THE GREAT CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN DEFENDED; EVIDENCES OF ITS TRUTH PRODUCED AND ARGUMENTS TO THE CONTRARY ANSWERED, CONTAINING, IN PARTICULAR, A REPLY TO THE OBJECTIONS OF DR. JOHN TAYLOR, IN HIS BOOK, ENTITLED, “THE SCRIPTURE-DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN PROPOSED TO FREE AND CANDID EXAMINATION, &C.”
—Et haec non tantum ad peccatores referenda est; quia in omnibus maledictionibus primi hominis, omnes ejus generationes conveniunt.— R. Sal. Jarchi.
Propter concupiscentiam, innatam cordi humano, dicitur. In iniquitate genitus sum; atque sensu est, quod à nativitate implantatum cordi sit humano Jetzer harang, figmentum malum.—
—Ad mores natura recurrit Damnatos, fixa et mutari nescia.—
—Dociles imitandis Turpibus et pravis omnes sumus. Juv.
Advertisement, containing a brief account of this book and its author, by the first editor.
BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THIS BOOK AND ITS AUTHOR,
BY THE FIRST EDITOR.
The Reverend Author of the following piece, was removed by death before its publication. But, ere his decease, the copy was finished and brought to the press; and a number of sheets passed his own review. They who were acquainted with the author, or know his just character, and have any taste for the serious theme, will want nothing to be said in recommendation of the ensuing tract, but only that Mr. Edwards wrote it.
Several valuable pieces on this subject have lately been published, upon the same side of the question. But he had no notice of so much as the very first of them, till he had wholly concluded what he had in view: nor has it been thought, that any thing already printed should supersede this work; being designed on a more extensive plan—comprising a variety of arguments, and answers to many objections, that fell not in the way of the other worthy writers—and the whole done with a care of familiar method and language, as well as clear reasoning, accommodated very much to common capacities. It must be a sensible pleasure to every friend of truth, that so masterly a hand undertook a reply to Dr. Taylor; notwithstanding the various answers already given him, both at home and abroad.
Since it has been thought unfit, that this posthumous book should go unattended with a respectful memorial of the author, it is hoped, the reader will candidly accept the following  :
As he lived cheerfully resigned in all things to the will of Heaven, so he died, or rather, as the Scripture emphatically expresses it, in relation to the saint in Christ Jesus, he fell asleep, without the least appearance of pain, and with great calm of mind. Indeed, when he first perceived the symptoms upon him to be mortal, he is said to have been a little perplexed for a while, about the meaning of this mysterious conduct of Providence, in calling him out from his beloved privacy, to a public scene of action and influence; and then so suddenly, just upon his entrance into it, translating him from thence, in such a way, by mortality! However, he quickly got believing and composing views of the wisdom and goodness of God in this surprising event: and readily yielded to the sovereign disposal of Heaven, with 144the most placid submission. Amidst the joy of faith, he departed this world, to go and see Jesus, whom his soul loved; to be with him, to behold his glory, and rejoice in his kingdom.
In person, he was tall of stature, and of a slender make. There was something extremely delicate in his constitution; which always obliged him to observe the exactest rules of temperance, and every method of cautious and prudent living. By such means he was helped to go through incessant labours, and to bear up under much study, which, Solomon observes, is a weariness to the flesh. Perhaps, never was a man more constantly retired from the world; giving himself to reading, and contemplation. And a wonder it was, that his feeble frame could subsist under such fatigues, daily repeated and so long continued. Yet upon occasion of some remark upon it by a friend, which was only a few months before his death, he told him, “He did not find but he was then as well able to bear the closest study, as he was thirty years before; and could go through the exercises of the pulpit with as little weariness of difficulty.” In his youth he appeared healthy, and with a good degree of vivacity; but was never robust. In middle life, he appeared very much emaciated (I had almost said, mortified) by severe studies, and intense applications of thought. Hence his voice was a little languid, and too low for a large assembly; though much relieved and advantaged by a proper emphasis, just cadence, well-placed pauses, and great distinctness in pronunciation.
He had a piercing eye, the truest index of the mind. His aspect and mien had a mixture of severity and pleasantry. He had a natural turn for gravity and sedateness; ever contemplative; and in conversation usually reserved, but always observant of a genuine decorum in his deportment; free from sullen, supercilious, and contemptuous airs, and without any appearance of ostentation, levity, or vanity. As to imagination, he had enough of it for a great and good man: but the gaieties of a luxuriant fancy, so captivating to many, were what he neither affected himself, nor was much delighted with in others. He had a natural steadiness of temper, and fortitude of mind; which being sanctified by the Spirit of God, was ever of vast advantage to him, to carry him through difficult services, and support him under trying afflictions, in the course of his life. Personal injuries he bore with a becoming meekness and patience, and a disposition to forgiveness. The humility, modesty, and serenity of his behavior, much endeared him to his acquaintance; and made him appear amiable in the eyes of such as had the privilege of conversing with him. He was a true and faithful friend; and showed much of a disinterested benevolence to his neighbour. The several relations sustained by him, he adorned with an exemplary conduct; and was solicitous to fill every station with its proper duty. He kept up an extensive correspondence, with ministers and others, in various parts; and his letters always contained some significant and valuable communications. In his private walk, as a Christian, he appeared an example of truly rational, consistent, uniform religion and virtue: a shining instance of the power and efficacy of that holy faith, to which he was so firmly attached, and of which he was so strenuous a defender. He exhibited much of spirituality, and a heavenly bent of soul. In him one saw the loveliest appearance, a rare assemblage of christian graces, united with the richest gifts, and mutually subserving and recommending one another.
As a scholar, his intellectual furniture exceeded what is common, considering the disadvantages we labour under in this remote corner of the world. He very early discovered a genius above the ordinary size; which gradually ripened and expanded, by daily exertion and application. He was remarkable for the penetration and extent of his understanding, for his powers of criticism and accurate distinction, quickness of thought, solidity of judgment, and force of reasoning; which made him an acute and strong disputant. By nature he was formed for a logician, and a metaphysician; but by speculation, observation, and converse, greatly improved. He had a good insight into the whole circle of liberal arts and sciences; possessed a very valuable stock of classic learning, philosophy, mathematics, history, chronology, &c. By the blessing of God on his indefatigable studiousness, to the last, he was constantly treasuring up useful knowledge, both human and divine.
Thus he appears uncommonly accomplished for the arduous and momentous province to which he was finally called. And had Heaven indulged us with the continuance of his precious life, we have reason to think, he would have graced his new station, and been a signal blessing to the college, and therein extensively served his generation, according to the will of God.
After all, it must be owned, divinity was his favourite study; and the ministry, his most delightful employment. Among the luminaries of the church, in these American regions, he was justly reputed a star of the first magnitude; thoroughly versed in all the branches of theology, didactic, polemic, casuistic, experimental, and practical. In point of divine knowledge and skill, he had few equals, and perhaps no superior, at least in these parts. On the maturest examination of the different schemes of principles, obtaining in the world, and on comparing them with the sacred Scriptures, the oracles of God and the great standard of truth, he was a Protestant and a Calvinist in judgment; adhering to the main articles of the reformed religion with an unshaken firmness, and with a fervent zeal, but tempered with charity and candor, and governed by discretion. He seemed as little as most men under the bias of education, or the influence of bigotry. As to practical and vital Christianity, no man appeared to have a better acquaintance with its nature and importance; or to understand true religion, and feel its power, more than he; which made him an excellently fit guide to inquiring souls, and qualified him to guard them against all false religion. His internal sense of the intercourse between God and souls, being brought by him to the severe test of reason and revelation, preserved him, both in sentiment and conduct, from the least tincture of enthusiasm. The accomplished divine enters deep into his character.
As a preacher, he was judicious, solid, and instructive. Seldom was he known to bring controversy into the pulpit; or to handle any subject in the nicer modes and forms of scholastic dissertation. His sermons, in general, seemed to vary exceedingly from his controversial compositions. In his preaching, usually, all was plain, familiar, sententious, practical; and very distant from any affectation of appearing the great man, or displaying his extraordinary abilities as a scholar. But still he ever preserved the character of a skilful and thorough divine. The common themes of his ministry were the most weighty and profitable; and especially, the great truths of the gospel of Christ, in which he himself lived by faith. His method in preaching was, first to apply to the understanding and judgment, labouring to enlighten and convince them; and then to persuade the will, engage the affections, and excite the active powers of the soul. His language was with propriety and purity, but with a noble negligence; nothing ornamented. Florid diction was not the beauty he preferred. His talents were of a superior kind. He regarded thoughts, rather than words. Precision of sentiment and clearness of expression are the principal characteristics of his pulpit style. Neither quick nor slow of speech, there was a certain pathos in his utterance, and such skill of address, as seldom failed to draw the attention, warm the hearts, and stimulate the consciences of the auditory. He studied to show himself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. And he was one who gave himself to prayer, as well as to the ministry of the word. Agreeably it pleased God to put great honour upon him, by crowning his labours with surprising successes, in the conversion of sinners, and the edification of saints, to the advancement of the kingdom and glory of God our Savior Jesus Christ.
As a writer, Mr. Edwards distinguished himself in controversy, to which he was called on a variety of occasions. Here the superiority of his genius eminently appeared. He knew to arrange his ideas in an exact method: and close application of mind, with the uncommon strength of his intellectual powers, enabled him in a manner to exhaust every subject he took under consideration. He diligently employed the latter part of his life in defending Christianity, both in its doctrinal and practical views, against the errors of the times. Besides his excellent writings in behalf of the power 145 of godliness, which some years ago happily prevailed in many parts of the British America, he made a noble stand against enthusiasm and false religion, when it threatened to spread, by his incomparable treatise upon religious affections. And more lately in opposition to Pelagian, Arminian, and other false principles, he published a very elaborate Treatise upon the Liberty of the human Will. A volume, that has procured him the eulogy of eminent divines abroad. Several professors of divinity in the Dutch universities very lately sent him their thanks, for the assistance he had given them in their inquiry into some controverted points; having carried his own further than any author they had ever seen. And now this volume of his, on the great christian doctrine of original sin, is presented to public view; which, though studiously adapted to lower capacities, yet carries in it the evident traces of his great genius, and seems with superior force of argument to have entirely baffled the opponent.
His writings will perpetuate his memory, and make his name blossom in the dust. The blessing of Heaven attending the perusal of them, will make them effectually conducive to the glory of God, and the good of souls; which will brighten the author’s crown, and add to his joy, in the day of future retribution.
The author's Preface.
The following Discourse in intended, not merely as an answer to any particular book written against the doctrine of Original Sin, but as a general defence of that great important doctrine. Nevertheless, I have in this defence taken notice of the main things said against this doctrine, by such of the more noted opposers of it as I have had opportunity to read: particularly those two late writers, Dr. Turnbull and Dr. Taylor, of Norwich; but especially the latter, in what he has published in those two books of his, the first entitled, The Scripture-Doctrine of Original Sin proposed to free and candid Examination; the other, his Key to the Apostolic Writings, with a Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistle to the Romans. I have closely attended to Dr. Taylor’s Piece on Original Sin, in all its parts, and have endeavored that no one thing there said, of any consequence in this controversy, should pass unnoticed, or that any thing which has the appearance of an argument, in opposition to this doctrine, should be left unanswered. I look on the doctrine as of great importance; which every body will doubtless own it is, if it be true. For, if the case be such indeed, that all mankind are by nature in a state of total ruin, both with respect to the moral evil of which they are the subjects, and the afflictive evil to which they are exposed, the one as the consequence and punishment of the other; then, doubtless, the great salvation by christ stands in direct relation to this ruin, as the remedy to the disease; and the whole gospel, or doctrine of salvation, must suppose it; and all real belief, or true notion of that gospel, must be built upon it. Therefore, as I think the doctrine is most certainly both true and important, I hope, my attempting a vindication of it, will be candidly interpreted; and that what I have done towards its defence, will be impartially considered, by all that will give themselves the trouble to read the ensuing discourse; in which it is designed to examine every thing material throughout the Doctor’s whole book, and many things in that other book, containing his Key and Exposition on Romans; as also many things written in opposition to this doctrine by some other modern authors. Moreover, my discourse being not only intended for an answer to Dr. Taylor, and other opposers of the doctrine of original sin, but for a general defence of that doctrine; producing the evidence of the truth of the doctrine, as well as answering objections made against it; I hope this attempt of mine will not be thought needless, nor be altogether useless, notwithstanding other publications on the subject.
I would also hope, that the extensiveness of the plan of the following treatise will excuse the length of it. And that when it is considered, how much was absolutely requisite to the full executing of a design formed on such a plan; how much has been written against the doctrine of original sin, and with what plausibility; how strong the prejudices of many are in favour of what is said in opposition to this doctrine—and that it cannot be expected, any thing short of a full consideration of almost every argument advanced by the main opposers, especially by this late and specious writer, Dr. Taylor, will satisfy many readers—how much must unavoidably be said in order to a full handling of the arguments in defence of the doctrine; and how important the doctrine must be, if true; I trust, the length of the following discourse will not be thought to exceed what the case really required. However, this must be left to the judgment of the intelligent and candid reader.
Stockbridge, May 26, 1757.
Note:—When the page is referred to in this manner, p. 40. p. 50. without mentioning the book, thereby is to be understood such a page in Dr. Taylor’s Scripture-Doctrine of Original Sin. S. intends the Supplement. When the word Key is used to signify the book referred to, thereby is to be understood Dr. Taylor’s KEY to the Apostolic Writings. This mark [§] with figures or a number annexed, signifies such a section or paragraph in his Key. When after mentioning Preface to Par. on Epist. to Romans, there is subjoined p. 145. 47. or the like, thereby is intended page and paragraph, page 145, paragraph 47. The letter T. alone, is used to signify Dr. Taylor’s name, and no other. 146
GREAT CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
ORIGINAL SIN DEFENDED.
PART I. Evidences of Original Sin from Facts and Events.
wherein are considered some evidences of original sin from facts and events, as founded by observation and experience, together with representations and testimonies of holy scripture, and the confession and assertion of opposers.
CHAPTER I. The Evidence of the Doctrine from Facts.
THE EVIDENCE OF ORIGINAL SIN FROM WHAT APPEARS IN FACT OF THE SINFULNESS OF MANKIND.
SECTION I. All men tend to sin and ruin.
All mankind constantly, in all ages, without fail in any one instance, run into that moral evil, which is in effect their own utter and eternal perdition in a total privation of god’s favour, and suffering of his vengeance and wrath.
By Original Sin, as the phrase has been most commonly used by divines, is meant the innate sinful depravity of the heart. But yet when the doctrine of original sin is spoken of, it is vulgarly understood in that latitude, which includes not only the depravity of nature, but the imputation of Adam’s first sin; or, in other words, the liableness or exposedness of Adam’s posterity, in the divine judgment, to partake of the punishment of that sin. So far as I know, most of those who have held one of these, have maintained the other; and most of those who have opposed one, have opposed the other; both are opposed by the author chiefly attended to in the following discourse, in his book against original sin: and it may perhaps appear in our future consideration of the subject, that they are closely connected; that the arguments which prove the one establish the other, and that there are no more difficulties attending the allowing of one, than the other.
I shall, in the first place, consider this doctrine more especially with regard to the corruption of nature; and as we treat of this, the other will naturally come into consideration, in the prosecution of the discourse, as connected with it. As all moral qualities, all principles either of virtue or vice, lie in the disposition of the heart, I shall consider whether we have any evidence, that the heart of man is naturally of a corrupt and evil disposition. This is strenuously denied by many late writers, who are enemies to the doctrine of original sin; and particularly by Dr. Taylor.
The way we come by the idea of any such thing as disposition or tendency, is by observing what is constant or general in event; especially under a great variety of circumstances; and above all, when the effect or event continues the same through great and various opposition, much and manifold force and means used to the contrary not prevailing to hinder the effect. I do not know, that such a prevalence of effects is denied to be an evidence of prevailing tendency in causes and agents; or that it is expressly denied by the opposers of the doctrine of original sin, that if, in the course of events, it universally or generally proves that mankind are actually corrupt, this would be an evidence of a prior corrupt propensity in the world of mankind; whatever may be said by some, which, if taken with its plain consequences, may seem to imply a denial of this; which may be considered afterwards. But by many the fact is denied; that is, it is denied, that corruption and moral evil are commonly prevalent in the world: on the contrary, it is insisted on, that good preponderates, and that virtue has the ascendant.
To this purpose, Dr. Turnbull says,  “With regard to the prevalence of vice in the world, men are apt to let their imagination run out upon all the robberies, piracies, murders, perjuries, frauds, massacres, assassinations they have either heard of, or read in history; thence concluding all mankind to be very wicked. As if a court of justice were a proper place to make an estimate of the morals of mankind, or an hospital of the healthfulness of a climate. But ought they not to consider, that the number of honest citizens and farmers far surpasses that of all sorts of criminals in any state, and that the innocent and kind actions of even criminals themselves surpass their crimes in numbers; that it is the rarity of crimes, in comparison of innocent or good actions, which engages our attention to them, and makes them to be recorded in history, while honest, generous domestic actions are overlooked, only because they are so common? as one great danger, or one month’s sickness, shall become a frequently repeated story during a long life of health and safety.—Let not the vices of mankind be multiplied or magnified. Let us make a fair estimate of human life, and set over against the shocking, the astonishing instances of barbarity and wickedness that have been perpetrated in any age, not only the exceeding generous and brave actions with which history shines, but the prevailing innocency, good-nature, industry, felicity, and cheerfulness of the greater part of mankind at all times; and we shall not find reason to cry out, as objectors against Providence do on this occasion, that all men are vastly corrupt, and that there is hardly any such thing as virtue in the world. Upon a fair computation, the fact does indeed come out, that very great villanies have been very uncommon in all ages, and looked upon as monstrous; so general is the sense and esteem of virtue.”—It seems to be with a like view that Dr. Taylor says, “We must not take the measure of our health and enjoyments from a lazar-house, nor of our understanding from Bedlam, nor of our morals from a gaol.” (P. 77. S.)
With respect to the propriety and pertinence of such a representation of things, and its force as to the consequence 147 designed, I hope we shall be better able to judge, and in some measure to determine, whether the natural disposition of the hearts of mankind be corrupt or not, when the things which follow have been considered. But for the greater clearness, it may be proper here to premise one consideration, that is of great importance in this controversy, and is very much overlooked by the opposers of the doctrine of original sin in their disputing against it.
That it is to be looked upon as the true tendency of the innate disposition of man’s heart, which appears to be its tendency, when we consider things as they are in themselves, or in their own nature, without the interposition of divine grace. Thus, that state of man’s nature, that disposition of the mind, is to be looked upon as evil and pernicious, which, as it is in itself, tends to extremely pernicious consequences, and would certainly end therein, were it not that the free mercy and kindness of God interposes to prevent that issue. It would be very strange if any should argue, that there is no evil tendency in the case, because the mere favour and compassion of the Most High may step in and oppose the tendency, and prevent the sad effect. Particularly, if there be any thing in the nature of man, whereby he has an universal unfailing tendency to that moral evil, which, according to the real nature and true demerit of things, as they are in themselves, implies his utter ruin, that must be looked upon as an evil tendency or propensity; however divine grace may interpose, to save him from deserved ruin, and to overrule things to an issue contrary to that which they tend to of themselves. Grace is sovereign, exercised according to the good pleasure of God, bringing good out of evil. The effect of it belongs not to the nature of things themselves, that otherwise have an ill tendency, any more than the remedy belongs to the disease; but is something altogether independent on it, introduced to oppose the natural tendency, and reverse the course of things. But the event to which things tend, according to their own demerit, and according to divine justice, is the event to which they tend in their own nature; as Dr. T.’s own words fully imply, (Pref. to Par. on Rom. p. 131.) “God alone (says he) can declare whether he will pardon or punish the ungodliness and unrighteousness of mankind, which is in its own nature punishable.” Nothing is more precisely according to the truth of things, than divine justice: it weighs things in an even balance; it views and estimates things no otherwise than they are truly in their own nature. Therefore undoubtedly that which implies a tendency to ruin, according to the estimate of divine justice, does indeed imply such a tendency in its own nature.
And then it must be remembered, that it is a moral depravity we are speaking of; and therefore when we are considering whether such depravity do not appear by a tendency to a bad effect or issue, it is a moral tendency to such an issue, that is the thing to be taken into the account. A moral tendency or influence is by desert. Then may it be said, man’s nature or state is attended with a pernicious or destructive tendency, in a moral sense, when it tends to that which deserves misery and destruction. And therefore it equally shows the moral depravity of the nature of mankind in their present state, whether that nature be universally attended with an effectual tendency to destructive vengeance actually executed, or to their deserving misery and ruin, or their just exposedness, to destruction, however that fatal consequence may be prevented by grace or whatever the actual event be.
One thing more is to be observed here, that the topic mainly insisted on by the opposers of the doctrine of original sin, is the justice of God; both in their objections against the imputation of Adam’s sin, and also against its being so ordered, that men should come into the world with a corrupt and ruined nature, without having merited the displeasure of their Creator by any personal fault. But the latter is not repugnant to God’s justice, if men actually are born into the world with a tendency to sin, and to misery and ruin for their sin, which actually will be the consequence, unless mere grace steps in and prevents it. If this be allowed, the argument from justice is given up: For it is to suppose, that their liableness to misery and ruin comes in a way of justice; otherwise there would be no need of the interposition of divine grace to save them. Justice alone would be sufficient security, if exercised, without grace. It is all one in this dispute about what is just and righteous, whether men are born in a miserable state, by a tendency to ruin, which actually follows, and that justly; or whether they are born in such a state as tends to a desert of ruin, which might justly follow, and would actually follow, did not grace prevent. For the controversy is not, what grace will do, but what justice might do.
I have been the more particular on this head, because it enervates many of the reasonings and conclusions by which Dr. T. makes out his scheme; in which he argues from that state which mankind are in by divine grace, yea, which he himself supposes to be by divine grace; and yet not making any allowance for this, he from hence draws conclusions against what others suppose of the deplorable and ruined state mankind are in by the fall.  Some of his arguments and conclusions to this effect, in order to be made good, must depend on such a supposition as this;—that God’s dispensations of grace, are rectifications or amendments of his foregoing constitutions and proceedings, which were merely legal; as though the dispensations of grace, which succeed those of mere law, implied an acknowledgment, that the preceding legal constitution would be unjust, if left as it was, or at least very hard dealing with mankind; and that the other were of the nature of a satisfaction to his creatures, for former injuries, or hard treatment. So that, put together the injury with the satisfaction, the legal and injurious dispensation, taken with the following good dispensation, which our author calls grace, and the unfairness or improper severity of the former, amended by the goodness of the latter, both together made up one righteous dispensation.
The reader is desired to bear in mind what I have said concerning the interposition of divine grace not altering the nature of things, as they are in themselves. Accordingly, when I speak of such and such an evil tendency of things, belonging to the present nature and state of mankind, understand me to mean their tendency as they are in themselves, 148 abstracted from any consideration of that remedy the sovereign and infinite grace of God has provided.—Having premised these things, I now assert, that mankind are all naturally in such a state, as is attended, without fail, with this consequence or issue; that they universally run themselves into that which is, in effect, their own utter eternal perdition, as being finally accursed of God, and the subjects of his remediless wrath through sin.—From which I infer, that the natural state of the mind of man is attended with a propensity of nature, which is prevalent and effectual, to such an issue; and that therefore their nature is corrupt and depraved with a moral depravity, that amounts to and implies their utter undoing.
Here I would first consider the truth of the proposition; and then would show the certainty of the consequences which I infer from it. If both can be clearly and certainly proved, then I trust, none will deny but that the doctrine of original depravity is evident, and so the falseness of Dr. T.’s scheme demonstrated; the greatest part of whose book, called the Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin, &c. is against the doctrine of innate depravity. In p. 107. S. he speaks of the conveyance of a corrupt and sinful nature to Adam’s posterity as the grand point to be proved by the maintainers of the doctrine of original sin.
In order to demonstrate what is asserted in the proposition laid down, there is need only that these two things should be made manifest: one is this fact, that all mankind come into the world in such a state, as without fail comes to this issue, namely, the universal commission of sin; or that every one who comes to act in the world as a moral agent, is, in a greater or less degree, guilty of sin. The other is, that all sin deserves and exposes to utter and eternal destruction, unto God’s wrath and curse; and would end in it, were it not for the interposition of divine grace to prevent the effect. Both which can be abundantly demonstrated to be agreeable to the Word of God, and to Dr. T.’s own doctrine.
That everyone of mankind, at least
such as are capable of acting as moral agents, are guilty of sin, (not
now taking it for granted that they come guilty into the world,) is
most clearly and abundantly evident from the Holy Scriptures:
There are many scriptures which both declare the universal sinfulness of mankind, and also that all sin deserves and justly exposes to everlasting destruction, under
the wrath and curse of God; and so demonstrate both parts of the
proposition I have laid down. To which purpose that passage in
To the like purpose is
All these things are what Dr. Taylor himself confesses and asserts. He says, that the law of God requires perfect obedience. (Note on
But this is very fully declared in what he says in his note on
And here also we see, Dr. T. declares, that by the law men are sentenced to everlasting ruin for
one transgression. To the like purpose he often expresses himself. So
p. 207. “The law requireth the most extensive obedience, discovering
sin in all its branches.—It gives sin a deadly force, subjecting every
transgression to the penalty of death; and yet supplieth neither help
nor hope to the sinner, but leaving him under the power of sin and
sentence of death.” In p. 213. he speaks of the law as extending to lust and irregular desires, and to every branch and principle of sin; and even to its latent principles, and minutest branches; again (Note on
He also supposes, that this sentence of the law, thus subjecting men for every, even the least, sin, and every minutest branch and latent principle of sin, to so dreadful a punishment, is just and righteous, agreeable to truth and the nature of things, or to the natural and proper demerits of sin. In
this he is very full. Thus in p. 186. P. “It was sin (says he) which
subjected us to death by the law, justly threatening sin with death.
Which law was given us, that sin might appear; might be set forth in
its proper colours; when we saw it subjected us to death by a law
perfectly holy, just and good; that sin by the commandment, by the law,
might be represented what it really is, an exceeding great and deadly
evil.” So in note on
If the law be holy, just, and good, a constitution perfectly agreeable to God’s holiness, justice, and goodness; then he might have put it exactly in execution, agreeably to all these his perfections. Our author himself says, p. 133. S. “How that constitution, which establishes a law, the making of which is inconsistent with the justice and goodness of God, and the executing of it inconsistent with his holiness, can be a righteous constitution, I confess, is quite beyond my comprehension.”
Now the reader is left to judge, whether it be not most plainly and fully agreeable to Dr. T.’s own doctrine, that there never was any one person from the beginning of the world, who came to act in the world as a moral agent, and that it is not to be hoped there ever will be any, but what is a sinner or transgressor of the law of God; and that therefore this proves to be the issue and event of things, with respect to all mankind in all ages, that, by the natural and proper demerit of their own sinfulness, and in the judgment of the law of God, which is perfectly consonant to truth, and exhibits things in their true colours, they are the proper subjects of the curse of God, eternal death, and everlasting ruin; which must be the actual consequence, unless the grace or favour of the lawgiver interpose, and mercy prevail for their pardon and salvation. The reader has seen also how agreeable this is to the doctrine of the Holy Scripture. If so, and if the interposition of divine grace alters not the nature of things as they are in themselves, and that it does not in the least affect the state of the controversy we are upon—concerning the true nature and tendency of the state in which mankind come into the world—whether grace prevents the fatal effect or no; I trust, none will deny, that the proposition laid down, is fully proved, as agreeable to the Word of God, and Dr. T.’s own words; viz. That mankind are all naturally in such a state, as is attended, without fail, with this consequence or issue, that they universally are the subjects of that guilt and sinfulness, which is, in effect, their utter and eternal ruin, being cast wholly out of the favour of God, and subjected to his everlasting wrath and curse.
SECTION II. Universal sin proves a sinful propensity.
It follows from the proposition proved in the foregoing section, that all mankind are under the influence of a prevailing effectual tendency in their nature, to that sin and wickedness, which implies their utter and eternal ruin.
The proposition laid down being proved, the consequence of it remains to be made out, viz. That the mind of man has a natural tendency or propensity to that event, which has been show universally and infallibly to take place; and that this is a corrupt or depraved propensity.—I shall here consider the former part of this consequence, namely, Whether such an universal, constant, infallible event is truly a proof of any tendency or propensity to that event; leaving the evil and corrupt nature of such a propensity to be considered afterwards.
If any should say, they do not think that its being a thing universal and infallible in event, that mankind commit some sin, is a proof of a prevailing tendency to sin; because they do good, and perhaps more good than evil: Let them remember, that the question at present is not, How much sin there is a tendency to; but whether there be a prevailing propensity to that issue, which it is allowed all men do actually come to—that all fail of keeping the law perfectly—whether there be not a tendency to such imperfection of obedience, as always without fail comes to pass; to that degree of sinfulness, at least, which all fall into; and so to that utter ruin, which that sinfulness implies and infers. Whether an effectual propensity to this be worth the name of depravity, because the good that may be supposed to balance it, shall be considered by and by. If all mankind in all nations and ages, were at least one day in their lives deprived of the use of their reason, and raving mad; or that all, even every individual person, once cut their own throats, or put out their own eyes; it might be an evidence of some tendency in the nature or natural state of mankind to such an event; though they might exercise reason many more days than they were distracted, and were kind to and tender of themselves oftener than they mortally and cruelly wounded themselves.
To determine whether the unfailing constancy of the above-named event be an evidence of tendency, let it be considered, What can be meant by tendency, but a prevailing liableness or exposedness to such or such an event? Wherein consists the notion of any such thing, but some stated prevalence or preponderation in the nature or state of causes or occasions, that is followed by, and so proves to be effectual to, a stated prevalence or commonness of any particular kind of effect? Or something in the permanent 150 state of things, concerned in bringing a certain sort of event to pass, which is a foundation for the constancy, or strongly prevailing probability, of such an event? If we mean this by tendency, (and I know not what else can be meant by it, but this, or something like), then it is manifest, that where we see a stated prevalence of any effect there is a tendency to that effect in the nature and state of its causes. A common and steady effect shows, that there is somewhere a preponderation, a prevailing exposedness or liableness in the state of things, to what comes so steadily to pass. The natural dictate of reason shows, that where there is an effect, there is a cause, and a cause sufficient for the effect; because, if it were not sufficient, it would not be effectual; and that therefore, where there is a stated prevalence of the effect, there is a stated prevalence in the cause. A steady effect argues a steady cause. We obtain a notion of tendency, no other way than by observation: and we can observe nothing but events: and it is the commonness or constancy of events, that gives us a notion of tendency in all cases. Thus we judge of tendencies in the natural world. Thus we judge of the tendencies or propensities of nature in minerals, vegetables, animals, rational and irrational creatures. A notion of a stated tendency, or fixed propensity, is not obtained by observing only a single event. A stated preponderation in the cause or occasion, is argued only by a stated prevalence of the effect. If a die be once thrown, and it falls on a particular side, we do not argue from hence, that that side is the heaviest; but if it be thrown without skill or care, many thousands or millions of times, and it constantly falls on the same side, we have not the least doubt in our minds, but that there is something of propensity in the case, by superior weight of that side, or in some other respect. How ridiculous would he make himself, who should earnestly dispute against any tendency in the state of things to cold in the winter, or heat in the summer; or should stand to it, that although it often happened that water quenched fire, yet there was no tendency in it to such an effect!
In the case we are upon, human nature, as existing in such an immense diversity of persons and circumstances, and never failing in any one instance of coming to that issue—that sinfulness, which implies extreme misery and eternal ruin—is as the die often cast. For it alters not the case in the least, as to the evidence of tendency, whether the subject of the constant event be an individual, or a nature and kind. Thus, if there be a succession of trees of the same sort, proceeding one from another, from the beginning of the world, growing in all countries, soils, and climates, all bearing ill fruit; it as much proves the nature and tendency of the kind, as if it were only one individual tree, that had remained from the beginning of the world, often transplanted into different soils, and had continued to bear only bad fruit. So, if there were a particular family, which, from generation to generation, and through every remove to innumerable different countries, and places of abode, all died of a consumption, or all run distracted, or all murdered themselves, it would be as much an evidence of the tendency of something in the nature or constitution of that race, as it would be of the tendency of something in the nature or state of an individual, if some one person had lived all that time, and some remarkable event had often appeared in him, which he had been the agent or subject of from year to year, and from age to age, continually and without fail. 
Thus a propensity, attending the
present nature or natural state of mankind, eternally to ruin
themselves by sin, may certainly be inferred from apparent and
acknowledged fact.—And I would now observe further, that not only does
this follow from facts acknowledged by Dr. T. but the things he asserts, and the expressions which he uses, plainly imply that all mankind have such a propensity; yea, one of the highest kind, a propensity that is
invincible, or a tendency which really amounts to a fixed, constant, unfailing necessity.
There is a plain confession of a propensity or proneness to sin, p.
143.—“Man, who drinketh in iniquity like water; who is attended with so
many sensual appetites, and so APT to indulge them.”—And again, p. 228.
“we are very apt, in a world full of temptation, to be deceived, and
drawn into sin by bodily appetites.” If we are very apt or prone to be drawn into sin by bodily appetites,
and sinfully to indulge them, and very apt or prone to yield to temptation to sin, then we are prone to sin; for to yield to temptation to sin is sinful.—In the same page he shows, that on this account, and its consequences, the
case of those who are under a law, threatening death for every sin,
must be quite deplorable, if they have no relief from the mercy of the
lawgiver. Which implies, that their case is hopeless, as to an escape from death, the punishment
of sin, by any other means than God’s mercy. And that implies such an aptness
to yield to temptation, as renders it hopeless that any of mankind
should wholly avoid it. But he speaks of it elsewhere, over and over,
as truly impossible, or what cannot be; as in the words before cited in the last section, from his note on
It is manifest, that this tendency, which has been proved, does not consist in any particular external circumstances that persons are in, peculiarly influencing their minds; but is inherent, and is seated in that nature which is common to all mankind, which they carry with them wherever they go, and still remains the same, however circumstances may differ. For it is implied in what has been proved, and shown to be confessed, that the same event comes to pass in all circumstances. In God’s sight no man living can be justified; but all are sinners, and exposed to condemnation. This is true of persons of all constitutions, capacities, conditions, manners, opinions, and educations; in all countries, climates, nations, and ages; and through all the mighty changes and revolutions, which have come to pass in the habitable world.
We have the same evidence, that the propensity in this case lies in the nature of the subject—and does not arise from any particular circumstances—as we have in any case whatsoever; which is only by the effects appearing to be the same in all changes of time and place, and under all varieties of circumstances. It is in this way only we judge, that any propensities, which we observe in mankind 151, are seated in their nature, in all other cases. It is thus we judge of the mutual propensity betwixt the sexes, or of the dispositions which are exercised in any of the natural passions or appetites, that they truly belong to the nature of man; because they are observed in mankind in general, through all countries, nations, and ages, and in all conditions.
If any should say, Though it be evident that there is a tendency in the state of things to this general event—that all mankind should fail of perfect obedience, and should sin, and incur a demerit of eternal ruin; and also that this tendency does not lie in any distinguishing circumstances of any particular people, person, or age—yet it may not lie in man’s nature, but in the general constitution and frame of this world. Though the nature of man may be good, without any evil propensity inherent in it; yet the nature and universal state of this world may be full of so many and strong temptations, and of such powerful influence on such a creature as man, dwelling in so infirm a body, &c. that the result of the whole may be a strong and infallible tendency in such a state of things, to the sin and eternal ruin of every one of mankind.
To this I would reply, that such an evasion will not at all avail to the purpose of those whom I oppose in this controversy. It alters not the case as to this question, Whether man, in his present state, is depraved and ruined by propensities to sin. If any creature be of such a nature that it proves evil in its proper place, or in the situation which God has assigned it in the universe, it is of any evil nature. That part of the system is not good, which is not good in its place in the system; and those inherent qualities of that part of the system, which are not good, but corrupt, in that place, are justly looked upon as evil inherent qualities. That propensity is truly esteemed to belong to the nature of any being, or to be inherent in it, that is the necessary consequence of its nature, considered together with its proper situation in the universal system of existence, whether that propensity be good or bad. It is the nature of a stone to be heavy; but yet, if it were placed, as it might be, at a distance from this world, it would have no such quality. But being a stone, is of such a nature, that it will have this quality or tendency, in its proper place, in this world, where God has made it, it is properly looked upon as a propensity belonging to its nature. And if it be a good propensity here, in its proper place, then it is a good quality of its nature; but if it be contrariwise, it is an evil natural quality. So, if mankind are of such a nature, that they have an universal effectual tendency to sin and ruin in this world, where God has made and placed them, this is to be looked upon as a pernicious tendency belonging to their nature. There is, perhaps, scarce any such thing, in beings not independent and self-existent, as any power or tendency, but what has some dependence on other beings, with which they stand connected in the universal system of existence. Propensities are no propensities, any otherwise, than as taken with their objects. Thus it is with the tendencies observed in natural bodies, such as gravity, magnetism, electricity, &c. And thus it is with the propensities observed in the various kinds of animals; and thus it is with most of the propensities in created spirits.
It may further be observed, that it is exactly the same thing, as to the controversy concerning an agreeableness with God’s moral perfections of such a disposal of things—that man should come into the world in a depraved and ruined state, by a propensity to sin and ruin—whether God has so ordered it, that this propensity should lie in his nature considered alone, or with relation to its situation in the universe, and its connexion with other parts of the system to which the Creator has united it; which is as much of God’s ordering, as man’s nature itself, most simply considered.
Dr. T. (p. 188, 189.) speaking of the attempt of some to solve the difficulty of God being the author of our nature, and yet that our nature is polluted, by supposing that God makes the soul pure, but unites it to a polluted body, (or a body so made, as tends to pollute the soul,) he cries out of it as weak and insufficient, and too gross to be admitted: For, says he, who infused the soul into the body? And if it is polluted by being infused into the body, who is the author and cause of its pollution? And who created the body? &c.—But is not the case just the same, as to those who suppose that God made the soul pure, and places it in a polluted world, or a world tending, by its natural state in which it is made, to pollute the soul, or to have such an influence upon it, that it shall without fail be polluted with sin, and eternally ruined? Here may not I also cry out, on as good grounds as Dr. T.—Who placed the soul here in this world? And if the world be polluted, or so constituted as naturally and infallibly to pollute the soul with sin, who is the cause of this pollution? And, who created the world?
Though in the place now cited, Dr. T. so insists upon it, that God must be answerable for the pollution of the soul, if he has infused or put the soul into a body that tends to pollute it; yet this is the very thing which he himself supposes to be fact, with respect to the soul being created by God, in such a body, and in such a world; where he says, “We are apt, in a world full of temptation, to be drawn into sin by bodily appetites.” And if so, according to his way of reasoning, God must be the author and cause of this aptness to be drawn into sin. Again, p. 143. we have these words, ”Who drinketh in iniquity like water? Who is attended with so many sensual appetites, and so apt to indulge them?” In these words our author in effect says the individual things that he exclaims against as so gross, viz. The tendency of the body, as God has made it, to pollute the soul, which he has infused into it. These sensual appetites, which incline the soul, or make it apt, to a sinful indulgence, are either from the body which God hath made, or otherwise a proneness to sinful indulgence is immediately and originally seated in the soul itself, which will not mend the matter.
I would lastly observe, that our author insists upon it, p. 42. S. That this lower world, in its present state, “Is as it was, when, upon a review, God pronounced it, and all its furniture, very good.—And that the present form and furniture of the earth is full of God’s riches, mercy, and goodness, and of the most evident tokens of his love and bounty to the inhabitants.” If so, there can be no room for evading the evidences from fact, of the universal infallible tendency of man’s nature to sin and eternal perdition; since, on the supposition, the tendency to this issue does not lie in the general constitution and frame of this world, which God hath made to be the habitation of mankind.
SECTION III. This tendency most corrupt and pernicious.
That propensity, which has been proved to be in the nature of all mankind, must be a very evil, depraved, and pernicious propensity; making it manifest, that the soul of man, as it is by nature, is in a corrupt, fallen, and ruined state; which is the other part of the consequence, drawn from the proposition laid down in the first section.
The question to be considered, in order to determine whether man’s nature be depraved and ruined, is not, Whether he is inclined to perform as many good deeds as bad ones? But, to which of these two he preponderates, in the frame of his heart, and the state of his nature, a state of innocence and righteousness, and favour with God; or a state of sin, guiltiness, and abhorrence in the sight of God?—Persevering sinless righteousness, or else the guilt of sin, is the alternative, on the decision of which depends—according to the nature and truth of things, as they are in themselves, and according to the rule of right, and of perfect justice—man being approved and accepted of his Maker and eternally blessed as good; or his being rejected, and cursed as bad. And therefore the determination of the tendency of man’s heart and nature, with respect to these terms, is that which is to be looked at, in order to determine whether his nature is good or evil, pure or corrupt, sound or ruined. If such be man’s nature, and the state of his heart, that he has an infallibly effectual propensity to the latter of those terms; then it is wholly impertinent to talk of the innocent and kind actions, even of criminals themselves, surpassing their 152 crimes in numbers, and of the prevailing innocence, good nature, industry, felicity, and cheerfulness of the greater part of mankind. Let never so many thousands or millions of acts of honesty, good nature, &c. be supposed; yet, by the supposition, there is an unfailing propensity to such moral evil, as in its dreadful consequences infinitely outweighs all effects or consequences of any supposed good. Surely that tendency, which, in effect, is an infallible tendency to eternal destruction, is an infinitely dreadful and pernicious tendency: and that nature and frame of mind, which implies such a tendency, must be an infinitely dreadful and pernicious frame of mind. It would be much more absurd to suppose, that such a state of nature is not bad, under a notion of men doing more honest and kind things than evil ones; than to say, the state of that ship is good, for crossing the Atlantic ocean, though such as cannot hold together through the voyage, but will infallibly founder and sink, under a notion that it may probably go great part of the way before it sinks, or that it will proceed and sail above water more hours than it will be in sinking: or, to pronounce that road a good road to go to such a place, the greater part of which is plain and safe, though some parts of it are dangerous, and certainly fatal, to them that travel in it; or to call that a good propensity, which is an inflexible inclination to travel in such a way.
A propensity to that sin which brings God’s eternal wrath and curse (which has been proved to belong to the nature of man) is evil, not only as it is calamitous and sorrowful, ending in great natural evil; but as it is odious and detestable; for by the supposition, it tends to that moral evil, by which the subject becomes odious in the sight of God, and liable, as such, to be condemned, and utterly rejected, and cursed by him. This also makes it evident, that the state which it has been proved mankind are in, is a corrupt state in a moral sense, that it is inconsistent with the fulfillment of the law of God, which is the rule of moral rectitude and goodness. That tendency, which is opposite to what the moral law requires, and prone to that which the moral law utterly forbids, and eternally condemns, is doubtless a corrupt tendency, in a moral sense.
So that this depravity is both odious, and also pernicious, fatal and destructive, in the highest sense; as inevitably tending to that which implies man’s eternal ruin. It shows, that man, as he is by nature, is in a deplorable state, in the highest sense. And this proves that men do not come into the world perfectly innocent in the sight of God, and without any just exposedness to his displeasure. For the being by nature in a lost and ruined state, in the highest sense, is not consistent with being by nature in a state of favour with God.
But if any should still insist on a notion of men’s good deeds exceeding their bad ones, and that, seeing the good more than countervails the evil, they cannot be properly denominated evil; all persons and things being most properly denominated from that which prevails, and has the ascendant in them; I would say further, That if there is in man’s nature a tendency to guilt and ill desert, in a vast overbalance to virtue and merit; or a propensity to sin, the demerit of which is so great, that the value and merit of all the virtuous acts that ever he performs, are as nothing to it; then truly the nature of man may be said to be corrupt and evil.
That this is the true case, may be demonstrated by what is evident of the infinite heinousness of sin against God, from the nature of things. The heinousness of this must rise in some proportion to the obligation we are under to regard the Divine Being; and that must be in some proportion to his worthiness of regard; which doubtless is infinitely beyond the worthiness of any of our fellow-creatures. But the merit of our respect or obedience to God is not infinite. The merit of respect to any being does not increase, but is rather diminished, in proportion to the obligations we are under in strict justice to pay him that respect. There is no great merit in paying a debt we owe, and by the highest possible obligations in strict justice are obliged to pay; but there is great demerit in refusing to pay it. That on such accounts as these, there is an infinite demerit in all sin against God, which must therefore immensely outweigh all the merit which can be supposed to be in our virtue, I think, is capable of full demonstration; and that the futility of the objections which some have made against the argument, might most plainly be demonstrated. But I shall omit a particular consideration of the evidence of this matter from the nature of things, as I study brevity, and lest any should cry out, metaphysics! as the manner of some is, when any argument is handled against a tenet they are fond of, with a close and exact consideration of the nature of things. And this is not so necessary in the present case, inasmuch as the point asserted—that he who commits any one sin, has guilt and ill desert so great, that the value and merit of all the good which it is possible he should do in his whole life, is as nothing to it—is not only evident by metaphysics, but is plainly demonstrated by what has been shown to be fact, with respect to God’s own constitutions and dispensations towards mankind. Thus, whatever acts of virtue and obedience a man performs, yet if he trespasses in one point, is guilty of any the least sin, he—according to the law of God, and so according to the exact truth of things, and the proper demerit of sin—is exposed to be wholly cast out of favour with God, and subjected to his curse, to be utterly and eternally destroyed. This has been proved; and shown to be the doctrine which Dr. T. abundantly teaches.
But how can it be agreeable to the nature of things, and exactly consonant to everlasting truth and righteousness, thus to deal with a creature for the least sinful act, though he should perform ever so many thousands of honest and virtuous acts, to countervail the evil of that sin? Or how can it be agreeable to the exact truth and real demerit of things, thus wholly to cast off the deficient creature, without any regard to the merit of all his good deeds, unless that be in truth the case, that the value and merit of all those good actions, bear no proportion to the heinousness of the least sin? If it were not so, one would think, that however the offending person might have some proper punishment, yet seeing there is so much virtue to lay in the balance against the guilt, it would be agreeable to the nature of things, that he should find some favour, and not be altogether rejected, and made the subject of perfect and eternal destruction; and thus no account at all be made of all his virtue, so much as to procure him the least relief or hope. How can such a constitution represent sin in its proper colours, and according to its true nature and desert, (as Dr. T. says it does,) unless this be its true nature, that it is so bad, that even in the least instance it perfectly swallows up all the value of the sinner’s supposed good deeds, let them be ever so many. So that this matter is not left to our metaphysics, or philosophy; the great lawgiver, and infallible judge of the universe, has clearly decided it, in the revelation he has made of what is agreeable to exact truth, justice, and the nature of things, in his revealed law, or rule of righteousness.
He that in any respect or degree is a transgressor of God’s law, is a wicked man, yea, wholly wicked in the eye of the law; all his goodness being esteemed nothing, having no account made of it, when taken together with his wickedness. And therefore, without any regard to his righteousness, he is, by the sentence of the law, and so by the voice of truth and justice, to be treated as worthy to be rejected, abhorred, and cursed forever; and must be so, unless grace interpose, to cover his transgression. But men are really, in themselves, what they are in the eye of the law, and by the voice of strict equity and justice; however they may be looked upon, and treated by infinite and unmerited mercy.
So that, on the whole, it appears, all mankind have an infallibly effectual propensity to that moral evil, which infinitely outweighs the value of all the good that can be in them; and have such a disposition of heart, that the certain consequence of it is, their being, in the eye of perfect truth and righteousness, wicked men. And I leave all to judge, whether such a disposition be not in the eye of truth a depraved disposition?
Agreeable to these things, the
Scripture represents all mankind, not only as having guilt, but immense
guilt, which they can have no merit or worthiness to countervail. Such
is the representation we have in
Therefore how absurd must it be for Christians to object, against the depravity of man’s nature, a greater number of innocent and kind actions, than of crimes; and to talk of a prevailing innocence, good nature, industry, and cheerfulness of the greater part of mankind! Infinitely more absurd, than it would be to insist, that the domestic of a prince was not a bad servant, because though sometimes he contemned and affronted his master to a great degree, yet he did not spit in his master’s face so often as he performed acts of service. More absurd, than it would be to affirm, that his spouse was a good wife to him, because, although she committed adultery, and that with the slaves and scoundrels sometimes, yet she did not do this so often as she did the duties of a wife. These notions would be absurd, because the crimes are too heinous to be atoned for, by many honest actions of the servant or spouse of the prince; there being a vast disproportion between the merit of the one, and the ill desert of the other: but infinitely less, than that between the demerit of our offenses against God, and the value of our acts of obedience.
Thus I have gone through with my first argument; having shown the evidence of the truth of the proposition laid down at first, and proved its consequence. But there are many other things, that manifest a very corrupt tendency or disposition in man’s nature, in his present state, which I shall take notice of in the following sections.
SECTION IV. All men sin immediately, &c.
The depravity of nature appears by a propensity in all to sin immediately, as soon as they are capable of it, and to sin continually and progressively; and also by the remains of sin in the best of men.
