Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 7, Enormity of Adam’s sin.

This is one in a series from Jaques-Benigne Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries, and specifically the Fifth Day.  There is more here on the Bossuet Project.

Who can say how enormous the crime of having fallen was, having recently left the hands of God; in such great happiness, in such great happiness of not sinning? Here are already two causes of enormity; the happiness of the state from which all need was banished, and the happiness of persevering in this blessed state, from where all greed, ignorance, error and infirmity were removed. The precept, as we have seen, was only a gentle test of subjection, a slight brake of free will, to make it clear to him that he had a master, but the most benign master, who kindly imposed on him the sweetest and lightest of all yokes. Nevertheless he fell, and Satan was the victor. Although it is hard to know how sin has been able to penetrate, it is enough that man has been drawn from nothingness, to carry his capacity in his roots; it is enough that he listened, that he hesitated to end up at the result.

To these two causes of the enormity of Adam’s sin, let us add to it the extent of such a great crime, which takes into itself all crimes, by spreading in the human race the desire which produces them all; by which he gives death to all his children, who are all men, all of whom he delivers to the devil to slaughter them, and co-operates with him whose son of God said for this reason, that he was a murderer from the beginning. But if he was homicidal, Adam was the parricide of himself and all his children whom he slaughtered, not in the cradle, but in the womb of their mother, and even before birth. He slaughtered his own wife again, because instead of bringing her to the penance that would have saved her, he completes killing her with complacency. O the greatest of all sinners! Who will give you the means to rise from such a dreadful fall? What haven will you find against your conqueror? What goodness will you have? Only the goodness of God; but you can not do it, and this is the most unfortunate effect of your fall: you can only flee God, as we will see, and increase your sin. At least let us at least fear the sin which has conquered us in our strength.

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