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So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.
HOW hard it is for natural reason to discover a creation before revealed, or being revealed to believe it, the strange opinions of the old philosophers, and the infidelity of modern atheists, is too sad a demonstration. To run the world back to its first original and infancy, and (as it were) to view nature in its cradle, to trace the outgoings of the Ancient of days in the first instance and specimen of his creative power, is a research too great for any mortal inquiry: and we might continue our scrutiny to the end of the world, before natural reason would be able to find out when it begun.
Epicurus’s discourse concerning the original of the world is so fabulous and ridiculously merry, that we may well judge the design of his philosophy to have been pleasure, and not instruction.
Aristotle held, that it streamed by connatural result and emanation from God, the infinite and eternal mind, as the light issues from the sun; so that there was no instant of duration assignable of God’s eternal existence, in which the world did not also coexist.
Others held a fortuitous concourse of atoms; but all seem jointly to explode a creation; still beating upon this ground, that to produce something out of nothing is impossible and incomprehensible: incomprehensible indeed I grant, but not therefore impossible. There is not the least transaction of sense 32and motion in the whole man, but philosophers are at a loss to comprehend, I am sure they are to explain it. Wherefore it is not always rational to measure the truth of an assertion by the standard of our apprehension.
But to bring things even to the bare perceptions of reason, I appeal to any one, who shall impartially reflect upon the ideas and conceptions of his own mind, whether he doth not find it as easy and suit able to his natural notions, to conceive that an infinite almighty power might produce a thing out of nothing, and make that to exist de novo, which did not exist before; as to conceive the world to have had no beginning, but to have existed from eternity: which, were it so proper for this place and exercise, I could easily demonstrate to be attended with no small train of absurdities. But then, besides that the acknowledging of a creation is safe, and the denial of it dangerous and irreligious, and yet not more (perhaps much less) demonstrable than the affirmative; so, over and above, it gives me this advantage, that, let it seem never so strange, uncouth, and impossible, the nonplus of my reason will yield a fairer opportunity to my faith.
In this chapter, we have God surveying the works of the creation, and leaving this general impress or character upon them, that they were exceeding good. What an omnipotence wrought, we have an omniscience to approve. But as it is reasonable to imagine that there is more of design, and consequently more of perfection, in the last work, we have God here giving his last stroke, and summing up all into man, the whole into a part, the universe into an individual: so that, whereas in 33other creatures we have but the trace of his footsteps, in man we have the draught of his hand. In him were united all the scattered perfections of the creature; all the graces and ornaments, all the airs and features of being, were abridged into this small, yet full system of nature and divinity: as we might well imagine that the great artificer would be more than ordinarily exact in drawing his own picture.
The work that I shall undertake from these words, shall be to shew what this image of God in man is, and wherein it doth consist. Which I shall do these two ways: 1. Negatively, by shewing wherein it does not consist. 2. Positively, by shewing wherein it does.
For the first of these, we are to remove the erroneous opinion of the Socinians. They deny that the image of God consisted in any habitual perfections that adorned the soul of Adam: but as to his understanding bring him in void of all notion, a rude unwritten blank; making him to be created as much an infant as others are born; sent into the world only to read and spell out a God in the works of creation, to learn by degrees, till at length his understanding grew up to the stature of his body. Also without any inherent habits of virtue in his will; thus divesting him of all, and stripping him to his bare essence; so that all the perfection they allowed his understanding was aptness and docility; and all that they attributed to his will was a possibility to be virtuous.
