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We feel deeply interested, and desire to dwell upon it, whenever it is brought to our remembrance. Now this natural principle of curiosity should certainly impel us powerfully to inquire into the primeval state of that original pair from whom every one of us is descended. If we have the least curiosity, we must wish, we must be anxious to know the memoirs of the first Parents of us all: the history of that great Family of which every nation is a part; the origination of that abundant stock, the wide spreading branches of which have covered the earth.
But desire to inquire into this, is more than mere curiosity: it is essential to the knowledge of religion. We must know not only what man now is; but also what he was when he came from the hands of his Creator : what duties were required of him, and what were the powers by which he was enabled to perform them. This knowledge is necessary to give us deep and distinct impressions of the melancholy change, both in our nature and state, which we now experience, and of the necessity of that regeneration, that recovery from sin and Satan to
God and holiness, which is so energetically taught in the Gospel of Christ.
Now it must be abundantly evident to every one, that this requisite knowledge of the original state of man, can never be acquired by any efforts, however great, of mere unassisted reason. The original state of man is not a matter to be discovered by reasoning : it is a distant, historical fact, which can be learnt only from testimony, and as in this case, no mere human testimony is competent, it is to be learnt solely from Divine Revelation. He only who made man, can inform us how he was made, what were his powers, and what was the measure of his enjoyments. If God hath given us no such Revelation, then are we necessarily left in total ignorance of this most important doctrine. But the very circumstance of its being so important, and impossible to be discovered unless revealed by God, forms of itself a strong presumption that God hath actually revealed it.
That man once enjoyed a state both higher and happier than the present, was an
opinion current even in the heathen world. Their fabling poets mention and describe an era when the gods were constantly visiting the earth, when all the earth’s productions were spontaneous, when crime was unknown, when, go where you would, nothing met the eye but the grateful sight of peace, and purity, and innocence. This delightful era they entitled the Golden Age ; and theiraccounts of this Golden Age, however fanci. ful and confused, had evidently their rise from the Mosaic account of the creation of man, and of his primary state in the world. Interspersed they were, indeed, with much darkness; but still they, doubtless, contained some faint rays originally emitted from Revealed Truth. At any rate it seems certain, that man was not created in his present corrupt state.
One who is so ignorant, and wayward, and wicked, could not be the immediate production of Him who is infinitely wise, and holy, and good. Accordingly Moses expressly tells us, that man was, at first, free from all evil-lord of this lower world—the vicegerent of the Highest-the very mirror of his perfections. After giving being in regular succession, to the elements, and to vegetable and animal existence, the
Creator is sublimely represented as making a solemn pause, and saying,—" Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” God spake, and it was done.-Behold the man appears!—the seat of order, the temple of innocence, glorious, 66 in the Divine
image, and after the Divine likeness.”
Let us then fully consider, in what this Divine image or likeness consisted. The subject is of great importance. It tends to make us feel our present degeneracy, and to be anxious to recover the image which we have lost, - anxious to be “ created in “ Christ Jesus, unto good works.”
There have been theologians who have considered this Divine image as consisting in some external lustre, some visible glory which surrounded the body, much like what we still represent to ourselves when we fancy an angelic vision, “ clothed with light as with a garment.”-- That the body of innocent man had some external lustre, some visible glory, such as Moses had, when he descended from the Mount of God, such as Jesus had, when he was transfigured, or such as the saints shall have, at “ the resurrection
“ of the just,” I pretend not to deny. We have, perhaps, suffered by the Fall, even in our bodily appearance, as much as we have done in our bodily strength, and in the health and vigour of our souls. But, as this is not a matter that is revealed to us, we have just as little reason, positively, to affirm, as we have to deny it.--At any rate, no external lustre, no visible glory can express the meaning of this phrase," the image 6 of God." This must refer to something far more excellent, to something that adorns, not the outward, but the inward man ; for the external splendour of the Supreme Being, whatever it may be, affords us but the lowest idea of his unparalleled perfection.
Others again, (and men of considerable learning,) have supposed, that the image of God, after which Adam was made, means nothing more than what has been called the simple idea of him that existed in the Divine Mind before his creation. By his being made after the image of God, they understand precisely this—that God made him exactly according to the idea or model which He had previously formed of him, just as an