Observations on John 3:6 in connection with some other passages in the New Testament.

THOSE words of Christ, giving a reason to Nicodemus, why we must be born again,  John 3:6, That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is  spirit, have not without good reason been produced by divines, as a proof of the  doctrine of original sin: supposing, that by flesh here is meant the human nature in a  debased and corrupt state. Yet Dr. T. (p. 144) thus explains these words, that which is  born of the flesh, is flesh; that which is born by natural descent and propagation, is a  man consisting of body and soul, or the mere constitution and powers of a man in their  natural state. But the constant use of these terms, flesh and spirit, in other parts of the  New Testament, when thus set in opposition, and the latter said to be produced by the  Spirit of God, as here and when expressive of the same thing, which Christ is here  speaking of to Nicodemus, viz. the requisite qualifications to salvation will fully  vindicate the sense, of our divines. Thus in the 7th and 8th chapters of Romans, where  these terms flesh and spirit ( and ) are abundantly repeated, and set in  opposition, as here. So Rom. 7:14. The law is () spiritual, but I am  () carnal, sold under sin. He cannot only mean, I am a man consisting of body  and soul, and having the powers of a man. Verse 18, I know that in me, that is, in my  flesh, dwelleth no good thing. He does not mean to condemn his frame, as consisting of  body and soul; and to assert, that in his human constitution, with the powers of a man,  dwells no good thing. And when he says in the last verse of the chapter, With the mind,  I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh, the law of sin; he cannot mean, I  myself serve the law of God; but with my innocent human constitution, as having the  powers of a man, I serve the law of sin. And when he says in the next words, the  beginning of the 8th chapter, there is no condemnation to them, that walk not after  the flesh, but after the spirit; and verse 4, The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in  us, who walk not after the flesh; he cannot mean, there is no condemnation to them  that walk not according to the powers of a man, etc. And when he says (Rom. 8:5, 6),  They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; and to be carnally minded  is death; he does not intend, they that are according to the human constitution, and the  powers of a man, do mind the things of the human constitution and powers; and to mind  these is death. And when he says, Rom. 8:7 and 8, The carnal (or fleshly) mind is  enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be: so that  they that are in the flesh, cannot please God; he cannot mean, that to mind the things  which are agreeable to the powers and constitution of a man, who as our author says,  is constituted or made right, is enmity against God; and that a mind which is agreeable to  this right human constitution, as God hath made it, is not subject to the law of God, nor  indeed can be; and that they who are according to such a constitution, cannot please  God. And when it is said, verse 9, Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit; the apostle  cannot mean, ye are not in the human nature, as constituted of body and soul, and with  the powers of a man. It is most manifest, that by the flesh here the apostle means a  nature that is corrupt, of an evil tendency, and directly opposite to the law and holy  nature of God; so that to walk according to it, and to have a mind so conformed, is to be  an utter enemy to God and his law; in a state of perfect inconsistency with subjection to  God, and of being pleasing to him; and in a sure and infallible tendency to death, and  utter destruction. And it is plain, that here by walking after, or according to, the flesh, is  meant the same thing as walking according to a corrupt and sinful nature; and to walk  according to the spirit, is to walk according to a holy and divine nature, or principle: and  to be carnally minded, is the same as being viciously and corruptly minded; and to be  spiritually minded, is to be of a virtuous and holy disposition.

When Christ says, John 3:6, That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, he represents  the flesh not merely as a quality; for it would be incongruous to speak of a quality as a  thing born. Therefore man, as in his whole nature corrupt, is called flesh; which is  agreeable to other scripture representations, where the corrupt nature is called the old  man, the body of sin, and the body of death. Agreeable to this are those representations in  the 7th and 8th chapters of Romans. There, flesh is figuratively represented as a person,  according to the apostles manner. This is observed by Mr. Locke, and after him by Dr.  T. who takes notice, that the apostle, in the 6th and 7th of Romans, represents sin as a  person; and that he figuratively distinguishes in himself two persons, speaking of flesh as  his person. For I know that in ME, that is, in my FLESH, dwelleth no good thing. And it  may be observed, that in the 8th chapter he still continues this representation, speaking  of the flesh as a person. Accordingly, in the 6th and 7th verses, he speaks of the mind of  the flesh () and of the mind of the spirit () as if the flesh and spirit  were two opposite persons, each having a mind contrary to that of the other. Dr. T.  interprets this mind of the flesh, and mind of the spirit, as though the flesh and the spirit  were the different objects, about which the mind is conversant. But this is plainly beside  the apostles meaning; who speaks of the flesh and spirit as the subjects in which the  mind is; and in a sense the agents, but not the objects, about which it acts. We have the  same phrase again. Rom. 8:27, He that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is the mind  of the spirit ( ). The mind of the spiritual nature in the saints is the same  with the mind of the Spirit of God himself, who imparts and actuates that spiritual  nature; and here the spirit is the subject and agent; but not the object. The same apostle,  in a similar manner, uses the word () mind. Col. 2:18, Vainly puffed up by his fleshly  mind ( ) by the mind of his flesh. And this agent so often  called flesh, represented by the apostle as altogether evil, without any good thing  dwelling in it, or belonging to it yea perfectly contrary to God and his law, and  tending only to death and ruin, and directly opposite to the spirit is what Christ speaks  of to Nicodemus as born in the first birth, and furnishing a reason why there is a  necessity of a new birth, in order to a better production.

One thing is particularly observable in that discourse of the apostle in which he  so often uses the term flesh, as opposite to spirit that he expressly calls it sinful flesh,  Rom. 8:3. It is manifest, that by sinful flesh he means the same thing with that flesh  spoken of in all the context: and that when it is said, Christ was made in the likeness of  sinful flesh, the expression is equipollent with those that speak of Christ as made sin, and  made a curse for us.

Flesh and spirit are opposed to one another in Gal. 5 in the same manner as in the  8th of Romans. And there, assuredly, by flesh cannot be meant only the human nature of  body and soul, or the mere constitution and powers of a man, as in its natural state,  innocent and right. In Gal. 5:16 the apostle says, Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not  fulfil the lusts of the flesh: the flesh, is something of an evil inclination, desire, or lust.  But this is more strongly signified in the next words; For the flesh lusteth against the  spirit and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other. What  could have been said more plainly, to show that what the apostle means by flesh, is  something very evil in its nature, and an irreconcilable enemy to all goodness? And it  may be observed, that in these words, and those that follow, the apostle still figuratively  represents the flesh as a person or agent, desiring, acting, having lusts, and performing  works. And by works of the flesh, and fruits of the spirit, which are opposed to each  other (from Gal. 5:19, to the end), are plainly meant the same as works of a sinful nature,  and fruits of a holy renewed nature. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are  these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred,  variance, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, etc. But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy,  peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, etc. The apostle, by flesh, does not mean  anything that is innocent and good in itself, which only needs to be restrained, and kept  in proper bounds; but something altogether evil, which is to be destroyed. 1 Cor. 5:5,  To deliver such an one to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh. We must have no  mercy on it; we cannot be too cruel to it; it must even be crucified. Gal. 5:24, They that  are Christs, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The apostle John the same apostle that writes the account of what Christ said to  Nicodemus by the spirit means the same thing as a new, divine, and holy nature,  exerting itself in a principle of divine love, which is the sum of all Christian holiness. 1  John 3:23, 24, And that we should love one another, as he gave us commandment; and  he that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in him and he in him: and hereby we know  that he abideth in us, by the spirit that he hath given us. Chap. 4:12, 13, If we love one  another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us: hereby know we, that we  dwell in him, because he hath given us of his Spirit. The spiritual principle in us being  as it were a communication of the Spirit of God to us.

