Verses of Genesis 1
Genesis 1:26 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
CREATION OF MAN
Gen 1:26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
THOUGH men constantly trace their origin to their immediate parents, and frequently to their remoter ancestors, yet they rarely consider When, or How they first came into existence, or Whether any change has taken place in their nature since they came out of their Creator’s hands. That there was a period when no such creature as man existed, even reason itself would teach us; for every effect must proceed from some cause: and therefore the formation of man, however remotely we trace his origin, must, in the first instance, have been the product of some intelligent Being, who was eternally selfexistent. But we are not left to the uncertain deductions of reason: God has been pleased to reveal unto us (what could not otherwise have been known [Note: Heb 11:3.] ) the time and manner of our creation, together with the state in which we were created. And these are the subjects which we would now propose for your consideration:
The circumstances of our creation—
We may not unprofitably notice somewhat respecting the time—
[Five days had been occupied in reducing to order the confused chaos, and in furnishing the world with whatever could enrich or adorn it. On the sixth, God formed man, whom he reserved to the last, as being the most excellent of his works; and whose formation he delayed, till every thing in this habitable globe was fitted for his accommodation. It is not for us to inquire why God chose this space of time for the completion of his work, when he could as easily have formed it all in an instant: but one instructive lesson at least we may learn from the survey which he took of every day’s work; it teaches his creatures to review their works from day to day, in order that, if they find them to have been good, they may be excited to gratitude; or, if they perceive them to have been evil, they may be led to repentance. At the close of every day, God pronounced his work to be “good:” but when man was formed, and the harmony of all the parts, together with the conduciveness of each to its proper end, and the subserviency of every part to the good of the whole, were fully manifest, then he pronounced the whole to be “very good.” From this also we learn, that it is not one work or two, however good in themselves, that should fully satisfy our minds; but a comprehensive view of all our works, as harmonizing with each other, and corresponding with all the ends of our creation.]
In the manner of our creation there is something worthy of very peculiar attention—
[In the formation of all other things God merely exercised his own sovereign will, saying, “Let there be light,” “Let such and such things take place.” But in the creation of man we behold the language of consultation; “Let us make man.” There is not the least reason to suppose that this was a mere form of speech. like that which obtains among monarchs at this day; for this is quite a modern refinement: nor can it be an address to angels; for they had nothing to do in the formation of man: it is an address to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, both of whom co-operated in the formation of Him who was to be the master-piece of divine wisdom and power [Note: The work of Creation is ascribed to Jesus Christ, Joh 1:1-3 and to the Holy Ghost, Gen 1:2; Job 26:13; Job 33:4.]. This appears from a still more striking expression, which occurs afterwards; where God says, “Now man is become like one of us, to know good and evil [Note: Gen 3:22.].” And it is confirmed in a variety of other passages, where God, under the character of our “Creator,” or “Maker,” is spoken of in the plural number [Note: See Job 35:10; Isa 54:5; Ecc 12:1. These are all plural in the original.].
We must not however suppose that there are three Gods: there certainly is but One God; and His unity is as clear as his existence: and this is intentionally marked in the very verse following our text; where the expressions, “us” and “our” are turned into “he” and “his:”—“God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him.”
Here, then, we may see an early intimation of the Trinity in Unity; a doctrine which pervades the whole Bible, and is the very corner-stone of our holy religion. And it is deserving of particular notice, that, in our dedication to our Creator at our baptism, we are expressly required to acknowledge this mysterious doctrine, being “baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost [Note: Mat 28:19.].”]
The text informs us further respecting,
The state in which we were created—
There was some “likeness” to God even in the nature of man. “God is a spirit,” who thinks, and wills, and acts. Man also has a spirit, distinct from his body, or from the mere animal life: he has a thinking, willing substance, which acts upon matter by the mere exercise of its own volitions, except when the material substance on which it operates is bereft of its proper faculties, or impeded in the use of them. But the image of God in which man was formed, is, properly, two-fold:
[“God is a God of knowledge.” He has a perfect discernment of every thing in the whole creation. Such. too, was Adam in his first formation. Before he had had any opportunity to make observations on the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, he gave names to every one of them, suited to their several natures, and distinctive of their proper characters. But it was not merely in things natural that Adam was so well instructed: he doubtless had just views of God, his nature and perfections: he had also a thorough knowledge of himself, of his duties, his interests, his happiness. There was no one thing which could conduce either to his felicity or usefulness, which was not made known to him, as far as he needed to be instructed in it. As God is light without any mixture or shade of darkness [Note: 1Jn 1:5.], so was Adam, in reference to all those things at least which he was at all concerned to know.]
