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them? Why, they sit asking themselves these questions, which their preacher is in vain attempting to solve. How could it be just in God to make Adam my covenant head? How could Adam sin for me? How can God impute Adam's sin to me? Through what possible channel could Adam's sin reach me? What is the amount of all this on the mind of a sinner? Recollect how you felt yourself, when as a sinner you heard these things. Ask any candid man who is not of your sect, how he feels under such sermons. And what will be better than all, as a test of this matter, ask your own heart how it feels. Is it softened? is it melted with a conviction of its sinful condition? No, no! But it is lost in stupid wonder: wondering how it is possible that these things can be true, which God has declared to be true. Now, if exciting doubts and wonders respecting the truth of God's word, and the justice of the divine dispensations, be subservient of Satan's kingdom, judge ye!
But there is a far, far more loudly crying sin to answer for. When the preacher is giving him a long dissertation; shewing him exactly how it is possible that God can offer him everlasting life-the poor trémbling convict, wringing his hands, cries out aloud, I do not ask how it is possible-but I ask, does he offer it to me? When the preacher is proving to him, and showing to him in what manner the righteousness of Christ can be imputed to him, his bursting soul exclaims, I ask not in what manner it may be mine, but can I get it at all? While the preacher is proving, by a metaphysical process, that eternal life may be offered to all men, in a perfect consistency with all the divine perfections and purposes of Jehovah, the poor convict's soul cries within itself, I don't care about all that
-is there any offer of salvation for me? All this time not one word of the gospel has been preached; and the poor afflicted souls are all the time lost in doubts and wonders, HOW IT IS POSSIBLE that Jesus Christ should have suffered for them :-HOW God could possibly impute their sins to his own Son :-HOW IT IS POSSIBLE that an offer of salvation should be made to him? That is, he is tortured with questions about God's right to give salvation-Christ's right to procure salvation, and the preacher's right to offer salvation, and his own right to accept salvation; but all this time there is no salvation at all. All this time Satan looks on, rejoices that the salvation of the convict is delayed -delights in the torments of his conscience-rejoices that possibilities have been talked of, and not realities: that rights have been only demonstrated; but the thing to which the right is proved, not put into the possession of him who has a right to it: exults to see that it is considered so far a dubious point, that it requires proof that the preacher has any right at all to offer salvavation and the poor creature is led to awful doubts, whether he has any right to accept of eternal life. Now I ask, is not this doing the very thing the devil would wish you to do? If he can keep you out of pulpits, he will. If he cannot, what can he do better than to employ you in discussions which will delay the coming of the sinner to Christ-which will fill his mind with doubts about his right to come to Christ— which will call in question, whether Christ will receive him, and the Father accept him? All such discussions before a Christian congregation, (with very, very, very rare exceptions) are, What is the USE of the doctrine of Adam's representation and original sin? Aye, what is the use of this doctrine in the grand arch
of the rainbow of the covenant. For surely it is one thing to say a proposition is true, and another o determine what that truth! good for. The doctrine of Adam's representation and original sin is in the Bible; but the question is, What was it put there for, and what use ought we to put it to? Here are a few elements which I mean to make use of in solving this question, for my own individual satisfaction.
1. I will ask myself, if ever any prophet, sent by God, of old, to awaken a sinful age, awed their consciences, and enlightened their understanding, by demonstrating Adam's representative character, and proving that mankind are guilty of his sin? Or did they thunder against the sins, the actual, the peculiar sins of that very age; ardently wishing to convince men that they were sinners?
2. I shall enquire into John the Baptist's preaching, and examine how he, who came to prepare the way of our Lord, thundering the law, that Jesus might flash the light of the gospel-how he produced correction in that viperous age, when the tongue that uttered truth, sacrificed the head it belonged to. Was it by preaching the representative character of Adam and original sin or by reproving men for their sins, their own sins, their peculiar sins, with all their aggravations ?
3. I shall again read over carefully, the sermons of the master himself, who knew perfectly well how to preach his own gospel; and if I find him proving Adam's representative character, and urging home original sin on the consciences of his auditors, and proving to them that God is just in all this, then the problem will be solved. Or if I find him charging home on the age, the sins which that age had committed,
and were committing, then the problem will be solved. He himself was living law.
4. I shall next enquire how the Apostles, in the days of Pentecost, awakened sinners to a sense of their guilt.
5. I shall enquire what is the meaning of some strange things that we meet with, in the writings of some good old authors; and have often heard from the lips of some good old men; that original sin is the last sin men are convinced of.
These and some other enquiries I intend to make, will afford me a satisfaction as to what the doctrines of Adam's representation and original sin are not useful. If I find, on enquiry, that they are never once employed by the sacred inspired ambassadors of the skies, in awakening a guilty, perishing age, from the fatal se-. curity, to a sense of their sins, and a sacred terror of Jehovah's wrath, then shall I conclude, that these doctrines are of no use in awakening sinners, and bringing them to Jesus.
Ah! cries some prudent, cautious man, take care! This may excite a suspicion that that doctrine is not true, or at least, that you doubt its being useful. Well, since men must have their suspicions, let them suspect what they please. I tell them, and I tell those who deny the doctrine, that it is in the Bible. But the question is, to what end is it there? What purposes does it serve? Here is a stone; well, what is the use of it-To place in a building-to cut for a seal-to set in a ring? What is it good for?
I have as good a right to trouble the church of God as others have. And I will give this trouble to the brains of ministers, in order to save a great deal of trouble to the souls of their people. I will propose this
problem to them-What is precisely the use which the sacred writers make of the doctrine of Adam's representation and original sin?
Till this problem is solved, let them labour to convince sinners that they are sinners. No great matter how they came to be such, since they actually are so, and under an awful doom. And the moment they confess guilt, invite them to Jesus. When they are once safe in his securing arms, they can ask him many things as they lean on his bosom. He will teach every day more and more of the wickedness of their desperately wicked nature; and perhaps may lead them up to view the desperate wickedness of the whole race of men, and to see something respecting Adam's representative character. But they are his, and don't trouble them with puzzling problems. If they cannot see that they are guilty of Adam's-caution them only not to deny the doctrine, to repent of their own sins, and rely on the grace of their Lord.
When the above problem is resolved, the resolver will have a right to propose his question; and will greatly oblige me if he proposes the following: What is the precise use which the sacred writers make of the doctrine of election, and of Christ's representation?
One thing has long been ascertained, that it is not the doctrine which should be taught to poor trembling convicts under a sense of the displeasure of the Awful Supreme.