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wrong. In the one case there is no violence done to conscience itself, and the person may still be worthy of confidence and affection; but in the other case conscience has already been killed, or silenced, and the person is capable of any evil. In short, hypocrisy, or that selfdeception which enables a man to sin without misgiving, is a sign of the deepest moral degradation; for it is the evidence that the power of evil in him is such that it is able to crush conscience, which is the image of God in him, and wanting which man is merely an intellectual animal, and is no longer capable of redemption.
Now, the distinction between sin yielded to from the strength of temptation, but without any attempt to blind the conscience, and sin yielded to without compunction, because the person is willingly self-deceived, is the distinction between the sin of Adam and the sin of Eve; for although the latter had the excuse that she was deceived by Satan's sophistries, yet she was also selfdeceived by the influence of the evil desire awakened by the tempter, which made her ready to accept those sophistries.
The particulars of Satan's deception of our first parents have been recorded, doubtless, with a view of revealing the mind and artifices of Satan, and thus putting man on his guard by a characteristic illustration of the way in which Satan deceives the minds of men to their destruction. It may be useful, then, to briefly consider the character of that first deception.
The point which must naturally be the first to arrest the attention is the devil's exaggeration of the Word of God.
Satan introduces the conversation with the woman by & question in which, on the one hand, he makes himself appear as the sympathetic friend of the woman, and on the other hand makes the command of God appear harsh and unreasonable. 'Has God said that ye may not eat of every tree ? Or, in other words, 'Is it really true that the fruit of all the trees is forbidden you ? In this he was merely endeavouring to act on the natural tendency of the human mind to recoil from an evident overstatement of the truth, and to meet it by an understatement. This is one of the commonest artifices of sophistry, by which the partisans of a false cause or a false religion endeavour to support them. It rouses the indignation of their hearers, and prepares their minds to receive with favour, or without question, the complete denial of the truth thus exaggerated, by which the partisan either follows up that exaggeration, or leaves it to suggest itself to the minds of his hearers. The artifice seldom fails to effect the desired end, nor did it fail in the case of Eve.
God had warned her that in the day she ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree she should surely die '; but, recoiling from the insinuation of the serpent that the prohibition included all the fruit of the garden, she modified its strictness by the substitution of the words ·lest ye die,' and thus, in her anxiety to repel the idea of her state being one of burdensome restriction, and the command arbitrary and harsh on the part of God, she made it appear (not to the devil, who knew the truth, but to her own mind) that the prohibition was only made to protect her and Adam from a possible danger arising from the character of the tree itself, instead of being a simple command of God, a trial of man's obedience, the failure of which obedience God had warned them would be followed by death.
Here Eve had already forgotten God and begun to fix her attention on second causes, and what was certain when regarded as a statement of God, became uncertain regarded as a consequence arising from the effects of the fruit itself.
So it must ever be with all who forget God while reading the Word of God. That Word has power and influence on the mind of man not only because it is recognised as true, but also because it has authority as being the Word of God; and where men will not hesitate to wrest that Word to fall in with their own preconceived ideas and prejudices, while they regard it as only probable or possible truth, they will shrink from doing so if they fear God and regard it as His Word : just as the culprit doomed to death, and listening to certain conditions of escape from his judge, will not curiously speculate on the possible meanings which he might perchance attach to those conditions, as if they were of no personal importance to him, but will only be anxious to fully ascertain the mind and intention of his judge.
Such, also, will be the effect of the Word of God on one who fears God. Therefore it is written that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,' for that fear will at once open the mind to receive the true intention of God in His Word, and will keep men from wresting it to their own destruction.'
To Eve's mind, the consequence of disobedience having been reduced to a great, but uncertain danger, lying not in that disobedience, but in the fruit itself, Satan now seeks to follow it up by stating the case a little more strongly. “Ye shall not surely die,' he says. “It is not by any means certain that ye shall die.' And then he goes on to give a proof not only that the danger is at the best uncertain, but that it is also most unlikely ; for says he, ‘Doth not God Himself know that in the day ye eat thereof ye shall be as gods' (the Elohim), “knowing good and evil ? 'It is only the Elohim who know good and evil, and do gods die? How, then, can you die ?
Such were the suggestions of Satan's argument, and by it Eve's fear of the consequences of disobeying God was reduced to a minimum. The fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, was temporarily obliterated
from her mind, and she became morally defenceless against the sophistries of falsehood.
Satan's first endeavour in this case was to remove the fear of God from the mind of Eve, and thus to withdraw her from the spiritual influence of God; and such has ever been the method of his warfare against the souls of men. “Peace, peace,' he cried, by his ministers, the false prophets, to Israel, who were threatened by God with destruction for their idolatry. “We be the children of Abraham,' 'God is our Father,' was the reply of the Jews to the warnings of Christ; and so, ever since then, in many ways, and under the specious covering of halftruths, Satan has, by his ministers, reiterated his old lie, • Thou shalt not surely die.'
The spirit who works in the children of disobedience is a being of no confined intellect and uncertain insight, requiring laboured arguments and many words to effect his purpose; short and concise as his argument was with Eve, every word was weighed, and the effect on her mind accurately calculated. While, on the one hand, the argument used by him removed from her mind the remaining fear of God, he at the same time presented to her a temptation which was yet so worded that he did not appear to act with that intention, but only as if anxious to persuade her that there was but little likelihood of any bad consequences resulting from eating the forbidden fruit. God doth know,' he says, 'that ye shall be as the Elohim, knowing good and eril;' thus presenting to the mind of the woman the temptation of becoming like God in knowledge, in being able to distinguish between good and evil, and thus to avoid evil. Surely this was a most desirable and praiseworthy ambitionto seek the wisdom of God!
The desire for wisdom was not vain curiosity, as some have supposed, for the desire for knowledge, especially that which can distinguish between good and evil, is so far from being wrong that it is the thing of all others which God urges upon man, and which man, because he 'thinks he sees,' will not seek. It was this desire for knowledge which obtained for Solomon the favour of God, and which he urges upon his hearers in the Book of Proverbs : “Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom.' ‘Lift up thy voice for understanding, etc. It is the work of Satan to blind men's minds, and lead them to call evil good and good evil. It is the work of God, and the very means He uses to redeem mankind from the power of evil, to teach them to recognise good and evil, and thus to 'sanctify them by the truth.'
It was thus the apparent excellence of the end to be obtained that made the temptation what it was to Eve. The 'tree of death 'was made to appear the very 'tree of life’ itself. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food,' i.e., physically harmless, and to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit and did eat.'
Now, God had never told Adam that this tree was a tree of wisdom, or that eating of its fruit would give wisdom. Moreover, no wisdom resulted from eating it, but simply the bitter experience of the evil of disobedience. Here, then, was one delusion under which Eve laboured, and by which she was deceived.
But, again.-Before 'the God of this world had blinded her mind,' Eve knew God, and that He alone was the Source of wisdom, and the holy desires of man before the fall were not made to be denied. God talked with Adam and held familiar intercourse with him, and doubtless He who is described as the voice of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the evening' was He whom the Apostle calls the 'Word of God,' as being in the beginning with God, by whom all things were created, who is also called “the Wisdom of God,' and who thus speaks of Himself: ‘I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence. I am understanding. I have strength. By Me the kings reign,