And as by () spirit, is meant a holy nature, so by the epithet ()  spiritual, is meant the same as truly virtuous and holy. Gal. 6:1, Ye that are spiritual,  restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. The apostle refers to what he had just said  at the end of the foregoing chapter, where he had mentioned meekness as a fruit of the  spirit. And so by carnal, or fleshly () is meant the same as sinful. Rom. 7:14,  The law is spiritual (i.e. holy), but I am carnal, sold under sin.

And it is evident, that by flesh, as the word is used in the New Testament, and  opposed to spirit, when speaking of the qualifications for eternal salvation, is meant   not only what is now vulgarly called the sins of the flesh, consisting in inordinate  appetites of the body, and their indulgence; but the whole body of sin, implying those  lusts that are most subtle, and farthest from any relation to the body; such as pride,  malice, envy, etc. When the works of the flesh are enumerated, Gal. 5:19-21, they are  vices of the latter kind chiefly that are mentioned; idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance,  emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings. So, pride of heart is the effect or  operation of the flesh. Col. 2:18, Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind: in the Greek  (as before observed), by the mind of the flesh. So, pride, envying, and strife, and division,  are spoken of as works of the flesh, 1 Cor. 3:3, 4, For ye are yet carnal (,  fleshly). For whereas there is envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal, and  walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not  carnal? Such kind of lusts do not depend on the body, or external senses; for the devil  himself has them in the highest degree, who has not, nor ever had, anybody or external  senses to gratify.

Here, if it should be inquired, how corruption or depravity in general, or the nature  of man as corrupt and sinful, came to be called flesh, and not only that corruption which  consists in inordinate bodily appetites? I think, what the apostle says in the last cited  place, Are ye not carnal, and walk as men? leads us to the true reason. It is because a  corrupt and sinful nature is what properly belongs to mankind, or the race of Adam, as  they are in themselves, and as they are by nature. the word flesh is often used in both the  Old and the New Testament to signify mankind in their present state. To enumerate all  the places, would be very tedious; I shall therefore only mention a few in the New  Testament. Mat. 24:22, Except those days should be shortened, no flesh should be  saved. Luke 3:6, All flesh shall see the salvation of God. John 17:2, Thou hast given  him power over all flesh. [See also Acts 2:17; Rom 3:20; 1 Cor. 1:29; Gal. 2:16.] Mans  nature, being left to itself, forsaken of the Spirit of God, as it was when man fell, and  consequently forsaken of divine and holy principles, of itself became exceeding corrupt,  utterly depraved and ruined: and so the word flesh, which signifies man, came to be used  to signify man as he is in himself, in his natural state, debased, corrupt, and ruined. On  the other hand, the word spirit came to be used to signify a divine and holy principle, or  new nature: because that is not of man, but of God, by the indwelling and vital influence  of his Spirit. And thus to be corrupt, and to be carnal, or fleshly, and to walk as men, are  the same thing. And so in other parts of Scripture, to savor the things that be of man, and  to savor things which are corrupt, are the same; and, sons of men, and wicked men, also  are the same, as observed before. And on the other hand, to savor the things that be of  God, and to receive the things of the Spirit of God, are phrases that signify as much as  relishing and embracing true holiness or divine virtue.

All these things confirm what we have supposed to be Christs meaning in saying,  That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.  His speech implies, that what is born in the first birth of man, is nothing but man as he is  of himself, without anything divine in him; depraved, debased, sinful, ruined man, utterly  unfit to enter into the kingdom of God, and incapable of the spiritual divine happiness of  that kingdom. But that which is born, in the new birth, of the Spirit of God, is a spiritual  principle, a holy and divine nature, meet for the heavenly kingdom. It is no small  confirmation of this being the true meaning, that the words understood in this sense,  contain the proper and true reason, why a man must be born again, in order to enter into  the kingdom of God; the reason given everywhere in other parts of Scripture for the  necessity of a renovation, a change of mind, a new heart, etc. in order to salvation: to  give a reason of which to Nicodemus, is plainly Christs design in the words which have  been insisted on. Before I proceed, I would observe one thing as a corollary from  what has been said.

Corol. If by flesh and spirit, when spoken of in the New Testament, and opposed to  each other, in discourses on the necessary qualifications for salvation, we are to  understand what has been now supposed, it will not only follow, that men by nature are  corrupt, but wholly corrupt, without any good thing. If by flesh is meant mans nature, as  he receives it in his first birth, then therein dwelleth no good thing; as appears by Rom  7:18. It is wholly opposite to God, and to subjection to his law, as appears by Rom. 8:7,  8. It is directly contrary to true holiness, and wholly opposes it, as appears by Gal. 5:17.  So long as men are in their natural state, they not only have no good thing, but it is  impossible they should have or do any good thing; as appears by Rom. 8:8. There is  nothing in their nature, as they have it by the first birth, whence should arise any true  subjection of God; as appears by Rom. 8:7. If there were anything truly good in the flesh,  or in mans nature, or natural disposition, under a moral view, then it should only be  amended; but the Scripture represents as though we were to be enemies to it, and were to  seek nothing short of its entire destruction, as before observed. And elsewhere the  apostle directs not to the amending of the old man, but putting it off, and putting on the  new man; and seeks not to have the body of death made better, but to be delivered from  it; and says, that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (which doubtless means  the same as a man new born), old things are (not amended, but) passed away, and all  things are become new.

But this will be further evident, if we particularly consider the apostles discourse in 1  Cor. the latter part of the second chapter and the beginning of the third. There the apostle  speaks of the natural man, and the spiritual man; where natural and spiritual are  opposed just in the same manner as carnal and spiritual often are. In 1 Cor. 2:14, 15, he  says, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are  foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual, judgeth all things. And not only does the apostle here oppose  natural and spiritual, just as he elsewhere does carnal and spiritual, but his following  discourse evidently shows, that he means the very same distinction, the same two  distinct and opposite things. For immediately on his thus speaking of the difference  between the natural and the spiritual man, he says, And I, brethren, could not speak  unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. Referring manifestly to what he had been  saying, in the immediately preceding discourse, about spiritual and natural men, and  evidently using the word, carnal, as synonymous with natural. By which it is put out of  all reasonable dispute, that the apostle by natural men means the same as men in that  carnal, sinful state, that they are in by their first birth; notwithstanding all the glosses  and criticisms, by which modern writers have endeavored to palm upon us another sense  of this phrase; and so to deprive us of the clear instruction the apostle gives in that 14th  verse, concerning the sinful miserable state of man by nature. Dr. T. says, by ,  is meant the animal man, the man who maketh sense and appetite the law of his action.  If he aims to limit the meaning of the word to external sense, and bodily appetite, his  meaning is certainly not the apostles. For the apostle in his sense includes the more  spiritual vices of envy, strife, etc. as appears by the four first verses of the next chapter;  where, as I have observed, he substitutes the word carnal in the place of . So  the apostle Jude used the word in like manner, opposing it to spiritual, or having the  Spirit, Jude 19, These are they that separate themselves, sensual (), not having  the Spirit. The vices he had been just speaking of, were chiefly of the more spiritual  kind, Jude 16, These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and  their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having mens persons in admiration, because  of advantage. The vices mentioned are much of the same kind with those of the  Corinthians, for which he calls them carnal; envy, strife, divisions, saying, I am of Paul,  and I of Apollos; and being puffed up for one against another. We have the same word  again, Jam. 3:14, 15, If ye have bitter envying and strife, glory not, and lie not against  the truth: this wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual () and  devilish; where also the vices the apostle speaks of are of the more spiritual kind.

