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of which we have to treat. It is easy to decide what the son of Sirac and Philo, what Pelagius and Augustin meant; but when we approach the sacred records, we are inmediately engaged in interpreting the decision of those, whom all acknowledge to be authorized arbiters. But for the very reason that they have been so much appealed to, we cannot pass them over: and the few words which we have to offer, we shall advance the more confidently, as it is far from our intention to dogmatize. The doctrine of the New Testament certainly is, that we are frail beings, and prone to offend ; that no one is or can be absolutely perfect; but still, that the sins of each individual arise from his own beart, from the abuse of his free-will, and are therefore on his own head. Direct references to the subject of the first transgression are not very frequent. There is a passage in the first epistle to Timothy, (ii. 13, 14, 15) relating to the seduction of Eve; but it has no doctrinal bearing, and contains not so much an argument, as an illustration in the Jewish manner. Besides this, there are three conspicuous texts, that are often quoted and require particular notice. The first is in John, viii, 44; and presents us with the declaration of our Lord himself : «
ye are of your father the devil, and he was a murderer from the beginning.” But if we consider the occasion on which it was spoken, to those who sought his life; we may conclude that he had not in his mind the introduction of death by sin, which would have been irrelevant, but the perpetration of the first murder, which was prompted by the most diabolical passions, The second example is in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, xv. 21, 22. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Many understand by this transmitted death, only the inheritance of an eartbly, animal and corruptible frame : and according to the authorities collected by Scbleusner, we might translate the latter clause: as like Adam all die, even so like Christ,* &c. The other passage is in Roinans, v, 12-19. “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” &c. The verses are too mapy to be quoted, and too familiar to our readers to make that necessary. Perhaps it would not be easy to prove any thing more from ihem than this, that sin superadds to bodies previously mortal, another cooperating principle of decay ; both causing preternatural death, and aggravating. dissolution by the sting which it adds to it.f However this inay be, we will offer but one remark :-it is acknowledged even by Mr. Pyle in his Parapbrase, though he believed the universal mortality of mankind
* See Lexicon, art. eg 26.
to be the consequence of “the fall," that the apostle is here reasoning with the Jews upon their own principles ; and that his argument is what logicians call " ad hominem.” In that case, it is evident that nothing can be inferred respecting his own private opinion.
The fathers of the church now begin their order. In the first periods of christianity, there prevailed a diversity of opinion respecting the consequences of Adam's transgression, analogous to that which has already been mentioned concerning his original state. But it was a diversity, that attracted little attention, and stirred up no disputes. Each followed his own convictions with freedom, and in peace. In certain points, however, there was a perfect accordance; and it is remarkable that they were those, which were in direct opposition to the theory, that afterwards gained the ascendency under the name and influence of St. Augustin. The opinions of the fathers on this subject were connected with those, which they entertained of the origin of the soul. The Gnostics, it is well known, held that matter, and of course the human body, was wicked, and the source of all wickedness: and many of the fathers agreed with them, at least so far as to maintain, that since the time of Adam the frame of man was so constituted, as to excite bim perpetually and vehemently to evil. To this cause of corruption, they added the agency of malignant spirits. Still, with respect to every individual, they traced the absolute source of bad deeds to his acknowledged free-will. This was the case with Justin Martyr, though he professes strongly bis faith, that the corruption of mankind is universal. Irenæu, deduces our mortality from Adam's disobedience, and ever advances the position that in bim all have sinned; but he says not a word of any hereditary depravity, and even acknowledges a perpetual freedom in the human will. Clement of Alexandria declares the same with great precision and force : he goes so far as to remonstrate against those interpretations of some passages in Scripture, according to which sin is something born with us, and independent of any volition of ours. Origen supposed, with the Platonists, that our souls had transgressed in a preexistent state, and are imprisoned in these bodies by way of punishment. According to him, the history of the fall is only a description of every man's experience; the transmission of sin is chiefly the result of education; and the animal frame is but an incidental cause of moral evil. In Tertullian, so early as the second century, there appear some hints of original sin; but they are slight, and accompanied by the most express recognition of human freedom. It is now indeed, universally conceded, that all the ancient fathers taught this last great doctrine. Indumerable passages might be selected from Gregory, Eusebius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Basil, Epiphanius, Cyril and John of Jerusalem, and others, in proof that they ascribe to our nature since the fall-great corruption indeed, but great distinctions also, and particularly that of moral freedom. Nay, it is notorious that this was the view of Augustin himself, before the arguments of his opponent forced him to be consistent, and true to bis systein, and he became heated by controversy. If those writers sometimes seem to refer to the imputation of Adam's guilt to his descendants, they probably meant no more than to describe the sad consequences wbicb that event bad produced, particularly in the introduction of death into the world : and even that consequence was denied by Titus, bishop of Bostra ; who, a little before the public appearance of Pelagius, had taught that death was not The effect of sin, but a natural event. We have said thus much on the topic of free will, as held by the early christian writers, because of its extreme importance in the question before us. The doctrine of original sin, if followed out in its true and inevitable bearings, is fatalism. The alternative Augustin was obliged to see, and ventured to brave : but some doubts of his infallibility must have crossed his mind, when he read himself in a former controversy speaking thus : “no man is wise, valiant, or temperate, with the wisdom, valour, or temperance of another, or righteous with the righteousness of another :” nor, by parity of reasoning, the reverse.*
We have now reached a great epoch in the history, which we have undertaken to sketch. In the beginning of the fifth century arose Pelagius, an ingenious, learned and upright monk of Britaio. He, with his friend Caelestius, taught in the boldest and most explicit manner, that mankind are still in the same state, in which Adam was originally placed by his creator ;-that Adam's transgression injured nobody but himself ;-hat no change has taken place in our nature in consequence of the fall ;--that death is po punishment of sin, but like all the other evils of life, entered into the primeval appointment of Providence ;---Ibat in no sense can Adam's offence have been imputed to his posterity ; that there is no such thing as original sin ;-that by our nature we are made capable of knowing, desiring, and executing good or evil ;--and finally, that the opposite opinions contradict the freedom of man, and the righteousness of his Maker. He was assailed by Jerom, and especially by Augustin ; and the following positions were set up against him :--The nature of man, originally good, is through the fall totally depraved, and so descends through all generations : no mau can by nature do good,
* Priestley's History of the Corruptions of Christianity, Part 30 $ 1.
