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The first question we should put to ourselves, when we have to read a passage that perplexes us in a work of authority, is; What does the writer mean by all this? And the second question should be, What does he intend by all this? In the passage before us, Taylor's meaning is not quite clear. A sin is an evil which has its ground or origin in the agent, and not in the compulsion of circumstances. Circumstances are compulsory from the absence of a power to resist or control them: and if this absence likewise be the effect of circumstance (that is, if it have been neither directly nor indirectly caused by the agent himself), the evil derives from the circumstances; and therefore (in the Apostle's sense of the word, sin, when he speaks of the exceeding sinfulness of sin) such evil is not sin; and the person who suffers it, or who is the compelled instrument of its infliction on others, may feel regret, but cannot feel remorse. So likewise of the word origin, original, or originant. The reader cannot too early be warned that it is not applicable, and, without abuse of language, can never be applied, to a mere link in a chain of effects, where each, indeed, stands in the relation of a cause to those that follow, but is at the same time the effect of all that precede. For in these cases a cause amounts to little more than an antecedent. At the utmost it means only a conductor of the causative influence; and the old axiom, causa causae causa causati, applies with a never-ending regress to each several link, up the whole chain of nature. But this is nature: and 201 no natural thing or act can be called originant, or be truly said to have an origin** in any other. The moment we assume an origin in nature, a true beginning, an actual first--that moment we rise above nature,

**This sense of the word is implied even in its metaphorical or figurative use. Thus we may say of a river that it originates in such or such a fountain; the water of a canal is derived from such or such a river. The power which we call nature, may be thus defined: A power subject to the law of continuity lex continui; nam in natura non datur saltus) which law the human understanding, by a necessity arising out of its own constitution, can conceive only under the form of cause and effect. That this form or law, of cause and effect is (relatively to the world without, or to things as they subsist independently of our perceptions) only a form or mode of thinking; that it is a law inherent in the understanding itself (just as the symmetry of the miscellaneous objects seen by the kaleidoscope inheres in, or results from, the mechanism of the kaleidoscope itself)--this becomes evident as soon as we attempt to apply the preconception directly to any operation of nature. For in this case we are forced to represent the cause as being at the same instant the effect, and vice versa the effect as being the cause--a relation which we seek to express by the terms action and re-action; but for which the term reciprocal action or the law of reciprocity (Wechselwirkung) would be both more accurate and more expressive.

These are truths which can scarcely be too frequently impressed on the mind that is in earnest in the wish to reflect aright. Nature is a line in constant and continuous evolution. Its beginning is lost in the super natural: and for our understanding therefore it must appear as a continuous line without beginning or end But where there is no discontinuity there can be no origination, and every appearance of origination in nature is but a shadow of our own casting. It is a reflection from our own will or spirit. Herein, indeed, the will consists. This is the essential character by which will is opposed to nature, as spirit, and raised above nature, as self-determining spirit--this namely, that it is a power of originating an act or state.

A young friend, or, as he was pleased to describe himself, a pupil of mine, who is beginning to learn to think, asked me to explain by an instance what is meant by "originating an act or state." My answer was--This morning I awoke with a dull pain, which I knew from experience the getting up would remove: and yet by adding to the drowsiness and by weakening or depressing the volition (volunias sensorialis seu mechanica) the very pain seemed to hold me back, to fix me, as it were, to 202 and are compelled to assume a supernatural power (Gen. i, 1).

It will be an equal convenience to myself and to my readers, to let it be agreed between us, that we will

the bed. After a peevish ineffectual quarrel with this painful disinclination, I said to myself: Let me count twenty, and the moment I come to nineteen I will leap out of bed. So said, and so done. Now should you ever find yourself in the same or in a similar state, and should attend to the goings-on within you, you will learn what I mean by originating an act. At the same time you will see that it belongs exclusively to the will (arbitrium); that there is nothing analogous to it in outward experiences; and that I had, therefore, no way of explaining it but by referring you to an act of your own, and to the peculiar self-consciousness preceding and accompanying it. As we know what life is by being, so we know what will is by acting. That in willing (replied my young friend) we appear to ourselves to constitute an actual beginning, and that this seems unique, and without any example in our sensible experience, or in the phaenomena of nature, is an undeniable fact. But may it not be an illusion arising from our ignorance of the antecedent causes? You may suppose this (I rejoined):--that the soul of every man should impose a lie on itself; and that this lie, and the acting on the faith of its being the most important of all truths, and the most real of all realities, should form the main contra-distinctive character of humanity, and the only basis of that distinction between things and persons on which our whole moral and criminal law is grounded;--you may suppose this;--I cannot, as I could in the case of an arithmetical or geometrical proposition, render it impossible for you to suppose it. Whether you can reconcile such a supposition with the belief of an all-wise Creator is another question. But, taken singly, it is doubtless in your power to suppose this. Were it not, the belief of the contrary would be no subject of a command, no part of a moral or religious duty. You would not, however, suppose it without a reason. But all the pretexts that ever have been or ever can be offered for this supposition, are built on certain notions of the understanding that have been generalized from conceptions; which conceptions, again, are themselves generalized or abstracted from objects of sense. Neither the one nor the other, therefore, have any force except in application to objects of sense, and within the sphere of sensible experience. What but absurdity can follow, if you decide on spirit by the laws of matter;--if you judge that, which if it be at all must be super-sensual, by that faculty of your mind, the very definition of which is "the faculty judging according to sense?" These then are unworthy 203 generalize the word circumstance, so as to understand by it, as often as it occurs in this Comment, all and every thing not connected with the will, past or present, of a free agent. Even though it were the blood in the chambers of his hearty or his own inmost sensations, we will regard them as circumstantial, extrinsic, or from without.

