Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and Levitical Covenant: Jeremiah 33:14-22


14 Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’”
19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 20 “Thus says the Lord, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, 21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’" (Jeremiah 33:14-22 NASB)
Notice that the above text links together the Davidic Covenant, the New Covenant, and the Levitical Covenant. (The "good word" in verse 14 refers to the New Covenant promise from Jeremiah 31:27ff.)

The book of Hebrews also brings these three themes together and proclaims that they find specific fulfillment in Christ. Hebrews discusses the Davidic Covenant, for example, in Hebrews 1:5. Hebrews mentions Jesus as our High Priest in chapters 3-5, then gives a rather extended consideration of both the Levitical priesthood and the New Covenant in chapters 7-10.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology

In order to rightly understand God's Word, it is crucial to consider God's covenant dealings with His people. In particular, it is important to consider the relationship between the Old Testament and New Testament. A right understanding of covenants will assist the believer in better comprehension and appreciation of the gospel.

In addition to the resources at www.1689Federalism.com, I believe that the following 10 videos are wonderfully helpful in rightly understanding what the Bible teaches about the covenants.

Covenant Theology Foundations by Samuel Renihan

A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 1 by Richard Barcellos

A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 2 by Richard Barcellos

A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 3 by Richard Barcellos

Redemptive History and the Covenants by Samuel Renihan

Whatever Happened to the Covenant of Works? by Sam Waldron

The Primacy of the Abrahamic Covenant by Jeffrey Johnson

Kingship and the Davidic Covenant by Samuel Renihan

Old Covenant Prosecution and New Covenant Resolution by Samuel Renihan

Christ and His Covenant by Samuel Renihan

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Brief Note on Faith as a Gift

Of saving faith, the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (2LBCF) declares:
The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. (14.1)
Notice the assertion that saving faith is "the work of the Spirit of Christ in their [i.e. the elects'] hearts. The Abstract of Principles, used by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, similarly declares, "[Faith] is wrought by the Holy Spirit." In 2LBCF the Scripture proof specifically tied to the doctrine that faith is a work of the Spirit is Ephesians 2:8, which reads, "For by grace you are saved through faith, and this not from yourselves, [it is] God's gift."

Sometimes, people who think that "faith" must originate in Man's 'free-will' object to using Ephesians 2:8 as a proof that faith is a gift. They point out that "faith" in the Greek is a feminine noun, whereas the pronoun "this" in the Greek is neuter. HOWEVER: because there is NO neuter antecedent for "this" in the Greek text, then it is best to see "this" as referring to "grace" (a feminine noun), "saved" (a masculine participle), and "faith" (a feminine noun) taken together. The singular pronoun "this" is used because "grace," "saved," and "faith" are seen as one experience of salvation enjoyed by the elect. As C.H. Spurgeon (who himself held to the 2LBCF) wrote,  salvation is All of Grace.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

A Note on the Contemporary Massacre of the Innocents

Imagine that you gained certain information concerning a building in your town in which 70 people were going to be killed this week. Your first response might be to call the police, to let them know of the impending massacre. But imagine that the police refused to do anything about the situation. Furthermore, imagine that a law was passed that (in effect) asserted the people being killed have no right to life.

Faced with this situation, what would you do?

Here in Louisville, at the corner of 2nd and Market, approximately 70 to 100 abortions will be performed this week; 70 to 100 pre-born children will be torn apart and evacuated from their mothers’ wombs.

What should Christians and churches do in light of this situation?

First, it must be strongly asserted that violence is NOT an option for Christians. Abortion is an instance of government-sanctioned murder, and Christians have clear examples from the Bible about how we are to act in the face of government-sanctioned murder:

- When Jesus was being taken to be murdered by the authorities, and He commanded Peter to put away his sword rather than to fight;
- When Peter was arrested soon after the killing of James, and the Church responded not by trying to mount a military-style rescue mission, rather they turn to earnest prayer on his behalf (see Acts 12).

Historically, Christians have followed these examples responding to government sanctioned killing (such as the killing that made martyrs of countless Christians or the gladiator games) through preaching, protest and prayer, but they did not turn to violence to stop violence.

So while the actions of those who kill abortion doctors or bomb abortion clinics may SEEM to make sense from a utilitarian or pragmatic perspective (kill one person or a few people to save, potentially, a great multitude of people), this is NOT the way that Christians are to think.

Second, we should respond to the evil of abortion exactly as the Church has always responded to government-sanctioned murder. We should pray, proclaim the gospel, persuade others to repent, and protest. We should take the message of truth to where it most needs to be heard.

[In March 2011, Tray Earnhart, who was then pastor of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, asked me to speak to our congregation concerning the work done every Saturday morning in front of the abortion clinic here in Louisville; the above thoughts are an excerpt of what I said on that occasion.]

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jonathan Edwards on Original Sin

Notes from The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended:

(1.1.1)
  • Original sin defined:
    • "the innate depravity of the heart;"
    • the imputation of Adam's sin. 
  • Edwards's first method of argument is to demonstrate by example that all mankind is under the effects of sin (arguing from the effects of sin to the cause of those effects: i.e., original sin). Passages proving universal sinfulness include: 
    • 1Kin 8:46b, "there is no man that sinneth not;
    • Ecc 7:20, “There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not;”
    • 1 John 1:8, 10, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us... If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us;"
    • Jas 3:2a, "For in many things we offend all.
  • Universal guilt: having demonstrated the universal sinfulness of humankind from Scripture, Edwards next shows that “all sin deserves and justly exposes [sinners] to everlasting destruction, under the wrath and curse of God.”
    • Scripture proof:
      • To prove universal guilt from Scripture, Edwards quotes Gal 3:10, 22, Rom 4:14, and 2 Cor 3:6, 7, 9.
      • The clearest text from this list [in my opinion] may be Gal 3:10b, 22, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them… the Scripture hath concluded, or shut up, all under sin.”
      • From these passages Edwards concludes: “So that here we are plainly taught, both that everyone of mankind is a sinner, and that every sinner is under the curse of God.”
    • Systematic proof:
      • the immutable character of the moral law
      • God’s requirement of perfect obedience.
  • Edwards concludes this section: “That mankind are all naturally in such a state… that they universally are the subjects of that guilt and sinfulness, which is, in effect, their utter and eternal ruin, being cast wholly out of the favor of God, and subjected to his everlasting wrath and curse.
(1.1.2)
  • Edwards asserts that proof of universal sinfulness and universal guilt provide evidence for a universal natural tendency to sin.
  • Several arguments by analogy are given; for example, if a person were to cast dice repeatedly and always get the same number, then it would be reasonable to assume that there was something in the nature of the dice that caused them to tend toward that number.
  • Those who seek to argue against the idea of a universal natural tendency to sin end up using language that assumes such a tendency anyway.
  • It is not sufficient to argue that people sin due to external circumstances rather than a natural tendency; the circumstances of this world may be so corrupt that people everywhere, who would otherwise be naturally good if they were not in this corrupt world, fall into sin. But sinfulness is characterized by a wrong relationship of people to the world in which God placed them, and if they consistently fall into sin, then they must be thought of as having a naturally tendency to sin.
(1.1.3)
  • Man has an unfailing propensity to moral evil.
  • Man's propensity to evil is offensive to God, bringing upon Man His wrath and curse.
  • Due to God's infinite worth, there is "infinite demerit in all sin against God."
  • Edwards cites the parable from the end of Matt 18 to demonstrate our great offense against God.
  • It is objected that our good deeds may outweigh our bad deeds. Edwards answers this objection through means of analogies: if a servant, otherwise faithful, spits in his master's face only once, he is not considered faithful or exempt from punishment; if a wife commits adultery once, she is considered an adulteress, regardless of how well she may perform all her other duties.
(1.1.4)
  • People, universally, immediately commit sin as soon as they are able to do so.
  • As proof for this the above assertion Edwards cites several passages of Scripture that would be absurd if the assertion were untrue, such as "all have sinned" and "by the deeds of the Law no flesh can be justified."
  • Further scriptural proof of the universality of sin: 1 John 1:8-10, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and the truth is not in us.”
  • The depraved disposition of Man's nature appears as an effectual propensity to immediate and continual sinning.
  • The universality of sin, even among Christians, is again demonstrated by the fact that the Bible teaches that all of God's children are in need of discipline: Heb 12:6-8.
(1.1.5)
  • The depravity of nature is demonstrated in that there will always appear much more sin than righteousness through the course of a man's life.
  • That sin far outweighs righteousness in each man's life is evident as people are evaluated in light of God's law, and sins both of commission and omission are taken into account.
  • No man loves God half as much as he ought.
(1.1.6)

