« PreviousContinue »
which he speaks, particularly in the time of the deluge. And it would be strange, that the apostle should not have the case of such infants in his mind; even supposing his scope were what our author supposes, and he had only intended to prove that death did not come on mankind for their personal sin. How directly would it have served the purpose of proving this, to have mentioned so great a part of mankind who are subject to death, and who, all know, never committed any sin in their own persons ? How much more plain and easy the proof of the point by that, than to go round about, as Dr. T. supposes, and bring in a thing so dark and uncertain as this, that God never would bring death on all mankind for personal sin, (though they had personal sin) without an express revealed constitution ; and then to observe, that there was no revealed constitution of this nature from Adam to Moses, which also seems to be an assertion without any plain evidence and then to infer, that it must needs be so, that it could come only on occasion of Adam's sin, though not for his sin, or as any punishment of it; which inference also is very dark and unintelligible.
If the apostle in this place meant those who never sinned by their personal act, it is not strange that he should express this by their not sinning after the similitude of Adam's transgression. We read of two ways of men being like Adam, or in which a similitude to him is ascribed to men : One is, being begotten or born in his image or likeness, Gen. v. 3. Another is, transgressing God's Covenant or law, like him, Hos. vi. 7. They like Adam, (so, in the Heb. and Vulg. Lat.) have transgressed the covenant. Infants have the former similitude, but not the latter. And it was very natural, when the apostle would infer that infants become sinners by that one act and offence of Adam, to observe, that they had not renewed the act of sin themselves, by any second instance of a like sort. And such might be the state of language among Jews and Christians at that day, that the apostle might have no phrase more aptly to express this meaning. The manner in which the epithets, personal and actual, are used and applied now in this case, is probably of later date, and more modern use.
And the apostle having the case of infants in view, in this expression, makes it more to his purpose to mention death reigning before the law of Moses was given. For the Jews looked on all nations besides themselves as sinners, by virtue of their law; being made so especially by the law of circumcision, given first to Abraham, and completed by Moses, making the want of circumcision a legal pollution, utterly disqualifying for the privileges of the sanctuary. This law, the Jews supposed, made the very infants of the Gentiles to be sinners, polluted and hateful to God; they being uncircumcised, and born of uncircumcised parents. But the apostle proves against these notions of the Jews, that the nations of the world do not become sinners by nature, and sinners from infancy, by virtue of their law, in this manner, but by Adam's sin : Inasmuch as infants were treated as sinners long before the law of circumcision was given, as well as before they had committed actual sin.
What has been said, may, as I humbly conceive, lead us to that which is the true scope and sense of the apostle in these three verses; which I will endeavour more briefly to represent in the following paraphrase. 12. Wherefore,
“ The things which I have largely as by one man sin en- insisted on, viz. the evil that is in the tered into the world, world, the general wickedness, guilt and and death by sin; ruin of mankind, and the opposite good, and so death passed even justification and life, as only by upon all men, for that Christ, lead me to observe the likeness of all have sinned. the manner in which they are each of
them introduced. For it was by one man that the general corruption and guilt which I have spoken of, came into the world, and condemnation and death by sin : And this dreadful punishment and ruin came on all mankind by the great law of works, originally established with mankind in their first father, and by his one offence, or breach of that law; all thereby becoming sinners in God's sight, and ex
posed to final destruction. 13. For until the “ It is manifest that it was in this law sin was in the way the world became sinful and guilty ; world : But sin is and not in that way which the Jews sup. not imputed when pose, viz. That their law, given by Moses there is no law. is the grand universal rule of righteous
ness and judgment for mankind, and that it is by being Gentiles, uncircumcised, and aliens from that law, that the na tions of the world are constituted sinners, and unclean. For before the law of Moses was given, mankind were all looked upon by the great Judge as sinners, by corruption and guilt derived from Adam's violation of the original law of works; which shews, that the original universal rule of righteousness is not the law of Moses; for if so, there would have been no sin imputed before that was given ; because sin is not imputed, when there is no law.
“ But that at that time sin was im- 14. Nevertheless, puted, and men were by their judge death reigned from reckoned as sinners, through guilt and Adam
Moses, corruption derived froin Adam, and con- even over them that demned for sin to death, the proper had not sinned af. punishment of sin, we have a plain proof ter the similitude of in that it appears in fact, all mankind, Adam's transgresduring that whole time which preceded sion. the law of Moses, were subjected to that temporal death, which is the visible introduction and image of that utter destruction which sin deserves, not excepting even infants, who could be sinners no other
than by virtue of Adam's transgression, having never in their own persons actually sinned as Adam did ; nor could at that time be made polluted by the law of Moses, as being uncircumcised, or born of uncircumcised parents.
Now, by way of reflection on the whole, I would observe, that though there are two or three expressions in this paragraph, Rom. v. 12, &c. the design of which is attended with some difficulty and obscurity, as particularly in the 13th and 14th verses, yet
sense of the discourse in general is not obscure, but on the contrary very clear and manifest; and so is the particular doctrine mainly taught in it. The apostle sets himself with great care to make it plain, and precisely to fix and settle the point he is upon. And the discourse is so framed, that one part of it greatly clears and fixes the meaning of other parts; and the whole is determined by the clear connection it stands in with other parts of the epistle and by the manifest drift of all the preceding part of it.
