DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
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1. THE PAST AND PRESENT STATE OF MANKIND.
BEFORE we attempt to account for any fact, we should be well assured of the fact itself.
First, I say, let us inquire, What is the real state, with regard to knowledge and virtue, wherein mankind have been from the earliest times? And what state are they in at this day? 1. What is the state, (to begin with the former branch of the inquiry,) with regard to knowledge and virtue, wherein, according to the most authentic accounts, mankind have been from the earliest times? We have no authentic account of the state of mankind in the times antecedent to the deluge, but in the writings of Moses. What then, according to these, was the state of mankind in those times? Moses gives us an exact and full account: God then “saw that the wickedness of man was great, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” ( Genesis 6:5,12,13.) And this was not the case of only part of mankind; but “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth:” And accordingly God said, “The end of all flesh is come, for the earth is filled with violence through them.” Only Noah was “righteous before God.” ( Genesis 7:1.)
Therefore only he and his household were spared, when God “brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly,” and destroyed them all from the face of the earth. “Let us examine the most distinguishing features in this draught.
Not barely the works of their hands, or the works of their tongue, but ‘every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was evil.’
The contagion had spread itself through the inner man; had tainted the seat of their principles, and the source of their actions. But was there not some mixture of good? No; they were only evil: Not so much as a little leaven of piety, unless in one single family. But were there no lucid intervals; no happy moments wherein virtue gained the ascendancy? None; every imagination, every thought was only evil continually.” f32 2. Such was the state of mankind for at least sixteen hundred years. Men were corrupting themselves and each other, and proceeding from one degree of wickedness to another, till they were all (save eight persons) ripe for destruction. So deplorable was the state of the moral world, while the natural was in its highest perfection. And yet it is highly probable, that the inhabitants of the earth were then abundantly more numerous than ever they have been since, considering the length of their lives, falling little short of a thousand years, and the strength and vigour of their bodies, which we may easily gather from the time they were to continue; to say nothing of the fertility of the earth, probably far greater than it is at present. Consequently, it was then capable of sustaining such a number of inhabitants as could not now subsist on the produce of it. 3. Let us next take a view of the “families of the sons of Noah,” the inhabitants of the earth after the flood. The first remarkable incident we read concerning them is, that while “they were all of one language, they said one to another, Let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” It is not easy to determine what were the peculiar aggravations which attended this attempt. But it is certain, there was daring wickedness therein, which brought upon them the very thing they feared; for “the Lord,” by “confounding their language,” (not their religious worship: Can we suppose God would confound this?) “scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” ( Genesis 11:4,9.) Now, whatever particulars in this account may be variously interpreted, thus much is clear and undeniable, — that all these, that is, all the inhabitants of the earth, had again “corrupted their way;” the universal wickedness being legible in the universal punishment. 4. We have no account of their reforming their ways, of any universal or general repentance, before God separated Abraham to himself, to be the father of his chosen people. ( Genesis 12:1,2.) Nor is there any reason to believe, that the rest of mankind were improved either in wisdom or virtue, when “Lot and Abraham separated themselves, and Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom.” ( Genesis 13:11,12.) Of those among whom he dwelt it is particularly remarked, “The men of Sodom” (and of all “the cities of the plain”) “were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly;” ( Genesis 13:13;) so that not even “ten righteous persons” could be found among them: The consequence of which was, that “the Lord rained upon them brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” ( Genesis 19:24.) 5. We have no ground to suppose that the other inhabitants of the earth (Abraham, with his family and descendants, excepted) had either the knowledge or the fear of God, from that time till Jacob “went into Egypt.”
This was then, as well as for several ages after, the great seat of learning; insomuch that “the wisdom of the Egyptians” was celebrated even to a proverb. And indeed for this end, as well as “to save much people alive,” ( Genesis 50:20,) did “God send Joseph into Egypt,” even “to inform their Princes after his will, and to teach their Senators wisdom.” And yet not long after his death, as their King “knew not Joseph,” so his people knew not God. Yea, they set him at defiance: They and their King provoked him more and more, and “hardened their hearts” against him; even after they had “seen his wonders in Egypt,” after they had groaned under his repeated vengeance. They still added sin to sin, till they constrained the Lord to destroy them with an utter destruction; till the divided “waters returned, and covered the chariots and horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh.” 6. Nor were the other nations who then inhabited the earth, any better than the Egyptians; the true knowledge and spiritual worship of God being confined to the descendants of Abraham. “He had not dealt so with other nations, neither had the heathens knowledge of his laws.” ( <19e720> Psalm 147:20.) And in what state were the Israelites themselves? How did they worship the God of their fathers? Why, even these were; “a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their heart aright. They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law. They provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea;” ( Psalm 78:8,10; <19a607> 106:7; Exodus 14:11,12;) the very place where he had so signally delivered them. “They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image,” ( Psalm 56:19,) where they had heard the Lord, but a little before, saying, out of the midst of the fire, “Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them.” And how amazing was their behavior during those whole forty years that they sojourned in the wilderness! even while he “led them in the daytime with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire!” ( Psalm 78:14.) Such were the knowledge and virtue of God’s peculiar people, (certainly the most knowing and virtuous nation which was then to be found upon the face of the earth,) till God brought them into the land of Canaan; — considerably more than two thousand years from the creation of the world.
None, I presume, will say there was any other nation at that time more knowing and more virtuous than the Israelites. None can say this while he professes to believe, according to the scriptural account, that Israel was then under a theocracy, under the immediate government of God; that he conversed with their subordinate governor “face to face, as a man talketh with his friend;” and that God was daily, through him, conveying such instructions to them as they were capable of receiving. 7. Shall we turn our eyes for a moment from the scriptural to the profane account of mankind in the earliest ages? What was the general sentiment of the most polite and knowing nation, the Romans, when their learning was in its utmost perfection? Let one, who certainly was no bigot or enthusiast, speak for the rest. And he speaks home to the point: — Nam fuit ante Helenam cunnus teterrima belli Causa; sed ignotis perierunt mortibus omnes Quos venerem incertam rapientes more ferarum, Viribus editior caedebat, ut in grege taurus. “Full many a war has been for women waged Ere half the world in Helen’s cause engaged; But, unrecorded in historic verse, Obscurely died those savage ravishers, Who like brute beasts the female bore away, Till some superior brute re-seized the prey:
A wild bull, his rival bull o’erthrown, Claims the whole subject herd, and reigns alone.” I doubt he who gives this, not as his peculiar opinion, but as what was then a generally-received notion, would scarce have allowed even so much as Juvenal, — Pudicitiam Saturno rege moratam In terris “Chastity did once, I grant, remain On earth, and flourish’d in old Saturn’s reign:” Unless one should suppose the reign of Saturn to have expired when Adam was driven out of Paradise.
I cannot forbear adding another picture of the ancient dignity of human nature, drawn by the same masterly hand. Before men dwelt in cities, he says, this Turpe pecus, glandem atque cibilia propter, Unguibus et pugnis, dein fustibus, atque ita porro Pugnabant armis, quae post fabricaverat usus. “The human herd, unbroken and untaught, For acorns first, and grassy couches fought; With fists, and then with clubs maintain’d the fray, Till, urged by hate, they found a quicker way, And forged pernicious arms, and learn’d the art to slay.
What a difference is there between this and the gay, florid accounts which many moderns give of their own species! 8. But to return to more authentic accounts: At the time when God brought the Israelites into Canaan, in what state were the rest of mankind?
Doubtless in nearly the same with the Canaanites, with the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and the rest of the seven nations. But the wickedness of these, we know, was full; they were corrupt in the highest degree. All manner of vice, all ungodliness and unrighteousness, reigned among them without control; and therefore the wise and just Governor of the world gave them up to a swift and total destruction. 9. Of Israel, indeed, we read, that they “served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the Elders that overlived Joshua.” ( Joshua 24:31.) And yet even at that time they did not serve Him alone; they were not free from gross idolatry; otherwise, there had been no need of his giving them that exhortation a little before his death: “Now, therefore, put away the strange gods which are among you,” the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river Jordan. (Verse 23.) What gods these were, we learn by the words of Amos, cited by St. Stephen: “O ye house of Israel, have ye offered sacrifices to me by the space of forty years? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your God Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them.” ( Acts 7:42,43.) 10. The sacred history of what occurred within a short space after the death of Joshua, for some hundred years, even until the time that Samuel judged Israel, gives us a large account of their astonishing wickedness during almost that whole period. It is true, just “when God smote them, then they sought him; they returned, and inquired after God.” Yet “their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant.” ( Psalm 78:34,37.) And we find little alteration among them for the better in the succeeding ages; insomuch that, in the reign of Ahab, about nine hundred years before Christ, there were only “seven thousand left in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal.” ( 1 Kings 19:18.) What manner of men they were for the next three hundred years, we may learn from the books of the Kings, and from the Prophets; whence it fully appears that, except a few short intervals, they were given up to all manner of abominations; by reason of which the name of the Most High was the more abundantly blasphemed among the Heathens. And this continued, until their open rebellion against God brought upon the whole nation of the Jews (a hundred and thirty-four years after the captivity of the ten tribes, and about six hundred before Christ) those terrible and long-deserved calamities which made them a spectacle to all that were round about them. The writings of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah, leave us no room to think that they were reformed by those calamities. Nor was there any lasting reformation in the time of Ezra, or of Nehemiah and Malachi; but they were still, as their forefathers had been, “a faithless and stubborn generation.” Such were they likewise, as we may gather from the books of Maccabees and Josephus, to the very time when Christ came into the world. 11. Our blessed Lord has given us a large description of those who were then the most eminent for religion: “Ye devour,” says he, “widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Ye make” your proselytes “twofold more the children of hell than yourselves. Ye neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. Ye make clean the outside of the cup, but within are full of extortion and excess. Ye are like whited sepulchers, outwardly beautiful, but within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell!” ( Matthew 23:14, etc.) And to these very men, after they had murdered the Just One, his faithful follower declared, “Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” ( Acts 7:51) And so they continued to do, until the wrath of God did indeed “come upon them to the uttermost;” until eleven hundred thousand of them were destroyed, their city and temple leveled with the dust, and above ninety thousand sold for slaves, and scattered into all lands. 12. Such in all generations were the lineal children of Abraham, who had so unspeakable advantages over the rest of mankind; “to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and this giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises:” Among whom, therefore, we may reasonably expect to find the greatest eminence of knowledge and virtue. If these then were so stupidly, brutishly ignorant, so desperately wicked, what can we expect from the heathen world, from them who had not the knowledge either of his law or promises? Certainly we cannot expect to find more goodness among them. But let us make the fair and impartial inquiry; and that not among wild and barbarous nations, but the most civilized and refined. What then were the ancient Romans? the people whose virtue is so highly extolled, and so warmly commended to our imitation? We have their character given by one who cannot deceive or be deceived, — the unerring Spirit of God. And what account does he give of these best of men, these heroes of antiquity? “When they knew God,” says he, at least as to his eternity and power, (both implied in that appellation, which occurs more than once in their own poet, Pater omnipotens, “Almighty Father,”) “they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.” ( Romans 1:21, etc.) So far from it that one of their oracles of wisdom (though once he stumbled on that great truth, Nemo unquam vir magnus sine afflatu divino fuit, — “There never was any great man without the afflatus or inspiration of God; “yet, almost in the same breath) does not scruple to ask, Quis pro virtute aut sapientia gratias diis dedit unquam? “Who ever thanked God for virtue or wisdom?” No, why should he? since these are “his own acquisition, the pure result of his own industry.” Accordingly another virtuous Roman has left it on record, as an unquestioned maxim, — Haec satis est orare Jovem, quae donat et aufert:
Det vitam, det opes; aequum mi animum ipse parabo. “Enough for common benefits to pray, Which Jove can either give or take away:
Long life or wealth his bounty may bestow; Wisdom and virtue to myself I owe.” So “vain” were they become “in their imaginations!” So were their “foolish hearts darkened!” ( Romans 1:21, etc.) 13. But this was only the first step: They did not stop here. “Professing themselves wise,” they yet sunk into such gross, astonishing folly, as to “change the glory of the incorruptible God” (whom they might have known, even from their own writers, to be Vastam Mens agitans molem, et magno se corpore miscens, — “That all-informing soul That fills the mighty mass, and moves the whole”) “into an image made like to corruptible man; yea, to birds, to beasts, to creeping things!” What wonder was it then, that, after they had thus “changed his glory into an image, God gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves?” How justly, when they had “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator,” did he “for this cause,” punishing sin by sin, “give them up unto vile affections! For even the women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.” Yea, the modest, honorable Roman matrons (so little were they ashamed!) wore their priapi openly on their breasts. “And likewise the men burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly.” What an amazing testimony of this is left us on record, even by the most modest of all the Roman poets! Formosum pastor Corydon ardebat Alexim!
How does this pattern of heathen chastity avow, without either fear or shame, as if it were an innocent, at least, if not laudable, passion, their “burning in lust one toward another!” And did men of the finest taste in the nation censure the song, or the subject of it? We read nothing of this; on the contrary, the universal honor and esteem paid to the writer, and that by persons of the highest rank, plainly shows that the case of Corydon, as it was not uncommon in any part of the Roman dominions, so it was not conceived to be any blemish, either to him or his master, but an innocent infirmity.
Meantime, how delicate an idea of love had this favorite of Rome and of the Muses! Hear him explaining himself a little more fully on this tender point: — Eheu! quam pingui macer est mihi taurus in agro!
Idem amor exitium est pecori, pecorisque magistro.
Idem amor ! The same love in the bull and in the man! What elegance of sentiment! Is it possible anything can exceed this? One would imagine nothing could, had not the same chaste poet furnished us with yet another scene, more abundantly shocking than this: — Pasiphaen nivei solatur amore juvenci! “He comforts Pasiphae with the love of her milk-white bull!” Nihil supra!
The condoling a woman on her unsuccessful amour with a bull shows a brutality which nothing can exceed! How justly then does the Apostle add, “as they did not like,” or desire, “to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to an undiscerning mind, to do those things which are not convenient!” In consequence of this, they were “filled with all unrighteousness,” vice of every kind, and in every degree; — in particular “with fornication,” (taking the word in its largest sense, as including every sin of the kind,) “with wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, with envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity;” — being “haters of God,” the true God, the God of Israel, to whom they allowed no place among all their herd of deities; — “despiteful, proud, boasters,” in as eminent a degree as ever was any nation under heaven; — “inventors of evil things,” in great abundance, of mille nocendi artes, both in peace and war; — “disobedient to parents,” — although duty to these is supposed to be inscribed on the hearts of the most barbarous nations; — “covenant-breakers,” — even of those of the most solemn kind, those wherein the public faith was engaged by their supreme Magistrate; which, notwithstanding, they made no manner of scruple of breaking, whenever they saw good; only coloring over their perfidiousness, by giving those Magistrates into their hands with whom the “covenant” was made. And what was this to the purpose? Is the King of France, or the republic of Holland, at liberty to violate their most solemn treaties at pleasure, provided they give up to the King of England the Ambassador, or General, by whom that treaty was made? What would all Europe have said of the late Czar, if, instead of punctually performing the engagements made with the Porte when in his distress, he had only given up the persons by whom he transacted, and immediately broke through them all? There is therefore no room to say, Modo Punica scripta supersint, Non minus infamis forte Latina fides. “Perhaps if the Carthaginian writings were extant, Roman faith would be as infamous as Punic.” We need them not. In vain have they destroyed the Carthaginian writings; for their own sufficiently testify of them; and fully prove that in perfidy the natives of Carthage could not exceed the senate and people of Rome. 14. They were as a nation astorgoi, void of natural affection even to their own bowels. Witness the universal custom which obtained for several ages in Rome, and all its dependencies, (as it had done before through all the cities of Greece,) when in their highest repute for wisdom and virtue, of exposing their own new-born children, more or fewer of them, as every man pleased, when he had as many as he thought good to keep; throwing them out to perish by cold and hunger, unless some more merciful wild beast shortened their pain, and provided them a sepulcher. Nor do I remember a single Greek, or Roman, of all those that occasionally mention it, ever complaining of this diabolical custom, or fixing the least touch of blame upon it. Even the tender mother in Terence, who had some compassion for her helpless infant, does not dare to acknowledge it to her husband, without that remarkable preface, Ut misere superstitiosae sumus omnes ; “As we women are all miserably superstitious.” 15. I would desire those gentlemen who are so very severe upon the Israelites for killing the children of the Canaanites, at their entrance into the land of Canaan, to spend a few thoughts on this. Not to insist, that the Creator is the absolute Lord and Proprietor of the lives of all his creatures; that, as such, he may at any time, without the least injustice, take away the life which he has given; that he may do this in whatsoever manner, and by whatever instruments, he pleases; and consequently may indict death on any creature by whom he pleases, without any blame either to him or them; — not to insist, I say, on this, or many other things which might be offered, let us at present fix on this single consideration: The Israelites destroyed the children for some weeks or months; the Greeks and Romans for above a thousand years. The one put them out of their pain at once, doubtless by the shortest and easiest way; the others were not so compassionate as to cut their throats, but left them to pine away by a lingering death. Above all, the Hebrews destroyed only the children of their enemies; the Romans destroyed their own. O fair pattern indeed!
Where shall we find a parallel to this virtue? I read of a modern, who took up a child that fell from its mother’s womb, and threw it back into the flames. (Pure, genuine human nature!) And reason good, — for it was the child of a heretic. But what evil, ye worthies of ancient Rome, did ye find in your own children? I must still say, this is without a parallel even in the Papal history. 16. They were implacable, unmerciful. Witness (one or two instances of ten thousand) poor grayheaded Hannibal, (whom, very probably, had we any other accounts of him than those which were given by his bitterest enemies, we should have reverenced as one of the most amiable of men, as well as the most valiant of all the ancient heathens,) hunted from nation to nation, and never quitted, till he fell by his own hand. Witness the famous suffrage, Delenda est Carthago ; “Let Carthage be destroyed.” Why? It was imperii aemula ; “the rival of the Roman glory.” These were open, undeniable evidences of the public, national placability and mercy of the Romans. Need instances of a more private nature be added? Behold, then, one for all, in that glory of Rome, that prodigy of virtue, the great, the celebrated Cato. Cato the Elder, when any of his domestics had worn themselves out in his service, and grew decrepit with age, constantly turned them out to starve, and was much applauded for his frugality in so doing. But what mercy was this? Just such as that which dwelt in Cato of Utica, who repaid the tenderness of his servant endeavoring to save his life, to prevent his tearing open his wound, by striking him on the face with such violence as to fill his mouth with blood. These are thy gods, O Deism! These the patterns so zealously recommended to our imitation! 17. And what was the real character of that hero, whom Cato himself so admired? whose cause he espoused with such eagerness, with such unwearied diligence? of Pompey the Great? Surely never did any man purchase that title at so cheap a rate! What made him great? The villainy of Perpenna, and the treachery of Pharnaces. Had not the one murdered his friend, the other rebelled against his father, where had been Pompey’s greatness? So this stalking horse of a party procured his reputation in the commonwealth. And when it was procured, how did he use it? Let his own poet Lucan speak: Nec quenquam jam ferre potest Caesarve priorem, Pompeiusve parem. “Nor Caesar could to a superior look; Nor patriot Pompey could an equal brook.” He would bear no equal! And this a senator of Rome! Nay, the grand patron of the republic! But what a republican himself, when this principle was the spring of all his designs and actions! Indeed, a less amiable character it is not easy to find among all the great men of antiquity; ambitious, vain, haughty, surly and overbearing, beyond the common rate of men. And what virtue had he to balance these faults? I can scarce find one, even in Lucan’s account: It does not appear that in the latter part of his life he had even military virtues. What proof did he give of personal courage, in all his war with Caesar? what instances of eminent conduct?
None at all, if we may credit his friend Cicero; who complains heavily to Atticus, that he acted like a madman, and would ruin the cause he had undertaken to defend. 18. Let none therefore look for placability or mercy in Pompey. But was there any unmercifulness in Caesar? “Who than Julius hopes to rise More brave, more generous, or more wise?” Of his courage and sense there can be no doubt. And much may be said with regard to his contest with Pompey, even for the justice of his cause; for with him he certainly fought for life, rather than glory; of which he had the strongest conviction (though he was ashamed to own it) when he passed the Rubicon. Nor can it be doubted but he was often merciful. It is no proof to the contrary that he rode up and down his ranks during the battle of Pharsalia, and cried to those who were engaged with the pretty gentlemen of Pompey’s army, Miles, faciem feri, “Soldiers, strike at the face;” for this greatly shortened the dispute with those who were more afraid of losing their beauty than their lives, and so prevented the effusion of much blood. But I cannot get over (to say nothing of the myriads of common Gauls whom he destroyed) a short sentence in his own Commentaries: Vercingetorix per tormenta necatus . Who was this Vercingetorix? As brave a man, and (considering his years) as great a General, as even Caesar. What was his crime? The love of his parents, wife, children, country; and sacrificing all things in the defense of them.
And how did Caesar treat him on this account? “He tortured him to death.” O Roman mercy! Did not Brutus and Cassius avenge Vercingetorix rather than Pompey? How well was Rome represented in the prophetical vision by that beast “dreadful and terrible,” which had “great iron teeth, and devoured, and broke in pieces, and stamped under his feet,” all other kingdoms!
1. Such is the state with regard to knowledge and virtue, wherein, according to the most authentic accounts, mankind was from earliest times, for above four thousand years. Such nearly did it continue, during the decline, and since the destruction, of the Roman empire. But we will wave all that is past, if it only appears that mankind is virtuous and wise at this day. This, then, is the point we are at present to consider: Are men in general now wise and virtuous?
Our ingenious countryman, Mr. Brerewood, after his most careful and laborious inquiries, computes, that, supposing that part of the earth which we know to be inhabited were divided into thirty equal parts, nineteen of these are Heathen still; and of the remaining eleven, six are Mahometan, and only five Christian. Let us take as fair and impartial a survey as we can of the Heathens first, and then of the Mahometans and Christians. 2. And, First, of the Heathens. What manner of men are these, as to virtue and knowledge, at this day? Many of late, who still bear the Christian name, have entertained very honorable thoughts of the old Heathens. They cannot believe them to have been so stupid and senseless as they have been represented to be; particularly with regard to idolatry, in worshipping birds, beasts, and creeping things; much less can they credit the stories told of many nations, the Egyptians in particular, Who are said to Have set the leek they after pray’d to.
But if they do not consider who they are that transmit to us these accounts, namely, both those writers who, they profess to believe, spake “as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” and those whom perhaps they value more, the most credible of their contemporary Heathens; if, I say, they forget this, do they not consider the present state of the heathen world? Now, allowing the bulk of the ancient Heathens (which itself is not easily proved) to have had as much understanding as the modern, we have no pretense to suppose they had more. What therefore they were, we may safely gather from what they are; we may judge of the past by the present.
Would we know, then, (to begin with a part of the world known to very early antiquity,) what manner of men the heathens in Africa were two or three thousand years ago? Inquire what they are now, who are genuine Pagans still, not tainted either with Mahometanism or Christianity. They are to be found in abundance, either in Negroland, or round the Cape of Good Hope. Now, what measure of knowledge have the natives of these countries? I do not say in metaphysics, mathematics, or astronomy. Of these it is plain they know just as much as their four-footed brethren; the lion and the man are equally accomplished with regard to this knowledge. I will not ask what they know of the nature of government, of the respective rights of Kings and various orders of subjects: In this regard, a herd of men are manifestly inferior to a herd of elephants. But let us view them with respect to common life. What do they know of the things they continually stand in need of? How do they build habitations for themselves and their families; how select and prepare their food; clothe and adorn their persons? As to their habitations, it is certain, I will not say, our horses, (particularly those belonging to the Nobility and Gentry,) but an English peasant’s dogs, nay, his very swine, are more commodiously lodged; and as to their food, apparel, and ornaments, they are just suitable to their edifices: Your nicer Hottentots think meet With guts and tripe to deck their feet.
Such is the knowledge of these accomplished animals, in things which cannot but daily employ their thoughts; and wherein, consequently, they cannot avoid exerting, to the uttermost, both their natural and acquired understanding.
And what are their present attainments in virtue? Are they not, one and all, “without God in the world?” having either no knowledge of him at all; no conception of anything he has to do with them, or they with him; or such conceptions as are far worse than none, as make him such a one as themselves. And what are their social virtues? What are their dispositions and behavior between man and man? Are they eminent for justice, for mercy, or truth? As to mercy, they know not what it means, being continually cutting each other’s throats, from generation to generation, and selling for slaves as many of those who fall into their hands, as on that consideration only they do not murder. Justice they have none; no courts of justice at all; no public method of redressing wrong; but every man does what is right in his own eyes, till a stronger than he beats out his brains for so doing. And they have just as much regard to truth; cozening, cheating, and over-reaching every man that believes a word they say. Such are the moral, such the intellectual perfections, according to the latest and most accurate accounts, of the present heathens, who are diffused in great numbers over a fourth part of the known world! 3. It is true, that in the new world, in America, they seem to breathe a purer air, and to be in general men of a stronger understanding, and a less savage temper. Among these, then, we may surely find higher degrees of knowledge as well as virtue. But in order to form a just conception of them, we must not take our account from their enemies; from any that would justify themselves by blackening those whom they seek to destroy.
No; but let us inquire of more impartial judges, concerning those whom they have personally known, the Indians bordering upon our own settlements, from New-England down to Georgia.
We cannot learn that there is any great difference, in point of knowledge, between any of these, from east to west, or from north to south. They are all equally unacquainted with European learning, being total strangers to every branch of literature, having not the least conception of any part of philosophy, speculative or practical. Neither have they (whatever accounts some have given) any such thing as a regular civil government among them. They have no laws of any kind, unless a few temporary rules made in and for the time of war. They are likewise utter strangers to the arts of peace, having scarce any such thing as an artificer in a nation. They know nothing of building; having only poor, miserable, ill-contrived huts, far inferior to many English dog kennels. Their clothing, till of late, was only skins of beasts, commonly of deer, hanging down before and behind them. Now, among those who have commerce with our nation, it is frequently a blanket wrapped about them. Their food is equally delicate, — pounded Indian corn, sometimes mixed with water, and so eaten at once; sometimes kneaded into cakes, meal and bran together, and half baked upon the coals. Fish or flesh, dried in the sun, is frequently added to this; and now and then a piece of tough, fresh-killed deer.
Such is the knowledge of the Americans, whether in things of an abstruser nature, or in the affairs of common life. And this, so far as we can learn, is the condition of all, without any considerable difference. But, in point of religion, there is a very material difference between the northern and the southern Indians: Those in the north are idolaters of the lowest kind. If they do not worship the devil appearing in person, (which many firmly believe they do, many think incredible,) certainly they worship the most vile and contemptible idols. It were more excusable if they only “turned the glory of the incorruptible God into the image of corruptible man;” yea, or “of birds, or four footed beasts, or reptiles,” or any creature which God has made. But their idols are more horrid and deformed than anything in the visible creation; and their whole worship is at once the highest affront to the divine, and disgrace to the human, nature.
On the contrary, the Indians of our southern provinces do not appear to have any worship at all. By the most diligent inquiry from those who had spent many years among them, I could never learn that any of the Indian nations who border on Georgia and Carolina have any public worship of any kind, nor any private; for they have no idea of prayer. It is not without much difficulty that one can make any of them understand what is meant by prayer; and when they do, they cannot be made to apprehend that God will answer or even hear it. They say, “He that sitteth in heaven is too high; he is too far off to hear us.” In consequence of which they leave him to himself, and manage their affairs without him. Only the Chicasaws, of all the Indian nations, are an exception to this.
I believe it will be found, on the strictest inquiry, that the whole body of southern Indians, as they have no letters and no laws, so, properly speaking, have no religion at all; so that every one does what he sees good; and if it appears wrong to his neighbor, he usually comes upon him unawares, and shoots or scalps him alive. They are likewise all (I could never find any exception) gluttons, drunkards, thieves, dissemblers, liars.
They are implacable ; never forgiving an injury or affront, or being satisfied with less than blood. They are unmerciful; killing all whom they take prisoners in war, with the most exquisite tortures. They are murderers of fathers, murderers of mothers, murderers of their own children; it being a common thing for a son to shoot his father or mother because they are old and past labor; and for a woman either to procure abortion, or to throw her child into the next river, because she will go to the war with her husband.
Indeed, husbands, properly speaking, they have none; for any man leaves his wife, so called, at pleasure; who frequently, in return, cuts the throats of all the children she has had by him.
The Chicasaws alone seem to have some notion of an intercourse between man and a superior Being. They speak much of their beloved ones; with whom they say they converse both day and night. But their beloved ones teach them to eat and drink from morning to night, and, in a manner, from night to morning; for they rise at any hour of the night when they wake, and eat and drink as much as they can, and sleep again. Their beloved ones likewise expressly command them to torture and burn all their prisoners.
Their manner of doing it is this: They hold lighted canes to their arms and legs, and several parts of their body, for some time, and then for a while take them away. They also stick burning pieces of wood in their flesh; in which condition they keep them from morning to evening. Such are at present the knowledge and virtue of the native heathens, over another fourth of the known world. 4. In Asia, however, we are informed that the case is widely different. For although the heathens bordering on Europe, the thousands and myriads of Tartars, have not much to boast either as to knowledge or virtue; and although the numerous little nations under the Mogul, who retain their original heathenism, are nearly on a level with them, as are the inhabitants of the many large and populous islands in the eastern seas; yet we hear high encomiums of the Chinese, who are as numerous as all these together; some late travelers assuring us, that China alone has fifty-eight million of inhabitants. Now, these have been described as men of the deepest penetration, the highest learning, and the strictest integrity; and such doubtless they are, at least with regard to their understanding, if we will believe their own proverb: “The Chinese have two eyes, the Europeans one, and other men none at all.”
And one circumstance, it must be owned, is much in their favor, — they live some thousand miles off; so that if it were affirmed, that every Chinese had literally three eyes, it would be difficult for us to disprove it.
Nevertheless, there is room to doubt even of their understanding; nay, one of the arguments often brought to prove the greatness, to me clearly demonstrates the littleness, of it; namely, the thirty thousand letters of their alphabet. To keep an alphabet of thirty hundred letters could never be reconciled to common sense; since every alphabet ought to be as short, simple, and easy as possible. No more can we reconcile to any degree of common sense, their crippling all the women in the empire, by a silly, senseless affectation of squeezing their feet till they bear no proportion to their bodies; so that the feet of a woman at thirty must still be as small as they would be naturally when four years old. But in order to see the true measure of their understanding, in the clearest light, let us look, not at women, or the vulgar, but at the nobility, the wisest, the politest part of the nation. Look at the Mandarins, the glory of the empire, and see any, every one of them at his meals, not deigning to use his own hands, but having his meat put into his mouth by two servants, planted for that purpose, one on his right hand, the other on his left! O the deep understanding of the noble lubber that sits in the midst, and Hiat, ceu pullus hirundinis! “Gapes, as the young swallow, for his food.” Surely an English ploughman, or a Dutch sailor, would have too much sense to endure it. If you say, “Nay, the Mandarin would not endure it, but that it is a custom ;” I answer, Undoubtedly it is; but how came it to be a custom? Such a custom could not have begun, much less have become general, but through a general and marvellous want of common sense.
What their learning is now, I know not; but notwithstanding their boast of its antiquity, it was certainly very low and contemptible in the last century, when they were so astonished at the skill of the French Jesuits, and honored them as almost more than human, for calculating eclipses!
And whatever progress they may have made since, in the knowledge of astronomy, and other curious, rather than useful, sciences, it is certain they are still utterly ignorant of what it most of all concerns them to know: They know not God, any more than the Hottentots; they are all idolaters to a man; and so tenacious are they of their national idolatry, that even those whom the French Missionaries called converts, yet continued one and all to worship Confucius and the souls of their ancestors. It is true, that when this was strongly represented at Rome by an honest Dominican who came from thence, a Bull was issued out and sent over into China, forbidding, them to do it any longer. But the good Fathers kept it privately among themselves, saying, the Chinese were not able to bear it.
Such is their religion with respect to God. But are they not eminent for all social virtues, all that have place between man and man? Yes, according to the accounts which some have given. According to these, they are the glory of mankind, and may be a pattern to all Europe. But have not we some reason to doubt if these accounts are true? Are pride and laziness good ingredients of social virtue? And can all Europe equal either the laziness or pride of the Chinese Nobility and Gentry, who are too stately or too indolent even to put the meat into their own mouths? Yet they are not too proud or too indolent to oppress, to rob, to defraud, all that fall into their hands. How flagrant instances of this may any one find even in the account of Lord Anson’s voyage! exactly agreeing with the accounts given by all our countrymen who have traded in any part of China; as well as with the observation made by a late writer in his “Geographical Grammar:” “Trade and commerce, or rather, cheating and over-reaching,” is the natural bent and genius of the Chinese. Gain is their God; they prefer this to everything besides. A stranger is in great danger of being cheated, if he trusts to his own judgment; and if he employs a Chinese broker, it is well if he does not join with the merchant to cheat the stranger. “Their laws oblige them to certain rules of civility in their words and actions; and they are naturally a fawning, cringing generation; but the greatest hypocrites on the face of the earth.” 5. Such is the boasted virtue of those who are, beyond all degrees of comparison, the best and wisest of all the heathens in Asia. And how little preferable to them are those in Europe! rather, how many degrees beneath them! Vast numbers of these are within the borders of Muscovy; but how amazingly ignorant! How totally void both of civil and sacred wisdom!
How shockingly savage, both in their tempers and manners! Their idolatry is of the basest and vilest kind. They not only worship the work of their own hands; but idols of the most horrid and detestable forms that men or devils could devise. Equally savage, (or more so, if more can be,) as is well known, are the natives of Lapland; and, indeed, of all the countries which have been discovered to the north of Muscovy or Sweden. In truth, the bulk of these nations seem to be considerably more barbarous, not only than the men near the Cape of Good Hope, but than many tribes in the brute creation.
Thus have we seen what is the present state of the heathens in every part of the known world; and these still make up, according, to the preceding calculation, very near two-thirds of mankind. Let us now calmly and impartially consider what manner of men the Mahometans in general are. 6. An ingenious writer, who, a few years ago, published a pompous translation of the Koran, takes great pains to give us a very favorable opinion both of Mahomet and his followers; but; he cannot wash the Ethiop white. After all, men who have but a moderate share of reason cannot but observe in his Koran, even as polished by Mr. Sale, the most gross and impious absurdities. To cite particulars is not now my business:
It may suffice to observe, in general, that human understanding must be debased, to an inconceivable degree, in those who can swallow such absurdities as divinely revealed. And yet we know the Mahometans not only condemn all who cannot swallow them to everlasting fire, — not only appropriate to themselves the title of Mussulmen, or True Believers, — but; even anathematize, with the utmost bitterness, and adjudge to eternal destruction, all their brethren of the sect of Hali, all who contend for a figurative interpretation of them.
That these men, then, have no knowledge or love of God is undeniably manifest, not only from their gross horrible notions of him, but from their not loving their brethren. But they have not always so weighty a cause to hate and murder one another as difference of opinion. Mahometans will butcher each other by thousands, without so plausible a plea as this. Why is it that such numbers of Turks and Persians have stabbed one another in cool blood? Truly, because they differ in the manner of dressing their head.
The Ottoman vehemently maintains, (for he has unquestionable tradition on his side,) that a Mussulman should wear a round turban; whereas the Persian insists upon his liberty of conscience, and will wear it picked before. So, for this wonderful reason, when a more plausible one is wanting, they beat out each other’s brains from generation to generation!
It is not therefore strange that, ever since the religion of Mahomet appeared in the world, the espousers of it, particularly those under the Turkish Emperor, have been as wolves and tigers to all other nations, rending and tearing all that fell into their merciless paws, and grinding them with their iron teeth; that numberless cities are razed from the foundation, and only their name remaining; that many countries, which were once as the garden of God, are now a desolate wilderness; and that so many once numerous and powerful nations are vanished away from the earth! Such was, and is at this day, the rage, the fury, the revenge, of these destroyers of human kind. 7. Proceed are now to the Christian world. But we must not judge Christians in general from those who are scattered through the Turkish dominions, the Armenian, Georgian, Mengrelian Christians; nor indeed from any others of the Greek communion. The gross, barbarous ignorance, the deep, stupid superstition, the blind and bitter zeal, and the endless thirst after vain jangling and strife of words, which have reigned for many ages in the Greek Church, and well-nigh banished true religion from among them, make these scarce worthy of the Christian name, and lay an insuperable stumbling-block before the Mahometans. 8. Perhaps those of the Romish communion may say, “What wonder that this is the case with heretics? with those who have erred from the Catholic faith, nay, and left the pale of the Church?” But what is the case with them who have not left that Church, and who retain the Roman faith still? Yea, with the most zealous of all its patrons, the inhabitants of Italy, of Spain, and Portugal? Wherein do they excel the Greek Church, except in Italianism, received by tradition from their heathen fathers, and diffused through every city and village? They may, indeed, praise chastity, and rail at women as loudly as their forefather, Juvenal; but what is the moral of all this? — Nonne putas melius, quod tecum pusio dormit?
This, it must be acknowledged, is the glory of the Romish Church. Herein it does excel the Greek.
They excel it, likewise, in Deism. Perhaps there is no country in the world, at least in that part of it which bears the Christian name, wherein so large a proportion of the men of education are absolute Deists, if not Atheists, as Italy. And from hence the plague has spread far and wide; through France in particular. So that, did not temporal motives restrain, no small part of the French Nobility and Gentry would pay no more regard to the Christian Revelation, than do the Mandarins in China.
They excel still more in murder, both private and public. Instances of the former abound all over Italy, Spain, and Portugal; and the frequency of shedding blood has taken away all that horror which otherwise might attend it. Take one instance of a thousand: An English gentleman was, some years ago, at an entertainment in Brescia, when one who was near him whispered a few words in his ear, which he did not well understand.
He asked his host, “What did that gentleman mean by these words?” and was answered, “That he will murder you: And an Italian is never worse than his word in this. You have no way but to be beforehand with him.”
This he rejected with abhorrence. But his host, it seems, being not of so tender a conscience, sent a stranger to him in the morning, who said, “Sir, look out of your window; — I have done his business. There he lies. You will please to give me my pay.” He pulled out a handful of money, in great disorder, and cried, “There, take what you will.” The other replied, “Sir, I am a man of honor; I take only my pay;” took a small piece of silver, and retired.
This was a man of honor among the Christians of the Romish Church!
Such were two of the Catholic soldiers, under the famous Duke of Alva, who broke into the house of a poor countryman in Flanders, butchered him and his wife, with five or six children; and after they had finished their work, sat down to enjoy the fruit of their labor. But in the midst of their meal conscience awaked. One of them started up in great emotion, and cried out, “O Lord! what have I done? As I hope for salvation, I have eaten flesh in Lent!”
The same sort of conscience undoubtedly it was, which con- strained the late Most Christian King, in defiance of the most solemn treaties, yea, of all ties, divine and human, most graciously to murder so many thousands of his quiet, unresisting subjects; to order his dragoons, wherever they found the Protestants worshipping God, to fall in upon them, sword in hand, without any regard to sex or age. It was conscience, no question, which induced so many of the Dukes of Savoy, not with standing the public faith engaged over and over, to shed the blood of their loyal subjects, the Vaudois, like water, to ravage their fields, and destroy their cities. What but conscience could move the good Catholics of a neighboring kingdom, in the last century, to murder (according to their own account) two hundred and fifteen thousand Protestants in six months? A costly sacrifice this! What is a hecatomb, a hundred oxen, to two hundred thousand men? And yet what is even this to the whole number of victims who have been offered up in Europe since the beginning of the Reformation; partly by war, partly by the Inquisition, and a thousand other methods of Romish cruelty? No less, within forty years, if the computation of an eminent writer be just, than five-and-forty millions!
Such is the conscience, such the religion, of Romish Christians! Of their Inquisition (the House of Mercy, as it is most unfortunately called) I should give some account, but that it has been largely described by others.
Yet it may not be improper to give a specimen of that mercy which they show to those under their care. At the Act of Faith, so called, which was celebrated some years ago, when Dr. Geddes was in Portugal, a prisoner, who had been confined for nine years, was brought out to execution.
Looking up, and seeing, what he had not seen for so long a time, the sun in the midst of heaven, he cried out, “How can anyone, who sees that glorious creature, worship any but the God that made it?” The Father who attended immediately ordered a gag to be run through his lip, that he might speak no more.
See the Christians, who have received all the advantages of education, all the helps of modern and ancient learning! “Nay, but we have still greater helps than them. We are reformed from the errors of Popery; we protest against all those novel corruptions, with which the Church of Rome has polluted ancient Christianity. The enormities, therefore of Popish countries are not to be charged upon us: We are Protestants, and have nothing to do with the vices and villainies of Romish nations.” 9. Have we not? Are Protestant nations nothing concerned in those melancholy reflections of Mr. Cowley? — “If twenty thousand naked Americans were not able to resist the assaults of but twenty well-armed Spaniards, how is it possible for one honest man to defend himself against twenty thousand knaves, who are all furnished cap-a-pie with the defensive arms of worldly prudence, and the offensive too of craft and malice? He will find no less odds than this against him, if he have much to do in human affairs. Do you wonder, then, that a virtuous man should love to be alone? It is hard for him to be otherwise. He is so when he is among ten thousand. Nor is it so uncomfortable to be alone, without any other creature, as it is to be alone in the midst of wild beasts. Man is to man all kinds of beasts, a fawning dog, a roaring lion, a thieving fox, a robbing wolf, a dissembling crocodile, a treacherous decoy, and a rapacious vulture.
