The Loss and Restoration and Restoration of the Image of God in Man;
- BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF TWO SERMONS, PREACHED AT PROVIDENCE CHAPEL, ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1800.
"But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I worked,.." John, v. 17.
We have an account in this chapter of a pool called Bethesda, or the House of Mercy, having five porches, which I suppose were a sort of alcoves, arched over, to screen the poor impotent folks from the inclemency of the weather. These five porches may be emblematical of the different points of light in which the elect of God may be considered. 1. They were from all eternity in the purpose of God. 2. And, as chosen in Christ Jesus, they may be considered as in him, according to Jude, "preserved in Christ Jesus, and called," Jude, 1. 3. They are likewise in the promise of God; "A seed shall serve him, and it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation; the children of the promise are counted for the seed." 4. They are in the covenant of grace; "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my Servant: his seed will I make to endure for ever, and build up his throne to all generations." And, 5. They must all be brought into a state of grace, and to be of the household of faith. But, as considered in themselves, they are impotent folks, through the fall, and have many infirmities about them, though they are sheltered from eternal ruin and destruction.
The means of God's appointment for the conversion of these sinners, such as preaching the pure gospel, attended with God's grace and a holy experience of it in the hearts of the preachers, and this attended with the Holy Spirit, is often in the scriptures compared to rivers, springs, and pools of water; but, unless the Angel of the Covenant, by his Spirit's operations, gives life, power, and efficacy to the means, none are healed of their spiritual diseases, the excellency of the power being of God, and not of men; and without faith, there is no stepping into the power and enjoyment of these things. Among these impotent folk lay one poor man who had had an infirmity thirty and eight years. The omniscient Saviour, knowing that he had been long in that case, asked him if he would be made whole. The poor man, having no hopes but in the pool, complained in answer to our Lord's question, that when the waters were troubled he had no man to put him in, but another stepped in before him. Jesus saith unto him, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked; and on the same day was the sabbath." The Jews, seeing him carry his bed, tell him it is unlawful to do so on the sabbath-day. The man replied, "He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed and walk." The Jews ask him who it was that gave him such orders; but the man could not inform them who his benefactor was, for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Soon after this the Saviour discovered himself to the man in the temple, and said unto him" Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." It seems by this that his long-standing infirmity was a judgment of God upon him for some heinous sin that he had been guilty of; for the Lord intimates that something more dreadful would fall upon him if he relapsed into it again. This man does not appear to me to be one of God's elect, for there is not one covenant blessing pronounced on him - such as his being called a son of Abraham, or that his faith had saved him, or his faith had made him whole, or Thy sins are forgiven thee, or Go in peace, as was commonly done when the recipient of a cure was a chosen vessel. Christ came into this world to save sinners, and took the name of Jesus because he would save his people from their sins; but he says nothing of salvation to this man, but leaves him under a strict command, "Sin no more;" and intimates that a heavier judgment would ensue if he broke it, "lest a worse thing come unto thee." But man has no power against sin. A strict commandment, armed with a threatening sentence, makes sin rage the more, and Satan to labour the harder. Adam and Eve both broke through the bounds. The law is weak through the flesh - without Christ man can do nothing: and it is well for us that the elect are kept by the mighty power of God through fitith unto salvation.
The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus which had made him whole: "Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath-day." Thus did this poor creature raise a persecution against his greatest benefactor. From the whole, there does not appear one favourable symptom that this man belonged to the election of God. He, with many others, receives temporal mercies, deliverances, and benefits, when not one thing that accompanies salvation appears upon them.
The answer that our Lord gives to his persecutors is, that he ever hath been, and still is, a joint-worker with his own Father; "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work :" and, therefore, if he is a profaner of the sabbath, the same reproach must be cast upon his Father. But the Jews were the more stirred up at this, as supposing it to be adding sin to sin; and therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he had not only broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his father, making himself equal with God. If this deceiver (as the Jews called our Saviour) had deceived them in this assertion, of God being his father, and of his being a co-worker with him, and equal to him, he never drops one hint to undeceive them; he neither denies his sonship, nor his equality with the Father, but goes on to confirm it by infallible proofs, as will appear hereafter.
"My Father worketh hitherto,and I work," John, v. 17. In giving you my thoughts on this text, I shall take but little notice about creating the world, upholding the world, governing the world, disposing of all things in the world, destroying and renewing the world, or judging the world; for all these things are subservient to one grand end; all things are for the elect's sake. Christ created all things: he upholds all things by the word of his power; and he has power over all flesh; all things that the Father hath are his. He will destroy this world, burn up the earth, and fold the heavens together; he will make all things new, and be the only judge of quick and dead. The work that our Lord and his Father are engaged in appears to me to be one principal work; and to serve the turn of this are all other things created and upheld; and it was this work that our Saviour had in his eye when he spoke the words in my text. To form a human race, and to bring an innumerable company of that race to eternal glory by Jesus Christ, is the grand work that God had in view from everlasting. Hence Christ was set up to be future man and mediator from that date. Moreover, it was the determination of God that the multitude of his elect should be brought to glory in the likeness of his dear Son. This was determined on in God's councils of old, whose councils are faithfulness and truth, and in both which we are deeply concerned. Hence, at the creation, when the first man was formed, and we in him, Adam is said, by the Holy Ghost, to be "the figure of him that was to come," Romans, v. 14. To this likeness were the elect predestinated, and in this likeness was man created; and it is as plain that the grealest blessing of all blessings, or the principal thing in God's image in man, was LIFE; and therefore with the loss of this invaluable blessing was he threatened, in case of disobedience; "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, dying thou shalt die," Gen. ii. 17. But man sinned: "Sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all, for all have sinned." Hence the image of God, with all its divine adornings on the mind, is utterly defaced, and the greatest of all blessings, that of life, is lost. To restore this image, and bestow this blessing of divine life, is the sole work that our Lord alludes to in my text, as plainly appears in the whole of his reasonings with the Jews. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, "The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth; and he will shew him greater works than these, that ve may marvel." And these greater works follow: "For, as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will," John, v. 20, 21. This work of raising dead sinners, and quickening them, justifying and sanctifying them, keeping them alive and saving them, quickening their mortal bodies, and raising them up in his own image and likeness, and bringing them to a life of glory in heaven, is called greater works than healing a cripple; and, indeed, it is greater than all miracles; and this the Saviour tells his persecutors would make them all marvel. And, indeed; the completion of this great work at the last day, will be a wonder and an astonishment to all the enemies of Christ and his church, and to all whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life. In handling these words, I shall endeavour to prove,
I. That the grand work, determined on in the secret council of the Holy Trinity from everlasting, was to bring a certain and determinate number of the human race, in the likeness of the Son of God, to heaven and endless glory by him.
II. That the image of God in Adam was the noblest and the grandest work that appeared in the whole creation when the world was made.
III. That the principal thing, or the most invaluable blessing, in the whole image of God in Adam, was LIFE.
IV. That there was something of this blissful and paradisaical state shadowed out to Israel in the land or promise.
V. That the incarnation of Christ, his sufferings and death, the proclamation of the gospel, and the mission of the Holy Ghost, are to restore the lost image of God (the Saviour) to God's elect among the sons of men.
