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render them more miserable than infants can be, who never had these means of grace in this world.
But, because it is not safe to be too peremptory as to this matter, all that I shall farther observe is, that whatever conceptions they may have of the happiness, which they are not possessed of, yet they shall not have that part of the punishment of sin, which consists in self-reflection, on the dishonour that they have brought to God or the various aggravations of sin committed, which is a very great degree of the punishment of sin in hell; and therefore, when the wrath of God is said to break in on the consciences of men, whereby, in a judicial way, sins, before committed, are brought to remembrance, and the means of grace, which they have neglected, cannot but occasion the greatest distress and misery, this is certainly a punishment that infants cannot be liable to; and, if the condition of the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon is represented by our Sa.viour, as more tolerable than that of Capernaum, so in proportion the condemnation of infants, who have no other guilt but that of original sin, will be more tolerable than that of the heathen, inasmuch as they had no natural capacities of doing good or evil. And this is all that I pretend to determine, which amounts to no more than this, that, since punishment must be proportioned to the crime; as they are liable only to the guilt of Adam's sin, which is much less than being liable to it, with those other transgressions that proceed from it, therefore their punishment must be less than that of any others. This, I think, may safely be asserted: and, if we proceed no farther in our enquiries about this matter, but confess our ignorance of many things relating to the state and capacity of separate souls, it will be more excuseable, than for us to pretend to a greater degree of knowledge, than is consistent with our present state.
II. We shall consider the punishment due to original sin, when attended with many actual sins, proceeding from a nature defiled, and prone to rebel against God. This is greater or less, in proportion to the habits of sin contracted, as will be more particularly considered, when we speak of the aggravations of sin, and its desert of punishment.* We shall therefore, at present, speak to it in the method in which it is laid down in this answer.
1. By the fall of our first parents, all mankind lost communion with God. This was enjoyed at first; for God having made man, with faculties capable of this privilege, designed to converse with him; and, indeed, this was one of the blessings promised in the covenant, which he was under, and it was a kind of prelibation of the heavenly state; therefore it follows,
• See Qruest. cliclii. VOL. II.
that the fall of our first parents could not but first expose themselves, and then their posterity, to the loss of this privilege ; and, indeed, this was the more immediate result of sin committed, and guilt hereby contracted. It is a reflection on the divine perfections to suppose that God will have communion with sinners, while they remain in a state of rebellion against him; or that he will love and manifest himself to them, and admit them into his presence, as friends and favourites, unless there be a Mediator who engages to repair the injury offered to the holiness and justice of God, and secure the glory of his perfections, in making reconciliation for sin, and thereby bringing them into a state of friendship with God: But this privilege man had no right to, or knowledge of when first he fell, and consequently God and man could not walk together, as not being agreed, Amos iii. 3. God was obliged, in honour, to withdraw from him, and thereby testify his displeasure against sin, as he tells his people, Your iniquities have separated between you and your God; and your sins have hid his face from you, Isa. lix. 2.
This consequence of sin is judicial ; and, at the same time, through the corruption of nature, as the result of that enmity against God, which follows on our fallen state, man is farther considered, as not desiring to converse with God: His guilt inclined him to fly from him, as a sin-revenging Judge ; and his loss of God's supernatural image, consisting in holiness of heart and life, rendered him disinclined, yea, averse to this privilege ; so that, as he was separate from the presence of God, he desired to have nothing more to do with him, which is the immediate result of his sinful and fallen state.
2. Dlan, by his fall, was exposed to the divine displeasure, or to the wrath of God, in which respect, as the apostles says, we are, by nature children of wrath, Eph. ii. 3. by which we are not to understand, as some do, who deny the guilt and punishment of original sin, that nothing is intended hereby, but that we are inclined to wrath as signifying those depraved and corrupt passions, whereby we are prone to hate God, and holiness, which is his image in man, which is rather the consequence of original sin, and discovers what we are by practice, whereas this text speaks of what we are by nature; and it seems a very great strain and force on the sense of the word, when some understand this mode of speaking, that we are children of wrath only by custom, which according to the proverbial expression is a second nature; or as tho’ it only signified the temper of their minds, or their behaviour towards one another, as giving way to their passions as the apostle says, that they lived in malice and envy, and hated one another, T'it, Bi. 3. as though it denoted only the effects of the corruption
of nature, not their liableness to the wrath of God due to it; whereas it is plain, that the apostle makes use of an hebraism, very frequently occurring in scripture, both in the Old and New Testament; as when a person, that is guilty of a capital crime, and liable to suffer death, is called, A son of death : so our Saviour calls Judas, who was liable to perdition, A son of perdition, John xvii. 12. so here children of wrath are those that were liable to the wrath of God, by which we are to understand that punishment, which is the demerit of sin; not that wrath is a passion in God, as it is in us; but it signifies either his will to punish, or his actual inflicting punishment on them, in proportion to the crimes committed, whereby he designs to glorify his holiness. If this be meant by the punishment due to all mankind, as they come into the world with the guilt of the sin of our first parents, in which respect guilt denotes a liableness to punishment and all punishment contains some degree of wrath ; I say, if this be the meaning of their being so by nature, I am far from denying it. For the only thing that I have militated against, is, the supposition, that the punishment due to original sin imputed, bears an equal proportion to that of guilt contracted, whereby the nature of man is rendered more depraved, by a continuance in sin; and therefore I cannot but acquiesce in that explication given hereof by the learned Beza, who is a most strenuous defender of original sin,* who, when he speaks of men as children of wrath, by nature, as all mankind are included herein, understands this, not as referring to the human nature, as created by God, but as corrupted by its compliance with the suggestions of Satan; and therefore we suppose, that as the corruption of nature is daily increased, whatever punishment is due to it, at first, there is notwithstanding a greater condemnation, which it is exposed to, as the consequence of sin committed and continued in; and this is described, in scripture, in such a way, as renders it, beyond expression, dreadful; Who knoweth the power of thine anger ? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath, Psal. xc. 11. or, as the prophet says, Who can stand before his indignation and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger, Nah. i. 6.
