Page images
PDF
EPUB

sinneth it shall die.” The difficulty is solved with respect to infants, by the consideration that all souls belong to God; that these, though guiltless of actual sin, were the offspring of sinful parents, and that God foresaw that, if suffered to live, they would grow up similar to their parents. With respect to others, it is obviated by the consideration, that no one perishes, except he himself sin. Thus Agag and his people were smitten for the crime of their fathers, four hundred years after their ancestors had lain wait for Israel in the way, when he came up out of Egypt, 1 Sam. xv. 2, 3. but at the same time they were themselves justly obnoxious to punishment for sins of their own, v. 33. So too Hoshea king of Israel was better than the kings that were before him, but having fallen into the idolatry of the Gentiles, he was punished at once for his own sins and for those of his fathers, by the loss of his kingdom, 2 Kings xvii. 2–4. Thus too the sins of Manasseh were visited on his children, but they themselves were far from being innocent, xxii. 26. compared with Jer. xxv. 3, 4, “ because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day.... the word of the Lord hath come unto me; and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened." 2 Kings xxiv. 3. “for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did.” On the same principle the good king Josiah, and those who resembled him, were for the most part exempt from punishment; but the case was otherwise with the Pharisees, Matt. xxii. 34, 35.“some of them ye shall kill, &c. that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias.”

Hence the penitent are enjoined to confess not only their own sins, but those of their fathers. Lev. xxvi. 40. “ if they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers.” Nehem. ix. 2. "they confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.” Many similar texts occur.

6 See on the reconciliation of this text with Ex. xx. 5. quoted above, Warburton's Divine Legation, Book V. sect. 5. A more popular mode of reconciliation is proposed by Hey, Lectures, Book IV. Art. 9. Sect. 38. But perhaps the best discussion of the text is to be found in Stillingfleet's admirable Discourse concerning the Sufferings of Christ, Chap. III. Sect. 7.

VOL. IT

1

Thus also entire families become obnoxious to punishment for the guilt of their head. Gen. xii. 17. " Jehovah plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai.” xx. 7. “if thou restore her not, know that thou shalt surely die, thou and all that are thine.”

Subjects also are afflicted for the sins of their rulers ; thus the whole of Egypt was smitten for the offence of Pharaoh. It is remarkable that David, even while remonstrating against the hardship of punishing the people for the sins of their king, yet thought it not unjust that the sons should suffer for and with their father. 2 Sam xxiv. 17. “lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done ? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house."

Sometimes a whole nation is punished for the iniquity of one of the people, Josh. vii. and the trespass of one is imputed to all, v. 1, lì.

We may add, that even just men have not thought it inconsistent with equity to visit offences against themselves, not only on the offender, but on his posterity. Thus Noah scrupled not to pronounce the condemnation of Canaan for the wickedness of his father Ham, Gen. ix. 25.6

This principle of divine justice in the infliction of piacular punishments was not unknown to other nations, nor was it ever by them accounted unjust. So Thucydides, Book I. Sect. 126. άπό τούτου εναγείς και αλιτήριοι της Θεού εκείνοι σε έκαλούντο, και το γενός το απ' εκεινών. And Virgil, En. Ι. 39.

Pallasne exurere classem
Argivům, atque ipsos potuit submergere ponto
Unius ob noxam?

The same might be easily shown by a multitude of other Pagan testimonies and examples.

6

Justice and some fatal curse annex'd
Deprives them of their outward liberty,
Their inward lost: witness th' irrev'rent son
Of him who built the ark; who for the shame
Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,
Servant of servants, on his vicious race.

Paradise Lost, XII. 99.

Again, the possessions and right of citizenship of one convicted of high treason, a crime between man and man, are forfeited, not only as respects himself, but all his posterity; and legal authorities decide similarly in other analogous cases. We all know what are the recognized rights of war, not only with regard to the immediate parties themselves, but all who fall into the power of the enemy, such as women and children, and those who have contributed nothing to the progress of the war either in will or deed.

THE PERSONAL SIN OF EACH INDIVIDUAL IS THAT WHICH EACH IN HIS OWN PERSON HAS COMMITTED, INDEPENDENTLY OF THE SIN WHICH IS COMMON TO ALL. Here likewise all men are guilty. Job ix. 20. “if I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me.” x. 15. if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head.” Psalm. cxliii. 2. "in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” Prov. xx. 9. "who can say, I am pure from my sin ?” Eccles. vii. 20. “ there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinnet not.” Rom. iii. 23. “ all have sinned.”

Both kinds of sin, as well that which is common to all, as that which is personal to each individual, consist of the two following parts, whether we term them gradations, or divisions, or modes of sin, or whether we consider them in the light of cause and effect; namely, evil concupiscence, or the desire of sinning, and the act of sin itself. James i. 14, 15.“every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed : then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.”

This is not ill expressed by the poet: Mars videt hanc, visamque cupit, potiturque cupita. Ovid. Fast. III. 21.

