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word reediu, does by no means sa- any cause which precedes in the order of tisfy us, that the common under nature, and renders certain the sinful de. standing of that word, according to For although a previous choice, which
terminations and choices of the agent. which it signifies the seat of the af.
was wrong, may influence an agent in fections, is not the true one. It is making a present wrong choice, yet to so generally admitted, that a suc make a present sin consist in its being cession of thoughts or volitions, good occasioned by a previous choice which or evil, must have a principle, or
was wrong, would equally require us to source from which they originate, self, to lie, not in itself
, but in some pre
make the sin of that previous choice itthat it is commonly assumed as a vious sinful choice of the agent which inself-evident truth: And we do not Auenced him to it; and so on, till we perceive, that the author of these come to the first choice or act of will in discourses denies this principle. He the series, which could have no act of is not one of those who think that that on this position there could be no
will preceding it to constitute it sin,-50 our thoughts have no cause of their such thing as sin, in the whole series of existence in the soul itself. This he acts from first to last. Besides, many admits; but denies that there is any things influence an agent to a present moral evil in this cause, however determination of evil, aside from previous sinful its effects may be. We shall determinations : things which are wholly have occasion again to return to this to the agency of others: and to make
out of his own being, and pertain wholly point. On the present argument we his sin lie in such a cause of his determiwould only observe further, that nations, and not in his determinations what has already been mentioned, themselves, would be to make that perrespecting sins of omission, is itself tain to his being which did not pertain to
bis being." a sufficient answer to all that is said on this part of the subject, and proves As to the consequences of wrong conclusively that all sin does not con- choices, we have nothing to do with sist in acts, for the root of all sin is them now. What we assert and the omission of loving God.
what Professor F. denies, is, that The fourth and last argument of the causes of sinful choices, which the preacher is, " An appeal (p. 12) exist in the disposition, or temper of to the absurdity of supposing that the soul itself, are sinful. We any thing else should constitute a have not been able to see that he ground of blame, in the subjects of has made it appear, that any abmoral government; and the reasona- surdity is consequent on this opibleness of taking this view.”
nion. What is said about one choice
being influenced by a previous one, “ For,” says he, “what other view can we take that leads not to absurdity? For,
is nothing to the purpose. The comsin must lie, either in the consequer.ces of mon belief of men is, that the cause wrong choices of the agent, or in the of evil.choices is a moral corruption causes of them, or else in the wrong existing in the soul; and we do not choices themselves. But sin cannot lie
see a single word in the amplificasimply in the consequences of wrong tion of this argument, which goes to choices, that they occasion evil to others. For although it may be true that sin does show that there is any absurdity in in most cases occasion evil to others, yet such a supposition. Indeed, to our the sin itself is distinct from the evil flow. apprehension, the absurdity lies all on ing from it, nor does it essentially consist the other side. To maintain, that in its actually occasioning evil to others. there is a cause existing in the soul For, ravenous beasts may occasion evil to from which all sinful volitions proothers by their conduct, as well as men; and among men, it may be that, the ceed, and yet, that this principle has worst sins in them may be prevented no moral evil in it, bears very much the from actually bringing evil on others, and appearance of a palpable absurdity, their best conduct, on the other hand, (as It seems to us like saying, that there in the administration of salutary correc. is something, or rather every thing, tion,) may occasion it in a high degree.
"Nor can it lie in the causes that influ- in an effect, which was not in its ence an agent to sinful choices. I mean cause; which is the same as to say thia'
there is an effect without a cause. causes of sin, mortality, and condemOr it is like the assertion that if a nation.”—(p. 43.) vessel contain poison, yet there is But after all, this is the labouring nothing evil in it, unless the contents point in the new system; and the be put in motion.
