'God created man in His own image: in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them; and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.'—Gen. 1:27, 28.
GOD'S purpose in the creation of man was to show forth and make visible to the universe His own unseen glory and perfection. He was not only to have single points of resemblance to God; in all he was and did upon earth he was to prove that he was indeed created in God's image and after His likeness.
The traits of that likeness were very varied and most wonderful. In the dominion he was to have over the earth, he was to exhibit the power of God as King and Ruler of the universe. In the wondrous mental powers with which he was endowed, fitting him for this work, there was to be seen the image of God as the All-wise. In his moral powers there was to be some reflection of the light that is inaccessible and full of glory: God's righteousness and holiness were to be revealed.
But then there still remained one trait of the Divine perfection, the very highest, to be set forth. God is love. As Infinite Love He lives not for Himself alone, but finds all His blessing in imparting His own life. In His bosom He has the Son of His love, begotten of the Father from eternity. In the Son He hath peopled the universe with living beings, that upon them the fulness of His love might flow out. As the Loving One He is the fountain of life; as the Living One He is the fountain of love. It was that in this, too, man might bear the image of God, that his whole life might be a life of love, and that in loving he might give life to those on whom his love might flow forth, that God created man in His image, male and female. In the home on earth, in the love of husband and wife, of parent and child, were to be reflected the love and the blessedness of the Father's home in heaven, were to be imaged forth the deepest secrets of the life of Godhead in the fellowship of the Father and the Son by the Holy Spirit.
It is to this last and highest trait of the image of Divine perfection—man's creation, to shadow forth the mystery and to enjoy the blessedness of a life in love—that we want specially to draw attention.
In undertaking the study of God's Word for the sake of discovering what it teaches us of the parental relation, we must ascend the true Mount of Sources, and follow up the stream of Divine truth to those hills of paradise whence they all take their rise. We shall find the sure foundation of the family constitution, its purpose, its law, and its glory, in the teaching of God's Word: 'God created man in His own image: in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.' Let us think of it for a moment. In God's love, and the Fatherhood which sprang from that love, we have at once the highest glory and the deepest mystery of Godhead. Because God is Love, He must needs have some worthy object on whom His love can rest, in whose fellowship His love can find its blessedness. Because He is God, the only and all-perfect One, that Son must be the only One, the Father's image, and the Heir of all things. Before the world began, from eternity, God was in Him the Most Blessed One. In God's Fatherhood of Christ is His perfection and His blessedness.
Man was created after that image of God which was seen in Christ. When man had fallen, Christ came to take us up into fellowship with Himself, to give us a share in His Sonship and Heirship, to make us too the children of God. In Him, and His life given us in regeneration, we too become the sons of God. God's Fatherhood of believers is the deepest mystery, the highest glory, the perfect blessedness of redemption. The Fatherhood of God is the summing up of the incomprehensible mystery and glory of the Divine Being.
And of this Fatherhood the father of the family on earth is to be the image and the likeness. In the life he imparts to his child, in the image he sees reflected, in the unity of which he is conscious, in the loving care he exercises, in the obedience and the trust he sees rendered to himself, in the love in which family life finds its happiness, the home and the fatherhood of earth are the image of the heavenly.
What a solemn and what a blessed view this truth gives us of the parental relation! What a sanctifying influence the right apprehension of it would have upon its privileges and its duties! How much better, in the light of this Divine origin and purpose of the family, we can understand and value our relation to our children! And how, on the other hand, all our intercourse with them would strengthen our obedience and our confidence towards the Father in heaven! We should see how the action of the heavenly and the earthly home on each other is reciprocal. Every deeper insight into the Father's love and the Father's home would elevate the intercourse in the home on earth, and enlarge our expectations as to the blessing the God who appointed it will certainly bestow upon it. And every experience of what the love and blessing of a home on earth can be would again be a ladder by which to rise up and get nearer the great Father-heart in heaven. 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth:' the two in correspondence with each other—the home in heaven, with the Father there, the original of the home on earth, and the father there.
How terrible the curse and the power of sin! Fatherhood in the likeness of God, the communication to another being of a life that was to be immortal and ever blessed, and the establishment of a home of love like that in heaven, was to have been the high privilege of man, as God created him. But alas! sin came in, and wrought a fearful ruin. The father makes the child partaker of a sinful nature; the father feels himself too sinful to be a blessing to his child; and the home, alas! is too often the path not to heaven, but to hell. But, blessed be God! what sin destroyed grace restores. And as in these meditations we follow God's revelation in regard to the family, we shall find that all the purpose and provision of God's grace point back to the restoration of what at creation was intended—the fatherhood and the motherhood of earth, with its love and its home, its care and its training of the children, the reflection and the fellowship of the home and the love of the Father in heaven.
Let every parent who feels conscious of his own shortcoming, and longs for wisdom and grace to do aright the work entrusted him, look back in faith and hope to the heavenly origin of family life. The God who created it has redeemed it too, and creates it anew. He watches over it with tender interest, and meets with His own Father-love and blessing every parent who desires to be the minister of His holy purpose. Would you truly be this, begin by making God's thought your thought; the fatherhood and the family on earth the image and the likeness of a heavenly original. Look to God as the Author of your family life; count upon Him to give all that is needed to make it what it should be. Let His Father-heart and His Father-love be your study and your stay; as you know and trust it in adoring love, the assurance will grow that He will fit you for making your home, in ever-increasing measure, the bright reflection of His own.
O Thou great and holy Creator of men! Thou hast placed me, too, in the wondrous relation of parent with a child owing its life to me. Thou wouldst give me, too, the happiness of living a life of love, the Divine joy of loving and being loved. Thou hast placed me, too, in a home which is to be the image of the home in heaven, where the Father and the Son dwell in everlasting love.
O my God! I humbly confess that I utter these words with shame. How little have the perfect love and joy, the purity and brightness of heaven, been reflected in the home given to my charge! How little I have even understood my calling, or truly aimed at the high ideal Thou hast set before me! Father, forgive us, for Jesus' sake!
And hear me, when I beseech Thee to guide my meditations, and to help me in the study of Thy Holy Word, that I may learn more fully to realize what Thy purpose is with the fatherhood and the motherhood of this earth, and with what interest and love Thou lookest on each home given up to Thy protection and guidance. Teach me to know Thee in Thy infinite Fatherliness, that the study and the experience of that Divine Original, after which the parent's heart was created, may fit me to be a true parent to my child. And let a Father's love and blessing rest on our home. Amen.