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ii. 21. i. e. (still according to Dr. T.'s own sense) if there was a law, that man, in his present state, had sufficient power perfectly to fulfil
. For Dr. T. supposes the reason why the law could not give life, to be “not because it was weak in itself, but through the weakness of our flesh, and the infirmity of the human nature in the present state."* But he says, “We are under a mild dispensation of Grace, making allowance for our infirmities."| By our infirmities, we may upon good grounds suppose he means that infirmity of human nature, which he gives as the reason why the law cannot give life. But what grace is there in making that allowance for our infirmities, which justice itself (according to his doctrine) most absolutely requires, as he supposes divine justice exactly proportions our duty to our ability ?
Again, if it be said, that although Christ's redemption was not necessary to preserve men from beginning to sin, and getting into a course of sin, because they have sufficient power in themselves to avoid it; yet it may be necessary to deliver men, after they have by their own folly brought themselves under the dominion of evil appetites and passions.I I answer, if it be so, that men need deliverance from those habits and passions, which are become too strong for them, yet that deliverance, on our author's principles, would be no salvation from sin. For, the exercise of passions which are too strong for us, and which we cannot overcome, is necessary; And he strongly urges, that a necessary evil can be no moral evil. It is true, it is the effect of evil, as it is the effect of a bad practice, while the man had power to have avoided it. But then according to Dr. T. that evil cause alone is sin ; for be says expressly, "the cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth, or which proceedeth from it.”'S And as to that sin which was the cause, the man needed no Saviour from that, having had sufficient power in himself to have avoided it. So that it follows, by our author's scheme, that none of mankind, neither infants nor adult persons, neither the more nor less vicious, neither Jews nor Gentiles, neither Heathens nor Christians, ever did or ever could stand in any need of a Saviour ; and that, with respect to all, the truth is, Christ is dead in vain.
If any should say, although all mankind in all ages have sufficient ability to do their whole duty, and so may by their own power enjoy perfect freedom from sin, yet God foresaw that they would sin, and that after they had sinned, they would need Christ's death. I answer, it is plain, by what the apostle
* Note on Rom. y. 20. p. 297.
| Page 92. S. See
P. 228. and also what he says of the helpless state of the heathen, in paraph. and notes on Rom. vii, and beginning of chap. viii. $ Page 128.
says in those places which were just now mentioned, (Gal. ii. 21. and iii. 21.) that God would have esteemed it needless to give his Son to die for men, unless there had been a prior impossibility of their having righteousness by any law; and that, if there had been a law which could have given life, this other way by the death of Christ would not have been provided. And this appears to be agreeable to our author's own sense of things, by his words which have been cited, wherein he
says, “It would have FRUSTRATED or rendered Useless the grace of God, if Christ died to accomplish what was or MIGHT HAVE BEEN effected by law itself, without his death."
V. It will follow on Dr. T.'s scheme, not only that Christ's redemption is needless for saving from sin, or its consequences, but also that it does no good that way, has no tendency to any diminution of sin in the world. For as to any infusion of virtue or holiness into the heart, by divine power through Christ or his redemption, it is altogether inconsistent with this author's notions. With him, inwrought virtue, if there were any such thing, would be no virtue ; not being the effect of our own will, choice, and design, but only of a sovereign act of God's power*. And therefore, all that Christ does to increase virtue, is only increasing our talents, our light, advantages, means and motives; as he often explains the matter f. But sin is not at all diminished. For he says, our duty must be measured by our talents; as, a child that has less talents, has less duty; and therefore must be no more exposed to commit sin, than he that has greater talents; because he that has greater talents, has more duty required, in exact proportion s. If so he that has but one talent, has as much advantage to perform that one degree of duty which is required of him, as he that has five talents, to perform his five degrees of duty, and is no more exposed to fail of it. And that man's guilt, who sins against greater advantages, means, and motives, is greater in proportion to his talents §. And therefore it will follow, on Dr. T.'s principles, that men stand no better chance, have no more eligible or valuable probability of freedom from sin and punishment, or of contracting but little guilt, or of performing required duty, with the great advantages and talents implied in Christ's redemption, than without them; when all things are computed, and put into the balances together, the numbers, degrees, and aggravations of sin exposed to, degrees of duty required, &c. So that men have no redemption from sin, and no new means of performing duty, that are valuable or worth any thing at all. And thus the great redemption by Christ in every respect comes to nothing, with regard both to infants and adult persons.
* See p. 180, 245, 250.
In p. 44, 50, and innumerable other places.
The Evidence of the Doctrine of Original Sin from what the
Scripture teaches of the Application of Redemption.
The truth of the doctrine of original sin is very clearly manifest from what the scripture says of that change of state, which it represents as necessary to an actual interest in the spiritual and eternal blessings of the Redeemer's kingdom.
