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1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which Yahweh Elohim had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath Elohim said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
The Serpent in Eden
He was quick of thought, penetrating, and acutely discerning. He was the most intellectual of all the creatures, and had but one superior among the living, and that was Man. The difference between man and the serpent was diversity of organization. They were both dust of the ground; but the one more highly and perfectly organized than the other. The organism of the serpent embodied faculties whose functions placed him in harmony with man's nature.
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, were common to them both; so that their intellectual and animal tendencies were on a par. Hence, man was more nearly related to the serpent than to any other animal - so nearly, that the serpent-nature and the man-nature, without much exaggeration, might be termed identical.
I have said that man was intellectually his superior. This, however, must not be taken absolutely. The serpent showed himself to be more of an adept than Eve. He purposed to make her and Adam eat the fruit; and to do so by reasoning them into the commission of the act.
In this he succeeded, and thereby proved that his intellectual subtilty was superior to theirs. Had they been as quick of thought and penetrating as he, he would have found his match, and the temptation would have failed.
They, however, were over-matched by the serpent, who succeeded in deceiving them. He was the intelligent deceiver who darkened their understandings; while they stood in the humiliating position of the serpent-deceived.
A speaking serpent has not been disclosed in the annals of natural history since that time. The possibility of such a thing will, of course, not be denied by any wise man. It is a mere question of throat mechanism and the relation of the necessary nerves of volition to that mechanism. The parrot illustrates such an adaptation, only minus ideas to express by this means.
The serpent had the ideas and the power of expressing them, too. Was this combination the result of natural organization, or was it an extra-natural gift as in the case of the ass that forbade the madness of Balaam?
In either case, the hand of God is visible: for if it was not a miraculous endowment for the occasion, then miraculousness is visible in the withdrawal of the power as part of the degradation of the serpent.
...Whether it were natural endowment or divine inspiration that led the creature to entice the woman to disobedience, the moral bearings of the incident are the same. The obedience of Adam and Eve was put to the proof. And this was the object intended. Left to themselves, obedience would have been a matter of course; but it is not obedience of this mild description that is commendable to God. Obedience under trial is what pleases God.
To give Adam and Eve an opportunity for obedience of this sort, or to terminate and set aside the obedience they were rendering if it should prove of the flimsy order of a mere circumstantial compliance, this creature was placed in the way. It was a divine arrangement with a divine object. The same principle was afterwards illustrated when "God did tempt Abraham" (Genesis 22: 1), that is, put him to the proof, by requiring at his hands a performance which seemed on the face of it inconsistent even with God's own purposes in the case.
There is no contradiction in this to James' deprecation of any man saying, "I am tempted of God" (James 1: 13), for in the case of James' discourse, it is a question of enticing to evil for evil's sake. God never does this to a just man: He tries him, and in this sense tempts him, which is another thing. We may be quite sure if we are children of God that some time or other, we shall be similarly put to the proof.
To him that overcometh (offering the stout front of a determined obedience to God to all suggestions or incitements in any direction forbidden), will the palm of victory be finally awarded.
Visible Hand of God Ch 4
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
The serpent was the progenitor of the whole transaction. Animal intellectuality, or the thinking of flesh in accordance with its own lusts, emanating from the serpent in discourse, was the spirit that worked in the disobedient, and caused them to stumble at the word.
5 For Elohim doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as Elohim, knowing good and evil.
That the serpent should state the truth in the case would probably be due to his overhearing the Elohim converse on the subject. The serpent seems to refer to them as his authority
The woman being deceived - 1 Tim 2: 14
The tree, she knew, was "good for food," it was also "pleasant to the eyes." Here were two classes of human lusts coworking in favour of the serpent's conclusion. There remained only one class more to be gained and his triumph would be complete. She was ambitious. She knew the Elohim, how wise and exalted they were, and how superior to Adam and herself.
She wanted to be like them, and the serpent had assured her that she had the power of this desirable self-exaltation in her own hands. But then, might she not lose all by the operation
of the death-penalty? True; but the serpent had assured her that Elohim did not intend to carry it into effect; and besides, was there not that other tree - the tree of lives - as accessible as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? could she not also eat of that, and be immortal as the Elohim?
Surely, this was a well-combined scheme of the serpent's by which they might easily and speedily attain to wisdom and immortality upon their own terms! With the earth in their possession, what independent, glorious, and powerful ones they would be when like the Elohim!
The thought was charming; it was quite fascinating to contemplate! What more could "the pride of life" desire? They would live on the earth forever; and all the world that might inhabit it would be subject to them and to the principles of the serpent, by which they would have attained their high Elohistic estate!
Thus was the mother of all living "drawn away of her own lusts, and enticed." She was attracted by
"the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."
