Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

showed his face, which before was shut out, and not known. So St. Paul, Rom. v. 12, “ By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; i. e. a state of death and mortality: and, 1 Cor. xv. 22, “In Adam all die;" i. e. by reason of his transgression, 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 sin; only they differ about the signification of the word death: for some will have it to be a state of guilt, wherein not only he, but all his posterity was so involved, that every one descended of him deserved endless torment, in hell-fire. I shall say nothing more here, how far, in the apprehensions of men, this consists with the justice and goodness of God, having mentioned it above: but it seems a strange way of understanding a law, which requires the plainest and directest words, that by death should be meant eternal life in misery. Could any one be supposed, by a law,

“ For felony thou shalt die," not that he should lose his life; but be kept alive in perpetual, exquisite torments ? And would any one think himself 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. thou and thy posterity shall be, ever after, incapable of doing any thing, but what shall be sinful and provoking to me, and shall justly deserve my wrath and indignation. Could a worthy man be supposed to put such terms upon the obedience of his subjects? Much less can the righteous God be supposed, as a punishment of one sin, wherewith he is displeased, to put man under the necessity of sioning continually, and so multiplying the provocation. The reason of this strange interpretation, we shall perhaps find, in some mistaken places of the New Testament. I must confess, by death here, I can

that says,

[ocr errors]

understand nothing but a ceasing to be, the losing of all actions of life and sense. Such a death caine on Adam and all his posterity, by his first disobedience in paradise ; under which death they should have lain for ever, had it not been for the redemption by Jesus Christ. If by death, threatened to Adam, were meant the corruption of human nature in his posterity, it is strange, that the new Testament should not any where take notice of it, and tell us that corruption seized on all, because of Adam's transgression, as well as it tells us so of death. But, as I remember, every one's sin is charged upon himself only.

Another part of the sentence was, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake: in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground : for out of it wast thou taken; dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return." Gen. iii. 17-19. This shows, that paradise was a place of bliss, as well as immor tality; without drudgery, and without sorrow. 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 posterity were 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 bliss of paradise. Rom. v. 12, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” But here will occur the common objection that so many stumble at: “How doth it consist with the justness and goodness of God, that the posterity of Adam should suffer for his sin; the innocent be punished for the guilty ?” Very well, if keeping one from what he has no right to, be called a punishment; the state of immortality, in paradise, is not due to the posterity 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 does

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 misery, worse than not being, without any fault or demerit of their own; this, indeed, would be hard to reconcile with the notion wę have of justice; and much more with the goodness, and other attributes of the Supreme Being, which he has declared of himself; and reason, as well as revelation, must acknowledge to be in him; unless we will confound good and evil, God and Satan. That such a state of extreme, irremediable torment is worse than no being at all; if every one's own sense did not determine against the vain philosophy and foolish metaphysics of some men; yet our Saviour's peremptory decision, Matt. xxvi. 24, has put it past doubt, that one may be in such an estate, that it had been better for him not to have been born. But that such a temporary life as we now have, with all its frailties and ordinary miseries, 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. Το those that obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doth evil.” ver. 9. 2 Cor. v. io, “We must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.”. And Christ himself, who knew for what he should condemn men at the last day, assures us, in the two places, where he describes his proceeding at the great judgment, that the sentence of condemnation passes only upon the workers of iniquity, such as neglected to fulfil the law in acts of charity, Matt. vii. 23. Luke xiii. 27. Matt. xxv. 41, 42, &c. And again, John v. 29, our Saviour tells the Jews, that all “shall come forth of their graves, they that have done good, to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." But here is no condemnation of any one, for what his

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

forefather. Adam had done, which it is not likely should have been omitted, if that should have been a . cause, why any one was adjudged to the fire, with the devil and his angels. And he tells his disciples, 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 paradise, and all his posterity born out of it, the consequence of it was, that all men should die, and remain under death for ever, and so be utterly lost.

From this estate of death, Jesus Christ restores all mankind to life; i Cor. xv. 22, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." How this shall be, the same apostle tells us in the foregoing verse 21, “ By man death came, by man also came the resurrection 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 recover 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 resurrection.

And thus men are, by the second Adam, restored to life again ; that so by Adam's sin they may none of them lose any thing, which by their own righteousness they might have a title to: for righteousness, 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 reckoned of grace, but of debt.And Rev. xxii. 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 posterity of Adam were just, they shall not lose the reward of it, eternal life and bliss, by being his mortal issue: Christ will bring them all to life again; and then they shall 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 says, Matt. xxv. 46, shall go into eternal life. Nor shall any one miss it, who has done what our Saviour directed the lawyer, who asked,

وو

upon him.

Luke x. 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 of the law, should be in paradise: but that the wages of sin should be to every man, as it was to Adam, an exclusion of him out of that happy state of immortality, and bring death

him. And this is so conformable to the eternal and established law of right and wrong, that it is spoken of too, as if it could not be otherwise. St. James says, chap. i. 15, “ Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,” as it were by a natural and necessary production. “Sin entered into the world, and death by sin," 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 which are written in the book of the law to do them.” And of this St. James gives a reason, chap. ii. 10, 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, sins against the authority which established the law.

Here then we have the standing 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 immorta is the portion of sinners; of all those, who have any way broke that law, and failed of a complete obedience to it, by the guilt of any one transgression. And thus mankind by the law, are put upon the issues of life or death, as they are righteous or unrighteous, just or unjust; i. e. exact performers or transgressors of the law.

But yet, “ All having sinned,” Rom. iii. 23, “and come short 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, so that, “by the.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »