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Man was made after God's POLITICAL image. I use the word political here for want of a better. I mean, God made man his representative here on earth, and gave him dominion over all the inferior creatures. “ Have dominion,” said the Creator, to this his new-made creature, over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” (Gen. i. 26, 28.) The Psalmist speaks of this in beautiful language.
66 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet; all sheep, and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field ; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea.” (Ps. viii. 6-8.) As an instance and proof of this dominion which God gave him over them, “God brought every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, to Adam,” (Gen. ii. 19,) “ either by the ministry of angels," says Henry, “or, by a special instinct, directing them to come to man as their master, teaching the ox betimes to know his owner. Thus,” adds he, “God gave man livery and seisin of that fair estate he had granted him, and put him in possession of his dominion over the creature; which did now, as it were, do homage to their prince, at his inauguration, and swear fealty and allegiance to him.” By thus coming to him they acknowledged him for their lord, and looked up to him for government and protection, as he did to God.
But man was especially formed after Gov's MORAL image; which, according to St. Paul, (Col. iii. 10, Eph. iv. 24,) consists in knowledge, holiness, righteousness, and happiness resulting therefrom.
When I speak of knowledge, as a leading branch of the moral image of God, I mean chiefly that which is divine ; the knowledge of God and his will. It is true, as many have observed, Adam, at his first creation, must have had a high degree of the knowledge of God's works, which is evident from his giving every creature a name, as it came before him, descriptive of its nature, and that, it seems, immediately, by a kind of intuition, without the least trouble of reasoning. The manner in which this is related by the inspired Penman is remarkable ; “ The LORD God brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them,” that is, certainly, to prove his knowledge, ” and whatsoever Adam called every living creature that was the name thereof;" words, which evidently signify that every creature was rightly named, and that its name was exactly according to its nature. Now if man was thus acquainted with the nature and properties of the creatures, he could not be ignorant of the wisdom, power, and goodness, or, indeed, of any of the perfectious of his CREATOR. If “ the invisible things of him," our God, “ from the creation of the world are clearly seen,” even by us, the " whose understanding are darkened,” “ being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that we are without ex
cuse,” if we do not know them; how much more must they have been seen and known by Adam in his primeval state of high illumination! And if he was acquainted with the divine attributes, he could not be ignorant of the relations in which God stood to himself as his Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, Protector, Lawgiver, Governor, and Judge, nor of the duties he owed to him according to those relations. As Adam must know his obligations to, and dependence upon God for life, and breath, and all things ; as he could not but see that he was entirely in God's hands, and at his disposal, and had no member of body, nor faculty of soul, no power nor property of any kind independent of him; so he could not be unacquainted with the dispositions of mind, or the actions of life, which were, in consequence,' required of him. He must see that lowliness of mind became him, who had nothing which he had not received ; that gratitude was dne to the Author of all his blessings ; that it was highly reasonable he should confide in him, who of his own free inclination and will, unsolicited, unasked, had already done so much for him ; that
“ Nature's immortal, immateriál Sun,
A rise in blessing.”
“ I trust in thee, and know in whom I trust.." And did he not discern also, what reason he had to love him, a Being whom he saw to be infinitely amiable in himself, and infinitely kind to him ? And could he be ignorant that the will of this his kind, and wise, and mighty Maker and Preserver, his Friend and Father, his God and all, must be his rule in all things, so that he was under an indispensable obligation to shun whatever he should prohibit, and to do whatever he should enjoin? And, as he well knew the FATHER, and the Father's will concerning him, so was he also equally acquainted with the beloved and only-begotten Son of the FATHER, the creating Wisdom and Word, who spake him and every creature into being, and with the Divine SPIRIT, which, when the earth was without form and void, and when darkness was upon the face of the deep, moved on the face of the waters; or, as one beautifully expresses it,
“ Which, brooding o'er the abyss of formless waters lay,
The next branch of the moral image of God is holiness Towards God; including a high esteem and veneration for Him, fervent desire after Him, cordial delight in Him, ardent zeal for his glory, humility before Him, acquiescence in and obedience to his will, perfectly, universally, and constantly, with unspeakable hatred to every thing contrary thereto, or to all sin.-Towards himself, temperance, chastity, purity, including an entire government of his bodily appetites and all the passions, and a perfect moderation in the use of every outward gratification and enjoyment.
Righteousness is another branch of the moral image of God; including justice and mercy towards the inferior creatures,—and to those of his own species, love, meekness, gentleness, condescension, truth, honesty, pity, liberality.
The result of all this was happiness. Man was made after the image of God's blessedness; his understanding being capacious, distinct and clear; his will yielding to the will of God, as clay to the seal; and of itself inclined and disposed to hear and obey ; his affections, without wandering or distraction, being supremely fixed on the highest object, and finding all their enjoyment in his love and favour; no perturbation of appetite, or irregularity of passion to discompose hin !'a heart upright, a conscience clear, and a head unclouded to entertain him! uninterrupted health, and untainted innocence to delight him! a diversified earth, a sweet paradise for him to enjoy! a glorious universe for him to contemplate! an everlasting heaven for him to expect ! and, in the mean time, the Author of that paradise, the King of that universe, and the Giver of that glory,—his God, his Creator, his Benefactor,—to see, to converse with, to bless, to glorify, to obey! Such was the happiness of our first parents !
"O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint!"
But man, being in honour and felicity, did not abide, but degraded himself even below the beasts that perish!
This leads me to show,
II. WHETHER MAN HAS LOST THIS IMAGE OF GOD, IN WHICH HE WAS CREATED; AND IF SO, HOW FAR ; AND BY WHAT MEANS
HE HAS LOST IT.
