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it does not appear from any passage of Scripture to have been either a covenant, or of works. No works whatever were required of Adam; a particular act only was forbidden. It was necessary that something should be forbidden or commanded as a test of fidelity, and that an act in its own nature indifferent, in order that man's obedience might be thereby manifested. For since it was the disposition of man to do what was right, as a being naturally good and holy, it was not necessary that he should be bound by the obligation of a covenant to perform that to which he was of himself inclined;1 nor would he have given any proof of obedience by the performance of works to which he was led by a natural impulse, independently of the divine command. Not to mention, that no command, whether proceeding from God or from a magistrate, can properly be called a covenant, even where rewards and punishments are attached to it; but rather an exercise of jurisdiction.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil was not a sacrament, as it is generally called; for a sacrament is a thing to be used, not abstained from: but a pledge, as it were, and memorial of obedience.
It was called the tree of knowledge of the event; for since Adam tasted it, we not but we know good only by means of evil.3
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and evil from only know evil, For it is by evil
Christ came; but he And in his treatise on
covenant of works God did make with all men till did never exact it after Adam.' Works, IX. 399. The Doctrine and Practice of Repentance, Gen. ii. 17. is quoted as the first of the texts to prove 'the old covenant, or the covenant of works.' VIII. 303.
1. Were it merely natural, why was it here ordained more than the rest of moral law to man in his original rectitude, in whose breast all that was natural or moral was engraven without external constitutions and edicts?' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 336.
2 That some of the objects in Eden were of a sacramental nature we can hardly doubt, when we read of the tree of knowledge, and of the tree of life.' Bp. Horne's Sermon on the Garden of Eden. See also his two Sermons on the Tree of Knowledge and of Life. See also Du Bartas. All serv'd the mouth, save two sustain'd the mind, All serv'd for food, save two for seals assign'd.
And a few lines further, of the tree of knowledge,
'Twas a sure pledge, a sacred sign and seal.
Perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil, that is to say, of knowing good by evil.' Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. Prose Works, II. 68.
that virtue is chiefly exercised, and shines with greater bright
The tree of life, in my opinion, ought not to be considered so much a sacrament, as a symbol of eternal life, or rather perhaps the nutriment by which that life is sustained. Gen. iii. 22. " lest he take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." Rev. ii. 7. " to him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life."
Seeing, however, that man was made in the image of God, and had the whole law of nature so implanted and innate in him, that he needed no precept to enforce its observance, it follows, that if he received any additional commands, whether respecting the tree of knowledge, or the institution of marriage, these commands formed no part of the law of nature, which is sufficient of itself to teach whatever is agreeable to right reason, that is to say, whatever is intrinsically good.5 Such commands therefore must have been founded on what is called positive right, whereby God, or any one invested with lawful power, commands or forbids what is in itself neither good nor bad, and what therefore would not have been obligatory on any one, had there been no law to enjoin or prohibit it. With regard to the Sabbath, it is clear that God hallowed it to himself, and dedicated it to rest, in remembrance of the consummation of his work ;' Gen. ii. 2, 3. Exod. xxxi. 17. Whether its institution was ever made known to Adam, or whether any commandment relative to its observance was given previous to the delivery of the law on Mount Sinai, much less whether any such was given before the fall of man, cannot be ascertained, Scripture being silent
the tree of knowledge grew fast by, Knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill. Paradise Lost, IV. 222. Which may have been borrowed from Du Bartas;
He, happy, knew the good by the use of it;
He knew the bad, but not by proof as yet. P. 83.
The church began in innocency, and yet it began with a sacrament, the tree of life-.' Bp. Taylor. Works, I. 149.
5 See the passage quoted from Tetrachordon in the preceding page, note 1.
Now resting, bless'd and hallow'd the sev'nth day,
As resting on that day from all his work. Paradise Lost, VII. 590.
on the subject. The most probable supposition is, that Moses, who seems to have written the book of Genesis much later than the promulgation of the law, inserted this sentence from the fourth commandment, into what appeared a suitable place for it; where an opportunity was afforded for reminding the Israelites, by a natural and easy transition, of the reason assigned by God, many ages after the event itself, for his command with regard to the observance of the Sabbath by the covenanted people. An instance of a similar insertion occurs Exod. xvi. 33, 34. "Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot and put an omer full of manna therein.... so Aaron laid it up ;" which, however, did not take place till long afterwards. The injunction respecting the celebration of the Sabbath in the wilderness, Exod. xvi. a short time previous to the delivery of the law, namely, that no one should go out to gather manna on the seventh morning, because God had said that he would not rain it from heaven on that day, seems rather to have been intended as a preparatory notice, the groundwork, as it were, of a law for the Israelites, to be delivered shortly afterwards in a clearer manner; they having been previously ignorant of the mode of observing the Sabbath. Compare v. 5. with v. 22-30. For the rulers of the congregation, who ought to have been better acquainted than the rest with the commandment of the Sabbath, if any such institution then existed, wondered why the people gathered twice as much on the sixth day, and appealed to Moses; who then, as if announcing something new, proclaimed to them. that the morrow would be the Sabbath. After which, as if he had already related in what manner the Sabbath was for the first time observed, he proceeds, v. 30. "so the people rested on the seventh day."
