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that of the natural and universal corruption of man's nature,” and makes human de pravity consist in the fault or corruption of every man's nature,”-in “a moral corruptness of human nature, which has been transmitted to all men;" so that “we are born sinners.” The principle upon which he reasons to sustain this position, may be seen in the following paragraph:

• If it be said, that these natural propensities to various evils in children, are not sinful before they have the consent of the will, all that can be maintained, is, that they are not actual sins, which no one asserts ; but as a universal choice of evil, when accountableness takes place, proves a universal pravity of will previous to the actual choice, then it follows, that, though infants do not commit sin, yet theirs is a sinful nature.' p. 360.

The great fallacy here lies in the two assumptions, that there must be sin before the first sin, and that there can be sin before accountability. We think it far more scriptural, as well as more philosophical, to account for this “universal choice of evil,” not by asserting the previous existence of sin in human nature, but by supposing, that the descendants of fallen Adam come to moral action with an increased and prevailing tendency to evil, which, however, in the nature of things, cannot be considered a state of guilt, and obnoxious to punishment, until it receives the consent of the will; and it is to us passing strange, that any man of common acuteness, who reflects with his bible open, can think differently. But into what absurdity will not blind contention for party opinions plunge men! Sin before accountableness ! Sin before there is sin actually! The world may be challenged to tell what kind of existence that is, which is not actual existence,-sin, which is not actual! Mr. W. might as well talk of propensities which are not actual, or of buman nature which is not actual. Such a distinction does not exist : it has no support, either from the scriptures or common sense, and is grossly absurd. What is sin ? It is not our calamity or misfortune, but our crime. It is a transgression of the divine law, for which men, as moral agents, are punishable, as their own act of choice.

In accounting for this “corruption of human nature,” Mr. W. assumes, that our first parents, previous to their fall, were not and could not be holy, without the “ gift of the Holy Spirit,”-that holiness is not an effect which would or could follow from their mere creation, independent of the vouchsafed influence of the Spirit of God;" and then accounts for the "whole case of man's corruption," as follows:

• The Spirit's influence in him did not prevent the possibility of his sinning, though it afforded sufficient security to him, as long as he looked to that source of strength. He did sin, and the Spirit retired;

and, the tide of sin once turned in, the mound of resistance being removed, it overflowed his whole nature.' p. 344.

Again :

• But the whole of this sin is not peculiar to our first parents, but is common to the whole race, who, at the time when the first sin was committed, were in their loins, and who afterwards descended from them in the natural mode of propagation.' p. 362.

This last extract he adopts from Arminius. Notwithstanding such broad and sweeping statements, he undertakes to vindicate his theory from the charge of making God the author of sin; and on the principle, that this sinfulness of human nature is produced, not by direct and positive infusion,” but indirectly, through the withdrawal from human nature of “the only controlling and sanctifying power, the presence of the Spirit.”

• For as in the death of the body, the mere privation of the principle of life, produces inflexibility of the muscles, the extinction of heat, and sense, and motion, and surrenders the body to the operation of an agency, which life, as long as it continued, resisted; namely, that of chimical decomposition ; so from the loss of spiritual life,' [or, which in his view is the same thing, the withdrawal of the Divine Spirit,] 'followed estrangement from God, moral inability, the dominion of irregular passions, and the rule of appetite ; aversion, in consequence, to restraint; and enmity to God.' p. 361.

This reasoning, however, by no means relieves the difficulty. It can make no difference, whether God has made our nature sinful directly by his own positive agency, or indirectly done so, provided we have inevitably been made sinners by what he has done. In either case, he is the author of sin; and no reasoning, sophistry or illustration whaterer, can redeem Mr. Watson's theory from this dilemma. It makes no difference, as to the fact of murder, whether, in killing a man, we shoot him outright, or confine bim to an air-tight room, and extract the air. Nor is the difficulty avoided by saying, as Mr. W. does, that God inflicts spiritual death upon the human race, as a part of the punishment denounced against the sin of our first parents : for, even conceding it to be a principle of God's government, to punish sin with sin, or with that which necessarily and unavoidably produces it,-a notion too absurd and monstrous to require even to be "puffed away with sarcasm,"--what does this theory gain by the concession ? If it is true, that for Adam's sin God has punished his race with spiritual death, or moral corruption, still he is the author of this punishment, and of course the difficulty in question remains in all its force.

In regard to Mr. W's assumption, that our first parents, before they fell, were entirely dependent on the Holy Spirit for ability to avoid sin and remain holy, we have a few remarks to make.

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We say assumption, because he has made no attempt to sustain it by proof and argument, and because it cannot be supported, since it is no less without foundation in the scriptures, than it is at variance with the dictates of common sense and sound philosophy. It is a notion to which no man in his senses would resort, unless he is under the influence of affection to some darling theory. This, however, is one of the principal hinges on which the whole Arminian system turns.

We have several objections to make to this assumption. (1.) It involves a denial that God created Adam a free moral agent. It does this, by denying him an inherent ability to obey his Maker and avoid sin, when first created, and by resolving his power to obey and continue holy, into the “gist of the Divine Spirit." In order to moral agency, there must be an inherent ability to obey or disobey,—to choose or refuse; and where this ability is wholly extraneous, or entirely dependent on ab extra influence, there is no such agency. Even in the opinion of Mr.W. bimself, expressed in another part of his work, there is no “moral freedom," where there is “ no power to choose either right or wrong.' Now if our first parents, previous to their fall, were entirely dependent on God's Spirit for power to obey him; if, as Mr. W. asserts, they could not be holy without the gift of this Spirit; and if their moral liberty was such, that the withdrawal of this “gift” inevitably resulted in their moral corruption ; then they never possessed, in themselves, the ability to do right, and of course were not created free moral agents. (2.) Again : this assumption denies, that sinful men are now more dependent on the Spirit of God for holiness, than Adam was immediately after his creation. Nothing is more constantly taught in the scriptures, than the dependence of our fallen race on the Spirit of God for holiness ; and that this dependence arises solely from the fact, that sin bas entered the world; or, that men remain wilfully opposed to God. But if Mr. W's theory is correct, it is not true, that man's dependence arises from this fact : this is not the ground of it; it arises from his not being created a moral agent, and there is no difference, in this respect, between man before and since the fall; for Adam, just after his creation, was as dependent as are bis sinful descendants, and as truly in need of a “gracious ability." (3.) Another objection to Mr. W's, view, is, that it depreciates the

