The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended (PART 2)Theological Writings of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
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CONTAINING OBSERVATIONS ON PARTICULAR PARTS OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURE, WHICH PROVE THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
OBSERVATIONS RELATING TO THINGS CONTAINED IN THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS OF GENESIS, WITH REFERENCE TO THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN
Concerning original righteousness; and whether our first parents were created with righteousness, or moral rectitude of heart?
THE doctrine of Original Righteousness, or the creation of our first parents with holy principles and dispositions, has a close connection, in several respects, with the doctrine of original sin. Dr. T. was sensible of this; and accordingly he strenuously opposes this doctrine, in his book against original sin. And therefore in handling the subject, I would in the first place remove this author’s main objection against this doctrine, and then show how it may be inferred from the account which Moses gives us, in the three first chapters of Genesis.
Dr. T.’s grand objection against this doctrine, which he abundantly insists on, is this: that it is utterly inconsistent with the nature of virtue, that it should be concreated with any person; because, if so, it must be by an act of God’s absolute power, without our knowledge or concurrence; and that moral virtue, in its very nature, implies the choice and consent of the moral agent, without which it cannot be virtue and holiness: that a necessary holiness is no holiness. So p. 180, where he observes, “That Adam must exist, he must be created, yea he must exercise thought and reflection, before he was righteous.” (See also p. 250, 251.) In p. 161. S, he says, “To say, that God not only endowed Adam with a capacity of being righteous, but moreover that righteousness and true holiness were created with him, or wrought into his nature, at the same time he was made, is to affirm a contradiction, or what is inconsistent with the very nature of righteousness.” And in like manner Dr. Turnbull in many places insists upon it, that it is necessary to the very being of virtue, that it be owing to our own choice, and diligent culture.
With respect to this, I would observe, that it consists in a notion of virtue quite inconsistent with the nature of things, and the common notions of mankind; and also inconsistent with Dr. T.’s own notions of virtue. Therefore, if to affirm that to be virtue or holiness, which is not the fruit of preceding thought, reflection, and choice, is to affirm a contradiction, I shall show plainly, that for him to affirm otherwise, is a contradiction to himself.
In the first place, I think it a contradiction to the nature of things, as judged of by the common sense of mankind. It is agreeable to the sense of men, in all nations and ages, not only that the fruit or effect of a good choice is virtuous, but that the good choice itself, from whence that effect proceeds, is so; yea, also the antecedent good disposition, temper, or affection of mind, from whence proceeds that good choice, is virtuous. This is the general notion — not that principles derive their goodness from actions, but — that actions derive their goodness from the principles whence they proceed; so that the act of choosing what is good, is no further virtuous, than it proceeds from a good principle, or virtuous disposition of mind. Which supposes, that a virtuous disposition of mind may be before a virtuous act of choice; and that, therefore, it is not necessary there should first be thought, reflection, and choice, before there can be any virtuous disposition. If the choice be first, before the existence of a good disposition of heart, what is the character of that choice? There can, according to our natural notions, be no virtue in a choice which proceeds from no virtuous principle, but from mere self-love, ambition, or some animal appetites; therefore, a virtuous temper of mind may be before a good act of choice, as a tree may be before the fruit, and the fountain before the stream which proceeds from it.
The following things, in Mr. Hutcheson’s inquiry concerning moral good and evil, are evidently agreeable to the nature of things, and the voice of human sense and reason. (Sect. II. p. 132, 133.) “Every action which we apprehend as either morally good or evil, is always supposed to FLOW FROM some affections towards sensitive natures. And whatever we call virtue or vice, is either some such affection, or some action CONSEQUENT UPON IT. — All the actions counted religious in any country, are supposed by those who count them so, to FLOW FROM some affections towards the Deity: and whatever we call social virtue, we still suppose to FLOW FROM affections towards our fellow-creatures. — Prudence, if it is only employed in promoting private interest, is never imagined to be a virtue.” In these things Dr. Turnbull expressly agrees with Mr. Hutcheson, his admired author. (Mor. Phil. p. 112-115. p. 142 et alibi passim.)
If a virtuous disposition or affection is before its acts, then they are before those virtuous acts of choice which proceed from it. Therefore, there is no necessity that all virtuous dispositions or affections should be the effect of choice: and so, no such supposed necessity can be a good objection against such a disposition being natural, or from a kind of instinct, implanted in the mind in its creation. Agreeably to this Mr. Hutcheson says (Ibid. sect. III. p. 196, 197), “I know not for what reason some will not allow that to be virtue, which flows from instinct or passions. But how do they help themselves? They say, virtue arises from reason. What is reason, but the sagacity we have in prosecuting any end? The ultimate end proposed by common moralists, is the happiness of the agent himself. And this certainly he is determined to pursue from instinct. Now may not another instinct towards the public, or the good of others, be as proper a principle of virtue as the instinct towards private happiness? If it be said, that actions from instinct are not the effect of prudence and choice, this objection will hold full as strongly against the actions which flow from self-love.”
And if we consider what Dr. T. declares, as his own notion of the essence of virtue, and which he so confidently and often affirms, that it should follow choice, and proceed from it, we shall find it is no less repugnant to that sentiment, than it is to the nature of things, and the general notions of mankind. For it is his notion, as well as Mr. Hutcheson’s, that the essence of virtue lies in good affection, and particularly in benevolence or love: as he very fully declares in these words in his Key, — (Marginal note, annexed to — 356.) “That the word that signifies goodness and mercy should also signify moral rectitude in general, will not seem strange, if we consider that love is the fulfilling of the law. Goodness, according to the sense of Scripture, and the nature of things, includes all moral rectitude; which, I reckon, may every part of it, where it true and genuine, be resolved into this single principle.” If it be so indeed, then certainly no act whatsoever can have moral rectitude, but what proceeds from this principle. And consequently no act of volition or choice can have any moral rectitude, that takes place before this principle exists. And yet he most confidently affirms, that thought, reflection, and choice must go before virtue, and that all virtue or righteousness must be the fruit of preceding choice. This brings his scheme to an evident contradiction. For no act of choice can be virtuous but what proceeds from a principle of benevolence, or love; for he insists that all genuine moral rectitude, in every part of it, is resolved into this single principle. And yet the principle of benevolence itself cannot be virtuous, unless it proceeds from choice; for he affirms, that nothing can have the nature of virtue but what comes from choice. So that virtuous love as the principle of all virtue, must go before virtuous choice, and be the principle or spring of it; and yet virtuous choice must go before virtuous benevolence, and be the spring of that. If a virtuous act of choice goes before a principle of benevolence, and produces it, then this virtuous act is something distinct from that principle which follows it, and is its effect. So that here is at least one part of virtue, yea the spring and source of all virtue, viz. a virtuous choice, that cannot be resolved into that single principle of love.
Here also it is worthy to be observed, that Dr. T. (p. 128) says, the cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth or which proceedeth from it. and so he argues, that if the effect be bad, the cause alone is sinful. According to which reasoning, when the effect is good, the cause alone is righteous or virtuous. To the cause is to be ascribed all the praise of the good effect it produces. And by the same reasoning it will follow, that if, as Dr. Taylor says, Adam must choose to be righteous, before he was righteous, and if it be essential to the nature of righteousness, or moral rectitude, that it be the effect of choice, and hence a principle of benevolence cannot have moral rectitude, unless it proceeds from choice; then not the principle of benevolence, which is the effect, but to the foregoing choice alone is to be ascribed all the virtue or righteousness that is in the case. And so, instead of all moral rectitude, in every part of it, being resolved into that single principle of benevolence, no moral rectitude, in any part of it, is to be resolved into that principle; but all is to be resolved into the foregoing choice, which is the cause.
But yet it follows from these inconsistent principles, that there is no moral rectitude or virtue in that first act of choice, that is the cause of all consequent virtue. This follows two ways; 1. Because every part of virtue lies in the benevolent principle, which is the effect; and therefore no part of it can lie in the cause. 2. The choice of virtue, as to the first act at least, can have no virtue or righteousness at all; because it does not proceed from any foregoing choice. For Dr. T. insists, that a man must first have reflection and choice, before he can have righteousness; and that it is essential to holiness that it proceed from choice. So that the first choice from which holiness proceeds, can have no virtue at all, because, by the supposition, it does not proceed from choice, being the first choice. Hence, if it be essential to holiness that it proceeds from choice, it must proceed from an unholy choice; unless the first holy choice can be before itself.
And with respect to Adam, let us consider how upon Dr. T.’s principles, it was possible he ever should have any such thing as righteousness, by any means at all. In the state wherein God created him, he could have no such thing as love to God, or any benevolence in his heart. For if so, there would have been original righteousness; there would have been genuine moral rectitude; nothing would have been wanting: for our author says, True genuine moral rectitude, in every part of it, is to be resolved into this single principle. But if he were wholly without any such thing as love to God, or any virtuous love, how should he come by virtue? The answer doubtless will be, by act of choice: he must first choose to be virtuous. But what if he did choose to be virtuous? It could not be from love to God, or any virtuous principle, that he chose it; for, by the supposition, he has no such principle in his heart. And if he chooses it without such a principle, still, according to this author, there is no virtue in his choice; for all virtue, he says, is to be resolved into that single principle of love. Or will he say, there may be produced in the heart a virtuous benevolence by an act or acts of choice, that are not virtuous? But this does not consist with what he implicitly asserts, that to the cause alone is to be ascribed what is in the effect. So that there is no way that can possibly be devised, in consistence with Dr. T.’s scheme, in which Adam ever could have any righteousness, or could ever either obtain any principle of virtue, or perform any one virtuous act.
These confused inconsistent assertions, concerning virtue and moral rectitude, arise from the absurd notions in vogue, concerning freedom of will, as if it consisted in the will’s self-determining power, supposed to be necessary to moral agency, virtue, and vice. The absurdities of which, with the grounds of these errors, and what the truth is respecting these matters, with its evidences, I have, according to my ability, fully and largely considered, in my “Inquiry” on that subject; to which I must refer the reader, who desires further satisfaction, and is willing to give himself the trouble of reading that discourse.
Having considered this great argument, and pretended demonstration of Dr. T. against original righteousness; I proceed to the proofs of the doctrine. And, in the first place, I would consider, whether there be not evidence of it in the three first chapters of Genesis: or, whether the history there delivered does not lead us to suppose, that our first parents were created in a state of moral rectitude and holiness.
I. This history leads us to suppose, that Adam’s sin, with relation to the forbidden fruit, was the first sin he committed. Which could not have been, had he not always, till then, been perfectly righteous, righteous from the first moment of his existence; and consequently, created or brought into existence righteous. In a moral agent, subject to moral obligations, it is the same thing, to be perfectly innocent, as to be perfectly righteous. It must be the same, because there can no more be any medium between sin and righteousness, or between being right and being wrong, in a moral sense, than there can be a medium between straight and crooked, in a natural sense. Adam was brought into existence capable of acting immediately, as a moral agent; and therefore he was immediately under a rule of right action. He was obliged as soon as he existed to act aright. And if he was obliged to act aright as soon as he existed, he was obliged even then to be inclined to act right. Dr. T. says (p. 166. S), “Adam could not sin without a sinful inclination:” and, just for the same reason, he could not do aright, without an inclination to right action. And as he was obliged to act rightly from the first moment of his existence; and that is the same as to be created, or brought into existence, with an inclination to right action, or, which is the same thing, a virtuous and holy disposition of heart.
Here it will be in vain to say, “It is true, that it was Adam’s duty to have a good disposition or inclination, as soon as it was possible to be obtained, in the nature of things; but as it could not be without time to establish such a habit, which requires antecedent thought, reflection, and repeated right action; therefore all that Adam could be obliged to, in the first place, was to reflect, and consider things in a right manner, and apply himself to right action, in order to obtain a right disposition:” for this supposes, that even the reflection and consideration to which he was obliged, was right action. Surely he was obliged to it no otherwise than as a thing that was right: and therefore he must have an inclination to this right action immediately, before he could perform those first right actions. And as the inclination to them should be right, the principle, or disposition from which he performed even those actions, must be good: otherwise the actions would not be right in the sight of him who looks at the heart; nor would they answer his obligations, if he had done them for some sinister end, and not from a regard to God and his duty. Therefore there must have been a regard to God and his duty implanted in him at his first existence: otherwise it is certain, he would have done nothing from a regard to God and his duty; no, not so much as to reflect and consider, and try to obtain such a disposition. The very supposition of a disposition to right action being first obtained by repeated right action, is grossly inconsistent with itself: for it supposes a course of right action, before there is a disposition to perform any right action.
These are no invented quibbles or sophisms. If God expected from Adam any obedience, or duty to him at all, when he first made him — whether it was in reflecting, considering, or any way exerting his faculties — then he was expected immediately to exercise love to God. For how could it be expected, that Adam should have a strict and perfect regard to God’s commands and authority, and his duty to him, when he had no love nor regard to him in his heart, nor could it be expected he should have any? If Adam from the beginning did his duty to God, and had more respect to the will of his Creator, than to other things, and as much respect to him as he ought to have; then from the beginning he had a supreme and perfect respect and love to God: and if so, he was created with such a principle. There is no avoiding the consequence. Not only external duties, but internal ones, such as summarily consist in love, must be immediately required of Adam, as soon as he existed, if any duty at all was required. For it is most apparently absurd, to talk of a spiritual being, with the faculties of understanding and will, being required to perform external duties, without internal. Dr. T. himself observes, that love is the fulfilling of the law, and that all moral rectitude, even every part of it, must be resolved into that single principle. There fore, if any morally right act at all, reflection, consideration, or anything else, was required of Adam immediately, on his first existence, and was performed as required; then he must, the first moment of his existence, have his heart possessed of that principle of divine love; which implies the whole of moral rectitude in every part of it, according to our author’s own doctrine; and so the whole of moral rectitude or righteousness must begin with his existence: which is the thing taught in the doctrine of original righteousness.
Let us consider how it could be otherwise, than that Adam was always, in every moment of his existence, obliged to exercise such respect of heart towards every object, as was agreeable to the apparent merit of that object. For instance, would it not at any time have become Adam, on the exhibition of God’s infinite goodness to him, to have exercised answerable gratitude; and would not the contrary have been unbecoming and odious? And if something had been presented to Adam’s view, transcendently amiable in itself, for instance, the glorious perfection of the divine nature, would it not have become him to love, relish, and delight in it? Would not such an object have merited this? And if the view of an object so amiable in itself did not affect his mind with complacence, would it not, according to the plain dictates of our understanding, have shown an unbecoming temper of mind? Time, by culture, to form and establish a good disposition, would not have taken off the odiousness of the temper. And if there had been never so much time, I do not see how it could be expected he should improve it aright, in order to obtain a good disposition, if he had not already some good disposition to engage him to it.
That belonging to the will, and disposition of the heart, which is in itself either odious or amiable, unbecoming or decent, always would have been Adam’s virtue or sin, in any moment of his existence; if there be any such thing as virtue or vice; by which terms nothing can be meant, but something in our moral disposition and behavior, which is becoming or unbecoming, amiable or odious.
Human nature must be created with some dispositions; a disposition to relish some things as good and amiable, and to be averse to other things as odious and disagreeable: otherwise, it must be without any such thing as inclination or will; perfectly indifferent, without preference, without choice, or aversion, towards anything as agreeable or disagreeable. But if it had any concreated dispositions at all, they must be either right or wrong, either agreeable or disagreeable to the nature of things. If man had at first the highest relish of things excellent and beautiful, a disposition to have the quickest and highest delight in those things which were most worthy of it, then his dispositions were morally right and amiable, and never can be excellent in a higher sense. But if he had a disposition to love most those things that were inferior and less worthy, then his dispositions were vicious. And it is evident there can be no medium between these.
II. This notion of Adam being created without a principle of holiness in his heart, taken with the rest of Dr. T.’s scheme, is inconsistent with what the history in the beginning of Genesis leads us to suppose of the great favors and smiles of Heaven, which Adam enjoyed while he remained in innocence. The Mosaic account suggests to us, that till Adam sinned, he was in happy circumstances, surrounded with testimonies and fruits of God’s favor. This is implicitly owned by Dr. T. when he says (p. 252), “That in all the dispensation our first parents were under before the fall, they were placed in a condition proper to engage their gratitude, love, and obedience.” But it will follow, on our author’s principles, that Adam, while in innocence, was placed in far worse circumstances, than he was in after his disobedience, and infinitely worse than his posterity are in; under unspeakably greater disadvantages for avoiding sin, and the performance of duty. For by this doctrine, Adam’s posterity come into the world with their hearts as free from any propensity to sin as he, and he was made as destitute of any propensity to righteousness as they: and yet God, in favor to them, does great things to restrain them from sin, and excite them to virtue, which he never did for Adam in innocence, but laid him, in the highest degree, under contrary disadvantages. God, as an instance of his great favor, and fatherly love to man, since the fall, has denied him the ease and pleasures of paradise, which gratified and allured his senses, and bodily appetites; that he might diminish his temptations to sin. And as a still greater means to restrain from sin, and promote virtue, has subjected him to labor, toil, and sorrow in the world: and not only so, but as a means to promote his spiritual and eternal good far beyond this, has doomed him to death. When all this was found insufficient, he, in further prosecution of the designs of his love, shortened men’s lives exceedingly, made them twelve or thirteen times shorter than in the first ages. And yet this, with all the innumerable calamities which God, in great favor to mankind, has brought on the world — whereby their temptations are so vastly cut short, and the inducements to virtue heaped one upon another to so great a degree — have proved insufficient, now for so many thousand years together, to restrain from wickedness in any considerable degree; while innocent human nature, all along, comes into the world with the same purity and harmless dispositions that our first parents had in paradise. What vast disadvantages indeed then must Adam and Eve be in, who had no more in their nature to keep them from sin, or incline them to virtue, than their posterity, and yet were without all those additional and extraordinary means! They were not only without such exceeding great means as we now have, when our lives are made so very short, but had vastly less advantages than their antediluvian posterity, who to prevent their being wicked, and to make them good, had so much labor and toil, sweat and sorrow, briers and thorns, with a body gradually decaying and returning to the dust. Our first parents had the extreme disadvantage of being placed amongst many and exceeding great temptations — not only without toil or sorrow, pain or disease, to humble and mortify them, and a sentence of death to wean them from the world, but — in the midst of the most exquisite and alluring sensitive delights; the reverse in every respect, and the highest degree, of that most gracious state of requisite means, and great advantages, which mankind now enjoy! If mankind now, under these vast restraints, and great advantages, are not restrained from general, and as it were universal wickedness, how could it be expected that Adam and Eve, created with no better hearts than men bring into the world now, and destitute of all these advantages, and in the midst of all contrary disadvantages, should escape it?
These things are not agreeable to Moses’s account. That represents a happy state of peculiar favors and blessings before the fall, and the curse coming afterwards; but according to this scheme, the curse was before the fall, and the great favors and testimonies of love followed the apostasy. And the curse before the fall must be a curse with a witness, being to so high a degree the reverse of such means, means so necessary for such a creature as innocent man, and in all their multitude and fullness proving too little. Paradise therefore must be a mere delusion! There was indeed a great show of favor, in placing man in the midst of such delights. But this delightful garden, it seems, with all its beauty and sweetness, was in its real tendency worse than the apples of Sodom. It was but a mere bait (God forbid the blasphemy), the more effectually enticing by its beauty and deliciousness, to Adam’s eternal ruin. Which might be the more expected to be fatal to him, seeing he was the first man, having no capacity superior to his posterity, and wholly without the advantage of their observations, experiences, and improvements.
I proceed now to take notice of an additional proof of the doctrine we are upon, from another part of the Holy Scripture. A very clear text for original righteousness we have in Ecc. 7:29, “Lo, this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”
It is an observation of no weight which Dr. T. makes on this text, that the word man is commonly used to signify mankind in general, or mankind collectively taken. It is true, it often signifies the species of mankind; but then it is used to signify the species, with regard to its duration and succession from its beginning, as well as with regard to its extent. The English word mankind is used to signify the species: but what then? Would it be an improper way of speaking, to say, that when God first made mankind, he placed them in a pleasant paradise (meaning in their first parents), but now they live in the midst of briers and thorns? And it is certain, that to speak thus of God making mankind — his giving the species an existence in their first parents, at the creation — is agreeable to the scripture use of such an expression. As in Deu. 4:32, “Since the day that God created man upon the earth.” Job 20:4, “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon the earth.” Isa. 45:12, “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens.” Jer. 27:5, “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power.” All these texts speak of God making man, signifying the species of mankind; and yet they all plainly have respect to God making man at first, when he made the earth, and stretched out the heavens. In all these places the same word, Adam, is used as in Ecclesiastes; and in the last of them, used with (HE emphaticum) the emphatic sign, as here; though Dr. T. omits it, when he tells us he gives us a catalogue of all the places in Scripture where the word is used. And it argues nothing to the Doctor’s purpose, that the pronoun they is used; — THEY have sought out many inventions. This is properly applied to the species, which God made at first upright; the species begun with more than one, and continued in a multitude. As Christ speaks of the two sexes, in the relation of man and wife, continued in successive generations; Mat. 19:4, “He that made them at the beginning, made them male and female;” having reference to Adam and Eve.
No less impertinent, and also very unfair, is his criticism on the word translated upright. Because the word sometimes signifies right, he would from thence infer, that it does not properly signify moral rectitude, even when used to express the character of moral agents. He might as well insist, that the English word upright, sometimes, and in its most original meaning, signifies right up, or in an erect posture, therefore it does not properly signify any moral character, when applied to moral agents. And indeed less unreasonably; for it is known, that in the Hebrew language, in a peculiar manner, most words used to signify moral and spiritual things, are taken from external and natural objects. The word (Jashar) is used, as applied to moral agents, or to the words and actions of such (If I have not misreckoned), about an hundred and ten times in Scripture; and about an hundred of them, without all dispute, to signify virtue, or moral rectitude (though Dr. T. is pleased to say, the word does not generally signify a moral character), and for the most part it signifies true virtue, or virtue in such a sense, as distinguishes it from all false appearances of virtue, or what is only virtue in some respects, but not truly so in the sight of God. It is used at least eighty times in this sense: and scarce any word can be found in the Hebrew language more significant of this. It is thus used constantly in Solomon’s writings (where it is often found) when used to express a character or property of moral agents. And it is beyond all controversy, that he uses it in this place (the 7th of Eccles) to signify moral rectitude, or a character of real virtue and integrity. For the wise man is speaking of persons with respect to their moral character, inquiring into the corruption and depravity of mankind (as is confessed, p. 184), and he here declares, he had not found more than one among a thousand of the right stamp, truly and thoroughly virtuous and upright: which appeared a strange thing! But in this text he clears God, and lays the blame on man: man was not made thus at first. He was made of the right stamp, altogether good in his kind (as all other things were), truly and thoroughly virtuous, as he ought to be; but they have sought out many inventions. Which last expression signifies things sinful, or morally evil (as is confessed, p. 185). And this expression, used to signify those moral evils he found in man, which he sets in opposition to the uprightness man was made in, shows, that by uprightness he means the most true and sincere goodness. The word rendered inventions, most naturally and aptly signifies the subtle devices, and crooked deceitful ways, of hypocrites, wherein they are of a character contrary to men of simplicity and godly sincerity; who, though wise in that which is good, are simple concerning evil. Thus the same wise man, in Pro. 12:2. sets a truly good man in opposition to a man of wicked devices, whom God will condemn. Solomon had occasion to observe many who put on an artful disguise and fair show of goodness; but on searching thoroughly, he found very few truly upright. As he says, Pro. 20:6, “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” So that it is exceeding plain, that by uprightness, in this place (Ecc. 7), Solomon means true moral goodness.
What our author urges concerning many inventions, whereas Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit was but one invention, is of as little weight as the rest of what he says on this text. For the many lusts and corruptions of mankind, appearing in innumerable ways of sinning, are all the consequence of that sin. The great corruption men are fallen into by the original apostasy, appears in the multitude of the wicked ways to which they are inclined. And therefore these are properly mentioned as the fruits and evidences of the greatness of that apostasy and corruption.
PART II, CHAP. I
Concerning the kind of death, threatened to our first parents, if they should eat of the forbidden fruit.
Dr. T. in his observations on the three first chapters of Genesis says (p. 7), “The threatening to man in case of transgression was, that he should surely die. — Death is the losing of life. Death is opposed to life, and must be understood according to the nature of that life, to which it is opposed. Now the death here threatened can, with any certainty, be opposed only to the life God gave Adam, when he created him (Gen. 2:7). Anything besides this must be pure conjecture, without solid foundation.”
To this I would say; it is true, Death is opposed to life, and must be understood according to the nature of that life, to which it is opposed. But does it therefore follow, that nothing can be meant by it but the loss of life? Misery is opposed to happiness, and sorrow is in Scripture often opposed to joy; but can we conclude from thence, that nothing is meant in Scripture by sorrow, but the loss of joy? or that there is no more in misery, than the loss or absence of happiness? And if the death threatened to Adam can, with certainty, be opposed only to the life given to Adam, when God created him; I think, a state of perfect, perpetual, and hopeless misery is properly opposed to that state Adam was in, when God created him. For I suppose it will not be denied, that the life Adam had, was truly a happy life; happy in perfect innocence, in the favor of his Maker, surrounded with the happy fruits and testimonies of his love. And I think it has been proved, that he also was happy in a state of perfect righteousness. Nothing is more manifest, than that it is agreeable to a very common acceptation of the word life, in Scripture, that it be understood as signifying a state of excellent and happy existence. Now that which is most opposite to that life and state in which Adam was created, is a state of total, confirmed wickedness, and perfect hopeless misery, under the divine displeasure and curse; not excluding temporal death, or the destruction of the body, as an introduction to it.
Besides, that which is much more evident, than anything Dr. T. says on this head, is, that the death which was to come on Adam, as the punishment of his disobedience, was opposed to that life, which he would have had as the reward of his obedience in case he had not sinned. Obedience and disobedience are contraries; the threatenings and promises which are sanctions of a law, are set in direct opposition; and the promises, rewards, and threatened punishments, are most properly taken as each others’ opposites. But none will deny, that the life which would have been Adam’s reward, if he had persisted in obedience, was eternal life. And therefore we argue justly that the death which stands opposed to that life (Dr. T. himself being judge, p. 120. S) is manifestly eternal death, a death widely different from the death we now die — to use his own words. If Adam, for his persevering obedience, was to have had everlasting life and happiness, in perfect holiness, union with his Maker, and enjoyment of his favor, and this was the life which was to be confirmed by the tree of life; then, doubtless, the death threatened in case of disobedience, which stands in direct opposition to this, was an exposure to everlasting wickedness and misery, in separation from God, and in enduring his wrath.
When God first made mankind, and made known to them the methods of his moral government towards them, in the revelation he made of himself to the natural head of the whole species — and letting him know, that obedience to him was expected, and enforcing his duty with the sanction of a threatened punishment, called by the name of death — we ma with the greatest reason suppose, in such a case, that by death was meant the most proper punishment of the sin of mankind, and which he speaks of under that name throughout the Scripture, as the proper wages of sin; and this was always, from the beginning, understood to be so in the church of God. It would be strange indeed, if it should be otherwise. It would have been strange, if, when the law of God was first given, and enforced by the threatening of a punishment, nothing at all had been mentioned of that great punishment, ever spoken of under the name of death — in the revelations which he has given to mankind from age to age — as the proper punishment of the sin of mankind. And it would be no less strange, if when the punishment which was mentioned and threatened on that occasion, was called by the same name, even death, yet we must not understand it to mean the same thing, but something infinitely diverse, and infinitely more inconsiderable.
But now let us consider what that death is, which the Scripture ever speaks of as the proper wages of sin, and is spoken of as such by God’s saints in all ages of the church. I will begin with the New Testament. When the apostle Paul says (Rom. 6:23), “The wages of sin is death,” Dr. T. tells us (p. 120. S) that this means eternal death, the second death, a death widely different from the death we now die. The same apostle speaks of death as the proper punishment due for sin, Rom. 7:5, and chap. 8:13; 2 Cor. 3:7; 1 Cor. 15:56. In all which places, Dr. T. himself supposes the apostle to intend eternal death. [See p. 78. note on Rom. 7:5, and note on verse 6. Note on Rom. 5:20. Note on Rom. 7:8.] And when the apostle James speaks of death, as the proper reward, fruit, and end of sin (Jam. 1:15), “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death;” it is manifest, that our author supposes eternal destruction to be meant. And the apostle John, agreeably to Dr. T.’s sense, speaks of the second death as that which sin unrepented of will bring all men to at last. Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14, and 21:8. In the same sense the apostle John uses the word in his first epistle, 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that hateth his brother, abideth in death.” In the same manner Christ used the word from time to time, when he was on earth, and spake concerning the punishment of sin. John 5:24, “He that heareth my word, and believeth, etc. hath everlasting life; and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.” Where, according to Dr. T.’s own way of arguing, it cannot be the death which we now die, that Christ speaks of, but eternal death, because it is set in opposition to everlasting life. John 6:50, “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.” Chap. 8:51, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” Chap. 11:26, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” In which places it is plain Christ does not mean that believers shall never see temporal death. (See also Mat. 10:28, and Luke 10:28). In like manner, the word was commonly used by the prophets of old, when they spake of death as the proper end and recompense of sin. So, abundantly by the prophet Ezekiel. Eze. 3:18, “When I say unto the wicked man, thou shalt surely die.” In the original it is, Dying thou shalt die: the same form of expression, which God used in the threatening to Adam. We have the same words again, Eze. 33:18. — In chap. 18:4. it is said, “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” (To the like purpose are Eze. 3:19, 20, and 18:4, 9, 13, 17-21, 24, 26, 28; chap. 33:8, 9, 12-14, 19.) And that temporal death is not meant in these places is plain, because it is promised most absolutely, that the righteous shall not die the death spoken of. Eze. 18:21, “He shall surely live, he shall not die.” (So Eze. 18:9, 17, 19, and 22; and chap. 3:21). And it is evident the prophet Jeremiah uses the word in the same sense. Jer. 31:30, “Every one shall die for his own iniquity.” And the same death is spoken of by the prophet Isa. Isa. 11:4, “With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (see also Isa. 66:16 with verse 24). Solomon, who we must suppose was thoroughly acquainted with the sense in which the word was used by the wise, and by the ancients, continually speaks of death as the proper fruit, issue, and recompense of sin, using the world only in this sense. Pro. 11:19, “As righteousness tendeth to life, so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.” (So Pro. 5:5, 6, 23; Pro. 7:27; 8:36; 9:18; 10:21; 11:19; 14:12; 15:10; 18:21; 19:16, 21, and Pro. 23:13, 14). He cannot mean temporal death, for he often speaks of it as a punishment of the wicked, wherein the righteous shall certainly be distinguished from them: as in Pro. 12:28, “In the way of righteousness is life, and in the path-way thereof is no death” (so in Pro. 10:2; 11:4; 13:14; 14:27, and many other places). But we find this same wise man observes, that as to temporal death, and temporal events in general, there is no distinction, but that they happen alike to good and bad (Ecc. 2:4-16; 8:14, and 9:2, 3). His words are remarkable in Ecc. 7:15, “There is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness; and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life, in his wickedness.” So we find, David in the book of Psalms uses the word death in the same sense, when he speaks of it as the proper wages and issue of sin, Psa. 34:21, “Evil shall slay the wicked.” He speaks of it as a certain thin, Psa. 139:19, “Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God.” And he speaks of it as a thing wherein the wicked are distinguished from the righteous, Psa. 69:28, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” — And thus we find the word death used in the Pentateuch, where we have the account of the threatening of death to Adam. When, in these books, it is spoken of as the proper fruit, and appointed reward of sin, it is to be understood of eternal death. Thus, Deu. 30:15, “See, I have set before thee this day life, and good, and death and evil.” Verse 19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing.” The life that is spoken of here, is doubtless the same that is spoken of in Lev. 18:5, “Ye shall therefore keep my statues and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them.” This the apostle understands of eternal life; as is plain by Rom. 10:5, and Gal. 3:12. But that the death threatened for sin in the law of Moses meant eternal death, is what Dr. T. abundantly declares. So in his note on Rom. 5:20 (Par. p. 291), “Such a constitution the law of Moses was, subjecting those who were under it to death for every transgression: meaning by death ETERNAL DEATH.” These are his words. The like he asserts in many other places. When it is said, in the place now mentioned, I have set before thee LIFE and DEATH, blessing and cursing, without doubt, the same blessing and cursing is meant which God had already set before them with such solemnity, in the 27th and 28th chapters; where we have the sum of the curses in those last words of the 27th chapter, Cursed is every one, which confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. Which the apostle speaks of as a threatening of eternal death; and with him Dr. T. himself. [Note on Rom. 5:20. Par. p. 291-299.] In this sense also Job and his friends spake of death, as the wages and end of sin, who lived before any written revelation, and had their religion, and their phraseology about religion, from the ancients.
If any should insist upon it as an objection — against supposing that death was intended to signify eternal death in the threatening to Adam — that this use of the word is figurative: I reply, that though this should be allowed, yet it is by no means so figurative as many other phrases used in the history contained in these three chapters: as when it is said, God said, Let there be light; God said, Let there be firmament, etc. as though God spake such words with a voice. So when it is said, God called the light, day: God called the firmament, heaven, etc. God rested on the seventh day; as though he had been weary, and then rested. And when it is said, They heard the voice of God walking; as though the Deity had feet, and took steps on the ground. Dr. T. supposes, that when it is said of Adam and Eve, Their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked; by the word naked is meant a state of guilt (p. 12). Which sense of the word, naked, is much further from the common use of the word, than the supposed sense of the word death. So this author supposes the promise concerning the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head, while the serpent should bruise his heel, is to be understood of the Messiah destroying the power and sovereignty of the devil, and receiving some slight hurt from him (p. 15, 16). Which makes the sentence full of figures. And why might not God deliver threatenings to our first parents in figurative expressions, as well as promises?
But indeed, there is no necessity of supposing the word death, or the Hebrew word so translated, if used in the manner that has been supposed, to have been figurative at all. It does not appear but that this word, in its true and proper meaning, might signify perfect misery, and sensible destruction; though the word was also applied to signify something more external and visible. There are many words in our language, such as heart, sense, view, discovery, conception, light, and many others, which are applied to signify external things; as that muscular part of the body called heart; external feeling, called sense; the sight of the bodily eye, called view; the finding of a thing by its being uncovered, called discovery; the first beginning of the fetus in the womb, called conception; and the rays of the sun, called light. Yet these words do as truly and properly signify other things of a more spiritual internal nature; such as the disposition, affection, perception, and thought of the mind, and manifestation and evidence to the soul. Common use, which governs the propriety of language, makes the latter things to be as much signified by those words, in their proper meaning, as the former. It is especially common in the Hebrew, and I suppose, other Oriental languages, that the same word that signifies something external, does no less properly and usually signify something more spiritual. So the Hebrew words used for breath, have such a double signification; Neshama signifies both breath and the soul; and the latter as commonly as the former: Ruach is used for breath or wind, but yet more commonly signifies spirit. Nephesh is used for breath, but yet more commonly signifies soul. So the word Lébh, heart, no less properly signifies the soul, especially with regard to the will and affections, than that part of the body so called. The word Shalom, which we render peace, no less properly signifies prosperity and happiness, than mutual agreement. The word translated life, signifies the natural life of the body, and also the perfect and happy state of sensible active being; and the latter as properly as the former. So the word death, signifies destruction, as to outward sensibility, activity, and enjoyment: but it has most evidently another signification, which in the Hebrew tongue is no less proper, viz. perfect, sensible, hopeless ruing and misery.
As to the objection, that the phrase, Dying thou shalt die, is several times used in the books of Moses, to signify temporal death, it can be of no force. For it has been shown already, that the same phrase is sometimes used in Scripture to signify eternal death, in instances much more parallel with this. But indeed nothing can be certainly argues concerning the nature of the thing intended, from its being expressed in such a manner. For it is evident, that such repetitions of a word in the Hebrew language, are no more than an emphasis upon a word in the more modern languages, to signify the great degree of a thing, the importance or certainty of it, etc. When we would signify and impress these, we commonly put an emphasis on our words. Instead of this, the Hebrews, when they would express a thing strongly, repeated or doubled the word, the more to impress the mind of the hearer; as may be plain to everyone in the least conversant with the Hebrew Bible. The repetition in the threatening to Adam, therefore, only implies the solemnity and importance of the threatening. But God may denounce either eternal or temporal death with peremptoriness and solemnity, and nothing can certainly be inferred concerning the nature of the thing threatened, because it is threatened with emphasis, more than this, that the threatening is much to be regarded. Though it be true, that it might in an especial manner be expected that a threatening of eternal death would be denounced with great emphasis, such a threatening being infinitely important, and to be regarded above all others.
PART II, CHAP. I
Wherein it is inquired, whether there be anything in the history of the three first chapters of Genesis, which should lead us to suppose, that God, in his constitution with Adam, dealt with mankind in general, as included in their first father, and that the threatening of death, in case he should eat the forbidden fruit, had respect not only to him, but his posterity?
Dr. T. rehearsing that threatening to Adam, Thou shalt surely die, and giving us his paraphrase of it (p. 7, 8). concludes thus; “Observe, here is not one word relating to Adam’s posterity.” But it may be observed, in opposition to this, that there is scarcely one word that we have an account of, which God ever said to Adam or Eve, but what does manifestly include their posterity in the meaning and design of it. There is as much of a word said about Adam’s posterity in that threatening, as there is in those words of God to Adam and Eve, Gen. 1:28, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it;” and as much in events, to lead us to suppose Adam’s posterity to be included. There is as much of a word of his posterity in that threatening, as in those words (Gen. 1:29), “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, — and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed,” etc. Even when God was about to create Adam, what he said on that occasion, had not respect only to Adam, but to his posterity. Gen. 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,” etc. And, what is more remarkable, there is as much of a word said about Adam’s posterity in the threatening of death, as there is in that sentence (Gen. 3:19), “Unto dust shalt thou return.” Which Dr. T. himself supposes to be a sentence pronounced for the execution of that very threatening, Thou shalt surely die. This sentence he himself also often speaks of as including Adam’s posterity: and, what is much more remarkable still, is a sentence which Dr. T. himself often speaks of, as including his posterity, as SILENCE OF CONDEMNATION, as a JUDICIAL sentence, and a sentence which God pronounced with regard to Adam’s POSTERITY, ACTING THE PART OF A JUDGE, and as such condemning them to temporal death. — Though he is therein utterly inconsistent with himself, inasmuch as he at the same time abundantly insists, that death is not brought on Adam’s posterity in consequence of his sin, at all as a punishment; but merely by the gracious disposal of a father, bestowing a benefit of the highest nature upon him (Page 27. S).
But I shall show, that I do not in any of these things falsely charge or misrepresent Dr. T. — He speaks of the sentence in Gen. 3:19, as pronounced in pursuance of the threatening in the former chapter, in these words (p. 17, 18), “The sentence upon the man, Gen. 3:17, 18, 19. first affects the earth, upon which he was to subsist: the ground should be encumbered with many noxious weeds, and the tillage of it more toilsome: which would oblige the man to procure a sustenance by hard labor, till he should die, and drop into the ground, from whence he was taken. Thus death entered by sin into the world, and man became mortal ACCORDING TO THE THREATENING IN THE FORMER CHAPTER” Now, if mankind became mortal, and must die, according to the threatening in the former chapter, then doubtless the threatening in the former chapter, Thou shalt die, had respect not only to Adam, but to mankind, and included Adam’s posterity. yea, and Dr. T. is express in it, and very often so, that the sentence concerning dropping into the ground, or returning to the dust, did include Adam’s posterity. So, p. 20, speaking there of that sentence, “Observe (says he) that we their posterity are in fact subjected to the same affliction and mortality, here by sentence inflicted upon our first parents.” — p. 42. Note, “But yet men through that long tract, were all subject to death, therefore they must be included in the sentence.” The same he affirms in innumerable other places, some of which I shall have occasion to mention presently.
The sentence which is founded on the threatening, and (as Dr. T. says) according to the threatening, extends to as many as were included in the threatening, and to no more. If the sentence be upon a collective subject, indefinitely, the greatest part of which were not included in the threatening, nor were ever threatened at all, then certainly this sentence is not according to the threatening, nor built upon it. If the sentence be according to the threatening, then we may justly explain the threatening by the sentence. And if we find the sentence spoken to the same person whom the threatening was spoken, and spoken in the second person singular in like manner with the threatening, founded on the threatening, and according to it; and if we find the sentence includes Adam’s posterity, then we may certainly infer, that so did the threatening. And hence, that both the threatening and sentence were delivered to Adam as the public head and representative of his posterity.
And we may also further infer from it, in another respect, directly contrary to Dr. T.’s doctrine, that the sentence which included Adam’s posterity, was to death, as a punishment to that posterity, as well as to Adam himself. For a sentence pronounced in execution of a threatening, is for a punishment. Threatenings are of punishments. Neither God nor man are wont to threaten others with favors and benefits.
But lest any of this author’s admirers should stand to it, that it may very properly be said, God threatened mankind with bestowing great kindness upon them, I would observe, that Dr. T. himself often speaks of this sentence as pronounced by God on all mankind, as condemning them; as a sentence of condemnation judicially pronounced, or a sentence which God pronounced on all mankind acting as their judge, and in a judicial proceeding. This he affirms in multitudes of places. In p. 20, speaking of this sentence, which, he there says, subjects us, Adam’s and Eve’s posterity, to affliction and mortality, he calls it a judicial act of condemnation. “The judicial act of condemnation (says he) clearly implies, a taking him to pieces, and turning him to the ground from whence he was taken.” And (p. 28, 29. Note.) “In all the Scripture from one end to the other, there is recorded but one judgment to condemnation, which came upon all men, and that is, Gen. 3:17-19. Dust thou art,” etc. p. 40, speaking of the same, he says, “All men are brought under condemnation.” In p. 27, 28, “By judgment, judgment to condemnation, it appeareth evidently to me, he (Paul) means the being adjudged to the forementioned death; he means the sentence of death, of a general mortality, pronounced upon mankind, in consequence of Adam’s first transgression. And the condemnation inflicted by the judgment of God, answereth to, and is in effect the same thing with, being dead.” p. 30, “The many, that is mankind, were subject to death by the judicial act of God.” p. 31, “Being made sinners, may very well signify, being adjudged, or condemned to death. — For the Hebrew word, etc. signifies to make one a sinner by a judicial sentence, or to condemn.” — p. 178. Par. on Rom. 5:19, “Upon the account of one man’s disobedience, mankind were judicially constituted sinners; that is, subjected to death, by the sentence of God the Judge.” — And there are many other places where he repeats the same thing. And it is pretty remarkable, that (page 48, 49) immediately after citing Pro. 17:15, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, are both an abomination to the Lord” — and when he is careful in citing these words, to put us in mind, that it is meant of a judicial act — yet, in the very next words, he supposes that God himself does so, since he constantly supposes that Adam’s posterity, whom God condemns, are innocent. His words are these, “From all this it followeth, that as the judgment, that passed upon all men to condemnation, is death’s coming upon all men, by the judicial act of God, upon occasion of Adam’s transgression: so,” etc. — And it is very remarkable, that (p. 3, 4, 7. S) he insists, “That in Scripture no action is said to be imputed, reckoned, or accounted to any person for righteousness or CONDEMNATION, but the proper act and deed of that person.” — And yet he thus continually affirms, that all mankind are made sinners by a judicial act of God the Judge, even to condemnation, and judicially constituted sinners, and so subjected to a judicial sentence of condemnation, on occasion of Adam’s sin; and all according to the threatening denounced to Adam, “Thou shalt surely die:” though he supposes Adam’s posterity were not included in the threatening, and are looked upon as perfectly innocent, and treated wholly as such.
I am sensible Dr. T. does not run into all this inconsistency, only through oversight and blundering; but that he is driven to it, to make out his matters in his evasion of that noted paragraph in the fifth chapter of Romans; especially those three sentences; (Rom. 5:16) “The judgment was by one to condemnation.” (Rom. 5:18) “By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation;” and (Rom. 5:19) “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” And I am also sensible of what he offers to salve the inconvenience, viz. “That if the threatening had immediately been executed on Adam, he would have had no posterity; and that so far the possible existence of Adam’s posterity fell under the threatening of the law, and into the hands of the judge, to be disposed of as he should think fit: and that this is the ground of the judgment to condemnation, coming upon all men.” (Page 95, 90, 91. S.) But this is trifling, to a great degree: for,
1. Suffering death, and failing of possible existence, are entirely different things.. If there had never been any such thing as sin committed, there would have been infinite numbers of possible beings, which would have failed of existence, by God’s appointment. God has appointed (if the phrase be allowable) not to bring into existence numberless possible worlds, each replenished with innumerable possible inhabitants. But is this equivalent to God’s appointing them all to suffer death?
2. Our author represents, that by Adam’s sin, the possible existence of his posterity fell into the hands of the Judge, to be disposed of as he should think fit. But there was no need of any sin of Adam, or of anybody else, in order to their being brought into God’s hands, in this respect. The future possible existence of all created beings is in God’s hands, antecedently to the existence of any sin. And therefore, infinite numbers of possible beings, without any relation to Adam, or any other sinning being, fail of their possible existence. And if Adam had never sinned, yet it would be unreasonable to suppose, but that innumerable multitudes of his possible posterity would have failed of existence by God’s disposal. For will any be so unreasonable as to imagine, that God would and must have brought into existence as many of his posterity as it was possible should be, if he had not sinned? Or, that then it would not have been possible, that any other persons of his posterity should ever have existed, than those individual persons who now actually suffer death, and return to the dust?
3. We have many accounts in Scripture, which imply the actual failing of the possible existence of innumerable multitudes of Adam’s posterity, yea, of many more than ever come into existence. As, of the possible posterity of Abel, the possible posterity of all them that were destroyed by the flood, and the possible posterity of the innumerable multitudes, which we read of in Scripture, destroyed by sword, pestilence, etc. And if the threatening to Adam reached his posterity, in no other respect than this, that they were liable to be deprived by it of their possible existence, then these instances are much more properly a fulfillment of that threatening, than the suffering of death by such as actually come into existence; and so is that which is most properly the judgment to condemnation, executed by the sentence of the Judge, proceeding on the ground of that threatening. But where do we ever find this so represented in Scripture? We read of multitudes cut off for their personal sins, who thereby failed of their possible posterity. And these are mentioned as God’s judgments on them, and effects of God’s condemnation of them: but when are they ever spoken of as God judicially proceeding against, and condemning their possible posterity?
4. Dr. T. in what he says concerning this matter, speaks of the threatening of the law delivered to Adam, which the possible existence of his posterity fell under, as the ground of the judgment to condemnation coming upon all men. But herein he is exceeding inconsistent with himself: for he affirms in a place fore-cited, that the Scripture never speaks of any sentence of condemnation coming upon all men, but that sentence in the third of Genesis, concerning man turning to dust. But, according to him, the threatening of the law delivered to Adam, could not be the ground of that sentence; for he greatly insists upon it, that that law was entirely abrogated before that sentence was pronounced, had no existence to have any such influence as might procure a sentence of death; and therefore this sentence was introduced entirely on another footing, a new dispensation of grace. The reader may see this matter strenuously urged, and particularly argued by him, p. 113-120. S. So that this sentence could not, according to him, have the threatening of that law for its ground, as he supposes; for it never stood upon that ground. It could not be called a judgment of condemnation, under any such view; for it could not be viewed in circumstances where it never existed.
5. If, as our author supposes, that the sentence of death on all men comes under the notion of a judgment to condemnation by this means, viz. that the threatening to Adam was in some respect the ground of it; then it also comes under the notion of a punishment: for threatenings annexed to breaches of laws, are to punishments; and a judgment of condemnation to the thing threatened, must be to punishment; and the thing condemned to, must have as much the notion of a punishment, as the sentence has the notion of a judgment to condemnation. But this Dr. T. wholly denies: he denies that death comes as any punishment at all; but insists that it comes only as a favor and benefit, and a fruit of fatherly love to Adam’s posterity, respected not as guilty, but wholly innocent. So that his scheme will not admit of its coming under the notion of a sentence to condemnation in any respect whatsoever. Our author’s supposition, that the possible existence of Adam’s posterity comes under the threatening of the law, and into the hands of the Judge, and is the ground of the condemnation of all men to death, implies, that death by this sentence is appointed to mankind as an evil, at least negatively so; as it is a privation of good: for he manifestly speaks of a non-existence as a negative evil. But herein he is inconsistent with himself: for he continually insists, that mankind are subjected to death only as a benefit, as has been before shown. According to him, death is not appointed to mankind, as a negative evil, as any cessation of existence, or even diminution of good; but on the contrary, as a means of a more happy existence, and a great increase of good.
So that this evasion of Dr. T. is so far from helping the matter, that it increases and multiplies the inconsistency. And that the law, with the threatening of death annexed, was given to Adam, as the head of mankind, and to his posterity as included in him, not only follow from some of our author’s own assertions — and the plain, full declarations of the apostle in the fifth of Romans, which drove Dr. T. into such gross inconsistencies — but the account given in the three first chapters of Genesis, directly and inevitably lead us to such a conclusion.
Though the sentence, Gen. 3:19, “Unto dust thou shalt return,” be not of equal extent with the threatening in the foregoing chapter, or an execution of the main curse of the law therein denounced — for, that it should have been so, would have been inconsistent with the intimations of mercy just before given — yet it is plain, this sentence is in pursuance of that threatening, being to something that was included in it. The words of the sentence were delivered to the same person with the words of the threatening, and in the same manner, in like singular terms, and as much without any express mention of his posterity. Yet it manifestly appears by the consequence, as well as all circumstances, that this posterity were included in the words of the sentence; as is confessed on all hands. And as the words were apparently delivered in the form of the sentence of a judge, condemning for something that he was displeased with, and ought to be condemned, viz. sin; and as the sentence to him and his posterity was but one, dooming to the same suffering, under the same circumstances, both the one and the other sentenced in the same words, spoken but once, and immediately to but one person, we hence justly infer, that it was the same thing to both; and not as Dr. T. suggests (p. 67) a sentence to a proper punishment to Adam, but a mere promise of favor to his posterity.
Indeed, sometimes our author seems to suppose, that God meant the thing denounced in this sentence, as a favor both to Adam and his posterity. (Page 25, 45, 46. S.) But to his posterity, or mankind in general, who are the main subject, he ever insists, that it was purely intended as a favor. And therefore, one would have thought, the sentence should have been delivered, with manifestations and appearances of favor, and not of anger. How could Adam understand it as a promise of great favor, considering the manner and circumstances of the denunciation? How could he think, that God would go about to delude him, by clothing himself with garments of vengeance, using words of displeasure and rebuke, setting forth the heinousness of his crime, attended with cherubims and a flaming sword; when all that he meant was only higher testimonies of favor than he had before in a state of innocence, and to manifest fatherly love and kindness, in promises of great blessings? If this was the case, God’s words to Adam must be understood thus: “Because thou hast done so wickedly, hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it; therefore I will be more kind to thee than I was in thy state of innocence, and do now appoint for thee the following great favors: Cursed be the ground for thy sake,” etc. And thus Adam must understand what was said, unless any will say (and God forbid that any should be so blasphemous), that God clothed himself with appearances of displeasure, to deceive Adam, and make him believe the contrary of what he intended, and lead him to expect a dismal train of evils on his posterity, contrary to all reason and justice, implying the most horribly unrighteous treatment of millions of perfectly innocent creatures. It is certain, there is not the least appearance in what God said, or the manner of it, as Moses gives us the account, of any other, than that God was now testifying displeasure, condemning the subject of the sentence he was pronouncing, as justly exposed to punishment for sin, and for that sin which he mentions.
When God was pronouncing this sentence, Adam doubtless understood, that God had respect to his posterity, as well as himself; though God spake wholly in the second person singular, Because thou hast eaten, — In sorrow thou shalt eat, — Unto the dust shalt thou return. But he had as much reason to understand God as having respect to his posterity, when he directed his speech to him in like manner in the threatening, Thou shalt surely die. The sentence plainly refers to the threatening, and results from it. The threatening says, If thou eat, thou shalt die: the sentence says, Because thou hast eaten thou shalt die. And Moses, who wrote the account, had no reason to doubt but that the affair would be thus understood by his readers; for such a way of speaking was well understood in those days: the history he gives us of the origin of things, abounds with it. Such a manner of speaking to the heads of the race, having respect to the progeny, is not only used in almost everything that God said to Adam and Eve, but even in what he said to the very birds and fishes, Gen. 1:22. And also in what he said afterwards to Noah, Gen. 9, to Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Canaan, Gen. 9:25-27. So in promises made to Abraham, God directed his speech to him, and spake in the second person singular, from time to time, but meant chiefly his posterity: To thee will I give this land. In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed, etc. etc. And in what is said of Ishmael, as of his person, but meant chiefly of his posterity, Gen. 16:12, and 17:20. Thus in what Isaac said to Esau and Jacob, in his blessing he spake to them in the second person singular; but meant chiefly their posterity. And so for the most part in the promises made to Isaac and Jacob; and in Jacob blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, and his twelve sons.
But I shall take notice of one or two things further, showing that Adam’s posterity were included in God’s establishment with him, and the threatening denounced for his sin; and that the calamities which come upon them in consequence of his sin, are brought on them as punishments.
This is evident from the curse on the ground; which if it be any curse at all, comes equally on Adam’s posterity with himself. And if it be a curse, then against whomsoever it is designed, and on whomsoever it terminates, it comes as a punishment, and not as a blessing, so far as it comes in consequence of that sentence.
Dr. T. (p. 19) says, “A curse is pronounced upon the ground, but no curse upon the woman and the man.” And (p. 45, 46. S) he insists, that the ground only was cursed, and not the man: as though a curse could terminate on lifeless, senseless earth! To understand this curse otherwise than as terminating upon man through the ground, would be as senseless as to suppose the meaning to be, The ground shall be punished and shall be miserable for thy sake. Our author interprets the curse on the ground, of its being encumbered with noxious weeds: but would these weeds have been any curse on the ground, if there had been no inhabitants, or if the inhabitants had been of such a nature, that these weeds should not have been noxious, but useful to them? It is said, Deu. 28:17, “Cursed shall be thy basket, and thy store:” and would he not be thought to talk very ridiculously, who should say, “Here is a curse upon the basket; but not a word of any curse upon the owner: and therefore we have no reason at all to look upon it as any punishment upon him, or any testimony of God’s displeasure towards him.” How plain is it, that when lifeless things, not capable either of benefit or suffering, are said to be cursed or blessed with regard to sensible beings — who use or possess these things, or have connection with them — the meaning must be, that these sensible beings are cursed or blessed in the other, or with respect to them! In Exo. 23:25, it is said, “He shall bless thy bread and thy water.” And I suppose, never anybody yet proceeded to such a degree of subtlety in distinguishing, as to say, “Here is a blessing on the bread and the water, which went into the possessor’s mouth, but no blessing on him.” To make such a distinction, with regard to the curse God pronounced on the ground, would in some respects be more unreasonable; because God is express in explaining the matter, declaring that it was for man’s sake, expressly referring this curse to him, as being for the sake of his guilt; and as consisting in the sorrow and suffering he should have from it: “In sorrow shalt thou eat of it. — Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” So that God’s own words tell us where the curse terminates. The words are parallel with those in Deu. 28:16, but only more plain and explicit, “Cursed shalt thou be in the field, or in the ground.”
If this part of the sentence was pronounced under no notion of any curse or punishment at all upon mankind, but, on the contrary, as making an alteration for the better, as to them — that instead of the sweet, but tempting, pernicious fruit of paradise, it might produce wholesome fruits, more for the health of the soul; that it might bring forth thorns and thistles, as excellent medicines, to prevent or cure moral distempers, diseases which would issue in eternal death — then it was a blessing on the ground, and not a curse; and it might more properly have been said, “BLESSED shall the ground be for thy sake. — I will make a happy change in it, that it may be a habitation more fit for a creature so infirm, and so apt to be overcome with temptation, as thou art.”
The event makes it evident, that in pronouncing this curse, God had as much respect to Adam’s posterity, as to himself. And so it was understood by his pious posterity before the flood; as appears by what Lamech, the father of Noah, says, Gen. 5:29, “And he called his name Noah; saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work, and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.”
Another thing which argues, that Adam’s posterity were included in the threatening of death — and that our first parents understood, when fallen, that the tempter, in persuading them to eat the forbidden fruit, had aimed at the punishment and ruin of both them and their posterity, and had procured it — is Adam immediately giving his wife that new name, Eve or Life, on the promise or intimation of the disappointment and overthrow of the tempter in that matter, by her seed. This Adam understood to be by his procuring LIFE; not only for themselves, but for many of their posterity; and thereby delivering them from that death and ruin which the serpent had brought upon them. Those that should be thus delivered, and obtain life, Adam calls the living. And because he observed, by what God had said, that deliverance, or life, was to be by the seed of the woman, he therefore remarks, that she is the mother of all living, and thereupon gives her a new name, LIFE, Gen. 3:20.
There is a great deal of evidence, that this is the occasion of Adam giving his wife her new name. This was her new honor, and the greatest honor, at least in her present state, that the Redeemer was to be of her seed. New names were wont to be given for something that was the person’s peculiar honour. So it was with regard to the new names of Abraham, Sarah, and Israel. Dr. T. himself observes, [Note annexed to 287.] that they who are saved by Christ, are called (äé îùíôåò, 2 Cor. 4:11), the living or they that live. Thus we find in the Old Testament, the righteous are called by the name of the living, Psa. 69:28, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” If what Adam meant by her being the mother of all living, was only her being the mother of mankind; and gave her the name life upon that account; it were much the most likely that he would have given her this name at first; when God first united them, under that blessing, be fruitful and multiply, when he had a prospect of her being the mother of mankind in a state of immortality, living indeed, living and never dying. But that Adam should at that time give her only the name of Isha, and then immediately on that melancholy change, by their coming under the sentence of death, with all their posterity — having now a new awful prospect of her being the mother of nothing but a dying race, all from generation to generation turning to dust, through her folly — he should change her name into life, calling her now the mother of all living, is (on that supposition) perfectly unaccountable. Besides, it is manifest, that it was not her being the mother of all mankind — or her relation, as a mother, to her posterity — but the quality of those of whom she was to be the mother, Adam had in view, in giving his wife this new name; as appears by the name itself, which signifies life. And if it had been only a natural and mortal life he had in view, this was nothing to distinguish her posterity from the brutes; for the very same name of living ones, or living things, is given from time to time to them. As in Gen. 1:21, 24, 28; chap. 2:19; chap. 6:19, 7:23, and 8:1, and many other places in the Bible. Besides, if by life the quality of her posterity was not meant, there was nothing in it to distinguish her from Adam; for thus she was no more the mother of all living, than he was the father of all living; and she could no more properly be called by the name of life on any such account, than he: but names are given for distinction. Doubtless Adam took notice of something distinguishing concerning her, that occasioned his giving her this new name. And I think it is exceeding natural to suppose, that as Adam had given her the first name from the manner of her creation, so he gave her the new name from redemption, and as it were new creation, through a Redeemer, of her seed. And, it is equally probable, that he should give her this name from that which comforted him, with respect to the curse that God had pronounced on him and the earth, as Lamech named Noah, Gen. 5:29, “Saying, this same shall comfort us concerning our work, and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” Accordingly he gave her this new name, not at her first creation, but immediately after the promise of a Redeemer. See Gen. 3:15-20.
Now, as to the consequence which I infer from Adam giving his wife this name, on the intimation which God had given — that Satan should by her seed be overthrown and disappointed, as to his malicious design in tempting the woman — it is, that great numbers of mankind should be saved, whom he calls the living; they should be saved from the effects of this malicious design of the old serpent, and from that ruin which he had brought upon them by tempting their first parents to sin; and so the serpent would be, with respect to them, disappointed and overthrown in his design. But how is any death, or indeed any calamity at all, brought upon their posterity by Satan’s malice in that temptation, if instead of that, all the consequent death and sorrow was the fruit of God’s fatherly love? an instance of his free and sovereign favor? And if multitudes of Eve’s posterity are saved from either spiritual or temporal death, by a Redeemer, one of her seed, how is that any disappointment of Satan’s design, in tempting our first parents? How came he to have any such thing in view, as the death of Adam’s and Eve’s posterity, by tempting them to sin, or any expectation that their death would be the consequence, unless he knew that they were included in the THREATENING?
Some have objected, against his posterity being included in the threatening delivered to Adam, that the threatening itself was inconsistent with his having any posterity: it being that he should die on the day that he sinned. To this I answer, that the threatening was not inconsistent with his having posterity, on two accounts:
I. Those words, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, according to the use of such like expressions among the Hebrews, do not signify immediate death, or that the execution shall be within twenty-four hours from the commission of the fact; nor did God by those words limit himself as the time of executing the threatened punishment; but that was still left to God’s pleasure. Such a phrase, according to the idiom of the Hebrew tongue, signifies no more than these two things:
1. A real connection between the sin and the punishment. So Eze. 33:12, 13, “The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression. As for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness: neither shall the righteous be able to live in the day that he sinneth: but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.” Here it is said, that in the day he sinneth, he shall not be able to live, but he shall die; not signifying the time when death shall be executed upon him, but the connection between his sin and death; such a connection as in our present common use of language is signified by the adverb of time, when; as if one should say, “According to the laws of our nation, so long as a man behaves himself as a good subject, he may live; but when he turns rebel, he must die:” not signifying the hour, day, or month, in which he must be executed, but only the connection between his crime and death.
2. Another thing which seems to be signified by such an expression, is, that Adam should be exposed to death by one transgression, without waiting to try him the second time. If he eat of that tree, he should immediately fall under condemnation, though afterwards he might abstain ever so strictly. In this respect the words are much of the same force with those words of Solomon to Shimei; 1 Kin. 2:37, “For it shall be that on the day that thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain, that thou shalt surely die.” Not meaning, that he should certainly be executed on that day, but that he should be assuredly liable to death for the first offense, and that he should not have another trial to see whether he would go over the brook Kidron a second time. — Besides,
II. If the words had implied, that Adam should die that very day (within twenty-four or twelve hours) or that moment in which he transgressed, yet it will by no means follow, that God obliged himself to execute the punishment in its utmost extent on that day. The sentence was in great part executed immediately; he then died spiritually; he lost his innocence and original righteousness, and the favor of God; a dismal alteration was made in his soul, by the loss of that holy divine principle, which was in the highest sense the life of the soul. In this he was truly ruined and undone that very day; becoming corrupt, miserable, and helpless. And I think it has been shown, that such a spiritual death was one great thing implied in the threatening. And the alteration then made in his body and external state, was the beginning of temporal death. Grievous external calamity is called by the name of death in Scripture, Exo. 10:17. — “Entreat the Lord that he may take away this death.” Not only was Adam’s soul ruined that day, but his BODY was ruined; it lost its beauty and vigor, and became a poor, dull, decaying, dying thing.
And besides all this, Adam was that day undone in a more dreadful sense; he immediately fell under the curse of the law, and condemnation to eternal perdition. In the language of Scripture, he is dead, that is, in a state of condemnation to death; even as our author often explains this language, he that believes in Christ, immediately receives life. He passes at that time from death to life, and thenceforward (to use the apostle John’s phrase) “has eternal life abiding in him.” But yet, he does not then receive eternal life in its highest completion; he has but the beginning of it; and receives it in a vastly greater degree at death. The proper time for the complete fullness, is not till the day of judgment. When the angels sinned, their punishment was immediately executed in a degree; but their full punishment is not till the end of the world. And there is nothing in god’s threatening to Adam that bound him to execute his full punishment at once; nor anything which determines, that he should have no posterity. The constitution which God established and declared, determined, that IF he sinned, and had posterity, he and they should die. But there was no constitution determining the actual being of his posterity in this case; what posterity he should have, how many, or whether any at all. All these things God had reserved in his own power: the law and its sanction intermeddled not with the matter.
It may be proper in this place also to take some notice of that objection of Dr. T. against Adam being supposed to be a federal head for his posterity, that it gives him greater honor than Christ, as it supposes that all his posterity would have had eternal life by his obedience, if he had stood; and so a greater number would have had the benefit of his obedience, than are save by Christ. [Page 120, etc. S.] — I think, a very little consideration is sufficient to show, that there is no weight in this objection. For the benefit of Christ’s merit may nevertheless be vastly beyond that which would have been by the obedience of Adam. For those that are saved by Christ, are not merely advanced to happiness by his merits, but saved from the infinitely dreadful effects of Adam’s sin, and many from immense guilt, pollution, and misery, by personal sins. They are also brought to a holy and happy state through infinite obstacles; and exalted to a far greater degree of dignity, felicity, and glory, than would have been due for Adam’s obedience; for ought I know, many thousand times so great. And there is enough in the gospel-dispensation, clearly to manifest the sufficiency of Christ’s merits for such effects in all mankind. And how great the number will be, that shall actually be the subjects of them, or how great a proportion of the whole race, considering the vast success of the gospel that shall be in that future, extraordinary, and glorious season, often spoken of, none can tell. And the honor of these two federal heads arises not so much from what was proposed to each for his trial, as from their success, and the good actually obtained; and also the manner of obtaining. Christ obtains the benefits men have through him by proper merit of condignity, and a true purchase by an equivalent; which would not have been the case with Adam if he had obeyed.
I have now particularly considered the account which Moses gives us, in the beginning of the Bible, of our first parents, and God’s dealings with them; the constitution he established with them, their transgression, and what followed. And on the whole, if we consider the manner in which God apparently speaks to Adam from time to time; and particularly, if we consider how plainly and undeniably his posterity are included in the sentence of death pronounced on him after his fall, founded on the foregoing threatening; and consider the curse denounced on the ground for his sake, for his sorrow, and that of his posterity; and also consider, what is evidently the occasion of his giving his wife the new name of Eve, and his meaning in it — and withal consider apparent fact in constant and universal events, with relation to the state of our first parents and their posterity from that time forward, through all ages of the world — I cannot but think, it must appear to every impartial person, that Moses’s account does, with sufficient evidence, lead all mankind, to whom his account is communicated, to understand, that God, in his constitution with Adam, dealt with him as a public person — as the head of the human species — and had respect to his posterity, as included in him. And it must appear, that this history is given by divine direction, in the beginning of the first written revelation, in order to exhibit to our view the origin of the present sinful, miserable state of mankind, that we might see what that was, which first gave occasion for all those consequent wonderful dispensations of divine mercy and grace towards mankind, which are the great subject of the Scriptures, both of the Old and New testament; and that these things are not obscurely and doubtfully pointed forth, but delivered in a plain account of things, which easily and naturally exhibits them to our understandings.
OBSERVATIONS ON OTHER PARTS OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, CHIEFLY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, THAT PROVE THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
ORIGINAL depravity may well be argued, from wickedness being often spoken of in Scripture, as a thing belonging to the race of mankind, and as if it were a property of the species. So in Psa. 14:2, 3, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good; no, not one.” The like we have again, Psa. 53:2, 3. — Dr. T. says (p. 104, 105), “The Holy Spirit does not mean this of every individual; because in the very same psalm, he speaks of some that were righteous, verse 5. God is in the generation of the righteous.” But how little is this observation to the purpose? For who ever supposed, that no unrighteous men were ever changed by divine grace, and afterwards made righteous? The psalmist is speaking of what men are as they are the children of men, born of the corrupt human race; and not as born of God, whereby they come to be the children of God, and of the generation of the righteous. The apostle Paul cites this place in Rom. 3:10-12 to prove the universal corruption of mankind; but yet in the same chapter he supposes the same persons spoken of as wicked, may become righteous, through the righteousness and grace of God.
Wickedness is spoken of in other places in the book of Psalms, as a thing that belongs to men, as of the human race, as sons of men. Thus, in Psa. 4:2, “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity?” etc. Psa. 57:4, “I lie among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.” Psa. 58:1, 2, “Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weight out the violence of your hands in the earth.” Our author mentioning these places, says (p. 105. note), “There was a strong party in Israel disaffected to David’s person and government, and sometimes he chooseth to denote them by the sons or children of men.” But it would have been worth his while to have inquired, Why the psalmist should choose to denote the worst men in Israel by this name? Why he should choose thus to disgrace mankind, as if he compellation of sons of men most properly belonged to such as were of the vilest character, and as if all the sons of men, even every one of them, were of such a character, and none of them did good; no, not one? Is it not strange, that the righteous should not be thought worthy to be called sons of men, and ranked with that noble race of beings, who are born into the world wholly right and innocent? It is a good, easy, and natural reason, why he chooseth to call the wicked, sons of men, as a proper name for them, That by being of the sons of men, or of the corrupt, ruined race of mankind, they come by their depravity. And the psalmist himself leads us to this very reason, Psa. 58, “Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? yea, in heart ye work wickedness ye weigh out the violence of your hands. The wicked are estranged from the womb,” etc. Of which I shall speak more by and by.
Agreeable to these places is Pro. 21:8, “The way of man is froward and strange; but as for the pure, his work is right.” He that is perverse in his walk, is here called by the name of man, as distinguished from the pure: which I think is absolutely unaccountable, if all mankind by nature are pure, and perfectly innocent, and all such as are froward and strange in their ways, therein depart from the native purity of all mankind. The words naturally lead us to suppose the contrary; that depravity and perverseness properly belong to mankind as they are naturally, and that a being made pure, is by an after-work, by which some are delivered from native pollution, and distinguished from mankind in general: which is perfectly agreeable to the representation in Rev. 14:4, where we have an account of a number that were not defiled, but were pure, and followed the Lamb; of whom it is said, “These were redeemed from among men.”
To these things agree Jer. 17:5, 9. In verse 5, it is said, “Cursed is he that trusteth in man.” And in verse 9, this reason is given, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” What heart is this so wicked and deceitful? Why, evidently the heart of him, who, it was said before, we must not trust; and that is MAN. It alters not the case as to the present argument, whether the deceitfulness of the heart here spoken of, be its deceitfulness to the man himself, or to others. So Ecc. 9:3, “Madness is in the heart of the sons of men, while they live.” And those words of Christ of Peter, Mat. 16:23, “Get thee behind me, Satan — for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. Signifying plainly that to be carnal and vain, and opposite to what is spiritual and divine, is what properly belongs to men in their present state. The same thing is supposed in that of the apostle, 1 Cor. 3:3, “For ye are yet carnal. For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” And that in Hos. 6:7, “But they, like men, have transgressed the covenant.” To these places may be added Mat. 7:11, “If ye being evil, know how to give good gifts.” Jam. 4:5, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us, lusteth to envy?” — 1 Pet. 4:2, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” — Yet above all, that in Job 15:16, “How much more abominable and filthy is man, who drinketh iniquity like water?” Of which more presently.
Now what account can be given of these things, on Dr. T.’s scheme? How strange is it, that we should have such descriptions, all over the Bible, of MAN, and the SONS OF MEN! Why should man be so continually spoken of as evil, carnal, perverse, deceitful, and desperately wicked, if all men are by nature as perfectly innocent, and free from any propensity to evil, as Adam was the first moment of his creation, all made right, as our author would have us understand Ecc. 7:29? Why, on the contrary, is it not said, at least as often, and with equal reason, that the heart of man is right and pure; that the way of man is innocent and holy; and that he who savors true virtue and wisdom, savors the things that be of men? Yea, and why might it not as well have been said, the Lord looked down from heaven on the sons of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and did seek after God; and they were all right, altogether pure, there was none inclined to do wickedness, no, not one?
Of the like import with the texts mentioned are those which represent wickedness as what properly belongs to the WORLD; and that they who are otherwise, are saved from the world, and called out of it. As John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth; because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” Chap. 8:23, “Ye are of this world: I am not of this world.” John 14:17, “The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive; because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him.” Chap. 15:18, 19, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Rev. 14:3, 4, “These are they which were redeemed for the earth, — redeemed from among men.” John 17:9, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” Verse 14, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” 1 John 3:13, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” Chap. 4:5, “They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” Chap. 5:19, “We are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” It is evident, that in these places, by the world is meant the world of mankind; not the habitation, by the inhabitants: for, it is the world spoken of as loving, hating, doing evil works, speaking, hearing, etc.
The same thing is shown, when wickedness is often spoken of as being man’s OWN, in contradistinction from virtue and holiness. So men’s lusts are often called their OWN hearts’ lusts, and their practicing wickedness is called walking in their OWN ways, walking in their OWN counsels, in the imagination of their OWN heart, and in the sight of their OWN eyes, according to their OWN devices, etc. These things denote wickedness to be a quality belonging properly to the character and nature of mankind in their present state: as, when Christ would represent that lying is remarkably the character and the very nature of the devil in his present state, he expresses it thus, John 8:44, “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
And that wickedness belongs to the very nature of men in their present state, may be argued from those places which speak of mankind as being wicked in their childhood, or from their childhood. So Pro. 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Nothing is more manifest, than that the wise man in this book continually uses the word folly, or foolishness, for wickedness; and that this is what he means in this place, the words themselves explain. For the rod of correction is proper to drive away no other foolishness, but that which is of a moral nature. The word rendered bound, signifies (as observed in Pool’s Synopsis) a close and firm union. The same word is used in Pro. 6:21, “Bind them continually upon thine heart.” And chap. 7:3, “Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” [To the like purpose in Pro. 3:3; and Deu. 11:18, where this word is used.] The same verb is used, 1 Sam. 18:1, “The soul of Jonathan was knit, or bound, to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” — But how comes wickedness to be so firmly bound, and strongly fixed, in the hearts of children, if it be not there naturally? They have had no time firmly to fix habits of sin, by long custom in actual wickedness, as those who have lived many years in the world.
The same thing is signified in that noted place, Gen. 8:21, “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil, from his youth.” It alters not the case, whether it be translated for or though the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, as Dr. T. would have it. The word translated youth, signifies the whole of the former part of the age of man, which commences from the beginning of life. The word in its derivation, has reference to the birth or beginning of existence. It comes from a [Hebrew] word [meaning] to shake off, as a tree shakes off its ripe fruit, or a plant its seed; the birth of children being commonly represented by a tree yielding fruit, or a plant yielding seed. So that the word here translated youth, comprehends not only what we in English most commonly call the time of youth, but also childhood and infancy, and is very often used to signify these latter. (A word of the same root is used to signify a young child, or a little child, in the following places; 1 Sam. 1:24, 25, 27; 1 Kin. 3:7, and 11:17; 2 Kin. 2:23; Job 33:25; Pro. 22:6; 23:13, and 29:21; Isa. 10:19; 11:6, and 65:20; Hos. 11:1. The same word is used to signify an infant, in Exo. 2:6, and 10:9; Jdg. 13:5, 7, 8, 24; 1 Sam. 1:22, and 4:21; 2 Kin. 5:14; Isa. 7:16, and 8:4.)
Dr. T. says (p. 124, note), that he “conceives, from the youth, is a phrase signifying the greatness or long duration of a thing.” But if by long duration he means anything else than what is literally expressed, viz. from the beginning of life, he has no reason to conceive so, neither has what he offers so much as the shadow of a reason for his conception. There is no appearance in the words of the two or three texts he mentions, of their meaning anything else than what is most literally signified. And it is certain, that what he suggests is not the ordinary import of such a phrase among the Hebrews; but that thereby is meant from the beginning, or the early time of life, or existence; as may be seen in the places following, where the same word in the Hebrew is used, as in the eighth of Genesis. 1 Sam. 12:2, “I am old and grey-headed — and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.” Psa. 71:5, 6, “Thou are my trust from my youth: by thee have I been holden up from the womb. Thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels.” Verse 17, 18, “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works: now also, when I am old and grey-headed, forsake me not.” Psa. 129:1, 2, “Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say: many a time have they afflicted me from my youth; yet have they not prevailed against me.” Isa. 47:12, “Stand now with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth” (So also Isa. 47:15). 2 Sam. 19:7, “That will be worse unto thee, than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.” Jer. 3:24, 25, “Shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers, from our youth. — We have sinned against the Lord our God from our youth, even to this day.” [So Gen. 46:34; Job 31:18; Jer. 32:30, and 48:11; Eze. 4:14; Zec. 13:5.]
And it is to be observed, that according to the manner of the Hebrew language, when it is said, such a thing has been from youth, or the first part of existence, the phrase is to be understood as including that first time of existence. So Jos. 6:21, “They utterly destroyed all, from the young to the old,” (so in the Hebrew), i.e. including both. (So Gen. 19:4, and Est. 3:13.)
And as mankind are represented in Scripture, as being of a wicked heart from their youth, so in other places they are spoken of as being thus from the womb. Psa. 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” It is observable, that the psalmist mentions this as what belongs to the wicked, as the SONS OF MEN: for, these are the preceding words; “Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness.” Then it follows, the wicked are estranged FROM THE WOMB, etc. The next verse is, their poison is like the poison of a serpent. Serpents are poisonous as soon as they come into the world; they derive a poisonous nature by their generation. Dr. T. (p. 134, 135) says, “It is evident that this is a scriptural figurative way of aggravating wickedness on the one hand, and of signifying early and settled habits of virtue on the other, to speak of it as being from the womb.” And as a probable instance of the latter, he cites that in Isa. 49:1, “The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.” But I apprehend, that in order to seeing this to be either evident or probable, a man must have eyes peculiarly affected. I humbly conceive that such phrases as that in the 49th of Isaiah, of God’s calling the prophet from the womb, are evidently not of the import which he supposes; but mean truly from the beginning of existence, and are manifestly of like signification with that which is said of the prophet Jeremiah, Jer. 1:5, “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee: before thou camest out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Which surely means something else besides a high degree of virtue: it plainly signifies that he was, from his first existence, set apart by God for a prophet. And it would be as unreasonable to understand it otherwise, as to suppose the angel meant any other than that Samson was set apart to be a Nazarite from the beginning of his life, when he says to his mother, “Behold, thou shalt conceive and bear a son: and now drink no wine, nor strong drink, etc. For the child shall be a Nazarite to God, from the womb, to the day of his death.” By these instances it is plain, that the phrase, from the womb, as the other, from the youth as used in Scripture, properly signifies from the beginning of life.
Very remarkable is that place, Job 15:14-16, “What is man, that he should be clean? And he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight: how much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water!” And no less remarkable is our author’s method of managing it. The 16th verse expresses an exceeding degree of wickedness, in as plain and emphatical terms, almost, as can be invented; every word representing this in the strongest manner: “How much more abominable and filthy is man, that drinketh iniquity like water!” I cannot now recollect, where we have a sentence equal to it in the whole Bible, for an emphatical, lively, and strong representation of great wickedness of heart. Any one of the words, as such words are used in Scripture, would represent great wickedness: if it had been only said, “How much more abominable is man! Or, how much more filthy is man! Or, man that drinketh iniquity.” But all these are accumulated with the addition of — like water, — the further to represent the boldness or greediness of men in wickedness. Though iniquity be the most deadly poison, yet men drink it as boldly as they drink water, are as familiar with it as with their common drink, and drink it with like greediness, as he that is thirsty drinks water. That boldness and eagerness in persecuting the saints, by which the great degree of the depravity of man’s heart often appears, as thus represented, Psa. 14:4, “Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread?” And the greatest eagerness of thirst is represented by thirsting as an animal thirsts after water, Psa. 42:1.
Now let us see the soft, easy, light manner, in which Dr. T. treats this place. (p. 143), “How much more abominable and filthy is man, IN COMPARISON OF THE DIVINE PURITY, who drinketh iniquity like water! who is attended with so many sensual appetites, and so apt to indulge them. You see the argument, man in his present weak and fleshly state, cannot be clean before God. Why so? Because he is conceived and born in sin, by reason of Adam’s sin? No such thing. But because, if the purest creatures are not pure, in comparison of God, much less a being subject to so many INFIRMITIES as a MORTAL man. Which is a demonstration to me, not only that Job and his friends did not intend to establish the doctrine we are now examining, but that they were wholly strangers to it.” Thus he endeavors to reconcile this text with his doctrine of the perfect native innocence of mankind; in which we have a notable specimen of his demonstrations, as well as of that great impartiality and fairness in examining and expounding the Scripture, of which he so often makes a profession!