The great depravity of man’s nature appears, not only in that they universally commit sin, who spend any long time in the world; but in that men are naturally so prone to sin, that none ever fail of immediately transgressing God’s law, and so of bringing infinite guilt on themselves, and exposing themselves to eternal perdition, as soon as they are capable of it.
The Scriptures are so very express upon it, that all mankind, all flesh, all the world, every man living, are guilty of sin; that it must at least be understood, everyone capable of active duty to God, or of sin against him. There are multitudes in the world, who have but very lately begun to exert their faculties, as moral agents; and so have but just entered on their state trial, as acting for themselves: many thousands constantly, who have not lived one month, or week, or day, since they have arrived at any period that can be assigned (for the commencement of their agency) from their birth to twenty years of age. Now—if there be not a strong propensity in men’s nature to sin, that should, as it were, hurry them on to speedy transgression, and if they have no guilt previous to their personal sinning—what should hinder, but that there might always be a great number, who have hitherto kept themselves free from sin, and have perfectly obeyed God’s law, and so are righteous in his sight, with the righteousness of the law? And who, if they should be called out of the world without any longer trial, as great numbers die at all periods of life, would be justified by the deeds of the law? And how then can it be true, that in God’s sight no man living can be justified, that no man can be just with God, and that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified, because by the law is the knowledge of sin? And what should hinder but that there may always be many in the world—who are capable subjects of instruction and counsel, and of prayer to God—for whom the calls of God’s word to repentance, to seek pardon through the blood of Christ, and to forgive others their injuries because they need that God should forgive them, would not be proper; and for whom the Lord’s prayer is not suitable, wherein Christ directs all his followers to pray, that God would forgive their sins, as they forgive those that trespass against them?
If there are any in the
world—though but lately become capable of acting for themselves, as
subjects of God’s law—who are perfectly free from sin; such are most
likely to be found among the children of Christian parents, who give
them the most pious education, and set them the best examples. And
therefore, such would never be so likely to be found in any part or age
of the world, as in the primitive Christian church, in the first age of
Christianity, (the age of the church’s greatest purity,) so long after
Christianity had been established, that there had been time for great
numbers of children to be born, and educated by those primitive
Christians. It was in that age, and in such a part of that age, that
the apostle John
wrote his first epistle to the Christians. But if there was then a
number of them come to understanding, who were perfectly free from sin,
why should he write as he does?
Again, the reality and greatness of the depravity of man’s nature appears in this, That he has a prevailing propensity to be continually sinning against God. What has been observed above, will clearly prove this. That same disposition of nature, which is an effectual propensity to immediate sin, amounts to a propensity to continual sin. For a being prone to continual sinning, is nothing but a proneness to immediate sin continued. Such appears to be the tendency of nature to sin, that as soon as ever man is capable, it causes him immediately to sin, without suffering any considerable time to pass without sin. And therefore, if the same propensity be continued undiminished, there will be an equal tendency to immediate sinning again, without any considerable time passing. And so the same will always be a disposition still immediately to sin, with as little time passing without sin afterwards, as at first. The only reason that can be given why sinning must be 154immediate at first, is that the disposition is so great, that it will not suffer any considerable time to pass without sin: and therefore, the same disposition being continued in equal degree, without some new restraint, or contrary tendency, it will still equally tend to the same effect. And though it is true, the propensity may be diminished, or have restraints laid upon it, by the gracious disposals of Providence, or the merciful influences of God’s Spirit; yet this is not owing to nature. That strong propensity of nature, by which men are so prone to immediate sinning at first, has no tendency in itself to a diminution; but rather to an increase; as the continued exercise of an evil disposition, in repeated actual sins, tends to strengthen it more and more: agreeable to that observation of Dr. T.’s, p. 228.: “We are apt to be drawn into sin by bodily appetites, and when once we are under the government of these appetites, it is at least exceeding difficult, if not impracticable, to recover ourselves, by the mere force of reason.” The increase of strength of disposition in such a case, is as in a falling body, the strength of its tendency to descend is continually increased, so long as its motion is continued. Not only a constant commission of sin, but a constant increase in the habits and practice of wickedness, is the true tendency of man’s depraved nature, if unrestrained by divine grace; as the true tendency of the nature of a heavy body, if obstacles are removed, is not only to fall with a continual motion, but with a constantly increasing motion. And we see, that increasing iniquity is actually the consequence of natural depravity, in most men, notwithstanding all the restraints they have. Dispositions to evil are commonly much stronger in adult persons, than in children, when they first begin to act in the world as rational creatures.
If sin be such a thing as Dr. T. himself represents it, p. 69. “a thing of an odious and destructive nature, the corruption and ruin of our nature, and infinitely hateful to God;” then such a propensity to continual and increasing sin, must be a very evil disposition. And if we may judge of the perniciousness of an inclination of nature, by the evil of the effect it naturally tends to, the propensity of man’s nature must be evil indeed: for the soul being immortal, as Dr. T. acknowledges, p. 94. S. it will follow from what has been observed above, that man has a natural disposition to one of these two things; either to an increase of wickedness without end, or till wickedness comes to be so great, that the capacity of his nature will not allow it to be greater. This being what his wickedness will come to by its natural tendency, if divine grace does not prevent, it may as truly be said to be the effect which man’s natural corruption tends to, as that an acorn in a proper soil, truly tends by its nature to become a great tree.
Again, That sin which is remaining in the hearts of the best
men on earth, makes it evident, that man’s nature is corrupt, as he
comes into the world. A remaining depravity of heart in the greatest
saints, may be argued from the sins of most of those who are set forth
in Scripture as the most eminent instances and examples of virtue and
piety: and is also manifest from this, that the Scripture represents
all God’s children as standing in need of chastisement.
According to Dr. T. men come into the world wholly free from sinful propensities. And if so, it appears from what has been already said, there would be nothing to hinder, but that many, without being better than they are by nature, might perfectly avoid the commission of sin. But much more might this be the case with men after they had, by care, diligence, and good practice, attained those positive habits of virtue, whereby they are at a much greater distance from sin, than they were naturally:—which this writer supposes to be the case with many good men. But since the Scripture teaches us, that the best men in the world do often commit sin, and have remaining pollution of heart, this makes it abundantly evident, that men, when they are no otherwise than they were by nature, without any of those virtuous attainments, have a sinful depravity; yea, must have great corruption of nature.
SECTION V. All have more sin than virtue.
The depravity of nature appears, in that the general consequence of the state and tendency of man’s nature is a much greater degree of sin, than righteousness; not only with respect to value and demerit, but matter and quantity.
I have before shown, that there is a propensity in man’s nature to that sin, which in heinousness and ill desert immensely outweighs all the value and merit of any supposed good, that may be in him, or that he can do. I now proceed to say further, that such is man’s nature, in his present state, that it tends to this lamentable effect, that there should at all times, through the course of his life, be at least much more sin, than righteousness; not only as to weight and value, but as to matter and measure; more disagreement of heart and practice from the law of God, and from the law of nature and reason, than agreement and conformity. The law of God is the rule of right, as Dr. T. often calls it: It is the measure of virtue and sin: so much agreement as there is with this rule, so much is there of rectitude, righteousness, or true virtue, and no more; and so much disagreement as there is with this rule, so much sin is there. Having premised this, the following things may be here observed.
I. The degree of disagreement from this rule of right is to be determined, not only by the degree of distance from it in excess, but also in defect; or in other words, not only in positive transgression, or doing what is forbidden, but also in withholding what is required.
The divine Lawgiver does as much prohibit the one as the other, and
does as much charge the latter as a sinful breach of his law, exposing
to his eternal wrath and curse, as the former. Thus at the day of
judgment, as described
II. The sum of our duty to God, required in his law, is love; taking love in a large sense, for the true regard of our hearts to god, implying esteem, honour, benevolence, gratitude, complacence, &c. This is not only very plain by the Scripture, but it is evident in itself. The sum of what the law of God requires, is doubtless obedience to that law: no law can require more than that it be obeyed. But it is manifest, that obedience is nothing, any otherwise than as a testimony of the respect of our hearts to God: without the heart, man’s external acts are no more than the motions of the limbs of a wooden image; have no more of the nature of either sin or righteousness. It must therefore needs be, that love to God, the respect of the heart, must be the sum of the duty required in his law.
III. It therefore appears from the premises, that whosoever 155 withholds more of that love or respect of heart from God, which his law requires, than he affords, has more sin than righteousness. Not only he that has less divine love, than passions and affections which are opposite; but also he that does not love God half so much as he ought, or has reason to do, has justly more wrong than right imputed to him, according to the law of God, and the law of reason; he has more irregularity than rectitude, with regard to the law of love. The sinful disrespect of his heart towards God, is greater than his respect to him.
But what considerate person is there, even among the more virtuous part of mankind, but would be ashamed to say, and profess before God or men, that he loves God half so much as he ought to do; or that he exercises one half of that esteem, honour, and gratitude towards God, which would be altogether becoming him; considering what God is, and what great manifestations he has made of his transcendent excellency and goodness, and what benefits he receives from him? And if few or none of the best of men can with reason and truth make even such a profession, how far from it must the generality of mankind be?
The chief and most fundamental of all the commands of the moral law, requires us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and with all our souls, with all our strength, and all our mind: that is, plainly, with all that is within us, or to the utmost capacity of our nature. God is in himself worthy of infinitely greater love, than any creature can exercise towards him; love equal to his perfections, which are infinite. God loves himself with no greater love than he is worthy of, when he loves himself infinitely; but we can give God no more than we have. Therefore, if we give him so much, if we love him to the utmost extent of the faculties of our nature, we are excused. But when what is proposed, is only that we should love him as much as our capacity will allow, all excuse of want of capacity ceases, and obligation takes hold of us; and we are doubtless obliged to love God to the utmost of what is possible for us, with such faculties, and such opportunities and advantages to know God, as we have. And it is evidently implied in this great commandment of the law, that our love to God should be so great, as to have the most absolute possession of all the soul, and the perfect government of all the principles and springs of action that are in our nature.
Though it is not easy, precisely to fix the limits of man’s capacity, as to love to God; yet in general we may determine, that his capacity of love is coextended with his capacity of knowledge: the exercise of the understanding opens the way for the exercise of the other faculty. Now, though we cannot have any proper positive understanding of God’s infinite excellency; yet the capacity of the human understanding is very great, and may be extended far. It is needless to dispute, how far man’s knowledge may be said to be strictly comprehensive of things that are very great, as of the extent of the expanse of the heavens, &c. The word comprehensive, seems to be ambiguous. But doubtless we are capable of some proper positive understanding of the greatness of these things, in comparison of other things that we know. We are capable of some clear understanding of the greatness or considerableness of a whole nation; or of the whole world of mankind, as vastly exceeding that of a particular person or family. We can positively understand, that the whole globe of the earth is vastly greater than a particular hill or mountain. And can have some good positive apprehension of the starry heavens, as so greatly exceeding the globe of the earth, that the latter is as it were nothing to it. So the human faculties are capable of a real and clear understanding of the greatness, glory, and goodness of God, and of our dependence upon him, from the manifestations which God has made of himself to mankind, as being beyond all expression above that of the most excellent human friend, or earthly object. And so we are capable of esteem and love to God, which shall be proportionable, much exceeding that which we have to any creature.
These things may help us to form some judgment, how vastly the generality of mankind fall below their duty, with respect to love to God; yea, how far they are from coming half way to that height of love, which is agreeable to the rule of right. Surely if our esteem of God, desires after him, and delight in him, were such as become us, considering the things forementioned, they would exceed our regard to other things, as the heavens are high above the earth, and would swallow up all other affections like a deluge. But how far, how exceeding far, are the generality of the world from any appearance of being influenced and governed by such a degree of divine love as this!
If we consider the love of God, with respect to one exercise of it, gratitude, how far indeed do the generality of mankind come short of the rule of right and reason in this! If we consider how various, innumerable, and vast the benefits we receive from God, how infinitely great and wonderful that grace, which is revealed and offered to them who live under the gospel—in that eternal salvation which is procured by God giving his only-begotten Son to die for sinners—and also how unworthy we are all, deserving (as Dr. T. confesses) eternal perdition under God’s wrath and curse—how great is the gratitude that would become us, who are the subjects of so many and great benefits! What grace is this towards poor sinful lost mankind, set before us in so affecting a manner, as in the extreme sufferings of the Son of God; who was carried through those pains by a love stronger than death, a love that conquered those mighty agonies, a love whose length and breadth, and depth and height, passes knowledge? But oh! what poor returns!—How little the gratitude! How low, how cold and inconstant, the affection in the best, compared with the obligation! And what then shall be said of the gratitude of the generality? Or rather, who can express the ingratitude?
If the greater part of them who are called Christians, were no enemies to Christ in heart and practice, were not governed by principles opposite to him and his gospel, but had some real love and gratitude; yet if their love falls vastly short of the obligation, or occasion given, they are guilty of shameful and odious ingratitude. As, when a man has been the subject of some instance of transcendent generosity, whereby he has been relieved from the most extreme calamity, and brought into very opulent, honourable, and happy circumstances, by a benefactor of excellent character; and yet expresses no more gratitude on such an occasion, than would be requisite for some kindness comparatively infinitely small, he may justly fall under the imputation of vile unthankfulness, and of much more ingratitude than gratitude; though he may have no ill will to his benefactor, or no positive affection of mind contrary to thankfulness and benevolence. What is odious in him is his defect, whereby he falls so vastly below his duty.
Dr. Turnbull abundantly insists, that the forces of the affections naturally in man are well proportioned; and often puts a question to this purpose,—How man’s nature could have been better constituted in this respect? How the affections of his heart could have been better proportioned?—I will now mention one instance, out of many that might be mentioned. Man, if his heart were not depraved, might have had a disposition to gratitude to God for his goodness, in proportion to his disposition to anger towards men for their injuries. When I say, in proportion, I mean considering the greatness and number of favours and injuries, and the degree in which the one and the other are unmerited, and the benefit received by the former, and the damage sustained by the latter. Is there not an apparent and vast difference and inequality in the dispositions to these two kinds of affection, in the generality of both old and young, adult persons and little children? How ready is resentment for injuries received from men! And how easily is it raised in most, at least to an equality with the desert! And is it so with respect to gratitude for benefits received from God, in any degree of comparison? Dr. Turnbull pleads for the natural disposition to anger for injuries, as being good and useful: but surely gratitude to God, if we were inclined to it, would be at least as good and useful as the other.
How far the generality of mankind are from their duty, with respect to love to God, will further appear, if we consider that we are obliged not only to love him with a love of gratitude for benefits received; but true love to God primarily consists in a supreme regard to him for what he 156 is in himself. The tendency of true virtue is to treat every thing as it is, and according to its nature. And if we regard the Most High according to the infinite dignity and glory of his nature, we shall esteem and love him with all our heart and soul, and to the utmost of the capacity of our nature, on this account; and not primarily because he has promoted our interest. If God be infinitely excellent in himself, then he is infinitely lovely on that account; or in other words, infinitely worthy to be loved. And doubtless, if he be worthy to be loved for this, then he ought to be loved for it. And it is manifest, there can be no true love to him, if he be not loved for what he is in himself. For if we love him not for his own sake, but for something else, then our love is not terminated on him, but on something else, as its ultimate object. That is no true value for infinite worth, which implies no value for that worthiness in itself considered, but only on the account of something foreign. Our esteem of God is fundamentally defective, if it be not primarily for the excellency of his nature, which is the foundation of all this is valuable in him in any respect. If we love not God because he is what he is, but only because he is profitable to us, in truth we love him not at all: if we seem to love him, our love is not to him, but to something else.
And now I must leave it to every one to judge for himself, from his own opportunities of observation and information concerning mankind, how little there is of this disinterested love to God, this pure divine affection, in the world. How very little indeed in comparison of other affections altogether diverse, which perpetually urge, actuate, and govern mankind, and keep the world, through all nations and ages, in a continual agitation and commotion! This is an evidence of a horrid contempt of God. It would justly be esteemed a great instance of disrespect and contempt of a prince, if one of his subjects, when he came into his house, should set him below his meanest slave. But in setting the infinite jehovah below earthly objects and enjoyments, men degrade him below those things, between which and him there is an infinitely greater distance, than between the highest earthly potentate and the most abject of mortals. Such a conduct as the generality of men are guilty of towards God, continually and through all ages, in innumerable respects, would be accounted the most vile contemptuous treatment of a fellow-creature, of distinguished dignity. Particularly men’s treatment of the offers God makes of himself to them as their friend, their father, their God, and everlasting portion; their treatment of the exhibitions he has made of his unmeasurable love, and the boundless riches of his grace in Christ, attended with earnest repeated calls, counsels, expostulations, and entreaties; as also of the most dreadful threatenings of his eternal displeasure and vengeance.
Before I finish this section, it may be proper to say something in reply to an objection, some may be ready to make, against the force of this argument—that men do not come half-way to that degree of love to God, which becomes them, and is their duty. The objection is this: That the argument seems to prove too much, in that it will prove, that even good men themselves have more sin than holiness; which also has been supposed. But if this were true, it would follow, that sin is the prevalent principle even in good men, and that it is the principle which has the predominancy in the heart and practice of the truly pious; which is plainly contrary to the Word of God.
I answer, If it be indeed so, that there is more sin, consisting in defect of required holiness, than there is of holiness, in good men in this world; yet it will not follow, that sin has the chief government of their heart and practice, for two reasons.
1. They may love God more than other things, and yet there may not be so much love, as there is want of due love; or in other words, they may love God more than the world, and therefore the love of God may be predominant, and yet may not love God near half so much as they ought to do. This need not be esteemed a paradox: A person may love a father, or some great friend and benefactor, of a very excellent character, more than some other object, a thousand times less worthy of his esteem and affection, and yet love him ten times less than he ought; and so be chargeable, all things considered, with a deficiency in respect and gratitude, that is very unbecoming and hateful. If love to God prevails above the love of other things, then virtue will prevail above evil affections, or positive principles of sin; by which principles it is, that sin has a positive power and influence. For evil affections radically consist in inordinate love to other things besides God: and therefore, virtue prevailing beyond these, will have the governing influence. The predominance of the love of God in the hearts of good men, is more from the nature of the object loved, and the nature of the principle of true love, than the degree of the principle. The object is one of supreme loveliness; immensely above all other objects in worthiness of regard; and it is by such a transcendent excellency, that he is God, and worthy to be regarded and adored as God: and he that truly loves God, loves him as God. True love acknowledges him to be divinely and supremely excellent; and must arise from some knowledge, sense, and conviction of his worthiness of supreme respect: and though the sense and view of it may be very imperfect, and the love that arises from it in like manner imperfect; yet if there be any realizing view of such divine excellency, it must cause the heart to respect God above all.
2. Another reason, why a principle of holiness maintains the dominion in the hearts of good men, is the nature of the covenant of grace, and the promises of that covenant, on which true christian virtue relies, and which engage God’s strength and assistance to be on its side, and to help it against its enemy, that it may not be overcome. The just live by faith. Holiness in the Christian, or his spiritual life, is maintained, as it has respect by faith to its author and finisher, and derives strength and efficacy from the divine fountain, and by this means overcomes. For, as the apostle says, This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. It is our faith in him who has promised never to leave nor forsake his people; not to forsake the works of his own hands, nor suffer his people to be tempted above their ability; that his grace shall be sufficient for them, his strength be made perfect in weakness; and that where he has begun a good work he will carry it on to the day of Christ.
SECTION VI. Men's proneness to extreme stupidity, &c.
The corruption of man’s nature appears by its tendency, in its present state, to an extreme degree of folly and stupidity in matters of religion.
It appears, that man’s nature is greatly depraved, by an apparent proneness to an exceeding stupidity and sottishness in those things wherein his duty and main interest are chiefly concerned. I shall instance in two things, viz. men’s proneness to idolatry; and a general, great disregard of eternal things, in them who live under the light of the gospel.
It is manifest, in the first instance, that man’s nature in its present state is attended with a great propensity to forsake the acknowledgment and worship of the true God, and to fall into the most stupid idolatry. This has been sufficiently proved by known fact, on abundant trial: insomuch as the world of mankind in general (excepting one small people, miraculously delivered and preserved) through all nations, in all parts of the world, ages after ages, continued without the knowledge and worship of the true God, and overwhelmed in gross idolatry, without the least appearance or prospect of its recovering itself from so great blindness, or returning from its brutish principles and customs, till delivered by divine grace.
In order to the most just arguing from fact, concerning the tendency of man’s nature, as that is in itself, it should be inquired what the event has been, where nature has been left to itself, to operate according to its own tendency, with least opposition made to it by anything supernatural; rather than in exempt places, where the infinite power and grace of God have interposed, and extraordinary means have been used to stem the current, and bring men to true religion and virtue. As to the means by which God’s people of old, in the line of Abraham, were delivered and 157 preserved from idolatry, they were miraculous, and of mere grace. Notwithstanding which, they were often relapsing into the notions and ways of the heathen; and when they had backslidden, never were recovered, but by divine gracious interposition. And as to the means by which many gentile nations have been delivered since the days of the gospel, they are such as have been wholly owing to the most wonderful, miraculous, and infinite grace. God was under no obligation to bestow on the heathen world greater advantages than they had in the ages of their gross darkness; as appears by the fact, that God actually did not, for so long a time, bestow greater advantages.
Dr. T. himself observes (Key, p. 1.) That in about four hundred years after the flood, the generality of mankind were fallen into idolatry. And thus it was every where through the world, excepting among that people that was saved and preserved by a constant series of miracles, through a variety of countries, nations, and climates, great enough—and through successive changes, revolutions, and ages, numerous enough—to be a sufficient trial of what mankind are prone to, if there be any such thing as a sufficient trial.
That men should forsake the true
God for idols, is an evidence of the most astonishing folly and
stupidity, by God’s own testimony,
Dr. T. often speaks of the idolatry of the heathen world, as great wickedness, in which they were wholly inexcusable; and yet often speaks of their case as remediless, and of them as being dead in sin, and unable to recover themselves. If so, and yet, according to his own doctrine, every age, every nation, and every man, had sufficient light afforded, to know God, and their whole duty to him; then their inability to deliver themselves must be a moral inability, consisting in a desperate depravity, and most evil disposition of heart.
And if there had not been sufficient trial of the propensity of the hearts of mankind, through all those ages that passed from Abraham to Christ, the trial has been continued down to this day, in all those vast regions of the face of the earth, that have remained without any effects of the light of the gospel; and the dismal effect continues everywhere unvaried. How was it with that multitude of nations inhabiting South and North America? 158 What appearance was there, when the Europeans first came hither, of their being recovered, or recovering, in any degree, from the grossest ignorance, delusions, and most stupid paganism? And how is it at this day, in those parts of Africa and Asia, into which the light of the gospel has not penetrated?
This strong and universally
prevalent disposition of mankind to idolatry, of which there has been
such great trial, and so notorious and vast proof, in fact, is a most
glaring evidence of the exceeding depravity of the human nature; as it
is a propensity, in the utmost degree, contrary to the highest end, the
main business, and chief happiness of mankind—consisting in the
knowledge, service, and enjoyment of the living God, the Creator and
Governor of the world—in the highest degree contrary to that for which
mainly God gave mankind more understanding than the beasts of the
earth, and made them wiser than the fowls of heaven; which was, that
they might be capable of the knowledge of God. It is also in the
highest degree contrary to the first and greatest commandment of the
moral law, That we should have no other gods before
jehovah, and that we should love and adore him with all our heart,
soul, mind, and strength. The Scriptures are abundant in representing
the idolatry of the heathen world, as their exceeding wickedness, and
their most brutish stupidity. They who worship and trust in idols, are
said themselves to be like the lifeless statues they worship, like mere
senseless stocks and stones. (
A second instance of the natural stupidity of mankind, is that great disregard of their own eternal interest, which appears so remarkably, so generally among them who live under the gospel.
Mr. Locke observes, (Hum. Und. vol. i. p. 207.) “Were the will determined by the views of good, as it appears in contemplation, greater or less to the understanding, it could never get loose from the infinite eternal joys of heaven, once proposed, and considered as possible; the eternal condition of a future state infinitely outweighing the expectation of riches or honour, or any other worldly pleasure, which we can propose to ourselves; though we should grant these the more probable to be obtained.” Again, (p. 228, 229.) “He that will not be so far a rational creature, as to reflect seriously upon infinite happiness and misery, must needs condemn himself, as not making that use of his understanding he should. The rewards and punishments of another life, which the Almighty has established, as the enforcements of his laws, are of weight enough to determine the choice, against whatsoever pleasure or pain this life can show. When the eternal state is considered but in its bare possibility, which nobody can make any doubt of, he that will allow exquisite and endless happiness to be but the possible consequence of a good life here, and the contrary state the possible reward of a bad one, must own himself to judge very much amiss, if he does not conclude that a virtuous life, with the certain expectation of everlasting bliss, which may come, is to be preferred to a vicious one, with the fear of that dreadful state of misery, which it is very possible may overtake the guilty, or at least the terrible uncertain hope of annihilation. This is evidently so; though the virtuous life here had nothing but pain, and the vicious continual pleasure; which yet is for the most part quite otherwise, and wicked men have not much the odds to brag of, even in their present possession: nay, all things rightly considered, have I think even the worst part here. But when infinite happiness is put in one scale, against infinite misery in the other; if the worst that comes to the pious man, if he mistakes, be the best that the wicked man can attain to, if he be in the right; who can, without madness, run the venture? Who in his wits would choose to come within a possibility of infinite misery? which if he miss, there is yet nothing to be got by that hazard: whereas, on the other side, the sober man ventures nothing, against infinite happiness to be got, if his expectation comes to pass.”
That disposition of mind which is a propensity to act contrary to reason, is a depraved disposition. It is not because the faculty of reason, which God has given to mankind, is not sufficient fully to discover to them, that forty, sixty, or an hundred years, is as nothing in comparison of eternity—infinitely less than a second of time to an hundred years—that the greatest worldly prosperity is not treated with the most perfect disregard, in all cases where there is any degree of competition of earthly things, with salvation from exquisite, eternal misery, and the enjoyment of everlasting glory and felicity. But is it a matter of controversy, whether men in general show a strong disposition to act far otherwise, from their infancy, till death sensibly approaches? In things that concern their temporal interest, they easily discern the difference between things of a long and short continuance. It is no hard matter to convince men of the difference between being admitted to the accommodations and entertainments of a convenient, beautiful, well-furnished habitation, and to partake of the provisions and produce of a plentiful estate for a day, or a night; and having all given them, and settled upon them, as their own, to possess as long as they live, and to be theirs and their heirs’ forever. There would be no need of preaching sermons, and spending strength and life, to convince them of the difference. Men know how to adjust things in their dealings and contracts one with another, according to the length of time in which anything agreed for is to be used or enjoyed. In temporal affairs, they are sensible, that it concerns them to provide for future time, as well as for the present. Thus common prudence teaches them to take care in summer to lay up for winter; yea, to provide a fund, or an estate, whence they may be supplied for a long time to come. And not only so, but they are forward to spend and be spent, in order to provide for their children after they are dead; though it be quite uncertain, who shall enjoy what they lay up, after they have left the world. And if their children should have the comfort of it, as they desire, they will not partake with them in that comfort, or have any portion in any thing under the sun. In things which relate to men’s temporal interest, they seem very sensible of the uncertainty of life, especially in the lives of others; and to make answerable provision for the security of their worldly interest, that no considerable part of it may rest only on so uncertain a foundation, as the life of a neighbour or friend. Common discretion leads them to take good care, that their outward possessions be well secured, by a good and firm title. In worldly concerns, men discern their opportunities, and are careful to improve them before they are past. The husbandman is careful to plough his ground, and sow his seed, in the proper season; otherwise he knows he cannot expect a crop: and when the harvest is come, he will not sleep away the time; for he knows, if he does so, the crop will soon be lost. How careful and eagle-eyed is the merchant to improve opportunities to enrich himself! How apt are men to be alarmed at the appearance of danger to their worldly estate, or any thing that remarkably threatens great damage to their outward interest! And how will they bestir themselves in such a case, if possible, to avoid the threatened calamity! In things purely secular, and not of a moral or spiritual nature, they easily receive conviction by past experience, when any thing, on repeated trial, proves unprofitable or prejudicial; and are ready to take warning by what they have found themselves, and also by the experience of their neighbours and forefathers.
But if we consider how men
generally conduct themselves in things on which their well-being
infinitely more depends, how vast is the diversity! In these things how
cold, lifeless, and dilatory! With what difficulty are a few, out of
multitudes, excited to any tolerable degree of care and diligence, by
the innumerable means used, in order to make them wise for themselves!
And when some vigilance and activity is excited, how apt is it to die
away, like a mere force against a natural tendency! What need of a
constant repetition of admonitions and counsels, to keep the heart from
falling asleep! How many objections are made! How are difficulties
magnified! And how soon is the mind discouraged! How many arguments,
often renewed, variously and elaborately enforced, do men stand in need
of, to convince them of things that are almost self-evident! As that
things which are eternal, are infinitely more important than things
temporal, and the like. And after all, how very few are convinced
effectually, or in such a manner as to induce them to a practical
159of eternal things! How senseless are men of
the necessity of improving their time, as to their spiritual interest,
and their welfare in another world! Though it be an endless futurity, and though it be their own personal,
infinitely important good, that is to be cared for. Though men are so
sensible of the uncertainty of their neighbours’ lives, when any
considerable part of their own estates depends on the continuance of
them; how stupidly senseless do they seem to be of the uncertainty of
their own lives, when their preservation from immensely great,
remediless, and endless misery, is risked by a present delay, through a
dependence on future opportunity! What a dreadful venture will men
carelessly and boldly run, repeat, and multiply, with regard to their
eternal salvation; who yet are very careful to have everything in a
deed or bond, firm, and without a flaw! How negligent are they of their
special advantages and opportunities for their soul’s good! How hardly
awakened by the most evident and imminent dangers, threatening eternal
destruction, yea, though put in mind of them, and much pains taken to
point them forth, show them plainly, and fully to represent them, if
possible to engage their attention! How are they like the horse, that
boldly rushes into the battle! How hardly are men convinced by their
own frequent and abundant experience, of the unsatisfactory nature of
earthly things, and the instability of their own hearts in their good
frames and intentions! And how hardly convinced by their own
observation, and the experience of all past generations, of the
uncertainty of life and its enjoyments!
In these things, men who are
prudent for their temporal interest, act as if they were bereft of
reason: “They have eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not; neither do
they understand: they are like the horse and mule, that have no
These things are often mentioned
in Scripture, as evidences of extreme folly and stupidity, wherein men
act as great enemies to themselves, as though they loved their own
If any should say, It is true, if men gave full credit to what they are told concerning eternal things, and these appeared to them as real and certain things, it would be an evidence of a sort of madness in them, that they show no greater regard to them in practice: but there is reason to think, this is not the case; the things of another world being unseen, appear to men as things of a very doubtful nature, and attended with great uncertainty.—In answer, I would observe, agreeable to what has been cited from Mr. Locke, though eternal things were considered in their bare possibility, if men acted rationally, they would infinitely outweigh all temporal things in their influence on their hearts. And I would also observe, that to suppose eternal things not to be fully believed, at least by them who enjoy the light of the gospel, does not weaken, but rather strengthen, the argument for the depravity of nature. For the eternal world being what God had chiefly in view in the creation of men, this world was made wholly subordinate to the other, man’s state here being only a state of probation, preparation, and progression, with respect to the future state. Eternal things are in effect their all, their whole concern; to understand and know which, it chiefly was, that they had understanding given them; therefore we may undoubtedly conclude, that if men have not respect to them as real and certain things, it cannot be for want of sufficient evidence of their truth: but it must be from a dreadful stupidity of mind, occasioning a sottish insensibility of their truth and importance, when manifested by the clearest evidence.
SECTION VII. Generality of mankind, wicked.
That man’s nature is corrupt, appears, in that by far the greater part of mankind, in all ages, have been wicked men.
The depravity of man’s nature appears, not only in its propensity to sin in some degree, which renders a man an evil or wicked man in the eye of the law, and strict justice, as was before shown; but it is so corrupt, that its depravity either shows that men are, or tends to make them to be, of such an evil character, as shall denominate them wicked men, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace.
This may be argued from several things which have been already observed: as from a tendency to continual sin; a tendency to much greater degrees of sin than righteousness, and from the general extreme stupidity of mankind. But yet the present state of man’s nature, as implying, or tending to, a wicked character, may deserve to be more particularly considered, and directly proved. And in general, this appears, in that there have been so very few in the world, from age to age, ever since the world has stood, that have been of any other character.
It is abundantly evident in Scripture, and is what I suppose none that call themselves Christians will deny, that the whole world is divided into good and bad, and that all mankind at the day of judgment will either be approved as righteous, or condemned as wicked: either glorified, as children of the kingdom, or cast into a furnace of fire, as children of the wicked one.
I need not stand to show what things belong to the character of such as shall hereafter be accepted as righteous, according to the Word of God. It may be sufficient for my present purpose, to observe what Dr. T. himself speaks of, as belonging essentially to the character of such. In p. 203. he says, “This is infallibly the character of true Christians, and what is essential to such, that they have really mortified the flesh with its lusts;—they are dead to sin, and live no longer therein; the old man is crucified, and the body of sin destroyed; they yield themselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and their members as instruments of righteousness to God, and as servants of righteousness to holiness.”—There is more to the like purpose in the two next pages. In p. 228. he says, “Whatsoever is evil and corrupt in us, we ought to condemn; not so, as it shall still remain in us, that we may always be condemning it, but that we may speedily reform, and be effectually delivered from it; otherwise certainly we do not come up to the character of the true disciples of Christ.”
In p. 248. he says, “Unless God’s favour be preferred 160 before all other enjoyments whatsoever, unless there be a delight in the worship of God, and in converse with him, unless every appetite be brought into subjection to reason and truth, and unless there be a kind and benevolent disposition towards our fellow-creatures, how can the mind be fit to dwell with God, in his house and family, to do him service in his kingdom, and to promote the happiness of any part of his creation.”—And in his Key, § 286. p. 101, 102, &c. showing there, what it is to be a true Christian, he says, among other things, “That he is one who has such a sense and persuasion of the love of God in Christ, that he devotes his life to the honour and service of God, in hope of eternal glory. And that to the character of a true Christian, it is absolutely necessary, that he diligently study the things that are freely given him of God, viz. his election, regeneration, &c. that he may gain a just knowledge of those inestimable privileges, may taste that the Lord is gracious, and rejoice in the gospel-salvation, as his greatest happiness and glory.—It is necessary, that he work these blessings on his heart, till they become a vital principle, producing in him the love of God, engaging him to all cheerful obedience to his will, giving him a proper dignity and elevation of soul, raising him above the best and worst of this world, carrying his heart into heaven, and fixing his affections and regards upon his everlasting inheritance, and the crown of glory laid up for him there.—Thus he is armed against all the temptations and trials resulting from any pleasure or pain, hopes or fears, gain or loss, in the present world. None of these things move him from a faithful discharge of any part of his duty, or from a firm attachment to truth and righteousness; neither counts he his very life dear to him, that he may do the will of God, and finish his course with joy. In a sense of the love of God in Christ, he maintains daily communion with God, by reading and meditating on his Word. In a sense of his own infirmity, and the readiness of the divine favour to succour him, he daily addresses the throne of grace, for the renewal of spiritual strength, in assurance of obtaining it, through the one Mediator Christ Jesus. Enlightened and directed by the heavenly doctrine of the gospel,” &c. 
Now I leave every one that has any degree of impartiality, to judge, whether there be not sufficient grounds to think, that it is but a very small part indeed, of the many myriads and millions which overspread this globe, who are of a character that in any wise answers these descriptions. However Dr. T. insists, that all nations, and every man on the face of the earth, have light and means sufficient to do the whole will of God, even they that live in the grossest darkness of paganism.
Dr. T. in answer to arguments of this kind, very impertinently from time to time objects, that we are no judges of the viciousness of men’s characters, nor are able to decide in what degree they are virtuous or vicious. As though we could have no good grounds to judge, that any thing appertaining to the qualities or properties of the mind, which is invisible, is general or prevailing among a multitude or collective body, unless we can determine how it is with each individual. I think I have sufficient reason, from what I know and have heard of the American Indians, to judge, that there are not many good philosophers among them; though the thoughts of their hearts, and the ideas and knowledge they have in their minds, are things invisible; and though I have never seen so much as a thousandth part of the Indians; and with respect to most of them, should not be able to pronounce peremptorily concerning any one, that he was not very knowing in the nature of things, if all should singly pass before me. And Dr. T. himself seems to be sensible of the falseness of his own conclusions, that he so often urges against others; if we may judge by his practice, and the liberties he takes, in judging of a multitude himself. He, it seems, is sensible that a man may have good grounds to judge, that wickedness of character is general in a collective body; because he openly does it himself. (Key, p. 102.) After declaring the things which belong to the character of a true Christian, he judges of the generality of Christians, that they have cast off these things, that they are a people that do err in their hearts, and have not known God’s ways, p. 259. he judges, that the generality of Christians are the most wicked of all mankind, when he thinks it will throw some disgrace on the opinion of such as he opposes. The like we have from time to time in other places, (as p. 168. p. 258, Key, p. 127, 128.)
But if men are not sufficient
judges, whether there are few of the world of mankind but what are
wicked, yet doubtless God is sufficient, and his judgment, often
declared in his word, determines the matter.
And if we look into the Old Testament, we shall find the same testimony given.
Notwithstanding what some authors
advance concerning the prevalence of virtue, honesty, good
neighbourhood, cheerfulness, &c. In the world; Solomon, whom we may
justly esteem as wise and just an observer of human nature, and the
state of the world of mankind, as most in these days (besides,
Christians ought to remember, that he wrote by divine
inspiration)—judged the world to be so full of wickedness, that it was
better never to be born, than to be born to live only in such a world.
The same inspired writer says,
If we consider the various
successive parts and periods of the duration of the world, it will, if
possible, be yet more evident, that by far the greater part of mankind
have, in all ages, been of a wicked character. The short accounts we
have of Adam and his family are such as lead us to suppose,
that the greater part of his posterity in his life-time, yea, in the
former part of his life, were wicked. It appears, that his eldest son Cain, was a very
wicked man, who slew his righteous brother Abel. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years before Seth was born: and by that time, we may suppose, his posterity began to be considerably numerous: when he was born, his mother called his name Seth; for God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel.
Which naturally suggests this to our thoughts; that of all her seed
then existing, none were of any such note for religion and virtue, as
that their parents could have any great comfort in them, or expectation
from them, on that account. And by the brief history we have, it looks
as if—however there might be some intervals of a revival of religion,
yet—in the general, mankind grew more and more corrupt till the flood.
It is signified that when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, wickedness prevailed exceedingly,
And with respect to the period after the flood, to the calling of Abraham; Dr. T. says, as already observed, that in about four hundred years after the flood, the generality of mankind were fallen into idolatry; which was before all they were dead who came out of the ark. And it cannot be thought, the world went suddenly into that general and extreme degree of corruption, but that they had been gradually growing more and more corrupt; though it is true, it must be by very swift degrees—however soon we may suppose they began—to get to that pass in one age.
And as to the period from the calling of Abraham to the coming of Christ, Dr. T. justly observes as follows: (Key, p. 133): “If we reckon from the call of Abraham to the coming of Christ, the Jewish
dispensation continued one thousand nine hundred and twenty-one years;
during which period, the other families and nations of the earth, not
only lay out of God’s peculiar kingdom, but also lived in idolatry,
great ignorance, and wickedness.” And with regard to the Israelites, it is evident that
wickedness was the generally prevailing character among them, from age
to age. If we consider how it was with Jacob’s family, the behavior of Reuben with his father’s concubine, the behavior of Judah with Tamar, the conduct of Jacob’s sons towards the Shechemites, and the behaviour of Joseph’s
ten brethren in their cruel treatment of him; we cannot think, that the
character of true piety belonged to many of them, according to Dr. T.’s
own notion of such a character; though it be true, they might
afterwards repent. And with respect to the time the children of Israel were in Egypt;
the Scripture, speaking of them in general, or as a collective body,
often represents them as complying with the abominable idolatries of
the country 
. And as to that generation which went out of Egypt,
and wandered in the wilderness, they are abundantly represented as
extremely and almost universally wicked, perverse, and children of
divine wrath. And after Joshua’s death, the Scripture is very
express, that wickedness was the prevailing character in the nation,
from age to age. So, it was till Samuel’s time.
Thus it appears, that wickedness
was the generally prevailing character in all nations, till Christ
came. And so also it appears to have been since his coming to this day.
So in the age of apostles. There was a great number of persons of a
truly pious character in the latter part of the apostolic age, when
multitudes of converts had been made, and Christianity was as yet in
its primitive purity; but what says the apostle John of the church of God at that time,
as compared with the rest of the world? (
Thus, a view of the several successive periods of the past duration of the world, from the beginning to this day, shows, that wickedness has ever been exceeding prevalent, and has had vastly the superiority in the world. And Dr. T. himself in effect owns, that it has been so ever since Adam first turned into the way of transgression. “It is certain (says he, p. 168.) the moral circumstances of mankind, since the time Adam first turned into the way of transgression, have been very different from a state of innocence. So far as we can judge from history, or what we know at present, the greatest part of mankind have been, and still are, very corrupt; though not equally so in every age and place.” And lower in the same page, he speaks of Adam’s posterity, as having sunk themselves into the most lamentable degrees of ignorance, superstition, idolatry, injustice, debauchery, &c.
These things clearly determine the point, concerning the tendency of man’s nature to wickedness, if we may be allowed to proceed according to such rules and methods of reasoning, as are never denied or doubted to be good and sure, in experimental philosophy;  or may reason from experience and facts, in that manner which common sense leads all mankind to in other cases. If experience and trial will evince anything at all concerning the natural disposition of the human heart, one would think the experience of so many ages, as have elapsed since the beginning of the world, and the trial made by hundreds of different nations together, for so long a time, should be sufficient to convince all, that wickedness is agreeable to the nature of mankind in its present state.
Here, to strengthen the argument, if there were any need of it, I might observe, not only the extent and generality of the prevalence of wickedness in the world, but the height to which it has risen, and the degree in which it has reigned. Among innumerable things which confirm this, I shall now only observe, The degree in which mankind have from age to age been hurtful one
to another. Many kinds of brute animals are esteemed very noxious and
destructive, many of them are fierce, voracious, and many very
poisonous, and the destroying of them has always been looked upon as a
public benefit: but have not mankind been a thousand times as hurtful
and destructive as any one of them, yea, as all the noxious beasts,
birds, fishes, and reptiles in the earth, air, and water, put together,
at least of all kinds of animals that are visible? And no creature can
be found anywhere so destructive of its own kind as man is. All others,
for the most part, are harmless and peaceable, with regard to their own
species. Where one wolf is destroyed by another wolf, one viper by
another, probably a thousand men are destroyed by those of their own
species. Well therefore might our blessed Lord say, when sending forth
his disciples into the world, (
It would be strange indeed, that this should be the state of mankind, distinguished by reason, for that very end, that they might be capable of religion, which summarily consists in love, if men, as they come into the world, are in their nature innocent and harmless, undepraved, and perfectly free from all evil propensities.
SECTION VIII. Great means used to oppose wickedness.
The native depravity of mankind appears, in that there has been so little good effect of so manifold and great means, used to promote virtue in the world.
The evidence of the native corruption of mankind, appears much more glaring, when it is considered that the world has been so generally, so constantly, and so exceedingly corrupt, notwithstanding the various, great, and continual means that have been used to restrain men from sin, and promote virtue and true religion among them.
Dr. T. supposes, that sorrow and death, which come on mankind in consequence of Adam’s sin was brought on them in great favour; as a benevolent father, exercising an wholesome discipline towards his children; to restrain them from sin, by increasing the vanity of all earthly things, to abate their force to tempt and delude; to induce them to be moderate in gratifying the appetites of the body; to mortify pride and ambition; and that men might always have before their eyes a striking demonstration that sin is infinitely hateful to God, by a sight of that, than which nothing is more proper to give them the utmost abhorrence of iniquity, and to fix in their minds a sense of the dreadful consequences of sin, &c. &c. And in general, that they do not come as punishments, but purely as means to keep men from vice, and to make them better.—If it be so, surely they are great means. Here is a mighty alteration: mankind, once so easy and happy, healthful, vigorous, and beautiful, rich in all the pleasant and abundant blessings of paradise, now turned out, destitute, weak, and decaying, into a wide barren world, yielding briers and thorns, instead of the delightful growth and sweet fruit of the garden of Eden, to wear out life in sorrow and toil, on the ground cursed for his sake; and at last, either through long and lingering decay, or severe pain and acute disease, to expire and turn into putrefaction and dust. If these are only used as medicines, to prevent and to cure the diseases of the mind, they are sharp medicines indeed; especially death; which, to use Hezekiah’s representation, is as it 163 were breaking all his bones. And, one would think, should be very effectual, if the subject had no depravity—no evil and contrary bias, to resist, and hinder a proper effect—especially in the old world, when the first occasion of this terrible alteration, this severity of means, was fresh in memory. Adam continued alive near two-thirds of the time before the flood; so that a very great part of those who were alive till the flood, might have opportunity of seeing and conversing with him, and hearing from his mouth, not only an account of his fall, and the introduction of the awful consequences of it, but also of his first finding himself in existence in the new-created world, of the creation of Eve, and what passed between him and his Creator in paradise.
But what was the success of these great means, to restrain men from sin, and to induce them to virtue? Did they prove sufficient?—instead of this, the world soon grew exceeding corrupt; till, to use our author’s own words, mankind were universally debauched into lust, sensuality, rapine, and injustice.
Then God used further means: he sent Noah, a preacher of righteousness, to warn the world of the universal destruction which would come upon them by a flood of waters, if they went on in sin. This warning he delivered with circumstances tending to strike their minds, and command their attention. He immediately went about building that vast structure, the ark, in which he must employ a great number of hands, and probably spent all he had in the world to save himself and his family. And under these uncommon means God waited upon them one hundred and twenty years—But all to no effect. The whole world, for ought appears, continued obstinate, and absolutely incorrigible: so that nothing remained to be done with them, but utterly to destroy the inhabitants of the earth; and to begin a new world, from that single family who had distinguished themselves by their virtue, that from them might be propagated a new and purer race. Accordingly, this was done: and the inhabitants of this new world, Noah’s posterity, had these new and extraordinary means to restrain sin, and excite to virtue, in addition to the toil, sorrow, and common mortality, which the world has been subjected to before, in consequence of Adam’s sin; viz. that God had newly testified his dreadful displeasure for sin, in destroying the many millions of mankind, all at one blow, old and young, men, women, and children, without pity on any for all the dismal shrieks and cries with which the world was filled. They themselves, the remaining family, were wonderfully distinguished by God’s preserving goodness, that they might be a holy seed, being delivered from the corrupting examples of the old world; and being all the offspring of a living parent, whose pious instructions and counsels they had, to enforce these things upon them, to prevent sin, and engage them to their duty. These inhabitants of the new earth, must, for a long time, have before their eyes many evident and striking effects of that universal destruction, to be a continual affecting admonition to them. And besides all this, God now shortened the life of man to about one half of what it used to be. The shortening man’s life, Dr. T. says (p. 68.) “Was that the wild range of ambition and lust might be brought into narrower bounds, and have less opportunity of doing mischief; and that death, being still nearer to our view, might be a more powerful motive to regard less the things of a transitory world, and to attend more to the rules of truth and wisdom.”
And now let us observe the consequence.—These new and extraordinary means, in addition to the former, were so far from proving sufficient, that the new world degenerated, and became corrupt, by such swift degrees, that as Dr. T. observes, mankind in general were sunk into idolatry, in about four hundred years after the flood, and so in about fifty years after Noah’s death, they became so wicked and brutish, as to forsake the true God, and turn to the worship of inanimate creatures.
When things were come to this dreadful pass, God was pleased, for a remedy, to introduce a new and wonderful dispensation—separating a particular family, and people, from all the rest of the world, by a series of most astonishing miracles, done in the open view of the world; and fixing their dwelling, as it were, in the midst of the earth, between Asia, Europe, and Africa, and in the midst of those nations which were most considerable for power, knowledge, and arts—that might, in an extraordinary manner, dwell among that people, in visible tokens of his presence. There he manifested himself, and thence to the world, by a course of miraculous operations and effects, for many ages; that the people might be holy to God, as a kingdom of priests, and might stand as a city on a hill, to be a light to the world. He also gradually shortened man’s life, till it was brought to about one-twelfth part of what it used to be before the flood; and so, according to Dr. T. greatly diminishing his temptations to sin, and increasing his excitements to holiness.—And now let us consider what the success of these means was, both as to the Gentile world, and the nation of Israel.
Dr. T. justly observes, (Key, p.
24. § 75.) “The Jewish dispensation had respect to the nations of the
world, to spread the knowledge and obedience of God in the earth; and
was established for the benefit of all mankind.”—But how unsuccessful
were these means, and all other means used with the heathen nations, so long as this dispensation lasted! Abraham was a person noted in all the principal nations then in the world; as in Egypt,
and the eastern monarchies. God made his name famous by his wonderful,
distinguishing dispensations towards him, particularly by so
miraculously subduing, before him and his trained servants, those
armies of the four eastern kings. This great work of the most high God,
possessor of heaven and earth, was greatly noticed by Melchizedeck;
and one would think, should have been sufficient to awaken the
attention of all the nations in that part of the world, and to lead
them to the knowledge and worship of the only true God; especially if
considered in conjunction with that miraculous and most terrible
destruction of Sodom, and all the cities of the plain, for their wickedness, with Lot’s
miraculous deliverance; facts which doubtless in their day were much
famed abroad in the world. But there is not the least appearance, in
any accounts we have, of any considerable good effect. On the contrary,
those nations which were most in the way of observing and being
affected with these things, even the nations of Canaan, grew worse and worse, till their iniquity came to the full, in Joshua’s time. And the posterity of Lot, that saint so wonderfully distinguished, soon became some of the most gross idolaters; as they appear to have been in Moses’s time. (See
Great things were done in the
sight of the nations, tending to awaken them, and lead them to the
knowledge and obedience of the true God, in Jacob’s and Joseph’s time; in that God did miraculously, by the hand of Joseph, preserve from perishing by famine, as it were the whole world; as appears by
After this, in Moses and Joshua’s
time, the great God was pleased to manifest himself in a series of the
most astonishing miracles, for about fifty years together, wrought in
the most public manner, in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in Canaan,
in the view as it were of the whole world; miracles by which the world
was shaken, the whole frame of the visible creation, earth, seas, and
rivers, the atmosphere, the clouds, sun, moon, and stars were affected;
miracles, greatly tending to convince the nations of the world, of the
vanity of their false gods, showing Jehovah to be infinitely above
them, in the thing wherein they dealt most proudly, and exhibiting
God’s awful displeasure at the wickedness of the heathen world. And
these things are expressly spoken of as one end of these great
After this, God from time to
time very publicly manifested himself to the nations of the world, by
wonderful works wrought in the time of the Judges, of a like tendency with those already mentioned. Particularly in so miraculously destroying, by the hand of Gideon, almost the whole of that vast army of the Midianites, Amalekites, and all the children of the east, consisting of about 135,000 men. (
After these things, God used
new, and in some respects, much greater means with the heathen world,
to bring them to the knowledge and service of the true God, in the days
of David and Solomon. He raised up David, a man
after his own heart, a most fervent worshipper of the true God, and
zealous hater of idols, and subdued before him almost all the nations
between Egypt and Euphrates; often miraculously assisting him in his battles
with his enemies. And he confirmed Solomon
his son in the full and quiet possession of that great empire, for
about forty years; and made him the wisest, richest, most magnificent,
and every way the greatest monarch that ever had been in the world; and
by far the most famous, and of greatest name among the nations;
especially for his wisdom, and things concerning the name of his God; particularly the temple he built, which was exceeding magnificent, that it might be of
fame and glory throughout all lands;
After this, before the captivity in Babylon,
many great things were done in the sight of the gentile nations, very
much tending to enlighten, affect, and persuade them. As God destroying
the army of the Ethiopians of a thousand thousand, before Asa; Elijah’s and Elisha’s miracles; especially Elijah miraculously confounding Baal’s prophets and worshippers; Elisha healing Naaman, the king of Syria’s
prime minister, and the miraculous victories obtained, through Elisha’s prayers, over the Syrians, Moabites, and Edomites; the miraculous destruction of the vast united army of the children of Moab, Ammon, and Edom, at Jehoshaphat’s prayer. (
When all these things proved ineffectual, God took a new method with the heathen world, and used, in some respects, much greater means to convince and reclaim them, than ever before. In the first place, his people, the Jews, were removed to Babylon, the head and heart of the heathen world, (Chaldea having been very much the foundation of idolatry,) to carry thither the revelations which God had made of himself, contained in the sacred writings; and there to bear their testimony against idolatry; as some of them, particularly Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, did, in a very open manner before the king, and the greatest men of the empire, with such circumstances as made their testimony very famous in the world. And God confirmed it with great miracles; which were published through the empire, by order of its monarch, as the mighty works of the God of Israel, showing him to be above all gods: Daniel, that great prophet, at the same time being exalted to be governor of all the wise men of Babylon, and one of the chief officers of Nebuchadnezzar’s court.
After this, God raised up Cyrus to destroy Babylon, for its obstinate contempt of the true God, and injuriousness towards his people; according to the prophecies of Isaiah, speaking of him by name, instructing him concerning the nature and dominion of the true God. (
When, after the destruction of Babylon, some of the Jews returned to their own land, multitudes never returned, but were dispersed abroad through many parts of the vast Persian empire; as appears by the book of Esther. And many of them afterwards, as good histories inform us, were removed into the more western parts of the world; and so were dispersed as it were all over the heathen world, having the Holy Scriptures with them, and synagogues every where, for the worship of the true God. And so it continued to be, to the days of Christ and his apostles; as appears by the Acts of the Apostles. Thus that light, which God had given them, was carried abroad into all parts of the world: so that now they had far greater advantages to come to the knowledge of the truth, in matters of religion, if they had been disposed to improve their advantages.
And besides all these things, from about Cyrus’s time, learning and philosophy increased, and was carried to a great height. God raised up a number of men of prodigious genius, to instruct others, and improve their reason and understanding, in the nature of things: and philosophic knowledge having gone on to increase for several ages, seemed to be got to its height before Christ came, or about that time.
And now let it be considered
what was the effect of all these things.—Instead of a reformation, or
any appearance or prospect of it, the heathen world in general rather
grew worse. As Dr. Winder observes, “The inveterate absurdities of
pagan idolatry continued without remedy, and increased as arts and
learning increased; and paganism prevailed in all its height of
absurdity, when pagan nations were polished to the height, and in the
most polite cities and countries; and thus continued to the last breath
of pagan power.” And so it was with respect to wickedness in general,
as well as idolatry; as appears by what the apostle Paul observes in
Having thus considered the state of the heathen world, with regard to the effect of means used for its reformation, during the Jewish dispensation, from the first foundation of it in Abraham’s time; let us now consider how it was with that people themselves, who were distinguished with the peculiar privileges of that dispensation. The means used with the heathen nations were great; but they were small, if compared with those used with the Israelites. The advantages by which that people were distinguished, are represented in Scripture as vastly above all parallel, in passages which Dr. T. takes notice of (Key, § 54.) And 165 he reckons these privileges among those which he calls antecedent blessings, consisting in motives to virtue and obedience; and says, (Key, § 66.) “That this was the very end and design of the dispensation of God’s extraordinary favours to the Jews, viz. to engage them to duty and obedience, or that it was a scheme for promoting virtue, is clear beyond dispute, from every part of the Old Testament.” Nevertheless, the generality of that people, through all the successive periods of that dispensation, were men of a wicked character. But it will be more abundantly manifest, how strong the natural bias to iniquity appeared to be among that people, by considering more particularly their condition from time to time.
Notwithstanding the great things God had done in the times of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
to separate them and their posterity from the idolatrous world, that
they might be a holy people to himself; yet in about two hundred years
after Jacob’s death, and in less than one hundred and fifty years after the death of Joseph, and while some were alive who had seen Joseph,
the people had in a great measure lost the true religion, and were
apace conforming to the heathen world. For a remedy, and the more
effectually to alienate them from idols, and engage them to the God of
their fathers, God appeared, in order to bring them out from among the Egyptians,
and separate them from the heathen world, and to reveal himself in his
glory and majesty, in so affecting and astonishing a manner, as tended
most deeply and durably to impress their minds; that they might never
forsake him any more. But so perverse were they, that they murmured
even in the midst of the miracles that God wrought for them in Egypt, and murmured at the Red sea, in a few days after God had brought them out with such a mighty hand. When he had led him through the sea, they sang his praise, but soon forgat his works. Before they got to mount Sinai, they openly manifested their perverseness from time to time; so that God says of them,
In about two months after they came out of Egypt, they came to mount Sinai;
where God entered into a most solemn covenant with the people, that
they should be an holy people unto him, with such astonishing
manifestations of his power, majesty, and holiness, as were altogether
unparalleled. God puts the people in mind, (
After things had gone on thus for several hundred years, God used new methods with his people, in two respects: First, he
raised up a great prophet, under whom a number of young men were
trained up in schools, that from among them there might be a constant
succession of great prophets in Israel, of such as God should choose; which seems to have been continued for more than five hundred years. Secondly, God
raised up a great king, David, one eminent for wisdom, piety, and
fortitude, to subdue all their heathen neighbours, who used to be such
a snare to them; and to confirm, adorn, and perfect the institutions of
his public worship; and by him to reveal more fully the great
salvation, and future glorious kingdom of the Messiah. And after him
was raised up his son, Solomon, the wisest and greatest prince that ever was on earth, more fully to settle and establish those things which his father David had begun, concerning
the public worship of God in Israel,
and to build a glorious temple for the honour of jehovah, and the
institutions of his worship, and to instruct the neighbour nations in
true wisdom and religion. But what was the success of these new and
extraordinary means? If we take Dr. T. for our expositor of Scripture,
the nation must be extremely corrupt in David’s time; for he supposes
he has respect to his own times, in those words,
However, it appears, that all those great means used to promote and establish virtue and true religion, in Samuel’s, David’s, and Solomon’s times, were so far from having any general abiding good effect in Israel, that Solomon
himself, with all his wisdom, and notwithstanding the unparalleled
favours of God to him, had his mind corrupted, so as openly to tolerate
idolatry in the land, and greatly to provoke God against him. And as
soon as he was dead, ten tribes of the twelve forsook the true worship
of God, and instead of it, openly established the like idolatry that
the people fell into at mount Sinai,
when they made the golden calf; and continued fully obstinate in this
apostasy, notwithstanding all means that could be used with them by the
prophets, whom God sent, one after another, to reprove, counsel, and
warn them, for about two hundred and fifty years; especially those two
great prophets, Elijah and
Elisha. Of all the kings
that reigned over them, there was not so much as one but what was of a
wicked character. And at last their case seemed utterly desperate; so
that nothing remained to be done with them, but to remove them out of
God’s sight. Thus the scripture represents the matter,
And as to the other two tribes; though their kings were always of the family of David,
and they were favoured in many respects far beyond their brethren, yet
they were generally exceeding corrupt. Their kings were, most of them,
wicked men, and their magistrates, and priests, and people, were
generally agreed in the corruption. Thus the matter is represented in
the scripture history, and the books of the prophets. And when they had
seen how God had cast off the ten tribes, instead of taking warning,
they made themselves vastly more vile than ever the others had done.
Things being come to that pass,
God took this method with them; he utterly destroyed their city and
land, and the temple which he had among them, made thorough work in
purging the land of them; as when a man empties a dish, wipes it, and turns it upside down; or when a vessel is cast into a fierce fire, till its filthiness is thoroughly burnt out.(
After the return from the
captivity, and God had built the Jewish church again in their own land,
by a series of wonderful providences; yet they corrupted themselves
again, to so great a degree, that the transgressors were come to the
full again in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes; as the matter is represented in the prophecy of Daniel. (
It may be observed here in general, that the Jews,
though so vastly distinguished with advantages, means, and motives to
holiness, yet are represented, from time to time, as more wicked in the
sight of God, than the very worst of the heathen. As, of old, God swore
by his life, that the wickedness of Sodom was small, compared with that of the Jews; (
But we are now come to the time when the grandest scene was displayed that ever was opened on earth. After all other schemes had been so long and so thoroughly tried, and had so greatly failed of success, both among Jews and Gentiles; that wonderful dispensation was at length introduced—the greatest scheme for suppressing and restraining iniquity among mankind, that ever infinite wisdom and mercy contrived—even the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. “A new dispensation of grace was erected (to use Dr. T.’s own words, p. 239, 240.) for the more certain and effectual sanctification of mankind, into the image of God; delivering them from the sin and wickedness, into which they might fall, or were already fallen; to redeem them from all iniquity, and bring them to the knowledge and obedience of God.” In whatever high and exalted terms the Scripture speaks of the means and motives which the Jews enjoyed of old; yet their privileges are represented as having no glory in comparison of the advantages of the gospel. Dr. T.’s words (p. 233.) are worthy to be here repeated. “Even the heathen (says he) knew God, and might have glorified him as God; but under the glorious light of the gospel, we have very clear ideas of the divine perfections, and particularly of the love of God as our Father, and as the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We see our duty in the utmost extent, and the most cogent reasons to perform it: we have eternity opened to us, even an endless state of honour and felicity, the reward of virtuous actions; and the Spirit of God promised for our direction and assistance. And all this may and ought to be applied to the purifying of our minds, and the perfecting of holiness. And to these happy advantages we are born; for which we are bound for ever to praise and magnify the rich grace of God in the Redeemer.” And he elsewhere says,  “The gospel-constitution is a scheme the most perfect and effectual for restoring true religion, and promoting virtue and happiness, that ever the world has yet seen.” And  admirably adapted to enlighten our minds, and sanctify our hearts. And  never were motives so divine and powerful proposed, to induce us to the practice of all virtue and goodness.
And yet even these means have been ineffectual upon the far greater part of them with whom they have been used; of the many that have been called, few have been chosen.
As to the Jews, God’s ancient people, with whom they were used in the first place, and used long by Christ and his apostles, the generality of them rejected Christ and his gospel, with extreme pertinacity of spirit. They not only went on still in that career of corruption which had been increasing from the time of the Maccabees; but Christ’s coming, his doctrine and miracles, the preaching of his followers, and the glorious things that attended the same, were the occasion, through their perverse misimprovement, of an infinite increase of their wickedness. They crucified the Lord of glory, with the utmost malice and cruelty, and persecuted his followers; they pleased not God, and were contrary to all men; they went on to grow worse and worse, till they filled up the measure of their sin, and wrath came upon them to the uttermost; and they were destroyed, and cast out of God’s sight, with unspeakably greater tokens of the divine abhorrence and indignation, than in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. The greater part of the whole nation were slain, and the rest were scattered abroad through the earth in the most abject and forlorn circumstances. And in the same spirit of unbelief and malice against Christ and the gospel, and in their miserable dispersed circumstances, do they remain to this day.
And as to the gentile
nations, though there was a glorious success of the gospel amongst
them, in the apostles’ days; yet probably not one in ten of those that
had the gospel preached to them embraced it. The powers of the world
were set against it, and persecuted it with insatiable malignity. And
among the professors of Christianity, there presently appeared in many
a disposition to abuse the gospel to the service of pride and
licentiousness. The apostles foretold a grand apostasy of the christian
world, which should continue many ages; and observed, that there
appeared a disposition to such an apostasy, among professing
Christians, even in that day. (
In these latter ages of the christian church, God has raised up a number of great and good men, to bear testimony against the corruptions of the church of Rome, and by their means introduced that light into the world, by which, in a short time, at least one-third part of Europe was delivered from the more gross enormities of Anti-christ: which was attended at first with a great reformation, as to vital and practical religion. But how is the gold become dim! To what a pass are things come in protestant countries at this day, and in our nation in particular! To what a prodigious height has a deluge of infidelity, profaneness, luxury, debauchery, and wickedness of every kind, arisen! The poor savage Americans are mere babes, if I may so speak, as to proficiency in wickedness, in comparison of multitudes in the christian world. Dr. T. himself, as before observed, represents, that the generality of Christians have been the most wicked, lewd, bloody, and treacherous of all mankind; and (Key, § 388) that “The wickedness of the christian world renders it so much like the heathen, that the good effects of our change to Christianity are but little seen.”
With respect to the dreadful corruption of the present day, it is to be considered, besides the advantages already mentioned, that great advances in learning and philosophic knowledge have been made in the present and past century; affording great advantage for a proper and enlarged exercise of our rational powers, and for our seeing the bright manifestation of God’s perfection in his works. And it is to observed, that the means and inducements to virtue, which this age enjoys, are in addition to most of 167 those which were mentioned before, as given of old; and among other things, in addition to the shortening of man’s life to 70 or 80 years, from near a thousand. And, with regard to this, I would observe, that as the case now stands in christendom, take one with another of those who ever come to years of discretion, their life is not more than forty or forty-five years; which is but about the twentieth part of what it once was: and not so much in great cities, places where profaneness, sensuality, and debauchery, commonly prevail to the greatest degree.
Dr. T. (Key, § 1.) truly
observes, That God has from the beginning exercised wonderful and
infinite wisdom, in the methods he has, from age to age, made use of to
oppose vice, cure corruption, and promote virtue in the world; and
introduced several schemes to that end. It is indeed remarkable, how
many schemes and methods were tried of old, both before and after the
flood; how many were used in the times of the Old Testament, both with
Jews and heathens, and how ineffectual all these ancient methods
proved, for 4000 years together, till God introduced that grand
dispensation, for redeeming men from all iniquity, and purifying them
to himself, a people zealous of good works; which the Scripture
represents as the subject of the admiration of angels. But even this
has now so long proved ineffectual, with respect to the generality,
that Dr. T. thinks there is need of a new dispensation; the present light of the gospel being insufficient for the
full reformation of the christian world, by reason of its corruptions: (Note on
Surely Dr. T.’s scheme is attended with strange paradoxes. And that his mysterious tenets may appear in a true light, it must be observed that—at the same time he supposes these means, even the very greatest and best of them, to have proved so ineffectual, that help from them, as to any general reformation, is to be despaired of—that he maintains all mankind, even the heathen in all parts of the world, yea, every single person in it, (which must include every Indian in America, before the Europeans came hither; and every inhabitant of the unknown parts of Africa and Terra Australis,) has ability, light, and means sufficient to do their whole duty; yea, many passages in his writings plainly suppose, to perform perfect obedience to God’s law, without the least degree of vice or iniquity. 
But I must not omit to observe, that Dr. T. supposes, the reason why the gospel-dispensation has been so ineffectual, is, that it has been greatly misunderstood and perverted. In his Key (§ 389.) he says, “Wrong representations of the scheme of the gospel have greatly obscured the glory of divine grace, and contributed much to the corruption of its professors.—Such doctrines have been almost universally taught and received, as quite subvert it. Mistaken notions about nature, grace, election and reprobation, justification, regeneration, redemption, calling, adoption, &c. have quite taken away the very ground of the christian life.”
But how came the gospel to be so universally and exceedingly misunderstood? Is it because it is in itself so very dark and unintelligible, and not adapted to the apprehension of the human faculties? If so, how is the possession of such an obscure and unintelligible thing, so glorious an advantage?—Or is it because of the native blindness, corruption, and superstition of mankind? But this is giving up the thing in question, and allowing a great depravity of nature. Dr. T. speaks of the gospel as far otherwise than dark and unintelligible; he represents it as exhibiting the clearest and most glorious light, calculated to deliver the world from darkness, and to bring them into marvelous light. He speaks of the light which the Jews had, under the Mosaic dispensation, as vastly exceeding the light of nature, which the heathen enjoyed; and yet he supposes that even the latter was so clear, as to be sufficient to lead men to the knowledge of God, as their whole duty to him. He speaks of the light of the gospel as vastly exceeding the light of the Old Testament; and says of the apostle Paul in particular, “That he wrote with great perspicuity; that he takes great care to explain every part of his subject; that he has left no part of it unexplained and unguarded; and that never was an author more exact and cautious in this.”  Is it not strange, therefore, that the Christian world, without any native depravity, should be so blind in the midst of such glaring light, as to be all, or the generality, agreed, from age to age, so essentially to misunderstand that which is made so very plain?
Dr. T. says (p. 167. S.) “It is my persuasion, that the christian religion was very early and grievously corrupted by dreaming, ignorant, superstitious monks, too conceited to be satisfied with the plain gospel; and has long remained in that deplorable state.”—But how came the whole christian world, without any blinding depravity, to hearken to these ignorant foolish men, rather than unto wiser and better teachers? especially, when the latter had plain gospel on their side, and the doctrines of the other were (as our author supposes) so very contrary not only to the plain gospel, but to men’s reason and common sense? or were all the teachers of the Christian church nothing but a parcel of ignorant dreamers? If so, this is very strange indeed, unless mankind naturally loves darkness rather than light; seeing in all parts of the christian world, there was a great multitude in the work of the ministry, who had the gospel in their hands, and whose whole business it was to study and teach it; and therefore had infinitely greater advantages to become truly wise, than the heathen philosophers. But if, by some strange and inconceivable means, notwithstanding all these glorious advantages, all the teachers of the christian church through the world, without any native evil propensity, very early became silly dreamers—and also in their dreaming, generally stumbled on the same individual monstrous opinions, and so the world might be blinded for a while—yet, why did not they hearken to that wise and great man, Pelagius, and others like him, when he plainly held forth the truth to the christian world? Especially seeing his instructions were so agreeable to the plain doctrines, and the bright and clear light of the gospel of Christ, and also so agreeable to the plainest dictates of the common sense and understanding of all mankind; but the other so repugnant to it, that (according to our author) if they were true, it would prove understanding to be no understanding, and the word of God to be no rule of truth, nor at all to be relied upon, and God to be a Being worthy of no regard?
Besides, if the inefficacy of the gospel to restrain sin and promote virtue, be owing to the general prevalence of these doctrines, which are supposed to be so absurd and contrary to the gospel, here is this further to be accounted for; namely, Why, since there has been so great an increase of light in religious matters (as must be supposed on Dr. T.’s scheme) in this and the last age, and these monstrous doctrines of original sin, election, reprobation, justification, regeneration, &c. have been so much exploded, especially in our nation, there has been no reformation attending this great advancement of light and truth: but on the contrary, vice, and every thing opposite to practical Christianity, has gone on to increase, with such a prodigious celerity, as to become like an overflowing deluge; threatening, unless God mercifully interposes, speedily to swallow up all that is virtuous and praiseworthy.
Many other things might have been mentioned under this head—the means which mankind have had to restrain vice, and promote virtue—such as wickedness being many ways contrary to men’s temporal interest and comfort, and their having continually before their eyes so many instances of persons made miserable by their vices; the restraints of human laws, without which men cannot live in society; the judgments of God brought on men for their wickedness, with which history abounds, and the providential rewards of virtue; and innumerable particular means, 168that God has used from age to age to curb the wickedness of mankind, which I have omitted. But there would be no end of a particular enumeration of such things. They that will not be convinced by the instances which have been mentioned, probably would not be convinced, if the world had stood a thousand times so long, and we had the most authentic and certain accounts of means having been used from the beginning, in a thousand times greater variety; and new dispensations had been introduced, after others had been tried in vain, ever so often, and still to little effect. He that will not be convinced by a thousand good witnesses, it is not likely that he would be convinced by a thousand thousand.
The proofs that have been extant in the world, from trial and fact, of the depravity of man’s nature, are inexpressible, and as it were infinite, beyond the representation of all similitude. If there were a piece of ground which abounded with briers and thorns, or some poisonous plant, and all mankind had used their endeavors, for a thousand years together, to suppress that evil growth—and to bring that ground by manure and cultivation, planting and sowing, to produce better fruit, all in vain; it would still be overrun with the same noxious growth—it would not be a proof, that such a produce was agreeable to the nature of that soil, in any wise to be compared to that which is given in divine providence, that wickedness is a produce agreeable to the nature of the field of the world of mankind. For the means used with it have been various, great, and wonderful, contrived by the unsearchable and boundless wisdom of God; medicines procured with infinite expense, exhibited with a vast apparatus; a marvelous succession of dispensations, introduced one after another, displaying an incomprehensible length and breadth, depth and height, of divine wisdom, love, and power, and every perfection of the godhead, to the eternal admiration of principalities and powers in heavenly places.
SECTION IX. Several evasions considered.
Several evasions of the arguments for the depravity of nature, from trial and events considered.
Evasion I. Dr. T. says, (p. 231, 232.) ”Adam’s nature, it is allowed, was very far from being sinful; yet he sinned. And therefore, the common doctrine of Original Sin, is no more necessary to account for the sin that has been or is in the world, than it is to account for Adam’s sin.  Again (p. 52—54 S. &c.) “If we allow mankind to be as wicked as R. R. has represented them to be; and suppose that there is not one upon earth that is truly righteous, and without sin, and that some are very enormous sinners, yet it will not thence follow, that they are naturally corrupt.—For, if sinful action infers a nature originally corrupt, then, whereas Adam (according to them that hold the doctrine of Original Sin) committed the most heinous and aggravated sin, that ever was committed in the world; for, according to them, he had greater light than any other man in the world, to know his duty, and greater power than any other man to fulfill it, and was under greater obligations than any other man to obedience; he sinned, when he knew he was the representative of millions, and that the happy or miserable state of all mankind, depended on his conduct; which never was, nor can be, the case of any other man in the world:—then, I say, it will follow, that his nature was originally corrupt, &c.—Thus their argument from the wickedness of mankind, to prove a sinful and corrupt nature, must inevitably and irrecoverably fall to the ground.—Which will appear more abundantly, if we take in the case of the angels, who in numbers sinned, and kept not their first estate, though created with a nature superior to Adam’s.“ Again (p. 145. S.) “When it is inquired, how it comes to pass that our appetites and passions are now so irregular and strong, as that not one person has resisted them, so as to keep himself pure and innocent? If this be the case, if such as make the inquiry will tell the world, how it came to pass that Adam’s appetites and passions were so irregular and strong, that he did not resist them, so as to keep himself pure and innocent, when upon their principles he was far more able to have resisted them; I also will tell them how it comes to pass, that his posterity does not resist them.  Sin doth not alter its nature, by its being general; and therefore how far soever it spreads, it must come upon all just as it came upon Adam.“
These things are delivered with much assurance. But is there any reason in such a way of talking? One thing implied in it, and the main thing, if any at all to the purpose, is, that because an effect being general, does not alter the nature of the effect, therefore nothing more can be argued concerning the cause, from its happening constantly, and in the most steady manner, than from its happening but once. But how contrary is this to reason! Suppose a person, through the deceitful persuasions of a pretended friend, once takes a poisonous draught of a liquor to which he had before no inclination; but after he has once taken of it, he is observed to act as one that has an insatiable, incurable thirst after more of the same, in his constant practice, obstinately continued in as long as he lives, against all possible arguments and endeavors used to dissuade him from it. And suppose we should from hence argue a fixed inclination, and begin to suspect that this is the nature and operation of the poison, to produce such an inclination, or that this strong propensity is some way the consequence of the first draught. In such a case, could it be said with good reason, that a fixed propensity can no more be argued from his consequent constant practice, than from his first draught? Or, suppose a young man, soberly inclined, enticed by wicked companions, should drink to excess, until he had got a habit of excessive drinking, and should come under the power of a greedy appetite after strong drink, so that drunkenness should become a common and constant practice with him: and suppose an observer, arguing from this general practice, should say, “It must needs be that this young man has a fixed inclination to that sin; otherwise, how should it come to pass that he should make such a trade of it?” And another, ridiculing the weakness of his arguing, should reply, “Do you tell me how it came to pass, that he was guilty of that sin the first time, without a fixed inclination, and I will tell you how he is guilty of it so generally without a fixed inclination. Sin does not alter its nature by being general: and therefore, how common soever it becomes, it must come at all times by the same means that it came at first.” I leave it to every one to judge, who would be chargeable with weak arguing in such a case.
It is true, there is no effect without some cause, ground, or reason of that effect, and some cause answerable to the effect. But certainly it will not follow, that a transient effect requires a permanent cause, or a fixed propensity. An effect happening once, though great, yea, though it may come to pass on the same occasion in many subjects at the same time, will not prove any fixed propensity, or permanent influence. It is true, it proves an influence great and extensive, answerable to the effect, once exerted, or once effectual; but it proves nothing in the cause fixed or constant. If a particular tree, or a great number of trees standing together, have blasted fruit on their branches at a particular season—or if the fruit be very much blasted, and entirely spoiled—it is evident that something was the occasion of such an effect at that time; but this alone does not prove the nature of the tree to be bad. But if it be observed, that those trees, and all other trees of the kind, wherever planted, and in all soils, countries, climates, and seasons, and however cultivated and managed, still bear ill fruit, from year to year, and in all ages, it is a good evidence of the evil nature of the tree. And if the fruit, at all these times, and in all these cases, be very bad, it proves the nature of the tree to be very bad. If we argue, in like manner, from what appears among men, it is easy to determine, whether the universal sinfulness of mankind—all sinning immediately, as soon as capable of it, and continually and generally being of a wicked character, at all times, in all ages, in all places, and under all possible circumstances, against means and motives inexpressibly manifold 169 and great, and in the utmost conceivable variety—be from a permanent internal great cause.
If the voice of common sense were heard, there would be no occasion for labour in multiplying arguments to show, that one act does not prove a fixed inclination; but that constant pursuit does. We see that, in fact, it is agreeable to the reason of all mankind, to argue fixed principles tempers, and prevailing inclinations, from repeated and continued actions—though the actions are voluntary, and performed of choice—and thus to judge of the tempers and inclinations of persons, ages, sexes, tribes, and nations. But is it the manner of men to conclude, that whatever they see others once do, they have a fixed abiding inclination to do? Yea, there may be several acts seen, and yet not be taken as good evidence of an established propensity; even though that one act, or those several acts, are followed by such constant practice, as afterwards evidences fixed disposition. As for example; there may be several instances of a man drinking some spirituous liquor, and those instances be no sign of a fixed inclination to that liquor: but these acts may be introductory to a settled habit or propensity, which may be made very manifest afterwards by constant practice.
From these things it is plain, that what is alleged concerning the first sin of Adam, and of the angels, without a previous fixed disposition to sin, cannot in the least weaken the arguments brought to prove fixed propensity to sin in mankind, in their present state. From the permanence of the cause has been argued, the permanence of the effect. And that the permanent cause consists in an internal fixed propensity, and not in any particular external circumstances, has been argued from the effects being the same, through a vast variety and change of circumstances. But the first acts of sin in Adam or the angels, considered in themselves, were no permanent, continued effects. And though a great number of the angels sinned, and the effect on that account was the greater, and more extensive; yet this extent of the effect is a very different thing from that permanence, or settled continuance of effect, which is supposed to show a permanent cause, or fixed propensity. Neither was there any trial of a vast variety of circumstances attending a permanent effect, to show the fixed cause to be internal, consisting in a settled disposition of nature, in the instances objected. And however great the sin of Adam, or of the angels, was, and however great the means, motives, and obligations were against which they sinned—and whatever may be thence argued concerning the transient cause, occasion, or temptation, as being very subtle, remarkably tending to deceive and seduce, &c.—yet it argues nothing of any settled disposition, or fixed cause, either great or small; the effect both in the angels and our first parents, being in itself transient, and, for ought appears, happening in each of them under one system or coincidence of influential circumstances. 
The general continued wickedness of mankind, against such means and motives, proves each of these things, viz. that the cause is fixed, and that the fixed cause is internal in man’s nature, and also that it is very powerful. It proves, that the cause is fixed, because the effect is so abiding, through so many changes. It proves that the fixed cause is internal, because the circumstances are so various—including a variety of means and motives—and they are such circumstances as cannot possibly cause the effect, being most opposite to it in their tendency. And it proves the greatness of the internal cause; or that the propensity is powerful; because the means which have opposed its influence, have been so great, and yet have been statedly overcome.
But here I may observe, by the way, that with regard to the motives and obligations against which our first father sinned, it is not reasonably alleged, that he sinned when he knew his sin would have destructive consequences to all his posterity, and might in process of time, pave the whole globe with skulls, &c. It is evident, by the plain account the scripture gives us of the temptation which prevailed with our first parents to commit that sin, that it was so contrived by the subtlety of the tempter, as first to blind and deceive them as to that matter, and to make them believe that their disobedience should be followed with no destruction or calamity at all to themselves (and therefore not to their posterity,) but on the contrary, with a great increase and advancement of dignity and happiness.
Evasion II. Let the wickedness of the world be ever so general and great, there is no necessity of supposing any depravity of nature to be the cause: man’s own free will is cause sufficient. Let mankind be more or less corrupt, they make themselves corrupt by their own free choice. This Dr. T. abundantly insists upon, in many parts of his book . 
But I would ask, how it comes to pass that mankind so universally agree in this evil exercise of their free will? If their wills are in the first place as free to good as to evil, what is it to be ascribed to, that the world of mankind, consisting of so many millions, in so many successive generations, without consultation, all agree to exercise their freedom in favour of evil? If there be no natural tendency or preponderation in the case, then there is as good a chance for the will being determined to good as to evil. If the cause be indifferent, why is not the effect in some measure indifferent? If the balance be no heavier at one end than the other, why does it perpetually preponderate one way? How comes it to pass, that the free will of mankind has been determined to evil, in like manner before the flood and after the flood; under the law and under the gospel; among both Jews and Gentiles, under the Old Testament, and since then, among Christians, Jews, Mahometans; among papists and protestants; in those nations where civility, politeness, arts, and learning most prevail, and among the Negroes and Hottentots in Africa, the Tartars in Asia, and Indians in America, towards both the poles, and on every side of the globe; in greatest cities and obscurest villages; in palaces and in huts, wigwams, and cells under ground? Is it enough to reply, It happens so, that men every where, and in all times, choose thus to determine their own wills, and so to make themselves sinful, as soon as ever they are capable of it, and to sin constantly as long as they live, and universally to choose never to come up half way to their duty?
A steady effect requires a steady cause; but free will, without any previous propensity to influence its determinations, is no permanent cause; nothing can be conceived of, farther from it: for the very notion of freedom of will, consisting in self-determining power, implies contingence; and if the will is perfectly free from any government of previous inclination, its freedom must imply the most absolute and perfect contingence: and surely nothing can be conceived of, more unfixed than that. The notion of liberty of will, in this sense, implies perfect freedom from every thing that should previously fix, bind, or determine it; that it may be left to be fixed and determined wholly by itself: therefore its determinations must be previously altogether unfixed. And can that which is so unfixed, so contingent, be a cause sufficient to account for an effect, in such a manner, and to such a degree, permanent, fixed, and constant?
When we see any person going on in a certain course with great constancy, against all manner of means to dissuade him, do we judge this to be no argument of a fixed disposition of mind, because, being free, he may determine to do so, if he will, without any such disposition? Or if we see a nation, or people, that differ greatly from other nations, in such and such instances of their constant conduct—as though their tempers and inclinations were very diverse—and any should say, We cannot judge at all of the temper or disposition of people, by any thing observable in their constant practice or behaviour, because they have all free will, and therefore may all choose to act so, if they please, without anything in their temper or inclination to bias them. Would such an account of such effects be satisfying to the reason of mankind? But infinitely further would it be from satisfying a considerate mind, to account for the constant and universal sinfulness of mankind, by saying, that their will is free, and therefore all may, if they please, make themselves wicked: they are free when they first begin to act as moral agents, and therefore all may, if they please, begin to sin as soon as they begin to act: they are 170free as long as they continue to act in the world, and therefore they may all commit sin continually, if they will: men of all nations are free, and therefore all nations may act alike in these respects, if they please, though some do not know how other nations do act. Men of high and low condition, learned and ignorant, are free, and therefore they may agree in acting wickedly, if they please, though they do not consult together. Men in all ages are free, and therefore men in one age may all agree with men in every other age in wickedness, if they please, though they do not know how men in other ages have acted, &c. Let every one judge whether such an account of things can satisfy reason.
Evasion III. It is said by many opposers of the doctrine of original sin, that the corruption of mankind may be owing not to a depraved nature, but to bad example. And I think we must understand Dr. T. as having respect to the powerful influence of bad instruction and example, when he says, (p. 118.) “The Gentiles in their heathen state, when incorporated into the body of the gentile world, were without strength, unable to help or recover themselves.” And in several other places to the like purpose. If there was no depravity of nature, what else could there be but bad instruction and example, to hinder the heathen world, as a collective body, (for as such Dr. T. speaks of them, as may be seen p. 117, 118.) from emerging out of their corruption, on the rise of each new generation? As to their bad instruction, our author insists upon it, that the heathen, notwithstanding all their disadvantages, had sufficient light to know God, and do their whole duty. Therefore it must be chiefly bad example, according to him, that rendered their case helpless.
Now concerning this way of accounting for the corruption of the world, by the influence of bad example, I would observe,
1. It is accounting for the thing by the thing itself. It is accounting for the corruption of the world by the corruption of the world. For, that bad examples are general all over the world to be followed by others, and have been so from the beginning, is only an instance, or rather a description, of that corruption of the world which is to be accounted for. If mankind are naturally no more inclined to evil than good, then how come there to be so many more bad examples than good ones, in all ages? And if there are not, how come to bad examples that are set, to be so much more followed than the good? If the propensity of man’s nature be not to evil, how comes the current of general example, every where, and at all times, to be so much to evil? And when opposition has been made by good examples, how comes it to pass that it has had so little effect to stem the stream of general wicked practice?
I think from the brief account the Scripture gives us of the behaviour of our first parents, and of the expressions of their faith and hope in God’s revealed mercy, we have reason to suppose, that before ever they had any children, they repented, were pardoned, and became truly pious. So that God planted the world at first with a noble vine; and at the beginning of their generations, he set the stream of example the right way. And we see, that children are more apt to follow the example of their parents, than of any others; especially in early youth, their forming time, when those habits are generally contracted, which abide by them all their days. Besides, Adam’s children had no other examples to follow, but those of their parents. How therefore came the stream so soon to turn, and to proceed the contrary way, with so violent a current? When mankind became so universally and desperately corrupt, as not to be fit to live on earth any longer, and the world was every where full of bad examples, God destroyed them all at once—except righteous Noah and his family—in order to remove those bad examples, and that the world might be planted again with good example, and the stream again turned the right way. How therefore came it to pass, that Noah’s posterity did not follow his good example, especially when they had such extraordinary things to enforce it, but so generally, even in his life-time, became exceeding corrupt? One would think, the first generations at least, while all lived together as one family, under Noah, their venerable father, might have followed his good example. And if they had done so, then, when the earth came to be divided in Peleg’s time, the heads of the several families would have set out their particular colonies with good examples, and the stream would have been turned the right way in all the various divisions, colonies, and nations of the world. But we see, in fact, that in about fifty years after Noah’s death, the world in general was overrun with dreadful corruption; so that all virtue and goodness was like soon to perish from among mankind, unless something extraordinary should be done to prevent it.
Then, for a remedy, God separated Abraham and his family from all the rest of the world, that they might be delivered from the influence of bad example, and that in his posterity he might have an holy seed. Thus God again planted a noble vine; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob being eminently pious. But how soon did their posterity degenerate, till true religion was like to be swallowed up! We see how desperately and almost universally corrupt they were, when God brought them out of Egypt, and led them in the wilderness.
Then God was pleased, before he planted his people in Canaan, to destroy that perverse generation in the wilderness, that he might plant them there a noble vine, wholly a right seed, and set them out with good example, in the land where they were to have their settled abode.
And when the nation had a long time proved desperately and incurable corrupt, God destroyed them, and sent them into captivity—till the old rebels were dead and purged out, in order to deliver their children from their evil example. And when the following generation was purified as in a furnace, God planted them again in the land of Israel, a noble vine, and set them out with good example; which yet was not followed by their posterity.
When again the corruption was become inveterate, the christian church was planted; and a glorious out-pouring of the Spirit of God caused true virtue and piety to be exemplified far beyond whatever had been on earth before; and thus the christian church was planted a noble vine. But that primitive good example has not prevailed, to cause virtue to be generally and stedfastly maintained in the christian world. To how great a degree it has been otherwise, has already been observed.
After many ages of general and dreadful apostasy, God was pleased to erect the protestant church, as separated from the more corrupt part of christendom; and true piety flourished in it very much at first; God planted it a noble vine: but notwithstanding the good examples of the first reformers, what a melancholy pass is the protestant world come to at this day!
When England grew very corrupt, God brought over a number of pious persons, and planted them in New England, and this land was planted a noble vine. But how is the gold become dim! How greatly have we forsaken the pious examples of our fathers!
So prone have mankind always proved themselves to degeneracy and backsliding, that it shows plainly their natural propensity. And when good has revived, and been promoted among men, it has been by some divine interposition, opposing the natural current; the fruit of some extraordinary means. And the efficacy of such means has soon been overcome by constant natural bias, the effect of good example presently lost, and evil has regained the dominion. Like a heavy body, which may by some great power be caused to ascend, against its nature, a little while, but soon goes back again towards the centre, to which it naturally and constantly tends.
So that evil example will in no wise account for the corruption of mankind, without supposing a natural proneness to sin. The tendency of example alone will not account for general wicked practice, as consequent on good example. And if the influence of bad example is a reason of some of the wickedness, that alone will not account for 171 men becoming worse than the example set, degenerating more and more, and growing worse and worse, which has been their manner.
2. There has been given to the world an example of virtue, which, were it not for a dreadful depravity of nature, would have influence on them who live under the gospel, far beyond all other examples; that is, the example of Jesus Christ.
God, who knew the human nature, and how apt men are to be influenced by example, had made answerable provision. His infinite wisdom has contrived that we should have set before us the most amiable and perfect example, in such circumstances, as should have the greatest tendency to influence all the principles of man’s nature, but his corruption. Men are apt to be moved by the example of others like themselves, or in their own nature: therefore this example was given in our nature. Men are ready to follow the example of the great and honourable; and this—though that of one in our nature, yet—was the example of one infinitely higher and more honourable than kings or angels. A people are apt to follow the example of their prince. This is the example of that glorious person, who stands in a peculiar relation to Christians as their Lord and King, the supreme head of the church; and not only so, but the King of kings, supreme head of the universe, and head over all things to the church. Children are apt to follow the example of their parents; this is the example of the Author of our being, and of our holy and happy being; the Creator of the world, and everlasting Father of the universe. Men are very apt to follow the example of their friends: the example of Christ is that of one who is infinitely our greatest friend, standing in the most endearing relations of brother, redeemer, spiritual head and husband; whose grace and love expressed to us, transcends all other love and friendship, as much as heaven is higher than the earth. The virtues and acts of his example were exhibited to us in the most endearing and engaging circumstances that can possibly be conceived of.—His obedience and submission to God, his humility, meekness, patience, charity, self-denial, &c. being exercised and expressed in a work of infinite grace, love, condescension, and beneficence to us—and had all their highest expressions in his laying down his life, and meekly, patiently, and cheerfully undergoing unutterable suffering for our eternal salvation. Men are peculiarly apt to follow the example of those from whom they have great benefits: but it is utterly impossible to conceive of greater benefits, that we could have by the virtues of any person, than we have by the virtuous acts of Christ; we, who depend upon being thereby saved from eternal destruction, and brought to inconceivable, immortal glory at God’s right hand. Surely if it were not for an extreme corruption of the human heart, such an example would have that strong influence on it, which would as it were swallow up the power of all the evil and hateful examples of a generation of vipers.
3. The influence of bad example, without corruption of nature, will not account for children universally committing sin as soon as capable of it; which, I think, is a fact that has been made evident by the Scripture. It will not account for it in the children of eminently pious parents; the first example set in their view being very good; which was especially the case of many children in christian families in the apostolic days, when the apostle John supposes that every individual person had sin to repent of, and confess to God.
4. What Dr. T. supposes to have been fact, with respect to a great part of mankind—the state of the heathen world, which he supposes, considered as a collective body, was helpless, dead in sin, and unable to recover itself—cannot consistently be accounted for from the influence of bad example. Not evil example alone, no, nor as united with evil instruction, can be supposed a sufficient reason why every new generation that arose among them, should not be able to emerge from the idolatry and wickedness of their ancestors, in any consistence with his scheme. The ill example of ancestors could have no power to oblige them to sin, any other way than as a strong temptation. But Dr. T. himself says, (p. 72, S.) “To suppose men’s temptations to be superior to their powers, will impeach the goodness and justice of God, who appoints every man’s trial.” And as to bad instructions, as he supposes that they all, yea every individual person, had light sufficient to know God, and do their whole duty. And if each one could do this for himself, then surely they might all be agreed in it through the power of free will, as well as the whole world be agreed in corruption by the same power.
Evasion IV. Some modern opposers of the doctrine of original sin, thus account for the general prevalence of wickedness, viz. that in the course of nature our senses grow up first, and the animal passions get the start of reason. So Dr. Turnbull,  “Sensitive objects first affect us, and inasmuch as reason is a principle, which, in the nature of things, must be advanced to strength and vigour, by gradual cultivation, and these objects are continually assailing and soliciting us; so, unless a very happy education prevents, our sensitive appetites must have become very strong, before reason can have force enough to call them to an account, and assume authority over them.” From hence Dr. Turnbull supposes it comes to pass,  “That though some few may, through the influence of virtuous example, be said to be sanctified from the womb, so liberal, so generous, so virtuous, so truly noble is their cast of mind; yet generally speaking, the whole world lieth in such wickedness, that, with respect to the far greater part of mankind, the study of virtue is beginning to reform, and is a severe struggle against bad habits, early contracted, and deeply rooted; it is therefore putting off an old inveterate corrupt nature, and putting on new form and temper; it is molding ourselves anew; it is a being born again, and becoming as children.—And how few are there in the world who escape its pollutions, so as not to be early in that class, or to be among the righteous that need no repentance!”
Dr. Taylor, though not so explicit, seems to hint at the same thing, (p. 192.) “It is by slow degrees that children come to the use of understanding; the animal passions being for some years the governing part of their constitution. And therefore, though they may be froward and apt to displease us, yet how far this is sin in them, we are not capable of judging. But it may suffice to say, that it is the will of God that children should have appetites and passions to regulate and restrain, that he hath given parents instructions and commands to discipline and inform their minds, that if parents first learned true wisdom for themselves, and then endeavored to bring up their children in the way of virtue, there would be less wickedness in the world.”
Concerning these things I would observe, that such a scheme is attended with the very same difficulties, which they who advance it would avoid by it; liable to the same objections, which they make against God’s ordering it so, that men should be brought into being with a prevailing propensity to sin. For this scheme supposes, the Author of nature has so ordered things, that men should come into being as moral agents, that is, should first have existence in a state and capacity of moral agency, under a prevailing propensity to sin. For that strength, which sensitive appetites and animal passions come to by their habitual exercise, before persons come to the exercise of their rational powers, amounts to a strong propensity to sin, when they first come to the exercise of those rational powers, by the supposition: because this is given as a reason why the scale is turned for sin, and why, generally speaking, the whole world lies in wickedness, and the study of virtue is a severe struggle against bad habits, early contracted, and deeply rooted. These deeply rooted habits must imply a tendency to sin; otherwise they could not account for that which they are brought to account for, namely, prevailing wickedness in the world: for that cause cannot account for an effect, which is supposed to have no tendency to that effect. And this tendency which is supposed, is altogether equivalent to a natural tendency, being as necessary to the subject. For it is supposed to be brought on the person, who is the subject of it, when he has no power to oppose it; the habit, as Dr. Turnbull says, becoming very 172strong, before reason can have force enough to call the passions to account, or assume authority over them. And it is supposed, that this necessity, by which men become subject to this propensity to sin, is from the ordering and disposal of the Author of nature; and therefore must be as much from his hand, and as much without the hand of the person himself, as if he were first brought into being with such a propensity. Moreover, it is supposed that the effect is truly wickedness. For it is alleged as a cause why the whole world lies in wickedness, and why all but a very few are first in the class of the wicked, and not among the righteous, that need no repentance. If they need repentance, what they are guilty of is truly and properly wickedness, or moral evil; for certainly men need no repentance for that which is no sin, or blamable evil. It, as a consequence of this propensity, the world lies in wickedness, and the far greater part are of a wicked character, without doubt the far greater part go to eternal perdition: for death does not pick and choose, only for men of a righteous character. And certainly that is an evil, corrupt state of things, which naturally tends to and issues in this consequence, that as it were the whole world lies and lives in wickedness, dies in wickedness, and perishes eternally. And this by the supposition, is a state of things, wholly ordered by the Author of nature, before mankind are capable of having any hand in the affair. And is this any relief to the difficulties, which these writers object against the doctrine of natural depravity?
And I might here also observe, that this way of accounting for the wickedness of the world amounts to just the same thing with that solution of man’s depravity, mentioned before, against which Dr. T. cries out, as too gross to be admitted, (p. 188, 189.) viz. God creating the soul pure, and putting it into such a body, as naturally tends to pollute it. For this scheme supposes, that God creates the soul pure, and puts it into a body, and into such a state in that body, that the natural consequence is a strong propensity to sin, as soon as the soul is capable of sinning.
Dr. Turnbull seems to suppose, that the matter could not have been ordered otherwise, consistent with the nature of things, than that animal passions should be so aforehand with reason, as that the consequence should be that which has been mentioned; because reason is a faculty of such a nature, that it can have strength and vigour no otherwise than by exercise and culture.  But can there be any force in this? Is there any thing in nature, to make it impossible, but that the superior principles of man’s nature should be so proportioned to the inferior, as to prevent such a dreadful consequence, as the moral and natural ruin, and eternal perdition of the far greater part of mankind? Could not those superior principles be in much greater strength at first, and yet be capable of endless improvement? And what should hinder its being so ordered by the Creator, that they should improve by vastly swifter degrees than they do? If we are Christians, we must be forced to allow it to be possible in the nature of things, that the principles of human nature should be so balanced, that the consequence should be no propensity to sin, in the very beginning of a capacity for moral agency; because we must own, that it was so in fact in Adam, when first created, and also in the man Christ Jesus; though the faculties of the latter were such as grew by culture and improvement, so that he increased in wisdom as he grew in stature.
