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Man's place in the order of the universe is entirely unique. His relation to the material world is close and necessary. From the dust we came and to the dust we go; the beasts of the field are in very truth our "little brothers," and, like them, we are nourished and sustained by the products of the soil. All our intellectual activities, and even our emotions and affections are conditioned by our physical frame.

By the special organs of sight and hearing and the other senses we gain knowledge of the world we live in, and by our nerves and brain the soul performs its functions. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, a marvelous organism, "a harp of a thousand strings." So that men looking only on this instrument—this astonishing brain and nerve and muscular mechanism-are sometimes overwhelmed with admiration of it, and attribute everything to the machinery by which it is accomplished. But back of the brain, above the nervous system, in and through and over all these is that spirit which God gave when he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul.

Man occupies a most important place in the scheme of creation, so far as we know he is the only rational creature inhabiting the material universe. It may be that there are other worlds where dwell God's creatures greatly superior to us in dignity and character, but if so they have no present relations with us; and so far as our knowledge extends, man is the center of the whole scheme of the world.

He is lord of creation, yet part of it, a very insignificant part if measured by his physical size or strength, a poor, puny, short lived animal.

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou has ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him" so the psalmist reflected, and so we all perceive that measured by any standard of measure that can be applied to moon or stars, man is a negligible quantity, and

his life "under the sun" vanity of vanities.

But he is not rightly measured by any such standards as may be used to measure stars or material worlds. He is comparable to angels, sovereign over the work of God's creative power, crowned with glory and honor of another quality from the glory of the stars.

So the story of creation culminates in this supreme revelation of man's dignity and worth. It is the most fundamental of all religious truth, the motif of the song that is sung in every page of holy scripture, and which is more fully harmonized long ages later in the promise "As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" and "for this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality."

“The heavens declare the glory of God
And the firmament showeth his handywork"
But, “Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways
And how small a whisper is heard of him
The thunder of his power who can understand ?”

CHAPTER III

THE STORY OF EDEN

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"Knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened."

HE next great revelation is the sad story of “man's first disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the

world and all our woe.” This is one of the hardest pages of scripture to interpret. The story of creation deals chiefly with the material universe, a visible heaven and a tangible earth. The discoveries of science and the tests of physical experiment have illustrated that story, aided our interpretation and confirmed our faith.

But this story of probation and of failure is not so easily read. It is obviously not intended to be taken literally. The garden whose trees bore fruit to eat of which was moral death or everlasting life; where serpents talked, and God walked in the cool of the day, all this convinces that we have here to do with allegory, with images of things, things of momentous import and of practical value, but set forth in figures, parables and symbols.

We must remember that this is not one whit the less reliable and true because it is not literal. In fact, it is the necessary means of setting forth new truth. Words are only signs of thoughts to those who already know them; they serve only to call up ideas already associated with them in the mind of him who hears them. But fit symbols can present truth more directly, by the association of familiar objects with the unfamiliar thought, and by analogy between the objects

and the thoughts make the thought clear to the mind,

The parables of Jesus were most profoundly true; they set forth principles, and relations that are eternal, universal, changeless, though the stories were probably not actual occurrences. So we have in this strange story of the Garden of Eden the history of an event of terrible consequences, more fully and more accurately told than literal words could make it. We have a picture of human experience, an experience as real as the material earth, as actual as the falling of a leaf, but presented in the form of allegory.

The general meaning of the story is clear and plain enough. It is the story of the beginning of human sin, the inception of that corruption of the whole nature which we call "original sin.” It is the history of the fact that man is morally diseased, stricken with a fatal malady even from his birth. It tells how man fell out of harmony with God, and started the course of evil which rendered his whole nature abnormal, vitiated, pathological.

Whatever view we take of man's creation; whether the older one that man came into being fully equipped with all the attributes and faculties of manhood from the creative hand of God, or the popular teaching of our day that he is the product of a long and tedious process of evolution, struggling upward from lower to higher and higher forms of life till he became a living soul; in either case, there must have been a point of time, a stage of his experience when he first clearly recognized the distinction between right and wrong-when he passed from a negative state of innocence to an experience of temptation and of conscious choice between things permitted and things forbidden. This is inevitable in the nature of free agency. It is a stage of development experienced by every individual soul, and a necessary vicissitude of the race. This is the subject of the story of Eden. It is the story of the transition from the state of innocence, to a state of wilful opposition

to known law. It is the account of the origin of human sin, a great historic fact set forth in the allegory of the garden, the serpent and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

It involves the most profound problems of philosophy. Psychology, Ethics and Biology have each their separate interest in the story of the fall. Some of the questions suggested are not answered. The mystery of sin in God's world is not cleared—not considered. Sin is presented as already present, represented by the serpent who tempts Eve and Adam.

This revelation, like that of creation is limited to the matters necessary for our instruction in duty and worship; and such instruction is right plainly given and may be considered under these heads.

First, Before the fall, man had a clear knowledge of God's will. He knew that some things might be done and that others were forbidden. God had somehow revealed to him the limitations of his freedom. Whatever the tree and the fruit stand for in the allegory this much is plain, they were forbidden, and man understood that they were forbidden. This knowledge was perhaps given through man's moral sense, the instinctive protest against certain acts, that protest which every man feels in his soul when lust or pride or appetite urges him to do things which are opposed to God's will—to the fitness of things, against the constituted order of his world. This, which we call conscience, was no doubt simpler, less sophisticated, less biased than it is today in the fallen race, but probably it was essentially what we still have in our sense of moral obligation -the instinct of righteousness, which is probably a different thing altogether from what we call knowledge or intelligence.

It is well known to all of us that the sense of duty is not dependent on knowledge of reasons why. Indeed it is probably strongest when it is simplest—when it is nothing else but a feeling of obligation, a command, or in the familiar phrase of Kant “a categorical imperative.” Such seems to have been

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