In this place we are not only told, how wicked man’s heart is, but also how men come by such wickedness; even by being of the race of mankind, by ordinary genetion: What is man, that he should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Our author (p. 141, 142) represents man being born of a woman, as a periphrasis, to signify man; and that there is no design in the words to give a reason, why man is not clean and righteous. But the case is most evidently otherwise, if we may interpret the book of Job by itself. It is most plain, that man’s being born of a woman is given as a reason of his not being clean; Job 14:4, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Job is speaking there expressly of man’s being born of a woman, as appears in verse 1. And here how plain is it, that this is given as a reason of man’s not being clean! Concerning this Dr. T. says, That this has no respect to any moral uncleanness, but only common frailty, etc. But how evidently is this also otherwise! when that uncleanness, which a man has by being born of a woman, is expressly explained of unrighteousness, in the next chapter at the 14th verse, “What is man that he should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?” Also in Job 25:4, “How then can man be justified with God? And how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” It is a moral cleanness Bildad is speaking of, which a man needs in order to his being justified. His design is, to convince Job of his moral impurity, and from thence of God’s righteousness in his severe judgments upon him; and not of his natural frailty.
And, without doubt, David has respect to this way of derived wickedness of heart, when he says, Psa. 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” It alters not the case, as to the argument we are upon, whether the word conceive me, signifies to conceive, or to nurse; which latter, our author takes so much pains to prove: for, when he has done all, he speaks of it as a just translation of the words to render them thus, I was BORN in iniquity, and in sin did my mother nurse me. (p. 135) If it is owned that man is born in sin, it is not worth the while to dispute, whether it is expressly asserted, that he is conceived in sin. But Dr. T. after his manner, insists, that such expressions, as being born in sin, being transgressors from the womb, and the like, are only phrases figuratively to denote aggravation, and a high degree of wickedness. But the contrary has been already demonstrated, from many plain scripture instances. Nor is one instance produced, in which there is any evidence that such a phrase is used in such a manner. A poetical sentence out of Virgil’s AEneid, has here been produced, and made much of by some, as parallel with this, in what Dido says to AEneas, in these lines:
Nec tibi diva parens, generis nec dardanus auctor,
Perfide: Sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
Caucasus, hyrcanaeque admorunt ubera tygres.
In which she tells AEneas, that not a goddess was his mother, nor Anchises his father; but that he had been brought forth by a horrid rocky mountain, and nursed at the dugs of tigers, to represent the greatness of his cruelty to her. But how unlike and unparalleled is this! Nothing could be more natural, than for a woman overpowered with the passion of love, and distracted with raging jealousy and disappointment, thinking herself treated with brutish perfidy and cruelty, by a lover whose highest fame had been his being the son of a goddess, to aggravate his inhumanity and hard-heartedness with this, that his behavior was not worthy the son of a goddess, nor becoming one whose father was an illustrious prince: and that he acted more as if he had been brought forth by hard unrelenting rocks, and had sucked the dugs of tigers. But what is there in the case of David parallel, or at all in like manner leading him to speak of himself as born in sin, in any such figurative sense? He is not speaking himself, nor anyone speaking to him, of any excellent and divine father and mother, of whom he was born: nor is there any appearance of his aggravating his sin, by its being unworthy of his high birth. There is nothing else visible in David’s case to lead him to take notice of his being born in sin, but only his having such experience of the continuance and power of indwelling sin, after so long a time, and so many and great means to engage him to holiness; which showed that sin was inbred, and in his very nature.
Dr. T. often objects to these and other texts, brought by divines to prove original sin, that there is no mention made in them of Adam, nor of his sin. He cries out, Here is not the least mention, or intimation of Adam, or any ill effects of his sin upon us. — Here is not one word, nor the least hint of Adam, or any consequences of his sin, etc. etc. He says (p. 142), “If Job and his friends had known and believed the doctrine of a corrupt nature, derived from Adam’s sin only, they ought in reason and truth to have given this as the true and only reason of the human imperfection and uncleanness they mention.” But these objections and exclamations are made no less impertinently, than frequently. It is no more a proof, that corruption of nature did not come by Adam’s sin, because many times when it is mentioned, his sin is not expressly mentioned as the cause of it; than that death did not come by Adam’s sin, as Dr. T. says it did. For though death, as incident to mankind, is mentioned so often in the Old Testament, and by our Savior in his discourses, yet Adam’s sin is not once expressly mentioned, after the three first chapters of Genesis, anywhere in all the Old Testament, or the four Evangelists, as the occasion of it.
What Christian has there ever been, that believed the moral corruption of human nature, who ever doubted that it came in the way, of which the apostle speaks, when he says, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin?” Nor indeed have they any more reason to doubt of it, than to doubt of the whole history of our first parents, because Adam’s name is so rarely mentioned, on any occasion in Scripture, after that first account of him, and Eve’s never at all; and because we have no more any express mention of the particular manner, in which mankind were first brought into being, either with respect to the creation of Adam or Eve. It is sufficient, that the abiding, most visible effects of these things, remain in the view of mankind in all ages, and are often spoken of in Scripture; and that the particular manner of their being introduced, is once plainly set forth in the beginning of the Bible, in that history which gives us an account of the origin of all things. And doubtless it was expected, by the great author of the Bible, that the account in the three first chapters of Genesis should be taken as a plain account of the introduction of both natural and moral evil into the world. The history of Adam’s sin, with its circumstances, God’s threatening, the sentence pronounced upon him after his transgression and the immediate consequences, consisting in so vast an alteration in his state — and the state of the world, with respect to all his posterity — most directly and sufficiently lead us to understand the rise of calamity, sin, and death, in this sinful, miserable world.
It is fit we all should know, that it does not become us to tell the Most High, how often he shall particularly explain and give the reason of any doctrine which he teaches, in order to our believing what he says. If he has at all given us evidence that it is a doctrine agreeable to his mind, it becomes us to receive it with full credit and submission; and not sullenly to reject it, because our notions and humors are not suited in the manner, and number of times, of his particularly explaining it. How often is pardon of sins promised in the Old Testament to repenting and returning sinners! How many hundred times is God’s special favor there promised to the sincerely righteous, without any express mention of these benefits being through Christ! Would it therefore become us to say, that inasmuch as our dependence on Christ for these benefits is a doctrine, which, if true, is of such importance, God ought expressly to have mentioned Christ’s merits as the reason and ground of the benefits, if he knew they were the ground of them; and should have plainly declared it sooner, and more frequently, if ever he expected we should believe him, when he did tell us of it? How oft is vengeance and misery threatened in the Old Testament to the wicked, without any clear and express signification of any such thing intended, as that everlasting fire, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, in another world, which Christ so often speaks of as the punishment appointed for all the wicked! Would it now become a Christian, to object and say, that if God really meant any such thing, he ought in reason and truth to have declared it plainly and fully; and not to have been so silent about a matter of such vast importance to all mankind, for four thousand years together?
OBSERVATIONS ON VARIOUS OTHER PLACES OF SCRIPTURE, PRINCIPALLY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, PROVING THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN
Observations on John 3:6 in connection with some other passages in the New Testament.
THOSE words of Christ, giving a reason to Nicodemus, why we must be born again, John 3:6, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” have not without good reason been produced by divines, as a proof of the doctrine of original sin: supposing, that by flesh here is meant the human nature in a debased and corrupt state. Yet Dr. T. (p. 144) thus explains these words, that which is born of the flesh, is flesh; “that which is born by natural descent and propagation, is a man consisting of body and soul, or the mere constitution and powers of a man in their natural state.” But the constant use of these terms, flesh and spirit, in other parts of the New Testament, when thus set in opposition, and the latter said to be produced by the Spirit of God, as here — and when expressive of the same thing, which Christ is here speaking of to Nicodemus, viz. the requisite qualifications to salvation — will fully vindicate the sense, of our divines. Thus in the 7th and 8th chapters of Romans, where these terms flesh and spirit (óáñî and ðíåõìá) are abundantly repeated, and set in opposition, as here. So Rom. 7:14. The law is (ðíåõìáôéêïò) spiritual, but I am (óáñêéêïò) carnal, sold under sin. He cannot only mean, “I am a man consisting of body and soul, and having the powers of a man.” Verse 18, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” He does not mean to condemn his frame, as consisting of body and soul; and to assert, that in his human constitution, with the powers of a man, dwells no good thing. And when he says in the last verse of the chapter, “With the mind, I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh, the law of sin;” he cannot mean, “I myself serve the law of God; but with my innocent human constitution, as having the powers of a man, I serve the law of sin.” And when he says in the next words, the beginning of the 8th chapter, “there is no condemnation to them, — that walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit;” and verse 4, “The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh;” he cannot mean, “there is no condemnation to them that walk not according to the powers of a man,” etc. And when he says (Rom. 8:5, 6), “They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; and to be carnally minded is death;” he does not intend, “they that are according to the human constitution, and the powers of a man, do mind the things of the human constitution and powers; and to mind these is death.” And when he says, Rom. 8:7 and 8, “The carnal (or fleshly) mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be: so that they that are in the flesh, cannot please God;” he cannot mean, that to mind the things which are agreeable to “the powers and constitution of a man,” who as our author says, is constituted or made right, is enmity against God; and that a mind which is agreeable to this right human constitution, as God hath made it, is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be; and that they who are according to such a constitution, cannot please God. And when it is said, verse 9, “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit;” the apostle cannot mean, “ye are not in the human nature, as constituted of body and soul, and with the powers of a man.” It is most manifest, that by the flesh here the apostle means a nature that is corrupt, of an evil tendency, and directly opposite to the law and holy nature of God; so that to walk according to it, and to have a mind so conformed, is to be an utter enemy to God and his law; in a state of perfect inconsistency with subjection to God, and of being pleasing to him; and in a sure and infallible tendency to death, and utter destruction. And it is plain, that here by walking after, or according to, the flesh, is meant the same thing as walking according to a corrupt and sinful nature; and to walk according to the spirit, is to walk according to a holy and divine nature, or principle: and to be carnally minded, is the same as being viciously and corruptly minded; and to be spiritually minded, is to be of a virtuous and holy disposition.
When Christ says, John 3:6, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh,” he represents the flesh not merely as a quality; for it would be incongruous to speak of a quality as a thing born. Therefore man, as in his whole nature corrupt, is called flesh; which is agreeable to other scripture representations, where the corrupt nature is called the old man, the body of sin, and the body of death. Agreeable to this are those representations in the 7th and 8th chapters of Romans. There, flesh is figuratively represented as a person, according to the apostle’s manner. This is observed by Mr. Locke, and after him by Dr. T. who takes notice, that the apostle, in the 6th and 7th of Romans, represents sin as a person; and that he figuratively distinguishes in himself two persons, speaking of flesh as his person. For I know that in ME, that is, in my FLESH, dwelleth no good thing. And it may be observed, that in the 8th chapter he still continues this representation, speaking of the flesh as a person. Accordingly, in the 6th and 7th verses, he speaks of the mind of the flesh (öñïíçìáñêïò) and of the mind of the spirit (ðíåõìáôïò) as if the flesh and spirit were two opposite persons, each having a mind contrary to that of the other. Dr. T. interprets this mind of the flesh, and mind of the spirit, as though the flesh and the spirit were the different objects, about which the mind is conversant. But this is plainly beside the apostle’s meaning; who speaks of the flesh and spirit as the subjects in which the mind is; and in a sense the agents, but not the objects, about which it acts. We have the same phrase again. Rom. 8:27, “He that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is the mind of the spirit” (öñïíçìá ðíåìáôïò). The mind of the spiritual nature in the saints is the same with the mind of the Spirit of God himself, who imparts and actuates that spiritual nature; and here the spirit is the subject and agent; but not the object. The same apostle, in a similar manner, uses the word (íïïò) mind. Col. 2:18, “Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind (õðï ôïõ íïïò ôçò óáñêïò áõôïõ) by the mind of his flesh.” And this agent so often called flesh, represented by the apostle as altogether evil, without any good thing dwelling in it, or belonging to it — yea perfectly contrary to God and his law, and tending only to death and ruin, and directly opposite to the spirit — is what Christ speaks of to Nicodemus as born in the first birth, and furnishing a reason why there is a necessity of a new birth, in order to a better production.
One thing is particularly observable in that discourse of the apostle — in which he so often uses the term flesh, as opposite to spirit — that he expressly calls it sinful flesh, Rom. 8:3. It is manifest, that by sinful flesh he means the same thing with that flesh spoken of in all the context: and that when it is said, Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, the expression is equipollent with those that speak of Christ as made sin, and made a curse for us.
Flesh and spirit are opposed to one another in Gal. 5 in the same manner as in the 8th of Romans. And there, assuredly, by flesh cannot be meant only the human nature of body and soul, or the mere constitution and powers of a man, as in its natural state, innocent and right. In Gal. 5:16 the apostle says, “Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh:” the flesh, is something of an evil inclination, desire, or lust. But this is more strongly signified in the next words; “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other.” What could have been said more plainly, to show that what the apostle means by flesh, is something very evil in its nature, and an irreconcilable enemy to all goodness? And it may be observed, that in these words, and those that follow, the apostle still figuratively represents the flesh as a person or agent, desiring, acting, having lusts, and performing works. And by works of the flesh, and fruits of the spirit, which are opposed to each other (from Gal. 5:19, to the end), are plainly meant the same as works of a sinful nature, and fruits of a holy renewed nature. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,” etc. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, “ etc. The apostle, by flesh, does not mean anything that is innocent and good in itself, which only needs to be restrained, and kept in proper bounds; but something altogether evil, which is to be destroyed. 1 Cor. 5:5, “To deliver such an one to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh.” We must have no mercy on it; we cannot be too cruel to it; it must even be crucified. Gal. 5:24, “They that are Christ’s, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
The apostle John — the same apostle that writes the account of what Christ said to Nicodemus — by the spirit means the same thing as a new, divine, and holy nature, exerting itself in a principle of divine love, which is the sum of all Christian holiness. 1 John 3:23, 24, “And that we should love one another, as he gave us commandment; and he that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in him and he in him: and hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit that he hath given us. Chap. 4:12, 13, “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us: hereby know we, that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” The spiritual principle in us being as it were a communication of the Spirit of God to us.
And as by (ðíåõìá) spirit, is meant a holy nature, so by the epithet (ðíåõìôéêïò) spiritual, is meant the same as truly virtuous and holy. Gal. 6:1, “Ye that are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.” The apostle refers to what he had just said at the end of the foregoing chapter, where he had mentioned meekness as a fruit of the spirit. And so by carnal, or fleshly (óáñêéêïò) is meant the same as sinful. Rom. 7:14, “The law is spiritual (i.e. holy), but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
And it is evident, that by flesh, as the word is used in the New Testament, and opposed to spirit, when speaking of the qualifications for eternal salvation, is meant — not only what is now vulgarly called the sins of the flesh, consisting in inordinate appetites of the body, and their indulgence; but — the whole body of sin, implying those lusts that are most subtle, and farthest from any relation to the body; such as pride, malice, envy, etc. When the works of the flesh are enumerated, Gal. 5:19-21, they are vices of the latter kind chiefly that are mentioned; “idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings.” So, pride of heart is the effect or operation of the flesh. Col. 2:18, “Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind:” in the Greek (as before observed), by the mind of the flesh. So, pride, envying, and strife, and division, are spoken of as works of the flesh, 1 Cor. 3:3, 4, “For ye are yet carnal (óáñêéêïé, fleshly). For whereas there is envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal?” Such kind of lusts do not depend on the body, or external senses; for the devil himself has them in the highest degree, who has not, nor ever had, anybody or external senses to gratify.
Here, if it should be inquired, how corruption or depravity in general, or the nature of man as corrupt and sinful, came to be called flesh, and not only that corruption which consists in inordinate bodily appetites? I think, what the apostle says in the last cited place, “Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” leads us to the true reason. It is because a corrupt and sinful nature is what properly belongs to mankind, or the race of Adam, as they are in themselves, and as they are by nature. the word flesh is often used in both the Old and the New Testament to signify mankind in their present state. To enumerate all the places, would be very tedious; I shall therefore only mention a few in the New Testament. Mat. 24:22, “Except those days should be shortened, no flesh should be saved.” Luke 3:6, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” John 17:2, “Thou hast given him power over all flesh.” [See also Acts 2:17; Rom 3:20; 1 Cor. 1:29; Gal. 2:16.] Man’s nature, being left to itself, forsaken of the Spirit of God, as it was when man fell, and consequently forsaken of divine and holy principles, of itself became exceeding corrupt, utterly depraved and ruined: and so the word flesh, which signifies man, came to be used to signify man as he is in himself, in his natural state, debased, corrupt, and ruined. On the other hand, the word spirit came to be used to signify a divine and holy principle, or new nature: because that is not of man, but of God, by the indwelling and vital influence of his Spirit. And thus to be corrupt, and to be carnal, or fleshly, and to walk as men, are the same thing. And so in other parts of Scripture, to savor the things that be of man, and to savor things which are corrupt, are the same; and, sons of men, and wicked men, also are the same, as observed before. And on the other hand, to savor the things that be of God, and to receive the things of the Spirit of God, are phrases that signify as much as relishing and embracing true holiness or divine virtue.
All these things confirm what we have supposed to be Christ’s meaning in saying, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” His speech implies, that what is born in the first birth of man, is nothing but man as he is of himself, without anything divine in him; depraved, debased, sinful, ruined man, utterly unfit to enter into the kingdom of God, and incapable of the spiritual divine happiness of that kingdom. But that which is born, in the new birth, of the Spirit of God, is a spiritual principle, a holy and divine nature, meet for the heavenly kingdom. It is no small confirmation of this being the true meaning, that the words understood in this sense, contain the proper and true reason, why a man must be born again, in order to enter into the kingdom of God; the reason given everywhere in other parts of Scripture for the necessity of a renovation, a change of mind, a new heart, etc. in order to salvation: to give a reason of which to Nicodemus, is plainly Christ’s design in the words which have been insisted on. — Before I proceed, I would observe one thing as a corollary from what has been said.
Corol. If by flesh and spirit, when spoken of in the New Testament, and opposed to each other, in discourses on the necessary qualifications for salvation, we are to understand what has been now supposed, it will not only follow, that men by nature are corrupt, but wholly corrupt, without any good thing. If by flesh is meant man’s nature, as he receives it in his first birth, then therein dwelleth no good thing; as appears by Rom 7:18. It is wholly opposite to God, and to subjection to his law, as appears by Rom. 8:7, 8. It is directly contrary to true holiness, and wholly opposes it, as appears by Gal. 5:17. So long as men are in their natural state, they not only have no good thing, but it is impossible they should have or do any good thing; as appears by Rom. 8:8. There is nothing in their nature, as they have it by the first birth, whence should arise any true subjection of God; as appears by Rom. 8:7. If there were anything truly good in the flesh, or in man’s nature, or natural disposition, under a moral view, then it should only be amended; but the Scripture represents as though we were to be enemies to it, and were to seek nothing short of its entire destruction, as before observed. And elsewhere the apostle directs not to the amending of the old man, but putting it off, and putting on the new man; and seeks not to have the body of death made better, but to be delivered from it; and says, “that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (which doubtless means the same as a man new born), old things are (not amended, but) passed away, and all things are become new.”
But this will be further evident, if we particularly consider the apostle’s discourse in 1 Cor. the latter part of the second chapter and the beginning of the third. There the apostle speaks of the natural man, and the spiritual man; where natural and spiritual are opposed just in the same manner as carnal and spiritual often are. In 1 Cor. 2:14, 15, he says, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual, judgeth all things.” And not only does the apostle here oppose natural and spiritual, just as he elsewhere does carnal and spiritual, but his following discourse evidently shows, that he means the very same distinction, the same two distinct and opposite things. For immediately on his thus speaking of the difference between the natural and the spiritual man, he says, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” Referring manifestly to what he had been saying, in the immediately preceding discourse, about spiritual and natural men, and evidently using the word, carnal, as synonymous with natural. By which it is put out of all reasonable dispute, that the apostle by natural men means the same as men in that carnal, sinful state, that they are in by their first birth; — notwithstanding all the glosses and criticisms, by which modern writers have endeavored to palm upon us another sense of this phrase; and so to deprive us of the clear instruction the apostle gives in that 14th verse, concerning the sinful miserable state of man by nature. Dr. T. says, by øõ÷éêï, is meant the animal man, the man who maketh sense and appetite the law of his action. If he aims to limit the meaning of the word to external sense, and bodily appetite, his meaning is certainly not the apostle’s. For the apostle in his sense includes the more spiritual vices of envy, strife, etc. as appears by the four first verses of the next chapter; where, as I have observed, he substitutes the word carnal in the place of øõ÷éêïò. So the apostle Jude used the word in like manner, opposing it to spiritual, or having the Spirit, Jude 19, “These are they that separate themselves, sensual (øõ÷éêïé), not having the Spirit.” The vices he had been just speaking of, were chiefly of the more spiritual kind, Jude 16, “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration, because of advantage.” The vices mentioned are much of the same kind with those of the Corinthians, for which he calls them carnal; envy, strife, divisions, saying, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos; and being puffed up for one against another. We have the same word again, Jam. 3:14, 15, “If ye have bitter envying and strife, glory not, and lie not against the truth: this wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual (øõ÷éêç) and devilish;” where also the vices the apostle speaks of are of the more spiritual kind.
So that on the whole, there is sufficient reason to understand the apostle, when he speaks of the natural man, in 1 Cor. 2:14. as meaning man in his native corrupt state. And his words represent him as totally corrupt, wholly a stranger and enemy to true virtue or holiness, and things appertaining to it, which it appears are commonly intended in the New Testament by things spiritual, and are doubtless here meant by things of the Spirit of God. These words also represent, that it is impossible man should be otherwise, while in his natural state. The expressions are very strong: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, is not susceptible of things of that kind, neither can he know them, can have no true sense or relish of them, or notion of their real nature and true excellency; because they are spiritually discerned; they are not discerned by means of any principle in nature, but altogether by a principle that is divine, something introduced by the grace of God’s Holy Spirit, which is above all that is natural. The words are in a considerable degree parallel with those of our Savior, John 14:16, 17, “He shall give you the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
PART II, CHAP. III
Observations on Romans 3:9-24
IF the Scriptures represents all mankind as wicked in their first state, before they are made partakers of the benefits of Christ’s redemption, then they are wicked by nature: for doubtless men’s first state is their native state, or that in which they come into the world. But the Scriptures do thus represent all mankind.
Before I mention particular texts to this purpose, I would observe, that it alters not the case, as to the argument in hand, whether we suppose these texts speak directly of infants, or only of such as understand something of their duty and state. For if all mankind, as soon as ever they are capable of reflecting, and knowing their own moral state, find themselves wicked, this proves that they are wicked by nature; either born so, or born with an infallible disposition to be wicked as soon as possible, if there by any difference between these; and either of them will prove men to be born exceedingly depraved. I have before proved, that a native propensity to sin certainly follows from many things said of mankind in the Scripture; but what I intend now, is to prove by direct scripture testimony, that all mankind, in their first state, are really of a wicked character.
To this purpose, exceeding full, express, and abundant is that passage of the apostle, in Rom. 3:9-24, which I shall set down at large, distinguishing the universal terms which are here so often repeated, by a distinct character. The apostle having in the first chapter (Rom. 1:16, 17) laid down his proposition, that none can be saved in any other way than through the righteousness of God, by faith in Jesus Christ, he proceeds to prove this point, by showing particularly that all are in themselves wicked, and without any righteousness of their own. First, he insists on the wickedness of the Gentiles, in the first chapter; next, on the wickedness of the Jews, in the second chapter. And then, in this place, he comes to sum up the matter, and draw the conclusion in the words following: “What then, are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are ALL under the sin: as it is written, there is NONE righteous, NO, NOT ONE; there is NONE that understandeth; there is NONE that seeketh after God; they are ALL gone out of the way; they are TOGETHER become unprofitable; there is NONE that doeth good, NO, NOT ONE. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace they have not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know, that whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, that EVERY mouth may be stopped, and ALL THE WORLD may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall NO FLESH be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law, is manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto ALL, and upon ALL them that believe; for there is NO DIFFERENCE. For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ.”
Here the thing which I would prove, viz. that mankind in their first state, before they are interested in the benefits of Christ’s redemption, are universally wicked, is declared with the utmost possible fullness and precision. So that if here this matter be not set forth plainly, expressly, and fully, it must be because no words can do it, and it is not in the power of language, or any manner of terms and phrases, however contrived and heaped up one upon another, determinately to signify any such thing.
Dr. T. to take off the force of the whole, would have us to understand (p. 104-107) that these passages quoted from the Psalms, and other parts of the Old Testament, do not speak of all mankind, nor of all the Jews; but only of them of whom they were true. He observes, there were many that were innocent and righteous; though there were also many, a strong party, that were wicked, corrupt, etc. of whom these texts were to be understood. Concerning which I would observe the following things:
1. According to this, the universality of the terms in these places, which the apostle cites from the Old Testament, to prove that all the world, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin, is nothing to his purpose. The apostle uses universal terms in his proposition, and in his conclusion, that ALL are under sin, that EVERY MOUTH is stopped, ALL THE WORLD guilty, — that by the deeds of the law NO FLESH can be justified. And he chooses out a number of universal sayings or clauses out of the Old Testament, to confirm this universality; as, There is none righteous; no, not one: they are all gone out of the way; there is none that understandeth, etc. But yet the universal terms found in them have no reference to any such universality, either in the collective, or personal sense; no universality of the nations of the world, or of particular persons in those nations, or in any one nation in the world: “but only of those of whom they are true!” That is, there is none of them righteous, of whom it is true, that they are not righteous: no, not one; there is none that understand, of whom it is true, that they understand not: they are all gone out of the way, of whom it is true, that they are gone out of the way, etc. Or these expressions are to be understood concerning that strong party in Israel, in David and Solomon’s days, and in the prophets’ days; they are to be understood of them universally. And what is that to the apostle’s purpose? How does such an universality of wickedness — that all were wicked in Israel, who were wicked; or, that there was a particular evil party, all of which were wicked — confirm that universality which the apostle would prove, viz. That all Jews and Gentiles, and the whole world, were wicked, and every mouth stopped, and that no flesh could be justified by their own righteousness.
Here nothing can be said to abate the nonsense, but this, that the apostle would convince the Jews, that they were capable of being wicked, as well as other nations; and to prove it, he mentions some texts, which show that there was wicked party in Israel a thousand years ago. And as to the universal terms which happened to be in these texts, the apostle had no respect to them; but his reciting them is as it were accidental, they happened to be in some texts which speak of an evil party in Israel, and the apostle cites them as they are, not because they are any more to his purpose for the universal terms, which happen to be in them. But let the reader look on the words of the apostle, and observe the violence of such a supposition. Particularly let the words of the 9th and 10th verses, and their connection, be observed. All are under sin: as it is written, There is none righteous; no, not one. How plain it is, that the apostle cites that latter universal clause out of the 14th Psalm, to confound the preceding universal words of his own proposition! And yet it will follow from what Dr. T. supposes, that the universality of the terms in the last words, there is none righteous; no, not one, hath no relation at all to that universality he speaks of in the preceding clause, to which they are joined, all are under sin: and is no more a confirmation of it, than if the words were thus, “There are some or there are many in Israel, that are not righteous.”
