Изображения страниц

rized to tranfact for him, or be his reprefentative; this feemed to others fo little confiftent with the juftice or goodness of the great and infinite God, that they thought there was no redemption neceffary, and confequently that there was none, rather than admit of it upon a fuppofition fo derogatory to the honour and attributes of that Infinite Being; and fo made Jefus Chrift nothing but the reftorer and preacher of pure natural religion; thereby doing violence to the whole tenor of the New Testament. And, indeed, both fides will be fufpected to have trefpaffed this way, against the written word of God, by any one, who does but take it to be a collec tion of writings defigned by God for the inftruction of the illiterate bulk of mankind in the way to falvation; and therefore generally and in neceffary points to be understood in the plain direct meaning of the words and phrafes, fuch as they may be fupposed 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 fenfes of them, as are fought out, and put upon them in most of the fyftems of divinity, according to the notions that each one has been bred up in.

To one that thus unbiaffed reads the fcriptures, what Adam fell from, is vifible, was the ftate of perfect obedience, which is called "justice" in the New Teftament, though the word which in the ori ginal fignifies" justice" be translated " righteousness :" and by this fall he loft paradife, wherein was tranquillity and the tree of life, i. e. he loft blifs and immortality. The penalty annexed to the breach of the law, with the fentence pronounced by God upon it, fhews this. The penalty ftands thus, Gen. ii. 17. "In the day that thou "eateft thereof thou fhalt 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 paradife from the tree of life, and fhut out for ever from it, left he fhould take thereof and live for ever. This fhews that the ftate of paradife was a state of immortality, of life without end, which he loft that very day that he eat his life began from thence to fhorten and waste, and to have an end; and from thence to his actual death, was but like the time of a prifoner between the fentence paft and the execution, which was in view and certain. Death then entered and fhewed his face, which before was shut 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 death and mortality and 1 Cor. xv. 22. "In Adam all die ;" i. e. by reafon of tranfgreffion all men are mortal, and come to die.

This is fo clear in thefe cited places, and fo much the current of the New Teftament, that nobody can deny but that the doctrine of the gofpel is, that death came on all men by Adam's fin; only they differ about the fignification of the word "death." For fome will have it to be a ftate of guilt, wherein not only he, but all his pofterity was fo involved, that every one defcended of him deferved endlefs torment in hell-fire. I fhall fay nothing more here, how far, in the apprehenfions of men, this confifts with the justice and


goodness of God, having mentioned it above: but it seems a ftrange way of understanding a law, which requires the plaineft and directeft words, that by "death" fhould be meant eternal life in mifery. Could any one be fuppofed by a law, that fays, " for felony thou "fhalt die," not that he fhould lofe his life, but be kept alive in perpetual exquifite torments? And would any one think himself fairly dealt with, that was fo ufed?

To this they would have it be alfo a ftate of neceffary finning and provoking God in every action that men do: a yet harder fenfe of the word "death" than the other. God fays, "That in the day

that thou eateft of the forbidden fruit, thou fhalt die;" i. e. thou and thy pofterity fhall be ever after uncapable of doing any thing, but what fhall be finful and provoking to me, and fhall justly deferve my wrath and indignation. Could a worthy man be fuppofed to put fuch terms upon the obedience of his fubjects? much lefs can the righteous God be fuppofed, as a punishment of one fin wherewith he is difpleafed, to put a man under a neceffity of finning continually, and fo multiplying the provocation? The reason of this ftrange interpretation we fhall perhaps find in fome mistaken places of the New Teftament. I must confefs, by death here, I can understand nothing but a ceafing to be, the lofing of all actions of life and fenfe. Such a death came on Adam and all his pofte rity by his first difobedience in paradife, under which death they would have lain for ever, had it not been for the redemption by Jefus Chrift. If by death threatened to Adam, were meant the corruption of human nature in his pofterity, it is ftrange that the New Teftament should not any where take notice of it, and tell us, that corruption seized on all because of Adam's tranfgreffion, as well as it tells us fo of death. But, as I remember, every one's fin is charged upon himself only.

