Imatges de pÓgina

ation. He is made a rational, free, moral being, to know, to choose, and to direct his own way in his given relations. This was an endowment wanting in all the other grades of created existence on the earth. In it man is placed not only immeasurably above, but in strongest contrast with nature about him. He stands apart from it, in that which constitutes his distinctive being, by the whole difference which separates persons from mere things. This personality has often been designated a “natural likeness," in contradistinction from "moral,” since the designation is meant to denote simply faculties creationally given, and not their ethical state. As faculties, however, these endowments are manifestly already the essential constituents of a moral nature, absolutely conditional for moral or spiritual action or character. In these lofty attributes of personality, faculties of knowledge, love, and freedom, God formed a being after His own type of existence, of kindred capacities, establishing a linkage of communion of life, thought, and blessedness with the earth. It is to be distinctly observed, also, that since God's personality is that of “Spirit” (John iv. 24), this human personality, made in His image, necessarily means spirit-essence for the rational selfhood of man. His thinking self is that of a spirit. Materialism is excluded. This Scripture view is in accordance with all that we can know of man. For the elements of personality, intelligence, sensibility, and rational freedom have never been found scientifically explicable in terms of matter.

The Biblical affirmation of man's formation in the image of God in this respect is at the same time one of the most direct deductions of reason and most assured realities of experience. It is a truth that underlies all scientific research, and is confirmed by its results. For nature is intelligible to man. God's thoughts, all through creation, are legible and impressive to the human mind. The human apprehension answers to the divine expres. sion, to the divine working. A certain community of natures unquestionably exists—as certainly as between man and his fellow-man. At the very basis of the translation from one human language into another is the likeness of human mind to human mind. Man is “in the image" of man everywhere. Thought answers to thought and recognizes its own. In the same way the legibility of the meanings of nature, the purposes, adaptations, and aims of cosmic order and movement, the ideas, principles, and laws, everywhere luminous to the human mind, must rest upon a community of rational intelligence between man and the Author of all things. The great scientific and, at the same time, most practical truth of our lives, that we are able to “read God's thonghts after Him” in nature, is a synonym for the declaration that we have been created “in the image of God." And it is well to fix in mind how deep and far-reaching is this form of witness. For example, the human mind, in its purely subjective and idealistic action, creates the mathematical sciences, i, e., of pure thought, determining what can be real and true in the possibilities of space and time.

The whole system of geometrical truth as well as arithmetical, is thus a creation of the human mind under its own laws. But it is startlingly significant of the likeness of the human mind to that of God when these truths of pure thought, if applied to nature, are found to tally with the actual facts and structures of the universe. The mental order which, in us, fixes the mathematical formulæ, mirrors exactly the arrangement which the Creative Intelligence has thought and wrought into the actuality of nature around us and in the movements of far-off worlds. There is an exact adaptation between the laws of mind and the realities of the objective constitution of things. We can take these creations of our pure thought and go out into the universe, and find that the same order and system have been there before us, rhythmic in the forces, motions, distances, and correlations of the great astronomical realm. The mind's products, as adjusted by its laws, are found to be reflex of the realities of the universe as moulded under the ideas' of the Creator of all. In man God has lifted the earthly creation up into the lofty position of fellowship with His own thought, and possible communion with His love and blessedness. It is only in this truth that we get a conception of the measureless value of man in His Creator's sight, or of the grounds of his destination to an immortal life-as, indeed, a "child of God” (Luke iii. 38).

2. The divine image in primitive man consisted also and especially in being created holy. As made by God, the nature given him was absolutely pure, free from moral evil, and adjusted in positive conformity to the law of righteousness. “God made man upright " (Eccl. vii. 29). The regeneration which redemption is to effect is to be a 'renewal ' into righteousness and true holiness (Eph. iv. 24). This is distinctively a spiritual and moral likeness, which is, indeed, the supreme thing in man's original excellence. It is to be clearly distinguished from the first feature in this, that while the first refers to man's essential faculties or capacities, this denotes the state of those faculties, as in positive harmony with righteousness. That state was not simply negative, as an absence of evil, but positive, as in actual accord with holiness. It is not enough to say that man was created in “innocence.” He was truly “good,"

very good ” (Gen. i. 31). This feature of the divine image was specially accentuated by the early Latin Christianity; and rightly so, for holiness is the fundamental and supreme attribute of man's Creator.

There is, therefore, no room for the dogma of the donum superadditum, framed by Roman Catholicism in the middle ages, asserting the righteousness of the first man to have been, not a concreated excellence, a quality or state of his nature as originally constituted, but a gift of grace afterward supernaturally added. The notion that human nature, as divinely given, was without real harmonization with righteousness, ethically nonadjusted, or mal-adjusted, is not only against the plain implications of the Scriptures throughout (Gen. i. 31; Eccl. vii. 29; Eph. iv. 24; Col. iii. 10), but involves a charge of moral indifference or want of goodness on the part of the Creator. For it implies that His creative work left man without a right moral dispo sition, or a true setting of his conscience and affections with respect to right and duty. We must view the original holiness as so truly and thoroughly natural that, but for the fall, it would have been a permanent feature of the race through propagation, as depravity or sin now is through hereditary descent.

3. As a further and dependent fact in the “image and likeness,” was dominion over impersonal world-nature (Gen. i. 26-28; Ps. viii. 5-8). This dominion rests back upon man's endowment of personality, in intelligent, rational self-direction and control. By inherent consti1 Bellarmin, "De Gratia," p. 21; Moehler, "Symbolism," pp. 25-35. tution he was exalted into a position of free-will and responsibility, made capable of receiving commission to enter into possession and right charge of the provision and possibilities given in lower physical nature. As the cosmic nature looked to man and was designed for him, he was placed in dominion over it. It had been created in forces and movement, under laws intelligible to the human mind and plastic to human will and handling. With man's self-rulership of freedom in holiness was thus connected this further deputative and representative rulership over nature, manifestly intended to extend and establish the dominion of reason and holiness in the order and life of the earth (Heb. ii. 7-10). Thus man was given a truly princely nature and position in the world-order.

4. Still further, we must connect with this reality of likeness to God in spiritual and ethical personality and economic activity a bodily organism adapted to immortal life, free from disease, and corrupted by no fleshly passion. Though this in itself can be regarded as no part of the “image and likeness," since God is pure Spirit, yet the spirit-essence, the center of the personality of man, created by the spiration of God, being designed to “live forever” (Gen. iii. 22), manifestly requires us to view the material side of His being also as constituted for permanent vital existence. We know not how this permanency was to be maintained-whether by the force of the internal pneumatic or psychic life, or by the appropriation of resources from without, or by the conjoined action of both. Before any hint of the fall into sin, the Mosaic sketch represents the fullness of the earth's foods as given him "for meat” (Gen. i. 29-30), and immediately after the lapse points to a “tree of life" that had been made accessible for ‘living forever' (iii.

« AnteriorContinua »