But wherein then, according to their opinion, did this image of God consist? Why, in that power and dominion that God gave Adam over the creatures: in that he was vouched his immediate deputy upon 34earth, the viceroy of the creation, and lord-lieu tenant of the world. But that this power and dominion is not adequately and formally the image of God, but only a part of it, is clear from hence; be cause then he that had most of this, would have most of God’s image: and consequently Nimrod had more of it than Noah, Saul than Samuel, the persecutors than the martyrs, and Caesar than Christ himself, which to assert is a blasphemous paradox. And if the image of God is only grandeur, power, and sovereignty, certainly we have been hitherto much mistaken in our duty: and hereafter are by all means to beware of making ourselves unlike God, by too much self-denial and humility. I am not ignorant that some may distinguish between ἐξουσία and δύναμις, between a lawful authority and an actual power: and affirm, that God’s image consists only in the former; which wicked princes, such as Saul and Nimrod, have not, though they possess the latter. But to this I answer,
1. That the scripture neither makes nor owns such a distinction; nor any where asserts, that when princes begin to be wicked, they cease of right to be governors. Add to this, that when God renewed this charter of man’s sovereignty over the creatures to Noah and his family, we find no exception at all, but that Cham stood as fully invested with this right as any of his brethren.
2. But secondly; this savours of something ranker than Socinianism, even the tenents of the fifth monarchy, and of sovereignty founded only upon saintship; and therefore fitter to be answered by the judge, than by the divine; and to receive its confutation at the bar of justice, than from the pulpit.35
Having now made our way through this false opinion, we are in the next place to lay down positively what this image of God in man is. It is, in short, that universal rectitude of all the faculties of the soul, by which they stand apt and disposed to their respective offices and operations: which will be more fully set forth, by taking a distinct survey of it, in the several faculties belonging to the soul.
I. In the understanding.
II. In the will.
III. In the passions or affections.
I. And first for its noblest faculty, the understanding: it was then sublime, clear, and aspiring, and, as it were, the soul’s upper region, lofty and serene, free from the vapours and disturbances of the inferior affections. It was the leading, control ling faculty; all the passions wore the colours of reason; it did not so much persuade, as command; it was not consul, but dictator. Discourse was then almost as quick as intuition; it was nimble in proposing, firm in concluding; it could sooner deter mine than now it can dispute. Like the sun, it had both light and agility; it knew no rest, but in motion; no quiet, but in activity. It did not so properly apprehend, as irradiate the object; not so much find, as make things intelligible. It did arbitrate upon the several reports of sense, and all the varieties of imagination; not like a drowsy judge, only hearing, but also directing their verdict. In sum, it was vegete, quick, and lively; open as the day, untainted as the morning, full of the innocence and sprightliness of youth; it gave the soul a bright and a full view into all things; and was not only a window, but itself the prospect. Briefly, there is as 36much difference between the clear representations of the understanding then, and the obscure discoveries that it makes now, as there is between the prospect of a casement and of a key-hole.
Now as there are two great functions of the soul, contemplation and practice, according to that general division of objects, some of which only entertain our speculation, others also employ our actions; so the understanding with relation to these, not because of any distinction in the faculty itself, is accordingly divided into speculative and practick; in both of which the image of God was then apparent.
1. For the understanding speculative. There are some general maxims and notions in the mind of man, which are the rules of discourse, and the basis of all philosophy. As, that the same thing can not at the same time be, and not be; that the whole is bigger than a part; that two proportions equal to a third, must also be equal to one an other. Aristotle, indeed, affirms the mind to be at first a mere rasa tabula; and that these notions are not ingenite, and imprinted by the finger of nature, but by the latter and more languid impressions of sense; being only the reports of observation, and the result of so many repeated experiments.
But to this I answer two things.
(1.) That these notions are universal; and what is universal must needs proceed from some universal, constant principle, the same in all particulars, which here can be nothing else but human nature.
(2.) These cannot be infused by observation, be cause they are the rules by which men take their first apprehensions and observations of things, and therefore in order of nature must needs precede 37them: as the being of the rule must be before its application to the thing directed by it. From whence it follows, that these were notions, not descending from us, but born with us; not our offspring, but our brethren: and (as I may so say) such as we were taught without the help of a teacher.
Now it was Adam’s happiness in the state of innocence to have these clear and unsullied. He came into the world a philosopher, which sufficiently appeared by his writing the nature of things upon their names; he could view essences in themselves, and read forms without the comment of their respective properties: he could see consequents yet dormant in their principles, and effects yet unborn, and in the womb of their causes: his understanding could almost pierce into future contingents, his conjectures improving even to prophecy, or the certainties of prediction; till his fall, it was ignorant of nothing but of sin; or at least it rested in the notion, without the smart of the experiment. Could any difficulty have been proposed, the resolution would have been as early as the proposal; it could not have had time to settle into doubt. Like a bet ter Archimedes, the issue of all his inquiries was an εὕρηκα, an εὕρηκα the offspring of his brain without the sweat of his brow. Study was not then a duty, night-watchings were needless; the light of reason wanted not the assistance of a candle. This is the doom of fallen man, to labour in the fire, to seek truth in profundo, to exhaust his time and impair his health, and perhaps to spin out his days, and himself, into one pitiful, controverted conclusion. There was then no poring, no struggling with memory, no straining for invention: his faculties were 38quick and expedite; they answered without knocking, they were ready upon the first summons, there was freedom and firmness in all their operations. I confess, it is difficult for us, who date our ignorance from our first being, and were still bred up with the same infirmities about us with which we were born, to raise our thoughts and imagination to those intellectual perfections that attended our nature in the time of innocence; as it is for a peasant bred up in the obscurities of a cottage, to fancy in his mind the unseen splendors of a court. But by rating positives by their privatives, and other arts of reason, by which discourse supplies the want of the reports of sense, we may collect the excellency of the understanding then, by the glorious remainders of it now, and guess at the stateliness of the building, by the magnificence of its ruins. All those arts, rarities, and inventions, which vulgar minds gaze at, the ingenious pursue, and all admire, are but the reliques of an intellect defaced with sin and time. We admire it now, only as antiquaries do a piece of old coin, for the stamp it once bore, and not for those vanishing lineaments and disappearing draughts that remain upon it at present. And certainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which are so admirable. He that is comely, when old and decrepid, surely was very beautiful when he was young. An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise.
2. The image of God was no less resplendent in that which we call man’s practical understanding; namely, that storehouse of the soul, in which are treasured up the rules of action and the seeds of 39morality. Where, we must observe, that many who deny all connate notions in the speculative intellect, do yet admit them in this. Now of this sort are these maxims; that God is to be worshipped; that parents are to be honoured; that a man’s word is to be kept, and the like: which, being of universal influence, as to the regulation of the behaviour and converse of mankind, are the ground of all virtue and civility, and the foundation of religion.
It was the privilege of Adam innocent, to have these notions also firm and untainted, to carry his monitor in his bosom, his law in his heart, and to have such a conscience as might be its own casuist: and certainly those actions must needs be regular, where there is an identity between the rule and the faculty. His own mind taught him a due dependance upon God, and chalked out to him the just proportions and measures of behaviour to his fellow creatures. He had no catechism but the creation, needed no study but reflection, read no book, but the volume of the world, and that too, not for rules to work by, but for objects to work upon. Reason was his tutor, and first principles his magna moralia. The decalogue of Moses was but a transcript, not an original. All the laws of nations, and wise decrees of states, the statutes of Solon, and the twelve tables, were but a paraphrase upon this standing rectitude of nature, this fruitful principle of justice, that was ready to run out, and enlarge it self into suitable determinations, upon all emergent objects and occasions. Justice then was neither blind to discern, nor lame to execute. It was not subject to be imposed upon by a deluded fancy, nor yet to be bribed by a glozing appetite, for an utile 40or jucundum to turn the balance to a false and dishonest sentence. In all its directions of the inferior faculties, it conveyed its suggestions with clearness, and enjoined them with power; it had the passions in perfect subjection; and though its command over them was but suasive and political, yet it had the force of coaction, and despotical. It was not then, as it is now, where the conscience has only power to disapprove, and to protest against the exorbitances of the passions; and rather to wish, than make them otherwise. The voice of conscience now is low and weak, chastising the passions, as old Eli did his lustful, domineering sons; Not so, my sons, not so; but the voice of conscience then was not, This should, or This ought to be done; but, This must, This shall be done. It spoke like a legislator; the thing spoke was a law; and the manner of speaking it a new obligation. In short, there was as great a disparity between the practical dictates of the understanding then and now, as there is between empire and advice, counsel and command, between a companion and a governor.
