« Prev Lecture XVI. Preached December 23, 1693. Next »

LECTURE XVI.3131   Preached December 23, 1693.

Gen. i. 27.

So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him.

WE have discoursed to you, more generally, concerning the creation. We now come, (as we are more especially concerned,) to consider the creation of man. It is true, that there is a nobler order of creatures, that were before him in dignity and excellency (at least) in the creation. But because that, of their creation we have not so particular an account; and because our concernment lies less there, I shall immediately fall upon the consideration of what this text puts under our notice, to wit, our own creation, the creation of that creature, called man.

The connexed particle here, that refers these words to what goes before. “So God created man,” invites us to call back our eye a little. It is said in the 26 verse, “And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” And then, the text tells us, “So God created man in his own image.” This connexion shews us, that (as you have heard at large,) God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. So 293he did particularly this great work according to forelaid counsels. “Let us do so; let us make man, and make him such a one, even like God.” And so accordingly he did. This may be understood as an allusion to human methods; that is, that men, intending this or that work, they do use somewhat of self-excitation; in order thereunto, they do accingere se, they do apply themselves to the action which they intend, and, as it were, recollect their strength, that is now to be exerted and put forth. So is God introduced speaking—“Come now let us go to work afresh, and make that creature man, even the resemblance of ourselves.”

And it may also be understood to carry with it, an intimation of that great mysterious doctrine of the Trinity. “Let us make man;” that conjunction of the pronoun of the plural number, with a verb singular, (as we have formerly noted to you,) being probably enough to give some intimation of the glorious subsistences of the Deity: and who (as you have formerly had noted to you) are to be considered jointly under the notion of Creator.

And it speaks the perfect spontaniety of this work, or (if that may import any thing higher) the perfect intellective liberty wherewith it was done. “Let us make man;” there being no foreign inducement before the creation, there could be nothing extra Deum, nothing without God himself, but proprio motu, from the inward propension of his own mind, and that vast and boundless abyss of goodness, the fulness whereof was in him, now flowing forth, by free choice and consent, into a creation; and into the creation of such a creature as this. “Let us now make man; it is our mere pleasure to do so:” according to that in Rev. iv. 11. “For his pleasure all things are and were created.” He only pleased himself and took a delight in such an effusion of his own glorious power and goodness, breaking forth into such a creation.

In the words themselves, we have two things distinctly to be considered,—the work itself, of God’s making man—“God made man;” and—the norma or the pattern according to which he made him—“he made him after his own image,” made him the designed representation of himself: we shall consider these severally.

I. Consider the work itself, or the making of man—“God made man.” And therein, we are yet more distinctly to consider—the product—man; and—the productive act—God made him.

1. For the former of these, the creature now made, and signified by that name of “Man,” that we are to consider and contemplate 289awhile; that is, that we are to turn our eyes inward, and contemplate ourselves, and consider what sort of creatures we are. We hear it often, that man is a microcosm, this whole world in little, an epitome of the universe; the two great classes of being meeting in him; viz. mind and matter, the in visible world, and the visible, touching one another, and having (as it were) a nexus with one another in his nature. He hath a mind belonging to the invisible world; and a matter belonging to the visible, in his composition and frame. And so is set a middle creature between the angels and brutes, having the intelligent nature with the one, and the sensitive and inferior nature with the other.

We need to be put in mind of what is so obvious to us; for of all things in the world that we are so prone to overlook and forget, we are most of all apt to forget ourselves: though it were a precept of so high and great importance, and so obvious to a reasonable mind, that it did proceed from the mouth of a Pagan: Nosce teipsum, first know thyself, yet it was reckoned too great and important a thing, to be primarily attributed to such a one. And therefore, it was said of it, e caelo descendit; surely it came down from heaven: no mortal could assume to himself the honour to be the author of so great a saying as this. But though it be a matter of so great an importance, and the obligation thereunto, men perpetual lie, and do lie under; and though it be so obvious to a reasonable mind, yet, generally, look upon all the world, and you may say, “Men are the least part or study to themselves, they least of all consider themselves, to know their own natures, and what sort of creatures they are.”

But that we may a little more distinctly consider this subject, plain it is, that man is a twofold creature; he hath a double nature in him; he is a man and a man: or there belongs to his constitution and frame, an inner and an outward man: as the apostle elegantly enough distinguishes them, in 2 Cor. iv. 16. “An outward man,” that is a perishable and perishing thing; and “an inward man.” which, while that outward man is perishing, is yet capable of being “renewed day by day,” as he there speaks.

