HODGE’S SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY.

We have here this long-expected work at length completed, in three portly volumes, royal octavo. They are handsomely printed on firm; white paper of excellent body; but they are bound in flimsy muslin, in the flimsiest style of that despicable binding. Why will our modern publishers give the .most weighty and enduring works to the public in a dress appropriate only to some worthless fiction, to be quickly, almost as quickly as it deserves, worn out and thrown away? This outrage upon the rights and the tastes of readers is aggravated by the fact, that the publishers have doubled the prices of their books upon us within the last ten years. Is double pay, for shabbier work, to be one of the signs of modern progress? So it seems.

Our general verdict upon the work of Dr. Hodge may be expressed very fairly by saying; that it is such a book as the Presbyterian public expected of him; for that public has been long accustomed to recognize, and, whenever writing upon .a subject in his own proper department, to value very highly Dr. Hodge’s characteristics. “We find the work, then, learned, perspicuous, nervous, dogmatic and orthodox. The doctrine which it asserts is distinctly Calvinistic, without being ultra-Calvinism. One of the most noticeable characteristics of the work is the fulness of its refutations of the materialistic and atheistic infidelity on the one hand, and of the pantheistic speculations on the other, which are the banes of the recent movements in science.

It seems apparent that the book has been enlarged, and the range of discussion widened, for the special purpose of dealing with these forms of scepticism. Among the other characteristics of this treatise which present themselves to a cursive examination may be noted the following:—

Dr. Hodge asserts that our knowledge of God is “intuitive,” and then argues for the proposition that there is a God. This argument, ignoring the usual theistic method in a manner rather marked, relies chiefly upon the ethical phenomena of the soul from which it reasons with unusual fulness and force.

Those who have had the privilege of Dr. Hodge’s conversation are aware that the denunciation of the claims of philosophy to be a true science has been rather a favourite topic with him and this opinion is not obscurely indicated in his theology. Yet we know of no standard Reformed treatise which makes so much use of philosophy, or contains so large a proportion of philosophical speculation.

The author, under many heads of divinity, displays the multifarious forms of error with more fulness than his own views of what is true.

If we might judge by the author’s citations in what directions his theological reading chiefly lay, we should conclude that German heresy, in its different forms, had received more of his attention than any other department, orthodox or heterodox Next would come the works of the continental Protestants Lutheran and Reformed. The teachers and leaders of Scotch and Scotch-Irish Presbyterianism are very scantily noticed; and so far as we now remember, there is not a single reference to the theology of the Anglican Church, or its great masters, to intimate that the author had ever heard of them. So American theology appears chiefly in the names of its heresiarchs, and for purposes of refutation.

Another marked peculiarity of the system is, the authority which it gives to the evangelical consensus of the children of God of all denominations, as presented in their hymnology, prayers and devotional writings, rather than their technical and controversial. The author seems to elevate this almost into an authoritative, Protestant tradition. Discarding the folly of an infallible tradition in the bishops, through an apostolic succession, his claims that true believers—not in virtue of any ritualism or sacramentarian superstition, but in virtue of their effectual calling-are all infallibly taught of God. Hence, so far as we can discriminate the true from the spurious believers, and eliminate the modifications induced on their spiritual consciousness by accidents of training and prejudice, we have in the consciousness common to them all a correct representation of revealed truth This source of authority, obviously, should be appealed to with great caution. That it cannot be made a “rule of faith,” coordinate with the sacred Scriptures, is very plain from this fact, that the parties to any debate would never agree as to the extent to which the qualifications which are stated above should be applied.

Since we have commended the general orthodoxy of this work, the points must of course be very few upon which we should feel constrained to dissent from the author’s conclusions. “We propose, with this cursory view of the merits of his work, to confine our remaining remarks to but two points of doctrine.

The first, considered by us in a single aspect, is a point, to our apprehension, both intricate and important, and we venture to dissent from Dr. Hodge with diffidence; the more, because his views are supported by not a few of the great Reformed divines. And indeed his statement and arguments on the point we design to bring into debate are, in some respects, safer and more moderate than theirs.

In Vol. II., pp. 254, 255, the specific seat of original sin in man is discussed. First, the erroneous doctrines are discarded which place it primarily in the body, or in our senses and animal appetites. The author then proceeds:—

“A third doctrine is, that the heart, considered as the seat of the affections, as distinguished from the understanding, is the seat of natural depravity. This doctrine is connected with the idea that all sin and holiness are forms of feeling or states of the affections. And it is made the ground on which the nature of regeneration and conversion, the relation between repentance and faith, and other points of practical theology, are explained. Everything is made to depend on the state of the feelings. Instead of the affections following the understanding, the understanding, it is said, follows the affections. A man understands and receives the truth only when he loves it. Regeneration is simply a change in the state of the affections, and the only inability under which sinners labour, as to the things of God, is disinclination.

In opposition to all these doctrines, Augustinianism, as held by the Lutheran and Reformed Churches, teaches that the whole man, soul and body, the higher as well as the lower, the intellectual as well as the emotional faculties of the soul, is affected by the corruption of our nature derived from our first parents.”

This extract not only presents the point we wish to debate, but gives us also a very characteristic specimen of Dr. Hodge’s method as a debater. Under an appearance of simple Saxon straightforwardness, he most adroitly modifies, and by modifying, disparages the view he designs to assault, and gains credit for his own by associating it with unquestioned truth, and claiming for it, with a quiet dogmatism, the uniform adhesion of the orthodox learned. He seems to suggest that his answer to the question, Where is the specific seat of depravity? is that of Augustinianism, that it is the soul; whereas, the view which he really argues is, that the ultimate seat and source of depravity is in the intellect, as distinguished from the will.

This is clear from the tenor of his arguments, as will appear. It is clear from his subsequent teaching on regeneration. Manifestly, wherever we place the ultimate seat or source of depravity, there also we must place the primary, quickening touch of regeneration. Now, in Vol. III., p. 17, while we find Dr. Hodge saying, “It is the soul which is spiritually dead; and it is to the soul that a new principle of life, controlling all its exercises, whether of the intellect, the sensibility, the conscience, or the will, is imparted,” we see him add these words:—

“In the order of nature, knowledge or spiritual discernment is antecedent and causatively related to all holy exercises of the feelings and affections.” These words disclose his real theory; and this is the theory which he really holds and argues in the place first cited; there coolly assuming that it is the theory of the Reformed Confessions and divines. These do indeed teach that “the whole man” is depraved, and that the soul, more specifically, is the seat of depravity; but we are yet to learn that they unanimously, or even generally, countenance this peculiar theory of Drs. Hodge, Alexander and Dick, which makes the intellect, as distinguished from the will, the ultimate source of depravity in man.

