The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended (PART 3)Theological Writings of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
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The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended (PART 3)
THE EVIDENCE GIVEN US, RELATIVE TO THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN, IN WHAT THE SCRIPTURES REVEAL CONCERNING THE REDEMPTION BY CHRIST
THE EVIDENCE OF ORIGINAL SIN, FROM THE NATURE OF REDEMPTION, IN THE PROCUREMENT OF IT
ACCORDING to Dr. T.’s scheme, a very great part of mankind are the subjects of Christ’s redemption, who live and die perfectly innocent, who never have had, and never will have, any sin charged to their account, and never are exposed to any punishment whatsoever, viz. all that die in infancy. They are the subjects of Christ’s redemption, as he redeems them from death, or as they by his righteousness have justification, and by his obedience are made righteous, in the resurrection of the body, in the sense of Rom. 5:18, 19. And all mankind are thus the subjects of Christ’s redemption, while they are perfectly guiltless, and exposed to no punishment, as by Christ they are entitled to a resurrection. Though, with respect to such persons as have sinned, he allows it is in some sort by Christ and his death, that they are saved from sin, and the punishment of it.
Now let us see whether such a scheme well consists with the scripture-account of the redemption by Jesus Christ.
I. The representations of the redemption by Christ, everywhere in Scripture, lead us to suppose, that all whom he came to redeem are sinners; that his salvation, as to the term from which (or the evil to be redeemed from), in all, is sin, and the deserved punishment of sin. It is natural to suppose, that when he had his name Jesus, or Savior, given him by God’s special and immediate appointment, the salvation meant by that name should be his salvation in general; and not only a part of his salvation, and with regard only to some of them whom he came to save. But this name was given him to signify “his saving his people from their sins,” Mat. 1:21. And the great doctrine of Christ’s salvation is, that “he came into the world to save sinners,” 1 Tim. 1:15. And that “Christ hath once suffered, the just for the unjust,” 1 Pet. 3:18. “In this was manifested the love of God towards us (towards such in general as have the benefit of God’s love in giving Christ), that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, that he sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:9, 10. Many other texts might be mentioned, which seem evidently to suppose, that all who are redeemed by Christ are saved from SIN. We are led by what Christ himself said, to suppose, that if any are not sinners, they have no need of him as a Redeemer, any more than a man in health of a physician, Mark 2:17. And that, in order to our being the proper subjects of the mercy of God through Christ, we must first be in a state of sin, is implied in Gal. 3:22, “But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” To the same effect is Rom. 11:32.
These things are greatly confirmed by the scripture doctrine of sacrifices. It is abundantly plain, both from the Old and New Testament, that these were types of Christ’s death, and were for sin, and supposed sin in those for whom they were offered. The apostle supposes, that in order to any having the benefit of the eternal inheritance by Christ, there must of necessity be the death of the testator; and gives that reason for it, “That without shedding of blood there is no remission,” Heb. 9:15-18, etc. And Christ himself, in representing the benefit of his blood, in the institution of the Lord’s supper, under the notion of the blood of a testament, calls it, “The blood of the New Testament shed for the remission of sins,” Mat. 26:28. But according to the scheme of our author, many have the eternal inheritance by the death of the testator, who never had any need of remission.
II. The Scripture represents the redemption by Christ, as a redemption from deserved destruction; and that, not merely as it respects some particulars, but as the fruit of God’s love to mankind. John 3:16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life;” implying, that otherwise, they must perish, or be destroyed. But what necessity of this, if they did not deserve to be destroyed? Now, that the destruction here spoken of, is deserved destruction, is manifest, because it is there compared to the perishing of such of the children of Israel as died by the bite of the fiery serpents, which God in his wrath, for their rebellion sent amongst them. And the same thing clearly appears by the last verse of the same chapter, “He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” or, is left remaining on him: implying, that all in general are found under the wrath of God, and that they only of all mankind who are interested in Christ, have this wrath removed, and eternal life bestowed; the rest are left with the wrath of God still remaining on them. The same is clearly illustrated and confirmed by John 5:24, “He that believeth, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life.” In being passed from death to life is implied, that before, they were all in a state of death; and they are spoken of as being so by a sentence of condemnation; and if it be a just condemnation, it is a deserved condemnation.
