THE SECOND ESSAY.
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A PLAIN EXPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF IMPUTED SIN AND IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.
“THIS doctrine has been attended with many noisy controversies in the Christian world. Let us try whether it may not be set in so fair and easy a light as to reconcile the sentiments of the contending parties.” (Page 427.) “When a man has broken the law of his country, and is punished for so doing, it is plain that sin is imputed to him; his wickedness is upon him; he bears his iniquity; that is, he is reputed, or accounted guilty; he is condemned and dealt with as an offender.” (Page 428.) “On the other hand, if an innocent man, who is falsely accused, is acquitted by the court, sin is not imputed to him, but righteousness is imputed to him; or, to use another phrase, his ‘righteousness is upon him.’ “Or if a reward be given a man for any righteous action, this righteous act is imputed to him. “Farther: If a man has committed a crime, but the Prince pardons him, then he is justified from it; and his fault is not imputed to him.” (Page 429.) “But if a man having committed treason, his estate is taken from him and his children, then they ‘bear the iniquity of their father,’ and his sin is imputed to them also. “If a man lose his life and estate for murder, and his children thereby become vagabonds, then the blood of the person murdered is said to be upon the murderer, and upon his children also. So the Jews: ‘His blood be on us and on our children;’ let us and our children be punished for it! “Or if a criminal had incurred the penalty of imprisonment, and the State were to permit a friend of his to become his surety, and to be confined in his room, then his crime is said to be imputed to his surety, or to be laid upon him; he bears the iniquity of his friend, by suffering for him. Meantime the crime for which the surety now suffers, is not imputed to the real offender.” (Page 430.) “And should we suppose the Prince to permit this surety to exert himself in some eminent service, to which a reward is promised; and all this in order to entitle the criminal to the promised reward:
Then this eminent service may be said to be imputed to the criminal, that is, he is rewarded on the account of it. So in this case, both what his friend has done and suffered is imputed to him. “If a man do some eminent service to his Prince, and he with his posterity are dignified on account of it; then the service performed by the father is said to be imputed to the children also.” (Page 431.) “Now, if, among the histories of nations, we find anything of this kind, do we not easily understand what the writers say? Why then do we judge these phrases, when they are found in the inspired writers, to be so hard to be understood? “But it may be asked, ‘How can the acts of the parent’s treason be imputed to his little child, since those acts were quite out of the reach of an infant, nor was it possible for him to commit them.’ “Or, ‘How can the eminent service performed by a father be imputed to his child, who is but an infant?’ “I answer: 1. Those acts of treason, or acts of service, are, by a common figure, said to be imputed to the children, when they suffer or enjoy the consequences of their father’s treason or eminent service; though the particular actions of treason or service could not be practiced by the children. This would easily be understood, should it occur in a human history: And why not, when it occurs in the sacred writings?
I answer: 2. Sin is taken either for an act of disobedience to a law, or for the legal result of such an act; that is, be guilt, or liableness to punishment. Now, when we say, the sin of a traitor is imputed to his children, we do not mean, that the act of the father is charged upon the child; but that the guilt, or liableness to punishment, is so transferred to him, that he suffers banishment or poverty on account of it.” (Pages 432, 433, 434.) “In like manner, righteousness is either particular acts of obedience to a law, or the legal result of those actions; that is, a right to the reward annexed to them. “And so when we say, The righteousness of him that has performed some eminent act of obedience is imputed to his children, we do not mean, that the particular act of the father is charged on the child, as if he had done it; but that the right to reward, which is the result of that act, is transferred to his children. “Now, if we would but thus explain every text of Scripture wherein either imputed sin, or imputed righteousness, is mentioned, (whether in express words, or in the plain meaning of them,) we should find them all easy and intelligible.” (Page 435.) “Thus we may easily understand how the obedience of Christ is imputed to all his seed; and how the disobedience of Adam is imputed to all his children.” (Page 436.) “To confirm this, I would add these three remarks: — “1. There are several histories in Scripture, where expressions of the same import occur. “So Genesis 22:116: ‘Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, because thou hast obeyed my voice.’” Here Abraham’s obedience, that is, the result of it, is imputed to his posterity. “So Numbers 25:13: ‘God gave to Phinehas and his seed after him the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God,’ and slew the criminals in Israel. This was so imputed to his children, that they also received the reward of it.” (Page 437.) “Thus the sin of Achan was so imputed to his children, that they were all stoned on account of it. ( Joshua 7:24) In like manner, the covetousness of Gehazi was imputed to his posterity, ( Kings 5:27) when God by his Prophet pronounced that the leprosy should cleave unto him and to his seed for ever.” (Page 438.) 