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OU desire, my dear Friend,
to be satisfied about the Article Y
of Original Sin. As I am a Minister of the Gospel, it is my Duty to do all I can to
set you right in a Matter relating to the Principles of Religion; and therefore I will unfold to you the TRUTH, so far as I am able, plainly, sincerely, and without Referve; in confidence that you, on your Part,
love the Truth, and are disposed to a di ligent and impartial Inquiry after it.
ABOVE all things, Truth should engage our most serious and upright Regards. We fhould esteem it the highest Point of Duty to be always open to the Evidence which discovers TRUTH; and always free and ready,
Biass of Prejudice and temporal Interest, to embrace it, when discover’d. The TRUTH, as it cannot be wrong in it felf, cannot lead us to any thing that is wrong. The TRUTH is the Rule which God himfelf follows, and which his almighty Power will for ever vindicate. To this end our blefsed LORD was born, and for this Cause he came into the World, that he might bear Witness to the TRUTH, John xviii. 37. The TRUTH is that glorious Sun, which directs and illuftrates all our Actions, rendring them pleasing to God, and comfortable to ourfelves; nor can we be Sinners, or wretched, but only just fo far as we despise or neglect the TRUTH.
ALL Truth necessary to Salvation is revealed in the Holy SCRIPTURES; and the SCRIPTURES, not the Opinions of Men, not of learned Men, no, not of good Men, no, not of many learned and good Men, are the Rule of our Faith. Men of Knowledge and Integrity may indeed be useful to us, as In
structors, to open the sense of God's Word : But it is the Word and Revelation of God alone upon which my Faith is to be founded. And as for human Wildom and Knowledge, Iought to value it, in religious Matters, just so much, and so far only, as it serves to unfold the Mind and Meaning of God in the Scriptures ; in the interpreting of which, we ought not to admit any thing contradictory to the common Sense and Understanding of Mankind. For the Scriptures can be no Rule to us, if the Understanding God hath given us is not a Rule in judging of their Sense and Meaning. Nothing ought to pass for divine Revelation which is inconsistent with any of the known Perfections of the divine Natore. Difficult Places are to be explained by those that are easy to be underftood. We muit not allow ourselves to feign any thing; but must attend to the true, strict and proper Sense of every Place, without daring to add or diminish by our own Imaginations: and whatever we find is plainly added, or diminished, by human Interpretations or Schemes, we ought peremptorily to reject as dangerous Innovation. Lastly, we should not content ourselves with Scraps, and single Sentences, which in Sound may seem to mean one Thing, but really have, taken with what goes before, and what follows after, a quite different Signification. This is a very fallacious Way of proving Things from Scripture; B 2
and, for my own Part, I cannot satisfy myself in grounding Articles of Faith upon
My Method (you must judge whether it be right) in searching the Scripture is, to take the whole before me; to find out all the Places where any Point of Faith is fpoken of, or seems to be spoken of; to study those Places over singly and separately, judging from what goes before and follows after, what is the true Scope and Meaning of every Text; and then I compare them all together, and from such a View of all that I can find in the Word of God, I form my Sentiments concerning the Point inquired after.
And truly I cannot see what any one can poflibly do more (excepting fervent Prayer to the Father of Lights) to settle his Faith and Conscience upon a true Scripture Bottom.
You want to be satisfied about Original Sin : that is, you would know, How far we, the Posterity of Adam, are involved in the Consequences of his first Transgression.
COME then, my dear Friend, let me lead you by the Hand into the most fruitful and pleasant Garden of God, his holy Word. I have laid out a good deal of Study upon it, and, with some Care, have observed the feveral Plants which grow therein ; and, with
a particular Eye to the Point before us, the Consequences of the first Transgression : Which I find are spoken of certainly and plainly but five times in the whole Bible ; namely, twice in the Old, and thrice in the New Testament. Many other Places indeed are quoted by Divines, as relating to this Affair, but they are apparently doubtful; no Mention being made in them of Adam, or any Effects that his Sin hath upon us. However, the right way of proceeding is, to consider and examine first those Places where the Consequences and Effects of Adam's Sin are plainly and certainly spoken of ; and then we shall be better able to judge of the doubtful and uncertain Places, to which we shall next turn our Thoughts.
I FIND no more than five Places in all the Bible where the Consequences of the first Sin are certainly spoken of
. The first is, Gen. ii
. 17. The second is, Gen. iii. from the 7th verse to the end of the Chapter. The third Place is, in Rom. v. 12, to the 20th verse. The fourth Place is, in i Cor. xv. 21, 22, The fifth and last Place is, i Tim. ii, 14.
The Bible is open to every body, and if any Man can produce more than these five Places where the Consequences of the first Transgression are plainly and certainly spoken of, it will be easy for every body to see, and thall be very ready to own, I am mistaken,