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THE EVIDENCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN FROM WHAT THE SCRIPTURE TEACHES OF THE APPLICATION OF REDEMPTION.
The truth of the doctrine of original sin is very clearly manifest from what the Scripture says of that change of state, which it represents as necessary to an actual interest in the spiritual and eternal blessings of the Redeemer’s kingdom.
In order to this, it speaks of it as absolutely necessary for every one, that he be regenerated, or born again. John iii. 3. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man (NOT ENGLISH) be begotten again, or born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Dr. T. though he will not allow that this signifies any change from a state of natural propensity to sin, yet supposes that the new birth here spoken of, means a man’s being brought to a divine life, in a right use and application of the natural powers, in a life of true holiness: 354354 Page 144. and that it is the attainment of those habits of virtue and religion, which gives us the real character of true Christians, and the children of God;‡ and that it is putting on the new nature of right action. 355355 Page 251.
But in order to proceed in the most sure and safe manner, in understanding what is meant in Scripture by being born again, and so in the inferences we draw from what is said of the necessity of it, let us compare scripture with scripture, and consider what other terms or phrases are used, where respect is evidently had to the same change. And here I would observe the following things.
I. If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest, that by regeneration, or being begotten, or born again, the same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the scripture speaks of as affected in true repentance and conversion. I put repentance and conversion together, because the scripture puts them together, Acts iii. 19. and because they plainly signify much the same thing. The word (NOT ENGLISH ) repentance, signifies a change of the mind; as the word conversion, means a change or turning from sin to God. And that this is the same change with that which is called regeneration (excepting that this latter term especially signifies the change, as the mind is passive in it) the following things may show.
In the change which the mind undergoes in repentance and conversion, is attained that character of true Christians which is necessary to the eternal privileges of such. Acts iii. 19. ”Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” And thus it is in regeneration; as is evident from what Christ says to Nicodemus, and as is allowed by Dr. T.
The change of the mind in repentance is that in which saving faith is attained. Mark i. 15. “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe the gospel.” And so it is in being born again, or born of God; as appears by John i. 12, 13. “But as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born not of blood, &c. but of God.“ Just as Christ says concerning conversion, Matt. xviii. 3. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven:” so does he say concerning being born again, in what he spake to Nicodemus.
By the change men undergo in conversion, they become as little children; which appears in the place last cited: and so they do by regeneration. (1 Pet. i. 23. and ii. 2. ) “Being born again.—Wherefore as new-born babes, desire,” &c. It is no objection, that the disciples, to whom Christ spake in Matt. xviii. 3. were converted already: this makes it not less proper for Christ to declare the necessity of conversion to them, leaving it with them to try themselves, and to make sure their conversion: in like manner as he declared to them the necessity of repentance, in Luke xiii. 3, 5. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
The change effected by repentance, is expressed and exhibited by baptism. Hence it is called the baptism of repentance. (Matt. iii. 11. Luke iii. 3. Acts xiii. 24. and xix. 4) And so is regeneration, or being born again, expressed by baptism; as is evident by such representations of regeneration as those: John iii. 5. “Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit.”—Tit. iii. 5. “He saved us by the washing of regeneration.”—Many other things might be observed, to show that the change men pass under in their repentance and conversion, is the same with that of which they are the subjects in regeneration.—But these observations may be sufficient.
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.—This may easily appear by considering, that as regeneration is that in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, as has been shown, and as is confessed; so is circumcision of heart. Deut. xxx. 6. “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.”
Regeneration is that whereby men come to have the character of true Christians; as is evident, and as is confessed; and so is circumcision of heart: for by this men become Jews inwardly, or Jews in the spiritual and christian sense, (and that is the same as being true Christians,) as of old, proselytes were made Jews by circumcision of the flesh. Rom. ii. 28, 29. “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
That circumcision of the heart, is the same with conversion, or turning from sin to God, is evident by Jer. iv. 1-4. “If thou wilt return, O Israel, return unto me. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and put away the foreskins of your heart“ And Deut. x. 16. ”Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.” Circumcision of the heart is the same change of the heart that men experience in repentance; as is evident by Lev. xxvi. 41. “If their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they accept the punishment of their iniquity.”