And thus much for the image of God, as it shone in man’s understanding.
II. Let us in the next place take a view of it, as it was stamped upon the will. It is much disputed by divines concerning the power of man’s will to good and evil in the state of innocence; and upon very nice and dangerous precipices stand their determinations on either side. Some hold, that God invested him with a power to stand, so that in the strength of that power received, he might, without the auxiliaries of any farther influence, have deter mined his will to a full choice of good. Others hold, 41that notwithstanding this power, yet it was impossible for him to exert it in any good action, without a superadded assistance of grace, actually determining that power to the certain production of such an act. So that, whereas some distinguish between sufficient and effectual grace; they order the mat ter so as to acknowledge none sufficient, but what is indeed effectual, and actually productive of a good action. I shall not presume to interpose dogmatically in a controversy, which I look never to see decided. But concerning the latter of these opinions, I shall only give these two remarks.
1. That it seems contrary to the common and natural conceptions of all mankind, who acknowledge themselves able and sufficient to do many things, which actually they never do.
2. That to assert, that God looked upon Adam’s fall as a sin, and punished it as such, when, without any antecedent sin of his, he withdrew that actual grace from him, upon the withdrawing of which, it was impossible for him not to fall, seems a thing that highly reproaches the essential equity and goodness of the divine nature.
Wherefore, doubtless the will of man in the state of innocence had an entire freedom, a perfect equipendency and indifference to either part of the contradiction, to stand, or not to stand; to accept, or not accept the temptation. I will grant the will of man now to be as much a slave as any one will have it, and be only free to sin; that is, instead of a liberty, to have only a licentiousness; yet certainly this is not nature, but chance. We were not born crooked; we learnt these windings and turnings of the serpent: and therefore it cannot but be a blasphemous 42piece of ingratitude to ascribe them to God, and to make the plague of our nature the condition of our creation.
The will was then ductile, and pliant to all the motions of right reason; it met the dictates of a clarified understanding half way. And the active in formations of the intellect, filling the passive reception of the will, like form closing with matter, grew actuate into a third, and distinct perfection of practice: the understanding and will never disagreed; for the proposals of the one never thwarted the inclinations of the other. Yet neither did the will servilely attend upon the understanding, but as a favourite does upon his prince, where the service is privilege and preferment; or as Solomon’s servants waited upon him, it admired its wisdom, and heard its prudent dictates and counsels, both the direction and the reward of its obedience. It is indeed the nature of this faculty to follow a superior guide, to be drawn by the intellect; but then it was drawn as a triumphant chariot, which at the same time both follows and triumphs; while it obeyed this, it commanded the other faculties. It was subordinate, not enslaved to the understanding: not as a servant to a master, but as a queen to her king, who both acknowledges a subjection, and yet retains a majesty.
Pass we now downward from man’s intellect and will,
III. To the passions, which have their residence and situation chiefly in the sensitive appetite. For we must know, that inasmuch as man is a compound, and mixture of flesh as well as spirit, the soul, during its abode in the body, does all things by the mediation of these passions and inferior affections. 43And here the opinion of the Stoics was famous and singular, who looked upon all these as sinful defects and irregularities, as so many deviations from right reason, making passion to be only another word for perturbation. Sorrow, in their esteem, was a sin, scarce to be expiated by another; to pity, was a fault; to rejoice, an extravagance; and the Apostle’s advice, to be angry and sin not, was a contradiction in their philosophy. But in this, they were constantly outvoted by other sects of philosophers, neither for fame nor number less than themselves: so that all arguments brought against them from divinity would come in by way of overplus to their confutation. To us let this be sufficient, that our Saviour Christ, who took upon him all our natural infirmities, but none of our sinful, has been seen to weep, to be sorrowful, to pity, and to be angry: which shews that there might be gall in a dove, passion without sin, fire without smoke, and motion without disturbance. For it is not bare agitation, but the sediment at the bottom, that troubles and defiles the water: and when we see it windy and dusty, the wind does not (as we use to say) make, but only raise a dust.
