Genesis 3:1
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field that the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'"
How Sin Came InAlexander MaclarenGenesis 3:1
The TempterW. Roberts Genesis 3:1
A Crafty QuestionH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
A Poisoned HonourW. Adamson.Genesis 3:1-6
A Serpent-Like TrickJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
A Talk About TemptationM. G. Pearse.Genesis 3:1-6
A Three-Fold TemptationH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
A Warning from Eve's FallBp. Babington.Genesis 3:1-6
Adam; Or, Human NatureA. Jukes.Genesis 3:1-6
After God Comes the DevilBp. Babington.Genesis 3:1-6
ApostasyH. Burder, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
But Why Did God Give Adam This LawWatson, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
Consciousness of the FallJ. Caird.Genesis 3:1-6
Consequences of the Fall, So Far as Respects AdamA. H. Strong, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Danger of the EyeAlleine.Genesis 3:1-6
DearthW. Adamson.Genesis 3:1-6
Deceitfulness of SinA. Maclaren, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Eastern Ideas Regarding the SerpentM. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Eve Parleying with the TempterH. Melvill, B. D.Genesis 3:1-6
God not the Author of SinH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
How Could God Justly Permit Satanic TemptationGenesis 3:1-6
Is Death a RealityS. A. Walker, B. A.Genesis 3:1-6
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Lessons from the Fall of ManThe Homiletic ReviewGenesis 3:1-6
Little Sins If not PreventedJ. Spencer.Genesis 3:1-6
Longing for the ForbiddenGenesis 3:1-6
Man FallenT. Guthrie, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Man's Enemy Makes His AppearanceH. Bonar, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Man's Moral ConflictThe Preacher's MonthlyGenesis 3:1-6
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
ObservationsGenesis 3:1-6
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
Original SinGenesis 3:1-6
Original State of ManW. L. Alexander, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Paradise Lost; Or, Man's FallW. S. Smith, B. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Probation, Temptation, and Fall of ManW. L. Alexander, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan Attacks the Weakest PointBp. Babington.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan's Character Shown by the First TemptationJ. McConnell.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan's CommentaryGenesis 3:1-6
Satan's Counter-AssertionDean Alford.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan's QuestionJ. Vaughan, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
Satan's Subtlety in TemptingWatson, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
Satan's TemptationsDean Law.Genesis 3:1-6
Sin and DeathA. P. Foster, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
Sin, a DeceiverGenesis 3:1-6
Stages to RuinHomilistGenesis 3:1-6
Temptation and FallD. N. Sheldon.Genesis 3:1-6
Temptation and Fall of ManJames Parsons, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
Temptation and Fall of ManJ. C. Gray.Genesis 3:1-6
Temptation of the First and of the Second ManDean Burgon.Genesis 3:1-6
Ten Sins in Adam's DisobedienceWatson, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
Tests Designed for the Strengthening of VirtueGenesis 3:1-6
The Allurements of the TemptationL. Bonnet.Genesis 3:1-6
The Devil's BaitBp. Babington.Genesis 3:1-6
The Devil's QuestionsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
The FallJ. Burns, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The FallM. Dods, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The Fall of ManE. Blencowe, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
The Fatal ChoiceThe Homiletic ReviewGenesis 3:1-6
The First Great TemptationJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
The First LieJ. Burns, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The First SinThe ProtoplastGenesis 3:1-6
The First SinJ. Ogle.Genesis 3:1-6
The First SinHomilistGenesis 3:1-6
The Great Danger of not Keeping Close to God's WordJ. Spencer.Genesis 3:1-6
The Husband Tempted Through the WifeWatson, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
The Moral Aspect of the SensesHomilistGenesis 3:1-6
The Nature of the Test to Which Adam's Allegiance was PutR. Wardlaw, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The Peril of CapacityJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The Process of TemptationE. Monro, M. A.Genesis 3:1-6
The SerpentDean Law.Genesis 3:1-6
The Subtlety of the First TemptationR. S. Candlish, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The TemptationR. Wardlaw, D. D.Genesis 3:1-6
The TemptationL. Bonnet.Genesis 3:1-6
The Temptation, the Fall, and the PromiseP. B. Davis.Genesis 3:1-6
The Woman and the SerpentJ. A. Macdonald.Genesis 3:1-6
Treachery of SinW. Adamson.Genesis 3:1-6
Use of the EyeManton, ThomasGenesis 3:1-6
The Moral Chaos Before the Moral RestorationR.A. Redford Genesis 3:1-7


1. Not the mere serpent.

2. A higher power of evil.

3. This higher power a person.

4. The leader of the fallen angels.

II. WHY PERMITTED? Easy to see why moved; why permitted, a mystery. But we may note -

1. That the intercourse of mind with mind is a general law of nature. To exclude the devil, therefore, from gaining access to man might have involved as great a miracle as preventing one mind from influencing another.

2. That the good as well as the evil angels have access to us. Can we estimate their influence, or be sure that Adam's position or the world's would have been better if both had been excluded?

3. That possibly by this sin under temptation we were saved from a worse sin apart from temptation.

4. That God magnifies his grace and vindicates his power against the devil's in raising fallen man above his first place of creature-ship into that of sonship.


1. Because not permitted to assume a higher form - his masterpiece of craft, "an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14), or his masterpiece of power, a mighty prince (Matthew 4:1).

2. Because of all animals the serpent seemed the fittest for his purpose. - W.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field.

1. The tempter of human souls is subtle.

2. Malignant.

3. Courageous.


1. He seeks to hold controversy with human souls, that he may render them impatient of the moral restrictions of life.

2. That he may insidiously awaken within them thoughts derogatory to the character of God.

3. That he may lead them to yield to the lust of the eye.



1. That the human soul soon awakes from the charming vision of temptation. Temptation is a charming vision to the soul. The tree looks gigantic. The fruit looks rich and ripe, and its colour begins to glow more and yet more, then it is plucked and eaten. Then comes the bitter taste. The sad recollection. The moment of despair. To Adam and Eve sin was a new experience. No man is the better for the woeful experience of evil.

2. That the human soul, awakening from the vision of temptation, is conscious of moral nakedness. Sin always brings shame, a shame it deeply feels but cannot hide. How sad the destitution of a soul that has fallen from God.

3. That the human soul awakening from the vision of temptation, conscious of its moral nakedness, seeks to provide a clothing of its own device. Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together to make them aprons. Sin must have a covering. It is often ingenious in making and sewing it together. But its covering is always unworthy and futile. Man cannot of himself clothe his soul. Only the righteousness of Christ can effectually hide his moral nakedness.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

? — We see in this permission not injustice but benevolence.

1. Since Satan fell without external temptation, it is probable that man's trial would have been substantially the same, even though there had been no Satan to tempt him.

2. In this case, however, man's fall would perhaps have been without what now constitutes its single mitigating circumstance. Self-originated sin would have made man himself a Satan.

3. As, in the conflict with temptation, it is an advantage to objectify evil under the image of corruptible flesh, so it is an advantage to meet it as embodied in a personal and seducing spirit.

4. Such temptation has in itself no tendency to lead the soul astray. If the soul be holy, temptation may only confirm it in virtue. Only the evil will, self determined against God, can turn temptation into an occasion of ruin. As the sun's heat has no tendency to wither the plant rooted in deep and moist soil, but only causes it to send down its roots the deeper and to fasten itself the more strongly, so temptation has in itself no tendency to pervert the soul. The same temptation which occasions the ruin of the false disciple stimulates to sturdy growth the virtue of the true Christian. Contrast with the temptation of Adam the temptation of Christ. Adam had everything to plead for God, the garden and its delights, while Christ had everything to plead against Him, the wilderness and its privations. But Adam had confidence in Satan, while Christ had confidence in God; and the result was in the former case defeat, in the latter victory. How could a penalty so great be justly connected with disobedience to so slight a command.To this question we may reply:

1. So slight a command presented the best test of the spirit of obedience.

2. The external command was not arbitrary or insignificant in its substance. It was a concrete presentation to the human will of God's claim to eminent domain or absolute ownership.

3. The sanction attached to the command shows that man was not left ignorant of its meaning or importance.

4. The act of disobedience was therefore the revelation of a will thoroughly corrupted and alienated from God — a will given over to ingratitude, unbelief, ambition, and rebellion. The motive to disobedience was not appetite, but the ambition to be as God. The outward act of eating the forbidden fruit was only the thin edge of the wedge, behind which lay the whole mass — the fundamental determination to isolate self and to seek personal pleasure regardless of God and His law. So the man under conviction for sin commonly clings to some single passion or plan, only half-conscious of the fact that opposition to God in one thing is opposition in all.

1. Death. This death was two fold. It was partly —(1) Physical death, or the separation of the soul from the body. The seeds of death, naturally implanted in man's constitution, began to develop themselves the moment that access to the tree of life was denied him. Man from that moment was a dying creature. But this death was also, and chiefly —(2) Spiritual death, or the separation of the soul from God. In this are included —(a) Negatively, the loss of man's moral likeness to God, or that underlying tendency of his whole nature toward God which constituted his original righteousness.(b) Positively, the depraving of all those powers which, in their united action with reference to moral and religious truth, we call man's moral and religious nature; or, in other words, the blinding of his intellect, the corruption of his affections, and the enslavement of his will. Seeking to be a god, man became a slave; seeking independence, he ceased to be master of himself. In fine, man no longer made God the end of his life, but chose self instead. While he retained the power of self-determination in subordinate things, he lost that freedom which consisted in the power of choosing God as his ultimate aim, and became fettered by a fundamental inclination of his will toward evil. The intuitions of the reason were abnormally obscured, since these intuitions, so far as they are concerned with moral and religious truth, are conditioned upon a right state of the affections; and — as a necessary result of this obscuring of reason — conscience, which, as the moral judiciary of the soul, decides upon the basis of the law given to it by reason, became perverse in its deliverances. Yet this inability to judge or act aright, since it was a moral inability springing ultimately from will, was itself hateful and condemnable.

2. Positive and formal exclusion from God's presence. This included —(1) The cessation of man's former familiar intercourse with God, and the setting up of outward barriers between man and his Maker (cherubim and sacrifice).(2) Banishment from the garden, where God had specially manifested His presence. Eden was perhaps a spot reserved, as Adam's body bad been, to show what a sinless world would be. This positive exclusion from God's presence, with the sorrow and pain which it involved, may have been intended to illustrate to man the nature of that eternal death from which he now needed to seek deliverance.

(A. H. Strong, D. D.)

Observe, in general, its nature and subtlety. —

1. He concealed his true character as the enemy of God. He appears to pay a deference to the Creator, not presuming to insinuate any question about His right to give laws, such laws as seemed good in His sight, to His intelligent creatures. He does not begin to tell of his own fall, and to speak boastfully of his own rebellion. He pretends great regard and friendly wishes for them, and at the same time carefully conceals his enmity against God.

2. He assails Eve, as would appear, when alone; in the absence of Adam. He thus took her at the greatest disadvantage, knowing well that in such a case "two are better than one"; that what was yielded by one might have been resisted by them both.

3. There is a probability, amounting as nearly as possible to certainty, that he assaulted her at a moment when she was near the tree, so that there might be no length of time allowed her for reflection and deliberation.

4. Mark the ingredients included in the temptation itself. There is, first, an insinuation of unkindness of an unnecessary and capricious restriction, put in the form of a question of surprise, as if it were a thing be found difficult to believe, and for which he could imagine no reason. There was, secondly, a direct contradiction of the assurance she gave him of the consequence of eating, as having been intimated to them by Jehovah.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

1. So far as we are capable of judging, it was a thing in itself indifferent, having nothing in it of an intrinsically moral character. Now, in this view of it, it was peculiarly appropriate. It was a test of subjection to the Divine will; a test, simply considered, of obedience to God.

2. It has been remarked that the circumstances in which Adam was, at his creation, were such as to remove him from all temptations to, and, in some instances, from all possibility of, committing those sins which now most frequently abound amongst his posterity; "which is one thought of considerable importance to vindicate the Divine wisdom in that constitution under which he was placed."

3. We further observe that it was specially appropriate in this, that, from the comparatively little and trivial character of the action prohibited, it taught the important lesson that the real guilt of sin lay in its principle, the principle of rebellion against God's will; not in the extent of the mischief done, or of the consequences arising out of it.

4. I might notice also its precision. The language of Dr. Dwight on another part of this subject may be fairly applied here. "It brought the duty which he (Adam) was called to perform up to his view in the most distinct manner possible, and rendered it too intelligible to be mistaken. No room was left for doubt or debate. The object in question was a sensible object, perfectly defined, and perfectly understood." No metaphysical or philosophical discussion was demanded or admitted.

5. A test of this particular kind being once admitted to be suitable, the one actually selected was one which, from its obvious connection with the condition in which our first parents were placed, was, in the highest degree, natural. "Considering they were placed in a garden, what so natural, what so suitable to their situation, as forbidding them to eat of the fruit of a certain tree in that garden?" "The liberal grant of food was the extent of their liberty; this single limitation the test of their obedience."

6. It was, besides, an easy test. It was neither any mighty thing they were to do, nor any mighty indulgence they were to deny themselves, that was made the criterion of their subjection to God.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)


II. SATAN CONTRIVES MISCHIEF, EVEN AGAINST SUCH AS NEVER PROVOKED HIM. Hope not for peace with wicked men, who being Satan's seed, must needs resemble his nature, as our Saviour testifies they do (John 8:44), seeing a good man's peace with them is —

1. Impossible, because of the contrariety between good and evil men every way. As, —(1) In their very disposition a good and wicked man are an abomination one to another (Proverbs 29:27).(2) And are employed in the service of contrary masters, Christ and Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15).(3) They follow, and are guided by contrary rules, the law of sin (as the apostle terms it, Romans 7:23), and the law of righteousness, as God's law is termed (Psalm 119:172).(4) And are carried in all their ways and actions to contrary ends: whence it necessarily follows that they must continually cross one another in all the course of their conversation.


IV. THOUGH SATAN BE THE AUTHOR AND PERSUADER TO EVERY SINFUL MOTION, YET HE LOVES NOT TO BE SEEN IN IT. In casting of evil thoughts into the heart, he makes use of inward and indiscernible suggestions; that though we find the motion in our hearts, yet we cannot discover how they entered into our minds. Thus he stirred up David to number the people (1 Chronicles 21:1), entered into Judas (Luke 22:3), was a lying spirit in the mouth of Zedekiah, though he knew not which way he entered into him (1 Kings 22:23, 24). But oftentimes he makes use of some outward instruments by which he conveys his counsels, sometimes taking on him the shape of unreasonable creatures, as he always doth in dealing with witches and conjurers, and as we see he dealt with Eve in this place, although more usually he makes use of men to beguile men by, as he did in tempting Ahab by Jezebel his wife (1 Kings 21:25), and by his false prophet.

V. SATAN USUALLY MAKES CHOICE OF THOSE INSTRUMENTS WHICH HE FINDS FITTEST FOR THE COMPASSING OF HIS OWN WICKED ENDS. Thus he makes use of the wise and learned to persuade, of men of power and authority to command, and to compel men to evil practices, of beautiful women to allure to lust, of great men to countenance, and of men of strength and power to exercise violence and oppression. And this he doth upon a double reason.

1. That whereas God hath therefore given great abilities to some above others, to enable them the better for His service, that He might have the more honour thereby, Satan, as it were, to despite God the more, turns his own weapons against himself to dishonour him all he can in that wherein he seeks, and out of which he ought to receive his greatest glory.

2. Necessity enforceth him to make the best choice he can of able instruments, because carrying men in sinful courses, he must needs have the help of strong means, the work being difficult in itself, as crossing all God's ways.

VI. CUNNING AND SUBTLE PERSONS ARE DANGEROUS INSTRUMENTS TO DECEIVE AND THEREBY TO DO MISCHIEF. Such a one was Jonadab, to show Amnon the way to defile his own sister (2 Samuel 13). Ahitophel to further Absalom's treason against his own father (2 Samuel 15 and 2 Samuel 16:23). Such were the scribes and Pharisees, our Saviour's enemies, and murderers at last, whom He everywhere taxeth for their pride, covetousness, and subtle dissimulation: with whom we may join Elymas the sorcerer, fall of all subtilty, whom the devil made use of, to turn away the people's hearts from receiving Paul's ministry. But what are those to Satan himself, that sets them all on work, called the old serpent, more subtle, and consequently more dangerously mischievous than all his agents?




1. It yields advantage to temptations (as appears in David's entangling himself with lust after Bath-sheba when he was alone); whence it was, that our Saviour, to give Satan all the advantage that might be, that thereby He might make His victory over him the more glorious, went out to encounter with him in the solitary wilderness.

2. Solitariness gives the greater opportunity to commit sin unespied of men; an advantage upon which Joseph's mistress attempts him to commit adultery with her (Genesis 39:11, 12).

3. It deprives men of help, by advice and counsel to withstand the temptation. So, Ecclesiastes 4:10, 12.

4. Man was ordained for society, and fitted with abilities for that purpose, and as he is most serviceable that way, so he is most safe, as being secured by God's protection in that way and employment, to which the Lord hath assigned him.









1. Betraying an ill mind and affection in him that proposeth them, seeing men that think well and sincerely have no cause to cover their intentions with the darkness of doubtful terms.

2. And being dangerous means to lead men into error, if they be not wisely and heedfully observed.

(J. White, M. A.)

? —

I. It was Adam's fault that he did not keep the law; God gave him a stock of grace to trade with, but he of himself broke.

II. Though God foresaw Adam would transgress, yet that was not a sufficient reason that Adam should have no law given him; for, by the same reason, God should not have given His written word to men, to be a rule of faith and manners, because He foresaw that some would not believe, and others would be profane. Shall not laws be made in the land, because some break them?

III. God, though He foresaw Adam would break the law, He knew how to turn it to a greater good, in sending Christ. The first covenant being broken, He knew how to establish a second, and a better.

( T. Watson.)

I. THE WISDOM OF THE WORLD. Among the maxims of this wisdom are these —

1. That happiness is the end of human existence.

2. That nature is a sufficient source of happiness.

3. That man's chief happiness lies in forbidden objects.

4. That God is what we fancy or desire Him to be.


1. The elements of all sin are here — sensuality, covetousness, ambition.

2. Sin originates in unbelief.

3. It wears a specious appearance of goodness.


1. Transforms its victims into Satanic incarnations.

2. Reveals its own deceptiveness.

3. Covers its victims with confusion.

(J. A. Macdonald.)

Thieves, when they go to rob a house, if they cannot force the doors, or that the wall is so strong that they cannot break through, then they bring little boys along with them, and these they put in at the windows, who are no sooner in, but they unbolt the doors and let in the whole company of thieves. And thus Satan, when by greater sins he cannot tell how to enter the soul, then he puts on and makes way by lesser, which, insensibly having got entrance, set open the doors of the eyes and the doors of the ears, and then comes in the whole rabble: there they take up their quarters, there, like unruly soldiers, they rule, domineer, and do what they list, to the ruin of the soul so possessed.

(J. Spencer.)

It is a thing very well known in the great and populous city of London, that when children, or some of bigger growth newly come out of the country, and so not well acquainted with the streets, are either lost or found straying from their home, there is a sort of lewd, wicked people (commonly called "spirits") that presently fasten upon them, and, by falsehood and fair language, draw them further out of their way, then sell them to foreign plantations, to the great grief of their parents and friends, who, in all likelihood, never afterwards hear what is become of them. Thus it is that, when men and women are found straggling from God their Father, the Church their mother, and refuse to be led by the good guidance of the blessed Spirit — when they keep not to the Law and to the Testimony, nor stick close to the Word of God, which is in itself a lantern to their feet and a light unto their paths — then no marvel if they meet with wicked spirits, seducers and false teachers, that lead them captive at their will, and that, not receiving the truth in the love of the truth, God gives them over to strong delusions, to believe a lie.

(J. Spencer.)

Here is the devil — that apostate spirit — that accursed being — that arch rebel — that daring adversary of God — that merciless foe of man. Eden's serpent truly is the devil. His work declares him. God's Word denounces him.

1. The devil is a real person. This relation is no myth — no dream — no vision — no fable — no allegory. It narrates the real conduct of a real person. Works prove a workman. Acts show an agent. So real performances stamp a real devil. Watch then, and pray. He is always personally near; for he "walketh about seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Bar the portals of your heart. He seeks to make that heart his personal home. He is the "spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2).

2. The devil is a hater of God. Who hates God most? Surely he who most contravenes His will. Of the devil's antecedent rebellion nothing should be said, for nothing can be proved. But here a patent fact evidences his enmity. He aims directly to upset God's plans. He arms himself in the panoply of bold opposition. Thus he schemes; thus he uplifts his arm boldly to fight against God. See, then, how he hates God. Reader, you profess to love God. Where is your evidence? Do you abhor the fiend, who from the beginning has strained his every power to subvert God's kingdom?

3. The devil is a hater of man. Who hates man most? Surely he who most contrives his misery. In Eden there was sweet bliss. Every faculty was the inlet of God. Every thought — full of Him — was only joy. Satan beholds and writhes. What I shall man share the peace which he has lost: and joy in joys, which never can be his again? Such bliss is torture to him. He will not rest till he uproot it. Sad that the sons of men should ]end their ears so gladly to their deadliest foe, and drink so readily this viper's poison! What madness to court the embrace of such an enemy — to admit the sure murderer to our abode — to open the door to the known robber!

4. The devil is most daring. Truly nothing daunts him. His case is hopeless, therefore he is reckless.

5. The devil is consummate in skill. He watches for the fit opportunity; and then applies the fit snare.

6. The devil shrinks not from the blackest sin. His first appearance shows that there is no iniquity so foul, but he will handle it; no depth of evil so profound, but he will fathom it. He commences with trampling down all truth. "Ye shall not surely die." He rises upon earth the meridian orb of crime. He blushes not — nor trembles — nor pauses — nor scruples. His earliest words are the lie of lies. So now he allures each victim to the extremest extremity of evil.

7. The devil has awful power. Weak agents fail. Difficulties baffle them. But he is not baffled. His first victory was hard to win. But he quickly won it. Reader, beware. All his mighty arts plot your destruction.

(Dean Law.)

Now, in respect of this I cannot but believe that we often impose upon ourselves, and cherish a picture which is not consonant with the reality, and foster an illusion which is not a little heightened and strengthened by the strong language commonly used in speaking or writing of man's condition paradise as one of absolute perfection. From such language we are apt to carry away the notion that Adam was a being not only physically complete and perfect, but also a being whose intellectual and moral nature was in its highest degree developed, — a being, in short, to whom nothing needed to be added to render him perfect in all his parts. Along with this, we are apt to fancy that his condition in paradise was one of the most perfect felicity which the human nature is capable of enjoying. Now, that this is an illusive view of man's primitive condition, will, I think, appear from the following considerations:

1. On a mere general survey, and looking at man simply in his physical and intellectual aspect, it must strike one that the highest state of man is not and cannot be that of a naked animal, with nothing to do but to keep a garden, already richly furnished with all that is "pleasant to the eye and good for food." It is inconceivable that with capacities for thought and work, such as man even in the lowest state of civilization is seen to possess, the perfection of his nature and his supreme felicity can have been realized in a state of such simplicity and in a sphere so limited as that which paradise afforded to our first parents.

2. It must also, I think, strike one that if Adam was the perfect being intellectually and morally he is often represented as having been, it is inconceivable that he should have fallen before so slight a temptation, or yielded to so trifling an impulse as that by which he was led to transgress the Divine prohibition.

3. The law of man's nature is that he reaches perfection only by a slow process of growth and gradual development, secured through the due exercise of his faculties. This is inseparable from his constitution as a free intelligent agent. That God could create an intelligent being from the first absolutely perfect, so that he neither needed to become nor could become more complete either intellectually or morally than he was at the moment of his creation, is not to be denied, for with God all things are possible. But such a being would not be like any of those whom God has formed. It was not so that God made man. Man, as he came from the hand of his Maker, was a free, intelligent, self-governing agent, capable of development, and needing experience, trial, and use in order to attain both the proper growth of his physical and mental faculties, and the strengthening, maturing, and perfecting of his moral nature. Of every such being it is in a very important sense true that he is his own maker. From God he receives the faculties and capacities by which he is to be enabled to fulfil the functions of his position; but he must himself use these, and use them wisely and well, if he is really to advance in culture and rise towards the perfection of his being. Now, we have no reason to believe that it was otherwise with our first parents. Their nature was the same as ours, and it is to be presumed that the same law applied to them in this respect as to us. They could reach perfection only by the continuous use of the faculties they possessed. It would seem even that their moral perceptions needed the discipline of evil before it could be fully developed; for it was after they had sinned that God said, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil," i.e., to make moral distinctions, to discern between good and evil (Genesis 3:22). Not that they needed personally to sin in order to attain to this, but that it was only by experience that they could arrive at an apprehension of the distinction between good and evil. And as it was only by experience that their moral nature could be fully matured, so we may safely affirm of their whole nature that it could reach perfection only by the free and intelligent use of those faculties, physical, intellectual, and moral, with which God had endowed them. "Mere animal natures are finished from the first; God took everything that concerned them upon Himself, and left them nothing to do. But it was His will that man should be His fellow worker in the great feat of his own creation, and thereby in the completion of all creation; the Father left the mighty work unfinished, so to speak, until the child should set his seal on it." We must think of man, then, in his first estate, as he came from the hand of his Creator, not as a perfect, fully matured being, but rather as a man-child, — a man with noble capacities, but these as yet undeveloped, and with everything to learn — an innocent, pure, guileless being, with no bias to evil, without any knowledge of evil, with affections tending naturally to good, and with a soul capable of rising to a freedom like that of God, who is of purer eyes than to behold sin, and who cannot be tempted of evil. Adam was placed in paradise as in a school, a training place suited to a beginner, and where the lessons and the discipline were such as his almost infantile condition required.

(W. L. Alexander, D. D.)

1. The probation.(1) This assumed the form of a restriction upon their absolute right to do as they would with the place in which God had placed them.(2) To some it has appeared as if there was something in this arrangement unworthy of the dignity of the parties involved in it, or unbecoming the wisdom and beneficence of Him to whom it is ascribed; and hence doubts have been cast on the historical integrity of this part of the Mosaic narrative.

1. And, first, there are some who seem to stumble at the littleness of the trial to which man was thus exposed, and on which such mighty results were made to depend. If so, they must be prepared to object to one of the most manifest of those laws under which this world is administered; for nothing can be more obvious and certain than that the mightiest and most permanent effects are constantly resulting from the most apparently trivial and transient causes. Or do they object to so feeble a test of man's obedience being imposed? If this be their meaning, it is obvious to reply that so much the more was the arrangement favourable to man, and therefore beneficent and gracious. The more insignificant the self-denial required in order to obedience, the easier the obedience and the more probable the success of the probationer. Never, we may say, was a moral experiment conducted under circumstances more favourable to the subject of it.

2. As others advance this objection, it assumes the shape of a protest against the dishonour which it is alleged is done to God by the representation of Him as a being who would make a condition of spiritual advantage dependent on an external act. A mere physical act as such has no moral character at all; and though it may be the index of a man's moral state or tendencies, it is not, nor ever can be, an adequate test of them. The test to which Adam and Eve were subjected was not so much whether they would eat or not eat this particular fruit, but whether they would respect and obey or neglect and transgress God's prohibition. It was not, therefore, on any mere external act that man's fate depended; it was on such an act as connected with, flowing from, and giving evidence of a particular state of mind. The hinge in Adam's testing turned really not so much on his eating or abstaining from this fruit or that, but on his obeying or transgressing God's commandment. Was such a test unfair to man? Was it unworthy of God?