The civilest, methinks, of all nations, are those whom we account the most barbarous. There is some moderation and good nature in the Toupinambaltions, who eat no men but their enemies; while we learned and polite and Christian Europeans, like so many pikes and sharks, prey upon everything that we can swallow.”
Are Protestant nations nothing concerned in that humorous but terrible picture, drawn by a late eminent hand? — “He was perfectly astonished (and who would not, if it were the first time he had heard it?) at the historical account I gave him of our affairs during the last century; protesting it was only a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres; the very worst effects that avarice, faction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice, and ambition, could produce. Even in times of peace, how many innocent and excellent persons have been condemned to death or banishment, by great Ministers practicing upon the corruption of judges, and the malice of factions! How many villains have been exalted to the highest places of trust, power, dignity, and profit! By what methods have great numbers, in all countries, procured titles of honor and vast estates! Perjury, oppression, subornation, fraud, panderism, were some of the most excusable; for many owed their greatness to sodomy or incest; others, to the prostituting of their own wives or daughters; others, to the betraying of their country, or their Prince; more, to the perverting of justice to destroy the innocent.” Well might that keen author add, “If a creature pretending to reason can be guilty of such enormities, certainly the corruption of that faculty is far worse than brutality itself.”
Now, are Popish nations only concerned in this? Are the Protestants quite clear? Is there no such thing among them (to take one instance only) as “perverting of justice,” even in public courts of judicature? Can it not be said in any Protestant country, “There is a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving, according as they are paid, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white?
For example: If my neighbor has a mind to my cow, he hires a Lawyer to prove that he ought to have my cow from me. I must hire another to defend my right, it being against all rules of law that a man should speak for himself. In pleading, they do not dwell on the merits of the cause, but upon circumstances foreign thereto. For instance: They do not take the shortest method to know what title my adversary has to my cow; but whether the cow be red or black, her horns long or short; whether the field she grazes in be round or square, and the like. After which, they adjourn the cause from time to time; and in ten or twenty years’ time they come to an issue. This society, likewise, has a peculiar cant and jargon of their own, in which all their laws are written. And these they take special care to multiply; whereby they have so confounded truth and falsehood, right and wrong, that it will take twelve years to decide, whether the field, left me by my ancestors for six generations, belong to me or to one three hundred miles off.”
Is it in Popish countries only that it can be said, “It does not appear that any one perfection is required towards the procurement of any one station among you; much less, that men are ennobled on account of their virtue; that Priests are advanced for their piety or learning, Judges for their integrity, Senators for the love of their country, or Couselors for their wisdom?” 10. But there is a still greater and more undeniable proof that the very foundations of all things, civil and religious, are utterly out of course in the Christian as well as the heathen world. There is a still more horrid reproach to the Christian name, yea, to the name of man, to all reason and humanity. There is war in the world! war between men! war between Christians! I mean, between those that bear the name of Christ, and profess to “walk as He also walked.” Now, who can reconcile war, I will not say to religion, but to any degree of reason or common sense?
But is there not a cause? O yes: “The causes of war,” as the same writer observes, “are innumerable. Some of the chief are these: The ambition of Princes; or the corruption of their Ministers: Difference of opinion; as, whether flesh be bread, or bread be flesh; whether the juice of the grape be blood or wine; what is the best color for a coat, whether black, white, or gray; and whether it should be long or short, whether narrow or wide. Nor are there any wars so furious as those occasioned by such difference of opinions. “Sometimes two Princes make a war to decide which of them shall dispossess a third of his dominions. Sometimes a war is commenced, because another Prince is too strong; sometimes, because he is too weak. Sometimes our neighbors want the things which we have, or have the things which we want: So both fight, until they take ours, or we take theirs. It is a reason for invading a country, if the people have been wasted by famine, destroyed by pestilence, or embroiled by faction; or to attack our nearest ally, if part of his land would make our dominions more round and compact. “Another cause of making war is this: A crew are driven by a storm they know not where; at length they make the land and go ashore; they are entertained with kindness. They give the country a new name; set up a stone or rotten plank for a memorial; murder a dozen of the natives, and bring away a couple by force. Here commences a new right of dominion: Ships are sent, and the natives driven out or destroyed. And this is done to civilize and convert a barbarous and idolatrous people.”
But, whatever be the cause, let us calmly and impartially consider the thing itself. Here are forty thousand men gathered together on this plain.
What are they going to do? See, there are thirty or forty thousand more at a little distance. And these are going to shoot them through the head or body, to stab them, or split their skulls, and send most of their souls into everlasting fire, as fast as they possibly can. Why so? What harm have they done to them? O none at all! They do not so much as know them.
But a man, who is King of France, has a quarrel with another man, who is King of England. So these Frenchmen are to kill as many of these Englishmen as they can, to prove the King of France is in the right. Now, what an argument is this! What a method of proof! What an amazing way of deciding controversies! What must mankind be, before such a thing as war could ever be known or thought of upon earth? How shocking, how inconceivable a want must there have been of common understanding, as well as common humanity, before any two Governors, or any two nations in the universe, could once think of such a method of decision? If, then, all nations, Pagan, Mahometan, and Christian, do, in fact, make this their last resort, what farther proof do we need of the utter degeneracy of all nations from the plainest principles of reason and virtue? of the absolute want, both of common sense and common humanity, which runs through the whole race of mankind?
In how just and strong a light is this placed by the writer cited before! — “I gave him a description of cannons, muskets, pistols, swords, bayonets; of sieges, attacks, mines, countermines, bombardments; of engagements by sea and land; ships sunk with a thousand men, twenty thousand killed on each side, dying groans, limbs flying in the air; smoke, noise, trampling to death under horses’ feet, flight, pursuit, victory; fields strewed with carcasses, left for food to dogs and beasts of prey; and, farther, of plundering, stripping, ravishing, burning, and destroying. I assured him, I had seen a hundred enemies blown up at once in a siege, and as many in a ship, and beheld the dead bodies drop down in pieces from the clouds, to the great diversion of the spectators.”
Is it not astonishing, beyond all expression, that this is the naked truth? that, within a short term of years, this has been the real case in almost every part of even the Christian world? And meanwhile we gravely talk of the “dignity of our nature” in its present state! This is really surprising, and might easily drive even a well-tempered man to say, “One might bear with men, if they would be content with those vices and follies to which nature has entitled them. I am not provoked at the sight of a pickpocket, a gamester, a politician, a suborner, a traitor, or the like. This is all according to the natural course of things. But when I behold a lump of deformity and diseases, both in body and mind, smitten with pride, it breaks all the measures of my patience; neither shall I ever be able to comprehend how such an animal and such a vice can tally together.”
And surely all our declamations on the strength of human reason, and the eminence of our virtues, are no more than the cant and jargon of pride and ignorance, so long as there is such a thing as war in the world. Men in general can never be allowed to be reasonable creatures, till they know not war any more. So long as this monster stalks uncontrolled, where is reason, virtue, humanity? They are utterly excluded; they have no place; they are a name, and nothing more. If even a heathen were to give an account of an age wherein reason and virtue reigned, he would allow no war to have place therein. So Ovid of the golden age: — Nondum praecipites cingebant oppida fossae; Non galeae, non ensis erat. Sine militis usu Mollia securae peragebant otia gentes. “Steep ditches did not then the towns surround, Nor glittering helm, nor slaughtering sword was found; Nor arms had they to wield, nor wars to wage, But peace and safety crown’d the blissful age.” 11. How far is the world at present from this state! Yet, when we speak of the folly and wickedness of mankind, may we not except our own country, Great Britain and Ireland? In these we have such advantages for improvement, both in knowledge and virtue, as scarce any other nation enjoys. We are under an excellent constitution, which secures both our religious and civil liberty. We have religion taught in its primitive purity, its genuine, native simplicity. And how it prospers among us, we may know with great ease and certainty; for we depend not on hearsay, on the report of others, or on subtle and uncertain reasonings; but may see everything with our own eyes, and hear it with our own ears. Well, then, to make all the allowance possible, we will suppose mankind in general to be on a level, with regard to knowledge and virtue, even with the inhabitants of our fortunate islands; and take our measure of them from the present undeniable state of our own countrymen.
In order to take a thorough survey of these, let us begin with the lowest, and proceed upward. The bulk of the natives of Ireland are to be found in or near their little cabins throughout the kingdom, most of which are their own workmanship, consisting of four earthen walls, covered with straw, or sods, with one opening in the side wall, which serves at once for door, window, and chimney. Here, in one room, are the cow and pig, the woman with her children, and the master of the family. Now, what knowledge have these rational animals? They know to plant and boil their potatoes, to milk their cow, and put their clothes on and off, if they have any besides a blanket; but other knowledge they have none, unless is religion.
And how much do they know of this? A little more than the Hottentots, and not much. They know the names of God, and Christ, and the Virgin Mary. They know a little of St. Patrick, the Pope, and the Priest; how to tell their beads, to say Ave Maria and Pater Noster ; to do what penance they are bid, to hear mass, confess, and pay so much for the pardon of their sins . But as to the nature of religion, the life of God in the soul, they know no more (I will not say, than the Priest, but) that the beasts of the field.
And how very little above these are the numerous inhabitants of the northern parts of Scotland, or of the islands which lie either on the west or the north side of that kingdom! What knowledge have these, and what religion? Their religion usually lies in a single point, in implicitly believing the head of their clan, and implicitly doing what he bids. Meantime they are, one and all, as ignorant of rational, scriptural religion, as of Algebra; and altogether as far from the practice as from the theory of it. “But it is not so in England. The very lowest of the people are here better instructed.” I should be right glad to find it so; but I doubt a fair trial will show the contrary. I am afraid we may still say of thousands, myriads of peasants, men, women, and children, throughout our nation, — “Wild as the untaught Indian’s brook.
The Christian savages remain; Strangers, yea, enemies to God, The make thee spill thy blood in vain.” The generality of English peasants are not only grossly, stupidly, I had almost said, brutishly ignorant as to all the arts of this life, but eminently so with regard to religion and the life to come. Ask a countryman, What is faith? What is repentance? What is holiness? What is true religion? and he is no more able to give you an intelligible answer, than if you were to ask him about the northeast passage. Is there, then, any possibility that they should practice what they know nothing of? If religion is not even in their heads, can it be in their hearts or lives? It cannot. Nor is there the least savor thereof, either in their tempers or conversation. Neither in the one, nor the other, do they rise one jot above the pitch of a Turk or a heathen.
Perhaps it will be said, “Whatever the clowns in the midland counties are, the people near the sea-coasts are more civilized.” Yes, great numbers of them are, in and near all our ports; many thousands there are civilized by smuggling. The numbers concerned herein, upon all our coasts, are far greater than can be imagined. But what reason, and what religion, have these that trample on all laws, divine and human, by a course of thieving, or receiving stolen goods, of plundering their King and country? I say King and country; seeing, whatever is taken from the King, is in effect taken from the country, who are obliged to make up all deficiencies in the royal revenue. These are, therefore, general robbers. They rob you and me, and every one of their countrymen; seeing, had the King his due customs, a great part of our taxes might be spared. A smuggler, then, (and, in proportion, every seller or buyer of unaccustomed goods,) is a thief of the first order, a highwayman or pickpocket of the worst sort. Let not any of those prate about reason or religion. It is an amazing instance of human folly, that every government in Europe does not drive these vermin away into lands not inhabited.
We are all indebted to those detachments of the army which have cleared some of our coasts of these public nuisances; and indeed many of that body have, in several respects, deserved well of their country. Yet can we say of the soldiery in general, that they are men of reason and religion? I fear not. Are not the bulk of them void of almost all knowledge, divine and human? And is their virtue more eminent than their knowledge? But I spare them. May God be merciful to them! May he be glorified by their reformation, rather than their destruction!
Is there any more knowledge or virtue in that vast body of men, (some hundred thousands,) the English sailors? Surely no. It is not without cause, that a ship has been called, “a floating hell.” What power, what form, of religion is to be found in nine out of ten, shall I say, or ninety-nine out of a hundred, either of our merchant men, or men of war? What do the men in them think or know about religion? What do they practice; either sailors or marines? I doubt whether any heathen sailors, in any country or age, Greek, Roman, or Barbarian, ever came up to ours, for profound ignorance, and barefaced, shameless, shocking impiety. Add to these, out of our renowned metropolis, the whole brood of porters, draymen, carmen, hackney, coachmen, and I am sorry to say, Noblemen and Gentlemen’s footmen, (together making up some thousands,) and you will have such a collection of knowing and pious Christians as all Europe cannot exceed! “But all men are not like these.” No; it is pity they should. And yet how little better are the retailers of brandy or gin, the inhabitants of blind alehouses, the oyster-women, fish-wives, and other good creatures about Billingsgate, and the various clans of peddlers and hawkers that patrol through the streets, or ply in Rag-fair, and other places of public resort!
These, likewise, amount to several thousands, even within the Bills of Mortality. And what knowledge have they? What religion are they of?
What morality do they practice? “But, these have had no advantage of education, many of them scarce being able to write or read.” Proceed we, then, to those who have had these advantages, the officers of the Excise and Customs. Are these, in general, men of reason, who think with clearness and connection, and speak pertinently on a given subject? Are they men of religion; sober, temperate, fearing God and working righteousness; having a conscience void of offense toward God and toward man? How many do you find of this kind among them? men that fear an oath; that fear perjury more than death; that would die rather than neglect any part of that duty which they have sworn to perform; that would sooner be torn in pieces, than suffer any man, under any pretense, to defraud His Majesty of his just right? How many of them will not be deterred from doing their duty either by fear or favor, regard no threatening in the execution of their office, and accept no bribes, called presents? These only are wise and honest men. Set down all the rest as having neither religion nor sound reason. “But surely tradesmen have.” Some of them have both; and in an eminent degree. Some of our traders are an honor to the nation. But are the bulk of them so? Are a vast majority of our tradesmen, whether in town or country, I will not say religious, but honest men? Who shall judge whether they are or not? Perhaps you think St. Paul is too strict. Let us appeal then to Cicero, an honest Heathen. Now, when he is laying down rules of honesty between man and man, he proposes two cases: — 1. Antisthenes brings a ship load of corn to Rhodes, at a time of great scarcity. The Rhodians flock about him to buy. He knows that five other ships laden with corn will be there tomorrow. Ought he to tell the Rhodians this, before he sells his own corn? “Undoubtedly he ought,” says the heathen; “otherwise, he makes a gain of their ignorance, and so is no better than a thief or a robber.” 2. A Roman nobleman comes to a Gentleman to buy his house, who tells him, “There is another going to be built near it, which will darken the windows,” and, on that account, makes a deduction in the price. Some years after, the Gentleman buys it of him again. Afterward he sues the Nobleman for selling it without telling him first that houses were built near, which darkened the windows. The Nobleman pleads, “I thought he knew it.” The Judge asks, “Did you tell him or not?” and, on his owning he did not, determines, “This is contrary to the law, Ne quid dolo malo fiat, Let nothing be done fraudulently,” and sentences him immediately to pay back part of the price.
Now, how many of our tradesmen come up to the heathen standard of honesty? Who is clear of dolus malus , such fraud as the Roman judge would immediately have condemned? Which of our countrymen would not have sold his corn, or other wares, at the highest price he could? Who would have sunk his own market, by telling his customers there would be plenty the next day? Perhaps scarce one in twenty. That one the heathen would have allowed to be an honest man; and, every one of the rest, according to his sentence, is “no better than a thief or a robber.”
I must acknowledge, I once believed the body of English merchants to be men of the strictest honesty and honor. But I have lately had more experience. Whoever wrongs the widow and fatherless, knows not what honor or honesty means. And how very few are there that would scruple this! I could relate many flagrant instances.
But let one suffice: A merchant dies in the full course of a very extensive business. Another agrees with his widow, that provided she will recommend him to her late husband’s correspondents, he will allow her yearly such a proportion of the profits of the trade. She does so; and articles are drawn, which she lodges with an eminent man. This eminent man positively refuses to give them back to her; but gives them to the other merchant, and so leaves her entirely at his mercy. The consequence is, the other says, there is no profit at all; so he does not give her a groat.
Now, where is the honesty or honor, either of him who made the agreement, or him who gave back the articles to him?
That there is honor, nay, and honesty, to be found in another body of men, among the gentlemen of the law, I firmly believe, whether Attorneys, Solicitors, or Couselors. But are they not thinly spread? Do the generality of Attorneys and Solicitors in Chancery love their neighbor as themselves, and do to others what (if the circumstances were changed) they would have others do to them? Do the generality of Couselors walk by this rule, and by the rules of justice, mercy, and truth? Do they use their utmost endeavors, do they take all the care which the nature of the thing will allow, to be assured that a cause is just and good before they undertake to defend it? Do they never knowingly defend a bad cause, and so make themselves accomplices in wrong and oppression? Do they never deliver the poor into the hand of his oppressor, and see that such as are in necessity have not right? Are they not often the means of withholding bread from the hungry, and raiment from the naked, even when it is their own, when they have a clear right thereto, by the law both of God and man? Is not this effectually done in many cases by protracting the suit from year to year? I have known a friendly bill preferred in Chancery by the consent of all parties; the manager assuring them, a decree would be procured in two or three months. But although several years are now elapsed, they can see no land yet; nor do I know that we are a jot nearer the conclusion than we were the first day. Now, where is the honesty of this? Is it not picking of pockets, and no better? A Lawyer who does not finish his client’s suit as soon as it can be done, I cannot allow to have more honesty (though he has more prudence) than if he robbed him on the highway. “But whether Lawyers are or no, sure the Nobility and Gentry are all men of reason and religion.” If you think they are all men of religion, you’d think very differently from your Master, who made no exception of time or nation when he uttered that weighty sentence, “How difficulty shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of Heaven!” And when some who seem to have been of your judgment were greatly astonished at his saying, instead of retracting or softening, he adds, “Verily I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” You think differently from St. Paul, who declares, in those remarkable words, verified in all ages, “Not many rich men, not many noble are called,” and obey the heavenly calling. So many snares surround them, that it is the greatest of all miracles, if any of them have any religion at all. And if you think they are all men of sound reason, you do not judge by fact and experience. Much money does not imply much sense; neither does a good estate infer a good understanding.
As a gay coat may cover a bad heart, so a fair peruke may adorn a weak head. Nay, a critical judge of human nature avers, that this is generally the case. He lays it down as a rule, Sensus communis in illa Fortuna rarus: “Common sense is rarely found in men of fortune.” “A rich man,” says he, “has liberty to be a fool. His fortune will bear him out.” Stultitiam patiuntur opes: But, Tibi parvula res est: “You have little money, and therefore should have common sense.”
I would not willingly say anything concerning those whom the providence of God has allotted for guides to others. There are many thousands of these in the Established Church; many among Dissenters of all denominations. We may add, some thousands of Romish Priests, scattered through England, and swarming in Ireland. Of these, therefore, I would only ask, “Are they all moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them that office and ministry?” If not, they do not “enter by the door into the sheep-fold;” they are not sent of God. Is their “eye single?” Is it their sole intention, in all their ministrations, to glorify God, and to save souls?
Otherwise, “the light which is in them is darkness.” And if it be, “how great is that darkness!” Is their “heart right with God?” Are their “affections set on things above, not on things of the earth?” Else, how will they themselves go one step in the way wherein they are to guide others?
Once more: “Are they holy in all manner of conversation, as He who hath called them is holy?” If not, with what face can they say to the flock, “Be ye followers of me, as I and of Christ?” 12. We have now taken a cursory view of the present state of mankind in all parts of the habitable world, and seen, in a general way, what is their real condition, both with regard to knowledge and virtue. But because this is not so pleasing a picture as human pride is accustomed to draw; and because those who are prepossessed with high notions of their own beauty, will not easily believe that it is taken from the life; I shall endeavor to place it in another view, that it may be certainly known whether it resembles the original. I shall desire every one who is willing to know mankind, to begin his inquiry at home. First, let him survey himself; and then go on, step by step, among his neighbors.
I ask, then, First, Are you thoroughly pleased with yourself? Say you, Who is not? Nay, I say, Who is? Do you observe nothing in yourself which you dislike, which you cannot cordially approve of? Do you never think too well of yourself? think yourself wiser, better, and stronger than you appear to be upon the proof? Is not this pride? And do you approve of pride? Was you never angry without a cause, or farther than that cause required? Are you not apt to be so? Do you approve of this? Do not you frequently resolve against it, and do not you break those resolutions again and again? Can you help breaking them? If so, why do you not? Are not you prone to “unreasonable desires,” either of pleasure, praise, or money?
Do not you catch yourself desiring things not worth a desire, and other things more than they deserve? Are all your desires proportioned to the real intrinsic value of things? Do you not know and feel the contrary? Are not you continually liable to “foolish and hurtful desires?” And do not you frequently relapse into them, knowing them to be such; knowing that they have before “pierced you through with many sorrows?” Have you not often resolved against these desires, and as often broke your resolutions? Can you help breaking them? Do so; help it, if you can; and if not, own your helplessness.
Are you thoroughly pleased with your own life? Nihilne vides quod nolis? “Do you observe nothing there which you dislike?” I presume you are not too severe a judge here; nevertheless, I ask, Are you quite satisfied, from day to day, with all you say or do? Do you say nothing which you afterwards wish you had not said? do nothing which you wish you had not done? Do you never speak anything contrary to truth or love? Is that right? Let your own conscience determine. Do you never do anything contrary to justice or mercy? Is that well done? You know it is not. Why, then, do you not amend? Moves, sed nil promoves . You resolve, and resolve, and do just as you did before.
Your wife , however, is wiser and better than you. Nay, perhaps you do not think so. Possibly you said once, — “Thou has no faults, or I no faults can spy; Thou art all beauty, or all blindness I.” But you do not say so now: She is not without faults; and you can see them plain enough. You see more faults than you desire, both in her temper and behavior: And yet you cannot mend them; and she either cannot or will not. And she says the very same of you. Do your parents or hers live with you? And do they, too, exercise your patience? Is there nothing in their temper or behavior that gives you pain? nothing which you wish to have altered? Are you a parent yourself? Parents in general are not apt to think too meanly of their own dear offspring. And, probably, at some times you admire yours more than enough; you think there are none such. But do you think so upon cool reflection? Is the behavior of all your children, of most, of any of them, just such as you would desire, toward yourself, toward each other, and toward all men? Are their tempers just such as you would wish; loving, modest, mild, and teachable? Do you observe no self will, no passion, no stubbornness, no ill-nature or surliness among them? Did you not observe more or less of these in every one of them, before they were two years old? And have not those seeds ever since grown up with them, till they have brought forth a plentiful harvest?
Your servants, or apprentices, are probably older than your children. And are they wiser and better? Of all those who have succeeded each other for twenty years, how many were good servants? How many of them did their work “unto the Lord, not as pleasing man, but God?” How many did the same work, and in as exact a manner, behind your back as before your face? They that did not were knaves; they had no religion; they had no morality. Which of them studied your interest in all things, just as if it had been his own? I am afraid, as long as you have lived in the world you have seen few of these black swans yet.
Have you had better success with the journeymen and laborers whom you occasionally employ? Will they do the same work if you are at a distance, which they do while you are standing by? Can you depend upon their using you, as they would you should use them? And will they do this, not so much for gain, as for conscience’ sake? Can you trust them as to the price of their labor? Will they never charge more than it is fairly worth? If you have found a set of such workmen, pray do not conceal so valuable a treasure; but immediately advertise the men, and their places of abode, for the common benefit of your countrymen.
Happy you who have such as these about your house! And are your neighbors as honest and loving as they? They who live either in the same, or in the next house; do these love you as themselves? and do to you, in every point, as they would have you do to them? Are they guilty of no untrue or unkind sayings, no unfriendly actions towards you? And are they, (as far as you see or know,) in all other respects, reasonable and religious men? How many of your neighbors answer this character? Would it require a large house to contain them?
But you have intercourse, not with the next neighbors only, but with several tradesmen. And all very honest; are they not? You may easily make a trial. Send a child, or a countryman, to one of their shops. If the shopkeeper is an honest man, he will take no advantage of the buyer’s ignorance. If he does, he is no more honest than a thief. And how many tradesmen do you know who would scruple it?
Go a little farther. Send to the market for what you want. “What is the lowest price of this?” “Five shillings, Sir.” “Can you take no less?” “No, upon my word. It is worth it, every penny.” An hour after he sells it for a shilling less. And it is really worth no more. Yet is not this the course (a few persons excepted) in every market throughout the kingdom? Is it not generally, though not always, “Cheat that cheat can: Sell as dear as you can, and buy as cheap?” And what are they who steer by this rule better than a company of Newgate-birds? Shake them all together; for there is not a grain of honesty among them.
But are not our own tenants, at least, or your landlord, honest men? You are persuaded they are. Very good: Remember, then, an honest man’s word is as good as his bond. You are preparing a receipt, or writing, for a sum of money, which you are going to pay or lend to this honest man.
Writing! What need of that? You do not fear he should die soon. You did not once think of it. But you do not care to trust him without it; that is, you are not sure but he is a mere knave. What, your landlord, who is trust this Honorable, if not Right Honorable, man, without a paltry receipt? I do not ask whether he is a whoremonger, an adulterer, a blasphemer, a proud, a passionate, a revengeful man: This, it may be, his nearest friends will allow; but do you suspect his honesty too? 13. Such is the state of the Protestant Christians in England. Such their virtue, from the least to the greatest; if you take an impartial survey of your parents, children, servants, laborers, neighbors; of tradesmen, Gentry, Nobility. What then can we expect from Papists? what from Jews, Mahometans, Heathens?
And it may be remarked, that this is the plain, glaring, apparent condition of human kind. It strikes the eye of the most careless, inaccurate observer, who does not trouble himself with any more than their outside. Now, it is certain the generality of men do not wear their worst side outward. Rather, they study to appear better than they are, and to conceal what they can of their faults. What a figure, then, would they make were we able to touch them with Ithuriel’s spear! What a prospect would there be, could we anticipate the transactions of the great day! could we “bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the thoughts and intents of the heart!”
This is the plain, naked fact, without any extenuation on the one hand, or exaggeration on the other. The present state of the moral world is as conspicuous as that of the natural. Ovid said no more concerning both, near two thousand years since, than is evidently true at this day. Of the natural world he says, (whether this took place at the fall of man, or about the time of the deluge,) Jupiter antique contraxit tempora veris, Perque hyemes, aestusque, et inaequales autumnos, Et breve ver, spatiis exegit quatuor annum. “The God of nature, and her sovereign King, Shorten’d the primitive perennial spring:
While the sad year, through different seasons driven, Obey’d the stern decree of angry Heaven.” And a man may as modestly deny, that spring and summer, autumn and winter, succeed each other, as deny one article of the ensuing account of the moral world: —
Irrupit venae pejoris in aevum Omne nefas: Fugere pudor, verumque, fidesque; In quorum subiere locum, fraudesque, dolique, Insidiaeque, et vis, et amor sceleratus habendi. “A flood of general wickedness broke in At once, and made the iron age begin:
Virtue and truth forsook the faithless race, And fraud and wrong succeeded in their place; Deceit and violence, the dire thirst of gold, Lust to possess, and rage to have and hold.” What country is there now upon earth, in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, be the inhabitants Pagans, Turks, or Christians, concerning, which we may not say?— Vivitur ex rapto: Non hospes ab hospite tutus:
Filius ante diem patrios inquirit in annos; Victa jacet pietas; et Virgo caede madentes Ultima coelestum terras Astraea reliquit. “They live by rapine. The unwary guest Is poison’d at the’ inhospitable feast.
The son, impatient for his father’s death, Numbers his years, and longs to stop his breath:
Extinguish’d all regard for God and man; And Justice, last of the celestial train, Spurns the earth drench’d in blood, and flies to heaven again.” 14. Universal misery is at once a consequence and a proof of this universal corruption. Men are unhappy, (how very few are the exceptions!) because they are unholy. Culpam parna premit comes: “Pain accompanies and follows sin.” Why is the earth so full of complicated distress? Because it is full of complicated wickedness. Why are not you happy? Other circumstances may concur, but the main reason is, because you are not holy. It is impossible, in the nature of things, that wickedness can consist with happiness. A Roman Heathen tells the English Heathens, Nemo malus felix: “No vicious man is happy.” And if you are not guilty of any gross outward vice, yet you have vicious tempers; and as long as these have power in your heart, true peace has no place. You are proud; you think too highly of yourself. You are passionate; often angry without reason. You are self-willed; you would have your own will, your own way, in everything; that is, plainly, you would rule over God and man; you would be the governor of the world. You are daily liable to unreasonable desires: Some things you desire that are no way desirable; others which ought to be avoided, yea, abhorred, as least as they are now circumstanced. And can a proud or a passionate man be happy? O no! experience shows it is impossible. Can a man be happy who is full of self-will? Not unless he can dethrone the Most High. Can a man of unreasonable desires be happy? Nay, they “pierce” him “through with many sorrows.”
I have not touched upon envy, malice, revenge, covetousness, and other gross vices. Concerning these it is universally agreed, by all thinking men, Christian or Heathen, that a man can no more be happy while they lodge in his bosom, than if a vulture was gnawing his liver. It is supposed, indeed, that a very small part of mankind, only the vilest of men, are liable to these. I know not that; but certainly this is not the case with regard to pride, anger, self-will, foolish desires. Those who are not accounted bad men are by no means free from these. And this alone (were they liable to no other pain) would prevent the generality of men, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, from ever knowing what happiness means. 15. You think, however, you could bear yourself pretty well; but you have such a husband or wife, such parents and children, as are intolerable! One has such a tongue, the other so perverse a temper! The language of these, the carriage of those, is so provoking; otherwise you should be happy enough. True; if both you and they were wise and virtuous. Meanwhile, neither the vices of your family, nor your own, will suffer you to rest.
Look out of your own doors: “Is there any evil in the city, and” sin “hath not done it?” Is there any misfortune or misery to be named, whereof it is not either the direct or remote occasion? Why is it that the friend or relation for whom you are so tenderly concerned is involved in so many troubles? Have not you done your part toward making them happy? Yes, but they will not do their own: One has no management, no frugality, or no industry; another is too fond of pleasure. If he is not what is called scandalously vicious, he loves wine, women, or gaming. And to what does all this amount? He might be happy; but sin will not suffer it.
Perhaps you will say, “Nay, he is not in fault; he is both frugal and diligent; but he has fallen into the hands of those who have imposed upon his good-nature.” Very well; but still sin is the cause of his misfortunes; only it is another’s, not his own.
If you inquire into the troubles under which your neighbor, your acquaintance, or one you casually talk with, labors, still you will find the far greater part of them arise from some fault, either of the sufferer or of others; so that still sin is at the root of trouble, and it is unholiness which causes unhappiness.
And this holds as well with regard to families, as with regard to individuals. Many families are miserable through want. They have not the conveniences, if the necessaries, of life. Why have they not? Because they will not work: Were they diligent, they would want nothing. Or, if not idle, they are wasteful; they squander away, in a short time, what might have served for many years. Others, indeed, are diligent and frugal too; but a treacherous friend, or a malicious enemy, has ruined them; or they groan under the hand of the oppressor; or the extortioner has entered into their labors. You see, then, in all these cases, want (though in various ways) is the effect of sin. But is there no rich man near? none that could relieve these innocent sufferers, without impairing his own fortune? Yes; but he thinks of nothing less. They may rot and perish for him. See, more sin is implied in their suffering.
But is not the family of that rich man himself happy? No; far from it; perhaps farther than his poor neighbors. For they are not content; their “eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor” their “ear with hearing.”
Endeavoring to fill their souls with the pleasures of sense and imagination, they are only pouring water into a sieve. Is not this the case with the wealthiest families you know? But it is not the whole case with some of them. There is a debauched, a jealous, or an ill-natured husband; a gaming, passionate, or imperious wife; an undutiful son; or an imprudent daughter, — who banishes happiness from the house. And what is all this but sin in various shape; with its sure attendant, misery?
In a town, a corporation, a city, a kingdom, is it not the same thing still?
When nation rises up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, does it not necessarily imply pride, ambition, coveting what is another’s; or envy, or malice, or revenge, on one side, if not on both? Still, then, sin is the baleful source of affliction; and consequently, the flood of miseries which covers the face of the earth, — which overwhelms not only single persons, but whole families, towns, cities, kingdoms, — is a demonstrative proof of the overflowing of ungodliness in every nation under heaven.
THE SCRIPTURAL METHOD OF ACCOUNTING FOR THIS DEFENDED.
I. 1. THE fact then being undeniable, I would ask, How is it to be accounted for? Will you resolve it into the prevalence of custom, and say, “Men are guided more by example than reason?” It is true: They run after one another like a flock of sheep, (as Seneca remarked long ago,) non qua eundum est, sed qua itur: “Not where they ought to go, but where others go.” But I gain no ground by this; I am equally at a loss to account for this custom. How is it (seeing men are reasonable creatures, and nothing is so agreeable to reason as virtue) that the custom of all ages and nations is not on the side of virtue rather than vice? If you say, “This is owing to bad education, which propagates ill customs;” I own, education has an amazing force, far beyond what is commonly imagined. I own, too, that as bad education is found among Christians as ever obtained among the Heathens.
But I am no nearer still; I am not advanced a hair’s breadth toward the conclusion. For how am I to account for the almost universal prevalence of this bad education? I want to know when this prevailed first; and how it came to prevail. How came wise and good men (for such they must have been before bad education commenced) not to train up their children in wisdom and goodness; in the way wherein they had been brought up themselves? They had then no ill precedent before them: How came they to make such a precedent? And how came all the wisdom of after ages never to correct that precedent? You must suppose it to have been of ancient date. Profane history gives us a large account of universal wickedness, that is, universal bad education, for above two thousand years last past. Sacred history adds the account of above two thousand more: In the very beginning of which (more than four thousand years ago) “all flesh had corrupted their ways before the Lord!” or, to speak agreeably to this hypothesis, were very corruptly educated. Now, how is this to be accounted for, that, in so long a tract of time, no one nation under the sun has been able, by wholesome laws, or by any other method, to remove this grievous evil; so that, their children being well educated, the scale might at length turn on the side of reason and virtue?
These are questions which I conceive will not easily be answered to the satisfaction of any impartial inquirer. But, to bring the matter to a short issue: The first parents who educated their children in vice and folly, either were wise and virtuous themselves, or were not. If they were not, their vice did not proceed from education; so the supposition falls to the ground: Wickedness was antecedent to bad education. If they were wise and virtuous, it cannot be supposed but they would teach their children to tread in the same steps. In nowise, therefore, can we account for the present state of mankind from example or education. 2. Let us then have recourse to the oracles of God. How do they teach us to account for this fact, — that “all flesh corrupted their way before God,” even in the antediluvian world; that mankind was little, if at all, less corrupt, from the flood to the giving of the law by Moses; that from that time till Christ came, even God’s chosen people were a “faithless and stubborn generation,” little better, though certainly not worse, than the Heathens who knew not God; that when Christ came, both “Jews and Gentiles” were “all under sin; all the world was guilty before God;” that, even after the gospel had been preached in all nations, still the wise and virtuous were a “little flock;” bearing so small a proportion to the bulk of mankind, that it might yet be said, “The whole world lieth in wickedness;” that, from that time, “the mystery of iniquity” wrought even in the Church, till the Christians were little better than the Heathens; and, lastly, that at this day “the whole world,” whether Pagan, Mahometan, or nominally Christian, (little, indeed, is the flock which is to be excepted,) again “lieth in wickedness;” doth not “know the only true God;” doth not love, doth not worship him as God; hath not “the mind which was in Christ,” neither “walketh as he walked;” doth not practice justice, mercy, and truth, nor do to others as they would others should do to them; — how, I say, do the oracles of God teach us to account for this plain fact? 3. They teach us, that “in Adam all die;” ( 1 Corinthians 15:22, compared with Genesis 2 and 3;) that “by” the first “man came” both natural and spiritual “death;” that “by” this “one man sin entered into the world, and death” in consequence of sin; and that from him “death passed upon all men, in that all have sinned.” ( Romans 5:12.)
But you aver, that “no evil but temporal death came upon men in consequence of Adam’s sin.” And this you endeavor to prove by considering the chief scriptures which are supposed to relate thereto.
On this you observe: “Death was to be the consequence of his disobedience. And the death here threatened can be opposed only to that life God gave Adam when he created him.” (Page 7.) True; but how are you assured that God, when he created him, did not give him spiritual as well as animal life? Now, spiritual death is opposed to spiritual life. And this is more than the death of the body. “But this is pure conjecture, without a solid foundation; for no other life is spoken of before.” Yes, there is; “ the image of God” is spoken of before.
This is not, therefore, pure conjecture; but is grounded upon a solid foundation, upon the plain word of God.
Allowing then that “Adam could understand it of no other life than that which he had newly received;” yet would he naturally understand it of the life of God in his soul, as well as of the life of his body. “In this light, therefore, the sense of the threatening will stand thus: ‘Thou shalt surely die;’ as if he had said, I have ‘formed thee of the dust of the ground, and breathed into thy nostrils the breath of lives;”’ (Third Edition, page 8;) both of animal life, and of spiritual life; and in both respects thou “art become a living soul.” “But if thou eatest of the forbidden tree, thou shalt cease to be a living soul. For I will take from thee” the lives I have given, and thou shalt die spiritually, temporally, eternally.
But “here is not one word relating to Adam’s posterity. Though it be true, if he had died immediately upon his transgression, all his posterity must have been extinct with him.” It is true; yet “not one word” of it is expressed. Therefore, other consequences of his sin may be equally implied, though they are no more expressed than this. 4. The second scripture you cite is Genesis 3, from verse 7 to 24. (Pages 9, 10.)
On this you observe: Here “we have some consequences of our first parents’ sin before God judged them; some appointed by his judicial sentence; and some which happened after that sentence was pronounced.” (Page 11.) “Immediately upon their transgression, they were seized with shame and fear. Guilt will always be attended with shame. And a state of guilt is often in Scripture expressed by being naked. Moses ‘saw that the people were naked; for Aaron had made them naked to their shame among their enemies.’ ( Exodus 32:25)” Certainly, naked does not mean guilty here; but either stripped of their ornaments, ( 33:5, 6,) or of their swords, or their upper garment. “Thy nakedness shall be uncovered; yea, thy shame shall be seen.” ( Isaiah 47:3.) (Page 12.) Here also nakedness does not mean guilt; but is to be taken literally, as manifestly appears from the words immediately preceding: “Make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.” (Verse 2.) And, “Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” ( Revelation 16:15.) The plain meaning is, lest he lose the graces he has received, and so be ashamed before men and angels. “Their fear is described: ‘Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.’ ( Genesis 3:8.)
They had no such fear while they were innocent; but now they were afraid to stand before their Judge.” (Page 13.)
This is all you can discern in the Mosaic account as the consequence of our first parents’ sin, before God judged them. Mr. Hervey discerns something more. I make no apology for transcribing some of his words: — “Adam violated the precept, and, as the nervous original expresses it, ‘died the death.’ He before possessed a life incomparably more excellent than that which the beasts enjoy. He possessed a divine life, consisting, according to the Apostle, ‘in knowledge, in righteousness, and true holiness.’ This, which was the distinguishing glory of his nature, in the day that he ate the forbidden fruit was extinct. “His understanding, originally enlightened with wisdom, was clouded with ignorance. His heart, once warmed with heavenly love, became alienated from God his Maker. His passions and appetites, rational and regular before, shook off the government of order and reason. In a word, the whole moral frame was unhinged, disjointed, broken. “The ignorance of fallen Adam was palpable. Witness that absurd attempt to hide himself from the eye of Omniscience among the trees of the garden. His aversion to the all gracious God was equally plain; otherwise, he would never have fled from his Maker, but rather have hasted on the wings of desire, into the place of the divine manifestation. “A strange variety of disorderly passions were evidently predominant in his breast. Pride; for he refuses to acknowledge his guilt, though he cannot but own the fact. Ingratitude; for he obliquely upbraids the Creator with his gift, as though it had been a snare rather than a blessing: ‘The woman thou gavest me.’ The female criminal acts the same unhumbled part. She neither takes shame to herself, nor gives glory to God, nor puts up a single petition for pardon. “As all these disasters ensued upon the breach of the commandment, they furnish us with the best key to open the meaning of the penalty annexed. They prove beyond any argument that spiritual death and all its consequences were comprised in the extent of the threatening.” (Theron and Aspasio, Dial. 11.) 5. However, “no other could in justice be punishable for that transgression, which was their own act and deed only.” (Page 13.) If no other was justly punishable, then no other was punished for that transgression. But all were punished for that transgression, namely, with death. Therefore, all men were justly punishable for it.
By punishment I mean suffering consequent upon sin, or pain inflicted because of sin preceding. Now, it is plain, all mankind suffer death; and that this suffering is consequent upon Adam’s sin. Yea, and that this pain is inflicted on all men because of his sin. When, therefore, you say, “Death does descend to us in consequence of his transgression,” (Doctrine of Original Sin, page 20,) you allow the point we contend for; and are very welcome to add, “Yet it is not a punishment for his sin.” You allow the thing. Call it by what name you please.
