Billeder på siden

ed for the fruits of Paradise ; and by which, ease, happiness, and immortality, were exchanged for labour, suffering, and death, inwrought into the very constitution, now given to the Earth ; was a fact, which involved, of course, the punishment of all men; because all men suffer distress by means of this fact; and because no rational beings, beside sinners, are in the Providence of God subjected to any suffering. Every descendant of Adam must, of course, be an inhabitant of the world, which was thus cursed; and must of necessity be a partaker of the very evils, denounced in this curse. When the sentence was declared, therefore, it was certainly foreseen, that all those, who would afterwards share in the sufferings, which it disclosed; that is, all the children of Adam ; would be sinners. As all the progeny of

n; Adam must inhabit the world thus cursed; all must necessarily partake of these evils; because they were inseparably united to the world, in which they dwelt. If, then, it was not foreseen, that they would be sinners; the curse must have been denounced against them, either when obedient and virtuous; or while their future moral character was uncertain. The former will not be admitted by any man: the latter will no more be admitted by any man, if he reflect at all on the subject : for God can no more be supposed to condemn, and punish, those, who are not known by him to be sinful, than those, who are known to be virtuous. It follows therefore, that, as the world was thus changed in consequence of the transgression of Adam; and of a paradise became a wilderness of thorns and briars : so, in consequence of the same transgression, the character of Man was also changed; and instead of being immortal, virtuous, and happy, he became the subject of sin, suffering, and death. With respect to one of these considerations, viz. the mortality of mankind, the Apostle Paul expressly asserts the doctrine in a passage, already quoted for another purpose. In, or by means of, Adam, all die. As neither death, nor any other suffering, befals virtuous beings; this passage may be fairly considered as a full confirmation of the doctrine at large.

III. The Doctrine is directly declared by Moses, when he informs us, that Adam begut a son in his own likeness.

The meaning of the word likeness, that is, the meaning, inten

[ocr errors]

tionally attached to it by Moses, cannot, I think, be mistaken. In the first chapter of the same history he introduces God as say. ing, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness; and subjoins, so God created Mun in his own image ; in the image of God created he him. In a former discourse I have shown, that

, the likeness, or image, here mentioned, is the Moral image of God; consisting, especially, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; as we are informed by St. Paul. After dwelling so

. particularly on the iinage of God, in which Man was created, and on the fact, that Man was created in this image; it cannot, I think, be questioned, that Moses intended to inform us, that Seth was begotten in the moral likeness of Adam after his apostasy; and sustained, from his birth, a moral character, similar to that, which his two brothers, Cain and Abel, also sustained. This view of the subject appears plainly to have been adopted by Job, when he asks, Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean! Not one : (Job xiv. 4.) by Bildad, when he asks, How then can Man be justified with God; or how can he be clean, that is born of a woman : (xxv. 4.) by David, when he says, (Psalm li. 5.) Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me: and by St. Paul when he says, As we have borne the image of the earthly, (Adam,) so we shall bear the image of the heavenly, (Adam,) (1 Cor. xv. 49.) But if Seth, Cain, and Abel, derived their corruption from the Apostasy of their parents; then it is true, not only that their corruption, but that of all mankind, exists in consequence of that Apostasy.

Accordingly, our Saviour declares universally, that, that which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that, that only, which is born of the Spirit, or born again, is spirit. In this declaration he certainly teaches us, that the fleshly character is inseparably connected with the birth of man : it being an invariable attendant of that birth. In other words, every parent, as truly as Adam, begets children in his own moral likeness. It hardly needs to be observed, that the moral character, denoted, in this observation of our Saviour, by the term flesh, is a corrupt character. The carnal, or fleshly, mind, says St. Paul, is enmity against God; not subject to his Law, neither indeed can be : and again, To be carnally, or fleshly, minded is Death. In the Original, the words in both passages are opporque sons gagxos; the minding of the flesh: the exercise of our thoughts and affections in that manner, which accords with the fleshly, or native, character.

IV. In exact accordance with this scriptural representation, the Doctrine is strongly evinced by the conduct of Children, as soon as they become capable of moral action.

