In the Image of God
Of the Creation of Man
Rev. Thomas Boston
Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created him: male and female he created them.
Having discoursed of the creation of all things out of nothing, and exhibited some of the displays of the admirable wisdom, power, and goodness of God apparent therein, I come now to speak of the creation of man, the masterpiece of the lower creation. In the text we have an answer to that question, ‘How did God create man?’ God only spake the word and then the other creatures were produced: but being to create man, he called a council of the Trinity for that end: whereby the excellency of man above the other creatures, who is a compend of the world, is clearly demonstrated. Here we have the execution of that council, So God created man, &c. For, as says Seneca, a heathen moralist, man is not a work huddled over in a haste, and done without great forethought and consideration; for man is the greatest and most stupendous work of God, even of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. As the sacred historian had said before of the Creator, ‘Let, us make man in our image,’ &c. so it is not for nought that he repeats the act of creating three times in this verse; in which also the us in the former verse is restrained to God; so that the plurality there spoken of is not God and angels, but the three persons, one God; for it was not angels, but God that created man. Man here signifies man and woman, male and female, Adam and Eve. Wherefore they are called him and them; for as they were originally one, God having made two of one by creation; so they two were made one again by marriage. And they were both made in one day, Genesis 1:26-3l.; and that in the image of God, which is twice repeated; the import whereof seems to be, that man was made very like God. Whereas there is but a shadow and vestige of him in the inferior creatures, as we may read the name and perfections of God in the least herb of the field; man was made so to represent God in his moral perfections as to imitate his virtues. Two things are here to be considered,
God’s making man male and female.
His making man after his image.
I. Let us consider God’s making man, male and female; that is, man and woman.First, Adam was the male, and Eve the female. These were the common parents of all mankind, and there was no man in the world, before Adam. He is expressly called ‘the first man,’ 1 Corinthians 15:45. and Eve ‘the mother of all living,’ Genesis 3:20. And hence ‘it is said ‘God hath made of one blood all nations of men,’ Acts 17:26.
Secondly, Man consists of a soul and body, which being united constitute man; that is, man or woman. Here I shall consider, 1. The body; and, 2. The soul.
1. The body of the man. Man’s body is a piece of most rare and curious workmanship, plainly indicating its divine Maker. In it there is a variety of members, none of them superfluous, but all adapted to the use assigned them by the wise Creator. The man’s body, as Moses tells us, was formed of the dust of the ground, Genesis 2:7. Hence he was called Adam, which signifies red earth; of which sort of virgin-earth man’s body seems to have been made. The word rendered dust, signifies not dust simply, (says Zanchius), but clay, which is earth and water. This may teach us humility, and repress our pride, and particularly glorying in beauty or any external advantages of person, seeing we are sprung of no higher original than the earth upon which we tread; especially seeing, as we derived our first being from it, we must return to it again, there to abide till the resurrection-day.
2. The woman’s body was formed of the man’s, Genesis 2:21, 22. of a rib of the man’s side, but not a bare rib, but flesh on it, ver.23. which was taken out of his side while he was in a deep sleep, into which God cast him; so that he felt no pain. And it is not improbable, that in that deep sleep God revealed to him what he himself afterwards declares concerning Eve, and marriage in general, ver. 23, 24. Whether Adam had more ribs than, other men, is not determined. If he had, it was not superfluous to him as the origin of mankind, though it might be as a private person; and therefore Eve being made of it, there was no more use for it. If he had not more ribs than other men, yet he sustained no loss thereby, which was otherwise made up, ver. 21. either by a new rib, or hardening the flesh to the use of a rib. In this the wisdom of God doth illustriously appear.
(1.) The woman’s body was made of nobler matter than the man’s, to be some ballast to the man’s excellency in respect of his sex, that be might not despise but honour her. The word rendered made, Genesis 2:22. is in the Hebrew built. He made the man, but he built the woman, as a stately palace, or house, where all mankind draw their first breath.
(2.) It was made of the man’s body, to teach men to love their wives as their own flesh.
(3.) It was not made out of man’s head, to shew her that she is not to be her husband’s mistress, nor usurp authority over him, 1 Timothy 2:12.; nor out of his feet, to shew him that she is not to be his slave, to be trampled on by him; but out of his side, near his heart, to shew him that she must be treated as his companion, loved, nourished, and cherished by him.
