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man as to blame, and to be judged and punished only for his deeds. But I forbear, as it cannot be necessary. The subject matter of discourse in these texts is such as demands that we should understand them as not implying or asserting that sin is a part of our nature.
I. FURTHER EXAMINATION OF THE ARGUMENTS ADDUCED IN SUPPORT OF THE POSITION THAT HUMAN NATURE IS IN ITSELF SINFUL.
The defenders of the doctrine of constitutional sinfulness or moral depravity urge as a farther argument,
2. That sin is a universal effect of human nature, and therefore, human nature must be itself sinful.
Answer. This argument proceeds upon the two false assumptions,
1. That an effect must have the same character as its cause. This assumption, that an affect must have the same character with its cause, is a false assumption. God's will caused the material universe but it does not follow that the effect is holy as the will of God is holy. God's intention, which was the cause, is holy. But the effect, the material universe, simply because it is an effect, has no character at all. Nothing that is properly an effect can ever, by any possibility, poossess a moral character. The universe of mind, also, is an effect of tho Divine intention. These minds are not in their substance, and so far as they are effects, holy or sinful. That is, they have in their essence or substance, no moral character whatever, simply because they are effects.
Their moral character is of their own forming. Moral character,universally and necessarily, belongs to intelligent, voluntary cause and never to an effect. All responsible causality resides in free will. Praise or blameworthiness is strictly predicable only of the agent, never strictly of his actions. The agent who causes his own actions is holy or sinful, is praise or blameworthy, for his intentions or actions. It is not the intention or action that is praise or blameworthy, but the cause or agent that acts. When we say that moral character belongs to the intention, we do not mean that it is the intention itself that deserves praise or blame, but that the agent deserves praise or blame only for his intentions. If, then, choice or intention be regarded as an effect of free will, its cause, let it be understood that the effect strictly speaking is neither praise or blameworthy, but that the agent is alone responsible for the choice of which he is the cause. The argument we are examining is this: "Sin is an effect of human nature; therefore human nature is in its essence and substance sinful.”
This statement is false; but state it thus, and it is true: Sin is an attribute of selfish intention; selfish intention is an effect of free responsible will; therefore, the free responsible cause of this effect is blameworthy for this effect, this sin.
2. The second false assumption upon which the argument we are examining is based, is this, namely, that sin as a universal effect of human nature proves that the substance of human nature must be in itself sinful. This is a non sequitur. Sin may be, and must be an abuse of free agency, and this may be accounted for, as we shall see, by ascribing it to the universality of temptation and does not at all imply a sinful constitution. But if sin implies a sinful nature, how did Adam and Eve sin? Had they a sinful nature to account for and to cause their first sin? How did angels sin? Had they also a sinful nature? Either sin does not imply a sinful nature, or a nature in itself sinful, or Adam and angels must have had sinful natures before their fall.
Again: Suppose we regard sin as an event or effect. An effect only implies an adequate cause. Free, responsible will is an adequate cause, in the presence of temptation, without the supposition of a sinful constitution, as has been demonstrated in the case of Adam and of angels. When we have found an adequate cause, it is unphilosophical to look for and assign another.
Again: It is said that no motive to sin could be a motive or a temptation, if there were not a sinful taste, relish or appetite inherent in the constitution to which the temptation or motive is addressed. For example, the presence of food, it is said, would be no temptation to eat, were there not a constitutional appetency terminating on food. So the presence of any object could be no inducement to sin, were there not a constitutional appetency or craving for sin. So that in fact, sin in action were impossible unless there were sin in the nature. To this I reply:
Suppose this objection be applied to the sin of Adam and of angels. Can we not account for Eve's eating the forbidden fruit without supposing that she had a craving for sin? The Bible informs us that her craving was for the fruit, for knowledge, and not for sin. The words are: "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat." Here is nothing of a craving for sin. Eating this fruit was indeed sinful, but the sin
consisted in consenting to gratify, in a prohibited manner, the appetites, not for sin, but for food and knowledge. But the advocates for this theory say that there must be an adaptedness in the constitution, a something within answering to the outward motive or temptation, and sin were impossible. This is true. But the question is, what is that something within, which responds to the outward motive? Is it a craving for sin? We have just seen what it was in the case of Adam and Eve. It was simply the correlation that existed between the fruit and their constitution, its presence exciting the desires for food and knowledge. This led to prohibited indulgence. This is a short history of the origin of all sin in mankind, as we shall see. That is, all men sin in precisely the same way. They consent to gratify, not a craving for sin, but a craving for other things, and the consent to make self-gratification an end is the whole of sin.
This argument assumes as true, what we, on a former occasion, have seen to be false, namely, that sinners love sin for its own sake. If it could be true, total depravity would of necessity secure perfect blessedness. It would be the very state which the mind supremely loves for its own sake. The sinner could then say, not merely in the language of poetry, but in sober prose and fact, "Evil, be thou my good."
The Theologians whose views we are canvassing, maintain that the appetites, passions, desires, and propensities which are constitutional and entirely involuntary, are in themselves sinful. To this I reply, that Adam and Eve possessed them before they fell. Christ possessed them or he was not a man, nor in any proper sense a human being. No, these appetites, passions, and propensities are not sinful, though they are the occasions of sin. They are a temptation to the will to seek their unlawful indulgence. When these lusts or appetites are spoken of as the "passions of sin " or as "sinful lusts or passions," it is not because they are sinful in themselves, but because they are the occasions of
Again: The death and suffering of infants previous to actual transgression is adduced as an argument to prove that infants have a sinful nature. To this I reply,
1. That this argument must assume that there must be sin wherever there is suffering and death. But this assumption proves too much; as it would prove that mere animals have a sinful nature or have committed actual sin. An argument that
proves too much proves nothing.
2. Physical sufferings prove only physical, and not moral depravity. Previous to moral agency, infants are no more subjects of moral government than brutes are; therefore their sufferings and death are to be accounted for as are those of brutes, namely, by ascribing them to violations of the laws of life and health.
Another argument for a sinful constitution is, that unless infants have a sinful nature, they do not need sanctification to fit them for heaven. Answer:
1. This argument assumes that if they are not sinful they must be holy, whereas they are neither sinful nor holy until they are moral agents and render themselves so by obedience or disobedience to the moral law. If they are to go to heav en, they must be made holy or must be sanctified.
2. This objection assumes that previous sinfulness is a condition of the necessity of being holy. This is contrary to fact. Were Adam and angels first sinful before they were sanctified? But it is assumed that unless moral agents are at first sinners they do not need the Holy Spirit to induce them to be holy. That is, unless their nature is sinful, they would become holy without the Holy Spirit. But where do we ascertain this? Suppose that they have no moral character, and that their nature is neither holy nor sinful. Will they become holy without being enlightened by the Holy Spirit? Who will assert that they will?
3. That infants have a sinful nature has been inferred from the institution of circumcision so early as the eighth day after birth. Circumcision, it is truly urged, was designed to teach the necessity of regeneration, and by way of implication, the doctrine of moral depravity. It is claimed that its being enjoined as obligatory upon the eighth day after birth, was requiring it at the earliest period at which it could be safely performed. From this it is inferred that infants are to be regarded as morally depraved from their birth.
In answer to this I would say, that infant circumcision was doubtless designed to teach the necessity of their being saved by the Holy Spirit from the dominion of the flesh, that the influence of the flesh must be restrained, and the flesh circumcised, or the soul would be lost. This truth needed to be impressed on the parents from the birth of their children. This very significant and bloody and painful rite was well calculated to impress this truth upon parents, and to lead them from their birth to watch over the development and indulgence of their propensities, and to pray for their sanctification.