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which put to the proof the principle upon which all obedience depends, profound submission to the authority of the Lawgiver ; but if perfect is here used to signify universal in extent, as well as pure in motive, the obedience prescribed in the covenant was only perfect constructively. Adam had not to go through a course of all the duties, but to evince that he was ready to perform them as opportunity should occur, by attending to this particular duty. I grant also, that the obedience was personal, or, in other words, was to be performed by himself; but as no doubt ever did, or ever could, arise in any mind upon this point, it was altogether unnecessary to mention it. This is a truism; ve cannot controvert it, but we deem it unworthy of notice, because it does not convey one particle of information. No person ever dreamed that Adam might have employed a substitute, or that he might have performed one part, and committed what remained to another. It is superfluous to say, that the condition was personal obedience. I deny also that it was perpetual obedience. The period of probation was not to be commensurate with his existence, nor indefinitely extended; there was a time fixed when the trial would end, and the reward would be conferred. To say that the obedience was to be perpetual, is contrary to the nature of a covenant. for in every transaction of this kind it is implied, that, when the stipulated service is finished, the promise will be fulfilled. But, when the term perpetual comes to be explained, we find that it does not signify perpetual, but temporary, and is employed to teach us that Adam was to continue to obey till the trial was ended. But why is a word used, which suggests an idea contrary to truth, and different from what the speaker or writer intended? Why should that be called perpetual, which would have probably terminated in a few days or weeks? Besides, if the meaning is, that man was bound to obey during the term prescribed, this notion is implied in the word perfect, for that obedience only is perfect which is sustained as long as the obligation to perform it lasts. Here then, we have an instance of repetition, under the name of distinction.
I have dwelt longer upon this account of the condition of the covenant than was perhaps necessary, because it is frequenıly met with, and may be adopted without examination. The words perfect, personal, and perpetual, have been sounded in our ears from our infancy, and we may repeat them without stopping to inquire, whether they have been selected with judgment, and give a true representation of the case.
Obedience was previously due by our first parent to his Maker, upon whom he was physically and morally dependent. It is implied in the just conception of a creature, that, as he holds life and all his faculties from his Creator, he is bound to liv for him alone ; and that, after having done all that is possible with his powers and in his circumstances, he is an unprofitable servant. His Creator has gained nothing by his services, and consequently owes him no recompence. Hence it appears that, in the actions of a perfect human being, there could be no intrinsic merit; that no claim could be founded on the real value of the actions; that there was no proportion between their worth and a reward, which it behoved justice to recognise. They therefore greatly err, who maintain, that the obedience of Adam would on its own account have entitled him to happiness. The merit of condignity, as it has been called, exists only in the dreams of Papists, and men like them, who forget that God cannot become a debtor to his creatures, but in consequence of his free and gracious engagement. But there may be such a thing as pactional or conventional merit, that is, merit arising not from the natural worth of the actions of creatures, but from a voluntary stipulation, by which God, independent and all-sufficient, has agreed to consider their obedience as a reason why he should bestow new benefits upon them. This was the only merit of which Adam was capable. God put it in his power to acquire a conventional right to life.
If he had performed the condition, he might have claimed it, not with the boldness which one man may use in demanding the fulfilment of a bargain, by another, because he has law and justice on his side, but with an humble sense that in himself he deserved nothing, yet with full confidence in the Diving faithfulness and goodness. There would have been no ground for self-gratulation or exultation; but there would have been ground for admiring and praising the liberality of his Maker, who had bestowed an immense reward for services which he might have exacted without making any return; and here we should remember and apply the words of the A posile, ** If Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God."* In his presence, ihey who never sinned, as well as they who have been redeemed by grace, must cast down their crowns, and acknowledge that they have nothing but what they have received.
The obedience of Adam would have been considered as virtually the obedience of his posterity, for he would have performed it, not in a private, but in a public capacity. I do not mean, that God would have viewed his posterity as having actually obeyed, any more than that, when he justifies believers in Christ, he views them as having personally fulfilled the righteousness of the law. But what had been done by the common representative of the human race, would have been reckoned or imputed to them; so that, by the same act, their happiness and his would have been secured. If God had said to him, “Live, for thou hast faithfully obeyed my command," he would have said at the same time, “ All thy descendants shall live.” They would have come into existence pure and happy, and would have continued in this state without danger, or the possibility of a change. But, let it not be supposed, that they would have been released from an obligation to personal obedience. Adam himself would not have been released from it. All men would have been bound to fulfil the will of God throughout their whole duration ; but obedience would not have been the condition on which their hopes were suspended. It would have been the willing and affectionate recognition of his authority, and an expression of their gratitude for his infinite goodness, in giving them existence, and making it blessed.
ON THE FALL OF MAN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
Penalty of the Covenant of Works, Death, Temporal, Spiritual, and Eternal — Promise of the
Covenant-Seals of the Covenant.
