Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

by David's being their king and prince for ever (as is prophesied) after their restoration. This is not difficult to be understood. As the Jewish nation represented the church, so their kings and rulers represented Him who is the Head of the church, viz., the Lord.

In this sense, David, particularly, is spoken of in Scripture, because he was not only a king, but a prophet; and all the Jewish prophets represented the Lord, in whose name they uttered their prophecies. And that Davidin those places where he is spoken of as about to reign over the Jews for ever-represents the Lord, is very plain, because elsewhere it is said directly that not David, but the Lord, was to reign in Mount Zion and Jerusalem, as appears in a passage quoted above. Thus, if David represents the Lord, by his reigning for ever in Jerusalem is meant that the Lord will reign for ever in His church, when He has restored

purity, truth, and goodness. In conclusion, what, then, is to be understood by the prophecies in the Holy Scriptures in regard to the restoration of Jerusalem and the Jewish kingdom? It is plain that they refer to the restoration of the church, the Lord's kingdom on earth. They prophesy that a day will come when the Lord will establish on this earth a pure and holy church, all doctrines of which shall be true and clear; and what is still more, that its doctrines shall be lived up to, and so become goodness in men's hearts. This glorious church is that holy city the New Jerusalem, which John beheld, in spirit, “coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” It is coming down now. The Lord is preparing His dwelling-place on the earth; the dawn of a brighter day is near; and the Sun of Righteousness will soon arise " with healing in his wings.” A great voice has been heard out of heaven, and will soon be echoed from the earth, saying—"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away." London.

0. P. H.

WHAT IS MAN ?*

IT has been well observed, that self-knowledge is one of the most important subjects that can occupy the human mind; it ranks next to the knowledge of the Lord, which ought certainly to be considered the highest on which the minds of men or angels can be engaged.

* By the late Rev. M. Sibly,

The knowledge of the Lord introduces us to an intellectual view of Him whom we ought religiously to adore and worship, as the true God and eternal life, -as the one Lord of heaven and earth—the Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator of men. From a knowledge of ourselves, we learn the proper manner in which the Lord can be acceptably worshipped, and become acquainted with the faculties and powers we possess, by creation, from Him, which enable us to pay the reverential homage which is due to His sacred and magnificent name.

We propose, then, by the divine mercy, to seek some knowledge respecting our own mental constitution and human nature, in answer to the question—“What is man?” We shall consider first, the state of man by creation; and offer secondly, some remarks on the general properties of our human nature. With respect to the first point,—the state of man by creation,—we do not intend to investigate the peculiarities of the constitution of the men who existed prior to the fall, but merely to state some general truths, which are equally applicable to the condition of man now and at all future times, as to the primæval inhabitants of this earth, who formed the most ancient church, which was called Adam. We shall, therefore, in this investigation, regard the past and the future only so far as they coincide with the present; for all men alike exist and subsist by divine power.

We begin our answer to the inquiry, What is man?” in respect to his state by creation, by saying that he is a dependent being. This is a necessary consequence of his being a created existence. Notwithstanding all the importance vain man may attach to himself, he owes all, and everything he possesses as man, to his Divine-Human Creator. “ Know that the Lord he is God; it is he that has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” This Creator of man is the God in the heavens, above nature, and not, as some conceive and teach, the inmost part of nature; for He is the Creator of nature herself.

However, some men may not acknowledge the Lord in the heavens to be the Divine Creator, conceiving of themselves to be demi.gods, as it were, accountable to no one for their actions; and consider themselves as a part of nature, as well in respect to their souls as their bodies. We, who believe the truths of the Holy Word, and have our minds illustrated by Divine revelation, look up to the Lord above, in the heavens, as our Creator; and look down to ourselves as creatures, the work of His hand; agreeably to the counsel of David, (Ps. xcv. 6.) "O come, let us worship, and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."

In the second place, we may profitably consider man, not only as a creature generally, but as a human creature. As a mere creature, we

66

discern him to be placed on a level with the animal creation. But the possession of human faculties, endows him with prerogatives above all other created existences. The human faculties are a consequence of man's soul of lives being the immediate offspring of his Maker's affections; whereby a dignity is given to his character not to be found but in a human creature.

That man, as a human creature, has prerogatives beyond all other created existences, we learn from his marked superiority by creation, as stated in the book of Genesis. For the formation of the heavens, of the earth, of all kinds of animals and vegetables, of the sun, moon, and stars, we read simply that God spake the word, and they were created. The Almighty uttered the fiat, and it was done. But the creation of man, if we may so express ourselves, was a more elaborate work; in the formation of man, it may be said, that all the skill of the Divine Wisdom was exerted. Concerning his creation it is written (Gen. i. 26, 27.)—“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.” It is also written in chap. ii. 7 :“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Hence it is that immortality is estamped upon his human nature; hence also it is that he is an inhabitant of the spiritual and of the natural world at the same time; and that after he has passed through his life in the natural, he is destined, because created, to live to eternity in the spiritual world. These are properties which do not belong to any created existence but to man. All other creatures perish with time; and their spirits, when they go forth, pass again into the general sphere of life which pervades the immensity of space. But man, the noblest creature which the hand of Divine Love and Wisdom has made, stands upon higher ground; his human principle, once fixed in an ultimate human form, can never be dissipated or annihilated; he may deface the Divine-Human image and likeness in himself, but he can never destroy it. His soul of life is an immediate inspiration from Jehovah God, and can never cease to exist.

