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LECTURE XXIII.3838   Preached March 10, 1694.

So far we have gone in our course of treating, in some order, of the several heads of religion, as to enter upon this doctrine of the apostasy, which we proposed to consider and speak to from this text, Sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and therein to treat of these three general heads.

I. Of the fall of the first man.

II. Of the fallen state of man. And,

III. Of the consecution of the latter of these upon the former.

And for the First of these generals, the Fall of the First Man, we proposed, therein, to consider and speak to these four more special heads: 1. the sin by which he fell; 2. the way how he fell into, and by this sin; 3. the death that did ensue; and, 4. the dueness of that death upon this sin: and we have spoken to the two first of these.

3. We come now to the third, the death that did ensue as to this first man. And here the inquiry may be, whether that the death contained in the commination or threatening, be principally meant, or the death that is in other terms expressed in the consequent sentence? The first of these, you read Gen. ii. 17. and the latter you read, Gen. iii. from the 17. to the 19. 357ver. I say, whether the death expressed in the commination—“In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die:” or that which is in other words expressed (not by the word death) in the sentence, “dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” be the same, yea or no; it is plain, that there is a real difference betwixt the commination (formally considered) that contains the one, and the sentence that expresses the other.

By the former, the commination or threatening, is established (as far as the comminatory sanction could go) that law, or covenant of works, which was to concern all mankind. By the latter, to wit, the sentence, there was a particular application of this law, now transgressed, unto this particular case of transgressing Adam; as that is the proper business of a sentence, to apply the law according to which it must be understood to pass to the particular case of offenders, when they come to be judged by that law.

But it is here more distinctly to be considered, whether that the sentence do not carry with it some moderation as to the evil or penalty contained in the threatening of commination: in reference whereto, these particulars are worthy your consideration.

(1.) That the terms, wherein the one and the other are to be delivered, are not the same; for the terms of the commination, by which the law or covenant of works, that was to concern all mankind is established, as by a solemn sanction, goes in these express terms: “In case thou eatest, thou shalt (as we read it) surely die:” thou shalt die the death, or, dying, thou shalt die. But the sentence hath not the word “death” in it; but it speaks of sundry miseries that should attend this life, and that should end, at length, in the dissolution of the compound, and especially, of the earthly part: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Having worn out a sad life amidst many sorrows here on earth, thou shalt go to the dust at last, as thou art dust. And,

(2.) It is to be considered, that these different terms are not apt, fully, to express the same thing: for whereas, it is said in the commination, “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death,” these are expressions very fitly accommodated to signify death in the utmost extent, in all the latitude of it, “thou shalt die the death:” all the fulness of death seems to be comprised therein without limitation. But in the sentence, when the great day comes to pass judgment upon the delinquents, (the law being now violated and broken,) you have not, in his application to either of the human offenders, any so terrible expressions as this, only they are doomed to manifest sorrows 358and miseries: and it is told to Adam, (in whom the woman must be comprehended as being taken out of the man) that “dust they are, and unto dust they shall return;” therefore, there seems to be much less in the sentence than in the commination. And,

(3.) It is to be considered, that between these two, the gospel did intervene; that is, between the commination and the sentence: the commination was given with the law to man yet innocent: when he was now fallen and had transgressed, then cometh the sentence; but it so comes as that the gospel steps in between, being tacitly insinuated in reference to them, in what was directly said to the serpent; that which was a curse to him, was a blessing to them: “I will put enmity between seed and seed, between thy seed and the woman’s seed; and that seed shall break thy head, though thou shalt bruise his heel.” And this, the grace of God might, for ought we know, apply and bring home to the case of Adam, as it was applied to all the more special seed of the woman, that should come to be united with him who was most eminently the woman’s seed. And therefore, it might very well be, that though all the fulness and horrors of death, taken in its utmost latitude and comprehension, were included in the commination, there might, in pronouncing the sentence upon Adam, be as great a mitigation, as the variation of the terms doth import.

But our inquiry here, must be concerning the death contained in the commination, where we have the term of “death,” double death, or dying the death, most expressly made use of. And it is by that, that the dying of this death is to be measured; to wit, by the commination, as it did concern Adam, and it must concern Adam’s posterity. And admit, that there was a real mitigation upon the intervening of the gospel, and the exercise of the grace of God, applying it in Adam’s case, yet we are still to consider the death that was contained in the commination, as due to Adam; due, to wit, in a former instance, before there could be a mitigation in a latter, in a following instance: for supposing there were then so quick and speedy a remission in so great part, yet, the penalty remitted must be due, before it could be remitted. It must be a debt, before it could be a remitted debt. And so concerning the death that was due, which offending Adam and his posterity became subject and liable to; I say, concerning that, it is, we have to in quire, as this dueness is measured by the commination; though indeed, we are not yet, according to the series and order of discourse, to consider this death in the extensiveness of it to Adam’s posterity; for that comes in, under the next general 359head, the fallen state of man; whereas, we have only now to consider the fall of the first man, and what did concern the case of Adam himself. And so, our inquiry is, What death it was that was threatened to him, upon the supposition that he should transgress? And of this matter, I shall give you an account in several particulars.

[1.] Most plain it is, that corporeal death was included in the meaning of the commination; for that he did actually incur. You read, in the short history that we have of him, that death, at length, finished his course. He lived so long, and he died. And it could not be, that he should incur that which was not due. And if it were due, it must be so upon the commination; as the dueness of any such punishment, upon any delinquent, is first measured by the law; the sentence is to proceed according to law; that is, so far as not to go beyond it: it is possible there may be mitigations, but the extent of the law cannot be exceeded. That is therefore plain, that corporeal death was included. And,

[2.] It is very evident too, that much more was included than corporeal death: for Adam did actually surfer more (as is manifest) than mere corporeal death; as the labours, and hard ships, and sorrows of life, and whatsoever else besides, about which we shall further inquire anon. And,

[3.] That more beyond corporeal death could not mean annihilation, or an extinction of his being. For,

First. We do not find that either he, or any one else, was ever annihilated, or that any creature ever was. No such thing appears that either he, or any man, or any thing, was actually reduced to nothing. Nor again,

Secondly. Could death be a proper expression of annihilation: for annihilation is not adequately opposite to life. There is no adequate opposition between life and annihilation: if there were, then life and non-annihilation, or continuing such a thing in being, must be equivalent terms, if the other be adequately opposite terms. But it is plain, they are not so; because it is manifest, there are many things in being, and which are some what, and yet do not live. Therefore, to suppose that annihilation should be the thing meant by death, here, as is threatened to Adam, and so to offending man in him, is a dream without a pretence or ground, neither to be found, or any shadows of it, in Scripture; nor at all agreeing to the reason of the thing.

To reduce a thing to nothing, is no apt kind of punishment. There is no other thing, indeed, but a reasonable creature, that is capable of punishment, properly so called. But the reduction 366of any thing to nothing, is to put it absolutely out of any capacity of apprehending itself under divine displeasure; or, that it is self-fallen, under the animadversion of justice: and therefore, is a most unsuitable thing to be designed for the punishment of a reasonable creature, if it were to be called a creature. But the very notion is most unsuitable to it. And therefore,

[4.] There is no doubt, but spiritual death is included. “Thou shalt surely die,” thou shalt die the death: here must be included spiritual death; the death of the soul; not naturally understood, but morally: for naturally, the soul is immortal, and can never die. But death, in reference to the soul, being taken morally, that is, as inclusive both of sin and misery, so the soul was liable to death, and became no doubt the subject of it, in this very case, antecedently to the restitution, and recovery, and the actual supervention of the divine grace. And when we say that death, in this sense, that is, the moral sense, doth include both sin and misery, it must do so, even by the same reason, by which life, in the moral sense, doth include both sanctity and felicity. And it is manifest, it doth include both.