gospel of Christ, and essentially lessens its glory. The gospel is a glorious dispensation of mercy to sinners,—á harınonious and mighty system of grace ; and one of its principal characteristics is the 'mission of the Holy Ghost. The reason of this mission is declared to be, the existence of sin, or man's continued opposition of will to God. The Divine Spirit comes to convince the world of sin, to carry the claims of obligation into the depthis

s of every impenitent spirit, to curb and destroy that bias toward

evil, with which every child of Adam enters on moral action, and to convert men to God. But, if Mr. W's view is correct, the mission of the Holy Spirit is not peculiar to the gospel,is not a mighty effort of heaven to rescue fallen, self-destroying man,—but an endowment bestowed upon man at his creation, and though “ forfeited” when he fell, yet far more peculiar to him than moral freedom. ' How greatly, then, is the gospel depreciated by this assumption, which robs it of so principal a characteristic of its glory, as the dispensation of the Holy Spirit !

In treating of the mode in which sin is transmitted from parents to children, Mr. Watson takes the ground, that the soul is ex traduce, and that depravity is propagated. To prove this, he several times quotes the words, " Adam begat a son in his own likeness.” In another place, he has the following language : “ The children of Adam were not born until after the repentance of our first parents, and their restoration to divine favor. They appear to have been devout worshipers, and to have had access to his ' presence,'—the visible glory of the shekinah."

Now we wish to put that and that together.” If, as he believes, moral character is hereditary ; if Adam propagated the moral state of his soul to his children ; what, according to his own showing, must have been their moral character? Not unholy,– else they could not have been born in their parent's likeness,- for Adam was a regenerated man, a child of God, and, as our Methodist brethren will doubtless contend, in the full enjoyment of sinless perfection. They must have been born, therefore, in a state of perfect holiness. Is it said, “this is impossible, for holiness cannot be propagated ?" We ask, why not? Why is not the doctrine of propagated holiness every way as credible as that of propagated sin ? It is full as scriptural, as philosophical, as amiable, and far more consistent with the character of our Maker. Why reject it then? If the principle be a correct and sound one, why should it apply in one case, and not in the other? But, a truce to all speculation upon such absurdities : we willingly leave them to the management of those who delight in them. We

prefer to follow truth, though she lead us away from our accustomed track, and even scatter our favorite prepossessions or prejudices to the four winds of heaven.

2. We pass on to another topic, the doctrine of imputation. Our readers need not be surprised to find this doctrine occupying a conspicuous place in Methodist theology. With all their fear of making the Judge of the earth do wrong; with all their vehement declamation against Calvin, and the “horrible decrees,' Methodists are among the inost strenuous asserters of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity. Says Mr. Watson :

• This has been a point greatly debated. In the language of theologians, it is considered as mediate or immediate. Our mortality of body, and the corruption of our moral nature, in virtue of our derivation from him, is what is meant by the mediate imputation of his sin to us ; by immediate imputation is meant, that the actual commission of Adam's sin is imputed to his descendants, and accounted theirs by virtue of their federal relation.' p. 348.

He proceeds to assert, that the latter theory goes too far, while the former, "does not, however, appear to go the length of scripture." He then states, that there is another theory, which, in his view, is scriptural, and which he affirms to be the imputation, not of the particular act “of Adam's sin," but of its legal results ;" so that we are “made, constituted, accounted and treated," as though we “ had actually committed that sin.” Thus he quotes and adopts the following language:

• Sin is taken either for an act of disobedience to a law, or for the legal result of such an act,—that is, guilt and liableness to punishment

. Now when we say the sin of a traitor is imputed to his children, we do not mean that the act of the father is charged upon the child, but that the guilt or fiableness to punishment is so transferred to him, that he suffers banishment or poverty on account of it. In this sense, we may safely contend for the imputation of Adam's sin.' pp. 348, 349.

Whether our author avoids the " shocking and repulsive" priociple recognized in what he calls the theory of immediate imputation, we leave our readers to judge. It is true he replies to the objection, that his theory makes God unjust, by saying, that this objection springs from regarding the legal part of the whole transaction, separately from the evangelical provision of mercy, which was concurrent with it.” But this reply does not avail; for, in another part of his work, he fully concedes, that this does not affect the sate in which men are born.” In his view, Adam's sin is in such a sense imputed to his descendants, that “the full penalty of it has passed upon them;" that they are born not only " guilty and punishable,” but actually punished with that spiritual death, of which the “natural,” “ inevitable" concomitant, is the entire sinfulness of human nature, What does it avail them to say, this “ legal part” of the whole transaction, is attended with a concurrent provision of mercy ? Suppose a man cruelly wounds and bruises his unoffending and helpless neighbor: does it vindicate him from the charge of having done wrong, to say, that he has immediately provided a surgeon? We deny this principle, as one abhorrent to the whole character and feelings of God. “What mean ye," says he, “ to use this proverb, the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge ?" It is revolting to the common sense of mankind. Under no equitable human government,

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