In this sense of the word, original, and in the sense before given of sin, it is evident that the phrase, original sin, is a pleonasm, the epithet not adding to the thought, but only enforcing it. For if it be sin, it must be original; and a state or act, that has not its origin in the will; may be calamity, deformity, disease, or mischief; but a

the name of reasons: they are only pretexts. But without reason to contradict your own consciousness in defiance of your own conscience, is contrary to reason. Such and such writers, you say, have made a great sensation. If so, I am sorry for it; but the fact I take to be this. From a variety of causes the more austere sciences have fallen into discredit, and impostors have taken advantage of the general ignorance to give a sort of mysterious and terrific importance to a parcel of trashy sophistry, the authors of which would not have employed themselves more irrationally in submitting the works of Raphael or Titian to canons of Criticism deduced from the sense of smell. Nay, less so. For here the objects and the organs are only disparate: while in the other case they are absolutely diverse. I conclude this note by reminding the reader, that my first object is to make myself understood. When he is in full possession of my meaning, then let him consider whether it deserves to be received as the truth. Had it been my immediate purpose to make him believe me as well as understand me, I should have thought it necessary to warn him that a finite will does indeed originate an act, and may originate a state of being; but yet only in and for the agent himself. A finite will constitutes a true beginning; but with regard to the series of motions and changes by which the free act is manifested and made effectual, the finite will gives a beginning only by coincidence with that Absolute Will, which is at the same time Infinite Power! Such is the language of religion, and of philosophy too in the last instance. But I express the same truth in ordinary language when I say, that a finite will, or the will of a finite free-agent, acts outwardly by confluence with the laws of nature. 204 sin it cannot be. It is not enough that the act appears voluntary, or that it is intentional; or that it has the most hateful passions or debasing appetite for its proximate cause and accompaniment. All these may be found in a mad-house, where neither law nor humanity permit us to condemn the actor of sin. The reason of law declares the maniac not a free-agent; and the verdict follows of course--Not guilty. Now mania, as distinguished from idiocy, frenzy, delirium, hypochondria, and derangement (the last term used specifically to express a suspension or disordered state of the understanding or adaptive power), is the occultation or eclipse of reason, as the power of ultimate ends. The maniac, it is well known, is often found clever and inventive in the selection and adaptation of means to his ends; but his ends are madness. He has lost his reason. For though reason, in finite beings, is not the will--or how could the will be opposed to the reason?--yet it is the condition, the sine qua non of a free-will.

We will now return to the extract from Jeremy Taylor on a theme of deep interest in itself, and trebly important from its bearings. For without just and distinct views respecting the Article of Original Sin, it is impossible to understand aright any one of the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. Now my first complaint is, that the eloquent Bishop, while he admits the fact as established beyond controversy by universal experience, yet leaves us wholly in the dark as to the main point, supplies us with no answer to the principal question--why he names it Original Sin. It cannot be said. We know what the Bishop means, and what matters the name? for the nature of the fact, and in what light it should be regarded by us, depends--on the nature of our answer to the question, whether Original Sin is or is not the right and 205 proper designation. I can imagine the same quantum of sufferings, and yet if I had reason to regard them as symptoms of a commencing change, as pains of growth, the temporary deformity and misproportions of immaturity, or (as in the final sloughing of the caterpillar) the throes and struggles of the waxing or evolving Psyche, I should think it no Stoical flight to doubt, how far I was authorized to declare the circumstance an evil at all. Most assuredly I would not express or describe the fact as an evil having an origin in the sufferers themselves, or as sin.

Let us, however, waive this objection. Let it be supposed that the Bishop uses the word in a different and more comprehensive sense, and that by sin he understands evil of all kind connected with or resulting from actions--though I do not see how we can represent the properties even of inanimate bodies (of poisonous substances for instance) except as acts resulting from the constitution of such bodies. Or if this sense, though not unknown to the mystic divines, should be, too comprehensive and remote, I will suppose the Bishop to comprise under the term sin, the evil accompanying or consequent on human actions and purposes:--though here, too, I have a right to be informed, for what reason and on what grounds sin is thus limited to human agency? And truly, I should be at no loss to assign the reason. But then this reason would instantly bring me back to my first definition; and any other reason, than that the human agent is endowed with reason, and with a will which can place itself either in subjection or in opposition to his reason--in other words, that man is alone of all known animals a responsible creature--I neither know nor can imagine.

