CONTAINING OBSERVATIONS ON PARTICULAR PARTS OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURE, WHICH PROVE THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
OBSERVATIONS ON OTHER PARTS OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, CHIEFLY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, THAT PROVE THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
ORIGINAL depravity may well be argued, from wickedness being often spoken of in Scripture, as a thing belonging to the race of mankind, and as if it were a property of the species. So in Psa. 14:2, 3, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good; no, not one.” The like we have again, Psa. 53:2, 3. — Dr. T. says (p. 104, 105), “The Holy Spirit does not mean this of every individual; because in the very same psalm, he speaks of some that were righteous, verse 5. God is in the generation of the righteous.” But how little is this observation to the purpose? For who ever supposed, that no unrighteous men were ever changed by divine grace, and afterwards made righteous? The psalmist is speaking of what men are as they are the children of men, born of the corrupt human race; and not as born of God, whereby they come to be the children of God, and of the generation of the righteous. The apostle Paul cites this place in Rom. 3:10-12 to prove the universal corruption of mankind; but yet in the same chapter he supposes the same persons spoken of as wicked, may become righteous, through the righteousness and grace of God.
Wickedness is spoken of in other places in the book of Psalms, as a thing that belongs to men, as of the human race, as sons of men. Thus, in Psa. 4:2, “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity?” etc. Psa. 57:4, “I lie among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.” Psa. 58:1, 2, “Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weight out the violence of your hands in the earth.” Our author mentioning these places, says (p. 105. note), “There was a strong party in Israel disaffected to David’s person and government, and sometimes he chooseth to denote them by the sons or children of men.” But it would have been worth his while to have inquired, Why the psalmist should choose to denote the worst men in Israel by this name? Why he should choose thus to disgrace mankind, as if he compellation of sons of men most properly belonged to such as were of the vilest character, and as if all the sons of men, even every one of them, were of such a character, and none of them did good; no, not one? Is it not strange, that the righteous should not be thought worthy to be called sons of men, and ranked with that noble race of beings, who are born into the world wholly right and innocent? It is a good, easy, and natural reason, why he chooseth to call the wicked, sons of men, as a proper name for them, That by being of the sons of men, or of the corrupt, ruined race of mankind, they come by their depravity. And the psalmist himself leads us to this very reason, Psa. 58, “Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? yea, in heart ye work wickedness ye weigh out the violence of your hands. The wicked are estranged from the womb,” etc. Of which I shall speak more by and by.
Agreeable to these places is Pro. 21:8, “The way of man is froward and strange; but as for the pure, his work is right.” He that is perverse in his walk, is here called by the name of man, as distinguished from the pure: which I think is absolutely unaccountable, if all mankind by nature are pure, and perfectly innocent, and all such as are froward and strange in their ways, therein depart from the native purity of all mankind. The words naturally lead us to suppose the contrary; that depravity and perverseness properly belong to mankind as they are naturally, and that a being made pure, is by an after-work, by which some are delivered from native pollution, and distinguished from mankind in general: which is perfectly agreeable to the representation in Rev. 14:4, where we have an account of a number that were not defiled, but were pure, and followed the Lamb; of whom it is said, “These were redeemed from among men.”
To these things agree Jer. 17:5, 9. In verse 5, it is said, “Cursed is he that trusteth in man.” And in verse 9, this reason is given, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” What heart is this so wicked and deceitful? Why, evidently the heart of him, who, it was said before, we must not trust; and that is MAN. It alters not the case as to the present argument, whether the deceitfulness of the heart here spoken of, be its deceitfulness to the man himself, or to others. So Ecc. 9:3, “Madness is in the heart of the sons of men, while they live.” And those words of Christ of Peter, Mat. 16:23, “Get thee behind me, Satan — for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. Signifying plainly that to be carnal and vain, and opposite to what is spiritual and divine, is what properly belongs to men in their present state. The same thing is supposed in that of the apostle, 1 Cor. 3:3, “For ye are yet carnal. For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” And that in Hos. 6:7, “But they, like men, have transgressed the covenant.” To these places may be added Mat. 7:11, “If ye being evil, know how to give good gifts.” Jam. 4:5, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us, lusteth to envy?” — 1 Pet. 4:2, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” — Yet above all, that in Job 15:16, “How much more abominable and filthy is man, who drinketh iniquity like water?” Of which more presently.
