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this Eve's lust replies~" Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened ; and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil.” Permit me to ask, could any thing be more fitly chosen to describe the artful, plausible insinuations of lust or desire after some forbidden object? But the woman ceases to oppose her lust, by reasoning further on the subject. “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.” From its being said "the woman saw that the tree was good for food," some have concluded, that she saw a serpent eat of the fruit, and no evil following, she concluded it must be good for her food also: If this was true, it was calculated to excite desire in her, and embolden her to proceed. It was also an additional reason for introducing the serpent into this account. If the word saw, is here used in the sense of considered, as is evi. dently its sense in some other parts of Scripture, she must then have considered, or inferred that the fruit was good for food, from seeing the serpent eat, or drew this conclusion, from looking at the fruit and the reasonings of her own lust or desire about it. The last I am inclined to think was the case. But let these things be as they may, it is certain the tree appeared pleasant to her eye, and a tree to be desired to make one wise. This her lust or the serpent told her. All of us know, that our lust is subtile, and eloquent in its persuasions, and never fails to promise that we shall be wiser and happier by its indulgence. Eve was overcome by the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye. She eat, and gave also to her husband and he did eat.
He hearkened to the voice of his wife, and thus “Adam was not deceived but the woman being
deceived was (first) in the transgression.” 1 Tim. ii. 14.
It will likely be said, plausible as this appears, what evidence have we that Eve's lust is here represented by the serpent, and that this dialogue was between her and her own lust. The evidence which inclines me to this view of the subject I shall very briefly state.
1st. I find lust or desire stated in Scripture to be the source or origin of transgression. James says, chap. i. 15—" Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.” See also chap. iv. 1. and other texts which I need not quote. The conceivings of lust after any object, never could bring forth sin, unless that object was prohibited. Paul says-"I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said thou shalt not covet." Rom. vii. 7. It is the doctrine of Scripture, and of common sense, that where there is no law, there can be no transgression. Allow me then to ask, must not lust in Eve have been the source of sin, just as it is in us? Can any good reason be assigned why it is now the source of sin in us but was not so with her ?
2d. Sin, and lust the source of sin, are always represented in Scripture as deceitful and beguiling. Paul, Heb. iii. 13. speaks of the “ deceitfulness of sin," and declares, Rom. vii. 11. that sin taking occasion by the commandment “ deceived” him and slew him. And in Eph. iv. 22. he exhorts to put off—“ the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” And as all the conceivings of lust are in the heart, it is said—“the heart is deceitful above all things.” Jer. xvii. 9. Such are merely a specimen of the texts which speak of this. The serpent then was more subtile than any beast of the field, and was just as fit to represent the deceit of lust, as the dove is to represent
the quality of harmlessness, or the lamb that of meekness. Those familiar with the Scriptures know, that many of the beasts of the field are used as figures, in a similar way, which it would be tedious to detail. For example: our Lord says, “be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves. And it is well known, that in Daniel and the book of Revelation, the writers deliver their prophecies under the figures of beasts, and other symbols derived from the material world.
3d. In after parts of Scripture, the serpent is in fact used, as a figure for cunning and deceit. The word rendered serpent in the account before us is Nehesh. Taylor says it signifies the common snake. But in southern, hot, desert countries, the snakes may be larger or more venomous than in the cold northern climates.” It is used literally for the snake or serpent, Job xxvi. 13. Eccles. x. 8. Prov. xxx. 19. Deut. viii. 15. Numb. xxi. 7, 9. Amos ix. 3. Jer. xlvi. 22. Mic. vii. 17. Jer. viii. 17. Eccles. X. 11. Amos v. 19. Numb. xxi. 6. The same word is used for the brazen serpent which Moses made, 2 Kings, xviii. 4. Num. xxi. 9. Also, for Moses’ rod changed to a serpent, Exod. iv. 3. and vii. 15. It is used figuratively for tribes and nations, and to express a state of subjugation, degradation, &c. Gen. xlix. 17. Isai. xxvii. 1. Mic. vii. 17. Isai.' lxv. 25. This word is also used figuratively, to set forth the deceit, and lies of wicked men.
Please consult the following passages. Psalms lviii. 3-5. and cxl. 1-4. Eccles. x. 11. Isai. xiv. 29. Prov. xxiii. 32. If the cunning and deceit of the serpent was learned by men from experience and observation, and was used figuratively for this purpose, why not also by Moses in this account, in showing how Eve was deceived by her own lust? Was it not just as proper a figure, to show how sin entered by the deceit of lust, as to illustrate its deceitfulness, in its progress among men afterwards? If lust is deceitful
now, and if the serpent on account of its subtilty is a proper figure to express it, at what date shall we fix the commencement of its deceit, and the use of this figure, if my view of this subject is controverted ?
4th. The view given of Eve's deception by the serpent, or her own lust, accords with every man's own experience. We all, like her, have appetites and desires, nor is it sinful to have them, or even to gratify them in the way, or to the extent God allows us. But I ask, where is the man to be found, who has not felt the conceivings of lust within him after some forbidden object? And can any man deny the subtile, deceitful influence, which lust or desire has had over his reason and understanding ? Yea, I appeal to every man, if something of a similar dialogue has not taken place with him and his own lust, as I have said took place between Eve and hers. Our consciences, if well informed, will reason and remonstrate against our desires, and in favor of obedience to the commandment. And can the man be found, who will affirm, that his lusts have never flattered him into disobedience? In the very best of men, the flesh has lusted against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and made them exclaim_" wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death."
5th. The view I have given of Eve's deception, accords with what is stated in the subsequent part of the chapter. We shall merely glance at this. The first thing stated is the eyes of them both were opened,” as the serpent or lust had suggested to Eve, verse 5. They came to know evil as well as good by disobedience, but it did not add to their happiness and comfort as was expected. Does not every man find this, who yields to the flattery of his lusts, and transgresses the commandments of God? But what deserves our notice is, the account to which the offend
ers are called. Adam is first called up, and asked 66 What is this that thou hast done ?" He answers “the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.” The woman is next interrogated—“what is this that thou hast done ?” She answers—the serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” What serpent beguiled her? I have said her own lust taking occasion by the commandment beguiled her. Let us see how this view accords with the sentence pronounced on the serpent ? God does not say to Eve's lust or the serpent66 what is this that thou hast done?! But because thou hast done this thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field: upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” The sentence is in accordance with the figurative use of the term serpent. It would have destroyed the congruity of the account to have done otherwise. Well, let us see how this sentence agrees to men's bodily appetites and desires, as figuratively expressed by the term serpent. We have said that man was created with bodily appetites, passions and desires. These were given him to be in subjection to God's will, and not gratified beyond the limits which he had prescribed. Eve listening to them beyond this limit transgressed. In her and all who have followed her example, when gratified beyond this they become degraded and groveling even below every beast of the field. The real bodily wants of man are few, and their supply easily obtained. But to his artificial, sinful desires, no boundaries can hardly be prescribed. These often are so low, and filthy, that no beast of the field is ever found given to similar indulgencies. Men's lusts and passions" are cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the field.” Like the natural serpent, dust or earthly gratifications are their enjoyment, until the person