by John Brown of Haddington
To render men more happy, and their obedience more cheerful, God hath all along exercised his providence towards them, in the form of covenant-connection. Berith, the Hebrew word for covenant, denotes an establishment in general; and hence we read of God's covenant with day and night, Jer 33:25. The Greek diatheke, also signifies an establishment, particularly one by agreement or testament, Heb 7:22; Heb 9:15.—A real covenant in general is, an agreement made between different persons on certain term.—Its necessary requisites are parties,—a condition,—a promise,—and a penalty, if any of the parties be fallible.—The covenants which God hath contracted for promoting the eternal happiness of mankind are two,—of works, and of grace, Gal 4:24; Rom 3:27; Gal 2:21; Gal 5:4; Rom 6:14; Rom 8:2; Phil 3:19; etc.
No party with whom God enters into covenant, can be at liberty to refuse his terms, or to propose terms to him, as in covenants between equals of mankind. No terms, which God, who is infinitely wise, holy, kind, and sovereign, proposes to his creatures, can be refused in a consistency with perfect purity of nature.—Nay, Jesus Christ could not have refused any terms which were proposed to him. He could not refuse them, as the Son of God; his will being the very same with that of his Father. He could not refuse them as Mediator, without disobedience to Jehovah's infinite authority. Nay, his manhood could not have refused them without sinning, which its immediate union to his divine person rendered absolutely impossible.—To pretend, therefore, that because Adam durst not refuse the terms which God proposed, there could be no covenant at all made with him, but a mere law imposed on him, plainly includes a denial that God can enter into any covenant at all, even with Christ.—If a father who hath a prior, a natural claim to the whole obedience of his son, require him to perform some particular service in order to obtain a particular reward, and mean while, furnish him with food, raiment, tools, and every thing necessary in carrying on the work,—he cannot lawfully refuse the terms; and nevertheless, when the required service is fulfilled, he hath a right, by his father's promise, to claim the reward. And if so, there is manifestly a real covenant between them. The application to our present point is obvious.
It is sufficiently evident, that a real covenant of this kind was made by God with Adam, in his innocent state. 1. In his transaction with him we have all the requisites of a covenant,—proper parties,—proper and real terms,—a condition, promise, and penalty, in case of a breach on Adam's side, who was fallible,—and proper seals, as will be afterwards more fully manifested, Gen 2:17; Gen 3:22. 2. This transaction between God and Adam is in Scripture expressly called a covenant, Gal 4:24. Here we have two covenants, one of which gendereth to bondage, which the broken covenant of works doth, in a fearful manner, 1 Cor 15:56; Gal 3:10,13, the other must therefore gender to spiritual and everlasting freedom and liberty, which it is certain the covenant of grace no less remarkably doth, Rom 8:2; Rom 6:14; John 8:32,36.—Besides the covenant of grace, which is plainly a remedial one, being published immediately after Adam's fall, necessarily supposeth the breach of an antecedent covenant of works, Gen 3:15,22; Rom 5:12-2l.—In Hos 6:7, we have also mention of this covenant with Adam. Keadam, here rendered as men, is only found in other two texts of Scripture.—In Job 31:34, our translation renders it like Adam. In Ps 82:7, a similar translation would make the passage appear much more emphatic. Ye shall die like Adam, whose honours were once so great, but quickly ruined.—In Hosea our translation renders the charge remarkably flat. But if it be rendered, "They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant," i.e. have rebelled against the highest authority, manifested in the most solemn and engaging manner,—against the strongest motives,—and in violation of the most solemn engagements,—against the most express warnings, and upon the slightest temptations, and to the ruin of themselves and their posterity;—how nervous and striking! 3. As the infinite goodness of God determines him to lay no unnecessary burden on his creatures, his prescription of a positive command to Adam, and annexing the most dreadful death to the breach of it, naturally infers his annexing of a reward to his obedience,—in which the reality of a covenant-agreement is plainly manifested, Gen 2:17. 4. When we observe that God hath ordinarily appended some visible token for establishing or sealing his covenants with men,—as the seal of the rainbow to the covenant of safety made with Noah,—the seal of circumcision to the covenant of peculiar friendship and promise of Canaan with Abraham,—the seals of the passover and sacrifices to the covenant of peculiar adoption with the Israelites,—the seals of baptism and the Lord's supper to the new covenant-dispensation of the gospel period,—we are naturally led to look on the trees of knowledge and of life as seals annexed to a covenant-transaction with Adam; the former representing him as on trial for everlasting happiness, and the latter suggesting, that, upon his fulfilment of the obedience required, he should obtain a more perfect life and happiness, than that which he enjoyed. 5. The law, imposed on Adam in his creation-state, hath been frequently published in the form of a covenant, Lev 18:5; Deut 27:26; Matt 19:17; Gal 3:12; Rom 10:5.—and is represented as a law, which admits of boasting, if perfect obedience be fulfilled, and as contrary to the law of faith, or covenant of grace manifested in the gospel, which it is only in its covenant form, Rom 3:27. 6. Nothing more effectually proves, that God made a real covenant with Adam, than the imputation of his first sin to all his natural posterity, even as the Surety-righteousness of Christ is imputed to all his spiritual seed, Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:22. His being their natural father or root could not be the foundation of this imputation, otherwise all his sins at least before he begat Seth, our progenitor, must be imputed to us,—whereas all men were constituted sinners by one offence, Rom 5:18.—Moreover, if parental relation inferred imputation of conduct to children, all the sins, if not also all the good works of our progenitors, especially of our immediate parents, must be imputed to us, whereas all men were constituted sinners by one man's disobedience, and died in Adam, Rom 5:19; 1 Cor 15:21-22.
The parties contracting in this covenant were, I. God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, considered as the Creator, Sovereign, Proprietor, and Governor of mankind.—In his proposal of it, he appears as, 1. A God of supreme, unbounded authority, stamping his mere will into a law, to be obeyed under the highest penalty, and disposing of eternal life on what terms he pleased. 2. A God of unbounded goodness, in establishing with Adam, whom he had newly created, perfectly holy and happy, a most proper method of making him and all his posterity eternally more happy, on the easiest terms. 3. A God of infinite condescension, entering into a covenant with his creatures, and requiring that obedience by paction, which he might have required by mere authority. II. Adam, considered, 1. As a man perfectly holy and righteous,—perfectly inclined and capable to fulfil whatever obedience God required, Eccles 7:29; Gen 1:27; Gen 5:1; Col 3:10; Eph 4:24. Nor indeed would a kind and righteous God have required any obedience from him, but what he had made him capable of performing, Matt 25:24; Ps 119:68; Ps 86:5,15; Deut 32:4. 2. As a common public head of all his natural posterity. His being their common Parent fitted him to be their moral Head or representative in this covenant. Hence all that descend from him by ordinary generation, [WCF 6.3] and perhaps Eve also, were represented by him in it.—Indeed she fell by her own personal transgression, but so might any of the representees have done before the condition was fulfilled, the covenant confirmed, and the state of trial in it finished.—Christ being the Son of God;—being from all eternity constituted the Representative of his own elect seed in the remedial covenant of grace,—having never any human person,—and being descended from Adam, not by natural or ordinary generation, but by the supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost, in virtue of a promise posterior to his fall, John 1:14; Ps 89:3-4,19-20; Isa 7:14; Luke 1:35; Gen 3:15.—he could not be represented by him in it.
It is sufficiently evident, that Adam truly represented and stood bound for all his natural posterity in this covenant. 1. In all the occasional typical covenants which God made with men, the parent in some sense represented his posterity; as Noah, Gen 9:9; Abraham, Gen 17:7-8; David, 2 Sam 7:16; Phinehas, Num 25:10-13; the Israelites, Isa 59:21. 2. In this matter, Adam is represented as similar to Christ, 1 Cor 15:21-22,45-49; Rom 5:12-21. And as Christ and his spiritual seed are called by the same name of Jacob, Israel, and Christ,—so Adam's posterity are, in the Hebrew original, called by his name about four hundred and thirty times. 3. Adam's breach of this covenant is by an infinitely righteous God imputed, or stated in law-reckoning, to the account of all his natural posterity,—even though they never live to imitate him in actual sin, Rom 5:12-19.—How could this take place, but upon the foot of their covenant representation in him? 4. All his natural posterity are constituted sinners, and ruined in law, by the one offence of his first sin, Rom 5:17-18.
God's entering into covenant with all mankind in Adam was most reasonable and kind. 1. It was the shortest way in which they could obtain everlasting happiness. In this method, one man's perfect obedience to God's law for a time, perhaps a very short time, would have secured this happiness to all mankind;—whereas, had each man stood bound for himself, it would have continued in suspense to many of them, who knows how long. 2. It plainly appeared the safest method. Adam, being formed in an adult state, perfectly holy, fully able and inclined to fulfil the whole law of God,—and living while Satan was less crafty, and there were fewer occasions of temptation,—and having the strongest motives,—regard to his own, and to all mankind's happiness, to engage him to care, activity, and perseverance in his work,—promised fairer to retain his perfection and persevere in his obedience, than any of his seed.—Adam was the most fit person of mankind to be the covenant-head and representative of all the rest. Being their common parent, he was most equally related to them all. He had stronger motives and better opportunities to persevere in perfect obedience, than any other could have.—In fine, an infinitely wise, holy, just, and good God, having chosen him for their Head, and included this representation of them in his proposal of his covenant-favours, none of his posterity, if they had been all alive on the spot, could, without sin against God,—without self-injuring folly, have withheld their consent, Ps 119:68; Gen 18:25; Deut 32:4; Eccles 3:14; Eccles 7:13.
Though this covenant was proposed by God, the great lawgiver, to his newly-created subjects, and on that account is frequently called the Law, or Law of Works, Rom 7:4; Rom 6:14; Rom 3:27, etc. Adam could not but consent to the terms of it.
1. Being God's rational creature, subject to his sovereign dominion, he was bound to accept whatever terms he proposed, and to receive his favours, in whatever method he pleased to bestow them.—Not to have desired and embraced the promise, would have implied contempt of God's goodness and bounty.—Not to have readily received the precept, would have implied hatred of his holiness, and rebellion against his authority.—Not to have submitted to the penalty, would have implied a denial of his justice and authority.—Not the smallest degree of any of these could have consisted with perfect innocence. 2. The natural love which uncorrupted man bore to himself, naturally carried him out toward God, as his chief good; and consequently to the only way of enjoying him as such. 3. Adam's pure conscience could not but perceive and attest that the whole tenor of this covenant was very acceptable and gracious, viz. That he should hold God as his chief good, and seek happiness in him above all things else; that he should cheerfully accept of the everlasting enjoyment of him, an infinite good, when offered upon the easiest terms; that he should cheerfully receive that law, which was the will of his Creator, and a transcript of his moral perfections to be the rule of his dispositions and conduct; and that he should submit his guilty head to God's just vengeance, if he contemned his gracious promise, and violated his holy law.—In God's proposal of the terms to Adam, and in his acceptance of them, and thus reciprocally engaging themselves, each to other, the making of this covenant consisted.—Adam's consent to the terms, actually instated him in this covenant, even as our believing consent to the terms of the covenant of grace actually and personally instates us in it.
The parts of this covenant of works were the Condition, Promise, and Penalty.—The condition was, that which God required Adam to fulfil in order to acquire a right for himself and his posterity to the promised reward.—The promise was, God's engagement or declaration of his will to bestow eternal life on Adam and all his natural posterity, as the reward of his fulfilment of the condition.—The penalty was, that punishment which God threatened and had to inflict on Adam and his seed, if he did not perfectly fulfil that condition.
Obedience to God was, and must be, the condition of the covenant of works,—the Rule, Matter, and Manner of which require our consideration.—Concerning the rule of this obedience, or law of the covenant, it may be observed, 1. The natural relation between God as a Creator, Preserver, and Governor, and man as a rational creature, necessarily required that God should prescribe a law to him, which should not only regulate his actions, but also the moral qualities of his nature; and that the leading commandments of it should be founded upon the unchangeable nature of God,—that so all men, at all times, might have their dispositions and behaviour adjusted by the same standard. 2. This law must be duly made known to man, that it might be obeyed without mistake.—It was manifested to Adam before the covenant form of it was proposed to him,—being written in his heart, and inlaid in the image of God, which was concreated with and in his nature, Gen 1:26-27.—It summarily required him, as he should have opportunity, to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, Matt 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-33. 3. The end of this covenant being to render men more happy than when they were newly created, it was very proper that, to the law of nature written on man's heart in his creation, some positive precept should be added, and especially one that might promote his exact fulfilment of the whole condition.—That which God actually prescribed was, that Adam should never eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which, growing in the midst of the garden of Eden, where he was lodged, was almost continually in his view. This command was remarkably calculated, 1. To manifest God's high sovereignty over man, as one who could enact his mere will into a law,—and try man's obedience in a point which his enlightened conscience did not dictate, but which manifested his entire subjection to the mere will of God. 2. To render Adam's obedience or disobedience more conspicuous, that God might appear most just in bestowing the reward or inflicting the punishment on him and his seed, Ps 51:4; Rom 3:3-4,8-18,25-26. 3. To mark that Adam held all that which he enjoyed of God, as his great superior, proprietor, and landlord; and so, even in paradise, durst not meddle with an apple without God's allowance, and ought to consult him in all that he did. 4. To be a perpetual monitor to Adam that he was fallible, and had need to take heed to his ways, to watch against his spiritual enemies; and that he was not come to his complete happiness and rest, since, even in his paradise, there was a want, the fruit of a tree, most delightful, was denied him; and that his chief happiness lay only in God himself, and so nothing was to be desired but only in submission to his will, and for his sake. 5. To be a summary of the law of nature imprinted on his heart,—in obedience to which, he might honour God, loving him with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and manifest a proper love to himself and to his posterity.
The matter of obedience required from Adam in this covenant, was an observance of the whole law of God, natural or positive, or a being and acting exactly according to it, from regard to its divine authority. This included, 1. The retaining of his nature in all its original purity. Without this, none of his thoughts, words, or deeds, could have been truly, perfectly, or acceptably performed, Eccles 7:29; 1 Tim 1:5. 2. An exercising all the powers of his holy nature, in thoughts, words, or deeds, answerable to the law of the covenant, Lev 27:26; Gal 3:10,12.
In respect of its manner, Adam's obedience must be, 1. Perfect in its principle and motive,—exactly answerable to every precept of the whole law,—and correspondent with all the parts and powers of his nature, soul, body, understanding, conscience, will, affections and memory, Luke 10:27-28.—in the matter, manner, means and end of the action itself;—and in degree, with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, Matt 22:37,39; Mark 12:29-33. 2. Perpetual, till God should release him from under that law, in its covenant form, Gal 3:10; Ezek 18:24. Nor, till he had finished his course of obedience, had he any legal claim to the promised reward, but was merely in a state of trial, proper for acquiring it, Gal 3:12. This state could not have been eternal, as that would have excluded all reward at the end of his service. But, when God would have removed him from it, and fixed him and his posterity under his law as a rule of life, in a manner somewhat similar to the state of believers, who are dead to the law by the body of Christ,—whether when the fruit had wholly gone off the forbidden tree;—or when he had begotten his first child;—or when his eldest children were each capable to act for himself, etc.—we know not. 3. Personal,—not that every one of mankind should have obeyed for himself, in order to found his particular claim to the promised reward: for, if death was entailed upon Adam's natural posterity by his disobedience, before any of them had actually sinned, Rom 5:12-14, eternal life must have been conferred upon them, on account of his obedience to the law as a covenant, and their own would have been at once their happy privilege, and their holy gratitude to God, under his law as a rule of life. But it was to be personal, performed by man himself, not by a surety, and begun and finished by the same person. 4. Performed in a covenant-form, in Adam's fulfilling the law, not merely as imposed on him by the infinite authority of God, but also as taken upon himself by his own engagement,—and fulfilling it in hopes of God's graciously bestowing the promised reward. If he had not thus regarded the covenant, in which he stood, in all his obedience, he had poured contempt on that graciously formed ordinance of God, in all its concerns, Judg 11:35; Ps 119:106; Ps 50:14; Num 30.
A reward of life by the promise of God, was annexed to Adam's fulfilment of this obedience. The threatening of death, in case of disobedience, especially, as annexed to the breach of a positive precept, implied, that Adam had no reason to fear the loss of his life or happiness, while he continued in his obedience; and that if he persevered in it, he might expect some great reward, sufficient to balance that death which had been annexed to the positive precept in a matter quite indifferent in itself.—God's declaration to Cain concerning acceptance and condemnation, as suspended on his good or ill behaviour,—and every republication of the covenant of works to men, plainly hinted, that it contained a promise of reward to finished obedience, Gen 4:7; Lev 18:5; Neh 9:29; Ezek 20:11; Matt 19:17; Rom 10:5; Rom 2:7,10; Gal 3:12. Nay, his annexing a gracious reward to imperfect obedience to his law as a rule of life, Ps 19:11; 1 Cor 15:58; Heb 11:6,26, confirms it. And it is observable, that all nations have had a belief of God's readiness to accept of, and reward good works.—The life with which God promised to reward Adam's fulfilment of the condition of this covenant, comprehended,
1. The continuance of that life which he had while he continued in his course of servile obedience, which includes, 1. The continuance of natural life in the matter of it; his body having in it no actual principle of death, his continued obedience to the law of the covenant barred out death from it:—in the rigour of it without any languor or decay,—though by means of labour, food, rest;—and in the pure comforts of it,—there being nothing to embitter, but every thing to sweeten these, Rom 10:5; Gal 3:12; Lev 18:5; Deut 4:40. 2. The continuance of a prosperous spiritual life,—including the continuance of God's image in its perfection on his soul;—the continuance of his favour and kindness, and of familiar intimacy with him in every ordinance suited to that state, without any hiding or frown,—and the continued comforts of a good conscience, reflecting on that which was past, and on his constant approach toward his complete and eternal reward, 2 Cor 1:12; 2 Tim 4:7-8.
2. The enjoyment of a more perfect life, after he should have finished his servile obedience;—in which, 1. Adam and his posterity should have had their bodies sealed up, and secured against natural death, and every form or degree of approach to it. 2. God would have infallibly confirmed their souls in perfect conformity to himself. 3. Their persons should have been unalterably fixed in a state of favour with him, and made honorary subjects to his law as a rule. 4. Without any breach of the union between soul and body, both should have, in God's time, been translated to heaven, there to be for ever blessed with the full and immediate enjoyment of a three-one God.
Their eternal life in heaven, would have been the same in substance with that which believers enjoy there, through Christ. 1. Reason itself suggests, that God would promise to Adam and his seed something better than that happiness which he enjoyed;—and that after his state of service, there would probably happen one of reward; and that, as the garden of Eden was chiefly calculated to promote the temporal felicity of his body, there would be a future state of happiness, chiefly correspondent with the noble nature of his soul. 2. The everlasting execution of the penalty of death in hell, especially as it was originally annexed to the breach of a merely positive command, strongly infers, that the promise of reward included an eternal life in heaven, Matt 25:46; Rom 6:23. 3. Our Saviour plainly represents the eternal life of the heavenly state as annexed to the perfect keeping of God's commandments, Matt 19:17. 4. That eternal life connected by the law with the perfect fulfilment of all its demands, is represented as the very same in substance with that which is enjoyed by faith, Rom 10:5; Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11-12. 5. Christ purchased that very life for men, which the law, on account of their sinfulness, could not confer on them, Rom 8:3-4; Gal 3:21; Gal 2:21.—Now, the law was originally ordained to be the instrument of conferring eternal life in heaven, as well as temporal and spiritual life on earth, Rom 7:10; Matt 19:17. 6. Though justification, which includes an adjudging to eternal life, be by the Scriptures declared now altogether impossible by the works of the law,—it is never hinted, that this ariseth from any other cause than man's inability to satisfy for past offences, and perform the duty which is still required, Rom 8:3; Rom 3:19-20; Gal 3:21. 7. The appending of the tree of life as a seal of this covenant, obscurely pointed out, that a more perfect life was implied in the promised reward.—Nevertheless, that eternal life which was suspended on Adam's fulfilling the condition of this covenant of works, would have been inferior to that which is enjoyed through Christ, in several very delightful adjuncts. 1. It would not have been sweetened by means of any preceding experience of sin, sorrow, fear or trouble. 2. There would have been no God in our nature in the midst of the throne, through whom, as slain and alive for evermore, we might behold God as our All-in-All, 3. Our title to our happiness would not have been confirmed in the person and death of the Son of God,—nor our charter have been a New Testament in his blood. 4. We would have had none of the delightful manifestations of God's perfections peculiar to the work of redemption. 5. Though we would have lived and reigned with God as his created servants, friends and children,—yet not as the redeemed travail of his soul, sisters, brethren, and bride.