So that on the whole, there is sufficient reason to understand the apostle, when he  speaks of the natural man, in 1 Cor. 2:14. as meaning man in his native corrupt state.  And his words represent him as totally corrupt, wholly a stranger and enemy to true  virtue or holiness, and things appertaining to it, which it appears are commonly intended  in the New Testament by things spiritual, and are doubtless here meant by things of the  Spirit of God. These words also represent, that it is impossible man should be otherwise,  while in his natural state. The expressions are very strong: The natural man receiveth not  the things of the Spirit of God, is not susceptible of things of that kind, neither can he  know them, can have no true sense or relish of them, or notion of their real nature and  true excellency; because they are spiritually discerned; they are not discerned by means  of any principle in nature, but altogether by a principle that is divine, something  introduced by the grace of Gods Holy Spirit, which is above all that is natural. The  words are in a considerable degree parallel with those of our Savior, John 14:16, 17, He  shall give you the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him  not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in  you.


Observations on Romans 3:9-24

IF the Scriptures represents all mankind as wicked in their first state, before they are made partakers of the benefits of Christs redemption, then they are wicked by nature: for doubtless mens first state is their native state, or that in which they come into the world. But the Scriptures do thus represent all mankind.

Before I mention particular texts to this purpose, I would observe, that it alters not the case, as to the argument in hand, whether we suppose these texts speak directly of infants, or only of such as understand something of their duty and state. For if all mankind, as soon as ever they are capable of reflecting, and knowing their own moral state, find themselves wicked, this proves that they are wicked by nature; either born so, or born with an infallible disposition to be wicked as soon as possible, if there by any difference between these; and either of them will prove men to be born exceedingly depraved. I have before proved, that a native propensity to sin certainly follows from many things said of mankind in the Scripture; but what I intend now, is to prove by direct scripture testimony, that all mankind, in their first state, are really of a wicked character.

To this purpose, exceeding full, express, and abundant is that passage of the apostle, in Rom. 3:9-24, which I shall set down at large, distinguishing the universal terms which are here so often repeated, by a distinct character. The apostle having in the first chapter (Rom. 1:16, 17) laid down his proposition, that none can be saved in any other way than through the righteousness of God, by faith in Jesus Christ, he proceeds to prove this point, by showing particularly that all are in themselves wicked, and without any righteousness of their own. First, he insists on the wickedness of the Gentiles, in the first chapter; next, on the wickedness of the Jews, in the second chapter. And then, in this place, he comes to sum up the matter, and draw the conclusion in the words following: What then, are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are ALL under the sin: as it is written, there is NONE righteous, NO, NOT ONE; there is NONE that understandeth; there is NONE that seeketh after God; they are ALL gone out of the way; they are TOGETHER become unprofitable; there is NONE that doeth good, NO, NOT ONE. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace they have not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know, that whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, that EVERY mouth may be stopped, and ALL THE WORLD may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall NO FLESH be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law, is manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto ALL, and upon ALL them that believe; for there is NO DIFFERENCE. For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ.

Here the thing which I would prove, viz. that mankind in their first state, before they are interested in the benefits of Christs redemption, are universally wicked, is declared with the utmost possible fullness and precision. So that if here this matter be not set forth plainly, expressly, and fully, it must be because no words can do it, and it is not in the power of language, or any manner of terms and phrases, however contrived and heaped up one upon another, determinately to signify any such thing.

Dr. T. to take off the force of the whole, would have us to understand (p. 104-107) that these passages quoted from the Psalms, and other parts of the Old Testament, do not speak of all mankind, nor of all the Jews; but only of them of whom they were true. He observes, there were many that were innocent and righteous; though there were also many, a strong party, that were wicked, corrupt, etc. of whom these texts were to be understood. Concerning which I would observe the following things:

1. According to this, the universality of the terms in these places, which the apostle cites from the Old Testament, to prove that all the world, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin, is nothing to his purpose. The apostle uses universal terms in his proposition, and in his conclusion, that ALL are under sin, that EVERY MOUTH is stopped, ALL THE WORLD guilty, that by the deeds of the law NO FLESH can be justified. And he chooses out a number of universal sayings or clauses out of the Old Testament, to confirm this universality; as, There is none righteous; no, not one: they are all gone out of the way; there is none that understandeth, etc. But yet the universal terms found in them have no reference to any such universality, either in the collective, or personal sense; no universality of the nations of the world, or of particular persons in those nations, or in any one nation in the world: but only of those of whom they are true! That is, there is none of them righteous, of whom it is true, that they are not righteous: no, not one; there is none that understand, of whom it is true, that they understand not: they are all gone out of the way, of whom it is true, that they are gone out of the way, etc. Or these expressions are to be understood concerning that strong party in Israel, in David and Solomons days, and in the prophets days; they are to be understood of them universally. And what is that to the apostles purpose? How does such an universality of wickedness that all were wicked in Israel, who were wicked; or, that there was a particular evil party, all of which were wicked confirm that universality which the apostle would prove, viz. That all Jews and Gentiles, and the whole world, were wicked, and every mouth stopped, and that no flesh could be justified by their own righteousness.

Here nothing can be said to abate the nonsense, but this, that the apostle would convince the Jews, that they were capable of being wicked, as well as other nations; and to prove it, he mentions some texts, which show that there was wicked party in Israel a thousand years ago. And as to the universal terms which happened to be in these texts, the apostle had no respect to them; but his reciting them is as it were accidental, they happened to be in some texts which speak of an evil party in Israel, and the apostle cites them as they are, not because they are any more to his purpose for the universal terms, which happen to be in them. But let the reader look on the words of the apostle, and observe the violence of such a supposition. Particularly let the words of the 9th and 10th verses, and their connection, be observed. All are under sin: as it is written, There is none righteous; no, not one. How plain it is, that the apostle cites that latter universal clause out of the 14th Psalm, to confound the preceding universal words of his own proposition! And yet it will follow from what Dr. T. supposes, that the universality of the terms in the last words, there is none righteous; no, not one, hath no relation at all to that universality he speaks of in the preceding clause, to which they are joined, all are under sin: and is no more a confirmation of it, than if the words were thus, There are some or there are many in Israel, that are not righteous.