The change effected in regeneration, repentance, and conversion, is signified by baptism, as has been shown; and so is circumcision of the heart signified by the same thing. None will deny, that it was this internal circumcision, which of old was signified by external circumcision; nor will any deny, now under the New Testament, that inward and spiritual baptism, or the cleansing of the heart, is signified by external washing or baptism. But spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism are the same thing; both being putting off the body of the sins of the flesh; as is very plain by Colos. ii. 11-13. “In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him,” &c.
III. This inward change, called regeneration, and circumcision of the heart, which is wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same with that spiritual resurrection so often spoken of, and represented as a dying unto sin, and a living unto righteousness.—This appears with great plainness 214 in that last cited place, Col. ii.) “In whom also ye are circumcised, with the circumcision made without hands,—buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, &c. And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him; having forgiven you all trespasses.”
The same appears by Rom. vi. 3-5. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life,” &c. ver. 11. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In which place also it is evident, and by the whole context, that this spiritual resurrection is that change, in which persons are brought to habits of holiness and to the divine life, by which Dr. T. describes the thing obtained in being born again.
That a spiritual resurrection to a new, divine life, should be called a being born again, is agreeable to the language of Scripture. So those words in the 2nd Psalm “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” are applied to Christ’s resurrection, Acts xiii. 33. So in Colos. i. 18. Christ is called the first born from the dead; and in Rev. i. 5. The first begotten of the dead. The saints, in their conversion or spiritual resurrection, are risen with Christ, and are begotten and born with him. 1 Pet. i. 3. “Who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible.” This inheritance is the same thing with that kingdom of heaven, which men obtain by being born again, according to Christ’s words to Nicodemus; and that same inheritance of them that are sanctified, spoken of as what is obtained in true conversion. Acts xxvi. 18. “To turn them (or convert them) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sin, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, through faith that is in me.” Dr. T’s own words, in his note on Rom. i. 4. speaking of that place in the 2d Psalm , are very worthy to be here recited. He observes how this is applied to Christ’s resurrection and exaltation, in the New Testament, and then has this remark, “note, begetting is conferring a new and happy state: a son is a person put into it. Agreeably to this, good men are said to be the sons of God, as they are the sons of the resurrection to eternal life, which is represented as a NOT ENGLISH, a being begotten, or born again, regenerated.” So that I think 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 every one, 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.
It is almost needless to observe, how evidently this is spoken of as necessary to salvation, and as the change in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, and the character of a true saint; as has been observed of regeneration, conversion, &c. and how apparent it is, that the change is the same. Thus repentance, (NOT ENGLISH ) the change of the mind, is the same as being changed to a new mind, or a new heart and spirit. Conversion is the turning of the heart; which is the same thing as changing it so, that there shall be another heart, or a new heart, or a new spirit. To be born again, is to be born anew; which implies a becoming new, and is represented as becoming new-born babes. But none supposes it is the body, that is immediately and properly new, but the mind, heart, or spirit. And so a spiritual resurrection is the resurrection of the spirit, or rising to begin a new existence and life, as to the mind, heart, or spirit. So that all these phrases imply, having a new heart, and being renewed in the spirit, according to their plain signification.
When Nicodemus expressed his wonder at Christ declaring it necessary, that a man should be born again in order to see the kingdom of God, or enjoy the privileges of the kingdom of the Messiah, Christ says to him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? i. e. “Art thou one who is set to teach others the things written in the law and the prophets, and knowest not a doctrine so plainly taught in your Scriptures, that such a change is necessary to a partaking of the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom?” But what can Christ refer to, unless such prophecies as that in Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27.? Where God, by the prophet, speaking of the days of the Messiah’s kingdom, says, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean.—A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you—and I will put my Spirit within you.” 356356 Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26. Here God speaks of having a new heart and spirit, by being washed with water, and receiving the Spirit of God, as the qualification of God’s people, that shall enjoy the privileges of the Messiah’s kingdom. How much is this like the doctrine of Christ to Nicodemus, of being born again of water, and of the Spirit! We have another like prophecy in Ezek. xi. 19.—Add to this, that regeneration, or a being born again, and the renewing (or making new) by the Holy Ghost, are spoken of as the same thing, Tit. iii. 5. “By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
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.
