Whether we are Sinners by Natural Propaga∣tion, or by Imitation.
THere remaineth one great Doubt, Whether we are so by Natural Propagation, because born of him, or by occasion only and imitation, because he sinned? We are not (say some) made sinners as soon as we are born, but when by free-will we come to consent to sinne and choose it. Thus Pelagians of old, and Socinians of late, with ma∣ny others. Erasmus, though he saith, he holds Original sinne, yet useth all his strength to enervate the Orthodox Interpretation.
That Adam's Disobedience makes us Sinners by Propagation.
BUt there are cogent Reasons to understand it thus, That Adam's Disobedience makes us sinners by natural Propagation: As
First, Because the Apostle still chargeth our guilt and sinfulness upon Adam on∣ly, upon that one man, and upon that one offence, whereas if it were by example and imitation only, it might be upon our parents and others, and upon their transgressi∣ons: So that the Apostle might have said, By many men, and many disobediences, we are made sinners; but still he chargeth it on one man, and one offence.
Secondly, If Imitation be taken strictly, then a man must know, and have in his eye that which he doth imitate; but how many thousands are there, that runne into all excess of wickedness, and never heard of Adam, much less could not propound his sin for a patern to follow? So that even in the Pelagian sense, to be sinners by Imi∣tation cannot be properly used in this Controversie.
Thirdly, If the Apostle understood sin only by Imitation, or occasion, not Propa∣gation, then as Austin of old well urged; it might be more properly fastned upon the Devil, as the Original; for it was not by Adam, but the Devil that sin came into the world, in this sense, and so death by sinne; Hence the Devil is said to be a man∣slayer from the beginning, Joh. 8. 44. or a murderer, and that both of souls and bodies; In somuch that the Devil was the occasion of all the wickedness, and death the consequent thereof: And hence our Saviour speaking of wicked men, Joh 8. saith, They are of their Father the Devil, and what they see him do, that they do. So that the Devil is made to be the original of sinne by imitation to wicked men, and not Adam.
Fourthly, Adams sinne must be made ours by natural Propagation, not Imita∣tion, Because death is made the necessary consequent of it all that 〈◊〉 have sinned Adam's sinne: But now death is propagated naturally; Hence Infant die, which yet according to the best Divines have not actual sinne, why 〈◊〉 it that they die? yea they are not only subject to death, but to exquisite torments and pains; Page 29 yea, Infants have been grievously possessed with the Devils, and tormented by them: Now this could not be, if they were not guilty of sia: If therefore death be by natural Propagation, then sinne the cause of it, must also be in that manner.
Fifthly, This comparison made between the first Adam communicating sin, and the second, communicating Righteousness, doth fully evince this: For we are made righteous by Christ, not only as if he were a patern, and example of Righteousness unto us, but by an hidden and secret infusion of holiness into our souls, whereby we are made new creatures, and said to be partakers of the Divine Nature: For where∣as the Papists would argue, as they think, very strongly for our Justification by inherent Righteousness from the parallel made between Adam and Christ; As (say they) we are made sinners, not by imputation onely, but by inherency through Adam's disobedience; so we must be made righteous by Christ, not by imputation, but inherently. We retort the Argument, and say, Because Adam's sin is imputed tous, wherby we are made sinners, so Christs obedience is made ours, whereby we are constituted righte∣ous: Yet we grant further, That by Christ we are made inherently righteous, though by that we are not justified; and this inward renovation comes not from Christ by example, but a powerfull and secret transformation of the whole man, so that as to partake of Adam's sinne, we must be born naturally of Adam; For if God should create some men in an extraordinary manner, not by natural descent from him, they would not have this natural contagion cleaving to them; so to partake of Christs Righteousness, it's necessary we must be new born by the Spirit of God. Thus you see many Reasons, compelling us to understand the manner how by Adam's dis∣obedience we are made sinners, to be by natural Propagation: For, if this foun∣dation be not laid sure, the whole fabrick will quickly fall to the ground. We come then to the Observation, which is,
THat all mankind by Adam's disobedience are truly and properly made sinners. The Text is so clear that we would wonder any should be so deluded, as to confront the Truth contained therein: Every one that is naturally born of Adam, is thereby, and in that respect made a sinner, though he should have no actual transgessions of his own: An Infant, that liveth not to be guilty of any actual evil, yet because Adam's seed, is thereby made a sinner, and so a child of Gods wrath. Certainly, the Apostle would not have been so large and industrious in affirming this Truth: But because of the evident necessity to know it, and the great utility that may come to us, if duly improving this knowledge. To be sure he layeth this as a foundation, to exalt and magnifie the grace of God by Christ: So that they who deny this original contagion, must needs rob Christ and his grace of the greatest part of that glory due to him.