« PreviousContinue »
appearance, mighty in intellect, happy in God. They walk and talk with the great Author of their being; they hear his voice, they receive instruction from his lips; they are formed in his image, are adapted and designed to hold the most intimate spiritual communion with their Creator. In this state they live: placed in a garden to dress and keep it, they have within their reach all that can minister to their happiness. God gives to. man dominion over all the earth; the majestic lion and the fierce tiger bow to his will. His dominion is not merely a name. The subjects of his wide domain are brought before him: was ever marshaled army beheld on earth, which indicated to its sovereign so much real glory as this, when all nature bowed to her earthly lord ? And amid this august scene man proves that he is equal to his position; he looks through the varied ranks of created being, and gives names to all; his eye is not deceived, his judgment does not falter; he executes his task : “And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." Gen. ii, 19.
This is not allegory; it is fact. It is revealed by Him whose infinite wisdom and almighty power brought it to pass. How unlike the speculations of philosophy, the dreams of perverted reason! Vain man, who would be wise, spurns the teachings of revelation, and taxes his boasted powers to account for his own existence; and how does he perform his task? We might have supposed that, however defective, it would not lack dignity, that it would be calculated to sustain the character of man, that it would not be unworthy of the mighty aspirations of his mind, the dazzling coruscations of his fancy, the burning energy of his genius. Alas! how different! These exhibitions all unite in one particular,—they all degrade him to the earth. Like frogs or mice, man arises from slumbering animation, and creeps into being from the mud of the Nile; or some one of the monkey tribe, more sagacious than his fellows, walks erect, and his descendants, after wading through ages of bestiality and barbarism, at length become the progenitors of man,—of poets and philosophers! Perish such wisdom! The records of divine revelation furnish a true, and therefore a rational, account of the origin and primitive condition of man: he “was made a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honor.” Psalm viii, 5.
But in this honor man did not abide. His Creator, regarding him as a rational and moral agent, gave him a law for the regu
lation of his life. This law was explicit in its terms, and adapted to the condition of man; it was calculated to answer its design, by affording a rule of life to the creature, and testing his fidelity to his Creator. He was forbidden to eat of the fruit of a certain tree which was called “the tree which is the test of good and evil.” (See Kennicott's Dissertation on the Tree of Life, p. 35.) Adam knew all this, and fully understood his case. However obscure the application of some of the terms employed may be to us, there can be no doubt that he was fully acquainted with their import. We must always remember that we do not possess a complete record of the revelations made to the first man: we have only a brief and rapid sketch of the prominent points of his history; enough for our information, which is the object of Scripture, not a complete development of all that transpired between the first pair and their Maker. Yet, even with our limited means, we are enabled to take a correct view of their condition.
That the first man had been instructed concerning the lie, and taught the distinction between it and the truth; that he knew it to be expected of him to stand firm in that allegiance from which others fell; that he was extensively instructed in 'the deep things of God,' as figuratively preached in the creation; and that the spirit of prophecy also was granted to him; appears from many circumstances attending his situation.
His own form was figurative or illustrative of heavenly truth; and when Eve was taken from his side, he uttered a prophecy concerning the institution of marriage among his descendants, while as yet he had no children ; a prophecy which contained a great mystery or figure concerning Christ and his church. He was placed in a garden containing figurative trees; he lived by a sacramental tree, the tree of life, in the midst of the Paradise of God;' he was forewarned by another figurative tree; and he gave figurative names to the animal creation; among which, it is most remarkable, was the prophetic name of subtilty and deceit, given by himself to the very creature through whose agency Eve was deceived, and he seduced.” -Morison's Relig. Hist. of Man, p. 54.
It is, however, easy to perceive that, although man was placed in this condition of trial, it was a state which necessarily arose out of the moral dignity of his nature, and his religious capabilities and powers. Hence Milton represents the Almighty as saying of man:
" He had of me
Not me ?”—Paradise Lost, book iii.
