Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

jy to convince the Jews ; even by this reflection, that death had come equally on all mankind from Adam's time, and that the posterity of Abraham were equally subject to it with the rest of the world. This was apparent in fuct, a thing they all knew. And the Jews had always been taught that death (which began in the destruction of the body, and of this present life) was the proper punishment of sin. This they were taught in Moses' history of Adam, and God's first threatening of punishment for sin, and by the constant doctrine of the law and the prophets, as has been already observed.

. And the apostle's observation, that sin was in the world long before the law was given, and was as universal in the world from the times of Adam, as it had been among the Heathen since the law of Moses, this shewed plainly that the Jews were quite mistaken in their notion of their particular law, and that the law which is the original and universal rule of righteousness and judgment for all mankind, was another law, of far more ancient date, even the law of nature, which began as early as the human nature began, and was established with the first father of mankind, and in him with The whole race : The positive precept of abstaining from The forbidden fruit, being given for the trial of his compliance with this law of paiure ; of which the main rule is supreme regard to God and his will. And the apostle proves that it must be thus, because, if the law of Moses had been the highest rule of judgment, and if there had not been a superior, prior, divine rule established, mankind in general would not have been judged and condemned as sinners, before that was given, (for “ sin is not imputed, wlien there is no law") as it is apparent in fact they were, because death reigned before that time, even from the times of Adam.

It may be observed, the apostle in this epis'le, and that to the Galatians, endeavors to convince the Jews of these iwo ilings, in opposition 10 the notions and prejudices they had entertained concerning their law. 1. That it never was intended to be the covenant, or method by which they should actually be justified. 2. That it was not the highest and universal rule or law, by which mankind in general, and particularly the Heathen world, were condemned. And he proves both by similar arguments. He proves that the law of Moses was not the covenant, by which any of mankind were to ob. tain justification, because that covenant was of older date, being expressly established in the time of Abraham, and Abraham bimself was justified by it. This argument the apostle par. ricularly handles in the 3d chapter of Galatians, especially in verses 17, 18, 19. And this argument is also made use of in the apostle's reasonings in the 4th chapter of this epistle to the Romans, especially verses 13, 14, 15. He proves also that the law of Moses was not the prime rule of judgment, by which mankind in general, and particularly the Heathen world, were condemned. And this he proyes also the same way, viz. by shewing this to be of older date than that law, and that it was established with Adam. Now these things tended to lead the Jews to right notions of their law, qot as the intended method of justification, nor as the original and universal rule of condemnation, but something superadded to both, both being of older date, superadded to the latter, to illustrate and confirm it, that the offence might abound ; and superadded 10 the former, to be as a schoolmaster, to prepare men for the benefits of it, and to magnify divine grace in i., that this might much more abound...

The chief occasion of the obscurity and difficulty which seems to attend the scope and connexion of the various clauses in the three first verses of this discourse, particularly the 13th and 141h verses, is, thai :here are two things (although things closely connected) which the apostle has in his eye at once, in which he aims to enlighten them he writes to; which will not be thought at all strange by them that have been conpersant with, and have attended to this apostle's writings. He would illustrate the grand point he had been upon from the beginning, even justification through Christ's righteousness alone, by shewing how we are originally in a sinful, miserable state, and how we derive this sin and misery from Adam, and how we are delivered and justified by Christ as a second Adam. At the same time he would confuie those foolish

and corrupt notions of the Jews, about their nation and their law, that were very inconsistent with these doctrines. And he here endeavors to establish, at once, these two things in opposition to those Jewish notions.

, 1. That it is our natural relation to Adam, and not to Abraham, which determines our native, moral state ; and that therefore the being natural children of Abraham, will not make us by nature holy in the sight of God, since we are the natural seed of sinful Adam ; nor does the Gentiles' being not descended from Abraham, denominate them sinners, any more than the Jews, seeing both alike are descended from Adam.

2. That the law of Moses is not the prime and general law and rule of judgment for mankind, to condemn them, and denominate them sinners ; but that the state they are in with regard to a higher, more ancient and universal law, determines mankind in general to be sinners in the sight of God, and liable to be condemned as such. Which observation is, in many respects, to the apostle's purpose ; particularly in this respect, that if the Jews were convinced, that the law, which was the prime rule of condemnation, was given to all, was common 10 all mankind, and that all fell under condemDation through the violation of that law by the common father of all, both Jews and Gentiles, then they would be led more easily and naturally to believe, that the method of justification which God had established, also extended equally to all mankind ; and that the Messiah, by whom we have this justification, is appointed, as Adam was, for a common head to all, both Jews and Gentiles.

The apostle's aiming to consute the Jewish notion, is the principal occasion of those words in the 13th verse : “ For until the law, sin was in the world ; but sin is not imputed, when there is no law.”

As to the import of that expression, “ Even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression," not only is the thing signified by it, in Dr. Tay. loi's sense of it, not true ; or if it had been true, would have been imperiinent, as has been shewn; but his interpre. tation is, otherwise, very much sirained and unnatural. According to him, by “ sinning after the similitude of Adam's Iransgression," is not meant any similitude of the act of sinping, nor of the command sinned against, nor properly any circumstance of the sin; but only the similitude of a circumstance of the command, viz. the threatening it is attended with. A far fetched thing, to be called a similitude of sinning! Besides this expression in such a meaning, is only a needless, impertinent, and awkward repealing over again the same thing, which it is supposed the apostle had observed in the foregoing verse, even after he had left it, and had proceeded another step in the series of his discourse, or chain of arguing. As thus, in the foregoing verse the apostle had plainly laid down his argument, (as our author understands it) by which he would prove, death did not come by personal sin, viz. that death reigned before any law, threatening death for personal sin, was in being; so that the sin then committed was against no law, threatening death for personal sin. Having laid ibis down, the apostle leaves this part of his argument, and proceeds another step, Nevertheless death reigned from Adam 10 Moses ; and then returns, in a strange, unnatural manner, and repeats that argument or assertion again, but only more obscurely than before, in these words, Even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, i. e. over them that had not sinned againsi a law threatening dealda for personal sin. Which is just the same thing as if the apostle had said, “ They that sinned before the law, did not sin: against a law threatening death for personal sin ; for there was no such law for any to sin against at that time : Nivere theless death reigned at that time, even over such as did not sin against a law threatening death for personal sin." Which Itter clause adds nothing to the premises, and tends nothing to illustrate what was said before, but rather to obscure and darken it. The par icle xat, even, when prefixed in this mane ner used to signify something additional, soine advance in the sense or argument; implying that the words following ex. press sometling more, or express the same ting more fully, plainly, or forcibly. But to unile iwo clauses by such a par

ticle, in such a manner, when there is nothing besides a flat repetition, with no superadded sense or force, but rather a greater uncertainty and obscurity, would be very unusual, and indeed very absurd.

I can see no reason why we should be dissatisfied with that explanation of this clause, which has more commonly been given, viz. That by them who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, are meant infants ; who, though they have indeed sinned in Adam, yet never sinned as Adam did, by actually transgressing in their own persons ; unless it be that this interpretation is too old, and too common. It was well known by those the apostle wrote to, that vast numbers had died in infancy, within that period which the apostle speaks of, particalarly in the time of the deluge; and it would be strange the apostle should not have the case of such infants in his mind ; even supposing bis scope were what our author supposes, and he had only intended to prove that death did not come on mankind for their personal sin, How directly would it have served the purpose of proving this, to have mentioned so great a part of mankind that are subject to death, who, all knew, never committed any sin in their own persons ? How much more plain and easy the proof of the point by that, than to go round about, as Dr. Taylor supposes, and bring in a thing so dark and uncertain as this, That God never would bring death on all mankind for personal sin, (though they had personal sin) without an express, revealed constitution; and then to observe that there was no revealed constitution of this nature from Adam to Moses ; which also seems a thing without any plain evi. dence ; and then to infer that it must needs be so, that it could come only on occasion of Adam's sin, though not fur his sin, or as any punishment of it ; which inference also is very dark and unintelligible.

If the apristle in this place meant those who never sioned by their personal act, it is not strange that he should express this by their not sinning after the similitude of Adai's transgression. We read of two ways of men's being like Alam, or in which a similitude to him is ascribed to men : One is Vol. VI.

зв

« AnteriorContinuar »