Page images

" What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded," or, as it is in the margin, hardened.

4. If God can work in saints both to will and to do that which is virtuous and holy; then he might have made man upright, and formed him in his own moral image, at first. Some suppose it was out of the power of God to create Adam at first, in righteousness and true holiness; because righteousness and true holiness belong to the heart, and are free, voluntary exercises. But, though every species of moral rectitude be a free, voluntary exercise of the heart, yet it may nevertheless be the fruit of a divine operation. The heart may be created as well as the understanding, or moral exercises as well as natural faculties. It appears, from what has been said, that the hearts of saints are created, or that their free and voluntary exercises are the production of divine power. Where then is the difficulty of conceiving that God made man upright at first, and created him in his own moral image ? If saints may be the workmanship of God created unto good works in the meridian of life, then Adam might have been the workmanship of God created unto good works in the first moment of his existence. God was as able to work in Adam both to will and to do that which was virtuous and holy the first moment of his creation, as he is to work in saints both to will and to do that which is virtuous and holy in any period of their lives. The cases are exactly similar. If holiness can be created in one man, it may be in another; and if it can be created in one period of life, it may be in another. There is nothing, therefore, in the supposition of man's original rectitude, which is repugnant either to the nature of holiness, as a voluntary exercise, or to the nature of man as a moral agent.

5. Since God can work in men both to will and to do of his good pleasure, it is as easy to account for the first offence of Adam as for any other sin. Many who believe his original rectitude, suppose it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to account for his first act of disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit. But inasmuch as they acknowledge the fact, they endeavor in some way or other to solve the difficulty.

Some say that Adam, being necessarily dependent, was necessarily mutable, and liable to fall. It is true, indeed, Adam was necessarily dependent and liable to fall; but by whom was he exposed to this evil ? Not by himself, not by Satan, not by any created agent. God can make creatures immutable with respect to all things but himself. Angels and the spirits of just men above, are immutable with respect to all things but the Deity. So long, therefore, as Adam retained his original rectitude, he was equally immutable in his moral character, and stood above the power and influence of Satan, or any other malignant seducer.

Some say that God having made man upright, left him to the freedom of his own will; in consequence of which he sinned and fell. That God left man to the freedom of his own will must be allowed; but how this can account for his first transgression is hard to conceive. Every moral agent is left to the freedom of his own will so long as he remains a moral agent; because freedom of will is essential to moral agency. And there is no evidence from scripture or reason, that man was any more left to the freedom of his own will before, than after his fall. But if by being left to the freedom of his own will be meant that God withdrew some aid or support which he had given him before, and which was necessary in order to resist temptation, then such a suspension of divine aid or support must have excused him for eating the forbidden fruit; since there could have been no criminality in his not resisting a temptation which was above his natural power to resist. Besides, there is an absurdity in supposing that Adam could be led into sin by the violence of temptation, while his heart remained perfectly holy. For a perfectly holy heart perfectly hates every motive, every suggestion, every temptation to sin. This was exemplified in the conduct of Christ, when he was so artfully and violently assaulted by the devil. Satan's tempting him to disobey his Father's will, instead of leading him to comply, only served to excite his resentment against the tempter himself

. And just so the devil's tempting Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, must have excited his love rather than his hatred to God, had he remained perfectly holy. It is impossible to conceive, therefore, that Adam's pure heart was corrupted, or drawn into sin, by the mere force of external temptation.

Nor will it relieve any difficulty on this subject to say that Adam and Eve were deceived, when they partook of the forbidden fruit. For their deception must have been either voluntary or involuntary. If it were voluntary, then their sin was the cause of their deception, and not their deception the cause of their sin. But if their deception were involuntary, then it entirely excused them. For their eating the forbidden fruit while iheir hearts were perfectly holy, and they really supposed they ought to do it, would have been a duty instead of a crime.

As these and all other methods to account for the fall of Adam by the instrumentality of second causes, are insufficient to remove the difficulty, it seems necessary to have recourse to the divine agency, and to suppose that God wrought in Adam both to will and to do in his first transgression. As Adam

acted freely while he was acted upon before he fell, so he acted freely while he was acted upon at the moment of his fall.. His first sin was a free, voluntary exercise, produced by a divine operation in the view of motives. Satan placed certain motives before his mind, which, by a divine energy, took hold of his heart and led him into sin. In this view, Adam's first sin is as easy to be accounted for as David's in numbering the people; as Pharaoh's in refusing to let the people go; as Ahab's in going up to Ramoth-Gilead; or as any other man's sin since the fall. This, perhaps, is a full solution of the first sin in this world, and of consequence, of the first sin in the universe.

6. If God can work in moral agents both to will and to do of his good pleasure, then we may easily account for the moral depravity of infants. Next to the first sin of Adam, the first sin in his posterity is supposed to be the most difficult to account for.