Thus, then; the sense which Taylor--and with him 206 the antagonists generally of this Article as propounded by the first Reformers--attaches to the words, Original Sin, needs only be carried on into its next consequence, and it will be found to imply the sense which I have given--namely, that sin is evil having an origin. But inasmuch as it is evil, in God it cannot originate: and yet in some Spirit (that is, in some supernatural power) it must. For in nature there is no origin. Sin therefore is spiritual evil: but the spiritual in man is the will. Now when we do not refer to any particular sins, but to that state and constitution of the will, which is the ground, condition, and common cause of all sins; and when we would further express the truth, that this corrupt nature of the will must in some sense or other be considered as its own act, that the corruption must have been self-originated;--in this case and for this purpose we may, with no less propriety than force, entitle this dire spiritual evil and source of all evil, which is absolutely such, Original Sin. I have said, the corrupt nature of the will. I might add, that the admission of a nature into a spiritual essence by its own act is a corruption.

Such, I repeat, would be the inevitable conclusion, if Taylor's sense of the term were carried on into its immediate consequences. But the whole of his most eloquent Treatise makes it certain that Taylor did not carry it on: and consequently Original Sin, according to his conception, is a calamity which being common to all men must be supposed to result from their common nature;--in other words, the universal calamity of human nature.

Can we wonder, then, that a mind, a heart, like Taylor's should reject, that he should strain his faculties to explain away, the belief that this calamity, so dire in itself should appear to the All-merciful God a rightful 207 cause and motive for inflicting on the wretched sufferers a calamity infinitely more tremendous;--nay, that it should be incompatible with Divine Justice not to punish it by everlasting torment? Or need we be surprised if he found nothing that could reconcile his mind to such a belief, in the circumstance that the acts now consequent on this calamity, and either directly or indirectly effects of the same, were, five or six thousand years ago, in the instance of a certain individual and his accomplice, anterior to the calamity, and the cause or occasion of the same;--that what in all other men is disease, in these two persons was guilt;--that what in us is hereditary, and consequently nature, in them was original, and consequently sin? Lastly, might it not be presumed, that so enlightened, and at the same time so affectionate, a divine would even fervently disclaim and reject the pretended justifications of God grounded on flimsy analogies drawn from the imperfections of human ordinances and human justice-courts--some of very doubtful character even as human institutes, and all of them just only as far as they are necessary, and rendered necessary chiefly by the weakness and wickedness, the limited powers and corrupt passions, of mankind? The more confidently might this be presumed of so acute and practised a logician, as Taylor, in addition to his other extraordinary gifts, is known to have been, when it is demonstrable that the most current of these justifications rests on a palpable equivocation: namely, the gross misuse of the word right.* An instance will explain my

*It may conduce to the readier comprehension of this point if I say, that the equivoque consists in confounding the almost technical sense of the noun substantive, right, (a sense must often determined by the genitive case following, as the right of property, the right of husbands to chastise their wives, and so forth) with the popular sense of the adjective, 208 meaning. In as far as, from the known frequency of dishonest or mischievous persons, it may have been found necessary, in so far is the law justifiable in giving landowners the right of proceeding against a neighbour or fellow-citizen for even a slight trespass on that which the law has made their property:--nay, of preceeding in sundry instances criminally and even capitally. But surely, either there is no religion in the world, and nothing obligatory in the precepts of the Gospel, or there are occasions in which it would be very wrong in

right: though this likewise has, if not a double sense, yet a double application;--the first, when it is used to express the fitness of a mean to a relative end; for example, "the right way to obtain the right distance at which a "picture should be examined," and the like; and the other, when it expresses a perfect conformity and commensurateness with the immutable idea of equity, or perfect rectitude. Hence the close connection between the words righteousness and godliness, that is, godlikeness.