III. It will follow on Dr. T.’s scheme, that Christ’s redemption, with regard to a great part of them who are the subjects of it, is not only a redemption from no sin, but from no calamity, and so from no evil of any kind. For as to death, which infants are redeemed from, they never were subjected to it as a calamity, but purely as a benefit. It came by no threatening or curse denounced upon or through Adam; the covenant with him being utterly abolished, as to all its force and power on mankind (according to our author), before the sentence of mortality. Therefore trouble and death could be appointed to innocent mankind no other way than on account of another covenant, the covenant of grace; and in this channel they come only as favors, not as evils. Therefore they could need no remedy, for they had no disease. Even death itself, which it is supposed Christ saves them from, is only a medicine; and one of the greatest of benefits. It is ridiculous to talk of persons’ needing a medicine, or a physician, to save them from an excellent medicine; or of a remedy from a happy remedy! If it be said, though death be a benefit, yet it is so because Christ changes it, and turns it into a benefit, by procuring a resurrection: I would ask, what can be meant by turning or changing it into a benefit, when it never was otherwise, nor could ever justly be otherwise? Infants could not at all be brought under death as a calamity; for they never deserved it. And it would be only an abuse (be it far from us, to ascribe such a thing to God) in any being, to offer any poor sufferers a Redeemer from a calamity which he had brought upon them, without the least desert of it on their part.
But it is plain, that mortality was not at first brought on mankind as a blessing, by the covenant of grace through Christ; and that Christ and grace do not bring mankind under death, but find them under it. 2 Cor. 5:14-15, “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” Luke 19:10, “The Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost.” The grace which appears in providing a deliverer from any state, supposes the subject to be in that state prior to his deliverance. In our author’s scheme, there never could be any sentence of death or condemnation, that requires a Savior from it; because the very sentence itself, according to the true meaning of it, implies and makes sure all that good, which is requisite to abolish and make void the seeming evil to the innocent subject. So that the sentence itself is in effect the deliverer; and there is no need of another to deliver from that sentence. Dr. T. insists upon it, that “nothing comes upon us in consequence of Adam’s sin, in any SENSE, KIND, or DEGREE, inconsistent with the original blessing pronounced on Adam at his creation; and nothing but what is perfectly consistent with God’s blessing, love, and goodness, declared to Adam as soon as he came out of his Maker’s hands.” (Page 88, 89 S) If the case be so, it is certain there is no evil or calamity at all for Christ to redeem us from; unless things agreeable to the divine goodness, love and blessing, are things from which we need redemption.
IV. It will follow, on our author’s principles, not only with respect to infants, but even adult persons, that redemption is needless, and Christ is dead in vain. Not only is there no need of Christ’s redemption in order to deliverance from any consequences of Adam’s sin, but also in order to perfect freedom from personal sin, and all its evil consequences. For God has made other sufficient provision for that, viz. a sufficient power and ability, in all mankind, to do all their duty, and wholly to avoid sin. Yea, he insists upon it, that “when men have not sufficient power to do their duty, they have no duty to do. We may safely and assuredly conclude (says he), that mankind in all parts of the world have SUFFICIENT power to do the duty which God requires of them; and that he requires of them NO MORE than they have SUFFICIENT powers to do” (page 111, 68, 64. S). And in another place (page 67. S), “God has given powers EQUAL to the duty which he expects.” And he expresses a great dislike at R. R.’s supposing, that our propensities to evil, and temptations, are too strong to be EFFECTUALLY and CONSTANTLY resisted; or that we are unavoidably sinful IN A DEGREE; that our appetites and passions will be breaking out, notwithstanding our everlasting watchfulness” (page 68. S). These things fully imply, that men have in their own natural ability sufficient means to avoid sin, and to be perfectly free from it; and so, from all the bad consequences of it. And if the means are sufficient, then there is no need of more; and therefore there is no need of Christ dying, in order to it. What Dr. T. says (p. 72. S) fully implies, that it would be unjust in God to give mankind being in such circumstances, as that they would be more likely to sin, so as to be exposed to final misery, than otherwise. Hence then, without Christ and his redemption, and without any grace at all, MERE JUSTICE makes sufficient provision for our being free from sin and misery, by our own power.