The doctrine of original sin is not only here taught, but most plainly, explicitly, and abundantly taught. This doctrine is asserted, expressly or impliedly, in almost every verse, and in some of the verses several times. It is fully implied in that first expression in the 12th ver. By one man sin entered into the world. The passage implies, that sin became universal in the world; as the apostle had before largely shewn it was ; and not merely (which would be a trifling observation) that one man, who was made first, sinned first, before other men sinned; or, that it did not so happen that many men began to sin just together at the same moment.
The latter part of the verse, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that (or, if you will, unto which) all have sinned,"shews that in the eye of the Judge of the world, in Adam's first sin all sinned ; not only in some sort, but all sinned so as to be exposed to that
death, and final destruction, which is the proper wages of sin. The same doctrine is taught again twice over in the 14th verse. It is there observed, as a proof of this doctrine, that death reigned over them which had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, i. e. by their personal act; and therefore could be exposed to death, only by driving guilt and pollution from Adam, in consequence of his sin. And it is taught again in those words, who is the figure of him that was to come. The resemblance lies very much in this circumstance, viz. our deriving sin, guilt, and punishment by Adam's sin, as we do righteousness, justification, and the reward of life by Christ's obedience; for so the apostle explains himself. The same doctrine is expressly taught again, ver. 15. Through the offence of one, many
be dead A d again twice in the 16th verse, it was by one that sinned : i.e. It was by Adam, that guilt and punishment (before spoken of) came on mankind : And in these words, judgment wus by one to condemnation. It is again plainly and fully laid down in the 17th verse, by one man's offence death reigned by one. So again in the 18th verse, By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation. Again very plainly in the 19th verse, “ By one man's disobedience, many were made sinners."
Here is every thing to determine and fix the meaning of all the important terms used; As, the abundant use of them in all parts of the New Testament; and especially in this apostle's writings, which make up a very great part of the New Testament; and his repeated use of them in this epistle in particular; and in the former part of this very chapter; and also the light that one sentence in this paragraph casts on another, which fully settles their meaning: As, with respect to the words justification, righteousness, and condemnaiion ; and above all, in regard of the word sin, which is the most important of all, with relation to the doctrine and controversy we are upon. Besides the constant use of this term every where else through the New Testament, through the epistles of this apostle, this epistle in particular, and even the former part of this chapter, it is often repeated in this very paragraph, and evidently used in the very sense that is denied to belong to it in the end of ver. 12. and ver. 19. though owned every where else. And its meaning is fully determined by the apostle varying the term; using together with it, to signify the same thing, such a variety of other synonymous words, such as offence, transgression, disobedience. And further, to put the matter out of all controversy, it is particularly, expressly, and repeatedly distinguished from that which our opposers would explain it by, viz. condemnation and death. And what is meant by sin entering into the world, in ver. 12, is determined by a like phrase of sin being in the world, in the next verse. And that by the
offence of one, so often spoken of here, as bringing death and condemnation on all, the apostle means the sin of one, derived in its guilt and pollution to mankind in general (over and above all that has been already observed) is determined by those words in the conclusion of this discourse, ver. 20. “ Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound : But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” These words plainly show, that the OFFENCE spoken of so often, the offence of one man, became the sin of all. For when he says, The law entered, that the offence might abound, his meaning cannot be, that the offence of Adam, merely as his personally, should abound; but, as it exists in its derived guilt, corrupt influence, and evil fruits, in the sin of mankind in general, even as a tree in its root and branches,*
What further confirms the certainty of the proof of original sin, which this place affords, is this, that the utmost art cannot pervert it to another sense. What a variety of the most artful methods have been used by the enemies of this doctrine, to wrest and darken this paragraph of holy writ, which stands so much in their way; as it were, to force the bible to speak a language agreeable to their mind! How have expressions been strained, words and phrases racked !
What strange figures of speech have been invented, and with violent hands thrust into the apostle's mouth; and then with a bold countenance and magisterial airs obtruded on the world, as from him ! But blessed be God, we have his words as he delivered them, and the rest of the same epistle, and his other writings to compare with them; by which his meaning stands in too strong and glaring a light to be hid by any of the artificial mists which they labour to throw upon it.
It is really no less than abusing the scripture and its readers, to represent this paragraph as the most obscure of all the places of scripture, that speak of the consequences of Adam's sin ; and to treat it as if there was need first to consider other places as more plain. Whereas, it is most manifestly a place in which these things are declared, the most plainly, particularly, precisely, and of set purpose, by that great apostle, who has most fully explained to us those doctrines in general, which relate to the redemption by Christ, and the sin and misery we are redeemed from. And it must be now left to the
* The offence, according to Dr. T.'s explanation, does not abound by the law at all really and truly, in any sense ; neither the sin, nor the punishment. For he says, “ The meaning is not, that men should be made more wicked; but, that men should be liable to death for every transgression.” But after all, they are liable to no more deaths, nor to worse deaths, if they are not more sinful: For they were to have punishments according to their desert before. Such as died, and went into another world before the law of Moses was given, were punished according to their deserts ; and the law, when it came, threatened no more.