Boyce's Abstract of Systematic Theology—Chapter 20
CREATION OF MAN.
I. THE SCRIPTURE ACCOUNT.
THE Scripture account of the creation of man is given in four places in Genesis. The first, in Gen. 1:26-28, is of both male and female. The second is of Adam only, in Gen. 2:7. The third is of the creation of the woman, whom Adam at that time called Isha (woman), because she was taken out of man (Ish). Gen. 2:18-23. Subsequently, ch. 3:20, he called her Eve because she was “the mother of all living.” The fourth is found in Gen. 5:1, 2, and states that God called them Adam. There are allusions to the statements thus made in two other places in this book, namely, ch. 3:19, 23 and ch. 9:6, 7. The other Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, endorse the correctness of all the facts stated in Genesis by frequent allusions to one or another of them as undoubted truths. See Ps. 100:3; 103:14; Ecc. 7:29; 12:7 ; Isa. 64:8; Mal. 2:10, 15; Matt. 19:4, 5; Mark 10:6, 7; Acts 17:25-29; Rom. 9:20; 1 Cor. 11:7-9; 15:45-47; Col. 3:10. The Scripture doctrine thus revealed is that man was created by God, being formed, as to his body, from earthy material, and as to his soul, by direct creation; that he was made male and female, one Adam, in the image after the likeness of God. The Adam thus made, the Scriptures also teach, was the progenitor of all the present race of men. Indeed they appear to allude to him as the embodiment of that race. Adam is not given as a proper name, as are Cain, and Abel, and Noah, but is used to express the creature God proposed to male, (Gen. 1:26), as both male and female. Gen. 5:2. “In all the other instances in the second and third chapters of Genesis, which are nineteen, it is put with the article, the man or the Adam. It is also to be observed that though it occurs very frequently in the Old Testament, and though there is no grammatical difficulty in the way of its being declined by the dual and plural terminations and the pronominal suffixes (as its derivative dam blood is), yet it never undergoes those changes; it is used abundantly to denote man in the general and collective sense, mankind, the human race, but it is never found in the plural number. When the sacred writers design to express men distributively, they use either the compound term sons of men (benei adam), or the plural of enosh, or ish.” [Kitto’s Cyc., Art. Adam, par. 3.] The importance of this fact will hereafter be seen. It is confirmed by the title of “the second Adam” given to Christ.
II. THE UNITY OF THE RACE.
The expression above, “the present race of men,” was not intended to intimate a belief that there have been more races of men than one. This, however, has been contended for; but, while the possibility of other races before Adam or contemporaneous with him may he admitted, the unity of the present race and its common descent from Adam must be maintained.
The idea of a Praeadamite race “was first raised to notice by Isaac Peyrere, who in 1655 published his book styled ‘Praeadamitae.’ He pretended to find his Praeadamites in Rom. 5:l2-14. The heathen, according to him, are the Praeadamites, being, as he supposed, created on the same day with the beasts, and those whose creation is mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis. Adam, the father of the Jews, was not created until a century later, and is the one who is mentioned in the second chapter. Since the time of Peyrere, this hypothesis has been exhibited more connectedly; and has been asserted independently of the authority of Moses; or in other words it has been asserted that the human race is older than Moses represents it.” [Knapp’s Chris. Theol., p. 185.]
So far as this hypothesis is confined to the past existence of other races of men who had passed away when Adam was created, or who were at least destroyed before or at the flood, it may be admitted as a possibility. There is no direct statement of Scripture to the contrary. Any proof which would make it certain, or even probable, may be admitted. But while this is possibly, it is not probably true. Nothing in Scripture, not even with great violence, can be wrested to its support. The account of creation and the manner in which the Adam there created is spoken of is contrary to any idea that the creations in the first and second chapters of Genesis are of any but the one race. The scientific evidence as to the method of God’s creations concurs with the biblical in furnishing no proof that God has ever created the same animals at different periods, or from any other than one original source of each species. While these facts, therefore, are not conclusive against the possibility of more than one creation of human beings, they render it highly improbable.
But so far as this is intended to deny the unity of the present race, and to declare that any portion of it is not of Adamic origin, it is directly contrary to the Word of God.
1. Because the Scriptures trace the race of men now existing back to Noah, and through him to Adam.
2. Because they teach also that all others, except the eight saved in the Ark, were destroyed by the flood. If any other races of men existed before that time, which is not probable, they must then have been destroyed with the others of the Adamic race.
3. They not only speak of all mankind in general as though of this one race, but declare expressly that God “made of one every nation of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation.” Acts 17:26. The King James version has “Made of one blood.” This is especially emphatic because spoken to the Athenians, who claimed a special, separate origin from others.
4. The Scriptures account for the universal sinful condition of men, by not only a representative, but natural relation to Adam.
5. Salvation from sin is offered through Christ as the second Adam, whose fitness for his work was secured, not only by his representative relation, but also by his assumption of the same nature with man. Therefore his genealogy in Luke is traced back to Adam. It was also to “the whole creation,” Mark 16:15, that Christ commanded his gospel to be preached, and “of all the nations,” Matt. 28:19, that he ordered disciples to be made.
Science accords with Revelation in teaching the unity of the race.
1. It shows that among all men are the same essential characteristics which make a man. This is denied by none. There is the same outward form and inward structure, and also like mental and moral characteristics.
2. While variations in each of these respects unquestionably exist, they are all within the limits of a single species.
The science of Comparative Zoology shows:
(1.) That species are capable of great variations.
(2.) That the variations may become permanent.
(3.) That under favourable circumstances, with the lapse of time, this permanence becomes more and more fixed, and incapable of return to the original type.
(4.) That, however, there is after all a tendency to return, which develops itself under similar conditions with those of the original state.
(5.) That while offspring from parents of different species is possible, that offspring is itself either altogether unfruitful, or, as Dr. Cabell says, “the fertility is partial and temporary, rarely, if ever, extending through more than two generations.” [Unity of Mankind, p.77.]
(6.) That the variations in man are at least equalled by those in other species.
Dr. Bachman asserts that “every vertebrated animal, from the horse down to the canary bird and gold-fish, is subject, in a state of domestication, to very great and striking varieties, and that in the majority of species these varieties are much greater than are exhibited in any of the numerous varieties of the human race.” [Doctrine of the Unity of the Human Race, p. 181, quoted by Dr. Cabell in Unity of Mankind, p.34.] “Blumenbach,” says Cabell, p. 33, “long ago pointed out the great difference between the cranium of the domestic swine and that of the primitive wild boar, and remarked that this difference is quite equal to that which has been observed between the skull of the Negro and the European.”
