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case man has not lost it, since he still rules over the creatures which replenish the earth; with this difference, perhaps, that he makes them cruelly feel his tyrannical empire; and if this image has not been effaced in him, why should we be exhorted to recover it, as we shall presently see we are? Others, again, reply to our question, that the image of God consisted in the faculty of the understanding, with which man is endowed, and which so eminently distinguishes him from all other creatures. This answer is less remote from the truth, but it is incomplete. Assuredly we are ready to assign to the understanding a high rank among the noble endowments which constituted the image of God in man. But was this the only thing that rendered man like his Creator? Alas! do we not see in society, beings of a transcendent understanding, in every other respect, completely destitute of a resemblance to God? Have not the greatest criminals that have disgraced humanity frequently been remarkably distinguished for their mental endowments? Yea, are not the devils themselves intelligent and spiritual beings?
Let us allow Scripture to explain itself.
In the fifth chapter of Genesis, we find the two words, image and likeness, employed in a manner calculated to make us understand their meaning in our text. There it is said, that “ Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth.” Now is it not evident, that these words ascribe to Seth all the qualities, physical, intellectual, and moral, which his father possessed? And can we, without doing violence to the grammar itself, restrain the meaning of these expressions in our text, to a certain superiority by which man is distinguished? We think, then, that we are authorized to extend these words to all that which constitutes the character of God, with all the restrictions which the finite nature of man requires. Man resembled his Creator with regard to his intellectual and moral qualities. Doubtless there are, in God, incommunicable perfections which belong to His eternal essence; and, indeed, it is for having arrogated to Himself these august perfections, that man unhappily excavated an abyss of woe beneath his feet. But there are in God moral perfections which He communicates to His creatures, endowed with an understanding to know, and a heart to love. In this sense, man was a reflection, feeble, no doubt, and finite, of the Divinity himself. And will mere reason, a mere respect for the perfections of God, and the nature of His works, permit us to expect any thing but what is perfect from His creating hand? Who, on viewing a clumsy imitation of one of Raphael's virgins, ever thinks of ascribing it to the pencil of that great master? We may be mistaken; we may go too far in endeavouring to point out wherein the image of God in man consisted; but such an error, if it be one, would at least be worthy of God; while to pretend that He, who has impressed the seal of His adorable perfections upon every thing which He has created for His own glory, and for happiness, has allowed a moral being to come out of His hands, sinful and defiled, weak and unhappy, as man now is, would appear to us to border upon blasphemy!
But the revelations of God, which complete and elucidate one another, have not left us to conjecture upon this subject. If the inspired historian, who has disclosed to us the origin of creation, has not told us expressly wherein the image of God, in the first man, consisted, the Bible elsewhere exhorts us
to recover that image; and that we might not remain in ignorance respecting it, it has described it to us with great exactness. If you open the Epistle of Paul to the Colos. sians, (chap. iii. 9-18,) you will find these remarkable words: “ 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!” Upon these words we make two remarks, and propose two questions, which the Apostle has answered by anticipation. And first, there is, in us, something which God did not put into our nature when he created man, since we are here exhorted to put it off. And what is that? It is what the Apostle calls the old man, a metaphorical expression, which he explains himself, in a passage parallel to that which I have just quoted, where he thus expresses himself: “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.” Eph, iv, 22, 23. Is it, then, the understanding alone, that constitutes the image of God in us? Well, then, even that understanding must be “ renewed," and changed. Are we,
66 The new
then, what we have been? Evidently not. Now for our second remark, and then our second question, on this important passage. It follows, from the exhortation of the Apostle, that we must acquire something which we no longer have. And what is it? man, renewed after the image of Him that created him.” We have now come to the idea, and even the expression of Moses, in our text, which will be the more evident, if we remember that the Apostle made use of the Greek version of the Septuagint, from which he copies literally the words of our text, as they are there rendered. Thus the image of God must be reproduced in man; but wherein does it consist? First, the Apostle tells us, in a renewed understanding, in
And for greater precision, and that nothing might be wanting to make the subject clear, he adds, in the passage cited, (Eph. iv. 24,) that this new man is “ created after God (which again means after the image of God) in RIGHTEOUSNESS and TRUE HOLINESS.” These words require no comment; here is the image of God in man.
But that we might be able still better to distinguish the traits of this image, God has
a new man.