(4.) Lastly, The mystery of the church drawing her life out of Christ’s sleeping the sleep of death on the cross, Ephesians 5. seems to have been here intended and shadowed forth.
The bodies of both our first parents were far more beautiful, handsome, and graceful than our bodies are now. We are begot of men, but they were the immediate workmanship of God. The author being more excellent, the workmanship ‘must be so too. And so Adam signifies to be ruddy, and to shine, Lamentations 4:7. So that to Eve in particular may justly be applied the following lines of a celebrated poet:
A woman loveliest of the lovely kind,
In body perfect, and complete in mind.
Secondly, The soul of man was of an original far different from that of his body. Moses gives us this account of it, Genesis 2:7. ‘ The Lord God-breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.’ The Lord inspired him with a living reasonable soul, which presently appeared by his breathing at his nostrils; whereas before he was only a fair lifeless body. And this different account of man’s soul and body clearly holds forth, that it was not fetched out of any power in the matter of his body, but was created of nothing. For this inspiration plainly implies that something was infused into it, which was not in it before, and did not originally inhere in it. Thus was the soul both of the man and the woman created; for that both were created with rational souls, is taught in our text, where they are said to be made after God’s image; and Moses leaves us to gather the manner of the creation of the woman’s soul from that of Adam’s. Concerning the soul of man, three things are specially to be known.
1. That it is an incorporeal or spiritual substance, different from the body. It is called a spirit, Zechariah 12:1. And Stephen prays, Acts 7:59. ‘Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit.’ Compare Luke 24:39. where our Lord says concerning his body after his resurrection from the dead, ‘Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.’
2. As the souls of Adam and Eve were immediately created of God, so the souls of all their posterity are immediately formed by God, and proceed not from their parents by generation or any other way: but God infuseth the soul created by him of nothing, into the body formed in the womb when it is fitly organised to receive it. And yet a man may properly be said to beget a man, though be only begets the body, as well as to kill a man, though he can only kill the body. This is plain from that express scripture-testimony, Zechariah 12:1-‘ that formeth the spirit of man within him.’ So, Hebrews 12:9. God is held forth as ‘The Father of spirits,’ in opposition to men as ‘the fathers of our flesh;’ which must needs be by immediate creation: for otherwise he is the Father of our flesh too, Ecclesiastes 12:7 ‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.’ He gave the body too, but the soul in such a manner as he gave not the body.
3. Hence the soul is immortal, being a spirit, and dies not with the body, Ecclesiastes 12:7. just cited. Being immaterial, not consisting of parts, it cannot be dissolved. Men can kill the body, but not the soul; and therefore it doth not die with the body, being invulnerable, and unsusceptive of external injuries, Matthew 10:28. and 22:32. Neither does it sleep till the resurrection, as some have foolishly supposed. Our Lord told the thief on the cross, that that very day he (that is, his soul) should be with him in paradise, not to sleep, but to be actively employed in exercises peculiar to the heavenly state. And certain it is that the apostle Paul had no such thought, when he said, Philippians 1:23 ‘I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.’ If his soul was to sleep and doze in indolence and inactivity after his death, he had never preferred the dissolution of his body, and the advantage of being with Christ, to his continuing in his mortal state, in which he was most usefully employed.
Thirdly, Why did God make man male and female?1. That man might have a meet help, Genesis 2:18.; and this was the meetest help for the comfort of life, (however uncomfortable sin has now made it); otherwise God had given Adam a friend and nota wife. Hence the endearments of conjugal society, when discreetly and properly entered into and cultivated, are found, even in our present imperfect state, far preferable to those arising from the strictest and closest friendships among men.
2. For the lawful propagation of mankind, Genesis 1:27, 28. that there might be a godly seed, Malachi 2:15. and for a remedy against all inordinate lusts and libidinous desires.
II. Let us now consider God’s making man after his own image.
Here I shall shew,
Who was created after God’s image; and Wherein this image consisted.
First, I am to shew who was created after the image of God. It was both the man and the woman, as is clear from the text. In this respect, indeed, there was one thing wherein the man excelled the woman, which is taken notice of by the apostle, I Corinthians 11:7 ‘He is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man.’ Not but that the woman is the image of God in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, as well as the man: but the man is the image of God in respect of that authority which he has over his wife, who is the glory of man in respect of her subjection to him. So that what we say of the man as to his being created after the, divine image, must be understood of the woman too.