The corruption of Man’s nature appears by its stupidity in regards to those things regarding his main duty and chief interest.
I. Idolatry
            A. Idolatry is evidence of great folly (Jer 2:12-13)
B. People turn to idolatry due to the evil propensity of their hearts (Rom 1:28)
C. People everywhere have sufficient light in creation that their idolatry is without excuse (Rom 1:19-21)
D. That people turn to idolatry rather than God, and thus deprive themselves of living out the reason for which Man was created— deprive themselves of true happiness— is proof of the depravity of human nature.
II. Disregard for Eternal Things
A. People exercise great care in ordering their worldly affairs, but give little thought to eternal matters.
B. One reason people should have greater concern for eternal matters than for worldly matters is that in worldly matters (of business, etc.) we have no “excellent and perfect rules” whereas in eternal matters the Word of God provides “perfect and infinite wisdom itself.”
(1.1.7)

I. The corruption of Man's nature is demonstrated in the fact that "the greater part of mankind, in all ages, have been [indisputably] wicked men."

II. Even if someone wishes to assert that people are not sufficient to judge whether the above statement is true, "yet doubtless God is sufficient, and his judgment, often declared in his Word, determines the matter."
A. Mat. 7:13, 14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it.”
B. Luke 13:23, 24, “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few saved? And he said unto them, 'Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.'”
C. Matt 22:14, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
D. Edwards, "...how very few indeed, must persons of [righteous] character be, compared with the whole world, appears by the representations often made of them as distinguished from the world; in which they are spoken of as called and chosen out of the world, redeemed from the earth, redeemed from among men; as being those that are of God, while the whole world lieth in wickedness and the like."


III. Additional Testimony to the General Wickedness of Mankind from the Old Testament:
A. Pro. 20:6, “Most men will proclaim every man his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?”
B. Ecc. 7:27-29, "Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes." [ESV]
C. Ecc. 9:3, “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil; and madness is in their heart while they live; and after that they go to the dead.”
D. The general wickedness of mankind is seen in the history of the nations recorded in the Old Testament and particularly in the history of God's chosen nation, Israel.

IV. The curruption of Man's nature is seen due to the general wickedness of mankind, but also due to the degree of wickedness to which mankind has attained.
A. An observation from nature: what other creature has been so destructive as Man? What other creature harms its own kind to the degree that men harm other men?
B. Conclusion: "It would be strange indeed, that this should be the state of mankind... if men, as they come into the world, are in their nature innocent and harmless, undepraved, and perfectly free from all evil propensities."

(1.1.8)

The natural depravity of humankind [after the Fall] appears, in that there has been so little good effect that has come about as a result of the manifold and great means used to promote virtue in the world.

I. Examples of Notable Events in Early History, Which Should Have Promoted Virtue, But Failed, as the World Fell Into Great Vice:
A. God's Punishment of Adam, Along With the Testimony of Adam
B. Noah's Building the Ark
C. The Decreased Life-Span After the Great Deluge
D. The Election of Abraham's Family, Which Became the Nation of Israel
E. A Further Decrease of Man's Life-Span

II. God's Special Work in the Nation of Israel, Which Should Have Promoted a Universal Quest for Virtue:
A. God's work in the nation of Israel was intended to benefit all nations.
B. God placed Israel in the midst of the nations, that Israel might be noticed by all.
C. Egypt, the mightiest nation of its time, certainly received a testimony of God's power, and the great wonders God did against Israel's enemies would/should have been noticed by other nations as well.
D. Solomon's wisdom was so famous that people from other nations came to converse with him, and the temple Solomon built was "exceeding magnificent, that it might be of fame and glory throughout all lands" (1 Chr 22:5).
E. The prophecies of the exiled Israelites and the wonders done by God on their behalf should have convinced the nations to submit to God and pursue virtue.

III. The Effects of the Events/Works Discussed Above:
A. "Instead of a reformation, or any appearance or prospect of it, the heathen world in general rather grew worse."
B. "It may be observed here in general, that the Jews, though so vastly distinguished with advantages, means, and motives to holiness, yet are represented, from time to time, as more wicked in the sight of God, than the very worst of the heathen."
C. In the gospel dispensation:
1. Most have rejected the message of Christ outright;
2. Of professing Christians, many have been "the most wicked, lewd, bloody, and treacherous of all mankind"
D. The only reasonable explanation of the above facts is that there is an evil propensity inherent in Man's fallen nature.
If there were a piece of ground which abounded with briers and thorns, or some poisonous plant, and all mankind had used their endeavors, for a thousand years together, to suppress that evil growth — and to bring that ground by manure and cultivation, planting and sowing, to produce better fruit, all in vain; [and the ground were still] overrun with the same noxious growth — [would it not] be a proof, that such a produce was agreeable to the nature of that soil[?] ... [In like manner,] wickedness is a produce agreeable to the nature of the field of the world of mankind.
(1.1.9)

I. Isn't it an error to argue from the general sins of mankind that Man has a corrupted nature? (Because Adam sinned, yet we do not infer from this sin that he had a corrupt nature that led him to sin.)