With respect to the connection of this reward of life with Adam's obedience, it is plain, that being God's creature, preserved by him, his whole obedience was due to God, independent of any rewards. Besides, there was an infinite disproportion between the temporary obedience of a finite creature, and the everlasting enjoyment of an infinite God, for himself and all his posterity. This whole connection of such a reward with his obedience must therefore depend on the mere grace and bounty of God. God had become debtor, not properly to Adam, but to his own sovereign kindness, and his faithfulness pledged in his promise. But such is my weakness, that I cannot determine whether the bestowal of this reward, would have proceeded from his natural goodness, or merely from his sovereign will.—On the one hand, it is manifest that God could have done no injury to man, though he had reduced him to nothing that moment he had finished any prescribed course of obedience. The reward necessarily attending a course of perfect holiness, would have perfectly marked his goodness and bounty, Ps 19:11; 2 Cor 1:12. But on the other hand, it is certain that man was created with an eager desire after the enjoyment of God, as his chief good,—and that annihilation would have been the more distressing in proportion to his holiness or desire after God.—Now, I cannot conceive of God's forming a desire after himself, never to be fully satisfied, unless where sin interposes, nor of his annihilating a soul in the very moment of its ardent desire after, and delight in himself.—God cannot but love an holy creature. But, I cannot conceive how his infinite love could deny this holy and beloved creature, its wished enjoyment of himself; or, how it could admit of his annihilating such a creature, in its very act of love to him, and eager pressing after the highest degrees of holiness and love.
Death was the penalty threatened in the covenant of works, Gen 2:17. If death was annexed to the least breach of the positive precept, it could not but be annexed to the breach of the natural law written on man's heart, Rom 6:23; Ezek 18:4; Rom 2:8-9; Isa 3:11; 1 John 3:4. The emphatical form of the threatening, dying, thou shalt die, imported the infallible certainty, the unspeakable extent, and the dreadful nature of that death, Gen 2:17. It was, in general, 1. Legal death, which consists in the curse or condemning sentence of the broken law immediately fixing upon the transgressor, as a cloud hovering over his head, pregnant with God's vengeance, and as cords of death girding him so fast, that God alone can loose him, Gal 3:10; John 3:18,36. 2. Real death, which consists in the actual execution of that condemning sentence on him, from the first moment of his sinning. This may be distinguished into,
1. Spiritual death. Sin, and the curse procured by it, separating man from the favour and fellowship of God, the fountain of life, he necessarily becomes dead in trespasses and sins, Isa 59:2; Eph 2:1.—In the commencement of it, in Adam's first act of sin, is included, 1. The loss of God's image on the soul, and the succession of all manner of sinful corruption in its stead,—as of ignorance, pride, vanity, proneness to falsehood and deceit, in the understanding;—blindness, stupidity, partiality, and disorder in the conscience;—weakness with respect to good, proneness to evil, perverse wilfulness, and enmity against God in his existence, perfections, discoveries of himself, word, ordinances, people, and every other thing bearing his image, in the will;—earthliness, disorder, respecting objects and degrees, in the affections;—treacherous readiness to forget every thing good, and tenacious retention of that which is trifling and sinful, in the memory, Gen 1:26-27; Rom 1:28-31; Rom 3:10-18; Rom 8:7-8; Rom 7:8,24; Jer 17:9; Matt 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Titus 3:3; Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21. 2. The complete breach of all friendship and fellowship with God, and the succession of stated indignation, wrath, abhorrence, hidings and frowns instead thereof, Ps 5:4-6; Eph 2:3,12.—In its progress this spiritual death includes, 1. The growing strength of sinful lusts, the increasing number and heinousness of dead works, 2 Tim 3:13. 2. The infliction of God's just vengeance on the soul, in many fearful and ruinous strokes, some of them felt, as sorrows, crosses, anxieties, vexations, terrors, and despair; others of them unfelt, as judicial blindness of mind, hardness of heart, searedness of conscience, strong delusions, a reprobate sense, vile affections, slavery of Satan, etc. 2 Cor 7:10; Matt 27:3-4; Gen 4:14; Deut 28:65-67; Jer 20:4; Luke 21:26; Isa 33:14; Prov 18:14; Isa 17:11; Heb 10:26-31.—Eph 4:18; 2 Cor 4:3-4; 2 Cor 3:14; Isa 63:17; Isa 42:25; 1 Tim 4:2; Rom 11:8; Isa 66:4; 2 Thess 2:9-12; Ps 81:12; Rom 1:26-31; Titus 1:15-16; 2 Tim 3:8; Ps 109:6.
2. Natural or temporal death, which is, 1. Inward in a sinner's own body.—In his first act of sinning, man became mortal in his constitution, a slave to death, and had the seeds of it implanted in him. Terror and anxiety of mind produced a deathful motion in his blood and animal spirits, Gen 2:17; Gen 3:16,19. This death marks its progress in manifold diseases, Eccles 3:20; Gen 3:19; Deut 28:22,28-29; Matt 4:24. It is completed in the separation of the soul from the body under the curse, Gen 3:19; Jer 34:18. 2. Outward and relative, affecting those creatures upon which the natural life or health of men's body depends, Hos 2:21-22.—This began in the irrational part of the lower creation falling under the bondage of corruption for the sin of man, its immediate proprietor, Rom 8:22. Hence animals are armed against one another, especially against man; fields are turned into barrenness; the air is poisoned with pestilential vapours; the sea rageth in tempests; the winds are bleak, cold, and stormy,—all being fitly framed together for promoting man's death.—It increases in their becoming worse and worse. The earth was rendered much more unhealthful by the flood; the air was more thoroughly poisoned; and a shortening of man's life ensued.—Still things grew worse and worse; fertile fields are turned to barrenness, sunk by earthquakes, marred by volcanoes, etc. Hence human life is but about a fourteenth part of what it once was, Ps 107:33-35; Ps 90:7-10; Ps 102:26.—It will be completed, when the present frame of this lower world shall be dissolved, the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works in it be burnt up, Ps 102:26; 2 Pet 3:10.
3. Eternal death, in which natural and spiritual death are united, and the penalty carried to the highest extent; hence it is called the second death, Rev 20:6,14.—As this death proceeds from the penal sanction of the covenant of works, it includes in it the complete loss of every thing good or agreeable, earthly, heavenly, or divine, Luke 12:20; Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15; Matt 25:41; and the enduring most tremendous torments in soul and body, till infinite satisfaction be made for sin, Matt 25:41; Mark 9:49; Rev 14:10-11; Ps 90:11; Luke 12:58-59.—As it falls on a finite and sinful creature, it includes the irrecoverableness of God's image and favour, Hos 9:12; Ps 77:7-9; Heb 10:26-27;—a constant and agonizing despair of relief, Mark 9:44-45,48-49; a constant subjection to the full power and violence of indwelling lusts, pride, envy, malice, etc. Rev 16:10-11,21 and all in eternal duration, 2 Thess 1:7-9; Rev 14:9-11; Matt 25:41,46; Isa 33:14.
This penalty of the broken covenant of works flows from the natural perfections of God;—not from any mere act of his will, as the making the covenant doth. 1. The Majesty of God the covenanter, being infinite, every act of disobedience to the law of the covenant must be high treason against infinite dignity and goodness,—a contempt of, and rebellion against infinite authority, and an attempt against the infinitely precious life of God,—and hence can deserve nothing less than infinite punishment. Being thus objectively infinite, and nothing less than the blood of God capable to balance its guilt, or purge from its pollution, it must continue for ever; and so the punishment of it on a finite person must be extended through all eternity.—God, who is El Kane, a jealous God, ready to resent the injuring any thing dear to him, must avenge himself of such a criminal.—He cannot conceal his majesty, when sinful worms attempt to rob him of it, trample it under foot, and enthrone themselves in opposition to him; but the whole earth ought to be filled with the glory of the Lord, Exod 20:5; Isa 51:4; Isa 5:16; Num 14:21. 2. The holiness of God's nature requires such a penalty annexed to sin. Being infinitely holy, he cannot admit men, defiled and enslaved by sin, to fellowship with him,—nor, in consistence with his own curse lying on them, can he grant them a sanctified nature to qualify them for it.—He cannot, with pleasure, behold that which is an abomination to his soul; nor can he but hate those in whom this abomination is loved and reigns, Ps 5:4-5; Ps 11:6-7; Hab 1:12-13; Jer 44:4; Prov 16:5; Prov 6:16; Zech 11:8,—If holiness be his very image, he cannot, without appearing as sinful, forbear to shew his detestation of sin, Ps 50:21, and hence is represented as sanctified in the punishment of it, Lev 10:3; Ezek 38:16; Isa 5:16; Josh 24:19. 3. It hath already been proved, that the justice of God necessarily requires his punishment of sin, he cannot be just without giving every one his due, either in himself, or in his representative and surety, Rom 1:32; Rom 2:2; Jer 5:5,7,9; Gen 18:25; Ps 11:6-7.—God's judgments are not called his strange act or work, on account of their disagreeableness to his good and merciful nature,—but because they are much less common on earth, than his merciful providences, Isa 28:21. He hath no pleasure in the death or misery of his creatures in itself, Ezek 33:11; Ezek 18:32; Lam 3:33; Hos 11:8; but he relisheth it as a vindication of his own perfections, Deut 32:35-36,41-43; Isa 1:24; Hos 10:10; refresheth himself with it, Amos 5:9. Dutch Version.
The seals of this covenant, by which the promise and threatening in it were confirmed, were, 1. The tree of knowledge of good and evil, so called, because God, by it, put man to the trial of his obedience or disobedience; and by eating the fruit of it, man experimentally knew the good which he had lost; and the evil which he had incurred. This, like the seal of the rainbow, in Noah's covenant, might only be looked at; and it sealed eternal happiness to men upon condition of fulfilling the law of the covenant, and infinite misery if it was broken, Gen 2:17. 2. The tree of life, the fruit of which perhaps invigorated the human body; but certainly was a pledge of an eternal life, in consequence of fulfilling the condition of the covenant, Gen 3:22; Gen 2:9. And hence Christ as enjoyed in heaven is called by its name, Rev 2:7; Rev 22:2.
Nothing but sin against God, in want of conformity of heart or life, or in transgression of his law, which prescribed the condition of the covenant, could break it, 1 John 3:4; Rom 4:15; Rom 5:13. But, that it hath been broken is evident. 1. Sin, in innumerable forms, rages or reigns every where in the world, Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Gen 13:13; 2 Kings 17:7-23; Ps 14:1-4; Ps 53:1-4; Isa 59:1-15; Isa 5:5-23; Mic 7:1-5; Matt 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 3:10-18; 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 2:1-3,12; Eph 4:17-19; Eph 5:5-6; Phil 3:18-19; Titus 3:3; 2 Pet 2; Rev 17. 2. All men are by nature imprisoned for their debts and crimes, Isa 42:6-7; Isa 61:1-2; Zech 9:11-12. 3. All men have contracted an habit of covenant-breaking, Rom 1:31; Ps 78:10,37,57; Isa 48:8. 4. This world is every where marked with the wrath of God, Rom 1:18; Gen 7; Gen 19; Exod 7-14; Josh 6-12; Isa 1; Isa 24; Isa 34; Jer 1-52; Luke 19; Luke 21; Matt 24; Rev 6-20. 5. A new covenant of redemption is revealed by God, Isa 42:6-7; Isa 49:1-12; Isa 53:10-12; Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10-12; Ps 40:6-8; Ps 89:3-4; Gen 3:15; Gen 17:7.
