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To close our remarks on this subject, we would observe, that we do not consider that a knowledge of the exact extent of the curse of the law, to be among the most essential points in theology. Yet, as it is confessedly of more or less importance, we have thought proper to make the foregoing observations, and leave every person to read, compare, and finally judge for himself.
On the Character of Man. He seventh section of the Christian's Instructer, contains the views of Mr. H. on total depravity. Here, if I rightly understand him, he denies that most important doctrine of original or birth-sin, which has been handed down from the earliest ages of the Christian Church. “Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engén. dered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature in. clined to evil, and that continually.” And again, “The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he can. not turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and works, to faith, and calling upon God; Wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will."*
To show that Mr. H's views of depravity are not accord
* Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, p.p. 10, 11-twenty-second edition.
ing to those of the Christian church in general, we only need to quote the following words of his —- To. suppose that sin, or depravity, to consist in any thing but the voluntary actions of the soul, is to impeach the character of God,” &c.
Here it will be observed, he does not allow that man possesses any depravity, but what consists in voluntary action; of course antil we are capable of voluntary actions of the soul, there is no depravity in our natures! That he means by the actions of the soul, moral actions, is plain from his calling our fallen state, "moral depravity." p. 88. Now if the views of Mr. H. are just, one of two things is true.-1. We are not depraved till some time after we are born; or, 2, We are capable of moral action, (which implies a knowledge of a moral law) even before we are born into the world !! Which of these absurdities he will choose, I know
may however that he does not contend that we have any capacity to do moral actions before we are born, This, however, will help the matter but a very little ; for even then we are capable of moral action, the moment we are born, er are without the least depravity until we are ca. pable of knowing sufficient of God and his law, to commit actual transgressions. Every one's experience however, teaches him, that he has no conception whatever of right or wrong, until a considerable time after he is born: and of course, is not capable of any moral action.
And for aught that Mr. H. can prove to the contrary, we have souls for weeks and months before we are born.
Again, that he denies the doctrine of total depravity as it is commonly held, will appear from his remarks on p. 89.He says, “We frequently hear depravity represented as a nature that exists in the soul previous to all voluntary ac, tion,” &c. We presume that he has frequently heard de pravity represented as a nature ; for he has no doubt often
read and heard read, the fifty-first Psalm; especially the fifth verse—“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Here indeed is depravity even from the conception! Mr. H. will say, true; but it was the mother's. But I ask whether David was confessing his mother's depravity or his own?-Read the Psalm and see. See also Eph. ii. 1, 2, 3, where the Apostle argues from the stream back to the fountain. He commences with actual sin, and closes by saying, “ And were by nature children of wrath even as others."
Again he says, “Man, with all his faculties, as he came from the hand of God, cannot be considered (aside from his conduct or actions) as either praise or blameworthy.” Empty sound !--Who ever asserted that he could? We are not considering man as he came from the hand of God, but as he came from the loins of his first father.
Therefore, all he says to prove that our nature was not unholy when created, is mere beating the air. His arguments in general under, this question, all proceed upon the supposition, that we were not condemned on account of Adam's transgression. Now as this is a point which he has not proved, his arguments built
upon it are of no weight at all. We shall have occa. sion to examine this question more at large presently. shall next pass to consider the question on the 94th page: it is this" In what sense did the whole human race fall with Adam ?"
In answer to this question, Mr. H, observes, that "the apostacy of Adam's posterity, was in consequence of his disobedience." But to show that by the apostacy of Adam's posterity, he does not mean any depravity of nature previous to voluntary and moral action, we only need to consult the following words of his—“When Adam became a sinner, by the same principle that the offspring in every other species,
must be like its progenitor, his offspring were sinners." 95. Now where there is no law, there is no transgres. sion." Therefore as we observed before, according to Mr. H. the posterity of Adam must be capable of knowing sufficient of God and his law, to act under a consciousness of their accountability, from the first moment of life, or they are without the least depravity for some time after their birth. But how did they fall with him?-1. They were all in his loins when he fell.-2. In consequence of this, they all come into the world with a depraved nature : 'And Adam begat a son in his own likeness and after his image.' Mr. H. has quoted this text, it would seem, for the purpose of proving that the likeness and image of Adam, were actual transgreso sion! This however he must prove before this text will be of service to his theory. It is presumed it will be difficult for any man to prove that the image which Adam conveyed to his posterity, was moral action. And indeed could it be proved, it would in a great degree lessen the criminality of sin in his posterity; for if Adam by natural generation con. veyed to his children actual sin, they certainly had no hand in being actual sinners. Hence on this principle, whatever they do afterwards, they cannot be to blame for being born actual transgressors ! But it may be said, that the same consequence will follow from the doctrine of natural depravity, I
answer no; for we are not personally guilty for being born into the world in a depraved state; but all actual transgressors are personally guilty (according to Mr. H.) for being actual sinners at the birth, It is presumed no one ever felt condemned for being born into the world in a depraved condition; but, for following the dictates of that depravity in opposition to a known moral law. Corruption of nature we receive by natural generation : corruption of practice is our own. The former is ours only in consequence of the first transgression. The latter is ours by our own fault. If so, says one, then we should not commit actual sin if we were not first naturally depraved. I answer, I do not know that since Adam and holy angels did. Actual transgression was first, and then natural depravity followed where natural genération existed. Yet after all, says another, can we avoid acting out our natural depravity? I answer, Not with our natural abilities, but by the grace of God that bringeth sal. vation, and that hath appeared to all men we may and ought to avoid it.
Upon the whole, I conclude that we did fall with Adam, but in a sense widely different from the one Mr. H. advocates. The next question however will give us a further opportunity to examine this subject. It is as follows_“Is the sin of Adam in any sense ours, or are we blameable for his sin ?" p. 95.
In answer to this question Mr. H. observes, “ It is difficult to form any conception, how one being can violate a law for another, especially a law that will accept of no service but that of the heart.” I reply; it is not pretended that I know of, that Adam's actual transgression is our actual sin ; but that the effects of his sin are ours, we know but too well by sad experience. Again, he seems to suppose that it is a very strong argument against the doctrine which we advocate, that it is difficult to form any conception how the thing can be; but if the mysteriousness of a doctrine is an argument against the truth of that doctrine, the very existence of God himself is liable to be doubted on the same principle : for who can find out the Almighty to perfection? He —“ Is it not a point in which all are agreed, that in order that we might be the subjects of praise or blame, we must possess
the faculties of moral agents ?” I answer yes, in every case where we are to act for ourselves; but not where another is appointed to act for us, as in the case of