CONCERNING ORIGINAL RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND WHETHER OUR FIRST PARENTS WERE CREATED WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS, OR MORAL RECTITUDE OF HEART..
THE doctrine of Original Righteousness, or the creation of our first parents with holy principles and dispositions, has a close connexion, in several respects, with the doctrine of original sin. Dr. T. was sensible of this; and accordingly he strenuously opposes this doctrine, in his book against original sin. And therefore in handling the subject, I would in the first place remove this author’s main objection against this doctrine, and then show how it may be inferred from the account which Moses gives us, in the three first chapters of Genesis.
Dr. T.‘s grand objection against this doctrine, which he abundantly insists on, is this: that it is utterly inconsistent with the nature of virtue, that it should be concreated with any person; because, if so, it must be by an act of God’s absolute power, without our knowledge or concurrence; and that moral virtue, in its very nature, implieth the choice and consent of the moral agent, without which it cannot be virtue and holiness: that a necessary holiness is no holiness. So p. 180. where he observes, “That Adam must exist, he must be created, yea he must exercise thought and reflection, before he was righteous.” (See also p. 250, 251.) In p. 161. S. he says, “To say, that God not only endowed Adam with a capacity of being righteous, but moreover that righteousness and true holiness were created with him, or wrought into his nature, at the same time he was made, is to affirm a contradiction, or what is inconsistent with the very nature of righteousness.” And in like manner Dr. Turnbull in many places insists upon it, that it is necessary to the very being of virtue, that it be owing to our own choice, and diligent culture.
With respect to this, I would observe, that it consists in a notion of virtue quite inconsistent with the nature of things, and the common notions of mankind; and also inconsistent with Dr. T.‘s own notions of virtue. Therefore, if to affirm that to be virtue or holiness, which is not the fruit of preceding thought, reflection, and choice, is to affirm a contradiction, I shall show plainly, that for him to affirm otherwise, is a contradiction to himself.
In the first place, I think it a contradiction to the nature of things, as judged of by the common sense of mankind. It is agreeable to the sense of men, in all nations and ages, not only that the fruit or effect of a good choice is virtuous, but that the good choice itself, from whence that effect proceeds, is so; yea, also the antecedent good disposition, temper, or affection of mind, from whence proceeds that good choice, is virtuous. This is the general notion—not that principles derive their goodness from actions, but—that actions derive their goodness from the principles whence they proceed; so that the act of choosing what is good, is no further virtuous, than it proceeds from a good principle, or virtuous disposition of mind. Which supposes, that a virtuous disposition of mind may be before a virtuous act of choice; and that, therefore, it is not necessary there should first be thought, reflection, and choice, before there can be any virtuous disposition. If the choice be first, before the existence of a good disposition of heart, what is the character of that choice? There can, according to our natural notions, be no virtue in a choice which proceeds from no virtuous principle, but from mere self-love, ambition, or some animal appetites; therefore, a virtuous temper of mind may be before a good act of choice, as a tree may be before the fruit, and the fountain before the stream which proceeds from it.
The following things, in Mr. Hutcheson’s inquiry concerning moral good and evil, are evidently agreeable to the nature of things, and the voice of human sense and reason. (Sect. II. p. 132, 133.) ” Every action which we apprehend as either morally good or evil, is always supposed to flow from some affections towards sensitive natures. And whatever we call virtue or vice, is either some such affection, or some action consequent upon it.—All the actions counted religious in any country, are supposed by those who count them so, to flow from some affections towards the Deity: and whatever we call social virtue, we still suppose to flow from affections towards our fellow-creatures.—Prudence, if it is only employed in promoting private interest, is never imagined to be a virtue.” In these things Dr. Turnbull expressly agrees with Mr. Hutcheson, his admired author.
If a virtuous disposition or affection is before its acts, then they are before those virtuous acts of choice which proceed from it. Therefore, there is no necessity that all virtuous dispositions or affections should be the effect of choice : and so, no such supposed necessity can be a good objection against such a disposition being natural, or from a kind of instinct, implanted in the mind in its creation. Agreeably to this Mr. Hutcheson says, (Ibid. sect. III. p. 196, 197.) “I know not for what reason some will not allow that to be virtue, which flows from instinct or passions. But how do they help themselves? They say, virtue arises from reason. What is reason, but the sagacity we have in prosecuting any end? The ultimate end proposed by common moralists, is the happiness of the agent himself. And this certainly he is determined to pursue from instinct. Now may not another instinct towards the public, or the good of others, be as proper a principle of virtue as the instinct towards private happiness? If it be said, that actions from instinct are not the effect of prudence and choice, this objection will hold full as strongly against the actions which flow from self-love.”
And if we consider what Dr. T. declares, as his own notion of the essence of virtue, and which he so confidently and often affirms, that it should follow choice, and proceed from it, we shall find it is no less repugnant to that sentiment, than it is to the nature of things, and the general notions of mankind. For it is his notion, as well as Mr. Hutcheson’s, that the essence of virtue lies in good affection, and particularly in benevolence or love: as he very fully declares in these words in his Key, “That the word that signifies goodness and mercy should also signify moral rectitude in general, will not seem strange, if we consider that love is the fulfilling of the law. Goodness, according to the sense of Scripture, and the nature of things, includes all moral rectitude; which, I reckon, 178 may every part of it, where it true and genuine, be resolved into this single principle.” If it be so indeed, then certainly no act whatsoever can have moral rectitude, but what proceeds from this principle. And consequently no act of volition or choice can have any moral rectitude, that takes place before this principle exists. And yet he most confidently affirms, that thought, reflection, and choice must go before virtue, and that all virtue or righteousness must be the fruit of preceding choice. This brings his scheme to an evident contradiction. For no act of choice can be virtuous but what proceeds from a principle of benevolence, or love; for he insists that all genuine moral rectitude, in every part of it, is resolved into this single principle. And yet the principle of benevolence itself cannot be virtuous, unless it proceeds from choice; for he affirms, that nothing can have the nature of virtue but what comes from choice. So that virtuous love as the principle of all virtue, must go before virtuous choice, and be the principle or spring of it; and yet virtuous choice must go before virtuous benevolence, and be the spring of that. If a virtuous act of choice goes before a principle of benevolence, and produces it, then this virtuous act is something distinct from that principle which follows it, and is its effect. So that here is at least one part of virtue, yea the spring and source of all virtue, viz. a virtuous choice, that cannot be resolved into that single principle of love.
Here also it is worthy to be observed, that Dr. T. (p. 128.) says, the cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth or which proceedeth from it, and so he argues, that if the effect be bad, the cause alone is sinful. According to which reasoning, when the effect is good, the cause alone is righteous or virtuous. To the cause is to be ascribed all the praise of the good effect it produceth. And by the same reasoning it will follow, that if, as Dr. Taylor says, Adam must choose to be righteous, before he was righteous, and if it be essential to the nature of righteousness, or moral rectitude, that it be the effect of choice, and hence a principle of benevolence cannot have moral rectitude, unless it proceeds from choice; then not the principle of benevolence, which is the effect, but to the foregoing choice alone is to be ascribed all the virtue or righteousness that is in the case. And so, instead of all moral rectitude, in every part of it, being resolved into that single principle of benevolence, no moral rectitude, in any part of it, is to be resolved into that principle; but all is to be resolved into the foregoing choice, which is the cause.
But yet it follows from these inconsistent principles, that there is no moral rectitude or virtue in that first act of choice, that is the cause of all consequent virtue. This follows two ways; 1. Because every part of virtue lies in the benevolent principle, which is the effect; and therefore no part of it can lie in the cause. 2. The choice of virtue, as to the first act at least, can have no virtue or righteousness at all; because it does not proceed from any foregoing choice. For Dr. T. insists, that a man must first have reflection and choice, before he can have righteousness; and that it is essential to holiness that it proceed from choice. So that the first choice from which holiness proceeds, can have no virtue at all, because, by the supposition, it does not proceed from choice, being the first choice. Hence, if it be essential to holiness that it proceeds from choice, it must proceed from an unholy choice; unless the first holy choice can be before itself.
