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of the character of the Supreme Being; in which aspect the student of Divine Revelation may find, I believe, a strong and very interesting argument for the reality of divine interpositions for the religious instruction of mankind in the earliest times, long before the dispensation by Moses.
The character of God, as depicted in the Song of Eden, is most truly paternal and endearing. Those spiritual and exalted attributes, indeed, which make an essential part of any pure and worthy conception of God, are not here depicted. In the Garden of Eden, the beneficent Deity himself walks with Adam and converses with him; and Adam hears his voice; and as he has often heard it before in innocence and with gladness, so now with the fear of conscious guilt he hears it, and thinks to hide himself from his Creator's sight. Now all this is, in one aspect, quite unworthy of a Christian's conception of God. If we were seeking the Christian theology here, we must seek in vain. But this, which we find in Genesis, does not profess to be a Christian conception. It is that of men earlier than Judaism. It is that of the world's childhood. And it is a very child's picture of Him whom a grown man's reason and imagination cannot worthily set forth in thought or words. But, I say, the world's childhood thought correctly of the Divine character, inasmuch as it thought lovingly. God was truly known, whenever and wherever He was believed to be good and gracious. Not the mightiest giant in intellect can even yet imagine worthily of the Divine Being and Perfections, except as regards those perfections which make Him the object of trust and love. It is the moral character of God, then, rather than what we call His natural attributes, that the poet of Eden has worthily conceived of. His goodness, His fatherly care for His creatures, this poet has realized ; though not His spirituality and invisible omnipresence. All that humanizing of the natural perfections of the Deity which is implied (rather than grossly expressed) in the description given of His intercourse with our first parents, far less revolts even the most spiritual idea the Christian can entertain, than the filial spirit of love and worship therein embodied towards the kindly parental providence so exercised over the inhabitants of Eden, approves itself to our feelings and our convictions too. The child's heart can feel love and gratitude for God's goodness, though his reason be lost in searching out God, or though his fancy may more likely invest Him with attributes too human. The grown man's mind, elevated to contemplation and trained to reasoning, can less worthily realize the greatness, the spirituality, the omnipresence of God, than the child's heart realizes His kindness. It is well if our manly love and trust have become stronger in proportion as they have become more enlightened. So, from our purer Christian notions of the spirituality, eternity and might of the all-present but still unknown God, we may come back to the days of Eden and ask ourselves, whether to our minds our Heavenly Father is as dear, and His character as attrac
tesquely, represent the writer's evident idea) that the Serpent was originally formed with legs and feet like the other “ beasts of the field,” as one of which he is spoken of.
Between this early speculation on the origin of Evil and the modern doctrine of the Fall and its consequences, there is, in short, no connection, no coherence, no similarity. Let none object to my exposition as not making Genesis to be literally true: I am more scriptural (whether deemed orthodox or not) than the most rigid believer in the Fall of Adam. He does not inculcate a belief in the doctrine of the book of Genesis ; but unconsciously makes that ancient book speak his comparatively modern ideas, and then bids us accept his theology on the credit of Moses. I have endeavoured to trace what the writer really does say and does mean; and have asked my readers to receive it in the spirit of ancient research, and with due respect to the earnest religious spirit of its gifted but unknown writer.
tive, as it was to the ruder conceptions of those older worshipers who believed Him to have “walked" with their progenitors “in the Garden in the cool of the day.”
The picture of Adam and Eve in the Garden, both before their fall, and still more in the sad history of it, and in the sentence passed upon them after it,-a sentence not vindictive nor harsh, but reluctant, expostulating, tender, pronounced in fewest words, without one expression of reproach to add to the load of mortal sorrow or point the sting of conscious wrong-doing,all shews that the writer of the history of Eden entertained a truly filial notion of the Almighty. His notion of the Divine nature is indeed humanized, anthropomorphic; but of the Divine character he has a true conception, for he conceives of it as benevolent. Only one trait occurs unworthy of a truly Paternal Deity,and this comes from his perplexed theory of evil,—when he makes the Divine Being seem jealous of His human offspring: “Behold, the man is become as one of us !" All the rest is humanized only as regards the natural attributes of Deity, while truly worthy of Heaven as regards those which belong to character.
It is curious and instructive to notice that Milton has shrunk from transferring into his modern page some of these humanized, or anthropomorphic, parts of the scriptural representation. Thus, where the Scripture says, “They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden,” Milton introduces the vicegerent Son of God, instead of the Almighty himself, as going “ to judge the transgressors :"
“Gentle airs, due at that hour
To sentence man. The voice of God they heard Now walking in the Garden, by soft winds Brought to their ears while day declined; they heard, And from His presence hid themselves among The thickest trees, both man and wife.” Milton was himself an Arian in theological opinion. In his Paradise Lost, “the vicegerent Son” is the highest created being, the agent of the invisible God in the formation of the world, in the ways of His providence and in the work of redemption. This true poet justly felt, that to introduce the Divine Being personally as conversing in the Garden with His offending creatures, would shock the more spiritual notion which Christians entertain respecting Him “whom no man hath seen nor can see." But, in doing thus, he has varied (as he was quite authorized to do, for the high purposes of his great poem, and as he has done in a thousand other instances) from the text of Scripture. And, poetry apart, I believe those who hold the Arian, or even the Trinitarian creed, generally ascribe to the Son of God, in visible human form, and not to the Almighty Father, nor to the Holy Spirit, this act of conversing with our first parents in the Garden. The Jewish writer shews no trace, however, of any such idea.
such idea. He knew but of one God in one Person; and that God is humanized by him to the conceptions of the days of Eden.
Now this mode of depicting the Divine Being and Character, is the illustrative fact so interesting to the student of Divine Revelation. He reads in it a voucher for the very high antiquity of the record, and even the essential truthfulness of the things recorded. These humanized conceptions of the Supreme Being are the venerable monument of the worship paid by the earliest race of men. While, on the other hand, the beautiful and affecting views of the character of God, as kind and paternal, which these very early records contain, require to be accounted for, and are fully explained on the supposition of primeval communications from the Almighty to the early race of men. Can the tone of this theology be explained on any other supposition? These anteMosaic documents imply the communication of various prior revelations to the patriarchs, and, earlier and earlier still, to the first human pair. Are such revelations credible, or are they not? is our question. An opinion on this subject can only be founded on internal evidence. And evidence of this kind arises out of the mode in which the character of God is depicted in the theology of the Garden of Eden and in that of the patriarchs.
The argument is briefly this: The Divine character, in these earliest of the world's records, is represented as more kind and truly paternal than it is in the Mosaic religion itself. To the Jews, from the time of Moses, God was great and powerful, in contradistinction to the idols of the nations. He was indeed merciful and gracious to them that obeyed Him; but He was, above all, a jealous God who would not give His glory to another. He was King, more than Father, to His peculiar people. He was feared more than loved. His law of ordinances, -unknown in Eden, and only gradually growing up in the patriarchal times,—was matured by Moses, and be
a yoke grievous to be borne;" it was established upon penalties; it was vindicated by terrors. This sterner spirit of the ritual Judaism is one of its leading characteristics, marking its appropriateness to its own times and its own appointed uses, as designed to preserve the worship of One God amid the prevailing idolatry of the world, till the fulness of time should come when Christ should bring life and immortality to light.
How is it then, we ask, that in these early records of patriarchal and præ-patriarchal times, prefixed to the