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I. THAT man, in his present state of ignorance, infirmity and wickedness, is not the Adam of God's hand--the similitude of his Creator--the being which he was when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," placed him in Paradise, and pronounced him "good,"--is an observation not resulting from metaphysical research, but obvious to the most simple, unlettered mind. To the truth of it responds every feeling of our nature, and every voice from the Scriptures; and whether we look into ourselves or into them, we read the same writing,
indicted by the same Spirit: "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not 1."
Whence then this corruption, so great, so universal? Whence this unsparing and appalling ruin? "By ONE MAN sin entered into the world, and death by sin 2." "By the offence of ONE, judgment came upon ALL MEN to condemnation 3." "By ONE MAN'S disobedience, MANKIND (οἱ πολλοι) were made sinners 4."
But consequences so ruinous as the corruption of the body and soul of all his posterity,--the dissolution of the one, and the eternal banishment of the other from the presence of GOD,--could not have resulted from the disobedience of ONE MAN, had the sin which he committed fallen short of the most aggravated which he could commit. Scripture and reason declare GOD to be "just:" he would not therefore have "visited the sin of the father upon the children," had not THAT SIN been of a nature THE MOST ODIOUS in his sight. This necessary conclusion from established premises, has induced many a well-meaning but ill-reflecting
[paragraph continues] Christian to represent the history of the fall of man as AN ALLEGORY. But allegorizing Scripture is at all times a hazardous, and sometimes a dangerous, practice. It is so in the case before us: for if the narrative of the Fall be allegorical, the promise of the Redemption must be allegorical likewise, since the serpent enters personally into the one, as well as the other. But the promise of Redemption, though figuratively expressed, assumes the real agency of the Serpent in the Fall: we conclude, therefore, that not only did the serpent bring about this calamity upon man, but that he brought it about in the very manner in which it is described by the woman: "THE SERPENT beguiled me, and I did eat."
Having stated this, the sacred historian says no more; leaving it to the understanding and common sense of the children of Israel to conclude that the serpent's form must have been assumed by a spirit of extraordinary power and malignity, the better to accomplish his object of seduction. That this powerful and malignant spirit was the Devil, we are expressly informed by St. John, who calls the dragon of the Apocalypse "that old serpent called the Devil and
[paragraph continues] Satan, that deceiveth the whole world 1." The author of the Book of Wisdom attributes the fall of man to the agency of the Devil: "God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity; but through envy of the Devil came death into the world 2." St. Paul, alluding to the same event, ascribes it to the serpent:--"But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ 3."
These incidental allusions to the agency of the Devil under the form of a serpent, are perhaps more valuable in corroborating the account of Moses, than if the whole narrative of the Fall were in so many words recapitulated by the other sacred writers: for these writers, being Jews, had no reason for enforcing the assent of their contemporaries to facts which were universally admitted. Hence incidental allusions as to a fact well known, are all that we can expect to find in the sacred writings respecting the agency of Satan and the Serpent, in the ruin of mankind. These are abundant; and from the event which they assume, arose the metaphor
under which the enemies of God and the wicked are described. These are represented under the image of "a serpent 1," "a dragon 2," "a leviathan, a crooked serpent 3," &c.; expressions which are strong presumptive evidences of the intimate connexion between the SERPENT and the EVIL SPIRIT.
Though the circumstances of the seduction and fall of man are objects of no difficulty to the faith of a Christian, yet it must be confessed that an obscurity surrounds them, which is not easily penetrable to the rash or unreflecting. Hence some have argued that the whole is allegorical, and others have pronounced the whole to be an invention: for a sceptical mind solves every difficulty by disbelief. Against either of these opinions I will endeavour to show, that the seduction of man by the agency of the serpent is no allegory; that the fall of man by eating of the forbidden tree is no allegory: that nothing could be more natural than that Adam and Eve should fall by such a simple act: and that no method of seduction could be so effective as the one employed by Satan.
First then, let us consider THE SIN; and secondly, THE TEMPTER.
"The Lord God said unto the woman, what is this that thou hast done 1?"--The offence of which she had been guilty was the eating of a tree, of which GOD had said, "Thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die 2."
