THE EVIDENCE GIVEN US, RELATIVE TO THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN, IN WHAT THE SCRIPTURES REVEAL CONCERNING THE REDEMPTION BY CHRIST
THE EVIDENCE OF ORIGINAL SIN, FROM THE NATURE OF REDEMPTION, IN THE PROCUREMENT OF IT
ACCORDING to Dr. T.’s scheme, a very great part of mankind are the subjects of Christ’s redemption, who live and die perfectly innocent, who never have had, and never will have, any sin charged to their account, and never are exposed to any punishment whatsoever, viz. all that die in infancy. They are the subjects of Christ’s redemption, as he redeems them from death, or as they by his righteousness have justification, and by his obedience are made righteous, in the resurrection of the body, in the sense of Rom. 5:18, 19. And all mankind are thus the subjects of Christ’s redemption, while they are perfectly guiltless, and exposed to no punishment, as by Christ they are entitled to a resurrection. Though, with respect to such persons as have sinned, he allows it is in some sort by Christ and his death, that they are saved from sin, and the punishment of it.
Now let us see whether such a scheme well consists with the scripture-account of the redemption by Jesus Christ.
I. The representations of the redemption by Christ, everywhere in Scripture, lead us to suppose, that all whom he came to redeem are sinners; that his salvation, as to the term from which (or the evil to be redeemed from), in all, is sin, and the deserved punishment of sin. It is natural to suppose, that when he had his name Jesus, or Savior, given him by God’s special and immediate appointment, the salvation meant by that name should be his salvation in general; and not only a part of his salvation, and with regard only to some of them whom he came to save. But this name was given him to signify “his saving his people from their sins,” Mat. 1:21. And the great doctrine of Christ’s salvation is, that “he came into the world to save sinners,” 1 Tim. 1:15. And that “Christ hath once suffered, the just for the unjust,” 1 Pet. 3:18. “In this was manifested the love of God towards us (towards such in general as have the benefit of God’s love in giving Christ), that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, that he sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:9, 10. Many other texts might be mentioned, which seem evidently to suppose, that all who are redeemed by Christ are saved from SIN. We are led by what Christ himself said, to suppose, that if any are not sinners, they have no need of him as a Redeemer, any more than a man in health of a physician, Mark 2:17. And that, in order to our being the proper subjects of the mercy of God through Christ, we must first be in a state of sin, is implied in Gal. 3:22, “But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” To the same effect is Rom. 11:32.
These things are greatly confirmed by the scripture doctrine of sacrifices. It is abundantly plain, both from the Old and New Testament, that these were types of Christ’s death, and were for sin, and supposed sin in those for whom they were offered. The apostle supposes, that in order to any having the benefit of the eternal inheritance by Christ, there must of necessity be the death of the testator; and gives that reason for it, “That without shedding of blood there is no remission,” Heb. 9:15-18, etc. And Christ himself, in representing the benefit of his blood, in the institution of the Lord’s supper, under the notion of the blood of a testament, calls it, “The blood of the New Testament shed for the remission of sins,” Mat. 26:28. But according to the scheme of our author, many have the eternal inheritance by the death of the testator, who never had any need of remission.
II. The Scripture represents the redemption by Christ, as a redemption from deserved destruction; and that, not merely as it respects some particulars, but as the fruit of God’s love to mankind. John 3:16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only- begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life;” implying, that otherwise, they must perish, or be destroyed. But what necessity of this, if they did not deserve to be destroyed? Now, that the destruction here spoken of, is deserved destruction, is manifest, because it is there compared to the perishing of such of the children of Israel as died by the bite of the fiery serpents, which God in his wrath, for their rebellion sent amongst them. And the same thing clearly appears by the last verse of the same chapter, “He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” or, is left remaining on him: implying, that all in general are found under the wrath of God, and that they only of all mankind who are interested in Christ, have this wrath removed, and eternal life bestowed; the rest are left with the wrath of God still remaining on them. The same is clearly illustrated and confirmed by John 5:24, “He that believeth, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life.” In being passed from death to life is implied, that before, they were all in a state of death; and they are spoken of as being so by a sentence of condemnation; and if it be a just condemnation, it is a deserved condemnation.