3. Another form in which the objection to the Mosaic account of the trial of our first parents is presented is that in which stress is laid on the purely positive and apparently arbitrary character of the test by which their obedience was to be tried. This was the only arrangement possible; for how is the virtue of a sinless being to be tested but by means of some positive precept? In such a being moral truth is so perfectly a part of the inner life, that it is only when a positive duty is enjoined that the mind comes to a consciousness of objective law and extrinsic government so as to render obedience. But even supposing a moral test could have been proposed, was it not much more in Adam's favour that his obedience should have been tested by a positive enactment? What God required of him was thus clearly and unmistakably brought before him.

4. Some profound thinkers have started the doubt whether it be possible for a limited intelligence, left to the freedom of its own will, to avoid transgressing the boundaries of duty, and so falling into sin. Without entering at present into so difficult a speculation, we may admit that a limited intelligence is, from the very fact of its limitation, very likely to be exposed to a strong inducement from mere curiosity, not to speak of other motives, to pass beyond the limits within which it may be confined. What lies on the other side of this barrier which I am forbidden to pass? Why am I forbidden to pass it? What will be the result to me if I do pass it? These and such like questionings, working in the mind, are very likely to result in a daring attempt to remove the barrier, or to overleap it, and thereby, if it be a moral barrier, to plunge into sin. Obviously, therefore, the kindest and best arrangement for man in his state of primeval probation was one which should reduce the action of such provocative curiosity to the lowest possible form, which should hem him in by no vague, mystic, uncertain prohibition, but by one perfectly single and intelligible, and which should leave him in no doubt as to the certain misery into which he would bring himself if he suffered any motive to carry him beyond the limits which that prohibition prescribed. Such an arrangement the wisdom and the goodness of God instituted for our first parents in their probationary state; their continuance in happiness was made to depend on their submission to one simple and most intelligible restriction; they had but to refrain from the fruit of one tree, while of all the others they might freely eat; and they knew beforehand what the consequences would be of their violating this restriction.

(W. L. Alexander, D. D.)

1. Almost throughout the East, the serpent was used as an emblem of the evil principle, of the spirit of disobedience and contumacy. A few exceptions only can be discovered. The Phoenicians adored that animal as a beneficent genius; and the Chinese consider it as a symbol of superior wisdom and power, and ascribe to the kings of heaven (tien-hoangs) bodies of serpents. Some other nations fluctuated in their conceptions regarding the serpent. The Egyptians represented the eternal spirit Kneph, the author of all good, under the mythic form of that reptile; they understood the art of taming it, and embalmed it after death; but they applied the same symbol for the god of revenge and punishment (Tithrambo), and for Typhon, the author of all moral and physical evil; and in the Egyptian symbolical alphabet the serpent represents subtlety and cunning, lust and sensual pleasure. In Greek mythology, it is certainly, on the one hand, the attribute of Ceres, of Mercury, and of AEsculapius, in their most beneficent qualities; but it forms, on the other hand, a part of the terrible Furies or Eumenides: it appears, in the form of Python, as a fearful monster, which the arrows of a god only were able to destroy; and it is the most hideous and most formidable part of the impious giants who despise and blaspheme the power of heaven. The Indians, like the savage tribes of Africa and America, suffer and nourish, indeed, serpents in their temples, and even in their houses; they believe that they bring happiness to the places which they inhabit; they worship them as the symbols of eternity; but they regard them also as evil genii, or as the inimical powers of nature which is gradually depraved by them, as the enemies of the gods, who either tear them to pieces, or tread their venomous head under their all-conquering feet. So contradictory is all animal worship. Its principle is, in some instances, gratitude, and in others fear; but if a noxious animal is very dangerous, the fear may manifest itself in two ways, either by the resolute desire of extirpating the beast, or by the wish of averting the conflict with its superior power: thus the same fear may, on the one hand, cause fierce enmity, and, on the other, submission and worship. Further, the animals may be considered either as the creatures of the powers of nature, or as a production of the Divine will; and those religious systems, therefore, which acknowledge a dualism, either in nature or in the Deity, or which admit the antagonism between God and nature, must almost unavoidably regard the same animals now as objects of horror, and now of veneration. From all these aberrations, Mosaism was preserved by its fundamental principle of the one and indivisible God, in whose hands is nature with all its hosts, and to whose wise and good purposes all creatures are subservient.

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

Yea, hath God said. —


II. IT IS A DANGEROUS THING TO QUESTION OR DEBATE EVIDENT AND KNOWN TRUTHS. Principles in all sciences are exempted from dispute, much more should they be in divinity. Amongst which we may account —

1. The dictates of nature, written by the finger of God in all men's hearts, as, that there is a God (Romans 1:19, 20); that He judgeth the world (Psalm 58:11), and that in righteousness, which is a principle that Jeremy will not dispute (Jeremiah 12:1); and that consequently it shall be well with the good, and ill with the wicked at last (Ecclesiastes 12:13), as being truths, which every man's conscience within his own breast gives testimony unto.

2. Such truths as are delivered by God Himself, either recorded in His Word (as the creation of the world and that great mystery of man's redemption by Jesus Christ, etc.), or made known unto us by any special message from God. And by this assenting unto the truths of God, without questioning or admitting them into debate,(1) We seal unto His truth (John 3:33), and give him the honour of a God, to be believed upon His own testimony; whereas we believe not men upon their word without some further evidence.(2) And by the same means we provide for our safety, who having our minds full of ignorance, and by their corrupt disposition, more inclinable to embrace lies rather than truth, might be endangered by admitting known truth to debate, to be mislead by the mists of human reasonings into error, to the endangering or overthrowing of our faith. These were Eve's gross oversights in entertaining conference with Satan, a person unknown, and that about such a manifest and evident truth.


1. To manifest our zeal for God's honour and for His truth.

2. By it we secure ourselves from a farther assault, which we easily invite when we bear such blasphemies with too much softness of spirit and patience.

3. And harden our own hearts against such wicked suggestions by abhorring the very mention of them.

4. And oftentimes terrify the suggesters themselves, or at least put them to shame.


1. That by entitling God unto, and prefixing His own name before His works of mercy, wherewith men's hearts are most affected, He may be highly advanced above all things, and held out and proclaimed to the world as the fountain of all goodness, when all the good things which we enjoy, and in which we rejoice, are still laid down at His foot.

2. There is an evil disposition in men's hearts to forget God in His mercies (Deuteronomy 32:18; Psalm 106:21), and to ascribe them to themselves (Daniel 4:25).


1. Because they, having their hearts enlarged in the apprehension of them inwardly, cannot but speak as they think of them.

2. It is our duty to advance the Lord by all the means we can, that His name alone may be excellent (Psalm 148:13), and great (Malachi 1:11). Now, nothing advanceth His name more than His mercies, which therefore must be set out as the mercies of God, high, and without comparison.

3. When all is done, and we have made use of all our art and abilities, to set out God's mercies in the largest manner that we can devise, all our words come infinitely short of the full extent of those things which we desire to represent.

4. In the meantime, while we strive to set out things in the fullest measure, we warm our own hearts, and quicken our affections the more, and fill our hearts with the greater admiration of those things which exceed all our expressions.

(J. White, M. A.)

I. SATAN'S TEMPTATIONS BEGIN BY LAYING A DOUBT AT THE ROOT. He does not assert error; he does not contradict truth; but he confounds both. He makes his first entries, not by violent attack, but by secret sapping; he endeavours to confuse and cloud the mind which he is afterwards going to kill.


1. In order to combat them, everyone should have his mind stored and fortified with some of the evidences of the Christian religion. To these he should recur whenever he feels disquieted; he should be able to give "a reason for the hope that is in him," and an answer to that miserable shadow that flits across his mind, "Yea, hath God said?"

2. A man must be careful that his course of life is not one giving advantage to the tempter. He must not be dallying under the shadow of the forbidden tree, lest the tempter meet him and he die.

III. THE FAR END OF SATAN IS TO DIMINISH FROM THE GLORY OF GOD. To mar God's designs he insinuated his wily coil into the garden of Eden; to mar God's designs he met Jesus Christ in the wilderness, on the mountain top, and on the pinnacle of the temple; to mar God's design he is always leading us to take unworthy views of God's nature and God's work.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)



1. The instrument was a serpent.

2. The real agent was Satan.

III. THE TEMPTATION. Literally the tempter says, "Then it is so that God hath said, 'Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden.'" As if so incredible a report could be believed only on the positive assertion of Eve herself. He then insinuates that God had issued this prohibition from other motives than love. He hints at something strange, if not unjust or unkind, on the part of God. Like other trees, Eve perceives that the forbidden one is "good for food and pleasant to the sight." Unlike other trees, she is now informed that it is capable of affording wisdom; that eating from it gives knowledge of good and evil; that while other trees minister to the sense, this ministers also to the reason. Thus all parts of Eve's sensitive nature are wrought upon; her fancy is aroused, curiosity awakened, desire for knowledge excited.

IV. THE SIN. Eve sought knowledge in a way foreign to God's will. He would have her know good by adopting it, and evil by resisting it. By disobedience she came to know good as a forfeited possession, and evil as a purchased bane. She found that unlawful knowledge was dearly bought, and that a stolen likeness to God brought sorrow.

V. THE NATURAL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN. Conscious of their sin, they fancy that their guilty bosoms are open to every eye. But the accuser is in their own breasts. They have opened the door, and the sweet-songed bird of innocence has flown.

VI. THE SENTENCE. In God's dealings with the human pair there was a mingling of justice and mercy. By their sin they had become spiritually dead — had died in the sense in which God declared they should. Their true life — that of holiness — was gone. Existence now was but partial and abnormal. For this altered moral state God made for them a change externally. The world which they and their sinful seed were to inhabit, must be adapted to a race of sinners. Hence God made it, not a place of punishment, but of discipline; the end being to restore to the race their lost holiness. Bodily fatigue, the thorn-infested ground, and the dread of dying (an event which, but for the Fall, would have had no terror), all these were designed as chastisements for man's sins, and at the same time as agencies to reclaim him from it.


(P. B. Davis.)

The passage takes for granted that there was already an enemy in existence. There had been sin before, somewhere, though where is not said. There had been an enemy somewhere; but how he had become so, or where he had hitherto dwelt, or how he had found his way to this world, is not recorded. That he knew about our world, and that he had some connection with it, is evident; though whether as its original possessor, or a stranger coming from far in search of spoil, we cannot discover. All that is implied in the narrative is, that there did exist an enemy — one who hated God, and who now sought to get vent to that hatred by undoing His handiwork. This enemy now makes his appearance. He has not been bound; he has not been prohibited entrance: he gets free scope to work. He shall be bound hereafter, when the times of restitution of all things commence, but not yet. He shall not be permitted to enter the "new earth," but he is allowed to enter and do his work of evil in the first earth.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Thus we learn, even at the outset, that God is not the author of sin. It is the creature that introduces it. God, no doubt, could have hindered it, but for wise ends He allows it. We know also how sin spreads itself. It is always active. It multiplies and propagates itself. Every fallen being becomes a tempter, seeking to ruin others — to drag them down to the same death into which he has himself been driven.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

1. We may consider that the fact is established that man was created with a nature capable of temptation, and placed in the highest possible probation for the discipline of that nature. Our first parents stood as a stately oak upon a plain, beat upon by an impetuous storm, but meeting it with all the vigour and power of original uprightness. The hurricane beneath which they sunk may have been more severe than ours, but the bias of their nature made their probation less difficult. What, then, is that nature in us to which temptation addresses itself?

2. Who is the being that applies that temptation? And what are the instruments and modes of his attacks, and of our self-defence? These are questions of no small moment. Temptation implies the existence of two natures to which adverse powers and influences appeal, and in Holy Scripture these two natures in us are called the "flesh and spirit"; that they exist in more or less activity in every one of us an examination of ourselves will prove. We all know it; but more than this, they are contrary one to the other. It is this very perverseness in our nature which shows more than anything the contradictoriness of sin, and the warfare between the flesh and the spirit.

3. The personality and individuality of the tempter are points which it is most important to establish. That tempter is our constant companion, he has gauged his word to bring his one victim a bound captive to the gate of hell. The only solace, if we may use such a term, to his miserable eternity will be the consciousness that by his side is one who shares forever the intensity of his agony, though not one throb of anguish will be alleviated in himself. It will be something that every throe is but a reflex of the torture of his companion; his delight is in suffering, his sympathy is in woe; he rejoices, if joy can be felt in hell, in iniquity and pain. That tempter, if he loses his one victim, has no other which he can effect, unless he can regain his entrance into the home from which he has been expelled.

4. But I pass on to the next point, the medium through which the tempter acts. That he has power to affect every portion of our being, and to cast the deepest shadow over it, as an evening cloud can obscure the radiance of the setting sun on the marble columns of some eastern temple, there is no doubt. The lustful thought, the disrelish for heaven, the positive dislike for goodness, the deep despondency, are, with a thousand other infirmities and sins, traceable to the connection of the spirit with the body; and in proportion as that body is subjugated by discipline, the power of those sins will be weakened, and when the spirit will be freed from the present corruptible body, it will be wholly liberated. But all this is widely different from the doctrine which would teach that the bodies of men or matter generally are materially and actually wicked. They are instruments, and that is all. We have the same kind of power over them as we have over the staff we lean on, or the glass we use to aid the eyesight. Let us conceive the case of some instrument which has the greatest possible degree of connection with ourselves, and the greatest possible power to influence us, yet over which we have perfect control: such a case will be a very fair analogy for our relation with the body. Our bodies are temples; we may neither worship them nor despise them. They are instruments, as we use them, for good or evil. They are given for the discipline of the soul; for its aid, or for its hindrance. They are its school house, in which it is taught to spell the syllables of heaven. But more, it is manifest that Satan affects the spirit independently of the body. There are dreams when the soul realizes that awful state of separation from its physical condition, and ranges unfettered up and down the universe. Then sometimes Satan pursues it in its flight, and suggests awful thoughts. There are sudden unaccountable bursts of passion; injuries long since forgotten; exciting feelings for vengeance; dislikes for holiness, for good men; unaccountable desires to swear; without a cause to curse; for its own sake to steal, though the next instant the object for which honesty was bartered is thrown unvalued aside to rot and decay; there are strange wanderings when we would pray, in the church, in the chancel, at the altar, the spirit yet wings her flight to every region of the imagined universe, the corners furthest removed from God: all these are influences of Satan. Satan does tempt the spirit independently of the body; for these temptations, many of them, show no trace of physical cause. But that spirit, too, is in our power to bear us heavenward, or to the gate of hell, as we would have it. It may be the wing of the archangel soaring to the gate of paradise, or, it may be as the waxen wing of Icarus bringing us down to destruction. It is as we would have it. Has Satan ever power to tempt body or spirit in such a manner as we have no power to resist? It seems that he has. There are faint foreshadowings of that power in the cases of Pharaoh and Judas. There are cases in the experience of most of us, where the drunkard, after years of resisted conscience, has so entirely become the victim of the tempter, that the resolution formed daily with the bitter weeping of remorse, pales off each evening before the fire of the tempter, until at last, he passes from the hell on earth to the hell of eternity.

