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attend to the subjoined remarks of M'Cosh, and apply them to our first parents.
“Mankind find the mind that is thoroughly honorable, always acting a thoroughly honorable part. And this is the ground of the confidence which we put in our fellow creatures. Were the will utterly capricious, as some suppose, then we could put no confidence in a fellow man; nay, with reverence be it spokeo, we could not put confidence in God himself. Mankind do, in fact, trust in a person known to be of thorough integrity, that he will always be upright. So far as we have fears, that any given individual may commit a dishonest action, it is because we are not sure whether he is possessed of complete integrity. So far as we are deceived with any individual in whom we trusted, it is not because his character has not brought forth its proper fruits, but because we were deceived in the estimate formed of his character.” P. 283.
Here he fully sustains us in the inference we have already drawn, that Adam's first sin was the “proper fruit” of the character God gave him; and he shuts us up to one of two conclusions; either Adam was not created holy, or else he has always remained so. In fine, according to his philosophy, a perfectly holy will must forever be holy in its desires, volitions, resolves. Adam was created with such a will. Yet he sinned; and his sin must have been voluntary, or by the admission of all, he could not have been responsible for it. How, then, did his thoroughly upright will decide on transgression ?
4. It cannot be reconciled with the moral agency of man. To this objection he replies at some length. We give the gist of his argument. .
“ Place before the mind a murder committed by a party through pure physical compulsion brought to bear on the arm that inflicts the blow, and the conscience says, here no guilt is attachable. But let this same murder be done with the thorough consent of the will, the conscience stops not to enquire whether this consent has been caused or no. On the contrary, it immediately declares the action to be highly criminal. Should it be proven that this act of the will has proceeded from an uiterly malignant state of the will going before, so far from withdrawing its former sentence, the conscience pronounces a farther condemnation upon the prior exhibition of the will now brought under its notice." P. 287.
In direct opposition to these positions, we contend that, if any being have a will so utterly depraved as to be incapable of choosing the right and rejecting the wrong, he cannot be censured for the crimes he commits, unless he had by a previous avoidable choice superinduced the total depravity of his will. And then the blame is based upon the ground, that a man is responsible not only for the avoidable deeds which he commits, but also for the necessary consequences of those deeds. Thus a man deserves punishment for the evil he does in a state of drunkenness, because he ought not to have placed himself in that state. We have heard even Calvinistic divines argue the justice of the infliction of penalties upon lost spirits for the sins which they are constantly committing, though their nature obliges them to commit them, simply from the consideration that, when they were not thus constrained to sin by an inward irresistible impulse, they destroyed their own capacity to work righteousness, and brought upon themselves the necessity of transgressing. But let us suppose some being to be created with a nature as thoroughly, as incurably impure, as that of infernal spirits. He has intelligence. He has a conscience. He has a will, and his will determines his actions. But his will is útterly unholy and malignant. It is drawn towards sin by a more than magnetic attraction. He is incapable of loving, of desiring, of choosing, of following good. According to M'Cosh, he has all the elements of responsibility. The fact that his sins are the necessary product of the nature with which he was created; of the unalterable greediness after iniquity which has been an essential quality of his spirit from the first moment of his existence, does not destroy his accountability. On the contrary, this desperate, hopeless depravity constitutes a new and heavy charge against him. Can this be true? Must we not pronounce him not to be resposible? Does not this case prove that, when we are considering beings in a state of probation, that is, those who have not finally destroyed their capacity for good, the conscience must utter its adverse sentence against an act upon the ground that it is the result not only of the will, but of a will capable of a different determination ? And horrible as the case supposed is, it is not, to our thinking, more so than that God should create man with a nature containing in itself elements which, under the influence of the condition assigned him, necessarily operated its own deterioration.
Let us now consider the acts of persons who are corrupt, though not to such an extent as to render them wholly incapable of any virtue. We will suppose a case which has, doubtless, occurred in actual life. A child exhibits from its birth a more than usually wicked temper, deriving it probably from the peculiar character of his parents. He is raised amid the most vicious associations. The influences brought to bear upon him are exceedingly pernicious. His heart becomes very bad ; his will very perverted. At an early age he commits theft. All condemn the deed. But will it be an aggravation or an extenuation of his guilt, that it proceeded from a heart which, owing in part to its original nature and in part to its unfortunate education, must have been so forcibly inclined to evil; so little susceptible to the charms of virtue ? Just in proportion to the virulence of that depravity which was produced by causes not under his control, must our judgment against him be more lenient; and if it were so great as to preclude the impossibility of his acting otherwise, we must absolve him from condemnation altogether. And the determination of Adam to disobey his Maker is reprehensible, not because “it has proceeded from an utterly malignant state of the will going before,” but because he sinned in spite of the preceding holiness of his nature.
By William S. Grayson, Esq., Mississippi.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 566.
The question of the apostolical succession should engage the attention and careful examination of Christians for the reason, that it intimately affects the validity of the church of Christ. Whether a collection of Christians organized, be a valid church of Christ or not, is undeniably a consideration of no small import. It affects the question of our responsibility to God. It affects some of the most delightful and cherished privileges of Christian association. We believe it to be universally conceded, in one way or another, that the validity of church organization, does not affect the higher and more important subject of the essential condition of salvation. We believe it to be generally admitted in this country, that the subjects of apostolical succession and the condition of salvation are essentially distinct and independent ; the one relating to the constitutional organization of the Christian church, and the other the due preparation of the soul for the Paradise of God.
These principles and these distinctions were authoritatively determined and set to rest, in the case of the thief on the cross, and in the instances of those Christians who obtained salvation during the period of time that intervened between the completion of the Gospel as a system of salvation with its condition of faith and the delivery of the ministerial commission and the consequent institution of a Christian church. The Gospel was completed on the cross, and the ministerial commission was delivered many days after. Still, every question concerning the validity of the church of Christ,
should interest the Christian mind. We are to remember that the opposite of the doctrine of apostolical succession is the one of lay ordination. All who hold to the authority of the doctrine of the apostolical succession, thereby necessarily repudiate the validity of lay ordination, and vice versa.
But much may be understood by lay ordination that does not properly attach to it. We are not to infer that lay Christians have a general and indiscriminate right to organize a church at their own will and pleasure. The doctrine of lay ordination comprehends the original right of Christ's followers to organize in conformity with the directions and usages of the apostles. A church once organized, holding this conformity, all farther innovation is prohibited upon the ground that it is not proper to do wrong. The right appertains to all Christians to obey Christ in organizing his church without regard to ministerial distinctions, but having obeyed him, the right is at an end. When a church is properly organized it has bishops, elders, and deacons, with the right of ordination attaching to the office of bishop. No Christian has a right to reorganize a church thus properly organized, for the plain reason that such a right would permit him to do wrong, to disobey Christ, to organize his church otherwise than according to the proper scriptural form. Lay ordination, then, only contemplates the right in Christians, irrespective of ministerial distinctions to organize according to the Scriptures. They as well as the ministry have no right to organize otherwise. The doctrine of the apostolical succession reposes upon the ground, that the validity of the church of Christ depends upon the observance of the laws of self-continuation, understood as ordination laws, attaching exclusively to a particular order of the Christian ministry, shutting out thereby all right of innovation upon the part of the laity in cases of supposed heresy upon the part of the order; that the very existeuce of a Christian church depends upon the unfailing exactitude with which the laws of ordination are observed ; that if those laws be not observed a church of Christ cannot exist;