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upon the whole it is probable that our condition is more favourable to virtue than that of Adam. That the facred writers did not consider it as, upon the whole, worse than his, is evident from their never giving the least hint, that any allowance will be made to men for that natural disadvantage. Nay many of the finful posterity of Adam are blamed inore severely than he was for his fin: and if we consider his situation and the circumstances of his fall, we cannot suppose that he had greater strength of mind to resist temptation that we are now possessed of. Since, however, some particular texts are alledged, to prove that the nature of man is totally depraved by the fall, insomuch that all mankind, without exception, are now altogether inca. pable of any good thought, word, or action; and, moreover, that we are all subject to the everlasting wrath of God on account of the sin of Adam, I shall give a brief explication of the principal of those texts.
Gen. vi. 5. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth; and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. If we understand this passage literally, it will be contradicted by the character which is im. mediately afterwards given of Noah, of whom it is said, ver. 9, that he was a juft man, and perfeet in his generation, and that he walked with God. But it is plain that this wickedness of inankind was not ow
ing ing to any natural depravity, which their derivation, 'from Adam rendered necessary, but that it was a voluntary corruption, and had its rise from themfelves only; for it is said, ver. 12. that God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. Besides, this state of the world is alledged as a justification of the divine proceedings against them, whereas, if they had been corrupt by the necessity of nature, it 'must have operated as a plea in their favour, with that being who considers our frame, and remembers that we are but dust. If he makes suitable allow. ance for the infirmities of our bodies, much more "would he consider the natural and necessary disorders of our minds.
Job xiv, 4. Who can bring a clean thing out of an · unclean ? not one. This is a proverbial expression, fignifying that nothing can be more perfect than its original ; but Job is not speaking in this place of the guilt and pollution of man, but of his sorrows and mortality.
Psalm li. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in fin did my mother conceive me. This also has very "much the air of a proverbial expression, signifying
great depravity of heart, and very early habits of "vice. That it was not intended to express a natural and invincible propensity to vice, is plain, because that would be inconsistent with the tenor of the whole psalm, in which the humble author seems
difposed to aggravate, rather than to extenuate his offences, to which this last mentioned consideration would have greatly contributed.
Rom. v. 12, 13, 14. Wherefore, as by one man fin entered into the world, and death by fin; and for death passed upon all men, for that all have finned, & Co
I think a careful and impartial reader will observe, that the apostle speaks not here of the death of children, whom he does not once mention, or refer to, through the whole argument. But he fpeaks of those who were not only capable of finning but had actually sinned, and refers us to the Mosaic history of markind in the ages between the fall of Adam and the giving of the law by Moses. Sin and death entered into the world by Adam, and death hath passed upon all men, for that all have fined, consequently must have tranfgrefled fome law, V. 14. For, before the giving of the law by Moses, fen was in the world, but fin is not imputed where there is no law: and the law of Moses they could not sin against before it was given. Neverthen less, death reigned from Adam to Mofes, even over then that had not finned after the fimilitude of Adam's transgression, i.e. by eating the forbidden fruit, or violating any positive law of life given to them.What law, then had they sinned against ? Most evidently, the law of righteousness which God had written on their hearts; the sanction of which they were also well apprized of (as the apostle speaks of . I 2
the gentiles in general, ch. i. 32, of this epistle) Who knowing the judgment of God that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the fame, but have pleafure in them that do them. Hence it appears that the apostle does not speak of the fin of Adam being imputed to make men finners, and subjeet them to death ; but of actual and personal fins, and of death as the recompence of them. Now look into the Mosaic history of this period, and we find before the flood that the wickedness of men was great in the earth. Gen. vi. 5. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. For all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth, v. II, 12. And after the food, excepting the faith and obedience of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we have little else recorded besides trangresfions of the law of righteousness, fins which men committed, though not after the fimilitude of Adam's tranfgrefion. As to the death of infants ; God, the great giver of life, hath, undoubtedly a perfect right to resume it, whenever it seemeth meet to his infinite wisdom. But I do not recollect that the fa. cred writers do any where represent it as a punishment either for Adam's fin, or their own. In a few cases they speak of it as a punishment of the fin of their immediate parents, but then, as a punishment to their parents, who had finned, not to the children who had not finned. ,
Rom. v. 6, 8. For when we were yet without
strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. But God commended his love towards us, in that while · wa were yet finners, Christ died for us.
Let the intelligent reader judge for himself, whether the apostle does not speak here of the state of mankind. (particularly of himself and the persons he writes to) before Cbrist's death, and the consequent publication of the gospel to the world, and intimate that the case is very different fince that happy event Doth he not plainly make the distinction in both verses, that we might not mistake his meaning, When we were yet without strength, and while we were yet finners? But doth the cafe continue the fame, since Christ died, with those to whom the blelings of the gospel are imparted ? then hath Christ died, and the gospel been published in vain. Yet some writers represent the state of those for whom Chrift died, and who have received the gospel, as just the fame, as to strength, with them who had not received it, and who lived before it was published. Surely, any of us would be displeased to have our words wrested to purposes so different from our intentions ; especially, when we had endeavoured to guard them from such abufe, God our maker hath given us intelligent capacities, suited to, those discoveries which he hath made of his will, whether by the light of nature, or revelation ; he hath given us also freedom of choice and action for the conduct of