Here we perceive, amidst a general indulgence, one particular restriction, and a penalty attached to the violation of it. It is argued against the probability of such a condition,
First, That the restriction is unworthy of God.
Secondly, That the punishment is more than adequate to the offence.
Both of which objections I will endeavour to answer.
1. From the narrative of Moses we learn, that at the time of this sin, Adam and his wife Eve were the only human creatures in existence--that "they twain were one flesh "--and that they were without those natural propensities to wickedness, which now, unhappily, characterize their descendants. A positive command
was given to them, under. a very severe penalty in case of disobedience; and this command was, that they should not eat the fruit of a particular tree.
If, instead of so simple a command as this, they had been enjoined, like the Jews and Christians after them, to observe inviolate the Commandments of the two tables, would that have been a more reasonable injunction--more worthy of God--more suitable to the condition of Adam and Eve? We apprehend not. The injunction would have been so far unreasonable and unworthy of God, as the violation of it was impossible on the part of Adam and Eve. For being themselves the immediate work of the Creator, and maintaining with him a continual and direct communion 1, is it possible that they could have worshipped any strange gods or idols--taken the name of GOD in vain--or by any act of irreverence profaned the Sabbath? Commandments which would restrict them from such sins as these, would have been unreasonable, and unworthy of God; for they could not be broken. The first table of the decalogue would therefore have been unnecessary;
and if unnecessary, "unworthy of GOD" to ordain.
In like manner, Adam and Eve could not have violated any commandment of the second. The second table of the decalogue is for a state of society: Adam and his wife were alone. How could they, therefore, honour their father and mother, who had none? How could they commit adultery or theft against each other? How could they have borne false witness against their neighbour, or coveted his goods? And can we suppose that they would so far forget the sense of their common interest as to kill either the other, since the commission of such a crime would have left the survivor the only creature in the universe without its kind? They would not, therefore, have committed murder, even had they known (which is doubtful) the nature and the means of death. Commandments, therefore, which would restrict them from such sins as these, would have been unreasonable, and unworthy of GOD; for they could not, by any probability, be broken. Besides, the violation of them presupposes that tendency to sin--that corruption of their nature, which did not exist in them until after the Fall.
The offence by which Adam fell must, therefore, have been a simple one: so simple, that it might be committed without inherent depravity; and yet so obnoxious to GOD, as to demand his instant and severest visitation. Now what offence can we imagine more simple, more free from innate depravity, than that of eating the fruit of a forbidden tree? The inducements to eat of it were powerful; and such as, in the absence of a prohibitory command, would have been not only natural, but laudable. It was a desire to become as intelligent as the angels: a desire which, in Adam and Eve, was natural; for by the gratification of it, they would know more of GOD and of themselves: and as "the knowledge of GOD" is perfect happiness, it was natural that they should wish to perfect their enjoyments. Springing from such an origin, the desire was sinless; and only sinful when indulged in opposition to a prohibitory command.
But this command was written by the finger of GOD upon their hearts: "Thou shalt not eat of it." And this command they violated!
Simple, of necessity. was the outward act by which they incurred the displeasure of their Maker: but the moral offence involved all the
guilt which attaches to unnecessary disobedience, incredulity of GOD'S word, and defiance of his power; and under this view we may regard the sin of Adam to have been as great as if we were to violate the whole of the decalogue: for the whole commandment which was given to them, they broke.
2. But, if the prohibition was not unworthy of the dignity of GOD, was not the punishment which followed disobedience more than adequate to the offence? Certainly not. Entire disobedience, being entire unrighteousness, is manifestly obnoxious to the severest penalty. The greatness of the punishment can prove nothing but the greatness of the sin which preceded it, when the parties concerned are man and GOD. But even had the punishment been "more than adequate to the offence," it would not have been an act of injustice to inflict it. For Adam and Eve, as they knew the means of obedience, knew the penalty which would follow disobedience; they sinned, therefore, with all the consequences of sin before them. Their eyes were sufficiently "open" to know the truth which was afterwards revealed to the children
of disobedience, that "GOD is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good 1?"
