Page images

What virtue without the encounter of such enemies, such temptations as arise both from within and from abroad? To be virtuous, is to prefer the pleasures of virtue to those which come into competition with it, and vice holds forth to tempt us; and to dare to adhere to truth and goodness, whatever pains and hardships it may cost. There must therefore, in order to the formation and trial, in order to the very being of virtue, be pleasures of a certain kind to make temptations to vice.”

In reply to these things I would say, either the state of temptation, which is supposed to be ordered for men's trial, amounts on the whole to a prevailing tendency to that state of general wickedness and ruin which has been proved to take place, or it does not. If it does not amount to a tendency to such an effect, then how does it account for it? When it is inquired by what cause such an effect should come to pass, is it not absurd to allege a cause which is owned at the same time to have no tendency to such an effect? Which is as much as to confess, that it will not account for it. I think it has been demonstrated, that this effect must be owing to some prevailing tendency.-But if the other part of the dilemma be taken, and it be said, that this state of things does imply a prevailing tendency to that effect which has been proved, viz. that all mankind, without one exception, sin against God, to their own deserved eternal ruin—and not only so, but sin thus immediately, as soon as capable of it, and continually, have more sin than virtue, and have guilt that infinitely outweighs the value of all the goodness any ever have, and that the generality of the world in all ages are extremely stupid and foolish, of a wicked character, and actually perish for ever—then I say, if the state of temptation implies a natural tendency to such an effect as this, it is a very evil, corrupt, and dreadful state of things, as has been already largely shewn.

Besides, such a state has a tendency to defeat its own supposed end, which is to refine, ripen, and perfect virtue, and so to fit men for the greater eternal happiness and glory : Whereas, the effect it tends to is the reverse of this, viz. general, eternal infamy and ruin, in all generations. It is supposed, that men's virtue must have passions and appetites to struggle with, in order to have the glory and reward of victory : but the consequence is, a prevailing, continual, and generally effectual tendency-not to men's victory over evil appetites and passions, and the glorious reward of that victory, but-to the victory of evil appetites and lusts over men, utterly and eternally destroying them. If a trial of virtue be requisite, yet the question is, Whence comes so general a failing in the trial, if there be no depravity of nature? If conflict and war be necessary, whence the necessity that there should be more

cowards than good soldiers ? and whence is it necessary that the whole world as it were should lie in wickedness, and die in cowardice?

1 might also here observe, that Dr. TURNBULL is not very consistent in supposing that combat with temptation is requisite to the very being of virtue. For I think it clearly follows from his own notion of virtue, that it must have a being prior to any virtuous or praiseworthy combat with temptation. For by his principles, all virtue lies in good affection, and no actions can be virtuous but what proceed from good affection.* Therefore, surely the combat itself can have no virtue in it, unless it proceeds from virtuous affection: And therefore virtue must have an existence before the combat, and be the cause of it.


Universal Mortality proves Original Sin; particularly the Death

of Infants, with its various Circumstances The universal reign of death over persons of all ages indiscriminately, with the awful circumstances and attendants of death, prove that men come sinful into the world. It is needless here particularly to inquire, Whether God has not a sovereign right to set bounds to the lives of his own creatures, be they sinful or not; and as he gives life, so to take it away when he pleases? Or how far God has a right to bring extreme suffering and calamity on any innocent moral agent ? For death, with the pains and agonies with which it is usually brought on, is not merely a limiting of existence, but is a most terrible calamity: and to such a creature as man-capable of conceiving of immortality, made with an earnest desire after it, capable of foresight and reflection on approaching death, and having an extreme dread of it—is a calamity above all others terrible. I say, it is needless elaborately to consider, whether God may not, consistent with his perfections by absolute sovereignty, bring so great a calamity on mankind when perfectly innocent. It is sufficient, if we have good evidence from scripture, that it is not agreeable to God's manner of dealing with mankind so to do.

It is manifest, that mankind were not originally subjected to this calamity: God brought it on them afterwards, on occasion of man's sin, when manifesting his great displeasure, and by a sentence pronounced by him as a judge ; which Dr. T. often confesses. Sin entered into the world, as the apostle

[blocks in formation]

says, and death by sin. Which certainly leads us to suppose, that this affair was ordered, not merely by the sovereignty of a creator, but by the righteousness of a judge. And the scripture every where speaks of all great afflictions and calamities which God in his providence brings on mankind, as testimonies of his displeasure for sin, in the subjects of those calamities ; excepting those sufferings which are to atone for the sins of others. He ever taught his people to look on such calamities as his rod, the rod of his anger, his frowns, the hidings of his face in displeasure. Hence such calamities are in scripture so often called by the name of judgments, being what God brings op men as a judge, executing a righteous sentence for transgression. Yea, they are often called by the name of wrath, especially calamities consisting or issuing in death.* And hence also is that which Dr. T. would have us take so much notice of, that sometimes, in the scripture, calamity and suffering is called by such names as sin, iniquity, being guilty, &c. which is evidently by a metonymy of the cause for the effect. It is not likely that, in the language used of old among God's people, calamity or suffering would have been called by the names of sin and guilt, if it had been so far from having any connection with sin, that even death itself, which is always spoken of as the most terrible of calamities, is not so much as any sign of the sinfulness of the subject, or any testimony of God's displeasure for his guilt, as Dr. T. supposes.

