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ings that we receive by the death of Christ with the guilt and misery that was brought upon us by the sin of Adam. Now it is confessed, that by Christ we have both an imputation or communication of the merits of his death, and likewise a purity and holiness of nature conveyed to us by his doctrine and spirit. In opposition then to this, if the comparison is closely to be pursued, there must be an imputation of sin as well as a corruption of nature transferred to us from Adam. This is the more considerable as to the point of imputation, because the chief design of St. Paul's discourse seems to be levelled at that, since it is begun upon the head of reconciliation and atonement; upon which it follows, that “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and death passed upon all men, for that (or as others render it, in whom) all have sinned (i).' . Now they think it is all one to their point, whether it be rendered for that,' or, in whom;' for though the latter word seems to deliver their opinion more precisely, yet it being affirmed that, according to the other rendering, all who die have sinned, and it being certain that many infants die who have never actually sinned, these must have sinned in Adam; they could sin no other way. It is afterwards said by St. Paul, that by the offence of one many were dead; that
(i) Rom. c. 5. v. 12.
the judgment was by one to condemnation; that by one man's offence death reigned by one; that by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; and that by one man's disobedience many were made sinners. As these words are positive and of great importance in themselves, so all this is much the stronger by the opposition in which every one of them is put to the effects and benefits of Christ's death, particularly to our justification through him, in which there is an imputation of the merits and effects of his death, that are thereby transferred to us; so that the whole effect of this discourse is taken away, if the imputation of Adam's sin is denied. And this explication does certainly quadrate more entirely to the words of the article, as it is known that this was the tenet of those who prepared the articles, it having been the generally received opinion from St. Austin's days downwards.”
But many persons, although they reject the Pelagian system, do not accede to this opinion of Augustine, concerning original guilt; as thinking it incompatible with the justice and goodness of God to make the whole race of men liable to punishment for the sin of Adam, in which they had no concern ; and the case which appears the most repugnant to the divine attributes, is that of infants and idiots, who being incapable of sinning, ought not to
be subject to punishment. These men admit that a mortal and corrupt nature is derived from Adam to all his descendants; and that this corruption is so strong, that no man ever lived to the age of maturity without sin; and consequently that every such person is liable to divine punishment, for the sins which he has himself actually committed, but not for Adam's sin. They therefore think that infants and idiots die, because of Adam's sin, but that no farther punishment awaits them. Our being thus adjudged to death, and to all the miseries that accompany mortality, they think may be well called God's wrath and damnation, as temporary judgments are often so denominated in Scripture : in this sense they understand the words of the Article ; and bishop Burnet seems to think it possible, that the framers of it, although their own opinion coincided with that of Augustine, from a spirit of moderation, designedly used such expressions as would admit of another interpretation.
It must be acknowledged that original guilt, considered in this point of view, is a difficult and abstruse subject; and as the Scriptures do not inform us what were the full and precise effects of Adam's disobedience upon his posterity, it is perhaps scarcely to be expected that there should be an uniformity of opinion among VOL. II.
divines upon that point; we may however observe, that the difference between those who confine original guilt to a mere liability to death and sin, and those who extend it to a liability to punishment also, is not very material, since both sides admit that Christ died as a propitiation for all the sins of the whole world, whatever were the nature and character of those sins. In either case the effects of Christ's obedience are commensurate with those of Adam's disobedience; and upon either principle, if we believe the Gospel, and act conformably to its precepts, all our sins, whether original in Adam, or actual in ourselves, will be forgiven, and we shall be eternally happy: “ As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (j).” They who consider the sin of Adam as imputed to all his descendants, believe that that sin will be remitted for the sake, and through the mediation, of Christ, and they contend that it is as consonant to perfect justice to impute the sin of Adam, as to impute the merits of Christ, to all mankind; and that the divine goodness is fully vindicated by the assurance, that God had pre-ordained the redemption of
(j) Rom. c. 5. v. 18.
man by Christ Jesus, when he punished the disobedience of Adam upon his posterity. There are indeed many passages in Scripture, which from the context appear to refer solely to the redemption of mankind from the guilt and penalty of sin, which Adam entailed upon the human race. In this sense, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” was “ the Redeemer of the whole world,"-delivered all mankind, without any exception, from the power of sin and death, to which they are by nature subject, and rendered them capable of eternal happiness, but at the same time at liberty, as responsible beings, to forfeit or secure that title to immortality, which he purchased by his blood. Thus the case of infants and idiots, who arc incapable of actual sin, of individual guilt, is clearly consistent with the justice and goodness of God, though considered as by nature liable to punishment. Thus “the Genties wno are without the law” of Moses or cf Christ, and cannot be saved by faith (“ for how shall they believe if they have not heard ?”) partake of “the salvation which is by Christ;” and thus the world collectively is “ made free from sin”—free from the punishment of original or birth-sin“ being justified freely by grace,” while individually “all men are sinners,” remain in a corrupted