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ConfessION OF Basil.—“He (man) fell into sin, of his own accord; by the which fall, whole mankind is made corrupt and subject (liable) to damnation. Hence it is, that our nature is defiled, and become so prone unto sin, that, except it be removed by the Holy Ghost, man, of himself, can neither do, nor will, any good."*
CONFESSION OF Bohemia, or the Waldenses.—“Whereby he (Adam) stripped and bereaved himself and his posterity of the state of perfection, and goodness of nature, and the grace of God, and those good gifts of the justice and the image of God which were engraffed in him; he partly lost them, and partly corrupted and defiled them, as if with horrible poison one should corrupt pure wine; and by this means he cast, headlong, both himself and all his offspring into sin, death, and all kind of miseries in this life, and into punishment eternal after this life :" i. e. exposed himself and all his posterity to eternal punishment; for they did not hold that all men are damned.
FRENCH CONFESSION.—“We believe that all the offspring of Adam is infected with this contagion which we call original sin; that is, a stain spreading itself by propagation, and not by imitation only.—We believe that this stain is indeed a sin, because that it maketh all and every man (not so much as those little ones excepted which as yet lie hid in their mothers' womb) guilty ; i. e. deserving of eternal death.”+ This philosophy, which supposed that guilt and depravity might be transferred by a divine appointment, and that moral qualities might be transmitted, like physical properties, without knowledge or volition, obliged the Reformers to make the existence of depravity coeval with the existence of the body. This philosophy, however, Unitarians know full well, has been long since exploded in New England, and throughout a great portion of the Calvinistic churches of our land, as we shall have occasion to show.
CONFESSION OF Belgia.—“ We believe that through the disobedience of Adam, the sin that is called original, hath been spread and poured into all mankind, wherewith the very infants in their mothers' womb are polluted, and is alone sufficient to the condemnation of all mankind."|
ConfessION OF Saxony.—“We say, that all men, since the fall of our first parents, do, together with their birth, bring with them original sin. Therefore, original sin is, both for the fall of our first parents, and for the corruption which followed that fall, even in our birth, to be subject to the wrath of God; to be worthy of eternal damnation, except we obtain remission for the Mediator's sake.”ll
* Harmony, p. 63.
Ibid. p. 65.
Ibid. p. 70.
| Ibid. p. 75, 76.
CONFESSION OF WIRTEMBERG.–“For his disobedience he (Adam) was deprived of the Holy Ghost, and made the bondman of Satan, and subject (liable) both to temporal and eternal damnation; and that evil did not stay in one only, Adam, but was derived unto all the posterity.”*
The English CONFESSION.—" We say also, that every man is born in sin, and leadeth his life in sin.” The 39 articles say, “ In every person born into the world it (original sin) deserveth God's wrath and damnation.”
The SYNOD OF Dort was a most ample representation of the opinions of the whole Calvinistic world. They were convened to adjust the first public opposition which had ever been made to the doctrines of the Reformation. They discussed with the Remonstrants the distinguishing doctrines of Calvinism. But their views are in exact accordance with the Reformers; and no indication is given of the doctrine of infant damnation, either in their doctrine of predestination, or of original sin. Upon the latter subject they say “Such as man was after the fall, such children also did he beget. From a corrupt parent proceeded corrupt children, corruption being derived, by the just judgment of God, from Adam to all his posterity, Christ alone excepted; not by imitation, (as the Pelagians formerly taught,) but by the propagation of a depraved nature. Wherefore all men are conceived in sin, and born children of wrath.”*
THE SYNOD at CAMBRIDGE, 1648, which represented, not Massachusetts only, but New England, adopted, unanimously, “the Confession of faith published of late by the reverend Assembly in England,” judging it “to be holy and orthodox, and judicious in all matters of faith.” The same Confession was, in 1608, adopted by the churches in Connecticut represented at Saybrook, as the symbol of their faith; and the same is now the Confession of faith of the Presbyterian church in the United States. But this Confession, which represented the Calvinism of Old England and New, and which expresses, also, the doctrinal opinions of the church of Scotland and of the Presbyterian church in the United States, teaches neither directly, nor by implication, that infants are damned. The language of this Confession is, “ By this sin they (our first parents) and we, in them, fell from original righteousness, and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. The guilt of this sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity. Every sin, both original and actual, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal.”
| Acta Dordtrcehtana, p. 2:56.
* Harmony, p. 77. VOL. I.
But, beside these public general Confessions of faith, it has been the custom of each particular church, from the beginning to this day, to frame and adopt a Confession of faith and Covenant of her own, as the ground of her existence, and of her recognition by sister churches. These Confessions of the first, and of succeeding generations of churches, are extant. Probably there is not a Calvinistic church in New England without an orthodox Confession and Covenant of her own. I apprize the reviewer of this fact, that he may “ransack” the creeds of the first generations of churches, and take " whatever means” to explore those which have been formed successively, and which now exist; and I challenge him to produce a sentence from one which asserts or implies that infants are damned. And could one be found, it would be an anomaly, an utter exception to the general fact. It is needless to quote from these Confessions; for, with a most wonderful diversity of language, they all teach the great doctrines of the Bible, which were taught at the Reformation. Framed with great variety of expression, and a liberty of conscience, unshackled by standards, there is not on earth a body of churches more intelligent and harmonious in doctrine than the churches of New England. With the Confession of faith subscribed by the Professors at Andover, Unitarians, I believe, are acquainted, it having afforded them no small occasion of disquiet. But, after all that they have seen, or thought they saw, of evil in it, they have never been able to find in it the doctrine that infants are damned; though there is reason to apprehend that some Unitarians have not been sparing in their efforts to create the belief that the Professors do hold to that doctrine.