These instincts of the flesh predisposed her to believe the serpent and to follow his suggestion, regardless of the divine law. Lust conceived within her. The doctrine of the serpent sown in her heart inflamed her desires, and stirred them up into rebellious exercise.
Faith in the word was obliterated; her mind was darkened by false teaching; she was beguiled and corrupted from the simplicity of the truth; her thinking was serpentized, and she "brought forth sin," or the transgression of the law; and when the sin was perfected, contrary to the serpent's theory and her own expectation,
"it brought forth death" (James 1:14,15).
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that 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 gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
When Adam's weak nature began to think and act, independently of the divine law, its weakness, before an undefiled weakness, became evil in its workings, and deteriorating in its effects; and acquired the name of Sin from its having brought forth sin, or transgression of law.
The undefiled weakness of the flesh, enticed and deceived by sophistry from without, is, in few words, the definition of the original temptation. The law of God was weak through the flesh-Romans 8: 3, not through the strength of the Serpent. Had the flesh been strong, the Serpent would have been powerless with all his sagacity. But the weakness thrown into a ferment by serpent-subtlety became beguiling; and the beguiling subtlety, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived them, and by it slew them (Rom 7: 11.)
'THE BIBLE DOCTRINE CONCERNING THE TEMPTER CONSIDERED'
Herald of the kingdom and Age to Come, Sept 1852
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Such was the first lie, the father of it, and the consequence of believing it. YAHWEH Elohim admitted that the lie contained some truth. As the serpent said, their eyes were opened, but opened to discover their own shame; they became as the Elohim in the knowledge of good and evil of an evil state adapted to the formation of character under trial; but independence, glory, honour and power, they were not permitted to attain.
8 And they heard the voice of Yahweh Elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh Elohim amongst the trees of the garden.
Nor could they so easily as they imagined eat of the tree of lives, and live forever. When the sin was finished they were too much occupied with their new discovery of their nakedness, and devices to conceal it from their expected Elohistic visitors, to promptly follow out the serpent's programme.
In the midst of their perturbation they perceived their approach, and fled for concealment among the trees from the presence of YAHWEH Elohim. This appearing of "the Lord the Spirit" was an incident not provided for in the programme of the serpent. It marred
the whole scheme, and stamped his speculation with falsehood and deceit. The Lord's appearing arrested the guilty in their career of sin, and brought them before the Judge for trial and sentence according to their works.
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Understanding then, that sin, or the transgression of God's law, evinced by doubts, fears, and shamefacedness, is the morbid principle of an evil conscience, what is the obvious indication to be fulfilled in its removal? The answer is, blot out the sin, and the conscience of the patient will be cured. The morbid phenomena will disappear, and "the answer of a good conscience toward God " (1 Peter 3:21) remain.
From the nature of things, it is obvious, that the sinner cannot cure himself; though superstition has taught him to attempt it by fastings, and penances, and all "the voluntary humility and vain deceit," inculcated by "the blind." Adam and Eve vainly imagined they could cover their own sin, and efface it from divine scrutiny; but the very clumsy device they contrived betrayed the defilement of their consciences.
Their posterity have not learned wisdom by the failure of their endeavour; but, to this day, they are as industriously engaged in inventing cloaks for their evil consciences, as were their first parents, when stitching fig-leaves together to cover their shame. So true is it that, though God made man upright, he hath sought out many inventions (Eccles. 7:29). But, after all the patching, and altering, and scouring, they are but like "the filthy garments" taken from the high priest, Joshua (Zech. 3:3-4); to which all the iniquity laid upon him, adhered with the inveteracy of a leprous plague.
Men have not yet learned the lesson, that all they are called upon by God to do, is to believe His word and obey His laws. He requires nothing more at their hands than this.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
When the dust of the ground was formed into a body of life, or living soul, or, as Paul terms it, a physical or natural body, it was a very good animal creation. It was not a pneumatic, or spirit-body, indeed, for it would then have been immortal and incorruptible, and could neither have sinned, nor have become subject to death; but for an animal or natural body, it was "very good," and capable of an existence free from evil, as long as its probationary aion, or period might continue.
If that period had been fixed for a thousand years, and man had continued obedient to law all that time, his flesh and blood nature would have experienced no evil; and at the end of that long day, he might have been permitted to eat of the Tree of the Lives, by which eating he would have been changed in the twinkling of an eye into a spirit-body, which is incorruptible, glorious, and powerful; and he would have been living at this day. But man transgressed.
