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not die on that day, we must conclude, either that the execution was delayed in the exercise of Divine patience, or that the apparent was not the real meaning of the sentence. - It may import, that as soon as he transgressed, he should become mortal; and in this sense he did immediately die. He was dead in law; the seeds of mortality were sown in his constitution; a change took place in his body preparatory to its ultimate dissolution. It was now subject to internal disorders, and external injuries; it was exposed to the wasting influence of the elements; it was doomed to decline in vigour and activity, to feel the infirmities of old age, and at last to sink into the grave. At the same time, his mind was disturbed with fear hitherto unknown; and the awful prospect of the termination of his earthly career aggravated the other evils which he suffered, and embittered his remaining pleasures. He lost all hope of the happiness, which would have been the reward of his obedience, and would have consisted in the enjoyment of endless life and felicity. His right to it depended upon his fulfilling the terms of the covenant; and as he failed to fulfil them, he had no claim to the promise. That noble prize, which wculd have blessed him and his posterity through the ages of eternity, was for ever forfeited. He fell under the curse ; and being unable to extricate himself from its power, he was still less capable of regaining, by his utmost exertions, the immense reward which, having been once rejected, would not be offered again. He was ejected from paradise, that he might not, with presumptuous hand, pluck the fruit of the tree of life, the symbol and seal of immortality. In the day of his transgression, he underwent spiritual death. His sin shed its bane. ful influence over his soul, and, in a moment, turned its beauty into deformity. Such was the constitution under which he was placed, and snch was the nature of things, that the image of God must either be preserved entire, or be totally lost. The moment that the principle of rebellion was admitted, the principle of obedience was expelled; as soon as he began to love earthly things, the love of God was extinguished. When the tie was broken which connected him with his Maker, from whom those influences proceeded, which inspired and sustained his moral excellence, his holy dispositions withered and died, like the verdure of a tree plucked up by the roots. Nothing remained but his natural faculties, weakened and corrupted; a darkened understanding, a way. ward will, sensual appetites, and irregular affections. The change was sudden, but it was complete. Human nature was essentially the same, but it was divested of its brightest ornaments. All its glory was gone, and it was now poor, miserable, and disgusting; an object from which he, who had lately pronounced it to be good, turned away his eyes with abhorrence.
Such were the effects of the fall of our first parents, but they did not terminate upon them. Adam, as we shall see in our next lecture, was the federal head of the human race; and as his obedience would have ensured the bappiness of all his descendants, so his transgression involved them all in guilt and perdition. The fountain being polluted, the stream which flows from it is impure; the tree being corrupt, the fruit which it bears is also corrupt. It is owing to his sin that death has ever since been making havoc of mankind, and sweeping one generation after another into the grave; it is owing to his sin that holiness has been banished from the earth, and crimes and miseries have been multiplied from age to age; it is owing to his sin that myriads of beings, capable of immortal felicity and endless improvement, have been lost, and are doomed to spend an interminable existence in sorrow and despair: “ By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed up n all men, for that all have sinned."'*_Sone of the topics which have now been slightly sketched, will be resumed and illustrated at greater length in the subsequent lectures.
Rom. v, 12.
ON THE FALL OF MAN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
Covenant of Works—Definition of a Covenant-Scriptural Evidence of the Covenant between
God and our First Parent–The Parties to it, God and Adam-Adam as the Federal Head of the Human Race—The Condition of the Covenant, Obedience-Its extent.
In the preceding Lecture, I made some observations upon the test of obedience which was prescribed to our first parent, when he was forbidden to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; from which it appeared, that the transaction between him and his Maker was of a federal nature. But the subject holds such an important place in religion, and in systems of Theology, that it must not be slightly passed over, and I purpose, therefore, to devote this lecture to a more-ample illustration of it.
A covenant is often defined to be an agreement between two parties upon certain terms, and comprehends a promise made by the one to the other, accompanied with a condition which the other accepts, and upon the performance of which he becomes entitled to the promise. Some add a penalty, if either of the parties be fallible ; but it is not essential, and may be omitted, as it is in those covenants between man and man, in which the only consequence of a failure on the part of the person, who had engaged to perform a particular service, is, that he loses the stipulated reward ; but this cannot properly be denominated a penalty. In the case before us, however, a penalty was subjoined; because, man being under the highest obligations to obey the will of his Creator, justice would not permit him, in the event of transgression, to escape with impunity.
The Covenant of Works has been defined to be, a convention between God and man concerning the method of obtaining eternal happiness, accompanied with a threatening of death in the case of disobedience; or the covenant which God made with Adam as the representative of his posterity, and in which he promised eternal life upon the condition of obedience, not only to the moral law written on his heart, but to the positive precept respecting the tree of knowledge. It is called the Covenant of Nature, because it was entered into with man while he was in his natural state, which was a state of innocence. It is called the Covenant of Life, because life was promised; but improperly, I apprehend, since this designation does not express its peculiar character, and points out no distinction between it and the Covenant of Grace, the same blessing being promised in both. It is more commonly called the Covenant of Works, and this denomination is evidently appropriate; shewing us at once what is its nature, and in what respect it differs from the other covenant, which bestows its reward not upon him who works, but upon him who believes.
