Chapter 1 - Adam

PART II (Chapters 1-7)

(Genesis chap. iii.)

The third chapter of Genesis is the real cornmencement of
that series of lives of which as is plain, the book mainly consists. It is
where the first man ceases to be "a type of Him that was to come" that he
becomes for us a type in the fullest way—figure and fact in one. The page
of his life (and but a page it is) that treats of innocency is not our example
who were born in sin. Our history begins as fallen, and so too the history of
our new life in God’s grace. Figure and fact, as I have observed, are
blended together here. We must be prepared for this, which we shall find in
some measure the case all through these histories. Especially in this first one
of all, what could be more impressive for us than the unutterably solemn fact
itself? Children as we are of the fall, its simple record is the most perfect
revelation that could be made of what we are in what is now our native
condition, and also of how this came to be such. It is the title-deed to our
sad inheritance of sin. And yet what follows in closest connection may well
enable us to look at it steadfastly; for the ruins of the old creation have
been, as we know, materials which God has used to build up for Himself that new
one in which He shall yet find (and we with Him) eternal rest.

simple question entertained in the woman’s soul is the loss of innocence
forever. It is enough only to admit a question as to Infinite Love to ruin all.
This the serpent knew full well when he said unto the woman, "Yea, hath God
said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? "—that is, Has God
indeed said so? In her answer you can see at once how that has done its work.
She is off the ground of faith, and is reasoning; and the moment reasoning as
to God begins, the soul is away from Him, and then further it is impossible by
searching to find Him out. Thus in Paradise itself, with all the evidence of
divine goodness before her eyes, she turns infidel at once. "And the woman said
unto the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but
of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye
shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, LEST ye die.’"

Notice how plain it is that she is already fallen. She has admitted the
question as to the apparent strangeness of God’s ways, and immediately her
eyes fasten upon the forbidden thing until she can see little else. God had set
(chap. ii. 9.) the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and without any
prohibition. For the woman now it is the forbidden tree that occupies that
place. Instead of life, she puts death (or what was identified with it for her)
as the central thing. The "garden of delight" has faded from her eyes. It has
become to her the very garden of fable afterward* (where all was not fable, but
this very scene as depicted by him who was now putting it before the enchanted
gaze of his victim) in which the one golden-fruited tree hung down its laden
branches, guarded from man only by the dragon’s jealousy. But here God
and the dragon had changed places. Thus she adds to the prohibition, as if
to justify herself against One who has lost His soverernty for her heart, "Ye
shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it "—which He had not said. A
mere touch, as she expressed it to herself, was death; and why, then, had He
put it before them only to prohibit it? What was it He was guarding from them
with such jealous care? Must it not be indeed something that He valued highly?

* The garden of Hesperides.

She first adds to the prohibition, then
she weakens the penalty. Instead of "ye shall surely die," it is for her only
"lest [for fear] ye die." There is no real certainty that death would be the
result. Thus the question of God’s love becomes a question of His truth
also. I do not want upon the throne a being I cannot trust; hence comes the
tampering with His word. The heart deceives the head. If I do not want it to be
true, I soon learn to question if it be so.

All this length the woman,
in her first and only answer to the serpent, goes. He can thus go further, and
step at once into the place of authority with her which God has so plainly
lost. He says, not- "Ye shall not surely die "-for so much the woman had
already said - but "Surely ye shall not die." Her feeble question of it becomes
on his part the peremptory denial both of truth and love in God: "Surely ye
shall not 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."

sure he is of his dupe! and she on her part needs no further solicitation: "And
when the woman saw that the tree was good " - she was seeing through the
devil’s eyes now - " that the tree was good for food " - there the lust of
the flesh was doing its work - " and that it was pleasant to the eyes " - there
the lust of the eyes comes out - " and a tree to be desired to make one wise" -
there the pride of life is manifested - " she took of the fruit thereof, and
did eat; and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat."

the sin was consummated. And herein we may read, if we will, as clear as day,
our moral genealogy. These are still our own features, as in a glass,
naturally. Let us pause and ponder them for a moment, as we may well do,
seriously and solemnly.

