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relates events that would be subsequent to those described in the preceding verses—at the fourteenth verse, then, the following information is given by our Lord, as the latter part of the
"And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come."
And, by the general dissemination of the Scriptures, is not this Gospel of the kingdom now spreading into all lands? which new movement ought, perhaps, to remind us of that budding tree, by which, the same chapter tells us, we may judge when the summer draweth nigh: Verse 32. "Now learn a parable of the figtree: when his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh.
33. "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."
After this incitement to read the Scriptures,
the chief object of the following pages will be an endeavour to discriminate between that which is literally given, and that which is prophetically meant; and for this important reason, that when a literal passage is not apprehended to be such, it is immediately laid aside among the parables and prophecies; and we thereby lose the information intended for us.
MAN MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD.
IT is evident, in the Book of Genesis, that the Deity chooses to afford us a great degree of knowledge concerning his power, the beginning of this earth, and the creation of man. And from our knowledge of the goodness of God towards manI say knowledge, because we certainly have derived it from those results of good which always follow our obedience to his laws, delivered in Scripturefrom our knowledge then of the merciful consideration of God, for those who receive his laws, is it not reasonable to believe that the information vouchsafed is meant and calculated as much for the bulk of mankind as for the learned few? and we do see, that the generality of readers keep to the perspicuous parts, while the learned consider the more
abstruse passages, and, by their researches, diffuse still further the information intended to be given. But then is it not also requisite, on the part of the learned, that they should abstain from any interference with the perfectly plain recitals, such as are evidently meant to be received literally, lest they obscure the plain man's path, and then find it interminable to themselves, from having been wise above what was written? It is settled that the language of Scripture is both literal and figurative, and that the latter often contains a double meaning; but in the cases of direct and simple information, such as describes the formation of the earth, and the creation of man, no double sense, or wrapt meaning, can belong to them. Ought they not, therefore, to be apprehended (as a common reader certainly would do) in the plain, literal sense that is, according to the most apparent meaning of the words?
The first object of the following pages will be, to make some observations upon those apparently plain and direct passages in the two first chapters of Genesis, which relate the creation of man: they are devoid of prophecy, and contain nothing but direct
information; may they not therefore reasonably be understood in the literal sense, and rendered according to the plain terms in which the transaction is related, however little it may agree with the preconceived opinions of divines? for there is a far greater degree of deference due to the apparent meaning of the divine word, than to earthly learning. Beside which, there is a resort open to us in the elucidations of the New Testament, which, like our Saviour himself, came but to fulfil and explain.
Taking, therefore, that inspired volume for our only guide and expositor, let us at present venture to make trial of the one direct path of literal interpretation, to see whether, in the case of these two first chapters of Genesis, it will not fairly lead us to a conclusion more consonant to the apparent meaning of the Mosaic account of the creation of man, than that which supposes that Adam was not made after God's likeness, in his own image; but that it was Adam's mind, and his degree of holiness, that was like unto God. The New Testament is so explicit upon the subject of the spiritual, the celestial, and the glorified bodies in heaven, that