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any manner of consistency, be taken in any other than a forensick sense; and therefore he argues, from thence, that we are liable to condemnation, by the offence of Adam; which certainly proves the imputation of his offence to us, and consequently he is considered therein as our federal head.
2. This farther appears, in that all mankind are exposed to many miseries, and to death, which are of a penal nature; therefore they must be considered, as the consequence of sin. Now they cannot be the consequence of actual sin, in those, who are miserable and die, as soon as they are born, who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression; therefore this must be the result of his sin, which it could not be, had he not been the federal head of all his posterity. (a)
Object. It is objected to this, that God might, out of his mere. sovereignty, ordain that his creatures should be exposed to some degree of misery; and, if this misery be not considered, as the punishment of sin, in infants, then it does not prove the imputation of Adam's sin to them; and even their death, considered only as a separation of soul and body, may not contain in it a proper idea of punishment, (which consists in the stroke of justice, demanding satisfaction for sin) if it be only reckoned an expedient, or a necessary means for their attaining eternal life. Therefore it doth not follow, that, because we are liable to death, before we have done good or evil, it must necessarily be a punishment due to that sin, which was committed by Adam.
Answ. 1. I will not deny but that God might dispense some lesser degrees of natural evil, to a sinless creature, out of his mere sovereignty; neither will I contend with any, who shall say, that he might, without any dishonour to his perfections, send on him an evil, sensibly great, provided it were not only consistent with his love, but attended with those manifestations and displays thereof, which would more than compensate for it, and, at the same time, not have any tendency to prevent the construction of the word, though xpuua signifies judicium in general, xalanpipa signifies judicium adversus aliquem, or condemnatio.
(a) That mankind are born and live in sin, may be collected from various sources of argument; by matter of fact, none are found free from, who are capable of actual guilt, by the evils and death which a just God would not otherwise inflict; by the ideas of the ancients who speak of a degeneration from a golden, to an iron age, by the general practice of offering sacrifice, which is an acknow. ment of guilt, by the testimony of the heathens, that evil example has a preponderating influence over good, by the historical account of the fall of man in the scriptures, by their numerous testimonies that none are righteous before God or can be justified by their obedience to his laws, by the confessions of the saints, by the necessity of repentance in all, by the propriety of prayer for the pardon of sin, by Christ's example of daily prayer which contains such a petition, by the necessity of faith that we may please God, by man's unwillingness to be reconciled to God, and rejection of all the spiritual good things offered, and contempt of divine threatnings; and above all other proofs, by the coming and suffering of Christ.
answering the end of his being; yet I may be bold to say, that, from the nature of the thing, God cannot inflict the least degree of punishment on a creature, who is, in all respects guiltless. If therefore these lesser evils are penal, they are the consequence of Adam's sin.
2. As for death, that must be considered as a penal evil; for, as such, it was first denounced, as a part of the curse, consequent on Adam's sin; and the apostle says, The wages of sin is death, Rom. vi. 23. and elsewhere he speaks of all men, as dying in Adam, 1 Cor. xv. 22. and therefore his sin is imputed to all mankind; and consequently he was their federal head and representative in the covenant that he was under.