But “punishment always connotes guilt.” (Page 21.) It always connotes sin and suffering; and here are both. Adam sinned; his posterity suffer; and that, in consequence of his sin.
But “sufferings are benefits to us.” Doubtless; but this does not hinder their being punishments. The pain I suffer as a punishment for my own sins may be a benefit to me, but it is a punishment nevertheless.
But “as they two only were guilty of the first sin, so no other but they two only could be conscious of it as their sin.” (Page 14) No other could be conscious of it as their sin, in the same sense as Adam and Eve were; and yet others may “charge it upon themselves” in a different sense, so as to judge themselves “children of wrath” on that account.
To sum up this point in Dr. Jennings’s words: “If there be anything in this argument, that Adam’s posterity could not be justly punishable for his transgression, because it was his personal act and not theirs, it must prove universally, that it is unjust to punish the posterity of any man for his personal crimes. And yet most certain it is, that God has in other cases actually punished men’s sins on their posterity. Thus the posterity of Canaan, the son of Ham, is punished with slavery for his sin. ( Genesis 9:25,27.) Noah pronounced the curse under a divine afflatus, and God confirmed it by his providence. So we do in fact suffer for Adam’s sin, and that too by the sentence inflicted on our first parents. We suffer death in consequence of their transgression. Therefore we are, in some sense, guilty of their sin. I would ask, what is guilt, but an obligation to suffer punishment for sin? Now since we suffer the same penal evil which God threatened to, and inflicted on, Adam for his sin; and since it is allowed we suffer this for Adam’s sin, and that by the sentence of God, appointing all men to die, because Adam sinned; is not the consequence evident?
Therefore we are all some way guilty of Adam’s sin.” (Jennings’s Vindication. ) 6. “The consequences appointed by the judicial sentence of God are found in that pronounced on the serpent, or the woman, or the man.” (Page 15.) “The serpent is cursed, Genesis 3:14,15. And those words in the fifteenth verse: ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: He’ (so the Hebrew) ‘shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,’ imply, that God would appoint his only-begotten Son to maintain a kingdom in the world opposite to the kingdom of Satan, till he should be born of a woman, and by his doctrine, example, obedience, and death, give the last stroke, by way of moral means, to the power and works of the devil.” (Page 16.)
I do not understand that expression, “By way of moral means.” What I understand from the whole tenor of Scripture is, that the eternal, almighty Son of God, “who is over all, God blessed for ever,” having reconciled us to God by his blood, creates us anew by his Spirit, and reigns till he hath destroyed all the works of the devil. “Sentence is passed upon the woman, (verse 16,) that she should bring forth children with more pain and hazard than otherwise she would have done.” (Page 17.) How? With “more pain and hazard” than otherwise she would have done! Would she otherwise have had any pain at all? or have brought forth children with any hazard? Hazard of what? Certainly, not of death. I cannot comprehend this. “Lastly, the sentence upon the man (verses 17-19) first affects the earth, and then denounces death upon himself. “After sentence pronounced, God, having clothed Adam and Eve, drove them out of paradise.” (Page 18.)
(1.) “A curse is pronounced on the serpent and on the ground; but no curse upon the woman and the man.” (Page 19.) But a curse fell upon them in that very moment wherein they transgressed the law of God.
For, “cursed is every one that continueth noting all things which are” contained “in the law to do them.” Vainly, therefore, do you subjoin, “Though they are subjected to sorrow, labor, and death, these are not inflicted under the notion of a curse.” “Surely they are; as the several branches of that curse which he had already incurred; and which had already not only “darkened and weakened his rational powers,” but disordered his whole soul.
(2.) Here is not one word of any other death, but the dissolution of the body.” Nor was it needful. He felt in himself that spiritual death, which is the prelude of death everlasting. “But the words, ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,’ restrain this death to this dissolution alone.” (Page 20.) “This dissolution alone” is expressed in those words. But how does it appear, that nothing more is imputed?
The direct contrary appears from your own assertions; for if these words refer clearly to those, “And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives;” and if “the judicial act of condemnation clearly implieth the depriving him of that life which God then breathed into him;” it undeniably follows, that this judicial act implieth a deprivation of spiritual life as well as temporal; seeing God breathed into him both one and the other, in order to his becoming “a living soul.”
It remains, that the death expressed in the original threatening, and implied in the sentence pronounced upon man, includes all evils which could befall his soul and body; death temporal, spiritual, and eternal. 7. You next cite 1 Corinthians 15:21,22: “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (Page 22.)
On this you observe,
(1.) “The Apostle is in this chapter proving and explaining the resurrection. It is this fact or event, and no other, which he here affirms and demonstrates.” (Page 23.)
If you mean, “The resurrection of the body to that life which it enjoyed in this world is the only thing which the Apostle speaks of in this chapter,” your assertion is palpably false; for he speaks therein of “that glorious life” both of soul and body, which is not, cannot be, enjoyed in this world.
(2.) “It is undeniable, that all mankind ‘die in Adam;’ all are mortal, in consequence of his sin.” (Page 24.)
(3.) “It is equally clear, that ‘by Christ came the resurrection of the dead:’ ‘That, in Christ,’ all who die in Adam, that is, all mankind, ‘are made alive.’” It is neither clear nor true, that St. Paul affirms this, in either of the texts before us: For in this whole chapter he speaks only of the resurrection of the just, of “them that are Christ’s.” (Verse 23.)
So that from hence it cannot be inferred at all, that all mankind will be “made alive.” Admitting then, “that the ‘resurrection of the dead,’ and being ‘made alive,’ are expressions of the same signification;” this proves nothing; since the Apostle affirms neither one nor the other, of any but of those “who are fallen asleep in Christ.” (Verse 18.) It is of these only that he here asserts, their death came by the first, their resurrection by the second, Adam; or, that in Adam they all died; in Christ, they all are made alive. Whatever life they all lost by means of Adam, they all recover by means of Christ. “From this place we cannot conclude that any death came upon mankind in consequence of Adam’s sin, beside that death from which mankind shall be delivered at the resurrection.” (Page 25.)
Nay, from this place we cannot conclude, that mankind in general shall be delivered from any death at all; seeing it does not relate to mankind in general, but wholly and solely to “them that are Christ’s.”
But from this place we may firmly conclude that more than the mere death of the body came even upon these by man, by Adam’s sin; seeing the resurrection which comes to them by man, by Christ, is far more than the mere removal of that death: Therefore their dying in Adam implies far more than the bare loss of the bodily life we now enjoy; seeing their “being made alive in” Christ implies far more than a bare recovery of that life.
Yet it is true, that whatever death came on them by one man, came upon all mankind; and that in the same sense wherein they “died in Adam,” all mankind died likewise. And that all mankind are not “made alive in” Christ, as they are, is not God’s fault, but their own.
I know not therefore what you mean by saying, that after Dr. Jennings has proved this whole chapter, and consequently the two verses in question, to relate wholly and solely to the resurrection of the just, “he leaves you in full possession of your argument.” Surely if he proves this, he wrests your whole argument out of your hands. He leaves you not one shred of it. 8. “We come now,” you say, “to the most difficult scripture which speaks of this point: — “‘As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;’ even ‘so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. “‘For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when 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, who is the figure of him that was to come. “‘But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. “‘And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was by one’ offense ‘to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. “‘For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they who receive the abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. “‘Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. ‘“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.’ ( Romans 5:12-19.)” (Page 26.)
On this you observe:
(1.) That this passage “speaks of temporal death, and no other.” (Page 28.) That it speaks of temporal death is allowed; but not that it speaks of no other. How prove you this? Why thus: “He evidently speaks of that death which ‘entered into the world’ by Adam’s sin; that death which is common to all mankind; which ‘passed upon all men;’ that death which ‘reigned from Adam to Moses;’ that whereby the ‘many,’ that is, all mankind, ‘are dead.’” He does so; but how does it appear that the death which “entered into the world by” Adam’s sin; which is common to all mankind; which “passed upon all men;” which “reigned from Adam to Moses;” and whereby the many, that is, all mankind, are dead; how, I say, does it appear, from any or all of these expressions, that this is temporal death only? Just here lies the fallacy: “No man,” say you, “can deny that the Apostle is here speaking of that death.” True; but when you infer, “Therefore he speaks of that only,” we deny the consequence. 9. You affirm:
(2.) “By judgment to condemnation, (Verses 16, 18) he means the being adjudged to the aforementioned death; for the ‘condemnation’ inflicted by the ‘judgment’ of God (Verse 16,) is the same thing with ‘being dead.’ (Verse 15.)” (Page 27.) Perhaps so; but that this is merely the death of the body still remains to be proved; as, on the other hand, that “the gift, or free gift,” opposed thereto, is merely deliverance from that death.
You add: “In all the Scriptures there is recorded but one ‘judgment to condemnation;’ one sentence, one judicial act of condemnation, which ‘came upon all men.”’ (Page 29.) Nay, in this sense of the word, there is not one; not one formal sentence, which was explicitly and judicially pronounced upon “all mankind.” That which you cite, ( Genesis 3:17, 19,) was not; neither does all that sentence, in fact, “come upon all men.” “Unto dust shalt thou return,” does come upon all; but that other part does not, — “In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” This was formally pronounced, and actually fulfilled upon Adam; but it is not fulfilled upon all his posterity. 10. You affirm:
(3.) “These words, in the 19th verse, ‘As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,’ mean the same as those in the 18th, —’As by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.’” (Page 30.) Not exactly the same. The being “made sinners” is different from the being judged, condemned, or punished as such. You subjoin: “But these words, ‘By the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation,’ answer in sense to those, (Verse 17,) ‘By one man’s offense death reigned by one.’” (Ibid. ) Neither is this exactly true. “Condemnation” came first; and in consequence of this, “death reigned.” You add: “And by ‘death’ most certainly is intended no other than temporal death.” Most certainly this cannot be proved. Therefore it does not follow, “that these words, ‘By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,’ mean no more than, ‘By one man’s disobedience’ mankind were made subject to temporal death.” “Review,” you say, “this reasoning, and see if you can find any flaw in it.” There are several; but the grand flaw lies in the very first link of the chain. You have not yet proved that “death throughout this passage means only the death of the body.”
This flaw is not amended by your observing that St. Paul was a Jew, and wrote to Jews as well as Gentiles; that he often uses Hebrew idioms; and that “the Hebrew word which signifies to be a sinner, in Hiphil signifies to condemn, or make (that is declare) a man a sinner by a judicial sentence;” that you can, by the help of your Concordance, “produce fifteen Hebrew texts, in which the word is so taken:” (Pages 31, 32:) For if it would follow from hence, that, “By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation,” is just equivalent with, “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners;” still this does not prove that the death in question is no other than temporal death.
But indeed it does not follow, that two expressions are just equivalent, because one Hebrew word may contain them both; nor can it, therefore, be inferred from hence, that, “Many were made sinners,” is just equivalent with, “Judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” Rather, the former expression answers to “All have sinned;” the latter, to “Death passed upon all men.” Sin is the cause of their condemnation, and not the same thing with it.
You go on: “Besides all this, it is here expressly affirmed, that the many are ‘made sinners’ by the disobedience of another man.” (Page 33.) It is expressly affirmed; and by an inspired Apostle; therefore I firmly believe it. “But they can be made sinners by the disobedience of another in no other sense than as they are sufferers.” (Page 34.) How is this proved? We grant the Hebrew words for sin and iniquity are often used to signify suffering. But this does not prove that the phrase, “Were made sinners,” signifies only, they were made sufferers. “So ‘Christ was made sin for us.”’ (Page 35.) No; not so; but as he was “made an offering for sin.” “He suffered on account of the sins of men, and so he ‘was made sin.’” Yes, “a sin-offering.” But it is never said, he was made a sinner; therefore the expressions are not parallel. But he need not have been made sin at all, if we had not been made sinners by Adam. ‘And men suffer on account of Adam’s sin, and so they are made sinners.” Are they made sinners so only? That remains to be proved. “It seems then confirmed, beyond all doubt, that ‘by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,’ meaneth only, by Adam’s sin, the many, that is, all mankind, ‘were made subject to death.’” He that will believe it (taking death in the common sense) may; but you have not confirmed it by one sound argument. 11. You affirm,
(4.) “The Apostle draws a comparison between Adam and Christ; between what Adam did, with the consequences of it, and what Christ did, with the consequences of that. And this comparison is the main thing he has in view.” (Page 36.)
This is true. “The comparison begins at the twelfth verse: ‘Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,’ — there he stops awhile, and brings an argument to prove, that death came on mankind through Adam’s transgression.” (Pages 37, 38.) He does so; but not before he had finished his sentence, which literally runs thus: “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, even so death passed upon all men, in that all had sinned.” The comparison, therefore, between Adam and Christ begins not at the twelfth but the fourteenth verse. Of this you seem sensible yourself, when you say, “Adam is the ‘pattern of Him that was to come.’ Here a new thought starts into the Apostle’s mind.” (Page 39.) For it was not a new thought starting into his mind here, if it was the same which he began to express at the twelfth verse.
You proceed: “The extent of the free gift in Christ answers to the extent of the consequences of Adam’s sin; nay, abounds far beyond them. This he incidentally handles, verses 15-17, and then resumes his main design, verses 18, 19, half of which he had executed in the twelfth verse.” Not one jot of it. That verse is a complete sentence, not half of one only. And the particle therefore, prefixed to the eighteenth verse, shows, that the discourse goes straight forward; and that this, as well as the nineteenth verse, are closely connected with the seventeenth.
Allowing, then, that “the Apostle draws a comparison between the disobedience” of Adam, by which all men are ‘brought under condemnation,’ and the ‘obedience of Christ,’ by which all men are, in some sense, ‘justified unto life;’” (page 40;) still it does not appear either that this condemnation means no more than the death of the body, or that this justification means no more than the resurrection of the body. 12. You affirm
(5.) “The whole of the Apostle’s argument stands upon these two principles, that, by the ‘offense of one,’ death passed upon all men; and, by ‘the obedience of one,’ all are justified.” ‘This is allowed. But I cannot allow your interpretation of, “Sin is not imputed, where there is no law;” or, as you would oddly, and contrary to all precedent, translate it, “where law is not in being.” “The sins of mankind,” say you, “were not imputed, were not taxed with the forfeiture of life, because the law which subjects the transgressor to death was not then in being; for it was abrogated upon Adam’s transgression, and was not again in force till revived by Moses.” (Page 41.)
On this I would ask,
(4.) What do you mean by that ambiguous expression, “Were not taxed with the forfeiture of life?” Your argument requires that it should mean, “Were not punished or punishable with death.” But is this true?
Neither can I allow that unnatural interpretation of, “Them who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression;” “Had not signed against law, making death the penalty of their sin, as Adam did.” (Page 42.) Do not the words obviously mean, “Had not sinned by any actual sin, as Adam did?”
Nay, “the Sodomites and Antediluvians are no objection to this.” That is strange indeed But how so? “Because extraordinary interpositions come under no rule, but the will of God.” What is that to the purpose? Their sins were actually punished with death, “during that space wherein,” you say, “mankind were not subject to death for their transgression.” They were subject to death for their transgressions, as God demonstrated by those extraordinary interpositions.
(i.) It was not enacted till the year of the world 1657.” Well, and if it had been enacted only the year before Moses was born, it would still have destroyed your argument. But,
What then? What does it matter, whether the penalty annexed by God were inflicted by God or man? However, I suppose this punishment on the Antediluvians, and on Sodom and Gomorrah, was “inflicted by God himself.” But,
(iii.) “None of these were made mortal by those sins.” Certainly, infallibly true! And yet the case of any of these abundantly proves, that the law was in force from Adam to Moses, even according to your own definition of it: “A rule of duty with the penalty of death annexed, as due to the transgressor from God.” 13. You affirm,
(6.) “The consequences of Adam’s sin answer those of Christ’s obedience; but not exactly: ‘Not as the offense, so is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace’ (or favor) ‘of God and the gift’ (the benefits that are) ‘by grace, which is by one man Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.’ (Verse 15.) That is, he hath in Christ bestowed benefits upon mankind, far exceeding the consequences of Adam’s sin; in erecting a new dispensation, furnished with a glorious fund of light and truth, means and motives.” (Pages 43, 44.) This is true; but how small a part of the truth! What a poor, low account of the Christian dispensation!
You go on: “‘Not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: For the judgment was by one offense to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification;’ (Verse 16;) that is, the grace of God in Christ discharges mankind from the consequences of Adam’s one offense.” Does it entirely discharge them from these consequences? from sorrow, and labor, and death, which you affirmed a while ago to be the only consequences of it that affect his posterity? It “also sets them quite to rights with God, both as to a conformity to the law and eternal life.”
Is not this allowing too much? Is it well consistent with what you said before? “In the 19th verse, the Apostle concludes the whole argument: ‘As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous’” (Page 29, et seq .) “Were made sinners,” you aver means only, “were made mortal.” If so, the counterpart, “if made righteous,” can only mean, “made mortal.” And that you thought so then, appears from your citing as a parallel text, “In Christ shall all be made alive;” which you had before asserted to mean only, “shall be raised from the dead.” 14. “Hence it followeth, First, that the abounding of God’s grace, and the blessing by that grace, doth not respect the consequences of Adam’s sin, hath no reference to his transgression, but to the grace of God, and the obedience of Christ.” (Page 45.) “The abounding of God’s grace,” you inform us, “has reference to the grace of God.” Most sure: But this does not prove that it has no reference to the consequences of Adam’s sin. If we gain more blessing by Christ than we lost by Adam, it is doubtless abounding grace. But still it has a reference to Adam’s transgression, and the consequences of it. It is over these that it abounds; therefore it has a manifest respect to them. “It followeth, Secondly, that in the 18th and 19th verses the Apostle considers the effects of Christ’s obedience only so far as they answer to, and reverse the consequences of, Adam’s disobedience; the additional benefits flowing therefrom having been mentioned apart in the 15th, 16th, and 17th verses.” (Page 46.) In those verses the Apostle does undoubtedly show how the blessing by Christ abounded over the curse by Adam. But what then? How does this prove that the 18th and 19th verses do not respect all the benefits mentioned before? Without question they do: They are a general conclusion, not from one, but all the preceding verses. “Again observe, that the ‘justification to life’ is such a justification as comes upon all men.” (Page 47.) It may in some sense; but does it in fact?
According to your sense of it, it comes upon none. For if it means, “the discharging men from the consequences of Adam’s sin; and if the only consequences of that sin are sorrow, labor, and death;” it is manifest, no man upon earth is justified to this day.
But you go on: “As justification to life comes upon all men.” No; not in the proper scripture sense of justification. That term is never once in the Bible used for the resurrection, no more than for heaven or hell.
It may be proper here, once for all, to observe, that what St. Paul says of abounding grace is simply this:
(1.) The condemnation came by “one offense” only; the acquittal is from “many offenses.”
(2.) They who receive this shall enjoy a far higher blessing by Christ than they lost by Adam.
In both these respects, the consequences of Christ’s death abound over the consequences of Adam’s sin. And this whole blessing by Christ is termed, in the 18th verse, “justification;” in the 19th, “being made righteous.” “Further, the phrase, ‘being made righteous,’ as well as ‘being made sinners,’ is a Hebrew way of speaking.” (Page 49.) I do not allow that:
Both the phrases, kaqistasqai dikaioi , or amartwloi are pure and good Greek. That, therefore, there is any Hebraism at all in these expressions, cannot be admitted without proof. If, then, the same Hebrew word does signify to “make righteous,” and to “acquit in judgment,” it does not follow that the Greek word here translated, “made righteous,” means only “being acquitted.” You yourself say the contrary. You but now defined this very gift, “the benefits that are by grace;” (page 44;) and, in explaining those very words, “The free gift is of many offenses unto justification,” affirmed, That is, “the grace of God in Christ not only discharges mankind from the consequences of Adam’s sin, but also sets them quite to rights with God, both as to a conformity to the law, and as to eternal life.” And is this no more than “acquitting them in judgment,” “or reversing the sentence of condemnation?”
Through this whole passage, it may be observed that “the guilt,” “the free gift,” “the gift by grace,” mean one and the same thing, even the whole benefit given by the abounding grace of God, through the obedience of Christ; abounding both with regard to the fountain itself, and the streams:
Abundant grace producing abundant blessings.
If, then, these verses are “evidently parallel to those 1 Corinthians 15:21,22,” it follows even hence, that “dying,” and “being made alive,” in the latter passage, do not refer to the body only; but that “dying” implies all the evils, temporal and spiritual, which are derived from Adam’s sin; and “being made alive,” all the blessings which are derived from Christ, in time and in eternity.
Whereas, therefore, you add, “It is now evident, surely beyond all doubt,” (strong expressions!) “that the consequences of Adam’s sin here spoken of are no other than the ‘death’ which comes upon all men:” (Page 50:) I must beg leave to reply, It is not evident at all; nay, it is tolerably evident, on the contrary, that this “death” implies all manner of evils, to which either the body or soul is liable. 15. You next reconsider the 12th verse, which you understand thus: “Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” namely, in Adam. “‘All have sinned;’ that is, are subjected to death through that one offense of his.” (Page 51.)
You said before, “‘Death passed upon all men,’ means, all were by a judicial sentence made subject to death.” And here you say, “‘All have sinned,’ means, all have been subjected to death.” So the Apostle asserts, “All were subjected to death, because all were subjected to death!” Not so:
Sin is one thing, death another; and the former is here assigned as the cause of the latter.
Although the criticism on ef w (page 52) is liable to much exception, yet I leave that and the Hebrew citations as they stand; because, though they may cause many readers to admire your learning, yet they are not to the point. “Seeing then the phrase, ‘All are made sinners,’ hath been demonstrated to signify, all are subjected to death by a judicial sentence; and seeing the Apostle’s whole argument turns on this point, that all men die through the one offense of Adam; who can doubt but, ‘All have sinned,’ means the same with, ‘All are made sinners?’” (Pages 53, 54.) I do not doubt it; but I still deny that either phrase means no more than, “All are in a state of suffering.” 16. In order fully to clear this important text, I shall here subjoin some of Dr. Jennings’s remarks: “The Apostle having treated in the preceding chapter of the cause and manner of a sinner’s justification before God, namely, through the merits of Christ, and by faith in his blood, and having spoken of the fruits of justification in the former part of this chapter, he proceeds, in the verses before us, to illustrate our salvation by Christ, by comparing it with our ruin by Adam. He compares Adam with Christ, and shows how what we lost by the one is restored by the other with abundant advantage. He makes Adam to be a figure or type of Christ; considering them both as public persons, representing, the one, all his natural descendants; the other, all his spiritual seed; the one, Adam, all mankind, who are ‘all guilty before God;’ the other, Christ, all those ‘who obtain the righteousness of God, which is by faith to all them that believe.’
Concerning the consequences of Adam’s sin upon his posterity, we have here the following particulars: — “
(1.) That by one man sin entered into the world; that the whole world is some way concerned in Adam’s sin. And this indeed is evident, because, — “
(2.) Death, which is ‘the wages of sin,’ and the very punishment threatened to Adam’s first transgression, ‘entered by sin, and passed upon all men,’ is actually inflicted on all mankind. Upon which it is asserted in the next words, — “
(3.) That all have sinned: ‘Even so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’ All men then are deemed sinners in the eye of God, on account of that one sin, of which alone the Apostle is here speaking. And, — “
(4.) Not only after, but before, and ‘until the law,’ given by Moses, ‘sin was in the world;’ and men were deemed sinners, and accordingly punished with death, through many generations. Now, ‘sin is not imputed where there is no law; nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses;’ plainly showing, that all mankind, during that whole period, had sinned in Adam, and so died in virtue of the death threatened to him; and death could not then be inflicted on mankind for any actual sin, because it was inflicted on so many infants, who had neither eaten of the forbidden fruit nor committed any actual sin whatever, and therefore had not sinned in any sense, ‘after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.’ Therefore, — “
(6.) That they were all involved in that sentence of condemnation which God passed upon him. ‘The judgment was by one to condemnation.’ (Verse 16.) ‘By one offense judgment came upon all men to condemnation.’ (Verse 18.) And, since it is so plain that all men are actually punished for Adam’s sin, it must needs follow, — “
(7.) That they ‘all sinned in Adam. By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.’ They were so constituted sinners by Adam’s sinning, as to become liable to the punishment threatened to his transgression. “Between Adam and Christ, the type and the antitype, St. Paul draws the parallel in the following particulars: — “
(1.) Both have done something by which many others are affected, who either lose or gain by what they did: ‘Through the offense of one many are dead; by one, the gift of grace hath abounded to many.’ (Verse 15.) “
(2.) That which the first Adam did, by which many, that is, all men receive hurt, was sin, offense, and disobedience: They all suffer by one that sinned. (Verse 16.) ‘By the offense of one, by one man’s disobedience.’ (Verses 18, 19.) That which the second Adam did, by which many, that is, all who believe, receive benefit, is righteousness and obedience: ‘By the righteousness of one, by the obedience of one.’ (Verses 18, 19.) “
(3.) The detriment which all men receive through Adam is, that they ‘are made sinners;’ that ‘judgment is come upon them to condemnation;’ in consequence of which, death, the wages of sin, is inflicted on every one of them. The benefit which all believers receive through Christ is grace, or the favor of God, justification, righteousness, or sanctification, and eternal life: ‘The grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath, by one man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
Thus the Apostle shows the parity between the effects of Adam’s sin, and of Christ’s righteousness Only in two instances he shows that the effect of the latter vastly exceeds the effect of the former: — “
(1.) It removes many sins, besides that one sin of Adam, which so affected all his posterity: ‘If through one offense many be dead, much more the grace of God by Jesus Christ hath abounded to many. The judgment was by one to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.’ (Verses 15, 16.) “
(2.) Christ raises believers to a far happier state than that which Adam enjoyed in paradise: ‘Much more they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.’ (Verse 17.)” (Jennings’s Vindication. ) 17. Your paraphrase on the text, (Taylor’s Doctrine, etc. , pages 55-64,) being only a repetition of what you had said over and over before, does not require any separate consideration. Only I must observe a few mistakes which have not occurred before:
(2.) You have very grievously mistaken the meaning of four texts in John 6: “ This is the Father’s will, that, of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (Verse 39.) “This is the will of Him that sent me, that everyone that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have everlasting life: And I will raise him up at the last day.” (Verse 40.) “No man can come to me except the Father draw him: And I will raise him up at the last day.” (Verse 44.) “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Verse 54.) Now, you cite all these texts as relating to the general resurrection, whereas not one of them relates to it at all. They are all promises made to true believers only; and relate wholly and solely to the resurrection of the just. 18. It remains then, all that has been advanced to the contrary notwithstanding, that the only true and rational way of accounting for the general wickedness of mankind, in all ages and nations, is pointed out in those words: “In Adam all die.” In and through their first parent, all his posterity died in a spiritual sense; and they remain wholly “dead in trespasses and sins,” till the second Adam makes them alive. By this “one man sin entered into the world, and passed upon all men:” And through the infection which they derive from him, all men are and ever were, by nature, entirely “alienated from the life of God; without hope, without God in the world.”
(1.) Your Appendix to the first part of your book is wholly employed in answering two questions: “One is, How is it consistent with justice, that all men should die by the disobedience of one man? The other, How shall we account for all men’s rising again, by the obedience of another man, Jesus Christ?” (page 65.)
You may determine the former question as you please, since it does not touch the main point in debate. I shall therefore take no farther pains about it, than to make a short extract of what Dr. Jennings speaks on the head: — “
(2.) As to the first question, Dr. Taylor gets rid of all difficulty that may arise from the consideration of God’s justice, by ascribing it wholly to his goodness, that ‘death passed upon all men.’ ‘Death,’ he tells us, ‘is upon the whole a benefit.’ It is certain that believers in Christ receive benefit by it. But this gentleman will have death to be an ‘original benefit, and that to all mankind; merely intended to increase the vanity of all earthly things, and to abate their force to delude us.’
He afterward displays the benefit of shortening human life to its present standard: ‘That death being nearer to our view, might be a powerful motive to regard less the things of a transitory world.’ But does the ‘nearer view of death,’ in fact, produce this effect? Does not the common observation of all ages prove the contrary? Has not covetousness been the peculiar vice of old age? As death is nearer to the view, we plainly see that men have more and more regard for the things of a transitory world. We are sure, therefore, that death is no such benefit to the generality of men. On the contrary, it is the king of terrors to them, the burden of their lives, and bane of their pleasures.
To talk, therefore, of death’s being a benefit, an original benefit, and that to all mankind, is to talk against the common sense and experience of the whole world. “It is strange, death should be originally given by God as a benefit to man, and that the shortening of man’s life afterward should be designed as a farther benefit; and yet that God should so often promise his peculiar people long life as the reward of obedience, and threaten them with death as a punishment of disobedience! “‘But the Scripture,’ he says, ‘affirms that sufferings are the chastisements of our heavenly Father, and death in particular.’ But does not every chastisement suppose a fault? Must he not be a cruel father who will chasten his children for no fault at all? If then God does but chasten us for Adam’s sin, the fault of it must some way lie upon us; else we suppose God’s dealings with his children to be unreasonable and unrighteous.” (Vindication , page 36, etc.)
(3.) I would only add two or three obvious questions:
(i.) Did God propose death as a benefit in the original threatening?
(iii.) Do the inspired writers speak of God’s “bringing a flood on the world of the ungodly, as a benefit, or a punishment?”
(iv.) Do they mention the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as designed for a benefit to them?
(4.) The other question is, “How shall we account for all men’s rising again, by the obedience of another man, Jesus Christ?” (Taylor’s Doctrine , etc. , page 70.) “To set this in a clear light, I ask another question: What was it that gave the glorious Personage, emblemized by ‘the Lamb,’ ( Revelation 5:1, etc.,) his superior worthiness, his prevailing interest in God, beyond all others in heaven and earth? It was his being slain; that is, his obedience to God, and good will to men: It was his consummate virtue. ‘Thou art worthy:’ — Why? Because thou hast exhibited to God such an instance of virtue, obedience, and goodness. Thou hast sacrificed thy life in the cause of truth, and ‘hast redeemed us’ by that act of the highest obedience.” (Pages 71, 72.)
With what extreme wariness is this whole paragraph worded! You do not care to say directly, “Jesus Christ is either a little God, or he is no God at all.” So you say it indirectly, in a heap of smooth, labored, decent circumlocutions. Yet permit me to ask, Was “that act of obedience, the original and sole ground” of his prevailing interest in God, and of his worthiness, not only “to open the book,” but “to receive” from all the armies of heaven “the power, and the riches, and the wisdom, and the strength, and the honor, and the glory, and the blessing?” ( Revelation 5:12.) And is this act the original and the sole ground, why “all men” must “honor him even as they honor the Father?” Yea, and why “every creature which is in the heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all that are in them, say, To him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb, is the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the power, for ever and ever?” (Verse 13.) “To Him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb:” — Does that mean, to the great God and the little God? If so, when all “creatures in heaven and earth,” all throughout the universe, thus “honor him even as they honor the Father,” are they not doing him too much honor? “My glory,” saith the Lord, “I will not give to another.” How comes it then to be given to the Lamb?
(5.) You proceed: “The worthiness of Christ is his consummate virtue, obedience to God, and benevolence to his creatures.” Is this the only ground of his worthiness to be “honored even as the Father?” Is it on this ground alone, that “all the angels of God” are to “worship him?”
Do you then conceive this to be the exact meaning of St. Paul, when he says, “Ye are bought with a price?” and that where he speaks of “the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood,” he means with his own virtue? Agreeable to which, “Thou hast redeemed us by thy blood,” must mean, by the right exercise of thy reason? Well, then, might Father Socinus say, Tota redemptionis nostrae per Christum metaphora: “The whole metaphor of our redemption by Christ.” For on this scheme there is nothing real in it. “It was not the mere natural power or strength of the Lamb, but his most excellent character.” — Sir, do “you honor the Son, even as you honor the Father?” If you did, could you possibly talk of him in this strain?
However, all this does not affect the question; but it still remains an unshaken truth, that all men’s dying in Adam is the grand cause why “the whole world lieth in wickedness.”\parNEWINGTON, January 18, 1757. 1. In your Second Part you profess to “examine the principal passages of Scripture, which Divines have applied in support of the doctrine of original sin; particularly those cited by the Assembly of Divines in their Larger Catechism.” (Pages 87, 88.) To this I never subscribed; but I think it is in the main a very excellent composition, which I shall therefore cheerfully endeavor to defend, so far as I conceive it is grounded on clear Scripture.
But I would first observe in general, with Dr. Jennings, that there are two kinds of texts in the ensuing collection: Some that directly prove, others that properly illustrate, the doctrine of original sin. And there are so many in which it is either directly spoken of, or evidently implied, that the author might well have spared his observation, “The Scripture speaks very sparingly of the consequences of Adam’s sin upon us, because as these are freely reversed to mankind by Christ, we are not so much concerned to know them.” (Page 50.) The fact here affirmed is equally true with the reason assigned for it. 2. The First proposition in the Catechism, which relates to original sin, is this: — “The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned with him, and fell with him, in that first transgression. “‘God hath made of one blood all nations of men.’ ( Acts 17:26.)” (Pages 91, 92.) — I believe Dr. Jennings’s remark here will suffice: — “This is quoted to prove that all mankind descend from Adam. But Dr. Taylor adds, ‘That is, hath made all the nations of the world of one species, endowed with the same faculties.”’ (Jennings’s Vindication , page 49, etc.) And so they might have been, if all men had been created singly and separately, just as Adam was; but they could not then, with any propriety of language, have been said to be of one blood. This Scripture, therefore, is very pertinently quoted to prove what it is brought for. That ‘Adam was a public person, including all his posterity, and, consequently, that all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression,’ the Assembly have proved very methodically and substantially: First, from Genesis 2:16,17, where death is threatened to Adam in case of his sinning; then from Romans 5:12-20, and 1 Corinthians 15:21,22, where we are expressly told that “all men die in Adam;” and that, “by his offense, judgment is come upon all men to condemnation.”
On this you remark, “The threatening, ‘Thou shalt surely die,’ is addressed to Adam personally; and therefore nothing can be concluded thence, with regard to Adam’s posterity.” (Pages 93, 94.) Is this consequence good? Was not the sentence also grounded on this threatening, “Unto dust thou shalt return,” personally directed to him?
And is this nothing to his posterity? Nay, does it not from this very consideration appear, that all his posterity were concerned in that threatening, because they are all partakers of the death which was so threatened to Adam? “But we cannot gather from Romans 5, or 1 Corinthians 15, ‘that all mankind sinned in Adam,’ if we understand sinned as distinguished from suffering.” It has been largely proved that we can; and that sinning must necessarily be understood there, as distinguished from suffering. “But the Apostle says, ‘The offense of one’ brought death into the world; whereas, had all mankind sinned in Adam when he sinned, then that offense would not have been ‘the offense of one,’ but of millions.” (Page 95.) It might be, in one sense, the offense of millions, and in another, “the offense of one.” “It is true, Adam’s posterity so fell with him in that first transgression, that if the threatening had been immediately executed, he would have had no posterity at all.” The threatening! What was the threatening to them?
Did not you assure us, in the very last page, “The threatening is addressed to Adam personally; and therefore nothing can be concluded from thence with regard to his posterity?”
And here you say, Their very “existence did certainly fall under the threatening of the law, and into the hands of the Judge to be disposed of as he should think fit.” As he should think fit. Then he might, without any injustice, have deprived them of all blessings; of being itself, the only possible ground of all! And this, for the sin of another.
You close the article thus: “We cannot from those passages conclude, that mankind, by Adam’s offense, incurred any evil but temporal death.” Just the contrary has been shown at large. 3. Their Second proposition is, “The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery.” (Page 96.)
To prove this, they cite Romans 5:12; a proof which all the art of man cannot evade; and Romans 3:23, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “But this,” you say, “means only, Jews as well as Gentiles, men of all nations, have sinned.” (Page 97.) Nay, it is most certain, as Dr. Jennings observes, that he “means all men of all nations; or he means nothing to the purpose of his conclusion and his inferences. (Verses 19-22.) The Apostle concludes from the view he had given before of the universal corruption of mankind, that ‘every mouth must be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.’ (Verse 19.) From whence he draws two inferences:
(1.) ‘Therefore by the works of the law there shall no flesh be justified.’
(2.) The only way of justification for all sinners is, ‘by faith in Jesus Christ.’ For there is no difference, as to the way of justification; ‘for all have sinned, and came short of the glory of God.’ And, therefore, whoever they are whom Dr. Taylor excludes from this ‘all,’ (‘all have sinned,’) he must likewise exclude from having any need of justification by Christ.” (Jennings’s Vindication , page 50, etc.)
Be this as it may, it is certain,
(1.) That mankind are now in a state of sin and suffering.
(2.) That they have been so in all ages, nearly from the time that Adam fell. Now, if his fall did not bring them into that state, I would be glad to know what did. 4. Their Third proposition is, “Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of, the law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.” “This,” you say, “has no immediate relation to our present design.” (Taylor’s Doctrine, etc. , page 98.) But it had to theirs; which was to illustrate the preceding assertion: “That the fall of Adam brought mankind into a state of sin,” in both these senses of the word. 5. Their Fourth proposition is, “The sinfulness of that state into which man fell consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin; the want of that righteousness wherein he was created; and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.”
On the first article of this you say, “Adam’s first sin was attended with consequences which affect all his posterity. But we could not, on account of his sin, become obnoxious to punishment.” (Page 99.) By punishment I mean evil, suffered on account of sin. And are we not obnoxious to any evil on account of Adam’s sin?
To prove the rest of the proposition, they cite first, Romans. 3:10-20. On which you remark, “The Apostle is here speaking of Jews and Gentiles, not in a personal, but in a national capacity. ‘The mouth,’ says he, of all sorts of people is ‘stopped,’ and both Jews and Gentiles are brought in guilty; for I have proved that there are transgressors among the Jews, as well as among the Gentiles.” (Page 102.) Not at all. If he proved no more than this, not one person would “become guilty before God.” Not one “mouth” of Jew or Gentile would “be stopped,” by showing, “there were Jewish as well as Heathen transgressors.”
I proceed to your observations: —
(2.) “He is here speaking, not of all men, but of the Jews; of those alone who were ‘under the law,’ (verse 19,) and proving from their own writings that there were great corruptions among them as well as other people.” (Page 103.)
He is speaking of them chiefly; but not of them only, as appears from the ninth verse: “We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin: As it is written, There is none righteous,” (neither among the Jews nor Gentiles,) “no, not one.” Does this respect them in their national only, not personal, capacity? Does it prove no more than, that there were great corruptions among the Jews, as well as other people?
(3.) “The section consists of several quotations out of the Old Testament; but,
(i.) None of them, taken separately, speaks of any depravity of nature; but of habits of wickedness, which men had themselves contracted.” (Page 103.) They do speak of habits which men had contracted themselves; but do they speak of these only? The way to know this is, not to “take them separately;” not to consider the precise meaning, wherein they were occasionally spoken by David, Solomon, or Isaiah; but to take them conjointly, as they are here put together by the Holy Ghost, to form the character of all mankind.
On one of them, “separately taken,” you say, “How could God look down from heaven, to see if there were any that did seek God, if he knew all mankind were naturally disabled from seeking him?” Why not, if, whatever they were by nature, the grace of God was more or less given to all?
Though they were wholly inclined to all evil by nature, yet by grace they might recover all goodness.
(i.) That none of those texts refer to any corruption common to all mankind.” (Page 106.) Perhaps they do not, as spoken by David; but they do as spoken by St. Paul. “I conclude,
(ii.) Such a general corruption as admits of no exception was not necessary to the Apostle’s argument.” (Page 107.) Absolutely necessary; had it not included every individual person, no person’s “mouth” would have been “stopped.”
These texts, therefore, do “directly and certainly prove” that, at the time when the Apostle wrote, every individual Jew and Gentile (excepting only those who were “saved by grace”) “were all under sin;” “that there was none” of them “righteous, no, not one; none that understood or that sought after” God. This was the fact: And who can find out a more rational way of accounting for this universal wickedness, than by a universal corruption of our nature, derived from our first parent? 6. The next proof is Ephesians 2:1-3: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins, wherein, in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom, also, we all had our conversation in times past, in the desires of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Page 108.)
(1.) “Nothing is here intimated of any ill effects of Adam’s sin upon us.” No! Not if we are “children of wrath by nature?”
(2.) “The Ephesians were Gentiles converted to the faith.” Yea, and Jews also. In this very passage the Apostle speaks of both; first, the Gentile, then the Jewish, converts.
(3.) “In these verses he is describing their wretched state, while they were in Gentile darkness,” — and while they were in Jewish darkness; the Jews having been just as wicked before their conversion as the Heathens. Both the one and the other had “walked,” till then, “in the vanity of their mind; having their understanding darkened,” being equally “dead in trespasses and sins,” equally “alienated from the life of God, through the blindness of their heart:” — A very lively description, not so much of a wicked life, as of an evil nature.