Take, by the way, this from a doctrinal declaration of the Reformed Church of France, at the National Synod of Alencon:—

“Nor doth he-only powerfully illuminate the understanding by the Holy Ghost. But by the effectual power of the same spirit of regeneration, he pierceth even into the inward recesses of their souls, openeth the heart, and infuseth new qualities into their will.” This plainly teaches that the evil habitus of the sinner’s will is not only distinct from the blindness of his understanding, but is a more interior evil. So the familiar words of our own Confession, on effectual calling, tell us that God not only “enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ,” but also “renews our wills.” The latter work, surely, is not a mere natural consequence of the former?

So when Dr. Hodge would describe the doctrine he seeks to overthrow, he suggests that its advocates believe the soul is depraved or regenerated, not as a monad, but by parts or faculties. They hold no such thing; they only dissent from his order of causation between the soul’s respective faculties in their depraved or their sanctified actings. He represents them as reducing all sin and holiness to “forms of feeling or states of the affections.” What they really teach is, that sin or holiness, in its last analysis, is a wrong or a right habitus (not consuetude merely) of the will; which habitus is the rudimental cause, or regulative principle of all the “forms of feeling.” He charges:—

Upon them that the “only inability” they can consistently hold is “disinclination” to the things of God. They hold that the root of inability is in this hostile habitus of the will, out of which as a source all “disinclinations” to duty arise; and that blindness of mind is also a consequent part of the sinner’s inability, so real as to require divine grace to remove it. Is not this the analysis of the best and greatest of the Reformed divines, as Turretin?

But we beg leave to re-state our view in our own way, instead of Dr. Hodge’s. The soul is a unit, a monad, not constituted, as material things are, of parts or members, but endowed with faculties which are distinct modes of its indivisible activity. These, according to the psychology of the Bible and of common sense, fall into the three divisions of intelligence, will and sensibility—the latter class being passive powers. By the word “will,” in this discussion, we mean, not the specific power of volition, but that which the Reformed divines and our Confession mean by it, the whole active powers of man’s spontaneity; what Sir William Hamilton terms “the conative powers”; i. e., the whole faculty of active desire and purpose.

While the soul is simply passive only in its sensibilities, and its functions of intelligence are its own self-directed functions, yet it is by its will, or conative powers, that it is an agent, or puts forth its spontaneity.

Now, the soul is depraved as a soul, and is regenerated as a soul; not by patches or parts, seeing it has no parts. But we conceive that this obvious fact is entirely consistent with the proposition, that sin (or holiness) affects the soul as to one of its faculties more primarily than the others. And let us remark here once for all, that it is entirely inconsistent in Dr. Hodge, to object the simplicity of the soul to those who think, with us, that sin affects the soul rudimentally in the faculty of will, and consequentially in those of understanding and sensibility, when he himself teaches, vice versa, that sin affects it rudimentally in the faculty of intelligence, and consequentially in those of will and sensibility. For, if the fact that the soul is a unit refutes us, it equally refutes him. Both opinions would in that case be out of the question equally, and the debate impossible. Again:—

Dr. Hodge, and those who think with him, dwell much on the complexity of the soul’s acts, as involving at once two or more of its faculties or modes of function. They tell us that an act of understanding accompanies every act of desire or choice. True. But they themselves go on to assert a relation of causation between the intellective element and the conative element, as to the production or rise of the concrete act of soul. Why, then, may not we assign a causative relation to the one or the other of these two elements, as to the moral quality of that concrete act of soul? “We shall find the divines we indicate (as Chalmers, A. Alexander and Hodge), when hardly bestead to sustain their peculiar views on this point, resorting very freely to the statements, that the soul is a unit; that it is depraved or regenerated as a unit; that it acts as a unit; that it performs one concrete function often through two or more faculties, which act, not separately as members, but only distinguishably as modes of function. We repeat, all this is granted; but it is irrelevant. For it would, if it proved anything in the case, as much preclude the one causative order as the other. It would be as unreasonable to say “the understanding guides the will,” as to say “the will sways the understanding.” Let this be remembered.

We have thus disencumbered the issue which we wish to examine. It is this:—

In defining depravity, are we to place the rudimentary element of the sinful nature in the blinded understanding misleading the spontaneity, and thus qualifying the soul as a whole morally evil? Such is the view of the divines named.

Or, are we to find it rudimentally in the perverted habitus of the will, causatively corrupting and blinding the understanding, and thus qualifying the soul as a whole morally evil? Such is our understanding of the Scriptures and of the Reformed theology. The question is, as we shall see, not a mere psychological curiosity, but has important consequences. If the opinion of Dr. Hodge is correct, then regeneration is primarily illumination, and secondarily and consequentially, revolution of will. If our opinion is right, then regeneration is rudimentally and causatively revolution of will, and consequentially illumination.

And, moreover, if Dr. Hodge’s opinion is the true one, it would be more consistent for him to teach with Dr. A. Alexander (Thoughts on Religious Experience, Chap. VI.), and with Dr. Dick (Lecture 66), or even with Claude Pajon of the French Church, that the Holy Ghost operates only mediately, through the truth, in revolutionizing the will. If our opinion is the true one, then it is consistent to teach, with the French Reformed, and the whole current of the great Reformed divines, that the Holy Ghost operates not only mediately, but also immediately and supernaturally, in revolutionizing the will. On this point Dr. Hodge is in one place (Vol. III., p. 17), consistently erroneous, as it appears to us; but in Vol. II., under the head of “Efficacious Grace,” he emphatically and largely teaches what is inconsistently correct. For he there asserts a regeneration by immediate grace in the strongest and most satisfactory form, and even declares himself almost ready to say with Owen, against Dr. Alexander and the Reformed European divines, that it is a “physical’’ effect of supernatural grace.

