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“ from thence it was parted, and became into four “ heads.” Thus the great Architect of the universe, he who, in the language of the apostle, “ built all “things,” is described as selecting, disposing, and adorning this wonderful and happy spot, wherein was to be placed the creature made after his own image and likeness, but a little lower than the angels. Does not this circumstance suggest to us, that something more was intended than what generally enters into our idea of a garden?
Whenever the garden of Eden is mentioned in the Scriptures, it is called “the garden of God," or "the “ garden of the Lord,” expressions which denote some peculiar designation of it to sacred purposes, some appropriation to God and his service, as is confessedly the case with many similar phrases; such as “ house of God,” “altar of God," “man of God," and the like; all implying that the persons and things spoken of were consecrated to him, and set apart for a religious use.
When it is said, “ The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it, " and to KEEP it,” the words undoubtedly direct us to conceive of it as a place for the exercise of the body. We readily acquiesce in this, as the truth, but not as the whole truth; it being difficult to imagine, that so noble a creature, the lord of the world, should have no other or higher employment. Much more satisfaction will be found in supposing that our first parents, while thus employed, like the priests under the law while they ministered in the temple, were led to contemplations of a more exalted nature, serving to the example and shadow of hea
venly things.” The powers of the body, and the faculties of the mind, might be set to work at the same time, by the same objects. And it is well known, that the words here used ", do as frequently denote mental as corporeal operations; and under the ideas of DRESSING and KEEPING the sacred
garden, may fairly imply the CULTIVATION and OBSERVATION of such religious truths as were pointed out by the external signs and sacraments which Paradise contained.
That some of the objects in Eden were of a sacramental nature, we can hardly doubt, when we read of “the tree of knowledge,” and “the tree of life.” The fruit of a material tree could not, by any virtue inherent in it, convey “ the knowledge of good and “ evil," or cause that, by eating it, a man should “live 6 for ever.” But such fruit might be ordained as a sacrament, upon the participation of which, certain spiritual effects should follow. This is entirely conformable to reason, to the nature of man, and of religion.
It is remarkable, that, in the earliest ages, a custom should be found to prevail, both among the people of God and idolaters, of setting apart and consecrating gardens and groves for the purpose of religious worship. Thus Abraham, we are told,
planted a tree, or grove, at Beersheba, and called
on the name of the everlasting God'.” The worshippers of false gods are described, in the writings
of the prophets, as “sacrificing in gardens," as "pu“rifying themselves in gardens,” behind "one tree “in the midst;" and it is foretold, that they should be “ashamed for the oaks which they had desired, " and confounded for the gardens which they had “ chosen m.” A surprising uniformity in this point, may be traced through all the different periods of idolatry, as subsisting among the Canaanites, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans. Groves were dedicated to the gods, and particular species of trees were sacred to particular deities. The same usage prevailed among the Druids, in these parts of the world. And to this day, the aisles of our Gothic churches and cathedrals are evidently built in imitation of those arched groves, which of old supplied the place of temples. It is not, therefore, without reason, that the author of a learned dissertation on the subject makes the following remark:-“These were “ the hallowed fanes of the ancients, in which they
performed divine worship. And indeed, if we " would trace up this rite to its origin, we must have “ recourse to the true God himself, who instituted in “ Paradise a sacred garden or grove, ordained Adam
to be the high-priest of it, and consecrated in it two trees, for a public testimony of religion.” But upon the suppositi
the supposition now made, that the garden of Eden served as a kind of temple for our first parents, might we not expect to find some resemblance of it in the tabernacle and temple afterwards erected, by the appointment of God, for his residence
m Isa. Ixv. 3. lxvi. 17,
in the midst of his people Israel? The question is by no means absurd, especially if we recollect that it was the design of the Mosaic sanctuary, with its apparatus, to prefigure the restoration of those spiritual blessings which were forfeited and lost by the transgression in Paradise. Let us, therefore, inquire what satisfaction the Scriptures will afford us upon this point.
The principal objects in the garden of Eden with which revelation has brought us acquainted, are the plantations of trees, and the rivers of water by which those plantations were nourished and supported in glory and beauty. Was there any thing of this sort in or about the tabernacle and temple ?
With regard to the plantations, two passages in the Psalms incline us to think there were such in the courts of the Jewish sanctuary, as well as in that of Eden: "I am like a green olive tree in the house of "God". The righteous shall flourish like a palm
tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those " that be planted in the house of the Lord, shall o flourish in the courts of our God.. They shall
bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and “ flourishing"." These texts seem to suppose the real existence of such plantations, and, at the same time, to intimate the end and design of them; namely, to represent the progress and improvement of the faithful in virtue, through the influence of the divine favour. The same pleasing and expressive image is employed to the same purpose, in the first Psalm
n Psal. lii. 8.
Psal. xcii. 12, &c.
“ He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of “ water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; “his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he “ doeth shall prosper.
As to the rivers of water which supplied and refreshed the garden of Eden, and all its productions, we meet with something analogous to them, both in the tabernacle and temple.
During the journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to Canaan, the camp in general, and the sacred tabernacle in particular, were supplied with water in a miraculous manner, not only at the time when Moses smote the rock, but the same supply accompanied them afterwards.-" They drank of that “ rock,” that is, the water of that rock," which u followed them." “ He led thee,” says Moses, “through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein
were fiery serpents and scorpions, and drought, “ where there was no - water; who made water to “ flow for thee out of the rock of Ainto.” And these waters, like those in Eden, were of a sacramental nature. They did all drink the same spiritual drink; “ for they drank of that spiritual rock which followed " them, and that rock was Christo.” How lively a representation of that heavenly grace which comforts our weary spirits, and enables us to accomplish our journey through the wilderness of life!
If, from the tabernacle, we proceed to the temple, we are there presented with the sacred streams of Siloah, breaking forth and flowing from the mount of
p Deut. viii. 15.
9 1 Cor. x. 4.