And with respect to Adam, let us consider how upon Dr. T.‘s principles, it was possible he ever should have any such thing as righteousness, by any means at all. In the state wherein God created him, he could have no such thing as love to God, or any benevolence in his heart. For if so, there would have been original righteousness; there would have been genuine moral rectitude; nothing would have been wanting: for our author says, True, genuine moral rectitude, in every part of it, is to be resolved into this single principle. But if he were wholly without any such thing as love to God, or any virtuous love, how should he come by virtue? The answer doubtless will be, by act of choice: he must first choose to be virtuous. But what if he did choose to be virtuous? It could not be from love to God, or any virtuous principle, that he chose it; for, by the supposition, he has no such principle in his heart. And if he chooses it without such a principle, still, according to this author, there is no virtue in his choice; for all virtue, he says, is to be resolved into that single principle of love. Or will he say, there may be produced in the heart a virtuous benevolence by an act or acts of choice, that are not virtuous? But this does not consist with what he implicitly asserts, that to the cause alone is to be ascribed what is in the effect. So that there is no way that can possibly be devised, in consistence with Dr. T.‘s scheme, in which Adam ever could have any righteousness, or could ever either obtain any principle of virtue, or perform any one virtuous act.
These confused inconsistent assertions, concerning virtue and moral rectitude, arise from the absurd notions in vogue, concerning freedom of will, as if it consisted in the will’s self-determining power, supposed to be necessary to moral agency, virtue, and vice. The absurdities of which, with the grounds of these errors, and what the truth is respecting these matters, with its evidences, I have, according to my ability, fully and largely considered, in my ”Inquiry’’ on that subject; to which I must refer the reader, who desires further satisfaction, and is willing to give himself the trouble of reading that discourse.
Having considered this great argument, and pretended demonstration of Dr. T. against original righteousness; I proceed to the proofs of the doctrine. And, in the first place, I would consider, whether there be not evidence of it in the three first chapters of Genesis: or, whether the history there delivered does not lead us to suppose, that our first parents were created in a state of moral rectitude and holiness.
I. This history leads us to suppose, that Adam’s sin, with relation to the forbidden fruit, was the first sin he committed. Which could not have been, had he not always, till then, been perfectly righteous, righteous from the first moment of his existence; and consequently, created or brought into existence righteous. In a moral agent, subject to moral obligations, it is the same thing, to be perfectly innocent, as to be perfectly righteous. It must be the same, because there can no more be any medium between sin and righteousness, or between being right and being wrong, in a moral sense, than there can be a medium between straight and crooked, in a natural sense. Adam was brought into existence capable of acting immediately, as a moral agent; and therefore he was immediately under a rule of right action. He was obliged as soon as he existed to act aright. And if he was obliged to act aright as soon as he existed, he was obliged even then to be inclined to act right. Dr. T. says, (p. 166. S.) “Adam could not sin without a sinful inclination:” and, just for the same reason, he could not do aright, without an inclination to right action. And as he was obliged to act rightly from the first moment of his existence, and did so, till he sinned in reference to the forbidden fruit, he must have had a disposition of heart to do rightly the first moment of his existence; and that is the same as to be created, or brought into existence, with an inclination to right action, or, which is the same thing, a virtuous and holy disposition of heart.
Here it will be in vain to say, “It is true, that it was Adam’s duty to have a good disposition or inclination, as soon as it was possible to be obtained, in the nature of things; but as it could not be without time to establish such a habit, which requires antecedent thought, reflection, and repeated right action; therefore all that Adam could be obliged to, in the first place, was to reflect, and consider things in a right manner, and apply himself to right action, in order to obtain a right disposition:” for this supposes, that even the reflection and consideration to which he was obliged, was right action. Surely he was obliged to it no otherwise than as a thing that was right: and therefore he must have an inclination to this right action immediately, before he could perform those first right actions. And as the inclination to them should be right, the principle, or disposition from which he performed even those actions, must be good: otherwise the actions would 179 not be right in the sight of him who looks at the heart; nor would they answer his obligations, if he had done them for some sinister end, and not from a regard to God and his duty. Therefore there must have been a regard to God and his duty implanted in him at his first existence: otherwise it is certain, he would have done nothing from a regard to God and his duty; no, not so much as to reflect and consider, and try to obtain such a disposition. The very supposition of a disposition to right action being first obtained by repeated right action, is grossly inconsistent with itself: for it supposes a course of right action, before there is a disposition to perform any right action.
These are no invented quibbles or sophisms. If God expected from Adam any obedience, or duty to him at all, when he first made him—whether it was in reflecting, considering, or any way exerting his faculties—then he was expected immediately to exercise love to God. For how could it be expected, that Adam should have a strict and perfect regard to God’s commands and authority, and his duty to him, when he had no love nor regard to him in his heart, nor could it be expected he should have any? If Adam from the beginning did his duty to God, and had more respect to the will of his Creator, than to other things, and as much respect to him as he ought to have; then from the beginning he had a supreme and perfect respect and love to God: and if so, he was created with such a principle. There is no avoiding the consequence. Not only external duties, but internal ones, such as summarily consist in love, must be immediately required of Adam, as soon as he existed, if any duty at all was required. For it is most apparently absurd, to talk of a spiritual being, with the faculties of understanding and will, being required to perform external duties, without internal. Dr. T. himself observes, that love is the fulfilling of the law, and that all moral rectitude, even every part of it, must be resolved into that single principle. Therefore, if any morally right act at all, reflection, consideration, or any thing else, was required of Adam immediately, on his first existence, and was performed as required; then he must, the first moment of his existence, have his heart possessed of that principle of divine love; which implies the whole of moral rectitude in every part of it, according to our author’s own doctrine; and so the whole of moral rectitude or righteousness must begin with his existence: which is the thing taught in the doctrine of original righteousness.
Let us consider how it could be otherwise, than that Adam was always, in every moment of his existence, obliged to exercise such respect of heart towards every object, as was agreeable to the apparent merit of that object. For instance, would it not at any time have become Adam, on the exhibition of God’s infinite goodness to him, to have exercised answerable gratitude; and would not the contrary have been unbecoming and odious? And if something had been presented to Adam’s view, transcendently amiable in itself, for instance, the glorious perfection of the divine nature, would it not have become him to love, relish, and delight in it? Would not such an object have merited this? And if the view of an object so amiable in itself did not affect his mind with complacence, would it not, according to the plain dictates of our understanding, have shown an unbecoming temper of mind? Time, by culture, to form and establish a good disposition, would not have taken off the odiousness of the temper. And if there had been never so much time, I do not see how it could be expected he should improve it aright, in order to obtain a good disposition, if he had not already some good disposition to engage him to it.
That belonging to the will, and disposition of the heart, which is in itself either odious or amiable, unbecoming or decent, always would have been Adam’s virtue or sin, in any moment of his existence; if there be any such thing as virtue or vice; by which terms nothing can be meant, but something in our moral disposition and behaviour, which is becoming or unbecoming, amiable or odious.
Human nature must be created with some dispositions; a disposition to relish some things as good and amiable, and to be averse to other things as odious and disagreeable: otherwise, it must be without any such thing as inclination or will; perfectly indifferent, without preference, without choice, or aversion, towards any thing as agreeable or disagreeable. But if it had any concreated dispositions at all, they must be either right or wrong, either agreeable or disagreeable to the nature of things. If man had at first the highest relish of things excellent and beautiful, a disposition to have the quickest and highest delight in those things which were most worthy of it, then his dispositions were morally right and amiable, and never can be excellent in a higher sense. But if he had a disposition to love most those things that were inferior and less worthy, then his dispositions were vicious. And it is evident there can be no medium between these.
II. This notion of Adam being created without a principle of holiness in his heart, taken with the rest of Dr. T.‘s scheme, is inconsistent with what the history in the beginning of Genesis leads us to suppose of the great favours and smiles of Heaven, which Adam enjoyed while he remained in innocency. The Mosaic account suggests to us, that till Adam sinned, he was in happy circumstances, surrounded with testimonies and fruits of God’s favour. This is implicitly owned by Dr. T. when he says, (p. 252.) “That in the dispensation our first parents were under before the fall, they were placed in a condition proper to engage their gratitude, love, and obedience.” But it will follow, on our author’s principles, that Adam, while in innocency, was placed in far worse circumstances, than he was in after his disobedience, and infinitely worse than his posterity are in; under unspeakably greater disadvantages for avoiding sin, and the performance of duty. For by this doctrine, Adam’s posterity come into the world with their hearts as free from any propensity to sin as he, and he was made as destitute of any propensity to righteousness as they: and yet God, in favour to them, does great things to restrain them from sin, and excite them to virtue, which he never did for Adam in innocency, but laid him, in the highest degree, under contrary disadvantages. God, as an instance of his great favour, and fatherly love to man, since the fall, has denied him the ease and pleasures of paradise, which gratified and allured his senses, and bodily appetites; that he might diminish his temptations to sin. And as a still greater means to restrain from sin, and promote virtue, has subjected him to labour, toil, and sorrow in the world: and not only so, but as a means to promote his spiritual and eternal good far beyond this, has doomed him to death. When all this was found insufficient, he, in further prosecution of the designs of his love, shortened men’s lives exceedingly, made them twelve or thirteen times shorter than in the first ages. And yet this, with all the innumerable calamities which God, in great favour to mankind, has brought on the world—whereby their temptations are so vastly cut short, and the inducements to virtue heaped one upon another to so great a degree—have proved insufficient, now for so many thousand years together, to restrain from wickedness in any considerable degree; while innocent human nature, all along, comes into the world with the same purity and harmless dispositions that our first parents had in paradise. What vast disadvantages indeed then must Adam and Eve be in, who had no more in their nature to keep them from sin, or incline them to virtue, than their posterity, and yet were without all those additional and extraordinary means! They were not only without such exceeding great means as we now have, when our lives are made so very short, but had vastly less advantages than their antediluvian posterity, who to prevent their being wicked, and to make them good, had so much labour and toil, sweat and sorrow, briers and thorns, with a body gradually decaying and returning to the dust. Our first parents had the extreme disadvantage of being placed amongst many and exceeding great temptations—not only without toil or sorrow, pain or disease, to humble and mortify them, and a sentence of death to wean them from the world, but—in the midst of the most exquisite and alluring sensitive delights; the reverse in every respect, and the highest degree, of that most gracious state of requisite means, and great advantages, which mankind now enjoy! If mankind now, under these vast restraints, and great advantages, are not restrained from general, and as it were universal wickedness, how could it be expected that Adam and Eve, created with no better hearts than men bring into the world now, and destitute of all these advantages, and in the midst of all contrary disadvantages, should escape it?
These things are not agreeable to Moses’s account. That represents a happy state of peculiar favours and blessings before the fall, and the curse coming afterwards; but according to this scheme, the curse was before the fall, and the great favours and testimonies of love followed the apostasy. And the curse before the fall must be a curse with a witness, being to so high a degree the reverse of such means, means so necessary for such a creature as innocent man, and in all their multitude and fulness proving too little. Paradise therefore must be a mere delusion! There was indeed a great show of favour, in placing man in the midst of such delights. But this delightful garden, it seems, with all its beauty and sweetness, was in its real tendency worse than the apples of Sodom. It was but a mere bait, (God forbid the blasphemy,) the more effectually enticing by its beauty and deliciousness, to Adam’s eternal ruin. Which might be the more expected to be fatal to him, seeing he was the first man, having no capacity superior to his posterity, and wholly without the advantage of their observations, experiences, and improvements.
I proceed now to take notice of an additional proof of the doctrine we are upon, from another part of the Holy Scripture. A very clear text for original righteousness we have in Eccles. vii. 29. “Lo, this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”
It is an observation of no weight which Dr. T. makes on this text, that the word man is commonly used to signify mankind in general, or mankind collectively taken. It is true, it often signifies the species of mankind; but then it is used to signify the species, with regard to its duration and succession from its beginning, as well as with regard to its extent. The English word mankind is used to signify the species: but what then? Would it be an improper way of speaking, to say, that when God first made mankind, he placed them in a pleasant paradise, (meaning in their first parents,) but now they live in the midst of briers and thorns? And it is certain, that to speak thus of God making mankind—his giving the species an existence in their first parents, at the creation—is agreeable to the scripture use of such an expression. As in Deut. iv. 32. “Since the day that God created man upon the earth.” Job xx. 4. “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon the earth.” Isa. xlv. 12. “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens.” Jer. xxvii. 5. “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power.” All these texts speak of God making man, signifying the species of mankind; and yet they all plainly have respect to God making man at first, when he made the earth, and stretched out the heavens. In all these places the same word, Adam, is used as in Ecclesiastes; and in the last of them, used with (HE emphaticum) the emphatic sign, as here; though Dr. T. omits it, when he tells us he gives us a catalogue of all the places in Scripture where the word is used. And it argues nothing to the Doctor’s purpose, that the pronoun they is used;—THEY have sought out many inventions. This is properly applied to the species, which God made at first upright; the species begun with more than one, and continued in a multitude. As Christ speaks of the two sexes, in the relation of man and wife, continued in successive generations; Matt. xix. 4. “He that made them at the beginning, made them male and female;” having reference to Adam and Eve.
No less impertinent, and also very unfair, is his criticism on the word (rSy) translated upright. Because the word sometimes signifies right, he would from thence infer, that it does not properly signify moral rectitude, even when used to express the character of moral agents. He might as well insist, that the English word upright, sometimes, and in its most original meaning, signifies right up, or in an erect posture, therefore it does not properly signify any moral character, when applied to moral agents. And indeed less unreasonably; for it is known, that in the Hebrew language, in a peculiar manner, most words used to signify moral and spiritual things, are taken from external and natural objects. The word (rSy Jashar) is used, as applied to moral agents, or to the words and actions of such, (if I have not misreckoned) about an hundred and ten times in Scripture; and about an hundred of them, without all dispute, to signify virtue, or moral rectitude, (though Dr. T. is pleased to say, the word does not generally signify a moral character,) and for the most part it signifies true virtue, or virtue in such a sense, as distinguishes it from all false appearances of virtue, or what is only virtue in some respects, but not truly so in the sight of God. It is used at least eighty times in this sense: and scarce any word can be found in the Hebrew language more significant of this. It is thus used constantly in Solomon’s writings, (where it is often found) when used to express a character or property of moral agents. And it is beyond all controversy, that he uses it in this place, (Eccles. vii.) to signify moral rectitude, or a character of real virtue and integrity. For the wise man is speaking of persons with respect to their moral character, inquiring into the corruption and depravity of mankind, (as is confessed, p. 184.) and he here declares, he had not found more than one among a thousand of the right stamp, truly and thoroughly virtuous and upright: which appeared a strange thing! But in this text he clears God, and lays the blame on man: man was not made thus at first. He was made of the right stamp, altogether good in his kind, (as all other things were,) truly and thoroughly virtuous, as he ought to be; but they have sought out many inventions. Which last expression signifies things sinful, or morally evil; (as is confessed, p. 185.) And this expression, used to signify those moral evils he found in man, which he sets in opposition to the uprightness man was made in, shows, that by uprightness he means the most true and sincere goodness. The word rendered inventions, most naturally and aptly signifies the subtile devices, and crooked deceitful ways, of hypocrites, wherein they are of a character contrary to men of simplicity and godly sincerity; who, though wise in that which is good, are simple concerning evil. Thus the same wise man, in Prov. xii. 2. sets a truly good man in opposition to a man of wicked devices, whom God will condemn. Solomon had occasion to observe many who put on an artful disguise and fair show of goodness; but on searching thoroughly, he found very few truly upright. As he says, Prov. xx. 6. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” So that it is exceeding plain, that by uprightness, in this place, (Eccles. vii.) Solomon means true moral goodness.
What our author urges concerning many inventions, whereas Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit was but one invention, is of as little weight as the rest of what he says on this text. For the many lusts and corruptions of man kind, appearing in innumerable ways of sinning, are all the consequence of that sin. The great corruption men are fallen into by the original apostacy, appears in the multitude of the wicked ways to which they are inclined. And therefore these are properly mentioned as the fruits and evidences of the greatness of that apostacy and corruption.
Concerning the kind of death, threatened to our first parents, if they should eat of the forbidden fruit.
Dr. T. in his observations on the three first chapters of Genesis says, (p. 7.) “The threatening to man in case of transgression was, that he should surely die.—Death is the losing of life. Death is opposed to life, and must be understood according to the nature of that life, to which it is opposed. Now the death here threatened can, with any certainty, be opposed only to the life God gave Adam, when he created him, ( ver. 7.) Any thing besides this must be pure conjecture, without solid foundation.”
To this I would say; it is true, Death it opposed to life, and must be understood according to the nature of that life, to which it is opposed. But does it therefore follow, that nothing can be meant by it but the loss of life? Misery is opposed to happiness, and sorrow is in Scripture often opposed to joy; but can we conclude from thence, that nothing is meant in Scripture by sorrow, but the loss of joy? or that there is no more in misery, than the loss or 181 absence of happiness? And if the death threatened to Adam can, with certainty, be opposed only to the life given to Adam, when God created him; I think, a state of perfect, perpetual, and hopeless misery is properly opposed to that state Adam was in, when God created him. For I suppose it will not be denied, that the life Adam had, was truly a happy life; happy in perfect innocency, in the favour of his Maker, surrounded with the happy fruits and testimonies of his love. And I think it has been proved, that he also was happy in a state of perfect righteousness. Nothing is more manifest, than that it is agreeable to a very common acceptation of the word life, in Scripture, that it be understood as signifying a state of excellent and happy existence. Now that which is most opposite to that life and state in which Adam was created, is a state of total, confirmed wickedness, and perfect hopeless misery, under the divine displeasure and curse; not excluding temporal death, or the destruction of the body, as an introduction to it.