Having considered the parties in the covenant, and the condition, I should proceed to the promise, which is next in the natural order, and is the only part remaining to complete a federal transaction. A penalty, I formerly remarked, is not essential, as covenants may be conceived, and are sometimes made, the violation of which terminates simply in their abrogation ; but in the present case, it arose from the nature of things, it being impossible that, if man transgressed the law of his Creator, and a law which he had come under a voluntary obligation to obey, he should be permitted to escape with impunity. As the promise is not mentioned in the original transaction, and is in
• Rom. iv. 2. Vol. I.-59
ferred from the penalty, it will be proper to begin with the latter : “ In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."
The literal sense of this denunciation is so obvious, that one should have thought it impossible that there could be any dispute about it; but the perverseness of man has endeavoured to perplex every principle of religion, and has controverted, not only points which are obscure and mysterious, but the plainest declarations. If words can have a definite meaning, these import that. the death of the body was to be the penalty of transgression; but this has been denied. Pelagius, who rejected the doctrine of original sin, and held that the fall of Adam affected himself alone, found it necessary to reconcile the preralence of death among his descendants with his system; and hence he maintained, that even to Adam, death was not a punishment, but a natural effect resulting from his constitution. In other words, he was mortal from the beginning. He is represented by his contemporaries as having said, that Adam would have died, whether he had sinned or had not sinned, and that he died by a necessity of nature. Socinians, who have introduced almost every heresy into their creed, have adopted this opinion of Pelagius; “All die by Adam, says the founder of the sect, “ because he was mortal; and for this reason, those who are born of him must also be mortal. The first man was taken from the earth, and was therefore earthy. This happened before the fall, and, therefore, before the fall his body was, by its own nature, liable to dissolution. Before he sinned, he had a body corruptible, vile, and infirm.” Human impudence cannot well go farther than, in this bold and undisguised manner, to contradict the express declaration of Scripture. When a person ventures to deny what is sell-evident, we are at a loss how to proceed; whether to reply to him, or to treat him with silent contempt. It may be sufficient, in the present case, to repeat the words of God to Adam, without quoting other passages in confirmation of their meaning: “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Can any thing be plainer, than that, if he did not eat, he should not die? Can we suppose, that God threatened as a consequence of transgression, what would take place in the course of nature ? that Adam was deterred from disobedience, by the annunciation of an event which would befal him, although he performed his duty ? If men will make themselves ridiculous, by venting opinions stamped with folly and absurdity, let them beware of exposing their Maker to contempt.
Arininians admit, that temporal death was, in a certain sense, the consequence of sin; when Adam fell, he was laid under the necessity of dying. They hold, however, that his body was naturally frail and mortal ; but that he would have continued to live, if he had obeyed his Creator. They choose to say, that we were laid under the necessity of dying, to intimate that he was not made mortal by sin, having been so from the beginning; but that after he sinned, death, which he would have escaped, if he had acted a dutiful part, was unavoidable. Upon this hypothesis, death cannot be strictly called a penalty, or new evil which owed its existence to sin, for Adam was naturally subject to it; but it assumed the form of a penalty, by being denounced as what would certainly take place, in case of disobedience. In a word, this is a proper commentary upon the threatening. Thou art mortal by thy original constitution. I will prolong thy life, if thou retain thy integrity ; but is thou transgress, the law of thy nature will be permitted to operate, and thou shalt return to the dust from whence thou wast taken.' It is sufficient to say, that for this opinion there is not the slightest foundation in Scripture; that it is contrary to the natural import of the threatening, which suggests, that the evil denounced was a thing to which man was not previously liable; and that it differs from the sentiments which have been entertained by christians in general, and by the Jews, if we may judge from the words of one of their ancient
books: “ God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless, through envy of the devil, came death into the world."*
Dr. Taylor of Norwich, (who is an oracle among Divines of a certain description,) has taken the liberty not only to wrest the Scriptures, but most manfully to contradict himself, so that his sentiments on this subject are a mass of confusion. He tells us, that “ the sentence of death, of a general mortality, was pronounced upon mankind, in consequence of Adam's first transgression;" that they are “ made subject to death, by the judicial act of God;''† and yet he maintains that, in Scripture, “ nothing is said to be imputed, reckoned, or accounted to any person for righteousness or condemnation, but the proper act or deed of that person." He affirms and denies : tells us that we are adjudged to death for the sin of Adam, and tells us again, that we could not be adjudged to it, but for our personal sin. "The truth is, that he did not believe original sin, but was led into this labyrinth by his insidious design to retain the phraseology of Scripture, while he explained away the meaning. That he did not consider death as the penalty of sin, is evident from his maintaining that it is a great benefit, and is intended to be such, as it increases the vanity of earthly things, and tends to excite sober reflection, to induce us to be moderate in gratifying the appetites of the body, and to mortisy pride and ambition. Thus, by his magic touch, the curse is changed into a blessing; and certainly, if, as Dr. Taylor believed, we are not born guilty and polluted, it is necessary to account for the strange fact, that we are apparently treated as criminals ; and, since it is not very easy to do so in a satisfactory manner, to put on a bold face, and say, that it is quite a mistake to suppose that death is an evil, for it is designed solely for our good. It has been very properly asked, if this be the case, how does it come to pass that infants die, who can derive none of the alleged advantages from their mortality? It is rather a puzzling question, which we shall leave the admirers of this Theologian to answer as they best can.
