Human Nature in its Fourfold State
By Thomas Boston (1676 - 1732)
I. The State of Innocence
"Lo, this only have I found, that God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." Eccl. 7:29
There are four things very necessary to be known by all who would see heaven:
1. What man was in the state of innocence, as God made him.
2. What he is in the state of corrupt nature, as he has unmade himself.
3. What he must be in the state of grace, as created in Christ Jesus unto good works, if ever he be made a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.
4. What he will be in his eternal state, as made by the Judge of all, either perfectly happy, or completely miserable, and that forever.
These are weighty points, which touch the vitals of practical godliness, from which most men, and even many professors, in these dregs of time, are quite estranged. I design, therefore, under the divine conduct, to open up these things, and apply them.
I begin with the first of them, namely, the State of Innocence: that beholding man polished after the similitude of a palace, the ruins may the more affect us; we may the more prize that matchless Person whom the Father has appointed the repairer of the breach; and that we may, with fixed resolves, betake ourselves to that way which leads to the city which has immoveable foundations.
In the text we have three things:
1. The state of innocence wherein man was created. "God has made man upright." By "man" here we are to understand our first parents; the archetypal pair, the root of mankind, and the fountain from whence all generations have streamed; as may appear by comparing Gen. 5:1, 2, "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him: male and female created he them; and blessed them," as the root of mankind, "and called their name Adam." The original word is the same in our text. In this sense, man was made upright (agreeable to the nature of God, whose work is perfect), without any imperfection, corruption, or principle of corruption, in his body or soul. He was made "upright," that is, straight with the will and law of God, without any irregularity in his soul. By the set it got in its creation, it directly pointed towards God, as his chief end; which straight inclination was represented, as in an emblem, by the erect figure of his body, a figure that no other living creature partakes of. What David was in a gospel sense, that was he in a legal sense; one "according to God's own heart," altogether righteous, pure, and holy. God made him thus: he did not first make him, and then make him righteous; but in the very making of him, he made him righteous. Original righteousness was created with him; so that in the same moment he was a man, he was a righteous man, morally good; with the same breath that God breathed into him a living soul, he breathed into him a righteous soul.
2. Here is man's fallen state: "But they have sought out many inventions." They fell off from their rest in God, and fell upon seeking inventions of their own, to mend their case; and they quite marred it. Their ruin was from their own proper motion: they would not abide as God had made them; but they sought out inventions, to deform and undo themselves.
3. Observe here the certainty and importance of these things: "Lo, this only have I found," etc. Believe them, they are the result of a narrow search, and a serious inquiry, performed by the wisest of men. In the two preceding verses, Solomon represents himself as in quest of goodness in the world; but the issue of it was, he could find no satisfying end of his search after it; though it was not for lack of pains, for he "counted one by one, to find out the account." "Behold, this have I found, says the preacher," namely, "That," as the same word is read in our text, "yet my soul seeks—but I find not." He could make no satisfying discovery of it, which might end his inquiry. He found the good very rare, one as it were among a thousand. But could that satisfy the grand query, "Where shall wisdom be found?" No it could not—and if the experience of others in this point, run counter to Solomon's, as it is no reflection on his discernment, it can as little decide the question, which will remain undetermined until the last day. But, amidst all this uncertainty there is one point found out and fixed—"This have I found." You may depend upon it as a most certain truth, and be fully satisfied in it; "Lo this;" fix your eyes upon it, as a matter worthy of most deep and serious regard, namely, that man's nature is now depraved—but that depravity was not from God, for he "made man upright;" but from themselves, "they have sought out many inventions."
Doctrine. God made man altogether righteous.
This is that state of innocence in which God placed man in the world. It is described in the holy Scripture with a running pen, in comparison of the following states; for it was of no continuance—but passed away as a flying shadow, by man's abusing the freedom of his will. I shall,
I. Inquire into the righteousness of this state wherein man was created.
II. Lay before you some of the happy attendants and consequences thereof.
III. Applying the whole.
I. Of Man's Original Righteousness.
As to the righteousness of this state, consider, that as uncreated righteousness, the righteousness of God is the supreme rule; so all created righteousness, whether of men or angels, has respect to a law as its rule, and is a conformity thereto. A creature can no more be morally independent of God in its actions and powers, than it can be naturally independent of him. A creature, as a creature, must acknowledge the Creator's will as its supreme law; for as it cannot exist without him, so it must not be but for him, and according to his will; yet no law obliges, until it is revealed. And hence it follows, that there was a law, which man, as a rational creature, was subjected to in his creation; and that this law was revealed to him.
