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but he was made doubly sure, from what he had seen and noticed with his own eyes, that the Great Maker of all was a good God-good and great beyond thought. He rejoiced—and so will all true students of nature ever rejoice-in giving praise for the operations of His hands!
But again. The language of my text leads us on to contemplate the dealings of God with man— When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained ; what is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?
It seemed to David, with his mind full of the grandeur of God's works, that man was but an inconsiderable part of them, hardly worthy of the notice and favour of his Maker- What is man, that Thou visitest him? But it was only for a moment that he retained this thought. He goes on, in the very next verse of this eighth Psalm, to correct himself-rather, I should say, to give the true reason of man's eminence-of his holding the chief place in God's regard— Thou madest him lower than the angels, to crown him with glory and worship. Thou makest him to have dominion of the works of Thy hands; and Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet : all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field ; the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea, and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the same.
Now, compare this with what is recorded in the first lesson for this morning, the first chapter of Genesis, at verses 27 and 28—and you will see that two great facts are announced to us about man-he was made in his
Maker's image, and he had the command given him of all the rest of God's creatures. The latter of these, the command over the other creatures, man still retains; the former, the likeness of God, he has in a great measure lost.
But enough of it-enough of the God-like remains in man, aye, even in fallen man—to place him at a very high level above the beasts that perish.
To no other animal-as far as we can judge—has God given reason; and that by which reason works, the power of speech—in no other has He implanted conscience--the instinct by which man knows in a moment, by what he feels within him, the right and the wrong in no other has He placed a longing for immortality; a longing, which, as some have argued, proves the capacity for it-in no other beside man do we perceive the idea of God and of worship. Man only of God's creatures prays. Man only walks with God and has fellowship with Him.
I repeat, brethren, that even in our lost, fallen state, we have ample witness that we were made in some other image than that of the beasts which perish.
And this conviction ought not to be without its lesson.
We dwell—and it is right we should-on man's sinfulness, on his debasement, on his likeness in many things to the lower animals—for all this must tend to humble us, and to keep down pride. But surely it is good sometimes to hold up to view the other side of the picture, and to shew man what still remains to him of his better and higher origin.
This is what Scripture does in the first chapter of
Genesis. This is why we are so expressly told that when God saw everything that He had made, behold, it was very good.
Think of the matter by yourselves, brethren. Think what God's purpose towards us was at the beginning-He made man good, and He blessed him.
Whatever evil has happened since-however changed we are for the worse-God's first purpose will, we may believe, be carried out-man, though fallen, may look to be restored.
Nay, might I not better say, he is restored. For is it not said-As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive?
He is that seed of the woman in Whom again God is well pleased. In Him God has shewn what would have been our portion had we never fallen. For death had no dominion over Jesus. Though He died unto sin once, yet, as God's True Son, He rose again, and lives for ever
And so surely shall it be with all God's children—all who in Christ are incorporated into God's family—they too shall inherit the blessing-life, endless, everlasting life is their portion—the grave and gate of death shall not shut them out of their Father's home —they shall pass through it, as did their great Forerunner, unto a joyful resurrection !
This is the hope of God's redeemed people. Let all who call it their's hold it firm unto the end. And let them remember what the Apostle urges-Every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure (1 St. John ii. 3).
MAN'S SHAMEFUL FALL.
GEN. III. 24.
So He drove out the man, and He placed at the east of the Garden of
Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
The subject of the first lesson,appointed for this Sunday, as you may see by reading the heading of the chapter, is one of the most instructive, while it is one of the most humbling in the whole Bible. That chapter treats of man's shameful fall; how it was brought about; who was the chief agent in it; what was the consequence of it; who are the sufferers by it; the loss of Paradise to our first parents-matters, brethren, in which we have all of us a deep interest—which it concerns us to know well, and to lay to heart—which have been recorded (we cannot doubt it) for our learning.
I shall propose, then, that we examine more at length, this third chapter of Genesis. I shall not enter into the question whether it is to be taken literally or figuratively;
I would rather leave such questions unstirred—I shall be content to receive what is here written as a solution of some of the chief difficulties in the history of our race : a clear account of the change for the worse, which so speedily happened to our first parents-what it was that brought sin and death into the world-why it is that the nature of man, made so recently in his Maker's own image, ceased to be very good, and became inclined to evil—so deeply and radically inclined to evil, that it deserves God's wrath and condemnation in every person born into this world.
The chapter opens with the serpent beguiling Eve. The woman being deceived by his wiles, was first in the transgression. And what was the temptation ? To eat of the forbidden fruit; to disobey God; to break the one command which He had laid in them for the test of their fidelity
Observe the crafty way in which the serpent induced our first mother into doing this, Yea hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree in the Garden ? insinuating a doubt as to whether such a restraint had been imposed. And then, when Eve, with simple truthfulness, replied that such was the command, and that the penalty of breaking it was nothing short of death--God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch, lest ye die, the tempter advances another step. He had doubted the fact; he now denies the punishment—The serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And to this subtle suggestion Eve yielded. There was that within her