Indeed, while we turn our eyes upon ourselves, we are least of all apt to consider what is most considerable in our own frame. A people related to God of old, and even the strictest sort, or sect of them, (the pharisees themselves) our Saviour justly upbraids them with this stupidity, this piece of inconsideration: he speaks to them as a company of besotted fools: “Ye fools, hath not he that made the outward, made the inward 290too,” in that Luke xi. 40. “He that made that which is without, did not he make that which is within also?” But both of these parts of man, or each of this twofold man, we are distinctly and severally to consider, for both have that in them which claim and challenge the deepest intention of our thoughts. There is the outward man which the Scripture speaks of, bat under the notion of a tabernacle, the outward case or frame of man, (as I may so speak,) a thing whereof he is capable of being divested, and which may be laid aside. “I must shortly put off this tabernacle,” saith the apostle 2 Peter i. 14. He speaks of a going forth, an exodus, as out of his house, out of his dwelling—“the earthly house of this tabernacle,” So it is called 2 Cor. v. 1. “For we know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens:” therefore, called a tabernacle, because it is designed but for a temporary and very short abode and residence that we are to have in it; in comparison whereof, the future residence of holy and good souls, is spoken of under the name of a “mansion,” in John xiv. and in Luke xvi. “everlasting habitations;” these are but very temporary ones. But though they are so, yet their present frame and structure doth challenge a very serious, and reverend, and adoring contemplation; whether we look upon the grosser, or more bulky part of this structure or frame; or whether we consider that which is more latent, less obvious unto common notice. If we consider the grosser part of this structure, or tabernacle, either in the whole of it, or by parts, how admirable a thing is the composition of a man, even of the outward man, this exterior part of man! Such, as claims to have such things said of it, as we find, Job x. 10, 11. “Hast thou not poured me out like milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” All being prefaced with this, “Thy hands have made me, and fashioned me together round about, yet thou dost destroy me;” he then seeming, as if he were all of a sudden about to ruin, and throw back into dust again, his own excellent and so curious work: and of how great excellency is it, according to the account that these words give us, and according to that too which we have Psalm cxxxix. 13, 14. “Thou hast possessed my reins; and covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in 291the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect, when all lay yet in a rough creation; and in thy book were all my members written, (or in the idea of the Divine Mind) which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” They were all fixedly formed in the mind of God, while as yet there was nothing brought forth into actual being, so that, this was the effect of the wisdom of a God, this exterior frame of man, so contrived with so exquisite order, every thing belonging to it, in so apt subserviency to the several uses and purposes for which it was originally designed. Here is that which a pagan calls ars Dei, a divine art, the art of God himself, in this structure or frame, a fabric composed and made up all of miracles; if we consider the elegancy and curiosity of the whole, and if we consider how the several parts were equally made to serve, both for use and comeliness: so that of all the wonders in the world, I know no greater wonder than this, that man himself, a creature so capable of consideration and thought, should ever have thought it possible, any of them, that there should be such a production as this without design; as if it were a casual, an unintended thing, that there should be so many severals in this composition and frame of man, but never intended for the uses and purposes for which they so manifestly and peculiarly serve. How stupid a creature is man be come, that he is willing to admit even the greatest absurdity, rather than to admit God into his thoughts.

If we look into this frame; (though I can but touch upon things, and it is hard to know where to touch upon so great a multitude of things both observable and admirable at once,) if we should consider the aptness of the several parts that are in common use for the several offices and functions which they perform; if we consider what is external; if we consider what is internal; if we consider what is ornamental in our frame; how full of the highest and clearest judications of the greatest wisdom that can be conceived! There are, belonging to this frame of ours, the organs of the several senses, which do give so many advantages to such a creature as man is: every sense, or sort of sense, it hath its censorium inlaid in this frame; the things that are necessary unto feeling, and necessary unto touch, and necessary unto smell, and necessary unto hearing, and necessary unto sight. All these organs do belong to the; outward man; though the sentient be somewhat diverse and distinct, from this outward and external frame for it is not the eye itself that sees, but the soul in the eye; nor the ear itself that hears, but the same soul in the ear; and so as to all the rest of the senses too; which we all know, if that soul were 292dislodged, and retired, and gone, could no more see, or hear, or touch or taste, than a stone: but the aptness of these several organs for their several uses and purposes, such a curious contrivance as that of the eye for the sight, and that of the ear for the hearing, it would require volumes to unfold and open these to you.