"God made man upright," says the text. This supposes a law to which he was conformed in his creation; as when anything is made regular, or according to rule, of necessity the rule itself is presupposed. Whence we may gather, that this law was no other than the eternal, indispensable law of righteousness, observed in all points by the second Adam, opposed by the carnal mind, and some notions of which remain yet among the Pagans, who, "having not the law, are a law unto themselves," Romans 2:14. In a word, this law is the very same which was afterwards summed up in the ten commandments, and promulgated, on mount Sinai, to the Israelites, called by us the moral law, and man's righteousness consisted in conformity to this law or rule.
More particularly, there is a twofold conformity required of a man—a conformity of the powers of his soul to the law, which you may call habitual righteousness; and a conformity of all his actions to it, which is actual righteousness. Now, God made man habitually righteous; man was to make himself actually righteous—the former was the stock which God put into his hand; the latter was the improvement he should have made of it. The sum of what I have said is, that the righteousness wherein man was created, was the conformity of all the faculties and powers of his soul to the moral law. This is what we call Original Righteousness, which man was originally endued with. We may take it up in these three things:
1. Man's UNDERSTANDING was a lamp of light. He had perfect knowledge of the law, and of his duty accordingly—he was made after God's image, and consequently could not lack knowledge, which is a part thereof, Col. 3:10, "The new man is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him who created him." And indeed, this was necessary to fit him for universal obedience; seeing no obedience can be according to the law, unless it proceed from a sense of the commandment of God requiring it. It is true, Adam had not the law written upon tables of stone; but it was written upon his mind, the knowledge thereof being created with him. God impressed it upon his soul, and made him a law to himself, as the remains of it among the heathens do testify, Romans 2:14, 15. And seeing man was made to be the mouth of the creation, to glorify God in his works, we have ground to believe he had naturally an exquisite knowledge of the works of God. We have a proof of this in Adam's giving names to the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, and those such as express their nature. "Whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof," Gen. 2:19. The dominion which God gave him over the creatures, soberly to use and dispose of them according to his will (still in subordination to the will of God), seems to require no less than a knowledge of their natures. And, besides all this, his perfect knowledge of the law proves his knowledge in the management of civil affairs, which, in respect of the law of God, "a good man will guide with discretion," Psalm 112:5.
2. His WILL in all things was agreeable with the will of God, Eph. 4:24. There was no corruption in his will, no inclination to evil; for that is sin, properly and truly so called—hence the apostle says, Rom 7:7, "I had not known sin—but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet." An inclination to evil is really a fountain of sin, and therefore inconsistent with that rectitude and uprightness which the text expressly says he was endued with at his creation. The will of man, then, was directed and naturally inclined to God and goodness, though mutable. It was disposed, by its original make, to follow the Creator's will, as the shadow does the body; and was not left in an equal balance to good and evil—for at that rate he had not been upright, nor habitually conformed to the law; which in no moment can allow the creature not to be inclined towards God as his chief end, any more than it can allow man to be a God to himself. The law was impressed upon Adam's soul—now this, according to the new covenant, by which the image of God is repaired, consists in two things:
(1.) Putting the law in the mind, denoting the knowledge of it.
