« PreviousContinue »
condemns us for continuing ourselves sinful.” If the reasoning be weak in the one case, it is no less so in the other.
If any shall still insist, that there is a difference between God so disposing things, as that depravity of heart shall be continued, according to the settled course of nature, in the same person, who has by his own fault introduced it; and his so disposing as that men, according to a course of nature, should be born with depravity, in consequence of Adam's introducing of sin, by his act which he had no concern in, and cannot be justly charged with: On this I would observe, that it is quite going off the objection which we have been upon, from God's agency, and flying to another. It is then no longer insisted on, that simply for him, from whose agency the course of nature and our existence derive, so to dispose things as that we should have existence in a corrupt state, is for him to be the author of sin : But the plea now advanced is, that it is not proper and just for such an agent so to dispose, in this case, and only in consequence of Adam's sin ; it not being just to charge Adam's sin to his posterity. And this matter shall be particularly considered in answer to the next objection; to which I now proceed.
That great Objection against the imputation of Adam's sin to his
Posterity, considered, that such imputation is unjust and
That we may proceed with the greater clearness in considering the main objections against supposing the guilt of Adam's sin to be imputed to his posterity; I would premise some observations with a view to the right stating of the doctrine ; and then shew its reasonableness, in opposition to the great clamour raised against it on this head.
I think it would go far towards directing us to the more clear conception and right statement of this affair, were we steadily to bear this in mind : That God, in every step of his proceeding with Adam, in relation to the covenant or constitution established with him, looked on his posterity as being one with him. And though he dealt more immediately with Adam, it yet was as the head of the whole body, and the root of the whole tree; and in his proceedings with him, he dealt with
all the branches, as if they had been then existing in their root.
From which it will follow, that both guilt, or exposedness to punishment, and also depravity of heart, came upon Adam's posterity just as they came upon him, as much as if he and they had all co-existed, like a tree with many branches; allowing only for the difference necessarily resulting from the place Adam stood in, as head or root of the whole. Otherwise, it is as if, in every step of proceeding, every alteration in the root had been attended at the same instant with the same alterations throughout the whole tree, in each individual branch. I think this will naturally follow on the supposition of there being a constituted oneness or identity of Adam and his posterity in this affair.
Therefore I am humbly of opinion, that if any have supposed the children of Adam to come into the world with a double guilt, one the guilt of Adam's sin, another the guilt arising from their having a corrupt heart, they have not so well conceived of the matter. The guilt a man has upon his soul at first existence, is one and simple, viz. the guilt of the original apostacy, the guilt of the sin by which the species first rebelled against God. This, and the guilt arising from the depraved disposition of the heart, are not to be looked upon as two things, distinctly imputed and charged upon men in the sight of God. Indeed the guilt that arises from the corruption of the heart, as it remains a confirmed principle and appears in its consequent operations, is a distinct and additional guilt: But the guilt arising from the first existing of a depraved disposition in Adam's posterity, I apprehend, is not distinct from their guilt of Adam's first sin. For so it was not in Adam himself. The first evil disposition or inclination of Adam to sin, was not properly distinct from his first act of sin, but was included in it. The external act he committed was no otherwise his, than as his heart was in it, or as that action proceeded from the wicked inclination of his heart. Nor was the guilt he had double, as for two distinct sins: One, the wickedness of his will in that affair; another, the wickedness of the external act, caused by it. His guilt was all truly from the act of his inward man ; exclusive of which the motions of his body were no more than the motions of any lifeless instrument. His sin consisted in wickedness of heart, fully sufficient for, and entirely amounting to, all that appeared in the act he committed.
The depraved disposition of Adam's heart is to be considered two ways. (1.) As the first rising of an evil inclination in his heart, exerted in his first act of sin, and the ground of the complete transgression. (2.) An evil disposition of heart continuing afterwards, as a confirmed principle that came
by God's forsaking of him ; which was a punishment of his first transgression, This confirmed corruption, by its remaining and continued operation, brought additional guilt on his soul.