That the Israelites had not so much as heard of the Sabbath - before this time, seems to be confirmed by several passages of the prophets. Ezek. xx. 10-12. "I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness; and I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgements..... moreover also I gave them my
• Paley advances the same supposition in his examination of the Scripture account of Sabbatical institutions. Moral Philosophy, Book V. Chap. 7.
sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah that sanctify them." Neh. ix. 13, 14." thou camest down also upon mount Sinai and gavest them right judgements.... and madest known unto them thy holy Sabbath, and commandest them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant." This subject, however, will come again under discussion. Book II. Chap. vii.
With regard to marriage, that it was instituted, if not commanded, at the creation, is clear, and that it consisted in the mutual love, society, help, and comfort of the husband and wife, though with a reservation of superior rights to the husband.' Gen. ii. 18. "it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." 1 Cor. xi. 7-9. "for a man.... is the image of the glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man: for the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man; neither was the man created for the
9 See Tetrachordon. 'It might be doubted, &c. . . . . . lost by her means.' Prose Works, III. 324, 325. What an injury is it after wedlock to be contended with in point of house rule who shall be the head. 'I suffer not,' saith St. Paul, the woman to usurp authority over the man.' If the apostle would not suffer it, into what mould is he mortified that can?' Doctrine, &c. of Divorce, III. 247. Was she made thy guide, Superior, or but equal, that to her
Thou didst resign thy manhood, and the place
See also XI. 291, 634-636.
Therefore God's universal law
Nor from that right to part an hour,
Samson Agonistes, 1064.
This is a favourite doctrine with Milton, and the accounts of his domestic life prove that he acted upon it in his intercourse with his family: Johnson has truly remarked, that throughout Paradise Lost, both before and after the fall, the superiority of Adam to Eve is diligently sustained. See p. 681, note 7. Speaking of Boadicea in his history, he considers her bearing authority as the earliest note of barbarism, as if in Britain women were men, and men women.' Book 2. See also his contemptuous mention of the sex, Paradise Lost, X. 888-895. Again,\
For he in vain makes a vaunt of liberty in the senate or in the forum, who languishes under the vilest servitude, to an inferior at home.' Second Defence of the People of England, Prose Works, I. 259.
woman, but the woman for the man." The power of the husband was even increased after the fall. Gen. iii. 16. "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Therefore the word by in the Hebrew signifies both husband and lord. Thus Sarah is represented as calling her husband Abraham lord, 1 Pet. iii. 6. 1 Tim. ii. 12-14. "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence: for Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression."
Marriage, therefore, is a most intimate connection of man with woman, ordained by God, for the purpose either of the procreation of children, or of the relief and solace of life. Hence it is said, Gen. ii. 24. "therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh." This is neither a law nor a commandment, but an effect or natural consequence of that most intimate union which would have existed between them in the perfect state of man; nor is the passage intended to serve any other purpose, than to account for the origin of families.
In the definition which I have given, I have not said, in compliance with the common opinion, of one man with one woman, lest I should by implication charge the holy patriarchs and pillars of our faith, Abraham, and the others who had more than one wife at the same time, with habitual fornication and adultery; and lest I should be forced to exclude from the sanctuary of God as spurious, the holy offspring which sprang from them, yea, the whole of the sons of Israel, for whom the sanctuary itself was made. For it is said, Deut. xxiii. 2. a bastard shall not enter into the congregation of Jehovah, even to his tenth generation." Either therefore polygamy is a true marriage, or all children born in that
1. Certain it is that whereas other nations used a liberty not unnatural, for one man to have many wives, the Britons altogether as licentious, but more absurd and preposterous in their license, had one or many wives in common among ten or twelve husbands.' History of England. Prose Works, Book II. With the exception of this hint, I am not aware of any passage in Milton's printed works which contains a clue to his opinions respecting polygamy. His History was written just before he became Latin Secretary to the Council, about the year 1650; and it is observable that although, according to the above quotation, he appears to have been inclined in favour of the practice, he then admitted its licentiousness.