(2.) Writing it in the heart, denoting inclinations in the will, answerable to the commands of the law, Heb. 8:10. So that as the will, when we consider it as renewed by grace, is by that grace naturally inclined to the same holiness, in all its parts, which the law requires; so was the will of man, when we consider him as God made him at first, endued with natural inclinations to everything commanded by the law. For if the regenerate are partakers of the divine nature, as undoubtedly they are, for so says the Scripture, 2 Pet. 1:4; and if this divine nature can import no less than the inclination of the heart to holiness, then surely Adam's will could not lack this inclination; for in him the image of God was perfect. It is true it is said, Romans 2:14, 15, "That the Gentiles show the work of the law written in their hearts;" but this denotes only their knowledge of that law, such as it is—but the apostle to the Hebrews, in the text cited, takes the word heart in another sense, distinguishing it plainly from the mind. And it must be granted, that, when God promises, in the new covenant, "to write his law in the hearts of his people," it imports quite another thing than what heathens have—for though they have notions of it in their minds—yet their hearts go another way; their will has a bent and bias quite contrary to that law; therefore, the expression suitable to the present purpose must needs import, besides these notions of the mind, inclinations of the will going along therewith; which inclinations, though mixed with corruption in the regenerate, were pure and unmixed in upright Adam. In a word, as Adam knew his Master's pleasure in the matter of duty, so his will inclined to what he knew.
3. His AFFECTIONS were orderly, pure, and holy; which is a necessary part of that uprightness wherein man was created. The apostle has a petition, 2 Thess. 3:5, "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God;" that is, "The Lord straighten your hearts," or make them lie straight to the love of God—and our text tells us that man was made straight. "The new man is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. 4:24. Now this holiness, as it is distinguished from righteousness, may import the purity and good order of the affections. Thus the apostle, 1 Tim. 2:8, will have men to "pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting:" because, as troubled water is unfit to receive the image of the sun, so the heart filled with impure and disorderly affections is not fit for divine communications. Man's sensitive appetite was, indeed, naturally carried out towards objects grateful to the senses. For seeing man was made up of body and soul, and God made man to glorify and enjoy him, and for this end to use his good creatures in subordination to himself; it is plain that man was naturally inclined both to spiritual and sensible good; yet to spiritual good, the chief good as his ultimate end. Therefore, his sensitive motions and inclinations were subordinate to his reason and will, which lay straight with the will of God, and were not in the least contrary to the same. Otherwise he would have been made up of contradictions; his soul being naturally inclined to God, as the chief end, in the superior part thereof; and the same soul inclined to the creature, as the chief end, in the inferior part thereof, as they call it—which is impossible, for man, at the same instant, cannot have two chief ends.
Man's affections, then, in his primitive state, were pure from all defilement, free from all disorder and distemper, because in all their motions they were duly subjected to his clear reason, and his holy will. He had also an executive power answerable to his will; a power to do the good which he knew should be done, and which he was inclined to do, even to fulfill the whole law of God. If it had not been so, God would have required of him perfect obedience; for to say that "the Lord gathers where he has not sown," is but the blasphemy of a wicked heart against so good and bountiful a God, Matt. 25:24-26.
From what has been said, it may be gathered, that the original righteousness explained was universal and natural—yet mutable.
1. It was UNIVERSAL, both with respect to the subject of it—the whole man; and the object of it—the whole law. Universal, I say, with respect to the subject of it; for this righteousness was diffused through the whole man—it was a blessed leaven, which leavened the whole lump. There was not a wrong pin in the tabernacle of human nature, when God set it up, however shattered it is now. Man was then holy in soul, body, and spirit; while the soul remained untainted, its lodging was kept clean and undefiled; the members of the body were consecrated vessels, and instruments of righteousness. A combat between flesh and spirit, reason and appetite, nay, the least inclination to sin, or lust of the flesh in the inferior part of the soul, was utterly inconsistent with this uprightness in which man was created; and has been invented to veil the corruption of man's nature, and to obscure the grace of God in Jesus Christ; it looks very much like the language of fallen Adam, laying his own sin at his Maker's door, Gen. 3:12, "The woman whom you gave me—she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
But as this righteousness was universal in respect of the subject, because it spread through the whole man; so also it was universal in respect of the object, the holy law. There was nothing in the law but what was agreeable to his reason and will, as God made him, though sin has now set him at odds with it; his soul was shaped out in length and breadth to the commandment, though exceeding broad; so that his original righteousness was not only perfect in its parts—but in degrees.
