Genesis 2:17
but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die."
Of the First CovenantHugh BinningGenesis 2:17
Man's First Dwelling-PlaceR.A. Redford Genesis 2:8-17
A View of the Covenant of WorksGenesis 2:16-17
God's CommandProf. J. G. Murphy.Genesis 2:16-17
In What Does Man's Death as a Sinner ConsistHomilistGenesis 2:16-17
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 2:16-17
Of the Covenant of WorksT. Boston, D. D.Genesis 2:16-17
The Fall of ManArchdeacon Farrar.Genesis 2:16-17
The First CovenantArchdeacon Hannah.Genesis 2:16-17
The First LawThe ProtoplastGenesis 2:16-17
The Forbidden TreeD. Moore, M. A.Genesis 2:16-17
The Knowledge of Good and EvilArchdeacon Hannah.Genesis 2:16-17
The Law of ParadiseN. Emmons, D. D.Genesis 2:16-17
The LimitationJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 2:16-17
The Missionary TreesWord and WorkGenesis 2:16-17
The ProhibitionH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 2:16-17
The Threatened DeathD. N. Sheldon, D. D.Genesis 2:16-17
Will God Punish SinJ. M. Sherwood, D. D.Genesis 2:16-17

These two features of Eden claim special attention.

I. THEIR RECURRRNCE IN SCRIPTURE. They link the paradise of unfallen man to that of redeemed man. Actual channels of life and blessing, they were also figures of that salvation which the history of the world was gradually to unfold. But sin came, and death; present possession was lost. What remained was the promise of a Savior. We pass over much of preparation for his coming: the selection of a people; the care of God for his vineyard; the ordinances and services foreshadowing the gospel. Then a time of trouble: Jerusalem a desolation; the people in captivity; the temple destroyed; the ark gone; sacrifices at an end. "Where is now thy God?" Where thy hope? Such the state of the world when a vision given to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-12), reproducing the imagery of Eden, but adapted to the need of fallen man. Again we have the stream; now specially to heal. Its source the mercy-seat (comp. Ezekiel 43:1-7; Ezekiel 47:1; Revelation 22:1). And the trees; not different from the tree of life (Ezekiel 47:12: "It shall bring forth new fruit"); varied manifestations of grace; for food and for medicine. But observe, the vision is of a coming dispensation. Again a space. Our Savior's earthly ministry over. The Church is struggling on. The work committed to weak hands; the treasure in earthen vessels. But before the volume of revelation closed, the same symbols are shown in vision to St. John (Revelation 22:1, 2). The "river of water of life" (cf. "living water," John 4:10), and the tree whose fruit and leaves are for food and healing. Meanwhile our Lord had said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." A link to connect this with Genesis 2. is Revelation 2:7 (cf. also Revelation 12:11). And again, the word used for "tree" in all these passages is that used for the cross in Galatians 3:13 and 1 Peter 2:24.

II. THEIR SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE. The tree with its fruit and leaves are the manifestation of Christ to the soul - to sinners pardon, to the weak support and guidance, to saints communion. And the stream is the gospel (the four-parted river in Eden has been likened to the four Gospels), spreading throughout the world, bringing healing, light, and life; enabling men to rejoice in hope. But mark, the drops of which that stream is composed are living men. The gospel spreads from heart to heart, and from lip to lip (cf. John 7:38). Forming part of that healing flood are preachers of the gospel in every place and way; and thinkers contending for the faith; and men mighty in prayer; and those whose loving, useful lives set forth Christ; and the sick silently preaching patience; and the child in his little ministry. There is helping work for all. The Lord hath need of all. To each one the question comes, Art thou part of that stream? Hast thou realized the stream of mercy, the gift of salvation for thine own need? And cans, thou look at the many still unhealed and be content to do nothing? Thou couldst not cause the stream to flow; but it is thine to press the "living water" upon others, to help to save others Art thou doing this? Is there not within the circle of thy daily life some one in grief whom Christian sympathy may help, some anxious one whom a word of faith may strengthen, some undecided one who may be influenced? There is thy work. Let the reality of Christ's gift and his charge to thee so fill thy heart that real longing may lead to earnest prayer; then a way will be opened. - M.

In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.
These words were fulfilled at the time they were spoken; they have been fulfilled ceaselessly thereafter. We live in a universe of death. The phenomenon is common to us, but no familiarity can rob it of its dreadfulness; for the dead, who are the more in number, have kept their awful secret unrevealed, and the child who died yesterday knows more than can be guessed at by the thousand millions of living men. Yet this death is the least and the least dreaded part of that other, that second, that spiritual death which God meant in the warning of the text.

1. Notice first the certainty of that death. Let us learn to be early undeceived about the tempter's falsehood, "Ye shall not surely die." If a man will serve his sin, let him at least reckon upon this, that in one way or other it will be ill with him; his sin will find him out: his path will be hard; there will be to him no peace. The night of concealment may be long, but dawn comes like the Erinnys to reveal and avenge its crimes.

2. Not only is this punishment inevitable, but it is natural; not miraculous, but ordinary; not sudden, but gradual; not accidental, but necessary; not exceptional, but invariable. Retribution is the impersonal evolution of an established law.

3. Retribution takes the form which of all others the sinner would passionately deprecate, for it is homogeneous with the sins on whose practice it ensues. In lieu of death God offers us His gift of eternal life. While yet we live, while yet we hear the words of invitation, the door is not shut, and we may pass to it by the narrow way. To Eve was given the dim promise that her seed should bruise the serpent's head; for us Christ has trampled sin and Satan under His feet.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

? —

I. THE EMPHASIS EXPRESSED IN THE TEXT. Literally, "Dying thou shalt die." Intensity, rather than certainty.

1. Death, as a dissolution, may be a natural event.

2. Sin gives this dissolution its terrible significance.


(2)Physical sufferings.

(3)Mental frustration.

(4)Social disruptions.

(5)Moral forebodings.

II. THE TIME SPECIFIED IN THE TEXT. Adam did die on the day he sinned. Such a change took place, not merely in his physical condition, but in his mind and heart — so much remorse and foreboding, so many dark thoughts about his dissolution — that he died: his innocency died, his hopes died, his peace died. Conclusion: This view of the subject —

1. Serves to reconcile science and revelation.

2. Serves to explain many ambiguous passages. "The wages of sin is death." "To be carnally minded is death." "Christ hath abolished death."

3. Serves to show the value of the gospel.


? —

I. Who can doubt it, who listens to the voice of reason and of Scripture?

II. The political history of the world bears equally positive testimony.

III. The history of the Church itself furnishes a solemn and affecting answer to the question.

IV. The human conscience bears no doubtful testimony on this subject.

V. The Holy Scriptures answer our question with solemn and startling emphasis. They reveal a holy God, hating all iniquity, and pledged by every attribute of His being, and by every principle of His government, to oppose, subdue, punish, and hedge up the way of sin.

(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

I. THE LARGE AND BOUNTIFUL PROVISION WHICH GOD MADE FOR THE HAPPINESS OF MAN. It is this which leaves our first parents without excuse. There was but one forbidden tree.

II. THE TRIAL OF MAN'S OBEDIENCE. The having some command which we can break is evidently essential to our first notions of moral accountableness; but further than this the restriction placed upon our first parents seems not intended to go. You will observe, from its terms, that it interfered with no one form of rational enjoyment; it left no one of man's mental appetencies ungratified; it involved neither pain, nor effort, nor self-denial, nor cost; it was just an acknowledgment which God required from man of his submission; it was, in fact, a mere nominal quit rent, which he had to pay to the great Landlord of the universe, for having an estate worthy of an angel. With regard to the manner in which all this mental and moral confusion could be connected with the mere gratification of the bodily appetite, it is not wise to speculate. Analogies are not wanting to show to us how the fruits of the earth may be converted into a moral as well as a material poison. We have heard of those who are said to "dig their graves with their teeth"; of those who for a mess of pottage would sell the birthright of immortality; of those who put a thief into their heads, to steal away reason, reflection, thought, ay, their very hopes of heaven; and it may have been so with regard to "the tree of knowledge."

III. THE THREATENED PENALTIES OF DISOBEDIENCE. Where you may first notice the terms of the sentence, in respect to time. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Some persons see a difficulty in this passage, because the sentence of death was not executed upon the day of transgression; but this arises from overlooking the exact import of the Hebrew words used, which would fairly admit of being rendered as referring not to the actual infliction of death, so much as subjecting man to the liability to die. It imports, that he should from that moment become mortal, that there should be the beginnings and seeds of dissolution incorporated with his very being, from the time he tasted of that tree. This rendering will receive some elucidation, if you look at the marginal rendering which is proposed. You will observe, it is there said, "dying, thou shalt die." Now, this is a common Hebraism for some continuous and gradually accomplished act. And therefore the import of the words is, that from the moment this tree was tasted, there should be the beginnings of a death which should reach to all his posterity. The same continuousness of action applies to a former part of the verse; for there too, you observe, the same marginal reference is given. It is said, "eating, thou shalt eat," just as here it is said, "dying, thou shalt die"; and therefore the two expressions may be interpreted alike — the one as saying, "Eating, thou shalt eat," or, "This tree shall be for thy perpetual life," the other as saying, "Dying, thou shalt die," or, "The taste of this tree shall be for thy perpetual death." Let us close with two reflections.