I should be tempted to subjoin a few words on a predominating doctrine closely connected with the present argument--the Paleyan principle of general consequences; but the inadequacy of this principle as a criterion of right and wrong, and above all its utter unfitness as a moral guide, have been elsewhere so fully stated (Friend, vol. ii, essay xi), that even in again referring to the subject, I must shelter myself under Seneca's rule, that what we cannot too frequently think of, we cannot too often be made to recollect. It is, however, of immediate importance to the point in discussion, that the reader should be made to see how altogether incompatible the principle of judging by general consequences is with the idea of an Eternal, Omnipresent, and Omniscient Being;--that he should be made aware of the absurdity of attributing any form of generalization to the All-perfect Mind. To generalize is a faculty and function of the human understanding, and from the imperfection and limitation of the understanding are the use and the necessity of generalizing derived. Generalization is a substitute for intuition, for the power of intuitive, that is, immediate knowledge. As a substitute, it is a gift of inestimable value to a finite intelligence, such as man in his present state is endowed with and capable of exercising; but yet a substitute only, and an imperfect one to boot. To attribute it to God is the grossest anthropomorphism: and grosser instances of anthropomorphism than are to be found in the controversial writings on original sin and vicarious satisfaction, the records of superstition do not supply. 209 the proprietor to exercise the right, which yet it may be highly expedient that he should possess. On this ground it is, that religion is the sustaining opposite of law.

That Taylor, therefore, should have striven fervently against the Article so interpreted and so vindicated, is (for me at least) a subject neither of surprise nor of complaint. It is the doctrine which he substitutes; it is the weakness and inconsistency betrayed in the defence of this substitute; it is the unfairness with which he blackens the established Article--for to give it, as it had been caricatured by a few Ultra-Calvinists during the fever of the (so called) Quinquarticular controversy, was in effect to blacken it--and then imposes another scheme, to which the same objections apply with even increased force, a scheme which seems to differ from the former only by adding fraud and mockery to injustice;--these are the things that excite my wonder; it is of these that I complain. For what does the Bishop's scheme amount to? God, he tells us, required of Adam a perfect obedience, and made it possible by endowing him "with perfect rectitudes and supernatural heights of grace" proportionate to the obedience which he required. As a consequence of his disobedience, Adam lost this rectitude, this perfect sanity and proportionateness of his intellectual, moral and corporeal state, powers and impulses; and as the penalty of his crime, he was deprived of all supernatural aids and graces. The death, with whatever is comprised in the Scriptural sense of the word, death, began from that moment to work in him, and this consequence he conveyed to his offspring, and through them to all his posterity, that is, to all mankind. They were born diseased in mind, body and will. For what less than disease can we call a necessity of 210 error and a predisposition to sin and sickness? Taylor, indeed, asserts, that though perfect obedience became incomparably more difficult, it was not, however, absolutely impossible. Yet he himself admits that the contrary was universal; that of the countless millions of Adam's posterity, not a single individual ever realized, or approached to the realization of, this possibility; and (if my memory* does not deceive me) Taylor himself has elsewhere exposed--and if he has not, yet common sense will do it for him--the sophistry in asserting of a whole what may be true of the whole, but is in fact true only of each of its component parts. Any one may snap a horse-hair: therefore, any one may perform the same feat with the horse's tail. On a level floor (on the hardened sand, for instance, of a sea-beach) I chalk two parallel straight lines, with a width of eight inches. It is possible for a man, with a bandage over his eyes, to keep within the path for two or three paces: therefore, it is possible for him to walk blindfold for two or three leagues without a single deviation! And this possibility would suffice to acquit me of injustice, though I had placed man-traps within an inch of one line, and knew that there were pit-falls and deep wells beside the other! This assertion, therefore, without adverting to its discordance with, if not direct contradiction to, the tenth and thirteenth Articles of our Church, I shall not, I trust, be thought to rate below its true value, if I treat it as an infinitesimal possibility that may be safely dropped in the calculation: and so proceed with the argument.

*I have, since this page was written, met with several passages in the Treatise on Repentance, the Holy Living and Dying, and the Worthy Communicant, in which the Bishop asserts without scruple the impossibility of total obedience; and on the same grounds as I have given.


The consequence then of Adam's crime was, by a natural necessity, inherited by persons who could not (the Bishop affirms) in any sense have been accomplices in the crime or partakers in the guilt: and yet consistently with the divine holiness, it was not possible that the same perfect obedience should not be required of them. Now what would the idea of equity, what would the law inscribed by the Creator on the heart of man, seem to dictate in this case? Surely, that the supplementary aids, the supernatural graces correspondent to a law above nature, should be increased in proportion to the diminished strength of the agents, and the increased resistance to be overcome by them. But no! not only the consequence of Adam's act, but the penalty due to his crime, was perpetuated. His descendants were despoiled or left destitute of these aids and graces, while the obligation to perfect obedience was continued; an obligation, too, the non-fulfilment of which brought with it death and the unutterable woe that cleaves to an immortal soul for ever alienated from its Creator.

