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1. GOD CREATED MAN.
To create is to give being to that which did not exist before; and it implies such amazing wisdom and power as far exceeds our comprehension. We are certain that man could not create himself; for that would have implied being without being, and power without power. Nor can we conceive that the highest angels, who are but creatures themselves, could create him. God, is the only being in the universe who has infinite wisdom and almighty power, both of which are absolutely necessary in a CREATOR. All other beings, however highly exalted, are but of yesterday. They had a beginning; but God is from everlasting. He had no beginning. He received life from none; but gives life to all. The propagation of man is a very different thing. God has given him, in com mon with various other beings, a power to propagate his own species: but if we trace propagation back as far as imagination can carry us, we must come at length to a first pair, formed by an almighty hand. The sacred scriptures place this subject in a clear light; informing us that man is a creature, and that the God of heaven and earth, who made all things by the word of his power, is his CREATOR.
Hence we learn that man is a dependent being, who owes all his greatness to God
that he should be humble, giving God the glory of all he is and all he has that he should love, honour, and obey his Maker in all things; employing those powers both of body and mind with which God has created him, in the way that infinite Wisdom may direct. While he does so, he may safely rely on the goodness of God for a supply of all his wants. A kind Providence will watch over him for good: he will be protected in every hour of danger; and he will enjoy a large portion of substantial happiness, which may be continued to him through every period of his existence.
II. GOD CREATED MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE,
Many erroneous opinions have been maintained on man's primitive state. Some have placed him on a level with, if not above the angels of God; and others have placed him below many of his descendants. To avoid these wide extremes, we must abide by reason and revelation.
The image of God does not refer to the body of man, which was formed of the dust; for God is a spirit, and cannot be represented by any material form.
An image is the representation, or likeness, of any person or thing. Man was an image, representation, or likeness of God,
1. In authority. He had "dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth;" therein representing him who ruleth over all. Thus, what God is to the universe, that man was to the lower world. The inferior creatures were not made capable either of knowing, fearing, loving or serving God; but were plac ed under man, that they might know, fear, love, and obey him. They looked up to him as their sovereign, while he looked up to the Lord of lords as his sovereign.
2. In wisdom. God is the wisest being in the universe: man was the wisest being on earth. This indeed may be inferred from his office. A governor should have superior wisdom. "Renewed in knowledge (saith the apostle Paul) after the. image of him that created him." What degree of knowledge man possessed before the fall we cannot exactly determine. It is probable he had clear and extensive views of the works and attributes of God-that he understood his own precise situation, both as a subject of God, and as a governor of the worldthat he was acquainted with the duties which he owed to God his governor-that he knew the properties and dispositions of the creatures which he had to govern-and the happiness which would result to him
from the right performance of various duties both to God above him, and to the creatures below him. Less than this we cannot suppose, and more than this we need not insist upon.
3. In righteousness. God is righteous in his government. "Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne."
man was like the Lord God. He had righteous dispositions, which always lead to a righteous conduct. While man preserved these dispositions, he could not be cruel to the creatures. They all rejoiced, we may suppose, in his equitable sway. That man bore the image of God in this respect, is evident from the following words: "The new man, which after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness."
4. In holiness. God is holy: man resembled him. His soul and body, which include the whole man, were holy. There was no spot of pollution upon him. He had no sinful propensity-no inclination to any thing that was wrong. He loved God with all his heart. God was the centre of his soul. He could say, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." Evil was unknown to him even in theory. He was good; yea, his whole nature was very good. From the purity of his nature he was led to
every thing that was lovely in his conduct. Every duty was delightful to him. Had he remained in this state, the pure worship of God, would have been established amongst his descendants. Men would have been like the angels, and earth like heaven.
We may certainly infer that man was completely happy in his primeval state. There was nothing to make him unhappy. All without was beautiful, and all within was pure. God delighted in him-the creatures paid him homage-the earth produced every tree that was pleasant to the eye, and good for food. There was no sorrow, no pain, no crying, no death, in paradise.
The original state of man reflects the highest honour upon God. We behold in it an astonishing display of his wisdom, power, goodness, purity, and love. If the glory be departed, let man bear the blame; let him be ashamed; let him be punished; for the awful change took place through his transgression. God intended him to continue as he made him. He gave him power to stand. To him be glory for ever, Amen.