Imágenes de páginas

pen who are adult and come to act for themselves, who are righteous, and do not approve of, but sincerely condemn the wickedness of their fathers, shall not be punished for their disapproved and avoided iniquities. The occasion of what is here said, as well as the design and plain sense, shews, that nothing is here intended in the least degree inconsistent with what has been supposed concerning Adam's posterity's sinning and falling in his apostasy. The occasion is, the people's murmuring at God's methods under the Mosaic dispensation ; agreeable to that in Levit. xxvi. 39. “ And they that are left of you, shall pine away in their iniquity in their enemies lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them :" And other parallel places, respecting external judgments, which were the punishments most plainly threatened, and chiefly insisted on, under that dispensation, (which was, as it were, an external and carnal covenant) and particularly the people's suffering such terrible judgments at that day, even in Ezekiel's time, for the sins of Manasseh ; according to what God says by Jeremiah (Jer. xv. 4.) and agreeable to what is said in that confession, Lam. v. 7. “ Our fathers have sinned and are not, and we have borne their ini. quities.”

In what is said here, there is a special respect to the introducing of the gospel dispensation ; as is greatly confirmed by comparing this place with Jer. xxxi. 29, 30, 31. Under which dispensation, the righteousness of God's dealings with mankind would be more fully manifested, in the clear revelation then to be made of the method of the judgment of God, by which the final state of wicked men is determined ; which is not according to the behavior of their particular ancestors ; but every one is dealt with according to the sin of his own wicked heart, or sinful nature and practice. The affair of derivation of the natural corruption of mankind in general, and of their consent to, and participation of the primitive and commion apostasy, is not in the least intermeddled with, or touched, by any thing meant or aimed at in the true scope and design of this place in Ezekiel.

On the whole, if any do not like the philosophy, or the metaphysics (as some perhaps may choose to call it) made use. of in the foregoing reasonings; yet I cannot doubt, but that a proper consideration of what is apparent and undeniable in fact, with respect to the dependence of the state and course of things in this universe on the sovereign constitutions of the supreme Author and Lord of all, who gives none account of any of his mallers, and whose ways are past finding out, will be sufficient, with persons of common modesty and sobriety, to stop their mouths from making peremptory decisions against the justice of God, respecting what is so plainly and fully taught in his holy word, concerning the derivation of a deprayily and guilt from Adam to bis posterity; a thing so abundantly confirmed by what is found in the experience of all mankind in all ages.

This is enough, one would think, forever to silence such bold expressions as these...“ If this be jusi....if the scriptures teach such doctrine, &c. then the scriptures are of no use.... understanding is no understanding....and, What a God must he he, that can thus curse innocent creatures !....Is this thy GOD, () Christian !&c. &c.

It may not be improper here to add something (by way of supplement to this chapter, in which we have had occasion to say so much about the imputation of Adam's sin) concern. ing the opinions of trvo divines, of no inconsiderable note among the dissenters in England, relating to a partial imputation of Adam's first sin.

One of them supposes that this sin, though truly imputed to INFANTS, so that thereby they are exposed to a proper pun. ishment, yet is not imputed to them in such a degree, as that upon this account they should be liable to eternal punishment, as Adam himself was, but only to temporal death, or annihila. tion ; Adam laimself, the immediate actor, being made infinitely more guilty by it, than his posterity. On which I would observe, that to suppose, God imputes not all the guilt of Adam's sin, but only some little part of it, relieves nothing but one's imagination. To think of poor little infants bearing such torments for Adam's sin, as they sometimes do in this

