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Seventhly, this corruption is real sin, that is, punishable by God. “It is truly sin, condemning, and bringing now also eternal death upon those who are not born again by baptism and the Spirit.” We are by this corruption “children of wrath by nature, and slaves of death and condemnation.” The punishment for original sin is, according to A. C. II., eternal perdition; it is also according to Apol. I. p. 58, death, and other physical evils, and the dominion of the devil (over us). So likewise the Schm. Art. pt. 3, art. I., and F. C. I. p. 641, and in other places. Our theologians, until these modern times, have adhered without deviation to this doctrine of original sin; and the older writers of systems unanimously described original sin, according to the idea found in the symbolical books, as defectus and corruptio, want of holiness, and, positively, bad inclinations; besides which they only considered the guilt of original sin as its third essential feature, and in opposition to the Romish church they ascribed this sin to the mother of Jesus. (Callixtus is an exception to the preceding remark. He considered the image of God, as something superadded, a supernatural gift, and asserted that from the fall there resulted a privation of original righteousness, but no positive corruption of the powers of man ; that man however is now given up to his natural dispositions. He therefore denied the positive part of the doctrine of the church). Modern theologians, on the contrary, who have followed the standards of the church, have yet deviated from them on this subject, in the following points. First, they have not admitted the idea, that human reason is corrupted in the discernment of good, but barely that there is an undue (abnorme) preponderance of the animal inclinations, or of the animal susceptibilities above the reason. So Michaelis, Morus, Storr, Reinhard, etc. Secondly, they have not agreed with the older theologians, (such as Gerhard, Vol. II. p. 155), in explaining this undue preponderance of the sensual excitability as a punishment for the first sin of Adam, nor moreover, as a consequence of this first transgression alone; but have asserted that this transgression is only the first beginning ; but the preponderance of the animal inclinations has been gradually occasioned by the sins which have perpetually succeeded that oft Adam. Thirdly, they have therefore added the position, that this moral corruption has no fixed limits assigned to its quantity, and is not the same in different subjects, but is susceptible of increase and diminution;” and by Christianity will be more and more diminished." Christianity brings men back into (their normal state;) the state in which they should be ; that of moral freedom, or the dominion of the true, the good and the beautiful. Others, on the contrary, have rejected this doctrine of the church, and have denied that man is in a state of corruption, which did not originally belong to him, but which has been subsequently added to him. They have admitted nothing, but a vitiosity, a tendency to sin, which is natural to man, which is . and which is dependent on the inevitably earlier development, and therefore the greater cultivation and activity of the sensual part of our nature. They regard this as a limitation not to be separated from human nature, and itself not punishable. Doederlein, p. 48, however, will yet allow, that the incidental faulty conditions of temperament can be propagated by generation. The radical evil' which Kant supposes to exist in human nature, comes back also to this same idea. He places this evil, first, in the weakness of the human heart, as to following the moral principles it has received; secondly, in the insincerity of the heart, in obeying commands of
* Were est peccatum, damnans et afferens nunc quoque aeternam mortem his, quinon renascuntur per baptismum et Spiritum Sanctum. A. C. II.
* Natura filii irae, mortis et damnationis mancipia. F. C. I. p. 641.
duty not from pure moral considerations, but from the incitements of selfishness; and thirdly, in the hostility to good (or in badness), in the arbitrariness in reference to principles, by which the moral motives to an act are treated as subordinate to those which are not moral.
As to the biblical idea of original sin, the passage in Gen. iii. contains not the slightest notice of such a sin as commencing at the fall of man; and Gen. 8: 21. Ps. 58; 3. Isa. 48; 8. Eccl. 7:20. Prov. 20.9. Job 14:4. 1 Kings 8: 46, speak only of the historical matter of fact, (which the New Testament also acknowledges in John 1: 8–10. Gal. 3: 22. Rom. ii. and iii.), that no man is without sin, and that the tendency to sin develops itself at an early period. On the other hand, Paul teaches, Rom. 7: 14 seq., more definitely, that the sensual part of our nature has a preponderance over the .# and he derives this and the consequent sins of the human race, as also the origin of death, Rom. 7: 14 seq., from the offence of Adam. He holds this preponderance to be punishable; see Eph. 2. 3. He does not however express himself definitely on the nature of this connection between Adam and his posterity.” Entwick. § 94.
NOTE 1, p. 441.