Observe that all these results of Adam's fall enter into Bishop Taylor's scheme of Original Sin equally as into that of the first Reformers. In this respect the Bishop's doctrine is the same with that laid down in the Articles and Homilies of the English Church. The only difference that has hitherto appeared, consists in the aforesaid mathematical possibility of fulfilling the whole law, which in the Bishop's scheme is affirmed to remain still in human nature, or (as it is elsewhere expressed) in the nature of the human will.* But though it were possible

*Availing himself of the equivocal sense, and (I most readily admit) the injudicious use, of the word "free" in the--even on this account--faulty phrase, "free only to sin," Taylor treats the notion of a power in 212 to grant this existence of a power in all men, Which in no man was ever exemplified, and where the non-actualization of such power is, a priori, so certain, that the belief or imagination of the contrary in any individual is expressly given us by the Holy Spirit as a test, whereby it may be known that the truth is not in him, as an infallible sign of imposture or self-delusion!--though it were possible to grant this, which, consistently with Scripture and the principles of reasoning which we apply in all other cases, it is not possible to grant;--and though it were possible likewise to overlook the glaring sophistry of concluding in relation to a series of indeterminate length, that whoever can do any one, can therefore do all; a conclusion, the futility of which must force itself on the common-sense of every man who understands the proposition;--still the question will arise--

the will of determining itself to evil without an equal power of determining itself to good, as a "foolery." I would this had been the only instance in his Deus Justificatus of that inconsiderate contempt so frequent in the polemic treatises of minor divines, who will have ideas of reason, spiritual truths that can only be spiritually discerned, translated for them into adequate conceptions of the understanding. The great articles of Corruption and Redemption are propounded to us as spiritual mysteries; and every interpretation that pretends to explain them into comprehensible notions, does by its very success furnish presumptive proof of its failure. The acuteness and logical dexterity, with which Taylor has brought out the falsehood, or semblance of falsehood, in the Calvinistic scheme, are truly admirable. Had he next concentred his thoughts in tranquil meditation, and asked himself: what then is the truth?--if a will be at all, what must a will be?--he might, I think, have seen that a nature in a will implies already a corruption of that will; that a nature is as inconsistent with freedom as free choice with an incapacity of choosing aught but evil. And lastly, a free power in a nature to fulfil a law above nature !--I, who who love and honor this good and great man with all the reverence that can dwell "on this side idolatry," dare not retort on this assertion the charge of foolery; but I find it a paradox as startling to my reason as any of the hard sayings of the Dort divines were to his understanding.


Why, and on what principle of equity, were the unoffending sentenced to be born with so fearful a disproportion of their powers to their duties? Why were they subjected to a law, the fulfilment of which was all but impossible, yet the penalty on the failure tremendous? Admit that for those who had never enjoyed a happier lot, it was no punishment to be made to inhabit a ground which the Creator had cursed, and to have been born with a body prone to sickness, and a soul surrounded with temptation, and having the worst temptation within itself in its own temptibility! To have the duties of a spirit with the wants and appetites of an animal! Yet on such imperfect creatures, with means so scanty and impediments so numerous, to impose the same task-work that had been required of a creature with a pure and entire nature, and provided with supernatural aids--if this be not to inflict a penalty;--yet to be placed under a law, the difficulty of obeying which is infinite, and to have momently to struggle with this difficulty, and to live momently in hazard of these consequences--if this be no punishment;--words have no correspondence with thoughts, and thoughts are but shadows of each other, shadows that own no substance for their antitype!

Of such an outrage on common sense Taylor was incapable. He himself calls it a penalty; he admits that in effect it is a punishment: nor does he seek to suppress the question that so naturally arises out of this admission;--on what principle of equity were the innocent offspring of Adam punished at all? He meets it, and puts in an answer. He states the problem, and gives his solution--namely, that "God on Adam's account was so exasperated with mankind, that being angry he would still continue the punishment!"--"The case" (says the Bishop) "is this. Jonathan and Michal were 214 Saul's children. It came to pass, that seven of Saul's issue were to be hanged: all equally innocent, equally culpable." [Before I quote farther, I feel myself called on to remind the reader, that these last two words were added by Taylor, without the least grounds in Scripture, according to which (2 Sam. xxi) no crime was laid to their charge, no blame imputed to them. Without any pretence of culpable conduct on their part, they were arraigned as children of Saul, and sacrificed to a point of state-expedience. In recommencing the quotation, therefore, the reader ought to let the sentence conclude with the words--] "all equally innocent. David took the five sons of Michal, for she had left him unhandsomely. Jonathan was his friend: and therefore he spared his son, Mephibosheth. Now here it was indifferent as to the guilt of the persons (bear in mind, reader, that no guilt was attached to either of them!) whether David should take the sons of Michal, or Jonathan's; but it is likely that as upon the kindness that David had to Jonathan, he spared his son; so upon the just provocation of Michal, he made that evil fall upon them, which, it may be, they should not have suffered, if their mother had been kind. Adam was to God, as Michal to David."*

This answer, this solution, proceeding too from a divine so pre-eminently gifted, and occurring (with other passages not less startling) in a vehement refutation of the received doctrine, on the express ground of its opposition to the clearest conceptions and best feelings of mankind--this it is that surprises me. It is of this that I complain. The Almighty Father exasperated with