2. “The Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, use the words sin and iniquity , (both in Hebrew and Greek,) to signify, not only the criminal actions themselves, but also the result and consequences of those actions; that is, the guilt or liableness to punishment; and sometimes the punishment itself, whether it fall upon the original criminal, or upon others on his account.” (Page 439.) “In the same manner, the Scriptures use the word righteousness, not only for acts of obedience, but also the result of them; that is, justification, or right to a reward. A moderate study of some of those texts where these words are used may convince us of this,” “So Job 33:26: ‘God will render to a man his righteousness,’ that is, the reward of it. ‘Sow to yourselves in righteousness, till the Lord come and rain righteousness upon you:’ ( Hosea 10:12) That is, till he pour down the rewards, or fruits, of it upon you.” “I might add here, that, in several places of St. Paul’s Epistles, righteousness means justification , in the passive senile of the word.” (Page 440.) “So Romans 10:4: ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;’ that is, in order to the justification of believers. ‘With the heart man believeth unto righteousness;’ (Verse 10;) that is, so as to obtain justification. “‘If righteousness,’ that is, justification, ‘come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.’ ( Galatians 2:21) This particularly holds where the word logizomai, or impute , is joined with righteousness. As Romans 4:3: Abraham ‘believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness.’ ‘His faith is counted to him for righteousness.’ ( Romans 4:5) It is not anti or uper , for or instead of righteousness; but eiv dikaiosunhn, ‘in order to justification,’ or acceptance with God.” “And in other places of Scripture, a work, whether good or evil, is put for the reward of it: ‘The work of a man will he render unto him;’ ( Job 34:1) that is, the recompense of it. So St. Paul desires Philemon to impute any wrong he had received from Onesimus to himself; that is, not the evil action, but the damage he had sustained. “Indeed, when sin or righteousness are said to be imputed to any man, on account of what himself hath done, the words usually denote both the good or evil actions themselves, and the legal result of them. But when the sin or righteousness of one person is said to be imputed to another, then, generally, those words mean only the result thereof; that is, a liableness to punishment on the one hand, and to reward on the other. “But let us say what we will to confine the sense of the imputation of sin and righteousness to the legal result, — the reward or punishment of good or evil actions; let us ever so explicitly deny the imputation of the actions themselves to others; still Dr. Taylor will level almost all his arguments against the imputation of the actions themselves, and then triumph in having demolished what we never built, and refitting what we never asserted.” (Page 441.) “3. The Scripture does not, that I remember, anywhere say, in express words, that the sin of Adam is imputed to his children; or, that the sins of believers are imputed to Christ; or, that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers: But the true meaning of all these expressions is sufficiently found in several places of Scripture.” (Page 446.) “Yet since these express words and phrases, of the imputation of Adam’s sin to us, of our sins to Christ, and of Christ’s righteousness to us, are not plainly written in Scripture, we should not impose it on every Christian, to use these very expressions.
Let every one take his liberty, either of confining himself to strictly scriptural language, or of manifesting his sense of these plain scriptural doctrines, in words and phrases of his own.” (Page 447.) “But if the words were expressly written in the Bible, they could not reasonably be interpreted in any other sense, than this which I have explained by so many examples, both in Scripture, history, was in common life. “I would only add, If it were allowed, that the very act of Adam’s disobedience was imputed to all his posterity; that all the same sinful actions which men have committed were imputed to Christ, and the very actions which Christ did upon earth were imputed to believers; what greater punishments would the posterity of Adam suffer, or what greater blessings could believers enjoy, beyond what Scripture has assigned, either to mankind, as the result of the sin of Adam; or to Christ, as the result of the sins of men; or to believers, as the result of the righteousness of Christ?”
THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
I BELIEVE every impartial reader is now able to judge, whether Dr. Taylor has solidly answered Dr. Watts or no. But there is another not inconsiderable writer whom I cannot find he has answered at all, though he has published four several tracts professedly against Dr. Taylor, of which he could not be ignorant, because they are mentioned in “The Ruin and Recovery of Human Nature;”— I mean the Rev. Mr. Samuel Hebden, Minister at Wrentham, in Suffolk I think it, therefore, highly expedient to subjoin a short abstract of these also; the rather, because the tracts themselves are very scarcer having been for some time out of print. “Lo, this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” Ecclesiastes 7:29. “IN the preceding verse Solomon had declared, how few wise and good persons he had found in the whole course of his life; but, lest any should blame the providence of God for this, he here observes, that these were not what God made man at first; and that their being what they were not was the effect of a wretched apostasy from God. The original words stand thus: Only see thou, I have found .” (Page 3.) “Only : This word sets a mark on what it is prefixed to, as a truth of great certainty and importance. See , observe, thou . He invites every hearer and reader, in particular, to consider what he was about to offer. I have found : I have discovered this certain truth, and assert it on the fullest evidence, ‘that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.’” (Page 4.) “The Hebrew word ( rçy ) which we render upright, is properly opposed to crooked, irregular, perverse. It is applied to things, to signify their being straight, or agreeable to rule; but it is like wise applied both to God and man, with the words and works of both.
As applied to God the ways of God, the word of God, it is joined with good ; ( Psalm 25:8) with righteous ; ( <19b9137> Psalm 119:137) with true and good ; ( Nehemiah 9:13) where mention is made of ‘right judgments, true laws, good statutes.’ The uprightness with which God is said to minister judgment to the people, answers to righteousness: In a word, — God’s uprightness is the moral rectitude of his nature, infinitely wise, good, just, and perfect. The uprightness of man, is his conformity, of heart and life, to the rule he is under; which is the law or will of God. Accordingly, we read of uprightness of heart; ( Psalm 34:10; Job 33:3) and up righteousness of way, or conversation; ( Psalm 37:14) and often elsewhere. ‘The upright man,’ throughout the Scripture, is a truly good man; a man of integrity, a holy person. In Job 1:1,8; 2:3, upright is the same with perfect , (as in Psalm 37:37, and many other places,) and is explained by, one ‘who feareth God and escheweth evil.’ In Job 8:6, it is joined and is the same with pure. In the same sense it is taken, (to mention but a few out of many texts which might be produced,) Proverbs 10:29: ‘The way of the Lord is strength to the upright; but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.’ ‘The integrity o the upright shall guide them; but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.’ ( 11:3) ‘The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them; but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.’ (Verse 6) ‘By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted.’ (Verse 11) ‘ The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight.’ ( 15:8) ‘wicked man hardeneth his face; but as for the upright, he directeth his way.’ ( 21:29) From all these texts it manifestly appears, that uprightness, as applied to man, is the very same with righteousness, holiness, or integrity of heart and conversation.”(Pages 5, 6) “When, therefore, Solomon says, God ‘made man upright,’ the plain, undeniable meaning,, is, God at first formed man righteous or holy although ‘they have sought out many inventions.’ They, — this refers to Adam, which is both a singular and a plural noun:
They, our first parents, and with them their posterity, have sought out many inventions;’ many contrivances, to offend God, and injure themselves. These ‘many inventions’ are opposed to the uprightness, the simplicity of heart and integrity, with which our first parents, and mankind in them, were originally made by God.” (page 7.) “The doctrine of the text then is, that God, at his creation, ‘made man upright,’ or righteous; not only rational, and a free agent, but holy. Therefore, to maintain, that ‘man neither was, nor could be, formed holy, because none can be holy, but in consequence of his own choice and endeavor,’ is bold indeed! To prove the contrary, and justify Solomon’s assertion, I offer a few plain arguments.” (Page 8.) “1. Moses, in his account of the creation, writes, ‘And God said, Let us make man in our own image.’ Now, that righteousness or holiness is the principal part of this image of God, appears from Ephesians 4:22,24, and Colossians 3:9,10. On which passages I observe,
(1.) By ‘the old man’ is not meant a heathenish life, or an ungodly conversation; but a corrupt nature. For the Apostle elsewhere speaks of our ‘old man,’ as ‘crucified with Christ;’ and here distinguishes from it their ‘former conversation,’ or sinful actions, which he calls ‘the deeds of the old man.’