2. To suppose, the apostles design in citing these passages, was only to prove to the Jews, that of old there was a considerable number of their nation that were wicked men, is to suppose him to have gone about to prove what none of the Jews denied, or made the least doubt of, even the Pharisees, the most self-righteous sect of them, who went furthest in glorying in the distinction of their nation from other nations, as a holy people, knew it, and owned it; they openly confessed that their forefathers killed the prophets, Mat. 23:29-31. And if the apostles design had been only to refresh their memories, to put them in mind of the ancient wickedness of their nation, to lead to reflection on themselves as guilty of the like wickedness, as Stephen does (Acts 7) what need had he to go so far about to prove this gathering up many sentences here and there which prove, that their scriptures speak of some as wicked men and then to prove, that the wicked men spoken of must be Jews, by this argument, that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, or that whatsoever the books of the Old Testament said, it must be understood of that people who had the Old Testament? What need had the apostle of such an ambages as this, to prove to the Jews, that there had been many of their nation in past ages, which were wicked men; when the Old Testament was full of passages that asserted this expressly, not only of a strong party, but of the nation in general? How much more would it have been to such a purpose, to have put them in mind of the wickedness of the people in general in worshipping the golden calf; of the unbelief, murmuring, and perverseness of the whole congregation in the wilderness, for forty years, as Stephen does! Which things he had no need to prove to be spoken of their nation, by any such indirect argument as this, Whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law.

3. It would have been impertinent to the apostles purpose, even as our author understands his purpose, for him to have gone about to convince the Jews, that there had been a strong party of bad men in the time of David and Solomon, and the prophets, For Dr. T. supposes, that apostles aim is to prove the great corruption of both Jews and Gentiles when Christ came into the world. (See Key, 307, 310.)

In order the more fully to evade the clear and abundant testimonies to the doctrine of original sin, contained in this part of the Holy Scripture, our author says, the apostle is here speaking of bodies of people, of Jews and Gentiles in a collective sense, as two great bodies into which mankind are divided; speaking of them in their collective capacity, and not with respect to particular persons; that the apostles design is to prove, that neither of these two great bodies, in their collective sense, can be justified by law, because both were corrupt; and so that no more is implied, than that the generality of both were wicked. (Page 102, 104, 117, 119, 120. and note on Rom. 3:10-19.) On this I observe,

(1.) That this supposed sense disagrees extremely with the terms and language which the apostle here makes use of. For according to this, we must understand, either.

First, that the apostle means no universality at all, but only the far greater part. But if the words which the apostle uses, do not most fully and determinately signify an universality, no words ever used in the Bible are sufficient to do it. I might challenge any man to produce any one paragraph in the Scripture, from the beginning to the end, where there is such a repetition and accumulation of terms, so strongly, and emphatically, and carefully, to express the most perfect and absolute universality; or any place to be compared to it. What instance is there in the Scripture, or indeed in any other writing, when the meaning is only the much greater part, where this meaning is signified in such a manner, They are all, They are all, They are all together, everyone, all the world; joined to multiplied negative terms, to show the universality to be without exception; saying, There is no flesh, there is none, there is none, there is none, there is none, four times over; besides the addition of No, not one, no, not one, once and again! or,

Secondly, if any universality at all be allowed, it is only of the collective bodies spoken of: and these collective bodies but two, as Dr. T. reckons them, viz. the Jewish nation, and the Gentile world; supposing the apostle is here representing each of these parts of mankind as being wicked. But is this the way of men using language, when speaking of but two things, to express themselves in such universal terms, when they mean no more than that the thing affirmed is predicated of both of them? If a man speaking of his two feet as both lame, should say, All my feet are lame They are all lame All together are become weak None of my feet are strong None of them are sound No, not one; would not he be thought to be lame in his understanding, as well as his feet? When the apostle says, That every mouth may be stopped, must we suppose, that he speaks only of these two great collective bodies, figuratively ascribing to each of them a mouth, and means that these two mouths are stopped? Besides, according to our authors own interpretation, the universal terms used in these texts, cited from the Old Testament, have no respect to those two great collective bodies, nor indeed to either of them; but to some in Israel, a particular disaffected party in that one nation, which was made up of wicked men. So that his interpretation is every way absurd and inconsistent.

(2.) If the apostle is speaking only of the wickedness or guilt of great collective bodies, then it will follow, that also the justification he here treats of, is no other than the justification of such collective bodies. For, they are the same of whom he speaks as guilty and wicked, and who cannot be justified by the works of the law, by reason of their being wicked. Otherwise his argument is wholly disannulled. If the guilt he speaks of be only of collective bodies, then what he argues from that guilt, must be only, that collective bodies cannot be justified by the works of the law, having no respect to the justification of particular persons. And indeed this is Dr. T.s declared opinion. He supposes the apostle here, and in other parts of this epistle, is speaking of mens justification considered only as in their collective capacity (See note on Rom. 3:10-19; chap. 5:11, and chap. 9:30, 31). But the contrary is most manifest. The 26th and 28th verses of this third chapter, cannot, without the utmost violence, be understood otherwise than of the justification of particular persons. That he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. So in Rom. 4:5, But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. And what the apostle cites in the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses from the book of Psalms, evidently shows, that he is speaking of the justification of particular persons. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. David says these things in the 32d Psalm, with a special respect to his own particular case; there expressing the great distress he was in, while under a sense of personal sin and guilt, and the great joy he had when God forgave him.

And what can be plainer, that in the paragraph we have been upon (Rom. 3:20) it is the justification of particular persons of which the apostle speaks. Therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. He refers to Psa. 143:2, Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Here the psalmist is not speaking of the justification of a nation, as a collective body, or of one of the two parts of the world, but of a particular man. And it is further manifest, that the apostle is here speaking of personal justification, inasmuch as this place is evidently parallel with Gal. 3:10, 11, For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the works of the law, is evident; for, The just shall live by faith. It is plain, that this place is parallel with that in the 3d of Romans, not only as the thing asserted is the same, and the argument by which it is proved that all are guilty, and exposed to condemnation by the law. But the same saying of the Old Testament is cited (Gal. 2:16). Many other things demonstrate, that the apostle is speaking of the same justification in both places, which I omit for brevitys sake.

And besides all these things, our authors interpretation makes the apostles argument wholly void another way. The apostle is speaking of a certain subject which cannot be justified by the works of the law; and his argument is, that the same subject is guilty, and is condemned by the law. If he means, that one subject, suppose a collective body or bodies, cannot be justified by the law, because another subject, another collective body, is condemned by the law, it is plain, the argument would be quite vain and impertinent. Yet thus the argument must stand according to Dr. T.s interpretation. The collective bodies which he supposes are spoken of as wicked, and condemned by the law, considered as in their collective capacity, are those two, the Jewish nation, and the heathen world: but the collective body which he supposes the apostle speaks of as justified without the deeds of the law, is neither of these, but the Christian church, or body of believers; which is a new collective body, a new creature, and a new man (according to our authors understanding of such phrases), which never had any existence before it was justified, and therefore never was wicked or condemned, unless it was with regard to the individuals of which it was constituted; and it does not appear, according to our authors scheme, that these individuals, had before been generally wicked. For according to him, there was a number both among the Jews and Gentiles, that were righteous before. And how does it appear, but that the comparatively few Jews and Gentiles, of which this new-created collective body was constituted, were chiefly of the best of each?