Thus it appears that a reviewer in a distinguished Unitarian periodical, has publicly charged Calvinists with holding a sentiment which their system does not contain, and which has never been avowed in a Calvinistic Confession of faith, or implied in anything taught in one, from the Reformation to this day.
The next source of evidence concerning the faith of Calvinistic churches, is to be found in the most approved Calvinistic authors. But here we shall show, that the authors chiefly relied on by the reviewer, viz. Calvin, and Turrettin, and Edwards, and Bellamy, teach no such thing in the passages quoted ; and that the two who seem to teach it, are not, in any such sense, standard authors, or “most approved writers," as justifies the application of their peculiar sentiments to Calvinists as a denomination, and much less to the Calvinists of New England.
CALVIN.—His testimony, as quoted by the reviewer, concerning infants, is, that “they are born infected with the contagion of sin,"_" are, in the sight of God, polluted and defiled,"_" are all by nature children of wrath,”-that " infants themselves bring their damnation (condemnation) with them from their mother's womb,”— that “their whole nature is, as it were, a seed of sin, so that it cannot but be odious and abominable to God.” But, does the reviewer need to be told, that, while all this is testimony absolute that Calvin believed in the depravity of infants, and their just exposure to damnation, it contains not a syllable which teaches or implies the fact that they are actually damned, which does not prove, just as conclusively, the eternal damnation of all mankind.
The next paragraph might startle us as translated by Professor Norton, in his views of Calvinism, and also as translated by the reviewer, provided it were correctly translated. I shall give the original; the translation of Professor Norton; and that of the reviewer; and of Allen, the late English translator; with my reasons for supposing that by Allen to be correct, and that Professor Norton and the reviewer have both mistranslated Calvin.
“ Iterum quæro, unde factum est ut tot gentes, una cum liberis eorum infantibus, æternæ morti involueret lapsus Adæ, absque remedio, nisi quia Deo visum est. Decretum quidem horribile, fateor."*
This passage the Professor translates as follows : “I ask again, how it has come to pass that the fall of Adam has involved so many nations, with their infant children, in eternal death, and this without remedy, but because such was the will of God. It is a horrible decree, I confess.”+
The translation of the reviewer is as follows : “ How has it happened, that the fall of Adam has involved so many nations, with their insant children, in eternal death, but because it so seemed good in the sight of God. It is a dreadful decree, I confess.";
Allen's translation: “I inquire again, how it came to pass that the fall of Adam, independent of any remedy, should involve so many nations, with their infant children, in eternal death, but because such was the will of God. It is an awful decree, I confess."||
The meaning of this passage, as a proof of infant damnation, depends on the collocation or omission of “ absque remedio" (without remedy) in the translation. As Professor Norton has placed it, following strictly the collocation of the words in the original, the passage teaches that “ many nations, with their infant children, are involved in eternal death, and that without remedy;"—and the reviewer, omitting “ absque remedio” (without remedy,) though it belongs to the sentence, and controls its meaning so entirely, makes Calvin teach that “the fall of Adam has involved so many nations, with their infant children, in eternal death ;”—while Allen, by placing “ absque remedio" (without remedy) in the translation before " tot gentes” (so many nations,) makes Calvin say, simply what himself and all the Reformers had said, viz. that, independent of any remedy, the fall involved all mankind in eternal death.
* Institutes, lib. iii. cap. 23. sec. 7.
Norton's Views of Calvinism, p. 14.
Christ. Examiner, vol. iv. No.5. p. 432.
That this is the true construction, the context does not permit us to doubt; for the subject of discussion was, whether it is any where “ declared in express terms, that Adam should perish by his defection.” Not whether he should actually be damned, but whether he should, by that act, be condemned and exposed justly to eternal death. And, among other reasons to prove that the defection of Adam did expose him to eternal death, by a divine constitution or decree, he alleges the fact, that the loss of salvation by the whole race, in consequence of the fall, was by a divine constitution, and not by any natural connexion of cause and effect; and demands, if the effect of Adam's fall upon his posterity was to subject them to eternal death, how it can be supposed that the effect upon himself, should not have been, at least, as fatal to him as to his offspring. “What prevents their acknowledging concerning one man, what they reluctantly grant concerning the whole species. The Scripture proclaims that all men were, in the person of their father, sentenced to eternal death.” Then follows, after a few lines, the sentence in question, which is a pressing home of his conclusion, from the foregoing premises: “I ask again, how it came to pass that the fall of Adam, independent of any remedy, should involve so many nations, with their infant children, in eternal death, but because such was the will of God.”—Now, “ so many nations,” means, undoubtedly, not a few nations, a part of mankind, but is synonymous with what the same premises included above, as no one who examines the passage can fail to sce. It is the "whole race," "the whole species," "all men, in the person of their father, sentenced to eternal death,” of whom he speaks in the phrase, “so many nations.” This being the fact, if you place“ absque remedio" in the translation where Professor Norton places it, it represents Calvin as teaching the damnation of " the whole race," "the whole species,” “all mankind, and this without remedy,” as the consequence of Adam's sin. Will the Professor maintain that Calvin taught the doctrine of the universal actual damnation of all mankind? And yet his collocation of " absque remedio" in the translątion, compels him to do so, for the very introduction of the sentence, “ Iterum quæro,” shows that Calvin urges the same argument now which he had just urged above. The omission of the reviewer to translate the words “ absque remedio” at all, so indispensable to the lucid interpretation of the sentence, and affording such decisive evidence to his purpose, if translated correctly by Professor Norton, seems to imply that he saw the mistake, and did not dare to repeat it, lest it should be detected; and did not dare to translate it correctly, lest the discrepancy between the reviewer and the the Professor should attract notice, and thus expose the mistake. If the reviewer and the Professor were fellow-laborers in collecting