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THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
Tre following Discourse is intended, not merely as an answer to any particular book written against the doctrine of Original Sin, but as a general defence of that great important doctrine. Nevertheless, I have in this defence taken notice of the main things said against this doctrine by such of the more noted opposers of it as I have had opportunity to read; particularly those two late writers, Dr. TURNBULL and Dr. TAYLOR, of Norwich ; but especially the latter, in what he has published in those two books of his, the first entitled, The Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin proposed to free and candid Examination; the other, his Key to the Apostolic Writings, with a Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistle to the Romans. I have closely attended to Dr. Taylor's Piece on Original Sin in all its parts, and have endeavoured that no one thing there said, of any conse quence in this controversy, should pass unnoticed, or that any thing which has the appearance of an argument, in opposition to this doctrine, should be left unanswered. I look on the doctrine as of great importance, which every body will doubtless own it is, if it be true. For if the case be such indeed, that all mankind are by nature in a state of total ruin, both with respect to the moral evil of which they are the subjects, and the aflictive evil to which they are exposed, the one as the consequence and punishment of the other ; then doubtless, the great salvation by Christ stands in direct relation to this ruin, as the remedy to the disease ; and the whole Gospel, or doctrine of salvation, must suppose it; and all real belief, or true notion of that gospel, must be built upon it. Therefore as I think the doctrine is most certainly both true and important, I hope my attempting a vindication of it will be candidly interpreted ; and that what I have done towards its defence will be impartially considered by all that will give themselves the trouble to read the ensuing discourse : in which it is designed to examine every thing material throughout the doctor's whole book, and many things in that other book, containing his Key and Exposition on Romans ; as also many things written in opposition to this doctrine by some other modern authors. Noreover, my discourse being not only intended for an answer to Dr. TAYLOR, and other opposers of the doctrine of original sin, but for a general defence of that doctrine ; producing the evidence of the truth of the doctrine, as well as answering objections made against it, I hope this attempt of mine will not be thought needless, nor be altogether useless, notwithstanding other publications on the subject.
I would also hope that the extensiveness of the plan of the following treatise will excuse the length of it. And that when it is considered how much was absolutely requisite to the full executing of a design formed on such a plan ; how much has been written against
the doctrine of original sin, and with what plausibility ; how strong the prejudices of many are in favour of what is said in opposition to this doctrine--and that it cannot be expected any thing short of a full consideration of almost every argument advanced by the main opposers, especially by this late and specious writer, Dr. TAYLOR, will satisfy many readers—how much must unavoidably be said in order to a full handling of the arguments in defence of the doctrine ; and how important the doctrine must be, if true ; I trust the length of the following discourse will not be thought to exceed what the case really required. However this must be left to the judgment of the intelligent and candid reader.
Stockbridge, May 26, 1757.
Note.--When the page is referred to in this manner, p. 40, p. 50, without mentioning the book, thereby is to be understood such a page in Dr. TAYLOR'S Scripture-Doctrine of Original Sin. S. intends the Supplement. When the word Key is used to signify the book referred to, thereby is to be understood Dr. Tay. LOR's Key to the Apostolic Writings. This mark [$] with figures or a number annexed, signifies such a section or paragraph in his key. When after mentioning Preface to Par. on Epist. Romans, there is subjoined p, 145, 47, or the like, thereby is intended page and paragraph, page 145, paragraph 47. The letter T. alone, is used to signify Dr. Taylor's name, and no other.
WHEREIN ARE CONSIDERED SOME EVIDENCES OF ORIGINAL SIN
FROM FACTS AND EVENTS, AS FOUNDED BY OBSERVATION
The Evidence of Original Sin from what appears in Fact of the
Sinfulness of Mankind.
AN Mankind constantly, in all Ages, without Fail in any one In
stance, run into that moral Evil, which is in effect their own utter and eternal Perdition in a total privation of GOD's
Favour, and suffering of his Vengeance and Wrath. By Original Sin as the phrase has been most commonly used by divines, is meant the innate sinful depravity of the heart. But yet when the doctrine of original sin is spoken of, it is vulgarly understood in that latitude, which includes not only the depravity of nature, but the imputation of Adam's first sin; or, in other words, the liableness or exposedness of Adam's posterity, in the divine judgment, to partake of the punishment of that sin. So far as I know, most of those who have held
one of these, have maintained the other; and most of those who have opposed one, have opposed the other: both are opposed by the Author chiefly attended to in the following discourse, in his book against original sin: And it may perhaps appear in our future consideration of the subject, that they are closely connected ; that the arguments which prove the one establish the other, and that there are no more difficulties attending the allowing of one, than the other.
