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Concerning the Objections against the Doctrine of native Cor.
ruption, that to suppose Men receive their first Existence in Sin, is to make him who is the Author of their Being, the Author of their Depravity.
One argument against a supposed native, sinful depravity, which Dr. T. greatly insists upon, is, “ that this does in effect charge him, who is the author of our nature, who formed us in the womb, with being the author of a sinful corruption of nature; and that it is highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature to be originally corrupted, and that in the worst sense of corruption.***
With respect to this, I would observe in the first place, that this writer, in handling this grand objection, supposes something to belong to the doctrine objected against, as maintained by the divines whom he is opposing, which does not belong to it, nor follow froin it. As particularly, he supposes the doctrine of original sin to imply, that nature must be corrupted by some positive influence ; " something, by some means or other, infused into the human nature; some quality or other, not from the choice of our minds, but like a taint, tincture, or infection, altering the natural constitution, faculties, and dispositions of our souls. That sin and evil dispositions are IMPLANTED in the fætus in the womb.f” Whereas truly our doctrine neither implies nor infers any such thing. In order to account for a sinful corruption of nature, yea, a total native depravity of the heart of man, there is not the least need of supposing any evil quality infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man, by any positive cause or influence whatsoever, either from God, or the creature; or of supposing that man is conceived and born with a fountain of evil in his heart, such as is any thing properly positive. I think a little attention to the nature of things will be sufficient to satisfy any impartial considerate inquirer, that the absence of positive good principles, and so the withholding of a special divine in. fluence to impart and maintain those good principles—leaving the common natural principles of self-love, natural appetite, &c. to themselves, without the government of superior divine principles—will certainly be followed with the corruption; yea, the total corruption of the heart, without occasion for any
* Page 137, 187–189, 256, 259, 260. 143. S. and other places.
positive influence at all: And that it was thus in fact that corruption of nature came on Adam, immediately on his fall, and comes on all his posterity, as sinning in him, and falling with him.*
TUTED ADAM A MORAL AGENT.
* The sentiment contained in this paragraph, and illustrated in the following part of this chapter, is of the utmost importance, in order not only to remove Pelagian prejudices, and the cavils of modern philosophers, but also to give a just and consistent view of the nature and cause of in; the cause of all sin, in general, and original sin in particular. Our author's explanation, which immediately follows, both in the text and in the note, is ingenious, and in some respects quite satisfactory. But a brief representation of the same result in another way, may demand some attention.
1. It is probably more philosophical, as well as more intelligible, in describing the two kinds of principles, as the author calls them, possessed by Adam, to say, that the inferior ones were, THOSE FACULTIES IN MAN WHICH CONSTITUTED BIM A MORAL AGENT; rather than calling them “the principles of mere human nature.” The superior ones are very accurately described; but instead of calling
supernatural principles ;” they may more properly be termed, DIVINE BENEVOLENT, SOVEREIGN INFLUENCE, SUPERADDED TO THOSE FACULTIES WHICH CONSTI
This representation leads to the essential rela. tions that subsist between Gud and his creature man. “Mere human nature,” and “supernatural principles” convey no distinctive character of relation. “Facul. ties which constitute a moral agent,” express the ground of relation between equity in God and accountableness in man; and “benevolent influences,” express the ground of relation between sovereignty in God and passiveness in man.
2. That Adam had such qualifications or faculties as rendered him a moral agent, independently of his spiritual knowledge, righteousness, holiness, dominion, honour and glory-in other words, his divine light, holy life, and supreme love to God-is self-evident. For after he had lost these excellencies, he was confessedly no less a moral agent, and accountable to his divine Governor and Judge for his temper, thoughts, desires, words and works, than he was before he lost them.
3. The philosophical cause, or the true origin of Adam's defection was his liberly in union with his passive power. For an explanation of these terms, and the proof of the proposition just laid down, we must refer the reader to our notes on the first volume of this work, where the subject is professedly discussed.
4. The true and ultimate cause of the first sin of Adam, of all his subsequent sins, and those of his posterity, whether infants or adults, is not essentially different. If the principles, as our author calls them, or the faculties and qualifications which constitute moral agency and accountability, be left to themselves, whereby they become influenced by passive power, not counteracted by sovereign, benevolent, or holy divine influence the effect will be the same, though attended with different circumstances.
5. When the cause of Adam's integrity, perfection, spirituality, and happiness, or his paradisical life, was no longer operative for his preservation, defection ensued; which consisted in the loss of the chief good, together with that disorder, confusion, and a conscious exposedness to a continuance in that state, whereby happiness was necessarily exchanged for a restless uneasiness called misery
6. This was the case of Adam in his own person. But our author, in the next chapter, excellently shows, that Adam and all his posterity were strictly one. This union we may call a systematic whole. For mankind, or the whole race of man, has a constituted connection no less than a seed with its plant; for instance, the acorn with the oak-plant, and that with its future branches. We justly called it the same tree from the time it was planted to its utmost longevity, though some of its branches came into existence a hundred years or more after the first shoot. This union of Adam with his posterity, is no less a constituted union, than that which connects the solar system; or any other inferior systematic whole, as an animal body, which is regarded as one from its birth till its death. For instance, nothing but a constitution founded in the sovereign pleasure of God, caused the body of Methuselah to be the same, or regarded as the same, when in infancy, and above nine hundred years after. The parts of his body, at least most of them, were as different in old age, compared with his infancy, as any of his posterity are
The case with man was plainly this: When God made man at first he implanted in him two kinds of principles. There
different from Adam. In each case alike, the appointment of God in forming a course of nature, or his operations according to a constituted plan, could make the body of Methuselah to be the same body from the first to the last; and the pos. terity of Adam the same with himself
7. In every vital system there is a vital part, and in every other system, as such, one part is more essential than another. Adam was the vital part of the system of mankind. The rool of the tree, the foundation of the building, the mainspring of the machine, the sun of the system. We his posterity are but so many members of a body, and are all dependent on him as on our head or heart; but not so on one another. There may be the amputation of a limb, while the other limbs are not injured; but if the head or heart be deprived of life, all the members are deprived at the same time. A branch of a tree may he lopped off without injury to the other part ; but if the root, the vital part, be affected, all the branches are also af fected as the necessary consequence. A dead root and a living tree are incompatible; though a dead branch and a living branch of the same tree are not. A waich is a system founded on principles of mechanism, the index may be mutilated, or the cog of a wheel may be broken or detached, without affecting the more essential parts; but if the mainspring be broken, the whole system, as to its designcd use, is destroyed. A building is a system; a slate or a chimney may be blown down without affecting the foundation, but if the whole foundation be undermined, the whole fabric must fall to ruin. The solar system might subsist, for ought that appears to the contrary, though a comei, a satellite, or a planet, were annihilated; but if the sun were annihilated, ruin and confusion must
8. Whatever Adam lost by transgression, he could have no claim either in equity or by promise, that is, he could have no claim at all for a restoration of it. And what he could have no claim for himself, could not be claimable by or for his posterity, any more than a branch or a member could obtain life, when the root of that branch or the head of that member had ceased to live; or any more than the subordinate parts of any system when the radical, vital, fundamnental, and essential parts had failed.
9. What Adam lost was the divine life, and the happiness implied in it, as a favour granted on a condition. Observing this condition, he was to have it continued; but on breaking the condition it was to be forfeited. Adam may be compared to a lord in waiting, who should have free access to every room in the king's palace, one excepted. By abstaining from this intrusion he should have his honour and dignity preserved, and confirmed to his heirs forever ; but by offending as to the condition prescribed, he inust sink to the rank of a common subject, stripped of all his former dignity. How absurd would it be for the heirs of such a lord to step forward and claim what he had forfeited !-Equally absurd is it to say, that Adam's posterity are no sufferers by his transgression.
10. If we would form accurate notions of Adam's transgression, original sin, and the imputation of guilt, it will be of the utmost importance to consider the divine law, by which is the knowledge of sin, under a two-fold consideration.As a rule requiring conformity and obedience in every period of our existence, or the measure of moral obligation ; and as a covenant, the condition of which was perfect conformity and obedience, under a forfeiture of a special favour. The law as a rule may be transgressed times and methods innumerable ; but as a covenant it could be transgressed only once. For the very first offence was a breach of the condition, and a forfeiture of that favour which depended on the performance of that condition. It is possible for the transgressor of the law as a rule to become through grace a perfect character, and therefore perfectly conformable to that law. But to be perfectly conformable to the required condition, once broken, is impossible ; as impossible as to recall time once past, or to make transgression to be no transgression.
ii. Our author very justly remarks, that “ there is not the least need of sup posing any evil quality infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man, by any positive cause or influence whatsoever, either from God or the creature ; or of supposing that man is conceived and born with a fountain of evil in his boarty
was an inferior kind, which may be called NATURAL, being the principles of mere human nature; such as self-love, with
such as is any thing properly positive.” But however just this remark, there is reason to fear that many beside Dr. Taylor have imbibed a notion of original sin considerably different from what is here asserted. It is not improbable that the terms by which the evil has been commonly expressed without a due examination of the idea intended, have had no small influence to effect this. The frequent use of such analogical and allusive terms as pollution, defilement, corruption, contamination, and the like, seems to intimate something positive; as these expressions in their original meaning convey an idea of something superadded to the subject. Whereas other terms, though equally analogical and allusive, imply no such thing ; such as disorder, discord, confusion, and the like. We do not mean to condemn the use of the former, or to recommend the latter to their exclusion, but only design to caution from a wrong in ference from a frequent use of them.
12. On the subject of the imputation of Adam's offence to his posterity, our author, in the next chapter, has treated very ably and fully. But we may here observe, that it is of the greatest importance to have just views of what is called original guilt. It is to be feared that many form very confused notions of the subject, when it is said, "we are all guilty when born," or“ we are all guilty of Adam's transgression,” or “the guilt of Adam's offence is ours.” Though we conceive these and similar propositions to be expressive of an important truth, yet we are no less liable to be led astray from the true idea referred to by these expressions, than by others employed to represent moral depravity.
