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The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended (PART 4)

Theological Writings of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

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The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended (PART 4)

PART IV

CONTAINING ANSWERS TO OBJECTIONS

CHAPTER I

CONCERNING THE OBJECTION, THAT TO SUPPOSE MEN BORN IN SIN, WITHOUT THEIR CHOICE, OR ANY PREVIOUS ACT OF THEIR OWN, IS TO SUPPOSE WHAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE NATURE OF SIN

SOME of the objections made against the doctrine of original sin, which have reference to particular arguments used in defense of it, have been already considered in the handling of those arguments. What I shall therefore now consider, are such objections as I have not yet had occasion to notice.

There is no argument Dr. T. insists more upon, than that which is taken from the Arminian and Pelagian notion of freedom of will, consisting in the will’s self-determination, as necessary to the being of moral good or evil. He often urges, that if we come into the world infected with sinful and depraved dispositions, then sin must be natural to us; and if natural, then necessary; and if necessary, then no sin, nor anything we are blamable for, or that can in any respect be our fault, being what we cannot help: and he urges, that sin must proceed from our own choice, etc.

Here I would observe in general, that the forementioned notion of freedom of will, as essential to moral agency, and necessary to the very existence of virtue and sin, seems to be a grand favorite point with Pelagians and Arminians, and all divines of such characters, in their controversies with the orthodox. There is no one thing more fundamental in their schemes of religion: on the determination of this one leading point depends the issue of almost all controversies we have with such divines. Nevertheless, it seems a needless task for me particularly to consider that matter in this place; having already largely discussed it, with all the main grounds of this notion, and the arguments used to defend it, in a late book on this subject, to which I ask leave to refer the reader. It is very necessary, that the modern prevailing doctrine concerning this point, should be well understood, and therefore thoroughly considered and examined: for without it there is no hope of putting an end to the controversy about original sin, and innumerable other controversies that subsist, about many of the main points of religion. I stand ready to confess to the forementioned modern divines, if they can maintain their peculiar notion of freedom, consisting in the self-determining power of the will, as necessary to moral agency, and can thoroughly establish it in opposition to the arguments lying against it, then they have an impregnable castle, to which they may repair, and remain invincible, in all the controversies they have with the reformed divines, concerning original sin, the sovereignty of grace, election, redemption, conversion, the efficacious operation of the Holy Spirit, the nature of saving faith, perseverance of the saints, and other principles of the like kind. However, at the same time, I think this will be as strong a fortress for the Deists, in common with them; as the great doctrines, subverted by their notion of freedom, are so plainly and abundantly taught in the Scripture. But I am under no apprehensions of any danger, which the cause of Christianity, or the religion of the reformed, is in, from any possibility of that notion being ever established, or of its being ever evinced that there is not proper, perfect, and manifold demonstration lying against it. But as I said, it would be needless for me to enter into a particular disquisition of this point here; from which I shall easily be excused by any reader who is willing to give himself the trouble of consulting what I have already written. And as to others, probably they will scarce be at the pains of reading the present discourse; or at least would not, if it should be enlarged by a full consideration of that controversy.

I shall at this time therefore only take notice of some gross inconsistencies that Dr. T. has been guilty of, in his handling this objection against the doctrine of original sin. In places which have been cited, he says, that sin must proceed from our own choice: and that if it does not, it being necessary to us, it cannot be sin, it cannot be our fault, or what we are to blame for: and therefore all our sin must be chargeable on our choice, which is the cause of sin: for he says, the cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth, and which proceedeth from it (Page 128). Now here are implied several gross contradictions. He greatly insists, that nothing can be sinful, or have the nature of sin, but what proceeds from our choice. Nevertheless he says, “Not the effect, but the cause alone is chargeable with blame.” Therefore the choice, which is the cause, is alone blamable, or has the nature of sin; and not the effect of that choice. Thus nothing can be sinful, but the effect of choice; and yet the effect of choice never can be sinful, but only the cause, which alone is chargeable with all the blame.

Again, the choice, from which sin proceeds, is itself sinful. Not only is this implied in his saying, “The cause alone is chargeable with all the blame;” but he expressly speaks of the choice as faulty (Page 190), and calls that choice wicked, from which depravity and corruption proceeds (Page 200. See also p. 216). Now if the choice itself be sin, and there be no sin but what proceeds from a sinful choice, then the sinful choice must proceed from another antecedent choice; it must be chosen by a foregoing act of will, determining itself to that sinful choice, that so it may have that which he speaks of as absolutely essential to the nature of sin, namely, that it proceeds from our choice, and does not happen to us necessarily. But if the sinful choice itself proceeds from a foregoing choice, then also that foregoing choice must be sinful; it being the cause of sin, and so alone chargeable with the blame. Yet if that foregoing choice be sinful, then neither must that happen to us necessarily, but must likewise proceed from choice, another act of choice preceding that: for we must remember, that “Nothing is sinful but what proceeds from our choice.” And then, for the same reason, even this prior choice, last mentioned, must also be sinful, being chargeable with all the blame of that consequent evil choice, which was its effect. And so we must go back till we come to the very first volition, the prime or original act of choice in the whole chain. And this to be sure must be a sinful choice, because this is the origin or primitive cause of all the train of evils which follow; and according to our author, must therefore be “alone chargeable with all the blame.” And yet so it is, according to him, this “cannot be sinful,” because it does not “proceed from our own choice,” or any foregoing act of our will; it being, by the supposition, the very first act of will in the case. And therefore it must be necessary, as to us, having no choice of ours to be the cause of it.

In p. 232 he says, “Adam’s sin was from his own disobedient will; and so must every man’s sin, and all the sin in the world be, as well as his.” By this, it seems, he must have a disobedient will” before he sins; for the cause must be before the effect: and yet that disobedient will itself is sinful; otherwise it could not be called disobedient. But the question is, How do men come by the disobedient will, this cause of all the sin in the world? It must not come necessarily, without men’s choice; for if so, it is not sin, nor is there any disobedience in it. Therefore that disobedient will must also come from a disobedient will; and so on, in infinitum. Otherwise it must be supposed, that there is some sin in the world, which does not come from a disobedient will: contrary to our author’s dogmatical assertions.

In p. 166. S. he says, “Adam could not sin without a sinful inclination.” Here he calls that inclination itself sinful, which is the principle from whence sinful acts proceed; as elsewhere he speaks of the disobedient will from whence all sin comes: and he allows [Contents of Rom. chap. 7 in Notes on the epistle.], that “the law reaches to all the latent principles of sin;” meaning plainly, that it forbids, and threatens punishment for, those latent principles. Now these latent principles of sin, these sinful inclinations, without which, according to our author, there can be no sinful act, cannot all proceed from a sinful choice; because that would imply great contradiction. For, by the supposition, they are the principles from whence a sinful choice comes, and whence all sinful acts of will proceed; and there can be no sinful act without them. So that the first latent principles and inclinations, from whence all sinful acts proceed, are sinful; and yet they are not sinful, because they do not proceed from a wicked choice, without which, according to him, “nothing can be sinful.”

Dr. T. speaking of that proposition of the Assembly of Divines, wherein they assert, that man is by nature utterly corrupt, etc. (Page 125) thinks himself well warranted, by the supposed great evidence of these his contradictory notions, to say, “Therefore sin is not natural to us; and therefore I shall not scruple to say, this proposition in the Assembly of Divines is FALSE.” But it may be worthy of consideration, whether it would not have greatly become him, before he had clothed himself with so much assurance, and proceeded, on the foundation of these his notions, so magisterially to charge the Assembly’s proposition with falsehood, to have taken care that his own propositions, which he has set in opposition to them, should be a little more consistent; that he might not have contradicted himself, while contradicting them; lest some impartial judges, observing his inconsistency, should think they had warrant to declare with equal assurance, that “they should not scruple to say, Dr. T.’s doctrine is FALSE.”

PART IV

CHAPTER II

CONCERNING THE OBJECTION, AGAINST THE DOCTRINE OF NATIVE CORRUPTION, THAT TO SUPPOSE MEN RECEIVE THEIR FIRST EXISTENCE IN SIN, IS TO MAKE HIM WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF THEIR BEING, THE AUTHOR OF THEIR DEPRAVITY

ONE argument against a supposed native, sinful depravity, which Dr. T. greatly insists upon, is, “that this does in effect charge him, who is the author of our nature, who formed us in the womb, with being the author of a sinful corruption of nature; and that it is highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature to be originally corrupted, and that in the worst sense of corruption [p. 137, 187-189, 256, 258, 260. 143. S. and other places.].

With respect to this, I would observe, in the first place, that this writer, in handling this grand objection, supposes something to belong to the doctrine objected against, as maintained by the divines whom he is opposing, which does not belong to it, nor follow from it. As particularly, he supposes the doctrine of original sin to imply, that nature must be corrupted by some positive influence; “something , by some means or other, infused into the human minds, but like a taint, tincture, or infection, altering the natural constitution, faculties, and dispositions of our souls (Page 187). That sin and evil dispositions are IMPLANTED in the fetus in the womb” [Page 146, 148, 149. S. and the like in many other places.]. Whereas truly our doctrine neither implies nor infers any such thing. In order to account for a sinful corruption of nature, yea, a total native depravity of the heart of man, there is not the least need of supposing any evil quality, infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man, by any positive cause, or influence whatsoever, either from God, or the creature; or of supposing, that man is conceived and born with a fountain of evil in his heart, such as is anything properly positive. I think, a little attention to the nature of things will be sufficient to satisfy any impartial considerate inquirer, that the absence of positive good principles, and so the withholding of a special divine influence to impart and maintain those good principles — leaving the common natural principles of self-love, natural appetite, etc. to themselves, without the government of superior divine principles — will certainly be followed with the corruption; yea, the total corruption of the heart, without occasion for any positive influence at all: and that it was thus in fact that corruption of nature came on Adam, immediately on his fall, and comes on all his posterity, as sinning in him, and falling with him.

The case with man was plainly this: when God made man at first, he implanted in him two kinds of principles. There was an inferior kind, which may be called NATURAL, being the principles of mere human nature; such as self-love, with those natural appetites and passions, which belong to the nature of man, in which his love to his own liberty, honor, and pleasure, were exercised: these, when alone, and left to themselves, are what the Scriptures sometimes call FLESH. Besides these, there were superior principles, that were spiritual, holy, and divine, summarily comprehended in divine love; wherein consisted the spiritual image of God, and man’s righteousness and true holiness; which are called in Scripture the divine nature. These principles may, in some sense, be called SUPERNATURAL, being (however concreated or connate, yet) such as are above those principles that are essentially implied in, or necessarily resulting from and inseparably connected with, mere human nature; and being such as immediately depend on man’s union and communion with God, or divine communications and influences of God’s Spirit: which though withdrawn, and man’s nature forsaken of these principles, human nature would be human nature still; man’s nature, as such, being entire without these divine principles, which the Scripture sometimes calls SPIRIT, in contradistinction to flesh. These superior principles were given to possess the throne, and maintain an absolute dominion in the heart; the other to be wholly subordinate and subservient. And while things continued thus, all was in excellent order, peace, and beautiful harmony, and in a proper and perfect state. These divine principles thus reigning, were the dignity, life, happiness, and glory of man’s nature. When man sinned and broke God’s covenant, and fell under his curse, these superior principles left his heart: for indeed God then left him; that communion with God on which these principles depended, entirely ceased; the Holy Spirit, that divine inhabitant, forsook the house. Because it would have been utterly improper in itself, and inconsistent with the constitution God had established, that he should still maintain communion with man, and continue by his friendly, gracious, vital influences, to dwell with him and in him, after he was become a rebel, and had incurred God’s wrath and curse. Therefore immediately the superior divine principles wholly ceased; so light ceases in a room when the candle is withdrawn; and thus man was left in a state of darkness, woeful corruption, and ruin; nothing but flesh without spirit. The inferior principles of self-love, and natural appetite, which were given only to serve, being alone, and left to themselves, of course became reigning principles; having no superior principles to regulate or control them, they became absolute masters of the heart. The immediate consequence of which was a fatal catastrophe, a turning of all things upside down, and the succession of a state of the most odious and dreadful confusion. Man immediately set up himself, and the objects of his private affections and appetites, as supreme; and so they took the place of God. These inferior principles are like fire in a house; which, we say, is a good servant, but a bad master; very useful while kept in its place, but if left to take possession of the whole house, soon brings all to destruction. Man’s love to his own honor, separate interest, and private pleasure, which before was wholly subordinate unto love to God, and regard to his authority and glory, now disposes and impels him to pursue those objects, without regard to God’s honor, or law; because there is no true regard to these divine things left in him. In consequence of which, he seeks those objects as much when against God’s honor and law, as when agreeable to them. God still continuing strictly to require supreme regard to himself, and forbidding all undue gratifications of these inferior passions — but only in perfect subordination to the ends, and agreeableness to the rules and limits, which his holiness, honor, and law prescribe — hence immediately arises enmity in the heart, now wholly under the power of self-love; and nothing but war ensues, in a constant course, against God, As, when a subject has once renounced his lawful sovereign, and set up a pretender in his stead, a state of enmity and war against his rightful king necessarily ensues. It were easy to show, how every lust, and depraved disposition of man’s heart, would naturally arise from this private original, if here were room for it. Thus it is easy to give an account, how total corruption of heart should follow on man’s eating the forbidden fruit, though that was but one act of sin, without God putting any evil into his heart, or implanting any bad principle, or infusing any corrupt taint, and so becoming the author of depravity. Only God’s withdrawing, as it was highly proper and necessary that he should, from rebel-man, and his natural principles being left to themselves, is sufficient to account for his becoming entirely corrupt, and bent on sinning against God.