If all mankind, in all parts of the world, have such sufficient power to do their whole duty, without being sinful in any degree, then they have sufficient power to obtain righteousness by the law: and then, according to the apostle Paul, Christ is dead in vain. Gal. 2:21, “If righteousness come by law, Christ is dead in vain;” — äéá íïìïõ, without the article, by law, or the rule of right action, as our author explains the phrase [Pref. to Par. on Rom. p. 143, 38.]. And according to the sense in which he explains this very place, “it would have frustrated, or rendered useless, the grace of God, if Christ died to accomplish what was or MIGHT have been effected by law itself, without his death.” [Note on Rom. 5:20, p. 297.] So that it most clearly follows from his own doctrine, that Christ is dead in vain, and the grace of God is useless. The same apostle says, if there had been a law which COULD have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law, Gal. 3:21, i.e. (still according to Dr. T.’s own sense), if there was a law, that man, in his present state, had sufficient power perfectly to fulfill. For Dr. T. supposes the reason why the law could not give life, to be “not because it was weak in itself, but through the weakness of our flesh, and the infirmity of the human nature in the present state.” (Ibid.) But he says, “We are under a mild dispensation of GRACE, making allowance for our infirmities” (page 92. S). By our infirmities, we may upon good grounds suppose he means that infirmity of human nature, which he gives as the reason why the law cannot give life. But what grace is there in making that allowance for our infirmities, which justice itself (according to his doctrine) most absolutely requires, as he supposes divine justice exactly proportions our duty to our ability?
Again, if it be said, that although Christ’s redemption was not necessary to preserve men from beginning to sin, and getting into a course of sin, because they have sufficient power in themselves to avoid it; yet it may be necessary to deliver men, after they have by their own folly brought themselves under the dominion of evil appetites and passions. I answer, if it be so, that men need deliverance from those habits and passions, which are become too strong for them, yet that deliverance, on our author’s principles, would be no salvation from sin. For the exercise of passions which are too strong for us, and which we cannot overcome, is necessary: and he strongly urges, that a necessary evil can be no moral evil. It is true, it is the effect of evil, as it is the effect of a bad practice, while the man had power to have avoided it. But then according to Dr. T. that evil cause alone is in; for he says expressly, “The cause of every effect is alone from it.” (Page 128) And as to that sin which was the cause, the man needed no Savior from that, having had sufficient power in himself to have avoided it. So that it follows by our author’s scheme, that none of mankind, neither infants nor adult persons, neither the more nor less vicious, neither Jews nor Gentiles, neither heathens nor Christians, ever did or ever could stand in any need of a Savior; and that, with respect to all, the truth is, Christ is dead in vain.
If any should say, although all mankind in all ages have sufficient ability to do their whole duty, and so may by their own power enjoy perfect freedom from sin, yet God foresaw that they would sin, and that after they had sinned, they would need Christ’s death. I answer, it is plain, by what the apostle says in those places which were just now mentioned (Gal. 2:21 and 3:21) that God would have esteemed it needless to give his Son to die for men, unless there had been a prior impossibility of their having righteousness by any law; and that, if there had been a law which COULD have given life, this other way by the death of Christ would not have been provided. And this appears to be agreeable to our author’s own sense of things, by his words which have been cited, wherein he says, “It would have FRUSTRATED or rendered USELESS the grace of God, if Christ died to accomplish what was or MIGHT HAVE BEEN effected by law itself, without his death.”
V. It will follow on Dr. T.’s scheme, not only that Christ’s redemption is needless for saving from sin, or its consequences, but also that it does no good that way, has no tendency to any diminution of sin in the world. For as to any infusion of virtue or holiness in to the heart, by divine power through Christ or his redemption, it is altogether inconsistent with this author’s notions. With him, inwrought virtue, if there were any such thing, would be no virtue; not being the effect of our own will, choice, and design, but only of a sovereign act of God’s power (See p. 180, 245, 250). And therefore, all that Christ does to increase virtue, is only increasing our talents, our light, advantages, means, and motives; as he often explains the matter (In p. 44, 50 and innumerable other places). But sin is not at all diminished. For he says, our duty must be measured by our talents; as, a child that has less talents, has less duty; and therefore must be no more exposed to commit sin, than he that has greater talents; because he that has greater talents, has more duty required, in exact proportion (See page 234, 61, 64-72 S). If so, he that has but one talent, has as much advantage to perform that one degree of duty which is required of him, as he that has five talents, to perform his five degrees of duty, and is no more exposed to fail of it. And that man’s guilt, who sins against greater advantages, means, and motives, is greater in proportion to his talents (See Paraph. on Rom. 2:9, also on verse 12). And therefore it will follow, on Dr. T.’s principles, that men stand no better chance, have no more eligible or valuable probability of freedom from sin and punishment, or of contracting but little guilt, or of performing required duty, with the great advantages and talents implied in Christ’s redemption, than without them; when all things are computed, and put into the balances together, the numbers, degrees, and aggravations of sin exposed to, degrees of duty required, etc. So that men have no redemption from sin, and no new means of performing duty, that are valuable or worth anything at all. And thus the great redemption by Christ in every respect comes to nothing, with regard both to infants and adult persons.
THE EVIDENCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN FROM WHAT THE SCRIPTURE TEACHES OF THE APPLICATION OF REDEMPTION
THE truth of the doctrine of original sin is very clearly manifest from what the Scripture says of that change of state, which it represents as necessary to an actual interest in the spiritual and eternal blessings of the Redeemer’s kingdom.
In order to this, it speaks of it as absolutely necessary for everyone, that he be regenerated, or born again. John 3:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man (ãåííçèç áíùèåí) be begotten again, or born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Dr. T. though he will not allow that this signifies any change from a state of natural propensity to sin, yet supposes that the new birth here spoken of, means a man’s being brought to a divine life, in a right use and application of the natural powers, in a life of true holiness (Page 144): and that it is the attainment of those habits of virtue and religion, which gives us the real character of true Christians, and the children of God (Page 246, 248); and that it is putting on the new nature of right action (Page 251).
But in order to proceed in the most sure and safe manner, in understanding what is meant in Scripture by being born again, and so in the inferences we draw from what is said of the necessity of it, let us compare scripture with scripture, and consider what other terms or phrases are used, where respect is evidently had to the same change. And here I would observe the following things.
I. If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest, that by regeneration, or being begotten, or born again, the same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the scripture speaks of as affected in true REPENTANCE and CONVERSION. I put repentance and conversion together, because the scripture puts them together, Acts 3:19 and because they plainly signify much the same thing. The word (ìåôáíïéá) repentance, signifies a change of the mind; as the word conversion, means a change or turning from sin to God. And that this is the same change with that which is called regeneration (excepting that this latter term especially signifies the change, as the mind is passive in it) the following things may show.
In the change which the mind undergoes in repentance and conversion, is attained that character of true Christians which is necessary to the eternal privileges of such. Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” And thus it is in regeneration; as is evident from what Christ says to Nicodemus, and as is allowed by Dr. T.
