Commentary On Genesis 3:24
S. E. Pierce (1746-1829)
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On the first revelation of Jesus Christ, with the solemn exhibition of him as the propitiation; and the record of the acts and transactions of the eternal three in the cherubic emblems, placed at the east of the garden of Eden.
“So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim’s, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
In this most invaluable book, which is called the BIBLE, that is, the BOOK of BOOKS, on account of the transcendent excellency thereof, it hath pleased the Lord God to make a revelation of his essence, personalities, and perfections: and the first chapter of Moses writings give us a clear proof of the Eternal Three, and of their joint concern and concurrence in the creation of all things, visible and invisible.
Jehovah, whose essence is incomprehensible, self-existent, immutable, and eternal, was pleased, in all his persons and perfections, to go forth into creation acts, and make known his eternal power and godhead in commanding heaven and earth, with all their hosts, out of nothing, into being. “He spake, and it was done:” “he commanded, and they stood fast.”
“In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light: and there was light.”
In these words we have the epitome of heaven and earth; with an account of their creation.
The essential Three, who exist by a necessity of nature in the self existing essence, who are coequally, co-essentially, and co-eternally one in the incomprehensible Godhead, the ever blessed Jehovah; whose life of independent blessedness consists in their mutual in- being, in-dwelling, communion, and enjoyment of each other in a participation of all the perfections of Godhead; to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be detracted; were pleased, for the manifestation of the glory of all the divine perfections of their one infinite nature, to create an innumerable quantity of atoms, and out of them to produce and form all things visible and invisible: the heavens, with all their hosts; the earth, with all that is therein; angels, and the souls of men; and this was performed in the space of six days! All which we understand by the revealed account which Moses gives us, by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, in the first and second chapters of Genesis. Thus, “through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Heb. xi.3.
The word GOD is plural, say the learned; and yet it is joined with a word singular. HE created; because God is one in essence, though there are distinct modes of existence in that infinite essence; for, “there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1st Epistle of John v.7. The psalmist declares the concern the eternal Three had in the creation of all things; saying, “By the word of the Lord were the Heavens made: and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth.” Psalm xxxiii.6. The prophet proves the eternity of God, by his being before the world and time. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world: even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” Psalm xc.2.
The essential Three in the one Jehovah, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, spake, and all things visible and invisible were produced: and the eternal Spirit gave motion to all; and thus Time began. The earth, thus created, lay covered over with water; and there was darkness between the face of the great deep, and the clouds or cataracts of Heaven: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of. the waters. As time began its round from the moment this motion was given, it is a full proof of the eternity of the Holy Spirit. He it was who gave motion to the Heavens, and thus set the universe a going; so that from thence time went on, and the works of God were brought into order and perfection. Thus the sixth day of the creation being come, the eternal Three, as a fruit of their divine consultation, made man, whose body was formed out of the dust of the ground; whose soul was breathed in at his nostrils by Jehovah the Spirit; as Elihu in the book of Job says, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Job xxxiii.4. Thus the first man became a living soul; who was, as the head of all his posterity, to convey his life, form, and image unto them.
All the Trinity had a joint concern in the creation and formation of man: which fully appears from the words recorded in the twenty- sixth verse of the first chapter of this book; in which we read, “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of he sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Here is one in the Godhead, speaking to others in the same infinite nature, in the language of Us, and that by way of consultation: so that it may be most safely pronounced to be the voice of God the Father, to the Son and blessed Spirit, who were the creators of man. When the work of God was perfected in his creation, then He wears the great and glorious name of JEHOVAH ELOHIM, the LORD GOD. And man, being created in the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, exalted as the head and representative of all his offspring, and a partner being provided for him, formed out of one of his ribs; a covenant took place between God and Adam, which had for its conditions a perfect conformity of heart and life to the moral law, which was a transcript of Jehovah’s will; on the observance of which Adam was to continue in the state of perfection in which he now was; but if he broke the holy law, the commandment thus delivered to him, he and all his descendants were to die the death due to sin.