II. They, whose federal head and representative Adam was, are such as descended from him by ordinary generation. The design of this limitation is to signify, that our Saviour is excepted, and consequently that he did not sin or fall in him, inasmuch as he was born of a virgin; therefore, though he had the same human nature with all Adam's posterity, yet he did not derive it from him, in the same way as they do; and a similitude of nature, or his being a true and proper Man, does not render him a descendant from Adam, in the same way as we are. The formation of his human nature was the effect of miraculous, supernatural, creating power; therefore he was no more liable to Adam's sin, as being a Man, than a world of men would be, should God create them out of nothing, or out of the dust of the ground, by a mediate creation, which would be no more miraculous, or supernatural, than it was to form the human nature of Christ in the womb of a virgin. Now, as persons, so formed, would not be concerned in Adam's sin, or fall, whatever similitude there might be of nature; even so our Saviour was not concerned therein. (a)
Moreover, that we might understand that he was not included in this federal transaction with Adam, the apostle opposes him, as the second Man, the federal Head of his elect, or spiritual seed, to Adam, the first man, and head of his natural seed, in that scripture before referred to, ver. 45. And, as an argument, that his extraordinary and miraculous conception exempted him from any concern in Adam's sin and fall; the angel, that gave the first intimation hereof, when he tells the blessed virgin, his mother, that the Holy Ghost should come upon her, that the power of the highest should over-shadow her, he says, Therefore that Holy Thing, that shall be born of thee, shall be called, the Son of God; thereby implies, that, in his first formation, he was holy, and consequently had no concern in the guilt of Adam's sin, because of the manner of his formation, or conception; and this is certainly a better way to account for his be
(a) The covenant of grace was from eternity, and implied his innocence.
ing sinless, than to pretend, as the Papists do, that his mother was sinless; which will do no service to their cause, unless they could ascend in a line to our first parents, and so prove, that all our Saviour's progenitors were immaculate, as well as the virgin; which is more than they pretend to do.
III. It is farther observed, in this answer, that mankind sinned in and fell with Adam in his first transgression, and therefore they had no concern in those sins, which he committed afterwards. This appears from hence, that Adam, as soon as he sinned, lost the honour and prerogative, that was conferred upon him, of being the federal head of his posterity, though he was their natural head, or common father; for the covenant being broken, all the evils, that we were liable to, arising from thence, were devolved upon us, and none of the blessings, contained therein, could be conveyed to us that way, since it was impossible for him, after his fall, to perform sinless obedience, which was the condition of the life promised therein. This doth not arise so much from the nature of the covenant, as from the change that there was in man, with whom it was made. The law, or covenant, would have given life, if man could have yielded perfect obedience; but since his fall rendered that impossible, though the obligation thereof, as a law, distinct from a covenant, and the curse, arising from the sanction thereof, remains still in force against fallen man; yet, as a covenant, in which life was promised, it was, from that time, abrogated; and therefore the apostle speaks of it, as being weak through the flesh, Rom. viii. 3. that is, by reason of Adam's transgression, and consequently he ceased, from that time, to be the federal head, or means of conveying life to his posterity; therefore those sins that he committed afterwards, were no more imputed to them, to inhance their condemnation, than his repentance, or good works, were imputed for their justification.
IV. Having considered the first transgression of Adam, as imputed to all those who descended from him by ordinary generation, we shall proceed to consider, how this doctrine is opposed, by those who are in the contrary way of thinking.
Object. 1. It is objected, that what is done by one man cannot be imputed to another; for this is contrary to the divine perfections, to the law of nature, and the express words of scripture. It is true, that which is done by us, in our own persons, may be imputed to us, whether it be good or evil. Thus it is said, that Phinehas's zeal in executing judgment, by which means the plague was stayed, was counted to him for righteousness, Psal. cvi. 30, 31. so was Abraham's faith, Rom. iv. 9, 23. Accordingly God approved of these their respective good actions, as what denominated them righteous persons, and pla
ced them to their account, as bestowing on them some rewards accordingly; so, on the other hand, a man's own sin may be imputed to him, and he may be dealt with as an offender: But to impute the sin committed by one person to another, is to suppose that he has committed that sin which was really committed by another; in which case, the Judge of all the earth would not do right.
Answ. When we speak of persons being punished for a crime committed by another, as being imputed to them, we understand the word imputation in a forensick sense, and therefore we do not suppose that here is a wrong judgment passed on persons or things, as though the crime were reckoned to have been committed by them; accordingly we do not say, that we committed that sin, which was more immediately committed by Adam. In him it was an actual sin; it is ours, as imputed to us, or as we are punished for it, according to the demerit of the offence, and the tenor of the covenant, in which we were included.
