Page images


into wickedness more than the nations." viii. 15. shalt see greater abominations than these." John xix. 11. " he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." This inequality arises from the various circumstances of person, place, time, and the like. Isai. xxvi. 10. "in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly."

The distinction between mortal and venial sin3 will come more properly under consideration in another place. In the mean time it is certain, that even the least sin renders the sinner obnoxious to condemnation. Luke xvi. 10. "he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.


[ocr errors]

THUS far of Sin. After sin came death, as the calamity or punishment consequent upon it. Gen. ii. 17. "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.' Rom. v. 12. "death entered by sin." vi. 23. "the wages of sin is death." vii. 5. "the motions of sins did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death."

Under the head of death, in Scripture, all evils whatever," together with every thing which in its consequences tends to death, must be understood as comprehended; for mere bodily death, as it is called, did not follow the sin of Adam on the self-same day, as God had threatened.*

See also Cicero's third paradox, ὅτι ἴσα τά ἁμαρτήματα καὶ τὰ κατορθώ para; and his oration pro L. Murena: omnia peccata esse paria; omne delictum scelus esse nefarium; nec minus delinquere eum, qui gallum gallinaceum, cum opus non fuerit, quam eum qui patrem suffocaverit. * See 1 John iv. 17. ἔστιν ἁμαρτία οὐ πρὸς θάνατον.

[ocr errors]

the fruit

Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe.

Paradise Lost, I. 1.

5 The divine denunciation is interpreted in the same sense in Paradise


my sole command

Transgress'd. inevitably thou shalt die,

From that day mortal; and this happy state
Shalt lose, expell'd from hence into a world
Of woe and sorrow.

VIII. 329.

Hence divines, not inappropriately, reckon up four several degrees of death. The first, as before said, comprehends


FALL OF MAN, the most important of which I proceed to enumerate. In the first place, guiltiness; which though in its primary sense it is an imputation made by God to us, yet is it also, as it were, a commencement or prelude of death dwelling in us, by which we are held as by a bond, and rendered subject to condemnation and punishment. Gen. iii. 7. "the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked." Lev. v. 2, &c. "if it shall be hidden from him, he also shall be unclean and guilty." Rom. iii. 19. "that all the world may become guilty before God." Guiltiness, accordingly, is accompanied or followed by terrors of conscience. Gen. iii. 8. "they heard the voice of God... and Adam and his wife hid themselves.... and he said, I was afraid." Rom. viii. 15. "ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.' Heb. ii. 15. "who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." x. 27. a certain fearful looking for of judgement." It is attended likewise with the sensible forfeiture of the divine protection and favour; whence results a diminution of the majesty of the human countenance, and a conscious degradation of mind. Gen. iii. 7. "they knew that they were naked." Hence the whole man becomes polluted: Tit. i. 15. “ even their mind and conscience is defiled:" whence arises shame:" Gen. iii. 7." they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons." Rom. vi. 21. "what fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The second degree of death is called SPIRITUAL DEATH; by which is meant the loss of divine grace, and that of innate

6 Wollebius, who was one of the theologians from whose works Milton compiled a system of divinity for the use of his pupils, enumerates the same four degrees of death, Book I. Chap. 12.


innocence, that as a veil

Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone,

Just confidence, and native righteousness,

And honour, from about them, naked left

To guilty shame.

Paradise Lost, IX. 154.

righteousness, wherein man in the beginning lived unto God. Eph. ii. 1. "who were dead in trespasses and sins." iv. 18. "alienated from the life of God." Col. ii. 13. "dead in your sins." Rev. iii. 1. "thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." And this death took place not only on the very day, but at the very moment of the fall. They who are delivered from it are said to be regenerated, to be born again, and to be created afresh; which is the work of God alone, as will be shown in the chapter on Regeneration.

