Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 11, Eve’s torment and how it is changed into a cure.

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.

The Lord said to this woman: I will multiply your calamities and your births; you will give birth in pain. Fertility is the glory of women; it is there that God puts his torment: it is only at the risk of her life that she is fertile. This torture is not peculiar to women; the human race is completely cursed from conception and birth, confusion and pain, and on all sides surrounded by torment and death. The child can not be born without putting his mother in danger; neither can the husband become a father without risking the most precious half of his life. Eve is unhappy and cursed of all her sex whose children are so often murderers; she was made to be to man a sweet companion, his consolation, and to make the sweetness of his life; she was proud of this goal, but God mixed in subjection, and it changed this sweet superiority he had first given to man into a bitter domination. He was superior by reason, he becomes a severe master by temper; his jealousy makes him a tyrant: the woman is subject to this fury, and in more than half the earth, women are in a kind of slavery. This hard empire of husbands and this yoke to which the woman is subjected is an effect of sin. Weddings are as often a torture as a sweet liaison; and one is a hard cross to the other, and a torment of which they cannot be delivered from: united and separated, we torment each other. In the spiritual sense, they are born only with difficulty; all the productions of the spirit cost him; worries shorten our days: everything that is desirable is laborious.

By the redemption of the human race Eve’s torment changes into grace. His first punishment made his fertility perilous; but grace, as says St. Paul, makes that she is saved by the production of children. If her life is there exposed, her salvation is assured, provided that she is faithful to what she is asked to be, that is to say that she remains in the conjugal faith, in a chaste love of her husband, in sanctification and piety, as natural to her sex; banning the vanities of adornment and all softness, by sobriety, moderation and temperance, as the same Saint Paul adds.

Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 10, More Excuses.

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.

And God said to Eve, Why did you do that? She replied: The serpent deceived me. But why did you let yourself be fooled? Did you not have all your free will and grace at the same time? Why did you listen? Conviction was easy; but God leaves the effect to the conscience of Eve; and turning towards the snake, whose pride and stubbornness did not allow him to apologize without asking why, as he had done to Adam and Eve, he told him decisively and simply: because you you did it, you will be cursed among all the animals: you will walk on your stomach, and the earth will be your food. Here are three characters of the serpent; to be in execration and horror more than all other animals; it is also the character of Satan, whom everyone curses, to walk on his stomach, to have only low thoughts, and, what amounts to the same thing, to feed on the ground, it is to say, of earthly and corporeal thoughts, since his entire task is to be our tempter, and to plunge us into flesh and blood. What follows further illustrates the character of the devil, who is forced to bear wounds behind and below. This is what God explains with these words: You will trap him with snares and bite his heel. As, therefore, the characteristics of the devil were to be represented by those of the serpent, God, who foresaw it, determined him to use this animal to speak to Eve, so that being in the image of the devil by his snares, he then represented the punishment; so that these characters, which we have just designated, are associated in parable with the serpent and in truth with the devil.

Consider for a moment how God brings down this proud spirit, swollen with his victory over mankind. Which other has won so completely? By a single stroke, the whole human race becomes the captive of this proud winner. Praise yourself for your conquests, mortal conquerors: God who has humbled the Serpent in the midst of his triumph will beat you down.

Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 9, The Order of God’s Justice.

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.

Here we must compare the order of the crime with the order of divine justice. The crime begun by the serpent is continued in Eve, and is finished in Adam; but the order of divine justice is to attack the head first. This is why he first attacks the man, in whom was, in the fullness of strength and grace, the fullness of disobedience and ingratitude. It was to him that the totality of original grace was attached; it was to him that the great gifts had been communicated; and to him that the great precept had been given and signified: it is through him that God begins; the examination then passes to the woman, it ends in the snake, and nothing escapes its censure.

Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 8, The presence of God is fearful for sinners: our first parents increase their crime by seeking excuses.

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.

As God was walking in paradise (for, for the reasons that have been said, we saw that he appeared to them under visible figures), they heard the noise. Adam and Eve hid in front of the face of the Lord, in the thickness of the wood of paradise. And the Lord God called Adam and said to him, Where are you? And Adam said unto him, I have heard the noise of your presence in paradise, and I feared it, because I was naked, and hid myself. And God said to him, But who showed you that you were naked, except that you ate the fruit that I had forbidden you?

