« PreviousContinue »
treated only as an object of favour-is it not strange, that God should annex to it such affecting appearances of his hatred and anger for sin, more than to other chastisements ? Which yet the scripture teaches us are always for sin. These gloomy and striking manifestations of God's hatred of sin attending death, are equivalent to the awful frowns of God attending the stroke of his hand. If we should see a wise and just father chastising his child, mixing terrible frowns with severe strokes, we should justly argue, that the father considered his child as having in him something displeasing, and that he did not thus treat his child only under a notion of mortifying him, and preventing his being faulty hereafter, and making it up to him afterwards, when he had been perfectly innocent, and without fault, either of action or disposition.
We may well argue from these things, that infants are not sinless, but are by nature children of wrath, seeing this terrible evil comes so heavily on mankind at this early period. But, besides the mortality of infants in general, there are some particular cases of their death attended with circum. stances, which, in a peculiar manner, give evidence of their sinfulness, and of their just exposedness to divine wrath. Particularly,
The destroying of the infants in Sodom and the neighbouring cities, may be pleaded in evidence ;, for these cities, destroyed in so miraculous and awful a manner, are set forth as a signal example of God's dreadful vengeance for sin. (Jude, ver. 7.) God did not reprove, but manifestly countenanced Abraham, when he said with respect to the destruction of Sodom, (Gen. xviii. 23, 25.) Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked ?--That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Abraham's words imply that God would not destroy the innocent with the guilty. We may well understand innocent as included in the word righteous, according to the language usual in scripture, in speaking of such cases of judgment and punishment.* Eliphaz says, Job iv. 7. Who ever perished, being INNOCENT ? or where were the RIGHTEOUS cut off? We see what great care God took that Lot should not be involved in that destruction. He was mira. culously rescued by angels, sent on purpose; who laid hold on him, brought him, set him without the gates of the city, and told him that they could do nothing till he was out of the way. (Gen. xix. 22.) And not only was he thus miraculously delivered, but his two wicked daughters for his sake. The
* Gen. xx. 4. Exod. xxij. 7. Deut. xxv: 1. 2 Sam. iv. 11. 2 Chron. Th 23. and Prov, xviii. 5.
whole affair, both the destruction and the rescue, was miraculous; and God could as easily have delivered the infants which were in those cities. And if they had been without sin, their perfect innocency, one should think, would have pleaded much more strongly for them, than those lewd women's relation to Lot pleaded for them. When in such a case, we must suppose these infants much further from deserving to be involved in that destruction, than even Lot himself. To
Το say, that God could make it up to those infants in another world, must be an insufficient reply. For so he could as easily have made it up to Lot, or to ten or fifty righteous, if they had been destroyed in the same fire. Nevertheless, it is plainly signified, that this would not have been agreeable to the wise and holy proceedings of the Judge of all the earth.
Since God declared, that if there had been found but ten righteous in Sodom, he would have spared the whole city for their sakes, may we not well suppose, if infants are perfectly innocent, that he would have spared the old world, in which there were, without doubt, many hundred thousand infants, and in general, one in every family, whose perfect innocence pleaded for its preservation ? Especially when such vast care was taken to save Noah and his family, (some of whom, one at least, seem to have been none of the best) that they might not be involved in that destruction. If the perfect sinlessness of infants had been a notion entertained among the people of God in the ages next following the flood-handed down from Noah and his children, who well knew that vast multitudes of infants perished in the flood-is it likely that Eliphaz, who lived within a few generations of Shem and Noah, would have said to Job, (Job iv. 7.) Who ever perished, being innocent? and when were the righteous cut off ? Especially, since in the same discourse (chap. v. 1.) he appeals to the tradition of the ancients for a confirmation of this very point. (also in chap. xv. 7-10 and xxii. 15, 16.) and he mentions the destruction of the wicked by the flood, as an instance of that perishing of the wicked which he supposes to be peculiar to them, for Job's conviction; in which the wicked were cut down out of time, their foundation being overflown with a flood. Where it is also observable, that he speaks of such an untimeliness of death as they suffered by the food, as one evidence of guilt ; as he also does, chap. xv. 32, 33. It shall be accomplished before his time; and his branch shall not be green. But those who were destroyed by the flood in infancy, above all the rest, were cut down out of time; when instead of living above nine hundred years, according to the common period of man's life at that time, many were cut down before they were one year old.
When God executed vengeance on the ancient inhabitants
of Canaan, he not only did not spare their cities and families for the sake of their infants, nor took care that they should not be involved in the destruction; but he often repeated his express commands, that their infants should not be spared, but should be utterly destroyed, without any pity; while Rahab the harlot (who had been far from innocence, though she expressed her faith in entertaining, and safely dismissing the spies) was preserved, and all her friends for her sake. And when God executed his wrath on the Egyptians by slaying their first born—though the children of Israel, who were most of them wicked men, as was before shewn, were wonderfully spared by the destroying angel, yet—the Egyptian infants were not spared. They not only were not rescued by the angel, and no miracle wrought to save them (as was observed in the case of the infants of Sodom) but the angel destroyed them by his own immediate hand, and a miracle was wrought to kill them.