Now what account can be given of these things, on Dr. T.’s scheme? How strange is it, that we should have such descriptions, all over the Bible, of MAN, and the SONS OF MEN! Why should man be so continually spoken of as evil, carnal, perverse, deceitful, and desperately wicked, if all men are by nature as perfectly innocent, and free from any propensity to evil, as Adam was the first moment of his creation, all made right, as our author would have us understand Ecc. 7:29? Why, on the contrary, is it not said, at least as often, and with equal reason, that the heart of man is right and pure; that the way of man is innocent and holy; and that he who savors true virtue and wisdom, savors the things that be of men? Yea, and why might it not as well have been said, the Lord looked down from heaven on the sons of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and did seek after God; and they were all right, altogether pure, there was none inclined to do wickedness, no, not one?
Of the like import with the texts mentioned are those which represent wickedness as what properly belongs to the WORLD; and that they who are otherwise, are saved from the world, and called out of it. As John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth; because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” Chap. 8:23, “Ye are of this world: I am not of this world.” John 14:17, “The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive; because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him.” Chap. 15:18, 19, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Rev. 14:3, 4, “These are they which were redeemed for the earth, — redeemed from among men.” John 17:9, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” Verse 14, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” 1 John 3:13, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” Chap. 4:5, “They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” Chap. 5:19, “We are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” It is evident, that in these places, by the world is meant the world of mankind; not the habitation, by the inhabitants: for, it is the world spoken of as loving, hating, doing evil works, speaking, hearing, etc.
The same thing is shown, when wickedness is often spoken of as being man’s OWN, in contradistinction from virtue and holiness. So men’s lusts are often called their OWN hearts’ lusts, and their practicing wickedness is called walking in their OWN ways, walking in their OWN counsels, in the imagination of their OWN heart, and in the sight of their OWN eyes, according to their OWN devices, etc. These things denote wickedness to be a quality belonging properly to the character and nature of mankind in their present state: as, when Christ would represent that lying is remarkably the character and the very nature of the devil in his present state, he expresses it thus, John 8:44, “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
And that wickedness belongs to the very nature of men in their present state, may be argued from those places which speak of mankind as being wicked in their childhood, or from their childhood. So Pro. 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Nothing is more manifest, than that the wise man in this book continually uses the word folly, or foolishness, for wickedness; and that this is what he means in this place, the words themselves explain. For the rod of correction is proper to drive away no other foolishness, but that which is of a moral nature. The word rendered bound, signifies (as observed in Pool’s Synopsis) a close and firm union. The same word is used in Pro. 6:21, “Bind them continually upon thine heart.” And chap. 7:3, “Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” [To the like purpose in Pro. 3:3; and Deu. 11:18, where this word is used.] The same verb is used, 1 Sam. 18:1, “The soul of Jonathan was knit, or bound, to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” — But how comes wickedness to be so firmly bound, and strongly fixed, in the hearts of children, if it be not there naturally? They have had no time firmly to fix habits of sin, by long custom in actual wickedness, as those who have lived many years in the world.
The same thing is signified in that noted place, Gen. 8:21, “For the imagination of man’s heart is evil, from his youth.” It alters not the case, whether it be translated for or though the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, as Dr. T. would have it. The word translated youth, signifies the whole of the former part of the age of man, which commences from the beginning of life. The word in its derivation, has reference to the birth or beginning of existence. It comes from a [Hebrew] word [meaning] to shake off, as a tree shakes off its ripe fruit, or a plant its seed; the birth of children being commonly represented by a tree yielding fruit, or a plant yielding seed. So that the word here translated youth, comprehends not only what we in English most commonly call the time of youth, but also childhood and infancy, and is very often used to signify these latter. (A word of the same root is used to signify a young child, or a little child, in the following places; 1 Sam. 1:24, 25, 27; 1 Kin. 3:7, and 11:17; 2 Kin. 2:23; Job 33:25; Pro. 22:6; 23:13, and 29:21; Isa. 10:19; 11:6, and 65:20; Hos. 11:1. The same word is used to signify an infant, in Exo. 2:6, and 10:9; Jdg. 13:5, 7, 8, 24; 1 Sam. 1:22, and 4:21; 2 Kin. 5:14; Isa. 7:16, and 8:4.)
Dr. T. says (p. 124, note), that he “conceives, from the youth, is a phrase signifying the greatness or long duration of a thing.” But if by long duration he means anything else than what is literally expressed, viz. from the beginning of life, he has no reason to conceive so, neither has what he offers so much as the shadow of a reason for his conception. There is no appearance in the words of the two or three texts he mentions, of their meaning anything else than what is most literally signified. And it is certain, that what he suggests is not the ordinary import of such a phrase among the Hebrews; but that thereby is meant from the beginning, or the early time of life, or existence; as may be seen in the places following, where the same word in the Hebrew is used, as in the eighth of Genesis. 1 Sam. 12:2, “I am old and grey-headed — and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.” Psa. 71:5, 6, “Thou are my trust from my youth: by thee have I been holden up from the womb. Thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels.” Verse 17, 18, “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works: now also, when I am old and grey-headed, forsake me not.” Psa. 129:1, 2, “Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say: many a time have they afflicted me from my youth; yet have they not prevailed against me.” Isa. 47:12, “Stand now with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth” (So also Isa. 47:15). 2 Sam. 19:7, “That will be worse unto thee, than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.” Jer. 3:24, 25, “Shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers, from our youth. — We have sinned against the Lord our God from our youth, even to this day.” [So Gen. 46:34; Job 31:18; Jer. 32:30, and 48:11; Eze. 4:14; Zec. 13:5.]
And it is to be observed, that according to the manner of the Hebrew language, when it is said, such a thing has been from youth, or the first part of existence, the phrase is to be understood as including that first time of existence. So Jos. 6:21, “They utterly destroyed all, from the young to the old,” (so in the Hebrew), i.e. including both. (So Gen. 19:4, and Est. 3:13.)
And as mankind are represented in Scripture, as being of a wicked heart from their youth, so in other places they are spoken of as being thus from the womb. Psa. 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” It is observable, that the psalmist mentions this as what belongs to the wicked, as the SONS OF MEN: for, these are the preceding words; “Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness.” *12* Then it follows, the wicked are estranged FROM THE WOMB, etc. The next verse is, their poison is like the poison of a serpent. Serpents are poisonous as soon as they come into the world; they derive a poisonous nature by their generation. Dr. T. (p. 134, 135) says, “It is evident that this is a scriptural figurative way of aggravating wickedness on the one hand, and of signifying early and settled habits of virtue on the other, to speak of it as being from the womb.” And as a probable instance of the latter, he cites that in Isa. 49:1, “The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.” But I apprehend, that in order to seeing this to be either evident or probable, a man must have eyes peculiarly affected. I humbly conceive that such phrases as that in the 49th of Isaiah, of God’s calling the prophet from the womb, are evidently not of the import which he supposes; but mean truly from the beginning of existence, and are manifestly of like signification with that which is said of the prophet Jeremiah, Jer. 1:5, “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee: before thou camest out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Which surely means something else besides a high degree of virtue: it plainly signifies that he was, from his first existence, set apart by God for a prophet. And it would be as unreasonable to understand it otherwise, as to suppose the angel meant any other than that Samson was set apart to be a Nazarite from the beginning of his life, when he says to his mother, “Behold, thou shalt conceive and bear a son: and now drink no wine, nor strong drink, etc. For the child shall be a Nazarite to God, from the womb, to the day of his death.” By these instances it is plain, that the phrase, from the womb, as the other, from the youth as used in Scripture, properly signifies from the beginning of life.
Very remarkable is that place, Job 15:14-16, “What is man, that he should be clean? And he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight: how much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water!” And no less remarkable is our author’s method of managing it. The 16th verse expresses an exceeding degree of wickedness, in as plain and emphatical terms, almost, as can be invented; every word representing this in the strongest manner: “How much more abominable and filthy is man, that drinketh iniquity like water!” I cannot now recollect, where we have a sentence equal to it in the whole Bible, for an emphatical, lively, and strong representation of great wickedness of heart. Any one of the words, as such words are used in Scripture, would represent great wickedness: if it had been only said, “How much more abominable is man! Or, how much more filthy is man! Or, man that drinketh iniquity.” But all these are accumulated with the addition of — like water, — the further to represent the boldness or greediness of men in wickedness. Though iniquity be the most deadly poison, yet men drink it as boldly as they drink water, are as familiar with it as with their common drink, and drink it with like greediness, as he that is thirsty drinks water. That boldness and eagerness in persecuting the saints, by which the great degree of the depravity of man’s heart often appears, as thus represented, Psa. 14:4, “Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread?” And the greatest eagerness of thirst is represented by thirsting as an animal thirsts after water, Psa. 42:1.