I shall in the first place, consider this doctrine more especially with regard to the corruption of nature; and as we treat of this the other will naturally come into consideration, in the prosecution of the discourse, as connected with it. As all moral qualities, all principles either of virtue or vice, lie in the disposition of the heart, I shall consider whether we have any evidence that the heart of man is naturally of a corrupt and evil disposition. This is strenuously denied by many late writers who are enemies to the doctrine of original sin ; and particularly by Dr. TAYLOR.
The way we come by the idea of any such thing as disposition or tendency is by observing what is constant or general in event; especially under a great variety of circumstances ; and above all, when the effect or event continues the same through great and various opposition, much and manifold force and means used to the contrary not prevailing to hinder the effect. I do not know that such a prevalence of effects is denied to be an evidence of prevailing tendency in causes and agents; or that it is expressly denied by the opposers of the doctrine of original sin, that if, in the course of events, it universally or generally proves that mankind are actually corrupt, this would be an evidence of a prior corrupt propensity in the world of mankind; whatever may be said by some, which, if taken with its plain consequences, may seem to imply a denial of this; which may be considered afterwards. But by many the fact is denied; that is, it is denied, that corruption and moral evil are commonly prevalent in the world : on the contrary, it is insisted on, that good preponderates, and that virtue has the ascendant,
To this purpose, Dr. TURNBULL says,* “ With regard to the prevalence of vice in the world, men are apt to let their imagination run out upon all the robberies, piracies, murders, perjuries, frauds, massacres, assassinations they have either heard of, or read in history; thence concluding all mankind to be very wicked. As if a court of justice were a proper place to make an estimate of the morals of mankind, or an hospital of the healthfulness of a climate. But ought they not to consider that the number of honest citizens and farmers far sur
* Moral Philos. p. 289, 290.
passes that of all sorts of criminals in any state, and that the innocent and kind actions of even criminals themselves surpass their crimes in numbers; that it is the rarity of crimes in comparison of innocent or good actions, which engages our attention to them and makes them to be recorded in history, while honest, generous domestic actions are overlooked only because they are so common ? as one great danger, or one month's sickness shall become a frequently repeated story during a long life of health and safety:-Let not the vices of mankind be multiplied or magnified. Let us make a fair estimate of human life, and set over against the shocking, the astonishing instances of barbarity and wickedness that have been perpetrated in any age, not only the exceeding generous and brave actions with which history shines, but the prevailing innocency, good-nature, industry, felicity, and cheerfulness of the greater part of mankind at all times; and we hall not find reason to cry out, as objectors against Providence do on this occasion, that all men are vastly corrupt and that there is hardly any such thing as virtue in the world. Upon a fair computation the fact does indeed come out, that very great villanies have been very uncommon in all ages and looked upon as monstrous ; so general is the sense and esteem of virtue.”-It seems to be with a like view that Dr. Taylor says, 6 We must not take the measure of our health and enjoyments from a lazar-house, nor of our understanding from Bedlam, nor of our morals from a jail.” (p. 77. S.).
With respect to the propriety and pertinence of such a representation of things, and its force as to the consequence designed, I hope we shall be better able to judge, and in some measure to determine whether the natural disposition of the hearts of mankind be corrupt or not, when the things which follow have been considered. But for the greater clearness, it may be proper here to premise one consideration that is of great importance in this controversy, and is very much overlooked by the opposers of the doctrine of original sin in their disputing against it.
That it is to be looked upon as the true tendency of the innate disposition of man's heart, which appears to be its tendency, when we consider things as they are in themselves, or in their own nature, without the interposition of divine grace.Thus, that state of man's nature, that disposition of the mind, is to be looked upon as evil and pernicious, which, as it is in itself, tends to extremely pernicious consequences, and would certainly end therein, were it not that the free mercy and kindness of God interposes to prevent that issue. It would be very strange if any should argue that there is no evil tendency in the case, because the mere favour and compassion of the Most High may step in and oppose the tendency and pre