And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea…
The name of Adam suggests to us at once the estate from which the human race has fallen, the cause of that fall, the vast forfeit that one man made to God; and naturally awakens in our own minds questions as to our lost inheritance. Would Adam have died if he had never fallen? If he had lived, would he have continued in paradise, or been translated into heaven? What was his condition in paradise? Was it one of probation and of interior sufferings dependent on such a state, or was it one of entire freedom from all such trial? And lastly (and this is most important in such probation), was Adam indued with a supernatural power, or did he simply depend on the gifts of his original creation? To these four questions I will append one brief inquiry in addition. Had our first parents a claim to eternal happiness by the right of their original creation, or in virtue of some covenant made with them by God?
1. With regard then to the first of the above questions, a very slight examination of Holy Scripture will assure us that Adam would not have died in an unfallen state. As is always the case in the direct intercourse of God with His creature, a covenant was made between the two, the terms of which were clearly defined. "Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"; and the woman, in stating the terms of the covenant, says, "God hath saith, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." Now these propositions clearly involve the power of inversion, and imply that, in the event of their not eating the forbidden fruit, they shall live and not die; that is, their death was simply and only dependent on breach of the covenant. The same point is clearly ascertained by a comparison of 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5, both with the separate parts of each and one with another.
2. I will now approach the second branch of the subject, namely, the question, whether Adam would have remained, had he not fallen, an inhabitant of paradise; or been translated into the immediate presence of God in heaven. There seem to be four especial reasons, amongst many others, for concluding that the latter would have been the case; for, in the first place, it is apparent that in the case of all covenants, such as those which God made with man, there is a punishment annexed to the breach of the terms of such covenant, and a reward annexed to their fulfilment; and inasmuch as this punishment would involve a worse condition for the fallen party than the one which he occupied at the period of the ratification of the covenant; so, on the other hand, a superior condition is the reward of the fulfilment of those terms. Now the fall of Adam at once brought upon him the loss of paradise, that is, the inferior condition; and, by parity of reasoning, had he not fallen but endured his probation, it would have secured to him translation to heaven itself, or a superior condition. But I pass on to the second reason on which I base my belief that Adam would have been eventually translated to heaven. He was clearly possessed of the perfect power of self-will; he had vast and manifold opportunities of exercising it; he was placed in the immediate presence of a piercing temptation; be daily passed the tree of knowledge on his visit to the tree of life. So acute was that temptation, that in spite of the continual presence of Jehovah, of the purity of the nature hitherto innocent, of the innate image of God, be exercised that power of free will, and he fell. For what could all of the powers have been given him? and why should he have been placed in such a position, unless some great attainment beyond what he at that moment enjoyed was to be placed within his grasp? To imagine otherwise would be inconsistent with the whole analogy of God's providence. But, thirdly, I spoke above of the external support which was continually necessary from the Divine Being for the preservation of Adam's natural life; a state of continued exertion is unnatural to the Deity; a state of repose is His true condition; consequently we cannot imagine but that the first Adam was eventually to have been placed in a position in which continued life was natural to him. Even the daily visit of the Almighty to the garden of Eden implied a transitory, and not a permanent condition. But, fourthly, though the fact of sinning involved death to the natural body, it by no means follows that the absence of sin leaves that natural body in the same condition, but rather we should expect it would tend to elevate it, as much as the fall into sin depressed it.
3. I will now pass on to the third head, the moral condition of our first parents in Eden. There is a popular impression, not unfrequently given children and ignorant persons, that our first parents were in a state of entire freedom from any kind of suffering. Now the presence of an object highly desirable to the eye and the mind, while the moral agent is fully possessed of the power of free will and yet under a strong bias towards a different direction from that desire, in itself implies a condition of very considerable mental suffering, and in this condition clearly our first parents were placed, for we are distinctly told that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was in the first place highly desirable to the eye; and secondly, to the mind, inasmuch as it imparted the keenest knowledge of right and wrong; consequently no misapprehension could be greater than that our first parents were without probation, and all its attending trials; nay more, we are bound to consider how intense must have been the desire after knowledge, a thing in itself so innocent and elevated, in so sublime a creature as Adam was, fresh from the hands of the Creator, and having as yet no bias in favour of wickedness; besides which, some exquisite external beauty seems to have arrayed the tree of knowledge, which made it the more fascinating to Adam and Eve, as we gather from the terms that it was desirable to the eye. From all this it is clear Adam was in a state of very keen probation.
4. With what power did Adam approach the scene of his temptation? Was it with the original power of his creation or some supernatural gift of the Spirit? Surely with the latter.
(E. Monro, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: 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.
WEB: God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."