VI. And last, That the grand appearance the saints will make mn heaven, and their eternal felicity there, will be the truth and the substance of what was typified and shadowed out to Adam in Paradise. I begin with the first,
Which is to prove, That the grand work determined on in the secret council of the Holy Trinity from everlasting was, to bring a certain and determinate number of the human race, in the likeness of the Son of God, to heaven and endless glory by him. Upon this point the Holy Ghost, by the great apostle, is plain: "For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son," Rom. viii. 29. Whom the omniscient God foreknew with a knowledge of love, with a knowledge of choice, with a knowledge of approbation and delight, these he also did predestinate; he did predetermine, immutably fix, and by an irrevocable decree, ordain, that these persons, thus foreknown, should be conformed to the image of his Son. In pursuance of this appointment was that identical seed of the Virgin Mary pitched upon, chosen, and appointed of God to be joined or united to the divine person of the Son of God. Hence the Father's declaration of this choice, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth." Here Christ appears (thus considered) the first in choice, the first elect; and it is on account of his birth of a virgin being first determined, as well as on the account of his inconceivable and eternal sonship, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, that he is the first-born among the chosen family; and so says Paul," Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren," Romans, viii. 29. In this decree of election he is considered first and head; for all the rest were chosen in him. As head and representative, as future man and king mediator, "he was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was," Proverbs, viii. 23. As God, and as such abstractedly considered, he could not be set up; for how can the most high God, who is higher than the heavens, be set up any higher than he is? In this decree of election Christ was appointed the everlasting father also of all the chosen family; and this was figured out at the creation of Adam, whom Paul calls" the figure of him that was to come," Rom. v. 14. Hence he is called the last Adam; he is the last Adam in order of time, but the first in the purpose and appointment of God.
This decree of election must be resolved wholly into the divine sovereignty, good-will, and pleasure of God; but with respect to Christ, he, being first in the choice, and in whom the choice of a11 the rest was made, he is the basis or foundation in whom the decree stands fast. Hence the declaration of it by God himself, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded," 1 Peter, ii. 6. All that God foreknew he made choice of, and gave them to Christ; he made them his charge, and ordained them to life by him; who is sure to be faithful to him that appointed him to this grand trust and charge. "The foundation of God standeth sure; having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his."
I shall now proceed to consider what it is that we are predestinated and appointed to. Paul says we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. We may likewise consider what those divine ingredients, of which this image consists, flow from, and what those heavenly partakers are.
1. They all flow from the free, sovereign love of God, which alas set upon Christ as future man, and upon us in him, before ever the world was made: "I have loved thee," saith God, "with an everlasting love, and therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." But it may be objected by some, that although the love of God in that text is called an everlasting love, or a love which will ever last or continue, yet it is not said to be from everlasting. Answer: The Saviour says, speaking to his Father in this short prayer, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world," John, xvii. 23, 24. God's love to Christ and his church was before the world was made. Sovereign love precedes our adoption; for our sonship is the blessed result of it: "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," 1 John, iii. 1. And this love was fixed upon Christ, and upon us in him, before the world was made. I am not speaking of the love that God had to his own dear Son, as such, who is called the Son of the Father in truth and love; because his love to us cannot be in the superlative degree, as it is to him; I am speaking of the love which God fixed upon Christ as future man and mediator, of which Christ speaks, John, x. 17. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again." It was the life of the man that was laid down, and this love was set on him as such. Between this, and his love to us, there is a very great resemblance: "Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me." This love set upon Christ, as head of the family, is likewise upon all the children in him, as will soon appear; and, though sometimes the enjoyment of it is withdrawn from the children for the trial of their faith, or for their misdemeanors, and their sins are visited with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes, yet it is still the same, and eternally secured to them in the covenant Head; and so it follows, "Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me," Ps. lxxxix. 35, &c. In view of this our holy apostle triumphs, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" No; "neither height, nor depth, nor life, nor death, nor angel, nor principality, nor power, nor things present, nor things to come, shall ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Hence it is plain that the love of God is eternally secured to us in Christ the head. I now proceed,
2. To treat of our sonship, to which we were predestinated.
The highest character of our Lord Jesus Christ is that of the Sos of God; he being God's only begotten son, the son of the Father in truth and love, of the same divine nature with him, distinct in personality from him, and one in essential divinity with him. - Now, as God has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son, so he hath predestinated us to the adoption of Children, that our character may, in some measure, answer or agree with his. And I believe that the highest character, and greatest honour, that ever was put upon a human creature in this world, is that of a son or a daughter of the Lord God Almighty. It is much higher than that of princes, kings, or emperors; for these are common in this world. And, though the name "Son of God" is sometimes applied to angels, Job, xxxviii. 7, magistrates, Psalm lxxxii. 6, 7, and hypocrites, Gen. vi. 4; yet there is a distinction to be made between their sonship and ours. Angels are sons by creation, as all men are, Mal. ii. 10. Magistrates are only so by office; but at death they "die like men, and fall like one of the princes," Psalm lxxxii. 7. And hypocrites are only nominally so by an external profession, and are called so only because they outwardly appear such. But a son of God by pre-adoption, and manifestly so by spiritual regeneration and faith, is a most wonderful honour, and a very exalted character. And this appears in the Almighty's most gracious and encouraging promise, "Neither let the son of the stranger that hath joined himself to the Lord speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people; neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; even unto them will I give in mine house, and within my walls, a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off," Isa. lvi. 3-5. It is easy to see what this everlasting name is which is to abide. The eunuch complains that he is a dry tree, he hath no sons nor daughters; therefore he cannot be under the blessing pronounced upon him that hath his quiver full of children; and another part of his complaint is, he hath no sons to keep up his house, family or name. To these complaints God answers, "I will give him a place in my house, and a name better than of sons and of daughters;" a place in my house that is better than a lot of inheritance in the promised land. And the name of a son of God is better than the name of a father, which a man obtains by having sons and daughters. Let a man's house be never so great, or his family never so innumerable, yet it must be cut off by death; or, if it continue till the day of judgment, it must be cut off from the earth then; but adoption remains for ever. They are called the many sons, when brought to glory, and will be embraced and acknowledged as such by God himself when Christ presents them to his Father, with a "Behold me, and the children which thou hast given me." This is an everlasting name that shall not be cut off, either at death or at judgment. "The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance, when the name of the wicked shall rot."
