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precept, he must have the same right to remit the penalty of his own law. But he would have no right to forgive in any case, if his threatenings always pledge his veracity to execute them. And since it must be allowed that he had a right to forgive Adam, it must be allowed that he did not pledge his veracity to inflict upon him the death he had threatened, either on the day he sinned, or at any other time. This is no novel or solitary opinion. Mr. Baxter, Dr. Gale, and Bishop Stillingfleet, professedly treating upon the subject, maintained that God did not pledge his veracity to inflict the death which he threatened to Adam in case of his eating of the forbidden fruit. And the venerable Assembly of divines express the same sentiment. They ask, "What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?” And they answer, “All mankind by the fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself
, and to the pains of hell for ever.” If God does pledge his veracity in his threatenings, then all mankind, who are under his wrath and curse, are not only liable to the pains of hell for ever, but must actually suffer them to all eternity. There is therefore no more reason to believe that God pledges his veracity in a simple threatening, than to believe that all mankind will be for ever lost. We may hence conclude that God might have pardoned and saved Adam, notwithstanding he had threatened to punish him with eternal death for his first offence.
Thirdly. It may be said that if God did not pledge his veracity to execute the threatening to Adam, then he had nothing to fear either before or after he had transgressed the divine prohibition. As the threatening did not lay God under obligation to fulfil it, so it had no tendency to deter him from eating of the forbidden fruit, nor to alarm his fears after he had eaten of it. And if God did not pledge his veracity to execute the threatening to Adam, then there is no reason to think that he pledges his veracity to execute his threatenings to the finally impenitent under the gospel; and consequently there is ground to believe that they will all be finally saved.
It does by no means follow from the supposition that God did not pledge his veracity to execute the threatening to Adam, that it had no tendency to deter him from disobedience, nor to alarm bis fears after he had disobeyed. Though God's mere threatening did not pledge his veracity nor his design, yet it did clearly express his disapprobation of his disobedience, and his disposition to punish him, if he disobeyed. And after he had disobeyed, he had just grounds to expect to be punished; for God had a right to punish him; God had power to punish
him; and God had expressed his disposition to punish him. He had every reason to expect that God would punish bim, except his pledging his veracity ; which he does not, cannot pledge in a bare threatening. So that the threatening which expressed the right, the power and the disposition of God to punish him, was perfectly calculated to deter him from disobedience, and to sink him into despair of mercy after he had disobeyed. This answer applies with equal force to the threatenings which God has denounced against the finally impenitent under the gospel. God has a right to punish them according to his threatenings; God has power to punish them according to his threatenings; and God has expressed his disposition to punish them according to his threatenings; so that they have every reason to expect to be punished, and no reason to expect to escape punishment. And surely such threatenings are perfectly calculated to deter them from rejecting the gospel, and to alarm their fears of being for ever lost, if they finally reject the counsel of God against themselves. But allowing it to be true that the mere threatening, “ He that believeth not shall be damned," does not render it absolutely certain that those who die in impenitence and unbelief shall be finally lost; yet there are other threatenings which pledge the divine veracity, and render it absolutely certain that all who die in impenitence and unbelief shall certainly perish for ever. There is one species of divine threatenings to the wicked, which imply promises of mercy to the righteous. We read, “ The wicked shall be a ransoin for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.” We read, “ The Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea," " for it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion."
We read, " Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob - I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” There is another species of divine threatenings to the wicked, which imply predictions of their future punishment. Our Lord predicted, that “the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” He also predicted the day of judgment: “ Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." 66 Then shall he say also unto thern on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." All these divine threatenings to the wicked, which imply either promises or predictions, pledge the divine veracity, and lay God under moral obligation to execute them. It is therefore just as certain that all the finally impenitent will be sentenced to eternal destruction, as that there will be a day of judgment.
But supposing such divine threatenings, as imply either a promise or a prediction, do pledge the divine veracity, and consequently do prove that all who die in impenitence and unbelief shall certainly be condemned to eternal punishment at the last day; yet it may be asked, How does it appear from such a sentence that God may not, in some future period of eternity, pardon and save those whom he had doomed to endless misery, if his last threatening does not pledge his veracity ?
To this I answer, the gospel itself shuts up every door of hope to the vessels of wrath. For if God should pardon and save them, he must do it either on account of a greater or a less atonement than that which Christ has made, or without any atonement at all. But it is certain that no greater atonement can be made than that which Christ has made; and therefore God cannot pardon and save them on account of an atonement greater than the atonement of Christ. There is no reason to suppose that God will ever pardon and save them on account of a less atonement than the atonement of Christ, after he has condemned them to eternal destruction for rejecting that very atonement. And if he will not pardon and save them on account of a less atonement than the atonement of Christ, it cannot be supposed that he will pardon and save them without any atonement at all. It now appears, I trust, that the supposition of God's not pledging his veracity in his threatening to Adam, or in his threatenings to the finally impenitent, does not afford the least countenance or support to the doctrine of universal salvation.