And as Adam’s nature became corrupt, without God’s implanting or infusing of any evil thing into it; so does the nature of his posterity. God dealing with Adam as the head of his posterity (as has been shown), and treating them as one, he deals with his posterity as having all sinned in him. And therefore, as God withdrew spiritual communion, and his vital gracious influence, from the common head, so he withholds the same from all the members, as they come into existence; whereby they come into the world mere flesh, and entirely under the government of natural and inferior principles; and so become wholly corrupt, as Adam did.

Now, for God so far to have the disposal of this affair, as to withhold those influences, without which, nature will be corrupt, is not to be the author of sin. But, concerning this, I must refer the reader to what I have said of it in my discourse on the Freedom of the Will [Part IV § 9.]. Though, besides what I have there said, I may here observe, that if for God so far to order and dispose the being of sin, as to permit it, by withholding the gracious influences necessary to prevent it, is for him to be the author of sin, then some things which Dr. T. himself lays down, will equally be attended with this very consequence. For, from time to time he speaks of God giving men up to the vilest lusts and affections, by permitting, or leaving them [Key, § 388, note: and Par. on Rom. 1:24.]. Now, if the continuance of sin, and its increase and prevalence, may be in consequence of God’s disposal, in withholding needful grace, without God being the author of that continuance and prevalence of sin; then, by parity of reason, may the being of sin, in the race of Adam, be in consequence of God’s disposal, by his withholding that grace which is needful to prevent it, without his being the author of sin.

If here it should be said, that God is not the author of sin, in giving up to sin those who have already made themselves sinful, because when men have once made themselves sinful, their continuing so, and sin prevailing in them, and becoming more and more habitual, will follow in a course of nature: I answer, let that be remembered which this writer so greatly urges, in opposition to them who suppose original corruption comes in a course of nature, viz. That the course of nature is nothing without God. He utterly rejects the notion of the “course of nature’s being a proper active cause, which will work, and go on by itself, without God, if he lets or permits it.” [Page 134. S. See also with what vehemence this is urged in p. 137. S.] But affirms, “That the course of nature, separate from the agency of God, is no cause or nothing; and that the course of nature should continue itself, or go on to operate by itself, any more than at first produce itself, is absolutely impossible.” These strong expressions are his. Therefore, to explain the continuance of the habits of sin in the same person, when once introduced, yea, to explain the very being of any such habits, in consequence of repeated acts, our author must have recourse to those same principles, which he rejects as absurd to the utmost degree, when alleged to explain the corruption of nature in the posterity of Adam. For, that habits, either good or bad, should continue, after being once established, or that habits should be settled and have existence in consequence of repeated acts, can be owing only to a course of nature, and those laws of nature which God has established.

That the posterity of Adam should be born without holiness, and so with a depraved nature, comes to pass as much by the established course of nature, as the continuance of a corrupt disposition in a particular person, after he once has it; or as much as Adam’s continuing unholy and corrupt, after he had once lost his holiness. For Adam’s posterity are from him, and as it were in him, and belonging to him, according to an established course of nature, as much as the branches of a tree are, according to a course of nature, from the tree, in the tree, and belonging to the tree; or (to make use of the comparison which Dr. T. himself chooses from time to time, as proper to illustrate the matter, page 146, 187) just as the acorn is derived from the oak. And I think, the acorn is as much derived from the oak, according to the course of nature, as the buds and branches. It is true, that God, by his own almighty power, creates the soul of the infant; and it is also true, as Dr. T. often insists, that God, by his immediate power, forms and fashions the body of the infant in the womb; yet he does both according to that course of nature, which he has been pleased to establish. The course of nature is demonstrated, by late improvements in philosophy, to be indeed what our author himself says it is, viz. Nothing but the established order of the agency and operation of the author of nature. And though there be the immediate agency of God in bringing the soul into existence in generation, yet it is done according to the method and order established by the author of nature, as much as his producing the bud, or the acorn of the oak; and as much as his continuing a particular person in being, after he once has existence. God’s immediate agency in bringing the soul of a child into being, is as much according to an established order, as his immediate agency in any of the works of nature whatsoever. It is agreeable to the established order of nature, that the good qualities wanting in the tree, should also be wanting in the branches and fruit. It is agreeable to the order of nature, that when a particular person is without good moral qualities in his heart, he should continue without them, till some new cause or efficiency produces them. And it is as much agreeable to an established course and order of nature, that since Adam, the head of mankind, the root of that great tree with many branches springing from it, was deprived of original righteousness, the branches should come forth without it. Or, if any dislike the word nature, as used in this last case, and instead of it choose to call it a constitution, or established order of successive events, the alteration of the name will not in the least alter the state of the present argument. Where the name, nature, is allowed without dispute, no more is meant than an established method and order of events, settled and limited by divine wisdom.

If any should object to this, that if the want of original righteousness be thus according to an established course of nature, then why are not principles of holiness, when restored by divine grace, also communicated to posterity; I answer, The divine law and establishments of the author of nature, are precisely settled by him as he pleaseth, and limited by his wisdom. Grace is introduced among the race of man by a new establishment; not on the ground of God’s original establishment, as the head of the natural world, and author of the first creation; but by a constitution of a vastly higher kind; wherein Christ is made the root of the tree, whose branches are his spiritual seed, and he is the head of the new creation; of which I need not stand now to speak particularly.

But here I desire it may be noted, that I do not suppose the natural depravity of the posterity of Adam is owing to the course of nature only; it is also owing to the just judgment of God. But yet I think, it is as truly and in the same manner owing to the course of nature, that Adam’s posterity come into the world without original righteousness, as that Adam himself continued without it, after he had once lost it. That Adam continued destitute after he had once lost it. That Adam continued destitute of holiness, when he had lost it, and would always have so continued, had it not been restored by a Redeemer, was not only a natural consequence, according to the course of things established by God, as the author of nature; but it was also a penal consequence, or a punishment of his sin. God, in righteous judgment, continued to absent himself from Adam after he became a rebel; and withheld from him now those influences of the Holy Spirit, which he before had. And just thus I suppose it to be with every natural branch of mankind: all are looked upon as sinning in and with their common root; and God righteously withholds special influences and spiritual communications from all, for this sin. But of the manner and order of these things, more may be said in the next chapter.

On the whole, this grand objection against the doctrine of men being born corrupt, that it makes him who gave us our being, to be the cause of the being of corruption, can have no more force in it, than a like argument has to prove, that if men by a course of nature continue wicked, or remain without goodness, after they have by vicious acts contracted vicious habits, and so made themselves wicked, it makes him, who is the cause of their CONTINUANCE in being, and the cause of the CONTINUANCE of the course of nature, to be the cause of their CONTINUED wickedness. Dr. T. says (Page 136. S), “God would not make any thing that is hateful to him; because, by the very terms, he would hate to make such a thing.” But if this be good arguing in the case to which it is applied, may I not as well say, God would not CONTINUE a thing in being that is HATEFUL to him; because, by the very terms, he would HATE TO CONTINUE such a thing in being? I think, the very terms do as much (and no more) infer one of these propositions, as the other. In like manner, the rest that he says on that head may be shown to be unreasonable, by only substituting the word continue, in the place of make and propagate. I may fairly imitate his way of reasoning thus: to say, God continues us according to his own original decree, or law of continuation, which obliges him to continue us in a manner he abhors, is really to make bad worse: for it is supposing him to be defective in wisdom, or by his own decree or law to lay such a constraint upon his own actions, that he cannot do what he would, but is continually doing what he would not, what he hates to do, and what he condemns in us; viz. continuing us sinful when he condemns us from continuing ourselves sinful.” If the reasoning be weak in the one case, it is no less so in the other.

If any shall still insist, that there is a difference between God so disposing things, as that depravity of heart shall be continued, according to the settled course of nature, in the same person, who has by his own fault introduced it; and his so disposing as that men, according to a course of nature, should be born with depravity, in consequence of Adam’s introducing of sin, by his act which we had no concern in, and cannot be justly charged with: on this I would observe, that it is quite going off the objection, which we have been upon, from God’s agency, and flying to another. It is then no longer insisted on, that simply for him, from whose agency the course of nature and our existence derive, so to dispose things as that we should have existence in a corrupt state, is for him to be the author of sin: but the plea now advanced is, that it is not proper and just for such an agent so to dispose, in this case, and only in consequence of Adam’s sin; it not being just to charge Adam’s sin to his posterity. And this matter shall be particularly considered, in answer to the next objection; to which I now proceed.

PART IV

CHAPTER III

THAT GREAT OBJECTION AGAINST THE IMPUTATION OF ADAM’S SIN TO HIS POSTERITY, CONSIDERED, THAT SUCH IMPUTATION IS UNJUST AND UNREASONABLE, INASMUCH AS ADAM AND HIS POSTERITY ARE NOT ONE AND THE SAME. WITH A BRIEF REFLECTION SUBJOINED OF WHAT SOME HAVE SUPPOSED, OF GOD IMPUTING THE GUILT OF ADAM’S SIN TO HIS POSTERITY, BUT IN AN INFINITELY LESS DEGREE THAN TO ADAM HIMSELF.

THAT we may proceed with the greater clearness in considering the main objections against supposing the guilt of Adam’s sin to be imputed to his posterity; I would premise some observations with a view to the right stating of the doctrine; and then show its reasonableness, in opposition to the great clamor raised against it on this head.

I think, it would go far towards directing us to the more clear conception and right statement of this affair, were we steadily to bear this in mind: that God, in every step of his proceeding with Adam, in relation to the covenant or constitution established with him, looked on his posterity as being one with him. And though he dealt more immediately with Adam, it yet was as the head of the whole body, and the root of the whole tree; and in his proceedings with him, he dealt with all the branches, as if they had been then existing in their root.

From which it will follow, that both guilt, or exposedness to punishment, and also depravity of heart, came upon Adam’s posterity just as they came upon him, as much as if he and they had all coexisted, like a tree with many branches; allowing only for the difference necessarily resulting from the place Adam stood in, as head or root of the whole. Otherwise, it is as if, in every step of proceeding every alteration in the root had been attended, at the same instant, with the same alterations throughout the whole tree, in each individual branch. I think, this will naturally follow on the supposition of there being a constituted oneness or identity of Adam and his posterity in this affair.

Therefore I am humbly of opinion, that if any have supposed the children of Adam to come into the world with a double guilt, one the guilt of Adam’s sin, another the guilt arising from their having a corrupt heart, they have not so well conceived of the matter. The guilt a man has upon his soul at first existence, is one and simple, viz. the guilt of the original apostasy, the guilt of the sin by which the species first rebelled against God. This, and the guilt arising from the depraved disposition of the heart, are not to be looked upon as two things, distinctly imputed and charged upon men in the sight of God. Indeed the guilt that arises from the corruption of the heart, as it remains a confirmed principle, and appears in its consequent operations, is a distinct and additional guilt: but the guilt arising from the first existing of a depraved disposition in Adam’s posterity, I apprehend, is not distinct from their guilt of Adam’s first sin. For so it was not in Adam himself. The first evil disposition or inclination of Adam to sin, was not properly distinct from his first act of sin, but was included in it. The external act he committed was no otherwise his, than as his heart was in it, or as that action proceeded from the wicked inclination of his heart. Nor was the guilt he had double, as for two distinct sins: one, the wickedness of his will in that affair; another, the wickedness of the external act, caused by it. His guilt was all truly from the act of his inward man; exclusive of which the motions of his body were no more than the motions of any lifeless instrument. His sin consisted in wickedness of heart, fully sufficient for, and entirely amounting to, all that appeared in the act he committed.

The depraved disposition of Adam’s heart is to be considered two ways. (1.) As the first rising of an evil inclination in his heart, exerted in his first act of sin, and the ground of the complete transgression. (2.) An evil disposition of heart continuing afterwards, as a confirmed principle that came by God’s forsaking of him; which was a punishment of his first transgression. This confirmed corruption, by its remaining and continued operation, brought additional guilt on his soul.

In like manner, depravity of heart is to be considered two ways in Adam’s posterity. The first existing of a corrupt disposition, is not to be looked upon as sin distinct from their participation of Adam’s first sin. It is as it were the extended pollution of that sin, through the whole tree, by virtue of the constituted union of the branches with the root; or the inherence of the sin of that head of the species in the members, in their consent and concurrence with the head in that first act. But the depravity of nature remaining as an established principle in a child of Adam, and as exhibited in after-operations, is a consequence and punishment of the first apostasy thus participated, and brings new guilt. The first being of an evil disposition in a child of Adam, whereby he is disposed to approve the sin of his first father, so far as to imply a full and perfect consent of heart to it, I think, is not to be looked upon as a consequence of the imputation of that first sin, any more than the full consent of Adam’s own heart in the act of sinning; which was not consequent on the imputation, but rather prior to it in the order of nature. Indeed the derivation of the evil disposition to Adam’s posterity, or rather, the coexistence of the evil disposition, implied in Adam’s first rebellion, in the root and branches, is a consequence of the union that the wise Author of the world has established between Adam and his posterity; but not properly a consequence of the imputation of his sin; nay, is rather antecedent to it, as it was in Adam himself. The first depravity of heart, and the imputation of that sin, are both the consequences of that established union; but yet in such order, that the evil disposition is first, and the charge of guilt consequent, as it was in the case of Adam himself.

The first existence of an evil disposition, amounting to a full consent to Adam’s sin, no more infers God being the author of that evil disposition in the child, than in the father. The first arising or existing of that evil disposition in the heart of Adam, was by God’s permission; who could have prevented it, if he had pleased, by giving such influences of his Spirit, as would have been absolutely effectual to hinder it; which, it is plain in fact, he did withhold: and whatever mystery may be supposed in the affair, yet no Christian will presume to say, it was not in perfect consistence with God’s holiness and righteousness, notwithstanding Adam had been guilty of no offense before. So root and branches being one, according to God’s wise constitution, the case in fact is, that by virtue of this oneness answerable changes or effects through all the branches coexist with the changes in the root: consequently an evil disposition exists in the hearts of Adam’s posterity, equivalent to that which was exerted in his own heart, when he eat the forbidden fruit. Which God has no hand in, any otherwise, than in not exerting such an influence, as might be effectual to prevent it; as appears by what was observed in the former chapter [See also p. 39, note, § 8, etc. 48 § 12, etc. 80 § 9, etc. 82 § 17, etc. 121 § 7, etc.].

But now the grand objection is against the reasonableness of such a constitution, by which Adam and his posterity should be looked upon as one, and dealt with accordingly, in an affair of such infinite consequence; so that if Adam sinned, they must necessarily be made sinners by his disobedience, and come into existence with the same depravity of disposition, and be looked upon and treated as though they were partakers with him in his act of sin. I have not room here to rehearse all Dr. T.’s vehement exclamations against the reasonableness and justice of this. The reader may at his leisure consult his book, and see them in the places referred to below [Page 13. 150, 151, 156, 261. 108, 109, 111. S.]. Whatever black colors and frightful representations are employed on this occasion, all may be summed up in this, That Adam and his posterity are not one, but entirely distinct agents. But with respect to this mighty outcry made against the reasonableness of any such constitution, by which God is supposed to treat Adam and his posterity as one, I would make the following observations.

I. It signifies nothing to exclaim against plain fact. Such is the fact, the most evident and acknowledged fact, with respect to the state of all mankind, without exception of one individual among all the natural descendants of Adam, as makes it apparent, that God actually deals with Adam and his posterity as one, in reference to his apostasy, and its infinitely terrible consequences. It has been demonstrated, and shown to be in effect plainly acknowledged, that every individual of mankind comes into the world in such circumstances, as that there is no hope or possibility of any other than their violating God’s holy law (if they ever live to act at all as moral agents), and being thereby justly exposed to eternal ruin [Part I Chap. I, the three first sections.]. And God either thus deals with mankind, because he looks upon them as one with their first father, and so treats them as sinful and guilty by his apostasy; or (which will not mend the matter) he, without viewing them as at all concerned in that affair, but as in every respect perfectly innocent, subjects them nevertheless to this infinitely dreadful calamity. Adam by his sin was exposed to the calamities and sorrows of this life, to temporal death and eternal ruin; as is confessed. And it is also in effect confessed, that all his posterity come into the world in such a state, as that the certain consequence is their being exposed, and justly so, to the sorrows of this life, to temporal death, and eternal ruin, unless saved by grace. So that we see, God in fact deals with them together, or as one. If God orders the consequences of Adam’s sin, with regard to his posterity’s welfare — even in those things which are most important, and which in the highest degree concern their eternal interest — to be the same with the consequences to Adam himself, then he treats Adam and his posterity as one in that affair. Hence, however the matter be attended with difficulty, fact obliges us to get over it, either by finding out some solution, or by shutting our mouths, and acknowledging the weakness and scantiness of our understandings; as we must in other innumerable cases, where apparent and undeniable fact, in God’s works of creation and providence, is attended with events and circumstances, the manner and reason of which are difficult to our understandings. — But to proceed.

PART IV

CHAPTER III

THAT GREAT OBJECTION AGAINST THE IMPUTATION OF ADAM’S SIN TO HIS POSTERITY, CONSIDERED, THAT SUCH IMPUTATION IS UNJUST AND UNREASONABLE, INASMUCH AS ADAM AND HIS POSTERITY ARE NOT ONE AND THE SAME. WITH A BRIEF REFLECTION SUBJOINED OF WHAT SOME HAVE SUPPOSED, OF GOD IMPUTING THE GUILT OF ADAM’S SIN TO HIS POSTERITY, BUT IN AN INFINITELY LESS DEGREE THAN TO ADAM HIMSELF.

THAT we may proceed with the greater clearness in considering the main objections against supposing the guilt of Adam’s sin to be imputed to his posterity; I would premise some observations with a view to the right stating of the doctrine; and then show its reasonableness, in opposition to the great clamor raised against it on this head.

I think, it would go far towards directing us to the more clear conception and right statement of this affair, were we steadily to bear this in mind: that God, in every step of his proceeding with Adam, in relation to the covenant or constitution established with him, looked on his posterity as being one with him. And though he dealt more immediately with Adam, it yet was as the head of the whole body, and the root of the whole tree; and in his proceedings with him, he dealt with all the branches, as if they had been then existing in their root.

From which it will follow, that both guilt, or exposedness to punishment, and also depravity of heart, came upon Adam’s posterity just as they came upon him, as much as if he and they had all coexisted, like a tree with many branches; allowing only for the difference necessarily resulting from the place Adam stood in, as head or root of the whole. Otherwise, it is as if, in every step of proceeding every alteration in the root had been attended, at the same instant, with the same alterations throughout the whole tree, in each individual branch. I think, this will naturally follow on the supposition of there being a constituted oneness or identity of Adam and his posterity in this affair.

Therefore I am humbly of opinion, that if any have supposed the children of Adam to come into the world with a double guilt, one the guilt of Adam’s sin, another the guilt arising from their having a corrupt heart, they have not so well conceived of the matter. The guilt a man has upon his soul at first existence, is one and simple, viz. the guilt of the original apostasy, the guilt of the sin by which the species first rebelled against God. This, and the guilt arising from the depraved disposition of the heart, are not to be looked upon as two things, distinctly imputed and charged upon men in the sight of God. Indeed the guilt that arises from the corruption of the heart, as it remains a confirmed principle, and appears in its consequent operations, is a distinct and additional guilt: but the guilt arising from the first existing of a depraved disposition in Adam’s posterity, I apprehend, is not distinct from their guilt of Adam’s first sin. For so it was not in Adam himself. The first evil disposition or inclination of Adam to sin, was not properly distinct from his first act of sin, but was included in it. The external act he committed was no otherwise his, than as his heart was in it, or as that action proceeded from the wicked inclination of his heart. Nor was the guilt he had double, as for two distinct sins: one, the wickedness of his will in that affair; another, the wickedness of the external act, caused by it. His guilt was all truly from the act of his inward man; exclusive of which the motions of his body were no more than the motions of any lifeless instrument. His sin consisted in wickedness of heart, fully sufficient for, and entirely amounting to, all that appeared in the act he committed.

The depraved disposition of Adam’s heart is to be considered two ways. (1.) As the first rising of an evil inclination in his heart, exerted in his first act of sin, and the ground of the complete transgression. (2.) An evil disposition of heart continuing afterwards, as a confirmed principle that came by God’s forsaking of him; which was a punishment of his first transgression. This confirmed corruption, by its remaining and continued operation, brought additional guilt on his soul.

In like manner, depravity of heart is to be considered two ways in Adam’s posterity. The first existing of a corrupt disposition, is not to be looked upon as sin distinct from their participation of Adam’s first sin. It is as it were the extended pollution of that sin, through the whole tree, by virtue of the constituted union of the branches with the root; or the inherence of the sin of that head of the species in the members, in their consent and concurrence with the head in that first act. But the depravity of nature remaining as an established principle in a child of Adam, and as exhibited in after-operations, is a consequence and punishment of the first apostasy thus participated, and brings new guilt. The first being of an evil disposition in a child of Adam, whereby he is disposed to approve the sin of his first father, so far as to imply a full and perfect consent of heart to it, I think, is not to be looked upon as a consequence of the imputation of that first sin, any more than the full consent of Adam’s own heart in the act of sinning; which was not consequent on the imputation, but rather prior to it in the order of nature. Indeed the derivation of the evil disposition to Adam’s posterity, or rather, the coexistence of the evil disposition, implied in Adam’s first rebellion, in the root and branches, is a consequence of the union that the wise Author of the world has established between Adam and his posterity; but not properly a consequence of the imputation of his sin; nay, is rather antecedent to it, as it was in Adam himself. The first depravity of heart, and the imputation of that sin, are both the consequences of that established union; but yet in such order, that the evil disposition is first, and the charge of guilt consequent, as it was in the case of Adam himself.

The first existence of an evil disposition, amounting to a full consent to Adam’s sin, no more infers God being the author of that evil disposition in the child, than in the father. The first arising or existing of that evil disposition in the heart of Adam, was by God’s permission; who could have prevented it, if he had pleased, by giving such influences of his Spirit, as would have been absolutely effectual to hinder it; which, it is plain in fact, he did withhold: and whatever mystery may be supposed in the affair, yet no Christian will presume to say, it was not in perfect consistence with God’s holiness and righteousness, notwithstanding Adam had been guilty of no offense before. So root and branches being one, according to God’s wise constitution, the case in fact is, that by virtue of this oneness answerable changes or effects through all the branches coexist with the changes in the root: consequently an evil disposition exists in the hearts of Adam’s posterity, equivalent to that which was exerted in his own heart, when he eat the forbidden fruit. Which God has no hand in, any otherwise, than in not exerting such an influence, as might be effectual to prevent it; as appears by what was observed in the former chapter [See also p. 39, note, § 8, etc. 48 § 12, etc. 80 § 9, etc. 82 § 17, etc. 121 § 7, etc.].

But now the grand objection is against the reasonableness of such a constitution, by which Adam and his posterity should be looked upon as one, and dealt with accordingly, in an affair of such infinite consequence; so that if Adam sinned, they must necessarily be made sinners by his disobedience, and come into existence with the same depravity of disposition, and be looked upon and treated as though they were partakers with him in his act of sin. I have not room here to rehearse all Dr. T.’s vehement exclamations against the reasonableness and justice of this. The reader may at his leisure consult his book, and see them in the places referred to below [Page 13. 150, 151, 156, 261. 108, 109, 111. S.]. Whatever black colors and frightful representations are employed on this occasion, all may be summed up in this, That Adam and his posterity are not one, but entirely distinct agents. But with respect to this mighty outcry made against the reasonableness of any such constitution, by which God is supposed to treat Adam and his posterity as one, I would make the following observations.

I. It signifies nothing to exclaim against plain fact. Such is the fact, the most evident and acknowledged fact, with respect to the state of all mankind, without exception of one individual among all the natural descendants of Adam, as makes it apparent, that God actually deals with Adam and his posterity as one, in reference to his apostasy, and its infinitely terrible consequences. It has been demonstrated, and shown to be in effect plainly acknowledged, that every individual of mankind comes into the world in such circumstances, as that there is no hope or possibility of any other than their violating God’s holy law (if they ever live to act at all as moral agents), and being thereby justly exposed to eternal ruin [Part I Chap. I, the three first sections.]. And God either thus deals with mankind, because he looks upon them as one with their first father, and so treats them as sinful and guilty by his apostasy; or (which will not mend the matter) he, without viewing them as at all concerned in that affair, but as in every respect perfectly innocent, subjects them nevertheless to this infinitely dreadful calamity. Adam by his sin was exposed to the calamities and sorrows of this life, to temporal death and eternal ruin; as is confessed. And it is also in effect confessed, that all his posterity come into the world in such a state, as that the certain consequence is their being exposed, and justly so, to the sorrows of this life, to temporal death, and eternal ruin, unless saved by grace. So that we see, God in fact deals with them together, or as one. If God orders the consequences of Adam’s sin, with regard to his posterity’s welfare — even in those things which are most important, and which in the highest degree concern their eternal interest — to be the same with the consequences to Adam himself, then he treats Adam and his posterity as one in that affair. Hence, however the matter be attended with difficulty, fact obliges us to get over it, either by finding out some solution, or by shutting our mouths, and acknowledging the weakness and scantiness of our understandings; as we must in other innumerable cases, where apparent and undeniable fact, in God’s works of creation and providence, is attended with events and circumstances, the manner and reason of which are difficult to our understandings. — But to proceed.