Now let us see the soft, easy, light manner, in which Dr. T. treats this place. (p. 143), “How much more abominable and filthy is man, IN COMPARISON OF THE DIVINE PURITY, who drinketh iniquity like water! who is attended with so many sensual appetites, and so apt to indulge them. You see the argument, man in his present weak and fleshly state, cannot be clean before God. Why so? Because he is conceived and born in sin, by reason of Adam’s sin? No such thing. But because, if the purest creatures are not pure, in comparison of God, much less a being subject to so many INFIRMITIES as a MORTAL man. Which is a demonstration to me, not only that Job and his friends did not intend to establish the doctrine we are now examining, but that they were wholly strangers to it.” Thus he endeavors to reconcile this text with his doctrine of the perfect native innocence of mankind; in which we have a notable specimen of his demonstrations, as well as of that great impartiality and fairness in examining and expounding the Scripture, of which he so often makes a profession!
In this place we are not only told, how wicked man’s heart is, but also how men come by such wickedness; even by being of the race of mankind, by ordinary genetion: What is man, that he should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Our author (p. 141, 142) represents man being born of a woman, as a periphrasis, to signify man; and that there is no design in the words to give a reason, why man is not clean and righteous. But the case is most evidently otherwise, if we may interpret the book of Job by itself. It is most plain, that man’s being born of a woman is given as a reason of his not being clean; Job 14:4, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Job is speaking there expressly of man’s being born of a woman, as appears in verse 1. And here how plain is it, that this is given as a reason of man’s not being clean! Concerning this Dr. T. says, That this has no respect to any moral uncleanness, but only common frailty, etc. But how evidently is this also otherwise! when that uncleanness, which a man has by being born of a woman, is expressly explained of unrighteousness, in the next chapter at the 14th verse, “What is man that he should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?” Also in Job 25:4, “How then can man be justified with God? And how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” It is a moral cleanness Bildad is speaking of, which a man needs in order to his being justified. His design is, to convince Job of his moral impurity, and from thence of God’s righteousness in his severe judgments upon him; and not of his natural frailty.
And, without doubt, David has respect to this way of derived wickedness of heart, when he says, Psa. 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” It alters not the case, as to the argument we are upon, whether the word conceive me, signifies to conceive, or to nurse; which latter, our author takes so much pains to prove: for, when he has done all, he speaks of it as a just translation of the words to render them thus, I was BORN in iniquity, and in sin did my mother nurse me. (p. 135) If it is owned that man is born in sin, it is not worth the while to dispute, whether it is expressly asserted, that he is conceived in sin. But Dr. T. after his manner, insists, that such expressions, as being born in sin, being transgressors from the womb, and the like, are only phrases figuratively to denote aggravation, and a high degree of wickedness. But the contrary has been already demonstrated, from many plain scripture instances. Nor is one instance produced, in which there is any evidence that such a phrase is used in such a manner. A poetical sentence out of Virgil’s AEneid, has here been produced, and made much of by some, as parallel with this, in what Dido says to AEneas, in these lines:
Nec tibi diva parens, generis nec dardanus auctor,
Perfide: Sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
Caucasus, hyrcanaeque admorunt ubera tygres.
