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THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
If Calvin, the most learned and the most lucid commentator of the Reformation, approaches the third chapter of Genesis with a kind of diffidence, acknowledging that “ here à multitude of the most difficult questions present themselves to us,” it may appear presumptuous in me to have chosen it as the subject of these Meditations. But, deeply convinced of the paramount importance of this portion of the sacred volume, it is just because it is difficult that I have attempted to derive from it, for studious Christians, some of the instructions which it was designed to communicate. Struck with the little use that is generally made of a chapter which unfolds, in a few verses, all the mysteries of man's present state, the origin of evil, the basis and the condition of all the successive revelations of God, and the key of redemption, I have been led to conclude, that the cause of the neglect with which it is treated, arose from the difficulties which it presents to those readers who, though anxious to know the whole counsel of God, as revealed in His Word, have neither the time nor the resources necessary for making researches into this ancient document of our human woes.
On this basis, as on many others in the field of biblical study, there remains an entire edifice to be erected. To the construction of this edifice I have wished to bring my stone, however insignificant and obscure may be the place which shall be assigned to it I have wished to point out a rich quarry, and to invite my brethren to draw upon it for materials.
It would have been easy, perhaps, to have selected a more interesting subject, and one which would have afforded a wider scope for
the flight of oratory ; but my object was not to publish occasional discourses. I offer these Meditations to the religious public as I presented them, (with very few corrections) to the congregation among whom I was called to expound the Word of God; for such appears to me to be the great object of preaching. A work of prayer in the preparation, the preaching, and the publication of it, I now leave it in the hands of Him, without whose blessing, all, even religious works, remain barren and dead.
Those who, in reading these pages, shall find themselves unable to agree with me in all the opinions which are expressed in them, are requested to suspend their judgment, until they have read the explanations which I have placed at the end of the volume.These, presenting proofs which could not easily have been introduced into the Meditations themselves, will serve, in more cases than one, to justify my views. To render these exegetical explanations accessible to all kinds of readers, I have placed the philosophical remarks and quotations in foreign