II. We will consider the difficulties themselves, insisted on in the objections of our opposers. They may be reduced to these two: First, that such a constitution is injurious to Adam’s posterity. Secondly, that it is altogether improper, as it implies falsehood, viewing and treating those as one, which indeed are not one, but entirely distinct.

FIRST difficulty. That appointing Adam to stand, in this great affair, as the moral head of his posterity, and so treating them as one with him, as standing or falling with him, is injurious to them. To which I answer, it is demonstrably otherwise; that such a constitution was so far from being injurious to Adam’s posterity, any more than if everyone had been appointed to stand for himself personally, that it was, in itself considered, attended with a more eligible probability of a happy issue than the latter would have been: and so a constitution that truly expresses the goodness of its Author. For,

1. It is reasonable to suppose, that Adam was as likely, on account of his capacity and natural talents, to persevere in obedience, as his posterity (taking one with another), if they had all been put on the trial singly for themselves. And supposing that there was a constituted union or oneness of him and his posterity, and that he stood as a public person, or common head, all by this constitution would have been as sure to partake of the benefit of his obedience, as of the ill consequence of his disobedience, in case of his fall.

2. There was a greater tendency to a happy issue, in such an appointment, than if everyone had been appointed to stand for himself; especially on two accounts. (1.) That Adam had stronger motives to watchfulness than his posterity would have had; in that not only his own eternal welfare lay at stake, but also that of all his posterity: (2.) Adam was in a state of complete manhood, when his trial began. It was a constitution very agreeable to the goodness of God, considering the state of mankind, which was to be propagated in the way of generation, that their first father should be appointed to stand for all. For by reason of the manner of their coming into existence in a state of infancy, and their coming so gradually to mature state, and so remaining for a great while in a state of childhood and comparative imperfection, after they were become moral agents, they would be less fit to stand for themselves, than their first father to stand for them.

If any man, notwithstanding these things, shall say, that for his own part, if the affair had been proposed to him, he should have chosen to have had his eternal interest trusted in his own hands: it is sufficient to answer, that no man’s vain opinion of himself, as more fit to be trusted than others, alters the true nature and tendency of things, as they demonstrably are in themselves. Nor is it a just objection, that this constitution has in event proved for the hurt of mankind. For it does not follow, that no advantage was given for a happy event, in such an establishment, because it was not such as to make it utterly impossible there should be any other event.

3. The goodness of God in such a constitution with Adam appears in this: that if there had been no sovereign gracious establishment at all, but God had proceeded only on the basis of mere justice, and had gone no further than this required, he might have demanded of Adam and all this posterity, that they should perform perfect perpetual obedience, without ever failing in the least instance, on pain of eternal death; and might have made this demand without the promise of any positive reward for their obedience. For perfect obedience is a debt, that everyone owes to his Creator; and therefore is what his Creator was not obliged to pay him for. None is obliged to pay his debtor for discharging his just debt. — But such was evidently the constitution with Adam, that an eternal happy life was to be the consequence of his persevering fidelity, to all such as were included within that constitution (of which the tree of life was a sign), as well as eternal death to be the consequence of his disobedience. — I come now to consider the

SECOND difficulty. — It being thus manifest, that this constitution, by which Adam and his posterity are dealt with as one, is not unreasonable on account of its being injurious and hurtful to the interest of mankind, the only thing remaining in the objection, against such a constitution, is the impropriety of it, as implying falsehood, and contradiction to the true nature of things; as hereby they are viewed and treated as one, who are not one, but wholly distinct; and no arbitrary constitution can ever make that to be true, which in itself considered is not true.

This objection, however specious, is really founded on a false hypothesis, and wrong notion of what we call sameness or oneness, among created things; and the seeming force of the objection arises from ignorance or inconsideration of the degree, in which created identity or oneness with past existence, in general, depends on the sovereign constitution and law of the supreme Author and Disposer of the universe.

Some things are entirely distinct, and very diverse, which yet are so united by the established law of the Creator, that by virtue of that establishment, they are in a sense one. Thus a tree, grown great, and a hundred years old, is one plant with the little sprout, that first came out of the ground from whence it grew, and has been continued in constant succession; though it is now so exceeding diverse, many thousand times bigger, and of a very different form, and perhaps not one atom the very same: yet God, according to an established law of nature, has in a constant succession communicated to it many of the same qualities, and most important properties, as if it were one. It has been his pleasure, to constitute an union in these respects, and for these purposes, naturally leading us to look upon all as one. — So the body of man at forty years of age, is one with the infant body which first came into the world, from whence it grew; though now constituted of different substance, and the greater part of the substance probably changed scores (if not hundreds) of times: and though it be now in so many respects exceeding diverse, yet God, according to the course of nature, which he has been pleased to establish, has caused, that in a certain method it should communicate with that infantile body, in the same life, the same senses, the same features, and many the same qualities, and in union with the same soul; and so, with regard to these purposes, it is dealt with by him as one body. Again, the body and soul of a man are one, in a very different manner, and for different purposes. Considered in themselves, they are exceeding different beings, of a nature as diverse as can be conceived; and yet, by a very peculiar divine constitution, or law of nature, which God has been pleased to establish, they are strongly united, and become one, in most important respects; a wonderful mutual communication is established; so that both become different parts of the same man. But the union and mutual communication they have, has existence, and is entirely regulated and limited, according to the sovereign pleasure of God, and the constitution he has been pleased to establish.

And if we come even to the personal identity of created intelligent beings, though this be not allowed to consist wholly in what Mr. Locke supposes, i.e. Same consciousness; yet I think it cannot be denied, that this is one thing essential to it. But it is evident, that the communication or continuance of the same consciousness and memory to any subject, through successive parts of duration, depends wholly on a divine establishment. There would be no necessity, that the remembrance and ideas of what is past should continue to exist, but by an arbitrary constitution of the Creator. — If any should here insist, that there is no need of having recourse to any such constitution, in order to account for the continuance of the same consciousness; and should say, that the very nature of the soul is such as will sufficiently account for it, its ideas and consciousness being retained, according to the course of nature: then let it be remembered, who it is that gives the soul this nature; and let that be remembered, which Dr. T. says of the course of nature, before observed; denying, that the course of nature is a proper active cause, which will work and go on by itself without God, if he lets and permits it; saying, that the course of nature, separate from the agency of God, is no cause, or nothing; and affirming, that it is absolutely impossible, the course of nature should continue itself, or go on to operate by itself, any more than produce itself (Page 134. S); and that God, the original of all being, is the ONLY CAUSE of all natural effects (Page 140. S). Here it is worthy also to be observed, what Dr. Turnbull says of the laws of nature, as cited from Sir Isaac Newton (Mor. Phil. p. 7). “It is the will of the mind that is the first cause, that gives subsistence and efficacy to all those laws, who is the efficient cause that produces the phænomena, which appear in analogy, harmony, and agreement, according to these laws.” And, “the same principles must take place in things pertaining to moral as well as natural philosophy” (Mor. Phil. p. 9).

From these things it will clearly follow, that identity of consciousness depends wholly on a law of nature; and so, on the sovereign will and agency of God. And therefore, that personal identity, and so the derivation of the pollution and guilt of past sins in the same person, depends on an arbitrary divine constitution; and this, even though we should allow the same consciousness not to be the only thing which constitutes oneness of person, but should, besides that, suppose sameness of substance requisite. Or, if same consciousness be one thing necessary to personal identity, and this depends on God’s sovereign constitution, it will still follow that person identity depends on God’s sovereign constitution.

And with respect to the identity of created substance itself, in the different moments of its duration, I think we shall greatly mistake, if we imagine it to be like that absolute, independent identity of the FIRST BEING, whereby he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Nay, on the contrary, it may be demonstrated, that even this oneness of created substance, existing at different times, is a merely dependent identity; dependent on the pleasure and sovereign constitution of him who worketh all in all. This will follow from what is generally allowed, and is certainly true, that God not only created all things, and gave them being at first, but continually preserves them, and upholds them in being. This being a matter of considerable importance, it may be worthy here to be considered with a little attention. Let us inquire therefore, in the first place, whether it be not evident, that God does continually, by his immediate power, uphold every created substance in being; and then let us see the consequence.

That God does, by his immediate power, uphold every created substance in being, will be manifest, if we consider that their present existence is a dependent existence, and therefore is an effect and must have some cause; and the cause must be one of these two; either the antecedent existence of the same substance, or else the power of the Creator. But it cannot be the antecedent existence of the same substance. For instance, the existence of the body of the moon, at this present moment, cannot be the effect of its existence at the last foregoing moment. For not only was what existed the last moment, no active cause, but wholly a passive thing; but this also is to be considered, that no cause can produce effects in a time and place in which itself is not. It is plain, nothing can exert itself, or operate, when and where it is not existing. But the moon’s past existence was neither where nor when its present existence is. In point of time, what is past entirely ceases, when present existence begins; otherwise it would not be past. The past moment has ceased, and is gone, when the present moment takes place; and no more coexists with it, than any other moment that had ceased, twenty years ago. Nor could the past existence of the particles of this moving body produce effects in any other place, than where it then was. But its existence at the present moment, in every point of it, is in a different place, from where its existence was at the last preceding moment. From these things, I suppose, it will certainly follow, that the present existence, either of this, or any other created substance, cannot be an effect of its past existence. The existences (so to speak) of an effect, or thing dependent, in different parts of space or duration, though ever so near one to another, do not at all coexist one with the other; and therefore are as truly different effects, as if those parts of space and duration were ever so far asunder. And the prior existence can no more be the proper cause of the new existence, in the next moment, or next part of space, than if it had been in an age before, or at a thousand miles’ distance, without any existence to fill up the intermediate time or space. Therefore the existence of created substances, in each successive moment, must be the effect of the immediate agency, will, and power of God.

If any shall insist upon it, that their present existence is the effect or consequence of past existence, according to the nature of things; that the established course of nature is sufficient to continue existence once given; I allow it. But then it should be remembered, what nature is in created things; and what the established course of nature is; that, as has been observed already, it is nothing, separate from the agency of God; and that, as Dr. T. says, God, the original of all being, is the ONLY cause of all natural effects. A father, according to the course of nature, begets a child; an oak, according to the course of nature, produces an acorn, or a bud; so according to the course of nature, the former existence of the trunk of the tree is followed by its new or present existence. In one case, and the other, the new effect is consequent on the former, only by the established laws and settled course of nature; which is allowed to be nothing but the continued immediate efficiency of God, according to a constitution that he has been pleased to establish. Therefore, according to what our author urges, as the child and the acorn which come into existence according to the course of nature, in consequence of the prior existence and state of the parent and the oak, are truly immediately created by God; so must the existence of each created person and thing, at each moment, be from the immediate continued creation of God. It will certainly follow from these things, that God’s preserving of created things in being, is perfectly equivalent to a continued creation, or to his creating those things out of nothing at each moment of their existence. If the continued existence of created things be wholly dependent on God’s preservation, then those things would drop into nothing upon the ceasing of the present moment, without a new exertion of the divine power to cause them to exist in the following moment. If there be any who own, that God preserves things in being, and yet hold that they would continue in being without any further help from him, after they once have existence; I think, it is hard to know what they mean. To what purpose can it be, to talk of God preserving things in being, when there is no need of his preserving them? Or to talk of their being dependent on God for continued existence, when they would of themselves continue to exist, without his help; nay, though he should wholly withdraw his sustaining power and influence?

It will follow from what has been observed, that God’s upholding of created substance, or causing of its existence in each successive moment, is altogether equivalent to an immediate production out of nothing, at each moment. Because its existence at this moment is not merely in part from God, but wholly from him; and not in any part, or degree, from its antecedent existence. For, to suppose that its antecedent existence concurs with God in efficiency, to produce some part of the effect, is attended with all the very same absurdities, which have been shown to attend the supposition of its producing it wholly. Therefore the antecedent existence is nothing, as to any proper influence or assistance in the affair: and consequently God produces the effect as much from nothing, as if there had been nothing before. So that this effect differs not at all from the first creation, but only circumstantially; as, in the first creation there had been no such act and effect of God’s power before: whereas, his giving existence afterwards, follows preceding acts and effects of the same kind, in an established order.

Now, in the next place, let us see how the consequence of these things is to my present purpose. If the existence of created substance, in each successive moment, be wholly the effect of God’s immediate power, in that moment, without any dependence on prior existence, as much as the first creation out of nothing, then what exists at this moment, by this power, is a new effect; and simply and absolutely considered, not the same with any past existence, though it be like it, and follows it according to a certain established method. And there is no identity or oneness in the case, but what depends on the arbitrary establishment so unites these successive new effects, that he treats them as one, by communicating to them like properties, relations, and circumstances; and so, leads us to regard and treat them as one. When I call this an arbitrary constitution, I mean, that it is a constitution which depends on nothing but the divine will; which divine will depends on nothing but the divine wisdom. In this sense, the whole course of nature, with all that belongs to it, all its laws and methods, constancy and regularity, continuance and proceeding, is an arbitrary constitution. In this sense, the continuance of the very being of the world and all its parts, as well as the manner of continued being, depends entirely on an arbitrary constitution. For it does not at all necessarily follow, that because there was sound, or light, or color, or resistance, or gravity, or thought, or consciousness, or any other dependent thing the last moment, that therefore there shall be the like at the next. All dependent existence whatsoever is in a constant flux, ever passing and returning; renewed every moment ,as the colors of bodies are every moment renewed by the light that shines upon them; and all is constantly proceeding from God, as light from the sun. In him we live, and move, and have our being.

Thus it appears, if we consider matters strictly, there is no such thing as any identity or oneness in created objects, existing at different times, but what depends on God’s sovereign constitution. And so it appears, that the objection we are upon, made against a supposed divine constitution, whereby Adam and his posterity are viewed and treated as one, in the manner and for the purposes supposed — as if it were not consistent with truth, because no constitution can make those to be one, which are not one — is built on a false hypothesis: for it appears, that a divine constitution is what makes truth, in affairs of this nature. The objection supposes, there is a oneness in created beings, whence qualities and relations are derived down from past existence, distinct from, and prior to, any oneness that can be supposed to be founded on divine constitution. Which is demonstrably false; and sufficiently appears so from things conceded by the adversaries themselves: and therefore the objection wholly falls to the ground.

There are various kinds of identity and oneness, found among created things, by which they become one in different manners, respects, and degrees, and to various purposes; several of which differences have been observed; and every kind is ordered, regulated, and limited, in every respect, by divine constitution. Some things, existing in different times and places, are treated by their Creator as one in one respect, and others in another; some are united for this communication, and others for that; but all according to the sovereign pleasure of the fountain of all being and operation.

It appears, particularly, from what has been said, that all oneness, by virtue whereof pollution and guilt from past wickedness are derived, depends entirely on a divine establishment. It is this, and this only, that must account for guilt and an evil taint on any individual soul, in consequence of a crime committed twenty or forty years ago, remaining still, and even to the end of the world, and forever. It is this that must account for the continuance of any such thing, and where, as consciousness of acts that are past; and for the continuance of all habits, either good or bad: and on this depends everything that can belong to personal identity. And all communications, derivations, or continuation of qualities, properties, or relations, natural or moral, from what is past, as if the subject were one depends on no other foundation.

And I am persuaded, that no solid reason can be given, why God — who constitutes all other created union or oneness according to his pleasure, and for what purposes, communications, and effects he pleases — may not establish a constitution whereby the natural posterity of Adam, proceeding from him, much as the buds and branches from the stock or root of a tree, should be treated as one with him, for the derivation, either of righteousness, and communion in rewards, or of the loss of righteousness, and consequent corruption and guilt.

As I said before, all oneness in created things, whence qualities and relations are derived, depends on a divine constitution that is arbitrary, in every other respect, excepting that it is regulated by divine wisdom. The wisdom which is exercised in these constitutions, appears in these two things. First, in a beautiful analogy and harmony with other laws or constitutions, especially, relating to the same subject; and secondly, in the good ends obtained, or useful consequences of such a constitution. If therefore there be any objection still lying against this constitution with Adam and his posterity, it must be, that it is not sufficiently wise in these respects. But what extreme arrogance would it be in us, to take upon us to act as judges of the beauty and wisdom of the laws and established constitutions of the supreme Lord and Creator of the universe! And not only so, but if this constitution, in particular, be well considered, its wisdom, in the two forementioned respects, may easily be made evident. There is an apparent manifold analogy to other constitutions and laws, established and maintained through the whole system of vital nature in this lower world; all parts of which, in all successions, are derived from the first of the kind, as from their root, or fountain; each deriving from thence all properties and qualities, that are proper to the nature and capacity of the species: no derivative having any one perfection, unless it be what is merely circumstantial, but what was in its primitive. And that Adam’s posterity should be without that original righteousness, which Adam had lost, is also analogous to other laws and establishments, relating to the nature of mankind; according to which, Adam’s posterity have no one perfection of nature, in any kind, superior to what was in him, when the human race began to be propagated from him.

And as such a constitution was fit and wise in other respects, so it was in this that follows. Seeing the divine constitution concerning the manner of mankind coming into existence, was such as did so naturally unite them, and make them in so many respects one, naturally leading them to a close union in society, and manifold intercourse, and mutual dependence — things were wisely so established, that all should naturally be in one and the same moral state; and not in such exceeding different states, as that some should be perfectly innocent and holy, but others corrupt and wicked; some needing a Savior, but others needing none; some in a confirmed state of perfect happiness, but others in a state of public condemnation to perfect and eternal misery; some justly exposed to great calamities in this world, but others by their innocence raised above all suffering. Such a vast diversity of state would by no means have agreed with the natural and necessary constitution and unavoidable situation and circumstances of the world of mankind; all made of one blood, to dwell on all the face of the earth, to be united and blended in society, and to partake together in the natural and common goods and evils of this lower world.

Dr. T. urges (Page 14), that sorrow and shame are only for personal sin; and it has often been urged, that repentance can be for no other sin. To which I would say, that the use of words is very arbitrary: but that men’s hearts should be deeply affected with grief and humiliation before God, for the pollution and guilt which they bring into the world with them, I think, is not in the least unreasonable. Nor is it a thing strange and unheard of, that men should be ashamed of things done by others, in whom they are nearly concerned. I am sure, it is not unscriptural; especially when they are justly looked upon in the sight of God, who sees the disposition of their hearts, as fully consenting and concurring.

From what has been observed it may appear, there is no sure ground to conclude, that it must be an absurd and impossible thing, for the race of mankind truly to partake of the sin of the first apostasy, so as that this, in reality and propriety, shall become their sin; by virtue of a real union between the root and branches of mankind (truly and properly availing to such a consequence), established by the author of the whole system of the universe; to whose establishments are owing all propriety and reality of union, in any part of that system; and by virtue of the full consent of the hearts of Adam’s posterity to that first apostasy. And therefore the sin of the apostasy is not theirs, merely because God imputes it to them; but it is truly and properly theirs, and on that ground God imputes it to them.

By reason of the established union between Adam and his posterity, the case is far otherwise between him and them, than it is between distinct parts or individuals of Adam’s race; betwixt whom is no such constituted union: as, between children and other ancestors. Concerning whom is apparently to be understood that place, Eze. 18:1-20 (which Dr. T. alleges, p. 10, 11. S). Where God reproves the Jews for the use they made of that proverb, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge;” and tells them, that hereafter they shall no more have occasion to use this proverb; and that if a son sees the wickedness of his father, and sincerely disapproves it and avoids it, and he himself is righteous, he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; that all souls, both the soul of the father and the son are his, and that therefore the son shall not bear the iniquity of his father, nor the father bear the iniquity of the son; but the soul that sinneth, it shall die; that the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. The thing denied, is communion in the guilt and punishment of the sins of others, that are distinct parts of Adam’s race; and expressly, in that case, where there is no consent and concurrence, but a sincere disapprobation of the wickedness of ancestors. It is declared, that children who are adult and come to act for themselves, who are righteous, and do not approve of, but sincerely condemn, the wickedness of their fathers, shall not be punished for their disapproved and avoided iniquities. The occasion of what is here said, as well as the design and plain sense, shows, that nothing is intended in the least degree inconsistent with what has been supposed concerning Adam’s posterity sinning and falling in his apostasy. The occasion is, the people’s murmuring at God’s methods under the Mosaic dispensation; agreeable to that in Lev. 26:39, “And they that are left of you, shall pine away in their iniquity in their enemies’ land, and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them:” and other parallel places, respecting external judgments, which were the punishments most plainly threatened, and chiefly insisted on, under that dispensation (which was, as it were, an external and carnal covenant), and particularly the people suffering such terrible judgments in Ezekiel’s time, for the sins of Manasseh; according to what God says by Jeremiah (Jer. 15:4) and agreeable to what is said in that confession, Lam. 5:7, “Our fathers have sinned and are not, and we have borne their iniquities.”

In what is said here, there is a special respect to the gospel-dispensation; as is greatly confirmed by comparing this place with Jer. 31:29-31. Under which dispensation, the righteousness of God’s dealings with mankind would be more fully manifested, in the clear revelation then to be made of the method of God’s judgment, by which the final state of wicked men is determined; which is not according to the behavior of their particular ancestors; but everyone is dealt with according to the sin of his own wicked heart, or sinful nature and practice. The affair of derivation of the natural corruption of mankind in general, and of their consent to, and participation of, the primitive and common apostasy, is not in the least intermeddled with, by anything meant in the true scope and design of this place in Ezekiel.

On the whole, if any do not like the philosophy or the metaphysics (as some perhaps may choose to call it) made use of in the foregoing reasonings; yet I cannot doubt, but that a proper consideration of what is apparent and undeniable in fact, with respect to the dependence of the state and course of things in the universe on the sovereign constitutions of the supreme Author and Lord of all — who gives account to none of any of his matters, and whose ways are past finding out — will be sufficient, with persons of common modesty and sobriety, to stop their mouths from making peremptory decisions against the justice of God, respecting what is so plainly and fully taught in his holy word, concerning the derivation of depravity and guilt from Adam to his posterity.

This is enough, one would think, forever to silence such bold expressions as these — ”If this be just, — if the Scriptures teach such doctrine, etc. then the Scriptures are of no use — understanding is no understanding, — and, what a GOD must he be, that can thus curse innocent creatures! — Is this thy GOD. O Christian!” — etc., etc.

It may not be improper here to add something (by way of supplement to this chapter, in which we have had occasion to say so much about the imputation of Adam’s sin) concerning the opinions of two divines, of no inconsiderable note among the dissenters in England, relating to a partial imputation of Adam’s first sin.

One of them supposes, that this sin, though truly imputed to INFANTS, so that thereby they are exposed to a proper punishment, yet is not imputed to them in such a degree, as that upon this account they should be liable to eternal punishment, as Adam himself was, but only to temporal death, or annihilation; Adam himself, the immediate actor, being made infinitely more guilty by it, than his posterity. On which I would observe; that to suppose, God imputes not all the guilt of Adam’s sin, but only some little part of it, relieves nothing but one’s imagination. To think of poor little infants bearing such torments for Adam’s sin, as they sometimes do in this world, and these torments ending in death and annihilation, may sit easier on the imagination, than to conceive of their suffering eternal misery for it. But it does not at all relieve one’s reason. There is no rule of reason, that can be supposed to lie against imputing a sin in the whole of it, which was committed by one, to another who did not personally commit it, but what will also lie against its being so imputed and punished in part. For all the reasons (if there be any) lie against the imputation; not the quantity or degree of what is imputed. If there be any rule of reason, that is strong and good, lying against a proper derivation or communication of guilt, from one that acted, to another that did not act; then it lies against all that is of this nature. The force of the reasons brought against imputing Adam’s sin to his posterity (if there be any force in them) lies in this, That Adam and his posterity are not one. But this lies as properly against charging a part of the guilt, as the whole. For Adam’s posterity, by not being the same with him, had no more hand in a little of what was done, than the whole. They were as absolutely free from being concerned in that act partly, as they were wholly. And there is no reason to be brought, why one man’s sin cannot be justly reckoned to another’s account, who was not then in being, in the whole of it; but what will as properly lie against its being reckoned to him in any part, so as that he should be subject to any condemnation or punishment on that account. If those reasons are good, all the difference is this; that to bring a great punishment on infants for Adam’s sin, is a great act of injustice, and to bring a comparatively smaller punishment, is a smaller act of injustice; but not, that this is not as truly and demonstrably an act of injustice, as the other.

To illustrate this by an instance something parallel. It is used as an argument why I may not exact from one of my neighbors, what was due to me from another, that he and my debtor are not the same; and that their concerns, interests, and properties are entirely distinct. Now if this argument be good, it lies as truly against my demanding from him a part of the debt, as the whole. Indeed it is a greater act of injustice for me to take from him the whole of it, than a part; but not more truly and certainly an act of injustice.

The other divine thinks, there is truly an imputation of Adam’s sin, so that infants cannot be looked upon as innocent creatures; yet seems to think it not agreeable to the perfections of God, to make the state of infants in another world worse than a state of nonexistence. But this to me appears plainly a giving up of that grand point of imputation, both in whole and in part. For it supposes it to be no right, for God to bring any evil on a child of Adam, which is innocent as to personal sin, without paying for it, or balancing it with good; so that still the state of the child shall be as good as could be demanded in justice, in case of mere innocence. Which plainly supposes, that the child is not exposed to any proper punishment at all, or is not at all in debt to divine justice, on account of Adam’s sin. For if the child were truly in debt, then surely justice might take something from him, without paying for it, or without giving that which makes its state as good, as mere innocence could in justice require. If he owes the suffering of some punishment, then there is no need that justice should requite the infant for suffering that punishment; or make up for it, by conferring some good, that shall countervail it, and in effect remove and disannul it; so that, on the whole, good and evil shall be at even balance, yea, so that the scale of good shall preponderate. If it is unjust in a judge, to order any quantity of money to be taken from another, without paying him again, and fully making it up to him, it must be because he had justly forfeited one at all.

It seems to me pretty manifest, that none can, in good consistence with themselves, own a real imputation of the guilt of Adam’s first sin to his posterity, without owning that they are justly treated as sinners, truly guilty, and children of wrath, on that account; nor unless they allow a just imputation of the whole of the evil of that transgression; at least, all that pertains to the essence of that act, as a full and complete violation of the covenant, which God had established; even as much as if each one of mankind had the like covenant established with him singly, and had by the like direct and full act of rebellion, violated it for himself.

PART IV

CHAPTER IV

WHEREIN SEVERAL OTHER OBJECTIONS ARE CONSIDERED

DR. T. objects against Adam’s posterity being supposed to come into the world under a forfeiture of God’s blessing, and subject to his curse through his sin, — That at the RESTORATION of the world after the flood, God pronounced equivalent or greater BLESSINGS on Noah and his sons, than he did on Adam at his creation, when he said, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, etc. (See page 82, etc. S) — To this I answer, in the following remarks.

1. As has been already shown, that in the threatening denounced for Adam’s sin, there was nothing which appears inconsistent with the continuance of this present life for a season, or with propagating his kind; so for the like reason, there appears nothing in that threatening, upon the supposition that it reached Adam’s posterity, inconsistent with enjoying the temporal blessings of the present life, as long as this is continued; even those temporal blessings which God pronounced on Adam at his first creation. For it must be observed, that the blessings which God pronounced on Adam when he created him, and before the trial of his obedience, were not the same with the blessings which were suspended on his obedience. The blessings thus suspended, were the blessings of eternal life; which, if he had maintained his integrity through his trial, would have been pronounced upon him afterwards; when God, as his judge, should have given him his reward. God might indeed, if he had pleased, immediately have deprived him of life, and of all temporal blessings, given him before. But those blessings pronounced on him beforehand, were not the things for the obtaining of which his trial was appointed. These were reserved till the issue of his trial should be seen, and then to be pronounced in the blessed sentence, which would have been passed upon him by his judge, when God came to decree to him his reward for his approved fidelity. The pronouncing of these latter blessings on a degenerate race, that had fallen under the threatening denounced, would indeed (without a redemption) have been inconsistent with the constitution which had been established. But giving them the former kind of blessings, which were not the things suspended on the trial, or dependent on his fidelity (and these to be continued for a season), was not at all inconsistent therewith.

2. It is no more an evidence of Adam’s posterity being not included in the threatening denounced for his eating the forbidden fruit, That they still have the temporal blessings of fruitfulness, and a dominion over the creatures, continued to them; than it is an evidence of Adam being not included in that threatening himself, That he had these blessings continued to him, was fruitful, and had dominion over the creatures, after his fall, equally with his posterity.

3. There is good evidence, that the benedictions God pronounced on Noah and his posterity, were granted on a new foundation; a dispensation diverse from any grant, promise, or revelation, which God gave to Adam, antecedently to his fall; even on the foundation of the covenant of grace, established in Christ Jesus; a dispensation, the design of which is to deliver men from the curse that came upon them by Adam’s sin, and to bring them to greater blessings than ever he had. These blessings were pronounced on Noah and his seed, on the same foundation whereon afterwards the blessing was pronounced on Abraham and his seed, which included both spiritual and temporal benefits. — Noah had his name prophetically given him by his father Lamech, because by him and his seed deliverance should be obtained from the curse, which came by Adam’s fall. Gen. 5:29, “And he called his name Noah (i.e. rest), saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work, and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” Pursuant to the scope and intent of this prophecy (which indeed seems to respect the same thing with the prophecy in Gen. 3:15) are the blessings pronounced on Noah after the flood. There is this evidence of these blessings being conveyed through the channel of the covenant of grace, and by the redemption through Jesus Christ, that they were obtained by sacrifice; or were bestowed as the effect of God’s favor to mankind, which was in consequence of smelling a sweet savor in the sacrifice which Noah offered. And it is very evident by the epistle to the Hebrews, that the ancient sacrifices never obtained the favor of God, but only by virtue of the relation they had to the sacrifice of Christ. — Now that Noah and his family had been so wonderfully saved from the wrath of God, which had destroyed the rest of the world, and the world was as it were restored from a ruined state, there was a proper occasion to point to the great salvation to come by Christ: as it was a common thing for God, on occasion of some great temporal salvation of his people, or restoration from a low and miserable state, to renew the intimations of the great spiritual restoration of the world by Christ’s redemption. God deals with the generality of mankind, in their present state, far differently, on occasion of the redemption by Jesus Christ, from what he otherwise would do; for, being capable subjects of saving mercy, they have a day of patience and grace, and innumerable temporal blessings bestowed on them; which, as the apostle signifies (Acts 14:17) are testimonies of God’s reconcilableness to sinful men, to put them upon seeking after God.

But beside the sense in which the posterity of Noah in general partake of these blessings of dominion over the creatures, etc. Noah himself, and all such of his posterity as have obtained like precious faith with that exercised by him in offering his sacrifice, which made it a sweet savor, and by which it procured these blessings, have dominion over the creatures, through Christ, in a more excellent sense than Adam in innocence; as they are made kings and priests unto God, and reign with Christ, and all things are theirs, by a covenant of grace. They partake with Christ in that dominion over the beasts of the earth, the fowls of the air, and fishes of the sea, spoken of in the 8th Psalm; which is by the apostle interpreted of Christ’s dominion over the world (1 Cor. 15:27 and Heb. 2:7). And the time is coming, when the greater part of the posterity of Noah, and each of his sons, shall partake of this more honorable and excellent dominion over the creatures, through him in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Neither is there any need of supposing that these blessings have their most complete accomplishment, till many ages after they were granted, any more than the blessing on Japhet, expressed in those words, God shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.

But that Noah’s posterity have such blessings given them through the great Redeemer, who suspends and removes the curse which came through Adam’s sin, surely is no argument, that they originally, as in their natural state, are not under the curse. That men have blessings through grace, is no evidence of their being not justly exposed to the curse by nature; but it rather argues the contrary. For if they did not deserve the curse, they would not depend on grace and redemption for the removal of it, and for bringing them into a state of favor with God.

Another objection, which our author strenuously urges against the doctrine of original sin, is, that it disparages the divine goodness in giving us our being; which we ought to receive with thankfulness, as a great gift of God’s beneficence, and look upon as the first, original, and fundamental fruit of the divine liberality (Page 256, 357, 260. 71-74. S).

To this I answer, in the following observations:

1. This argument is built on the supposed truth of a thing in dispute; and so is a begging of the question. It is built on this supposition, that we are not properly looked upon as one with our first father, in the state wherein God at first created him, and in his fall from that state. If we are so, it becomes the whole race to acknowledge God’s great goodness to them, in the state wherein mankind was made at first; in the happy state they were then in, and the fair opportunity they then had of obtaining confirmed and eternal happiness; and to acknowledge it as an aggravation of their apostasy; and to humble themselves, that they were so ungrateful as to rebel against their good Creator. Certainly, we may all do this with as much reason, as the people of Israel in Daniel’s and Nehemiah’s times who did with thankfulness acknowledge God’s great goodness to their fathers, many ages before; and in their confessions they bewailed, and took shame to themselves, for the sins committed by their fathers, notwithstanding such great goodness. (See the 9th chapter of Daniel, and the 9th of Nehemiah.)

2. If Dr. T. would imply in his objection, that it doth not consist with the goodness of God, to give mankind being in a state of misery, what ever was done before by Adam, whether he sinned or did not sin. I reply, if it be justly so ordered, that there should be a posterity of Adam, which must be looked upon as one with him; then it is no more contrary to God’s attribute of goodness to give being to his posterity in a state of punishment, than to continue the being of the same wicked and guilty person, who has made himself guilty, in a state of punishment. The giving of being, and the continuing of being, are both alike the work of God’s power and will, and both are alike fundamental to all blessings of man’s present and future existence. And if it be said, it cannot be justly so ordered, that there should be a posterity of Adam, which should be looked upon as one with him, this is begging the question.

3. If our author would have us to suppose, that it is contrary to the attribute of goodness for God, in any case, by an immediate act of his power, to cause existence, and to cause new existence, which shall be an exceeding miserable existence, by reason of exposedness to eternal ruin; then his own scheme must be supposed contrary to the attribute of God’s goodness: for he supposes that God will raise multitudes from the dead at the last day (which will be giving new existence to their bodies, and to bodily life and sense) in order only to their suffering eternal destruction.

4. Notwithstanding we are so sinful and miserable, as we are by nature, yet we may have great reason to bless God, that he has given us our being under so glorious a dispensation of grace through Jesus Christ: by which we have a happy opportunity to be delivered from this sin and misery, and to obtain unspeakable eternal happiness. And because, through our own wicked inclinations, we are disposed so to neglect and abuse this mercy, as to fail of final benefit by it, this is no reason why we ought not to be thankful for it, even according to our author’s own sentiments. What (says he, page 72, 73. S) if the whole world lies in wickedness, and few therefore shall be saved? Have men no reason to be thankful, because they are wicked and ungrateful, and abuse their being and God’s bounty? Suppose our own evil inclinations do withhold us, viz. from seeking after happiness, of which under the light of the gospel we are placed within the nearer and easier reach, “suppose, the whole Christian world should lie in wickedness, and but few Christians should be saved, is it therefore certainly true, that we cannot reasonably thank God for the gospel?” Well, and though the evil inclinations, which hinder our seeking and obtaining happiness by so glorious an advantage, are what we are born with, yet if those inclinations are our fault or sin, that alters not the case; and to say, they are not our sin, is still begging the question. Yea, it will follow from several things asserted by our author, that notwithstanding men are born in such circumstances, as that they are under a very great improbability of ever becoming righteous, yet they may have reason to be thankful for their being. Thus particularly, Dr. T. asserts, that all men have reason of thankfulness for their being; and yet he supposes, that the heathen world, taken as a collective body, were dead in sin, and could not deliver or help themselves, and therefore stood in necessity of the Christian dispensation. And not only so, but he supposes, that the Christian world is now at length brought to the like deplorable and helpless circumstances, and needs a new dispensation for its relief. Accordingly to these things, the world in general, not only formerly but even at this day, are dead in sin, and helpless as to their salvation; and therefore the generality of them that are born into it, are much more likely to perish, than otherwise, till the new dispensation comes: and yet he supposes, we all have reason to be thankful for our being. Yea, further still, I think, according to our author’s doctrine, men may have great reason to be thankful to God for bringing them into a state, which yet, as the case is, is attended with misery, as its certain consequence. As, with respect to God’s raising the wicked to life, at the last day; which, he supposes, is in itself a great benefit, procured by Christ, and the wonderful grace of God through him: and if it be the fruit of God’s wonderful grace, surely men ought to be thankful for that grace, and praise God for it. Our doctrine of original sin, therefore, no more disparages God’s goodness in man’s formation in the womb, than his doctrine disparages God’s goodness in their resurrection from the grave.

Another argument, which Dr. T. makes use of, against the doctrine of original sin, is what the Scripture reveals of the process of the day of judgment; which represents the judge as dealing with men singly and separately, rendering to every man according to his deeds, and according to the improvement he has made of the particular powers and talents God has given him personally (Page 65, 66, 111. S).

But this objection will vanish, if we consider what is the end or design of that public judgment. Now this will not be, that God may find out what men are, or what punishment or reward is proper for them, or in order to the passing of a right judgment of these things within himself which is the end of human trials; but it is to manifest what men are to their own consciences, and to the world. As the day of judgment is called the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God; in order to this, God will make use of evidences, or proofs. But the proper evidences of the wickedness of men’s hearts (the true seal of all wickedness) both as to corruption of nature, and additional pollution and guilt, are men’s works.

The special end of God’s public judgment will be, to make a proper, perfect, open distinction among men, rightly to state and manifest their difference one from another, in order to that separation and difference in the eternal retribution that is to follow: and this difference will be made to appear, by their personal works.

There are two things, with regard to which men will be tried, and openly distinguished, by the perfect judgment of God at the last day; according to the twofold real distinction subsisting among mankind: viz. (1.) The difference of STATE; that primary and grand distinction, whereby all mankind are divided into two sorts, the righteous and the wicked. (2.) That secondary distinction, whereby both sorts differ from others in the same general state, in DEGREES of additional fruits of righteousness and wickedness. Now the Judge, in order to manifest both these, will judge men according to their personal works. But to inquire at the day of judgment, whether Adam sinned or no, or whether men are to be looked upon as one with him, and so partakers in his sin, is what in no respect tends to manifest either of these distinctions.

1. The first thing to be manifest, will be the state, that each man is in, with respect to the grand distinction of the whole world of mankind into righteous and wicked; or, in metaphorical language, wheat and tares; or, the children of the kingdom of Christ, and the children of the wicked one; the latter, the head of the apostasy; but the former, the head of the restoration and recovery. The Judge, in manifesting this, will prove men’s hearts by their works, in such as have had opportunity to perform any works in the body. The evil works of the children of the wicked one will be the proper manifestation and evidence or proof of whatever belongs to the general state of such; and particularly they will prove, that they belong to the kingdom of the great deceiver, and head of the apostasy, as they will demonstrate the exceeding corruption of their nature, and full consent of their hearts to the common apostasy; and also that their hearts never relinquished the apostasy, by a cordial adherence to Christ, the great restorer. The Judge will also make use of the good works of the righteous to show their interest in the redemption of Christ; as thereby will be manifested the sincerity of their hearts in their acceptance of, and adherence to, the Redeemer and his righteousness. And in thus proving the state of men’s hearts by their actions, the circumstances of those actions must necessarily come into consideration, to manifest the true quality of their actions; as, each one’s talents, opportunities, advantages, light, motives, etc.

2. The other thing to be manifested, will be that secondary distinction, wherein particular persons, both righteous and wicked, differ from one another, in the degree of secondary good or evil; the degree of evil fruit, which is additional to the guilt and corruption of the whole body of apostates and enemies; and the degree of personal goodness and good fruit, which is a secondary goodness, with respect to the righteousness and merits of Christ, which belong to all by that sincere faith manifested in all. Of this also each one’s works, with their circumstances, opportunities, talents, etc. will be the proper evidence.

As to the nature and aggravations of the general apostasy by Adam’s sin, and also the nature and sufficiency of the redemption by Jesus Christ, the great restorer, though both these will have vast influence on the eternal state, which men shall be adjudged to, yet neither of them will properly belong to the trial men will be the subjects of at that day, in order to the manifestation of their state, wherein they are distinguished one from another. They will belong to the business of that day no otherwise, than the manifestation of the great truths of religion in general; as the nature and perfections of God, the dependence of mankind on God, as their creator and preserver, etc. Such truths as these will also have great influence on the eternal state, to which men will then be adjudged, as they aggravate the guilt of man’s wickedness, and must be considered in order to a due estimate of Christ’s righteousness, and men’s personal virtue; yet being of general and equal concernment, will not properly belong to the trial of particular persons.

Another thing urged by our author particularly against the imputation of Adam’s sin, is this: “Though, in Scripture, action is frequently said to be imputed, reckoned, accounted to a person, it is no other than his own act and deed” (Page 3, etc. 105). In the same place he cites a number of places of Scripture, where these words are used, which he says are all that he can find in the Bible.

But we are no way concerned with this argument at present, any further than it relates to imputation of sin, or sinful action. Therefore all that is in the argument, which relates to the present purpose, is this: that the word is so often applied in Scripture to signify God’s imputing of personal sin, but never once to his imputing of Adam’s sin. — So often! — How often? — But twice. There are but two of all those places which he reckons up, that have any reference to God imputing sin to any person, where there is any evidence that only personal sin is meant; (Lev. 17:3, 4 and 2 Tim. 4:16). All therefore that the argument comes to, is this: that the word impute, is applied twice in Scripture to the case of God imputing sin, and neither of those times to signify the imputing of Adam’s sin, but both times it has reference to personal sin; therefore Adam’s sin is not imputed to his posterity. And this is to be noted, that one of these two places, even that in Lev. 17:3, 4 does not speak of imputing the act committed, but another not committed. The words are, “what man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord, before the tabernacle of the Lord, blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; that man shall be cut off from among his people,” i.e. plainly, murder shall be imputed to him: he shall be put to death for it, and therein punished with the same severity as if he had slain a man. It is plain by Isa. 66:3 that, in some cases, shedding the blood of beasts, in an unlawful manner, was imputed to them, as if they slew a man.

But whether it be so or not, although in both these places the word impute, be applied to personal sin, and to the very act, or although this could be said of all the places which our author reckons up; yet that the word impute, is never expressly applied to Adam’s sin, does no more argue, that it is not imputed to his posterity, than it argues, that pride, unbelief, lying, theft, oppression, persecution, fornication, adultery, sodomy, perjury, idolatry, and innumerable other particular moral evils, are never imputed to the persons that committed them, or in whom they are; because the word impute, though so often used in Scripture, is never applied to any of these kinds of wickedness.

I know not what can be said here, except one of these two things: that though these sins are not expressly said to be imputed, yet other words are used that do as plainly and certainly imply that they are imputed, as if it were said so expressly. Very well, and so I say with respect to the imputation of Adam’s sin. The thing meant by the word impute, may be as plainly and certainly expressed by using other words, as if that word were expressly used; and more certainly, because the words used instead of it, may amount to an explanation of this word. And this, I think, is the very case here. Though the word, impute, is not used with respect to Adam’s sin, yet it is said, all have sinned; which, respecting infants, can be true only of their sinning by his sin. And, it is said, by his disobedience many were made sinners; and, judgment and condemnation came upon all by that sin; and that by this means death, the wages of sin, passed on all men, etc. Which phrases amount to full and precise explanations of the word, impute; and therefore do more certainly determine the point really insisted on.

Or, perhaps it will be said, with respect to those personal sins before-mentioned, pride, unbelief, etc. it is no argument they are not imputed to those who are guilty of them, that the very word impute, is not applied to them; for the word itself is rarely used; not one time in a hundred, and perhaps five hundred, of those wherein the thing meant is plainly implied, or may be certainly inferred. Well, and the same also may be applied likewise, with respect to Adam’s sin.

It is probable, Dr. T. intends an argument against original sin, by that which he says in opposition to what R. R. suggests of children discovering the principles of iniquity, and seeds of sin, before they are capable of moral action (Page 77, 78. S), viz. That little children are made PATTERNS of humility, meekness, and innocence (Mat. 18:3; 1 Cor. 14:20; and Psa. 131:2).

But when the utmost is made of this, there can be no shadow of reason, to understand more by these texts, than that little children are recommended as patterns in regard of a negative virtue, innocence with respect to the exercises and fruits of sin, harmlessness as to the hurtful effects of it; and that image of meekness and humility arising from this, in conjunction with a natural tenderness of mind, fear, self-diffidence, yieldableness, and confidence in parents and others older than themselves. And so, they are recommended as patterns of virtue no more than doves, which are an harmless sort of creatures, and have an image of the virtues of meekness and love. Even according to Dr. T.’s own doctrine, no more can be made of it than this: for his scheme will not admit of any such thing as positive virtue, or virtuous disposition, in infants; he insisting (as was observed before) that virtue must be the fruit of thought and reflection. But there can be no thought and reflection, that produces positive virtue, in children not yet capable of moral action; and it is such children he speaks of. And that little children have a negative virtue or innocence, in relation to the positive acts and hurtful effects of vice, is no argument that they have not a corrupt nature within them: for let their nature be ever so corrupt, yet surely it is no wonder that they be not guilty of positive wicked action, before they are capable of any moral action at all. A young viper has a malignant nature, though incapable of doing a malignant action, and at present appearing a harmless creature.

Another objection, which Dr. T. and some others offer against this doctrine, is, That it pours contempt upon the human nature (Page 74, 75. S).

But their declaiming on this topic is like addressing the affections and conceits of children, rather than rational arguing with men. It seems this doctrine is not complaisant enough. I am sensible, it is not suited to the taste of some, who are so very delicate (to say no worse) that they can bear nothing but compliment and flattery. No contempt is by this doctrine cast upon the noble faculties and capacities of man’s nature, or the exalted business, and divine and immortal happiness, of which he is made capable. And as to speaking ill of man’s present moral state, I presume, it will not be denied, that shame belongs to them who are truly sinful; and to suppose, that this is not the native character of mankind, is still but meanly begging the question. If we, as we come into the world, are truly sinful, and consequently miserable, he acts but a friendly part to us, who endeavors fully to discover and manifest our disease. Whereas, on the contrary, he acts an unfriendly part, who to his utmost hides it from us: and so, in effect, does what in him lies to prevent our seeking a remedy from that, which if not remedied in time, must bring us finally to shame and everlasting contempt, and end in perfect and remediless destruction hereafter.

Another objection, which some have made against this doctrine, much like the former, is, that it tends to beget in us an ill opinion of our fellow creatures, and so to promote ill-nature and mutual hatred.

To which I would say, if it be truly so, that we all come sinful into the world, then our heartily acknowledging it, tends to promote humility: but our disowning that sin and guilt which truly belongs to us, and endeavoring to persuade ourselves that we are vastly better than in truth we are, tends to a foolish self-exaltation and pride. And it is manifest, by reason, experience, and the Word of God, that pride is the chief source of all the contention, mutual hatred, and ill-will which are so prevalent in the world; and that nothing so effectually promotes the contrary tempers and deportments, as humility. This doctrine teaches us to think no worse of others, than of ourselves: it teaches us, that we are all, as we are by nature, companions in a miserable helpless condition; which under a revelation of the divine mercy, tends to promote mutual compassion. And nothing has a greater tendency to promote those amiable dispositions of mercy, forbearance, long-suffering, gentleness, and forgiveness, than a sense of our own extreme unworthiness and misery, and the infinite need we have of the divine pity, forbearance, and forgiveness, together with a hope of obtaining mercy. If the doctrine which teaches that mankind are corrupt by nature, tends to promote ill-will, why should not Dr. T.’s doctrine tend to it as much? For he teaches us, that the generality of mankind are very wicked, having made themselves so by their own free choice, without any necessity: which is a way of becoming wicked, that renders men truly worthy of resentment; but the other, not at all, even according to his own doctrine.

Another exclamation against this doctrine is, that it tends to hinder comfort and joy, and to promote melancholy and gloominess of mind (Page 231, and some other places).

To which I shall briefly say, doubtless, supposing men are really become sinful, and so exposed to the displeasure of God, by whatever means, if they once come to have their eyes opened, and are not very stupid, the reflection on their case will tend to make them sorrowful; and it is fit it should. Men, with whom this is the case, may well be filled with sorrow, till they are sincerely willing to forsake their sins, and turn to God. But there is nothing in this doctrine, that in the least stands in the way of comfort and exceeding joy. To such as find in their hearts a sincere willingness wholly to forsake all sin, and give their hearts and whole selves to Christ, and comply with the gospel-method of salvation by him.

Another thing objected, is, that to make men believe that wickedness belongs to their very nature, tends to encourage them in sin, and plainly to lead them to all manner of iniquity; because they are taught, that sin is natural, and therefore necessary and unavoidable (Page 139 and 259).

But if this doctrine, which teaches that sin is natural to us, does also at the same time teach us, that it is never the better, or less to be condemned, for its being natural, then it does not at all encourage sin, any more than Dr. T.’s doctrine encourages wickedness when it is become inveterate; who teaches that such as by custom have contracted strong habits of sin, are unable to help themselves. And is it reasonable, to represent it as encouraging a man in boldly neglecting and willfully continuing in his disease, without seeking a cure, to tell him of his disease, to show him that it is real and very fatal, and what he can never cure himself of; yet withal directing him to a great Physician, who is sufficient for his restoration? But for a more particular answer to what is objected against the doctrine of our natural impotence and inability, as being an encouragement to go on in sin, and a discouragement to the use of all means for our help, I must for brevity refer the reader to what has been largely written on this head in my discourse on the Freedom of the Will.

Our author is pleased to advance another notion, among others, by way of objection against the doctrine of original sin: that if this doctrine be true, it would be unlawful to beget children. He says (Page 145), “If natural generation be the means of unavoidably conveying all sin and wickedness into the world, it must itself be a sinful and unlawful thing.” Now, if there be any force of argument here, it lies in this proposition, whatsoever is a means or occasion of the certain infallible existence of sin and wickedness, must itself be sinful. But I imagine Dr. T. had not thoroughly weighed this proposition, nor considered where it would carry him. For, God continuing in being the devil, and others that are finally given up to wickedness, will be attended, most certainly and infallibly, with an eternal series of the most hateful and horrid wickedness. But will any be guilty of such vile blasphemy, as to say, therefore God’s upholding of them in being is itself a sinful thing? In the same place our author says, “so far as we are generated in sin, it must be a sin to generate.” But there is no appearance of evidence in that position, any more than in this: “So far as any is upheld in existence in sin, it is a sin to uphold them in existence.” Yea, if there were any reason in the case, it would be strongest in the latter position: for parents, as Dr. T. himself observes, are not the authors of the beginning of existence: whereas, God is truly the author of the continuance of existence. As it is the known will of God, to continue Satan and millions of others in being, though the most sure consequence is the continuance of a vast infernal world, full of everlasting hellish wickedness: so it is part of the revealed will of God, that this world of mankind should be continued, and the species propagated, for his own wise and holy purposes; which will is complied with by the parents joined in lawful marriage. Their children, though they come into the world in sin, yet are capable subjects of eternal holiness and happiness: which infinite benefits for their children, parents have great reason to expect, in the way of giving up their children to God in faith, through a Redeemer, and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I think, this may be answer enough to such a cavil.

Another objection is that the doctrine of original sin is no oftener, and no more plainly, spoken of in Scripture; it being, if true, a very important doctrine. Dr. T. in many parts of his book suggests to his readers, that there are very few texts, in the whole Bible, wherein there is the least appearance of their teaching any such doctrine.

Of this I took notice before, but would here say further: That the reader who has perused the preceding defense of this doctrine, must now be left to judge for himself, whether there be any ground for such an allegation; whether there be not texts in sufficient number, both in the Old Testament and New, that exhibit undeniable evidence of this great article of Christian divinity; and whether it be not a doctrine taught in the Scripture with great plainness. I think, there are few, if any, doctrines of revelation, taught more plainly and expressly. Indeed it is taught in an explicit manner more in the New Testament than in the Old. Which is not to be wondered at; it being thus with respect to all the most important doctrines of revealed religion.

But if it had been so, that this doctrine were but rarely taught in Scripture; yet if we find that it is indeed declared to us by God, if held forth to us by any word of his; then what belongs to us, is, to believe his Word, and receive the doctrine which he teaches us; and not to prescribe to him how often he shall speak of it, and to insist upon knowing what reasons he has for speaking of it no oftener, before we will receive what he teaches us; or to pretend that he should give us an account, why he did not speak of it so plainly as we think he ought to have done, sooner than he did. In this way of proceeding, if it be reasonable, the Sadducees of old, who denied any resurrection or future state, might have maintained their cause against Christ, when he blamed them for not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God; and for not understanding by the Scripture, that there would be a resurrection to spiritual enjoyment, and not to animal life, and sensual gratifications; and they might have insisted, that these doctrines, if true, were very important, and therefore ought to have been spoken of in the Scriptures oftener and more explicitly, and not that the church of God should be left, till that time with only a few obscure intimations of that which so infinitely concerned them. And they might with disdain have rejected Christ’s argument, by way of inference from God calling himself in the books of Moses, the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For answer, they might have said, that Moses was sent on purpose to teach the people the mind and will of God; and therefore, if these doctrines were true, he ought in reason and in truth to have taught them plainly and frequently, and not have left the people to spell out so important a doctrine, only from God’s saying, that he was the God of Abraham, etc.

One great end of the Scripture is; to teach the world what manner of being GOD is; about which the world, without revelation, has been so woefully in the dark: and that God is an infinite being, is a doctrine of great importance, and a doctrine sufficiently taught in the Scripture. But yet, it appears to me, this doctrine is not taught there, in any measure, with such explicitness and precision, as the doctrine of original sin: and the Socinians, who denied God’s omnipresence and omniscience, had as much room left them for cavil, as the Pelagians who deny original sin.

Dr. T. particularly urges, that Christ says not one word of this doctrine throughout the four Gospels; which doctrine, if true, being so important, and what so nearly concerned the great work of redemption, which he came to work out (as is supposed), one would think, it should have been emphatically spoken of in every page of the Gospels (Page 242, 243).

In reply to this, it may be observed, that by the account given in the four Gospels, Christ was continually saying, those things which plainly implied, that all men in their original state are sinful and miserable. As, when he declared, that they which are whole, need not a physician, but they which are sick (Mat. 9:12); That he came to seek and to save that which was lost (Mat. 18:11; Luke 19:10). That it was necessary for all to be born again, and to be converted, and that otherwise they could not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mat. 18:3); — and, that all were sinners, as well as those whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices, etc. and that everyone who did not repent, should perish (Luke 13:1-5); — Withal directing everyone to pray to God for forgiveness of sin (Mat. 6:12; Luke 11:4); — Using our necessity of forgiveness from God, as an argument with all to forgive the injuries of their neighbors (Mat. 6:14, 15 and 18:35); — Teaching, that earthly parents, though kind to their children, are in themselves evil (Mat. 7:11); — And signifying, that things carnal and corrupt are properly the things of men (Mat. 16:23); — Warning his disciples rather to beware of men, than of wild beasts (Mat. 10:16, 17); — Often representing the WORLD as evil, as wicked in its works, at enmity with truth and holiness, and hating him (John 7:7, 8:23, 14:17 and 15:18, 19); — Yea, and teaching plainly, that all men are extremely and inexpressibly sinful, owing ten thousand talents to their divine creditor (Mat. 18:21, to the end).

And whether Christ did not plainly teach Nicodemus the doctrine of original total depravity, when he came to him to know what his doctrine was, must be left to the reader to judge, from what has been already observed on John 3:1-11. And besides, Christ in the course of his preaching took the most proper method to convince men of the corruption of their nature, and to give them an effectual and practical knowledge of it, in application to themselves in particular, by teaching and urging the holy and strict law of God, in its extent, and spirituality, and dreadful threatenings: which, above all things, tends to search the hearts of men, and to teach them their inbred exceeding depravity; not merely as a matter of speculation, but by proper conviction of conscience; which is the only knowledge of original sin, that can avail to prepare the mind for receiving Christ’s redemption; as a man’s sense of his own sickness prepares him to apply in good earnest to the physician.

And as to Christ being no more frequent and particular in mentioning and inculcating this point in a doctrinal manner, it is probably, one reason to be given for it, is the same that is to be given for his speaking no oftener of God’s creating of the world: which, though so important a doctrine, is scarce ever spoken of in any of Christ’s discourses; and no wonder, seeing this was a matter which the Jews, to whom he confined his personal ministry, had all been instructed in from their forefathers, and never was called in question among them. And there is a great deal of reason, from the ancient Jewish writers, to suppose, that the doctrine of original sin had ever been allowed in the open profession of that people: though they were generally, in that corrupt time, very far from a practical conviction of it; and many notions were then prevalent, especially among the Pharisees, which were indeed inconsistent with it. And though on account of these prejudices they might need to have this doctrine explained and applied to them, yet it is well known, by all acquainted with their Bibles, that Christ for wise reasons, spake more sparingly and obscurely of several of the most important doctrines of revealed religion, relating to the necessity, grounds, nature, and way of his redemption, and the method of the justification of sinners, while he lived here in the flesh; and left these doctrines to be more plainly and fully opened and inculcated by the Holy Spirit after his ascension.

But if, after all, Christ did not speak of this doctrine often enough to suit Dr. T. he might be asked, Why he supposes Christ did no oftener and no more plainly teach some of his, Dr. T.’s, doctrines, which he so much insists on? As, that temporal death comes on all mankind by Adam; and that it comes on them by him, not as a punishment or calamity, but as a great favor, being made a rich benefit, and a fruit of God’s abundant grace, by Christ’s redemption, who came into the world as a second Adam for this end. Surely, if this were so, it was of vast importance, that it should be known to the church of God in all ages, who saw death reigning over infants, as well as others. If infants were indeed perfectly innocent, was it not needful, that the design of that which was such a melancholy and awful dispensation towards so many millions of innocent creatures, should be known, in order to prevent the worst thoughts of God from arising in the minds of the constant spectators of so mysterious and gloomy a dispensation? But why then such a total silence about it, for four thousand years together, and not one word of it in all the Old Testament; nor one word of it in all the four Gospels: and indeed not one word of it in the whole Bible, but only as forced and wrung out by Dr. T.’s arts of criticism and deduction, against the plainest and strongest evidence?

As to the arguments, made use of by many late writers, from the universal moral sense, and the reasons they offer from experience, and observation of the nature of mankind, to show that we are born into the world with principles of virtue; with a natural prevailing relish, approbation, and love of righteousness, truth, and goodness, and of whatever tends to the public welfare; with a prevailing natural disposition to dislike, to resent, and condemn what is selfish, unjust, and immoral; and a native bent in mankind to mutual benevolence, tender compassion, etc. those who have had such objections against the doctrine of original sin thrown in their way, and desire to see them particularly considered, I ask leave to refer them to a treasure on the nature of true VIRTUE, lying by me prepared for the press, which may ere long be exhibited to public view (See Dissertation concerning the Nature of True Virtue, p. 122.).

CONCLUSION

ON the whole, I observe, there are some other things, besides arguments, in Dr. T.’s book, which are calculated to influence the minds, and bias the judgment, of some sorts of readers. Here, not to insist on the profession he makes, in many places, of sincerity, humility, meekness, modesty, charity, etc. in searching after truth; and freely proposing his thoughts, with the reasons of them, to others [See his Preface, and p. 6. 237, 263, 267, 175. S.]; nor on his magisterial assurance, appearing on any occasions, and the high contempt he sometimes expresses of the opinions and arguments of very excellent divines and fathers in the church of God, who have thought differently from him [Page 110, 125, 150, 151, 159, 161, 183, 188. 77. S.] — both of which, it is not unlikely, may have a degree of influence on some of his readers — I would take some notice of another thing, observable in the writings of Dr. T. and many of the late opposers of the more peculiar doctrines of Christianity, tending (especially with juvenile and unwary readers) not a little to abate the force, and prevent the due effect, of the clearest scripture-evidences in favor of those important doctrines; and particularly to make void the arguments taken from the writings of the apostle Paul, in which those doctrines are more plainly and fully revealed, than in any other part of the Bible. What I mean, is this: These gentlemen express a high opinion of this apostle, and that very justly, for his eminent genius, his admirable sagacity, strong powers of reasoning, acquired learning, etc. they speak of him as a writer of masterly address, of extensive reach, and deep design, everywhere in his epistles, among in every word he says. This looks exceedingly specious: it carries a plausible appearance of Christian zeal and attachment to the Holy Scriptures, to bear such a testimony of high veneration for that great apostle, who was not only the principal instrument of propagating Christianity, but with his own had wrote so considerable a part of the New Testament. And I am far from determining, with respect at least to some of these writers, that they are not sincere in their declarations; or, that all is mere artifice, only to make way for the reception of their own peculiar sentiments. However, it tends greatly to subserve such a purpose; as much as if it were designedly contrived, with the utmost subtlety, for that end. Hereby their incautious readers are prepared the more easily to be drawn into a belief, that they, and others in their way of thinking, have not rightly understood many of those things in this apostle’s writings, which before seemed very plain to them. Thus they are prepared, by a prepossession in favor of these new writers, to entertain a favorable thought of the interpretations put by them upon the words and phrases of this apostle; and to admit in many passages a meaning which before lay entirely out of sight; quite foreign to all that in the view of a common reader seems to be their obvious sense; and most remote from the expositions agreed in by those who used to be esteemed the greatest divines, and best commentators. As to this apostle, being a man of no vulgar understanding, it is nothing strange if his meaning lies very deep; and no wonder then, if the superficial observation of vulgar Christians, or indeed of the herd of common divines, such as the Westminster Assembly, etc. falls vastly short of the apostle’s reach, and frequently does not enter into the true spirit and design of his epistles. They must understand, that the first reformers, and indeed preachers and expositors in general, for fifteen or sixteen hundred years past, were too unlearned and short-sighted, to be capable of penetrating into the sense, or fit to make comments on the writings, of so great a man as this apostle; or else had dwelt in a cave of bigotry and superstition, too gloomy to allow them to use their own understandings with freedom, in reading the Scripture. But, at the same time, it must be understood, that there is risen up now at length, in this happy age of light and liberty, a set of men, of a more free and generous turn of mind, of a more inquisitive genius, and of better discernment. By such insinuations, they seek advantage to their cause; and thus the most unreasonable and extravagant interpretations of Scripture are palliated and recommended: so that, if the simple reader is not very much on his guard, if he does not clearly see with his own eyes, or has too much indolence, or too little leisure, thoroughly to examine for himself, he is in danger of being imposed on with delusive appearances.

But I humbly conceive, that their interpretations — particularly of the apostle Paul’s writings, though in some things ingenious — are in many things extremely absurd, and demonstrably disagreeable, in the highest degree, to his real design, to the language he commonly uses, and to the doctrines currently taught in his epistles. Their criticisms, when examined, appear far more subtle, than solid; and it seems as if nothing can possibly be strong enough, nothing perspicuous enough, in any composure whatever, to stand before such liberties these writers indulge. The plainest and most nervous discourse is analyzed and criticized, till it either dissolves into nothing, or becomes a thing of little significance. The Holy Scripture is subtilized into a mere mist; or made to evaporate into a thin cloud, that easily puts on any shape, and is moved in any direction, with a puff of wind, just as the manager pleases. It is not in the nature and power of language, to afford sufficient defense against such an art, so abused; as, I imagine, a due consideration of some things I have had occasion in the preceding discourse to observe, may abundantly convince us.

But this, with the rest of what I have offered on the subject, must be left with every candid reader’s judgment; and the success of the whole must now be left with God, who knows what is agreeable to his own mind, and is able to make his own truths prevail; however mysterious they may seem to the poor, partial, narrow, and extremely imperfect views of mortals, while looking through a cloudy and delusory medium; and however disagreeable they may be to the innumerable prejudices of men’s hearts: — and who has promised, that the gospel of CHRIST, such as is really his, shall finally be victorious; and has assured us, that the word which goes out of his mouth, shall not return to him void, but shall accomplish that which he pleaseth, and shall prosper in the thing whereto he sends it. — Let GOD arise, and plead his own cause, and glorify his own great name. AMEN.

Consider the following two works by Edwards that have been updated and republished for easy reading:

Ripe for Damnation: Sermons on the Book of Revelation – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Are you hungry for more of Edwards’ sermons? On the book of Revelation? These new works are not found anywhere on A Puritan’s Mind, and there are new ones not found in his large 2 volume works. 4 deal with the plight of the wicked, and 2 deal with the bliss of saints in heaven. These sermons are powerful, practical, and biblical, glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and contain 2 never before published sermons.

Justification by Faith Alone – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). In this classic work, Edwards covers the intricacies of how believers are made righteous only through Christ’s merits, and that this justifying righteousness is equally imputed to all elect believers. This is accomplished by the condition of faith as an instrument.

Bible Verse:

“I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless,” (Gen. 17:1).

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