A. Edwards objects that it is not because a person sins once, but because a person sins "constantly" that we infer that a person is naturally a sinner. If generation after generation of a certain kind of tree bears ill-tasting fruit, no matter where or in what condition trees of that kind are planted, then we properly infer that it is natural for the tree to produce ill-tasting fruit.

B. Edwards concludes, from the previous discussion:
The general continued wickedness of mankind, against such means and motives [i.e. against barriers to sin, such as conscience and the Law, and such reasons NOT to sin, as previously discussed], proves each of these things, viz. that the cause [for people sinning] is fixed, and that the fixed cause is internal in man’s nature, and also that it is very powerful.  It proves, that the cause is fixed, because the effect is so abiding, through so many changes. It proves that the fixed cause is internal, because the circumstances are so various — including a variety of means and motives — and they are such circumstances as cannot possibly cause the effect, being most opposite to it in their tendency. And it proves the greatness of the internal cause; or that the propensity is powerful; because the means which have opposed its influence, have been so great, and yet have been statedly overcome.
II. Can 'free-will' reasonably account for the "general and great" "wickedness of the world"?

A. No, because:
  1. "If their wills are in the first place as free to good as to evil, what is it to be ascribed to, that the world of mankind, consisting of so many millions, in so many successive generations, without consultation, all agree to exercise their freedom in favor of evil?"
  2. "If the cause be indifferent, why is not the effect in some measure indifferent?"
B. Consider also: If the will is "free" in the sense that it is not corrupted by original sin-if there is no inherent corruption of nature due to Adam's fall-how is it that every person chooses to commit sin repeatedly?
How comes it to pass, that the free will of mankind has been determined to evil, in like manner before the flood and after the flood; under the law and under the gospel; among both Jews and Gentiles, under the Old Testament, and since then, among Christians, Jews, Mahometans; among papists and Protestants... and on every side of the globe; in greatest cities and obscurest villages; in palaces and in huts, wigwams, and cells under ground?
III. May it be said that the spiritual/moral corruption of mankind comes about due to bad example rather than due to a depraved nature? No, because:

A. "If mankind are naturally no more inclined to evil than good, then how come there to be so many more bad examples than good ones, in all ages?" Several [relatively] good examples have been given through history: in Adam [who, it is assumed, repented after his fall], in Noah, in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the church, and in the early Protestants, etc., yet the great mass of humanity has not followed these good examples, but rather the negative examples; something must account for this. "So prone have mankind always proved themselves to degeneracy and backsliding, that it shows plainly their natural propensity."

B. Mankind is so universally sinful even though we have the greatest example of virtue in the Lord Jesus. Christ is most perfectly suited to be our example, as people generally follow the example of one like them, one who is a friend, one who is a parent, one who is a valiant prince, one from who they have great benefits, etc., and He has fulfilled all of these roles in various ways. "Surely if it were not for an extreme corruption of the human heart, such an example would have that strong influence on it," but we see, instead, universal evil.

C. "The influence of bad example, without corruption of nature, will not account for children universally committing sin as soon as capable of it; which, I think, is a fact that has been made evident by the Scripture. It will not account for [sin] in the children of eminently pious parents; the first example set in their view being very good; which was especially the case of many children in Christian families in the apostolic days, when the apostle John supposes that every individual person had sin to repent of, and confess to God."

D. Without a corrupt nature, evil examples and instruction would only prove temptations to sin, but not guarantee sin in each new generation; without a corrupt nature, we would expect that some generation, utilizing 'free-will,' would have turned their back on evil examples and established future generations following their good examples.

IV. Might the "general prevalence of wickedness" be due, not to original sin, but to the fact that our desires and emotions develop before our faculty of reason?

A. The above question/objection/"evasion" indicates a fact of nature but gives no cause as to why human nature may be understood in this way. God could have ordered human development differently.

B. The question [that the doctrine of original sin answers] is why things are [dis]ordered the way that they are.

V. Might our inclinations to sin be due, not to a corrupt nature, but to the fact that God has designed this world to be a place of testing (internal as well as external)?

A. It is the "prevailing tendency to [a] state of general wickedness and ruin" that mankind possesses, as demonstrated by the previous examination of Scripture and history, that must be explained rather than simply inclinations to sin.

B. If inclinations to sin are due to the fact that God has designed this world to be a place of testing in order that, having overcome various tests, His creatures are confirmed in virtue, then it appears that this design has led instead to the opposite result: that people have been confirmed in "general, eternal infamy and ruin, in all generations."

(1.2) UNIVERSAL MORTALITY PROVES ORIGINAL SIN; PARTICULARLY THE DEATH OF INFANTS, WITH ITS VARIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES.

I. "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."

II. "It is manifest, that mankind were not originally subjected to this calamity [i.e., death]."

III. "Death is spoken of in Scripture as the chief of calamities, the most extreme and terrible of all natural evils in this world."

IV. "Calamities... are spoken of as manifest indications of God’s great displeasure for the sinfulness of the subject;"

V. If death be brought on mankind only as a benefit... to mortify or moderate their carnal appetites and affections, wean them from the world, excite them to sober reflections, and lead them to the fear and obedience of God, etc. — is it not strange that it should fall so heavily on infants?"

VI. The Bible clearly presents death as an enemy.

(2.1.1)

I. As the nature of the tree determines the fruit of the tree, the virtue of specific acts are determined by whether a person has a "virtuous disposition."

II. A proper understanding of the freedom of the will cannot include the notion that the will is possessed of a "self-determining power" that is able to act contrary to nature, for the decisions that people make flow from their nature.

III. The specific question: were our first parents "created in a state of moral rectitude and holiness"?
A. Yes, because there is no middle ground between righteousness and sin.
B. "Love is the fulfilling of the law," therefore God must have created Adam with love for Him since Adam was in a state of righteousness (rather than sin) from his creation to his first sin.
C. Neutrality is not possible, as seen in the fact that we acknowledge ingratitude as sin.
D. "Human nature must have been created with some dispositions:" dispositions to desire some things and avoid others, otherwise choice would be impossible; if human nature had "concreated dispositions at all, they must be either right or wrong," and it is evident there can be no medium between these."

IV. The idea that Adam was created with a neutral, rather than a virtuous, disposition is contrary to the biblical presentation.
A. In his orignal state, Man was obviously the object of great expressions of God's favor.
B. Without a righteous disposition, the comforts of Eden would have been themselves enticements to forget God.
C. Ecclesiates 7:29 plainly declares that "God made Man upright."

(2.1.2)

I. “Death,” in addition to “loss of life,” indicates “perfect, perpetual, and hopeless misery, as well as “total, confirmed wickedness.”

II. “[T]he death which was to come on Adam, as the punishment of his disobedience, was opposed to that life, which he would have had as the reward of his obedience in case he had not sinned.” Therefore, just as the life promised to Adam for obedience was an eternal life, the death promised to Adam for disobedience is an eternal death.

III. The Bible says that the righteous, those who believe in Jesus, shall never die (see Eze 18:21, John 11:26 to give but two of the many examples Edwards cites to prove his point), yet we all die; therefore, death as a punishment for unrighteousness and unbelief must signify something beyond cessation of physical life.

IV. The same word “death” can be used for both physical and spiritual death, as seen by the Hebrew words for “heart,” “breath/spirit/soul,” and “peace,” which all clearly have physical, as well as spiritual, signification.

(2.1.3) Did God, in Adam, deal with mankind in general, specifically regarding the consequences of sin?

I. Though God does not explicitly say, in His warning to Adam concerning the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that Adam's posterity are included in the threat of death, it should be noted "that there is scarcely one word that we have an account of, which God ever said to Adam or Eve, but what does manifestly include their posterity in the meaning and design of it."
A.
 The commands and blessings in Geneis 1:28-29 obviously regard the whole human race.
B. God's recorded intention for creating Man in Genesis 1:26 obviously regards the whole human race.
C. The curse upon Man recorded in Genesis 3:19 obviously regards the whole human race.
D. If the curse pronounced upon Man-the curse that is a consequence for sin-regards the whole human race, then we must assume that the warning against sin regarded the whole human race.
E. That Adam understood God's words to him to apply to his posterity as well is indicated by his naming the Woman Eve (Gen 3:20), in the hope of the Tempter being defeated by her seed, as God had indicated.

II. OBJECTION: Adam could not have understood the threat of death as the consequence of his sin to refer to his posterity as well-- for the threat seems to preclude Adam having any descendents-- since God seems to say that Adam will die on the day he eats of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.A. The phrase, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," is not [primarily] intended to indicate that God would kill Adam within 24 hours of eating the fruit, but rather:
1. This phrase signifies "real connexion between the sin and the punishment." [Edwards seeks to prove this assertion through an appeal to Eze 33:12-13.]
2. This phrase signifies that "Adam should be exposed to death by one transgression." [Edwards seeks to prove this assertion through an appeal to 1 Kings 2:37.]
B. The phrase, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," does not indicate "that God obliged himself to execute the punishment in its utmost extent on that day," but rather:
1. Adam died spiritually in the moment he sinned, and he began to die physically.
2. Adam "immediately fell under the curse of the law, and condemnation to eternal perdition."

(2.2) Old Testament Proof for Original Sin

I. Wickedness is often spoken of in Scripture as a thing "belonging to the race of mankind, and as if it were a property of the species."
A. Scripture Proofs:
1. Psalm 14:2-3.
2. Psalm 52:2-3.
B. Defense:
1. Concession: the psalmist also writes of the "righteous."
2. However, it is manifest that wickedness is spoken of as concerning Man's natural state, and there is no doubt that unrighteous men may be changed by God's grace.

II. Wickedness is spoken of as belonging "to men, as of the human race, as sons of men."
A. Some Examples:
1. Psalm 4:2.
2. Psalm 57:4.
3. Psalm 58:1-2.
4. Proverbs 21:8.
5. Jeremiah 17:9.
B. Defense:
1. It is objected that the above passages refer only to notorious sinners.
2. However, even if the above objection is correct, two questions remain:
a. Why does Scripture deem it fit to categorize notorious sinners in such general terms as "Man" or "sons of men"?
b. Why are there no verses that speak of Man in general in terms that would make the reader think that humankind is neutral or righteous? (i.e., there is no verse that states, "The heart of man is right and pure," or, "the Lord looked down from heaven on the sons of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and did seek after God; and they were all right, altogether pure, there was none inclined to do wickedness, no, not one."]

III. [Related to the above points, Edwards explores the way that the New Testament considers the "world" to be not neutral or righteous, but wicked: Edwards gives numerous quotes from John's writing to this effect.]

IV. Additional Proofs:

A. Man is seen to be wicked from childhood: Proverbs 22:15Genesis 8:21.
B. Man is seen to be wicked from birth (or even conception!): Job 15:14-16Psalm 51:5Psalm 58:3.

(2.3.1) Observations on John 3:6 in connection with some other passages in the New Testament.

I. The "flesh" and "spirit"-and being "carnally minded" versus being "spiritually minded"-are consistently set in opposition by the apostles.

II. The "flesh" is continually written of as that which is "perfectly contrary to God and His law."

III. Comparison of passages demonstrates that "flesh" and "sinful flesh" are used interchangeably.

IV. "Flesh," as the term is used by the apostles, "is something very evil in its nature, and an irreconcilable enemy to all goodness."  

V. "Spirit" is used to indicate "a new, divine, and holy nature."

VI. "Spiritual" is used to indicate "truly virtuous and holy," whereas "fleshly" is used to indicate "sinful."

VII. "[P]ride of heart is the [chief] effect or operation of the flesh."

VIII. "The word 'flesh' is often used in both the Old and the New Testament to refer to signify mankind in their present state."

IX. "[W]hat is born in the first birth of man" is a creature utterly lacking in spiritual life, "without anything divine in him." 

X. "[M]en by nature are... wholly corrupt, without any good thing."

XI. The apostle uses the terms "carnal" and "natural" interchangeably."

XII. The natural man is "totally corrupt, wholly a stranger and enemy to true virtue or holiness."

(2.3.2) Observations on Romans 3:9-24.

I. Scriptures represent "all mankind as wicked in their first state, before they are made partakers of Christ's redemption," thus mankind is wicked by nature.

II. Universal Terms in Rom 3:9-24
A. The Wickedness of the Gentiles
B. The Wickedness of the Jews

III. Answers to Objections
A. If universality is denied, then the Apostle's conclusion is unsupported by his argument.
B. No one denied that there were a great many wicked people in Israel's history; if universality of wickedness is not the Apostle's point, then it leaves him arguing against no one.
C. This universal natural wickedness cannot be understood as collective, allowing for numerous individual exceptions, because:
1. Such an understanding would do violence to the language utilized by the Apostle:
a. There is no other passage in Scripture containing such a multitude of phrases indicating a universal, extensive reality (and if these phrases do not indicate a universal, extensive reality, what language could be utilized to communicate this concept?);
b. "Every mouth," "not one," and other phrases are designed specifically to indicate individuals within groups; "every mouth" in particular cannot be understood to speak only to a collective "mouth" belonging to the Gentiles and the Jews, at least not if one understands there to be numerous exceptions among these two groups;
2. If wickedness is only understood in a collective sense, then (in accordance with how the terms are used in this passage) justification must also be understood in a collective sense, but justification is seen as personal (note especially the discussion of justification in Rom 4:5-8 and the personal, individual nature of the OT texts cited by the Apostle in Rom 3-4).

