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by Dr. John Thomas
This was planted "in the midst of the garden".
It was also a fruit-bearing tree.
It would seem to have been as accessible as the Tree of Knowledge; for after the man had eaten of this, he was driven out of the garden that he might not touch that likewise.
Its fruit, however, was of a quality entirely opposite to that of which they had eaten.
Both trees bore good fruit; but that of the Tree of Life had the quality of perpetuating the living existence of the eater for ever.
This appears from the testimony of Moses, who reports that after the transgressors had received judgment, "the Lord God said, Behold the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground whence he was taken".
From this, we learn that the Lord God had instituted this tree to give life, and that Adam was aware of what would result from eating of its fruit.
It is probable that, had he been obedient to the law of the Tree of Knowledge, he would have been permitted to eat of the Tree of Life, after he had fulfilled his destiny as an animal man; and, instead of dying away into dust, have been "changed in the twinkling of an eye," as Enoch was; and as they are to be who shall be ready for the Lord at his coming.
But of this we can say nothing certain, because nothing is testified on the subject; and beyond the testimony our faith cannot go, though opinion and credulity may.
If, then, Adam had eaten of the Tree of Life, he would have been changed from a living soul into a soul capable of living for ever: and not only capable, but it would seem, that being immortal, the Lord God would have permitted him to remain so.
For, we are not to suppose, that, if a thing become capable of undecaying existence, therefore its creator cannot destroy it; consequently, if Adam as a sinner had eaten of the Tree of Life, his immortality would have been only permitted, and not necessitated contrary to the power of the Lord God.
To have permitted Adam and Eve to become deathless, and to remain so, in a state of good and evil such as the world experiences, would have been a disproportionate and unmerciful punishment.
It would have been to populate the earth with deathless sinners; and to convert it into the abode of deathless giants in crime; in other words, the, earth would have become, what creed theologians describe "hell" to be in their imagination.
The good work of the sixth day would then have proved a terrible mishap, instead of the nucleus of a glorious manifestation of divine wisdom and power.
But a world of undying sinners in a state of good and evil, was not according to the divine plan.
This required first the sanctification of sinners; then their probation; and afterwards, their exaltation, or humiliation, according to their works.
Therefore, lest Adam should invert this order, and "put on immortality" before he should be morally renewed, or purified from sin, and the moral likeness of God be formed in him again; the Lord God expelled him from the dangerous vicinity of the Tree of Life.
He drove him forth that he should not then become incorruptible and deathless.
The first intimation of immortality for man is contained in the text before us.
But, in this instance it eluded his grasp.
He was expelled "lest he should eat, and live for ever".
It was because immortality belonged to this tree; or rather, was communicable by or through it to the eater, that it was styled etz ha-chayim, that is, the Tree of the Lives; for that is its name when literally rendered.
The phrase "of the lives" is particularly appropriate; for it was the tree of endless life both to Adam and Eve, if permitted to eat of it.