Perhaps no writer has more fully, as well as intelligently, believed in “the universal corruption of human nature,” than Dr. Bellamy; and yet how far he was from believing that this corruption is inconsistent with “an unweakened power of choice,” may be seen in his Works Vol. 1. pp. 148, 149. The remarks there made, if made in these days of uncandid dispute, would be condemned by some as Semi-Pelagian ; and yet they received the explicit sanction of President Edwards, and were generally supposed, until the recent prevalence of a controversial spirit, to represent the standard doctrine of New England. It is obvious, from several of the remarks of Ullmann on the subject of natural ability, that his views are not so definite as those which have, since the days of Edwards, been current in New England. The same criticism may be made on the representations, which other foreign authors have given of the same doctrine. It is not true, that they have derived all their knowledge of the doctrine from American divines. The distinction between that which is, in the strict use of language, an ability to do right, and that which, in the words of Robert Hall, “may without absurdity be called an inability,” was by no means discovered in the last century, and in this corner of the world. Like every other fundamental truth, it has always been assumed by those who have written on moral agency; assumed tacitly even when denied openly. It has been intimated in the current maxims, Ejus est velle, qui potest nolle; Consentire non potest, cum nec dissentire possit. Many of our old theological writers came so near stating the doctrine with precision, that the reader is now startled, at their standing so long on the threshold, without opening the door. Remarkably clear expositions, however, are given of this truth in the works of John Howe, Richard Baxter, and Jeremy Taylor. For the mode in which the latter alludes to it, see Sermons, Vol. i. pp. 137, 138, 191, 399 et al. In some passages he has anticipated some of the identical phraseology of Edwards.
“The earliest regular treatise on this subject,” says Robert Hall, “it has been my lot to meet with, was the production of Mr. Truman, an eminent non-conformist divine. In his Dissertation on Moral Impotence, as he styles it, he has anticipated the most important arguments of succeeding writers, and has evinced throughout a most masterly acquaintance with his subject. This work is mentioned in terms of high respect by Nelson, in his Life of Bishop Bull, who remarks that his thoughts were original, and that he had hit upon a mode of defending Calvinism, against the objections of Bull and others, peculiar to himself. His claim to perfect originality, however, was not so well founded as Nelson supposed.” Hall's Works, Am. Ed. Vol. II. p. 450.
It may appear to some a matter of surprise, that New England men, whose tendencies are practical rather than speculative, should have been so successful in elucidating this article of our creed. It is to be considered, however, that the doctrine is one which harmonizes with the peculiar habitudes of the American mind. It is not to be learned from literary research, but from common sense. It is to be learned from practical life. Our divines have aimed at the immediate conversion of their hearers; this doctrine harmonizes with that design; it would be discovered more readily by a mind which was in a state congenial with it, than by any other. Its effect too, when first distinctly developed, was marked; and by its beneficial influence on the character and results of New England preaching, it has been perhaps more diligently studied by New England divines, than by men more exclusively speculative.
NOTE K, pp. 451,449, 393.
The explanation that some commentators give of John 14:6, “I am the true guide to eternal life,” Ullmann would condemn as jejune. He often uses, in this treatise and elsewhere, the expression Christ is the Truth, as denoting that “the word of God did not come to him from without, by occasional impulses, but that this word constantly dwelt in him, and went forth from him, without his receiving at peculiar times peculiar inspiration; that he not merely . the truth by his words, but exhibited it also in his acts; that every deed of his was a doctrine, and every doctrine a God-like deed; that his whole life was one great, connected, divine act, in which worldredeeming love was always identical with world-redeeming truth. See Ullmann's Aphorisms, in Stud. und. Krit. Vol. VIII. pp. 598–602. “The word “truth' stands opposed not only to falsehood, but likewise to vanity. In the profound view of John, truth is one with essence; the opposite of that which is not real, which is empty, destitute of the divine nature. This is the character of the sinful world, (Rom. 8:20). The truth, on the contrary, is God himself, and his Logos, John 14:6. He has it not, as something existing in idea with him, as something possessed by him; but he is it, itself, in his own nature. The communication of truth, therefore, by the Logos is not the communication of certain correct ideas, but it is the communication of a nature, of the principle of all truth; it is the communion of the Spirit. On this account it is, as Seyffarth (p. 96) with entire correctness, declares, that the saints, who are born of God, are said by John to be sanctified by the truth,” John 17:19. In the style of John, therefore, oft dājösta, (with the article), is to be distinguished from dosta (without it), see John 8: 44. Some degree of truth is possessed even by the unsanctified. Only of the devil is it said, “truth is not in him.’ But the absolute Truth is only the Eternal.” Olshausen, Comm. on N. T. Vol. II. p. 52.
It is, perhaps, unnecessary to introduce so much that borders on mysticism into the interpretation of the phrase, Christ is the truth. As he brought life and immortality to light; as his instructions were peculiarly comprehensive, definite, and tangible; as he continues to illuminate the minds of men; as he is the object to which a great part of revelation pertains; and as, in his capacity of the revealer and at the same time the object of truth, he merits the implicit confidence of all, he may, by a union of various figures of speech, be called the truth itself. On the same principle, though with far less propriety, we call a wise man wisdom; and a foolish man, folly, etc. So Christ is called the way, the life, the resurrection, etc.