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Chapter I.

Showing What The Image Of God In Man Is.

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and ... put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.Eph. 4:23, 24.

The image of God in man, is the conformity of the soul of man, of his spirit and mind, of his understanding and will, and of all his faculties and powers, both bodily and mental, to God and the Holy Trinity. For the decree of the Holy Trinity was thus expressed: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” etc. Gen., 1:26.

2. It is evident, therefore, that, when man was created, the image of the Trinity was impressed on him, in order that the holiness, righteousness, and goodness of God, might shine forth in his soul; diffuse abundant light through his understanding, will, and affections; and visibly appear even in his life and conversation: that, consequently, all his actions, both inward and outward, might breathe nothing but divine love, purity, and power, and, in short, that the life of man upon earth might resemble that of the angels in heaven, who are always engaged in doing the will of their Heavenly Father. In thus impressing his image on man, God designed to delight and rejoice in him, just as a father rejoices in a child born after his own image: for as a parent, beholding himself, or another self, in his offspring, cannot but feel the greatest complacency and delight; so, when God beheld the express character of his own Person reflected in an image of himself, his “delights were with the sons of men.” Prov. 8:31. Thus it was God's chief pleasure to look on man, in whom he rejoiced, and rested, as it were, from all his labor; considering him as the great masterpiece of his creation, and knowing that in the perfect innocence and beauty of man, the excellency of his own glory would be fully set forth. And this blessed communion our first parents and their posterity were always 2 to have enjoyed, had they continued in the likeness of God, and rested in him and in his will; who, as he was their author, was also to be their end.

3. It undoubtedly is the essential property of every image, that it be a just representation of the object which it is intended to express; and as the reflection in a mirror is vivid in a degree proportioned to the clearness of the mirror itself, so the image of God becomes more or less visible, according to the purity of the soul in which it is beheld.

4. Hence God originally created man perfectly pure and undefiled; that so the divine image might be beheld in him, not as an empty, lifeless shadow in a glass, but as a true and living image of the invisible God, and as the likeness of his inward, hidden, and unutterable beauty. There was an image of the wisdom of God, in the understanding of man; of his goodness, gentleness, and patience, in the spirit of man; of his divine love and mercy, in the affections of man's heart. There was an image of the righteousness and holiness, the justice and purity of God, in the will of man; of his kindness, clemency, and truth, in all the words and actions of man; of his almighty power, in man's dominion over the earth, and inferior creatures; and lastly, there was an image of God's eternity, in the immortality of the human soul.

5. From the divine image thus implanted in him, man should have acquired the knowledge both of God and of himself. Hence he might have learned, that God, his Creator, is all in all, the Being of beings, and the chief and only BEING, from whom all created beings derive their existence, and in whom, and by whom, all things that are, subsist. Hence, also, he might have known, that God, as the Original of man's nature, is all that essentially, of which he himself was but the image and representation. For since man was to bear the image of the divine goodness, it follows that God is the sovereign and universal goodness essentially (Matt. 19:17); and, consequently, that God is essential love, essential life, and essential holiness, to whom alone (because he is all this essentially), worship and praise, honor and glory, might, majesty, dominion, and virtue, are to be ascribed: whereas these do not appertain to the creature, nor belong to anything but God alone.

6. From this image of the Divine Being, man should further have acquired the knowledge of himself. He should have considered what a vast difference there was between God and himself. Man is not God, but God's image; and the image of God ought to represent nothing but God. He is a portraiture of the Divine Being; a character, an image, in which God alone should be seen and glorified. Nothing therefore ought to live in man, besides God. Nothing but the Divinity should stir, will, love, think, speak, act, or rejoice in him. For if anything besides God live or work in man, he ceases to be the image of God; and becomes the image of that which thus lives and acts within him. If therefore a man would become, and continue to be, the image of God, he must wholly surrender himself to the Divine Being, and submit entirely to his will; he must suffer God to work in him whatsoever he pleases; so that, by denying his own will, he may do the will of his Heavenly Father without reserve, being entirely resigned to God, and willing to become a holy instrument 3 in his hands, to do his will and his work. Such a man follows not his own will, but the will of God; he loves not himself, but God; seeks not his own honor, but the honor of God. He covets no estates nor affluence for himself, but refers all to the Supreme Good; and so being contented to possess him, rises above the love of the creature and the world. And thus ought man to divest himself of all love of himself and the world, that God alone may be all in him, and work all in him, by his Holy Spirit. Herein consisted the perfect innocence, purity, and holiness of man. For, what greater innocence can there be, than that a man should do, not his own will, but the will of his Heavenly Father? Or what greater purity, than that man should suffer God to work in him, and to do everything according to His pleasure? Or, what greater holiness, than to become an instrument in the hands of the Spirit of God? To resemble a child, in whose breast self-love and self-honor do not yet prevail, is, in truth, the highest simplicity.

7. Of this entire devotedness to the Divine will, our Lord Jesus Christ, while he sojourned in our world, was a perfect example. He sacrificed his own will to God his Father, in blameless obedience, humility, and meekness; readily depriving himself of all honor and esteem, of all self-interest and self-love, of all pleasure and joy; and leaving God alone, to think, speak, and act, in him, and by him. In short, he invariably made the will and pleasure of God his own, as the Father himself testified by a voice from Heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:17. The Lord Jesus Christ, blessed forever, is the true Image of God, in whom nothing appears but God himself, and such manifestations as are agreeable to his nature; namely, love, mercy, long-suffering, patience, meekness, gentleness, righteousness, holiness, consolation, life, and everlasting blessedness: for by him, the invisible God was willing to be discovered and made known to man. He is indeed the image of God in a more sublime sense; that is, according to his Divinity, by virtue of which, he is himself very God, the express and essential image of his Father's glory, in the infinite splendor of the uncreated light. Heb. 1:3. But of this point no more can at present be said: our design being to speak of him only as he lived and conversed in his holy humanity, while he tabernacled upon the earth.

8. It was in such a holy innocence as this, that the image of God was, in the beginning, conferred on Adam, which he should have preserved in true humility and obedience. Sufficient it surely was for him, that he was made capable of all the benefits of the divine image; of sincere and unmixed love and delight; of undisturbed and solid tranquillity of mind; of power, fortitude, peace, light, and life. But not duly reflecting that he himself was not the chief good, but merely a mirror of the Godhead, formed purposely to receive the reflection of the divine nature, he erected himself into a God; and thus choosing to be the highest good to himself, he was precipitated into the greatest of all evils, being deprived of this inestimable image, and alienated from that communion with God, which, by virtue of it, he before enjoyed.

9. Had self-will, self-love, and self-honor, been excluded, the image of God could not have departed from man; but the Divine Being would have continued to be his sole glory, 4 honor, and praise. As everything is capable of its like and not of its contrary, and in its like acquiesces and delights, so man, being in the similitude of God, was thereby prepared to receive God into himself, who was also ready to communicate himself to man, with all the treasures of his goodness; goodness being of all things the most communicative of itself.

10. Finally, man ought to have learned from the image of God, that by means of it he is united to God; and that in this union, his true and everlasting tranquillity, his rest, peace, joy, life, and happiness alone consist. He should have learned that all restlessness of mind and vexation of spirit, arise from nothing but a breach of this union, by which he ceases to be the image of God; for man no sooner turns to the creature, than he is deprived of that eternal good which is to be derived from God alone.

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