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children of God. Why then contend about speculative principles, or theories, according to which one man and another prefers weaving together the facts of scripture—when, if technicalities and theories were laid aside, it would be found, that all are agreed, as to the matter of fact? If a man will confess, that the transaction of God with our first parents, was such as to affect the whole human race;-that it is in consequence of their sin that we all die;-that it is most certain too, that as soon as we are capable of moral agency, we become guilty of actual sin;-and that such is the condition, or state of things, under which men are born into this world, that they will universally and voluntarily perpetuate the rebellion of the first pair, without some other agency than was originally employed to prevent it,— what more can be desired by the most strenuous advocate of such technicalities, as the representative character of Adam, the imputation of sin, sinning in Adam, falling with him, original sin, the corruption of our whole nature, and the like? Must a man be denounced as having denied the faith-be branded with the charge of heresy, and be subjected to all the fears, and suspicions, and evil speaking, which must thence arise, affecting alike his reputation and usefulness, merely because he does not express himself in terms, consecrated by long usage, but terms of man's inventing, while he nevertheless admits every fact that can be established, either by scripture or observation? Is it right, does it at all savour of the spirit of christianity, to declaim against him, as having broken his ordination vows, merely because he does not think it expedient to adopt the language of the Confession of Faith; which, like all other living languages, has suffered from the changes continually taking place in the signification of words, while he admits and believes, that the "system of doctrine," as set forth in that confession, when its terms are fairly and properly un
derstood, is agreeable to the sacred Scriptures? Does hisordination vow, bind him always to express his views of the great facts of Scripture, in the language of the confession? Assuredly it does not. And if a man admits the grand essential facts of revelation, though he may even object against human technicalities, yet ought we to receive him as a brother. The Bible has not thrown those facts together into systematic order, and required us to adopt it. Why, then, shall we be so tenacious of technical terms, and systematic arrangement of truth, when, perhaps, there may be much, if not of false philosophy, at least of human imperfection in both.
These remarks are not made, because of any dislike or hostility towards Confessions of Faith, much less towards our own, as a convenient instrument of ecclesiastical fellowship, but to guard against the substitution & exaltation of such fellowship, to the exclusion and injury of that which is christian. The experience of the church has shewn, that submission. to formularies, though most rigidly enforced, cannot secure the spirit of christianity, or even perfect unity of sentiment among a people. It is the unity of the Spirit alone, which constitutes the effectual and eternal bond; but that, instead of being promoted, is impaired by zealous contentions for technicalities, and set forms of speech, without fraternal fellowship to ascertain, as heart beats in unison with heart, whether, and how far, there is accordance in the belief of the grand essentials of our religion. It is for the faith of the gospel, that we are earnestly to contend; but that has reference to facts of revelation, and not to the theories or technicalties, which men have thrown around them.
If it be said that infants die, in consequence of some inherent taint, or physical disorder in their moral susceptibilities, derived by natural generation from Adam, rendering them personally guilty, and deserving of damnation, before their own actual sin, the idea is certainly different, But this, as
suredly, will not be affirmed. For the apostle does manifestly speak of death, as eventuating in every instance, as the consequence of the one offence, not of the offence of the individual dying, but of the first man. "Through the offence of one," says he, "many be dead." "By one man's offence, death reigned by one." "The judgment was by one (offence) to condemnation"-"by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation." Nothing, therefore, can be inferred from the death of infants, as to any personal participation in the act and criminality of Adam's sin, requiring or justifying it; nor as to any inherent or physical depravity. Death is the natural and legitimate consequence of the first sin of Adam. It eventuates by virtue of the constitution ordained with him.
