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REMARKS ON CHAP. I.
Of Original Sin, Free-will, and the Operation of the Holy Spirit.
Page i. It is evident, &c.* The consequences of Adam's transgression, on himself, and on all his posterity, especially on their moral character, or the state of their understanding, will, and affections, must not be decided on, from the bare narrative of the fall, and the coincident events; but from the scriptures at large; and from the state of the human race, in every age and nation, to this present time.
Numerous testimonies are found, in every part of the sacred oracles, concerning the heart of man, as descended from fallen Adam; and of the human character as derived from that source: and we may know how to apply these testimonies, by recollecting, and duly considering, the words of the wise man, or rather of Wisdom itself." Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." The history of mankind is a comment on these divine testimonies, or an exemplification of them. The language also, in which the sacred writers speak of our recovery in Jesus Christ, is directly to the purpose, as fully declaring the depth of that ruin, from which we are thus restored.
• It is evident from the account left us by Moses, that a considerable change took place in the minds of our first parents immediately after they had transgressed the prohibitory command of God, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; but the conciseness with which the sacred 'historian has described the primitive condition of man, and his fall from the <state in which he was created, has led to a variety of opinions respecting the ' effects of Adam's disobedience upon himself and his posterity.'
+ Prov. iv. 23.
For instance: when we read as follows, in the history of the creation, "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:"-" So God created "man in his own image; in the image of God created "he him."-" And God saw every thing that he had "made, and behold it was very good."* And when after the fall we read these divine testimonies; "God "saw the wickedness of man, that it was great in the "earth; and that every imagination of the thoughts of "his heart were only evil continually: and it repented "the LORD that he had made man, and it grieved him "in his heart."-And after the deluge: "The ima"gination of man's heart is evil from his youth:"+ we must conclude, from this most striking contrast, that some vast and awful change had taken place in him, as to his moral character.
This most reasonable conclusion is illustrated by the history of Cain; and by the character given to the antediluvian world. "The earth also was corrupt before "God; and the earth was filled with violence. And "God looked upon the earth; for all flesh had corrupt"ed his way upon the earth."‡
In fact, the conduct of mankind, in all ages and nations; except where "the oracles of God," and the grace of the gospel, have made exceptions to the general rule, has clearly illustrated and fully demonstrated, this conclusion.
Again, Christians, as "renewed in the spirit of their "mind," are " after God created in righteousness and "true holiness;" they have "put on the new man, which " is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that "created them." May we not conclude from these texts, that the image of God, in which man was at first
• Gen. i. 26, 27, 31.
Gen. vi. 5-12.
Eph. iv. 23, 24. Col. iii. 10.
created, was "in knowledge," " righteousness, and true "holiness?" Can we, attentively reading and meditating on these testimonies, be satisfied with the notion, that the divine image consisted only in a rational nature, and in free agency? A rational nature and free agency are possessed by fallen angels; yet these are never said to bear the image of God. Pride, ambition, envy, malignity, deceit, and enmity against God, constitute the character of the devil: and these, wherever they exist and prevail, are the image of the devil. But "God is "Love," and holiness, and truth. Now, let facts decide, whether men in general, all over the world, in every age, apart from the grace of the gospel, have more resembled, or do more resemble, that holy God, from whom they have revolted; or that great enemy of God, by whose temptations they have been overcome, and reduced to bondage.
These hints may suffice at present, for the subject will often come under consideration, as lying at the very foundation of the whole controversy.
P. ii. l. 11. There are, &c.'* The impossibility mentioned in this quotation, in the judgment of those, who most strenuously maintain it, does not arise from any natural inability; (such as disables a lame man from running swiftly, or a very poor man from relieving the wants of the afflicted;) but from a moral inability; even as a very covetous rich man cannot find in his heart to be liberal; or a very slothful man cannot find in his heart to be industrious. The hindrance is indeed as real and insurmountable, (except by a change of heart, or disposition,) in the latter, as in the former case; but it forms no excuse for the man's ill conduct.
*There are others, who contend that the sin of Adam introduced into his 'nature such a radical impotence and depravity, that it is impossible for his 'descendants to make any voluntary effort towards piety or virtue, or in any 'respect to correct and improve their moral and religious character'
'An effort towards piety and virtue,' (nay, an effort of any kind,) must be voluntary: and if man be, in himself, altogether unwilling, it is impossible for him to make a voluntary effort. How far man, apart from the grace of the gospel, is thus altogether unwilling, must be the subject of subsequent discussion. It may, however, be added, that few modern Calvinists hold this total inability, except in respect of things spiritually good; แ things accompanying salvation;"'good in the sight 'of God:' and in this his Lordship seems to agree with them?*
In acquiring virtue, or external moral good conduct, or even an external form of piety, from motives of a secular nature, such as regard to health, reputation, secular interest, peace or respectability in society; men, unaided by divine grace, nay, wholly disclaiming such assistance, often make both voluntary and successful efforts. Whether their religious character be thus improved, or not, may indeed be questioned; as not only heathen philosophers, but modern deists and infidels have made these voluntary and successful efforts, and have been proportionably buoyed up with pride and self-complacency, and contempt of others.
Indeed no man, who has just views concerning the best method of enjoying this present world, would lead an immoral life, even if he were an atheist in speculation: for immorality uniformly decreases enjoyment, and increases vexation and suffering, by an unchangeable arrangement of divine Providence.
Hypocrites, Pharisees, and other characters, against whom the scripture bears the most decided testimony, have in every age made these 'voluntary efforts,' from selfish and worldly motives, and have in some degree
* P. 67, 68. Refutation.
succeeded in them. But, "Did ye these things unto "me, saith the LORD?" "All their works they do for to "be seen of men: Verily I say unto you, they have "their reward.”
Calvinists, in general, deem no man incapable of making voluntary and successful efforts; except in those things which must be done, (if done at all,) from holy motives, from the fear and love of God, with a hope grounded on the holy scripture, of his gracious acceptance, and with a desire to glorify his name.
P. ii. 1. 18. 'That faith, &c.'* I am confident, that the word irresistible occurs more times, in 'The Re*futation,' than in all the works of living authors, who are called Calvinists.-In my own various publications, which may be thought, at least, sufficiently voluminous, I do not think it occurs once, in the meaning and application here intended. Indeed it has been, for some time, almost universally disallowed by our writers. The subject of man's endeavour and concurrence,' will be hereafter fully considered: when it will appear, that the sentiments of modern Calvinists are misunderstood.In the mean while, let the words of our article express them: 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.'t-As to other works, not 'pleasant and accep'table to God,' we believe, that carnal men are capable of them, without the grace of God by Christ.'‡
Man is a free agent, and therefore responsible for his .
That faith, and all the Christian graces, are communicated by the sole 'and irresistible operation of the Spirit of God, without any endeavour or 'concurrence on the part of man. The former is the position of the Socinjans, that Adam communicated no moral corruption to his posterity by his 'transgression; the latter of the Calvinists.'
P. 68, 69. Ref.