1. The history we have been contemplating should impress us with a sense of the transcendent evil of sin. The fruit, as it hung in all its seductive and inviting clusters, was a type of all the evil that is to be found in the world. It was pleasing to the eye, it was exciting to the appetite, it was easy to grasp, and, if the eye of God would but slumber, it might be partaken of unobserved. But what were its immediate effects? Disease, mortality, loss of paradise, tormenting fears, the shunning of-the very presence of God. And such is sin now, and such do they who have entered upon its courses know to be its consequences.

2. Then, once more, this history should fill us with gratitude for the greatness of our deliverance through Christ. If we would know the infinite evil of sin, if we would be inspired with a holy aversion from its contact, if we would be won to love and gratitude to the Father of our spirits, we must go and gaze with the eye of faith on the wonders of the cross.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

This is a pregnant sentence. It involves the first principles of our intellectual and moral philosophy.

I. THE COMMAND HERE GIVEN IN WORDS BRINGS INTO ACTIVITY THE INTELLECTUAL NATURE OF MAN. First, the power of understanding language is called forth. This is the passive lesson of elocution; the practice, the active lesson will speedily follow. Not only the secondary part, however, but at the same time the primary and fundamental part of man's intellectual nature is here developed. The understanding of the sign necessarily implies the knowledge of the thing signified. The objective is represented here by the "trees of the garden." The subjective comes before his mind in the pronoun "thou." The physical constitution of man appears in the process of "eating." The moral part of his nature comes out in the significance of the words "mayest" and "shalt not." The distinction of merit in actions and things is expressed in the epithets "good and evil." The notion of reward is conveyed in the terms "life" and "death." And lastly, the presence and authority of "the Lord God" is implied in the very nature of a command. Thus the susceptible part of man's intellect is evoked. The conceptive part will speedily follow and display itself in the many inventions that will be sought out and applied to the objects which are placed at his disposal.


1. Mark God's mode of teaching. He issues a command. This is required in order to bring forth into consciousness the hitherto latent sensibility to moral obligation which was laid in the original constitution of man's being.

2. The special mandate here given is not arbitrary in its form, as is sometimes hastily supposed, but absolutely essential to the legal adjustment of things in this new stage of creation. Antecedent to the behest of the Creator, the only indefeasible right to all the creatures lay in Himself. These creatures may be related to one another. In the great system of things, through the wonderful wisdom of the grand Designer, the use of some may be needful to the well-being, the development, and perpetuation of others. Nevertheless no one has a shadow of right in the original nature of things to the use of any other. And when a moral agent comes upon the stage of being, in order to mark out the sphere of his legitimate action, an explicit declaration of the rights over other creatures granted and reserved must be made. The very issue of the command proclaims man's original right of property to be not inherent but derived. As might be expected in these circumstances, the command has two clauses, a permissive and a prohibitive.

3. The prohibitory part of this enactment is not a matter of indifference, as is sometimes imagined, but indispensable to the nature of a command, and, in particular, of a permissive act or declaration of granted rights.

4. That which is here made the matter of reserve and so the test of obedience, is so far from being trivial or out of place, as has been imagined, that it is the proper and the only object immediately available for these purposes. The immediate want of man is food. The kind of food primarily designed for him is the fruit of trees.

5. We are now prepared to understand why this tree is called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The prohibition of this tree brings man to the knowledge of good and evil. The products of creative power were all very good (Genesis 1:31). Even this tree itself is good, and productive of unspeakable good in the first instance to man. The discernment of merit comes up in his mind by this tree. Obedience to the command of God not to partake of this tree is a moral good. Disobedience to God by partaking of it is a moral evil.

6. In the day of thy eating thereof, die surely shalt thou. The Divine command is accompanied with its awful sanction, death. The man could not at this time have any practical knowledge of the physical dissolution called death. We must, therefore, suppose either that God made him preternaturally acquainted with it, or that He conveyed to him the knowledge of it simply as the negation of life. Probably the latter.

III. MAN HAS HERE EVIDENTLY BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH HIS MAKER. On the hearing and understanding of this sentence at least, if not before, he has arrived at the knowledge of God, as existing, thinking, speaking, permitting, commanding, and thereby exercising all the prerogatives of that absolute authority over men and things which creation alone can give. If we were to draw all this out into distinct propositions, we should find that man was here furnished with a whole system of theology, ethics, and metaphysics, in a brief sentence.

(Prof. J. G. Murphy.)

I. When we use the word covenant to describe a revelation, which sounds more like a bare command, we mean to imply that this earliest transaction between God and man is marked by the same characteristics which we can trace throughout God's later dispensations; that it does not rest the claim of obedience on the naked prerogative of unquestionable power, but connects it with the offer of an explicit alternative for the decision of freewill; accompanied by the promise of a blessing for obedience, and by the threat of punishment for disobedience. We thus bring it into direct comparison with the general tenor of God's later covenants: "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse." "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil." A covenant, then, stands by its very nature between two other conceptions, each of which falls short of the full import of God's dealings with man. It is more than a mere ordinance, or a mere command, such as might have been imposed without reason, and enforced without reward. On the other hand, it is more than that expression of God's law which He wrote on man's heart in his very creation, and the traces of which we retain in the authority of conscience.

II. We have next to ask the meaning of the precept which that covenant contained; a precept which sometimes seems so strange and arbitrary: which some interpretations, indeed, describe as really strange and arbitrary; namely, that while freely indulged in every other earthly blessing, man was forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What is the right interpretation of those words? The following seems to be the meaning of Scripture in its disclosures on this earliest covenant. When man had been created after the image of God, there were two of the Divine attributes, his admission to which was limited by positive laws. These higher endowments were Immortality and Knowledge. To these the two trees which were planted in the midst of the garden bore a certain correspondence; that of life he might use, that of knowledge be might not. To have enjoyed free access to both from the beginning would have raised him above the rank which was suited to a being who was as yet so utterly untried. Therefore the one fruit was unconditionally forbidden, while the other fruit was conditionally allowed. When man disobeyed, and tasted of the prohibited tree of knowledge, the command was readjusted to meet the case of his sin. The tree of knowledge had now been tasted: the tree of life was therefore withdrawn.

(Archdeacon Hannah.)

"The knowledge of good and evil." Now to understand this expression thoroughly, we must distinguish it very clearly, in the first place, from other kinds of knowledge which were not forbidden: and in the second place, from such a knowledge, even of good and evil, as could manifestly be possessed without sin.

1. As to the first of these points, we might at first be disposed to wonder how knowledge could be, in any form, the one gift which God denied; how the special test of man's obedience could be placed in his abstinence from what would bring him knowledge, and so open his eyes more fully, as it seemed, to the true nature of the path that lay before him. To this difficulty the obvious answer would be, that when man was forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the injunction certainly did not imply that every kind of knowledge was withheld.

2. It is also clear that there is a knowledge of good and evil, which can be possessed, if it cannot be directly sought for, without sin. From these two considerations we establish, first, that the precept of this earliest covenant would debar man from some kind of knowledge, without excluding him from all knowledge; and secondly, that even when it withheld the knowledge of good and evil, there was still some knowledge which might be described by those same words, yet which could not have been forbidden by them, because its presence was implied in the mere form of the command. The first of these remarks suggests, that we may confine our present inquiry entirely to what is specially called moral knowledge: i.e., the knowledge of moral acts or habits, so far as they are permitted or condemned: knowledge of the right, whether regarded as law, or precept, or command: in combination with knowledge of that transgression of the right, which may be diversely regarded as crime, or vice, or sin. Further, the second remark suggests, that this moral knowledge was not so much forbidden in itself, which would have been impossible in the ease of a being endowed with both a moral and an intellectual nature; but forbidden under certain circumstances, and at a certain time.By the help of these two positions we may gain, I think, a more close and accurate conception of that acquirement which the fruit of the tree of knowledge would convey.

1. First it would have been barren knowledge. It would have given man a theory, when he needed a rule: it would have lighted up his mind to debate about his duty, when at present his sole work was, to do his duty as the will of God. Precisely so our moral sciences teaches, that in morality, bare theory can never be safely carried far in advance of practice; and that the safe road to moral wisdom lies, not through a familiarity with intellectual systems, but through the ready obedience of the heart.