(7.) That the various races of men, when they intermarry, produce offspring which is itself continuously fruitful.
(8.) That while the Negro type of man, the most distinct, and the one showing the greatest variety from the Caucasian or white race, may be traced far back in the monumental history of Egypt, then is no delineation of it in the earliest records for nearly fifteen hundred years. This is admitted by Nott and Gliddon in their Types of Mankind, p. 259, though these writers speak of the Negro “as contemporary with the earliest Egyptians.” [See Cabell, p. 91-92.]
3. The science of Comparative Philology also supports the doctrine of the unity of the human race. This science is as yet in its infancy, but has grown vigorously daring the short period of its existence. Already the languages of men have been reduced by some to four, by others to three, and yet by others to two different forms, and the tendency is to connect all language with some one common source. Whether this can be done or not is uncertain. The position is at least conceded that variety in language does not militate against the unity of mankind. It may be impossible to establish absolute unity of speech. The confusion at Babel renders this not improbable. But the investigations of this science show that the idea of several separate physical origins of the race is not true, because the grouping of men, as to physical race, does not correspond with the grouping rendered necessary by their different languages.
Prof. Whitney, who believes that the science of philology cannot now, or ever, decide either for or against this unity, says “it does not seem practicable to lay down any system of physical races which shall agree with any possible scheme of linguistic races. Indo-European, Semitic, Scythian and Caucasian tongues are spoken by men whom the naturalist would not separate from one another as of widely diverse stock; and on the other hand, Scythian dialects of close and indubitable relationship, are in the mouths of people who differ as widely in form and feature, as Hungarians and Lapps, while not less discordance of physical type is to be found among the speakers of various dialects belonging to more than one of the other great linguistic families.” [Language and the Study of Language, p. 370.] The fact of this intermingling of dialects and races shows a common origin beyond the time of physical and linguistic changes. Thus do the two sciences, which were once so antagonistic to the doctrine of the unity of mankind, combine with each other to establish its truth.
III. THE NATURE OF MAN.
The nature of man is composite. It is usually considered as a union of body and soul.
The body is material, and is the highest form in this world of material existence.
Matter is presented in creation in different forms. It is impossible to say whether it exists, or has ever existed, without special form and substance. Science only knows it as found in different materials, which are called primary, because we cannot reduce them to any more simple form common to more than one. Of these materials, all things that we know are composed. Matter is called inorganic in these simple forms, and yet there is a kind of organism even here. Some of this so-called inorganic matter attains to living organism in plants, which have what is called vegetable life. It exists in a still higher form in conscious, sentient being, known as animal life. The highest organism is in man as an animal. He partakes with other animals of bodily firm, appetites, desires and passions. His bony structure is analogous to theirs, which approaches it closely, and yet with marked distinctions which manifest his yet higher life, with nobler capabilities. So, also, is it with his muscular covering or flesh, and his nervous system especially culminating in a brain of superior size and weight. Through the latter, man has capacity for superior intellectual powers over other animals, for the exercise of which his bodily shape is peculiarly fitted. In their mere animal life, the instincts of the lower animals are much stronger than in man, and more reliable. In man instinct is feeble because its place is more than supplied by his higher intellectual nature. It is only when his moral nature is involved, that instincts appear which approach in strength and unerring guidance those of the brute creation.
The personality of man, by which is meant his individual conscious existence, is distinctly associated with his higher nature, the intellectual and the moral. The brute evidently lives in itself and is what it is solely because of its animal life. It cannot go beyond it. There is no outward development in it of itself and even the utmost training by man can carry it no farther than to the development of memory, and obedience through fear, which belong to this animal existence. Even in these only such faint resemblances to man’s higher faculties can be reached as man himself attains through self-training in the realm of animal instinct.
It is evident, therefore, that the higher nature of man, so far from being a part of his animal life, either accompanies it or takes its place, and dwells in the body, using it as a means of contact with the external world, in which man, as a spiritual being, is thus enabled to live, and exercise the faculties of his higher nature.
We have already learned the existence of spiritual beings, which, if they have, or can have, form and body at all, have only those of a spiritual nature. Man alone is possessed of both spirit and body. He is, therefore, the link which binds together the world of spirit and that of matter. His existence is not one only, but twofold. Nor is it made so by such a composition as confounds the two elements by mingling them into a third substance differing from each of these two. It is such as makes a union in one personality of both the natures, so that a man is as truly animal as though he were not spirit, and as truly spiritual as though he were not animal. Each nature retains in a mysterious union its own attributes, and properties, absolutely, so that one is merely animal, and the other purely spiritual, and the one personal conscious being is personal and conscious in each, in different or in the same moments, and is also conscious of being at the same time Man, or all that is involved in the united possession of both natures. The consequence of this also is a peculiar possession by Man of all the results of a communication of the properties of one nature to the other without any actual communication. Thus matter, which in itself is without self-motion, or feeling, and only becomes so in animal life, and in that life is without capacity for self-training and skilful manipulation through self-imposed habits, and which especially is not capable of sinful, or holy acts or habits, attains to each of these through the union with a spiritual person; and in a peculiar way, otherwise not possible, becomes receptive of punishment or reward for right or wrong doing. So also a personal spirit, which cannot through his spiritual nature be affected by matter, and cannot act upon it or use it, is through this union operative in it, and by means of the bodily powers is brought into contact with the world of material forces, and becomes a voluntary force in connection with the mechanical laws and forces of the universe. Thus is it, that through this union, man, probably alone, with the exception of God, introduces and accomplishes direct results of conscious purpose in the material universe. Good or evil angels, if they would there operate, must do it through the influences they can exert upon man.
The union of both body and soul is necessary to constitute man. Of necessity, his conscious individuality is inseparably associated with his spiritual nature, for in him there is no separate animal life in the body from that of the spirit which is united with it. Without that spirit, therefore, the body is but a form of clay. But the spirit alone is but a spirit. It has not all of human nature. It is not a man. To make man, the body is necessary, not necessarily the same body always, neither of the same size, nor with all its parts perfect, nor of the same ever continuing materials, nor without change, but such a body as belongs to human nature, and is fitted for the contact of the conscious personal spirit with the world of matter. If, at any time, therefore, the spirit and body shall be separated, the spirit will not properly be called man until a subsequent reunion. Until then it would be known and spoken of as the spirit of the man, or the soul of the man, but not as the man himself. Accordingly the Scriptures speak thus of all men during the period intervening between death and the resurrection of the judgement day. See Rev. 6:9; 20:4; Heb. 12:23, and, according to the interpretation which supposes Christ preached to departed spirits, 1 Pet. 3:19. It is thus also that the resurrection of the body, and its reunion with the soul become necessary to carry out the purposes of God, both as to the rewards and the punishments of the eternal future.