*Vol. IX, p. 5-6. Heb. edit. 215 those, whom the Bishop has himself in the same treatise described as "innocent and most unfortunate"--the two things best fitted to conciliate love and pity! Or though they did not remain innocent, yet those whose abandonment to a mere nature, while they were left amenable to a law above nature, he affirms to be the irresistible cause, that they one and all did sin! And this decree illustrated and justified by its analogy to one of the worst actions of an imperfect mortal! From such of my readers as will give a thoughtful perusal to these works of Taylor, I dare anticipate a concurrence with the judgment which I here transcribe from the blank space at the end of the Deus Justificatus in my own copy; and which, though twenty years have elapsed since it was written, I have never seen reason to recant or modify. "This most eloquent Treatise may be compared to a statue of Janus, with the one face, which we must suppose fronting the Calvinistic tenet, entire and fresh, as from the master's hand; beaming with life and force, witty scorn on the lip, and a brow at once bright and weighty with satisfying reason:--the other, looking toward the 'something to be put in its place,' maimed, featureless, and weather-bitten into an almost visionary confusion and indistinctness."

With these expositions I hasten to contrast the Scriptural article respecting original sin, or the corrupt and sinful nature of the human will, and the belief which alone is required of us, as Christians. And here the first thing to be considered, and which will at once remove a world of error, is; that this is no tenet first introduced or imposed by Christianity, and which, should a man see reason to disclaim the authority of the Gospel, would no longer have any claim on his attention. It is no perplexity that a man may get rid of by ceasing 216 to be a Christian, and which has no existence for a philosophic Deist. It is a fact, affirmed, indeed, in the Christian Scriptures alone with the force and frequency proportioned to its consummate importance; but a fact acknowledged in every religion that retains the least glimmering of the Patriarchal faith in a God infinite, yet personal. A fact assumed or implied as the basis of every religion, of which any relics remain of earlier date than the last and total apostasy of the Pagan world, when the faith in the great I Am, the Creator, was extinguished in the sensual Polytheism, which is inevitably the final result of Pantheism, or the worship of nature; and the only form under which the Pantheistic scheme--that, according to which the world is God, and the material universe itself the one only absolute being can exist for a people, or become the popular creed. Thus in the most ancient books of the Brahmins, the deep sense of this fact, and the doctrines grounded on obscure traditions of the promised remedy, are seen struggling, and now gleaming, now flashing, through the mist of Pantheism, and producing the incongruities and gross contradictions of the Brahmin Mythology: while in the rival sect--in that most strange phaenomenon, the religious Atheism of the Buddhists, with whom God is only universal matter considered abstractedly from all particular forms--the fact is placed among the delusions natural to man, which, together with other superstitions grounded on a supposed essential difference between right and wrong, the sage is to decompose and precipitate from the menstruum of his more refined apprehensions! Thus in denying the fact, they virtually acknowledge it.

From the remote East, turn to the mythology of the Lesser Asia, to the descendants of Javan, who dwelt in 217 the tents of Shem, and possessed the isles. Here, again, and in the usual form of an historic solution, we find the same fact, and as characteristic of the human race, stated in that earliest and most venerable mythus (or symbolic parable) of Prometheus--that truly wonderful fable, in which the characters of the rebellious Spirit and of the Divine Friend of mankind

are united in the same person; and thus in the most striking manner noting the forced amalgamation of the Patriarchal tradition with the incongruous scheme of Pantheism This and the connected tale of lo, which is but the sequel of the Prometheus, stand alone in the Greek Mythology, in which elsewhere both gods and men are mere powers and products of nature. And most noticeable it is, that soon after the promulgation and spread of the Gospel had awakened the moral sense, and had opened the eyes even of its wiser enemies to the necessity of providing some solution of this great problem of the moral world, the beautiful parable of Cupid and Psyche was brought forward as a rival Fall of Man: and the fact of a moral corruption connatural with the human race was again recognised. In the assertion of original sin the Greek Mythology rose and set.

But not only was the fact acknowledged of a law in the nature of man resisting the law of God; (and whatever is placed in active and direct oppugnancy to the good is, ipso facto, positive evil;) it was likewise an acknowledged mystery, and one which by the nature of the subject must ever remain such--a problem, of which any other solution than the statement of the fact itself, was demonstrably impossible. That it "is so, the least reflection will suffice to convince every man, who has previously satisfied himself that he is a responsible being. It follows necessarily from the postulate of a 218 responsible will. Refuse to grant this, and I have not a word to say. Concede this, and you concede all. For this is the essential attribute of a will, and contained in the very idea, that whatever determines the will acquires this, power from a previous determination of the will itself. The will is ultimately self-determined, or it is no longer a will under the law of perfect freedom, but a nature under the mechanism of cause and effect. And if by an act, to which it had determined itself, it has subjected itself to the determination of nature (in the language of St. Paul, to the law of the flesh), it receives a nature into itself, and so far it becomes a nature: and this is a corruption of the will and a corrupt nature. It is also a fall of man, inasmuch as his will is the condition of his personality; the ground and condition of the attribute which constitutes him man. And the groundwork of personal being is a capacity of acknowledging the moral law (the law of the spirit, the law of freedom, the divine will) as that which should, of itself, suffice to determine the will to a free obedience of the law, the law working therein by its own exceeding lawfulness.* This, and this alone, is positive good; good in itself, and independent of all relations. Whatever resists, and, as a positive force, opposes this in the will, is therefore evil. But an evil in the will is an evil will; and as all moral evil (that is all evil that is evil without reference to its contingent physical consequences) is of the will, this evil will must have its source in the will. And thus we might go, back from act to act, from evil to evil, ad infinitum, without advancing a step.