To this adoption of sons we are predestinated: "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will; to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved," Eph. i. 5, 6. Having shewn and proved that we were loved in Christ with an everlasting love, and that this love was fixed first upon Christ as our head, in whom it is safe, and upon us in him, that we might participate the same love in him, and with him: and that we were predestinated to the adoption of children, that there might be something of a resemblance between us and him in honour and character; so likewise it is determined by God the Father that there shall be something of a family-likeness between the covenant head, the everlasting Father, and his seed. Hence, says the apostle, "Whom he foreknew, those he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son," Rom. viii. 29. Now, if the good Spirit of my God will be so kind as to lead me to point out clearly what we were predestinated and appointed to, or what that is that is given to us in Christ Jesus in eternal election, we shall see what this image of his Son is to which we are predestinated to be conformed. And,
1. It seems to stand in wisdom and understanding. This the great apostle points out to us: "Howbeit, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Which none of the princes of this world knew; for, had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory," I Cor. ii. 6-8. This wisdom is a spiritual and an experimental knowledge of Christ, and of God as a covenant God and Father in him, given by the Holy Ghost; and is attended with a believing insight or view by faith into his secret purposes and grace, into his good-will of promise in Christ Jesus, that we might know most assuredly, by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, the things which are freely given us of God; such as his eternal love to us, the gift of Christ to us, and all saving benefits and spiritual blessings in him. Hence we have the promise of a knowledge of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, by the three-fold witness they bear in the souls of all believers upon earth. The love of God the Father, when shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, says, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." Thus we come to God the judge of all; and God leads us to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the fountain open for sin and uncleanness. This is the blood of sprinkling that speaks pardon, peace, reconciliation, and friendship; and these are better things than were spoken by the blood of Abel. And the Holy Ghost cries, Abba, Father;" and bears his eternal and invariable witness to our sonship, even in the court of conscience. And this three-fold witness upon earth will most assuredly bring us to the blessed and eternal enjoyment of the holy three which bear record in heaven. In this triune witness on earth we must all meet and agree as one body, if we hope ever to meet in the happy enjoyment of the holy three who bear record above, which three are one; and so says Jesus, "That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in as; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one, and that they may be made perfect in one," John, xvii. 21-23. They must come "to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ," Col. ii. 2. Hence it appears that the first thing in this image of Christ is wisdom, or knowledge. This appears, in the purpose of God, as the first part of Christ's image to which we are predestinated; hence Christ is said to be made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, &c., wisdom stands first. And so it will be found in Adam at creation, and on the saints that are regenerated, and in heaven at last, as I shall endeavour to prove as I proceed. But I must go on to prove,
2dly, That the next divine feature, or heavenly ingredient, in the image of Christ is righteousness. And this we were likewise predestinated to: "Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified," Rom. viii. 30. When Christ was set up from everlasting to be the covenant head and representative, he was made of God unto us both wisdom and righteousness; and on which account he is to be called by this name," The Lord our Righteousness." For, when he consented to become future man and mediator, and agreed to take a human nature on him, and to appear in a human body, which God in his eternal purpose had appointed, and in his purpose prepared; that is, he decreed that it should be prepared by the Spirit of God, and be preserved in its formation from every stain of human defilement; on which account it is called a body prepared; and these things having all passed in the eternal mind, are therefore said to be done. Hence the body is said to be prepared, as the persons John was to make ready are said to be "a people prepared for the Lord," Luke, i. 17. And when Christ had agreed to the assumption of human nature, and in it to offer himself as a sacrifice for sin, according as it is written, "Burnt-offerings, and offerings for sin, thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me. Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God," Heb. x. 5. In which words you have the Saviour's hearty assent, agreement, and acquiesence, both with respect to his assumption of the body prepared, and in the offering himself as a sacrifice for sin; for he says, "Lo, I come; I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." When the Saviour thus undertook we were let go; when he agreed to be made sin for us, who knew no sin himself; by the same agreement we were made the righteousness of God in him. This was promised to the Saviour in the councils of old, and agreed to in the covenant, which is called a covenant of promise; and this is one of the promises, "Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified," Isa. Ix. 21. Let us take a little survey of this work of God's hands, and what we are to understand by "the branch of God's planting." I have proved, that in the secret councils of old, when Christ undertook to become our surety, and to make his soul an offering for sin, that we were made the righteousness of God in him, he being made wisdom and righteousness to us; and therefore he is to be called The Lord our Rigbteousness. But no man can come to Christ except God the Father draw him; and when it pleases God, by a law work, to root us up out of the soil of corrupt nature, and from all self-righteousness, and to cut us off from the old stock, and bring us out of old Adam's family, and to lead us to Christ, and to accept us in the beloved, then he enables us to say, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." This is called translating of us, or transplanting us into a better soil; a noble vine, wholly a right seed; being then called" branches in the true vine," or wild olive branches grafted into the good olive tree, to partake of the goodness and fatness of the good olive-tree; that in him we may have righteousness and strength, and bring forth the fruits of righteousness. Righteousness may be considered as a perfect obedience to some law, or rule of righteousness; in which obedience a person stands upright before it, and doth not fall under it, so as to be cast and condemned by it when they come to be tried or judged. Hence that saying, "The wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." But there are some that will stand, and that with intrepidity, even in that day when all God's books will be opened, and the secrets of every heart made manifest, and every work brought into judgment; for so it is written, "Watch ye therefore and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and stand before the Son of man," Luke, xxi. 36. Paul tells us that" we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith," Gal. v. 5: that is, he hoped in that great day to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 9; and this Paul calls the obedience of one, that is, of Christ, Rom. v. 19. This day will try all sorts of righteousness; and the highest touchstone of all righteousness will be that of the glorious revelation of that most tremendous attribute or pertection in God called justice, or righteousness; for the great day will bring this to light: "He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is judge himself," Psalm v. 4-6.
As it has been a custom in some countries for persons, after taking a trial, when they have been found innocent, and have been honourably acquitted and justified, to be crowned with a garland of leaves and flowers, prepared by their friends, which was done to make their innocence or righteousness appear conspicuous to all; so the apostle, having embraced the abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness, expected to reign in life by Jesus Christ, Rom. v. 17. And he was so effectually assured of this, that, in the prospect of a violent death, and in full view of an immediate appearance before God, and in expectation of a more remote standing before the judgment-seat of Christ, he could say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is a crown of righteousness laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing," 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. The apostle had embraced this gift of righteousness at the beginning of his profession; and he had preached it, and abode by it, throughout the whole course of his ministry; and he expected to receive it as his wedding garment, at the consummation of the marriage of the Lamb, and to be crowned with it at the general doom, and to appear in it as his royal purple in the kingdom of glory. And this he expected as a free-grace gift, and therefore says, "Which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day." And this he knew would come in a way of strict justice; for God is as just to his promises made in Christ as he is to his threatenings out of him, and as righteous in the distribution of his favours as he is in the execution of his sentences. Righteous souls, and a righteous God, shall both meet together in Christ Jesus; he will accept them in the righteousness that he has prepared for them and given to them, and they shall see him, even the righteous judge with joy. God ever did, and he ever will, appear just in every justification of them which do believe, or have believed, in Jesus, as well as their justifier. I must now hasten on to my naxt head, which is,
3dly, To consider the next, or third, glorious feature in this divine image of the Son of God, to which we were predestinated to be conformed; and this particular is holiness. Upon this our great apostle is plain: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings heavenly places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in before the foundation of the world, that we should he holy without blame before him in love," Eph. i. 3, 4. Here our apostle says that we were blessed in Christ with all spiritual blessings, according as he hath chosen us in him; and three of these spiritual blessings are named: the first is holiness, which is to be our meetness to appear before him; for without holiness soul can see the Lord; the second is, our appearing without me, irreproveable and irrebukable; and the third blessing is love; in which, when perfected, there is no fear. But holiness is what I must consider. We know there is no real holiness but in God he is the only one, in and of himself; and the fountain of holiness to all others that are holy, whether they be holy angels, the spirits of just men made perfect, or holy men, called "holy brethren, partakers of the holy calllng."
And this holiness is not a ceremonial holiness, obtained by sanctifying or purifying the flesh with the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean. For nothing of this sort could make the comers unto them clean as touching the conscience, much less make them holy.