A question here naturally arises as to the nature of the contact between the personal spirit and the body. This we have no means of answering. It is a mystery which, as a fact, is both known and revealed, but of the manner of which we have no revelation, and no knowledge. All must be conjecture. Dr. J. Pye Smith gives in his “First Lines,” p. 342, three theories: “(1.) That it is through physical influence materially of mental volitions, and cerebral and nervous action producing muscular motion; (2.) that it is due to occasional cause by which God’s omnipotent and universal agency produces all the motions of the body to correspond with the volitions of the mind; and (3.) that it results from pre-established harmony by which it is arranged that they take place at the same time and space, without any influence upon each other.” But these are all objectionable. The last makes the body and soul entirely without connection with each other. The second makes God, and not man, operate the body, and that too without the soul’s agency in any respect, for that operation of God over the body only accompanies the action of the soul with which it has no connection except that of co-existence. The first is no explanation, for it accepts the physical connection, but does not state how it arises.
Both body and soul are by nature pure in their original condition, sin being found essentially neither in the one, nor in the other. There is nothing in matter that is corrupting, and nothing in the lower nature which of itself begets sin in an innocent soul. On the contrary, while temptation may present itself through the body, the actual sin is committed by the soul either separately or in union with the body. The sinlessness of the soul in its primeval state has been universally admitted.
Each of these constituents of man is a unit. The body is one, though composed of several members, and is affected through one sense only, namely, contact, though that one sense because of its different forms, is usually and conveniently divided into five. The soul also is one, and itself brings the man into contact with the world of mind and spirit. Its powers, likewise, though many, are not separate and independent faculties, but it is the soul that thinks, that feels, that purposes and that loves. For convenience these powers are in Intellectual Philosophy divided into and discussed under the three heads of the Understanding, the Will and the Affections. These are exercised about all mental and moral truths. Even the knowledge of what is right and wrong is not attained by a different power from that by which we learn what is wise and great. What is called conscience, or the moral faculty, is concerned only with impressing upon us our duty to do the right, and not to do the wrong. But even this is simply the soul recognizing the nature of obligation to God.
Some have supposed that man has more than the twofold elements of body and soul. “Pythagoras, and after him, Plato, and subsequently the mass of Greek and Roman philosophers, maintained that man consists of three constituent elements, the rational spirit (nous or pneuma, mens), the animal soul (psuche, anima), and the body (soma, corpus). Hence this usage of words became stamped upon the Greek popular speech. And consequently the apostle uses all three when intending to express exhaustively in popular language the totality of man and his belongings. “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame.” 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12; 1 Cor. 15:44. Hence some theologians conclude that it is a doctrine given by divine inspiration that human nature is constituted of three distinct elements.
The use made of these terms by the apostles proves nothing more than that they used words in their current popular sense to express divine ideas. The word pneuma designates the one soul emphasizing its quality as rational. The word psuche designates the same soul emphasizing its quality as the vital and animating principle of the body. The two are used together to express popularly the entire man.
“That the pneuma and psuche distinct entities cannot be the doctrine of the New Testament, because they are habitually used interchangeably and often indifferently. Thus psuche, as well as pneuma, is used to designate the soul as the seat of the higher intellectual faculties. Matt. 16:26; 1 Pet. 1:22; Matt. 10:28. Thus also pneuma, as well as psuche, is used to designate the soul as the animating principle of the body. James 2:26. Deceased persons are indifferently called psuche, Acts 2:27, 31; Rev. 6:9; 20:4; and pneuma, Luke 24:37, 39; Heb. 12:23.” [Hodge’s Outlines, pp. 299, 300.]
Other passages, not mentioned above, upon which light is supposed to be thrown by this distinction, are 1 Cor. 2:14, 15; James 3:15; and Jude 19.
Others, which show a promiscuous use of these words, and thus that the distinction is incorrect, are Matt. 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30; Acts 7:59.
This apparent teaching of the New Testament is also that of the Old. The account of man’s coming into a living condition is given in Gen. 2:7; “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.” The word nephesh here translated “living soul” means ordinarily mere animal life. It is the same word that occurs in Gen. 1:20, translated “creature that hath life,” in 1:24 “living creature,” in 1:30 “life,” in 2:19 ” living creature,” in 9:12, 15, 16 “living creature.” Gen. 2:7, therefore teaches that man attained his animal life by the inbreathing of God. But Deut. 4:29 uses this same word for the rational spiritual part of man. So also does Deut. 30:10. See also Job 16:4 and 1 Sam. 1:15. Gesenius Lexicon, Sec. 3, says: “To it are ascribed love, Isa. 42:1; Cant. 1:7; 3:1-4; Gen. 34:3; joy, Ps. 86:4; fear, Isa. 15:5; Ps. 6:4; piety towards God, Ps. 86:4; 104:1; 143:8, and confidence, Ps. 57:1. * * * The soul is said to weep, Ps. 119:28; to be poured out in tears, Job 30:16; to cry for vengeance, Job 24:12; and also to invoke blessings, Gen. 27:4, 25. More rarely things are attributed to the soul, mind, nephesh which belong, (a) to the mode of feeling and acting, as pride, Prov. 28:25; patience and impatience, Job 6:11; (b) to the will or purpose, Gen. 23:8; 2 Kings 9:15; 1 Chron. 28:9; (c) to the understanding or faculty of thinking, Ps. 139:14; Prov. 19:2; 1 Sam. 20:4; Deut. 4:9; Lam. 3:20.” Also, Sec. 5, he says: “with suffixes it is put very frequently for: I myself, thou thyself, &c.” In Sec. 2, par. 3, he had already said as to the relation between this word and ruwach, that “they are sometimes opposed, so that nephesh is ascribed to brutes, and ruwach to men, Job 12:10; but ruwach is also ascribed to beasts in Ecc. 3:21.” This word ruwach is that which is especially used of the spirit of God; but it is also “spoken both of man and beasts. Ecc. 3:19, 21; 8:8; 12:7; Job 12:10 * * * *.” Once the human spirit is called the ruwach of God, Job 27:3, as being breathed into man from God, and again returning to God. Gen. 2:7; Ecc. 12:7; Ps. 104:29. [Gesen. Lex. under ruwach See. 2.]
