« PreviousContinue »
Thirdly, It may be asked, What did they fall from? The state wherein they were created. Now, this was a state of the greatest holiness and felicity. When they sinned,
1. They fell from a holy into a sinful state. They lost the image of God. Observe the opposition betwixt the image of God and that of Adam, Gen v. 1, 3. There we are told, 6 that God made man in his own likeness,' or image ; and that Adam beyet a son in his own likeness,' even Seth, from whom the whole human race is sprung. Sin was a turning from God as their chief end, and making themselves their chief end; whereby all their uprightness behoved to be lost. It broke the whole law of God at one touch, and violently struck against God and man's neighbour, that is, his posterity; and so could not but waste and defile the conscience. This was the sense of the threatening, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.' And in this unholy state are all born of the first man.
(1.) They lost their knowledge, and fell under horrible blindness. Witness their fig-leaf cover for shrouding their nakedness, and their hiding themselves from the presence of the Lord, Gen. iii. 7. 8. A plain indication of their falling into dreaful ignorance of the Divine Being, the opposite of that great knowledge they had of him in their primitive state of integrity.
(2.) They lost the righteousness of their will, Eccl. vii. 29. And they fell under an aversion to God. Witness their running away from him, ver. 8. their excusing their sin, transferring the guilt every one off themselves, till it landed at length on God himself, ver. 12.
(3.) They lost the holiness of their affections, which immediately fell into confusion and disorder. Witness their covering their nakedness. While they were innocent, though naked, they were not ashamed; but that jewel being gone, the irregularity of their affections began to appear in discovering themselves to be naked, by the evil operation of concupiscence in their minds.
2. They fell from their happy state into a miserable one. O what a fearful overturn was made by their sin.
a (1.) Horror of conscience seizes them, ver. 8. appearing in flying from the divine presence; which nothing but guilt, clasping as a serpent about them, could have induced them to do. Death was threatened incase of transgression, Gen.
ii. 17. They both die spiritually, and are bound with the cords of temporal and eternal death.
(2.) They are driven out of paradise, excommunicated and declared incapable of communion with God in the tree of life in the garden, Gen. iii. 23. “The Lord God sent him fortli from the garden of Eden,' as a divorced woman out of the house of her husband, as the word signifies. Nay, God drove out the man, expelling him from that pleasant and delightful place, which he had forfeited by his trans. gression, ver. 24.
(3.) The woman, the first transgressor, is condemned to sorrow and pain in breeding, bearing, and bringing forth children, ver. 16. which, as some observe, is greater in women than other creatures. And frequently women lose their lives in the case.
(4.) She is put under a yoke of subjection to het husband, ver. 16. Not but that the woman was subject to him be fore, but it was to a gentle and loving guide : but now all her desires are subjected to her husband, to grant them or deny them as he sees fit, because she eat of the forbidden fruit without asking his advice; which now, because of his and her corruption, becomes a heavy yoke.
(5.) The ground is cursed for man's sake; under the in. fluence of which curse it is barren of wholesome fruits, which it does not yield without heavy labour and diligent cultivation, but fruitful in noxious plants, as thorns and thistles, ver. 17.
(6.) Man is condemned to singular anxiety, to weary, toilsome, and oftimes fruitless labour, whether it be the labour of the hands or of the mind, ver. 17, 19.; for this last is to be taken into the account too, as appears froin Eccl. i. 13, 18. “I gave my heart (says the preacher), to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heavep : this sore travel hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. For in much wisdom is inuch grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow,'
11. Let us next consider, how or what way upright man fell
. It was so that our first parents sinned, being left to the freedom of their own will. For understanding of this let us consider the following things:
1. That our first parents had a freedom of will. Freedom
of will is a liberty in the will, whereby of its own accord, freely and spontaneously, without any force upon it, it chuses or refuses what is proposed to it by the understanding. And this freedom of will man hath in whatever state he be, But there is a great difference of the freedom of will in the different states of man. In the natural corrupt state, man has a free will only to evil, Gen. vi. 5. •Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually. Eph. iii 1. “He is dead in trespasses and sins.' He freely chuseth evil without any force on his will į and he canot do other. wise, being under the bondage of sin. In the state of grace, man has a free-will, partly to good and partly to evil. Hence the apostle says, Rom. vii. 22. 24. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. In this state the will sometimes chiuses that
' which is good, and sometimes that which is evil. This freedom of will is in all regenerate persons who have in some measure recovered the image of God: They chuse good freely by virtue of a principle of grace wrought in them by
a the sanctifying operations of the Divine Spirit ; yet through the remainders of corruption that abides in them, their wills are sometimes inclined to that which is evil. In the state of glory, man has a free will to good only. In this state the blessed chuse good freely; and being confirmed in a holy state, they cannot sin.