It has been objected, that there is no mention of a covenant of works either in Genesis, or in any other passage of Scripture. Whether this be strictly true, we shall afterwards see; but in the meantime, we observe that, although the words should not be used, yet, if the thing intended by them is virtually taught, there is no good reason against a phrase, by which it is conveniently and intelligibly expressed. It is neeessary for clearness and expedition, to adopt compendious modes of speech which are understood by all parties. We read the Scriptures, not merely to learn the words, but to colleci the sense ; and when we clothe. it in a different dress, if it is faithfully represented, although the words are human, the sentiment is divine. It is objected, that the transaction with Adam could not be federal ; because, in a covenant, it is required that both parties should be free and independent, having power to give, or to withhold their consent; but that Adam, being a creature, had no choice, and was bound to acquiesce in the will of his Creator. Hence it has been thought, that it ought to be considered rather as a law than as a covenant. It is acknowledged that the qualification mentioned is necessary in a human cofenant, or that the parties should be sui juris, and stipulate with perseet liberty : and that a condition imposed upon a person against his will would not be obligatory in law. But, although Adam was not at liberty to accept or reject as he might please, yet he freely gave his consent, as we may presume from the state of his mind, which recognized no law but the command of his Maker; and he came under a voluntary engagement to yield obedience to the precept enjoined, and to obey for the specific purpose of obtaining the reward, and avoiding the penalty. The transaction was federal on the part of God, as he proposed a condition, sanctioned with a promise and a threatening; and on the part of Adam, as he pledged himself to fulfil the condition,
I formerly stated, that in this transaction there are found all the parts of a covenant. There were two parties, God and Adam. We shall afterwards have an opportunity to shew, in what light both should be considered. There was a condition, consisting in obedience to the positive precept, which God was pleased to issue for the trial of man's fidelity. There was a threatening, although there have been different opinions respecting its import, or in what extent the term death, should be understood. There was a promise, not distinctly expressed, but implied in the threatening; for, if death was to be the consequence of sin, it clearly follows, that life was to be the reward of obedience. We cannot suppose, that a Being who delights in the happiness of his creatures would have placed man in such disadvantageous circumstances, that, while his transgression of the law would subject him to the greatest evil, no positive benefit would result from the most exact performance of his duty. He loves righteousness as much as he hates iniquity; and although there can be no merit in the best exercise of those faculties which are his free gifts, and are sustained by the continual care of his Providence, yet it would not have been consistent with his infinite goodness to have required man to serve him for nought. I may add, that our Saviour seems to refer to the original promise, when he says, “ If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;"* intimating that there was a reward, according to the divine constitution, as well as a penalty. It is supposed also, in the reasonings concerning the impossibility of justification by works in consequence of human guilt and depravity, that it is owing to his inability to fulfil the terms, that man cannot obtain eternal happiness by the law.
From these observations it appears, that we are warranted to maintain, that there was a federal transaction between God and our first parent, and that, from its nature, it is fitly designated the covenant of works." We may even allege, for the use of such language, the authority of Scripture. In Hosea vi. 7, we read, “ But they like men have transgressed the covenant; there have they dealt treacherously against me.” On consulting the original, we find this to be the literal version, " they, oya like Adam, have transgressed the covenant." The same Hebrew phrase occurs in Job xxxi. 33. “If I covered my transgression, oynəlike Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom ;' and in Psalm lxxxii. 6, 7, “ I have said ye are Gods, and all of you children of the Most High; but ye shall die like men,"bn3 like Adam. "The comparison in these two last is natural and impressive. The descendants of the first man imitate him in attempting to deny or palliate their sin; and the mortality to which he was subjected has descended to them as their inheritance: the inost exalted
Matt, xix. 17.
station furnishes no exception: the monarch dies like him, as well as the beggar. The resemblance is equally striking in the first passage, and there appears no reason against considering it as referring to the conduct of Adam, in violating his fidelity to his Maker. This is called the “transgression of the covenant,” which obviously teaches, that a covenant was made with him. Although the term is not used, the thing is intended by the Apostle, when he makes mention of the law of works, and the law of faith. The former is the law, which promised life upon the condition of works; and what is this but a covenant ? as the latter is the covenant of grace revealed in the Gospel, which freely promises it to believers. But the word is supposed to occur in that well known passage of the Epistle to the Galatians, where it is said, “ These are the two covenants."* The meaning, however, is so doubtful, that the propriety of founding an argument upon it is questionable. The law from Sinai had some appearance of being a republication of the covenant of works, preparatory to the ceremonial institution, which prefigured the great atonement for sin ; but to suppose, as some have done, that the Israelites in their national capacity are under that covenant, would exclude them from being the church, which can subsist only under a dispensation of the covenant of grace. When the Apostle says, that the law from Sinai " gendered to bondage,” he may speak of it according to the ideas of the carnal Jews, who looked upon it as a covenant of works, by obedience to which they were to obtain righteousness and life; or he may refer to the terrors with which it was accompanied, to the minuteness and multiplicity of its precepts, which there was every moment a danger of transgressing, and to its partial revelation of grace, the way into the holiest of all being not yet made manifest. In this uncertainty, we cannot safely appeal to this passage as a decisive authority for calling the transaction with our first parent, a covenant. There would be still greater impropriety in quoting the Epistle to the Hebrews,t in which mention is made of two covenants, the old and the new. It would betray great ignorance, indeed, to suppose the one to be the covenant of works, and the other, the covenant of grace. The term, covenant, is used in a variety of senses, and in the present case signifies a dispensation of religion. The old covenant is the dispensation of Moses, the dispensation of types and figures; the new covenant is the dispensation of the Gospel. “ The law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”!