Secondly, I will shew wherein the image of God, in which our first parents were made, consisted. Abstracting from the spirituality of their souls, and the erect and graceful posture of their bodies, peculiar to rational animals alone, which are but a faint shadow of the image of God, (if they can with any propriety be called a shadow of it at all), this image doth principally at least shine in the soul, and those glorious qualities wherewith man was endued, that is, both the man and the woman.
1. The image of God, after which man was created, consisted in knowledge, Colossians 1:10. He was created wise: Not that he knew all things, for that is proper to the omniscient Being alone; but he was ignorant of nothing that he was obliged to know; he had all the knowledge that was necessary for life and godliness. He had clear and distinct apprehensions of God, his nature and perfections, far superior to any knowledge of that kind that can now be acquired by the ‘most diligent and the most laboured researches of human industry. And we can hardly suppose that he was ignorant of the great mystery of the Trinity, considered abstractly; as it was most certainly the second person who appeared to and conversed with him. This knowledge or wisdom of man appeared in his knowledge of the miraculous formation of Eve, whose nature and duty, as well as his own towards her, he declares; which he could not know but by a prophetical spirit. The primitive pair had God’s law written on their hearts, Romans 2:15. even that same law which was afterwards written on tables of stone, and promulgated from mount Sinai. It was concreated with them; so that no sooner were they man and woman, than they were knowing and intelligent creatures, endued with all the knowledge necessary for their upright state. Adam’s giving names to the beasts, and those such as were expressive of their natures, Genesis 2:19. was a great evidence of his knowledge of nature. Thus his knowledge reached from the sun, that glorious fountain of light, to the meanest glowworm that shines in the hedge. And that God gave them dominion over the earth and all the inferior creatures, is an evidence that they were endued with the knowledge of managing civil affairs, which a wise man will manage with discretion.
2. The image of God consisted in righteousness, Ephesians 4:24., There was a perfect conformity in his will to the will of God. He was endued with a disposition to every good thing, Ecclesiastes 7:29. ‘God made man upright.’ His will was straight with God’s will, not bending to the right or left hand, without any irregular bias or inclination. And he had full power and ability to fulfil the whole law of God. As, in respect of knowledge, he perfectly knew the whole extent of his duty, so he was created with sufficient powers for the due performance thereof.
3. It consisted, in holiness, Ephesians 4:24. Man’s affections were pure and holy, without being tinctured with any vitious appetite. They were regular and orderly, free from all disorder and distemper. They were set on lawful objects, and that in a right manner, loving what God loved, and hating what be hated; loving and delighting in God with all his heart, strength, soul, and mind. Yet all this happy disposition was mutable, he was not confirmed therein, nor set beyond the reach of falling therefrom, as the event has mournfully shewed.
This is that image of God wherein man was created, consisting in original righteousness, where his reason was naturally subject to God, his will to his reason, and his affections to his will, and consequently all duly subordinated to God, and directed to him, without any propensity or inclination to evil. A signal of this was, that both our first parents were naked, and yet were not ashamed, nor susceptive of shame.
That man was created in this condition, wise, altogether righteous, and holy, is not only clear from the above-cited scriptures, but is also agreeable to reason; which suggests, that nothing impure or imperfect, nothing having any vitious tendency or inclination, could proceed out of the hands of an holy God, who cannot be the author of evil. Man was created after the image of God; and in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, the scripture shews us, the image of God consists. Moreover, God made all very good, Genesis 1:31. Man’s goodness consists in these excellent qualities; and without these he would not have been fit for the end of his creation. How was it possible for him to have exercised the dominion he was invested with over the creatures, or served his Creator in the manner that became him without such endowments? Hence I infer,
(1.) That man was not created in pure naturals, that is, with bare faculties, neither good nor evil. For ‘God made man upright,’ Ecclesiastes 7:29.
(2.) That there was not naturally in man a combat betwixt the flesh and the spirit, betwixt reason and appetite; no inclination to sin, no lustings of the flesh, or the inferior faculties of the soul. For this corrupt will or inclination is sin properly and truly, as the apostle shews, Romans 7:7. and the fountain of all sin. And to say, that these dispositions were in man at his original formation, makes God indeed the author of sin; seeing he made (as they falsely pretend) man of such matter as is necessarily accompanied with this corrupt will and depraved inclination. For says the apostle, ‘All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world,’ 1 John 2:16.