The change of mind in repentance is that in which saving faith is attained. Mark 1:15, “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe the gospel.” And so it is in being born again, or born of God; as appears by John 1:12, 13, “But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born not of blood, etc. but of God.” Just as Christ says concerning conversion, Mat. 18:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven:” so does he say concerning being born again, in what he spake to Nicodemus.
By the change men undergo in conversion, they become as little children; which appears in the place last cited: and so they do by regeneration. (1 Pet. 1:23 and 2:2) “Being born again. — Wherefore as new-born babes, desire,” etc. It is no objection, that the disciples, to whom Christ spake in Mat. 18:3 were converted already: this makes it not less proper for Christ to declare the necessity of conversion to them, leaving it with them to try themselves, and to make sure their conversion: in like manner as he declared to them the necessity of repentance, in Luke 13:3, 5, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
The change effected by repentance, is expressed and exhibited by baptism. Hence it is called the baptism of repentance (Mat. 3:11; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24, and 19:4). And so is regeneration, or being born again, expressed by baptism; as is evident by such representations of regeneration as those: John 3:5, “Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit.” — Tit. 3:5, “He saved us by the washing of regeneration.” — Many other things might be observed, to show that the change men pass under in their repentance and conversion, is the same with that of which they are the subjects in regeneration. — But these observations may be sufficient.
II. The change which a man undergoes when born again, and in his repentance and conversion, is the same that the scripture calls the CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART. — This may easily appear by considering, that as regeneration is that in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, as has been shown, and as is confessed; so is circumcision of heart. Deu. 30:6, “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.”
Regeneration is that whereby men come to have the character of true Christians; as is evident, and as is confessed; and so is circumcision of heart: for by this men become Jews inwardly, or Jews in the spiritual and Christian sense (and that is the same as being true Christians), as of old, proselytes were made Jews by circumcision of the flesh. Rom. 2:28, 29, “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
That circumcision of the heart, is the same with conversion, or turning from sin to God, is evident by Jer. 4:1-4, “If thou wilt return, O Israel, return unto me. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and put away the foreskins of your heart.” And Deu. 10:16, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.” Circumcision of the heart is the same change of the heart that men experience in repentance; as is evident by Lev. 26:41, “If their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they accept the punishment of their iniquity.”
The change effected in regeneration, repentance, and conversion, is signified by baptism, as has been show; and so is circumcision of the heart signified by the same thing. None will deny, that it was this internal circumcision, which of old was signified by external circumcision; nor will any deny, now under the New Testament, that inward and spiritual baptism, or the cleansing of the heart, is signified by external washing or baptism. But spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism are the same thing; both being putting off the body of the sins of the flesh; as is very plain by Col. 2:11-13, “In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him,” etc.
III. This inward change, called regeneration, and circumcision of the heart, which is wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same with that spiritual RESURRECTION so often spoken of, and represented as a dying unto sin, and a living unto righteousness. — This appears with great plainness in that last cited place, Col. 2:11, “In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands, — buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, etc. And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him; having forgiven you all trespasses.”
The same appears by Rom. 6:3-5, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life,” etc. verse 11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In which place also it is evident, and by the whole context, that this spiritual resurrection is that change, in which persons are brought to habits of holiness and to the divine life, by which Dr. T. describes the thing obtained in being born again.