(3.) To put off ‘the old man’ (the same as to ‘crucify the flesh’) is, to subdue and mortify our corrupt nature; to ‘put on the new man’ is, to stir up and cultivate that gracious principle, that new nature. “This,’ saith the Apostle, ‘is created after God, in righteousness and true holiness.’ It is created : Which cannot properly be said of a new course of life; but may of a ‘new nature.’ It is ‘created after God;’ or, ‘in his image and likeness,’ mentioned by Moses. But what is it to be ‘created after God,’ or ‘in his image?’ It is to be ‘created in righteousness and true holiness;’ termed ‘knowledge,’ the practical knowledge of God. ( Colossians 3:10) But if ‘to be created after God,’ or sin his image and likeness,’ is ‘to be created in righteousness and true holiness,’ and if that principle of righteousness and holiness by which we are ‘created unto good works,’ is a ‘new man,’ a ‘divine nature;’ it is easy to infer, that man was at first created righteous’ or ‘holy.’” (Pages 9, 10.) “2. All things, as at first made by God, ‘were very good.’ Nor indeed could he make them otherwise. Now, a rational being is not good, unless his rational powers are all devoted to God. The goodness of man, as a rational being, must lie in a devotedness and consecration to God.
Consequently, man was at first thus devoted to God: Otherwise he was not good. But this devotedness to the love and service of God is true righteousness or holiness. This righteousness then, this goodness, or uprightness, this regular and due state or disposition of the human mind, was at first natural to man. It was wrought into his nature, and concreted with his rational powers. A rational creature, as such is capable of knowing, loving, serving, living in communion width, the Most Holy One.
Adam at first either did or did not use this capacity; either he knew and loved God, or he did not. If he did not, he was not ‘very good,’ no, nor good at all: If he did, he was upright, righteous, holy.” (Page 12.) “3. When God vested man with dominion over the other creatures, how was he qualified for exercising that dominion, unless he had in himself a principle of love and obedience to the Supreme Governor? Did not God form the creatures obedient to man, to confirm man in his loving obedience to God; Or did he create them with a disposition to depend on and obey man as their Lord, and not create man with a disposition to obey and live Independent on the Lord of all? But this disposition is uprightness.
Therefore God ‘made man upright.’” (Page 13.) “4. Either man was created with principles of love and obedience, or he was created an enemy to God. One of these must be: For as all the duty required of man, as a rational being, is summarily comprised in love, a supreme love to God, and a subordinate love to others, for his sake; so there can be no medium between a rational creature’s loving God, and not loving, which is a degree of ‘enmity’ to him. Either, O man, thou lovest God, or thou dost not: If thou dost, thou art holy or righteous; if thou dost not, thou art indisposed to serve him in such a manner, and with such a frame of spirit, as he requires. Then thou art an enemy to God, a rebel against his authority. But God could not create man in such a state, in a state of enmity against himself. It follows that man was created a lover of God that is, righteous and holy.” (Page 14.) “In a word: Can you prove, either that man was not ‘created after God,’ or that this does not mean, being ‘created in righteousness and true holiness? ‘Was not man, as all creatures, good in his kind?
And is a rational creature good, unless all its powers are devoted to God? Was not man duly qualified at first to exercise dominion over the other creatures? And could he be so qualified without a principle of love and obedience to their common Lord? Lastly: Can any man prove, either that man could be innocent if he did not love the Lord his God with all his heart; or that such a love to God is not ‘righteousness and true holiness?’” (Page 15.) “From the doctrine of man’s original righteousness we may easily conclude that of original sin. For this reason it is, that some so earnestly protest against original righteousness, because they dread looking on themselves as ‘by nature’ fallen creatures, and ‘children of wrath.’ If man was not holy at first, he could not fall from a state of holiness; and, consequently, that first transgression exposed him and his posterity to nothing but temporal death. But, on the other hand, if ‘man was made upright,’ it follows,
(1.) That man, when he fell, lost his original righteousness, and there with his title to God’s favor, and to communion with God.