Moreover, it is not contrary to the law of nature, or nations, for the iniquity of some public persons to be punished in many others, so that whole cities and nations have suffered on their account; and as for scripture-instances hereof, we often read of whole families and nations, suffering for the crimes of those, who had been public persons, and exemplary in sinning. Thus Achan coveted the wedge of gold, and, for this, he suffered not alone; but his sons and daughters were stoned, and burned with fire, together with himself, Joshua vii. 24, 25. though we do not expressly read, that they were confederates with him in the crime. And as for the Amalekites, who, without provocation, came out against Israel in the wilderness, God threatens them, that he would have war with them for this, from generation to generation, Exod. xvii. 16. and in pursuance of this threatening, God, imputing the crime of their forefathers to their posterity, some hundreds of years after, ordered Saul to go and utterly destroy them, by slaying both man and woman, infant and suckling, 1 Sam. xv. 2, 3. And the sin of Jeroboam was punished in his posterity, according to the threatening denounced, 1 Kings xiv. 10, 11. as was also the sin of Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. 21, 22. And the church acknowledges, that it was a righteous dispensation of providence for God to bring upon Judah those miseries, which immediately preceded, and followed their being carried captive, when they say, Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquity, Lam. v. 7. and our Saviour speaks to the same purpose, when he tells the Jews, That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar, Matth. xxiii. 35. These instances, and others of
the like nature, prove that it is no unheard of thing, for one man to suffer for a crime committed by another *.
But I am sensible the principal thing intended in the objection, when this is supposed to be contrary to scripture, is, that it contradicts the sense of what the prophet says, when he tells the people, that they should not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge; for the soul that sinneth shall die, Ezek. xviii. 24. the meaning of which scripture is, that if they were humble and penitent, and did not commit those crimes that their fathers had done, they should not be punished for them, which was a special act of favour, that God would grant them on this supposition; and it is as much as to say, that he would not impute their father's sins to them, or suffer them to be carried captive, merely because their fathers had deserved this desolating judgment. But this does not, in all respects, agree with the instance before us; for we are considering Adam as the federal head of his posterity, and so their fathers were not to be considered in this, and such like scriptures. Moreover, the objectors will hardly deny, that natural death, and the many evils of this life, are a punishment, in some respects, for the sin of our first parents. Therefore the question is not, whether some degree of punishment may ensue hereupon? but, whether the greatest degree of the punishment of sin in hell, can be said to be the consequence hereof? But this we shall be led more particularly to consider, under a following answer t
Object. 2. It is farther objected, that it is not agreeable to the divine perfections, for God to appoint Adam to be the head and representative of all his posterity; so that they must stand, or fall, with respect to their spiritual and eternal concerns in him, inasmuch as this was not done by their own choice and consent, which they were not capable of giving, since they were not existent. The case say they, is the same, as though a king should appoint a representative body of men, and give them a power to enact laws, whereby his subjects should be dispossessed of their estates and properties, which no one can suppose to
• This is not only agreeable to many instances contained in scripture, but it has been acknowledged to be just by the very heathen, as agreeable to the law of nature and nations. Thus one says: Sometimes a whole city is punished for the wickedness of one man: Thu Hesiod, πολλακι και ξύμπασα πολις και ανδρες επαυρω; and Horace says, Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi: And one observes, that it was the custom of several cities of Greece, to inflict the same punishment on the childrenof tyrants, as their fathers had done on others: In Græcis civitatibus liberi tyrannorum suppressis illis, eodem supplicio afficiuntur. Vid. Cicer. Epist. ad Brut. XV. & Q. Curt. Lib. VI. speaks of a law observed among the Macedonians; in which, traiterous conspiracies against the life of the prince were punished, not only in the traitors themselves, but in their near_relations, Qui regi infidiati essent, illi cum cognatis & propinquis suis morte afficerentur.
t See Quest xxvii.