Evasion V. Seeing men in this world are in a state of trial, it is fit that their virtue should meet with trials, and consequently that it should have opposition and temptation to overcome; not only from without, but from within, in the animal passions and appetites; that by the conflict and victory our virtue may be refined and established.  Agreeably to this Dr. T. (p. 253.) says, “Without a right use and application of our powers, were they naturally ever so perfect, we could not be judged fit to enter into the kingdom of God.—This gives a good reason why we are now in a state of trial and temptation, viz. to prove and discipline our minds, to season our virtue, and to fit us for the kingdom of God; for which, in the judgment of infinite wisdom, we cannot be qualified, but by overcoming our present temptations.” And, (p. 78. S.) “We are upon trial, and it is the will of our Father that our constitution should be attended with various passions and appetites, as well as our outward condition with various temptations.” He says the like in several other places. To the same purpose very often Dr. Turnbull, particularly Chris. Phil. p. 310. “What merit (he says) except from combat? What virtue without the encounter of such enemies, such temptations, as arise both from within and from abroad? To be virtuous, is to prefer the pleasures of virtue to those which come into competition with it, and vice holds forth to tempt us; and to dare to adhere to truth and goodness, whatever pains and hardships it may cost. There must therefore, in order to the formation and trial, in order to the very being of virtue, be pleasures of a certain kind to make temptations to vice.”
In reply to these things I would say, either the state of temptation, which is supposed to be ordered for men’s trial, amounts on the whole to a prevailing tendency to that state of general wickedness and ruin, which has been proved to take place, or it does not. If it does not amount to a tendency to such an effect, then how does it account for it? When it is inquired, by what cause such an effect should come to pass, is it not absurd to allege a cause, which is owned at the same time to have no tendency to such an effect? Which is as much as to confess, that it will not account for it. I think it has been demonstrated, that this effect must be owing to some prevailing tendency.—But if the other part of the dilemma be taken, and it be said, that this state of things does imply a prevailing tendency to that effect, which has been proved, viz. that all mankind, without one exception, sin against God, to their own deserved eternal ruin—and not only so, but sin thus immediately, as soon as capable of it, and continually, have more sin than virtue, and have guilt that infinitely outweighs the value of all the goodness any ever have, and that the generality of the world in all ages are extremely stupid and foolish, of a wicked character, and actually perish for ever—then I say, if the state of temptation implies a natural tendency to such an effect as this, it is a very evil, corrupt, and dreadful state of things, as has been already largely shown.
Besides, such a state has a tendency to defeat its own supposed end, which is to refine, ripen, and perfect virtue, and so to fit men for the greater eternal happiness and glory: whereas, the effect it tends to, is the reverse of this, viz. general, eternal infamy and ruin, in all generations. It is supposed, that men’s virtue must have passions and appetites to struggle with, in order to have the glory and reward of victory: but the consequence is, a prevailing, continual, and generally effectual tendency—not to men’s victory over evil appetites and passions, and the glorious reward of that victory, but—to the victory of evil appetites and lusts over men, utterly and eternally destroying them. If a trial of virtue be requisite, yet the question is, Whence comes so general a failing in the trial, if there be no depravity of nature? If conflict and war be necessary, whence the necessity that there should be more cowards than good soldiers? and whence is it necessary that the whole world as it were should lie in wickedness, and die in cowardice?
I might also here observe, that Dr. Turnbull is not very consistent, in supposing, that combat with temptation is requisite to the very being of virtue. For I think it clearly follows from his own notion of virtue, that it must have a being prior to any virtuous or praiseworthy combat with temptation. For by his principles, all virtue lies in good affection, and no actions can be virtuous, but what proceed from good affection.  Therefore, surely the combat itself can have no virtue in it, unless it proceeds from virtuous affection: and therefore virtue must have an existence before the combat, and be the cause of it.
CHAPTER II. Arguments from universal Mortality.173
UNIVERSAL MORTALITY PROVES ORIGINAL SIN; PARTICULARLY THE DEATH OF INFANTS, WITH ITS VARIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES.
Theuniversal reign of death over persons of all ages indiscriminately, with the awful circumstances and attendants of death, prove that men come sinful into the world.—It is needless here particularly to inquire, Whether God has not a sovereign right to set bounds to the lives of his own creatures, be they sinful or not; and as he gives life, so to take it away when he pleases? Or how far God has a right to bring extreme suffering and calamity on an innocent moral agent? For death, with the pains and agonies with which it is usually brought on, is not merely a limiting of existence, but is a most terrible calamity; and to such a creature as man—capable of conceiving of immortality, made with an earnest desire after it, capable of foresight and reflection on approaching death, and having an extreme dread of it—is a calamity above all others terrible. I say, it is needless elaborately to consider, whether God may not, consistent with his perfections by absolute sovereignty, bring so great a calamity on mankind when perfectly innocent. It is sufficient, if we have good evidence from Scripture, that it is not agreeable to God’s manner of dealing with mankind so to do.
It is manifest, that mankind were not originally subjected to this calamity: God brought it on them afterwards, on occasion of man’s sin, when manifesting his great displeasure, and by a sentence pronounced by him as a judge; which Dr. T. often confesses. Sin entered into the world, as the apostle says, and death by sin. Which certainly leads us to suppose, that this affair was ordered, not merely by the sovereignty of a creator, but by the righteousness of a judge. And the Scripture every where speaks of all great afflictions and calamities, which God in his providence brings on mankind, as testimonies of his displeasure for sin, in the subjects of those calamities; excepting those sufferings which are to atone for the sins of others. He ever taught his people to look on such calamities as his rod, the rod of his anger, his frown, the hidings of his face in displeasure. Hence such calamities are in Scripture so often called by the name of judgments, being what God brings on men as a judge, executing a righteous sentence for transgression. Yea, they are often called by the name of wrath, especially calamities consisting or issuing in death.  And hence also is that which Dr. T. would have us take so much notice of, that sometimes, in the Scripture, calamity and suffering is called by such names as sin, iniquity, being guilty, &c. which is evidently by a metonymy of the cause for the effect. It is not likely that, in the language used of old among God’s people, calamity or suffering would have been called by the names of sin and guilt, if it had been so far from having any connexion with sin, that even death itself, which is always spoken of as the most terrible of calamities, is not so much as any sign of the sinfulness of the subject, or any testimony of God’s displeasure for his guilt, as Dr. T. supposes.
Death is spoken of in Scripture as the chief of calamities, the most extreme and terrible of all natural evils in this world. Deadly destruction is spoken of as the most terrible destruction (
very small in comparison of the universal temporal destruction of
mankind by death, are spoken of as manifest indications of God’s great
displeasure for the sinfulness of the subject; such as the destruction
of particular cities, countries, or numbers of men, by war or
Abimelech speaks of it as what he had reason to conclude from God’s nature and perfection, that he would not slay a righteous nation.
Dr. T. from time to time speaks of affliction and death as a great benefit, as they increase the vanity of all earthly things, and tend to excite sober reflections, and to induce us to be moderate in gratifying the appetites of the body, and to mortify pride and ambition, &c.  To this I would say,
It is not denied but God may see it needful for mankind in their
present state, that they should be mortal, and subject to outward
afflictions, to restrain their lusts, mortify their pride, &c. But
then is it not an evidence of man’s depravity, that it is so?
Is it not an evidence of distemper of mind, yea, strong disease, when
man stands in need of such sharp medicines, such severe and terrible
means to restrain his lusts, keep down his pride, and to
make him willing, and obedient to God? It must be owing to a corrupt
and ungrateful heart, if the riches of divine bounty, in bestowing life
and prosperity, things comfortable and pleasant, will not engage the
heart to God and virtue, love and obedience. Whereas he must always
have the rod held over him, be often chastised,
and held under the apprehensions of death, to keep him from running
wild in pride, contempt, and rebellion; ungratefully using the
blessings dealt forth from
God’s hand, in sinning against him, and serving his enemies. If man has
no natural disingenuity of heart, it must be a mysterious thing indeed,
that the sweet blessings of God’s bounty have not as powerful an
influence to restrain him from sinning against God, as terrible
afflictions. If any thing can be a proof of a perverse and vile
disposition, this must be a proof of it, that men should be most apt to
forget and despise God, when his providence is most kind; and that they
should need to
have God chastising them with great severity, and even killing them, to
keep them in order. If we were as much disposed to gratitude to God for
his benefits, as we are to anger at our fellow-creatures for injuries,
as we must be (so far as I can see) if we are not of a depraved heart;
then the sweetness of divine bounty, and the height of every enjoyment
pleasing to innocent human nature, would be as powerful incentives to a
proper regard for God—tending as much to promote religion and
virtue—as to have the world filled with calamities, and to have God (to
use the language of Hezekiah,
T. himself (p. 252.) says, “that our first parents before the fall were
placed in a condition proper to engage their gratitude, love, and
obedience.” Which is as much as to say, a condition proper to engage
them to the exercise and practice of all religion. And if the
paradisaical state was proper to engage to all religion and duty, and
men still come into the world with hearts as good as the two first of
the species, why is it not proper to engage them to it
still? What need of so vastly changing man’s state, depriving him of
all those blessings, and instead of them allotting to him a world full
of briers and thorns, affliction, calamity, and death, to engage him to
it? The taking away of life, and all those pleasant enjoyments man had
at first, by a permanent constitution, would be no stated benefit to
mankind, unless there was in them a stated disposition to abuse such
blessings. The taking of them away, is supposed to be a benefit, under
notion of their tending to lead men to sin: but they would have no such
tendency, at least in a stated manner, unless there was in men a fixed
tendency to make that unreasonable misimprovement of them. Such a
temper of mind, as amounts to a disposition to make such a
misimprovement of blessings, is often spoken of in Scripture as most
astonishingly vile and perverse. So concerning Israel abusing the blessings of Canaan,
that land flowing with milk and honey; their
ingratitude in it is spoken of by the prophets, as enough to astonish
all heaven and earth, and as more than brutish stupidity and vileness.
2. If death be brought on mankind only as a benefit, and in that manner which Dr. T. mentions,—to mortify or moderate their carnal appetites and affections, wean them from the world, excite them to sober reflections, and lead them to the fear and obedience of God, &c.—is it not strange that it should fall so heavily on infants, who are not capable of making any such improvement of it; so that many more of mankind suffer death in infancy, than in any other equal part of the age of man? Our author sometimes hints, that the death of infants may be for the correction and punishment of parents. But hath God any need of such methods to add to parents’ afflictions? Are there not other ways for increasing their trouble, without destroying the lives of such multitudes of those who are perfectly innocent, and who, on the supposition, have in no respect any sin belonging to them? On whom death comes at an age, when not only the subjects are not capable of reflection, or making any improvement of it, either in suffering, or the expectation of it: but also at an age, when parents and friends—who alone can improve, and whom Dr. T. supposes alone to be punished by it—suffer least by being bereaved of them; though the infants themselves sometimes suffer to great extremity?
3. To suppose, as Dr. T. does, that death is brought on mankind in consequence of Adam’s sin, not at all as a calamity but only as a favour and benefit, is contrary to the gospel; which teaches, that when Christ, as the second Adam, comes to remove and destroy that death, which came by the first Adam, he finds it not as a friend, but an enemy.
Dr. T. urges, that the afflictions to which mankind are subjected, and particularly their common mortality, are represented in Scripture as the chastisements of our heavenly Father; and therefore are designed for our spiritual good, and consequently are not of the nature of punishments. (So in p. 68, 69. 38, 39. S.)
Though I think the thing asserted far from being true, viz.
that the Scripture represents the afflictions of mankind in general,
and particularly their common mortality, as the chastisement of a
heavenly Father; yet it is needless to stand to dispute that matter.
For if it be so, it will be no argument that the afflictions and death
of mankind are not evidences of their sinfulness. Those would be
strange chastisements from the hand of a wise and good Father,
which are wholly for nothing; especially such severe chastisements, as
to break the child’s bones, when at the same time the father does not
suppose any guilt, fault, or offense, in any respect, belonging to the
child; but it is chastised in this terrible manner, only for fear that
it will be faulty hereafter. I say, these would be a strange sort of
chastisements; yea, though he should be able to make it up to the child
afterwards. Dr. T. speaks of representations made by the whole current
Scripture; I am certain, it is not agreeable to the current of
Scripture, to represent divine fatherly chastisements after this
manner. It is true, the Scripture supposes such chastenings to be the
fruit of God’s goodness; yet at the
same time it evermore represents them as being for the sin of the subject, and as evidences of the divine displeasure for its sinfulness. Thus the apostle (
If divine chastisements in general are certain evidences that the subjects are not wholly without sin, some way belonging to them, then in a peculiar manner is death so; for these reasons:
Because slaying, or delivering to death, is often spoken of as, in
general, a more awful thing than the chastisements which are endured in
this life. Thus,
Especially may death be looked upon as the most extreme of all temporal sufferings, when attended with such dreadful circumstances, and extreme pains, as those with which Providence sometimes brings it on infants; as on the children that were offered up to Moloch, and some other idols, who were tormented to death in burning brass. Dr. T. says (p. 83, 128. S.) “The Lord of all being can never want time, and place, and power, to compensate abundantly any sufferings infants now undergo in subserviency to his good providence.” But there are no bounds to such a license, in evading evidences from fact. It might as well be said, that there is not and cannot be any such thing as evidence, from events of God’s displeasure; which is most contrary to the whole current of Scripture, as may appear in part from what has been observed. This gentleman might as well go further still, and say, that God may cast guiltless persons into hell fire, to remain there in the most unutterable torments for ages of ages, (which bear no greater proportion to eternity than a quarter of an hour,) and if he does so, it is no evidence of God’s displeasure; because he can never want time, place, and power, abundantly to compensate their sufferings afterwards. If it be so, it is not to the purpose, as long as the Scripture so abundantly teaches us to look on great calamities and sufferings which God brings on men, especially death, as marks of his displeasure for sin, and for sin belonging to them who suffer.
(2.) Another thing—which may well lead us to suppose death, in a peculiar manner, above other temporal sufferings, to be intended as a testimony of God’s displeasure for sin—is, that death is attended with that awful appearance, that gloomy and terrible aspect, which naturally suggests to our minds God’s awful displeasure. Of this Dr. T. himself takes particular notice, when (p. 69.) speaking of death; “Herein (says he) have we before our eyes a striking demonstration, that sin is infinitely hateful to God, and the corruption and ruin of our nature. Nothing is more proper than such a sight to give us the utmost abhorrence of all iniquity,” &c. Now, if death be no testimony of God’s displeasure for sin—no evidence that the subject is looked upon, by him who inflicts it, as any other than perfectly innocent, free from all imputation of guilt, and treated only as an object of favour—is it not strange, that God should annex to it such affecting appearances of his hatred and anger for sin, more than to other chastisements? Which yet the Scripture teaches us are always for sin. These gloomy and striking manifestations of God’s hatred of sin attending death, are equivalent to the awful frowns of God attending the stroke of his hand. If we should see a wise and just father chastising his child, mixing terrible frowns with severe strokes, we should justly argue, that the father considered his child as having in him something displeasing, and that he did not thus treat his child only under a notion of mortifying him, and preventing his being faulty hereafter, and making it up to him afterwards, when he had been perfectly innocent, and without fault, either of action or disposition.
We may well argue from these things, that infants are not sinless, but are by nature children of wrath, seeing this terrible evil comes so heavily on mankind at this early period. But, besides the mortality of infants in general, there are some particular cases of their death attended with circumstances, which, in a peculiar manner, give evidence of their sinfulness, and of their just exposedness to divine wrath. Particularly,
The destroying of the infants in Sodom
and the neighbouring cities, may be pleaded in evidence; for these
cities destroyed in so miraculous and awful a manner, are set forth as
a signal example of God’s dreadful vengeance for sin. (
Since God declared, that if there had been found but ten righteous in Sodom,
he would have spared the whole city for their sakes, may we not well
suppose, if infants are perfectly innocent, that he would have spared
the old world, in which there were, without doubt, many hundred
thousand infants, and in general, one in every family, whose perfect
innocence pleaded for its preservation? Especially when such vast care
was taken to save Noah and his
family, (some of whom, one at least, seem to have been none of the
best,) that they might not be involved in that destruction. If the
perfect sinlessness of infants had been a notion entertained among the
people of God, in the ages next following the flood—handed down from Noah and his children, who well knew that vast multitudes of infants perished in the flood—is it likely that Eliphaz, who lived within a few generations of Shem and Noah, would have said to Job
When God executed vengeance on the ancient inhabitants of Canaan, he not only did not spare their cities and families for the sake of their infants, nor took care that they should not be involved in the destruction; but he often repeated his express commands, that their infants should not be spared, but should be utterly destroyed, without any pity; while Rahab the harlot (who had been far from innocence, though she expressed her faith in entertaining and safely dismissing the spies) were preserved, and all her friends for her sake. And when God executed his wrath on the Egyptians, by slaying their first-born—though the children of Israel, who were most of them wicked men, as was before shown, were wonderfully spared by the destroying angel, yet—the Egyptian infants were not spared. They not only were not rescued by the angel, and no miracle wrought to save them (as was observed in the case of the infants of Sodom,) but the angel destroyed them by his own immediate hand, and a miracle was wrought to kill them.
Not to be particular, concerning the command by Moses, respecting the destruction of the infants of the Midianites; (
if any should suspect, that such instances as these were peculiar to a
more severe dispensation, under the Old Testament, let us consider a
remarkable instance in the days of the glorious gospel of the grace of
God; even the last destruction of Jerusalem. This was far more terrible, and with greater testimonies of God’s wrath and indignation, that the destruction of Sodom, or of Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar’s time, or anything that ever
had happened to any city, or people, from the beginning of the world to that time (Agreeable to
PART II. Proofs of the Doctrine from particular parts of Scripture.
containing observations on particular parts of the holy scripture, which prove the doctrine of original sin.
CHAPTER I. Observations on the three first Chapters of Genesis.
OBSERVATIONS RELATING TO THINGS CONTAINED IN THE THREE FIRST CHAPTERS OF GENESIS, WITH REFERENCE TO THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
SECTION I. Concerning Adam's original righteousness.
Concerning original righteousness; and whether our first parents were created with righteousness, or moral rectitude of heart?
The doctrine of Original Righteousness,
or the creation of our first parents with holy principles and
dispositions, has a close connexion, in several respects, with the
doctrine of original sin. Dr. T. was sensible of this; and accordingly
he strenuously opposes this doctrine, in his book against original sin.
And therefore in handling the subject, I would in the first place
remove this author’s main objection against this doctrine, and then
show how it may be inferred from the account which Moses gives us, in
Dr. T.‘s grand objection against this doctrine, which he abundantly insists on, is this: that it is utterly inconsistent with the nature of virtue, that it should be concreated with any person; because, if so, it must be by an act of God’s absolute power, without our knowledge or concurrence; and that moral virtue, in its very nature, implieth the choice and consent of the moral agent, without which it cannot be virtue and holiness: that a necessary holiness is no holiness. So p. 180. where he observes, “That Adam must exist, he must be created, yea he must exercise thought and reflection, before he was righteous.” (See also p. 250, 251.) In p. 161. S. he says, “To say, that God not only endowed Adam with a capacity of being righteous, but moreover that righteousness and true holiness were created with him, or wrought into his nature, at the same time he was made, is to affirm a contradiction, or what is inconsistent with the very nature of righteousness.” And in like manner Dr. Turnbull in many places insists upon it, that it is necessary to the very being of virtue, that it be owing to our own choice, and diligent culture.
With respect to this, I would observe, that it consists in a notion of virtue quite inconsistent with the nature of things, and the common notions of mankind; and also inconsistent with Dr. T.‘s own notions of virtue. Therefore, if to affirm that to be virtue or holiness, which is not the fruit of preceding thought, reflection, and choice, is to affirm a contradiction, I shall show plainly, that for him to affirm otherwise, is a contradiction to himself.
In the first place, I think it a contradiction to the nature of things, as judged of by the common sense of mankind. It is agreeable to the sense of men, in all nations and ages, not only that the fruit or effect of a good choice is virtuous, but that the good choice itself, from whence that effect proceeds, is so; yea, also the antecedent good disposition, temper, or affection of mind, from whence proceeds that good choice, is virtuous. This is the general notion—not that principles derive their goodness from actions, but—that actions derive their goodness from the principles whence they proceed; so that the act of choosing what is good, is no further virtuous, than it proceeds from a good principle, or virtuous disposition of mind. Which supposes, that a virtuous disposition of mind may be before a virtuous act of choice; and that, therefore, it is not necessary there should first be thought, reflection, and choice, before there can be any virtuous disposition. If the choice be first, before the existence of a good disposition of heart, what is the character of that choice? There can, according to our natural notions, be no virtue in a choice which proceeds from no virtuous principle, but from mere self-love, ambition, or some animal appetites; therefore, a virtuous temper of mind may be before a good act of choice, as a tree may be before the fruit, and the fountain before the stream which proceeds from it.
The following things, in Mr. Hutcheson’s inquiry concerning moral good and evil, are evidently agreeable to the nature of things, and the voice of human sense and reason. (Sect. II. p. 132, 133.) ” Every action which we apprehend as either morally good or evil, is always supposed to flow from some affections towards sensitive natures. And whatever we call virtue or vice, is either some such affection, or some action consequent upon it.—All the actions counted religious in any country, are supposed by those who count them so, to flow from some affections towards the Deity: and whatever we call social virtue, we still suppose to flow from affections towards our fellow-creatures.—Prudence, if it is only employed in promoting private interest, is never imagined to be a virtue.” In these things Dr. Turnbull expressly agrees with Mr. Hutcheson, his admired author. 
If a virtuous disposition or affection is before its acts, then they are before those virtuous acts of choice which proceed from it. Therefore, there is no necessity that all virtuous dispositions or affections should be the effect of choice : and so, no such supposed necessity can be a good objection against such a disposition being natural, or from a kind of instinct, implanted in the mind in its creation. Agreeably to this Mr. Hutcheson says, (Ibid. sect. III. p. 196, 197.) “I know not for what reason some will not allow that to be virtue, which flows from instinct or passions. But how do they help themselves? They say, virtue arises from reason. What is reason, but the sagacity we have in prosecuting any end? The ultimate end proposed by common moralists, is the happiness of the agent himself. And this certainly he is determined to pursue from instinct. Now may not another instinct towards the public, or the good of others, be as proper a principle of virtue as the instinct towards private happiness? If it be said, that actions from instinct are not the effect of prudence and choice, this objection will hold full as strongly against the actions which flow from self-love.”
And if we consider what Dr. T. declares, as his own notion of the essence of virtue, and which he so confidently and often affirms, that it should follow choice, and proceed from it, we shall find it is no less repugnant to that sentiment, than it is to the nature of things, and the general notions of mankind. For it is his notion, as well as Mr. Hutcheson’s, that the essence of virtue lies in good affection, and particularly in benevolence or love: as he very fully declares in these words in his Key,  “That the word that signifies goodness and mercy should also signify moral rectitude in general, will not seem strange, if we consider that love is the fulfilling of the law. Goodness, according to the sense of Scripture, and the nature of things, includes all moral rectitude; which, I reckon, 178 may every part of it, where it true and genuine, be resolved into this single principle.” If it be so indeed, then certainly no act whatsoever can have moral rectitude, but what proceeds from this principle. And consequently no act of volition or choice can have any moral rectitude, that takes place before this principle exists. And yet he most confidently affirms, that thought, reflection, and choice must go before virtue, and that all virtue or righteousness must be the fruit of preceding choice. This brings his scheme to an evident contradiction. For no act of choice can be virtuous but what proceeds from a principle of benevolence, or love; for he insists that all genuine moral rectitude, in every part of it, is resolved into this single principle. And yet the principle of benevolence itself cannot be virtuous, unless it proceeds from choice; for he affirms, that nothing can have the nature of virtue but what comes from choice. So that virtuous love as the principle of all virtue, must go before virtuous choice, and be the principle or spring of it; and yet virtuous choice must go before virtuous benevolence, and be the spring of that. If a virtuous act of choice goes before a principle of benevolence, and produces it, then this virtuous act is something distinct from that principle which follows it, and is its effect. So that here is at least one part of virtue, yea the spring and source of all virtue, viz. a virtuous choice, that cannot be resolved into that single principle of love.
Here also it is worthy to be observed, that Dr. T. (p. 128.) says, the cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth or which proceedeth from it, and so he argues, that if the effect be bad, the cause alone is sinful. According to which reasoning, when the effect is good, the cause alone is righteous or virtuous. To the cause is to be ascribed all the praise of the good effect it produceth. And by the same reasoning it will follow, that if, as Dr. Taylor says, Adam must choose to be righteous, before he was righteous, and if it be essential to the nature of righteousness, or moral rectitude, that it be the effect of choice, and hence a principle of benevolence cannot have moral rectitude, unless it proceeds from choice; then not the principle of benevolence, which is the effect, but to the foregoing choice alone is to be ascribed all the virtue or righteousness that is in the case. And so, instead of all moral rectitude, in every part of it, being resolved into that single principle of benevolence, no moral rectitude, in any part of it, is to be resolved into that principle; but all is to be resolved into the foregoing choice, which is the cause.
But yet it follows from these inconsistent principles, that there is no moral rectitude or virtue in that first act of choice, that is the cause of all consequent virtue. This follows two ways; 1. Because every part of virtue lies in the benevolent principle, which is the effect; and therefore no part of it can lie in the cause. 2. The choice of virtue, as to the first act at least, can have no virtue or righteousness at all; because it does not proceed from any foregoing choice. For Dr. T. insists, that a man must first have reflection and choice, before he can have righteousness; and that it is essential to holiness that it proceed from choice. So that the first choice from which holiness proceeds, can have no virtue at all, because, by the supposition, it does not proceed from choice, being the first choice. Hence, if it be essential to holiness that it proceeds from choice, it must proceed from an unholy choice; unless the first holy choice can be before itself.
And with respect to Adam, let us consider how upon Dr. T.‘s principles, it was possible he ever should have any such thing as righteousness, by any means at all. In the state wherein God created him, he could have no such thing as love to God, or any benevolence in his heart. For if so, there would have been original righteousness; there would have been genuine moral rectitude; nothing would have been wanting: for our author says, True, genuine moral rectitude, in every part of it, is to be resolved into this single principle. But if he were wholly without any such thing as love to God, or any virtuous love, how should he come by virtue? The answer doubtless will be, by act of choice: he must first choose to be virtuous. But what if he did choose to be virtuous? It could not be from love to God, or any virtuous principle, that he chose it; for, by the supposition, he has no such principle in his heart. And if he chooses it without such a principle, still, according to this author, there is no virtue in his choice; for all virtue, he says, is to be resolved into that single principle of love. Or will he say, there may be produced in the heart a virtuous benevolence by an act or acts of choice, that are not virtuous? But this does not consist with what he implicitly asserts, that to the cause alone is to be ascribed what is in the effect. So that there is no way that can possibly be devised, in consistence with Dr. T.‘s scheme, in which Adam ever could have any righteousness, or could ever either obtain any principle of virtue, or perform any one virtuous act.
These confused inconsistent assertions, concerning virtue and moral rectitude, arise from the absurd notions in vogue, concerning freedom of will, as if it consisted in the will’s self-determining power, supposed to be necessary to moral agency, virtue, and vice. The absurdities of which, with the grounds of these errors, and what the truth is respecting these matters, with its evidences, I have, according to my ability, fully and largely considered, in my ”Inquiry’’ on that subject; to which I must refer the reader, who desires further satisfaction, and is willing to give himself the trouble of reading that discourse.
Having considered this great argument, and pretended demonstration of Dr. T. against original righteousness; I proceed to the proofs of the doctrine. And, in the first place, I would consider, whether there be not evidence of it in the three first chapters of Genesis: or, whether the history there delivered does not lead us to suppose, that our first parents were created in a state of moral rectitude and holiness.
I. This history leads us to suppose, that Adam’s sin, with relation to the forbidden fruit, was the first sin he committed. Which could not have been, had he not always, till then, been perfectly righteous, righteous from the first moment of his existence; and consequently, created or brought into existence righteous. In a moral agent, subject to moral obligations, it is the same thing, to be perfectly innocent, as to be perfectly righteous. It must be the same, because there can no more be any medium between sin and righteousness, or between being right and being wrong, in a moral sense, than there can be a medium between straight and crooked, in a natural sense. Adam was brought into existence capable of acting immediately, as a moral agent; and therefore he was immediately under a rule of right action. He was obliged as soon as he existed to act aright. And if he was obliged to act aright as soon as he existed, he was obliged even then to be inclined to act right. Dr. T. says, (p. 166. S.) “Adam could not sin without a sinful inclination:”  and, just for the same reason, he could not do aright, without an inclination to right action. And as he was obliged to act rightly from the first moment of his existence, and did so, till he sinned in reference to the forbidden fruit, he must have had a disposition of heart to do rightly the first moment of his existence; and that is the same as to be created, or brought into existence, with an inclination to right action, or, which is the same thing, a virtuous and holy disposition of heart.
Here it will be in vain to say, “It is true, that it was Adam’s duty to have a good disposition or inclination, as soon as it was possible to be obtained, in the nature of things; but as it could not be without time to establish such a habit, which requires antecedent thought, reflection, and repeated right action; therefore all that Adam could be obliged to, in the first place, was to reflect, and consider things in a right manner, and apply himself to right action, in order to obtain a right disposition:” for this supposes, that even the reflection and consideration to which he was obliged, was right action. Surely he was obliged to it no otherwise than as a thing that was right: and therefore he must have an inclination to this right action immediately, before he could perform those first right actions. And as the inclination to them should be right, the principle, or disposition from which he performed even those actions, must be good: otherwise the actions would 179not be right in the sight of him who looks at the heart; nor would they answer his obligations, if he had done them for some sinister end, and not from a regard to God and his duty. Therefore there must have been a regard to God and his duty implanted in him at his first existence: otherwise it is certain, he would have done nothing from a regard to God and his duty; no, not so much as to reflect and consider, and try to obtain such a disposition. The very supposition of a disposition to right action being first obtained by repeated right action, is grossly inconsistent with itself: for it supposes a course of right action, before there is a disposition to perform any right action.
These are no invented quibbles or sophisms. If God expected from Adam any obedience, or duty to him at all, when he first made him—whether it was in reflecting, considering, or any way exerting his faculties—then he was expected immediately to exercise love to God. For how could it be expected, that Adam should have a strict and perfect regard to God’s commands and authority, and his duty to him, when he had no love nor regard to him in his heart, nor could it be expected he should have any? If Adam from the beginning did his duty to God, and had more respect to the will of his Creator, than to other things, and as much respect to him as he ought to have; then from the beginning he had a supreme and perfect respect and love to God: and if so, he was created with such a principle. There is no avoiding the consequence. Not only external duties, but internal ones, such as summarily consist in love, must be immediately required of Adam, as soon as he existed, if any duty at all was required. For it is most apparently absurd, to talk of a spiritual being, with the faculties of understanding and will, being required to perform external duties, without internal. Dr. T. himself observes, that love is the fulfilling of the law, and that all moral rectitude, even every part of it, must be resolved into that single principle. Therefore, if any morally right act at all, reflection, consideration, or any thing else, was required of Adam immediately, on his first existence, and was performed as required; then he must, the first moment of his existence, have his heart possessed of that principle of divine love; which implies the whole of moral rectitude in every part of it, according to our author’s own doctrine; and so the whole of moral rectitude or righteousness must begin with his existence: which is the thing taught in the doctrine of original righteousness.
Let us consider how it could be otherwise, than that Adam was always, in every moment of his existence, obliged to exercise such respect of heart towards every object, as was agreeable to the apparent merit of that object. For instance, would it not at any time have become Adam, on the exhibition of God’s infinite goodness to him, to have exercised answerable gratitude; and would not the contrary have been unbecoming and odious? And if something had been presented to Adam’s view, transcendently amiable in itself, for instance, the glorious perfection of the divine nature, would it not have become him to love, relish, and delight in it? Would not such an object have merited this? And if the view of an object so amiable in itself did not affect his mind with complacence, would it not, according to the plain dictates of our understanding, have shown an unbecoming temper of mind? Time, by culture, to form and establish a good disposition, would not have taken off the odiousness of the temper. And if there had been never so much time, I do not see how it could be expected he should improve it aright, in order to obtain a good disposition, if he had not already some good disposition to engage him to it.
That belonging to the will, and disposition of the heart, which is in itself either odious or amiable, unbecoming or decent, always would have been Adam’s virtue or sin, in any moment of his existence; if there be any such thing as virtue or vice; by which terms nothing can be meant, but something in our moral disposition and behaviour, which is becoming or unbecoming, amiable or odious.
Human nature must be created with some dispositions; a disposition to relish some things as good and amiable, and to be averse to other things as odious and disagreeable: otherwise, it must be without any such thing as inclination or will; perfectly indifferent, without preference, without choice, or aversion, towards any thing as agreeable or disagreeable. But if it had any concreated dispositions at all, they must be either right or wrong, either agreeable or disagreeable to the nature of things. If man had at first the highest relish of things excellent and beautiful, a disposition to have the quickest and highest delight in those things which were most worthy of it, then his dispositions were morally right and amiable, and never can be excellent in a higher sense. But if he had a disposition to love most those things that were inferior and less worthy, then his dispositions were vicious. And it is evident there can be no medium between these.
II. This notion of Adam being created without a principle of holiness in his heart, taken with the rest of Dr. T.‘s scheme, is inconsistent with what the history in the beginning of Genesis leads us to suppose of the great favours and smiles of Heaven, which Adam enjoyed while he remained in innocency. The Mosaic account suggests to us, that till Adam sinned, he was in happy circumstances, surrounded with testimonies and fruits of God’s favour. This is implicitly owned by Dr. T. when he says, (p. 252.) “That in the dispensation our first parents were under before the fall, they were placed in a condition proper to engage their gratitude, love, and obedience.” But it will follow, on our author’s principles, that Adam, while in innocency, was placed in far worse circumstances, than he was in after his disobedience, and infinitely worse than his posterity are in; under unspeakably greater disadvantages for avoiding sin, and the performance of duty. For by this doctrine, Adam’s posterity come into the world with their hearts as free from any propensity to sin as he, and he was made as destitute of any propensity to righteousness as they: and yet God, in favour to them, does great things to restrain them from sin, and excite them to virtue, which he never did for Adam in innocency, but laid him, in the highest degree, under contrary disadvantages. God, as an instance of his great favour, and fatherly love to man, since the fall, has denied him the ease and pleasures of paradise, which gratified and allured his senses, and bodily appetites; that he might diminish his temptations to sin. And as a still greater means to restrain from sin, and promote virtue, has subjected him to labour, toil, and sorrow in the world: and not only so, but as a means to promote his spiritual and eternal good far beyond this, has doomed him to death. When all this was found insufficient, he, in further prosecution of the designs of his love, shortened men’s lives exceedingly, made them twelve or thirteen times shorter than in the first ages. And yet this, with all the innumerable calamities which God, in great favour to mankind, has brought on the world—whereby their temptations are so vastly cut short, and the inducements to virtue heaped one upon another to so great a degree—have proved insufficient, now for so many thousand years together, to restrain from wickedness in any considerable degree; while innocent human nature, all along, comes into the world with the same purity and harmless dispositions that our first parents had in paradise. What vast disadvantages indeed then must Adam and Eve be in, who had no more in their nature to keep them from sin, or incline them to virtue, than their posterity, and yet were without all those additional and extraordinary means! They were not only without such exceeding great means as we now have, when our lives are made so very short, but had vastly less advantages than their antediluvian posterity, who to prevent their being wicked, and to make them good, had so much labour and toil, sweat and sorrow, briers and thorns, with a body gradually decaying and returning to the dust. Our first parents had the extreme disadvantage of being placed amongst many and exceeding great temptations—not only without toil or sorrow, pain or disease, to humble and mortify them, and a sentence of death to wean them from the world, but—in the midst of the most exquisite and alluring sensitive delights; the reverse in every respect, and the highest degree, of that most gracious state of requisite means, and great advantages, which mankind now enjoy! If mankind now, under these vast restraints, and great advantages, are not restrained from general, and as it were universal wickedness, how could it be expected that Adam and Eve, created with no better hearts than men bring into the world now, and destitute of all these advantages, and in the midst of all contrary disadvantages, should escape it?
180 These things are not agreeable to Moses’s account. That represents a happy state of peculiar favours and blessings before the fall, and the curse coming afterwards; but according to this scheme, the curse was before the fall, and the great favours and testimonies of love followed the apostasy. And the curse before the fall must be a curse with a witness, being to so high a degree the reverse of such means, means so necessary for such a creature as innocent man, and in all their multitude and fulness proving too little. Paradise therefore must be a mere delusion! There was indeed a great show of favour, in placing man in the midst of such delights. But this delightful garden, it seems, with all its beauty and sweetness, was in its real tendency worse than the apples of Sodom. It was but a mere bait, (God forbid the blasphemy,) the more effectually enticing by its beauty and deliciousness, to Adam’s eternal ruin. Which might be the more expected to be fatal to him, seeing he was the first man, having no capacity superior to his posterity, and wholly without the advantage of their observations, experiences, and improvements.
I proceed now to take notice of an
additional proof of the doctrine we are upon, from another part of the
Holy Scripture. A very clear text for original righteousness we have in
It is an observation of no weight which Dr. T. makes on this text, that the word man
is commonly used to signify mankind in general, or mankind collectively
taken. It is true, it often signifies the species of mankind; but then
it is used to signify the species, with regard to its duration and succession from its beginning, as well as with regard to its extent. The English word mankind is used to signify the species: but what then? Would
it be an improper way of speaking, to say, that when God first made mankind,
he placed them in a pleasant paradise, (meaning in their first
parents,) but now they live in the midst of briers and thorns? And it
is certain, that to speak thus of God making mankind—his giving the
species an existence in their first parents, at the creation—is
agreeable to the scripture use of such an expression. As in
No less impertinent, and also very unfair, is his criticism on the word (rSy) translated upright. Because the word sometimes signifies right,
he would from thence infer, that it does not properly signify moral
rectitude, even when used to express the character of moral agents. He
might as well insist, that the English word upright, sometimes, and in its most original meaning, signifies right up,
or in an erect posture, therefore it does not properly signify any
moral character, when applied to moral agents. And indeed less
unreasonably; for it is known, that in the Hebrew
language, in a peculiar manner, most words used to signify moral and
spiritual things, are taken from external and natural objects. The word
(rSy Jashar) is used, as applied to moral agents, or to the words and actions of such, (if I have not misreckoned,
) about an hundred and ten times in Scripture; and about an hundred of
them, without all dispute, to signify virtue, or moral rectitude,
(though Dr. T. is pleased to say, the word does not generally signify a
moral character,) and for the most part it signifies true virtue,
or virtue in such a sense, as distinguishes it from all false
appearances of virtue, or what is only virtue in some respects, but not
truly so in the sight of God. It is used at least eighty times in this
sense: and scarce any word can be found in the Hebrew language more significant of this. It is thus used constantly in Solomon’s
writings, (where it is often found) when used to express a character or
property of moral agents. And it is beyond all controversy, that he
uses it in this place, (
What our author urges concerning many inventions, whereas Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit was but one invention, is of as little weight as the rest of what he says on this text. For the many lusts and corruptions of man kind, appearing in innumerable ways of sinning, are all the consequence of that sin. The great corruption men are fallen into by the original apostacy, appears in the multitude of the wicked ways to which they are inclined. And therefore these are properly mentioned as the fruits and evidences of the greatness of that apostacy and corruption.
SECTION II. Death threatened to our first parents.
Concerning the kind of death, threatened to our first parents, if they should eat of the forbidden fruit.
Dr. T. in his observations on the three first chapters of Genesis
says, (p. 7.) “The threatening to man in case of transgression was,
that he should surely die.—Death is the losing of life. Death is
opposed to life, and must be understood according to the nature of that
life, to which it is opposed. Now the death here threatened can, with
any certainty, be opposed only to the life God gave Adam, when he
created him, (
To this I would say; it is true, Death it opposed to life, and must be understood according to the nature of that life, to which it is opposed. But does it therefore follow, that nothing can be meant by it but the loss of life? Misery is opposed to happiness, and sorrow is in Scripture often opposed to joy; but can we conclude from thence, that nothing is meant in Scripture by sorrow, but the loss of joy? or that there is no more in misery, than the loss or 181 absence of happiness? And if the death threatened to Adam can, with certainty, be opposed only to the life given to Adam, when God created him; I think, a state of perfect, perpetual, and hopeless misery is properly opposed to that state Adam was in, when God created him. For I suppose it will not be denied, that the life Adam had, was truly a happy life; happy in perfect innocency, in the favour of his Maker, surrounded with the happy fruits and testimonies of his love. And I think it has been proved, that he also was happy in a state of perfect righteousness. Nothing is more manifest, than that it is agreeable to a very common acceptation of the word life, in Scripture, that it be understood as signifying a state of excellent and happy existence. Now that which is most opposite to that life and state in which Adam was created, is a state of total, confirmed wickedness, and perfect hopeless misery, under the divine displeasure and curse; not excluding temporal death, or the destruction of the body, as an introduction to it.
Besides, that which is much more evident, than any thing Dr. T. says on this head, is, that the death which was to come on Adam, as the punishment of his disobedience, was opposed to that life, which he would have had as the reward of his obedience in case he had not sinned. Obedience and disobedience are contraries; the threatenings and promises which are sanctions of a law, are set in direct opposition; and the promises, rewards, and threatened punishments, are most properly taken as each others’ opposites. But none will deny, that the life which would have been Adam’s reward, if he had persisted in obedience, was eternal life. And therefore we argue justly that the death which stands opposed to that life, (Dr. T. himself being judge, p. 120. S.) is manifestly eternal death, a death widely different from the death we now die—to use his own words. If Adam, for his persevering obedience, was to have had everlasting life and happiness, in perfect holiness, union with his Maker, and enjoyment of his favour, and this was the life which was to be confirmed by the tree of life; then, doubtless, the death threatened in case of disobedience, which stands in direct opposition to this, was an exposure to everlasting wickedness and misery, in separation from God, and in enduring his wrath.
When God first made mankind, and made known to them the methods of his moral government towards them, in the revelation he made of himself to the natural head of the whole species—and letting him know, that obedience to him was expected, and enforcing his duty with the sanction of a threatened punishment, called by the name of death—we may with the greatest reason suppose, in such a case, that by death was meant the most proper punishment of the sin of mankind, and which he speaks of under that name throughout the Scripture, as the proper wages of sin; and this was always, from the beginning, understood to be so in the church of God. It would be strange indeed, if it should be otherwise. It would have been strange, if, when the law of God was first given, and enforced by the threatening of a punishment, nothing at all had been mentioned of that great punishment, ever spoken of under the name of death—in the revelations which he has given to mankind from age to age—as the proper punishment of the sin of mankind. And it would be no less strange, if when the punishment which was mentioned and threatened on that occasion, was called by the same name, even death, yet we must not understand it to mean the same thing, but something infinitely diverse, and infinitely more inconsiderable.
But now let us consider what that
death is, which the Scripture ever speaks of as the proper wages of
sin, and is spoken of as such by God’s saints in all ages of the
church. I will begin with the New Testament. When the apostle Paul says, (
If any should insist upon it as an objection—against supposing that death was intended to signify eternal death in the threatening to Adam—that this use of the word is figurative: I reply, that though this should be allowed, yet it is by no means so figurative as many other phrases used in the history contained in these three chapters: as when it is said, God said, Let there be light; God said, let there be firmament, &c. as though God spake such words with a voice. So when it is said, God called the light, day: God called the firmament, heaven, &c. God rested on the seventh day; as though he had been weary, and then rested. And when it is said, They heard the voice of God walking; as though the Deity had feet, and took steps on the ground. Dr. T. supposes, that when it is said of Adam and Eve, Their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked; by the word naked is meant a state of guilt. (P. 12.) Which sense of the word, naked, is much further from the common use of the word, than the supposed sense of the word death. So this author supposes the promise concerning the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head, while the serpent should bruise his heel, is to be understood of the Messiah destroying the power and sovereignty of the devil, and receiving some slight hurt from him. (P. 15, 16.) Which makes the sentence full of figures. And why might not God deliver threatenings to our first parents in figurative expressions, as well as promises?
But indeed, there is no necessity of supposing the word death, or the Hebrew word so translated, if used in the manner that has been supposed, to have been figurative at all. It does not appear but that this word, in its true and proper meaning, might signify perfect misery, and sensible destruction; though the word was also applied to signify something more external and visible. There are many words in our language, such as heart, sense, view, discovery, conception, light, and many others, which are applied to signify external things; as that muscular part of the body called heart; external feelings, called sense; the sight of the bodily eye, called view; the finding of a thing by its being uncovered, called discovery; the first beginning of the fœtus in the womb, called conception; and the rays of the sun, called light. Yet these words do as truly and properly signify other things of a more spiritual internal nature; such as the disposition, affection, perception, and thought of the mind, and manifestation and evidence to the soul. Common use, which governs the propriety of language, makes the latter things to be as much signified by those words, in their proper meaning, as the former. It is especially common in the Hebrew, and I suppose, other Oriental languages, that the same word that signifies something external, does no less properly and usually signify something more spiritual. So the Hebrew words used for breath, have such a double signification; (NOT ENGLISH) Neshama signifies both breath and the soul; and the latter as commonly as the former: (NOT ENGLISH) Ruach is used for breath or wind, but yet more commonly signifies spirit. (NOT ENGLISH) Nephesh is used for breath, but yet more commonly signifies soul. So the word (NOT ENGLISH or NOT ENGLISH) Lébh, heart, no less properly signifies the soul, especially with regard to the will and affections, than that part of the body so called. The word (NOT ENGLISH) Shalom, which we render peace, no less properly signifies prosperity and happiness, than mutual agreement. The word translated life, signifies the natural life of the body, and also the perfect and happy state of sensible active being; and the latter as properly as the former. So the word death, signifies destruction, as to outward sensibility, activity, and enjoyment: but it has most evidently another signification, which in the Hebrew tongue is no less proper, viz. perfect, sensible, hopeless ruin and misery.
It is therefore wholly without reason urged, that death properly signifies only the loss of this present life; and that therefore nothing else was meant by that death which was threatened for eating the forbidden fruit. Nor does it at all appear but that Adam—who, from what God said concerning the seed of the woman, could understand that relief was promised as to the death which was threatened, as Dr. T. himself supposes—understood the death which was threatened, in the more important sense. Especially seeing temporal death, considered originally and in itself, is evermore, excepting as changed by divine grace, an entrance into that dismal state of misery which is shadowed forth by the awful circumstances of this death; circumstances naturally suggesting to the mind the most dreadful state of hopeless, sensible ruin.
As to the objection, that the phrase, Dying thou shalt die, is several times used in the books of Moses, to signify temporal death, it can be of no force. For it has been shown already, that the same phrase is sometimes used in Scripture to signify eternal death, in instances much more parallel with this. But indeed nothing can be certainly argued concerning the nature of the thing intended, from its being expressed in such a manner. For it is evident, that such repetitions of a word in the Hebrew language, are no more than an emphasis upon a word in the more modern languages, to signify the great degree of a thing, the importance or certainty of it, &c. When we would signify and impress these, we commonly put an emphasis on our words. Instead of this, the Hebrews, when they would express a thing strongly, repeated or doubled the word, the more to impress the mind of the hearer; as may be plain to every one in the least conversant with the Hebrew Bible. The repetition in the threatening to Adam, therefore, only implies the solemnity and importance of the threatening. But God may denounce either eternal or temporal death with peremptoriness and solemnity, and nothing can certainly be inferred concerning the nature of the thing threatened, because it is threatened with emphasis, more than this, that the threatening is much to be regarded. Though it be true, that it might in an especial manner be expected that a threatening of eternal death would be denounced with great emphasis, such a threatening being infinitely important, and to be regarded above all others.
SECTION III. Adam a federal head, &c.
Wherein it is inquired, whether there be any thing in the history of the three first chapters of Genesis, which should lead us to suppose, that God, in his constitution with Adam, dealt with mankind in general, as included in their first father, and that the threatening of death, in case he should eat the forbidden fruit, had respect not only to him, but his posterity?
Dr. T. rehearsing that threatening to Adam, Thou shalt surely die, and giving us his paraphrase of it, (p. 7, 8.)
concludes thus; “Observe, here is not one word relating to Adam’s posterity.” But it may be observed, in opposition to this, that there is scarcely one word that we have an account of, which God ever said to Adam or Eve, but what does manifestly include their posterity in the meaning and design of it. There
is as much of a word said about Adam’s posterity in that threatening, as there is in those words of God to Adam and Eve,
But I shall show, that I do not in any of these things falsely charge or misrepresent Dr. T.—He speaks of the sentence in
The sentence which is founded on the threatening, and (as Dr. T. says) according to the threatening, extends to as many as were included in the threatening, and to no more. If the sentence be upon a collective subject, indefinitely, the greatest part of which were not included in the threatening, nor were ever threatened at all, then certainly this sentence is not according to the threatening, nor built upon it. If the sentence be according to the threatening, then we may justly explain the threatening by sentence. And if we find the sentence spoken to the same person whom the threatening was spoken, and spoken in the second person singular in like manner with the threatening, founded on the threatening, and according to it; and if we find the sentence includes Adam’s posterity, then we may certainly infer, that so did the threatening. And hence, that both the threatening and the sentence were delivered to Adam as the public head and representative of his posterity.
And we may also further infer from it, in another respect, directly contrary to Dr. T.‘s doctrine, that the sentence which included Adam’s posterity, was to death, as a punishment to that posterity, as well as to Adam himself. For a sentence pronounced in execution of a threatening, is for punishment. Threatenings are of punishments. Neither God nor man are wont to threaten others with favours and benefits.
But lest any of this author’s admirers should stand to it, that it may very properly be said, God threatened
mankind with bestowing great kindness upon them, I would observe, that
Dr. T. himself often speaks of this sentence as pronounced by God on all mankind, as condemning them; as a sentence of condemnation judicially pronounced, or a sentence which God pronounced on all mankind acting as their judge, and in a judicial
proceeding. This he affirms in multitudes of places. In p. 20. speaking of this sentence, which he there says, subjects us, Adam’s and Eve’s posterity, to affliction and mortality, he calls it a judicial act of condemnation. “The judicial act of condemnation
(says he) clearly implies, a taking him to pieces, and turning him to
the ground from whence he was taken.” And (p. 28, 29. Note.) “In all
the Scripture from one end to the other, there is recorded but one judgment to condemnation, which came upon all men, and that is
I am sensible Dr. T. does not run
into all this inconsistence, only through oversight and blundering; but
that he is driven to it, to make out his matters in his evasion of that
noted paragraph in the fifth chapter of Romans; especially those three
1. Suffering death, and failing of possible existence, are entirely different things. If there had never been any such thing as sin committed, there would have been infinite numbers of possible beings, which would have failed of existence, by God’s appointment. God has appointed (if the phrase be allowable) not to bring into existence numberless possible worlds, each replenished with innumerable possible inhabitants. But is this equivalent to God’s appointing them all to suffer death?
2. Our author represents, that by Adam’s sin, the possible existence of his posterity fell into the hands of the Judge, to be disposed of as he should think fit. But there was no need of any sin of Adam, or of any body else, in order to their being brought into God’s hands, in this respect. The future possible existence of all created beings is in God’s hands, antecedently to the existence of any sin. And therefore, infinite numbers of possible beings, without any relation to Adam, or any other sinning being, fail of their possible existence. And if Adam had never sinned, yet it would be unreasonable to suppose, but that innumerable multitudes of his possible posterity would have failed of existence by God’s disposal. For will any be so unreasonable as to imagine, that God would and must have brought into existence as many of his posterity as it was possible should be, if he had not sinned? Or, that then it would not have been possible, that any other persons of his posterity should ever have existed, than those individual persons who now actually suffer death, and return to the dust?
3. We have many accounts in Scripture, which imply the actual failing of the possible existence of innumerable multitudes of Adam’s posterity, yea, of many more than ever come into existence. As, of the possible posterity of Abel, the possible posterity of all them that were destroyed by the flood, and the possible posterity of the innumerable multitudes, which we read of in Scripture, destroyed by sword, pestilence, &c. And if the threatening to Adam reached his posterity, in no other respect than this, that they were liable to be deprived by it of their possible existence, then these instances are much more property a fulfilment of that threatening, than the suffering of death by such as actually come into existence; and so is that which is most properly the judgment to condemnation, executed by the sentence of the Judge, proceeding on ground of that threatening. But where do we ever find this so represented in Scripture? We read of multitudes cut off for their personal sins, who thereby failed of their possible posterity. And these are mentioned as God’s judgments on them, and effects of God’s condemnation of them: but when are they ever spoken of as God judicially proceeding against, and condemning their possible posterity?
4. Dr. T. in what he says concerning this matter, speaks of the threatening of the law delivered to Adam, which the possible existence of his posterity fell under, as the ground of the judgment to condemnation coming upon all men. But herein he is exceeding inconsistent with himself: for he affirms in a place forecited, that the Scripture never speaks of any sentence of condemnation coming upon all men, but that sentence in the third of Genesis, concerning man turning to dust. But, according to him, the threatening of the law delivered to Adam, could not be the ground of that sentence; for he greatly insists upon it, that that law was entirely abrogated before that sentence was pronounced, had no existence to have any such influence as might procure a sentence of death; and therefore this sentence was introduced entirely on another footing, a new dispensation of grace. The reader may see this matter strenuously urged, and particularly argued by him, p. 113—120. S. So that this sentence could not, according to him, have the threatening of that law for its ground, as he supposes; for it never stood upon that ground. It could not be called a judgment of condemnation, under any such view; for it could not be viewed in circumstances where it never existed.
5. If, as our author supposes, that the sentence of death on all men comes under the notion of a judgment to condemnation by this means, viz. that the threatening to Adam was in some respect the ground of it; then it also comes under the notion of a punishment: for threatenings annexed to breaches of laws, are to punishments; and a judgment of condemnation to the thing threatened, must be to punishment; and the thing condemned to, must have as much the notion of a punishment, as the sentence has the notion of a judgment to condemnation. But this Dr. T. wholly denies: he denies that death comes as any punishment at all; but insists that it comes only as a favour and benefit, and a fruit of fatherly love to Adam’s posterity, respected not as guilty, but wholly innocent. So that his scheme will not admit of its coming under the notion of a sentence to condemnation in any respect whatsoever. Our author’s supposition, that the possible existence of Adam’s posterity comes under the threatening of the law, and into the hands of the Judge, and is the ground of the condemnation of all men to death, implies, that death by this sentence is appointed to mankind as an evil, at least negatively so; as it is a privation of good: for he manifestly speaks of a non-existence as a negative evil. But herein he is inconsistent with himself: for he continually insists, that mankind are subjected to death only as a benefit, as has been before shown. According to him, death is not appointed to mankind, as a negative evil, as any cessation of existence, or even diminution of good; but on the contrary, as a means of a more happy existence, and a great increase of good.
So that this evasion of Dr. T. is so far from helping the matter, that it increases and multiplies the inconsistence. And that the law, with the threatening of death annexed, was given to Adam, as the head of mankind, and to his posterity as included in him, not only follow from some of our author’s own assertions—and the plain, full declarations of the apostle in the fifth of Romans, which drove Dr. T. into such gross inconsistencies—but the account given in the three first chapters of Genesis, directly and inevitably lead us to such a conclusion.
Though the sentence,
Indeed, sometimes our author seems to suppose, that God meant the thing denounced in this sentence, as a favour both to Adam and his posterity.  But to his posterity, or mankind in general, who are the main subject, he ever insists, that it was purely intended as a favour. And therefore, one would have thought, the sentence should have been delivered, with manifestations and appearances 185of favour, and not of anger. How could Adam understand it as a promise of great favour, considering the manner and circumstances of the denunciation? How could he think, that God would go about to delude him, by clothing himself with garments of vengeance, using words of displeasure and rebuke, setting forth the heinousness of his crime, attended with cherubim and a flaming sword; when all that he meant was only higher testimonies of favour than he had before in a state of innocence, and to manifest fatherly love and kindness, in promises of great blessings? If this was the case, God’s words to Adam must be understood thus: “Because thou hast done so wickedly, hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it; therefore I will be more kind to thee than I was in thy state of innocence, and do now appoint for thee the following great favours; Cursed be the ground for thy sake,“ &c. And thus Adam must understand what was said, unless any will say, (and God forbid that any should be so blasphemous,) that God clothed himself with appearances of displeasure, to deceive Adam, and make him believe the contrary of what he intended, and lead him to expect a dismal train of evils on his posterity, contrary to all reason and justice, implying the most horribly unrighteous treatment of millions of perfectly innocent creatures. It is certain, there is not the least appearance in what God said, or the manner of it, as Moses gives us the account, of any other, than that God was now testifying displeasure, condemning the subject of the sentence he was pronouncing, as justly exposed to punishment for sin, and for that sin which he mentions.
When God was pronouncing this sentence, Adam doubtless
understood, that God had respect to his posterity, as well as himself;
though God spake wholly in the second person singular, Because thou hast eaten,—In sorrow thou shalt eat,—Unto the dust shalt thou return. But
he had as much reason to understand God as having respect to his
posterity, when he directed his speech to him in like manner in the
threatening, Thou shalt surely die. The
sentence plainly refers to the threatening, and results from it. The threatening says, If thou eat, thou shalt die: the sentence says, Because thou hast eaten thou shalt die. And
Moses, who wrote the account, had no reason to doubt but that the
affair would be thus understood by his readers; for such a way of
speaking was well understood in those days: the history he gives us of
the origin of things, abounds with it. Such a manner of speaking to the
heads of the race, having respect to the progeny, is not only used in
almost every thing that God said to Adam and Eve, but even in what he
said to the very birds and fishes,
But I shall take notice of one or two things further, showing that Adam’s posterity were included in God’s establishment with him, and the threatening denounced for his sin; and that the calamities which come upon them in consequence of his sin, are brought on them as punishments.
This is evident from the curse on the ground; which if it be any curse at all, comes equally on Adam’s posterity with himself. And if it be a curse, then against whomsoever it is designed, and on whomsoever it terminates, it comes as a punishment, and not as a blessing, so far as it comes in consequence of that sentence.
Dr. T. (p. 19.) says, “A curse is
pronounced upon the ground, but no curse upon the woman and the man.”
And (p. 45, 46. S.) he insists, that the ground only was
cursed, and not the man: as though a curse could terminate on lifeless,
senseless earth! To understand this curse otherwise than as terminating
upon man through the ground, would be as senseless as to suppose the
meaning to be, The ground shall be punished and shall be miserable for thy sake.
author interprets the curse on the ground, of its being encumbered with
noxious weeds: but would these weeds have been any curse on the ground,
if there had been no inhabitants, or if the inhabitants had been of
such a nature, that these weeds should not have been noxious, but
useful to them? It is said,
If this part of the sentence was pronounced under no notion of any curse or punishment at all upon mankind, but, on the contrary, as making an alteration for the better, as to them—that instead of the sweet, but tempting, pernicious fruit of paradise, it might produce wholesome fruits, more for the health of the soul; that it might bring forth thorns and thistles, as excellent medicines, to prevent or cure moral distempers, diseases which would issue in eternal death—then it was a blessing on the ground, and not a curse; and it might more properly have been said, “blessed shall the ground be for thy sake.—I will make a happy change in it, that it may be a habitation more fit for a creature so infirm, and so apt to be overcome with temptation, as thou art.”
The event makes it evident, that in pronouncing this curse, God had as much respect to Adam’s posterity, as
to himself. And so it was understood by his pious posterity before the
flood; as appears by what Lamech, the father of Noah, says,
Another thing which argues, that
Adam’s posterity were included in the threatening of death—and that our
first parents understood, when fallen, that the tempter, in persuading
them to eat the forbidden fruit, had aimed at the punishment and ruin
of both them and their posterity, and had procured it—is Adam
immediately giving his wife that new name, Eve or Life, on
the promise or intimation of the disappointment and overthrow of the
tempter in that matter, by her seed. This Adam understood to be by his
procuring life; not only for themselves, but for many of their
posterity; and thereby delivering them from that death and ruin which
the serpent had brought upon them. Those that should be thus delivered,
and obtain life, Adam calls the living. And
because he observed, by what God had said, that deliverance, or life,
was to be by the seed of the woman, he therefore remarks, that she is the mother of all living, and thereupon
gives her a new name, hwx LIFE .
There is a great deal of evidence,
that this is the occasion of Adam giving his wife her new name. This
was her new honour, and the greatest honour, at least in her present
186state, that the Redeemer was to be of her
seed. New names were wont to be given for something that was the
person’s peculiar honour. So it was with regard to the new names of Abraham, Sarah, and Israel. Dr. T. himself observes,
that they who are saved by Christ, are called, (NOT ENGLISH).
Now, as to the consequence which I infer from Adam giving his wife this name, on the intimation which God had given—that Satan should by her seed be overthrown and disappointed, as to his malicious design in tempting the woman—it is, that great numbers of mankind should be saved, whom he calls the living; they should be saved from the effects of this malicious design of the old serpent, and from that ruin which he had brought upon them by tempting their first parents to sin; and so the serpent would be, with respect to them, disappointed and overthrown in his design. But how is any death, or indeed any calamity at all, brought upon their posterity by Satan’s malice in that temptation, if instead of that, all the consequent death and sorrow was the fruit of God’s fatherly love? an instance of his free and sovereign favour? And if multitudes of Eve’s posterity are saved from either spiritual or temporal death, by a Redeemer, one of her seed, how is that any disappointment of Satan’s design, in tempting our first parents? How came he to have any such thing in view, as the death of Adam’s and Eve’s posterity, by tempting them to sin, or any expectation that their death would be the consequence, unless he knew that they were included in the threatening?
Some have objected, against his posterity being included in the threatening delivered to Adam, that the threatening itself was inconsistent with his having any posterity: it being that he should die on the day that he sinned. To this I answer, that the threatening was not inconsistent with his having posterity, on two accounts:
I. Those words, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, according to the use of such like expressions among the Hebrews, do not signify immediate death, or that the execution shall be within twenty-four hours from the commission of the fact; nor did God by those words limit himself as to the time of executing the threatened punishment; but that was still left to God’s pleasure. Such a phrase, according to the idiom of the Hebrew tongue, signifies no more than these two things:
1. A real connexion between the sin and the punishment. So
2. Another thing which seems to be signified by such an expression, is, that Adam should be exposed to death by one transgression,
without waiting to try him the second time. If he eat of that tree, he
should immediately fall under condemnation, though afterwards he might
abstain ever so strictly. In this respect the words are much of the
same force with those words of Solomon to Shimei;
II. If the words had implied, that Adam should die that very day (within twenty-four or twelve hours) or that moment in which he transgressed, yet it will by no means follow, that God obliged himself to execute the punishment in its utmost extent on that day. The sentence was in great part executed immediately; he then dies spiritually;
he lost his innocence and original righteousness, and the favour of
God; a dismal alteration was made in his soul, by the loss of that holy
divine principle, which was in the highest sense the life of the soul.
In this he was truly ruined and undone that very day;
becoming corrupt, miserable, and helpless. And I think it has been
shown, that such a spiritual death was one great thing implied in the
threatening. And the alteration then made in his body and external
state, was the beginning of temporal death. Grievous external calamity
is called by the name of death in Scripture,
And besides all this, Adam was that day undone in a more dreadful sense; he immediately fell under the curse of the law, and condemnation to eternal perdition. In the language of Scripture, he is dead, that is, in a state of condemnation to death; even as our author often explains this language in his exposition upon Romans. In scripture language, he that believes in Christ, immediately receives life. He passes at that time from death to life, and thenceforward (to use the apostle John’s phrase) “has 187 eternal life abiding in him.” But yet, he does not then receive eternal life in its highest completion; he has but the beginning of it; and receives it in a vastly greater degree at death. The proper time for the complete fulness, is not till the day of Judgment. When the angels sinned, their punishment was immediately executed in a degree; but their full punishment is not till the end of the world. And there is nothing in God’s threatening to Adam that bound him to execute his full punishment at once; nor any thing which determines, that he should have no posterity. The constitution which God established and declared, determined, that IF he sinned, and had posterity, he and they should die. But there was no constitution determining the actual being of his posterity in this case; what posterity he should have, how many, or whether any at all. All these things God had reserved in his own power; the law and its sanction intermeddled not with the matter.
It may be proper in this place also to take some notice of that objection of Dr. T. against Adam being supposed to be a federal head for his posterity, that it gives him greater honour than Christ, as it supposes that all his posterity would have had eternal life by his obedience, if he had stood; and so a greater number would have had the benefit of his obedience, than are saved by Christ.  —I think, a very little consideration is sufficient to show, that there is no weight in this objection. For the benefit of Christ’s merit may nevertheless be vastly beyond that which would have been by the obedience of Adam. For those that are saved by Christ, are not merely advanced to happiness by his merits, but saved from the infinitely dreadful effects of Adam’s sin, and many from immense guilt, pollution, and misery, by personal sins. They are also brought to a holy and happy state through infinite obstacles; and exalted to a far greater degree of dignity, felicity, and glory, than would have been due for Adam’s obedience; for aught I know, many thousand times so great. And there is enough in the gospel-dispensation, clearly to manifest the sufficiency of Christ’s merits for such effects in all mankind. And how great the number will be, that shall actually be the subjects of them, or how great a proportion of the whole race, considering the vast success of the gospel that shall be in that future, extraordinary, and glorious season, often spoken of, none can tell. And the honour of these two federal heads arises not so much from what was proposed to each for his trial, as from their success, and the good actually obtained; and also the manner of obtaining. Christ obtains the benefits men have through him by proper merit of condignity, and a true purchase by an equivalent; which would not have been the case with Adam if he had obeyed.
I have now particularly considered the account which Moses gives us, in the beginning of the Bible, of our first parents, and God’s dealings with them; the constitution he established with them, their transgression, and what followed. And on the whole, if we consider the manner in which God apparently speaks to Adam from time to time; and particularly, if we consider how plainly and undeniably his posterity are included in the sentence of death pronounced on him after his fall, founded on the foregoing threatening; and consider the curse denounced on the ground for his sake, for his sorrow, and that of his posterity; and also consider, what is evidently the occasion of his giving his wife the new name of Eve, and his meaning in it—and withal consider apparent fact in constant and universal events, with relation to the state of our first parents and their posterity from that time forward, through all ages of the world—I cannot but think, it must appear to every impartial person, that Moses’s account does, with sufficient evidence, lead all mankind, to whom his account is communicated, to understand, that God, in his constitution with Adam, dealt with him as a public person—as the head of the human species—and had respect to his posterity, as included in him. And it must appear, that this history is given by divine direction, in the beginning of the first written revelation, in order to exhibit to our view the origin of the present sinful, miserable state of mankind, that we might see what that was, which first gave occasion for all those consequent wonderful dispensations of divine mercy and grace towards mankind, which are the great subject of the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament; and that these things are not obscurely and doubtfully pointed forth, but delivered in a plain account of things, which easily and naturally exhibits them to our understandings.
CHAPTER II. Observations on Texts, chiefly of the Old Testament, &c.
OBSERVATIONS ON OTHER PARTS OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, CHIEFLY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, THAT PROVE THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
Original depravity may well be argued, from wickedness being often spoken of in Scripture, as a thing belonging to the race of mankind, and as if it were a property of the species. So in
Wickedness is spoken of in other places in the book of Psalms, as a thing that belongs to men, as of the human race, as sons of men. Thus, in
Agreeable to these places is
To these things agree
what account can be given of these things, on Dr. T.’s scheme? How
strange is it, that we should have such descriptions, all over the
Bible, of man, and the sons of men! Why should man be so continually
spoken of as evil, carnal, perverse, deceitful, and desperately wicked,
if all men are by nature as perfectly innocent, and free from any
propensity to evil, as Adam was the first moment of his creation, all made right, as our author would have us understand
the like import with the texts mentioned are those which represent
wickedness as what properly belongs to the WORLD; and that they who are
otherwise, are saved from the world, and called out of it. As
same thing is shown, when wickedness is often spoken of as being man’s
own, in contradistinction from virtue and holiness. So men’s lusts are
often called their own hearts’ lusts, and their practicing wickedness
is called walking in their own ways, walking in their own counsels, in
the imagination of their own heart, and in the sight of their own eyes,
according to their own devices, &c. These things denote wickedness
to be a quality belonging properly to the
character and nature of mankind in their present state: as, when Christ
would represent that lying is remarkably the character and the very
nature of the devil in his present state, he expresses it thus,
And that wickedness belongs to the very nature of men in their present state, may be argued from those places which speak of mankind as being wicked in their childhood, or from their childhood. So
The same thing is signified in that noted place,
Dr. T. says (p. 124, note), that he “conceives, from the youth,
is a phrase signifying the greatness or long duration of a thing.” But
if by long duration he means any thing else than what is literally
expressed, viz. from the beginning of life, he has no reason to
conceive so, neither has what he offers so much as the shadow of a
reason for his conception. There is no appearance in the words of the
two or three texts he mentions, of their meaning any
thing else than what is most literally signified. And it is certain,
that what he suggests is not the ordinary import of
such a phrase among the Hebrews; but that thereby is meant from the beginning, or the early time of life, or existence; as may be seen in the places following, where the same word in the Hebrew is used, as in the eighth of Genesis.
And it is to be observed, that according to the manner of the Hebrew language, when it is said, such a thing has been from youth, or the first part of existence, the phrase is to be understood as including that first time of existence. So
And as mankind are represented in Scripture, as being of a wicked heart from their youth, so in other places they are spoken of as being thus from the womb.
Very remarkable is that place,
Now let us see the soft, easy, light manner, in which Dr. T. treats this place. (p. 143), ”How much more abominable and filthy is man, in comparison of the divine purity, who drinketh iniquity like water! who is attended with so many sensual appetites, and so apt to indulge them. You see the argument, man in his present weak and fleshly state, cannot be clean before God. Why so? Because he is conceived and born in sin, by reason of Adam’s sin? No such thing. But because, if the purest creatures are not pure, in comparison of God, much less a being subject to so many infirmities as a mortal man. Which is a demonstration to me, not only that Job and his friends did not intend to establish the doctrine we are now examining, but that they were wholly strangers to it.” Thus he endeavors to reconcile this text with his doctrine of the perfect native innocence of mankind; in which we have a notable specimen of his demonstrations, as well as of that great impartiality and fairness in examining and expounding the Scripture, of which he so often makes a profession!
this place we are not only told, how wicked man’s heart is, but also
how men come by such wickedness; even by being of the race of mankind,
by ordinary genetion: What is man, that he should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Our author (p. 141, 142.) represents man being born of a woman, as a periphrasis, to signify man; and that there is no design in the words to give a reason, why man is not clean and
righteous. But the case is most evidently otherwise, if we may interpret the book of Job by itself. It is most plain, that man’s being born of a woman is given as a reason of his not being clean;
And, without doubt, David has respect to this way of derived wickedness of heart, when he says,
Nec tibi diva parens, generis nec dardanus auctor, Perfide: Sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens Caucasus, hyrcanaeque admôrunt ubera tygres.
In which she tells AEneas, that not a goddess was his mother, nor Anchises his father; but that he had been brought forth by a horrid rocky mountain, and nursed at the dugs of tigers, to represent the greatness of his cruelty to her. But how unlike and unparallel is this! Nothing could be more natural, than for a woman overpowered with the passion of love, and distracted with raging jealousy and disappointment, thinking herself treated with brutish perfidy and cruelty, by a lover whose highest fame had been his being the son of a goddess, to aggravate his inhumanity and hard-heartedness with this, that his behavior was not worthy the son of a goddess, nor becoming one whose father was an illustrious prince: and that he acted more as if he had been brought forth by hard unrelenting rocks, and had sucked the dugs of tigers. But what is there in the case of David parallel, or at all in like manner leading him to speak of himself as born in sin, in any such figurative sense? He is not speaking himself, nor any one speaking to him, of any excellent and divine father and mother, of whom he was born: nor is there any appearance of his aggravating his sin, by its being unworthy of his high birth. There is nothing else visible in David’s case to lead him to take notice of his being born in sin, but only his having such experience of the continuance and power of indwelling sin, after so long a time, and so many and great means to engage him to holiness; which showed that sin was inbred, and in his very nature.
Dr. T. often objects to these and other texts, brought by divines to prove original sin, that there is no mention made in them of Adam, nor of his sin. He cries out, Here is not the least mention, or intimation of Adam, or any ill effects of his sin upon us.—Here is not one word, nor the least hint of Adam, or any consequences of his sin, &c. &c.  He says,  “If Job and his friends had known and believed the doctrine of a corrupt nature, derived from Adam’s sin only, they ought in reason and truth to have given this as the true and only reason of the human imperfection and uncleanness they mention.” But these objections and exclamations are made no less impertinently, than frequently. It is no more a proof, that corruption of nature did not come by Adam’s sin, because many times when it is mentioned, his sin is not expressly mentioned as the cause of it; than that death did not come by Adam’s sin, as Dr. T. says it did. For though death, as incident to mankind, is mentioned so often in the Old Testament, and by our Savior in his discourses, yet Adam’s sin is not once expressly mentioned, after the three first chapters of Genesis, any where in all the Old Testament, or the four Evangelists, as the occasion of it.
What Christian has there ever been, that believed the moral corruption of human nature, who ever doubted that it came in the way, of which the apostle speaks, when he says, ”By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin?” Nor indeed have they any more reason to doubt of it, than to doubt of the whole history of our first parents, because Adam’s name is so rarely mentioned, on any occasion in Scripture, after that first account of him, and Eve’s never at all; and because we have no more any express mention of the particular manner, in which mankind were first brought into being, either with respect to the creation of Adam or Eve. It is sufficient, that the abiding, most visible effects of these things, remain in the view of mankind in all ages, and are often spoken of in Scripture; and that the particular manner of their being introduced, is once plainly set forth in the beginning of the Bible, in that history which gives us an account of the origin of all things. And doubtless it was expected, by the great author of the Bible, that the account in the three first chapters of Genesis should be taken as a plain account of the introduction of both natural and moral evil into the world. The history of Adam’s sin, with its circumstances, God’s threatening, the sentence pronounced upon him after his transgression and the immediate consequences, consisting in so vast an alteration in his state—and the state of the world, with respect to all his posterity—most directly and sufficiently lead us to understand the rise of calamity, sin, and death, in this sinful, miserable world.
It is fit we all should know, that it does not become us to tell the Most High, how often he shall particularly explain and give the reason of any doctrine which he teaches, in order to our believing what he says. If he has at all given us evidence that it is a doctrine agreeable to his mind, it becomes us to receive it with full credit and submission; and not sullenly to reject it, because our notions and humours are not suited in the manner, and number of times, of his particularly explaining it. How often is pardon of sins promised in the Old Testament to repenting and returning sinners! How many hundred times is God’s special favour there promised to the sincerely righteous, without any express mention of these benefits being through Christ! Would it therefore become us to say, that inasmuch as our dependence on Christ for these benefits is a doctrine, which, if true, is of such importance, God ought expressly to have mentioned Christ’s merits as the reason and ground of the benefits, if he knew they were the ground of them; and should have plainly declared it sooner, and more frequently, if ever he expected we should believe him, when he did tell us of it? How oft is vengeance and misery threatened in the Old Testament to the wicked, without any clear and express signification of any such thing intended, as that everlasting fire, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, in another world, which Christ so often speaks of as the punishment appointed for all the wicked! Would it now become a Christian, to object and say, that if God really meant any such thing, he ought in reason and truth to have declared it plainly and fully; and not to have been so silent about a matter of such vast importance to all mankind, for four thousand years together?
CHAPTER III. Observations on Texts, chiefly of the New Testament.
OBSERVATIONS ON VARIOUS OTHER PLACES OF SCRIPTURE, PRINCIPALLY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, PROVING THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
SECTION I. Observations on John iii.6.
Those words of Christ, giving a reason to Nicodemus, why we must be born again,
When Christ says,
One thing is particularly observable in that discourse of the apostle—in which he so often uses the term flesh, as opposite to spirit—that he expressly calls it sinful flesh,
Flesh and spirit are opposed to one another in
The apostle John—the same apostle that writes the account of what Christ said to Nicodemus—by the spirit
means the same thing as a new, divine, and holy nature, exerting itself
in a principle of divine love, which is the sum of all christian
And as by (NOT ENGLISH) spirit, is meant a holy nature, so by the epithet (NOT ENGLISH) spiritual, is meant the same as truly virtuous and holy.
And it is evident, that by flesh, as the word is used in the New Testament, and opposed to spirit, when speaking of the qualifications for eternal salvation, is meant— not only what is now vulgarly called the sins of the flesh,
consisting in inordinate appetites of the body, and their indulgence;
but—the whole body of sin, implying those lusts that are most subtle,
and farthest from any relation to the body; such as pride, malice,
envy, &c. When the works of the flesh are enumerated,
Here, if it should be inquired, how
corruption or depravity in general, or the nature of man as corrupt and
sinful, came to be called flesh, and not only that corruption
which consists in inordinate bodily appetites? I think, what the
apostle says in the last cited place, “Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” leads us to the true reason. It is because a corrupt and sinful nature is what properly belongs to mankind, or the race of Adam, as they
are in themselves, and as they are by nature. The word flesh is often used in both the Old and the New Testament to signify mankind
in their present state. To enumerate all the places, would be very
tedious; I shall therefore only mention a few in the New Testament.
All these things confirm what we have supposed to be Christ’s meaning in saying, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” His speech implies, that what is born in the first birth of man, is nothing but man as he is of himself, without anything divine in him; depraved, debased, sinful, ruined man, utterly unfit to enter into the kingdom of God, and incapable of the spiritual divine happiness of that kingdom. But that which is born, in the new birth, of the Spirit of God, is a spiritual principle, a holy and divine nature, meet for the heavenly kingdom. It is no small confirmation of this being the true meaning, that the words understood in this sense, contain the proper and true reason, why a man must be born again, in order to enter into the kingdom of God; the reason given every where in other parts of Scripture for the necessity of a renovation, a change of mind, a new heart, &c. in order to salvation: to give a reason of which to Nicodemus, is plainly Christ’s design in the words which have been insisted on.—Before I proceed, I would observe one thing as a corollary from what has been said.
Corol. If by flesh and
spirit, when spoken of in the New Testament, and opposed to each other,
in discourses on the necessary qualifications for salvation, we are to
understand what has been now supposed, it will not only follow, that
men by nature are corrupt, but wholly corrupt, without any good thing. If by flesh is meant man’s nature, as he receives it in his first birth, then therein dwelleth no good thing; as appears by
But this will be further evident,
if we particularly consider the apostle’s discourse in the latter part
of the second chapter and the beginning of the third. There the apostle
speaks of the natural man, and the spiritual man; where natural and spiritual are opposed just in the same manner as carnal and spiritual often are. In
So that on the whole, there is sufficient reason to understand the apostle, when he speaks of the natural man, in
SECTION II. Observations on Rom. iii. 9-24.
If the Scriptures represent all mankind as wicked in their first state, before they are made partakers of the benefits of Christ’s redemption, then they are wicked by nature: for doubtless men’s first state is their native state, or that in which they come into the world. But the Scriptures do thus represent all mankind.
Before I mention particular texts to this purpose, I would observe, that it alters not the case, as to the argument in hand, whether we suppose these texts speak directly of infants, or only of such as understand something of their duty and state. For if all mankind, as soon as ever they are capable of reflecting, and knowing their own moral state, find themselves wicked, this proves that they are wicked by nature; either born so, or born with an infallible disposition to be wicked as soon as possible, if there be any difference between these; and either of them will prove men to be born exceedingly depraved. I have before proved, that a native propensity to sin certainly follows from many things said of mankind in the Scripture; but what I intend now, is to prove by direct scripture testimony, that all mankind, in their first state, are really of a wicked character.
To this purpose, exceeding full, express, and abundant is that passage of the apostle, in
Here the thing which I would prove, viz. that mankind in their first state, before they are interested in the benefits of Christ’s redemption, are universally wicked, is declared with the utmost possible fullness and precision. So that if here this matter be not set forth plainly, expressly, and fully, it must be because no words can do it, and it is not in the power of language, or any manner of terms and phrases, however contrived and heaped up one upon another, determinately to signify any such thing.
Dr. T. to take off the force of the whole, would have us to understand (p. 104-107.) that these passages quoted from the Psalms, and other parts of the Old Testament, do not speak of all mankind, nor of all the Jews; but only of them of whom they were true. He observes, there were many that were innocent and righteous; though there were also many, a strong party, that were wicked, corrupt, &c. of whom these texts were to be understood. Concerning which I would observe the following things:
1. According to this, the universality of the terms in these places, which the apostle cites from the Old Testament, to prove that all the world, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin, is nothing to his purpose. The apostle uses universal terms in his proposition, and in his conclusion, thatallare under sin, that every mouth is stopped, all the world guilty,—that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified. And he chooses out a number of universal sayings or clauses out of the Old Testament, to confirm this universality; as, There is none righteous; no, not one: they are all gone out of the way; there is none that understandeth, &c. But yet the universal terms found in them have no reference to any such universality, either in the collective, or personal sense; no universality of the nations of the world, or of particular persons in those nations, or in any one nation in the world: ”but only of those of whom they are true!” That is, there is none of them righteous, of whom it is true, that they are not righteous: no, not one; there is none that understand, of whom it is true, that they understand not: they are all gone out of the way, of whom it is true, that they are gone out of the way, &c. Or these expressions are to be understood concerning that strong party in Israel, in David and Solomon’s days, and in the prophets’ days; they are to be understood of them universally. And what is that to the apostle’s purpose? How does such an universality of wickedness—that all were wicked in Israel, who were wicked; or, that there was a particular evil party, all of which were wicked—confirm that universality which the apostle would prove, viz. That all Jews and Gentiles, and the whole world, were wicked, and every mouth stopped, and that no flesh could be justified by their own righteousness.
Here nothing can be said to abate
the nonsense, but this, that the apostle would convince the Jews, that
they were capable of being wicked, as well as other nations;
194and to prove it, he mentions some texts,
which show that there was a wicked party in Israel a thousand years
ago. And as to the universal terms which happened to be in these texts,
the apostle had no respect to them; but his reciting them is as it were
accidental, they happened
to be in some texts which speak of an evil party in Israel, and the
apostle cites them as they are, not because they are any more to his
purpose for the universal terms, which happen to be in them. But let
the reader look on the words of the apostle, and observe the violence
of such a supposition. Particularly let the words of the
2. To suppose, the apostle’s
design in citing these passages, was only to prove to the Jews, that of
old there was a considerable number of their nation that were wicked
men, is to suppose him to have gone about to prove what none of the
Jews denied, or made the least doubt of, even the Pharisees, the most
self-righteous sect of them, who went furthest in glorying in the
distinction of their nation from other nations, as a holy people, knew
it, and owned it; they openly confessed that their forefathers killed the prophets,
3. It would have been impertinent to the apostle’s purpose, even as our author understands his purpose, for him to have gone about to convince the Jews, that there had been a strong party of bad men in the time of David and Solomon, and the prophets, For Dr. T. supposes, that apostle’s aim is to prove the great corruption of both Jews and Gentiles when Christ came into the world. 
In order the more fully to evade the clear and abundant testimonies to the doctrine of original sin, contained in this part of the Holy Scripture, our author says, the apostle is here speaking of bodies of people, of Jews and Gentiles in a collective sense, as two great bodies into which mankind are divided; speaking of them in their collective capacity, and not with respect to particular persons; that the apostle’s design is to prove, that neither of these two great bodies, in their collective sense, can be justified by law, because both were corrupt; and so that no more is implied, than that the generality of both were wicked.  On this I observe,
(1.) That this supposed sense disagrees extremely with the terms and language which the apostle here makes use of. For according to this, we must understand, either,
First, that the apostle means no universality at all, but only the far greater part. But if the words which the apostle uses, do not most fully and determinately signify an universality, no words ever used in the Bible are sufficient to do it. I might challenge any man to produce any one paragraph in the Scripture, from the beginning to the end, where there is such a repetition and accumulation of terms, so strongly, and emphatically, and carefully, to express the most perfect and absolute universality; or any place to be compared to it. What instance is there in the Scripture, or indeed in any other writing, when the meaning is only the much greater part, where this meaning is signified in such a manner, They are all,—They are all,—They are all—together,—every one,—all the world; joined to multiplied negative terms, to show the universality to be without exception; saying, There is no flesh,—there is none,—there is none,—there is none,—there is none, four times over; besides the addition of No, not one,—no, not one,—once and again! Or,
Secondly, if any universality at all be allowed, it is only of the collective bodies spoken of: and these collective bodies but two, as Dr. T. reckons them, viz. the Jewish nation, and the Gentile world; supposing the apostle is here representing each of these parts of mankind as being wicked. But is this the way of men using language, when speaking of but two things, to express themselves in such universal terms, when they mean no more than that the thing affirmed is predicated of both of them? If a man speaking of his two feet as both lame, should say, All my feet are lame—They are all lame—All together are become weak—None of my feet are strong—None of them are sound—No, not one; would not he be thought to be lame in his understanding, as well as his feet? When the apostle says, That every mouth may be stopped, must we suppose, that he speaks only of these two great collective bodies, figuratively ascribing to each of them a mouth, and means that these two mouths are stopped? Besides, according to our author’s own interpretation, the universal terms used in these texts, cited from the Old Testament, have no respect to those two great collective bodies, nor indeed to either of them; but to some in Israel, a particular disaffected party in that one nation, which was made up of wicked men. So that his interpretation is every way absurd and inconsistent.
(2.) If the apostle is speaking only of the wickedness or guilt of great collective bodies, then it will follow, that also the justification he here treats of, is no other than the justification of such collective bodies. For, they are the same of whom he speaks as guilty and wicked, and who cannot be justified by the works of the law, by reason of their being wicked.
Otherwise his argument is wholly disannulled. If the guilt he speaks of
be only of collective bodies, then what he argues from that guilt, must
be only, that collective bodies cannot be justified by the works of the
law, having no respect to the justification of particular persons. And
indeed this is Dr. T.’s declared opinion. He supposes the apostle here,
and in other parts of this epistle, is speaking of men’s justification considered only as in their collective capacity.
But the contrary is most manifest. The 26th and 28th verses of this
third chapter, cannot, without the utmost violence, be understood
otherwise than of the justification of particular persons. “That he
might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.—Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.” So in
And what can be plainer, that in the paragraph we have been upon (
And besides all these things, our author’s interpretation makes the apostle’s argument wholly void another way. The apostle is speaking of a certain subject which cannot be justified by the works of the law; and his argument is, that the same subject is guilty, and is condemned by the law. If he means, that one subject, suppose a collective body or bodies, cannot be justified by the law, because another subject, another collective body, is condemned by the law, it is plain, the argument would be quite vain and impertinent. Yet thus the argument must stand according to Dr. T.’s interpretation. The collective bodies which he supposes are spoken of as wicked, and condemned by the law, considered as in their collective capacity, are those two, the Jewish nation, and the heathen world: but the collective body which he supposes the apostle speaks of as justified without the deeds of the law, is neither of these, but the christian church, or body of believers; which is a new collective body, a new creature, and a new man (according to our author’s understanding of such phrases), which never had any existence before it was justified, and therefore never was wicked or condemned, unless it was with regard to the individuals of which it was constituted; and it does not appear, according to our author’s scheme, that these individuals had before been generally wicked. For according to him, there was a number both among the Jews and Gentiles, that were righteous before. And how does it appear, but that the comparatively few Jews and Gentiles, of which this new-created collective body was constituted, were chiefly of the best of each?
So that in every view, this author’s way of explaining the passage appears vain and absurd. And so clearly and fully has the apostle expressed himself, that it is doubtless impossible to invent any other sense to put upon his words, than that which will imply, that all mankind, even every individual of the whole race, but their Redeemer himself, are in their first original state corrupt and wicked.
Before I leave this passage (
SECTION III. Observations on Rom. v. 6-10. and Eph. ii. 3
Another passage of this apostle,
which shows that all who are made partakers of the benefits of Christ’s
redemption, are in their first state wicked, desperately wicked, is
Dr. T. says, the apostle here speaks of the Gentiles only in their heathen state, in contradistinction to the Jews; and that not of particular persons among the heathen Gentiles, or as to the state they were in personally; but only of the Gentiles collectively taken, or of the miserable state of that great collective body, the heathen world: and that these appellation, sinners, ungodly, enemies, &c. were names by which the apostles in their writings were wont to signify and distinguish the heathen world, in opposition to the Jews; and that in this sense these appellations are to be taken in their epistles, and in this place in particular.  And it is observable, that this way of interpreting these phrases in the apostolic writings is become fashionable with many late writers; whereby they not only evade several clear testimonies to the doctrine of original sin, but make void great part of the New Testament; on which account it deserves the more particular consideration.
It is allowed to have been long common and customary among the Jews, especially the sect of the Pharisees, in 196 their pride, and confidence in their privileges as the peculiar people of God, to exalt themselves exceedingly above other nations, and greatly to despise the Gentiles, calling them by such names as sinners, enemies, dogs, &c. Themselves they accounted, in general (excepting the publicans, and the notoriously profligate), as the friends, the special favourites and children, of God; because they were the children of Abraham, were circumcised, and had the law of Moses, as their peculiar privilege, and as a wall of partition between them and the Gentiles.
But it is very remarkable, that a christian divine, who has studied the New Testament, and the epistle to the Romans in particular, so diligently as Dr. T. has done, should so strongly imagine that the apostles of Jesus Christ countenance and cherish these self-exalting, uncharitable dispositions and notions of the Jews which gave rise to such a custom, so far as to fall in with that custom, and adopt that language of their pride and contempt; and especially that the apostle Paul should do it. It is a most unreasonable imagination on many accounts.
1. The whole gospel dispensation is calculated entirely to overthrow and abolish every thing to which this self-distinguishing, self-exalting language of the Jews was owing. It was calculated wholly to exclude such boasting, and to destroy the pride and self-righteousness which were the causes of it. It was calculated to abolish the enmity, and break down the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles, and of twain, to make one new man, so making peace: to destroy all dispositions in nations and particular persons to despise one another, or to say one to another, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou; and to establish the contrary principles of humility, mutual esteem, honour and love, and universal union, in the most firm and perfect manner.
2. Christ, when on earth, set himself, through the whole course of his ministry, to militate against this pharisaical spirit, practice, and language of the Jews; by which they showed so much contempt of the Gentiles, publicans, and such as were openly lewd and vicious, and thus exalted themselves above them; calling them sinners and enemies, and themselves holy, and God’s children; not allowing the Gentile to be their neighbour, &c. He condemned the Pharisees for not esteeming themselves sinners, as well as the publicans; trusting in themselves that they were righteous, and despising others. He militated against these things in his own treatment of some Gentiles, publicans, and others, whom they called sinners, and in what he said on those occasions. 
He opposed these notions and manners of the Jews in his parables,  and in his instructions to his disciples how to treat the unbelieving Jews;  and in what he says to Nicodemus about the necessity of a new birth, even for the Jews, as well as the unclean Gentiles with regard to their proselytism, which some of the Jews looked upon as a new birth. And in opposition to their notions on their being the children of God, because the children of Abraham, but the Gentiles by nature sinners and children of wrath, he tells them that even they were children of the devil. 
3. Though we should suppose the
apostles not to have been thoroughly brought off from such notions,
manners, and language of the Jews, till after Christ’s ascension; yet
after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, or at
least, after the calling of the Gentiles, begun in the conversion of
Cornelius, they were fully instructed in this matter, and effectually
taught no longer to call the Gentiles unclean, as a note of distinction from the Jews,
4. Of all the apostles, none were more perfectly instructed in this matter, than Paul, and none so abundant in instructing others in it, as this great apostle of the Gentiles. None of the apostles had so much occasion to exert themselves against the forementioned notions and language of the Jews, in opposition to Jewish teachers and judaizing Christians who strove to keep up the separation-wall between Jews and Gentiles, and to exalt the former, and set at nought the latter.
5. This apostle, in his epistle
to the Romans, above all his other writings, exerts himself in a most
elaborate manner, and with his utmost skill and power, to bring the
Jewish Christians off from every thing of this kind. He endeavors by
all means that there might no longer be in them any remains of these
old notions, in which they had been educated, of such a great
distinction between Jews and Gentiles, as were expressed in the names
they used to distinguish them by; the Jews, holy children of Abraham, friends and children of God; but the Gentiles, sinners, unclean, enemies, and the like. He makes it almost his whole business, from the beginning of the epistle,
One reason why the Jews looked on themselves better than the Gentiles, and called themselves holy, and the Gentiles sinners, was, that they had the law of Moses. They made their boast of the law. But the apostle shows them, that this was so far from making them better, that it condemned them, and was an occasion of their being sinners, in a higher degree, and more aggravated manner, and more effectually and dreadfully dead in sin. 
It cannot be justly objected
here, that this apostle did, in fact, use this language, and call the
gentiles sinners, in contradistinction to the Jews, in what he said to
6. The very words of the apostle in this place, show plainly, that he uses the term sinners, not as signifying Gentiles, in opposition to Jews, but as denoting the morally evil, in opposition to such as are righteous or good. This latter distinction between sinners and righteous is here expressed in plain terms. “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die; but God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  By righteous men are doubtless meant the same that are meant by such a phrase, throughout this apostle’s writings, throughout the New Testament, and throughout the Bible. Will anyone pretend, that by the righteous man, for whom men would scarcely die, and by the good man, for whom perhaps some might even dare to die, is meant a Jew? Dr. T. himself does not explain it so, in his exposition of this epistle; and therefore is not very consistent with himself, in supposing, that in the other part of the distinction the apostle means Gentiles, as distinguished from the Jews. The apostle himself had been labouring abundantly, in the preceding part of the epistle, to prove, that the Jews were sinners in opposition to righteous; that all had sinned, that all were under sin, and therefore could not be justified, could not be accepted as righteous, by their own righteousness.
7. Another thing which makes it evident that the apostle, when he speaks in this place of the sinners and enemies for whom Christ died, does not mean only the Gentiles, is, that he includes himself among them, saying, while we were sinners, and when we were enemies.
Our author from time to time says, the apostle, though he speaks only of the Gentiles in their heathen state, yet puts himself with them, because he was the apostle of the Gentiles.
But this is very unreasonable. There is no more sense in it, than there
would be in a father ranking himself among his children, when speaking
to his children of the benefits they have by being begotten by himself;
and saying, We children. Or in a physician ranking himself
with his patients, when talking to them of their diseases and cure; saying, We sick folks. Paul being the apostle of the Gentiles
to save them from their heathenism, is so far from being a reason for
him to reckon himself among the heathen, that on the contrary, it is
the very thing that would render it in a peculiar manner unnatural and
absurd for him so to do. Because, as the apostle of the Gentiles,
he appears as their healer and deliverer from heathenism; and therefore
in that capacity, in a peculiar manner, appears in his distinction from
the heathen, and in opposition to the state of heathenism. For it is by
the most opposite qualities only, that he is fitted to be an apostle of
the heathen, and recoverer from heathenism. As the clear light of the
sun is what makes it a proper restorative from darkness; and,
therefore, the sun being spoken of as such a remedy, none would suppose
to be a good reason why it should be ranked among dark things. Besides,
the apostle, in this epistle, expressly ranks himself with the Jews when he speaks of them as distinguished from the Gentiles; as in
It cannot justly be alleged in opposition to this, that the apostle Peter puts himself with the heathen,
If a minister in some congregation in England, speaking in a sermon of the sins of the nation, being himself of the nation should say, ”We have greatly corrupted ourselves, and provoked God by our deism, blasphemy, profane swearing, lasciviousness, venality,” &c. speaking in the first person plural, though he himself never had been a deist, and perhaps none of his hearers, and they might also have been generally free from other sins he mentioned; yet there would be nothing unnatural in his thus expressing himself. But it would be quite a different thing, if one part of the British dominions, suppose our king’s American dominions, had universally apostatized from Christianity to deism, and had long been in such a state, and if one who had been born and brought up in England among Christians, the country being universally Christian, should be sent among them to show them the folly and great evil of deism, and convert them to Christianity; and this missionary, when making a distinction between English Christians, and these deists, should rank himself with the latter, and say, WE American deists, WE foolish blind infidels, &c. This indeed would be very unnatural and absurd.
Another passage of the apostle, to the like purpose with that which we have been considering in the
With respect to those words (NOT ENGLISH ) We were by nature children of wrath, Dr. T. Says, p. 112-114.) “The apostle means no more by this, than truly or really children of wrath;
using a metaphorical expression, borrowed from the word that is used to
signify a true and genuine child of a family, in distinction from one
that is a child only by adoption.” In which it is owned, that the
proper sense of the phrase is, being a child by nature, in the same sense as a child by birth or natural generation; but only he supposes, that here the word is used metaphorically. The instance he produces as parallel, to confirm his supposed metaphorical sense of the phrase, as meaning only truly, really, or properly children of wrath, viz. the apostle Paul’s calling Timothy his own son in faith, (NOT ENGLISH ) is so far from confirming his sense, that it is rather directly
against it. For doubtless the apostle uses the word here (NOT ENGLISH) in its original signification, meaning his begotten son; NOT ENGLISH being the adjective from NOT ENGLISH, offspring, or the verb, NOT ENGLISH to beget; as much as to say, Timothy my begotten son in the faith.