Some suppose that the human soul, as well as the human body, proceeds directly from the parents who naturally and necessarily convey their own moral image to their children. And upon this principle, they suppose that after our first parents became corrupt, they conveyed a corrupt nature to their children, and they again to theirs ; and so a corrupt nature has ever since the fall been transmitted from parents to children, and will continue to be transmitted in the same manner to the latest posterity. This solution, however, by no means gives satisfaction. We are not certain that the soul of the child does proceed directly from the parents. Scripture and reason rather lead us to suppose that the soul is a divine production, and proceeds immediately from the Father of spirits. But even allowing that the soul does proceed, according to a divine constitution, from the parents, yet this will not account for its moral pollution. For moral depravity consists in the free, voluntary exercises of a moral agent; and of consequence cannot be transmitted by one person to another. Adam's moral impurity or defilement was his own voluntary wickedness, which could not, by any divine constitution or appointment, become the moral impurity or defilement of his natural offspring, either in whole or in part. Besides, if parents naturally convey their moral likeness to their children, then Adam, after he became holy, must have conveyed holiness to his children, and they likewise to theirs; and so there must have been a constant succession of holy families down to this day; which we find is contrary to universal observation and experience.

Others suppose that the depravity of the soul originates from the mortality of the body. Though they allow that the soul comes pure and clean from the hands of God, yet they imagine a corrupt mortal body must soon defile it. They say, while the minds of children are weak and ignorant, their bodily appetites and passions gain the ascendancy, and lead them into sinful courses and evil habits. But this supposition is clogged with insurmountable difficulties. How can a corrupt body corrupt a pure mind? At most, the body can afford only temptations to sin; but temptations of themselves have no power to corrupt a pure heart. Christ was once an infant. He grew, like other infants, in body and mind; but yet his mind was never corrupted by his body. Though he was subject to hunger, thirst, pain, weariness, and mortality, yet these bodily appetites and infirmities never led him into intemperance, impatience, or any other moral evil. His soul was holy, harmless, undefiled, while united to an earthly, feeble, mortal body. Hence it appears to be contrary to fact, that the depravity of the soul should arise from the mortality of the body, or that the mortal bodies of infants should morally defile their pure and immortal spirits.

But though we cannot suppose that infants derive their moral corruption from Adam, nor from their own mortal bodies, yet we can easily conceive of their becoming depraved in consequence of the first apostacy. God constituted such a connection between Adam and his posterity, that if he sinned, they should all become sinners. Accordingly, in consequence of Adam's first transgression, God now brings his posterity into the world in a state of moral depravity. But how? The answer is easy. When God forms the souls of infants, he forms them with moral powers, and makes them men in miniature. And being men in miniature, he works in them as he does in other men, both to will and to do of his good pleasure ; or produces those moral exercises in their hearts, in which moral depravity properly and essentially consists. Moral depravity can take place no where but in moral agents; and moral agents can never act but only as they are acted upon by a divine operation. It is just as easy, therefore, to account for moral depravity in infancy, as in any other period of life.

7. If God can work in saints both to will and to do of his good pleasure, then he can convert sinners consistently with their activity and moral freedom. God operates precisely in the same manner in producing the first exercise of grace, as in producing the second, or any other. All that he does, in converting or regenerating a sinner, is to work in him to will and to do that which is holy, instead of that which is sinsul. The sinner is not passive, but active in this change. He acts as freely while God turns him from sin to holiness, as he ever did in his life. He feels no violence done to his will, nor the least constraint thrown upon his moral freedom. God has often converted some of the most hardened and obstinate sinners. He subdued the hearts of his rebellious people in Babylon. He converted, in one day, three thousand of those who had been concerned in crucifying the Lord of glory. He met Paul on his way to Damascus, and instantaneously turned that blasphemer and persecutor into a meek and humble follower of Christ. And he can now convert as many and as great sinners as he pleases, in perfect consistency with the free and voluntary exercise of all their natural powers. God has no occasion for sending sinners to another world in order to soften and change their hearts; for he is always able to work in them both to will and to do that which is pleasing in his sight, without destroying, or even obstructing their moral freedom.

8. If God always works in men both to will and to do, then they are as able to work out their own salvation as to perform the common actions of life. The only reason why sinners suppose they are less able to work out their own salvation than to do the common actions of life, is because they imagine that they need more divine assistance in working out iheir own salvation than in doing any thing else. If they are urged to repent, they say they cannot repent of themselves, for repentance is the fruit of the Spirit. If they are urged to believe in Christ, they say they cannot believe of themselves, for faith is the gift of God. And if they are urged to make themselves a new heart, they say they cannot do this of themselves, for it is the work of God to give them a new heart. These expressions plainly intimate that they suppose they always act of themselves, except in the concerns of religion ; and, of consequence, that they are less able to perform religious duties than the common actions of life. But there is no just ground for this conclusion. They never do act of themselves. They live, and move, and have their being in God, who constantly works in them both to will and to do in every instance of their conduct. They are as able, therefore, to do right as to do wrong; and to do their duty as to neglect their duty ; to love God as to hate God; to choose life as to choose death; to walk in the narrow way to heaven as to walk in the broad way to hell; and to turn from sin to holiness as to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Hence they are expressly required to begin to be holy, and to perform the very act of turning, repenting and changing the heart. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord.” Isaiah, lv. 7. “ Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die? Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will ye die,

« PreviousContinue »