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sion; who had neither eaten the forbidden fruit, nor sinned against any other express law threatening death: this could be for no other sin but Adam's ; he sinned and brought death into the world, and thus death passed upon all men for his sin, notwithstanding they themselves were sinners ; for though they were sinners, yet that they died, was not owing to their own sins, because they had not sinned against any law, which threatened death, but to the sin of Adam ; and therefore in a proper sense, in Adam all die.
Now this is thought very hard, that the sin of Adam should bring death upon all his posterity, that one man sinned, and all men must die ; and therefore, I suppose no man will think it improper to my present argument, to give you such an account of this matter, as will evidently justify the wisdom and goodness, as well as the justice of God in it.
I. In the first place then I observe, that an immortal life in this world, is not the original right of earthly creatures, but was wholly owing to the grace and favor of God. I call that an original right, which is founded in the nature of things ; for otherwise, properly speaking, no creatures have any right either to being, or to subsistance, which is a continuance in being : it is the goodness and the power of God, which both made the world, and upholds and sustains all things in being. And therefore Plato confesses,
that the inferior Gods, those immortal spirits, which he thought worthy of divine honors, were both made by the supreme God, and did subsist by his will : for he who made all things, can annihilate them again, when he pleases; and therefore their subsistence is as much owing to the divine goodness, as their creation : but yet there is a great difference between the natural gift and bounty of God, and what is supernatural, or above the nature of things : what God makes by nature immortal, so that it has no principles of mortality in its constitution, immortality may be said to be its natural right, because it is by nature immortal, as spirits and the souls of men are : and in this case it would be thought very hard, that a whole race of immortal beings should be made mortal for the sin of one ; which would be to deprive them of their natural right to immortality, without their own fault. But when any creature is immortal, not by nature, but by supernatural grace, God may bestow this supernatural immortality upon what conditions he pleases, and take the forfeiture of it, when he sees fit ; and this was the case of man in innocence. His body was not by nature immortal, for body made of dust, will naturally resolve into dust again ; and therefore without a supernatural power, an earthly body must die ; for which reaso! God provided a remedy against mortality, the tree of life, which he planted in paradise, and without which man could not be inmortal : so that mortality was a necessary consequence of his losing paradise ; for when he was banished from the tree of life, he could have no remedy nor preservative against death. Now, I suppose, no man will question, but God might very justly turn Adam out of paradise for his disobedience, and then he must die, and all his posterity die in him i for he being by nature mortal, must beget mortal children, and having forfeited the tree of life, he and his posterity, who are all shut out of paradise with him, must necessarily die : which takes nothing from them to which any man had a right, (for no man had a natural right to paradise, or the tree of life) but only leaves them to those laws of mortality, to which an earthly creature is naturally subject. God had promised paradise and the tree of life to no man, but to Adam himself, whom he created and placed in paradise ; and therefore he took nothing away from any man, but from Adam, when he thrust him out of paradise ; children indeed must follow the condition of their parents; had Adam preserved his right to the tree of life, we had enjoyed it too, but he forfeiting it, we lost it in him, and in him die. We lost, I say, not any thing that he had a right to, but such a supernatural privilege, as we might have had, had he preserved his innocence: and this is a sufficient vindication of the justice of God in it. He has done us no injury; we are by nature mortal creatures, and he leaves us in that mortal state : and to withdraw favors upon a reasonable provocation, is neither hard nor unjust.
II. For we must consider farther, when sin was once entered into the world, an immortal life here became impossible, without a constant series of miracles. Adam had sinned, and thereby corrupted his own nature, and therefore must necessarily propagate a corrupt nature to his posterity : his earthly passions were broke lose, he now knew good and evil, and therefore was in the hands of his own counsel, to refuse or choose the good or evil ; and when the animal life was once awakened in him, there was no great dispute, which way his affections would incline. To be sure it is evident enough in his posterity, whose boisterous passions act such tragedies in the world. Now suppose in a state of innocence, that the tree of life would have preserved men immortal, when no man would injure himself, nor another ; when there was no danger from wild beasts, or an intemperate air, or poisonous herbs ; yet, I suppose, no man will say, but that even in paradise itself, (could we suppose any such thing) Adam might have been devoured by a beast, or killed with a stab at the heart, or had there been any poison there, it would have killed him, had he eaten or drunk it, or else he had another kind of body in paradise than we have now, for I am sure that these, things would kill us. Consider then how impossible it is, that in this fallen and apostate state, God would preserve man immortal without working miracles every minute : men's passions are now very unruly, and they fall out with one another, and will kill one another, if they can ; of which the other world had a very early example in Cain, who slew his brother Abel ; and all the many murders and bloody wars since that day, put this matter out of doubt : now this can never be prevented, unless God should make our bodies invulnerable, which a body of flesh and blood cannot be without a miracle : some die by their own hands, others by wild beasts, others by evil accidents, and there are so many ways of destroying these brittle bodies, that it is the greatest wonder that they last so long ; and yet Adam's body in paradise was as very earth, and as brittle as our bodies are ; but all this had been prevented, had men continued innocent; they would not then have quarrellea or fought, they would not have died by their own hands, nor drunk themselves into a fever, nor overloaded nature with riotóus excesses ; there had been no wild beasts to devour, no infectious air, or poisonous herbs, and then the tree of life would have repaired all the decays of nature, and preserved a perpetual youth ; but in this state we are now, the tree of life could not preserve us immortal, if a sword or poison can kill: which shews us how impossible it was, but that sin and death must come into the world