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XXI.

(Lecture VI., page 193.)

THEOLOGICAL MEANING OF GUILT.

I could have wished to collect an induction of passages in proof and illustration of the statement in the text, but it may be enough in the meantime to appeal to the following statements in confirmation of what I have said. Dr. Hodge’s authority as a Calvinistic theologian will hardly be disputed.

“To impute sin, in Scriptural and theological language, is to impute the guilt of sin. And by guilt is meant not criminality, or moral ill-desert, or demerit, much less moral pollution, but the judicial obligation to satisfy justice. Hence the evil consequent on the imputation is not an arbitrary infliction, not merely a misfortune or calamity, not a chastisement in the proper sense of that word, but a punishment—i. e., an evil inflicted in execution of the penalty of law, and for the satisfaction of justice.’’—Hodge’s ’Systematic Theology,’ ii. 194.

“The venerable Assembly’s Catechism, in answer to the question, Wherein consists the sinfulness of our estate by nature, says, ‘In the guilt of Adam’s sin,’ &c. Now, as guilt is blameworthiness—desert of punishment; and 243as the compilers of that generally excellent compendium of faith cannot well be supposed to have intended to intimate that we are really blameable for an act performed by Adam,—they must have used the word in the general sense of legal liability, or obnoxiousness to punishment This is the sense in which it is used by all theologians in this country, and in America, except by the few who identify the race and its parent. To be guilty of Adam’s sin is to be exposed by it to punishment—i. e., to the endurance of its consequences. Still the phrase is objectionable, since, though the endurance of its consequences was punishment to Adam, it is not so to us. The constitution established with him was such as to expose us to the results of his conduct; but that exposure, or liability, is not guilt in any proper sense of the term, or in common parlance even, nor should it ever be so called. The child of a profligate parent is liable to disease, but he is never thought of as guilty. The term guilt always supposes personal transgression, except in technical theology, from which we would banish it.’’—Payne’s ‘Lectures on Original Sin,’ p. 79, 80, note.

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