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alty that shall follow or be inflicted for its violation. covenant is a formal agreement between two or more contracting parties. A constitution determines the grand principles vhich shall restrain, direct, and characterize the whole administration of a government. The transaction of God with our first parents has been variously designatedsome accounting it a law, others a covenant, and others ar constitution. When God prohibited our first parents from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, under penalty of death, He would seem to have done no more than to have enacted a law. But as it is obvious it affected the condition of their descendants, and is explained in the sacred scriptures, as a transaction that was to have a bearing on them, it assumes a character somewhat different from that of a simple law. It was a constitution, which God, in His adorable sovereignty, ordained, for the administration of his government over men. This, we presume, will not be denied, even by those who prefer to call it a covenant. Had our first parents stood the test, and obeyed, we have. reason to believe their offspring, after them, would have been confirmed in holiness, and in the enjoyment of evera lasting life. This they did not; and through their failure, death and corruption are the results which follow, in every age and generation, among their descendants.
It is certain that the death of Adam, both spiritually and corporally, was the penalty inflicted on him for his first transgression. Now that which in him was unquestionably the punishment of his sin, does actually eventuate in the history of his offspring. Death and corruption affect them all. No one will pretend to say, that in such cases, God has departed from the original constitution which He ordained, or that He acts in violation of His own Jaw. Most undeniably, it is agreeable to the constitution which He ordained with our first parents, that their act of rebel
lion against Ilimself, should be followed with the death of all their progeny. A parent is punished most severely in the snfferings of his children, especially where he sees that suffering will be secured by his own improper conduct. And this tremendous result, which it will not be said was incompatible with the rectitude of the great moral governor, was held forth to Adam as that state of things which would be induced by his sin. The death and depravity of his offspring therefore may be very appropriately called the suffering of his sin, or the penalty annexed to that great moral constitution, which God had ordained with him as the head and parent of the human family. It is not necessary to transfer the act of Adam to his offspring, and account them personally criminal for it, in order to account for their suffering: nor is it necessary to attribute to their createil nature, anterior to, and irrespective of all moral exercises, some physical depravity, or inherited LUES, which is offensive to God, and provokes His wrath personally against the babe unborn. All that we think it of importance to know, or inquire after here, is, that by virtue of the relation which God constituted between Adam and his offspring as their head and parent, as well as the great principle which He ordained should mark the administration of his government over them, the sin of Adam, rendered the death and depravity of his descendants not physically necessary, but morally certain. Those principles we descry in the great laws of reproduction and assimilating development, which characterize his universal providential agency in this world.
We desire not to perplex our readers by introducing terms, which have been the occasion of doubt and altercation, and would perhaps, through their varied signification, be misunderstood.' We aim, in our investigation
1. We trust the canelid christian reader, will give us credit for sincerity,
simply at the knowledge of facts; and however intricate and involved this subject may be accounted by many, yet some things are sufficiently plain.
That we inherit from Adam an animal frame, which is subject to disease and liable to dissolution, from the very first moment of its existence, cannot be denied. His body was the root from which according to the law of reproduction, established by God, have sprung the bodies of all his offspring. The mortality of those propagated from him, is the result of his sinning against God. Had he obeyed the command of the Most High, he would not only have lived himself, but all his descendants would have inherited from him an animal frame adapted to immortality. As it is, disease and death are our inheritance. Here it is manifest, that the act of one man has been followed by its legitimate or ordained results on others. Evidently therefore, his conduct has served, at least in respect of our material being, to shape our character and condition. The thing is not put to our choice, nor made dependent on our actions. We are born into this world a dying race. “Death reigned over them that has not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression.”ı
Does any one object to this sovereign constitution? Objection would be vain and foolish, for we are under it, and die we must. The sentence has gone forth, and we may even feel the ministers of death already creeping in our veins, and giving tokens that they are prepared, at any moment to execute it, and turn us to the dust. It would be miserable consolation for vain man to persuade himself,
in this declaration. It is greatly to be lamented, that a refusal to employ technicalities, should be denounced as Jesuitism, and a studied effort to conceal heresy. What can be expected from the exercise of ecclesiastical authority, by those who are ready to denounce an honest desire, and endeavour to unfold the truth, by such epithets!
1. Rom. y. 14,
that God has acted unjustly in establishing such a constitution.
But few, if any, have the hardihood even to venture the thought, that the divine Being is blameworthy, for having created man mortal-nor for having made that mortality to depend on the conduct ofthe parent of all our race. They see, in some measure, a reason for the thing, in this universal law of God's providence, that the developments of the first man; i. e. those that emanate from him, must bear an essential resemblance to himself. It is the universal law which regulates the developments of life in this world.
Throughout the interminable ranges of vegetable and annimal life, the seed and ovom developed in a new and individuated being, has first been a part of the body of its parent, and the offspring, in due season, exhibits the image of the parent. Shall we object to this constitution of God, and say,
that when He creates, he ought not to make one being dependent on another, but give to each one an origa inal, separate, independent existence. “Vain man would be wise, though man be born like the wild ass's colt.”ı Such is the sovereign constitution of God, and to it we must bow.
The derivation of our mortal bodies from Adam, constituting the whole human race but one vast series of being, individuated by regular process, and developing the first pair of our progenitors, is so unquestionably matter of fact, that there can be no denial, that in so far, at least, as our bodies are concerned, we have not only been begotten ia the likeness of Adam, but also, that as their condition, and the circumstances of their origination, depended on his own character and acts, so he has transmitted to us an animal nature, that is liable to disease and death.
1. Job xi, 12.
We can trace this law, or process of reproduction, almost in every thing. So obvious is it, that persons, entirely unacquainted with medicine, will talk about diseases, inherited from generation to generation. The physician unhesitatingly affirms, that the state of animal health in the parents, affects the condition of the child, descending from them. The same diseases are developed in parents and children, and when they disappear in one generation, re-appear in the next.
Our Saviour has noticed the principle in the vegetable world. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit." "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and the fruit corrupt : for the tree is known by his fruit." But all this is met, most unphilosophically, by saying, that the principle applies only to our material nature. This, however, cannot be proved. The whole force of analogy is against it.
Will it avail any one to allege, that as the human soul is immaterial, and as moral corruption is properly and only predicable of our rational and moral nature, we are not to imagine, that the same principle will apply to it? And why not?
If we discover any grand principle, pervading all the other parts of the divine government in this world, running alike through the animal and vegetable creation, is it not presumable to suppose, that it extends to and embraces the other parts? Is it not the business of philosophy to generalize? To trace the operation of general laws and principles, in their various applications? Is it not the boast and glory of the Newtonian philosophy, that, by means of a few acknowledged principles, a thousand varied phenomena can be explained? How does it illustrate and elevate the wisdom of that philosophy, which, having determined the
1. Mat. vii, 18.
2. Mat. xii, 33.