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suredly, will not be affirmed.' For the apostle does manifestly speak of death, aseventuatingin every instance, as the consequence of the one offence, not of the offence of the individualdying, 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."2 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 revelations 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 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 haring "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,
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 de. serving of chicf 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 Mytholo. gy, 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 inced no theories for illustration, suggested by heathen mythology. 2. Rom. y. 15, 16, 17, 18.
3. Rom. v. 14.
Is, 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 ne 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 violation 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.
1. Rom. v.-H.
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 and communion of God. The development of these capacities, however, is effectuated by means of external and material objects, and it is not until the child has been so far accustomed to associations of thought, clear perceptions, accurate observation, careful comparison and abstraction, as to be able to form an idea of something, not perceptible by his senses, and to employ some sensible object as its representative or image, that it can have the idea of God. This occurs, at a much earlier period than some apprehend. A child, whose sensations have been vivid, and perceptions clear, can soon form the idea of an efficient cause, and with this, by familiar comparisons, associate the ideas of various moral qualities, which, together, will give the complex notion of God.
We are not concerned to trace, in the regular process of intellectual education, the development of the different capacities, which fit man for such knowledge, to which every child with or without the aid of designed teaching by instructors, is subjected. They are only some general facts, which are pertinent. No one can have failed to observe, that those objects, which produce pleasureable sensations, are apt to engage the attention most, and secure the most accurate perceptions, and that in proportion to the vivid character of the sensation, will be the discriminating character of the perception. In like manner such sensations, with their associated thoughts, will be most frequently recalled, and most indelibly recollected. The vivid character of the sensation, may, indeed, in some measure, depend upon the susceptibilities of the organs of sense. It is the susceptibility of the mind as to pleasure or pain however, which secures the interested attention requisite to au accurate knowledge, and retentive recollection of the object. In other words, just in proportion as feeling is awakened, or excited, will be the degree of interested at
tention, and the probability of the objects not being forgotten. And what is true of objects as productive of thought, is also true of subjects, or of those ideas, which the mind forms or arrives at for itself, by its comparisons and deductions. Such is the law of our nature, and we cannot alter it.
Impressions and passions, or feelings, rouse to action. But there is given to the mind of man, a power of balancing, deliberating, and suspending action, till a full and correct judgment is formed. That judgment must always he, according to the character, or degree of correct knowlc:lge acquired. If it is thought that an object, or action will be promotive of our interest, or happiness, there will be a strong determining influence to seek, or resolve upon it. And as it is a law of our nature, that we act according to the influence of prevalent motive, so it is manifest, that if the judgment in the case, should not be the result of sufficiently accurate, and extensive, knowledge of the character of the object, or action, or of their tendency to benefit us, so as to counteract the influence of impressions or feelings inclining to it, the choice or purpose and couduct, of the individual will err, and be found eventually at war with his real interest.
And here we may remark, that in most cases of practical bearing, the judgment which we form as to the fitness or unfitness of an object or action to benefits, is the result, not of mere speculative knowledge or intellectual percoptions, but actual experience. The child may be told, and it may even he demonstrated to him, that an object or action will prove injurious; but no'hing that he can hear, and learn in this way, will be so efficient in preventing the choice of it, as the actual experience of its injurious tendency. The object may be very attractive, its impressions very pleasant, and its whole appearance so imposing, as to produce the conviction of its being calculated to benefit, and