(4.) “When he saith, they were ‘dead in trespasses and sins,’ he speaks of their personal iniquities.” (Page 109.) True, both of heart and life. I must make some variation in the rest of your paraphrase. “Wherein,” saith he, “in times past, ye,” Heathens particularly “walked;” inwardly and outwardly, “according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now” (still) “worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom we Jews also had our conversation; being as “dead in trespasses and sins” as you. “Therefore,
(5.) ‘When he adds, ‘And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,’ he cannot mean, they were liable to wrath, by that nature which they brought into the world.” (Page 110.) Why not? This does not follow from anything you have said yet. Let us see how you prove it now: “This nature is now no other than God’s own work. The nature of every man comes out of the hands of God.” The same may be said of those who are still “dead in trespasses and sins.” Their original nature came from God, and was no other than God’s own work; yet the present corruption of their nature came not from God, and is not his work. “Consequently, the nature of every person, when brought into being, is just what God sees fit it should be.” This is true of the original nature of mankind, when it was first “brought into being;” but it is not true of our present corrupt nature. This is not “what God sees fit it should be.” “It is his power alone that forms it.”
Yes, that forms us men; but not that forms us sinful men. “To say, The nature he gives is the object of his wrath, is little less than blasphemy.” As he gave it, it is not the object of his wrath; but it is, as it is defiled with sin. “Far was it from the Apostle to depreciate our nature.” True, our original nature; but never did man more deeply depreciate our present corrupt nature. “His intent is to show the Ephesians they were children of wrath, through the sins in which they walked.” Yea, and through “the desires of the flesh and the mind,” mentioned immediately before; “through the vanity of their mind;” through “the blindness of their hearts, past feeling, alienated from the life of God.” Is he “not here speaking of their nature, but of the vicious course of life they had led?” (Page 111.) “He well understood the worth of the human nature;”’ he did, both in its original and in its present state; — “and elsewhere shows it was endowed, even in the Heathens, with light and power sufficient to know God, and obey his will.” In what Heathens, in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, is nature now endowed with this light and power? I have never found it in any Heathen yet; and I have conversed with many, of various nations. On the contrary, I have found one and all deeply ignorant of the very end of their existence. All of them have confirmed what a Heathen Meeko (or Chief) told me many years ago: “He that sitteth in heaven knoweth why he made man; but we know nothing.” “But St. Paul says, ‘When the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, they are a law to themselves.’ This supposes, they might have done them ‘ by nature,’ or their natural powers.” But how does it appear, that, “by nature,” here means, By their mere “natural powers?” It is certain they had not the written law; but had they no supernatural assistance? Is it not one God “who works in” us and in them, “both to will and to do?” They who, by this help, do the things contained in the law, we grant, “are not the objects of God’s wrath.” “Again: He affirms, the Gentiles had light sufficient to have seen God’s eternal power and Godhead.” ( Romans 1:19-21.) They had; but how does it appear that this was the merely natural light of their own unassisted reason? If they had assistancs from God, and did not use it, they were equally without excuse. “Nay, if their nature was corrupt, and therefore they did not glorify God, they had a fair excuse.” (Page 112.)
True, if God had not offered them grace to balance the corruption of nature: But if he did, they are still without excuse; because they might have conquered that corruption, and would not. Therefore, we are not obliged to seek any other sense of the phrase, “By nature,” than, “By the nature we bring into the world.”
However, you think you have found another: “By nature , may signify really and truly . Thus St. Paul calls Timothy, gnhsion teknon , ‘his own, genuine son in the faith;’ not to signify he was the child of the Apostle, but that he was a real imitator of his faith. In like manner he calls the Ephesians, fusei tekna , ‘genuine children of wrath;’ not to signify they were related to wrath by their natural birth, but by their sin and disobedience.” (Page 113.)
This is simply begging the question, without so much as a shadow of proof; for the Greek word in one text is not the same, nor anyway related to that in the other. Nor is there the least resemblance between the Apostle’s calling Timothy his “own son in the faith,” and his affirming that even those who are now “saved by grace,” were “by nature children of wrath.”
To add, therefore, “Not as they came under condemnation by the offense of Adam,” is only begging the question once more; though, it is true, they had afterwards inflamed their account by “their own trespasses and sins.”
You conclude: “‘By nature,’ therefore, may be a metaphorical expression, and consequently is not intended” (may be in the premises, is not in the conclusion! A way of arguing you frequently use) “to signify nature in the proper sense of the word; but to mean, they were really and truly children of wrath.” (Page 114.) But where is the proof? Till this is produced, I must still believe, with the Christian Church in all ages, that all men are “children of wrath by nature,” in the plain, proper sense of the word. 7. The next proof is Romans 5:6: “While we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” You answer,
(1.) “The Apostle is here speaking, not of mankind in general, but of the Gentiles only; as appears by the whole thread of his discourse, from the beginning of the Epistle.” (Page 115.) From the beginning of the Epistle to the 6th verse of the 5th chapter is the Apostle speaking of the Gentiles only? Otherwise it cannot appear, “by the whole thread of his discourse from the beginning of the Epistle.” “But it appears especially from chapter 3:9: ‘What then? Are we,’ Jews, ‘better than they,’ Gentiles?” (Page 116, etc.) Nay, from that very verse he speaks chiefly of the Jews. And you yourself, a few pages ago, roundly affirmed that “he there spoke of the Jews only.”
And will you affirm that, in the 4th chapter likewise, “he is speaking of the Gentiles only?” Is it not manifest, that he does not speak of them at all in a considerable part of that chapter? How then does it appear, by “the whole thread of his discourse from the beginning of the Epistle, that he is here speaking, not of man kind in general, but of the Gentiles only?”
However, you boldly go on: “Having established the point, that the Gentiles have as good a title to God’s favor as the Jews.” (Page 116.)
How? Is this the only, or the chief point, which St. Paul establishes in the 4th chapter? Is not his main point throughout that chapter to prove, that both Jews and Gentiles were “ justified by faith? “ or, is he “speaking this, not of mankind in general, but of the Gentiles only?” “He proceeds: (Chapter <450501> 5:1:) ‘Therefore, being justified by faith, we,’ Gentiles, ‘have peace with God.’” In the same manner you thrust in the word Gentiles into each of the following verses. Had then the Gentiles only “peace with God?” You might with more color have inserted Jews in every verse; for of them chiefly the Apostle had been speaking. To say that “he principally speaks of and to the Gentiles, to the end of the 6th chapter,” (page 117,) is another assertion which cannot be proved. It is therefore by no means true, that “he is in this verse speaking of the Gentiles in contradistinction to the Jews.”
(2.) “By the same argument, he here considers the Gentiles only in a body, as distinguished from the body of the Jews; for so he does all along in the four first chapters.” No, not in one of them. If he had, the “mouth” of no one individual person had been “stopped.” On the contrary, he speaks both here, and all along, of every individual, that every one might believe in Him “who died for” every one of “the ungodly.”
(3.) “In this verse he describes the condition of the converted Gentiles when in their heathen state, in which they were ‘without strength,’ unable to recover themselves; they were ‘ungodly,’ yea, ‘sinners,’ and ‘enemies to God.’” (Page 118.) And were not the unconverted Jews also “sinners,” and “enemies to God, ungodly,” and “without strength” to recover themselves? These four characters, therefore, are no proof at all, “that the Gentiles only are here spoken of.” “Their sin, and enmity, and ungodliness, consisted in their wicked works.”
Primarily, in their wicked tempers. But how came all men Jews and Gentiles, to have those wicked tempers, and to walk in those wicked works? How came they all, till converted, to be “dead in sin,” and “without strength” to recover from it, unless “in Adam all died,” in a deeper sense than you are willing to allow?
You sum up your argument thus: “The Apostle is not speaking here of all mankind’s being corrupted in Adam, but of the Gentiles being corrupted by the idolatry and wickedness into which they had plunged themselves, and out of which they were unable to recover themselves, without the extraordinary interposal of divine grace.” (Page 120.)
But with regard to the Heathens, I ask,
(1.) Was this the state of all the heathen nations, or of some only?
(2.) If of some only, which were the y that were not corrupted?
(3.) If it was the state of all Heathen nations, how came it to be so?
How was it, that there was not one uncorrupted nation on earth?
(4.) How could any Heathen nation be in this state; “without strength; unable to recover themselves” from sin, without the extraordinary interposal of the divine grace? since you are clear in this, “that all the Gentiles are endowed with light and power sufficient to know God, and perform obedience to his will, by their natural powers of reason and understanding.” (Page 111.) If you say, “They were once endowed with these powers, but now they had cast them away;” I am not satisfied still. What, did all nations cast away their natural powers of reason and understanding? Surely not. But if not, how came they all to plunge themselves into this dreadful corruption? 8. Another proof is, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” ( Romans 8:7,8.)
On this you observe,
(1.) “Here is not one word of Adam, or any consequence of his sin upon us.
The plain and obvious sense of it is this: “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh,” (too weak to contend with our corrupt nature,) God hath done: “Sending his own Son,” he hath “condemned” that “sin” which was “in our flesh;” (verse 3;) hath given sentence that it should be destroyed: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;” (verse 4;) who are guided in all our thoughts, words, and actions, not by corrupt nature, but by the Spirit of God. “They that are after the flesh” — who are still guided by corrupt nature — “mind the things of the flesh,” have their thoughts and affections fixed on such things as gratify corrupt nature; “but they that are after the Spirit” — who are under his guidance — “mind the things of the Spirit;” (verse 5;) think of, relish, love the things which the Spirit hath revealed; which he moves us to, and promises to give us. “For to be carnally minded” — to mind the things of the flesh, of our corrupt nature — “is death;” the sure mark of spiritual death, and the way to death everlasting: “But to be spiritually minded” — to mind the things of the Spirit — “is life;” (verse 6;) the sure mark of spiritual life, and the way to life everlasting; and attended with the “peace” of God, and peace with God, which otherwise can have no place. “Because the carnal mind” — the mind, taste, inclination, the whole bias of our evil nature — “is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;” (verse 7;) being as opposite thereto as hell to heaven. “So then they that are in the flesh” — still unrenewed by the Spirit, still following the bent of corrupt nature — “cannot please God.” (verse 8.) Every man may see now whether this passage does not strongly illustrate the depravity of our nature. 9. The last proof of this part of the opposition is: “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” ( Genesis 6:5.) And below: “The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Verse 11.) (Page 122.) “Mankind,” you say, “was universally debauched into lust and sensuality, rapine and violence.” And how came this universal wickedness, if all mankind were quite upright by nature? You answer, “They had corrupted themselves: So the text, (verse 12,) ‘All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.’” This expression does not necessarily imply any more than that all flesh, all men, were corrupted. But taking it literally, I ask, How came all flesh to corrupt themselves? O, “by Seth’s posterity intermarrying with the Cainites.” But how came all the Cainites to corrupt themselves; and all the Sethites to follow, not reform, them? If the balance was even, if nature leaned neither way, there ought to have been as many good as bad still; and the Sethites ought to have reformed as many of the children of Cain, as the Cainites corrupted of the children of Seth. How came it, then, that “only Noah was a just man?” And does one good man, amidst a world of the ungodly, prove that the “nature of mankind in general is not corrupted;” or, rather, strongly prove that it is? It does not prove that Noah himself was not naturally inclined to evil; but it does, that the world was. “But if the corruption of nature was the reason why the old world was destroyed, it is a reason for the destruction of the world at any time.” (Page 123.) This alone was never supposed to be the reason; but their actual wickedness added thereto.
You add: “It maybe urged, that God said, ‘I will not again curse the ground for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.’ ( Genesis 8:21.) But the Hebrew particle yk sometimes signifies although. ” That does not prove that it signifies so here. But what, if it does? What, if the text be rendered, Though “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth?” Even thus rendered, it implies as strongly as it did before, that “man’s heart” is naturally inclined to evil.
The Hebrew word, translated youth , (Page 124,) is always applied to childhood or tender age; ( Isaiah 7:16;) r[n signifies a little child : And none of the texts you have cited prove the contrary. Heman, the author of the eighty-eighth Psalm, was doubtless “afflicted from his youth,” or childhood. The Babylonians (mentioned Isaiah 47:12) may well be supposed to have been trained up in the way of their fathers, from their earliest childhood: And the plain meaning of Jeremiah, ( 3:24, 25,) “Shame hath devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth: We lie down in our shame; for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers from our youth,” is, — Ever since we began to think or act, we have gone astray from God. 10. The preceding texts were brought to prove (and they do abundantly prove it) that our nature is deeply corrupted, inclined to evil, and disinclined to all that is spiritually good; so that, without supernatural grace, we can neither will nor do what is pleasing to God. And this easily accounts for the wickedness and misery of mankind in all ages and nations; whereby experience and reason do so strongly confirm this scriptural doctrine of original sin.
Yet it will not “follow, that men are no moral agents.” (Page 125.) If you ask, “Why, how are they capable of performing duty? “ I answer, By grace; though not by nature. And a measure of this is given to all men.
Nor does it follow, “that we can by no means help or hinder that sin which is natural to us.” Yes, we can. Anger, for instance, is natural to me; yea, irregular, unreasonable anger. I am naturally inclined to this, as I experience every day. Yet I can help it, by the grace of God; and do so, as long as I watch and pray.
Dr. Jennings answers this assertion more at large: “‘If sin be natural, then it is necessary.’ If by sin is meant the corrupt bias of our wills, that indeed is natural to us, as our nature is corrupted by the fall; but not as it came originally out of the hand of God. Therefore it is improperly compared to the appetites of hunger and thirst, which might be in our original nature.
Now, this bias of the will is certainly evil and sinful, and hateful to God; whether we have contracted it ourselves, or whether we derive it from Adam, makes no difference. A proud or passionate temper is evil, whether a man has contracted it himself, or derived it from his parents. Therefore the inference, ‘if natural and’ (in some sense) ‘necessary, then no sin,’ does by no means hold. “But if by sin be meant sinful actions, to which this corrupt bias of the will inclines us; it remains to be proved, that a corrupt bias of the will makes the actions necessary, and, consequently, not sinful. And, indeed, if a corrupt bias makes sin to be necessary, and, consequently, to be no sin, then the more any man is inclined to sin, the less sin he can commit; and as that corrupt bias grows stronger, his actual sinning becomes more necessary; And so the man, instead of growing more wicked, grows more innocent.” (Jennings’s Vindication, page 68, etc.) 11. That this doctrine has been long “held in the Church of Rome,” (Taylor’s Doctrine, etc., page 126,) is true. But so it has in the Greek Church also; and, so far as we can learn, in every Church under heaven; at least from the time that God spake by Moses.
From this infection of our nature (call it original sin, or what you please) spring many, if not all, actual sins. And this St. James ( 1:14) plainly intimates, even according to your paraphrase on his words: “‘Every man is tempted,’ is overcome by temptation, ‘when he is drawn away by his own lust,’ — his own irregular desire; where the Apostle charges the wickedness of men on its proper cause, — their ‘own lust.’” Very true.
And irregular desire is (not so much a fruit as a) part of original sin. For to say, “Eve had irregular desires before she sinned,” (page 127,) is a contradiction; since all irregular desire is sin. 12. Another proof that actual sins spring from original, is, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” ( Matthew 15:19.) “But what has this text to do with Adam’s sin?” It has much to do with the point it is brought to prove; namely, that actual sin proceeds from original; evil works, from an evil heart. Do not, therefore, triumph over these venerable men, (as you have done again and again,) because a text cited in proof of one clause of a proposition does not prove the whole.
But; “neither of those texts proves that all our wickedness proceeds from our being corrupted by Adam’s sin.” (Page 128.) But they both prove what they were brought to prove, — that all outward wickedness proceeds from inward wickedness. Those pious men, therefore, did not mix “the forgery of their own imagination with the truth of God.”
But “if all actual transgressions proceed from Adam’s sin, then he is the only guilty person that ever lived. For if his sin is the cause of all ours, he alone is chargeable with them.”
True; if all our transgressions so proceed from his sin, that we cannot possibly avoid them. But this is not the case; by the grace of God we may cast away all our transgressions: Therefore, if we do not, they are chargeable on ourselves. We may live; but we will die.
Well, but “on these principles all actual sins proceed from Adam’s sin; either by necessary consequence, or through our own choice; or partly by one, and partly by the other.” (Page 129.) Yes, partly by one, and partly by the other. We are inclined to evil, antecedently to our own choice. By grace we may conquer this inclination; or we may choose to follow it, and so commit actual sin. 13. Their Fifth proposition is, “Original sin is conveyed from our first parents to their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.” (Page 130.)
In proof of this they urge: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. ( Psalm 51:5.)” (Page 131.)
On this you observe: “The word which we translate ‘shapen,’ signifies to bring forth, or bear. So here it means, ‘Behold, I was brought forth, or born, in iniquity.’” Suppose it does, (which is not plain; for you cannot infer from its meaning so sometimes, that it means so here,) what have you gained? If David was born in iniquity, it is little different from being “shapen “ therein.
That the Hebrew word does not always mean “to be born,” but rather to be “shapen, formed, or made,” evidently appears from Psalm 90:2; where it is applied to the formation of the earth: And in this very text, the Seventy render it by eplasqh — a word of the very same import. It is therefore here very properly rendered “shapen;” nor can it be more exactly translated.
But “the word yntmjy properly signifies, warmed me .” You should say, literally signifies. But it signifies conceived me, nevertheless. And so it is taken, Genesis 30:38,39,41, etc.; 31:10. “Nay, it signifies there the act of copulation . So several translators render it.” (Page 132, 133.) And several render it otherwise: So this does not determine the point either way.
It must therefore be determined by the sense. Now, for what end did Jacob put the “pilled rods before the cattle?” That the lambs might be marked as the rods were. And when is it; that females of any kind mark their young?
Not in that act; but some time after, when the fetus is either forming or actually formed. Throw a plum or a pear at a woman before conception, and it will not mark the fetus at all; but it will, if thrown while she is conceiving, or after she has conceived; as we see in a thousand instances.
This observation justifies our translators in rendering the word by conceiving in all those places.
And indeed you own, “David could not apply that word to his mother, in the sense wherein you would apply it to the cattle.” You therefore affirm, “It means here, to nurse.” (Page 134.) You may as well say it means to roast. You have as much authority from the Bible for one interpretation as for the other. Produce, if you can, one single text, in which µhy signifies to nurse, or anything like it.
You stride on:
(1.) “The verse means, ‘In sin did my mother nurse me:’
(2.) That is, ‘I am a sinner from the womb:’
(3.) That is, ‘I am a great sinner:’
(4.) That is, ‘I have contracted strong habits of sin.’” By this art you make the most expressive texts mean just anything or nothing.
So Psalm 58:3: “‘The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, telling lies.’ That is, My unjust persecutors in Saul’s court are exceedingly wicked.” If this was all David meant, what need of wrz , “are alienated?” and that from the “bowels” of their mother? Nay, but he means as he speaks. They “are alienated from the life of God,” from the time of their coming into the world. From the time of their birth, they “knew not the way of truth;” neither can, unless they are “born of God.”
You cite as a parallel text, “‘Thou was called a transgressor from the womb;’ that is, set to iniquity by prevailing habits and customs.” Nay, the plain meaning is, The Israelites in general had never kept God’s law since they came into the world.
Perhaps the phrase, “from the womb,” is once used figuratively, namely, Job 31:18. But it is manifest, that it is to be literally taken, Isaiah 49:1: “The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.” For,
(1.) This whole passage relates to Christ; these expressions in particular.
(2.) This was literally fulfilled, when the angel was sent while he was yet in the womb, to order that his “name” should be “called Jesus” This is not therefore barely “an hyperbolical form of aggravating sin;” but a humble confession of a deep and weighty truth, whereof we cannot be too sensible. “But you have no manner of ground to conclude, that it relates to Adam’s sin.” (Page 136.)
But how do you prove (since you will drag this in) that it does not relate to Adam’s sin?
Here, as usual, you blend the two questions together; the ready way to confound an unwary reader. But first, to the first: “In the whole Psalm there is not one word about Adam; therefore it relateth not to him.” Just as well you may argue, “In the whole Psalm there is not one word about Uriah; therefore it relateth not to him.” The second assertion, “ There is not one word of the effects of his sin,” is a fair begging the question. “
(2.) The Psalmist is here charging himself with his own sin.” He is; and tracing it up to the fountain. “
(3.) But according to our version, he does not charge himself with his sin, but some other person. He throws the whole load of his sin from off himself, on God who shaped him, and his mother who conceived him.”
What you say might have had weight, if he had offered this in excuse of his sin, or even in extenuation of it. But does he do this? Does he, in fact, “throw the whole blame, or any part; of it, from off himself?” Just the reverse. He acknowledges and bewails his own total iniquity; not to excuse but to abase himself the more before God, for his inward as well as outward wickedness.
And yet he might, in perfect consistency with this, when God had caused “the bones which had been broken to rejoice,” cry out, “I will praise thee, O God; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;” yea, and repeat all that follows in the same Psalm; which proves so much, and no more, that every foetus in the womb is formed by the power and wisdom of God. Yet does it not follow, that the sin transmitted from the parent “must be attributed to God.” (Page 137.) “But how could he with pleasure reflect upon his formation, or praise God for it? “ As I can at this day; though I know I was “conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity.” But, “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.” I lose less by Adam, than I gain by Christ.
This also perfectly consists with the following verse: “Behold, thou desirest truth,” or, It is thy will that we should have truth, “in the inward parts;” (page 138;) thou art willing to remove all that “iniquity” wherein “I was shapen;” to “give me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me;” and in the hidden part thou hast made me to know wisdom; thou hast “shown me what was good.” So that I am every way without excuse; I knew thy will, and did it not. “But if, after all, you will adhere to the literal sense of this text;, why do you not adhere to the literal sense of that text: ‘This is my body,’ and believe transubstantiation?” (Ibid .) For those very reasons which you suggest:
(2.) The sense of, “This is my body,” may be clearly explained by other scriptures, where the like forms of speech are used; but there are no other scriptures where the like forms with this of David are used in any other sense.
(3.) Transubstantiation is attended with consequences hurtful to piety; but the doctrine of original sin, and faith grounded thereon, in the only foundation of true piety. 14. The next proof is, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” ( Job 14:4.)
On this you observe: “Job is here speaking of the weakness of our nature; not with regard to sin, but to the shortness and afflictions of life.” (Page 139.) Certainly, with regard both to the one and the other. For though, in the first and second verses, he mentions the shortness and troubles of life, yet even these are mentioned with a manifest regard to sin. This appears from the very next verse: (Page 140:) “And dost thou open thy eyes upon such a one;” to punish one already so wretched? “And bringest me into judgment with thee;” by chastising me still more? It then immediately follows, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” It does therefore by no means appear, that “Job is here speaking only with regard to the shortness and troubles of life.”
Part of the following verses too run thus: “Now thou numberest my steps:
Dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sowest up mine iniquity.” (Verses 16, 17.) Let any one judge then, whether Job in this chapter does not speak of “the sinfulness, as well as the mortality, of human nature.”
Not that he “urges his natural pravity as a reason why he should not be ‘brought into judgment;’” (page 141;) no more than David urges his being “shapen in wickedness,” as an excuse for that wickedness. Rather, Job (as well as David) humbly acknowledges his total sinfulness; confessing that he deserved the judgment, which he yet prays God not to inflict. 15. Another proof is, “What is man, that he should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?” ( Job 15:1.)
On this you observe: “‘Born of a woman,’ signifies no more than a man.”
Often it does not; but here it is emphatical. “The phrase indeed includes frailty and imperfection.” (Page 142.) How can that be? Was Adam made frail and imperfect? And have you forgot that every man is now born in as good a state as Adam was made at first? “But it is not to be understood as the reason why man is unclean and unrighteous.” From the placing of the words, one would really judge it was; and how do you prove it is not?
Why, “Job and his friends use this manner of speech in other places of this book: ‘Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?’ ( 5:17.)” Nay, this is not the manner of speech which is in question; so you are here quite wide of the mark. “However that is, ‘How can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?’ ( 25:4.)” And does not this point at original sin? You say, No: For “if Job and his friends had known that the reason of our uncleanness and imperfection was our receiving a corrupted nature from Adam, they ought to have given this reason of it.” And do they not in the very words before us? You say “No; they turn our thoughts to a quite different reason; namely, the uncleanness of the best of creatures in his sight.” This is not a different reason, but falls in with the other; and the natural meaning of these tests is, “How can he be clean that is born of a woman;” and so conceived and born in sin? “Behold, even to the moon, and it shineth not,” compared with God; “yea, the stars are not pure in his sight!” How “much less man that is a worm!” (25:6.) In how much higher and stricter a sense is man impure, that carries about with him his mortality, the testimony of that unclean nature which he brought with him into the world? “‘Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?’ ( Job 4:17, etc.)” (Page 143.) Shall man dare to arraign the justice of God; to say God punishes him more than he deserves? “Behold, he puts no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly.”
Many of these left their first estates; even their wisdom was not to be depended on: “How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay;” whose bodies, liable to pain, sickness, death, are standing monuments of the folly and wickedness which are deep rooted in their souls! “What is man, that he should be clean; and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no trust in his holy ones;” yea, the heavens “are not pure in his sight.” His holy angels have fallen, and the highest creatures are not pure in comparison of him. “How much more abominable and filthy,” in the strictest sense, “is man;” every man born into the world: “Who drinketh iniquity like water;” ( Job 15:16, etc.;) iniquity of every kind; so readily, so naturally, as being so thoroughly agreeable to the “desires of” his “flesh and of” his “mind!”
You conclude the head thus: “Man, in his present weak and fleshly state, cannot be clean before God.” Certainly as clean as the moon and stars at least; if he be as he was first created. He was “made but a little lower than the angels;” consequently, he was then far higher and more pure than these, or the sun itself, or any other part of the material creation. You go on: “Why cannot a man be clean before God? because he is conceived and born in 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.” Infirmities! What then, do innocent infirmities make a man unclean before God? Do labor, pain, bodily weakness, or mortality, make us “filthy and abominable?” Surely not. Neither could they make a man pure from sin, less pure than the moon and stars. Nor can we conceive Adam, as he came out of the hands of God, to have been, in any sense, less clean than these. All these texts, therefore, must refer to that sinful impurity which every man brings into the world.
You add: “Which is a demonstration to me that Job and his friends were wholly strangers to this doctrine.” A demonstration of a peculiar kind I think neither mathematical nor logical. 16. The last proof is, “‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ ( John 3:6)” (Page 144.) “Here, by ‘ flesh,’ Dr. Taylor understands nothing else but the mere parts and powers of a man; and by ‘being born of the flesh,’ the being ‘born of a woman,’ with the constitution and natural powers of a man.” (Jennings’s Vindication, page 78, etc.) Now, let us suppose that human nature is not at all corrupted; and let us try what sense we can make of other scriptures where the word flesh is used in opposition to Spirit, as it is here: “There is no condemnation to them who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;” ( Romans 8:1;) that is, not after the pure, uncorrupted constitution and powers of man. Again: “They that are in the flesh cannot please God;” (verse 8;) that is, they that have the parts and powers of a man. Again: “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die;” that is, if ye live suitably to the constitution and powers of your nature. Once more: How shall we understand, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;” ( Galatians 5:17;) if flesh means nothing but the pure and uncorrupted powers of human nature? “But this text ( John 3:3) is,” according to Dr. Taylor, “so far from implying any corruption of our nature, that, ‘on the contrary, it supposes we have a nature susceptible of the best habits, and capable of being born of the Spirit.”’ (Page 145.) And who ever denied it? Who ever supposed that such a corruption of nature, as for the present disables us for spiritual good, renders us incapable of being “born of the Spirit?” “But if natural generation is the means of conveying a sinful nature from our first parents to their posterity, then must itself be a sinful and unlawful thing.” I deny the consequence. You may transmit to your children a nature tainted with sin, and yet commit no sin in so doing. “Again: We produce one another only as the oak produces the acorn. The proper production of a child is from God. But if God produces a foetus which has sinful dispositions, he produces those dispositions.” (Page 146.) Your argument proves too much. It would prove God to be the author of all actual as well as original sin. For “it is the power of God, under certain laws and established rules,” which produces not only the foetus, but all the motion in the universe. It is his power which so violently expands the air, on the discharge of a pistol or cannon. It is the same which produces muscular motion, and the circulation of all the juices in man. But does he therefore produce adultery or murder? Is he the cause of those sinful motions? He is the cause of the motion; (as he is of the foetus;) of the sin, he is not. Do not say, “This is too fine a distinction.”
Fine as it is, you must necessarily allow it: Otherwise, you make God the direct author of all the sin under heaven. To apply this more directly to the point: God does produce the foetus of man, as he does of trees; empowering the one and the other to propagate each after its kind; and a sinful man propagates, after his kind, another sinful man. Yet God produces, in the sense above-mentioned, the man, but not the sin. 17. Their Sixth proposition is, “The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; ( Genesis 3:8,10, 24,;) so as ‘we are by nature children of wrath,’ ( Ephesians 2:2,3) bond-slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments, ( 2 Timothy 2:26,) in this world, and that which is to come. ( Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:23.)” In proof of the first clause of this proposition, they cite Genesis 3:8,10,24. On this you observe: “Adam and Eve by their sin did forfeit communion with God. But God did not take the forfeiture.” (Page 147.)
Surely he did, when “they were afraid, and hid themselves from his presence.” “But afterward they had frequent communion with him.” This does not prove they did not lose it before. “But their posterity did not. Abel had communion with him, and so had the Patriarchs and Prophets; and so have we at this day. So that, as we could not justly have lost this communion by Adam’s sin, it is true, in fact, that we have not lost it: We still have ‘fellowship with the Father and the Son.’” (Page 148.)
Could we not justly, by Adam’s sin, have lost our very existence? And if we had not existed, could we have had communion with God? “But we have not lost it, in fact. We still have ‘fellowship with the Father and with the Son.’” Who have? all men born into the world? all Jews, and Turks, and Heathens? Have all that are called Christians? Have the generality of Protestants “fellowship with the Father and with the Son?” What fellowship? Just as much as light has with darkness; as much as Christ has with Belial. The bulk of mankind, Christians as well as Heathens, Protestants as well as Papists, are at this day and have been ever since they were born, “without God,” — Aqeoi , Atheists, “in the world.”
We need not therefore say, “Their fellowship with God is owing to his mercy, through a Redeemer.” They have none at all: No fellowship with “the only true God, and” with “Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.” Indeed they have no great need of Jesus Christ, according to your account; seeing, “all that God’s grace doeth for us in Christ, to repair what we lost in Adam, is, raising us up at the last day!” You add, “And therefore communion with God is either the same grace which was vouchsafed to Adam, continued to us;” (to every man born into the world, as naturally as seeing or hearing!) “or, if there be anything extraordinary in it,” (which you judge can hardly be allowed!) “it belongs to the redundancy of grace, which has no relation to anything we lost by Adam.” (Page 149.) That that whole passage his relation to what we lost in Adam, has been shown already. But what conception you have of communion with God is easily seen by this wonderful account of it. “However, this text gives no intimation that Adam’s posterity lost communion with God for his sin.” It shows that Adam did so; and all his posterity has done the same. Whence is this, unless from his sin? “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” ( Genesis 3:24.)
Although God is equally present in every place, yet this was a clear token that man had not now that near communion with him which he had enjoyed before his sin. 18. Proposition. “The fall brought upon mankind God’s displeasure and curse, so as we are ‘by nature the children of wrath.’ “The text on which this is grounded, ( Ephesians 2:2, 3,) we have considered before.” (Page 150.) And those considerations have been answered at large.
You add: “How mankind could be justly brought under God’s displeasure for Adam’s sin, we cannot understand: On the contrary, we do understand, it is unjust. And therefore, unless our understanding or perception of truth be false, it must be unjust. But understanding must be the same in all beings, as far as they do understand. Therefore, if we understand that it is unjust, God understands it to be so too.” (Page 151.)
Plausible enough. But let us take the argument in pieces: “How mankind could be justly brought under God’s displeasure for Adam’s sin, we cannot understand.” I allow it. I cannot understand, that is, clearly or fully comprehend, the deep of the divine judgment therein; no more than I can, how “the whole” brute “creation,” through his sin, should have been “made subject to vanity,” and should “groan together,” in weakness, in various pain, in death, “until this day.” “On the contrary, we do understand, it is unjust.” I do not understand it is. It is quite beyond my understanding. It is a depth which I cannot fathom. “Therefore, unless our understanding or perception of truth be false, it must be unjust.” Here lies the deceit. You shift the terms, and place as equivalent those which are not equivalent. Our perception of truth cannot be false; our understanding or apprehension of things may. “But understanding must be the same in all beings.” Yes, in the former sense of the word, but not the latter. “Therefore, if we understand (apprehend) it is unjust, God understands it so too.” Nay, verily: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his thoughts higher than our thoughts.” “What a God must he be, who can curse his innocent creatures before they have a being! Is this thy God, O Christian?” Bold enough! So Lord B——, “Is Moses’s God your God? “He is mine, although he said, “Cursed be Canaan,” including his posterity before they had a being; and although he now permits millions to come into a world which everywhere bears the marks of his displeasure. And he permits human souls to exist in bodies which are (how we know not, but the fact we know) “conceived and born in sin;” by reason whereof, all men coming into the world are “children of wrath.” But he has provided a Savior for them all; and this fully acquits both his justice and mercy. 19. “So as we are by nature bond slaves to Satan: ‘And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive at his will.’ ( 2 Timothy 2:26.)” (Page 153.)
Both one and the other. But how does it appear, that he speaks this of the Gentiles only?
Without offering at any proof of this, you go on: “The clause, ‘Taken captive by him,’ is spoken, not of the devil, but of ‘the servant of the’ Lord; for thus the place should be rendered: ‘That they may awake out of the snare of the devil, being revived by him,’ that is, the servant of the Lord, ‘to his,’ that is, God’s, ‘will.’” (Page 153.)
Well, the proof. “The word zwgrew signifies, to revive; and so here, to restore men to life and salvation.” As a proof of this sense of the word, you cite Luke 5:10. But this rather proves the contrary; for there it has nothing to do with reviving. We read, in the verse before, of the “fishes which they had taken;” alluding to which, Jesus “said unto Simon, From henceforth thou shalt catch men;” take them captive in the gospel net.
Although, therefore, it were allowed, (which cannot be done,) that his related, not to the word immediately preceding, but to another which stands three verses off, yet even this would avail nothing; since the sense which you impose upon zwgrew is what it will by no means bear.
You say, indeed, “It always means, to take alive , or save alive. ” (Page 154.) It does mean, to take alive . But you bring not one authority to prove that it ever means, to save alive . It therefore “suits the devil and his snare” admirably well; for he does not take therein those who are free among the dead; but those who are alive in a natural, though dead in a spiritual, sense. “But, however this be, they were not led captive through Adam’s sin, but their own wickedness.” (Page 155.) They were “bond-slaves to Satan,” (which was the point to be proved,) through Adam’s sin, and their own wickedness. “Yea, but what an inconsistency must that be in the divine dispensations and in the Scriptures, if it can be made appear from them, that God hath, for no fault of ours, but only for Adam’s one sin, put us all into the hands of the devil; when he hath been, in all ages, providing means to preserve or rescue mankind from him?” (Page 155.) What can be made appear from the Scriptures is this: “That from ‘Adam sin passed upon all men;’” that hereby all men, being by nature “dead in sin,” cannot of themselves resist the devil; and that, consequently, all who will not accept of help from God are “taken captive by Satan at his will.” And there is no inconsistency between this and any of the Divine dispensations.
Proposition. “And justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.”
That all men are liable to these for Adam’s sin alone, I do not assert; but they are so, for their own outward and inward sins, which, through their own fault, spring from the infection of their nature. And this, I think, may fairly be inferred from Romans 4:23: “The wages of sin is death; “ (pages 157, 158;) its due reward; death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.
God grant that we may never feel it so! 20. You conclude this Part: “I cannot see that we have advanced one step further than where we were at the conclusion of the First Part; namely, That the consequences of Adam’s first sin upon us are labor, sorrow, and mortality, and no other.” (Page 162.)
The contrary to this having been so largely proved, instead of repeating those proofs over again, I shall close this Part with that beautiful description of the present state of man, which Mr. Hervey gives us from Mr. Howe’s “Living Temple.” “Only,” says he, “let me hint, that it considers the human soul as originally a habitation of God through the Spirit:” — “That he hath withdrawn himself, and left this his temple desolate, we have many sad and plain proofs before us. The stately ruins are visible to every eye, and bear in their front (yet extant) this doleful inscription: ‘Here God once dwelt.’ Enough appears of the admirable structure of the soul of man to show the divine presence did sometime reside in it; more than enough of vicious deformity to proclaim, He is now retired and gone. The lamps are extinct; the altar overturned; the light and love are now vanished, which did the one shine with so heavenly brightness, the other burn with so pious fervor. The golden candlestick is displaced, to make room for the throne of the prince of darkness. The sacred incense, which sent up its rich perfumes, is exchanged for a poisonous hellish vapor. The comely order of this house is all turned into confusion; the beauties of holiness into noisome impurities; the house of prayer into a den of thieves: Thieves of the worst kind; for every lust is a thief, and every theft is sacrilege. The noble powers which were designed and dedicated to divine contemplation and delight in God, are alienated to the service of the most despicable idols, and employed in the vilest embraces: To behold and admire lying vanities; to indulge and cherish lust and wickedness.
There is not now a system, an entire table, of coherent truths to be found, or a frame of holiness: but some shivered parcels. And if any with great toil and labor apply themselves to draw out here one piece, and there another, and set them together; they serve rather to show, how exquisite the divine workmanship was in the original composition, than to the excellent purposes for which the whole was at first designed. Some pieces agree, and own one another; but how soon are our inquiries nonplussed and superseded! How many attempts have been made, since that fearful fall and ruin of this fabric, to compose again the truths of so many several kinds into their distinct orders, and make up frames of science or useful knowledge! And after so many ages, nothing is finished in any kind. Sometimes truths are misplaced; and what belongs to one kind is transferred to another, where it will not fitly match; sometimes falsehood inserted, which shatters or disturbs the whole frame. And what with much fruitless pains is done by one hand, is dashed in pieces by another; and it is the work of a following age, to sweep away the fine-spun cobwebs of a former.
And those truths which are of greatest use, though not most out of sight, are least regarded; their tendency and design are overlooked, or they are so loosened and torn off, that they cannot be wrought in, so as to take hold of the soul, but hover as faint, ineffectual notions that signify nothing. “Its very fundamental powers are shaken and disjointed, and their order toward one another confounded and broken; so that what is judged considerable, is not considered; what is recommended as lovely and eligible, is not loved and chosen. Yea, ‘the truth which is after godliness’ is not so much disbelieved, as hated, or ‘held in unrighteousness;’ and shines with too feeble a light in that malignant darkness which ‘comprehends it not.’ You come, amidst all this confusion, into the ruined palace of some great Prince, in which you see, here the fragments of a noble pillar, there the shattered pieces of some curious imagery, and all lying neglected and useless, among heaps of dirt. He that invites you to take a view of the soul of man gives you but such another prospect, and doth but say to you, ‘Behold the desolation!’ All things rude and waste. So that, should there be any pretense to the Divine presence, it might be said, ‘If God be here, why is it thus?’ The faded glory, the darkness, the disorder, the impurity, the decayed state in all respects of this temple, too plainly show ‘the Great Inhabitant is gone!’”\parNEWINGTON, January 21.
In your Third Part you propose, First, to answer some objections and queries; and then to consider the connection of the doctrine of original sin with other parts of religion. “ Objection 1. Are we not in worse moral circumstances than Adam was before he fell? I answer: —
(1.) If by moral circumstances you mean, the state of religion and virtue, it is certain the greatest part of mankind ever were and still are very corrupt. But this is not the fault of their nature, But occasioned by the abuse of it, in prostituting reason to appetite whereby, in process of time, they have sunk themselves into the most lamentable degree of ignorance, superstition, idolatry, injustice, debauchery.” (Page 168.)
But how came this? How came all nations thus to “abuse their nature,” thus to “ prostitute reason to appetite? “ How came they all to sink into this “lamentable ignorance, superstition, idolatry, injustice, debauchery? “ How came it, that half of them, at least, if their nature was uncorrupt, did not use it well? submit appetite to reason, and rise while the other sunk? “Process of time” does not help us out at all; for if it made the one half of mankind more and more vicious, it ought, by the same degrees, to have made the other half more and more virtuous. If men were no more inclined to one side than the other, this must absolutely have been the event. Turn and wind as you please, you will never be able to get over this. You will never account for this fact, that the bulk of mankind have, in all ages, “prostituted their reason to appetite,” even till they sunk into “lamentable ignorance, superstition, idolatry, injustice, and debauchery,” but by allowing their very nature to be in fault, to be more inclined to vice than virtue. “But if we have all a corrupt nature, which as we cannot, so God will not, wholly remove in this life, then why do we try to reform the world?”
Why? Because, whether the corrupt nature be wholly removed or no, men may be so far reformed as to “cease from evil,” to be “renewed in the spirit of their mind, and by patient continuance in well-doing,” to “seek” and find, “glory, and honor, and immortality.” “
(2.) If by moral circumstances you mean, provision and means for spiritual improvement, those given us through Christ are far greater than Adam had before he sinned.” (Page 169.) To those who believe in Christ they are. But above four-fifths of the world are Mahometans or Pagans still. And have these (immensely the greater part of mankind, to say nothing of Popish nations) greater provision; and means for spiritual improvement than Adam before he sinned? “But; if, “
(3.) By moral circumstances you mean moral” (rather natural) “abilities, or mental powers;” (a consideration quite foreign to the question;) “I answer, The Scriptures nowhere compare our faculties with Adam’s. Nor know I how we can judge, but by comparing the actions of Adam in innocence with what men have performed since.” (Page 170.)