13. It may contribute to a clearness of conception on the subject, if we keep in mind that Adam was guilty by his first offence, under a two-fold consideration. He was guilty of a breach of law considered as a rule of rectitude, and of the same law as a covenant enjoining the observance of a special duty, which was the avowed and express condition of it. The performance of the condition was to secure not merely moral purity and innocence, but also the favour, or gracious benefit, which he possessed on the footing of a sovereign grant. This was his federal privilege. Now by the transgression of the law, considered as a covenant, this favour was forfeited ; and for God to treat him as one deprived of this favour, is the same thing as to treat him as guilty. For how could he be treated other wise, when the very condition on which he retained the favour was broken.
14. Whatever Adam possessed beyond those considerations which constituted him a moral agent, was the fruit of sovereign benevolence. Hence arises the propriety of regarding the possession of his privilege, on the observance of a specified condition, under the term covenant. For if Adam possessed some spiritual principles, or benevolent influences, as a person possesses immunities and privileges by charter for himself and his heirs; and if ihese chartered benefits be retained on condition of not offending in a specified manner; it follows, that a privation of such benefits belongs as much to the heirs as to the individual offending. But if they are treated for breach of such covenant, or charter held on condition, as persons included in the forfeiture, it is manifest they are regarded so far guilty, or worthy to suffer such loss.
15. From these considerations it follows, that Adam's breach of law as a rule, which brought guilt upon him as an individual, is n'it the guilt imputable to his posterity. During his long life, no doubt he was guilty of innumerable offences after the first transgression, but not one of these is imputed to us; the reason is, that after he broke the condition of the charter, he stood upon the bare ground of personal moral obligation. But personal guilt, on such ground, cannot in equity be transferred from one to another. The sins of the father, whether the first father or any other, considered merely as a personal deviation from rectitude, or a breach of moral obligation, cannot be imputed to the children.
16. What Adam therefore suffered for breach of covenant, was a privation of chartered benefits. The unavoidable effect of this was DEATH ; a privation of spiritual life-- which continued is death eternal--and a privation of that protection and care which would have preserved from temporal death. There seems little room to doubt, that even the corporeal or elementary part of Adam, underwent a great change by the fall. However, having farteited his charter of preservation
those natural appetites and passions, which belong to the nature of man, in which his love to his own liberty, honour, and pleasure, were exercised: These, when alone, and left to themselves, are what the scriptures sometimes call FLESH. Besides these, there were superior principles, that were spiritual, holy, and divine, summarily comprehended in divine love; wherein consisted the spiritual image of God, and man's righteousness and true holiness; which are called in scripture the divine nature. These principles may, in some sense, be called SUPERNATURAL,* being however concreated or connate, yet) such as are above those principles that are essentially implied in, or necessarily resulting from, and inseparably connected with, mere human nature; and being such as immediately de
by transgression, he and all his posterity became exposed to the natural operations of this world and its elements. Matter and motion, in animals and vegetables, in the natural state of things, ensure a dissolution.
17 Much has been said by some divines about the probability of Adam, had he kept the condition, being promoted to some situation still more exalted. But there is reason to suspect, that such a sentiment proceeds on the supposition of Adam possessing a less exalted situation than he really did possess. The idea seems to be founded on a probable promotion for continued obedience. But what could be a greater reward than a continuance of his chartered privileges ? And what a greater loss than their forseiture?
18. It would not be difficult to demonstrate, were not this note too far extended to admit of it, that Adam, dealt with on the ground of strict equity, would have been not less liable to defection than his posterity are, when they begin to exercise moral agency: Therefore the objection against the constitution of Adam and his posterity being regarded as one, is deprived of all force. For whatever creature, in whatever world, were dealt with in strict equity, without benevolent influence to counteract passive power, he would have no advantage against a liability to defection above the race of man after the fall. The only difference is, that Adam once actually possessed an exalted privilege, and fell from it. And if his posterity, rendered so far guilty as to be deprived of chartered benefits with him, cannot be raised to happiness from their fallen state without the exercise of benevolent sovereign influence in the plan of salvation ; it should be recollected, that Adam himself could not have maintained his standing but by the same benevolent sovereign influence, though exercised in a different way.
COROLLARY. 19. Hence the propriety and the true ground of the well known distinction of a believer in the second Adam not being under the law, (i. e. the condemnation of the law) as a covenant, though under the law as a rule. It is found, as to its true reason, in the state of Adam, as above explained.-W.
* To prevent all cavils, the reader is desired particularly to observe in what sense I here use the words natural and supernatural :-Not as epithets of distinction between that which is concreated or connate, and that which is extraordinarily introduced afterwards, besides the first state of things, or the order established originally, beginning when man's nature began; but as distinguishing between what belongs to, or flows from, that nature which man has, merely as man, and those things which are above this, by which one is denominated, not only a man, but a truly virluous, holy, and spiritual man; which, though they began in Adam as soon as humanity began, and are necessary to the perfection and well-being of the human nature, yet are not essential to the constitution of it, or necessary to its being : Inasmuch as one may have every thing needful to his being man, exclusively of them. If in thus using the words natural and supernatural, I use them in an uncommon sense, it is not from any affectation of singularity, but for want of other praymş more aptly to express my meaning.