2. To suppose, the apostle’s design in citing these passages, was only to prove to the Jews, that of old there was a considerable number of their nation that were wicked men, is to suppose him to have gone about to prove what none of the Jews denied, or made the least doubt of, even the Pharisees, the most self-righteous sect of them, who went furthest in glorying in the distinction of their nation from other nations, as a holy people, knew it, and owned it; they openly confessed that their forefathers killed the prophets, Mat. 23:29-31. And if the apostle’s design had been only to refresh their memories, to put them in mind of the ancient wickedness of their nation, to lead to reflection on themselves as guilty of the like wickedness, as Stephen does (Acts 7) what need had he to go so far about to prove this — gathering up many sentences here and there which prove, that their scriptures speak of some as wicked men — and then to prove, that the wicked men spoken of must be Jews, by this argument, that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, or that whatsoever the books of the Old Testament said, it must be understood of that people who had the Old Testament? What need had the apostle of such an ambages as this, to prove to the Jews, that there had been many of their nation in past ages, which were wicked men; when the Old Testament was full of passages that asserted this expressly, not only of a strong party, but of the nation in general? How much more would it have been to such a purpose, to have put them in mind of the wickedness of the people in general in worshipping the golden calf; of the unbelief, murmuring, and perverseness of the whole congregation in the wilderness, for forty years, as Stephen does! Which things he had no need to prove to be spoken of their nation, by any such indirect argument as this, Whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law.
3. It would have been impertinent to the apostle’s purpose, even as our author understands his purpose, for him to have gone about to convince the Jews, that there had been a strong party of bad men in the time of David and Solomon, and the prophets, For Dr. T. supposes, that apostle’s aim is to prove the great corruption of both Jews and Gentiles when Christ came into the world. (See Key, § 307, 310.)
In order the more fully to evade the clear and abundant testimonies to the doctrine of original sin, contained in this part of the Holy Scripture, our author says, the apostle is here speaking of bodies of people, of Jews and Gentiles in a collective sense, as two great bodies into which mankind are divided; speaking of them in their collective capacity, and not with respect to particular persons; that the apostle’s design is to prove, that neither of these two great bodies, in their collective sense, can be justified by law, because both were corrupt; and so that no more is implied, than that the generality of both were wicked. (Page 102, 104, 117, 119, 120. and note on Rom. 3:10-19.) On this I observe,
(1.) That this supposed sense disagrees extremely with the terms and language which the apostle here makes use of. For according to this, we must understand, either.
First, that the apostle means no universality at all, but only the far greater part. But if the words which the apostle uses, do not most fully and determinately signify an universality, no words ever used in the Bible are sufficient to do it. I might challenge any man to produce any one paragraph in the Scripture, from the beginning to the end, where there is such a repetition and accumulation of terms, so strongly, and emphatically, and carefully, to express the most perfect and absolute universality; or any place to be compared to it. What instance is there in the Scripture, or indeed in any other writing, when the meaning is only the much greater part, where this meaning is signified in such a manner, They are all, — They are all, — They are all — together, — everyone, — all the world; joined to multiplied negative terms, to show the universality to be without exception; saying, There is no flesh, — there is none, — there is none, — there is none, — there is none, four times over; besides the addition of No, not one, — no, not one, — once and again! or,
Secondly, if any universality at all be allowed, it is only of the collective bodies spoken of: and these collective bodies but two, as Dr. T. reckons them, viz. the Jewish nation, and the Gentile world; supposing the apostle is here representing each of these parts of mankind as being wicked. But is this the way of men using language, when speaking of but two things, to express themselves in such universal terms, when they mean no more than that the thing affirmed is predicated of both of them? If a man speaking of his two feet as both lame, should say, All my feet are lame — They are all lame — All together are become weak — None of my feet are strong — None of them are sound — No, not one; would not he be thought to be lame in his understanding, as well as his feet? When the apostle says, That every mouth may be stopped, must we suppose, that he speaks only of these two great collective bodies, figuratively ascribing to each of them a mouth, and means that these two mouths are stopped? Besides, according to our author’s own interpretation, the universal terms used in these texts, cited from the Old Testament, have no respect to those two great collective bodies, nor indeed to either of them; but to some in Israel, a particular disaffected party in that one nation, which was made up of wicked men. So that his interpretation is every way absurd and inconsistent.
(2.) If the apostle is speaking only of the wickedness or guilt of great collective bodies, then it will follow, that also the justification he here treats of, is no other than the justification of such collective bodies. For, they are the same of whom he speaks as guilty and wicked, and who cannot be justified by the works of the law, by reason of their being wicked. Otherwise his argument is wholly disannulled. If the guilt he speaks of be only of collective bodies, then what he argues from that guilt, must be only, that collective bodies cannot be justified by the works of the law, having no respect to the justification of particular persons. And indeed this is Dr. T.’s declared opinion. He supposes the apostle here, and in other parts of this epistle, is speaking of men’s justification considered only as in their collective capacity (See note on Rom. 3:10-19; chap. 5:11, and chap. 9:30, 31). But the contrary is most manifest. The 26th and 28th verses of this third chapter, cannot, without the utmost violence, be understood otherwise than of the justification of particular persons. “That he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. — Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.” So in Rom. 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” And what the apostle cites in the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses from the book of Psalms, evidently shows, that he is speaking of the justification of particular persons. “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” David says these things in the 32d Psalm, with a special respect to his own particular case; there expressing the great distress he was in, while under a sense of personal sin and guilt, and the great joy he had when God forgave him.
And what can be plainer, that in the paragraph we have been upon (Rom. 3:20) it is the justification of particular persons of which the apostle speaks. “Therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” He refers to Psa. 143:2, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” Here the psalmist is not speaking of the justification of a nation, as a collective body, or of one of the two parts of the world, but of a particular man. And it is further manifest, that the apostle is here speaking of personal justification, inasmuch as this place is evidently parallel with Gal. 3:10, 11, “For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the works of the law, is evident; for, The just shall live by faith.” It is plain, that this place is parallel with that in the 3d of Romans, not only as the thing asserted is the same, and the argument by which it is proved — that all are guilty, and exposed to condemnation by the law. — But the same saying of the Old Testament is cited (Gal. 2:16). Many other things demonstrate, that the apostle is speaking of the same justification in both places, which I omit for brevity’s sake.
And besides all these things, our author’s interpretation makes the apostle’s argument wholly void another way. The apostle is speaking of a certain subject which cannot be justified by the works of the law; and his argument is, that the same subject is guilty, and is condemned by the law. If he means, that one subject, suppose a collective body or bodies, cannot be justified by the law, because another subject, another collective body, is condemned by the law, it is plain, the argument would be quite vain and impertinent. Yet thus the argument must stand according to Dr. T.’s interpretation. The collective bodies which he supposes are spoken of as wicked, and condemned by the law, considered as in their collective capacity, are those two, the Jewish nation, and the heathen world: but the collective body which he supposes the apostle speaks of as justified without the deeds of the law, is neither of these, but the Christian church, or body of believers; which is a new collective body, a new creature, and a new man (according to our author’s understanding of such phrases), which never had any existence before it was justified, and therefore never was wicked or condemned, unless it was with regard to the individuals of which it was constituted; and it does not appear, according to our author’s scheme, that these individuals, had before been generally wicked. For according to him, there was a number both among the Jews and Gentiles, that were righteous before. And how does it appear, but that the comparatively few Jews and Gentiles, of which this new-created collective body was constituted, were chiefly of the best of each?
So that in every view, this author’s way of explaining the passage appears vain and absurd. And so clearly and fully has the apostle expressed himself, that it is doubtless impossible to invent any other sense to put upon his words, than that which will imply, that all mankind, even every individual of the whole race, but their Redeemer himself, are in their first original state corrupt and wicked.
Before I leave this passage (Rom. 3:9-24) it may be proper to observe, that it not only is a most clear and full testimony to the native depravity of mankind, but also plainly declares that natural depravity to be total and exceeding great. It is the apostle’s manifest design in these citations from the Old Testament, to show these three things. 1. That all mankind are by nature corrupt. 2. That everyone is altogether corrupt, and, as it were, depraved in every part. 3. That they are in every part corrupt in an exceeding degree. With respect to the second of these, it is plain the apostle puts together those particular passages of the Old Testament, herein most of those members of the body are mentioned, that are the soul’s chief instruments or organs of external action. The hands (implicitly) in those expressions, “They are together become unprofitable, There is none that doth good.” The throat, tongue, lips, and mouth, the organs of speech, in those words; “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” The feet in those words, verse 15, “Their feet are swift to shed blood.” These things together signify, that man is as it were all over corrupt in every part. And not only is the total corruption thus intimated, by enumerating the several parts, but also by denying all good; any true understanding or spiritual knowledge, any seeking after God. “There is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God; there is none that doth good; the way of peace have they not known.” And in general, by denying all true piety or religion in men in their first state, verse 18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” — The expressions also are evidently chosen to denote a most extreme and desperate wickedness of heart. An exceeding depravity is ascribed to every part: to the throat, the scent of an open sepulcher; to the tongue and lips, deceit, and the poison of asps; to the mouth, cursing and bitterness; of their feet it is said, they are swift to shed blood: and with regard to the whole man, it is said, destruction and misery are in their ways. The representation is very strong of each of these things, viz. That all mankind are corrupt; that everyone is wholly and altogether corrupt; and also extremely and desperately corrupt. And it is plain, it is not accidental, that we have here such a collection of such strong expressions, so emphatically signifying these things; but that they are chosen of the apostle on design, as being directly and fully to his purpose; which purpose appears in all his discourse in the whole of this chapter, and indeed from the beginning of the epistle.
PART II, CHAP. III
Observations on Rom. 5:6-10 and Eph. 2:3 with the context, and Rom. 7
ANOTHER passage of this apostle, which shows that all who are made partakers of the benefits of Christ’s redemption, are in their first state wicked, desperately wicked, is Rom. 5:6-10, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” — Here all for whom Christ died, and who are saved by him, are spoken of as being in their first state sinners, ungodly, enemies to God, exposed to divine wrath, and without strength, without ability to help themselves, or deliver their souls from this miserable state.
Dr. T. says, the apostle here speaks of the Gentiles only in their heathen state, in contradistinction to the Jews; and that not of particular persons among the heathen Gentiles, or as to the state they were in personally; but only of the Gentiles collectively taken, or of the miserable state of that great collective body, the heathen world: and that these appellation, sinners, ungodly, enemies, etc. were names by which the apostles in their writings were wont to dignify and distinguish the heathen world, in opposition to the Jews; and that in this sense these appellations are to be taken in their epistles, and in this place in particular [Page 114-120. See also Dr. T.’s Paraph. and notes on the place.]. And it is observable, that this way of interpreting these phrases in the apostolic writings is become fashionable with many late writers; whereby they not only evade several clear testimonies to the doctrine of original sin, but make void great part of the New Testament; on which account it deserves the more particular consideration.
It is allowed to have been long common and customary among the Jews, especially the sect of the Pharisees, in their pride, and confidence in their privileges as the peculiar people of God, to exalt themselves exceedingly above other nations, and greatly to despise the Gentiles, calling them by such names as sinners, enemies, dogs, etc. Themselves they accounted, in general (excepting the publicans, and the notoriously profligate), as the friends, the special favorites and children, of God; because they were the children of Abraham, were circumcised, and had the law of Moses, as their peculiar privilege, and as a wall of partition between them and the Gentiles.
But it is very remarkable, that a Christian divine, who has studied the New Testament, and the epistle to the Romans in particular, so diligently as Dr. T. has done, should so strongly imagine that the apostles of Jesus Christ countenance and cherish these self-exalting, uncharitable dispositions and notions of the Jews which gave rise to such a custom, so far as to fall in with that custom, and adopt that language of their pride and contempt; and especially that the apostle Paul should do it. It is a most unreasonable imagination on many accounts.
1. The whole gospel dispensation is calculated entirely to overthrow and abolish everything to which this self-distinguishing, self-exalting language of the Jews was owing. It was calculated wholly to exclude such boasting, and to destroy the pride and self-righteousness which were the causes of it. It was calculated to abolish the enmity, and break down the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles, and of twain, to make one new man, so making peace: to destroy all dispositions in nations and particular persons to despise one another, or to say one to another, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou; and to establish the contrary principles of humility, mutual esteem, honor and love, and universal union, in the most firm and perfect manner.
2. Christ, when on earth, set himself, through the whole course of his ministry, to militate against this pharisaical spirit, practice, and language of the Jews; by which they showed so much contempt of the Gentiles, publicans, and such as were openly lewd and vicious, and thus exalted themselves above them; calling them sinners and enemies, and themselves holy, and God’s children; not allowing the Gentile to be their neighbor, etc. He condemned the Pharisees for not esteeming themselves sinners, as well as the publicans; trusting in themselves that they were righteous, and despising others. He militated against these things in his own treatment of some Gentiles, publicans, and others, whom they called sinners, and in what he said on those occasions (Mat. 8:5-13; Chap. 9:9-13; Chap. 11:19-24; Chap. 15:21-28; Luke 7:37 to the end; Chap. 17:12-19; Chap. 19:1-10; John 4:9, etc.; verse 39, etc. Compare Luke 10:29, etc.).
He opposed these notions and manners of the Jews in his parables (Mat. 21:28-32; Chap. 22:1-10; Luke 14:16-24. Compare Luke 13:28, 29, 30), and in his instructions to his disciples how to treat the unbelieving Jews (Mat. 10:14, 15); and in what he says to Nicodemus about the necessity of a new birth, even for the Jews, as well as the unclean Gentiles with regard to their proselytism, which some of the Jews looked upon as a new birth. And in opposition to their notions on their being the children of God, because the children of Abraham, but the Gentiles by nature sinners and children of wrath, he tells them that even they were children of the devil.
3. Though we should suppose the apostles not to have been thoroughly brought off from such notions, manners, and language of the Jews, till after Christ’s ascension; yet after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, or at least, after the calling of the Gentiles, begun in the conversion of Cornelius, they were fully instructed in this matter, and effectually taught no longer to call the Gentiles unclean, as a note of distinction from the Jews, Acts 10:28, which was before any of the apostolic epistles were written.
4. Of all the apostles, none were more perfectly instructed in this matter, than Paul, and none so abundant in instructing others in it, as this great apostle of the Gentiles. None of the apostles had so much occasion to exert themselves against the forementioned notions and language of the Jews, in opposition to Jewish teachers and judaizing Christians who strove to keep up the separation-wall between Jews and Gentiles, and to exalt the former, and set at nought the latter.
5. This apostle, in his epistle to the Romans, above all his other writings, exerts himself in a most elaborate manner, and with his utmost skill and power, to bring the Jewish Christians off from everything of this kind. He endeavors by all means that there might no longer be in them any remains of these old notions, in which they had been educated, or such a great distinction between Jews and Gentiles, as were expressed in the names they used to distinguish them by; the Jews, holy children of Abraham, friends and children of God; but the Gentiles, sinners, unclean, enemies, and the like. He makes it almost his whole business, from the beginning of the epistle, Rom. 5:6, etc. to convince them that there was no ground for any such distinction, and to prove that in common, both Jews and Gentiles, all were desperately wicked, and none righteous, no not one. He tells them, Rom. 3:9, that the Jews were by no means better than the Gentiles; and (in what follows in that chapter) that there was no difference between Jews and Gentiles; and represents all as without strength, or any sufficiency of their own in the affair of justification and redemption. And in the continuation of the same discourse, in the 4th chapter, he teaches that all who were justified by Christ, were in themselves ungodly; and that being the children of Abraham was not peculiar to the Jews. In this 5th chapter still in continuation of the same discourse — on the same subject and argument of justification through Christ, and by faith in him — he speaks of Christ dying for the ungodly and sinners, and those who were without strength or sufficiency for their own salvation, as he had done all along before. But now, it seems, the apostle by sinners and ungodly, must not be understood according as he used these words before; but must be supposed to mean only the Gentiles as distinguished from the Jews; adopting the language of those self-righteous, self-exalting, disdainful judaizing teachers, whom he was with all his might opposing: countenancing the very same thing in them, which he had been from the beginning of the epistle discountenancing, and endeavoring to discourage, and utterly to abolish, with all his art and strength.
One reason why the Jews looked on themselves better than the Gentiles, and called themselves holy, and the Gentiles sinners, was, that they had the law of Moses. They made their boast of the law. But the apostle shows them, that this was so far from making them better, that it condemned them, and was an occasion of their being sinners, in a higher degree, and more aggravated manner, and more effectually and dreadfully dead in sin (See Rom. 7:4-13, agreeably to those words of Christ, John 5:45).
It cannot be justly objected here, that this apostle did, in fact, use this language, and call the gentiles sinners, in contradistinction to the Jews, in what he said to Peter, Gal. 2:15, 16, “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” It is true, that the apostle here refers to this distinction, as what was usually made by the self-righteous Jews, between themselves and the Gentiles; but not in such a manner as to adopt, or favor it; but on the contrary, so as plainly to show his disapprobation of it; q.d. “Though we were born Jews, and by nature are of that people which are wont to make their boast of the law, expecting to be justified by it, and trust in themselves that they are righteous, despising others, calling the Gentiles sinners, in distinction from themselves; yet we being now instructed in the gospel of Christ, know better; we now know that a man is not justified by the works of the law; that we are all justified only by faith in Christ, in whom there is no difference, no distinction of Greek or Gentile, and Jew, but all are one in Christ Jesus.” And this is the very thing he there speaks of, which he blamed Peter for; that by his withdrawing and separating himself from the Gentiles, refusing to eat with them, etc. he had countenanced this self-exalting, self-distinguishing, separating spirit and custom of the Jews, whereby they treated the Gentiles, as in a distinguishing manner sinners and unclean, and not fit to come near them who were a holy people.
6. The very words of the apostle in this place, show plainly, that he uses the term sinners, not as signifying Gentiles, in opposition to Jews, but as denoting the morally evil, in opposition to such as are righteous or good. This latter distinction between sinners and righteous is here expressed in plain terms. “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die; but God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” By righteous men are doubtless meant the same that are meant by such a phrase, throughout this apostle’s writings, throughout the New Testament, and throughout the Bible. Will anyone pretend, that by the righteous man, for whom men would scarcely die, and by the good man, for whom perhaps some might even dare to die, is meant a Jew? Dr. T. himself does not explain it so, in his exposition of this epistle; and therefore is not very consistent with himself, in supposing, that in the other part of the distinction the apostle means Gentiles, as distinguished from the Jews. The apostle himself had been laboring abundantly, in the preceding part of the epistle, to prove, that the Jews were sinners in opposition to righteous; that all had sinned, that all were under sin, and therefore could not be justified, could not be accepted as righteous, by their own righteousness.
7. Another thing which makes it evident that the apostle, when he speaks in this place of the sinners and enemies for whom Christ died, does not mean only the Gentiles, is, that he includes himself among them, saying, while WE were sinners, and when we were enemies.
Our author from time to time says, the apostle, though he speaks only of the Gentiles in their heathen state, yet puts himself with them, because he was the apostle of the Gentiles. But this is very unreasonable. There is no more sense in it, than there would be in a father ranking himself among his children, when speaking to his children of the benefits they have by being begotten by himself; and saying, We children. Or in a physician ranking himself with his patients, when talking to them of their diseases and cure; saying, We sick folks. Paul being the apostle of the Gentiles to save them from their heathenism, is so far from being a reason for him to reckon himself among the heathen, that on the contrary, it is the very thing that would render it in a peculiar manner unnatural and absurd for him so to do. Because, as the apostle of the Gentiles, he appears as their healer and deliverer from heathenism; and therefore in that capacity, in a peculiar manner, appears in his distinction from the heathen, and in opposition to the state of heathenism. For it is by the most opposite qualities only, that he is fitted to be an apostle of the heathen, and recoverer from heathenism. As the clear light of the sun is what makes it a proper restorative from darkness; and, therefore, the sun being spoken of as such a remedy, none would suppose to be a good reason why it should be ranked among dark things. Besides, the apostle, in this epistle, expressly ranks himself with the Jews when he speaks of them as distinguished from the Gentiles; as in Rom. 3:9, “What then? are we better than they?” That is, are we Jews better than the Gentiles?
It cannot justly be alleged in opposition to this, that the apostle Peter puts himself with the heathen, 1 Pet. 4:3, “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles; when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.” For the apostle Peter (who by the way was not an apostle of the Gentiles) here does not speak of himself as one of the heathen, but as one of the church of Christ in general, made up of those who had been Jews, proselytes, and heathens, who were now all one body, of which body he was a member. It is this society, therefore, and not the Gentiles, that he refers to in the pronoun US. He is speaking of the wickedness that the members of this body or society had lived in before their conversion; not that every member had lived in all those vices here mentioned, but some in one, others in another. Very parallel is the passage with that of the apostle Paul to Titus: Tit. 3:3, “For we ourselves also” (i.e. we of the Christian church) “were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures,” (some one lust and pleasure, others another), “living in malice, envy, hateful, and hating one another,” etc. There is nothing in this, but what is very natural. That the apostle, speaking to the Christian church, and of that church, confessing its former sins, should speak of himself as one of that society, and yet mention some sins that he personally had not been guilty of, and among others, heathenish idolatry, is quite a different thing from what it would have been for the apostle, expressly distinguishing those of the Christians, which had been heathen, from those which had been Jews, to have ranked himself with the former, though he was truly of the latter.
If a minister in some congregation in England, speaking in a sermon of the sins of the nation, being himself of the nation should say, “We have greatly corrupted ourselves, and provoked God by our deism, blasphemy, profane swearing, lasciviousness, venality,” etc. speaking in the first person plural, though he himself never had been a deist, and perhaps none of his hearers, and they might also have been generally free from other sins he mentioned; yet there would be nothing unnatural in his thus expressing himself. But it would be quite a different thing, if one part of the British dominions, suppose our king’s American dominions, had universally apostatized from Christianity to deism, and had long been in such a state, and if one who had been born and brought up in England among Christians, the country being universally Christian, should be sent among them to show them the folly and great evil of deism, and convert them to Christianity; and this missionary, when making a distinction between English Christians, and these deists, should rank himself with the latter, and say, WE American deists, WE foolish blind infidels, etc. This indeed would be very unnatural and absurd.
Another passage of the apostle, to the like purpose with that which we have been considering in the 5th of Romans, is that in Eph. 2:3 — “And were by nature children of wrath, even as others.” This remains a plain testimony to the doctrine of original sin, as held by those who used to be called orthodox Christians, after all the pains and art used to torture and pervert it. This doctrine is here not only plainly and fully taught, but abundantly so, if we take the words with the context; where Christians are once and again represented as being, in their first state, dead in sin, and as quickened and raised up from such a state of death, in a most marvelous display of free rich grace and love, and exceeding greatness of God’s power, etc.
With respect to those words (çìåí ðåêíá öõóïõ ïñãçò), We were by nature children of wrath, Dr. T. Says, p. 112-114. “The apostle means no more by this, than truly or really children of wrath; using a metaphorical expression, borrowed from the word that is used to signify a true and genuine child of a family, in distinction from one that is a child only by adoption.” In which it is owned, that the proper sense of the phrase is, being a child by nature, in the same sense as a child by birth or natural generation; but only he supposes, that here the word is used metaphorically. The instance he produces as parallel, to confirm his supposed metaphorical sense of the phrase, as meaning only truly, really, or properly children of wrath, viz. the apostle Paul’s calling Timothy his own son in faith (íçóéïí åêíïí) is so far from confirming his sense, that it is rather directly against it. For doubtless the apostle uses the word here (íçóéïí) in its original signification, meaning his begotten son; íçóéïò being the adjective from ãïíçò, offspring, or the verb (ãåííáù, to beget; as much as to say, Timothy my begotten son in the faith. For as there are two ways of being begotten, one natural, and the other spiritual; the first generation, and regeneration; so the apostle expressly signifies which of these he means in this place, Timothy my begotten son IN THE FAITH, in the same manner as he says to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 4:15, “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” To say, the apostle uses the word, öíóåé, in Eph. 2:3 only as signifying real, true, and proper, is a most arbitrary interpretation, having nothing to warrant it in the whole Bible. The word öíóéò is no where used in this sense in the New Testament. (The following are all the other places where the word is used, Rom. 1:26; 2:14, 27; 11:21, 24, thrice in that verse; 1 Cor. 11:14; Gal. 2:15, 4:8; Jam. 3:7, twice in that verse; and 2 Pet. 1:4.)
Another thing which our author alleges to evade the force of this, is, that the word rendered nature, sometimes signifies habit contracted by custom, or an acquired nature. But this is not its proper meaning. And it is plain, the word in its common use, in the New Testament, signifies what we properly express in English by the word nature. There is but one place where there can be the least pretext for supposing it to be used otherwise; and that is 1 Cor. 11:14, “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” And even here there is, I think, no manner of reason for understanding nature otherwise than in the proper sense. The emphasis used (áõôç ç öõóéò) nature ITSELF, shows that the apostle does not mean custom, but nature in the proper sense. It is true, it was long custom which made having the head covered a token of subjection, and a feminine appearance; as it is custom that makes any outward action or word a sign or signification of anything. But nature itself, nature in its proper sense, teaches, that it is a shame for a man to appear with the established signs of the female sex, and with significations of inferiority, etc. As nature itself shows it to be a shame for a father to bow down or kneel to his own child or servant, or for men to bow to an idol, because bowing down is by custom an established token or sign of subjection and submission. Such a sight therefore would be unnatural, shocking to a man’s very nature. So nature would teach, that it is a shame for a woman to use such and such lascivious words or gestures, though it be custom that establishes the unclean signification of those gestures and sounds.
It is particularly unnatural and unreasonable, to understand the phrase (ôåêíá öõóåé) in this place, any otherwise than in the proper sense, on the following accounts. 1. It may be observed, that both the words, ôåêíá and öõóéò, in their original signification, have reference to birth or generation. So the word öõóéò, from öõù, which signifies to beget or bring forth young, or to bud forth, as a plant, that brings forth young buds and branches. And so the word ôåêíïí comes from ôéêôù, which signifies to bring forth children. — 2. As though the apostle took care by the word used here, to signify what we are by birth, he changes the word he used before for children. In the preceding verse he used õéïé, speaking of the children of disobedience; but here ôåêíá, which is a word derived, as observed, from ôéêôù, to bring forth a child, and more properly signifies a begotten or born child. — 3. It is natural to suppose that the apostle here speaks in opposition to the pride of some, especially the Jews (for the church in Ephesus was made up partly of Jews, as well as the church in Rome), who exalted themselves in the privileges they had by birth, because they were born the children of Abraham, and were Jews by nature, öõóåé ÉÉïõäáéïé, as the phrase is, Gal. 2:15. In opposition to this proud conceit, he teaches the Jews, that notwithstanding this they were by nature children of wrath, even as others, i.e. as well as the Gentiles, which the Jews had been taught to look upon as sinners, and out of favor with God by nature, and born children of wrath. — 4. It is more plain, that the apostle uses the word nature in its proper sense here, because he sets what they were by nature in opposition to what they are by grace. In this verse, the apostle shows what they are by nature, viz. children of wrath; and in the following verses he shows, how very different their state is by grace; saying, Eph. 2:5, “By grace ye are saved;” repeating it again, verse 8, “By grace ye are saved.” But if, by being children of wrath by nature, were meant no more than only their being really and truly children of wrath, as Dr. T. supposes, there would be no opposition in the signification of these phrases; for in this sense they were by nature in a state of salvation, as much as by nature children of wrath; for they were truly, really, and properly in a state of salvation.
If we take these words with the context, the whole abundantly proves, that by nature we are totally corrupt, without any good thing in us. For if we allow the plain scope of the place, without attempting to hide it by doing extreme violence to the apostle’s words, the design here is strongly to establish this point; that what Christians have that is good in them, or in their state, is in no part of it naturally in themselves, or from themselves, but is wholly from divine grace, all the gift of God, and his workmanship, the effect of his power, his free and wonderful love. None of our good works are primarily from ourselves, but with respect to them all, we are God’s workmanship, created unto good works, as it were out of nothing. Not so much as faith itself, the first principle of good works in Christians, is of themselves, but that is the gift of God. Therefore the apostle compares the work of God, in forming Christians to true virtue and holiness, not only to a new creation, but a resurrection, or raising from the dead. Eph. 2:1, “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” And again, verse 5, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” In speaking of Christians being quickened with Christ, the apostle has reference to what he had said before, in the latter part of the foregoing chapter, of God manifesting the exceeding greatness of his power towards Christian converts in their conversion, agreeable to the operation of his mighty power, when he raised Christ from the dead. So that it is plain by everything in this discourse, the apostle would signify, that by nature we have no goodness; but are as destitute of it as a dead corpse is of life. And that all goodness, all good works, and faith the principle of all, are perfectly the gift of God’s grace, and the work of his great, almighty, and exceeding excellent power. I think, there can be need of nothing but reading the chapter, and minding what is read, to convince all who have common understanding, of this; whatever any of the most subtle critics have done, or ever can do, to twist, rack, perplex, and pervert the words and phrases here used.
Dr. T. here again insists, that the apostle speaks only of the Gentiles in their heathen state, when he speaks of those that were dead in sin, and by nature children of wrath; and that though he seems to include himself among those, saying, WE were by nature children of wrath, WE were dead in sins; yet he only puts himself among them because he was the apostle of the Gentiles. The gross absurdity of this may appear from what was said before. But besides the things which have been already observed, there are some things which make it peculiarly unreasonable to understand it so here. It is true, the greater part of the church of Ephesus had been heathens, and therefore the apostle often has reference to their heathen state, in this epistle. But the words in this Eph. 2:3 plainly show, that he means himself and other Jews in distinction from the Gentiles; for the distinction is fully expressed. After he had told the Ephesians, who had been generally heathen, that they had been dead in sin, and had walked according to the course of this world, etc. (verse 1 and 2) he makes a distinction, and says, “among whom we also had our conversation, etc. and were by nature children of wrath, even as others.” Here first he changes the person; whereas, before he had spoken in the second person, “ye were dead, — ye in time past walked,” etc. now he changes style, and uses the first person, in a most manifest distinction, among whom WE ALSO, that is, we Jews, as well as ye Gentiles: not only changing the person, but adding a particle of distinction, also; which would be nonsense, if he meant the same without distinction. And besides all this, more fully to express the distinction, the apostle further adds a pronoun of distinction; WE also, even as OTHERS, or we as well as others: most evidently having respect to the notions, so generally entertained by the Jews, of their being much better than the Gentiles, in being Jews by nature, children of Abraham, and children of God; when they supposed the Gentiles to be utterly cast off, as born aliens, and by nature children of wrath: in opposition to this, the apostle says, “We Jews, after all our glorying in our distinction, were by nature children of wrath, as well as the rest of the world.” And a yet further evidence, that the apostle here means to include the Jews, and even himself, is the universal term he uses, Among whom also we ALL had our conversation, etc. Though wickedness was supposed by the Jews to be the course of this world, as to the generality of mankind, yet they supposed themselves an exempt people, at least the Pharisees, and the devout observers of the law of Moses and traditions of the elders; whatever might be thought of publicans and harlots. But in opposition to this, the apostle asserts, that they all were no better by nature than others, but were to be reckoned among the children of disobedience, and children of wrath.
Besides, if the apostle chooses to put himself among the Gentiles, because he was the apostle of the Gentiles, I would ask, why does he not do so in the 11th verse of the same chapter (Eph. 2:11), where he speaks of the Gentile state expressly? “Remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh.” Why does he here make a distinction between the Gentiles and himself? Why did he not say, Let us remember, that we being in time past Gentiles? And why does the same apostle, even universally, make the same distinction, speaking either in the second or third person, and never in the first, where he expressly speaks of the Gentilism of those of whom he wrote, or of whom he speaks, with reference to their distinction from the Jews? So everywhere in this same epistle; as in chap. 1:12, 13, where the distinction is made just in the same manner as here, by the change of the person, and by the distinguishing particle, also: “That we should be to the praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ (the first believers in Christ being of the Jews, before the Gentiles were called), in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” And in all the following part of this second chapter, as Eph. 2:11, 17, 19, and 22 in which last verse the same distinguishing particle again is used; “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (See also the following chapters, Eph. 3:6 and 4:17. And not only in this epistle, but constantly in other epistles; as Rom. 1:12, 13; chap. 11:13, 14, 17-25, 28, 30, 31; chap. 15:15, 16; 1 Cor. 12:2; Gal. 4:8; Col. 1:27; chap. 2:13; 1 Thes. 1:5, 6, 9; chap. 2:13, 14, 15, 16.)
Though I am far from thinking our author’s exposition of the 7th chap. of Romans to be in any wise agreeable to the true sense of the apostle, yet it is needless here to stand particularly to examine it; because the doctrine of original sin may be argued not the less strongly, though we should allow the thing wherein he mainly differs from such as he opposes in his interpretation, viz. That the apostle does not speak in his own name, or to represent the state of a true Christian, but as representing the state of the Jews under the law. For even on this supposition, the drift of the place will prove, that everyone who is under the law, and with equal reason everyone of mankind, is carnal, sold under sin, in his first state, and till delivered by Christ. For it is plain, that the apostle’s design is to show the insufficiency of the law to give life to anyone whatsoever. This appears by what he says when he comes to draw his conclusion, in the continuation of this discourse, Rom. 8:3. “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son,” etc. Our author supposes what is here spoken of, viz. “that the law cannot give life, because it is weak through the flesh,” is true with respect to every one of mankind (See note on Rom. 5:20). And when the apostle gives this reason, in that it is weak through the flesh, it is plain, that by the flesh, which here he opposes to the spirit, he means the same thing which in the preceding part of the same discourse, in the foregoing chapter, he had called by the name flesh, Rom. 7:5, 14, 18 and the law of the members, verse 23 and the body of death, verse 24. This is what, through this chapter, he insists on as the grand hindrance why the law could not give life; just as he does in his conclusion, Rom. 8:3. Which, in his last place, is given as a reason why the law cannot give life to any of mankind. And it being the same reason of the same thing, spoken of in the same discourse, in the former part of it — this last place being the conclusion, of which that former part is the premises — and inasmuch as the reason there given is being in the flesh, and being carnal, sold under sin: therefore, taking the whole of the apostle’s discourse, this is justly understood to be a reason why the law cannot give life to any of mankind; and consequently, that all mankind are in the flesh, and are carnal, sold under sin, and so remain till delivered by Christ: and consequently, all mankind in their first original state are very sinful; which was the thing to be proved.
CONTAINING OBSERVATIONS ON ROM. 5:12, TO THE END
Remarks on Dr. T.’s way of explaining this text
THE following things are worthy of notice, concerning our author’s exposition of this remarkable passage.
I. He greatly insists, that by death in this place no more is meant, than that death which we all die, when this present life is extinguished, and the body returns to the dust. That no more is meant in the 12, 14, 15, and 17th verses (p. 27) he declares as evidently, clearly, and infallibly so, because the apostle is till discoursing on the same subject; plainly implying, that infallibly the apostle means no more by death, throughout this paragraph on the subject. But as infallible as this is, if we believe what Dr. T. says elsewhere, it must needs be otherwise: for (p. 120. S) speaking of those words in Rom. 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” he says, “Death in this place is widely different from the death we now die; as it stands there opposed to eternal life, which is the gift of God through Jesus Christ, it manifestly signifies eternal death, the second death, or that death which they shall hereafter die, who live after the flesh.” But the death (in the conclusion of the paragraph we are upon) that comes by Adam, and the life that comes by Christ (in the last verse of the chapter), is opposed to eternal life just in the same manner as in the last verse of the next chapter: “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” So that by our author’s own argument, death in this place also, is manifestly widely different from the death we now die, as it stands here opposed to eternal life, through Jesus Christ; and signifies eternal death, the second death. And yet this is a part of the same discourse, begun in the 12th verse; as reckoned by Dr. T. himself in his division of paragraphs, in his paraphrase and notes on the epistle. So that if we will follow him, and admit his reasonings in the various parts of his book, here is manifest proof, against infallible evidence! So that it is true, the apostle throughout this whole passage on the same subject, by death, evidently, clearly, and infallibly means no more than that death we now die, when this life is extinguished; and yet by death, in some part of this passage, is meant something widely different from the death we now die — MANIFESTLY eternal death, the second death.
But had our author been more consistent with himself, in laying it down as certain and infallible, that because the apostle has a special respect to temporal death, in the 14th verse, “Death reigned from Adam to Moses,” therefore he means no more in the several consequent parts of this passage, yet he is doubtless too confident and positive in this matter. This is no more evident, clear, and infallible, than that Christ meant by perishing — in Luke 13:5 when he says, I tell you, Nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish — no more than such a temporal death, as came on those who died by the fall of the tower of Siloam, spoken of in the preceding words of the same speech; and no more infallible, than that by life, Christ means no more than this temporal life, in each part of that one sentence — Mat. 10:39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it” — because in the first part of each clause he has respect especially to temporal life.
The truth of the case, with respect to what the apostle here intends by the word death, is this, viz. The whole of that death which he, and the Scripture everywhere, speaks of as the proper wages and punishment of sin, including death temporal, spiritual, and eternal; though in some parts of this discourse he has a more special respect to one part of this whole, in others to another, as his argument leads him; without any more variation than is quite common in the same discourse. That life, which the Scripture speaks of as the reward of righteousness, is a whole containing several parts, viz. The life of the body, union of soul and body, and the most perfect sensibility, activity, and felicity of both, which is the chief thing. In like manner the death, which the Scripture speaks of as the punishment of sin, is a whole including the death of the body and the death of the soul, and the eternal, sensible, perfect destruction and misery of both. It is this latter whole, that the apostle speaks of by the name of death in this discourse, in Rom. 5 though in some sentences he has a more special respect to one part, in others to another: and this, without changing the signification of the word. For having respect to several things included in the extensive signification of the word, is not the same thing as using the word in several distinct significations. As for instance, the appellative, man, or the proper name of any particular man, is the name of a whole, including the different parts of soul and body. And if anyone in speaking of James or John, should say, he was a wise man, and a beautiful man; in the former part of the sentence, respect would be had more especially to his soul, in the latter to his body, in the word man: but yet without any proper change of the signification of the name to distinct senses. In John 21:7 it is said, Peter was naked, and in the following part of the same story it is said, Peter was grieved. In the former proposition, respect is had especially to his body, in the latter to his soul: but yet here is no proper change of the meaning of the name, Peter. And as to the apostle’s use of the word death in the passage now under consideration, on the supposition that he in general means the whole of that death which is the wages of sin, there is nothing but what is perfectly natural in supposing that — in order to evince that death, the proper punishment of sin, comes on all mankind in consequence of Adam’s sin — he should take notice of that part of this punishment which is visible in this world, and which everybody therefore sees does in fact come on all mankind (as in verse 14). And is it not equally natural from thence to infer, that all mankind are exposed to the whole of that death which is the proper punishment of sin, whereof temporal death is a part, and a visible image of the whole, and (unless changed by divine grace) an introduction to the principal, and infinitely the most dreadful, part?
II. Dr. T.’s explanation of this passage makes wholly insignificant those first words, By one man sin entered into the world, and leaves this proposition without any sense at all. The apostle had been largely and elaborately representing, how the whole world was full of sin, both among Jews and Gentiles, and all exposed to death and condemnation. It is plain, that in these words he would tell us how this came to pass, namely, that the sorrowful event came by one man, even the first man. That the world was full of sin, and full of death, were two great and notorious facts, deeply affecting the interests of mankind; and they seemed very wonderful facts, drawing the attention of the more thinking part of mankind everywhere, who often asked this question. Whence comes evil, moral and natural evil? It is manifest, the apostle here means to tell us, how these came into the world, and came to prevail in it as they do. But all that is meant, according to Dr. T.’s interpretation, is, “He began transgression” (Page 56). As if all that the apostle meant, was, to tell us who happened to sin first; not how such a malady came upon the world, or how anyone in the world, besides Adam himself, came by such a distemper. The words of the apostle, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” show the design to be, to tell us how these evils came, as affecting the state of the world; and not only as reaching one man in the world. If this were not plain enough in itself, the words immediately following demonstrate it; “And so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” By sin being in the world, the apostle does not mean being in the world only in that one instance of Adam’s first transgression, but being abroad in the world, among the inhabitants of the earth, in a wide extent, and continued series of wickedness; as is plain in the first words of the next verse, “For until the law, sin was in the world.” And therefore when he gives us an account how it came to be in the world, or, which is the same thing, how it entered into the world, he does not mean only coming in one instance.
If the case were as Dr. T. represents, that the sin of Adam, either in its pollution or punishment, reached none but himself, any more than the sin of any other man, it would be no more proper to say, that by one man sin entered into the world, than if — were it inquired, how mankind came into America, and there had anciently been a ship of the Phoenicians wrecked at sea, and a single man of the crew was driven on this continent, and here died as soon as he reached the shore — it should be said, By that one man mankind came into America.
Besides, it is not true, that by one man, or by Adam, sin entered into the world, in Dr. T.’s sense: for it was not he but Eve that began transgression. By one man Dr. T. understands Adam, as the figure of Christ. And it is plain, that it was for his transgression, and not Eve’s, that the sentence of death was pronounced on mankind after the fall, Gen. 3:19. It appears unreasonable to suppose the apostle means to include Eve, when he speaks of Adam; for he lays great stress on it, that it was BY ONE, repeating it several times.
III. In like manner this author brings to nothing the sense of the causal particles, in such phrases as these, so often repeated, “Death by sin,” Rom. 5:12, “If through the offence of one, many be dead,” verse 15, “by one that sinned, — judgment was by one to condemnation,” verse 16, “By one man’s offence, death reigned by one,” verse 17, “By the offence of one, judgment came upon all,” etc. verse 18, “By one man’s disobedience,” verse 19. These causal particles, so variously repeated, unless we make mere nonsense of the discourse, signify some connection and dependence, by some sort of influence of that sin of one man, or some tendency to that effect, which is so often said to come BY it. But according to Dr. T. there can be no real dependence or influence in the case, of any sort whatsoever. There is no connection by any natural influence of that one act to make all mankind mortal. Our author does not pretend to account for this effect in any such manner, but in another most diverse, viz. A gracious act of God, laying mankind under affliction, toil, and death, from special favor and kindness. Nor can there be any dependence of this effect on that transgression of Adam, by any moral influence, as deserving such a consequence, or exposing to it on any moral account: for he supposes, that mankind are not in this way exposed to the least degree of evil. Nor has this effect any legal dependence on that sin, or any connection by virtue of any antecedent constitution, which God had established with Adam: for he insists, that in that threatening, “In the day thou eatest thou shalt die,” there is not a word said of his posterity (p. 8). And death on mankind, according to him, cannot come by virtue of that legal constitution with Adam; because the sentence by which it came was after the annulling and abolishing that constitution (p. 113. S). And it is manifest, that this consequence cannot be through any kind of tendency of that sin to such an effect; because the effect comes only as a benefit, and is the fruit of mere favor: but sin has no tendency, either natural or moral, to benefits, and divine favors. And thus that sin of Adam could neither be the efficient cause, nor the procuring cause; neither the natural, moral, nor legal cause; nor an exciting and moving cause, any more than Adam’s eating of any other tree of the garden. And the only real relation that the effect can have to that sin, is a relation as to time, viz. that it is after it. And when the matter is closely examined, the whole amounts to no more than this, that God is pleased, of his mere good will and pleasure, to bestow a greater favor upon us, than he did upon Adam in innocency, after that sin of his eating the forbidden fruit; which sin we are no more concerned in, than in the sin of the king of Pegu, or the emperor of China.
IV. It is altogether inconsistent with the apostle’s scope, and the import of what he says, to suppose that the death of which he here speaks, as coming on mankind by Adam’s sin, comes not as a punishment, but only as a favor. It quite makes void the opposition, in which the apostle sets the consequences of Adam’s sin, and the consequences of the grace and righteousness of Christ. They are set in opposition to each other, as opposite effects, arising from opposite causes, throughout the paragraph: one, as the just consequence of an offense; the other, a free gift, Rom. 5:15-18. Whereas, according to this scheme, there is no such opposition in the case; both are benefits, and both are free gifts. A very wholesome medicine to save from perishing, ordered by a kind father, or a shield to preserve from an enemy, bestowed by a friend, is as much a free gift as pleasant food. The death that comes by Adam, is set in opposition to the life and happiness that comes by Christ, as being the fruit of sin, and judgment for sin: when the latter is the fruit of divine grace, verse 15, 17, 20, 21. Whereas, according to our author, both came by grace. Death comes on mankind by the free kindness and love of God, much more truly and properly than by Adam’s sin. Dr. T. speaks of it as coming by OCCASION of Adam’s sin: but, as I have observed, it is an occasion without any influence. Yet the proper CAUSE is God’s grace. So that the true cause is wholly good. Which, by the way, is directly repugnant to the apostle’s doctrine in Rom. 7:13, “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good.” Where the apostle utterly rejects any such suggestion, as though that which is good were the proper cause of death; and signifies that sin is the proper cause, and that which is good, only the occasion. But according to this author, the reverse is true: that which is good in the highest sense, even the love of God, and a divine gracious constitution, is the proper cause of death, and sin only the occasion.
But to return, it is plain, that death by Adam, and life and happiness by Christ, are here set in opposition: the latter being spoken of as good, the other as evil; one as the effect of righteousness, the other of an offense; one of the fruit of obedience, the other of disobedience; one as the fruit of God’s favor, in consequence of what was pleasing and acceptable to him, but the other the fruit of his displeasure, in consequence of what was displeasing and hateful to him; the latter coming by justification, the former by the condemnation of the subject. But according to the scheme of our author, there can be no opposition in any of these respects: the death here spoken of, neither comes as an evil, nor from an evil cause; either an evil efficient cause, or procuring cause, nor at all as any testimony of God’s displeasure to the subject, but as properly the effect of his favor, no less than that which is spoken of as coming by Christ; yea, as much as an act of JUSTIFICATION of the subject; as he understands and explains the word justification; for both are by a grant of favor, and are instances of mercy and goodness. And he abundantly insists upon it, that “ANY grant of favor, ANY instance of mercy and goodness, whereby God delivers and exempts from any kind of danger, suffering, or calamity, or confers ANY favor, blessing, or privilege, is called justification in the scripture-sense and use of the word.”
Moreover, our author makes void the grand and fundamental opposition — to illustrate which is the chief scope of this whole passage — between the first and second Adam; in the death that comes by one, and the life and happiness by the other. For, according to his doctrine, both come by Christ the second Adam; both by his grace, righteousness, and obedience: the death to which God sentenced mankind (Gen. 3:19) being a great deal more properly and truly by Christ, than by Adam. For, according to him, that sentence was not pronounced on the basis of the covenant with Adam; because that was abrogated, and entirely set aside, as he largely insists for many pages together (p. 113-120. S). “This covenant with Adam was disannulled immediately after Adam sinned. Even before God passed sentence upon Adam, grace was introduced.” “The death that mankind are the subjects of now, stands under the covenant of grace. — In the counsel and appointment of God, it stood in this very light, even before the sentence of death was pronounced upon Adam: and consequently, death is no proper and legal punishment of sin.” And he often insists, that it comes only as a favor and benefit; and standing, as he says, under the covenant of grace, which is by Christ, therefore is truly one of the benefits of the new covenant, which comes by Christ, the second Adam. For he himself is decided, to use his own words [Key, chap. 8 title, p. 44], “That all the grace of the gospel is dispensed to us, IN, BY, or THROUGH the Son of God.” “Nothing is clearer (says he [Key, § 145]) from the whole current of Scripture, than that all the mercy and love of God, and all the blessings of the gospel, from first to last, are IN, BY, and THROUGH Christ, and particularly by his blood, by the redemption that is in him. This can bear no dispute among Christians.” What then becomes of all this discourse of the apostle’s, about the great difference and opposition between Adam and Christ; as death is by one, and eternal life and happiness by the other? This grand distinction between the two Adams, it seems, and the other instances of opposition and difference here insisted on — as between the effects of sin and righteousness, the consequences of obedience and disobedience, of the offense and the free gift, judgment and grace, condemnation and justification — all come to nothing. And this whole discourse of the apostle, wherein he seems to labor much, as if it were to set forth some very grand and most important distinction and oppositions in the state of things, as derived from the two great heads of mankind, proves nothing but a multitude of words without meaning, or rather a heap of inconsistencies.
V. Our author’s own doctrine entirely makes void what he supposes to be the apostle’s argument, in the 13th and 14th verses, in these words; “For until the law, sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.”
What he supposes the apostle would prove here, is, that the mortality of mankind comes only by Adam’s sin, and not by men’s personal sins, because there was no law threatening death to Adam’s posterity for personal sins, before the law of Moses; but death, or the mortality of Adam’s posterity, took place many ages before the law was given; therefore death could not be by any law threatening death for personal sins, and consequently could be by nothing but Adam’s sin (Page 40, 41, 42, 57 and often elsewhere). On this I would observe,
1. That which he supposes the apostle to take for a truth in this argument, viz. That there was no law of God in being, by which men were exposed to death for personal sin, during the time from Adam to Moses, is neither true, nor agreeable to this apostle’s own doctrine.
First, the assertion is not true. For the law of nature, written in men’s hearts, was then in being, and was a law by which men were exposed to death for personal sin. That there was a divine establishment, fixing the death and destruction of the sinner as the consequence of personal sin, which was well known before the giving of the law by Moses, is plain by many passages in the book of Job, as fully and clearly implying a connection between such sin and such a punishment, as any passage in the law of Moses: such as that in Job 24:19, “Drought and heat consume the snow-waters; so doth the grace them that have sinned.” (Compare Job 24:20 and 24.) Also Job. 36:6, “He preserveth not the life of the wicked.” Chap. 21:29-32, “Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens? That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction; they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.” Verse 32, “He shall be brought to the grave.” (See also Job. 4:7, 8, 9; Chap. 15:17-35; Chap. 18:5-21; 19:29; 20:4-8, 23-29; Chap. 21:16-18, 20-26; 22:13-20; 27:11, to the end; Job 31:3, 23; 33:18, 22, 23, 24, 28, 30; 34:11, 21-26; 37:12, 18, 19, 20, and 38:13.)
Secondly, to suppose that there is no law in being, by which men are exposed to death for personal sins, when a revealed law of God is not in being, is contrary to our apostle’s own doctrine in this epistle. Rom. 2:12, 14, 15, “For as many as have sinned without law (i.e. the revealed law) shall perish without law.” But how they can be exposed to die and perish, who have not the law of Moses, nor any revealed law, the apostle shows us in the 14th and 15th verses; viz. in that they have the law of nature, by which they fall under sentence to this punishment. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law to themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts; their conscience also bearing witness.” — Their conscience not only bore witness to the duty prescribed by this law, but also to the punishment before spoken of, as that which they who sinned without law, were liable to suffer, viz. that they should perish. In which the apostle is yet more express, chap. 1:32, speaking more especially of the heathen, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death.” Dr. T. often calls the law the rule of right; and this rule of right sentenced those sinners to death, who were not under the law of Moses, according to this author’s own paraphrase of this verse, in these words, “The heathen were not ignorant of the rule of right, which God had implanted in the human nature; and which shows that they which commit such crimes, are deserving of death.” And he himself supposes Abraham, who lived between Adam and Moses, to be under law, by which he would have been exposed to punishment without hope, were it not for the promise of grace. — (Paraph. on Rom. 4:15).
So that in our author’s way of explaining the passage before us, the grand argument which the apostle insists upon here to prove his main point, viz. that death does not come by men’s personal sins, but by Adam’s sin, because it came before the law was given, that threatened death for personal sin; I say, this argument which Dr. T. supposes so clear and strong (Page 117. S) is brought to nothing more than a mere shadow without substance; the very foundation of the argument having no truth. To say, there was no such law actually expressed in any standing revelation, would be mere trifling. For it no more appears, that God would not bring temporal death for personal sins without a standing revealed law threatening it, than that he would not bring eternal death before there was a revealed law threatening that: which yet wicked men that lived in Noah’s time, were exposed to, as appears by 1 Pet. 3:19, 20 and which Dr. T. supposes all mankind are exposed to by their personal sins; and he himself says (Page 77, 78) “Sin in its own unalterable nature leads to death.” Yea, it might be argued with as much strength of reason, that God could bring on men no punishment at all for any sin, that was committed from Adam to Moses, because there was no standing revealed law then extant threatening any punishment. It may here be properly observed, that our author supposes, the shortening of man’s days, and hastening of death, entered into the world by the sin of the antediluvians, in the same sense as death and mortality entered into the world by Adam’s sin (Page 68). But where was there any standing revealed law for that, though the event was so universal? If God might bring this on all mankind, on occasion of other men’s sins, for which they deserved nothing, without a revealed law, what could there be to hinder God bringing death on men for their personal sins, for which their own consciences tell them they deserve death without a revealed law?