For as there are two ways of being begotten, one natural, and the other
spiritual; the first generation, and regeneration; so the apostle
expressly signifies which of these he means in this place, Timothy my begotten son IN THE FAITH, in the same manner as he says to the Corinthians,
Another thing which our author alleges to evade the force of this, is, that the word rendered nature, sometimes signifies habit contracted by custom, or
an acquired nature. But this is not its proper meaning. And it is
plain, the word in its common use, in the New Testament, signifies what
we properly express in English by the word nature. There is but one place where there can be the least pretext for supposing it to be used otherwise;
and that is
It is particularly unnatural and unreasonable, to understand the phrase, (NOT ENGLISH
) in this place, any otherwise than in the proper sense, on the
following accounts. 1. It may be observed, that both the words, NOT ENGLISH and NOT ENGLISH , in their original signification, have reference to birth or generation. So the word NOT ENGLISH , from NOT ENGLISH , which signifies to beget or bring forth young, or to bud forth, as a plant,
that brings forth young buds and branches. And so the word NOT ENGLISH comes from NOT ENGLISH
, which signifies to bring forth children.—2. As though the apostle
took care by the word used here, to signify what we are by birth, he
changes the word he used before for children. In the preceding verse he
used NOT ENGLISH, speaking of the children of disobedience; but here NOT ENGLISH , which is a word derived, as observed, from NOT ENGLISH , to bring forth
a child, and more properly signifies a begotten or born child.—3. It is natural to suppose that the apostle here speaks in opposition to the pride of some, especially the Jews (for the church in Ephesus was made up partly of Jews, as well as the church in Rome), who exalted themselves in the privileges they had by birth, because they were born the children of Abraham, and were Jews by nature, NOT ENGLISH , as the phrase is,
If we take these words with the context, the whole abundantly proves, that by nature we are totally corrupt,
without any good thing in us. For if we allow the plain scope of the
place, without attempting to hide it by doing extreme violence to the
apostle’s words, the design here is strongly to establish this point;
that what Christians have that is good in them, or in their state, is in no part of it naturally in themselves, or from themselves, but is
wholly from divine grace, all the gift of God, and his workmanship, the effect of his power, his free and wonderful love. None of our good works are primarily from ourselves, but with respect to them all, we are God’s workmanship, created unto good works, as it were out of nothing. Not so much as faith itself, the first principle of good works in Christians, is of themselves, but that is the gift of God. Therefore the apostle compares the work of
God, in forming Christians to true virtue and holiness, not only to a new creation, but a resurrection, or raising from the dead.
Dr. T. here again insists, that
the apostle speaks only of the Gentiles in their heathen state, when he
speaks of those that were dead in sin, and by nature children of wrath; and that though he seems to include himself among those, saying, WE were by nature children of wrath, WE were dead in sins; yet he only puts himself among them because he was the apostle of the Gentiles.
The gross absurdity of this may appear from what was said before. But
besides the things which have been already observed, there are some
things which make it peculiarly unreasonable to understand it so here.
It is true, the greater part of the church of Ephesus had been heathens, and therefore the apostle often has reference to their heathen state, in this epistle. But the words in
Besides, if the apostle chooses
to put himself among the Gentiles, because he was the apostle of the
Gentiles, I would ask, why does he not do so in the 11th verse of the
same chapter (
Though I am far from thinking our author’s exposition of the
CHAPTER IV. Containing observations on Rom. v. 12. &c.
CONTAINING OBSERVATIONS ON ROM. V. 12, TO THE END.
SECTION I. Remarks on Dr. Taylor's way of explaining this text.
Remarks on Dr. T.’s way of explaining this text.
The following things are worthy of notice, concerning our author’s exposition of this remarkable passage.
I. He greatly insists, that by death
in this place no more is meant, than that death which we all die, when
this present life is extinguished, and the body returns to the dust.
That no more is meant in
But had our author been more consistent with himself, in laying it down as certain and infallible, that because the apostle has a special respect to temporal death, in ”Death reigned from Adam to Moses,”
therefore he means no more in the several consequent parts of this
passage, yet he is doubtless too confident and positive in this matter.
This is no more evident, clear, and infallible, than that Christ meant by perishing—in
The truth of the case, with respect to what the apostle here intends by the word death, is this, viz. The
whole of that death which he, and the Scripture everywhere, speaks of
as the proper wages and punishment of sin, including death temporal, spiritual, and eternal;
though in some parts of this discourse he has a more special respect to
one part of this whole, in others to another, as his argument leads
him; without any more variation than is quite common in the same
discourse. That life, which the Scripture speaks of as the reward of
righteousness, is a whole containing several parts, viz.
The life of the body, union of soul and body, and the most perfect
sensibility, activity, and felicity of both, which is the chief thing.
In like manner the death, which the Scripture speaks of as the
punishment of sin, is a whole including the death of the body and the
death of the soul, and the eternal, sensible, perfect destruction and
misery of both. It is this latter whole, that the apostle speaks of by
the name of death in this discourse, in
II. Dr. T.’s explanation of this passage makes wholly insignificant those first words, By one man sin entered into the world, and leaves this proposition without any sense at all. The apostle had been largely and elabourately representing, how the whole world was full of sin, both among Jews and Gentiles, and all exposed to death and condemnation. It is plain, that in these words he would tell us how this came to pass, namely, that the sorrowful event came by one man, even the first man. That the world was full of sin, and full of death, were two great and notorious facts, deeply affecting the interests of mankind; and they seemed very wonderful facts, drawing the attention of the more thinking part of mankind every where, who often asked this question. Whence comes evil, moral and natural evil? It is manifest, the apostle here means to tell us, how these came into the world, and came to prevail in it as they do. But all that is meant, according to Dr. T.’s interpretation, is, ”He began transgression“.  As if all that the apostle meant, was, to tell us who happened to sin first; not how such a malady came upon the world, or how anyone in the world, besides Adam himself, came by such a distemper. The words of the apostle, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” show the design to be, to tell us how these evils came, as affecting the state of the world; and not only as reaching one man in the world. If this were not plain enough in itself, the words immediately following demonstrate it; “And so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” By sin being in the world, the apostle does not mean being in the world only in that one instance of Adam’s first transgression, but being abroad in the world, among the inhabitants of the earth, in a wide extent, and continued series of wickedness; as is plain in the first words of the next verse, “For until the law, sin was in the world.” And therefore when he gives us an account how it came to be in the world, or, which is the same thing, how it entered into the world, he does not mean only coming in one instance.
If the case were as Dr. T. represents, that the sin of Adam, either in its pollution or punishment, reached none but himself, any more than the sin of any other man, it would be no more proper to say, that by one man sin entered into the world, than if—were it inquired, how mankind came into America, and there had anciently been a ship of the Phoenicians wrecked at sea, and a single man of the crew was driven on this continent, and here died as soon as he reached the shore—it should be said, By that one man mankind came into America.
Besides, it is not true, that by one man, or by Adam, sin entered into the world, in Dr. T.’s sense: for it was not he but Eve that began transgression. By one man Dr. T. understands Adam, as the figure of Christ. And it is plain, that it was for his transgression, and not Eve’s, that the sentence of death was pronounced on mankind after the fall,
III. In like manner this author
brings to nothing the sense of the causal particles, in such phrases as
these, so often repeated,
IV. It is altogether inconsistent
with the apostle’s scope, and the import of what he says, to suppose
that the death of which he here speaks, as coming on mankind by Adam’s
sin, comes not as a punishment, but only as a favour. It quite makes void the opposition, in which the apostle sets the consequences of Adam’s sin, and the consequences of the grace and righteousness of Christ. They are set in opposition to each other, as
opposite effects, arising from opposite causes, throughout the paragraph: one, as the just consequence of an offence; the other, a free gift,
But to return, it is plain, that death by Adam, and life and happiness by Christ, are here set in opposition: the latter being spoken of as good, the other as evil; one as the effect of righteousness, the other of an offence; one of the fruit of obedience, the other of disobedience; one as the fruit of God’s favour, in consequence of what was pleasing and acceptable to him, but the other the fruit of his displeasure, in consequence of what was displeasing and hateful to him; the latter coming by justification, the former by the condemnation of the subject. But according to the scheme of our author, there can be no opposition in any of these respects: the death here spoken of, neither comes as an evil, nor from an evil cause; either an evil efficient cause, or procuring cause, nor at all as any testimony of God’s displeasure to the subject, but as properly the effect of his favour, no less than that which is spoken of as coming by Christ; yea, as much as an act of justification of the subject; as he understands and explains the word justification; for both are made by a grant of favour, and are instances of mercy and goodness. And he abundantly insists upon it, that “any grant of favour, any instance of mercy and goodness, whereby God delivers and exempts from any kind of danger, suffering, or calamity, or confers any favour, blessing, or privilege, is called justification in the scripture-sense and use of the word. 
Moreover, our author makes void the
grand and fundamental opposition—to illustrate which is the chief scope
of this whole passage—between the first and second Adam; in the death that comes by one, and the life and happiness by the other. For, according to his doctrine, both come by Christ the second Adam; both by his grace, righteousness, and obedience: the death to which God sentenced mankind (
V. Our author’s own doctrine entirely makes void what he supposes to be the apostle’s argument, in
What he supposes the apostle would prove here, is, that the mortality of mankind comes only by Adam’s sin, and not by men’s personal sins, because there was no law threatening death to Adam’s posterity for personal sins, before the law of Moses; but death, or the mortality of Adam’s posterity, took place many ages before the law was given; therefore death could not be by any law threatening death for personal sins, and consequently could be by nothing but Adam’s sin.  On this I would observe,
1. That which he supposes the apostle to take for a truth in this argument, viz. That there was no law of God in being, by which men were exposed to death for personal sin, during the time from Adam to Moses, is neither true, nor agreeable to this apostle’s own doctrine.
First, The assertion is not true. For the law of nature, written in men’s hearts, was then in being, and was a law by which men were exposed to death for personal sin.
That there was a divine establishment, fixing the death and destruction
of the sinner as the consequence of personal sin, which was well known
before the giving of the law by Moses, is plain by many passages in the
book of Job, as fully and clearly implying a
connexion between such sin and such a punishment, as any passage in the law of Moses: such as that in
Secondly. To suppose that there is no law in being, by which men are exposed to death for personal sin, when a revealed law of God is not in being, is contrary to our apostle’s own doctrine in this epistle.
So that in our author’s way of
explaining the passage before us, the grand argument which the apostle
insists upon here to prove his main point, viz. that death does not come by men’s personal sin, but by Adam’s sin, because it came before the law was given, that threatened death for personal sin; I say, this argument which Dr T. supposes so clear and strong,
is brought to nothing more then a mere shadow without substance; the
very foundation of the argument having no truth. To say, there was no
such law actually expressed in any standing revelation, would be mere
trifling. For it no more appears, that God would not bring temporal death for personal sins without a standing revealed law threatening it, than that he would not bring eternal death before there was a revealed law threatening that: which yet wicked men that
lived in Noah’s time, were exposed to, as appears by
2. If from Adam to Moses there had been no law in being, of any kind, revealed or natural, by which men could be properly exposed to temporal death for personal sin, yet the mention of Moses law would have been wholly impertinent, and of no signification in the argument, according to our author. He supposes that what the apostle would prove, is, that temporal death comes by Adam; and not by any law threatening such a punishment for personal sin; because this death prevailed before the law of Moses was in being, which is the only law threatening death for personal sin. And yet he himself supposes, that the law of Moses, when it was in being, threatened no such death for personal sin. For he abundantly asserts, that the death which the law of Moses threatened for personal sin, was eternal death, as has been already noted: and he says in express terms, that eternal death is of a nature widely different from the death we now die;||  as was also observed before.
How impertinently therefore does Dr. T- make an inspired writer argue, when, according to him, the apostle would prove, that this kind of death did not come by any law threatening this kind of death, because it came before the existence of a law threatening another kind of death, of a nature widely different! How is it to the apostle’s purpose, to fix on that period, the time of giving Moses’s law, as if that had been the period wherein men began to be threatened with this punishment for their personal sins, when in truth it was no such thing? And therefore it was no more to this purpose to fix on that period, from Adam to Moses, than from Adam to David, or any other period whatsoever. Dr. T. holds, that even now, since the law of Moses has been given, the mortality of mankind, or the death we now die, does not come by that law; but that it always comes only by Adam.  And if it never comes by that law, we may be sure it never was threatened in that law.
3. If we should allow the argument in Dr. T.‘s sense of it, to prove that death does not come by personal sin, yet it will be wholly without force to prove the main point, even that it must come by Adam’s sin: for it might come by God’s sovereign and gracious pleasure; as innumerable other divine benefits do. If it be ordered, agreeable to our author’s supposition, not as a punishment, nor as a calamity, but only as a favour, what necessity of any settled constitution, or revealed sentence, in order to bestow such a favour, more than other favours; and particularly more than that great benefit, which he says entered into the world by the sin of the antediluvians, the shortening men’s lives so much after the flood? Thus the apostle’s arguing, by Dr. T.‘s explanation of it, is turned into mere trifling, a vain and impertinent use of words, without any real force or significance.
VI. The apostle here speaks of that great benefit which we have by Christ, as the antitype of Adam, under the notion of the fruit of grace. I do not mean only that superabounding of grace wherein the benefit we have by Christ goes beyond the damage sustained by Adam; but that benefit, with regard to which Adam was the figure of him that was to come, and which is as it were the counterpart of the suffering by Adam, and which repairs
the loss we have by him. This is here spoken of as the fruit of the free grace of God; (as appears by
But it follows from his doctrine, that there is no grace at all in this benefit, and it is no more than a mere act of justice, being only a removing of what mankind suffer, being innocent. Death, as it commonly comes on mankind, and even on infants, (as has been observed,) is an extreme, positive calamity; to bring which on the perfectly innocent, unremedied, and without any thing to countervail it, we are sufficiently taught, is not consistent with the righteousness of the judge of all the earth. What grace therefore, worthy of being so celebrated, would there be in affording remedy and relief, after there had been brought on 203 innocent mankind that which is (as Dr. T. himself represents  ) the dreadful and universal destruction of their nature; being a striking demonstration how infinitely hateful sin is to God! What grace in delivering from such shocking ruin, them who did not deserve the least calamity! Our author says, “We could not justly lose communion with God by Adam’s sin.”  If so, then we could not justly lose our lives, and be annihilated, after a course of extreme pains and agonies of body and mind, without any restoration; which would be an eternal loss of communion with God, and all other good, besides the positive suffering. The apostle, throughout this passage, represents the death which is the consequence of Adam’s transgression, as coming in a way of judgment and condemnation for sin; but deliverance and life through Christ, as by grace, and the free gift of God. Whereas, on the contrary, by Dr. T.‘s scheme, the death that comes by Adam, comes by grace, great grace; it being a great benefit, ordered in fatherly love and kindness, and on the basis of a covenant of grace: but in the deliverance and restoration by Christ, there is no grace at all. So things are turned topsy-turvy, the apostle’s scope and scheme entirely inverted and confounded.
VII. Dr. T. explains the words, judgment, condemnation, justification, and righteousness, as used in this place in a very unreasonable manner.
I will first consider the sense he puts upon the two former, judgment and condemnation. He often calls this condemnation a judicial act, and a sentence of condemnation. But, according to his scheme, it is a judicial sentence of condemnation passed upon them who are perfectly innocent—and viewed by the judge, even in passing the condemnatory sentence, as having no guilt of sin, or any fault at all chargeable upon them—and a judicial proceeding, passing sentence arbitrarily, without any law or rule of right before established. For there was no preceding law threatening death, that he or any one else ever pretended to have been established, but only this, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shall surely die.” And concerning this he insists, that there is not a word said in it of Adam’s posterity. So that the condemnation spoken of, is a sentence of condemnation to death, for, or in consequence of, the sin of Adam, without any law by which that sin could be imputed to bring any such consequence; contrary to the apostle’s plain scope. And not only so, but, over and above all this, it is a judicial sentence of condemnation to that which is no calamity, nor is considered as such in the sentence; but a condemnation to a great favour!
The apostle uses the words judgment and condemnation in
other places; they are no strange and unusual terms with him: but never
are they used by him in this sense, or any like it; nor are they ever
used thus any where else in the New Testament. This apostle, in this
epistle to the Romans, often speaks of condemnation, using the same or similar terms and phrases as here, but never in the above said sense.
This will be plain to every one who casts his eye on those places. And
if we look into the former part of this chapter, the apostle’s
discourse makes it evident, that he is speaking of a condemnation,
which is no testimony of favor to the innocent; but of God’s displeasure towards those to whom he is not reconciled, but looks on as offenders and enemies, and holds as the objects of his wrath, from which we are delivered by Christ. (See
And even viewing this discourse itself, in the very paragraph we are upon, if we may judge any thing by language, there is every thing to lead us to suppose, that the apostle uses words here, as he does elsewhere, properly, and as implying a supposition of sin, chargeable on the subject, and exposing to punishment. He speaks of condemnation as what comes by sin, a condemnation to death, which seems to be a most terrible evil, and capital punishment, even in what is temporal and visible: and this in the way of judgment and execution of justice, in opposition to grace or favour, and gift, or a benefit coming by favour. And sin, offence, transgression, and disobedience are, over and over again, spoken of as the ground of the condemnation, and of the capital suffering, for ten verses successively; that is, in every verse in the whole paragraph.
The words, justification and righteousness, are explained by Dr. T. in a manner no less unreasonable. He understands justification, in
And if we look into the former part of this very chapter, we shall find justification spoken
of just in the same sense as in the rest of the epistle; which is also
supposed by our author in his exposition. It is still justification by faith, justification of them who had been sinners, justification attended with reconciliation, justification peculiar to them who had the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. The
apostle’s foregoing discourse on justification by grace through
faith—and what he had so greatly insisted on as the evidence of the
truth of this doctrine, even the universal sinfulness of mankind in
their original state—is plainly what introduces this discourse in the
latter part of this
And as to the universal expression used in the
This abounding of grace our author
explains thus; “a rich overplus of grace, in erecting a new
dispensation, furnished with a glorious fund of light, means, and
motives,” (p. 44.) But will any pretend, that all mankind have actually
been partakers of this new fund of light, &c. How were the many
millions of Indians, on the American side of the globe, partakers of it, before the Europeans came hither? Yea, Dr. T. himself supposes, that it
is only free for all that are willing to accept of it.
The agreement between Adam as the type or figure of him that was to come, and Christ as
the anti-type, appears full and clear, if we suppose that all who are
in christ (to use the common scripture phrase) have the benefit of his
obedience, even as all who are in adam have the sorrowful fruit of his
disobedience. The Scripture speaks of believers as the seed or
posterity of Christ. (
Dr. T. insists much on
1. There is no evidence, that the resurrection there spoken of, relates both to the just and unjust;
but abundant evidence of the contrary. The resurrection of the wicked
is seldom mentioned in the New Testament, and rarely included in the
meaning of the word; it being esteemed not worthy to be called a rising
to life, being only for a great increase of the misery and darkness of
eternal death: and therefore by the resurrection is most
commonly meant a rising to life and happiness.
The saints are called the children of the resurrection, as Dr. T. observes in his note on
2. There is no evidence, that the benefit by the second Adam, spoken of in
This notion, as if the justification, righteousness, and life spoken of in
VIII. In a peculiar manner is there an unreasonable violence used in our author’s explanation of the words sinners and sinned, in the paragraph before us. He says, “These words, By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, mean
neither more nor less, than that by one man’s disobedience, the many
were made subject to death, by the judicial act of God.” 
And he says in the same place, “By death, most certainly, is meant no
other than the death and mortality common to all mankind.” And those
1. The main thing, by which he justifies such interpretations, is, that sin, in various instances, is used for suffering, in the Old Testament.
To which I reply; though it be true, that the original word (NOT ENGLISH) signifies both sin, and a sin-offering—and though this, and some other Hebrew words
which signify sin, iniquity, and wickedness, are sometimes put for the
effect or punishment of iniquity, by a metonymy of the cause for the
effect—yet it does not appear, that these words are ever used for
suffering, where that suffering is not a punishment, or a fruit of God’s anger
for sin. And therefore none of the instances he mentions, come up to his purpose. When Lot is commanded to leave Sodom, that he might not be consumed in the iniquity of the city, meaning in that fire which was the effect and punishment of the iniquity of the city; this is quite another thing,
than if that fire came on the city in general, as no punishment at all,
nor as any fruit of a charge of iniquity, but as a token of God’s favour to the
inhabitants. For according to Dr. T. the death of mankind is introduced only as a benefit, from
a covenant of grace. And especially is this quite another thing, than
if, in the expression used, the iniquity had been ascribed to Lot; and God, instead of saying, Lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city, had said, Lest thou be consumed in thine iniquity, or, Lest thou sin, or be made a sinner. Whereas the expression is such, as expressly
removes the iniquity spoken of from Lot, and fixes it on the city. The place cited by our author in
2. If there had been any thing like such an use of the words sin and sinner, as our author supposes, in the Old Testament, it is evident that such an use of them is quite alien from the language of the New Testament. Where can an instance be produced of any thing like it, in any one place, besides what is pretended in this? and particularly in any of this apostle’s writings? We have enough of his writings, by which to learn his way of speaking about sin, condemnation, punishment, death, and suffering. He wrote much more of the New Testament than any other person. He very often has occasion to speak of condemnation: but where does he express it by such a phrase as being made sinners? Especially how far is he elsewhere from using such a phrase, to signify being condemned without guilt, or any imputation or supposition of guilt? Vastly more still is it remote from his language, so to use the verb sin, and to say, man sinneth, or has sinned, though hereby meaning nothing more nor less, than that he, by a judicial act, is condemned, according to a dispensation of grace, to receive a great favour! He abundantly uses the words sin and sinner; his writings are full of such terms; but where else does he use them in such a sense? He has much occasion in his epistles to speak of death, temporal and eternal; to speak of suffering of all kinds, in this world, and the world to come: but where does he call these things sin? or denominate innocent men sinners, meaning, that they are brought into a state of suffering? If the apostle, because he was a Jew, was so addicted to the Hebrew idiom, as thus in one paragraph to repeat this particular Hebraism, which, at most, is comparatively rare even in the Old Testament; is it not strange, that never any thing like it should appear any where else in his writings? and especially, that he should never fall into such a way of speaking in his epistle to the Hebrews, written to Jews only, who were most used to the Hebrew idiom? And why does Christ never use such language in any of his speeches, though he was born and brought up among the Jews, and delivered almost all his speeches to Jews only? And why do none of the other New-Testament writers ever use it, who were all born and educated Jews, (excepting perhaps Luke,) and some of them wrote especially for the benefit of the Jews?
It is worthy to be observed, what liberty is taken and boldness is used with this apostle. Such words as NOT ENGLISH. NOT ENGLISH , are abundantly used by him elsewhere in this and other epistles, when speaking, as here, of Christ’s redemption and atonement, the general sinfulness of mankind, the condemnation of sinners, the justification by Christ, death as the consequence of sin, and restoration to life by Christ; yet no where are any of these words used, but in a sense very remote from what is supposed by Dr. T. however, in this place, it seems, these terms must have a distinguished singular sense annexed to them! A new language must be coined for the apostle, to which he is evidently quite unused, for the sake of evading this clear, precise, and abundant testimony of his, to the doctrine of original sin.
3. To put such a sense on the word sin, in this place, is not only to make the apostle greatly disagree with himself in the language he uses every where else, but also in this very passage. He often here uses the word sin, and other words plainly of the same import, such as transgression, disobedience, offence. Nothing can be more evident, than that these are used as several names of the same
thing; for they are used
interchangeably, and put one for another. And these words are used no less than seventeen times in this one paragraph. Perhaps we shall find no place in the whole Bible, in which the word sin, and other words plainly synonymous, are used so often in so little compass: and in all these instances, in the proper sense, as signifying moral evil, and even so understood by Dr. T. himself, (as appears by his own exposition,) but only in these two places, (
Here it is very remarkable, how the gentleman who so greatly insisted upon it, that the word death must needs be understood in the same sense throughout this paragraph; yea, that it is evidently, clearly, and infallibly so, inasmuch as the apostle is still discoursing on the same subject; yet can, without the least difficulty, suppose the word sin, to be used so differently in the very same passage, wherein the apostle is
discoursing on the same thing. Let us take that one instance in
But indeed we need go no further than
4. Though we should omit the consideration of the manner in which the apostle uses the words, sin, sinned, &c. in other places, and in other parts of this discourse, yet Dr. T.‘s interpretation of them would be very absurd.
The case stands thus: according to his exposition, we are said to have sinned by an active verb, as though we had actively sinned; yet this is not spoken truly and properly, but it is put figuratively for our becoming sinners passively, our being made or constituted sinners. Yet again, not that we do truly become sinners passively, or are really made sinners, by any thing that God does; this also is only a figurative or tropical representation; and the meaning is only, we are condemned, and treated as if we were sinners. Not indeed that we are properly condemned, for God never truly condemns the innocent; but this also is only a figurative representation of the thing. It is but as it were condemning; because it is appointing to death, a terrible evil, as if it were a punishment. But then, in reality, here is no appointment to a terrible evil, or any evil at all; but truly to a benefit, a great benefit; and so in representing death as a punishment, another figure is used, and an exceeding bold one; for, as we are appointed to it, it is so far from being an evil or punishment, that it is really a favour, and that of the highest nature, appointed by mere grace and love, though it seems to be a calamity.
Thus we have tropes and figures multiplied, one upon another; and all in that one word, sinned; according to the manner, as it is supposed, in which the apostle uses it. We have a figurative representation, not of a reality, but of a figurative representation. Neither is this a representation of a reality, but of another thing that still is but a figurative representation of something else: yea, even this something else is still but a figure, and one that is very harsh and far-fetched. So that here we have a figure to represent a figure, even a figure of a figure, representing some very remote figure, which most obscurely represents the thing intended; if the most terrible evil can indeed be said at all to represent the contrary good of the highest kind. And now, what cannot be made of any place of Scripture, in such a way as this? And is there any hope of ever deciding any controversy by the Scripture, in the way of using such a licence in order to force it to a compliance with our own schemes? If the apostle indeed uses language after so strange a manner in this place, it is perhaps such an instance, as not only there is not the like in all the Bible besides, but perhaps in no writing whatsoever. And this, not in any parabolical, visionary, or prophetic description, in which difficult and obscure representations are wont to be made; nor in a dramatic or poetical representation, in which a great licence is often taken, and bold figures are commonly to be expected. But it is in a familiar letter, wherein the apostle is delivering gospel-instruction, as a minister of the New Testament: and wherein, as he professes, he delivers divine truth without the vail of ancient figures and similitudes, and uses great plainness of speech. And in a discourse that is wholly didactic, narrative, and argumentative; evidently setting himself to explain the doctrine he is upon, in the reason and nature of it, with a great variety of expressions, turning it as it were on every side, to make his meaning plain, and to fix in his readers the exact notion of what he intends. Dr. T. himself observes,  “This apostle takes great care to guard and explain every part of his subject: and I may venture to say, he has left no part of it unexplained or unguarded. Never was an author more exact and cautious in this than he. Sometimes he writes notes on a sentence liable to exception, and wanting explanation.” Now I think, this care and exactness of the apostle no where appears more than in the place we are upon. Nay, I scarcely know another instance equal to this, of the apostle’s care to be well understood, by being very particular, explicit, and precise, setting the matter forth in every light, going over and over again with his doctrine, clearly to exhibit, and fully to settle and determine the thing at which he aims.
SECTION II. The true scope of Rom. v. 12, &c.207
Some observations on the connexions, scope, and sense of this remarkable paragraph,
The connexion of this remarkable paragraph with the foregoing discourse in this epistle, is not obscure and difficult, nor to be sought for at a distance. It may be plainly seen, only by a general glance on what goes before, from the beginning of the epistle: and indeed what is said immediately before in the same chapter, leads directly to it. The apostle in the preceding part of this epistle had largely treated of the sinfulness and misery of all mankind, Jews as well as Gentiles. He had particularly spoken of the depravity and ruin of mankind in their natural state, in the foregoing part of this chapter; representing them as being sinners, ungodly, enemies, exposed to divine wrath, and without strength. This naturally leads him to observe, how this so great and deplorable an event came to pass; how this universal sin and ruin came into the world. And with regard to the Jews in particular, though they might allow the doctrine of original sin in profession, they were strongly prejudiced against what was implied in it, or evidently followed from it, with regard to themselves. In this respect they were prejudiced against the doctrine of universal sinfulness, and exposedness to wrath by nature, looking on themselves as by nature holy, and favourites of God, because they were the children of Abraham; and with them the apostle had laboured most in the foregoing part of the epistle, to convince them of their being by nature as sinful, and as much the children of wrath, as the Gentiles: it was therefore exceeding proper, and what the apostle’s design most naturally led him to, that they should take off their eyes from their father Abraham, their father in distinction from other nations, and direct them to their father Adam, who was the common father of mankind, equally of Jews and Gentiles. And when he had entered on this doctrine of the derivation of sin and death, to all mankind from Adam, no wonder if he thought it needful to be somewhat particular in it, seeing he wrote to Jews and Gentiles; the former of which had been brought up under the prejudices of a proud opinion of themselves, as a holy people by nature, and the latter had been educated in total ignorance.
Again, the apostle had, from the
beginning of the epistle, been endeavouring to evince the absolute
dependence of all mankind on the free grace of god for
salvation, and the greatness of this grace; and particularly in the
former part of this chapter. The greatness of this grace he shows
especially by two things. (1.) The universal corruption and misery of
mankind; as in all the foregoing chapters, and in several preceding
verses of this chapter, (
Another thing observable in the apostle’s grand scope from the beginning of the epistle, is, that he endeavours to show the greatness and absoluteness of dependence on the redemption and righteousness of christ, for justification and life, that he might magnify and exalt the Redeemer; in which design his whole heart was swallowed up, and may be looked upon as the main design of the whole epistle. And this is what he had been upon in the preceding part of this chapter, inferring it from the same argument, even the utter sinfulness and ruin of all men. And he is evidently still on the same thing from the 12th verse to the end; speaking of the same justification and righteousness, which he had dwelt on before, and not another totally diverse. No wonder, when the apostle is treating so fully and largely of our restoration, righteousness, and life by Christ, that he is led by it to consider our fall, sin, death, and ruin by Adam; and to observe wherein these two opposite heads of mankind agree, and wherein they differ, in the manner of conveyance of opposite influences and communications from each.
Thus, if the place be understood, as it used to be understood by orthodox divines, the whole stands in a natural, easy, and clear connexion with the preceding part of the chapter, and all the former part of the epistle; and in a plain agreement with the express design of all that the apostle had been saying; and also in connexion with the words last before spoken, as introduced by the two immediately preceding verses, where he is speaking of our justification, reconciliation, and salvation by Christ; which leads the apostle directly to observe, how, on the contrary, we have sin and death by Adam. Taking this discourse of the apostle in its true and plain sense, there is no need of great extent of learning, or depth of criticism, to find out the connexion. But if it be understood in Dr. T.‘s sense, the plain scope and connexion are wholly lost, and there was truly need of skill in criticism, and the art of discerning, beyond or at least different from that of former divines, and a faculty of seeing what other men’s sight could not reach, in order to find out the connexion.
What has been already observed, may suffice to show the apostle’s general scope in this place. But yet there seem to be some other things to which he alludes in several expressions. As particularly the Jews had a very superstitious and extravagant notion of their law, delivered by Moses;
as if it were the prime, grand, and indeed only rule of God’s
proceeding with mankind as their judge, both in their justification and
condemnation, or from whence all, both sin and righteousness, was
imputed; and had no consideration of the law of nature, written in the
hearts of the Gentiles, and of all mankind. Herein they ascribed infinitely too much to their particular law, beyond the true design of it. They made their boast of the law; as if their being distinguished from all other nations by that great privilege, the giving of the law, sufficiently made them a holy people, and God’s children. This notion of
theirs the apostle evidently refers to,
Dr. T. misrepresents the apostle’s argument in these verses; which, as has been demonstrated, is in his sense altogether vain and impertinent. He supposes, the thing which the apostle mainly intends to prove, is, that death or mortality does not come on mankind by personal sin; and that he would prove it by this medium, that death reigned when there was no law in being which threatened personal sin with death. It is acknowledged, that this is 208 implied, even that death came into the world by Adam’s sin: yet this is not the main thing the apostle designs to prove. But his main point evidently is, that sin and guilt, and just exposedness to death and ruin, came into the world by Adam’s sin; as righteousness, justification, and a title to eternal life come by Christ. Which point he confirms by this consideration, that from the very time when Adam sinned, sin, guilt, and desert of ruin, became universal in the world, long before the law given by Moses to the Jewish nation had any being.
The apostle’s remark, that sin entered into the world by one man, who was the father of the whole human race, was an observation which afforded proper instruction for the Jews, who looked on themselves as an holy people, because they had the law of Moses, and were the children of Abraham, an holy father; while they looked on other nations as by nature unholy and sinners, because they were not Abraham’s children. He leads them up to a higher ancestor than this patriarch, even to Adam, who being equally the father of Jews and Gentiles, both alike come from a sinful father; from whom guilt and pollution were derived alike to all mankind. And this the apostle proves by an argument, which of all that could possibly be invented, tended the most briefly and directly to convince the Jews; even by this reflection, that death had come equally on all mankind from Adam’s time, and that the posterity of Abraham were equally subject to it with the rest of the world. This was apparent in fact, a thing they all knew. And the Jews had always been taught, that death (which began in the destruction of the body, and of this present life) was the proper punishment of sin. This they were taught in Moses’s history of Adam, and God’s first threatening of punishment for sin, and by the constant doctrine of the law and the prophets; as already observed.
And the apostle’s observation—that sin was in the world long before the law was given, and was as universal in the world from the times of Adam, as it had been among the heathen since the law of Moses—showed plainly, that the Jews were quite mistaken in their notion of their particular law; and that the law which is the original and universal rule of righteousness and judgment for all mankind, was another law, of far more ancient date, even the law of nature. This began as early as the human nature began, and was established with the first father of mankind, and in him with the whole race. The positive precept of abstaining from the forbidden fruit, was given for the trial of his compliance with this law of nature; of which the main rule is supreme regard to God and his will. And the apostle proves that it must be thus, because if the law of Moses had been the highest rule of judgment, and if there had not been a superior, prior, divine rule established, mankind in general would not have been judged and condemned as sinners, before that was given, (for “sin is not imputed, when there is no law,”) as it is apparent in fact they were, because death reigned before that time, even from the time of Adam.
It may be observed, that the apostle, both in this epistle, and in that to the Galatians, endeavours to convince the Jews of these two things, in opposition to the notions and prejudices they had entertained concerning their law. (1.) That it never was intended to be the covenant, or method by which they should actually be justified. (2.) That it was not the highest and universal rule or law, by which mankind in
general, and particularly the heathen world, were condemned. And he proves both by similar arguments.—He proves, that the law of Moses was not the covenant, by which any of mankind were to obtain justification, because that covenant was of older date, being expressly established in the time of Abraham, and Abraham himself was justified by it. This argument the apostle particularly handles in the
The chief occasion of obscurity
and difficulty, attending the scope and connexion of the various
clauses of this discourse, particularly in
(1.) That it is our natural relation to Adam, and not to Abraham, which determines our native moral state; and that, therefore, being natural children of Abraham, will not make us by nature holy in the sight of God, since we are the natural seed of sinful Adam. Nor does the Gentiles being not descended from Abraham, denominate them sinners, any more than the Jews, seeing both alike are descended from Adam.
(2.) That the law of Moses is not the prime and general law and rule of judgment for mankind, to condemn them, and denominate them sinners; but that the state they are in with regard to a higher, more ancient, and universal law, determines them in general to be sinners in the sight of God, and liable to be condemned as such. Which observation is, in many respects, to the apostle’s purpose; particularly in this respect, that
if the Jews were convinced, that the law, which was the prime rule of condemnation, was given to all, was
common to all mankind, and that all fell under condemnation through the
violation of that law by the common father of all, both Jews and Gentiles, then they would be led more easily and naturally to believe, that the method of justification, which God had established, also extended equally to all mankind: and that the Messiah, by whom
we have this justification, is appointed, as Adam was, for a common head to all, both Jews and Gentiles.—The apostle aiming to confute the Jewish notion, is the principal occasion of those words in
As to the import of that expression, “even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” not only is the thing signified, in Dr. T.‘s sense of it, not true; or if it had been true, would have been impertinent, as has been shown: but his interpretation is, otherwise, very much strained and unnatural. According to him, “by sinning after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” is not meant any similitude of the act of sinning, nor of the command sinned against, nor properly any circumstance of the sin; but only the similitude of a circumstance of the command, viz. the threatening with which it is attended. A far-fetched thing, truly, to be called a similitude of sinning! Besides, this expression in such a meaning, is only a needless, impertinent, and awkward repetition of the same thing, which it is supposed the apostle had observed in the foregoing verse, even after he had proceeded another step in the series of his discourse. As thus, in the foregoing verse the apostle had plainly laid down his argument, (as our author understands it,) by which he would prove, that death did not come by personal sin, viz. because death reigned before any law, threatening death for personal sin, was in being: so that the sin then committed was against no law, threatening death for personal sin. Having laid this down, the apostle leaves this part of his argument, and proceeds another step, nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses: and then returns, in a strange unnatural manner, and repeats that argument or assertion again, but only more obscurely than before, in these words, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adams transgression; i. e. over them that had not sinned against a law threatening death for personal 209 sin. Which is just the same thing as if the apostle had said, “they that sinned before the law, did not sin against a law threatening death for personal sin; for there was no such law for any to sin against at that time: nevertheless death reigned at that time, even over such as did not sin against a law threatening death for personal sin.” Which latter clause adds nothing to the premises, and tends nothing to illustrate what was said before, but rather to obscure and darken it. The particle (NOT ENGLISH) even, when prefixed in this manner, is used to signify something additional, some advance in the sense or argument; implying, that the words following express something more, or express the same thing more fully, plainly, or forcibly. But to unite two clauses by such a particle, in such a manner, when there is nothing besides a flat repetition, with no superadded sense or force, but rather a greater uncertainty and obscurity, would be very unusual, and indeed very absurd.
I can see no reason why we should be dissatisfied with that explanation of this clause, which has more commonly been given, viz. That by them who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, are meant infants; who, though they have indeed sinned in Adam, yet never sinned as Adam did, by actually transgressing in their own persons; unless it be, that this interpretation is too old, and too common. It was well understood by those to whom the apostle wrote, that vast numbers had died in infancy, within that period of which he speaks, particularly in the time of the deluge. And it would be strange, that the apostle should not have the case of such infants in his mind; even supposing his scope were what our author supposes, and he had only intended to prove that death did not come on mankind for their personal sin. How directly would it have served the purpose of proving this, to have mentioned so great a part of mankind who are subject to death, and who, all know, never committed any sin in their own persons! How much more plain and easy the proof of the point by that, than to go round about, as Dr. T. supposes, and bring in a thing so dark and uncertain as this, that God never would bring death on all mankind for personal sin (though they had personal sin) without an express revealed constitution; and then to observe, that there was no revealed constitution of this nature from Adam to Moses—which also seems to be an assertion without any plain evidence—and then to infer, that it must needs be so, that it could come only on occasion of Adam’s sin, though not for his sin, or as any punishment of it; which inference also is very dark and unintelligible.
If the apostle in this place meant
those who never sinned by their personal act, it is not strange that he
should express this by their not sinning after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. We read of two ways of men being like Adam, or in which a similitude to him is ascribed to men: one is, being begotten or born in his image or likeness,
And the apostle having the case of infants in view, in this expression, makes it more to his purpose to mention death reigning before the law of Moses was given. For the Jews looked on all nations besides themselves, as sinners, by virtue of their law; being made so especially by the law of circumcision, given first to Abraham, and completed by Moses, making the want of circumcision a legal pollution, utterly disqualifying for the privileges of the sanctuary. This law, the Jews supposed, made the very infants of the Gentiles to be sinners, polluted and hateful to God; they being uncircumcised, and born of uncircumcised parents. But the apostle proves, against these notions of the Jews, that the nations of the world do not become sinners by nature, and sinners from infancy, by virtue of their law, in this manner, but by Adam’s sin: inasmuch as infants were treated as sinners long before the law of circumcision was given, as well as before they had committed actual sin.
What has been said, may, as I humbly conceive, lead us to that which is the true scope and sense of the apostle in these three verses; which I will endeavour more briefly to represent in the following paraphrase.
“The things which I have largely insisted on, viz. the evil that is in the world, the general wickedness, guilt, and ruin of mankind, and the opposite good, even justification and life, as only by Christ, lead me to observe the likeness of the manner in which they are each of them introduced. For it was by one man that the general corruption and guilt which I have spoken of, came into the world, and condemnation and death by sin: and this dreadful punishment and ruin came on all mankind by the great law of works, originally established with mankind in their first father, and by his one offence, or breach of that law; all thereby becoming sinners in God’s sight, and exposed to final destruction.
“It is manifest that it was in this way the world became sinful and guilty; and not in that way which the Jews suppose, viz. That their law, given by Moses, is the grand universal rule of righteousness and judgment for mankind, and that it is by being Gentiles, uncircumcised, and aliens from that law, that the nations of the world are constituted sinners, and unclean. For before the law of Moses was given, mankind were all looked upon by the great Judge as sinners, by corruption and guilt derived from Adam’s violation of the original law of works; which shows, that the original universal rule of righteousness is not the law of Moses; for if so, there would have been no sin imputed before that was given; because sin is not imputed, when there is no law.
“But that at that time sin was imputed, and men were by their judge reckoned as sinners, through guilt and corruption derived from Adam, and condemned for sin to death, the proper punishment of sin, we have a plain proof; in that it appears in fact, all mankind, during that whole time which preceded the law of Moses, were subjected to that temporal death, which is the visible introduction and image of that utter destruction which sin deserves, not excepting even infants, who could be sinners no other way than by virtue of Adam’s transgression, having never in their own persons actually sinned as Adam did; nor could at that time be made polluted by the law of Moses, as being uncircumcised, or born of uncircumcised parents.”
Now, by way of reflection on the whole, I would observe, that though there are two or three expressions in this paragraph,
The doctrine of original sin
is not only here taught, but most plainly, explicitly, and abundantly
taught. This doctrine is asserted, expressly or implicitly, in almost
every verse, and in some of the verses several times. It is fully
implied in that first expression in the
Here is every thing to determine and fix the meaning of all the important terms used; as, the abundant use of
them in all parts of the New Testament; and especially in this
apostle’s writings, which make up a very great part of the New
Testament; and his repeated use of them in this epistle in particular;
and in the former part of this very chapter; and also the light that one sentence in this paragraph casts on another, which fully
settles their meaning: as, with respect to the words justification, righteousness, and condemnation; and above all, in regard of the word sin,
which is the most important of all, with relation to the doctrine and
controversy we are upon. Besides the constant use of this term every
where else through the New Testament, through the epistles of this
apostle, this epistle in particular, and even the former part of this
chapter, it is often repeated in this very paragraph, and evidently
used in the very sense that is denied to belong to it in the end of
What further confirms the certainty of the proof of original sin, which this place affords, is this, that the utmost art cannot pervert it to another sense. What a variety of the most artful methods have been used by the enemies of this doctrine, to wrest and darken this paragraph of Holy Writ, which stands so much in their way, as it were to force the Bible to speak a language agreeable to their mind! How have expressions been strained, words and phrases racked! What strange figures of speech have been invented, and with violent hands thrust into the apostle’s mouth; and then with a bold countenance and magisterial airs obtruded on the world, as from him!—But blessed be God, we have his words as he delivered them, and the rest of the same epistle, and his other writings to compare with them; by which his meaning stands in too strong and glaring a light to be hid by any of the artificial mists which they labour to throw upon it.
It is really no less than abusing the Scripture and its readers, to represent this paragraph as the most obscure of all the places of Scripture, that speak of the consequences of Adam’s sin; and to treat it as if there was need first to consider other places as more plain. Whereas, it is most manifestly a place in which these things are declared, the most plainly, particularly, precisely, and of set purpose, by that great apostle, who has most fully explained to us those doctrines in general, which relate to the redemption by Christ, and the sin and misery we are redeemed from. And it must be now left to the reader’s judgment, whether the christian church has not proceeded reasonably, in looking on this as a place of Scripture most clearly and fully treating of these things, and in using its determinate sense as a help to settle the meaning of many other passages of Sacred Writ.
As this place in general is very full and plain, so the doctrine of the corruption of nature, as derived from Adam, and also the imputation of his first sin, are both clearly taught in it. The imputation of Adam’s one transgression, is indeed most directly and frequently asserted. We are here assured, that by one man’s sin, death passed on all; all being adjudged to this punishment, as having sinned (so it is implied) in that one man’s sin. And it is repeated, over and over, that all are condemned, many are dead, many made sinners, &c. by one man’s offence, by the disobedience of one, and by one offence. And the doctrine of original depravity is also here taught, when the apostle says, “By one man sin entered into the world;” having a plain respect (as hath been shown) to that universal corruption and wickedness, as well as guilt, of which he had before largely treated.
PART III. Evidence of the Doctrine from Redemption by Christ.211
The evidence given us, relative to the doctrine of original sin, in what the scriptures reveal. Concerning the redemption by Christ.
CHAPTER I. Proofs from Redemption by Christ.
THE EVIDENCE OF ORIGINAL SIN, FROM THE NATURE OF REDEMPTION, IN THE PROCUREMENT OF IT.
According to Dr. T.‘s scheme, a very great part of mankind are the subjects of Christ’s redemption, who live and die perfectly innocent, who never have had, and never will have, any sin charged to their account, and never are exposed to any punishment whatsoever, viz. all that die in infancy. They are the subjects of Christ’s redemption, as he redeems them from death, or as they by his righteousness have
justification, and by his obedience are made righteous, in the resurrection of the body, in the sense of
Now let us see whether such a scheme well consists with the scripture-account of the redemption by Jesus Christ.
I. The representations of the redemption by Christ, every where in Scripture, lead us to suppose, that all whom he came to redeem are sinners; that his salvation, as to the term from which, (or the evil to be redeemed from,) in all, is sin, and the deserved punishment of sin. It is natural to suppose, that when he had his name Jesus, or Saviour, given him by God’s special and immediate appointment, the
salvation meant by that name should be his salvation in general; and not only a part of his salvation, and with regard only to some of them whom he came to save. But this name was given him to signify
These things are greatly confirmed by the scripture doctrine of sacrifices. It is abundantly plain, both from the Old and New Testament, that these were types of Christ’s death, and were for sin, and supposed sin in those for whom they were offered. The apostle supposes, that in order to any having the benefit of the eternal inheritance by Christ, there must of necessity be the death of the testator; and gives that reason for
II. The Scripture represents the redemption by Christ, as a redemption from deserved destruction; and that, not merely as it respects some particulars, but as the fruit of God’s love to mankind.
III. It will follow on Dr. T.‘s scheme, that Christ’s redemption, with regard to a great part of them who are the subjects of it, is not only a redemption from no sin, but from no calamity, and so from no evil of any kind. For as to death, which infants are redeemed from, they never were subjected to it as a calamity, but purely as a benefit. It came by no threatening or curse denounced upon or through Adam; the covenant with him being utterly abolished, as to all its force and power on mankind, (according to our author,) before the sentence of mortality. Therefore trouble and death could be appointed to innocent mankind no other way than on account of another covenant, the covenant of grace; and in this channel they come only as favours, not as evils. Therefore they could need no remedy, for they had no disease. Even death itself, which it is supposed Christ saves them from, is only a medicine; and one of the greatest of benefits. It is ridiculous to talk of persons’ needing a medicine, or a physician, to save them from an excellent medicine; or of a remedy from a happy remedy! If it be said, though death be a benefit, yet it is so because Christ changes it, and turns it into a benefit, by procuring a resurrection: I would ask, what can be meant by turning or changing it into a benefit, when it never was otherwise, nor could ever justly be otherwise? Infants could not at all be brought under death as a calamity; for they never deserved it. And it would be only an abuse (be it far from us, to ascribe such a thing to God) in any being, to offer any poor sufferers a Redeemer from a calamity which he had brought upon them, without the least desert of it on their part.
it is plain, that mortality was not at first brought on mankind as a
blessing, by the covenant of grace through Christ; and that Christ and
grace do not bring mankind under death, but find them under it.
IV. It will follow, on our author’s principles, not only with respect to infants, but even adult persons, that redemption is needless, and Christ is dead in vain. Not only is there no need of Christ’s redemption in order to deliverance from any consequences of Adam’s sin, but also in order to perfect freedom from personal sin, and all its evil consequences. For God has made other sufficient provision for that, viz. a sufficient power and ability, in all mankind, to do all their duty, and wholly to avoid sin. Yea, he insists upon it, that “when men have not sufficient power to do their duty, they have no duty to do. We may safely and assuredly conclude, (says he,) that mankind in all parts of the world have sufficient power to do the duty which God requires of them; and that he requires of them no more than they have sufficient powers to do.”  And in another place, “God has given powers equal to the duty which he expects.” And he expresses a great dislike at R. R.‘s supposing, that our propensities to evil, and temptations, are too strong to be effectually and constantly resisted; or that we are unavoidably sinful in a degree; that our appetites and passions will be breaking out, notwithstanding our everlasting watchfulness.” These things fully imply, that men have in their own natural ability sufficient means to avoid sin, and to be perfectly free from it; and so, from all the bad consequences of it. And if the means are sufficient, then there is no need of more; and therefore there is no need of Christ dying, in order to it. What Dr. T. says, (p. 72. S.) fully implies, that it would be unjust in God to give mankind being in such circumstances, as that they would be more likely to sin, so as to be exposed to final misery, than otherwise. Hence then, without Christ and his redemption, and without any grace at all, mere justice makes sufficient provision for our being free from sin and misery, by our own power. 