It is said in Scripture that God was walking in the air at noon. These things, in themselves so appropriate to the majesty of God and to the idea of ​​perfection which he has given us of himself, warn us to resort to the spiritual sense. The midday, which is the time of the great heat of the day, signifies the burning heat of the justice of God, when it comes to avenge sinners, and when it is said that God, in this heat, walks outdoors, that is to day he tempers by kindness the intolerable heat of his judgment; for it was already a beginning of kindness to be willing to take Adam back, instead that, without taking him back, he could throw him into the underworld, as he did to the rebellious angel. Adam had not yet learned to take advantage of these reproaches, to breathe in this softer air: full of the terrors of his conscience, he hides in the forest and dares not appear before God.

We have seen the sinful man who can not suffer himself; but his nakedness is never more frightful to him than in relation, not to himself, but to God, before whom everything is naked and uncovered, to the innermost crevices of his conscience. Against such penetrating eyes, leaves are not enough. Adam searches for the thick forests, and yet he can not find something that will cover. It must not be imagined that he thought he could escape the invisible eyes of God. At least he tried to save himself from his visible presence, which had too much of a hold on him, just as those who will shout at the last judgment will do: “Mountains, fall on us; hills, bury us.” But the voice of God pursues him. Adam, where are you? How far from God and from yourself, in what an abyss of evil, in what miseries, in what ignorance, in what deplorable distraction!

At this voice, astonished, and not knowing where to go: I hid myself, he said, because I was naked. But who told you that you were naked, the Lord said, except that you ate forbidden fruit? Adam said to him, “The woman whom you have given for a companion has given me fruit, and I have eaten it.” It is here that excuses begin: vain excuses that do not cover the crime and discover pride and rudeness. If Adam, if Eve had humbly confessed their fault, who knows how far God’s mercy would have been? But Adam casts the blame on the woman, and the woman on the serpent, instead of only accusing their free will. Such frivolous excuses were represented by the fig leaves, by the thickness of the forest, which they thought they would cover them. But God shows the vanity of their excuse. What is the use of the man to say: The woman you gave me for a companion? He seems to attack God himself. But had God given him that woman to be the companion of his disobedience? Should he not govern her, straighten her? It is therefore the height of the crime, far from confessing it, to want to blame it on his unhappy companion, and on God himself who had given her to him.

Let us not seek an excuse for our crimes; do not cast them aside on the weak part which is in us. Let us confess that reason should preside over and dominate his appetites. Let us not seek to cover ourselves: put ourselves before God; it may be then that his goodness will cover us with himself, and that we will be of those of whom it is written: Blessed are those whose iniquities have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered!

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.

Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 6, Adam and Eve perceived their nudity.

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.

And immediately their eyes were opened; and being certain that they were nude, they covered themselves with fig leaves sewn together, and made themselves a girdle; the original door, clothing around the loins. Alas! we begin to dare not speak of what followed in our history, where it begins to seem to us something that modest lips cannot express, and that chaste ears cannot hear. Scripture wraps itself up here and only tells us a hint about what our first parents felt. Hitherto their innocent nudity did not trouble them. Do you want to know what it did to them? Consider that they covered themselves, and with what. It is not against the wounds of the air that they cover themselves with leaves; God gave them skin for this purpose and clothed them himself. Here it is only the eyes and their own eyes that they want to protect themselves.They need only leaves, only they have chosen larger and thicker ones so that the eye can pierce them less. They perceived it for themselves, and so their eyes are open. They were not blind before, as some interpreters have believed; would have been, Adam would neither have seen the animals or even Eve whom he named, nor Eve have seen either the snake or the fruit. Say then that their eyes were opened to them, it is an honest and modest way to express that they felt their nudity, and it was by this means that they began, in their misfortune, to know evil. In a word, their spirit, that had risen against God, could no longer contain the body to which it was to command. And here, unrestrained after their sin, is the cause of shame that until then they did not know. Let us wrap this up, so as not to return to this shameful disorder. We are all born of it, and it is by this that our birth and conception, that is to say, the very source of our being, is infected by original sin. O God! where are we, and from what state are we fallen!

Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 5, The temptation and the fall of Adam. Reflections of Saint Paul.

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.

