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THE ORIGINAL STATE OF THE WORLD FAR MORE EXCEL
LENT AND DESIRABLE THAN THE PRESENT.
Genesis i. 31.
And God saw every thing, that he had made, and, behold,
it was very good. THESE words present us with the view which the Lord had, when his works of creation were completed. And they are represented to be glorious and excellent; worthy of a Being supremely wise and good. Mankind readily discern and acknowledge that some of the divine works bear evident marks of divine goodness; and they are ready to conjecture, that some are not stamped with wisdom nor benevolence. But the Creator himself has declared them all not only to be good, but to be very good. All the works which God created, in six days, have, in the view of infinite wisdom and goodness, been considered as superlatively excellent; and as such they are announced to man, who should view them in the same light. Doubtless, one reason, why mankind are no more astonished and affected with the displays of the wondrous, goodness of God in his works of creation, is, that they have such limited or scanty views of the divine works, consequently they are unable to discern to a very great extent the supremely benevolent design. The more any one becomes acquainted with cause and effect, and the more he is enabled to search into the nature of things, so far as man is capable, by contemplating the works of nature; the more is he led to see and admire infmite wisdom and goodness.
Another reason, why many do not see, that every thing which the Lord has made, is very good, is, that they confine their views to the world and its inhabitants as in a state of condemnation and not in their original state. They do not consider how very different the appearance and reality of things were, before the flood, and especially before the entrance of sin into the world. The earth and every thing that pertains to it, are materially changed and under the curse of God in consequence of the sin of our first parents and of the sins of the world. By contrasting the present and the original state of God's works of creation, our views may be enlarged concerning the divine goodness. Let me repeat the words of the text: “ And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Thus the great Creator viewed his works, on the sixth day, when the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. They not only as a stupendous system exhibited the wisdom and goodness of God, but every part both in the natural and moral creation was admirably designed to manifest the being and perfections of Jehovah. Infinite wisdom and benevolence devised the wondrous scheme; and almighty power gave existence. As the Lord is by nature invisible, so the manifold works of creation are the book of nature, in which finite intelligencies may read, and form consistent and exalted views of his true character. In the illustration of the present subject, but few things can be noticed. The object will be to show, that the original state of the world both in a natural and moral point of view, was far more excellent and desirable than the present. Scripture, reason, and probability are to be the aids to establish the point. Man and his varied situations and relations will constitute the chief part of this discourse, though not exclusive of the material world and the animal creation.
Ist. The goodness of God will appear very conspicuous, if we consider the soul of Adam, the father of the human race, in its original state, as he was created on the sixth day. As the soul of man is the most excellent part of any of the works of this lower world, so we should naturally conclude, that it would be the nearest resemblance of its Author. And with such a conclusion the following, scriptural account is in entire accordance. So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him. The Lord is a Spirit, or an intelligent Being, whose understanding is infinite. The soul or intelligence of man is finite, a mere image of the omnipresent, invisible Jehovah. And as the Lord is infinitely holy, and most righteous in all his ways, so we are taught, that God, made man upright. Thus all mankind bear the natural image of their Maker, as they are intelligent beings; and our first parents were created after his moral image in a state of perfect holiness. How happy then must have been such a state; how much resembling that of the holy and blessed angels. The soul of Adam was doubtless more capacious than that of any of his offspring; and his means of improvement and advancement must have been far superiour to those of any of his fallen race.
This is evident from the consideration, that sin introduces natural evils, mental as well as bodily. Whether our first parents had a language, suited to their original state, implanted in their very natures, and innate; or whether the Lord thus furnished them in a supernatural manner, we cannot tell. However, that they had such a language and correspondent knowledge, reason would teach as well as scripture. The description, of Adam's giving names to all the animals of the earth, will throw much light on this subject. Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam, to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name
thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field. The idea which some entertain, that Adam though very happy, had but little knowledge, is entirely groundless, and every way inconsistent.
It is founded perhaps on the expression of Satan, “ Ye, shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” But what must be the proper import of such a temptation? Truly this. Eat of the forbidden fruit, and your extensive knowledge and enlarged views will be supernaturally augmented; and ye, who are but little lower than the angels, will at once be equal to them. The serpent, from dread experience, knew, that the suggestion of the highest possible attainments of knowledge, would be the most likely to excite ambition in the heart of one of a capacious mind, and of clear and sublime views. Aspiring to be gods, angels fell; aspiring to be angels, man rebelled. But the race of Adam have souls inferiour to him, in consequence of the diseases both of the mind and of the body. How extensive the capacity, how great the knowledge, how holy and happy must have been our first parents, whilst in that blessed situation, the garden of Eden! When we consider the soul of Adam in a state of innocence, a living, holy image of its Creator, the divine goodness shines conspicuously; for the Lord himself saw, that it was made very good.
2nd. If we compare the human body in its original state and present condition, the divine wisdom and goodness will be very manifest. No doubt Adam had the most regular, bodily form, and the most beautiful and interesting countenance of any mere man, that ever lived. Then, not only the human soul, but the human body, was in a state of
perfection. Then, was man the immediate offspring of God, and he breathed air so pure, that his body was not subject to sickness and mortality. By reason of sin every manner of disease and
death itself have entered the world.
Hence, the beauty, vigour, and activity of the human body are greatly degenerated. Irregular forms and features, constitutional diseases and the prevalent distempers of mortals, finally all bodily infirmities, are the effect of human apostacy. This, and more than this, is implied in the expression, dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Human bodies are become corrupt by irregular, sensual desires, by sinful passions and vitiated appetite. All the affections and passions of man in his original state were for good, and his reason and appetite were in perfect unison. But how sadly reversed the present state! Constitutional sins originate chiefly from the irregularities of the human body; hence the minds of many are excited by what is denominated the right eye sin from some of the defects or irregularities of the animal frame. Many have their minds greatly beclouded and deprest nearly all their days, on the . account of some local complaint, or perhaps a variety of bodily maladies. But the healthful and vigorous body of Adam, and the perfect state of the various senses, would be almost constant inlets of entertainment, and sources of joy. Had he not apostatized from God, his body would never have fallen a prey to death, but would probably have been translated, or instantly changed into a spiritual body, like the bodies of Enoch and Elijah, and like the change that shall be produced in those, that shall be on the earth, at the time of the sounding of the last trump. Originally the human frame was a most beautiful temple, containing a perfect, human soul. But now it is a decaying tabernacle, inhabited by a degenerate, apostate spirit. Not only was the soul of man made after the image of God; but a most perfect human body was formed to be its suitable companion and partner. This is fairly infered from the expression, behold, it was very good. Then we may see, that far more excellent and desirable was