2. As it was universal, so it was NATURAL to him, and not supernatural in that state. Not that it was essential to man, as man, for then he could not have lost it, without the loss of his very being; but it was natural to him—he was created with it, and it was necessary to the perfection of man, as he came out of the hand of God, necessary to his being placed in a state of integrity. Yet,
3. It was MUTABLE; it was a righteousness that might be lost, as is manifested by the doleful event. His will was not absolutely indifferent to good and evil; God set it towards good only—yet he did not so fix and confirm its inclinations, that it could not alter. No, it was moveable to evil, and that only by man himself, God having given him a sufficient power to stand in this integrity, if he had pleased. Let no man quarrel with God's works in this; for if Adam had been unchangeably righteous, he must have been so either by nature or by free gift—by nature he could not be so, for that is proper to God, and incommunicable to any creature; if by free gift, then no wrong was done to him in withholding what he could not crave. Confirmation in a righteous state is a reward of grace, given upon continuing righteous through the state of trial, and would have been given to Adam if he had stood out the time appointed for probation by the Creator; and accordingly is given to the saints upon account of the merits of Christ, who "was obedient even unto death." And herein believers have the advantage of Adam, that they can never totally nor finally fall away from grace.
Thus was man made originally righteous, being created in "God's own image," Gen. 1:27, which consists in the positive qualities of "knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness," Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24. "All that God made was very good," according to their several natures, Gen. 1:31. And so was man morally good, being made after the image of him who is "good and upright," Psalm 25:8. Without this, he could not have answered the great end of his creation, which was, to know, love, and serve his God, according to his will; nay, he could not be created otherwise, for he must either be conformed to the law in his powers, principles, and inclinations, or not—if he was, then he was righteous; and, if not, he was a sinner, which is absurd and horrible to imagine.
II. I shall lay before you some of those things which accompanied or flowed from the righteousness of man's primitive state. Happiness is the result of holiness; and as this was a holy, so it was a happy state.
1. Man was then a very glorious creature. We have reason to suppose, that as Moses' face shone when he came down from the mount, so man had a very lightsome and pleasant countenance, and beautiful body, while as yet there was no darkness of sin in him at all. But seeing God himself is "glorious in holiness," Exod. 15:11, surely that spiritual loveliness which the Lord put upon man at his creation, made him a very glorious creature. O, how did light shine in his holy life, to the glory of the Creator! while every action was but the darting forth of a ray and beam of that glorious unmixed light which God had set up in his soul, while that lamp of love, lighted from heaven, continued burning in his heart, as in the holy place; and the law of the Lord, put in his inward parts by the finger of God, was kept by him there, as in the most holy place. There was no impurity to be seen without; no squint look in the eyes, after any unclean thing; the tongue spoke nothing but the language of heaven; and, in a word, "the King's son was all glorious within," and his "clothing of wrought gold."
2. He was the favorite of Heaven. He shone brightly in the image of God; who cannot but love his own image, wherever it appears. While he was alone in the world, he was not alone, for God was with him. His communion and fellowship were with his Creator, and that immediately; for as yet there was nothing to turn away the face of God from the work of his own hands, seeing sin had not as yet entered, which alone could make the breach.
By the favor of God he was advanced to be confederate with heaven in the first covenant, called the covenant of works. God reduced the law, which he gave in his creation, into the form of a covenant, whereof perfect obedience was the condition—life was the thing promised, and death the penalty. As for the condition, one great branch of the natural law was, that man should believe whatever God revealed, and should do whatever he commanded; accordingly, God making this covenant with man, extended his duty to the "not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil;" and the law thus extended, was the rule of man's covenant obedience. How easy were these terms to him who had the natural law written on his heart; and that inclining him to obey this positive law revealed to him, it seems, by an audible voice, Gen. 2:16, 17, the matter whereof was so very easy! And indeed, it was highly reasonable that the rule and matter of his covenant obedience should be thus extended, that which was added being a thing in itself indifferent, where his obedience was to turn upon the precise point of the will of God, the plainest evidence of true obedience; and it being in an external thing, wherein his obedience or disobedience would be most clear and conspicuous.
