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And since it is improper to call any sin original sin, but that first sin of Adam, it is equally improper to say that any person ever committed, or was guilty of original sin, but the first man Adam. Though all men begin to sin in consequence of original sin, yet their beginning to sin is neither eating the forbidden fruit, nor consenting to eat it, nor doing any thing else which resembles the first sin of Adam, any more than the first sin of any other man. The act and guilt of Adam's first transgression were his own, and were never transferred to us. He committed and was guilty of original sin, and he alone. Though we have committed a multitude of other sins, yet we never committed that sin, nor stand in the least degree chargeable with it. To say, therefore, that all mankind are guilty of Adam's first transgression, is extremely absurd, and naturally tends to prejudice the minds of many against the true doctrine of original sin.
2. We learn from what has been said, that the true doctrine of original sin is clearly revealed in the Bible. This has often been called in question. Some suppose if such an important doctrine were true, it would have been much more frequently mentioned, and much more clearly revealed, in scripture. They imagine there is no trait of it to be found after the third chapter of Genesis, until we come to this epistle to the Romans, which is extremely obscure, and hard to be understood. It is readily granted that the idea which some have formed of original sin is no where revealed in the Bible. But that idea of it which has been exhibited in this discourse, and which we conceive to be the only true idea, appears to run through all the books of the Old and New Testament. Upon the first offence of our first parents, we read of God's providing a Saviour, not only for them, but for their future posterity. Immediately after this, we find sacrifices were appointed to prefigure a suffering Saviour, and through him the pardoning mercy of God to all penitent sinners. Under the law, circumcision was instituted, which plainly represented the native depravity of the human heart. This doctrine was uniformly taught by all the sacred writers, from Moses to Malachi. John the Baptist, and Christ himself, plainly and pointedly preached the same sentiment. Christ instituted the ordinance of baptism, which signifies "the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." Paul represents Adam and Christ as two public heads of mankind, and plainly declares that we became sinners by the disobedience of the former, and may be saved from ruin by the obedience of the latter. Christ is represented, in the New Testament, as the Saviour provided for both Jews and Gentiles; and is expressly said to be a propitiation for the sins of the
whole world. And the predictions concerning the future spread of the gospel, and the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom, carry the idea that mankind will all be sinful and need a Saviour, to the end of time. In such a great variety of ways is the constituted connection between the first sin of Adam and the sinfulness of all mankind, to the latest posterity, clearly revealed in the Bible. Neither the promises concerning the coming of Christ, nor the declarations concerning his design in coming, nor the descriptions of his sufferings and death, nor the positive institutions of the gospel, can be accounted for on any other ground than that of original sin. This doctrine lies at the foundation of all revealed religion; and to deny it, is virtually to deny the whole of divine revelation. For if it had not been for the original sin of the first man, there would have been no occasion for the sufferings and death of the second man, who is the Lord from heaven.
3. There is no ground to suppose, from any thing which has been said in this discourse, that Adam knew before the fall that he was the public head of his posterity, or that his conduct would determine the moral state in which they should come into existence. The divine prohibition and threatening were sufficient to acquaint him with his duty, and lay him under obligation to perform it. There appears to have been no more occasion for his knowing that his sin would destroy his posterity, than for his knowing that a divine Redeemer would come into the world and save them. God constituted the connection between him and his posterity, to regulate his own conduct, and to accomplish his own designs. And he might see a great impropriety in acquainting him with his public capacity before his first transgression. Our Saviour concealed the knowledge of his character and sufferings for a long time after he entered upon his public ministry, lest this knowledge should either retard or accelerate the event of his death. And God might foresee that it would frustrate his own designs, if he acquainted Adam with his public capacity before he had actually involved himself and his posterity in ruin. Accordingly we find the first prohibition and threatening were directed to him personally. God says, “ In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” If we search the Bible from beginning to end, we shall discover no intimation that God informed Adam of his being placed as the public head of his posterity, before he actually sinned, and exposed them all to the fatal effects of his first transgression. And since the scriptures are entirely silent upon this point, it is by no means proper to take it for granted, and to reason from it as an established truth.