That a spiritual resurrection to a new, divine life, should be called a being born again, is agreeable to the language of Scripture. So those words in the 2d Psalm, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” are applied to Christ’s resurrection, Acts 13:33. So in Col. 1:18, Christ is called the first BORN from the dead; and in Rev. 1:5, The first BEGOTTEN of the dead. The saints, in their conversion or spiritual resurrection, are risen with Christ, and are begotten and born with him. 1 Pet. 1:3, “Who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible.” This inheritance is the same thing with that KINGDOM of HEAVEN, which men obtain by being born again, according to Christ’s words to Nicodemus; and that same inheritance of them that are sanctified, spoken of as what is obtained in true CONVERSION. Acts 26:18, “To turn them (or convert them) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sin, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, through faith that is in me.” Dr. T.’s own words, in his note on Rom. 1:4 speaking of that place in the 2d Psalm, are very worthy to be here recited. He observes how this is applied to Christ’s resurrection and exaltation, in the New Testament, and then has this remark, “note begetting is conferring a new and happy state: a son is a person put into it. Agreeably to this, good men are said to be the sons of God, as they are the sons of the resurrection to eternal life, which is represented as a ðáëéããåíåóéá, a being BEGOTTEN, or BORN AGAIN, REGENERATED.” So that I think it is abundantly plain, that the spiritual resurrection spoken of in Scripture, by which the saints are brought to a new divine life, is the same with that being born again, which Christ says is necessary for everyone, in order to his seeing the kingdom of God.
IV. This change, of which men are the subjects, when they are born again, and circumcised in heart, when they repent, and are converted, and spiritually raised from the dead, is the same change which is meant when the Scripture speaks of making the HEART and SPIRIT NEW, or giving a new heart and spirit.
It is almost needless to observe, how evidently this is spoken of as necessary to salvation, and as the change in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, and the character of a true saint; as has been observed of regeneration, conversion, etc. and how apparent it is, that the change is the same. Thus repentance (ìåôáíïéá), the change of the mind, is the same as being changed to a NEW mind, or a NEW heart and spirit. Conversion is the turning of the heart; which is the same thing as changing it so, that there shall be another heart, or a new heart, or a new spirit. To be born again, is to be born anew; which implies a becoming NEW, and is represented as becoming newborn babes. But none supposes it is the body, that is immediately and properly new, but the mind, heart, or spirit. And so a spiritual resurrection is the resurrection of the spirit, or rising to begin a NEW existence and life, as to the mind, heart, or spirit. So that all these phrases imply, having a new heart, and being renewed in the spirit, according to their plain signification.
When Nicodemus expressed his wonder at Christ declaring it necessary, that a man should be born again in order to see the kingdom of God, or enjoy the privileges of the kingdom of the Messiah, Christ says to him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? i.e. “Art thou one who is set to teach others the things written in the law and the prophets, and knowest not a doctrine so plainly taught in your Scriptures, that such a change is necessary to a partaking of the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom?” But what can Christ refer to, unless such prophecies as that in Eze. 36:25-27? Where God, by the prophet, speaking of the days of the Messiah’s kingdom, says, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. — A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you — and I will put my Spirit within you.” Here God speaks of having a new heart and spirit, by being washed with water, and receiving the Spirit of God, as the qualification of God’s people, that shall enjoy the privileges of the Messiah’s kingdom. How much is this like the doctrine of Christ to Nicodemus, of being born again of water, and of the Spirit! We have another like prophecy in Eze. 11:19. — Add to this, that regeneration, or a being born again, and the renewing (or making new) by the Holy Ghost, are spoken of as the same thing, Tit. 3:5, “By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
V. It is abundantly manifest, that being born again, spiritually rising from the dead to newness of life, receiving a new heart, and being renewed in the spirit of the mind, are the same thing with that which is called putting off the OLD MAN, and putting on the NEW MAN.
The expressions are equivalent; and the representations are plainly of the same thing. When Christ speaks of being born again, two births are supposed: a first and a second, an OLD birth and a NEW one: and the thing born is called man. So what is born in the first birth is the old man; and what is brought forth in the second birth, is the new man. That which is born in the first birth (says Christ) is flesh: it is the carnal man, wherein we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, whom the apostle calls the first man. That which is born in the new birth, is spirit, or the spiritual and heavenly man: wherein we proceed from Christ the second man, the new man, who is made a quickening Spirit, and is the Lord from heaven, and the Head of the new creation. — In the new birth, men are represented as becoming newborn babes, which is the same thing as becoming new men.