2. If from Adam to Moses there had been no law in being, of any kind, revealed or natural, by which men could be properly exposed to temporal death for personal sin, yet the mention of Moses’s law would have been wholly impertinent, and of no signification in the argument, according to our author. He supposes that what the apostle would prove, is, that temporal death comes by Adam; and not by any law threatening such a punishment for personal sin; because this death prevailed before the law of Moses was in being, which is the only law threatening death for personal sin. And yet he himself supposes, that the law of Moses, when it was in being, threatened no such death for personal sin. For he abundantly asserts, that the death which the law of Moses threatened for personal sin, was eternal death, as has been already noted: and he says in express terms, that eternal death is of a nature widely different from the death we now die; [Page 120. S. He says to the like purpose in his note on Rom. 5:17] as was also observed before.
How impertinently therefore does Dr. T. make an inspired writer argue, when, according to him, the apostle would prove, that this kind of death did not come by any law threatening this kind of death, because it came before the existence of a law threatening another kind of death, of a nature widely different! How is it to the apostle’s purpose, to fix on that period, the time of giving Moses’s law, as if that had been the period wherein men began to be threatened with this punishment for their personal sins, when in truth it was no such thing? And therefore it was no more to this purpose to fix on that period, from Adam to Moses, than from Adam to David, or any other period whatsoever. Dr. T. holds, that even now, since the law of Moses has been given, the mortality of mankind, or the death we now die, does not come by that law; but that it always comes only by Adam [This is plain by what he says, p. 38, 40, 53, 117. S.]. And if it never comes by that law, we may be sure it never was threatened in that law.
3. If we should allow the argument in Dr. T.’s sense of it, to prove that death does not come by personal sin, yet it will be wholly without force to prove the main point, even that it must come by Adam’s sin: for it might come by God’s sovereign and gracious pleasure; as innumerable other divine benefits do. If it be ordered, agreeable to our author’s supposition, not as a punishment, nor as a calamity, but only as a favor, what necessity of any settled constitution, or revealed sentence, in order to bestow such a favor, more than other favors; and particularly more than that great benefit, which he says entered into the world by the sin of the antediluvians, the shortening men’s lives so much after the flood? Thus the apostle’s arguing, by Dr. T.’s explanation of it, is turned into mere trifling, a vain and impertinent use of words, without any real force or significance.
VI. The apostle here speaks of that great benefit which we have by Christ, as the antitype of Adam, under the notion of the fruit of GRACE. I do not mean only that superabounding of grace wherein the benefit we have by Christ goes beyond the damage sustained by Adam; but that benefit, with regard to which Adam was the figure of him that was to come, and which is as it were the counterpart of the suffering by Adam, and which repairs the loss we have by him. This is here spoken of as the fruit of the free grace of God; (as appears by Rom. 5:15-18, 20, 21) which according to our author, is the restoring of mankind to that life which they lost in Adam: and he himself supposes this restoration of life by Christ to be what grace does for us, and calls it the free gift of God, and the grace and favor of the lawgiver. And speaking of this restoration, he breaks out in admiration of the unspeakable riches of this grace (Page 119. S).
But it follows from his doctrine, that there is no grace at all in this benefit, and it is no more than a mere act of justice, being only a removing of what mankind suffer, being innocent. Death, as it commonly comes on mankind, and even on infants (as has been observed), is an extreme, positive calamity; to bring which on the perfectly innocent, unremedied, and without anything to countervail it, we are sufficiently taught, is not consistent with the righteousness of the judge of all the earth. What grace therefore, worthy of being so celebrated, would there be in affording remedy and relief, after there had been brought on innocent mankind that which is (as Dr. T. himself represents [Page 69]) the dreadful and universal destruction of their nature; being a striking demonstration how infinitely hateful sin is to God! What grace in delivering from such shocking ruin, them who did not deserve the least calamity! Our author says, “We could not justly lose communion with God by Adam’s sin” (Page 148). If so, then we could not justly lose our lives, and be annihilated, after a course of extreme pains and agonies of body and mind, without any restoration; which would be an eternal loss of communion with God, and all other good, besides the positive suffering. The apostle, throughout this passage, represents the death which is the consequence of Adam’s transgression, as coming in a way of judgment and condemnation for sin; but deliverance and life through Christ, as by grace, and the free gift of God. Whereas, on the contrary, by Dr. T.’s scheme, the death that comes by Adam, comes by grace, great grace; it being a great benefit, ordered in fatherly love and kindness, and on the basis of a covenant of grace: but in the deliverance and restoration by Christ, there is no grace at all. So things are turned topsy-turvy, the apostle’s scope and scheme entirely inverted and confounded.
VII. Dr. T. explains the words, judgment, condemnation, justification, and righteousness, as used in this place in a very unreasonable manner.
I will first consider the sense he puts upon the two former, judgment and condemnation. He often calls this condemnation a judicial act, and a sentence of condemnation. But, according to his scheme, it is a judicial sentence of condemnation passed upon them who are perfectly innocent — and viewed by the judge, even in passing the condemnatory sentence, as having no guilt of sin, or any fault at all chargeable upon them — and a judicial proceeding, passing sentence arbitrarily, without any law or rule of right before established. For there was no preceding law threatening death, that he or anyone else ever pretended to have been established, but only this, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” And concerning this he insists, that there is not a word said in it of Adam’s posterity. So that the condemnation spoken of, is a sentence of condemnation to death, for, or in consequence of, the sin of Adam, without any law by which that sin could be imputed to bring any such consequence; contrary to the apostle’s plain scope. And not only so, but, over and above all this, it is a judicial sentence of condemnation to that which is no calamity, nor is considered as such in the sentence; but a condemnation to a great favor!
The apostle uses the words judgment and condemnation in other places; they are no strange and unusual terms with him: but never are they used by him in this sense, or any like it; nor are they ever used thus anywhere else in the New Testament. This apostle, in this epistle to the Romans, often speaks of condemnation, using the same or similar terms and phrases as here, but never in the above said sense (See Rom. 2:1, 2, 3, six times in these verses; also verse 12, 27, and chap. 3:7; chap. 8:1, 3; Rom. 14:3, 4, verse 10, 13, 22 and 23). This will be plain to everyone who casts his eye on those places. And if we look into the former part of this chapter, the apostle’s discourse makes it evident, that he is speaking of a condemnation, which is no testimony of favor to the innocent; but of God’s displeasure towards those to whom he is not reconciled, but looks on as offenders and enemies, and holds as the objects of his wrath, from which we are delivered by Christ. (See verse 6-11.)
And even viewing this discourse itself, in the very paragraph we are upon, if we may judge anything by language, there is everything to lead us to suppose, that the apostle uses words here, as he does elsewhere, properly, and as implying a supposition of sin, chargeable on the subject, and exposing to punishment. He speaks of condemnation as what comes by sin, a condemnation to death, which seems to be a most terrible evil, and capital punishment, even in what is temporal and visible; and this in the way of judgment and execution of justice, in opposition to grace or favor, and gift or a benefit coming by favor. And sin, offense, transgression, and disobedience are, over and over again, spoken of as the ground of the condemnation, and of the capital suffering, for ten verses successively; that is, in every verse in the whole paragraph.
The words, justification and righteousness, are explained by Dr. T. in a manner no less unreasonable. He understands justification, in Rom. 5:18, and righteousness, in verse 19, in such a sense, as to suppose they belong to all, and are actually to be applied to all mankind, good and bad, believers and unbelievers; to the worst enemies of God, remaining such, as well as his peculiar favorites, and many that never had any sin imputed to them; meaning thereby no more than what is fulfilled in an universal resurrection from the dead, at the last day [So page 47, 49, 60, 61, 62, and other places.]. Now this is a most arbitrary, forced sense. Though these terms are used all over the New Testament, yet nothing like such an use of them is to be found in any one instance. The words justify, justification, and righteousness, as from God to men, are never used but to signify a privilege belonging only to some, and that which is peculiar to distinguished favorites. This apostle in particular, above all the other writers of the New Testament, abounds in the use of these terms; so that we have all imaginable opportunity to understand his language, and know the sense in which he uses these words: but he never elsewhere uses them in the sense supposed here, nor is there any pretense that he does. Above all, this apostle abounds in the use of these terms in this epistle. JUSTIFICATION is the subject he had been upon through all the preceding part of the epistle. It was the grand subject of all the foregoing chapters, and the preceding part of this chapter, where these terms are continually repeated. And the word, justification, is constantly used to signify something peculiar to believers, who had been sinners; implying some reconciliation and forgiveness of sin, and special privilege in nearness to God, above the rest of the world. Yea, the word is constantly used thus, according to Dr. T.’s own explanations, in his paraphrase and notes on this epistle. And there is not the least reason to suppose but that he is still speaking of the same justification, which he had dwelt upon from the beginning to this place. He speaks of justification and righteousness here, just in the same manner as he had done in the preceding part of the epistle. He had all along spoken of justification as standing in relation to sin, disobedience to God, and offense against him, and so he does here. He had before been speaking of justification through free grace, and so he does here. He before had been speaking of justification through righteousness, as in Christ Jesus, and so he does here.
And if we look into the former part of this very chapter, we shall find justification spoken of just in the same sense as in the rest of the epistle; which is also supposed by our author in his exposition. It is still justification by faith, justification of them who had been sinners, justification attended with reconciliation, justification peculiar to them who had the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. The apostle’s foregoing discourse on justification by grace through faith — and what he had so greatly insisted on as the evidence of the truth of this doctrine, even the universal sinfulness of mankind in their original state — is plainly what introduces this discourse in the latter part of this 5th chapter; where he shows how all mankind came to be sinful and miserable, and so to need this grace of God, and righteousness of Christ. And therefore we cannot, without the most absurd violence, suppose any other than that he is still speaking of the same justification.
And as to the universal expression used in the 18th verse, “by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life;” it is needless here to go into the controversy between the remonstrants and anti-remonstrants, concerning universal redemption, and their different interpretations of this place. If we take the words even as the Arminians do; yet, in their sense of them, the free gift comes on all men to justification only conditionally, i.e. provided they believe, repent, etc. but in our author’s sense, it actually comes on all, whether they believe and repent, or not; which certainly cannot be inferred from the universal expression, as here used. Dr. T. himself supposes, the main design of the apostle in this universal phrase, all men, is to signify that the benefits of Christ shall come on Gentiles as well as Jews [Page 60, 61. See also contents of this paragraph, in his notes on the epistle.]. And he supposes that the Many and the All, here signify the same; but it is quite certain, that all the benefits here spoken of, which the apostle says are to the many, does not actually come upon all mankind; as particularly the abounding of grace, verse 15, “The grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath abounded unto the many (åéò ôïõò ðïëëïõò).”
This abounding of grace our author explains thus; “a rich overplus of grace, in erecting a new dispensation, furnished with a glorious fund of light, means, and motives,” (p. 44). But will any pretend, that all mankind have actually been partakers of this new fund of light, etc. How were the many millions of Indians, on the American side of the globe, partakers of it, before the Europeans came hither? Yea, Dr. T. himself supposes, that it is only free for all that are willing to accept of it (Notes on the epistle, page 284). The agreement between Adam as the type or figure of him that was to come, and Christ as the anti-type, appears full and clear, if we suppose that ALL who are IN CHRIST (to use the common scripture phrase) have the benefit of his obedience, even as ALL who are IN ADAM have the sorrowful fruit of his disobedience. The Scripture speaks of believers as the seed or posterity of Christ. (Gal. 3:29) They are in Christ by grace, as Adam’s posterity are in him by nature. See also 1 Cor. 15:45-49. The spiritual seed are those which this apostle often represents as Christ’s body: and the ïé ðïëëïé here spoken of as made righteous by Christ’s obedience, are doubtless the same with the ïé ðïëëïé which he speaks of in Rom. 12:5. We, being many, are one body; or, we, the many, ïé ðïëëïé åí óùìá. And again, 1 Cor. 10:17, åí óùìá ïé ðïëëïé åóìåí And the same which the apostle had spoken of in the preceding chapter. (Rom. 4:18 compared with Gen. 15:5.)
Dr. T. insists much on 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive;” to confirm his suppositions, that the apostle in the 5th of Romans, speaking of the death and condemnation which come by Adam, has respect only to the death we all die, when this life ends: and that by the justification and life which come by Christ, he has respect only to the general resurrection at the last day. But it is observable, that his argument is wholly built on these two suppositions, viz. First, that the resurrection meant by the apostle, 1 Cor. 15 is the resurrection of all mankind, both just and unjust. Secondly, that the opposite consequences of Adam’s sin, and Christ’s obedience, in Rom. 5 are the very same, neither more nor less, than are spoken of there. But there are no grounds for supposing either of these things to be true.
1. There is no evidence, that the resurrection there spoken of, relates both to the just and unjust; but abundant evidence of the contrary. The resurrection of the wicked is seldom mentioned in the New Testament, and rarely included in the meaning of the word; it being esteemed not worthy to be called a rising to life, being only for a great increase of the misery and darkness of eternal death: and therefore by the resurrection is most commonly meant a rising to life and happiness. (As may be observed in Mat. 22:30; Luke 20:35, 36; John 6:39, 40, 54; Phil. 3:11 and other places.) The saints are called the children of the resurrection, as Dr. T. observes in his note on Rom. 8:11. And it is exceeding evident, that it is the resurrection to life and happiness, which the apostle is speaking of in 1 Cor. 15:21, 22. As appears by each of the three foregoing verses. Verse 18, “Then they which are fallen asleep in Christ (i.e. the saints) are perished.” Verse 19, “If in this life only we (Christians or apostles) have hope in Christ (and have no resurrection and eternal life to hope for), we are of all men most miserable.” Verse 20, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and is become the first-fruits of them that slept.” He is the forerunner and first-fruits only with respect to them that are his; who are to follow him, and partake with him in the glory and happiness of his resurrection: but he is not the first-fruits of them that shall come forth to the resurrection of damnation. It also appears by the verse immediately following, 1 Cor. 15:23, “But every man in his own order; Christ the first-fruits, and afterwards they that are Christ’s, at his coming.” The same is plain by what is said in verse 29-32 and by all that is said from the 35th verse to the end of the chapter, for twenty-three verses together: it there expressly appears, that the apostle is speaking only of a rising to glory, with a glorious body, as the little grain that is sown, being quickened, rises a beautiful flourishing plant. He there speaks of the different degrees of glory among them that shall rise, and compares it to the different degrees of glory among the celestial luminaries. The resurrection he treats of, is expressly, being raised in incorruption, in glory, in power, with a spiritual body, having the image of the second man, the spiritual and heavenly Adam: a resurrection wherein this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this moral put on immortality, and death be swallowed up in victory, and the saints gloriously triumph over that last enemy. Dr. T. himself says what is in effect owning that the resurrection here spoken of is only of the righteous; for it is expressly a resurrection åí áèáíáóéá, and áøèáñóéá (verse 53 and 42). But Dr. T. says, These are never attributed to the wicked in Scripture (note on Rom. 8:27). So that when the apostle says here, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive;” it is as much as if he had said, As in Adam we all die, and our bodies are sown in corruption, in dishonor, and in weakness: so in Christ we all (we Christians, whom I have been all along speaking of) shall be raised in power, glory, and incorruption, spiritual and heavenly, conformed to the second Adam. For as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly, verse 49. Which clearly explains and determines his meaning in verse 21, 22.
2. There is no evidence, that the benefit by the second Adam, spoken of in Rom. 5 is the very same (containing neither more nor less) as the resurrection spoken of in 1 Cor. 15. It is no evidence of it, that the benefit is opposed to the death that comes by the first Adam, in like manner in both places. The resurrection to eternal life, though it be not the whole of that salvation and happiness which comes by the second Adam, yet is it that wherein this salvation is principally obtained. The time of the saints’ glorious resurrection is often spoken of as the proper time of their salvation, The day of their redemption, the time of their adoption, glory and recompense. (As in Luke 14:14, 21:28; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30; Col. 3:4; 2 Thes. 1:7; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 1:13, 5:4; 1 John 3:2 and other places.) All that happiness which is given before, is only a prelibation and earnest of their great reward. Well therefore may that consummate salvation bestowed on them, be set in opposition to the death and ruin which comes by the first Adam, in like manner as the whole of their salvation is opposed to the same in Rom. 5. Dr. T. himself observes (note on Rom. 8:11), that the revival and resurrection of the body, is frequently put for our advancement to eternal life. It being the highest part, it is often put for the whole.
This notion, as if the justification, righteousness, and life spoken of in Rom. 5 implied the resurrection of damnation, is not only without ground from Scripture, but contrary to reason. For those that are there spoken of as great benefits, by the grace and free gift of God: but this is the contrary, in the highest degree possible; the most consummate calamity. To obviate this, our author supposes the resurrection of all to be a great benefit in itself, though turned into a calamity by the sin and folly of obstinate sinners, who abuse God’s goodness. But the far greater part of mankind, since Adam, have never had opportunity to abuse this goodness, it having never been made known to them. Men cannot abuse a kindness, which they never had either in possession, promise, offer, or some intimation: but a resurrection is made known only by divine revelation which few comparatively have enjoyed. So that as to such wicked men as die in lands of darkness, if their resurrection comes at all by Christ, it comes from him, and to them, only as a curse, and not a blessing; for it never comes to them at all by any conveyance, grant, promise, or offer, or anything by which they can claim it, or know anything of it, till it comes as an infinite calamity, past all remedy.
VIII. In a peculiar manner is there an unreasonable violence used in our author’s explanation of the words sinners and sinned, in the paragraph before us. He says, “These words, By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, mean neither more nor less, than that by one man’s disobedience, the many were made subject to death, by the judicial act of God.”(page 30) And he says in the same place, “By death, most certainly, is meant no other than the death and mortality common to all mankind.” And those words, Rom. 5:12, “For that all have sinned,” he thus explains, “All men became sinners, as all mankind are brought into a state of suffering” (page 54, and elsewhere). Here I observe,
1. The main thing, by which he justifies such interpretations, is, that sin, in various instances, is used for suffering, in the Old Testament (page 34). To which I reply; though it be true, that the original word signifies both sin, and a sin-offering — and though this, and some other Hebrew words which signify sin, iniquity, and wickedness, are sometimes put for the effect or punishment of iniquity, by a metonymy of the cause for the effect — yet it does not appear, that these words are ever used for suffering, where that suffering is not a punishment, or a fruit of God’s anger for sin. And therefore none of the instances he mentions, come up to his purpose. When Lot is commanded to leave Sodom, that he might not be consumed in the iniquity of the city, meaning in that fire which was the effect and punishment of the iniquity of the city; this is quite another thing, than if that fire came on the city in general, as no punishment at all, nor as any fruit of a charge of iniquity, but as a token of God’s favor to the inhabitants. For according to Dr. T. the death of mankind is introduced only as a benefit, from a covenant of grace. And especially is this quite another thing, than if, in the expression used, the iniquity had been ascribed to Lot; and God, instead of saying, Lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city, had said, Lest thou be consumed in thine iniquity, or, Lest thou sin, or be made a sinner. Whereas the expression is such, as expressly removes the iniquity spoken of from Lot, and fixes it on the city. The place cited by our author in Jer. 51 is exactly parallel. And as to what Abimelech says to Abraham, “What have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me, and on my kingdom, a great sin?” It is manifest, Abimelech was afraid that God was angry for what he had done to Sarah; or would have been angry with him, if he had done what he was about to do, as imputing sin to him for it. Which is a quite different thing from calling some calamity, sin, under no notion of its being any punishment of sin, nor in the least degree from God’s displeasure. And so with regard to every place our author cites in the margin, it is plain, that what is meant in each of them, is the punishment of sin, and not some suffering which is no punishment at all. And as to the instances he mentions in his Supplement (p. 8) the two that look most favorable to his design are those in Gen. 31:39 and 2 Kin. 7:9. With respect to the former, where Jacob says, that which was torn of beasts, I bare the loss of it. Dr. T. is pleased to translate it, I was the sinner; but properly rendered, it is, I expiated it; the verb in Pihel properly signifying to expiate; and the plain meaning is, I bore the blame of it, and was obliged to pay for it, as being supposed to be lost through my fault or neglect: which is a quite different thing from suffering without any supposition of fault. And as to the latter place, where the lepers say, this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till morning some mischief will befall us: in the Hebrew it is iniquity will find us, that is, some punishment of our fault will come upon us. Elsewhere such phrases are used, as your iniquity will find you out, and the like. But certainly this is a different thing from suffering without fault, or supposition of fault. And it does not appear, that the verb in Hiphil, rendered to condemn, is ever put for condemn, in any other sense than for sin, or guilt, or supposed guilt belonging to the subject condemned. This word is used in the participle of Hiphil, to signify CONDEMNING, in Pro. 17:15, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even both are an abomination to the Lord.” This Dr. T. observes, as if it were to his purpose, when he is endeavoring to show, that in this place (Rom. 5) the apostle speaks of God himself as condemning the just, or perfectly innocent, in a parallel signification of terms. Nor is any instance produced, wherein the verb sin, which is used by the apostle when he says, all have sinned, is anywhere used in our author’s sense, for being brought into a state of suffering, and that not as a punishment for sin, or as anything arising from God’s displeasure; much less for being the subject of what comes only as the fruit of divine love, and as a benefit of the HIGHEST NATURE (page 27. S). Nor can anything like this sense of the verb be found in the whole Bible.
2. If there had been anything like such an use of the words sin and sinner, as our author supposes, in the Old Testament, it is evident that such an use of them is quite alien from the language of the New Testament. Where can an instance be produced of anything like it, in any one place, besides what is pretended in this? and particularly in any of this apostle’s writings? We have enough of his writings, by which to learn his way of speaking about sin, condemnation, punishment, death, and suffering. He wrote much more of the New Testament than any other person. He very often has occasion to speak of condemnation: but where does he express it by such a phrase as being made sinners? Especially how far is he elsewhere from using such a phrase, to signify being condemned without guilt, or any imputation or supposition of guilt? Vastly more still is it remote from his language, so to use the verb sin, and to say, man sinneth, or has sinned, though hereby meaning nothing more nor less, than that he, by a judicial act, is condemned, according to a dispensation of grace, to receive a great favor! He abundantly uses the words sin and sinner; his writings are full of such terms; but where else does he use them in such a sense? He has much occasion in his epistles to speak of death, temporal and eternal; to speak of suffering of all kinds, in this world, and the world to come: but where does he call these things sin? or denominate innocent men sinners, meaning, that they are brought into a state of suffering? If the apostle, because he was a Jew, was so addicted to the Hebrew idiom, as thus in one paragraph to repeat this particular Hebraism, which, at most, is comparatively rare even in the Old Testament; is it not strange, that never anything like it should appear anywhere else in his writings? and especially, that he should never fall into such a way of speaking in his epistle to the Hebrews, written to Jews only, who were most used to the Hebrew idiom? And why does Christ never use such language in any of his speeches, though he was born and brought up among the Jews, and delivered almost all his speeches to Jews only? And why do none of the other New Testament writers ever use it, who were all born and educated Jews (excepting perhaps Luke), and some of them wrote especially for the benefit of the Jews?
It is worthy to be observed, what liberty is taken and boldness is used with this apostle. Such words as áìáñôïëïò, áìáñôáíù, êñéìá, êáôáêñéìá, äéêáéïù, äéêáéùóéò, are abundantly used by him elsewhere in this and other epistles, when speaking, as here, of Christ’s redemption and atonement, the general sinfulness of mankind, the condemnation of sinners, the justification by Christ, death as the consequence of sin, and restoration to life by Christ; yet no where are any of these words used, but in a sense very remote from what is supposed by Dr. T. however, in this place, it seems, these terms must have a distinguished singular sense annexed to them! A new language must be coined for the apostle, to which he is evidently quite unused, for the sake of evading this clear, precise, and abundant testimony of his, to the doctrine of original sin.
3. To put such a sense on the word sin, in this place, is not only to make the apostle greatly disagree with himself in the language he uses everywhere else, but also in this very passage. He often here used the word sin, and other words plainly of the same import, such as transgression, disobedience, offense. Nothing can be more evident, than that these are used as several names of the same thing; for they are used interchangeable, and put one for another. And these words are used no less than seventeen times in this one paragraph. Perhaps we shall find no place in the whole Bible, in which the word sin, and other words plainly synonymous, are used so often in so little compass: and in all these instances, in the proper sense, as signifying moral evil, and even so understood by Dr. T. himself (as appears by his own exposition), but only in these two places (Rom. 5:12, 19) where, in the midst of all, to evade a clear evidence of the doctrine of original sin, another meaning must be found out, and it must be supposed that the apostle uses the word in a sense entirely different, signifying something that neither implies nor supposes any moral evil at all in the subject.
Here it is very remarkable, how the gentleman who so greatly insisted upon it, that the word death must needs be understood in the same sense throughout this paragraph; yea, that it is evidently, clearly, and infallibly so, inasmuch as the apostle is still discoursing on the same thing. Let us take that one instance in Rom. 5:12, “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Here, by sin, implied in the word sinned, in the end of the sentence, our author understands something perfectly and altogether diverse from what is meant by the word sin, twice in the former part of the very same sentence, of which this latter part is the explication. And a sense entirely different from the use of the word twice in the next sentence, wherein the apostle is still most plainly discoursing on the same subject, as is not denied. And so our author himself understands verse 14. Afterwards (Rom. 5:19) the apostle uses the word sinners, which our author supposes to be in a somewhat different sense still. So that here is the utmost violence of the kind that can be conceived of, to make out a scheme against the plainest evidence, in changing the meaning of a word backward and forward in one paragraph, all about one thing, and in different parts of the same sentence, occurring in quick repetitions, with a variety of other synonymous words to fix its signification. To which we may add, the continued use of the word in all the preceding and subsequent parts of this epistle; in none of which places is it pretended, but that the word is used in the proper sense, by our author in his paraphrase and notes on the whole epistle.
But indeed we need go no further than verse 12. What the apostle means by sin, in the latter part of the verse, is evident, by comparing it with the former part; the last clause being exegetical of the first. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that (or unto which) all have sinned.” Here sin and death are so spoken of in the former and in the latter part that the same things are clearly meant by the terms in both parts. Besides, to interpret sinning, here, by falling under the suffering of death, is yet the more violent and unreasonable, because the apostle in this very place once and again distinguishes between sin and death; plainly speaking of one as the effect, and the other the cause. So in the 21st verse, “that as sin hath reigned unto death;” and in Rom. 5:12, “sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” And this plain distinction holds through all the discourse, as between death and the offense, verse 15 and verse 17 and between the offense and condemnation, verse 18.
4. Though we should omit the consideration of the manner in which the apostle uses the words, sin, sinned, etc. in other places, and in other parts of this discourse, yet Dr. T.’s interpretation of them would be very absurd.
