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immortality, in the first covenant; it may be notwithstanding, distinguished from it: for though the heavenly blessedness was contained therein; yet it was not considered, as including in it the idea of salvation, as it does to us when revealed in the gospel.
As to the latter of those scriptures, concerning the way into the holiest of all, that is, into heaven, not being made manifest while the first tabernacle was yet standing, the meaning thereof is, that the way of our redemption, by Jesus Christ, was not so clearly revealed, or with those circumstances of glory under the ceremonial law, as it is by the gospel; or, at least, whatever discoveries were made thereof, yet the promises had not their full accomplishment, till Christ came and erected the gospeldispensation; this, therefore, doth not, in the least, militate against the argument we are maintaining. Thus concerning the blessing promised in this covenant, namely, life, by which it farther appears to be a federal dispensation.
(3.) We are now to consider the condition of man's obtaining this blessing, which, as it is expressed in this answer, was personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience.
1. He was obliged to perform obedience, which was agreeable to his character, as a subject, and thereby to own the sovereignty of his Creator, and Lawgiver, and the equity of his law, and his right to govern him, according to it, which obligation was natural, necessary, and indispensible.
2. This obedience was to be personal, that is, not performed by any other in his behalf, and imputed to him, as his obedience was to be imputed to all his posterity; and therefore, in that respect, it would not have been personal, as applied to them; but as the obedience of Christ is imputed to us in the second
3. It was to be perfect, without the least defect, and that both in heart and life. He was obliged to do every thing that God required, as well as abstain from every thing that he forbade him ; therefore we are not to suppose, that it was only his eating the forbidden fruit that would ruin him, though that was the particular sin by which he fell ; since his doing any other thing, that was in itself sinful, or his neglecting any thing that was required, would equally have occasioned his fall.
But since we are considering man's obligation to yield obedience to the divine law, it follows from hence, that it was necessary that there should be an intimation given of the rule, or matter of his obedience, and consequently that the law of God should be made known to him ; for it is absolutely necessary, not only that a law should be enacted, but promulgated, before the subject is bound to obey it. Now the law of God was made known to man two ways, agreeable to the twofold distinction thereof.
1st, The law of nature was written on his heart, in which the wisdom of God did as much discover itself, as in the subject matter of this law. In this respect, the whole law of nature might be said to be made known to him at once; the knowledge of which was communicated to him, with the powers and faculties of his soul, and was, as it were, instamped on his nature; so that he might as well plead, that he was not an intelligent creature, as that he was destitute of the knowledge of this law.
2dly, As there were, besides this, several other positive laws, that man was obliged to yield obedience to, though these could not, properly speaking, be said to be written on his heart; vet he had the knowledge hereof communicated to him. Whether this was done all at once, or at various times, it is not for us to determine; however, this we must conclude, that these positive laws could not be known in a way of reasoning, as the law of nature might. But, since we have sufficient ground to conclude, that God was pleased, in different ways and times, to communicate his mind and will to man, we are not to suppose that he was destitute of the knowledge of all those positive laws, that he was obliged to obey.
What the number of these laws was, we know not; but, as there have been, in all ages, various positive laws relating to instituted worship, doubtless, Adam had many such laws revealed to him though not mentioned in scripture. This I cannot but observe, because some persons use such modes of speaking about this matter, as though there were no other positive law, that inan was obliged to obey but that of his not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or, together with it, that which related to the observation of the sabbath. (a)
4. The obedience, which man was to perform, was to be perpetual; by which we are not to understand, that it was to be performed to eternity, under the notion of a condition of the covenant, though it certainly was, as this covenant contained in it the obligation of a law. The reason of this is very obvious; for, when any thing is performed, as a condition of obtaining a subsequent blessing it is supposed that this blessing is not to be conferred till the condition is performed. But that is inconsistent with the eternal duration of this obedience, on the performance whereof the heavenly blessedness was to be conferred; and therefore, though divines often use the word perpetual, when treating on this subject, it must be understood with this limitation, that man was to obey, without any
interruption or defect, so long as he remained in a state of probation; and this obedience had a peculiar reference to the dispensation, as it was federal : but, when this state of trial was over,
(a) Yet it is the better opinion, that he was ruinera ble only on one point.
and the blessing, promised on this condition, conferred, then, though the same obedience was to be performed to eternity, it would not be considered as the condition of a covenant, but as the obligation of a law. And this leads us to enquire,
Whether we may not, with some degree of probability, without being guilty of a sinful curiosity, determine any thing relating to the time of man's continuance in a state of trial, before the blessing promised, at least, that part of it, which consisted in the grace of confirmation, would have been conferred upon him. Though I would not enter into any subject that is over-curious, or pretend to determine that which is altogether uncertain, yet, I think this is not to be reckoned so, especially if we be not too peremptory, or exceed the bounds of modesty, in what respects this matter. All that I shall
say, concerning it, is, that it seems very probable that our first parents would have continued no longer in this state of probation, but would have attained the grace of confirmation, which is a considerable circumstance in the blessing promised in this covenant, as soon as thiy had children arrived to an age capable of obeying, or sinning, themselves, which, how long that would have been, it is a vain thing to pretend to determine.