It is manifest from these facts that the two words are both used in the Old Testament to express both animal life and the higher spiritual nature, and, therefore, that no radical distinction exists between them. The same word which expresses the animal life of beasts is applied to man as a rational and moral being, as well as to his animal life. And the same which usually expresses the higher spiritual nature is also used even of brutes. It is also plain that the same act by which the spiritual nature was conferred upon man brought his animal life into being. In man, therefore, it would seem that the spirit becomes the actual living animating principle, and needs not to have superadded to it the mere animal life, but embraces it within the life which is that of the spirit. The doctrine of the Old Testament on this subject therefore corresponds with that of the New. The constituent parts of man are simply body and soul. When the animal life is the predominant idea, nephesh and psuche are most apt to be used, because the spiritual man is regarded especially in that aspect. When the idea of the higher nature is the main feature, ruwach and pneuma are used, because reference to that peculiarity of it is most prominent. But the use of all of the words for either aspect shows that it is, after all, the one principle in man simply differently contemplated.
The powers of both soul and body are unlimited within their respective spheres; the word unlimited being taken not in the sense of infinite, but in the greatly more restricted one of indefinite. What man can physically accomplish, either as an individual over his own person or over others, or by combination with others over the world of matter, is so great that no one can ever say the limit has been reached. This is even more true of the soul in its intellectual and moral nature, in the exercise of thought and reason, and in the perception of moral truths and the attainment of holy perfection.
The soul of man, as a true spirit, possesses all the qualifications which belong to spirit. It has individual personality, consciousness, intellectual powers, free agency, capacity of moral action, is subject to law, is capable of voluntary sin, arid is accountable to God for its actions, and for any self-caused spiritual condition of sin. It has natural ordained immortality, by which is meant not that God could not have deprived it of life had he chosen so to have ordained,–for no created nature can have of itself any power, much less any right of continued immortality; but that God has conferred immortality upon the nature of spirits, and that they are thus immortal through his ordination.
IV. THE ORIGIN OF SOULS.
As the soul of the first man was a direct creation of God, the inquiry naturally arises, are the souls of all his descendants thus created, or whence come they? This question becomes a difficult one because of the immateriality and unity and simplicity of the soul on the one hand, and on the other, because of the participation of the spirits of all men in sin.
I. To avoid these difficulties some have believed in the pre-existence of the souls of men, which, either voluntarily or as the punishment of previous sin, enter the bodies of men. In this manner their existence in a sinful condition may be accounted for without propagation of souls on the one hand, or the creation of the souls of sinful men on the other.
This theory of pre-existence has been held in three forms. The first supposes that all the souls of men were created at the same time with that of Adam, each for his respective body, with which it either voluntarily or necessarily unites itself at some fixed period in its earliest existence. Relations to Adam somewhat similar to those of the body, or rather relations which involve the whole man, both soul and body, may cause a sinful condition under which each man, both as to soul and body, is born sinful. The second form maintains that these souls or spirits are unfallen angels which, of their own accord, assume this union with the body, that through it they may attain to the higher relationships to God and the state of greater glory which belong to his redeemed. The third affirms that they are angels who had fallen in another sphere, unto whom God affords this additional probation, or upon whom he has imposed this position as a punishment of their sin.
The first of these forms, to be any explanation at all of the difficulties, must recognize an actual existence of the souls of all men at the same time with that of Adam. To say that the mere idea of these beings was present with the divine mind–in the sense in which Plato and his followers believed the whole creation to exist in the divine mind as a model in accordance with which all things have been made,–or in the sense in which all things were present with God in the purpose which, according to the Scriptures, he eternally formed of their future existence, through which he knows them, and they are eternally co-existent with him,–is to suppose an actual creation afterwards, and to leave unremoved every objection which may be pressed against the direct creation of each soul at the time of its entrance into the body, and to render useless any theory of pre-existence at all.
But if these souls actually existed, they must at their creation have had conscious life with intelligence and moral character.
The chief objections to the theory in this aspect are:
(1.) That no man has ever had consciousness of a pre-existent state, or memory of things which occurred therein. This fact ought to be conclusive against this theory, for that consciousness in the soul is not affected by its union with or separation from the body, is plain from our consciousness in our present existence, and from what the Scriptures teach of the condition of man between the hour of death and the resurrection.
(2.) The Scriptures give no hint of any creation or existence of the spirit of any man prior to its connection with the body.
(3.) No facts in the human life or in the constitution of man support the theory, nor does reason in any way suggest or sustain it. It has originated entirely in an attempt to escape difficulties.
(4.) It undertakes no explanation of the condition or position of these spirits, regarded either as innocent or guilty, while awaiting the period of their union with the body.
Against the second and third forms the same objection of lack of consciousness and memory exists. Against the second may be especially urged the impossibility for any purpose of a holy being voluntarily choosing a sinful condition, which the theory supposes permitted by God by granting to these spirits their sinful desire, for such choice would itself be sin. Against both the second and the third it may be said that the Scriptures nowhere ascribe the origin of sin in any of the human race to any other source than that of Adam, and that Heb. 2:16 expressly excludes angels from the benefits of Christ’s redemption. The King James translation is, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” But the more correct translations of the Canterbury Revisers and of their American Committee are still stronger. The former is, “For verily not of angels doth he take hold, but he taketh hold of the sted of Abraham.” The latter is, “For verily not to angels doth he give help, but he giveth help to the seed of Abraham.”
2. Another theory as to the origin of souls which has very extensively prevailed, is that the souls of men, as well as their bodies, are derived from their parents. According to this, it is man as the whole man that begets and is begotten; and as body produces body, so it is thought that soul produces soul. It is commonly known as Traducianism from the Latin traducere, to lead or bring over, as the layer of a vine, for the purpose of propagation. This theory is based upon several grounds.
