done to avert the temptation, conscious but of increasing misery, thought only of what might seem excuse, The serpent beguiled me. The Eternal knew she had spoken truth; and, still guided by that mercy and justice which in God alone are so perfectly united that there is no need of mans ways to reconcile them, proceeded to pronounce sentence according to the degrees of guilt.
This is not the place to enter into a dissertation on the punishment awarded to the serpent; suffice it that there seems no hidden or allegorical meaning in the inspired historians simple words. The serpent, as a beast of the field, beguiled, and, as a beast of the field, was punished. Nor can an Israelite acknowledge any allusion to, or any necessity for a crucified and atoning Saviour, in the very simple words, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
For a Hebrew, the words can only be taken in their purely literal sense. We are particular on this point: because thus early, in the perusal of the sacred Scriptures, the Jewish and Gentile readings differ; and from childish readings of Bible histories by Gentile writers, we may find ourselves giving credence to an assertion, for which we have no Mosaic authority, and which, in after-years, we would gladly root out from the mystical and contradictory opinions with which it confuses our ideas.
The result of Eves sin
Eves chastisement was severer than her husbands, and it was just that so it was, for she was the first transgressor. Death, indeed, - that the dust of which the frame was composed should return to dust, - was the awful sentence pronounced on both; for such had been threatened from the first if they disobeyed:
but during their sojourn upon earth, the sharper and severer trial of pain, of multiplied sorrows, of sinking comparatively in the scale of strength and intellect, of becoming subject to her husband, not as before, from the sweet obedience of love, but from the sterner mandate of duty; of being exposed, as a mother, to a hundred sources of anguish of which man knows nothing; for his deepest, dearest love for his offspring is not like a mothers, subject to the thousand petty anxieties and cares which, independent of severer maternal trials, fill her heart from the moment she hears the first faint cry of the new-born until death.
And these trials were Eves, and they are womans.
The result of Adams sin
Man had, indeed, his work; the earth was cursed through his sin, and forbidden to yield her fruit without the severest labour; he was to go forth from the Paradise of innocence and love, to till the ground whence he was taken banished, and for ever.
The voice of their God, for the first time heard in reproachful though still forbearing inquiry, and then in fearful condemnation, removed the blackening veil of sin. The spirit, burst from the chains of guilt and sin, and while it bowed in agony and remorse before the Father and the Judge, and acknowledged this awful sentence just, drew them once more to each other. Love was not given only for the happy: to the sorrowing, the repentant, it comes soothing while it softens, seeming, even while it deepens the heavy floods of grief, to banish all of harshness, of selfishness, and of despair.
The justice of the Eternal marked the woman as the greater sinner Adams further wrath was needless; remorse too told him that, as the stronger, the firmer, he should have resisted her persuasions, that his disobedience was his own sin, not hers; and we may believe that, as weak, trembling, bowed to the very dust, not from the thoughts of her own chastisement so much as from the reflection of what she had hurled upon her husband, for such still is woman, Adam once more received her to his heart, the sharer of his future toils, the soother of his threatened cares, even as she had before been the help-meet of his joy.
And already Eve needed all of strength and comfort her earthly lord might give. Still remembering mercy, the Eternal clothed them for their departure, endowing them with those faculties of invention, alike for their personal comfort as for the tillage of the ground, for which they had no need in Eden; but the very gift betrayed the bleak and desert world they were about to seek. Could they but remain in the home of their past innocence and joy, the anguish of the present might be sooner healed. Who that thinks a moment of what we now feel in turning from a beloved home, the scene of all our early hopes and joys and love, adorned with all of nature and of art, to seek another, impoverished, and fraught with toil and danger, apart from every object, animate or inanimate, which has twined round our hearts and bound us there, - who, that pictures scenes like these, will refuse our general mother the meed of sympathy as she turned from Eden?
A change perhaps her sin had wrought even there. The birds flew aloft, trembling to approach that gentle bosom which had before been their resting-place; the young animals fled in terror from her step; and there was that in the changed fierce aspects of the beasts of the field, which caused her heart to sicken with deadly fear. The very flowers hung their heads and drooped when gathered: they could not bear the touch of sin. Yet to that womans heart Eden was Eden still her home, the receiver of all those varied channels of love which could be spared from her husband; and to turn from it, never to approach it more, and from the consequences of her own act, how deep must have been her agony, how touching its remorse, and how necessary the support of love.
Though Moses, in his brief detail of past events, simply follows the expulsion from Eden by the birth of Cain, we have sufficient authority from the unchangeable attributes of the Eternal, to believe, that the same love which provided Adam and Eve with clothing, directed and blessed their wanderings; and though no longer revealing His gracious presence, as in Eden, yet still inspiring the power of prayer and belief in His constant omnipresence and protection.