Besides, that which is much more evident, than any thing Dr. T. says on this head, is, that the death which was to come on Adam, as the punishment of his disobedience, was opposed to that life, which he would have had as the reward of his obedience in case he had not sinned. Obedience and disobedience are contraries; the threatenings and promises which are sanctions of a law, are set in direct opposition; and the promises, rewards, and threatened punishments, are most properly taken as each others’ opposites. But none will deny, that the life which would have been Adam’s reward, if he had persisted in obedience, was eternal life. And therefore we argue justly that the death which stands opposed to that life, (Dr. T. himself being judge, p. 120. S.) is manifestly eternal death, a death widely different from the death we now die—to use his own words. If Adam, for his persevering obedience, was to have had everlasting life and happiness, in perfect holiness, union with his Maker, and enjoyment of his favour, and this was the life which was to be confirmed by the tree of life; then, doubtless, the death threatened in case of disobedience, which stands in direct opposition to this, was an exposure to everlasting wickedness and misery, in separation from God, and in enduring his wrath.
When God first made mankind, and made known to them the methods of his moral government towards them, in the revelation he made of himself to the natural head of the whole species—and letting him know, that obedience to him was expected, and enforcing his duty with the sanction of a threatened punishment, called by the name of death—we may with the greatest reason suppose, in such a case, that by death was meant the most proper punishment of the sin of mankind, and which he speaks of under that name throughout the Scripture, as the proper wages of sin; and this was always, from the beginning, understood to be so in the church of God. It would be strange indeed, if it should be otherwise. It would have been strange, if, when the law of God was first given, and enforced by the threatening of a punishment, nothing at all had been mentioned of that great punishment, ever spoken of under the name of death—in the revelations which he has given to mankind from age to age—as the proper punishment of the sin of mankind. And it would be no less strange, if when the punishment which was mentioned and threatened on that occasion, was called by the same name, even death, yet we must not understand it to mean the same thing, but something infinitely diverse, and infinitely more inconsiderable.
But now let us consider what that death is, which the Scripture ever speaks of as the proper wages of sin, and is spoken of as such by God’s saints in all ages of the church. I will begin with the New Testament. When the apostle Paul says, (Rom. vi. 23.) “The wages of sin is death,“ Dr. T. tells us, (p. 120. S.) that this means eternal death, the second death, a death widely different from the death we now die. The same apostle speaks of death as the proper punishment due for sin, Rom. vii. 5. and Rom. viii. 13. 2 Cor. iii. 7. 1 Cor. xv. 56. In all which places, Dr. T. himself supposes the apostle to intend eternal death. And when the apostle James speaks of death, as the proper reward, fruit, and end of sin, (James i. 15.) “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death;” it is manifest, that our author supposes eternal destruction to be meant. And the apostle John, agreeably to Dr. T.‘s sense, speaks of the second death as that which sin unrepented of will bring all men to at last. Rev. ii. 11. Rev. xx. 6, 14. Rev. xxi. 8. In the same sense the apostle John uses the word in his first epistle, 1 John iii. 14. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that hateth his brother, abideth in death.” In the same manner Christ used the word from time to time, when he was on earth, and spake concerning the punishment of sin. John v. 24. “He that heareth my word, and believeth, &c. hath everlasting life; and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.” Where, according to Dr. T.‘s own way of arguing, it cannot be the death which we now die, that Christ speaks of, but eternal death, because it is set in opposition to everlasting life. John vi. 50. “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.“ John viii. 51. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.“ John xi. 26.“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.“ In which places it is plain Christ does not mean that believers shall never see temporal death. (See also Matt. x. 28. and Luke x. 28.) In like manner, the word was commonly used by the prophets of old, when they spake of death as the proper end and recompence of sin. So, abundantly by the prophet Ezekiel. Ezek. iii. 18. “When I say unto the wicked man, thou shall surely die.“ In the original it is, Dying thou shalt die: the same form of expression, which God used in the threatening to Adam. We have the same words again, Ezek. xxxiii. 18.— In Ezek. xviii. 4. it is said, “The soul that sinneth it shall die. And that temporal death is not meant in these places is plain, because it is promised most absolutely, that the righteous shall not die the death spoken of. Ezek. xviii. 21.“He shall surely live, he shall not die.“ (So Ezek. xviii. 9, 17 ,19, and 22. and Ezek. iii. 21.) And it is evident the prophet Jeremiah uses the word in the same sense. Jer. xxxi. 30. “Every one shall die for his own iniquity.” And the same death is spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. Isa. xi. 4. “With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” (See also Isa. lxvi. 16. with Isa. lxvi. 24.) Solomon, who we must suppose was thoroughly acquainted with the sense in which the word was used by the wise, and by the ancients, continually speaks of death as the proper fruit, issue, and recompence of sin, using the world only in this sense. Prov. xi. 19.“As righteousness tendeth to life, so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death“ He cannot mean temporal death, for he often speaks of it as a punishment of the wicked, wherein the righteous shall certainly be distinguished from them: as in Prov. xii. 28.“In the way of righteousness is life, and in the path-way thereof is no death.“ (So in Prov. x. 2. Prov. xi. 4. Prov. xiii. 14. Prov. xiv. 27. and many other places.) But we find this same wise man observes, that as to temporal death, and temporal events in general, there is no distinction, but that they happen alike to good and bad. (Eccl. ii. 4-16. Eccl. viii. 14. and Eccl. ix. 2, 3.) His words are remarkable in Eccl. vii. 15. “There is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness; and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life, in his wickedness.” So we find, David in the book of Psalms uses the word death in the same sense, when he speaks of it as the proper wages and issue of sin, Psal. xxxiv. 21 “Evil shall slay the wicked.” He speaks of it as a certain thing, Psal. cxxxix. 19.“ Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God.” And he speaks of it as a thing wherein the wicked are distinguished from the righteous, Psal. lxix. 28.“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.”—And thus we find the word death used in the Pentateuch, where we have the account of the threatening of death to Adam. When, in these 182 books, it is spoken of as the proper fruit, and appointed reward of sin, it is to be understood of eternal death. Thus, Deut. xxx. 15. “See, I have set before thee this day life, and good, and death and evil.” Deut. xxx. 19. “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing.” The life that is spoken of here, is doubtless the same that is spoken of in Lev. xviii. 5 . “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them.” This the apostle understands of eternal life; as is plain by Rom. x. 5. and Gal. iii. 12. But that the death threatened for sin in thy law of Moses meant eternal death, is what Dr. T. abundantly declares. So in his note on. Rom. v. 20 (Par. p. 291.) ”Such a constitution the law of Moses was , subjecting those who were under it to death for every transgression: meaning by death eternal death.” These are his words. The like he asserts in many other places. When it is said, in the place now mentioned, I have set before thee life and death, blessing and cursing, without doubt, the same blessing and cursing is meant which God had already set before them with such solemnity, in the 27th and 28th chapters where we have the sum of the curses in those last words of the 27th chapter, Cursed is every one, which confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. Which the apostle speaks of as a threatening of eternal death; and with him Dr. T. himself: In this sense also Job and his friends spake of death, as the wages and end of sin, who lived before any written revelation, and had their religion, and their phraseology about religion, from the ancients.
If any should insist upon it as an objection—against supposing that death was intended to signify eternal death in the threatening to Adam—that this use of the word is figurative: I reply, that though this should be allowed, yet it is by no means so figurative as many other phrases used in the history contained in these three chapters: as when it is said, God said, Let there be light; God said, let there be firmament, &c. as though God spake such words with a voice. So when it is said, God called the light, day: God called the firmament, heaven, &c. God rested on the seventh day; as though he had been weary, and then rested. And when it is said, They heard the voice of God walking; as though the Deity had feet, and took steps on the ground. Dr. T. supposes, that when it is said of Adam and Eve, Their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked; by the word naked is meant a state of guilt. (P. 12.) Which sense of the word, naked, is much further from the common use of the word, than the supposed sense of the word death. So this author supposes the promise concerning the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head, while the serpent should bruise his heel, is to be understood of the Messiah destroying the power and sovereignty of the devil, and receiving some slight hurt from him. (P. 15, 16.) Which makes the sentence full of figures. And why might not God deliver threatenings to our first parents in figurative expressions, as well as promises?
