Adam In Eden Genesis 2:8

Genesis 2:8

The sacred narrative informs us that the newly-created man was placed in a garden, in the eastern part of a land called Eden. The land of Eden was in a well-watered, a fertile, and a pleasant country; and the best and choicest part of that land, planted as a paradise or garden, was to be the abode of the first man. Let not the reader be troubled. We intend not to inquire into the site of Eden. It may be doubted whether the changes wrought on the face of the earth at the deluge, have not placed the spot beyond discovery or recognition. But we are sure that it was a most pleasant place - pleasanter, without doubt, than the world has since beheld. Here, probably, all that was sublime and gentle in the scenery of the whole earth was exhibited in pattern, and all that could delight the uncorrupted tastes of the new man, with all that could excite the anxious inquiries of his mind, was spread out before him. He had labor to employ his attention without wearying him; and he had time, leisure, for his highest pursuits of knowing God, his will, and his works. There was no disharmony in nature to pain his soul. The birds sang sweetly to him as he walked, or wrought, or rested; and the beasts gamboled playfully around their master. He was endowed with a rational and immortal spirit; he was holy, and therefore happy; and he enjoyed sensible intercourse with God, and probably with angels. What a state of blessedness was this! To men imbued with the spirit of the fall, to whom the excitements of conflict and conquest are necessary, and who will not be happy unless they can “ride in the whirlwind, and direct the storm,” the paradise of Eden may seem insipid, and the loss of it no great privation, merely as a condition of life. But to those to whom the strifes of men are hateful; who faint beneath the cares of life; who are cut of from sun and air  by the necessities of daily toil; or who groan under the burden of their sins - the repose, the rest, the happiness of Eden, glorified by the presence of God, appears beyond all measure inviting, and well may they cry, “Oh, Adam, what hast thou done, to lose thy children so fair a heritage!” Yet even such may be of good cheer, for the second Adam has found for them a fairer home and a more blessed inheritance.

Much has been inquired regarding the condition of Adam in respect of knowledge. All accounts necessarily assign to him the utmost physical perfection of man’s nature. But in the view of some he was merely a naked savage, who had all things to acquire by experience. This is not from any intended disrespect to the father of mankind; but because it was an old theory that knowledge, intelligence, and the arts of civilization were progressively acquired in the first ages; and it was therefore necessary that the progenitor of the race should be in a state of ignorance, as it could not but be supposed that he would impart such knowledge as he possessed to his descendants. On the other hand, there are those who urge that Adam, instructed of God, must have been possessed of all knowledge of which the mind of man is capable, and have been deeply skilled in all the sciences and arts of civilization.

That both extremes are wrong we have no doubt. Adam was, at his creation, not a child; he was a man in the rigor of physical and mental life. There is no need of placing any limit to his powers of thought, of reasoning, of comparison, of imagination. He was taught of God, and not left to gather by slow experience all that he wanted to know. If Adam could talk at all, and we know that he could, language must have been supernaturally imparted to him. He had no means of acquiring it but from God. From the same source he must have derived the knowledge he possessed of the properties of the objects and beings around him. He had the employment assigned him of keeping and dressing the garden, and this involves the knowledge of many operations, and of many properties of plants, which, although they  may be, in our day, possessed by one man, are, nevertheless, the result of ages of experience. The commonest gardener who works for us, brings to his labor the progressive knowledge of many generations. If Adam had gone to work, without previous instruction, or without being on the instant inspired (as was probably the case) with the knowledge of what was proper to be done in every new circumstance, he would have soon made sad ravages even in the garden of Eden. To cultivate a garden implies a use of tools. These must either have been supplied to him, or he must have been endowed with the skill, and the knowledge of materials, necessary to enable him to make them for this purpose.

Again, that he was endowed with the knowledge of the common and more conspicuous qualities of animals, is evident from his being able to give appropriate names to the creatures brought under his notice. This was probably suggested to him, with the force of an intuitive perception, at the moment that his attention was directed to the species - for it would have required much and long-continued observation, to have done this without the aid of implanted perceptions.

But it does not, on the other hand, seem to us at all necessary to suppose that Adam was endowed with any other knowledge than was suited to the condition in which he was placed, and needful to the full enjoyment of its advantages. That he was learned in all science, and skilled in all art, there seems no reason to believe. Some make him greater than all his sons in astronomy, in zoology, in botany, in chemistry; and as well versed as they in the social and constructive arts. If this were necessary to him, we find no difficulty in believing that it would have been imparted to him; but as we cannot see that it was necessary, or that it belonged to his condition, we conceive that no such knowledge was in his possession. As much as the happiness of his condition required was given; and whatever else he might have required in his state of innocence, would doubtless, in like manner, have been imparted. But in the altered circumstances which eventually arose, and to which the law of Eden could not be  applicable, men were left to the slower teaching of experience and observation for their advance in knowledge and the arts.

In one thing the state of Adam in Eden must have been far different from that of which we have any conception. All the past, so fruitful to us in teachings and experiences, which comes to us laden with vast stores of accumulated facts and knowledge, and rich in the memories of young joys and parental tenderness: all this was a blank to him. This alone must have made a serious difference between his state and our own; a difference so great, that it is scarcely possible for us to realize to our minds all the mysteries of his existence. It is as a difference solely that we point it out. We know not that the first of men was, even in this respect, under any disadvantage. He had no need of antecedents. God was all to him - his past, his present, his future.