Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

6

his own.

if we follow it closely, not only affords no warrant for this statement, but directly negatives it. So far from saying that God endowed man with an independent righteousness, with an innocency of his own, it tells us that God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' Such words absolutely exclude the idea that man according to his original constitution possessed any thing of

They affirm him to be good only in so far as he reflects that which exists perfectly in another, so far only as he confesses Him to be the Good. Personal, self-existing righteousness is

. not only not imparted to him by the law of his creation; it is denied to him. God did not look upon the order He had made, and lo! it was very good because each creature was standing in its own separate excellence, because the highest creature of all held that excellence in its fullest mea

He pronounced it very good because no creature was standing in itself, because each was formed according to its kind in relation to every other, because the highest creature, that to which all the others looked up, and in which they saw their own perfection, himself looked up to his Maker, and saw his perfection in Him.

We must thoroughly satisfy ourselves that this is what the Scripture affirms of man; or all the after records will become a weary maze to us. If we take this principle with us, I do not think we shall wish to put any thing into Scripture that we do not find there, or to take any thing from it which we do find. There may be much which

sure.

we do not understand, much which perplexes our understandings. I do not think there will be any thing which outrages our consciences, any thing which the higher spirit within us shrinks from recognizing

That divine order for man as the member of a race, as part of an order, which we read of in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, being laid down for him, we heard how a certain man was placed in a certain garden, surrounded by a certain number of trees and animals. Of the first he is to partake, all except one.

Of the fruit of that he must not eat; in the day that he eats of it, he will die. He gives names to the creatures which are about him. A help-meet is needed for him. A portion of himself is taken from him, and becomes a woman. She is bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. They are naked and are not ashamed.

This is all that we are told of that first man and woman in their first condition. We may add

. what we please out of our fancies about their transcendant knowledge, or their seraphic virtues. Nothing of it is to be found in the Bible. No hint of any vast endowments or wide-reaching thoughts, or great projects. Every thing is simple, child-like, just as you would expect it to be. People wearied themselves in former days to find out where the garden was, what actual place was bounded by the four rivers mentioned in the narrative. They could arrive at no conclusion. Then they fell into mystical conceits. They supposed the rivers must be any thing but rivers, that the garden must be any thing but a garden. From the mystical, the transition was easy to the mythical. The whole was set down as a wonderful dream of later ages about an imaginary golden age. Whereas if you look fairly at the record, there is no golden age at all; nothing but the simplest and most natural description—the most natural and simple you can conceive, at least if you adopt the belief which a very large body of physiologers, not believers in the Bible, resolutely maintain, that we are all descended from one pair.

Why have we failed to perceive this simplicity ? Whence has arisen the temptation to substitute theories and speculations for it? It arises from the subject of the next chapter.

We cannot persuade ourselves that the entrance of Sin into the world, can be any thing but the most wonderful of all facts. If that chapter contains the history of its introduction, it must contain the most deep and awful metaphysics. Our consciences and hearts cannot be satisfied except we find them. Most undoubtedly I believe the deepest and most awful metaphysics are there. It is impossible that a creature who has a reason and a will, can ever do any thing which does not involve an unutterable mystery, anything which is not either done in conformity with a law higher than that which keeps the planets in their courses, or else in transgression of it.

I can imagine nothing less strange, less prodigious, than the act of a woman taking the fruit of a tree and eating it, and giving it to her hus

6

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

band to eat. The question is, what did that act signify? What did it indicate as to the inner mind, the essential being of the persons who were concerned in it? You answer, they were innocent before, and they ceased to be innocent then.? True. And if it was further demanded, “In what did the innocence which they previously had, consist? In what did the guilt which they now contracted, consist?' you would not hesitate to answer : They were obedient before. They were disobedient now.' To change the phrase, but not the sense: They were acting as dependent creatures before. They did an act which asserted independence now. They claimed to be something which they were not. They refused to be that which they were.' I need not remind you that this is no gloss of mine upon the Scriptures. The express language ascribed to the tempter is, ' Ye shall be as Gods knowing good and evil. Part of the pleasure of the act lay in

' the taste of the fruit; part of it, and the deepest part, lay in the assertion of independence, in shewing that they could do what they liked. Every one who has had the least experience with children, understands this mixture of feelings, knows how one passes into the other, what a mighty delight in selfwill lies beneath any forbidden gratification of the natural appetite. Every one verifies the truth of the Scripture narrative in his own daily history. If our minds were less confused and artificial, we should say at once, .This must be the account of the first transgression in the world. It has a stamp of veracity which no intricate

[ocr errors]

6

us.

analyses of motives ever had, or could possibly confer.'

But we shrink from applying this test; because it strikes us that Adam in his paradisaical state, must have been under a law so different from ours, that to bring our knowledge of ourselves or of others to bear upon the subject, is scarcely reverent or safe. Now if what I have said respecting the creation of man be true, this opinion cannot be a right one: it must darken our minds both respecting the letter of Scripture and respecting its higher theology. The principle that man was made in the image of God, is not a principle which was true for Adam and false for

It is the principle upon which the race was constituted and can never cease to be constituted. Adam's sin consisted, if we are to accept the Scripture account, in disbelieving that law, in acting as if he were not under it. He would be a God; he was not content to be in the image of God. His offence consisted in giving up that position of dependence which some would tell us only became his when he fell. His wrong consisted in setting up that claim to be something in himself, which they would tell us that he was, so long as he continued right. We cannot too often repeat the words which scarcely any one will deny when he hears them formally uttered, and yet which we continually deny in some of our most popular dogmatic statements, Adam stood by obedience, and fell by disobedience. He stood by trust in God, and fell by distrusting Him.' The sin

6

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »