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untary acts. And if she was led into sin, though characteristically holy, and destitute of any innate propensity to sin, where is the necessity for supposing, that the sins of her progeny are to be referred to such a cause? She influenced Adam to sin, and there was no such cause in his nature. Their progeny are placed under circumstances, by no means as propitious to holiness, and it would be strange indeed, if they would not, most naturally, through the very impulses of their constitutional susceptibilities, be induced to choose what God forbids, when their progenitors, with expanded powers and comprehensive knowledge, and placed in circumstances propitious to holiness, abused their liberty in this way. But an objection may be raised, from the death of infants, before capable of moral action, which requires careful attention, and into which we must digress.
THE MORAL CERTAINTY OF HUMAN DE
The death of infants made a source of objection against the views of human
depravity, as advocated in this and the preceding chapter-False inferences deduced from the fact-Disputes about what old Calvinists believed-By no means for christian edification—Other inquiries of more importance–The Apostle's use of the term “wages,” not decisive-Supreme deference due only to the words of Christ—The use of the term punishment—The facts ascertainable in the case–The consequences of the first sin traced in respect of the irrational creation–Thence an inquiry suggested in relation to those affecting the human race-Nothing gained by theories here--Agreement as it respects essential facts-A false assumption-Remarks on the use of technics—The supposition of an inherent taint of depravity-Rom. v, 14 examined—A further observation of the circumstances under which we are called as moral agents, first to act—The mind's susceptibility as to pleasure and pain—Its power of suspending an action till a correct judgment is formed—Danger arising from the want of knowledge acquired by experience-Instanced in Eve--Thence inferred in reference to her offspring-Various laws in operation under which human beings are brought into existence, and first called to act—The law of development noticed in its progressive results.
• The wages of sin is death." Of this fact there can be no dispute. How then, it is asked does it come to pass, that infants die, if sin cannot be predicated of them personally? That they have ever sinned by personal acts, cannot be proved; and will not be asserted. Therefore it is inferred that either there must be some innate sinful propensity inherited from Adam, which renders them de
1. Rom. vii, 23.
serving of death and eternal damnation prior to all moral acts; or, having been personally represented in Adam, they have really participated in his act, and the cirminality of that act, and thus are rendered deserving of death and damnation.
This latter idea has of late been the occasion and theme of much dispute, and what is not a little remarkable, much of the zeal, in this dispute, is displayed on the incidental question, whether old Calvinistic writers understood the doctrine of imputation in this or another sense, ty maintains that old Calvinists such as Owen, Turretine, and others did explain the doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin, in such way, as to convey the idea, that both the act and ill descrt of Adam's sin, are as really and truly his descendants,' as if they had committed it themselves. The other deny, “First, that this doctrine iuvolves any mysterious union with Adam, any confusion of our identity with him, so that his act was personally and properly our act; and secondly, that the moral turpitude of that sin was transferred from him to us; we deny the possibility of any such transfer. These," continues the writer in the Biblical Repertory, “are the two ideas which the Spectator, and others, consider as necessarily involved in the doctrine of imputation, and for rejecting which, they represent us as having abandoned the old doctrine on the subject." Both, however, admit, that death in infants ensues, by virtue of their connection with Adam. They agree as it regards the matter of fact; but they differ as to their explanations of that fact; one party affirming, that death is the natural consequence of Adam's sin; the other, that it is its legal punishment.
It is a remark, which must be obvious to every reader, that it is by no means for christian edification to dispute about what any uninspired men said or thought. Why shall the
1. See Biblical Repertory, v. ii, p. 436.
churches be distracted, because divines of different schools are disagreed as to what Calvin, and Stapfer, and Turretine, and Owen, and Edwards, meant, when they spoke of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity? Is it not the dictate of common sense, to go, at once, to the Scriptures, and having diligently compared them, by fair and equitable reasoning, or criticism, ascertain what is the mind of the Spirit? We shall not perplex our readers by noticing the philosophical theories of former or modern writers on this subject. But there are several points on which it may be important to have definite ideas.
We shall not inquire whether“the imputation of Adam's sin,” means this or that. The very fact of existing disputes about it, shews that it is high time to employ terms less liable to be misunderstood. It is of more consequence to determine, whether the death of infants is the punishment of their own sins, or the punishment of Adam's sin, or a consequence to which they are naturally liable by virtue of their fore-fathers' rebellion?
The expression “wages," which the Apostle employs, is undoubtedly figurative. It must be metaphorically interpreted, before it can be quoted by any one as meaning the penalty of the law. There is no other place in the New Testament, where it is so used. If another quotes it as meaning the certain result—the consequence which follows just as naturally as the soldiers pay might be looked for his services—he adheres more strictly to the import of the expression, so that in the general question, nothing can be decided by the Apostle's use of this term.
It behooves us carefully to examine the scriptural account of this matter, and to cease from the tenacious use
any technical expression whatever, however consecrated by antiquity, which men may have employed to exhibit their ideas as to what the Spirit teaches. To the words of Christ, we must defer, and not to the technics of men.' “ If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions, and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil-surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth."2
That infants are punished for their own inherent phystcal depravity, we shall not here take time to disprove. We have already seen that in fact there is no such thing as physical depravity. That they personally are punished
1. We are happy to have it in our power as this form goes to press, to extract the following, for the benefit of some of our readers as expressive of the vicws and feelings of the brethren of New Haven, whom it has become fashionable in certain quarters to censure and condemn, as having denied a fundamental article of the christian faith, in the views which they express relative to the imputation of Adan's sin.
“To conclude," say the conductors of the Christian Spectator, “ we attach no kind of importance to the question, what was the old doctrine on this subject, except in its bearing on existing movements in the Presbyterian Church. It is a fact of much more importance, and one much more gratifying to us, that our brethren so explicitly deny the imputation of the guilt or moral demerit of Adam's sin, to his posterity. This we consider as so much real gain to the cause of truth. And if, as our brethren intimate, the old Calvinists of the Presbyterian Church, go with them in this denial, we shall anticipate still more benign results. That unauthorized use of words and phrases, to which we have objected, and which is so far from expressing our brethren's own views as they explain thein, must soon be abandoned. Instead of that unguarded mode of stating the doctrine of imputation as including two things, when according to their explanation, it contains but one; instead of adopting the figurative phraseology of common life in their doctrinal statements, and denying its literal import;-instead of using the word punishment, to denote evil inflicted without res. pect to the moral desert of its subject and the words guilt, and ill-desert, to denote mere exposure to penal evils, we confidently expect greater precision and accuracy in their pırascology: Nor is this change desireable for its
2. 1 Tim. vi. 3. 5.