Page images
PDF
EPUB

the language he uses every where else, but also in this very passage. He often here uses the word sin, and other words plainly of the same import, such as transgression, disobedience, offence. Nothing can be more evident, than that these are used as several names of the same thing; for they are used interchangeably, and put one for another. And these words are used no less than seventeen times in this one paragraph. Perhaps we shall find no place in the whole bible, in which the word, sin, and other words plainly synonomous, are used so often in so little compass. And in all these instances, in the proper sense, as signifying moral evil, and even so understood by Dr. T. himself (as appears by his own exposition) but only in these two places (ver. 12, 19.) where, in the midst of all, to evade a clear evidence of the doctrine of original sin, another meaning must be found out, and it must be supposed that the apostle uses the word in a sense entirely different, signifying something that neither implies nor supposes any moral evil at all in the subject.

Here it is very remarkable, how the gentleman who so greatly insisted upon it, that the word, death, must needs be understood in the same sense throughout this paragraph; yea, that it is evidently, clearly, and infallibly, so, inasmuch as the apostle is still discoursing on the same subject; yet can, without the least difficulty, suppose the word sin, to be used so differently in the very same passage, wherein the apostle is discoursing on the same thing. Let us take that one instance in ver. 12. “ Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Here, by sin, implied in the word sinncd, in the end of the sentence, our author understands something perfectly and altogether diverse from what is meant by the word sin, twice in the former part of the same sentence, of which this latter part is the explication. And a sense entirely different from the use of the word twice in the next sentence, wherein the apostle is still most plainly discoursing on the same subject, as is not denied. And so our author himself understands ver. 14. Afterwards (ver. 19.) the apostle uses the word, sinners, which our author supposes to be in a somewhat different sense still. So that here is the utmost violence of the kind that can be conceived of, to make out a scheme against the plainest evidence, in changing the meaning of a word backward and forward, in one paragraph, all about one thing, and in different parts of the same sentence, occurring in quick repetitions, with a variety of other synonymous words to fix its signification. To which we may add, the continued use of the word in all the preceding and subsequent parts of this epistle ; in none of which places is it pretended, but that the word is used in the VOL. II.

63

1

proper sense, by our author in his paraphrase and notes on the whole epistle*.

But indeed we need go no further than ver. 12. What the apostle means by sin, in the latter part of the verse, is evident, by comparing it with the former part; the last clause being exegetical of the first. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that (or, unto which) all have sinned.” Here sin and death are so spoken of in the former and in the latter part that the same things are clearly meant by the terms in both parts. Besides, to interpret sinning, here, by falling under the suffering of death, is yet the more violent and unreasonable, because the apostle in this very place once and again distinguishes between sin and death ; plainly speaking of one as the effect, and the other the cause. So in the 21st verse, that as sin hath reigned unto DEATH ; and in the 12th verse, sin entered into the world, and DEATH by sin. And this plain distinction holds through all the discourse, as between death and the offence, ver. 15 and ver. 17, and between the offence and condemnation, ver. 18.

4. Though we should omit the consideration of the manner in which the apostle uses the words, sin, sinned, fc. in other places, and in other parts of this discourse, yet Dr. T.'s interpretation of them would be very absurd.

The case stands thus : According to his exposition, we are said to have sinned by an active verb, as though we had actively sinned ; yet this is not spoken truly and properly, but it is put figuratively for our becoming sinners passively, our being made or constituted sinners. Yet again, not that we do truly become sinners passively, or are really made sinners, by any thing that God does; this also is only a figurative or tropical representation; and the meaning is only, we are condemned, and treated as if we were sinners. Not indeed that we are properly condemned, for God never truly condemns the innocent : But this is only a figurative representation of the thing. It is but as it were condemning; because it is appointing to death, a terrible evil, as if it were a punishment. But then, in reality, here is no appointment to a terrible evil, or any evil at all; but

* Agreeably to his manner, our author, in explaining the 7th chap. of Ro. mans, understands the pronoun I or me, used by the apostle in that one continued discourse, in no less than six different senses. He takes it in the 1st ver. to signify the apostle Paul himself. In the 8, 9, 10, and 11th verses, for the people of the Jews, through all ages, both before and after Moscs, especially the carnal ungodly part of them. In the 13th ver. for an objecting Jew, entering into a dialogue with the apostle. In the 15, 16, 17th, 20th, and latter part of the 25th ver. it is understood in two different senses, for two l's in the same person; one a man's reason; and the other, his passions and carnal appetites. And the 7th and former part of the last versé, for us Christians in general; or, for all that enjoy the word of God, the law and the gospel : And these different senses, the most of them strangely intermixed and interchanged backwards and forwards.

truly to a benefit, a great benefit: And so in representing death as a punishment, another figure is used, and an exceeding bold one ; for, as we are appointed to it, it is so far from being an evil or punishment, that it is really a favour, and that of the highest nature, appointed by mere grace and love, though it seems to be a calamity.

