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Deedless for me to enter into a particular disquisition of this point here ; from which I shall easily be excused by any reader who is willing to give himself the trauble of consulting what I have already written: And as to others, probably they will scarce be at the pains of reading the present discourse; or at least would not, if it should be enlarged by a full consid. eration of that controversy.
I shall at this time therefore only take notice of some gross inconsistencies that Dr. Taylor has been guilty of, in his hand. ling this objection against the doctrine of Original Sin.
In places which have been cited, he says, that “ Sin must proceed from our own choice : And that if it does not, it be. ing necessary to us, it cannot be sin, it cannot be our fault, or what we are to blame for:” And therefore all our sin must be chargeable on our choice, which is the cause of sin : For he says, “ The cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth, and which proceedeth from it."* Now here are implied several gross contradictions. He greatly insists that nothing can be sinful, or have the nature of sin, but what proceeds from our choice. Nevertheless he says, “.... Not the effect, but the cause alone is chargeable with blame." Therefore the choice, which is the cause, is alonc blamable, or has the nature of sin ; and not the effect of that choice. Thus nothing can be sinful, but the effect of choice; and yet the effect of choice never can be sinful, but only the cause, which alone is chargeable with all the blame.
Again, the choice which chooses and produces sin, or from which sin proceeds, is itself sinful. Not only is this implied in his saying, “the cause alone is chargeable with all the blame," but he expressly speaks of the choice as faulty,t and calls that choice wicked, from which depravity and corruption, proceeds. Now if the choice itself be sin, and there be no sin but what proceeds from a sinful choice, then the sinful choice must proceed from another antecedent choice ; it must be chosen by a foregoing act of will, determining itself to that sinful choice, that so it may have that which he speaks of as
* Page 128.
+ Page 191.
Page 200. See also page 216.
absolutely essential to the nature of sin, namely, that it pro, ceeds from our choice, and does not happen to us necessarily. But if the sinful choice itself proceeds from a foregoing choice, then also that foregoing choice must be sinful ; it being the cause of sin, and so alone chargeable with the blame. Yet if that foregoing choice be sinful, then neither must that happen to us necessarily, but must likewise proceed from choice, another act of choice preceding that : For we must remember, that “ nothing is sinful but what proceeds from our choice.” And then, for the same reason, even this prior choice, last mentioned, must also be sinsul, being chargeable with all the blame of that consequent evil choice, which was its effect. And so we must go back till we come to the very first volition, the prime or original act of choice in the whole chain. And this, to be sure, must be a sinful choice, because this is the origin or primitive cause of all the train of evils which follow ; and according to our author, must there. fore be “ alone chargeable with all the blame." And yet so it is, according to him, this “ cannot be sinful,” because it does not “ proceed from our own choice,” or any foregoing act of our will ; it being, by the supposition, the very first act of will in the case. And therefore it must be necessary, as to us, having no choice of ours to be the cause of it.
In page 232, he says, “ Adam's sin was from his own disobedient will ; and so must every man's sin, and all the sin in the world be, as well as his." By this, it seems, he must have a " disobedient will” before he sins; for the cause must be before the effect : And yet that disobedient will itself is sin, ful; otherwise it could not be called disobedient. But the question is, How do men come by the disobedient will, this cause of all the sin in the world ? It must not come necessarily, without men's choice ; for if so, it is not sin, nor is there any disobedience in it. Therefore that disobedient will must also come from a disobedient will; and so on, in infinitum. Otherwise it must be supposed, that there is some sin in the world, which does not come from a disobedient will ; contrary co our author's dogmatical assertions.
In page 166, S. he says, “ Adam could not sin without e sinful inclination.” Here he calls that inclination itself sinful, which is the principle from whence sinful acts proceed ; as elsewhere he speaks of the disobedient will from whence all sin comes ; and he allows,* that “the law reaches to all the latent principles of sin ;" meaning plainly, that it forbids, and threatens punishment for, those latent principles. Now these latent principles of sin, these sinful inclinations, without which, according to our author, there can be no sinsul act, cannot all proceed from a sinful choice ; because that would imply great contradiction. For, by the supposition, they are the principles from whence a sinful choice comes, and whence all sinful acts of will proceed; and there can be no sinful act without them. So that the first latent principles and inclina. tions, from whence all sinful acts proceed, are sinful ; and yet they are not sinful, because they do not proceed from a wicke ed choice, without which, according to him, “ nothing can be sinful." :
Dr. Taylor, speaking of that proposition of the Assembly of Divines, wherein they assert, that Man is by nature utterly corrupt, &c.f thinks himself well warranted by the supposed great evidence of these his contradictory notions, to say, “ Therefore sin is not natural to us; and therefore I shall not. scruple to say, this proposition in the Assembly of Divines is false.” But it may be worthy to be considered, whether it would not have greatly become him, before he had clothed himself with so much assurance, and proceeded, on the foundation of these his notions, so magisterially to charge the Assembly's proposition with falsehood, to have taken care that his own propositions, which he has set in opposition to them, should be a little more consistent ; that he might not have contradicted himself, while contradicting them ; lest some im. partial judges, observing his inconsistence, should think they had warrant to declare with equal assurance, that “ They shall not scruple to say, Dr. Taylor's doctrine is false."
* Contents of Rom, chap, viii, ia Notes on the Epistic,
+ Page 125,
Concerning that objection against the doctrine of native corrup.
tion, That to suppose men receive their first existence in sin, is to make him who is the author of their being, the author of their depravity.
ONE argument against men's being supposed to be born with 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 his 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 does 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 laint, tincture, or infection, altering the natural constitution, faculties, and dispositions of our souls. That sin and evil dispositions are implanted in the fætus 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
* Page 137, 187, 188, 189, 256, 258, 260, 143, S. and other places, + Page 187. Page 146, 148, 149, S. and the like in many other places, 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 in. fluence 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 spe. cial divine influence to impart and maintain those good principles, leaving the common natural principles of selflove, natural appetite, &c. (which were in man in innocence) leaving these, I say, to themselves, without the government of supe. rior 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 indeed 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 called natural, being the principles of mere human nature ; such as selflove, with those natural appetites and passions, which belong to the rature 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 fesh. Be. sides 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 scrip ture the divine nature. These principles may, in some sense, be called supernatural,* being (however concreated or con
* To prevent all cavils, the reader is desired particulariy to observe, ,'* what sense I here use the words natural and suscrnatural: Not as epithets of distinction between that which is concreated or connate, and that which is extraordinarily introduced afterwards, besides the first state of things, or the