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man's transgression, it was to become the means of his attaining the experimental knowledge of evil; thus purchasing to himself a knowledge of good, manifested and illustrated by comparison with its opposite; as a person is then said to understand the nature and value of health, when he has been deprived of it by sickness.

That such was the effect of the transgression is certain : but it is not, perhaps, so certain that this is the right interpretation of the phrase, which is by no means peculiar to this place, but occurs in other parts of the Sacred Writings, where it cannot be taken in the sense assigned. Nay, there are two passages even in the third chapter of Genesis itself, which do not admit of such exposition. The tempter assures the woman, that, on eating the fruit, they should be as gods, “knowing good and evil.” And the Almighty afterwards says,

"Man is become like “one of us, knowing good and evil.” Now the knowledge of good and evil possessed' by the Deity cannot possibly be that produced by the experimental knowledge of evil. Let us examine into the usage of the words elsewhere. In Deuteronomy we read—“Moreover

little "ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your " children, which in that day had no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in thithera.” Here, to know good and evil, is evidently, to know the nature of both, and so to form a judgement upon that knowledge, as to choose the one, and refuse the


a Deut. i. 39.


other. Thus, again, the same sentiment is expressed in the well-known passage of Isaiah, “ Before the “ child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the

goodb.And again, the woman of Tekoah says to David, “ As an angel of God, so is my lord the king " to discern good and bad,” that is, to distinguish, judge, and act accordingly. This last passage is similar to those before cited from Genesis, and must explain them; namely, “ Ye shall be as gods, know

ing good and evil;" and, “ Man is become like “one of us, to know good and evil.” It may be added, that a New Testament writer uses the words in the same sense. For the apostle, speaking of adults in Christianity, as opposed to babes in the faith, styles them such as have their “senses exer“ cised to discern good and evild.'

Such being the plain and acknowledged import of the expression in other parts of Scriptures, why should we suppose it to be different in the instance before us ? Let us rather conclude it to be the

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The question then will be, how could this tree in the garden of Eden confer a knowledge of good and evil? How could it enable man to discern the nature of each? How could it inform him which was to be pursued, and which to be avoided ?

Shall we say, with the Jewish writers, that there was any virtue in the fruit, to clarify the understanding, and so to teach man knowledge? But if so, why was it prohibited ? For the knowledge, which we suppose to be implied in the phrase, is perfective of man's nature; it is true wisdom: and if he really acquired it by tasting the forbidden fruit, he was much benefited by transgression. We must, therefore, determine, that the tree was designed to teach the knowledge of good and evil, or to be productive of true wisdom, not in a physical, but in a moral way. It instructed our first parents to fly from, and avoid, death, and the cause of death, which must have been in some manner denoted by this tree; as they were directed to choose life, and the cause of life, signified to them by the other tree, which bore that appellation.

b Isa. vii. 16.

c 2 Sam. xiy, 17.

d Heb. y. 14.

The prohibition, being calculated for man's trial, was at the same time calculated to give him the information necessary for that purpose. Such is the nature and design of every law. It conveys the knowledge of good and evil, by prohibiting the latter, and consequently enjoining the former. “ law,” says St. Paul, “is the knowledge of sin. I “had not known lust except the law had said, Thou

shalt not coveto.” It is the law, in every case respectively, which gives the knowledge of good and evil. Obedience to it is good, and the reward is life; disobedience is evil, and the penalty death. And the trial of man, thus informed, is, whether he will obey or disobey, in order to the manifestation of the lawgiver's justice, wisdom, power, and glory, by rewarding or punishing him, as he does the one or the other. The difficulty lies here: why an action to appear

"By the

• Romans, vii. 7.

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ance so unimportant and insignificant as that of eating, or forbearing to eat, the fruit of a tree, should have been appointed as the test of his obedience?

To solve this difficulty, let it be considered, that, beside those laws usually termed moral, and supposed to speak their own fitness and propriety, from an obvious view of the nature and constitution of . things, it is not strange nor uncommon for God to try the love and obedience of man by other precepts, styled positive and ceremonial. Such was the order for Abraham to quit his country and kindred, and afterward to offer his son Isaac: upon which l'atter occasion, notwithstanding the proofs before given by him of an obedient spirit, God was pleased to say, " Now I know thou fearest God.” Such were the ritual observances regarding sacrificature, and other particulars observed among the patriarchs, and after

, wards, with additions, republished in form by Moses. Such are the injunctions to abstinence and self-denial, with the institutions of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, among Christians. What hath been thus done under every other dispensation, was done likewise in Paradise.

And as touching the same precepts called positive, even they are not, what they are sometimes deemed to be, arbitrary precepts, given for no other reason, but because it is the will of God to give them. They earry in them a reason, which, though it may not be discoverable unless revealed, is yet nevertheless founded on the state of human nature, its relation to

{ Gen. xxii. 12.

God, and its various wants,' at different times, and in different situations. The observation, indeed, made by an eminent casuists with respect to human laws, holds much stronger with respect to laws divine: “ The obedience of that man is much too delicate, “ who insists upon knowing the reasons of all laws “ before he will obey them. The legislator must be

supposed to have given his sanction from the rea-. “son of the thing; but where we cannot discover the “reason of it, the sanction is to be the only reason “ of our obedience.” This observation, I say, is most certainly a just one. But as a wise God acts not without the highest reason, so a gracious God, in his dispensations to his reasonable creatures, has, in many instances, with his commands, communicated the reasons on which they were founded, and has even condescended to argue with his people, on the justice and rectitude of his proceedings.

Services outward and visible have been enjoined. They have always been enjoined. But then they have always been symbolical of dispositions and actions inward and spiritual. When this is the case, from unimportant and insignificant, they become the most important and significant transactions in the world. An uninformed person, living in the times of persecution under the Heathen emperors, must have been, to the last degree, astonished and confounded, when told, that a Christian was in danger of eternal rejection from the presence of God, if he scattered a handful of incense on the fire; and that

5 Bishop Taylor

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