Art. V.-The Trial Period in History.

Man was made in the image of his Maker,-a conscious, rational, and immortal being. This constitutes the vast difference between him and all the lower ranks of creation. With an upright will, he was yet capable of deflection, else he could not have fallen. He possessed affections that twined around the true and good, which, nevertheless, might turn and clasp the evil and the false; otherwise how could he be capable of trial. In this freedom lies the superiority of mind and conscience over inatter and animal instinct.

This difference explains, too, the mastery of man over nature, and the progress of the race in science, civilization, and moral refinement. It also accounts for its mastery over him, when, falling into moral debasement, he is governed by appetite and passion, instead of reason.

“ Two things overwhelm me,” said Kant,—“the star-sown deep of space, and right and wrong." Of the two, the latter is far more sublime and appalling. The stars have no power of deflection from their normal course. The high capability of this in man is just that moral endowment in which the likeness to his Maker consists, and without which, improvement or deterioration would be impossible. In this primal fact of the divine likeness in man, lies the key to human history and a clew to human destiny.

This fearful possibility of wrong comes first into actual history, in what inay be called The Trial Period.

But there meets us here the preliminary question of man's physical and intellectual status at the starting point. Three theories have found more or less acceptance.

First, a literal infancy, capable, by time and growth, of bodily and mental development and maturity.

Second, a physical maturity, but intellectual and moral savageism.

Third, a mental and moral, as well as physical completeness, in a fulness of faculties which nature and the divine tui


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tion brought into immediate use in the acquisition of knowledge, and the felicities of obedience and love.

Which, now, is the true theory? Not that of infantile weakness. For Eve, who could not have grown from infancy in the brief slumber of the man during which she was made, appeared in blooming womanhood, when, on waking, he welcomed her as his wife. So Adam, it would seem, was not created a babe, that by years and growth obtained maturity, but in the capability of acquiring knowledge, and with a full responsibility for rightly using it. All other parents being born, were once babes. But these first parents were not born and were never babes. Things that grow, reach perfection gradually. Those which are created, start normally in it, and may advance or retrograde. This seems to be a creative law. According to the testimony of geology, every species, however low, comes into being at the point of its own ideal as a species.

The theory of barbarism as the historic starting point, elaborated by Condorcet and espoused by Bunsen and others, is not supported either by facts or analogies. For although a cannibal savageism is the lowest stage of society, this is certainly no more an intimation that the human race commenced at •that point, than the inebriation of a few adults is, that all men are born intoxicated. Cannibalism shows how low humanity has fallen, not its state at the commencement.

All barbarisms perpetuate and intensify themselves by a law as fixed as that of gravitation. They all are traceable, historically, as a degeneracy from something higher and better. No savageism, by its own force, ever emerges to civilization. Niebuhr affirms that there is not in all history a single instance of such emergence. Hence no essential advances are indigenous, but all come to it from without. These general facts perfectly harmonize with the sacred record, and help to settle this question of status at the commencement of history.

Swedenborg adopts a theory from the old Hindoo philosophy which combines the two-infancy and barbarism. He represents man as making his entrance into the world from an egg, incubated by the Supreme, on the branch of a tree. In due time the parturient branch rested its burden on a leafy coach.

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When the term of gestation was completed, the infant broke through its bars into the waiting world. From this vegetable maternity he passed slowly through childhood and youth to a mute manhood. For several generations he and his descendants had only a vegetable respiration. Their only language was the inaudible movements of the lips with the gesticulations of the face and fingers, and their only hearing through the mouth and by the Eustachian tube.

But the vegetable kingdom, according to the best lights of science, holds no maternal relation to the animal, nor filial to the mineral. God, as Creator, is, indeed, man's Father; but nature is not his mother. And the birth of one kingdom or species from another is contradicted equally by the sacred record and the natural sciences.

From all the diverse theories of spontaneous generation, of transmutation, natural selection and development, the historical and scientific thought turns away more and more unsatisfied and dissatisfied, to the simple announcements of the divine Word: “So God created man in his own image.” He starts thence, not as a philosopher, but with natural intuitions far better than inventions or mere tuitions. He possesses a rich mental and moral furniture, adequate both to the acquisition and the use of knowledge.

