THE SUM OF SAVING KNOWLEDGE
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View Wishlist. Our Awards Booktopia's Charities. Are you sure you would like to remove these items from your wishlist? Please allow notifications to be able to download files. Block Allow. David Dickson , James Durham. Paperback des pages. Christian ethics bases its doctrine of the brotherhood of man and the obligation of man's love to man on the fact of their common parentage.
Then chiefly, this doctrine is of interest theologically as an essential presup- position of the Christian doctrines of sin and redemption.
If our first parents, Adam and Eve, be viewed as the ancestors of the whole race of men, then, and only then, can they be regarded as the root of mankind. The oneness of the human race in respect of sin and of redemption often now spoken of as the solidarity of the race is the central postulate of the theology of the Apostle Paul. We have, in the next place, a statement regarding man's original condition : — This God made our first parents both upright and able to keep the law written in their hearts; which law they were naturally bound to obey under pain of death.
The upright- ness describes the original condition ; ability to keep the law is the result of that condition ; and the appearance of death is contingent upon the breaking of that law.
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The term used indicates that man's will was originally straight in reference to the divine law. God's idea was realized in him. He was in his beginning what God intended that in his beginning he should be. Man did not occupy a position of indifference toward good and evil, but had his place within the range of the good. Pelagians and Rationalists, who make as little as possible of human sin, represent primitive man as not yet moral, and so in equilibrium between good and evil.
The original bias of the will was, how- ever, toward good, and this gave to our first parents a signal advantage. They were not only experiencing, but also exercising the love of God, and to them God said, ' Continue ye in my love. In describing this original state of man two different termj are used Gen. Augustine, however, following earlier Fathers, and followed by Roman Catholic theologians and several Protestant divines, distinguished these : the image of God designates those natural endowments which are never wholly lost to men ; the likeness of God indicates those higher spiritual qualities which were lost by the fall.
The divine image is not lost by the fall : for in Gen. If this attribute of the first man did not apply to his descendants, there would be no argumentative force in the statement. There is a decided advantage in appropriating terms like image and likeness to indicate respectively, what is continued, and what is lost, of the original endowments of men.
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Human per- sonality, which consists in consciousness of God, the world, and self and self-determination, is not lost. Original righteousness is lost, which embraced sufficient knowledge of God, and conformity in will and feehng to the will of God. The original words, how- ever, do not imply any such distinction. What both together describe is a conformity that is perfect.
On the spiritual side, there is maturity and strength of understanding Gen. On the sentient and bodily side there is freedom from suffering and death. As a consequence of the possession of such natural and spiritual endowments, there is granted to man dominion over the other creatures. Man thus endowed is upright, and he is straight as concerns God's holy law, as concerns what is good — if his attitude toward the good changes, it must be through the surrender of God-bestowed endowments.
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The seeking out of many inventions is making crooked what was straight. Man's ceasing to be upright is the loss to him of his original righteousness. This statement implies that the first man had a competent knowledge of God's will. Though our first parents had not the ten com- mandments written on tables, which they could handle, that written in their hearts corresponded to the sum of these, — the duty of love to God and to others. This law written in the heart said simply, Do the right : and Adam could read the writing of this law.
Primitive man, therefore, had an intelligence and a moral sense sufficiently formed to be serviceable. He was neither a rude savage nor a weakly child. It is a favourite hypothesis with the savants of our day, that man's social, intellectual, and moral development begins with a savage condition scarcely dis- tinguishable from that of the lower animals. Thoroughgoing materialists, who maintain the theory that man's descent is to be traced from the brute creation, necessarily hold that mind, which they say is but a function of the brain, gradually advances with the rest of the animal organism.
Man thus derived, when first he has gained possession of limbs that can be called human, appears as a creature with only the hidden germ of moral and intellectual faculties.
The first man, according to this theory, is a savage of a lower type than any to be found now among the most barbarous hordes. It used to be very confidently asserted that among savage races no trace could be found of earlier civilization. It is now admitted by many eminent ethnologists that no proof has been offered for this statement.
Within the historical period and among the historical races we find such de- terioration from a position of high culture to the very borders of the savage state, that we should find no difficulty in supposing that tribes outside the historical circle may exhibit in their present condition the wreck of prehistoric forms of culture, — a wreck so complete as almost to destroy all traces of the past. This hypothesis alone will satisfy the requirements of the biblical narrative, and ethnological science has advanced nothing, in the form of proved statements, to render it improbable.
But while firmly maintaining this position, we must be careful not to rush to an opposite extreme. A famous English preacher. There is nothing in the Scripture narrative to warrant such a saying. Man's primitive condition should not be regarded certainly as one of childishness.
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His was rather a beautiful childlike nature of holy simplicity. The intel- lectual and moral powers had not yet had any extensive means of exercise. Conscience and understanding, however, mind and will, were in harmony. Primitive man knew and could perform the good, which the will of God revealed to him. In his original condition man was not subject to bodily infirmities and that death of the body of which they are the prelude. It may be, as geologists think they can prove, that there was death in the animal creation before the appearance of man.
But, according to the Scripture account, the distinction between man and the beasts of the field, — he being capable of exercising dominion over them,— was of such a kind as would lead us to expect exemption as concerned him from that law of animal life. This exemption, however, could only hold when man's whole complex nature was in harmony. Let discord appear, dissolution would follow. We may gather from the whole narrative that it is regarded as a law of nature that what is from the dust returns to dust.
This would be continuing to live.
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Such was man's natural immortality : he need not die. His moral freedom, however, introduced a con- trary possibility : he might die. Death cannot be called natural, nor yet unnatural, to man. It is the threatening addressed to the creature placed under law, to strengthen the resolution of his will to keep that law. It is the doom of the law-breaker, coming not from without, but actually consisting in the confusion, distortion, disunion of the spiritual elements in man's being. This is the covcna7it of works.