Sivut kuvina

learning, and the holiness of his life. He was particularly distinguished for his liberal and catholic feelings, living as he did in an age of bigotry and fanaticism, and when religious parties in England had been exasperated against each other by a long series of mutual injuries. His Liberty of Prophecying' was one of the earliest books, in which the principles of toleration were stated and defended. I have lately been looking into his writings on the subject of Original Sin, and have thought that the readers of the Disciple night be gratified by the following extract, in which he espresses, in the strong language of unperverted feeling, the common sentiments of human nature respecting this doctrine.

“There are one sort of Calvin's scholars, whom we for distinction's sake call Supralapsarians, who are so fierce in their sentences of predestination and reprobation, that they say God looked upon mankind, only, as his creation, and his slaves, over whom he having absolute power, was very gracious that he was pleased 10 iake some few, and save them absolutely; and to the other greater part he did no wrong, though he was pleased to damn them eternally, only because he pleased; for ihey were his own; and Qui jure suo utitur, nemini facit in, juriam, says the law of reason ; every one may do what he pleases with his own. But ibis bloody and horrible opinion is held but by a few; as tending directly to the dishonor of God, charging on him alone, that he is the cause of men's sins on earth, and of men's eternal torments in bell ; it makes God to be powerful, but his power not to be good; it makes him more cruel to men, than good men can be to dogs and sheep; it makes him give the final sentence of hell without any pretence or colour of justice; it represents him to be that which all the world must naturally fear, and naturally hale, as being a God delighting in the death of innocents; for so they are when he resolves to damn them: and then most tyrannically cruel and unreasonable ; for it says, that to make a postgate pretence to justice, he decrees that men inevitably shall sin, that they may inevitably but justly be damned ; like the Roman Lictors, who, because they could not put to death Sejanus's dangbters, as being virgins, defloured them after sentence, that by ibat barbarity they might be capable of the utmost cruelly ; it makes God to be all that for which any other thing or person is or can be hated; for it makes bini neither to be good, nor just, nor reasonable ; but a mighty enemy to the biggest part of mankind; it makes bim to hate what himself hath made, and to punish that in another which in himself he decreed should not be avoided; it charges the wisdom of God with folly as having

no means to glorify his justice, but by doing unjustly, by bringing in that which himself hates, that he might do what himself loves; doing as Tiberius did 10 Brutus and Nero the sons of Germanicus; Varia fraude induxit ut concitarentur ad convitia, el concitati perderentur; provoking them to rail, that he might punish their reproachings. This opinion reproaches the words of the Spirit of Scripture ; it charges God with hypocrisy and want of mercy, making him a Falber of cruelties and not of mercy. * * * * * * * * So that I think, that the Atheists, who deny that there is a God, do not so impiously against God, as they that charge hin with foul appellatives, or maintain such sentences, which if they were true, God could not be true.

“ But because these men even to their brethren seem to speak evil things of God, therefore, the more wary and temperate of the Calvinists bring down the order of reprobation lower;" affirming that God looked upon all mankind in Adam, as fallen into his displeasure, baied by God, truly guilty of his sin, liable to eternal damnation, and they being all equally condemned, he was pleased to separate some, the smaller number far, and irresistibly bring them 10 Heaven; but the far greater number he passed over, leaving them to be damned for the sin of Adam ; and so they think they solve God's justice; and this was the design and device of the Synod of Dori.”

Taylor then proceeds to state the account of original sin given by the famous Westminster Assembly, which we shall quote at lengih hereafter, and then observes:

“This device of our Presbyterians and of the Synod of Dort is but an artiñce to save their proposition harmless, and to stop the out-cries of scripture and reason, and of all the world against them. But this way of stating the article of reprobation is as horrid in effect as the other. For,

Is it by a natural consequent that we are guilty of Adam's sin, or is it by the decree ot God? Naturally it cannot be, for then the sins of all our forefathers, who are to their posterity the same that Adam was to his, must be ours; and pot only Adam's first sin, but bis others are ours on the same account. But if it be by the decree of God, by his choice and constitution, that it shall be so, as Mr, Calvin and Dr. Twisse (that I inay name no more for that side) do expressly teach, it follows, that God is lhe anthor of our sin; so that I may use Mr. Calvin's words ; « How is it that so many nations with their children should be involved in the fall without remedy, but, because God would have it so ?" And if that be the matter, then to God, as to the cause, inust that sin and that damnation be accounted.