4. It appears from what has been said in this discourse, that
God did no injustice to mankind, in appointing Adam their public head. They have often complained of the injustice of God on this account. But they never had the least foundation for this general complaint. It appears from what has been said, that the constitutional connection between Adam and his posterity neither made his sin their sin, nor his guilt their guilt, nor exposed them to the least degree of punishment on his account. There could be no injustice, therefore, in God's appointing Adam the public head of his posterity. It is presumed the general complaint of injustice has originated entirely from a false idea of the divine constitution under which Adam was placed. God made that constitution to regulate his own conduct, and not to regulate the conduct of either Adam or his posterity. It was Adam's duty to obey the divine prohibition, whether he stood in a public or private capacity. And it is our duty to obey all the divine commands, notwithstanding his constituted relation to, and connection with us. The truth is, there was neither justice, nor injustice, in God's appointing Adam our public head. It was an act of mere sovereignty. God as a sovereign, had as good a right to make Adam the public head of his posterity, as he had to make him at all, or to place him in the garden of Eden, or to determine a single circumstance of his life. And, as a sovereign, he had as good a right to determine that his posterity should be sinners in consequence of his first offence, as he had to determine their numbers, their natural abilities, their outward circumstances and their final state. There is neither justice nor injustice, in God's determining what the moral characters of moral agents shall be ; though there may be justice or injustice in his conduct towards them after their moral characters are formed. The constitution which connected Adam's sin with the sin of his posterity was such a constitution as God had an original and sovereign right to make. For if he had a right to bring us into existence, he had an equal right to determine how he would bring us into existence, whether as single detached individuals, like angels, or as naturally and constitutionally connected with our first and great progenitor. And since God had a sovereign right to place us under such a constitution, we have no right to call it unwise, unjust or unkind.
5. It appears from what has been said, that our first parent laid us under no necessity of sinning. If he had transmitted to us a corrupt nature, or a sinful principle, we might have had some ground to suppose that we were obliged to sin by the fatal influence of his first transgression. But since that sin neither directly nor indirectly ever affected either our natural or moral faculties, it is certain that we act as freely and voluntarily in
It is true,
committing sin, as we could have done if Adam had never
never laid any of his creatures under a necessity of sinning. God designed that Adam should fall, and from eternity provided a remedy for it; but God's design laid him under no necessity of falling, nor of accepting the remedy provided. So, God's design that we should be sinners if he partook of the forbidden fruit, did not lay us nor any of his posterity under a necessity of committing sin. Neither scripture, nor reason, nor experience, teaches us that we are constrained to hate God, or transgress his holy and righteous commands, by virtue of any guilt, pollution, or depravity derived from Adam. We have no more right to cast the blame of our sins upon him, than he had to transfer his sin and guilt to us. He must answer for his own sins, and we must answer for ours.
6. If Adam has proved the occasion of involving all his posterity in sin, then children stand in peculiar need of a virtuous and pious education. They are all liable to sin as soon as they become moral agents. And there is a moral certainty, if they live, that they will run into evil, and incur the divine displeasure. This is a most alarming consideration to parents. They have been the occasion of introducing them into a sinful world, where they are in the utmost danger of dishonoring God, and of destroying themselves for ever. If parents would duly consider the depraved hearts of their children, they would feel very solicitous to train them up in the way they should go; and, if possible, early instil into their young and tender minds the pure principles of religion and virtue. Nor would they neglect to
proper restraints upon them, to preserve them from the paths of the destroyer, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. The law of nature requires parents to promote the temporal happiness of their children, and the law of Christianity requires them to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And though they cannot sanctify the hearts of their children, yet they can instruct their minds, restrain their outward conduct, and commend them to him who is able to make them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. If they neglect to do these things, they will sin against God, and become accessory to the ruin of their dear offspring. But how can they bear the thoughts of seeing their children openly vicious and finally impenitent! It would have been better for them never to have been born, than to live and to die in sin. Their case, therefore, loudly calls for the compassion, the prayers and instructions of their parents, who are under VOL. IV.
every tender and solemn tie, to do all in their power to promote their temporal and eternal happiness.
7. This subject calls upon all impenitent sinners immediately to repent and believe the gospel. They have no excuse for their enmity and disobedience to God. They have never been necessarily drawn into sin by any corrupt nature or corrupt principle derived from Adam. They have sinned freely and voluntarily, and have therefore destroyed themselves. In this guilty and perishing situation, it is their immediate duty to repent and look up to God for pardoning mercy through the divine Redeemer. He came to seek and to save those who are lost; and stands ready to receive all weary, heavy laden sinners. Let them no longer charge their misery and guilt upon God, nor upon Adam; but let them take the shame and blame of all their sins to themselves. And as they have freely and voluntar sinned, so let them freely and voluntarily repent and believe the gospel. This is their immediate and important duty. They have no excuse for a moment's delay. Life and death are now set before them. It depends not upon the conduct of Adam, but upon their own choice, whether they shall be happy or miserable for ever. Though their sins have greatly abounded, yet if they repent and believe the gospel, the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, shall much more abound in their eternal salvation. Amen.