The freedom of will that man had in the state of innocence was different from all these. In that state he had a freedom of will both to good and evil; and so had a power wholly to chuse good, or wholly to chuse evil; which differences it from the freedom of will in the state of grace. He had a free will to good, yea, the natural set of his will was to good only, Eccl vii
. 29. being made upright;' but it was liable to change through the power of temptation, and so free to evil also, as mournful experience has evidenced. Man was created holy and righteous, and received a power from God constantly to persevere in goodness, if he would ? yet the act of perseverance was left to the choice and liberty of his own will. To illustrate this a little, we may observe some resemblance of it in nature. God creates the eye, says one, and puts into it the faculty of seeing, and withal he adds to the
eye necessary helps by the light of the sun. As for the act of seeing, it is left to man's liberty; for he may see if he will
, and if he will he may shut his eyes. The physician, again, by his art procures an appetite, and provides convenient food for the patient: but the act of eating is in the pleasure of the patient ; for he may eat, or abstain from it if he will. Thus God gave Adam strength and power to persevere in righteousness, but the will he left to himself.
Let no inan quarrel, that God made Adam liable to change in his goodness; for if he had been unchangeably holy, he behoved to be so either by nature or by free grace; if by na
I ture, that were to make him God; if of free grace, then there was no wrong done him in with-holding what was not due. And he would have got the grace of confirmation, if he had stood the time of his trial.
Secondly, God left our first parents to the freedom of their own will; and was in no respect the cause of their falling.
1. The Lord did not withdraw any of that strength and ability which he had bestowed upon them in their creation. There was no subtraction of any grace that was requisite for their standing. God is not like man to give and recal again; for his gifts are without repentance. Adam left God before he was forsaken by him. 2. The Lord did not infuse any vicious inclinations into
There was no internal impulsion from God, exciting him to eat the forbidden fruit. He neither moved him to sin, nor approved of it, but forbade it under the severest penalty. It is altogether inconsistent with the divine purity to incline the creature to sin. As God cannot be tempted to evil, neither tempteth he any man. It is extremely injurious to his infinite wisdom to think, that he would deface and spoil that admirable work which he had composed with so much design and counsel. And it is highly dishonourable to his immense goodness. He loved his creature, the master piece of his works; and love is an inclination to do good, It was impossible, therefore, that God should induce man to sin, or withdraw that power from him which was necessary to resist the temptation, when the consequence must be his inevitable ruin.
But by their being left to the freedom of their own will, we are to understand God's with-holding of that further
grace (which he was nowise bound to give them) that would have infallibly prevented their falling into sin. God only permitted this fall. No doubt he could have hindered either Satan to tempt, or man to have yielded; but in his holy wise providence, without which a sparrow cannot fall, far less all mankind, he permitted Satan to tempt, that is, he did not hinder him, which he was not obliged to do. It was in man's power to continue in his obedience or not. God was pot obliged to hinder his fall. As he brings light out of darkness, order out of confusion and life out of death, so he knew how to bring good out of evil, and glory to himself out of man's fall. Adam's fall was perfectly voluntary ; his own will was the sole cause of it, as will plainly appear, if you consider.
(1.) That while he continued innocent, he had a sufficient power to persevere in his holy state. God created him with a perfection of grace. If he had pleased, he might have effectually resisted the temptation and continued stedfast in his duty to God; and God was under no obligation to give him that further actual grace which would have effectually kept him up. And this grace he was bound neither to give nor continue with him.
(2.) That the devil did only allure, he could not ravish his consent. Though his malice be infinite, yet his power is restrained and limited by the omnipotent hand of Jehovah, that he cannot fasten an immediate, much less an irresistible, impression on the will. He therefore made use of an external object to invite man'to sin. Now, objects have no constraining force : they are but partial agents, and derive all their efficacy from the faculty into which they are agreeable. And although now, in our fallen state, sin hath so disordered the flesh, that there is great difficulty in resisting those objects that pleasantly insinuate themselves; yet, in the state of innocence, there was such an universal rectitude in Adam, and so entire a subjection of the sensual appetite to the superior power of reason, that he might have obtained an easy conquest. A resolute negative had made him victorious; by a strong denial, he had baffled that proud spirit.
(3.) That Adam's disobedience was the effect of his own choicé. For a specious object was conveyed through the un. guarded sense to his fancy, and from that to his understanding, which, by a vicious careless neglecting to consider the