1. It appears from what has been said, that mankind have never suffered any kind of punishment, by virtue of the law of Paradise. That law was given to Adam exclusively of his posterity, and neither required any thing of them, nor threatened any thing to them. He alone was required to abstain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; he alone was threatened with eternal death, in case he disobeyed the divine prohibition; and after he had disobeyed, he alone deserved the punishment threatened. It was morally impossi
ble, therefore, that his posterity should have been involved either in the guilt or punishment of his first transgression, which he alone committed before they existed. But here it may be asked, Did not the fall bring all mankind into a state of sin and misery ? and does not the apostle plainly tell us so, when he says: “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned?” It is readily granted that all mankind have been brought into a state of sin and misery, in consequence of Adam's first sin. But this may be true, and yet they never suffer the least degree of punishment for it. Even supposing that we do derive a sinful nature from Adam, and do deserve to be punished for that sinful nature, and for all the sinful actions which proceed from it; and supposing still farther, that we are actually punished according to our deserts; this by no means implies that we are guilty of his first sin, or are punished for it. The only reason why any suppose that we are brought into a state of sin and misery, as a punishment for Adam's first offence, is because they suppose that he was our legal or federal head, by virtue of the law of Paradise. But that law did not make him our legal, or federal head. He became our public head or representative, not by virtue of any law or covenant, but by virtue of a divine constitution. God, as a sovereign, constituted him to be the public head of his posterity, and established a connection between his first sin and their future sin and misery. God determined that if Adam should eat of the forbidden fruit, he would bring all his posterity into the world in a state of sin and misery. But how does it appear, some may be ready to inquire, that God did make such a constitution? I answer, it appears both from scripture and from fact. It appears from scripture ; for we read, “ By one man's disobedience many were made sinners.” And it appears from fact; because God has actually brought all mankind into the world in a state of sin and misery. This he could not have done by virtue of any law, or by virtue of any covenant; and therefore he must have done it by virtue of a divine constitution. He had a right, as a sovereign, to constitute a connection between Adam's first sin and the sin and misery of his posterity; and according to such a constitution, to bring them into the world sinful and miserable creatures, in consequence of his first transgression. By thus distinguishing the law of Paradise from a divine constitution, it is easy to account for all the consequences of the first apostacy, without supposing that God is so unjust as to punish any of Adam's posterity for his sin, which they never did nor could commit.
2. If the law of Paradise has been justly explained, then it
was not a covenant of works, as many have supposed. A great deal has been said and written about the first covenant of works, which God made with man in his primitive state, respecting both himself and all his posterity. But where do we find any such covenant in scripture? The law of Paradise was no such covenant; for it contained no stipulation or mu. tual agreement between God and Adam, in regard to himself, or his future offspring. God made no promise of good to Adam on condition of his perfect obedience, but only threatened him with eternal death, in case he disobeyed his positive command. There is indeed good reason to believe that if Adam had not transgressed the law of Paradise, he would have secured his own future innocence, and the future innocence of all his posterity, But this would have been not by virtue of any law, or covenant, but by virtue of a divine constitution. Hád not this constitution been mistaken for the law of Paradise, and the law of Paradise for a covenant of works, it is probable that we should never have heard of any such thing as a covenant of works. There is no intimation in scripture that a covenant of works ever existed; and we must give up this unscriptural notion, before we can form clear and just ideas of the primitive state of Adam, and of the fatal effects of his fall upon his posterity.
3. If God did not, in the law of Paradise, pledge his veracity to execute the threatening upon the first transgressor, then it is easy to see that there was room for ihe interposition of a mediator, to make atonement for sin, and thereby open a door of mercy to the fallen, guilty race. But upon the common supposition that God did pledge his veracity to inflict eternal deaih upon Adam for his first transgression, the door of merey must have been for ever shut, and no room left for a mediator. For no atonement that a mediator could make, could render it consistent for God to violate his veracity. This difficulty has occurred to many, who have attempted to solve it, but without success. It is not sufficient to say in this case, what has often been said, that God could and did maintain his veracity by executing the penalty of the law upon Christ, who was the substitute for Adam, and died in his room and stead. This is altering, instead of explaining the law of Paradise. It is supposing that the law said what it did not say. It did not say, in the day thou eatest thereof, thou or thy substitute shall surely die. If ihe law had said this, it is granted that the threatening would have left room for a substitute. But the law expressly said, "in the day thou (Adam) eatest thereof, thou (Adam) shalt surely die.” Now if this threatening pledged the veracity of God, he was under infinite obligation to inflict the threatened punish