In which she tells AEneas, that not a goddess was his mother, nor Anchises his father; but that he had been brought forth by a horrid rocky mountain, and nursed at the dugs of tigers, to represent the greatness of his cruelty to her. But how unlike and unparalleled is this! Nothing could be more natural, than for a woman overpowered with the passion of love, and distracted with raging jealousy and disappointment, thinking herself treated with brutish perfidy and cruelty, by a lover whose highest fame had been his being the son of a goddess, to aggravate his inhumanity and hard-heartedness with this, that his behavior was not worthy the son of a goddess, nor becoming one whose father was an illustrious prince: and that he acted more as if he had been brought forth by hard unrelenting rocks, and had sucked the dugs of tigers. But what is there in the case of David parallel, or at all in like manner leading him to speak of himself as born in sin, in any such figurative sense? He is not speaking himself, nor anyone speaking to him, of any excellent and divine father and mother, of whom he was born: nor is there any appearance of his aggravating his sin, by its being unworthy of his high birth. There is nothing else visible in David’s case to lead him to take notice of his being born in sin, but only his having such experience of the continuance and power of indwelling sin, after so long a time, and so many and great means to engage him to holiness; which showed that sin was inbred, and in his very nature.
Dr. T. often objects to these and other texts, brought by divines to prove original sin, that there is no mention made in them of Adam, nor of his sin. He cries out, Here is not the least mention, or intimation of Adam, or any ill effects of his sin upon us. — Here is not one word, nor the least hint of Adam, or any consequences of his sin, etc. etc. He says (p. 142), “If Job and his friends had known and believed the doctrine of a corrupt nature, derived from Adam’s sin only, they ought in reason and truth to have given this as the true and only reason of the human imperfection and uncleanness they mention.” But these objections and exclamations are made no less impertinently, than frequently. It is no more a proof, that corruption of nature did not come by Adam’s sin, because many times when it is mentioned, his sin is not expressly mentioned as the cause of it; than that death did not come by Adam’s sin, as Dr. T. says it did. For though death, as incident to mankind, is mentioned so often in the Old Testament, and by our Savior in his discourses, yet Adam’s sin is not once expressly mentioned, after the three first chapters of Genesis, anywhere in all the Old Testament, or the four Evangelists, as the occasion of it.
What Christian has there ever been, that believed the moral corruption of human nature, who ever doubted that it came in the way, of which the apostle speaks, when he says, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin?” Nor indeed have they any more reason to doubt of it, than to doubt of the whole history of our first parents, because Adam’s name is so rarely mentioned, on any occasion in Scripture, after that first account of him, and Eve’s never at all; and because we have no more any express mention of the particular manner, in which mankind were first brought into being, either with respect to the creation of Adam or Eve. It is sufficient, that the abiding, most visible effects of these things, remain in the view of mankind in all ages, and are often spoken of in Scripture; and that the particular manner of their being introduced, is once plainly set forth in the beginning of the Bible, in that history which gives us an account of the origin of all things. And doubtless it was expected, by the great author of the Bible, that the account in the three first chapters of Genesis should be taken as a plain account of the introduction of both natural and moral evil into the world. The history of Adam’s sin, with its circumstances, God’s threatening, the sentence pronounced upon him after his transgression and the immediate consequences, consisting in so vast an alteration in his state — and the state of the world, with respect to all his posterity — most directly and sufficiently lead us to understand the rise of calamity, sin, and death, in this sinful, miserable world.It is fit we all should know, that it does not become us to tell the Most High, how often he shall particularly explain and give the reason of any doctrine which he teaches, in order to our believing what he says. If he has at all given us evidence that it is a doctrine agreeable to his mind, it becomes us to receive it with full credit and submission; and not sullenly to reject it, because our notions and humors are not suited in the manner, and number of times, of his particularly explaining it. How often is pardon of sins promised in the Old Testament to repenting and returning sinners! How many hundred times is God’s special favor there promised to the sincerely righteous, without any express mention of these benefits being through Christ! Would it therefore become us to say, that inasmuch as our dependence on Christ for these benefits is a doctrine, which, if true, is of such importance, God ought expressly to have mentioned Christ’s merits as the reason and ground of the benefits, if he knew they were the ground of them; and should have plainly declared it sooner, and more frequently, if ever he expected we should believe him, when he did tell us of it? How oft is vengeance and misery threatened in the Old Testament to the wicked, without any clear and express signification of any such thing intended, as that everlasting fire, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, in another world, which Christ so often speaks of as the punishment appointed for all the wicked! Would it now become a Christian, to object and say, that if God really meant any such thing, he ought in reason and truth to have declared it plainly and fully; and not to have been so silent about a matter of such vast importance to all mankind, for four thousand years together?
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