(1.) Its advocates claim that it is not wholly unsupported by the Scriptures. While Gen. 5:1, declares that God created man “in the likeness of God,” in v. 3, it is said that “Adam begot a son in his own likeness after his image, and called him Seth.” But this passage “only asserts that Seth was like his father. It sheds no light on the mysterious process of generation, and does not teach how the likeness of the child to the parent is secured by physical causes.” [Hodge, Sys. Theol., vol. 2, p. 68.] The fact that God breathed into Adam the breath of life but did not into Eve, is also adduced as proof of the derivation of her soul from his, as well as of her body. But this is an argument from ignorance. We know not how Eve was animated into life, but surely in her case there was no begetting of any kind, and therefore from it, even allowing that her soul came from Adam, no light could be thrown upon that of others subsequent to it. The language of Christ to Nicodemus, (John 3:6), “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,” can have no application, because the spiritual birth, or soul-begetting, here spoken of is that of the new nature in man produced by the Holy Spirit of God. It would seem, therefore, that this theory has not any real support from any direct teaching of Scripture.
(2.) But, while this fact is admitted by many of its advocates, it is claimed that this theory accounts better than any other for the transmission of a sinful nature, and is thus especially supported by the Scripture doctrine of Original Sin. The Bible as well as experience teaches that men are born with a corrupt nature, and that the corruption is no less in the soul than in the body. This theory denies that God can directly create a sinful soul, and challenges a just explanation of the sinful state of man, even in infancy, unless it is due, as is the sinful body, to its connection with that of the parent. It is unquestionably difficult, though not impossible, to give such an explanation as shall be satisfactory, and hence this is a strong argument in favour of this theory. But, on the other hand, it is improper and dangerous to say that the doctrine of original sin is not true, if there he no propagation of souls. That doctrine is plainly revealed, and is derived from unquestionable facts. Its correctness does not depend upon any theory which may be presented for its explanation. All that is justifiable is to show that this theory, if in no other respect objectionable, will account for it. But the universal sinfulness of man may have otherwise arisen, and whether or not we know the manner in which it has come to pass, we are not at liberty to say that its truth depends upon the correctness of any theory which Scripture has not distinctly connected with it.
(3.) It is also argued in favour of Traducianism that the account of Creation in Genesis represents God as resting after the creation of man, both male and female. It is said, that this rest is evidently one from direct creation, because God is constantly creating mediately through the powers of reproduction conferred on plants and animals; that, therefore, if the souls of men are produced from the parent along with the body, there is only in each case an instance of this mediate creation; but, that, if directly created by God, there appears to be no sense in which he has ceased from creation, or can be said to have rested “from all His work which He had made.” But nothing can be argued conclusively from these statements. We know not exactly what is meant by this Sabbath day rest of God. But that it was not a perpetual rest in all direct and immediate acts, as well as mediate is seen in various well known instances of God’s direct action; as in the conception of Christ by the Holy Ghost; in the working of miracles; and in the work of the Holy Spirit in the regeneration of the souls of men.
(4.) Traducianism receives strong support from the transmission of the mental and moral characteristics of men from parent to child. These become equally fixed and permanent with those of the body. They may be traced throughout the various branches of any one race. They are found as national peculiarities which distinguish one people from another. They appear in families, though not so plainly manifested because of the many intermarriages with other families, and of the tendency to reproduce the spiritual as well as the bodily traits of remote ancestors. They are often very strongly marked between parent and child, and the transmission is so plain, that the general law has been laid down that generally, though not universally, the sons follow the mental and moral features of the mother, and the daughters those of the father. This argument would be very decisive could we entirely separate the spiritual man from the influence of the corporeal. “But,” says Dr. Hodge, “this argument is not conclusive, because it is impossible for us to determine to what proximate cause these peculiarities are due. They may all be referred, for what we know, to something peculiar in the physical constitution. That the mind is greatly influenced by the body cannot be denied. And a body having the physical peculiarities belonging to any race, nation, or family, may determine within certain limits the character of the soul.” Sys. Theol., vol. 2, p.70.
(5.) The advocates of this theory also urge that only thus can we account for such an incarnation of Christ as would make him truly of the race of man. His human soul must, like his human body, have proceeded from his mother. But the incarnation is a mystery as to the manner of which we cannot dogmatize, and from which especially we can draw no conclusions as to others of mankind. We know not even the connection with his mother of the human body of the Son whom she conceived. All that we know is that Jesus was truly her child, and that as such he was of our nature. How he became such is not fully revealed. But, if it be true of all others that their souls are direct creations of God, and yet that they are of the human race, then the fact that the soul of Christ was not derived from his mother would make him no less a man than all others. The incarnation of Christ indeed the rather favours the theory of Creationism; for if his soul and his body were both derived from his mother, it is impossible to see how sin was not transmitted to him as it is to others. On the theory of Creationism we can understand how he could be born sinless, as a pure soul might then have been united with the body miraculously prepared for him, which body itself, because produced by direct divine agency, would also be pure and sinless.
The chief, and almost the only objection to this theory of any weight, is that the idea of propagation of souls involves their materiality. If this be true the theory must be rejected, even if we are left without any satisfactory explanation. That we cannot solve the problem otherwise, does not show that it has no solution.
Any explanation of the transmission of souls must recognize in the soul something different from the body, and something that has all the elements necessary to a true spirit. To suppose, therefore, that the spirit in man is only a higher form of the animal life, to which have been added intelligence and moral capabilities, is to suppose the soul to be incapable of any separate existence from that animal life, and therefore, to be dispelled into non-entity with the death of the body. This is so contrary to what the Scriptures teach of its separate and continued existence after death as not to be admissible for a moment. It is because this has been believed to be necessarily true of it, if in any way material, and because propagation of souls has seemed to involve their materiality, that this theory has been so generally rejected.
But it may be questioned whether any such materialism is essential to a propagation of souls. It is claimed that extension belongs to matter alone, and that only through extension can there arise the capacity for increase in number. But this argues a knowledge of the nature of created spirits which we do not possess. The fact that the unity of nature and attributes in God as the Great Spirit, the Father of Spirits, involves actual simplicity in him, does not prove that the same is necessarily true of the spirits he has created. It is not certain that they may not have some kind of spiritual bodies. Is it not more than possible that he, who, though a simple spirit, can create spirit like himself, but not of his own substance, may be able to confer upon such spirits such a power of multiplication, that, what he does by direct agency in the first creation, he also may do through them in the mediate creations of other spirits? It is not affirmed that this is true, but is it possible to affirm that it cannot be true?
Besides, we should be careful how we dogmatize as to what can and cannot be true of spirits, when we now know so much to be true which a priori we should have judged to be impossible. Thus we now know through the creation of man that spirit can be so associated with matter as to give it a fixed location in space; as to bring it into such contact with matter as to be able to act through it, and upon it; and, more than this, that it is so affected by the condition of the material organism with which it is connected, that the outward manifestation and exercise of its powers is weakened or strengthened through that organism and its moral faculties influenced towards sin or holiness. These, and many similar facts, we now know to be true, which, without experience and Scripture teaching, we should have denied to be possible because of the substantial differences of spirit and matter. Even in the Divine Spirit we are taught that forms of plurality exist, which, without the instructions of the Word of God, we might have denied to be compatible with his spirituality and simplicity, yet, which, as now revealed, are seen to be in no respect inconsistent with these necessary peculiarities of the One God.
