MAN AS HE WAS.
I. THE original man was the rational and moral ultimatum of
the mundane system. Naturally, or as he came from God's hand, he was the
perfection of all terrestrial creations and institutions. In the elements
of his constitution, he was partly celestial and terrestrial, of an earthly
material as to his body, but of a spiritual intelligence and a divine life.
Made to know and to enjoy his Creator, and to have communion with all that
is divine, spiritual, and material in the whole universe, he was susceptible
of an almost boundless variety of enjoyments.
II. And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and
let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air,
and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing
that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in his
own image created he him; a male and a female created he them." Gen. i. 26,
27. Man, then, was a companion of his Father and Creator, capable of admiring,
adoring, and enjoying God. Having made the earth for him, God was fully glorified
in all his sublunary works, when they made man happy, grateful, and thankful
to himself. Man, then, in his natural state, was not merely an animal, but
an intellectual, moral, pure, and holy being.
III. His position or state in this creation, was that of a lord tenant.
The earth is, indeed, the Lord's; but he gave it to man on a very easy and
liberal lease; and so it became his property. He was, therefore, a free and
responsible agent, capable of managing his estate and paying his rent; and
consequently was susceptible of virtue and vice, of happiness and misery.
In order to freedom, virtue, and happiness, it was expedient and necessary
to place him under a law; for where there is no law, there can be no liberty,
virtue, or happiness. The law became a test of his character, a guarantee
of his continued enjoyment of the life and property which God had leased
to him on the condition of his obedience to that precept.
IV. That the temptation to disobedience might be weak, and the motive to
obedience strong, single, and pure, the precept given here was simple, positive,
and clear. It could not be a moral precept, because other reasons than simple
submission to the will of his Lord and King might have co-operated and prevented
the display of pure loyalty by which his character was to be tried and his
future fortunes governed. It was therefore a positive law. The requisition
was so little as to present the least conceivable restraint upon liberty
of thought and action, and yet it was the most infallible test of his loyalty.
The Adamic constitution was therefore admirably designed and adapted to
happiness. It placed only one restriction in the way of universal liberty,
and that at such a distance as to make the circle of his free and unrestrained
movements within a single step of the last outpost of all intellectual, moral,
and sensible enjoyment. The whole earth was his to use, one single fruit
alone excepted. Truly, God was superlatively good and kind to man in his
peculiar condition and state. "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 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 fowls of the air, and
the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passes through the paths of the sea.
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!" Psalm viii.5-9