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    THE IMAGE OF GOD

    The first testimony of the Bible concerning man is found in Genesis 1:26, 27: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him,” etc. A claim is here instituted for immortality by the advocates of the popular sentiment. This image of God, say they, in which man was created, cannot refer to his body, which is mortal and corruptible, but must refer to his soul of spirit, which is this respect like God, immortal and incorruptible. Formally stated, their argument is this: 1. God is immortal. 1 Timothy 1:17. 2. Man is created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26. 3. Therefore, man is immortal. If this conclusion is correct, it will be equally so in a parallel case: Thus, 1. God is omnipresent. Proverbs 15:3. 2. Man is created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26. 3. Therefore, man is omnipresent! This syllogism, by bringing the conclusion, unlike the former, within the province of our senses, betrays its own utter falsity. We might also inquire, Is not God omniscient? Yes. Is man? No. Is not God omnipotent? Yes. Is man? No. What right have we, then, to assert that the “image” has respect to immortality alone, to the exclusion of these other divine characteristics? None whatever. It is pure assumption. The argument which is drawn from this passage for immortality would clothe poor, puny, finite man, with all the attributes of the Deity; and it is unnecessary to remind the reader that an argument which proves too much, proves nothing.MOI 8.2

    But it is urged that man cannot be in the image of God in respect to bodily form, for God is without form, body or parts. A grand mistake, reader; and one that has not been without its weight in giving rise to the popular interpretation of Genesis 1:26. But to place the matter in a still clearer light, we shall be pardoned a short digression of the direct inquiry,MOI 9.1

    Is God a person? If language has determinate meaning, and Inspiration knows how to use it, he certainly is. An immaterial spirit, without body or parts, cannot be seen with mortal eyes; yet Moses did behold the Lord of Israel. Exodus 33:21-23. To say that God assumed a body and shape for this occasion, places the theory in a worse light still; for it is virtually charging upon God a double deception: first, by giving Moses the idea that he was a being with body and parts; and, second, showing him something that was not himself. On another occasion, Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders, saw the God of Israel. Exodus 24:9-11. No man, to be sure, has seen his face, nor could they do it, and live, as he has declared. Exodus 33:20. The harmony on this subject, therefore, between the Old and New Testaments, is undisturbed, skeptics to the contrary notwithstanding.MOI 9.2

    Again, Christ was bodily upon the earth. After he had risen from the dead, he bade his overjoyed disciples handle his immortal, though not then glorified, body, and satisfy themselves of the existence of flesh and bone. Luke 24:39; John 7:39. Bodily he ascended into Heaven, where none can presume to deny him a local place and habitation. Acts 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 8:1. But Paul, speaking of this same Jesus, says, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature.” Again, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” It yet remains to be told how Christ could be in the form of God, if God has no form. Once more: “God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom, also, he made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” etc. Hebrews 1:1-3. However unsatisfactory previous quotations may have been, of this testimony there can be no evasion. Here is an express declaration that God has a person, and of that person Christ is the express image.MOI 10.1

    But is not God, it may be asked in objection, omnipresent? and how can this be reconciled with the idea of his having a physical form? He is everywhere present, we answer, by his Spirit, which is his representative. Psalm 139:7. Of the text which declares him to be himself a spirit, John 4:24, we shall speak when we come to an examination of the import of that term.MOI 10.2

    Having now shown that God is a person with body and parts, the great objection to man’s being in the physical likeness of his Maker is taken out of the way. But, perhaps, an examination of a few texts in which the term image is found, may be justly expected of us at this point. First, and as being also most important, we refer to the testimony of Colossians 3:9-10: “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” It being our object merely to meet the objections which are raised against the idea that man was made in the bodily form of God, we need not enter into a positive exposition of this text. It will be sufficient to show that it does not avail our friends in the least in this controversy. And that it does not avail them, will be apparent to every one on consideration that that which is here renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him, is nothing which belongs to man naturally, but something which is put on, namely, the new man, in contradistinction from the old, which it was first necessary to put off. The new man is put on, of course, at conversion; and hence this text can refer, not to mankind in general, but to those only who have experienced a change of heart: showing that, previous to this event, a person is not in the image of God in the sense of this text. If, therefore, the image here brought to view is the same as the image of Genesis 1:27, it shows that by some means the race has become divested of that image; and if in this image immortality is included, this immortality is consequently lost, and must be by some means regained by all those who would ultimately possess it.MOI 11.1

    We read again in 1 Corinthians 15:49: “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” Let it be noticed that the image here is also something to be put on, not being in the natural possession of man. In this case it has its application beyond the resurrection - “we shall bear,” etc. It cannot, therefore, refer to the image stamped upon man at his creation, unless it be admitted that that image, with all its included privileges, has been lost by the race, as remarked above - an admission fatal to the hypothesis of our opponents.MOI 11.2

    In 1 Corinthians 11:7, we read that man, as contrasted with the woman, is “the image and glory of God.” The term image here cannot certainly be supposed to include immortality, unless we are prepared to adopt the conclusion which would follow, namely, that this is an endowment which the female does not possess.MOI 12.1

    The image is further referred to in Genesis 9:6; James 3:9, in which instances we think it can have no other than its most literal and obvious meaning, as applied to the material man; and this application avoids all necessity of clothing man with these divine attributes, which we know he does not possess.MOI 12.2

    To return to Genesis 1:26. The leading definition of image is, “A representation or similitude of any person or thing, formed of a material substance; as an image wrought out of stone, wood or wax.” Webster. And there is no definition given of the word, which, when applied to a material object, like man, will allow us to refer it to any thing else but the outward shape, the physical contour. We hence conclude that Genesis 1:27, simply informs us that in this respect man resembles his Maker.MOI 12.3

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