Book Fourth
DOCTRINE CONCERNING THE FALL
AND PRESENT STATE OF MAN

Chapter IOriginal State of Man

THE FIRST MAN AND WOMAN WERE CREATED HOLY, AND, FOR A TIME, SERVED THEIR CREATOR ACCEPTABLY
Gen. 1:27,31; Eccl. 7:29


long the first pair continued in their original state of innocence and happiness we have no means of knowing; but that they did so continue for a time, is apparent on the face of the sacred record. A free intercourse with their Maker existed, and the token of the divine favor, the fruit of the tree of life, was not denied until a period arrived, distinctly marked in their history, when they first violated the covenant of their God.

The fact that the first pair continued, for a time, to serve God acceptably, proves that their Creator had endowed them with the powers necessary for this service. The possession of these endowments is implied in the phrase, "God created man in his own image" (Gen. 1:27). To interpret this as referring to the form of the human body, is wholly inconsistent with the spirituality of God. It is true, that God was afterwards manifested in human form; but the Scriptures represent the Son of God, in this assumption of our nature, as "made like his brethren," and, therefore, to suppose his human body to have been the pattern after which the body of Adam was formed, would change the order presented in the divine word. The phrase, "image of God," as explained by Paul (Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24), includes "knowledge, righteousness and true holiness." It, therefore, refers to their mental endowments, by which they were fitted for the service of God.

Intelligence was necessary to render the service to God for which man was designed. A vast world had been created, abounding with creatures which exhibited, in their wonderful structure, the wisdom and power of their Creator, and, in the bountiful provision made for the supply of their wants, his goodness was richly displayed; but not one of all these creatures was capable of appreciating this wisdom, power, and goodness. They had eyes to see the light of the material sun; but, though the heavens declared the glory of God, and the earth was full of his goodness, to that glory and goodness all were totally blind. A creature was wanted capable of knowing God, and this knowledge our first parents possessed.

Something more than mere intellectual endowments was necessary to fit our first parents for acceptable service to God. These were possessed by the angels that had not kept their first estate, and yet they were enemies of God, and cast out from his presence. Purity of heart was needed; and, accordingly, Adam and Eve were endowed with righteousness and true holiness. They not only knew God, but they loved him supremely. Every natural desire which they possessed was duly subordinated to this reigning affection. Even their love to each other, pure and unalloyed, was far inferior to that which they both felt to him, who daily favored them with his visits, and taught them to see his glory in all his works by which they were surrounded.

We may interpret the phrase, "image of God," as including, also, the dominion with which man was invested over all inferior creatures. When representing man as the head of the woman, Paul speaks of him, in this relation, as "the image and glory of God" (1 Cor. 11:7). This investiture of authority gives him a likeness to God, the Supreme Ruler. In the state of innocence, man possessed this authority without fear from any of the creatures. Until he had rebelled against his God, they were not permitted to rebel against him. As the appointed lord of the lower world, all creatures rendered him homage; and, as it were in their name, he stood, the priest in the grand temple, to offer up spiritual worship and service to the God of the whole creation. From every creature which Adam named he could learn something of God; and, with every new lesson, a new tribute of adoring praise was rendered to the Maker of all.

In the particulars which have been mentioned, the image of God is "renewed" in those who experience the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, and are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. The word "renewed" carries back our thoughts to man’s original state. A new creation is effected by the Spirit, restoring the regenerate to the knowledge, righteousness, and holiness from which man has fallen. In their renewed state, the effects of the fall still appear, and will remain until the last enemy, death, shall be destroyed; but their connection with the second Adam secures the completion of the good work begun, and assures them that they shall ultimately bear the likeness of the heavenly, who is the image of God.

The human soul bears likeness to God, "the Father of spirits," in its spirituality and immortality. Also, the happiness which Adam and Eve enjoyed, while their innocence remained, was a rill from the fountain of blessedness, which is in the eternal God. In this happiness the image of God appeared, until it became sadly effaced by transgression. The spirituality and immortality of the soul remain, but the happiness of Eden has never revisited the earth; and it is again to be enjoyed only in the celestial paradise. Spirituality and immortality, without knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and communion with the blessed God, would constitute us immortal spirits in eternal woe.

We may profitably look back to the holy and happy state in which our first parents stood when they came from the hand of their Creator; and we may, with good effect, remember from whence we have fallen. A due contemplation of this subject will recommend to our acceptance the gracious plan of restoration which the gospel unfolds, in the person and work of the second Adam. What a Sabbath was that, when God, resting from the six days’ work of creation, held communion with man, the last work of his hands; and when man, unstained by sin, poured forth the first offering of praise from the newly-created earth, free and acceptable to the Creator! Such a Sabbath the earth does not now know; but such a Sabbath remains to the people of God, and blessed are they who shall enter into this rest.