« ZurückWeiter »
innocent, be led to those means by what may be called an irresistible impulse. He could not have kept himself back from them without offence, that is, without being in a state of sin; and, thus, can no argument.against the Scripture account be drawn from this circumstance. God had not bestowed necessary immortality on man's body; and, on this ground, support was essential, and it could not refuse the means of it:
whatever was created
The assignment, of which I am speaking, was delivered in the following words: “Behold, I have given you every green herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Hence it appears, that plants and fruits were the food appointed to man. The next verse declares the food of that branch of the irrational animal creation, described as inhabiting the earth and the air: “ And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and,” says the conclusion“ it was so." The expression in this sentence is “
green herb” only, omitting the words bearing seed,” and not followed by those—“ every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed”—the fruit or product of the herb and tree being designed for man, and the growing grass or herb for the other. There is a very remarkable distinction in these two appointments. The food of man we see to have been ordained of the fruits of the plants and trees bearing seed; the food of the irrationals, of the green herb and the grass. All had at that time sprung from the earth on the commandment of the Creator, and was in a kind of spontaneous perfection; but the herb and the grass would still maintain a spontaneous growth sufficient to their purpose. I do not lead to the inquiry, for, it is a subject on which we cannot certify ourselves, how far, and in what respects, antecedently to the fall, or on a supposition that the fall had not occurred, man's care had been necessary, or, more properly to speak, had been ordained to be applied. It was, manifestly, no part of God's intention, that man should lead a life of inactivity, He having given him a mind and body well adapted to useful occupation, although He did not intend that he should earn his bread by “ the sweat of his brow;" but, the distinction of food now made, the fruits or product of the plants and the trees being appointed to man, shews that it was intended he should cultivate them, or, as is afterwards said, in the mention of the garden of Eden, “ dress and to keep” his ground. The distinction of these two kinds yet continues; that is man's food which demands cultivation, and there is no part of it which without cultivation will not deteriorate; and the seemingly spontaneous productions of the earth, are yet sufficient to the irrational inhabitants of it. Man does, in truth, for his own purposes of better utility in them, cultivate even for many of them ; but, such cultivation is not necessary to their subsistence, and is only employed to meet the incidents of the artificial state into which he has brought them, a state evidently not contemplated before the passing of the curse on the ground.
There is another observation I would make, concerning a portion of this subject on which opinions are not agreed. God had granted to man a dominion over all cattle, and other beings, and He now appoints food both to him and to them: this food does not by name include the flesh of animals; it specially, I may say carefully, confines itself to plants, trees, and herbs: but some persons are not contented with what would be a simple interpretation; finding, on the instant after the fall, “ coats of skins," as is the expression, made for Adam and Eve; and finding Abel sacrificing animals to the Lord, they presume that under the preceding grant of dominion, not regarding the restricted appointment of food in this place, not regarding it as the and the sole appointment, the grant of animal flesh is contained : others, contented with the plain sense of Scripture, and believing that this direct appointment invalidates the supposition of any previous and indirect appointment, argue that no such grant is therein contained. Unquestionably, without very considerable violence to the scriptural text, a grant of animal food may not be supposed. Assignment of dominion does not of necessity infer' an assignment of food : the nature of man might be fitted for the former, but not for the latter. The word “ dominion,” in this instance, can only mean that kind and extent of dominion which was suited to the circumstances of the case; and the grant of animal food does not appear to be in any way suitable to them. Man’s nature was then very different from that which it became after the fall : it required not, it desired not, animal food : the product of the ground bounded both necessity and desire, and had a character and influence which it afterwards lost. What was produced before the curse passed on the earth,—before, with it, it “ brought forth thorns and thistles,” we may safely say was very different from what was produced from the earth upon which the curse had passed, and whose nature it had now become to “ bring forth thorns and thistles.” Arguing in this manner, we affirm, that the ordinary product of the ground was sufficient for the purpose of sustenance; and, as no mention is made of animal food in this place, and express mention of it is made in another, as a then grant, we are to believe that the first authority to use it was at the time of that grant, namely, after the flood, to Noah and his sons. There is an endeavour to prove a grant of animal food, previously to the grant to Noah and his sons, from the fact, that on the commission of the sin which caused the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden, God made them “ coats of skins.” They, who rest on this as authority for their position, at once assume, that the original words mean skins drawn from the bodies of animals, an interpretation which is not universally admitted. They may mean coats for the bodies of the persons for whom they were made; they may mean coats drawn from the fleeces of the animals; and, if even they do mean coats made of skins, as it is most probable they do, still is no authority derivable for the use of animal food. Animals might have been commanded to be slain for this very purpose of clothing, and at the same time to shew how the sentence of death had begun to operate, together with the further intention of sacrifice; and these skins might have been designed as a reminder to the parties themselves of the sentence which had passed on them, and its coming execution. “ The first clothes of mankind,” says the commentator, “ were of the leaves of trees, which they made themselves; being ready at hand, woven by divine art. The next were of the skins of beasts, which were much warmer; and better able to defend them from the injury of cold and weather: and these were made by God's direction. Who, having made a most gracious covenant with our first parents, it seems not unreasonable to suppose that He also signified to them, they should, for the confirmation of it, offer to him sacrifices, by the blood of which, covenants were ratified in after times, from this example. For it is not likely that the beasts, of whose skins these coats were made, died of themselves; or that they were killed merely for their use, or for