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by Dr. John Thomas
"Let them have dominion".
The garden being prepared in Eden, the Lord placed the man there whom He had formed.
It was there the "deep sleep" came over him, and he first beheld his bride.
They were now settled in Paradise; and, protected by its enclosure from the intrusion of the inferior creatures, they passed their days in blissful tranquillity; innocent of transgression, and in peaceful harmony with God and the creatures He had made.
Adam dressed the garden and kept it.
This was his occupation.
Though as yet sinless, it was no part of his enjoyments to be idle.
To eat bread in the sweat of the face is sorrowful; but to work without toil is an element of health and cheerfulness; and is doubtless the rule of life to all the intelligences of the universe of God.
But he was not simply an inhabitant of the Paradise, placed there "to dress and keep it".
The work before him was to begin the replenishing and subjugation of the earth.
For in the blessing pronounced upon them, God said, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it".
The material was all before him.
The earth was to be peopled; and the culture of the garden, as the model of improvement, to be extended as his posterity spread themselves over its surface.
This command to "replenish the earth" strengthens my previous conclusion, that the earth had been inhabited at some period anterior to the creation of the six days; and that its population had all been swept away by a catastrophe similar to the Noachic flood.
That "replenish" means to fill the earth again, is manifest from the use of the word in the blessing pronounced upon Noah.
As it is written, "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth".
There is no room for dispute here.
Every one must admit that it signifies to fill again; for, having been filled by Adam, all his posterity, except eight persons, were swept away by the deluge; and Noah and his sons were to supply their place, or refill it, as at this day.
I see, therefore, no good reason why the same word should not be similarly interpreted in both cases; which I have concluded to do.
Man's conquests in a sinless state were to be over rocks, mountains, seas, and rivers, by which he might subdue them to his own convenience and enjoyment; and, perhaps, had he continued innocent of transgression until his mission was accomplished; that is, until by his faithfulness he had filled the earth again with people, and had subdued it from its natural wildness to a paradise state -- his nature would have been exalted to an equality with the Elohim; and the earth, without any violent changes, have become his dwelling-place for ever.
But, the Creator foreseeing that man would transgress, laid the foundation of the earth upon such principles as would afterwards accommodate it to his altered circumstances.
Had He foreseen a result different from what has actually come to pass, He would, doubtless, have framed or constituted it with reference to that result.
But, while He did not necessitate man's transgression, His plan was to constitute a natural world with reference to it as its basis; and then, on the other hand, without necessitating man's obedience, to constitute a spiritual, or incorruptible, order of things upon the earth, having an intelligent and voluntary conformity to His precepts, as the foundation upon which it should be built.