This covenant of works was broken by Adam's eating the forbidden fruit, in which sin he, 1. Doubted the peremptoriness and veracity of the threatening, and of God's perfections connected with it. 2. His understanding being darkened, his affections and will conceived a lust after that fruit, imagining that his eating of it would render him wise and happy as God. 3. He completed his offence, in his actual taking and eating of that fruit, Gen 3:3-6.—This, his first sin, included, 1. Horrid unbelief, insomuch that Satan, in the form of a serpent, was believed in opposition to God, 1 John 5:10; Gen 2:17; Gen 3:4-6. 2. Pride, ambition, bold and presumptuous curiosity, Gen 3:5; Isa 14:13-14. Our first parents were in paradise, and lords of this lower world; but nothing would content them but to be as God. They knew and enjoyed very much; but they coveted the knowledge and enjoyment of every thing. 3. Shocking ingratitude and discontentment. They had every thing useful or delightful. They were the envy of devils, the companions of angels, lords of animals, of every thing on earth, but one tree; and yet grudged their maker and benefactor that small reserve for his own peculiar property, Gen 2:7-25; Gen 3:5,8. 4. Contemptuous apostacy from, and open rebellion against God. They renounced his covenant of friendship, and threw off all subjection to, or professed dependence on him, Ps 2:3; Gen 2:16-17; Gen 3:3-6. 5. The whole law of God was broken in this one act. The authority of God, which is the foundation of it, was trampled on: That love which is the fulfilment of it was neglected, and enmity admitted in its stead. The positive precept which was a summary of, and fence to the moral ones, was contemned, and expressly violated. Nay, in this sin, every particular command of the moral law was broken in many different respects.
Adam's first sin, by which he brake this covenant, was exceedingly aggravated. 1. It was committed by one who had been newly created in the image of God, perfectly holy and righteous, and able to continue such, Gen 1:26-27; Gen 5:1; Eccles 7:29. 2. It was occasioned by fruit of small importance, of which Adam had not the least need, 2 Sam 12:1-14. 3. As it respected that which had been set apart by God for his own service, it amounted to a sacrilegious robbing of him, Mal 3:9. 4. It was committed in paradise, where man had every thing delightful and engaging to obedience,—where God dwelt as in his temple, and every thing proclaimed his infinite kindness to mankind, Deut 32:15; Hos 13:6. 5. It was committed on the very day on which he was created, or not long after, Ps 49:12. 6. It was committed on a single, and but a slight temptation, Gen 3:3-6. 7. It was committed against God's express command, and the most plain warning of the danger, Gen 2:17. 8. It was committed almost immediately after God had entered into covenant with them.
In this first sin of Adam, I. God left him to the freedom of his own will. This freedom of will did not consist in any immutable, though voluntary, attachment to good, like that which God, holy angels, or glorified saints have; nor did it consist in having one inward principle inclined to good, and another to evil, in the manner of believers on earth; nor in a fixed, voluntary inclination to evil, as devils and wicked men have;—nor even in any equal inclination to good and to evil; for man was made upright, and in the image of God, Eccles 7:29; Gen 1:26-27; Gen 5:1. But, it consisted in his being seducible to evil, though he was inclined only to good. God created him perfectly holy, and able to keep his whole law, natural or positive, and to resist every temptation. He gave him a heart wholly and only inclined to that which is good, but subject to change, and that only by his own will and deed. Natural immutability in goodness and holiness being the peculiar property of godhead, could not be conferred on Adam, Mal 3:6; Ps 102:26-27; James 1:17. God's rendering him immutable in holiness by an act of grace, in the manner of established angels and glorified saints, could not have consisted with the tenor of the covenant made with him; would have confounded his state of service with that of his honorary reward. Being therefore thus actually changeable, God neither forced, nor tempted, nor inclined him to any change, but so left him to himself, that he, and he alone, could change the inclination and choice of his own will from good to evil. II. Satan very craftily tempted him to evil. 1. He chose a subtile and simple-like serpent, or perhaps one very beautiful, which might be taken for an angel, to be his instrument in the temptation; and to mark his triumphant victory over mankind by it, he hath caused multitudes of them, to this day, to worship him in serpents. 2. In the absence of her husband, he tempted Eve, who, perhaps, had heard the terms of the covenant only from Adam. 3. He moved a doubt concerning the prohibition of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, in such ambiguous terms, that it was difficult to know whether he meant to ask, Whether God had really forbidden them to eat of that fruit; or if he meant to insinuate, that the forbidder of that excellent fruit could not be the true God, who had so lately created them to partake of his favours;—or that God, who had forbidden such a thing, was an hard master. 4. Finding that Eve adhered to God's commandment, he laboured to render the truth of the threatening apparently doubtful, if not improbable or impossible. 5. He pretended an earnest desire to promote their knowledge and happiness; and improved the name and sight of the tree to further his temptation. 6. Perhaps he pretended, that he had acquired his own superiority in knowledge above other brutes by eating of that fruit. But he certainly introduced his plain contradiction of God's threatening by a solemn appeal to him concerning the usefulness of the fruit. 7. Having prevailed on Eve, he by her tempted Adam, who was no doubt the more readily deceived, as he saw that she did not immediately die by eating of the fruit. III. Being left by God to the freedom of his will, Adam abused it, and complied with Satan's temptations.—This compliance was entirely his own deed. Though God did not give him such measures of grace, as actually to make him overcome the temptation, yet he gave him as much as was sufficient to have enabled him to withstand it, had it been rightly improved. An infinitely holy, righteous, and good God could neither force, incline, nor tempt him to sin. And as he was fully master of his own will, neither Satan, nor Eve, could force him to it.
By this one offence of Adam, the covenant of works was broken in different respects. I. The law of the covenant was violated in all its parts,—was fully violated, in the sinfulness of man's nature and act, Gen 3:11; Gen 2:17; 1 John 3:4; Matt 19:17. And Adam having sinned as our covenant-head, his sin itself in its fault, and in its guilt or chargeableness by law in order to punishment, is really ours, and accordingly is legally imputed to, and charged upon us, by an holy and righteous God. 1. Scripture plainly represents this sin as imputed to all his natural posterity, Rom 5:12-19. 2. All men are represented as under a sentence of condemnation on account of Adam's first sin, from which they cannot be delivered but by Christ, 1 Cor 15:22; Rom 5:15-19; Eph 2:3; Rom 8:1-4,33-34; Gal 3:13. 3. All men are naturally under the power of spiritual death, in all its ingredients, Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Ps 14:2-3; Ps 53:2-3; Ps 51:5; Ps 58:3; Job 14:4; Job 15:14-15; Jer 17:9; John 3:6; Matt 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Rom 5:12; Rom 8:7-8; Rom 3:9-23; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3; Titus 3:3. 4. Experience loudly attests the universal corruption of mankind. Christ alone excepted, all men, in every age and place, have run into moral evil, as soon, and as far, as their abilities and opportunities permitted; and have proceeded from one evil to another still worse.—Their inclinations to it being early and universal, they have, contrary to the severest laws of God and men,—contrary to the dissuasions and determents of providence,—contrary to their most solemn vows, promises, and oaths,—contrary to their most candid resolutions, and even the largest measures of grace bestowed on earth, spoken and done evil things as they could, and thus marked their mind, conscience, will, affections, and memory, to be dreadfully infected with all the abovementioned plagues, and their bodily members ready instruments of unrighteousness.—There are manifestly much larger degrees, and measures, and multitudes of sins in this world, than of holiness and virtue. Notwithstanding all the means used, by God and men, to prevent or purge out wickedness, and promote virtue, the most of men, in all ages and places, have been manifestly and often outrageously wicked; and the very best exceedingly defective.—As if fond to testify their approbation of Adam's first sin, men have universally imitated it in their sinful curiosity,—in their rushing upon that which is forbidden,—in their readiness to hearken to seduction,—in their bodily eyes, or other senses, blinding those of their mind,—in their caring for their body, at the expence and eternal hazard of their soul,—in their discontentment with their present lot,—in their being more easily influenced by evil counsel than by good,—in their pitiful shifts to help themselves and cover their shame,—in their attempts to flee and hide themselves from God,—in their aversion to be affected with, or confess their sin,—in their extenuating and excusing their sin, and transferring the blame of it upon others, especially on God himself. 5. Without supposing men chargeable with sin from their very conception, and that their soul is formed under a charge of guilt, and a condemning sentence of God on account of it, it is impossible to conceive how an infinitely righteous, holy, and good God, could create it destitute of original righteousness;—or how our nature, in its very formation, becomes corrupted with sin. If we are not formed under guilt and the curse, why is not sinful corruption prevented, and holiness implanted? 6. The misery and death which happen to infants in every age, particularly by the flood, the destruction of Sodom and the cities about, and the manifold ravages and destructions of cities and nations, prove that they are chargeable before God with some grievous transgression: Otherwise God, who is infinitely merciful, would never so early and so wrathfully destroy the most excellent work of his hands. 7. The parallel between Adam and Christ manifestly proves, that as in Christ elect men fulfil the law, and live, so in Adam all men are constituted breakers of the law, and die, Rom 8:4; Gal 2:20; 1 Cor 15:21-22,45-49; Rom 5:14-19; Rom 7:4. II. The law of the covenant being thus broken by Adam, in his own and in the name of all his posterity, they lost all encouragement to obedience from the covenant-promise of eternal life. The promise being altogether undermined by his sin, all prospect or hope of the reward contained in it, and all capacity of earning a claim to it, upon the foot of that promise, were for ever utterly lost, Rom 3:23; Rom 8:3,7-8. III. The blessings of the covenant being lost, the favour of God forfeited, and eternal life by the works of the law rendered impossible, the curse or condemnatory sentence of the covenant seized upon the transgressors, and bound them over to death. It seized on Adam and Eve, in the first moment of their sinning, Gen 3:16-19. And it lay ready in the threatening to seize their posterity in the first moment of their personal existence, or even to bring them into existence at their destined moment, in the most wretched condition, Rom 5:12-14; Eph 2:1-3; Gal 3:10. IV. The representation in the covenant was dissolved, and every particular person of mankind fell bound for himself. Adam, being now dead in law, and under the begun reign of spiritual death, was no longer fit to continue the head and representative of others, in a covenant which was originally ordained unto life.—Moreover, the displacing him from his covenant headship was necessary, that the covenant of grace might be immediately administered, and that he and Eve, with their seed, might have the most early, and the most unhampered access to it.
Nevertheless, the covenant of works was not utterly abolished. The law of it, with respect to every thing moral in itself, still remained unaltered.—And the demand of infinite satisfaction for sin, answerable to the threatened penalty, was superadded to the original one of perfect obedience, as the absolutely necessary condition of eternal life. The natural law of the covenant, being founded on that relation which subsists between God and men as his rational creatures, it behoved to continue while that relation continued.—The penalty, flowing from the very nature of God, and corresponding with his relation to men as his subjects, must be as unalterable as the law itself. 1. Man's sin could not deprive God of his rightful sovereign dominion over him, or free him from his obligation to due obedience, Ps 83:18; Dan 4:35; Job 35:6,8. 2. The Scriptures never hint that this law, in its federal form, was utterly abolished, but represent it as unalterable, Matt 5:17-18; Matt 19:17; Rom 10:5; Rom 3:31; Rom 8:3-4; Gal 3:10,12-13. 3. They represent our inability to fulfil the law, not any detachment of the promise of life to the fulfiller, from it, as the reason that we cannot be justified by it, Rom 3:10-20; Rom 8:3-4; Gal 3:10,12,21. 4. Believers' entrance into a state of life, or of deliverance from this law, is founded upon their complete fulfilment of all its demands in Christ their surety, Rom 8:3-4; Rom 7:4; Rom 10:4; Rom 3:31; Phil 3:9; 2 Cor 5:21.—In vain it is objected, that man is not now in a friendly covenant with God; that God cannot demand from men that which they are unable to perform; that it would be unbecoming a sinful and accursed creature to trust in, and love God as his own God. For, though man hath forfeited all friendly connection with God, he is still his rational creature. Man's disqualifying himself for obedience cannot deprive God of his right to demand it. Ought God to be punished with the loss of his authority, if men rebel against it?—Cannot God require obedience of his morally incapable subjects, for wise ends, such as to convince them of their sinfulness, and to make their conscience approve their punishment? If God be presented to men as a suitable Saviour, why may they not trust in, and love him? If anything in God be terrible to them, they have themselves to blame for it. From the beginning it was not so. Nay, are not the damned in hell for ever bound to love God, on account of those very excellencies which he manifests in their destruction.
All men are naturally under the covenant of works, in its matter and form. 1. The Scriptures plainly represent them as under it, Gal 3:10,12. Matt 19:17; Rom 3:19; Rom 7:8-9. 2. None but Christ's little flock are represented as delivered from, and dead to the law, or covenant of works; and that never till they be united to Christ, in their effectual calling, John 3:18; Rom 8:1-2,4; Rom 7:4; Rom 6:14; Gal 2:19-20; Gal 3:13; Gal 4:4-5; Col 3:3. It hath been pretended, that if unconverted gospel-hearers be under the command of the covenant of works, they must be required by it to seek justification by their own works, while at the same time the gospel requires them to receive it through the righteousness of Christ. But, 1. Adam was not required to seek justification by his perfect obedience, but to perform it, in hopes of God's graciously accepting and rewarding him. 2. Though the covenant of works had required him to seek justification by his own perfect obedience, it cannot therefore bind men to seek or expect justification by works, the best of which are an abomination to the Lord, Isa 64:6; Prov 15:8; Prov 21:24,27; Prov 28:9. 3. The covenant of works cannot now bind men to seek justification by their works, when even infinitely valuable obedience cannot satisfy its demands, without full satisfaction for offences already committed, Heb 9:22; Rom 3:24-26; Rom 5:6,8,10; 1 John 4:9-10. 4. Since the law of the covenant of works requires men to believe every thing which God reveals, and to receive whatever he offers; it must necessarily require every gospel-bearer, as utterly unable to fulfil it himself,—to believe the gospel record, and receive the law-magnifying righteousness of Jesus Christ offered in it, and that under pain of redoubled guilt and punishment, John 3:18,38; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 5:10,12; Heb 10:29.
All men by nature, and even believers, in so far as they are unrenewed, desire to be under the covenant of works, and to obtain happiness by their own righteousness, or the condition of it. 1. It is natural to men, and hence men of every form or religion, station, office, education, or manner of life, agree in it, Rom 9:31-32; Rom 10:3; Jon 1:16; Matt 19:16; John 6:28; Acts 2:37; Luke 15:19. 2. Our own working or suffering, in order to obtain happiness from God, is exceedingly suited to the pride of our corrupt nature, and makes us to look on God as our debtor, Rom 10:3; Rom 7:9,13; John 5:45; Isa 58:3. It is like pangs of death to quit our hold of the law, Rom 7:4,9; Gal 2:19. 3. Men's ignorance of the extensive and high demands of the broken law, and of their own utter inability to keep it,—or their care to abridge their apprehensions of them, and to enlarge their conceit of their own ability, mightily promote their desire to be under it, Rom 7:9-13; Rom 10:3; Gal 4:21. 4. Men have naturally a peculiar enmity against God and his gracious method of redemption,—against Jesus Christ and his whole mediation, particularly his sacrificing work; and hence love to oppose the honour of it by cleaving to legal methods of obtaining happiness, Rom 8:7; John 15:24; Rom 10:3; Rom 9:32; Rom 5:21; Gal 2:21. 5:2,4.
Not only doth the Spirit of God make use of the broken law in the awakening, conviction, and illumination of sinners' consciences, but even in itself it hath a manifold power over them. 1. It still retains its federal commanding power over them, binding them to fulfil the most perfect obedience, under pain of infinite punishment for the smallest offence,—even while the curse of it allows them no spiritual strength, but subjects them to the dominion of indwelling sin, Luke 10:27-28; Gal 3:10. 2. It hath an excluding power, by which it shuts out men from all happiness or solid hopes of it, unless its, to them impossible, condition of perfect obedience and infinite satisfaction for sin be completely fulfilled, Matt 19:17; Gal 3:10,12,21; Gal 4:24; Rom 10:5; Mic 6:7-8. It refused to justify Christ upon any lower terms, Matt 3:15; Luke 24:26; Heb 5:8; Heb 2:10.—The convincing and distressful influence of the law upon men's consciences, arises from this commanding and excluding power of it. 3. It hath an irritating power, by which its commands and threatenings, fixing on men's consciences, occasion their becoming more and more wicked,—even as the stirring of wasps' nests makes them rage and sting the more,—the warming of serpents renders them more mischievous,—or the shining of the sun upon dunghills makes them the more noisome, Rom 7:5,7-13; Acts 7:54; Matt 7:6; Hos 11:2. In this irritating power, the following things are observable: 1. The commands and threatenings of the law, being closely applied to sinners' consciences, lay them under fearful restraints, acting as an austere master, that, with the lash in his hand, issues forth his commands, Gal 3:10; Isa 3:11; Ezek 18:4; Rom 2:8-9. 2. It doth not in the least remove their enmity against God, or inability to obey its commands; but by its curse fixes men under the dominion of indwelling sin, Gal 3:22; 1 Cor 15:56; Rom 6:14; Rom 7:4; Rom 8:2; John 1:17. 3. Every felt restraint of their inward lusts awakens their rage against the law, and God the lawgiver, on account of the strictness of its precepts, and the dreadful nature of its penalty, Rom 4:15; Rom 7:5,7-13. Men continuing under the curse, their inward lusts, from the opposition made to them, gather strength,—even as furious horses become worse when they are checked or wild bulls more outrageous when they feel the net upon them, Rom 7:5; Hos 4:16,18; Ps 81:11-12. 1. By viewing the hard and extensive commands, and the dreadful penalty of the law, their corrupt heart, foregoing all its hopes, hardens itself in secret despair, like an overridden horse, that will not answer the spur, but turns and bites his rider, Jer 2:25; Ezek 37:11. 5. Hence follows an inward rage against the holiness of God and his law, a frequent abandoning themselves to wickedness, and an improving the most alarming afflictions to render themselves worse and worse, Prov 29:1; Prov 1:29; Rom 1:26-32; 2 Chron 28:22; Isa 1:5; Jer 5:3; Isa 42:25.—4. The broken law hath a retaining power. Its curse and irritating influence concur in holding men under its dominion and influence. Its connecting eternal happiness with personal righteousness, as apprehended by them, suiting their proud inclinations, they desire to remain under it, notwithstanding its piercing them through with many sorrows. Nor do even its most dreadful demands weaken this desire, though they make men wish for mitigations of them, Gal 4:21; Rom 9:31-32; Rom 10:3; Matt 19:16-17; Mic 6:6-7; Hos 5:6. 5. The commanding power of the law being trampled on, it hath a cursing or condemning power over the transgressor, Gal 3:10,13; Prov 3:33; Isa 34:5; Deut 27:15-26; John 3:18,36. Now, to be under this curse, includes, 1. To be under the just avenging wrath of God, the great Sovereign, Lawgiver, and Judge of the world, John 3:36; Ps 7:11; Eph 2:3; Matt 25:41; Deut 29:20. 2. To be consigned by an offended and angry God into the hands of his avenging justice, to be dreadfully punished without intermission till full satisfaction for sin be made, Heb 10:31; 2 Thess 1:7-9; Luke 12:58-59; Matt 5:25-26. 3. To be separated to evil, having all happiness destroyed, and being established a mark or butt of all the arrows and plagues of infinite wrath, Ps 7:12-13; Ps 37:20,22; Ps 94:23.
All men who have not believed in Christ, are under this curse or condemning sentence of the broken covenant of works. 1. Sin, being contrary to the law of God, and his perfections therein manifested, richly deserves it, Ps 119:128; Titus 2:12; Gen 18:25; 2 Thess 1:6; Ps 119:142; Ps 11:5-7; Rom 6:23; Rom 2:2,8-9; Rom 1:32; Isa 3:11. 2. A sentence of condemnation being annexed to the breach of this covenant, the faithfulness of God must see to its full execution, Gen 2:17. 3. If Adam had fulfilled the condition of this covenant, he and all his posterity must have been justified, and adjudged to the full possession of eternal life, according to the promise of it, Lev 18:5; Rom 10:5; Gal 3:12; Matt 19:17. A divine sentence of condemnation must therefore necessarily follow upon his non-fulfilment of it, Gen 2:17; John 3:18,36; Mark 16:16; Gen 3:7. 4. Even the Son of God, when placed under this covenant, in the room of sinful men, as their surety, was made a curse, that is, laid under all the multitudes of curses due to all their sins; and had them fully executed upon him. And it is only through their union to him, as their curse-bearing and law-fulfilling Head, that they are freed from the curse, Gal 3:13; Gal 4:4-6; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 10:4; Rom 8:1,3-4,33-34; 1 Cor 1:30; Isa 45:24-25; Isa 45:17.
