William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)

Article 3 – The Federal Headship Of Adam, And Human Guilt And Depravity

Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

III.The Federal Headship of Adam, and Human Guilt and Depravity.

We believe that God created the first man, Adam, after His own image and in His own likeness, an innocent, upright, and holy being, capable of serving and glorifying Him,[1] but that he, sinning, all his posterity sinned in him, and have come “short of the glory of God the guilt of whose sin is imputed to, and whose corrupt nature is derived by, all that descend from him by ordinary and natural generation,[2] so that all men are under sentence of condemnation, and by their first birth carnal and unclean, averse to all that is good, prone to all that is evil, and incapable of pleasing God, and are hence by nature the “children of wrath,”,[3] and that they are consequently not only involved in spiritual death, but subject to corporeal and eternal death[4] from all which there is no deliverance but by Christ, the “ Last Adam.”[5]

[1] Gen 1:26; Ps 8:5; Ecc 7:29; 1 Tim 2:14
[2] Gen 2:17; 3:3; Rom 6:23, 5:12; 8:10; 1 Cor 15:22; Job 14:4
[3] Ps 58:3; Jn 3:6; Rom 5:18; 6:23; Eph 2:3
[4] Matt 8:22 (“Let the {spiritually} dead bury their {natural} dead.”); Rom 5:15; 2 Cor 5:14; Eph 2:1; 1 Tim 5:6; Ecc 12:7; 2 Sam 14:14; Heb 9:27; Matt 10:28; Lk 12:5; Rom 8:13; Rev 2:11; 20:14
[5] Ps 49:7,8; Jn 3:36; 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rom 3:22,23; 1 Cor 15:45



The Nature of Adam before the Fall.

Note 1.—“Adam” as created was “an innocent, upright, and holy being. This he must have been, or God would have originated a sinful creature, which His essential holiness forbids our thinking. Adam, however, was not a spiritual being, that is—the holiness he possessed, as a creature, is not said to have flowed from Christ as the source of spiritual life to His people, and to have been the same as is now possessed by regenerated sinners.

The position that he was originally a spiritual person lies at the foundation of Andrew Fuller’s scheme of Duty-faith—and the argument is sound. It is indisputably incumbent on all natural men to be and do all that was incumbent on Adam before the Fall,—since man’s inability to keep the whole Law involves no diminution of its claims. If, therefore, Adam were spiritual, and spiritual Faith was a duty which he was origin­ally under obligation to perform, all men ought to be spiritual, and it is their duty to believe with spiritual faith.

We, however, deny the assertion,—and repudiate the conclusion.

Federal Headship taught in Scripture.

Note 2.—The expressions, “the Covenant of works,” and that “Adam sustained a federal relation to his posterity,” are not found in the Bible: though the truths they convey, are unmis­takably in God’s word. (1 Cor. 15:21,22.) The Jews are accused of transgressing the Covenant under which they as a nation possessed their land, in the same way as Adam transgressed the Covenant under which he enjoyed the favours of Paradise. “They, like Adam, have transgressed the Covenant.” Hos. 6:7, Revised Version.

Note 3. Clear as is the testimony of the texts cited, the Fall of mankind in Adam and the guilt and depravity of the human race through their federal union to him, are so universally denied as almost to render the doctrine of this Article a distinguishing tenet of the Section of the Baptist Denomination whose views are here given.

Human Guilt and Depravity distinguished.

Note 4.—The two main consequences of the Fall are human guilt and depravity. These should be distinguished. Guilt is the condition that follows transgression of the Law. It is a relative term, indicating exposure to punishment. Depravity is a positive term, and indicates a vitiated or corrupt state of nature. Men are guilty by the condemnation of the holy Law of God,—depraved because their whole natures are disorganised, and all their mental and moral powers out of conformity to the will of God. Both human guilt and human depravity are stated to be the results of Adam’s trangression in Rom. 5:12-21.

Note 5.—All men are guilty and therefore under the sentence of the law through the sin of “the first Adam.” Hence, the assertion that “life is a state of probation” is true only in a very restricted sense. Man’s real probation terminated with the catastrophe of Adam in Eden. “By the offence of one, (or through one trespass,) the judement came unto all men to con­ demnation.” (Rom. 5:18.) “He that believeth not is condemned already his trial is over: his sentence is passed; his innocence or guilt is not a question to be settled; his character is gone; “he hath already been judged.” (John 3:16.) How inexpressibly wicked, therefore, are men who, when professing to preach the Gospel, expressly or implicitly deny this!

Note 6.—All men are not only guilty but depraved through Adam’s sin. The penal consequences of the transgression of the “first man” descend to his posterity, but this is not all; his corrupt nature is derived by all that descend from him by ordinary generation. This sweeping statement does not assert that every man from his earliest youth is as bad as bad can be, or deny men the possession of eminent goodness, but insists that all are “very far gone from original righteousness,” so that they “that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:8.) Virtue and holiness are to be carefully distinguished. Children from their infancy are sinners, and their simplicity and affection should not be mistaken for sinlessness. The popular figure that the mind of a babe resembles a sheet of white paper, awaiting the good or bad im­ pressions of education, is utterly misleading.