The reason why divines suppose, that Adam's state of probation would have continued no longer, is, because these children must then either be supposed to have been confirmed in that state of holiness and happiness, in which they were or not, If they had been confirmed therein, then they would have attained the blessings of this covenant, before Adam had fulfilled the condition thereof. If they had not been confirmed, then it was possible for them to have fallen, and yet for him to have stood ; and so his performing the condition of the covenant, would not have procured the blessing thereof for them, which is contrary to the tenor thereof. When our first parents would have been removed from paradise to heaven, and so have attained the perfection of the blessings contained in this covenant, it would be a vain, presumptuous, and unprofitable thing to enquire into.
(4.) The last thing observed, in this answer, is what some call the seals annexed to this covenant, as an ordinance designed to confirm their faith therein ; and these were the two trees mentioned in Gen. ii. of which the tree of life was more proparly called a seal, than the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
1. Concerning the tree of life, several things may be observed,
1st, It was a single tree, not a species of trees, bearing one sort of fruit, as some suppose: This is evident, because it is expressly said, that it was planted in the midst of the garden, Gen. ii. 9.
2dly, The fruit thereof is said, in the same scripture, to be pleasant to the sight, and good for food, as well as that of other trees, which were ordained for the same purpose. It is a vain thing to enquire what sort of fruit it was ; and it is better to confess our ignorance hereof, than to pretend to be wise above what is written.
3dly, It is called the tree of life. Some suppose, that the principal, if not the only reason, of its being so called, was, because it was ordained to preserve man's natural life, or prevent any decay of nature ; or to restore it, if it were in the least impaired, to its former vigour. And accordingly they suppose, that, though man was made immortal, yet some things might have happened to him, which would have had a tendency to impair his health, in some degree, and weaken and destroy the temperament of his body, by which means death would gradually, according to the course of nature, be brought upon him : But, as a relief against this, he had a remedy always at hand; for the fruit of this tree, by a medicinal virtue, would effectually restore him to his former state of health, as much as meat, drink, and rest, have a natural virtue to repair the fatigues, and supply the necessities of nature, in those who have the most healthful constitution, which would, notwithstanding, be destroyed, without the use thereof. But, though there be somewhat of spirit and ingenuity in this supposition ; yet why may we not suppose, that the use of any other food might have the same effect, which would be always ready at hand, whenever he had occasion for it, or wherever he resided ?
Therefore I cannot but conclude, that the principal, if not the only reason, of the tree of life's being so called, was because it was, by God's appointment, a sacramental sign and ordinance for the faith of our first parents, that, if they retained their integrity, they might be assured of the blessed event thereof, to wit, eternal life, of which this was, as it is called in this answer, a pledge; and it contained in it the same idea, for substance, as other sacraments do, namely, as it was designed not to confer, but to signity the blessing promised, and as a farther means to encourage their expectation thereof: Thus our first parents were to eat of the fruit of this tree, agreeably to the nature of other sacramental signs, with this view, that hereby the thing signifi. ed might be brought to their remembrance, and they might take occasion, at the same time, to rely on God's promise, relating to the blessing which they expected ; and they might be as much assured, that they should attain eternal life, in case they persisted in their obedience, as they were, that God had given them this tree, and liberty to eat thereof, with the expectation of this blessing signified thereby.
Now, to make it appear, that it was designed as a sacramental sign of eternal life, which was promised in this covenant, we may consider those allusions to it in the New Testament, whereby the heavenly glory is set forth : thus it is said, To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God, Rev. ii. 7. and elsewhere, Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, chap. xxii. 14. It seems very plain, that this respects, in those scriptures, the heavenly glory, which is called the New Jerusalem ; or it has a particular application to that state of the church, When God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, chap. xxi. 4. and it is mentioned immediately after, Christ's coming quickly, and his rewards being with him, chap. xxii. 12. and there are several other passages, which might be easily observed, which agree only with the heavenly state. Therefore, since this glory is thus described, why may we not suppose, that the heavenly state was signified by this tree to Adam, in paradise ?
And, that this may farther appear, let it be considered, that nothing is more common, in scripture, than for the Holy Ghost to represent the thing signified by the sign : Thus sanctification, which was one thing signified by circumcision, is called, The circumcision made without hands, Coloss. ii. 11. and regeneration, which is signified by baptisın, is called, our being born of water, John iji. 5. and Christ, whose death was signiked by the passover, is called, Our Passover, 1 Cor. v. 7. Many other instances, of the like nature, might be produced ; therefore, since the heavenly glory is represented by the tree of life, why may we not suppose, that the reason of its being so called, was, because it was ordained, at first, to be a sacramental sign or pledge of eternal life, which our first parents were given to expect, according to the tenor of that covenant, which they were under ?
Object. 1. It is objected, bý, some, that sacramental signs, ceremonies, or types, were only adapted to that dispensation, which the church of the Jews were under, and therefore were not agreeable to that state in which man was at first.
Answ. The ceremonial law, it is true, was not known, nor did it take place, while man was in a state of innocency ; nor was it God's ordinary way to instruct him then by signs ; yet it is not inconsistent with that state, for God to ordain one or two signs, as ordinances, for the faith of our first parents, the signification whereof was adapted to the state, in which they were, any more than our Saviour's instituting two significant ordinances under the gospel, viz. baptism, and the Lord's supper, as having relation to the blessings expected therein, is inconsistent with this present dispensation, in which we have nothing to do with the ceremonial law, any more than our first