We see, then, that neither was the prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil an unworthy condition on the part of Gm) to make with Adam, nor the punishment which overtook the disobedient man too great for the offence.
But here it may be objected, upon the very principle of our argument,--if Adam committed sin in consequence of a natural instinct--a desire of enlarging his understanding--with this desire about him, prompting him to sin,--can he be said to have been created pure? And if he had not been created pure, there is no necessity for believing that he ever fell, in the peculiar manner related by Moses; for the sinfulness of man would be sufficiently accounted for by the imperfection of his origin. To this we may reply, that the desire of enlarging his understanding did not necessarily induce Adam to sin: sin was, indeed, the consequence of his indulging
this desire, but not the necessary consequence. He might have indulged it by communion with GOD, instead of finding its gratification by communion with Satan. That Adam, by too great a thirst after knowledge, fell, does not prove that he was prone to sin; but it certainly does prove that he was liable to it: and while we deny the proneness, we not only admit, but maintain his liability to fall. Being created, expressly, for the greatest glory of Gov, it follows that Adam was created with that nature which was best adapted to this purpose. He was, therefore, created pure, perfect, and free. For Omnipotence itself cannot produce a nobler being than one in Gods own spiritual likeness; perfectly sinless, and perfectly a free agent. But, however free and pure, such a person cannot be without a liability to sin: for if he be without a liability, he is without responsibility, which is an attribute suited to the Creator alone, and incommunicable to a creature. It could not, therefore, be otherwise, than that Adam should have been liable, though not prone, to sin: for that would have made his nature imperfect, and anticipated the corruption which did not exist in him until after his fall. What, before the fall,
was only a liability, became afterwards a proneness to sin. Had Adam been placed in Paradise in any other state, he would either not have been a free agent, or too free to be responsible. If not a free agent, the gift of reason was superfluous, and every superfluity detracts from perfection. If too free to be responsible, he would not have been a creature; for to be a creature implies subordination, and subordination implies responsibility. The only condition, therefore, in which Adam could have been placed, was that of a free agent, responsible for his actions; with obedience or disobedience, and their respective consequences, before his eyes, and with the power to choose either. Being a free agent, it was necessary that he should be placed in a state of trial. For his free agency consisting in a capability of choice between obedience and disobedience, his happiness would consist in a wise employment of this power 1. And since real happiness is inseparable from holiness, Adam, to be happy, must have been holy. But holy or obedient (for it is the same thing,) he could not be, unless something were enjoined to which he might be disobedient. Adam, therefore,
being a free agent, was necessarily placed in a state of trial.
It appears, then, that the fall of man may be rationally explained, without having recourse to any allegorical interpretation; indeed, what allegory can render the circumstances more intelligible? or of what can the eating of a forbidden tree be allegorical? The only mysterious part of the transaction, after the assumption of the serpent's form by Satan, was the communication of intellectual knowledge by the taste of a tree. That the fruit of the forbidden tree did not affect the body, seems evident from the circumstance of God's dooming the body to corruption, after the fruit had been tasted, and "the eyes were opened." "The return to dust" was an effect of the curse of God, and not of any poisonous quality in the tree. The poison of the tree infected the mind alone: but the manner is a mystery.
There is, however, a method of explaining away the difficulty of the communication of knowledge by means of a tree, of which the advocate of literal interpretation may avail himself. With the learned and acute KENNICOT, he may consider that the tree in question was not to make
any change in the intellectual faculties of the recipient. By substituting the word "test" for "knowledge"--a substitution which, he contends, the original will allow--the text will become, "and the tree which is the test of good and evil:" that is, "the tree by which God would try them, and by which it should appear whether or no they would own the sovereignty of their Maker, and obey or disobey his commands 1." Notwithstanding this ingenious, and not unsatisfactory, explanation, I prefer the received version, because it is more in accordance with the context. The effect produced upon the guilty pair is described under the metaphor, "their eyes were opened." This certainly implies that their minds had undergone a change; for their corporeal eyes could have seen "their nakedness" as easily before the Fall, as after; but the mind conceived no shame from the circumstance. This effect was produced by the fruit of the tree; for "when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did
eat: And their eyes were opened 1." Between the action, "they did eat," and the effect, "their eyes were opened," there is no room for interpolating any other cause for the illumination, than the eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The copulative conjunction and points out the cause--namely, the fruit of the tree.
