Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the Gospel, than by the vigour and originality which pervade his writings.* Although he sincerely con tends for the doctrine of original depravity, and considers that depravity as the consequence of Adam's apostasy, he seems to deny that Adam represented his posterity in the covenant of works, and that they were involved in the guilt of the first transgression. As the work referred to has obtained an extensive circulation, it were desirable that some Master in Israel would particularly advert to the mistaken statements of Dr Dwight, refute his arguments at length, and place the subject in a scriptural light. The Church indeed is already possessed of a valuable antidote in the Treatise by President Edwards on Original Sin; and in some instances the masterly pen of the venerable Grandfather supplies a sufficient refutation of the reasonings of the respectable Grandson. For example, Dwight's objections founded on Ezek. xvii. 20. and also on the word impute, are obviated in that celebrated Treatise.f

The only argument against the concern of Adam's descendants in the guilt of his first sin, which shall be noticed here, is that which is founded on a new translation of 1 Cor. xv. 22, “ As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” “ The words in the ori. ginal,” says Dwight, "are i tq'Aday, and sy to Xploty. The Greek preposition is signifies very often, as any person acquainted with the language must have observed, exactly the same thing with the English phrase by means of. The passage would therefore have been explicitly and correctly translated; As by means of Adam all die, even so by means of Christ shall all be made alive. Adam is therefore only asserted here to be an instrumental cause of the death specified, &c." Now, that the preposition does not unfrequently signifiy by means of, or simply by, as Dr Macknight has thought proper to render it in this same verse, is readily admitted.' But the native and ordinary sense of this preposition is confessedly in ; and it should be inquired whether the connexion of the words, and the scope of the passage, do not render it more probable that the preposition ought to be rendered so in this verse, than that it should be translated either by, or by means of. That év when connected with Tu Xprotw, and with other names and characters of the Saviour, should in no case be rendered by means of, we shall not affirm. But “any person acquainted with'the language" of the New Testament " must have observed," that in a vast majority of instances where tv

• See Dr Timothy Dwight's Theology Explained and Defended, Ser. 32. + Part iv. ch. 3. pp. 397–399, and ch. 4. pp. 414-416, 4th cdit.

is thus joined with Christ, it would be highly improper to render it in any other way than by the English preposition in. A few ex. pressions from the Epistles to the Corinthians may suffice for examples: “ But of him are ye in Christ Jesus”—“ Babes in Christ"“ My ways which be in Christ”-" If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature"_" I knew a man in Christ."* The expression is Xgcrtw occurs even in the 18th, and again in the 19th verse of the same Chapter with the verse under consideration; and in both places it is justly rendered by our translators “ in Christ.”—“ Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” “ If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” It is unquestionably better to say “ fallen asleep in Christ," and thus extend the expression to all who have died in a state of union with Christ, than to render it, as Macknight has done, “ fallen asleep for Christ,” and thus unnecessarily and gratuitously confine it to those “ who have suffered death for believing the resurrection of Christ.” “ Hope in Christ,” too, is fully as proper as “ hope by Christ." The preposition go sometimes signifies concerning, with respect to, as in Rom. xi. 2. Gal. i. 24. and accordingly the 19th verse might be correctly translated thus; “ If with respect to this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Why then ought we not to retain the 22d verse as it stands in the common version ; “ For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive?” The Apostle had said in the verse immediately preceding; “ For since di krégw+8, by man came death, di av@qw7, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” He had thus already taught that by, through, or by means of man death came, and also the resurrection of the dead. He had already shown that Adam is “ an instrumental cause of the death specified," and that “ the man Christ Jesus," the Son of God in human nature, is the author of that blessed resurrection which awaits the just. When he proceeds to his next sentence, he changes the preposition in both its parts. In place of d.c, by, by means of, he says fv, in. That he alters the preposition merely for the sake of variety of expression, ought not readily to be conceded. Is it not much more probable that the design of the Apostle, and of the Spirit by whom he was inspired, was to throw additional light upon the subject, and to suggest something relative to the manner in which death comes by the one man, and the resurrection the other? Is it not clearly intimated, that Adam was not merely “ an instrumental

• 1 Cor. i. 30. j. 1. iv. 17. 2 Cor. v. 17. xii. 2.

cause of death,” but that we died in Adam as our common root and federal representative, in whom we sinned, and so became liable to death; and that Christ, in like manner, is not only the cause of the glorious resurrection of believers, but that this resurrection is the consequence of their relation to him as their spiritual Head and Representative, who fulfilled all righteousness in their room, and rose again from the dead on their behalf? This view of the meaning divests the passage of every appearance of tautology. It tallies best, too, with what the Apostle states in the progress of the chapter, verses 45–49, respecting the first man, and the second man, whom he contrasts together in the public capacity sustained by each. It is powerfully confirmed, in fine, by the doctrine of the same Apostle in Romans v. 12—21, a passage which incontrovertibly establishes at once the imputation of Adam's first disobedience to his posterity, and the imputation of Christ's meritorious righteousness to all believers—two important points which must stand or fall together.