So that in every view, this authors way of explaining the passage appears vain and absurd. And so clearly and fully has the apostle expressed himself, that it is doubtless impossible to invent any other sense to put upon his words, than that which will imply, that all mankind, even every individual of the whole race, but their Redeemer himself, are in their first original state corrupt and wicked.

Before I leave this passage (Rom. 3:9-24) it may be proper to observe, that it not only is a most clear and full testimony to the native depravity of mankind, but also plainly declares that natural depravity to be total and exceeding great. It is the apostles manifest design in these citations from the Old Testament, to show these three things. 1. That all mankind are by nature corrupt. 2. That everyone is altogether corrupt, and, as it were, depraved in every part. 3. That they are in every part corrupt in an exceeding degree. With respect to the second of these, it is plain the apostle puts together those particular passages of the Old Testament, herein most of those members of the body are mentioned, that are the souls chief instruments or organs of external action. The hands (implicitly) in those expressions, They are together become unprofitable, There is none that doth good. The throat, tongue, lips, and mouth, the organs of speech, in those words; Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. The feet in those words, verse 15, Their feet are swift to shed blood. These things together signify, that man is as it were all over corrupt in every part. And not only is the total corruption thus intimated, by enumerating the several parts, but also by denying all good; any true understanding or spiritual knowledge, any seeking after God. There is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God; there is none that doth good; the way of peace have they not known. And in general, by denying all true piety or religion in men in their first state, verse 18, There is no fear of God before their eyes. The expressions also are evidently chosen to denote a most extreme and desperate wickedness of heart. An exceeding depravity is ascribed to every part: to the throat, the scent of an open sepulcher; to the tongue and lips, deceit, and the poison of asps; to the mouth, cursing and bitterness; of their feet it is said, they are swift to shed blood: and with regard to the whole man, it is said, destruction and misery are in their ways. The representation is very strong of each of these things, viz. That all mankind are corrupt; that everyone is wholly and altogether corrupt; and also extremely and desperately corrupt. And it is plain, it is not accidental, that we have here such a collection of such strong expressions, so emphatically signifying these things; but that they are chosen of the apostle on design, as being directly and fully to his purpose; which purpose appears in all his discourse in the whole of this chapter, and indeed from the beginning of the epistle.

Observations on Rom. 5:6-10 and Eph. 2:3 with the context, and Rom. 7

ANOTHER passage of this apostle, which shows that all who are made partakers of  the benefits of Christs redemption, are in their first state wicked, desperately wicked, is  Rom. 5:6-10, For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the  ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man  some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we  were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood,  we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if while we were enemies we were  reconciled to God through the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall  be saved by his life. Here all for whom Christ died, and who are saved by him, are  spoken of as being in their first state sinners, ungodly, enemies to God, exposed to divine  wrath, and without strength, without ability to help themselves, or deliver their souls  from this miserable state.

Dr. T. says, the apostle here speaks of the Gentiles only in their heathen state, in  contradistinction to the Jews; and that not of particular persons among the heathen  Gentiles, or as to the state they were in personally; but only of the Gentiles collectively  taken, or of the miserable state of that great collective body, the heathen world: and that  these appellation, sinners, ungodly, enemies, etc. were names by which the apostles in  their writings were wont to dignify and distinguish the heathen world, in opposition to  the Jews; and that in this sense these appellations are to be taken in their epistles, and in  this place in particular [Page 114-120. See also Dr. T.s Paraph. and notes on the place.].  And it is observable, that this way of interpreting these phrases in the apostolic writings  is become fashionable with many late writers; whereby they not only evade several clear  testimonies to the doctrine of original sin, but make void great part of the New  Testament; on which account it deserves the more particular consideration.

It is allowed to have been long common and customary among the Jews, especially  the sect of the Pharisees, in their pride, and confidence in their privileges as the peculiar  people of God, to exalt themselves exceedingly above other nations, and greatly to  despise the Gentiles, calling them by such names as sinners, enemies, dogs, etc.  Themselves they accounted, in general (excepting the publicans, and the notoriously  profligate), as the friends, the special favorites and children, of God; because they were  the children of Abraham, were circumcised, and had the law of Moses, as their peculiar  privilege, and as a wall of partition between them and the Gentiles.

But it is very remarkable, that a Christian divine, who has studied the New  Testament, and the epistle to the Romans in particular, so diligently as Dr. T. has done,  should so strongly imagine that the apostles of Jesus Christ countenance and cherish  these self-exalting, uncharitable dispositions and notions of the Jews which gave rise to  such a custom, so far as to fall in with that custom, and adopt that language of their pride  and contempt; and especially that the apostle Paul should do it. It is a most unreasonable  imagination on many accounts.

1. The whole gospel dispensation is calculated entirely to overthrow and abolish  everything to which this self-distinguishing, self-exalting language of the Jews was  owing. It was calculated wholly to exclude such boasting, and to destroy the pride and  self-righteousness which were the causes of it. It was calculated to abolish the enmity,  and break down the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles, and of twain, to make one  new man, so making peace: to destroy all dispositions in nations and particular persons  to despise one another, or to say one to another, Stand by thyself, come not near to me;  for I am holier than thou; and to establish the contrary principles of humility, mutual  esteem, honor and love, and universal union, in the most firm and perfect manner.

2. Christ, when on earth, set himself, through the whole course of his ministry, to  militate against this pharisaical spirit, practice, and language of the Jews; by which they  showed so much contempt of the Gentiles, publicans, and such as were openly lewd and  vicious, and thus exalted themselves above them; calling them sinners and enemies, and  themselves holy, and Gods children; not allowing the Gentile to be their neighbor, etc.  He condemned the Pharisees for not esteeming themselves sinners, as well as the  publicans; trusting in themselves that they were righteous, and despising others. He  militated against these things in his own treatment of some Gentiles, publicans, and  others, whom they called sinners, and in what he said on those occasions (Mat. 8:5-13;  Chap. 9:9-13; Chap. 11:19-24; Chap. 15:21-28; Luke 7:37 to the end; Chap. 17:12-19;  Chap. 19:1-10; John 4:9, etc.; verse 39, etc. Compare Luke 10:29, etc.).

He opposed these notions and manners of the Jews in his parables (Mat. 21:28-32;  Chap. 22:1-10; Luke 14:16-24. Compare Luke 13:28, 29, 30), and in his instructions to  his disciples how to treat the unbelieving Jews (Mat. 10:14, 15); and in what he says to  Nicodemus about the necessity of a new birth, even for the Jews, as well as the unclean  Gentiles with regard to their proselytism, which some of the Jews looked upon as a new  birth. And in opposition to their notions on their being the children of God, because the  children of Abraham, but the Gentiles by nature sinners and children of wrath, he tells  them that even they were children of the devil.  

3. Though we should suppose the apostles not to have been thoroughly brought off  from such notions, manners, and language of the Jews, till after Christs ascension; yet  after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, or at least, after the calling of  the Gentiles, begun in the conversion of Cornelius, they were fully instructed in this  matter, and effectually taught no longer to call the Gentiles unclean, as a note of  distinction from the Jews, Acts 10:28, which was before any of the apostolic epistles  were written.