When God surveyed his works on the sixth day of the creation, he pronounced them all to be very good. The Tree of Life in the midst of the garden of Eden was a symbol of immortality. The Tree of Knowledge of good and evil was to be the test of man’s obedience. Man was placed by the Lord God in this paradisiacal state, to dress and keep the garden. How long he continued in his purity may be thought a curious question. I am inclined to think that some time must have passed in this his pure creation state. I conclude he must have spent his first Sabbath, which immediately succeeded his creation, in viewing and contemplating the persons and perfections of Jehovah, as displayed in creation and providence; in praising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of their goodness; and also for their eternal power and Godhead manifested in the visible creation. Whilst he remained in his state of creature perfection, the creatures were brought before him and presented to him, and he gave them names suited to their natures, which must have required time. He was also informed by revelation, of the creation of his bride out of one of his bones or ribs, which was taken out of him when he was in a deep sleep, which the Lord God caused to fall on him; for he could not know what then took place without it had been revealed unto him. He might also (as he, though created out of the garden, was put into it to dress and keep it) be led to understand the perpetual circulation and motion of the heavens, with the agents in nature, fire, light, and air; and their influence in and throughout every part of the visible system, by some particular means appointed for that purpose: and looking, and seeing the effects of the agents in nature, the outward and material Trinity, he might be led to contemplate the eternal Trinity, in their outward operations towards him and the whole creation.
He was, though unknown to himself, a type of Christ, God-Man: and his wife a figure of the church, the-bride, the Lamb’s wife. So that I am disposed to think and consider Adam as spending a Sabbath in the Garden of Eden, in contemplating the nature, personalities, and perfections of Jehovah, and his love to him in giving him being and well-being, and in providing and bestowing a help meet on him; and as the God-man, the great and eternal head of his body the Church, rejoiced before all time in the views and contemplations of his social. glory, the church of the elect of human race, given by the Father unto him to be his bride and spouse; so Adam, his outward and visible type, rejoiced in the woman, created on purpose for, and given to him, and who was united and married to him by the Lord God: all which was of special grace and free favour.
Whilst our first parents were in this state of creature purity and blessedness, I conceive that the ever-blessed Three might give an intimation to those bright intellectual beings, the angels, concerning their delight in man; and that it was conceived in the divine mind, and willed and decreed by an eternal purpose, to exalt human nature into personal union with the second person in the incomprehensible essence, and exalt him as God-Man, as the head of the whole election of Grace; which revelation of Jehovah’s will, not being agreeable to the angels who stood merely on their own creation footing, they immediately apostatized from God, and, under the influence of a chief, fell from God:-” They kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” Jude6. In consequence of which, they were cast out of Heaven; became devils, that is, adversaries; enemies to God and man; and are “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude6.
My reason for placing their fall as I have, is this it is clear there was no sin, and consequently no sinner, when the Lord God surveyed the work of creation, it being expressly said, “and God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” And the reason why I suggest what was the originality of their sin, and what their rebellion against the Lord consisted in: this I ground on Christ’s own words, in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel, where he charges the Jews, who stumbled at what he declared, concerning his being the Son of God, co-equal and co-essential with the Father, in the essence existing; though also true and very man, with being guilty of the devil’s sin; he says to them, “ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh it of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth ye believe me not.” John viii.44, 45.
The devil and his angels being thus fallen, they set on man and drew him into sin. That man of renown, Archbishop Usher, thought that Adam fell on the Friday preceding the second Sabbath after his creation; and that it was on the very day on which he fell, that the Lord God, in succeeding ages, appointed the anniversary day of atonement among the Jews; this however gives us a blessed prospect of the perfect removal of all the guilt of original and actual transgression from the elect of God, by the substitution of the person and sacrifice of Christ in the law-place, room, and stead, of his people.
Whilst we dare not insist particularly on these things, yet we have the most clear and certain evidence of this; that man, being in honour, abode not The devil, who was the first sinner, and the arch-head of the apostacy from God, entered into a serpent, and beset the woman, who fell by hearkening to his suggestions, and then became the means of Adam’s eating the forbidden fruit; and thus he became a sinner. The effect of which PAUL tell us was this “By one man sin entered into the World, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men,’ for that (or, in whom) all have sinned.” Rom. v.12. Thus the first man fell from God, lost his original purity, holiness, righteousness, and creature-perfection, was expelled from that state of creature-blessedness in which the Lord God had placed him, and became a sinner, upwardly polluted and depraved in every faculty of his soul, and in every member of his body; and all of us are the living witnesses of it.
My design, from the words which I have read for my text, is to set before you the following particulars.
First, the Revelation made of Jesus Christ immediately upon the fall.