It is clear as can be that with the heart man
first of all disbelieved. His primary condition was not, as some would so fain
persuade us, that of a seeker by his natural reason after God. God had declared
Himself in a manner suited to his condition, in goodncss which he had only to
enjoy, and which was demonstration to his every sense and faculty of the moral
character of Him from whose hand all came to him. The very prohibition should
have been his safeguard, reminding the sole master of that fair and gladsome
scene, were he tempted to forget it, that he had himself a Master. Nay, would
not the prohibited tree itself have proved itself still "the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil," had he respected the prohibition, by giving him to
learn what sin was in a way he could not else have known it, as "in subjection
to the will of God"?

The entertaining of a question as to God was, as we
have seen, man’s ruin. He has been a questioner ever since. Having fallen
from the sense of infinite goodness, he either remains simply unconscious of
it, - his gods the mere deification of his lusts and passions, - or, if
conscience be too strong for this, involves himself in toilsome processes of
reasoning at the best, to find out as afar off the God who is so nigh. He
reasons as to whether He that formed the ear can hear, or He that made the
eyes can see, or He that gave man knowledge know, or, no less foolishly,
whether He from whom comes the ability to conceive of justice, goodness, mercy,
love, has these as His attributes or not! And still the heart deceives the
head: what he wills, that he believes. For a holy God would be against his
lusts, and a righteous God take vengeance on his sins; and how can God be good
and the world so evil, or love man and let him suffer and die? Thus man
reasons, taken in the toils of him who has helped him to gain the knowledge of
which he boasts, - so painful and so little availing.

The way out of all
this entanglement is a very simple one, however unwelcome it may be. He has but
to judge himself for what he is, to escape out of his captor’s hands.
Self-judgment would justify the holiness and righteousness of God, and make him
find in his miseries, not the effect of God’s indifference as to him, but
of his own sins. It would make him also at least suspect the certainty of his
own conclusions, which so many selfish interests might combine to

But still "Ye shall be as gods" deceives him, and thus he will
judge everything, and God also, rather than himself. And so, being his own god,
he becomes the victim of his own pride, - his god is his belly, as Scripture
expresses it; insufficient to himself, and unable to satisfy the cravings of a
nature which thus, even in its degradation, bears witness of having been
created for something more, he falls under the power of his own lust, the easy
dupe of any bait that Satan can prepare for him.

It is thus evident how
the fall from God - the loss of confidence in divine goodness - is the secret
of his whole condition - of both his moral corruption and his misery together.
For let my circumstances be what they may, if I can see them ordered for me
unfailingly by One in whom infinite wisdom, power, and goodness combine, and
whose love toward me I am assured of, my restlessness is gone, my will
subjected to that other will in which I can but acquiesce and delight: I have
"escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust," and I have been
delivered from the misery attendant upon it.

To this, then, must the
heart be brought back; and thus it is very simple how "with the heart man
believeth to righteousness." The faith that is real and operative in the soul
(and no other can of course be of any value), first of all and above all in
order to holiness, works peace and restoration of the heart to God and, let me
say, of God to the heart. How fatal, yet how common, a mistake to invert this
order! And what an inlet of blessedness it is thus to cease from one’s own
natural self-idolatry in the presence of a God who is really (and worthy to be)
that! There is no such blessedness beside.

But we must return to look at
man’s natural condition. Notice how surely this leprosy of sin spreads,
and most surely to those nearest and most intimate. Tempted ourselves, we
become tempters of others, and are not satisfied until we drag down those who
love us - I cannot say, whom we love, for this is too horrible to be called
love - to our own level. Nay, if even we would consciously do no such thing, we
cannot help doing all we can to effect it. We dress up sin for them in the
most alluring forms; we invest them with an atmosphere of it which they breathe
without suspicion. The woman may be here more efficient than the serpent.
Herself deceived, she does not deceive the man, but she allures him. The
victory is easier, speedier, than that over herself: "She gave also unto her
husband with her, and he did eat."

The first effect is, "their eyes were
opened;" the first "invention," of which they have sought out so many since, an
apron to hide their shame from their own eyes. Thus conscience begins in shame,
and sets them at work upon expedients, whereby they may haply forget their
sins, and attain respectability at least, if conscience be no more

How natural such a thought is we are all witnesses to
ourselves, and yet it is a thing full of danger. It was the effort to retain
just such a fig-leaf apron which sent the accusers of the adulteress out of the
presence of the Lord. "Let him that is without sin among you cast the first
stone at her" had been like a lightning-flash, revealing to themselves their
own condition. They were "convicted in their own consciences;" but a convicted
conscience does not always lead to self-judgment or to God: and "they,
convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest
" - the one who naturally would have most character to uphold, - " even unto
the last," and left the sinner in the only possible safe place for a sinner -
in the presence of the sinner’s Saviour. She, whose fig-leaf apron was
wholly gone, who had no more character or respectability to maintain, could
stay. This was what the loss of that still left to her; and so had He said to
the Pharisees, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before
you." This is the misery still of man’s first invention, which in so many
shapes he still repeats.

