« VorigeDoorgaan »
sive sense, or to the full penalty of sin, came upon all men ;-not, indeed, the actual endurance of death in this sense, because the dispensation of mercy, which immediately succeeded the fall, virtually abrogated that part of the curse which stretched into eternity, by suspending the everlasting condition of men on their acceptance or rejection of mercy, one should, I repeat, have expected him to mean this: and, accordingly, in Excursus the fourth, he admits that the " τυπος of the apostle may have respect to the highest penalty on the one hand, and the highest blessings on the other;" only, he adds, it must be understood, when thus extended, not of penalty in the higher sense as actually inflicted, nor of blessings in the higher sense as actually bestowed, but of exposedness to the penalty, on the one hand, and exposedness to blessings, on the other." (Page 513.) And yet, though his premises oblige him to admit that the disobedience of Adam, (i. e., of itself, and viewing it as it should be viewed, unconnected with the subsequent dispensation of mercy) brought exposedness to death, in its highest sense, upon all men; and though he further actually admits, in the passage just quoted, that it did bring this exposedness to death upon all men, he yet, with great self-inconsistency, as it appears to me, denies, p. 222, that all men are directly exposed to death in this sense by Adam; and affirms that, in the ultimate and highest sense of death, they are only directly exposed to it by their own acts. The argument by which he attempts to sustain this latter denial and affirmation, appears to me singularly illogical; and to be such altogether as nothing but the difficulty of maintaining a false position could have drawn from such a reasoner as Mr. Stuart. "It needs no more," he says, "be maintained that all are equally exposed to 0ávaros in its fullest, highest, and most awful sense, without any act of their own, than that all men partake of the xápioμa of Christ, in its highest sense, without any act of their own," &c. Partake of the xápioμa of Christ! Is that the proper opposite of exposure to death by Adam? Mr. Stuart should have shown that Christ did not bring the possibility of life to all men without any act of their own-or, in his own phraseology-exposure to life. "To say," he continues, “that οι πολλοὶ απέθανον δια Αδάμ, is not to say that all have the sentence executed on them in its highest sense." Clearly not. sentence a man to death is not to hang him. But who ever supposed the two things to be identical? Admitting, as Mr. Stuart does, that all die in Adam, he should have shown, to sustain his principles, not that the sentence in its highest sense is not inflicted upon all-which no one believes-but that all did not become exposed with Adam to death, in the fullest sense, as far as they were capable of enduring it. Mr. Stuart, as well as a very recent writer, fails, as I cannot but think, to make the necessary distinction between what the cup of threatening, put into the hand of Adam, contained, and what it actually poured out upon the race; or between what man, by the original curse, was exposed to, and what he actually endures, in consequence of it. The interposition of mercy took the bitterest ingredient out of the cup. The Saviour having died, no man will suffer eternal death on account of Adam's sin.
I dare not, however, add with Messrs. Stuart and Gilbert-I cannot but think it very unwise to take that line of argument that it would have been essentially unjust to subject the race, through the one offence, to a legal exposure to it.
Mr. Stuart has been charged by some of his own countrymen, with professedly denying the imputation of Adam's sin to the race, while he substantially admits it.
Let us see what foundation there is, or if any, for this charge. I be gin by referring to a few passages in which he seems virtually to acknow ledge what he subsequently rejects. Remarking upon Romans v. 12, he says, "Now while this asserts the fact that all have become sinners, and have come under condemnation, it does also intimate by implication, that the whole of what has come upon men, stands connected with the introduction by Adam of sin and death into the world. I cannot therefore agree with those commentators who find in this verse no intimation of such a connexion of all men with Adam." (P. 208.) In this way, we see, quite plainly, that Adam was a ruπos of Christ, because what he did affected the whole of the human race, to a certain extent, even without any concurrence or act of their own." (P. 220.) "If Oávaros means evil of any kind, in this world and in the next, then it is true that Adam did, by his offence, cause Bávaros to come on all without exception, inasmuch as all his race are born destitute of holiness, and in such a state that their passions will, whenever they become moral agents, lead them to sin. All, too, are the heirs of more or less suffering. It is true, then, that all suffer on Adam's account; that all are brought under more or less of the sentence of death; that οἱ πολλοὶ ἀπέθανον.” (P. 222.) "But still you admit," stating the language of an objector, "that the whole human race became degenerate and degraded, in consequence of the act of Adam." "I do so," replies Mr. Stuart. I fully believe it. I reject all the attempts to explain away this. I go further; I admit not only the loss of an original state of righteousness to all, in consequence of Adam's first sin, but that temporal evils and death have come, of course, on all by means of it. I admit that all are born in such a state that it is now certain they will be sinners as soon as they are moral agents, and that they will never be holy until they are regenerated," &c. (P. 235.) Again, anticipating an objection that, admitting all this, he cannot consistently deny that the sin of Adam is imputed to the race, i. e., that they endure the consequence or the punishment of it, Mr. Stuart says " That I have admitted thus much, in regard to the present world, and sufferings in our present state, and also the moral degradation of our nature, in consequence of Adam's fall, I readily concede; I do fully believe all this; but this is, after all, something very different from proper punishment." (P. 521.) Why, whoever dreams, we are constrained to ask Mr. Stuart, of conceiving it as proper punishment, any more than that the enjoyment, by believers, of the consequences of the work of Christ is to them proper reward? All this is aside from the point. The question is not whether it is proper PUNISHMENT to the race, but whether the race suffering these consequences of Adam's fall-were not legally exposed to suffer them,
in consequence of a previous constitution, which determined that the permanent condition of the oi rooi should depend upon the conduct of their progenitor. In the ardour of his zeal to show that the loss of original righteousness, exposure to sufferings, &c., are not proper punishment, he actually takes the ground-not professedly, of course, yet really, or his argument is invalid-that the fall was a blessing; because we are now, he states, "notwithstanding the numerous and dreadful evils occasioned by the fall, under a far more favourable dispensation, in respect to an opportunity for making sure of our final happiness, than we should have been by being placed in the original condition of Adam." (P. 512.) Now, supposing this to be true, did the fall bring us into this favourable situation, or the succeeding dispensation of mercy? Surely the loss of original righteousness can never be any thing but an evil; and it is an evil, let it be observed, directly accruing to the race, by Mr. Stuart's own acknowledgment, in consequence of Adam's transgression.
Now, what is this but the imputation of Adam's sin to the race, in consequence of a Divine constitution that he, and they, should be treated as if they were one? Destitution of original righteousness, in the case of the race, is the result of the withholding of that special influence of the Holy Spirit which is the original source and sustainer of every thing spiritually good in the human mind. Mr. Stuart admits that the race lost this righteousness (i. e., that the race would otherwise have had it) by the one offence; i. e., God judicially withholds from the race, what he judicially withdrew from the head of the race (viz., sovereign influence ;) in other words, he treats the race as he treated its head; or, which is, in fact, the same thing, the sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity.
But no, Mr. Stuart will not allow this: "Adam's first sin was connected with the sin and consequent condemnation of the race," he admits; nay, that "it was, in some sense or other, a preparatory or occasional cause :" but we must not suppose that it was imputed to us, or that we are obnoxious to punishment on account of it. All this is, to me, very unaccountable. We suffer the consequences of Adam's sin, but the sin is not imputed to us! How, then, do we come to suffer its consequences ? Is not this suffering of its consequences the very imputation which is denied? What does Mr. Stuart understand by imputation? Does he conceive it to mean impartation, or implantation ? What does he intend by saying that Adam's sin was an occasional cause of our sin? That it might be, on his principles, a secondary or occasional cause of the future misery of man, by deteriorating his moral condition, and so exposing him to more imminent peril of losing eternal life, I admit; but what idea can be attached to the statement that it was the occasional or secondary cause of this deteriorated condition itself? Surely the native want of original righteousness had the one transgression for its direct, its exclusive cause (i. e., the sin of Adam was imputed to the race ;) since the nonexertion of Divine influence, which would have given moral integrity to the minds of the race, as it did to the mind of Adam, cannot, without the grossest abuse of terms, be regarded as its cause.
Some of Mr. Stuart's mistakes and contradictions, as I cannot but deem them, have been recently very severely animadverted upon, by Robert Haldane, Esq., of Edinburgh, in his commentary upon the first five chapters of the epistle to the Romans. This work contains some admirable expositions of evangelical truth, (blended with other statements which appear to me very objectionable,) and it well deserves the attention of all whose minds have been brought into contact with that of the American philologist: yet it admits of serious doubt whether it is adapted to effect the good at which, no doubt, its author aimed. There is, very unfortunately, an apparent air of dogmatism about all Mr. Haldane's writings-a seeming consciousness of something like infallibility-a somewhat unceremonious mode of putting an opponent out of the way, by telling him, in tolerably plain terms, that he is wrong, and Mr. H. himself right, which appears to me any thing but adapted to convince and persuade. These faults have not less than their usual prominence in this work. He asserts where, as many will think, he should reason, and rebukes where he should caution; and, though it must be admitted that many of his statements demand, as well as deserve, the most serious attention of Mr. Stuart, and of all who may be disposed to adopt the theological views of that writer, yet it is much to be feared that his confident assertions, his unsparing censures, his fierce denunciations of Mr. Stuart as a heretic of not less black a hue than "those who troubled the churches of Galatia, whom Paul wished to be cut off," his uncalled-for appropriation of the insane censure of Carson, that Mr. Stuart's works are more dangerous among Christians than the works of Priestley, it is really to be apprehended that these and other blemishes will destroy the influence of the book upon the persons it was intended to benefit, unless, perchance, they should have more of the meek, and patient, and gentle spirit of our holy religion,—more of tender, as well as holy love, blended with fidelity, than is possibly to be found in the bosom of their assailant himself.