Secondly, the solemn exhibition of him, as the propitiation for sin.
Thirdly, the record of the acts and transactions of the eternal Three, in the cherubic emblems placed at the east of the Garden of Eden. And,
Lastly, the foundation laid in all this for faith and hope in God. It being hereby evidenced that where “Sin abounded, Grace did much more abound.”
So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubim’s, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life.”
A learned man thus renders the words, and then gives the following comment on them:- “And he expelled the man, and inhabited from the East, at the Garden of Eden, the very cherubim, and the very flame, the edge of the sword turning itself (changing its threatening posture from mankind in general upon the single sacrifice) to keep (preserve) the Tree of Lives. The Deity there took up his dwelling, by the mediation of his emblems the cherubim, which were not intended to terrify or render Adam desperate; but to afford him continual consolation, and a prospect of supreme mercy. The flame, or wrath, was to fall on the substitute; the sword was to pierce him for our offences; and thus a new and living way was to be displayed for reconciliation, looking to the east where our hemisphere first shares the morning irradiation, the lively image of the Sun of righteousness.”
My first particular head of this discourse, is to set before you the first revelation of Jesus Christ, made immediately upon the fall. It is contained in these words, as we most commonly read them, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head,” or, more precisely, “He (i. e. the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head;” that is, the serpent and the devil, the principal agent in seducing the woman, and the man, by her means, into sin. Both instrument and agent are cursed, in consequence of what had been done: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field: upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it (or he) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis iii.14, 15. Here you have the curse pronounced on the devil and the serpent. Satan was the instrumental cause of introducing sin among the angels who revolted with him: he and they were immediately cast down to hell, and damned with an eternal damnation: and here, on his overcoming man, his damnation is doubled and sealed. He sinned out of pride and malice against God; Adam and Eve out of weakness and ignorance. “I, saith the Lord God, will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it, or he, shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Thus the Lord God confounds him, when he was thinking he had, the greatest cause for triumphing. These words are spoken threatening- wise to the devil in the serpent, and contain the infinite hatred and displeasure of God against sin, and against the devil for drawing mankind into it; and pronounce an eternal curse upon the old serpent, called the devil, for it. They proclaim eternal war between the seed of the serpent and the. seed of the woman; between the elect church of human race, and the non-elect, the children of the devil. An illustrious one is spoken of, who should finally prevail and triumph over Satan and all his principalities and powers, and destroy his works. The church in him should prevail also: “It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Which, as pronounced in the neater gender, may be expressive of the human nature of Christ, which was not a person, but a thing: it had no subsistence of itself; but was assumed into personal union with the only begotten Son of God. Also it may express, that this was to be the seed of the woman in a mysterious and ineffable manner; and likewise, that the church of Christ, the seed of the woman; should in her head, Christ Jesus, and through him her conqueror, be an over comer also of the devil, and, in due season set her triumphant feet upon his head. As these: words are read by some, “HE shall bruise thy Head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” they express the MIGHTY ONE, on whom Jehovah the Father had LAID HIS HELP; Who, as the second Adam, was in human nature to be a match for all the powers of hell; and “through death to conquer death, and him that had the power of death; that is, the devil.” Heb. ii.14.
In these words then, we have the first revelation of Jesus Christ. On this revelation the whole Scriptures are founded; and the ordinances of God’s worship are in perfect agreement with it. This revelation gives a full intimation, that one in the Godhead would become incarnate, and tread upon the head of the serpent, and the devil who entered into him, and overcome all his wiles and cunning, and finally vanquish him; and that He would accomplish this glorious victory by suffering and death, which was expressed in the words; “He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” that is, his human nature, which was exposed to the assaults of Satan, to temptations, sorrows, sufferings, and death. We have here all that is contained in the inspired volume for the substance of it. Here is Grace, Christ, the promise of Christ, and salvation in him and by him. If we consider the time when the promise was first made, to whom it was first spoken, and the ground and foundation laid in it for faith in the Lord God, we shall find grace most gloriously and divinely display ed. It was for time and circumstance the most singular; when all mankind were ruined and fallen from God, in their nature head. They could not be more completely apostatized from the Lord the fountain of all good; for Satan had poisoned their whole nature, soul and body, by breathing his hellish breath on the root from whence they were to originate, so that they were dead in trespasses and sins; and the awful proofs given of it in their tempers, lives, and walk, in their unregenerate state, are but the fatal effects thereof. Never had free grace an opportunity of shining forth like unto it: and the glory of it now shone bright in the view of elect angels, who, as they had cause to celebrate it, when it was made known to them that their election of God was their preservation from sin, when their fellow angels, who were not elected, fell; so they now saw in part the wisdom of God in a mystery, in his appointment of the God-man to be the head of them, and of the elect of mankind, who were to be redeemed by him out of the hands of all their enemies. It was an eternal triumph, and pronounced as such by the Lord God over Satan and all his principalities and powers, over sin, death, and damnation; so that the devil was never more confounded, except when the Almighty Jesus triumphed over him and his legions on the cross, saying, “IT IS FINISHED.” That it should be first spoken to the devil to confound him, and in the hearing of fallen man to comfort him, was grace most magnificently displayed. It shewed that Satan could be no match for the woman’s seed; and that he should neither prevail against him, nor any of his seed to their final destruction; and these words, “He shall bruise thy head,” laid a foundation for Adam and his wife to believe in God, that it should be according as he had spoken.