In order to this, it speaks of it as absolutely necessary for every one, that he be regenerated, or born again. John iii. 3. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man (rewnan aww-sv) be begotten again, or born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Dr. T. though he will not allow that this signifies any. change from a state of natural propensity to sin, yet supposes that the new birth here spoken of, means a man's being brought to “a divine life, in a right use and application of the natural pow. ers, in a life of true holiness* :" And that it is the attainment of those habits of virtue and religion, which gives us the real character of true christians, and the children of God;t and that it is putting on the new nature of right action. I
But in order to proceed in the most sure and safe manner in understanding what is meant in scripture by being born again, and so in the inferences we draw from what is said of the necessity of it, let us compare scripture with scripture, and consider what other terms or phrases are used, where respect is evidently had to the same change. And here I would observe the following things.
1. If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest, that by regeneration, or being begotten or born again, the same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the scripture speaks of as effected in true REPENTANCE and CONVERSION. I put repentance and conversion together, because the scripture puts them together, Acts ii. 19. and because they plainly signify much the same thing. The word (ustavova) repentance signifies a change of the mind ; as the word conversion, means a chunge or turning from sin to God. And that this is the same change with that which is called regeneration, (excepting that this latter term especially signifies the change, as the mind is passive in it) the following things may shew.
In the change which the mind undergoes in repentance and conversion, is attained that character of true christians which is
* Page 144
| Page 246, 248.
| Page 251.
necessary to the eternal privileges of such, Acts ii. 19. "repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be bloited out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."— And thus it is in regeneration; as is evident from what Christ says to Nicodemus, and as is allowed by Dr. T.
The change of the mind in repentance is that in which saving faith is attained. Mark i. 15, “ The kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe the gospel.” And so it is in being born again, or born of God; as appears by John i. 12, 13. “ But as many as received hini, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born not of blood, &c, but of God."--Just as Christ
says concerning conversion, Matth. xviii. 3. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven :” So does he say concerning being born again, in what he spake to Nicode
By the change men undergo in conversion, they become as little children: which appears in the place last cited : And so they do by regeneration. (1 Pet. i. 23. and ii, 2.) “ Being born again. -Wherefore, as new-born babes, desire," &c. It is no objection, that the disciples to whom Christ spake in Matth. xviii. 3. were converted already : This makes it not less proper for Christ to declare the necessity of conversion to them, leaving it with them to try themselves, and to make sure their conversion: In like manner as he declared to them the necessity of repentance, in Luke xiii. 3,5. " Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
The change effected by repentance is expressed and exhibited by baptism. Hence it is called the baptism of repentance, (Matth. ii. 11. Luke iii. 3. Acts xiii. 24, and xix. 4.) And so is regeneration, or being born again, expressed by baptism; as is evident by such representations of regeneration as those, John iii. 5. “Except a man be born of water, and of the spirit,”Tit. ïïi. 5. “ He saved us by the washing of regeneration.—Many other things might be observed, to shew that the change men pass under in their repentance and conversion, is the same with that of which they are the subjects in regeneration-But these observations
be sufficient. II. The change which a man undergoes when born again, and in his repentance and conversion, is the same that the scrip. ture calls the ciRCUMCISION OF THE HEART.—This may easily appear by considering that as regeneration is that in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, as has been shewn, and as is confessed ; so is circumcision of heart. Deut. xxx. 6. “ And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul."
Regeneration is that whereby men come to have the character of true christians; as is evident, and as is confessed; and so is circumcision of heart ; for by this men become Jews inwardly, or Jews in the spiritual and christian sense, (and that is the same as being true christians) as of old, proselytes were made Jews by circumcision of the flesh. Rom. ii. 28, 29. “ For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
That circumcision of the heart is the same with conversion or turning from sin to God, is evident by Jer. iv. 1--4" If thou wilt return, O Israel, return unto me.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and put away the foreskins of your heart.” And Deut. x. 16. “ Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” Circumcision of the heart is the same change of the heart that men experience in repentance; as is evident by Levit. xxvi. 41. "If their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they accept the punishment of their iniquity.”
The change effected in regeneration, repentance, and conversion, is signified by baptism, as has been shewn; and so is circumcision of the heart signified by the same thing. None will deny that it was this internal circumcision, which of old was signified by external circumcision ; nor will any deny, now under the New Testament, that inward and spiritual baptism, or the cleansing of the heart, is signified by external washing or baptism. But spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism are the same thing ; both being" putting off the body of the sins of the flesh;" as is very plain by Colos. ii. 11-13. “In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him," &c.
III. This inward change, called regeneration and circumcision of the heart, which is wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same with that spiritual RESURRECTION so often spoken of, and represented as a dying unto sin, and a living unto righteousness. This appears with great plainness in that last cited place, Col. ii. “In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands, buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, &c. And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him ; having forgiven you all trespasses."