Professor seems exceedingly unwillThe point of difference between ing to come to an explanation of Professor F. and us, is not, whether what constitutes this necessity of the posterity of Adam have under sinning, in all Adam's posterity: and gone a change in consequence of his upon a second reading of what he fall. This, indeed, he seems reluc- says, we are doubtful whether or not tant to grant in the body of his dis- he makes this inherited cause of sin. courses, but in the notes appended, ning, to be internal or external. he plainly recognises the fact, that “Do you ask,” says he, “how Adam there is an “effect on their constitu- could occasion a moral certainty, aption, which renders their sinning cer- plying to every instance of his postain." There is then a corruption terity? I may reply, that if I cannot of the constitution of man. Soine- tell how, it may yet be true; for how or other, his soul has suffered there are many instances of moral injury. This is admitted. The soul certainty which I know to be in fact is so injured that the sinning of founded on their proper causes, every man who comes into the world but cannot exactly state how they is certain; and it is also certain, are.” We are the more disposed to that left to himself, he will do no doubt, whether we have understood thing else but sin. This depravity, the writer correctly on this point, Professor F. and those who agree because in a pamphlet, on human with him, assert, is not of a moral depravity, published in the city of nature-is not sinful. If it be not New York, and believed to be from moral, then, to use the language of this the same school, the writer explicitly school, it is physical. The true state denies that the soul of man has sufof man by nature, therefore, accord- fered any injury by the fall; and asing to this theory, is, that he inherits serts that the certainty of sinning from Adam, a physical defect, which (which he also admits) is owing enis the certain cause of his sinning, tirely to the state of temptation to but which has in itself nothing of the which man is exposed. Now, this nature of sin. The heart is diseased, is honestly speaking, out. When a but there is no evil in the disease, man avows such opinions as these, until it puts forth acts; and although we know where to place him. He the disease of the heart is the sole may still profess to be orthodox, and cause of the evil of the actions, yet may associate with the orthodox; the heart which produces these but if this is not barefaced Pelagianstreams of moral evil, partakes notism, then Pelagius was no Pelagian. at all of that malignity which it com- But Professor F. is extremely caumunicates. While the thoughts and tious here. He endeavours to keep volitions which it sends forth are this point out of view, by raising a abominable and deserving of eternal mist about it. He asks a question, death, the source itself is pure, and and then flies off with a vague, entirely free from fault. If men can unsatisfactory reply. Now to us it please themselves with such philoso- seems to be a cardinal point, to phy and theology as this, they are know where this cause lies. If it welcome to all the honour and grati- be internal, then an internal remedy fication which their peculiar notions is needed; if it exist in outward cirmay obtain for them. But what is cumstances, then it will be sufficient not a little surprising, they establish to seek to have these changed. This that very physical depravity of which is certainly a point which ought not they are so much afraid. Adam has to be left in the dark. Men, it "entailed upon his posterity the seems, are under a moral certainty
of sinning, and doing nothing else from Adam, but assure me that the but sin, as long as they are left to causes of sin are en tailed upon methemselves; but why so? Where is causes, so certain in their operation, the cause? Is there any defect in that not one of all the millions of our nature, which lays us under this Adam's race ever escaped the polsad necessity? We really need in- lution.” And truly, as far as the formation here. But the Professor righteousness of God is concernwill give us no satisfaction. He ed, it is not of the least consesays, “ there are many instances of quence, whether this
this powerful moral certainty which I know to be cause be external or internal. In in fact founded on their proper the upshot, it all amounts to the causes, but cannot exactly state what same thing. Man is under a moral they are."