But then, we must further know, that sin being included in this death, it must be in a twofold notion, which we must understand in our minds concerning sin; that is, sin is to be considered, either as it is an evil against God; or it is to be considered, also, as an evil to ourselves. As an evil against God, so it could be a wrong to him, though it cannot be a hurt. And in that sense, or according to that notion, we are not to take sin here, for so we considered it under the former head. Very true it is, we must add,

[5.] That there is a necessary complication of sin and misery with one another, as there is of sanctity and felicity with one another: they are complicated, and cannot but be so, even in their own natures. But though they cannot be severed, they may be considered distinctly. Severed they cannot be, neither of these two pairs—neither sin and misery, nor holiness and blessedness. Neither of the pairs can be disjoined or severed; the love of God, that comprehends in it all our duty, and all our felicity, virtually, as being the great active principle, and the great fruitive; that principle, from whence I am to do all the good I do; and that principle by which I am to enjoy all the good that I enjoy, or am capable of enjoying. Both of these two things, summed up together in one virtual principle of love, can never be disjoined or severed, any more than a thing can be torn and severed from itself. And so the case is, as to the opposite pair; sin and misery, they can never be disjoined or severed, for they are virtually comprehended in one and the 361same principle; to wit, enmity to God; upon the account whereof, while it prevails, it is impossible either to obey God or enjoy him. These two, therefore, cannot but he inseparable. But while they are inseparable, yet they are distinct too. As to this latter pair, wherein, we are now concerned, to wit, sin and misery; “To be carnally minded is death.” And as it is misery, and so a hurt and ruin to us, so it is to be considered here as it comes under the notion of the threatened death, and so doth make a part of the threatened penalty; that is, sin carrying a self punitive malignancy in it. God having been once offended, he leaves the sinner (till grace doth work the reparation) under that self-punishment. “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee.” And so, in this sense it is, that spiritual death must be comprehended in that death contained in the commination: “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die the death.” It must comprehend spiritual death: and that spiritual death doth also comprehend in it several things, of which I shall give you a very brief account. As,

First. The retraction of God’s Spirit. That it contains, as the first and most fundamental thing, in this threatened spiritual death, the retraction of God’s Spirit. When Adam had abused, or not duly used, the power which his Creator gave him, of obeying and complying with the divine pleasure, the Spirit retired; and now, we must consider the difference (as hath been intimated before) between the spiritual influence which was vouchsafed to Adam, while he yet remained innocent, and that which is afforded to the regenerate, in their present state, to preserve that state; that is, as to Adam in innocence, that influence was enabling, but not determining. It was such as by which (as hath been told you) he had a possibility of not falling, but not an impossibility of falling; he had a possibility of standing, not an impossibility not to stand; that he had not, that influence of the Spirit which he had, being suitable to his state of probation wherein he was made, that is now justly withheld, the Spirit retires, leaves him to himself.

This we do not say gratis dictum; for do but consider that plain text: (Gal. iii. 13.) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come upon us Gentiles, the promise of the Spirit, (or the promised Spirit) through faith.” If the remission of the curse do carry with it the conferring of the grace of the Spirit, then the curse, while it did continue, could not but include, carry in it, the privation and suspension of the Spirit. This was part of 362the curse upon apostate Adam, the loss of God’s Spirit. For that which the grace of Christ and redemption by him, removing, inferred the communication of the Spirit, that must include the suspension and withholding of the Spirit. And,

Secondly. Hereupon, it could not but ensue, (which is a further thing contained in this spiritual death,) that the holy image of God must he erased, vanished; and, antecedently to the restitution, it could not but be so. And,

Thirdly. There must be included in this spiritual death, an aversion from God, the turning off of the apostate soul from God: that whereas it minded him before, with a complacential ado ration, now it is quite alienated: here is no inclination in him towards God. The thing speaks itself; and it was apparent in Adam’s case. As soon as he becomes guilty, he hides himself, vainly attempts to hide himself from the doom. That which was before the most grateful thing of all things, to have God nigh him, is now quite otherwise; he cannot endure that God should approach him. If it were possible to keep himself from God, (but that he vainly attempts,) his sense would be, “Let me have no more to do with God.” And,

