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CONCERNING THE OBJECTION, AGAINST THE DOCTRINE OF NATIVE CORRUPTION, THAT TO SUPPOSE MEN RECEIVE THEIR FIRST EXISTENCE IN SIN, IS TO MAKE HIM WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF THEIR BEING, THE AUTHOR OF THEIR DEPRAVITY.
One argument against a supposed native, sinful depravity, which Dr. T. greatly insists upon, is, “that this does in effect charge him, who is the author of our nature, who formed us in the womb, with being the author of a sinful corruption of nature; and that it is highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature to be originally corrupted, and that in the worst sense of corruption. 365365 P. 137, 187-189, 256, 258, 260, 143. S. and other places.
With respect to this, I would observe, in the first place, that this writer, in handling this grand objection, supposes something to belong to the doctrine objected against, as maintained by the divines whom he is opposing, which does not belong to it, nor follow from it. As particularly, he supposes the doctrine of original sin to imply, that nature must be corrupted by some positive influence; “something, by some means or other, infused into the human nature; some quality or other, not from the choice of our minds, but like a taint, tincture, or infection, altering the natural constitution, faculties, and dispositions of our souls. 366366 Page 187. That sin and evil dispositions are implanted in the fœtus in the womb.” 367367 Page 146, 148, 149. S. and the like in many other places. Whereas truly our doctrine neither implies nor infers any such thing. In order to account for a sinful corruption of nature, yea, a total native depravity of the heart of man, there is not the least need of supposing any evil quality, infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man, by any positive cause, or influence whatsoever, either from God, or the creature; or of supposing, that man is conceived and born with a fountain of evil in his heart, such as is any thing properly positive. I think, a little attention to the nature of things will be sufficient to satisfy any impartial considerate inquirer, that the absence of positive good principles, and so the withholding of a special divine influence to impart and maintain those good principles—leaving the common natural principles of self-love, natural appetite, &c. to themselves, without the government of superior divine principles—will certainly be followed with the corruption; yea, the total corruption of the heart, without occasion for any positive influence at all: and that it was thus in fact that corruption of nature came on Adam, immediately on his fall, and comes on all his posterity, as sinning in him, and falling with him. 368368 The sentiment contained in this paragraph, and illustrated in the following part of this chapter, is of the utmost importance, in order not only to remove Pelagian prejudices, and the cavils of modern philosophers, but also to give a just and consistent view of the nature and cause of sin; the cause of all sin in general, and original sin in particular. Our author’s explanation, which immediately follows, both in the text and in the note, is ingenious, and in some respects quite satisfactory. But a brief representation of the same result in another way, may demand some attention. 1. It is probably more philosophical, as well as more intelligible, in describing the two kinds of principles, as the author calls them, possessed by Adam, to say, that the inferior ones were, those faculties in man which constituted him a moral agent; rather than calling them “the principles of mere human nature.” The superior ones are very accurately described; but instead of calling them “supernatural principles;” they may more properly be termed, divine, benevolent, sovereign influence, superadded to those faculties which constituted adam a moral agent. This representation leads to the essential relations that subsist between God and his creature man. “Mere human nature,” and “supernatural principles” convey no distinctive character of relation. “Faculties which constitute a moral agent,” express the ground of relation between equity in God and accountableness in man; and “benevolent influences,” express the ground of relation between sovereignty in God and passiveness in man. 2. That Adam had such qualifications, or faculties, as rendered him a moral agent, independently of his spiritual knowledge, righteousness, holiness, dominion, honour, and glory—in other words, his divine light, holy life, and supreme love to God—is self-evident. For, after he had lost those excellencies, he was confessedly no less a moral agent, and accountable to his divine Governor and Judge for his temper, thoughts, desires, words, and works, than he was before he lost them. 3. The philosophical cause, or the true origin, of Adam’s defection, was his liberty in union with his passive power. For an explanation of these terms, and the proof of the proposition just laid down, we must refer the reader to our notes on the first volume of this work, where the subject is professedly discussed. 4. The true and ultimate cause of the first sin of Adam, of all his subsequent sins, and those of his posterity, whether infants or adults, is not essentially different. If the principles, as our author calls them, or the faculties and qualifications, which constitute moral agency and accountability, be left to themselves—whereby they become influenced by passive power, not counteracted by sovereign, benevolent, or holy divine influence—the effect will be the same, though attended with different circumstances. 5. When the cause of Adam’s integrity, perfection, spirituality, and happiness, or his paradisiacal life, was no longer operative for his preservation, defection ensued; which consisted in the loss of the chief good, together with that disorder, confusion, and a conscious exposedness to a continuance in that state, whereby happiness was necessarily exchanged for a restless uneasiness, called misery. 6. This was the case of Adam in his own person. But our author, in the next chapter, excellently shows, that Adam and all his posterity were strictly one. This union we may call a systematic whole. For mankind, or the whole race of man, has a constituted connexion, no less than a seed with its plant; for instance, the acorn with the oak-plant, and that with its future branches. We justly called it the same tree from the time it was planted to its utmost longevity, though some of its branches came into existence a hundred years or more after the first shoot. This union of Adam with his posterity, is no less a constituted union, than that which connects the solar system; or any other inferior systematic whole, as an animal body, which is regarded as one from its birth till its death. For instance, nothing but a constitution founded in the sovereign pleasure of God, caused the body of Methuselah to be the same, or regarded as the same, when in infancy, and above nine hundred years after. The parts of his body, at least most of them, were as different in old age, compared with his infancy, as any of his posterity are different from Adam. In each case alike, the appointment of God in forming a course of nature, or his operations according to a constituted plan, could make the body of Methuselah to be the same body from the first to the last; and the posterity of Adam the same with himself. 7. In every vital system there is a vital part, and in every other system, as such, one part is more essential than another. Adam was the vital part of the system of mankind.—The root of the tree, the foundation of the building, the main spring of the machine, the sun of the system. We his posterity are but so many members of a body, and are all dependent on him as on our head or heart; but not so on one another. There may be the amputation of a limb, while the other limbs are not injured; but if the head or heart be deprived of life, all the members are deprived at the same time. A branch of a tree may be lopped off without injury to the other part; but if the root, the vital part, be affected, all the branches are also affected as the necessary consequence. A dead root and a living tree are incompatible; though a dead branch and a living branch of the same tree are not. A watch is a system formed on principles of mechanism, the index may be mutilated, or the cog of a wheel may be broken and detached, without affecting the more essential parts; but if the main spring be broken, the whole system, as to its designed use, is destroyed. A building is a system; a slate or a chimney may be blown down, without affecting the foundation, but if the whole foundation be undermined, the whole fabric must fall to ruin. The solar system might subsist, for ought that appears to the contrary, though a comet, a satellite, or a planet, were annihilated; but if the sun were annihilated, ruin and confusion must ensue. 8. Whatever Adam lost by transgression, he could have no claim either in equity or by promise, that is, he could have no claim at all, for a restoration of it. And what he could have no claim for himself, could not be claimable by or for his posterity; any more than a branch or a member could obtain life, when the root of that branch or the head of that member had ceased to live; or any more than the subordinate parts of any system when the radical, vital, fundamental, and essential parts had failed. 9. What Adam lost was the divine life, and the happiness implied in it, as a favour granted on a condition. Observing the condition, he was to have it continued; but on breaking the condition, it was to be forfeited. Adam may be compared to a lord in waiting, who should have free access to every room in the king’s palace one excepted. By abstaining from this intrusion, he should have his honour and dignity preserved, and confirmed to his heirs for ever; but by offending as to the condition prescribed, he must sink to the rank of a common subject, stripped of all his former dignity. How absurd would it be for the heirs of such a lord to step forward and claim what he had forfeited! Equally absurd is it to say, that Adam’s posterity are no suffers by his transgression. 10. If we would form accurate notions of Adam’s transgression, original sin, and the imputation of guilt, it will be of the utmost importance to consider the divine law, by which is the knowledge of sin, under a twofold consideration. As a rule requiring conformity and obedience in every period of our existence, or the measure of moral obligation; and as a covenant, the condition of which was perfect conformity and obedience, under forfeiture of a special favour. The law as a rule may be transgressed times and methods innumerable; but as a covenant it could be transgressed only once. For the very first offence was a breach of the condition, and a forfeiture of that favour which depended on the performance of that condition. It is possible for the transgressor of the law as a rule to become, through grace, a perfect character, and therefore perfectly conformable to that law. But to be perfectly conformable to the required condition, once broken, is impossible; as impossible as to recall time once past, or to make transgression to be no transgression. 11. Our author very justly remarks that “there is not the least, need of supposing any evil quality infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man, by any positive cause or influence whatsoever, either from God, or the creature; or of supposing, that man is conceived and born with a foundation of evil in his heart, such as in any thing properly positive.” But however just this remark, there is reason to fear that many beside Dr. Taylor have imbibed a notion of original sin considerably different from what is here asserted. It is not improbable that the terms by which the evil has been commonly expressed without a due examination of the idea intended, have had no small influence to effect this. The frequent use of such analogical and allusive terms as pollution, defilement, corruption, contamination, and the like, seems to imitate something positive; as these expressions in their original meaning convey an idea of something superadded to the subject. Whereas other terms, though equally analogical and allusive, imply no such thing; such as, disorder, discord, confusion, and the like. We do not mean to condemn the use of the former, or to recommend the latter to their exclusion; but only design to caution against a wrong inference from a frequent use of them. 12. On the subject of the imputation of Adam’s offence to his posterity, our author, in the next chapter, has treated very ably and fully. But we may here observe, that it is of the greatest importance to have just views of what is called original guilt. It is to be feared that many form very confused notions of the subject, when it is said. “we are all guilty when born,” or “we are all guilty of Adam’s transgression,” or “the guilt of Adam’s offence is ours.” Though we conceive these, and similar propositions, to be expressive of an important truth; yet we are no less liable to be led astray from the true idea referred to by these expressions, than by others employed to represent moral depravity. 13. It may contribute to a clearness of conception on the subject, if we keep in mind, that Adam was guilty by his first offence, under a twofold consideration. He was guilty of a breach of law considered as a rule of rectitude, and of the same law as a covenant enjoining the observance of a special duty, which was the avowed and express condition of it. The performance of the condition was to secure not merely moral purity and innocence, but also the favour, or gracious benefit, which he possessed on the footing of a sovereign grant. This was his federal privilege. How by the transgression of the law, considered as a covenant, this favour was forfeited; and for God to treat him as one deprived of this favour, is the same thing as to treat him as guilty. For how could he be treated otherwise, when the very condition on which he retained the favour was broken? 14. Whatever Adam possessed, beyond those considerations which constituted him a moral agent, was the fruit of sovereign benevolence. Hence arises the propriety of regarding the possession of his privilege, on the observance of a specified condition, under the term covenant. For, if Adam possessed some spiritual principles, or benevolent influences, as a person possesses immunities and privileges by charter for himself and his heirs; and if these chartered benefits be retained on condition of not offending in a specified manner; it follows, that a privation of such benefits belongs as much to the heirs as to the individual offending. But if they are treated for breach of such covenant, or charter held on condition, as persons included in the forfeiture, it is manifest they are regarded so far guilty or worthy to suffer such loss. 15. From these considerations it follows that Adam’s breach of law as a rule which brought guilt upon him as an individual, is not the guilt imputable to his posterity. During his long life, no doubt, he was guilty of innumerable offences after the first transgression, but not one of these is imputed to us; the reason is, that after he broke the condition of the charter, he stood upon the bare ground of personal moral obligation. But personal guilt, on such ground, cannot in equity be transferred from one to another. The sins of the father, whether the first father or any other, considered merely as a personal deviation from rectitude, or a breach of moral obligation, cannot be imputed to the children. 