« PreviousContinue »
Consequently, the Obligation to Punishment doth not result from Truth, EQUITY or JUSTICE ; but from the mere WILL of the Governour, who by this Rule is' at Liberty to suppose Men to be what actually and really they are not ; and has a Right to bring them under Obligation to the most dreadful Punishment by mere arbitrary Will, when he knows they are actually and personally undeserving of any Punishment, And therefore I do not wonder, that the Scripture not only never affirms, but on the contrary exprelly removes from the Divine Proceedings, the Imputation of Guilt in a Sense so remote from all Reason, Truth and Equity.
Further, Adam's Sin is never in Scripture said to be imputed to his Posterity. This R. R. acknowledges, p. 403. 1. 10. The Scrifture, faith he, does not, as I remember, any where in express Words assert, that the Sin of Adam is imputed to his Children, &c. Indeed he tells us in the same Place, that he thinks the Sense and true Meaning of this Expression, that Adam's Sin is imputed to his Children, is fufficiently found in Scripture. But how can any Meaning of this Expression be found in Scripture, by any just and authentic Rule of Interpretation, when the Scripture always v ses imputing Sin in a Sense directly inconsistent with it? For the Scripture never speaks of imputing any Act of Righteousness or Sin
to any Person, but what is the Act of that Person to whom it is imputed either for Righteousness or Condemnation ; therefore we can fix no Meaning to this Expression, Adam's Sin is imputed to his Children, which the Scripture will justify. For which Reason, I don't think he has explain’d any Doctrine of Scripture in the Ejay he has wrote to explain the Doctrine of imputed Sin and Righteousness; because he has not confin’d himself to the Scripture Account, but has suppos'd both Sin and Righteousness to be imputed, not only where the Scripture never faith they are imputed, but also in a Sense which the Scripture discountenances. But I shall
purfue this point no further ; because I am in doubt whether it be R. R's Meaning, that he is fully satisfy'd the Sense of this Expression, That Adam's Sin is imputed to his Children, is sufficiently found in any part of Scripture : Otherwise surely he would not have said, (p. 88. 1. 1.) I must confess I am not fond of such
Scheme or Hypothesis of deriving some Sort of Guilt, (by Imputation, see p. 85. 1. 6.) from a Surety or Representative, tho' I know it has been embrac'd by a conhderable Party of Christians, ancient and modern. No; I would gladly renounce it, because of some great Dificulties attending it, if I could find any other Way to relieve the much greater Difficulties, and barder Imputations upon the Conduct of Providence, which will attend this Enquiry, if we
follow any other Track of Sentiment. This doth not seem to be the Language of one perfuaded that the Imputation of Adam's Sin to his Pofterity is a Doctrine of Scripture, or fufficiently found there. But to proceed,
To support the common Notion of inputed Guilt, the Vindicator brings several Cafes, or Facts wherein, he says, God has actually PUNISHED the Crimes of Parents upon their Children and Posterity, p. 77–13. and he adds a Confirmation from human Transactions. To which I answer, 'tis true, many Instances may be brought out of all parts of Life where Children do, and must of Course Suffer for the Misconduct of their parents or Ancestors. When the Father by his Virtụe gets an Estate or Honour, he leaves it to his Posterity, and they enjoy or perhaps abuse it, till one or other of them forfeits or squanders it away ; he cannot convey what he has not, and therefore the following Posterity of course are reduc'd, not to a State of PUNISHMENT, but to the same naked Condition in which the Family was before the Estate or Honour was got. Temporal Estates and Honours are Things alienable from Posterity by Law, and the former even by the Will and Deed of the present Poffeffor: But Innocence can be alienated by no Law, Power, Authority or Person whatsoever, except the Person to whom it belongs. He may change
his Innocence into Guilt. But no other Being whatsoever can do it. Nor Man, nor God, by any Constitution whatever, can possibly make a Thing to be, what it is not ; can make Innocence to be No-Innocence, or justly account an innocent Person, continuing such, not innocent. Consequently no just Constitution can PUNISH the Innocent, because PUNISHING implies that the Subject is not innocent. PUNISHING the Innocent is acting directly against the eternal and immutable Nature of Things. Nor doth this Author, or R. R. in his Ejay, give us one Instance of innocent Posterity PUNISHED for the Faults of Ancestors by the Laws or Constitutions Nations
such Law were found, it must be judged false and unjust. Both these Gentlemen flip in the Word PUNISH, without attending to its true Force, and confound it with SUFFERING; as if to suffer and to be puniji'd were the same Thing.
Nor in the Scripture Instances they have produced, is it said, that the Crimes of Parents were PUNISHED upon Children, as they have unwarily affirmed ; R. R.p.121. Vind. P.7, &c. The Facts they alledge in Regard to Ham's and Gehazi's Posterity, and the Children of Dathan and Abiram * fuffering
through * R. R. and the Vindicator add the Children of Karah and Achan. But the Children of Korah died not,
through the Sins of their parents are allowed. But the Fact is one Thing, and the Reason of the Fact is another. The Fact may be true, but the Reason assigned for it false. It is-Fact that the Children suffered, but it is false that the Guilt of Parents was imputed to them, or that they were PUNISHED for their Crimes. Because this is contrary to express Scripture, and the Truth and Reason of Things. On the other hand, Children in such Instances are evidently regarded as the Property and Pofleffions, the most dear and valuable ENJOYMENTS of Parents, and come under the same general Consideration with Cattle, Land, Fruits of the Earth, &c. consequently in the Instances alledged, the Parents only were punished by the Sufferings of the Children; which Sufferings had not respect to the Sin of Posterity, unless to prevent it, but only to the Sin of the Parents, how much or how long foever Posterity might suffer. This appears from several Passages in Scripture. Lev. xxvi. 18, 21, 22, 28, 29.--- I will punish you seven times more for your Sins.-Your Land Mall not yield ber Increase, and if ye walk contrary unto me, I will bring feven times more Plagues upon you, according to YOUR Sins. I will also fend wild Beasts among
you, Numb. xxvi. II. And it is a Question whether the Children of Achan were stoned with him: But if they were, they might be privy to the Father's Crime; for the accursed Thing was hid in his Tent, where his Family lived, Josh. vii. 22. Vid. Patrick's Comment.