« PreviousContinue »
the total depravity of all mankind. The fear of the
you, the hour is coming, and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” This is a resurrection from spiritual death, and is the same as regeneration. Christ, in his ministry, and especially in his reproof of his opposers, taught the doctrine of total depravity. “I know you, that
ye have not the love of God in you : for whom he bath sent, him ye receive not.”
Had natural men a spark of holiness, they would certainly receive the blessed Saviour with joy. If all men have a principle of love to God in their hearts, how is it possible to account for the most outrageous persecution and murder of the Lord of glory. How can we account for the rise and reign of Antichrist and for the horrid and unprovoked martyrdom of millions of the meek and amiable followers of Jesus Christ? How could the time ever come, in the Christian era, when whosoever killed the Apostles and followers of Christ, should think he did God service? Could any thing short of total depravity, produce such awful and horrid effects as these ? Certainly nothing.
Again; From the necessity of regeneration, we clearly infer the doctrine of total depravity: . “ Except a man be born again,” says the Saviour," he cannot see the kingdom of God.” But elsewhere he teaches distinctly and abundantly, that every one who possessed and ex. pressed the smallest token of love to him, should be saved. He that should give a cup of cold water to a disciple only, because he belonged to him, should in no wise lose his reward. And every one who should forsake houses or brethren or sisters that is to
who should manifest the least degree of self-denial for his sake, “ should receive an hundred fold in this present world, and in the world to come, life everlasting." The inference is plain and obvious, that in order to possess the least degree of love to Christ, or the least degree of holiness, a man must be born again. “ That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” Man, therefore, as he is originally horn, is wholly carnal, and sinful. “I know, that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing" Every man, in his natural state, as he proceeds from the first parents of our race, is alienated from God, totally corrupt, and spiritually dead. “When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.'
As to the state and condition of mankind, in consequence of their apostacy from God, it is beyond conception woeful. It is a state of guilt and condemnation, a state of sorrow and distress. “ The fall brought man. kind into a state of sin and misery.” “ All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and the pains of hell forever.” Thus woeful is the state and condition of the human race, in consequence of the universal reign of sin. Sin bath, indeed, reigned unto death. 66 The wages of sin is death." Had there been no revelation of divine grace, in favor of lost man, his condition must, immediately, have been as hopeless as that of the fallen angels. For he was equally involved in guilt; and was without ex
an che atly 2X be
case. He could make no atonement for one of his transgressions, nor could he be persuaded, by all possible motives, to forsake his sins, even if by so doing he could inherit eternal life. Woeful is the character and condition of fallen man !
CONNECTED with the doctrine of the total depravity of our first parents, even in their first transgression; and of the total depravity of all their posterity; we are now to consider the particular doctrine of original sin. Respecting this doctrine, we meet with some diversity of opinion, even among those who admit the total and universal depravity of man. Some have entertained the absurd and antiscriptural idea, that all the posterity of Adan, are somehow made guilty of his first sin--that they sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression--that, if there was not a transfer of the personal act of cating the forbidden fruit; yet there was a transfer of the guilt that he incurred by that act. This however, does not seem to comport with scripture nor common sense. The plain testimony of scripture is, “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the rightcous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Such is also the language of reason and common sense. Personal acts, and moral character are not transferable from one to another. Neither the sin nor the righteousness of one can become the sin or the righteousness of another.
Again ; Others have supposed, that but one single sin can properly be called original sin; and that is the sin of
our first parents, in eating the forbidden fruit. This is said to be, literally and strictly speaking, the original transgression ; and the fruitful source of all subsequent sins and abominations. It is indeed true, that eating the forbidden fruit was the first and original sin of the human race; and, according to the divine constitution, rather than by any necessity in the nature of the case, this first sin of Adam involved his posterity in a state of sin and ruin. “Through the offence of one, many are dead;" yea, all are dead in trespasses and sins. Adam was doubtless placed as a public head, or representative of all his posterity; so that the fate of the whole was suspended on his conduct. Probably he was apprised of his high responsibility, and had placed before him the greatest and most powerful motives to obedience, and perseverance, even to the end of his special probation. constituting Adam the public head of his posterity," says an eminent writer, God suspended their holiness and sinfulness upon his conduct.' So that his holiness would, constitutionally, render them holy; and his sinfulness would, constitutionally, render them unholy, or depraved." Accordingly it is written, “By one man's disobedience, many were made, or constituted, sinners, The word, made, ought to have been translated, constituted. And, in the present view of the subject, original sin consisted in Adam's first sin. This was the bitter root, froin whence have proceeded the sin and depravity of the whole family of man. On this point there ought to be no controversy ; nor the least diversity of opinion.
But there is another view of this very interesting subject, which equally claims our attention. We find, that many writers on what is called original sin, and perhaps the greater part of orthodox Christians hold, that original sin consists in that sinfulness and depravity of nature, which constitute the original character and condition of all the posterity of fallen Adam.“ By original sin," says President Edwards, as the phrase has been most commonly used by divines, is meant the innate sinful depravity of the heart." “ The corruption of the whole nature." say the assembly of divines," is commonly called original
iis is Final
g the zman Ether first and
WAS ce of
SUS his Featrse. By
ess ess sin
01 Lu's PIS
sin.” If the innate, sinful depravity of the heart, according to President Edwards, or the corruption of the whole nature, according to the assembly of divines, implies, in particular, that this is the character of mankind, from their infancy, and even from the very moment, when they first breathe the breath of life, and commence a moral existence; then we fully concur with them in opinion. The definitions are correct. The cominencement of innate sinfulness of heart, or of the corruption of the whole nature, being from the first dawn of existence, renders it
to call this sinful state of mankind original sin. The state of Adam's posterity is different however, from his own state, as respects original sin. Adam's original was holy; but, respecting his posterity, it is declared justly and emphatically, by the Poet,
“ All their original is shame,
" And all their nature sin." This, whether it be most properly termed original sin or not, is the very point, which is before us; and which is now to be proved.
1. That all mankind are, in fact, and from their birth, possessed of a sinful nature and character, in consequence of the apostacy, is evident from various passages of scripture. It is said plainly, that “ The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” Not meaning that they literally speak, as soon as they are born ; but, that their innate, original character is of the nature of falsehood. As soon as they are able to speak intelligently, they are given to lying and deceit. That this is inherent in their very nature, appears from the next words : “ Their poison is as the poison of a serpent.” Whether we are to suppose, that sinfulness is propagated from father to son, by natural generation, or not, is unessential, in the present argument. This probably, is not the case. For if it were so, in the nature of things ; then christians would propagate christians; which does not appear from scripture, nor from observation. By the strong expressions, .“ Their poison is as the poison of a serpent," is doubtless