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Man is the crowning work of God's creation, honored above all earthly creatures. “Thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands."
He stands upon a much higher plane than the beasts which perish. In the constitution of his being 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; male and female created he
Man is a moral as well as a physical being. By his physical nature he stands associated with the things of earth, while in his moral and spiritual nature he is associated with the environments of the spiritual and eternal world. His present life is laden with eternal responsibilities. He is a being accountable to God, the Creator of all things in heaven and in earth. When David began to meditate on these things he said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Yet when he considered the great I AM, how he measures the heavens with a span, and weighs the mountains in scales, and the nations to him are but dust, he cried, “What is man?"
This is a question which should occupy our minds, and which should be considered with much prayer and careful study. Is it not reasonable, that if man is privileged to acquire a perfect knowledge of other things and creatures God has made, he should know himself? It is not our object in this work to undertake to solve this problem from a scientific standpoint, but I shall treat it purely from a Bible standpoint. The Word of God is very plain in its teaching, and gives us a clearer solution of what man is, and what his eternal destiny will be, than all the learning of the ages. Being a divine revelation, its teachings can be relied on and are safe to accept.
HIS PRESENT STATE.
Natural life is the greatest of earthly blessings. As to its value, we read, “All that a man hath will he give for his life.” “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment ?"
God has placed iis in this world, and surrounded us with blessings innumerable. He made the sun to shine upon us and give us light by day, and the moon by night. He made the stars to twinkle in the sky, and the clouds to send us the refreshing showers. He sends us the sparkling dewdrops, and covers the earth with a carpet of verdant green. The beautiful hills and valleys, the sparkling streamlets which dash down the mountainside, the fields of golden grain, the beautiful flowers, the singing birds-yes, all nature abounds with tokens of God's love, and these are blessings given to cheer our hearts and point us to him who is the giver of every good gift. The heavens, and beauties of nature declare the handiwork of God. Yet, while God has surrounded us with blessings innumerable, and gifts of great value, none compare in worth to the gift of life, which we all possess; without this all other earthly blessings would profit us nothing. Our life is in God's hands. In him we live and move and have our being.
There is a purpose in our having an existence here. God designs that our life shall glorify him. This present life molds our future and eternal destiny; hence, every moment is laden with weighty responsibilities. All along life's pathway we are scattering seeds of good or bad, and “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
As to the shortness of our natural life, it is compared in the Scriptures to a handbreadth, an eagle hastening to his prey, a swift post, a dream, a shadow, a vapor. It is soon cut down and we fly away. Before us lies an eternal world, an unsern state, which shall be the portion of all. With gigantic footsteps time is bearing humanity onward to the great ocean of eternity.
But before we lift the curtain and look at scenes eternal it will be necessary to first clearly understand the nature of man in his present state. First in order, then, I will consider the doctrine of materialism.
Materialism, in a nutshell, denies that man possesses a spiritual, conscious entity, separate and distinct in substance from the body, and affirms that man is only a material being, composed of flesh and blood and breath and intellect.
In considering this doctrine, I shall give several reasons, based upon fact and truth, why it is unscriptural and positively wrong.
First. The doctrine of materialism is wrong, because it brings man on a level with the beasts that perish. This is contrary to all intelligent reason, and the uniform teaching of Scripture. Your horse possesses all that materialists claim for man. He has flesh and blood. He has breath and more or less intelligence. You can teach him. He learns to love or hate you. He can remember. But to say that man stands upon the same plane with him is contrary to our own consciousness, and such teaching is obnoxious to all enlightened minds. Man in his nature stands upon a much higher plane. He is a