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CONCERNING THE FIRST COVENANT, AND THE STATE OF
MAN BEFORE THE FALL, ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE, AND THE SENSE OF THE PRIMITIVE DOCTORS OF THE
Written at the request of a Friend.
[IN all the transactions between God and man
N all the transactions between God and man
, scended to on God's part, and some conditions have ever been required on our side, in order to obtain and preserve his favour. So it was in the state of innocency, as appears from the very original law given to man in Gen. ii. 16, 17, which was not established only with a threatening, but with a promise also annexed; and consequently was more than a mere law. So it continued after the fall, as is undeniable from those most remarkable words of God to Cain, recorded in Gen. iv. 7, and from the constant manner of God's proceeding with the patriarchs and others in the Old Testament. But then it ought nevertheless to be observed, that besides the seeds of natural religion sown in man's mind at the creation, he was also endowed with certain supernatural gifts and powers, in which his perfection chiefly consisted, and with
a See Life, p. 437.]
b The beginning of this MS. being wanting, that which is included between the two crotchets is added to supply the introduction, being extracted from the author's own writings.
out which his natural powers were of themselves insufficient to the attainment of an heavenly immortality; and consequently that the law of nature as considered now in fallen man, without divine revelation, and without any supernatural assistance, is much less able to confer the heavenly immortality and bliss upon them that live up to it. Since both from Scripture, and the consentient testimony of the ancient catholic writers, it is plain, as I have elsewhere shewed, that there was a covenant of life made with man in his state of innocence, and not (as some pretend) only a law imposed upon him; that this covenant was by the transgression of the protoplast made void both to him and his posterity; that all his posterity as such were thereby wholly excluded from the promise of eternal life made in that covenant, and consequently subjected to a necessity of death without hope of any resurrection ; that as such, they are only under the obligation of the law of nature, and the dictates of common reason; that this law is not a law of perfect obedience, or a rule of perfection; that it hath not the reward of eternal life annexed; and that there is no covenant of life eternal, which God ever entered into with the posterity of fallen Adam, but that only which is confirmed and ratified in Christ, the second Adam; and which is by consequence the very same with the Gospel itself.
But because from what I have already written on this head, it may not be sufficiently evident to all, what the nature of this covenant of life eternal was, which God made with man in his state of integrity,
c Appendix ad Animad. XVII. §. 2, &c.
and what were the means proportioned to it in order to the end, I shall readily take the pains to explain the sense of the catholic church hereupon, in which I readily concur and acquiesce; and I would have it to be accounted as my own.
That there was then such a covenant made with man by God, I cannot doubt in the least. I am not ignorant that the school of Socinus (wbich taketh too] d great a liberty of interpreting Scripture against the consent of the catholic church) flatly denies it, affirming the law given to Adam to have been a mere law, established only with a threatening, and no covenant, or law with a promise annexed. But the contrary is most evident. For, 1, the prohibition given to Adam, concerning the not eating of the tree of knowledge, is ushered in (which very few interpreters take any exact notice of) with this express donation or grant of God, that he might freely eat of all the rest of the trees in paradise, the tree of life not excepted. Now it is certain the tree of life was so called, because it was either a sacrament and divine sign, or else a natural means of immortality; that is, because he that should have used it, would (either by the natural virtue of the tree itself continually repairing the decays of nature, or else by the power of God) have lived for ever, as God himself plainly assures us, Gen. iii. 22, 23, 24. So that the sense of this whole legislation to Adam is apparently this: “If “thou shalt obey my commandment in not eating of “ the tree of knowledge, thou mayest continue in
d Here the manuscript in the bishop's own hand begins.
e This was long ago observed by Theophilus Antiochen. 1. II. ad Autolyc. p. 101. (c. 24. p. 366.] where, speaking of the law given to the first man, he hath these words, 'Evereidato avrò åtò trávtwV των καρπών εσθίειν, δηλονότι και από του της ζωής, μόνου δε εκ του ξύλου του της γνώσεως ενετείλατο αυτό μη γεύσασθαι. .
paradise, and freely enjoy all the other delights “ thereof, not being debarred from the tree of life “ itself, which thou mayest eat of, and live for ever: “ but if thou transgress this my commandment, in
eating of the tree of knowledge, thou shalt cer
tainly die.” 2. The very commination itself, in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, manifestly implies a promise. This consequence (whatever some idle wits have fancied to the contrary) is most firm: God threateneth death to man, if he eat of the forbidden fruit; therefore he promiseth life if he do not eat. For how insignificant would have been the threatening of death to man's eating of the forbidden fruit, if he should certainly and necessarily have died, whether he had eaten or not?
However, that Adam should not have died if he had not sinned, is so manifestly the doctrine of the Scriptures, and of the church of God, both before and since Christ our Saviour's appearance in the flesh, that Pelagius of old, and Socinus in this latter age, are justly to be esteemed the most impudent of mortals for daring to call it into question. Yet because we live in an age wherein too many take the confidence κινείν ακίνητα, to shake the foundations of religion; and he is laughed at as guilty of a shameful petitio principii, that shall offer to beg any common principle of Christianity, even in a discourse with such as profess themselves Christians; I shall
f Supposing the observance of the law natural, which man had before received, even in his very creation, and which also obliged him to obey every positive precept that God should give him.
therefore (although I have already suggested such arguments as may satisfy the equal reader) give you a full state and resolution of this question in a few words of Grotius, in his approved book De Satisfactione Christi, cap. I. p. 27–31. where he thus discourseth : “For the right understanding of the “ state of this question; we deny not, that man, “ when he was created, was earthly, who had a cer“ tain vital power, but no vivific power, as Paul “ teacheth us, 1 Cor. xv. 45, 46; and so that the “ condition of his body was such, that unless God
supported it, it would have perished. But yet we
stiffly maintain, that in the decree of God he “ should not have died, if he had persisted in innocence. This the very nobility and eminence of
that creature evinceth, as being alone said to be “ created after the image of God; that is, with un“ derstanding and liberty of will, which is the foun“ dation of his dominion over the other creatures ; “ for he cannot be lord of other things, who is not “ lord of his own actions. This excellency therefore “ above other creatures is an argument, that in the “ creation of man there was designed more than a “ temporary use of him. But now what is more “ clear than that voice of God, If thou eatest
thereof thou shalt die? The act of death is here “ meant, whether that should be violent or other“ wise. Therefore this very thing, to die, would not “ have happened to man, if he had not happened to “ sin. No less clear and general is that of Paul, “ The wages, that is the punishment, of sin is “ death, Rom. vi. 23. He had before said, By sin death, and so death passed upon all men.
He saith, all men, therefore he speaks concerning the