The condition of those that are under the curse is inexpressibly dreadful, as it infallibly engages the infinite holiness, justice, faithfulness, and power of God, 1. To withhold all real good from them, Isa 59:2; Jer 2:17,19,25. 2. To bring all real evil upon them in such manner, form, period, and by such means as do most contribute to manifest the glory of his avenging wrath, Ezek 18:4; Isa 1:20,24; Isa 3:11; Rom 2:8-9; 2 Thess 1:7-9; Rev 14:9-11; Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15. 3. To make all things, however good in themselves, work together to promote their misery, Deut 28:15-18; Eccles 1:18; Isa 6:9-10; Rom 11:32-33; Rom 11:8; 1 Pet 2:8.—And indeed, as the nature of sin lies in disconformity to the commands of God's law,—the nature of punishment lies in its proceeding from the curse of it lying on the sufferer. 4. To lay hold on all opportunities, in time and eternity, to execute wrath upon them in their soul, body, or relatives, Ps 37:22; 2 Pet 2:3.—In the execution of this curse does the administration of the broken covenant of works chiefly consist.
I. In this life the curse of the broken law operates on men, and renders their state fearfully sinful and miserable. Even before their birth, it, pregnant with wo, secures their future existence in a natural union with Adam their accursed progenitor, Rom 5:12. No death of ancestors in wars, diseases, or dangers, is permitted to prevent their existence; nor can their piety prevent the attendance of the curse, Gen 4:11,14,17-24; Gen 6:4-5; Gen 6:3; Ps 51:5. In virtue of the curse, God's providence is always making preparations for fixing it on each of Adam's destined and represented posterity. And hence the most atrocious sinners are often spared, and rendered fruitful, Ps 17:14; Job 21:11; Job 27:14.—In the moment fixed for their formation in the womb, the curse, as it were, ushers them into being, loaded with its dreadful weight, and infected with its baleful influence, Eph 2:3; Deut 28:18. In consequence of which, it all along operates on their soul, their body, their person, and their relative concerns.
1. It operates on their soul. 1. It separates it from all gracious and happy intercourse with God, in whose favour is life, Ps 30:5; Deut 29:21; Isa 59:2; Ps 5:4-6; Amos 3:3.—If God form them under this curse, it prevents his communication of any holy endowments to their soul. Hence, being formed under sin imputed, and the curse due to it, infants are destitute of original righteousness, John 3:6; Job 14:4; Ps 51:5; Eph 2:1-3.—Whatever influence the temper of their bodies may have in forming inward corruptions into particular lusts, I know not how sinful corruption could enter into our nature, at our very formation, or how it could so quickly overspread Adam's whole nature in a moment, but by the influence of an incumbent curse, withholding all sanctifying communications from God, and subjecting them to an evil conscience, and the dominion of sin; as the punishment of his commenced rebellion against God.—Though, in their adult age, men, under the curse, read or hear Christ's word, they hear not his voice, John 5:37.—Though they pray to God, he heareth not sinners, John 9:31.—Though they wait at the posts of wisdom's doors, in the ordinances of his worship, they are far from God himself, Eph 2:13. 2. The soul being thus separated from God, spiritual death preys on it, and deprives it of all that comeliness it had, and prevents what otherwise it would have had. No spiritual knowledge, holiness, or righteousness, can enter into, or continue in, the accursed soul. Hence how quickly the glory of our first parents, like that of the accursed fig-tree, withered away! Gen 3:7-8. All the powers of the accursed soul are dead while it liveth. The eyes of the understanding are shut, and, as it were, glazed in a ghastly manner; the speech of cordial prayer and praise is laid; the right pulse of affections towards God is stopt; every spiritual sense is locked up, and all within cold and stiff as a stone, Rom 1:21-32; Eph 4:17-18; Ezek 11:19; Ezek 36:26. 3. In consequence of this death, all the powers of the accursed soul become fearfully infected, in the most lothesome manner. The curse laying it under the strength and dominion of sin as a chief part of its punishment, all its powers, being destitute of true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, corrupt themselves and one another. As the accursed earth and air had their natural constitution altered to the worse, so is that of the accursed soul, with respect to every thing moral.—The understanding, that eye, or directing power of the soul, is filled with ignorance, delusion, doubting, unbelief, vanity, pride, and proneness to falsehood, 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 5:8; Eccles 3:18. No instruction, however important, can thrive on it, Matt 12:19-22; Isa 6:9-10; 2 Cor 3:14-15; 2 Cor 4:3-4. It is only in the way of removing this curse, that God himself can effectually instruct men, Isa 48:17; Gal 1:16; Gal 3:13; Gal 2:16-30. The conscience, that deputy of God, which watches over the soul, becomes stupid, dumb, erroneous, calling good evil, and evil good,—partial, easily bribed, in favours of self, or in pure prejudice against others, Judg 21:25; John 16:2; Isa 5:20-22; Matt 11:18-19; or becomes furious, rigid, and desperate, Heb 10:26-27; Isa 33:14-15; Matt 27:4; Jer 2:25. The will, that governing power of the soul, becomes weak and incapable with respect to every thing good, Rom 5:6; John 15:5; utterly averse to it, Ps 81:11; John 5:40; Hos 11:2,7; Jer 5:3; filled with irreconcileable enmity against God, in his being, his perfections, his spirit, his word, his ordinances, and providences: and what is most shocking, is filled with peculiar enmity against Christ as a Saviour, and against every gracious purpose or dispensation of God for our salvation; and the more that his redeeming grace appears in any thing, as in the priesthood of Christ, or the doctrine of free justification and happiness through his imputed righteousness, and the free grant of it to sinners in the gospel, the stronger is our enmity against it, Rom 8:7; Rom 1:30; Rom 10:3; Rom 9:32; John 15:18,24.—It is, moreover, perverse with respect to our chief end, fixing on the most trifling and detestable things rather than on God himself, Hos 10:1; Zech 7:5; Phil 3:19; 2 Tim 3:4; Ps 4:6; Rom 8:5; and so obstinate, that, till the curse be removed, not all the terrors or pains of damnation, or joys of heaven, can bow or melt it, Hos 11:2,7; Zech 7:11-12; Isa 48:4; Isa 1:5; Jer 5:3; Ezek 11:19; Ezek 36:26; Acts 7:51. The affections, those feet and arms of the soul, how slow towards, and averse from God!—How shut against receiving him or his unspeakable gift, and against every spiritual object! But how alert and ready to fly as hungry ravens or eagles on things carnal and sinful, and to grasp them fast as our all in all! Ps 4:6; Ezek 33:31; Prov 23:5; Phil 3:19; Rom 8:5. The memory, that magazine and register of the soul, how strong to retain things trifling or sinful which tend to corrupt! and how treacherous and incapable to retain any thing truly good and important! Jer 2:32; Deut 32:18; Hos 13:6.—In these three respects, Adam's nature, in the first moment of his sinning, was, and infants' souls in the very moment of their formation are, corrupted. 4. The soul being reduced to this lothesome and dreadful condition, the curse shuts it up from all inclination, care, or ability of attempting any thing proper for recovering itself, or receiving redemption from another. It shuts up men in unbelief as in a prison or grave, Gal 3:22-23; Rom 11:32; Isa 61:1; Isa 42:6-7; Ezek 37:12-13; Zech 9:11-12. Being thus buried in sinful corruption, God himself seals them up, and secures their continuance in it, Ps 81:11-12; Isa 66:4; 2 Thess 2:10-12. No door of hope remains, except in the way of his removing the curse, Ezek 18:4; Gal 3:10,13; Rom 2:8-9; Isa 3:11. Nay, every attempt to escape any other way doth but fix them more and more in their dreadful estate.—If they hear the gospel, it is to them a savour of death unto death, blinding and hardening their heart, 2 Cor 2:16; Hos 6:5; Isa 6:9-10; Isa 13:19-20,25; Rom 11:7-9. If they pray, it is an abomination to the Lord, and draws down his wrath. If they offer the most costly sacrifices to him, he abhors them, Prov 28:9; Prov 15:8; Prov 21:27; Isa 1:11-15; Isa 65:13; Hos 5:6; Mic 6:6-7. 5. The accursed soul, being thus dead and buried in sin, its corruption more and more increases, 2 Tim 3:13; 2 Tim 2:16. Matt 12:45; 2 Pet 2:20. That sinfulness of nature which dwells, reigns, and works in them, is framed into a multitude of particular lusts of the flesh and of the spirit,—correspondent with their bodily constitution, as vitiated by their own or parents' drunkenness, lasciviousness, outrageous passion, etc.—or correspondent with their particular circumstances, opportunities, temptations, etc. 2 Cor 7:1; Rom 6:12; 1 Pet 2:11; 1 Pet 4:3; 2 Pet 2:18; Eph 2; Gal 5:19-21,24; Rom 8:13; Rom 13:14.—These lusts are the members of the old man or body of sin, Col 3:5; Rom 1:29-30;—are inward tinder, answering to the sparks of Satan's temptations, John 14:30; Prov 28:26;—filthy matter, gathering into a shameful bile of wickedness, James 1:14; Matt 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Jer 4:14; Jer 6:7.—and constant opposers of the entrance or outgoing of any thing good, Gal 5:17; Rom 7:23-24.—They are represented as diverse, because of their manifold forms, Titus 3:3; ungodly, detested by God, contrary to his nature and law, and to the love and fear of him, Jude 18; 1 John 2:16; devilish, introduced and supported by Satan, and his very image on the soul, John 8:44; warring against the providence, Spirit, and grace of God, and against men's souls, and even among themselves, James 4:1; Gal 5:17; Rom 7:23; 1 Pet 2:11; worldly, reigning in the hearts of worldly men, and leading them towards the world as their portion and pattern, Titus 2:12; insatiable, Isa 57:10; Eccles 1:8; deceitful, Eph 4:22; hurtful, piercing men through with many sorrows, 1 Tim 1:9-10; burning them up, Rom 1:27; and drowning them in perdition, 1 Tim 6:9.—These lusts, receiving their dominion from the curse of the law upon the one hand, and from the choice of the sinner on the other, constantly reign, work, and manifest themselves, as they have opportunity, like an uncultivated garden, which brings forth briars, thorns, nettles, and other noxious weeds, Matt 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Rom 1:21-32; Rom 3:10-18; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Cor 6:9-10; Eph 2:1-3,12; Eph 4:17-19; Prov 24:30-31; they become more and more powerful, till they be altogether uncontroulable, Titus 3:3; 2 Pet 2:13-14,22. And that particular lust, which, from man's constitution, station, or circumstances, most easily besets, and most powerfully influences their conduct, is called their predominant lust, Heb 12:1; Ps 18:23. 6. For the just punishment of man's progress in wickedness, God, in the execution of his curse, inflicts additional plagues on them. Some of these plagues are not felt, but loved and delighted in, though dreadful in their nature, and answerable to former wickedness, Isa 6:9-10; Ps 81:11-12; Isa 1:5; Jer 5:3.—To punish man's not receiving, but rebelling against the light of his word, or of their own conscience, God gives them up to judicial blindness of mind, John 3:18; Job 21:14; Eph 4:18; 2 Thess 2:10-11; 2 Cor 4:3-4.
