« PreviousContinue »
time he was made, is to affirm a contradiction, or what is inconsistent with the nature of righteousness." Doctor Chauncey agrees very nearly with Doctor Taylor ; for speaking upon this subject, he says, with his usual elegance and accuracy, that “ Man was made male and female, the most excellent creature in this lower world, possessing the highest and noblest rank; that he was made by an immediate exertion of almighty power, and not by God's agency, in concurrence with second causes, operating according to an established course or order; that he was made in the image of God;' meaning hereby, not an actual, present, perfect likeness to him, either in knowledge, wisdom, holiness or happiness, but with implanted powers perfectly adjusted for his gradually attaining to this likeness, in the highest measure proper to a being in his rank in the creation.” Though Doctor Chauncey does
not expressly deny, as Doctor Taylor does, the possibility of God's making man upright, yet his mode of treating the subject plainly implies it. They both suppose that virtue or true holiness must be the sole work of man, and of course suppose that it is impossible, in the nature of things, that it should be the work of God. This is the objection against God's creating Adam in righteousness and true holiness, set in the fairest and strongest light. Let us now consider what there is to invalidate this objection, and to make it appear that God might have made man upright.
And here I may observe, in the first place, that it is agreeable to the nature of virtue, or true holiness, to be created. The volitions or moral exercises of the mind are virtuous or vicious in their own nature, without the least regard to the cause by which they are produced. This is apparent upon the principles of those who deny the possibility of created holiness. Doctor Taylor pleads that holiness consists in the free, voluntary choice of the agent. This is undoubtedly true, and agreeable to the dictates of common sense. But if this be true, the excellency of virtue or holiness consists in its nature, and not in its cause.
For, if there cannot be a volition before the first volition, then the first volition of every created agent must have a cause altogether involuntary. This must certainly have been the case with respect to Adam. His first volition could not proceed from a previous volition; and therefore his first volition proceeded from some involuntary cause. And if it proceeded from an involuntary cause, it matters not whether that cause was within, or without himself. For, if it were altogether involuntary, there could be no moral goodness in it; since it is granted by all, that virtue or true holiness consists in the free choice, or voluntary exercise of the agent. So that if Adam ever began to be holy, his first holiness consisted in his first
benevolent volition, and not in the cause of that first virtuous and voluntary exercise. But if his first holiness consisted in his first benevolent volition, then it might have been created or produced by the Deity, without destroying its benevolent and virtuous nature.
I may farther observe, that holiness is something which has a real and positive existence, and which not only may, but must be created. The free, voluntary exercises of the mind can no more come into existence without a cause, than any other objects in nature. And it is equally certain that Adam could not be the efficient cause of his own volition. He was a dependent creature. He lived and moved and had his being in God, and without him he could do nothing. Such a dependent creature could no more produce his own volitions than his own existence. A self determining power is an independent power, which never was and never could be given to Adam. And if he never had a power of originating his own volitions, or making himself holy, then he must have for ever remained without holiness, unless God had seen fit to make him holy, or morally upright.
And this, I proceed to observe, he might have done. He has the power of production. He can create, or bring out of nothing into existence, whatever he pleases. His power is absolutely unlimited and irresistible. As he can create a body and create a soul, which are lower kinds of existence, so he can create virtue or true holiness, which is the highest and noblest kind of existence. But we have no occasion to employ fine spun reasoning to prove that holiness comes within the sphere of divine agency, since the scriptures clearly decide this point. They ascribe the production of holiness to God, as his own proper and peculiar work. They assure us, that he can give men a heart to know him; that he can make them willing to submit to him; that he can take away their stony hearts, and give them hearts of flesh; that he can create them anew in Christ Jesus unto good works; that he can work in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure; or, in a word, that he can harden or soften, or turn their hearts, just as he pleases, There is not a plainer truth in the Bible than this, that God can make men upright. And if he can make obstinate and hardened sinners upright, who can doubt whether he was able to make the first man, in the first stage of his existence, upright?
I may now advance another step, and observe,
2. That God not only might, but must have created Adam either holy or unholy.
Adam was created in a state of manhood. His body was completely organized, and every way fitted for the reception of the soul. At the instant, therefore, in which his soul was united with his body, he became a perfect man, or moral agent. There was nothing farther necessary in order to the exercise of his moral powers, but the exhibition of external objects. And these were exhibited before him as soon as he opened his eyes upon the visible world. It is possible though not probable, that his first views were somewhat obscure and confused, like those of a man who awakes out of a sound sleep. But as soon, and perhaps much sooner than a waking man collects his thoughts, Adam collected his, and saw and felt the influence of surrounding objects, with all the clearness and sensibility that he ever did in his life. The power of perception sets all the other powers of his mind into motion; so that there could be no discernible distance of time between his seeing objects, and feeling moral affections towards them. As his completely organized body could not prevent the exercise of his moral powers, so there was nothing within, or without him, that could prevent his immediately commencing his moral agency, and exercising either holy or unholy affections.