But indeed, there is no necessity of supposing the word death, or the Hebrew word so translated, if used in the manner that has been supposed, to have been figurative at all. It does not appear but that this word, in its true and proper meaning, might signify perfect misery, and sensible destruction; though the word was also applied to signify something more external and visible. There are many words in our language, such as heart, sense, view, discovery, conception, light, and many others, which are applied to signify external things; as that muscular part of the body called heart; external feelings, called sense; the sight of the bodily eye, called view; the finding of a thing by its being uncovered, called discovery; the first beginning of the fœtus in the womb, called conception; and the rays of the sun, called light. Yet these words do as truly and properly signify other things of a more spiritual internal nature; such as the disposition, affection, perception, and thought of the mind, and manifestation and evidence to the soul. Common use, which governs the propriety of language, makes the latter things to be as much signified by those words, in their proper meaning, as the former. It is especially common in the Hebrew, and I suppose, other Oriental languages, that the same word that signifies something external, does no less properly and usually signify something more spiritual. So the Hebrew words used for breath, have such a double signification; (?NOT ENGLISH) Neshama signifies both breath and the soul; and the latter as commonly as the former: (NOT ENGLISH) Ruach is used for breath or wind, but yet more commonly signifies spirit. (NOT ENGLISH) Nephesh is used for breath, but yet more commonly signifies soul. So the word (NOT ENGLISH or NOT ENGLISH) Lébh, heart, no less properly signifies the soul, especially with regard to the will and affections, than that part of the body so called. The word (NOT ENGLISH) Shalom, which we render peace, no less properly signifies prosperity and happiness, than mutual agreement. The word translated life, signifies the natural life of the body, and also the perfect and happy state of sensible active being; and the latter as properly as the former. So the word death, signifies destruction, as to outward sensibility, activity, and enjoyment: but it has most evidently another signification, which in the Hebrew tongue is no less proper, viz. perfect, sensible, hopeless ruin and misery.
It is therefore wholly without reason urged, that death properly signifies only the loss of this present life; and that therefore nothing else was meant by that death which was threatened for eating the forbidden fruit. Nor does it at all appear but that Adam—who, from what God said concerning the seed of the woman, could understand that relief was promised as to the death which was threatened, as Dr. T. himself supposes—understood the death which was threatened, in the more important sense. Especially seeing temporal death, considered originally and in itself, is evermore, excepting as changed by divine grace, an entrance into that dismal state of misery which is shadowed forth by the awful circumstances of this death; circumstances naturally suggesting to the mind the most dreadful state of hopeless, sensible ruin.
As to the objection, that the phrase, Dying thou shalt die, is several times used in the books of Moses, to signify temporal death, it can be of no force. For it has been shown already, that the same phrase is sometimes used in Scripture to signify eternal death, in instances much more parallel with this. But indeed nothing can be certainly argued concerning the nature of the thing intended, from its being expressed in such a manner. For it is evident, that such repetitions of a word in the Hebrew language, are no more than an emphasis upon a word in the more modern languages, to signify the great degree of a thing, the importance or certainty of it, &c. When we would signify and impress these, we commonly put an emphasis on our words. Instead of this, the Hebrews, when they would express a thing strongly, repeated or doubled the word, the more to impress the mind of the hearer; as may be plain to every one in the least conversant with the Hebrew Bible. The repetition in the threatening to Adam, therefore, only implies the solemnity and importance of the threatening. But God may denounce either eternal or temporal death with peremptoriness and solemnity, and nothing can certainly be inferred concerning the nature of the thing threatened, because it is threatened with emphasis, more than this, that the threatening is much to be regarded. Though it be true, that it might in an especial manner be expected that a threatening of eternal death would be denounced with great emphasis, such a threatening being infinitely important, and to be regarded above all others.
Wherein it is inquired, whether there be any thing in the history of the three first chapters of Genesis, which should lead us to suppose, that God, in his constitution with Adam, dealt with mankind in general, as included in their first father, and that the threatening of death, in case he should eat the forbidden fruit, had respect not only to him, but his posterity?
Dr. T. rehearsing that threatening to Adam, Thou shalt surely die, and giving us his paraphrase of it, (p. 7, 8.) 183 concludes thus; “Observe, here is not one word relating to Adam’s posterity.” But it may be observed, in opposition to this, that there is scarcely one word that we have an account of, which God ever said to Adam or Eve, but what does manifestly include their posterity in the meaning and design of it. There is as much of a word said about Adam’s posterity in that threatening, as there is in those words of God to Adam and Eve, Gen. i. 28. “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it;” and as much in events, to lead us to suppose Adam’s posterity to be included. There is as much a word of his posterity in that threatening, as in those words, (Gen. i. 29.) “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed,—and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed,” &c. Even when God was about to create Adam, what he said on that occasion, had not respect only to Adam, but to his posterity. Gen. i. 26. “Let us make man in our image, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,” &c. And, what is more remarkable, there is as much of a word said about Adam’s posterity in the threatening of death, as there is in that sentence (Gen. iii. 19.) “Unto dust shalt thou return.” Which Dr. T. himself supposes to be a sentence pronounced for the execution of that very threatening, Thou shalt surely die. This sentence he himself also often speaks of as including Adam’s posterity: and, what is much more remarkable still, is a sentence which Dr. T. himself often speaks of, as including his posterity, as a sentence of condemnation, as a judicial sentence, and a sentence which God pronounced with regard to Adam’s posterity, acting the part of a judge, and as such condemning them to temporal death.—Though he is therein utterly inconsistent with himself, inasmuch as he at the same time abundantly insists, that death is not brought on Adam’s posterity in consequence of his sin, at all as a punishment; but merely by the gracious disposal of a father, bestowing a benefit of the highest nature upon him.
But I shall show, that I do not in any of these things falsely charge or misrepresent Dr. T.—He speaks of the sentence in Gen. iii. 19. as pronounced in pursuance of the threatening in the former chapter, in these words, (p. 17, 18) “The sentence upon the man, ver. 17, 18, 19. first affects the earth, upon which he is to subsist: the ground should be encumbered with many noxious weeds, and the tillage of it more toilsome: which would oblige the man to procure a sustenance by hard labour, till he should die, and drop into the ground, from whence he was taken. Thus death entered by sin into the world, and man became mortal, according to the threatening in the former chapter.” Now, if mankind became mortal, and must die, according to the threatening in the former chapter, then doubtless the threatening in the former chapter, Thou shalt die, had respect not only to Adam, but to mankind, and included Adam’s posterity. Yea, and Dr. T. is express in it, and very often so, that the sentence concerning dropping into the ground, or returning to the dust, did include Adam’s posterity. So, p. 20. speaking there of that sentence, “Observe (says he) that we their posterity are in fact subjected to the same affliction and mortality, here by sentence inflicted on our first parents.”—P. 42. Note. “But yet men through that long tract, were all subject to death, therefore they must be included in the sentence.” The same he affirms in innumerable other places, some of which I shall have occasion to mention presently.
The sentence which is founded on the threatening, and (as Dr. T. says) according to the threatening, extends to as many as were included in the threatening, and to no more. If the sentence be upon a collective subject, indefinitely, the greatest part of which were not included in the threatening, nor were ever threatened at all, then certainly this sentence is not according to the threatening, nor built upon it. If the sentence be according to the threatening, then we may justly explain the threatening by sentence. And if we find the sentence spoken to the same person whom the threatening was spoken, and spoken in the second person singular in like manner with the threatening, founded on the threatening, and according to it; and if we find the sentence includes Adam’s posterity, then we may certainly infer, that so did the threatening. And hence, that both the threatening and the sentence were delivered to Adam as the public head and representative of his posterity.
And we may also further infer from it, in another respect, directly contrary to Dr. T.‘s doctrine, that the sentence which included Adam’s posterity, was to death, as a punishment to that posterity, as well as to Adam himself. For a sentence pronounced in execution of a threatening, is for punishment. Threatenings are of punishments. Neither God nor man are wont to threaten others with favours and benefits.