Isa 6:9-10; Isa 42:19-20,25; Matt 13:11; Acts 28:27; John 12:40; Rom 11:7-10.—To punish their not receiving the love of the truth, but holding it in unrighteousness, he gives them up to strong delusions, and vile practices, 2 Thess 2:10-12; Isa 66:4; Ps 81:11-12; Hos 4:17; Rom 1:18-32.—To punish their hardening themselves in sin, he gives them up to judicial hardness of heart, that neither his word nor his providence affects them, Rom 9:18; Isa 63:17; withholding his grace from them, Deut 29:4; blasting to them his ordinances, these means of softening hearts, Hos 4:17; Rom 11:8-9; Isa 6:9-10; exposing them to temptations, Deut 2:30; Ps 109:6; Rev 20:7-8; and suffering them to prosper in their wickedness, Ps 73:2-12; Job 21:7-15; Deut 32:15-18; Jer 12:1; Jer 44:17; Mal 3:15; Ps 37:35.—To punish their contempt of, and rebellion against the checks, the alarms and rebukes of their conscience, he gives them up to a spirit of slumber, and a conscience seared as with an hot iron, which neither feels, nor reproves them for their commission of the most horrid crimes, Rom 11:8; 1 Tim 4:2; Gen 6:3;—To punish their indulgence of vileness in their affections, even contrary to the strivings of their conscience, he gives them up to vile affections, disposing them to the most shocking lewdness, or the like, Num 1:26-27; Eph 4:19; Eph 5:12; 1 Cor 6:9 Gal 5:19; 1 Pet 4:3; 2 Pet 2:14; Jude 7.—To punish their sinning against common sense and rational conviction, he gives them up to a reprobate mind or sense, Rom 1:27; 2 Tim 3:8; Titus 1:16.—To punish their ready compliance with Satan's temptations, he gives him power to stand at their right hand, and reduce them to his peculiar slavery, Ps 109:6; 2 Tim 2:26.—Other spiritual plagues, which God inflicts on them, are of the tormenting kind, as discontentment, which the peace of God not ruling their heart, as it were, draws harrows of iron over their soul, making it impatient, fretful, and given to murmur at every trifle, Jude 16; Ps 37:1-7; Esther 3:5; Esther 5:13; Esther 6:12; Col 3:15; Phil 4:17.—From this inward gnawing hunger and painful thirst after happiness, while the curse debars them from it, proceed inward wrath and rage, which, like a sword or arrow, pierce them to the heart, and are as fire in their bosom, Job 5:2; Isa 48:21:—Anxiety of mind, which racks their soul, stretching it, as it were, on tenter hooks, men being torn asunder by the contention of inward lusts, Esther 5:13; Luke 8:14; Ps 7:14; and by their apprehensions of their spiritual or their eternal state, Acts 2:37; Acts 16:30; Heb 10:27, 27; Isa 33:14:—Sorrow of the world, occasioned by temporal losses, disappointments, and troubles, 2 Cor 7:10; or by their envy at the prosperity of others, Job 5:2; Col 3:5; or legal sorrow, arising from slavish fears of death and hell, Matt 27:3-4; Isa 33:14:—Terror of heart, under apprehensions of approaching misery, Gen 4:14; Deut 28:65-67; Jer 17:17; Jer 20:4; Luke 21:26; Heb 10:26-27,31; Isa 33:14:—Horror of conscience, a rising from awful convictions of guilt, felt impressions of God's wrath inflicted, or views of its certain and speedy approach, Isa 33:14; Isa 38:14; Prov 18:14; Heb 10:26-27; which is either more confused, as in Herod, Matt 14:1-2; transient, as in Felix, Acts 24:25; or abiding and violent, as in Judas, Matt 27:3-4:—and in fine, despair, Isa 17:11; Heb 10:26-31; Isa 33:14; Ezek 37:11; Jer 2:25; 2 Kings 6:34.
2. Man's body, that once glorious habitation of his soul, having partaken of forbidden fruit, swallowed down death, and became suddenly cursed, Deut 28:16,18-19. Hence, 1. There often befals it a deforming variation from the original happy constitution,—by deafness, blindness, lameness, etc. And it is merely owing to the sovereign mercy of God that all our bodies are not affected with it, 1 Cor 4:7; John 9:3. 2. Its animal constitution is changed into a correspondence with the sinful lusts of that soul with which it is united, and hence is called a vile body and sinful flesh, Phil 3:21; Rom 8:3. And being corrupted by the soul, it is a snare to it, occasioning such multitudes of filthy lusts, drunkenness, gluttony, and unchastity, that its rational powers are, as it were, depressed into a mire of corrupted flesh and blood, Rom 7:14,23-24. 3. Being thus changed, man's body, under the influence of the curse, becomes a vessel of dishonour. The drunkard renders it a common sewer or sink; the glutton makes it a filthy draught house; the covetous renders it a drudged and weary beast; the passionate renders it a burning slime pit, a lake of fire and brimstone; the unchaste renders it a furious stallion, a lecherous dog, or an abominable swine; the brawler renders it an accursed serpent to hiss forth revenge, Rom 3:9-18; Rom 1:26-28; 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Titus 3:3; 1 Pet 4:3; Jer 5:7-8; Deut 23:18; 2 Pet 2:2,22. Thus, it is the slave of manifold, cruel, and oppressive lusts, even while it, contrary to nature, appears to command the soul, 2 Pet 2:19. 4. The curse from every quarter,—from air, from earth, from sea, from beasts, from men, from angels, both good and bad, darts its empoisoned arrows, and heaps mischief upon men's bodies,—famine, war, pestilence, diseases, desolations, captivities, imprisonments, dangers, wounds, bruises, pains, etc. Deut 28:15-68; Lev 26:14-39; 2 Kings 1:2; 2 Kings 7:29; 2 Chron 21:19; Acts 12:23. 5. Meanwhile, the accursed body itself is a seed-plot of misery, and its inward corruption, especially when it meets with correspondent outward circumstances, works into unnumbered diseases, and renders our world a kind of hospital, Deut 28:22; Lev 21:18-20; Matt 4:24. 6. Man's body, being thus infected, becomes a remarkable clog to his soul in all its attempts toward spiritual exercises or happiness. Its weakness or weariness occasions slumber, sleeping, or uneasiness in the worship of God. Cares for its welfare or honour, prevent serious care or thoughtfulness about things spiritual or eternal. Its health and sickness, in different forms, hinder concern about true and everlasting happiness, Mal 1:13; Matt 26:40,43; Matt 6:26-34; Luke 10:40-41; Luke 12:16-20.
3. Men's persons and all their relative concerns are affected by this curse. 1. They themselves, soul and body, are thereby, and from their own choice, the subjects and slaves of Satan,—his lawful and sure captives, plagued with his delusions, harassments, and drudgery, 2 Tim 2:26; Isa 49:24; Isa 61:1; who cannot be delivered from his additional chains and burdens, but by the infinite merits, the almighty power and grace of Christ, Zech 9:11; Isa 49:24-26; Matt 12:29. 2. Every thing connected with their accursed person is accursed to them for their sake. Their character is cursed with shame and dishonour, and the higher they rise in the world, this the more remarkably appears, Ps 57:4; Job 5:2; Deut 28:27; Ps 22:6; Ps 69:19-20.—The employment of their mind or hand, as cursed, issues in vanity or mischief, Deut 28:17; Hag 1:6-7; Eccles 1:13.—Their substance, being cursed, groans to escape out of their hands, is consumed by a secret fire of God's wrath, or flies toward heaven to bear witness against the abusers of it, Rom 8:21; Job 10:26; Prov 23:5; Hos 2:9.—Their outward lot, whether prosperous or afflicted, as cursed, decoys or drives their soul from God, Job 21:8-15; Deut 32:15-18; Hos 13:6; Luke 12:16-20; Prov 1:32; 2 Chron 28:22; 2 Kings 6:33; Job 35:10; Isa 1:5; Jer 5:3; Jer 43-44.—The word and ordinances of God, these means of grace and salvation, and all the opportunities of attending them, are cursed to them, and tend to their hurt, 2 Cor 2:16; Rom 11:9; Ps 69:22-23; Isa 6:9-10; 2 Thess 2:11-12; 2 Pet 2:20-22; John 15:22,24; Matt 11:21-23; 2 Cor 4:3-4.—Their relations being cursed to them, increase their misery in different forms. Magistrates are oppressors, entanglers of conscience, a praise to evil doers, and a terror to them that do well. Ministers are unfaithful, unwatchful, unactive, unsuccessful, or deceiving. Neighbours are unjust, selfish, and mischievous. Being unequally yoked, husbands are such sons of Belial, that one cannot speak to them; and wives such brawlers, continual dropping and rottenness, that one cannot live with them. Children are a reproach and grief to parents, arrows to pierce their hearts, and robbers to waste their substance. Daughters, like carved palaces in comeliness, and cornerstones in connecting families, fall on parents' heads, and crush them with expenses and grief; 1 Sam 8:11-17; Prov 29:2-16; Ezek 13-14; Isa 9:15-16; Jer 6:13-14; Mic 2:11; Mic 3:11; 2 Cor 2:14; 1 Sam 25:17; Mal 2:11-16; Prov 19:13; Prov 27:15; Prov 21:19; Prov 25:24; Prov 12:4; Prov 10:1,5; Prov 15:20; Prov 17:2,25; Prov 13:1; Prov 19:26; Prov 28:7,24; Hos 4:13-14; Mic 7:5; Gen 34; Gen 37-38; 2 Sam 13; 2 Sam 15; 2 Sam 16:21-22. 3. They are in perpetual danger of still greater misery than that which they are under,—being waited for by the sword, the vengeance of God; and having snares every where laid for them, Rev 3:17; John 3:18,36; Jer 20:3-4; Ps 7:11-14; Job 18; Job 20. 4. Being in prison and without strength, they cannot escape, but must slide in due time, be suddenly hurried out of their place, driven away in their wickedness, and swept into hell by the storm and flood of God's wrath, Deut 32:35; Prov 1:26; Prov 14:32.
II. After this life, the curse operates on men in a still more dreadful manner. 1. In consequence of soul and body combining in rebellion against God, the curse, in death, makes an unhappy separation between them. It is, 1. A most ruinous stroke from the hand of an angry God. Men, having trusted their life to the broken covenant of works, its curse tumbles them headlong into the hands of his wrath, Job 18:18; Heb 10:31. 2. A final breaking up of all treaty between God and them, relative to their eternal salvation. In death, the curse fixes an impassible gulf between him and them, sets his seal to the proclamation of an eternal war with them, and indissolubly girds itself about them as a dreadful serpent to crush them for ever, Luke 16:26. 3. A conclusion of all their comfort, which draws an immovable bar between them and it,—quenches their coal, and puts out all their light, that darkness may for ever dwell in their tabernacle, Luke 16:25; Job 18:17-18. 4. The king of terrors, armed with all that strength which he can derive from sin, and from the holy and just law of God. When men die under the guilt of sin, God's justice and power must chase them into everlasting fire. When they die under the dominion and pollution of their lusts, these, as tormentors, must attend them to the lowest hell, Job 18:14; Prov 14:32. 5. A fearful passage into everlasting misery. By death the curse opens a trapdoor under sinners, that they may fall into the bottomless pit, and be swallowed up in unfathomable depths of misery, Luke 16:22-23.
2. Immediately after death, man's soul is, by the power of the curse, haled to the judgment-seat of God, to receive its particular sentence of eternal damnation, Heb 9:27; Eccles 12:7; Matt 25:41. In this, 1. All their sins are brought forth, as out of a sealed bag, in which they had been carefully preserved, Hos 13:12; Amos 8:7; Job 14:16-17. 2. Every sin appears drawing a curse after it. Alas, what unnumbered cords of damnation! Gal 3:10; Rom 6:23. 3. There being no more a throne of grace, or advocate with the Father, for them, they, having sinned by the law, must perish by the law, and be appointed to enter into eternal fire, as workers of iniquity, Luke 13:25-28; Ps 11:5; Matt 7:23; Prov 14:32; Isa 33:14.
3. Their condemned soul is lodged in hell by the power of the curse, now irrevocably confirmed by God, Luke 16:23. 1. Their soul is lodged here as in a prison, securing it for the last judgment, 1 Pet 3:19. 2. All the dregs of God's wrath shall be wrung out by the influence of the curse, and poured into it, Ps 75:8. 3. It shall be fixed among other damned spirits, devoted to eternal ruin by a like curse, Matt 25:41. 4. The happiness which it hath irrecoverably lost, for a trifle or worse, shall now appear in its full value, as an aggravation of torment, Luke 16:23,25-26. 5. Conscience being fully awakened to sleep no more, shall fasten upon the damned soul the most terrible convictions of his former sinfulness, and apprehensions of the wrath of God, Mark 9:44,46,48. 6. All the powers of their soul shall lie under the unrestrained influence of its sinful lusts, and the tormenting passions of pride, grief, envy, rage, anguish, despair, which attend them, Prov 14:32; Matt 22:13; Matt 8:12; Rev 16:10,21; Isa 8:21. 7. While the souls of the wicked are tormented in hell, their sins, in the practice of every one who hath been directly or indirectly drawn into sin by their means, shall, till the last judgment, continue increasing on earth, Mic 6:16; 2 Kings 10:29,31.
4. Mean while, their body, being buried under the curse, 1. The grave is no bed of rest, no hiding-place to it, as to the bodies of saints, Isa 57:2; Rev 14:13. But it is there shut up as a malefactor in a prison till the last judgment, Ps 49:14. 2. Sin and guilt continue upon it, without any possibility of removal, Job 20:11; Ezek 32:27. 3. It is corrupted in the grave by the influence of the curse, Job 24:19.
5. No part of their debt to the precept or penalty of the broken covenant of works being paid, the bodies of the wicked shall be raised again to life under this curse, at the last day. 1. By virtue of this condemning sentence, they shall be produced and brought forth, as malefactors, to everlasting punishment, John 5:29; Rev 20:13; Dan 12:2. 2. Having in their former life been instruments of unrighteousness, they shall now be marked with sin as unclean vessels, perhaps each with his predominant lust, Isa 66:24. 3. The union between soul and body shall be renewed with inexpressible anguish to both. 4. Who knows what terrible appearances the anguish of their souls, and the immediate impressions of the wrath of God, may give to these bodies? Rev 6:16-17; Isa 33:14; Isa 13:8; Isa 8:21-22.
6. In the last judgment, sinners shall appear under the power of the curse, as damned malefactors, before the tribunal of Christ. 1. Their station at his left hand shall, with its shame and disgrace, mark them accursed, Dan 12:2; Matt 25:33. 2. The curse interposing between him and them, shall render his appearance most terrible,—as a devouring lion,—a consuming fire: and the more curses interpose, his appearance will be the more terrible, Rev 1:7; Rev 6:16-17; Ps 50:22. 3. To manifest the infinite equity of the curse, in its public proclamation and eternal execution, all the sinful qualities, thoughts, words, and actions of the wicked, and which they have directly or indirectly encouraged or approved in others, shall be plainly stated to their account, Eccles 12:14; Rom 14:12; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:12. 4. In consequence hereof, the curse shall be solemnly proclaimed by Christ, and ordered into immediate full execution, Matt 25:41-46; Rev 20:12-13.
7. While, by virtue of the condemnatory sentence now ripe for full execution, the holy angels shall drive, and the devils drag them, from the judgment-seat of Christ, Matt 13:41-42; Matt 22:13, the curse which had all along infected this lower world, shall kindle it into an universal flame, to give the transgressors their last, their terrible adieu. By this means the earth, the sea, and the air, shall get rid of the curse; and all that vanity and corruption, which had long infected them, shall be returned, in inexpressible vengeance, on the wicked, who had occasioned it, and all sin and misery shall thenceforth be confined in hell, 2 Pet 3:10,13; 2 Thess 1:8-9; Ps 50:3; Rom 8:21-23; Rev 20:14-15.
8. In hell the curse of this broken covenant of works shall for ever prey upon the united soul and body of the wicked, in its full strength, Ps 75:8; Rev 14:10-11. 1. By it the infernal pit, having received them, shall close its mouth upon them, and shut them up as in a fiery oven, Num 16:32; Matt 13:30; Ps 21:9. 2. As a dreadful partition, it shall for ever exclude all exercise of God's mercy and patience from among them, Matt 25:41; Hos 9:12. 3. Hence all sanctifying and sin-restraining influences shall be for ever stopt from them; and God shall abandon them to the full fury of their lusts, while they shall have nothing to satisfy them, Matt 22:13; Rev 16:21. 4. As the breath of the Lord, it shall for ever blow up the fire of his indignation on them; and fix the envenomed arrows of his wrath in them, Isa 30:33; Rev 14:11. 5. It shall prolong their misery into eternal duration, and dreadfully uphold them in bearing it, and perhaps perpetually render it more and more tormenting, Rev 14:11; Luke 12:59; Matt 5:26; Matt 25:41-46; 2 Thess 1:9; Mark 9:44,46,48; Isa 33:14.
Though the condition of the saints, and of the wicked in death, and that which precedes it, be often apparently similar, yet every thing which the saints meet with, or the management of it by God, proceeds from his love and justifying sentence.—Sinful plagues are the choice and delight of the wicked; but they are the heavy burden of believers, Rom 7:14-24, Ps 38:4; Ps 40:12.
Reflection. Having thus far compassed the flaming mount, and traversed the paths of condemnation, hast thou, my soul, believed and trembled? Knowest thou these terrors of the Lord, that thou mayest persuade men? Am I still under? or, have I escaped from this broken covenant?—this tremendous curse? Know I when, and how, Jesus Christ removed it, and all its dreadful effects, from my heart?—when, and how, he plucked me as a brand out of the fire, cleansed and washed me in his blood? What experience have I of the translation of the curse from my person to my Saviour, and through him, to my sins, for their destruction?—Thrice dreadful, but—heart-melting thought, Was Jesus, was Jehovah made a curse—for me? Stop then, my soul, and in the most awful mode, devote thyself to him. Bear me witness, ye listening angels, you Omniscient Three, that I consent to be only His,—wholly His,—for ever His, as made of God to me, wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption. If I love not this Lord Jesus, let me be Anathema Maranatha. Dare not, my soul, to enter on the sacred work, without having tasted of the wormwood and the gall:—without having tasted redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of my sins, according to the riches,—the exceeding riches of his grace.—How tremendous the charge of dealing between God and men,—men who are under his awful curse! What deep compassion! What prayers and supplications, with strong cries and tears to him that is able to save them from death! What earnest and unremitting labour! What simplicity of the gospel! What travelling in birth till Christ be formed in their souls, is necessary here!
 This text perhaps immediately respects the two dispensations of the covenant of grace,—though not without some reference to the two covenants themselves.—On the one hand, Hagar, a bondmaid,—first pregnant in,—and at last with her son cast out from, Abraham's family,—denotes the legal dispensation as a state of ceremonial bondage, and of much inclination to the works of the law,—as first in order bringing forth professed children to God,—and at last expelled from the church of God and the hearts of his people.—Sinai, a barren mountain covered with thorns,—once terrible with thunders and lightnings,—and far distant from Canaan, the promised land, represents the covenant of works and legal dispensation, as pricking men's consciences with charges of guilt, and terrifying them with proclaimed commands and curses;—but altogether unfit to bring them into the evangelical and the heavenly rest.—Ishmael is an emblem of the Jews and other legalists, as early children of God in their open profession; but continuing under their spiritual bondage, and persecuting his Christian people, and therefore at last expelled from his church.—Sarah, a free woman, late and supernatural in her conception and childbirth, but continuing in Abraham's family till she died, prefigured the Christian dispensation and covenant of grace, as free, late, but supernaturally productive of children to God, and remaining in his church till the end of time.—Mount Zion, pleasant and comely, the residence of God in his temple, and near the middle of Canaan, represented that covenant and dispensation, as singularly pleasant and beautiful,—blessed with God's peculiar presence,—and bringing men to heaven.—Isaac figured out Christian and other believers,—last in order,—born of the Spirit,—made free by Christ,—persecuted by Jews and other legalists,—but fixed and everlasting members of God's family, and heirs of himself.