EXPLANATION OF THE CREATION AND FALL OF MAN.
Q. What kind of a being is man?Return to Table of Contents
A. Man is a being composed of soul and body.
Q. What is his body made of?
A. The dust of the earth.
Q. What is his soul made off?
A. It is created by God out of nothing.
Q. For what end did God create man?
A. To know, love, and serve him during the short course of his pilgrimage in this world, and then to be taken up to heaven, and be happy in the possession and enjoyment of God himself for all eternity.
Q. Is this possession of God in heaven due to the nature of man?
A. By no means: it was wholly an effect of the infinite goodness of God, to create man for such a glorious and supernatural end; to communicate to him the riches of his mercy, and make him supremely blest in the clear vision and enjoyment of himself for ever.
THE FIRST OF MANKIND THAT GOD CREATED.
Q. Who were the first of mankind that God created?Return to Table of Contents
A. Adam and Eve, who are our first parents, and from whom all mankind are descended.
Q. In what manner did God create them?
A. He formed the body of Adam "out of the dust of the earth, and then breathed into him the breath of life," Gen. ii. 7.; that is, "created his soul out of nothing to animate that body, and Adam became a living soul," Ibid. "Then causing a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, he took out one of his ribs, filling up its place with flesh; and the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman, and brought her to Adam," Genesis ii. 21.
Q. To whose image and likeness did he create man?
A. "God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Gen. i. 27.
Q. In what does this likeness consist?
A. In several things; for
1. As there is but one only God, and three persons in one God: so in man there is but one soul, and in this one soul there are three powers, the will, memory, and understanding, by which man, in some senses, resembles the ever blessed trinity.
2. As God is a spirit and immortal, so the soul of man is a spirit and will never die.
3. As God is the sovereign Lord of all things, and does in all creatures whatever he pleases; so he endowed man with free-will, and made him the visible sovereign over all the other creatures of this earth, "Let us make man," says God, "to our image and likeness; and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the whole earth, and every creeping thing that moveth upon the earth," Gen. i. 26.
Q. In what state did God create our first parents?
A. In the state of innocence, grace, and happiness.
Q. What do you mean by the state of innocence?
A. That at their creation they were free from any the smallest pollution of sin, and pure and unspotted before God. "This I know, that God made man upright," Ecclus. vii. 30.
Q. What do you mean by the state of grace?Return to Table of Contents
A. That they were adorned with the grace of God, called also original justice, or righteousness, which God communicated to their souls, making them beautiful and truly holy before him. Thus St. Paul, exhorting us to be renewed in the spirit to that original justice to which our first parents were created, says, "Put on the new man, who, according to God, is created in justice and holiness of truth," Ephesians iv. 24.
Q. Was this original righteousness due to their nature?
A. By no means: it was a free gift of the goodness of God.
Q. Why did he bestow it upon them?
A. Because, as he was pleased, out of his great goodness, to create them for a supernatural end, to wit, the enjoyment of himself in heaven: so out of the same goodness, he bestowed original justice upon them, as the necessary help to enable them to attain that end.
Q. What benefit did they receive from this original justice?
A. First, It sanctified them, or made them truly holy before God, objects of his delight and complacency.
Second, It subjected all their senses, appetites, and passions to reason.
Third, It rendered their reason and their whole soul subject to the will of God; and,
Fourth, It was the source and support of the happiness they enjoyed.
THE STATE OF HAPPINESS.
Q. What do you mean by the state of happiness?Return to Table of Contents
A. That, being free from all state of sin, and adorned with original justice, they were on that account free from all sufferings, and enjoyed a perfect happiness both in soul and body, suitable to their nature, and the state they were in.
Q. In what did this happiness consist?
A. Chiefly in the following particulars:
First, They were endowed with great knowledge of every thing relating to their state and the reset of the creatures. Thus, "God created man - and created of him a helpmate like to himself:he gave them counsel, and a tongue, and eyes, and ears, and a heart to devise, and he filled them with the knowledge of understanding; he created in them the science of the spirit; he filled their heart with wisdom, and showed them both good and evil," Ecclus, xvii. 5.
Second, They were free from all those passions and irregular desires and appetites, which so violently torment our souls; for, "God made man upright," Eccles. vii. 30.; and of course they enjoyed a perpetual peace and serenity of mind.
Third, Their hearts were inclined to all good, and their wills united to God by holy love.
Fourth, Their bodies were free from all sickness and pain, and enjoyed a perpetual health.
Fifth, They were not subject to death; but, after serving God for a time upon earthy, were to have been translated, both soul and body, without passing through the gates of death, to enjoy him for ever in heaven: for "God created man incorruptible," Wisd. ii. 23.
THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
Q. Where did God place our first parents when he had created them?Return to Table of Contents
A. "The Lord God had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning, wherein the placed man whom he had formed. And the Lord God brought forth from the ground all manner of trees, fair to behold and pleasant to eat of. - And the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise of pleasure, to dress it and to keep it," Gen. ii. 8, 9, 15. This was a garden planted by the hand of God, and filled with every thing that could make them happy.
Q. Were they allowed to eat of all the fruit of this garden?
A. They were allowed to eat of every thing this garden produced, except the fruit of one tree, which God forbade them under pain of death, to touch. And God "commanded him, saying: Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat; for in what day soever thou shalt eat of it thou salt die the death," Gen. ii. 16.
THOU SHALT DIE THE DEATH.
Q. What means, thou shalt die the death?Return to Table of Contents
A. It means, in the day thou eatest of that fruit, thou shalt immediately die the death of the soul, by committing a mortal sin; thou shalt be subjected to the death of the body, and return to the dust from whence thou art made: and after that to the death, both of soul and body, in hell-fire for all eternity.
Q. Why did God lay this command upon them?
A. To exercise their obedience, and be a continual testimony of their subject to God, and of their dependence upon him.
Q. Did our first parents continue in this happy state?
A. No; they fell from it, by transgressing this easy command of God their maker, and eating this forbidden fruit.
THE FALLEN ANGELS.
Q. Who tempted them to commit this crime?Return to Table of Contents
A. Satan, the chief of the fallen angels; who appearing to Eve in the serpent, seduced her to eat of the fruit, and she having eat it herself, carried it to her husband, and persuaded him to do the same.
Q. What account does the scripture give of this?
A. "And the serpent said to the woman, Why hath God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? And the woman answered him, saying, Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. And the serpent said to the woman, No, you shall not die the death; for God doth know, that in what day soever you do eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And the woman saw the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold, and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband, who did eat," Gen. iii.
Q. What moved the devil to tempt them to this sin?
A. Envy at their happiness; for "God created man incorruptible - but by the envy of the devil death came into the world," Wisd. ii. 24.; and it was by tempting them to this sin that death was introduced: for, "by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death," Rom. v. 12.
CONSEQUENCES OF DISOBEDIENCE.
Q. What were the consequences of their disobedience? Did they become as gods?Return to Table of Contents
A. Quite the reverse. Instead of that, they immediately lost "their innocence," bringing upon themselves the dreadful guilt of mortal sin: they were deprived of the sublime treasure of "original justice:' for by this sin the grace of God was banished from their souls; and they lost "their happiness," and became miserable both in soul and body. In consequence of all which, they became objects of the wrath and indignation of God, whom they had offended, slaves of the devil, whose service they had voluntarily preferred to the service of God, and they lost all right and title to eternal happiness.
Q. In what respect did they become miserable as to their soul?
A. Their understanding was darkened, and subject to ignorance and error; their will was turned away from God, and violently bent upon evil; and their passions rebelled against reason, and tormented their minds.
Q. How did they become miserable as to their bodies?
A. Their bodies were subjected to all manner of sickness and diseases, to innumerable pains and torments, to death itself in this world, and to be reduced to the dust from which they were made, and at last both soul and body to hell fire.
Q. What does the scripture say to this?
A. "And to the woman God said, I will multiply thy sorrows and thy conceptions; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said - Cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. - In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the earth out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return," Gen. iii.
Q. Are all mankind born under the guilt of this sin of our first parents?
A. Yes, we are; for, "by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned," Rom. v. 12.
Q. What is this sin called in us?
A. Original sin.
Q. Why so?
A. Both because we derive it from our first parents, who were the origin or beginning of all mankind, and also because we contract it from the first origin of our being, that is, the very moment we are conceived in our mother's womb, according to that of the prophet, "Behold I was conceived in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me," Ps. 1. 7.
Q. Are we also subjected to all these miseries, both of soul and body, which this sin brought upon our first parents?
A. Yes, we are: "for we are by nature children of wrath," Ephes. ii. 3.; being all born under the guilt of this their sin, and deprived of that original justice in which they were created, and on that account subjected to the dominion of Satan and without any right or title to heaven, where we can never enter so long as this original guilt remains upon our souls: Our minds are darkened with error and ignorance, as experience itself shows; "the thoughts of our hearts are bent upon evil at all times," Gen. vi. 5.; by which we are daily hurried on to the numberless sins we commit ourselves: And as for the torments and pains to which we are liable, both in mind and body, who can enumerate them? "Man born of a woman," saith Job, "living for a short time, is filled with many miseries," Job xiv. 1. "For what profit hath man of all his labour and vexation of spirit, with which he hath been tormented under the sun? All his days are full of sorrows and miseries, even in the night he doth not rest in mind; and is not this vanity?" Eccles. ii. 22, 23.
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