5. Satan binds us first with cords of silk; ere long they have become coils of rope; a little while and they are cables, scarcely to be bent; another interval, and the rope has become a chain, and the chain a bar of iron which no human power can resist. He creeps upon us.

6. Another favourite mode of his attack will be, as Jeremy Taylor quaintly illustrates, through the outward circumstances of a man. Adam, says he, so fascinated by the beauty and meekness of his new wife, was easily ensnared by her solicitations, and Satan consequently made use of her as the instrument of the fall of man. Over the stumbling stones of their partial affection for their younger born, even Rebecca and Jacob successively fell; and the same overweening love which the mother bore to her child was inherited and transmitted to its cost to Joseph and Benjamin. To us a favourite scheme, an idolized child, a friend on whom we lean, an honest calling, a noble aim, a brilliant yet well-directed talent, may, each one of them, from at first being planets clear and radiant in our sky, turn into baseless meteors and falling stars. They may be the fire damps of our ruin when they were the guiding stars of our salvation.

7. But I must mention a third mode through which the tempter will affect our spiritual nature independently alike of disposition or circumstance. He often acts, as was suggested above, in a sudden and unaccountable manner, and, as the Arab who kneels at the muezzin on the sand of the desert, over whose crimson sea the setting sun is shedding its ray without a cloud in the sky or an object on the earth, would be startled at the sight of a shadow fleeting over the bosom of the wilderness; so we are often startled by the sudden suggestion of lust, of doubt, of anger, of intense pride, of ruthless bitterness against another, of dislike to God, when within five minutes of the passing shade we thought we were kneeling in the cloudless sunshine of prayer, meditation, or communion. Nothing so shows the actual existence of the tempter as this. Against these unexpected attacks the habit of holiness and prayer can alone be a protection. We cannot tell where the weed will grow in the most highly cultivated garden; at any point may spring couch grass and the nettle; it is only by a state of general cultivation and purity that we can depend on the produce of our soil. The fever, the pestilence, may fall on the best ordered house and the most abstemious body, yet we know cleanliness and temperance are the best preservers. Apply the same rule to your spiritual life. One word of high encouragement and I have done. The eyes that watch us like lamps around our path; the watching eyes of the holy and the just, like starlight gleaming above us; the quiet gaze of the blessed in paradise, beaming like the moon that shines in softness with its borrowed lustre; the hosts of unfallen angels, like the sun that shines in its strength; the eye of Jesus and the Father from the great white throne, watch us daily. The page of man's brief annals teems with instances of suffering, borne to its last throb without a sigh, and all because the world around or the generations to come would smile on or admire the deed. The eyes that gaze on us are more radiant and more holy; they are the eyes of eternity; let us not disappoint them, they watch us. Perhaps but another day and our strife may be ended!

(E. Monro, M. A.)

I invite you to notice how exactly parallel the temptation of the second Adam was to the temptation of the first. This cannot fail to concern us very greatly: for it is a clear intimation, afforded us by the person best qualified to make it, viz., by the devil, of our special liability, through certain avenues of choice, to fall away from God.

1. We are to note that the rebellion of the lower appetites against the powers of reason and the dictates of conscience, must be the prevailing form of human sin: for it was the seductiveness of the fruit of one particular tree which originally moved our first mother to disobey. And this is what the beloved disciple calls "the lust of the flesh."

2. There is the illusion produced in our higher nature when outward things are seen otherwise than in the light of God. Eve was seduced by the prospect of enlarged views, and the promise that her eyes should be opened. And this is that "lust of the eyes" of which the same apostle speaks.

3. There is the spiritual snare of becoming to oneself the highest object, the standard to which all other things are to be referred. Man thus becomes a god to himself, and straightway directs his proceedings by reference to himself instead of to God. And to this, Eve's desires tended when her pride (that special work of the devil) was called forth by the representation "ye shall be as gods." St. John calls this the "pride of life."..."God doth know" (said the tempter) "that in the day ye eat thereof" — here was the first seduction: "your eyes shall be opened" — there was the second: "and ye shall be as gods" — there was the third. Accordingly, it was "when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise," that "she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat." How exactly in our Lord's case Satan addressed himself to the same three instincts, seeking first to inspire sensual distrust; next spiritual presumption; lastly worldly ambition; needs hardly to be pointed out. The order of the last two temptations was however inverted in the case of the second Adam. And why? I presume because the first of the three temptations had been resisted. Accordingly, from the seduction of sensuality the transition is made at once to the seduction of pride, these being the two extremes between which the fallen nature of man oscillates continually. Let us further note, in both cases (in paradise, I mean, and in the wilderness), that the instrument with which the reason is plied is still the same, namely, calumnious insinuation. A misrepresentation of the truth, and that couched in the modest form of an inquiry, was the tempter's device. He at first asserted nothing. He asked, as if for information. He might have known, he did know, the truth...I am much mistaken if something very similar to this is not Satan's method still. "It is most important to observe this first origin of evil. It is in the form of a question. It is not a direct denial of God's truth or faithfulness, but a questioning of it. Because faith in God is the foundation of all good, it is to unsettle the foundation that this attempt is made. The poison is inserted in the way the question is stated. Thus also in dealing with our Divine Lord, Satan begins with a like questioning of what God had just declared. 'If Thou be,' which implies, 'Art Thou then indeed the Son of God?'" And next, he insinuated what he dared not openly to proclaim: for by calumniously imputing to God a base motive for withholding the fruit of the one forbidden tree, he misrepresented God's whole nature. But he did it by insinuation. And here, again, I recognize a favourite device of the enemy of souls in these last days. And then, the point to which his seductive speech tended, was, to make the creature desire to be as God: to be himself the standard, himself supreme, himself as God unto himself. It was a suggestion that the bondage of external law should be thrown aside, and that the conscience should henceforth become a law unto itself. Further — You are invited to note how the mischief began with an attempt to tamper with God's Word. "Yea, hath God said?" But God had not said it! And then you will note that Satan beguiled Eve's understanding by the seductive avenue of an increase of knowledge in prospect...Knowledge — that first appetite of man — and his last!...And is not "knowledge" good then? Yea, surely, most good: for indeed what were life without it? But like every other creature of God, it is good only when it subordinates to God's revealed mind and will. Yet once more, and for the last time, death was the penalty of all; and yet, "Ye shall not surely die," was the promise wherewith Satan sought to silence the fears of our first mother What but that, what but the assurance "Ye shall not surely die," is Satan's cry at this very hour to a willing world?

(Dean Burgon.)

There are in this question two things equally dangerous to the soul of Eve, a fatal doubt of the truth of the Word of God, and a perfidious exaggeration, calculated to insinuate distrust. I say, first, a doubt of the truth of the Word of God. "Hath God said?" Here is an insinuation calculated to sap the foundation of all faith, all obedience, all morality, all established order. Here is the most powerful weapon of the devil and of our own wicked heart; the weapon by which thousands and thousands are smitten and plunged into ruin. Hath God said that the "friendship of the world is enmity against God; and that whosoever will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God"? Hath God said that we must forsake all and follow Him, bearing our cross; that "if we love father or mother, or sister or brother, or house, or lands, more than Him, we are not worthy of Him"? Hath God said that "the whole world lieth in wickedness," that we have within us an evil and corrupt heart, that "the carnal mind in us is not subject to the law of God," that our life is polluted with sin? Hath God said that "He doth not hold the sinner guiltless, that He hateth sin, that the broad road leadeth to destruction"? No, no, God is not so severe; He is too good a Father to punish the weaknesses of His children; beware of taking in the letter, the figurative language of the threatenings of the Bible, or at least, reserve them for the wicked or great criminals. God well knows that we are weak; be honest, repent of your faults, and all will go well. When doubt has thus despoiled the Word of God of its immutable sanctity, weakened the obligation and responsibility of the creature towards the Creator, opened a wide door to passion, which hurries us along and paves the way for temptation; these same truths, which the deadly breath of doubt has not yet been able to destroy, because they contain aid immortal force, are presented to the already wavering soul with an exaggeration which shall soon engender distrust. Hath God said, "Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden"? These delicious fruits which the earth produces, which seem to have been placed before you to spread in your abode abundance, beauty, and well being, shall ye not taste of any of these gifts? Are they only here to excite in you useless desires? Has He whom you adore as your God imposed upon you such hard laws? It is thus in the present day also; they who insinuate doubts of the truths of God's Word, guard against presenting them faithfully and in their true light. They are skilful in disfiguring them, in showing that observance to the laws of God is incompatible with our weakness, that the morality of the gospel is not made for men, and that there would be injustice in chastisement inflicted upon those who do not conform their lives to them. They are skilful in throwing ridicule upon those who let the Bible speak for itself, believe it in its whole extent, and abandon the multitude to range themselves under the banner of obedience to their God. They are skilful in presenting, under a false light, the vital doctrines of the gospel, in showing that they are contrary to reason, and that we must, as soon as possible, apply to them the amendments of human wisdom. They are skilful in persuading those who hear them, that a living and a true faith is a renunciation of reason, that filial submission is bondage, and that to give up the world, its joys, and its vanities, is to throw a veil of gloom and melancholy over the whole life. They would willingly say to the God of the Bible, if they were as sincere as the unprofitable servant in the parable, "I know that thou art an austere master, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed." Now let the temptation present itself; everything in the heart of the unhappy being who has lent an ear to the lying insinuations of the tempter, is prepared for the fatal hour of seduction...and of ruin. Know ye, my brethren, the power of temptation? It is present, it presses the poor heart, in which it finds but too much sympathy: it draws it along by the charm of sin, decked in seducing colours; conscience lifts up its voice; the conflict begins; you resist, for the thunders of God's word against sin echo from afar, and bring trouble into the depths of your soul. But, in the head of the conflict, a doubt arises; Hath God said? Will He be offended at this weakness? Will He care for it? Will He punish? Thus is broken the last restraint imposed upon the impetuosity of the temptation; the barrier of the Word of God is overthrown: you yield...And thus you are delivered over to the torments of remorse; you come forth from a vortex, to taste all the bitterness of that which, a moment before, appeared to you so sweet!

(L. Bonnet.)

In the former chapters we have heard nothing but the Lord said, the Lord said; but now come we to hear the serpent said, and the serpent said. So see we plainly how after the Word of God cometh the word of the devil. It was not so then only, but it hath so continued ever since. When the Lord hath spoken by the mouth of His minister, prophet, apostle, pastor, or teacher, then speaketh Satan by his serpents contrary. They in the Church, these as soon as they be out of the Church, yea, many times even in the Church they will be hissing in their ears that sit next them. If God have spoken to a child by his parents, to a servant by his master, to a man by his friend what is true and good, straight cometh a serpent, one or other, and overthroweth all, leading them captive to a contrary course. What, say these serpents, wilt thou be thus used, will you bear all this? you are now no child, do this and do that, you shall not die, but you shall live and be like gods, knowing good and evil, etc. But as Eve sped by this serpent, so shall you by those, if you avoid them not. Such serpents were those counsellors that made Rehoboam, Solomon's son, do contrary to the advice of the old counsellors, to his great loss. Again, mark here which was first, the word of God or the word of Satan. Dixit Dominus, the Lord said, goeth before Dixit serpens, the serpent said, and so you see truth is elder than falsehood, and God's Word before Satan's lies: that is s rule to know truth by, namely, to look which was first; "Quodcunque primum illud verum, quodcunque posterius illud falsum. Whatsoever was first, that is true, whatsoever was latter that is false, and that is first that was from the beginning, and that was from the beginning, that in the writings of the apostles may find his warrant. Let it not blind you then that such an error hath continued a thousand years, if it be to be proved that a contrary truth is elder far.

(Bp. Babington.)

Satan tempteth the woman as the weaker vessel, and if you have anything wherein you are weaker than in another, beware, for he will first assault you there. It is his manner like a false devil to take his advantage. Happily you are easier drawn to adultery than murder: that then shall please him, he will begin there. So did he with David, and then brought him to murder after. David was weaker to resist the one than the other. Think of your frailties and be godly wise, where the wall is lowest he will enter first.

(Bp. Babington.)

Satan did break over the hedge, where it was weakest; he knew he could more easily insinuate and wind himself into her by a temptation. An expert soldier, when he is to storm or enter a castle, observes warily where there is a breach, or how he may enter with more facility; so did Satan the weaker vessel.

( T. Watson.)

