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CH R I S T I A N I TY,
THE little satisfaction and consistency that is to be found in most of the systems of divinity I have met with, made me betake myself to the sole reading of the scripture (to which they all appeal) for the understanding the Christian religion.
What from thence, by an attentive and unbiassed search I have feceived, Reader, I here deliver to thee.
If by this my labour thou receivest any light or confirmation in the truth, join with me in thanks to the Father of lights for his condescension to our understandings.
If, upon à fair and unprejudiced examination, thou findeft I have mikaken the fense and tenor of the gospel, I beseech thee, as a true Christian, in the spirit of the Gospel (which is that of charity) and in the words of fobriety, set me right in the doctrine of salvation.
the doctrine of redemption, and consequently of the gospel, is Founded upon the supposition of Adam's fall. To understand therefore what we are restored to by Jesus Christ, we must consider what the scripture. Thews we lost by Adam. This I thought worthy of a diligent and unbiased search : fince I found the two extremes, that men tun into on this point, either on the one hand shook the foundations of all religion, or on the other made Christianity almost nothing. For whilst some men would have all Adam's posterity doomed to eternal infinite punishment, for the transgression of Adam, whom millions had never heard of, and no one had autho VOL. IV, B
rized to transact for him, or be his representative ; this seemed to others so little consistent with the justice or goodness of the great and infinite God, that they thought there was 110 redemption necefsary, and consequently that there was none, rather than admit of it upon a supposition so derogatory to the honour and attributes of that Infinite Being; and 10 made Jesus Christ nothing but the restorer and preacher of pure natural religion; thereby doing violence to the whole tenor of the New Testament. And, indeed, both fides will be suspected to have trespassed this way, against the written word of God, by any one, who does but take it to be a collection of writings designed by God for the instruction of the illiterate bulk of mankind in the way to salvation; and therefore generally and in necessary points to be understood in the plain direct ineaning of the words and phrases, sucli as they may be fuppofed to have had in the mouths of the speakers, who used them according to the language of that time and country wherein they lived, without fuch learned, artificial, and forced senses of them, as are sought out, and put upon thein in inost of the systems of divinity, according to the notions that each one has been bred up in.
To one that thus unbiassed reads the fcriptures, what Adam fell from, is visible, was the state of perfect obedience, which is called “ juftice" in the New Testament, though the word which in the original signifies " justice be translated righteousness :” and by this fall he loft paradife, wherein was tranquillity and the tree of life, i. e. he loft bliss and immortality. The penalty annexed to the breach of the law, with the sentence pronounced by God upon it, shews this. The penalty ftands thus, Gen. ii. 17. “In the day that thou “ eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” How was this executed? He did eat, but in the day he did eat, he did not actually die, but was turned out of paradise from the tree of life, and shut out for ever from it, left he should take thereof and live for ever. This shews that the state of paradife was a state of immortality, of life without end, which he lof that very day that he cat: his life began froin thence to shorten and waste, and to have an end; and from thence to his actual death, was but like the time of a prisoner between the fentence past and the execution, which was in vicw and certain. Death then entered and shewed his face, which before was fhut out, and not known. So St. Paul, Rom. v. 12. “ By one man " fin entered into the world, and death by fin;" i. e. a state of deatli and mortality: and i Cor. xv. 22. “ In Adam all die ;” i. c. by reason of transgreffion all men are mortal, and come to die.
This is so clear in these cited places, and so much the current of the New Testament, that nobody can deny but that the doctrine of the gospel is, that death came on all men by Adam's fin; only they differ about the fignification of the word " death.” For some will have it to be a itate of guilt, wherein not only he, but all his posterity was so involved, that every one descended of him deferved endlels torment in hell-fire. 'I fhall say nothing more here, how far, in the apprehenfions of men, this confifts with the Futtice and
goodness goodness of God, having mentioned it above : but it seems a strange way of understanding a law, which requires the plainest and directeft words, that by “ death” should te meant eternal life in misery. Could any one be supposed by a law, that says, “ for felony thou ** Thalt dié," not that he should lose his life, but be kept alive in perpetual exquisite torments ? And would any one think himielf fairly dealt with, that was so used ?
To this they would have it be also a state of necessary sinning, and provoking God in every action that men do: a yet harder sense of the word “ death” than the other. God says,
That in the day “ that thou eatest of the forbidden fruit, thou shalt die;" i.e. thoi and thy pofterity shall be ever after uncapable of doing any thing, but what shall be sinful and provoking to me, and thall justly deserve my wrath and indignation. Could a worthy man be supposed to put such terms upon the obedience of his subjects ? much less cán the rigliteous God be supposed, as a punishment of one fin wherewith he is displeased, to put a man under a necessity of sin., ning continually, and so multiplying the provocation. The reaso i of this strange interpretation we thall perhaps find in some mistaken places of the New Testament. I must confess, by death here, I can understand nothing but a ceasing to be, the loting of all actions of life and fense. Such a death came on Adam and all his pofterity by his first disobedience in paradise, under which death they would have lain för ever, had it not been for the redemption by Jesus Christ. If by death threatened to Adam, were meant the co ruption of human nature in his pofterity, it is strange that the Ne v Teftament should not any where take notice of it, and tell us, that corruption feized on all because of Adam's transgression, as well as it tells us fo of deathı. But, as I remember, every one's fin is charged upon himself only.
Another part of the sentence was, “ Cursed is the ground for thr " fake ; in forrow Thail thou eat of it all the days of thy life, in " the sweat of thy face shalt thou cat bread, till thou return unto " the ground : for out of it wast thou taken ; duft thou art, and t) “ dust thalt thou return." Gen. iii. 17, 19. This shews that radife was a place of bliss as well as immortality, without toil, and without forrow. But when man was turned out, he was exposed to the toil, anxiety, and frailties of this mortal life, which should end in the dust, out of which he was made, and to which he should return; and then have no more life or sense than the dust had, out of which he was made.
As Adam was turned out of paradise, so all his pofterity was born ouc of it, out of the reach of the tree of life. All like their father Adam in a state of mortality, void of the tranquillity and bliss of paradife. Rom. v 12.“ By one man sin entered into the world, “ and death by fin.” But here will occur the common objection, that so many stumble at: how doth it consist with the justice and goodness of God, that the posterity of Adam Mould suffer for his Kn; the innocent be punished for the guilty? Very well, if keep
ing one from what lie lias no right to, be called a punishment
Adam being thus turned out of paradise, and all his pofterity born
going ver. 21. * By man death came, 'by man also came the resur** rečtion from the dead.” Whereby it appears, that the life, which Jesus Christ restores to all men, is that:life, which they receive again at the resurrection. Then they recovered from death, which otherwise all mankind should have continued under, lost for ever, as appears by St. Paul's arguing 1 Cor. xv. concerning the refurreétion.
And thus men are by the second Adam restored to life again : that so by Adam's fin they may none of them lose any thing, which by their own righteousness they might have a title to. For right, eousness, or an exact obedience to the law, seems by the scripture to have a claim of right to eternal life, Rom. iv. 4. “ To him that ** worketh," i. e. does the works of the law, “is the reward not *6 reckoned of
but OF DEBT:V and Rev. xxji. 14. " Blessed “ are they who do his commandments, that they may HAVE
RIGHT to the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” If any of the pofterity.of Adam were just, they shall not lose the reward of it, eternal life and bliss, by being his mortal issue : Chrift will bring them all to life again, and then they shall be put every one upon his own trial, and receive judgeir.ent, as he is found to be righteous or not: and “the righteous," as our Saviour says, Matt. XXV. 16. “ Thall go into eternal life.” Nor thall any one miss it, who has done what our Saviour directed the lawyer, who asked, Luke 3. 25. “ What he should do to inherit eternal life? do this,' i e. what is required by the law; “ and thou shalt live."
On the other side, it seems the unalterable purpose of the divine justice, that no unrighteous person, no one that is guilty of any breach cf the law, fhould be in paradise; but that the wages of fin Thould be to every man, as it was to Adam, an exclusion of him out of that happy state of immortality, and bring death upon him. And this is so conformable to the eternal and established law of right and wrong, that it is spoke of too as if it could not be otherwife St. James says, chap. i. 15. “Sin, when it is finished, bring“ eth forth death,” as it were by a natural and necessary production. “ Sin entered into the world, and death by fin,” says St. Paul; Rom. v. 12. and vi. 23. “ The wages of sin is death.“ Death is the purchase of any, of every sin. Gal. iii. 10. “Cursed is every
one who continueth not in all things wirich are written in the “ book of the law to do them.” And of this St. James gives a reason, chap. ii. 19, 11. ** Whosoever shall keep the whole law, * and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all: for he that said, “ Do not commit adultery, said also, do not kill :" i. e. He that offends in any one point, fins against the authority which established the law.
Here then we have the ftanding and fixed measures of life and death. Immortality and bliss belong to the righteous; those who have lived in an exact conformity to the law of God, are out of the reach of death : but an exclusion from paradise, and loss of immortality, is the portion of finners, of all those who have any way