If all mankind, in all parts of the world, have such sufficient power to do their whole duty, without being sinful in any degree, then they have sufficient power to obtain righteousness by the law: and then, according to the apostle Paul, Christ is dead in vain.
Again, if it be said, that although Christ’s redemption was not necessary to preserve men from beginning to sin, and getting into a course of sin, because they have sufficient power in themselves to avoid it; yet it may be necessary to deliver men, after they have by their own folly brought themselves under the dominion of evil appetites and passions.  I answer, if it be so, that men need deliverance from those habits and passions, which are become too strong for them, yet that deliverance, on our author’s principles, would be no salvation from sin. For the exercise of passions which are too strong for us, and which we cannot overcome, is necessary: and he strongly urges, that a necessary evil can be no moral evil. It is true, it is the effect of evil, as it is the effect of a bad practice, while the man had power to have avoided it. But then according to Dr. T. that evil cause alone is sin; for he says expressly, ”The cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth, or which proceedeth from it.”  And as to that sin which was the cause, the man needed no Saviour from that, having had sufficient power in himself to have avoided it. So that it follows by our author’s scheme, that none of mankind, neither infants nor adult persons, neither the more nor less vicious, neither Jews nor Gentiles, neither heathens nor Christians, ever did or ever could stand in any need of a Saviour; and that, with respect to all, the truth is, Christ is dead in vain.
any should say, although all mankind in all ages have sufficient
ability to do their whole duty, and so may by their own power enjoy
perfect freedom from sin, yet God foresaw that they would sin, and that after they
had sinned, they would need Christ’s death. I answer, it is plain, by
what the apostle says in those places which were just now mentioned, (
V. It will follow on Dr. T.‘s scheme, not only that Christ’s redemption is needless for saving from sin, or its consequences, but also that it does no good that way, has no tendency to any diminution of sin in the world. For as to any infusion of virtue or holiness into the heart, by divine power through Christ or his redemption, it is altogether inconsistent with this author’s notions. With him, inwrought virtue, if there were any such thing, would be no virtue; not being the effect of our own will, choice, and design, but only of a sovereign act of God’s power.  And therefore, all that Christ does to increase virtue, is only increasing our talents, our light, advantages, means, and motives; as he often explains the matter.  But sin is not at all diminished, for he says, our duty must be measured by our talents; as, a child that has less talents, has less duty; and therefore must be no more exposed to commit sin, than he that has greater talents; because he that has greater talents, has more duty required, in exact proportion.  If so, he that has but one talent, has as much advantage to perform that one degree of duty which is required of mm, as he that has five talents, to perform his five degrees of duty, and is no more exposed to fail of it. And that man’s guilt, who sins against greater advantages 213 means, and motives, is greater in proportion to his talents. And therefore it will follow, on Dr. T.‘s principles, that men stand no better chance, have no more eligible or valuable probability of freedom from sin and punishment, or of contracting but little guilt, or of performing required duty, with the great advantages and talents implied in Christ’s redemption, than without them; when all things are computed, and put into the balances together, the numbers, degrees, and aggravations of sin exposed to, degrees of duty required, &c. So that men have no redemption from sin, and no new means of performing duty, that are valuable or worth any thing at all. And thus the great redemption by Christ in every respect comes to nothing, with regard both to infants and adult persons.
CHAPTER II. Proof from Application of Redemption.
THE EVIDENCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN FROM WHAT THE SCRIPTURE TEACHES OF THE APPLICATION OF REDEMPTION.
The truth of the doctrine of original sin is very clearly manifest from what the Scripture says of that change of state, which it represents as necessary to an actual interest in the spiritual and eternal blessings of the Redeemer’s kingdom.
In order to this, it speaks of it as absolutely necessary for every one, that he be regenerated, or born again.
But in order to proceed in the most sure and safe manner, in understanding what is meant in Scripture by being born again, and so in the inferences we draw from what is said of the necessity of it, let us compare scripture with scripture, and consider what other terms or phrases are used, where respect is evidently had to the same change. And here I would observe the following things.
I. If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest, that by regeneration, or being begotten, or born again, the
same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the
scripture speaks of as affected in true repentance and conversion. I
put repentance and conversion together, because the scripture puts them
In the change which the mind undergoes in repentance and conversion, is attained that character of true Christians which is necessary to the eternal privileges of such.
The change of the mind in repentance is that in which saving faith is attained.
By the change men undergo in conversion, they become as little children; which appears in the place last cited: and so they do by regeneration. (
The change effected by repentance, is expressed and exhibited by baptism. Hence it is called the baptism of repentance. (
The change which a man undergoes when born again, and in his repentance
and conversion, is the same that the scripture calls the circumcision
of the heart.—This may easily appear by considering, that as regeneration is that in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, as has been shown, and as is confessed; so is circumcision of heart.
Regeneration is that whereby men come to have the character of true Christians; as is evident, and as is confessed; and so is circumcision of heart: for by this men become Jews inwardly, or Jews in the spiritual and christian sense, (and that is the same as being true Christians,) as of old, proselytes were made Jews by circumcision of the flesh.
That circumcision of the heart, is the same with conversion, or turning from sin to God, is evident by
The change effected in regeneration, repentance, and conversion, is signified by baptism, as has been shown; and so is circumcision of the heart signified
by the same thing. None will deny, that it was this internal
circumcision, which of old was signified by external circumcision; nor
will any deny, now under the New Testament, that inward and spiritual
baptism, or the cleansing of the heart, is signified by external
washing or baptism. But
spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism are the same thing; both
being putting off the body of the sins of the flesh; as is very plain by
III. This inward change, called regeneration, and circumcision of the heart, which is wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same with that spiritual resurrection so often spoken of, and represented as a dying unto sin, and a living unto righteousness.—This appears with great plainness
in that last cited place,
The same appears by
That a spiritual resurrection to a new, divine life, should be called a being born again, is agreeable to the language of Scripture. So those words in the
IV. This change, of which men are the subjects, when they are born again, and circumcised in heart, when they repent, and are converted, and spiritually raised from the dead, is the same change which is meant when the Scripture speaks of making the heart and spirit new, or giving a new heart and spirit.
It is almost needless to observe, how evidently this is spoken of as necessary to salvation, and as the change in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, and the character of a true saint; as has been observed of regeneration, conversion, &c. and how apparent it is, that the change is the same. Thus repentance, (NOT ENGLISH ) the change of the mind, is the same as being changed to a new mind, or a new heart and spirit. Conversion is the turning of the heart; which is the same thing as changing it so, that there shall be another heart, or a new heart, or a new spirit. To be born again, is to be born anew; which implies a becoming new, and is represented as becoming new-born babes. But none supposes it is the body, that is immediately and properly new, but the mind, heart, or spirit. And so a spiritual resurrection is the resurrection of the spirit, or rising to begin a new existence and life, as to the mind, heart, or spirit. So that all these phrases imply, having a new heart, and being renewed in the spirit, according to their plain signification.
When Nicodemus expressed his wonder at Christ declaring it necessary, that a man should be born again in order to see the kingdom of God, or enjoy the privileges of the kingdom of the Messiah, Christ says to him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? i. e. “Art
thou one who is set to teach others the things written in the law and
the prophets, and knowest not a doctrine so plainly taught in your
Scriptures, that such a
change is necessary to a partaking of the blessings of the Messiah’s
kingdom?” But what can Christ refer to, unless such prophecies as that
V. It is abundantly manifest, that being born again, spiritually rising from the dead to newness of life, receiving a new heart, and being renewed in the spirit of the mind, are the same thing with that which is called putting off the old man, and putting on the new man.
The expressions are equivalent; and the representations are plainly of the same thing. When Christ speaks of being born again, two births are supposed: a first and a second, an old birth and anew one: and the thing born is called man. So what is born in the first birth is the old man; and what is brought forth in the second birth, is the new man. That which is born in the first birth (says Christ) is flesh: it is the carnal man, wherein we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, whom the apostle calls the first man. That which is born in the new birth, is spirit, or the spiritual and heavenly man: wherein we proceed from Christ the second man, the new man, who is made a quickening Spirit, and is the Lord from heaven, and the Head of the new creation.—In the new birth, men are represented as becoming new-born babes, which is the same thing as becoming new men.
And how apparently is what the Scripture says of the spiritual resurrection of the Christian convert, equivalent and of the very same import with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. So in
And it is most apparent, that spiritual circumcision, and spiritual baptism, and the spiritual resurrection, are all the same with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. This appears by
And it is most plain, that this putting off the old man, &c. is the very same thing with making the heart and spirit new. It is apparent in itself; the spirit is called the man, in the language of the apostle; it is called the inward man, and the hidden man. (
these things it appears, how unreasonable, and contrary to the utmost
degree of scriptural evidence, is Dr. T.‘s way of explaining the old man, and the new man,
as though thereby was meant nothing personal; but that by the old man was meant the heathen state, and by the new man the christian dispensation, or state of professing Christians, or the whole collective body of professors of Christianity, made up of Jews and Gentiles; when all the colour he has for it is, that the apostle once calls the christian church a new man. (
VI. I observe once more, it is very apparent, that being born again, and spiritually raised from death to a state of new existence and life, having a new heart created in us, being renewed in the spirit of our mind, and being the subjects of that change by which we put off the old man, and put on the new man, is the same thing with that which in Scripture is called being created anew, or made new creatures.
to pass over many other evidences which might be mentioned, I would
only observe, that the representations are exactly equivalent. These
several phrases naturally and most plainly signify the same effect. In
the first birth, or generation, we are created, or brought into existence; it is then the whole man first receives being; the soul is then formed, and then our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, being
curiously wrought by our Creator. So that a new-born child is a new creature. So, when a man is born again, he is created again; in that new birth, there is a new creation; and therein he becomes as a new-born babe, or a new creature. So, in a resurrection, there is a new creation. When a man is dead, that which was made in the first creation is destroyed: when that which was dead is raised to
life, the mighty power of the author of life is exerted the second
time, and the subject restored to a new existence, and a new life, as
by a new creation. So giving a new heart is called creating a clean heart,
On the whole, the following reflections may be made:
1. That it is a truth of the utmost certainty, with respect to every man born of the race of Adam, by ordinary generation, that unless he be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This is true, not only of the heathen, but of them that are born of the professing people of God, as Nicodemus, and the Jews, and every man born of the flesh. This is most manifest by Christ’s discourse in
2. It appears from this, together with what has been proved above, that it is most certain with respect to every one of the human race, that he can never have any interest in Christ, or see the kingdom of God, unless he be the subject of that change in the temper and disposition of his heart, which is made in repentance and conversion, circumcision of heart, spiritual baptism, dying to sin, and rising to a new and holy life; and unless he has the old heart taken away, and a new heart and spirit given, and puts off the old man, and puts on the new man, and old things are passed away, and all things made new.
From what is plainly implied in these things, and from what the
Scripture most clearly teaches of the nature of them, it is certain,
that every man is born into the world in a state of moral pollution. For spiritual baptism is a cleansing from moral filthiness. (
It must now be left with the reader to judge for himself, whether what the Scripture teaches of the application of Christ’s redemption, and the change of state and nature necessary to true and final happiness, does not afford clear and abundant evidence to the truth of the doctrine of original sin.
PART IV. Containing Answers to Objections.216
containing answers to objections.
PART IV. Containing Answers to Objections.
CONCERNING THE OBJECTION, THAT TO SUPPOSE MEN BORN IN SIN, WITHOUT THEIR CHOICE, OR ANY PREVIOUS ACT OF THEIR OWN, IS TO SUPPOSE WHAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE NATURE OF SIN.
Some of the objections made against the doctrine of original sin, which have reference to particular arguments used in defence of it, have been already considered in the handling of those arguments. What I shall therefore now consider, are such objections as I have not yet had occasion to notice.
There is no argument Dr. T. insists more upon, than that which is taken from the Arminian and Pelagian notion of freedom of will, consisting in the will’s self-determination, as necessary to the being of moral good or evil. He often urges, that if we come into the world infected with sinful and depraved dispositions, then sin must be natural to us; and if natural, then necessary; and if necessary, then no sin, nor any thing we are blamable for, or that can in any respect be our fault, being what we cannot help: and he urges, that sin must proceed from our own choice, &c. 
Here I would observe in general, that the forementioned notion of freedom of will, as essential to moral agency, and necessary to the very existence of virtue and sin, seems to be a grand favourite point with Pelagians and Arminians, and all divines of such characters, in their controversies with the orthodox. There is no one thing more fundamental in their schemes of religion: on the determination of this one leading point depends the issue of almost all controversies we have with such divines. Nevertheless, it seems a needless task for me particularly to consider that matter in this place; having already largely discussed it, with all the main grounds of this notion, and the arguments used to defend it, in a late book on this subject, to which I ask leave to refer the reader. It is very necessary, that the modern prevailing doctrine concerning this point, should be well understood, and therefore thoroughly considered and examined: for without it there is no hope of putting an end to the controversy about original sin, and innumerable other controversies that subsist, about many of the main points of religion. I stand ready to confess to the forementioned modern divines, if they can maintain their pecular notion of freedom, consisting in the self-determining power of the will, as necessary to moral agency, and can thoroughly establish it in opposition to the arguments lying against it, then they have an impregnable castle, to which they may repair, and remain invincible, in all the controversies they have with the reformed divines, concerning original sin, the sovereignty of grace, election, redemption, conversion, the efficacious operation of the Holy Spirit, the nature of saving faith, perseverance of the saints, and other principles of the like kind. However, at the same time, I think this will be as strong a fortress for the Deists, in common with them; as the great doctrines, subverted by their notion of freedom, are so plainly and abundantly taught in the Scripture. But I am under no apprehensions of any danger, which the cause of Christianity, or the religion of the reformed, is in, from any possibility of that notion being ever established, or of its being ever evinced that there is not proper, perfect, and manifold demonstration lying against it. But as I said, it would be needless for me to enter into a particular disquisition of this point here; from which I shall easily be excused by any reader who is willing to give himself the trouble of consulting what I have already written. And as to others, probably they will scarce be at the pains of reading the present discourse; or at least would not, if it should be enlarged by a full consideration of that controversy.
I shall at this time therefore only take notice of some gross inconsistencies that Dr. T. has been guilty of, in his handling this objection against the doctrine of original sin. In places which have been cited, he says, that sin must proceed from our own choice: and that if it does not, it being necessary to us, it cannot be sin, it cannot be our fault, or what we are to blame for: and therefore all our sin must be chargeable on our choice, which is the cause of sin: for he says, the cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth, and which proceedeth from it.  Now here are implied several gross contradictions. He greatly insists., that nothing can be sinful, or have the nature of sin, but what proceeds from our choice. Nevertheless he says, “Not the effect, but the cause alone is chargeable with blame.“ Therefore the choice, which is the cause, is alone blamable, or has the nature of sin; and not the effect of that choice. Thus nothing can be sinful, but the effect of choice; and yet the effect of choice never can be sinful, but only the cause, which alone is chargeable with all the blame.
Again, the choice, from which sin proceeds, is itself sinful. Not only is this implied in his saying, “The cause alone is chargeable with all the blame;” but he expressly speaks of the choice as faulty,  and calls that choice wicked, from which depravity and corruption proceeds.  Now if the choice itself be sin, and there be no sin but what proceeds from a sinful choice, then the sinful choice must proceed from another antecedent choice; it must he chosen by a foregoing act of will, determining itself to that sinful choice, that so it may have that which he speaks of as absolutely essential to the nature of sin, namely, that it proceeds from our choice, and does not happen to us necessarily. But if the sinful choice itself proceeds from a foregoing choice, then also that foregoing choice must be sinful; it being the cause of sin, and so alone chargeable with the blame. Yet if that foregoing choice be sinful, then neither must that happen to us necessarily, but must like-wise proceed from choice, another act of choice preceding that: for we must remember, that “Nothing is sinful but what proceeds from our choice.“ And then, for the same reason, even this prior choice, last mentioned, must also be sinful, being chargeable with all the blame of that consequent evil choice, which was its effect. And so we must go back till we come to the very first volition, the prime or original act of choice in the whole chain. And this to be sure must be a sinful choice, because this is the origin or primitive cause of all the train of evils which follow; and according to our author, must therefore be “alone chargeable with all the blame.” And yet so it is, according to him, this “cannot be sinful,” because it does not “proceed from our own choice,” or any foregoing act of our will; it being, by the supposition, the very first act of will in the case. And therefore it must be necessary, as to us, having no choice of ours to be the cause of it.
In p. 232. he says, ”Adam’s sin was from his own disobedient will; and so must every man’s sin, and all the sin in the world be, as well as his.” By this, it seems, he must have a “disobedient will” before he sins; for the cause must be before the effect: and yet that disobedient will itself is sinful; otherwise it could not be called disobedient. But the question is, How do men come by the disobedient will, this cause of all the sin in the world? It must not come necessarily, without men’s choice; for if so, it is not sin, nor is there any disobedience in it. Therefore that disobedient will must also come from a disobedient will; and so on, in infinitum. Otherwise it must be supposed, that there is some sin in the world, which does not 217 come from a disobedient will: contrary to our author’s dogmatical assertions.
In p. 166. S. he says, “Adam could not sin without a sinful inclination.” Here he calls that inclination itself sinful, which is the principle from whence sinful acts proceed; as elsewhere he speaks of the disobedient will from whence all sin comes: and he allows,  that “the law reaches to all the latent principles of sin;” meaning plainly, that it forbids, and threatens punishment for, those latent principles. Now these latent principles of sin, these sinful inclinations, without which, according to our author, there can be no sinful act, cannot all proceed from a sinful choice; because that would imply great contradiction. For, by the supposition, they are the principles from whence a sinful choice comes, and whence all sinful acts of will proceed; and there can be no sinful act without them. So that the first latent principles and inclinations, from whence all sinful acts proceed, are sinful; and yet they are not sinful, because they do not proceed from a wicked choice, without which, according to him, “nothing can be sinful.”
Dr. T. speaking of that proposition of the Assembly of Divines, wherein they assert, that man is by nature utterly corrupt, &c.  thinks himself well warranted, by the supposed great evidence of these his contradictory notions, to say, “Therefore sin is not natural to us; and therefore I shall not scruple to say, this proposition in the Assembly of Divines is false.” But it may be worthy of consideration, whether it would not have greatly become him, before he had clothed himself with so much assurance, and proceeded, on the foundation of these his notions, so magisterially to charge the Assembly’s proposition with falsehood, to have taken care that his own propositions, which he has set in opposition to them, should be a little more consistent; that he might not have contradicted himself, while contradicting them; lest some impartial judges, observing his inconsistence, should think they had warrant to declare with equal assurance, that “they should not scruple to say, Dr. T.‘s doctrine is false.”
CHAPTER II. God not the Author of Sin.
CONCERNING THE OBJECTION, AGAINST THE DOCTRINE OF NATIVE CORRUPTION, THAT TO SUPPOSE MEN RECEIVE THEIR FIRST EXISTENCE IN SIN, IS TO MAKE HIM WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF THEIR BEING, THE AUTHOR OF THEIR DEPRAVITY.
One argument against a supposed native, sinful depravity, which Dr. T. greatly insists upon, is, “that this does in effect charge him, who is the author of our nature, who formed us in the womb, with being the author of a sinful corruption of nature; and that it is highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature to be originally corrupted, and that in the worst sense of corruption. 
With respect to this, I would observe, in the first place, that this writer, in handling this grand objection, supposes something to belong to the doctrine objected against, as maintained by the divines whom he is opposing, which does not belong to it, nor follow from it. As particularly, he supposes the doctrine of original sin to imply, that nature must be corrupted by some positive influence; “something, by some means or other, infused into the human nature; some quality or other, not from the choice of our minds, but like a taint, tincture, or infection, altering the natural constitution, faculties, and dispositions of our souls.  That sin and evil dispositions are implanted in the fœtus in the womb.”  Whereas truly our doctrine neither implies nor infers any such thing. In order to account for a sinful corruption of nature, yea, a total native depravity of the heart of man, there is not the least need of supposing any evil quality, infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man, by any positive cause, or influence whatsoever, either from God, or the creature; or of supposing, that man is conceived and born with a fountain of evil in his heart, such as is any thing properly positive. I think, a little attention to the nature of things will be sufficient to satisfy any impartial considerate inquirer, that the absence of positive good principles, and so the withholding of a special divine influence to impart and maintain those good principles—leaving the common natural principles of self-love, natural appetite, &c. to themselves, without the government of superior divine principles—will certainly be followed with the corruption; yea, the total corruption of the heart, without occasion for any positive influence at all: and that it was thus in fact that corruption of nature came on Adam, immediately on his fall, and comes on all his posterity, as sinning in him, and falling with him. 
The case with man was plainly this: When God made man at first, he implanted in him two kinds of principles. There was an inferior kind, which may be called natural, being the principles of mere human nature; such as self-love, with those natural appetites and passions, which belong to the nature of man, in which his love to his own liberty, honour, and pleasure, were exercised: these, when alone, and left to themselves, are what the Scriptures sometimes call flesh. Besides these, there were superior principles, that were spiritual, holy, and divine, summarily comprehended in divine love; wherein consisted the spiritual image of God, and man’s righteousness and true holiness; which are called in Scripture the divine nature. 218 These principles may, in some sense, be called supernatural,  being (however concreated or connate, yet) such as are above those principles that are essentially implied in, or necessarily resulting from, and inseparably connected with, mere human nature; and being such as immediately depend on man’s union and communion with God, or divine communications and influences of God’s Spirit: which though withdrawn, and man’s nature forsaken of these principles, human nature would be human nature still; man’s nature, as such, being entire without these divine principles, which the Scripture sometimes calls spirit, in contradistinction to flesh. These superior principles were given to possess the throne, and maintain an absolute dominion in the heart; the other to be wholly subordinate and subservient. And while things continued thus, all was in excellent order, peace, and beautiful harmony, and in a proper and perfect state. These divine principles thus reigning, were the dignity, life, happiness, and glory of man’s nature. When man sinned and broke God’s covenant, and fell under his curse, these superior principles left his heart: for indeed God then left him; that communion with God on which these principles depended, entirely ceased; the Holy Spirit, that divine inhabitant, forsook the house. Because it would have been utterly improper in itself, and inconsistent with the constitution God had established, that he should still maintain communion with man, and continue by his friendly, gracious, vital influences, to dwell with him and in him, after he was become a rebel, and had incurred God’s wrath and curse. Therefore immediately the superior divine principles wholly ceased; so light ceases in a room when the candle is withdrawn; and thus man was left in a state of darkness, woful corruption, and ruin; nothing but flesh without spirit. The inferior principles of self-love, and natural appetite, which were given only to serve, being alone, and left to themselves, of course became reigning principles; having no superior principles to regulate or control them, they became absolute masters of the heart. The immediate consequence of which was a fatal catastrophe, a turning of all things upside down, and the succession of a state of the most odious and dreadful confusion. Man immediately set up himself, and the objects of his private affections and appetites, as supreme; and so they took the place of god. These inferior principles are like fire in a house; which, we say, is a good servant, but a bad master; very useful while kept in its 219 place, but if left to take possession of the whole house, soon brings all to destruction. Man’s love to his own honour, separate interest, and private pleasure, which before was wholly subordinate unto love to God, and regard to his authority and glory, now disposes and impels him to pursue those objects, without regard to God’s honour, or law; because there is no true regard to these divine things left in him. In consequence of which, he seeks those objects as much when against God’s honour and law, as when agreeable to them. God still continuing strictly to require supreme regard to himself, and forbidding all undue gratifications of these inferior passions—but only in perfect subordination to the ends, and agreeableness to the rules and limits, which his holiness, honour, and law prescribe—hence immediately arises enmity in the heart, now wholly under the power of self-love; and nothing but war ensues, in a constant course, against God. As, when a subject has once renounced his lawful sovereign, and set up a pretender in his stead, a state of enmity and war against his rightful king necessarily ensues. It were easy to show, how every lust, and depraved disposition of man’s heart, would naturally arise from this private original, if here were room for it. Thus it is easy to give an account, how total corruption of heart should follow on man’s eating the forbidden fruit, though that was but one act of sin, without God putting any evil into his heart, or implanting any bad principle, or infusing any corrupt taint, and so becoming the author of depravity. Only God’s withdrawing, as it was highly proper and necessary that he should, from rebel-man, and his natural principles being left to themselves, is sufficient to account for his becoming entirely corrupt, and bent on sinning against God.
And as Adam’s nature became corrupt, without God’s implanting or infusing of any evil thing into it; so does the nature of his posterity. God dealing with Adam as the head of his posterity, (as has been shown,) and treating them as one, he deals with his posterity as having all sinned in him. And therefore, as God withdrew spiritual communion, and his vital gracious influence, from the common head, so he withholds the same from all the members, as they come into existence; whereby they come into the world mere flesh, and entirely under the government of natural and inferior principles; and so become wholly corrupt, as Adam did.
Now, for God so far to have the disposal of this affair, as to withhold those influences, without which, nature will be corrupt, is not to be the author of sin. But, concerning this, I must refer the reader to what I have said of it in my discourse on the Freedom of the Will.  Though, besides what I have there said, I may here observe, that if for God so far to order and dispose the being of sin, as to permit it, by withholding the gracious influences necessary to prevent it, is for him to be the author of sin, then some things which Dr. T. himself lays down, will equally be attended with this very consequence. For, from time to time he speaks of God giving men up to the vilest lusts and affections, by permitting, or leaving them.  Now, if the continuance of sin, and its increase and prevalence, may be in consequence of God’s disposal, in withholding needful grace, without God being the author of that continuance and prevalence of sin; then, by parity of reason, may the being of sin, in the race of Adam, be in consequence of Gods disposal, by his withholding that grace which is needful to prevent it, without his being the author of sin.
If here it should be said, that God is not the author of sin, in giving up to sin those who have already made themselves sinful, because when men have once made themselves sinful, their continuing so, and sin prevailing in them, and becoming more and more habitual, will follow in a course of nature: I answer, let that be remembered which this writer so greatly urges, in opposition to them who suppose original corruption comes in a course of nature, viz. That the course of nature is nothing without God. He utterly rejects the notion of the ”course of nature’s being a proper active cause, which will work, and go on by itself, without God, if he lets or permits it.”  But affirms, “That the course of nature, separate from the agency of God, is no cause or nothing; and that the course of nature should continue itself, or go on to operate by itself, any more than at first produce itself, is absolutely impossible.“ These strong expressions are his. Therefore, to explain the continuance of the habits of sin in the same person, when once introduced, yea, to explain the very being of any such habits, in consequence of repeated acts, our author must have recourse to those same principles, which he rejects as absurd to the utmost degree, when alleged to explain the corruption of nature in the posterity of Adam. For, that habits, either good or bad, should continue, after being once established, or that habits should be settled and have existence in consequence of repeated acts, can be owing only to a course of nature, and those laws of nature which God has established.
That the posterity of Adam should be born without holiness, and so with a depraved nature, comes to pass as much by the established course of nature, as the continuance of a corrupt disposition in a particular person, after he once has it; or as much as Adam’s continuing unholy and corrupt, after he had once lost his holiness. For Adam’s posterity are from him, and as it were in him, and belonging to Him, according to an established course of nature, as much as the branches of a tree are, according to a course of nature, from the tree, in the tree, and belonging to the tree; or, (to make use of the comparison which Dr. T. himself chooses from time to time, as proper to illustrate the matter,  ) just as the acorn is derived from the oak. And I think, the acorn is as much derived from the oak, according to the course of nature, as the buds and branches. It is true, that God, by his own almighty power, creates the soul of the infant; and it is also true, as Dr. T. often insists, that God, by his immediate power, forms and fashions the body of the infant in the womb; yet he does both according to that course of nature, which he has been pleased to establish. The course of nature is demonstrated, by late improvements in philosophy, to be indeed what our author himself says it is, viz. Nothing but the established order of the agency and operation of the author of nature. And though there be the immediate agency of God in bringing the soul into existence in generation, yet it is done according to the method and order established by the author of nature, as much as his producing the bud, or the acorn of the oak; and as much as his continuing a particular person in being, after he once has existence. God’s immediate agency in bringing the soul of a child into being, is as much according to an established order, as his immediate agency in any of the works of nature whatsoever. It is agreeable to the established order of nature, that the good qualities wanting in the tree, should also be wanting in the branches and fruit. It is agreeable to the order of nature, that when a particular person is without good moral qualities in his heart, he should continue without them, till some new cause or efficiency produces them. And it is as much agreeable to an established course and order of nature, that since Adam, the head of mankind, the root of that great tree with many branches springing from it, was deprived of original righteousness, the branches should come forth without it. Or, if any dislike the word nature, as used in this last case, and instead of it choose to call it a constitution, or established order of successive events, the alteration of the name will not in the least alter the state of the present argument. Where the name, nature, is allowed without dispute, no more is meant than an established method and order of events, settled and limited by divine wisdom.
If any should object to this, that if the want of original righteousness be thus according to an established course of nature, then why are not principles of holiness, when restored by divine grace, also communicated to posterity; I answer, The divine law and establishments of the author of nature, are precisely settled by him as he pleaseth, and limited by his wisdom. Grace is introduced among the race of man by a new establishment; not on the ground of God’s original establishment, as the head of the natural world, and author of the first creation; but by a constitution of a vastly higher kind; wherein Christ is made the root of the tree, whose branches are his spiritual seed, and 220 he is the head of the new creation; of which I need not stand now to speak particularly.
But here I desire it may be noted, that I do not suppose the natural depravity of the posterity of Adam is owing to the course of nature only; it is also owing to the just judgment of God. But yet I think, it is as truly and in the same manner owing to the course of nature, that Adam’s posterity come into the world without original righteousness, as that Adam himself continued without it, after he had once lost it. That Adam continued destitute of holiness, when he had lost it, and would always have so continued, had it not been restored by a Redeemer, was not only a natural consequence, according to the course of things established by God, as the author of nature; but it was also a penal consequence, or a punishment of his sin. God, in righteous judgment, continued to absent himself from Adam after he became a rebel; and withheld from him now those influences of the Holy Spirit, which he before had. And just thus I suppose it to be with every natural branch of mankind: all are looked upon as sinning in and with their common root; and God righteously withholds special influences and spiritual communications from all, for this sin. But of the manner and order of these things, more may be said in the next chapter.
On the whole, this grand objection against the doctrine of men being born corrupt, that it makes him who gave us our being, to be the cause of the being of corruption, can have no more force in it, than a like argument has to prove, that if men by a course of nature continue wicked, or remain without goodness, after they have by vicious acts contracted vicious habits, and so made themselves wicked, it makes him, who is the cause of their continuance in being, and the cause of the continuance of the course of nature, to be the cause of their continued wickedness. Dr. T. says,  “God would not make any thing that is hateful to him; because, by the very terms, he would hate to make such a thing.” But if this be good arguing in the case to which it is applied, may I not as well say, God would not continue a thing in being that is hateful to him; because, by the very terms, he would hate to continue such a thing in being? I think, the very terms do as much (and no more) infer one of these propositions, as the other. In like manner, the rest that he says on that head may be shown to be unreasonable, by only substituting the word continue, in the place of make and propagate. I may fairly imitate his way of reasoning thus: to say, God continues us according to his own original decree, or law of continuation, which obliges him to continue us in a manner he abhors, is really to make bad worse: for it is supposing him to be defective in wisdom, or by his own decree or law to lay such a constraint upon his own actions, that he cannot do what he would, but is continually doing what he would not, what he hates to do, and what he condemns in us; viz. continuing us sinful when he condemns us for continuing ourselves sinful.” If the reasoning be weak in the one case, it is no less so in the other.
If any shall still insist, that there is a difference between God so disposing things, as that depravity of heart shall be continued, according to the settled course of nature, in the same person, who has by his own fault introduced it; and his so disposing as that men, according to a course of nature, should be born with depravity, in consequence of Adam’s introducing of sin, by his act which we had no concern in, and cannot be justly charged with: on this I would observe, that it is quite going off the objection, which we have been upon, from God’s agency, and flying to another. It is then no longer insisted on, that simply for him, from whose agency the course of nature and our existence derive, so to dispose things as that we should have existence in a corrupt state, is for him to be the author of sin: but the plea now advanced is, that it is not proper and just for such an agent so to dispose, in this case, and only in consequence of Adam’s sin; it not being just to charge Adam’s sin to his posterity. And this matter shall be particularly considered, in answer to the next objection; to which I now proceed.
CHAPTER III. The Imputation of Adam's Sin stated.
THAT GREAT OBJECTION AGAINST THE IMPUTATION OF ADAM’S SIN TO HIS POSTERITY, CONSIDERED, THAT SUCH IMPUTATION IS UNJUST AND UNREASONABLE, INASMUCH AS ADAM AND HIS POSTERITY ARE NOT ONE AND THE SAME. WITH A BRIEF REFLECTION SUBJOINED OF WHAT SOME HAVE SUPPOSED, OF GOD IMPUTING THE GUILT OF ADAM’S SIN TO HIS POSTERITY, BUT IN AN INFINITELY LESS DEGREE THAN TO ADAM HIMSELF.
That we may proceed with the greater clearness in considering the main objections against supposing the guilt of Adam’s sin to be imputed to his posterity; I would premise some observations with a view to the right stating of the doctrine; and then show its reasonableness, in opposition to the great clamour raised against it on this head.
I think, it would go far towards directing us to the more clear conception and right statement of this affair, were we steadily to bear this in mind: that God, in every step of his proceeding with Adam, in relation to the covenant or constitution established with him, looked on his posterity as being one with him. And though he dealt more immediately with Adam, it yet was as the head of the whole body, and the root of the whole tree; and in his proceedings with him, he dealt with all the branches, as if they had been then existing in their root.
From which it will follow, that both guilt, or exposedness to punishment, and also depravity of heart, came upon Adam’s posterity just as they came upon him, as much as if he and they had all co-existed, like a tree with many branches; allowing only for the difference necessarily resulting from the place Adam stood in, as head or root of the whole. Otherwise, it is as if, in every step of proceeding, every alteration in the root had been attended, at the same instant, with the same alterations throughout the whole tree, in each individual branch. I think, this will naturally follow on the supposition of there being a constituted oneness or identity of Adam and his posterity in this affair.
Therefore I am humbly of opinion, that if any have supposed the children of Adam to come into the world with a double guilt, one the guilt of Adam’s sin, another the guilt arising from their having a corrupt heart, they have not so well conceived of the matter. The guilt a man has upon his soul at first existence, is one and simple, viz. the guilt of the original apostacy, the guilt of the sin by which the species first rebelled against God. This, and the guilt arising from the depraved disposition of the heart, are not to be looked upon as two things, distinctly imputed and charged upon men in the sight of God. Indeed the guilt that arises from the corruption of the heart, as it remains a confirmed principle, and appears in its consequent operations, is a distinct and additional guilt: but the guilt arising from the first existing of a depraved disposition in Adam’s posterity, I apprehend, is not distinct from their guilt of Adam’s first sin. For so it was not in Adam himself. The first evil disposition or inclination of Adam to sin, was not properly distinct from his first act of sin, but was included in it. The external act he committed was no otherwise his, than as his heart was in it, or as that action proceeded from the wicked inclination of his heart. Nor was the guilt he had double, as for two distinct sins: one, the wickedness of his will in that affair; another, the wickedness of the external act, caused by it. His guilt was all truly from the act of his inward man; exclusive of which the motions of his body were no more than the motions of any lifeless instrument. His sin consisted in wickedness of heart, fully sufficient for, and entirely amounting to, all that appeared in the act he committed.
The depraved disposition of Adam’s heart is to be considered two ways. (1.) As the first rising of an evil inclination in his heart, exerted in his first act of sin, and the ground of the complete transgression. (2.) An evil disposition of heart continuing afterwards, as a confirmed principle that came by God’s forsaking of him; which was a 221 punishment of his first transgression. This confirmed corruption, by its remaining and continued operation, brought additional guilt on his soul.
In like manner, depravity of heart is to be considered two ways in Adam’s posterity. The first listing of a corrupt disposition, is not to be looked upon as sin distinct from their participation of Adam’s first sin. It is as it were the extended pollution of that sin, through the whole tree, by virtue of the constituted union of the branches with the root; or the inherence of the sin of that head of the species in the members, in their consent and concurrence with the head in that first act. But the depravity of nature remaining as an established principle in a child of Adam, and as exhibited in after-operations, is a consequence and punishment of the first apostacy thus participated, and brings new guilt. The first being of an evil disposition in a child of Adam, whereby he is disposed to approve the sin of his first father, so far as to imply a full and perfect consent of heart to it, I think, is not to be looked upon as a consequence of the imputation of that first sin, any more than the full consent of Adam’s own heart in the act of sinning; which was not consequent on the imputation, but rather prior to it in the order of nature. Indeed the derivation or the evil disposition to Adam’s posterity, or rather, the co-existence of the evil disposition, implied in Adam’s first rebellion, in the root and branches, is a consequence of the union that the wise Author of the world has established between Adam and his posterity; but not properly a consequence of the imputation of his sin; nay, is rather antecedent to it, as it was in Adam himself. The first depravity of heart, and the imputation of that sin, are both the consequences of that established union; but yet in such order, that the evil disposition is first, and the charge of guilt consequent, as it was in the case of Adam himself. 
The first existence of an evil disposition, amounting to a full consent to Adam’s sin, no more infers God being the author of that evil disposition in the child, than in the father. The first arising or existing of that evil disposition in the heart of Adam, was by God’s permission; who could have prevented it, if he had pleased, by giving such influences of his Spirit, as would have been absolutely effectual to hinder it; which, it is plain in fact, he did withhold: and whatever mystery may be supposed in the affair, yet no Christian will presume to say, it was not in perfect consistence with God’s holiness and righteousness, notwithstanding Adam had been guilty of no offence before. So root and branches being one, according to God’s wise constitution, the case in fact is, that by virtue of this oneness answerable changes or effects through all the branches co-exist with the changes in the root: consequently an evil disposition exists in the hearts of Adam’s posterity, equivalent to that which was exerted in his own heart, when he eat the forbidden fruit. Which God has no hand in, any otherwise, than in not exerting such an influence, as might be effectual to prevent it; as appears by what was observed in the former chapter. 
But now the grand objection is against the reasonableness of such a constitution, by which Adam and his posterity should be looked upon as one, and dealt with accordingly, in an affair of such infinite consequence; so that if Adam sinned, they must necessarily be made sinners by his disobedience, and come into existence with the same depravity of disposition, and be looked upon and treated as though they were partakers with him in his act of sin. I have not room here to rehearse all Dr. T.‘s vehement exclamations against the reasonableness and justice of this. The reader may at his leisure consult his book, and see them in the places referred to below.  Whatever black colours and frightful representations are employed on this occasion, all may be summed up in this, That Adam and his posterity are not one, but entirely distinct agents. But with respect to this mighty outcry made against the reasonableness of any such constitution, by which God is supposed to treat Adam and his posterity as one, I would make the following observations.
I. It signifies nothing to exclaim against plain fact. Such is the fact, the most evident and acknowledged fact, with respect to the state of all mankind, without exception of one individual among all the natural descendants of Adam, as makes it apparent, that God actually deals with Adam and his posterity as one, in reference to his apostacy, and its infinitely terrible consequences. It has been demonstrated, and shewn to be in effect plainly acknowledged, that every individual of mankind comes into the world in such circumstances, as that there is no hope or possibility of any other than their violating God’s holy law, (if they ever live to act at all as moral agents,) and being thereby justly exposed to eternal ruin.  And God either thus deals with mankind, because he looks upon 222 them as one with their first father, and so treats them as sinful and guilty by his apostacy; or (which will not mend the matter) he, without viewing them as at all concerned in that affair, but as in every respect perfectly innocent, subjects them nevertheless to this infinitely dreadful calamity. Adam by his sin was exposed to the calamities and sorrows of this life, to temporal death and eternal ruin; as is confessed. And it is also in effect confessed, that all his posterity come into the world in such a state, as that the certain consequence is their being exposed, and justly so, to the sorrows of this life, to temporal death and eternal ruin, unless saved by grace. So that we see, God in fact deals with them together, or as one. If God orders the consequences of Adam’s sin, with regard to his posterity’s welfare—even in those things which are most important, and which in the highest degree concern their eternal interest— to be the same with the consequences to Adam himself, then he treats Adam and his posterity as one in that affair. Hence, however the matter be attended with difficulty, fact obliges us to get over it, either by finding out some solution, or by shutting our mouths, and acknowledging the weakness and scantiness of our understandings; as we must in other innumerable cases, where apparent and undeniable fact, in God’s works of creation and providence, is attended with events and circumstances, the manner and reason of which are difficult to our understandings.—But to proceed.
II. We will consider the difficulties themselves, insisted on in the objections of our opposers. They may be reduced to these two: First, That such a constitution is injurious to Adam’s posterity. Secondly, That it is altogether improper, as it implies falsehood, viewing and treating those as one, which indeed are not one, but entirely distinct.
First difficulty, That appointing Adam to stand, in this great affair, as the moral head of his posterity, and so treating them as one with him, as standing or falling with him, is injurious to them. To which I answer, it is demonstrably otherwise; that such a constitution was so far from being injurious to Adam’s posterity, any more than if every one had been appointed to stand for himself personally, that it was, in itself considered, attended with a more eligible probability of a happy issue than the latter would have been: and so a constitution that truly expresses the goodness of its Author. For,
1. It is reasonable to suppose, that Adam was as likely, on account of his capacity and natural talents, to persevere in obedience, as his posterity, (taking one with another,) if they had all been put on the trial singly for themselves. And supposing that there was a constituted union or oneness of him and his posterity, and that he stood as a public person, or common head, all by this constitution would have been as sure to partake of the benefit of his obedience, as of the ill consequence of his disobedience, in case of his fall.
2. There was a greater tendency to a happy issue, in such an appointment, than if every one had been appointed to stand for himself; especially on two accounts. (1.) That Adam had stronger motives to watchfulness than his posterity would have had; in that not only his own eternal welfare lay at stake, but also that of all his posterity: (2.) Adam was in a state of complete manhood, when his trial began. It was a constitution very agreeable to the goodness of God, considering the state of mankind, which was to be propagated in the way of generation, that their first father should be appointed to stand for all. For by reason of the manner of their coming into existence in a state of infancy, and their coming so gradually to mature state, and so remaining for a great while in a state of childhood and comparative imperfection, after they were become moral agents, they would be less fit to stand for themselves, than their first lather to stand for them.
If any man, notwithstanding these things, shall say, that for his own part, if the affair had been proposed to him, he should have chosen to have had his eternal interest trusted in his own hands: it is sufficient to answer, that no man’s vain opinion of himself, as more fit to be trusted than others, alters the true nature and tendency of things, as they demonstrably are in themselves. Nor is it a just objection, that this constitution has in event proved for the hurt of mankind. For it does not follow, that no advantage was given for a happy event, in such an establishment, because it was not such as to make it utterly impossible there should be any other event.
3. The goodness of God in such a constitution with Adam appears in this: that if there had been no sovereign gracious establishment at all, but God had proceeded only on the basis of mere justice, and had gone no further than this required, he might have demanded of Adam and all his posterity, that they should perform perfect perpetual obedience, without ever failing in the least instance, on pain of eternal death; and might have made this demand without the promise of any positive reward for their obedience. For perfect obedience is a debt, that every one owes to his Creator; and therefore is what his Creator was not obliged to pay him for. None is obliged to pay his debtor for discharging his just debt.—But such was evidently the constitution with Adam, that an eternal happy life was to be the consequence of his persevering fidelity, to all such as were included within that constitution, (of which the tree of life was a sign,) as well as eternal death to be the consequence of his disobedience.—I come now to consider the
Second difficulty.—It being thus manifest, that this constitution, by which Adam and his posterity are dealt with as one, is not unreasonable on account of its being injurious and hurtful to the interest of mankind, the only thing remaining in the objection, against such a constitution, is the impropriety of it, as implying falsehood, and contradiction to the true nature of things; as hereby they are viewed and treated as one, who are not one, but wholly distinct; and no arbitrary constitution can ever make that to be true, which in itself considered is not true.
This objection, however specious, is really founded on a false hypothesis, and wrong notion of what we call sameness or oneness, among created things; and the seeming force of the objection arises from ignorance or inconsideration of the degree, in which created identity or oneness with past existence, in general, depends on the sovereign constitution and law of the supreme Author and Disposer of the universe.
Some things are entirely distinct, and very diverse, which yet are so united by the established law of the Creator, that by virtue of that establishment, they are in a sense one. Thus a tree, grown great, and a hundred years old, is one plant with the little sprout, that first came out of the ground from whence it grew, and has been continued in constant succession; though it is now so exceeding diverse, many thousand times bigger, and of a very different form, and perhaps not one atom the very same: yet God, according to an established law of nature, has in a constant succession communicated to it many of the same qualities, and most important properties, as if it were one. It has been his pleasure, to constitute an union in these respects, and for these purposes, naturally leading us to look upon all as one.—So the body of man at forty years of age, is one with the infant body which first came into the world, from whence it grew; though now constituted of different substance, and the greater part of the substance probably changed scores (if not hundreds) of times: and though it be now in so many respects exceeding diverse, yet God, according to the course of nature, which he has been pleased to establish, has caused, that in a certain method it should communicate with that infantile body, in the same life, the same senses, the same features, and many the same qualities, and in union with the same soul; and so, with regard to these purposes, it is dealt with by him as one body. Again, the body and soul of a man are one, in a very different manner, and for different purposes. Considered in themselves, they are exceeding different beings, of a nature as diverse as can be conceived; and yet, by a very peculiar divine constitution, or law of nature, which God has been pleased to establish, they are strongly united, and become one, in most important respects; a wonderful mutual communication is established; so that both become different parts of the same man. But the union and mutual communication they have, has existence, and is entirely regulated and limited, according to the sovereign pleasure of God, and the constitution he has been pleased to establish.
223 And if we come even to the personal identity of created intelligent beings, though this be not allowed to consist wholly in what Mr. Locke supposes, i. e. Same consciousness; yet I think it cannot be denied, that this is one thing essential to it. But it is evident, that the communication or continuance of the same consciousness and memory to any subject, through successive parts of duration, depends wholly on a divine establishment. There would be no necessity, that the remembrance and ideas of what is past should continue to exist, but by an arbitrary constitution of the Creator.—If any should here insist, that there is no need of having recourse to any such constitution, in order to account for the continuance of the same consciousness; and should say, that the very nature of the soul is such as will sufficiently account for it, its ideas and consciousness being retained, according to the course of nature: then let it be remembered, who it is that gives the soul this nature; and let that be remembered, which Dr. T. says of the course of nature, before observed; denying, that the course of nature is a proper active cause, which will work and go on by itself without God, if he lets and permits it; saying, that the course of nature, separate from the agency of God, is no cause, or nothing; and affirming, that it is absolutely impossible, the course of nature should continue itself, or go on to operate by itself, any more than produce itself;  and that God, the original of all being, is the only cause of all natural effects.  Here it is worthy also to be observed, what Dr. Turnbull says of the laws of nature, as cited from Sir Isaac Newton.  “It is the will of the mind that is the first cause, that gives subsistence and efficacy to all those laws, who is the efficient cause that produces the phenomena, which appear in analogy, harmony, and agreement. according to these laws.“ And, “the same principles must take place in things pertaining to moral as well as natural philosophy.” 
From these things it will clearly follow, that identity of consciousness depends wholly on a law of nature; and so, on the sovereign will and agency of GOD. And therefore, that personal identity, and so the derivation of the pollution and guilt of past sins in the same person, depends on an arbitrary divine constitution; and this, even though we should allow the same consciousness not to be the only thing which constitutes oneness of person, but should, besides that, suppose sameness of substance requisite. For, if same consciousness be one thing necessary to personal identity, and this depends on God’s sovereign constitution, it will still follow that personal identity depends on God’s sovereign constitution.
And with respect to the identity of created substance itself, in the different moments of its duration, I think we shall greatly mistake, if we imagine it to be like that absolute, independent identity of the first being, whereby he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Nay, on the contrary, it may be demonstrated, that even this oneness of created substance, existing at different times, is a merely dependent identity; dependent on the pleasure and sovereign constitution of him who worketh all in all. This will follow from what is generally allowed, and is certainly true, that God not only created all things, and gave them being at first, but continually preserves them, and upholds them in being. This being a matter of considerable importance, it may be worthy here to be considered with a little attention. Let us inquire therefore, in the first place, whether it be not evident, that God does continually, by his immediate power, uphold every created substance in being; and then let us see the consequence.