(3.) That original righteousness was natural to man, and not supernatural in the primitive state. Natural it was, in so far as it was congested with him, and was necessary to the perfection of man as he came out of the creating hands of God; and was not added to be as a bridle to his natural inclinations to evil, whereof he had none.
(4.) That Adam had the same spiritual strength in innocency wherewith now the regenerate do believe in Christ; having a power to do whatsoever God should command, and to believe whatever he should reveal.
4. The image of God consisted consequently at least in dominion over the inferior creatures, whereby he had a right to dispose of them according to his pleasure, Genesis 1:26, 27. which was a resemblance of the supreme dominion of God over the creatures, though not absolute and unlimited, but dependent on God. This was evidenced by the beasts being brought to Adam, in token of their subjection to him, and his imposing names on them expressive of their natures and properties.
The image of God seated in man’s spiritual and immortal soul, endued with understanding, will, and affections, shone forth also in his body, which had a wonderful beauty in it, and such an admirable contexture of parts, adapted to their several uses and ends, as shewed it was intended for an immortal duration. There was no blemish, defect, nor disease, to be found in him. He was not liable to any attack by gout or gravel, or any tormenting pain. All the humours of his body were in a just temperament and disposition, calculated to prevent any distemper which might tend to the dissolution of that excellent constitution. His senses were all quick and lively, able to perform with vigour and delight their several operations. He was immortal in this state; and not subject to the attacks of death. Though his body was composed of jarring elements, which had a natural tendency to dissolution, yet the soul was endued with such virtue as to embalm the body, and preserve it from the least degree of corruption. The tree of life was the sacramental pledge of man’s immortality. The erect figure of his body looking towards heaven, and the majesty that is in his countenance, shewed man to be the chief of the works of God in this lower world.
I shall shut up all with a few inferences. 1. Ah! how are we fallen from heaven! What a lamentable change haas sin brought on man! It has defaced the moral image of God, with which man’s soul was beautifully decorated in his primitive state, and rent in pieces that pleasant picture of himself which God set up in this lower world. This stately fabric lies now in ruins, and calls us to lament over its ruins with weeping eyes and grieved hearts. Now there is ignorance in the mind, instead of that knowledge of God and divine things, with which it was richly furnished in its primitive state. The understanding, that as a lamp or candle shone brightly, is now enveloped with darkness. The will, that was exactly conformable to the will of God, and naturally disposed to comply with every intimation thereof, is now filled with, irregularity, enmity, and rebellion against God and his law. The affections that were all regular, holy, and pure, are now disordered and distempered, placed upon and eagerly bent towards improper and sinful objects, loving and doating upon what men should hate, hating what they should love, joying in what they ought to mourn for, glorying in what is shameful, abhorring the chief good, and desiring what is ruinous to them. All the members of the body that were subordinated to the upright mind, and entirely at its command, are now in rebellion, and mislead and enslave the mind and superior faculties. And the creatures that were man’s humble servants, ready to execute his commands, are now risen up against him, and the least of them having a commission, would prove more than a match for him. Nay, it is with difficulty and much pains that any of them are brought to engage in his service. Ah! how dismal is man’s case! The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us that we have sinned. Let us weep and mourn over our ruined state, and never rest till we get it repaired by faith in the Lord Jesus, the great Repairer of this spiritual breach.
2. How lovely are knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, wherein the image of God consists! They shine with a dazzling brightness, and should charm and captivate our minds. But, alas! by nature we are blind, and see not their beauty and excellency. 0! let us endeavour, through grace, to put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Try if this blessed change has passed upon you, if ye be now light in the Lord, be disposed to do his will, and are holy in heart and life. Study righteousness and holiness if ye would be like God. And beware of ignorance, unrighteousness, and impurity, which proceed from Satan, and make you so unlike a righteous and holy God.
3. Come to the Lord Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, and the beginning of the creation of God, who at first made man after the divine image, and can make him so over again, and will do so to those that come to him by faith, with this addition, that the image of God which he will impress on the soul anew, shall never be lost any more. 0 come to him now, that ye may become God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
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