And then, if we consider that which is more latent, even in the outward man itself, not obvious to the notice of any of our senses, and that is the more spirituous part, in this frame of man, or the several sorts of spirits. I do not now speak of his purposes, and without which it were impossible that any of these operations could be performed, which do belong to the nature of man in this present state. There are the elementary spirits that are to be found in it, and that are common to it, with the inanimate part of the world. As there is no sort of body conceivable, in which we may not also conceive some what or other of that which they call elementary spirit. And then, there is a higher sort of spirit, which serves for vegetation; and a higher than that, which serves for sensation; and all these, no doubt, some way or other distinguished, though we are not capable of assigning their differences, otherwise than from their effects; but all meeting in the frame of a living man: one sort of these spirits finer than another; another, again, finer than that; but undistinguishable by us by any other way, than only by such indications as the things effected do speak and hold forth to us. All these things we use continually; and we could do nothing without them; nor be what we are without them, in this present state. But seldom or rarely doth it occur to any thought, what they are, or that there are such things belonging to us, when without them there could be no motion: they are not things that are self-moving, (as no matter can,) yet they are things by which that which hath the power of motion in itself, doth perform such and such kinds of motions as are necessary in this frame of ours.

If we should consider the several things which are thus used: as all the muscles in the body of a man, reckoned to be about four hundred and thirty, without which, and without the spirits that do move them, the man were a mere trunk, a dead trunk; so many several sorts of muscles to turn that one member of ours, the eye, this way and that way, and the several agitations of spirits that must be the continual spring of all these motions. How quickly do we turn our eye this way, that way, upward, downward, and never consider what turns it about us, without which no such motion could be performed.

If we think of all this, what cause have we to break out often 293into those same raptures, that we find the Psalmist, herein, in that last-mentioned place: “How fearfully and wonderfully am I made: Thy works are marvellous, and that my soul knoweth right well.” And it is a mighty emphasis that these words carry in them: “and that my soul knoweth right well:” that is, it signifies this to have been with him a wonted study, that his mind used to be fixed on the contemplation of it←“my soul knows it right well:” these are with me beaten tracks, they are not uncouth or unusual thoughts; these are things that I think of, over and over again, from day to day.” Indeed, when any one comes to consider the works of God, and particularly, this work of composing this fabric of our outward man, they are wondrous; and we must consider them so. If we do but glance but one single thought upon this work of God, we cannot but say, “they are wondrous,” But how few of us can say, “and this my soul knoweth right well:” that it is a thing to which my thoughts are used, and which is my continual work; I do, from day to day, employ them and keep them in exercise upon such a thing and subject as this.

But time, and my own design of speaking as succinctly as is possible unto the several heads which I am to discourse of, al low me not further to insist on this same outward man.

We are to look yet further: and when we have taken some view of the habitation, to consider the inhabitant, that thing in man called mind and spirit; spirit in a higher and nobler sense than we used that application before. According to the exterior part of man, that you have heard of, he is called Adam, a composition of earth, of red earth, as that word signifies, or out of the dust of the ground; that earth pulverized, reduced to the finest particles, according as more or less, so they were capable of being wrought into that curious contexture which their great Maker did design: hereupon man is said to be thus made. He hath the denomination there, first from his outward, more visible and observable part; this is the creature which appeared first to come under notice and view, upon this stage of this lower world. There was nothing perceivable of him, but this exterior frame that was called man: he hath that denomination Quoad apparentiam, in respect to what he did appear, and was obvious to common notice, or that might be in such creatures obvious to the notice of one another, the first notice. It could only, in that respect, be said, that God made man of the clay or dust of the ground; that is, what of man was capable of being made out of matter, was made out of such, or out of that matter.

But you have afterwards, a further account of this creature, 294in the 2nd chap. of Genesis and at the 7th verse; that “God did breathe into him the breath of life, and he became a living soul.” The outward man carried the name of man before; but now we are given to understand there was a nobler thing be longing to this frame and composition of man, which admits that he should be called “a living soul, “from that breath of life, which it is said God breathed into him, that breath of life. It is as significant an expression as we could have in words, or that words could furnish us with, of vital spirit, a living spirit, that is the principal thing in man. And so, now, he hath the denomination, Quoad rem as he had it Quoad apparentiam before. Before, he was denominated according to his appearance: so man was said to be made of the dust of the ground: now he hath his denomination according to what he is in reality; a living soul being breathed into him, as vital breath, from God himself, most immediately.