Yes, we can judge thus: There could be no defect in Adam’s understanding, when he came first out of the hands of his Creator; but there are essential defects in mine and yours, and every man’s whom we know. Our apprehension is indistinct, our judgment false, our reasoning wrong in a thousand instances. So it always was; and so it is still, after all the care a can possibly take: Therefore, “our faculties are not as sound and fit for right action as Adam’s were before he sinned.” “But any man of common understanding might have dressed and kept the garden as well as he.” I can neither affirm nor deny this; for we know not how he dressed and kept it. “Nor doth it appear, that in giving names to all the creatures, he showed any extraordinary penetration into their natures; for that the names he gave truly expressed the several qualities of them is a mere fiction, without any foundation in Scripture history, or the names of animals in the original Hebrew.” (Page 171.)
This is really strange! that any man of learning should be so hardy as to affirm this, after the numberless instances which have been produced of Hebrew names expressing the most essential property of each animal.
And is this supposition likewise “without any foundation in Scripture history?” What is that? “And the Lord God brought every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, unto Adam, to see what he would call them;” to make proof of his understanding. “And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” ( Genesis 2:19.) Now, whether those names were Hebrew or no, (which you affect to doubt,) can it be supposed that God would have permitted them to stand, if they had not suited the nature of each creature? It is bold therefore to affirm, that “many of his posterity could have given names to them as well as he; and that therefore this is not a proof that he had any capacity superior to us.” (Page 172.)
You proceed: “Surely his eating the forbidden fruit is no evidence of superior abilities.” (Page 173.) And it is no evidence of the contrary; “seeing,” as you yourself observe, “what his special temptation was, we do not know.” Therefore, neither do we know whether any of his posterity could have overcome it; much less, that “many of his posterity have overcome temptations more violent than his.” All this is talking in the dark, “not knowing what we say, neither whereof we affirm.” “And now let any man see whether there be any ground in revelation for exalting Adam’s nature as Divines have done, who have affirmed that all his faculties were eminently perfect, and entirely set to the love and obedience of his Creator.” (Page 175.) “And yet these same suppose him to have been guilty of the vilest act that ever was committed.” (Page 176.)
They suppose Adam to have been created holy and wise, like his Creator; and yet capable of falling from it. They suppose farther, that through temptations, of which we cannot possibly judge, he did fall from that state; and that hereby he brought pain, labor, and sorrow on himself and all his posterity; together with death, not only temporal, but spiritual, and (without the grace of God) eternal. And it must be confessed, that not only a few Divines, but the whole body of Christians in all ages, did suppose this, till after seventeen hundred years a sweet-tongued orator arose, not only more enlightened than silly Adam, but than any of his wise posterity, and declared that the whole supposition was folly, nonsense, inconsistency, and blasphemy! “ Objection 2. But do not the Scriptures say, Adam was created after God’s own image? And do his posterity bear that image now? “The Scriptures do say, ‘God created man in his own image.’ ( Genesis 1:27.) But whatever that phrase means here, it doubtless means the same in Genesis 9:6: ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God made he man.’” (Page 177.) Certainly it has the same meaning in both places; for the latter plainly refers to the former. And thus much we may fairly infer from hence, that “the image of God,” wherein “man was” at first “created,” whereinsoever it consisted, was not utterly effaced in the time of Noah. Yea, so much of it will always remain in all men, as will justify the punishing murderers with death. But we can in nowise infer from hence, that that entire image of God, in which Adam was at first created, now remains in all his posterity.
The words of Genesis 5:3, rendered literally, are, “He begat in his likeness, according to his image.” “Adam,” says Mr. Hervey, “was created ‘in the image of God.’ After his fall, the sacred historian varies his style, and, with a remarkable peculiarity, as well as propriety, says, ‘Adam began a son in his own likeness;’ — so it must be translated, according to all the rules of grammar, Adam being the nearest antecedent. That every reader may advert to this melancholy but important truth, it is enforced by a very emphatical repetition: ‘After his own image,’ as contradistinguished from that ‘image of God,’ mentioned in the preceding verse; which expressions are evidently intended to denote the difference between the state in which Adam was created and Seth begotten.” “The two following texts are brought by the Assembly, to show what the image of God was in which Adam was made: “‘And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him that created him.’ ( Colossians 3:10.) “‘Put on the new man, which after the image of God is created in righteousness and true holiness.’ ( Ephesians 4:24.)” (Page 178.) “I answer, These texts are parallel. ‘The old man’ means a wicked life; ‘the new man,’ a good life; to which they were formed and ‘created’ by the gospel dispensation. And this ‘new man,’ this new life, is ‘after the image,’ that is, agreeable to the nature, ‘of God.’” (Page 179.)
As you advance no proof of this perfectly new interpretation, I leave it to shift for itself.
To disprove the common interpretation, you add, “Adam could not be originally created in righteousness and true holiness; because habits of holiness cannot be created without our knowledge, concurrence, or consent. For holiness in its nature implies the choice and consent of a moral agent, without which it cannot be holiness.” (Page 180.)
What is holiness? Is it not essentially love? the love of God, and of all mankind? love producing “bowels of mercies, humbleness of mind, meekness, gentleness, long-suffering?” And cannot God shed abroad this love in any soul without his concurrence, antecedent to his knowledge or consent? And supposing this to be done, will love change its nature? Will it be no longer holiness? This argument can never be sustained, unless you would play upon the word habits . Love is holiness wherever it exists. And God could create either men or angels, endued from the very first moment of their existence with whatsoever degree of love he pleased.
You “think, On the contrary, it is demonstration that we cannot be righteous or holy, we cannot observe what is right, without our own free and explicit choice.” I suppose you mean, practice what is right. But a man may be righteous before he does what is right; holy in heart before he is holy in life. The confounding these two, all along, seems to be the ground of your strange imagination, that Adam “must choose to be righteous, must exercise thought and reflection, before he could be righteous.” Why so? “Because righteousness is the right use and application of our powers.” Here is your capital mistake. No, it is not; it is the right state of our powers. It is the right disposition of our soul, the right temper of our mind. Take this with you, and you will no more dream that “God could not create man in righteousness and true holiness;” or that to talk of wanting that righteousness in which Adam was created, is to talk of nothing we want.” (page 181.)
On Romans 2:14, you observe: “This text clearly proves that natural reason and understanding is a rule of action to all mankind, and that all men ought to follow it. This, therefore, overthrows the whole doctrine of original sin.” (Page 183.)
How do you prove the consequence? May not men have some reason left, which in some measure discerns good from evil, and yet be deeply fallen, even as to their understanding as well as their will and affections?
On Ecclesiastes 7:29, “God hath made man upright; but they have found out many inventions,” you say, — “‘Man’ here means all mankind; ‘upright,’ endued with powers to know and perform their duty.” (Pages 184, 185.) You offer no proof for either of these assertions; and without it I cannot receive them.
Again: “They,” you say, “means mankind in general.” I rather believe it means our first parents, who are by Moses likewise comprehended under the common name of man, or rather µda “Adam.” So Genesis 5:2: “God called their name Adam in the day when they were created.” And in the day that they fell, whoever reads Genesis 3, will see, “they found out,” not one, but “many inventions.” This text, therefore, in its obvious meaning, teaches both the original uprightness and subsequent fall of man.
From all these texts it manifestly appears,
(2.) That this image consisted, not only in his rational and immortal nature, and his dominion over the creatures, but also in knowledge, actual knowledge, both of God and of his works; in the right state of his intellectual powers, and in love, which is true holiness. “Objection 3. But do we not derive from Adam a moral taint and infection, whereby we have a natural propensity to sin? “I answer: We have many natural appetites and passions, which, if they grow irregular, become sinful. But this does not amount to a natural propensity to sin.” (Page 186.) But is not pride sin? Is not idolatry sin?
And is it not idolatry, to “love the creature more than the Creator?” Is not revenge sin? Is it not sin to “look upon a woman,” so as “to lust after her?” And have not all men a natural propensity to these things? They have all, then, a natural propensity to sin. Nevertheless, this propensity is not necessary, if by necessary you mean irresistible. We can resist and conquer it too, by the grace which is ever at hand.
This propensity to pride, to revenge, to idolatry, (call it taint, or anything,) cannot be pleasing to God, who yet in fact does permit; that it should descend from Adam to his latest posterity. And “we can neither help nor hinder” its descending to us. Indeed we can heap up plausible arguments to prove the impossibility of it: But I feel it, and the argument drops. Bring ever so many proofs that there can be no such thing as motion: I move, and they vanish away. “But nature cannot be morally corrupted, but by the choice of a moral agent.” (Page 187.) You may play upon words as long as you please; but still I hold this fast: I (and you too, whether you will own it or no) am inclined, and was ever since I can remember, antecedently to any choice of my own, to pride, revenge, idolatry. If you will not call these moral corruptions, call them just what you will; but the fact I am as well assured of, as that I have any memory or understanding. “But some have attempted to explain this intricate affair.” (Page 188.) I do not commend their wisdom. I do not attempt to explain even how I, at this moment, stretch out my hand, or move my finger.
One more of our assertions I must not pass over “It is absurd to say, infection is derived from Adam, independent of the will of God; and to say, it is by his will, is to make him the author of the pollution.” (Page 189.)
We answer: It is not derived from Adam, independent of the will of God; that is, his permissive will. But our allowing this, does not make him the author of the pollution. “Objection 4. But do not the vices of parents often infect their children?” (Pages 190, 191.)
I think we cannot deny it. “Objection 5. How can we account for children’s beginning so soon to sin, but by supposing they have a natural propensity to it! “I answer: Who can tell how soon they begin?” (Page 192.) Then they begin, when they first show wrong tempers; such as plain, undeniable forwardness, revenge, self-will; which is as soon as they have any exercise of reason. So that the use of reason, and the abuse, generally commence and grow up together. As soon as their faculties appear at all, they appear to be disordered; the wrong state of their powers being easily inferred from their continual wrong application of them. “But if parents were wise and virtuous themselves, and then endeavored to bring up their children virtuously, there would be less wickedness in the world.” There would: But this does not reach the point; nor, that “undisciplined children contract bad habits.” I have known wise and virtuous parents who did earnestly labor to bring up their children virtuously; and disciplined them with all possible care, from the very first dawn of reason; yet these very children showed bad tempers before it was possible they should “contract bad habits.” They daily evidenced the wrong state of all their faculties, both of their understanding, will, and affections; just contrary both to the examples and instructions of all that were round about them. Here, then, these wrong tempers were not owing to “the fault of careless or ungodly parents;” nor could be rationally accounted for, but by supposing those children to have a natural propensity to evil.
It is indeed a general rule, “Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it:” ( Proverbs 22:6) And there is much truth in that observation, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him:” (Verse 15:) That is, prudent correction is the most probable means which you can use to remove that foolishness. Yet this no way contradicts, what is matter of daily experience, that we have a natural propensity to evil. Nay, the latter of these texts strongly confirms it; for if there be no such propensity, how comes “foolishness” (that is, wickedness, in the language of Solomon) to be “bound in the heart of a child?” of every child, of children in general, as the phrase manifestly imports? It is not from education here: It is supposed to be antecedent to education, whether good or bad. “O foolishness means only strong appetite.” (Page 193.) Yes, strong appetite to evil; otherwise it would not call for “the rod of correction” or need to be “driven far from him.” “Objection 6. Might not Adam’s posterity be said to sin in him, as Levi is said to ‘pay tithes in Abraham?’ ( Hebrews 7:9.)” If the querist means, not to prove a doctrine already proved, but only to illustrate one expression by another, your answer, that “it is a bold figure,” (page 195,) does not at all affect him. It is so; but still it may be pertinently cited to illustrate a similar expression. “Objection 7. ‘But there is a law in our members which wars against the law of our minds, and brings us into captivity to the law of sin and death.’ ( Romans 7:23.) And does not this prove, that we come into the world with sinful propensities?” (Page 199.)
(1.) “If we come into the world with them, they are natural; but if natural, necessary; and if necessary, then no sin.” (Page 200.)
If the consequence were good, with regard to what is so natural and necessary as to be irresistible, yet certainly it is not good with regard to those propensities which we may both resist and conquer.
(2.) “The Apostle does not in this chapter speak of any man as he comes into the world, but as he is afterward depraved and corrupted by his own wicked choice.”
(3.) “He does not speak of himself, or any regenerate man, but of a Jew under the power of sin.” (Ibid .) Nay, your argument proves, he does not speak of any Jew; for in order to prove, “the Apostle does not speak of himself,” you say, “The persons of whom he speaks were, ‘before the commandment came,’ that is, before they came under the law, ‘once without the law.’ But the Apostle never was ‘without the law.”’ No, nor any Jew. “For he was born and continued ‘under the law’ till he was a Christian.” So did all the Jews as well as he, — “and therefore it cannot be true, that he,” or any Jew whatever, “was ‘without the law’ before he came under it.” So you have clearly proved, that the Apostle does not in this passage speak of any Jew at all.
But why do you think he does speak of Jews? nay, of them only? It “appears,” you say, “from verse 1, ‘I speak to them that know the law.’
For the Gentiles never were ‘under the law.’” Yes, they were: All the Gentiles who “were convinced of sin” were “under the law” in the sense here spoken of, under the condemning power of the law “written in their heart;” for transgressing which they were under the wrath of God. And this whole chapter, from verses 7 to 24, describes the state of all those, Jews or Gentiles, who saw and felt the wickedness both of their hearts and lives, and groaned to be delivered from it.
Many passages in your paraphrase on the former part of this chapter are liable to much exception; but as they do not immediately touch the point in question, I pass on to the latter part: — “ Verse 14: I am ‘carnal, sold under sin.’ He means a willing slavery.” (Page 216.) Quite the contrary; as appears from the very next words: “For that which I do, I allow not: For what I would, I do not; but what I hate, that I do.” “What I hate;” not barely, “what my reason disapproves;” but what I really detest and abhor, yet cannot help. “ Verse 17: ‘Now then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.’ It is my sinful propensities, my indulged appetites and passions.” (Page 217.) True; but those propensities were antecedent to that indulgence. “But the Apostle cannot mean, that there is something in man which makes him sin whether he will or no; for then it would not be sin at all.”
Experience explains his meaning. I have felt in me, a thousand times, something which made me transgress God’s law, whether I would or no.
Yet I dare not say, that “transgression of the law” was “no sin at all.”
Verse 18: “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh,” (not my “fleshly appetites” only, but my whole nature while unrenewed,) “dwelleth no good thing. For to will” indeed “is present with me;” not barely “that natural faculty, the will,” but an actual will to do good; as evidently appears from the following words: “But how to perform that which is good I find not:” I have the desire, but not the power.
Verse 19: “For the good that I would,” — that I desire and choose, — “I do not; but the evil which I would not,” — which I hate, — “that I do.”
Verse 20: “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I, but sin that dwelleth in me;” but “the prevalency of sensual affections,” (page 218,) yea, sinful tempers of every kind, “settled and ruling in my heart,” both by nature and habit.
Verse 21: “I find then that when I would do good,” when I choose and earnestly desire it, I cannot; “evil is present with me;” as it were, gets in between. “ Verse 22: ‘For I delight in the law of God, after the inward man:’ My mind, my conscience approves it. “ Verse 23: ‘But I see another law in my members, which warreth against the law in my mind:’ Another principle of action, which fights against my reason and conscience, ‘and bringeth me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members:’ Which captivates and enslaves me to the principle of wickedness.” (Page 219.) (Strange language for you to use!) “Seated in the lusts of the flesh:” Seated indeed in all my tempers, passions, and appetites, which are the several members of “the old man.” “‘O wretched man that I am l who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ (Verse 24.) He is under the power of such passions as his own reason disapproves, but is too weak to conquer; and, N. B., being a Jew, he stands condemned to eternal death by the law. How shall such a wretched Jew be delivered from sinful lusts, and the curse of the law?”
Did, then, none but a Jew ever cry out, under the burden of sin, “Wretched man that I am?” Are none but Jews “under the power of such passions as their own reason disapproves, but is too weak to conquer?” And does the law of God condemn to eternal death no sinners beside Jews? Do not Christians also (in the wide sense of the word) groan to be delivered “from the body of this death?” With what truth, with what sense, can you restrain this passage to a Jew any more than to a Turk?
I cannot but observe, upon the whole, the question is, Does not Romans 7: 23, show that we come into the world with sinful propensities? (This is all that is pertinent in the objection awkwardly proposed, page 199.) But instead of keeping to this, you spend above twenty pages in proving that this chapter does not describe a regenerate person! It may, or it may not; but this does not touch the question: Do not men come into the world with sinful propensities?
We have, undoubtedly, an additional proof that they do, in the words of Jeremiah: “‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?’ ( 17:9.)” (Page 224.) On this you descant: (One instance of a thousand of your artful manner of declaiming, in order to forestall the reader’s judgment, and “deceive the hearts of the simple:”) “Christians, too generally neglecting the study of the Scripture, content themselves with a few scraps, which, though wrong understood, they make the test of truth, in contradiction to the whole tenor of Revelation.
Thus this text has been misapplied to prove that every man’s heart is so desperately wicked, that no man can know how wicked his heart is.” O what piqanologia “persuasiveness of speech!” After reading this, I was much inclined to believe, without going a step further, that this test had been “generally misunderstood.” I thought, Probably it has been misapplied, and does not assert that every man’s “heart is desperately wicked.” But no sooner did I read over the very verses you cite, than the clear light appeared again. “‘Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.’ (Verse 6.)” (Page 225.) That man , whom we are not to trust in, means man in general, cannot be denied. After repeating the intermediate verses, you yourself add, “He subjoins a reason, which demonstrates the error of trusting in man: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?’ (Verse 9.)
This text, therefore, does not mean, Who can know his own heart, but another’s?” Whether it means one or both, it positively asserts, that “the heart” of man, of men in general, of every man, is “desperately wicked.”
Therefore, as to the main point contained therein, “Christians do not understand it wrong;” (Page 224;) neither misapply it at all.
When I say, “I feel I have a ‘wicked heart,’” (another thing which you do not understand,) “I mean this: I feel much pride remaining, in my heart, much self-will, much unbelief.” (Page 225.) Now, I really believe pride, and self-will, and unbelief to be essentially wicked tempers. Therefore, in whatever heart they remain, (and they remain in yours as well as mine,) that is a “wicked heart.”
After a long pause, you return to the seventh of the Romans, and affirm: “We cannot, from anything in that chapter, infer, that we came into the world with sinful dispositions derived from Adam; for the Apostle says nothing about Adam.” (Page 229.) He had said enough in the fifth chapter of the cause. Here he only describes the effect; the state of those who are now “brought to the birth;” but “there is not” yet “strength to bring forth.” “Nor can we infer from hence, that any man sins through a principle which it was never in his power to command; for then it would be no sin.” Upon this I would only ask, Are you assured that no man transgresses God’s law (whether you will call it sin or not) through a principle which it was never in his power to command; at least, not for any time together? Every passionate man can confute you in this. He has sad experience of the contrary.
To those objections which you have, in some sort, answered, to subjoin the following questions: — “1. Is not the doctrine of original sin necessary to account for the being of so much wickedness in the world?”
You answer, “Adam’s nature, it is allowed, was not sinful; and yet he sinned. Therefore this doctrine is no more necessary to account for the wickedness of the world than to account for Adam’s sin.” (Page 231.) Yes, it is. I can account for one man’s sinning or a hundred, or even half mankind, suppose they were evenly poised between vice and virtue, from their own choice, which might turn one way or the other: But I cannot possibly, on this supposition, account for the general wickedness of mankind in all ages and nations.
Again: “If men were never drawn into sin any other way than as Adam was, namely, by temptations offered from without, there might be something in this answer; but there are numberless instances of men sinning, though no temptation is offered from without. It is accessory, therefore, some other account should be given of their sinning, than of Adam’s. And how to account for the universal spread of sin over the whole world without one exception, if there were no corruption in their common head, would be an insurmountable difficulty.” (Jennings’s Vindication, page 110.) “2. How, then, are we born into the world?”
You answer, “as void of actual knowledge as the brutes.” (Taylor’s Doctrine, etc., page 232.)
And can you really imagine that text, “Vain man would be wise,” (evidently spoken of man in general,) “though a man be born like a wild ass’s colt,” ( Job 11:12,) implies no more than, “Men are born void of actual knowledge?” Do we need inspiration to make this discovery, that a new-born child has no actual knowledge? Is man compared to a “wild ass,” of all animals the most stupid, to teach us no more than this? “yea, a wild ass’s colt?” Does not this intimate anything of untractableness, sullenness, stubbornness, perverseness?” How keenly is the comparison pointed!
Like the ‘ass;’ an animal stupid even to a proverb: Like the ‘ass’s colt;’ which must be still more egregiously stupid than its dam: Like the ‘wild ass’s colt;’ which is not only blockish, but stubborn and refractory; neither has valuable qualities by nature, nor will easily receive them by discipline. The image in the original is yet more strongly touched. The particle ‘like’ is not in the Hebrew, ‘Born a wild ass’s colt;’ or, as we should say in English, a mere ‘wild ass’s colt.”’ (Theron and Aspasio , Dial. 13.)
Yes, “we are born with many sensual appetites and passions; but every one of these are in themselves good.” I grant all the appetites and passions originally implanted in our nature were good in themselves: But are all that now exist in us good? “If not, they become evil only by excess or abuse.”
First, this may be doubted. I do not know that love of praise, of power, of money, become evil only by abuse. I am afraid these and other passions, which we have had from our infancy, are evil “in themselves.” But be that as it may, in how few do we find even the more innocent passions and appetites clear of excess or abuse! “But all that is wrong in them is from habit.” This cannot be allowed as universally true. The little children of wise and pious parents have not yet contracted ill habits; yet before they can go alone, they show such passions as are palpably excessive, if not evil in themselves.
But; whatever they are in themselves, here is the “grand difficulty, of which you give us no manner of solution: Whence comes it to pass, that those appetites and passions which, no doubt, were at first kindly implanted in our nature by a holy God, are now become so excessive or irregular, that no one man, from the beginning of the world, has so resisted them as to keep himself pure and innocent?” “But without these appetites and passions, our nature would be defective, sluggish, or unarmed. Nor is there any one of then which we can at present spare.” We could very well spare the excess and irregularity of them all; and, possibly, some of the passions themselves, as love of praise, and love of revenge: The love of God would more than supply the place of both.
Neither does it suffer us to be sluggish or inactive; nor does calm Christian fortitude leave us unarmed against any danger which can occur. “But our reason would have nothing to struggle with.” (Page 233.) 0 yes; not only all our reason, but all the grace we have received, has enough to struggle with, even when we do not “wrestle with flesh and blood.” We are still abundantly “exercised” by “principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.” “On the other hand, we are born with rational powers which grow gradually capable of the most useful knowledge. And we under the gospel have clear ideas of the divine perfection; we see our duty, and the most cogent reasons to perform, it.” This sounds well. But will knowledge balance passion? Or are rational powers a counterpoise to sensual appetites? Will clear ideas deliver men from lust or vanity? Or seeing the duty to love our enemies, enable us to practice it? What are cogent reasons opposed to covetousness or ambition? A thread of tow that has touched the fire. “But the Spirit of God is promised for our assistance.” Nay, but what need of Him, upon your scheme? Man is sufficient for himself. “He that glorieth,” on this hypothesis, must “glory” in himself, not “in the Lord.” 3. “How far is our present state the same with that of Adam in paradise?”
I suppose “our mental capacities are the same as Adam’s; only that some are above, some below, his standard. Probably there are many in the world much below Adam in rational endowments: But possibly the force and acuteness of understanding was much greater in our Sir Isaac Newton than in Adam.” (Page 235.)
I do not apprehend this requires any answer. He that can believe it, let him believe it. “We are next to inquire upon what true grounds those parts of religion stand, which the Schoolmen have founded upon the doctrine of original sin, particularly the two grand articles of Redemption and Regeneration .”
In, what century did the Schoolmen write? how long before St. Augustine, — to go no higher? A sad specimen this of “the honesty and impartiality with which you deliver your sentiments!” 1. REDEMPTION. “Our fall, corruption, and apostasy in Adam, has been made the reason why the Son of God came into the world, and ‘gave himself a ransom” for us.”
And undoubtedly it is the reason. Accordingly, the very first promise of the Redeemer was given presently after the fall; and given with a manifest reference to those evils which came on all men through Adam’s transgression. Nor does it appear from any scripture, that he would have come into the world at all, had not “all men died in Adam.”
You yourself allow, “the Apostle affirms, ( Romans 5:18,19) that by ‘the righteousness and obedience of Christ,’ all men are delivered from the condemnation and sentence they came under through Adam’s disobedience; and that thus far the redemption by Christ stands in connection with Adam’s transgression.” (Page 238.) “But the redemption by Christ extends far beyond the consequences of Adam’s transgression.” It does. Men receive far greater blessings by Christ, than those they lost by Adam. But this does not prove, that our fall in Adam is not the ground of our redemption by Christ.
Let us once more consider the text itself: “But not as the offense, so is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace,” (the blessing which flows from the mere mercy of God,) “which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” ( Romans 5:15.) “For not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was by one offense to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.” (Verse 16.) In this respect, First, the free gift by Christ “hath abounded much more” than the loss by Adam. And in this, Secondly, “If by one man’s offense, death ” spiritual and temporal, leading to death eternal, “reigned by one” over his whole posterity; “much more they who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness,” the free gift of justification and sanctification, “shall reign in life” everlasting, “by one, Jesus Christ.” (Verse 17.) Let any one who calmly and impartially reads this passage, judge if this be not the plain, natural meaning of it.
But let us now observe your comment upon it: “Here the Apostle asserts a grace of God, which already ‘hath abounded,’ beyond the effects of Adam’s sin upon us.” (Page 239.) It has, upon them that are justified and sanctified; but not upon all mankind. “And which has respect, not to his one offense,” — (not to that only,) — “but also to the ‘many offenses’ which men have personally committee: Not to the ‘death ’ which ‘reigned ’ by him.” Yes, verily; but over and above the removal of this, it hath also respect “to the ‘life ’ in which ‘they who receive’ the ‘abounding grace’ shall ‘reign ’ with him for ever.”
Thus far you have proved just nothing. But you go on: “The death consequent on Adam’s sin is reversed by the redemption in Christ. But this is not the whole end of it by far. The grand reason and end of redemption is, ‘the grace of God, and the gift by grace.’” (Page 239.)
Infallibly it is; but this is not a different thing, but precisely the same with the “free gift.” Consequently, your whole structure raised on the supposition of that difference is a mere castle in the air. But if “the gift by grace,” and “the free gift,” are the very same thing, and if “the gift by grace” is “the grand reason and end of redemption,” then our fall in Adam, to which you allow “the free gift” directly refers, is “the reason of Christ’s coming into the world.” “But the Scriptures of the New Testament (excepting Romans 5:12-19, and 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) always assign the actual wickedness of mankind as the reason of Christ’s coming into the world.” (Page 240.)
They generally do assign this, — their outward and inward wickedness.
But this does not exclude the wickedness of their nature, springing from their fall in Adam. Rather this, which is expressed in those two places at least, is presupposed in all places; particularly in the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans, where he describes the enormous wickedness both of the Jews and Gentiles. It is true “he begins his discourse with an account of the actual transgressions of the idolatrous Gentiles.” (Page 166, etc.) Afterwards, (chapter 3,) he treats of the depravity and corruption of all mankind; and then proceeds (chapter 5.) to show, that we are all “made sinners by Adam,” and that “by his offense judgment is come upon all men to condemnation.” The Apostle’s method is clear and natural. He begins with that which is most obvious, even actual sin; and then proceeds to speak of original sin, as the joint cause of the necessity of redemption for all men. But which way can we infer, that because he begins with the mention of actual sins, in order to demonstrate the necessity of redemption, therefore he excludes original out of the account? Neither can we infer, that because “it is not expressly mentioned in other texts, therefore it is not implied.” (Page 241.) “‘But the Redeemer himself saith not one word of redeeming us from the corruption of nature derived from Adam. And seeing he spake exactly according to the commission which the Father gave him, we may safely conclude, it was no part of his commission to preach the doctrine of original sin.’ (Page 242.) Just as safely may we conclude, that it was no part of his commission to teach and make known to men the ‘many things’ which he ‘had to say to’ his Apostles before his death, which they ‘could not’ then ‘bear;’ ( John 16:12;) but which, according to his promise, he afterward taught them by his Spirit, and by them to the world. It makes no difference as to the ground of our faith, whether a doctrine was delivered by Christ himself, or by his Apostles; and whether it be written in any of the four Gospels, or of the divine Epistles. There is only this difference: The Epistles were wrote after the resurrection and ascension of Christ; therefore, after the full commencement of the gospel dispensation; whereas the discourses of Christ recorded in the Gospels were delivered before the gospel dispensation was properly begun; therefore we are to look for the peculiar doctrines of Christ rather in the Epistles than in the Gospels. However, Christ did speak of this, and referred to it more than once, during his personal ministry, particularly in his discourse with Nicodemus, and Matthew 23. But it is not surprising that he did not speak so largely of redeeming us from sin, original or actual, by the price of his blood, before that price was actually paid, as the Apostles did afterward. He considered the littleness of their knowledge, with the violence of their prejudices; therefore we have no cause to be surprised that no more is said on this head in those discourses which Christ delivered before his death. But to us he has told it plainly, and we do find the doctrines of original sin, and redemption from it by Jesus Christ distinguished emphatically in almost every page of the inspired Epistles.” (Jennings’s Vindication , page 116, etc.)
To sum up this: 1. Christ speaks very sparingly of many things, whereof his Apostles have spoken largely. 2. Yet he does speak of the corruption of our nature, (which St. Paul expressly tells us is derived from Adam,) particularly in the <402301> 23rd of St. Matthew, and the <430301> 3rd of St. John. 3. Wherever he speaks of “saving that which was lost,” he in effect speaks of this; especially Matthew 18:11, where he mentions “little children” as lost; which could not be by actual sin. 4. There was the less need of our Lord’s speaking much on this head, because it was so fully declared in the Old Testament, and was not questioned by any of those false teachers against whom he was chiefly concerned to warn his disciples.
You add: “It has been delivered as a fundamental truth, that no man will come to Christ, the Second Adam, who is not first thoroughly convinced of the several things he lost in the first Adam.” (Taylor’s Doctrine, etc., page 243.) This is a fundamental truth; none will come to Christ as a Redeemer until he is thoroughly convinced he wants a Redeemer. No man will ever come to him as a Savior, till he knows and feels himself a lost sinner. None will come to the “Physician” but “they that are sick,” and are thoroughly sensible of it; that are deeply convinced of their sinful tempers, as well as sinful words and actions. And these tempers, they well know, were antecedent to their choice, and came into the world with them. So far “every man who comes to Christ is first convinced of the several things he lost by Adam;” though he may not clearly know the source of that corruption which he sees and feels in his own heart and life. “But why does our Lord never mention Adam, or the corruption of our nature through him?” He does mention this corruption, and he presupposes it in all his public discourses. He does not mention it largely and explicitly, for the reasons above recited. “But the Apostles are wholly silent on this head, in their sermons recorded in the Acts, and in their Epistles too.” (Pages 243, 244.) Are they wholly silent in their Epistles? This is a violent mistake. And as to their sermons it may be observed,
(1.) That we have not one whole sermon of any one Apostle recorded in the Acts; nor, it may be, the twentieth part of one.
(2.) That it was not needful for them to prove what none of their hearers denied: No, not even the Heathens; even these allowed the corruption of human nature. Even these received it as an undeniable fact, Vitiis nemo sine nascitur: “No man is born without vices.” These acknowledged, (as Seneca expresses,) Omnia in omnibus vitia sunt: “All vices are in all men.” These saw there were hardly any good men to be found upon the face of the earth; and openly testified it. Rari quippe boni; numero vix sunt totidem quot Thebarum partae, vel divitis ostia Nili: “The good lie scatter’d in this barren soil, Few as the gates of Thebes, or mouths of Nile.” They had also among them some faint account of the cause of that overflowing corruption. So Horace, immediately after he had asserted the fact, — Audax omnia perpeti Gens humana ruit per vetitum nefas, — “Lawless and unrestrain’d, the human race Rushes through all the paths of daring wickedness,” — glances at the cause of it, in their fabulous manner: — Audax Japeti genus Ignem fraude mala gentibus intulit; Post ignem aetherea domo Subductum, macies, et nova febrium Terris incubuit cohors:
Semotique prius tarda necessitas Lethi corripuit gradum. “Prometheus first provk’d the heavenly Sire, Purloining Jupiter’s authentic fire:
While hasty Fate quicken’d the lingering pace Of distant death, unveil’d the monster’s face, And gave into his hands our whole devoted race.” I observe, 3. It was neither needful nor proper for an Apostle, in his first sermon to a congregation wholly unawakened, to descant upon original sin.
No man of common sense would do it now. Were I to preach to a certain congregation at Norwich, I could not say one word of Adam, but endeavor to show them that their lives, and therefore their hearts, were corrupt and abominable before God.
You conclude this head: “Guilt imputed is imaginary guilt, and so no object of redemption.” I dare not say so as to my own particular. I pray God, of his tender mercy, to free me from this and all other guilt, “through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ!” 2. REGENERATION. “Why must we be ‘born again?’” (Page 245.) You subjoin the common, but, as you suppose, absurd, answer: “Because we are ‘born in sin;’ nature is averse to all good, and inclined to all evil: Therefore we must be born again, before we can please God.”
In order to confute this, you assert, “Then it cannot be our duty to be born again; nor, consequently, our fault if we are not; because it is not in our power.” It is, by grace; though not by nature: By this we may all be born again. Therefore it is our duty; and if we fall short herein, it is our own fault. “But being born again does really signify, the gaining those habits of virtue which make us children of God.” (Page 246.) Then St. Paul ought to have said, not, “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus;” but, “Ye are all the children of God” by gaining habits of virtue!
Nay, but, according to the whole tenor of Scripture, the being born again, does really signify the being inwardly changed by the almighty operation of the Spirit of God; changed from sin to holiness; renewed in the image of Him that created us. And why must we be so changed? Because “without holiness no man shall see the Lord;” and because, without this change, all our endeavors after holiness are ineffectual. God hath indeed “endowed us with understanding, and given us abundant means:” But our understanding is as insufficient for that end, as are the outward means, if not attended with inward power.
You proceed to explain yourself at large: “Christ informs us, that ‘except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;’” (page 246;) “and thereby teaches us, — “1. That God hath erected a kingdom, united in and under him, for his glory, and men’s mutual happiness.” (Page 247.) “2. He will finally admit none into it who are not disposed to relish and promote the happiness of it.” (Page 247.) (Both these propositions I willingly allow.) “3. All wickedness is quite contrary to the nature and end of this kingdom; therefore no wicked men can be fit members of it, unless there be a full persuasion, that reverence, love, and obedience are due to God:” (I add, and unless it be actually paid him; otherwise that persuasion but increases our condemnation:) “Unless his favor is preferred before all other enjoyments whatsoever; unless there be a delight in the worship of God, and in converse with him; unless every appetite be brought into subjection to reason; “(add, and reason to the word of God;) “how can any man be fit to dwell with God, or to do him service in his kingdom?” (Page 248.) “4. It is one thing to be born into God’s creation, another to be born into his peculiar kingdom. In order to an admittance into his peculiar kingdom, it is not enough for an intelligent being to exist.” (Pages 250, 251.) I do not know that. Perhaps it is not possible for God to create an intelligent being, without creating it duly subject to himself, that is, a subject of his peculiar kingdom. It is highly probable, the holy angels were subjects of his peculiar kingdom from the first moment of their existence. Therefore, the following peremptory assertion, and all of the like kind, are wholly groundless: “It is absolutely necessary, before any creature can be a subject of this, that it learn to employ and exercise its powers suitably to the nature of them.” It is not necessary at all. In this sense, surely God “may do what He will with his own.”
He may bestow his own blessings as he pleases. “Is thine eye evil, because he is good?”
The premises then being gone, what becomes of the conclusion: “So that the being ‘born’ into God’s peculiar kingdom depends upon a right use and application of our life and being, and is the privilege only of those wise men whose spirits attain to a habit of true holiness” This stands without any proof at all. At best, therefore, it is extremely doubtful. But it must appear extremely absurd to those who believe, God can create spirits both wise and holy; that he can stamp any creature with what measure of holiness he sees good, at the first moment of its existence.
The occasion of your running into this absurdity seems to be, that you stumbled at the very threshold. In the text under consideration, our Lord mentions two things, — the “new birth,” and the “kingdom of God.”
These two your imagination blended into one; in consequence of which you run on with “born into his kingdom,” (a phrase never used by our Lord, nor any of his Apostles,) and a heap of other crude expressions of the same kind, all betraying that confusedness of thought which alone could prevent your usual clearness of language.
Just in the same manner you go on: “Our first parents in Paradise were to form their minds to an habitual subjection to the law of God, without which they could not be received into his spiritual kingdom.” (Pages 252, 253.) This runs upon the same mistaken supposition, that God could not create them holy. Certainly he could and did; and from the very moment that they were created, their minds were in subjection to the law of God, and they were members of his spiritual kingdom. “But if Adam was originally perfect in holiness,” (say, perfectly holy, made in the moral image of God,) “what occasion was there for any further trial?” That there might be room for further holiness and happiness. Entire holiness does not exclude growth; nor did the right state of all his faculties entitle him to that full reward which would have followed the right use of them. “Upon the whole, regeneration, or gaining habits of holiness, takes in no part of the doctrine of original sin.” (Page 254.) But regeneration is not “gaining habits of holiness;” it is quite a different thing. It is not a natural, but a supernatural, change; and is just as different from the gradual “gaining habits,” as a child’s being born into the world is from his growing up into a man The new birth is not, as you suppose, the progress, or the whole, of sanctification, but the beginning of it; as the natural birth is not the whole of life, but only the entrance upon it. He that “is born of a woman,” then begins to live a natural life; he that is “born of God,” then begins to live a spiritual. And if every man “born of a woman” had spiritual life already, he would not need to be “born of God.” “However, I allow the Spirit of God assists our endeavors; but this does not suppose any natural pravity of our minds.” (Page 255.) Does not his “quickening,” then, suppose we were dead; his “opening our eyes” suppose we were blind; and his “creating us anew” imply something more than the assisting our endeavors? How very slender a part in sanctification will you allow to the Spirit of God! You seem very fearful of doing him too much honor, of taking from man the glory due to his name.
Accordingly, you say, “His aids are so far from supposing the previous inaptitude of our minds” (to the being born again), “that our previous desire of the Spirit’s assistance is the condition of our receiving it.” But who gave us that desire? Is it not God “that worketh in us to will,” to desire, as well as “to do?” His grace does accompany and follow our desires: But does it not also prevent, go before, them? After this we may ask and seek farther assistance; and, if we do, not otherwise, it is given.
I cannot but add a few words from Dr. Jennings: “Dr. Taylor believes, ‘the influence of the Spirit of God, to assist our sincere endeavors, is spoken of in the gospel, but never as supposing any natural pravity of our minds.’
But certain it is, that Christ opposeth our being ‘born of the Spirit,’ to our being ‘born of the flesh:’ ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ ( John 3:6.) Therefore, the influence of the Spirit in regeneration supposeth something that we are ‘born’ with; which makes such an influence necessary to our being ‘born again.’ And if this be not some natural pravity, let our author tell us what it is. It is plain it is not any ill habit afterward acquired; for it is something that we are born with. And if to be ‘born of the flesh,’ means only ‘to have the parts and powers of a man;’ and if these parts and powers are all ‘pure and uncorrupted,’ we have no need of any such influence of the Spirit to be superadded to our natural powers. Without this, our own sincere endeavors will suffice for attaining all habits of virtue.” (Jennings’s Vindication, page 125.)
I proceed to your conclusion: “Is it not highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature is originally corrupted?” (Taylor’s Doctrine, etc., page 256.) It is; but the charge falls not on us, but you. We do not believe “our nature is originally corrupted.” It is you who believe this; who believe our nature to be in the same state, moral and intellectual, as it originally was! Highly injurious indeed is this supposition to the God of our nature. Did he originally give us such a nature as this? so like that of a wild ass’s colt; so stupid, so stubborn, so intractable; so prone to evil, averse to good? Did his hands form and fashion us thus? no wiser or better than men at present are? If I believed this, — that men were originally what they are now, — if you could once convince me of this, I could not go so far as to be a Deist; I must either be a Manichee or an Atheist. I must either believe there was an evil God, or that there was no God at all. “But to disparage our nature is to disparage the work and gifts of God.” (Page 257.) True; but to describe the corruption of our nature as it is, is not disparaging the work of God. For that corruption is not his work. On the other hand, to say it is; to say God created us as corrupt as we are now, with as weak an understanding and as perverse a will; this is disparaging the work of God, and God himself, to some purpose. “But doth not this doctrine teach you to transfer your wickedness and sin to a wrong cause? Whereas you ought to blame yourself alone, you lay the whole blame upon Adam.” (Page 258.) I do not: I know God is willing to save me from all sin, both original and actual. Therefore, if I am not saved, I must lay the whole blame upon myself. “But what good end does this doctrine promote?” The doctrine, that we are by nature “dead in sin,” and therefore “children of wrath,” promotes repentance, a true knowledge of ourselves; and thereby leads to faith in Christ, to a true knowledge of Christ crucified. And faith worketh love; and, by love, all holiness both of heart and life. Consequently, this doctrine promotes (nay, and is absolutely, indispensably necessary to promote) the whole of that religion which the Son of God lived and died to establish. “We are told, indeed, that it promotes humility; but neither our Lord nor his Apostles, when inculcating humility, say a word about natural corruption.” Supposing (not granting) that they did not, yet it cannot be, in the very nature of the thing, that any whose nature is corrupt should be humble, should know himself, without knowing that corruption. “But what can be more destructive to virtue, than to represent sin as altogether unavoidable?” (Page 259.) This does not follow from the doctrine. Corrupt as we are, through almighty grace we may avoid all sin.
