Imágenes de páginas

or inherent in them: for there can be no occasion for baptizing any but sinners, in the name of a Saviour or of a Sanctifier. If infants were innocent, they would not need the application of that water, by which is signified our being washed, justified, and sanctified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God. The only conceivable reason why none of the human race can enter into the kingdom of God, without being born of water and of the Spirit, is the one assigned by our Saviour; "That which is born of the flesh is flesh."

And those who do not believe that infants are to be baptized, must still, I think, be convinced that we are born in sin, from the certain divine institution of infant circumcision. For that, as well as baptism, signified the taking away of sin; and was a seal of the righteousness of faith; neither of which can be requisite for any besides fallen, depraved creatures. It may be added, under this head, the doctrine that the natural state of man, is a state of condemnation, is expressly asserted, Eph. ii. 1, 2, 3, where, having said, "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein, in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience;" the apostle adds, "Among whom we also," (we Jews, as well as you Gentiles,) "all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

II. I proceed to show that we were brought into this state by the fall of Adam. And here,

1. This we are plainly taught in several passages of scripture. See Job xiv. 4, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." Psal. lv. 5, "Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my

mother conceive me." And John iii. 6, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." These words of Job, of David, and of our Saviour, evidently teach us, that sin descends to all the human race by ordinary generation; and plainly point to the origin of it, in the depravity and guilt of our first parents. See also, 1 Cor. xv. 22-" In Adam all die."

I do not know, however, that we are obliged by this, or by the text we are now upon, to conclude that the first man, exclusively of the first woman, was the alone meritorious cause of the ruin of all mankind. This may not inevitably follow from its being said, "In Adam all die :" for it is said, when "God created man, male and female, he called their name Adam." Nor is it certain that our being brought into the present state of sin and misery, might not be by the sin of Eve in part, because it is said, "By the offence of one, judgment came :" for of a man and his wife we are told, "They are no more twain, but one flesh." From its being said, "The judgment came upon all men, we might perhaps as well suppose that women are not included under this original condemnation; as we can infer from the mention of one only, by whose offence this came, that, the disobedience of Eve is to be considered as having no hand in bringing her posterity into their present unhappy state of sin and condemnation. It is made use of by the apostle Paul as an argument for the subjection of wives to their husbands, that the woman was deceived, and was first in the transgression. And we know that the sentence passed upon Eve, as well as that upon Adam, is perpetuated through all generations.

2. That all men were brought into the present fallen state by the fall of one or both of our first parents, is evident from the continuation of the very same curse that was denounced upon them, as to the temporal part of it at least, down to the present day.

Unto the woman God said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee: and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

Now, when we see every part of this sentence so exactly executed still, on the sons and daughters of these first human transgressors; have we not the most sensible evidence that their offspring were included with them, thus far at least, in their original condemnation ?

And if, as to the present life, and temporal death, we are evidently dealt with according to the sentence passed upon our first parents; what reason have we to think that we were not, according to the original constitution, to be dealt with in like manner relative to the life to come? It is no easier to reconcile with reason and justice, our being involved so far in the bitter consequences of their sin, as we certainly at present are, than it is our sharing in all the fruits of man's first apostacy.

We proceed, therefore, as was proposed,

III. To inquire, whether what we are taught in scripture, and see in fact, of the connection between Adam's first sin, and the condemnation of all his posterity, may not be so understood, as to render it consistent with the justice of God, according to our natural notions of justice.


It has been thought, pretty generally I suppose, that Adam's act in eating of the forbidden fruit, is so imputed to all his children, that they are condemned for it, just as if it had been their own personal transgression. It appears to have been the opinion of many great and good divines, at least, that this is the true scripture doctrine of original sin. But, if it be so, it is, to be sure, a great mystery. The notion of such a transfer of criminality from Adam to his race, is grounded on a supposed divine constitution, making them one in law: but how they could be so made one, in truth and justice, as that his act should be their act; his disobedience their disobedience; or so as that they can be righteously punished, or blamed, for his sin, it is hard to understand. Adam and we, after all, are different persons; and actual demerit, as well as merit, according to all our natural notions, must necessarily be ever personal. We always think -we always feel, even in cases wherein we are most disposed to condemn, that no one is blameworthy for another's transgression, which he knew nothing of, or to which he was no way accessory. And indeed, God himself says, Ezek. xviii. 20, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him; and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." And he seems implicitly to admit, in the plainest manner, that if it were otherwise -if the men of that generation were actually punished, not for their own sins-not for any thing faulty in themselves, but merely because their fathers, some ages before, had been great sinners, there would be just ground for their saying, as they did; "The ways of the Lord are not equal." But why God might not have made it as equal, to punish the Israelites in Babylon for the iniquities of their more immediate ancestors, as to condemn all men to eternal, or even to temporal death, for the offence of Adam, it is difficult to comprehend.

It seems to be a clear dictate of common sense, and also a plain doctrine of scripture, that blameworthiness is ever personal; and that a transfer of punishment from the guilty to the innocent-from the transgressor to one who has never transgressed, at least without the free consent of the latter, is a palpable violation of justice. How then can we be to blame, or justly liable to condemnation, for a rebellious act of Adam, committed thousands of years before we, personally, had existence ?

Several ways have been taken to reconcile this idea of original sin with the justice of God. The most common way has been, by endeavoring to show that it was better, safer, and more likely to turn out well for us, to have Adam appointed the representative of the whole race, than for all men to have had a separate probation in innocency, each one for himself. Adam was as likely to persevere in perfect obedience through a space of trial as any of his posterity would have been; and in several respects much more likely. He entered upon the stage of action in full manhood: and he had more motives than any other man to awaken his constant caution, and to keep him from sinning. He knew, it is supposed, that the eternal happiness or misery of a numerous offspring was suspended upon his trial alone; which must be, in addition to his personal concern, a very powerful inducement to the utmost circumspection.

Now, if this were the likeliest plan to turn out advantageously for us; then, had we been in existence at the time, and had it been left to our choice, we should have chosen, if wise, to have Adam act for us, rather than to have run the greater risk of standing or falling, from our earliest infancy, each one for himself. And if it would have been wise in us to have chosen this, then it was no way injurious, but, on the contrary, kind and merciful in God, who had an undoubted right of choosing for us, to order our probation in this manner; namely, in Adam as our federal repre


« AnteriorContinuar »