The writer well remembers the sensation that occurred when Darwin gave to the world his theory of evolution, and it was triumphantly affirmed everywhere that men were descended from monkeys.
The truth is, that man so hated God’s Word and was so anxious to get rid of it, that he was quite prepared to acclaim the monkey as his ancestor. Darwin, indeed, admitted that there was a missing link, but unbelief in God did not hesitate to leap the intervening space between link and link, and hasten to welcome as established truth, this latest expression of “science, falsely so called.” Thousands of young men had their confidence in the Bible shaken by this theory, and many were engulfed in the negations of infidelity.
True, the theory did not and could not deny the Creator, though it tended that way. If the spontaneous generation of life could have been proved, the Creator would have been unceremoniously bowed out of the universe. But though infidel scientists laboured hard to prove it, they have been compelled to admit that the proofs were all the other way. So that even the Darwinian theory led its followers up to a blank wall, for if man came through many stages of protoplasm, with its marvellous potentialities, who created the protoplasm?
But if man were descended from protoplasm then the Bible story of the creation of man must be disbelieved. And if the first chapter in the Bible indulged in such a fairy tale, where was the credibility of the rest of the Book? Gone! Nay more, Luke tells us that our Lord was descended from Adam, and Paul tells us “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” So that both Luke and Paul were wrong if Darwin is right. Just as a bridge depends for its stability on every stone in the arch, so if Darwins theory were true, in logical sequence the whole structure of Christianity would collapse; the inspiration of the Scriptures, the truth as to the person and work of Christ, and the very character of God would be undermined. Years have rolled by. The Darwinian theory has been given up as untenable in the highest scientific quarters. But meantime, it has wrought frightful and irreparable havoc. The missing link has indeed been proved to be an impassable abyss. God and His Word have again been triumphant, as they must ever be.
For the Christian, one verse of Scripture annihilates the Darwinian theory. “All flesh is not the same flesh: for there is one flesh of men, another flesh of beasts [including monkeys], another of fishes, and another of birds” (1 Cor. 15:39). The flesh of the monkey and the flesh of man are not the same. God has created them different, and for ever denies to man the right to trace his ancestry to the beast. “Adam the Son of God” is the statement of Scripture. As the head of the race, Adam hands on to his descendants, responsibilities towards God which none can safely or wisely ignore.
The consideration of the striking difference between man and the lower creation cannot fail to be useful.
God’s Image and Likeness
Man was created in God’s image and likeness, Genesis 1:26 tells us. This is never said of the lower creation. It immediately stamps man as God’s masterpiece in the creation of this world. As God’s image he was created as the representative of God in relation to the lower creation; as God’s likeness, to set forth, in the measure in which God has made him such, the character of God.
Does the lower creation know anything higher than man? Does it know any conduct superior to man’s? It cannot.
Moreover, man was made in God’s image and likeness that God might have pleasure in him. Alas! how quickly he fell, and like a battered and much-worn coin, which has well-nigh lost the likeness of the king’s head upon it, so is man in his fallen estate.
Man, the Head of Creation
God brought the animals ‘including the monkey’ to be named by Adam, thus showing how God set him as head of creation. It is remarkable that this should be so before the woman was formed, thus expressing the sole undisputed headship of the man. 1 Corinthians 11:3 says distinctly, “The head of the woman is the man.”
In nothing is the distinction between man and the lower creation more seen than in this. The animals mate at will. Their choice, generally speaking, is promiscuous. With them there is no marriage ceremony. How different with man! God provides him with a bride and institutes marriage, thus forming, and designedly so, a beautiful type of Christ and the church.
Let us now consider the physical and mental differences between man and the lower creation.
Man’s Upright Gait
Man has been described as the creature with the unturned eve. Alone of all the creation, has he two feet upon which he can characteristically stand, enabling him to easily and naturally turn his eye heavenward. When Saul of Tarsus was stricken down by the light above the brightness of the sun, he was bidden by the Lord, “But rise, and stand upon thy feet” (Acts 26:16).
There is a great gulf fixed between man and the lower creation, in that man alone has speech. A parrot may scream, a monkey may chatter, a horse may neigh, a nightingale may trill, but man alone has the power of speech.
Listen to the cries of the lower creation, and compare with them the glowing periods of a Demosthenes, a Cicero, a Chatham, and behold the impassable chasm between man and the beast.
And why did God endow man with speech, necessitating a brain with special powers of memory, induction, clarity, organization and a thousand subtleties besides? We make bold to say that it was that God might commune with man, and man with God.
Reader, do you use the power of speech for God’s glory? Do you commune with Him? Or do you use your tongue merely for your own pleasure? Above all, have you used your tongue to confess the peerless name of Jesus?
This is the speech of harmony, and is likewise only possessed by mane. We speak of the song of the bird, but that is the mere repetition of a few notes. The nightingales lovely trill is just the same in A.D. 1921 as it was in B.C. 4000. The sparrow’s chirp is just the same as it ever was, and cannot emulate the note of the nightingale. Listen to the creations in melody of a Beethoven, a Mendelssohn, a Hadyn, the massive and multitudinous harmonies of an oratorio, and again behold the impassable chasm between man and the lower creation.
