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tice, and cruelty, But "justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne: mercy and truth shall go before his face.”
I am, my dear friend,
THE DISTRESS AND CONVICTION OF ADAM
AND HIS WIFE.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
The important narrative to which in my last letter I called your attention, after describing the Tempter, the temptation, and its success, proceeds to state the immediate consequences of the apostacy of our first parents. The assertion of the Tempter was verified; “The eyes of them both were opened.” But oh! how different was the discovery they made from that which Eve had been led to expect.* “They saw," or became conscious, “ that they were naked.”
Now in the nature of this discovery, a twofold interpretation is required, as in the other parts of the narrative. The eyes which were opened were the eyes of the mind, and the nakedness which was disclosed to them was a spiritual nakedness. Adam and his wife became, indeed, conscious of shame, in the presence of each other, in consequence of their bodily nakedness,-a consciousness which before their fall
had no existence. Ch. ii. 25. But bodily nakedness could be no cause for that fear in the presence of God, which Adam afterwards confessed to be the reason of his hiding himself among the trees of the Garden.
Our first parents, then, became conscious that they had lost their primitive innocence, and had forfeited the Divine favour and protection. In this metaphorical sense the term nakedness is often employed both in the Old and New Testament. Thus the nakedness ascribed to Israel, after their sin in the affair of the Golden Calf, is properly interpreted by Bp. Patrick, of the loss of Divine protection which they had thereby sustained, and of an exposure through their moral turpitude to the scorn of all their enemies. In a like sense is the nakedness spoken of by Ezekiel, in his beautiful parable of an outcast infant, to be expounded.* And such, without all doubt, is the nakedness, of which the Divine Author of the Epistle to the Church at Laodicea speaks, when he is stigmatizing their ignorance and folly in the concerns of salvation; and a similar interpretation is necessary in the solemn admonition, subjoined to the account of the pouring out of the sixth vial.
“ Behold I come as a thief: Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”+ The spiritual clothing which
Chap. xvi. Rev. iii. 17, 18.
+ Ch. xvi. 15.
was lost by the first Adam, and which is restored by the second, is to be anxiously preserved; for without it we must walk naked and our shame be exposed to view.
As the notion of nakedness is often employed in a metaphorical sense, to denote a destitution of righteousness and holiness, and a consequent exposure to Divine wrath; so is the notion of shame often used to denote sin which is both the cause and effect of that spiritual nakedness. Sin is the deformity and filth of the soul, and when the eyes of the mind are opened, and this deformity and filth are discovered, the soul becomes ashamed of itself. In this view, then, the eyes of our first parents were opened; and they began, , immediately after their fall, to understand the necessary effect of their disobedience in eating of the forbidden fruit—they became conscious of having lost that which is the beauty, the ornament, the security of the soul.
This leads us to another inquiry concerning the intention of that clothing which our guilty ancestors adopted for covering their nakedness.
They sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” or girdles. May we not suppose that this expedient had a reference to their spiritual as well as to their natural nakedness; and that while the fig-leaf-garment was intended for corporeal concealment, it was also intended as an outward indication of mental
affliction. One side of the fig-leaf is rough, and must have been irritating to the skin; in consequence of which it formed a kind of natural sackcloth, and its use was a suitable token of contrition.*
Similar to this has been the remedy, to which the awakened mind has had recourse in all the posterity of Adam; and indeed, self-mortification is the only refuge to which conviction of sin can lead, till a discovery of Divine mercy is made to
* This is by no means a novel opinion. The root from which the name of the Fig-tree is derived, signifies grief or affliction. “ The Fig-tree,” says Parkhurst, “ that is, the Grief Tree, (1798n from 708 with a formative n) from'the roughness or prickliness of the upper side of its leaf; a kind of natural sackcloth, with which our first parents girded themselves
express their contrition; whence sackcloth about the loins, penitential girdles, &c. descended to their posterity. Irenæus (Lib. iii. cap. 37.) has long ago remarked, that “ Adam testified his repentance by the act of girding himself with fig-leaves, when there were so many other kinds of leaves, which might have been less disagreeable to his body;' that he made himself a clothing suited to his disobedience;' and that, repressing the lascivious motions of the flesh, he put a girdle of continence on himself and his wife, acknowledging that he was now worthy of such a clothing, as afforded no delight but fretted and galled the body.'"
“ All human contrivances to hide that spiritual nakedness, which is occasioned by sin, whether consisting of the specious garb of moral philosophy, or of a vague unqualified reliance on the
mercy of God, exclusive of the merits of Christ; all these contrivances are as irritating to the soul, and as ineffectual to its comfort, as the girdles made of the prickly leaves of the fig were to the persons of our original ancestors.” Faber's Hor. Mosaic. vol. ii. p. 63.