Fourthly. There must be further contained in it, hereupon, a cessation of that intercourse and communion that was between God and him. For the Spirit of God was retired on his part, and man was become averse and disaffected to God on his own part. The image of God, that rendered him propense towards God, and meet for his communion, being vanished and gone, nothing can ensue more necessarily and certainly than a cessation of communion: God refuseth to converse with him, and he refuseth to converse with God. And,

Fifthly. There could not also but be included as consequent hereupon, regrets of conscience: not penitential but tormenting; not penitential as yet, or not penitential first; but first tormenting, before they could be penitential, while grace was not yet applied. How soon it might be we know not. It is very likely it might be very soon, by the account that short history gives us. But in the mean time, there could be only tormenting regrets of conscience: “Very lately I was an innocent creature; now I am a fallen creature: I then stood right in the acceptance and favour of God; now there is war between him and me.” Penitential regrets, indeed, could not be a part of the penalty; they are a part and degree of the sinner’s restoration and recovery: but the preceding tormenting regrets, they are included in the death. It is a deadly thing to be stung with the sense of one’s having offended him whom we can never propitiate to ourselves again. And hereupon, also,

Sixthly. Very black and gloomy thoughts must ensue; amazing 363thoughts! He that was in the eye of the innocent, unoffending soul, his highest delight, now he is all inwrapt in a cloud; or the mind is inwrapt in a cloud that it cannot behold him; such a cloud as it can by no means penetrate. God could be conceived of under no other notion than that of an enemy and avenger. And,

Seventhly. There must be, hereupon, most astonishing fears; for it is obvious that a reasonable, intelligent mind would consider, “He who did so lately fetch me and all this creation out of nothing, is almighty, and it is impossible for me to fence against his power. That power that could create a world so easily, what can I do to protect myself against it, when it is set on work by just displeasure?” And then,

Eighthly. It must include despair: for the first covenant gave no hope of forgiveness, and therefore, gave no room or place for repentance till grace came, till an inspired gospel came to be actually applied and brought home in this case. And therefore, there must he the epitome and sum of hell, in the state of this case; God offended and never to be reconciled, and against whose displeasure, armed with power, I can have no defence, no protection. All this more, all this surplusage, must be contained in this death; that is, spiritual death, the present death of the soul in the moral sense, in all this latitude and extensiveness of it. And then, further,

[6.] There is in this surplusage, too, these many external miseries of life that we find to be contained, also, in the very sentence: for though the sentence may contain less than the commination, yet it could not contain more. Therefore, all these being found in the sentence, must be in the commination too: all the external miseries of life that a delinquent creature could be liable to. And then, in the last place,

[7.] This death must carry in it, too, death eternal, as the sum of the penalty, or the consummation thereof, as the evil threatened and contained in that. And though many would speak very distinguishingly of this matter, and labour to do so when they can, yet let but plain Scripture be considered in the case, and you will see how it speaks. Do but follow this very context unto the shutting up of this chapter, and you will see what kind of reign it is that sin hath in the world. It now began its reign, even in this first apostasy, or in the apostasy of the first man. Sin, we are told, it reigns unto death, verse 21. “As sin hath reigned unto death, so grace might reign through righteousness unto life.” What life? “Unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” You see how these two stand in their antithesis, in their opposition to one another. Here is 364death set in opposition to eternal life. What death is that that stands in opposition to eternal life? Surely, it must he eternal death. So in the conclusion of the next chapter: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “The wages of sin is death.” It is not said of this or that sin, some greater sin; but, “The wages of sin,” as sin, “is death.” And what death, the opposition shews us: it is put in opposition to eternal life; therefore, it must be eternal death that is the wages of sin, of sin as sin: and therefore, if Adam’s transgression was sin, such a death must be the wages of it.

And that is the third particular, belonging to this first general head, that we were to treat of, to wit, to shew what the death was that did ensue, and was designed to ensue, by force of the divine law; or the commination added thereto, upon this first sin of the first man. Now,

4. The fourth of these heads is the dueness of this death upon this sin; and upon that I shall not insist, it being enough to touch it, things being obvious of themselves. The heinousness of the sin, and the too naturalness of the punishment taken together, will evince the dueness of this event upon this sin.

(1.) Consider the heinousness of the sin. We have opened that unto you in many particulars formerly, to which I shall only add the consideration of these four circumstances. As that,

[1.] The first man should so soon transgress. But just now made; (upon the matter it being generally thought to be but a little time: most think the same day 3) just now made by God, a reasonable, immortal creature, and so soon made by himself, a sinner, transgressor, and a rebel.

[2.] Consider that he sinned with open eyes, having, before, no cloud upon his mind, but all things in clear light before him,

[3.] And while his nature was antecedently untainted, no vicious inclination in him. And,

[4.] That there was nothing which could be matter of complaint in his state, his condition so entirely good, and yet did not please him. Think, I say, of the heinousness of the sin, in these and other respects, and then the incurred death cannot be thought unproportionable, or undue, though you take it in the extent that hath been mentioned. But,

(2.) Consider, too, the con-naturalness of the punishment to the sin, this death to his transgression. He turns from God to the creature: God turns away (in just displeasure, upon being 365offended,) from him. Hence, all these things ensue and follow of themselves. And there was no preventing it by any ordinary methods, unless God would annihilate him, unless lie would throw his creature hack again into nothing. But that became not the wisdom and greatness of God to do. It had been too much trifling to raise his creature into being, and put him under such an equitable, and so righteous a law, and., he offending, presently to nullify his own work. That had not been becoming God, not suitable to the divine wisdom and greatness.

And therefore, now to give some brief notes of Use upon the two last mentioned heads.

1. You may learn, hence, that the act of eating the for bidden fruit, is not to be considered too abstractly, as the first sin of man; that is the thing wherein the most do foolishly impose upon themselves, and so speak and think diminishingly of this whole matter. What! was it so great a matter? was it so great a thing to eat the fruit of a tree that was for bidden? This, abstractly considered, was not the first sin. Not abstractly considered; take it comprehensively, and take it in all that was belonging to it, and it was the first sin. But the act of eating alone, considered by itself, was not the first; there were a great many mental evils (as we have shewn in opening the sin) which did precede the act of eating, and that altogether, make it a most horrid wickedness; distrust of the truth of God’s word, and trusting a creature that he might easily apprehend to be an apostate, fallen creature, by opposing the word of God; trusting him against him that made him, and gave him breath. He trusted against God, one, he knew not whom: but he might suppose it one that was not in his original integrity, that was fallen and gone off from God; otherwise he could never have counselled against God. There was great ingratitude for goodness, shewn and exhibited; for mercy received: mercy, indeed, as yet it could not properly be called, he not being as yet a miserable creature, or in a miserable state. There was opposing his will to the Supreme Will, There was exalting the sensitive nature against the rational, against the law of the mind; and so confounding the order of things, in that part of God’s creation; to wit, himself breaking the order and dependance of the faculties in reference to one another, with many more.

2. And you may further learn, hence, how nearly sin and misery, sin and death, do border upon one another. They are things very near to each other. These two spheres of life and death; that lightsome, glorious sphere, all full of vitality, 366pleasure and bliss; and that sphere of darkness and death, that comprehended every thing of horror in it, you see how nearly they do touch, and how nearly they did touch; so that we might suppose, but even a moment between the one and the other. This moment, an innocent creature, standing in delight, and favour, and acceptance; and the next moment, an accomplice of hell, associated with apostate spirits against God. How nearly do the spheres of light, and life, and bliss; and of death, and horror, and hell, touch! How near did they touch one another! How immediate was the transitus, the passage from the one to the other! And,

3. You see, not only the nearness in point of time; but the natural connexion that is between sin and misery; that the one doth in so great a measure involve the other, as I have shewn they do. Sin carries death in it; “To be carnally minded is death.” And we may further see,

4. What occasion we should take, hence, to admire the grace of the gospel, that it should so soon intervene; and when it so doth, here is place for repentance by the constitution of a new covenant, the evangelical one, which the covenant and law of works could not give upon any terms: for it could represent God no otherwise than as an unappeasable enemy. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.”

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