To suppose that God implanted in his mind the principles of moral agency, without making him a moral agent, is extremely absurd. For, if God gave him the powers of perception, reason and conscience, he must have been immediately under moral obligation, which he must have immediately either fulfilled or violated, and so have immediately become either holy or sinful. To avoid this conclusion, Doctor Chauncey says, “ these implanted powers did not afford Adam any present, actual knowledge, wisdom, holiness or happiness.” I ask then, what they did afford him; or in what sense they were the powers of moral agency, when they neither enabled him to perceive any object, to know any truth, to enjoy any good, nor to do any action? Upon this supposition, Adam was as inactive and torpid after his soul was united to his body as before, and might have remained in that inactive, torpid state for ever, notwithstanding his implanted powers. For, if after his soul and body were united he might have remained destitute of sensation and perception one moment, he might have remained so one hour, one day, one year, or to all eternity. If any person can tell how Adam began to perceive, to love or hate, to choose or refuse, in any period of his life, he can as easily tell how Adam began to perceive, to love and hate, to choose and refuse, the first moment in which his soul was united to his body. If ever his implanted powers could constitute him a moral agent, they must have made him a moral agent in that very instant in which God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul. The apostle tells us,
“ To him that knoweth to' do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” It was impossible, therefore, that God should make the soul of Adam like a clean piece of paper, and preserve it so a single moment after he had given him the power of perception. For, as soon as he perceived any object, he must have had some moral exercise towards it, which would have stamped his character either as virtuous or vicious. Hence it is clearly evident that Adam was created either sinful or holy; and since none pretend that he was created sinful, all must allow that he was made upright, agreeably to the declaration in the text.
I go on to observe,
3. That it appears from the account which Moses gives of the creation of Adam, that God made him upright. We have this account in Genesis, i. 26, 27. “ 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 over 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 the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Some suppose this divine image consisted in the exterior glory of Adam's body, which resembled the exterior glory of the great Mediator, before he appeared in the form of a servant and tabernacled in flesh. But perhaps there is no just foundation for this opinion.
Others suppose this divine image consisted in the superior intellectual powers of Adam, by which he excelled all the inferior creation, and resembled the natural perfections of his Maker. There is indeed some truth in this supposition. The human understanding does bear some resemblance of the divine intelligence. And in this respect men still bear the natural image of God's natural perfections. Hence we are told since the Flood, “ Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man."
But there is still a higher sense in which man might have borne the image of his Maker; and that is, in respect to his righteousness, or true holiness. God hath a moral, as well as natural character; or, he hath moral, as well as natural perfections. Adam, therefore, might have resembled him in his moral, as well as his natural attributes. Adam's heart might have resembled the heart of the Deity, as much as his understanding resembled the divine understanding. And since God designed to make man resemble himself, it is most natural to suppose that he would make him resemble himself in the highest and noblest point of resemblance; that is, in his holiness, or moral excellence. This reasonable supposition we find to be scriptural. For we are assured that God did make Adam a man after his own heart, or in his moral image, by the apostle Paul, who explains the image of God in man, in this noble and important sense. To the Ephesians he says: “ That ye put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” And he represents the Colossians as actually bearing this moral image of their Maker: " Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." It appears from these passages that the image of God in saints consists in moral rectitude, or uprightness of heart. If we allow scripture to explain itself
, we must conclude that God made Adam holy and upright. For we are told by one inspired writer that God made man in his own image, and after his own likeness; and by another, that the image and likeness of God in men consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.
I may observe once more, .4. That the history of Adam from the time of his creation to the time of his eating the forbidden fruit, affords a clear and convincing evidence of his being originally formed in the moral image of his Maker. We are told that after God formed man, the last of his works," he saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” But how could man, who was a moral agent, be very good, unless his heart, or moral character, was pure and holy? Had he been destitute of virtue, or true holiness, he must have appeared extremely odious in the eyes of perfect purity. We are told that God blessed Adam; that he gave him dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowls of the air, and over every living creature; that he
gave him the free use of all the fruits of the earth, and of all the trees of the garden, except one; and that to crown all his other earthly blessings, he provided a help-meet for him, who was bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, the companion of his life, and the promoter and partner of all his felicity. While God bestowed these favors upon him, he gave an implicit approbation of his moral character. Besides all this, God kept up a friendly and familiar intercourse with him. He appeared to him and conversed with him from time to time, with great freedom and condescension. He brought all the animal tribes before him, and allowed him to give them such names as he pleased. He pointed out to him his daily employment, and directed him to dress and keep the garden of Eden. And