As the Tree of Knowledge, the fruit of which Adam and his wife had eaten, was a sign of curse and death if man transgressed God’s law, Jehovah saying, in the day thou eatest of it thou shalt die, or dying thou shalt die; so, ’tis probable, God, in the ceremonial law, pronounceth such as die or hang on a tree accursed, that is, as having a sign of a curse upon them: and our Lord Jesus was nailed to the tree, and “delivered us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.”
Thus, in this revelation of Christ, the whole Gospel was contained. His person, one in the essence existing, himself the self-existent Saviour, who was to become incarnate that he might destroy the works of the devil. He was to live for his people: this was intimated in his bruising Satan; for he could not suffer, had he not lived in our nature. He was to bruise the serpent’s head, which proclaimed his almighty power to conquer sin; seeing he was to bruise and overcome him who was the father of it, in whom it first began, even him who had brought up the cursed method of sinning against God. If the Son of God at this time appeared in human form, as a pledge and proof that his delights were with the sons of men, as some learned divines conceive, it must have struck Satan through and through with endless sorrow and confusion, and have been a vast encouragement to the faith of the fallen pair; and as the second person in the essence spoke, and said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” and as, according to the covenant settlements of the three in Jehovah, the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, I conclude it very safe and truly scriptural to say, that the God-man, as such, appeared to Adam immediately after the fall, and spoke out, in the name of all the persons in God, this sentence on Satan, and gave forth this revelation concerning his future incarnation, passion, salvation, and conquests. I shall now add a few observations from Dr. Lightfoot; he says, “It was about high noon when Adam and his wife fell. In their lost and sinful state they lay till towards the cool of the day, or three o’clock in the afternoon. Then they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden; who, having summoned them before him, interrogated them, and heard their shameful excuse, immediately pronounces an eternal curse on the serpent and on Satan, who had by means of it been the destroyer of mankind, promises Christ as the Redeemer of the elect, and then curses the earth, that they might not set their affections on, or seek their happiness in things below: he doometh them to labour, misery, and mortality, that they might look for rest in Heaven.-Adam’s story is all wonder! Dust, so raised and animated with a living soul, so soon lost and so soon renewed! He knew what was contained in the revelation of Christ, and received it as God’s promise, that thus it would be. He proves, and gives evidence of his faith, by calling his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. He had, before her fall, named her according to her sex woman, Genesis ii.23. Now he gives her another name of distinction; then, she was called woman because she was taken out of man; now, Eve, because all living were to come out of her. Adam shewed wisdom in naming the beasts: here he shews that and more, viz. faith and sense of his better estate. She was rather the mother of death, having done that which brought death into the world; but he, sensible of a better life to come in by her, call her Eve, i.e. life, as the word signifies. Lay this to that in John i.4. “In him was life, speaking of Christ, and the life was the light of men.” Eve was the mother of all living; viz: of Christ, and all that live by him.
I proceed to consider, secondly, the solemn exhibition of him as the propitiation for sin.