(2.) That he thereby incurred not only temporal but spiritual death. He became dead in sin, and a child of wrath. And,
(3.) That all his posterity are born with such a nature, not as man had at first, but as he contracted by his fall.” (Pages 20, 21.) “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden though mayest freely eat: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:16,17. “GOD forbade man to eat of this tree, in token of his sovereign authority, and for the exercise of man’s love, and the trial of his obedience. The words added, ‘In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,’ or literally, ‘In dying thou shalt die,’ mean, not only, ‘Thou shalt certainly die,’ but, ‘Thou shalt suffer every kind of death:’ Thy soul as well as thy body shall die. And, indeed, if God made man upright or holy; if man at first enjoyed the life of God, including holiness joined with blessedness; and if the miserable state of the soul (as well as the dissolution of the body) is in the Scripture termed ‘death;’ it plainly follows, that the original threatening includes nothing less than a loss of man’s original uprightness, of his title to God’s favor, and happy life of communion with God.” (Pages 26, 27.) “The words mean, farther, ‘Thou shalt instantly die;’ as soon as ever thou eatest. And so he did. For in that instant his original righteousness, title to God’s favor, and communion with God being lost, he was spiritually dead, ‘dead in sin;’ his soul was dead to God, and his body liable to death, temporal and eternal.” (Pages 28, 29.) “And as there is a threatening of death expressed in these words, so a promise of life is implied. The threatening death only in case of disobedience, implied, that otherwise he should not die. And even since the fall, the law of God promises life to obedience, as well as threatens death to disobedience; since the tenor of it is, ‘Do this and live: If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’” (Page 30.) “Now, a law given by God with a promise of life and a threatening of death, consented to by man, is evidently a covenant. For what is a covenant, but a mutual agreement of two or more parties on certain terms? Now, in this sense God covenanted with man, and man covenanted with God. God gave a law, promising life in case of obedience, threatening death in case of disobedience. And man accepted of the terms. Here, therefore, was a real covenant.” (Page 31.) “But, to guard this against objections, I add: — “1. We do not affirm, that God visibly appeared, and formally treated with Adam, as one man with another. Without so formal a procedure, God could, and doubtless did, signify to him, on what terms he was to expect life or death.” (Page 32.) “2. We do not assert, that God promised to translate him to heaven; but, without question, he made Adam sensible, that if he continued obedient he should continue happy, whether in paradise or some other region. “3. If one greatly superior will freely condescend to treat with an inferior, this does not disannul the mutual agreement, or hinder its having the nature of a covenant. So God entered into a proper covenant with Abraham of old, and with his people in the gospel. And if so, much more might he do so with man, when perfectly upright toward God.” (Page 33.) “And this covenant was made with Adam, not only for himself, but likewise for all his posterity. This appears, — “1. From the tenor of the original threatening, compared with the present state of mankind. For it is evident, that every one of his posterity is born liable to death; that the death, to which all are liable, was not threatened but in case of man’s sinning; that man was not liable to death till he sinned, and his being so was the result of the threatening; and that the Scripture constantly points at sin as the sole cause of death, and of all suffering. But if all mankind are born liable to that which was originally threatened only to sin, then all mankind are accounted sinners, and as such are concerned in the original threatening, and consequently in the original promise.” (Page 34.) “2. From 1 Corinthians 15:22: ‘In Adam all die.’ Here the Apostle speaks, not of both our parents, but of Adam singly, (as also Romans 5,) to denote our peculiar relation to him. The ‘all’ mentioned, are all his natural descendants, who ‘all die in’ or through him; that is, are liable to death on account of their relation to him. And it is not only a bodily death that is here spoken of; for it stands opposed, not to a bare revival of the body, but to a happy and glorious resurrection, such as ‘they that are Christ’s’ will partake of at his second coming. For of this resurrection, not that of the ungodly, the Apostle is speaking throughout this chapter. But they could not ‘die in Adam,’ if they did not in some sense sin in him, and fall with him; if the covenant had not been made with him, not for himself only, but for all his posterity.” (Pages 35, 36.) “3. From verses 45 and 47 of the same chapter. The ‘first man, Adam’ and ‘the second Man, the last Adam,’ are here opposed. Now, why is Christ, notwithstanding the millions of men intervening between Adam and him, and following after his birth, called ‘the second Man,’ and ‘the last Adam?’ We have an answer, Romans 5:12,14, etc., where Adam is said to be ‘a figure of Christ; ‘and the resemblance between them is shown to lie in this, — that as ‘sin’ and ‘death’ descend from one, so ‘righteousness’ and ‘life’ from the other. Consequently, what Christ is with regard to all his spiritual seed, that Adam is with regard to all his natural descendants; namely, a public person, a federal head, a legal representative: One with whom the covenant was made, not only for himself, but also for his whole posterity.” “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “What which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:5, “IN this text we have, — “I. The new birth described; “II. The necessity of it insisted on; “III. The original corruption of every child of Adam observed, as that from which the necessity of such a change arises.
I. “The new birth is here described. Whatever this implies, the Spirit of God is the sole author of it. He does not help a man to regenerate himself, but takes the work into his own hands. A child of God, as such, is ‘not born of blood;’ does not become so by descent from pious parents. He is not ‘born of the will of the flesh;’ is not renewed by the power of his own carnal will; ‘nor of man,’ of any man whatsoever, ‘but; of God,’ by the sole power of his Spirit. “In regeneration, the Holy Spirit mortifies ‘the old man,’ corrupt nature, and breathes a principle of life into the soul; a principle of faith, of sincere love, and willing obedience to God. He who was; ‘dead in sin,’ is now ‘dead to sin,’ and ‘alive to God through Jesus Christ.’ God has ‘created in him a clean heart, and renewed a right spirit within him.’ He has ‘created’ him ‘unto good works,’ and ‘written’ his ‘law in his heart.’ But if the Spirit of God is the sole agent in the work of regeneration; if the soul of man has no active interest or concern in his ‘being born again;’ if man was created holy, and regeneration reinstamps that holy image of God on the soul; if ‘the new man is created after God in righteousness and true holiness;’ if the corruption of nature (termed ‘the old man’ or ‘flesh’) is not contracted by imitation or custom, but is an inbred hereditary distemper, coeval with our nature; if all truly good works are the fruits of a good heart, a good principle wrought in the soul; it plainly follows, that the faith, hope, love, fear, which distinguish the children of God from others, are not of the nature of acquired, but of infused, habits or principles. To say then, ‘that all holiness must be the effect of a man’s own choice and endeavor, and that, by a right use of his natural powers, every man may and must attain a habit of holiness,’ that is, ‘be born again,’ however pleasing it may be to human vanity, is contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture. “And all the scriptural expressions on this head are grounded on the real nature of things. ‘Sin’ is of the nature of ‘filth’ and ‘corruption.’ It pollutes the whole man, and renders him as an ‘unclean thing’ in the sight of God. When, therefore, the Spirit of God removes this, he is said to ‘create a clean heart,’ to ‘purify the heart,’ to ‘sprinkle clean water upon’ us, to wash us ‘from’ our ‘filthiness.’ And this cleansing efficacy is in the text expressed by being ‘born of water and of the Spirit.’ “When, therefore, our Lord speaks of being ‘born of the Spirit,’ his plain meaning is, there is a spiritual cleansing you must partake of, mentioned in those promises: ‘I will sprinkle clear water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will take away the stony heart, and I will give you a heart of flesh.’ These promises give us a plain description of the Spirit’s regenerating work; without experiencing which, our state is miserable now, and will be much more so hereafter.
“For this spiritual renovation of the soul is indispensably necessary. Without it none can ‘enter the kingdom of heaven,’ either the kingdom of grace or of glory. “1. ‘Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of’ grace; he cannot be a loyal subject of Jesus Christ. By nature we are subjects of Satan; and such we must remain, unless renewing grace ‘translate us into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.’ “2. Consequently, ‘except we are born again, we cannot enter into the kingdom’ of glory. Indeed, supposing he could be admitted there, what could an unregenerate sinner do in heaven? He could not possibly have any relish either for the business, the company, or the enjoyments of that world.