Now, though the schools reduce all the passions to these two heads, the concupiscible, and the irascible appetite; yet I shall not tie myself to an exact prosecution of them under this division; but at this time, leaving both their terms and their method to themselves, consider only the principal and most noted passions, from whence we may take an estimate of the rest.
And first, for the grand leading affection of all, which is love. This is the great instrument and engine 44of nature, the bond and cement of society, the spring and spirit of the universe. Love is such an affection, as cannot so properly be said to be in the soul, as the soul to be in that. It is the whole man wrapt up into one desire; all the powers, vigour, and faculties of the soul abridged into one inclination. And it is of that active, restless nature, that it must of necessity exert itself; and like the fire, to which it is so often compared, it is not a free agent, to choose whether it will heat or no, but it streams forth by natural results and unavoidable emanations. So that it will fasten upon any inferior, unsuitable object, rather than none at all. The soul may sooner leave off to subsist, than to love; and, like the vine, it withers and dies, if it has nothing to embrace. Now this affection in the state of innocence was happily pitched upon its right object; it flamed up in direct fervours of devotion to God, and in collateral emissions of charity to its neighbour. It was not then only another and more cleanly name for lust. It had none of those impure heats, that both represent and deserve hell. It was a vestal, and a virgin-fire, and differed as much from that which usually passes by this name nowadays, as the vital heat from the burning of a fever.
Then, for the contrary passion of hatred. This, we know, is the passion of defiance, and there is a kind of aversation and hostility included in its very essence and being. But then, (if there could have been hatred in the world, when there was scarce any thing odious,) it would have acted within the compass of its proper object. Like aloes, bitter in deed, but wholesome. There would have been no rancour, no hatred of our brother: an innocent nature 45could hate nothing that was innocent. In a word, so great is the commutation, that the soul then hated only that which now only it loves, that is, sin.
And if we may bring anger under this head, as being, according to some, a transient hatred, or at least very like it: this also, as unruly as now it is, yet then it vented itself by the measures of reason. There was no such thing as the transports of malice, or the violences of revenge: no rendering evil for evil, when evil was truly a nonentity, and no where to be found. Anger then was like the sword of justice, keen, but innocent and righteous: it did not act like fury, and then call itself zeal. It always espoused God’s honour, and never kindled upon any thing but in order to a sacrifice. It sparkled like the coal upon the altar, with the fervours of piety, the heats of devotion, the sallies and vibrations of an harmless activity. In the next place, for the lightsome passion of joy. It was not that, which now often usurps this name; that trivial, vanishing, superficial thing, that only gilds the apprehension, and plays upon the surface of the soul. It was not the mere crackling of thorns, a sudden blaze of the spirits, the exultation of a tickled fancy or a pleased appetite. Joy was then a masculine and a severe thing; the recreation of the judgment, the jubilee of reason. It was the result of a real good, suitably applied. It commenced upon the solidities of truth and the substance of fruition. It did not run out in voice, or undecent eruptions, but filled the soul, as God does the universe, silently and without noise. It was refreshing, but composed; like the pleasantness of youth tempered with the gravity of age; or the 46mirth of a festival managed with the silence of contemplation.
And, on the other side, for sorrow. Had any loss or disaster made but room for grief, it would have moved according to the severe allowances of prudence, and the proportions of the provocation. It would not have sallied out into complaint or loudness, nor spread itself upon the face, and writ sad stories upon the forehead. No wringing of the hands, knocking the breast, or wishing one’s self unborn; all which are but the ceremonies of sorrow, the pomp and ostentation of an effeminate grief: which speak, not so much the greatness of the misery, as the smallness of the mind. Tears may spoil the eyes, but not wash away the affliction. Sighs may exhaust the man, but not eject the burden. Sorrow then would have been as silent as thoughts, as severe as philosophy. It would have rested in inward senses, tacit dislikes; and the whole scene of it been transacted in sad and silent reflections.
