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of hyperbole it is, that God aggravated the sins of his people; “ Thou wast called a transgressor from the womb." And this way of expressing a great state of misery we find used among the heathen writers : for so Seneca brings in dipus complaining ;
Decreta mors est. Fata quis tam tristia
And this is the exposition of Clemens Alexandrinus, save only that by my mother' he understands “Eva:’ Και ει εν αμαρτία συνειλήφθη, αλλ' ουκ αυτός εν αμαρτία. “Though he was conceived in sin, yet he was not in the sin;"
peccatrix concepit, sed non peccatorem ;' she sinned in the conception, not David. And in the following words he speaks home to the main article. Λεγέτωσαν ημίν, σου επόρνευσεν το γεννηθέν παιδίον; ή πώς υπό την τού 'Αδαμ υποπέπτωκεν αραν το μηδέν ενέργησαν; « Let them tell us where an infant did fornicate, or how he, who had done nothing, could fall under the curse of Adam ;” meaning, so as to deserve the same evil that he did. 3. If it did relate to his own person, he might mean that he was begotten with that sanguine disposition, and libidinous temper, that was the original of his vile adultery: and then, though David said this truly of himself, yet it is not true of all, not of those whose temper is phlegmatic and inactive. 4. If David had meant this of him
e Jsa. xlviii. 3.
f Phæniss. 243. Schröder. p. 199. & Lib. 3. Strom, extrein.
self, and that in regard of original sin, this had been so far from being a penitential expression, or a confessing of his sin, that it had been a plain accusation of God, and an excusing of himself. As if he had said, “O Lord, I confess I have sinned in this horrible murder and adultery; but thou, O God, knowest how it comes to pass, even by that fatal punishment, which thou didst, for the sin of Adam, inflict on me and all mankind above three thousand years before I was born, thereby making me to fall into so horrible corruption of nature, that unless thou didst irresistibly force me from it, I cannot abstain from any sin, being most naturally inclined to all. In this sinfulness hath my mother conceived me, and that hath produced in me this sad effect.'—Who would
David to make such a confession, or in his sorrow to hope for pardon for upbraiding not his own folly, but the decrees of God? 5. But that David thought nothing of this, or any thing like it, we may understand by the preceding words, which are as a preface to these in the objection. “ Against thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight, that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear when thou art judged.” He that thus acquits God, cannot easily be supposed, in the very next breath, so fiercely to accuse him. 6. To which also add the following words; which are a sufficient reproof of all strange senses in the other; “ In sin hath my mother conceived me. But lo, thou requirest truth in the inward parts;" as if he had said, “Though I am so wicked, yet thy laws are good, and I therefore so much the worse, because I am contrary to thy laws: they require truth and sincerity in the soul, but I am false and perfidious.'_But if this had been natural for him so to be, and unavoidable, God, who knew it perfectly well, would have expected nothing else of him. For he will not require of a stone to speak, nor of fire to be cold, unless himself be pleased to work a miracle to have them so.
50. But St. Paul" affirms, that, ' by nature we were the children of wrath.' True, we were so, when we were dead in sins, and before we were quickened by the Spirit of life and grace. We were so; now we are not.
We were so by our own unworthiness and filthy conversation; now we being regenerated by the Spirit of holiness, we are alive unto God,
Ephes. ii. 2, 3.
and no longer heirs of wrath. This therefore, as appears by the discourse of St. Paul, relates not to our original sin, but to the actual; and of this sense of the word 'nature,' in the matter of sinning, we have Justin Martyr, or whoever is the author of the questions and answers ad orthodoxos' to be witness': for, answering those words of Scripture, “ there is not any one clean who is born of a woman,' and there is none begotten who hath not committed sin: he says, their meaning cannot extend to Christ, for he was not depuxws kuapráverv, “ born to sin;" but he is “natura ad peccandum natus,” Wepuκώς αμαρτάνειν, και κατά την αυθαίρετον προαίρεσιν άγων εαυτόν εις το πράττειν ά βούλεται είτε αγαθά, είτε φαύλα, « by nature born to sin, who by the choice of his own will is author to himself to do what he list, whether it be good or evil.” The following words are eaten out by time; but upon this ground whatever he said of infants, must needs have been to better purposes than is usually spoken of in this article. 2. Heirs of wrath, signifies persons liable to punishment, heirs of death. It is a usual expression among the Hebrews. So sons of death' in the Holy Scriptures are those that deserve death, or are condemned to die. Thus Judas Iscariot is called, the son of perditionk;' and so is that saying of David to Nathan, The man that hath done this, shall surely die!' In the Hebrew it is, he is the son of death.' And so where those Ephesians,
children’ or sons of wrath' before their conversion ; that is, they had deserved death. 3. By nature' is here most likely to be meant that which Galen calls φύσις επίκτητος, , quisite nature,' that is, tà In, customs' and evil habits. And so Suidas expounds the word in this very place; not only upon the account of grammar, and the use of the word in the best authors, but also upon an excellent reason. His words are these : "Οταν δε λέγει ο Απόστολος, και ήμεν τέκνα φύσει οργής, ως και οι λοιποί, ού κατά τούτο το σημαινόμενον της φύσεως λέγει: επεί του ποιήσαντος αν ήν το έγκλημα. 'Αλλά την έμμονον και κακίστην διάθεσιν, και χρονίαν και πονηράν συνήθειαν. “ When the Apostle says, we were by nature children of wrath, he means not that which is the usual signification of nature, for then it were not their fault, but the fault of him that made them such; but it means an abiding and vile habit, a wicked and a lasting custom.” Kaiyaię tò eillouévor i Quæst. 88. k John, xvii. 12.
2 Sam. xii. 5.
LOWEP Wepuxos on nyivetai, saith Aristotle": Custom is like nature. For . often' and 'always' are not far asunder. Nature is always,'custom is almost always.' To the same sense are those words of Porphyry”; Τους παλαιούς και εγγύς θεών γεγονότας, βελτίστους τε όντας φύσει και των άριστον έζηκότας βίον, ως χρυσούν γένος νομίζεσθαι-« The ancients who lived likest to God, and were by nature the best, living the best life, were a golden generation.-4. By nature,' means not by birth and natural extraction, or any original derivation from Adam, in this place : for of this these Ephesians were no more guilty than every one else, and no more before their conversion than after ; but, by nature' signifies ontws, áhnows, so the Greek Scholiast renders it; really, beyond opinion;'
plenè et omnino,' entirely, or wholly,' so the Syriac; and so St. Jerome affirms that the ancients did expound it: and it is agreeable to the usage of the same phrase, Gal. iv. 8. “ Ye did service to them which by nature are no gods,” that is, which really' are none. And as these Ephesians were before their conversion, so were the Israelites in the days of their rebellion, a wicked stubborn people, insomuch that they are by the Prophet called “ children of transgression, a seed of falsehood.” But these and the like places have no force at all but what they borrow from the ignorance of that sense and acceptation of the word in those languages, which ought to be the measure of them.
51. But it is hard upon such mean accounts to reckon all children to be born enemies of God, that is, bastards and not sons, heirs of hell and damnation, full of sin and vile corruption, when the Holy Scriptures propound children as imitable for their petty innocence and sweetness, and declare them rather heirs of heaven than hell. • In malice be children :' and, unless we become like to children, we shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven";' and,' their angels behold the face of their Father which is in heaven".' Heaven is theirs, God is their father, angels are appropriated to them; they are free from malice, and imitable by men. These are better words than are usually given them; and signify, that they are beloved of God, not hated, designed for heaven, and born to it, though brought thither by Christ, and by the Spirit of m Arist. Rhet. 1. 1.c.11. n Lib. 4. de Esu Anim. • Isa lvii. 4. p 1 Cor. xiv. 20.
9 Matt. xviii. 3.
I Matt. xviii. 10.
Christ, not born for hell: that was prepared for the devil and his angels, not for innocent babes. This does not call them naturally wicked, but rather naturally innocent, and is a better account than is commonly given them by imputation of Adam's sin,
52. But not concerning children, but of himself St. Paul complains, that his nature and his principles of action and choice are corrupted. “ There is a law in my members, bringing me into captivity to the law of sino;" and many other words to the same purpose : all which indeed have been strangely mistaken to very ill purposes, so that the whole chapter so, as is commonly expounded, is nothing but a temptation to evil life, and a patron of impiety. Concerning which I have in the next chapter given account, and freed it from the common abuse. But if this were to be understood in the sense which I there reprove, yet it is to be observed in order to the present question, that St. Paul does not say, “ This law in our members comes by nature, or is derived from Adam.” A man may bring a law upon himself by vicious custom, and that may be as prevalent as nature, and more; because more men have by philosophy and illuminated reason cured the disposition of their nature, than have cured their vicious habits. Add to this, that St. Paul puts this uneasiness, and this carnal law in his members, wholly upon the account of being under the law,' and of his not being under Christ, not upon the account of Adam's prevarication, as is plain in the analogy of the whole chapter.
53. As easy also it is to understand these words of St. Paul without prejudice to this question : “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither indeed can he know them":" meaning, as is supposed, that there is in our natures an ignorance and averseness from spiritual things, that is, a contrariety to God. But it is observable, that the word which the Apostle uses is fuxixos, which is not properly rendered natural but'animal,' and it certainly means a man that is guided only by natural reason, without the revelation of the Gospel. Ψυχικός καλεί και απόστολος των τοϊς άνθρωπικούς λογισμούς τα πράγματα επιτρέποντα και την τού πράγματος ενέργειαν μη δέχοντα. So Suidas.
An animal man, that is a philosopher, or a rational man, such as were the
s Rom. vii, 23.
ti Cor. ii. 14.