He listened to the sophistry of flesh reasoning under the inspiration of its own instincts. He gave heed to this "the thinking of the flesh," or carnal mind, which "is enmity against God, is not subject to His law, neither indeed can be." The desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life, which pertain essentially to all living human, or ground, souls, were stirred up by what he saw and heard; and
"he was drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
His lust having conceived, it brought forth sin in intention; and this being perfected in action, caused death to ensue (James 1:13-15). Every man, says the apostle, is tempted in this way. It is not God, nor the clerical devil that tempts man, but "his own lust," excited by what from without addresses itself to his five senses, which always respond approvingly to what is agreeable to them.
Seeing that man had become a transgressor of the divine law, there was no need of a miracle for the infliction of death. All that was necessary was to prevent him from eating of the Tree of Lives, and to leave his flesh and blood nature to the operation of the laws peculiar to it. It was not a nature formed for interminable existence. It was "very good" so long as in healthy being, but immortality and incorruptibility were no part of its goodness. These are attributes of a higher and different kind of body. The animal, or natural body, may be transformed into a deathless and incorruptible body, but without that transformation, it must of necessity perish.
This perishing body is "sin," and left to perish because of "sin." Sin, in its application to the body, stands for all its constituents and laws. The power of death is in its very constitution, so that the law of its nature is styled "the law of Sin and Death." In the combination of the elements of the law, the power of death resides, so that "to destroy that having the power of death," is to abolish this physical law of sin and death, and instead thereof, to substitute the physical "law of the spirit of life," by which the same body would be changed in its constitution, and live for ever.
By this time, I apprehend, the intelligent reader will be able to answer scripturally the question,
"What is that which has the power of death?"
And he will, doubtless, agree, that it is "the exceedingly great sinner SIN," in the sense of "the Law of Sin and Death" within all the posterity of Adam, without exception. This, then, is Paul's Diabolos, which he says "has the power of death;" which "power" he also saith is "sin, the sting of death."
But why doth Paul style Sin diabolos? The answer to this question will be found in the definition of the word. Diabolos is derived from diaballo, which is compounded of dia, a preposition, which in composition signifies across, over, and answers to the Latin trans; and of ballo, to throw, cast: and intransitively, to fall, tumble. Hence, diaballo, is to throw over or across; and intransitively, like the Latin trajicere, to pass over, to cross, to pass. This being the signification of the parent verb, the noun diabolos is the name of that which crosses, or causes to cross over, or falls over. DIABOLOS is therefore a very fit and proper word by which to designate the law of sin and death, or Sin's flesh.
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
This particular serpent that beguiled Eve by his subtilty, spent all the days of his life in the dust upon his belly; and from being the most sagacious, he became
"cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field."
The intellectualism of the serpent had been transferred to the man. The serpent system of ideas and mode of thinking had become characteristic of the man, whose lustful nature, inflamed to rebellion by the serpent's reasoning, came to occupy the same relation to the word of the Deity in all after ages, that the original speaking beast did before the fall of man.
All the primeval serpent, or any other kind of serpent, has had to do with serpentine developments since that important crisis has been merely as the expressive and appropriate symbol of the nature of man.
The serpent, then, is the reasoning of the flesh, which is inseparable from it, and tends only to death. This is human nature, and styled by Paul in Rom. 8:3, sarx hamartias, SIN'S FLESH, in which, in ch. 7:18, he says, "dwelleth no good thing."
In its original creation, this flesh, like the serpent, was "very good" of its kind. It had its affections and desires, which, like the affections and desires of other creatures, were innocent and harmless; and the man would not have known sin in the gratification of them, except the law had said, Thou shalt not eat of the tree.
There would have been no scope for the serpent's speculation if no law had been enacted; for without the law his doctrine could have no existence. The serpent's reasoning was sin in conception.
"Sin is the transgression of law,"
and this transgression was originally conceived in the brain of the serpent, and by reasoning on false premises, was transferred into the woman's, where, taking occasion by the commandment ordained for life, and in itself holy, just and good, it wrought in her all manner of intense and unlawful desires. Had she been contented to believe the Deity, and to obey the commandment, her course would have resulted in life eternal.
But, instead of this, she found the commandment to be for death; because the reasoning of the serpent, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived her, and by it slew her. Thus, the serpent's reasoning which she adopted as her own, worked death in her by the good and just and holy law, by which, when the reasoning was perfected in transgression.
Human Nature displayed itself as an exceedingly great sinner - kath' huperbolen hamartolos.
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
It teaches us by implication that he was not to be begotten of the impulse of the flesh, nor of the will of man; so that in being born of the human nature, he would be directly Son of Woman, and only indirectly Son of Man. But, if he were not directly Son of Man, he must have been directly Son of Power as Adam was, who had no human father. Adam's father was the Eternal Spirit, self-named Yahweh, who formed him from the dust.
