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Although the Mosaic record of man's residence in Paradise is mournfully brief, we have sufficient scriptural authority for lingering a little while on Eve's innocent career. Placed in a garden with every capability of felicity within herself,―nature, meditation, commune with the Almighty in thanksgiving, or with Him direct, through the Voice which revealed the invisible presence, the sweet blessed intercourse of kindred spirits, springing from the love she bore to and received from her husband, simple and imperfect as such sources of enjoyment may appear, they were more exquisite, more perfect, than we can dream of now.
The spirit which God had breathed within man when he became a living soul, was the likeness or image of God in which "made He man ;" and this spirit, or essence, enabled both Adam and Eve to commune in close and beatified intercourse with the glorified Creator whence that essence sprung. No sin could fling its dark shade between the soul and its God; and so deaden spiritual joy. Nought of doubt could stagnate the love which must have been excited in their hearts towards their Father and their God. All around and within them bore such impress of His hand, as to excite nought but gratitude and devotion. If even now, when once we have realised the love of God and submission to His will-when once we can so put our trust in Him as to give Him "all our heart," and come to Him in sorrow and in joy, convinced that he knows and loves us better than ourselves—we experience a peace, a blessedness no earthly tempests can remove: how thrice blessed must have been the felicity of Eve!
Apart from the spirit which the Eternal gave to lead
man to Himself, was the MIND which opened to the creatures formed in His image the inexhaustible resources of wisdom, imagination, knowledge-all that could create that higher kind of happiness, which is synonymous with mental joy. Sources of what is now termed wisdom, that of books and man, were indeed unknown to our first parents; nor did they need them. In the wonders of creation, the tree, the herb, the flower, the gushing rivers, the breezy winds; nay, from the mighty form of the largest beasts, to the structure of the tiniest leaf; the flow of the river to the globule of the dew, which watered the face of the whole. earth, there was enough to excite and satisfy their mental powers; enough to excite emotions alike of wonder and adoration. Their commune with the angelic messengers of their benevolent Creator, their tidings of Heaven and its hosts, must have excited the highest and purest pleasures of imagination, and so diversified and lightened the mental exercises of wisdom, which the palpable and visible objects of creation so continually call forth.
Nor was spiritual and mental felicity the only portion of Eve-the affections, the impulses of the heart, fresh from the creating Hand of Love, had full play-created, as the perfecting finish to man's happiness, beholding him, the lord of all on which she gazed-earth formed' to yield him her fruits-water and air, to unite for his refreshment-every animal obeying his authority-instinctively feeling, too, the mighty power of his intellect, the strength of his mind and frame, the deepest reverence must have mingled with, and so perfected, her love. Nor would this acknowledgment tend to degrade woman
in the scale of creation. Formed, like man, in the immortal likeness of the Lord, she was his equal in his responsibilites towards God and in the care of his creatures; endowed equally with man but differently as to the nature of those endowments. His mission was to protect and guide and have dominion-hers to soothe, bless, persuade to right, and "help" in all things "meet" for immortal beings.
The existence of Eve, then, in her innocence, was, in a word, an existence of love-love towards God and nature and man, which none of the infirmities of our present state could cloud or interrupt. Do we err, then, in saying that, even in the brief record of Scripture, we have sufficient authority for delineating the felicity of our first parents in Eden? And will it not demonstrate appealingly to us, those pleasures which God Himself ordained, and which even now, might so be cultivated as to bring us happiness, as infinitely superior to the amusements so called as innocence is to sin?
But beautiful as is this picture, we must turn from it to consider feelings and events of a sadly different nature. In the most conspicuous part of Paradise, the Eternal had called forth two trees, differing in their magnificence, perhaps in the halo with which they may have been encircled as peculiar witnesses of their Creator, from every other in the garden. They were the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. Of the first so little is known that we are justified in supposing the intention of its existence was frustrated by the disobedience of man; a conjecture founded on the solemn fact, that as the Lord created not one thing in vain, that tree must also have had its use and intention, and from
the words which follow at a later period, "Lest man put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever," we are quite authorised to suppose it possessed some qualites yet mightier than the Tree of Knowledge, with which its taste would have gifted man, had he not by rebellion frustrated the beneficent design of his Creator, and forfeited the privileges which might have been his own.
Of the Tree of Knowledge, its intention and its uses, we have sufficient information. The Eternal knew the nature of the creatures He had formed; that it was but an easy and slender trial of obedience and of love, if they had no temptation to rebel or disobey. Though subject to His sway, though deriving existence from His hand, and enjoying life and all its varied sources of felicity from the same infinite love, yet the Eternal, in His wisdom and his justice, had endowed them with the power of free-will; of listening to and following, or struggling with and conquering, the seeds of corruption, which from their earthly shell were inherent, though as yet kept so completely under subjection from the divine and purifying nature of the soul, that, until he was tried, man himself was scarcely sensible of their existence. To have guarded him jealously from every temptation— to have surrounded him with nought but sources of pleasure and enjoyment, and so called forth only the grateful and adoring faculties of the spirit, was not according to that divine and perfect economy of love and justice which characterised the dealings of the Creator with his creatures. It was deeper, dearer love, to permit man to win his immortality, his eternal innocence, than to bestow them upon him unsought, and therefore
little valued. They could be guilty of no crime, in the world's parlance so termed. They were the sole possessors of the newly created earth: in daily commune with their Creator and therefore in neither idolatry, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, dishonouring of parents, murder, adultery, theft, false-witness, or covetousness, could they sin. God knew that all the crimes which might devastate the earth would spring from one alone, DISOBEDIENCE; and therefore was it that His infinite wisdom ordained that the trial of man's love, and faith, and virtue, should simply be, obedience to His will.
"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayst freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of the good and evil thou shalt not eat; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Whether this threatened chastisement was robed in mystery, or that Adam had beheld death in the inferior animals (for Holy Writ gives us no authority for believing that even they knew not death till after the fall), and so could have some idea of what he would become, even as a clod of the earth if he disobeyed, we may not here determine; suffice it, that the Eternal was too merciful, too just, to threaten His creature with a chastisement for disobedience which he could not comprehend.
Beautiful to look upon, and exquisite in its fragrance, we may imagine the Tree of Knowledge extending its rich foliage and tempting fruit in the most conspicuous part of the garden, no doubt frequently attracting the admiration of Adam and Eve, perhaps exciting wishes, which the spirit within them had as yet power effectually to banish, or entirely subdue. Alone, unprotected