But that we may do no injustice, let us distinguish. Among those who explain depravity and regeneration by the theory that the understanding universally leads the will, there appear to be four grades of opinion.

The lowest is that of the Pelagian, who denies all evil habitus of will, regards regeneration as a mere self-determination to a new purpose of living, and holds that it is wrought simply by the moral suasion of the truth. This virtually leaves out the Holy Ghost. The second is that of the semi-Pelagian, who holds that the will is not indeed dead in sin, but that it is greatly corrupted by evil desires, cares of this world, bad example, and evil habits, [ consuetudines, not habitus] . Hence gospel truth never engages the soul’s attention strongly enough to exert an efficacious moral suasion, until the Holy Ghost calms and fixes the mind upon it by his gracious, suasive influence. The truth, thus gaming access to the soul, regenerates it.

The third class, disclaiming all semi-Pelagianism, bold that the truth ought to, and would control the will, if clearly and fully seen; but that, in virtue of the natural blindness of the understanding, which they regard as the source of depravity, the truth cannot be thus seen until the mind is divinely illuminated; and this illumination, a true, gracious, spiritual and efficacious work, is regeneration. As soon as that is done, the truth spiritually seen revolutionizes the will by its natural power; for the will must always follow the prevalent dictate of the understanding. Such was most probably the scheme of Claude Pajon. The fourth class is that of Dr. Alexander, Dr. Dick, and we presume, of Dr. Hodge. Holding that the rudiments of our depravity are in the blinded understanding primarily, and in the perverted will derivatively, they also hold that illumination is regeneration; but they add that, in order for this illumination, a supernatural operation on the mind itself is necessary. And that operation is the causative source of conversion. This distinguishes their scheme from that of Pajon. This also saves their orthodoxy; yet, we repeat, it seems to us an inconsistent orthodoxy in one particular. We ask them:—

Is that immediate operation of the Holy Ghost—that prerequisite of illumination—the sovereign and immediate revolution in the habitus of the will? And they answer, No; for that would imply the view which we hold, and they disclaim it, as to the radical source of moral quality in the soul. What then is the operation?

They reply:—

We do not know; it is inscrutable, being back of consciousness. But to us it appears, that if illumination of the understanding is the whole direct efficiency of the Holy Ghost in regeneration, it is more natural and consistent to stop where Pajon stops, with a mediate conversion through the truth.

The second doctrinal application must be to determine the nature of faith. If intellectual blindness is the ultimate trait of depravity, and supernatural illumination is the essential work of regeneration, then faith, which is the characteristic action of the soul as regenerated and instrumental organ of its redemption, must be a simple belief of the truth. But if our view is held, then regeneration is primarily a sovereign, immediate revolution of the will (having illumination as its divine attendant), and faith is a receiving and resting upon Christ for salvation. Dr. Alexander is thoroughly consistent. He says boldly:—

Yes, saving faith, separated from its adjuncts, is simple belief of truth. It differs from historical faith, saith he, not in the nature of the function of mind, but in the degree of strength with which the mind of the renewed man grasps the gospel truth. The man of dead faith accepts intellectually the same truths which sanctify and save the believer, but with too unsteady a grasp. When he is reminded that man “believeth with the heart unto righteousness,” and that the gospel’s essential proposal is rather of spiritual good to the choice than of speculative truth to the assent, he resorts again to his “plea that the soul is a monad. Intelligence and choice, he argues, are but two modes of function of this unit soul. May not the two functions be differentiated only objectively? There is no moral appetency or choice without intelligence. May not all the difference between the soul seeing and the soul choosing be the objective difference? May not the function of intelligence be as essentially a moral one, as that of appetency and choice; be, in fact, the same function? This strikes us as exceedingly subtle and ingenious. Indeed, he stands, to our apprehension, unrivalled in such acumen. But it is erroneous. The soul is one; yet its modes of function are truly more than one; and they are differentiated subjectively, as well as objectively; truly, as well as seemingly. An apparatus to measure caloric is a thermometer. An apparatus to measure moisture is a hygrometer. The latter could not become a thermometer merely by being .applied to the measurement of caloric. The difference of the two objects is great enough to require an essential difference of mode in measuring the two. So it is obvious to common sense and to consciousness, “that while moral desire and choice are intelligent, choice and desire are not intellection, and intellection is not choice. The evasion is vain; and Dr. Alexander’s definition of faith as simply belief of truth, while consistent with his and Dr. Hodge’s premises, is defective and unscriptural. Here we might appeal to the arguments usually advanced by theological text-books, to show that, according to the Scriptures, faith is an act of the soul performed both by the will and the intelligence; but to the well-informed reader it would be superfluous.

Dr. Hodge, on this point, departs from the teaching of his venerable predecessor with a fortunate inconsistency. In defining faith, he tells us, first, that the rudimental idea of the word, in both the sacred languages, is trust; secondly, that religious faith, in its generic aspect, is conviction of the truth on divine testimony; and, thirdly, that saving faith is, specifically, both assenting to and embracing the gospel promise on the authority of that testimony. We give, not his precise words, but his abbreviated thought.