Not to be particular concerning the command by Moses, respecting the destruction of the infants of the Midianites; (Numb. xxxi. 17.) And that given to Saul to destroy all the infants of the Amalekites ; (1 Sam. xv. 3.) and what is said concerning Edom, (Psal. cxxxvii. 9.) Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones ; 1 proceed to take notice of something remarkable concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, represented in Ezek. ix. when command was given to destroy the inhabitants, ver. 1-8. And this reason is given for it, that their iniquity required it, and it was a just recompence of their sin, (ver. 9, 10.) God, at the same time was most particular and exact in his care, that such as had proved by their behaviour, that they were not partakers in the abominations of the city, should by no means be involved in the slaughter. Command was given to the angel to go through the city, and set a mark upon their foreheads, and the destroying angel had a strict charge not to come near any man on whom was the mark; yet the infants were not marked, nor a word said of sparing them : On the contrary, infants were expressly mentioned as those that should be utterly destroyed, without pity, (ver. 5, 6.) Go through the city and smite : Let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity. Slay utterly old and young, both maids and LITTLE CHILDREN : But come not near any man upon whom is the mark.
And if any should suspect that such instances as these were peculiar to a more severe dispensation, under the Old Testament, let us consider a remarkable instance in the days of the glorious gospel of the grace of God; even the last destruction of Jerusalem. This was far more terrible, and with greater testimonies of God's wrath and indignation, than the destruction of Sodom, or of Jerusalem in Nebuchadnezzar's time, or any
thing that ever had happened to any city or people from the beginning of the world to that time. (Agreeable to Matt. xxiv. 21, and Luke xxi. 22, 23.) At that time particular care was taken to distinguish and to deliver God's people ; as foretold Dan. xii. 1. And we have in the New Testament a particular account of the care Christ took for the preservation of his followers : He gave them a sign by which they might know when the desolation of the city was nigh, that they who were in Jerusalem might flee to the mountains and escape. And, as history relates, the Christians followed the directions given, and escaped to a place in the mountains called Pella, and were preserved. Yet no care was taken to preserve the infants of the city, in general; but according to the predictions of that event, they were involved with others in that great destruction. So heavily did the calamity fall upon them, that those words were verified, Luke xxiii. 29. Behold the days are coming in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the womb that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck : And that prophecy in Deut. xxxii. 21–25. which has undoubtedly a special respect to this very time, and is so applied by the best commentators ;-I will provoke them to jealousy, with those that are not a people : For a fire is kindled in mine anger,—and it shall burn to the lowest hell. I will heap mischiefs upon them: I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and bitter destruction. The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man, and the virgin, the suckling also, with the man of grey hairs. the history of that destruction it appears, that then was a remarkable fulfilment of Deut. xxviii, 53–57. concerning parents eating their children in the siege,-und the tender and delicate woman eating her new-born child. And here it must be remembered, that these very destructions of that city and land are spoken of as clear evidences of God's wrath, to all nations who shall behold them. And if so, they were evidences of God's wrath towards infants ; who, equally with the rest, were the subject of the destruction. If a particular kind or rank of persons, which made a very considerable part of the inhabitants, were from time to time partakers of the overthrow, without any distinction made in divine Providence, and yet this was no evidence at all of God's displeasure with any of them; then being the subjects of such a calamity could not be an evidence of God's wrath against any of the inhabitants, to the reason of all nations, or any nation, or so much as one person.
And by PART II.
CONTAINING OBSERVATIONS ON PARTICULAR PARTS OF THE
HOLY SCRIPTURE, WHICH PROVE THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
Observations relating to Things contained in the three first
Chapters of Genesis, with Reference to the Doctrine of
Concerning Original Righteousness; and whether our first
Parents were created with Righteousness, or moral Rectitude of heart?
The doctrine of Original Righteousness, or the creation of our first parents with holy principles and dispositions, has a close connection, in several respects, with the doctrine of original sin. Dr. T. was sensible of this; and accordingly he strenuously opposes this doctrine, in his book against original sin. And therefore in handling the subject, I would in the first place, remove this author's main objection against this doctrine, and then shew how it may be inferred from the account which Moses gives us in the three first chapters of Genesis.
Dr. T.'s grand objection against this doctrine, which he abundantly insists on, is this: That it is utterly inconsistent with the nature of virtue, that it should be concreated with any person ; because, if so, it must be by an act of God's absolute power, without our knowledge or concurrence; and that moral virtue, in its very nature, implieth the choice and consent of the moral agent, without which it cannot be virtue and holi