Then again for hope. Though indeed the fulness and affluence of man’s enjoyments in the state of innocence, might seem to leave no place for hope, in respect of any farther addition, but only of the prorogation, and future continuance of what already he possessed: yet doubtless, God, who made no faculty, but also provided it with a proper object, upon which it might exercise and lay out itself, even in its greatest innocence, did then exercise man’s hopes with the expectations of a better paradise, or a more intimate admission to himself. For it is not imaginable, that Adam could fix upon such poor, thin enjoyments, as riches, pleasure, and the gayeties of 47an animal life. Hope indeed was always the anchor of the soul, yet certainly it was not to catch or fasten upon such mud. And if, as the Apostle says, no man hopes for that which he sees, much less could Adam then hope for such things as he saw through.
And lastly, for the affection of fear. It was then the instrument of caution, not of anxiety; a guard, and not a torment to the breast that had it. It is now indeed an unhappiness, the disease of the soul: it flies from a shadow, and makes more dangers than it avoids: it weakens the judgment, and be trays the succours of reason: so hard is it to tremble and not to err, and to hit the mark with a shaking hand. Then it fixed upon him who is only to be feared, God: and yet with a filial fear, which at the same time both fears and loves. It was awe with out amazement, dread without distraction. There was then a beauty even in this very paleness. It was the colour of devotion, giving a lustre to reverence, and a gloss to humility.
Thus did the passions then act without any of their present jars, combats, or repugnances; all moving with the beauty of uniformity, and the stillness of composure. Like a well-governed army, not for fighting, but for rank and order. I confess the scripture does not expressly attribute these several endowments to Adam in his first estate. But all that I have said, and much more, may be drawn out of that short aphorism, God made man upright, Eccl. vii. 29. And since the opposite weaknesses now infest the nature of man fallen, if we will be true to the rule of contraries, we must conclude, that those perfections were the lot of man innocent.
Now from this so exact and regular composure of 48the faculties, all moving in their due place, each striking in its proper time, there arose, by natural consequence, the crowning perfection of all, a good conscience. For, as in the body, when the principal parts, as the heart and liver, do their offices, and all the inferior, smaller vessels act orderly and duly, there arises a sweet enjoyment upon the whole, which we call health: so in the soul, when the supreme faculties of the will and understanding move regularly, the inferior passions and affections following, there arises a serenity and complacency upon the whole soul, infinitely beyond the greatest bodily pleasures, the highest quintessence and elixir of worldly delights. There is in this case a kind of fragrancy, and spiritual perfume upon the conscience; much like what Isaac spoke of his son’s garments; that the scent of them was like the smell of a field which the Lord had blessed. Such a freshness and flavour is there upon the soul, when daily watered with the actions of a virtuous life. Whatsoever is pure is also pleasant.
Having thus surveyed the image of God in the soul of man, we are not to omit now those characters of majesty that God imprinted upon the body. He drew some traces of his image upon this also; as much as a spiritual substance could be pictured upon a corporeal. As for the sect of the Anthropomorphites, who from hence ascribe to God the figure of a man, eyes, hands, feet, and the like, they are too ridiculous to deserve a confutation. They would seem to draw this impiety from the letter of the scripture sometimes speaking of God in this manner. Absurdly; as if the mercy of scripture expressions ought to warrant the blasphemy of our 49opinions. And not rather shew us, that God condescends to us, only to draw us to himself; and clothes himself in our likeness, only to win us to his own. The practice of the papists is much of the same nature, in their absurd and impious picturing of God Almighty: but the wonder in them is the less, since the image of a deity may be a proper object for that, which is but the image of a religion. But to the purpose: Adam was then no less glorious in his externals; he had a beautiful body, as well as an immortal soul. The whole compound was like a well built temple, stately without, and sacred within. The elements were at perfect union and agreement in his body; and their contrary qualities served not for the dissolution of the compound, but she variety of the composure. Galen, who had no more divinity than what his physic taught him, barely upon the consideration of this so exact frame of the body, challenges any one upon an hundred years study, to find how any the least fibre, or most minute particle, might be more commodiously placed, cither for the advantage of use or comeliness; his stature erect, and tending upwards to his centre; Ids countenance majestic and comely, with the lustre of a native beauty, that scorned the poor assistance of art, or the attempts of imitation; his body of so much quickness and agility, that it did not only contain, but also represent the soul: for we might well suppose, that where God did deposit so rich a jewel, he would suitably adorn the case. It was a fit workhouse for sprightly vivid faculties to exercise and exert themselves in. A fit tabernacle for an immortal soul, not only to dwell in, but to contemplate upon: where it might see the world without 50travel; it being a lesser scheme of the creation, nature contracted, a little cosmography, or map of the universe. Neither was the body then subject to distempers, to die by piecemeal, and languish under coughs, catarrhs, or consumptions. Adam knew no disease, so long as temperance from the forbidden fruit secured him. Nature was his physician; and innocence and abstinence would have kept him healthful to immortality.