Nor is this holiness to be obtained by works of righteousness done in obedience to the moral law. None could stick closer to it than some of the Jews did; as the young man in the gospel who had kept all these things; and the elder son in the parable, who had never transgressed. Nicodemus and Paul also. And indeed that whole generation was "pure in their own eyes, though never washed from their filthiness," Prov. xxx. 12.
Nor does this holiness consist in an external reformation made the preaching of the gospel, as when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, and the man finding the house empty, or the devil departed from it, sets about sweeping and garnishing of it with a little legal repentance, or the motions of natural passions stirred up, as of sorrow, as they had who "howled upon their beds," Hosea, vii. 14; or the passion of joy moved, as the stony-ground hearers had, who "heard the word, and anon with joy received it;" for these things, together with light in the head, knowledge, zeal, and spiritual gifts, either to converse, pray, or prophesy, will never make a man holy: no, nor yet a conformity to any of the outward ordinances of the gospel; such as joining a church, making a public profession and confession of Christ, submitting to baptism as Simon Magus did, or receiving the sop as Judas did; no, nor filling up our places in God's house, nor walking constantly in fellowship with the saints, though it be to the end, as the foolish virgins did. There is no real holiness in all this, nor in any of these things, though there are thousands and tens of thousands that are wrapped up and secure enough in these webs. But this is not the holiness that the elect were chosen unto, nor is it any thing like it; it is like Jezebel's painted face; and many are as pleased with it as she was; but it has not the least resemblance of that inward and all-glorious adorning of the king's daughter, Psalm xlv. 13. Whatever this holiness is, it is something that is to be experienced and enjoyed in Christ Jesus. Without being united to him there is no holiness in any man; so says Paul, "According as he hath chosen us in him, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." Hence it is plain that those who are out of Christ can know nothing about holiness experimentally, but what they know naturally: and as natural knowledge puffeth up, so men, by such knowledge, corrupt themselves, by soaring aloft in self-love or self-admiration, as Satan did, till he fell into condemnation for his pride. And we are informed that in the last days there shall be a good deal of this in professing men; "Men shall be lovers of themselves, proud, boasters," &c.; and we have plenty of these in our days. In Christ Jesus God hath chosen his people, that they might be holy; and interested in his salvation must every one be who participates of this holiness. Christ is made sanctificalion to us, as well as wisdom and righteousness; and it is not without cause that he is so often called The Holy One of Israel; because all true Israelites have their holiness in him, and of his fullness do all the children of God receive it. But, as I shall have occasion to speak more fully upon this point when I come to treat of the lost image of Christ being restored to men by the Holy Ghost, I shall pass on to consider,
4thly, The next heavenly lineament in the image of Christ, and that is "glory. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory," 2 Tim. ii. 10. Here the apostle connects election, salvation, and eternal glory, together. And well he may, for we are appointed, by the decree of election, unto both, as will appear by the following quotations: "Take for an helmet the hope of salvation - for God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us," I Thess. v. 9, 10. And, as glory, seems to be the last and finishing stroke of Christ's image in man, that seems to be more fully expressed than any of the former: "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles," Rom. ix. 23, 24. This glory will consist chiefly of light. The light that shined on Moses' face is called glory, the glory of his countenance; "which glory," says Paul, "is done away in Christ." And the light that shined round about Paul at his conversion he calls glory, and says he could not see for the glory of that light, Acts, xxii. 11. The Prophet Isaiah, when he was illuminated, prophesies to others, from his own experience, what Christ would do for them: "Arise, shine, For thy light is come, and the glory of God is risen upon thee, and the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and thy God thy glory; and thy sun shall no more go down." And again: "For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee; and his glory shall be seen upon thee; and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising," Isa. Ix. 2, 3. This most brilliant and illustrious appearance, in which the Saviour visits his church, is the native hue, or natural complexion, of the Son of God; and this may be seen on mount Tabor, where it is said that our Lord took with him three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, and was transfigured before them. But, in truth, his mean appearance that he continually made in the days ot his flesh was rather a transfiguration; for he was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death; though at the same time, as lord and the creator of angels, he had more than twelve legions of them at his beck and call. Indeed, he styles himself lower still; "I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him," Psalm xxii. 6-8. And if the Lord of life and glory appearing in this servile form, and in the midst of such reproach, contempt, and scorn, be not a transfiguration, I know not what is; for sure no being could ever be more altered, changed, or transformed, than his figure and likeness was; especially if we compare the appearance that he has at times made, as described by Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, and John, with that which he made in his suffering circumstances. Ezekiel the first chapter, Isaiah the sixth, and the first of the Revelation by John, contain the best portraits of his natural hue or complexion; and, though all the creation seems ransacked to set him forth there, yet they are all as far beneath the real appearance of Christ, as the omnipresent God and king of glory, as a taper is beneath the sun. To be conformed to this glorious image and likeness we are predestinated, says Paul: nay more, he says the vessels of mercy are afore by God prepared unto glory. This image of Christ, to which we are appointed and predestinated, is to be impressed by the Holy Ghost upon all the chosen seed in regeneration, and to be carried on by the renewing operations of the Holy Spirit till this begun work be perfected and completed. But I must hurry on to the next particular of the image of Christ, which is,
5thly, Love. This is a most striking feature in Christ's image, as he is delineated by the spouse. Having given as good a descrition of him as she could, she sums up all together, and says, "His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem," Song v. 16. Now to this we are appointed also, as I hinted before: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love," Eph. i. 4. This is the perfecting stroke in this image. Hence we are exhorted to put on charity, or love, which is the bond of all perfectness; and charity is said never to fail. This is the badge of our holy profession; it is a seed of God, for God is love; and nothing appears more conspicuous than this in the new man as soon as he is formed. It is by this we know that the spiritual birth has taken place in us; for "he that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God; but he that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." This is the work that was carried on in the secret council of the holy and blessed Trinity from everlasting.
Thus have I shewn you to what the Father hath predestinated and appointed us; to all which the Son of God agreed, with whom the bargain was struck, and with whom the covenant was made, and with whom it stands fast for ever and ever. And, if it be asked what part the Holy Spirit took, or takes, in this work, it shall be proved, as I go on, that the beginning and finishing work of this image in Adam when he was formed, and in the elect when they are regenerated, and in all the saints at the day of judgment, when they shall be glorified, will be done and completed by God the Holy Ghost. But I must hasten to my next general head, which is to shew,
II. That the image of God in Adam was the noblest and grandest work that appeared in the whole creation when the world was made.