The difficulties with which this subject is attended, ought not to prevent us from acquiescing in the declarations of infinite wisdom. “ What we can know," says that eminent Author, whose views on this subject we have taken the liberty to combat, in the same discourse to which we have referred," it is our duty and our interest to know. Where knowledge is unattainable, it is both our duty and interest to trust humbly and submissively to the instructions of Him who is THE ONLY Wise."-Amongst the numerous writings on this topic, the serious inquirer might read with profit the remarks of Witsius in another work, Essay on Original Sin,” by the Rev. Thomas Walker of Dundonald, † and President Dickinson's Discourse on Rom. v. 12. #

[ocr errors]

an

Note VIII. Page 40. The Author's meaning in the last sentence of the 7th Section is so obvious, that the scholastic terms which he here employs, require little explanation. He represents the dignity of our Lord's Divine person, as the principium quod, that is, the great principle which regulates the value of his labours and sufferings, and gives them their boundless worth ; while his human nature is the principium quo, that is, the instrumental principle, by means of which they were accomplished.

• Economy of the Covenants, book i. ch. 2. sect. 14—18. ch. 8. sect. 30–35. + Essays and Sermons on Doctrinal and Practical Subjects, pp. 1–87.

Sermons and Tracts, pp. 164-212. VOL. II. 3 s

39.

xxxi. 22, to which our Author refers. Unless the birth of Jesus had corresponded in this respect to ancient prophecy, the evidence of his Messiahship would have been materially defective. Those chapters of the Gospels by Matthew and Luke, therefore, which narrate the circumstances of our Lord's conception and birth, are higlıly interesting and important; and nothing can be more awkward and absurd than the attempts which have been made to unsettle the faith of Christians regarding the authenticity of these portions of Scripture. The modern Socinians, in what they are pleased to style An improved Version of the New Testament, have thought proper to print the 1st chapter of Matthew from the 17th verse to the end, and the whole of the 2d chapter, and the whole of the 1st and 2d chapters of the Gospel by Luke, in Italic characters, in order to denote that the authenticity of all these passages is doubtful. In support of this strange Improvement, they can plead no higher authority than that of Ebion and Marcion, two early heretics, and avowed mutilators of the Scriptures. These Chapters are found in all the ancient Manuscripts and Versions now extant. They are referred to as a part of the inspired record by the early writers of the Church; and even several of the cavils of Celsus against the Christian faith are founded on the contents of these chapters. Their authenticity is also strongly supported by internal evidence. Dr Campbell's Notes on Mat. ii. 23.o and Luke jäi. 23.o and the appropriate remarks of Dr Magee on this subject.*

The miraculous conception of Christ, though questioned by some, and horribly derided by others, exhibits to the pure and enlightened mind, a display of Divine wisdom and power, in perfect accordance with all the other parts of the scheme of redemption. It was highly expedient that this extraordinary personage should come into the world in an extraordinary manner; and if it was necessary that the Saviour of sinners should himself assume their nature, and at the same time continue completely free from moral defilement, why should it seem incredible that a miracle was wrought for the pur. pose of securing his exemption from that original guilt and corruption, which is inherited by all the other descendants of Adam? If “ the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” at the beginning of the world, to produce, by his mighty influence, life, order and beauty, where all was darkness, confusion and inanity, what impropriety can be shown in the same Spirit's “ creating a new

Discourses and Dissertations on the Scriptural Doctrine of Atonement and Sacrifice, Vol. i. pp. 441-443.

thing upon the earth" in the fulness of time? In this miraculous operation, the Deity did nothing more unworthy of his character than when he formed Adam of the dust of the ground, and Eve of a rib taken out of Adam's side. See Bishop Horsley's Sermon on the Miraculous Conception; and also some judicious remarks on this topic by Dr David Hunter of St Andrews, whose useful and well-written book on the History of Christ ought not to be consigned to oblivion.*

Note VI. Page 19. The Protevangelium of James is one of those spurious writings which, under the name of Gospels, Epistles, Acts and Revelations, have made pretensions to a place in the sacred canon of the New Testament. It coincides, in general, with a work entitled The Gospel of the Birth of Mary, and is thought to have been written in the third or perhaps the second Century by some Hellenistic Jew. In common with the other apocryphal books, it was never acknowledged as authentic by the primitive Christians; and notwithstanding the bold assertions of a late writer, it was not frequently alluded to by the ancient Fathers, nor did it gain a general reception in the Christian world. The idle and impertinent stories indeed with which this and the other spurious Gospels abound, and which render them extremely unlike the sacred details of the inspired evangelists, afford sufficient internal evidence that they have no just claims to divine inspiration.

The attempts which the enemies of Christianity have made to sap the credit of the New Testament, by confronting it with these s silly and drivelling forgeries,” could not fail to prove utterly abortive.-Dr Leland, in the 1st Volume of his View of English Deistical Writers, takes notice, in his account of Toland, of a book published by that Author 1698, entitled Amyntor, in which he strives with great zeal to invalidate by this means the authority of the New Testament;-and he refers to the satisfactory answers which Toland received from Dr Samuel Clarke, Mr Stephen Nye, and particularly recommends Mr Richardson's “ Canon of the New Testament Vindicated”—“A new and full method of settling the canonical authority of the New Testament,” in three Volumes, by Mr Jones and the voluminous and excellent work of Dr Lardner, entitled, "the Credibility of the Gospel History.” On this point the reader

Observations on the History of Jesus Christ, serving to illustrate the propriety of his conduct and the beauty of his character, Vol. i. ch. 1. sect. 1. " Of the mysteriousness of his Birth.”

« PreviousContinue »