Now the use of this point might be various, but at present it shall be only this; to remind us of the irreparable loss that we sustained in our first parents, to shew us of how fair a portion Adam disinherited his whole posterity by one single prevarication. Take the picture of a man in the greenness and vivacity of his youth, and in the latter date and declensions of his drooping years, and you will scarce know it to belong to the same person: there would be more art to discern, than at first to draw it. The same and greater is the difference between man innocent and fallen. He is, as it were, a new kind or species; the plague of sin has even altered his nature, and eaten into his very essentials. The image of God is wiped out, the creatures have shook off his yoke, renounced his sovereignty, and revolted from his dominion. Distempers and diseases have shattered the excellent frame of his body; and, by a new dispensation, immortality is swallowed up of mortality. The same disaster and decay also has invaded his spirituals: the passions rebel, every faculty would usurp and rule; and there are so many governors, that there can be no government. The light within us is become darkness; and the understanding, that should be eyes to the blind faculty 51of the will, is blind itself, and so brings all the inconveniences that attend a blind follower under the conduct of a blind guide. He that would have a clear, ocular demonstration of this, let him reflect upon that numerous litter of strange, senseless, absurd opinions, that crawl about the world, to the disgrace of reason, and the unanswerable reproach of a broken intellect.
The two great perfections, that both adorn and exercise man’s understanding, are philosophy and religion: for the first of these; take it even amongst the professors of it, where it most flourished, and we shall find the very first notions of common sense debauched by them. For there have been such as have asserted, that there is no such thing in the world as motion; that contradictions may be true. There has not been wanting one, that has denied snow to be white. Such a stupidity or wantonness had seized upon the most raised wits, that it might be doubted, whether the philosophers or the owls of Athens were the quicker sighted. But then for religion; what prodigious, monstrous, misshapen births has the reason of fallen man produced! It is now almost six thousand years, that far the greatest part of the world has had no other religion but idolatry: and idolatry certainly is the first-born of folly, the great and leading paradox; nay, the very abridgment and sum total of all absurdities. For is it not strange, that a rational man should worship an ox, nay, the image of an ox? that he should fawn upon his dog? bow himself before a cat? adore leeks and garlic, and shed penitential tears at the smell of a deified onion? Yet so did the Egyptians, once the famed masters of all arts and learning, 52And to go a little farther; we have yet a stranger instance in Isa. xliv. 14. A man hews him down a tree in the wood, and part of it he burns, in ver. 16. and in ver. 17. with the residue thereof he maketh a god. With one part he furnishes his chimney, with the other his chapel. A strange thing, that the fire must consume this part, and then burn incense to that. As if there was more divinity in one end of the stick than in the other; or as if it could be graved and painted omnipotent, or the nails and the hammer could give it an apotheosis. Briefly, so great is the change, so deplorable the degradation of our nature, that, whereas before we bore the image of God, we now retain only the image of men.
In the last place, we learn from hence the excellency of Christian religion, in that it is the great and only means that God has sanctified and designed to repair the breaches of humanity, to set fallen man upon his legs again, to clarify his reason, to rectify his will, and to compose and regulate his affections. The whole business of our redemption is, in short, only to rub over the defaced copy of the creation, to reprint God’s image upon the soul, and (as it were) to set forth nature in a second and a fairer edition.
The recovery of which lost image, as it is God’s pleasure to command, and our duty to endeavour, so it is in his power only to effect.
To whom be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.53
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