Some men, who are wise enough above what is written, and, through the judgment of God upon them, foolish enough below it, have dreamed of the eternity of matter; that the materials of which the world was made ever did exist, and will ever abide the same as it now is. But God, who is the best judge, tells us it is not so; and that faith, which is God's gift, will believe what God says about it. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that the things which are seen were not made of the things which do appear," Heb. xi. 3. The things which are seen were not made of the things which do appear; for, if the matter, or the materials of the world, be eternal, and did ever subsist, however God might alter it, new model it, beautify it, or reform it, this would not have constituted him a maker or a creator, but a repairer, beautifier, or reformer. "Out of nothing, nothing can be made," say some. This, when applied to men, is true, but not with respect to God; for all things are possible with God, and nothing shall be impossible, Luke, i. 37. To make God a reformer of the world, and to ascribe impossibilities to him, is to destroy out of our minds all the sense, reverence, and awe, that we have of his omnipotence, which the creation of the world is calculated to establish; as it is written, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and godhead; so that they are without excuse," Rom. i. 20. His eternal power is to be known by the things that are made; and they who consider not the operation of his hands he shall destroy them, and not build them up. At the creation God's creating voice spoke that into existence, which never existed before; and this is called chaos, the gross and confused materials of the world, which at first was without form, and void of order; but every part of it moved at his word. God spoke, and the creating word which was with God, and was God, went forth, and "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters;" and divided the elements, and made them prolific. God the Father spoke, and the Word and the Spirit instantly executed: "God created all things by Jesus Christ," Eph. iii. 9. But this is not spoken to exclude the Holy Spirit, for the essential Word and the Spirit always work together: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth," Psalm xxxiii. 6. God said, "Let there be light, let there be a firmament, let the waters be gathered together, let the earth bring forth, let there be lights in the firmament to give light upon the earth;" and it was so: "For he spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast," Psalm xxxiii. 9. The allwise Creator did not make man till he he had brought the world into beautiful order for him. He prepared the vast kingdom, and then formed him that he intended should (under himself) have the dominion over it. We have seen, in all the parts of the creation, that they were done by speaking; "He spake and it was done." But about the formation of man, there was a council held among the divine persons: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion," Gen. i. 26. These words were spoken by the Father to the Son, whom the Father possessed before the beginning of his way, Prov. viii. 22; and who, at the creation," was by him, as one brought up with him, and who was daily his delight," Prov. viii. 30. But some, who deny a plurality of persons in God, would make us believe that God spake these words to angels; but angels are creatures, and to apply the speech of God to them is to make them joint-creators and co-workers with God in the creation. But they had no hand in it; they are the morning-stars that sang together, and the sons of God that shouted for joy, Job, xxxviii. 7. And we need not wonder at their being called sons of God, for such they are by creation, and so are we. "Have we not all one father, hath not one God created us?" Mal. ii. 10. And in this sense angels may be called our brethren; and as they are all servants, and as they all minister to the heirs of salvation, they are fellow-servants also; and so they call themselves; "And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel that shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets; worship God," Rev. xxii. 8, 9. Strange it is that there should be such enemies to the Son of God, who, though he be the creator of angels, for "he maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire," Heb. i. 17; yet they would introduce his angels into God's councils, and into the work of creation, before him who is the creator of all principalities and powers. Besides, man was not made in the image and likenes of angels, nor are ever said to be made in the image and likeness of God. To the Word, which was in the beginning with God, and which was God, did God the Father speak when he said," Let us make man in our image after our likeness;" for the image of the Father, and the image of the Son is one; and therefore it is said to be our image, our likeness; for "Christ is the image of the invisible God," Col. i. 15; yea, "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person," Heb. i. 3. This is the council which they held, and what they consulted about, and agreed to; and this they immediately executed: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them," Gen. i. 27. Observe here: in the consultation a plurality of persons appears; "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let him have dominion;" but, in the execution of the work, the unity of the divine essence is preserved; "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul," Gen. ii. 7. God the Father and God the Son formed this human body: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Thus "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work;" and so says the Saviour, "When he prepared the heavens I was there; when he set a compass upon the face of the depth, Prov. viii. 27. I was there; not as a spectator, but as a co-worker; for "all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made, that was made," John, i. 3. Nor is the Holy Ghost excluded from any of the works of creation. The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and divided them from the earth, and impregnated both the earth and the waters. Indeed, he seems to have given the finishing stroke to this lower world; and so he did to the upper world also, as the scriptures witness: "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent," Job, xxvi. 15. By the crooked serpent it is thought, by some, that the galaxy, or milky-way, is intended; because, in the above text, it stands connected with the heavens, and because the milky-way is one of the ornaments with which the Spirit of God has garnished the heavens. And it is as plain that the Holy Ghost quickened and animated Adam, and impressed the image of God upon him. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and so God breathed upon the dry bones of the whole house of Israel in Chaldea, when he is said to put his Spirit into them that they might live; and, in allusion to this at Adam's creation, Christ breathed on the apostles, and said unto them, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." And God's breathing into Adam's nostrils was putting the Holy Spirit into him; and what the Spirit did when he came into Adam the scriptures inform us: "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life," Job, xxxiii. 4. There were many things in the apostles that seem to allude to the creation of Adam. Adam was created by God; the apostles were created anew in Christ Jesus. God breathed into Adam, and Christ breathed on the apostles. The Spirit of God inspired Adam with wonderful knowledge of God's will and of God's works; and the same Spirit led the apostles into all truth. As soon as Adam was formed he forthwith spoke; and, as soon as the Spirit came upon the apostles, "they spake as the Spirit gave them utterance," Acts, ii. 11. What Adam called the creatures, that was their true name; and what the apostles bound or loosed on earth was bound or loosed in heaven. The Holy Ghost formed the soul of Adam, and endowed it with all its faculties, and animated and quickened Adam's body. There was a peculiar life which attended the Spirit's first animation of man, and it is the same most Holy Spirit that quickens God's elect among Adam's dead family now; and thus the Saviour testifies: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life," John, viii. 63. From this passage we may learn, that, according the tenor of God's covenant, God's word and Spirit are always go together; both are given to the Covenant-head; and, by God's appointment, Christ gives them to all his members; so says God, "My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall never depart out of thy mouth, nor it of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. This is my covenant with them," Isa. lix. 21. From all which it appears that the formation of Adam's soul, and the differrnt faculties with which it was enriched, and the light, knowledge, and wisdom, with which it was adorned, together with the image of God upon him, was, all of it, by the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And in this state Adam was the figure of him that was to come, Romans, v. 14; and is called the Son of God, Luke, iii. 38. But I proceed to discourse of God's image in Adam. And,
1. The apostle intimates that it stood in knowledge: "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," Col. iii. 9, 10. Hence it appears, that spiritual knowledge, which was lost by the fall, was, in a measure, restored to these Colossians by the renewing of the Holy Ghost; fir this renewing in knowledge is said to be after the image of the Creator. And, indeed, it appears that the knowledge of Adam was very great; and it is as plain that all spiritual knowledge is given by the Holy Ghost, whether in the old creation or in the new: "There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding," Job, xxxii. 8. Adam's knowledge discovers itself in the names that he gave to the creatures: "For every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, which God formed, did he bring and set before Adam, to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof," Gen. ii. 19. It has been observed by some how applicable the names of the diflbrent creatures, which Adam gave, were to the nature of them. But this is a subject too wonderful for me; but that which he gave to his wife was so most certainly. And yet Adam was in a deep and profound sleep when the rib was taker out of him; and so I believe he was when the woman was formed; therefore he could not have had any sight or knowledge of her till God brought her to him, and set her before him, upon the sight of whom Adam said, "This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man." Thus Adam knew who she was and her origin, and forthwith gave her a name suitable, and assigns a reason for it; and he knew all this by the spirit of revelation and understanding, and by no other way. And it was under the same influence that the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, knew Moses and Elias upon mount Tabor, though they had been gone from this world many hundred years, and had been in heaven, and among the spirits of just men made perfect, and appeared now in a glorified state: yet they had a true knowledge of them, and called them by their names; for the more spiritual and heavenly men are, the higher they come to a perfection of knowledge. But, above all, Adam knew his great Creator with a knowledge of love and delight; and he knew the law that God had given him; and I think he knew something of the rebellion and fall of angels; for the scriptures tell us, that when he went into sin he was not deceived, neither by the devil nor by Eve; he transgressed with both his eyes open; he knew and understood what he was going about before he fell, as will appear hereafter.
2. Adam was created in righteousness and true holiness. These two things being lost in the fall, the apostle hints that these are brought to the soul when we are renewed by the Holy Spirit; for so he speaks, "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. iv. 23, 24. Adam's righteousness was native, and it was creative; it was a part of God's image in which he was made, and it lay in the rectitude and uprightness of his whole man; and it was what the Holy Spirit of God impressed upon him, and influenced him with; but the highest degree of righteousness in him lay in real love to his great Creator, and in the delight and happiness which Adam had in him. The spouse informs us that it is the upright that love the Lord, Song i. 4; and Wisdom adds, "This only have I found, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many inventions," Eccl. vii. 29. The Saviour tells us, that love to God and our neighbour is the grand hinge on which the whole law and the prophets hang; if so, love must be the principal article in Adam's native righteousness; yea, love and delight in God is the quintessence of all real righteousness, as may be gathered from the cheerful expressions of the second Adam, the Lord our Righteousness: "Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is written within my heart," Psal. xl. 7, 8. And now we will look at the good report that Christ obtained by love: "Thou shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name," Psal. xci. 13-15. Christ, in his obedience, set his love on God, and delighted to do his will; and this was the righteousness of Adam, which the Holy Ghost adorned his soul with; and in this he stood complete before the law that was given him, and before his righteous Creator, without any dread or slavish fear of him, for "there is no fear in love; charity thinketh no evil," and therefore can do none.
3. Adam was created holy. "The image of God," says Paul, "is in true holiness." The Holy Spirit entered him when God breathed into him, and influenced all the powers of his soul with holiness; so that he was not only pronounced good, and was pure from every spot or stain, but Paul says, "The image of God is in righteousness and true holiness." Wherever the holy and blessed God has condescended to appear, there is holiness spread all round about him. When Isaiah saw him on his throne, high and lifted up, the seraphim cried, "Holy, holy, holy!" And the very glory overwhelmed the prophet till he appeared, under that influence, a leper from head to foot, Isa. chap. vi. When God dwelt in Jerusalem it was called the holy city; the temple, in which he resided, was called the holy place; yea, when God appeared to Moses in the bush, and Moses was turning round to see the sight, he bids him not draw nigh, but tells him to pull off his shoes from his feet, for "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground." And he ordered Joshua to do the same in the plains of Jericho, and assigns the same reason, "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground." It is the Holy Spirit's influence upon all the elect angels that gives them the character of holy angels; and it was the entering of the Holy Spirit into Adam that made him a holy man. And it is no less now than the divine influence of the Holy Spirit, which he is pleased to spread throughout the whole church, that makes it a holy temple in the Lord, and therefore it is said to be "built for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
4. The sacred writings instance that there was a glory that attended the image of God in Adam, which may be concluded from the following passage: "For a man, indeed, ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man," 1 Cor. xi. 7. And this glory was a divine radiance which shone through all the faculties of his soul, which gave him such light and understanding, and such insight into things, as soon as he was made, so that he spake immediately and sensibly off hand, without ever learning letters or words; and I have no doubt but Adam's face, when he communed so familiarly with God, shone as much as ever the face of Moses did; for something of this glory shines now on the face of every new-born soul when this image is restored. "God is the health of their countenance." In every glorious appearance that the Saviour has made to the children of men (I say, glorious appearance), it has always been with rays of glory on his face, as the eternal God dwelling in the light; and his face is often compared to the sun shining in his full strength, and sometimes to the face of an angel of God, very terrible; as every appearance of divine light is, and must be, terrible to poor corrupted mortals. Adam, as he was a figure of him that was to come, had a divine lustre on his face, as Moses had at the giving of the law, which supported his countenance on that tremendous day; and the same kept the countenance of Stephen from falling when the perjured witnesses and desperate magistrates were driving him to his grave. This is what I take to be the apostle's meaning by the man being "the image and glory of God." If this be denied, I know not what that glory was to which the apostle alludes. With love to God in Adam's heart, and beams of divinity on his face, he spake freely and familiarly with God face to face, as Moses did under the same rays, and that without horror, dread, or fear. Every creature that God brought to him he named, and that was the name of it. And the Almighty seemed very well pleased to hear this little petty prince talk away as he did. As God is the fountain of light, and Christ the true light, it cannot he supposed that God's image in Adam should be express without such a heavenly lustre: and, if I might assert what I really believe, I would say, that the Spirit of God shone in Adam, and through him, and that it was the Spirit of God that spoke in him; and many, besides me, think the same. God was the health of David's countenance, much more the light of Adam's, who was made in the image of God. Oh what a place was paradise! and what a sight was there! There was God the Father, and Christ the express image of him; and there was Adam in the image of Christ, as a figure of him that was to come; and there was Eve, the image and glory of the man. This image was the noblest work in all the creation. Wisdom and power appear in the whole fabric of nature; and faithfulness and truth in the seasons of the year. Justice and judgment appear in the wars and commotions of the world. But his image in Adam had a trait of every perfection of the divine majesty; and therefore this was the noblest work. And this is more plain, because all the elect of God are ordained to appear in it to all eternity. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Which leads me to my next general head, which is,
III. To shew that the principal thing, or the most invaluable blessing in the whole image of God in man was life. This may be concluded from three particulars which appear at the creation. The
1. Is, God's breathing into him, and what followed upon it, which is, "and man became a living soul." He not only appeared with an animated body, but there is a peculiar emphasis laid upon his becoming "a living soul:" he had divine life in his soul. This appears in the word of God. God says to Ezekiel, "Prophesy unto the wind; prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live," Ezek. xxxvii. 9, 14.
2. It may be concluded, from the blessing which God pronounced upon him at his creation. "Male and female created he them. And God blessed them." And sure I am that God's blessing is life. "As many as are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham ;" and none believe but those that are ordained to eternal life. God's spiritual blessing in the gospel is called life: "Upon mount Zion hath God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."
3. The loss of this life is what Adam was threatened with, in case of disobedience, as the greatest loss and the most dreadful calamity that could befall him. Many things Adam lost; as the whole of God's image, communion with God, righteousness, peace, comfort, paradise, and all the fruits and delights of it. But this is all summed up in the loss of life. Life was to go from him immediately upon his transgression; and death, in all its dreadful consequences, was to ensue: "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die! Dying, thou shalt die;" be continually dying, and utterly expire at last. Whatever this life in Adam was, it is expressly called the life of God: "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts," Eph. iv. 18. This life in Adam was spiritual and divine; the Holy Ghost entered into him, and quickened him, and infused life throughout his whole soul: and we know that the entrance of the Spirit giveth life, for it is the Spirit that quickeneth.
4. Adam stood high in the divine favour, as may be seen by the Saviour's own declaration at the creation of the world, "rejoicing in the habitable parts of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men," Prov. viii. 31. God's "anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life;" Adam's was a life in the favour of God.
