Man The Image Of God -- By: Edward Beecher

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 007:27 (Jul 1850)
Article: Man The Image Of God
Author: Edward Beecher

Man The Image Of God

Rev. Edward Beecher

It is a fundamental question in all theology, and in all religious experience, are the relations of the divine and the human mind such that it is possible to have a true knowledge of God?

It is commonly assumed that such is the fact, and systems of theology are constructed, and the reality of an intelligible and rational religious experience is defended on the assumption that it is possible to know God, and to commune with him. And yet there is a form of scepticism which at the present time is extensively prevalent, which denies the possibility of any such knowledge, and thus strikes a blow at the root of all such theology, and all such religious experience. Moreover in the writings even of some of the most orthodox divines, there are the germs of a scepticism concerning the reality of our knowledge of God, in some respects, which when fully developed lead to similar results — results which they above all others on reflection would repudiate. And yet, vitally important as this question is, it has rarely if ever been directly, fully and formally considered, as its importance demands.

It is our purpose to invite the attention of thinking minds to this subject, by a few remarks on some of the prominent points which it involves.

We shall first inquire how that knowledge of God is obtained, which is at the basis of all our common systems of theology, and of religious experience, and then pass in review some of the modes in which the reality of that knowledge is assailed.

Such knowledge of God as has been adverted to is obtained by the assumption that God designedly made the human mind in his own image, in order that every man might have in himself the means of knowing God and thus the power of communing with him. By assuming that the mind is made in the image of God it is meant that God and man alike have rational powers, that is, the powers requisite for the perception of truth, for the comparison of objects, and for judging of the value of results; that they have the power of choosing ends, and of forming plans to gain those ends; that they have the power of benevolent emotion or love; — that they have the power to perceive and to feel, what is honorable and right, so that they are capable of pleasant or painful emotions as they are conscious of regarding or disregarding truth and right in their conduct, and that in these respects the divine and human mind so far correspond that by knowing the human mind, we can know the divine.

That our current systems of theology are in fact based upon this assumption is too obvious to need a labored proof. It is enough to advert to a few illustrations of the fa...

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