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Wherein are considered some Evidences of Origin.
al Sin from Facts and Events, as found by 0b. servation and Experience, together with Representations and Testimonies of Holy Scripture, and the Confession and Assertions of Opposers.
The Evidence of Original Sin from what appears
in Fact of the Sinfulness of Mankind.
All Mankind do constantly, in all Ages, without Fail in any one
Instance, run into that moral Evil, which is, in Effect, their own utter and eternal Perdition, in a total Privation of God's Favor, and Suffering of his Vengeance and Wrath.
By Original Sin, as the phrase has been most commonly used by divines, is meant the innate, sinful depravity of the heart. But yet, when the doctrine of Original Sin is spoken of, it is vulgarly understood in that latitude, as to include
not only the depravity of nature, but the imputation of Adam's first Sin; or in other words, the liableness or exposedness of Adam's posterity, in the divine judgment, to partake of the punishment of that Sin. So far as I know, most of those who have held one of these, have maintained the other; and most of those who have opposed one, have opposed the other; bo h are opposed by the author chiefly attended to in the following discourse, in his book against Original Sin : And it may perhaps appear in our future consideration of the subject, that they are closely connected, and that the arguments which prove the one, establish the other, and that there are no more difficulties attending the allowing of one than the other.
I shall, in the first place, consider this doctrine more especially with regard to the corruption of nature ; and as we treat of this, the other will naturally come into consideration, in the prosecution of the discourse, as connected with it.
As all moral qualities, all principles either of virtue or vice, lie in the disposition of the heart, I shall consider whether we have any evidence, that the heart of man is naturally of a corrupt and evil disposition. This is strenuously denied by many late writers, who are enemies to the doctrine of Original Sin ; and particularly by Dr. Taylor.
The way we come by the idea of any such thing as disposition or tendency, is by observing what is constant or general in event; especially under a great variety of circumstances; and above all, when the effect or event continues the same through great and various opposition, much and mani. fold force and means used to the contrary not prevailing to hinder the effect. I do not know, that such a prevalence of effects is denied to be an evidence of prevailing tendency in causes and agents; or that it is expressly denied by the opposers of the doctrine of Original Sin, that if, in the course of events, it universally or generally proves that mankind are actually corrupt, this would be an evidence of a prior, corrupt propensity in the world of mankind; whatever may be said by some, which, if taken with its plain consequences, may seem to imply a denial of this; which may be considered afterwards....But by many the fact is denied ; that is, it is denied that corruption and moral evil are commonly prevalent in the world: On the contrary, it is insisted on, that good preponderates, and that virtue has the ascendant.
To this purpose Dr. Turnbull says, “ With regard to the prevalence of vice in the world, men are apt to let their imagination run out upon all the robberies, pyracies, murders, perjuries, frauds, massacres, assassinations they have either heard of, or read in history ; thence concluding all mankind to be very wicked. As if a court of justice was a proper place to make an estimate of the morals of mankind, or an hospital of the healthfulness of a climate. But ought they not to consider, that the number of honest citizens and farmsurpasses
that of all sorts of criminals in any state, and that the innocent and kind actions of even criminals them. selves surpass their crimes in numbers ; that it is the rarity of crimes, in comparison of innocent or good actions, which engages our attention to them, and makes them to be record. ed in history ; while honest, generous, domestic actions are overlooked, only because they are so common? As one great danger, or one month's sickness shall become a frequently repeated story during a long life of health and safely....Let not the vices of mankind be multiplied or magnified. Let us make a fair estimate of human life, and set over against the shocking, the astonishing instances of barbarity and wicked. ness that have been perpetrated in any age, not only the exceeding generous and brave actions with which history shines, but the prevailing innocency, good nature, industry, felicity, and cheerfulness of the greater part of mankind at all times ; and we shall not find reason to cry out, as objectors against providence do on this occasion, that all men are vastly corrupta and that there is hardly any such thing as virtue in the world. Upon a fair computation, the fact does indeed come out, that very great villanies have been very uncommon in all ages, and looked upon as monstrous ; so general is the sense and esteem of virtue.” It seems to be with a like view that Dr. Taylor says, “ We must not take the measure of our health
+ Moral Philosophy, P, 289, 290.
and enjoyments from a lazar house, nor of our understanding from bedlam, nor of our morals from a gaol.”
With respect to the propriety and pertinence of such a representation of things, and its force as to the consequence designed, I hope we shall be better able to judge, and in some measure to determine, whether the natural disposition of the hearts of mankind be corrupt or not, when the things which follow have been considered.
But for the greater clearness, it may be proper here to premise one consideration, that is of great importance in this controversy, and is very much overlooked by the
opposers the doctrine of Original Sin in their disputing against it; which is this......
That is to be looked upon as the true tendency of the patural or innate disposition of man's heart, which appears to be its tendency, when we consider things as they are in themselves, or in their own nature, without the interposition of dia vine grace. Thus, that state of man's nature, that disposition of the mind, is to be looked upon as evil and pernicious, which, as it is in itself, tends to extremely penicious consequences, and would certainly end therein, were it not that the free mercy and kindness of God interposes to prevent that is
It would be very strange if any should argue, that there is no evil tendency in the case, because the mere favor and compassion of the Most High may step in and oppose the tendency, and prevent the sad effect tended to. Particularly, if there be any thing in the nature of man, whereby he has an universal, unfailing tendency to that moral evil, which, according to the real nature and true demerit of things, as they are in themselves, implies his utter ruin, that must be looked upon as an evil tendency or propensity; however divine grace may interpose, to save him from deserved ruin, and to overrule things to an issue contrary to that which they tend to of themselves. Grace is a sovereign thing, exercised according to the good pleasure of God, bringing good out of evil. The effect of it belongs not to the nature of things themselves, that otherwise have an ill tendency, any more than the remedy belongs to the disease ; but is something altogether inde