Thus we have tropes and figures multiplied, one upon another ; and all in that one word, sinned ; according to the manner, as it is supposed, in which the apostle uses it. We have a figurative representation, not of a reality, but a figurative representation. Neither is this a representation of a reality, but of another thing that still is but a figurative representation of something else: Yea, even this something else is still but a figure, and one that is very harsh and far-fetched. So that here we have a figure, to represent a figure, even a figure, of a figure, representing some very remote fig. ure, which most obscurely represents the thing intended ; if the most terrible evil can indeed be said of all to represent the contrary good of the highest kind. And now, what cannot be made of any place of scripture, in such a way as this? And is there any hope of ever deciding any controversy by the scripture, in the way of using such a licence in order to force it to a compliance with our own schemes? If the apostle indeed uses language after so strange a manner in this place, it is perhaps such an instance, as not only there is not the like in all the bible besides, but perhaps in no writing whatsoever. And this, not in any parabolical, visionary, or prophetic description, in which difficult and obscure representations are wont to be made; nor in a dramatic or poetical representation, in which a great license is often taken, and bold figures are commonly to be expected. But it is in a familiar letter, wherein the apostle is delivering gospel-instruction, as a minister of the New Testament; and wherein, as he professes, he delivers divine truth without the vail of ancient figures and similitudes, and uses great plainness of speech. And in a discourse that is wholly didactic, narrative, and argumentative; evidently setting himself to explain the doctrine he is upon, in the rea. son and nature of it, with a great variety of expressions, turning it as it were on every side, to make his meaning plain, and to fix in his readers the exact notion of what he intends. Dr. T. himself observes,* “ This apostle takes great care to guard and explain every part of his subject : And I may venture to say, he has left no part of it unexplained or unguarded. Never was an author more exact and cautious in this than he. Sometimes he writes notes on a sentence liable to exccption, and wanting explanation.” Now I think, this care and ex

* Pref. to paraph. on Rom. p. 146, 48.

actness of the apostle no where appears more than in the place we are upon. Nay, I scarcely know another instance equal to this, of the apostle's care to be well understood, by being very particular, explicit, and precise, setting the matter forth in every light, going over and over again with his doctrine, clearly to exbibit, and fully to settle and determine the thing at which he aims.

SECT. II.

Some Observations on the Connections, Scope, and Sense of this

remarkable Paragraph, Rom. v. 12, 8-c. With some Re: flections on the Eridence which we here have of the Doctrine of Original Sin.

The connection of this remarkable paragraph with the foregoing discourse in this epistle, is not obscure and difficult, nor to be sought for at a distance. It may be plainly seen, only by a general glance on what goes before, from the begin. ning of the epistle : And indeed what is said immediately before in the same chapter, leads directly to it. The apostle in the preceding part of this epistle had largely treated of the sinfulness and misery of all mankind, Jews as well as Gentiles, He had particularly spoken of the depravity and ruin of man. kind in their natural state, in the foregoing part of this chapter ; representing them as being sinners, ungodly enemies, exposed to divine urath, and without strength. This naturally leads him to observe, how this so great and deplorable an event came to pass; how this universal sin and ruin came into the world. And with regard to the Jews in particular, though they might allow the doctrine of original sin in profession, they were strongly prejudiced against what was implied in it, or evidently followed from it, with regard to themselves. In this respect they were prejudiced against the doctrine of universal sinfulness, and exposedness to wrath by nature, looking on themselves as by nature holy, and favourites of God, because they were the children of Abraham; and with them the apostle had laboured most in the foregoing part of the epistle, to convince them of their being by nature as sinful, and as much the children of wrath, as the Gentiles: It was therefore exceeding proper, and what the apostle's design mosi naturally led him to, that they should take off their eyes from their father Abraham, their father in distinction from other nations, and direct them to their father Adam, who was the common father of mankind, equally of Jews and Gentiles. And when he had entered on this doctrine of the derivation of sin and death to all mankind from Adam, no wonder if he thought it needful to be somewhat

particular in it, seeing he wrote to Jews and Gentiles; the former which had been brought up under the prejudices of a proud opinion of themselves, as a holy people by nature, and the latter had been educated in total ignorance.

Again, the aposile had, from the beginning of the epistle, been endeavouring to evince the absolute dependence of all mankind on the free grace of God for salvation, and the greatness of this grace; and particularly in the former part of this chapter. The greatness of this grace he shews especially by two things. (1.) The universal corruption and misery of mankind; as in all the foregoing chapters, and in several preceding verses of this chapter, (ver. 6–- 10.) (2.) The greatness of the benefits which believers receive, and the greatness of the glory for which they hope. So especially in ver. 1-5, and Ilth of this chapter. And here, ver. 12. to the end, he still pursues the same design of magnifying the grace of God, in the favour, life, and happiness which believers. in Christ receive ; speaking here of the grace of God, the gift by grace, the abounding of grace, and the reign of grace. And he still sets forth the freedom and riches of grace by the same two arguments, riz. The universal sinfulness and ruin of mankind, all having sinned, all being naturally exposed to death, judgment and condemnation ; and the exceeding greatness of the benefit received being far greater than the misery which comes by the first Adam, and abounding beyond it. And it is by no means consistent with the apostle's scope, to suppose, that the benefit which we have by Christ, as the antitype of Adam, here mainly insisted on, is without any grace at all, being only a restoration to life of such as never deserved death.

Another thing observable in the apostle's grand scope from the beginning of the epistle, is, that he endeavours to shew the greatness and absoluteness of dependence on the re demption and righteousness of Christ, for justification and life, that he might magnify and eralt the Redeemer; in which design his whole heart was swallowed up, and may be looked upon as the main design of the whole epistle. And this is what he had been upon in the preceding part of this chapter, inferring it from the same argument, even the utier sinfulness and ruin of all men. And he is evidently still on the same thing from the 12th verse to the end ; speaking of the same justification and righteousness wbich he had dwelt on before, and not another totally diverse. No wonder, when the apostle is treating so fully and largely of our restoration, righteousness, and life by Christ, that he is led by it to consider our fall, sin, death, and ruin by Adam; and to observe wherein these two opposite heads of mankind agree, and wherein they differ, in the manner of conveyance of opposite influences and communications from each.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »