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any right purposes, or exercises of heart, these purposes and exercises are as entirely their own, as if they were originated in themselves, without any divine decree, or any other extraneous cause whatever. At the same time, it is plain, that every right exercise is wrought in them, according to the eternal purpose, and good pleasure of God. The same idea is expressed in the prophecy of Ezekiel. In the first place, sinners are exhorted even to make themselves a new heart, and a new spirit, and to turn themselves from all their transgressions. In the next place, the Lord says, “ A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will cause you to walk in my statutes, and
shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Here it is evident, that both divine and human agency are employed in the production of the new heart. "David in prayer expressed the same idea. 6 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew in me a right spirit.” God is the sole cause of holy exercises in the hearts of sinful med; but sinners are, at the same time, required to be holy in heart and life: and whenever holiness takes place in their hearts, it consists in their own voluntary agency, and not in the agency of God. The agency of God as the cause of human agency, in this case, alters not the nature of human agency, in any measure, nor in any sense what
Both God and man act freely, of choice, and not of constraint or compulsion.
4. From a consideration of the great and solemn doctrine of divine decrees, we learn, that by them, every good is secured ; and every evil, which is not essential, in the plan of infinite wisdom and goodness, to bring about the greatest general good, is prevented. What a glorious doctrine is this ! How happily calculated to give us the most sublime and exalted views of the infinite Jehovah! Calculated to abase all human pride, and vain glorying! Calculated to inspire us with a reverential awe and fear of the Lord, and to excite in our minds an unlimited confidence in him! Nothing is better calculated to excite religious devotion. To those who cordi
THE ORIGINAL CHARACTER AND STATE OF MAN.
ally embrace this doctrine, the infinite God appears to be worthy of praise and adoration ; and to him be rendered dominion and glory, forever and ever. Amen.
The original Character, and State of Man.
- HAVING proved the being and perfections of God, and considered his wonderful works together with his holy and wise sovereignty, and his eternal purposes or decrees; we may, in the next place, take into view the original character and state of mankind.
When the Almighty God, by the word of his power, had created the heavens and the earth, and all their hosts, in the space of six days; it was reserved as the concluding part, and, as it were, the finishing stroke, of this magnificent work, to create mankind. Man was made rational and immortal. God breathed into him the breath of life, and he became a living soul. Man also sustained a dignified rank; he was made but a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor. Possessed of reason and understanding, man was well qualified for the elevated station allotted him in this lower world. Accordingly, “ God gave him dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." And in the conclusion of the narrative, it is said, “ God saw every thing that he had made, and behold' it was very good.”
From this concise history of the creation of man, it is very natural and reasonable to understand, that he was made perfectly holy. Like every thing else in its kind, man also in his kind, was pronounced very good. He was doubtless created a moral agent; for this was essen: tial to distinguish him from the brutal creation. And if,
as a moral agent, he was, by his Creator, pronounced very good; what could it imply, short of his being perfectly free from sin ? Being a moral agent, he was capable of being holy or sinful, even in his very nature, and in the disposition of his heart. And as his moral nature and faculties constituted infinitely the most noble part of his existence; it is evident, that his goodness, which was pronounced by his Creator, consisted chiefly in righteousness and true holiness.
But, to establish this point, we are not straitened for evidence. The testimony of the wise man is, “ God made inan upright; but he hath sought out many inventions." By these many inventions is doubtless meant wicked devices. For these are stated as a contrast to that uprightness, in which his original character consisted. Consequently, his original character was holy. In the scriptures, uprightness is a term expressive of the moral charaeter, and of that only. It is always expressive of holiness. “ Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.” The Lord is said to be upright, and the prayer of the upright is his delight.”
Again ; If man was created with a sinful, or even a mixed character ; how are we to understand the history of his apostacy ? From what did he apostatize ? Did he apostatize from a state of sinfulness, or of holiness. Certainly from a state of holiness. Had he been created with a mixed character, such would have been the account of him, in the history of his apostacy. Had he been of a mixed character, he must have been, in some degree, unhappy in Paradise.
Some suppose, that if man was made holy, his holiness must have been passive, and involuntary, and void of moral quality. This goes on the supposition, that God cannot create a moral agent; and of course, cannot form the hearts of mankind and turn them from sin to holiness after they are created. But is not the king?s heart in the hand of the Lord ? and does he not, as the rivers of water, turn it whithersoever he will? However philosophical men may appear, in denying the power of God to create
moral agents, yet they are directly opposed to divine testimony. For when all things were prepared for the creation of man, who was to be, in his creation, infinitely more noble than any of the creatures he had made. The Lord said, “ Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” Although the image of God may sometimes imply the rational faculties of the man; yet not excluding the more noble faculties. Nor could it be said, with the least propriety, that man was made in the image of God, and herehy greatly dignified; unless he was made holy as God was holy. In this sense, Paul understood the image of God, as we learn from his exhortation ; " And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and put on the new man, which after God," that is, after the likeness or image of God, “is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Another passage, of the same import is this, “ We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of God." The holiness of the Lord is that in which his transcendent glory chiefly consists. To be changed into the same image, therefore, is to be made holy as he
From this illustration of the image of God, which is, in a measure, restored to man in regeneration, it is evidentthat the image of God, in his creation, consisted in righteousness and true holiness. When God created rational and moral beings, such as angels and men, he formed their moral character as the Psalmist says, " He fashioned their hearts alike;" that is, equally, or one as well as another. God is the Father of our spirits, as well as the former of our bodies. All that appertained to man, in the day of his creation, as to faculties or character, was the effect of creative power and goodness. God manifested his complacency in mankind as soon as they were created, and furnished them with a Paradise, full of delights. He treated them as his friends, and the objects of his parental care and affection. He abounded in expressions of his love, which would have been utterly
inconsistent, had they not been in a state of perfect holi
In the plain and obvious sense of the words, therefore, “ God made man upright.”
As to the state of mankind, in which they were created; it was a state of felicity. It was a state of mind perfectly free from all selfish and corrupt affections, perfectly free from envy, malice, or ill will ; perfectly joyful in God, and submissive to his will ; perfectly free from shame, remorse or regret ; full of joy in God, and in his holy and wise government. The bodily state, in which man was created, was as happy as a bodily existence is capable of being made. Of all possible worldly delights, the first parents of our race had a fulness. These were received with great thankfulness of heart, though they constituted but a small part of human felicity. The highest felicity of man, in his original state, was of a heavenly nature; but probably fell short of the happiness of heaven in its degree. Man was made a little lower than the angels, and capable of a less degree of felicity, In their original state, mankind experienced no tokens of divine displeasure; but the highest tokens of divine approbation. Man was, indeed, destined to moderate and pleasing labor ; but to suffer no inclement seasons, no painful embarrassments ; no ill success, in all their la. bors for a subsistence. Adam and Eve performed their pleasant labor in the garden of Eden, to keep it and to dress it. Their labor might be attended with a degree of weariness; and probably with a degree, suited exactly to sweeten the hours of rest.
Though mankind might not, in their original state, have been made altogether invulnerable ; yet they might, and probably did, in a remarkable degree, enjoy divine protection. So that, in fact, they suffered no real evils, in consequence of their partaking of flesh and blood. The world, in its original state, was exactly fitted for the accommodation of man, and of all the living creatures, which were subject to his dominion. All yielded a willing and peaceful subjection ; and all were at peace among themselves. The earth was made perfectly convenient and fruitful, perfectly healthful and pleasant; and since man