This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for July 7 2019. I have also written an article which introduces the poem and its author more fully. If you would like to read this you can find it here.
Over the past while I’ve had the opportunity to read and reflect on an epic poem written by an English puritan woman that reflects on Genesis 1-3. I have really valued the way she uses poetry to develop themes and ideas from Scripture as she progresses through Genesis.
Below is one section that I thought was rather good. It uses the temptation of Eve by the serpent (Gen. 3:6) to dwell on how serious an affair sin truly is. The way she does this dispels the mistaken notion that Eve and Adam’s sin was just the simple breaking of some arbitrary rule, by drawing out some of the inner motivations to sin.
Eve quickly caught in the soul hunter’s net, / Believed that death was only a vain threat. / Her unbelief quenching religious dread, / Infectious counsel in her bosom bred, / Dissatisfaction with her present state / And fond ambition of a godlike height. / Who now applies herself to its pursuit, / With longing eyes looks on the lovely fruit, / First nicely plucks, then eats with full delight, / And gratifies her murderous appetite. / Poisoned with the sweet relish of her sin, / before her inward torturing pangs begin, / The pleasure to her husband she commends, / And he by her persuasion too offends, / As by the serpent’s she before had done.
There are a few things worth noticing. The first line sets us up to view Eve (and ourselves?) as a victim, but what follows shatters that luxury: we who sin are no hapless innocents. Unbelief and pride are given prominent roles among the motivations to the deed: it is this that is the self-destructive root of humanity’s greatest problem. The seductively pleasing delight of sin is also highlighted – as well as its noroviral desserts. Dwell on these words. Sin is more terrible than we understand or acknowledge, but not more deep than the mercy of the God we dismiss and disobey. While there is life, there is hope, and his love forgives all.