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Verses of Genesis 3

11

Genesis 3:11 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

DISCOURSE: 6
EXCUSES MADE BY OUR FIRST PARENTS, AFTER THEIR FALL

Gen 3:11-13. Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

THE immediate effects of sin are not easily discovered by us at this time: for if we look for them in ourselves, our partiality and self-love conceal them from us; and if we look for them in others, the universal prevalence of those effects prevents us from ascribing them to their proper cause. To see them in their true colours, we should be able to contrast the habits of some person during a state of innocence with those which he manifests after the commission of sin. Doubtless there are glaring instances of iniquity, from the investigation of which we may gather instruction: but we shall make our observations to the greatest advantage, if we examine the records respecting the conduct of our first parents after their unhappy fall. The accounts given of them are not indeed very full and circumstantial; yet the narration, brief as it is, is sufficient to elucidate the immediate influence of sin upon the mind, as well as its remoter consequences in the destruction of the soul. There are two things in particular which we shall be led to notice from the words before us;

I.

The way in which men betray their consciousness of guilt—

Mark the conduct of our first parents. While they were innocent, they were strangers either to shame or fear: but instantly after their transgression, they made coverings for themselves of fig-leaves, and fled from the presence of their God. Here we may behold ourselves as in a glass: they have set a pattern to us which all their posterity have followed: however men may affect to be innocent, they all be-tray their consciousness of guilt in these two things;

1.

They conceal themselves from themselves, and from each other—

[Knowing that their hearts are depraved, and that, if narrowly inspected, they would exhibit a most disgusting appearance, men will not turn their eyes inwards. They will not examine the motives and principles of their actions: they cast a veil over the workings of pride and ambition, of envy and malice, of falsehood and covetousness, of carnality and selfishness: and then, because they see no evil in their actions, they hastily conclude there is none. And so successful are they in hiding from themselves their own deformity, that when all around them are even amazed at the impropriety of their conduct, they take credit to themselves for virtuous principles and laudable deportment.
If we should attempt to open their eyes, and to set before them their own picture, they would not even look at it, but would be offended with our fidelity, and condemn us as destitute of either charity or candour.
Now, would men act in this manner if they had not a secret consciousness that all was not right within? Would they not rather be glad of any assistance whereby they might discover any latent evil; or, at least, be glad to “come to the light, that their deeds might be made manifest that they were wrought in God?”
There is the still greater anxiety in men to hide their shame from each other. The whole intercourse of mankind with each other is one continued system of concealment. All endeavour to impose on others, by assuming the appearances of virtue; but no one will give credit to his neighbour for being as guiltless in his heart as he seems to be in his conduct. A thorough knowledge of a person whose principles have been tried, will indeed gain our confidence: but who has so good an opinion of human nature in general as to commit his wife or daughter to the hands of a perfect stranger; or to give him unlimited access to all his treasures; or even to take his word, where he can as easily obtain a legal security? But, if men were not conscious of depravity within themselves, why should they be so suspicious of others? The fact is, they know themselves to have many corrupt propensities; and justly concluding that human nature is the same in all, they feel the necessity of withholding confidence where they have not been warranted by experience to place it.]

2.

They shun, rather than desire, the presence of their God—

[God comes to all of us in his word, and speaks to us in the language of love and mercy: He bids us to draw nigh to Him, and to enjoy “fellowship with him, and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” But are these employments suited to the taste of all? or do the habits of the generality evince any regard for these inestimable privileges? Nay, if we endeavour to set God before them, and to make known to them his will, do they consider us as their friends and benefactors? They may bear with us, indeed, in the exercise of our public ministry: but will they be pleased, if we come home to their houses, and labour to bring them, as it were, into the presence of their God? Will they not be ready to say to us, as the demoniac did to Christ, “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time;” or, like the Jews of old, “Prophesy unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits; make the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us?”
Now would this be the conduct of men, if they were not conscious of much guilt within? Would a man who had just received gold from the mint, be afraid of having it tried by a touchstone? or one who was perfectly innocent of a crime, be afraid of being interrogated in relation to it? Would not rather the knowledge of God be desirable to one who had no wish but to perform his will? Would he not account it his highest happiness to gain an increasing acquaintance with his Saviour, and a more entire conformity to his image?]
When the guilt of men can no longer be concealed, they have many refuges of lies to which they flee; to expose which, we shall shew,

II.

The way in which they endeavour to palliate and excuse it—

Our first parents confessed indeed their transgression, but in a way which clearly shewed, that they were not humbled for it. Thus, when we cannot deny our guilt,

1.