necessity of becoming a sinner; and If ingenious men did not involve for this sin, the causes of which are themselves in a mist of metaphysics, entailed upon him, he must die. they never could persuade them- What is there in the imputation of selves, that such a theory as we are the first man's sin, more unreasonanow considering, would have any ble or uprighteous than this ? tendency to remove the objections We will now consider this docwhich are made to the scriptural trine in its bearings on other docdoctrine of original sin. The doc- trines connected with it; and we trine of the imputation of Adam's will make our remarks short, leaving sin is first rejected as unreasonable it to the reader to fill up the outand uprighteous—And what then? line. Why men, in consequence of being 1. According to this theory, which the children of Adam, are born in a makes all sin to consist in wrong state of inherent depravity; and for choices, and all holiness in right this depravity, which is visited on choices,
choices, it was impossible that man them for no other reason but be- should have been created in the cause their first father was depraved, moral image of God, or in a state of they are doomed to everlasting mi- holiness; for man must have had an sery. It requires little discernment existence before he could choose, and to see that this scheme removes no choosing was his own act, therefore he difficulty; or if it seem to remove could not have been created in a one, it substitutes another far more holy state, but must have formed formidable. Hence this scheme of in- the holiness of his own character, by herent depravity is rejected by some, right choices. The causes of holiand a new theory is invented. Men, ness, however, might have been creit is said, do not inherit from Adam ated in him, or with him. sin of any kind, either imputed or 2. This theory is a complete deinherent: but only " the causes” of nial of the doctrine of original sin, sin, mortality, and condemnation. in all its parts, both imputed and in
Thus all the difficulties about origi- herent. We can scarcely acquit the nal sin, it is supposed, are removed reverend Professor of some want of at once, There is in fact no such candour, in what he writes about orithing. Very good: but how is it ginal sin, in one of his inferences, then, that all men sin as soon as (see p. 27) where he says—“The they are capable of moral action ? subject may assist us in making a The explanation is, that they have right explanation of original sin,”– entailed on them from Adam, “the and that "nothing can in truth be causes of sin, mortality, and con- called original sin, but his first moral demnation." And will the cavilling choice or preference being evil.” rationalist be satisfied with this? But Professor F. koows as well as No; he will say immediately-" It any one, that there never existed a is a pitiful evasion. You tell me heretick who denied original sin, acI am not a sinner by inheritance cording to this definition. For as
all men sin, there must be a first sin. infants have sin imputed to them. Pelagius, if this be a correct defini. And the Professor has not even notion, beld the doctrine of original ticed this difficulty; perhaps he sin, as fully as Augustine; and much judged it best to keep it out of view. more correctly, if we receive this 4. But if infants have no sin they theory. But let men deal fairly have no need of redemption. Christ with their readers—If they reject an died only for sinners, therefore those old doctrine, let them not retain the infants that die before they become name, as a blind to impose on the moral agents, have no part in the ignorant and unwary.
death of Christ; but are saved, if There is; indeed, one scheme on saved it all, without a Mediator; which original sin may consist with which is in direct contradiction to this new theory, and that is the opi- the scriptures, and the perpetual benion, that man is a moral agent in lief of the universal church. the womb, and puts forth wrong 5. On this principle, infants which choices in the first moment of his die before they commit sin, have no conception: but Professor F. has ex- need of regeneration by the Holy cluded himself from the benefit of Spirit. They are not polluted with this theory, by his definition of sin, sin, and why should they be regenethat it is “the violation of a known rated? law;" for it will scarcely be con 6. According to this theory, there tended that the newly formed ho. is no meaning in baptism as applied munculus has the knowledge of law; to infants. This sacrament, undoubtit might as well be supposed that he edly is an emblem of the cleansing was a great philosopher, and under- of the sin-polluted soul, by the washstood all the laws of nature.