In like manner, depravity of heart is to be considered two ways in Adam's posterity. The first existing of a corrupt disposition, is not to be looked upon as sin distinct from their participation of Adam's first sin. It is as it were the extended pollution of that sin through the whole tree, by virtue of the constituted union of the branches with the root; or the inherence of the sin of that head of the species in the members, in their consent and concurrence with the head in that first act. But the depravity of nature remaining as an established principle in a child of Adam, and as exhibited in after-operations, is a consequence and punishment of the first apostacy thus participated, and brings new guilt. The first being of an evil disposition in a child of Adam, whereby he is disposed to approve the sin of his first father, so far as to imply a full and perfect consent of heart to it, I think, is not to be looked upon as a consequence of the imputation of that first sin, any more than the full consent of Adam's own heart in the act of sinning; which was not consequent on the imputation, but rather prior to it in the order of nature. Indeed the derivation of the evil disposition to Adam's posterity, or rather, the co-existence of the evil disposition implied in Adam's first rebellion, in the root and branches, is a consequence of the union that the wise Author of the world has established between Adam and his posterity ; but not properly a consequence of the imputation of his sin ; nay, is rather antecedent to it, as it was in Adam himself. The first depravity of heart, and the imputation of that sin, are both the consequences of that established union ; but yet in such order, that the evil disposition is first, and the charge of guilt consequent, as it was in the case of Adam himself.*
* My meaning in the whole of what has been here said, may be illustrated thus : Let us suppose that Adam and all his posterity had co-existed, and that his posterity had been, through a law of nature established by the Creator, united to him, something as the branches of a tree are united to the root, or the members of the body to the head, so as to constitute as it were one complex person, or one moral whole: So that by the law of union there should have been a communion and co-existence in acts and aftections; all jointly participating, and all concurring, as one unhole, in the disposition and action of the head: as we see in the body natural, the whole body is affected as the head is affected; and the whole body concurs when the head acts. Now in this case, all the branches of mankind, by the constitution of nature and law of union, would have been affected just as Adam, their columon root, was affected. When the Heart of the root, by a full disposition, committed the first sin, the hearts of all the branches would have concurred; and when the root, in consequence of this, became guilty, so would all the branches; and when the root, as a punishment of the sin committed, was forsaken of God, in like manner would it have fared with all the branches; and when the root, in consequence of this, was confirmed in permanent depravity, the case would have been
The first existence of an evil disposition, amounting to a full consent to Adam's sin, no more infers God being the
the same with all the branches; and as new guilt on the soul of Adam would have been consequent on this, so also would it have been with his inoral branches. And thus all things, with relation to evil disposition, guilt, pollution and depravity, would exist, in the same order and dependence, in each branch, as in the root. Now, difference of the time of existence does not at all hinder things succeeding in the same order, any more than difference of place in a co-existence of time.
Here may be observed, as in several respects to the present purpose, some things that are said by STAPFEROS, an eminent divine of Zurich, in Switzerland, in his Theologia Polemica, published about fourteen years ago ;-- in English as follows: “Seeing all Adam's posterity are derived from their first parent, as their root, the whole of the human kind, with its root, may be considered as constituting but one whole, or one mass; so as not to be properly distinct from its root; the posterity not differing from it, any otherwise than the branches from the tree. From which it easily appears, how that when the root sinned, all that which is derived from it, and with it constitutes but one whole, may be looked upon as also sinning; seeing it is not distinct from the root, but one with it.”—Tom. i. Cap. 3. § 856. 57.
"It is objected against the imputation of Adam's sin, that we never committed the same sin with Adam, neither in number nor in kind. I answer, we should distinguish here between the physical act itself which Adam committed, and the morality of the action and consent to it. If we have respect only to the external act, to be sure it must be confessed that Adain's posterity did not put forth their hands to the forbidden fruit : In which sense, that act of transgression and that fall of Adam cannot be physically one with the sin of his posterity. But if we consider the morality of the action, and what consent there is to it, it is altogether to be maintained, that his posterity committed the same sin, both in number and in kind, inasmuch as they are to be looked upon as consenting to it. For where there is consent to a sin, there the same sin is committed. Seeing therefore that Adam with all his posterity constitute but one moral person, and are united in the same covenant, and are transgressors of the same law, they are also to be looked upon as having, in a moral estimation, committed the same transgression of the law, both in number and in kind. Therefore this reasoning avails nothing against the righteous imputation of the sin of Adam to all mankind, or to the whole moral person that is consenting to it. And for the reason mentioned, we may rather argue thus. The sin of the posterity, on account of their consent, and the moral view in which they are to be taken, is the same with the sin of Adam, not only in kind, but in number; therefore the sin of Adam is rightfully imputed to his posterity.”-Id. Tom. iv. cap. 16.5 60, 61.