And let this then be considered, whether this be not as bad as the worst; for the Supralapsarians say, God did decree ihat the greatest parf should perish, only because he would ; the Subiapsarians say,that God made it by his decree necessary, that all we who were born of Adam should be born guilty of original sin, and he it was who decreed to damn whom he pleased for that sin, in whirl he decreed they should be born; agd both these he did for no other consideration than because he would. Is it not therefore evident that he absolutely decreed damnation to these persons ? For he that decrees the end, and be that decrees ihe only necessary and effective means to the end, and decrees that it shall be the end of that means, does decree absolutely alike, though by several dispensations ; and then all the evil consequents which I reckoned before to be the monstrous productions of the first way, are all daughters of the other, and if Solomon were here, he could not tell which were the truer mother:

Now that the case is equal between thein, some of their own chiefest do confess ; so Dr. Twisse. If God may ordain men to bell for Adam's sin, which is derived unto them loy God's only constitution, he way as well do it absoluiely without any such constitutions. The same also in affirmed by Macrovius and by Mr. Calvin ; and the reason is plain; for he that does a thing for reason which himself makes, may as well do it wiihout a reason, or he may make his own will to be the reason, because the thing, and the motive of the thing, come in both cases equally from the saune principle, and from that alone.

* . * Now if the doctrine of absolute reprobation be so horrid, so intolerable a proposition, 40 unjust and bla-phemous to God, so injurious and cruel 10 men, and that there is no colour or pretence to justify il, bai bý pretending our guilt of Adam's sin, and damnation to be the punishment, then, because from truth nothing but truth can issue, that musi needs be a lie from which such horrid consequences do proceed.

* * * But if all these fearful consequences, which reason and religion so much abhor, do so certainly follow from such doctrines of reprobation, and these doctrines wholly rely upon this pretence, it follows, that the pretence is infinitely false and intolerable; and that (so far as we understand the rules and measures of justice) it cannot be just for God to damn us for being in a state of calamity, to which state we entered no way but by his constitution and decree.

The doctrine of original sin, as stated id the Westminster Asseinbly's Larger Catechism, is as follows:

“Question. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell ?

Answer. The sinfulness of tbat estate whereinto man fell, consisleih in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness, wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is uiterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually, which is commonly called Original Sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.


Question. What misery did the fall bring apon mankind ?

Answer. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, bis displeasure and curse, so as we are by pature children of wrath, bond-slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world and in that which is to


Question. What are the punishments of sin in this world ?

Answer. The punishinents of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of beart, borror of conscience, and vile affections, or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils wbich befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments, together with death itself.

Question. What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?

Answer. The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body without intermission, in hell-fire forever."

With these statements the following are to be connected which are found in the Confession. C. ii.

“ By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.

“These angels and men thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite, ibat it cannot be either increased or diminished.

“ Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and New Series-vol.l.


good pleasure of his will, bath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his own free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes, moving him thereunto, and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

* “The rest of mapkind God was pleased, according to the unsearcbable counsel of his own will, whereby be extendeih or withholdeth mercy, as be pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.”

The Westminster Assembly's Confession and Catechisios are the standards of doctrine publickly received by the Presbyterian Churches in America. The professors of the Theological Seminary at Princeton, wbich is under the pa. tronage of the General Assembly, are obliged to swear, “not to inculcate, teach, or insinuate any thing which sball appear (to the person taking the oath) to contradict or contravene, either directly or indirectly, any thing taught in said Confession of Faith or Catechisms.” Alihe Theological Seminary under the care of Dr. Mason, the student is, or was, required to commit to memory the whole text of the Confession of Faith and Larger Catechism.


REPENTANCE and CONVERSION were the frequent subjects of exhortation with the ancient prophets, with Jobn the Baptist, with Jesus and biş A postles. They urged these duties with the earnestness which their importance demanded. Every faithful preacher of truth and virtue since their time has not failed to repeat the emphatical exhortations of the scriptures to men to repent and be converted. While mankind remain what they are, repentance and conversion are among the first duties which they should perform. With many persons a radical change of moral character must take place before they can enter into the kingdom of God.

This subject should be understood. There are mistakes prevailing in some minds in regard to it, which are of a perni. cious tendency. The object of this Essay is to offer some

« EdellinenJatka »