With well-feigned surprise and incredulity he puts the question, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" meaning thereby to insinuate the harshness of the injunction which he pretended hardly to believe. Is it possible that God can have said so? Is it conceivable that He who has just made you, and provided you with such abundance, should grudge you a little fragment of that plenty, and debar you from the garden's choicest fruits; making you lords of creation, yet not allowing you to put forth your lordship; nay, refusing you access to that tree, the fruit of which would enable you rightly to exercise wise dominion? In this his object was to calumniate God; at least, cunningly to suggest an idea which would misrepresent His character to man. He keeps out of sight all that God had done for man, all the proofs of love, so manifold, so vast; he fixes on one thing which seemed inconsistent with this; he brings up this before man in the way most likely to awaken evil thoughts of God. His object is to isolate the one fact, and so to separate it from all God's acts of love as to make it appear an instance of harsh and unreasonable severity. Man had hitherto known the prohibition; but he had put no such construction on it; he had not imagined it capable of being so interpreted. Now Satan brings it up, and sets it out in an aspect likely to suggest such constructions as these: "God is not your friend after all; He but pretends to care for you. He is a hard Master, interfering with your liberty, not. leaving you a free agent, but constraining you, nay, fettering you. He mocks you, making you creation's head, yet setting arbitrary limits to your rule; placing you in a fair garden, yet debarring you from its fruits. He grudges you His gifts, making a show of liberality, while withholding what is really valuable." Thus Satan sought to calumniate God, to malign His character, to represent Him as the enemy, not the friend, of man. If he can succeed in this, then man will begin to entertain hard thoughts of God, then he will become alienated from Him; then he will disobey; and then comes the fall, the ruin, the guilt, the doom, the woe! Man is lost! Hell gets another inmate. The devil gets another companion.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

The woman said unto the serpent. —

We wish on the present occasion to examine with all carefulness the workings of Eve's mind at that critical moment, when the devil, under the form of a serpent, sought to turn her away from her allegiance unto God. This is no mere curious examination; as it might indeed be, had Eve, before she yielded to temptation, been differently constituted from one of ourselves. But there was not this different constitution. A piece of mechanism may have its springs disordered, and its workings deranged, but it is not a different piece of mechanism from what it was whilst every part was in perfect operation. And we may find, as we go on, that the workings of Eve's mind were wonderfully similar to those of our own; so that we may present our common mother as a warning, and derive from her fall instruction of the most practical and personal kind. Now the point of time at which we have to take Eve, is one at which she is evidently beginning to waver. She has allowed herself to be drawn into conversation with the serpent, which it would have been wise in her, especially as her husband was not by, to have utterly declined; and there is a sort of unacknowledged restlessness and uneasiness of feeling, as though God might not be that all-wise and all-gracious Being, which she had hitherto supposed. She has not yet, indeed, proceeded to actual disobedience, but she is certainly giving some entertainment to doubts and suspicions; she has not yet broken God's commandment, but she is looking at that commandment with a disposition to question its goodness, and to depreciate the risk of setting it at nought. There are certain preludes, certain approaches, towards sin, which, even in ourselves, are scarcely to be designated sin, and which must have been still further removed from it in the unfallen Eve. You remember how St. James speaks: "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed; then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin." The apostle, you observe, does not give the name of sin to the first motions. If these motions were duly resisted, as they might be, the man would have been tempted, but he would not have actually sinned. And if so much may be allowed of ourselves, in whom the inclinations and propensities are corrupted and depraved through original sin, much more must it have been true of Eve, when, if not fallen, she was yet tottering from her first estate. She was then still innocent; but there were feelings at work which were fast bringing her to the very edge of the precipice; and it is on the indications of these feelings, that for the sake of warning and example we wish especially to fix your attention.

I. IT WAS A LARGE AND NOBLE GRANT, WHICH THE ALMIGHTY HAD MADE TO MAN OF THE TREES OF THE GARDEN. "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat." It is true, indeed, there was one exception to this permission. Man was not to eat of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"; but of every other tree he might not only eat, he was told to eat "freely," as though God would assure him of their being all unreservedly at his disposal. Now observe, that when Eve comes to recount this generous grant, she leaves out the word "freely," and thus may be said to depreciate its liberality. It is a disposition in all of us to think little of what God gives us to enjoy, and much of what He appoints us to suffer. It may be but one tree which He withholds, and there may be a hundred which He grants; but, alas! the one, because withheld, will seem to multiply into the hundred; the hundred, because granted, to shrink into the one. If He take from us a single blessing, how much more ready are we to complain, as though we had lost all, than to count up what remains, and give Him thanks for the multitude! He may but forbid us a single gratification, and presently we speak as though He had dealt with us in a churlish and stingy way; though, were we to attempt to reckon the evidences of His loving kindness, they are more in number than the hairs of our head. And when we suffer ourselves in any measure to speak or think disparagingly of the mercies of God, it is very evident that we are making way for, if not actually indulging suspicions as to the goodness of God; and it cannot be necessary to prove, that he who allows himself to doubt the Divine goodness, is preparing himself for the breach of any and of every commandment. Learn, then, to be very watchful over this moral symptom. Be very fearful of depreciating your mercies.

II. But we may go further in tracing in Eve the workings of a dissatisfied mind — of a disposition to suspect God of harshness, notwithstanding the multiplied evidences of His goodness. You are next to observe HOW SHE SPEAKS OF THE PROHIBITION WITH REGARD TO "THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL." She left out a most important and significant word in stating God's permission to "eat of the trees of the garden," and thus did much to divest that permission of its generous character; but she put in words when she spoke of the prohibition, and thereby invested it with strictness and severity. You would have argued from her version of the prohibition, that God had altogether closed and shut up the tree, guarding it with the most extreme jealousy and rigour, so that there was no possibility of detecting any of its properties; whereas the restriction was only on examining the fruit in and through that sense, which would make it bring death, and there was the warrant of the Divine word, that to taste would be to die. All that could be learnt — and it was very considerable — from sight and touch and scent, Adam and Eve were at liberty to learn, whilst what the taste could have taught was distinctly revealed; and thus the single prohibition did not so much withhold them from the acquisition of knowledge, as from the endurance of disaster. But now, then, was Eve single in the misrepresenting the prohibition of God? Was she not rather doing what has been done ever since; what is done every day by those, who would excuse themselves from the duties and the obligations of religion? As though He had given them appetites, which were never to be gratified; desires, which were only to be resisted, and yet, all the while, had surrounded them with what those appetites craved, and those desires sought after. Whereas, there is nothing forbidden by the Divine law, but just that indulgence of our appetites and desires, which because excessive and irregular, would from our very constitution, be visited with present disappointment and remorse, and, from the necessary character of a retributive government, with future vengeance and death.

III. It was bad enough to depreciate God's permission, or to exaggerate His prohibition; BUT IT WAS WORSE TO SOFTEN THE THREATS. This showed the workings of unbelief; and there could have been but a step between our common mother and ruin, when she brought herself to look doubtingly on the word of the Lord. And this symptom was more strongly marked than even those which we have already examined. The declaration of God had been, "Thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." But what is Eve's version of this strong and unqualified declaration? "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." "Lest ye die!" This is what she substitutes for — "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." "Lest ye die!" An expression which implies a sort of chance, a contingency, a bare possibility; what might happen, or might not happen; what might happen soon, or might not happen for years. It is thus she puts a denunciation as express, as explicit, as language can furnish, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Alas! now, for Eve. Harbouring the thought that God would not carry His threatenings into execution — and this she must have harboured, ere she could have softened His threatening into "lest ye die," — no marvel that she gave a ready ear to the lie of the serpent, "Ye shall not surely die." She had whispered this lie to herself, before it was uttered by Satan. The devil could do little then, and he can do little now, except as openings are made for him by those upon whom he endeavours to work. It was probably the incipient unbelief manifested by the "Lest ye die" of Eve, which suggested, as the mode of attack, the "Ye shall not surely die" of Satan. The devil may well hope to be believed, as soon as he perceives symptoms of God's being disbelieved. And if we could charge upon numbers in the present day, the imitating Eve in the disparaging God's permission, and the exaggerating God's prohibition, can we have any difficulty in continuing the parallel, now that the thing done is the making light of His threatenings? Why, what fills hell, like the secretly cherished thought, that perhaps, after all, there may be no hell to fill? What is a readier or more frequent engine for the destruction of the soul, than the false idea of the compassion of God, as sure to interfere, either to shorten the duration, or mitigate the intenseness of future punishment, if not altogether to prevent its inflictions? God hath said, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." When men come to give their version of so stern and solemn a denunciation, they put it virtually into some such shape as this: "The soul should not sin lest it die." Christ hath said, "He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Men often practically throw this sweeping and startling affirmation into a much smoother formula: "Believe upon Christ lest ye die." "Lest ye die!" Is this, then, all? Is there any doubt? Is it a contingency? Is it a "maybe"? "Lest ye die!" — when God hath said, "Ye shall surely die!" "Lest ye die!" when God hath said, "The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the people that forget God!" "Lest ye die!" when God hath said, "Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God!" Nay, sirs, ye may give the paragraph a smoother turn, but ye cannot give the punishment a shorter term. Ye may soften away the expression; ye can neither abbreviate nor mitigate the vengeance. "If we believe not," says Paul, "yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)


1. First, because words being ordained to be the means of representing the thoughts of the heart within, it is agreeable to all reason that they should express them in their full proportion, as the glass doth the face.

2. Secondly, because although the understanding be, or at least should, hold the reins of the tongue, yet the affections add the spurs unto it, as indeed they do many times give the measure to our actions themselves, as we run according to our fear, fight according to our anger, and wake according to our hope and desire; and so in many other of our actions.


1. Together with God's name is represented unto us His authority, and withal both His wisdom and goodness, which will be an effectual means to stay and silence all carnal reasonings, which otherwise will very hardly be answered, considering how hard a matter it is for the wisdom of the flesh to submit to the law (Romans 8:7). But against God Himself, who dare dispute with the apostle (Romans 9:20).

2. By the same means we are quickened to obedience with cheerfulness, when we consider that they are the commandments of that God who gave us our being and in whom we subsist, to whom we owe ourselves and all we have, and from whom we expect glory and immortality and eternal life. See David's answer to his scoffing wife (2 Samuel 6:21).

3. Only this looking upon God in all His commandments makes our services duties of obedience when they are performed at the command and in submission to the will of Him whose we are, whereby we acknowledge both His authority and besides His will to be the rule of righteousness. Lastly, it wonderfully stirs us up to watchfulness, diligence, and sincerity in all our carriage, when we behold the presence, majesty, and holiness of Him to whom we perform our duties, serving Him with reverence and fear and with a single heart, as being the God who sees in secret, and whose eyes are purer than to behold evil.


1. For God's honour, that all our obedience may be tendered to Him, both in faith and fear.

2. For our own necessity, whose dead hearts need such effectual means to quicken us.


V. WHOSOEVER WILL NOT BE ENTANGLED BY ALLUREMENTS TO SIN, MUST NOT COME NEAR THEM. We may not stand in the council of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1), nor come near their paths, as Solomon adviseth (Proverbs 4:14); and we are commanded to hate the very garment spotted with the flesh (Jude 1:23). And this we must do —

1. Out of the conscience of the weakness of our corrupt nature, which as easily takes fire by the least allurement to sin as gunpowder doth by any spark that falls into it, or rather of itself draws towards it, as iron doth towards an adamant: now we know that he that will not be burnt must carry no coals in his bosom (Proverbs 6:27).

2. That we may manifest our perfect detestation of evil, which every man that will approve himself to be a lover of God must hate (Psalm 97:10).


(J. White, M. A.)

It is not only a crime that men commit when they do wrong, but it is a blunder. "The game is not worth the candle." The thing that you buy is not worth the price you pay for it. Sin is like a great forest tree that we sometimes see standing up green in its leafy beauty, and spreading a broad shadow over half a field; but when we get round on the other side there is a great dark hollow in the very heart of it, and corruption is at work there. It is like the poison tree in travellers' stories, tempting weary men to rest beneath its thick foliage, and insinuating death into the limbs that relax in the fatal coolness of its shade. It is like the apples of Sodom, fair to look upon, but turning to acrid ashes on the unwary lips. It is like the magician's rod that we read about in old books. There it lies; and if tempted by its glitter or fascinated by the power that it proffers you, you take it in your hand, the thing starts into a serpent, with erect crest and sparkling eyes, and plunges its quick barb into the hand that holds it, and sends poison through all the veins.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Satan turned Eve's eye to the apple; Achan's eye to the wedges of gold; Ahab's eye to Naboth's vineyard; and then what work did he make of them!


The eye, as it is used, will either be a help or a snare; either it will let in the sparks of temptation, or enkindle the fire of true devotion. These are the windows which God hath placed in the top of the building, that man from them may contemplate God's works and take a prospect of heaven, the place of an eternal residence.

( T. Manton, D. D..)

I know not whether all soldiers love the thought of war, but there are many who pant for a campaign. How many an officer of low rank has said, "There is no promotion, no hope of rising, no honours, as if we had to fight. If we could rush to the cannon's mouth, there would be some hope that we might gain promotion in the ranks." Men get few medals to hang upon their breasts who never knew the smell of gunpowder. The brave days, as men call them, of Nelson and Trafalgar have gone by, and we thank God for it; but still we do not expect to see such brave old veterans, the offspring of this age, as those who are still to be found lingering in our hospitals, the relics of our old campaigns. No, brethren, we must have trials if we are to get on. Young men do not become midshipmen altogether through going to the school at Greenwich and climbing the mast on dry land; they must go out to sea. We must go out to sea and really be on deck in the storm; we must have stood side by side with King David; we must have gone down into the pit to slay the lion, or have lifted up the spear against the eight hundred. Conflicts bring experience, and experience brings that growth in grace which is not to be attained by any other means.

