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our hearts unto wisdom." How plain and full is this testimomy, that the general mortality of mankind is an evidence of God's anger for the sin of those who are the subjects of such a dispensation?
Abimelech speaks of it as a thing which he had reason to conclude from God's nature and perfection, that he would not slay a righteous nation. Gen. xx. 4. By righteous evidently meaning innocent. And if so, much less will God slay a righteous world, (consisting of so many nations....repeating the great slaughter in every generation) or subject the whole world of mankind to death, when they are considered as inno cent, as Dr. Taylor supposes. We have from time to time in scripture such phrases as worthy of death, and guilty of death; but certainly the righteous Judge of all the earth will not bring death on thousands of millions, not only that are not worthy of death, but are worthy of no punishment.
Dr. Taylor, from time to time speaks of affliction and death as a great benefit, as they increase the vanity of all earthly things, and tend to excite sober reflections, and to induce us to be moderate in gratifying the appetites of the body, and to mortify pride and ambition, &c.* To this I would say,
1. It is not denied but God may see it needful for mankind in their present state, that they should be mortal, and subject to outward afflictions, to restrain their lusts, and mortify their pride and ambition, &c. But then is it not an evidence of man's depravity, that it is so? Is it not an evidence of distemper of mind, yea, strong disease, when man stands. in need of such sharp medicines, such severe, and terrible means to restrain his lusts, keep down his pride, and make him willing to be obedient to God? It must be because of a corrupt and ungrateful heart, if the riches of God's bounty, in bestowing life and prosperity, and things comfortable and pleasant, will not engage the heart to God, and to virtue, and childlike love and obedience, but that he must always have the rod held over him, and be often chastised, and held under
the apprehensions of death, to keep him from running wild in pride, contempt and rebellion, ungratefully using the blesse ings dealt forth from God's hand, in sinning against him, and serving his enemies. If man has no natural disingenuity of heart, it must be a mysterious thing indeed, that the sweet blessings of God's bounty have not as powerful an influence to restrain him from sinning against God, as terrible afflictions. If any thing can be a proof of a perverse and vile disposition, this must be a proof of it, that men should be most apt to forget and despise God, when his providence is most kind; and that they should need to have God chastise them with great severity, and even to kill them, to keep them in order. If we were as much disposed to gratitude to God for his beneits, as we are to anger at our fellow creatures for injuries, as we must be (so far as I can see) if we are not of a depraved heart, the sweetness of the divine bounty, if continued in life, and the height of every enjoyment that is pleasant to innocent human nature, would be as powerful incentives to a proper regard to God, tending as much to promote religion and virtue, as to have the world filled with calamity, and to have God (to use the language of Hezekiah, Isaiah xxxviii. 13, describing death and its agonies) as a lion, breaking all our bones, and from day even to night, making an end of us.
Dr. Taylor himself, p. 252, says, "That our first parents before the fall were placed in a condition proper to engage their gratitude, love and obedience." Which is as much as to say, proper to engage them to the exercise and practice of all religion. And if the paradisaical state was proper to engage to all religion and duty, and men still come into the world with hearts as good as the two first of the species, why is it not proper to engage them to it still? What need of so vastly changing man's state, depriving him of all those blessings, and instead of them allotting to him a world full of briars and thorns, affliction, calamity and death, to engage him to it? The taking away of life, and all those pleasant enjoyments man had at first, by a permanent constitution, would be no stated benefit to mankind, unless there was a stated disposition in them to abuse such blessings. The tak
g them away is supposed to be a benefit under the notion of their being things that tend to lead men to sin; but they would have no such tendency, at least in a stated manner, unless there was in men a fixed tendency to make that unrea sonable misimprovement of them. Such a temper of mind as amounts to a disposition to make such a misimprovement of blessings of that kind, is often spoken of in scripture, as most astonishingly vile and perverse. So concerning Israel's abusing the blessings of Canaan, that land flowing with milk and honey; their ingratitude in it is spoken of by the prophets, as enough to astonish all heaven and earth, and as more than brutish stupidity and vileness. Jer. ii. 7. "I brought them into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof, and the goodness thereof. But when ye entered, ye defiled my land," &c. See the following verses, especially verse 12. "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this." So Isaiah i. 2....4. "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but my people doth not know, Israel doth not consider. Ah, sinful nation! A people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corruptors." Compare Deut. xxxii. 6....19. If it shewed so great depravity, to be disposed thus to abuse the blessings of so fruitful and pleasant a land as Canaan, surely it would be an evidence of a no less astonishing corruption, to be inclined to abuse the blessings of Eden, and the garden of God there.
2. If death be brought on mankind only as a benefit, and in that manner which Dr. Taylor mentions, viz. to mortify or moderate their carnal appetites and affections, wean them from the world, excite them to sober reflections, and lead them to the fear and obedience of God, &c. is it not strange that it should fall so heavy on infants, who are not capable of making any such improvement of it; so that many more of mankind suffer death in infancy, than in any other equal part of the age of man ? Our author sometimes hints, that the death of infants may be for the good of parents, and those that are adult, and may be for the correction and punishment of
the sins of parents: But hath God any need of such methods to add to parents' afflictions? Are there not ways enough that he might increase their trouble, without destroying the lives of such multitudes of those that are perfectly innocent, and have in no respect any sin belonging to them; on whom death comes at an age, when not only the subjects are not capable of any reflection or making any improvement of it, either in the suffering or expectation of it; but also at an age, when parents and friends, who alone can make a good improvement, and whom Dr. Taylor supposes alone to be purished by it, suffer least by being bereaved of them; though the infants themselves sometimes suffer to great extremity?
3. To suppose, as Dr. Taylor does, that death is brought on mankind in consequence of Adam's sin, not at all as a calamity, but only as a favor and benefit, is contrary to the doctrine of the gospel, which teaches that when Christ, as the second Adam, comes to remove and destroy that death which came by the first Adam, he finds it not as a friend, but an enemy. 1 Cor. xv. 22. "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive;" with verses 25 and 26. «For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death."
Dr. Taylor urges that the afflictions which mankind are subjected to, and particularly their common mortality, are represented in scripture as the chastisements of our heavenly Father; and therefore are designed for our spiritual good, and consequently are not of the nature of punishments. So in p. 68, 69, 38, 39, S.
Though I think the thing asserted far from being true, viz. that the scripture represents the afflictions of mankind in general, and particularly their common mortality, as the chastisements of an heavenly father, yet it is needless to stand to dispute that matter; for if it be so, it will be no argument that the afflictions and death of mankind are not evidences of their sinfulness. Those would be strange chastisements from the hand of a wise and good Father, which are wholly for nothing; especially such severe chastisements as to break the child's bones, when at the same time the Father does not
suppose any guilt, fault or offence in any respect belonging to the child; but it is chastised in this terrible manner, only for fear that it will be faulty hereafter. I say, these would be a strange sort of chastisements; yea, though he should be able to make it up to the child afterwards. Dr. Taylor tells of representations made by the whole current of scripture: I am certain it is not agreeable to the current of scripture, to represent divine, fatherly chastisements after this manner. It is true, that the scripture supposes such chastenings to be the fruit of God's goodness; yet at the same time it evermore represents them as being for the sin of the subject, and as evidences of the divine displeasure for its sinfulness. Thus the apostle in 1 Cor. xi. 30....32, speaks of God's chastening his people by mortal sickness, for their good, that they might not be condemned with the world, and yet signifies that it was for their sin; for this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep: That is, for the profaneness and sinful disorder before mentioned. So Elihu, Job xxxiii. 16, &c. speaks of the same chastening by sickness, as for men's good, to withdraw man from his sinful purpose, and to hide pride from man, and keep back his soul from the pit ; that therefore God chastens man with pain on his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain. But these chastenings are for his sins, as appears by what follows, verse 28, where it is observed, that when God by this means has brought men to repent, and humbly confess their sins, he delivers them. Again, the same Elihu, speaking of the unfailing love of God to the righteous, even when he chastens them, and they are bound in fetters, and holden in cords of affliction, chap. xxxvi. 7, &c, yet speaks of these chastenings as being for their sins, yerse 9. "Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions, that they have exceeded." So David, Psalm xxx. speaks of God's chastening by sore afflictions, as being for his good, and issuing joyfully; and yet being the fruit of God's anger for his sin, verse 5. "God's anger endureth but for a moment," &c, Compare Psalm cxix. 67, 71, 75. God's fatherly chastises ments are spoken of as being for sin. 2 Sam. vii. 14, 15, I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son. If he com