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meant he should fall, and by falling, involve all hiş posterity in sin and ruin?
To this it does not appear proper to answer as many do, that God made Adam holy, put him into a state of probation, and constituted him the public Head of his posterity, because it was more for his benefit and theirs, that he should be placed in such a public capacity. It is more natural to conclude, that if God had meant to consult the particular benefit of mankind, he would have confirmed Adam in holiness, immediately upon his creation, and so have secured both his and their future holiness and happiness. We may reasonably suppose, that God acted upon a broader scale, than the particular good of Adam, or his posterity; and had a superior regard to his own glory, and the general good of the whole created universe. But though this was the general reason why God placed Adam in a state of probation, and at the head of his posterity; yet several particular reasons, for this part of the divine conduct, may be suggested.
1. There was a propriety in trying human nature, before it became corrupt. There is nothing better calculated to impress upon the minds of intelligent creatures a deep and lasting sense of their absolute dependence, than to be put into a state of trial. For this purpose, God tried the angels before their revolt. And for the same purpose, he saw fit to try Adam before he fell. Accordingly, in the first instance, he made him upright, and put him into a state of probation; where he had a fair opportunity of confirming, or of losing his original rectitude. And though God intended that both he and his posterity should even tually become sinful; yet, by this mode of conduct, he meant to convince both him and them, of their absolute dependence. upon his sovereign will, for the bestowment and continuance of his moral image. For,
2. By placing Adam, while perfectly holy, in a state af probation, God answered the same purpose that would have been answered, by placing all his posterity in the same situation. By trying Adam, he virtually tried the whole human race. For Adam was as able and as likely to stand, as any of his posterity would have been, had they been personally placed in similar circumstances. He was under the best advantages of standing the test of obedience, and of securing the everlasting approbation of his Maker. He was created in a state of manhood, and all his natural and moral powers were in their full vigor. He was capable of seeing the importance, and of feeling the obligations he was under, of yielding perfect and perpetual obedience to the divine will. In these respects, he stood upon higher ground, than any of his descendants could have stood, when they came into existence. So that they have no reason to imagine, that they should have stood the trial any better, than their first Parent. His trial was a fair trial of human nature in its best estate. And since the first and best of men sinned and fell; all his posterity have sufficient evidence of being absolutely dependent upon God, without whose special influence, they can neither become, nor continue holy and happy. Besides, *1 3. By trying Adam singly and in the room, of his posterity, God prepared the way to bring the Savior of the world into view, immediately after the fall. It would have appeared strange to Adam, and equally strange to his posterity from time to time, if God had provided a Savior for all mankind, before it was made certain, that all would become sinners, and stand in seed of a Savior. But by making Adam a public
Head of his posterity, and connecting their moral character with his, God ascertained their future sinfulness, by his first offence. For as soon as Adam needed a Savior, it became absolutely certain, that all his pos. terity would need one.
This would not have appeared, had each individual of mankind stood for himself, as each individual of the angels did. One reason, therefore, why God placed Adam as the public head of his posterity, and suspended their moral character upon a single instance of his conduct, was because he intended to provide a Savior for him and all his guilty race. This he did not intend to do for the angels after their fall; and, therefore, he placed each individual in a state of trial, to stand or fall for himself, without suspending the fate of all, upon the conduct of one. We barely suggest these reasons for God's constituting Adam the public Head of his posterity. For whether they are sufficient or insufficient to account for this instance of his conduct, is not very material; since neither our duty nor salvation depends upon being able to clear it up. It is hoped, however, that what has been hinted, may serve to remove some darkness and prejudice from the minds of those, who have been much perplexed upon this subject.
IMPROVEMENT. 1. It appears from the leading sentiments in this discourse, that Adam was the only person who committed, and who was guilty, of original sin. This phrase has been used to signify not only the sin of Adam, but the sin of Eve, and the sin of every one of their numerous posterity. It is true, indeed, that Eve committed a first sín; and it is equally true, that every other person has committed a first sin. But a sin's being the first that a person ever committed, does not properly denominate it an original sin. Each angel that fell committed a first sin; but that first sin has never beert called, nor considered to be, an original sin. This phrase is properly applicable to no other sin, than that of Adam's eating the forbidden fruit. And that sin is properly called original, not because it was the first ever committed in this world, for Eve was first in transgression; nor simply because it was the first sin of the first man; but because it was that particular sin, upon which the moral character of all mankind was constituitionally suspended. According to the divine constitution, that sin alone was the occasion of all the future sinfulness of Adam, and Eve, and their whole posterity.
And since it is improper to call any sin original siri, but that first sin of Adam; it is equally improper to say, that
any person ever committed, or was guilty of original sin, but the first man Adam. Though all men begin to sin, in consequence of original sin; yet their beginning to sin, is neither eating the forbidden fruit, nor consenting to eat it, nor doing any thing else, which resembles the first sin of Adam, any more than the first sin of any other man. T'he act and guilt of Adam's first transgression were his own, and never transferred to us. He committed and was guilty of original sin, and he alone. Though we have committed a multitude of other sins; yet we never committed that sin, nor stand in the least degree chargeable with it. To say, therefore, that all mankind are guilty of Adam's first transgression, is extremely absurd, and naturally tends to prejudice the minds of many against the true doctrine of original sin.
2. We learn from what has been said, that the true doctrine of original sin is clearly revealed in the Bible. This has often been called in question. Some suppose, if such an important doctrine were true, it
would have been much more frequently mentioned, and much more clearly revealed in Scripture.; They imagine, there is no trait of it to be found, after the third chapter of Genesis, until we come to this Epistle to the Romans, which is extremely obscure and hard to be understood. It is readily granted, that the idea, which some have formed of original sin, is no where revealed in the Bible. But that idea of it, which has been exhibited in this discourse, and which we conceive to be the only true idea, appears to run through all the books of the Old and New Testament. Upon the first offence of our first Parents, we read of God's providing a Savior, not only for them, but for, their future posterity. Immediately after this, we find sacrifices were appointed, to prefigure a suffering Sav. ior, and, through him, the pardoning mercy of God to all penitent sinners. Under the Law, circumcision was instituted, which plainly represented the native depravity of the human heart. This doctrine was uniformly taught by all the sacred Writers from Moses to Malachi. John the Baptist and Christ himself plainly and pointedly preached the same sentiment. Christ instituted the ordinance of Baptism, which signifies the “washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Paul represents Adam and Christ as two public Heads of mankind; and plainly declares, that we became sinners, by the disobedience of the former, and may be saved from ruin, by the obedience of the latter: Christ is represented, in the New Testament, as the Savior provided for both Jews and Gentiles; and is expressly said to be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. And the predictions concerning the future spread of the gospel, and the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom, carry the idea, that mankind will all be sinful, and need a Savior to