Christ not included in the Covenant of Works.

Note 7.—The words “by ordinary and natural generation,” are introduced into the above Article in order to exempt Christ. He was “the Son of Man,”but not of “Aman.” He did not descend from Adam in the ordinary way. His body was prepared for Him by the Holy Ghost. (Heb. 10:5) He miraculously avoided contamination, though formed in the womb and nourished from the breast of a sinful mother. He therefore, and He alone of all men was not represented by Adam, or involved in the Fall.

Adam’s Sin is our Shame.

Note 8.—It is sometimes sneeringly enquired whether it is incumbent on us to repent of Adam’s sin? It is granted that our sinning in him does not mean that we personally committed the actual sin which he committed. It, therefore, cannot be our duty to repent personally of his trespass. Every spiritually-minded person, however, is conscious of sorrow and shame foi Adam’s sin, just as the descendants of a notoriously wicked person, (though themselves innocent and pure,) blush to reflect that his blood flows in their veins, and that they bear his tainted and dishonoured name. It is our disgrace to possess the defiled and degraded nature which we inherit from Adam. This all who are “following after the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord,” (Heb. 12:14,) feel with poignant grief,…“Backward, with humble shame, we look to our original. How is our nature dashed and broke, in our first father’s fall!”—WATTS

Human Death a Penal Evil.

Note 9.—That human death is a consequence of Adam’s sin is a truth so humbling to man’s pride that he often seeks to evade it. Witness the common saying that it is a a debt due to nature. This is false. Sin introduced human death which is a debt due not to nature, but to the justice of God. Death is a penal infliction, and its onslaughts upon men are a perpetual testimony to the presence and progress of sin. “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; or, better, “all sinned” in Adam, their natural and covenant head. (Rom. 5:12.)

Federal Headship the Ground of Salvation.

Note 10.—Solemn and terrible as is the truth that the entire human race were made, (not simply sinful) but sinners, (that is both depraved and guilty,) by the Fall. (Rom. 5:19,) it should be remembered that the operation of the same principle herein exemplified, secures to God’s people the blessing of salvation. As the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to his posterity, and the sinfulness of his nature imparted to them by generation, so the righteousness of Christ is imputed to His people, and the holi­ness of His nature imparted to them by regeneration. Mankind were ruined by their Covenant union with a fallen representative, without their assent to the arrangement, and apart from any transgressions of their own; so men are recovered and renovated by their union with a perfect Representative, without any proposals being made for their acceptance or rejection, and wholly apart from any merit of their own.

This parallel appears in many Scriptures. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.) This does not mean that the results of Christ’s death are co-extensive with the results of Adam’s sin,—this would involve universalism,—but that, as all that were federally in Adam, (that is the whole human race,) die, even so (on the same principle.) shall all that are federally in Christ, (that is all that were chosen in Him,) be made alive.” There are two “Adams” and two “alls.”

Again, “As, through the disobedience of the one man, the many, (that is the whole human race,) were made sinners, even so also, (on precisely the same principle,) through the obedience of the One, shall the many, (the whole ‘election of grace,’) be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19.)

Thus, then, the principle of federal headship which is the incidental cause of all our sin and woe, secures our deliverance from guilt; our renovation and recovery from our lapsed condition of depravity; and our participation in all Covenant blessings through our union with Christ.

Federal Headship and Infant Salvation.

Note 11.—This truth is adapted to minister rich comfort to those whose infant children have been taken from them. Such die, not for their personal transgressions, but because of their descent by natural generation from the first Adam, “through” whom “sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” (Rom. 5:12.) Such are saved, not through their personal repentance and faith, but through their federal union with “the last Adam,” the Covenant head of all the election of grace.

Thus the operation of the same principle which consigns them to the grave, ensures, through sovereign grace, their immediate admission to heaven after death, and their glorious resurrection at the last day.

So far from Infant Salvation being contradicted by the views of extreme—or consistent—Calvinists, it is logically and scripturally demonstrable by those only who hold that all men are lost, and the chosen of God saved, on the principle of Covenant relationship and its inevitable results.

The Fall—a Doctrine to be Preached.

Note 12.—Though “no truth of Revelation should be concealed,” (Hazelton,) the Doctrine of this Article is often kept in abeyance by preachers who “love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” It should, however, be fully and urgently proclaimed by all who aim at true usefulness.

One great source of the success of James Wells was his constant reiteration of the fact that the condemnation of the human race occurred when Adam fell. This gave him, through the Spirit, his unique grip on the consciences of sinners, and enabled him, with such remarkable power, to cut down their fancied righteousness “root and branch.”

While other preachers deluded their hearers by preaching spiritual faith as a natural duty, for performing which they might and could avert their doom, he told the unregenerate the plain, unpopular, unpalatable truth—whether they would receive it or not. Hence his extraordinary success, under the blessing of God.

William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.

William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)
William Styles, A Memoir of John Hazelton (Complete)