4. Of all the apostles, none were more perfectly instructed in this matter, than Paul,  and none so abundant in instructing others in it, as this great apostle of the Gentiles.  None of the apostles had so much occasion to exert themselves against the  forementioned notions and language of the Jews, in opposition to Jewish teachers and  judaizing Christians who strove to keep up the separation-wall between Jews and  Gentiles, and to exalt the former, and set at nought the latter.

5. This apostle, in his epistle to the Romans, above all his other writings, exerts  himself in a most elaborate manner, and with his utmost skill and power, to bring the  Jewish Christians off from everything of this kind. He endeavors by all means that there  might no longer be in them any remains of these old notions, in which they had been  educated, or such a great distinction between Jews and Gentiles, as were expressed in the  names they used to distinguish them by; the Jews, holy children of Abraham, friends and  children of God; but the Gentiles, sinners, unclean, enemies, and the like. He makes it  almost his whole business, from the beginning of the epistle, Rom. 5:6, etc. to convince  them that there was no ground for any such distinction, and to prove that in common,  both Jews and Gentiles, all were desperately wicked, and none righteous, no not one. He  tells them, Rom. 3:9, that the Jews were by no means better than the Gentiles; and (in  what follows in that chapter) that there was no difference between Jews and Gentiles;  and represents all as without strength, or any sufficiency of their own in the affair of  justification and redemption. And in the continuation of the same discourse, in the 4th  chapter, he teaches that all who were justified by Christ, were in themselves ungodly;  and that being the children of Abraham was not peculiar to the Jews. In this 5th chapter  still in continuation of the same discourse on the same subject and argument of  justification through Christ, and by faith in him he speaks of Christ dying for the  ungodly and sinners, and those who were without strength or sufficiency for their own  salvation, as he had done all along before. But now, it seems, the apostle by sinners and  ungodly, must not be understood according as he used these words before; but must be  supposed to mean only the Gentiles as distinguished from the Jews; adopting the  language of those self-righteous, self-exalting, disdainful judaizing teachers, whom he  was with all his might opposing: countenancing the very same thing in them, which he  had been from the beginning of the epistle discountenancing, and endeavoring to  discourage, and utterly to abolish, with all his art and strength.

One reason why the Jews looked on themselves better than the Gentiles, and called  themselves holy, and the Gentiles sinners, was, that they had the law of Moses. They  made their boast of the law. But the apostle shows them, that this was so far from  making them better, that it condemned them, and was an occasion of their being sinners,  in a higher degree, and more aggravated manner, and more effectually and dreadfully  dead in sin (See Rom. 7:4-13, agreeably to those words of Christ, John 5:45).

It cannot be justly objected here, that this apostle did, in fact, use this language, and  call the gentiles sinners, in contradistinction to the Jews, in what he said to Peter, Gal.  2:15, 16, We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a  man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. It is true, that  the apostle here refers to this distinction, as what was usually made by the self-righteous  Jews, between themselves and the Gentiles; but not in such a manner as to adopt, or  favor it; but on the contrary, so as plainly to show his disapprobation of it; q.d. Though  we were born Jews, and by nature are of that people which are wont to make their boast  of the law, expecting to be justified by it, and trust in themselves that they are righteous,  despising others, calling the Gentiles sinners, in distinction from themselves; yet we  being now instructed in the gospel of Christ, know better; we now know that a man is  not justified by the works of the law; that we are all justified only by faith in Christ, in  whom there is no difference, no distinction of Greek or Gentile, and Jew, but all are one  in Christ Jesus. And this is the very thing he there speaks of, which he blamed Peter for;  that by his withdrawing and separating himself from the Gentiles, refusing to eat with  them, etc. he had countenanced this self-exalting, self-distinguishing, separating spirit  and custom of the Jews, whereby they treated the Gentiles, as in a distinguishing manner  sinners and unclean, and not fit to come near them who were a holy people.

6. The very words of the apostle in this place, show plainly, that he uses the term  sinners, not as signifying Gentiles, in opposition to Jews, but as denoting the morally  evil, in opposition to such as are righteous or good. This latter distinction between  sinners and righteous is here expressed in plain terms. Scarcely for a righteous man  will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die; but God  commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  By righteous men are doubtless meant the same that are meant by such a phrase,  throughout this apostles writings, throughout the New Testament, and throughout the  Bible. Will anyone pretend, that by the righteous man, for whom men would scarcely  die, and by the good man, for whom perhaps some might even dare to die, is meant a  Jew? Dr. T. himself does not explain it so, in his exposition of this epistle; and therefore  is not very consistent with himself, in supposing, that in the other part of the distinction  the apostle means Gentiles, as distinguished from the Jews. The apostle himself had been  laboring abundantly, in the preceding part of the epistle, to prove, that the Jews were  sinners in opposition to righteous; that all had sinned, that all were under sin, and  therefore could not be justified, could not be accepted as righteous, by their own  righteousness.

7. Another thing which makes it evident that the apostle, when he speaks in this  place of the sinners and enemies for whom Christ died, does not mean only the Gentiles,  is, that he includes himself among them, saying, while WE were sinners, and when we  were enemies.

Our author from time to time says, the apostle, though he speaks only of the  Gentiles in their heathen state, yet puts himself with them, because he was the apostle of  the Gentiles. But this is very unreasonable. There is no more sense in it, than there would  be in a father ranking himself among his children, when speaking to his children of the  benefits they have by being begotten by himself; and saying, We children. Or in a  physician ranking himself with his patients, when talking to them of their diseases and  cure; saying, We sick folks. Paul being the apostle of the Gentiles to save them from their  heathenism, is so far from being a reason for him to reckon himself among the heathen,  that on the contrary, it is the very thing that would render it in a peculiar manner  unnatural and absurd for him so to do. Because, as the apostle of the Gentiles, he appears  as their healer and deliverer from heathenism; and therefore in that capacity, in a  peculiar manner, appears in his distinction from the heathen, and in opposition to the  state of heathenism. For it is by the most opposite qualities only, that he is fitted to be an  apostle of the heathen, and recoverer from heathenism. As the clear light of the sun is  what makes it a proper restorative from darkness; and, therefore, the sun being spoken of  as such a remedy, none would suppose to be a good reason why it should be ranked  among dark things. Besides, the apostle, in this epistle, expressly ranks himself with the  Jews when he speaks of them as distinguished from the Gentiles; as in Rom. 3:9, What  then? are we better than they? That is, are we Jews better than the Gentiles?

It cannot justly be alleged in opposition to this, that the apostle Peter puts himself  with the heathen, 1 Pet. 4:3, For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought  the will of the Gentiles; when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine,  revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries. For the apostle Peter (who by the  way was not an apostle of the Gentiles) here does not speak of himself as one of the  heathen, but as one of the church of Christ in general, made up of those who had been  Jews, proselytes, and heathens, who were now all one body, of which body he was a  member. It is this society, therefore, and not the Gentiles, that he refers to in the pronoun  US. He is speaking of the wickedness that the members of this body or society had lived  in before their conversion; not that every member had lived in all those vices here  mentioned, but some in one, others in another. Very parallel is the passage with that of  the apostle Paul to Titus: Tit. 3:3, For we ourselves also (i.e. we of the Christian  church) were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and  pleasures, (some one lust and pleasure, others another), living in malice, envy, hateful,  and hating one another, etc. There is nothing in this, but what is very natural. That the  apostle, speaking to the Christian church, and of that church, confessing its former sins,  should speak of himself as one of that society, and yet mention some sins that he  personally had not been guilty of, and among others, heathenish idolatry, is quite a  different thing from what it would have been for the apostle, expressly distinguishing  those of the Christians, which had been heathen, from those which had been Jews, to  have ranked himself with the former, though he was truly of the latter.

If a minister in some congregation in England, speaking in a sermon of the sins of  the nation, being himself of the nation should say, We have greatly corrupted ourselves,  and provoked God by our deism, blasphemy, profane swearing, lasciviousness,  venality, etc. speaking in the first person plural, though he himself never had been a  deist, and perhaps none of his hearers, and they might also have been generally free from  other sins he mentioned; yet there would be nothing unnatural in his thus expressing  himself. But it would be quite a different thing, if one part of the British dominions,  suppose our kings American dominions, had universally apostatized from Christianity  to deism, and had long been in such a state, and if one who had been born and brought  up in England among Christians, the country being universally Christian, should be sent  among them to show them the folly and great evil of deism, and convert them to  Christianity; and this missionary, when making a distinction between English Christians,  and these deists, should rank himself with the latter, and say, WE American deists, WE  foolish blind infidels, etc. This indeed would be very unnatural and absurd.

Another passage of the apostle, to the like purpose with that which we have been  considering in the 5th of Romans, is that in Eph. 2:3 And were by nature children of  wrath, even as others. This remains a plain testimony to the doctrine of original sin, as  held by those who used to be called orthodox Christians, after all the pains and art used  to torture and pervert it. This doctrine is here not only plainly and fully taught, but  abundantly so, if we take the words with the context; where Christians are once and  again represented as being, in their first state, dead in sin, and as quickened and raised  up from such a state of death, in a most marvelous display of free rich grace and love,  and exceeding greatness of Gods power, etc.

With respect to those words ( ), We were by nature children  of wrath, Dr. T. Says, p. 112-114. The apostle means no more by this, than truly or  really children of wrath; using a metaphorical expression, borrowed from the word that  is used to signify a true and genuine child of a family, in distinction from one that is a  child only by adoption. In which it is owned, that the proper sense of the phrase is,  being a child by nature, in the same sense as a child by birth or natural generation; but  only he supposes, that here the word is used metaphorically. The instance he produces as  parallel, to confirm his supposed metaphorical sense of the phrase, as meaning only  truly, really, or properly children of wrath, viz. the apostle Pauls calling Timothy his  own son in faith ( ) is so far from confirming his sense, that it is rather directly  against it. For doubtless the apostle uses the word here () in its original  signification, meaning his begotten son; being the adjective from , offspring,  or the verb (, to beget; as much as to say, Timothy my begotten son in the faith. For  as there are two ways of being begotten, one natural, and the other spiritual; the first  generation, and regeneration; so the apostle expressly signifies which of these he means  in this place, Timothy my begotten son IN THE FAITH, in the same manner as he says to  the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 4:15, In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.  To say, the apostle uses the word, , in Eph. 2:3 only as signifying real, true, and  proper, is a most arbitrary interpretation, having nothing to warrant it in the whole Bible.  The word is no where used in this sense in the New Testament. (The following are  all the other places where the word is used, Rom. 1:26; 2:14, 27; 11:21, 24, thrice in that  verse; 1 Cor. 11:14; Gal. 2:15, 4:8; Jam. 3:7, twice in that verse; and 2 Pet. 1:4.)

Another thing which our author alleges to evade the force of this, is, that the word  rendered nature, sometimes signifies habit contracted by custom, or an acquired nature.  But this is not its proper meaning. And it is plain, the word in its common use, in the  New Testament, signifies what we properly express in English by the word nature.  There is but one place where there can be the least pretext for supposing it to be used  otherwise; and that is 1 Cor. 11:14, Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man  have long hair, it is a shame unto him? And even here there is, I think, no manner of  reason for understanding nature otherwise than in the proper sense. The emphasis used  ( ) nature ITSELF, shows that the apostle does not mean custom, but  nature in the proper sense. It is true, it was long custom which made having the head  covered a token of subjection, and a feminine appearance; as it is custom that makes any  outward action or word a sign or signification of anything. But nature itself, nature in its  proper sense, teaches, that it is a shame for a man to appear with the established signs of  the female sex, and with significations of inferiority, etc. As nature itself shows it to be a  shame for a father to bow down or kneel to his own child or servant, or for men to bow  to an idol, because bowing down is by custom an established token or sign of subjection  and submission. Such a sight therefore would be unnatural, shocking to a mans very  nature. So nature would teach, that it is a shame for a woman to use such and such  lascivious words or gestures, though it be custom that establishes the unclean  signification of those gestures and sounds.

It is particularly unnatural and unreasonable, to understand the phrase (  ) in this place, any otherwise than in the proper sense, on the following accounts.  1. It may be observed, that both the words, and , in their original  signification, have reference to birth or generation. So the word , from , which  signifies to beget or bring forth young, or to bud forth, as a plant, that brings forth young  buds and branches. And so the word comes from , which signifies to bring  forth children. 2. As though the apostle took care by the word used here, to signify  what we are by birth, he changes the word he used before for children. In the preceding  verse he used , speaking of the children of disobedience; but here , which is a  word derived, as observed, from , to bring forth a child, and more properly  signifies a begotten or born child. 3. It is natural to suppose that the apostle here  speaks in opposition to the pride of some, especially the Jews (for the church in Ephesus  was made up partly of Jews, as well as the church in Rome), who exalted themselves in  the privileges they had by birth, because they were born the children of Abraham, and  were Jews by nature, , as the phrase is, Gal. 2:15. In opposition to this  proud conceit, he teaches the Jews, that notwithstanding this they were by nature  children of wrath, even as others, i.e. as well as the Gentiles, which the Jews had been  taught to look upon as sinners, and out of favor with God by nature, and born children of  wrath. 4. It is more plain, that the apostle uses the word nature in its proper sense  here, because he sets what they were by nature in opposition to what they are by grace.  In this verse, the apostle shows what they are by nature, viz. children of wrath; and in the  following verses he shows, how very different their state is by grace; saying, Eph. 2:5,  By grace ye are saved; repeating it again, verse 8, By grace ye are saved. But if, by  being children of wrath by nature, were meant no more than only their being really and  truly children of wrath, as Dr. T. supposes, there would be no opposition in the  signification of these phrases; for in this sense they were by nature in a state of salvation,  as much as by nature children of wrath; for they were truly, really, and properly in a  state of salvation.