2. That this knowledge would have been barren, then, is enough to establish the mercy and wisdom of God's first injunction. But we can go further: we can show that it would have been not less dangerous than useless. Such a knowledge of good and evil would reveal to Adam the grounds of sin, the sources of temptation, etc. Hence, shame was the immediate result of that knowledge. The instant appearance of that feeling showed, that man now for the first time knew his capacities, tendencies, and opportunities for sin.

(Archdeacon Hannah.)


1. For direction, for man is unfit to chose his own way, being through his ignorance so apt to mistake evil for good: neither is any able to find out what is truly good but God alone, who is goodness itself; and His will the rule of goodness which none can find out or reveal but Himself (1 Corinthians 2:11).

2. It is needful that by conforming to the law given us by God, we may testify our obedience and subjection unto Him; withal acknowledging and witnessing to the world, that we account His will in all things to be most just, which we take unto ourselves as the rule of our actions.


1. That by that means we may acknowledge God's absolute sovereignty when all things are done upon no other ground but because God will have it so.

2. Because nothing is infallibly good or holy but His will, as Himself is good and righteous, and there is no iniquity in Him (Deuteronomy 32:4), seeing nothing is fit to be the rule of other things but that which is in itself certain and unchangeable.

III. GOD IS PLEASED NOT ONLY TO GIVE A LAW TO DIRECT US, BUT TO FURNISH US WITH ALL NEEDFUL MEANS TO FURTHER US IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DUTIES REQUIRED THEREIN. And this He doth, partly, to manifest the sincerity of His affection towards us, in desiring our salvation; and partly, to justify Himself in the condemnation of those that refuse so great salvation so many ways tendered unto them, and so obstinately refused. Let us, then, make use of such helps and means as God is pleased to offer unto us, as being assured that He really intends what He so many ways labours to draw us to embrace; and, secondly, as having need of such helps to support us; and, thirdly, being liable to the greater Condemnation, by despising and rejecting them.


1. To manifest our total subjection unto Him, when we are limited even in the smallest things.

2. To show us that it is only obedience and conformity to His will that God respects, and not She matter or substance of the thing itself in which He requires it.

3. To make our yoke the more easy, that we might be the more encouraged to obedience.


VI. DISOBEDIENCE IS A FEARFUL SIN IN GOD'S ACCOUNT. And that especially because it is directed against the majesty of God Himself, whose authority is slighted and despised, when His laws and commandments are disobeyed. And, secondly, it opens a gap to all manner of looseness and disorder; nature knows no stay when it hath once passed the bounds of obedience, no more than a violent stream doth, when it hath once broken over those banks that before kept it in.


VIII. DEATH AND DESTRUCTION ARE IN GOD'S HAND, TO INFLICT THEM WHERE HE PLEASETH. The consideration hereof, cannot but revive the heart of God's servants, hated and persecuted by men of the world, when they know their life and breath is in God's hand, which therefore none can take away, but by His will and decree; and therefore —

1. Not while God hath any use of their service here.

2. Not if they be of the number of Christ's redeemed ones, for whom He hath conquered death, and taken away the sting of it (1 Corinthians 15:55-57), and delivered them from the power of it.


X. GOD'S JUDGMENTS ARE CERTAIN AND INFALLIBLE, AS WELL AS HIS PROMISES OF MERCY. Resting upon the same grounds which are in themselves infallible.

1. The holiness of His nature, by which He is constantly moved to take vengeance on sin, as well as to reward righteousness.

2. His unalterable truth, which is firmer than heaven or earth. (See Numbers 14:23-35).

3. His unresistible power (Deuteronomy 32:39). Secondly, directed to the same end which God aims at in all His ways and works, the filling of the earth with His glory (Numbers 14:21), advanced in the acts of His justice, as well as of His mercy.


(J. White, M. A.)

We have here an account of the original transaction between God and our first father Adam in paradise, while yet in the state of primitive integrity. In which the following things are to be remarked, being partly expressed and partly implied.

1. The Lord's making over to him a benefit by way of a conditional promise, which made the benefit a debt upon the performing of the condition. This promise is a promise of life, and is included in the threatening of death.

2. The condition required to entitle him to this benefit, namely, obedience. It is expressed in a prohibition of one particular, "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it."

3. The sanction, or penalty in case of the breach of the covenant, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

4. Adam's going into the proposal, and acceptance of those terms, is sufficiently intimated to us by his objecting nothing against it. Door. There was a covenant of works, a proper covenant, between God and Adam the father of mankind.


1. Here is a concurrence of all that is necessary to constitute a true and proper covenant of works. The parties contracting, God and man; God requiring obedience as the condition of life; a penalty fixed in case of breaking; and man acquiescing in the proposal.

2. It is expressly called a covenant in Scripture: "For these are the two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai," etc. (Galatians 4:24). This covenant from Mount Sinai was the covenant of works as being opposed to the covenant of grace, namely, the law of the ten commandments, with promise and sanction, as before expressed. At Sinai it was renewed indeed, but that was not its first appearance in the world. For there being but two ways of life to be found in Scripture, one by works, the other by grace, the latter hath no place but where the first is rendered ineffectual; therefore the covenant of works was before the covenant of grace in the world; yet the covenant of grace was promulgated quickly after Adam's fall; therefore the covenant of works behoved to have been made with him before. And how can one imagine a covenant of works set before poor impotent sinners, if there had not been such a covenant with man in his state of integrity? "But as for them, like Adam, they have transgressed the covenant" (Hosea 6:7).

3. We find a law of works opposed to the law of faith. "Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith" (Romans 3:27). This law of works is the covenant of works, requiring works, or obedience, as the condition pleadable for life; for otherwise the law as a rule of life requires works too. Again, it is a law that does not exclude boasting, which is the very nature of the covenant of works, that makes the reward to be of debt. And further, the law of faith is the covenant of grace; therefore the law of works is the covenant of works.

4. There were sacramental signs and seals of this transaction in paradise. "And now lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (Genesis 3:22); and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, mentioned in the words of the text. When we find, then, confirming seals of this transaction, we must own it to be a covenant.

5. Lastly: All mankind are by nature under the guilt of Adam's first sin (Romans 5:12). And they are under the curse of the law before they have committed actual sin: hence they are said to be "by nature children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3), which they must needs owe to Adam's sin, as imputed to them. This must be owing to a particular relation betwixt them and him; which must either be, that he is their natural head simply, from whence they derive their natural being — but then the sins of our immediate parents, and all other mediate ones too, behoved to be imputed rather than Adam's, because oar relation to them is nearer — or because he is our federal head also, representing us in the first covenant. And that is the truth, and evidences the covenant of works made with Adam to have been a proper covenant.

II. I shall explain THE NATURE OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS. In order to do this, I shall consider — First. The parties contracting in this covenant. These were two. First. On the one hand, God Himself, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying," etc. (Genesis 2:16). God, as Creator and Sovereign Lord of man, condescended to enter into a covenant with man, His own creature and subject, whom He might have governed by a simple law, without proposing to him the reward of life. Thus it was a covenant betwixt two very unequal parties. And here God showed —

1. His supreme authority over the creature man, founded on man's natural dependence on Him as his Creator (Romans 11:36).

2. His abundant goodness, in annexing such a great reward to man's service, which it could never merit (Hebrews 11:6).

3. His admirable condescension, in stooping to make a covenant with His own creature. Secondly. On the other hand was Adam, the father of all mankind. He must be considered here under a two-fold notion.

1. As a righteous man, morally perfect, endued with sufficient power and abilities to believe and do whatever God should reveal to or require of him, fully able to keep the law. That Adam was thus furnished when the covenant was made with him —(1) Appears from plain Scripture: "God hath made man upright" (Ecclesiastes 7:29).(2) Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). And so —(a) His mind was endowed with knowledge; for that is a part of the image of God in man (Colossians 3:10).(b) His will was endowed with righteousness (Ephesians 4:24).(c) His affections were holy (Ephesians 4:24).(d) He had an executive power, whereby he was capable to do what he knew to be his duty, and inclined to do. He was made very good (Genesis 1:31); which implies not only a power to do good, but a facility in doing it free from all clogs and hindrances.(e) If he had not been so, that covenant could not have been made with him. It was inconsistent with the justice and goodness of God to have required that of His creature which he had not ability to perform given him by his Creator. Wherefore, before Adam could be obliged to perfect obedience, he behoved to have ability competent for it; otherwise that saying of the wicked and slothful servant had been true (Matthew 25:24).

Use 1. How low is man now brought, how unlike to what he was at his creation! Alas! man is now ruined, and sin is the cause of that fatal ruin.

2. What madness is it for men to look to that covenant for salvation, when they are nowise fit for the way of it, having lost all the furniture and ability proper for the observation thereof.