When the voice of the Lord God is heard in the
garden, the fig-leaf apron avails nothing. He hides himself from God among the
trees of the garden: "I was afraid, because I was naked," is his own account.
This is what alternates ever with self justification in a soul: the voice of
God - the thought of God - is terror to it. These two principles will be found
together in every phase of so-called natural religion the world over, and they
will be found equally wherever Christianity itself is mutilated or
misapprehended, making their appearance again. Man, in short, untaught of God,
never gets beyond them; for he never can quite believe that he has for God a
righteousness that He will accept, and he never can imagine God Himself
providing a righteousness when he has none.

Hence, fear is the
controlling principle always. His religiousness is an effort to avert wrath -
in reality, if it might be, to get away from God: and even with the highest
profession it may be, still "there is none that seeketh after God." Notice
thus, the Lord’s picture of the "elder son" in the parable, who,
hard-working, respectable, no wanderer from his father, no prodigal, but
righteously severe on him who has spent his living with harlots, finds it yet a
service barren enough of joy. The music and dancing in the father’s house
are a strange sound to him: when he hears it, he calls a servant to know what
it all means. His own friends, and his merriment, are all outside, spite of his
correct deportment, and he speaks out what is in his heart toward his father
when he says, "Thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my

There the Lord holds up the mirror for the Pharisee of all
time. Plenty of self-assertion, of self-vindication, even as against God
Himself; the tie to Him, self-interest; his heart elsewhere; a round of barren
and joyless services. This must needs break down in terror when God comes
really in deed, the principle all through is fear, - servile, not

So Adam hides himself among the trees of the garden, but the
voice of the blessed God follows him. "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and
said unto him, ‘Where art thou?’"

Here, then, we begin to
trace the actings of divine grace with a sinner. Righteousness has its way no
less, and judgment is not set aside, but maintained fully. And herein is shown
out the harmony of the divine attributes, the moral unity of the God whose
attributes they are. There is no conflict in His nature. Justice and mercy,
holiness and love, are not at war in Him. When He acts, all act. fect evidence
and measurement in one, manifests a grace overflowing, abounding over it - even
then can he justify himself rather than God, and refuse the plainest and
simplest testimony to sovereign goodness, which he has lost even the bare
ability to conceive.

In how many ways is God beseeching man to consider
his own condition at least, if nothing else! In how many tongues is this "Adam,
where art thou?" repeated to the present day! Every groan of a creation subject
to vanity, whereof the whole framework is convulsed and out of joint, is such a
tongue. And herein is Wisdom crying in the streets, even where there is no
speech and no word, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our
hearts unto wisdom." This, man never does until divinely taught. "Wisdom is
justified" only "of her children."

And Adam does not yet approve himself
as one of these. His confession of sin is rather an accusation of God -"The
woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
In patient majesty, God turns to the woman. She, more simply, but still
excusing herself, pleads she was deceived -"The serpent beguiled me, and I did
eat." Then, without any further question, He proceeds to judgment - judgment in
which for the tempted mercy lies enfolded, and where, if the old creation find
its end, there appears the beginning of that which alone fully claims the title
of "The Creation of God."

In the judgment of the serpent, we must
remember first of all the essentially typical character of the language used.
We have no reason to believe that Adam knew as yet the mystery of who the
tempter was. "That old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan," was doubtless
for him nothing more than the most subtle of the beasts of the field which the
Lord God had made. And herein, indeed, were divine wisdom and mercy shown, the
tempter being not permitted to approach in an- gelic character, as one above
man, but in bestial, as one below him; one indeed of those to which man as
their lord had given names, and among which he had found no helpmeet. How great
was thus his shame when he listened to the deceiver! he had given up his
divinely appointed supremacy in that moment.

