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escape it, and become enstated in everlasting Innocence and Happiness.
God had determin’d to make trial of them by proposing an easy instance of their Obedience, and by forbidding them the use but of one Tree in Paradise : It was but a small Restraint, and they had Ability enough to have overcome the greatest Temptation; and Life and Death were set before them, as the Reward or Punishment of their Obedience or Disobedience. Upon eating the forbidden Fruit , they must surely. die ; but if they had but refrain'd from it, another Tree was provided, the eating of which should as certainly have made them linmortal, as this made * them subject to Death: For then without ever under
going Death, they should have been translated to a Itate of more perfect Bliss and Happiness.
It cannot be deny'd, but that it was very fitting and reasonable, that God should lay some Restraint upon our first Parents, whereby he might be obey'd, and his Sovereignty acknowledg’d : And as no Law could be more easily observ'd than this, so it was most proper for the place in which they were, and for their manner of Life and state of Innocence. The common Rules and Laws of Morality could then scarce have any place, but it was requisite that this or some such other instance of Obedience, should be imposed. Theft, and Murther, and Adultery, and other Sins against moral Duties, were then either impossible to be committed, or so unnatural, that it can hardly be imagined, how any of them should be committed, when there were yet but two Persons in the World, in a state of perfect Innocence : and therefore in moral Duties there could be no Trial of the Obedience of our first Parents; besides, these were so well known to them, that there could be no need of any Command concerning them. But God gives them a Command ir a Thing of an indifferent Nature, that so he might have à plainer Proof of their Obedience , in a thing
which was both indifferent of it felf, and so easy to them, that nothing but a careless and perverse Neg. lect could betray them into Disobedience.
To suppose Good and Evil to be in the Nature of Things only, and not in the Commandments and Prohibitions of God, is in effect, a renouncing of God's Authority ; but this Tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil : For it made them sensible of the Divine Authority upon which moral Good and Evil formally depend, tho' materially they be in the Nature of things : Whatever God is pleas’d to command or forbid, however indifferent it be in it felf, is for that very Reason, fo far as it is commanded or forbidden by him, as truly Good or Evil, as if it were absolutely and morally so, being enacted by the same Divine Authority, whereby ali moral Precepts become obligatory as Laws to us : For all nioral Truths, or Precepts, or Rules of Life, however certain and necessary in themselves, yet receive the Obligation of Laws from the Divine Authority, this being the most certain Truth in Morality, and in Order of Nature antecedent to all others, that God is to be obey'd in all that he commands or forbids. But the Divine Authority was solely and purely concern'd in this Commandment, which had no Foundation in the Nature of Things, but depended merely upon the Will and Pleasure of God, and by the Transgression of this Law, it became notorious to our first Parents and their unhappy Posterity, that both Good and Evil, whatever they may be in Speculation and abstracted Notions, yet as they concern us in the Pra&tice of our Lives, are to be resolv'd ultimately into the Divine Authority ; God is our Law-giver, and nothing can be a Law to us but by His enacting, and what he enacts must be a Law to us; and of the fame necessary indispensable Obligation, so far as he is pleas’d to enjoin it, whether it be a moral Pręcept, or only an indifferent thing in its own Nature. It seems then that
pleas'd to manifest his Sovereign Authority in this Commandment, and to shew that it is absolute and independent upon moral Good or Evil ; and that tho' his infinite Holiness and Goodness would not permit him to command any thing contrary to moral Duties, nor suffer him not to command moral Good, and forbid moral Evil ; yet his Authority is arbitrary over us, extending as far beyond all the Duties of Morality as he pleafes, which indeed are only Truths and Precepts, but not Duties to us but by Vertue of his Authority. This Commandment therefore was given in Asertion of God's Authority, whom it is always and in every thing good to obey, and evil to disobey, as our first Parents found by sad Experience.
