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ator and the creature? And between whom, but them, can the contest subsist, for the love and obedience of man?
The tree of knowledge was situated in the midst of the garden, as was the tree of life. They stood near together, but they stood in opposition. The divine dispensations are always best illustrated by each other. Under the Gospel, Jesus Christ is the tree of life. What is it that opposes him, and, notwithstanding all that he has done, and suffered, and commanded, and promised, and threatened, is continually, by its solicitations, being ever present and at hand, seducing men into the path of death? Scripture and experience again join in assuring us, that it is the world. When we are in the house of God, which is Eden restored, engaged in hearing his word, and in the exercises of devotion, we sit down, as it were under the shadow of the tree of life. No sooner are we gone from it, and too often even while we are there, the world intrudes, and draws off to other subjects our thoughts and our affections. What saith Moses under the law? “Behold I set before
you, this day, life and death, good and evil'; "choose yek.” Are not these the two trees of Paradise? But imagination cannot form to itself a more exquisite and affecting piece of scenery upon this subject than that exhibited by king Solomon in the book of Proverbs; a book whose end and design is to teach us the true knowledge of good and evil, that we may pursue the one and avoid the other. In his seventh chapter, under the usual figure of a harlot, loosely decked in a profusion of vain ornaments, he introduces the world, or the false wisdom thereof, by its several fictitious charms and meretricious blandishments, alluring the unwary to the chambers of destruction. In the succeeding chapter, by way of perfect contrast, appears, in the beauty and majesty of holiness, the offspring of the Almighty, the Son of the Father, the true and eternal Wisdom of God, with all the tender love and affectionate concern of a parent, inviting men to the substantial joys and unfading pleasures of immortality, in the house of salvation. Again, we are presented with the tree of death and the tree of life. From Solomon let us pass to St. Paul.
k Deut. xxx, 15.
“ To be carnally “minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is " life. If
ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the
body, ye shall live!.” Behold once more the trees of death and life. Such, in good truth, is the face of things every where offering itself to view; such is the contest incessantly carrying on in this present world, which, on the one hand, entices the children of Adam, by giving themselves up to its enjoyments, to taste the tree of death: while the Redeemer, on the other, still continues to cry aloud by his word, “ To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the “ tree of life."
The tree of knowledge was designed to be the test of Adam's obedience, the subject matter of his trial.
i Rom. viii. 6, 13.
The world, with its desirable objects, is the test of our obedience, the subject-matter of our trial, whether we will make it our chief good, or prefer the promise of God to it. Thus the trial of Abraham was, whether he would quit bis country and kindred, and yield up his only son in obedience to the divine command, trusting to a recompense in reversion. The trial of Job was whether he would still serve God, when deprived of his possessions, his family, and his health. After this sort was our Lord Jesus Christ himself proved by the most powerful incitements of the human passions. Of the tree of knowledge Satan tempted him to put forth his liand, and take and eat, that the second Adam might be tried after the example of the first. The disciples also are tried in like manner with their blessed Master. They are instructed to renounce the world, and to deny themselves : which is only the original probibition in other words: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat.”
The apparent qualities of the forbidden tree are represented to have been these: It seemed "good “ for food, and fair to the sight, and a tree to be de
sired to make one wise.” It is remarkable, that St. John, laying before us an inventory of the world, and all that is in it, employs a division entirely similar; “Love not the world,” says he, “neither the “ things that are in the world. If any man love the
world, the love of the Father is not in him. For “all that is in the world, the desire of the flesh, and “the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not " of the Father, but is of the world. And the world " passeth away, and the desire thereof; but he that “ doeth the will of God abideth for everm.' ” Here is a picture of the fatal tree, full blown, with all its temptations about it, drawn, by the pencil of truth, in its original and proper colours. The expressions tally, to the ininutest degree of exactness. The " desire of the flesh ” answers to “good for food," the “ desire of the eyes” is parallel with "fair to the "sight;" and the “pride of life" corresponds with “a tree to be desired to make one wise." The opposition between this tree and the other is strongly marked. “If any man love the world, the love of " the Father is not in him." And we are informed, that one leads to death, the other to life. “The “ world passeth away, and the desire thereof; but " he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." Precisely conformable, in every circumstance, was the threefold temptation of the second Adam.
He was tempted to convert stones into bread for food, to satisfy the desires of the flesh;" he was tempted with the kingdoms of the world, and the glories of them, to satisfy “the desire of the eyes; tempted to work a miracle on the pinnacle of the temple, and to show himself moving aloft through the air in the sight of the multitude, to display "the “ pride of life.” He repelled the tempter, as our first parents should have done, and as we their children should do now, instead of judging according to appearances, by a firm and resolute appeal to the revelation of God.
m 1 John, ii. 15.
Thus, whether we consider the tree of knowledge as to its nature, its situation, its design, or its qualities, it seems to have been a very apt and significant emblem of the creature, or the world, with its delights and its glories, the objects opposed in every age to God and his word. To reject the allurements of the former, and obey the dictates of the latter, is the knowledge of good and evil, and the true wisdom of man. So that the forbidden tree in Paradise, when the divine intentions concerning it are explained from other parts of Scripture, teaches the important lesson more than once inculcated by Solomon, and which was likewise the result of holy Job's inquiries :-“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that " is WISDOM; and to DEPART FROM EVIL IS UN
Whoever shall attentively reflect on the evidence which has been produced, and duly consider the perfect coincidence and harmony of the Scriptures and dispensations of God upon the subject, will, perhaps, be convinced, that, in the main, we must have fixed upon the true exposition of “the know
ledge of good and evil,” and the nature of man's original trial. There is a doubt, or difficulty, which offers itself, and may seem to require a solution. It is this. We all know, as the state of human affairs is at present, by what manner, and by what temptations, the world solicits our desires after objects forbidden : but what temptation, you will say could it hold forth to our first parents, existing alone, invested with sovereignty over it, and possessed of all its pleasures and its glories in the garden of Eden?