But it is destructive of virtue. For “if we believe we are by nature worse than the brutes, what wonder if we act worse than brutes?” Yea, if we are so, what wonder if we act so? And this it is absolutely certain men do, whether they believe one way or the other; for they who do not believe this, live no better than those that do. Therefore, if “the generality of Christians have been the most wicked, lewd, bloody, and treacherous of all mankind,” it is not owing to this belief. But, in truth, they have not been so; neither are they at this day. The generality of Christians, so called, are perhaps but little better, yet surely they are no worse, either in tempers or actions, than the rest of mankind. The generality of Jews, yea, of Turks and Pagans, are full as “lewd, bloody, and treacherous” as they.
You go on: “It is surprising that Christians” (you mean those of them who believe original sin) “have lost even a sense of the beneficence of God, in giving them a rational nature.” (Page 260.) Nay, surely, Christians have lost that rational nature itself, or they retain it to very little purpose, if “the generality of them are the most wicked, lewd, bloody, and treacherous of all mankind!” They ought “to be humbled” for yielding to those evil propensities, which, through the grace of God, they may conquer. And they who do conquer, ought to be continually “thanking God” for this and all his benefits.
With great decency you proceed: “Who can believe that to be a revelation from God, which teacheth so absurd a doctrine? I make no doubt, this, with other like principles, have filled our land with infidels.” However, the gentlemen who disclaim these absurd principles, of original sin, redemption, and regeneration, may very easily convert those infidels; since there is scarce any room for contention left between them. “Is not this doctrine hurtful to the power of godliness, as it diverts men from the heavenly and substantial truths of religion?” (Page 261.) Just the reverse. There is no possibility of the power of godliness without it. The power of godliness consists in the love of God and man; this is heavenly and substantial religion. But no man can possibly “love his neighbor as himself,” till he loves God; and no man can possibly love God, till he truly believes in Christ; and no man truly believes in Christ, till he is deeply convinced of his own sinfulness, guiltiness, and helplessness. But this no man ever was, neither can be, who does not know he has a corrupt nature.
This doctrine, therefore, is the “most proper” of all others “to be instilled into a child:” That it is by nature a “child of wrath,” under the guilt and under the power of sin; that it can be saved from wrath only by the merits, and sufferings, and love of the son of God; that it can be delivered from the power of sin only by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit; but that by his grace it may be renewed in the image of God, perfected in love, and made meet for glory.
But “must it not lessen the due love of parents to children, to believe they are the vilest creatures in the world?” (Pages 262, 263.) Far from it; if they know how God loves both them and theirs, vile and sinful as they are.
And it is a certain fact, that no persons love their children more tenderly, than those who firmly believe this doctrine; and that none are more careful to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
But “how can young people ‘remember’ their ‘Creator’ without horror, if he has given them life under such deplorable circumstances?” They can remember him with pleasure, with earnest thankfulness, when they reflect “out of” what a “pit” he hath “brought them up;” and that if “sin abounded,” both by nature and habit, “grace” did “much more abound.”
You conclude: “Why should we subject our consciences to tales and fables, invented by Priests and Monks?” (Page 264.) This fable, as you term it, of original sin, could not be invented by Romish Priests or Monks, because it is by many ages older than either; yea, than Christianity itself.
I have now weighed, as my leisure would permit, all the arguments advanced in your Three Parts. And this I have done with continual prayer, that I might know “the truth as it is in Jesus.” But still I see no ground to alter my sentiments touching the general corruption of human nature. Nor can I find any better or any other way of accounting for that general wickedness which has prevailed in all nations, and through all ages, nearly from the beginning of the world to this day. LEWISHAM, January 25, 1757.
1. ANSWER TO DR. TAYLOR’S SUPPLEMENT.
YOU subjoin to your book a very large Supplement, in answer to Dr. Jennings and Dr. Watts. All that they have advanced, I am not engaged to defend; but such parts only as affect the merits of the cause.
AND here you roundly affirm, “No action is said in Scripture to be imputed to any person for righteousness or condemnation, but the proper act and deed of that person.” (Supplement , page 7.)
Were, then, the iniquities and sins which were put upon the scapegoat, his own “proper act and deed?” You answer, “Here was no imputation of sin to the goat. It was only a figurative way of signifying the removal of guilt from the penitent Israelites, by the goat’s going into the wilderness.” But how could it be a figure of any such thing, if no guilt was imputed to him? “Aaron is commanded to put the iniquities of Israel upon the scapegoat; ( Leviticus 16:21;) and this goat is said to bear the iniquities of the people. (Verse 22.) This was plainly an imputation. Yet it could not possibly be an imputation of anything done by the animal itself. The effects also which took place upon the execution of the ordinance indicate a translation of guilt; for the congregation was cleansed, but the goat was polluted: The congregation so cleansed, that their iniquities were born away, and to be found no more; the goat so polluted that it communicated defilement to the person who conducted it into a land not inhabited.” (Theron and Aspasio. ) In truth, the scapegoat was a figure of Him “on whom the Lord laid the iniquities of us all.” ( Isaiah 53:6.) “He bore our iniquity.” (Verse 11). “He bare the sin of many.” (Verse 12.) The Prophet uses three different words in the original; of which the first does properly signify the meeting together; the last, the lifting up a weight or burden. This burden it was which made him “sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground.” “But iniquity and sin sometimes signify sufferings .” (Supplement , page 8, 9.) Yes, suffering for sin; the effect being put for the cause.
Accordingly, what we mean by, “Our sins ‘were imputed to him,’ is, He was punished for them: ‘He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities.’ He, ‘who knew no sin,’ but what was thus imputed, ‘was made sin,’ a sin-offering, ‘for us.’” “It pleased the Lord” (your own words) “to bruise him, in order to the expiation of our Sins.” (Pages 10, 11.) “But with regard to parents and their posterity, God assures us, children ‘shall not die for the iniquity of their fathers’” No, not eternally. I believe none ever did, or ever will, die eternally, merely for the sin of our first father. “But the Scripture never speaks of imputing any sin to any person, but what is the act of that person.” (Pages 13, 14.) It was but now you yourself observed, that, by, “Our sins were imputed to Christ,” we mean, “He suffered for them.” Our sins, then, were imputed to Christ; and yet these sins were not the act of the person that suffered. He did not commit the sin which was thus imputed to him.
But “no just constitution can punish the innocent.” (Page 16.) This is undoubtedly true; therefore God does not look upon infants as innocent, but as involved in the guilt of Adam’s sin; otherwise death, the punishment denounced against that sin, could not be inflicted upon them. “It is allowed, the posterity of Ham and Gehazi, and the children of Dathan and Abiram, suffered for the sins of their parents.” It is enough.
You need allow no more. All the world will see, if they suffered for them, then they were punished for them. Yet we do not “confound punishment with suffering, as if to suffer, and to be punished, were the same thing.”
If, therefore, the children of Dathan and Abiram suffered for the sins of their parents, which no man can deny, then they were punished for them.
Consequently, it is not true that, “in the instances alleged, the parents only were punished by the sufferings of the children.” (Pages 17, 18.) If the children suffered for those sins, then they were punished for them.
Indeed, sometimes the parents too were punished, by the sufferings of their children; which is all that your heap of quotations proves; and sometimes they were not. But, however this were, if the children suffered for their sins, they were punished for them.
It is not therefore “evident, that, in all these cases, children are considered, not as criminals involved in guilt, but as the enjoyments of their parents, who alone are punished by their sufferings.” (Page 18.) On the contrary, it is very evident that the children of Canaan were punished for the sin of Ham; and that the children of Dathan and Abiram were punished with death, as “involved in the guilt of their parents.” “On the other hand, the virtues of an ancestor may convey great advantages to his posterity. But no man’s posterity can be rewarded for their ancestor’s virtue.” (Page 21.) The point here in dispute between Dr. Watts and you is, whether the thing, concerning which you are agreed, should be expressed by one term or another. You both agree, (and no man in his senses can deny,) that, in all ages, God has, on account of pious ancestors, given many blessings to their offspring. But he thinks these blessings should be termed rewards; (and so do all the world;) you say they should not. The fact is plain either way God does continually, and did in all ages, give numberless blessings to the children, on account of the piety of their fathers; and, it is certain, blessings given on account of virtue have been hitherto termed rewards, both by God and man.
You conclude this section: “Thus, it appears, the distinction between personal sin and imputed guilt is without any ground in Scripture.” (Page 22.) Just the contrary appears, namely, that guilt was imputed to the scapegoat, to the children of wicked parents, and to our blessed Lord himself, without any personal sin. The distinction, therefore, is sound and scriptural.
1. OF THE NATURE AND DESIGN OF OUR AFFLICTIONS AND MORTALITY.
THAT God designs to bring good out of these is certain. But does this prove, they have not the nature of punishments? Did Adam himself suffer any affliction, any toil or pain? Doubtless he did, long before he returned to dust. And can we doubt but he received spiritual good from that pain?
Yet it was a punishment still; as really such, as if it had consigned him over to everlasting punishment. This argument, therefore, is of no weight: “God draws good out of punishments; therefore they are no punishments at all.” However, then, the sufferings wherein Adam’s sin has involved his own posterity may “try and purify us, in order to future and everlasting happiness,” (page 23,) this circumstance does not alter their nature; they are punishments still.
Let “afflictions, calamities, and death itself, be means of improving in virtue,” (page 24,) of healing or preventing sin, this is no manner of proof that they are not punishments. Was not God able to heal or prevent sin, without either pain or death? Could not the Almighty have done this as easily, as speedily, and as effectually, without these, as with them? Why, then, did he not? Why did Adam’s sin bring these on his whole posterity?
Why should one man suffer for another man’s fault? If you say, “To cure his own;” I ask, 1. What necessity was there of any suffering at all for this? If God intended only to cure his sin, he could have done that without any suffering. I ask, 2. Why do infants suffer? What sin have they to be cured thereby? If you say, “It is to heal the sin of their parents, who sympathize and suffer with them;” in a thousand instances this has no place; the parents are not the better, nor anyway likely to be the better, for all the sufferings of their children. Their sufferings, therefore, yea, and those of all mankind, which are entailed upon them by the sin of Adam, are not the result of mere mercy, but of justice also. In other words, they have in them the nature of punishments, even on us and on our children. Therefore, children themselves are not innocent before God. They suffer; therefore, they deserve to suffer.
And here another question arises, What benefit accrues to the brute creation from the sufferings wherein their whole race is involved through the sin of the first man? The fact cannot be denied; daily experience attests what we read in the oracles of God, that “the whole creation groaneth together, and travaileth in pain to this day;” a considerable part of it groans to God, under the wantonness or cruelty of man. Their sufferings are caused, or at least greatly increased, by our luxury or inhumanity; nay, and by our diversions! We draw entertainment from the pain, the death, of other creatures; — not to mention several entire species, which at present have such natural qualities, that we are obliged to inflict pain, nay, perhaps death, upon them, purely in our own defence. And even those species which are out of the reach of men, are not out of the reach of suffering. “The lions do lack and suffer hunger,” though they are, as it were, sovereigns of the plain. Do they not acknowledge this when, “roaring for their prey,” they “seek their meat from God?” And what shall we say of their helpless prey? Is not their lot more miserable still? Now, what benefits, I say, have these from their sufferings? Are they also “tried and purified thereby?” Do sufferings “correct their inordinate passions, and dispose their minds to sober reflections?” Do they “give them opportunity of exercising kindness and compassion in relieving each other’s distresses?” That I know not; but I know by this and a thousand proofs, that when man, the Lord of the visible creation, rebelled against God, every part of the creation began to suffer on account of his sin. And to suffering on account of sin, I can give no properer name than that of punishment. “It was to reclaim offenders that an extraordinary power was exercised, either immediately by our Lord himself, or by his Apostles, of inflicting bodily distempers, and, in some cases, death itself.” (Page 25.) I do not remember any more than one single case, wherein one of the Apostles “inflicted death.” I remember no instance recorded in Scripture, of their “inflicting bodily distempers;” (the blindness inflicted on Elymas cannot be so termed, without great impropriety;) and certain I am, that our Lord himself inflicted neither one nor the other.
The citations in the next page prove no more than that we may reap benefit from the punishments of others. (Page 26.) But though either we or they reap benefit from them, yet they are punishments still. “We do not here consider death and suffering as they stand in the threatening of the law.” (Page 27.) You are sensible, if we did, all mankind must acknowledge them to be punishments. And this is the very light wherein we do and must consider them in the present question. We consider death and suffering as they stand in that threatening, “Thou shalt surely die.” That this was denounced to all mankind, we know, because it is executed on all. Therefore, considering suffering and death as so threatened and executed, we cannot deny that they are punishments, — punishments not on Adam only, but on all that in fact do either die or suffer.
To sum up this point: Although the wisdom and mercy of God do “bring good out of evil;” although God designs to extract blessings from punishments, and does it in numberless instances; yet this does not alter the nature of things, but punishments are punishments still: Still this name properly belongs to all sufferings which are inflicted on account of sin; and, consequently, it is an evident truth, that the whole animate creation is punished for Adam’s sin.
1. THE ARGUMENT TAKEN FROM THE CALAMITIES AND SINFULNESS OF MANKIND CONSIDERED.
“THE subject of our present inquiry is threefold: 1. Whether mankind be under God’s displeasure, antecedently to their actual sins. 2. Whether our nature be corrupt from the beginning of life. And, 3. Whether these propositions can be proved from the calamities and sinfulness of mankind.” (Pages 30, 31.)
Whether they can or no, they have been fully proved from Scripture. Let us now inquire if they may not be proved from the state of the world.
But you think Dr. Watts “has here laid too great stress on supposition and imagination.” In proof of which you cite from him the following words: “Can we suppose that the blessed God would place his innocent creatures in such a dangerous habitation? Can we suppose, that, among the roots, and the herbs, and the trees, which are good for food, the great God would have suffered deadly poison to spring up here and there? Would there have been any such creatures in our world as bears and tigers? Can we ever imagine the great and good God would have appointed men to be propagated in such a way as would necessarily give such exquisite pain and anguish to the mothers that produce them, if they had been all accounted in his eyes a race of holy and sinless beings?” (Page 31.)
I answer, It is not true, “that too great stress,” or any stress at all, is “here laid on mere supposition and imagination.” Your catching at those two words, suppose and imagine , will by no means prove it; for the meaning of them is plain. “Can we suppose the blessed God would do this?” is manifestly the same with, “How can we reconcile it with his essential attributes?” In like manner, “Can we ever imagine ?” is plainly equivalent with, “Can we possibly conceive?” So that the occasional use of these words does not infer his laying any stress on supposition and imagination.
When, therefore, you add, “Our suppositions and imaginations are not a just standard by which to measure the divine dispensations,” (page 32,) what you say is absolutely true, but absolutely foreign to the point.
Some of the questions which you yourself ask, to expose his it is not so easy to answer: “Would innocent creatures have been thrust into the world in so contemptible circumstances, and have been doomed to grow up so slowly to maturity and the use of reason? Would they, when grown up, have been constrained to spend so much time in low and servile labor?
Would millions have been obliged to spend all their days, from early morn until evening, in hewing stone, sawing wood, heaving, rubbing, or beating the limb of an oak, or a bar of iron?” (Page 33.) I really think they would not. I believe all this toil, as well as the pain and anguish of women in child-birth, is an evidence of the fall of man, of the sin of our first parents, and part of the punishment denounced and executed, first on them, and then on all their posterity.
You add: “He doth not consider this world as a state of trial, but as if it ought to have been a seat of happiness.” (Pages 34, 35.) There is no contrariety between these: It might be a state of trial and of happiness too.
And such it certainly was to Adam in Paradise; whether he was holy or no, he was undoubtedly happy. A state of trial, therefore, does not necessarily imply any kind or degree of natural evil; and, accordingly, the Creator himself assures us, there was none originally in his creation. For so I read at the conclusion of it: “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” ( Genesis 1:31.) “But natural evil may be mixed with a state of trial; consequently this world could not be built for a seat of happiness.” Admirable drawing of consequences! It may be; therefore, it could not be otherwise. Whatever may be, God himself here tells us what was. And from his own declaration, it is infallibly certain, there was no natural evil in the world, until it entered as the punishment of sin. “Neither doth he take a future state into his representation.” (Page 36.)
No, nor is there any need he should, when he is representing the present state of the world as a punishment of Adam’s sin.” “Nor doth he take into his argument the goodness of God.” (Page 37.) Not into this argument; that is of after consideration. So the texts you have heaped together on this head also are very good; but what do they prove? “He supposes our sufferings to be mere punishments.” I suppose they are punishments mixed with mercy. But still they are punishments; they are evils inflicted on account of sin. “We find, in fact, that the best of men may be made very unhappy, by calamities and oppressions.” (Page 39.) It cannot be. The best of men cannot be made unhappy by any calamities or oppressions whatsoever; for they “have learned in every” possible “state, therewith to be content.”
In spite of all calamities, they “rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks.” “From punishments inflicted on particular persons, he infers that all men are under the wrath of God. But to infer the state of the whole from the case of some is not a fair way of arguing.” (Page 40.) No. The punishments inflicted on particular persons prove nothing, but with regard to those on whom they are inflicted. If, therefore, some men only suffer and die, this proves nothing with regard to the rest. But if the whole of mankind suffer and die, then the conclusion reaches all men. “He is not quite just, in pronouncing the present form of the earth ‘irregular, abrupt, and horrid;’ and asking, ‘Doth it not bear strongly on our sight, the ideas of ruin and confusion, in vast broken mountains, dreadful cliffs and precipices, immense extents of waste and barren ground?’ If this be the case, how can ‘the invisible things of God’ be ‘clearly seen from’ such a ruined ‘creation?”’ (Page 41.) Perfectly well. “His eternal power and Godhead,” the existence of a powerful and eternal Being, may still be inferred from these his works, grand and magnificent, though in ruin. Consequently, these leave the Atheist without excuse. And whatever objections he might form (as Lucretius actually does) from these palpable blemishes and irregularities of the terraqueous globe, the scriptural account of natural, flowing from moral, evil, will easily and perfectly solve them; all which is well consistent with the words of the Psalmist: “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches!” (Page 42.) So undoubtedly it is, though it bears so visible signs of ruin and devastation. “We have no authority from Scripture to say, that the earth, in its present constitution, is at all different from what it was at its first creation.”
Certainly we have, if the Scripture affirms that God “said,” after Adam sinned, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;” and, that “the earth was of old, standing out of the water, and in the water,” till God destroyed it for the sin of its inhabitants.
You go on: “I cannot agree, ‘that disease, anguish, and death have entered into the bowels and veins of multitudes, by an innocent and fatal mistake of pernicious plants and fruits for proper food.’” (Page 43.) Why not?
Doubtless, multitudes also have perished hereby, if we take in the account of all ages and nations; multitudes, also, have been the living prey of bears and tigers, wolves and lions; and multitudes have had their flesh and bones crushed and churned between the jaws of panthers and leopards, sharks and crocodiles. And would these things have come upon mankind, were it not on account of Adam’s sin?
Yet you think, we have “now a more extensive dominion over all creatures, than Adam had even in his innocence, because we have the liberty of eating them, which Adam never had.” (Page 44.) This will not prove the point.
That I have liberty to eat a lamb, does not prove that I have dominion over a lion. Certainly I have not dominion over any creature which I can neither govern nor resist; yea, and if the dread of me is on every beast and fowl, this does not prove that I have any dominion over them. I know, on the contrary, that not only a tiger or a bear, but even a dove, will not stoop to my dominion. “However, we have no authority to say, man himself was cursed, though the ground was.” (Pages 45, 46.) Yes, we have, — the authority of God himself: “Cursed is every man that continueth not in all things” which God hath commanded. The moment, therefore, that he sinned, Adam fell under this curse. And whether the toil and death to which he and his posterity were sentenced, and the pain of child-birth, be termed curses or no, sure it is, they are punishments, and heavy ones too; though mercy is often mixed with judgment. (Pages 47-50.)
The main argument follows, taken from the state of mankind in general, with regard to religion. But you say, “It is impossible we should make a just estimate of the wickedness of mankind.” (Page 51.) Yes, an exactly just estimate of the precise degree of wickedness in the whole world; but it is very possible, nay, very easy, to make an estimate in the gross, with such a degree of justness as suffices for the present question.
Indeed you “think we carry our censures of the Heathens too far.” I dare not carry them so far as to say, no Heathen shall be saved. But this I say; I never knew an Heathen yet (and I have personally known many out of various nations) who was not a slave to some gross vice or other. Bad, therefore, as nominal Christians are, I cannot yet place them on a level with the Heathens; not even with the mild, courteous, conversable Heathens who border on Georgia and Carolina. Much less would I say, “Possibly the Heathens may be less vicious than the Christian world in general.” If I believed this, I should bid adieu to Christianity, and commence Heathen without delay. “But if we allow mankind to be ever so wicked, suppose there is not one upon earth who is truly righteous, it will not follow that men are naturally corrupt; for a sinful action does not infer a sinful nature. If it does, then Adam brought a sinful nature with him into the world. But if we cannot infer from Adam’s sin, that his nature was originally corrupt, neither can we infer from the wickedness of all mankind, be it ever so great, that they have a sinful nature.” (Pages 52, 53.)
The consequence is not good: “If one man’s committing a sin does not prove that he was naturally inclined to evil, then the wickedness of all mankind for six thousand years will not prove that they are naturally inclined to evil.” For we may easily account for one man’s committing sin, though he was not naturally inclined to evil; but not so easily, for “all flesh corrupting themselves,” for the wickedness of all mankind in all ages. It is not possible rationally to account for this, for the general wickedness of mankind; for such a majority of men, through all generations, being so corrupt; but on the supposition of their having a corrupt nature. Sin in one or a few cases, does not prove a sinful nature; but sin over-spreading the earth, does. Nor is your argument drawn from the sin of the angels, (page 54, 55,) of any more force than that drawn from the sin of Adam, unless you can prove that as great a majority of angels as of men have rebelled against their Creator. “Again: If our first parents felt fear and shame, and yet their nature was not originally corrupt, then it will not follow that ours is so, notwithstanding our uneasy and unruly passions.” Empty sound!
Had any one said to Adam, “Your nature was originally corrupt, for you feel uneasy and unruly passions;” would he not readily have answered, “But these begin at such an hour; till then my nature was without either pain or corruption.” Apply this to any child of Adam; and if he can answer in like manner, “Till such an hour no uneasy or unruly passion had any place in my breast;” we will then grant, these passions no more prove a corrupt nature in the sons than in their first father. But no man can answer thus.
You, and I, and every man, must acknowledge, that uneasy and unruly passions are coeval with our understanding and memory at least, if not with our very being. “Again: Adam by his sin brought sufferings on himself and his posterity. Yet it does not follow, that his nature was corrupt.
Therefore, though others by their sins bring sufferings on themselves and their posterity, it will not follow that their nature is corrupt, or under the displeasure of God.” Two very different things are here blended together. The corruption of their nature is one thing, the displeasure of God another. None affirms that those sufferings which men by their sins bring on themselves or posterity prove that their nature is corrupt. But do not the various sufferings of all mankind prove that they are under the displeasure of God? It is certain no suffering came upon Adam till he was under the displeasure of God.
Again: “If our first parents, by their sin, brought suffering both on themselves and others, and yet their nature was not originally corrupt, nor under the displeasure of God, it clearly follows that the nature of those who suffer purely in consequence of their sin is not originally corrupt, nor are they under God’s displeasure.” This argument is bad every way. For, 1. At the time when Adam brought the sentence of suffering both on himself and others, his nature was corrupt, and he was under the actual displeasure of God. But, 2. Suppose it were otherwise, all you could possibly infer, with regard to his posterity, is, that their suffering does not prove their corruption, or their being under the displeasure of God. How could you think their suffering would prove them not corrupt, not under God’s displeasure Therefore, neither this nor the preceding argument (seeing both are utterly inconclusive) “take off anything that Dr. Watts has said,” touching the present state of the world, as a proof of God’s displeasure, and the natural corruption of man. So far, therefore, is “his argument from the sinfulness and misery of mankind from being altogether insufficient in every part,” that it is strong and conclusive, anything you have advanced to the contrary notwithstanding.
You add: “Suffering may happen where there is no sin; as in the case of brutes and infants; or where there is the most perfect innocence; as in the case of our blessed Lord.” Absolutely true; that is, where there is no personal sin, but only sin imputed. There was no personal sin in our blessed Lord; there can be none either in brutes or infants. He suffered, therefore, for the sins of others, which were thus imputed to him; as is the sin of Adam to infants, who suffer death through him; and, in some sense, to the whole creation; which was “made subject to vanity, not willingly,” but on account of his transgression. But where there is no sin, either personal or imputed, there can be no suffering. “I may add, from the present state of things, a directly opposite argument may be taken: From the enjoyments and comforts, the good things and blessings, which abound in the world, I might ask, are these creatures, so well provided for, under God’s displeasure? Are they not the care of his goodness? Does he not love them, and delight to do them good?” (Pages 58-61.) I answer, God does still give us many good things, many enjoyments, comforts, and blessings. But all these are given through the “Seed of the woman;” they are all the purchase of his blood. Through Him we are still the care of the divine goodness, and God does delight to do us good: But this does not at all prove, either that we have not a sinful nature, or that we are not, while sinful, under his displeasure.
1. SOME CONSEQUENCES OF THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
“BY this doctrine some have been led to maintain, 1. That men have not a sufficient power to perform their duty. But if so, it ceases to be their duty.” (Pages 63-69.) I maintain, that men have not this power by nature: But they have or may have it by grace; therefore it does not cease to be their duty. And if they perform it not, they are without excuse. “Hence some maintain, 2. That we have no reason to thank our Creator for our being.” (Pages 70-73.) He that will maintain it, may. But it does by no means follow from this doctrine; since, whatever we are by nature, we may by grace be children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. “But unthankfulness is a natural consequence of this doctrine, which greatly diminishes, if not totally excludes, the goodness and mercy of God.” (Page 74.) St. Paul thought otherwise. He imagined the total ungodliness and impotence of our nature to be the very thing which most of all illustrated the goodness and mercy of God: “For a good man,” says he, “peradventure one would even dare to die. But God commendeth,” unspeakably, inconceivably, beyond all human precedent, “his love to us; in that while we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Here is the ground, the real and the only ground, for true Christian thankfulness: “Christ died for the ungodly that were without strength;” such as is every man by nature. And till a man has been deeply sensible of it, he can never truly thank God for his redemption; nor consequently, for his creation; which is, in the event, a blessing to those only who are “created anew in Christ Jesus.” “Hence, 3. Some have poured great contempt upon human nature: Whereas God himself does not despise mankind, but thinks them worthy of his highest regards.” (Page 75.) To describe human nature as deeply fallen, as far removed both from virtue and wisdom, does not argue that we despise it.
We know by Scripture, as well as by sad experience, that men are now unspeakably foolish and wicked. And such the Son of God knew them to be, when he laid down his life for them. But this did not hinder him from loving them, no more than it does any of the children of God.
You next consider what Dr. Watts observes with regard to infants. “Mankind,” says he, “in its younger years, before it is capable of proper moral action, discovers the principles of iniquity and the seeds of sin.
What young ferments of spite and envy, what native malice and rage, are found in the little hearts of infants, and sufficiently discovered by their little hands and eyes, and their wrathful countenances, even before they can speak!” You answer, “Our Lord gave us different ideas of them, when he taught his Apostles to become ‘as little children.’” (Pages 77-82.) Not at all. They may be imitable in some respects, and yet have all the tempers above described. And it is certain they have; as any impartial observer will be convinced by his own eyes. Nor is this any way contradicted by St. Paul’s words: “In wickedness,” kakia “be ye children,” ( 1 Corinthians 14:20) — untaught, inexperienced; or by those of David, “My soul is even as a weaned child.” ( <19d102> Psalm 131:2.) “But we discover in them also the noble principles of reason and understanding, with several tempers which are capable of improvement, whereby they may be trained up in a good way; and numbers in all ages of the world have risen to very considerable degrees of excellence.” All this is true; but it is not at all inconsistent with the account of them given above; by which it clearly appears, that they are strongly inclined to evil, long before any ill habits can be contracted.
A GENERAL AGREEMENT TAKEN FROM WHAT GOD HAS DECLARED CONCERNING MANKIND AT THE RESTORATION OF THE WORLD AFTER THE DELUGE.
“THERE are three passages from which Divines infer the excellency of Adam’s state and nature above ours: 1. ‘And God blessed them, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.’ ( Genesis 1:28.)” (Page 84.) With this I have nothing to do; for I infer nothing from it, with regard to the present question. “2. ‘Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.’ 3. ‘God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him.’ (Verse 27.) From these three particulars they deduce the superiority of Adam’s nature above ours. But the very same marks of excellence are more expressly pronounced by God upon the human nature, when the race of mankind was to be propagated anew from Noah and his sons.” (Page 85.) 1. “And God blessed Noah and his sons.” ( Genesis 9:1.) With regard to this whole passage, I must observe, that God did not pronounce any blessing at all, either on him or them, till Noah had “built an altar unto the Lord, and” had “offered burnt-offerings on the altar.” Then it was that “the Lord smelled a sweet savor;” accepted the sacrifice which implied faith in the promised Seed; and for His sake restored, in some measure, the blessing which he had given to Adam at his creation; “and said, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” — On this, I need only observe, had Adam stood, or had not his fall affected his posterity, there would have been no need of this; for they would have “multiplied and replenished the earth” in virtue of the original blessing. 2. Verses 2, 3. “The fear of you, and the dread of you, shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, and upon all that moveth upon the earth; into your hands they are delivered: Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” On this likewise I would observe, What need was there of any such power over the creatures to be given to man, if he had not forfeited his former power? Had man remained subject to God, the creatures would have remained subject to him, by virtue of God’s original constitution. And why was it, but because man had lost this power, that God here in some degree restores it?
But hence you “infer that all that power is restored, yea, more than all; that we have a more extensive dominion granted to us over the brutal world, than was originally given to Adam.” (Page 86.) It has been commonly thought, that Adam had full dominion over the creatures, subject to him by a kind of instinct; whereas we have only so far power over them, that by labor and vigilance we may use or subdue them. But how do you prove that we have a fuller dominion than he had? By those words: “The fear and the dread of you shall be upon all: Into your hands they are delivered; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” Nay, “the fear and the dread of you shall be upon them,” does not imply any dominion at all. A wolf may fear me, who yet does not obey me. I dread a viper; but I do not obey it. And those words, “Into your hands they are delivered,” are plainly equivalent with, “I have given you all things, even as the green herb;” namely, “for food;” you may feed on any of them. So far therefore is the text from expressly pronouncing “a more extensive dominion given to Noah over the brutal world than was originally given to Adam,” that it does not express any proper dominion at all. 3. Verse 6. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.
For in the image of God made he man;” namely, at the creation. And some remains of the natural image of God, as we are spiritual and immortal beings, are even now to be found in every man, sufficient to justify the putting a murderer to death. St. James alludes to the same scripture, when he says, “Therewith bless we God, and curse men, who were made” (touv gegonotav , not are made ) “after the similitude of God.” ( 3:9.) But what does all this prove? that the being “created in the image of God,” “is more expressly pronounced upon Noah and his sons, than it was originally on Adam?” I think no man of sense will say this in cool blood.
Of “the three particulars,” then, which you brought to prove the superiority of Noah over Adam in innocence, the First proves no more than that God gave to both the blessing of fruitfulness; the Second, far from proving that Noah had a more extensive dominion over the brute creation than Adam, hardly proves that he had any dominion over them at all; and the Third proves only this, — that the image of God, wherein man was made at first, is not totally lost now.
Yet you say, “These three particulars contain all the privileges conferred on Adam at first.” And every one of these is “expressly repeated, and more emphatically and extensively pronounced upon man, after the judgment passed on Adam had come upon his posterity.” (Page 87.) Expressly, more emphatically, more extensively! Where I am sure, not in the Bible.
However, you pompously add, (sicut tuus est mos, ) “This is to me a clear and undoubted demonstration, — “1. That ‘the judgment which came upon all men to condemnation,’ did noways alter the primary relation in which God stood to man, and man to God.” Certainly it was altered thus far, God was a condemner, and man was condemned. And though “God is still the God and Father of mankind,” yet it cannot be said that he is so to unregenerate men, — men who are as yet “dead in sin, and children of wrath,” — “as much,” or in the same sense, “as he was to Adam in innocence.” Adam then was surely “the son of God” as no other man is, till “born of the Spirit.” The power to become the sons of God is now given to none till they “believe on his name. ” “2. That the love, regards, and providence of God toward mankind in general are still the very same as to man at his first formation.” (Page 88.)
His providence is still over all his works: But he cannot regard or delight in sinful man, in the very same manner wherein he delighted in him when innocent. “3. That our nature, as derived from Noah, has just the same endowments, natural and moral, with which Adam was created.” This does not follow from anything that has yet been said. If it stands of itself, it may. “4. That whatever came upon us from ‘the judgment to condemnation,’ came no farther than was consistent with that blessing, pronounced upon Noah as well as Adam, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’” This is undoubtedly true; otherwise, the human species could not have been continued. “So that ‘the condemnation which came upon all men,’ cannot infer the ‘wrath’ of God upon mankind;” (it may, notwithstanding that they “increase and multiply;” it must, if they are “by nature children of wrath;”) “but only as subjecting us to such evils as were perfectly consistent with his blessing, declared to Adam as soon as he came out of his Maker’s hands;” (page 89;) (namely, with the blessing, “Increase and multiply;) “and, consequently, to such evils as God might justly have subjected mankind to, before Adam sinned.”
Whether God could justly have done this, or not, what a consequence is this! — “If God gave that blessing, ‘Increase and multiply,’ to men in general, as well as he did to Adam, then men in general are not ‘children of wrath’ now, any more than Adam was at his creation!” “5. It is no less evident, that when St. Paul says, ‘By the disobedience of one many,’ or all, ‘were made sinners,’ he cannot mean they ‘were made sinners’ in any sense inconsistent with the blessing pronounced on man in innocence.” True; not in any sense inconsistent with that blessing, “Increase and multiply.” But this blessing is no way inconsistent with their being “by nature children of wrath.” “From all which I conclude, that our state with regard to the blessing of God, and the dignity and faculties of our nature, unless debased by our own sins, is not inferior to that in which Adam was created.” (Pages 90-93.) Be this so or not, it cannot be concluded from anything that has gone before. But we may still believe, that men in general are “fallen short of the glory of God;” are deprived of that glorious image of God wherein man was originally created.
THE NOTION OF
ADAM’S BEING A FEDERAL HEAD OR REPRESENTATIVE OF MANKIND CONSIDERED. f38 MY reason for believing he was so, in some sense, is this: Christ was the representative of mankind, when God “laid on him the iniquities of us all, and he was wounded for our transgressions.” But Adam was a type or figure of Christ; therefore, he was also, in some sense, our representative; in consequence of which, “all died” in him, as “in Christ all shall be made alive.”
But as neither representative, nor federal head, are scripture words, it is not worth while to contend for them. The thing I mean is this: The state of all mankind did so far depend on Adam, that, by his fall, they all fell into sorrow, and pain, and death, spiritual and temporal. And all this is noways inconsistent with either the justice or goodness of God provided all may recover through the Second Adam, whatever they lost through the first; nay, and recover it with unspeakable gain; since every additional temptation they feel, by that corruption of their nature which is antecedent to their choice, will, if conquered by grace, be a means of adding to that “exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
This single consideration totally removes all reflections on the divine justice or mercy, in making the state of all mankind so dependent on the behavior of their common parent; for not one child of man finally loses thereby, unless by his own choice; and every one who “receives the grace of God in Christ,” will be an unspeakable gainer. Who then has any reason to complain, even of having a nature inclined to evil? seeing the more opportunities he has of fighting, the more of conquering; and seeing, the greater is the difficulty of obtaining the victory, the brighter is the crown of glory.
But if Adam and Christ did not stand or fall, obey and suffer, for mankind, how can the death of others be the consequence of Adam’s offense; the life of others, the consequence of Christ’s obedience? How could all men be, in any sense, constituted sinners by the one, or constituted righteous by the other?
To explain this a little further in Mr. Hervey’s words: “By federal head, or representative , I mean, what the Apostle teaches, when he calls Christ, ‘the Second Man,’ and ‘the last Adam.’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:47.) The last !
How? Not in a numerical sense; not in order of time: But in this respect, — that, as Adam was a public person, and acted in the stead of all mankind, so Christ, likewise, was a public person, and acted in behalf of all his people; that as Adam was the first general representative of mankind, Christ was the second and the last; (there never was, and never will be, any other;) that what they severally did in this capacity, was not intended to terminate in themselves, but to affect as many as they severally represented. “This does not rest on a single text, but is established again and again in the same chapter. The divinely-wise Apostle, foreseeing the prejudices which men would entertain against this doctrine, as lying quite out of the road of reason’s researches, has inculcated and re-inculcated this momentous point: ‘Through the offense of one, many are dead; — the judgment was by one to condemnation; — by one man’s offense death reigned by one; — by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation;’ and that there may remain no possibility of mistaking his meaning, or eluding his argument, he adds, ‘By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.’ All these expressions demonstrate, that Adam (as well as Christ) was a representative of all mankind; and that what he did in this capacity did not terminate in himself, but affected all whom he represented.”
After vehemently caviling at the terms, you yourself allow the thing. You say, “If what was lost by ‘the disobedience of one’ person might afterward be recovered by ‘the obedience’ of another, then matters would have stood upon an equal footing.” (Page 113.) And this is, indeed, the truth. For “all that was lost to us by Adam’s ‘disobedience’ is fully recovered by Christ’s ‘obedience;’ however we denominate the relation in which the one and the other stands to us.”
In this we agree; but not in what follows: “By law , in the fifth of the Romans, as in several other places, the Apostle does not mean, barely a rule of duty; but such a rule, with the penalty of death threatened to every transgression of it. Such was the law given by Moses;” that is, “a rule, to every transgression of which the penalty of death was threatened.” (Pages 114, 115.) Not so; there were a thousand transgressions of it, to which death was not threatened. Observe: By death , we now mean temporal death , according to the whole tenor of your argument. “But is it not said, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the law to do them?’” It is. But whatever this curse implied, it did not imply temporal death. For a man might neglect to do many “things written in the law,” and yet not be punishable with death.
Neither can I agree with your interpretation of Romans 7:9: “‘I was alive without the law once;’ namely, before the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. The Jew was then alive; that is, because he was not then under the law, he was not slain by his sin. His sin was not so imputed to him as to subject him to death. ‘But when the commandment came,’ with the penalty of death annexed, ‘sin revived,’ — acquired full life and vigor,” — (How so? One would have expected just the contrary!) “‘and I died;’ that is, was a dead man in law, upon the first transgression I committed.” (Page 116.) Beside many other objections to this strange interpretation, an obvious one is this: It supposes every transgression punishable with death. But this is a palpable mistake: Therefore, all that is built on this foundation falls to the ground at once.
OF THE FORMATION OF OUR NATURE IN THE WOMB.
F39 BEFORE I say anything on this head, I must premise, that there are a thousand circumstances relating to it, concerning which I can form no conception at all, but am utterly in the dark. I know not how my body was fashioned there; or when or how my soul was united to it: And it is far easier, in speaking on so abstruse a subject to pull down, than to build up. I can easily object to my hypothesis which is advanced; but cannot easily defend any.
And if you ask me, how, in what determinate manner, sin is propagated; how it is transmitted from father to son: I answer plainly, I cannot tell; no more than I can tell how man is propagated, how a body is transmitted from father to son. I know both the one and the other fact; but I can account for neither.
