Lewis County, Wash., Aug. 2, 1901
DEAR BROTHER CHICK: – I will send you some thoughts for the SIGNS upon man, God, redemption and Satan, in connection with the words, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree?” The subtle essence of all moral evil is in the words just copied, with all the subtilty of the carnal reasoning of Satan. Thus Satan attempted the work of seduction and corruption of the mother of mankind; in the garden of Eden. It is needless to speculate about the origin of the devil, or to inquire beyond the fact that he was there in the presence of the woman, who was innocent and upright. She had been pronounced very good, and had received in Adam the law of God. She was convinced of the truth of the righteousness of the law as a sovereign mandate of God her Creator and Judge; and in reply to the consciousness of truth, unexpressed as yet by the woman, the artful serpent as yet by the woman, the artful serpent essays to transfuse his own evil and subtle spirit into her innocent being, into the secret thoughts of her mind and the passions of her heart, corrupting them, as regards the knowledge of the truth which was in her mind, in the sense of creature intelligence.
It seems that Satan answers in the affirmative, admitting the fact in the saying, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree?” He answers her words, as yet unspoken, which were still in truth and loyalty to her sovereign God. The words of the serpent imply that notwithstanding the perfect liberty to eat of all other trees in the garden, God has forbidden one, and in this one there is an abridgment of freedom, and in this God has reserved to himself the seal of power and divine judgment, saying to man in substance, Thou art not free to think, act and choose for yourself concerning good and evil. The woman now put her thoughts into words, as the serpent expected, and said, We may eat of all the trees but one in the midst of the garden. This commands the center of the domain of Eden, and reserves the right of God to rule over all within the domain of Adam. But, calling in question the right of God to rule alone in the garden, we have the words of Satan, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shalt not eat of every tree?” He now impeaches the truth of God in answer to the cogent and reasonable words of the woman, and says, God doth know that thou shalt not surely die, and thus he thought to transfuse his own spirit of falsehood into the woman by accusing God of falsehood. He then follows with subtle rage the next step, denying in the mind of the woman that unity of the Godhead and that power which nature itself declares, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, saying, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” That is to say, Ye shall be able of yourselves to judge in matters concerning good and evil without accountability to God, or to his judgment as regards the penalty of his law which has said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” In these words of Satan we have a very clear statement of the Armininan doctrine of free-will agency in its essence. No theologian can lay down a more complete and comprehensive statement in as few words, thus crystallizing the whole in one expression of human phraseology. If we take these words in their legal bearing even in the courts of men, we shall see that a man cannot be free to violate the terms of his agency; then how much less in the court of heaven. This system of free agency is the basic principle of every false religion, all of which emanates from the father of lies; and these things are the lies of which he is the father, if I know anything of the use of language, or the force of law as an enactment of men, or as a divine decree of judgment, inflicting a penalty. The words, “Thou shalt not,” hold the subject of them bound. “Thou mayest,” is a sovereign grant, but without independence.
To sum it all up, in the garden the creature man was surrounded by the most favorable conditions, and there proved himself to be a fallible being, and recreant to every trust, under temptation by the enemy, the devil. Under the covenant of works man showed himself entirely unable to redeem himself from the snare of the devil by all the works or offerings which he could offer to God, with Moses and the prophets to lead and show him the way. Man made a stupendous failure all the way along, leaving God in full power, and giving full opportunity to grace to save Israel through the operation of the divine plan alone, to his everlasting glory.
As ever your brother,
I. N. NEWKIRK
Signs Of The Times
Volume 72., No. 23.
DECEMBER 1, 1904.