But lest any of this author’s admirers should stand to it, that it may very properly be said, God threatened mankind with bestowing great kindness upon them, I would observe, that Dr. T. himself often speaks of this sentence as pronounced by God on all mankind, as condemning them; as a sentence of condemnation judicially pronounced, or a sentence which God pronounced on all mankind acting as their judge, and in a judicial proceeding. This he affirms in multitudes of places. In p. 20. speaking of this sentence, which he there says, subjects us, Adam’s and Eve’s posterity, to affliction and mortality, he calls it a judicial act of condemnation. “The judicial act of condemnation (says he) clearly implies, a taking him to pieces, and turning him to the ground from whence he was taken.” And (p. 28, 29. Note.) “In all the Scripture from one end to the other, there is recorded but one judgment to condemnation, which came upon all men, and that is Gen. iii. 17-19. Dust thou art, ” &c. P. 40. speaking of the same, he says, ”All men are brought under condemnation.” In p. 27, 28. “By judgment, judgment to condemnation, it appeareth evidently to me, he (Paul) means the being adjudged to the forementioned death; he means the sentence of death, of a general mortality, pronounced upon mankind, in consequence of Adam’s first transgression. And the condemnation inflicted by the judgment of God, answereth to, and is in effect the same thing with, being dead.” P. 30. “The many, that is mankind, were subject to death by the judicial act of God.” P. 31. ” Being made sinners, may very well signify, being adjudged, or condemned to death.—For the Hebrew word, &c. signifies to make one a sinner by a judicial sentence, or to condemn.“—P. 178. Par. on Rom. v. 19. “Upon the account of one man’s disobedience, mankind were judicially constituted sinners; that is, subjected to death, by the sentence of God the Judge.“—And there are many other places where he repeats the same thing. And it is pretty remarkable, that (page 48, 49.) immediately after citing Prov. xvii. 15. “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, are both an abomination to the Lord”—and when he is careful in citing these words, to put us in mind, that it is meant of a judicial act—yet, in the very next words, he supposes that God himself does so, since he constantly supposes that Adam’s posterity, whom God condemns, are innocent. His words are these, “From all this it followeth, that as the judgment, that passed upon all men to condemnation, is death’s coming upon all men, by the judicial act of God, upon the occasion of Adam’s transgression: so,” &c.—And it is very remarkable that (p. 3, 4, 7. S.) he insists, “That in Scripture no action is said to be imputed, reckoned, or accounted to any person for righteousness or condemnation, but the proper act and deed of that person.”—And yet he thus continually affirms, that all mankind are made sinners by a judicial act of God the Judge, even to condemnation, and judicially constituted sinners, and so subjected to a judicial sentence of condemnation, on occasion of Adam’s sin; and all according to the threatening denounced to Adam, “Thou shalt surely die:” though he supposes Adam’s posterity were not included in the threatening, and are looked upon as perfectly innoncent, and treated wholly as such.
I am sensible Dr. T. does not run into all this inconsistence, only through oversight and blundering; but that he is driven to it, to make out his matters in his evasion of that noted paragraph in the fifth chapter of Romans; especially those three sentences; (Rom. v. 16.) “The judgment was by one to condemnation.” (Rom. v. 18.) “By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation;” and (Rom. v. 19.) “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” 184 And I am also sensible of what he offers to salve the inconvenience, viz. “That if the threatening had immediately been executed on Adam, he would have had no posterity; and that so far the possible existence of Adam’s posterity fell under the threatening of the law, and into the hands of the judge, to be disposed of as he should think fit: and that this is the ground of the judgment to condemnation, coming upon all men.” But this is trifling, to a great degree: for,
1. Suffering death, and failing of possible existence, are entirely different things. If there had never been any such thing as sin committed, there would have been infinite numbers of possible beings, which would have failed of existence, by God’s appointment. God has appointed (if the phrase be allowable) not to bring into existence numberless possible worlds, each replenished with innumerable possible inhabitants. But is this equivalent to God’s appointing them all to suffer death?
2. Our author represents, that by Adam’s sin, the possible existence of his posterity fell into the hands of the Judge, to be disposed of as he should think fit. But there was no need of any sin of Adam, or of any body else, in order to their being brought into God’s hands, in this respect. The future possible existence of all created beings is in God’s hands, antecedently to the existence of any sin. And therefore, infinite numbers of possible beings, without any relation to Adam, or any other sinning being, fail of their possible existence. And if Adam had never sinned, yet it would be unreasonable to suppose, but that innumerable multitudes of his possible posterity would have failed of existence by God’s disposal. For will any be so unreasonable as to imagine, that God would and must have brought into existence as many of his posterity as it was possible should be, if he had not sinned? Or, that then it would not have been possible, that any other persons of his posterity should ever have existed, than those individual persons who now actually suffer death, and return to the dust?
3. We have many accounts in Scripture, which imply the actual failing of the possible existence of innumerable multitudes of Adam’s posterity, yea, of many more than ever come into existence. As, of the possible posterity of Abel, the possible posterity of all them that were destroyed by the flood, and the possible posterity of the innumerable multitudes, which we read of in Scripture, destroyed by sword, pestilence, &c. And if the threatening to Adam reached his posterity, in no other respect than this, that they were liable to be deprived by it of their possible existence, then these instances are much more property a fulfilment of that threatening, than the suffering of death by such as actually come into existence; and so is that which is most properly the judgment to condemnation, executed by the sentence of the Judge, proceeding on ground of that threatening. But where do we ever find this so represented in Scripture? We read of multitudes cut off for their personal sins, who thereby failed of their possible posterity. And these are mentioned as God’s judgments on them, and effects of God’s condemnation of them: but when are they ever spoken of as God judicially proceeding against, and condemning their possible posterity?
4. Dr. T. in what he says concerning this matter, speaks of the threatening of the law delivered to Adam, which the possible existence of his posterity fell under, as the ground of the judgment to condemnation coming upon all men. But herein he is exceeding inconsistent with himself: for he affirms in a place forecited, that the Scripture never speaks of any sentence of condemnation coming upon all men, but that sentence in the third of Genesis, concerning man turning to dust. But, according to him, the threatening of the law delivered to Adam, could not be the ground of that sentence; for he greatly insists upon it, that that law was entirely abrogated before that sentence was pronounced, had no existence to have any such influence as might procure a sentence of death; and therefore this sentence was introduced entirely on another footing, a new dispensation of grace. The reader may see this matter strenuously urged, and particularly argued by him, p. 113—120. S. So that this sentence could not, according to him, have the threatening of that law for its ground, as he supposes; for it never stood upon that ground. It could not be called a judgment of condemnation, under any such view; for it could not be viewed in circumstances where it never existed.
5. If, as our author supposes, that the sentence of death on all men comes under the notion of a judgment to condemnation by this means, viz. that the threatening to Adam was in some respect the ground of it; then it also comes under the notion of a punishment: for threatenings annexed to breaches of laws, are to punishments; and a judgment of condemnation to the thing threatened, must be to punishment; and the thing condemned to, must have as much the notion of a punishment, as the sentence has the notion of a judgment to condemnation. But this Dr. T. wholly denies: he denies that death comes as any punishment at all; but insists that it comes only as a favour and benefit, and a fruit of fatherly love to Adam’s posterity, respected not as guilty, but wholly innocent. So that his scheme will not admit of its coming under the notion of a sentence to condemnation in any respect whatsoever. Our author’s supposition, that the possible existence of Adam’s posterity comes under the threatening of the law, and into the hands of the Judge, and is the ground of the condemnation of all men to death, implies, that death by this sentence is appointed to mankind as an evil, at least negatively so; as it is a privation of good: for he manifestly speaks of a non-existence as a negative evil. But herein he is inconsistent with himself: for he continually insists, that mankind are subjected to death only as a benefit, as has been before shown. According to him, death is not appointed to mankind, as a negative evil, as any cessation of existence, or even diminution of good; but on the contrary, as a means of a more happy existence, and a great increase of good.
So that this evasion of Dr. T. is so far from helping the matter, that it increases and multiplies the inconsistence. And that the law, with the threatening of death annexed, was given to Adam, as the head of mankind, and to his posterity as included in him, not only follow from some of our author’s own assertions—and the plain, full declarations of the apostle in the fifth of Romans, which drove Dr. T. into such gross inconsistencies—but the account given in the three first chapters of Genesis, directly and inevitably lead us to such a conclusion.
Though the sentence, Gen. iii. 19.“Unto dust thou shalt return,” be not of equal extent with the threatening in the foregoing chapter, or an execution of the main curse of the law therein denounced—for, that it should have been so, would have been inconsistent with the intimations of mercy just before given—yet it is plain, this sentence is in pursuance of that threatening, being to something that was included in it. The words of the sentence were delivered to the same person with the words of the threatening, and in the same manner, in like singular terms, and as much without any express mention of his posterity. Yet it manifestly appears by the consequence, as well as all circumstances, that his posterity were included in the words of the sentence; as is confessed on all hands. And as the words were apparently delivered in the form of the sentence of a judge, condemning for something that he was displeased with, and ought to be condemned, viz. sin; and as the sentence to him and his posterity was but one, dooming to the same suffering, under the same circumstances, both the one and the other sentenced in the same words, spoken but once, and immediately to but one person, we hence justly infer, that it was the same thing to both; and not as Dr. T. suggests, (p. 67.) a sentence to a proper punishment to Adam, but a mere promise of favour to his posterity.