Now, upon this condition, God promised him life, the continuance of natural life, in the union of soul and body, and of spiritual life, in the favor of his Creator—he promised him also eternal life in heaven, to have been entered into when he should have passed the time of his trial upon earth, and the Lord should see fit to transport him into the upper paradise. This promise of life was included in the threatening of death, mentioned, Gen. 2:17. For while God says, "In the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die;" it is, in effect, "If you do not eat of it, you shall surely live." And this was sacramentally confirmed by another tree in the garden, called therefore, "The Tree of Life," which he was debarred from, when he had sinned; Gen. 3:22, 23, "Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever; therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden."
Yet it is not to be thought that man's life and death did hang only on this matter of the forbidden fruit—but on the whole law; for so says the apostle, Gal. 3:10, "It is written, Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." That of the forbidden fruit was a revealed part of Adam's religion, and so was necessary expressly to be laid before him; but as to the natural law, he naturally knew death to be the wages of disobedience, for the very heathens were not ignorant of this, "knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death," Romans 1:32. Moreover, the promise included in the threatening, secured Adam's life, according to the covenant, as long as he obeyed the natural law, with the addition of that positive command; so that he needed nothing to be expressed to him in the covenant but what concerned the eating of the forbidden fruit.
That eternal life in heaven was promised in this covenant, is plain from this, that the threatening was of eternal death in hell, to which, when man had made himself liable, Christ was promised, by his death to purchase eternal life. And Christ himself expounds the promise of the covenant of works, of eternal life, while he proposes the condition of that covenant to a proud young man, who, though he had not Adam's stock—yet would needs enter into life in the way of working, as Adam was to have done under this covenant, Matt. 19:17, "If you will enter into life" (namely, eternal life, by doing, ver. 16), "keep the commandments."
The penalty was death, Gen. 2:17, "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die." The death threatened was such as the life promised was, and that most justly; namely, temporal, spiritual, and eternal death. The event is a commentary on this; for that very day he did eat thereof he was a dead man in law—but the execution was stopped because of his posterity, then in his loins, and another covenant was prepared—however, that day his body got its death-wound, and became mortal. Death also seized his soul; he lost his original righteousness, and the favor of God; witness the pangs of conscience which made him hide himself from God. And he became liable to eternal death, which would have actually followed of course, if the Mediator had not been provided, who found him bound with the cords of death, as a malefactor ready to be led to execution. Thus you have a short description of the covenant into which the Lord brought man in the state of innocence.
And does it seem a small thing unto you, that earth was thus confederate with heaven? This could have been done to none but him whom the King of Heaven delighted to honor. It was an act of grace, worthy of the gracious God whose favorite he was; for there was grace and free favor in the first covenant, though the exceeding riches of grace, as the apostle calls it, Eph. 2:7, were reserved for the second. It was certainly an act of grace, favor, and admirable condescension in God, to enter into a covenant, and such a covenant, with his own creature. Man was not at his own—but at God's disposal, nor had he anything to work with but what he had received from God. There was no proportion between the work and the promised reward. Before that covenant, man was bound to perfect obedience, in virtue of his natural dependence on God; and death was naturally the wages of sin, which the justice of God could and would have required, though there had never been any covenant between God and man—but God was free; man could never have required eternal life as the reward of his work, if there had not been such a covenant. God was free to have disposed of his creatures as he saw fit—if he had stood in his integrity to the end of time, and there had been no covenant promising eternal life to him upon his obedience, God might have withdrawn his supporting hand at last and so have made him creep back into nothing, whence almighty power had drawn him forth. And, what wrong could have been in this, for God would have only taken back what he freely gave? But now, the covenant being made, God becomes debtor to his own faithfulness—if man will work, he may crave the reward on the ground of the covenant. Well might the angels, then, upon his being raised to this dignity, have given him this salutation—"Hail! you who is highly favored, the Lord is with you."
3. God made him lord of the world, prince of the inferior creatures, universal Lord and emperor of the whole earth. His creator gave him dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, over all the earth, yes, and every living thing that moves on the earth; he "put all things under his feet," Psalm 8:6-8. He gave him a power, soberly to use and dispose of the creatures in the earth, sea, and air. Thus man was God's deputy governor in the lower world, and this his dominion was an image of God's sovereignty. This was common to the man and to the woman—but the man had one thing peculiar to him, namely, that he had dominion over the woman also, 1 Cor. 11:7. Behold how the creatures came unto him, to own their subjection, and to do him homage as their Lord, and quietly stood before him until he put names on them as his own, Gen. 2:19. Man's face struck an awe upon them; the stoutest creatures stood astonished, tamely and quietly owning him as their Lord and ruler. Thus was man "crowned with glory and honor," Psalm 8:5. The Lord dealt most liberally and bountifully with him, "put all things under his feet;" only he kept one thing, one tree in the garden, out of his hands, even the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
But you may say, and did he grudge him this? I answer, Nay; but when he had made him thus holy and happy, he graciously gave him this restriction, which was in its own nature a prop and stay to keep him from falling. And this I say upon these three grounds:
(1.) As it was most proper for the honor of God, who had made man Lord of the lower world, to assert his sovereign dominion over all, by some particular visible sign; so it was most proper for man's safety. Man being set down in a beautiful paradise, it was an act of infinite wisdom, and of grace too, to keep him from one single tree, as a visible testimony that he must hold all of his Creator, as his great landlord; that so, while he saw himself Lord of the creatures, he might not forget that he was still God's subject.
(2.) This was a memorial of his mutable state given to him from heaven, to be laid up by him for his greater caution. For man was created with a free will to good, which the tree of life was an evidence of—but his will was also free to evil, and the forbidden tree was to him a memorial thereof. It was, in a manner, a continual watchword to him against evil, a beacon set up before him, to bid him beware of dashing himself to pieces on the rock of sin.
(3.) God made man upright, directed towards God as his chief end. He set him, like Moses, on the top of the hill, holding up his hands to heaven—and as Aaron and Hur held up Moses' hands, Exodus 17:10-12, so God gave man an erect figure of body, and forbade him the eating of this tree to keep him in that posture of uprightness wherein he was created. God made the beasts looking down towards the earth, to show that their satisfaction might be brought from thence; and accordingly it does afford them what is suited to their appetite—but the erect figure of man's body, which looks upward, showed him that his happiness lay above him, in God; and that he was to expect it from heaven, and not from earth. Now this fair tree, of which he was forbidden to eat, taught him the same lesson; that his happiness lay not in enjoyment of the creatures, for there was a lack even in paradise—so that the forbidden tree was, in effect, the hand of all the creatures, pointing man away from themselves to God for happiness. It was a sign of emptiness hung before the door of the creation, with the inscription, "This is not your rest."
4. As he had a perfect tranquility within his own bosom, so he had a perfect calm without. His heart had nothing to reproach him with; conscience then had nothing to do—but to direct, approve, and feast him—and without, there was nothing to annoy him. The happy pair lived in perfect amity; and though their knowledge was vast, true, and clear—they knew no shame. Though they were naked, there were no blushes in their faces; for sin, the seed of shame, was not yet sown, Gen. 2:25. And their beautiful bodies were not capable of injuries from the air—so they had no need of clothes, which are originally the badges of our shame. They were liable to no diseases nor pains—and, though they were not to live idle—yet toil, weariness, and sweat of the brows, were not known in this state.
5. Man had a life of pure delight, and unalloyed pleasure, in this state. Rivers of pure pleasure ran through it. The earth, with the product thereof, was now in its glory; nothing had yet come in to mar the beauty of the creatures. God placed him, not in a common place of the earth—but in Eden, a place eminent for pleasantness, as the name of it imports; nay, not only in Eden—but in the garden of Eden—the most pleasant spot of that pleasant place; a garden planted by God himself, to be the mansion-house of this his favorite. When God made the other living creatures, he said, Let the water bring forth the moving creature," Gen. 1:29, and, Let the earth bring forth the living creature," verse 24. But when man was to be made, he said; "Let us make man," verse 18. So, when the rest of the earth was to be furnished with herbs and trees, God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, and the fruit-tree," etc., verse 11. But of paradise it is said, "God planted it," Gen. 2:8, which cannot but denote a singular excellence in that garden, beyond all other parts of the then beautiful earth.
He was provided with everything necessary and delightful; for there was "every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food," verse 9. He knew not those delights which luxury has invented for the gratification of lust—but his delights were such as came out of the hand of God; without passing through sinful hands, which always leave marks of impurity on what they touch. So his delights were pure—his pleasures refined.
Yet may I show you a more excellent way—wisdom had entered into his heart; surely, then, knowledge was pleasant unto his soul. What delight do some find in their discoveries of the works of nature, by those scraps of knowledge they have gathered! but how much more exquisite pleasure had Adam, while his piercing eyes read the book of God's works, which God laid before him, to the end he might glorify him in the same; and therefore had certainly fitted him for the work! But, above all, his knowledge of God, and that as his God, and the communion which he had with him, could not but afford him the most refined and exquisite pleasure in the innermost recesses of his heart. Great is that delight which the saints find in those views of the glory of God, which their souls are sometimes let into, while they are compassed about with many infirmities—and much may well be allowed to sinless Adam; who no doubt had a peculiar relish of those pleasures.
6. He was immortal. He would never have died—if he had not sinned; it was in case of sin that death was threatened, Gen. 2:17, which shows it to be the consequence of sin, and not of the sinless human nature. The perfect constitution of his body, which came out of God's hand very good, and the righteousness and holiness of his soul, removed all inward causes of death; nothing being prepared for the grave's devouring mouth—but the vile body, Phil. 3:21, and those who have sinned, Job 24:19. And God's special care of his innocent creature, secured him against outward violence. The apostle's testimony is express, Romans 5:12, "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Behold the door by which death came in! Satan wrought with his lies until he got it opened, and so death entered; therefore, is he said to have been "a murderer from the beginning," John 8:44.
Thus have I shown you the holiness and happiness of men in this state. If any should say, What is all this to us, who never tasted of that holy and happy state? they must know, it nearly concerns us, as Adam was the root of all mankind, our common head and representative; who received from God our inheritance and stock, to keep it for himself and his children, and to convey it to them. The Lord put all mankind's stock, as it were, in one ship; and, as we ourselves would have done, he made our common father the pilot. He put a blessing in the root, to have been, if rightly managed diffused into all the branches. According to our text, making Adam upright, he made man upright; and all mankind had that uprightness in him—for, "if the root be holy, so are the branches." But more of this afterwards. Had Adam stood, none would have quarreled with the representation.
III. The Doctrine of the State of Innocence APPLIED.
Use 1. For INFORMATION. This shows us,
1. That not God—but man himself was the cause of his ruin. God made him upright; his Creator set him up—but he threw himself down. Was the Lord's directing and inclining him to good, the reason of his woeful choice? or did heaven deal so sparingly with him, that his pressing needs sent him to hell to seek supply? Nay, man was, and is, the cause of his own ruin.
2. God may most justly require of men perfect obedience to his law, and condemn them for their not obeying it perfectly, though now they have no ability to keep it. In so doing, he gathers but where he has sown. He gave man ability to keep the whole law; man has lost it by his own fault; but his sin could never take away that right which God has to exact perfect obedience of his creature, and to punish in case of disobedience.
3. Behold here the infinite obligation we lie under to Jesus Christ, the second Adam, who, with his own precious blood has bought our freedom, and freely makes offer of it again to us, Hos. 13:9, and that with the advantage of everlasting security, and that it can never be altogether lost any more, John 10:28, 29. Free grace will fix those, whom free will shook down into the gulf of misery.
Use 2. This conveys a REPROOF to three sorts of persons:
1. To those who hate religion in the power of it, wherever it appears; and can take pleasure in nothing but in the world and in their lusts. Surely such men are far from righteousness—they are haters of God, Romans 1:30, for they are haters of his image. Upright Adam in paradise would have been a great eyesore to all such persons; as he was to the serpent, whose seed they prove themselves to be, by their malignity.