To keep this most important revelation and promise of Christ in continual remembrance, required a representative priest and sacrifice, whereby the revelation and promise might be realized to the view and senses of believers in Jesus, in outward signs and memorials thereof. To inform Adam and all succeeding believers how the promise concerning Christ’s victory over Satan, and of salvation, should be accomplished, the sacrifice and death of Immanuel were shewn forth and recorded in Paradise by the death “of an animal, chosen out and commanded by the Lord to be offered in sacrifice to him and the first death that ever took place in our world was a memorial, figure, and type, of the death of Christ. In reference to it, Christ bears the title of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Rev. xiii.8. A Lamb was appointed by the Lord to be a symbol of Christ. It was substituted in the room of sinners. It was to have sin laid on it; then it was to be consumed by fire. In which the substitution of Christ’s person in the room and stead of his people, the imputation of their sins to him, and his hearing them in his own body on the tree, and the acceptation of his offering by fire from heaven falling on the outward figure of it, were testified; and the removal and abolishing of all their sins out of the sight of God, by consuming and reducing the oblation to ashes by fire hence it was stilled a burnt offering, because it was wholly consumed. Now this began immediately upon the fall; was instituted by the Lord God; and was performed by Adam; who knew, by the light and teaching of the Holy Ghost, its end and design, He was a partaker of the benefit of it from what we read at the 21st verse of this chapter: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” The skins must have been those of the sacrificial animals, which had been offered up at God’s command, as memorials of Christ, the Lamb of God: and though they are not mentioned, yet it follows from the title given to Christ, “THE LAMB SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION, OF THE WORLD;” and also from what it recorded in. the next chapter, concerning Abel’s offering to the Lord the firstlings of his flocks, that Jesus the Lamb of God was prefigured in the garden of Eden by a lamb, or lambs. He might well, therefore, be proclaimed by the Baptist to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” When it is said the Lord God made coats of skins, and clothed them, it is not relative to common clothing, This they had made for themselves; but it was typical of that righteousness provided by the Most High, and which was to be wrought out for them by the Lord Jesus, who is called THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
God’s clothing Adam and his wife with skins, is an evidence that they sacrificed; for, they had no need of slaying beasts for any other purpose. They were slain, says Dr, Lightfoot, for sacrifice, and their skins sewed for clothing. Thus body and soul were provided for; and, in these sacrifices they looked unto Christ, and saw him in a figure. The first death in the world was Christ dying in a figure. The prophet Zacharias, in his song, has these words, “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began;” hinting that from the very beginning of the world, there were prophets of the Messiah: thus, Adam was a prophet of Christ, and prophesied of him in the name of Eve, which signifies life and Eve prophesied of him in the name of Cain, Genesis iv.1. “She conceived and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord,” or I have gotten the man, the very Jehovah: and also in the name Seth, she “bare a son, and called his name Seth for God, saith she, hath appointed me another seed.” Thus Christ was set forth as the propitiation, in a most solemn exhibition of him in a sacrifice. His death was to be the accomplishment of the promise, and the way of reconciliation. Thus Father, Son, and Holy Ghost declared, that by the blood shedding of the immaculate Lamb, Satan would be conquered; sin taken away and entirely abolished; peace made; iniquity pardoned; the Holy Ghost bestowed; and access opened by the blood of Jesus, for the approach of sinners to God, as reconciled by the death of his Son.
I proceed, thirdly, to set before you the record of the acts and transactions of the Eternal Three, in the cherubic emblems placed at the east of the garden of Eden.
Adam was, in one day, under two vastly different covenants: the form of neither was plainly expressed, but clearly implied. The covenant of grace, and the covenant of works, were so far understood, as for him to feel that he had broken the one, and was, through sovereign love and mercy, brought under the other, which held out to him, first, a root of a seed, as he was; secondly, one who would bring in an infinite righteousness beyond what he knew in his state of purity; thirdly, one who would, by his obedience and death, destroy the works of the Devil for. his own seed. This was mercy, which must in a particular way, unknown to all beside, have. warmed. his heart and delighted his mind.