The expressions are equivalent; and the representations are plainly of the same thing. When Christ speaks of being born again, two births are supposed: a first and a second, an old birth and anew one: and the thing born is called man. So what is born in the first birth is the old man; and what is brought forth in the second birth, is the new man. That which is born in the first birth (says Christ) is flesh: it is the carnal man, wherein we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, whom the apostle calls the first man. That which is born in the new birth, is spirit, or the spiritual and heavenly man: wherein we proceed from Christ the second man, the new man, who is made a quickening Spirit, and is the Lord from heaven, and the Head of the new creation.—In the new birth, men are represented as becoming new-born babes, which is the same thing as becoming new men.
And how apparently is what the Scripture says of the spiritual resurrection of the Christian convert, equivalent and of the very same import with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. So in Rom. vi. the convert is represented as dying, and being buried with Christ; which is explained in the 6th verse, by this, that the old man is crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed, And in the 4th verse, converts in this change are spoken of as rising to newness of life. Are not these things plain enough? The apostle in effect tells us, that when he speaks of spiritual death and resurrection, he means the same thing as crucifying and burying the old man, and rising as a new man.
And it is most apparent, that spiritual circumcision, and spiritual baptism, and the spiritual resurrection, are all the same with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. This appears by Colos. ii. 11, 12. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism; wherein also ye are risen with him.” Here it is manifest, that the spiritual circumcision, baptism, and resurrection, all signify that change wherein men put off the body of the sins of the flesh: but that is the same thing, in this apostle’s language, as putting off the old man; as appears by Rom. vi. 6. “Our old man is crucified, that the body of sin may be destroyed.” And that putting off the old man is the same with putting off the body of sin, appears further by Ephes. iv. 22-24. and Colos. iii. 8-10. As Dr. T. confesses, “that to be born again, is that wherein are obtained the habits of virtue, religion, and true holiness;” so how evidently is the same thing predicated of that change, which is called putting off the old man, and putting on the new man! Eph. iv. 22-24. “That ye put off the old man, which is corrupt, &c. and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” 215
And it is most plain, that this putting off the old man, &c. is the very same thing with making the heart and spirit new. It is apparent in itself; the spirit is called the man, in the language of the apostle; it is called the inward man, and the hidden man. (Rom. vii. 22. 2 Cor. iv. 16. 1 Pet. iii. 4.) And therefore, putting off the old man, is the same thing with the removal of the old heart; and the putting on of the new man, is the receiving of a new heart, and a new spirit. Yea, putting on the new man is expressly spoken of as the same thing with receiving a new spirit, or being renewed in spirit, Eph. iv. 22-24. “That ye put off the old man—and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man.”
From these things it appears, how unreasonable, and contrary to the utmost degree of scriptural evidence, is Dr. T.‘s way of explaining the old man, and the new man, 357357 Page 149-153. S. as though thereby was meant nothing personal; but that by the old man was meant the heathen state, and by the new man the christian dispensation, or state of professing Christians, or the whole collective body of professors of Christianity, made up of Jews and Gentiles; when all the colour he has for it is, that the apostle once calls the christian church a new man. (Eph. ii. 15.) It is very true, in the Scriptures often, both in the Old Testament and the New, collective bodies, nations, peoples, and cities, are figuratively represented by persons: particularly the church of Christ is represented as one holy person, and has the same appellatives as a particular saint or believer; and so is called a child, a son of God, (Exod. iv. 22. Gal. iv. 1, 2. ) a servant of God, (Isa. xli. 8, 9. and xliv. 1) The daughter of God, and spouse of Christ, (Psal. xlv. 10, 13, 14. Rev. xix. 7.) Nevertheless, would it be reasonable to argue, that such appellations, as a servant of God, child of God, &c. are always or commonly to be taken as signifying only the church of God in general, or great collective bodies; and not to be understood in a personal sense? But certainly this would not be more unreasonable than to urge, that by the old and the new man, as the phrases are mostly used in Scripture, is to be understood nothing but the great collective bodies of pagans and of Christians, or the heathen and the christian world, as to their outward profession, and the dispensation they are under. It might have been proper, in this case, to have considered the unreasonableness of that practice which our author charges on others, and finds so much fault with in them, 358358 Page 224. “That they content themselves with a few scraps of Scripture, which though wrong understood, they make the test of truth, and the ground of their principles, in contradiction to the whole tenor of revelation.
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 called being created anew, or made new creatures.
Here, to pass over many other evidences which might be mentioned, I would only observe, that the representations are exactly equivalent. These several phrases naturally and most plainly signify the same effect. In the first birth, or generation, we are created, or brought into existence; it is then the whole man first receives being; the soul is then formed, and then our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, being curiously wrought by our Creator. So that a new-born child is a new creature. So, when a man is born again, he is created again; in that new birth, there is a new creation; and therein he becomes as a new-born babe, or a new creature. So, in a resurrection, there is a new creation. When a man is dead, that which was made in the first creation is destroyed: when that which was dead is raised to life, the mighty power of the author of life is exerted the second time, and the subject restored to a new existence, and a new life, as by a new creation. So giving a new heart is called creating a clean heart, Psal. li. 10. where the word, translated create, is the same that is used in the first verse, in Genesis. And when we read in Scripture of the new creature, the creature that is called new is man; and therefore the phrase, new man, is evidently equipollent with new creature; and putting off the old man, and putting on the new man, is spoken of expressly as brought to pass by a work of creation. Col. iii. 9, 10. “Ye have put off the old man—and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” So Eph. iv. 22-24. “That ye put off the old man, which is corrupt, &c. and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” These things absolutely fix the meaning of 2 Cor. v. 17. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
On the whole, the following reflections may be made:
1. That it 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. 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. This is most manifest by Christ’s discourse in John iii. 3-11. So it is plain by 2 Cor. v. 17. That every man who is in Christ, is a new creature.
2. It appears from this, together with what has been proved above, that it 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.
3. From what is plainly implied in these things, and from what the Scripture most clearly teaches of the nature of them, it is certain, that every man is born into the world in a state of moral pollution. For spiritual baptism is a cleansing from moral filthiness. (Ezek. xxxvi. 25. compared with Acts ii. 16. and John iii. 5.) So the washing of regeneration, or the NEW BIRTH, is a change from a state of wickedness. (Tit. iii. 3-5.) Men are spoken of as purified in their regeneration. (1 Pet. i. 22, 23. See also 1 John ii. 29. and iii. 1,3.) And it appears, that every man in his first or natural state is a sinner; for otherwise he would then need no repentance, no conversion, no turning from sin to God. And it appears, that every man in his original state has a heart of stone; for thus the Scripture calls that old heart, which is taken away, when a new heart and new spirit is given. (Ezek. xi.19. and xxxvi. 26.) And it appears, that man’s nature, as in his native state, is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and of its own motion exerts itself in nothing but wicked deeds. For thus the Scripture characterizes the old man, which is put off, when men are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and put on the new man. (Eph. iv. 22-24. Col. iii. 8-10.) In a word, it appears, that man’s nature, as in its native state, is a body of sin, which must be destroyed, must die, be buried, and never rise more. For thus the old man is represented, which is crucified, when men are the subjects of a spiritual resurrection. Rom. vi. 4-6. Such a nature, such a body of sin as this, is put off in the spiritual renovation, wherein we put on the NEW MAN, and are the subjects of the spiritual circumcision. Eph. iv. 21-23.
It must now be left with the reader to judge for himself, whether what the Scripture teaches of the application of Christ’s redemption, and the change of state and nature necessary to true and final happiness, does not afford clear and abundant evidence to the truth of the doctrine of original sin.
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