[Holiness is no less characteristic of the Deity than wisdom. He loves every thing that is good, and infinitely abhors every thing that is evil. Every one of His perfections is holy. In this respect, also, did man bear a resemblance to his Maker. “God made him upright [Note: Ecc 7:29.].” As he had a view of the commandment in all its breadth, so had he a conformity to it in all his dispositions and actions. He felt no reluctance in obeying it: his will was in perfect unison with the will of his Maker. All the inferior appetites were in habitual subjection to his reason, which also was in subjection to the commands of God. We are told respecting the Lord Jesus Christ, that he was “the image of God [Note: 2Co 4:4.],” “the image of the invisible God [Note: Col 1:15.],” “the express image of his person [Note: Heb 1:3.].” What the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, was upon earth, that was man in Paradise—“holy, harmless, undefiled [Note: Heb 7:26.].”
That man’s resemblance to his Maker did indeed consist in these two things, is manifest; because our renewal after the divine image is expressly said to be in knowledge [Note: Col 3:10.], and in true holiness [Note: Eph 4:24.]. Well, therefore, does the Apostle say of man, that “he is the image and glory of God [Note: l Cor. 11:7.].”]
What an awful change has sin brought into the world!
[Survey the character before drawn: and compare it with men in the present state: “How is the gold become dim, and the fine gold changed!” Men are now enveloped in darkness, and immersed in sin. They “know nothing as they ought to know,” and do nothing as they ought to do it. No words can adequately express the blindness of their minds, or the depravity of their hearts.———Yet all this has resulted from that one sin which Adam committed in Paradise. He lost the divine image from his own soul; and “begat a son in his own fallen likeness:” and the streams that have been flowing for nearly six thousand years from that polluted fountain, are still as corrupt as ever. O that we habitually considered sin in this light, and regarded it as the one source of all our miseries!]
What a glorious change will the Holy Spirit effect in the hearts of all who seek Him!
[In numberless passages, as well as in those before cited [Note: See notes m and n], the Holy Spirit is spoken of, as “renewing” our souls, and making us “new creatures [Note: 2Co 5:17.].” What Adam was in Paradise, that shall we be, “according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtletree [Note: Isa 55:13.].” He will “open the eyes of our understanding,” and cause us to “know all things” that are needful for our salvation [Note: 1Jn 2:20; 1Jn 2:27.]: and at the same time that he “turns us from darkness unto light, he will turn us also from the power of Satan unto God:” “He will put his laws in our minds, and write them in our hearts [Note: Heb 8:10.].” Let not any imagine that their case is desperate; for He who created all things out of nothing, can easily create us anew in Christ Jesus: and he will do it, if we only direct our eyes to Christ: “We all beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord [Note: 2Co 3:18.].”]
What obligations do we owe to the ever-blessed Trinity!
[If we looked no further than to our first creation, we are infinitely indebted to the sacred Three, for making us the subject of their consultation, and for co-operating to form us in the most perfect manner. But what shall we say to that other consultation, respecting the restoration of our souls? Hear, and be astonished at that gracious proposal, “Let us restore man to our image.” “I,” says the Father, “will pardon and accept them, if an adequate atonement can be found to satisfy the demands of justice.” “Then on me be. their guilt,” says his only dear Son: “I will offer myself a sacrifice for them, if any one can be found to apply the virtue of it effectually to their souls, and to secure to me the purchase of my blood.” “That shall be my charge,” says the blessed Spirit: “I gladly undertake the office of enlightening, renewing, sanctifying their souls; and I will “preserve every one of them blameless unto thy heavenly kingdom.” Thus, by their united efforts, is the work accomplished; and a way of access is opened for every one of us through Christ, by that one Spirit, unto the Father [Note: Eph 2:18.]. O let every soul rejoice in this Tri-une God! and may the Father’s love, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore! Amen.]
Verses of Genesis 1
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.