Abbildungen der Seite

he had not sinned, Gen. iii. 19. Though man’s body was made of dust, yet, by virtue of the covenant-promise, it would have been secured from mingling with its original materials. As it was created without any principle of death, so it was not susceptive of any hazard from that quarter, as long as the covenant should be observed. His natural life would have remained in constant vigour, without lanquishing or decay: And he would have enjoyed the comfort of this life pure and unmixed without any of those evils, miseries and inconveniencies, which now overspread the world. 2. Spiritual life, consisting in the union of the soul with God. Man’s soul was, and is in its own nature, immaterial and immortal, not liable to dissolution. lt was endowed with spiritual life at its creation, fiving in union and communion with God, and adorned with his image, consisting in righteousness and holiness. This image of God would have been continued in him. His knowledge of God and his duty would not have failed; nor would the righteousness of his will, or the purity and regularity of his affections have decayed. He would still have been the friend of God, and the favourite of heaven; and would never have been without the most lively marks of the love and friendship of his covenant God. He would have had ready access to God, without any eclipse of the divine favour; and the utmost easure and satisfaction in doing his duty, which would e been a continual feast to him. 3. Eternal life, or the glorious happiness of heaven. He should have been confirmed in his holy and happy estate beyond the hazard or possibility of sinning, or forfeiting it.— Though he was created mutable, and mutability is woven into the very nature of the creature, yet having finished the time allotted for his probatiou, he would have been secured from aetual liableness to change for ever. His body would have been absolutely and for ever secured against hazard of death, or hurt from external accidents or injuries. He would have been confirmed in the love and favour of God for ever, without any hazard of falling out of it. The sun of favour from God would have shone upon him, without ever setting. And after the time of his trial was over, he would have been transported, soul and body, into the heavenly paradise, there to abide for ever. He would not have always lived in the earthly paradise, where he was to eat, drink, and sleep, but have been carried to the celestial paradise, where the happy inhabitants live as the angels of God. This is plain, if he consider that application of the covenant of works, Matth. xix. 16, 17.- If thou wilt enter into life, keep the command. ments.” Here Christ holds forth eternal life as the promise of this covenant, to be had on the performance of the condition. The weakness of the law to give eternal life now, ariseth only from the flesh, that is, the corruption of nature, whereby we are unable to fulfil the condition of it, Rom. viii. 3. It was eternal life that Christ purchased for his people, and that as he was made under the law, by which he obtained that very life to them, which otherwise they should have had, if man had not sinned, Rom. viii. 3, 4. Gal. iv. 4, 5, Besides, eternal death was threatened; and the goodness of God uses not to propose greater punishments than rewards. And if it had not been so, man had nothing to expect more than he had when created, and set down in paradise. Fourthly, The penalty of this covenant, in case of disobedience, was death; natural, consisting in the separation of the body from the soul; spiritual, in the separation of the soul from God, a death in trespasses and sins, Eph. ii. 1; and eternal, in the separation of both body and soul from God for ever in hell, Matt. xxv. 41. Man's body had never died had he not sinned, for ‘the wages of sin is death, Rom. vi. ult. and far less his soul, which would have flourished in all the beauty of spiritual verdure and vigour for ever. But it may be asked, How was the threatening accomplished, when Adam lived so long after his fatal transgression ? I answer, That day that he sinned he died spiritually. His soul was divested of the image of God that was stamped upon it at its creation; his understanding became dark, his will rebellious, and his affections impure and irregular. He lost the favour of his Maker, and he was exposed to the wrath of God, as a mark at which the arrows of the diwine displeasure were to be levelled. That this spiritual death was inflicted upon man immediately after his foul transgression, is evident from those gripes and throws of conscience that seized him, which made him hide himself from God amidst the strees of the garden. And this of course would have actually terminated in eternal death in

hell, had not a Mediator been provided, who found man
bound with these cords of death as a malefactor bound
to the execition. And as for his natural life, that day he
sinned, he got his death's wounds, of which he afterwards
died; that day he became mortal, and his body liable to
sickness, disease, pain, and every other harbinger of death.
The crown of immortality, which he held of his Creator, by
virtue of the covenant made with him, fell from off his head,
and he became a subject of the king of terrors. He became
liable to all those cords wherewith death binds his prisoners.
So that he was as sure a dead man as if dead already, though
the execution of the sentence was delayed, because of his
posterity which were in his loins, and because another cove.
nant was prepared, by which the life and happiness forfeited
by the breach of the first covenant, was to be recovered, and
that with great advantage.
I’ifthly, We may consider how the covenant of works
was confirmed. It hath pleased God to append seals to his
covenants with men; and this covenant seems not to have
wanted some things intended sacramentally to confirm it.
Among which may be reckoned, *
1. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Gen. ii. 17.
What sort of a tree it was, the scripture does not determine.
But whatever it was, it was not so called, as having any vir-
tue or power to make men wise; that was the devil's di.
vinity, Gen. iii. 5, who told Eve, that if they eat of it, they
should be as gods; but he was a liar from the beginning,
John viii. 44.: but it was called so, because by it they knew
to their fatal experience the happy state they fell from, and
the woful misery that fall plunged them into. It obtained
that name, because it was a warning-sign to them to beware
of the experimental knowledge of evil, as they knew good.
They had special acquaintance with good in all its charming
kinds; and this tree was set before them as a beacon to
warn them from looking after the knowledge of evil, which,
like a dangerous rock, would dash them to pieces, if they
split upon it. And it served to confirm the covenant, and
the happiness of their primitive state; inasmuch as in the
threatening relative to this tree was included a promise, that
as long as they kept from eating of its prohibited fruit, they
should never die. And hence we may gather, which is no
improbable opinion, that our first parents could fall by no

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


other transgression than eating of this tree. And the devil that finished master of craft and subtility, attacked them in this quarter, as the only side on which he could promise himself success. And alas for poor man! Satan's stratagem succeeded, to the ruin of the whole human race. 2. The tree of life, Gen. ii. 9. Though we have ground to think that this tree might be an excellent means of preserving the vigour of bodily life, as other trees in the garden also were, yet it could have no virtue in itself of making man every way immortal. But it seems to have been called the tree of life by reason of its signification being appointed of God as a sacrament, by eating whereof he should have been confirmed in the belief of the promise of life natural being continued, of spiritual life perpetuated, and eternal life to be enjoyed in heaven; which was the main thing, and included the other two, Gen. iii. 22. “And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever, he must be driven out; denoting, that man, by sin, having lost his right to eternal life signified by this tree, was driven out, Rev. ii. 7. that he might not profane the sacrament of it, to which he had now no more right. The words do not mean, that if Adam had eat of the tree of life after his fall, he should retrieve his forfeited life; this being impossible, in regard the threatening was express, In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shall surely die; and that the tree of life had no such virtue and efficacy in itself, and ceased to be a sacrament of the covenant of works the moment man sinned. It was intended to assure and persuade him of life upon performing the condition; but the covenant being broken that assurance and persuasion actually fell of course. The whole verse may be read thus, Behold the man who was one of us, to know good and evil: and now lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, that he may live for ever. Where three things are very plain (1.) There is no irony or scoff here, as if God should say, Behold the man has attempted to become like one of us, to know good and evil; but how shamefully has he failed of his design but, on the contrary, a most pathetic lamentation over fallen man. This sen. tence is evidently broken off abruptly, the words, I will drive him out, being suppressed; even as in the case of a father, who, with sighs and sobs, puts his offending child


out of doors. (2.) It was God's design to prevent Adam's eating of the tree of life, as he had eaten of the forbidden tree; thereby mercifully taking care, that our fallen father, who had now got a revelation of the covenant of grace, might not, according to the corrupt natural inclination of men since the fall, run back to the covenant of works for life and salvation, by partaking of the tree of life, a sacrament of that covenant, and so reject the covenant of grace, by eating of that tree now, as he had before broken the covenant of works, by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (3.) At this time Adam imagined, that by eating of the tree of life he might recover his forfeited life, and so live for ever.

III. I come now to shew why God entered into this cove. nant with man. I know no reason can be given for this, but what must be resolved into the glory of the grace and goodness of God. It was certainly an act of grace and admirable condescension in God, to enter into a covenant with his own creature. Man was not at his own but God’s disposal; nor had he any thing to work with but what he had from God; so that there was no proportion betwixt the work enjoined and the reward promised, Man before that covenant was bound, but God was free : for man was under the law of nature before he was under the covenant; for the law was created with him, that is, he was no sooner a rational creature than he was under the law; but this covenant was not made with him till after he was brought into the garden to dress it. Before that covenant God was free to dispose of man as he saw fit, however perfectly he kept the law; but when in the covenant he made the promise of conferring life upon Adam in case of continued obedience, during the time set for his trial, then he was debtor to his own faithfulness, which is necessarily engaged to perform whatever it hath promised. Again, death was the natural wages of sin, though there had been no covenant, and that by the rule of justice, which plainly requires that man should be dealt with as he has done. But man having given consent, however tacit, and not expressed in so many words, which yet is equivalent to a formal consent to the covenant, implying the threatening, the Lord proceeds not by simple justice, but by express for. mal covenant, in punishing for the breach of it. But we may consider the reason of God the Almighty Creator and

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »