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CHAPTER XII.
OF THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN.

THUS far of Sin. After sin came death, as the calamity or punishment consequent upon it. Gen. ii. 17. 'in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.' Rom. v. 12. 'death entered by sin.' vi.23. 'the wages of sin is death.' vii. 5. 'the motions of sins did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.'

Under the head of death, in Scripture, all evils whatever,[1] together with every thing which in its consequences tends to death, must, be understood as comprehended; for mere bodily death, as it is called, did not follow the sin of Adam on the self-same day, as God had threatened.[2]

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Hence divines, not inappropriately, reckon up four several degrees of death. The first, as before said, comprehends all those evils which lead to death, and which it is agreed came into the world immediately upon the fall of man, the most important of which I proceed to enumerate. In the first place, guiltiness; which, though in its primary sense it is an imputation made by God to us, yet is it also, as it were, a commencement or prelude of death dwelling in us, by which we are held as by a bond, and rendered subject to condemnation and punishment. Gen. iii. 7. 'the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.' Lev. v. 2, &c. 'if it shall be hidden from him, he also shall be unclean and guilty.' Rom. iii. 19. 'that all the world may be come guilty before God.' Guiltiness, accordingly, is accompanied or followed by terrors of conscience. Gen. iii. 8. 'they heard the voice of God..... and Adam and his wife hid themselves..... and he said, I was afraid.' Rom. viii. 15. 'ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.' Heb. ii. 15. 'who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,' x. 27. 'a certain fearful looking for of judgement.' It is attended likewise with the sensible forfeiture of the divine protection and favour; whence results a diminution of the majesty of the human countenance, and a conscious degradation of mind. Gen. iii. 7. 'they knew that they were naked.' Hence the whole man becomes polluted: Tit. i. 15. 'even their mind and conscience is defiled:' whence arises shame:[3] Gen. iii. 7. 'they sewed fig-leaves <355> together, and made themselves aprons.' Rom. vi. 21. 'what fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.'

The second degree of death is called spiritual death; by which is meant the loss of divine grace, and of that innate righteousness, wherein man in the beginning lived unto God. Eph. ii. 1. 'who were dead in trespasses and sins.' iv. 18. 'alienated from the life of God.' Col. ii. 13. 'dead in your sins.' Rev. iii. 1. 'thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.' And this death took place not only on the very day, but at the very moment of the fall. They who are delivered from it are said to be 'regenerated,' to be 'born again,' and to be 'created afresh;' which is the work of God alone, as will be shown in the chapter on Regeneration.

This death consists, first, in the loss, or at least in the obscuration to a great extent of that right reason which enabled man to discern the chief good, and which was as it were the life of the understanding. Eph. iv. 18. 'having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them.' v. 8. 'ye were sometime darkness.' John i. 5. 'the darkness comprehended it not.' Jer. vi. 10. 'they cannot hearken.' John viii. 43. 'ye cannot hear my word.' 1 Cor. ii. 14. 'the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.' 2 Cor. iii. 5. 'not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think anything as of ourselves.' <356> iv. 4. 'the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not.' Col. i. 13. 'who hath delivered us from the power of darkness.' It consists, secondly, in that deprivation of righteousness and of liberty to do good, and in that slavish subjection to sin and the devil, which constitutes, as it were, the death of the will. John viii. 34. 'whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.' All have committed sin in Adam; therefore all are born servants of sin. Rom. vii. 14. 'sold under sin.' viii. 3. 'what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh.' v. 7. 'it is not subject unto the law of God, neither indeed can be.' vi. 16, 17. 'his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death,' &c. Philipp. iii. 19. 'whose god is their belly.' Acts xxvi. 18. 'from the power of Satan.' 2 Tim. ii. 26. 'out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.' Eph. ii. 2. 'the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.' Lastly, sin is its own punishment, and produces, in its natural consequences, the death of the spiritual life; more especially gross and habitual sin. Rom. i. 26. 'for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.' The reason of this is evident; for in proportion to the increasing amount of his sins, the sinner becomes more liable to death, more miserable, more vile, more destitute of the divine assistance and grace, and farther removed from his primitive glory. It ought not to be doubted that sin in itself alone is the heaviest of all evils, as being contrary to the chief good, that is, to God; whereas punishment seems to be at variance only with the good of the creature, and not always with that.

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It cannot be denied, however, that some remnants of the divine image still exist in us, not wholly extinguished by this spiritual death.[4] This is evident, not only from the wisdom and holiness of many of the heathen, manifested both in words and deeds, but also from what is said Gen. ix. 2. 'the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth.' v. 6 'who so sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.' These vestiges of original excellence are visible, first, in the understanding. Psal. xix. 1. 'the heavens declare the glory of God;' which could not be, if man were incapable of hearing their voice. Rom. i. 19, 20. 'that which may be known of God is manifest in them..... for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen.' v. 32. 'who knowing the judgement of God.' ii. 15. 'which show the work of the law written in their hearts.' vii. 23, 24. 'I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind..... O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' Nor, secondly, is the liberty of the will entirely destroyed. First, with regard to things indifferent, whether natural or civil. 1 Cor. vii. 36, 37, 39. 'let him do what he will..... he hath power over his own will.... she is at liberty to be married to whom she will.' Secondly, the will is clearly not altogether inefficient in respect of good works, or at any rate of good endeavours; at least after the grace of God has called us: but its power is so small and <358> insignificant, as merely to deprive us of all excuse for inaction, without affording any subject for boasting. Deut. xxx. 19. 'choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.'Psal. lxxviii. 8. 'a generation that set not their heart aright.' Jer. vii. 13-16. 'because I spake unto you, rising up early, and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore,' &c. Language which would not have been applied to mere senseless stocks. xxxi. 18. 'turn thou me, and I shall be turned.' Zech. i. 3. 'turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you.' Mark ix. 23, 24. 'if thou canst believe..... and straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.' Rom —ii. 14 'when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law.' vi. 16. 'know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?' vii. 18. 'to will is present with me;' and v. 21. 'when I would do good:' which words appear to be spoken in the person of one not yet fully renewed, and who, if he had experienced God's grace in vocation, was still destitute of his regenerating influence. See v. 14. 'I am carnal, sold under sin.' For as to the expression in v. 25. 'I thank God through Jesus Christ,' this, and similar language and conduct, are not in consistent with the character of one who is as yet only called, ix. 31. 'Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.' x. 2. 'they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.' 1 Cor. ix. 17. 'if I do <359> this thing willingly, I have a reward, but if against my will-.' Philipp. iii. 6. 'concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.' 1 Pet. v. 2. 'feed the flock of God..... not by constraint, but willingly.' Hence almost all mankind profess some desire of virtue, and turn with abhorrence from some of the more atrocious crimes. 1 Cor. v. 1. 'such fornication as is not so much as mentioned among the Gentiles.'

There can be no doubt that for the purpose of vindicating[5] the justice of God, especially in his calling of mankind, it is much better to allow to man, (whether as a remnant of his primitive state, or as restored through the operation of the grace whereby he is called) some portion of free will in respect of good works, or at least of good endeavours, rather than in respect of things which are indifferent. For if God be conceived to rule with absolute disposal all the actions of men, natural as well as civil, he appears to do nothing which is not his right, neither will any one murmur against such a procedure. But if he inclines the will of man to moral good or evil, according to his own pleasure, and then rewards the good, and punishes the wicked, the course of equity seems to be disturbed; and it is entirely on this supposition that the outcry against the divine justice is founded. It would appear, therefore, that God's <360> general government of the universe, to which such frequent allusion is made, should be understood as relating to natural and civil concerns, to things indifferent and fortuitous, in a word, to anything rather than to matters of morality and religion. And this is confirmed by many passages of Scripture. 2 Chron. xv. 12, 14. 'they entered into a covenant to seek Jehovah the God of their fathers with all their heart, and with all their soul: and they sware unto Jehovah.' Psal. cxix. 106. 'I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgements.' For if our personal religion were not in some degree dependent on ourselves, and in our own power, God could not properly enter into a covenant with us; neither could we perform, much less swear to perform, the conditions of that covenant.

[1]

..... the fruit

Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste

Brought death into the world,and all our woe.

Paradise Lost, I. 1.

[2]

The divine denunciation is interpreted in the same sense in Paradise Lost:

.... my sole command

Transgress'd, inevitably thou shalt die,

From that day mortal; and this happy state

Shalt lose, expell'd from hence into a world

Of woe and sorrow. VIII. 329.

[3]

..... innocence, that as a veil

Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone,

Just confidence, and native righteousness,

And honour, from about them, naked left

To guilty shame. Paradise Lost, IX, 1054.

[4]

See p. 77. note. And again; —'For there are left some remains of God's image in man, as he is merely man'-. Tetrachordon. Prose Works, II. 124.

[5]

Ad asserendam justitiam Dei. Milton introduces the Latinism in his Paradise Lost:

That to the height of this great argument

I may assert eternal Providence,

And justify the ways of God to men. I. 24.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

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