(On Genesis, Am. cd., page 73 sq.) remarks that "the significance of Paradise is this, that it declares the original ideal state of the earth and the human race, the unity of the particular and the general, the unity of spirit and nature, the unity of spiritual innocence and the physical harmony of nature, the unity of the fall and the disturbance of nature; lastly, the unity of the facts and their symbolical meaning, which both the barely literal and mythical explanations of the record rend asunder. The tree of knowledge of good and evil existed in some one form, but with it all nature is in some measure designated as a test. But the serpent, as the organ of that temptation, is not only the type of temptation and of sin, but, as originally a worm, the type of its brutality, its degradation, and its subjection. The record of the actual fall stands there as an eternal judgment upon the theoretical, the human, view of moral evil, especially upon the errors of Dualisue and Manicheism, Pelagianism and Pantheism. Hence arise the numerous and strong objections which the most diverse systems in old and modern times have raised against this record. The earthly origin of evil out of the abuse of freedom offends dualism, which derives it from an evil deity, from dark matter, or from the supremacy of sense, Although the serpent sustains the doctrine that, prior to the fall of man, sin had existed in a sphere on the other side, working through demasoniac agency upon this (for the serpent was not created evil, Genesis 1:25; generally not even fitted for evil, and can only be regarded, therefore, as the organ of a far different evil power), yet the visible picture of the fall in this sphere is a certain sign that the fall in that sphere could only have risen through the abuse of the freedom of the creature. But if we observe the progress of sin from the first sin of Eve to the fratricide of Cain; if we view the opposition between Cain and Abel, and the intimation of the moral freedom of Cain himself, so the Augustinian view, raising original sin to absolute originals death, receives its illuminatiom and its juist limits. But how every Pelagian view of life falls before this record, as it brings into prominence the causal connection, between the sin of the spirit world and that of man, between the sin of the woman and the man, between the sin of our first parents, and their own sinfulness, and the sinfulnesss of their posterity!
If we take into view the stages of the development of evil in the genesis of the first sin, how limited and vapid appears the modern view, which regards the senses as the prime starting-point of evil! But when Pantheism asserts the necessity of sin, or rather of the fall, as the necessary transition of men from the state of pure innocence to that of conscious freedom, the simple remark that the ingenuousness of Adam ewould have been carried directly on in the proper eay if he had stood the test, just as Christ through his sinlessness has reached the knowledge of the the distinction between good and evil, and has actually shown that sin, notwithstanding its inweaving with human nature, does not belong to its very being, clearly refutes the assertion. But how clear is the explanation of evil, of punishment, and of judgment, as it meets us in this account! that the natural evil does not belong to the moral, but, notwithstanding its inward connection with it, is still, the divine counteracting force against it; that punishment is to redeem and purify; that from the very acme of the judgment breaks forth the promise and salvation. These truths which are far above every high and- Christian view of the world, make it apparent that the first judgment of God, as a type of the world-redeeming judgment of God, has found its completion in the death of Christ upon the cross." "The deceptive promise of the serpent was fulfilled: man's eyes were opened (chapter 3:7), but he saw only his misery and nakedness. He was now brought to know good and evil, hut with the painful consciousness of having trifled with and lost the one, and of being sunk in thee depths of woe by the other. He had become as god; he had boldly cast off as allegiance to the one God, and assumed sovereignty over himself. He had constituted himself a God, no longer the representative of God; he had become his own master, free as God; but this likeness to God brought notwith it the happiness which pertains to the divine Being, but was fraught with the deepest misery and c- noe" (Kurtz, Bible and Astronomy, page 171).
Muller, after affirming that "there is really nothing in the narrative of the fall: obliging us to consider that event as the primary beginning of sin, in the strict sense of the word," and "'that neither 'the image of God,' wherein man was created, nor God's pronouncing everything 'very good,' prevents our believing that the fall was only the outward manifestation of a perversion of the will preceding the empirical life of man — the outgo of an evil already 'presents its potentia, which might, indeed, by a persevering effort, have been crushed, but which forms the basis of an original moral depravity in human nature. The endeavor of the tempter was to bring out to view, and into action, this hidden evil" (Doctrine of Sin, Edinb. 1868, 2:385). This view of Muller's rests upon his theory of a sin of man in some pre-existent state, which he calls a "self-determination of the transcendental freedom before our individual existence." Rothe, on the other hand (Ethik, 2:180), places the es.sence of sin chiefly in the necessity of matter. " The passage through sin, in his opinion, is a metaphysical necessity. He conceives of our first parents not as anature at their creation, but destined to spiritual development; consequently their material part, in the absence of training, must gain the upper hand; and imperceptibly, and without blame, they found themselves, by their development, in sin. Hence evil lies in the divine world-plan, not merely as something permitted; it lies unavoidably in the creature, on account of his origin in the fact of his coming into existence in contradistinction from God; but as creature-evil has been ordained in the plan of the world, so also has its destruction, as it may come to light. Rothe (page 204) openly declares that the 'effort to separate evil from all connection with the divine causality must ever remain an idle undertaking;' although even he himself, in a measure startled at this result, imagines himself to hold the causation of human sin entirely apart from God. He says: 'The divine production of evil is at the saune time its absolute destruction. Within the sphere of redemption the necessity of sinning is not entirely removed, but is conceived of as constantly vanishing."'
In opposition to Muller and Rothe, as well as to all who presuppose evil as fundamental and its development as necessary, Pastor Rinck wrote an able article, Von dem Ursprung des Bosen, in the Theol. Studien a. Kritiken for 1852 (page 651 sq.; translated by Dr. Nadal in the Methodist Quarterly, October, 1853), from which we make the following extract. After stating that it matters not, for this discussion, whether the Scripture narrative be literal or figurative, he states its substantial import as follows: "God caused thee tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil to grow up in the midst of the garden, and commanded man, 'Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat; for in the day thou atest thereof thou shalt surely die.' This tree of knowledge, as planted by God, is not yet evil, but contains in itself the choice between good and evil — the innate possibility of sinning, which possibility is wound up with the very conception of a free being, whose liberty is not the divine necessity, "but lies outside of it. It is a tree of divine commands and prohibitions — objectively conceived, the object of knowledge; or, subjectively, the possibility of transgressing the command, the object of free choice. Alongside of this stands the tree of life; and both are united to prove that the mere possibility of evil, which is involved in the creation of man, is not yet anything evil or death-bringing.
Only with the realization of the possibility does opposition to the tree of life arise, i.e., the true life is forfeited, and death, curse, and destruction appear in its place. The tree of life which the living God had planted for man, and his expressed will not to eat of the tree of knowledge, presuppose the possibility of not transgressing, because God could neither require anything impossible of man, nor involve him inextricably in the meshes of a scheme which would certainly exclude him from the tree of life. The origin of evil from absolute good must forever remain inconceivable; not so with relative good. If we hold fast to this difference, the objection of Rothe will not hold: 'The religious-moral perfection of the first parents of our race would exclude all psychological possibility of the fall.' But this possibility is explained by the creation of man, who, as it were, stands out of God; not holy and perfect like God, and yet not a mere creature like the beast: he is not under and in the law of necessity, but possesses the likenes of God and freedom. The perfection of a creature is not divine, not absolute. The want of such perfection in a creature casts no shadow upon the Creator. According to the doctrines of Emanation and Pantheism, which mix God and the world, the fall cannot be explained, but only according to the doctrines of God and of the creation. When then, by the creation God set free beings out of himself, then the possible departure from God was given, and the question, Wherefore did not God hinder the evil that he foresaw? is entirely inadmissible. God does not prevent evil, because by so doing, contrary to his own will, he would injure and destroy the province of freedom (the divine image). Thus our Savior did not hinder the murderous blows of his enemies, while at the same time he did not will or excuse them. In like manner, God was Lord over the parents of our race and over the serpent; but if he by his own will restrained his highest power, and left free play-room to free created beings, and still retains the government, he is not therefore destitute of power, but only consistent, and worthy to be adored.
Man should rather complain of hinmself, but give thanks to God that he has endowed him with such prerogatives, and glorify him with soul and body, which are God's. There was no necessity at all to sin; that complaint can only be established on the ground that, as Rothe teaches, evil inevitably developed itself. Besides, from the beginning of the world God had provided for the human race, whose fall he foresaw, the most perfect means of grace and gifts, in order to make that injury abundantly good, and to lead back the fallen ones to himself and his kingdom. Indeed, as all evil, so also must the sin of our first parents redound to the praise of the merciful God, because by it was conditioned the miss sion of the second Adam as the Redeemer of the world, But the possibility of the fall without blame to the Creator being admitted, another question sarises: Through what incitement did it become a reality? Even to this question the Scriptures give a satisfactory answer: it took place through outward prompting through evil spiritual influence, which was already existing in creation. Upon the basis of a breated but still spiritual existence, the possibility of being moved and poisoned by an influence at enmity with God must be admitted. The inexperience of our first parents, who were not isolated in the new world, corresponded exactly witthe subtlety of Satan in the form of a serpent. The kingdom of Satan, as a spiritual power, and the peccability of the first pair, whose pure self-determination was ensnared and obscured through that power, furnish a satisfactory explanation of the fall. The fall itself was certainly a free self-determination, otherwise no blame could attach to it; but not altogether so: both the decision and the guilt were shared by the devil, as the murderer from the beginning: it was a co-operation of human freedom with the temptation of the evil principle itself. But, according to the Scripture account, the temptation of our first parents was gradual, and the motives to the fall are thus psychologically clear. First of asl, the serpent raised a doubt concerning the divine prohibition and the ruinous consequences of sin: 'Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?' 'Ye shall not surely die.' Then he awakened pride, inducing man to overleap his appointed condition to become like God, and to use his freedom arbitrarily, and according to his own pleasure: 'God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' After this preparation came the thought that the tree was good for food, pleasant to look upon, and to be desired to make one wise. The sensual desire would now naturally start up, and the woman seduced became the seducer.
