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But still the 'question returns : How are we to blame, after all for Adam's disobedience? Another man may

be more likely not to sin than I am ; or a tree may be more likely to stand a number of years, than I should be to persevere so long in perfect holiness : but if that other man should sin, or if that tree should fall, is it my fault ? Can I deserve to be punished for such a contingency, which it was not in my power to prevent ? We do not, surely, connect the ideas of praise and blameworthiness, with a lucky or an unfortunate draught in a lottery. Kindness may be shown, and wisdom discovered, in giving one a favorable chance, or in putting one's interest upon a hopeful issue ; but this has nothing to do with vindicating the righteousness, of considering and treating any one as a sinner, for an act not his own, or an event in which he had no activity. This solution does not appear satisfactory.

Another way to reconcile our being condemned for the offence of Adam, has therefore been attempted : namely, by having recourse to deep metaphysical researches, on the subject of personal identity. It has been said, the sameness of persons is not founded in nature; but merely in arbitrary divine constitution. That our present existence has no dependance on the past. That the preservation of men, and of every thing else, is really a new creation every moment, That no man is the same person now, that he was twenty years ago, or yesterday, for any other reason than because God hath so constituted. And therefore, if it be a divine constitution that Adam and all his posterity should be one, they are one and the same, to all personal intents and purposes. They are just, ly punishable for his disobedience; because it is in fact their disobedience, by reason of this constituted oneness, or sameness of person.

But this seems to be diving in metaphysics, below the bottom of things; or quite beyond the fathom of common sense. This is not to reconcile the doctrine

of original sin with our natural notions of justice : for it is foreign from all our natural notions entirely.

It may be objected to this notion of personal identity, that it leaves out what is evidently most essential to it ; namely, personal consciousness. Every one is conscious of being the same person to-day, that he was yesterday, without ever hearing of such an arbitrary divine constitution : but no one can be conscious that he is the same person, that took and did eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden, nearly six thousand years ago ; let him be told ever so often, that Adam and he have been constituted one and the same.

It may be objected, that, according to this way of reasoning, there can be no such thing as a man's knowing who he is, or who he is not. It can be known, at least, only from divine revelation : and how many unrevealed constitutions there may be, making two, or twenty, or thousands of men, one person, no man can tell. If it were true that one man's act might thus be made the act of another, by constituting them one person in law, we could have no kind of certainty whose sins we are answerable for, nor who may be answerable for those which we used to think our own." According to this, no one can know, from his own feelings, or from reason and the nature of things, that he is justly punishable for any thing he ever did; or that he is not justly punishable for all the evil deeds which have ever been done in the uni

This notion of unions of different men, making them one in law; and of thus transfering praise and blameworthiness from one to another, seems utterly inconsistent with the possibility of knowing what we deserve, or are to expect, let us be or do what we will : and therefore to be incompatible with all moral government, by promises and threatenings, rewards and punishments.

I must freely confess, after all the solutions which I have heard or read, or am able to invent, there


appears to me an insuperable difficulty in reconciling the strict imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity, with any notions we have of justice. By a strict imputation in this case, I mean, judging them guilty of his eating the forbidden fruit; or condemning them for it, as though they had done it themselves. If the inspired scriptures are to be understood as teaching this doctrine, I must leave it, for the present, among the incomprehensibles of revealed religion.

But I am not certain that any passage of scripture must necessarily be so understood. The text we are now upon, appears to assert such an imputation, perhaps, the most expressly of any one in all the Bible. But possibly the meaning of this may only be ; that by the fall of Adam, human nature became depraved : and that this depravity, and condemnation as the consequence, have descended from father to son ever since: and not that we are condemned for Adam's transgression, as if it had been our own act. It is said, by, not for, the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation. And how it came, is explained in the next verse. man's disobedience, many were made sinners.Not constituted sinners, without any fault of their own, or any thing sinful in themselves. That would be no advance from the foregoing assertion. It would be a mere tautology-a needless repetition of the same thing. To be constituted sinners by the disobedience of another, without being at all so personally considered ; is nothing different from having condemnation come upon us for another's offence. Since, therefore, the apostle expresses himself in the form of argumentation, and of infering one thing from an. other, he cannot well be understood to assert that all men are condemned for Adam's offence; and then to add, as a proof or explanation of it, For they are constituted sinners, as guilty of his disobedience. It is natural to understand him as saying first in general,



" For by one

that all men were some way brought into a state of condemnation by means of Adam's sin ; and then as telling us more particularly how : namely, as hereby they became depraved and sinful creatures. Being in this way made sinners, personally considered, of course, the judgment to condemnation comes upon them as such.

This, I apprehend, is the true scripture doctrine of original sin. Sin comes to all men from Adam by derivation, in the first place ; and not by a previous imputation. All men are condemned as sinful themselves ; and not antecedently to their being so, for the offence of another. Adam, (including Eve,) was the original introducer of sin : “ By one man sin entered into the world;" and from him it hath descend. ed to all men ; and death, as the righteous consequence. He begat a son in his own likeness, and that another in his ; and so on in all succeeding generations. All justly share in the same curse because all are partakers of the same depravity. Yet, by the coming of death upon all men in this way, the infinite offence given to God by the disobedience of our first parents, is manifested to this day, and will be to the end of the world : this being the source, the inlet, the primary cause, of such extensive and long continued ruin. It all comes as a token of the divine displeasure on account of the original apostacy; though it comes in this righteous order, the personal sin of each individual, before his punishment.

In no other way than this, do I believe, God ever inficts misery on one, because of the sin of another. He says indeed, as a reason enforcing the second commandment; “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” But by this we need not understand that he ever visits the children in his wrath, more than their own iniquities deserve. The Jews in Babylon so construed former threatenings, it

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seems, and supposed they were pining away in captivity, merely for the transgressions of their progenitors. Hence they used this proverb ; “ The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge ;” and hence they said, “ The ways of the Lord are not equal.” But the Most High tells them they misunderstood the matter ; and he lays it down as the universal rule of his moral administration, “ Every man shall die for his own sins.” God may send calamities upon children, which he would not have sent upon them, had it not been for the iniquities of their ancestors. He may threaten parents with the ruin of their offspring, as the consequence of their idolatry, profaneness, lewdness, intemperance, or neglect of parental duties ; and he may execute such threatenings. In this way, God's visiting the iniquity of fathers upon children is agreeable to his common Providence ; and his threatening so to do may answer important purposes. - It will have a powerful tendency to restrain parents from vice and negligence, unless they are without natural affection. But we are not to suppose that the children, in such cases, are ever miserable beyond the measure of their own demerit; or that they are any more sinful than they might justly have been left to be, if they had had the best of parents. Accordingly, it is sometimes seen that the most virtuous and pious persons have as abandoned, and as wretched children, as any in the world ; which shows that this is a matter of divine sovereignty. It hence appears that children may be miserable without its being a punishment of them for their parents' sins ; though wicked parents are often punished in the misery of their children.

In this way, and in no other that I know of, can we reconcile what God says of his visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, with his solemn declaration in Ezekiel, already mentioned ; “ 'The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,” &c. The evident meaning of which declaration is, that no

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