See, this only have I found, that God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
I. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THIS STATE WHEREIN MAN WAS CREATED. "God made him upright."
1. This supposes a law to which he was conformed in his creation; as when anything is made regular, or according to rule, of necessity the rule itself is presupposed. Whence we may gather that this law was no other than the eternal, indispensable law of righteousness observed in all points by the second Adam, opposed by the carnal mind, and some notions of which remain yet among the Pagans, who, "having not the law, are a law unto themselves" (Romans 2:14).
(1) Man's understanding was a lamp of light. He had perfect knowledge of the lay, and of his duty accordingly: he was made after God's image, and consequently could not want knowledge, which is a part thereof (Colossians 3:10).
(2) His will in all things was agreeable with the will of God (Ephesians 4:42).
(3) His affections were orderly, pure and holy.
2. From what has been said it may be gathered that the original righteousness explained was universal and natural, yet mutable.
(1) It was universal, both with respect to the subject of it, the whole man, and the object of it, the whole law. There was nothing in the law but what was agreeable to his reason and will, as God made him, though sin hath now set him at odds with it; his soul was shapen out in length and breadth to the commandment, though exceeding broad; so that his original righteousness was not only perfect in its parts, but in degrees.
(2) As it was universal, so it was natural to him, and not supernatural in that state. Not that it was essential to man, as man, for then he could not have lost it without the loss of his very being, but it was natural to him; he was created with it, and it was necessary to the perfection of man, as he came out of the hand of God, necessary to his being placed in a state of integrity.
3. It was mutable; it was a righteousness that might he lost, as is manifested by the doleful event. Let no man quarrel with God's works in this; for if Adam had been unchangeably righteous, he must have been so either by nature or by free gift: by nature he could not be so, for that is proper to God, and incommunicable to any creature; if by free gift, then no wrong was done to him in withholding what he could not crave.
II. SOME OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ACCOMPANIED OR FLOWED FROM THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF MAN'S PRIMITIVE STATE. Happiness is the result of holiness; and as this was a holy, so it was a happy state.
1. Man was then a very glorious creature. There was no impurity to be seen without; no squint look in the eyes, after any unclean thing; the tongue spoke nothing but the language of heaven; and, in a word, "the King's son was all-glorious within," and his "clothing of wrought gold."
2. He was the favourite of Heaven. While he was alone in the world he was not alone, for God was with him. His communion and fellowship were with his Creator, and that immediately; for as yet there was nothing to turn away the face of God from the work of His own hands, seeing sin had not as yet entered, which alone could make the breach.
3. God made him lord of the world, prince of the inferior creatures, universal lord and emperor of the whole earth. The Lord dealt most liberally and bountifully with him — "put all things under his feet": only He kept one thing, one tree in the garden, out of his hands, even the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But you may say, and did He grudge him this? I answer, Nay; but when He had made him thus holy and happy, He graciously gave him this restriction, which was in its own nature a prop and stay to keep him from falling. And this I say upon these three grounds: —
(1) As it was most proper for the honour of God, who had made man lord of the lower world, to assert His sovereign dominion over all, by some particular visible sign, so it was proper for man's safety.
(2) This was a memorial of his mutable state given to him from heaven, to be laid up by him for his greater caution.
(3) God made man upright, directed towards God as his chief end. This fair tree, of which he was forbidden to eat, taught him that his happiness lay not in enjoyment of the creatures, for there was a want even in paradise: so that the forbidden tree was, in effect, the hand of all the creatures pointing man away from themselves to God for happiness. It was a sign of emptiness hung before the door of the creation, with the inscription, "This is not your rest."
4. As he had a perfect tranquillity within his own breast, so he had a perfect calm without. His heart had nothing to reproach him with; conscience, then, had nothing to do but to direct, approve, and feast him; and, without, there was nothing to annoy him.
5. Man had a life of pure delight and unalloyed pleasure in this state. God placed him, not in a common place of the earth; but in Eden, a place eminent for pleasantness, as the name of it imports; nay, not only in Eden, but in the Garden of Eden; the mast pleasant spot of that pleasant place; a garden planted by God Himself, to be the mansion-house of this His favourite.
6. tie was immortal. He would never have died if he had not sinned; it was in case of sin that death was threatened (Genesis 2:17), which shows it to be the consequence of sin, and not of the sinless human nature.
III. THE DOCTRINE OF THE STATE OF INNOCENCE APPLIED.
1. For information.
(1) Not God, but man himself was the cause of his ruin.
(2) God may most justly require of men perfect obedience to His law, and condemn them for their not obeying it perfectly, though now they have no ability to keep it. In so doing, He gathers but where He has sown.
(3) Behold here the infinite obligation we lie under to Jesus Christ the second Adam, who, with His own precious blood has bought our freedom, and freely makes offer of it again to us (Hosea 13:9), and that with the advantage of everlasting security, and that it can never be altogether lost any more (John 10:28, 29). Free grace will fix those whom free will shook down into the gulf of misery.
2. This conveys a reproof to three sorts of persons.
(1) To those who hate religion in the power of it, wherever it appears; and can take pleasure in nothing but in the world and in their lusts.
(2) It reproves those who put religion to shame, and those who are ashamed of religion, before a graceless world.
(3) It reproves the proud, self-conceited professor, who admires himself in a garment of rags which he has patched together.
3. Of lamentation. Here was a stately building; man carved like a fair palace, but now lying in ashes: let us stand and look on the ruins, and drop a tear. Ah, may we not now say, "0 that we were as in months past!" when there was no stain in our nature, no cloud on our minds, no pollution in our hearts! Had we never been in better case, the matter had been less; but they that were brought up in scarlet do now embrace dunghills. Where is our primitive glory now?
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.