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ven weeks, until his body became like a sieve; and Adam said before the holy blessed God, Lord of the whole world, let my sins, I pray thee, be done away from me, and accept of my repentance, that all ages may know that there is repentance, and that thou wilt receive them that repent and turn unto thee." Pirke Avoth, ch. 20.
§ 11. 3. They believe that "death is the wages of sin." For thus we read in Sepher Ikkarim, L. 4, ch. 13, and in Tal. Trac. Shab. fol. 55, 1. Wayik. Rab. parash 37. fol. 176. 3. Mid. Koheleth. fol. 70, 4. Zohar in Gen. fol. 44, 4. Zeror. Ham. fol. 115, 1. "That there is no death without sin, no punishment or correction without iniquity." And Maim. in More Nev. p. 3, denies that there are any corrections out of love.
12. 4. They teach that the sin of Adam was imputed to all his natural posterity; both with regard to guilt and depravity. With respect to the former, they say, “It is not to be wondered why the sin of Adam and Eve was engraven and sealed with the signet of the King, (i. e. constitution or covenant) to be propagated unto all following generations; for in the day that Adam was created, all things were finished, so that he was the perfection and complement of the whole workmanship of this world. Therefore, when he sinned, the whole world sinned; whose sin we bear and suffer, which is not so in the sin of his posterity." R. Menach. Rakan. in Sec. Bereshith. Again, in the Targum on Ecl. 7, 29, it is said, "God made the first man upright and innocent before him, but the serpent and Eve seduced him, and gave cause why the day of death should come on him and all the inhabitants of the earth." R. Joseph Albo thus concludes, Lib. i. ch. 11. “All the punishments relating unto Adam and Eve for their first sin, belong unto all mankind." Hence the death of those whom they considered to be righteous, is ascribed to the death of Adam. Among these they reckon Benjamin, the son of Jacob; Amram, the father of Moses; Jesse, the father of David; Chileab, the
son of David, and some others. Shab. fol. 55, 2, Bava Bathra, f. 17, 1. The Targum, on the last chapter of Ruth, saith, “And Obed begat Jesse, who was called Nachash, and there was no iniquity or corruption in him for which he should be delivered into the hand of the angel of death to take his soul from him; and he lived many days, until the counsel that the serpent gave to Eve abode before the Lord; and upon that counsel were all the inhabitants made guilty of death; and upon the account of that sin died Jesse the righteous." Again, R. Yose, the Galilean, said, "Go forth and learn the merit of Messiah the King, and the reward of that righteous one above the first Adam, who had only negative precepts given unto him, which he transgressed; behold how many deaths befell him and his generations, and the generations of his generations, unto the end of all generations." Siphri. Once more, we read in Zohar. Lev. f. 46, 2, “When Adam sinned all the whole world sinned, and his sin we bear." And on Gen. fol. 76, 3, and 36, 3, "The whole congregation of Israel have need of atonement for the sin of the first Adam, for he was reckoned as the whole congregation."
13. Now as it regards the second part of original sin, called depravity, they call it yetzer hara, i. e. the evil imagination. Gen. 6:5. 8:21. "Orlah," i. e. uncircumcised. Deut. 10:16. "Tama," an unclean thing; for David said, Create in me a clean heart;" from whence it follows that the heart of itself is unclean. Ps. 51: 12. This corruption is derived from Adam; "When Adam sinned he drew upon him a defiled power, and defiled himself and all the people of the world." Zohar. Gen. fol. 37: 1. It is incorporated with our nature. He brings it with him into the world. For in Tract. Sanhed. fol. 91, it is asked, "From what time does the evil concupiscence bear rule in a man? from the time of his birth, or from the time of his conception and forming in the womb?" The answer is, "From the time of his conception and forming in the womb:" and Kimchi, in Ps. 51,
thus illustrates it: "He that sows a bitter berry, that bitterness becomes natural unto the tree and unto the fruit that grows thereon." With respect to its extent, Menass. Ben Israel saith, “This vitiosity and contagion, proceeding from the sin of our first parents, have invaded both the faculties of our rational souls, both the understanding and the will.” Pref. to his book, De fragilitate humana. Lastly, as it respects its growth and duration; it grows with our growth, and strengthens with our strength. In Beresh. Rab. it is said, "So long as the righteous live they wage war with their concupiscence." Its growth is thus represented: "At first it is like a spider's thread, but at last like a cart rope." Isa. 5 18. 59: 5. Again, "In the beginning it is like a stranger, then as a guest, but lastly as a master of the house." Dear Benjamin, I might have greatly increased the number of testimonies, but these may suffice to show that the doctrine of original sin is not a "novel, nor a cunningly devised fable." In my next letter I will give you more testimonies from eminent Christian authors. Farewell.
THE SUBJECT CONTINUED.
§ 1. I will now give you a few extracts from some eminent Christian writers. In the ninth Article of the Church of England it is said "that original sin is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own na
ture inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into the world it deserveth God's wrath and damnation."
§ 2. In the book of Homilies, on the misery of men, part 2, it is thus written: "Of ourselves and by ourselves we have no goodness, help, or salvation; but contrariwise, sin, damnation, and death everlasting; which if we deeply weigh and consider, we shall the better understand the great mercy of God, and how our salvation cometh only by Christ. For in ourselves (as of ourselves) we find nothing whereby we may be delivered from this miserable captivity into which we are cast, through the envy of the devil, by breaking of God's commandment in our first parent Adam. We are all become unclean, but we are not able to cleanse ourselves, nor make one another of us clean. We are by nature the children of God's wrath, but we are not able to make ourselves the children and inheritors of God's glory. We are sheep that have run astray, but we cannot of our own power come again to the sheepfold; so great is our imperfection and weakness."
3. The sentiment of the Assembly of Divines, who met at Westminster and compiled the Shorter Catechism,*
* In referring to this little book, notwithstanding my views as a Baptist differing with respect to the church and its ordinances, yet I cannot restrain myself from expressing my feeble testimony in its favor, although I know it is far, very far, above my commendation. From the lives of the authors, it appears that they were an Assembly, perhaps the most judicious, learned, and godly that has met since the apostolic age. For the book itself, though written by uninspired, and therefore fallible men, who do not pretend to perfection, yet for conciseness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness, it is an incomparable system. No lover of truth can peruse it with attention without admiring the accuracy and precision with which the compilers express the truth in opposition to error, ancient and modern, the natural order in which they arrange the numerous articles of our holy religion, and the perspicuity with which they delineate both its doctrines and its duties. I have derived more benefit from reading this little book, explained in Fisher's Catechism, than from all others I have read be'des the precious Bible.
may be learned from their answers to the questions 22 to 26, which are as follows: "The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him and fell with him in that first transgression." "The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery." "The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually, which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions." "Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin." Bishop Beveridge saith, "Adam was not only the first, but the head of all men; as he was at first all men that were in the world formally, so he was all men that should be in the world representatively; so that God looked upon Adam as upon one in whom all the generations that ever should live upon earth were represented; and so all men that should be, were present unto God in that one man that then was."
§ 4. Having explained the nature of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity, and proved the truth of the doctrine by Scripture, fact, and testimonies, I shall close this letter with a few observations in vindication of this doctrine. Many hard things have been said both against God and against those who believe this doctrine, which I shall not trouble you with, but observe,
§ 5. 1. That the doctrine of imputation is matter of fact, as has been shown. Though no reason for it could be assigned, it exists; and as it is a part of God's government, it becomes us to adore what we cannot comprehend. He sees just reason for it, though we should not perceive any