III. It will follow on Dr. T.’s scheme, that Christ’s redemption, with regard to a great part of them who are the subjects of it, is not only a redemption from no sin, but from no calamity, and so from no evil of any kind. For as to death, which infants are redeemed from, they never were subjected to it as a calamity, but purely as a benefit. It came by no threatening or curse denounced upon or through Adam; the covenant with him being utterly abolished, as to all its force and power on mankind (according to our author), before the sentence of mortality. Therefore trouble and death could be appointed to innocent mankind no other way than on account of another covenant, the covenant of grace; and in this channel they come only as favors, not as evils. Therefore they could need no remedy, for they had no disease. Even death itself, which it is supposed Christ saves them from, is only a medicine; and one of the greatest of benefits. It is ridiculous to talk of persons’ needing a medicine, or a physician, to save them from an excellent medicine; or of a remedy from a happy remedy! If it be said, though death be a benefit, yet it is so because Christ changes it, and turns it into a benefit, by procuring a resurrection: I would ask, what can be meant by turning or changing it into a benefit, when it never was otherwise, nor could ever justly be otherwise? Infants could not at all be brought under death as a calamity; for they never deserved it. And it would be only an abuse (be it far from us, to ascribe such a thing to God) in any being, to offer any poor sufferers a Redeemer from a calamity which he had brought upon them, without the least desert of it on their part.
But it is plain, that mortality was not at first brought on mankind as a blessing, by the covenant of grace through Christ; and that Christ and grace do not bring mankind under death, but find them under it. 2 Cor. 5:14-15, “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” Luke 19:10, “The Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost.” The grace which appears in providing a deliverer from any state, supposes the subject to be in that state prior to his deliverance. In our author’s scheme, there never could be any sentence of death or condemnation, that requires a Savior from it; because the very sentence itself, according to the true meaning of it, implies and makes sure all that good, which is requisite to abolish and make void the seeming evil to the innocent subject. So that the sentence itself is in effect the deliverer; and there is no need of another to deliver from that sentence. Dr. T. insists upon it, that “nothing comes upon us in consequence of Adam’s sin, in any SENSE, KIND, or DEGREE, inconsistent with the original blessing pronounced on Adam at his creation; and nothing but what is perfectly consistent with God’s blessing, love, and goodness, declared to Adam as soon as he came out of his Maker’s hands.” (Page 88, 89 S) If the case be so, it is certain there is no evil or calamity at all for Christ to redeem us from; unless things agreeable to the divine goodness, love and blessing, are things from which we need redemption.
IV. It will follow, on our author’s principles, not only with respect to infants, but even adult persons, that redemption is needless, and Christ is dead in vain. Not only is there no need of Christ’s redemption in order to deliverance from any consequences of Adam’s sin, but also in order to perfect freedom from personal sin, and all its evil consequences. For God has made other sufficient provision for that, viz. a sufficient power and ability, in all mankind, to do all their duty, and wholly to avoid sin. Yea, he insists upon it, that “when men have not sufficient power to do their duty, they have no duty to do. We may safely and assuredly conclude (says he), that mankind in all parts of the world have SUFFICIENT power to do the duty which God requires of them; and that he requires of them NO MORE than they have SUFFICIENT powers to do” (page 111, 68, 64. S). And in another place (page 67. S), “God has given powers EQUAL to the duty which he expects.” And he expresses a great dislike at R. R.’s supposing, that our propensities to evil, and temptations, are too strong to be EFFECTUALLY and CONSTANTLY resisted; or that we are unavoidably sinful IN A DEGREE; that our appetites and passions will be breaking out, notwithstanding our everlasting watchfulness” (page 68. S). These things fully imply, that men have in their own natural ability sufficient means to avoid sin, and to be perfectly free from it; and so, from all the bad consequences of it. And if the means are sufficient, then there is no need of more; and therefore there is no need of Christ dying, in order to it. What Dr. T. says (p. 72. S) fully implies, that it would be unjust in God to give mankind being in such circumstances, as that they would be more likely to sin, so as to be exposed to final misery, than otherwise. Hence then, without Christ and his redemption, and without any grace at all, MERE JUSTICE makes sufficient provision for our being free from sin and misery, by our own power.
