« PreviousContinue »
with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from hiin by ordinary generation sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression.” The authors of this admirable system pronounce all mankind to have sinned in A dam, because as he was ordained their representative in the covenant of works, his act, in the estimation of law and justice, was their act; his condemnation was their condemnation; his exclusion from the favor and fellowship of his God was their exclusion.
I am fully aware that this doctrine is unpopular ; by those who consider their own reason as a guide more infallible than even divine revelation it is confidently asked, “ where is the benevolence or justice of this dispensation? Where is the propriety of involving the fate of millions in the caprice of an individual, and dooming them to destruction for a single transgression of his ?” Such presumptuous objections and banter might be silenced with the challenge of the great apostle, “0 man, who art thou that repliest against God ? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?” But as we are set for the defence of the gospel, and bound, according to our ability, to aim at justifying the ways of God to men I humbly offer the following considerations as a vindication of Jehovah's conduct in that transaction; and to every impartial enquirer after truth they will represent his procedure as both wise and gracious; as not only consistent with justice on the part of God, but really conducive to the interests of man.
1. Adam, when ordained our federal head, was completely qualified for the important trust; he was fully competent to have executed the condition of the covenant to the glory of his Creator, and the everlasting happiness of himself and his posterity. He was created UPRIGHT, holy as it was possible for a creature to be holy, and thus both able and inclined to obey the will of his Lord. He was formed after the image of God in KNOWLEDGE : he had sufficient light in his understanding to discriminate between moral good and evil; to apprehend his Creator's character and perfections, and thusform a just estimate of the excellence of his love, and the terrors of his wrath ; he did not require, as man does in his depraved state, any outward revelation in order to discover what might be acceptable to God ; this was intuitively obvious to him by that knowledge which he originally possessed. Adam was created after the image of God in RIGHTEOUSNESS; his will perfectly corresponded with the divine will; whatever bis understanding dictated as agreeable to the law of his God, that his upright will cheerfully assented to perform. No reluctance then existed in his pure, uncorrupted soul towards what was spiritually good; while his understanding unerringly pointed to his duty, his will as promptly perforined it.
the character of Adam when the Lord God appointed him our representative in the covenant of works, and as the station was dignified and responsible, he was amply qualified for filling it.* His inclinations were all pure, all spiritual, and a law assigned him which it was equally his delight, and duty, and glory, to obey.
2. The appointment of Adam to be our federal head appears reasonable when we reflect that he was not only qualified for the undertaking, but constrained by every
possible consideration to execute it with fidelity. He was bound by a reverence for Jehovah, who was a Being infinitely glorious; possessing every possible perfection, and entitled to the homage of all
rational creatures. As the majesty of the Eternal might have awed him, his bounty might have constrained him most promptly and cheerfully to obey whatever was commanded. Ten thousand arguments arising from the divine munificence might naturally have presented themselves to the mind of our first Fatber, exciting his gratitude, and perpetuating his obedience. The Lord God had lately called him into existence ; had promoted him to an exalted rank among rational beings : had ordained him Lord of the lower world; had placed him in Paradise, the most delightful part of creation, where all was beauty to the eye, all was music to the ear, all was fragrance to the smell. All these outward enjoyments were inconceivably heightened by the most intimate communion with his God. Add to these considerations that immediate, infinite interest which he had in fulfilling the condition of the covenant. He knew that a single transgression would expose to a forfeiture of all privilege, whether temporal or spiritual : He knew, on the other hand, that by a course of obedience for a limited time, he would secure these and incomparably greater privileges not only to himself, but to an offspring more numerous than the stars of heaven. Is it possible for imagination to conceive a transaction more gracious on the part of heaven? In it Jehovah stoops to be a party-contractor with the creature of his hand, and on the condition of his personal obedience for a time, promises glory and blessedness to innumerable beings through the ceaseless ages of eternity. Is it possible to conceive a situation more dignified or desirable for Adam? Was it not a singular honor conferred on him, that when the whole human kind was embarked on one bottom, even the covenant of works, he should be appointed pilot, and placed at the helm ? Is it possible to conceive a transac
* This sentiment is expressed in language both scriptural and sublime by the prince of poets.
“ So fell “He and his faithless progeny ; Whose fault? “Whose but his own ? Ingrate, he had of me “All he could have ; I made him just and right, “Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall, “ Such I created all th' etherial powers “And spirits, both them who stood and them who fail'd ; Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell."
Mirror's Par. LOST, POOK IJ. LINS 97.
tion more advantageous for mankind, than to have their interests entrusted with their common Father ; especially when we consider that his interests and theirs were inseparably connected. What child could hesitate to confide in a parent thus happily situated to advance its real interests? It is no arrogance to affirm that if the countless millions of the human family had been present in one great congregation, they must have shouted their amen to the justice and condescension of the scheme ? they would have most cordially acquiesced in it as “ordered in all things and sure.”
3. There is another consideration which eminently displays the condescension of God, and may fully reconcile us to this part of his procedure: No sooner was the first covenant broken, than a new, and a more glorious dispensation was introduced. When the first Adam had violated his trust, and involved us in the curse, lo! the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, instantly interposes, and more than repairs the injury sustained; he brings glory in the highest to his Father, peace and good will to our perishing world.
“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; and as sin reigned unto death, grace now reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Our nature, united to the divine in the person of Immanuel, is promoted to a degree of glory beyond the very angels who were confirmed in their primi