IV. Rom 3:9-24 Presents Natural Depravity as Total
A. "All mankind are by nature corrupt."
B. "Everyone is altogether corrupt."
C. "They are in every part corrupt to an exceeding degree."
1. Total corruption is indicated through the mention of various body parts.
2. Total corruption is indicated through denying that natural Man does any good or has any spiritual knowledge.
3. The forcefulness of the language is chosen to indicate the extreme and desperate wickedness of the natural Man's heart.

(2.3.3) Observations on Rom. 5:6-10 and Eph. 2:3 with the context, and Rom. 7.


I. Some say that when Scripture indicates that people are "under wrath," etc., it is only referring to the Gentiles collectively; in answer to this, we must consider:
A. The gospel is calculated to overthrow both pride and distinction between persons.
B. Christ reproved the Pharisees for failing to recognize that they themselves were sinners.
1. He opposed the Pharisees in His parables.
2. He opposed the Pharisees in His instructions to His disciples.
3. He opposed the Pharisees in His words to Nicodemus about the necessity of the new birth.
C. Before the epistles were written, the apostles were taught not to call the Gentiles unclean.
D. The Apostle Paul in particular sought to remove the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles.
E. The Apostle Paul was also the one who strove most mightily to prove that both Jews and Gentiles are all sinners.
1. The Law, far from making the Jews more righteous, made them more culpable for their sin.
2. Justification by faith in Christ proves that the Jews, as much as the Gentiles, were under sin.
F. It is clear that by "sinners" the Apostle does not mean to indicate "Gentiles," but those who are "morally evil."
G. It is especially clear that "sinners" does not mean "Gentiles" because Paul identifies himself with the term: "while WE were sinners."
1. An objection: Paul means "Gentiles" when he says "WE sinners" because he is the apostle to the Gentiles; but this would be as absurd as:
a. A father saying "we children" to his children;
b. A doctor saying "we sick people" if we were not sick.
2. An objection: Peter distinguishes the sins of the Gentiles (1 Pet 4:3); answer: with this language, Peter simply indicates particular kinds of sins for which the pagan nations are notorious.

II. "By nature" (cf. Eph 2:3)
A. The word in its original signification refers to the begetting of children.
B. The word in this phrase is actually grammatically parallel to the word "children" in the previous phrase.
C. This phrase stands as a contrast to the Jews' perception of themselves as the "children of Abraham" and as a comparison to the Jews' notion of the Gentiles as sinners by nature.
D. "By nature" is contrasted with "by grace."

(2.4.1)

I. "Death" in Romans 5:12 ff. indicates more than just physical death.

A. "Death" in this passage is contrasted with "eternal life" (Rom 5:20).

B. "Death" refers to "the proper wages and punishment of sin, including death temporalspiritual, and eternal."

C. "Death" may sometimes be discussed with particular emphasis on one aspect (physical or spiritual), but this does not change the fact that "death" refers to all these aspects. (Edwards gives the example of the phrases "Peter was naked" and "Peter was grieved;" the first phrase emphasizes something about Peter's body, and the second something about Peter's soul, but "Peter" still refers to the whole man: body and soul.)

II. Adam's sin impacted not only himself, but all mankind.

A. Up to this point [Romans 5] in the text, the Apostle has been striving to show that the entirity of both the Jews and Gentiles are exposed to death and condemnation, and his discussion of Adam is meant to begin providing an explanation for why this state of universal death and condemnation exists.

B. "By one man sin entered into the world" MUST mean more than that Adam was the first sinner, for technically Eve was the first to commit transgression.

III. Romans 5 clearly establishes Adam's sin as the cause for death coming to all of mankind.

(2.4.2)

I. Romans 5:12 ff. indicates universal sinfulness.

A. The Gentiles had been reared in complete ignorance of their sinfulness; the Jews had been reared in the prideful misconception that they were naturally holy.

B. Paul had been striving in previous chapters to take the Jews' eyes off of their father Abraham (considered as righteous) so that they might contemplate the state of their father Adam (considered as fallen).

II. From the beginning of Romans, Paul demonstrates the greatness of God's grace by:

A. Indicating the "universal corruption and misery of mankind;"

B. Indicating the greatness of the benefits that believers receive and the greatness of the glory for which we hope.

III. From the beginning of Romans, Paul demonstrates the greatness of the redemption and righteousness of Christ.

IV. We must view Romans 5:12ff. in context of the passages previous to and following it.

V. In passages previous to Romans 5:12ff., Paul also addresses the error that attributed justification to law-keeping: particularly to keeping the law of circumcision.

VI. Paul's main point in this first part of Romans is that "sin and guilt, and just exposedness to death and ruin, came into the world by Adam’s sin; as righteousness, justification, and a title to eternal life come by Christ."

VII. "[T]he Jews had always been taught, that death (which began in the destruction of the body, and of this present life) was the proper punishment of sin."

VIII. Paul sought to convince the Jews of two facts concering the law:

A. The law was never intended to be the method by which men were justified.

B. The law of Moses "was not the highest and universal rule or law, by which mankind in general, and particularly the heathen world, were condemned."

IX. Paul demonstrates that we are all-Jews and Gentiles alike-in a sinful and miserable state by:

A. Demonstrating that "it is our natural relation to Adam, and not to Abraham, which determines our native moral state;"

B. Demonstrating that there is a "higher, more ancient, and universal law" than the law of Moses, under which all mankind stands condemned.

X. Edwards asserts that the ancients understood the phrase, "them who have not sinned after the  similitude of Adam’s transgression," referred to infants.

A. The Bible teaches two ways of being "like Adam:"
1. Being begotten or born in his image or likeness (Gen 5:3)
2. Trangressing God's covenant or law like him (Hos 6:7)

B. "Infants have the former similitude, but not the latter."

XI. Edwards' exposition of Romans 5:12-14

A. God established a "law of works" with Adam; Adam broke this law, thereby all became sinners in God's sight: exposed to final destruction.

B. "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."

C. All men are "reckoned as sinners" "through guilt and corruption derived from Adam" "not excepting even infants."

XII. "The doctrine of original sin is not only here [in Rom 5:12ff.] taught, but most plainly, explicitly, and abundantly taught."

XIII. "Sin" is defined in Romans 5:12ff. in terms of offense, transgression, and disobedience, and it is this sin that we all have through Adam.

XIV.  "[T]he doctrine of the corruption of nature, as derived from Adam, and also the imputation of his first sin, are both clearly taught in it [Rom 5:12ff.].

(3.1) THE EVIDENCE OF ORIGINAL SIN, FROM THE NATURE OF  REDEMPTION, IN THE PROCUREMENT OF IT


I. The consistent testimony of Scripture is that all whom Christ came to redeem are sinners.

A. Are specifically said to be sinners in regard to His redemption (Matt 1:21; 1 Tim 1:15; 1 John 4:9-10; Gal 3:22).

B. The doctrine of sacrifices is indicative that all are sinners; sacrifices, which were types of Christ were given due to the peoples' need for remission.

II. Scripture presents the fruit of God's love as the redemption by Christ of those who deserve destruction (John 3:16; 5:24).

