« PreviousContinue »
21. The goodness of God to those
who fear and trust in him .. Psalm xxxi. 19...... 128 22. Children instructed to fear GoD Psalm xxxiv. 11..... 132 23. Christ the soul's physician .... Psalm xli. 4 ........ 138 24. God a refuge to his people Psalm xlvi. 1--5.... 141 25. Religion manifested in life and death
Psalm lxxiii. 24-26. 146 26. The New Birth ..
Psalm lxxxyii. 6 151 27. Numbering our days ...
Psalm xc. 12
155 28. The Priesthood of CHRIST Psalm cx. 4 ........ 162 29. The death of God's saints precious
Psalm cxyi. 15...... 169 30. The God of Jacob our help in
the prospect of mortality Psalm cxlvi. 4, 5 ..., 175 31. The consequences of walking with wise men or fools
Proverbs xiii. 20.... 180 32. The expectation of the righteous not cut off
Proverbs xxiii. 18 ... 182 33, Threatening denounced against
the obstinately impenitent.... Proverbs xxix. 1.... 185 34. Remembering our Creator in youth
Ecclesiastes xii. 1.... 187 35. The whole duty of man
Ecclesiastes xij. 13... 194
PLANS OF SERMONS.
THE IMAGE OF GOD.
GEN. i. 27.
God created man in his own image.
Of all the subjects that can possibly come under our consideration, next to the great and glorious Author of our being, man himself claims the first place, and is to man the most important, And, of all the branches of knowledge attainable by us, during our abode on earth, the knowledge of ourselves, is, at once, the most needful, and the most useful. This, indeed has been allowed in all ages, and, rõbe orautòr, know thyself, was a precept inculcated by wise men, thousands of years before our evangelical Poet repeated and urged the advice, in lines which, doubtless, many of you remember,
“Man! know thyself. All wisdom centres there ;
To none man seems ignoble, but to man;
Angels that grandeur, men o'erlook, admire." But what is that knowledge of ourselves which is of such utility and necessity, that all wisdom, it seems, centres in it? Is it the knowledge of our frame or constitution of body or mind? he know himself, who is informed respecting the various materials and parts included in his complex nature, who can dissect, as it were, and anatomize his flesh and spirit, and specify the component parts and powers of each ? By no means. However useful such know
ledge may be, and whatever important ends may be answered by it, it is not that knowledge of ourselves, which is recommended to us in the Holy Scriptures, and in the writings of wise and pious men. Nor, added thereto, is an acquaintance with our ability, or inability for any particular nndertaking, employment, or office, or even the knowledge of our true character, chiefly meant here, but rather, the knowledge of what we were, when we first came out of the hands of our Maker; of what we are now in our fallen and degenerate state, and of what we may, and must be made, in order to our happiness here and hereafter. To this species of self-knowledge let me now engage your attention ; a species of knowledge all implied in, or to be inferred from the account here given us of man at his first creation, compared with what is now matter of daily experience and observation.
According to Moses, the man of God, who beheld the divine glory, and with whom God spake face to face, as a man converseth with his friend ; and who, therefore, has delivered to us,
a lame account of the creation”-as the pride and selfconceit of a modern philosopher has suggested—but a perfectly true and sufficiently clear and full history of that beginning of wonders ;according to Moses, I say, man, at his first creation, was a highly honoured and favoured being. As the work of creation advanced from the less to the more perfect creatures, so man, as being the most perfect of all God's works in this lower world, was made last of all, and not till the whole visible creation, as a sumptuous palace, was completely fitted up, furnished and prepared for his reception. And whereas, in forming the inferior creatures, he only " spake,” and “it was done ; " " commanded,” and “it stood fast;” said, “ Let there be light, and there was light;" 66 Let there be a firmament ;" 66 Let the earth and the waters bring forth,” and “it was so;" designing now to form a far nobler creature than any he had yet made, the phraseology is · altered, and the Eternal Father, addressing his Eternal Word and Spirit, (for so the ancients understood the passage,) says, “Let us make man." It is true, as a well-known commentator observes, “ Man was made the same day that the beasts were, because his body was formed of the same earth with theirs ; and, while he is in the body, he inhabits the same earth with them.” Yet, as he was to be a creature very different from and superior to any of them; as flesh and spirit, heaven and earth, were to be put together in him, and he was to be allied to both worlds, therefore God himself not only undertakes to make, but is pleased to express himself as if he called a council to consider of
the making of him;" Let us make man.” He adds, “ In our image, after our likeness ;” a distinction not observed with regard to any other creature that was formed, as related by Moses. Surely then this circumstance alone effectually distinguishes man from the brutes, and confutes the low and grovelling doctrine of those infidel philosophers, who, denying a future life, sink us to a level with the beasts that perish, and teach that death destroys and annihilates us, as it does our cattle.
But consider we,
I. IN WHAT RESPECTS GOD CREATED MAN AFTER HIS IMAGE.
Some have supposed that the Logos, the Word or Son of God, who was the immediate Creator of man and all things, according to St. John, (ch. i. 3,) assumed, on this occasion, a visible form, and that man was made, even with respect to his body, after a resemblance of Him. And it seems to me that this is not at all improbable, considering how often he appeared to and conversed with the patriarchs and prophets; and, as is likely, with Adam also in the garden, in a human shape. This, at least, we may assert, that, as the Son of God was to assume our nature, to be made flesh, and to be clothed with a body like ours, and, in due time, was to clothe his people with a glory like his own; so at the first creation, he formed the body of man, according to the plan or delineation of that in which he designed to appear himself in the fulness of time, and, probably, surrounded it with rays of glory. And here I might call your attention to the majesty of man's countenance, to which the face of no creature on earth bears any resemblance, to the height of his stature, and his erect structure, looking up towards the heavens, his country and his home, his origin and his end, while the inferior creatures, by their downcast looks, and their grovelling form, show the lowness and meanness of their nature and designation.
But it was the soul, “ the great soul” of man, as one speaks, that was especially formed after God's image, and that in three respects; after his natural, political, and moral image.
After his NATURAL image. It is true in some things man could not be made after the natural image of God, as, for instance, in Self-existence, Independence, Eternity, Infinity, Immutability, Supremacy. These are some of God's incommunicable tributes, and in these neither man nor angel can bear any resemblance to Him. But, God is a Spirit, and the soul of man is a spirit. (1 Cor. ii. 11.) It is a spiritual being as God is, and, although united to filesh, is nevertheless in itself, and with respect to its nature and properties, perfectly remote from, and entirely unlike to every species of matter.-God, the anima mundi, “ the soul of the world,” as the ancients termed him, is invisible. Although he pervades, influences, actuates, and governs the whole universe,
“ Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
As the rapt seraph, that adores and burns; Yet is he not perceived by our bodily eyes or other senses. He is only seen in and by his works. Just so, the spirit of man, the soul of the lesser world, as some have termed man's body, a world which contains all the wonders of the greater, although it inhabits, influences, actuates, and governs all our senses and members, yet is invisible to us, and can only be perceived in and by its operations and effects, as it looks through our eyes, speaks by our tongues, acts by our hands, and uses our various members as the instruments of its will and pleasure.-God is intelligent. This, indeed, may be termed his highest perfection. And the soul of man was formed intelligent, capable of perception, judgment, reasoning, memory.--God is active, never unemployed, so to speak. “My Father worketh hitherto,” said Jesus. And such also is our soul ;
“ Active, aërial, towering, unconfin'd,
Unfetter'd by her gross companion's fall; always employed; for
“ Without employ, The soul is on the rack, the rack of rest ;
To souls most adverse ; action all their joy." God is free; although active, necessarily active, yet possessed of perfect liberty, and infinitely free in acting. And, after a resemblance of him, the soul of man was made free; although neces.' sarily active, yet at perfect liberty to act thus or thus ; to consider, desire, choose, and pursue sin or righteousness, good or evil. “ He placed man in the hands of his own counsel,” said the wise man. Once more;—God is immortal, and he created man to be immortal, both in soul and body, and made him to be an image of his own eternity, not indeed of an eternity past, so to speak, but of an eternity to come.