Thus much, however, is plain: That “God is the maker of every man who comes into the world.” (Page 138.) For it is God alone who gives man power to propagate his species. Or rather, it is God himself who does the work by man as an instrument; man (as you observed before) having no other part in producing man, than the oak has in producing an acorn. God is really the producer of every man, every animal, every vegetable in the world; as he is the true primum mobile , the spring of all motion throughout the universe. So far we agree. But when you subsume, “If it is the power of God whereby a sinful species is propagated, whereby a sinful father begets a sinful son, then God is the author of sin; that sinfulness is chargeable upon him:” Here we divide; I cannot allow the consequence, because the same argument would make God chargeable with all the sinful actions of men. For it is the power of God whereby the murderer lifts up his arm, whereby the adulterer perpetrates his wickedness; full as much as it is his power whereby an acorn produces an oak, or a father a son. But does it follow, that God is chargeable with the sin? You know it does not follow. The power of God, vulgarly termed nature , acts from age to age, under its fixed rules. Yet he who this moment supplies the power by which a sinful action is committed is not chargeable with the sinfulness of that action. In like manner, it is the power of God which, from age to age, continues the human species; yet He who this moment supplies the power whereby a sinful nature is propagated (according to the fixed rules established in the lower world) is not chargeable with the sinfulness of that nature. This distinction you must allow, as was observed before, or charge God with all the sin committed under heaven. And this general answer may suffice any sincere and modest inquirer, without entangling himself in those minute particulars which are beyond the reach of human understanding. “But does not God create the nature of every man that comes into the world?” He does not, in the proper sense of the word create. The Scripture plainly affirms the contrary: “On the seventh day he rested from all his work which God created and made.” ( Genesis 2:2,3.) “The works” which God created “were finished from the foundation of the world.” And as soon as they were finished, “God ceased from his work;” ( Hebrews 4:3,10;) namely, from his work of creating. He therefore now (not creates, but) produces the body of every man, in the same manner as he produces the oak; only by supplying the power whereby one creature begets another, according to what we term the laws of nature . In a higher sense he is the Creator of all souls. But how or when he does or did create them, I cannot tell. Neither can I give any account how or when he unites them to the body. Likewise how we are conceived in sin, I know not; but I know that we are so conceived. God hath said it; and I know he will be “justified in his saying, and clear when he is judged.”
It is certain, that God is the Maker of every man. But it is neither certain nor true, that he “makes every man in the womb, both soul and body, as immediately as he made Adam;” and that, therefore, “every man comes out of the hands of God as properly as Adam did.” (Page 140.) To interpret any scriptures as affirming this is to make them flatly contradict other scriptures. God made Adam by immediate creation: He does not so make every man, or any man beside him. Adam came directly out of the hands of God, without the intervention of any creature. Does every man thus come out of the hands of God? Do no creatures now intervene? “But if God produces the nature of every man in the womb, he must produce it with all the qualities which belong to that nature, as it is then and so produced.” So, if God produces the action of every man in the world, he must produce it with all the qualities which belong to that action, as it is then and so produced. “For it is impossible God should produce our nature, and not produce the qualities it has when produced.”
For it is impossible God should produce an action, and yet not produce the qualities it has when produced. “No substance can be made without some qualities. And it must necessarily as soon as it is made, have those qualities which the Maker gives it, and no other.” No action can be produced without some qualities. And it must necessarily, as soon as it is produced, have those qualities which the producer gives it, and no other.
You see what this argument would prove, ii it proved any thing at all.
We will trace it a little farther: “If God produces the nature of every man in the womb, with all its qualities, then, whatever those qualities are, they are the will and the work of God.” So, if God produces the action of every man in the world, with all its qualities, then, whatever those qualities are, they are the will and the work of God. Surely, no. God does (in the sense above explained) produce the action which is sinful; and yet (whether I can account for it or no) the sinfulness of it is not his will or work. He does also produce the nature which is sinful; (he supplies the power by which it is produced;) and yet (whether I can account for this or no) the sinfulness of it is not his will or work. I am as sure of this, as I am that there is a God; and yet, impenetrable darkness rests on the subject. Yet I am conscious my understanding can no more fathom this deep, than reconcile man’s free will with the foreknowledge of God. “Consequently, those qualities cannot be sinful.” This consequence cannot hold in one case, unless it holds in both; but, if it does, there can be no sin in the universe.
However, you go on: “It is highly dishonorable to God, to suppose he is displeased at us for what he himself has infused into our nature.” (Page 142.) It is not allowed that he has “infused sin into our nature;” no more than that he infuses sin into our actions; though it is his power which produces both our actions and nature.
I am aware of the distinction, that man’s free will is concerned in the one case, but not the other; and that on this account, God cannot be charged with the sinfulness of human actions: But this does by no means remove the difficulty. For, 1. Does not God know what the murderer or adulterer is about to do? what use he will make of that power to act, which he cannot have but from God? 2. Does he not at the instant supply him with that power whereby the sinful action is done? God, therefore, produces the action which is sinful.
It is his work, and his will, (for he works nothing but what he wills,) and yet the sinfulness of the action is neither his work nor will. “But can those passions or propensities be sinful, which is are neither caused nor consented to by me?” I answer, Spite, envy, and those other passions and tempers which are manifestly discernible even in little children, are certainly not virtuous, not morally good, whether you term them sinful or not; and it is as certain, these exist before they are consented to, much less caused by, those that feel them. “But sin, if it is unavoidable, is no sin.” (Page 143.) Whether you term it sin or not, it is contrary to the nature of God, and a transgression of his holy and good law. “But a natural moral evil is a contradiction; for if it be natural, it cannot be moral.” That tempers contrary to the nature and the law of God are natural, is a point of daily experience; but if you do not choose to call these morally evil, call them what you please. All I aver is, that such tempers do exist in us antecedent to our choice. “But if the actual sins of men proceed from a corrupt nature, they are unavoidable, and consequently no sins at all.” (Page 144.) Actual sins may proceed from a corrupt nature, and yet not be unavoidable; but if actions contrary to the nature of God were unavoidable, it would not follow that they were innocent.
To the question, “How comes it to pass, that our passions and appetites are now so irregular and strong, that not one person has resisted them so far as to keep himself pure and innocent? “ you answer by another question, “How came Adam not to keep himself pure and innocent?” (Page 145.) There is no parity between the one case and the other. I can account for any one man’s committing sin, supposing him to be naturally upright, as easily as for Adam’s committing it. Any one person, as well as Adam, though naturally inclined to neither, might choose either good or evil; and, on this supposition, he would be as likely to choose one as the other. But the case is extremely different, if you place Adam on one side, and all mankind on the other. It is true, “the nature of sin is not altered by its being general.” But the case is very widely altered. On this or that man it may “come, just as it came upon Adam, by his own choice and compliance with temptation.” But how comes it, that all men under the sun should choose evil rather than good? How came all the children of Adam, from the beginning of the world till now, to comply with temptation? How is it, that, in all ages, the scale has turned the wrong way, with regard to every man born into the world? Can you see no difficulty in this? And can you find any way to solve that difficulty, but to say with the Psalmist. We were “shapen in iniquity, and in sin did our mothers conceive” us?
OF ORIGINAL RIGHTEOUSNESS.
“ORIGINAL righteousness is said to be, ‘that moral rectitude in which Adam was created. His reason was clear; and sense, appetite, and, passion were subject to it. His judgment was uncorrupted, and his will had a constant propensity to holiness. He had a supreme love to his Creator, a fear of offending him, and a readiness to do his will.’ When Adam sinned, he lost this moral rectitude, this image of God in which he was created; in consequence of which all his posterity come into the world destitute of that image.” (Pages 147-149.)
In order to remove this mistake, you reconsider some of the texts on which it is grounded: “Lie not one to another, seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” ( Colossians 3:9,10.) “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” ( Ephesians 4:22-24.)
This you prove,1. From Ephesians 2:15: “Christ abolished the enmity, to make” (or create) “in himself of twain one new man.” Does this only mean one new profession? It evidently means one Church both of Jews and Gentiles.
You prove it, 2. From Colossians 3:8-12; where “the Apostle tells the Colossian Christians, that ‘now’ they were obliged to ‘put off anger,’ and ‘to put on bowels of mercies;’ to admit the Christian Spirit into their hearts, and to practice Christian duties; for this reason, because they ‘had put off the old man,’ and ‘had put on the new.’ This shows ‘the new man’ was something they might have ‘put on,’ and yet be defective in personal, internal holiness.” True; defective so far, as still to want more; more “bowels of mercies, meekness, long-suffering.” But this does not show, that the “new man” does not mean the principle both of internal and external holiness.
The consciousness of having received this is a strong motive both to depart from evil, and to labor after a continual increase of every holy and heavenly temper; therefore, here likewise, “the putting off the old and the putting on the new man” does not mean an outward profession, but a real, inward change; a renewal of soul “in righteousness and true holiness.”
You prove it, 3. From Ephesians 4:22,24: “Here,” you say, “he considers ‘the putting off the old’ and ‘putting on the new man’ as a duty. They had done it by profession, and therefore were obliged to do it effectually.”
They had done it effectually. So the whole tenor of the Apostle’s words implies: “Ye have not so learned Christ; if so be,” rather, seeing that, “ye have been taught by him; — that ye put off the old man; — 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.” ( Ephesians 4:20-24.) The Apostle here manifestly speaks, not of a lesson they had not learned, but of one which God had taught them already; and thence exhorts them to walk worthy of the blessing they had received, to be “holy in all manner of conversation.”
But, 4. “‘The putting on the new man’ is one thing, and ‘the creating him’ is another. He must first be created, and then put on.” (Page 152.) No; he is created and put on at the same time; the former word more directly referring to God, who creates, the latter to man, who is created. “But God,” you say, “‘created the new man,’ when he erected the gospel dispensation, as appears from Ephesians 2:15, 19-22.” I answer:
(1.) If those latter verses are explanatory of that expression, “one new man,” in the 15th, then it does not mean one outward profession, but the one Church of living believers in Christ.
(2.) The expression in the 15th verse is not the same with what we are now considering. Neither is the meaning of that and this expression the same: “One new man means one Church, and nothing else;” “the new man” means quite another thing, — the work of God in every individual believer.
You say, 5. “‘The old man and the new,’ and ‘the new man’s being renewed and created,’ and the ‘renewing’ of the Ephesians, all refer, not to any corruption of nature, but to their late wicked life.” (Page 153.) What? Does their being “renewed in the spirit of their mind” refer only to their wicked life? If you had not affirmed this, I should really wonder at your affirming quickly after, “In all other places of Scripture, except 2 Corinthians 4:16, ‘renewing’ relates only to a vicious course of life;” (Page 154;) seeing you immediately confute yourself by both the following citations: — “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind:” ( Romans 12:2:) Unless the mind be only another expression for “a vicious course of life.” “We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures; living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” ( Titus 3:3-5.) Do these words imply nothing, but “a vicious course of life?” no inward corruption at all? “‘But after that the lovingkindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, — He saved us by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.’” From what? from a vicious course of life only? Nay, but from “foolishness” of heart also; from error, from malice, hatred, envy, evil desire; all which are inward corruptions.
You add: “From all this we may gather, that ‘God’s creating the new man after his own image in righteousness and true holiness,’ means his erecting the Christian Church with a view to promote righteousness and holiness among men. For ‘we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.’” (Page 155.) Surely you do not cite this verse also to prove, that the “renewing of our mind” implies no inward change! It must be something more than an outward profession, or the reforming a vicious course of life, by reason of which we are said to be “God’s workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus.”
The other text which you re-consider, is Ecclesiastes 7:29: “God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” (pages 156-160.) But this, you say, does not mean, that God made man righteous; but that he made him right, as having, those powers, means, and encouragements, by a due use of which he may become righteous. In order to prove that this is the true meaning of the words, you affirm,1. “That man here is not to be understood of Adam, but of all mankind.”
This cannot be granted without full proof. You affirm,2. “This appears from the latter part of the sentence: ‘They sought out many inventions.’” Adam and Eve did so, in and after their fall. This, therefore, proves nothing. You affirm,3. “The word jashar ” (which we translate upright ) “does not always imply uprightness or righteousness.”
But this is its proper meaning, as will appear to any who seriously considers the following texts: — 1. “When thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Lord.” ( Deuteronomy 12:25.) It is taken in the very same sense, verse 28; 13:18, and 21:9. In all these texts, it undeniably implies, morally good , or righteous . 2. “A God of truth and without iniquity; just and right is he.” ( Deuteronomy 32:4.) “Good and upright is the Lord.” ( Psalm 25:8.) 3. “The word of the Lord is right.” ( Psalm 33:4.) “The ways of the Lord are right.” ( Hosea 14:9.) 4. “Be glad and rejoice, ye righteous.” ( Psalm 32:11.) “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous.” ( Psalm 33:1.) In the very same sense it occurs in numberless places. As the word is therefore properly applied to God himself, to his word, his providences, and his people, (in all which cases it must necessarily mean righteous,) we cannot lightly depart from this its proper signification.
But you think there is a necessity of departing from it here; because “to say, God created Adam righteous, is to affirm a contradiction, or what is inconsistent with the very nature of righteousness. For a righteousness wrought in him without his knowledge or consent, would have been no righteousness at all.” (Page 161.) You may call it by any name you like better. But we must use the old name still; as being persuaded that the love of God, governing the senses, appetites, and passions, however or whenever it is wrought in the soul, is true, essential righteousness.
Nay, “righteousness is right action.” Indeed it is not. Here (as we said before) is your fundamental mistake. It is a right state of mind; which differs from right action, as the cause does from the effect. Righteousness is, properly and directly, a right temper or disposition of mind, or a complex of all right tempers.
For want of observing this, you say, “Adam could not act before he was created. Therefore he must exist, and use his intellectual powers, before he could be righteous.” “But, according to this reasoning,” as Dr. Jennings observes, “Christ could not be righteous at his birth.” You answer, “He existed before he was made flesh.” I reply, He did, — as God. But the man Christ Jesus did not. Neither, therefore, did he use his intellectual powers.
According to your reasoning, then, the man Christ Jesus could not be righteous at his birth.
The Doctor adds: “Nay, according to this reasoning, God could not be righteous from eternity? because he must exist before he was righteous.” (Jennings’s Vindication .) You answer: “My reasoning would hold even with respect to God, were it true that he ever did begin to exist. But neither the existence nor the holiness of God was prior to each other.” (Taylor’s Supplement, page 162.) Nay, but if his existence was not prior to his holiness, if he did not exist before he was holy, your assertion, that every being must exist before it is righteous, is not true.
Besides, (to pursue your reasoning a little farther,) if “God did always exist,” yet unless you can prove that he always acted, it will not clear your argument. For let him exist millions of ages, he could not be righteous (according to your maxim) before he acted right.
One word more on this article: You say, “My reasoning would hold good, even with respect to God, were it true that he ever did begin to exist.”
Then I ask concerning the Son of God, Did he ever begin to exist? If he did not, he is the one, eternal God; (for there cannot be two eternals;) if he did, and your reasoning hold good, when he began to exist he was not righteous. “But St. John saith, ‘He that doeth righteousness is righteous.”’ Yes, it appears he is, by his doing or practicing “righteousness.” “But where doth the Scripture speak one word of a righteousness infused into us?” Where it speaks of “the love of God” (the essence of righteousness) “shed abroad in our hearts.”
And cannot God, by his almighty power, infuse any good tempers into us? You answer, “No; — no being whatever can do for us that which cannot be at all if it be not our own choice, and the effect of our own industry and exercise. But all good tempers are the effect of our own industry and exercise; otherwise they cannot be at all.”
Nay, then, it is certain they cannot be at all. For neither lowliness, meekness, long-suffering, nor any other good temper, can ever be the effect of my own industry and exercise. But I verily believe they may be the effect of God’s Spirit, working in me whatsoever pleaseth him. See Isaiah 26:12.
You add: “The thing cannot exist, unless we choose; because our choosing to do what is right, is the very thing which is to exist” No; the thing which is to exist is, a right state of mind. And it is certain, God can give this to any creature, at the very first moment of its existence. Nay, it may be questioned, whether God can create an intelligent being in any other state. “But a habit is gained by repeated acts. Therefore, habits of righteousness could not be created in man.” Mere playing upon words! He could be, he was, created full of love. Now, whether you call this a habit or no, it is the sum of all righteousness. “But this love is either under the government of my will, or it is not.” It is.
The love of God which Adam enjoyed was under the government of his will. “But if so, it could be righteous only so far as applied to right action in heart and life.” (Pages 164, 165.) Stop here. The love of God is righteousness, the moment it exists in any soul; and it must exist before it can be applied to action. Accordingly, it was righteousness in Adam the moment he was created. And yet he had a power either to follow the dictates of that love, (in which case his righteousness would have endured for ever,) or to act contrary thereto; but love was righteousness still, though it was not irresistible. “I might add, Adam’s inclination to sin (for he could not sin without a sinful inclination) must be so strong as to over come his (supposed) inbred propensity to holiness; and so malignant, as to expel that principle at once, and totally. Consequently, the supposed original righteousness was consistent with a sinful propensity, vastly stronger and more malignant than ever was or can be in any of his posterity, who cannot sin against such resistance, or with such dreadful consequences. Thus, original righteousness in Adam proves far worse than original sin in his posterity. (Page 166.)
I have set down your argument at large, that it may appear in its full strength. Now, let us view it more closely: 1. “Adam could not sin without a sinful inclination.” The sentence is ambiguous. Either it may mean, “Adam could not choose ill, without some sinful temper preceding;” and in this sense it is false; or, “He could not commit outward sin, without first inclining, that is, choosing so to do.” 2. “This his sinful inclination (or temper was so strong as to overcome his inbred propensity to holiness.” It was not any sinful inclination (in this sense) which overcame his propensity to holiness; but strong temptation from without: How strong we know not, and the circumstances of it we know not. 3. “This his sinful inclination was so malignant, as to expel that principle at once; and totally.” Not by any sinful inclination, but by yielding to temptation, he did lose the love and image of God. But that this was totally and at once, we have no authority to affirm. 4. “Consequently, original righteousness in Adam was consistent with a sinful propensity, vastly stronger, and more malignant, than ever was or can be in any of his posterity.” It was consistent with no sinful propensity at all, but barely with a power of yielding to temptation. It declined in the same proportion, and by the same degrees, as he did actually yield to this. And when he had yielded entirely, and eaten the fruit, original righteousness was no more. Therefore, the Fifth proposition, “Thus original righteousness proves to be far worse than original sin,” is flourish. What a figure does this fair argument make, now it is turned inside out!
From all this it may appear, that the doctrine of original righteousness (as well as that of original sin) hath a firm foundation in Scripture, as well as in the attributes of a wise, holy, and gracious God.
As you do not offer any new argument in your conclusion, I need not spend any time upon it.
You subjoin remarks on Dr. Watts’s additions to his book. Some of these deserve a serious consideration: — 1. Either the new-created man loved God supremely, or not. If he did not, he was not innocent; since the very law and light of nature require such a love to God. If he did, he stood disposed for every act of obedience. And this is true holiness of heart.
You answer, (in many words,) “The new-created man did not love God supremely. For, before he could love God, the bowels of his mind must have been quite finished, and actually exercised.” (Page 186.) And, doubtless, the very moment he was created, they were quite finished, and actually exercised too. For man was not gradually formed by God, as a statue is by a human artificer; but “He spake the word, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created.” And as light and heat were not; subsequent to the creation of the sun, but began to exist with it, so that the moment it existed it shone; so spiritual light and heat, knowledge and love, were not subsequent to the creation of man, but they began to exist together with him. The moment he existed, he knew and loved. 2. If the new-made creature had not a propensity to love and obey God, but was in a state of mere indifference to good or evil, then his being put into such an union with flesh and blood, among a thousand temptations, would have been an over-balance on the side of vice. But our reason can never suppose, that God, the wise, just, and good, would have placed a new made creature in such a situation.
This argument cannot be answered, unless it can be showed, either,
(1.) That in such a situation, there would not have been an over-balance on the side of vice; or,
(2.) That to lace a new-made creature in a situation where there was such an over-balance, was consistent with the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God.
But, instead of showing, or even attempting to show, this, you feebly say, “I do not think the reason of man by any means sufficient to direct God, in what state to make moral agents.” (O that you had always thought so!
How much vain yea, mischievous, reasoning had then been spared!) “But, however Adam’s propensities and temptations were balanced, he had freedom to choose evil as well as good.” (Pages 187, 188.) He had. But this is no answer to the argument, which like the former, remains in its full force. How could a wise, just, and good God place his creature in such a state as that the scale of evil should preponderate? Although it be allowed, he is, in a measure, free still; the other scale does not “fly up, and kick the beam.” 3. Notwithstanding all the cavils which have been raised, yet if those two texts ( Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10) are considered together, their obvious meaning will strike an honest and unbiased reader, the new man, or the principle of true religion in the heart, is created by God after his moral image, in that righteousness and true holiness wherein man was at first created.
You answer, “I have endeavored to prove the contrary; and he does not offer to point out any one mistake in my interpretations.” (Page 189.) I have pointed out more than one. 4. If these are the qualifications with which such a new-made creature should be endued; and these the circumstances, wherein, from the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God, we should expect him to be situated; then, by a careful survey of what man is now, compared with what he should be, we may easily determine, whether man is at present such a creature as the great and blessed God made him at first.
You answer in abundance of words, the sum of which is this: “Our circumstances are, on the whole, far better than Adam’s were; for he was under that severe law, ‘Transgress and die.’” (Page 190.) He was so; but this does not prove the point still; balancing this single disadvantage (if such it was; for even that may be disputed) with the numerous advantages he was possessed of, with the holiness and happiness which he enjoyed, and might have enjoyed for ever, it does by no means appear that the present circumstances of mankind in general are better than Adam’s were. 5. God did not give Noah dominion over the brute creatures in so ample a manner as he did to Adam. Fear indeed fell on the brutes; but this does not sufficiently preserve man from their outrage. In the innocent state, no man would have been poisoned or torn by serpents or lions as now.
You answer: “The second grant runs, —’The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the field, and upon every fowl of the air, and upon all that moves on the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into your hands they are delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you: Even as the green herb I have given you all things.’ Now, this grant is more extensive than the first.” (Page 191.) It is, as to food; but not as to dominion. The liberty of eating an animal does not necessarily imply any dominion over it at all. “But the ‘fear’ and ‘dread’ of every beast are the effects of dominion in man, and the subjection in brutes.”
Nay, neither does fear necessarily imply dominion. I may fear what has not dominion over me, and what I am not subject to. And those animals may fear me, over which, nevertheless, I have not dominion, neither are they subject to me. I fear every viper, yea, every poisonous spider; and they fear me: Yet neither has dominion over the other. Fear, therefore, and dread may be in a high degree; and yet no dominion at all. But they are “all delivered into our hands.” Yes; “for meat;” as the very next words explain that expression. Whatever therefore it may “import in other scriptures,” the meaning of it here is plain and certain. 6. Would God have exposed the pure and innocent works of his hands to such unavoidable perils and miseries as arise from bears, tigers, serpents, precipices, volcanoes, etc.?
You answer: “He did expose innocent Adam to a peril and misery greater than all these put together, even to a tempting devil.” (Pages 191, 192.) I reply,
(1.) This did not imply any unavoidable misery at all.
(2.) It implied no more peril than God saw was needful, as a test of his obedience. Therefore this is no parallel case: So this argument also stands unanswered. 7. It has been said, indeed, “If Adam fell into sin though he was innocent, then among a million of creatures every one might sin, though he was as innocent as Adam.” (Pages 194, 195.) I answer, there is a possibility of the event; but the probability of it is a million to one. I prove it thus: If a million of creatures were made in an equal probability to stand or fall; and if all the numbers, from one to one million inclusively, were set in a rank, it is plainly a million to one, that just any single proposed number of this multitude should fall. Now, the total sum is one of these numbers, that is, the last of them. Consequently, it is a million to one against the supposition that the whole number of men should fall. And this argument will grow still ten thousand times stronger, if we suppose ten thousand millions to have lived since the creation.
Your argument stood thus: “If we cannot infer from Adam’s transgression, that his nature was originally corrupt, neither can we infer from the transgressions of all mankind, that their nature is originally corrupt.” It is answered, If a million of creatures were made in an equal probability to stand or fall, it is a million to one they should not all fall . You reply, “This is no answer to my argument.” (Page 196.) Surely it is; and a direct answer. That one man sinned, does not prove he had a corrupt nature.
Why? Because (supposing him free to choose good or evil) it was as probable he should sin, as not, there being no odds on one side or the other; but that all men should sin, does prove they have a corrupt nature; because it is not as probable, that all men should sin, as that one man should; the odds against it being as a million, or rather ten thousand millions, to one. Either, therefore, we must allow that mankind are more include to evil than to good, or we must maintain a supposition so highly improbable as comes very near a flat impossibility.
And thus much you yourself cannot but allow: “The reasoning may hold good, where all circumstances agree to make the probability equal with regard to every individual in this supposed million.” And how can the probability be other than equal, if every individual be as wise and good as Adam? “But be it equal or no,” you say, “the case is not to be estimated by the laws of equal probability, but of infection. For when sin is once entered into a body of men, it goes on, not according to the laws of chance,” (is this precisely the same with equal probability?) “but the laws, as I may say, of infection.” But how came sin to enter into a body of men?
That is the very question. Supposing, first, a body of sinners, sin “may assume the nature of a contagion.” But the difficulty lies against supposing any body of sinners at all. You say, indeed, “One sinner produces another, as the serpent drew in Eve: The first sin and sinner being like a ‘little leaven which leavens the whole lump.’” All this I can understand, supposing our nature is inclined to evil. But if not, why does not one good man produce another, as naturally as one sinner produces another and why does not righteousness spread as fast and as wide among mankind as wickedness? Why does not this “leaven, leaven the whole lump,” as frequently, as readily, and as thoroughly, as the other? These laws of infection, so called, will therefore stand you in no stead. For, to bring the matter still more to a point, suppose Adam and Eve newly infected by sin; they had then none to infect, having no child. Afterward they repented, and found mercy. Then Cain was born. Now, surely neither Adam nor Eve would infect him, having suffered so severely for their own sin; which, therefore, they must needs guard him against! How, then, came he to be a sinner? “O, by his own choice; as Seth was righteous.” Well; afterwards, both wicked Cain and good Seth begat sons and daughters. Now, was it not just as probable, one could infect his children with goodness, as the other with wickdness? How came, then, Cain to transmit vice, any more than Seth to transmit virtue? If you say, “Seth did transmit virtue; his posterity was virtuous until they mixed with the vicious offspring of Cain,” I answer,
(1.) How does that appear? How do you prove that all the posterity of Seth were virtuous? But,
(2.) If they were, why did not this mixture amend the vicious, rather than corrupt the virtuous? If our nature is equally inclined to virtue and vice, vice is no more contagious than virtue. How, then, came it totally to prevail over virtue, so that “all flesh had corrupted themselves before the Lord?” Contagion and infection are nothing to the purpose; seeing they might propagate good as well as evil.
How then came vice to have a majority again among the new inhabitants of the earth? Had the nature of man been inclined to neither, virtue must certainly have had as many votaries as vice. Nay, suppose man a reasonable creature, and supposing virtue to be agreeable to the highest reason, according to all the rules of probability, the majority of mankind must in every age have been on the side of virtue. 8. Some have reckoned up a large catalogue of the instances of divine goodness, and would make this as evident a proof that mankind stands in the favor of God, as all the other instances are of a universal degeneracy of man, and the anger of God against them. But it is easy to reply, The goodness of God may incline him to bestow a thousand bounties upon criminals; but his justice and goodness will not suffer him to inflict misery in such a universal manner, where there has been no sin to deserve it either in parents or children.
You answer: “There is more than enough sin among mankind, to deserve all the sufferings God inflicts upon them. And the Scriptures represent those sufferings as disciplinary, for correction and reformation.” What, all the sufferings of all mankind? This can in nowise be allowed. Where do the Scriptures say, that all sufferings, those of infants in particular, are purely disciplinary, and intended only “for correction and reformation?” Neither can this be reconciled to matter of fact. How did the sufferings of Grecian or Roman infants tend to their correction and reformation?
Neither do they tend to the correction or reformation of their parents, or of any other persons under heaven. And even as to adults: If universal suffering is a proof of universal sin, and universal sin could not take place unless men were naturally prone to evil, then the present sufferings of mankind are a clear and strong evidence that their nature is prone to evil. 9. Notwithstanding all God’s provision for the good of man, still the Scripture represents man while they are in their fallen state, as destitute of God’s favor, and without hope.
You answer: “How can men be destitute of God’s favor, when he has vouchsafed them a redeemer? “ (Page 207.) By destitute of God’s favor, we mean, children of wrath, objects of God’s displeasure; and because they were so, the Redeemer was given, to reconcile them to God by his own blood; but, notwithstanding this, while we and they were in our fallen state, we were all objects of God’s displeasure. “But how can they be without hope, when he ‘hath given them the hope of eternal life?’” All men who are not born again, born of God, are without hope at this day. God, indeed, “hath given,” but they have not accepted, “the hope of eternal life.” Hence the bulk of mankind are still as void of this hope, as are the beasts that perish. And so (the Scripture declares) are all men by nature, whatever difference grace may make. “By nature” all are “children of wrath, without hope, without God in the world.” 10. Doth that man write the sincere sense of his own mind and conscience, who charges the expression, “Adam was on trial for us all,” with this inference, “That we are none of us to a state of trial now, but Adam alone was upon trial for us all?” We have owned and granted, that men are now in a state of trial; but this is upon the foot of a new covenant.
You answer, “What can be more evident, than that, according to this scheme, Adam alone was to be upon trial for us all, and that none of Adam’s posterity are upon personal trial?” (Page 209.) Do you not see the ambiguity in the word alone. Or do you see and dissemble it? Dr. Watts supposes, that Adam alone, that is, this single person, was on trial for all men. Does it follow from hence, that Adam alone, that is, no other person, was ever in a state of trial? Again: If no person but Adam was upon trial for all men, will it follow, “No person but Adam was upon trial at all?” It is really hard to think, that you here “speak the sincere sense of your own mind and conscience.”
You go on: “He supposes all mankind are still under the original covenant with Adam, according to which he alone was upon trial for us all, and none of his posterity are upon personal trial.” He does not suppose any man to be so under that covenant, as to supersede his being upon personal trial.
Yourself add: “I knew he owned we are upon personal trial, and that all mankind are now under the covenant of grace; but how can either of these consist with the scheme?” Both of them consist with it perfectly well.
(2.) Adam fell, and hereby the sentence of death came on him and all his posterity.
(4.) Death, the penalty of the old covenant, came (more or less) on all mankind. Now, all this is well consistent with itself, as well as with the tenor of Scripture. 11. Mankind is represented as one collective body in several verses of the <450501>5th chapter to the Romans.
What then? This does not prove that he does not represent mankind (Adam’s posterity) as one collective body. 12. All that is contained in the blessing given to Noah is consistent with the curse which came on all men by the first sin. But that curse is not consistent with the original blessing which was given to Adam.
(1.) Freedom from pain and death.
(2.) Dominion over the whole brute creation. But that given to Noah did not include either. Yet you affirm, “It is renewed to Noah, without any manner of alteration, after pain and death were introduced into the world!” And do pain and death then make no manner of alteration? 13. The dominion over the brutes given to Adam was not given to Noah.
You answer: “Our killing and feeding upon them is the highest instance of dominion over them.” (Page 213.) It is no instance of it at all. I may shoot a bear, and then eat him; yet I have no dominion, unless it be over his carcase.
EXTRACTS FROM DR. WATTS AND MR. HEBDEN.
I HAVE now considered what is material in your “Doctrine of Original Sin,” with the “Supplement, and Reply to Dr. Watts.” And this I purposely did, before I read the Doctors book. But how was I surprised on reading it, to observe the manner wherein you have treated it, of which I could not be a judge before! The frame which he had so beautifully and strongly connected, you have disjointed and broken in pieces, and given us nothing but mangled fragments of it, from which it is impossible to form any judgment of the whole. In order, therefore, to do justice to that great and good man, as well as to his argument, I subjoin an extract of so much of that work as directly affects the main question.
I subjoin this, and the following extracts, for these two reasons: 1. Because what has gone before, being purely argumentative, is dry, and less profitable to the generality of readers: 2. Because they contain one uniform, connected scheme of the great doctrine which I have been hitherto defending; and which, after the objections have been removed out of the way, may be more clearly understood and firmly embraced.
“MAN is a creature made up of an animal body and a rational mind, so united as to act in a mutual correspondence, according to certain laws appointed by his Creator. Now, suppose the blessed God, who is perfect in wisdom and power, in justice and goodness, were to form such a new creature, with what qualifications may we conceive such a creature would be endowed, by a Being of such goodness, justice, and wisdom?” (Ruin and Recovery Of Mankind, p. 1.) “1. We cannot but conceive, he must have a perfection of natural powers, both of body and spirit, as, united together, suited to his present circumstances.” (Page 2.) “Not that we need conceive, man would be made so perfect a being as God could make him: For the wisdom of God plainly designed to display itself in the different ranks and orders of his creation.
Nor is it reasonable to suppose, man would be made at first with such sublime perfections, as he himself might afterwards arrive at, by a wise improvement of his powers. But still the creature which was designed to bear the nearest likeness of his Maker in this lower world must have powers perfectly sufficient for his present well being and acting in that station wherein God had placed him. All his senses must be clear and strong, his limbs vigorous and active, his body healthy in all the inward and outward parts of it, and every natural power in its proper order.” (Page 3.) “For God would surely form such a creature in a state of perfect ease, without any original malady of nature, to give him pain or sorrow.
Nor could there be any tendency in his body to pain or disease while he remained without sin.” (Page 4.) “And as the powers of his body must be thus perfect, so the faculties of his soul must have their perfection too. “His understanding must have that knowledge both of God and his creatures, which was needful for his happiness. Not that he was formed with all knowledge in arts and sciences, but such as was requisite to his peace and welfare. His reason must be clear, his judgment uncorrupted, and his conscience upright and sensible. “This leads me to speak of his moral perfection. A rational creature thus made must not only be innocent, as a tree, but must be formed holy. His will must have an inward bias to virtue; he must have an inclination to please that God who made him, a supreme love to his Creator, a zeal to serve him, and a tender fear of offending him.” (Page 5.) “For either the new created man loved God supremely, or not; if he did not, he was not innocent, since the law of nature requires a supreme love to God; if he did, he stood ready for every act of obedience: And this is true holiness of heart. And, indeed, without this, how could a God of holiness love the work of his own hands? “There must be also in this creature a regular objection of the inferior powers to the superior. Sense, and appetite, and passion, must be subject to reason. The mind must have a power to govern these lower faculties, that he might not offend against the law of his creation. “He must also have his heart inlaid with love to the creatures, especially those of his own species, if he should be placed among them; and with a principle of honesty and truth in dealing with them; and if many of these creatures were made at once, there would be no pride, malice, or envy, no falsehood, no brawls or contentions among them, but all harmony and love.” (Page 6.) “This universal righteousness, which is the moral image of God, is far the noblest part of that image in which Moses represents man to have been originally created. The same writer assures us, that when God surveyed all his works, he pronounced them ‘very good?’ agreeably to what Solomon assures us, that God ‘made man upright.’” (Page 7.) “It is true, the natural image of God in which man was created, consisted in his spiritual, intelligent, and immortal nature; and his political image, (if I may so speak,) in his being Lord of this lower creation. But the chiefs the moral, part of his image, we learn from St. Paul, to have been the rectitude of man’s nature; who, in his Epistle to the Ephesians ( 4:24) says, that the image of God in which man is to be renewed, and, consequently, in which he was made, consists ‘in righteousness and true holiness.’ “2. From the justice and goodness of God we may infer, that though man was made free, with a power to choose either evil or good, that he might be put into a state of probation yet he had a full sufficiency of power to preserve himself in love and obedience to his Creator, and to guard himself against every temptation.” (Page 8.) “3. It is highly probable, from the goodness of God, that such a creature would be made immortal: It is true, the great God, as sovereign Lord of his creatures, might take away all that he had given; but it is hard to suppose, that he ever would have destroyed an intelligent creature who had continued to serve and please him.” (Page 9.) “It is also probable that he was endued with a power to arrive at higher degrees of excellency and happiness than those in which he was formed at first; and hereby he was greatly encouraged, both to watch against every sin, and to use all zeal and diligence in improving the powers he had received. “4. We may add, that the habitation in which a God of infinite goodness would place such an innocent and holy creature, would be furnished with all the necessaries and conveniences of life, and prepared for his delight as well as safety. And so Moses tells us, that the first created pair were placed in Eden, a garden of pleasure, and were made lords of all therein, of all the creatures, animal and vegetable, that were round about them.” (Page 10.) “Neither can we conceive that anything destructive or hurtful could be found in this delightful habitation, but what man would have sufficient notice of, with sufficient power to oppose or avoid it. “5. And if this creature had power to propagate its kind, the child must be innocent and holy, and equally capable of persevering in virtue and happiness.” (Page 11.) “Now, if we may judge from the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God, that these are the qualifications with which such a new-made creature would be endued, these the circumstances in which he would be situated; then, by a careful survey of what mankind is now, we may easily judge whether man is now such a creature as the great and blessed God made him at first. And this is the subject of the ensuing inquiry.”
“Is man, in his present circumstances, such a creature as he came out of the hands of God, his Creator? “We may derive a full answer to this inquiry from the following considerations.” (Page 12.) “1. This earth, which was designed for the habitation of man, carries evident tokens of ruin and desolation, and does not seem to be ordained, in its present form and circumstances, for the habitation of innocent beings; but is apparently fit for the dwelling-place of creatures who are degenerate, and fallen from God. “It is granted that the beauty and order of this lower world, even in its present constitution, and the wonderful texture, composition, and harmony of the several parts of it, both in air, earth, and sea, do still illustriously display the power, wisdom, goodness of their Creator. Yet it must be confessed also, that there are glaring proofs of the terrors of his justice, and the execution of his vengeance.” (Page 13.) “Is not the present shape of our earth, in its divisions of seas and shores, rude and irregular, abrupt and horrid? Survey a map of the world, and say, does the form of it strike our eyes with any natural beauty and harmony? Rather, does it not strongly bear on our sight the ideas of ruin and confusion? Travel over the countries of this globe, or visit several parts of this island, — what various appearances of a ruined world! What vast, broken mountains hang over the heads of travelers! What stupendous cliffs and promontories rise, — high and hideous to behold! What dreadful precipices, — which make us giddy to look down, are ready to betray us into destruction! What immense extent are there in many countries of waste and barren ground! What vast and almost impassable deserts! What broad and faithless morasses, which are made at once deaths and graves to unwary travelers! What huge ruinous caverns, deep and wide, big enough to bury whole cities!” (Page 14.) “What restless deluges of water, in a season of great rains, come rolling down the hills, bear all things before them, and spread spacious desolation! What roaring and tremendous waterfalls in several parts of the globe! What burning mountains, in whose caverns are lakes of liquid fire ready to burst upon the lower lands! or they are a mere shell of earth, covering prodigious cavities of smoke, and furnaces of flame; and seem to wait a divine command, to break inward, and bury towns and provinces in fiery ruin.” (Page 15.) “What active treasures of wind are pent up in the bowels of the earth, ready to break out into wide and surprising mischief! What huge torrents of water rush and roar through the hollows of the globe we tread! What dreadful sounds and threatening appearances from the reign of meteors in the air! What clouds charged with flame, ready to burst on the earth, and discompose and terrify all nature! “When I survey such scenes as these, I cannot but say within myself, ‘Surely this earth, in these rude and broken appearances, this unsettled and dangerous state, was designed as a dwelling for some unhappy inhabitants, who did or would transgress the laws of their Maker, and merit desolation from his hand. And he hath here stored up his magazines of divine artillery against the day of punishment.’” (Page 16.) “How often have the terrible occurrences of nature in the air, earth, and sea, and the calamitous incidents in several countries, given a strong confirmation of this sentiment! “What destructive storms have we and our father seen even in this temperate island of Great Britain! What floods of water and violent explosions of fire do we read of in the histories of the world! What shocking convulsions of the globe, stretching far and wide under the affrighted nations! What huge disruptions of the caverns of the earth, with tremendous bellowings, which have filled its inhabitants with terror and astonishment, and made wide devastations! Would a good and gracious Being have originally so formed the inanimate parts of this lower world, as to produce such deadly concussions therein, and such desolating appearances, had he not designed it for the habitation of such creatures as he foresaw would deserve these strokes of his indignation?” (Page 17.) “And thus both Moses and St. Peter suppose God to have laid up stores of ruin and destruction within the bowels of the earth, that he might break open his dreadful treasures of flood and fire at proper seasons, to drown and to burn the world, together with the sinful inhabitants thereof.” (Pages 18, 19.) “Now, the great God, who appointed such prodigious quantities both of water and fire to be reserved in the bowels of the earth, and among the clouds of heaven, for such a foreseen day of general destruction, did also doubtless prepare the materials of all the lesser storms and hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, and convulsions of nature; and treasured up for these purposes his magazines of wind, and flood, and fire, in the earth. And is this a habitation prepared for the residence of pure and holy beings? Is this such a peaceful place as a kind Creator would have formed for innocent creatures? It is absurd to imagine this of a God so wise, so righteous, and so merciful!” (Page 20.) “2. Let us take a survey of the vegetables which grow out of she earth, with the brute animals which are found on the surface of it; and we shall find more reasons to conclude that man, the chief inhabitant, is not such as he came first out of his Maker’s hand. “It must be granted here again, that the wisdom and goodness of the Creator are amazingly displayed in the animal and the vegetable world, beyond the utmost reach of our thoughts or praises. But still we may have leave to inquire, whether, if man had continued innocent, among the numerous herbs and flowers fitted for his support and delight, any plants or fruits of a malignant, mortal nature would have grown out of the earth, without some plain mark or caution set upon them.” (Page 21.) “Can we Suppose that among the roots, herbs, and trees, good for food, the great God would have suffered mischief, malady, and deadly poison, to spring up here and there, without any sufficient distinction, that man might know how to avoid them? This is the case in our present world; disease, anguish, and death, have entered into the bowels and veins of multitudes by an innocent and fatal mistake of these pernicious things for proper food. “There was indeed ‘the tree of knowledge’ in Paradise; but man was expressly cautioned against it. And certainly had he continued holy, no poisonous plant would have been suffered to grow on the earth, without either some natural mark set upon it, or some divine caution to avoid it.” (Page 22.) “Proceed to the animal world: There are many creatures, indeed, which serve the use or pleasure of man. But are there not many other sorts which he is neither able to govern nor to resist; and by which all his race are exposed, whenever they meet them, to wounds, and anguish, and death?” (Page 23.) “If man had not sinned, would there have been in the world any such creatures as bears and tigers, wolves and lions, animated with such fierceness and rage, and armed with such destructive teeth and talons? Would the innocent children of men have ever been formed to be the living prey of these devourers? Were the life and limbs of holy creatures made to become heaps of agonizing carnage? Or would their flesh and bones have been given up to be crushed and churned between the jaws of panthers and leopards, sharks and crocodiles? Let brutes be content to prey on their fellow brutes, but let man be their Lord and ruler. “If man were not fallen, would there have been so many tribes of the serpent kind, armed with deadly venom? Would such subtle and active mischiefs have been made and sent to dwell in a world of innocents? And would the race of all these murderers and destructive animals have been propagated for six thousand years, in any province of God’s dominion, had not its rational inhabitants been in rebellion against God?” (Page 24.) “What are the immense flights of locusts which darken the sky, and lay the fields desolate? What are the armies of hornets or mosquitoes that frequently make a pleasant land almost intolerable? If they are found in the heats of Africa, and of the East and West Indies, one would think they should not infest the Polar regions, if the Creator had not designed them for a scourge to the nations on all sides of the globe. “What are the innumerable host of caterpillars, but so many messengers of the anger of God against a sinful race? And since we can neither resist nor subdue them, we may certainly infer, that we are not now such favorites of Heaven as God at first made us.” (Page 25.) “The troublesome and pernicious tribes of animals, both of large and smaller size, which are fellow commoners with us on this great globe, together with our impotence to prevent or escape their mischiefs, is a sufficient proof that we are not in the full favor and love of the God that made us, and that he has quartered his armies, his legions, among us, as Princes do in a rebellious province.’ “It is true, all these are trials for man during his state of probation.