Indeed, sometimes our author seems to suppose, that God meant the thing denounced in this sentence, as a favour both to Adam and his posterity. But to his posterity, or mankind in general, who are the main subject, he ever insists, that it was purely intended as a favour. And therefore, one would have thought, the sentence should have been delivered, with manifestations and appearances 185 of favour, and not of anger. How could Adam understand it as a promise of great favour, considering the manner and circumstances of the denunciation? How could he think, that God would go about to delude him, by clothing himself with garments of vengeance, using words of displeasure and rebuke, setting forth the heinousness of his crime, attended with cherubim and a flaming sword; when all that he meant was only higher testimonies of favour than he had before in a state of innocence, and to manifest fatherly love and kindness, in promises of great blessings? If this was the case, God’s words to Adam must be understood thus: “Because thou hast done so wickedly, 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; therefore I will be more kind to thee than I was in thy state of innocence, and do now appoint for thee the following great favours; Cursed be the ground for thy sake,“ &c. And thus Adam must understand what was said, unless any will say, (and God forbid that any should be so blasphemous,) that God clothed himself with appearances of displeasure, to deceive Adam, and make him believe the contrary of what he intended, and lead him to expect a dismal train of evils on his posterity, contrary to all reason and justice, implying the most horribly unrighteous treatment of millions of perfectly innocent creatures. It is certain, there is not the least appearance in what God said, or the manner of it, as Moses gives us the account, of any other, than that God was now testifying displeasure, condemning the subject of the sentence he was pronouncing, as justly exposed to punishment for sin, and for that sin which he mentions.
When God was pronouncing this sentence, Adam doubtless understood, that God had respect to his posterity, as well as himself; though God spake wholly in the second person singular, Because thou hast eaten,—In sorrow thou shalt eat,—Unto the dust shalt thou return. But he had as much reason to understand God as having respect to his posterity, when he directed his speech to him in like manner in the threatening, Thou shalt surely die. The sentence plainly refers to the threatening, and results from it. The threatening says, If thou eat, thou shalt die: the sentence says, Because thou hast eaten thou shalt die. And Moses, who wrote the account, had no reason to doubt but that the affair would be thus understood by his readers; for such a way of speaking was well understood in those days: the history he gives us of the origin of things, abounds with it. Such a manner of speaking to the heads of the race, having respect to the progeny, is not only used in almost every thing that God said to Adam and Eve, but even in what he said to the very birds and fishes, Gen. i. 22. And also in what he said afterwards to Noah, Gen. ix. to Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Canaan, Gen. ix. 25-27. So in promises made to Abraham, God directed his speech to him, and spake in the second person singular, from time to time, but meant chiefly his posterity: To thee will I give this land. In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed, &c. &c. And in what is said of Ishmael, as of his person, but meant chiefly of his posterity, Gen. xvi. 12. and Gen. xvii. 20. Thus in what Isaac said to Esau and Jacob, in his blessing he spake to them in the second person singular; but meant chiefly their posterity. And so for the most part in the promises made to Isaac and Jacob; and in Jacob blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, and his twelve sons.
But I shall take notice of one or two things further, showing that Adam’s posterity were included in God’s establishment with him, and the threatening denounced for his sin; and that the calamities which come upon them in consequence of his sin, are brought on them as punishments.
This is evident from the curse on the ground; which if it be any curse at all, comes equally on Adam’s posterity with himself. And if it be a curse, then against whomsoever it is designed, and on whomsoever it terminates, it comes as a punishment, and not as a blessing, so far as it comes in consequence of that sentence.
Dr. T. (p. 19.) says, “A curse is pronounced upon the ground, but no curse upon the woman and the man.” And (p. 45, 46. S.) he insists, that the ground only was cursed, and not the man: as though a curse could terminate on lifeless, senseless earth! To understand this curse otherwise than as terminating upon man through the ground, would be as senseless as to suppose the meaning to be, The ground shall be punished and shall be miserable for thy sake. Our author interprets the curse on the ground, of its being encumbered with noxious weeds: but would these weeds have been any curse on the ground, if there had been no inhabitants, or if the inhabitants had been of such a nature, that these weeds should not have been noxious, but useful to them? It is said, Deut. xxviii. 17.“Cursed shall be thy basket, and thy store:” and would he not be thought to talk very ridiculously, who should say, “Here is a curse upon the basket; but not a word of any curse upon the owner: and therefore we have no reason at all to look upon it as any punishment upon him, or any testimony of God’s displeasure towards him.” How plain is it, that when lifeless things, not capable either of benefit or suffering, are said to be cursed or blessed with regard to sensible beings—who use or possess these things, or have connexion with them—the meaning must be, that these sensible beings are cursed or blessed in the other, or with respect to them! In Exod. xxiii. 25. it is said, “He shall bless thy bread and thy water.” And I suppose, never any body yet proceeded to such a degree of subtilty in distinguishing, as to say, “Here is a blessing on the bread and the water, which went into the possessor’s mouth, but no blessing on him.” To make such a distinction, with regard to the curse God pronounced on the ground, would in some respects be more unreasonable; because God is express in explaining the matter, declaring that it was for man’s sake, expressly referring this curse to him, as being for the sake of his guilt; and as consisting in the sorrow and suffering he should have from it: “In sorrow shalt thou eat of it.—Thorns and thistles shalt it bring forth to thee.“ So that God’s own words tell us where the curse terminates. The words are parallel with those in Deut. xxviii. 16. but only more plain and explicit, “Cursed shalt thou be in the field, or in the ground.”
If this part of the sentence was pronounced under no notion of any curse or punishment at all upon mankind, but, on the contrary, as making an alteration for the better, as to them—that instead of the sweet, but tempting, pernicious fruit of paradise, it might produce wholesome fruits, more for the health of the soul; that it might bring forth thorns and thistles, as excellent medicines, to prevent or cure moral distempers, diseases which would issue in eternal death—then it was a blessing on the ground, and not a curse; and it might more properly have been said, “blessed shall the ground be for thy sake.—I will make a happy change in it, that it may be a habitation more fit for a creature so infirm, and so apt to be overcome with temptation, as thou art.”
The event makes it evident, that in pronouncing this curse, God had as much respect to Adam’s posterity, as to himself. And so it was understood by his pious posterity before the flood; as appears by what Lamech, the father of Noah, says, Gen. v. 29. “And he called his name Noah; saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work, and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed,“
Another thing which argues, that Adam’s posterity were included in the threatening of death—and that our first parents understood, when fallen, that the tempter, in persuading them to eat the forbidden fruit, had aimed at the punishment and ruin of both them and their posterity, and had procured it—is Adam immediately giving his wife that new name, Eve or Life, on the promise or intimation of the disappointment and overthrow of the tempter in that matter, by her seed. This Adam understood to be by his procuring life; not only for themselves, but for many of their posterity; and thereby delivering them from that death and ruin which the serpent had brought upon them. Those that should be thus delivered, and obtain life, Adam calls the living. And because he observed, by what God had said, that deliverance, or life, was to be by the seed of the woman, he therefore remarks, that she is the mother of all living, and thereupon gives her a new name, hwx LIFE . Gen. iii. 20.
There is a great deal of evidence, that this is the occasion of Adam giving his wife her new name. This was her new honour, and the greatest honour, at least in her present 186 state, that the Redeemer was to be of her seed. New names were wont to be given for something that was the person’s peculiar honour. So it was with regard to the new names of Abraham, Sarah, and Israel. Dr. T. himself observes, that they who are saved by Christ, are called, (NOT ENGLISH). 2 Cor. iv. 11.) the living or they that live. Thus we find in the Old Testament, the righteous are called by the name of the living, Psal. lxix. 28.“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” If what Adam meant by her being the mother of all living, was only her being the mother of mankind; and gave her the name life upon that account; it were much the most likely that he would have given her this name at first; when God first united them, under that blessing, be fruitful and multiply, and when he had a prospect of her being the mother of mankind in a state of immortality, living indeed, living and never dying. But that Adam should at that time give her only the name of (NOT ENGLISH) Isha, and then immediately on that melancholy change, by their coming under the sentence of death, with all their posterity—having now a new awful prospect of her being the mother of nothing but a dying race, all from generation to generation turning to dust, through her folly—he should change her name into life, calling her now the mother of all living, is (on that supposition) perfectly unaccountable. Besides, it is manifest, that it was not her being the mother of all mankind—or her relation, as a mother, to her posterity—but the quality of those of whom she was to be the mother, Adam had in view, in giving his wife this new name; as appears by the name itself, which signifies life. And if it had been only a natural and mortal life he had in view, this was nothing to distinguish her posterity from the brutes; for the very same name of living ones, or living things, is given from time to time to them. Besides, if by life the quality of her posterity was not meant, there was nothing in it to distinguish her from Adam; for thus she was no more the mother of all living, than he was the father of all living; and she could no more properly be called by the name of life on any such account, than he: but names are given for distinction. Doubtless Adam took notice of something distinguishing concerning her, that occasioned his giving her this new name. And I think it is exceeding natural to suppose, that as Adam had given her the first name from the manner of her creation, so he gave her the new name from redemption, and as it were new creation, through a Redeemer, of her seed. And, it is equally probable, that he should give her this name from that which comforted him, with respect to the curse that God had pronounced on him and the earth, as Lamech named Noah, Gen. v. 29.“Saying, this same shall comfort us concerning our work, and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” Accordingly he gave her this new name, not at her first creation, but immediately after the promise of a Redeemer. (See Gen. iii. 15-20.)