I have already taken notice of the opinion, that death befalls the posterity of Adam, as a natural inheritance, or that their mortality is not properly the punishment of his sin, but the consequence of his mortality ; and I shall not repeat the observations formerly made.
Temporal death is the dissolution of the union which subsists between the body and the soul. When the soul forsakes the body, the breath goes out; the circulation of the blood ceases, with all the vital functions, and it becomes as inactive and insensible, as any piece of unorganized matter. Putrefaction commences, and in process of time, its firmest parts, even the bones, are reduced to their original elements.
He who appoints the end, provides the means by which it will be accomplished. Death is not, in ordinary cases, the sudden rupture of the tie which binds together the two constituent parts of our nature. It is effected by a va. riety of causes, which, in a longer or shorter time, and with greater or less violence, impair the strength, and derange the contexture of the body, so that it ceases to be a fit habitation for the soul. As these causes are not accidental, but operate under the direction of Providence, which has fixed the manner and time of our death, as well as our death itself, they must be considered as included in the original sentence. Nothing, indeed, was mentioned in the threatening but death ; but when God explained the import of the term, in his address to our first parents after the fall, he denounced sorrow, and toil, and a long train of outward troubles, to be closed by their return to the dust. The afflictions to which adults are subject may be viewed as the punishinent of their personal transgressions, and are thus represented in the Scriptures; but
Wisd. ü. 23, 24. + Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin, Part i. # Ibid. p.
the diseases and sufferings of infants cannot be accounted for in this way, as they are not capable of actual sin, and they must be the effect of their connexion with Adam. The body is affected by the elements; by vicissitudes of cold and heat; by the air which it breathes ; by the rain and dew of heaven; by exhalations from the earth and the waters, which cause sickness, pain, debility, and decay. It is injured and worn out by the toil which is necessary to procure a subsistence; for the earth, cursed for our sake, spontaneously brings forth briers and thorns, but demands severe and patient labour as the price of its valuable fruits. The accidents which prove fatal to life could not be easily enumerated; the diseases of various names, which assail us by day and by night, form a long and melancholy list; and the dreadful visitations of earthquake, famine, and pestilence, which lay waste cities and provinces, are means by which the Almighty avenges the violation of his law. We may add to these evils, the anxiety, the fear, the disappointment, the regret, the foreboding apprehensions, which haunt the mind, and, in consequence of the intimate connexion between the soul and body, make the latter pine away, and sink into an untimely grave.
When death entered into the world, these evils accompanied it. They are not distinct penalties, but ramifications of the one penalty incurred by the breach of the covenant. Man is dying from the moment of his birth ; and as many of the human race are cut off almost as soon as they see the light, so it is but a sickly life which is allotted to those whose time is prolonged; a life always precarious, and which, being attended with pain and infirmity, reminds them that it will not last long, and that they are hastening to the house appointed for all living.
That temporal death is a penal evil, will be manifest from an attentive consideration of its nature. The death of a man is not like that of a vegetable, which, not having consciousness, does not enjoy existence; nor like that of the lower animals, which, although sentient beings, having little recollection of the past, and no knowledge of the future, feel neither regret nor fear, and suffer merely the pain which terminates their life. Death is to us the loss of a possession which we highly value, and eagerly wish to retain, and the surrender of which is often attended with acute mental distress. Let us think of the situation of our first parent, and endeavour to enter into his ideas and feelings, and we shall perceive how dreadful an evil it is. He had received from the hand of his Creator, along with existence, so many blessings that nothing was wanting to his happiness; and looking forward, he was gladdened by the prospect of endless ages of felicity, when suddenly his hopes vanished, and there opened to his view a short and troubled course, which would terminate in the abode of darkness and corruption. He must have trembled while the sentence was sounding in his ears, and for a time have been overwhelmed with despair. To his posterity, life does not present the same attractions ; but, fallen as is the value of the gift, it is still highly prized. “ All that a man hath will he give for his life.". To preserve it, is our constant care ; we submit to incessant labour, in order to procure the means of supporting it; we summon others to assist us in repairing the injuries which it has sustained, and guarding it against danger; the very thought of dissolution alarms us, and is admitted into the mind with reluctance, and sometimes we turn pale, and shudder at its name. We recoil from suffering; but what would not a man undergo, rather than part with his life? We confess, then, that death is an evil; our feelings bear testimony to the truth, that it is a punishment of an awful kind. To be arrested in the midst of our career; to be separated for ever from those whom we love ; to close our eyes for the last time upon the light of the sun ; to give up our joys and hopes with our parting sigh; this is the doom of man that is born of a woman ; this is the sad inheritance which our great progenitor has bequeathed io us. Every circumstance bespeaks the wrath of God