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other transgression than eating of this tree. And the devil that finished master of craft and subtility, attacked them in this quarter, as the only side on which he could promise himself success. And alas for poor man! Satan's stratagem succeeded, to the ruin of the whole human race.
2. The tree of life, Gen. ii. 9. Though we have ground to think that this tree might be an excellent means of preserving the vigour of bodily life, as other trees in the garden also were, yet it could have no virtue in itself of making man every way immortal. But it seems to have been called the tree of life by reason of its signification being appointed of God as a sacrament, by eating whereof he should have been confirmed in the belief of the promise of life natural being continued, of spiritual life perpetuated, and eternal life to be enjoyed in heaven ; which was the main thing, and included the other two, Gen. iii. 22. And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever,' he must be driven out; denoting, that man, by sin, having lost his right to eternal life signified by this tree, was driven out, Rev. ii. 7. that he might not profane the sacrament of it, to which he had now no more right. The words do not mean, that if Adam had eat of the tree of life after his fall, he should retrieve his forfeited life ; this being impossible, in regard the threatening was express, In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shall surely die ; and that the tree of life had no such virtue and efficacy in itself, and ceased to be a sacrament of the covenant of works the moment man sinned. It was intended to assure and persuade him of life upon performing the condition ; but the covenant being broken that assurance and persuasion actually fell of course. The whole verse may be read thus, Behold the man who was one of us, to know good and evil : and now lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, that he may live for ever. Where three things are very plain (1.) There is no irony or scoff here, as if God should say, Behold the man has attempted to become like one of us, to know good and evil; but how shamefully has he failed of his design! but, on the
contra. ry, a most pathetic lamentation over fallen man. This sen. tence is evidently broken off abruptly, the words, I will drive him out, being suppressed ; even as in the case of a father, who, with sighs and sobs, puts his offending child out of doors. (2.) It was God's design to prevent Adam's eating of the tree of life, as he had eaten of the forbidden tree; thereby, mercifully taking care, that our fallen father, who had now got a revelation of the covenant of grace, might not, according to the corrupt natural inclination of men since the fall, run back to the covenant of works for life and salvation, by partaking of the tree of life, a sacra ment of that covenant, and so reject the covenant of grace, by eating of that tree now, as he had before broken the covenant of works, by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (3.) At this time Adam imagined, that by eating of the tree of life he might recover his forfeited life
, and so live for ever.
III. I come now to shew why God entered into this cove nant with man. I know no reason can be given for this, but what must be resolved into the glory of the grace and good. ness of God. It was certainly an act of grace and admirable condescension in God, to enter into a covenant with his own creature. Man was not at his own but God's disposal; not had he any thing to work with but what he had from God; so that there was no proportion betwixt the work enjoined and the reward promised. Man before that covenant was bound, but God was free: for man was under the law of nature before he was under the covenant; for the law was created with him, that is, he was no sooner a rational creature than he was under the law ; but this covenant was not made with him till after he was brought into the garden to dress it. Before that covenant God was free to dispose of man as he saw fit, however perfectly he kept the law ; but when in the covenant he made the promise of conterring life upon Adam in case of continued obedience, during the time set for his trial, then he was debtor to his own faithfulness, which is necessarily engaged to perform whatever it hath promised. Again, death was the natural wages of sin, though there had been no covenant, and that by the rule of justice, which plainly requires that man should be dealt with as he has done. But man having given consent, however tacit, and not expressed in so many words, which yet is equivalent to a formal consent to the covenant, implying the threatening, the Lord proceeds not by simple justice, but by express for. mal covenant, in punishing for the breach of it. But we may consider the reason of God the Almighty Creator and · Lawgiver's entering into a covenant with man a little more - particularly, and that to the end our hearts may be impressed
with a just sense of the glorious perfections of the great God, + and the great goodness shewn to man in that whole transac
tion. I say, then, that God was pleased to deal with man by way
of covenant, for two very important ends, the manifesi tation of his own glory, and man's greater good.
1. For his own glory, which is the supreme end of all his actions. More particularly,
(1.) To display the lustre of his manifold or variegated wisdom, Eph. ii. 10. This way of dealing was the most effectual method for securing man's obedience: for the covenant being a mutuat engagement between God and his creature, as it gave him infallible assurance to strengthen his faith, so it was the sweetest bond to preserve his felicity. Di. vine wisdom shines clearly, in suiting the method of dealing to the nature of the reasonable creature, which was to be led
with its own consent. It is true, the precept alone is bindsing upon man by virtue of the authority of the imposer ; but
man's own consent increases the obligation, twisting the cords of the law, and binding them more strongly to obedience. Thus Adam was God's servant by the condition of his nature, and also by his own choice, accepting the covenant, from
which he could not recede, without the guilt and infamy of - the worst perfidy. The terms of the covenant were such as
became the parties concerned, God and man: it established an inseparable connection between duty and happiness; as is plain from the sanction, In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
(2.) To shew his wonderful moderation. For though he be. Sovereign Monarch of the world, and has absolute power over all creatures to dispose of them as he pleases ; yet, in covenanting with man, he sweetly tempered his supremacy and sovereign power, seeking as it were to reign with man's consent. And when, by virtue of his sovereign authority and absolute right, he might have enjoined harder terms to man, and those too altogether just and righteous, he chose to use so much moderation, that he would require nothing of man, but that which man himself should judge, and behoved in reason to be a just and easy yoke; and which, in accepting the terms, he acknowledged to be such.
(3.) For the praise of the glory of his grace. It was free.
condescension on God's part to make such a promise to man's obedience. He might have required obedience from him by virtue of his sovereignty,as his Lord and Maker, without bind ing himself by any promise to reward his service. An that he was capable to do was but mere duty to his Creator; and when he had done all that was commanded him, it was no more than what he was bound to do as God's creature. It was simply impossible for man to merit any thing at God's hand. It must be owned, there was much grace in this transaction, in that God entered into terms of agreement with man, not his equal, but his own creature, and the work of his hands; and in promising him a reward for his service, which was due to God by the law of creation previous to that federal deed, and so great a reward, even eternal life, between which and the work there was no proportion.
(4.) For venting his boundless love, in the communications of his goodness to man.
For God did not create man or angels because he needed them, but that there might be proper objects for receiving the displays of his goodness. Nor did he enter into a covenant with man from any natural necessity, but on design of communicating his bounty to him, Deut. vii. 7, 8. Ezek. xvi. 8. Though the Lord might have exacted all that obedience and service from man, which possibly he could yield, and reduced him into his first nothing by annihilation at last, or at least not have bestowed everlasting happiness upon him, not bound himself by covenant whereby he might expect it; yet, to shew the greatness of his goodness and love, he chose a way to reward that service in a most bountiful manner, which otherwise was due to him.
(5.) For the manifestation of his truth and faithfulness in keeping covenant with his creature, which could not otherwise have been so gloriously discovered. God had made illustrious displays of his wisdom, power, and goodness, in the creation of all things, and in that excellent piece of workmanship, man, the chief of his works in this world; but his faithfulness and veracity could not have been known, at least in its effects, without some such transaction.
(6.) That he might be the more cleared and justified in resenting the injuries done him by the disobedience of his creature, with whom he had condescended to deal so graciously. For the more condescension and goodness there is
on God's part, the greater ingratitude appears on man's part in trampling on the divine goodness. But,
2. God condescended to enter into covenant with man for man's greater good.
(1.) That thereby he might put the higher honour upon him. It was indeed a very distinguishing respect put upon man to be an ally of heaven, and the confederate friend of God. If it be an honour for a mean country peasant to be joined in a formal bond of friendship with a prince or potentate on earth, how much greater honour and dignity was it unto man to be joined in a bond of love and friendship with God, the Supreme Monarch of the whole world?
(2.) To bind him the faster to his duty. The Lord knew man's mutable state, and how slippery and inconstant the heart of man is, where confirming grace is not vouchsafed ; therefore, to prevent this inconstancy incident to man, a finite creature, and to establish him in his obedience, he laid him under a covenant obligation to his service. Man was bound to obey God by virtue of his creation; but his making a covenant with man, which he willingly consented to, was a superadded tie to bind him the faster to his duty. By the covenant that was made with Adam, he had a kind help to make him the more careful to observe the law which was written on his heart, and a prop to make him stand the more fixed and steady. For, on the one hand, he was warned of his danger in case of disobedience, that so he might beware of offending God; and, on the other he was encouraged to serve his Maker with the greater alacrity, from the greatness of the reward set before him, and the greatness of the punishment threatened in case he should disobey: both which tended notably to incline him to constancy in his duty.
(3.) That his obedience might be more cheerful, being that unto which he had willingly tied himself. God chose to rule man by his own consent, rather than by force. An absolute law might have extorted obedience from man, but a covenant made it appear more free and willing. It made man's obedience look as if it were the result of his own choice, rather than of any obligation lying upon him. This tended much to the honour of God; for one volunteer that goeth to the war, doth honour the service more than ten soldiers pressed by force. VOL. I.