5. There is life in divine love; and that Adam loved his God is plain, by the freedom and familiarity that he used with him, and that without the least fear or dread upon his soul, at the sight, or at the voice of him; and this may be clearly seen by the enmity which took place in his heart after his fall, when he fled from God, and became alienated from the life of him, and desired to have no more to do with him; but hid himself to shun him. Love and life go together. All gifts, such as knowledge, prophecy, faith to remove mountains, and the tongues of men and angels, make men only instruments without life, if charity or love be absent: if God circumcises our hearts to love him, it is that we may live; and, indeed, all that love the brethren are passed from death unto life. Adam's life was a life of love, and the Holy Spirit gave him both. Without love to God in Adam there could be no obedience. All the laws of God set forth his glory and greatness; and, in the next place, call for love to him with all the heart and soul, mind and strength. The moral law, which is the law of Adam, calls for this; but it is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus which brings it to the souls of men now by the gospel. The gospel is a revelation of the love and good-will of God in Christ Jesus; and the Holy Spirit, accompanying it, sheds abroad the love of God in the nearts of all that believe in Christ.
6. Adam's was a life of communion and fellowship with God. There was a mutual love between the Almighty and this petty prince: he delighted himself in the Almighty, and the Lord took pleasure in Adam's prosperity. For, looking upon him, and seeing him with delight, and considering the enjoyments he had endowed him with, and the honour he had advanced him to, he said, "It is not good that man should be alone;" I will make an help-mate for him; I will make one that shall share in his happiness. And he did so, and brought her to Adam, and, as a father, gave her away to him; God himself honouring this first wedding with his own presence. We have no account of the angels being there. God, Father, Son, and Spirit, were present at the ceremony, when the union took place between Adam and Eve; as they were once since at a marriage in Cana of Galilee, though few of the guests knew it, being more charmed with the generous wine than with their divine company. And, by what my soul has felt, I know they were all three present when my soul was first espoused and united to the great Bridegroom of the church; for it was as if heaven and earth were coming together. In short, Adam's was a spiritual and divine life, with which the Holy Spirit influenced him; it was a life in the favour and love of God, and a life of communion and fellowship with him, and a life peculiar to that state of holy innocence, because it was loseable; and lost it certainly was.
God's mind and will being made known to angels, or his decree published among them, that Adam was a figure of the Son of God, who in future was to become incarnate, and that whenever God should bring his first-begotten into the world, all the angels should worship him, Heb. i. 6; one of them seems to have taken offence at this, and led others into his rebellion. The scriptures tell us that Satan abode not in the truth, that he was charged with folly, and condemned for pride; and when fallen, sought the ruin of Adam; and knowing the law that God had given to man, he disguised himself in the subtlest beast of the field, and took an opportunity when the woman was alone to accost her with the law of God, "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree?" &c. and she answered him not in the words which God had spoken, "In the day thou eatest thou shalt surely die;" but the woman said, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die:" the serpent replied, "Ye shall not surely die," Gen. iii. 2-4. Here Satan obtained the name of "serpent," and the title of "father of lies." A threefold bait was held forth to Eve; 1, "the lust of the flesh;" she saw that the tree was good for food; 2, "the lust of the eyes," and that it was pleasant to the sight; and, 3, "the pride of life," it was a tree to be desired to make one wise; for Satan promised that they should be as gods. John says that these three, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, are all that is in the world; and this is not of the Father, but of the world." Nor has Satan been able to add one more to these three in the practice of five thousand years, nor need he, for these are enough. However, the woman took and ate, and all was over with her. Sin entered, not in a hostile way, but in a lascivious one: strange emotions seized her, much like those wild unaccountable raptures which at times appear in graceless professors, just before they go mad, attended with uncommon light, pride, and consequence: and, having satisfied herself with the fruit, she carried some to her husband, and strongly recommended it; who saw where she was, and was well armed with light and knowledge, with a filial fear, with a good conscience and a sound mind, and not without strong oppositions to it, by the Spirit of God: but she became now a complete mistress of arts, by the ascendancy of Satan over her, and by the possession he had gotten of her; therefore she powerfully enticed him, and persuaded him, and sin having entered into her heart, and the law likewise, it wrought in her the fire of concupiscence, Rom. vii. 8. She was filled with wanton amours, and her eyes and tongue soon preveiled; for she took him with her eyelids, and by the moving of her lips she forced him, and he went after her, against both light and knowledge, like "an ox to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks," Prov. vii. 22. These things God resents; I mean her persuasions and his wilful compliance; for both appear in Adam's sentence, at his arraignment, "Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." Natural affections, together with the charms and artifice of Eve, under the evil influence of Satan, overcame Adam (just as the daughters of Cain prevailed against the sons of God since), Gen. vi. 2, as is plain from the word of God, "For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was rot deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression," 1 Tim. ii. 14. He took of the fruit, and did eat, and all was lost; the eyes of them both were opened; not in a good sense, as when God opens the understanding of poor sinners by the gospel; but in a bad sense, to see what they had lost and what they had gained: as the rich man in hell lifted up his eyes, to see that his soul was lost, and damnation obtained. And so here - the God of this world blinded their eyes with his veil; and all the enjoyment of God's presence and the light of his countenance was hid; and their eyes were opened to see the mystery of iniquity, in the lusts of the flesh, the depths of Satan's guiles, the guilt they had contracted, the shame they were covered with, and the curse or sentence of the law that had entered into them. And just so does the poor sinner find it now - when the commandment comes, and sin revives; all manner of concupiscence is stirred up, with unutterable enmity, malice, and desperation; under which the sinner sees an angry judge; sinks down into the horrible pit, and dies without either hope, help, or expectation Eve's eyes were opened before, and now the eyes of both were opened. The new man of grace, which was God's image, in which they were made, was now put off; and the old man, as he is now called, with all his deceitful lusts, was put on. Satan wonderfully enlightened them into the arts of carnal gratifications; and set these before them as the quintessence of all real pleasures; and so he serves every child of God to this day, when the best beloved is not at home. These evil imaginations entered and abode with them; and it is sin's entrance here that gives him the name of the old man - "the old man which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts," and which deceived them, and is what they have communicated to us. And upon the entrance of these the Holy Spirit, being grieved and offended, forsook him; and at the departure of the Spirit, the image of God vanished; spiritual wisdom, righteousness, holiness, love, and the light of immortal glory, all went together; and sin having entered, and the law too, they became filled with evil desires, and with carnal and amorous delights, and with continual vain imaginations about these things, Gen. viii. 21. And these deceitful lusts they haw communicated to all their children, who are all filled with the same to this day; and this every child of God, under heaven, knows to his sorrow.
When Adam and Eve, under this new influence had wearied themselves in keeping wedding, then came pouring in, all at once, slavish fear, guilt, shame, confusion, and the cutting accusations of Satan and conscience; and then they began to patch and cover themselves with leaves, as all their children do to this day, when the Spirit convinces them of sin. And no sooner had they added this sin to the former, by covering with a covering, but not of God's Spirit, Isa. xxxi. 1, than the voice of God called to Adam. It may be observed here, that when God judged Adam and Eve, the curse lighted upon the earth; and Adam's sentence is, that in sorrow he should eat the fruit of it all the days of his life; and that of the woman was, that he would multiply her sorrow by conception and care: and that the heaviest curse falls immediately upon the serpent, and upon the devil in him. There was no call to pass any sentence of condemnation upon either Adam or Eve; the sentence of death went forth from God before they had transgressed. And when the devil laid the old man of sin at their door, death followed at his heels; and, as soon as each of them, by eating the fruit, had opened the door, "sin entered, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned," Rom. v. 12.
Upon this matter, we may clearly see that the whole of God's image, with which Adam was adorned, was wrought, and preserved in its glorious lustre, by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, who, being grieved and offended at man's sin, immediately left him; though, like Samson, he did not directly feel it, the lust of the flesh, and wanton desires and pleasures, springing up to supply the absence of God, as in Samson, till the cheat was discovered by shaking himself. And this the children of God find to their sorrow whenever the presence of God goes, and they get under spiritual desertions; for the same bait, as the most pleasing substitute to flesh and blood, is presented to them. God's image in Adam, and all his soul's adorning, was owing to the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; and, when that sweetest of all comforters took his leave, all was gone; and, when Nature had spent all her pleasing charms, they felt for their inward peace, might, tranquillity, and happiness; and, finding all gone, they agreed together to make aprons of leaves. But we must now take our final leave of paradise, for God's image is gone, and divine life is lost, and the garden of Eden is too sacred and holy a spot for rebels in league with Satan to range in. We may, from what has been observed, get a sight, and God knows we have long had a woful sense, of what Adam obtained when the Holy Ghost left him. He was called, before his fall, a son of God; and, when fallen, a child of wrath and a child of the devil; for his image Adam took, for he fell into sin, death, and condemnation, as Satan did. And, from Satan's deception in the serpent, Satan was not the only one that obtained the name of a serpent. The best judge in heaven and earth found "serpents," and "a generation of vipers" among the children of men, and calls the devil the father of them. God's image was knowledge: Adam's image after the fall was ignorance; God's image was righteousness, Adam's image was guilt and condemnation; God's image was true holiness, Adam's was sin and filth; God's image was love, Adam's image was enmity against God; God's image was light and glory, Adam's image was darkness, shame, disgrace, and contempt. The Holy Ghost adorned Adam with the first, and Satan deformed and disfigured him with the last. And this image he communicated to all his seed: "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his own image," Gen. v. 3. And this image is propagated to all the human race; in this we are all born, and in this we live; and unless the Holy Ghost come and renew us, in this image we shall die; and all they that die in it will rise in it, and be exposed to everlasting contempt: "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation as in a moment; they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest thou shalt despise their image," Psalm lxxiii 18-20. But I must proceed; for, being all shut out of paradise, God has opened a "valley of vision," Isa. xxii. 1; and, instead of the gates of Eden, we must look for "a door of hope;" for God's elect were from everlasting predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ; and this was not to come from the figure, but the real person represented; not from the first Adam, but from the second; not from the earthly representative, but from the heavenly; not from the fleshly parent, but from the everlasting Father; not from a living soul, but from the quickening spirit. Nor would God suffer the image of his dear Son to be communicated in so low a way as by natural generation, but by spiritual regeneration. Nor was it to come by a legal covenant, but by an evangelical one; not by a command, but by a promise; not of works, but of grace. God will not minister his Spirit by the works of the law, but by his promise in Christ Jesus. "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And, as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly; for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption," I Corinthians, xv. 48-50. Redemption's work is finished, and reconciliation is proclaimed. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." Justice is satisfied, and Christ is risen. But the work of regeneration and renewing is still going on; "For, as God raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." I now proceed to my next general head,
IV. Which is to shew that there was something of this blissful and paradisaical state shadowed out to the children of Israel in the land of promise.
The promised land was a pleasant, fruitful, and delightful spot, and is often compared to the garden of Eden. Hence, in the prophecy of God's displeasure against the king of Tyre, who had been and took a survey of the desolations of the city of Jerusalem and of the land of Canaan, after the king of Babylon had wasted it, says, "Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God: every precious stone was thy covering. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth: and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire," Exekiel, xxviii. 13, 14. So the prophet Joel compares the holy land to paradise before the Chaldean army wasted it: "The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them," Joel, ii. 3. And I have often thought (pardon my digression) that, after our first parents were expelled from paradise, they settled somewhere near the promised land, if not in it; which I gather from the names of many places in and about that country; as there are thousands of places in this island, both in London and the country, which bear the names of men to this day, and have done for many hundred years; and so in the land of promise. Hence we read of "the city Adam," that is beside Zaretan, near Jordan, Josh. iii. 16. We read also "of the stone of Abel," whereon they set the ark of God, 1 Sam. vi. 11; and of a city called "Abel," where the wise woman delivered her proverb to Joab, saying, "They were wont to speak in old time, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel; and so they ended the matter," 2 Sam. xx. 18. So we read of" Abelmaim," 2 Chron. xvi. 4; "Abel-meolah," Judges, vii. 22; and of" Abel-misraim," Gen. 1. 11; and there is a long arched stone vault in that country to this day that is called "Abel's grave."
2. Israel, when he came out of Egypt, is called God's son, as Adam was: "Israel is my son," says God to Pharaoh, "my first, born; let my son go, that he may serve me, or else I will slay thy first-born, even thine." He was a son by national adoption, Adam was a son by creation. But the sonship of Adam being only so by creation, was only typical of God's elect, who are a new creation, created anew in Christ Jesus, and are the sons of God by the renewing of the Spirit; and so Israel was an adopted nation, and a chosen generation: but it is the true Israel of God who are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people," in election. Adam had the Lord with him, and so had the children of Israel. God always dwelt in a tent or a tabernacle, from the time that he brought them up out of the land of Egypt till the days of David, 2 Sam. vii. 6. The same law that was given to Adam was revised and given to the children of Israel. God's image was in paradise; and there was always a remnant, according to the election of grace, in whom God's image was renewed and restored in the promised land. The tree of life was in Eden; and Christ, who is called the tree of life, was between the cherubim in the temple, Prov. iii. 18. Adam's continuance in Eden was conditional, and so was Israel's in the promised land. Adam's life was loseable, so was Israel's. All the time Adam obeyed he lived in Eden; and Israel's long life in the land which God gave them was only secured by their obedience. But Adam sinned, and was banished; Israel sinned, and was transported also. Adam's greatest loss was that of God's image; and the Jews rejecting and killing the express image of the invincible God, was the greatest loss that ever they sustained. When our first parents were banished, they had a promise of a return to God by the woman's seed bruising the serpent's head; and Israel has a promise of returning to God when they are brought to acknowledge and accept him who hath destroyed the works of the devil. Again: though the law given to Adam could neither give him eternal life, nor secure him a life in paradise, yet eternal life was set before him by the tree of life, which God had planted in the garden; hence Christ is called "the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God," Rev. ii. 7. So, had there been a law given to Israel, which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law; but it could not. It promised a life in Canaan upon conditions; but it could not secure even that, the law being weak through the flesh: yet eternal life was set before them, even by Moses: "That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days," Deut. xxx. 20. Once more: Adam had the cherubim placed before him at the gate of Eden, to teach him where to direct his worship; and so had Israel. They were to direct their prayer and to look up for help from between the cherubim; "for here," saith Lord "will I meet and commune with you." No people, but Adam and Israel, ever had the cherubim set before them.
I have much matter still on my mind upon the subject in hand, which, to hurry over briefly, would not be doing justice to my text; therefore will leave the remaining part of my thoughts till the evening. May God command his blessing upon what hath been delivered.
W.H. Huntington S.S.