But does not this conclusion militate against the revela tions of God? Paul has said, that "death reigned over Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned, after the similitude of Adam's transgression." It is taken for
1. Perhaps we are too sanguine in thus thinking. For Dr. Green, whose | opinions are quoted as authority by some, has indorsed a theory on the subject of the derivation of depravity, at variance with such an idea, and as deserving of chief consideration. He holds the following extraordinary language, at the weakness and absurdity of which, we know not whether to smile or frown:-"If we must speculate, and form a theory on this subject," says he, (he had just before affirmed, "that the soul is not created impure”) "the safest and MOST RATIONAL is, to suppose that all souls were created at the beginning of the world; that they remain in a quiescent state, till the bodies which they are to inhabit are formed; that, on union with these bodies, they receive all their original impressions, by means of the external senses; that the whole system of bodily appetites and propensities, with the fancy or imagination which is closely connected with them, having become irregular, excessive, and perverted by the fall, do UNAVOIDABLY corrupt the soul, and enslave it to sin."-CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE, VOL. 3, p. 530. Whether this "theory" has been borrowed from the Brachminical Mythology, or the Stoical philosophy, which represent the soul of man to be of pure celestial origin, an emanation from the Deity, but corrupted by its union with grosser matter, our readers may conjecture. The facts of Scripture need no theories for illustration, suggested by heathen mythology.
2. Rom. v. 15, 16, 17, 18,
3. Bom v. 14.
granted by many, that infants are here referred to, and that," as they are said to have sinned, while incapable of actual or voluntary sin, it must be, that the apostle contemplates either physical depravity, or personal moral ill desert, or both, since, only by some essential derangement of the moral susceptibilities, or a participation in Adam's sin, could they be said to have "sinned." But does the apostle speak of infants at all? As he evidently speaks of having "sinned," which is an action, we might thence presume, that he is referring to the acts of voluntary agents, and the more especially, because he seems to deny only a formal resemblance between Adam's transgression, and
the sin of those to whom he refers.
If, however, we look into the context, we shall find, that the fact of death's reigning "over those that had not sinned, after the similitude of Adam's transgression," is cited in proof of another fact, viz:-that there was a law exis
tent from Adam to Moses, though it did not at all resemble that which Adam had violated. The law, which Adam had violated, was a positive precept, superadded to the law which was engraven on his heart. Such was not the law from Adam to Moses. But still he teaches that there was a law, and confirms it by the fact, that sin was in the world. Men actually did sin during that period. But it is not the procedure of God, or the dictate of common. sense, to account, that there either is or can be sin, where there is no law. "Sin is not imputed, where there is no law." His object seems to be, to support his assertion, viz:-that, by virtue of the sin of our first parents, men had become sinners, and were righteously subjected to death-there having been a law which they had violated, notwithstanding it was not of the same formal character, with that which Adam had transgressed, and for the viola
1. Rom. v. 3.
tion of which, death might be most righteously, as it was actually, inflicted on them that had not sinned, after the similitude of Adam's transgression. We can, therefore, see no reason to suppose, that the apostle' uses the word sin here, in a sense, contrary to his own definition of it, as being "the transgression of the law”—the act of a voluntary being, under the government of law;-and, if so, there is no room for the supposition, that he is here speaking of infants.
What he says of "sin dwelling in” him, &c. has been already explained.
Having, therefore, as we think, shewn, that there is nothing decisively to be objected from the death of infants, against the views presented in the preceding chapters,--that they are, in fact, not under the actual government of law, but merely under the providential rule of the great Creator—and that there is nothing, in the facts and language of scripture, to confirm the idea of there being something crcated in us, and born with us, which, prior to all voluntary acts, constitutes us really sinners in the sight of God, we return from this digression, and proceed to trace the law of development yet further, as it operates to secure the guilt of personal sin, as soon as the individuals become moral agents.
With instincts operating, sensations experienced, and nothing more than passions or feeling developed, the infant has not yet actually become a moral agent, and, consequently, possesses no moral character. It has not risen above the level of the mere animal. Intellection must be superadded, at least to such a degree, as that the individual shall have knowledge of law, before that it can become a subject of law. Man differs from the entire animal creation beside, in that he is possessed of capacities, which are designedly fitted for the lofty enjoyments and purposes of the knowledge