The third point of doctrine involved in this debate is the relation of faith and repentance. If the rudimental element of depravity is blindness of mind, and regeneration is primarily illumination, then faith should be defined as assent to gospel truth simply, and repentance should be defined as the consequence of saving faith, and invariably subsequent to it. To this last point Dr. Hodge would assent. But if our scheme is the true one, that depravity is rudimentally a perverted habitus of will accompanied by a consequent blinding of the mind, and regeneration is primarily an almighty revolution of the will resulting in illumination, then faith is a “receiving and resting upon Christ for salvation,” (“with the heart man believeth unto righteousness,”) and meta>noia, or a turning of the heart from sin to God, is implicitly involved in the specific act of saving faith. And this we believe to be the teaching of the Scriptures. Let us not be misunderstood; we know that every moral emotion implies, as its condition, a corresponding act of intelligence; so that there can be no godly sorrow in the heart where there is no light in the head. “We suppose that what Dr. Hodge calls “generic faith,” conviction of truth on divine testimony, is implied as a priori in evangelical repentance. But, on the other hand, some affection of godly sorrow is implied in the specific action of saving faith embracing Christ for salvation. For saving faith receives his salvation, not as a speculative truth to be assented to, but a spiritual good to be embraced. Will the soul embrace it, except as it values and desires it? Surely not. Hence this appetency of the will for salvation prompts the faith. And what is this appetency but meta>noia ? For, as our Confession hath it, faith embraceth Christ “as he is offered to us in the gospel.” But he is offered to us as a Saviour from sin. He who embraces him must do it, therefore, because, feeling sin to be an evil per se, he desires deliverance from it, and not from its penalty merely. But that feeling, we repeat, is meta>noia , at least in rudiment. It thus appears that the essential difference between saving faith on the one hand, and historical or temporary faith on the other, is, that the first has repentance implicit in it as its a priori condition. When we say this, we do not at all deny that faith also reciprocally stimulates repentance. Nor do we deny that from the moment faith begins to work, hope, gratitude and love, in view of the cross, become new and powerful incentives to repentance, and thenceforward characterize it with new tenderness. Such seems to us to be the representation of the Scriptures. See those numerous places in the Old Testament, where “to turn” (שוב) is the instrumental condition of salvation (as “believe” is in the New Testament), as Ezekiel 18:32; Jeremiah 31:19. See also those like Acts 2:38, where the apostles seem to be as willing to answer the question, What must be done in order to be saved? with “Repent,” as with “Believe.” How are these answers to be explained? Are there two different ways for sinners to be saved? Surely not. Then, repentance and faith must be much nearer the same thing than those represent them who make repentance an emotion, and faith a mental conviction. We can only explain them by saying, that both involve a function of the regenerate will, and that repentance is implicit of faith. Again, is it not significant that, in so many places where the two are mentioned, repentance is named first? Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38 (“baptism for remission” expressing faith); Acts 5:31; 20:21. Lastly:—

The Scriptures expressly speak of faith as prompted by repentance, or as conditioned on it. Matthew 21:32:—

“And ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” So in 2 Timothy 2:25:—

“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” So, again, God traces the unbelief, which is the opposite of faith, to the hatred of the good as its cause. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; and Romans 1:28. That hatred is the opposite of repentance.

We may be reminded that it is a peculiarity of the Arminian theology, that they make repentance precede faith in the order of production. This is true; but they make both repentance and faith precede regeneration; and therein is the dangerous feature. Let us say, with the Scriptures, that repentance and faith are both the exercises of a regenerate soul, and of none other; this danger will then be gone.

Having thus shown the theological results of the question under debate, we return to it in order to present the more immediate arguments, logical and scriptural, for our view of that question. The sketch which we have presented, of its bearings upon the four doctrines of original sin, regeneration, faith and repentance, contained, unavoidably, several anticipations of these arguments. The careful reader will be able to make the application of them for himself; and we will avoid repetition of them as far as is practicable.

When we distribute the powers of the soul under their three heads of intellect, will and sensibility, it seems obvious to mature reflection, that depravity and holiness have their primary seat in the will, as related to the intellect and sensibility, rather than in the intellect as related to the will. It is the soul, and not a faculty separate from the soul, which is depraved or sanctified; yet ‘this diseased or healthy state of soul qualifies it as to its function of spontaneity primarily, and of intellect and sensibility consequentially.

In support of this, we advance this simple argument:—

By its function of intelligence the soul sees; by its will it acts. Some philosophers have disputed the justice of our making the conative powers the active powers of the soul; and they say that the soul as truly acts in conceiving, or judging, as in desiring or choosing. This is ambiguous. True, the soul, in conceiving and judging, is per forming a function, of its own; but it is not therein intrinsically exerting its spontaneity.

The sophism is here:—

When the soul conceives or judges, there is an exercise of its spontaneity, oftentimes, in directing its attention by will to a particular object of conception or judgment. But that directing of the attention is not strictly cognition; it is a function of the conative powers accompanying cognition. Set aside this, and it will be evident to any man who examines his own consciousness, that cognition is not an act of the soul in the sense in which the conative functions are; and that is the sense of this argument. Now, does not common sense teach us, that moral responsibility attaches to those acts and states of soul which it puts forth from itself, by its spontaneity, more primarily than to those with which it is affected by causes out of itself?

Dr. Hodge, in one place, attempts to show that moral responsibility does not primarily qualify our acts of spontaneity, but rather our acts of intelligence, by this view:—

Brutes and maniacs have spontaneity, but they have no moral quality. Why? Because their spontaneity is irrational. It is only when you have intelligence guiding spontaneity that you find moral quality.

We reply:—

The fact is as alleged. The presence of intelligence is a condition requisite to moral action.

But that this is short of proving the intelligence to be the primary seat of the moral quality appears very simply thus:—

The presence of conative power is also a condition requisite to moral action. Dr. Hodge would doubtless admit that a mere power of conceiving notions, without dispositions, preference or choice, could not be a person at all, nor have character. Yet Dr. Hodge would not admit that the conative function was the seat of the moral character.

Now, we ask:—

What is it that completes our idea of personality? It is will. Cognition, merely as such, abstracted from acts of voluntary attention—which may, or may not attend it—is an involuntary function. Witness the fact that multitudes of precepts and concepts affect our minds without any movement of desire or volition whatever, the former from objective sources, the latter from the instinctive law of suggestion. This is the decisive feature which, according to common sense, forbids our regarding the cognitive acts of the soul as those by which it is primarily qualified with moral character.

This naturally introduces to our notice another attempt which our author makes to argue his view, from the fact that men are morally responsible for their opinions and beliefs. He says, that to make the will the primary seat of moral character involves the vicious conclusion, that intellectual belief is irresponsible—a proposition contrary to all Scripture and sound ethics. This instance, when examined, will be found against him. The truth is, that some of our opinions and beliefs are morally indifferent; for many of them we are strictly responsible. And these last are precisely the opinions which involve a moral element. No man becomes more virtuous by ascertaining that the two angles at the base of an isosceles triangle are equal. But a man does become more vicious by persuading himself that trust, obedience and gratitude towards Christ are not his duty. Now, when the sceptic comes and argues that he is not responsible for any opinion heartily adopted, because intellectual conviction is the involuntary consequence of evidence seen, how do we refute him? By showing that no morally erroneous conviction could he heartily established, without an immoral, voluntary cause. This is the true, analytic answer to his licentious inference! So that these very cases confirm our view,—that the moral character of our intellectual convictions, of which many do have such character, has its source in the voluntary states and acts of the soul.