Mr. Haldane's views of the nature of the connexion between Adam and the whole of the race harmonize neither with those of Mr. Stuart, nor with those which have been presented in the previous part of this volume. Mr. H. seems perfectly sure that he is right; he writes as if he could not be mistaken; as if his conception of the vinculum existing between the one offence, and our endurance of the consequence of that offence, constituted an integral part of Divine revelation; so that hesitation to admit the justness of that conception is, in fact, the rejection of the Divine testimony. I must be permitted to doubt whether this manner of defending even the truth is best adapted to promote the interests of truth. But still the important question is, Are the conceptions of Mr. H. in reference to the vinculum correct, or in harmony with Divine revelation? Let us see, first, what they are. The prevail ing sentiment among Calvinistic divines, at least as far as I have been able to ascertain it, is, that a connexion was established by God, between Adam and the race, of such a nature as that the latter were to share with him in the consequences of that act, on his abstinence
from which his permanent standing in holiness and happiness was suspended. As the result of this connexion, it would necessarily happen that, when he fell, the race would be treated, as far as it was possible, as he, the head of the race, was treated; i. e., his sin would be imputed to them, or, in other words, its consequences would reach to them. But does this satisfy Mr. Haldane? By no means. He maintains that the sin of Adam was as really and truly theirs as it was the sin of Adam himself; that every believer is bound to acknowledge, and confess, that he is guilty of Adam's sin; and, lest any one should suppose that by guilty he merely means legally exposed to the consequences of that sin, he tells us, in effect, that this guilt is previous to the legal exposure and imputation, and is, in fact, the foundation of the imputation. Adam's sin, he says, "is imputed to his posterity because it is their sin in reality, though we may not be able to see the way in which it is so." (P. 440.)
Now, as far as I can understand all this,-which it is, perhaps, impossible to do, without the opportunity of putting some such questions as the following to Mr. Haldane-" What do you mean by being guilty of Adam's sin ?" " or, by his sin being ours in reality?"-questions not unnecessary, since the term " guilty" has more senses than one, and sin may be ours in more senses than one, the writer appears to mean that we actually and literally committed the sin of Adam, or ate the forbidden fruit, and deserve punishment on account of this our own act! and Mr. Haldane requires us to believe this, "as little children, on the authority of God." Now, I hope I can honestly say, I would do this, were I persuaded that it rested on the authority of God; but the question with me is, "Is it based on Divine authority, or has Mr. Haldane taught for doctrines' the explanation of a man?" It is to Scripture that my conscience is to be subject, and not to the conception which any man may form of its meaning. The Scriptures really say that by Adam "sin entered into the world,"-that many have died "through his offence,”—that "the judgment was by him to condemnation,”—that by his "disobedience many were made sinners," &c. &c.; and Mr. Haldane THINKS that these declarations mean that we actually ate the forbidden fruit, (i. e., if I have not misconceived him,) and deserve to suffer punishment on that account. Others, again, with myself, exercising the powers which God has given to us, consider the meaning of the declarations to be, that all men were constituted sinners in the sense of legal exposure to the consequences of Adam's sin. Now, why may not we, as properly as Mr. Haldane, require others, and him among the rest, to receive our conceptions of the meaning of the inspired word, "as little children, on the authority of God ?" If he can show any right to do this, we can possibly produce an equal right. The fact, however, is, that the right is possessed by neither party. We are all bound to form our own conceptions of the meaning of God's record. We act properly in presenting them to the minds of others,-in urging them, by all rational means, upon the acceptance of others; but what is it but Popery, in the Protestant camp, (where, by the way, it is too frequently found,) to call upon them to admit these conceptions, on the authority of God, as the undoubted meaning of the Holy Spirit?