« AnteriorContinuar »
Confequently, the Obligation to Punishment doth not refult from TRUTH, EQUITY or JUSTICE; but from the mere WILL of the Governour, who by this Rule is at Liberty to fuppofe Men to be what actually and really they are not; and has a Right to bring them under Obligation to the most dreadful Punishment by mere arbitrary Will, when he knows they are actually and perfonally undeferving of any Punishment, And therefore I do not wonder, that the Scripture not only never affirms, but on the contrary exprefly removes from the Divine Proceedings, the Imputation of Guilt in a Senfe fo remote from all Reafon, Truth and Equity.
FURTHER, Adam's Sin is never in Scripture faid to be imputed to his Pofterity. This R. R. acknowledges, p. 403. 1. 10. The Scripture, faith he, does not, as I remember, any where in express Words affert, that the Sin of Adam is imputed to his Children, &c. Indeed he tells us in the fame Place, that he thinks the Senfe and true Meaning of this Expreffion, that Adam's Sin is imputed to his Children, is fufficiently found in Scripture. But how can any Meaning of this Expreffion be found in Scripture, by any juft and authentic Rule of Interpretation, when the Scripture always ules imputing Sin in a Senfe directly inconfiftent with it? For the Scripture never speaks of imputing any Act of Righteoufness or Sin
to any Perfon, but what is the Act of that Perfon to whom it is imputed either for Righteoufness or Condemnation; therefore we can fix no Meaning to this Expreffion, Adam's Sin is imputed to his Children, which the Scripture will justify. For which Reason, I don't think he has explain'd any Doctrine of Scripture in the Efay he has wrote to explain the Doctrine of imputed Sin and Righteoufnefs; because he has not confin'd himself to the Scripture Account, but has fuppos'd both Sin and Righteoufnefs to be imputed, not only where the Scripture never faith they are imputed, but alfo in a Senfe which the Scripture discountenances. But I shall purfue this Point no further; because I am in doubt whether it be R. R's Meaning, that he is fully fatisfy'd the Senfe of this Expreffion, That Adam's Sin is imputed to his Children, is fufficiently found in any Part of Scripture: Otherwife furely he would not have said, (p. 88. 1. 1.) I must confefs I am not fond of fuch a Scheme or Hypothefis of deriving fome Sort of Guilt, (by Imputation, fee p. 85. 1. 6.) from a Surety or Reprefentative, tho' I know it has been embrac'd by a confiderable Party of Chrif tian's ancient and modern. No I would gladly renounce it, because of fome great Difficulties attending it, if I could find any other Way to relieve the much greater Difficulties, and barder Imputations upon the Conduct of Providence, which will attend this Enquiry, if we follow
follow any other Track of Sentiment.-This doth not feem to be the Language of one perfuaded that the Imputation of Adam's Sin to his Pofterity is a Doctrine of Scripture, or fufficiently found there. But to proceed,
To fupport the common Notion of imputed Guilt, the Vindicator brings feveral Cafes, or Facts wherein, he fays, God has actually PUNISHED the Crimes of Parents upon their Children and Pofterity, p. 7,-13. and he adds a Confirmation from human Tranfactions. To which I anfwer, 'tis true, many Inftances may be brought out of all Parts of Life where Children do, and must of Course SUFFER for the Misconduct of their Parents or Ancestors. When the Father by his Virtue gets an Eftate or Honour, he leaves it to his Pofterity, and they enjoy or perhaps abufe it, till one or other of them forfeits or fquanders it away; he cannot convey what he has not, and therefore the following Pofterity, of course are reduc'd, not to a State of PUNISHMENT, but to the fame naked Condition in which the Family was before the Estate or Honour was got. Temporal Estates and Honours are Things alienable from Pofterity by Law, and the former even by the Will and Deed of the prefent Poffeffor: But Innocence can be alienated by no Law, Power, Authority or Perfon whatsoever, except the Perfon to whom it belongs. He may change
his Innocence into Guilt. But no other Being whatsoever can do it. Nor Man, nor God, by any Constitution whatever, can poffibly make a Thing to be, what it is not; can make Innocence to be No-Innocence, or juftly account an innocent Perfon, continuing fuch, not innocent. Confequently no just Conftitution can PUNISH the Innocent, because PUNISHING implies that the Subject is not innocent. PUNISHING the Innocent is acting directly against the eternal and immutable Nature of Things. Nor doth this Author, or R. R. in his Efay, give us one Inftance of innocent Pofterity PUNISHED for the Faults of Ancestors by the Laws or Conftitutions of any Nations upon Earth. Or, if any fuch Law were found, it must be judged falfe and unjuft. Both thefe Gentlemen flip in the Word PUNISH, without attending to its true Force, and confound it with SUFFERING; as if to fuffer and to be punijh'd were the fame Thing.
NOR in the Scripture-Inftances they have produced, is it faid, that the Crimes of Parents were PUNISHED upon Children, as they have unwarily affirmed; R. R. p. 121. Vind. p. 7, &c. The Facts they alledge in Regard to Ham's and Gehazi's Pofterity, and the Children of Dathan and Abiram * fuffering
*R. R. and the Vindicator add the Children of Karah and Achan. But the Children of Korah died not,
through the Sins of their Parents are allowed. But the Fact is one Thing, and the Reason of the Fact is another. The Fact may be true, but the Reafon affigned for it falfe. It is Fact that the Children fuffered, but it is false that the Guilt of Parents was imputed to them, or that they were PUNISHED for their Crimes. Because this is contrary to exprefs Scripture, and the Truth and Reason of Things. On the other hand, Children. in fuch Instances are evidently regarded as the Property and Poffeffions, the most dear and valuable ENJOYMENTS of Parents, and come under the fame general Confideration with Cattle, Land, Fruits of the Earth, &c. confequently in the Inftances alledged, the Parents only were punished by the Sufferings of the Children; which Sufferings had not refpect to the Sin of Pofterity, unless to prevent it, but only to the Sin of the Parents, how much or how long foever Pofterity might suffer. This appears from feveral Paffages in Scripture. Lev. xxvi. 18, 21, 22, 28, 29.---I will punish you seven times more for YOUR Sins.-Your Land shall not yield her Increase, and if ye walk contrary unto me, I will bring seven times more Plagues upon you, according to YOUR Sins. I will alfo fend wild Beafts among * C you, Numb. xxvi. 11. And it is a Question whether the Children of Achan were stoned with him: But if they were, they might be privy to the Father's Crime; for the accurfed Thing was hid in his Tent, where his Family lived, Joh. vii. 22. Vid. Patrick's Comment.