16. What Adam, therefore, suffered for breach of covenant, was a privation of chartered benefits. The unavoidable effect of this was, DEATH; a privation of spiritual life—which continued is death eternal—and a privation of that protection and care which would have preserved from temporal death. There seems little room to doubt that even the corporeal, or elementary part of Adam underwent a great change by the fall. However, having forfeited his charter of preservation by transgression, he and all his posterity became exposed to the natural operations of this world and its elements. Matter and motion, in animals and vegetables, in the natural state of things, insure a dissolution. 17. Much has been said by some divines, about the probability of Adam, had he kept the condition, being promoted to some situation still more exalted. But there is reason to suspect, that such a sentiment proceeds on the supposition of Adam possessing a less exalted situation than he really did possess. The idea seems to be founded on a probable promotion for continued obedience. But what could be a greater reward than a continuance of chartered privileges? And what greater loss than their forfeiture? 18. It would not be difficult to demonstrate, were not this note too far extended to admit of it, that Adam, dealt with on the ground of strict equity, would have been not less liable to defection than his posterity are, when they begin to exercise moral agency. Therefore, the objection against the constitution of Adam and his posterity being regarded as one, is deprived of all force. For, whatever creature, in whatever world, were dealt with in strict equity, without benevolent influence to counteract passive power, he would have no advantages against a liability to defection above the race of man after the fall. The only difference is, that Adam once actually possessed an exalted privilege, and fell from it. And if his posterity, rendered so far guilty as to be deprived of chartered benefits with him, cannot be raised to happiness from their fallen state without the exercise of benevolent sovereign influence in the plan of salvation: it should be recollected, that Adam himself could not have maintained his standing but by the same benevolent sovereign influence, though exercised in a different way. COROLLARY. 19. Hence the propriety and the true ground of the well known distinction of a believer in the second Adam not being under the law (i.e. the condemnation of the law) as a covenant, though under the law as a rule. It is found, as to its true reason, in the state of Adam, as above explained.—W
The case with man was plainly this: When God made man at first, he implanted in him two kinds of principles. There was an inferior kind, which may be called natural, being the principles of mere human nature; such as self-love, with those natural appetites and passions, which belong to the nature of man, in which his love to his own liberty, honour, and pleasure, were exercised: these, when alone, and left to themselves, are what the Scriptures sometimes call flesh. Besides these, there were superior principles, that were spiritual, holy, and divine, summarily comprehended in divine love; wherein consisted the spiritual image of God, and man’s righteousness and true holiness; which are called in Scripture the divine nature. 218 These principles may, in some sense, be called supernatural, 369369 To prevent all cavils, the reader is desired particularly to observe, in what sense I here use the words natural and supernatural:—Not as epithets of distinction between that which is concreated or connate, and that which is extraordinarily introduced afterwards, besides the first state of things, or the order established originally, beginning when man’s nature began; but as distinguishing between what belongs to, or flows from, that nature which man has, merely as man, and those things which are above this, by which one is denominated, not only a man, but a truly virtuous, holy, and spiritual man; which, though they began in Adam as soon as humanity began, and are necessary to the perfection and well-being of the human nature, yet are not essential to the constitution of it, or necessary to its being: inasmuch as one may have every thing to his being man, exclusively of them. If in thus using the words, natural and supernatural, I use them in an uncommon sense, it is not from any affectation of singularity, but for want of other terms more aptly to express my meaning. being (however concreated or connate, yet) such as are above those principles that are essentially implied in, or necessarily resulting from, and inseparably connected with, mere human nature; and being such as immediately depend on man’s union and communion with God, or divine communications and influences of God’s Spirit: which though withdrawn, and man’s nature forsaken of these principles, human nature would be human nature still; man’s nature, as such, being entire without these divine principles, which the Scripture sometimes calls spirit, in contradistinction to flesh. These superior principles were given to possess the throne, and maintain an absolute dominion in the heart; the other to be wholly subordinate and subservient. And while things continued thus, all was in excellent order, peace, and beautiful harmony, and in a proper and perfect state. These divine principles thus reigning, were the dignity, life, happiness, and glory of man’s nature. When man sinned and broke God’s covenant, and fell under his curse, these superior principles left his heart: for indeed God then left him; that communion with God on which these principles depended, entirely ceased; the Holy Spirit, that divine inhabitant, forsook the house. Because it would have been utterly improper in itself, and inconsistent with the constitution God had established, that he should still maintain communion with man, and continue by his friendly, gracious, vital influences, to dwell with him and in him, after he was become a rebel, and had incurred God’s wrath and curse. Therefore immediately the superior divine principles wholly ceased; so light ceases in a room when the candle is withdrawn; and thus man was left in a state of darkness, woful corruption, and ruin; nothing but flesh without spirit. The inferior principles of self-love, and natural appetite, which were given only to serve, being alone, and left to themselves, of course became reigning principles; having no superior principles to regulate or control them, they became absolute masters of the heart. The immediate consequence of which was a fatal catastrophe, a turning of all things upside down, and the succession of a state of the most odious and dreadful confusion. Man immediately set up himself, and the objects of his private affections and appetites, as supreme; and so they took the place of god. These inferior principles are like fire in a house; which, we say, is a good servant, but a bad master; very useful while kept in its 219 place, but if left to take possession of the whole house, soon brings all to destruction. Man’s love to his own honour, separate interest, and private pleasure, which before was wholly subordinate unto love to God, and regard to his authority and glory, now disposes and impels him to pursue those objects, without regard to God’s honour, or law; because there is no true regard to these divine things left in him. In consequence of which, he seeks those objects as much when against God’s honour and law, as when agreeable to them. God still continuing strictly to require supreme regard to himself, and forbidding all undue gratifications of these inferior passions—but only in perfect subordination to the ends, and agreeableness to the rules and limits, which his holiness, honour, and law prescribe—hence immediately arises enmity in the heart, now wholly under the power of self-love; and nothing but war ensues, in a constant course, against God. As, when a subject has once renounced his lawful sovereign, and set up a pretender in his stead, a state of enmity and war against his rightful king necessarily ensues. It were easy to show, how every lust, and depraved disposition of man’s heart, would naturally arise from this private original, if here were room for it. Thus it is easy to give an account, how total corruption of heart should follow on man’s eating the forbidden fruit, though that was but one act of sin, without God putting any evil into his heart, or implanting any bad principle, or infusing any corrupt taint, and so becoming the author of depravity. Only God’s withdrawing, as it was highly proper and necessary that he should, from rebel-man, and his natural principles being left to themselves, is sufficient to account for his becoming entirely corrupt, and bent on sinning against God.
And as Adam’s nature became corrupt, without God’s implanting or infusing of any evil thing into it; so does the nature of his posterity. God dealing with Adam as the head of his posterity, (as has been shown,) and treating them as one, he deals with his posterity as having all sinned in him. And therefore, as God withdrew spiritual communion, and his vital gracious influence, from the common head, so he withholds the same from all the members, as they come into existence; whereby they come into the world mere flesh, and entirely under the government of natural and inferior principles; and so become wholly corrupt, as Adam did.
Now, for God so far to have the disposal of this affair, as to withhold those influences, without which, nature will be corrupt, is not to be the author of sin. But, concerning this, I must refer the reader to what I have said of it in my discourse on the Freedom of the Will. 370370 Part iv. § 9. Though, besides what I have there said, I may here observe, that if for God so far to order and dispose the being of sin, as to permit it, by withholding the gracious influences necessary to prevent it, is for him to be the author of sin, then some things which Dr. T. himself lays down, will equally be attended with this very consequence. For, from time to time he speaks of God giving men up to the vilest lusts and affections, by permitting, or leaving them. 371371 Key, § 388, note: and Par. on Rom. i. 24, 36. Now, if the continuance of sin, and its increase and prevalence, may be in consequence of God’s disposal, in withholding needful grace, without God being the author of that continuance and prevalence of sin; then, by parity of reason, may the being of sin, in the race of Adam, be in consequence of Gods disposal, by his withholding that grace which is needful to prevent it, without his being the author of sin.
If here it should be said, that God is not the author of sin, in giving up to sin those who have already made themselves sinful, because when men have once made themselves sinful, their continuing so, and sin prevailing in them, and becoming more and more habitual, will follow in a course of nature: I answer, let that be remembered which this writer so greatly urges, in opposition to them who suppose original corruption comes in a course of nature, viz. That the course of nature is nothing without God. He utterly rejects the notion of the ”course of nature’s being a proper active cause, which will work, and go on by itself, without God, if he lets or permits it.” 372372 Page 134. S. See also with what vehemence this is urged in p. 137. S. But affirms, “That the course of nature, separate from the agency of God, is no cause or nothing; and that the course of nature should continue itself, or go on to operate by itself, any more than at first produce itself, is absolutely impossible.“ These strong expressions are his. Therefore, to explain the continuance of the habits of sin in the same person, when once introduced, yea, to explain the very being of any such habits, in consequence of repeated acts, our author must have recourse to those same principles, which he rejects as absurd to the utmost degree, when alleged to explain the corruption of nature in the posterity of Adam. For, that habits, either good or bad, should continue, after being once established, or that habits should be settled and have existence in consequence of repeated acts, can be owing only to a course of nature, and those laws of nature which God has established.
That the posterity of Adam should be born without holiness, and so with a depraved nature, comes to pass as much by the established course of nature, as the continuance of a corrupt disposition in a particular person, after he once has it; or as much as Adam’s continuing unholy and corrupt, after he had once lost his holiness. For Adam’s posterity are from him, and as it were in him, and belonging to Him, according to an established course of nature, as much as the branches of a tree are, according to a course of nature, from the tree, in the tree, and belonging to the tree; or, (to make use of the comparison which Dr. T. himself chooses from time to time, as proper to illustrate the matter, 373373 Page 146, 187. ) just as the acorn is derived from the oak. And I think, the acorn is as much derived from the oak, according to the course of nature, as the buds and branches. It is true, that God, by his own almighty power, creates the soul of the infant; and it is also true, as Dr. T. often insists, that God, by his immediate power, forms and fashions the body of the infant in the womb; yet he does both according to that course of nature, which he has been pleased to establish. The course of nature is demonstrated, by late improvements in philosophy, to be indeed what our author himself says it is, viz. Nothing but the established order of the agency and operation of the author of nature. And though there be the immediate agency of God in bringing the soul into existence in generation, yet it is done according to the method and order established by the author of nature, as much as his producing the bud, or the acorn of the oak; and as much as his continuing a particular person in being, after he once has existence. God’s immediate agency in bringing the soul of a child into being, is as much according to an established order, as his immediate agency in any of the works of nature whatsoever. It is agreeable to the established order of nature, that the good qualities wanting in the tree, should also be wanting in the branches and fruit. It is agreeable to the order of nature, that when a particular person is without good moral qualities in his heart, he should continue without them, till some new cause or efficiency produces them. And it is as much agreeable to an established course and order of nature, that since Adam, the head of mankind, the root of that great tree with many branches springing from it, was deprived of original righteousness, the branches should come forth without it. Or, if any dislike the word nature, as used in this last case, and instead of it choose to call it a constitution, or established order of successive events, the alteration of the name will not in the least alter the state of the present argument. Where the name, nature, is allowed without dispute, no more is meant than an established method and order of events, settled and limited by divine wisdom.