3. See how ye stand with respect to this covenant; whether ye are discharged from it, and brought within the bond of the new covenant in Christ or not. But I proceed. Adam, in the covenant of works, is to be considered as the first man (1 Corinthians 15:47), in whom all mankind was included. And he was —

1. The natural root of mankind, from which all the generations of men on the face of the earth spring. This is evident from Acts 17:26.

2. The moral root, a public person, and representative of mankind. And as such the covenant of works was made with him. As to this representation by Adam, we may note —

1. That the man Christ was not included in it; Adam did not represent Him, as he stood covenanting with God. This is manifest, in that Christ is opposed to Adam, as the last and second Adam to the first Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), one representative to another (ver. 48).

2. Whether Eve was included in this representation is not so clear. I find she is excepted by some. It is plain that Adam was the original whence she came, as he and she together are of all their posterity. He was her head. "For the husband is the head of the wife" (Ephesians 5:23). The thread of the history (Genesis 2) gives us the making of the covenant of works with Adam before the formation of Eve. The covenant itself runs in terms as delivered to one person: "Thou mayest — Thou shalt" (vers. 16, 17). From whence it seems to me that she was included.

3. Without question, all his posterity by ordinary generation were included in it. He stood for them all in that covenant, and was their federal head, that covenant being made with him as a public person representing them all. For —(1) The relation which the Scripture teaches betwixt Adam and Christ evinces this. The one is called the first Adam, the other the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). the one the first man, the ocher the second man (ver. 47). Now, Christ is not the second man, but as He is a public person, representing all His elect seed in the covenant of grace, being their federal head; therefore Adam was a public person, representing all his natural seed in the covenant of works, being their federal head; for if there be a second man, there must be a first man; if a second representative, there must be a first. Again, Christ is not the last Adam, but as the federal head of the elect, bringing salvation to them by His covenant keeping; therefore the first Adam was the federal head of those whom he brought death upon by his covenant breaking, and these are all: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (ver. 22).(2) Adam's breaking of the covenant is in law their breaking of it; it is imputed to them by a holy God, whose judgment is according to truth, and therefore can never impute to men the sin of which they are not guilty. "All have sinned" (Romans 5:12).(3) The ruins by the breach of that covenant fall on all mankind, not excepting those who are not guilty of actual sin. Hence believers are said to have been "the children of wrath, even as others" (Ephesians 2:3), and that "death hath reigned over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression" (Romans 5:14).(4) The sin and death we come under by Adam, is still restrained unto that sin of his by which he brake the covenant of works. "Through the offence of one many be dead. The judgment was by one to condemnation. By one man's offence death reigned by one. By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation. By one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (Romans 5:15-19). This representation was just and equal, though we did not make choice of Adam for that effect. The justice and equity of it appears in that —

1. God made the choice; He pitched on Adam as a fit person to represent all mankind; and there is no mending of God's work, which is perfect (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

2. Adam was undoubtedly the most fit choice. He was the common father of us all; so being our natural head, he was fittest to be our federal head. He was in case for managing the bargain to the common advantage (Ecclesiastes 7:29), being "made upright," and furnished with sufficient abilities. And his own interest was on the same bottom with that of his posterity. Thus his abilities and natural affections concurring with his own interest, spoke him to be a fit person for that office.

3. The choice was of a piece with the covenant. The covenant, in its own nature most advantageous for man, though it could not be profitable to God (Job 35:7) was a free benefit and gift on God's part; forasmuch as man had not a claim to the life promised, but by the covenant. So that as the covenant owed its being, not to nature, but a positive constitution of God, so did the choice owe its being to the same. God joined the covenant and representation together; and so the consent of Adam or his posterity to the one was a consenting to the other.

III. I COME NOW TO DISCOURSE OF THE PARTS OF THE COVENANT. Now, the parts of the covenant of works agreed upon by God and man were three — the condition to he performed by man, the promise to be accomplished to man upon his performance of the condition, and the penalty in case of man's breaking the covenant. The condition of the covenant of works: First. The first part is the condition to be performed; which was obedience to the law, fulfilling the commands God gave him, by doing what they required (Romans 10:5), upon the doing of which he might claim the promised life in virtue of the compact. So this was a covenant, a covenant properly conditional. For understanding of this, we must consider —

1. What law he was by this covenant obliged to yield obedience to; and —

2. What kind of obedience he was obliged to yield thereto.First. Let us consider what law he was by this covenant obliged to yield obedience to.

1. The natural law, the law of the ten commandments, as the New Testament explains it (Galatians 3:10). If it be inquired, How that law was given him? It was written on his mind and heart (Romans 2:15); and that in his creation (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Therefore it is called the natural law.

2. Another law which Adam was obliged, by the covenant of works, to yield obedience to, was the positive symbolical law, forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil recorded in the text. This law Adam had not, nor could have, but by revelation; for it was no part of the law of nature, being in its own nature indifferent, and altogether depending on the will of the Lawgiver, who, in a consistency with His own and man's nature too, might have appointed otherwise concerning it. But this law being once given, the natural law obliged him to the observation of it, inasmuch as it strictly bound him to obey his God and Creator in all things, binding him to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Hence it follows —(1) That in as far as this law was obeyed, the natural law was obeyed; and the breaking of the former was the breaking of the latter also.(2) That whatever is revealed by the Lord to be believed or to be done, the natural law of the ten commandments obliges to the believing or doing of it. "The law of the Lord is perfect" (Psalm 19:7).

1. Herein man's obedience was to turn upon the precise point of respect to the will of God, which was a trial of his obedience exactly suited to the state he was then in, and by which the most glaring evidence of true obedience would have been given.

2. Thus his obedience or disobedience behoved to be most clear, conspicuous, and undeniable, not only to himself, but to other creatures capable of observation; forasmuch as this law respected an external thing obvious to sense, and the discerning of any, who yet could not judge of internal acts of obedience or disobedience.

3. It was most proper for asserting God's dominion over man, being a visible badge of man's subjection to God.

4. It was a most proper moral instrument, and suitable mean, to retain man in his integrity, who, though a happy creature, was yet a changeable one. Secondly. Let us consider what kind of obedience to the law Adam was, by this covenant, obliged to yield, as the condition of it.To this two-fold law he was to yield —

1. Perfect obedience.(1) Perfect in respect of the principle of it. His nature, soul, and heart behoved always to be kept pure and untainted, as the principle of action.(2) Perfect in parts, nowise defective or lame, wanting any part necessary to its integrity (James 1:4).(3) Perfect in degrees (Luke 10:27, 28).

2. Adam was obliged to perpetual obedience (Galatians 3:10). Not that he was forever to have been upon his trial; for that would have rendered the promise of life vain and fruitless, since he could never at that rate have attained the reward of his obedience. But it behoved to be perpetual, as a condition of the covenant, during the time set by God Himself for the trial; which time God has not discovered in His Word.

3. Adam was obliged to personal obedience. Hence says the Lord, "Ye shall keep My statutes and My judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them" (Leviticus 18:5), which words the Apostle Paul quotes: "Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doth these things shall live by them" (Romans 10:5). The promise to be accomplished to man upon his performance of the condition. That was a promise of life (Romans 10:5), which was implied in the threatening of death in case of sinning. We come now to consider THE PENALTY IN CASE OF MAN'S BREAKING THE COVENANT, not fulfilling the condition. This was death, death in its full latitude and extent, as opposed unto life and prosperity. This death was two fold. First: Legal death, whereby man sinning became dead in law, being a condemned man, laid under the curse, or sentence of the law, binding him over to the wrath of God, and to revenging justice. "For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse. For it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Galatians 3:10). Thus was man to die the day he should break the covenant; and thus he died that very moment he sinned, because by his sin he broke the holy, just, and good law of God, set himself in opposition to the holy nature of God, and cast off the yoke of submission to his Creator. Secondly: Real death, which is the execution of the sentence (Deuteronomy 29:19, 20); the threatened evils and punishments contained in the curse of the law coming upon him. And of this there are several parts, all which man became liable to, or fell upon him, when he sinned. We take them up in these three — spiritual, natural, and eternal death.

1. Spiritual death, which is the death of the soul and spirit of man (Ephesians 2:1, where the apostle mentions a being "dead in trespasses and sins"). This results from the separation of the soul from God, by the breaking of the silver cord of this covenant, which knit innocent man to God, causing him to live, and live prosperously, as long as it was unbroken; but being broken, that union and communion was dissolved, and they parted (Isaiah 59:2). Thus man was separated from the fountain of life, upon which death necessarily ensued.