The view we contest, on the other hand, seems to endanger the destruction of our responsibility, by making sin an involuntary result of intellectual conditions. For such are man’s moral intuitions, that if he is taught that a certain action was the regular, certain and involuntary result of a mental view with which neither disposition nor choice could have anything to do, in such a sense that, the mental view being what it was, the action must still have inevitably been what it was, no matter how right the feelings, disposition and choice may have been, he will certainly answer, “Then the agent cannot be blameable.”

Dr. Alexander criticizes those who argue our conclusion from the assertion that the action of the will is moral, and that of the intellect is not, and who call the will the “moral faculty” in man. He remarks very correctly, that this is erroneous, that neither intellect nor will is the “moral faculty” in man; for not one in a hundred of the acts of either have properly any moral character. The ratio is probably stated too strongly. He then adds that there is a third faculty, which alone deserves to be called “the moral faculty;” and that is conscience. We conceive that Dr. Alexander might have increased the plausibility of this part of his argument very much, by proceeding to argue, as he does in his Moral Science, that conscience, so far as it is a judging faculty, and distinguished from its emotional element, which is secondary, is itself a function of the intelligence—a rational function. He might then have put his conclusion thus:—

“Conscience is the true and only moral faculty in man. But the judgments of conscience—the rudimental part of its function—are rational; therefore the reason is the true seat of sin or holiness.” This would have been consistent.

Yet it would have laid him open to this refutation, which is also implicitly in his own statement:—

That therefore the moral goodness of a good man is primarily in this, that he has a true conscience; and the moral badness of a bad man primarily in this, that he has a false conscience.

That is:—

It would follow from Dr. Alexander’s view, that the opposite moral states of the two men were primarily in their opposite moral judgments. But now, it is not true that good and bad men always, or even generally, have opposite moral judgments. The two men probably have the same judgments of conscience in the main; and the difference mainly is, that the good man obeys, and the bad man disobeys those common judgments. It is true that conscience is the faculty which is our moral guide; but then our moral quality as persons is in our conformity or enmity to that guidance. What is it, in us, that is conformed or opposed to that guidance? Primarily, the will. And this brings our debate, it appears to us, up to that scriptural test which is the decisive one. It so happens that the Holy Ghost has given us an exact definition of the idea of sin. ἡ ἁμαρτία Αστιν ἡ ἀνομία, (1 John 3:4), which our catechism imitates.

The νόμος, the standard, is, first, the law of our moral nature written on our hearts by our Creator; and, secondly, his revealed precepts taught to our intellects. The sin consists, according to John, in lack of conformity to that standard. We repeat the question:—

What is it in sinful man which is not conformed to that standard?

Every sinner’s consciousness answers:—

Partially the reason, but chiefly and primarily the will, and thence consequentially, the animal appetites and bodily members.

The soul has three classes of powers:—

The intellectual, the conative and the passive sensibilities. These last are passive powers—susceptibilities, rather than faculties; hence the root of sin cannot be primarily in them; for they are acted on, rather than act. The first, the intellectual powers, by their moral judgments, furnish us the standard of reference; and our rational intuitions are, that so far as conscience, the rational faculty applied to moral objects, accompanied with its peculiar sentiment of approbation and disapprobation, is correctly informed by God’s precepts, and is not misinformed by the will, this conscience is the correct and the imperative standard of right and wrong. There remains, then, the second class of powers, the conative, the will; in which must be found the spring of personal, moral character; of good character, if the will is conformed, of bad character, if it is opposed to the rational standard.

This scriptural view is confirmed by one remark:—

Let any one collect as many as he can of those acts of men to which the Scriptures and theologians appeal as a posteriori proofs of native depravity, and he will find that they all fall under this common predication, that in them the will opposes itself obstinately to the soul’s own moral judgments.

This, in fine, is the analytic statement of that universal fact in which the moral disorder and ruin of man’s soul manifests itself.

The reasonings which we have attempted to answer seem to us to involve this illusion:—

That because man is a reasonable agent, his spontaneity is but a modification of his reason. But is this so? Is not this sufficiently refuted by the fact which Dr. Hodge cites against us, that other creatures have a spontaneity which have no reason? In truth, spontaneity is an ultimate fact of human consciousness, and an ultimate power of the soul, as much so as reason. It is coördinate in primariness and simplicity with the power of reason. It has its own original habitus, its “disposition,” which re-acts on the reason as truly as it is acted on.

Against this view some may cry out:—

“Then the action of a man’s spontaneity might be no more a rational action than the pulsation of his heart!”

We reply:—

The instance is unfair, because the will is not a separate member, like that muscle called “heart” in the body; but it is a mode of function of the soul, a spiritual unit. And that soul which wills is a rational unit; so that all action of will is the action of a rational agent. But we concede that spontaneity is sometimes unconsciously irrational; and that is lunacy.

Oftentimes it is contra-rational; and that is sinfulness. Sometimes, by God’s grace, we find it truly conformed to reason; and that is holiness.

But the favourite plea of the fathers who differ from us is, that it is the recognized doctrine of all sound philosophers, that the will follows the prevalent judgment of the intellect. They say:—

“Man feels as his mind sees; the view of the mind therefore must direct or govern the feeling; and the prevalent last judgment must decide the will.” It is from this statement Dr. Hodge infers that depravity and holiness must be ultimately traced to the intellect; Dr. Dick infers that the revolution of the will, in effectual calling, is the natural effect of true illumination; and Dr. Alexander infers that a faith which is simply full conviction of the truth is all we need to make the soul embrace salvation and duty.

This psychological law we fully admit:—

It is what defines man as a reasonable agent. That is, granted that the prevalent judgment of the intellect be of a given nature on a specific subject, then the feeling and choice of the soul on that subject will of course correspond. But the analysis stops one step too short. Whence the kind of view and judgment which the intellect is found to have on that given subject? Is it always of a purely intellectual origin? This is tacitly assumed, but erroneously. Let the subject be one of a moral nature, involving an object of choice or desire, and it will be found that there the heart has taught the head; the opinion is the echo of the disposition; the power of spontaneity, coordinate with that of intelligence, has announced its own original habitus.