And how apparently is what the Scripture says of the spiritual resurrection of the Christian convert, equivalent and of the very same import with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. So in Rom. 6 the convert is represented as dying, and being buried with Christ; which is explained in the 6th verse, by this, that the old man is crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed. And in the 4th verse, converts in this change are spoken of as rising to newness of life. Are not these things plain enough? The apostle in effect tells us, that when he speaks of spiritual death and resurrection, he means the same thing as crucifying and burying the old man, and rising as a new man.
And it is most apparent, that spiritual circumcision, and spiritual baptism, and the spiritual resurrection, are all the same with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. This appears by Col. 2:11, 12, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism; wherein also ye are risen with him.” Here it is manifest, that the spiritual circumcision, baptism, and resurrection, all signify that change wherein men put off the body of the sins of the flesh: but that is the same thing, in this apostle’s language, as putting off the old man; as appears by Rom. 6:6, “Our old man is crucified, that the body of sin may be destroyed.” And that putting off the old man is the same with putting off the body of sin, appears further by Eph. 4:22-24 and Col. 3:8-10. As Dr. T. confesses, “that to be born again, is that wherein are obtained the habits of virtue, religion, and true holiness;” so how evidently is the same thing predicated of that change, which is called putting off the old man, and putting on the new man! Eph. 4:22-24, “That ye put off the old man, which is corrupt, etc. and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
And it is most plain, that this putting off the old man, etc. is the very same thing with making the heart and spirit new. It is apparent in itself; the spirit is called the man, in the language of the apostle; it is called the inward man, and the hidden man. (Rom. 7:22; 2 Cor. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:4) And therefore, putting off the old man, is the same thing with the removal of the old heart; and the putting on of the new man, is the receiving of a new heart, and a new spirit. Yea, putting on the new man is expressly spoken of as the same thing with receiving a new spirit, or being renewed in spirit, Eph. 4:22-24, “That ye put off the old man — and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man.”
From these things it appears, how unreasonable, and contrary to the utmost degree of scriptural evidence, is Dr. T.’s way of explaining the old man, and the new man (Page 149-153. S), as though thereby was meant nothing personal; but that by the old man was meant the heathen state, and by the new man like the Christian dispensation, or state of professing Christians, or the whole collective body of professors of Christianity, made up of Jews and Gentiles; when all the color he has for it is, that the apostle once calls the Christian church a new man. (Eph. 2:15) It is very true, in the Scriptures often, both in the Old Testament and the New, collective bodies, nations, peoples, and cities, are figuratively represented by persons: particularly the church of Christ is represented as one holy person, and has the same appellatives as a particular saint or believer; and so is called a child, a son of God (Exo. 4:22; Gal. 4:1, 2) a servant of God (Isa. 41:8, 9 and 44:1). The daughter of God, and spouse of Christ (Psa. 45:10, 13, 14; Rev. 19:7). Nevertheless, would it be reasonable to argue, that such appellations, as a servant of God, child of God, etc. are always or commonly to be taken as signifying only the church of God in general, or great collective bodies; and not to be understood in a personal sense? But certainly this would not be more unreasonable than to urge, that by the old and the new man, as the phrases are mostly used in Scripture, is to be understood nothing but the great collective bodies of pagans and of Christians, or the heathen and the Christian world, as to their outward profession, and the dispensation they are under. It might have been proper, in this case, to have considered the unreasonableness of that practice which our author charges on others, and finds so much fault with in them [Page 224], “That they content themselves with a few scraps of Scripture, which though wrong understood, they make the test of truth, and the ground of their principles, in contradiction to the whole tenor of revelation.”
VI. I observe once more, it is very apparent, that being born again, and spiritually raised from death to a state of new existence and life, having a new heart created in us, being renewed in the spirit of our mind, and being the subjects of that change by which we put off the old man, and put on the new man is the same thing with that which in Scripture is called being CREATED ANEW, or made NEW CREATURES.