Now, as to the consequence which I infer from Adam giving his wife this name, on the intimation which God had given—that Satan should by her seed be overthrown and disappointed, as to his malicious design in tempting the woman—it is, that great numbers of mankind should be saved, whom he calls the living; they should be saved from the effects of this malicious design of the old serpent, and from that ruin which he had brought upon them by tempting their first parents to sin; and so the serpent would be, with respect to them, disappointed and overthrown in his design. But how is any death, or indeed any calamity at all, brought upon their posterity by Satan’s malice in that temptation, if instead of that, all the consequent death and sorrow was the fruit of God’s fatherly love? an instance of his free and sovereign favour? And if multitudes of Eve’s posterity are saved from either spiritual or temporal death, by a Redeemer, one of her seed, how is that any disappointment of Satan’s design, in tempting our first parents? How came he to have any such thing in view, as the death of Adam’s and Eve’s posterity, by tempting them to sin, or any expectation that their death would be the consequence, unless he knew that they were included in the threatening?
Some have objected, against his posterity being included in the threatening delivered to Adam, that the threatening itself was inconsistent with his having any posterity: it being that he should die on the day that he sinned. To this I answer, that the threatening was not inconsistent with his having posterity, on two accounts:
I. Those words, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, according to the use of such like expressions among the Hebrews, do not signify immediate death, or that the execution shall be within twenty-four hours from the commission of the fact; nor did God by those words limit himself as to the time of executing the threatened punishment; but that was still left to God’s pleasure. Such a phrase, according to the idiom of the Hebrew tongue, signifies no more than these two things:
1. A real connexion between the sin and the punishment. So Ezek. xxxiii. 12, 13.“The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression. As for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness: neither shall the righteous be able to live in the day that he sinneth: but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.” Here it is said, that in the day he sinneth, he shall not be able to live, but he shall die; not signifying the time when death shall be executed upon him, but the connexion between his sin and death; such a connexion as in our present common use of language is signified by the adverb of time, when; as if one should say, “According to the laws of our nation, so long as a man behaves himself as a good subject, he may live; but when he turns rebel, he must die:” not signifying the hour, day, or month, in which he must be executed, but only the connexion between his crime and death.
2. Another thing which seems to be signified by such an expression, is, that Adam should be exposed to death by one transgression, without waiting to try him the second time. If he eat of that tree, he should immediately fall under condemnation, though afterwards he might abstain ever so strictly. In this respect the words are much of the same force with those words of Solomon to Shimei; 1 Kings ii. 37. “For it shall be that on the day that thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain, that thou shalt surely die“ Not meaning, that he should certainly be executed on that day, but that he should be assuredly liable to death for the first offence, and that he should not have another trial to see whether he would go over the brook Kidron a second time.—Besides,
II. If the words had implied, that Adam should die that very day (within twenty-four or twelve hours) or that moment in which he transgressed, yet it will by no means follow, that God obliged himself to execute the punishment in its utmost extent on that day. The sentence was in great part executed immediately; he then dies spiritually; he lost his innocence and original righteousness, and the favour of God; a dismal alteration was made in his soul, by the loss of that holy divine principle, which was in the highest sense the life of the soul. In this he was truly ruined and undone that very day; becoming corrupt, miserable, and helpless. And I think it has been shown, that such a spiritual death was one great thing implied in the threatening. And the alteration then made in his body and external state, was the beginning of temporal death. Grievous external calamity is called by the name of death in Scripture, Exod x. 17.—“Entreat the Lord that he may take away this death.” Not only was Adam’s soul ruined that day, but his body was ruined; it lost its beauty and vigour, and became a poor, dull, decaying, dying thing.
And besides all this, Adam was that day undone in a more dreadful sense; he immediately fell under the curse of the law, and condemnation to eternal perdition. In the language of Scripture, he is dead, that is, in a state of condemnation to death; even as our author often explains this language in his exposition upon Romans. In scripture language, he that believes in Christ, immediately receives life. He passes at that time from death to life, and thenceforward (to use the apostle John’s phrase) “has 187 eternal life abiding in him.” But yet, he does not then receive eternal life in its highest completion; he has but the beginning of it; and receives it in a vastly greater degree at death. The proper time for the complete fulness, is not till the day of Judgment. When the angels sinned, their punishment was immediately executed in a degree; but their full punishment is not till the end of the world. And there is nothing in God’s threatening to Adam that bound him to execute his full punishment at once; nor any thing which determines, that he should have no posterity. The constitution which God established and declared, determined, that IF he sinned, and had posterity, he and they should die. But there was no constitution determining the actual being of his posterity in this case; what posterity he should have, how many, or whether any at all. All these things God had reserved in his own power; the law and its sanction intermeddled not with the matter.
It may be proper in this place also to take some notice of that objection of Dr. T. against Adam being supposed to be a federal head for his posterity, that it gives him greater honour than Christ, as it supposes that all his posterity would have had eternal life by his obedience, if he had stood; and so a greater number would have had the benefit of his obedience, than are saved by Christ. —I think, a very little consideration is sufficient to show, that there is no weight in this objection. For the benefit of Christ’s merit may nevertheless be vastly beyond that which would have been by the obedience of Adam. For those that are saved by Christ, are not merely advanced to happiness by his merits, but saved from the infinitely dreadful effects of Adam’s sin, and many from immense guilt, pollution, and misery, by personal sins. They are also brought to a holy and happy state through infinite obstacles; and exalted to a far greater degree of dignity, felicity, and glory, than would have been due for Adam’s obedience; for aught I know, many thousand times so great. And there is enough in the gospel-dispensation, clearly to manifest the sufficiency of Christ’s merits for such effects in all mankind. And how great the number will be, that shall actually be the subjects of them, or how great a proportion of the whole race, considering the vast success of the gospel that shall be in that future, extraordinary, and glorious season, often spoken of, none can tell. And the honour of these two federal heads arises not so much from what was proposed to each for his trial, as from their success, and the good actually obtained; and also the manner of obtaining. Christ obtains the benefits men have through him by proper merit of condignity, and a true purchase by an equivalent; which would not have been the case with Adam if he had obeyed.
I have now particularly considered the account which Moses gives us, in the beginning of the Bible, of our first parents, and God’s dealings with them; the constitution he established with them, their transgression, and what followed. And on the whole, if we consider the manner in which God apparently speaks to Adam from time to time; and particularly, if we consider how plainly and undeniably his posterity are included in the sentence of death pronounced on him after his fall, founded on the foregoing threatening; and consider the curse denounced on the ground for his sake, for his sorrow, and that of his posterity; and also consider, what is evidently the occasion of his giving his wife the new name of Eve, and his meaning in it—and withal consider apparent fact in constant and universal events, with relation to the state of our first parents and their posterity from that time forward, through all ages of the world—I cannot but think, it must appear to every impartial person, that Moses’s account does, with sufficient evidence, lead all mankind, to whom his account is communicated, to understand, that God, in his constitution with Adam, dealt with him as a public person—as the head of the human species—and had respect to his posterity, as included in him. And it must appear, that this history is given by divine direction, in the beginning of the first written revelation, in order to exhibit to our view the origin of the present sinful, miserable state of mankind, that we might see what that was, which first gave occasion for all those consequent wonderful dispensations of divine mercy and grace towards mankind, which are the great subject of the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament; and that these things are not obscurely and doubtfully pointed forth, but delivered in a plain account of things, which easily and naturally exhibits them to our understandings.
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