Let us explain:—

A child tastes experimentally, candies, sweetmeats, honey, sugar. In each case his palate is gratified.

On this similarity of power to gratify the palate his mind constructs a generalization, forms the class of “sweet things,” and concludes the general judgment:—

“Sweet things are good.” Now, this general judgment may be as truly and purely accounted an intellectual process as the arithmetical one that a larger subtrahend must make a smaller remainder. And it may be said that in every subsequent desire and purpose to seek the “sweet things,” the child’s will follows this intellectual judgment. Very true. And yet it is none the less true, that the judgment is itself a generalization of a series of acts of appetency—the mere echo of the instinctive verdict of an animal appetite. So that in its last analysis, the causation of the choice is traced up, through the intellect, to a law of the spontaneity.

We shall be reminded that the instance we have chosen gives us only an animal appetite, a phenomenon of animal spontaneity; whereas the thing in debate is moral emotion and choice, which is always rational emotion and choice. This we fully admit, and we advance the instance only for an illustration. Perhaps it is a clumsy one. But has not the will as real, and as original, appetencies as the palate? When we call the former rational, moral desires, what do we mean? That disposition is nothing but a modification of thought? We apprehend that our meaning is this:—

The intellect is the faculty by which we conceive the object of the moral appetency; as in the case of the animal appetite, the nerves of sensation are the medium by which we perceive the sweet object. Yet in the moral phenomenon there is an original disposition, of will, which is as truly a spiritual appetency as the bodily appetite is an animal appetency. If we are correct in this, we shall find that the judgments generalized in the mind, as to the desirableness of moral good or evil, however purely intellectual, when abstracted from their source, are yet but the echoes of the original, or regenerated appetencies of the will; Let us now apply this analysis to the sinner’s conversion. Why does the renewed sinner embrace Christ as a Saviour from sin, by his faith; and new obedience instead of sin, by his repentance? Because his understanding, illuminated by grace, now judges clearly that salvation and new obedience are not only the obligatory, but the preferable good. Such is our brethren’s answer; and we fully assent. Were it not so, the new choice would not be rational, and so not spiritual.

But now, one question more:—

How came this illuminated intellect to judged the salvation from sin, and the new obedience, the preferable; good, when the original, native disposition of the will was to prefer the sin and dislike the obedience? It was only because; the Holy Ghost sovereignly revolutionized the disposition of will.

This was the primary cause; illumination the immediate:—

Consequence; and faith and repentance the practical result.

Thus the profound Pascal, (Pensees, Ire Partie., Sec. III.):—

“God alone can put divine truths into the soul, and by the model which pleases him. I know he hath willed them to enter from the heart into the mind, and not from the mind into the heart; in order to humble the proud power of reasoning, which presumes to be judge of the things the will chooses, and in order to heal this infirm will, which has wholly corrupted itself by its unworthy attachments. And hence it results, that while, in speaking of human affairs, men say:—

One must know in order to love, which hath passed into a proverb; the saints on the contrary say, in speaking of divine things:— 

“One must love in order to know.” 

But the decisive appeal should be, not to philosophy, but to , the Scriptures. These would seem to sustain our view in a multitude of places, where sin and depravity are traced to an “evil heart,” a “hardened heart”; and holiness to a “pure heart”; or where regeneration is a cleansing of the heart, a giving of a fleshly heart. But we are reminded that the Hebrews, and after them the New Testament writers, used the word “heart” in a comprehensive sense, equivalent to that of “soul,” or “inner man.” We are pointed to the numerous places in which the functions’’ of intellect are referred to the “heart,” as in the phrases, “an understanding heart”; “blindness of heart”; “thoughts of the heart”; “laying up ( scil., a remembrance) in the heart.” Thus it is sought to prove that all the declarations of the Scriptures about “a good or an evil heart,” may mean no more than a good or an evil mind, or soul. Now, upon this class of passages we remark, that the word “heart” is used with great frequency in the Scriptures. Its first literal meaning is, the corporeal organ; and its first tropical or immaterial meaning is, the feelings, desires, and volitions of the soul. Thence it means, secondly, the “inner man,” regarded from the point of view of that which is invisible, enclosed within, as the bodily organ is. Thus, in 1 Peter 3:4:—

“Let the adorning [of the Christian woman] be the hidden man of the heart.” Thirdly, “heart” hence comes to mean soul, the spirit which feels; and it has this meaning often when the soul’s cognitive function is the thing predicated. But it should be noted, that this occurs usually when, the subject of thought is moral; as in the classical text.

God saw that “every imagination of the thought of mans heart was evil.” Now, the extensive use of the word “heart” for “soul,” the agent which feels and thinks, must certainly be explained by admitting an intimate relation between these two faculties; and a relation especially intimate when the objects of thought and feeling are moral. But does this fact authorize our brethren to say that the Scriptures intend to assign right thought as the source of right feeling, instead of the reverse? Hardly. “Were we to seize upon this phrase, “a feeling mind,” in their writings, to prove that they meant to teach that feeling is the source of intellect, they would demur. Then, the counterpart phrase, “a thinking heart,” does not imply that thought is the source of feeling. It only implies an intimate relation of the powers of thought and feeling.

But there are Scriptures which not only do this, but do also assign an order; and with reference to moral objects, the order of relation is from the heart to the head. Here we claim all the texts already cited touching the relation of repentance to faith. We claim also Mark 3:5, where Jesus disapproved the Pharisees’ theory of Sabbath observance; and this because he was “grieved at the hardness of their heart.”

So, in Ephesians 4:18:—

Gentiles “have the understanding (διανοίᾳ) darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness (or hardness, πώρωσις) of their heart.” Here the apostle distinctly traces sinful ignorance to the heart for its source. Nor can this be evaded by saying that heart here means “soul,” “mind;” for this would be flagrantly violent exegesis.

