Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How Adam and Eve Broke All the Commandments At Once

James Ussher, A Body of Divinity, or The Sum and Substance of Christian Religion, pp. 134-136:

How doth it agree with the goodness, or with the very justice of God, to punish mankind so fearfully for eating of a little fruit?

Very well, for first the heinousness of an offence is not to be measured by the thing that is done, but by the worthiness of the person against whom it is committed. And how much more the commandment our first parents broke was easy to be kept (as to abstain from one only fruit in so great variety and pleasure), so much more grievous was their sin by breaking it.

Secondly, though God tried their obedience in that fruit especially, yet were there many other most grievous sins, which in desiring and doing of this they did commit. In so much that we may observe therein the grounds of the breach in a manner of every one of the ten commandments. For the transgression was terrible, and the breach of the whole law of God; yea, an apostacie whereby they withdrew themselves from under the power of God, nay, rejected and denied him; and not so little an offence as most men think it to be.

What breaches of the first commandment may be observed in this transgression?

First, infidelity, whereby they doubted of God's love toward them, and of the truth of his word.

Secondly, contempt of God, in disregarding his threatenings, and crediting the words of Satan, God's enemy and theirs.

Thirdly, heinous ingratitude and unthankfulness against God for all his benefits, in that they would not be beholden unto him for that excellent condition of their creation (in respect whereof they owed unto him all fealty), but would needs be his equal.

Fourthly, curiosity in affecting greater wisdom than God had endued them withal by virtue of their creation, and a greater measure of knowledge than he thought fit to reveal unto them.

Fifthly, intolerable pride and ambition, not only desiring to be better than God made them, but also to be equal in knowledge to God himself, and aspiring to the highest estate due to their Creator.

How did our first parents break the second commandment?

Eve, by embracing the word of the devil, and preferring it before the word of God; Adam, by hearkening to the voice of his wife rather than to the voice of the Almighty.

What were the breaches of the third?

First, presumption in venturing to dispute God's truth, and to enter in communication with God's enemy, or a beast who appeared unto them, touching the word of God, with whom no such conference ought to have been entertained.

Secondly, reproachful blasphemy, by subscribing to the sayings of the devil, in which he charged God with lying and envying his good estate.

Thirdly, superstitious conceit of the fruit of the tree, imagining it to have that virtue which God never put into it, as if by the eating thereof such knowledge might be gotten as Satan persuaded.

Fourthly, want of that zeal in Adam for the glory of God which he ought to have showed against his wife, when he understood she had transgressed God's commandments.

How was the fourth commandment broken?

In that the Sabbath was made a time to confer with Satan in matters tending to the high dishonour of God. If it be true that on that day man fell into this transgression, as some not improbably have conjectured, for at the conclusion of the sixth day all things remained yet very good, and God blessed the seventh day. Now it is very likely Satan would take the first advantage that possibly he could to entrap them before they were strengthened by longer experience, and by partaking of the sacrament of the tree of life (whereof it appeareth that they had not yet eaten), and so from the very beginning of maл become a manslayer.

Show briefly the grounds of the breach of the commandments of the second table in the transgressions of our first parents.

The fifth was broken, Eve giving too little to her husband in attempting a matter of so great weight without his privity, and Adam giving too much to his wife in obeying her voice rather than the commandment of God, and for pleasing of her, not caring to displease God.

The sixth: by this act they threw themselves and all their posterity into condemnation and death, both of body and soul.

The seventh: though nothing direct against this commandment, yet herein appeared the root of those evil affections which are here condemned, as not bridling the lust and wandering desire of the eyes, as also the inordinate appetite of the taste, in lusting for and eating that only fruit which God forbade, not being satisfied with all the other fruits in the garden.

The eighth: first, laying hands upon that which was none of their own, but by special reservation kept from them. Secondly, discontent with their present estate, and covetous desire of that which they had not.

The ninth: judging otherwise than the truth was of the virtue of the tree, and receiving a false accusation against God himself.

The tenth: by entertaining in their minds Satan's suggestions, and evil concupiscence appearing in the first motions leading to the forenamed sins.

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