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THE FIRST BOOK.
CONTAINING THE GENERAL PART.
Of the first Cause of Common Errors ;; the common infirmity of Human
Nature. The first and father cause of common error is the common infirmity of human nature; of whose deceptible condition, although, perhaps, there should not need any other eviction than the frequent errors we shall ourselves commit, even in the express declarement hereof, yet shall we illustrate the sanie from more infallible constitutions, and persons presumed as far from us in condition as time, that is, our first and ingenerated forefathers. From whom, as we derive our being, and the several wounds of constitution, so may we in some manner excuse our infirmities in the depravity of those parts, whose traductions were pure in them, and their originals but once removed from God. Who, notwithstanding, (if posterity may take leave to judge of the fact, as they are assured to suffer in the punishment,) were grossly deceived in their perfætion, and so weakly deluded in the clarity of their understanding, that it hath left no small obscurity in ours, how error should gain upon them.
For first, they were deceived by Satan; and that not in an invisible insinuation, but an open and discoverable apparition, tiat is, in the form of a serpent; whereby, althongh there vere many occasions of suspicion, and such as could not easily escape a weaker circumspection, yet did the unwary apprehension of Eve take no advantage thereof. It hath therefore seemed strange unto some, she should be deluded by a serpent, or subject her reason to a beast, which God had subjected unto hers. It hath empuzzled the enquiries of others to apprehend, and enforced them unto strange conceptions, to make out, how without fear or doubt she could discourse with such a creature, or hear a serpent speak, without suspicion of imposture. The wits of others have been so bold as to accuse her simplicity, in receiving his temptation so coldly; and, when such specious effects of the fruit were promised as to make them like gods, not to desire, at least not to wonder, he pursued not that benefit himself. And had it been their own case, would perhaps have replyed, if the taste of this fruit maketh the eaters like gods why remainest thou a beast ? If it maketh us but like gods, we are so already. If thereby our eyes shall be opened
hereafter, they are at present quick enough to discover thy deceit; and we desire them no opener to behold our own shame. If to know good and evil ke our advantage, although we have free will unto both, we desire to perform but one. We know 'tis good to obey the commandment of God, but evil if we transgress it.
They were deceived by one another, and in the greatest disadvantage of delusion, that is, the stronger by the weaker: for Eve presented the fruit, and Adam received it from her. Thus the serpent was cunning enough to begin the deceit 'n the weaker: and the weaker of strength sufficient to consunmate the fraud in the stronger. Art and fallacy was used unto her; a naked offer proved sufficient to him; so his superstruction was his ruin, and the fertility of his sleep an issue of death unto him. And although the condition of sex,
and posteriority of creation, might somewhat extenuate the erro of the woman, yet was it very strange and inexcusable in thr man : especially, if, as some affirm, he was the wisest of al men since; or if, as others have conceived, he was not igno rant of the fall of the angels, and had thereby example and punishment to deter him.
They were deceived from themselves, and their own appre hensions; for Eve either mistook or traduced the command. ment of God. “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest
1 how without fear, &c.] See Religio Medici, p. 15, note 9.
freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat: for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely dye." Now Eve upon the question of the serpent, returned the precept in different terms: “ You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest perhaps you dye." In which delivery there were no less than two mistakes, or rather additional mendacities : for the commandment forbad not the touch of the fruit; and positively, said, ye shall surely dye, but she extenuating replied, ne forte moriamini, lest perhaps ye dye. For so in the vulgar translation it runneth, and so it is expressed in the Thargum or paraphrase of Jonathan. And therefore although it be said, and that very truly, that the Devil was a lyer from the beginning, yet was the woman herein the first express beginner, and falsified twice, before the reply of Satan. And therefore also, to speak strictly, the sin of the fruit was not the first offence. They first transgressed the rule of their own reason, and after, the commandment of God.?
They were deceived through the conduct of their senses, and by temptations from the object itself; whereby although their intellectuals had not failed in the theory of truth, yet did the inservient and brutal faculties controll the suggestion of reason: pleasure and profit already overswaying the instructions of honesty, and sensuality perturbing the reasonable commands of virtue. For so it is delivered in the text; that when the woman saw “ that the tree was good for food," and “ that it was pleasant unto the eye,” and “
a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat.” Now hereby it appeareth, that Eve, before the fall, was by the same and beaten way of allurements inveigled, whereby her posterity hath been deluded ever since ; that is, those three delivered by St. John, “ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life:” where indeed they seemed as weakly to fail, as their debilitated posterity, ever after. Whereof, notwithstanding, some in their imperfection have resisted more powerful temptations, and in many moralities condemned the facility of their seductions.
? and after, the commandment of God.] As indeed none can transgress his commandment without first transgressing reason.-Capel Loft.
3 theory.) Theorys, in Greeke signifies, search into the nature of things.— Wr.
Again, they might, for ought we know, be still deceived in the unbelief of their mortality, even after they had eat of the fruit. For, Eve observing no immediate execution of the curse, she delivered the fruit unto Adam; who after the taste thereof, perceiving himself still to live, might yet remain in doubt, whether he had incurred death ; which perhaps he did not indubitably believe, until he was after convicted in the visible example of Abel. For he that would not believe the menace of God at first, it may
be doubted whether, before an ocular example, he believed the curse at last. And therefore they are not without all reason, who have disputed the fact of Cain; that is, although he purposed to do mischief, whether he intended to kill his. brother; or designed that, whereof he had not beheld an example in his own kind. There might be somewhat in its that he would not have done, or desired undone, when he brake forth as desperately, as before he had done uncivilly, my iniquity is greater than can be forgiven me.4
Some niceties I confess there are which extenuate, but many more that aggravate this delusion; which exceeding the bounds of this discourse, and perhaps our satisfaction, we shall at present pass over.
And therefore whether the sin of our first parents were the greatest of any since; whether the transgression of Eve seducing did not exceed that of Adam seduced; or whether the resistibility of his reason did not equivalence the facility of her seduction, we shall refer it to the schoolman. Whether there was not in Eve as great injustice in deceiving her husband, as imprudence in being deceived herself, especially, if fore-tasting the fruit, her eyes were opened before his, and she knew the effect of it, before he tasted of it, we leave it unto the moralist.. Whether the whole relation be not allegorical, that is, whether the temptation of the man by the woman be not the seduction of the rational and higher parts by the inferior
4 “My iniquity, &c.] The authorized version gives the passage thus ; “my punishment is greater than I can bear." Sir Thomas prefers the marginal reading, which he contrasts with the surly question of Cain, in the 9th verse ;—“Am I my brother's keeper ?”—Drs. Clarke and Robertson give the same meaning to the words of the sentence, but the former makes it interrogative :-“Is my sin too great to be forgiven ? "
and feminine faculties ; or whether the tree in the midst of the garden, were not that part in the centre of the body, in which was afterward the appointment of circumcision in males, we leave it unto the thalmudist. Whether there were any policy in the devil to tempt them before the conjunction, or whether the issue, before tentation, might in justice have suffered with those after, we leave it unto the lawyer. Whether Adam foreknew the advent of Christ, or the reparation of his error by his Saviour; how the execution of the curse should have been ordered, if, after Eve had eaten, Adam had yet refused; whether, if they had tasted the tree of life, before that of good and evil, they had yet suffered the curse of mortality; or whether the efficacy of the one had not overpowered the penalty of the other, we leave it unto God. For he alone can truly determine these, and all things else; who, as he hath proposed the world unto our disputation, so hath he reserved many things unto his own resolution; whose determination we cannot hope from flesh, but must with reverence suspend unto that great day, whose justice shall either condemn our curiosities, or resolve our disquisitions.
Lastly, man was not only deceivable in his integrity, but the angels of light in all their clarity. He that said, he would be like the highest, did err, if in some way he conceived not himself so already: but in attempting so high an effect from himself, he misunderstood the nature of God, and held a false apprehension of his own; whereby vainly attempting not only insolencies, but impossibilities, he deceived himself as low as hell. In brief, there is nothing infallible but God, who cannot possibly err. For things are really true, as they correspond unto His conception; and
5 whether the tree, &c.] See the Count de Gabalis, p. 54, Lond. 1714. This is the theory of Hadrian Beverland's celebrated work, De Peccato originali, 1679, 8vo. It may be observed by the way, as a fact not generally known, that many curious papers and MSS. of this singular writer, throwing great light on that period of his life which he passed in England, may be found in the British Museum.-J. C.
6 Man was not only deceivable, &c.] More correctly, not only was man deceivable in his integrity, but the angels of light in all their clarity.
? For things are really true as they correspond, &c.] But not arbitrarily.—They conform to his conception, because they are true ; and he