III. A denial of Original Sin would logically lead to the conclusion that Christ by His death not only "redeems" many who are not sinners (i.e., those who die in infancy), but that He also redeems  many who are subject to no calamity of any kind.

A. Without the doctrine of Original Sin, any hardship-including death-that infants suffer cannot be explained as a calamity from which we need salvation.

B. Mortality and the hardships associated with mortality are consistently presented in Scripture as that from which we need salvation.

IV. The logical consequences concerning infants in regard to a denial of Original Sin are equally relevant concerning adults.

A. Without Original Sin, people would not need Christ to accomplish salvation, for they would be sufficient in their own power to do that which God requires.

B. If we have sufficient power in ourselves to do that which God requires, then-according to the Apostle-Christ died in vain (Gal 2:21).

C. Christ's death cannot be thought of as necessary to deliver men from under the dominion of their own evil appetites and passions, which they placed themselves under by their own folly.
1. Either they can extricate themselves from the sway of their evil appetites and passions, or the same objections that were brought against the Doctrine of Original Sin ay be brought against this idea of unconquerable sin.
2. Specifically, those who argue against Original Sin often say that "a necessary evil can be no moral evil;" any sin from which we absolutely need a Savior, therefore, can be no moral evil, and this teaching would undermine the need for salvation through Christ.

D. If another means could have secured our salvation, then God would have provided that other means than the death of His Son.

V. In line with the common objection to Original Sin, Christ's work does not only NOT redeem sinners, but His work also does NOT do any good for people because-according to this understanding-only that which is accomplished by "our own will, choice, and design" carries moral weight.

(3.2) THE EVIDENCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN FROM WHAT THE  SCRIPTURE TEACHES OF THE APPLICATION OF REDEMPTION (specifically in regards to regeneration)

I. Regeneration = Repentance; Conversion

A. Scripture uses "repentance" and "conversion" synonymously in Acts 3:19.

B. The distinction between "regeneration" on the one hand, and "repentance" or "conversion" on the other, is that "regeneration" is passive, while "repentance" or "conversion" is active.

C. "The change of mind in repentance is that in which saving faith is attained."

D. "By the change men undergo in conversion, they become as little children [Matt 18:3]... and so they do by regeneration."

II. "The change which a man undergoes when born again, and in his repentance and  conversion, is the same that the scripture calls the CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART."

A. "Regeneration [or circumcision of the heart] is that whereby men come to have the character of true Christians;" (Rom 2:28-29)

B. "That circumcision of the heart, is the same with conversion, or turning from sin to  God, is evident by Jer 4:1-4" (also: Deut 10:16; Lev 26:41)

C. As circumcision of the heart was, in the Old Testament, signified by external circumcision; "[t]he change effected in regeneration, repentance, and conversion, is signified by  baptism."

III. "This inward change, called regeneration, and circumcision of the heart, which is  wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same [as] spiritual RESURRECTION" (Col 2:11; Rom 6:3-5)

A. Note how the second Psalm is quoted in Acts 13:33, in which the Son's being "begotten" is applied to the resurrection.

B. In Colossians 1:18 Christ is called the firstborn from the dead.

C. In Revelation 1:5 Christ is called the first begotten of the dead.

D. "The saints, in their conversion or spiritual  resurrection, are risen with Christ, and are begotten and born with him." (1 Pet 1:3)

E. Therefore, "it is abundantly plain, that the spiritual  resurrection spoken of in Scripture, by which the saints are brought to a new divine life,  is the same with that being born again, which Christ says is necessary for everyone, in  order to his seeing the kingdom of God."

IV. "This change, of which men are the subjects, when they are born again, and  circumcised in heart, when they repent, and are converted, and spiritually raised from  the dead, is the same change which is meant when the Scripture speaks of making the  HEART and SPIRIT NEW, or giving a new heart and spirit."

A. The change examined above is explicitly said to be necessary for salvation.

B. When Nicodemus expresses wonder at hearing the necessity of the new birth, Jesus reproves him, evidently on the basis of prophecies such as those found in Ezekiel 11:19; 36:25-27.

V. "It is abundantly manifest, that being born again, spiritually rising from the dead  to newness of life, receiving a new heart, and being renewed in the spirit of the mind, are  the same thing with that which is called putting off the OLD MAN, and putting on the  NEW MAN."

A. "When Christ speaks of being born again, two births are supposed: a first and a  second, an OLD birth and a NEW one: and the thing born is called man."

B. "[W]hat the Scripture says of the spiritual resurrection of the  Christian convert [is] equivalent and of the very same import with putting off the old man,  and putting on the new man." (Rom 6:4-6)

C. "[S]piritual circumcision, and spiritual baptism, and the  spiritual resurrection, are all the same with putting off the old man, and putting on the  new man." (Col 2:11-12; Rom 6:6)

D. "[S]piritual circumcision, and spiritual baptism, and the  spiritual resurrection, are all the same with putting off the old man, and putting on the  new man." (Eph 4:22-24)

E. By the entire preceding consideration, it is evident that Scripture speaks of "putting off the old man and putting on the new man," etc., in individual- not just in collective- terms.

VI. "I observe once more, it is very apparent, that being born again, and spiritually  raised from death to a state of new existence and life, having a new heart created in us,  being renewed in the spirit of our mind, and being the subjects of that change by which  we put off the old man, and put on the new man is the same thing with that which in  Scripture is calledbeing CREATED ANEW, or made NEW CREATURES."

VII. Conclusions:

A. "[I]t is a truth of the utmost certainty, with respect to every man born of the  race of Adam, by ordinary generation, that unless he be born again, he cannot see the  kingdom of God."
1. "This is true, not only of the heathen, but of them that are born of the  professing people of God, as Nicodemus, and the Jews, and every man born of the flesh."
2. "This is most manifest by Christ’s discourse in John 3:3-11."
3. "So it is plain by 2 Cor. 5:17,  That every man who is in Christ, is a NEW CREATURE."

B. "[I]t is most  certain with respect to every one of the human race, that he can never have any interest  in Christ, or see the kingdom of God, unless he be the subject of that CHANGE in the  temper and disposition of his heart, which is made in repentance and conversion,  circumcision of heart, spiritual baptism, dying to sin, and rising to a new and holy life;  and unless he has the old heart taken away, and a new heart and spirit given, and puts  off the old man, and puts on the new man, and old things are passed away, and all things  made new."