In every covenant, there must be parties, and here we have two, God and Adam. God prescribed the condition, and connected with it a promise and a threatening, and Adam, with due submission and thankfulness, consented.
God must be considered, in the first place, as the Creator and Sovereign Lord, possessed of a right to require the service of his creature, in whatever way and form his wisdom might determine. His authority was unlimited; unlimited, I mean in respect of Adam, who was at the absolute disposal of the Author of his being, and had no independent rights which his Maker was bound to respect. God could do any thing to him personally, and with a view to his posterity, which was consistent with his own perfections. He is a law to himself, that is, he is uncontrolled by any external cause, and acts according to his own will; but his will is not arbitrary ; it is always in harmony with all the attributes of his nature. What he required from Adam was due to him, in consequence of the relation of the creature to the Creator; for it is evident, that he who is endowed with intellectual and moral powers by another, is under the strongest obligation to employ them according to the pleasure of the giver. The particular mode in which obedience was enjoined, is not liable to objection, as we formerly shewed. If it appeared to Divine wisdom to be a proper test, it is enough ; and it is also manifest to us, that it was well
Gal. iv. 24. † Heb. viii. # John i. 17. Vol. I.-58
adapted to answer the design. It made obedience hinge upon the authority of God alone, independently of any perception of fitness in the command itself; and this is its true foundation. The duty prescribed presented no formidable difficulty, but was remarkable for its easiness, and it was aitended with no particular temptation to transgress. No person who considers the circumstances, can for a moment imagine that, in proposing this trial, there was a tyrannical exercise of authority, or any design unfriendly to the interests of men. God did whai he had a right to do; but he imposed no burden which Adam was unable to bear.
In the second place, We must consider God as willing to communicate happiness to man. This appears from the nature of the transaction. A trial was made of his obedience; but the ultimate design, in subordination to the Divine glory, was his establishment in a state of innocence and enjoyment. God could have made him happy without entering into covenant with him ; but, by adopting this plan, it was put in his power to secure his happiness, by acquiring a right to it; a right founded upon stipulation, or upon the promise. There is not a greater misiake than to imagine, that the actions of creatures are intrinsically meritorious. They are not profitable to God; they are not gratuitous; they were previously due, are performed by power which God has freely bestowed, and consequently, give no claim to a reward. The highest creature, after ages of affectionate and universal obedience, has not laid his Creator under any obligation. If no covenant had been made, although Adam had gone through a long course of obedience without a single failure, he would have had no title to a recompence, and no injustice would have been done to him if he had been annihilated. I do not say, if he had been subjected to sufferings; because, according to our ideas of equity, punishment should be inflicted upon the guilty alone; but merit being impossible, and no promise having been given, it would not have been unjust to have reduced him to a state of nonentity. It is, therefore, a proof of the goodness of God, that, by making a covenant with our first parent, he gave him an opportunity to secure a blessed and immortal life, and to secure it to his posterity as well as to himself. It is no objection, that the issue has been different, unless it can be shewn, that the failure of the plan was owing to its inadaptation to the nature and circumstances of man. But there is no ground for such a charge. The condition was easy; Adam was possessed of intellectual and moral powers, in full vigour and activity, and had the most powerful motive to obedience in the consideration, that the everlasting well-being of himself and all his descendants, depended upon his conduct.
Candour requires me to add, that we are not competent fully to assign the reasons of this dispensation. Afier the most mature consideration of the subject, it appears mysterious that God should have placed our first parent in such circumstances, that while he might insure, he might forfeit, his own happiness and that of millions of beings who were to spring from his loins. We cannot tell why he adopted this plan with us and not with the angels, each of whom was left to stand or fall for himself. We know that the result has been another dispensation, by which the highest glory has redounded to God, and a part of the human race will be redeemed from sin and suffering ; but we cannot venture to affirm, that the first covenant was intended to pave the
way for the second, without being liable to be charged with believing, that God did not design the happiness of man by the first covenant, and, consequently, that there was no goodness in making it; and that, in opposition to a law which he has prescribed to us, he did evil that good might come. Instead of specuJating upon such high matters, and pretending to explain them by reasoning which does not satisfy the mind, we should endeavour to repress our doubts, and calm our murmurings, by the reflection that such was the will of God,