« PreviousContinue »
dation laid in their very physical being. There is a sort of necessity superinduced upon the actions from the very constitution of the animal. It is an operative cause, laid in the very nature, which renders the result irresistible and infallible. Must we believe that men are inclined in the same way to sin, and that therefore, because of an innate propensity to sin-the foundation laid in the very nature—that nature, apart from, and prior to, any of its moral actings is sinful? That is to make God the author of sin, and to make men sin by physical necessity. The idea of God's creating men physically incapable of holiness and yet requiring holiness in them, and damning them to eternal misery for not possessing it, is too monstrous for any one avowedly to advocate,
Yet this idea seems to be wrapped up in the technics and illustrations of some. “ The scripture certainly” says Rivet, "oft-times insinuates to us, that original sin is not a mere privation, but something somehow positive, that is, it is wont to inculcate that it is affirmative." Paul's personification of sin, he interpreted literally and philosophically; so that, when the apostle exhorts christians, that they let not sin reign in (their) mortal body, that they should obey it in the lusts thereof,” he supposed his " words indicate, that there is some habitual lusting in man whose proper acts are actual lustings, which habitual evil the apostle calls sin.” Still less ambiguously does he seem to inculcate the monstrous sentiment above expressed. “They, therefore, have not significantly enough
1. Scriptura certe quoties peccatum originale nobis insinuat, non meram privationem, sed aliquid quodam modo positioum, id est affirmativum, solet. inculcare. Syn. pur. Tuxol. Disp. xv. p. 169.
2. Rom. vi, 12. 3. Quæ verba indicant, concupiscentiam quandam habitualem esse in homine, cujus proprii actus sunt conupiscentia actuales, quod malum habit. uale apostolus peccatum appellat. Synop. Per. Takol. Desp. xv. p. 162
expressed the force of this sin”-he had just above called it “a stain; and most filthy corruption of all the parts of man, as born into this world;" (labes et fædissima omnium hominis partium)—"who make it to consist only in the want of original righteousness; because, by it, our nature is not only devoid of any thing good, but also fertile and fruitful of every thing evil; so that it cannot be idle. Hence some of our men have said, that the fuel of sin is not without ACTUAL sin; yea, that it is actual sin; which, although said without authority, yet ought not to be calumniated by our adversaries, since they meant nothing else, than that this sin both exists in act, and is also actuating and operative, so that it cannot rest even in infants, but excites vicious (guilty) affections."
“But the subject of this subsistence or inhesion, (i. e. in which original sin subsists and inheres,) when this sin is considered, not in respect of the whole species of which it is predicated, but of the individual of which it is native and inherent, is not the body in man alone, nor the soul alone, but body and soul together; and so the man entire, as to all the faculties of body and soul, as to his entire self, and the whole of himself."
1. Non igitur significanter satis vim hujus peccati expressertint, qui eam tantum in justitiæ originalis carentia constituerunt; quia per illud natura nostra non tantum boni inops est, sed etiam malorum omnium adeo fertilis et ferax, ut otiosa esse non possit. Hine quidam e nostris fomitem peccati non esse absque actuali peccato, imo peccatum actuale esse dixerunt, quod axupws quidem dictum, in calumniam tamen non debuit ab adversarris, tra, hi, cum nihil aliud voluerint, quam peccatum hoc et esse actu, et actuosum etiam et operosum, ut ne in parvulis quidem quiescat, quin vitiosos motus excitet. Syxop. Pun. Tarol. Disp. xv.
2. Subjectum autem utepeces vel inhæsionis, quando peccatum hoc con. sideratur non respectu totius speciei de qua prædicatur, sed individui cui adnascitur et inhæret, est non solum hominis corpus, neque sola anima, sed corpus et anima simul, adeoque homo totus quantus, secundum omnes corporis et animæ facultates, secundum se totum, et totum sui.-Srxop. Pra, THEOL. Disp. xy. p. 167.
In the above language, which we have quoted frem one, whose name is of great authority with the advocates of physical depravity, it is very manifest, that the writer assigns the origin and certainty of sin among men, to some cause existing in the very soul itself, so that men sin by necessity of nature. And this nature is derived by natural generation!