C. Plainly implied in what Scripture teaches concerning the absolute need for a radical change is the conclusion that "every man is born into the world  in a state of moral pollution."
1. "SPIRITUAL BAPTISM is a cleansing from moral filthiness (Eze. 36:25 compared with Acts 11:16 and John 3:5)."
2. "NEW BIRTH is a change from a state of wickedness (Tit. 3:3-5); men are spoken of as purified in their regeneration (1 Pet. 1:22, 23; see also 1 John 2:29  and 3:1, 3)."
3. By the terms "repentance" and "conversion," it is evident that "every man in his first or natural state is a sinner."
4. By the terms "new heart" and "new spirit," it is evident that "every man in his original state has a heart of stone."
5.  By the term "new man" (in contrast to the "old man"), "it appears, that man’s nature, as in  his native state, is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts."
6. By the term "resurrection" (used of man's spiritual condition, as seen above), "it appears, that man’s nature, as in its  native state, is a body of sin, which must be destroyed, must diebe buried, and never  rise more."

(4.1) CONCERNING THE OBJECTION, THAT TO SUPPOSE MEN BORN IN SIN, WITHOUT THEIR CHOICE, OR ANY PREVIOUS ACT OF THEIR OWN, IS TO SUPPOSE WHAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE NATURE OF SIN
  • This objection to the doctrine of Original Sin is stated as follows: "[S]in must proceed from our own choice: and that if it does not, it being necessary to us, it cannot be sin, it cannot be our fault, or what we are to blame for: and therefore all our sin must be chargeable on our choice... the cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth, and which proceedeth from it."
  • Edwards demonstrates that this leads to an infinite regression of choices: but mustn't there be some first sinful choice, which would be made neither on the basis of a previous sinful choice nor a previous inclination? Through this line of logic, Edwards seeks to demonstrate that this objection to the doctrine of Original Sin is inconsistent.
(4.2) OBJECTION: The Doctrine of Original Sin would make God the author of depravity.
  • Edwards responds that one putting forth this objection must imagine that an "evil quality" is "infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man."
  • Edwards insists that the fallen nature instead lacks "positive good principles" (concerning the love of God) "leaving the common natural principles of self-love, natural appetite, etc. to themselves, without the government of superior divine principles," leading to all kinds of corruption.
  • Edwards asserts that according to original creation, God endued Man with two kinds of principles: natural (or fleshly) and supernatural (or spiritual). In the Fall, Man exalted the natural or fleshly over the supernatural or spiritual, and Man became thereafter governed by the lower, rather than the higher, appetites.
  • God's choice to give Man over to sinful desires does not make Him the author of sin. That God does indeed give Man over to sinful desires is plainly asserted by Paul in Romans 1:24.
  • God creates each soul in the womb, but He creates each soul (as each body) according to an "established course of nature:" "since Adam, the head of mankind, the root of that great tree with many branches springing from it, was deprived of original righteousness, the branches [also] come forth without it." The natural depravity of Man is not, however, owing to "an established course of nature" only, but also to "the just judgment of God." As a penal consequence for Man's rebellion, the Holy Spirit withdrew himself and His spiritual influences from Adam and his posterity.
  • The same line of reasoning that would conclude that God could not create sinful men (people continuing to be born in the line of Adam, lacking original righteousness) without compromising His holiness would equally yield the conclusion that God would not allow the continued existence of sinful men without compromising His holiness. If this second conclusion is rejected, there is no ground for the  first conclusion.
(4.3) OBJECTION: The imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity is unjust and unreasonable, as Adam and his posterity are not one and the same.

ANSWERS:

1. God dealt with Adam as a head and a root: as God dealt with the head, He deals with the whole body; as God dealt with the root, He deals with the whole tree. There exists a covenantal or constitutional unity between Adam and his posterity. Each of us are born with a corrupt disposition by which we give approval to Adam's first sin. It is undeniable that Adam and his posterity were/are alike exposed to the "calamities and sorrows of this life, to temporal death and eternal ruin," and therefore treated as one as to the consequences of sin.

2. By treating Adam and his posterity as one, the possibility arose for both Adam and his posterity to obtain "eternal happy life" if Adam had been confirmed in his obedience after the period of testing. If Adam and his posterity were treated as entirely separate, then each would likewise only attain salvation through perfect obedience. Yet Adam's posterity would have been subject to temptation from birth onward- not, as Adam, in the state of adulthood- therefore each of them would be more likely to bring God's curse upon himself/herself.

3. It is the will of God, the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all, which determines whether things are considered one. Note, for example, a person as an infant vs. that same person as a full-grown man: the person seems almost entirely distinct, yet we call him one with himself. What constitutes personal identity? One chief characteristic (following Locke) is unity of consciousness. But why should a person retain memory and self-consciousness from one moment to the next? It is only because God has constituted people in this manner. Every created object has a dependent existence. The previous moment of existence is entirely inadequate to explain the present existence of any created object: only the sustaining power of God, which may even be viewed as a fresh creation, communicating "like properties, relations, and circumstances" to particular items can account for the identity of anything from one moment to the next. The sustained existence of all things depends upon the will of God, as He has wisely constituted the normal way in which creation will work. From this it follows that there is no grounds for objecting that God is unjust in treating Adam and his posterity as one: whether or not they are to be identified- and in what sense they are to be identified- depends directly upon the will of God, and not in any supposed natural law that is apart from the will of God.

4. By divine constitution, Man exists in the same moral state as Adam. We can see how this accords with wisdom and orderliness. For if each individual were created in the same state as Adam, then presumably some would be "perfectly innocent and holy, but others corrupt and wicked; some needing a Savior, but others needing none; some in a confirmed state of perfect happiness, but others in a state of public condemnation to perfect and eternal misery; some justly exposed to great calamities in this world, but others by their innocence raised above all suffering." This would have been a mass of spiritual confusion.

5. Some theologians wish to posit some sort of partial imputation of Adam's sin. But the imputation of Adam's sinfulness is either just or unjust. If such imputation is unjust, then it is every bit as unjust in the part as in the whole; if it is not unjust, then what is the point of only imputing a part of sinfulness?

(4.4) In this chapter, Edwards examines twelve arguments that had been published against the doctrine of Original Sin. These arguments are:

I. The doctrine of Original Sin is contradicted by God's blessings upon Noah after the Flood.

II. If humans are now all under the curse of Original Sin, then they have no occasion to give praise to God for their creation: whereas humans should give praise to their Creator for his goodness in making them.

III. The doctrine of Original Sin is contradicted by Scripture's presentation concerning the Day of Judgment, in which all people will be judged individually in accordance with their own deeds.

IV. The doctrine of Original Sin is contradicted by Scripture's presentation of little children as a positive example.

V. The doctrine of Original Sin is contradicted by Scripture's use of the word "impute," which is only used in relation to one's own personal sin, and never in regard to Adam's sin.

VI. The doctrine of Original Sin "pours contempt upon the human nature."

VII. The doctrine of Original Sin promotes mutual hatred.

VIII. The doctrine of Original Sin prevents joy.

IX. The doctrine of Original Sin encourages people in their sins, as it declares sin to be inevitable.

X. The doctrine of Original Sin would logically lead to the conclusion that having children is sinful, as it would mean that having children automatically brings more sin and misery into the world.

XI. If the doctrine of Original Sin is true, then it is necessarily extremely important, and if it is true and extremely important, then it would be taught more plainly and more often in Scripture.