“When the apostle has designedly introduced, distinct reference to the state of the cognitive faculty by his own most discriminative word, διανοίᾳ, and then evidently designs to refer to the conative faculties of the soul by the recognized word! for them, χαρδίαν, will any one say he shall not teach what he aims to teach? Had he still meant “understanding,” we presume he would have still said “διανοίᾳ” in the last member of the verse. Permit such interpretation, and next we shall meet this fate, viz.:—

Τhat when we are trying our best to say that, in spiritual things, “the heart leads the head,” we shall be told:—

“No, you do not mean that; you use the word ‘heart* in the comprehensive sensed of ‘ soul’; you mean that the head leads the head!”

We are also referred to many passages where, as our brethren’ understand them, regeneration is described as illumination, and depravity as blindness. “To turn them from darkness to light.” “God,” says Paul, “was pleased to reveal his Son in me.” “The eyes of the understanding being enlightened.” “Sanctify them through thy truth.” “Renewed in knowledge after the image,” etc. “God hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” “We reply that regeneration doubtless includes illumination, as an essential and glorious part thereof. But it is a different thing to say that regeneration is only illumination. Should we force these Scriptures to assert the latter, we should only make the Bible contradict itself, when it describes a quickening or revolutionizing work of divine grace, which is in order to illumination, and therefore prior in causation.

We are thus led back to that application of our theory which is at once its best illustration and most important use; its bearing upon the doctrine that the Holy Ghost in regeneration operates, not only mediately through the “Word, but also immediately and supernaturally. This Drs. Hodge and Alexander stoutly and sincerely assert, along with all sound Calvinists. What we claim is, that we can assert it more consistently than they, with their peculiar theory of sin and holiness. For, to repeat, if sin has its rudimental seat in the intellect, then the quickening “which begins the conversion from sin must operate in the same place. If blindness of mind is the radical source of moral error, light is the proper remedy; and that light is revealed truth. That blindness too is spiritual blindness, for the sinner is not a lunatic; he is in possession of his natural faculties, and can perceive secular and scientific, and even some moral truths.

From this point of view, it appears to us, the theory of Claude Pajon that the Holy Ghost needs to operate only through the truth, in producing spiritual vision, is more consistent than the orthodox one of Drs.

Alexander and Hodge. Dr. Alexander, referring to Psalm 119:18:—”Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” justly remarks, that two things are needed to effectuate actual vision in a blinded eye:—first, the surgeon’s agency restoring the faculty of vision; and, secondly, the presence of light, the proper medium. Now this is a just thing for us to say, but not for him; because he cannot explain what it is that the spiritual surgery needs to remove from the intellect in order to the admission of the light. For he does not hold to a corruption of will as cause of the darkening of the mind.

The theory of Pajon, and its rejection by the Reformed divines, are so instructive in this connection that we beg leave to state it more fully. Chaufepie (Historical and Critical Dictionary) gives full and authentic explanations, often in the words of that distinguished divine. Pajon repudiated the phrase, “mediate operation,” which his adversaries applied to his doctrine, and preferred to state it thus:—”Regeneration is one sole and the same act, which should be referred to the Holy Ghost as principal cause, and to the Word, and other means of grace, as organs, of which he serves himself to act on us.” In a private conference with the distinguished J. Claude, Messrs. Lenfant and de La Bastide, in Paris, Pajon explained himself in the following propositions:—
  1. Men are born sinners. 
  2. This original sin is strengthened by all actual transgressions, until God converts them. 
  3. This corruption is too deep for any sinner to be converted, without efficacious grace working in him to will and to do. 
  4. The efficacy of this grace is not dependent on the self-determination of the man, but is in the grace itself, and is invincible. 
  5. This grace is not merely an exterior, but an interior light, penetrating the understanding, necessarily filling it with knowledge of the true good, which knowledge necessarily leads the will from the world to God. 
  6. Although this grace is invincible, yet the conversion which it works is a movement of the man’s free-will; because the will is drawn or necessitated to follow the gospel precepts only by this gracious knowledge of our true good. So that it is possible the man might resist it if he chose; but it is impossible that when this grace is applied he shall choose to resist. 
  7. In giving us this knowledge of our true good, which necessarily works our conversion, the Holy Ghost usually employs the ministry of the word; which is for that reason called the “seed of our regeneration” and “ministration of the Holy Ghost.” 
  8. Besides the word, God also employs providential means (as e. g., good examples, chastisements, removals of temptation, etc.), all of which, along with the word, God so dispensed as to make them efficacious organs, in each given case, of conversion. 
It was this statement of Pajon from which M. Claude and his friends, after mature reflection, dissented, as virtually involving the Pelagian errors of moral suasion, mediate foreknowledge, and universal call; and as contrary to those Scriptures which, like Acts 16:14; Psalm 119:18; Ephesians 1:17, 18, teach that God performs on the heart an immediate sovereign work, which is in order to the entrance of saving truth.

Two or three Provincial Synods, the government not allowing any National Synod to meet, joined in this condemnation. We add to this point, so justly taken, these other testimonies:—

Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:26, 27; Luke 24:45.

We argue, secondly, against this conception of depravity and regeneration, and in favour of the immediate agency of the Holy Ghost, that were the former scheme true, even as set forth by Dr. Dick, faith would be in order to the regeneration of the will. However he might eliminate any sequence of time, if “this gracious knowledge necessarily leads the will from the world to God,” it remains clear, that faith as cause must precede this first renewal of the will. But the Scriptures make faith the fruit of renewal.

Thirdly. The analytical exposure of the absurdity of the Pelagian scheme, regeneration by moral suasion, results ultimately in this, namely:—

Τhat the state of disposition determines a priori whether any given object presented to the soul shall be of the nature of objective inducement or not. Moral suasion is that influence over the will which objects of natural or moral excellence presented from without are supposed to have as inducements to right feeling and choice. Now, any object whatsoever is not inducement to any being -whatsoever. One cannot attract a hungry horse with bacon, nor a hungry man with hay. Whether the object shall be inducement depends upon its relation to the existing appetency of the being to be influenced. And that state of appetency is obviously related, as cause, to the influence of the inducement as occasion. Hence, if the sinner’s will is naturally indisposed and disabled to all spiritual good, that good cannot exert moral suasion over that will, for the simple reason that the effect cannot reverse its own cause. Such is the argument, and it is exhaustive.

