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So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him.
GENESIS, 1. 27.
THE creation of man, in the image of God, is mentioned in a manner which is suited to excite peculiar attention. No other creature, on the earth, was formed in the image of the Creator. Man was distinguished above other creatures, by his creation in the image of God.
In our attention to this subject, it is proposed,
I. To show what is meant by the image of God, in which he created man.
This image cannot be found in the human body. Though the human body be the most wonderful production of divine power, in the system of matter, it has no likeness to God. God is a spirit. His nature has no resemblance to material substances. Man has a rational and immortal spirit. And this spirit resembles the intelligent and spiritual existence of his Creator. But the excellence and glory of God consist in his moral perfection, which is holiness. If Adam had not been holy, he would not have been like God, but opposed to him. Adam must have been, in his moral character, either holy, or unholy. There is no reason to believe that he was, originally, unholy; but that he was created in the most perfect image of God. Solomon expressly declares, that God made man upright. By uprightness, he means moral virtue and real holiness. Holiness was the image and likeness of God in which he created man. It is proposed,
II. To show the effects which would arise from the creation of man in the image of God.
1. The image of God in man would prepare him to receive the true knowledge of his Creator. As soon as he was conscious of his existence, he would be sensible that he had but just begun to exist ; and he would naturally inquire for the cause of his existence. On this subject he had the best means of knowledge. He had the most friendly and familiar intercourse with his Creator ; and he was as conscious of the existence, presence and glory of God, as he was of his own existence. His mind was as pure as light and his spirit active and vigorous ; so that he could attend, without weariness, or distraction, to the wonderful exhibitions of divine power, knowledge, goodness and wisdom, which filled heaven and earth. Man, in his original rectitude and holiness, had a heart to know God. While the light of the divine glory shone around him, in every object, he would make constant and rapid progress in the knowledge of his holy and blessed Creator.
2. The creation of man, in the divine image, would prepare him to love God with supreme affection. His love to God would accord with his knowledge of his greatness and goodness. As his knowledge of God would fill his mind, his love to God would fill his heart. Though Adam, in his original holiness, would be highly pleased with his own character and condition; and though he would rejoice in the happiness of the creatures, which God had placed under his dominion; yet he would not withdraw his heart from his Creator. So long as holy love dwelled and reigned in his heart, his own existence and endowments, his possessions and enjoyments, would not turn him from supreme love to God, but they would excite pure, constant and ardent affections to his holy name. T'he holy heart of Adam would incline him to see the infinite perfection and beauty of God, who must forever be, on account of his own greatness and goodness, the only proper object of supreme affection. He would, therefore, turn from himself and from every created being and love the Lord his God, with the highest and purest affections, for his own glory and beauty.
3. The image of God, in which man was created, would dispose him to obey every divine requirement. God can require nothing of his rational creatures, but what agrees with his own holiness. The Scriptures teach us, that holiness is the sum and essence of what God requires in the law and gospel. Holiness, in the character of a rational creature, will be expressed by perfect and cheerful obedience to every divine command. As holiness was the image of God in which man was created, he would obey him with all his powers. Rational creatures have sufficient ability and opportunity to obey God; and they are placed under the strongest obligations and inducements to do his will. Nothing, but their voluntary sinfulness can ever prevent, in rational creatures constant and perfect obedience to what God requires. While Adam continued in the image of God, he was willing with all his heart and soul, mind and strength, to know and do his will and obey him in every requirement.
4. The divine image, in which man was created, would dispose him to be perfectly submissive to the will of God. Between opposition and submission to God, there is no medium. But holiness, which is conformity to the divine character, can no more oppose God, than he can oppose himself. Adam, in the image of God, would be perfectly submissive to his will. He would perceive, that it belonged to God, on account of his holiness and sovereignty, to design and do, with all creatures and things, whatever he might please. He would be persuaded, from the perfection of the divine character, that whatever God might design and do would be wisest and best. Had God revealed to Adam the designs of his heart and the counsel of his will, in respect to all creatures and events, he would have submitted his will to the divine will and his interests to the divine designs and the concerns of the universe to the glory of his Creator. In his affections, designs and actions, which extend to all creatures and events, God is perfectly holy, wise and good. So long as Adam remained in the image of God, it would be his honor and delight to be entirely subject to his government and submissive to his sovereign pleasure.
5. The divine image, in which man was created, would induce him to rejoice in God with the highest delight. He would know, that God forever possesses, , in himself, infinite greatness and goodness, infinite happiness and beauty. He would know, that such a being would be induced, by his own goodness and for his own glory, to do what was right and wisest and best respect
all beings and events. Adam would be assured that
he might forever increase in the knowledge of God and discover increasing reasons and motives to rejoice in him. He would enjoy God in all things ; and he would enjoy all things in God. So long as he remained in the divine image, he would be constantly and perfectly happy.
6. The image of God, in which man was created, made him a proper object of the divine approbation and complacency. Holiness is the supreme perfection and glory of God. And he approves and loves holiness in his creatures, for the same reasons, for which he approves, and loves it in himself. God is perfectly benevolent towards his creatures. He never feels any emotion of malevolence towards sinful creatures, who are objects of his holy displeasure. But holy creatures he regards, not merely with benevolence, but with complacency. He was pleased with his own image in Adam; and he loved to express his delight in him by the bestowment of every honor, privilege and enjoyment, which he could receive. God
put all other creatures on earth under his dominion. He gave him this world, with all its fullness for his possession. He prepared the garden of Eden for his special residence and enjoyment. He conversed with him, with perfect friendship and delight. And he rejoiced to favor and bless him, while he retained his image, with every possible expression of his approbation and complacency: So great and so happy were the effects, which would arise from the creation of man in the image of God.
1. We may perceive, then, from the preceding observations, the supreme excellence of holiness. It conformed Adam to the moral beauty and glory of God. It was the supreme excellence of man, as he was created and formed by divine power and goodness. And the effects of holiness in Adam were the greatest and best that could exist. Holiness is the highest perfection and supreme beauty of God himself. It sanctifies and beautifies every property of his nature, every perfection of his character and all his designs and works. Every holy creature is adorned with the perfection of beauty; and has the brightest image and likeness of God. Holiness is, in its own nature, supremely excellent; and it produces the most important and happy effects.
2. We may perceive the original dignity of Adam,
His character was the perfection of goodness. And his condition and employment were suited to his character. We have often heard of human dignity and glory; and of the exalted stations, offices and employments, to which some men have been raised. And mankind, naturally and generally, have an high notion of their importance and dignity. But no mere man on earth, except Adam, ever possessed real dignity and true glory. He was subject to no painful labors, to no anxious cares, to no pains and wants. No vain thoughts entered his mind; no gloomy fears reached his heart. There was no evil within him, nor without him. He beheld the glory of God and enjoyed his presence. He dwelt in God; and God dwelt in him.
3. We may perceive the exalted happiness of Adam, in his primitive condition. Every thing within himself was right and lovely. Every thing around him was good and pleasant. He rejoiced in the heavens and in the earth. He rejoiced in every creature and object
. that passed before his eyes. He rejoiced in himself. And he rejoiced in God. His condition was as glorious and happy, as he could desire, or conceive. His happiness was rational and holy; it was pure and perfect. Such was the original holiness, dignity and happiness of man. Well
, then, might it be said, “ So God created man in his own image ; in the image of God created he