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We ought also to receive and believe it, because sacred Scripture asserts it.
6. 2. A right view of the doctrine may tend, in some degree, to obviate the objections of unreasonableness. We are not to view imputation apart from other branches of doctrine, but every thing in its proper order. Evil disposi tions, then transgression, then guilt contracted, then punishment. The same order is observed in Adam's posterity.
§ 7. 3. All men descend from Adam as a common parent. They are as intimately connected with him as streams with the fountain, and branches with the tree. Mankind are naturally in such a state as Adam when he propagated them. Evil dispositions in the root flow to the branches; guilt in the root is diffused to the branches too; depravity and punishment proceed from the root to the branches. If we had existed all at once with Adam in this connection, such would have been the consequences. Difference of time does not alter circumstances.
§ 8. 4. Adam was the representative and federal head of the whole human race. The covenant was made with him for himself and for his posterity. If he stood, they would be happy; if he fell, they would be involved in misery. Now this was a reasonable institution, for Adam was likely to stand; he had sufficient power. A sense that the happiness of millions was depending on him, and that he carried in himself the fortunes of all his posterity, was a powerful motive to obedience, and would make him more careful. Besides, man was God's creature: the blessings pronounced in the covenant were God's, and he might bestow them on what condition he thought proper. Man had no claim to them but from God's promise and covenant. Nay, it was a gracious as well as a reasonable institution. Happiness was proposed on easy terms: the blessedness of all to be secured by Adam's obedience, whereas God might have put each to trial. Besides, we are not to judge of the equity and grace of a dispensation by the issue. If
Adam stood, we would not have complained, but have admired the grace of the covenant. But we observe,
9. 5. The same method of dealing among men is not accounted unreasonable. If a king loses his throne, his children are involved in the loss.
10. 6. This mode of procedure is exceedingly common in the divine government and the ordering of dispensations of providence, and we never think it unjust. The merit of one procures benefit to others, and demerit procures evil to others. Inferiors derive good or evil from superiors; people from magistrates; subjects from kings. These observations are sanctioned by the writings of all orthodox divines. It may not be improper, however, to state the sentiment of two who, I may affirm, were not inferior to any in talents, judgment, and piety.
§ 11. The first is from Dr. Goodwin, who saith, "It is an equal rule, that by the same law, by virtue of which one may come to receive good freely, he should, upon the same terms, receive the contrary evil deservedly upon offending. As Job said, 'Shall we receive good from God and not evil?' So may we say here, should we have received the happy fruits of Adam's obedience, if he had stood? and should we not receive the contrary if he fell, through the guilt of his sin? If God had made the law only to have received evil upon his offending, who could have found fault? much less when he put him into an estate which would have proved so happy for us if we had not offended." Vol. 3, 18.
§ 12. The sentiment of the other is that of an eminent lawyer, who was well skilled in the nature of laws and penalties, and the reasons of them: I mean Lord Chief Justice Hale. "God made man righteous at first," saith he, "and gave him a righteous law; and inasmuch as man owed an infinite subjection to the Author of his being, he owed an exact obedience to this law of his Maker. Yet God was pleased to give him this law, not only as the rule of his obedience, but as a covenant of life and death, wherein
the first man made a stipulation for himself and his posterity; and this was just, for he had in himself the race of all mankind. All succeeding generations are but pieces of Adam, who had not, nor could have, their being but from him, and so it was but reasonable and just for him to contract for all his posterity; and as it was just in respect of the person contracting, so it was in respect of the manner of the contract. The law, which was his covenant, was a just and righteous law; a law suitable to the endowments and power of his nature. Again, the blessedness which, by his obedience, he was to hold, was not of his own creating or obtaining: it was the free gift of God; and it is but reasonable that the Lord of this gift might give it in what manner he pleased; and it could not be unjust that the Lord who gave him this blessedness, should give it him under what conditions he pleased; but he gave it him under most reasonable and just conditions, viz. an obedience to a most just and reasonable law, which united with the ability and perfection of his nature. And therefore, when, upon the breach of the covenant by man, he withdrew that blessedness from him and his posterity, he did no more than what was most just for him to do. And thus we stand guilty of that sin which our first father committed, and are deprived of that blessedness and life which our first father had; and the privation of that blessedness and immortality is death."-Meditation on the Lord's Prayer.
Pardon me, my dear Benjamin, for detaining you so long. My only apology is the importance of the subject. The subject itself is truly melancholy; but let us rejoice that he who, in infinite wisdom, has permitted the entrance of sin, has also, in infinite goodness, provided a sovereign and perfect remedy. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John, 3:16.
MISERY OF FALLEN MAN.
Sensible that the importance of the last three letters would require more time than usual for reading, meditation, and prayer, I have delayed the present longer than otherwise I should have done. I will now give you a very brief statement of the inexpressible and indescribable misery of man in his fallen state. But before I enter on that subject I
§ 1. 1. That the guilt of original sin is greatly increased by numberless actual transgressions, which will sink us into an abyss of everlasting misery, unless pardoned through the blood of the Messiah. We are "transgressors from the womb;" have been adding sin to sin, and iniquity to iniquity; so that, if we could reckon them all up, O how vast the sum ! they may fitly be compared to the sand upon the sea-shore for multitude. Who can draw up the catalogue of his sins, and enumerate every instance of guilt? Who can reckon his sins of omission and sins of commission-sins of thought, word, and deed-secret and public sins-sins attended with peculiar aggravations, committed against light and knowledge, against conviction and love-sins in every character and relation in life, who can reckon them up?
§ 2. 2. We observe, next, that it is not more certain that men have sinned, than that they will be punished. Sin and misery are inseparable. God cannot but hate sin, which offers the vilest indignity to all the perfections of his nature, dishonors him in all his relations, breaks the order which he had established in the universe, and throws contempt on his wise and righteous constitution. And as God cannot
but hate sin, so his justice requires that he should punish it. As the perfection of his nature requires that he should have an implacable aversion for sin, so the same perfection requires that justice be not appeased without punishment. The certainty of punishment is further evident from the declaration of Jehovah, "that the soul that sinneth shall die," and many others of the same nature. Now as God hath passed his word that death should be the punishment of sin, his veracity stands engaged to make his word good. The sentence was immutable, and the word that went out of God's mouth must stand. Should sin go without the threatened and merited punishment, the faithfulness and righteousness of God in regard to his word could not be justified; "for God cannot lie, or deny himself." Speaking on this subject, pious Mr. Charnock observes, "Since God in his wisdom had settled this law, and the threatening had passed his royal and immutable word, it was no longer arbitrary, but necessary, by the sovereign authority, that either the sinner himself, or some surety in his stead, should suffer the death the sinner had incurred by the violation of the precept; we must either pay ourselves, or some other pay for us, what we stand bound in to the justice of God. Impunity had been an invasion of God's veracity, which is as immutable as his nature; since, therefore, the inflicting of death upon transgression was the real intent of God, upon the commission of sin death must enter upon man, otherwise God would be a disregarder of himself, and his threatenings a mere scare-crow."
§ 3. But I will now proceed to describe the misery of fallen man, which cannot be expressed in a better manner than in the words of the Assembly's Catechism, viz. "That all men by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.' On each of these particulars I will detain my dear Benjamin only for a few moments.