Gambar halaman

apostle does not speak of the sin of Adam being im. f) puted to make men sinners, and subject them to death; to but of actual and personal sins, and of death as the re. compense of them. Now look into the Mosaic history of this period, and we find before the flood " that the w wickedness of men was great in the earth,”-Gen. vi.5. 'ye “ The earth also was corrupt before God, and the B earth was filled with violence. For all flesh had core di rupted his way upon the earth,” ver. 11, 12. And, a1 after the flood, excepting the faith and obedience of 164 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we have little else recorded besides transgressions of the law of righteous. ness ; sins which men coinmitted, though not after the similitude of Adam's transgression.” As to the death of infants : God, the great giver of life, hath, undoubtedly, a perfect right to resume it whenever it seemeth meet to his infinite wisdom. But I do not recollect that the sacred writers do any where represent it as a punishment either for Adam's sin, or their own. In a few cases they speak of it as a punishment of the sin of their immediate parents, but then, as a punishment to their parents who had sinned, not to the children who had not sinned. Rom. v. 6, 8. “ For when we were yet without

strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. " But God commended his love towards us, in that

while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."

Let the intelligent reader judge for himself, whether the apostle doth not speak here of the state of man. kind (particularly of himself and the persons he writes


[blocks in formation]

to) hefore Christ's death, and the consequent publication of the gospel 10 the world, and intimate that the case is very different since that happy event ? Doth he not plainly make the distinction in both verses, that we might not mistake his meaning, “ when we were yet without strength, and while we were yet sinners ?But doth the case continue the same, since Christ died, with those to whom the blessings of the gospel are imparted ? Then hath Christ died, and the gospel been published in vain. Yet some writers represent the state of those for whom Christ died, and who have received the gospel, as just the same, as to strength, with them who had not received it, and who lived before it was published. Surely, any of us would be displeased to have our words wrested to purposes so different from our intentions, especially when we had endeavoured to guard them from such abusé. God our maker hath given us intelligent capacities, suited to those discoveries which he hath made of his will, whether by the light of nature, or revelation; · he hath given us also freedom of choice and action for the conduct of ourselves ; he hath granted us the light and motives of the gospel for our fuller instruction and persuasion; he is ever present with us and ready to assist our sincere endeavours to know and to do his will: *surely then, it is unjust and ungrateful to him to say that we are still without strength; and if we be sinners, it is wholly our own fault. As for the Gentiles, even the worst of thein, the apostle no where ascribes their want of strength, to their not having received - B .


from their Maker sufficient abilities to know and do his will acceptably, but to their having voluntarily corrupted themselves and one another, and thereby lost the abilities which God had given them, and become dead in trespasses anil sins.

· Rom. vii. 7, 8. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, reither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

It appears to me that the apostle speaks here only of personal character and conduct, and the effects of them in producing governing habits; but not at all of any corruption or depravity of the nature of man effected by Adam's sin, whereby he is become incapable of doing that which is good, or of pleasing God. Adam, or his sin, is not mentioned by the apostle in treating of this subject. It is readily acknowledged, that a person who attaches himself to the gratification of his carnal or sensual appetites and passions cannot perform the will of God, but must daily become more and more alienated from him, and from his duty: but this is saying no more ihan that a wicked man cannot be a good man, or please God so long as he continues wicked. But it by no means follows that this man is unable to hear, understand, and receive saluiary conv'ctions from the truths of God, revealed by his Son J is Christ, and thereby become changed in his sentiments, dispositions, and conduct, and from carnally minded become spiritually minded. The various forms of speech which the apostle uses in the preceding and


following verses seem only to express one and the
same thing, viz. the change produced in the dispo.
sitions and conduct of men by preaching the gospel
to them, and their attention to it, and sincere recep-
tion of it, together with the happy effects and con-
sequences of it.
· Ephesians ii. 3. “And were by nature children of
wrath, even as others.”

If we compare the passages in which the apostle uses the word rature, we shall find that he did not mean by it that internal frame, constitution, or condition of being wherewith God our maker hath formed us; but that external condition, or those oute ward circumstances (especially with relation to God and religious concerns) in which Divine Providence hath caused us to be born and live. Human nature, in our sense of the phrase, is the same in all mankind; but different persous may be brought forth into life, and spend it under very different natural circumstances, in the apostle's sense of the word nature. .. Thus Rom. ii. 14. he says, “When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do” by nature " the things contained in the law ;' and ver. 27. “ Shall not uncircumcision, which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, &c.” He here plainly speaks not of an internal frame, constitution, or powers, or what we call a nature, which the Gentiles had, different from that of the Jews; but of their external, moral, and religious state and circumstances, as destitute of the instructions and assistances of the law of Moses, by which they

B 2


were much below the Jews. Again, in the remonstrance which he tells us he made to Peter, we find these words, Gal. ii. 15. “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles;” when certainly he doth not mean to intimate that the Jews had a different sort of nature, or iuternal constitution, whereby they were Jews; but only we who are natural-born Jews, and have all along enjoyed the privi, leges of that people. So likewise in the text under consideration, having spokey of the Ephesians as formerly “ dead in trespasses and sins, wherein, in time past, ye walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience;” he adds, ver. 3. “ among whom also wę all had our conversation in times past, in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” Observe, hitherto he speaks of external condition and circumstances, and of personal character and actual vices, and not at all of internal constitution, or a nabure corrupted by the effects of Adam's sin. He adds: «and were by nature children of wrath, even as others," i. e. (conformable to his use of the word na. ture in other places) in consequence of our birth and şituation among children of disobedience, where we were kept ignorant of the truth, deceived by false principles, and misled by bad examples, we ourselves were children of wrath, as others about us were, and many still continue. By children of wrath I apprehend the apostle does not mean here objects of the


« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »