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haps, it has not) been wholly lost and spent, has been so variously mingled with, and modified by, the influences proceeding from the long series of intermediate generations, that we may justly be said to be free from it in its original and pure form.” p. 117. If then it be conceded, that our sin may be traced to influences back of the will, while yet the will is free in yielding to those influences, how can it be maintained that, “ to attempt to trace it [sin) to anything farther back [than our personal volition] is to annihilate it ? ” p. 116. It is in vain to say that we are influenced by merely the example of Adam. Dr. Sheldon admits that influences “ which have some tendency to lead to acts of sin,” are “ found in the relation of the appetitive or propensional part of the nature to the moral part, and in the external circumstances and situation of men.” p. 116. “ The true origin of actual sin, in every human being, is found in the relation of the appetitive and the propensional part of our nature to the rational and the moral part.” p. 123. Why is it, then, that in all mere men this disordered relation, which is distinct from external example, is found at the beginning of their personal life, and leads them to sin? Why do we not find some exception ? This question is answered by the unforced interpretation of the words : “ By one man's disobedience many were constituted sinners,” etc. “In opposition to this,” says Dr. Sheldon, “ we maintain that sin can just as easily and as conceivably begin its existence in every one of the descendants of Adam, as it would begin its existence in Adam himself. [All men could sin; but would all men sin, if heir nature were perfect?] We have before shown how Adam and Eve, constituted as they were, could be tempted and sin ; and what we said there, is equally a proof that their descendants may all be tempted to sin.” p.115. (See the same idea stated more fully on p. 121.) Dr. Sheldon here overlooks the fact that the uniformity of phenomena needs to be accounted for, as well as the individual phenomena themselves. As the concurrence of witnesses in favor of a cause is an argument for it, distinct from the separate testimonies of the individual witnesses; so the uniformity of sin, in all men, in the earliest period of their moral existence, is a distinct argument for a nature inclining them to sin, and will remain such, even if each individual act of sin can, by ingenious hypotheses, be otherwise accounted for. The Bible gives us the idea that Adam’s nature did not, at first, incline him to sin; was thus, at first, different from our own; and by his “offence” we are “dead.” The fifth of Romans obliges us to differ from Dr. Sheldon, in his theory that perhaps “we all start with a well-adjusted nature,” and “commit sin just as Adam and Eve with their perfect nature" did. p. 121.
It is one great evil of false doctrine that it repels men to opposite errors. In his discussion of the atonement, Dr. Sheldon rejects the theories that Christ became morally guilty of the sins of men or of any part of them, pp. 148–151 ; that he underwent the moral “punishment which is due to the sins of men;" so that he literally bore all that the law threatened against them (pp. 151–159); " that the sufferings of Christ were equal, in amount, to what men would have suffered for their sins, if no salvation had
been provided for them.” pp. 154—156. Revolting from these doctrines, our author does not stop at the true, but passes on to a false and an extreme, theory. He rejects the idea that the sufferings and death of Christ “ were necessary to make the exercise of divine mercy to men consistent with the maintenance of divine justice.” pp. 156–159. But this theory is essential for the explanation of the fact that Christ (rather than Paul or John) was made “ sin for us ;f' that God set Christ forth “ to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” We know not how to explain these and similar passages, and why they are applied to Christ rather than to all the servants of God, if we adopt the theory of Dr. Sheldon. This theory is : “ Christ, in the accomplishment of his work in behalf of men, was brought at every step into direct connection with the sin of men, and he was made sin, or treated as a sinner, by all who opposed his teachings, threw obstacles in his way, and sought and compassed his death. God, who sent him into the world to declare himself and teach the saving truth, and who knew all the opposition which he must thus encounter, did himself set forth his Son in this way, a spectacle of One unjustly suffering from men, while seeking to recover them to righteousness. It was the divine will that he should thus come, suffer, die on the cross, rise again and pass into heaven, in order to reveal God fully to us, be to us a pattern of all goodness, and, by the power of divine love working in him and through him, draw us to forsake our sins and obey him. Had he desisted from teaching men the truth, on account of the opposition raised against him, he would have suffered less from the sin of men, but at the same time have done less to save them. If he had made his abode on earth shorter, or less conspicuous; if he had kept himself from the great festivals and gathering-places of the Jews, and avoided intercourse, now with the common people, and now with the chief men and rulers ; he would have escaped much hatred and persecution; but he would also have done less to reveal himself and his religion. He would not have connected himself, in so many ways, with his time; he would not have so worked himself and his acts and teachings into that varied history, through which he now addresses us. The heavenly compassion, which was in him, would not have come forth so fully and winningly to view. We needed all his life, miracles, and conversations, and all his manifold connection with the sin which was ever assailing him, in order that we might be gained by his sympathy and love, and be brought to heed his call to repentance.” pp. 159, 160.
In what sense are we made the righteousness of God, in Christ ? Not, says Dr. Sheldon, by a transference of Christ's own righteousness to ourselves. pp. 167–172. How then ? " The exhibition of Christ furnishes us with the best possible idea of true goodness, pp. 172—174; it is suited to awaken a return of love from us to him, pp. 175—178 ; it is the specially appointed medium through which God imparts his saving power to men, pp. 178—181. But throughout the entire discussion of this theme, Dr. Shel
don fails to exhibit the old Hebraistic sense of the word righteous, as denoting acceptance with God. The sinner is made righteous, when he is treated as if he were righteous. Christ is made the representative of sinners for us, and we are made the representatives of righteous men by him. Dr. Sheldon too often neglects the Hebrew idioms in his interpretation of the Bible.
He reduces what we ordinarily call the atonement, to a merely persuasive influence over men, and discards from it any influence on the government of God. He considers repentance not only a condition, but also a ground of pardon. But when we reject the governmental agency of the atonement, we impair its moral, persuasive agency upon men. This moral power over the human heart, is but a branch of the tree, and its vitality is diminished in proportion as the stock is injured.
We had intended, but our space forbids us, to comment on Dr. Sheldon's unauthorized use of the word atonement; see pp. vii, 163, 164 ; his inadequate definition of spiritual death," see pp. 80, 81 ; his objectionable phraseology on the extent of human depravity, p. 114. He says: “We believe,” “not that they [unregenerate men) never perform any right actions, but that they frequently, and often quite habitually, perform wrong ones.” If the word right here means holy, morally right, Dr. Sheldon denies the true doctrine of total depravity. Perhaps, however, he uses the term right, as denoting “natural virtue," " pathological goodness," "civil right.”
If the vigorous and independent mind of Dr. Sheldon would not spring from the rejection of one error into the adoption of another; if he would stop on the Edwardean ground, midway between two injurious extremes, he would accomplish a great work for the cause of truth. His fresh thoughts, when accurate, are attractive ; but they are so often incorrect, that they mislead the reader, who is interested in their originality. If his volume be met by fair argument, instead of dishonest and bigoted invective; if it be calmly and philosophically examined, instead of being furiously denounced, it will do good; for its errors may be easily refuted, and the discussion which they elicit will confirm men in the true faith.
IV. Knight's COMMENTARY ON TIE ROMANS."
In our last Number, pp. 210, 211, we noticed a work by Mr. Knight, on the Doctrine of Scriptural Predestination. We regard his Commentary on the Romans, as far superior to that volume. Although written under many disadvantages, it may be read with much profit. It suggests not a few striking ideas. A fair and independent mind characterizes its various discussions. Our author has avoided the fault specified by Lord Bacon, who says of commentators and commentaries : “ It is ever usual to blanch obscure places
1 A Critical Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans. By Robert Knight, Perpetual Curate of Warton. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons; Simpkin, Marshall and Co. Oxford: J. H. Parker. Cambridge: Macmillan and Co. Atherstone: W. C. Holland. 1855. pp. 640. 8vo.
and discourse upon the plain.” Mr. Knight is not always so clear nor so accurate as we could wish ; but he meets the difficulties of his theme with a brave heart, and hesitates not to express his opinion upon them in his own style. He does not write as a partisan. Even when erroneous, he seems honest and fair. A few quotations from the work will illustrate its character. Mr. Knight thus paraphrases the contested passage, Rom. 5: 12—19:
“(12) Wherefore, since the benefits procured for men by Christ are so great, they are fully commensurate with the evils which they were intended to remedy. For as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin ; and so death passed upon all men, to the extent of incurring which all, without exception, have sinned (13), it is evident, that even to the coming of the law sin was in the world ; but actual sin is not reckoned where there is no law; for, where there is no law, there can be no transgression. (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, during which period no law was given. Therefore death must, it is clear, have been the consequence of that sin which all men inherit; for death reigned even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, and who, dying in infancy, were perfectly free from all actual sin ; or who, reconciled to God through faith in the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, had received forgiveness of all actual sin. Neither of these classes, and most certainly not the former, had sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come ; for neither of them sinned against a distinctly-revealed law; and the former persons were free from all actual sin, so that, in their case, death was clearly the result of sin original. (15) But not as the offence of Adam, so is the free gift by Christ. For if, through the offence of one, the multitudes who have peopled the earth from the time of Adam's fall until now, have died through Adam; much more hath the grace of God, and the gift of a resurrection through grace, abounded unto the many through Christ. By Adam they were involved in a temporal dissolution ; by Christ they are raised to an enduring existence. (16) And not, as if it had been bestowed through one that had sinned, so is the gift; for even if men had not inherited a corrupt nature from Adam, nor been involved in the consequences of his personal sin, still, according to the covenant in which he was placed, and to which, in that case, they would have succeeded, a single offence would have involved them in judgment unto condemnation; but, according to the covenant in which Christ places them, the free gift is a forgiveness of many offences unto justification. (17) For if (notwithstanding Christ's intervention) by one man's offence death reigned, by the corruption of nature entailed by one; much more they, which consent to receive the abundance of the grace and of the gift of the righteousness that flows from Christ, shall reign in life through one, Jesus Christ; and in their future reign in life and glory through Christ, they shall receive an abundant compensation for their short deprivation of life through Adam. (18) Therefore, as by one offence, judgment came upon all men, in the manner already stated above (ver. 12) unto condemnation to death, even so, by one righteous act, the free gift came upon all
men unto adjudication of life. (19) For, as by one man's (Adam's) offence the multitudes who have peopled this world have been placed in the position of sinners, by being handed over to death, so, by the obedience of one, even Christ, shall the same multitudes be placed in the position of righteous persons, so far as to be raised from death.” pp. 613, 614.
In the 12th verse, ý ápapria is explained as denoting "original sin, a sinful constitution, consisting in a derangement of the original equipoise of the soul, and due subordination of our various faculties and powers. The word Suvaros is explained as meaning temporal death merely:
“ Many commentators contend that the death here spoken of is the whole penalty of sin. That it is not so, is almost susceptible of demonstration. In the next verse but one, the same death is said to have reigned over all, from Adam to Moses. Now I would ask, Did eternal death reign over all, from Adam to Moses? And if not, how can it be contended that Núvaros means eternal death? Temporal death did thus reign, and universal dominion during that period can be accorded only to temporal death. It seems contrary to all our views of God's character, that infants should be eternally damned for Adam's sin, without the intervention of any act of their own wills; but if it was clearly and indisputably revealed, it would be our duty to submit our views to an express declaration. The present passage, however, gives no support to such a doctrine. In the examination of the following verses, I shall be enabled to bring forward several extracts from St. Chrysostom, which will prove that he regarded temporal death as the death here meant. The following are from Bishop Taylor ; Ambrose, as quoted by him ; and from Bishop Terrot : • But against those that say the flames of hell are the portion of Adam's heirs, and that infants dying in original sin are eternally tormented, as Judas, or Dives, or Julian, I call to witness all the economy of the Divine goodness, justice, and truth. The soul that sinneth, it shall die ; as I live, saith the Lord, the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; that is, he shall not be guilty of his crime, nor liable to his punishment.'—Bp. Taylor. Upon the account of these reasons, I suppose it safe to affirm, that God does not damn any to hell merely for the sin of our first father, which I sum up in the words of St. Ambrose, or whoever is the author of the commentaries upon the epistle of St. Paul attributed to him : “ Mors autem dissolutio corporis est, cum anima a corpore separatur. Est et alia mors, quæ secunda dicitur, in gehenna, quam non peccato Adæ patimur, sed ejus occasione propriis peccatis acquiritur:” but by occasion of it we fall into it by our sins.”—IDEM. “ You set up his sovereignty to confront his other attributes, viz. his justice and mercy, and think
do much honor him in assigning him a power to command perjury, blasphemy, and a prerogative to cast poor innocent babes into helltorments, a piece of doctrine which the great patriarch never dreamt of, when he expostulated with his Maker and said, Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ? ” — Bp. Lomock's Pref. TO TRIAL OF TIBERIUS. “ It appears from this verse (16), and still more plainly from verse 17, that eternal misery formed no part of the penalty upon Adam's posterity ; since,