XII. Christ never taught the doctrine of Original Sin in the Gospels.

Below are summaries of Edwards' responses to these arguments:

I. The doctrine of Original Sin is contradicted by God's blessings upon Noah after the Flood.
A. As in the case of Adam himself, the curses upon Man do not prevent temporal blessing. Adam was not immediately struck dead physically, and he himself begat children and exercised dominion, though God's curses were directly spoken over him. Likewise, temporal blessings upon Noah- in themselves- do not diminish the curse upon him or his posterity.
B. The blessings upon Noah are on a different foundation than the blessings upon Adam. The blessings extended to Noah are based upon the Covenant of Grace, as seen in the sacrifice made on the occasion of these blessings: this sacrifice pointing forward to Christ's sacrifice.

II. If humans are now all under the curse of Original Sin, then they have no occasion to give praise to God for their creation: whereas humans should give praise to their Creator for his goodness in making them.
A. This argument begs the question, assuming that people are not treated in unity: if people are treated in unity with Adam, then they have occasion to give praise to their Creator for how they were originally created.
[Edwards' next responses demonstrate how this objection to Original Sin, if argued consistently, reduces itself to absurdity in the since of leading to a denial of other central doctrines of the Christian faith.] 
B. This same argument can be used to argue that sinners have no occasion to give praise God as their Sustainer because He sustains them in a state of sin and misery, rather than fresh-creating them in a sinless state.
C. This same argument can be used to argue against the doctrine of the Resurrection, which teaches that God will re-create all humans, many of whom will be re-created only to be consigned to eternal punishment.
D. This same argument can be used to argue that those born in the "heathen world" have no occasion to  give praise to their Creator for making them since they are born with little natural opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the gospel.
[In his final response to this particular argument, Edwards focuses on the gospel.]
E. This argument overlooks the fact that we are presently created under a "dispensation of grace through Jesus Christ: by which we have a happy opportunity to be delivered from this sin and misery and to obtain unspeakable eternal happiness."

III. The doctrine of Original Sin is contradicted by Scripture's presentation concerning the Day of Judgment, in which all people will be judged individually in accordance with their own deeds.
The design of the Day of Judgment is not so that God may ascertain the proper state of each individual, but so that an "open distinction" may be made among individuals for all to see. This distinction is two-fold: 1) between the righteous and the wicked; 2) between degrees of good or evil fruit. Under neither of these distinctions among individuals is the core question of Original Sin addressed: whether there is a definite sense in which all mankind is treated by the Creator as one Man.

IV. The doctrine of Original Sin is contradicted by Scripture's presentation of little children as a positive example.
Little children are presented as a positive example not in regard to all things whatsoever, but in a specific sense of their pliability and dependence upon their elders; the sense in which children are examples in no way speaks against the idea of their having a corrupt nature, which will eventually and inevitably become manifested.

V. The doctrine of Original Sin is contradicted by Scripture's use of the word "impute," which is only used in relation to one's own personal sin, and never in regard to Adam's sin.
A. The verb "impute" is only used a couple of times in Scripture of a couple of different specific sins: are other sins not also imputed? If so, then Adam's sin may also be imputed.
B. Scripture may teach the imputation of Adam's sin without using the term "imputation." The passages previously considered explain the imputation of Adam's sin, though the word itself is not used.

VI. The doctrine of Original Sin "pours contempt upon the human nature."
When one is ailing, it is not contemptuous to properly diagnose his condition.

VII. The doctrine of Original Sin promotes mutual hatred.
To the contrary, the doctrine of Original Sin undercuts pride, which Scripture teaches is the source of hatred and strife.

VIII. The doctrine of Original Sin prevents joy.
True: if people "are not very stupid" then contemplating Original Sin will make them exceedingly sorrowful UNTIL they repent and find their joy in Christ.

IX. The doctrine of Original Sin encourages people in their sins, as it declares sin to be inevitable.
To the contrary, when a person is diagnosed with a disease that will inevitably lead to death they will seek a cure, not continuance in the activity that caused the disease.

X. The doctrine of Original Sin would logically lead to the conclusion that having children is sinful, as it would mean that having children automatically brings more sin and misery into the world.
Arguing that sustaining the human race- if all humans are, according to our fallen nature, sinful- is itself a sinful activity is logically equivalent to arguing that God's act of sustaining the devils is itself a sinful activity. But none who claim the name of Christ wish to charge God with sin.

XI. If the doctrine of Original Sin is true, then it is necessarily extremely important, and if it is true and extremely important, then it would be taught more plainly and more often in Scripture.
A. The doctrine of Original Sin is taught much more often in Scripture than its objectors admit, as seen in the examination contained in previous chapters.
B. If a doctrine is taught in Scripture, then it is up to us to believe it, not to judge God on the manner and frequency with which He has chosen to reveal it. (Edwards gives the example of Jesus' denunciation of the Sadducees, who had failed to discern the doctrine of the resurrection in the Old Testament.)

XII. Christ never taught the doctrine of Original Sin in the Gospels.
A. Edwards shows many places in which Christ's teachings plainly imply the doctrine of Original Sin, including Christ's constant teaching that the world is "lost" and needs to be saved, and Christ's teaching that unless people repent, they shall perish (Luke 13:1-5).
B. Edwards specifically draws readers' attention to Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:1-11); Jesus' teaching on the absolute necessity of the new birth proves that something is radically wrong with our old nature.
C. Edwards also notes that Jesus is not quoted as giving direct teaching on many crucial doctrines of the Christian faith during His earthly ministry. For example, Jesus never explicitly teaches of God's creation of the world, and He never lays out a systematic explanation of His own work of redemption. Many doctrines are taught by the Holy Spirit in other places of Scripture.

(4.5)
  • In his conclusion, before entrusting his argument to the readers' judgment and praying for God to plead His own cause in this matter, Edwards critically notes a tactic used by his opponents.
  • This tactic is in regards to Pauline literature. Edwards notes that the opponents of established Christian doctrine are often best refuted with an appeal to Paul's writings, as the Apostle is often the most clear and thorough expositor of particular important teachings. Instead of denying that Paul is an authority, those who wish to introduce new doctrine will often make a great show of praising Paul. Innovators will speak of how profound Paul is: of the unfathomable depths of Paul's writings. They will then use this "compliment" as the pretext for saying that those in the past (for example, Edwards notes, the reformers and the Westminster divines) did not fully comprehend- or even rightly comprehend- Paul's teaching. After centuries of reflection, they claim that we have only now begun to rightly understand the doctrines Paul set forth. Edwards says that this tactic- of complimenting Paul to question the received understanding of Paul- allows innovators to shape the teachings of Scripture however they choose.
  • Personal note: though Edwards writes specifically in regard to the denial of Original Sin, his words in this conclusion seem strangely applicable to the New Perspective on Paul and other teachings found today.


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