“Our Lord, having asserted the absolute necessity of the new birth, to show the ground of this necessity, adds, ‘that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’
Here observe, — “1. Our Lord opposes ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’ to each other; which opposition we often meet with. Whatever, therefore, is meant by these two, they denote things opposite. “2. He speaks here of two separate births, which are distinctly mentioned. “3. The former of these two is spoken of as that which renders the other so necessary. Because ‘that which is born of the flesh is flesh;’ therefore ‘we must be born of the Spirit:’ Therefore this great change must be wrought in us, or we cannot ‘enter into the kingdom of God.’ “4. If the latter of these is made necessary by the former, then to be ‘born flesh’ is to be born corrupt and sinful. And, indeed, the word ‘flesh’ is very frequently taken for the corrupt principle in man. It is always so taken when it stands opposed to ‘the Spirit,’ or to that in wrought principle of obedience, which itself also (taking the name of its Author) is sometimes termed ‘Spirit.’” “Now, in the text, whatever or whoever is born of a man, since the fall, is denominated ‘flesh.’ And that ‘flesh’ is here put, not for sinless frailty, but sinful corruption, we learn from its being opposed to the ‘Spirit.’ Christ was born frail, as well as we, and in this sense was ‘flesh;’ yet, being without sin, he had no need to be ‘born of the Spirit.’ This is not made necessary by any sinless infirmities, but by a sinful nature only. This alone is opposite to ‘the Spirit;’ thus, therefore, we must understand it here. “But Dr. Taylor says, ‘ To be born of the flesh is only to be naturally born of a woman.’ I answer, is not ‘flesh’ opposed to ‘Spirit’ in this verse? Is it not the Spirit of God, which is spoken of in the latter clause, together with the principle of grace, which is in every regenerate person? And is anything beside sinful corruption opposite to the Spirit of God? No, certainly! But if so, and if wherever ‘flesh’ is opposed to ‘the Spirit,’ it implies sinful corruption, then it is evident, to be ‘born of the flesh,’ is to be the sinful offspring of sinful parents, so as to have need of the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit, on that account, even from our birth. “If to ‘walk after the flesh,’ as opposed to ‘walking after the ‘spirit is to follow our sinful inclinations; if to ‘be in the flesh,’ opposed to ‘being in the Spirit.’ is to be in a state of sin; if ‘the flesh’ and ‘the Spirit’ are two contrary principles, which counteract each other; ( Galatians 5:16,17) if ‘the works of the flesh, and the lusts of the flesh,’ are opposed to ‘the Spirit’ and ‘the fruit of the Spirit;’ then, ‘to be born of the flesh’ must signify more than barely to be born of a woman. Had Adam transmitted a pure nature to his descendants, still each of them would have been born of a woman; but they would have had no necessity of being ‘born of the Spirit,’ or renewed by the Holy Ghost. “But what is that corruption of nature which the Scripture terms flesh ? There are two branches of it: 1. A want of original righteousness: 2. A natural propensity to sin. “1. A want of original righteousness. God created man righteous; holiness was connatural to his soul; a principle of love and obedience to God. But when he sinned he lost this principle. And every man is now born totally void both of the knowledge and love of God. “2. A natural propensity to sin is in every man. And this is inseparable from the other. If man is born and grows up without the knowledge or love of God, he is born and grows up propense to sin; which includes two things, — an aversion to what is good, and an inclination to what is evil. “We are naturally averse to what is good. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God. Nature does not, will not, cannot, submit to his holy, just, and good law. Therefore, ‘they that are in the flesh cannot please God.’ Being averse to the will, law, and ways of God, they are utterly indisposed for such an obedience as the relation between God and man indispensably requires. “And as we are all naturally averse to what is good, so we are naturally inclined to what is evil. Even young children of themselves run into evil; but are with difficulty brought to practice what is good. No sooner do they discover reason, than they discover evil, unreasonable dispositions. And these discovering themselves in every one, even from his early childhood, manifestly prove the inbred and universal corruption of human nature. “But why is this corruption termed flesh ? Not because it is confined to the body. It is the corruption of our whole nature, and is therefore termed ‘the old man.’ Not because it consists merely in a repugnance of the sensual appetites to reason. This is but one branch of that corruption; the whole of it is far more extensive. Not because it is primarily seated in the body; it is primarily seated in the soul. If ‘sin reigns in our mortal bodies,’ it is because the sinful soul uses the bodily members as ‘instruments of unrighteousness.’ “Nay, all which those words, That which is born of the flesh is flesh, mean, is this: All men being descended of frail and mortal parents are, like them, frail and mortal. In consequence of Adam’s sin, all his descendants die.’ “I answer, 1. Though this be true, it is not the whole truth. Nor is it the proper truth of the text, which speaks of our being ‘born of the flesh,’ as the reason why we must be ‘born of the Spirit.’ “2. It is not consistent with the moral perfections of God for sinless creatures to be born ‘mortal.’ Death, in every sense of the word, is the proper ‘wages of sin.’ ‘Sin’ has the same casual influence on death, as the obedience of Christ has on eternal life. “3. We are not only born ‘mortal,’ but ‘children of wrath;’ we who are now regenerate, as well as others. “4. The Scripture ascribes both our ‘mortality’ and ‘corruption’ to our relation to Adam. ‘In him all die;’ ‘through the offense of one, many,’ all mankind, ‘are dead,’ liable to death. Again: ‘By the disobedience of one,’ the same, ‘many are constituted sinners.’ Therefore, when our Lord says, ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh,’ he means, not only that we and our parents are ‘mortal,’ but that all mankind derive spiritual as well as temporal death from their first father.”