We cast it upon others—

[Doubtless we all are accessory to the production of much guilt in others: and it is well to take shame to ourselves in that view. But to take occasion from this to excuse our own wickedness, is only to add sin to sin. Yet who does not betake himself to this refuge? Mark persons in the early stage of life; they will deny their faults as long as there remains for them any hope of concealment; and, when they are clearly detected, they will do their utmost to shift the blame off from themselves: according to the nature of the crime alleged, they will impute it to accident, or inadvertence, or mistake, or, like our first parents, to the instigation and example of their accomplices. What is the disposition which shews itself in persons of riper years, when they are called to account for any evil that they have committed, or when their angry passions have involved them in dispute and quarrel: is it not the endeavour of each to criminate the other, in hopes thereby to exculpate himself? Or when no particular ill-will is exercised towards others, is not the same system prevalent; and do not men justify their own conduct from the habits and examples of those around them? But what folly is this! Did the Serpent compel Eve to eat the fruit? or was Adam necessitated to follow her example? They were free agents in what they did: and they should have rejected with abhorrence the first proposals of sin, however specious they might be, and by whomsoever they might be made. And in the same manner, it is no excuse to us that the ways of iniquity are crowded; for we are to withstand the solicitations that would allure us from God, and stem the torrent that would drive us from him.]

2.

We cast it even upon God himself—

[There is peculiar force in those words of Adam, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat:” it is no less than a reflection upon God himself for giving him the woman; and a casting of the blame upon him as accessory at least to his fall, if not also as the original cause of it. It is thus also that we account for our transgressions from the peculiar circumstances in which we are placed, and thus ascribe them rather to the dispensations of Providence, than to our own willful depravity. One is poor, and therefore has not leisure to consult the welfare of his soul; or is under the authority of others, and cannot serve God without subjecting himself to their displeasure. Another is rich, and cannot deviate so far from the habits of the world, as to conform to the precise rules which God has prescribed. In this manner, persons endeavour to persuade themselves that a life of entire devotedness to God is incompatible with their worldly duties; and that their deviations or defects are rather their misfortune than their fault. Some indeed will be yet more bold in accusing God; and, when condemned for giving the rein to their appetites, will say, ‘Why did God give me these passions? I cannot act otherwise than I do.’

How far these excuses will avail in the day of judgment, it becomes every one to consider with fear and trembling. They may stifle the accusations of a guilty conscience now; but there is not a man in the universe so stupid as seriously to believe that his conscience will acquit him at the tribunal of his God.]

We shall conclude with an address,
1.

To those who are unhumbled for their sins—

[Some are so impious, that “they declare their sin as Sodom: the very shew of their countenance witnesses against them.” To such persons we say with the prophet, “Woe unto them [Note: Isa 3:9.] !” Nor can we deliver any milder message to those who “cover their transgressions, as Adam, and hide their iniquity in their bosom [Note: Job 31:33]:” for God’s word to them is plain; “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. [Note: Pro 28:13.] ” It is absolutely indispensable that we humble ourselves before God, and that we repent in dust and ashes. God has noted our transgressions, whether we have observed them or not: for “there is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves [Note: Job 34:22.].” God is extremely earnest in endeavouring to impress this thought upon our minds [Note: Isa 29:15 with Amo 9:2-3.]. It is equally certain that we cannot impose upon him by any vain excuses. The day is coming, when he will not only ask in general, “Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” but will interrogate us, as he did Eve, with holy indignation, saying, “What is this that thou hast done?” Art thou aware of its malignity? art thou prepared to meet the consequences? O let us, every one of us, humble ourselves before him, while yet the effects of his displeasure may be averted from us: but if yet we remain impenitent and stout-hearted, a sudden and irremediable destruction shall come upon us [Note: Pro 29:1.].]

2.

To those whose hearts are beginning to relent—

[Do not think that a small and transient humiliation is sufficient. If you could weep “rivers of tears,” it would be no more than the occasion calls for. You may perhaps comfort yourselves with the thought of not having committed many or great offences: but consider what it was that brought guilt and ruin upon the whole race of mankind; it was not many offences, but one; nor was it what would appear to us a very heinous sin, but only the violation of a positive precept, the eating of a forbidden fruit: reflect on this, and you will derive little consolation from the thought that you are not so bad as others. But, whether your sins have been more or less heinous, there is one Refuge, and only one, to which you must flee for safety. The refuge provided for our first parents was, “The seed of the woman, who was in due time to bruise the serpent’s head.” The same is provided for you. Jesus was born into the world for this very end: He has made a full atonement for your sin: and if “only you acknowledge your transgressions,” and believe in him, they shall be “remembered against you no more for ever.”]


Verses of Genesis 3

11

Consult other comments:

Genesis 3:11 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 3:11 - Calvin's Complete Commentary

Genesis 3:11 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Genesis 3:11 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 3:11 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Genesis 3:11 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Genesis 3:11 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 3:11 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Genesis 3:11 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Genesis 3:11 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 3:11 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Genesis 3:11 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)