Adam was first formed, then Eve

A Sermon on Women by a Lay Preacher

“Adam was first formed, then Eve.” 1st Timothy 2:13.

Among those who evince more conceit than good sense, and more effrontery than wisdom, are to be found some who profess to believe that man is endowed with an intellectual capacity superior to that of woman; and contend that, as Adam was first in primogeniture, and constituted lord of this lower world, so was he made superior in intellect to Eve, who, being the second in creation, was also second in mental power. They also attempt to substantiate the claims of man to greater intelligence than woman, on the ground that husbands are commanded to give honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel. And furthermore, that it was owing to the feebler intellect of Eve that Satan, in the great temptation, assailed her, instead of Adam, expecting an easier victory.

Having assumed these facts, most complacently do they fold their arms and, with a compassionate, pitying look on woman, enjoy their fancied superiority! We will now examine these claims, and see if they are tenable.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

 In the first place, then, we admit, that Adam was first formed, for it is so stated in the text; but we nowhere find it stated in the record that he was formed greater than Eve. Now, concerning the whole creation, wisdom marks its progress at every step, and wisdom we are commanded to follow and embrace. What man, therefore, if he be wise, and desirous of building a house perfect in all its parts, would not first prepare a model or design of such house, in order to obtain a satisfactory and perfect plan, before the erecting of his edifice? So Adam was first formed. The model being approved, Eve was then made after that model; and as no man, in building a model for his house, uses the same valuable materials that he employs in erecting the house itself, so Adam was made of that coarse material called earth, while Eve was not formed until that substance had undergone a powerful change—had become purified, refined, and sublimated—and then, in the perfection of beauty and excellence, was she produced and given unto Adam, “to be an help, meet for him.” Mark the modesty of Eve: she puts in no offensive claim of superiority, on the score of a more refined nature, but seems content to live with Adam as his equal—and for a while, all was harmony in Paradise.

Adam and Eve in Paradise

Adam and Eve in Paradise

In the second place, we will examine the charge of woman’s being weaker in intellect than man, because she is stated to be the “weaker vessel.” We think that we shall be able to prove that this has reference to physical and not to mental strength. That man has given to him muscular strength greater than is given to women, we are ready to admit; and there is wisdom in the arrangement, since man is commanded to labor, to support himself and his family by “the sweat of his brow”; whereas no such commandment being given to woman, no such great strength is required in her case, she being left to the culture of her mental powers and to the sweet charities of life.

And is the possession of physical strength any argument in favor of superiority of mind? Were not Moses and David and Solomon weaker – men than Samson and Goliath? Had Samson and Goliath, therefore, greater minds than they? Husbands are commanded to give honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, but Peter had surely too much respect for himself and his sex to command them to honor any who were their inferiors by nature. Whom do men honor? Their superiors generally—their equals sometimes—their inferiors, never. Had Peter considered the wives of those men whom he was addressing as possessing minds inferior to their own, would he not have said, be kind, be pitiful, be compassionate to your wives, instead of saving honor them? Most certainly he would. And Peter, very possibly, had the doctrine of compensation in his mind when he gave that command, and considered that as woman was weaker in body, so she might be even stronger in mind—more spiritual—and, therefore, entitled to honor.

We now come in the third and last place, to consider why Satan chose Eve, instead of Adam, for his victim. We have before said, that for a while, all was harmony in Paradise. But there was an enemy lurking near, and its happy inmates were marked for destruction.

We understand that Adam was lord of Paradise! How did he exercise his power? When an enemy advances on his foe, does not the commanding officer of the antagonist army, ever on the watch, employ all his skill, exert all his energies to baffle that enemy’s designs, and to become himself the victor? Does he not take every precaution for the protection of his troops and stand himself, if need be, in the forefront of the battle? Did Adam so? Did he, in virtue of his high commission and boasted superiority, seek out the enemy and breast his assault? Did he even act on the defensive, by keeping near the companion, cautioning her against the foe, protecting her, if assailed, and defending her, at the hazard of his own life? The enemy approaches—where is Adam? Reclining supinely on the flowery banks, partaking of the luxuriant fruits and inhaling the odoriferous perfumes of the fragrant groves of Eden! Where is Eve? Gone forth, alone to her work! The arch enemy assails her, tempts her to disobedience, and the sad story of her fate is recorded in the tears and groans of her race!

And now, how stands it with Adam? Had he, indeed, possessed a stronger mind than his companion, would not the ambitious for—for his sagacity would not have left that point undetected—have attacked the most powerful, disdaining an inferior conquest? But was it Adam whom he attacked? On the contrary, did not his high ambition—an ambition which had cost him heaven —prompt him to seek the woman, that he might wreak his vengeance on God’s most perfect work? Did he not know that, to Adam, he would have but to say, take and eat; whereas it required all his ingenuity, all his powers of artifice, to undermine the principles of Eve? He even found it necessary to change the appearance of his identity, are he could cause her to swerve from her obedience. Again we ask, how stands it with Adam? In what did he display the mighty efforts of a mighty mind? Did he not fall from his allegiance to his Maker, and forfeit life without the least resistance? The command was given to Adam before Eve was created! “Thou shalt not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; for, in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” It was, therefore, imperative on Adam especially to obey the law. No stratagem, no finesse were practised upon his understanding; but in the full exercise of all the faculties that had been given him, he cooly and dispassionately ate of the forbidden tree; and thus sealed the ruin of the world! Surely, surely, it Adam were gifted with higher intellectual power than his companion, his trangression was as much greater than hers as his ability was greater to avoid it.

But there is yet another scene—and we once more ask, how stands it with Adam? ” What is this that thou hast done?” “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat!”

Adam and Eve Driven Out of Paradise

Adam and Eve Driven Out of Paradise

Was it manly—was it the mark of a generous, noble spirit—was it indicative of a superior mind—thus to endeavor to shield himself by casting the blame upon the woman? Was there not meanness, was there not cowardice in the reply? See you not the contracted shoulders, the arms close pressed to the sides, the trembling step, the quivering lip, the blanched cheek, the apologetic look of Adam, as, in faltering tone, he says, “She gave me, and I did eat?”

Alas, poor Adam! We have Bought, but sought in vain, in thy history for those proofs of a superior intellect, which, as a sort of birth-right, is claimed by many of thy sex, for thee and for themselves. As our first father, our hearts, with all thy faults, still warm to thee. But we think that the jury should not be impeached that pronounces the verdict, “Woman is thy equal;” and all thy intelligent descendants should say, Amen!

Source: The Revolution – August 27, 1868

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