James Smith, 1860
This world at its creation, must have been a beautiful world, for God not only pronounced it good — but very good. But if the world was beautiful, what must Eden have been? A garden, the plan of which was conceived in the mind of God, and was intended to show forth his beauty, wisdom, and benevolence to man. Planted in a sunny climate, with every variety of fruit and flowers. Stocked with birds of beauteous plumage and enchanting song, with animals of every kind — but all docile, gentle, and full of affection. Provided with a helper, a social companion, the counterpart of himself. Man had everything to feast the senses — and delight the heart. He was happy — perfectly happy.
All things were placed at his disposal, and put under his control — except one tree. That tree was to be the test of obedience, and a standing witness of his accountability. What splendid possessions, what glorious prospects were his! But an enemy crept into that garden, he deceived the woman by his subtlety, and she fell. Not satisfied to fall alone, she solicited her husband, and with his eyes wide open, out of the depth of his affection — he put her in the place of God, and he fell too! The man, now vainly and wickedly imagined himself to be as God, and to have a right to the tree of life, therefore the Lord drove them out of Eden. Genesis 3:24.
He had been God's friend and favorite. He walked in sweetest communion with him, in the walks and groves of paradise. But now he was a criminal, convicted of crime. He was the enemy of God, and would if he could, usurp God's throne. His love to God, his sympathy with God, was gone. He was unfit to stand in God's presence, he had forfeited all claim to God's love. Paradise was no place for a rebel — he must therefore be expelled! He had heard his doom, he had preferred his own will to God's — and he must take the consequences.
But mercy was mingled with judgment. They were not turned out naked — God made coats of animal skins, and clothed them. They were not cast into hell — only driven out into the world. They had lost their characters, being convicted of theft, as thieves they were expelled. They had forfeited their situation, and without a character, and without a home, they were sent to till the ground, now under God's curse, and bringing forth thorns and briars as the evidence of it.
Poor guilty Adam! Poor unhappy Eve! And are these our parents! Are we the children of thieves and robbers? We are! Never then let us boast of our ancestry, or be proud of our descent; but in tracing our pedigree, let us look back far enough, and we shall see that we descended from a guilty, ungrateful, wretched pair! Will not this humble us? It ought to. Will not this stop all boasting? It should.
"He drove out the man." Was he willing to leave that enchanting spot? Did he draw back when he saw his deserved doom? If so, it was in vain. From Eden, he must depart. From the tree of life, he must be debarred. Into the world he must proceed — a godless, friendless, unhappy man! His wife was no longer the helper he needed — but was likely to increase his misery and aggravate his woe! His conscience, once his friend — was now his foe! Once it ministered only pleasure — but now it ministers condemnation and gloom! The world was before him — he might wander where he would. But go where he may — he carried the elements of his misery within him! He was now a weary, wandering, wretched, lost and ruined creature! The glorious garden was lost. His heart's peace was lost!
And now the words, "You will surely die!" rings through all the chambers of his soul. He must have thought, "What is dying? What is it to be dead?" O miserable man, to bring yourself into such a state — nor yourself alone — but all your unborn posterity! Here Adam leaves us: under condemnation — with a depraved nature; weary — and desiring rest; wandering — and needing a home; wretched — and requiring comfort; lost — and in need of a Savior.
Where Adam leaves us — Jesus finds us. He comes to deliver from guilt, to rescue from death, and to restore to God. He comes to give rest to the weary, comfort to the wretched, a home to the wandering, and salvation to the lost. He came to us — to seek and to save that which was lost. He invites us to come to him — as weary as we are, as thirsty as we are, as lost and ruined as we are — and promises to give us rest, to satisfy the cravings of our immortal nature, and to save us gratuitously and forever!
He receives all comers, nor was an applicant ever refused, or one that came, cast out. He reconciles the soul to God, harmonizing all the divine perfections in its salvation; and introducing it to a state of friendship and fellowship with God. He restores to the divine favor, and brings back peace into the conscience, and joy into the soul. He saves at once from condemnation, and from the power, dominion, and love of sin; and will save eternally from the curse and all the effects of the fall. He prepares for a state — better than that of unfallen Adam; and for a paradise — superior to that which God planted at the first. We lost much by Adam — but we gain more by Christ! And therefore, though we can never rejoice that we sinned, or that God was dishonored, and man made miserable by the fall; yet we shall rejoice, that God in his infinite wisdom, took advantage of Adam's fall, to raise us to greater glory, and fill us with sweeter joy — than would have been enjoyed, if Adam had never fallen!
But, as we are implicated in all the consequences of the fall — only by virtue of our union to, and descent from, Adam; so we can only be savingly interested in, and enjoy all the blessings of redemption — by virtue of union to Christ. We must have faith in Christ. We must be united to Christ. We must receive the Spirit from Christ. We must be conformed to Christ. Or we shall never be glorious and happy with Christ.
Adam was driven out of the garden — because he sinned; and we shall be admitted into heaven, into glory — because Jesus obeyed, and suffered. Adam's ruin was wholly of himself — it was entirely his own act and deed; our salvation is wholly of another — it is altogether through the doing and dying of Christ. Adam had to blame himself — and we have to praise the Savior.
Let us see to it then, that we truly believe in Christ, that we are truly united to Christ, otherwise we shall never be saved by Christ. And then let us rejoice, that though we lost our character, or righteousness — by Adam's sin; we have gained a far superior, and more glorious one — by Christ's obedience. "For as by one man's disobedience — many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one — shall many be made righteous."