The imputation of Adam's first sin consists in nothing else than this, that his posterity are viewed as in the same place with their father, and are like him. But seeing, agreeable to what we have already proved, God might, according to his own righteous judgment, which was founded on his most righteous law, give Adam a posterity that were like himself; and indeed it could not be otherwise, according to the very laws of nature; therefore he might also in righteous judg. ment impute Adam's sin to them, inasmuch as to give Adam a posterity like himself, and to impute his sin to them is one and the same thing. And therefore if the former be not contrary to the divine perfections, so neither is the latter. Our adversaries contend with us chiefly on this account, that according to our doctrine of original sin, such an imputation of the first sin is maintained, whereby God, withont any regard to universal native corruption, esteems all Adam's posterity as guilty, and holds them as liable to condemnation, purely on account of that sinful act of their first parent; so that they without any respect had to their own sin, and so, as innocent in themselves, are destined to eternal punishment. - I have therefore ever been careful to shew, that they do injuriously suppose those things to be separated in our doctrine which are by no means to be separated. The whole of the controversy they have with us about this matter, evidently arises from this, that they suppose the mediate and the immediate imputation are distinguished one from the other, not only in the manner of conception, but in reality. And so indeed they consider imputation only as immediate and abstractedly from the mediate ; when yet our divines suppose, that neither ought to be considered separately from the other. Therefore I chose not to use any such distinction, or to suppose any VOL, II.
author of that evil disposition in the child, than in the father.The first arising or existing of that evil disposition in the heart of Adam was by God's permission ; who could have prevented it, if he had pleased, by giving such influences of his spirit, as would have been absolutely effectual to hinder it; which it is plain in fact he did withhold: And whatever mystery may be supposed in the affair, yet no christian will presume to say, it was not in perfect consistence with God's holiness and righteousness, notwithstanding Adam had been guilty of no offence before. So root and branches being one, according to God's wise constitution, the case in fact is, that by virtue of this oneness answerable changes or effects through all the branches co-exist with the changes in the root : consequently an evil disposition exists in the hearts of Adam's posterity, equivalent to that which was exerted in his own heart when he eat the forbidden fruit. Which God has no hand in
otherwise, than in not exerting such an influence as might be effectual to prevent it; as appears by what was observed in the former chapter. *
But now the grand objection is against the reasonableness of such a constitution, by which Adam and his posterity should be looked upon as one, and dealt with accordingly, in an affair of such infinite consequence; so that if Adam sinned, they must necessarily be made sinners by his disobedience, and come into existence with the same depravity of disposition, and be looked upon and treated as though they were partakers with him in his act of sin. I have not room here to rehearse all Dr. T.'s vehement exclamations against the reasonableness and justice of this. The reader may at his leisure consult his book, and see them in the places referred to below. Whatever black colours and frightful representation are employed on this occasion, all may be summed up in this, That Adam and his posterity are not one, but entirely distinct agents. But with respect to this mighty outcry made against the reasonableness of any such constitution, by which God is supposed to treat
such thing, in what I have said on the subject; but only have endeavoured to explain the thing itself, and to reconcile it with the divine attributes. And therefore I have every where conjoined both these conceptions concerning the imputation of the first sin as inseparable ; and judged, that one ought never to be considered without the other.—While I have been writing this note, I consulted all the systems of divinity, which I have by me, that I might see what was the true and genuine opinion of our chief divines in this affair; and I found they were of the same mind with me; namely, that these two kinds of imputation are by no means to be separated, or to be considered abstractedly one from the other, but that one does involve the other.”-He there particularly cites those two famous reformed divines, Vitringa and Lampius.—Tom. iv. Cap. 17. $ 78.
* See also Vol. I. p. 249, note, $ 8. &c. 278, § 12, &c. 393, § 9, &c. 398, § 17 Stc. 533, § 7, &c.
+ Page 13, 150, 151, 156, 261. 108, 109, 111, S.