The case stands thus: according to his exposition, we are said to have sinned by an active verb, as though we had actively sinned; yet this is not spoken truly and properly, but it is put figuratively for our becoming sinners passively, our being made or constituted sinners. Yet again, not that we do truly become sinners passively, or are really made sinners, by anything that God does; this also is only a figurative or tropical representation; and the meaning is only, we are condemned, and treated AS IF we were sinners. Not indeed that we are properly condemned, for God never truly condemns the innocent; but this also is only a figurative representation of the thing. It is but as it were condemning; because it is appointing to death, a terrible evil, as if it were a punishment. But then, in reality, here is no appointment to a terrible evil, or any evil at all; but truly to a benefit, a great benefit; and so in representing death as a punishment, another figure is used, and an exceeding bold one; for, as we are appointed to it, it is so far from being an evil or punishment, that it is really a favor, and that of the highest nature, appointed by mere grace and love, though it seems to be a calamity.
Thus we have tropes and figures multiplied, one upon another; and all in that one word, sinned; according to the manner, as it is supposed, in which the apostle uses it. We have a figurative representation, not of a reality, but of a figurative representation. Neither is this a representation of a reality, but of another thing that still is but a figurative representation of something else: yea, even this something else is still but a figure, and one that is very harsh and far-fetched. So that here we have a figure to represent a figure, even a figure of a figure, representing some very remote figure, which most obscurely represents the thing intended; if the most terrible evil can indeed be said at all to represent the contrary good of the highest kind. And now, what cannot be made of any place of Scripture, in such a way as this? And is there any hope of ever deciding any controversy by the Scripture, in the way of using such a license in order to force it to a compliance with our own schemes? If the apostle indeed uses language after so strange a manner in this place, it is perhaps such an instance, as not only there is not the like in all the Bible besides, but perhaps in no writing whatsoever. And this, not in any parabolical, visionary, or prophetic description, in which difficult and obscure representations are wont to be made; nor in a dramatic or poetical representation, in which a great license is often taken, and bold figures are commonly to be expected. But it is in a familiar letter, wherein the apostle is delivering gospel-instruction, as a minister of the New Testament: and wherein, as he professes, he delivers divine truth without the vail of ancient figures and similitudes, and uses great plainness of speech. And in a discourse that is wholly didactic, narrative, and argumentative; evidently setting himself to explain the doctrine he is upon, in the reason and nature of it, with a great variety of expressions, turning it as it were on every side, to make his meaning plain, and to fix in his readers the exact notion of what he intends. Dr. T. himself observes, [Pref. to Paraph. on Rom. p. 146, 48.] “This apostle takes great care to guard and explain every part of his subject: and I may venture to say, he had left no part of it unexplained or unguarded. Never was an author more exact and cautious in this than he. Sometimes he writes notes on a sentence liable to exception, and wanting explanation.” Now I think, this care and exactness of the apostle no where appears more than in the place we are upon. Nay, I scarcely know another instance equal to this, of the apostle’s care to be well understood, by being very particular, explicit, and precise, setting the matter forth in every light, going over and over again with his doctrine, clearly to exhibit, and fully to settle and determine the thing at which he aims.
PART II, CHAP. IV
Some observations on the connections, scope, and sense of this remarkable paragraph, Rom. 5:12, etc. With some reflections on the evidence which we here have of the doctrine of original sin
THE connection of this remarkable paragraph with the foregoing discourse in this epistle, is not obscure and difficult, nor to be sought for at a distance. It may be plainly seen, only by a general glance on what goes before, from the beginning of the epistle: and indeed what is said immediately before in the same chapter, leads directly to it. The apostle in the preceding part of this epistle had largely treated of the sinfulness and misery of all mankind, Jews as well as Gentiles. He had particularly spoken of the depravity and ruin of mankind in their natural state, in the foregoing part of this chapter; representing them as being sinners, ungodly, enemies, exposed to divine wrath, and without strength. This naturally leads him to observe, how this so great and deplorable an event came to pass; how this universal sin and ruin came into the world. And with regard to the Jews in particular, though they might allow the doctrine of original sin in profession, they were strongly prejudiced against what was implied in it, or evidently followed from it, with regard to themselves. In this respect they were prejudiced against the doctrine of universal sinfulness, and exposedness to wrath by nature, looking on themselves as by nature holy, and favorites of God, because they were the children of Abraham; and with them the apostle had labored most in the foregoing part of the epistle, to convince them of their being by nature as sinful, and as much the children of wrath, as the Gentiles: it was therefore exceeding proper, and what the apostle’s design most naturally led him to, that they should take off their eyes from their father Abraham, their father in distinction from other nations, and direct them to their father Adam, who was the common father of mankind, equally of Jews and Gentiles. And when he had entered on this doctrine of the derivation of sin and death, to all mankind from Adam, no wonder if he thought it needful to be somewhat particular in it, seeing he wrote to Jews and Gentiles; the former of which had been brought up under the prejudices of a proud opinion of themselves, as a holy people by nature, and the latter had been educated in total ignorance.
Again, the apostle had, from the beginning of the epistle, been endeavoring to evince the absolute dependence of all mankind on the free grace of God for salvation, and the greatness of this grace; and particularly in the former part of this chapter. The greatness of this grace he shows especially by two things. (1.) The universal corruption and misery of mankind; as in all the foregoing chapters, and in several preceding verses of this chapter (Rom. 5:6-10). (2.) The greatness of the benefits which believers receive, and the greatness of the glory for which they hope. So especially in verse 1-5, and 11th of this chapter. And here, verse 12, to the end, he still pursues the same design of magnifying the grace of God, in the favor, life, and happiness which believers in Christ receive; speaking here of the grace of God, the gift by grace, the abounding of grace, and the reign of grace. And he still sets forth the freedom and riches of grace by the same two arguments, viz. The universal sinfulness and ruin of mankind, all having sinned, all being naturally exposed to death, judgment, and condemnation; and the exceeding greatness of the benefit received, being far greater than the misery which comes by the first Adam, and abounding beyond it. And it is by no means consistent with the apostle’s scope, to suppose, that the benefit which we have by Christ, as the antitype of Adam, here mainly insisted on, is without any grace at all, being only a restoration to life of such as never deserved death.
Another thing observable in the apostle’s grand scope from the beginning of the epistle, is, that he endeavors to show the greatness and absoluteness of dependence on the redemption and righteousness of CHRIST, for justification and life, that he might magnify and exalt the Redeemer; in which design his whole heart was swallowed up, and may be looked upon as the main design of the whole epistle. And this is what he had been upon in the preceding part of this chapter, inferring it from the same argument, even the utter sinfulness and ruin of all men. And he is evidently still on the same thing from the 12th verse to the end; speaking of the same justification and righteousness, which he had dwelt on before, and not another totally diverse. No wonder, when the apostle is treating so fully and largely of our restoration, righteousness, and life by Christ, that he is led by it to consider our fall, sin, death, and ruin by Adam; and to observe wherein these two opposite heads of mankind agree, and wherein they differ, in the manner of conveyance of opposite influences and communications from each.
Thus, if the place be understood, as it used to be understood by orthodox divines, the whole stands in a natural, easy, and clear connection with the preceding part of the chapter, and all the former part of the epistle; and in a plain agreement with the express design of all that the apostle had been saying; and also in connection with the words last before spoken, as introduced by the two immediately preceding verses, where he is speaking of our justification, reconciliation, and salvation by Christ; which leads the apostle directly to observe, how, on the contrary, we have sin and death by Adam. Taking this discourse of the apostle in its true and plain sense, there is no need of great extent of learning, or depth of criticism, to find out the connection. But if it be understood in Dr. T.’s sense, the plain scope and connection are wholly lost, and there was truly need of skill in criticism, and the art of discerning, beyond or at least different from that of former divines, and a faculty of seeing what other men’s sight could not reach, in order to find out the connection.
What has been already observed, may suffice to show the apostle’s general scope in this place. But yet there seem to be some other things to which he alludes in several expressions. As particularly the Jews had a very superstitious and extravagant notion of their law, delivered by Moses; as if it were the prime, grand, and indeed only rule of God’s proceeding with mankind as their judge, both in their justification and condemnation, or from whence all, both sin and righteousness, was imputed; and had no consideration of the law of nature, written in the hearts of the Gentiles, and of all mankind. Herein they ascribed infinitely too much to their particular law, beyond the true design of it. They made their boast of the law; as if their being distinguished from all other nations by that great privilege, the giving of the law, sufficiently made them a holy people, and God’s children. This notion of theirs the apostle evidently refers to, Rom. 2:13, 17-19, and indeed through that whole chapter. They looked on the law of Moses as intended to be the only rule and means of justification; and as such, trusted in the works of the law, especially circumcision; which appears by the third chapter. But as for the Gentiles, they looked on them as by nature sinners, and children of wrath; because born of uncircumcised parents, and aliens from their law, and who themselves did not know, profess, and submit to the law of Moses, become proselytes, and receive circumcision. What they esteemed the sum of their wickedness, and condemnation, was, that they did not turn Jews, and act as Jews. To this notion the apostle has a plain respect, and endeavors to convince them of its falseness, in chap. 2:12-16. And he has a manifest regard again to the same thing here. (Rom. 5:12-14) Which may lead us the more clearly to see the true sense of those verses; about the sense of which is the main controversy, and the meaning of which being determined, it will settle the meaning of every other controverted expression through the whole discourse.
Dr. T. misrepresents the apostle’s argument in these verses; which, as has been demonstrated, is in his sense altogether vain and impertinent. He supposes, the thing which the apostle mainly intends to prove, is, that death or mortality does not come on mankind by personal sin; and that he would prove it by this medium, that death reigned when there was no law in being which threatened personal sin with death. It is acknowledged, that this is implied, even that death came into the world by Adam’s sin: yet this is not the main thing the apostle designs to prove. But his main point evidently is, that sin and guilt, and just exposedness to death and ruin, came into the world by Adam’s sin; as righteousness, justification, and a title to eternal life come by Christ. Which point he confirms by this consideration, that from the very time when Adam sinned, sin, guilt, and desert of ruin, became universal in the world, long before the law given by Moses to the Jewish nation had any being.
The apostle’s remark, that sin entered into the world by one man, who was the father of the whole human race, was an observation which afforded proper instruction for the Jews, who looked on themselves as an holy people, because they had the law of Moses, and were the children of Abraham, an holy father; while they looked on other nations as by nature unholy and sinners, because they were not Abraham’s children. He leads them up to a higher ancestor than this patriarch, even to Adam, who being equally the father of Jews and Gentiles, both alike come from a sinful father; from whom guilt and pollution were derived alike to all mankind. And this the apostle proves by an argument, which of all that could possibly be invented, tended the most briefly and directly to convince the Jews; even by this reflection, that death had come equally on all mankind from Adam’s time, and that the posterity of Abraham were equally subject to it with the rest of the world. This was apparent in fact, a thing they all knew. And the Jews had always been taught, that death (which began in the destruction of the body, and of this present life) was the proper punishment of sin. This they were taught in Moses’s history of Adam, and God’s first threatening of punishment for sin, and by the constant doctrine of the law and the prophets; as already observed.
And the apostle’s observation — that sin was in the world long before the law was given, and was as universal in the world from the times of Adam, as it had been among the heathen since the law of Moses — showed plainly, that the Jews were quite mistaken in their notion of their particular law; and that the law which is the original and universal rule of righteousness and judgment for all mankind, was another law, of far more ancient date, even the law of nature. This began as early as the human nature began, and was established with the first father of mankind, and in him with the whole race. The positive precept of abstaining from the forbidden fruit, was given for the trial of his compliance with this law of nature; of which the main rule is supreme regard to God and his will. And the apostle proves that it must be thus, because if the law of Moses had been the highest rule of judgment, and if there had not been a superior, prior, divine rule established, mankind in general would not have been judged and condemned as sinners, before that was given (for “sin is not imputed, when there is no law,”) as it is apparent in fact they were, because death reigned before that time, even from the time of Adam.
It may be observed, that the apostle, both in this epistle, and in that to the Galatians, endeavors to convince the Jews of these two things, in opposition to the notions and prejudices they had entertained concerning their law. (1.) That it never was intended to be the covenant, or method by which they should actually be justified. (2.) That it was not the highest and universal rule or law, by which mankind in general, and particularly the heathen world, were condemned. And he proves both by similar arguments. — He proves, that the law of Moses was not the covenant, by which any of mankind were to obtain justification, because that covenant was of older date, being expressly established in the time of Abraham, and Abraham himself was justified by it. This argument the apostle particularly handles in the third chapter of Galatians, particularly in verse 17-19 and especially in Rom. 4:13-15. He proves also, that the law of Moses was not the prime rule of judgment, by which mankind in general, and particularly the heathen world, were condemned. And this he proves also the same way, viz. by showing this to be of older date than that law, and that it was established with Adam. Now, these things tended to lead the Jews to right notions of their law, not as the intended method of justification, nor as the original and universal rule of condemnation, but something superadded to both; superadded to the latter, to illustrate and confirm it, that the offense might abound; and superadded to the former, to be as a schoolmaster, to prepare men for its benefits, and to magnify divine grace in it, that this might much more abound.
The chief occasion of obscurity and difficulty, attending the scope and connection of the various clauses of this discourse, particularly in the 13th and 14th verses, is that there are two things (although closely connected) which the apostle has in view at once. He would illustrate the grand point he had been upon from the beginning, even justification through Christ’s righteousness alone, by showing how we are originally in a sinful miserable state, how we derive this sin and misery from Adam, and how we are delivered and justified by Christ as a second Adam. At the same time he would confute those foolish and corrupt notions of the Jews, about their nation, and their law, which were very inconsistent with these doctrines. And he here endeavors to establish, at once, these two things in opposition to those Jewish notions.
(1.) That it is our natural relation to Adam, and not to Abraham, which determines our native moral state; and that, therefore, being natural children of Abraham, will not make us by nature holy in the sight of God, since we are the natural seed of sinful Adam. Nor does the Gentiles being not descended from Abraham, denominate them sinners, any more than the Jews, seeing both alike are descended from Adam.
(2.) That the law of Moses is not the prime and general law and rule of judgment for mankind, to condemn them, and denominate them sinners; but that the state they are in with regard to a higher, more ancient, and universal law, determines them in general to be sinners in the sight of God, and liable to be condemned as such. Which observation is, in many respects, to the apostle’s purpose; particularly in this respect, that if the Jews were convinced, that the law, which was the prime rule of condemnation, was given to all, was common to all mankind, and that all fell under condemnation through the violation of that law by the common father of all, both Jews and Gentiles, then they would be led more easily and naturally to believe, that the method of justification, which God had established, also extended equally to all mankind: and that the Messiah, by whom we have this justification, is appointed, as Adam was, for a common head to all, both Jews and Gentiles. — The apostle aiming to confute the Jewish notion, is the principal occasion of those words in the 13th verse, “for until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed, when there is no law.”
As to the import of that expression, “even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” not only is the thing signified, in Dr. T.’s sense of it, not true; or if it had been true, would have been impertinent, as has been shown: but his interpretation is, otherwise, very much strained and unnatural. According to him, “by sinning after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” is not meant any similitude of the act of sinning, nor of the command sinned against nor properly any circumstance of the sin; but only the similitude of a circumstance of the command, viz. the threatening with which it is attended. A far-fetched thing, truly, to be called a similitude of sinning! Besides, this expression in such a meaning, is only a needless, impertinent, and awkward repetition of the same thing, which it is supposed the apostle had observed in the foregoing verse, even after he had proceeded another step in the series of his discourse. As thus, in the foregoing verse the apostle had plainly laid down his argument (as our author understands it), by which he would prove, that death did not come by personal sin, viz. because death reigned before any law, threatening death for personal sin, was in being: so that the sin then committed was against no law, threatening death for personal sin. Having laid this down, the apostle leaves this part of his argument, and proceeds another step, nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses: and then returns, in a strange unnatural manner, and repeats that argument or assertion again, but only more obscurely than before, in these words, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression; i.e. over them that had not sinned against a law threatening death for personal sin. Which is just the same thing as if the apostle had said, “they that sinned before the law, did not sin against a law threatening death for personal sin; for there was no such law for any to sin against at that time: nevertheless death reigned at that time, even over such as did not sin against a law threatening death for personal sin.” Which latter clause adds nothing to the premises, and tends nothing to illustrate what was said before, but rather to obscure and darken it. The particle (êáé) even, when prefixed in this manner, is used to signify something additional, some advance in the sense or argument; implying, that the words following express something more, or express the same thing more fully, plainly, or forcibly. But to unite two clauses by such a particle, in such a manner, when there is nothing besides a flat repetition, with no superadded sense or force, but rather a greater uncertainty and obscurity, would be very unusual, and indeed very absurd.
I can see no reason why we should be dissatisfied with that explanation of this clause, which has more commonly been given, viz. That by them who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, are meant infants; who, though they have indeed sinned in Adam, yet never sinned as Adam did, by actually transgressing in their own persons; unless it be, that this interpretation is too old, and too common. It was well understood by those to whom the apostle wrote, that vast numbers had died in infancy, within that period of which he speaks, particularly in the time of the deluge. And it would be strange, that the apostle should not have the case of such infants in his mind; even supposing his scope were what our author supposes, and he had only intended to prove that death did not come on mankind for their personal sin. How directly would it have served the purpose of proving this, to have mentioned so great a part of mankind who are subject to death, and who, all know, never committed any sin in their own persons! How much more plain and easy the proof of the point by that, than to go round about, as Dr. T. supposes, and bring in a thing so dark and uncertain as this, that God never would bring death on all mankind for personal sin (though they had personal sin) without an express revealed constitution; and then to observe, that there was no revealed constitutions of this nature from Adam to Moses — which also seems to be an assertion without any plain evidence — and then to infer, that it must needs be so, that it could come only on occasion of Adam’s sin, though not for his sin, or as any punishment of it; which inference also is very dark and unintelligible.
If the apostle in this place meant those who never sinned by their personal act, it is not strange that he should express this by their not sinning after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. We read of two ways of men being like Adam, or in which a similitude to him is ascribed to men: one is, being begotten or born in his image or likeness, Gen. 5:3. Another is, transgressing God’s covenant or law, like him, Hos. 6:7. They, like Adam (so, in the Heb. and Vulg. Lat.) have transgressed the covenant. Infants have the former similitude, but not the latter. And it was very natural, when the apostle would infer that infants become sinners by that one act and offense of Adam, to observe, that they had not renewed the act of sin themselves, by any second instance of a like sort. And such might be the state of language among Jews and Christians at that day, that the apostle might have no phrase more aptly to express this meaning. The manner in which the epithets, personal and actual, are used and applied now in this case, is probably of later date, and more modern use.
And the apostle having the case of infants in view, in this expression, makes it more to his purpose to mention death reigning before the law of Moses was given. For the Jews looked on all nations besides themselves, as sinners, by virtue of their law; being made so especially by the law of circumcision, given first to Abraham, and completed by Moses, making the want of circumcision a legal pollution, utterly disqualifying for the privileges of the sanctuary. This law, the Jews supposed, made the very infants of the Gentiles to be sinners, polluted and hateful to God; they being uncircumcised, and born of uncircumcised parents. But the apostle proves, against these notions of the Jews, that the nations of the world do not become sinners by nature, and sinners from infancy, by virtue of their law, in this manner, but by Adam’s sin: inasmuch as infants were treated as sinners long before the law of circumcision was given, as well as before they had committed actual sin.
What has been said, may, as I humbly conceive, lead us to that which is the true scope and sense of the apostle in these three verses; which I will endeavor more briefly to represent in the following paraphrase.
Rom. 5:12. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. “The things which I have largely insisted on, viz. the evil that is in the world, the general wickedness, guilt, and ruin of mankind, and the opposite good, even justification and life, as only by Christ, lead me to observe the likeness of the manner in which they are each of them introduced. For it was by one man that the general corruption and guilt which I have spoken of, came into the world, and condemnation and death by sin: and this dreadful punishment and ruin came on all mankind by the great law of works, originally established with mankind in their first father, and by his one offense, or breach of that law; all thereby becoming sinners in God’s sight, and exposed to final destruction.
Rom. 5:13. For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed, when there is no law. “It is manifest that it was in this way the world became sinful and guilty; and not in that way which the Jews suppose, viz. That their law, given by Moses, is the grand universal rule of righteousness and judgment for mankind, and that it is by being Gentiles, uncircumcised, and aliens from that law, that the nations of the world are constituted sinners, and unclean. For before the law of Moses was given, mankind were all looked upon by the great Judge as sinners, by corruption and guilt derived from Adam’s violation of the original law of works; which shows, that the original universal rule of righteousness is not the law of Moses; for if so, there would have been no sin imputed before that was given; because sin is not imputed, when there is no law.
Rom. 5:14. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. “But that at that time sin was imputed, and men were by their judge reckoned as sinners, through guilt and corruption derived from Adam, and condemned for sin to death, the proper punishment of sin, we have a plain proof; in that it appears in fact, all mankind, during that whole time which preceded the law of Moses, were subjected to that temporal death, which is the visible introduction and image of that utter destruction which sin deserves, not excepting even infants, who could be sinners no other way than by virtue of Adam’s transgression, having never in their own persons actually sinned as Adam did; nor could at that time be made polluted by the law of Moses, as being uncircumcised, or born of uncircumcised parents.”
Now, by way of reflection on the whole, I would observe, that though there are two or three expressions in this paragraph, Rom. 5:12, etc. the design of which is attended with some difficulty and obscurity, as particularly in the 13th and 14th verses, yet the scope and sense of the discourse in general is not obscure, but on the contrary very clear and manifest; and so is the particular doctrine mainly taught in it. The apostle sets himself with great care to make it plain, and precisely to fix and settle the point he is upon. And the discourse is so framed, that one part of it greatly clears and fixes the meaning of other parts; and the whole is determined by the clear connection it stands in with other parts of the epistle, and by the manifest drift of all the preceding part of it.
The doctrine of original sin is not only here taught, but most plainly, explicitly, and abundantly taught. This doctrine is asserted, expressly or implicitly, in almost every verse, and in some of the verses several times. It is fully implied in that first expression in verse 12, “By one man sin entered into the world.” The passage implies, that sin became universal in the world; as the apostle had before largely shown it was; and not merely (which would be a trifling observation) that one man, who was made first, sinned first, before other men sinned; or, that it did not so happen that many men began to sin just together at the same moment. The latter part of the verse, “and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for the (or, if you will, unto which) all have sinned,” shows, that in the eye of the Judge of the world, in Adam’s first sin, all sinned; not only in some sort, but all sinned so as to be exposed to that death, and final destruction, which is the proper wages of sin. The same doctrine is taught again twice over in the 14th verse. It is there observed, as a proof of this doctrine, that “death reigned over them which had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” i.e. by their personal act; and therefore could be exposed to death, only by deriving guilt and pollution from Adam, in consequence of his sin. And it is taught again in those words, who is the figure of him that was to come. The resemblance lies very much in this circumstance, viz. our deriving sin, guilt, and punishment by Adam’s sin, as we do righteousness, justification, and the reward of life, by Christ’s obedience; for so the apostle explains himself. The same doctrine is expressly taught again, Rom. 5:15, “Through the offence of one, many be dead.” And again twice in verse 16, “it was by one that sinned:” i.e. It was by Adam, that guilt and punishment (before spoken of) came on mankind: and in these words, “judgment was by one to condemnation.” It is again plainly and fully laid down in the verse 17, “By one man’s offence, death reigned by one.” So again in verse 18, “By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” Again very plainly in verse 19, “By one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners.”
Here is everything to determine and fix the meaning of all the important terms used; as, the abundant use of them in all parts of the New Testament; and especially in this apostle’s writings, which make up a very great part of the New Testament; and his repeated use of them in this epistle in particular; and in the former part of this very chapter; and also the light that one sentence in this paragraph casts on another, which fully settles their meaning: as, with respect to the words justification, righteousness, and condemnation; and above all, in regard of the word sin, which is the most important of all, with relation to the doctrine and controversy we are upon. Besides the constant use of this term everywhere else through the New Testament, through the epistles of this apostle, this epistle in particular, and even the former part of this chapter, it is often repeated in this very paragraph, and evidently used in the very sense that is denied to belong to it in the end of Rom. 5:12 and verse 19 though owned everywhere else: and its meaning is fully determined by the apostle varying the term; using together with it, to signify the same thing, such a variety of other synonymous words, such as offense, transgression, disobedience. And further, to put the matter out of all controversy, it is particularly, expressly, and repeatedly distinguished from that which our opposers would explain it by, viz. condemnation and death. And what is meant by sin entering into the world, in verse 12 is determined by a like phrase of sin being in the world, in the next verse. — And that by the offense of one, so often spoken of here, as bringing death and condemnation on all, the apostle means the sin of one, derived in its guilt and pollution to mankind in general (over and above all that has been already observed), is determined by those words in the conclusion of this discourse, verse 20, “Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound: but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” These words plainly show, that the OFFENSE spoken of so often, the offence of one man, became the sin of all. For when he says, “The law entered, that the offence might abound,” his meaning cannot be, that the offense of Adam, merely as his personally, should abound; but, as it exists in its derived guilt, corrupt influence, and evil fruits, in the sin of mankind in general, even as a tree in its root and branches.
What further confirms the certainty of the proof of original sin, which this place affords, is this, that the utmost art cannot pervert it to another sense. What a variety of the most artful methods have been used by the enemies of this doctrine, to wrest and darken this paragraph of Holy Writ, which stands so much in their way, as it were to force the Bible to speak a language agreeable to their mind! How have expressions been strained, words and phrases racked! What strange figures of speech have been invented, and with violent hands thrust into the apostle’s mouth; and then with a bold countenance and magisterial airs obtruded on the world, as from him! — But blessed be God, we have his words as he delivered them, and the rest of the same epistle, and his other writings to compare with them; by which his meaning stands in too strong and glaring a light to be hid by any of the artificial mists which they labor to throw upon it.
It is really no less than abusing the Scripture and its readers, to represent this paragraph as the most obscure of all the places of Scripture, that speak of the consequences of Adam’s sin; and to treat it as if there was need first to consider other places as more plain. Whereas, it is most manifestly a place in which these things are declared, the most plainly, particularly, precisely, and of set purpose, by that great apostle, who has most fully explained to us those doctrines in general, which relate to the redemption by Christ, and the sin and misery we are redeemed from. And it must be now left to the reader’s judgment, whether the Christian church has not proceeded reasonably, in looking on this as a place of Scripture most clearly and fully treating of these things, and in using its determinate sense as a help to settle the meaning of many other passages of Sacred Writ.
As this place in general is very full and plain, so the doctrine of the corruption of nature, as derived from Adam, and also the imputation of his first sin, are both clearly taught in it. The imputation of Adam’s one transgression, is indeed most directly and frequently asserted. We are here assured, that by one man’s sin, death passed on all; all being adjudged to this punishment, as having sinned (so it is implied) in that one man’s sin. And it is repeated, over and over, that all are condemned, many are dead, many made sinners, etc. by one man’s offense, by the disobedience of one, and by one offense. And the doctrine of original depravity is also here taught, when the apostle says, “By one man sin entered into the world;” having a plain respect (as hath been shown) to that universal corruption and wickedness, as well as guilt, of which he had before largely treated.
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.