« AnteriorContinuar »
tree with many branches springing from it, was deprived of original righteousness, the branches should come forth without it. Or if any dislike the word nature, as used in this last case, and instead of it choose to call it a constitution or established order of successive events, the alteration of the name will not in the least alter the state of the present argument. Where the name, nature, is allowed without dispute, no more is meant than an established method and order of events, settled and limited by divine wisdom.
If any should object to this, that if the want of original righteousness be thus according to an established course of nature, then why are not principles of holiness, when restored by divine grace, also communicated to posterity? I answer, the divine laws and establishments of the author of naturg are precisely settled by him as he pleaseth, and limited by his wisdom. Grace is introduced among the race of mankind by a new establishment; not on the foot of the original estab: lishment of God, as the head of the natural world, and author of the first creation ; but by a constitution of a vastly higher kind; wherein Christ is made the root of the tree, whose branches are his spiritual seed, and he is the head of the new creation; of which I need not stand now to speak, particularly.
But here I desire it may be noted, that I do not suppose the natural depravily of the posterity of Adam is owing to the course of nature only ; it is also owing to the just judg. ment of God. But yet I think, it is as truly and in the same manner owing to the course of nature, that Adam's posterity come into the world without original righteousness, as that Adam continued without it, after he had once lost it. That Adam continued destitute of holiness, when he had lost it, and would always have so continued, had it not been restored by a Redeemer, was not only a natural consequence, according to the course of things established by God, as the Author of Nature ; but it was also a penal consequence, or a punishe ment of his sin. God, in righteous judgment, continued to absent himself from Adam afier he became a rebel; and withheld from him now those influences of the Holy Spirit, :
Which he before had. And just thus I suppose it to be with
* Page 136, s.
· If any shall still insist, that there is a difference between God's so disposing things as that depravity of heart shall be continued, according to the settled course of nature, in the same person, who has by his own fault introduced it; and his so disposing as that men, according to a course of nature, should be born with depravity, in consequence of Adam's in troducing sin, by his act which we had no concern in, and cannot be justly charged with. On this I would observe, that it is quite going off the objection, which we have been upon, fron God's agency, and flying to another. It is then no longer insisted on, that simply for him, from whose agency the course of nature and our existence derive, so to dispose things, as that we should have existence in a corrupt state, is for him to be the author of sin ; but the plea now advanc ed is, that it is not proper and just for such an agent so to dis. pose, in this case, and only in consequence of Adam's sin ; it not being just to charge Adam's sin to his posterity. And this matter shall be particularly considered, in answer to the pext objection, to which I now proceed.
That great Objection against the Imputation of Adam's sin to
his posterity, considered, that such Imputation is unjust and unreasonable, inasmuch as Adam and his posterity are not ane and the same. With a brief reflection subjoined of what some have supposed, of God's imputing the guilt of Adam': sin to his Posterity, but in an infinitely less degree, than to Adam himself.
THAT we may proceed with the greater clearness in considering the main objections against supposing the guilt of Adam's sin to be imputed to his posterity ; I would pre
mise some observations with a view to the right stating of the doctrine of the imputation of Adam's first sin, and then shew the reasonableness of this doctrine, in opposition to the great clamor raised against it on this head.
I think, it would go far towards directing us to the more clear and distinct conceiving and right stating of this affair, were we steadily to bear this in mind: That God, in each step of his proceeding with Adam, in relation to the covenant ar constitution established with him, looked on his posterity as being one with him. (The propriety of his looking upon them so, I shall speak to afterwards.) And though he dealt more immediately with Adam, yet it was as the head of the whole body, and the root of the whole tree ; and in his pro ceedings with him, he dealt with all the branches, as it they had been then existing in their root.
From which it will follow, that both guilt, or exposedness to punishment, and also depravity of heart, came upun Adam's posterity just as they came upon him, as much as if he and they had all coexisted, like a tree with many branches 5 allowing only for the difference necessarily resulting from the place Adam stood in, as head or root of the whole, and being first and most immediately dealt with, and most immediately acting and suffering. Otherwise, it is as if, in every step of proceeding, every alteration in the root had been attended, at the same instant, with the same steps and alterations throughout the whole tree, in each individual branch, I think this will naturally follow on the supposition of there being a constituted oneness or identity of Adam and his pos terity in this affair.
Therefore I am humbly of opinion, that if any have supposed the children of Adam to come into the world with a double guilt, one the guilt of Adam's sin, another the guilt arising from their having a corrupt heart, they have not so well conceived of the matter. The guill a man has upon his soul at his first existence, is one and simple, viz. the guilt of the original apostasy, the guilt of the sin by which the species árst rebelled against God. This, and the guilt arising from the first corruption or depraved disposition of the heart, are
not to be looked upon as two things, distinctly imputed and charged upon men in the sight of God. Indeed the guilt tbat arises from the corruption of the heart, as it remains a confirmed principle, and appears in its consequent operations, is a distinct and additional guilt : But the guilt arising from the first existing of a depraved disposition in Adam's posterity, I apprehend, is not distinct from their guilt of Adam's first sin. For so it was not in Adam himself. The first evil disposition or inclination of the heart of Adam to sin, was not properly distinct from his first act of sin, but was included in it. The external act he committed was no otherwise his, than as his heart was in it, or as that action proceeded from the wicked inclination of his heart. Nor was the guilt he had double, as for two distinct sins : One, the wickedness of his heart and will in that affair ; another, the wickedness of the external act, caused by his heart. His guilt was all truly from the act of his inward man ; exclusive of which the motions of his body were no more than the motions of any kifeless instru ment. His sin consisted in wickedness of heart, fully suffcient for, and entirely amounting to, all that appeared in the act he committed.
The depraved disposition of Adam's heart is to be considered two ways. (1.) As the first rising of an evil inclination in his heart, exerted in his first act of sin, and the ground of the complete transgression. (2.) An evil disposition of heart continuing afterwards, as a confirmed principle that came by God's forsaking him ; which was a punishment of his first transgression. This confirmed corruption, by its remaining and continued operation, brought additional guilt on his soul.
And in like manner, depravity of heart is to be considered two ways in Adam's posterity. The first existing of a cor. rupt disposition in their hearts, is not to be looked upon as sin belonging to them, distinct from their participation of Adam's first sin: It is as it were the extended pollution of that sin, through the whole tree, by virtue of the constituted union of the branches with the root; or the inherence of the sin of that head of the species in the members, in the consent and concurrence of the hearts of the members with the head in that