Christ, as altar, sacrifice, priest, and purifier, having been freely and fully set forth, and the fallen pair having been made partakers of him and his great salvation, which, though but revealed, was as effectual to their acceptance, justification, and pardon, as it is now it has been completely accomplished; the Lord, to prevent Adam from turning aside to the covenant of works, acted in the following way with him: “And the Lord God said, behold the man is become as one of us to know good and evil:” here is one in the incomprehensible essence, speaking in the language of Us, in an address to the other great ones, in the same undivided Godhead. “Behold, the man is become as one of us.” This he foolishly aimed at; but by his very attempt he became, what he was not before, a sinful man his body mortal, and the subject of death. This was spoken in the hearing of Adam. By it the Lord God points out Satan’s lying speech, “Ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil;” and would impress the mind of Adam, with a proper sense of his pride and folly, in believing the father of lies, that, under proper views of his sin, he might walk humbly with his reconciled God. And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever:” it is observed by the learned Ainsworth, that this speech is imperfect, and must be understood thus: “He (i.e. man) must be driven out, lest he put forth his hand that he may eat and live for ever.” The tree of life, and the eating of it, had, in Adam’s pure creation state been to him the symbol of eternal life, on his obedience; but it could not be continued to him, fallen’ by disobedience. The new covenant which man was now under, was not of works, but of faith in Christ, the woman’s seed. The Lord God, therefore, to drive man from all confidence in himself, and in any works of his own, and so from all abuse of this tree, that he might fully know that his “life was hid with Christ in God,” sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken; which was a merciful dispensation to find out employment for fallen man. “So he drove out the man:” expelled him out of the garden of Eden: “and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubim’s, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” This cherubic representative or substitute of the Eternal Three, was the record of their acts and transactions in the everlasting council and covenant, on the behalf of the elect of mankind. The word cherubim signifies a similitude or resemblance: the similitude of the Great Ones. The cherubim’s placed by the Lord God at the east of the garden of Eden, were a divine institution: before them Adam worshipped. They are very properly stilled by some the primary cherub, and exhibited Jehovah ELOHIM acting according to their covenant offices; which they had agreed upon, before the world was, to exercise in the economy of mercy; but not to. denote any. priority or superiority in the eternal Three. Fire, the father of light, glory- irradiation, is not to give an idea of the beginning of production, but of the manner of existence; so, the holy air, or spirit, expresses distinction. The cherubim, with its apparatus of fire and sword, was at once a solemn record of the acts and transactions of the Eternal Trinity. The cherubim was to afford Adam Continual consolation. The agency of the material heavens points out those ideas, whereby God has been pleased to convey ideas of his own essence, and personalities in that essence; and of the respective offices and actions of the GREAT ONES. The emblems of the Eternal Three were retained in those secondary cherubim’s, copied by Moses and David, and set up in the Holy of Holies.
The design of this solemn exhibition at the east of the garden of Eden, was “to keep the very way to the. tree of lives.” The fire and sword were hieroglyphically shewn along with the cherubim expressive of the atonement. Fire, an emblem of the Father’s wrath, was to flame forth and fall on Christ: and he, the substitute, was to have the sword of vindictive justice sheathed in his sinless humanity. The prophets seem to have an eye to this symbolical representation, when one of them says, “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.” Psalm lxxx.17. And another of them, in the name of Jehovah the Father, says, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Zech. xiii.7. Without revelation, Adam, before his fall, could have known nothing of the Essence existing, the creator of this system; or, of the analogy between material and immaterial objects. He could not have known the world to have been produced out of nothing, as he was no spectator of that action, unless God had convinced him of his own power and supremacy, and had instructed him, that it was his workmanship, and that he alone was to be obeyed: much less could he have known any thing of Christ, his propitiation for sin, and conquest and victory over Satan, sin, death, and hell, or the covenant of the HOLY ONES, but by immediate and divine revelation: so that the cherubim was an exhibition of redemption, and explanatory of it. The cherubim and flaming sword, or fire returning and circulating back into itself, were the supernatural exhibition, emblematical of the way and means of our salvation; and shewed forth the covenant of grace. The promise “I will put enmity between thee (the old serpent) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it, or he, shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” was explained by these emblematical figures. Sacrifice was instituted to point out the way till what it typified was completed.. This fire and sword were first to bruise the heel of the seed, and then to be turned to the head of the serpent. This hath been done by the incarnation, obedience, sacrifice, sufferings, and death, of Christ; and: was completed by his swallowing up death in victory. The figures in the cherubic representation are not here named; but the secondary cherubim’s, which without doubt were the true copies of the primary ones, are mentioned four times in the Bible; and from the account given of them in Ezekiel i.10. and x.14. we are informed of their particular figure, which was the face of a bull, of a lion and man united, and of an eagle.