but evil only: this total depravation is a positive judgment of God for Adam's guilt, and visited alike on him and on all his posterity : beside this infliction, there is consequent that of death, and of all our woe: original sin is transmitted by natural descent, and consists in evil desire: children are subjected to it and to its doom, and will be damned if they die before baptism :-this whole doctrine must be received, in order to justify against all objections the work of Christ's redemption. It is certain that on both sides was taught what had never been precisely and systematically taught before ; but we cannot stop to inquire what the steps of the process were. The result of the controversy is declared, when we are told it was between Saint Augustin and Pelagius. The latter was no bishop, and had nothiog to redeem him but his reasoning, which went for nothing, from the opprobrious name of heresiarch. But ecclesiastical history teaches us to value at very little the honours of canonization. They who are acquainted with the lives of Julian and of his opponent Cyril, will find less difference than they might have expected between the apostate and the saint; and that difference on the wrong side.* The theses of Augustin were triumphant in the African and Western churches ; and those of Pelagius were denounced as heretical in several synods, especially at Roine and Carthage, A. D. 418. Still the last bad their defenders, and the victory cost a hard struggle. In the eastero churches, the ideas of the earlier fathers were yet embraced, indefinite and contradictory as they were; and Pelagianism could boast of more adherents than the opposite theory, notwithstanding its condemnation at the council of Ephesus. The truth was, that in the east less attention was given to these controverted points; and they were not thought of consequence enough to be very nicely defined or stoutly contested. proof of this it may be mentioned, that John of Damascus, who in the eighth century described the orthodox belief of the Greek churches before and during his own time, in order to vindicate it against heretics, † scarcely alludes to the doctrine of original sin ; and seems to speculate widely from the bypothesis of of the “divine" bishop of Hippo.
In the midst of his success, Augustin was disturbed by mortifying intelligence from France. Some monks of Marseilles had begun to teach, that God bestows on all men the gifts of understanding and freedom of will; by which they are able to distinguish between good and evil, to choose and commence within themselves the good part, and thus to obtain the aids of
* See Jortin's Remarks, vol. 3d. pp. 10–15., and 106 and 7.
+ De fide orthodoxa, 2, 30. 3, 1.
grace : and they boldly declared the Augustinian tenets to be immoral and profane. The first distinguisbed champion of this party was Cassian, who was followed by Faustus, Vincentius, and Gennadius : and these may be considered as the leaders of the Semipelagian sect. According to them, temporal death is the only consequence of Adam's transgression which is visited on his race: we are saved by grace alone, through the death of Christ and the ordinance of baptism; but still there is first demanded on our part, faith and a good disposition, through which the Almighty will be moved to exalt our faith still higher, and to give it the power to go forth into good works: the loss of faith is dependent as absolutely on our free-will as its commencement is. These midway opinions soon became very popular, though strenuous exertions were made against their progress. They triumphed even in synods; spread themselves not only in France, but over the whole west; and even insinuated themselves under the name of Augustin himself. Tbis last fact is very remarkable, though by no means singular. It is one of many examples to show, how easily any form of words may be bent to what we wish it; how a waster may be nominally followed, while bis doctrines are forsaken ; and how good sense will gradually get the better of a systein, though professed and reverenced still. A philosopher of the Hindoos has lately assured us, that the Vedas, their sacred books, do not inculcate idolatry, but rather teach the unity of God: and there are many Mohammedan doctors, who maintain that there is nothing of fatalism in the Koran.
The Schoolmen almost universally leaned more toward the side of Pelagius than of Augustin ; and though they appealed to the latter, and professed and wished to defend his dogmas, it was no longer the true orthodox faith that they recommended. Original sin they made to consist, now in the want of any preternatural quality, by which our nature might remain wholly uncontaminated; now in a carnality, not in itself wicked, but containing the germ of wickedness ; now in the imputation, not of Adam's sin, but only of his punishment ;---and ibis punisbment, too, the dissolution of the body, not the condemnation of the soul :--and now again they described it as bereditary guilt, but by no means so strongly as Augnstin represented it. Some of them even declared, that man was capable of deserving the aids of divine grace, and with their help of performing meritorious actions.
The era of the Reformation now claims our notice. Luther took so great offence at the catholic notion of meritorious good works, that he again set up the old doctrines of faith alone and the merits of Christ, as the grounds of acceptance ; New Series-vol. I.