And here we are to stay our thoughts a little, and consider what this is. It is to be known, (as all essences are,) but by certain properties that do speak themselves in such and such peculiar effects, and so tell us what the cause must be from whence such effects do proceed. It is plain, that this same soul of man must be a substantial being; otherwise, it were never capable of such actions and effects as we manifestly find do belong to us, and are wrought by us. Now if we do consider them severally,

1. That which is fundamental of all other, is, that it manifestly appears to be a vital thing; the spirit of man is distinguished by vitality, by being essentially vital. It is very true, indeed, that these bodies of ours, as long as the soul inhabits them, live too, have life in them: but I pray consider, what is so very obvious, the difference of that life, from what we must understand and conceive to be the life of our spirits. We know the body of man so lives, as that it doth not constantly live, it doth not always live; and so life doth not belong to it essentially; life is separable from it. The body of man, it can be killed; it is capable of losing its life, and so its life is but a derived and a borrowed thing from somewhat else. Spirit hath life radically in itself. For we must conceive the spirit of a man, this breath of life (as the learned languages, Hebrew, greek, and latin, Have no word for spirit but that which signifies breath,) I say this spirit, or breath of life, is, in itself, vital, so as that unto it, to be, and to live, is all one. The body may be, and not live; (as I told you) life is separable from it; but the spirit, the soul, while it is, it always lives, its being and its life are not capable of being parted from one another, as it is in the 295life of the body. And so it is from that life, that the life which is in the outward man is derived, and transmitted in all the several parts of that body that do partake of life. And then,

2. Next to life, (which is fundamental and indeed of larger extent, and not so distinguishing,) there is intellect; there is a power of understanding that belongs to the spirit of a man, by which his spirit is a thing capable of thought, or doth consist in a thinking power, a continual source or spring of thoughts; so that if we never so continually attend ourselves, we cannot find ourselves not thinking: there is a perpetual forge of thoughts, from whence they fly and spring up, as sparks from this or that fiery substance, and never cease to do so. And within that compass of intellect, lies not only power of forming thoughts, but of connecting thoughts; of affirming one thing that we think, of another thing that we think; and the power of deducing thoughts from other thoughts, of inferring some thoughts from former thoughts; that is, that because I think so and so, therefore, I consequently think so and so too; some thoughts having a dependance upon other foregoing thoughts: and a power of ranging thoughts, of methodizing thoughts, of putting thoughts into a frame and order, according to that relation which they mutually bear to one another.

And this, shews this same thing called spirit or mind in man to be, not only a substance, but a substance quite of another kind from this outward man of ours, that is made up of matter, though there be things belonging to this frame, never so fine, and did require never so high purity of matter; yet plain it is, that the spirit, that is in man, must be somewhat of a quite different nature; inasmuch as there is nothing of matter, whether gross or never so fine, that is capable of a thinking power: for you can no more discern a tendency of a power of thinking in a flame of fire, than you do in a piece of clay; a flame of fire is nothing more rational, nothing more capable of understanding, than a log or a stone; and therefore, whatsoever hath the power of thought belonging to it, must be a being of quite another nature and kind, from any thing of matter, be it never so fine, never so pure; there being no property at all belonging to matter, that hath any possibility of contributing to such a thing as thought—neither figure, nor the size, nor the motion, nor the connexion of parts one to another. It is altogether an unimaginable thing, that a piece of matter, be it never so small, should be more capable of thought for being of such a figure, or less capable of thought for being of such a one: that if it be square it cannot think; if it be round, then, it cannot think: 296if it be of a less particle, then, it can think; if it be a greater, then it cannot think: if such and such particles be separated one from another, then they cannot think; if they be put together they can. No reasonable understanding can imagine any contribution in these things unto the act of thinking. And the motion of so many parts can contribute as little and no more than so. A heap of sand lying still, can be capable of no thought; and if it be agitated, never so much, it will be as little capable: therefore, nothing is plainer than, that this property of the mind or spirit of man; that is, intellect or the power of thought, or thinking, doth speak this spirit, or mind of man, to be quite a diverse thing from all the matter that belongs to the outward man; even from every thing of the out ward man; that the inward and the outward man must be quite diverse or different things. And then,

