Slike strani

think fit: And that this is the ground of the judgment to condemnation coming upon all men.*" But this is trifling to a great degree For,

1. Suffering death, and failing of possible existence, arc entirely different things. If there had never been any such thing as sin committed, there would have been infinite numbers of possible beings, which would have failed of existence by God's appointment. God has appointed (if the phrase be allowable) not to bring into existence numberless possible worlds, each replenished with innumerable possible inhabitants. But is this equivalent to God's appointing them all to suffer death?

2. Our author represents, that by Adam's sin, the possible existence of his posterity fell into the hands of the Judge, to be disposed of as he should think fit. But there was no need of any sin of Adam, or of any body else, in order to their being brought into God's hands, in this respect. The future possible existence of all created beings is in God's hands, antecedently to the existence of any sin. And therefore infinite numbers of possible beings, without any relation to Adam, or any other sinning being, fail of their possible existence. And if Adam had never sinned, yet it would be unreasonable to suppose, but that innumerable multitudes of his possible posterity would have failed of existence by God's disposal. For will any be so unreasonable as to imagine, that God would and must have brought into existence as many of his posterity as it was possible should be, if he had not sinned? Or, that then it would not have been possible, that any other persons of his posterity should ever have existed, than those individual persons who now actually suffer death, and return to the dust?

3. We have many accounts in scripture, which imply the actual failing of the possible existence of innumerable multitudes of Adam's posterity, yea, of many more than ever come into existence. As, of the possible posterity of Abel, the possible posterity of all them that were destroyed by the flood, and the possible posterity of the innumerable multitudes which we read of in scripture destroyed by sword, pestilence, &c. And if the threatening to Adam reached his posterity in no other respect than this, that they were liable to be deprived by it of their possible existence, then these instances are much more properly a fulfilment of that threatening, than the suffering of death by such as actually come into existence; and so is that which is most properly the judgment to condemnation executed by the sentence of the Judge, proceeding on the ground of that threatening. But where do we ever find this so represented in scripture? We read of multitudes cut off for their personal sins, who

* Page 95, 90, 91. S.

thereby failed of their possible posterity. And these are mentioned as God's judgments on them, and effects of God's condemnation of them: But when are they ever spoken of as God judicially proceeding against, and condemning their possible posterity?

4. Dr. T. in what he says concerning this matter, speaks of the threatening of the law delivered to Adam, which the possible existence of his posterity fell under, as the ground of the judgment to condemnation coming upon all men. But herein he is exceeding inconsistent with himself: For he affirms in a place forecited, that the scripture never speaks of any sentence of condemnation coming upon all men, but that sentence in the third of Genesis, concerning man turning to dust. But according to him, the threatening of the law delivered to Adam could not be the ground of that sentence; for he greatly insists upon it, that that law was entirely abrogated before that sentence was pronounced, had no existence to have any such influence as might procure a sentence of death; and therefore this sentence was introduced entirely on another footing, a new dispensation of grace. The reader may see this matter strenuously urged, and particularly argued by him, p. 113-120. S. So that this sentence could not, according to him, have the threatening of that law for its ground, as he supposes; for it never stood upon that ground. It could not be called a judgment of condemnation under any such view; for it could not be viewed in circumstances where it never existed.

5. If, as our author supposes, the sentence of death on all men comes under the notion of a judgment to condemnation by this means, viz. that the threatening to Adam was in some respect the ground of it; then it also comes under the notion of a punishment: For threatenings annexed to breaches of laws, are to punishments; and a judgment of condemnation to the thing threatened, must be to punishment; and the thing condemned to must have as much the notion of a punishment, as the sentence has the notion of a judgment to condemnation. But this Dr. T. wholly denies: He denies that death comes as any punishment at all; but insists that it comes only as a favour and benefit, and a fruit of fatherly love to Adam's posterity, respected not as guilty, but wholly innocent. So that his scheme will not admit of its coming under the notion of a sentence to condemnation in any respect whatsoever. Our author's supposition, that the possible existence of Adam's posterity comes under the threatening of the law, and into the hands of the judge, and is the ground of the condemnation of all men to death, implies, that death by this sentence is appointed to mankind as an evil, at least negatively so; as it is a privation of good: For he manifestly speaks of a non-existence as a negative evil. But herein he is

inconsistent with himself: For he continually insists that mankind are subjected to death only as a benefit, as has been before shewn. According to him, death is not appointed to mankind, as a negative evil, as any cessation of existence, or even diminution of good; but on the contrary, as a means of a more happy existence, and a great increase of good.

So that this evasion of Dr. T. is so far from helping the matter, that it increases and multiplies the inconsistence. And that the law, with the threatening of death annexed, was given to Adam as the head of mankind, and to his posterity as included in him, not only follows from some of our author's own assertions and the plain full declarations of the apostle in the fifth of Romans, which drove Dr. T. into such gross inconsistencies-but the account given in the three first chapters of Genesis directly and inevitably leads us to such a conclusion.

Though the sentence, Gen. iii. 19. Unto dust thou shalt return, be not of equal extent with the threatening in the foregoing chapter, or an execution of the main curse of the law therein denounced-for that it should have been so would have been inconsistent with the intimations of mercy just before given-yet it is plain, this sentence is in pursuance of that threatening, being to something that was included in it. The words of the sentence were delivered to the same person with the words of the threatening, and in the same manner, in like singular terms, and as much without any express mention of his posterity. Yet it manifestly appears by the consequence, as well as all circumstances, that his posterity were included in the words of the sentence; as is confessed on all hands. And as the words were apparently delivered in the form of the sentence of a judge, condemning for something that he was displeased with, and ought to be condemned, viz. sin; and as the sentence to him and his posterity was but one, dooming to the same suffering, under the same circumstances, both the one and the other sentenced in the same words, spoken but once, and immediately to but one person, we hence justly infer, that it was the same thing to both; and not as Dr. T. suggests, (p. 67.) a sentence to a proper punishment to Adam, but a mere promise of favour to his posterity.

Indeed, sometimes our author seems to suppose, that God meant the thing denounced in this sentence, as a favour both to Adam and his posterity.* But to his posterity, or mankind in general, who are the main subject, he ever insists, that it was purely intended as a favour. And therefore, one would have thought, the sentence should have been delivered with manifestations and appearances of favour, and not of anger. How could Adam understand it as a promise of great

*Page 25, 45, 46. S.

favour, considering the manner and circumstances of the denunciation? How could he think, that God would go about to delude him, by clothing himself with garments of vengeance, using words of displeasure and rebuke, setting forth the heinousness of his crime, attended with cherubims and a flaming sword; when all that he meant was only higher testimonies of favour than he had before in a state of innocence, and to manifest fatherly love and kindness, in promises of great blessings? If this was the case, God's words to Adam must be understood thus: "Because thou hast done so wickedly, hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it; therefore I will be more kind to thee than I was in thy state of innocence, and do now appoint for thee the following great favours: Cursed be the ground for thy sake," &c. And thus Adam must understand what was said, unless any will say (and God forbid that any should be so blasphemous) that God clothed himself with appearances of displeasure, to deceive Adam, and make him believe the contrary of what he intended, and lead him to expect a dismal train of evils on his posterity, contrary to all reason and justice, implying the most horribly unrighteous treatment of millions of perfectly innocent creatures. It is certain, there is not the least appearance in what God said, or the manner of it, as Moses gives us the account, of any other, than that God was now testifying displeasure, condemning the subject of the sentence he was pronouncing, as justly exposed to punishment for sin, and for that sin which he mentions.


When God was pronouncing this sentence, Adam doubtless understood that God had respect to his posterity, as well as himself; though God spake wholly in the second person singular, Because thou hast eaten,-In sorrow thou shalt eat,Unto the dust shalt thou return. But he had as much reason to understand God as having respect to his posterity, when he directed his speech to him in like manner in the threatening, thou shalt surely die. The sentence plainly refers to the threatening and results from it. The threatening says, If thou eat, thou shalt die: The sentence says, Because thou hast eaten, thou shalt die. And Moses, who wrote the account, had no reason to doubt but that the affair would be thus understood by his readers; for such a way of speaking was well understood in those days: The history he gives us of the origin of things abounds with it. Such a manner of speaking to the heads of the race, having respect to the progeny, is not only used in almost every thing that God said to Adam and Eve, but even in what he said to the very birds and fishes, Gen. i. 22. And also in what he said afterwards to Noah, Gen. ix. to Shem. Ham and Japheth, and Canaan, Gen. ix. 25-27.

[ocr errors]

So in promises made to Abraham, God directed his speech to him, and spake in the second person singular, from time to time, but meant chiefly his posterity: To thee will I give this land. In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed, &c. &c. And in what is said of Ishmael, as of his person, but meant chiefly of his posterity, Gen. xvi. 12. and xvii. 20. Thus in what Isaac said to Esau and Jacob in his blessing he spake to them in the second person singular; but meant chiefly their posterity. And so for the most part in the promises made to Isaac and Jacob; and in Jacob blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, and his twelve sons.

But I shall take notice of one or two things further, shewing that Adam's posterity were included in God's establishment with him, and the threatening denounced for his sin; and that the calamities which come upon them in consequence of his sin, are brought on them as punishments.

This is evident from the curse on the ground; which if it be any curse at all, comes equally on Adam's posterity with himself. And if it be a curse, then against whomsoever it is designed, and on whomsoever it terminates, it comes as a punishment, and not as a blessing, so far as it comes in consequence of that sentence.

Dr. T. (p. 19.) says, "A curse is pronounced upon the ground, but no curse upon the woman and the man." And (p. 45, 46. S.) he insists, that the ground only was cursed, and not the man as though a curse could terminate on lifeless senseless earth! To understand this curse otherwise than as terminating upon man through the ground, would be as senseless as to suppose the meaning to be, The ground shall be punished and shall be miserable for thy sake. Our author interprets the curse on the ground, of its being incumbered with noxious weeds But would these weeds have been any curse on the ground if there had been no inhabitants, or if the inhabitants had been of such a nature, that these weeds should not have been noxious, but useful to them? It is said, Deut. xxviii. 17. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store; And would he not be thought to talk very ridiculously, who should say, 'Here is a curse upon the basket; but not a word of any curse upon the owner: And therefore we have no reason at all to look upon it as any punishment upon him, or any testimony of God's displeasure towards him. How plain is it, that when lifeless things not capable either of benefit or suffering, are said to be cursed or blessed with regard to sensible beings-who use or possess these things, or have connection with them-the meaning must be, that these sensible beings are cursed or blessed in the other, or with respect to them! In Exod. xxiii. 25. it is said, He shall bless thy bread and thy water. And I suppose never any body yet proceeded to such a degree of subtility in distin

« PrejšnjaNaprej »