And why should God confer this power upon man? For answer, ponder the significance of the fact that the first time actual song is mentioned in the Bible is Exodus 15 where we read, “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord.” The first song was that of redemption it is quite comprehensible that Genesis should be full of weeping, the result of the fall, and that singing should be connected with redemption and the praise of God. Reader, have you ever sung to God the song of redemption?
This might be called the speech of silence. It is the means of communication when distance or other circumstances forbid vocal interchange of words.
The first mention of writing in the Bible is when “the Lord said unto Moses, write this for a memorial in a book” (Ex. 17:14). And from this small beginning of God communicating His thoughts in writing to man, we get the full development in the Bible, in which all God’s counsels and glories are made known.
The first and greatest reason for writing is that God may make known His mind to man. A neglected Bible then is one of the most terrible of sins. Alas! how common it is. Have you read your Bible?
Between the magnificent powers of speech of a Demosthenes and the chatter of an ape; the powers of harmony of a Beethoven and the cheerful chirp of the house sparrow, a comparison though unnecessary and absurd, is possible. But between the writing of man and efforts of the beasts in communicating thought to each other there is absolutely none.
Reading is the corollary of writing. If the chief result of writing is the Bible, then the perusal of it is the chief use of the ability to read. The reading of the law is the first mention of reading in the Bible. (See Exodus 24:7.) How beautifully the Apostle Paul reminds Timothy that from a child he knew the holy Scriptures, which were able to make him wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).
When Sir Walter Scott lay dying, he said to his son-in-law, “Lockhart read to me.” When that writer of many books was asked, “What book shall I read?” he replied. “There is only one—the Bible.” Yes, when eternity is in full view, one can understand such a reply. Oh! to value the Word of God aright.
The three Rs—the attainment of the plough-boy and the seamstress—are really wonderful and mark off man in a very distinct way from the lower creation.
What does a wise sheep dog know of logarithms, or a goose of algebra, or a horse of quadratic equations?
Alive to the responsibility and privilege of such a power of that as calculation the Psalmist could pray. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
Under this heading we place the designing and using of tools, whether it be the simple hammer and nail or the magnificent cantilever bridge that spans the Forth; whether it be the saw and screwdriver, or the scales that can accurately weigh to the thousandth part of an ounce, or the power of lighting a fire.
Alas! does anything show what man is more than this, first in the wonderful powers of mind God has given him, second in the use he has made of these powers? We read in 2 Chronicles 26:15, “And Uzziah made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal.” Is this not an Old Testament anticipation of modern horrors, mine, warplane, howitzer, dreadnought, submarine, poison gas, and other terrible engines of destruction. Man’s inventive genius is mainly on this line, alas!
How innocent the lower creation is of all this. Whoever heard of the monkeys starting a Krupp Arsenal in the depths of the African forest? If all we have said has shown how wonderful man is as created by God, the actual use he has made of his powers only show how terrible beyond words is his fall.
The Knowledge of Approaching Death
In this man stands alone. The brute creation have no such knowledge. They are not “through fear of death … all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:15), as man is. The reason is very simple. The creature dies as being under Adam’s headship. If the head fell he dragged all else under him in the consequences of his fall. But though the creature dies it knows it not, because it is not responsible, and moreover when dead perishes completely as if it had never been.
Man on the contrary is filled with the apprehension of death. It is a proof of the immortality of the soul, so distinctly affirmed by Scripture, and this knowledge is shared by the darkest heathen, who have never heard of a Bible or its contents. It is the solemn judgment of God because of his sin and this knowledge is God’s mercy to him, because God has provided a way of deliverance. For this reason the Son of God became flesh and died on the cross, that atonement being affected, man might be delivered. This is the theme of the gospel.
To sum up, man has wonderful powers conferred upon him. Speech that he might commune with God, express his delight in God in worship, his dependence on God in prayer. Writing that God might communicate His thoughts to man. Reading that man might receive communications. Song that man might praise God. Reason that man might reflect on these things.
Alas! how great is the fall. How misused the powers of speech, writing, printing, reading are! How degraded is man’s reason! How small and powerless he is in the presence of death! The most wonderful orator can make no impression on death no treatise, however skilfully written, can influence death; no song can charm death.
May the consideration of these things give the reader a truer sense of the awful abyss of man’s fall, ruin and destruction; a true sense that nothing but a new creation will do for God—“Ye must be born again”—a true sense that the gospel is the only remedy for sin; and if a Christian, a deeper sense of his responsibility to use speech, writing, reading, song, and all besides to the glory of God
Man cultivating his powers apart from God produces such scenes as the French Revolution, the Armenian massacres, and the excesses of Bolshevism. In the end ANTICHRIST will be the full blown result, bringing forth God’s unsparing judgment.
The wonderful powers God has conferred upon man are for His own glory, and not for man’s, and if used for self-glorification in any shape or form are only degraded and perverted.
May God give us a deep sense of humility and responsibility to Him. May our lives be alone for His glory.