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CHAP. XI.-OF THE FALL OF OUR FIRST PArents, and OF SIN.
THE Providence of God as regards the fall of man, is observable in the sin of man, and the misery consequent upon it, as well as in his restoration.
SIN, as defined by the apostle, is ȧvouía, or the transgression of the law, 1 John iii. 4.
By the law is here meant, in the first place, that rule of conscience which is innate, and engraven upon the mind of man; secondly, the special command which proceeded out of the mouth of God, (for the law written by Moses was long subsequent) Gen. ii. 17. "thou shalt not eat of it." Hence it is said, Rom. ii. 12. "as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law.
Sin is distinguished into THAT WHICH IS COMMON TO ALL MEN, and THE PERSONAL SIN OF EACH INDIVIDUAL.
THE SIN WHICH IS COMMON ΤΟ ALL MEN IS THAT WHICH OUR FIRST PARENTS, AND IN THEM ALL THEIR POSTERITY COMMITTED, WHEN, CASTING OFF THEIR OBEDIENCE TO GOD, THEY TASTED THE FRUIT OF THE FOR
OUR FIRST PARENTS. Gen. iii. 6. "the woman took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.' Hence 1 Tim. ii. 14. " Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression." This sin originated, first, in the instigation of the devil, as is clear from the narrative in Gen. iii. and from 1 John iii. 8. “he that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning." Secondly, in the liability to fall with which man was created, whereby he, as the 7 That which is thus moral, besides what we fetch from those unwritten laws and ideas which nature hath engraven in us-.' Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, II. 450.
8 His crime makes guilty all his sons.
Paradise Lost, III. 290.
Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd
With his own folly ?
devil had done before him, "abode not in the truth," John viii. 44. " nor kept his first estate, but left his own habitation," Jude 6. If the circumstances of this crime are duly considered, it will be acknowledged to have been a most heinous offence, and a transgression of the whole law. For what sin can be named, which was not included in this one act? It comprehended at once distrust in the divine veracity, and a proportionate credulity in the assurances of Satan; unbelief; ingratitude; disobedience; gluttony;' in the man excessive uxoriousness, in the woman a want of proper regard for her husband, in both an insensibility to the welfare of their offspring, and that offspring the whole human race; parricide, theft, invasion of the rights of others, sacrilege, deceit, presumption in aspiring to divine attributes, fraud in the means employed to attain the object, pride, and arrogance.2 Whence it is said, Eccles. vii. 29. "God hath made man
'If our first parents, Adam and Eve, (Gen. iii. 6.) had not obeyed their greedy appetite in eating the forbidden fruit, neither had they lost the fruition of God's benefits which they then enjoyed in Paradise, neither had they brought so many mischiefs on themselves, and on all their posterity. But when they passed the bounds that God had appointed them, as unworthy of God's benefits, they are expelled and driven out of Paradise; they may no longer eat the fruits of that garden, which by excess they had so much abused.' Homily Against Gluttony.
they not obeying
Incurr'd (what could they less?) the penalty,
Paradise Lost, X. 14.
Newton has the following note on these lines. The divines, especially those of Milton's communion, reckon up several sins as included in this one act of eating the forbidden fruit; namely, pride, uxoriousness, wicked curiosity, infidelity, disobedience, &c. so that for such complicated guilt, he deserved to fall from his happy state in Paradise.' He says again, on the first appearance of Adam and Eve before God after their fall.
Love was not in their looks, either to God,
Or to each other, but apparent guilt,
Ibid. III. See also ix. 6-8.
upright, but they have sought out many inventions." James ii. 10. "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
AND IN THEM ALL THEIR POSTERITY; for even such as were not then born are judged and condemned in them, Gen. iii. 16, &c. so that without doubt they also sinned in them, and at the same time with them. Rom. v. 12. "by one man sin entered into the world." v. 15. "through the offence of one many be dead;" and v. 16. "the judgment was by one to condemnation ;" v. 17. "by one man's offence death reigned by one;" and v. 18. "by the offence of one man judgment came upon all men to condemnation ;" and v. 19. "by one man's disobedience many were made sinners." 1 Cor. xv. 22. "in Adam all die;" undoubtedly therefore all sinned in Adam. For Adam being the common parent and head of all, it follows that, as in the covenant, that is, in receiving the commandment of God, so also in the defection from God, he either stood or fell for the whole human race; in the same manner as "Levi also payed tithes in Abraham, whilst he was yet in the loins of his father," Heb. vii. 9, 10. "he hath made of one blood all nations of men," Acts xvii. 26. For if all did not sin in Adam, why has the condition of all become worse since his fall? Some of the modern commentators reply, that the deterioration was not moral, but physical. To which I answer, that it Milton may perhaps have remembered the following lines of Du Bartas.
Now Adam's fault was not indeed so light
Too-light, too-late belief, were the sweet baits
That made him wander from Heav'n's holy straights.-p. 93.
3 These do also think that the threatening made to Adam, that upon his eating the forbidden fruit he should surely die, is to be taken literally, and is to be carried no further than to a natural death........ All this these divines apprehend is conceivable, and no more; therefore they put original sin in this only, for which they pretend they have all the Fathers with them before St. Austin, and particularly St. Chrysostom_and Theodoret, from whom all the later Greeks have done little more than copied out their words.' Burnet On the Ninth Article. The view taken
was as unjust to deprive the innocent of their physical, as of their moral perfection; especially since the former has so much influence on the latter, that is on the practical conduct of mankind.
It is, however, a principle uniformly acted upon in the divine proceedings, and recognized by all nations and under all religions from the earliest period, that the penalty incurred by the violation of things sacred (and such was the tree of knowledge of good and evil) attaches not only to the criminal himself, but to the whole of his posterity, who thus become accursed and obnoxious to punishment. It was thus in the deluge, and in the destruction of Sodom; in the swallowing up of Korah, Numb. xvi. 27-32. and in the punishment of Achan, Josh. vii. 24, 25. In the burning of Jericho the children suffered for the sins of their fathers, and even the cattle were devoted to the same slaughter with their masters, Josh. vi. 21. A like fate befel the posterity of Eli the priest, 1 Sam. ii. 31, 33, 36. and the house of Saul, 2 Sam. xxi. 1, &c. because their father had slain the Gibeonites.
God declares this to be the method of his justice, Exod. XX. 5. " visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me." Numb. xiv. 33. "your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms;" they themselves, however, not being guiltless. He himself explains the principle by which this justice is regulated, Lev. xxvi. 39."they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity.... and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them." 2 Kings xvii. 14. "they hardened their necks, like to the necks of their fathers." Ezek. xviii. 4. "behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that
of original sin by Jeremy Taylor seems not to have been essentially different from the opinion contained in the preceding quotation. Bp. Heber points out in a masterly and candid manner the inaccuracy of reasoning which led to his partial heterodoxy on this subject. Life prefixed to Taylor's Works, ccxx-ccxxxI.
.. Suffering death,
The penalty to thy transgression due,
And due to theirs which out of thine will grow. Par. Lost, XII. 398.
sinneth it shall die." The difficulty is solved with respect to infants, by the consideration that all souls belong to God; that these, though guiltless of actual sin, were the offspring of sinful parents, and that God foresaw that, if suffered to live, they would grow up similar to their parents. With respect to others, it is obviated by the consideration, that no one perishes, except he himself sin. Thus Agag and his people were smitten for the crime of their fathers, four hundred years after their ancestors had lain wait for Israel in the way, when he came up out of Egypt, 1 Sam. xv. 2, 3. but, at the same time they were themselves justly obnoxious to punishment for sins of their own, v. 33. So too Hoshea king of Israel was better than the kings that were before him, but having fallen into the idolatry of the Gentiles, he was punished at once for his own sins and for those of his fathers, by the loss of his kingdom, 2 Kings xvii. 2-4. Thus too the sins of Manasseh were visited on his children, but they themselves were far from being innocent, xxii. 26. compared with Jer. xxv. 3, 4, "because of all the provocations that Manassch had provoked him withal. From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day.... the word of the Lord hath come unto me; and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened." 2 Kings xxiv. 3. "for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did." On the same principle the good king Josiah, and those who resembled him, were for the most part exempt from punishment; but the case was otherwise with the Pharisees, Matt. xxiii. 34, 35." some of them ye shall kill, &c. that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias."
Hence the penitent are enjoined to confess not only their own sins, but those of their fathers. Lev. xxvi. 40. "if they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers." Nehem. ix. 2. "they confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers." Many similar texts occur.
5 See on the reconciliation of this text with Ex. xx. 5. quoted above, Warburton's Divine Legation, Book V. sect. 5. A more popular mode of reconciliation is proposed by Hey, Lectures, Book IV. Art. 9. Sect. 38. But perhaps the best discussion of the text is to be found in Stillingfleet's admirable Discourse concerning the Sufferings of Christ, Chap. III. Sect. 7. VOL. IV