ing of regeneration. Pelagius was It was matter of surprise, there. not more gravelled by any objection fore, to find the learned Professor, in made to his doctrine, than by this. one of his notes, (p. 45) hesitating, 7. It is difficult to say what regewhether this might not be the true neration is, in adult sinners, accorddoctrine; at least refusing to ex. ing to this theory. Undoubtedly, it press any opinion, and very formal- must remove the cause of evil volijy recounting the reasons, pro and tions, or wrong choices; but what
Unhappily, for him, however, that cause is does not appear. If it he had prejudged the cause already. is a defect in the soul itself, then it Whoever can adopt this theory, he must be a new creation of the soul, cannot, while he maintains the fun- as to its physical powers; but surely damental proposition of his whole this is a strange notion of regenerasystem. The conclusion is evident, tion. But if the cause of the wrong therefore, that this theory subverts choice is without us, then there is no the doctrine of original sin, in toto. need of any operation on the soul,
3. If furnishes no reason why in- but merely a change of external cirfants are subject to suffering and cumstances. The writer on human death. They are treated as sinners, depravity, mentioned above, makes while they are perfectly innocent. the supernatural agency of the Spirit Let the advocates of this opinion ex- necessary, to give force to motives ercise all their ingenuity to invent and render them effectual; but why some more plausible reason for this any supernatural agency should be procedure of the Divine govern- deemed necessary upon his theory, ment, than did Pelagius. If they we cannot understand. When the can satisfactorily remove this diffi- soul is in itself perfectly free from culty from their system, we shall be depravity, except what exists in its disposed to think more favourably acts, there seems to be no manner of of it. But we are persuaded that necessity for any Divine power to be this single fact will forever be fatal exerted. All that is necessary is to to every system, which denies that present sufficient motives to the un
derstanding, and this can be effected tem; for thus, without any inherent by external instruction, by means of principle of evil, total depravity can the word, without any supernatural be accounted for. But this new agency.
dogma is contrary to all experience, 8. If this doctrine be true, then and therefore ought to be rejected . there is no more sin in the worst as false. man living, when not engaged in Finally, we close our examination moral action, than in the best. Judas of these discourses, by expressing Iscariot when asleep, had no more our regret, that Professor Fitch has depravity in his heart, than the be- published on this subject so hastily. lored John; or even than there was We are informed that he is yet a in the spotless human soul of Jesus young man, and we think therefore itself!
that it would have been wise in him, 9. According to this doctrine, it to have revolved this theory in his does not appear how there can be mind, and to have discussed it with any such things as moral babits. bis friends, for half a score of years
10. I'wo principles are assumed to come; for it is no very easy matin these discourses which have no ter for a professor of theology to refoundation in truth; the first is, that tract an opinion which he has once to suppose the soul itself to be stain- published to the world. Honour, ined with inherent depravity, is to terest, consistency, all are pledged, make depravity a physical thing. to go on defending what has once But the truth is, moral principles can been uttered, ex cathedra. Few men exist in the soul, when not exercised, have the magnanimity, or shall we call just as well as intellectual faculties. it humility, of an Augustine, a LuTrue, if by physical, be understood ther, or a Baxter, to retract and rethat which is natural, then native fute their own errors. depravity is physical; but if by it be We must also express our surmeant something which is opposed prise and grief, that on the very to what is moral, then the assump- spot, where we had_supposed the tion is false.
sound theology of President EdThe other principle assumed with. wards had taken deeper root than out foundation in these discourses, any where else in the world, there is, that if one choice be wrong, all should be promulgated, by men call. that follow it will be so, according ed orthodox, a system subversive of to an ultimate law of our constitu- the radical principles of that great tion. The author's words are and good man! “Now, as it is an ultimate fact, that an original choice or preference of a wrong end or forbidden object does,
A DISSERTATION ON THE MARRIAGE itself, occasion the certainty of a
OF A MAN WITH HIS SISTER IN LAW. continued train of evil choices by
By John H. Livingston, D.D. the agent, the total depravity of the
8. T.P. New Brunswick. Printa agent, the original choice or first inclination of the will to evil, sustains
ed by Deare & Myer. 1826. pp.
179; octavo. towards the acts of the agent, as does no other, the relation of a pri- THE DOCTRINE OF INCEST STATED; mary influential cause of their being
with an examination of the ques. evil.” (p. 29.) This is a new philo
tion, Whether a Man may Marry sophy of the human mind; that if a
his deceased Wife's Sister; in a moral agent make one wrong choice,
Letter to a Clergyman of the it is a matter of constitutional ne
Presbyterian Church; by Domes
ticus. Second edition, pp. 48; occessity, that all consecutive acts should be evil also. It seems to
tavo. have been invented for the occasion, THE ARGUMENT OF DOMESTICUS, on to assist in harmonizing the new sys the question, Whether a Man may