*If the law worked on the will, it would be the working of an extrinsic and alien force, and, as St. Paul profoundly argues, would prove the will sinful.


We call an individual a bad man, not because an action is contrary to the law, but because it has led us to conclude from it some principle opposed to the law, some private maxim or by-law in the will contrary to the universal law of right reason in the conscience, as the ground of the action. But this evil principle again must be grounded in some other principle which has been made determinant of the will by the will's own self-determinalion. For if not, it must have its ground in some necessity of nature, in some instinct or propensity imposed, not acquired, another's work not our own. Consequently neither act nor principle could be imputed; but relatively to the agent, not original, not sin.

Now let the grounds on which the fact of an evil inherent in the will is affirmable in the instance of any one man, be supposed equally applicable in every instance, and concerning all men: so that the fact is asserted of the individual, not because he has committed this or that crime, or because he has shown himself to be this or that man, but simply because he is a man. Let the evil be supposed such as to imply the impossibility of an individual's referring to any particular time at which it might be conceived to have commenced, or to any period of his existence at which it was not existing. Let it be supposed, in short, that the subject stands in no relation whatever to time, can neither be called in time nor out of time; but that all relations of time are as alien and heterogeneous in this question, as the relations and attributes of space (north or south, round or square, thick or thin) are to our affections and moral feelings. Let the reader suppose this, and he will have before him the precise import of the Scriptural doctrine of original sin; or rather of the fact 220 acknowledged in all ages, and recognised, but not originating, in the Christian Scriptures.

In addition to this it will be well to remind the inquirer, that the stedfast conviction of the existence, personality, and moral attributes of God, is presupposed in the acceptance of the Gospel, or required as its indispensable preliminary. It is taken for granted as a point which the hearer had already decided for himself, a point finally settled and put at rest: not by the removal of all difficulties, or by any such, increase of insight as enabled him to meet every objection of the Epicurean or the Sceptic with a full and precise answer; but because he had convinced himself that it was folly as well as presumption in so imperfect a creature to expect it; and because these difficulties and doubts disappeared at the beam, when tried against the weight and convictive power of the reasons in the other scale. It is, therefore, most unfair to attack Christianity, or any article which the Church has declared a Christian doctrine, by arguments, which, if valid, are valid against all religion. Is there a disputant who scorns a mere postulate, as the basis of any argument in support of the faith; who is too high-minded to beg his ground, and will take it by a strong hand? Let him fight it out with the Atheists, or the Manichean; but not stoop to pick up their arrows, and then run away to discharge them at Christianity or the Church!

The only true way is to state the doctrine, believed as well by Saul of Tarsus, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the Church of Christ, as by Paul the Apostle, fully preaching the Gospel of Christ. A moral evil is an evil that has its origin in a will. An evil common to all must have a ground common to all. But the actual existence of moral evil we are bound in 221 conscience to admit; and that there is an evil common to all is a fact; and this evil must therefore have a common ground. Now this evil ground cannot originate in the Divine Will: it must therefore be referred to the will of man. And this evil ground we call original sin. It is a mystery, that is, a fact, which we see, but cannot explain; and the doctrine a truth which we apprehend, but can neither comprehend nor communicate. And such by the quality of the subject (namely, a responsible will) it must be, if it be truth at all.

A sick man, whose complaint was as obscure as his sufferings were severe and notorious, was thus addressed by a humane stranger: "My poor Friend! I find you dangerously ill, and on this account only, and having certain information of your being so, and that you have not wherewithal to pay for a physician, I hate come to you. Respecting your disease, indeed, I can tell you nothing that you are capable of understanding, more than you know already, or can only be taught by reflection on your own experience. But I have rendered the disease no longer irremediable. I have brought the remedy with me: and I now offer you the means of immediate relief, with the assurance of gradual convalescence, and a final perfect cure; nothing more being required on your part, but your best endeavours to follow the prescriptions I shall leave with you. It is, indeed, too probable, from the nature of your disease, that you will occasionally neglect or transgress them. But even this has been calculated on in the plan of your cure, and the remedies provided, if only you are sincere and in right earnest with yourself, and have your heart in the work. Ask me not how such a disease can be conceived possible. Enough for the present that you know it to be real: and I come to cure the disease, not to explain it."