So paradise had a tempter in it. Then, one thing is quite certain — get where we may in this world, we cannot get beyond temptation. Do you think that life would have been a great deal better if there had been no possibility of evil? Certainly we might have been made without any will, blindly obeying instinct, an animated machine. Then we should never have fallen. But as certain is it that then we could never have risen. Or we might have been placed in circumstances where the will could never have exerted itself; where no temptation could have met us. Then, again, we could not have fallen; and then, again, we should not have risen. Innocence is not a virtue until it has had temptation and opportunity to sin; then innocence is strengthened by resistance, and exalted by victory into virtue. Everywhere and in everything that is a poor, languid, sickly kind of life, which knows no resistance; a flabby thing, not worthy the name of a man, is he who has never had a chance of overcoming. Temptation overcome is the way, the only way, to the very throne of God. Amongst the brave men of old there was a notion that when one conquered an enemy the strength of the enemy went into the conqueror, and he became so much stronger by every conquest, and thus went on from strength to strength. It is thus that God grows His heroes, by overcoming. Is not this the great law of all success? A young man comes to London for business or for study. He does not expect to get on without any struggle. He knows that if he would succeed he must be watchful, hard working, ready to resist and to overcome. If he is worth his salt he rejoices in real difficulties rightly dealt with; in real hard work to be done. It knits the muscle of his character; it developes in him courage, resoluteness, heroism. Again, there was a serpent in paradise — one. But there are a great many in the wilderness outside — fiery flying serpents! So then all men know the devil on one side or the other. On the resisting side they know him as a tempter only; but on the other side, the yielding side, they know him as infinitely more than that — as the cruel tyrant, the bitterly hard master, Apollyon the Destroyer. Today the saddest people in the world, the hardest worked, who spend most and earn least, who find life an awful weariness, are those who have let the tempter lead them furthest by his promises of pleasure. It is true, there is one serpent in the garden of God — but there are a great many outside. Learn the lesson of his devices. "Now the serpent was more subtle than. any beast of the field." Subtlety is his stock-in-trade. He is a doctor in philosophy, a master in logic; and if he were subtle and skilful at the first, how much more so today, when for six thousand years he has been diligently practising his art and perfecting it? Whenever any course wants a very clever man to defend it, be quite sure that is not the path for you. The way of God is a narrow way, but it is not a crooked way, nor is it a by-path; it is a highway. Trace his subtlety in his methods. He comes to the woman first; perhaps because she is less suspicious; possibly because she was less able to withstand his wiles; probably because he knew the best way to get the man was to get the woman. The tempter finds her near to the tree, looking at it and desiring it; so her eyes and her longing were on the side of the enemy. If we would keep free from the tempter, keep out of the way of temptation. Some do really tempt the tempter to destroy them. The tempter begins by questioning — for he knows how innocently to begin — "So, is it true that God hath said that ye may not eat of every tree of the garden?" "It is written, Thou shalt"; "it is written, Thou shalt not." The absolute surrender of ourselves to God for an utter obedience is our perfect safety. But to loosen the authority of the law is to fall an easy prey to the adversary. It is to come forth from our stronghold and to stand unharmed and helpless, face to face with the old Lion. "I really am quite concerned about you," he seems to say, "to see such gifted and noble creatures as you are kept from your true position and sacred rights?" See how Eve might have reasoned if only she had kept in mind the goodness of God. "What, then, hast thou done for us, sir, since thou art so concerned for our welfare? Where are the tokens and proofs of thine eagerness to serve us? He who said, 'Thou shalt not eat of this tree,' hath made this fair earth and all that is therein. He planted this paradise, and hath given us all things richly to enjoy. Canst thou be more generous, more gracious than He? Against thy single word, behold, He sets ten thousand glorious assurances of His regard. If thou, indeed, wert seeking our good, wouldst thou beget these doubts of Him whom we have found all love, and who hath so perfect a claim upon us?" This completes our safety, when to our utter obedience to His law there is added this abiding confidence in His love.

(M. G. Pearse.)

Speaking of the craving of colonists for dispossessing the Indians of their lands, a modern writer says: "On their way to the Kansas border, they passed over thousands of desirable acres, convenient to markets and schools, which they might have had at low rates and on long credits. But they had a special craving for Indian lands, and lands 'kept out of market'; the simple desire to enter this territory is sufficient to make them think it the fairest portion of the universe."

Martha Browning, a young woman, aged twenty-four, was executed many years ago for murder. The fatal deed was committed to obtain possession of a £5 note; but when the tempting bait was at last really possessed, it proved to be not a note of the Bank of England, but a flash note of the Bank of Elegance!

Ye shall not surely die.

I. THE AUTHOR OF THIS FIRST LIE. Satan. Devil. Deceiver.

II. THE NATURE OF THE LIE UTTERED. Direct falsification of God's threatening.

III. A MOST DARING AND PRESUMPTUOUS LIE. A challenge of the Almighty.


V. A DESTRUCTIVE, MURDEROUS LIE. It slew our first parents: destroyed their innocency — blinded their minds — defiled their consciences — and overspread their souls with leprous defilement and guilt.





(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. THERE ARE MANY THINGS AGAINST WHICH GOD HAS UTTERED HIS VOICE IN EVERY MAN'S HEART; in which, even independently of written revelation, He has not left Himself without witness. He who lives in concealed or open sin knows full well that God hath said he shall surely die. But in the moment of temptation the certainty of ruin is met by a counter assertion of the tempter — "Thou shalt not surely die": "Do the act and cast the consequences to the winds." We have a notable instance of this in the case of the prophet Balaam. Men with the full consciousness that God is against them persist in opposition to Him, till they perish; persuading themselves, from one step to another, that matters shall not turn out so badly as God's words and God's monitor within tell them that they shall.


1. God has declared, "To be carnally minded is death." To be carnally minded is to be of the mind of the children of this world, to view things through a worldly medium, to pass day by day without a thought beyond this world, and as if there wore no life after this life. Of this kind of life God has said that it is death, that those who live it shall surely die — nay, are dying now; and by this is meant that such a life is the immortal spirit's ruin, that it breaks up and scatters and wastes all man's best and highest faculties. "Ye shalt not surely die" is the tempter's fallacy with which he deludes the carnally minded. He persuades them that they can give this life to God's enemy, and yet inherit life eternal.

2. God has said, "He that hath the Son hath life; but he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" — i.e., "If ye have not the Son of God ye shall surely die." How many of us have any persuasion of the reality of this sentence of death? How many have eared enough about it to ascertain what it is to have the Son of God? Whosoever has not by his own personal act taken Christ as his, has not life, and must certainly die eternally: first by the very nature of things, for the desire for God has never been awakened in his heart, the guilt of sin has not been removed from him, nor its power over him broken; and then by solemn declarations of the God of truth — "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, for the wrath of God abideth on him."

III. Mysterious as the history of our fall is, its greatest wonder is this: THAT GOD OUT OF RUIN DROUGHT FORTH FRESH BEAUTY; out of man's defeat, his victory; out of death, life glorious and eternal. Thou shalt surely live is now the Divine proclamation to man's world. "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world."

(Dean Alford.)


1. Tempted the woman.

2. When alone.

3. Concealed himself, and spoke through the serpent.

II. A LIAR. "Ye shall not surely die."

III. A SLANDERER. "God doth know," etc.

IV. A DECEIVER. "Ye shall be as gods," etc.

(J. McConnell.)

Eve was vanquished by three crafty thrusts. Three poisoned arrows gave the deadly wounds. The flesh was seduced to lust — the eyes to long — and pride to covet. The forbidden fruit was exhibited first, as good for food — next, as pleasant to the eyes — then, as desirable to make one wise. Now, just as in the acorn, the monarch of the forest lives; as a small seed contains the planks for mansions, ships, and mighty works — so, in the earliest temptation there lies the embryo of sin's whole progeny.

I. THE FLESH IS MIGHTY TO CORRUPT THE INNER MAN. Its doors are countless. Its casements are seldom closed. Through these there is quick access to the heart. It also is our encompassing mantle. We cannot escape its close embrace. We never move but in its company. There is no time when it is absent. Hence its prodigious power.

II. THE EYE IS ALSO AN INLET OF SOLICITATIONS. Eve warns again. She fixed her eyes upon the fruit, and soon its beauty put forth fearful fascination. The attraction strengthened. Resistance melted, as snow before the sun. The enchanting appearance bewitched. The outward show injected sparks of longing. The fire kindled. The bait was taken. The eye betrayed. From that day he has been diligent to exhibit fascinating scenes, to gild externals with bewitching beauty, and to lead through them into sin's vilest paths.

3. There is another broad road open for temptation's feet. It is the desire to be great — the ambition to be distinguished — the lust of admiration. The Spirit names it, "The pride of life" (1 John 2:16). This net too was first spread in Eden. The devil showed the fruit — and whispered that the taste would enlarge the faculties — give nobler wings to intellect — communicate new stores of knowledge. While she beheld, the poisonous thought took root, the tree is "to be desired to make one wise." But was not her intelligence enough? She knew God. In that knowledge is the joy of joys, and life for evermore.

(Dean Law.)

1. Once yielding to the tempter's charm gives him boldness to greater violence.

2. It is the devil's method to draw souls from doubting of God's truth to deny it.

3. It is a strong delusion of Satan to persuade a sinner that he shall not die.

4. It is the initial property of the tempter to be a lair, to deny what God affirms (ver. 4).

5. It is Satan's wile to deceive by urging God against God; and so make him vain.

6. It is Satan's falsehood to persuade that God either allows man's sin, or envies man's good and comfort.

7. The tempter dealeth in equivocations with double words and senses.

8. The time and cause of misery set by God is made the time and cause of good by Satan. That day's eating shall bring you good.

9. It is a strong temptation on man to persuade inlightning by sinning.

10. In all the light pretended, Satan intends nothing but experience of nakedness and shame.

11. Parity to God in place, not in nature, is a shrewd argument for Satan to tempt with.

12. In such arguments the devil intends to make sinners like himself.

13. Knowledge of all states and things is a powerful engine to draw man to sin (ver. 5).

14. Experience of all evil and miseries is the mark that Satan aims at in it.

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

? —

1. Let us first consult reason. It says, God is good, and as to die would be painful, and to be attended with all the ills of sickness, confinement, abstinence — as it necessarily includes the privation of accustomed pleasures, the abandonment of gay associates — the absence of every eye to admire, and every tongue to praise — it is not reasonable to suppose that He would inflict it whose name is love. He is just — must the righteous be slain with the wicked? Must the infant and the aged perish together? But what is death? Has anyone ever seen or heard it? Can any tell where it is? Till all these difficulties be removed, reason rebels against the assumption that we must all die.

2. It is true, Scripture asserts "It is appointed unto men once to die," and that "Death has passed upon all men," but is it not also said in Scripture, "Ye shall not surely die"? David plainly says in Psalm 118; Psalm 17th verse, "I shall not die," and Habakkuk, giving extension to the opinion and including his brethren, exclaims," We shall not die" (Habakkuk 1:12). In what other sense are we to receive the declaration of St. Paul, "We shall not all sleep"? (1 Corinthians 15:51) and does not God Himself assure us that He has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, much less therefore in the death of the righteous? Now, my friends, I have quoted for you Scripture for Scripture — You may impugn my manner of doing it — you may say I mould and mutilate it for my purpose — that I sacrifice its spirit to its letter, and make the one contradict the other. To this I answer, whatever contrivance my method exhibits, it is not mine — it is in use by thousands and millions of rational beings for the settlement of every question involving the paramount interests of their immortal souls.

3. Passing from Scripture, let us turn to the last test by which I propose to try the validity of my assumption — general observation. Were there such a formidable enemy as death to be encountered by all, it would be but natural to expect to find it the subject of general conversation and the object of universal alarm, its very name filling all faces with dismay, and occupying all heads with devices either to evade or successfully resist it. Can there therefore be such an enemy as death, not only in existence, but continually in our very neighbourhood, and not a whisper regarding it issue from the lips of its assumed victims in their most crowded assemblies, or an apprehension of its approach blanch for an instant the cheek or interrupt the ceaseless smile of the most sensitive among the daughters of mirth, who nightly record their satisfaction with the joys of time, and their scepticism regarding those of eternity? Both reason and precedent reject the supposition. Now, my friends, let us suppose the position established, that death is only an empty name — a bugbear to terrify the ignorant and superstitious; what do you suppose would be its effect on yourselves? Doubtless, you would consider it expedient to erase every serious impression which your mind had received, under the discipline of an imaginative subject of apprehension — to shake off the trammels of a vulgar superstition, and assert the freedom of a more enlightened judgment. How would you proceed? Considering the world now as your inalienable possession — you would rush freely into the intoxication of business, pleasure, or ambition. Self would be your only idol, earth its capacious temple, and every achievable gratification its justly due and most appropriate offering: to ensure the admiration of your fellows would be your highest ambition, and to evade their censure your most anxious solicitude. The All-wise and All-gracious Being who created you and the world you inhabit, who bestowed upon you all the sources of gratification you possessed, and the ability to enjoy them, would naturally be disregarded. Oh, my friends, what an awful picture have I permitted my imagination to draw! Surely it could never be realized, except on the supposition that there was no death — no judgment — no eternity! What if I undertake to convince you that such a supposition must prevail now? But meanwhile the besom of a long-insulted, but long suffering God, is sweeping our land. Wrath has gone out from the Lord, and hundreds are dying in the plague; but where are the evidences of its recognition — of the hand from whence it issues, or the object for which it is sent? Where is the ear, attentive to the lesson of mortality it conveys? — where the fleeing, under the convictions it awakens, for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us? Where the awaking of the soul from its slumber of ignorance and death? You have heard the fiat of Jehovah — "The wages of sin is death." To this Satan replies, addressing the soul, as he did before the body — "You shall not surely die"; and here again he employs reason, Scripture, and experience, to substantiate his assertion.

I. Reason testifies that the God with whom we have to do, is merciful, loving, and just, but when under the dominion of Satan, it exacts as the price of this admission the privilege of representing Him in an attitude of falsehood — as too tenderly alive to the well-being of His creatures, to expend a thought upon what is due to his own Divine attributes — upon the demands of His justice, holiness, and truth. Its solution of a human difficulty is the degradation of Him who dwelleth in light which no man can approach unto.

II. Let us now advert to the mode by which Scripture is made to countenance a practical denial of God's repeated admonition to the wicked — "thou shalt surely die." This, then, is two fold.

1. By taking refuge behind particular characters or occurrences which bear a fancied analogy to ourselves and our actions, in some case under reprehension, and from their acknowledged exemption from Divine censure, feeling satisfied that we establish our own. The character and conduct of Him who was "holy, harmless, undefiled. and separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26), are, strange to say, the most usual refuge of "revellers, banqueters, and such like," from an assumption that He indulged on particular occasions in the society of the worldly and profane — engaging in their festivities and partaking of their cheer.

2. Another and very common mode of arguing the point with Jehovah out of His own Scriptures, is by reminding Him of such examples of his long suffering mercy and forbearance, as they represent to have been admitted by a late repentance to the forgiveness of their accumulated guilt, and thence asserting a claim to similar indulgence to be followed by a similar result.