If we take these words with the context, the whole abundantly proves, that by nature  we are totally corrupt, without any good thing in us. For if we allow the plain scope of  the place, without attempting to hide it by doing extreme violence to the apostles words,  the design here is strongly to establish this point; that what Christians have that is good  in them, or in their state, is in no part of it naturally in themselves, or from themselves,  but is wholly from divine grace, all the gift of God, and his workmanship, the effect of  his power, his free and wonderful love. None of our good works are primarily from  ourselves, but with respect to them all, we are Gods workmanship, created unto good  works, as it were out of nothing. Not so much as faith itself, the first principle of good  works in Christians, is of themselves, but that is the gift of God. Therefore the apostle  compares the work of God, in forming Christians to true virtue and holiness, not only to  a new creation, but a resurrection, or raising from the dead. Eph. 2:1, You hath he  quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. And again, verse 5, Even when we  were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. In speaking of Christians  being quickened with Christ, the apostle has reference to what he had said before, in the  latter part of the foregoing chapter, of God manifesting the exceeding greatness of his  power towards Christian converts in their conversion, agreeable to the operation of his  mighty power, when he raised Christ from the dead. So that it is plain by everything in  this discourse, the apostle would signify, that by nature we have no goodness; but are as  destitute of it as a dead corpse is of life. And that all goodness, all good works, and faith  the principle of all, are perfectly the gift of Gods grace, and the work of his great,  almighty, and exceeding excellent power. I think, there can be need of nothing but  reading the chapter, and minding what is read, to convince all who have common  understanding, of this; whatever any of the most subtle critics have done, or ever can do,  to twist, rack, perplex, and pervert the words and phrases here used.

Dr. T. here again insists, that the apostle speaks only of the Gentiles in their heathen  state, when he speaks of those that were dead in sin, and by nature children of wrath;  and that though he seems to include himself among those, saying, WE were by nature  children of wrath, WE were dead in sins; yet he only puts himself among them because  he was the apostle of the Gentiles. The gross absurdity of this may appear from what was  said before. But besides the things which have been already observed, there are some  things which make it peculiarly unreasonable to understand it so here. It is true, the  greater part of the church of Ephesus had been heathens, and therefore the apostle often  has reference to their heathen state, in this epistle. But the words in this Eph. 2:3 plainly  show, that he means himself and other Jews in distinction from the Gentiles; for the  distinction is fully expressed. After he had told the Ephesians, who had been generally  heathen, that they had been dead in sin, and had walked according to the course of this  world, etc. (verse 1 and 2) he makes a distinction, and says, among whom we also had  our conversation, etc. and were by nature children of wrath, even as others. Here first  he changes the person; whereas, before he had spoken in the second person, ye were  dead, ye in time past walked, etc. now he changes style, and uses the first person, in  a most manifest distinction, among whom WE ALSO, that is, we Jews, as well as ye  Gentiles: not only changing the person, but adding a particle of distinction, also; which  would be nonsense, if he meant the same without distinction. And besides all this, more  fully to express the distinction, the apostle further adds a pronoun of distinction; WE  also, even as OTHERS, or we as well as others: most evidently having respect to the  notions, so generally entertained by the Jews, of their being much better than the  Gentiles, in being Jews by nature, children of Abraham, and children of God; when they  supposed the Gentiles to be utterly cast off, as born aliens, and by nature children of  wrath: in opposition to this, the apostle says, We Jews, after all our glorying in our  distinction, were by nature children of wrath, as well as the rest of the world. And a yet  further evidence, that the apostle here means to include the Jews, and even himself, is the  universal term he uses, Among whom also we ALL had our conversation, etc. Though  wickedness was supposed by the Jews to be the course of this world, as to the generality  of mankind, yet they supposed themselves an exempt people, at least the Pharisees, and  the devout observers of the law of Moses and traditions of the elders; whatever might be  thought of publicans and harlots. But in opposition to this, the apostle asserts, that they  all were no better by nature than others, but were to be reckoned among the children of  disobedience, and children of wrath.

Besides, if the apostle chooses to put himself among the Gentiles, because he was  the apostle of the Gentiles, I would ask, why does he not do so in the 11th verse of the  same chapter (Eph. 2:11), where he speaks of the Gentile state expressly? Remember  that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh. Why does he here make a distinction  between the Gentiles and himself? Why did he not say, Let us remember, that we being  in time past Gentiles? And why does the same apostle, even universally, make the same  distinction, speaking either in the second or third person, and never in the first, where he  expressly speaks of the Gentilism of those of whom he wrote, or of whom he speaks,  with reference to their distinction from the Jews? So everywhere in this same epistle; as  in chap. 1:12, 13, where the distinction is made just in the same manner as here, by the  change of the person, and by the distinguishing particle, also: That we should be to the  praise of his glory who first trusted in Christ (the first believers in Christ being of the  Jews, before the Gentiles were called), in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the  word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. And in all the following part of this second  chapter, as Eph. 2:11, 17, 19, and 22 in which last verse the same distinguishing particle  again is used; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through  the Spirit (See also the following chapters, Eph. 3:6 and 4:17. And not only in this  epistle, but constantly in other epistles; as Rom. 1:12, 13; chap. 11:13, 14, 17-25, 28, 30,  31; chap. 15:15, 16; 1 Cor. 12:2; Gal. 4:8; Col. 1:27; chap. 2:13; 1 Thes. 1:5, 6, 9; chap.  2:13, 14, 15, 16.)

Though I am far from thinking our authors exposition of the 7th chap. of Romans to  be in any wise agreeable to the true sense of the apostle, yet it is needless here to stand  particularly to examine it; because the doctrine of original sin may be argued not the less  strongly, though we should allow the thing wherein he mainly differs from such as he  opposes in his interpretation, viz. That the apostle does not speak in his own name, or to  represent the state of a true Christian, but as representing the state of the Jews under the  law. For even on this supposition, the drift of the place will prove, that everyone who is  under the law, and with equal reason everyone of mankind, is carnal, sold under sin, in  his first state, and till delivered by Christ. For it is plain, that the apostles design is to  show the insufficiency of the law to give life to anyone whatsoever. This appears by  what he says when he comes to draw his conclusion, in the continuation of this  discourse, Rom. 8:3.  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the  flesh, God sending his own Son, etc. Our author supposes what is here spoken of, viz.  that the law cannot give life, because it is weak through the flesh, is true with respect  to every one of mankind (See note on Rom. 5:20). And when the apostle gives this  reason, in that it is weak through the flesh, it is plain, that by the flesh, which here he  opposes to the spirit, he means the same thing which in the preceding part of the same  discourse, in the foregoing chapter, he had called by the name flesh, Rom. 7:5, 14, 18  and the law of the members, verse 23 and the body of death, verse 24. This is what,  through this chapter, he insists on as the grand hindrance why the law could not give life;  just as he does in his conclusion, Rom. 8:3. Which, in his last place, is given as a reason  why the law cannot give life to any of mankind. And it being the same reason of the  same thing, spoken of in the same discourse, in the former part of it this last place  being the conclusion, of which that former part is the premises and inasmuch as the  reason there given is being in the flesh, and being carnal, sold under sin: therefore,  taking the whole of the apostles discourse, this is justly understood to be a reason why  the law cannot give life to any of mankind; and consequently, that all mankind are in the  flesh, and are carnal, sold under sin, and so remain till delivered by Christ: and  consequently, all mankind in their first original state are very sinful; which was the thing  to be proved.

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