2. Natural death, which is the death of the body. This results from the separation of the soul from the body. It is two fold — stinged and unstinged death. Unstinged death parts the soul and body indeed, but not by virtue of the curse for sin. This is the lot of the people of God (1 Corinthians 15:55), and is not the penalty of the covenant of works; for that is death with the sting of the curse (Galatians 3:10), which death Christ died, which penalty He paid, and so freed believers from it (Galatians 3:13). So that there is a specified difference betwixt the death of believers and that death threatened in the covenant of works; they are not of the same kind, no more than they die the death that Christ died.

3. Eternal death, which issues from the eternal separation of both soul and body from God in hell (Matthew 25:41). This is the full accomplishment of the curse of the covenant of works; and presupposes the union of the soul and body, in a dreadful resurrection to damnation; the criminal soul and body being brought forth from their separate prisons and joined together again, that death may exercise its full force upon them forever and ever. I shall consider THE SEALS OF THE COVENANT OF WORKS, WHEREBY IT WAS CONFIRMED TO ADAM.It has pleased God to append seals to His covenants with men in all ages, for the confirmation of their faith of the respective covenants; and this covenant seems not to have wanted some seals appended thereto for the same effect.

1. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Whatever it was, it was not so called, as having a power really to make men wise. So the tempter pretended (Genesis 3:5), but he was a liar from the beginning (John 8:44). But it was a sign both of good and evil; sealing to him all good while he should abstain from it, and evil if he should eat of it; and so confirming his faith in both parts of the persuasion of it. And eventually, by eating of it, he knew good by the loss of it, and evil by the feeling of it. Though it was not to be touched, it might be seen, even as the rainbow, the seal of the covenant with Noah.

2. The tree of life (Genesis 2:9). The which, though it might be an excellent means of preserving the vigour of natural life, as other trees of paradise also, yet it could not have a virtue in itself of making man every way immortal. But it was a notable sacramental sign of life and eternal happiness, according to the nature of that covenant.Here, as in a glass, ye may see several things, concerning God, concerning man in his best estate, concerning Christ, and concerning man in his present fallen state.

1. Concerning God, look into this covenant, and behold —(1) The wonderful condescension of God, and of His goodness and grace toward His creature man.(2) The spotless holiness and exact justice of God against sin.

2. Concerning man in his state of primitive integrity.(1) Man was a holy and happy creature in his first state.(2) Man at his best estate, standing on his own legs, is a fickle creature, liable to change.

3. Concerning Christ the Saviour of sinners, behold here —(1) The absolute necessity of a Surety in the event of a breach of this covenant.(2) The love of Christ to poor sinners in becoming surety for broken man.

4. Concerning man in his fallen state.(1) It is no wonder, that however scarce good works are in the world, yet working to win heaven is so very frequent. Legal principles and practices are natural to men; the covenant of works being that covenant that was made with Adam, and in him with all mankind, and so after a sort engrained in man's nature. And nothing less than the power of grace is able to bring man from off that way, to the salvation by Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24).(2) Salvation by works of our own is quite impossible; there is no life nor salvation to be had by the law, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse" (Galatians 3:10).

(T. Boston, D. D.)


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 (Ephesians 3:10).(2) To show 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.(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.(4) For venting His boundless love in the communications of His goodness to man.(5) For the manifestation of His truth and faithfulness in keeping covenant with His creature, which could not otherwise have been so gloriously discovered.(6) That He might be the more cleared and justified in resenting the injuries done Him by the disobedience of His creatures, 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.(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.(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.(4) For his greater comfort and encouragement. By this he might clearly see what he might expect from God as a reward of his diligence and activity in His service.(5) That He might manifest Himself to him, and deal with him the more familiarly. The dealing by way of covenant is the way of dealing betwixt man and man that hath least of distance in it, and most of familiarity, wherein parties come near to each other with greatest freedom.


1. See here the great and wonderful condescension of God, who was pleased to stoop so low as to enter into a covenant with His own creature.

2. See what a glorious condition man was in when God entered into a covenant with him.

3. See that God is very just in all that comes on man. He set him up with a good stock, in a noble case, making him His covenant party. He gave him the noblest undeserved encouragement to continue in his obedience, and told him his hazard if he should disobey. So that falling he is left without excuse, his misery being entirely owing to himself.

4. See the deplorable condition of all Adam's posterity by reason of the breach of this covenant. They are under the curse of the law, which is an universal curse, and discharges its thunder against every person who is naturally under that covenant, and has not changed his state.

5. This serves to humble all flesh, and beat down the pride of all created glory, under the serious consideration of the great loss we have sustained by Adam's fall, and the sad effects thereof upon us. We Have lost all that is good and valuable, the image and favour of God, and have incurred the wrath and displeasure of a holy God.

6. See the unsearchable riches of Divine grace, in providing a better covenant for the recovery and salvation of fallen man.

7. There is no wonder, that however little good is wrought in the world, yet working to win heaven is so frequent. We have sufficient evidence of the covenant of works being made with man as a public person, seeing it is yet natural to us to do that we may live, and to think that God will accept us for our works' sake.

8. See your misery, all ye that are out of Christ. This covenant is your way to heaven, which is now impossible. Tell not of your good meanings and desires, your repentance, and your obedience, such as it is; and think not to get life, salvation, and acceptance thereby. For the covenant ye are under admits of no repentance, no will for the deed. It requires nothing less than perfect obedience, which ye are incapable to give.

9. Therefore give over this way of seeking life by the broken covenant of works, and come to the Lord Jesus Christ; lay hold on the better covenant, and come up to Christ's chariot (Song of Solomon 3:9, 10), which will drive you safely to eternal life and glory. That chariot which the first Adam drove, went not far till it was all shattered, and made unfit to carry any to heaven. It breaks with the weight of the least sin; and so you can never think it will drive to heaven with you (Romans 8). But come into the chariot of the covenant of grace, and ye will be safely carried in it to the land of eternal rest and glory.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

A right understanding of this law of paradise is necessary, in order to get a clear knowledge of the most essential and fundamental doctrines of the gospel; and no less necessary in order to detect and refute many great and dangerous errors which have prevailed, and which still prevail, in the Christian world.

I. I am to show that GOD HAS A RIGHT TO GIVE LAW to all His intelligent creatures. It is the part of a superior to give law to an inferior. Every lawgiver must be supreme, in respect to those to whom he gives law. God is by nature supreme in all His natural and moral attributes. His power is superior to the united power of all created beings. His wisdom is superior to their united wisdom. His goodness is superior to their united goodness. He stands supreme among the whole intelligent creation, in point of power, wisdom, and goodness, which are the most amiable and essential qualifications of a lawgiver. This supremacy alone is sufficient to give Him the throne of the universe, and clothe Him with the highest possible authority, to give law to all His intelligent creatures in every part of His vast dominions. But here the important point to be considered is, how God enacts His will into a law or rule of duty to the subjects of His moral government. This He does, by publishing His will to them in a certain manner. By publishing His will, I say, because there is no necessity of His publishing His design, intention or determination. This, as a lawgiver, He has a right to keep a secret in His own breast. But He must publish His will, that is, His pleasure, in order to make His will or pleasure a rule of duty of legal obligation. And He must also make it known in a certain manner, to give it the force and obligation of law; or in other words, He must publish His will in the form of law.

1. In the first place, He must specify the persons or beings to whom He speaks authoritatively.

2. Secondly, He must express His will in the form of a precept, or a prohibition, in order to clothe it with Divine authority.

3. Besides, thirdly, He must threaten to punish those who disobey His precepts or prohibitions, in order to give His will the form and force of law. There can be no precept nor prohibition without a penalty expressed or implied. The penalty is the sanction of a law, and expresses the whole authority of the lawgiver.

II. It is now easy to show that GOD DID GIVE A PROPER LAW TO ADAM respecting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These words were addressed to Adam personally; they contained a precise prohibition, which was sanctioned by a precise penalty. Adam was the very person prohibited; the thing prohibited was his eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and the penalty annexed was death: "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." This was a proper law in distinction from any covenant, or constitution.

III. I am next to show WHEREIN THIS LAW OF PARADISE WAS LIKE ALL OTHER DIVINE LAWS. Here it is easy to mention several important points of resemblance.

1. It was like all other Divine laws in its nature. Every Divine law which was given to Adam, and which has ever been given to his posterity, has required the heart, or internal holiness.

2. The law respecting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was like all other Divine laws in its extent. It extended to all who were specified in it, and to no others.

3. The law of paradise was like all other Divine laws in regard to its condemning power. Every Divine law has a condemning power; that is, a power to condemn those who are bound by it, and actually transgress it. And the law given to Adam, respecting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. had the same condemning power, and did actually condemn those who were guilty of eating the forbidden fruit.

IV. Wherein the law respecting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was UNLIKE SOME LAWS which God has given to mankind. And here I can think of but one point of difference worthy to be mentioned; and that is, in respect to duration. This law was given to our first parents, to try their love and obedience; and as soon as it had answered this purpose, it ceased of course to have any legal force or obligation.