III. The sect of the Sadducees, as it existed in our Saviour's time, is now fully represented by the generality of professing Christians, in their notions of that spiritual kingdom of which Christ is the head. Still earth and its constitutions, its laws, its maxims, and its incidents, supply to them their only conceivable model of the things which must be hereafter; and, consequently, Satan finds a ready basis for his falsehood, in the apparent discrepancy between the character of God, as revealed in His providences here, and such as it is represented in the Bible. Here His hatred of sin is but faintly delineated, and His vengeance against the sinner by no means strikingly displayed: many who confine their view to the results of conduct here, are ready to exclaim — "The ways of the Lord are not equal," since His chastisements do not seem proportioned to the number or depravity of the offences committed. From this the believers of the tempter often infer, that there is no positive law to "regulate the adjudications of eternal punishment.

(S. A. Walker, B. A.)

The art of this temptation is very much the same as that which still prevails over men in whom there is an evil heart of unbelief, leading them to depart from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). It is by arguments of unbelief that the tempter solicits Eve to sin.

I. Thus, in the first instance, he insinuates his DOUBTS REGARDING THE EQUITY AND GOODNESS OF GOD AS A BENEFACTOR, and the liberality of His gifts — "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (ver. 1). Can it be? Has He really subjected you to so unreasonable a restraint? And the insinuation takes effect. Suspicion begins to rankle in the woman's breast.

II. Then, again, in the second place, the tempter suggests DOUBTS REGARDING THE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUTH OF GOD AS A LAWGIVER:" "Ye shall not surely die." And for this he seems to find the woman already more than half prepared. She has very faintly and inadequately quoted the threat.

III. And, thirdly, he has A PLAUSIBLE REASON TO JUSTIFY DOUBT AND UNBELIEF ON THIS POINT. It cannot be that ye shall be so harshly dealt with, "for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (ver. 5). This, then, was the order of the temptation: First, The goodness of God must be disbelieved; secondly, His justice; and, lastly, His holiness. It begins with a rebellion of the will, or the heart, against the moral attributes of God, as the Governor of His creatures. It ends in blindness of the understanding, or the mind, as to His natural and essential perfections as the infinite and eternal Creator. God ceases to be recognized as good, and just, and holy. Man, at the suggestion of Satan, would himself be as good, as just, as holy as God.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

I. A LITTLE YIELDING TO SATAN IN HIS TEMPTATIONS, INVITES AND ENCOURAGETH HIM TO A STRONGER AND MORE VIOLENT ASSAULT. If a man yield so far as to stand in sinners' counsels, Satan will not leave till he have brought him to walk in sinner's ways, till at last he sit down in the seat of scorners. The first reason hereof may be taken from Satan's diligence and vigilancy, to make the best of, and pursue to the uttermost all advantages (like Benhadad's messengers — 1 Kings 20:23), as waters, where the bank begins to yield, lie upon it with the greater weight, especially if we join with his diligence his malice, which sets him on, and is never satisfied till he have brought men to destruction (1 Peter 5:8). Secondly, it is just with God to punish men's haltings and want of zeal with more dangerous errors and backslidings. Let us then be careful to resist Satan strongly in his first encounters, as we are advised (1 Peter 5:9), with resolute denials. This resolute opposing of sinful motions —

1. Keeps our hearts free from all defilement by sin.

2. Moves God to strengthen us with a greater measure of grace, as did St. Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9).

3. And daunts the devil, and makes him fly from us when he is readily opposed and resisted (James 4:7).


1. Because use and custom makes sin so familiar unto men, that it takes away, first the sense, and then the shame that follows it, which as they feel not in themselves, so they fear it not from others.

2. By this means God brings all evils to light, that the committers of them may be abhorred of all men, and His justice may be the more clearly manifested in their deserved punishment.


1. Seeing Satan is both a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44), so that by his own nature he must needs be opposite to the truth.

2. Besides, it concerns him above all things to contradict fundamental truths, upon which God's honour and man's salvation most depend, both which Satan labours to overthrow with all his power.

3. And lastly, he well understands by experience, the corruption of man's nature, which inclines him to embrace darkness rather than light, to believe lies rather than to love the truth, which gives him great hope of prevailing, even in suggesting the foulest untruths to such favourable hearers.


(J. White, M. A.)

Said a quaint New England preacher: "Beware of Bible commentators who are unwilling to take God's words just as they stand. The first commentator of that sort was the devil in the Garden of Eden. He proposed only a slight change — just the one word 'not' to be inserted — 'Ye shall not surely die.' The amendment was accepted, and the world was lost." Satan is repeating that sort of commentary with every generation of hearers. He insists that God couldn't have meant just what he said. To begin with, Satan induced one foolish woman to accept his exegesis; now he has theological professors who are of his opinion on these points; and there are multitudes of men and women who go on in the ways of sin because they believe Satan's word, and do not believe the Word of God.

A clever serpent, truly, to begin using words in a double sense! That is preeminently a serpent-like trick. Observe how the word "die" is played upon. It is used by the serpent in the sense of dropping down dead, or violently departing out of this world; whereas the meaning, as we all know by bitter experience, is infinitely deeper. We lose our life when we lose our innocence; we are dead when we are guilty; we are in hell when we are in shame. Death does not take a long time to come upon us; it comes in the very day of our sin — "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

A heathen exercised his genius in the formation of a goblet, in the bottom of which he fixed a serpent, whose model he had made. Coiled for the spring, a pair of gleaming eyes in its head, and in its open mouth fangs raised to strike, it lay beneath the ruby wine. As Guthrie says: "Be assured that a serpent lurks at the bottom of guilt's sweetest pleasure."

(W. Adamson.)

Anthony Burgess says that sin is a Delilah, a sweet passion tickling while it stabs. Eve saw that the tree was pleasant to the eye, and from its fragrance likely to be good for food, a delicious morsel. Dr. Cuyler forcibly illustrates this by reference to the Judas tree. The blossoms appear before the leaves, and they are of a brilliant crimson. The flaming beauty of the flowers attracts innumerable insects; and the wandering bee is drawn after it to gather honey. But every bee which alights upon the blossom, imbibes a fatal opiate, and drops dead from among the crimson flowers to the earth. Well may it be said that beneath this tree the earth is strewn with the victims of its fatal fascinations.

(W. Adamson.)

Ye shall be as gods.

I. SATAN IN ALL HIS PROMISES, GIVES MEN NO GROUND TO BUILD UPON, BUT HIS OWN BARE WORD. It is true, that God Himself doth affirm things upon His own Word alone, and justly may, seeing His Word is the standard of truth, and therefore the only ground of faith: but this is a peculiar privilege to Him alone, incommunicable to any creature, not to men who are all liars (Romans 3:4), much less to Satan, who is the father of lies (John 8:44). Indeed Satan sometimes imitates God in this way, and offers also, and makes show, to confirm by experiments what he suggests, as that proud men are happy because they prosper (Malachi 3:15), by which means he prevails much upon wicked men, to harden their hearts (Ecclesiastes 8:11; Jeremiah 44:17-18). Yea, and sometimes shakes the faith of the godly themselves, as he did David's (Psalm 73:2, 3, 13). But therein he plays the notable sophister.

1. In representing wicked men's prosperity so as if it were the reward of their wickedness, whereas, it is either the blessing of God upon their provident care and industry, in managing their affairs according to His own decree (Proverbs 10:4 and Proverbs 14:23), or for the manifesting of His goodness to all (Matthew 5:45), and His justice in their condemnation who abuse His mercies, and provoke Him by their sins, when He doth them good; or for the fatting of them against the day of slaughter (Jeremiah 12:3), and raising them up on high unto eminent places, their casting down into sudden and horrible destruction may be the more observed (Psalm 73:18).

2. He deceives men, by making the world believe that to be their happiness which is indeed their plague, as Solomon had found it in his own experience (Ecclesiastes 5:13).

II. IT IS SATAN'S CUSTOM AND POLICY TO CAST SUSPICIONS OF EVIL ENDS, ON THAT WHICH HE CANNOT BLAME OR DISCREDIT OTHERWISE. In the like manner he hath dealt with the Church of God in all ages, and cloth unto this day. The reasons whereof may be —

1. Because evil intentions are, in true estimation, the greatest of all evils, wherewith men can be charged.

2. Because nothing can be laid unto men's charge (especially where their lives and actions are without offence) with so much advantage, because things that appear not in themselves may with as much probability be affirmed as they can be denied.


1. Those who have false and evil hearts of their own, are apt to suspect that to be in other men which they find in themselves.

2. By casting suspicions upon other men, they hope in some measure to clear themselves, as if they might in all probability be free from those evils which they tax in other men; or at least they hope to gain thus much, that their own evils may seem the less heinous, when other men appear to be little better then they.

IV. DISCONTENT AT OUR PRESENT CONDITION IS A DANGEROUS TEMPTATION OF SATAN. It is indeed directly contrary to God's express direction (1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5), and unto the practice of all godly men (see the apostle's example, Philippians 4:11); and is the daughter of pride and self-love, which makes us think ourselves worthy of much more than we have, and is the parent —

1. Of unthankfulness to God for what we have received, which proceeds from an undervaluing of those blessings which we enjoy.

2. Of unquietness in our hearts, when our desires are not satisfied, as Ahab had no rest in himself, when he could not get Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21:3-4).

3. Of envy at and contention with our neighbours, who possess that which we desire to enjoy, and are consequently looked on by us with an evil eye, as standing in our way to the obtaining of that which we aim at.

4. Of unconscionable dealing, and taking up ways of dishonest gain, that we may purchase that by any means, without which we think ourselves not sufficiently supplied, according to our worth.


1. Ignorance abases a man to the condition of a beast.

2. Ignorance makes a man unuseful and unserviceable every way, in all his undertakings, for only a wise man's eyes are in his head, but a fool walks in darkness (Ecclesiastes 2:14), which we know hinders all manner of employments.

3. Ignorance leaves a man without comfort, for it is the light that is sweet, that is comfortable (Ecclesiastes 11:7), and the light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart (Proverbs 15:30).


VII. IT IS FALSE LIBERALITY TO WITHHOLD THINGS THAT ARE OF TRUE VALUE AND TO BESTOW THAT WHICH IS OF LITTLE WORTH. Let us, upon this ground admire the infinite and incomprehensible love of God unto man, upon whom He hath bestowed His own beloved Son, His choicest jewel, His delight daily (Proverbs 7:30), and that from all eternity.


1. The indignity, both in respect of God, whom we abase below His own creatures (see Jeremiah 2:12-13), and in relation to ourselves, when we stoop to those things, which are either far below us, or at the best but equal to us.

2. The folly, in forsaking the fountain of living waters, and digging cisterns that hold no water, which makes them prove fools in the event (Jeremiah 17:11-13).

3. The danger of provoking God's jealousy, which no man is able to endure.


1. First, because it most easily seizeth upon man's heart, as it is clearly manifested unto any that will take notice of men's ways, and of the scope whereat they aim, not only men that live without God in this present world, or without any form of godliness, whose character is to be lovers of themselves (2 Timothy 3:2), inquiring after nothing else, but who will show them any good (Psalm 4:6), referring all unto themselves with the king of Babylon (Daniel 4:30).

2. Secondly, as this evil disposition easily seizeth upon us, and possesseth us strongly, so is it of all others most injurious.(1) To God, against whom we lift up ourselves, advancing ourselves above Him, in seeking ourselves more than His honour, for which we were created, and preferring our own lusts before His righteous and holy will.(2) To men, whom we must neglect in all offices and services of love, when we seek only ourselves, and our own advantages.(3) But most of all to ourselves, who neglecting both our duty to Him, when we respect ourselves more than His honour, and towards our brethren, must therefore lose all our reward, which is promised only to such as serve God according to His will, and one another through love.


1. First, because by this means he prevails upon men much more easily, as having a help within our own breasts, to let in those temptations wherewith he assails us.

2. And secondly, because such snares, when they have entangled us, hold us of all others most strongly, as indeed love is strong as death (Song of Solomon 8:6).


1. Because we are in such ways most secure, and therefore most easily ensnared.

2. Satan desires most to corrupt our best endeavours, for the greater dishonour to God and religion.

3. Because there be many easy and dangerous errors in circumstances of duty, even where the substance of the action is warrantable in itself.

XII. THE SEARCHING AFTER THE KNOWLEDGE OF UNNECESSARY THINGS, IS ONE OF SATAN'S SNARES, AND UNPROFITABLE TO US. Let us then learn to be wise to sobriety (as the words, Romans 12:3, may not improperly be rendered), contenting ourselves with the knowledge —

1. Of such things as God hath revealed in His Word, which belong to us (Deuteronomy 29:29).

2. Which are most proper and useful to us, as our Saviour intimates in His answer to St. Peter (John 21:21-22).

3. As are profitable to edification both of ourselves and others (see Ephesians 4:29). These the apostle calls wholesome words (1 Timothy 6:3). As for the searching after the knowledge of future events, which God hath sealed up in His own breast, and oppositions of sciences (1 Timothy 6:20), they must needs occasion —

(1)Unprofitable expense of time.

(2)Needless distraction of our thoughts.

(3)The neglect of searching into things more useful and needful for ourselves and others.

(4)And tends to ungodliness; the nourishing of pride, contention, and the like, and are the very baits and snares of Satan.


XIV. THE SPECIAL END THAT SATAN PERSUADES WICKED MEN TO AIM AT IS THAT THEY MAY BE AS GODS. This was not only the high thought of the proud king of Babel (Isaiah 14:13-14), or of antichrist his antitype (2 Thessalonians it. 4), but is the desire of every wicked man, to have or do that which is peculiar to God Himself.

1. To excel alone, and to get themselves a name, that may be admired and spoken of by all men, not only the builders of Babel (Genesis 11:4), and Absalom (2 Samuel 18:18), but generally all proud men, as they are described unto us (Psalm 49:11).

