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THE ALLUREMENTS OF THE TEMPTATION.
THE NATURE OF SIN.
GEN. III. 6.
“ And 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 unto her husband with her, and he did eat."
We entered, in a preceding meditation, into the scene of seduction which took place in Eden. We saw, from numerous testimonies of Scripture, that Satan was the author of the temptation, that he endeavoured to insinuate doubt and error into the innocent mind of Eve, first by a captious question, and then by a rash and blasphemous denial of the truth of God. We thought we could perceive also, in the answers of the woman, that primary disquietude which precedes evil, and the wavering of a soul which treads with an uncertain step on the verge of a precipice, kept back by fear, and pushed on by the force of temptation.
Let us continue. Let us enter again into Eden; our first parents have not yet been banished from it. But, alas! why is it, that in fixing our eyes upon them and upon the last efforts of the temptation, we are called to witness the triumphs of the prince of darkness, and of the cause of the woes and ruin of mankind ! · We have already had occasion to remark, that the kind of temptation presented to Eve, in Eden, was the only one that could have had attractions for beings spiritual and pure. The steps by which the woman descends into the depths of sin, and the force with which she is drawn down into it, are in perfect accordance with our own sad and oft repeated experience. Let us give a serious attention to the recital of the sacred historian; it concerns us all; he seems to describe, by anticipation, a scene which passes too often in our own miserable life. 146 And 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;" or, according to the simple and artless expressions of the original, “ the woman saw that the tree was for food, and a desire to the eyes, and to be wished for to give knowledge," (or rather wisdom, understanding.)*
If we translate these words in a language more metaphysical, we shall find that they include the three elements which are considered to constitute perfection : goodness, beauty, and truth. Goodness in that which pleases the taste, beauty in that which delights the sight, truth in that which gives knowledge or wisdom. And remark, that in seeking this perfection the woman obeyed an impulse which God himself had given to her nature. Yes, it was the eternal destination of man to love, admire, and appropriate to himself all that is good, all that is beautiful, all that is true. It was his destination to grow in that perfection which he already possessed by nature, but which might be developed to infinity by his union with Him who is Goodness, Beauty, Truth, and Sovereign Perfection. It was therefore in Him alone, and in the harmony of their will with His, that our first parents were to seek perfection. The commandment which God had given them, was intended to lead them to this perfection, by placing them in a state of dependence and responsibility. It was designed to unite them to their Creator, and to give them the consciousness of all that is good, beautiful, and true in the moral, as well as in the visible world, which was their habitation.
* See on these words the exegetical notes.
But, alas! a doubt has entered into the mind of Eve, already guilty through the admission of it; the word of her God is no longer her light and the sole object of her confidence; she is going to seek out of God, goodness, beauty, and truth; yea, she expects to find them in the very object whose enjoyment has been forbidden her under pain of death, in disobedience, and in sin! Henceforward all is changed in the objects of her desires, because all is changed in her heart; henceforward we see in her pursuit of a false perfection and of a false happiness, nothing but what St. John calls, “ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.” It is not without design that we make this application of the passage just quoted. The words of St. John seem a literal translation of those of Moses :
the goodness which the woman foolishly thought she saw in an object, the enjoyment of which God had cursed, is no more than “ the lust of the flesh ;" the beauty (or, according to the original, the desire to the eyes) is no more than “ the lust of the eye;" and, finally, the truth (or the wisdom and knowledge, which were to lead to it) is nothing more than “ the pride of life.”
My brethren, take good heed to this! Ye, especially, noble and lofty souls, who, feeling only disgust at the thought of low and degrading pleasures, seek enjoyments worthy of you, in things which appear to you good, beautiful, and true; remember that nothing, nothing is so out of God; remember, on the contrary, that every thing is evil, deformed, and false, in those things which are in opposition to the Sovereign Word of the Almighty, whatever may be their outward appearances. It is one of the most artful devices of Satan, and of our own corrupt hearts, to persuade us, from specious appearances, that certain things are good and calculated to promote our happiness, even though they may be opposed to the will of God, and clearly forbidden in His Word. So many are the illusions and pre