Maimonides observes, that they had the Knowledge of Truth and Falfhood before, but Good and Evil became known to them by their Fall, whereby they ưn.' derstood the Value of that Good which they had lost, and were made sensible of the Misery of that Condition, into which they had brought themselves : They perceiv'd how good it was to obey God, and how evil to be disobedient to Him in any thing whatsoever.
i Mr. Mede has observ'd that their Sin was Sacrilege. God had reserv'd that Tree as holy to himself, in token of his Dominion aud Sovereignty, and ap. pointed it to such uses as he had designd it for : and therefore it was a Sacrilegious Proplanation to eat of it ; it was a Theft or Robbery, no less than the Robe bing of God, as the Prophet styles Sacrilege, and an Invasion of his Right.
And the Lord God said, Behold the Man is become as one of us to know Good and Evil , Gen. iii. 22. which Words are generally supposed to have been spoken by a fevere Sarcasm, or with an upbraiding Anger and Indignation ; but they seem to admit of an easier
Maim. More Nevoch, Pii. c. 2.
Lib. i. Disc, xxvii.
Sense, if they be thus interpreted ; The man is become as one of us, he has made himself as one of us ; he has assum'd to himself an Equality with us. Christ thought it not robbery to be equal with God, Phil. ii. 6. to be equal is there to claim an Equality; and so to become as one of us, is to challenge or pretend to become as one of us, according to the Devil's Suggestion. Christ knew it to be no Injury or Presumption in Himself, who was in the form of God, and was God as well as Man, to assume to Himself an Equality with the Father : But our first Parents, who were made in the image of God and after his likeness, were not contented with this, but affected something higher than the Perfections of a Creature, and aim'd at an independent State of Wisdom and Immortality, being seduced by the Serpent, who said unto the Woman, re shall not furely die ; ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil, Gen. iii. 4, 5. This was a most heinous Crime to be lieve the Serpent rather than God himself, and to be seduced by him, and hope by his Advice to procure to themselves Divine Wisdom and Immortal Happiness. Thus he apostatiz'd from God, as the Tempter himself had done. And indeed this is what the Words ver. 22. as they may be interpreted, will imply. For the Preposition or Particle, which is there rendred of, often signifies from, and is so rendred by our Translators. u He took from them Simeon, Gen.
One went out from me, Gen. xliv. 28. 9 Separated you from the congregation, Num. xvi. 9. In like manner, the Man is become as one from us, or from among us; as one of our heavenly Court and Re. tinue, who went out from among us, and apoftatiz'd from us ; that is , he is become like Satan, to know good and evil ; Good by the want of Innocence , and
- Tivaw ng DAROM?!! Gen. xli. 24.
727 Numb, xvi. 9.
אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲרֵת יִשְׂרָאֵל
Evil by the Guilt and Burthen of it, upon his Confcience.
II. The Consequences of the Fall of our first Parents were answerable to their Crime, and were either upon themselves, or upon their Posterity, or upon the Serpent and other Creatures.
1. The Curse upon the Serpent was by a visible Object and Representation, to denote that Curse and Punishment which was denounced against the Tempter himself, who assum'd the Body of a Serpent. The Serpent before had a freer and stronger Motion, and could lift up himself and reach the Fruits of the Trees, but is since confin'd to the Ground, and is forced to seek his Food in the Duit. And there being Relations of Serpents, which carry Part of their Body erect, this before the Curse might belong to the whole kind of them in another manner, than it doth since to any one fort. The Basilisk is said to go with his Head and Breast erect, and a Serpent call'd in Ceylon, the Noya, will stand with half his Body upright for two or three hours together. Dragons fly in Africa, where they are venomous
.b but not in other places. These may be for Monuments of the Truth of the Curse upon the rest; as some of the Race of the Giants were left in the Land of Canaan till David's time, as a Memorial to the Israelites of the miraculous Power of God in the Conquest of the Land by their Forefathers.
The Curse of the Ground was for a Punilhment to Adam and his Posterity, and can be consider'd no 0therwise, nor be made matter of Objection , unless it be thought unreasonable to inflict a Curse upon Mankind for this Offence of eating the forbidden Fruit, by making the Earth less fruitful and pleasant to them. Though the Garden of Eden were the most delightful