2. To be independent, and to have sufficiency in their own hand, as that fool thought himself to have (Luke 12:19), which is the desire of all covetous persons.

3. To be commanded by none, but to be their own lords (Psalm 12:4), to follow only their own counsel, and be guided by their own wills (Jeremiah 44:16).

4. To give account to none but themselves, with those rebellious Jews, that desire to have the Holy One of Israel cease from them (Isaiah 30:11), and Amaziah, who will not be called to account by the prophet (2 Chronicles 25:16).

5. To refer all to themselves, and to their own glory, with proud Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), and to do well to themselves (Psalm xlix. 18).

XV. IT IS SATAN'S POLICY TO DRAW MEN TO DEPEND UPON THE CREATURE, FOR THAT WHICH ONLY GOD CAN GIVE. Let all that are wise take notice of the least motion of their hearts, that tends that way, abhorring the very least inclination of our affections that way, as a dangerous evil.

1. Dishonourable both to God and ourselves.

2. Uncomfortable, when our hearts cannot be assured of that which we depend upon, as having no firm ground to support our hopes.

3. Unprofitable, when men gain nothing by such a kind of dependence, more than they do by a dream of a great feast, who find themselves empty and hungry when they are awake.

4. Most dangerous, by drawing us from the service of God, to the service of the creature, upon which we have our dependence.


1. By necessity, because man as well as all other creatures, wanting sufficiency in himself for self-subsistence, having now in a sort departed from God, and thereby lost his dependence upon Him, hath nothing else left him but the creature to fly unto for his support.

2. Because God by His just judgment cannot bring upon a man a fitter plague to avenge the dishonour done to Him, by lifting up ourselves against Him, than by abasing us to submit to things below ourselves.



1. Because in the thoughts of our heart natural motions, which are full of error, come first to hand; upon which if we settle our resolutions, we must needs be mistaken, and err dangerously ere we be aware.

2. Because our understanding, being weak in itself, is not able at once to take in, and lay before it all things, upon which a well-grounded judgment should be settled; so that we need some time to search out and lay together all those circumstances and evidences which must guide us in all that we take in hand.


1. Let us be careful to fix our eyes upon the present examples of mercies or judgments upon ourselves or others, especially upon those which are inward and spiritual, laying hold of eternal life, upon the sense of God's present favours, as the Prophet David seems to do (Psalm 73:24), and beholding and trembling at the very face of hell in present judgments.

2. Labour to work those experiments upon our hearts, till they awaken faith by which only those things which are to come are made present (Hebrews 11:1), so that they affect men with joy, as if they were possessed already (1 Peter 1:8), and with like fear on the other side.

3. Let us often recount with ourselves the shortness of this present life. Meditation may and will show a man's life unto him but a span long, and may make a thousand years seem unto him, as God accounts them, but as one day.

(J. White, M. A.)

If we are to credit the annals of the Russian empire, there once existed a noble order of merit, which was greatly coveted by the princes and noblesse. It was, however, conferred only on the peculiar favourites of the Czar, or on the distinguished heroes of the kingdom. But another class shared in its honour in a very questionable form. Those nobles or favourites who either became a burden to the Czar or who stood in his way, received this decoration only to die. The pin point was tipped with poison — and when the order was being fastened on the breast by the imperial messenger, the flesh of the person was "accidentally" pricked. Death ensued, as next morning the individual so highly honoured with imperial favour was found dead in bed from apoplexy. Satan offered to confer a brilliant decoration upon Adam and Eve — "Ye shall be as gods." It was poisoned; the wages of sin is death.

(W. Adamson.)

He telleth her, "they shall be like gods," etc. And it is his continued practice still with hope of higher climbing, to throw down many a man and woman. He will tickle you with honour, with wealth, with friends, and many gay things that you shall get by yielding to him, but whilst you so look to mount aloft to better your state, and to enjoy promises, down shall you fall from heaven to hell, and find a false serpent when it is too late to call again yesterday, that is, to undo what you have done. Our mother Eve whilst she looked to become like God, and her husband with her, she became like the devil, and cast away her husband also; even so shall you if any vain hope, promise, or speech tickle your heart to offend the Lord, and to undo yourself and your friends.

(Bp. Babington.)

She took of the fruit thereof.

Adam, Eve
Animal, Animals, Beast, Crafty, Creature, Eat, Elohim, Field, Fruit, Garden, Indeed, Really, Serpent, Snake, Subtil, Subtile, Subtle, Tree, Truly, Wild, Wiser, Yea
1. The serpent deceives Eve.
6. Both she and Adam transgress the divine command, and fall into sin.
8. God arraigns them.
14. The serpent is cursed.
15. The promised seed.
16. The punishment of mankind.
21. Their first clothing.
22. Their expulsion from paradise.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 3:1

     1670   symbols
     4648   goad
     5568   suffering, causes
     5884   indecision
     5948   shrewdness
     6250   temptation, sources
     8722   doubt, nature of
     8735   evil, origins of

Genesis 3:1-3

     4468   horticulture
     5081   Adam, life of

Genesis 3:1-4

     5355   invitations
     6146   deceit, and God

Genesis 3:1-5

     4121   Satan, enemy of God
     4122   Satan, tempter
     5483   punishment
     5804   charm
     5828   danger
     8715   dishonesty, and God

Genesis 3:1-6

     5020   human nature
     6022   sin, causes of
     6241   seduction
     8131   guidance, results
     8484   spiritual warfare, enemies

Genesis 3:1-7

     4438   eating
     4450   fruit
     5028   knowledge, God source of human
     5052   responsibility, to God
     6155   fall, of Adam and Eve

Genesis 3:1-8

     4241   Garden of Eden

Genesis 3:1-10

     5812   concealment

Genesis 3:1-13

     5031   knowledge, of sin
     5093   Eve
     8279   innocence, examples

Genesis 3:1-15

     4687   snake

Genesis 3:1-16

     5745   women

Genesis 3:1-24

     6023   sin, universality

Eden Lost and Restored
'So He drove out the man: and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.' --GENESIS iii. 24. 'Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.' REVELATION xxii. 14. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning.' Eden was fair, but the heavenly city shall be fairer. The Paradise regained is an advance on the Paradise
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

How Sin came In
'Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know, that
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Ignorance of Evil.
"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil."--Gen. iii. 22. It is plain that the temptation under which man fell in paradise was this, an ambitious curiosity after knowledge which was not allowed him: next came the desire of the eyes and the flesh, but the forbidden tree was called the tree of knowledge; the Tempter promised knowledge; and after the fall Almighty God pronounced, as in the text, that man had gained it. "Behold, the man is become as
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

God Willing that all Men Should be Saved.
"Who will have all Men to be saved,--." In verse first, the apostle directs "prayers and thanksgivings to be made for all men;"--which he declares to "be good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved." Had salvation been provided for only a part of the human race, prayer and thanksgivings could have been, consistently made only for a part. Those for whom no provision was made, would be in like state with persons who have committed the sin unto death, for
Andrew Lee et al—Sermons on Various Important Subjects

Christ the Conqueror of Satan
Is it not remarkable that this great gospel promise should have been delivered so soon after the transgression? As yet no sentence had been pronounced upon either of the two human offenders, but the promise was given under the form of a sentence pronounced upon the serpent Not yet had the woman been condemned to painful travail, or the man to exhausting labour, or even the soil to the curse of thorn and thistle. Truly "mercy rejoiceth against judgment." Before the Lord had said "dust thou art and
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 22: 1876

On the Fall
(Sexagesima Sunday.) GENESIS iii. 12. And the man said, The woman, whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. This morning we read the history of Adam's fall in the first Lesson. Now does this story seem strange to you, my friends? Do you say to yourselves, If I had been in Adam's place, I should never have been so foolish as Adam was? If you do say so, you cannot have looked at the story carefully enough. For if you do look at it carefully, I believe you will find
Charles Kingsley—The Good News of God

The Voice of the Lord God
(Preached also at the Chapel Royal, St. James, Sexagesima Sunday.) GENESIS iii. 8. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. These words would startle us, if we heard them for the first time. I do not know but that they may startle us now, often as we have heard them, if we think seriously over them. That God should appear to mortal man, and speak with mortal man. It is most wonderful. It is utterly unlike anything that we have ever seen, or that any
Charles Kingsley—The Gospel of the Pentateuch

The God of Nature (Preached During a Wet Harvest. )
PSALM cxlvii. 7-9. Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. There is no reason why those who wrote this Psalm, and the one which follows it, should have looked more cheerfully on the world about them than we have a right to do. The country and climate of Judea is not much superior
Charles Kingsley—The Water of Life and Other Sermons

The Protevangelium.
As the mission of Christ was rendered necessary by the fall of man, so the first dark intimation of Him was given immediately after the fall. It is found in the sentence of punishment which was passed upon the tempter. Gen. iii. 14, 15. A correct understanding of it, however, can be obtained only after we have ascertained who the tempter was. It is, in the first place, unquestionable that a real serpent was engaged in the temptation; so that the opinion of those who maintain that the serpent is only
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

His Past Work.
His past work was accomplished by Him when he became incarnate. It was finished when He died on Calvary's cross. We have therefore to consider first of all these fundamentals of our faith. I. The Work of the Son of God is foreshadowed and predicted in the Old Testament Scriptures. II. The incarnation of the Son of God. III. His Work on the cross and what has been accomplished by it. I. Through the Old Testament Scriptures, God announced beforehand the work of His Son. This is a great theme and one
A. C. Gaebelein—The Work Of Christ

Adam's Sin
Q-15: WHAT WAS THE SIN WHEREBY OUR FIRST PARENTS FELL FROM THE ESTATE WHEREIN THEY WERE CREATED? A: That sin was eating the forbidden fruit. 'She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband.' Gen 3:3. Here is implied, 1. That our first parents fell from their estate of innocence. 2. The sin by which they fell, was eating the forbidden fruit. I. Our first parents fell from their glorious state of innocence. God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.' Eccl
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The First Lie.
"Ye shall not surely die."--GENESIS iii. 4. I.--WHO WAS THE FIRST LIAR? The old serpent, the devil, called elsewhere "the father of lies." But he had not always been a liar; he had fallen from a position very eminent, teaching us not to measure our safety by our condition. The higher we are elevated, the more dreadful the fall. Some of the most degraded vagrants were cradled in comfort, and have wandered from homes of splendour. Perhaps the vilest of the vile once were ministers of the Gospel.
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread

Adam. Gen 3:09
John Newton 8,6,8,6 ADAM. Gen 3:9 On man, in his own image made, How much did GOD bestow? The whole creation homage paid, And owned him LORD, below! He dwelt in Eden's garden, stored With sweets for every sense; And there with his descending LORD He walked in confidence. But O! by sin how quickly changed! His honor forfeited, His heart, from God and truth, estranged, His conscience filled with dread! Now from his Maker's voice he flees, Which was before his joy: And thinks to hide, amidst the
John Newton—Olney Hymns

I. (We here behold only shadows, etc., p. 335.) Schleiermacher, [2821] in commenting on Plato's Symposium, remarks: "Even natural birth (i.e., in Plato's system) was nothing but a reproduction of the same eternal form and idea....The whole discussion displays the gradation, not only from that pleasure which arises from the contemplation of personal beauty through that which every larger object, whether single or manifold, may occasion, to that immediate pleasure of which the source is in the Eternal
Methodius—The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, or Concerning Chastity

Man's Responsibility for his Acts.
THE STORY OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN.--Gen. 3. Parallel Readings. Hist. Bible, Vol. I, 37-42. Drummond, Ideal Life, Chaps. on Sin. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eye, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened and they beard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the
Charles Foster Kent—The Making of a Nation

Job's Faith and Expectation
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. C hristianity, that is, the religion of which MESSIAH is the author and object, the foundation, life, and glory, though not altogether as old as creation, is nearly so. It is coeval [contemporary] with the first promise and intimation of mercy given to fallen man. When Adam, by transgression, had violated the order and law of
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

Curiosity a Temptation to Sin.
"Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."--Proverbs iv. 14, 15. The chief cause of the wickedness which is every where seen in the world, and in which, alas! each of us has more or less his share, is our curiosity to have some fellowship with darkness, some experience of sin, to know what the pleasures of sin are like. I believe it is even thought unmanly by many persons (though they may not like to say
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

The Plan for the Coming of Jesus.
God's Darling, Psalms 8:5-8.--the plan for the new man--the Hebrew picture by itself--difference between God's plan and actual events--one purpose through breaking plans--the original plan--a starting point--getting inside. Fastening a Tether inside: the longest way around--the pedigree--the start. First Touches on the Canvas: the first touch, Genesis 3:15.--three groups of prediction--first group: to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3; to Isaac, Genesis 26:1-5; to Jacob, Genesis 28:10-15; through Jacob,
S. D. Gordon—Quiet Talks about Jesus

"And the Life. " How Christ is the Life.
This, as the former, being spoken indefinitely, may be universally taken, as relating both to such as are yet in the state of nature, and to such as are in the state of grace, and so may be considered in reference to both, and ground three points of truth, both in reference to the one, and in reference to the other; to wit, 1. That our case is such as we stand in need of his help, as being the Life. 2. That no other way but by him, can we get that supply of life, which we stand in need of, for he
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

The Fulfilled Prophecies of the Bible Bespeak the Omniscience of Its Author
In Isaiah 41:21-23 we have what is probably the most remarkable challenge to be found in the Bible. "Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen; let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods." This Scripture has both a negative
Arthur W. Pink—The Divine Inspiration of the Bible

On Earthly Things
The earth is man himself; in the gospel: another has fallen into the good earth. The same in a bad part about the sinner: you devour the earth all the days of your life. [Mark 4:18; Genesis 3:14] The dry lands are the flesh of a fruitless man; in Ecclesiastes, to work in a dry land with evil and sorrow. [Ecclesiastes 37:3] The dust is a sinner or the vanity of the flesh; in the psalm: like the dust, which the wind blows about. [Ps. 1:4 Vulgate] The mud is the gluttony of sinners; in the psalm: tear
St. Eucherius of Lyons—The Formulae of St. Eucherius of Lyons

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