Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

of all men; that if they persevered and kept their virtue through the time appointed, all descending from them should be born in a state of confirmation, and be exposed to no further trials; that if they fell

, all their descendants should be brought into existence in a fallen condition like theirs

.... Human na: ture has had a fair trial in its most perfect state. We know, or might know, that had we been tried in innocence, as Adam and Eve were, and been left as they were left, we should have sinned and fell as they did. All the ends of a trial of innocent human nature on a constitution requiring sinless perseverance as the condition of life, are sufficiently answered by the trial of our first parents. Wis. dom requires no more. And, in point of justice, what can be the objection ?"Smalley's Sermons, Hartford edition, pp. 186–7.

Yet he repudiates the imputation of Adam's sin in the very words in which he acknowledges its repute for orthodoxy, and its general acceptance as the doctrine of the Scriptures. He begins his discourse on this subject in the following terms: “Of all the articles of faith which have had the reputation of orthodoxy, or bave generally been supposed to be plainly taught in the Holy Scriptures, none, perhaps, have made more infidels, and none appear harder to reconcile with reason and common sense, than the doctrines of imputed sin and imputed righteousness.”—Id., p. 169. But he insists that Adam stood on trial for his posterity, so that the consequences of his sin to himself also befell them. Were they not penal ? But Dr. Smalley answers himself elsewhere. He contends “that all men were brought into the present fallen state by the fall of one or both of our first parents, is evident from the continuation of the very same 'curse that was denounced upon them—as to the temporal part of it at least—to the present day.” Then, after reciting it as given,-Gen. iii. 16-20,-he asks :

“Now, when we see every part of this sentence so exactly executed still on the sons and daughters of these first human transgressors, have we not the most sensible evidence that their offspring were included with them, thus far, at least, in their original condemnation ? And if, as to the present life and temporal death, we are evidently dealt with according to the sentence passed upon our first parents, what reason have we to think that we were not, according to the original constitution, to be dealt with in like manner relative to the life to come ? It is no easier to reconcile with reason and justice our being involved so far in the bitter consequences of their sin, as we certainly at present are, than it is our sharing all the fruits of man's first apostasy."— Pp. 176-7.

Now, if Adam so stood on trial for his posterity, as their representative, that they were included with him in the original condemnation, and suffer the curse visited upon him, and the sentence executed upon him in punishment for his sin, is also inflicted upon themselves in its unnumbered evils and woes, have we not given us all the elements of the federai hamartiology ?

But he finishes the complete and utter refutation of his opposition to the imputation of Adam's sin, in his argument to prove native depravity, from the sufferings and death of infants. He says: “If sufferings may be supposed in God's moral kingdom when there is no imputation of sin, the ground is given up of ever knowing the Divine hatred of any thing in his creatures, by his righteous judgments inflicted on them either in this world or the world to come. Therefore, the common painful dissolution of infants plainly avers that they are some way sinful in the sight of God.”—P. 174. But is not the evil of a corrupt and sinful character, transmitted to all our race at birth, which deserves and suffers God's wrath and curse in all miseries, temporal, spiritual, and eternal, according to Smalley's view, an evil far worse than any of the mere physical pangs which it causes? And if it “may be supposed where there is no imputation of sin,” does it not sever the nexus between sin and suffering in moral beings, and confound moral distinctions by referring the most dreadful of all visitations upon man to the mere sovereignty of God? It is no answer to say that Adam's nature having once been vitiated by his sin, this vitiosity and sinfulness are transmitted by the laws of natural propagation. Who made these laws ? Besides, punishment may as truly be inflicted by the operation of natural laws as in any other way? Do not the drunkard, glutton, and debauchee suffer dreadful punishments for their sins in the mere operation of natural laws on their own constitutions ?

The New Haven divines say that all who bear the name of Calvinists will unite in the statement, “ that Adam was not on trial for himself alone, but that, by a Divine constitution, all his descendants were to have, in their natural state, the same character and condition with their progenitor.—Christian Spectator, 1830, p. 343. This surely puts the representative character of Adam unequivocally. But they differ from Dr. Smalley, and other preceding New England divines, in regard to the sinfulness of the corrupt nature transmitted from him. They deny that this inborn corruption is of the nature of sin, because they admit nothing to be sin but acts committed in violation of known law; but they insist that it causes a certainty of sinning in the first act of moral agency in the case of all men, or as soon as moral agency begins; that this dire certainty of sinning is the consequence to all Adam's descendants of his sinning when on trial for them as well as himself. But they differ from us, not only as from Smalley, when they deny the sinfulness of our hereditary corruption, but still further, in denying that these consequences of Adam's sin, involving a depraved nature, the certainty of sinning, and consequent death, and other woes, are penal. Though flowing from Adam's sin, they are not the punishment of it.

In, by far, tbe ablest, most authoritative, and elaborate discussion which ever proceeded from the New Haven divines on this subject (we refer to their article in controversy with this Journal, published in the Christian Spectator for June, 1831, and entitled, “ The case of the Rev. Mr. Barnes, Biblical Repertory on Imputation "), they maintain most strenuously, that, while differing from us as above shown, as to what the consequences of that sin to his posterity are, yet as respects the relation of those consequences to his sin, they differ from us only in words. They pronounce it in capitals,

SOLELY A DISPUTE ABOUT WORDS," p. 301. What words? They tell us imputation, guilt, punishment. Are these applicable to Adam's sin as related to his posterity, and as the ground on which its consequences to himself are inflicted on them? “In what, then, do they (Princeton and New England) differ?” Ask these divines, and they answer, “ Not in the fact that these evils are a consequence of Adam's sin ; but simply and solely whether they are properly termed the punishment of his posterity.” And so, mutatis mutandis, they state the case in regard to the terms imputation and guilt. “It is agreed, then," they say, “that certain evils come on Adam's posterity, in consequence of his sin; and the question now before us is, whether this fact is to be resolved into the sovereignty of God, or to be accounted for, by asserting that these evils are brought on beings who have not yet sinned, as a punishment for the sin of Adam. We prefer the former view of the subject.”—P. 33.

In answer to the objection that the present condition of Adam's posterity, even according to their view of it, with an inborn bias which insures in each and all of them the dread certainty of sinning, is such as to preclude a fair probation, unless they have had it in their first progenitor; they argue that such certainty of sinning in all the race is not inconsistent with a fair trial. They ask, “How does it appear that a trial, which will certainly result in sin, is not a fair trial ? Was not the trial of the angels who fell, as well as that of our first parents a fair trial, and did not God know that they would sin ? If that certainty of sin is inconsistent with a fair trial, then in the case of any being who will sin, a fair trial is impossible. In respect to every being who sins, there was a previous certainty that he would sin. According to this objection, then, no being who sins can have had a fair trial. What our brethren intend, when they say, that, for probation to be fair, it must afford as favorable a prospect of a happy, as of an unhappy conclusion, we are unable to discover.”—P. 353.

We think that this is, at best, special pleading, and betrays the extremity of the position taken. Surely, a trial of sinless angels, in which some fell, and vastly more stood, or the trial of a single individual, resulting in his fall, implies no presumption of a trial under unfavorable prospects and unequal chances preponderating against him. And the antecedent certainty to the Divine mind as to the way in which they would abide their trial, alters not its intrinsic nature or chances. But when untold millions are put on trial, with an inborn bias and attendant circumstances as render it certain that they all, without exception, will fall, is this a fair trial? Does it give an equal chance of standing or falling? Is not such a certainty theoretically and practically inconsistent with a fair probation? In one of the noted passages of their Review of Taylor and Harvey on Human Depravity, trying to account for the uniform development of sin in our race from the constitutional propensities of our nature, these divines say: “It

1

the temptation presented to constitutional propensities could be so strong in the case of Adam as to overpower the force of established habits of virtue in the maturity of his reason, how absolute is the certainty that every child will yield to the urgency of these propensities, under the redoubled impulse of long-cherished self-gratification, and in the dawn of intellectual existence! Could the uniform certainty of the event be greater, if the hand of Omnipotence were laid on the child to secure the result ?Christian Spectator, 1829, p. 367. And is that a fair probation, whose failure in every case of unnumbered millions is, by the constitution of God, made as certain as his omnipotence can make it? And is the infliction of so dire an evil upon the posterity of Adam better accounted for as an act of simple sovereignty on the part of God, or as punishment for the sin of their first parent, when on trial for them as their representative, in whom they had a fair probation ? But we are not left to the mere gropings of our own reason in this inatter, which, however it may accept, and be relieved by, the scriptural solution of our fall in Adam, never could have invented it. The word of God teaches not only that all suffer the consequences of Adam's sin, but that these consequences are the penalty of that sin for which “judgment came upon all men to condemnation." See Rom. v. 17, 18. All the explosive rhetoric which so many writers pour out upon the federal, or what they call the “Princeton scheme," recoils with tenfold force upon their own. They do not get rid of the awful evils inflicted on the race. They only attribute these evils to the mere sovereignty of God, inflicting them without any probation.

Besides, it encounters other difficulties. How are the sufferings and death of infants to be reconciled with the siplessness which this scheme ascribes to them? In the article just quoted from, they reply—“ The answer has been given a thonsand times; brutes die also.” We think they have hardly given it since, and, probably, they found their scheme gained nothing by it.

But we know no adequate answer that has or can be given. The language of Smalley, already quoted, cannot be gainsaid. “ If sufferings may be supposed, in God's moral kingdom,

« ElőzőTovább »