The seduction of Eve by the SERPENT is as far from being allegorical as the other circumstances of the Fall. Satan had determined to bring about the destruction of man, and, therefore, would approach to the accomplishment of it in the most subtil manner. For this purpose, we are taught to believe that he assumed the form of the serpent, probably because the nature of that animal most nearly resembled his own: for "the serpent was more subtil than all the beasts of the field." His own form was spiritual; he could not, therefore, have shown himself to Eve as he really was. He appeared, consequently, under a disguise to which she had been accustomed, and at which she would not be startled.
A beautiful but mute animal crossed her path, ascended the tree of knowledge, and plucked
its fruit; and in an instant appeared gifted with the powers of reason and of speech 1. He spoke to her; desired her to taste the same fruit which had opened his mind; and when, at length, having overcome her first astonishment, she refused, on the plea that God had forbidden her to touch it, he said unto her, "Yea! hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
If such should appear to have been the nature of the temptation which assailed Eve, who shall deny, that it was the most powerful which could be presented to the human mind? A mute and irrational creature, having tasted the fruit of this forbidden tree, became gifted with speech and reason; and how surpassing must be the knowledge which they would acquire by following the same course! Well, then, might she believe "that they would be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Such an interpretation of the temptation of Eve appears not only the most reasonable which can be offered to our belief, but it is, probably, the most correct, from the very language of the Scripture which describes the Fall. The third
chapter of Genesis opens in an abrupt manner; and the first words of the serpent induce the inference, that something had previously passed between him and Eve, which is not mentioned in the narrative. The words, "Yea! hath God said?" appear to be the continuation of a conversation already begun. This will explain the reason why the woman expresses no surprise in hearing, for the first time, a brute animal speak with the voice of a man--an explanation more natural than that adopted by Bishop Patrick. He was of opinion that the tempter assumed the form of a beautiful winged serpent, whose bright golden colour made him, when flying, to be resplendent like fire. Of this kind, he informs us, were the serpents in the wilderness which destroyed the rebellious Israelites 1. They are called seraphim, from a root which signifies "to burn." "The angels of the presence" were also called seraphim, from a similar glorious appearance 2. The advocates of this opinion suppose that Eve took the serpent-tempter for one of these heavenly messengers, come down to enlighten her; "for she was not so simple as to think that beasts could speak 3." This opinion is
defended by the expression of St. Paul (2 Cor. xi. 14),--"Satan is transformed into an angel of light." In the same chapter, he previously expresses his fears lest, "as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty," so the Corinthians "should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ." It is contended that St. Paul, in noticing the transformation of Satan into an "angel of light," alludes to the deception of Eve by the serpent. But this does not necessarily appear from the argument of the apostle: it is quite as likely that he refers to the temptation of our Lord, when Satan did probably appear "as an angel of light."
But if Eve took the serpent for a seraph--a divine messenger sent to remove the prohibition from the tree of knowledge--how happened it that, when questioned by her Creator, "What is this that thou hast done?" she answered, unhesitatingly, "the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." A reply which amounts to conclusive evidence that she believed the tempter to be a real serpent. As a terrestrial animal, the deceiver is cursed--"Upon thy belly thou shalt go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." This curse applies not to a spiritual being.
[paragraph continues] Moreover the word, which we translate "serpent," is, in the original, not "seraph," but "nachash" throughout. Conformably to which, the Septuagint employ the word ὄφις.
There is every ground, therefore, for accepting the temptation and fall of man in the literal sense of the Scripture, which reveals them to our faith.