This is a subject respecting which we must rely for information on revelation alone. Only the eye of God saw all the consequences of the sin of Adam; and if we are permitted to obtain a full acquaintance with the evils which have resulted to our race from sin, we must obtain it from the teaching of his Spirit.
Nothing can be more unreasonable than to confine ourselves, in the investigation of this subject, to the description furnished in the first chapters of Genesis. As we have before remarked, these do not pretend to give us a full account of all the revelations made to the first pair; they do not tell us all they knew, but simply give for our information an abstract of their history as a part of the entire revealed truth of God. If, therefore, we would
understand what is implied in the fall of man, and have distinct views of the consequences which resulted from the transgression of Adam, we must attend to all that is communicated, bearing on this subject, in every part of the Holy Scriptures, and especially in the New Testament, in which we have the fullest development of the will of God.
Acting on these convictions, we have studied this subject in the light of revealed truth, and give the conclusions to which we have been conducted.
1. Man lost the purity of his moral nature.
He was made good—this was his element. The understanding aspired after it; the will clave to it; the affections rejoiced in it. In him all was order, all was peace. But, by the fall, his understanding became darkened, his will rebellious; his affections were totally vitiated; in a word, he became a sin
We wish, in speaking on this subject, to be distinctly understood. In our judgment, the word of God teaches that this ruin was entire and complete. Yet it does not appear that the fall of man consisted in the destruction of the pure principles of his nature, and the introduction into his moral system of others essentially evil; on the contrary, the effect produced was simply a perversion of his moral powers from good to evil. He had, while upright and holy, deliberately chosen to transgress the divine command; and that fatal act destroyed the Godward tendency, and the beautiful harmony, of his moral system, and introduced disorder and spiritual death into every part. The intellectual and moral powers, the passions, affections, and propensities, which previously acted in perfect unison with each other, while all bowed in subjection to the will of God, and rejoiced to do his pleasure, are now seen rioting in rebellion against him, and warring against each other. The reason is blinded, and puts darkness for light, and light for darkness; the propensities, setting at defiance the control of reason, impel the mind to a course of action whose end is merely momentary gratification ; the affections, which had been supremely centred in God, are now engrossed by selfish and earthly objects. And thus the whole mind, retaining all the elements of its original and elevated character, has become depraved and debased, sunk in misery and sin. Hence it is that the moral constitution of man bears witness to the truth of his history. There is not, in the wide range of his frailty, and folly, and sin, a single power or affection of mind
observable, which might not have existed in perfect purity and
The history of man's early career does not give us much information respecting his primitive religion, and the happiness and privilege which stood connected with it; but the general theology of the Bible casts a flood of light on this subject. We need not here go into detailed argumentation; it will be sufficient to call attention to the important fact, that the most sublime spiritual privileges of the New Testament religion-privileges which comprehend fellowship with God, Christ as our “life,” and the attainment of the divine image, as accessible to all believers--are uniformly exhibited as a restoration of the soul of man to a state which it had formerly occupied, but from which it had fallen. We hear of a renewal of the soul “in knowledge after the image of Him that created him," Col. iii, 10; of being “ renewed in the spirit of your mind, that ye" may "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Eph. iv, 23, 24; that “as in Adam all die, even so in in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Cor. xv, 22. In fact, the whole scheme of mercy is a process of redemption, restoration, recovery. If, therefore, the state to which the soul of man is raised by the gospel, indicates the primitive condition of his mind, then are we certain that he walked in hallowed and intimate spiritual intercourse with his Maker. This idea certainly harmonizes with all that is said of his primeval state. But, if this be true, how fallen is he now! His thoughts do not aspire after God; his natural and general character is to be “without God in the world.” Eph. ii, 12. How far this great deprivation contributed to the completion of his moral ruin, we will not attempt to say; but that it displays a dark and fearful feature in the character of fallen
evident. 3. As a result of the fall, man lost his inward and outward happiness.
The disorder which had been introduced into his nature was sufficient to destroy his peace. But to this was added the loss of an approving conscience. Conscious purity was exchanged for conscious guilt; the thoughts of God, which before gave him rapturous delight and holy expectation, now fill him with terror