Evil concupiscence is that of which our original parents were first guilty, and which they transmitted to their posterity, as sharers in the primary transgression, in the shape of an innate propensity to sin.

This is called in Scripture "the old man, and the body of sin,” Rom. vi. 6. Eph. iv. 22. Col. iii. 9. or simply "sin," Rom. vii. 8. “sin taking occasion by the commandment.”

[ocr errors]

? Quasi habitum quendam sive fomitem deinceps peccati ingenerarunt. • The particulars coinmonly reckoned, are that from Adam we derive an original ignorance, a proneness to sin, a natural malice, a “fomes,' or nest sf sin imprinted and placed in our souls,' &c. Taylor's Works, X. 10.

8. 17, 20. "indwelling sin." v. 21. “evil present with us. v. 22. “the law in our members.” v. 24. “ the body of death.” viii, 2. “the law of sin and death.”

The first who employed the phrase ORIGINAL SIN is said to have been Augustine in his writings against Pelagius ;' probably because in the origin, that is, in the generation of man, it was handed down from our first parents to their posterity. If however this were his meaning, the term is too limited; for that evil concupiscence, that law of sin, was not only naturally bred in us, but dwelt also in Adam after the fall, in whom it could not properly be called original.

This general depravity of the human mind and its propensity to sin is described Gen. vi. 5. "God saw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” viii. 21. “the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” Jer. xvii. 9. “the heart is deceitful above all things.

Matt. xv. 19. "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders,” &c. Rom. vii. 14. “the law is spiritual, but I am carnal.” Rom. viii. 7. “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” Gal. v. 7. “ the flesh lusteth against the Spirit.” Eph. iv. 22. “the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts."

This depravity was engendered in us by our first parents. Job xiv. 4. "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?”' xv. 14. “what is man that he should be clean ? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous ?" Psa. li. 5. “ behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” lviii. 3. “ they go astray as soon as they be born.” Isai. xlvü. 8. “ thou wast called a transgressor from the womb." John iü. 6. “that which is born of the flesh is

Eph. ii. 3. we were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” those even who are born of regenerate

8 This is incorrect. Augustine wrote in the beginning of the fifth century, but the term had been before employed by Cyprian, in the middle of the third. • Fuerant et ante Christum viri insignes, prophetæ et sacer. dotes ; sed in peccatis concepti et nati, nec originali nec personali caruere delicto.' De Jejunio et Tentatione. Milton only once admits the expression into his poem:

Wept at completing of the mortal sin
Original.

Paradise Lost, IX. 1003. See Taylor's Doctrine and Practice of Repentance, Chap. iv. Sect. i. Works, IX. 1.

ور

flesh.

parents ; for faith, though it takes away the personal imputation of guilt, does not altogether remove indwelling sin. It is not therefore man as a regenerate being, but man in his animal capacity, that propagates his kind; as seed, though cleared from the chaff and stubble, produces not only the ear or grain, but also the stalk and husk. Christ alone was exempt from this contagion, being born by supernatural generation, although descended from Adam. Heb. vii. 26.

holy, undefiled.”

Some contend that this original sin is specially guiltiness ;' but guiltiness is not so properly sin, as the imputation of sin, which is also called the judgement of God, (Rom. i. 32. “who knowing the judgement of God”) whereby sinners are accounted worthy of death, and become 'Tóðixos, that is,

guilty before God,” Rom ü19. and “ are under sin,” v. 9. Thus our first parents, in whom, as above observed, there could have been no original sin, were involved in guiltiness immediately upon their fall; and their posterity, before original sin was yet engendered, were involved in the same guiltiness in Adam; besides, guiltiness is taken away in those who are regenerate, while original sin remains.

Others define original sin to be the loss of original righteousness, and the corruption of the whole mind. But before this loss can be attributed to us, it must be attributed to our first parents, to whom, as was argued before, original sin could not attach; in them therefore it was what is called actual sin, which these divines themselves distinguish

from original sin. At any rate it was the consequence * of sin, rather than sin itself; or if it were sin, it was a

sin of ignorance ; for they expected nothing less than that they should lose any good by eating the fruit, or suffer harm in any way whatever. I shall therefore consider this loss of original righteousness in the following chapter,

9. Concupiscentia est reatus originalis peccati.' August. in libro Retractationum.

1. Peccatum originis varie admodum definitur a theologis, ita ut quid per ipsum intelligant vix satis capi possit. Scholastici dicunt vulgo, esse carentiam justitiæ originalis debitæ inesse. Sed Protestantes non acqui. escunt in hac definitione, nec etiam inter se bene consentiunt. Curcell. Dissertatio secunda de Peccato Originis, 5. See Calvin's Objections to this Definition, Institut. II. 1, 8. Compare also Thomas Aquinas, 12 Qu. 82, Art. 1. Concl.

« PreviousContinue »