That the devil, on this occasion, assumed the form of one of tile angelic seraphim, was a tradition of the East, adopted or invented by the Doctors of the Jewish Church. Rabbi Bechai, on Gen. iii. 14, observes: "This is the secret (or mystery) of the holy language, that a serpent is called saraph, as an angel is called saraph;" and "hence the Scriptures called serpents seraphim (Numb. xxi. 6-8), because they were the offspring of this old saraph 1." The seraphim of the wilderness are proved by Bochart to have been the same as those called in Isaiah (xix. 29. and xxx. 6), "fiery flying serpents." Whether the epithet "flying" was a metaphor for velocity, or whether it meant that these creatures had actually wings, is uncertain; it is certain, however, that tradition had invested both the celestial
and terrestrial seraphim with wings: and hence the notion that the Paradisiacal serpent was a "winged" creature. Hence, also, the poetical fiction of winged dragons, as guardians of treasure and protectors of female innocence. For, singularly enough, the malevolent actions of the Paradisiacal serpent had a colouring given by heathen mythologists diametrically opposite to the reality. The seducer of Eve is thus perversely termed the protector of maiden virtue; and the tempter, who induced her to pluck the forbidden fruit, is the guardian of the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides. So powerful is "the Prince of this World" to delude his victims!
Adam, then, was free, as created for God's glory; pure, as the similitude of his spotless nature; perfect, as the temple of his Holy Spirit. Of created things, the last and best on earth, he came into existence on the eve of God's holy rest; and the first duty to which he was called, was the celebration of the Sabbath. Constituted, as he was, with the capacity to comprehend, and the inclination to adore his Maker, he was created to be happy. The most perfect soul in the most perfect body, and each endued
with ability to enjoy the most perfect happiness of its nature, characterized the noblest of terrestrial beings. Had he continued in obedience, he would have continued in happiness; but, alas! the union of excellence, which conciliated the goodwill of the good angels, excited and exasperated the envy of the bad. In an hour of weakness, the tempter came: with the voice of kindness, he insinuated distrust in God; the insidious appeal was heard; the forbidden tree was tasted:--"the eyes" of man "were opened"--but his soul was lost! And in this state it continued, until, by the sacrifice of THE REDEEMER--by the bruising of HIS heel, who should bruise the serpent's head--that which had been "dead" was alive again;" that which had been "lost" was "found."
We have regarded the Fall of Man as an historical fact, dæmonstrable by reason. We may, therefore, very properly require traces of this
event in the opinions and traditions of people upon whom the light of revelation never shone. All are descended from the same family in the ark, and it is more than probable that some vestiges of the original history of man were preserved in the traditions of the more enlightened Gentiles. Such is the conclusion of unprejudiced reason; and, in full accordance, it has been ascertained, that the philosopher, the mythologist, and the uneducated idolater of every nation, bears witness in his writings, in his fables, or in his religion, to the truth of the Mosaic history.
It is unnecessary to remind the classical reader, that the degeneracy of mankind is a common topic of complaint with the philosophers of Greece and Rome. But a few brief references to establish this position may not be deemed superfluous, as they will greatly illustrate the arguments of the subsequent pages.
1. The writings of Plato abound with allusions to the degeneracy of mankind. So closely do his ideas on this subject approach the truth, that Bishop Stillingfleet has not scrupled to affirm, "he must have known more of the lapse of mankind than he would openly discover 1:" and
[paragraph continues] Gale was so persuaded of the same thing, that he made it the chief object of his elaborate work to show that the Gentile philosopher had drank deeply of the fountain of sacred truth. He cites with approbation a saying of Numenius, the Pythagorean, Τί γάρ ἐστι Πλάτων ἢ Μωυσῆς ἀττικίζων; "What is Plato, but Moses speaking the language of Athens?" Led away by the glare of this strong resemblance, the learned Gale ascribed the agreement to plagiarism: but it is more than probable that the fountain at which Plato drank the truth, was the broad but troubled stream of patriarchal tradition, which irrigated alike the fertile and the barren mind, in every region of the globe.
Among other striking passages in the writings of that philosopher, is the following:--"These causes of our wickedness are derived from our parents, and from our constitutions, rather than from ourselves; for while we recoil from the works of our ancestors they are not idle 1:" as much as to say, that there is within us, by inheritance, a principle of sin, continually at war with the principle of righteousness; "a law in our members warring against the law of our minds, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin,
which is in our members 1." This notion is very nearly allied to the dogma of the Persians concerning the two innate principles, the good and the evil, of which we read in the very interesting story of Araspes and Panthea, related by Xenophon 2.
