EVE BY MRS. S.

G ASHTO

Perhaps no character of earthly history, if we except only our Lord Jesus Christ, gathers about itself so much of interest, calls forth such deep and varying emotions, or affords such important instruction, as does that of our first mother , certainly in no other do we find such marked contrasts, such strange vicissitudes Hers was indeed a checkered life. It could hardly be compared, like ours, to an '* April day;" the clouds were too black and portentous, the sunshine too brilliant. ot on her path shone "a little sun," nor dropped *' a little rain." The effulgence of heaven and the driving tempest were fitter types. To her lips was presented a draught of pure, unalloyed, and perfect happiness. For a few brief days she tasted bliss complete. But the iiup from which she drank through lingering centuries contained dregs of bitterest woe. She listened, delighted, to the thrilhng tooes of nature's harp, touched by Almighty skill,

12 THE MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE. and tuned to nicest harmony ; and on her ear grated the harsh and fearful discord, when the curious strings Avere shattered by her own disobedient hand. To her it was given to look upon life in its perfection, when the earth yielded her luxuriant fruits spontaneously ; when flowers of every hue and thornless roses blossomed about her path ; when animals of various names, obedient to man, and gentle in disposition, gambolled and frisked at her side, and there was none tc molest or make afraid. And she gazed also, in sorrowful amaze, at tlie bitter contrast, when the

ground, cursed for man's sake, brought forth thorns and thistles, and universal war raged among the tribes of the forest. She alone, of all her daughters, enjoyed in its completeness, unmarred and entire, true conjugal bliss. Fairest of them all in person, and most excellent in character, she was most worthy of the love which she received from her husband, such love as no son of Adam has since been able to bestow. But even on this domestic happiness she saw the blighting mildew fall, and her path of life thenceforth, even when trodden by her husband's side,

EVE. 13 led often tb rough dark, and wretched, and jarring scenes. Our mother Eve ! How has her name ever summoned the most conflicting emotions and thoughts, — approval and censure, admiration and contempt, blessing and cursing ! Around her poetry has thrown all its enchantments, portraying her beautiful and lovely beyond compare ; and on her devoted head have the maledictions of a race been showered, as on the most sinful of God's creation. The stern and truth-telling oracles of God, neither charmed by poetry nor swayed by prejudice, present her to us, in one hour exalted, dignified, and holy, the fit companion of man in his best estate, worthy the society of angels, and even of God himself; in the next, fallen, weak and sinful, the victim of Satan's artful wiles, an object of pity to all holy beings, and the wretched subject of divine displeasure. EVE AS A MOTHER. We might follow the contrasts presented in

Eve's history to any extent, or dwell upon the absorbing topics afforded by her state of primeval 2

14 THE MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE innocence in Eden ; for it is there we best lovo ta contemplate her. But our design leads us elsewhere. We wish to study her character as a mother ; to look upon her in relation to her own immediate family, and gather such lessons as we may from the " brief memorial" which the sacred writer has left on record concerning her. The picture is not a bright one. Guilt and fear have drawn the outline, and a violated law has hung the heavens with dark and threatening gloom. Yet it is not all dark. Despair has not been permitted to touch it with her death-dyed pencil. Hope shows here and there an opening in the clouds ; and Faith, best messenger from God to sinful men, has hung it where celestial rays stream brightly upon it, and insensibly draw the gazer's thoughts upward to their source — to Him who in the midst of judgment still remembers mercy, and who would thus point erring creatures to a dwelling in his own abode of eternal light. It is no longer Paradise, but an earthly home, upon which we look. It was, without doubt, a rude and simple habitation wdiich Adam and Eve first tenanted. Perhaps it was provided, as w<is

EVE. ' 15 their first clothing, by the immediate care of God

However this may be, it served for shelter and repose, and was to them a home. From this spot Adam went daily forth to earn by the sweat of his brow their needed subsistence, leaving Eve to her lighter but not less necessary toil. Here, day after day, she pursued her avocations, and com muned with her own thoughts. Already had the dreaded curse commenced its work. Often sad and dispirited, weary, weak and suffering, filled with forebodings of the future, pressed by sore regret for the past, alarmed by unwonted distress in all her frame, she began to understand tho meaning of those fearful words, "I will greatly multiply the sorrow of thy conception.'' Added to this, with her, doubtless, ever abode a deep feeling of sinfulness, a consciousness of innocence departed, a bitter remembrance of what she had been, and a humiliating sense of her altered character. The serenity of mind, the integrity of purpose, the purity of soul, were gone forever; and, worse than all, she knew, she felt, that her children would inherit, not her glory, but her Bin and shame. Our deepest sympathies are