V. WHAT PUNISHMENT THE LAW THREATENED TO ADAM, IN CASE OF DISOBEDIENCE. The words of the law are plain and explicit. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

Our business in now to consider the import and the extent of this penalty. What are we to understand by this threatened death? What is the true construction of the language: "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"? Let us first inquire whether bodily death, the dissolution of the physical organization, is embraced in the threatened penalty? Is there good ground to believe, either from the teachings of Scripture, or from any other source, that this is at least a part, if not the whole, of the punishment which was denounced and executed on our first parents? We answer at once that we know of no reason whatever for thus thinking. That corporal death does not include the whole of what was threatened, we suppose that there is little occasion for attempting to show to any here; and I hope to be able to convince the most of you, in the course of my discussion, that there is no evidence that it constitutes any part of the original threatening. I will not say that physical pain and bodily dissolution are not and cannot be, in any case, the fruit of sin and a part of its punishment; but there is force in the allegation, that as sin is the transgression of a moral law, and a moral offence, its proper punishment should first and chiefly be looked for in a disturbed state of the moral feelings and the moral relations. Since the seat of sin is the mind, it is mainly, no doubt, in the mind that its punishment should be sought. We cannot argue from the words in the text — "Thou shalt surely die" — that bodily death forms any part of the evil thus signified. This language may just as well be interpreted of moral or spiritual death, as of corporeal. The terms "die" and "death" are often used in the Bible to denote nothing beyond spiritual death, or that state of mind, that feeling of guilt, condemnation, and misery, which immediately succeeds the transgression of the Divine law. But is there not a reason, in the language of the threatening itself, which unavoidably drives us to the spiritual sense? The terms employed are: "IN THE DAY THAT THOU EATEST THEREOF, thou shalt surely die." Now if we suppose here any reference at all to bodily death, if we consider this idea as in any manner included in the expression, "Thou shalt surely die," we at once involve ourselves in a great and apparently inextricable difficulty. We compromise the veracity of God; we make Him pronounce a sentence which He does not execute; for Adam and Eve did not die corporeally, did not suffer the extinction of their natural earthly life the very day in which they partook of the forbidden fruit, but lived, according to the account which we have of them, hundreds of years after this time. Is there, then, any way of avoiding the conclusion that bodily death is no part of the threatening pronounced against them? I certainly know of none. Let us see, however, what has been offered in order to meet this difficulty. It has been maintained by some, and is perhaps the common view, that although Adam and Eve did not actually suffer bodily death on that day, yet they then became mortal; they underwent a sudden change in their physical organization, which made them liable to death, and rendered it certain that their bodies would ultimately decay and perish. Death, according to this view, then began to work in them, inasmuch as they then became liable to bodily pains and diseases, which, by the appointment of the Creator, end in corporeal death. Now, satisfactory and consistent as this explanation may have been deemed by many, I trust I shall disturb no one in saying, that it is wholly incapable of support. It is, in fact, a mere supposition, invented, I believe, for the purpose of escaping a difficulty; and a supposition in favour of which there is not a particle of evidence. Especially we cannot accept it, when there are against it these two objections; first, that it assigns to the word "die," a meaning which it never has elsewhere, that of becoming liable to die; and hence, secondly, that it assumes that man was created physically immortal, endowed not only with an immortal soul, but with an equally immortal body; since otherwise his sin could not be spoken of as making him mortal. Let us then examine more particularly this assumption, that man had at the beginning a naturally imperishable body. The most that can be said of it is, that it is a mere human opinion, devoid of any precise and express warrant from the Bible. We believe that they received from their Maker a body which was subject to old age, decay, and death; and that their sin produced in them no immediate change in this respect. They were subject from the beginning to the great law of mortality, and had they always maintained their integrity, would, at the proper time, have passed out of their original corporeal life into some higher state of existence. The mere statement of this view is already some evidence of its correctness; for it corresponds in no way with our conceptions of the high dignity and destination of these first sharers of our nature, to suppose them encumbered forever with the shackles of a coarse material body, appointed always to dwell on the earth, and denied any other knowledge and happiness, than what might come to them in this region and under these physical conditions. The garden of Eden was, at best, but the fit receptacle of their infancy; and after a suitable time passed on earth, a period of existence in the body, it must have been the intention of their Maker to take them up, by translation, if not by death, to a nobler sphere. This view recommends itself to us as intrinsically reasonable. It accords with all our best and most natural conceptions. But we have, in favour of the view, something more than this strong internal recommendation, this conformity with our natural ideas of the high destination of man. The Scriptures themselves lend it their decisive confirmation. They teach us that the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; that He gave him for food every herb bearing seed, and every tree yielding fruit; and that He commanded him to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it. This is an account of man, not as affected by sin, but as he was from the beginning. It is the description of his physical origin, of his sustenance, and of his appointment to exist in a succession of generations, till the world should be filled and subdued by his multiplied descendants. Now, can we fail to see, in all these carefully enumerated circumstances, the sure marks and evidences of a law of individual decay and dissolution? Is it not here clearly implied that our first parents were not exempted from any of the physical wants and changes which belong to men in general? Further evidence that man was created mortal is found in the sentence pronounced on him at the time of his transgression. The substantial import of the curse is: While thy life lasts, thou shalt toil for its support, and have experience of sorrow. The words take for granted that the bodily life was limited; but they do not at all intimate that it then became so; that the sin, just committed and now punished, had limited this life. Far less do we find in them any allusion to a suddenly produced change in the physical constitution, by which this, created immortal, was now rendered mortal. On the whole, these intimations in Genesis (and we know of no conflicting statements in other parts of the Bible) lead us to conclude that the bodily constitution of Adam and Eve was, from the beginning, in every respect essentially like our own. They had just such skin and bones, just such muscles and nerves as we have. They fed on similar food, and would just as surely have hungered and died without it. They were placed in like relations to all natural agents and natural laws. A further support to the view here urged is found in the fact that Christ came on earth in a mortal body. As He was wholly free from sin, and an example of the right condition of our nature morally, so we cannot help viewing Him as exempted from any liability to physical sufferings, which were not common also to our first parents before the Fall. If these were created with a body incapable of pain, want, and death, then they were thus far distinguished above Christ, the Lord from heaven. But this is a highly improbable supposition. We add that it did not belong to the design of Christ to save any from corporeal death. Still His salvation must be commensurate with the evils caused by sin; and we hence infer that a liability to physical death is not among these evils. Our Saviour nowhere teaches us to look upon the death of the body as in itself an evil, and to see in it a proof of our guilt. There is no difficulty in admitting that sin may render the prospect of dissolution and of what lies beyond it sad and fearful, while yet it is true that men would suffer dissolution if they had not sinned. Sin may not have brought in corporeal death, any more than it brought in the destination to a continued and endless life after this death; but yet it may have darkened the view and the contemplation of both, and particularly of the latter. Returning, then, to the question, In what consisted the penalty inflicted on our first parents for sin? we have no hesitation in replying, that it consisted essentially in spiritual death, or in a state of condemnation before God, with such superadded physical sufferings, corporeal death excluded, as are traceable to sin. The penalty of their transgression lay emphatically in that state of mind which is always the appointed result of transgression. Adopting this view, we have no difficulty in giving their full force to all the words in the text: "In the day that thou cutest thereof thou shalt surely die." The execution of the penalty thus corresponds perfectly with the threatening. The very day of the commission of the sin is the day of its righteous visitation. A spiritual punishment alights on the offenders, and enters into their very souls. They fear the presence of their Maker, and hide themselves from Him amidst the trees of the garden. This view saves the Divine veracity. It recommends itself to our sense of what is right and proper. It places the main punishment of the sin in the fit place, in the mind and the conscience of the sinner. It maintains the supremacy of the moral, instead of half sacrificing it to the material. Let us learn from what has been said, to regard, not bodily death, but sin, as the great evil which we have to fear. The death of the body, when not caused, and not hastened by sin, is never in itself an evil; but an uncorrected sinful character is always a fearful evil. The state of an unholy soul is as wrong now as it would be seen to be, if suddenly unclothed, and summoned into the world of spirits. It could carry thither nothing but its character, nothing but itself, as its own life education had made it. Let us then all seek to give a wise direction to our thoughts. Let us recall them from the material to the moral, from the perishable to the imperishable, from the accidental to the essential.

(D. N. Sheldon, D. D.)

1. It was a needful prohibition. To remind man that he is not absolute sovereign, only vicegerent.

2. It was but one prohibition, Man was not burdened, or fretted, or perplexed with many points of this kind. Only one! How gracious! How considerate, as if God sought to make man's trial the least possible, so as to leave him without excuse if he should disobey.

