« PreviousContinue »
DERIVED FROM ADAM.
ROMANS v. 20.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by
sin, and so death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
From these words I proposed, in a former discourse, to discuss the following Doctrine,
That in consequence of the Apostasy of Adam all men have sinned.
In the three last discourses, I have considered the Universality, and the Degree, of human corruption. The next subject of our inquiry is the Source, whence this corruption is derived. In the text, as well as in the doctrine, it is exhibited as existing in consequence of the Apostasy of Adam.
Before I proceed to a direct examination of this branch of the doctrine, it will be advantageous to make a few preliminary observations.
1st. It will, I presume, be admitted, that there is a cause of this depravity.
The Depravity of Man is either caused, or casual. If it be casual; every thing else may, for aught that appears, be casual also. A denial of this position, therefore, becomes a direct establishment of the Atheistical scheme of casual existence.
Besides, uniformity is, in all cases, a complete refutation of the Vol. II.
supposition of casualty. That mere accident should be the parent of the same moral character in all the progeny of Adam, or of uniformity of any kind, in so many thousand millions of cases, is contradictory to plain mathematical certainty.
2dly. This cause, whatever it is, is commensurate with its effects.
As, therefore, the effects extend to all men; it follows, that the cause, also, is universal.
3dly. The cause of this depravity is undoubtedly one, and the same.
This is argued, irresistibly, from the nature of the effects, which is every
where the same. 4thly. This cause did not always exist.
Before their Apostasy, our first parents were undepraved. As the effect did not then exist; the cause plainly did not exist.
These observations must, I think, be admitted without a controversy. It follows, therefore, that in searching for the source of human corruption we must, if we act wisely, be guided by them : since nothing can be this source, of which all these things cannot be truly predicated.
5thly. In inquiring after the source of human corruption we inquire only after a fact.
This subject, sufficiently difficult in itself, has been almost always embarrassed by uniting with it foreign considerations. A fact, it ought ever to be remembered, is what it is, independently of every thing else. If it be true, that the corruption of Mankind exists in consequence of the Apostasy of Adam ; this truth can
2 not be affected by any reluctance in us to admit it; by any opi. nions, which we may form, of the propriety, or impropriety, of the dispensation; nor by any inexplicableness, arising from the efficient cause, the moral nature, or the consequences, of the fact. These things may be the foundation of other inquiries, and of perplexities, and difficulties, ever so great: still, they cannot even remotely affect the subject of the present investigation.
6thly. When I assert, that in consequence of the Apostasy of Adam all men have sinned; I do not intend, that the posterity of Adam are guilty of his transgression.
Moral actions are not, so far as I can see, transferable from one being to another. The personal act of any agent is, in its
very nature, the act of that agent solely ; and incapable of being participated by any other agent. Of course, the guilt of such a personal act is equally incapable of being transferred, or participated. The guilt is inherent in the action ; and is attributable, therefore, to the Agent only.
So clear is this doctrine, that, I presume, no evidence was ever supposed to be derived, originally, from Reason to the contrary doctrine. If, therefore, any evidence can be found to support this doctrine, it must be found in Revelation. But in Revelation, it is presumed, it cannot be found. Unquestionably it is no where directly asserted in the Scriptures. If it be contained in them, it must be by implication. Let me ask, Where is this implication ? Certainly not in any use of the term Impute, commonly appealed to by the supporters of this scheme. I have examined with care every passage, in which this word, and its connexions, are used in the Scriptures; and feel completely assured, that it is used in a totally different sense, in every instance, without an exception. The Verb Lori quals, which is the original word, rendered by the English word impute, denotes originally, and always, to reckon, lo count, to reckon to the account of a man, to charge to his account ; but never to transfer moral action, guilt, or desert, from one being to another. Thus it is said by Shimei, Let not my Lord impute this sin unto his servant : that is, Let not my Lord charge my sin of cursing David against me, or to my account. Thus also it is said, Abraham believed God; and it was counted to him for righteousness : that is, his faith was reckoned to him in the stead of that perfect legal righteousness, in the possession of which he would have been accepted before God.
The passage, which seems the nearest to the purpose of those, against whom I am contending, is 1 Cor. xv. 22, As in Adam all die, eden so in Christ shall all be made alive. The words in the original are 'sv sw Adap and 'ov sw Xgiosw. The Greek preposition Ev 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, eden so by means of Christ shall all be made alive. Adum is, therefore, only asserted, here, to be an instrumental cause of the Death specified. A parallel passage will, I think, make the justice of these remarks evident beyond any reasonable debate. In 1 Cor. vii. 14, it is said, the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband. No person will pretend, that in this passage the Apostle declares the sanctification of the believing wife to be transferred to the husband, so as to become the personal state, or character, of the husband. This is evidently not the fact, because he is still an unbeliever. The meaning plainly is, that by means of his wife he is in such a sense considered as sanctified, as to prevent his children from being unclean; or in more explicit terms, from being incapable of being offered to God in baptism.
7th. Neither do I intend, that the descendants of Adam are punished for his transgression.
This doctrine is completely set aside by God himself, in Ezek. xviii. 20, The soul that sinneth it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him; and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. In this passage it is, I think, as explicitly as language will admit, declared, that no man shall be punished for the sin of another; particularly that the son shall not be punished for the sin of his father; and, by obvious, and, I think, irresistible implication, that the sons of Adam shall not be punished for the sins of this, their common, parent. Having thus prepared the way, as I conceive, for the direct dis
1 cussion of the doctrine, I shall now proceed to adduce in support of its truth the following proofs.
1. The Text.
Here it is asserted, that by one man sin entered into the world; Si' 'evos 'avègwax; through, or by means of, one man. I will not take upon me to say, that the Apostle declares the sin of Adam to be the only supposable, or possible, cause of the entrance of sin into the world; but he plainly declares it to be the actual cause. The sin, which thus entered, he declares also to be universal
; even as universal, as the death, which entered by sin. In the 18th verse, which is separated from the text by a parenthesis only, the Apostle teaches us in the most direct terms, that this universal
sin is a consequence of the transgression of Adam. His words are, Therefore, as by the offence of one, or as in the original, di svog wagartwuatos, by one offence, judgment came upon all to condemnation; and in the 19th verse, By one man's disobedience, many, ir the original, os Folhos the many, were made, in the Greek, xaresandav, were constituted, sinners. The meaning of these passages is, I think, plainly the following; that by means of the offence, or transgression of Adam, the judgment, or sentence of God, came upon all men unto condemnation; because, and solely because, all men, in that state of things, which was constituted in consequence of the transgression of Adam, became sinners.
I have heretofore declared, that the manner, in which the state of things became such, is not at all involved in the present discussion. I now observe further, that I am unable to explain this part of the subject. Many attempts have been made to explain it; but I freely confess myself to have seen none, which was satisfactory to me; or which did not leave the difficulties as great, and, for aught I know, as numerous, as they were before. I shall not add to these difficulties by any imperfect explanations of my own. At the same time, I repeat, that the fact in question is not at all affected by these difficulties; and that a denial of this fact is perplexed with difficulties, which are greater, both in number and degree.
JI. The Doctrine is evident, also, from the Sentence pronounced on our first parents.
In this sentence God declared, that the ground was cursed for the sake of Adam, or because of his transgression ; that it should bring forth thorns and thistles; that he should eat bread in the sweat of his brow; and that both he and his wife should lead lives of toil, suffering, and sorrow, until they should finally return to the dust, from which they were taken. In a former discourse it was shown, that all the parts of this sentence have been regularly fulfilled, from the beginning to the present day. All of them, therefore, constituted a sentence, actually pronounced on all the progeny of Adam, and proved to be so, because it is executed on them all. The cursing of the ground, particularly, by which it was deprived of its foriner spontaneous fruitfulness, and condemned to perpetual sterility; by which thorns and briars were substitut