That God does, by his immediate power, uphold every created substance in being, will be manifest, if we consider that their present existence is a dependent existence, and therefore is an effect and must have some cause; and the cause must be one of these two; either the antecedent existence of the same substance, or else the power of the Creator. But it cannot be the antecedent existence of the same substance. For instance, the existence of the body of the moon, at this present moment, cannot be the effect of its existence at the last foregoing moment. For not only was what existed the last moment, no active cause, but wholly a passive thing; but this also is to be considered, that no cause can produce effects in a time and place in which itself is not. It is plain, nothing can exert itself, or operate, when and where it is not existing. But the moon’s past existence was neither where nor when its present existence is. In point of time, what is past entirely ceases, when present existence begins; otherwise it would not be past. The past moment has ceased, and is gone, when the present moment takes place; and no more coexists with it, than any other moment that had ceased, twenty years ago. Nor could the past existence of the particles of this moving body produce effects in any other place, than where it then was. But its existence at the present moment, in every point of it, is in a different place, from where its existence was at the last preceding moment. From these things, I suppose, it will certainly follow, that the present existence, either of this, or any other created substance, cannot be an effect of its past existence. The existences (so to speak) of an effect, or thing dependent, in different parts of space or duration, though ever so near one to another, do not at all co-exist one with the other; and therefore are as truly different effects, as if those parts of space and duration were ever so far asunder. And the prior existence can no more be the proper cause of the new existence, in the next moment, or next part of space, than if it had been in an age before, or at a thousand miles’ distance, without any existence to fill up the intermediate time or space. Therefore the existence of created substances, in each successive moment, must be the effect of the immediate agency, will, and power of god.
If any shall insist upon it, that their present existence is the effect or consequence of past existence, according to the nature of things; that the established course of nature is sufficient to continue existence once given; I allow it. But then it should be remembered, what nature is in created things; and what the established course of nature is; that, as has been observed already, it is nothing, separate from the agency of God; and that, as Dr. T. says, god, the original of all being, is the only cause of all natural effects. A father, according to the course of nature, begets a child; an oak, according to the course of nature, produces an acorn, or a bud; so according to the course of nature, the former existence of the trunk of the tree is followed by its new or present existence. In one case, and the other, the new effect is consequent on the former, only by the established laws and settled course of nature; which is allowed to be nothing but the continued immediate efficiency of god, according to a constitution that he has been pleased to establish. Therefore, according to what our author urges, as the child and the acorn which come into existence according to the course of nature, in consequence of the prior existence and state of the parent and the oak, are truly immediately created by God; so must the existence of each created person and thing, at each moment, be from the immediate continued creation of God. It will certainly follow from these things, that God’s preserving of created things in being, is perfectly equivalent to a continued creation, or to his creating those things out of nothing at each moment of their existence. If the continued existence of created things be wholly dependent on God’s preservation, then those things would drop into nothing upon the ceasing of the present moment, without a new exertion of the divine power to cause them to exist in the following moment.  If there be any who own, that God preserves things in being, and yet hold that they would continue in 224 being without any further help from him, after they once have existence; I think, it is hard to know what they mean. To what purpose can it be, to talk of God preserving things in being, when there is no need of his preserving them? Or to talk of their being dependent on God for continued existence, when they would of themselves continue to exist, without his help; nay, though he should wholly withdraw his sustaining power and influence?
It will follow from what has been observed, that God’s upholding of created substance, or causing of its existence in each successive moment, is altogether equivalent to an immediate production out of nothing, at each moment. Because its existence at this moment is not merely in part from God, but wholly from him; and not in any part, or degree, from its antecedent existence. For, to suppose that its antecedent existence concurs with God in efficiency, to produce some part of the effect, is attended with all the very same absurdities, which have been shown to attend the supposition of its producing it wholly. Therefore the antecedent existence is nothing, as to any proper influence or assistance in the affair: and consequently God produces the effect as much from nothing, as if there had been nothing before. So that this effect differs not at all from the first creation, but only circumstantially; as, in the first creation there had been no such act and effect of God’s power before: whereas, his giving existence afterwards, follows preceding acts and effects of the same kind, in an established order.
Now, in the next place, let us see how the consequence of these things is to my present purpose. If the existence of created substance, in each successive moment, be wholly the effect of God’s immediate power, in that moment, without any dependence on prior existence, as much as the first creation out of nothing, then what exists at this moment, by this power, is a new effect; and simply and absolutely considered, not the same with any past existence, though it be like it, and follows it according to a certain established method.  And there is no identity or oneness in the case, but what depends on the arbitrary constitution of the Creator; who by his wise sovereign establishment so unites these successive new effects, that he treats them as one, by communicating to them like properties, relations, and circumstances; and so, leads us to regard and treat them as one. When I call this an arbitrary constitution, I mean, that it is a constitution which depends on nothing but the divine will; which divine will depends on nothing but the divine wisdom. In this sense, the whole course of nature, with all that belongs to it, all its laws and methods, constancy and regularity, continuance and proceeding, is an arbitrary constitution. In this sense, the continuance of the very being of the world and all its parts, as well as the manner of continued being, depends entirely on an arbitrary constitution. For it does not at all necessarily follow, that because there was sound, or light, or colour, or resistance, or gravity, or thought, or consciousness, or any other dependent thing the last moment, that therefore there shall be the like at the next. All dependent existence whatsoever is in a constant flux, ever passing and returning; renewed every moment, as the colours of bodies are every moment renewed by the light that shines upon them; and all is constantly proceeding from god, as light from the sun. In him we live, and move, and have our being.
Thus it appears, if we consider matters strictly, there is no such thing as any identity or oneness in created objects, existing at different times, but what depends on God’s sovereign constitution. And so it appears, that the objection we are upon, made against a supposed divine constitution, whereby Adam and his posterity are viewed and treated as one, in the manner and for the purposes supposed—as if it were not consistent with truth, because no constitution can make those to be one, which are not one—is built on a false hypothesis: for it appears, that a divine constitution is what makes truth, in affairs of this nature. The objection supposes, there is a oneness in created beings, whence qualities and relations are derived down from past existence, distinct from, and prior to, any oneness that can be supposed to be founded on divine constitution. Which is demonstrably false; and sufficiently appears so from things conceded by the adversaries themselves: and therefore the objection wholly falls to the ground.
There are various kinds of identity and oneness, found among created things, by which they become one in different manners, respects, and degrees, and to various purposes; 225 several of which differences have been observed; and every kind is ordered, regulated, and limited, in every respect, by divine constitution. Some things, existing in different times and places, are treated by their Creator as one in one respect, and others in another; some are united for this communication, and others for that; but all according to the sovereign pleasure of the fountain of all being and operation.
It appears, particularly, from what has been said, that all oneness, by virtue whereof pollution and guilt from past wickedness are derived, depends entirely on a divine establishment. It is this, and this only, that must account for guilt and an evil taint on any individual soul, in consequence of a crime committed twenty or forty years ago, remaining still, and even to the end of the world, and for ever. It is this that must account for the continuance of any such thing, and where, as consciousness of acts that are past; and for the continuance of all habits, either good or bad: and on this depends every thing that can belong to personal identity. And all communications, derivations, or continuation of qualities, properties, or relations, natural or moral, from what is past, as if the subject were one, depends on no other foundation.
And I am persuaded, that no solid reason can be given, why God—who constitutes all other created union or oneness according to his pleasure, and for what purposes, communications, and effects he pleases—may not establish a constitution whereby the natural posterity of Adam, proceeding from him, much as the buds and branches from the stock or root of a tree, should be treated as one with him, for the derivation, either of righteousness, and communion in rewards, or of the loss of righteousness, and consequent corruption and guilt. 
As I said before, all oneness in created things, whence qualities and relations are derived, depends on a divine constitution that is arbitrary, in every other respect, excepting that it is regulated by divine wisdom. The wisdom which is exercised in these constitutions, appears in these two things. First, in a beautiful analogy and harmony with other laws or constitutions, especially, relating to the same subject; and secondly, in the good ends obtained, or useful consequences of such a constitution. If therefore there be any objection still lying against this constitution with Adam and his posterity, it must be, that it is not sufficiently wise in these respects. But what extreme arrogance would it be in us, to take upon us to act as judges of the beauty and wisdom of the laws and established constitutions of the supreme Lord and Creator of the universe! And not only so, but if this constitution, in particular, be well considered, its wisdom, in the two forementioned respects, may easily be made evident. There is an apparent manifold analogy to other constitutions and laws, established and maintained through the whole system of vital nature in this lower world; all parts of which, in all successions, are derived from the first of the kind, as from their root, or fountain; each deriving from thence all properties and qualities, that are proper to the nature and capacity of the species: no derivative having any one perfection, unless it be what is merely circumstantial, but what was in its primitive. And that Adam’s posterity should be without that original righteousness, which Adam had lost, is also analogous to other laws and establishments, relating to the nature of mankind; according to which, Adam’s posterity have no one perfection of nature, in any kind, superior to what was in him, when the human race began to be propagated from him.
And as such a constitution was fit and wise in other respects, so it was in this that follows. Seeing the divine constitution concerning the manner of mankind coming into existence, was such as did so naturally unite them, and make them in so many respects one, naturally leading them to a close union in society, and manifold intercourse, and mutual dependence—things were wisely so established, that all should naturally be in one and the same moral state; and not in such exceeding different states, as that some should be perfectly innocent and holy, but others corrupt and wicked; some needing a Saviour, but others needing none; some in a confirmed state of perfect happiness, but others in a state of public condemnation to perfect and eternal misery; some justly exposed to great calamities in this world, but others by their innocence raised above all suffering. Such a vast diversity of state would by no means have agreed with the natural and necessary constitution and unavoidable situation and circumstances of the world of mankind; all made of one blood, to dwell on all the face of the earth, to be united and blended in society, and to partake together in the natural and common goods and evils of this lower world.
Dr. T. urges,  that sorrow and shame are only for personal sin; and it has often been urged, that repentance can be for no other sin. To which I would say, that the use of words is very arbitrary: but that men’s hearts should be deeply affected with grief and humiliation before God, for the pollution and guilt which they bring into the world with them, I think, is not in the least unreasonable. Nor is it a thing strange and unheard of, that men should be ashamed of things done by others, in whom they are nearly concerned. I am sure, it is not unscriptural; especially when they are justly looked upon in the sight of God, who sees the disposition of their hearts, as fully consenting and concurring.
From what has been observed it may appear, there is no sure ground to conclude, that it must be an absurd and impossible thing, for the race of mankind truly to partake of the sin of the first apostacy, so as that this, in reality and propriety, shall become their sin; by virtue of a real union between the root and branches of mankind, (truly and properly availing to such a consequence,) established by the author of the whole system of the universe; to whose establishments are owing all propriety and reality of union, in any part of that system; and by virtue of the full consent of the hearts of Adam’s posterity to that first apostacy. And therefore the sin of the apostacy is not theirs, merely because God imputes it to them; but it is truly and properly theirs, and on that ground God imputes it to them.
By reason of the established union between
Adam and his posterity, the case is far otherwise between him and them,
than it is between distinct parts or individuals of Adam’s race;
betwixt whom is no such constituted union: as, between children and other ancestors. Concerning whom is apparently to be understood that place,
what is said here, there is a special respect to the
gospel-dispensation; as is greatly confirmed by comparing this place
On the whole, if any do not like the philosophy or the metaphysics (as some perhaps may choose to call it) made use of in the foregoing reasonings; yet I cannot doubt, but that a proper consideration of what is apparent and undeniable in fact, with respect to the dependence of the state and course of things in the universe on the sovereign constitutions of the supreme Author and Lord of all—who gives account to none of any of his matters, and whose ways are past finding out—will be sufficient, with persons of common modesty and sobriety, to stop their mouths from making peremptory decisions against the justice of God, respecting what is so plainly and fully taught in his holy word, concerning; the derivation of depravity and guilt from Adam to his posterity.
This is enough, one would think, for ever to silence such bold expressions as these—“If this be just,—if the Scriptures teach such doctrine, &c. then the Scriptures are of no use—understanding is no understanding,—and, what a god must he be, that can thus curse innocent creatures!— Is this thy god, o Christian!”—&c. &c.
It may not be improper here to add something (by way of supplement to this chapter, in which we have had occasion to say so much about the imputation of Adam’s sin) concerning the opinions of two divines, of no inconsiderable note among the dissenters in England, relating to a partial imputation of Adam’s first sin.
One of them supposes, that this sin, though truly imputed to infants, so that thereby they are exposed to a proper punishment, yet is not imputed to them in such a degree, as that upon this account they should be liable to eternal punishment, as Adam himself was, but only to temporal death, or annihilation; Adam himself, the immediate actor, being made infinitely more guilty by it, than his posterity. On which I would observe; that to suppose, God imputes not all the guilt of Adam’s sin, but only some little part of it, relieves nothing but one’s imagination. To think of poor little infants bearing such torments for Adam’s sin, as they sometimes do in this world, and these torments ending in death and annihilation, may sit easier on the imagination, than to conceive of their suffering eternal misery for it. But it does not at all relieve one’s reason. There is no rule of reason, that can be supposed to lie against imputing a sin in the whole of it, which was committed by one, to another who did not personally commit it, but what will also lie against its being so imputed and punished in part. For all the reasons (if there be any) lie against the imputation; not the quantity or degree of what is imputed. If there be any rule of reason, that is strong and good, lying against a proper derivation or communication of guilt, from one that acted, to another that did not act; then it lies against all that is of this nature. The force of the reasons brought against imputing Adam’s sin to his posterity (if there be any force in them) lies in this, That Adam and his posterity are not one. But this lies as properly against charging a part of the guilt, as the whole. For Adam’s posterity, by not being the same with him, had no more hand in a little of what was done, than the whole. They were as absolutely free from being concerned in that act partly, as they were wholly. And there is no reason to be brought, why one man’s sin cannot be justly reckoned to another’s account, who was not then in being, in the whole of it; but what will as properly lie against its being reckoned to him in any part, so as that he should be subject to any condemnation or punishment on that account. If those reasons are good, all the difference is this; that to bring a great punishment on infants for Adam’s sin, is a great act of injustice, and to bring a comparatively smaller punishment, is a smaller act of injustice; but not, that this is not as truly and demonstrably an act of injustice, as the other.
To illustrate this by an instance something parallel. It is used as an argument why I may not exact from one of my neighbours, what was due to me from another, that he and my debtor are not the same; and that their concerns, interests, and properties are entirely distinct. Now if this argument be good, it lies as truly against my demanding from him a part of the debt, as the whole, indeed it is a greater act of injustice for me to take from him the whole of it, than a part; but not more truly and certainly an act of injustice.
The other divine thinks, there is truly an imputation of Adam’s sin, so that infants cannot be looked upon as innocent creatures; yet seems to think it not agreeable to the perfections of God, to make the state of infants in another world worse than a state of non-existence. But this to me appears plainly a giving up of that grand point of imputation, both in whole and in part. For it supposes it to be not right, for God to bring any evil on a child of Adam, which is innocent as to personal sin, without paying for it, or balancing it with good; so that still the state of the child shall be as good as could be demanded in justice, in case of mere innocence. Which plainly supposes, that the child is not exposed to any proper punishment at all, or is not at all in debt to divine justice, on account of Adam’s sin. For if the child were truly in debt, then surely justice might take something from him, without paying for it, or without giving that which makes its state as good, as mere innocence could in justice require. If he owes the suffering of some punishment, then there is no need that justice should requite the infant for suffering that punishment; or make up for it, by conferring some good, that shall countervail it, and in effect remove and disannul it; so that, on the whole, good and evil shall be at even balance, yea, so that the scale of good shall preponderate. If it is unjust in a judge, to order any quantity of money to be taken from another, without paying him again, and fully making it up to him, it must be because he had justly forfeited none at all.
It seems to me pretty manifest, that none can, in good consistence with themselves, own a real imputation of the guilt of Adam’s first sin to his posterity, without owning that they are justly treated as sinners, truly guilty, and children of wrath, on that account; nor unless they allow a just imputation of the whole of the evil of that transgression; at least, all that pertains to the essence of that act, as a full and complete violation of the covenant, which God had established; even as much as if each one of 227 mankind had the like covenant established with him singly, and had by the like direct and full act of rebellion, violated it for himself.
CHAPTER IV. Several other Objections answered.
WHEREIN SEVERAL OTHER OBJECTIONS ARE CONSIDERED.
Dr. T. objects against Adam’s posterity being supposed to come into the world under a forfeiture of God’s blessing, and subject to his curse through his sin,—That at the restoration of the world after the flood, God pronounced equivalent or greater blessings on Noah and his sons, than he did on Adam at his creation, when he said, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, &c.*—To this I answer, in the following remarks.
1. As has been already shown, that in the threatening denounced for Adam’s sin, there was nothing which appears inconsistent with the continuance of this present life for a season, or with propagating his kind; so for the like reason, there appears nothing in that threatening, upon the supposition that it reached Adam’s posterity, inconsistent with enjoying the temporal blessings of the present life, as long as this is continued; even those temporal blessings which God pronounced on Adam at his first creation. For it must be observed, that the blessings which God pronounced on Adam when he created him, and before the trial of his obedience, were not the same with the blessings which were suspended on his obedience. The blessings thus suspended, were the blessings of eternal life; which, if he had maintained his integrity through his trial, would have been pronounced upon him afterwards; when God, as his judge, should have given him his reward. God might indeed, if he had pleased, immediately have deprived him of life, and of all temporal blessings, given him before. But those blessings pronounced on him before-hand, were not the things for the obtaining of which his trial was appointed. These were reserved till the issue of his trial should be seen, and then to be pronounced in the blessed sentence, which would have been passed upon him by his judge, when God came to decree to him his reward for his approved fidelity. The pronouncing of these latter blessings on a degenerate race, that had fallen under the threatening denounced, would indeed (without a redemption) have been inconsistent with the constitution which had been established. But giving them the former kind of blessings, which were not the things suspended on the trial, or dependent on his fidelity, (and these to be continued for a season,) was not at all inconsistent therewith.
2. It is no more an evidence of Adam’s posterity being not included in the threatening denounced for his eating the forbidden fruit, That they still have the temporal blessings of fruitfulness, and a dominion over the creatures, continued to them; than it is an evidence of Adam being not included in that threatening himself, That he had these blessings continued to him, was fruitful, and had dominion over the creatures, after his fall, equally with his posterity.
3. There is good evidence, that the benedictions God pronounced on Noah and his posterity, were granted on a new foundation; a dispensation diverse from any grant, promise, or revelation, which God gave to Adam, antecedently to his fall; even on the foundation of the covenant of grace, established in Christ Jesus; a dispensation, the design of which is to deliver men from the curse that came upon them by Adam’s
sin, and to bring them to greater blessings than ever he had.
These blessings were pronounced on Noah and his seed, on the same
foundation whereon afterwards the blessing was pronounced on Abraham and his seed, which included both spiritual and temporal benefits.—Noah had his name prophetically given him by his father Lamech, because by him and his seed deliverance should be obtained from the curse, which came by Adam’s fall.
But beside the sense in which the posterity of Noah in general partake of these blessings of dominion over the creatures, &c. Noah himself, and all such of his posterity as have obtained like precious faith with that exercised by him in offering his sacrifice, which made it a sweet savour, and by which it procured these blessings, have dominion over the creatures, through Christ, in a more excellent sense than Adam
in innocency; as they are made kings and priests unto God, and reign with Christ, and all things are theirs, by a covenant of grace. They partake with Christ in that dominion over the beasts of the earth, the fowls of the air, and fishes of the sea, spoken of in
But that Noah’s posterity have such blessings given them through the great Redeemer, who suspends and removes the curse which came through Adam’s sin, surely is no argument, that they originally, as in their natural state, are not under the curse. That men have blessings through grace, is no evidence of their being not justly exposed to the curse by nature; but it rather argues the contrary. For if they did not deserve the curse, they would not depend on grace and redemption for the removal of it, and for bringing them into a state of favour with God.
Another objection, which our author strenuously urges against the doctrine of original sin, is, that it disparages the divine goodness in giving us our being; which we ought to receive with thankfulness, as a great gift of God’s beneficence, and look upon as the first, original, and fundamental fruit of the divine liberality. 
To this I answer, in the following observations:
1. This argument is built on the supposed truth of a thing in dispute; and so is a begging of the question. It is built on this supposition, that we are not properly looked upon as one with our first father, in the state wherein God at first created him, and in his fall from that state. If we are so, it becomes the whole race to acknowledge God’s great goodness to them, in the state wherein mankind was made at
first; in the happy state they were then in, and the fair
opportunity they then had of obtaining confirmed and eternal happiness;
and to acknowledge it as an aggravation of their apostacy; and to
humble themselves, that they were so ungrateful as to rebel against
their good Creator. Certainly, we may all do this with as much reason,
as the people of Israel in Daniel’s and Nehemiah’s times who did with
thankfulness acknowledge God’s great goodness to
their fathers, many ages before; and in their confessions they bewailed, and took shame to themselves, for the sins committed by their fathers, notwithstanding such great goodness. (See
2. If Dr. T. would imply in his objection, that it doth not consist with the goodness of God, to give mankind being in a state of misery, what ever was done before by Adam, whether he sinned or did not sin. I reply, if it be justly so ordered, that there should be a posterity of Adam, which must be looked upon as one with him; then it is no more contrary to God’s attribute of goodness to give being to his posterity in a state of punishment, than to continue the being of the same wicked and guilty person, who has made himself guilty, in a state of punishment. The giving of being, and the continuing of being, are both alike the work of God’s power and will, and both are alike fundamental to all blessings of man’s present and future existence. And if it be said, it cannot be justly so ordered, that there should be a posterity of Adam, which should be looked upon as one with him, this is begging the question.
3. If our author would have us to suppose, that it is contrary to the attribute of goodness for God, in any case, by an immediate act of his power, to cause evidence, and to cause new existence, which shall be an exceeding miserable existence, by reason of exposedness to eternal ruin; then his own scheme must be supposed contrary to the attribute of God’s goodness: for he supposes that God will raise multitudes from the dead at the last day (which will be giving new existence to their bodies, and to bodily life and sense) in order only to their suffering eternal destruction.
4. Notwithstanding we are so sinful and miserable, as we are by nature, yet we may have great reason to bless God, that he has given us our being under so glorious a dispensation of grace through Jesus Christ: by which we have a happy opportunity to be delivered from this sin and misery, and to obtain unspeakable eternal happiness. And because, through our own wicked inclinations, we are disposed so to neglect and abuse this mercy, as to fail of final benefit by it, this is no reason why we ought not to be thankful for it, even according to our author’s own sentiments. What (says he  ) if the whole world lies in wickedness, and few therefore shall be saved? Have men no reason to be thankful, because they are wicked and ungrateful, and abuse their being and God’s bounty? Suppose our own evil inclinations do withhold us, viz. from seeking after happiness, of which under the light of the gospel we are placed within the nearer and easier reach, “suppose, the whole Christian world should lie in wickedness, and but few Christians should be saved, is it therefore certainly true, that we cannot reasonably thank God for the gospel?” Well, and though the evil inclinations, which hinder our seeking and obtaining happiness by so glorious an advantage, are what we are born with, yet if those inclinations are our fault or sin, that alters not the case: and to say, they are not our sin, is still begging the question. Yea, it will follow from several things asserted by our author, that notwithstanding men are born in such circumstances, as that they are under a very great improbability of ever becoming righteous, yet they may have reason to be thankful for their being. Thus particularly, Dr. T. asserts, that all men have reason of thankfulness for their being; and yet he supposes, that the heathen world, taken as a collective body, were dead in sin, and could not deliver or help themselves, and therefore stood in necessity of the christian dispensation. And not only so, but he supposes, that the christian world is now at length brought to the like deplorable and helpless circumstances, and needs a new dispensation for its relief. According to these things, the world in general, not only formerly but even at this day, are dead in sin, and helpless as to their salvation; and therefore the generality of them that are born into it, are much more likely to perish, than otherwise, till the new dispensation comes: and yet he supposes, we all have reason to be thankful for our being. Yea, further still, I think, according to our author’s doctrine, men may have great reason to be thankful to God for bringing them into a state, which yet, as the case is, is attended with misery, as its certain consequence. As, with respect to God’s raising the wicked to life, at the last day; which, he supposes, is in itself a great benefit, procured by Christ, and the wonderful grace of God through him: and if it be the fruit of God’s wonderful grace, surely men ought to be thankful for that grace, and praise God for it. Our doctrine of original sin, therefore, no more disparages God’s goodness in man’s formation in the womb, than his doctrine disparages God’s goodness in their resurrection from the grave.
Another argument, which Dr. T. makes use of, against the doctrine of original sin, is what the Scripture reveals of the process of the day of judgment; which represents the judge as dealing with men singly and separately, rendering to every man according to his deeds, and according to the improvement he has made of the particular powers and talents God has given him personally. 
But this objection will vanish, if we consider what is the end or design of that public judgment. Now this will not be, that God may find out what men are, or what punishment or reward is proper for them, or in order to the passing of a right judgment of these things within himself, which is the end of human trials; but it is to manifest what men are to their own consciences, and to the world. As the day of judgment is called the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God; in order to this, God will make use of evidences, or proofs. But the proper evidences of the wickedness of men’s hearts (the true seat of all wickedness) both as to corruption of nature, and additional pollution and guilt, are men’s works.
The special end of God’s public judgment will be, to make a proper, perfect, open distinction among men, rightly to state and manifest their difference one from another, in order to that separation and difference in the eternal retribution that is to follow: and this difference will be made to appear, by their personal works.
There are two things, with regard to which men will be tried, and openly distinguished, by the perfect judgment of God at the last day; according to the twofold real distinction subsisting among mankind: viz. (1.) The difference of state; that primary and grand distinction, whereby all mankind are divided into two sorts, the righteous and the wicked. (2.) That secondary distinction, whereby both sorts differ from others in the same general state, in degrees of additional fruits of righteousness and wickedness. Now the Judge, in order to manifest both these, will judge men according to their personal works. But to inquire at the day of judgment, whether Adam sinned or no, or whether men are to be looked upon as one with him, and so partakers in his sin, is what in no respect tends to manifest either of these distinctions.
1. The first thing; to be manifest, will be the state, that each man is in, with respect to the grand distinction of the whole world of mankind into righteous and wicked; or, in metaphorical language, wheat and tares; or, the children of the kingdom of Christ, and the children of the wicked one; the latter, the head of the apostacy; but the former, the head of the restoration and recovery. The Judge, in manifesting this, will prove men’s hearts by their works, in such as have had opportunity to perform any works in the body. The evil works of the children of the wicked one will be the proper manifestation and evidence or proof of whatever belongs to the general state of such; and particularly they will prove, that they belong to the kingdom of the great deceiver, and head of the apostacy, as they will demonstrate the exceeding corruption of their nature, and full consent of their hearts to the common apostacy; and also that their hearts never relinquished the apostacy, by a cordial adherence to Christ, the great restorer. 229 The Judge will also make use of the good works of the righteous to show their interest in the redemption of Christ; as thereby will be manifested the sincerity of their hearts in their acceptance of, and adherence to, the Redeemer and his righteousness. And in thus proving the state of men’s hearts by their actions, the circumstances of those actions must necessarily come into consideration, to manifest the true quality of their actions; as, each one’s talents, opportunities, advantages, light, motives, &c.
2. The other thing to be manifested, will be that secondary distinction,, wherein particular persons, both righteous and wicked, differ from one another, in the degree of secondary good or evil; the degree of evil fruit, which is additional to the guilt and corruption of the whole body of apostates and enemies; and the degree of personal goodness and good fruit, which is a secondary goodness, with respect to the righteousness and merits of Christ, which belong to all by that sincere faith manifested in all. Of this also each one’s works, with their circumstances, opportunities, talents, &c. will be the proper evidence.
As to the nature and aggravations of the general apostacy by Adam’s sin, and also the nature and sufficiency of the redemption by Jesus Christ, the great restorer, though both these will have vast influence on the eternal state, which men shall be adjudged to, yet neither of them will properly belong to the trial men will be the subjects of at that day, in order to the manifestation of their state, wherein they are distinguished one from another. They will belong to the business of that day no otherwise, than the manifestation of the great truths of religion in general; as the nature and perfections of God, the dependence of mankind on God, as their creator and preserver, &c. Such truths as these will also have great influence on the eternal state, to which men will then be adjudged, as they aggravate the guilt of man’s wickedness, and must be considered in order to a due estimate of Christ’s righteousness, and men’s personal virtue; yet being of general and equal concernment, will not properly belong to the trial of particular persons.
Another thing urged by our author particularly against the imputation of Adam’s sin, is this: “Though, in Scripture, action is frequently said to be imputed, reckoned, accounted to a person, it is no other than his own act and deed.”  In the same place he cites a number of places of Scripture, where these words are used, which he says are all that he can find in the Bible.
But we are no way concerned with this argument at present, any further than it relates to imputation of sin, or sinful action. Therefore all that is in the argument, which relates to the present purpose, is this: that the word is so often applied in Scripture to signify God’s imputing of personal sin, but never once to his imputing of Adam’s sin.—So often!—How often?—But twice. There are but two of all those places which he
reckons up, that have any reference to God imputing sin to any person, where there is any evidence that only personal sin is meant; (
But whether it be so or not, although in both these places the word impute, be applied to personal sin, and to the very act, or although this could be said of all the places which our author reckons up; yet that the word impute, is never expressly applied to Adam’s sin, does no more argue, that it is not imputed to his posterity, than it argues, that pride, unbelief, lying, theft, oppression, persecution, fornication, adultery, sodomy, perjury, idolatry, and innumerable other particular moral evils, are never imputed to the persons that committed them, or in whom they are; because the word impute, though so often used in Scripture, is never applied to any of these kinds of wickedness.
I know not what can be said here, except one of these two things: that though these sins are not expressly said to be imputed, yet other words are used that do as plainly and certainly imply that they are imputed, as if it were said so expressly. Very well, and so I say with respect to the imputation of Adam’s sin. The thing meant by the word impute, may be as plainly and certainly expressed by using other words, as if that word were expressly used; and more certainly, because the words used instead of it, may amount to an explanation of this word. And this, I think, is the very case here. Though the word, impute, is not used with respect to Adam’s sin, yet it is said, all have sinned; which, respecting infants, can be true only of their sinning by his sin. And, it is said, by his disobedience many were made sinners; and, judgment and condemnation came upon all by that sin; and that by this means death, the wages of sin, passed on all men, &c. Which phrases amount to full and precise explanations of the word, impute; and therefore do more certainly determine the point really insisted on.
Or, perhaps it will be said, with respect to those personal sins before-mentioned, pride, unbelief, &c. it is no argument they are not imputed to those who are guilty of them, that the very word impute, is not applied to them; for the word itself is rarely used; not one time in a hundred, and perhaps five hundred, of those wherein the thing meant is plainly implied, or may be certainly inferred. Well, and the same also may be applied likewise, with respect to Adam’s sin.
It is probable, Dr. T. intends an argument against original sin, by that which he says in opposition to what R. R. suggests of children discovering the principles of iniquity, and seeds of sin, before they are capable of moral action,
viz. That little children are made patterns of humility, meekness, and innocence, (
But when the utmost is made of this, there can be no shadow of reason, to understand more by these texts, than that little children are recommended as patterns in regard of a negative virtue, innocence with respect to the exercises and fruits of sin, harmlessness as to the hurtful effects of it; and that image of meekness and humility arising from this, in conjunction with a natural tenderness of mind, fear, self-diffidence, yieldableness, and confidence in parents and others older than themselves. And so, they are recommended as patterns of virtue no more than doves, which are an harmless sort of creatures, and have an image of the virtues of meekness and love. Even according to Dr. T.‘s own doctrine, no more can be made of it than this: for his scheme will not admit of any such thing as positive virtue, or virtuous disposition, in infants; he insisting (as was observed before) that virtue must be the fruit of thought and reflection. But there can be no thought and reflection, that produces positive virtue, in children not yet capable of moral action; and it is such children he speaks of. And that little children have a negative virtue or innocence, in relation to the positive acts and hurtful effects of vice, is no argument that they have not a corrupt nature within them: for let their nature be ever so corrupt, yet surely it is no wonder that they be not guilty of positive wicked action, before they are capable of any moral action at all. A young viper has a malignant nature, though incapable of doing a malignant action, and at present appearing a harmless creature.
Another objection, which Dr. T. and some others offer against this doctrine, is, That it pours contempt upon the human nature. 
230 But their declaiming on this topic is like addressing the affections and conceits of children, rather than rational arguing with men. It seems this doctrine is not complaisant enough. I am sensible, it is not suited to the taste of some, who are so very delicate (to say no worse) that they can bear nothing but compliment and flattery. No contempt is by this doctrine cast upon the noble faculties and capacities of man’s nature, or the exalted business, and divine and immortal happiness, of which he is made capable. And as to speaking ill of man’s present moral state, I presume, it will not be denied, that shame belongs to them who are truly sinful; and to suppose, that this is not the native character of mankind, is still but meanly begging the question. If we, as we come into the world, are truly sinful, and consequently miserable, he acts but a friendly part to us, who endeavours fully to discover and manifest our disease. Whereas, on the contrary, he acts an unfriendly part, who to his utmost hides it from us: and so, in effect, does what in him lies to prevent our seeking a remedy from that, which if not remedied in time, must bring us finally to shame and everlasting contempt, and end in perfect and remediless destruction hereafter.
Another objection, which some have made against this doctrine, much like the former, is, that it tends to beget in us an ill opinion of our fellow-creatures, and so to promote ill-nature and mutual hatred.
To which I would say, if it be truly so, that we all come sinful into the world, then our heartily acknowledging it, tends to promote humility: but our disowning that sin and guilt which truly belongs to us, and endeavouring to persuade ourselves that we are vastly better than in truth we are, tends to a foolish self-exaltation and pride. And it is manifest, by reason, experience, and the word of God, that pride is the chief source of all the contention, mutual hatred, and ill-will which are so prevalent in the world; and that nothing so effectually promotes the contrary tempers and deportments, as humility. This doctrine teaches us to think no worse of others, than of ourselves: it teaches us, that we are all, as we are by nature, companions in a miserable helpless condition; which under a revelation of the divine mercy, tends to promote mutual compassion. And nothing has a greater tendency to promote those amiable dispositions of mercy, forbearance, long-suffering, gentleness, and forgiveness, than a sense of our own extreme unworthiness and misery, and the infinite need we have of the divine pity, forbearance, and forgiveness, together with a hope of obtaining mercy. If the doctrine which teaches that mankind are corrupt by nature, tends to promote ill-will, why should not Dr. T.‘s doctrine tend to it as much? For he teaches us, that the generality of mankind are very wicked, having made themselves so by their own free choice, without any necessity: which is a way of becoming wicked, that renders men truly worthy of resentment; but the other, not at all, even according to his own doctrine.
Another exclamation against this doctrine is, that it tends to hinder comfort and joy, and to promote melancholy and gloominess of mind. 
To which I shall briefly say, doubtless, supposing men are really become sinful, and so exposed to the displeasure of God, by whatever means, if they once come to have their eyes opened, and are not very stupid, the reflection on their case will tend to make them sorrowful; and it is fit it should. Men, with whom this is the case, may well be filled with sorrow, till they are sincerely willing to forsake their sins, and turn to God. But there is nothing in this doctrine, that in the least stands in the way of comfort and exceeding joy, to such as find in their hearts a sincere willingness wholly to forsake all sin, and give their hearts and whole selves to Christ, and comply with the gospel-method of salvation by him.
Another thing objected, is, that to make men believe that wickedness belongs to their very nature, tends to encourage them in sin, and plainly to lead them to all manner of iniquity; because they are taught, that sin is natural, and therefore necessary and unavoidable. 
But if this doctrine, which teaches that sin is natural to us, does also at the same time teach us, that it is never the better, or less to be condemned, for its being natural, then it does not at all encourage sin, any more than Dr. T.‘s doctrine encourages wickedness when it is become inveterate; who teaches that such as by custom have contracted strong habits of sin, are unable to help themselves.  And is it reasonable, to represent it as encouraging a man in boldly neglecting and wilfully continuing in his disease, without seeking a cure, to tell him of his disease, to show him that it is real and very fatal, and what he can never cure himself of; yet withal directing him to a great Physician, who is sufficient for his restoration? But for a more particular answer to what is objected against the doctrine of our natural impotence and inability, as being an encouragement to go on in sin, and a discouragement to the use of all means for our help, I must for brevity refer the reader to what has been largely written on this head in my discourse on the Freedom of the Will.
Our author is pleased to advance another notion, among others, by way of objection against the doctrine of original sin: that if this doctrine be true, it would be unlawful to beget children. He says,  “If natural generation be the means of unavoidably conveying all sin and wickedness into the world, it must itself be a sinful and unlawful thing.” Now, if there be any force of argument here, it lies in this proposition, whatsoever is a means or occasion of the certain infallible existence of sin and wickedness, must itself be sinful. But I imagine Dr. T. had not thoroughly weighed this proposition, nor considered where it would carry him. For, God continuing in being the devil, and others that are finally given up to wickedness, will be attended, most certainly and infallibly, with an eternal series of the most hateful and horrid wickedness. But will any be guilty of such vile blasphemy, as to say, therefore God’s upholding of them in being is itself a sinful thing? In the same place our author says, “so far as we are generated in sin, it must be a sin to generate.” But there is no appearance of evidence in that position, any more than in this: “So far as any is upheld in existence in sin, it is a sin to uphold them in existence.” Yea, if there were any reason in the case, it would be strongest in the latter position: for parents, as Dr. T. himself observes, are not the authors of the beginning of existence: whereas, God is truly the author of the continuance of existence. As it is the known will of God, to continue Satan and millions of others in being, though the most sure consequence is the continuance of a vast infernal world, full of everlasting hellish wickedness: so it is part of the revealed will of God, that this world of mankind should be continued, and the species propagated, for his own wise and holy purposes; which will is complied with by the parents joined in lawful marriage. Their children, though they come into the world in sin, yet are capable subjects of eternal holiness and happiness: which infinite benefits for their children, parents have great reason to expect, in the way of giving up their children to God in faith, through a Redeemer, and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I think, this may be answer enough to such a cavil.
Another objection is, That the doctrine of original sin is no oftener, and no more plainly, spoken of in Scripture; it being, if true, a very important doctrine. Dr. T. in many parts of his book suggests to his readers, that there are very few texts, in the whole Bible, wherein there is the least appearance of their teaching any such doctrine.
Of this I took notice before, but would here say further: That the reader who has perused the preceding defence of this doctrine, must now be left to judge for himself, whether there be any ground for such an allegation; whether there be not texts in sufficient number, both in the Old Testament and New, that exhibit undeniable evidence of this great article of christian divinity; and whether it be not a doctrine taught in the Scripture with great plainness. I think, there are few, if any, doctrines of revelation, taught more plainly and expressly. Indeed it is taught in an explicit manner more in the New Testament than in the Old. Which is not to be wondered at; it being thus with respect to all the most important doctrines of revealed religion.
231 But if it had been so, that this doctrine were but rarely taught in Scripture; yet if we find that it is indeed declared to us by God, if held forth to us by any word of his; then what belongs to us, is, to believe his word, and receive the doctrine which he teaches us; and not to prescribe to him how often he shall speak of it, and to insist upon knowing what reasons he has for speaking of it no oftener, before we will receive what he teaches us; or to pretend that he should give us an account, why he did not speak of it so plainly as we think he ought to have done, sooner than he did. In this way of proceeding, if it be reasonable, the Sadducees of old, who denied any resurrection or future state, might have maintained their cause against Christ, when he blamed them for not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God; and for not understanding by the Scripture, that there would be a resurrection to spiritual enjoyment, and not to animal life, and sensual gratifications; and they might have insisted, that these doctrines, if true, were very important, and therefore ought to have been spoken of in the Scriptures oftener and more explicitly, and not that the church of God should be left, till that time, with only a few obscure intimations of that which so infinitely concerned them. And they might with disdain have rejected Christ’s argument, by way of inference from God calling himself in the books of Moses, the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For answer, they might have said, that Moses was sent on purpose to teach the people the mind and will of God; and therefore, if these doctrines were true, he ought in reason and in truth to have taught them plainly and frequently, and not have left the people to spell out so important a doctrine, only from God’s saying, that he was the God of Abraham, &c.
One great end of the Scripture is; to teach the world what manner of being GOD is; about which the world, without revelation, has been so wofully in the dark: and that God is an infinite being, is a doctrine of great importance, and a doctrine sufficiently taught in the Scripture. But yet, it appears to me, this doctrine is not taught there, in any measure, with such explicitness and precision, as the doctrine of original sin: and the Socinians, who denied God’s omnipresence and omniscience, had as much room left them for cavil, as the Pelagians who deny original sin.
Dr. T. particularly urges, that Christ says not one word of this doctrine throughout the four Gospels; which doctrine, if true, being so important, and what so nearly concerned the great work of redemption, which he came to work out, (as is supposed,) one would think, it should have been emphatically spoken of in every page, of the Gospels. 
In reply to this, it may be observed, that by the account given in the four Gospels, Christ was continually saying, those things which plainly implied, that all men in their original state are sinful and miserable. As, when he declared, that they which are whole, need not a physician, but they which are sick;  That he came to seek and to save that which was lost.  That it was necessary for all to be born again, and to be converted, and that otherwise they could not enter into the kingdom of heaven;  —and, that all were sinners, as well as those whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices, &c. and that every one who did not repent, should perish;  —Withal directing everyone to pray to God for forgiveness of sin;  —Using our necessity of forgiveness from God, as an argument with all to forgive the injuries of their neighbours;  —Teaching, that earthly parents, though kind to their children, are in themselves evil;  —And signifying, that things carnal and corrupt are properly the things of men;  —Warning his disciples rather to beware of men, than of wild beasts;  —Often representing the world as evil, as wicked in its works, at enmity with truth and holiness, and hating him;  —Yea, and teaching plainly, that all men are extremely and inexpressibly sinful, owing ten thousand talents to their divine creditor. 
And whether Christ did not plainly teach Nicodemus the
doctrine of original total depravity, when he came to him to know what
his doctrine was, must be left to the reader to judge, from what has
been already observed on
And as to Christ being no more frequent and particular in mentioning and inculcating this point in a doctrinal manner, it is probable, one reason to be given for it, is the same that is to be given for his speaking no oftener of God’s creating of the world: which, though so important a doctrine, is scarce ever spoken of in any of Christ’s discourses; and no wonder, seeing this was a matter which the Jews, to whom he confined his personal ministry, had all been instructed in from their forefathers, and never was called in question among them. And there is a great deal of reason, from the ancient Jewish writers, to suppose, that the doctrine of original sin had ever been allowed in the open profession of that people;  though they were generally, in that corrupt time, very far from a practical 232 conviction of it; and many notions were then prevalent, especially among the Pharisees, which were indeed inconsistent with it. And though on account of these prejudices they might need to have this doctrine explained and applied to them, yet it is well known, by all acquainted with their Bibles, that Christ, for wise reasons, spake more sparingly and obscurely of several of the most important doctrines of revealed religion, relating to the necessity, grounds, nature, and way of his redemption, and the method of the justification of sinners, while he lived here in the flesh; and left these doctrines to be more plainly and fully opened and inculcated by the Holy Spirit after his ascension.
But if, after all, Christ did not speak of this doctrine often enough to suit Dr. T. he might be asked, Why he supposes Christ did no oftener and no more plainly teach some of his, Dr. T.‘s, doctrines, which he so much insists on? As, that temporal death comes on all mankind by Adam; and that it comes on them by him, not as a punishment or calamity, but as a great favour, being made a rich benefit, and a fruit of God’s abundant grace, by Christ’s redemption, who came into the world as a second Adam for this end. Surely, if this were so, it was of vast importance, that it should be known to the church of God in all ages, who saw death reigning over infants, as well as others. If infants were indeed perfectly innocent, was it not needful, that the design of that which was such a melancholy and awful dispensation towards so many millions of innocent creatures, should be known, in order to prevent the worst thoughts of God from arising in the minds of the constant spectators of so mysterious and gloomy a dispensation? But why then such a total silence about it, for four thousand years together, and not one word of it in all the Old Testament; nor one word of it in all the four Gospels: and indeed not one word of it in the whole Bible, but only as forced and wrung out by Dr. T.‘s arts of criticism and deduction, against the plainest and strongest evidence?
As to the arguments, made use of by many late writers, from the universal moral sense, and the reasons they offer from experience, and observation of the nature of mankind, to show that we are born into the world with principles of virtue; with a natural prevailing relish, approbation, and love of righteousness, truth, and goodness, and of whatever tends to the public welfare; with a prevailing natural disposition to dislike, to resent, and condemn what is selfish, unjust, and immoral; and a native bent in mankind to mutual benevolence, tender compassion, &c. those who have had such objections against the doctrine of original sin thrown in their way, and desire to see them particularly considered, I ask leave to refer them to a treatise on the nature of true virtue, lying by me prepared for the press, which may ere long be exhibited to public view. 
On the whole, I observe, there are some other things, besides arguments, in Dr. T.‘s book, which are calculated to influence the minds, and bias the judgment, of some sorts of readers. Here, not to insist on the profession he makes, in many places, of sincerity, humility, meekness, modesty, charity, &c. in searching after truth; and freely proposing his thoughts, with the reasons of them, to others;  nor on his magisterial assurance, appearing on many occasions, and the high contempt he sometimes expresses of the opinions and arguments of very excellent divines and fathers in the church of God, who have thought differently from him  —both of which, it is not unlikely, may have a degree of influence on some of his readers—I would take some notice of another thing, observable in the writings of Dr. T. and many of the late opposers of the more peculiar doctrines of Christianity, tending (especially with juvenile and unwary readers) not a little to abate the force, and prevent the due effect, of the clearest scripture-evidences in favour of those important doctrines; and particularly to make void the arguments taken from the writings of the apostle Paul, in which those doctrines are more plainly and fully revealed, than in any other part of the Bible. What I mean, is this: These gentlemen express a high opinion of this apostle, and that very justly, for his eminent genius, his admirable sagacity, strong powers of reasoning, acquired learning, &c. They speak of him as a writer of masterly address, of extensive reach, and deep design, every where in his epistles, almost in every word he says. This looks exceedingly specious: it carries a plausible appearance of christian zeal and attachment to the Holy Scriptures, to bear such a testimony of high veneration for that great apostle, who was not only the principal instrument of propagating Christianity, but with his own hand wrote so considerable a part of the New Testament. And I am far from determining, with respect at least to some of these writers, that they are not sincere in their declarations; or, that all is mere artifice, only to make way for the reception of their own peculiar sentiments. However, it tends 233greatly to subserve such a purpose; as much as if it were designedly contrived, with the utmost subtilty, for that end. Hereby their incautious readers are prepared the more easily to be drawn into a belief, that they, and others in their way of thinking, have not rightly understood many of those things in this apostle’s writings, which before seemed very plain to them. Thus they are prepared, by a prepossession in favour of these new writers, to entertain a favourable thought of the interpretations put by them upon the words and phrases of this apostle; and to admit in many passages a meaning which before lay entirely out of sight; quite foreign to all that in the view of a common reader seems to be their obvious sense; and most remote from the expositions agreed in by those who used to be esteemed the greatest divines, and best commentators. As to this apostle, being a man of no vulgar understanding, it is nothing strange if his meaning lies very deep; and no wonder then, if the superficial observation of vulgar Christians, or indeed of the herd of common divines, such as the Westminster Assembly, &c. falls vastly short of the apostle’s reach, and frequently does not enter into the true spirit and design of his epistles. They must understand, that the first reformers, and indeed preachers and expositors in general, for fifteen or sixteen hundred years past, were too unlearned and short-sighted, to be capable of penetrating into the sense, or fit to make comments on the writings, of so great a man as this apostle; or else had dwelt in a cave of bigotry and superstition, too gloomy to allow them to use their own understandings with freedom, in reading the Scripture. But, at the same time, it must be understood, that there is risen up now at length, in this happy age of light and liberty, a set of men, of a more free and generous turn of mind, of a more inquisitive genius, and of better discernment. By such insinuations, they seek advantage to their cause; and thus the most unreasonable and extravagant interpretations of Scripture are palliated and recommended: so that, if the simple reader is not very much on his guard, if he does not clearly see with his own eyes, or has too much indolence, or too little leisure, thoroughly to examine for himself, he is in danger of being imposed on with delusive appearances.
But I humbly conceive, that their interpretations—particularly of the apostle Paul’s writings, though in some things ingenious—are in many things extremely absurd, and demonstrably disagreeable, in the highest degree, to his real design, to the language he commonly uses, and to the doctrines currently taught in his epistles. Their criticisms, when examined, appear far more subtile, than solid; and it seems as if nothing can possibly be strong enough, nothing perspicuous enough, in any composure whatever, to stand before such liberties as these writers indulge. The plainest and most nervous discourse is analyzed and criticized, till it either dissolves into nothing, or becomes a thing of little significance. The Holy Scripture is subtilized into a mere mist; or made to evaporate into a thin cloud, that easily puts on any shape, and is moved in any direction, with a puff of wind, just as the manager pleases. It is not in the nature and power of language, to afford sufficient defence against such an art, so abused; as, I imagine, a due consideration of some things I have had occasion in the preceding discourse to observe, may abundantly convince us.
But this, with the rest of what I have offered on the subject, must be left with every candid reader’s judgment; and the success of the whole must now be left with God, who knows what is agreeable to his own mind, and is able to make his own truths prevail; however mysterious they may seem to the poor, partial, narrow, and extremely imperfect views of mortals, while looking through a cloudy and delusory medium; and however disagreeable they may be to the innumerable prejudices of men’s hearts:— and who has promised, that the gospel of christ, such as is really his, shall finally be victorious; and has assured us, that the word which goes out of his mouth, shall not return to him void, but shall accomplish that which he pleaseth, and shall prosper in the thing whereto he sends it.—Let god arise, and plead his own cause, and glorify his own great name. amen.