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The Fall Considered as a Development.
« And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of
us, to know good and evil.”-GENESIS III. 22.
PAS HE Scripture touches but lightly man's life
in Eden; for, the text tells us, it was only
through the Fall, and the experience which has sprung from it, that man has grown to the full form of man. “ 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; male and female created He them.” The image was there, perfect in Eden. But it needed yet some touch of the living fire. Man, by one dread act, brought himself into a new and awful relation with the devil on the one hand; on the other, with
God. Till then, Eden had filled his calm horizon. By that act of freedom he widened its circuit: heaven and hell then passed within his sphere. “God made man in His own image.” But the deepest power, the free power, was yet latent. By a dark act of rebellion he developed it; and the Lord God testifies that he had thereby become something which the words “ as one of us ” alone describe. And yet that act was deadly. Man, aiming at the height of God, fell perilously on the very edge of the abyss. No more awful condition of life, in point of grandeur and power, can be conceived, than the words “ become as one of us”. set forth; and yet the penalty of aiming at it was death. It was a step out, a step on for man in the unfolding of the latent powers and possibilities of his being as an embodied spirit ; but it brought him within peril and under the hand of woes and evils, which have made his history one long wail, and his life one long night. There had been no pause in that wail, no break in that night, but that God met the first transgression with a sentence the heart of which was a promise. Its growing fulfilment has been the thread of light twined in the woof of earth's sad history. God fixed that beam of heavenly light among the threads when the loom was first set moving by that dread act, wherein man asserted a power of will independent of God. That Divine
promise, and not the self-directed exercise of freedom, has made man's life, with all its sins and sorrows, the royal fabric of the King of kings.
Adam, the child of Eden, made in God's image, could find the completeness of his life in Eden. The mould of his being was perfect, as an image ; the compass of his powers presented him as the likeness of God in this material world. Adam, the child of the wilderness, having become by the act of freedom that which our text describeshaving by the actual experiment of what power might be in him, by the actual unfolding of a life whose character and ends were expressly self-determined, grown into something which, if grander on the one hand than the estate in which he was created in the garden, was most terrible and sorrowful on the other—could find the completeness of his life alone in Christ and heaven. The sinless child could pass his peaceful life in the safe nest and quiet range of an earthly Paradise. To hear the voice of the Lord God among the trees of the garden, and to see His smile playing like the sunlight over his gentle toils, was his supreme satisfaction. For Adam, the exile of Eden, the man who had ventured into the untried world of rebellion against the benign law of the heavenly King, and had begun to taste the fruits of that rebellion in the bitterness of his soul, a higher destiny was open
through grace. Cut off from God, there was but one possible end to his rebellion. He must lie crushed at last under the weight of the system whose order he had violated, the hand whose power he had defied. But if God should pitifully look upon His prodigal, and follow him into the wilderness with forgiving thoughts and the touch of a restoring hand, Adam had become that which was capable, not of presenting the Divine image only, but of partaking the Divine nature, and of entering, as the first Adam never could have entered, into all the high employments and holiest fellowships of heaven.
I must beg you very earnestly to bear in mind that the sentence of our text, pronounced after the transgression, explicitly declares that man had become something different in relation to God, something higher in development if more alien in spirit, than was expressed in the original constitution of the head of our race.
“God made man in His own image,” is the original description of the constitution of man. Then follows the dread history which the third chapter of the book of Genesis records; and then it is stated, “ Man is as one of us, knowing good and evil.” The words imply, though they do not express, a growth.
Our translators have rightly given the English equivalent to the Hebrew idiom
in the word “ become.” And the words « “ of us,” unquestionably imply a higher condition in point of development, than is expressed in the simple image-bearing which the first chapter of Genesis unfolds. I am well aware that some among the ablest commentators hold that there is keen irony here, the irony of God! Calvin develops the idea with his usual clearness and force. To me, it seems blankly incredible. Herder, too, looking at these solemn old records with the æsthetic eye, has some fine remarks on the irony of some of the most venerable passages of our primeval history. But one can hardly help feeling, in reading his exquisite and finished criticism on the early Hebrew poetry, that another eye, an eye having discernment of deeper things than poetic beauty, is needed here. If this be irony, then we can believe that all life is irony, that all its sorrowful aspirations, hopes, and struggles, are the irony of heaven; and it is but a step further to the conclusion of a powerful and ancient school of Hindu philosophy, that creation—all that seems—is but the sick dream of the Supreme. No! These old words, whatever they may be, are honest; God does not begin in irony that
progress which is to lead through Gethsemane and Calvary to Heaven.
Man, then, is said to have grown to something which is in one sense nearer to God, nearer to the