This state of the soul the philosopher terms "a moral or spiritual death;" and upon the authority of "wise men," by whom Gale conjectures that he must have meant "Jewish priests:" more probably, perhaps, Egyptian, with whom he is known to have conversed familiarly.--"I have heard from wise men, that we are now dead, and that the body is our sepulchre 3."
The change of nature which ensued immediately after the fall of man, may be alluded to by the same philosopher in his discourse of the imaginary island of Atlantis, which, upon the division of the earth between the gods, fell to the lot of Vulcan and Minerva 4. There they created mortals of a superior mould, who lived in the unbounded enjoyment of happiness and peace.--"For many ages, as long as they were under the influence of this divine nature, they were
obedient to the laws, and well-affected to the gods, to whom they were kindred . . . . . . . . . . but when the divine nature, which was in them, became frequently mingled with the mortal, and the human. inclination prevailed, being unable to bear present calamities, they disgraced themselves: and, to those who could see them, appeared base, having lost the most beautiful of their precious possessions . . . . . . . . . . The Jupiter, the god of gods, . . . . . . . . . . perceiving this honourable race lying in a state of depravity, and being desirous of punishing them . . . . . . . . . . called together all the gods," &c.
In the Atlantis of Plato, we may, I think, discover the EDEN of Scripture; and in the lapse of the Atlantians from virtue and THE DIVINE NATURE, the fall of Adam from purity and THE IMAGE OF GOD. The state of mankind, at the time of the deluge, is, doubtless, blended with the tradition; for we find that the island Atlantis was submerged in the ocean. But the want of authentic records of the period intermediate between the fall and the deluge, left the heathen, in a great measure, ignorant of antediluvian history. Hence their frequent confusion of the characters of Adam and Noah, and
the identification of their histories in mythology. Of these we have constant proofs in the fables which have been transmitted to us, as we shall observe in the progress of this volume. In the council of Jupiter, to consider the depravity of the Atlantians, we may recognize a similarity to the council of the Holy Trinity: "Behold the man is become as ONE OF US, to know good and evil."
The corruption thus acknowledged by Plato to exist in mankind, is elsewhere represented by him as "a general depravation of the understanding, the will, and the affections." The corruption of the understanding he describes under the allegory of a person who, from his infancy, lay, neck and heels together, in a dark dungeon, where he could only see some imperfect shadows, by means of a fire kindled at the top." Whence he concludes that "the eye of the soul is immersed in the barbaric gulf of ignorance 1."
2. To the testimony of Plato may be added that of Hierocles, a disciple of the Platonic school, whose Commentary on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras very closely approaches Scripture truth.--"Most men are bad, and under
the influence of their passions; and, from their propensity to earth, are grown impotent of mind. But this evil they have brought upon themselves by their wilful apostasy from God, and by withdrawing themselves from that communion with him, which they once enjoyed in pure light 1."
3. If we ascend to authority of more remote date, we shall find in "the Golden Verses" themselves this remarkable sentiment: "Men are grown miserable through their own fault." An expression which argues in Pythagoras, as well as Plato, "more acquaintance with the truth than he is inclined to discover."
4. If, from the meditations of philosophers, we pass to the imaginations of poets, we shall find that neither Homer nor Hesiod were ignorant of the degeneracy of mankind. In the poetic fiction of "the Golden Age" we shall recognize a clear trace of the original purity of man, whose fall and corruption may be as clearly traced in the subsequent ages of deterioration. The opinion of Homer, that "few children are like their fathers, the majority worse 2," illustrates the poetical conceit so beautifully imagined by
[paragraph continues] Hesiod:--"Dreadfully did the second race degenerate from the virtues of the first. They were men of violence; they had no pleasure in worshipping the immortal gods; they experienced no delight in offering up to them those sacrifices which duty required 1."