Here, to pass over many other evidences which might be mentioned, I would only observe, that the representations are exactly equivalent. These several phrases naturally and most plainly signify the same effect. In the first birth, or generation, we are created, or brought into existence: it is then the whole man first receives being: the soul is then formed, and then our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, being curiously wrought by our Creator. So that a newborn child is a new creature. So, when a man is born again, he is created again; in that new birth, there is a new creation; and therein he becomes as a newborn babe, or a NEW CREATURE. So, in a resurrection, there is a new creation. When a man is dead, that which was made in the first creation is destroyed: when that which was dead is raised to life, the mighty power of the author of life is exerted the second time, and the subject restored to a new existence, and a new life, as by a new creation. So giving a new heart is called CREATING a clean heart, Psa. 51:10 where the word, translated create, is the same that is used in the first verse, in Genesis. And when we read in Scripture of the new creature, the creature that is called NEW is MAN; and therefore the phrase, new man, is evidently equipollent with new creature; and putting off the old man, and putting on the new man, is spoken of expressly as brought to pass by a work of creation. Col. 3:9, 10, “Ye have put off the old man — and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” So. Eph. 4:22-24, “That ye put off the old man, which is corrupt, etc. and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” These things absolutely fix the meaning of 2 Cor. 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
On the whole, the following reflections may be made:
1. That it is a truth of the utmost certainty, with respect to every man born of the race of Adam, by ordinary generation, that unless he be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This is true, not only of the heathen, but of them that are born of the professing people of God, as Nicodemus, and the Jews, and every man born of the flesh. This is most manifest by Christ’s discourse in John 3:3-11. So it is plain by 2 Cor. 5:17, That every man who is in Christ, is a NEW CREATURE.
2. It appears from this, together with what has been proved above, that it is most certain with respect to every one of the human race, that he can never have any interest in Christ, or see the kingdom of God, unless he be the subject of that CHANGE in the temper and disposition of his heart, which is made in repentance and conversion, circumcision of heart, spiritual baptism, dying to sin, and rising to a new and holy life; and unless he has the old heart taken away, and a new heart and spirit given, and puts off the old man, and puts on the new man, and old things are passed away, and all things made new.
3. From what is plainly implied in these things, and from what the Scripture most clearly teaches of the nature of them, it is certain, that every man is born into the world in a state of moral pollution. For SPIRITUAL BAPTISM is a cleansing from moral filthiness (Eze. 36:25 compared with Acts 11:16 and John 3:5). So the washing of regeneration, or the NEW BIRTH, is a change from a state of wickedness. (Tit. 3:3-5) Men are spoken of as purified in their regeneration (1 Pet. 1:22, 23; see also 1 John 2:29 and 3:1, 3). And it appears, that every man in his first or natural state is a sinner; for otherwise he would then need no REPENTANCE, no CONVERSION, no turning from sin to God. And it appears, that every man in his original state has a heart of stone; for thus the Scripture calls that old heart, which is taken away, when a NEW HEART and NEW SPIRIT is given. (Eze. 11:19 and 36:26) And it appears, that man’s nature, as in his native state, is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and of its own motion exerts itself in nothing but wicked deeds. For thus the Scripture characterizes the OLD MAN, which is put off, when men are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and put on the NEW MAN. (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:8-10) In a word, it appears, that man’s nature, as in its native state, is a body of sin, which must be destroyed, must die, be buried, and never rise more. For thus the OLD MAN is represented, which is crucified, when men are the subjects of a spiritual RESURRECTION, Rom. 6:4-6. Such a nature, such a body of sin as this, is put off in the spiritual RENOVATION, wherein we put on the NEW MAN, and are the subjects of the spiritual CIRCUMCISION, Eph. 4:21-23.
It must now be left with the reader to judge for himself, whether what the Scripture teaches of the APPLICATION of Christ’s redemption, and the change of state and nature necessary to true and final happiness, does not afford clear and abundant evidence to the truth of the doctrine of original sin.
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.