3. It was a simple prohibition. It had nothing intricate or dark about it. There was nothing mysterious about it, nothing in which man could mistake, nothing which could leave room for the question, Am I obeying or not? It was distinct beyond the possibility of mistake.

4. It was a visible prohibition. It was connected with something both visible and tangible. It was not inward, but outward. It was not a thing of faith, but of sight. Everything about it was palpable and open-the tree, the fruit, the place, the threat, the consequences.

5. It was an easy prohibition. Man could not say it was hard to keep. He was only to refrain from eating one fruit. Being a negative, not a positive requirement, it reduced obedience to its lowest form and easiest terms. Hence man's sin was the greater. He was wholly inexcusable.

6. It was enforced by a most solemn penalty. It began with a declaration of God's will, and it ended with the proclamation of the penalty — death. How much this expression includes has been often disputed. There is no need of this. In the day that man ate of the tree he came under condemnation; he became a death-doomed man; the sentence went forth against him. This death brought with it all manner of infinite ills and woes. It brought with it or included in it, condemnation, wrath, misery, separation from God; all endless; all immediate; all irreversible, had not free love come in; had "grace not reigned through righteousness, unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." The sentence was, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." But "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

The Protoplast.
The first word God spake to man was a blessing; the second word was a law. We might have anticipated this. It seems the natural expression of the relationship which exists between the Creator and His creature. The commandment given was a very simple one, "Thou shalt not eat of the tree of knowledge." We are almost involuntarily reminded of the words of Naaman's servant — "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, 'Wash, and be clean'?" Doubtless, in this morning of creation, Adam's soul, filled to overflowing with gladness, was ready to break forth, and say, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?" No thank offering could have seemed too great for God, no tribute of love too costly. The language of his worship could only be, "Of thine own, I give thee." And yet it was a little thing which God asked of man, for" to obey is better than sacrifice." Think, how great, how abounding was the provision for Adam; how narrow the prohibition. It was a small thing that God demanded; but a great ruin was involved in the withholding of obedience. We wonder to see how slight was the thread to which a world's destinies were suspended. Blind fools we are, slow to learn the lesson taught in every page of the Bible, and in every dispensation of personal providence, that there is nothing trivial with God. He makes great matters to turn on imperceptible hinges. We have no spiritual microscope wherewith to read that fine writing of the eternal finger of God upon every grain of ocean sand, and every glittering mote in the sunbeam, telling us of "a purpose under the heaven." Curious men have striven hard to discover what the forbidden tree of knowledge was: they would fain study the physiology of that "fruit, which brought death into our world"; but surely, there was no physical quality in that tree to enlighten the mind; it received its name, because by eating it, in transgression of God's law, man obtained the bitter knowledge of evil as an antagonist of good: the act of feeding upon its fruit taught him that there was misery as well as blessedness, darkness as well as light, evil as well as good. God called the tree according to His foreknowledge; Adam only saw the fitness of the name, when, having eaten, his eyes were opened, and he knew his ruin. There is one thing which calls, I think, for particular attention in the first law. It is, that there was no independent intrinsic evil in the forbidden act; it was evil only because God's law stood against it. If God had spoken of intrinsic evil to Adam (I use the word intrinsic, because I know no better word to express my meaning, evil, per se) he would not have understood that which was said. If God had said, Thou shalt not kill, or Thou shalt not lie, Adam would have been utterly unable to comprehend the words. He had not yet learnt the nature of evil. God took an act that was in itself perfectly innocent, and by forbidding it, He made it sin in Adam. I trust I shall not be mistaken here. I do not say, God made Adam to sin; but I say, God's law prohibiting an action, caused that action to be sinful in His creature. This is, indeed, a great lesson for us, and one which we are very unwilling to learn. God's law is as sovereign as His love. It is not necessary that a thing should be essential evil to meet with His disapprobation; it is enough that His will is against it. Behold, then, the severity of God, and fear before Him. There is no such thing as good by His law condemned. There is no such thing as evil by His law commanded.

(The Protoplast.)

There need not, I think, be any reasonable difficulty in finding out the meaning of these trees. Make the statement historical, or make it parabolical, and it comes much to the same thing. It means that there is a permanent line separating obedience from disobedience; that all created life is limited; and that whoever breaketh through a hedge a serpent shall bite him. These trees were not traps set to catch the man; they were necessities of the case. They showed him where to stop. Wonderful, truly, that if he touched the tree of mystery he should die I Yes, and it is grandly and solemnly true. It is so with life. Let life alone if you would live. Receive it as a mystery, and it will bless you; degrade it, abuse it, and it will slay you in great wrath. It is the same with light. Pluck the sun, and you will be lost in darkness; let the sun alone in his far-off ministry, and you shall never want day and summer. It is the same with music. Open the organ, that you may read its secret, and it will fall into silence; touch it on the appointed keys, and it will never tire in answering your sympathetic appeals. It is so difficult to be satisfied with the little we have and the little we know. We want to see over the hedge. We long to withdraw the screen that is everywhere trembling around us. We torture these little pulses of ours to tell us what they are, and how they were set a-ticking in their warm prisons. No man ever saw his own heart! There it is, knocking in his side, as if it wanted to come out; but if you let it out, it can return to its work no more! It seems to be only the skin that covers the pulse, but, though seemingly so near, it is really so far! "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," said the Almighty. This is not a threat. It is not a defiance or a challenge. It is a revelation; it is a warning! When you tell your child not to touch the fire or it will be burned, you do not threaten the child: you warn it in love, and solely for its own good. Foolish would the child be if it asked why there should be any fire; and foolish are we, with high aggravations, when we ask why God should have set the tree of life and the tree of knowledge in Eden. These trees are in every family. Yes; they are in every family, because they are in every heart! How near is death. One act and we cease to live. This is true, physically, morally, socially: one act — one step between us and death!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Word and Work.
A good man in Berkshire had a cherry orchard. He bethought himself what he could do for the missionary cause, and at length selected two cherry trees, the fruit of which he would devote himself most sacredly to the cause of missions. When his friends occasionally visited him, he allowed them the full range of his orchard. "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat," said he, "but of these two trees ye shall not eat — they belong to God." The fruit was carefully kept separate, was brought to market, and the proceeds remitted to the Church Missionary Society.

(Word and Work.)

Adam, Shoham
Assyria, Cush, Eden, Euphrates River, Tigris River
Certainly, Death, Die, Dying, Eat, Eatest, Eating, Evil, Fruit, Surely, Thereof, Tree
1. The first Sabbath.
4. Further details concerning the manner of creation.
8. The planting of the garden of Eden, and its situation;
15. man is placed in it; and the tree of knowledge forbidden.
18. The animals are named by Adam.
21. The making of woman, and the institution of marriage.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 2:17

     4016   life, human
     5033   knowledge, of good and evil
     5067   suicide
     5281   crucifixion
     5288   dead, the
     5561   suffering, nature of
     6024   sin, effects of
     6026   sin, judgment on
     6139   deadness, spiritual
     6142   decay
     6632   conviction
     8322   perfection, human
     9021   death, natural

Genesis 2:4-23

     4468   horticulture

Genesis 2:8-17

     4526   tree of life

Genesis 2:8-25

     4241   Garden of Eden

Genesis 2:15-17

     4438   eating
     5856   extravagance

Genesis 2:15-24

     5002   human race, and creation

Genesis 2:16-17

     4017   life, animal and plant
     5031   knowledge, of sin

Genesis 2:16-18

     1443   revelation, OT

Third Day. Holiness and Creation.
And God blessed the Sabbath day, and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all the work which God created and made.'--Gen. ii. 3. In Genesis we have the Book of Beginnings. To its first three chapters we are specially indebted for a Divine light shining on the many questions to which human wisdom never could find an answer. In our search after Holiness, we are led thither too. In the whole book of Genesis the word Holy occurs but once. But that once in such a connection as to open
Andrew Murray—Holy in Christ

Of the First Covenant.
Gal. iii. 12.--"The law is not of faith; but the man that doeth them shall live in them."--Gen. ii. 17.--"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." The Lord made all things for himself, to show forth the glory of his name; and man in a more eminent and special manner, for more eminent manifestations of himself; therefore all his dealings towards men, whether righteous or sinful, do declare the glory
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Disciple, -- Sometimes this Question is Asked, "Since God is Fully Aware of Our...
The Disciple,--Sometimes this question is asked, "Since God is fully aware of our needs, and knows how to supply them in the best way, not for the good only but for the evil, how should we pray to Him about them? Whether our necessities be temporal or spiritual, can we by our prayers alter the will of God?" The Master,--1. Those who ask such a question show clearly that they do not know what prayer is. They have not lived a prayerful life, or they would know that prayer to God is not a form of begging.
Sadhu Sundar Singh—At The Master's Feet

