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be just; whereas if they had chosen them themselves, they would have no reason to complain of any injustice that was done them, inasmuch as the laws, made by their representatives, are, in effect, their own laws. Therefore, to apply this to the case before us, had all mankind chose Adam to be their representative, or consented to stand or fall in him, there would have been no reason to complain of the dispensation of God's providence, relating hereunto: but, inasmuch as it was otherwise, it does not seem agreeable to the justice of God, to constitute him the head and representative of all his posterity : so that, by his fall, they should be involved in ruin, and eternal perdition.
Answ. There are various methods taken to answer this objection.
1. Some say little more to it than this : That if Adam had retained his integrity, we should have accepted of, and rejoiced in that life, which he would have procured by his standing; there would then have been no complaint, or finding fault, with the divine dispensation, as though it had been unjust; therefore, since he fell, and brought death into the world, it is reasonable that we should submit, and acknowledge, that all the ways of God are equal. But, though we must all allow that submission to the will of God, in whatever he does, is the creatures duty, yet I cannot think this a sufficient answer to the objection, and therefore would not lay much stress upon it, but proceed to consider what may be farther said in answer to it.
2. Others say, that, since Adam was the common father, and consequently the most honourable of mankind, (our Saviour only excepted, whom he did not represent) therefore it was fit that he should have this honour conferred upon him; so that, had all his posterity been existent, and the choice of a representative been wholly referred to them, the law of nature would have directed to, and pointed out the man, who ought, in this respect, to have the preference to all others. This answer bids fairer, I confess to remove the difficulty than the other, especially if it be added, that God might have given Adam some advantages of nature, above the rest of mankind, besides that relative one, arising from his being their common father; and therefore, that it would have been their interest, as well as their duty, to have chosen him, as being best qualified to perform the work that was devolved upon him.
3. But, since this will not wholly remove the difficulty, it is farther alleged, that God chose him, and therefore we ought to acquiesce in his choice; and, indeed, had all mankind been then existent, supposing them to be in a state of perfect holiness (and we must not suppose the contrary) then they would have acknowledged the equity of this divine dispensation, otherwise they would have actually sinned, and fallen, in rejecting and complaining of the will of God. But this will not satisfy those who advance the contrary scheme of doctrine, and deny the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity, who still complain of it, as a very severe dispensation, and conclude, that the sovereignty of God is pleaded for against his other perfections ; therefore something farther must be added, in answer to the objection.
We freely allow, that it is not equitable (to use the similitude taken from human forms of government) for a king to appoint a representative, who shall have a power committed to him, to take away the properties, or estates of his subjects : but this does not, in many respects, agree with the matter under our present consideration : nevertheless, if we were to suppose, that these subjects had nothing which they could call their own, separate from the will of the prince, and their properties and estates were not only defended, but given by him, and that upon this tenure, that he reserved to himself a right to dispossess them of them at his pleasure; in this case, he might, without any injustice done them, appoint a representative, by whose conduct they might be forfeited, or retained; and this agrees with our present argument. Accordingly let it be considered, that there were some things which Adam was possessed of in his state of innocency, and others which he was given to expect, had he stood, which he had no natural right to, separate from the divine will; therefore it follows, from hence, that God might, without doing his posterity any injustice, repose this in the hands of a mutable creature, so that it should be retained or lost for them, according as he stood or fell. And this will appear less exceptionable, when we consider the nature of that guilt, which all mankind were brought under, by Adam's sin, and the loss of original righteousness, as the consequence of his fall; which they, who maintain the other side of the question, generally represent, in such a way, as though we supposed that there were no difference between it, and the guilt contracted, together with the punishment ensuing on actual sins, how great soever they are. But this will be more particularly considered under a following answer, * in which we shall endeavour to take a just estimate of the difference between the guilt of Adam's sin, imputed to us, and that of actual sins committed by us.
Quest. XXIII. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind Answ. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.
* See Quest. xxvii. VOL. II.
QUEST. XXIV. What is sin ?
any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature. QUEST. XXV. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate
whereinto man fell? Answ. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, con
sisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created; and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritualiy good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually, which is commonly called, Original sin, and from which do proceed all actual trans
gressions. Quest. XXVI. How is original sin conveyed from our first
parents unto their posterity ? Answ. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto
their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them, in that way, are conceived and born in sin. AVING considered the fall of our first parents, and all
mankind being so far concerned therein, as that their sin is imputed to them; we are now led to speak concerning that sin and misery which ensues hereupon. And,
I. This is not barely called a single act of sin, or one particular instance of misery, but a state of sin and misery. Man's being brought into a state of sin, is sometimes called sin's reigning, or having dominion over him ; and his being brought into a state of misery, is called the reign, or dominion of death ; so that as, by various steps, we proceed from one degree of sin unto another, our condemnation is gradually enhanced thereby. This is the subject matter of the first of these answers.
II. We have a brief definition of sin, in which there is something supposed, namely, that there was a law given, and promulgated, as a rule of obedience, to the reasonable creature, without which there could be no sin committed, or guilt contracted; as the apostle saith, Where no law is, there is no transgression, Rom. iv. 15. or, Sin is not imputed, where there is no law, chap. v. 13.
And inasmuch as it is observed, that the subjects, bound by this law, are reasonable creatures, this gives us to understand, that though other creatures be the effect of God's power, and the objects of his providence, yet they are not the subjects of moral government. They cannot therefore be under a law, inasmuch as they are not capable of understanding their relation to God, as Sovereign, or their obligation to obey him, or the
aneaning of a law, which is the rule thereof. Moreover, we have in this answer, an account of the formal nature of sin.
1. It is considered, either in its negative, or rather privative idea, as containing in it a defect, or want of conformity to the law, a privation of that rectitude of nature, or righteousness that man had at first, or our not performing that which we are bound, by the law of God, to do; and those particular instances of sin, included herein, are called sins of omission.
2. It is described by its positive idea, and so it is called, a transgression of the law, or doing that which is forbidden by it.
Thus it is called, by the apostle, The transgression of the law, 1 John iii. 4. This we shall not insist on at present, inasmuch as we shall have occasion to enlarge on this head, when we consider the sins forbidden, under each of the ten commandments, and the various aggravations thereof.*
III. We are, in the next answer, led to consider the sinfulness of all mankind, as fallen in Adam, or original sin, as deriyed to, and discovered in us; and this consists more especially in our being guilty of Adam's first sin, our wanting that righteousness which he was possessed of; and also in the corruption of nature, from whence all actual transgressions proceed.
1. We shall enquire what we are to understand by the guilt of Adam's first sin. Having before shewn that his disobedience is imputed to his posterity, that which is the result thereof, is, that all the world becomes guilty before God: guilt is an obligation, or liableness to suffer punishment for an offence committed, in proportion to the aggravations thereof. Now, since this guilt was not contracted by us, but imputed to us, we must consider it as the same, in all; or not admitting of any degrees; nevertheless, there is a very great difference between that guilt which is the result of sin imputed to, and that which arises from sin's being committed by us. They, who do not put a just difference between these two, give occasion to many prejudices against this doctrine, and do not sufficiently vindicate the perfections of God, in his judiciary proceedings in punishing one or the other of them. That we may avoid this inconvenience, let it be considered, that original and actual sins differ more especially in two respects.
(1.) The sin of our first parents, how heinous soever it was in them, as being an actual transgression, attended with the highest aggravations, yet it cannot be said to be our actual sin, or committed by an act of our will; therefore, though the imputation thereof to us, as has been before proved, is righteous, yet it has not those circumstances attending it, as though it had been committed by us. Therefore,
* See Quest.cy.--cli.
(2.) The guilt thereof, or the punishment due to it, cannot be so great as the guilt we contract, or the punishment we are liable to, for actual sins, which are committed with the approbation and consent of the will, and as they are against some degree of light and convictions of conscience, and manifold engagements to the contrary : but this does not properly belong to Adam's sin, as imputed to us ; nor is the punishment due to it the same, as though it had been committed by us in our own persons.
But, that we may not be misunderstood, let it be considered, that we are not speaking of the corruption of nature inherent in us. We do not deny, but that the fountain that sends forth all actual sins, or that sin reigning in the heart, is, in various respects, more aggravated, than many others that are committed, which we call actual transgressions, as the corrupt fountain iş worse than the streams, or the root than the branch, or the cause than the effect. But when we consider, as at present we do Adam's sin only, as imputed, and as being antecedent to that corruption of nature, which is the immediate cause of sinful actions ; or when we distinguish between original sin, as imputed and inherent, we only understand, by the former, that it cannot expose those who never committed any actual sins, to so great a degree of guilt and punishment, as the sins committed by them are said to expose them to.
And'let it be farther observed, that we do not say that there is no punishment due to original sin, as imputed to us; for that would be to suppose that there is no guilt attending it, which is contrary to what we have already proved; but all our design, at present, is, to put a just difference between Adam's sin, imputed to us, and those that are committed by us. And, indeed, if what we have said under this head, be not true, the state of infants, dying in infancy, under the guilt of Adam's sin, must be equally deplorable with that of the rest of mankind; therefore, when I find some expressing themselves to this purpose, I cannot wonder that others, who deny this doctrine are offended at it. It is one thing to say, that they are exposed to no punishment at all, which none, that observe the miseries that we are liable to, from our first appearance in the world, to our leaving it, whether sooner or later, can well deny; and another thing to say, that they are exposed to the same punishment for it, as though they had actually committed it; the former we allow; the latter we must take leave to deny lest we should give occasion to any to think that the Judge of all does any thing, which carries in it the least appearance of severity, and injustice. Thus concerning the guilt of Adam's first sin, imputed to us; which leads us to consider the effects thereof. Accordingly,