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sibility, its physical depravity will mightily strengthen moral depravity. Moral depravity is then universally owing to temptation. That is, the soul is tempted to self-indulgence, and yields to the temptation, and this yielding, and not the temptation, is sin or moral depravity. This is manifestly the way in which Adam and Eve became morally depraved. They were tempted, even by undepraved appetite, to prohibited indulgence, and were overcome. The sin did not lie in the constitutional desire of food, or of knowledge, nor in the excited state of these appetites or desires, but in the consent of the will to prohibited indulgence.
Just in the same way all sinners become such, that is, they become morally depraved by yielding to temptation to selfgratification under some form. Indeed it is impossible that they should become morally depraved in any other way. To deny this were to overlook the very nature of moral depravity. It is remarkable that President Edwards, after writing five hundred pages, in which he confounds physical and moral depravity, in answer to an objection of Dr. Taylor of England, that his view made God, the author of the constitution, the author also of sin, turns immediately around, and without seeming to see his own inconsistency, ascribes all sin to temptation, and makes it consist altogether in obeying the propensities, just as I have done. His words are.
"One argument against a supposed native, sinful depravity, which Dr. Taylor greatly insists upon, is, "that this does in effect charge Him who is the author of our nature, who formed us in the womb, with being the author of a sinful corruption of nature; and that it is highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature to be originally corrupted and that in the worst sense of corruption."
With respect to this, I would observe, in the first place, that this writer, in handling this grand objection, supposes something to belong to the doctrine objected against, as maintained by the divines whom he is opposing, which does not belong to it, nor follow from it. As particularly, he supposes the doctrine of original sin to imply, that nature must be corrupted by some positive influence; " something, by some means or other, infused into the human nature; some quality or other, not from the choice of our minds, but like a taint, tincture, or infection, altering the natural constitution, faculties, and dispositions of our souls! That sin and evil dispositions are implanted in the fœtus in the womb." Whereas truly our doctrine neither implies nor infers any such thing. In order to account for a sinful corruption of nature, yea, a total native depravity of the heart of man, there is not the least need of supposing any evil quality infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man, by any positive cause or influence whatsoever, either from God, or the creature; or of supposing that man is conceived and born with a fountain of evil in his heart such as is any thing properly positive. I think a little attention to the nature of things will be sufficient to satisfy any impartial, considerate inquirer that the absence of positive good principles, and so the withholding of a special divine influence to impart and maintain those good principles-leaving the common natural principles of selflove, natural appetite, &c. to themselves, without the government of superior
divine principles will certainly be followed with the corruption; yea, the total corruption of the heart, without occasion for any positive influence at all. And that it was thus in fact that corruption of nature came on Adam, immediately on his fall, and comes on all his posterity as sinning in him and falling with him.
The case with man was plainly this: When God made man at first he implanted in him two kinds of principles. There was an inferior kind which may be natural, being the principles of mere human nature; such as self-love, with those natural appetites and passions, which belong to the nature of man, in which his love to his own liberty, honor and pleasure were exercised: These, when alone, and left to themselves, are what the scriptures sometimes call flesh. Besides these, there were superior principles, that were spiritual, holy, and divine, summarily comprehended in divine love; wherein consisted the spiritual image of God, and man's righteousness and true holiness; which are called in scripture the divine nature. These principles may, in some sense, be called supernatural, being (however concreated or connate, yet) such as are above those principles that are essentially implied in, or necessarily resulting from, and inseparably connected with, mere human nature: and being such as immediately depend on man's union and communion with God, or divine communications and influences of God's spirit, which though withdrawn, and man's nature for. saken of these principles, human nature would be human nature still; man's nature, as such, being entire without these divine principles, which the scripture sometimes calls spirit, in contradistinction to flesh. These superior principles were given to possess the throne, and maintain absolute dominion in the heart; the other to be wholly subordinate and subservient. And while things continued thus, all was in excellent order, peace, and beautiful harmony, and in a proper and perfect state. These divine principles thus reigning, were the dignity, life, happiness, and glory of man's nature. When man sinned and broke God's covenant, and fell under his curse, these superior principles left his heart: For indeed God then left him, that communion with God on which these principles depended, entirely ceased; the Holy Spirit that divine inhabitant, forsook the house; because it would have been utterly improper in itself, and inconsistent with the constitution God had established, that he should still maintain communion with man, and continue by his friendly, gracious, vital influences, to dwell with him and in him, after he was become a rebel and had incurred God's wrath and curse. Therefore immediately the superior divine principles wholly ceased: so light ceases in a room when the candle is withdrawn; and thus man was left in a state of darkness, woeful corruption and ruin; nothing but flesh without spirit. The inferior principles of self-love and natural appetite which were given only to serve, being alone, and left to themselves, of course became reigning principles: having no superior principles to regulate or control them, they became the absolute masters of the heart. The immediate consequence of which was a fatal catastrophe, a turning of all things upside down, and the suc cession of a state of the most odious and dreadful confusion. Man immediately set up himself, and the objects of his private affections and appetites, as supreme and so they took the place of God. These inferior principles were like fire in a house; which we say is a good servant, but a bad master; very useful while kept in its place, but if left to take possession of the whole house, soon brings all to destruction. Man's love to his own honor, separate interests, and private pleas-" ure, which before was wholly subordinate unto love to God and regard to his authority and glory, now disposes and impels him to pursue those objects, without regard to God's honor, or law; because there is no true regard to these divine things left in him. In consequence of which, he seeks those objects as much when against God's honor and law, as when agreeable to them. God still continuing strictly to require supreme regard to himself, and forbidding all undue gratification of these inferior passions--but only in perfect subordination to the ends, and agreeable to the rules and limits, which his holiness, honor, and law prescribe—hence immediately arises enmity in the heart, now wholly under the power of self-love; and nothing but war ensues, in a course against God. As when a subject has once renounced his lawful sovereign, and set up a
pretender in his stead, a state of enmity and war against his rightful king necessarily ensues. It were easy to show, how every lust, and depraved disposition of man's heart, would naturally arise from this privative original, if here were room for it. Thus it is easy to give an account, how total corruption of heart should follow on man's eating the forbidden fruit, though that was but one act of sin, without God putting any evil into his heart, or implanting any bad principle, or infusing any corrupt taint, and so becoming the author of depravity.— Only God's withdrawing, as it was highly proper and necessary that he should, from rebel man, and his natural principles being left to themselves, is sufficient to account for his becoming entirely corrupt, and bent on sinning against God.
And as Adam's nature became corrupt, without God's implanting or infusing of any evil thing into it; so does the nature of his posterity. God dealing with Adam as the head of his posterity, [as has been shown,] and treating them as one, he deals with his posterity as having all sinned in him. And therefore, as God withdrew spiritual communion, and his vital, gracious influence from all the members, as they come into existence; whereby they come into the world mere flesh, and entirely under the government of natural and inferior principles; and so become wholly corrupt, as Adam did.”—Edwards' Works, pp 532–538.
To sum up the truth upon this subject in few words, I would
1. Moral depravity in our first parents was induced by temptation addressed to the unperverted susceptibilities of their nature. When these susceptibilities became strongly excited, they overcame the will; that is, the human pair were overpersuaded and fell under the temptation. This has been repeatedly said, but needs repetition in a summing up.
2. All moral depravity commences in substantially the same way. Proof,
(1.) The impulses of the sensibility are developed at birth.
(2.) The first acts of will are in obedience to these. (3.)Self-gratification is the rule of action previous to the development of reason.
(4.) No resistance is offered to the will's indulging appetite until a habit of self-indulgence is formed.
(5.) When reason affirms moral obligation, it finds the will in a state of habitual and constant committal to the impulses of the sensibility.
(6.) The demands of the sensibility have become more and more despotic every hour of indulgence.
(7.) In this state of things, unless the Holy Spirit interpose, the idea of moral obligation will be but dimly developed.
(8.) The will of course rejects the bidding of reason and cleaves to self-indulgence.
(9.) This is the settling of a fundamental question. It is deciding in favor of appetite against the claims of conscience and of God.
(10.) Light once rejected can be thereafter more easily resisted.
(11.) Selfishness confirms and strengthens and perpetuates itself by a natural process. It grows with the sinner's growth and strengthens with his strength, and will do so forever unless overcome by the Holy Spirit through the truth.
1. Adam, being the natural head of the race, would naturally, by the wisest constitution of things, greatly affect for good or evil his whole posterity.
2. His sin in many ways exposed his posterity to aggravated temptation. Not only the physical constitution of all men, but all the influences under which they first form their moral character are widely different from what they would have been, if sin had never been introduced.
3. When selfishness is understood to be the whole of moral depravity, its quo modo is manifest. Clear conceptions of the thing will instantly reveal the occasion and manner.
4. The only difficulty in accounting for it has been the false assumption that there must be and is something back of the free actions of the will, and sustaining to those actions the relation of a cause that is itself sinful.
5. If holy Adam and holy angels could fall under temptations addressed to their undepraved sensibility, how absurd it is to conclude that sin in infants who are born with a physically depraved constitution, can not be accounted for, without ascribing it to original sin, or to a nature that is in itself sinful.
6. Without divine illumination the moral character will of course be formed under the influence of the flesh. That is, the lower propensities will of course influence the will, unless the intelligence be developed by the Holy Spirit, as was said by President Edwards in the extract just quoted.
7. The dogma of constitutional moral depravity is a part and parcel of the doctrine of a necessitated will. It is a branch of a grossly false and heathenish philosophy. How infinitely absurd, dangerous, and unjust, then, to embody it in a standard of christian doctrine, to give it the place of an indispensable article of faith, and denounce all who will not swallow its absurdities, as heretics. O, Shame!
8. We are unable to say precisely at what age infants become moral agents, and, of course, how early they become sinDoubtless there is much difference among children in
this respect. Reason is developed in one earlier than in another, according to the constitution.
A thorough consideration of the subject will doubtless lead to the conviction that children become moral agents much earlier than is generally supposed. The conditions of moral agency are, as has been repeatedly said in former lectures, the possession of the powers of moral agency, together with the development of the ideas of the good or valuable, of moral obligation or oughtness of right and wrong-of praise and blameworthiness. I have endeavored to show in former lectures, that mental satisfaction, blessedness or happiness, is the ultimate good. Satisfaction arising from the gratification of the appetites is one of the earliest experiences of human beings. This no doubt suggests or develops at a very early period the idea of the good or the valuable. The idea is doubtless developed long before the word that expresses it is understood. The child knows that happiness is good, and seeks it in the form of self-gratification long before the terms that designate this state of mind are at all understood. It knows that its own enjoyment is worth seeking, and doubtless very early has the idea that the enjoyment of others is worth seeking, and affirms to itself, not in words but in idea, that it ought to please its parents and those around it. It knows in fact, though language is as yet unknown, that it loves to be gratified and to be happy, that it loves and seeks enjoyment for itself, and doubtless has the idea that it ought not to displease and distress those around it, but that it ought to endeavor to please and gratify them. This is probably among the first ideas, if not the very first idea of the pure reason that is developed, that is, the idea of the good, the valuable, the desirable; and the next must be that of oughtness, or of moral obligation, the next of right and wrong, &c. I say again, these ideas are and must be developed before the signs or words that express them are at all understood, and the words would never be understood except the idea were first developed. We always find at the earliest period at which children can understand words that they have the idea of obligation, of right and wrong. As soon as these words are understood by them, they recognize them as expressing ideas already in their own minds, and which ideas they have had, further back than they can remember. Some and indeed most persons seem to have the idea that children affirm themselves to be under moral obligation before they have the idea of the good; that they affirm their obligation to obey their parents