22 And Yahweh Elohim said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
The sagacious serpent, who had seen and heard the Elohim in Paradise "the Stars of the Dawn and Sons of God" -- told Adam and Eve that if they ate of
"the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they should be as the Elohim ('gods') knowing good and evil."
The lie he told did not consist in saying this; for the Yahweh-Elohim admitted that, in the eating, and its consequence, they had become like one of them, to know good and evil.
"Behold," said He,
"the man has become as ONE OF US, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of the Lives, and eat and live for Olahm; therefore Yahweh-Elohim sent him forth from the Garden of Eden."
When this was affirmed of Adam and Eve,
"the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked,"
and they were both ashamed and afraid. This was the form of the "evil" which they experienced at that crisis; and Yahweh-Elohim testifies, that it was an evil they themselves had been the subjects of. Those who were Elohim contemporary with Adam had once been the subjects of shame and fear; and as these are symptoms of an evil conscience, they had once been sinners; and as it is the law of the Eternal Spirit's empire, that sin works death, so they must have been once mortal : which is a conclusion in agreement with Paul's testimony, that the Invisible One
"only hath immortality."
Hence though in His universe there are multitudes of Immortal Sons of Deity, yet in all that universe there is but One whose immortality is underived and that august person is He who created them. Thus all immortals but Himself were once mortal -- sinners subject to death; and while so subject as much in need of a remedial system as we.
The tree of life
in which resided the extraordinary power that had he partaken of it even after his condemnation, he would have lived for ever (Genesis 3: 22). We may dismiss the idea that some have advanced, that Adam had been in the habit of eating this tree: and that so long as he did so, he was immortal, and that all that was necessary to secure his mortality was to cut him off from the use of the daily medicament.
The prompt and energetic precautions taken
"lest he should put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life,"
are out of keeping with this idea. It was a single eating in the case of the single tree of knowledge; and the "also" of this verse suggests that it was a similar contingency that was in view in the case of the tree of life. The interposition of
"a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life,"
would have been an excess of energy if the object was merely to cut off the supply of what required to be daily taken in order to have its effect. The withering of the tree or expulsion from the garden would in that case have met all the necessities of the situation.
Then it would have been strangely disproportionate with the facts to speak of Adam, "putting forth his hand and eating and living for ever," if he had to eat for ever in order to live for ever; and a rather over-vigorous use of language to call a tree of life that which had only power to impart life during the short time the quantity taken might remain in the system.
The figurative use of the tree in the New Testament, to represent the life everlasting which God will give to all who receive Christ at the resurrection, is inconsistent with the notion that it had to be used constantly to be effective.
The whole surroundings of the case show that Adam had not taken of it, and that if he had, he would have become immortal.
The only countenance to the contrary idea is the permission to eat "of every tree of the garden," except the tree of knowledge in the midst of the garden (Genesis 3: 2-3; 2: 16). It is argued that this must have included the tree of life. But this does not follow. The tree of life was evidently not reckoned among "the trees of the garden." It seems to have stood apart by itself, having a "way" or approach that could be guarded (Genesis 3: 24).
That a tree should have the power of imparting immortality to the eater will only strike us as strange by reason of our want of experience of such a thing. There is no end to the variety of God's operations in the universe. Immortality will ultimately be conferred by the direct transfusion of the Spirit of God upon the substance of the accepted by the will of Christ; but it is impossible to deny that God could effect the same result in another way, by the same power differently applied.
God showed Moses a tree in the desert, which, on portions of it being put into the bitter springs, healed the water (Exodus 15: 25). So He could make a vegetable substance which would have a similar effect on the organs of the eater. He did actually create such a tree in the beginning; had Adam proved obedient, he would probably have been invited to eat. The event turned out otherwise, and the tree, first carefully guarded from intrusion, was in course of time removed.
Visible Hand of God Ch 4
24 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.
The guarding of the way of the tree of life was an operation of what would be called the miraculous order. "A flaming sword which turned every way" was no natural phenomenon, yet it was not essentially different from what we may see and know any day.
Destructive fire and brightness of light are familiar, if latent, properties of nature in its dullest aspects. Fire sleeps in stone, and who that has seen the electric light can fail to realise the dazzling brightness that resides in the invisible electric current or the lifeless charcoal.
The difference between these and the Edenic coruscation lies in the fact that while they are passive and mechanical forces of nature as divinely constituted, this was the product of the Divine volition brought to bear locally and specifically for a limited purpose.
All power is one-in God, but there are different manifestations according to His will.
In the upholding of heaven and earth, we see power in a mechanical state: passive, inert, established; in what is called miracle, we see the same power acting under an intelligent impulse derived from the centre of all power-the everlasting God-the Creator of the ends of the earth.
Visible Hand of God Ch 4