Now, what if the patient or some of his neighbors should charge this good Samaritan with having given rise to the mischievous notion of an inexplicable disease, involving the honor of the king of the country;--should inveigh against him as the author and first introducer of the notion, though of the numerous medical works composed ages before his arrival, and by physicians of the most venerable authority, it was scarcely possible to open a single volume without finding some description of the disease, or some lamentation of its malignant and epidemic character;--and, lastly, what if certain pretended friends of this good Samaritan, in their zeal to vindicate him against this absurd charge, should assert that he was a perfect stranger to this disease, and boldly deny that he had ever said or done any thing connected with it, or that implied its existence?

In this apologue or imaginary case, reader! you have the true bearings of Christianity on the fact and doctrine of original sin. The doctrine (that is, the confession of a known fact) Christianity has only in common with every religion, and with every philosophy, in which the reality of a responsible will, and the essential difference between good and evil, have been recognised. Peculiar to the Christian religion are the remedy and (for all purposes but those of a merely speculative curiosity) the solution. By the annuciation of the remedy it affords all the solution which our moral interests require; and even in that which remains, and must remain, unfathomable, the Christian finds a new motive to walk humbly with the Lord his God.

Should a professed believer ask you, whether that which is the ground of responsible action in your will could in any way be responsibly present in the will of Adam,--answer him in these words: "You, Sir! can 223 no more demonstrate the negative, than I can conceive the affirmative. The corruption of my will may very warrantably be spoken of as a consequence of Adam's fall, even as my birth of Adam's existence; as a consequence, a link in the historic chain of instances, whereof Adam is the first. But that it is on account of Adam; or that this evil principle was, a priori, inserted of infused into my will by the will of another--which is indeed a contradiction in terms, my will in such case being no will;— this is nowhere asserted in Scripture explicitly or by implication." It belongs to the very essence of the doctrine, that in respect of original sin every man is the adequate representative of all men. What wonder, then, that where no inward ground of preference existed, the choice should be determined by outward relations, and that the first in time should be taken as the diagram? Even in the book of Genesis the word Adam, is distinguished from a proper name by an article before if. It is the Adam, so as to express the genus, not the individual--or rather, perhaps, I should say, as well as the individual. But that the word with its equivalent, the old man, is used symbolically and universally by St. Paul, (1 Cor. xv, 22, 45, Eph. iv, 22, Col. iii, 9, Rom. vi, 6), is too evident to need any proof.

I conclude with this remark. The doctrine of original sin concerns all men. But it concerns Christians in particular no otherwise than by its connexion with the doctrine of Redemption; and with the divinity and divine humanity of the Redeemer, as a corollary or necessary inference from both mysteries. Beware of arguments against Christianity, which cannot stop there, and consequently ought not to have commenced there. Something I might have added to the clearness of the 224 preceding views, if the limits of the work had permitted me to clear away the several delusive and fanciful assertions respecting the state* of our first parents, their wisdom, science and angelic faculties, assertions without the slightest ground in Scripture:--or, if consistently with the warns and preparatory studies of those, for whose use this volume was especially intended, I could have entered into the momentous subject of a spiritual fall or apostasy antecedent to the formation of man--a belief the Scriptural grounds of which are few and of diverse interpretation, but which has been almost universal in the Christian Church. Enough however has been given, I trust, for the reader to see and (as far as the subject is capable of being understood) to understand this long controverted article, in the sense in which alone it is binding on his faith. Supposing him therefore to know the meaning of original sin, and to have decided for himself on the fact of its actual existence, as the antecedent ground and occasion of Christianity, we may now proceed to Christianity itself, as the edifice raised on this ground, that is, to the great constituent article of the faith in Christ, as the remedy of the disease--the doctrine of Redemption.

But before I proceed to this great doctrine, let me briefly remind the young and friendly pupil, to whom I would still be supposed to address myself, that in the following Aphorisms the word science is used in its strict and narrowest sense. By a science I here mean any chain of truths which are either absolutely certain, or necessarily true for the human mind, from the laws

*For a specimen of these Rabbinical dotages, I refer not to the writings of mystics and enthusiasts, but to the shrewd and witty Dr. South, one of whose most elaborate sermons stands prominent among the many splendid extravaganzas on this subject. 225 and constitution of the mind itself. In neither case is our conviction derived, or capable of receiving any addition, from outward experience, or empirical date--that is, matters of fact given to us through the medium of the senses--though these data may have been the occasion, or may even be an indispensable condition, of our reflecting on the former, and thereby becoming conscious of the same. On the other hand, a connected series of conclusions grounded on empirical data, in contra-distinction from science, I beg leave (no better term occurring) in this place and for this purpose to denominate a scheme.

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