So in the judgment here it
is all outwardly the mere serpent, where spiritually we discern a far deeper
thing. "And the Lord God said unto the serpent, ‘Because thou hast done
this, thou art cursed among all cattle, and among all beasts of the field; upon
thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy
life."’ Thus the victory of evil is in reality the degradation of the
victor: he is degraded necessarily by his own success. How plainly is this an
eternal principle, illustrated in every career of villany under the sun! By
virtue of it, Satan will not be the highest in hell, and prince of it, as men
have feigned, but lowest and most miserable of all the miserable there. "Dust
shall be the serpent’s meat." "He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath
turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a tie
in my right hand?"

But there is still another way in which the
serpent’s victory is his defeat:- "And I will put enmity between thee and
the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and
thou shalt bruise His heel." That this last expression received its plainest
fulfillment on the cross I need not insist upon. There Satan manifested himself
prince of this world, able (so to speak) by his power over men to cast Christ
out of it and put the Prince of life to death. But that victory was his eternal
overthrow-"Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this
world be cast out; and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men
unto Me."

This is deliverance for Satan’s captives. It is not the
restoration, however, of the old creation, nor of the first man. The seed of
the woman is emphatically the "Second Man," another and a "last Adam," new Head
of a new race, who find in Him their title as "Sons of God," as "born, not of
blood (ie., naturally), nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of God." This is not the place indeed for the expansion of this, for here
it is not expanded. We shall find the development of it further on. Only here
it is noted, that not self-recovery, but a deliverer, is the need of man; and
if God take up humanity itself whereby to effect deliverance, it must be the
seed of the woman, the expression of feebleness and dependence, not of natural
headship or of power.

The first direct prophecy links together the first
page of revelation with the last, for only there do we find the full completion
of it - the serpent’s head at last bruised. As a principle, the life of
every saint in a world which "lieth in the wicked one" has illustrated and
enforced it. In the next Section of this book we shall return to look at this.


The judgment of the woman and the man now follow, but they have listened
already to the voice of mercy - a mercy which can turn to blessing the hardship
and sorrow, henceforth the discipline of life, and even the irrevocable doom of
death itself. That Adam has been no inattentive listener, we may gather from
his own next words, which are no very obscure intimation of the faith which has
sprung up in his soul. "And Adam called his wife’s name Eve [life],
because she was the mother of all living." The "woman which Thou gayest to be
with me" is again "his wife," and he names her through whom death had come in,
as the mother, not of the dying, but the living.

Thus does his faith
lay hold on God, - the faith of a poor sinner surely, to whom divine mercy had
come down without a thing in him to draw it out, save only the misery which
spoke to the heart of infinite love. Like Abraham, afterward "he believed God,"
and while to the sentence he bows in submissive silence, the grace inclosed in
the sentence opens his lips again. Beautifully are we permitted to see just
this in Adam, a faith which left him a poor sinner still, to be justified, not
by works, but freely of God’s grace, but still put him thus before God for
justification. And we are ready the more to apprehend and appreciate the
sigrtificant action following: "Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord
God make coats of skin, and clothed them." Thus the shame of their nakedness is
removed, and by God Himself, so that: they are fit for His presence; for the
covering provided of Himself must needs be owned as competent by Himself. And
we have only to consider for a moment to discern how competent it really

Death provided this covering. These coats of skin owned the penalty
as having come in, and those clothed with them found shelter for themselves in
the death of another, and that the one upon whom it had come sinlessly through
their own sin. How pregnant with instruction as to how still man’s
nakedness is covered and he made fit for the presence of a righteous God! These
skins were fitness, the witness of how God had maintained the righteous
sentence of death, while removing that which was now his shame, and meeting the
consequences of his sin. Our covering is far more, but it is such a witness
also. Our righteousness is still the witness of God’s righteousness, - the
once dead, now living One, who of God is made unto us righteousness, and in
whom also we are made the righteousness of God. The antitype in every way
transcends the type surely, yet very sweet and significant nevertheless is the
first testimony of God to the Son; - a double testimony, first to the seed of
the woman, the Saviour; and then, when faith has set its seal to this, a
testimony to that work of atonement, whereby the righteousness of God is
revealed in good news to man, and the believer is made that righteousness in

Not till the hand of God has so interfered for them are Adam and
his wife sent forth out of the garden. If earth’s paradise has closed for
them, heaven has already opened; and the tree of life, denied only as
continuing the old creation, stretches forth for them its branches, loaded with
its various fruit, "in the midst of the paradise," no longer of men, but "of