These facts are not sufficient to enable us to maintain this theory of Traducianism as true, but only as possible, but they at least suffice to keep us from asserting that descent of one spirit from another can only come through some material substance in the soul, and from accepting, as the only possible solution, any other theory which may be accompanied with objections equally insuperable.
3. The more prevalent theory as to the origin of souls is known as Creationism. It maintains that the soul of each man is directly created by God at the time of its union with its body.
The arguments in its favor are thus presented by Dr. Hodge.
(1.) “That it is more consistent with the prevailing representations of the Scriptures. In the original account of the creation there is a marked distinction made between the body and the soul. The one is from the earth, the other from God. This distinction is kept up throughout the Bible. Body and soul are not only represented as different substances, but also as having different origins. The body shall return to dust, says the wise man, and the spirit to God who gave it. Here the origin of the soul is represented as different from, and higher than that of the body. The former is from God in a sense in which the latter is not. In like manner God is said to form ‘the spirit of man within him,’ Zech. 12:1; to give ‘breath unto the people upon it,’ ‘and spirit to them that walk therein,’ Isa. 42:5. This language nearly agrees with the account of the original creation, in which God is said to have breathed into man the breath of life to indicate that the soul is not earthy or material, but had its origin immediately from God. Hence he is called ‘God of the spirits of all flesh,’ Num. 16:22. It could not well be said that he is God of the bodies of all men. The relation in which the soul stands to God, as its God and Creator, is very different from that in which the body stands to him. And hence in Heb. 12:9, it is said, ‘We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?’ The obvious antithesis here presented is between those who are fathers of our bodies and him who is the Father of our spirits. Our bodies are derived from our earthly parents–our souls are derived from God. This is in accordance with the familiar use of the word flesh, where it is contrasted, either expressly or by implication, with the soul. Paul speaks of those who had not ‘seen his face in the flesh,’ of ‘the life he now lived in the flesh.’ He tells the Philippians that it was needful for them that he should remain ‘in the flesh;’ he speaks of his ‘mortal flesh.’ The Psalmist says of the Messiah, ‘my flesh shall rest in hope,’ which the apostle explains to mean that his flesh should not see corruption. In all these, and in a multitude of similar passages, flesh means the body, and ‘fathers of our flesh’ means fathers of our bodies. So far, therefore, as the Scriptures reveal anything on the subject, the authority is against Traducianism and in favor of Creationism.
(2.) “The latter doctrine, also, is clearly most consistent with the nature of the soul. The soul is admitted, among Christians, to be immaterial and spiritual. It is indivisible. The Traducian doctrine denies this universally acknowledged truth. It asserts that the soul admits of ‘separation or division of essence.’ On the same ground that the Church universally rejected the Gnostic doctrine of emanation as inconsistent with the nature of God as a Spirit, it has, with nearly the same unanimity, rejected the doctrine that the soul admits a division of substance. This is so serious a difficulty that some of the advocates of the ex-traduce doctrine endeavor to avoid it by denying that their theory assumes any such separation or division of the substance of the soul. But this denial avails little. They maintain that the same numerical essence which constituted the soul of Adam constitutes our souls. If this be so, then either humanity is a general essence of which individual men are the modes of existence, or what was wholly in Adam is distributively, partitively and by separation, in the multitudes of his descendants. Derivation of essence, therefore, does imply, and is generally admitted to imply, separation or division of essence. And this must be so if numerical identity of essence in all mankind is assumed to be secured by generation or propagation.
(3.) “A third argument in favor of Creationism, and against Traducianism, is derived from the Scriptural doctrine as to the person of Christ. He was very man; he had a true human nature; a true body and a rational soul. He was born of a woman. He was, as to his flesh, the Son of David. He was descended from the fathers. He was in all points made like as we are, yet without sin. This is admitted on both sides. But, as before remarked, in reference to realism, this, on the theory of Traducianism, necessitates the conclusion that Christ’s human nature was guilty and sinful. We are partakers of Adam’s sin, both as to guilt and pollution, because the same numerical essence which sinned in him is communicated to us. Sin, it is said, is an accident, and supposes a substance in which it inheres, or to which it pertains. Community in sin supposes, therefore, community of essence. If we were not in Adam as to essence, we did not sin in him, and do not derive a corrupt nature from him. But if we were in him as to essence, then his sin was our sin, both as to guilt and pollution. This is the argument of Traducianists repeated in every form. But they insist that Christ was in Adam, as to the substance of his human nature, as truly as we were. They say that if his body and soul were not derived from the body and the soul of his virgin mother he was no true man, and cannot be the redeemer of men. What is true of other men must, consequently, be true of him. He must, therefore, be as much involved in the guilt and corruption of the apostasy as other men. It will not do to affirm and deny the same thing. It is a contradiction to say that we are guilty of Adam’s sin because we are partakers of his essence, and that Christ is not guilty of his sin nor involved in its pollution, although he is a partaker of his essence. If participation of essence involve community of guilt and depravity in the one ease, it must also in the other. As this seems a legitimate conclusion from the Traducian doctrine, and as the conclusion is anti-christian and false, the doctrine itself cannot be true.” [Sys. Theol. vol. 2, pp. 70-72. See the whole discussion, pp. 65-76, especially the concluding remarks, pp. 72-76.]
There are chiefly two objections made to the theory of Creationism: (1.) that God is thus supposed by a direct originating act to create a pure soul to inhabit a sinful body, and thus to partake, necessarily, of its sin; or to create a soul for that purpose already sinful, and (2.) that direct creation is not accordant with his present relations to the world and manner of acting in it. To this latter it has already been replied, that we have instances of God’s direct creations, which forbid the assertion that he acts only through secondary means. But it was not intended, then, to assert that God acts in the creation of souls, any more than in their regeneration, entirely apart from all connection with physical circumstances and causes. His action may occupy some relation to these circumstances and causes, though it may not be through them.
