« IndietroContinua »
"the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Of this he strictly forbad them to eat, adding, " In "the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt "surely die;" dying thou shalt die. But first Eve, and then Adam did eat; and thus they incurred the sentence of death.1 So far all is clear and plain. But what was implied in this sentence? How was it executed? Who were involved in it? What were the immediate effects on Adam and Eve? What have been, and what will be, the consequences on all their posterity? These are questions which require distinct and explicit answers.
It is evident that Adam and Eve became liable to pain, fatigue, disease, sufferings, and temporal death.2 And it is equally certain that all their posterity are involved in this part of the sentence. That these sufferings, and this event of human life, are not the lot of man as a creature, or a * debt of nature,' the apostle testifies, saying, " By "one man sin entered into the world, and death "by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for "that all have sinned."3 So far little controversy, indeed, has been excited; though even this part of divine revelation is exceedingly lost sight of by men in general, while speaking of the vanity and vexations of life, or the certainty of death; nay even in their reasonings and investigations on religious subjects.
But most Calvinists, and great numbers who cannot justly be classed among them, maintain that Adam, in that very day died; that is, became "dead in sin," and " dead to God and holiness;" that " the Spirit of life" wholly left him; that he entirely lost that " image of God" in which he was created, as far as it consisted in holiness, and the capacity of choosing and delighting in God and things spiritually excellent; and that thenceforth he bare the image of the tempter, to whom he had yielded, and by whom he was overcome. They maintain likewise that all his posterity bear his image as fallen, and not his image as God at first created him; nor yet his image as God (according to general opinion,) restored him in part, by the grace promised through " the Seed of the "woman." Thus they maintain that nothing spiritually good, or ' good in the sight of God,' is found in our fallen nature,1 except as communicated by " the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," and according to "the new covenant in his blood."— "That which is born of the flesh is flesh;" and "they that are in the flesh cannot please God: but "ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be "the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man "have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his."2 They suppose that fallen man has life as an animal, and is capable of the actions and pleasures of animals; that he has life as a rational intelligent agent, (retaining in this sense, as fallen angels do," the image of God;") and is capable of intellectual pursuits and pleasures: yea they generally allow that he is capable even of many things of a moral nature, and can take a kind of pleasure, on one account or other, in things good before men ; but that he is entirely dead as to the holy image of God, and totally incapable of those employments and joys in which, according to scripture, the happiness of heaven consists.1
1 Gen. i. 26—31. ii. iii. * Gen. iii. 16—19. * Rom. v. 12.
We determine then, 1. That death, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, "the second death," was implied in the sentence denounced against our first parents. 2. That spiritual death took place imme1 One proof or illustration of this, not generally brought into full view, consists in the notions formed by men of different ages, nations, characters and pursuits, concerning the happiness to be enjoyed in a future state; where the immortality of the soul has been considered as certain or probable, or where the opinion has been traditional. In this view, we may trace the heaven expected by the wild Indian or savages; that of the sensualists ; that of those who delighted in war; or in horses and dogs, or other recreations; that of the philosopher all taken from the things which gave them their chief enjoyment on earth. But where, except in the scripture, and in books taken from it, do we read of " new heavens and a new earth in which dwelleth "righteousness?" of "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, "and that fadeth not away?" in which the inhabitants" serve "God day and night?" in which being with God, and like God; being perfectly holy; and perfectedin love and obedience; is the felicity proposed? in which none but spiritual pleasures are found? into which none can enter but the holy, " the spirits "of just men made perfect?" I say, when and where are these ideas to be found except in scripture, and as derived from scripture? In this sense, as well as others, " Eye hath not seen, nor "ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the "things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Let a man read heathen authors, philosophers and moralists, as well as poets, with this in view, and he will be more and more convinced that the idea never entered the minds of any among them ; that they were wholly incapable of conceiving in what true happiness consists; and that the peculiarity of scripture, in placing it in perfect holiness, is a stamp of divinity, a demonstration that God, not man, is the author of the book.
diately, and temporal death gradually. They became at the fall mortal, and sufferers ; and at length they died. 3. That all their posterity were involved in it, and come into the world unholy, mortal, children of wrath. 4. And finally, That deliverance from death, spiritual, temporal and eternal, never was granted, nor ever will be, to any one, from Adam to his latest descendent, except through "the Second Adam, the Lord from "heaven ;" " the Seed of the woman," whose heel was bruised by the serpent and his seed, and who bruises the serpent's head.—" Whosoever was not "found written in the book of life was cast into "the lake of fire:"—even "the book of life of the '' Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." l Many learned men, and several of our bishops, have written largely on the imputation of Adam's sin to all his posterity: 2 and there are intimations in scripture sufficient to support the general argument; though, perhaps, not all the particulars arranged under it, or deduced from it.3 The plan, however, of this work does not require me to enter on that subject. The general doctrine, which I would contend for on this part of our argument, being, as I am convinced," the faith once delivered "to the saints," has been briefly yet explicitly stated: but it will require more full explanation in many things, which will come in under the remaining sections of this chapter.
'It is evident from the account left us by Moses,
1 Rev. xiii. 8. xx. 15. 'Bishop Hopkins on the Covenants. 'Rom. v. 17—19. 1 Cor. xv. 44—47. Vol. vn. c
'that a considerable change took place in the 'minds of our first parents immediately after they 'had transgressed the prohibitory command of 'God, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of 'good and evil; but the conciseness with which 'the sacred historian has described the primitive 'condition of man, and his fall from the state in 'which he was created, has led to a variety of opin'ions respecting the effects of Adam's disobedience 'upon himself and his posterity.'l
The consequences of Adam's transgression on his posterity, in respect of their hearts and minds, must not be decided upon from the bare narrative of the fall, and the coincident events; but must be learned from the scriptures at large, and from the state of human nature in every age and nation to this day.
Numerous testimonies are found, in the sacred oracles, concerning " the heart" of man, and concerning the human character, describing them as exceedingly evil: and the history of mankind is a comment on these testimonies, and an exemplification of the doctrine attested. The sacred historian records, that "God made man in his own "image," and pronounced the whole creation, as then completed, " very good:" yet soon after it is said, " God saw the wickedness of man that it was "great in the earth, and that every imagination of "the thoughts of his heart was only evil contin"ually; and it repented the Lord that he had "made man, and it grieved him at his heart." 2 Surely we must conclude, from this affecting con1 Refutation of Calvinism, p. 1. '' Gen. vi. 5, 6.