February 19, 2017
“Did God really say..?”
Is it possible that four words in a row could do more damage than these words did? A perfect garden setting was ruined, the relationship between God and man was marred, to say nothing of the relationship between man and woman.
Upon close inspection and at the urging of the snake, the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye. And if that weren’t enough, it was desirable for gaining wisdom! She took and ate, and then offered some to Adam, who was with her, and he ate.
Earth still has never had a tragic moment to equal that one. Jonathan Edwards enlarged on what changed as a result of that transgression.
The ruin that the fall brought upon the soul of man consists very much in his losing the nobler and more benevolent principles of his nature, and falling wholly under the power and government of self-love.
Before, and as God created him, he was exalted, and noble, and generous; but now he is debased, and ignoble, and selfish.
Immediately upon the fall, the mind of man shrank from its primitive greatness and expandedness, to an exceeding smallness and contractedness; and as in other respects, so especially in this.
Before, his soul was under the government of that noble principle of divine love, whereby it was enlarged to the comprehension of all his fellow creatures and their welfare. And not only so, but it was not confined within such narrow limits as the bounds of the creation, but went forth in the exercise of holy love to the Creator, and abroad upon the infinite ocean of good, and was, as it were, swallowed up by it, and became one with it.
But so soon as he had transgressed against God, these noble principles were immediately lost, and all this excellent enlargedness of man’s soul was gone; and thenceforward he himself shrank, as it were, into a little space, circumscribed and closely shut up within itself to the exclusion of all things else.
Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness; and God was forsaken, and fellow creatures forsaken, and man retired within himself, and became totally governed by narrow and selfish principles and feelings. Self-love became absolute master of his soul, and the more noble and spiritual principles of his being took wings and flew away.
Devastating. This portrayal of the video rehearses the Genesis account of the Fall:
Devastating, yes. Final? No. Edwards now points out that the love of God would have the final say, redeeming and restoring what had been lost.
But God, in mercy to miserable man, entered on the work of redemption, and, by the glorious gospel of his Son, began the work of bringing the soul of man out of its confinement and contractedness, and back again to those noble and divine principles by which it was animated and governed at first.
It is through the cross of Christ that he is doing this; for our union with Christ gives us participation in his nature. And so Christianity restores an excellent enlargement, and extensiveness, and liberality to the soul, and again possesses it with that divine love or charity that we read of in the text, whereby it again embraces its fellow creatures, and is devoted to and swallowed up in the Creator.