More results of their sin
Their sin had indeed changed their earthly nature, - the good had been conquered by the evil. It was henceforth a difficult and weary task to subdue the evil inclinations, the proneness to disobedience and self-righteousness. It was a labour of toil and tears to bring the heavenly essence once more even to a faint and disfigured likeness of its God; the voice of the soul, once silenced as it had been, could only be heard after years of watching and prayer. The Eternal, in His prescience [foreknowledge], knew this would be, not so much in Adam himself (for repentance and sorrow brought him back through his punishment to holiness and constant communion with his God), but in his offspring.
Farther and farther, as the children of men advanced from their first father as the tale of creation, of the Eternals visible presence in Paradise, of all which His love had formed for His favoured creature, man, became fainter and fainter in the dim distance of the past, - so would the likeness of the Lord in which man was made, become more and more effaced, and sin become more and more ascendant.
For this reason then it was, that the Eternal, alike in His wisdom and justice and MERCY, ordained death as the end of all, the righteous and the wicked; for Solomon himself telleth us there is no man that sinneth not; and we read in the narrative of Moses himself (Genesis vi. 6) that every imagination of mans 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; and again (Genesis viii .), I will not curse the ground any more for mans sake; for the imagination of mans heart is evil from his youth.
But the Mosaic creed of love and perfect justice goes no further. To use the language of our own venerable sages: - Although the descendants of Adam inherited the body from him, and with it the maledictions [weaknesses] attached thereto, it is not because they received corporeal existence from him that the souls of all mankind are condemned, for they had not existence from Adam, but are a direct emanation from God. Therefore Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the other just, did not pay the sin of Adam, nor were their souls condemned.*
* The Conciliator, vol. ii., page 214. Translated from the Spanish of Manasseh Ben Israel, by E.H. Lindo, Esq.
And there is still more convincing proof from the Word of God; Pentateuch, History, Psalms, Proverbs, and Prophets, almost every page bears witness that each man is responsible for his own individual acts.
See, I have set before you this day LIFE and GOOD, DEATH and EVIL; therefore choose life that thou and thy seed may LIVE (Deut. xxx. 15 and 19).
Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it: and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord and thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the RIGHTEOUS and the WICKED; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth Him not (Mal. iii.  16, 17, 18).
Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: therefore turn yourselves, and live ye (Eze. xviii.  30, 31, 32).
Turn ye unto Me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you (Zech. i.  3).
It would be useless transcribing all the passages in the Bible similar to the above and teeming with the doctrine of individual responsibility and individual power to regain the favour of the Eternal which is completely opposed to the Gentile creed.
The effect of Adams sin
But while we reject, wholly and utterly, all belief in the Nazarene doctrine, that we are each and all, even the newborn babe, condemned to everlasting misery unless we acknowledge Jesus we equally reject the mistaken and sceptical belief, that the disobedience of our first parents in no way affects us now.
If its effects were only confined to them, where is the mercy, the justice of the Lord, in condemning all their seed to return to the dust?
Who that looks into himself and knows the plague of his own heart, the difficulty to realize spirituality and holiness who that reads his Bible with faith and prayer, and marks the prevalence of evil even there, the failings and the weaknesses of the holiest men, even those hallowed by the appellation of the friends of God, will still refuse belief that the disobedience of our first parents so far altered our nature as to give the body more powerful dominion than the soul; and thus, by deadening the spiritual influence within us, exposing us to temptation of every kind, and, consequently, but too often to sin; and rendering it a difficult and often desponding task to give the spiritual dominion over the corporeal, and to devote our whole hearts not alone in our closets, but in the duties and occupations of the world still to serve and love our God?
What would have been the glorious nature of Adam and Eve if they had not sinned, we know not; for it is a subject far too holy for speculation or conjecture: but that their transgression produced consequences which demanded that not only themselves, but their seed should return to dust, is a Scriptural truth which no one who believes in Moses and the Prophets can, we think, have sufficient boldness to deny.
But the SOUL it touched not. An emanation from God Himself, it will return to Him, untouched by any sin but those of the body in whom it was breathed; and there, at the bar of God, our own acts, purified by mercy, judged by the ways and thoughts of the Lord which are not the ways and thoughts of man guided by the law His mercy gave, hallowed by faith and justified by love our own acts must be our witness or our condemnation.
Nor is this an individual doctrine lightly and carelessly entered upon or produced from one particular class of reading. It has been the thought and study of long years, based on an earnest and prayerful study of the Holy Scriptures, and on the spirit pervading the writings of every Hebrew sage which are accessible to woman. We have brought it strongly forward; because unless we know exactly what we do believe, and what we do not believe, from the very beginning of the Holy Scriptures, our readings must always be attended with obscurity and pain, and the very attributes of the Eternal difficult to be realized amid the awful scenes of wickedness which the historical books present.
We will now proceed with the more private history of Eve.
Continue to Eve Part Two
To Ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?" ....... To an Index of the Women
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