The powers of the soul were corrupted before the actual sin took place; the faculty of knowledge by doubt and unbelief toward God, the faculty of desire through unbounded striving and proud excess, as the Grecian fable of Prometheus represents it; and, finally, the faculty of feeling, through sensual longing, which propensity the religion of the Greeks sets forth .by Epimetheus and Pandora. Thus did the possibility of the fall, which rests upon the freedom of the creature, pass over into reality under evil outward influences. The conversation between Eve and the serpent shows how accessible she was the woman, as the weaker part, is first approached and misled, and not till then the man, and even then only through her; as also the apostle Paul expresses it ( 1 Timothy 2:14), the woman was first in the transgression. Rothe, indeed (page 221), thinks that the assumption of a satanical temptation does not at all help the difficulty, because that assumption always presupposes a real susceptibility of being tempted, a sinful predisposition, a rminimum of sin. But the possibility of being tempted to sin is not yet sin; with Rothe that predisposition is rather something already existing. It is certainly nmuch more worthy of God to conceive of his creatures as pure and good they first determining themselves to evil, and the enemy active therein. If even the Son of God could be tempted without injury to his sinlessness, much more the first Adam, whose personality and divine resemblance were specifically lower. If, in fine, we compare the scriptural theory, thus under'stood, with the modern philosophical explanations of the fall, the result will be that the former will be found to contain incomparably more truth and wisdom than the latter; although Rothe (page 221) is of the opinion that the Biblical account of the fall can no longer be maintained, and that the fall cannot be explained from the Mosaic stand-point. Only the Bible (and perhaps, agreeing with it, the mythology of antiquity) tells us of a man created in the image of God, in a paradisiacal state of innocence; and, in accordance with this fact, .shows how this state was interrupted and perverted into one of guilt.
Dr. Julius Miller, on the contrary, although Paradise has still a place in his system, places Adam in it as already a sinner. In the same way Rothe presupposes what he ought to show, sines he assumes evil as original and necessary in the development of the world. We cannot see, either according to Miiller or Rothe, whence it could properly come into the natural world. Rothe, with his presupposition, is obliged to assume one of two things: either he must dualistically establish an evil principle in matter, and deny the pure creation of God, or he must ascribe the origin of sin, not to the perverted will, but to God himself: in both cases he has a Manicheean life-view of sentient beings. Sin with him is not a free act of man, proceeding out of the heart and will; it springs from the overmatching power of material nature sulb-duing his personality with inevitable necessity (page 226). ‘ The origin of evil from pure good must forever remain inconceivable' (page 222); thus he establishes an impure material creation. Is anything ex-plained by this means? Whence comes, then, impurity into the material creation before all acts of the will? Is not the question more easily explained by the abuse of freedom than by metaphysics; more easily through the devil and man than by the act of the Creator? The fall, according to the doctrine of the Church, says Rothe (page 220), was a blunder in the work of the earthly creation, as it were, at the beginning. In order to avoid this, either an evil principle must have been co-operative in the creation, or else God himself must have ruined his own work at its commencement. Shall we call this escaping the blun. der made at the beginning? Is it not rather increasing it, and carrying it over into the region of the perfect and the holy? The latter of these two opinions, strictly taken, is that of Rothe, since he assumes matter as created by God, and from matter deduces sin. But the positions, Matter was created by God, and Matter is the opposite of God, and hence the origin of sin, contradict each other."
Literature. — Besides the books already cited in this article, see Hagenbach, History of Doctrines; Neander, History of Dogmas; Shedd, History of Christian Doctrine (all under Anthropology); Hase, Evang. Protest. Dogmatik, Lips. 1860, § 71-73; Fletcher, Appeal to Matter of Fact and Common Sense; Doderlein, Inst. Theol. Christ. § 178; Fairbairn, Typology of Scripture, 1:240 sq.; Richers, Schopfungsgeschichte (Leips. 1854, 8vo); Middleton, Essay on the Creation and Fall of Man, Works (1755, 5 volumes), 3:437 sq.; Zeller, Die altests Theodicae (Jena, 1803, 8vo); Coleridge, Aids to Reflection, Intr. 66; Cunningham, Historical Theology, volume 1, chapter 19; Delitzsch, Biblical Psychology (Edinu. 1867), page 147 sq.; Monsell, The Religion of Redemption (Lond. 1867), page 20 sq.; Meth. Quar. Review, October 1867, art. 7.
On the effects of the fall on nature, (See Nature).