Children in the morning of life are, as was remarked in the preceding discourse, unquestionably amiable ; more so in many respects than at any future period ; that is, whenever they do not at some future period become the subjects of sanctification. Some children also, as we are taught in the Scriptures, are sanctified from the womb. Still even these in some degree, and all others in a greater degree, exhibit, from the dawn of moral action, evil affections, and evil conduct. They are rebellious, disobedient, unkind, wrathful, and revengeful. All of them are proud, ambitious, vain, and universally selfish. All of them, particularly, are destitute of piety to God; the first, and far the most important exercise of virtue. They neither love, fear, nor obey him ; neither admire his divine excellence, nor are thank

h ful for his unceasing loving kindness. Immense multitudes of them are taught these duties from the commencement of their childhood; yet they can be persuaded to perform them by no species of instruction, hitherto devised. A virtuous mind would, of course, from the mere knowledge of God; without any known without

any other motive except what is found in his greatness, excellency, and goodness to us; admire and love, reverence and glorify, Him with all the heart. But no instance of this nature can be produced. I have been employed in the education of children and youth more than thirty years, and have watched their conduct with no small attention and anxiety. Yet among the thousands of children, committed to my care, I cannot say with truth, that I have seen one, whose native character I had any reason to believe to be virtuous; or whom I could conscientiously pronounce to be free from the evil attributes, mentioned above. In addition to this, it ought to be observed, that no child, unspotted with sin, is mentioned in the records of History. This, I think, could not be, had the fact ever existed.

Mankind therefore, according to the language of the Psalmist.


are estranged from the womb, and go astray as soon as they be born.

The opposers of the doctrine undertake to avoid the force of this argument by attributing the corruption of children to Example, and the propensity of human nature to Imitation.

The power of Example I readily acknowledge to be great, and the propensity to Imitation, strong. I acknowledge, also, that from these sources we may derive a satisfactory explanation of many things, both good and evil, which are done in the world. Still, I apprehend, the objection is a very insufficient answer to the argument in question. For,

1st. On beings, who were virtuously inclined, a good example ought certainly to have more power than an evil one.

On beings, neither virtuously nor viciously inclined, virtuous and vicious examples must, of course, be equally influential; as on beings, sinfully inclined, it is acknowledged, sinful examples have an influence entirely preponderating. All this is evident, because virtuous beings must love virtuous conduct, and follow it; as much as vicious beings love, and follow, vicious conduct; and because neutral beings, if such are supposed to exist, can have no bias to either. If, then, mankind were virtuously inclined; they would follow with a clear and universal preponderation virtuous examples. If neither virtuously nor sinfully inclined; they would follow virtuous and sinful examples alike, and with an equal propensity to imitation. But neither of these facts is found in human experience. Virtuous examples, it is acknowledged, have some degree of influence; but all men know this influence to be exceedingly, and distressingly, small. This truth is seen every day, in every place, and in every person. Whence arises the superior influence of vicious example, but from the fact, that it is more pleasing to the human heart? In Heaven such example could have no influence.

2dly. If the first men were virtuous ; as the objection supposes all men to be by nature, and as according to the objection these must have been; there could have been no evil examples, and

upon this plan no sin, in the world.

Virtuous men, that is, men wholly virtuous, can not exhibit an evil example. If, then, the first men were virtuous, their imVol. II.


mediate successors had no vicious example to follow; and must,

' therefore, have been themselves virtuous. Of course, the example, which they set also, was only virtuous. Hence those, who followed them, must have been virtuous; and in like manner all their successors. Upon this plan, Sin could never have entered the world. But Sin is in the world ; and is, and ever has been, the universally prevailing character of the human race. The objectors, therefore, are reduced by their scheme to this dilemma: Either virtuous men set sinful examples ; which is a plain contradiction; or men became sinful without sinful examples.

Should it be said, that, after Adam and Eve apostatized, they corrupted their children by their own sinful example; who again corrupted theirs; and thus every generation became the means of corrupting those who followed them; and that in this manner the existence of a sinful character in mankind may be explained : I answer, that I readily admit the premises, to a certain extent ; but wholly deny the conclusion. Adam and Eve, speedily after their apostasy, that is, before they had children, became penitents. The example, therefore, which they exhibited to their children, was such, as penitents exhibit; expressive of their abhorrence of sin, and of their humble obedience to God. Such an example penitents now exhibit; and such a one, without a question, they have always exhibited. But this example, preponderating greatly in favour of virtue, must have had substantially the same influence with one perfectly virtuous. Of course, the perfectly virtuous minds of Adam's children must by this example have been strongly biassed to virtue; and according to this scheme could not have failed of retaining their virtuous character. But this is plainly contrary to the fact. The descendants of Adam, of the first, and of every succeeding, generation, were evidently sinful beings; and in the course of ten generations became so universally and absolutely sinful, that, except Noah and his family, God destroyed them all by the Deluge. God himself declares concerning them, that every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually; that it repented the LORD, that he had made Man upon the earth, and grieved him at his heart. In vain, therefore, do we look for the pro

« ForrigeFortsæt »