3. There is the power of will or choice, belonging to this inward man, the mind and spirit within us, by which we are capable of determining concerning our own actions; of choosing or refusing, of resolving to do so and so; of resolving not to do so; or resolving to do the contrary: a strange power, and of vast extent, that doth distinguish and belong to the spirit of man, and through which this soul and spirit of man come to have that double capacity, to wit, of duty and felicity. I were capable of neither of these, if it were not for that elective power, and consequently upon the intellective, by which I am capable of choosing my own actions, and the objects upon which they are to be employed. I speak now of the original capacity belonging to the spirit and mind of man, not considering, at present, the impairment or diminution thereof, by the apostasy: of which there may be occasion to speak in the proper place, and season, when it may come in our way. But it is the same faculty or property of the mind or spirit of man, to wit, the power of election and choice, that makes him the subject both of duty and felicity. He were never capable of duty, if it were not for this; nor capable of felicity, otherwise than by this; as he is a creature obliged by the law of duty, and capable of being rewarded and remunerated by felicity. This is the thing inferred by the power and faculty in man, the power of volition, depending upon that understanding or cogitative power, which you have heard of before; though some take that term of cogitation to extend so far as to take this in too. But we are not considering of words now. And then,

4. There is the executive power, by which we reduce into act, these purposes and intendments of ours; a strange sort of 297power; that is, being directly under the dominion and government of that former power, the power of choosing; that is, be cause we will do so and so; and so choose we to go to such a place; or we stay and move not: we move this and that member, or we restrain that motion. If we will, we can move our whole frame with very great facility; or else if we will not, it is very difficult to move it. That I can by the notice, by the command of my will, make my whole bodily frame so easily move to this or that place, which without that empire or commanding act of my will, it would give so much difficulty and trouble to others to do. And I move it myself nullo conatu, nullo negotio, upon the matter, I make nothing of it, I do it with ease. This is a power that we continually use; but we very seldom reflect upon it, that we have such an ability belonging to our natures, and even to the very nature of our spirits, the soul within, by which to move to and fro, these members of our body, as from time to time we do. And,

5. There is belonging, as very peculiar, (and some think it is most of all peculiar,) to the mind and spirit of man, the capacity of religion, of which the brute creature is altogether uncapable: some think this more differencing of man than reason itself. It is a very dubitable and disputable matter, whether there be not that very thing in many creatures, that are reckoned brutes only, that we call reason. But concerning this, religion, the matter is out of all question and doubt, that it belongs, most peculiarly, to the mind and spirit of man; that is, the capacity of acknowledging a Divine Being, the Author of our being, and of reverencing and adoring that Being accordingly; that power by which I do suspicere numen, by which I consider a Being above me, the Author of my being, and of all beings, and of any disposition in me to pay a reverence and adoration to that sovereign and supreme Being there upon. And,

6. Lastly, there is belonging to ibis spirit of man, (as peculiar and distinguishing too,) the power of governing the inferior faculties; the power of governing sensitive appetites and passions; and even, in very great part, the acts of the exterior senses: I say, in very great part—there will be some involuntary actions; but how far the natural power of man did herein originally extend, we are not in this state of our apostasy capable of knowing now. But undoubtedly, when man was himself in his innocent and instituted state, and where the inferior nature was held in direct subordination to the superior, as there were then no undue thoughts, so neither were there any undue; motions of an inferior nature itself, but what were certainly 298commandable and kept within due limits. And this empire did belong to the mind and spirit of man, to govern and conduct all the inferior appetitions and affections, and all the external actions, so as they should move or not move, be done or not be done, as to that governing wisdom seated on the throne, in the mind of man, did seem meet.

Of this there will be more occasion to speak when we come to the latter particular in the text; to wit, “that in the image of God made he man:” when we come to treat of the norma and pattern of this great divine work. But upon what hath been said, thus far, concerning the product, the thing produced, man: surely our thoughts cannot but reproach us that they are so seldom employed upon so important a subject, and that lies so very near us: for what can be so near us as ourselves? That we can have our eyes round about us, like the eyes of the fool in the end of the earth, and so seldom find time and room for any such thing as self-contemplation.


« Prev Lecture XVI. Preached December 23, 1693. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |