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§ 1. The Scriptural Doctrine.
The Scriptural doctrine on this subject includes the following particulars. First, That man was originally created in a state of maturity and perfection. By this, however, is not meant that humanity in Adam before the fall, existed in the highest state of excellence of which it is susceptible. It is altogether probable that our nature, in virtue of its union with the divine nature in the person of Christ, and in virtue of the union of the redeemed with their exalted Redeemer, shall hereafter be elevated to a dignity and glory far greater than that in which Adam was created or to which he ever could have attained. By the maturity of man as at first created is meant that he was not created in a state of infancy. It is a favourite assumption of sceptics that man at first both as to soul and body, was imbecile and unfurnished; slowly forming for himself an articulate language, and having his moral powers gradually awakened. This, however, is inconsistent not only with the Scriptural account of his creation, but also with the part he was designed to act, and in fact did act. By the perfection of his original state is meant, that he was perfectly adapted to the and for which the was made and to the sphere in which he was designed to move. This perfection as to his body consisted not only in the integrity and due proportion of all its parts, but also in its perfect adaptation to the nature of the soul with which it was united. It is commonly said by theologians that the body way created immortal and impassible. With regard to its immortality it is certain that if man had not sinned he would not have died. But whether the immortality which would then have been they destiny of the body, would have been the result of its original organization, or whether after its period of probation it would have undergone a change to adapt it to its everlasting condition, is a matter to be subsequently considered. By impassibility is not necessarily meant entire freedom from susceptibility to pain, for 93such susceptibility in our present earthly state, and perhaps in any conceivable earthly state, is a necessary condition of safety. It is a good and not an evil, a perfection and not a defect. All that need he meant by the term is that the body of Adam was free from the seeds of disease and death. There was nothing in its constitution inconsistent with the highest happiness and well-being of man in the state in which he was created, and the conditions under which he was to live.
That the primitive state of our race was not one of barbarism from which men have raised themselves by a slow process of improvement, we know, First, from the authority of Scripture, which represents, as we have seen, the first man as created in the full perfection of his nature. This fact for all Christians is decisive. Secondly, the traditions of all nations treat of a golden age from which men have fallen. These wide-spread traditions cannot rationally be accounted for, except on the assumption that the Scriptural account of the primitive state of man is correct. Thirdly, the evidence of history is all on the side of the doctrine of the Bible on this subject. Egypt derived its civilization from the East; Greece from Phœnicia and Egypt; Italy from Phœnicia and Greece; the rest of Europe from Italy. Europe is now rapidly extending her civilizing influence over New Zealand, Australia, and the Islands of the Pacific Oceans. The affinity of languages proves that the early civilization of Mexico and South America had its source in Eastern Asia. On the other hand, there is no authentic account of a nation of savages rising by their own efforts from a state of barbarism to a civilized condition. The fact that Sir John Lubbock, and other advocates of the opposite doctrine, are obliged to refer to such obscure and really insignificant facts, as the superior culture of the modern Indians on this continent, is a proof of the dearth of historical evidence in support of the theory of primitive barbarism. Fourthly, the oldest records, written and monumental, give evidence of the existence of nations in a high state of civilization, in the earliest periods of human history. This fact is easily accounted for on the assumption of the truth of the Scriptural doctrine of the primitive state of man, but is unaccountable on the opposite hypothesis. It necessitates the gratuitous assumption of the existence of men for untold ages prior to these earliest historical periods. Fifthly, comparative philology has established the fact of the intimate relation of all of the great divisions of the human race. It has further proved that they all had their origin from a common centre, and that that centre was the seat of the earliest civilization.94
The theory that the race of man has passed through a stone, a bronze, and an iron age, stages of progress from barbarism to civilization, is, as before remarked, destitute of scientific foundation. It cannot be proved that the stone age prevailed contemporaneously in all parts of the earth. And unless this is proved it avails nothing to show that there was a period at which the inhabitants of Europe were destitute of a knowledge of the metals. The same may be proved of the Patagonians and of some African tribes of the present day.
It has, therefore, been almost the universal belief that the original state of man was as the Bible teaches, his highest state, from which the nations of the earth have more or less deteriorated. This primitive state, however, was distinguished by the intellectual, moral, and religious superiority of men rather than by superiority in the arts or natural sciences. The Scriptural doctrine, therefore, is consistent with the admitted fact that separate nations, and the human race as a whole, have made great advances in all branches of knowledge and in all the arts of life. Nor is it inconsistent with the belief that the world under the influence of Christianity is constantly improving, and will ultimately attain, under the reign of Christ, millennial perfection and glory. All that is denied is, that men were originally savages in the lowest state of barbarism, from which they have gradually emerged.
The late Archbishop Whately, in his work on “Political Economy,” avowed his belief of the common doctrine on the primitive state of man. He says, “We have no reason to believe that any community ever did, or ever can emerge, unassisted by external helps, from a state of barbarism unto anything that can be called civilization.” In opposition to this doctrine, Sir John Lubbock tries to show “That there are indications of progress even among savages,” and, “That among the most civilized nations there are traces of original barbarism.”113113The Origin of Civilization and the Primitive Condtion of Man. By Sir John Lubbock, Bart. M. P., F. R. S., London, 1870, p. 329. Before adducing proof of either of those propositions, he argues against the theory that any tribe has sunk from a higher to a lower condition, on the ground that there are certain arts which are so simple and so useful, that if once known, they could never be lost. If men had once been herdsmen and agriculturists, they would never become mere hurters; if acquainted with the use of metals, or the art of making earthenware, these acquisitions could not be lost. If once possessed of religious knowledge, that knowledge could 95never perish. As however, there are tribes now extant which have, as he says, no religion, and no knowledge of the arts, or of agriculture, he argues that they must have been barbarians from the beginning, and that barbarism must have been the original condition of man.
To prove that savages may by their own exertions become civilized he refers to such facts as the following: The Australians had formerly bark-canoes, which they have abandoned for others, hollowed out of the trunk of a tree, “which they buy from the Malays.” The Peruvians had domesticated the llama; the Polynesians made bark-cloth. “Another very strong case,” he says, “is the boomerang of the Australians. This weapon is known to no other race of men,” and therefore, he argues, cannot be a relic of a higher state of civilization. He lays great stress on the case of the Cherokees who have become agriculturists, having ploughs, horses, black-cattle, etc., ignoring the fact that they were surrounded by civilized Americans and had enjoyed for years the faithful teaching of Christian missionaries who instructed them in all the useful arts.
He finds indications of the original barbarism of the race in the fact that flint implements are found not only in Europe, but also in Asia, the cradle of mankind; and in the gradual improvement of the relation between the sexes.114114On page 66, he says, “Assuming that the communal marriage system shown in the preceding pages to prevail, or have prevailed so widely among races in a low state of civilization, represents the primitive and earliest social condition of man, we now come to consider the various ways in which it may have been broken up and replaced by individual marriage.” His book is designed to “describe the social and mental condition of savages, their art, their systems of marriage and of relationship, their religions, language, moral character and laws.” This he does by a very copious collection of particulars under these several heads; and thence draws the following conclusions. “That existing savages are not the descendants of civilized ancestors. That the primitive condition of man was one of utter barbarism. That from this condition several races have independently raised themselves.”115115Ibid. p. 323. How these conclusion's follow from the facts detailed, it is impossible to see; especially as hey are in opposition not only to the Bible, but to all the teachings of history. That the lowest savage tribes have low ideas of God, is no proof that our first parents were fetich worshippers, when all history proves that the earliest religion of our race was pure Theism. As men lost the knowledge of the true God, they became more and more degraded in every other respect. And those 96who were driven away from the centres of civilization into inhospitable regions, torrid or arctic, sunk lower and lower in the scale of being. Certain it is that there is nothing in Sir John Lubbock's book that can shake the faith of a Christian child in the doctrine of the Bible as to the primitive state of man.
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