3. Man, as fallen, is exposed to the curse of God, which is an external declaration of his hatred of sin, and will to punish it, which we sometimes call the condemning sentence of the law, as the apostle says, As many as are of the works of the law, are under a curse as it is written, Cursed is every
one that * Vid Bez. in loc. Ubicunque Ira est, ibi & peccatum ; quo sine erceptione ina volvi totam Itumanam gentem idem testatur, Rom. i. 18. Sed naturam tamen intellige non quatenus create cet, verum quatenus per Diaboli suggestionem corrupta o a seipsa.
continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them, Gal. iii. 10. so that whatever threatnings there are by which God discovers his infinite hatred of sin, these we are liable to as the consequence of our fallen state; and accordingly, as we were, at first, separate from God, the sin of our nature tends, according to the various aggravations thereof, to make the breach the wider, and our condemnation much greater.
4. By the fall, we became bond-slaves to Satan : thus it is said, that the devil has the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. and sinners are described, as walking according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, Eph. ii. 2. and he is elsewhere described, as a strong man armed, who keeps the palace, till a stronger than he shall overcome him, and take from him all his armour, Luke xi. 21, 22. The heart of man is the throne in which he reigns, and men are naturally inclined to yield themselves slaves to him, and corrupt nature gives him the greatest advantage .against us. None of us can say, as our Saviour did, The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me, John xiv, 30. for we are as ready to comply, as he is to tempt, especially if not prevented by the grace of God, and therefore may well be said to be bond-slaves to him. No age, or condition of life, is exempted from his assaults, and he suits his temptations to our natural tempers, and hereby we are overcome, and more and more enslaved by him; and certainly this must be a state of misery, and that more especially, because such are enemies to Christ, and withdraw themselves from his service, despising his protection, and the rewards he has promised to his faithful servants; and our Saviour says, that we cannot serve two masters, Mat. vi. 24. and so long as we continue bondslaves to Satan, we contract greater guilt, and the dominion of sin increases therewith ; so that to be the servants of Satan, is to be the servants of sin ; and we are herein miserable, in that we serve one who intends nothing but our ruin, and is pleased in all steps leading to it, and will be as ready to accuse, torment, and make us more miserable in the end, as he is to solicit or desire our service, or as we can be to obey him. Let us therefore use our utmost endeavours, that we may be free from this bondage and servitude; and accordingly let us consider,
(1.) That Satan has no right to our service. Though he be permitted to rule over the children of disobedience; yet he has no divine grant, or warrant for it, to render it lawful for him to demand it, or us to comply therewith, and he is no other than an usurper, and declared enemy to the king of heaven; and,
though sinners are suffered to give themselves up to him, this is far from being by divine approbation; therefore,
(2.) Let us professedly renounce, groan under, and endeavour, through the grace of God to withdraw ourselves from his service, whenever we are led captive by him, and not be his willing slaves, to obey him with our free consent, or out of choice, and with pleasure; and, in order hereunto,
(3.) Let us list ourselves into Christ's service, put ourselves under his protection, and desire his help, against the wiles and fiery darts of the devil.
(4.) Let us improve the proclamation of liberty made in the gospel, and rejoice in it, as the most desirable blessing, If the Son make you free, then shall ye be free indeed, John viii. 36.
The last thing observed in this answer, is, that, as fallen creatures we are justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come; by which we are to understand, not only the consequences of original sin, imputed to, but inherent in us, and increased by that guilt which we daily contract, which exposes the sinner to punishment in both worlds, in proportion to the aggravations thereof. This we are led to speak to, in the two following answers. (a)
(a) It has been frequently objected, if they that are in the flesh be dead in sin, or so wholly inclined to evil, that they" cannot please God,” they must be viewed as miserable rather than guilty, as objects of pity rather than subjects for punishment.
To analyse is to enervate this objection. Wherein consists the impotency, and what is the guilt of an evil action? If there be any physical defect in the understanding, or any external obstacle, which may prevent a conformity to the reveal. ed will of God; it is an excuse, the party is clear: but this inability is of a different kind; the sensual heart is prevailingly inclined to the objects of time and sense, and the mind possesses no ability to resist its strongest inclination, which is but the common case of every deliberate choice. Evil men cannot see, because they shut their eyes ; they cannot hear, because they stop their ears; they cannot come to Christ, or, which is the same thing, will not apply to him by faith. They persevere in such opposition until death or despair fixes their enmity; except their wills are changed, and they are drawn by divine grace.
The guilt of an evil action, depends not upon, or exists not in the mere action of the body; otherwise brutes, and machines of wood and metal, would be subjects of blame. The guilt is seated in the intention, and lies in the inclination of the mind to that which is prohibited ; and the habitual preponderancy of the inclinations to evil, marks a worse character, than a sudden and individual choice of it.
If the prevailing desires of that which is evil, be the only impotency of the state of death in sin, and at the same time the only guilt of the party; this inability and guilt are concomitant, and always in exact proportion to each other; or rather may be considered as the same thing, under different aspects and names : it results therefore that as certainly as vice is not virtue, the impotency to good of the unenewed man, is no excuse for his guilt.