The Covenant of Works
Q-12: I proceed to the next question, WHAT SPECIAL ACT OF PROVIDENCE DID GOD EXERCISE TOWARDS MAN IN THE ESTATE WHEREIN HE WAS CREATED? A: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge upon pain of death. For this, consult with Gen 2:16, 17: And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Paradise of God
T. P. Gen. ii. 18; Eph. v. 32 In the Paradise of glory Is the Man Divine; There my heart, O God, is tasting Fellowship with Thine. Called to share Thy joy unmeasured, Now is heaven begun; I rejoice with Thee, O Father, In Thy glorious Son. Where the heart of God is resting, I have found my rest; Christ who found me in the desert, Laid me on His breast. There in deep unhindered fulness Doth my joy flow free-- On through everlasting ages, Lord, beholding Thee. Round me is creation groaning, Death,
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

Forasmuch as Each Man is a Part of the Human Race...
1. Forasmuch as each man is a part of the human race, and human nature is something social, and hath for a great and natural good, the power also of friendship; on this account God willed to create all men out of one, in order that they might be held in their society not only by likeness of kind, but also by bond of kindred. Therefore the first natural bond of human society is man and wife. Nor did God create these each by himself, and join them together as alien by birth: but He created the one
St. Augustine—On the Good of Marriage

Turn Away Thine Eyes from Me, Because they have Made Me to Flee Away; Thy Hair is as a Flock of Goats that Appear from Gilead.
It is impossible to conceive the delicacy of the love of God, and the extremity of purity which He requires of souls that are to be His Brides; the perfection of one state is the imperfection of another. Heretofore the Bridegroom rejoiced infinitely that His Spouse never turned her eyes away from Him; now, He desires her not to look at Him; He tells her that her eyes have made Him to flee away. When once the soul has begun to flow into her God, as a river into its original source, she must be wholly
Madame Guyon—Song of Songs of Solomon

Epistle xiv. To the Count Narses .
To the Count Narses [1642] . Gregory to Narses, &c. Your Charity, being anxious to learn our opinion, has been at the pains of writing to us to ask what we think of the book against the presbyter Athanasius which was sent to us. Having thoroughly perused some parts of it, we find that he has fallen into the dogma of Manichæus. But he who has noted some places as heretical by a mark set against them slips also himself into Pelagian heresy; for he has marked certain places as heretical which
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

Epistle xxxiv. To Eulogius, Bishop.
To Eulogius, Bishop. Gregory to Eulogius, Bishop of Alexandria, and Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch [1717] . The charity wherewith I am greatly bound to you allows me by no means to keep silence, that your Holiness may know all that is going on among us, and, deceived by no false rumours, may keep more perfectly the way of your justice and rectitude, as you have perfectly begun to do. Now the representatives (responsales) of our brother and fellow-bishop Cyriacus came to me, bringing me his synodical
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

The Formation of the Old Testament Canon
[Sidenote: Israel's literature at the beginning of the fourth century before Christ] Could we have studied the scriptures of the Israelitish race about 400 B.C., we should have classified them under four great divisions: (1) The prophetic writings, represented by the combined early Judean, Ephraimite, and late prophetic or Deuteronomic narratives, and their continuation in Samuel and Kings, together with the earlier and exilic prophecies; (2) the legal, represented by the majority of the Old Testament
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Interpretation of the Early Narratives of the Old Testament
[Sidenote: Importance of regarding each story as a unit] Of all the different groups of writings in the Old Testament, undoubtedly the early narratives found in the first seven books present the most perplexing problems. This is primarily due to the fact that they have been subject to a long process of editorial revision by which stories, some very old and others very late and written from a very different point of view, have been closely joined together. While there is a distinct aim and unity
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

Concerning the Condition of Man in the Fall.
Concerning the Condition of Man in the Fall. [182] All Adam's posterity, or mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, as to the first Adam, or earthly man, is fallen, degenerated, and dead; deprived of the sensation or feeling of this inward testimony or seed of God; and is subject unto the power, nature, and seed of the serpent, which he soweth in men's hearts, while they abide in this natural and corrupted estate; from whence it comes, that not only their words and deeds, but all their imaginations, are
Robert Barclay—Theses Theologicae and An Apology for the True Christian Divinity

Though Ye Know Him Not
"I have known cases of young ministers dissuaded from facing the missionary call by those who posed as friends of Foreign Missions, and yet presumed to argue: 'Your spiritual power and intellectual attainments are needed by the Church at home; they would be wasted in the Foreign Field.' 'Spiritual power wasted' in a land like India! Where is it so sorely needed as in a continent where Satan has constructed his strongest fortresses and displayed the choicest masterpieces of his skill? 'Intellectual
Amy Wilson-Carmichael—Things as They Are

Of Creation
Heb. xi. 3.--"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."--Gen. i. 1. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." We are come down from the Lord's purposes and decrees to the execution of them, which is partly in the works of creation and partly in the works of providence. The Lord having resolved upon it to manifest his own glory did in that due and predeterminate time apply his
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit as Revealed in his Names.
At least twenty-five different names are used in the Old and New Testaments in speaking of the Holy Spirit. There is the deepest significance in these names. By the careful study of them, we find a wonderful revelation of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. I. The Spirit. The simplest name by which the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Bible is that which stands at the head of this paragraph--"The Spirit." This name is also used as the basis of other names, so we begin our study with this.
R. A. Torrey—The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

Sin a Power in Reversed Action.
"If ye live after the flesh ye shall die."--Rom. viii. 13. Altho sin is originally and essentially a loss, a lack, and a deprivation, in its working it is a positive evil and a malignant power. This is shown by the apostolic injunction not only to put on the new man, but also to put off the old man with his works. The well-known theologian Maccovius, commenting on this, aptly remarks: "This could not be enjoined if sin were merely a loss of light and life; for a mere lack ceases as soon as it is
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

The Providence of God
Q-11: WHAT ARE GOD'S WORKS OF PROVIDENCE? A: God's works of providence are the acts of his most holy, wise, and powerful government of his creatures, and of their actions. Of the work of God's providence Christ says, My Father worketh hitherto and I work.' John 5:17. God has rested from the works of creation, he does not create any new species of things. He rested from all his works;' Gen 2:2; and therefore it must needs be meant of his works of providence: My Father worketh and I work.' His kingdom
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Millennium in Relation to Creation.
The blessings which will be brought to the world upon the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom will not be confined to the human family but will be extended to all creation. As we have shown in earlier chapters, the Curse which was pronounced by God upon the ground in the day of Adam's fall, and which resulted in a creation that has groaned and travailed ever since, is yet to be revoked. Creation is not to remain in bondage for ever. God has set a hope before it, a hope, which like ours, centers
Arthur W. Pink—The Redeemer's Return

The Unjust Steward - Dives and Lazarus - Jewish Agricultural Notes - Prices of Produce - Writing and Legal Documents - Purple and Fine Linen -
Although widely differing in their object and teaching, the last group of Parables spoken during this part of Christ's Ministry are, at least outwardly, connected by a leading thought. The word by which we would string them together is Righteousness. There are three Parables of the Unrighteous: the Unrighteous Steward, the Unrighteous Owner, and the Unrighteous Dispenser, or Judge. And these are followed by two other Parables of the Self-righteous: Self-righteousness in its Ignorance, and its dangers
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Covenanting Adapted to the Moral Constitution of Man.
The law of God originates in his nature, but the attributes of his creatures are due to his sovereignty. The former is, accordingly, to be viewed as necessarily obligatory on the moral subjects of his government, and the latter--which are all consistent with the holiness of the Divine nature, are to be considered as called into exercise according to his appointment. Hence, also, the law of God is independent of his creatures, though made known on their account; but the operation of their attributes
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Growth of the Old Testament Prophetic Histories
[Sidenote: Analogies between the influences that produced the two Testaments] Very similar influences were at work in producing and shaping both the Old and the New Testaments; only in the history of the older Scriptures still other forces can be distinguished. Moreover, the Old Testament contains a much greater variety of literature. It is also significant that, while some of the New Testament books began to be canonized less than a century after they were written, there is clear evidence that
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

Sovereignty of God in Administration
"The LORD hath prepared His Throne In the heavens; and His Kingdom ruleth over all" (Psa. 103:19). First, a word concerning the need for God to govern the material world. Suppose the opposite for a moment. For the sake of argument, let us say that God created the world, designed and fixed certain laws (which men term "the laws of Nature"), and that He then withdrew, leaving the world to its fortune and the out-working of these laws. In such a case, we should have a world over which there was no intelligent,
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God

Death by Adam, Life by Christ
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. F rom Mr. Handel's acknowledged abilities as a composer, and particularly from what I have heard of his great taste and success in adapting the style of his music to the subject, I judge, that this passage afforded him a fair occasion of displaying his genius and powers. Two ideas, vastly important in themselves, are here represented in the strongest light,
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

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