Another part of the fentence was, " Curfed is the ground for thy "fake; in forrow fhalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life, in

the fweat of thy face fhalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto "the ground: for out of it waft thou taken; duft thou art, and to "duft fhalt thou return." Gen. iii. 17, 19. This fhews that paradife was a place of blifs 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 fhould end in the duft, out of which he was made, and to which he should return; and then have no more life or fenfe than the dust had, out of which he was made.

As Adam was turned out of paradife, fo all his pofterity was born out 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 blifs of paradife. Rom. v. 12. " By one man fin entered into the world, "and death by fin." But here will occur the common objection, that fo many ftumble at: how doth it confift with the juftice and goodness of God, that the pofterity of Adam fhould fuffer for his in; the innocent be punished for the guilty? Very well, if keepB 2


ing one from what he has no right to, be called a punishment. The state of immortality in paradife is not due to the pofterity of Adam more than to any other creature. Nay, if God afford them a temporary mortal life, it is his gift, they owe it to his bounty, they could not claim it as their right, nor docs he injure them when he takes it from them. Had he taken from mankind any thing that was their right; or did he put men in a state of mifery worfe than not being, without any fault or demerit of their own; this, indeed, would be hard to reconcile with the notion we have of justice, and much more, with the goodnefs and other attributes of the Supreme Being, which he has declared of himself, and reafon as well as revelation must acknowledge to be in him; unlefs we will confound good and evil, God and Satan. That fuch a state of extreme irremediable torment is worfe than no being at all, if every one's fenfe did not determine against the vain philofophy, and foolifh metaphyficks of fome men; yet our Saviour's peremptory decifion, Matt. xxvi. 24. has put it paft doubt, that one may be in fuch an eftate, that it had been "better for him not to have been born." But that fuch a temporary life as we now have, with all its frailties and ordinary miferies, is better than no being, is evident, by the high value we put upon it ourselves. And therefore, though all die in Adam, yet none are truly punished but for their own deeds. Rom. ii. 6. "God will render to every one, how? according to

his deeds. To thofe that obey unrighteoufnefs, indignation and * wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every foul of man that doth "evil," ver. 9. 2 Cor. v. 10. "We must appear before the judge"ment-feat of Chrift, that every one may receive the things done "in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good "or bad." And Chrift himfelf, who knew for what he fhould condemn men at the last day, affures us in the two places where he defcribes his proceeding at the great judgement, that the fentence of condemnation paffes only on the workers of iniquity, fuch as 'neglected to fulfill the law in acts of charity, Matt. vii. 23. Luke xiii. 27. Matt. xxv. 42. And again, John v. 29. our Saviour tells the Jews, "that all fhall come forth of their graves, they that have done good, to the refurrection of life, and they that have done " evil, unto the refurrection of damnation." But here is no condemnation of any one, for what his fore-father Adam had done, which it is not likely fhould have been omitted, if that fhould have been a caufe why any one was adjudged to the fire with the devil and his angels. And he tells his difciples, that when he comes again with his angels in the glory of his father," that then he will "render to every one according to his works." Matt. xvi. 27.

Adam being thus turned out of paradife, and all his pofterity born out of it, the confequence of it was, that all men fhould die, and remain under death for ever, and fo be utterly loft.

From this eftate of death Jefus Chrift reftores all mankind to life; 1 Cor. 22. "As in Adam all die, fo in Chrift fhall all be made alive." How this fhall be, the fame apoftle tells us in the fore

going ver. 21. "By man death came, by man alfo came the refurrection from the dead." Whereby it appears, that the life,' which Jefus Chrift restores to all men, is that life, which they receive again at the refurrection. Then they recovered from death, which otherwife all mankind should have continued under, loft for ever, as appears by St. Paul's arguing, 1 Cor. xv. concerning the refurrection.


And thus men are by the fecond Adam reftored to life again that fo by Adam's fin they may none of them lose any thing, which by their own righteoufnels they might have a title to. For righteousness, or an exact obedience to the law, feems by the fcripture 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 ❝ reckoned of grace, but OF DEBT" and Rev. xxii. 14. "Bleffed "are they who do his commandments, that they may HAVE "RIGHT to the tree of life, which is in the paradife of God." If any of the pofterity of Adam were juft, they fhall not lofe the reward of it, eternal life and blifs, by being his mortal issue: Chrift will bring them all to life again; and then they fhall be put every one upon his own trial, and receive judgment, as he is found to be righteous or not:" and "the righteous," as our Saviour fays, Matt. xxv. 46. “shall go into eternal life." Nor fhall any one mifs it, who has done what our Saviour directed the lawyer, who asked, Luke x. 25. What he fhould do to inherit eternal life? do this," i. e. what is required by the law and thou-fhalt live." 318

On the other fide, it feems the unalterable purpofe of the divine justice, that no unrighteous perfon, no one that is guilty of any breach of the law, fhould be in paradife; but that the wages of fin fhould be to every man, as it was to Adam, an exclufion of him out of that happy ftate of immortality, and bring death upon him. And this is fo conformable to the eternal and established law of right and wrong, that it is fpoke of too as if it could not be otherwife, St. James fays, chap. 115. "Sin, when it is finished, bring"eth forth death," as it wereby a natural and neceffary production. "Sin entered into the world, and death by fin," fays St. Paul, Rom, v. 12. and vi. 23. "The wages of fin is death." Death is the purchase of any, of every fin. Gal, iii, 10.Curfed is every "one who continueth not in all things which are written in the "book of the law to do them." And of this St. James gives a reafon, chap. ii. 10, 11, "Whosoever fhall keep the whole law, "and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all for he that faid, • Do not commit adultery, faid alfo, 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 blifs 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 exclufion from paradise, and loss of immortality, is the portion of finners, of all those who have any way

B 3


broke that law, and failed of a compleat obedience to it by the guile of any one tranfgreffion, And thus mankind by the law are put upon the iflues of life or death; as they are righteous or unrighte ous, juft or unjuft; i. e. exact performers, or tranfgreffors of the law, But yet "all having finned," Rom. iii, 23. "and come fhort of "the glory of God," i, e, the kingdom of God in heaven, which is often called his glory, "both Jews and Gentiles," ver, 22. fo that "by the deeds of the law no one could be justified,” ver. 20. ; it follows, that no one could then have eternal life and blifs,

Perhaps it will be demanded, why did God give fo hard a law to mankind, that to the Apoftles time no one of Adam's iffue had kept it? as appears by Rom. iii. and Gal. iii. 21, 22.

Anfw. It was fuch a law as the purity of God's nature required, and must be the law of fuch a creature as man, unless God would have made him a rational creature, and not required him to have lived by the law of reafon, but would have countenanced in him irregularity and difobedience to that light which he had, and that rule which was suitable to his nature; which would have been to have authorized diforder, confufion, and wickednefs in his creatures, For that this law was the law of reason, or, as it is called, of nature, we shall fee by-and-by; and if rational creatures will not live up to the rule of their reafon, who shall excuse them? If you will admit them to forfake reason in one point, why not in another? Where will you ftop? To difobey God in any part of his commands (and it is he that commands what reafon does) is direct rebellion; which if difpenfed with in any point, government and order are at an end, and there can be no bounds fet to the lawless exorbitancy of unconfined men, "The law therefore was," as St. Paul tells us, Rom. vii, 21, "holy, just, and good," and fuch as it ought, and could not otherwife be,

This then being the cafe, that whoever is guilty of any fin should certainly die, and ceafe to be, the benefit of life reftored by Chrift at the refurrection would have been no great advantage, (forafmuch as here again death must have seized upon all mankind, because all had finned; for the wages of fin is every where death, as well after, as before the refurrection), if God had not found out a way to justify fome, i. e. fo many as obeyed another law, which God gave, which in the New Teftament is called "the law of faith," Rom. iii. 27. and is opposed to "the law of works." And therefore the punishment of those who would not follow him was to lose their fouls, i. e. their lives, Mark viii. 35, 38. as is plain, confidering the occafion it was spoke on.

The better to understand "the law of faith," it will be convenient in the first place to confider "the law of works," The law of works then, in fhort, is that law which requires perfect obedience, without any remiffion or abatement; so that by that law a man cannot be juít, or justified, without an exact performance of every tittle. Such a perfect obedience in the New Testament is termed dinatoion, which we tranflate "righteoufnefs."


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »