« PreviousContinue »
passages, where God, under the character of our “ Creator," or “Maker," is spoken of in the plural number d.
We must not however suppose that there are three Gods: there certainly is but One God; and His unity is as clear as his existence : and this is intentionally marked in the very verse following our text; where the expressions, “us” and “our” are turned into “he” and “his :"-"God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him.”
Here, then, we may see an early intimation of the Trinity in Unity; a doctrine which pervades the whole Bible, and is the very corner-stone of our holy religion. And it is deserving of particular notice, that, in our dedication to our Creator at our baptism, we are expressly required to acknowledge this mysterious doctrine, being “ baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost e."]
The text informs us further respecting, II. The state in which we were created
There was some “ likeness” to God even in the nature of man. “God is a spirit," who thinks, and wills, and acts. Man also has a spirit, distinct from his body, or from the mere animal life: he has a thinking, willing substance, which acts upon matter by the mere exercise of its own volitions, except when the material substance on which it operates is bereft of its proper faculties, or impeded in the use of them. But the image of God in which man was formed, is, properly, two-fold : 1. Intellectual
f“ God is a God of knowledge.” He has a perfect discernment of every thing in the whole creation. Such, too, was Adam in his first formation. Before he had had any opportunity to make observations on the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, he gave names to every one of them, suited to their several natures, and distinctive of their proper characters. But it was not merely in things natural that Adam was so well instructed: he doubtless had just views of God, his nature and perfections: he had also a thorough knowledge of himself, of his duties, his interests, his happiness. There was no one thing which could conduce either to his felicity or usefulness, which was not made known to him, as far as he needed to be instructed in it. As God is light
These are all
d See Job xxxy. 10. Isaiah liv, 5. Eccl. xii. 1. plural in the original.
e Matt. xxviii. 19.
very tin this respe made him "Breadth, so ons. He
without any mixture or shade of darkness', so was Adam, in reference to all those things at least which he was at all concerned to know.] 2. Moral
(Holiness is no less characteristic of the Deity than wisdom. He loves every thing that is good, and infinitely abhors every thing that is evil. Every one of His perfections is holy. In this respect, also, did man bear a resemblance to his Maker. “God made him upright 8.” As he had a view of the commandment in all its breadth, so had he a conformity to it in all his dispositions and actions. He felt no reluctance in obeying it: his will was in perfect unison with the will of his Maker. All the inferior appetites were in habitual subjection to his reason, which also was in subjection to the commands of God. We are told respecting the Lord Jesus Christ, that he was “ the image of God," "the image of the invisible Godi,” “the express image of his person k.” What the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, was upon earth, that was man in Paradise" holy, harmless, undefiled!."
That man's resemblance to his Maker did indeed consist in these two things, is manifest; because our renewal after the divine image is expressly said to be in knowledge m, and in true holiness". Well, therefore, does the Apostle say of man, that “he is the image and glory of Godo."] INFER
1. What an awful change has sin brought into the world!
[Survey the character before drawn: and compare it with men in the present state: “How is the gold become dim, and the fine gold changed !” Men are now enveloped in darkness, and immersed in sin. They “know nothing as they ought to know," and do nothing as they ought to do it. No words can adequately express the blindness of their minds, or the depravity of their hearts.---Yet all this has resulted from that one sin which Adam committed in Paradise. He lost the divine image from his own soul; and “ begat a son in his own fallen likeness :" and the streams that have been flowing for nearly six thousand years from that polluted fountain, are still as corrupt as ever. O that we habitually considered sin in this light, and regarded it as the one source of all our miseries !]
f 1 John i. 5. i Col. i. 15. m Col. ii. 10.
h 2 Cor. iv. 4. 1 Heb. vii. 26. • 1 Cor. xi. 7.
2. What a glorious change will the Holy Spirit effect in the hearts of all who seek Him!
[In numberless passages, as well as in those before cited P, the Holy Spirit is spoken of, as “renewing” our souls, and making us “new creatures ?." What Adam was in Paradise, that shall we be, “according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtletree?." He will “ open the eyes of our understanding, and cause us to “know all things” that are needful for our salvations: and at the same time that he “ turns us from darkness unto light, he will turn us also from the power of Satan unto God:” “He will put his laws in our minds, and write them in our hearts t." Let not any imagine that their case is desperate; for He who created all things out of nothing, can easily create us anew in Christ Jesus: and he will do it, if we only direct our eyes to Christ: “ We all beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord u."]
3. What obligations do we owe to the ever-blessed Trinity!
[If we looked no further than to our first creation, we are infinitely indebted to the sacred Three, for making us the subject of their consultation, and for co-operating to form us in the most perfect manner. But what shall we say to that other consultation, respecting the restoration of our souls? Hear, and be astonished at that gracious proposal, “Let us restore man to our image.” “I," says the Father, “will pardon and accept them, if an adequate atonement can be found to satisfy the demands of justice.” “Then on me be their guilt,” says his only dear Son: “I will offer myself a sacrifice for them, if any one can be found to apply the virtue of it effectually to their souls, and to secure to me the purchase of my blood.” “ That shall be my charge," says the blessed Spirit: “I gladly undertake the office of enlightening, renewing, sanctifying their souls; and I will “preserve every one of them blameless unto thy heavenly kingdom.” Thus, by their united efforts, is the work accomplished; and a way of access is opened for every one of us through Christ, by that one Spirit, unto the Father. O let every soul rejoice in this Tri-une God! and may the Father's love, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore! Amen.]
P See notes m and n si John ii. 20, 27. * Eph. ii. 18.
9 2 Cor. v. 17.
Isai. lv. 13.
APPOINTMENT OF THE SABBATH.
Gen. ii. 2, 3. On the seventh day, God ended his work which
he had made : and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work, which God created and made.
THOUGH we know no reason on God's part why he should proceed in the work of creation by slow and gradual advancement, instead of perfecting the whole at once; yet we may conceive a reason on the part of man, who is enabled thereby to take a more minute and deliberate survey of all its parts, and from every fresh discovery of the creation to derive fresh themes of praise to the Creator. This idea seems to be countenanced by the institution of a Sabbath immediately after the completion of the sixth day's work. At all events, this is the improvement which it becomes us to make of the Sabbath : in speaking of which we shall shew, I. The reason of its appointment
God, after finishing his work, “ rested, and was refreshed.” Whether this expression be merely a figure taken from what is experienced by us after any laborious and successful exertion, or whether it intimate the complacency which God felt, as it were, on a review of his works, we cannot absolutely determine. But his sanctifying of the seventh day in consequence of that rest, shews, that he consulted, 1. His own glory
[As “God made all things for himself,” so he instituted the Sabbath in order that his rational creatures might have stated opportunities of paying him their tribute of prayer and praise. If no period had been fixed by him for the solemnities of public worship, it would have been impossible to bring mankind to an agreement respecting the time when they should render unto him their united homage. They would all acknowledge the propriety of serving him in concert; but each would be ready to consult his own convenience; a difference of sentiment also would obtain respecting the portion of time that should be allotted to his service: and thus there would never be one hour when all should join together in celebrating their Creator's praise. But by an authoritative separation of the seventh day, God has secured, that the whole creation shall acknowledge him, and that His goodness shall be had in everlasting remembrance. In this view, God himself, speaking of the Sabbath which he had instituted at the creation, and the observance of which he was, with some additional reasons, enforcing on the Jews, calls it “a sign” between him and them, that they might know that he is the Lord”.] 2. His people's good
a Exod. xxxi. 17.
[Though men might have worshipped God in secret, yet the appointment of a certain day to be entirely devoted to His service, had a tendency to spiritualize their minds, and to make every one in some respect useful in furthering the welfare of the whole community. Sympathy is a powerful principle in the human breast: and the sight of others devoutly occupied in holy exercises, is calculated to quicken the drowsy soul. The very circumstance of multitudes meeting together with raised expectations and heavenly affections, must operate like an assemblage of burning coals, all of which are instrumental to the kindling of others, while they receive in themselves fresh ardour from the contact.
A further benefit from the appointment of the Sabbath is, that the attention of all must necessarily be directed to the eternal Sabbath, which awaits them at the expiration of their appointed week of labour. Each revolving Sabbath, freed from the distractions of worldly care, and attended, not merely with bodily rest, but with a rest of the soul in God, must be to them an earnest and foretaste of heaven itself. Well therefore does Nehemiah number the Sabbath among the richest benefits which God had conferred upon his chosen people]
But as some have thought the Sabbath to be a mere Jewish institution, which, like the rest of the ceremonial law, is abrogated and annulled, we shall proceed to shew, II. The continuance of its obligation
That there was something ceremonial in the Jewish Sabbath, we readily acknowledge: but there was