2. It reproves those who put religion to shame, and those who are ashamed of religion, before a graceless world. There is a generation, who make so bold with the God who made them, and can in a moment crush them, that they ridicule piety, and make a mock of seriousness. "Against whom do you sport yourselves? against whom make you a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue?" Isaiah 57:4. Is it not against God himself, whose image, in some measure restored to some of his creatures, makes them fools in your eyes? But, "be not mockers, lest your bands be made strong," Isaiah 28:22. Holiness was the glory which God put on man when he made him; but now the sons of men turn that glory into shame, because they themselves glory in their shame. There are others that secretly approve of religion, and in religious company will profess it, who, at other times, to be neighbor-like, are ashamed to own it; so weak are they, that they are blown over with the wind of the wicked's mouth. A broad laughter, an impious jest, a scoffing jeer, out of a profane mouth, is to many an unanswerable argument against piety and seriousness; for, in the cause of religion, they are as silly doves without heart. O, that such would consider that weighty sentence, "Whoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels," Mark 8:38.
3. It reproves the proud self-conceited professor, who admires himself in a garment of rags which he has patched together. There are many who, when once they have gathered some scraps of knowledge of religion, and have attained to some reformation of life, swell big with conceit of themselves; a sad sign that the effects of the fall lie so heavy upon them that they have not as yet come to themselves, Luke 15:17. They have eyes behind, to see their attainments; but no eyes within, no eyes before, to see their wants, which would surely humble them—for true knowledge makes men to see, both what once they were, and what they are at present; and so is humbling, and will not allow them to be content with any measure of grace attained; but inclines them to press forward, "forgetting the things that are behind," Phil. 3:13. But those men are such a spectacle of commiseration, as one would be who had set his palace on fire, and was glorying in a cottage which he had built for himself out of the rubbish, though so very weak, that it could not stand against a storm.
Use 3. Of LAMENTATION. Here was a stately building; man carved like a fair palace—but now lying in ashes—let us stand and look on the ruins, and drop a tear. This is a lamentation, and shall be for lamentation. Could we avoid weeping, if we saw our country ruined, and turned by the enemy into a wilderness? if we saw our houses on fire, and our property perishing in the flames? But all this comes far short of the dismal sight; man fallen as a star from heaven! Ah, may we not now say, "O that we were as in months past!" when there was no stain in our nature, no cloud on our minds, no pollution in our hearts! Had we never been in better case, the matter had been less; but those who were brought up in scarlet—do now embrace dunghills! Where is our primitive glory now? Once no darkness in the mind, no rebellion in the will, no disorder in the affections. But ah! "How is the faithful city become an harlot! Righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Our silver is become dross, our wine mixed with water." That heart which was once the temple of God, is now turned into a den of thieves. Let our name be Ichabod, for the glory is departed!
Happy were you, O man! who was like unto you? No pain nor sickness could affect you, no death could approach you, no sigh was heard from you—until these bitter fruits were plucked from the forbidden tree! Heaven shone upon you, and earth smiled—you were the companion of angels, and the envy of devils. But how low is he now laid, who was created for dominion, and made lord of the world! "The crown is fallen from our head—woe unto us that we have sinned." The creatures that waited to do him service, are now, since the fall, set in battle-array against him, and the least of them, having commission, proves too hard for him. Waters overflow the old world; fire consumes Sodom; the stars in their courses fight against Sisera; frogs, flies, lice, etc., become executioners to Pharaoh and his Egyptians; worms eat up Herod—yes, man needs a league with the beasts; yes, with the very stones of the field, Job 5:23, having reason to fear, that everyone who finds him will slay him. Alas! how are we fallen! how are we plunged into a gulf of misery! The sun has gone down on us, death has come in at our windows; our enemies have put out our two eyes, and sport themselves with our miseries.
Let us, then, lie down in the dust, let shame and confusion cover us. Nevertheless, there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. Come then, O sinner, look to Jesus Christ, the second Adam—leave the first Adam and his covenant; come over to the Mediator and Surety of the new and better covenant; and let your hearts say, "Be you our ruler, and let this breach be under your hand." Let your "eye trickle down, and cease not, without any intermission, until the Lord looks down, and beholds from heaven," Lam. 3:49, 50.