If any should object to this, that if the want of original righteousness be thus according to an established course of nature, then why are not principles of holiness, when restored by divine grace, also communicated to posterity; I answer, The divine law and establishments of the author of nature, are precisely settled by him as he pleaseth, and limited by his wisdom. Grace is introduced among the race of man by a new establishment; not on the ground of God’s original establishment, as the head of the natural world, and author of the first creation; but by a constitution of a vastly higher kind; wherein Christ is made the root of the tree, whose branches are his spiritual seed, and 220 he is the head of the new creation; of which I need not stand now to speak particularly.
But here I desire it may be noted, that I do not suppose the natural depravity of the posterity of Adam is owing to the course of nature only; it is also owing to the just judgment of God. But yet I think, it is as truly and in the same manner owing to the course of nature, that Adam’s posterity come into the world without original righteousness, as that Adam himself continued without it, after he had once lost it. That Adam continued destitute of holiness, when he had lost it, and would always have so continued, had it not been restored by a Redeemer, was not only a natural consequence, according to the course of things established by God, as the author of nature; but it was also a penal consequence, or a punishment of his sin. God, in righteous judgment, continued to absent himself from Adam after he became a rebel; and withheld from him now those influences of the Holy Spirit, which he before had. And just thus I suppose it to be with every natural branch of mankind: all are looked upon as sinning in and with their common root; and God righteously withholds special influences and spiritual communications from all, for this sin. But of the manner and order of these things, more may be said in the next chapter.
On the whole, this grand objection against the doctrine of men being born corrupt, that it makes him who gave us our being, to be the cause of the being of corruption, can have no more force in it, than a like argument has to prove, that if men by a course of nature continue wicked, or remain without goodness, after they have by vicious acts contracted vicious habits, and so made themselves wicked, it makes him, who is the cause of their continuance in being, and the cause of the continuance of the course of nature, to be the cause of their continued wickedness. Dr. T. says, 374374 Page 136. S. “God would not make any thing that is hateful to him; because, by the very terms, he would hate to make such a thing.” But if this be good arguing in the case to which it is applied, may I not as well say, God would not continue a thing in being that is hateful to him; because, by the very terms, he would hate to continue such a thing in being? I think, the very terms do as much (and no more) infer one of these propositions, as the other. In like manner, the rest that he says on that head may be shown to be unreasonable, by only substituting the word continue, in the place of make and propagate. I may fairly imitate his way of reasoning thus: to say, God continues us according to his own original decree, or law of continuation, which obliges him to continue us in a manner he abhors, is really to make bad worse: for it is supposing him to be defective in wisdom, or by his own decree or law to lay such a constraint upon his own actions, that he cannot do what he would, but is continually doing what he would not, what he hates to do, and what he condemns in us; viz. continuing us sinful when he condemns us for continuing ourselves sinful.” If the reasoning be weak in the one case, it is no less so in the other.
If any shall still insist, that there is a difference between God so disposing things, as that depravity of heart shall be continued, according to the settled course of nature, in the same person, who has by his own fault introduced it; and his so disposing as that men, according to a course of nature, should be born with depravity, in consequence of Adam’s introducing of sin, by his act which we had no concern in, and cannot be justly charged with: on this I would observe, that it is quite going off the objection, which we have been upon, from God’s agency, and flying to another. It is then no longer insisted on, that simply for him, from whose agency the course of nature and our existence derive, so to dispose things as that we should have existence in a corrupt state, is for him to be the author of sin: but the plea now advanced is, that it is not proper and just for such an agent so to dispose, in this case, and only in consequence of Adam’s sin; it not being just to charge Adam’s sin to his posterity. And this matter shall be particularly considered, in answer to the next objection; to which I now proceed.
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