Death is spoken of in scripture as the chief of calamities, the most extreme and terrible of all natural evils in this world. Deadly destruction is spoken of as the most terrible destruction. (1 Sam. v. 11.) Deadly sorrow, as the most extreme sorrow. (Isai. xvii. 11. Matt. xxvi. 38.) And deadly enemies, as the most bitter and terrible enemies. (Psal. xvii. 9.) The extremity of Christ's sufferings is represented by his suffering unto death. (Phil. i. 8. and other places.) Hence the greatest testimonies of God's anger for the sins of men in this world, have been by inflicting death; as on the sinners of the old world; on the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah ; on Onan, Pharaoh, and the Egyptians ; on Nadab and Abihu, Corah and his company, and the rest of the rebels in the wilderness; on the wicked inhabitants of Canaan ; on Hophni and Phinehas, Ananias and Sapphira, and the unbelieving Jews, upon whom wrath came to the uttermost, in the time of the last destruction of Jerusalem. This calamity is often spoken of as in a peculiar manner the fruit of guilt. Exod. xxvii. 43. That they bear not iniquity and die. Levit. xxii. 9. Lest they bear


* See Levit. x. 6. Numb. i. 53. and xvii. 6. Josh. ix. 20. 2 Chron. xxiv. 18. and xix. 2, 10. and xxvüi. 13. and sxxii. 25. Ezra vii, 23. Neh. xii. 18: Zech. vj. 12. and many other places.




sin for it and die. (So Num. xviii. 22. compared with Levit. x. 1, 2.) The very light of nature, or tradition from ancient revelation, led the heathen to conceive of death as in a peculiar manner an evidence of divine vengeance. Thus we have an account, (Acts xxviii. 4.) That when the barbarians saw the venemous beast hang on Paul's hand, they said among themselves, no doubt this man is a murderer, whom though he hath escaped the seas, yet VENGEANCE LIVE.

Calamities very small in comparison of the universal temporal destruction of mankind by death, are spoken of as manifest indications of God's great displeasure for the sinfulness of the subject; such as the destruction of particular cities, countries, or numbers of men, by war or pestilence. Deut. xxix. 21. All nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? (Compare Deut. xxxii. 30. 1 Kings ix. 8. and Jer. xxii. 8, 9.) These calamities, thus spoken of as plain testimonies of God's great anger, consisted only in hastening on that death, which otherwise, by God's disposal, would most certainly have come in a short time. Now to take off thirty or forty years from seventy or eighty, (supposing it to be so much, one with another, in the time of these extraordinary judgments) is but a small matter, in comparison of God first making man mortal, cutting off his hope of immortality, subjecting him to inevita ble death, which his nature so exceedingly dreads; and afterwards shortening his life further, by cutting off more than eight hundred years of it: so bringing it to be less than a twelfth part of what it was in the first ages of the world. Besides that innumerable multitudes in the common course of things, without any extraordinary judgment, die in youth, in childhood, and infancy. Therefore how inconsiderable a thing is the additional or hastened destruction, that is sometimes brought on a particular city or country by war, compared with that universal havock which death makes of the whole human race, from generation to generation, without distinction of sex, age, quality, or condition; with all the infinitely various dismal circumstances, torments, and agonies, which attend the death of old and young, adult persons and little infants? If those particular and comparatively trivial calamities, extending perhaps not to more than the thousandth part of one generation, are clear evidences of God's great anger; certainly this universal destruction by which the whole world, in all generations, is swallowed up as by a flood that nothing can resist-must be a most glaring manifestation of God's anger for the sinfulness of mankind. Yea, the scripture is express, that it is so: (Psal. xc. 3, &c.) • Thou turnest man to destruction, and sayest, return, ye children of men.-Thou carriest them away as with a flood : They are as a sleep: In the morning they are like grass, which groweth up: in the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: We spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten: And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger ? According to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” How plain and full is this testimony, that the general mortality of mankind is an evidence of God's anger for the sin of those who are the subjects of such a dispensation?

Abimelech speaks of it as what he had reason to conclude from God's nature and perfection, that he would not slay a righteous nation. Gen. xx. 4. By righteous evidently meaning innocent. And if so, much less will God slay a righteous world -consisting of so many nations, repeating the great slaughter in every generation---or subject the whole world of mankind to death, when they are considered as innocent, as Dr. T. supposes.

We have from time to time in scripture such phrases as--worthy of death, and guilty of death : But certainly the righteous Judge of all the earth will not bring death on thousands of millions, not only that are not worthy of death, but are worthy of no punishment at all.

Dr. T. from time to time speaks of affliction and death as a great benefit, as they increase the vanity of all earthly things, and tend to excite sober reflections, and to induce us to be moderate in gratifying the appetites of the body, and to mortify pride and ambition, &c.* To this I would say,

I. It is not denied but God may see it needful for mankind in their present state, that they should be mortal, and subject to outward afflictions, to restrain their lusts, mortify their pride, &c. But then is it not an evidence of man's depravity, that it is so? Is it not an evidence of distemper of mind, yea, strong disease, when man stands in need of such sharp medicines, such severe and terrible means to restrain his lusts, keep down his pride, and to make him willing and obedient to God ? It must be owing to a corrupt and ungrateful heart, if the riches of divine bounty in bestowing life and prosperity, things comfortable and pleasant, will not engage the heart to God and virtue, love and obedience. Whereas

* P. 21, 67, and other places,

« PreviousContinue »