The three conditions of the one substance in the heavens; fire, light, and air, as the representatives of the Eternal Three, which they have chosen to represent themselves by, are, in the three faces of these three animals in one body, with the human figure united to that of the lion, (the emblem of light,. the emblem of the second person) very expressive and very proper to convey the knowledge of the Trinity in unity, and the great mystery of redemption. The tree of life or lives, was Christ. The flaming sword was to be turned from sinners belonging to the election of grace, and fall on Christ their surety: thus the way to the real tree of life or lives, was most freely laid open to their view.
I proceed, lastly, to view the foundation laid in all this for faith and hope in God-: it being hereby evidenced, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
The revelation of Christ in the word of promise; for such it was to the fallen pair, though it was delivered threatening-wise to the devil in the serpent; with the instituted sacrifice and cherubic figures, contained the whole Gospel in epitome: all that follows after is built upon it, and is nothing more or less than an explanation, and unfolding of what was contained in it. It is expressly declared by the Apostle Peter, speaking of Christ, that to him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts x.43. Adam and his wife were the first believers in Christ Jesus, the first prophets who spake of him; and they received their knowledge and faith concerning Christ, his incarnation, righteousness, and death, and that it was founded on the will, council, and covenant of the Eternal Three, by the immediate revelation and teaching of the Holy Ghost; who produced in their minds a supernatural birth, gave them an understanding to know what was set before them in he promise of a Saviour, and led them into an acquaintance with the way and manner in which he would atone for their sin, and bring in an everlasting righteousness: so that in this word of promise was an immutable foundation laid for faith and hope in God.. Christ was set forth as the object of it; his blood and death were most clearly expressed, and his righteousness revealed as the robe which alone could cover and make righteous in the sight of God; and the Three in Jehovah were represented as bearing wits ness to their own acts, and hieroglyphically spewing how the sword of divine justice, and the fire of infinite wrath should be stretched out, and fall on, and bd. executed on, the surety, the man of Jehovah’s right hand; that son of man whom he had made strong for himself: Psalm lxxx.17 and the revelation thus made of Christ most exactly suited the case. The devil had been too strong for the innocent pair. He deceived. the woman; and though Adam was not deceived, yet, by listening to his sensual part, he became a sinner. Thus the declaration concerning the woman’s seed, as the serpent bruiser, was Moses divinely adapted to their case; as this great and illustrious one would, by bruising his head, most effectually destroy his works, and make death and bell his footstool.
In the instituted sacrifices, and in the clothing which the Lord God had put upon them, they viewed Christ the Lamb of God, as the only sacrifice for sin; as Jehovah their righteousness; and, through the light and teaching of the Lord the Spirit, they understood how sin would be atoned for, removed from them, and put away for ever out of the sight, and, from before the Lord: and, as they worshipped before.-the Lord at the east of the garden of Eden, where the Loan GOD, JEHOVAH ELOHIM inhabited the cherubim, they had, in the instituted emblems, as clear-and expressive an evidence and prelude to what was really to be done upon the earth by one of the persons in the Deity, who would inhabit and dwell in the man Christ Jesus, and make atonement for sin, and open the gate of everlasting life to all his people, as could be given them. Thus they found health and cure, life, and everlasting consolation, imparted to their minds, and fully experienced that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Never did free grace more gloriously display itself! It was a triumph indeed! and these persons who had been the instruments of making way for the introduction of sin and death, were blessed with the knowledge that “grace would reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Thus the very era of grace began with an exhibition of the death of Christ in type and figure: and all that follows this, throughout the bible, is but an elucidation of what was taught Adam immediately upon his fall. It is the root, marrow, and substance of the whole Scriptures. The high priests, sacrifices, atonements, purifications, perfumes, and the cherubim of glory in the Holy of Holies, were but a drawing out of this revelation, sacrifice, and cherubic exhibition, to more public view. The Book of Psalms was written to give a perfect account and description of what the seed of the woman, the real David, the beloved of Jehovah, was to be, do, and suffer, to accomplish the salvation of his Church; and finally to bruise Satan under his and her feet.
May the Lord the Spirit give you light to see the truth of this; then those sermons which follow will cast lustre on the sacred page: or rather, will serve to point out to you, that there is no part of the Bible but is full of Christ, and that the revelation of him is founded on the covenant of the Eternal Three: so that the doctrine of the Trinity is the. foundation of the whole. Amen.