So clearly did the mind of Hesiod apprehend the real state of mankind, that, in his fable of Pandora, he seems but to paraphrase the story of Adam and Eve. Pandora was a female to whom every god and goddess imparted a virtue or an accomplishment: she was made from clay, to be the wife of the man Prometheus, whose nature and origin were of a more elevated caste. He was the son of Japetus, a demigod, who was the son of Cœlus--i.e. heaven defied. Prometheus is represented as irreverent towards the gods. Among other things, Pandora was presented with a beautiful casket by Jupiter, which she was to offer as a nuptial dowry to her husband; but ordered, at the same time, on no account to open it. Prometheus did not marry her, being suspicious of the design of Jupiter; but sent her to his brother, whose wife she became. Through inordinate curiosity, he opened the casket, and
from it issued all the evils which have ever since afflicted mankind. HOPE alone remained at the bottom, to assuage the sorrows which EVIL had introduced.
In this fable we perceive, with a little variation, a beautifully wrought description of the fall of Adam, with a delicately poetical allusion to the REDEMPTION.
5. The Latin writers are as explicit in their opinion of the corruption of man as the Greek. Among the philosophers, Cicero and Seneca; among the poets, Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Juvenal, Lucretius, Catullus,--agree in representing the present state of man as degenerate. It would be tedious to transcribe, or even enumerate, their testimonies, since many of the passages are familiar to the classical reader. We may, however, remark, that no Christian scholar should fail to impress upon his memory the splendid description of "The Four Ages," which is presented in the first book of "THE METAMORPHOSES," by OVID. If anything can add to its beauty and elegance, it is the close relation which it bears to Scriptural truth.
That man had fallen from a condition of greater purity, was, therefore, the belief of the mythologist,
poet, and philosopher, of Greece and Rome. It was, moreover, the belief of every nation whose religion was moulded into system, or the system of whose religion is not altogether unintelligible. It was the belief of the Celts and Druids; and "the Brahmins of Hindostan have an entire Purana on the subject: the story is there told as related by Moses; the facts uniformly correspond, and the consequences are equally tremendous 1." It was the belief of all the nations surrounding Syria; it penetrated into the remote regions of the Persian monarchy; and it may be recognized in the mythology of Egypt. Of these I shall adduce proofs in the sequel. But if there were no other indication of this Scriptural doctrine, the universal prevalence of EXPIATORY SACRIFICES would declare it. "For unless an idea of lost integrity had pervaded the whole world, and unless the doctrine of such an aberration had been handed down from the most remote antiquity, it is impossible to account for the universal establishment of so very peculiar an ordinance 2."
It is not only to the existence of a natural
corruption in man, that the philosophy of heathenism so strongly alludes; but minuter traces of THE FALL are to be recognized in the traditionary legends of heathen mythology. The most remarkable corroboration, however, of the Mosaic history, is to be found in those fables which involve THE MYTHOLOGICAL SERPENT, and in THE WORSHIP which was so generally offered to him throughout the world.
THE WORSHIP OF THE SERPENT may be traced in almost every religion through ancient Asia, Europe, Africa, and America. The progress of the sacred serpent from Paradise to Peru is one of the most remarkable phenomena in mythological history; and to be accounted for only upon the supposition that a corrupted tradition of the serpent in Paradise had been handed down from generation to generation. But how an object of abhorrence could have been exalted into an object of veneration, must be referred to the subtilty of the arch enemy himself, whose constant endeavour has been rather to corrupt than obliterate the true faith, that, in the perpetual conflict between truth and error, the mind of man might be more surely confounded and debased. Among other
devices, that of elevating himself into an object of adoration, has ever been the most cherished. It was this which he proposed to OUR LORD: "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me 1." We cannot therefore wonder that the same being who had the presumption to make such a proposal to the Son of Gov, should have had the address to insinuate himself into the worship of the children of men. In this he was, unhappily, but too well seconded by the natural tendency of human corruption. The unenlightened heathen, in obedience to the voice of nature, acknowledged his dependence upon a superior being. His reason assured him that there must be a God; his conscience assured him that God was good; but he felt and acknowledged the prevalence of evil, and attributed it, naturally, to. an evil agent. But as the evil agent to his unillumined mind seemed as omnipotent as the good agent, he worshipped both; the one, that he might propitiate his kindness; the other, that he might avert his displeasure. The great point of devil-worship being gained--naively, the acknowledgment of the evil spirit as GOD--the transition to
idolatry became easy. The mind once darkened by the admission of an allegiance divided between GOD and Satan, became gradually more feeble and superstitious, until at length sensible objects were called in to aid the weakness of degraded intellect; and from their first form as symbols, passed rapidly through the successive stages of apotheosis, until they were elevated into GODS. Of these the most remarkable was THE SERPENT; upon the basis of tradition, regarded, first, as the symbol of the malignant being; subsequently, considered talismanic and oracular; and, lastly, venerated and worshipped as DIVINE,
As a symbol, the serpent was by some nations attributed to the GOOD, and by others to the EVIL DEITY. Among the Egyptians it was an emblem of the good dæmon; while the mythology of Hindûstan, Scandinavia, and Mexico, considered it as characteristic of the evil spirit.