2 Cor. iii. 5.

This death consists, first, in the loss, or at least in the obscuration to a great extent of that right reason which enabled man to discern the chief good, and in which consisted as it were the life of the understanding. Eph. iv. 18. “having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them." v. 8. "ye were sometimes darkness." John i. v. "the darkness comprehended it not." Jer. vi. 10. "they cannot hearken." John viii. 43. "ye cannot hear my word.' 1 Cor. ii. 14. "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God." "not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think anything as of ourselves." iv. 4. "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." Col. i. 13. "who hath de livered us from the power of darkness." It consists, secondly, in that deprivation of righteousness and liberty to do good, and in that slavish subjection to sin and the devil, which constitutes, as it were, the death of the will. John viii. 34. "whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin." All have committed sin in Adam; therefore all are born servants of sin. Rom. vii. 14. "sold under sin." viii. 3. "what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh." v. 7. "it is not subject unto the law of God, neither indeed can be." vi. 16, 17. "his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death," &c. Philipp. iii. 19. "whose god is their belly." Acts xxvi. 18. "from the power of Satan.' 2 Tim. ii. 26. "out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." Eph. ii. 2. " the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Lastly, sin is its own

punishment, and produces, in its natural consequences, the death of the spiritual life: more especially gross and habitual sin. Rom. i. 26. "for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections." The reason of this is evident; for in pro

portion to the increasing amount of his sins, the sinner becomes more liable to death, more miserable, more vile, more destitute of the divine assistance and grace, and farther removed from his primitive glory. It ought not to be doubted that sin in itself alone is the heaviest of all evils, as being contrary to the chief good, that is, to God; whereas punishment seems to be at variance only with the good of the creature, and not always with that."


It cannot be denied, however, that some remnants of the divine image still exist in us, not wholly extinguished by this spiritual death. This is evident, not only from the wisdom and holiness of many of the heathen, manifested both in words and deeds, but also from what is said Gen. ix. 2. “ the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth." v. 6. "whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man.” These vestiges of original excellence are visible, first, in the understanding. Psal. xix. 1. "the heavens declare the glory of God;" which could not be if man were incapable of hearing their voice, Rom. i. 19, 20. "that which may be known of God is manifest in them .... for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen." v. 32. "who knowing the judgment of God." ii. 15. "which show the work of the law written in their hearts." vii. 23, 24. "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.... O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Nor, again, is the liberty of the will entirely destroyed. First, with regard to things indifferent, whether natural or civil. 1 Cor. vii. 36, 37, 39. "let him do what he will.... he hath power over his own will.... she is at liberty to be married to whom she will." Secondly, the will is clearly not altogether inefficient in respect of good works, or at any rate of good endeavours; at least after the grace of God has called us but its power is so small and insignificant, as merely to deprive us of all excuse for inaction, without afford

8 Whatever men call punishment or censure, is not properly an evil, so it be not an illegal violence, but a saving medicine, ordained of God both for the public and private good of man.' Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, II. 490.

9 See p. 59, note 5. And again;- For there are left some remains of God's image in man, as he is merely man'-. Tetrachordon. III. 327.

[ocr errors]

ing any subject for boasting. Deut. xxx. 19. "choose life that both thou and thy seed may live." Psal. lxxviii. 8. “a generation that set not their heart aright." Jer. vii. 13-16. "because I spake unto you, rising up early, and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore," &c., which language would not have been applied to mere senseless stocks. xxxi. 18. "turn thou me, and I shall be turned." Zech. i. 3. "turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you." Mark ix. 23, 24. "if thou canst believe.... and straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief." Rom. ii. 14.

"when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law." vi. 16. "know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" vii. 18. "to will is present with me;" and v. 21. "when I would do good:" which words appear to be spoken in the person of one not yet fully renewed, and who, if he had experienced God's grace in vocation, was still destitute of his regenerating influence. See v. 14. "I am carnal, sold under sin." For as to the expression in v. 25. “I thank God through Jesus Christ," this, and similar language and conduct, are not inconsistent with the character of one who is as yet only called. ix. 31. "Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness." x. 2. "they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." 1 Cor. ix. 17. "if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward, but if against my will." Philipp. iii. 6. "concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." 1 Pet. v. 2. "feed the flock of God.... not by constraint, but willingly." Hence almost all mankind profess some desire of virtue, and turn with abhorrence from some of the more atrocious crimes. 1 Cor. v. 1. "such fornication as is not so much as mentioned among the Gentiles."

There can be no doubt that for the purpose of vindicating1

Ad asserendam justitiam Dei. Milton introduces the Latinism in his Paradise Lost;

That to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,

And justify the ways of God to men.

I. 24.

« PreviousContinue »