Therefore, in the third place, in answer to the question before us-“What is man?” according to his state of creation; we reply—He is an image and likeness of the Omnipotent Maker and Great Father of us all.

By this, man possesses another prerogative above the rest of created existences ;-all other creatures, of whatever kind and degree, at their best estate, are but images and likenesses of man.

That man, the image and likeness of his Maker, has an ascendancy over all other created existences, is positively taught in the history of creation (Gen. i. 28.)—"And God said, Let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.” The illustration of these Divine declarations may assist us to discern more clearly some further particulars of the Divine order according to which man was created.

We are herein taught that man is created an image and likeness of God. He may be considered His image and likeness, both as to his internal human essence and as to his external human form. He is internally an image and likeness of the Lord, because he is capable of being enlightened and vivified by the Divine Proceeding of Wisdom and Love; and he is the same externally, because he is created in the image of the Divine-Human form.

Man is capable of having his mind enlightened with wisdom and vivified with love divine in their na ure, because he can elevate his heart and mind to the Lord bis God by the exercise of love and faith, of which God is at once the Object and the Source; and by these he can become conjoined to the Lord, and thereby enter into the felicities of eternal life; for, to be conjoined to the Lord by love and faith, is to live for ever.

The internal image and likeness of the Lord, in which man is created, consists in the possession of powers or faculties of thus attaining to holiness and purity. By virtue of these internal faculties, he is capable of attaining unto the love and the glory, the light and the knowledge of the Lord his God, and of reflecting them to the honour and magnification of his Maker. By virtue of these internal faculties, he is capable of having a discernment of the high original of his human birth-that, in himself, he is this image and likeness of his Heavenly Parent; and therefore with filial affection and confidence can elevate his heart and mind to his Father in the heavens.

The external image and likeness of man to his Maker, consists in his human form being an image of the very form of Jehovah God Himself.

That the external form of Jehovah God our Maker and Heavenly Father is the human form, is testified by all his appearances to the prophets and others recorded in the Old Testament. In the account of these appearances we find mention made of His face, His hands, His feet, and other specified human members, as proper to His Divine-Human Person. Moreover, when He was pleased, for the deliverance of His people from their spiritual bondage, in the fulness of time to become incarnate, it was in the human form. The second Adam, who was the Lord from heaven, then clothed Himself with the ultimate of our human nature, and therein was pleased to pass through a life in this world; and having at length made His ultimate human principle, degree, and form Divine, He rose from the dead, full and complete man as well as God, and therein ever remains the Divine-Human, and thus the visible Object, of love, faith, obedience, and adoration to His true Christian church, through time and to the countless ages of eternity. Our blessed Lord and Saviour elevated the ultimate human into union with the essential Divine, because Jehovah God so existed from eternity, as to first principles, in potentia, and brought the same into actuality by incarnation of the Virgin Mary.

We therefore answer the question before us- What, according to the order of his creation, is man? by saying-He is a creature possessed of human powers and faculties, by which he is an image and likeness of the Almighty Creator and Divine-Human Parent of all.

And now we proceed to the consideration of what man is, as to some general properties of his human constitution. We have already observed that man is in possession of an internal human essence, and an external human form, of which we may be rationally convinced from the circumstance, that everything which exists must possess an internal essence and life, and an external form and body. It is necessarily so with man. He has an internal part, into which the Lord flows immediately by His Holy Spirit. Of the Divine influx man has no sensible perception, nor is it possible he can have, because his internal part is too remote to come to his intellectual consciousness, much less to his corporeal sense. But, although man has no perception of this interior part, or region, which is the seat of the Lord's more immediate presence, yet he may be assured that he possesses such an internal by its outward results. He may be assured that the Lord, his Creator, has an inward and immediate dwelling-place in his soul, and from which He operates unseen, from what he feels and knows to pass in the more external parts of his nature. Nothing comes to our cognizance and perception but what must have a more inward or central cause; and thus we may trace back all we know and are sensibly affected with, until we obtain, so far as our minds are illustrated by His Holy Word, some view of Him who is the grand first cause of all. It is allowable for us manifestly to see the Lord only in the back parts, not in the face-to have a sensible perception of the divine operations of our Heavenly Father, as He passes by, in the effect, but not in the cause ; although we may afterwards elevate our minds even thither, if we desire to become truly intelligent and wise in heavenly

« ZurückWeiter »