It is an extravagance to say with South, that "an Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam,” thongh in some respects the Adam was better than the Aristotle. For it is not mere conjecture that the first type of humanity, the starting-point of history, was neither barbarism nor infancy, but the beginning of a high moral and religious civilization.

What is civilization if its elements are not found in this period? Here, at the very first, by admission of the philologists, is language sufficient in its social and zoologic use, for both science and society. Here is the marriage relation, in the purest and most sacred monogamy--a relation which barbarism always corrupts and which modern civilization does not entirely restore, or even preserve in its primitive purity. Here, in the care of the garden, is horticulture, with its hygienic and refining influence; and here is monotheism in iis simple grandeur,—the central educating power of all that


The Trial Period in Tistory. [JCLY, iz poble and true, of which polytheism, and pantheism, and fetichism are barbaric perversions. And here, too, is the Sabbath of rest,-a heart-worship of the Supreme by souls erect in good and in God's image, as yet unmarred.

Man's first great moveinent harmonizes with this view. It shows him to be a rational being and a subject of definite law. In the keeping and culture of the garden of which he was the sole human proprietor, there was the largest liberty of enjoyment. These first occupants of the fertile and blooming earth were full of loyalty to their sovereign and happiness in each other. But their loyalty was untried.

This one, this easy charge of all the trees
In Paradise that bear delicious fruit,
So various, not to taste that only Tree
of Knowledge, planted by the Tree of Life;-
So noar grows death to life.”

Perhaps it is God's ordinance that no finite virtue can be entirely firm and trustworthy till it has passed the ordeal of temptation. Certainly it cannot be heroic till it has fought with evil and conquered. The subjects of moral government cannot become conscious of their full loyal power till they have complied with prohibitory as well as requiratory law. Neither can they attain the highest development of their upright faculties and the greatest nobleness of character, but by shunning error and evil as well as by aspirations after the good and the true. Hence every wise ruler finds it necessary to include the disciplinary force of the prohibition of wrong with the requisition of right.

These fundamental principles were operative in Paradisiacal history, and give trial as the characteristic of this first movement. All the trees of the garden were permitted to its occupants except one. The fruit of that was forbidden, and under penalty: “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

The object of this discipline and of all wise prohibitory law, is the preservation of loyalty to truth and good, and the reenforcement of virtue by a more distinct consciousness of its worth. The positive command is the formulated moral principle. It is another of the uses of this prohibition, to illustrate the liberty of will in finite agents, without which freedom they could not be the subjects of moral government.

“Many there be," says Milton, “that complain of Divine Providence for suffering Adam to transgress. Foolish tongues ! When God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing; he had been else a mere artificial Adam."

Here are some of the great principles of government, the seeds of history. And the simplicity, the apparent insignificance even of the form of the trial, instead of a stumblingblock, is a beautiful instance of that wisdom by which the weightiest results are often reached through means, to human reason, most inadequate and unfit. That this law was so simple, concise, and so perfectly intelligible, and that the consequences of disobedience were so explicitly stated, is a signal proof of Divine wisdom. Where great interests are staked on obedience, it is incompetency or despotism that leaves confusion or unnecessary complexity in legal enactments. This first statute is admirable in every quality of legislation.

Here, now, is the race introduced upon the world's great movements, in a dual unity; with their Maker for their Teacher, and the beavens and the earth for their illustrated text-books.

For a time they abide in obedience and felicity. But a dark scene soon opens. A new and disturbing agent makes his appearance. The third chapter of Genesis records a conversation between the new-made woman and a tempter in the form of the serpent. It indicates a rationality as real and palpable on the one side as the other, -inexperienced guilelessness assailed by malignant cunning and craftiness.

The term serpent, from serpo, to creep, very inadequately conveys the content of the Hebrew word, wmp. The former expresses only brute being, and the latter an investigating and shrewdly reasoning creature. The rational rules in the whole scene, and is the sole tempting force. A bold impeachment of the infinite Lawgiver, on the injustice and unreasonableness of his prohibitory enactment, opens the great trial.

The woman is taken very adroitly in the absence of her

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