world, and these torments ending in death and annihilation, may sit easier on the imagination, than to conceive of their suffering eternal misery for it. But it does not at all relieve one's reason. There is no rule of reason that can be supposed to lie against imputing a sin in the whole of it, which was committed by one, to another who did not personally commit it, but what will also lie against its being so imputed and punished in fart. For all the reasons (if there are any) lie against the imputation ; not the quantity or degree of what is imputed. If there be any rule of reason, that is strong and good, lying against a proper derivation or communication of guilt, from ove that acted, to another that did not act ; then it lies against all that is of this nature. The force of the reasons brought against imputing Adam's sin to his posterity (if there be any force in them) lies in this, That Adam and his posterity are not one. But this lies as properly against charging a part of the guilt, as the whole. For Adam's posterity, by not being the same with bim, had no more hand in a little of what was done, than in the whole. They were as absolutely free from being concerned in that act partly, as they were wholly. And there is no reason to be brought, why one man's sin cannot be justly reckoned to another's account, who was not then in being, in the whole of it; but what will as properly lie against its being reckoned to him in any fart, so as that he should be subject to any condemnation or punishment on that account. If those reasons are good, all the difference there can be, is this; that to bring a great punishment on infants for Adam's sin, is a great act of injustice, and to bring a comparatively small punishment, is a smaller act of injustice, but not, that this is not as truly and demonstrably an act of injustice, as the ocher.

To illustrate this by an instance something parallel. It is used as an argument why I may not exact from one of my neighbors, what was due to me from another, that he and my debtor are not the same ; and that their concerns, interests and properties are entirely distinct. Now if this argument be good, it lies as truly against my demanding from him a fiart of the debt, as the whole. Indeed it is a greater act of injustice for me to take from him the whole of it, than a part, but not more truly and certainly an act of injustice.

The other divine thinks there is truly an imputation of Adam's sin, so that infants cannot be looked upon as innocent creatures; yet seems to think it not agreeable to the perfections of God, to make the state of infants in another world worse than a state of nonexistence. But this to me appears plainly a giving up that grand point of the imputation of Adam's sin, both in whole and in part. For it supposes it to be not right, for God to bring any evil on a child of Adam, which is innocent as to personal sin, without paying for it, or balancing it with good ; so that still the state of the child shall be as good, as could be demanded in justice, in case of mere innocence. Which plainly supposes that the child is not exposed to any proper punishment at all, or is not at all in debt to divine justice, on the account of Adam's sin. For if the child were truly in debt, then surely justice might take something from bim without paying for it, or without giving that which makes its state as good, as mere innocence could in justice require. If he owes the suffering of some punishment, then there is no need that justice should requite the infant for suffering that punishment; or make up for it, by conferring some good, that shall countervail it, and in effect remove and disannul it; so that, on the whole, good and evil shall be at an even balance, yea, so that the scale of good shall preponderate. If it is unjust in a judge to order any quantity of money to be taken from another without paying him again, and fully making it up to him, it must be because he had justly forfeited none at all.

It seems to me pretty manifest that none can, in good consistence with themselves, own a real imputation of the guilt of Adam's first sin to his posterity, without owning that they are justly viewed and treated as sinners, truly guilty and children of wrath on that account; nor unless they allow a just imputation of the whole of the evil of that transgression ; at least all that pertains to the essence of that act, as a full and complete violation of the covenant which

God had established; even as much as if each one of mankind had the like covenant established with him singly, and had by the like direct and full act of rebellion, violated it for himself.


Wherein several other Objections are considered.

DR. TAYLOR objects against Adam's posterity's being supposed to come into the world under a forfeiture of God's blessing, and subject to his curse through nis sin.... That at the restoration of the world after the flood, God pronounced equivalent or greater blessings on Noah and his sons, than ho did on Adam at his creation, when he said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and have dominion over the fish of the sea,” &c.*

To this I answer, in the following remarks. 1. As it has been already shewn, that in the threatening, denounced for Adam's sin, there was nothing which appears inconsistent with the continuance of this present life for a season, or with the propagating his kind ; so for the like reason, there appears nothing in that threatening, upon the supposition that it reached Adam's posterity, inconsistent with their enjoying the temporal blessings of the present life, as long as this is continued; even those temporal blessings which God pronounced on Adam at his first creation. For it must be observed, that the blessings which God pronounced on Adany, when he first created him, and before the trial of his obediences

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »