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Adam's first sin to his posterity, without owning that they are justly treated as sinners, truly guilty, and children of wrath, on that account; nor unless they allow a just imputation of the whole of the evil of that transgression; at least all that pertains to the essence of that act, as a full and complete violation of the covenant which God had established; even as much as if each one of mankind had the like covenant established with him singly, and had by the like direct and full act of rebellion, violated it for himself.
Wherein several other Objections are considered.
DR. T. objects against Adam's posterity being supposed to come into the world under a forfeiture of God's blessing, and subject to his curse through his sin,-That at the restoration of the world after the flood, God pronounced equivalent or greater blessings on Noah and his sons, than he did on Adam at his creation, when he said, "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and have dominion over the fish of the sea," &c.*-To this I answer in the following remarks.
1. As it has been already shewn, that in the threatening denounced for Adam's sin, there was nothing which appears inconsistent with the continuance of this present life for a season, or with propagating his kind; so for the like reason, there appears nothing in that threatening, upon the supposition that it reached Adam's posterity, inconsistent with enjoying the temporal blessings of the present life, as long as this is continued; even those temporal blessings which God pronounced on Adam at his first creation. For it must be observed, that the blessings which God pronounced on Adam when he created him, and before the trial of his obedience, were not the same with the blessings which were suspended on his obedience. The blessings thus suspended, were the blessings of eternal life; which, if he had maintained his integrity through his trial, would have been pronounced upon him afterwards; when God as his judge should have given him his reward. God might indeed, if he had pleased, immediately have deprived him of life, and of all temporal blessings given him before. But those blessings pronounced on him beforehand, were not the things for the obtaining of which his trial was appointed. These were reserved till the issue of his trial should be seen, and then to be
* See page 82, &c. S.
pronounced in the blessed sentence, which would have been passed upon him by his judge, when God came to decree to him his reward for his approved fidelity. The pronouncing of these latter blessings on a degenerate race, that had failen under the threatening denounced, would indeed (without a redemption) have been inconsistent with the constitution which had been established. But giving them the former kind of blessings, which were not the things suspended on the trial, or dependent on his fidelity (and these to be continued for a season) was not at all inconsistent therewith.
2. It is no more an evidence of Adam's posterity being not included in the threatening denounced for his eating the forbidden fruit, that they still have the temporal blessings of fruitfulness, and a dominion over the creatures continued to them, than it is an evidence of Adam being not included in that threatening himself, that he had these blessings continued to him, was fruitful, and had dominion over the creatures after his fall, equally with his posterity.
3. There is good evidence that the benedictions God pronounced on Noah and his posterity, were granted on a new foundation; a dispensation diverse from any grant, promise, or revelation which God gave to Adam, antecedently to his fall; even on the foundation of the covenant of grace established in Christ Jesus; a dispensation, the design of which is to deliver men from the curse that came upon them by Adam's sin, and to bring them to greater blessing than ever he had.— These blessings were pronounced on Noah and his seed, on the same foundation whereon afterwards the blessing was pronounced on Abraham and his seed, which included both spiritual and temporal benefits.-Noah had his name prophetically given him by his father Lamech, because by him and his seed deliverance should be obtained from the curse which came by Adam's fall. Gen. v. 29. "And he called his name NOAH (i. e. REST) saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work, and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." Pursuant to the scope and intent of this prophecy (which indeed seems to respect the same thing with the. prophecy in Gen. iii. 15.) are the blessings pronounced on Noah after the flood. There is this evidence of these blessings being conveyed through the channel of the covenant of grace, and by the redemption through Jesus Christ, that they were obtained by sacrifice; or were bestowed as the effect of God's favour to mankind, which was in consequence of "smelling a sweet savour" in the sacrifice which Noah offered. And it is very evident by the epistle to the Hebrews, that the ancient sacrifices never obtained the favour of God, but only by virtue of the relation they had to the sacrifice of Christ.-Now that Noah and his family had been so wonderfully saved from the
wrath of God, which had destroyed the rest of the world, and the world was as it were restored from a ruined state, there was a proper occasion to point to the great salvation to come by Christ: As it was a common thing for God, on occasion of some great temporal salvation of his people, or restoration from a low and miserable state, to renew the intimations of the great spiritual restoration of the world by Christ's Redemption.* God deals with the generality of mankind in their present state, far differently, on occasion of the redemption by Jesus Christ, from what he otherwise would do: For, being capable subjects of saving mercy, they have a day of patience and grace, and innumerable temporal blessings bestowed on them; which, as the Apostle signifies (Acts xiv. 17.) are testimonies of God's reconcileableness to sinful men, to put them upon seeking after God.
But beside the sense in which the posterity of Noah in general partake of these blessings of dominion over the creatures, &c. Noah himself, and all such of his posterity as have obtained like precious faith with that exercised by him in offering his sacrifice, which made it a sweet savour, and by which it procured these blessings, have dominion over the creatures, through Christ, in a more excellent sense than Adam in innocency; as they are "made kings and priests unto God, and reign with Christ," and "all things are theirs," by a covenant of Grace. They partake with Christ in that " dominion over the beasts of the earth, the fowls of the air, and fishes of the sea," spoken of in the 8th Psalm; which is by the Apostle interpreted of Christ's dominion over the world, (1 Cor. xv. 27. and Heb. ii. 7.) And the time is coming, when the greater part of the posterity of Noah, and each of his sons, shall partake of this more honourable and excellent dominion over the creatures, through him" in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Neither is there any need of supposing that these blessings have their most complete accomplishment, till many ages after they were granted, any more than the blessing on Japhet, expressed in those words, "God shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem."
