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But here some may say, Though Adam himself could not transfer the guilt of his first offence to his posterity; yet God, who is a Sovereign, might transfer the guilt of that sin to all his descendants. It is true, indeed, that God is a Sovereign, and hath a right to act as a Sovereign, in governing all his creatures and all their actions. But may we suppose, that his sovereignty allows him to do injustice, or treat any moral agents contrary to the eternal rule of right? It was unjust, in the nature of things, that the Supreme Being should transfer the guilt of Adam's sin to his posterity. And no constitution which he could make could render such a mode of conduct consistent with his moral rectitude. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Shall he, therefore, transfer the guilt of the father to the son? or shall he punish the son for the father's sin? No, the soul that sinneth, it shall die for its own iniquity. God has a sovereign right, to transfer a favor from one person to another; but it is beyond the province of his Sovereignty, to transfer the guilt of an action from the proper agent, to an innocent person. His Sovereignty is limited by his Justice, in his treatment of moral and accountable creatures. Hence we may safely conclude, that the guilt of Adam's first sin was never transferred from him to his posterity, by the authority, or appointment of God.
Some, however, may still further ask, Does not the Scripture speak of Imputation? and does not imputation suppose, that God may, and does, transfer both righteousness and unrighteousness, from one person to another?
Though the Scripture speaks of good and bad actions being imputed, yet it never speaks of their being transferred. This will appear, if we consider the Scripture account of impulation. According to Scrip.
ture, a man's own actions are imputed to himself, when he receives the due reward of his deeds. “Abra. ham believed God, and it was counted, or imputed, to him for righteousness.” That is, he was rewarded for his own virtue, or received the benefit of his own goodness. Shimei, who had deserved to die for cursing David, came to him and said, “Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me.” That is, let me not suffer the just consequence of my own personal criminality. Thus men's own actions are imputed to themselves, when they receive the good or evil, which their actions deserve. And according to Scripture, the actions of one man are imputed to another, when one man receives benefit, or suffers evil on account of another's conduct. David imputed the virtue of Jonathan to his son, when he shewed kindness to the son, for the fa. ther's sake. And God imputed the iniquities of the fathers to the children, when he made the children of Korah, Dathan and Abiram suffer, in consequence of their father's rebellion. But it is here to be observed, that in these instances of imputation, there is no transferring of righteousness or unrighteousness, from one person to another. The virtue of Jonathan was not transferred to Mephibosheth; nor the guilt of Korah to his children. But the virtue of Jonathan rendered it proper
for David to shew kindness to Mephibosheth; and the guilt of Korah rendered it proper for God to shew his displeasure at him, by punishing his children according to their own desert. This is the true and proper idea of imputation. And in this Sense of the word, it is granted, that God does impute the first sin of Adam to his posterity. Accordingly we read in the context. “By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” But though both sin and death come upon us in consequence of Adam's first sin; yet that sin is not transferred to us, nor are we punished for it. The doetrine of imputation, therefore, gives us 'no ground to suppose, that all mankind sinned in and fell with Adam, in his first transgression; or that the guilt of his first sin was, either by him, or by the Deity, transferred to his posterity. Nor can we suppose,
3. That Adam made men sinners, by conveying to them a morally corrupt nature. Moral corruption is essentially different from natural corruption. The latter belongs to the body, but the former belongs to the mind. Adam undoubtedly conveyed to his posterity, a corrupt body, or. a body subject to wounds, bruises, and putrifying sores. But such a body could not corrupt the mind, or render it morally depraved. There is no morally corrupt nature, distinct from free, voluntary, sinful exercises. Adam had no such nature, and therefore could convey no such nature to his posterity. But even supposing, that he really had a morally corrupt nature, distinct from his free, voluntary, sinful exercises; it must have belonged to his soul, and not to his body. And if it belonged to his soul, he could not convey it to his posterity, who derive their souls immediately from the fountain of Being. God is the father of our spirits. The soul is not transmitted from father to son, by natural generation. The soul is-spiritual; and what is spiritual is indivisible; and what is indivisible is incapable of propagation. Adam could not convey any part of his soul to his next immediate offspring, without conveying the whole. It is, therefore, as contrary to philosophy as to Scripture, to suppose, that Adam's posterity derive their souls from him. And if they did not derive their souls from him, they could not derive from him a morally corrupt nature, if he really possessed
A such a nature himself.
Besides, the Scripture puts this matter out of doubt. For the Apostle repeatedly observes, it was by one offence of Adam, that his posterity became sinners. He calls it the offence; one man's offence; the offence of one; one man's disobedience. It was Adam's first offence of eating the forbidden fruit, that ruined his posterity. But how could that first offence convey a morally corrupt nature to those who did not exist, when it was actually committed? If Adam's first act of disobedience did not convey a corrupt nature to his posterity, at the very moment when it was committed, it never could convey such a nature to them afterwards. And no one ever supposed, that his first transgression immediately affected and polluted his posterity, who had then no existence. It is utterly inconceiva. ble, therefore, that Adam should transmit a corrupt nature to his future offspring, by his first act of diso. bedience.
But if Adam conveyed neither sin, nor guilt, nor moral depravity to his descendants, by his first trans, gression, how then did that act of disobedience make them sinners?
The only proper and direct answer to this question is, that God placed Adam as the public Head of his posterity, and determined to treat them according to his conduct. If he persevered in holiness and obedience, God determined to bring his posterity into existence holy and upright. But if he sinned and feli, God determined to bring his posterity into existence morally corrupt or depraved. Adam disobeyed the law of his Maker; and according to the constitution under which he was placed, his first and single act of
disobedience made all his posterity sinners; that is, it proved the occasion of their coming into the world unholy and sinful. By constituting Adam the public Head of his posterity, God suspended their holiness and sinfulness upon his conduct. So that his holiness would constitutionally render them holy; and his sinfulaess would constitutionally render them unholy or depraved. And this is the very idea, which our text originally and clearly conveys. “By one man's disobedience many were CONSTITUTED sinners.” The word translated made ought to have been rendered constituied. Adam did not create or make his
posterity sinners, but only constituted them such. His eating of the forbidden fruit violated that constitution, which would otherwise have secured the holiness of all mankind. By his first transgression, therefore, he proved the occasion of God's bringing all hiş poster ity into the world in a state of moral depravity. And in that way, and in that sense only, he made them sinners. It remains to show,
IV. Why God constituted such a connexion be. tween Adam and his posterity. The question is not, why God determined, that Adam and his posterity should eventually become sinners; but why he brought about this event, by placing Adam in a state of probation, and suspending the moral character of his
posterity upon his conduct, in his public capacity. We can easily see, that God might have ordered the matter otherwise. He might have first made Adam sinful, and afterwards made his posterity like him, without forming any connexion between his moral char. acter and theirs. Why then did he not take this short and direct nethod, without first making Adam holy, and then placing him in a situation, in which he