EDEN LOST AND RESTORED
'So He drove out the man: and He placed at the east of
the garden of Eden cherubims and a flaming sword which
turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.'
--GENESIS iii. 24.
'Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they
may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in
through the gates into the city.'
REVELATION xxii. 14.
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning.' Eden was fair, but
the heavenly city shall be fairer. The Paradise regained is an
advance on the Paradise that was lost. These are the two ends of the
history of man, separated by who knows how many millenniums. Heaven
lay about him in his infancy, but as he journeyed westwards its
morning blush faded into the light of common day--and only at
eventide shall the sky glow again with glory and colour, and the
western heaven at last outshine the eastern, with a light that shall
never die. A fall, and a rise--a rise that reverses the fall, a rise
that transcends the glory from which he fell,--that is the Bible's
notion of the history of the world, and I, for my part, believe it
to be true, and feel it to be the one satisfactory explanation of
what I see round about me and am conscious of within me.
1. _Man had an Eden and lost it._
I take the Fall to be a historical fact. To all who accept the
authority of Scripture, no words are needed beyond the simple
statement before us, but we may just gather up the signs that there
are on the wide field of the world's history, and in the narrower
experience of individuals, that such a fall has been.
Look at the condition of the world: its degradation, its savagery-all
its pining myriads, all its untold millions who sit in darkness
and the shadow of death. Will any man try to bring before him the
actual state of the heathen world, and, retaining his belief in a
God, profess that these men are what God meant men to be? It seems
to me that the present condition of the world is not congruous with
the idea that men are in their primitive state, and if this is what
God meant men for, then I see not how the dark clouds which rest on
His wisdom and His love are to be lifted off.
Then, again--if the world has not a Fall in its history, then we
must take the lowest condition as the one from which all have come;
and is that idea capable of defence? Do we see anywhere signs of an
upward process going on now? Have we any experience of a tribe
raising itself? Can you catch anywhere a race in the act of
struggling up, outside of the pale of Christianity? Is not the
history of all a history of decadence, except only where the Gospel
has come in to reverse the process?
But passing from this: What mean the experiences of the individual-these
longings; this hard toil; these sorrows?
How comes it that man alone on earth, manifestly meant to be leader,
lord, etc., seems but cursed with a higher nature that he may know
greater sorrows, and raised above the beasts in capacity that he may
sink below them in woe, this capacity only leading to a more
exquisite susceptibility, to a more various as well as more poignant
Whence come the contrarieties and discordance in his nature?
It seems to me that all this is best explained as the Bible explains
it by saying: (1) Sin has done it; (2) Sin is not part of God's
original design, but man has fallen; (3) Sin had a personal
beginning. There have been men who were pure, able to stand but free
It seems to me that that explanation is more in harmony with the
facts of the case, finds more response in the unsophisticated
instinct of man, than any other. It seems to me that, though it
leaves many dark and sorrowful mysteries all unsolved, yet that it
alleviates the blackest of them, and flings some rays of hope on
them all. It seems to me that it relieves the character and
administration of God from the darkest dishonour; that it delivers
man's position and destiny from the most hopeless despair; that
though it leaves the mystery of the origin of evil, it brings out
into clearest relief the central truths that evil is evil, and sin
and sorrow are not God's will; that it vindicates as something
better than fond imaginings the vague aspirations of the soul for a
fair and holy state; that it establishes, as nothing else will, at
once the love of God and the dignity of man; that it leaves open the
possibility of the final overthrow of that Sin which it treats as an
intrusion and stigmatises as a fall; that it therefore braces for
more vigorous, hopeful conflict against it, and that while but for
it the answer to the despairing question, Hast Thou made all men in
vain? must be either the wailing echo 'In vain,' or the denial that
He has made them at all, there is hope and there is power, and there
is brightness thrown on the character of God and on the fate of man,
by the old belief that God made man upright, and that man made
himself a sinner.
2. _Heaven restores the lost Eden_.
'God is not ashamed to be called their God, _for_ He hath
prepared them a _city_.'
The highest conception we can form of heaven is the reversal of all
the evil of earth, and the completion of its incomplete good: the
sinless purity--the blessed presence of God--the fulfilment of all
desires--the service which is _blessed_, not toil--the changelessness
which is progress, not stagnation.
3. _Heaven surpasses the lost Eden_.
The perfection of association--the _nations_ of the saved. Here
'we mortal millions live alone,' even when united with dearest. Like
Egyptian monks of old, each dwelling in his own cave, though all
were a community.
(2) The richer experience.
The memory of past sorrows which are understood at last.
Heaven's bliss in contrast with earthly joys.
Sinlessness of those who have been sinners will be more intensely
lustrous for its dark background in the past. Redeemed men will be
brighter than angels.
The impossibility of a fall.
Death behind us.
The former things shall no more come to mind, being lost in blaze of
present transcendent experience, but yet shall be remembered as
having led to that perfect state.
Christ not only repairs the 'tabernacle which was fallen,' but
builds a fairer temple. He brings 'a statelier Eden,' and makes us
dwell for ever in a Garden City.
Maclaren Exposition of Genesis Index
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