Eve took the fruit and ate it, and gave it to her husband who ate it. Adam’s temptation and fall pass in a few words. The first and most beautiful commentary we have on this matter is this one from St. Paul: Adam was not seduced, and Eve was seduced in her prevarication. It must be understood in two senses that Adam was not seduced. He was not seduced, first of all, because it was not to him that the seducer first attacked; secondly, he was not seduced, because at first, as the holy doctors interpret it, he yielded rather to Eve by complacency rather than be convinced by his reasons. The holy interpreters, and, among others, St. Augustine, expressly say that he did not wish to grieve this one and dear companion, conjugali necessitudini paruisse, nor to leave in his domestic and in the future mother of all his children an eternal obstacle. In the end, however, he gave into seduction; forewarned by his complacency, he himself began to taste the reasons of the snake and conceived the same hopes as his wife, since it was only through him that they had to pass to all his children, where they made all the ravages that we still see among us.

Adam believed that he would know good and evil, and that his curiosity would be satisfied. Adam believed that he would be like a God, author by his free will of the false happiness which he affected, which satisfied his pride; from where he fell into the revolt of the senses, he sought to flatter them in the exquisite taste of the forbidden fruit. Who knows if then, already corrupt, Eve did not start to sound too pleasant? Woe to the man who can please himself in something other than God! All pleasures besiege him, and, either in turn or all together, they make it law. Be that as it may, the sequel will make it appear that the two spouses became a trap one to the other; and their union, which ought to have been always honest had they persevered in their innocence, had something of which modesty and honesty were both offended.

Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 4, Answer of Eve and reply of Satan who reveals himself.

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.

We eat all the fruits of paradise; but, for the tree in the middle, God forbade us to eat the fruit and touch it, on pain of death. Such was Eve’s answer, where there is nothing but truth, since she only repeats the command and words of the Lord. It is therefore not a question of answering well or of saying good things, but of saying them appropriately. Eve ought not to have spoken at all to a tempter who came to her to ask for reasons of a supreme command, which was only to obey, and not to reason. How many times have we been deceived? While saying good things, we talk with temptation; but we must end business at once. It was the case, not to discuss, but to practice the commandment of God, and to be careful, under the pretext of giving reason to the seducer, not to prolong the time of seduction. The Son of God has given us another example in the time of his own temptation. The words of the Scripture which he alleges are not an dialogue for reason with the tempter, but a specific refusal, with this denouncement: Go away, Satan, to the place that curious Eve wishes to reason, and to hear the reasoning of the serpent.

So he also sees his strength inpereptively increase. As he saw that Eve was dazzled by the novelty, and already entered into the doubt that he wanted to suggest to her, he does not hold back any more and he says to her bluntly: You will not die, because God knows that in the day that you eat of this fruit, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil. He insinuated by these words that God had attached to the fruit of this tree a divine virtue by which man would be enlightened on all things that could make him good or bad, happy or unhappy. And then, he says, by so beautiful a knowledge, you will become so perfect, that you will be like gods. In this way, he flatters pride, he piques and excites curiosity. Eve begins to look at this forbidden fruit, and it is a beginning of disobedience, for the fruit that God forbade touching should not even be looked at complacently. She saw, says the Scripture, that it was attractive at sight, good to eat, pleasant to see, and she forgot nothing that could satisfy her. It is to desire to be seduced more than to be attentive to the beauty and taste of what had been forbidden. Here she is occupied with the beauties of this forbidden object, and convinced that God was too severe to prohibit them the use of such a beautiful thing, not dreaming that sin does not consist in using things bad by their nature, since God had neither done nor could do such, but to misuse the good. The tempter did not fail to join the suggestion and, so to speak, the whistling inside to outside, and he tried to light the desire that Eve had not known before. But as soon as she began to listen and reason on such a precise command, to this beginning of infidelity, one can believe that God also began to precisely withdraw his grace, and that the desire of the senses followed closely the disorder that Eve had already voluntarily introduced into her mind. So she ate fruit, and the serpent remained victorious. He did not push the temptation from the outside further; and, content to have instructed and persuaded his ambassador, he left the rest to seduced Eve. Notice that he had spoken to her not only for her, but also for her husband, not saying to her: You will be, and: Why did God forbid you? but: You will be like gods, and: Why did you make this prohibition? The devil was not mistaken in believing that this word carried by Eve to Adam would have more effect than if he had borne it himself. So, at one blow, three great wounds. Pride came in with these words: You will be like gods; These too: You will know the good and the bad, they excited curiosity; and these attentive glances at the pleasure and good taste of this beautiful fruit brought into the marrow the love of the pleasure of the senses. Here are the three general maladies of our nature with which we are afflicted; and St. John has put them together in these words: Do not love the world or all that is in the world, because all that is in the world is the desire of the flesh, that is to say, manifestly the sensuality, or desire of the eyes, which is curiosity, or finally the ambition and pride spread throughout all life, which are the proper names of the third vice, with which nature and human life are infected.

Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 3, The tempter proceeds by underhanded questioning to first produce a doubt.

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.

Why did the Lord forbid you to eat from this tree? and a little after: You will not die. The result of these words shows that he wanted to mislead Eve; but if he had first set forth to her the error in which he wished to lead her, a manifest contradiction to the command and word of God, he would have inspired her more with horror than with the desire to listen to him; but before proposing the error, he begins with the doubt: Why did the Lord forbid you? He dares not say: He has deceived you, his precept is not right, his word is not true; he asks, he questions, as if to be educated himself, rather than to instruct the one he wanted to surprise. He could not begin at a more insinuating or delicate place.

Eve’s first mistake is to have listened to him, and. to have entered with him in reasoning. As soon as he tried to make her doubt God’s truth and justice, she ought to have closed her ear and withdraw. But the subtlety of the request made her curious, and so she entered into conversation and perished there. The first fault of those who are wandering, either by the error of the spirit or by seduction, and the misleading of their sense, is to doubt. Satan says, every day, to the heretics and to all who are drawn into their pleasures and passions, this unfortunate Why; and if he succeeded against Eve before concupiscence and passions, is it any wonder that he has such prodigious success with this method? Let us flee, flee, from the first Why, from the first doubt that begins to form in our mind: plug the ear; for, as long as we waver, we will perish.

Elevations On The Temptation And Fall Of Man: 2, The temptation. Eve is attacked before Adam.

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.

Lord, make me understand the depths of Satan and the unbounded intricacies of this spirit, which you have been pleased to preserve all its subtlety, all its depth, all the natural superiority of the genius it has over us, to be used in the trials into which you wish to place our loyalty, and to make known magnificently the power of your grace.

This is the first work of this dark spirit. His evil and jealousy lead him to destroy the man whom God had made so perfect and so happy, and to subjugate him to whom God had given so much power over all bodily creatures, so that, unable to overthrow the throne of God himself, he overthrows him as much as he can through the man whom God has raised to such a high power.

We must, then, consider how he succeeded in this work, in order to know how we are to resist him, and to raise ourselves from our fall, that is to say, to raise up again in us the overthrown dominion of God.

We were, indeed, below the angel; but, as we have seen, a little below, for we were equal in the happiness of possessing the sovereign good; and, like an angel, we had intelligence and free will, aided by grace, and capable, with that grace, of rising to that blessed joy. We could easily resist Satan, who had lost grace and wanted to make us lose it also. No matter how much advantage he had in the way of intelligence, far from being able to force us, the grace which we had, and which he had rejected and entirely lost by his fault, rendered us his superior in strength and virtue. Thus he could do nothing against us except by persuasion, and it also flattered his pride to subdue our minds to his by skill, to trap us in the snares which he held out to us.

The first effect of this artifice is to have tempted Adam through Eve, and to have begun to attack us through the weaker part. However perfect she was made in body and still more in sprit, when the first woman immediately emerged from the hands of God, she was, according to the body, only a portion of Adam, and a diminutive type. It was in proportion nearly to the same spirit, for God directed in his work a wisdom which arranged all things with a certain propriety. It was not Eve, but Adam who named the animals: it was to Adam and not to Eve that he had brought them. If Eve, like her beloved companion, had participated in her dominion, it remained to the man a primacy which he could lose only by his fault and by an excess of complacency. He had given the name to Eve, as he had given it to all animals, and nature meant that it was somehow subject to him. It was, therefore, in him, the superiority of wisdom; and Satan comes to attack him by the weakest place, and, so to speak, the least fortified.

If this artifice succeeds in this mischievous spirit, it is not surprising that he continues it, and that he is still trying to defeat man by women, though in another way; because he did not yet have desire. He raised up his own wife against Job, and raised against him this domestic enmity, to try his patience. Tobias, who was to be after him the model of this virtue, had in his house a similar persecution. The greatest kings have fallen by this artifice. Who does not know the fall of David and Solomon? Who can forget the weakness of Herod and the murderess of St. John the Baptist? The devil, by attacking Eve, was preparing in woman one of the most dangerous instruments for the loss of the human race; and it is not without reason that the wise man said that she had subjugated the most powerful and given death to the most courageous.