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§ 5. That there is a law requiring duty, and forbidding sin; that men of all ages and descriptions are bound to do the former, and forbear the latter, is a necessary dictate of reason. But that there was a proper covenant made with the first man, promising life as the reward of his obedience, and threatening death as the punishment of his disobedience; the promise on the one hand, and the threatening on the other, extending to his posterity, as well as to himself, reason cannot possibly discover. To revelation, therefore, are we indebted for the discovery and knowledge of the covenant of works, as well as the covenant of grace. To the law and to the testimony, therefore, we must apply for information on this all-important subject.

6. Besides the moral or natural law, engraven upon the heart of Adam, at his creation, as the rule of life, God was pleased to give him also a positive law, as a test of his obedience. The former God implanted, because it was just; the latter is just, because God commanded it.* Moses, in his short history of the origin of mankind, gives the following description of this transaction: And the Lord God com

manded the man, saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Gen. 2 : 16, 17. In these words we have the parties transacting, Jehovah on the one hand, and man on the other; the condition specified, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; a double sanction annexed, first a threatening expressed "thou shalt surely die;" and secondly, a promise understood-if he obeyed he should live.


§ 7. The contracting parties in this covenant are two. 1. God. He may be considered as the framer of it, and principal party. He is to be viewed as Creator, Ruler,

* On the nature, properties, &c. of the positive law, see my Essays on Baptism, Essay 1.

and Benefactor. On the part of God it was a display of goodness; for as man was the work of his hands, he must have regard to him, as every artificer has for his work, and would not despise him, but be concerned for his good; and therefore, in covenant, promised good things to him. It also flowed from his sovereignty; since all his good things are his own, and he can do with them as he pleases; and he disposed of them to Adam, by promises, in a covenant way. 2. The second party in the covenant was Adam. He is to be considered perfectly holy, and able to keep the covenant. "There was light in his understanding, sanctity in his will, and rectitude in his affections: there was such a harmony among all his faculties, that his members yielded to his affections, his affections to his will, his will obeyed his reason, and his reason was subject to the law of God."-Boston.

8. 2. Man, as the federal head of the human race. That Adam was the federal head of his posterity, is evident from the comparison which the apostle made between Adam and Christ, in Rom. 5: 12-18, and 1 Cor. 15:45, where Adamı is called the first man and the first Adam, and described as natural and earthly, and Christ is called the last Adam, and described as spiritual and the Lord from Heaven.

These were the only two individuals made public persons and federal heads, under whom all mankind are comprehended. No other such person, or federal head, has appeared, or ever is to appear in our world.

God's dealings with mankind ever since the fall, show that there was a federal agreement. For if no covenant was made with Adam, as our representative, we can have no concern in what he did when he violated it; what he did can be placed to his account only, not to ours; there can be no transmission of guilt and punishment from him to us; in short, there can be no original sin in the world; and if there is no original sín, how can there be any actual ? Is not the former the root, the latter the branches? Is not

the one the fountain, the other the streams? Can there be branches without a root, or streams without a fountain? According to this hypothesis, infants at least could have no sin. Is not sin the cause, and death the effect? But that infants as well as adults die, we all know. Infants, therefore, must have sinned. In their own persons they cannot have sinned; there must, therefore, be a federal head, in whom they federally subsisted, and in whom they have sinned. It was no unusual thing with God to make covenants with men and their posterity unborn. Witness God's covenant with Noah, Gen. 9:9; with Abraham, Gen. 17: 4; and with the children of Israel, Deut. 29: 14, 15. Nor haye any of Adam's posterity reason to complain of such a procedure; since, if Adam had stood in his integrity, they would have partaken of all the blessed consequences of his standing, and enjoyed all the happiness that he did; and therefore should not murmur, nor esteem it injustice in God, in putting their affairs in his hand, that they share in the miseries of his fall; for if they would have received good through him had he stood, why should they complain of receiving evil things through his fall? But this part of the subject will be considered more fully hereafter.

9. The condition of this covenant is the next thing which claims our attention. This was obedience, perfect, personal, and perpetual conformity to the revealed will of God. The general standard of this obedience was the moral law; the special test of it was the positive prohibition relating to the fruit of a particular tree in the garden, of which God said, "Thou shalt not eat of it."

§ 10. "This prohibition," saith the elegant Dr. Bates, was upon most wise and just reasons. 1. To declare God's sovereign right in all things. In the quality of Creator he is supreme Lord. Man enjoyed nothing but by a derived title from his bounty and allowance, and with an obligation to render to him the homage of all. As princes, when they give estates to their subjects, still retain the royalty, and

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receive a small rent, which, though inconsiderable in its value, is an acknowledgment of dependence upon them; so when God placed Adam in Paradise, he reserved this mark of his sovereignty, that in the free use of all other things, man should abstain from the forbidden trec. 2. To make trial of man's obedience in a matter very congruous to discover it. If the prohibition had been grounded on any moral internal evil in the nature of the thing itself, there had not been so clear a testimony of God's dominion, nor of Adam's subjection to it. But when that, which in itself was indifferent, became unlawful merely by the will of God, and when the command had no other excellency but to make his authority more sacred, this was a confining of man's liberty, and to abstain was pure obedience.”

11. It is here understood, as it has been hinted before, that Adam had both the knowledge of the will and law of God, and ability to fulfill it. The law was not yet written, either on tables of stone or on paper. He had it, however, imprinted on the fleshy table of his heart; and was in his whole man, soul and body, conformed to it. He was, and he did universally, what the holy law required him to be and to do. From his Creator, Adam had conformity of heart to the holy law, and habitual conformity of heart produces conformity of actions. A holy nature ever is accompanied with a holy life; as our Lord himself expresses it, a good tree bringeth forth good fruit.

§ 12. But to return to the properties of this obedience. It was to be perfect, without the least blemish. It must flow from the principle of love; without this, all is vain, 1 Cor. 13: it must extend to every part, for it is written, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Deut. 27: 26. And again. "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty in all." James, 2: 10. It must be equally perfect in degree: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul

and with all thy mind." Matt. 22: 37. Adam's obedience was also to be personal; not like the obedience of Christ for his people, or as the obedience of Adam would have been reckoned to his posterity, had he continued obedient. And it was required to be perpetual, not for a time only, but always.

§ 13. "Adam, indeed," saith a pious writer, "was now in a probationary state. That state was only to continue for a limited time. Had he continued obedient till the expiration of it, the condition of the covenant would then have been fulfilled, and his own everlasting felicity, and that of his numerous posterity, insured. But would he in that case have ceased to be conformed and obedient to the law? No He would have been confirmed in a state of perfect and perpetual purity, as well as felicity and dignity. The law under which he was, is of universal and of endless obligation. Universal conformity to it is the felicity and the dignity of the rational creature. Such, my dear Benjamin, was the tenor, and such the demands of the law, or covenant of works. High, but just demands! Such demands, however, innocent Adam was able to answer. God required nothing of him but what he was able to do.

14. We proceed now to consider the sanctions of this covenant, which are two; a threatening expressed, and a promise understood. The threatening is death, the promise is life. The threatening is best understood, or explained, by the event. It is not consistent with the justice of God to increase the penalty after the sin was committed. Whatever punishment, therefore, God inflicted, that must have been included in the original threatening. This punishment is mentioned in Gen. 3: 16–19. It extends to the whole human race, and to the world to come, as will appear in a future letter. The death threatened is threefold.

15. 1. Death, natural or corporeal, in opposition to life. This denotes not only actual dissolution of the union between soul and body, but the forerunners of it. Accord

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