The same view is also given of the subject hy Dr. Owen. He speaks of the impotency of the mind itself, as we have seen, saying that it is natural, “because it can never be taken away or cured, but by an immediate communication of a new spiritual power and ability, unto the mind itself, by the Holy Ghost, in its renovation, so curing the depravation of the faculty itself.” That impotency which he assigns to the mind, as the cause of sin, is clearly the result of its constitution by nature, for he places it in the very fuculty itself, and distinguishes it from what he correctly enough calls its moral impotency. If such is the cause of sin, man is truly to be pitied, and only to be pitied, not culpable; for God, his Creator and Judge, has made him, so that he can do nothing but sin; and that through the very necessities of his natare! To this, we must object; because we do not learn, from the scriptures, that man is destitute of natural ability; but, that the inability attributed to him is of a moral character, and because we can discern sufficient causes in operation, to render it morally certain, that all men will sin, without summoning to our aid, the philosophical supposition and theory of a physical depravity, or of there being an efficient cause in the very constitution of the soul, rendering it, anterior to all its voluntary acts, sinful in itself.
We shall take occasion, when noticing the developments of human depravity, to designate some of those causes in operation, which render it morally certain, that men universally will sin, as soon as capable of moral action. At present, it is of consequence merely to state, that they are not to be found in the physical structure of man's being, as propagated by natural generation simply. His depravity consists in the misdirection and inappropriate exercise of his faculties; not in wrong faculties inherited. And many causes may operate to secure such a direction and exercise of his faculties, without inferring from false analogies, suggested by a false physiology, that it must be an operative principle in the very soul, apart from and anterior to its exercises. Temptation alone is sufficient under present circumstances. We never dream of such a cause as this, operating, in Adam and Eve, to make them sin at first; and yet it was, doubtless, morally certain, in the eye of God, that, as exposed to temptation, and destitute of experimental knowledge of evil, they would sin. Where, then, is the necessity of summoning philosophy to our aid, in order to detect some hidden and mystical principle in our very nature, propagated, by natural generation, as the cause of sin ?
1. Owen on the Spirit, vol. i, p. 418.
We scarcely deem it necessary to explain the meaning of moral certainty, as every reader must be aware of it. It is morally certain that the sun will rise to-morrow, and that we will die; but these things are not physically necessary. We can see, too, in our individual history, as well as in the history of the world, various moral causes in operation, which induce a certainty, as it respects results, by no means physically necessary. The truth of the above remarks will be more obvious, when we shall have carefully investigated the subject of human ability; to which we invite the reader's candid attention in the next chapter.
OF THE NATURE OF HUMAN ABILITY.
The term ability used in two senses All human energy to be referred to the co-operating agency of God, John xv. 5. 2 Cor, iji. 5. Psalm lxviii. 35. iii. 5. xvii. 1, 29–34—To the will is assigned the office, of bringing into immediate exercise whatever of energy may be exerted—The co-operating agency of God, is always in accordance with certain established modes of action, adapted to human capacities—No obligation where there is no capacity—The requisite capacities for faith, repentance, &c. possessed by man—Quotation from Dr. Owen—No change produced by the fall in the established laws, by which God governs the mind—Dr. Owen's views, as to the impotency of men's natural capacities--Objected to-An essential difference in the circumstances, under which Adam and his descendants come into existence-Quotation from Dr. Howe- Man needs no new capacities for rebellion-Has fallen under no constitutional imbecility—The strength of human faculties lies not in themselves—The inability of men moral—The distinction between natural and moral inability very commonly made-Recognised in the Scriptures—Heb. ix. 5; Mark ü. 19; John xxi. 25; Mark vi. 5; Mat. xxvi. 39 and Luke xxii. 42; Jer. Xvi. 1; Isai. i. 13; 1 John, iï. 9-Of daily occurrence-Quotation from Fuller—Howe-Erskine-Dwight-No room for the current sneers, &c. directed against the distinction between natural and moral ability-Rom. viii. 7; Gal. v. 17; Rom. viii. 15–18 examined— The inability attributed to man in the sacred scriptures, that of will — Any other view of the subject renders faith exceedingly difficult
, as it exposes God, in his professions to sinners, to the charge of insincerity–Hos. xi. 7–8; Luke xix. 42; xiii. 35; Jer. viii. 5; xiii. 27; xvi. 12; xxii. 21; Ezek. xxxü, 11—The imperti. nence of philosophy.
The subject of natural and moral inability, has been so often and so ably handled, that but little would be requisite from us, were we not aware that it is one, altogether