IG THE MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE. called forth as we behold her thus. But even then all was not darkness in her soul. The same voice that pronounced the curse had also promised deliverance from it, and that deliverance was to come to her as a mother. Expecting this, Eve probably looked forward to the birth of the first human child with such emotions as no mother has since experienced. At length the day came. '' She brought forth her first-born son," We can imagine something of the joy and gratitude which followed her

anguish, as with her husband she gazed upon the helpless being. A mother's instincts taught her, all inexperienced and unaided as she was, to care for its wants and support its feebleness. How many exclamations of surprise and admiration and affection were bestowed on this first infint, we do not know. The theme of many an earnest conversation, an object of ever-increasing interest, we feel that his coming brought new happiness to the sad hearts of his parents, and was to them a proof that God, though justly displeased, was still their friend, even as in their sinless days. Only one expression from his mother's lips is recorded,

EVE. 17 but that reveals a hidden worhl of thought: ''I have gotten a man from the Lord." Poor Eve ! how many experiences of hope deferred were yet to be her portion ! How bitter was to be her disappointment now I The Lord had promised that her seed shouhl bruise the serpent's head, and she verily thought this had been he. Time passed on, and she was the mother of another son ; and we infer from the sacred narrative, though no direct mention is made of them, that daughters also graced this first human home. Here we wish for more light. We long for some account of that family circle. We can hardl}' rest satisfied to know so little on a subject which interests us so deeply. We can, indeed, imagine them a bright and happy group, and picture to ourselves their probable circumstances. But we have a thousand questions to ask, and especially concerning their mother's daily instructions and care. Exhaustless themes w^e know she had on which to dwell, and we are persuaded that she

lost no opportunity of impressing the lessons which she had learned by bitter experience. We Beem to see their animated looks as she described 2*

18 THE MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE. the beauty and glory of her Eden hume ; and the awe which would steal over their young faces, as with sorrowing heart she told them of the sin of their parents, and of Jehovah's displeasure, which banished them thence. We can deem that they were never weary of listening to the oft-told but ever- wonderful tale. V/e can understand, too, that Adam and Eve both regarded with intense anxiety the unfolding minds and hearts of their children. To any true mother the development of character in her child is a source of deepest solicitude. But how earnestly must Eve have watched from day to day the working of that deadly poison which her ovv^n folly had infused . What joy must have been hers when she saw a disposition to love and obey their Maker in any of her little flock ! and we can well believe that, as she marked evil tempers and rebellious passions, " Her smitten conscience felt as sharp a pain As if she fell from innocence again." Over these scenes of daily life — over her hopes and fears, her cares and sorrows — the veil

EVE. 19 of oblivion has fallen. We ask in vain concern-

ing them all. We shall never know, until we meet our first mother in heaven, what we would most wish to learn. Through long, long centuries her life was lengthened out. She sav>^ her loved and gentle Abel all ghastly in death, murdered by him who at his birth was to her the promised of the Lord. She saw many sons and daughters around her, and their descendants for nearly a thousand years. She saw the earth filled with violence and wickedness, and beheld her own children debased by idolatry, and wilfully ignorant of the God whose presence she and her husband had so often welcomed as their chiefest joy, the crow^ning delight of Paradise. Bitter proofs of Satan's malignant influence she saw on every side 5 but it was not permitted her to hail the Deliverer, for whom she still, without doubt, continued to look until her eyes were dim, and hei form was bowed with age. But the evening came to her, which sooner or later comes to all. The shadows of death fell upon her, and in some spot of earth she has a grave. When, or where, or how she died, we are

20 THE MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE. not told, nor whether she departed in peace. Bui we receive the impression, we scarcely know how, perhaps from her exclamation at the birth of Cain, that she died in the faith of a Redeemer. We feel, as we have said, that he was her lifelong hope, and we expect to meet her in that higher and more delightful Paradise, whose joys have long since compensated her for the sorrows of earth. We have but briefly and faintly shadowed forth

lome of the thoughts which suggest themselves as we study the history of Eve. One lesson we would gather, and our labor shall not then be vain. We would learn from her to estimate the true value of the favor of God. That favor she once enjoyed. In the eyes of the infinite Jehovah she was sinless and pure, and beneath his smile her days were passed. Bright days they were, of unmingled bliss. How wretched and heart-sick must she have been when the smile was withdrawn, and her disobedience had brought in its stead a frovv^n of displeasure ! We who have lived from our infancy in the cold atmosphere of a revolted world amid griefs, and pains, and

EVE. 21 death, and who ever look upon second causes, can understand little of the connection which Eve saw between transgression and its consequences. To her, the approbation of God was only another name for all her joy in Eden, and his displeasure was the immediate source of every sorrow she endured. Let us endeavor ourselves to appreciate this truth more fully than we have ever done, and teach it in all its extent to oui children. " His favor is life ; his loving-kindness is better than life."

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