But that Noah's posterity have such blessings given them through the great Redeemer, who suspends and removes the curse which came through Adam's sin, surely is no argument, that they originally, as in their natural state, are not under the curse. That men have blessings through grace, is no evidence of their being not justly exposed to the curse by nature; but it rather argues the contrary. For if they did not deserve the curse, they would not depend on grace and redemption for
It may be noted, that Dr. T. himself signifies it as his mind, that these blessings on Noah were on account of the covenant of grace, p. 84, 90, 91, 92, S.
the removal of it, and for bringing them into a state of favour with God.
Another objection, which our author strenuously urges against the doctrine of original sin, is, that it disparages the divine goodness in giving us our being which we ought to receive with thankfulness, as a great gift of God's beneficence, and look upon as the first, original and fundamental fruit of the divine liberality.*
To this I answer in the following observations:
1. This argument is built on the supposed truth of a thing in dispute; and so is a begging of the question. It is built on this supposition, that we are not properly looked upon as one with our first father, in the state wherein God at first created him, and in his fall from that state. If we are so, it becomes the whole race to acknowledge God's great goodness to them, in the state wherein mankind was made at first; in the happy state they were then in, and the fair opportunity they then had of obtaining confirmed and eternal happiness; and to acknowledge it as an aggravation of their apostacy; and to humble themselves, that they were so ungrateful as to rebel against their good Creator. Certainly we may all do this with as much reason, as the people of Israel in Daniel's and Nehemiah's times, who did with thankfulness acknowledge God's great goodness to their fathers, many ages before; and in their confessions they bewailed, and took shame to themselves, for the sins committed by their fathers, notwithstanding such great goodness. (See the 9th chapter of Daniel, and the ixth of Nehemiah.)
2. If Dr. T. would imply in his objection, that it doth not consist with the goodness of God, to give mankind being in a state of misery, whatever was done before by Adam, whether he sinned or did not sin. I reply, if it be justly so ordered, that there should be a posterity of Adam which must be looked upon as one with him; then it is no more contrary to God's attribute of goodness to give being to his posterity in a state of punishment, than to continue the being of the same wicked and guilty person, who has made himself guilty, in a state of punishment. The giving of being, and the continuing of being, are both alike the work of God's power and will, and both are alike fundamental to all blessings of man's present and future existence. And if it be said, it cannot be justly so ordered, that there should be a posterity of Adam which should be looked upon as one with him, this is begging the question.
3. If our author would have us to suppose that it is contrary to the attribute of goodness for God, in any case, by an immediate act of his power, to cause existence, and to cause * Page 256, 357, 260, 71-74. S.
new existence, which shall be an exceeding miserable existence, by reason of exposedness to eternal ruin; then his own scheme must be supposed contrary to the attribute of God's goodness: For he supposes, that God will raise multitudes from the dead at the last day (which will be giving new existence to their bodies, and to bodily life and sense) in order only to their suffering eternal destruction.
4. Notwithstanding we are so sinful and miserable as we are by nature, yet we may have great reason to bless God, that he has given us our being under so glorious a dispensation of grace through Jesus Christ; by which we have a happy opportunity to be delivered from this sin and misery, and to obtain unspeakable eternal happiness. And because through our own wicked inclinations, we are disposed so to neglect and abuse this mercy, as to fail of final benefit by it, this is no reason why we ought not to be thankful for it, even according to our author's own sentiments. What (says he*) if the whole world lies in wickedness, and few therefore shall be saved? Have men no reason to be thankful, because they are wicked and ungrateful, and abuse their being and God's bounty? Suppose our own evil inclinations do withhold us, viz. from seeking after happiness, of which under the light of the gospel we are placed within the nearer and easier reach; " suppose the whole Christian world should lie in wickedness, and but few Christians should be saved, is it therefore certainly true, that we cannot reasonably thank God for the gospel?" Well, and though the evil inclinations, which hinder our seeking and obtaining happiness by so glorious an advantage, are what we are born with, yet if those inclinations are our fault or sin, that alters not the case; and to say they are not our sin, is still begging the question. Yea, it will follow from several things asserted by our author, that notwithstanding men are born in such circumstances as that they are under a very great improbability of ever becoming righteous, yet they may have reason to be thankful for their being. Thus particularly, Dr. T. asserts, that all men have reason of thankfulness for their being; and yet he supposes that the heathen world, taken as a collective body, were dead in sin, and could not deliver or help themselves, and therefore stood in necessity of the Christian dispensation. And not only so, but he supposes that the Christian world is now at length brought to the like deplorable and helpless circumstances, and needs a new dispensation for its relief. According to these things, the world in general, not only formerly but even at this day, are dead in sin, and helpless as to their salvation; and therefore the generality of them that are born into it, are much more likely to perish, than otherwise, till the new dispensation comes: And yet he supposes we all have reason to be thankful for our being. Yea, further still, I think ac* Page 72, 73. S.