That in the warmer regions of the globe, where this creature is the most formidable enemy which man can encounter, the serpent should be considered the mythological attendant of the evil being, is not surprising: but that in the frozen or temperate regions of the earth,
where he dwindles into the insignificance of a reptile without power to create alarm, he should be regarded in the same appalling character, is a fact which cannot be accounted for by natural causes. Uniformity of tradition can alone satisfactorily explain uniformity of superstition, where local circumstances are so discordant.
The serpent is the symbol which most generally enters into the mythology of the world. It may in different countries admit among its fellow-satellites of Satan, the most venomous or the most terrible of the animals in each country; but it preserves its own constancy, as the only invariable object of superstitious terror throughout the habitable world. "Wherever the Devil reigned," remarks Stillingfleet, "the serpent was held in some peculiar veneration." THE UNIVERSALITY of this worship, I propose to show in the subsequent pages: and having shown it, shall feel justified in drawing the conclusion, that the narrative of Moses is most powerfully corroborated by the prevalence of this singular and irrational, yet natural superstition. Irrational--for there is nothing in common between deity and a reptile, to suggest the notion of SERPENT-WORSHIP; and natural, because allowing the
truth of the events in Paradise, every probability is in favour of such a superstition springing up. For it is more than probable that Satan should erect as the standard of idolatry the stumbling-block ascertained to be fatal to man. By so doing, he would not only receive the homage which he so ardently desired from the beginning, but also be perpetually reminded of his victory over Adam, than which no gratification can be imagined more fascinating to his malignant mind. It was his device, therefore, that since by the temptation of the serpent man fell, by the adoration of the serpent he should continue to fall.
2:1 Eccl. vii. 20.
2:2 Rom. v. 12.
2:3 Rom. v. 18.
2:4 Rom. v. 19.
4:1 Rev. xii. 9.
4:2 Wisd. ii. 23-24.
4:3 2 Cor. xi. 3.
5:1 Isaiah xiv. 29.
5:2 Isaiah xxvii. 1.
5:3 Isaiah xxvii. 1.
6:1 Gen. 13.
6:2 Gen. ii. 17.
7:1 Gen. iii. 8.
11:1 Num. xxiii. 19.
13:1 Kennicot., Dissert. on the Tree of Life, 33.
15:1 Dissert. on the Tree of Life, p. 36.
16:1 Gen. iii. 6, 7.
17:1 Delany, "Revel. Examined."
18:1 Numb. xxi. 6-8.
18:2 Isaiah vi. 2-6.
18:3 Bishop Patrick.
20:1 Bishop Patrick in loc.
23:1 Orig. Sacr. l. 3. c. 3.
24:1 Timæus, 103.
25:1 Rom. vii. 23.
25:2 Cyrop. lib. 8.
25:3 Georgias, 493.
27:1 Gale. Court of the Gentiles, l. 3. 63.
28:1 Cited by Stillingfleet. Orig. Sac. book iii. c. 3. s. 15.
28:2 Odyss. ii. 276.
29:1 Oper. et Dier. i. 126.
31:1 Faber. Hor. Mos. i. 66, citing Maurice Ind. Antiq.
31:2 Faber. Hor. Mos. i. 59.
33:1 Matt. iv. 9.
Next: Chapter I. Serpent-Worship in Asia