If all mankind, in all parts of the world, have such sufficient power to do their whole duty, without being sinful in any degree, then they have sufficient power to obtain righteousness by the law: and then, according to the apostle Paul, Christ is dead in vain. Gal. 2:21, “If righteousness come by law, Christ is dead in vain;” — äéá íïìïõ, without the article, by law, or the rule of right action, as our author explains the phrase [Pref. to Par. on Rom. p. 143, 38.]. And according to the sense in which he explains this very place, “it would have frustrated, or rendered useless, the grace of God, if Christ died to accomplish what was or MIGHT have been effected by law itself, without his death.” [Note on Rom. 5:20, p. 297.] So that it most clearly follows from his own doctrine, that Christ is dead in vain, and the grace of God is useless. The same apostle says, if there had been a law which COULD have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law, Gal. 3:21, i.e. (still according to Dr. T.’s own sense), if there was a law, that man, in his present state, had sufficient power perfectly to fulfill. For Dr. T. supposes the reason why the law could not give life, to be “not because it was weak in itself, but through the weakness of our flesh, and the infirmity of the human nature in the present state.” (Ibid.) But he says, “We are under a mild dispensation of GRACE, making allowance for our infirmities” (page 92. S). By our infirmities, we may upon good grounds suppose he means that infirmity of human nature, which he gives as the reason why the law cannot give life. But what grace is there in making that allowance for our infirmities, which justice itself (according to his doctrine) most absolutely requires, as he supposes divine justice exactly proportions our duty to our ability?
Again, if it be said, that although Christ’s redemption was not necessary to preserve men from beginning to sin, and getting into a course of sin, because they have sufficient power in themselves to avoid it; yet it may be necessary to deliver men, after they have by their own folly brought themselves under the dominion of evil appetites and passions. I answer, if it be so, that men need deliverance from those habits and passions, which are become too strong for them, yet that deliverance, on our author’s principles, would be no salvation from sin. For the exercise of passions which are too strong for us, and which we cannot overcome, is necessary: and he strongly urges, that a necessary evil can be no moral evil. It is true, it is the effect of evil, as it is the effect of a bad practice, while the man had power to have avoided it. But then according to Dr. T. that evil cause alone is in; for he says expressly, “The cause of every effect is alone from it.” (Page 128) And as to that sin which was the cause, the man needed no Savior from that, having had sufficient power in himself to have avoided it. So that it follows by our author’s scheme, that none of mankind, neither infants nor adult persons, neither the more nor less vicious, neither Jews nor Gentiles, neither heathens nor Christians, ever did or ever could stand in any need of a Savior; and that, with respect to all, the truth is, Christ is dead in vain.
If any should say, although all mankind in all ages have sufficient ability to do their whole duty, and so may by their own power enjoy perfect freedom from sin, yet God foresaw that they would sin, and that after they had sinned, they would need Christ’s death. I answer, it is plain, by what the apostle says in those places which were just now mentioned (Gal. 2:21 and 3:21) that God would have esteemed it needless to give his Son to die for men, unless there had been a prior impossibility of their having righteousness by any law; and that, if there had been a law which COULD have given life, this other way by the death of Christ would not have been provided. And this appears to be agreeable to our author’s own sense of things, by his words which have been cited, wherein he says, “It would have FRUSTRATED or rendered USELESS the grace of God, if Christ died to accomplish what was or MIGHT HAVE BEEN effected by law itself, without his death.”
V. It will follow on Dr. T.’s scheme, not only that Christ’s redemption is needless for saving from sin, or its consequences, but also that it does no good that way, has no tendency to any diminution of sin in the world. For as to any infusion of virtue or holiness in to the heart, by divine power through Christ or his redemption, it is altogether inconsistent with this author’s notions. With him, inwrought virtue, if there were any such thing, would be no virtue; not being the effect of our own will, choice, and design, but only of a sovereign act of God’s power (See p. 180, 245, 250). And therefore, all that Christ does to increase virtue, is only increasing our talents, our light, advantages, means, and motives; as he often explains the matter (In p. 44, 50 and innumerable other places). But sin is not at all diminished. For he says, our duty must be measured by our talents; as, a child that has less talents, has less duty; and therefore must be no more exposed to commit sin, than he that has greater talents; because he that has greater talents, has more duty required, in exact proportion (See page 234, 61, 64-72 S). If so, he that has but one talent, has as much advantage to perform that one degree of duty which is required of him, as he that has five talents, to perform his five degrees of duty, and is no more exposed to fail of it. And that man’s guilt, who sins against greater advantages, means, and motives, is greater in proportion to his talents (See Paraph. on Rom. 2:9, also on verse 12). And therefore it will follow, on Dr. T.’s principles, that men stand no better chance, have no more eligible or valuable probability of freedom from sin and punishment, or of contracting but little guilt, or of performing required duty, with the great advantages and talents implied in Christ’s redemption, than without them; when all things are computed, and put into the balances together, the numbers, degrees, and aggravations of sin exposed to, degrees of duty required, etc. So that men have no redemption from sin, and no new means of performing duty, that are valuable or worth anything at all. And thus the great redemption by Christ in every respect comes to nothing, with regard both to infants and adult persons.
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