But a state of probation for innocent man would not have included death; much less a violent and bloody, or a lingering and painful, death.” (Page 26.) “Accordingly, our return to dust; is mentioned by Moses as a curse of God for the sin of man. And when once life is forfeited by all mankind, then a painful death may properly become a part of the further trial of such creatures as are to rise again; and any pious sufferers may be rewarded by a happy resurrection. But a painful death could never be made a part of the trial of innocent creatures, who had never forfeited life, nor were ever legally subjected to death.” (Page 27.) “Upon the whole, therefore, such noxious and destructive plants and animals could not be made to vex and disturb, to poison and destroy, a race of innocent, intellectual beings. “3. The manner of our entrance into life is another proof of universal sin.” (Page 29.) “Would the great and good God have appointed intellectual animals, had they been sinless, to be propagated in such in a way as should necessarily give such exquisite pain and anguish to the mothers who bring them forth? And if the contagion had not been universal, why should such acute pangs attend almost every female parent? Are not the multiplied sorrows with which the daughters of Eve bring forth, an evident token that they are not in their original state of favor with that God who created them, and pronounced a blessing upon them in their propagation? f40 “Moses informs us, that God blessed the first pair, and bid them be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it;” and soon after tells us that these ‘multiplied sorrows’ in childbirth are a curse from an offended God. Surely the curse is not as old as the blessing; but sin and sorrow came in together, and spread a wide curse over the birth of man, which before stood only under a divine benediction. Not that the blessing is now quite taken away, though the pains of childbearing are added to it: And daily experience proves, this curse is not taken away by the blessing repeated to Noah.” (Page 29.) “4. Let us consider, in the next place, how the generality of mankind are preserved in life. Some few have their food without care or toil. But the millions of human creatures, in all the nations of the earth, are constrained to support a wretched life by hard labor. What dreadful risks of life or limbs do multitudes run, to purchase their necessary food! What waste of the hours of sweet repose, what long and slavish and painful toils by day, do multitudes sustain, in order to procure their, daily nourishment! It is ‘by the sweat of their brows’ they obtain ‘their bread:’ It is by a continual exhausting their spirits, that many of them are forced to relieve their own hunger, and to feed their helpless offspring.” (Page 30.) “If we survey the lower ranks of mankind even in England, in a land of freedom and plenty, a climate temperate and fertile, which abounds, with corn and fruits, and rich variety of food; yet what a hard shift do ten thousand families make to support life! Their whole time is devoured by bodily labor, and their souls almost eaten up with gnawing cares, to answer that question, What shall I eat, and what shall I drink? even in the poorest and coarsest manner? But if we send our thoughts to the sultry regions of Africa, the frost and snows of Norway, the rocks and deserts of Lapland and northern Tartary, — what a frightful thing is human life! How is the rational nature lost in slavery, and brutality, and incessant toils, and hardships! They are treated like brutes by their lords, and they live like dogs and asses, among labors and wants, hunger and weariness, blows and burdens without end. Did God appoint this for innocents” (Page 31.) “Is the momentary pleasure of eating and drinking a recompense for incessant labor? Does it bear any proportion to the length of toil, pain, and hazard, wherewith the provisions of life are procured? Moses thought not. When he speaks of man’s ‘eating bread in the sweat of his brow,’ he acknowledges this to be another of the curses of God for the sin of man.”(Page 32.) “It is strange that any man should say, ‘In this sentence of God, no curse is pronounced upon either Adam’s body, soul, or posterity; that the sorrow of childbearing is not inflicted as a curse; that the labors of life were increased, but not as a curse; that death was not a curse.’ I would fail ask, What is a curse, if some natural evil pronounced and executed upon a person, or thing, be not so, especially when it is pronounced on account of sin, and by God himself, as supreme Governor and Judge? And even the curse on the ground falls properly on the person who tills it. “It is granted, God can turn curses into blessings. Yet these evils were criminally pronounced and inflicted as a curse or punishment of sin; as it is written, ‘Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things.’ And that death was designed as a curse on man for sin is evident; for Christ ‘suffered’ that ‘curse for us.’ “5. Consider the character of mankind in general, with regard to religion and virtue, and it will be hard to believe they bear the image of their common Father in knowledge and holiness. Some, I grant, are renewed in his image; but the bulk of the world are of another stamp, and sufficiently show, there is some fatal contagion spread through this province of God’s dominion. So St. John tells us, that, except the few who are ‘born of God, the whole world lieth in wickedness.’” (Page 33.) “And can we think of that gross and stupid ignorance of God, which reigns through vast tracts of Asia, Africa, and America, and the thick darkness which buries all the heathen countries and red aces them almost to brutes; can we think of the abominable idolatries, the lewd and cruel rites of worship, which have been spread through whole nations; the impious and ridiculous superstitions which are now practiced among the greatest part of the world; and yet believe the blessed God would put such wretched, polluted workmanship out of his pure hands?” (Page 34.) “Can we survey the desperate impiety and profaneness, the swearing, and cursing, and wild blasphemy, that is practiced, day and night, among vast multitudes of those who profess to know the true God; can we behold that almost universal neglect of God, of his fear, his worship, and the obedience due to him which is found even among:, them who are called Christians; and yet imagine, that these bear that image of God in which they were created? “Nor have men forgot God only, but they seem also to have abandoned their duties to their fellow creatures also. Hence the perpetual practices of fraud and villainy in the commerce of mankind, the innumerable instances of oppression and cruelty which run through the world; the pride and violence of the great; the wrath, ambition, and tyranny of princes, and the endless iniquities and mischiefs that arise from malice, envy, and revenge, in lower people. If we add to these the impure scenes of lust and intemperance, which defy the day and pollute the darkness; with the monstrous barbarities which are continually committed by the heathen savages in Africa and America, (some of whom kill and roast their fellow creatures, and eat up men as they eat bread,) and by the Christian savages in the Inquisition established in Asia, as well as in many parts of Europe; can we still imagine that mankind abide in that state, wherein they came from the hands of their Maker?” (Page 35.) “That far the greatest number of men are evil, was the known sentiment of the wiser Heathens.” (Page 37.) “They saw and bewailed the undeniable fact, though they knew not how to account for it. Oi pleionev kakoi ‘Most men are wicked,’ was a common observation among them. Even the poets could not but see this obvious truth. So Virgil brings in Anchises, telling his son, ‘Few are happy in the other world:’ — Pauci laeta arva tenemus.
And in this life, Horace remarks of men in general, — Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque regata. ‘We are always desiring and pursuing forbidden things.’ Nay, he says, — Vitiis nemo sine nascitur. ‘No man is born without vices;’ and gives this character of young men in general, — Cereus in vitium flecti, monitoribus asper.
Seneca says just the same, — Pejora juvenes facile praecepta audiunt. ‘Young men readily hearken to evil counsels: They are soft as wax to be molded into vice, but rough and rugged to their best monitors.’” (Page 38.) “Juvenal abounds with the same accounts of human nature: — Quae tam festa dies, ut cesset prodere furem?
Ad mores natura recurrit Damnatos, fixa et mutari nescia.
Quisnam hominum est, quem tu contentum videris uno Flagitio?
Dociles imitandi Turpibus et pravis omnes sumus. f41 “6. And not only they of riper age, but even those of tender years, discover the principles of iniquity and seeds of sin. What young ferments of spite and envy, what native wrath and rage, are found in the little hearts of infants, and sufficiently discovered by their hands, and eyes, and countenances, before they can speak, or know good from evil! What additional crimes of lying and deceit, obstinacy and perverseness proceed to blemish their younger years!” (Pages 39, 41.) “How little knowledge or thought of God, their creator and Governor, is found in children when they can distinguish good and evil!” (Page 42.) “What an utter disregard of Him that made them, and of the duties they owe to him! And when they and begin to act according to their childish age, how little sense have they of what is morally right and good! How do evil passions or irregular appetites continually prevail in them! Even from their first capacity of acting as moral creatures, how are they led away to practice falsehood and injury to their play fellows, perhaps with cruelty or revenge!
How often are they engaged in bold disobedience to their parents or teachers! And whence does this arise? What is the root, that brings forth such early bitter fruit?” (Page 43.) “It cannot be imputed to custom, education, or example; for many of these things appear in children before they can take any notice of ill examples, or are capable of imitating them. And even where there are only good examples about them, and where the best and earliest instructions are given them, and inculcated with the utmost care, yet their hearts run astray from God. The far greatest part of them visibly follow the corrupt influences of sense, appetite, passion, and manifest very early the evil principles of stubbornness, pride, and disobedience.” (Page 44.) “To give a still fuller confirmation of this truth, that mankind have a corrupt; nature in them, let it be observed, that where persons have not only had all possible helps of education from their parents, but have themselves taken a religious turn betimes, what perpetual hindrance do they find within themselves!” (Page 45.) “What inward oppositions work in their heart, and, perhaps, interrupt their holy course of life! What vanity of mind, what irregular appetites, what forgetfulness of God, what evil thoughts and tendencies of heart rise up in contradiction to their best purposes! Insomuch, that ‘there is not a just man upon earth, who,’ through his whole life, ‘doeth good and sinneth not.’” (Page 46.) “To sum up the three last considerations: If the bulk of mankind are grossly sinful, and if every individual, without exception, is actually a sinner against the law of his Creator; if sinful propensities appear even in our most tender years, and every child becomes an actual sinner almost as soon as it becomes a moral agent; then we have just reason to conclude, that there is some original taint spread through the whole race of men from their birth. “7. It has been said, indeed, that, ‘if the first man fell into sin, though he was innocent and perfect, then among a million of men, every one might sin, though be was as innocent and perfect as Adam.’” (Page 47.) “I answer, There is a bare possibility of the event; but the improbability of it is in the proportion of a million to one. “And I prove it thus: If a million of creatures were made in an equal probability to stand or fall; and if all the numbers, from one to one million inclusively, were set in a rank, it is a million to one that just any single proposed number of all these should fall by sin.
Now, the total sum is one of these numbers, that is, the last of them; consequently it is a million to one against the supposition that the whole number of men should fall. “And yet farther, if they were all made (as the goodness of God seems to require) in a greater probability of standing than falling, then it is abundantly more than a million to one, that all should sin without exception. And the argument grows still ten thousand times stronger, if we suppose ten thousand millions to have lived since the creation.” (Page 48.) “8. That man is a fallen creature, appears farther from hence: No man is able by his present natural powers to perform that law of his Creator which is still written upon his heart.” (Page 49.) “Does not this law require us to love God with all our heart to do to others as we would they should do to us, and to govern our senses, appetites, and passions by the rules of reason? Does it not require that these things, whether they regard God, ourselves, or others, should be done perfectly, without defect? Doth it not demand, that we should fear, honor, and trust the great God, and obey all his will in a perfect manner? Doth it not prescribe constant justice, truth, and goodness, toward our neighbor, without one covetous wish, one act of the will, or tongue, or hand, contrary to truth or love? Does it not demand, that every sense, appetite, and passion, should be perfectly subject to reason? Now, is there a man on earth, who can say, ‘I am able by my natural powers to do this?’” (Page 50.) “Even the outward temptations to which man is exposed, are evidently too strong to be effectually and constantly resisted by his now enfeebled reason and conscience; while at the same time, his will, his appetites, and passions, have a powerful propensity to comply with them.” (Page 51.) “Now, would a just, a wise, and a merciful God have formed intellectual creatures in such a wretched state, with powers capacities so much below their duties, that they break his law daily and continually, and are not able to help it?” (Page 52.) “Should it be said, ‘God cannot require more than we are able to perform:’ You have an answer in your own bosom; for you know and feel God does require this, even by the law he has written in your heart; yet you feel you are not able to perform it, untie or cut the knot how you may. “Should it be said again, ‘God pities and pardons feeble creatures:’ I answer,
(2.) Did God make some of his noblest creatures so feeble in their original state, as continually to offend, and want pardon? Did he give them such a law as should never, never be fulfilled by ally one of them? Would a God who adjusts the proportion of all things with the exactest wisdom, give a law to his creatures so disproportionate to their original powers, that, even in the state of their creation, they are under a necessity of breaking it, and stand in need of daily forgiveness?
Does not this single consideration prove, that man is now a degenerate being, and not such as he was at first created by the wise, the righteous, the merciful God?” (Page 54.) “If you, who are most unwilling to acknowledge the fall of man, would but look into yourself daily, and observe all the sinful and irregular turns of your own heart; how propense you are to folly, in greater or less instances; how soon appetite and passion oppose reason and conscience; how frequently you fall short of the demand of the perfect law of God; how thoughtless and forgetful you are of your Creator; how cold and languishing your affection to Him; how little delight you have in virtue, or in communion with God: Could you think you are such an innocent and holy creature as God at first created you? and that you have been such even from your childhood? Surely a more accurate observation of your own heart; must convince you, that you yourself are degenerated from the first rectitude of your nature.” (Page 55.) “9. Another proof of the degeneracy of mankind is this: They are evidently under the displeasure of God, which could not be in their primeval state. As we have taken a short view of the sins of men, let us also briefly survey the miseries of mankind, and see how these consist with their being in the favor of God.” (page 56.) “Think on the thousands of rational creatures descending hourly to the grave: A few, by some sudden stroke; but far the greater part by painful and slow approaches. The grave! A dark and shameful prison! which would never have been made for creatures persisting in innocence, and abiding in the favor of Him that gave them life and being. Death is the wages of sin; and from this punishment of sin; none of mankind can claim a discharge. “Had they stood, can we think any of them would have died; much less every one of them? And, especially, that half the human race should have been doomed to die before seven years old? before they reach the tenth part of the present age of man, or have done anything in life worth living for?” (Page 57.) “But let us proceed to other miseries that attend us, and hasten us down to the grave: — “Think next of the multitudes that are racked day and night by the gout and stone, the colic and rheumatism, and all manner of acute and painful diseases; and then say, Would a merciful God have contrived these torments for sinless creatures? Think of the dismal scenes of war and bloodshed that have by times over spread all nations. Cast your thought on a field of battle, where thousands of men are destroyed like brute beasts, and perish by sharp and bloody strokes, or by the fatal engines of death. See thousands more lie on the cold ground, with their flesh and limbs battered and torn, wounded and panting in extreme anguish, till the murmuring soul takes its flight. Are these the signals of their Maker’s love, and of his image in which they were created?” (Page 58.) “Think of the numbers that are swallowed up in the mighty waters, by the rage of stormy winds and seas; review the multitudes which have been swept away by the pestilence, or consumed by the tedious agonies of famine. Would famine and pestilence, with all the train of lingering horrors which attend them, have ever been made for innocent creatures, to have swept away whole nations of them, of every age and sex, men, women, and children, without distinction?” (Page 59.) “Think yet again what numbers of men have been crushed into miseries and death, and buried by earthquakes; or have had their bones broken, their limbs disjointed, and their flesh painfully battered by the fall of houses; perhaps buried alive in the ruins of entire towns or villages, while their neighbors have been drowned in multitudes by the dismal eruptions of water, or destroyed by deluges of liquid fire bursting out of the earth: Would a God of goodness and justice have treated innocent creatures in this manner?” (Page 60.) “Carry your thoughts to the countries of those savages, where thousands of their conquered enemies, or prisoners of war, are offered in sacrifice to their idols, or tortured and roasted to death by slow fires! Add this to all the former miseries, and then let calm reflection say, whether this world does not look like a province half forsaken of its gracious Governor. “Some, perhaps, will say, It is but a small part of mankind who are involved in these dreadful calamities; and they may suffer peculiar afflictions for their own personal iniquities.” (Page 61.) “I answer: Take a just survey of those who have suffered thus, and there is not the least reason to think they were sinners above others. Do not these calamities spread through whole countries, and involve the best and the worst of men together? Whole nations suffer by them at once. And, indeed, such is the corruption of human nature, that wherever they come they find none innocent.
And it is the general situation of mankind, under the just displeasure of God, which exposes them to such destruction. “But to proceed: Think of the innumerable common misfortunes that attend human life. What multitudes perish by these in one week! And how much larger a number do these accidents injure, and fill their lives with pain, though they are not brought immediately to the grave! Think of the mischiefs which one part of mankind, in every place, are continually contriving or practicing against the other. Take a view of these extensive and reigning evils, and then say, whether this world be not a part of the creation of God, which bears plain marks of its Creator’s displeasure.” (Page 62.) “Much is added to the heap of human miseries by the sorrows that arise from the daily loss of our dearest comforts. What groans and wailings of the living surround the pillows of dying friends or relations! What symptoms of piercing distress attend the remains when they are conveyed to the grave! By such losses, the comforts of future life lose their relish, and the sorrows are doubly embittered.” (Page 63.) “In the civilized parts of the world, there is scarce one person sick or in pain, miserable or dying, but several others sustain a considerable share of misery, by the strong ties of nature or friendship. This diffuses a personal calamity through whole families. This multiplies human miseries into a new and endless number. Add to this, not only the unkindness or falsehood of those from whom we expected the tenderest affection, but the anguish which springs from all our own uneasy and unruly passions. Bring in here all the wrath and resentment in the hearts of men; all the envy and malice that burn within; all the imaginary fears, and the real terrors, of future distress coming upon us; all the rage and despair of lost blessings that were once within our hopes, and all the ferments of animal nature, which torment the spirit all day, and forbid our nightly repose. Would mankind be in such a condition as this, if they were still in the favor of their Maker?” (Page 64.) “‘Yes; men may make miseries for themselves, and be punished by them. But compare the sorrows which any man necessarily suffers, with the comforts he enjoys, and the one will balance the other. Or if his sorrows outweigh his comforts, this may be necessary in a state of trial; and God will reward the overbalance of sufferings hereafter.’ “I answer: There is no reason to think the far greater part of mankind will have any reward hereafter; and if not, how shall we account for this overbalance of sufferings with regard to them?
Therefore, we cannot reasonably impute their superior sorrows merely to their being in a state of probation; but rather to the displeasure of the righteous Creator and Governor of the world.” (Pages 65, 66.) “10. To make this still clearer: Not only those who are grown up in the practice of iniquity, who may be punished by their own sins, but all mankind, in their very infancy, bear the tokens of God’s displeasure.
Before children are capable of committing sin, they are subject to a thousand miseries. What anguish and pain are they frequently exposed to, even as they are coming into the world, and as soon as they are entered into it! What agonies await their birth! What numerous and acute maladies are ready to attack them! What gripes, what convulsions, what inward torments, which bring some of them down to death within a few hours or days after they have begun to live! And if they survive a few months, what torture do they find in breeding their teeth, and other maladies of infancy, which can be told only by shrieks and tears, and that for whole days and nights together! What additional pains do they often sustain by the negligence of their mothers, or cruelty of their nurses! whereby many of them are brought down to the grave, either on a sudden, or by slow and painful degrees.” (Page 67.) “And what shall we say of whole nations in elder times, and some even at this day, who, when they cannot, or will not, maintain them, expose their children in the woods to be torn and devoured by the next wild beast that passes by? Add to this the common calamities in which infants are involved by fire, earthquake, pestilence. And there are a thousand other accidents which attend them, whereby their members, their natural powers, receive dismal injuries; so that, perhaps, they drag on life with blindness, deafness, lameness, or distortion of body or limbs Sometimes they languish on to manhood, or even old age, under sore calamities, which began almost as soon as their being, and which are only ended by death.” (Page 68.) “Now, as these sufferings cannot he sent upon them to correct their personal sins, so neither are they sent as a trial of their virtue; for they have no knowledge of good or evil. Yet we see multitudes of these little, miserable beings. And are these treated as innocent creatures; or rather, as under some general curse, involved in some general punishment?” (Page 69.) “‘But may not these sufferings of children be for the punishment of the sins of their parents?’ “Not with any justice or equity, unless the sins of the parents are imputed to their children. Besides, many of the parents of these suffering children are dead or absent, so as never to know it. And how in these cases can it be a punishment for their parents’ sin, any otherwise than as it is a general punishment for the sin of their first parent?”(Page 71.) “‘But God recompenses them for these sufferings hereafter.’
Where does the Scripture affirm this? Besides, many of them grow up to manhood. And if they prove wicked, and are sent to hell at last, what recompense have they for their infant sufferings? Or will you say, God punished them before they had sinned, because he knew beforehand they would sin? Yet farther: What wise or good design can this their punishment answer, when no creature can know what they are punished for, if it be not for that which affects all mankind? “‘But how are such miseries reigning among his creatures consistent with the goodness of God?’ Perfectly well, if we consider mankind as a sinful, degenerate part of God’s creation. It is most abundant goodness that they have any comforts left, and that their miseries are not doubled. Now, the inspired writers do consider mankind as fallen from God; and so his goodness is evident in a thousand instances; though it must be confessed there are also a thousand instances of his just hatred of sin, and his righteous punishments among all nations.” (Page 73.) “11. If we put together all these scenes of vice and misery, it is evident that creatures lying in such deplorable circumstances are not such as they came out of the hands of their Creator, who is wise, holy, and good. His wisdom, which is all harmony and order, would not suffer him to frame a whole race of beings, under such wild and innumerable disorders, moral as well as natural; his holiness would not permit him to create beings with innate principles of iniquity; nor his goodness to produce a whole order of creatures in such circumstances of pain, torment, and death.” (Page 74.) “Could the holy and blessed God originally design and frame a whole world of intelligent creatures in such circumstances, that every one of them, coming into being, according to the laws of nature, in a long succession of ages, in different climates, of different constitutions and tempers, and in ten thousand different stations and conditions of life; that every one of them should break the laws of reason, and more or less defile themselves with sin? that every one should offend his Maker? every one become guilty in his sight? every one expose himself to God’s displeasure, to pain, and misery, and mortality, without one single exception? If men were such creatures as God at first made them, would not one man among so many millions have made a right use of his reason and conscience, and so have avoided sin and death? Would this have been the universal consequent of their original constitution, as framed by the hand of a wise, holy, merciful God? What can be more absurd to imagine than this? Surely God made man upright and happy; nor could all these mischiefs have come directly from our Creator’s hand.” (Pages 75, 76.) “Is it objected, that ‘still the greater part of men have more moral good than evil in them, and have more pleasure than pain; and therefore, on the whole, mankind is not sinful and miserable, and that even the best human constitutions lay some innocent persons under unavoidable hardships?’ I answer,
(1.) In order to pronounce a man miserable, he must have more pain than pleasure; but in order to pronounce a man a sinner, there is no need that his moral evil should exceed his good. If a man had a hundred virtues, one vice would make him a criminal in the sight of God; one transgression of the law of his Creator would lay him under his just displeasure. He that keeps the whole law, except in one point, affronts that authority which requires all obedience. All men, therefore, are under this condemnation; they are sinners every one of them.” (Page 77.) “As to misery, let it be supposed, (though by no means granted,) that there are many whose pleasures exceed their uneasiness; yet it is certain there are more whose pains and uneasiness far exceed their pleasures; and it is hard to conceive how this should be, if all men were innocent and happy by nature.” (Page 78.) “I answer,
(2.) Men are not able to frame such constitutions in every case, as shall secure happiness to all the innocent. Their narrow views of things do not enable them to provide against all future inconveniences. But it is not thus with the Creator and Governor of all things. He views at once all possibilities and all futures. Therefore, he is well able to guard against any inconvenience that might befall innocent beings. “I answer,
(3.) Though the bulk of mankind were happy in the present constitution of things, this gives no manner of satisfaction to any one individual who is unhappy without any demerit: The advantage of the majority is no reason at all why any one innocent should suffer. If anyone, therefore, man or child, and much more, if numbers of them, have more pain than pleasure, they must be involved in some guilt, which may give just occasion to their misery.”(Page 79.) “12. To enforce this, after the survey of these pains and sorrows, let us consider what are the pleasures of the bulk of mankind. Cast a glance at the sports of children, from five to fifteen a years of age.
What toys and fooleries are these! Would a race of wise and holy beings waste so many years of early life in such wretched trifles? And as for our manly years, what are the greatest part of the delights of men, but silly and irrational, if not grossly sinful? What are the pleasures even of the rich and great, to relieve them under the common sorrows of life? If they be not luxury and intemperance, are they not furniture and equipage, finery of dress and gay appearances? to shine in silks of various dye, and blaze in the splendor of gold and jewels?
Now, would wise and holy creatures have made this the matter of their joy and pleasure: ‘My coat is gayer than yours, and I have more glittering things about me than you have?’” (Pages 80, 81.) “Others call for cards, or dice, to divert their trouble, and pass away their time. How inexpressibly trifling are these sports, if mere diversion be sought therein! But if the design be gain, how is the game mingled with uneasy fears, with the working of various passions, which, in case of disappointment and loss, often break out into wrath and fury! “Again: What multitudes drench themselves in gross sensualities as their chief delight! They make a God of their belly, till they overload nature, and make haste to disease and death. They drown their cares and their senses together; or they bury them in sensual impurities.” (Page 82.) “Others release themselves from the troubles of life, by gadding abroad, and mixing with impertinent company. Some delight in wanton jests, in foolish merriment, in mean and trifling conversation; a little above the chattering of monkeys in a wood, or the chirping of crickets upon a hearth. Nay, perhaps it is their diversion to rail at their neighbors, to murder the reputation of the absent. This is their mirth and recreation; these their reliefs against the common miseries of human life!” (Page 83.) “But would a race of innocent beings fly to such mean and foolish, or criminal, refuges from pain as these? Would thy pursue such vain or vile delights? Would they become rivals to the beasts of the field, or sport themselves, as devils do, in accusing their fellow creatures? Surely, if we survey the very pleasures, as well as the sorrows, of the bulk of mankind, we may learn from thence, that we are by no means such creatures as we were originally created. “13. I need add but one more proof of the general ruin of human nature. We are all posting to the grave. Every one of us are succeeding our neighbors, into some unknown, invisible world. And we all profess to believe this. Yet how exceeding, few are solicitous about this great and awful futurity! Though we are exposed to so many sins and miseries in this life, and are hastening visibly and hourly to the end of it, yet how few are there that make any careful preparation for a better state than this! What multitudes are daily running down into darkness, speeding to an endless duration in an unknown country, without any earnest inquiries about the manner of existence there! They walk over the busy stage of life, they toil and labor, or play and trifle awhile here, and then plunge into a strange unseen world, where they will meet with a just and holy God, whose wisdom will assign them a place and portion suited to their own character. Now, were men indeed wise and holy, could they remain so ignorant and thoughtless of that state into which they are all hastening? Or could a gracious God create a race of beings in such a stupid insensibility of their eternal interests, so unsuited to the felicities of an immortal spirit, and so negligent of all preparations for then?” (Pages 84, 85.) “Upon this whole survey, reason must join in this mournful confession, — that there must be some spreading poison which has tainted our nature, made us so sinful and miserable, so thoughtless of the future, and unprepared for it. There must have been some general revolt of mankind from their Creator, whereby they have ruined their innocence and peace, and provoked the anger of their Maker; whereby they become exposed to such wretched circumstances, even in their infancy and childhood, as well as when they grow to years of ripe understanding.” (Page 86.) “And, methinks, when I take a just survey of this world, with all the inhabitants of it, I can look upon it no otherwise than, is a grand and magnificent structure in ruins, wherein lie millions of rebels against their Creator, under condemnation to misery and death; who are at the same time sick of a mortal distemper, and disordered in their minds even to distraction. Hence proceed those numberless follies and vices which are practiced here, and the righteous anger of an offended God visible in ten thousand instances. Yet are there proclamations of divine grace, health, and life, sounding among them; though very few take any notice thereof. Only here and there one attends to the call, and complies with the proposals of peace. His sins are pardoned and healed.
And though his body goes down to the dust for a season, his soul is happy with God; while the bulk of those criminals, despising all the offers of mercy, perish in their own willful madness.” (Pages 89, 90.) “What is the chief temptation that leads some men to deny so glaring a truth? Is it that they cannot give a satisfactory account of some of the difficulties that attend it? Nay, many even of the heathen philosophers believed it, from their own experience, and their daily survey of mankind; though they were utterly at a loss how to account for it. And what, if we could not assign a sufficient and satisfactory reason for it, or show how this spreading degeneracy began, or how it came to take place so universally?
What, if we were still at a loss to explain how all this guilt and misery came upon us, — must we therefore deny the things which we see, and hear, and feel, daily?” (Page 91.) “Can we account for all the secret things in the creation of God?
And must we deny whatever we cannot account for? Does any man refuse to believe that the infinite variety of plants and flowers, in all their beauteous colors and forms, grow out of the same earth, because he does not know all the springs of their vegetation? Do men doubt of a loadstone’s drawing iron to itself, because they cannot find out the way of its operation? Are we not sure that food nourishes our bodies, and medicines relieve our pains? Yet we know not all the ferment and motions of those atoms by which we are relieved and nourished. Why then should we deny that degeneracy of our nature which admits of so full and various proof, though we are not able to account for every circumstance relating to it, or to solve every difficulty that may attend it?” (Page 92.)
QUESTION 2. “How came vice and misery to overspread mankind in all nations, and in all ages?” “Heathen philosophers could never answer this; but Christians may from the oracles of God.” (Page 94.) “These inform us, that the first man was a ‘common head and representative of all mankind;’ and that he, by sinning against his Maker, lost his own holiness and happiness, and exposed himself and his posterity (whom he naturally produced, and whom he legally represented) to the displeasure of his; Maker, and so spread sin and misery through his whole offspring.” (Page 102.) “So St. Paul: ‘As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; even so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’ ( Romans 5:12) All are esteemed in some sort guilty before God, though they ‘did not sin after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.’ They did not commit actual personal sin against a known law, as Adam did.” (Page 104.) “This may more fully appear from the following particulars: — “1. It is plainly taught us in Scripture, that God at first created one man and woman, called Adam and Eve; and from them is derived the whole race of mankind. God ‘hath made of one blood,’ as the Apostle observes, ‘all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth.’” (Page 159.) “2. God created man at first in a holy and happy state, — in his own likeness, and in his favor. ‘And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness.’ ( Genesis 1:26) And that none of the brute creation might molest him, but all of them be for his service, he said, ‘Let them have dominion over the fish and the fowl, and the cattle.’ ‘So God created man in his own image.’ And what this image consisted in, be side his spiritual and immortal nature, and his dominion over other creatures, we are told by St. Paul, where he speaks of ‘the new man, which,’ says he, ‘after God,’ that is, after the likeness of God, ‘is created in righteousness and true holiness.’ ( Ephesians 4:24) So Solomon assures us, God ‘made man upright.’
And Moses says, when God had finished all his creation, God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.’ It was all according to his idea and his will, and well pleasing in his sight. Man, the last of his creatures, as well as all the rest, ‘was very good;’ was holy and happy.” (Pages 160, 161.) “3. God originally appointed that Adam, when innocent, should produce an offspring in his own holy image; and, on the other hand, that if he sinned, he should propagate his kind in his own sinful image.
The former is allowed. The latter may be gathered from Genesis 5:1-3,5: ‘In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him: — And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years’ after his loss of the image of God, ‘and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image;’ that is, his own sinful and mortal image. “It is not to be supposed, that Moses, in this brief history of the first generations of men, should so particularly repeat ‘the image and likeness of’ God in which Adam was created, unless he had designed to set the comparison in a fair light, between Adam’s begetting a son in his own sinful and mortal image, whereas he himself was created in God’s holy and immortal image .” (Page 162.) “4. God was pleased to put the man whom he had made upon a trial of his obedience for a season. He placed him in a garden of Eden, (or pleasure,) and gave him a free use of all the creatures; only forbidding him to eat of the fruit of one tree, —’the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ ‘For in the day,’ said he, ‘that thou eatest of it, thou shalt surely die.’ In which threatening were doubtless included all evils, — death spiritual, temporal, and eternal.” (Page 163.) “5. As Adam was under a law whose sanction threatened death upon disobedience, so doubtless God favored him with a covenant of life, and a promise of life and immortality upon his obedience.” (Page 164.) “6. Adam broke the law of his maker, lost his image and his favor, forfeited the hope of immortality, and exposed himself to the wrath of God, and all the punishment which he had threatened; in consequence of which he was now painfully afraid of Him in whom he before delighted, and foolishly endeavored to ‘hide himself from the presence of the Lord.’” (Page 168.) “7. Adam, after his sin, propagated his kind according to the law of nature; — not in the moral image or likeness of God; not ‘in righteousness and true holiness;’ but in his own sinful likeness; with irregular passions, corrupt appetites and inclinations. To this degeneracy Job manifestly refers in those expressions: ‘What is man, that he should be clean? or the son of man, that he should be righteous?
Who can bring a clean thing out of all unclean? Not one.’ And David says the same thing: ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.’” (Pages 170, 171.) “This is not an hyperbolical aggravation of David’s early sins, and propensity to evil from his childhood. But the text is strong and plain in asserting sin some way to belong to his very conception, and to be conveyed from his natural parents; which is a different idea from his actual sins, or propensity to sin in his infancy. It shows the cause both of this propensity, and of his actual sins, which operated before he was born. So that if original pravity be not so conveyed and derived as is here asserted, the words are not an exaggeration of what is, but a downright fiction of what is not. “8. As Adam produced his offspring, like himself, destitute of the image of God, so he produced them destitute of the favor of God, under the same condemnation with himself. So Job: ‘Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble;’ ( <181401> 14:1) that is, his short life, and his troubles, proceed from his very birth; his propagation from sinful and mortal parents: Otherwise, God would not have appointed his noblest creature in this world to have been ‘born to trouble:’ Yet this is the case; ‘ man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward;’ ( Job 5:7) naturally; for it is owing to his birth and his natural derivation from a sinful stock. We are a miserable race, springing from a corrupted and dying, root, prone to sin, and liable to sorrows and sufferings.” (Pages 174, 175.) “In proof of this sentence of condemnation and death coming upon all mankind for the sin of Adam, we need only read from the twelfth verse of the fifth chapter of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans; on which I observe,” (Page 176,) — “1. Here Adam and Christ are set up as distinct heads or representatives of their several families. Adam was the head of all mankind, who became sinful and mortal through his sin; — Christ was the head of all believers, who obtain pardon and life through his righteousness. To prove this headship of Adam, the Apostle says, ‘Until the law,’ (that is, from the creation till the law of Moses,) ‘sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed where there is no law;’ that is, where there is no law or constitution of duty or penalty at all. Yet, saith he, ‘Death reigned from Adam to Moses:’ Yet sin was imputed, and punished by death, even upon all mankind, both small and great, before the law given by Moses. The inference is, therefore, there was some law or constitution during all the time from Adam, to Moses, in virtue of which sin was imputed to mankind, and death accordingly executed upon them. Now, what law or constitution could this be, beside that which said to Adam, as a representative of his whole posterity, ‘ In the day thou sinnest thou shalt die?’” (Pages 177, 178.) “2. The Apostle carries his argument yet farther: ‘Sin was imputed, and death reigned,’ or was executed, ‘even upon those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression;’ who had not broken an express command, as Adam had done. This manifestly refers to infants; — death reigned over them; death was executed upon them.
And this must be by some constitution which, in some sense, imputed sin to them who had not committed actual sin: For without such a constitution, sin would never have been imputed, nor death executed on children. “Yet, 3. Death did not come upon them as a mere natural effect of their father Adam’s sin and death, but as a proper and legal punishment of sin; for it is said, his sin brought ‘condemnation’ upon all men. (Verse 18) Now, this is a legal term, and shows that death is not only a natural but a penal evil, and comes upon infants as guilty and condemned; — not for their own actual sins, for they had none; but for the sin of Adam, their legal head, their appointed representative.” (Page 179.) “In the eighteenth verse the expression is very strong: ‘By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.’ All the children of Adam, young and old, are condemned for his one offense. But farther: — “4. In the original it is not, ‘By the offense of one; ‘but,’ By one offense.’ By the single offense of Adam, when he stood as the head of all his offspring, and brought sin and death upon them by his disobedience as in the following verse: ‘By one man’s disobedience many were made,’ or constituted, ‘sinners;’ that is, became liable to guilt and death. And so, in the sixteenth verse, one single offense is represented as condemning through Adam, and stands in opposition to the ‘many offenses’ which are pardoned through Christ. “5. There is a yet farther proof in this chapter, that Adam conveyed sin and death to his posterity, not merely as a natural parent, but as a common head and representative of all his offspring. As Adam and Christ are here said to be the two springs of sin and righteousness, of death and life to mankind, so the one is represented as a ‘type’ and ‘figure’ of the other. In this very respect Adam was a ‘figure or type of Christ.’ (Verse 14) And for this very reason Christ is called ‘the Second Adam, the last Adam.’ (Corinthians. 15:45-47) As one was the spring of life, so the other was the spring of death, to all his seed or offspring.”(Page 181.) “Now, Christ is a spring of life, not only as he conveys sanctification or holiness to his seed, but as he procures for them justification and eternal life by his personal obedience. And so, Adam is a spring of death, not only as he conveys an unholy nature to his seed, to all men, but as he brings condemnation to eternal death upon them, by his personal disobedience. And this is the chief thing which the Apostle seems to have in his eye, throughout the latter part of this chapter; the conveyance of condemnation and death to the seed of Adam, of justification and eternal life to the seed of Christ, by the means of what their respective heads or representatives had done. “But some object: ‘All the blessings which God gave at first to Adam consisted in these three particulars:
(1.) The blessing of propagation:
(2.) Dominion over the brutes:
(3.) The image of God. But all these three are more expressly and emphatically pronounced to Noah and his sons, than to Adam in Paradise.’” (Page 183.) “I answer, If we review the history and context, we shall find, she blessing of Adam, and that of Noah, very widely differ from each other, in all the three particulars mentioned.” (Page 186.) “1. The blessing of Adam relating to propagation was without those multiplied pains and sorrows which, after the first sin, fell upon women in bearing children. It was also a blessing of sustenance or nourishment, without hard toil and the sweat of his brow. It was a blessing without a curse on the ground, to lessen or destroy the fruitfulness thereof. It was a blessing without death, without returning to dust; whereas the blessing of Noah did not exclude death, no, nor the pains of childbirth nor the earning our bread by the sweat of our brow. “2. To Adam was given ‘dominion over the brutes.’ To Noah it was only said, ‘The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast.’ But notwithstanding this fear and dread, yet they frequently sting men to death, or bite and tear them in pieces. Whereas no such calamity could ever have befallen innocent Adam, or his innocent offspring.” (Page 187.) “The ‘image of God,’ in which Adam was created, consisted eminently in righteousness and true holiness. But that part of the ‘image of God’ which remained after the fall, and remains in all men to this daily, is the natural image of God, namely, the spiritual nature and immortality of the soul; not excluding the political image of God, or a degree of dominion over the creatures still remaining.
But the moral image of God is lost and defaced, or else it could not be said to be ‘renewed.’ It is the evident, that the blessing given to Adam in innocence, and that given to Noah after the flood, differ so widely, that the latter was consistent with the condemnation or curse for sin, and the former was not. Consequently, mankind does not now stand in the same favor of God, as Adam did while he was innocent.” (Pages 188, 189.) “Thus it appears that the holy Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments, give us a plain and full account of the conveyance of sin, misery, and death, from the first man to all his offspring.”