That man has lost the image of God, in a great measure, is certain. Adam, after his disobedience, gave every proof of having lost it. See Gen. iii. 9, and v. 3, where it is said, he 6 begat a son in his own likeness, after his image," distinguished from “ the likeness of God," (ver. 1.) The whole Scripture speaks of man as born and growing up in a state of depravity and sin. Hence it is necessary he should be “ born again,” (John iii. 3,) created anew, (Eph. ii. 10, 2 Cor. v. 17, Eph. iv. 24,) and sanctified, (Tit. iii. 4, 5,) which, otherwise, it would not be. But in what respect has man lost God's image?
He still retains, in some sense, God's natural image. His soul is still a spirit, invisible, intelligent, free, active, immortal ; but it is greatly corrupted and degraded, and these powers and privileges are greatly abused. For, though a spirit, it is immersed in flesh and sense; (Gen. vi. 3;) the soul being in subjection to the body, and the senses and appetites of it. Though invisible, and conscious of its existence and original excellence, and of the existence and excellence of the invisible God, and the invisible world, it overlooks or neglects them, and is wholly taken up with things
visible and temporal. Though intelligent, its understanding is darkened, its apprehension dull, its reasoning vague, its judge ment fallacious, its memory treacherous. Though free, it abuses its liberty, and prefers bondage to liberty, the world to God, sin to righteousness, death to life, misery to happiness. It is enslaved to the devil, the world, and the flesh. Though active, it is become averse and backward to the pursuit of what is good, but prone to, and active to do evil. Though immortal, its immortality is become a curse, and it will, unless God prevent, be immortal in misery; while at present, infirmity, affliction, pain, death, and dissolution, have come upon the body.
Man retains some dominion over the creatures, with the fear and dread of him impressed upon them by GOD (Gen. ix. 2,) and his superior knowledge and art give him a degree of power over them; but he has manifestly lost the dominion which Adam had. The whole creation was “made subject to vanity,” and
groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."
The chief branch, however, of that image of God which man has lost is his moral image, in knowledge, holiness, righteousness, and the happiness consequent thereupon. See Tit. iii. 3. He has lost,-his knowledge, of the works of God, and especially of man himself, what he was before the fall, is now in his fallen state, and may be hereafter, what he is, whence he came, and whither he is going; of God, his nature, and attributes, what he is in himself, and is, or is ready to be, to his rational and immortal creatures ; of God's will concerning man, his duty and happiness. (Eph. iv. 18, Rom. iii. 11.)- His holiness. Where now is man's esteem and veneration for this greatest and best of beings? his desire after him, and delight in him ? his zeal for his glory, resignation to his will, and acquiescence in his disposal ? his hatred to sing his self-government and restriction in the indulgence of his appetites and passions. Alas! he is alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in him." (Eph. iv. 18.) His life no longer resembles the life of God; he is no longer conformed to him in holiness.- Nor in righteousness;- For his love to his fellow-creatures, and the proper fruit thereof is lost, and he is become the subject of every selfish, vindictive, ungenerous, and hateful temper.
66 As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God, they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom. iii. 10–12.) Consequently, he has lost his-happiness. (Rom. iii. 16, 17; Isaiah lvii. 20, 21.) His understanding being dark and bewildered, his will perverse and rebellious, his affections irregular and disordered, his appetites craving and insatiable, his conscience. guilty and accusing, his fears alarmed and terrifying, his health declining, infirmity, affliction, and death approaching, and God frowning, all conspire to make him miserable. A hell here, and a hell hereafter.
But when, and how did man lose this image of God? See Gen. iii. 3-6. By unbelief respecting the divine declarations and threat. enings. By irregular and inordinate desire, excited by an outward object,-desire of the flesh; the fruit was good for food : ” of the eyes ; it was pleasant to the eyes of honour; it was " to be desired to make one wise,” and “as gods.” By yielding to this desire. (Jam. i. 14, 15.) Thus the divine presence and spirit, the source of man's knowledge, holiness, righteousness, and happiness was withdrawn, and man was divested of the image of God, and saw and felt himself naked.
III. WHETHER MAN MAY, AND MUST RECOVER THIS IMAGE OF God? HOW FAR? AND BY WHAT MEANS ?
To begin with that branch of it last mentioned, man may certainly recover the moral image of God. (Eph. iv. 20—24, Col. iii. 9, 10, 2 Cor. v. 17.) His ignorance as to spiritual and divine things, his unreasonableness and folly, may be removed, and he may be enlightened with knowledge and wisdom. This is the very design of the coming of CHRIST, of the preaching of the Gospel, and the gift of the Spirit. (Isaiah xlii. 6. 7, Acts xxvi. 18, 2 Cor. iv. 4, 6, Eph. v. 8, 1 Pet. ii. 9.)-His depravity may be removed, and he may be made holy and righteous. This is the end of the gift of Christ for his church ; (Eph. v. 25, Tit. ii. 14, 2 Cor. V. 14, 15, 1 John iii. 8;) of the gift of the Spirit, (Eph. v. 9, Gal. v. 22 ;) of the preaching of the Gospel, and its promises, (Acts xxvi. 18, 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14, 2 Pet. i. 4.) Thus we have power over sin, deliverance from it, are consecrated and conformed to God, and are imitators of him, (Eph. iv. 32, and v. 1,) are wise, true, just, holy, merciful, kind, bountiful, have in us the mind of CHRIST, and walk as he walked ; as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John iv. 17, iii. 2.)
Thus wherein we had lost the image of God in other respects, it is either restored now, or shall be hereafter. Our soul asserts and manifests its spiritual nature, and shakes off the dominion of flesh and sense.
Invisible itself, it attends to and claims kindred