In the first section and first paragraph of this chapter in discussing the account of man’s creation, attention was also called to the fact that the Scriptures appear to allude to Adam as the embodiment of the race of man, and it was added, “the importance of this fact will hereafter he seen.” It would seem from that statement that in some form there is a certain unity in human nature. Those who hold the theory of Traducianism believe that “the souls of children, as well as their bodies, exist in their parents in Adam, either as real beings, like the seeds in plants, and so have been propagated from Adam through successive generations, which is the opinion of Leibnitz, in his “Theodicee.” or they exist in their parents merely potentially, and corn from them by propagation or transference.” [Knapp’s Christian Theol., p. 201.] Now, while the theory of propagation may he rejected, the fact of the unity of human nature still exists. The recognition of that existence will aid in solving many difficulties in theology, and, among others, may afford a probable solution of a direct creation of God, which does not involve responsibility on his part for the guilt of a newly-created soul. If it he true that human nature is one, and yet that men are many, it follows that a man is only “a manifestation of the general principle of humanity in connection with a given human body,” [Hodge, vol. 2, p. 75,] and that thus he becomes a conscious individual person of that humanity. This is analogous to, but yet quite different from, the threefold personal relations in the Trinity of the Godhead. The latter is a threefold, separate personal subsistence in one common, undivided and indivisible Divine nature or essence. The former embraces many separate individual personal manifestations of one human nature, his appropriate part of which is possessed by each person who thus becomes an embodiment in himself of the common humanity. If, then, it be accordant with God’s general method of working, and with his purpose to produce this personal existence under proper conditions, new souls may be thus created whose connection with the common humanity may be as intimate as though they were originally contained in Adam for propagation, and who are therefore created sinful without any more relation of God to their creation than would have existed had they been propagated.
That the common method of God, in the production of life of any kind, may be of this nature is ably set forth by Dr. Hodge in answer to the declaration of Delitzsch that the continued creation of souls is inconsistent with God’s present relation to the world, and that he now produces only mediately, i.e. through the operation of second causes.
“This,” says Dr. Hodge, “is a near approach to the mechanical theory of the universe, which supposes that God, having created the world and endowed his creatures with certain faculties and properties leaves it to the operation of these second causes. A continued superintendence of Providence may be admitted, but the direct exercise of the Divine efficiency is denied. What, then, becomes of the doctrine of regeneration? The new birth is not the effect of second causes. It is not a natural effect produced by the influence of the truth or the energy of the human will. It is due to the immediate exercise of the almighty power of God. God’s relation to the world is not that of a mechanist to a machine, nor such as limits him to operating only through second causes. He is immanent in the world. He sustains and guides all causes. He works constantly through them, with them and without them. As in the operations of writing and speaking there is with us the union and combined action of mechanical, chemical and vital forces, controlled by the presiding power of mind; and as the mind, while thus guiding the operations of the body, constantly exercises its creative energy of thought, so God, as immanent in the world, constantly guides all the operation of second causes, and at the same time exercises uninterruptedly his creative energy. Life is not the product of physical causes. We know not that its origin is in any case due to any cause other than the immediate power of God. If life be the peculiar attribute of immaterial substance, it may be produced agreeably to a fixed plan by the creative energy of God whenever the conditions are present under which he has purposed it should begin to be. The organization of a seed or of the embryo of an animal, so far as it consists of matter, may be due to the operation of material causes guided by the providential agency of God, while the vital principle itself is due to his creative power. There is nothing in this derogatory to the divine character. There is nothing in it contrary to the Scriptures. There is nothing in it out of analogy with the works and working of God. It is far preferable to the theory which either entirely banishes God from the world, or restricts his operations to a concursus with second causes. The objection to Creationism that it does away with the doctrine of miracles, or that it supposes God to sanction every act with which his creative power is connected, does not seem to have even plausibility. A miracle is not simply an event due to the immediate agency of God, for then every act of conversion would be a miracle. But it is an event, occurring in the external world, which involves the suspension or counteracting of some natural law, and which can be referred to nothing, but the immediate power of God. The origination of life, therefore, is neither in nature nor design a miracle, in the proper sense of the word. This exercise of God’s creative energy, in connection with the agency of second causes, no more implies approbation than the fact that he gives and sustains the energy of the murderer proves that he sanctions murder.” [Sys. Theol., vol. 2, pp. 74, 75.]
The consideration of this question may be terminated by adopting the language with which I)r. Hodge closes his discussion.
“The object of this discussion is not to arrive at certainty as to what is not clearly revealed in Scripture, nor to explain what is, on all sides, admitted to be inscrutable, but to guard against the adoption of principles which are in opposition to plain and important doctrines of the word of God. If Traducianism teaches that the soul admits of abscission or division; or that the human race are constituted of numerically the same substance; or that the Son of God assumed into personal union with himself the same numerical substance which sinned and fell in Adam; then it is to be rejected as both false and dangerous. But if; without pretending to explain everything, it simply asserts that the human race is propagated in accordance with the general law which secures that life begets life; that the child derives its nature from its parents through the operation of physical laws, attended and controlled by the agency of God, whether directive or creative, as in all other cases of the propagation of living creatures, it may be regarded as an open question, or matter of indifference. Creationism does not necessarily suppose that there is any other exercise of the immediate power of God in the production of the human soul than such as takes place in the production of life in other cases. It only denies that the soul is capable of division, that all mankind are composed of numerically the same essence, and that Christ assumed numerically the same essence that sinned in Adam.” [Sys. Theol., vol. 2, pp. 75, 76.]
V. THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD.
In the first account of creation God is represented as saying: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Gen. 1:26. A natural question has arisen whether there is any difference between the words “image” and “likeness.” It has been earnestly contended that there is some distinction to be made between them, and various conflicting opinions have been expressed as to what that distinction is. But it is not probable that any was meant or can be established. None is apparent between the original Hebrew words; and the Scriptural use of them elsewhere seems to imply that none exists. In Gen. 1:27, the first of these is used alone, and is twice used. In Gen. 9:6, we have the first word alone, while in Gen. 5:1, the second alone appears, although in Gen. 5:3, both are employed in stating the image and likeness of Adam in which Seth was begotten. The New Testament equally fails to make any distinction. In 1 Cor. 11:7 image (eikon) and glory (doxa) are used; in Col. 3:10 image (eikon) alone and James 3:9 likeness (homoiosis). The assumption, therefore, that there is any distinction between the words is entirely gratuitous. The two are merely synonymous, and are used in accordance with a common Hebrew mode of speech.
A more important question is as to what is meant by that image or likeness.
1. There is certainly no reference to the bodily form of man. God, as pure spirit, has no body in the likeness or image of which man could be created. The body of man, although in many respects superior to that of the brutes, is in a great measure like theirs. The analogy between man and animals generally is very striking and especially that between him and those nearest to him in the stage of being. But there can be no analogy between him and God in this respect. In no way even could special honour be put on man in his physical nature, except as that nature gives evidence of the existence with it of those spiritual powers which elevate man above the brutes. It is as the dwelling-place of that spirit, and because of its intimate association with the life existent in that body, that any sacredness can be attached to the bodily form. It is this, therefore, that is doubtless meant by Gen. 9:6, where the shedding of the blood of man is made punishable on the ground that “in the image of God made he man.”
2. That image and likeness consists in the possession of a spiritual nature. It is in this respect that man is like God, who is called “the God of the spirits of all flesh” (Num. 16:22; 27:16); and the Father of spirits (Heb. 12:9). The spirits of men are also spoken of as peculiarly the works of his hands (Ecc. 12:7; Isa. 57:16; Zech. 12:1), and it was to him that our dying Lord commended his spirit. (Luke 23:46.)
As thus spiritual, man has all the peculiarities of a true spirit.
(1.) He is a personal being with individual conscious existence and action.
(2.) He has the intellectual powers by which he knows all things within the sphere of his being.
(3.) He has that power of contrary choice which constitutes him a free agent, although controlled in that choice by the prevailing motive,–by which is meant the motive which most pleases him, and which is, therefore, that to which his own nature gives prevalence.
(4.) He has a moral nature, or a nature with reference to which we can say “ought,” and “ought not.”
(5.) This moral nature as originally existent must have been (a.) not only without taint of sin, and (b.) without tendencies to sin, and (c.) not merely in a condition of such equipoise between sin and holiness as would make the soul indifferent to the one or the other, but (d.) must have been entirely inclined towards the right, with a holy taste for the holiness of God, having capacity to discern its beauty, and inclination to love him as its possessor, accompanied by readiness to obey the law of God, and perception of man’s duty to serve him.
That such was the original condition of man’s moral nature is evident from Eph. 4:24: “And put on the new man which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.” These elements, which belonged to the image of God in which man was created, have been lost. They are restored again in the renewing of man when created anew in Christ Jesus. That the whole image was not destroyed by the sin of Adam, appears from the fact that man is spoken of as in that image subsequent to the fall and before the renewal. See Gen. 9:6; James 3:9; 1 Cor. 11:7. But that there was a loss, not merely of innocence, but of original righteousness, is evidently to be inferred from the above mentioned passage in Ephesians.
(6.) Perpetuity of existence also belongs to the nature of created spirit, and is another point of similarity between all spirits and God. This is commonly called immortality. But created spirits have not an immortal spiritual life. The soul may die. The death of the soul, however, is not the cessation of conscious personal existence. It is simply the destruction of its spiritual life by its contamination by sin and its separation from the favour of God. What the Scriptures teach of the death of the soul shows, therefore, that natural immortality should not be affirmed of man’s spiritual nature. But perpetual existence has been given by God to the nature of created spirits. He might have made that nature otherwise. But he has chosen that it shall be ever existent. This perpetuity of existence is, however, merely in his purpose. He could have willed otherwise. No creation of God could have such a nature as of itself to be imperishable. It has been argued from the simplicity of the soul that it cannot be destroyed by God. But evidently he who created without compounding could also destroy without dividing. But he has chosen to give such a nature to spirit that to that nature belongs perpetuity of existence. It is, however, not self-existent, as is God, for it has not in itself the power of self-existence. Without God it could no longer be. It must be preserved, in the conferred nature, by that same power which created it. But God has given this nature to spirits, which he purposes ever to preserve, and, through that gift and that preservation, they have an endless existence.
3. When God purposed to make man, he also said, “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Gen. 1:26.
Because of this language some have supposed that this dominion was also a part of the image and likeness of God.
But, evidently, this was an office conferred upon the man made in God’s image, and not a part of that Image. The Scripture presents it as something that was to follow after the nature was conferred upon man. The resemblance between him and God, in this respect, is very striking. That becomes more so, when we recognize the fulfilment of this purpose in its highest sense in the mediatorial dominion of the Godman. But this position is one of office, and not of nature, and the image of God declared of man is manifestly an image of his nature.
VI. MAN PERFECT BUT NOT INFALLIBLE.
It was after the creation of man that God saw, as to everything that he had made, that it was “very good,” literally “exceedingly good.” Gen. 1:31. On the previous days we are only told that he saw it was good. There seems here a special emphasis, therefore, as to the perfection of man’s entire nature. The points of that perfection have been exhibited in showing that man was made in the image of God. But, that it did not include perpetual continuance in it, we know from the fact that man fell from it in sinning against God. His nature, therefore, was fallible. In this respect he was not peculiar, for, as we have heretofore seen, there have been angels also who kept not their first estate. Indeed fallibility belongs to the nature of created spirits. It is involved in their possession of the power of contrary choice, that whenever good and evil are presented, the latter may be chosen, and thus the spiritual creature may fall. Any idea of a probation implies the presentation of such choice. The fall of a spiritual king may be prevented, either by not appointing to it a probation, or presenting the trial under such circumstances as will leave no temptation to choose the wrong, or by God’s so influencing the mind as to counteract all the power of such temptation. But, that God has a right to test his creature is unquestionable, as well as that he is not bound to surround him with such circumstances, or so to counteract the power of all temptation, as to make sinning impossible. But, if he should thus protect or decline to test, the natural fallibility of the creature would still he a fact. He is under these circumstances not liable to fall simply because God protects him from that liability. He has not an infallible nature. The holy angels are often spoken of as confirmed in holiness; but this is not due to any change of nature, but must either be known from a knowledge of God’s purpose and perhaps of his promise even if in part, or altogether to be accomplished by what they have seen of the fearful evil of sin in the other angels, or in man. Without such promise, or declared purpose of God, there is no assurance that they may not yet fall.
The perfection, therefore, of any created being does not consist in infallibility. The fact that man has fallen, argues nothing against his original perfection. For this, he needed only to have truly the nature which God gave him. God could not give him an infallible nature, though he could preserve him infallible in whatever nature he might choose to bestow. But he was under no obligation to do this; none to man; none to his own righteous nature. He had the right to test man at his will, and thus testing, to leave him to himself without constraint to the contrary, to choose as he might see fit. This he did, and man fell; but his fall was not due to the lack of any natural perfection.