But now, who does not see that this analysis proceeds upon our theory:—

Τhat the will has its own disposition, original, characteristic? If the habitus of the will is nothing else than a modification of the intelligence, and the sinner’s intellect is adequate to the mere intellectual apprehension of moral truth, as it is, we see no reason why moral suasion might not be expected to “lead the will necessarily from the world to God.”

Fourthly. Dr. Hodge expounds, with peculiar force and fulness, the solemn fact that there is a “common grace” of the Holy Ghost (which is not “common sufficient grace”) convincing men of sin and misery up to a certain grade, but not renewing them. Now this partial, spiritual light in unrenewed minds must be correct light as far as it goes, for it is the Spirit’s. Yet it does not even partially subdue the enmity of those minds to God and duty. The usual effect is to inflame it. See Romans 7:8, 9. It appears, then, that light, without immediate grace revolutionizing the will, does not effect the work. Nor is the evasion just, that this conviction of duty inflames the carnal enmity, only because depravity has made it a distorted and erroneous view of duty. We assert that convicted but unrenewed souls fight against God and duty, not because he is misconceived, but because he begins to be rightly conceived. There is of course distortion of mental view concerning him as long as sin reigns; but he is now feared and hated, not only because of that error of view; rather is he the more feared and hated because the sinful soul now begins to see him with less error, as a sovereign, holy, just, pure Being.

Fifthly. “We infer the same view of sin and. new birth from the regeneration of infants. They cannot be renewed by illumination, because their intellects are undeveloped. Yet they are renewed. Now we grant that there is a wide difference in the circumstances and means of their redemption and that of adults. Yet are they delivered from a state of original sin generically the same with ours, and delivered by the same Redeemer and Sanctifier. Must not the method of the renewing power be the same intrinsically?

Lastly. This view gives us a consistent rationale of that impotency of the natural man to receive the things of the Spirit of God, which are foolishness unto him, described in 1 Corinthians 2:14, and elsewhere.

This impotency too plainly exists. Dr. Dick cannot define wherein it consists. See his sixty-sixth Lecture.

Does it consist in the absence of any substantive revelation which the believer gains? No; this would be perilous fanaticism. Does it consist in the hiding of any esoteric sense of the Word, to which the believer has the key? No; this would be Origenism. Does it consist in the loss of a cognitive faculty by the fall?

No; that would suspend his responsibility. Whence this impotency? They have no answer.

But we have one. The will has its own habitus, regulative of all its fundamental acts, which is not a mere modification of the intelligence, but its own coordinate, original character; a simple, ultimate fact of the moral constitution. Hence an inter-action of will and intellect. On moral and spiritual subjects the practical generalizations of the intellect are founded on the dictates of the disposition of the will. But now, these practical judgments of the sinner’s understanding, prompted by the carnal disposition, contradict certain propositions which are premises to the most important gospel conclusions and precepts. No wonder, then, that such a mind cannot apprehend them as reasonable. For example:—

The sinner’s real opinion, taught by a carnal heart, is, that sin in itself, apart from its penalty, which self-love apprehends as an evil, would be the preferred good. A gospel is now explained to him, proposing deliverance from this sin, through the instrumentality of faith. But the plan postulates the belief that the sin is per se so great an evil that deliverance from it is a good greatly to be desired! No wonder, then, that as this postulate breaks upon the understanding of the sinner, he is obfuscated, stumbled, dumb-founded! He is required to act on a belief which his carnal heart will not let him believe. His action, to be reasonable, must assume sin to be hateful. But he loves it. He feels that he naturally loves it, and only hates its consequences. “He cannot know the truth, for it is spiritually discerned.” “Were a sprightly child allured to approach the reader by the promise of “something good,” and told that he should have it upon holding out his hand for it; and were he to perceive just then, that the thing you held out was a nauseous medicine, of whose utility to himself he was ignorant, he would be struck with a similar “inability.” There would be a sense in which he would become unable to hold out his hand even; he would not know how to do it. He would stand confused. Now this child is not becoming idiotic, but his native appetencies repel that which you propose as an attraction; and hence his obstinate apprehension of the unreasonableness of your proposal.

Thus, as it appears to us, the simple psychology which is assumed in the Bible “is found to be the truest philosophy, and throws a flood of light upon the doctrines held in common by us, and by the respected fathers whom we review.

The only other point we discuss is at least as intricate as the one just attempted, and even more abstract, technical, and limited. But for other principles which have been connected with its discussion, chiefly through exaggerations and confusions of thought, it would indeed lie within very narrow bounds, both of extent and importance, in so far as it is debated among Calvinists. It is Dr. Hodge’s doctrine of immediate imputation of Adam’s sin to us. (Vol. II., Chapter VIII.) The questions drawn into the discussion are the relations of the divine sovereignty and righteousness; the rudimental idea of sin and criminality, imputation, justification, our union to Christ, God’s providence in visiting the sins of parents upon posterity, and the rights of man’s reason in problems where the divine righteousness is a party. Dr. Hodge strongly advocates the theory adopted by Turretin. It is, that in the order of causation, the imputation of the guilt of Adam’s first sin on men precedes, transferring that guilt upon them conceived as at first otherwise innocent and guiltless; whereby a privative moral corruption of soul is by God visited on Adam’s children as the penalty of that imputed guilt, and, in the first instance, of it alone. From this view we to a certain extent dissent. The reader of Dr. Hodge’s present work will find. it stated more moderately than in his previous ones. There is a pleasing absence of that imperious dogmatism which characterized his earlier polemics on this favourite point, such as his review of Dr. Baird’s Elohim Revealed. But his theory is the same.

“We are, of course, not oblivious of the difficulty of getting a considerate hearing against a speculation adopted by Turretin and Hodge, and sustained—though, as we shall show, to a very limited extent—by Dr. Thornwell. The last is himself witness, (See Review of Breckinridge), that our Confession of Faith does not speak in favour of that speculation. Nor has it any direct Scripture support, being but a human inference from a peculiar interpretation of a much-contested passage in Romans v. We shall therefore presume that an humble minister in the Presbyterian Church, who recognizes no infallible standard but the Bible, and has bound himself by no doctrinal covenant but our Confession, may credit his brethren with enough independence not to permit Turretin or Hodge to do their thinking for them. “We shall certainly claim this liberty, especially when we recall some specimens of erroneous thinking which they have given us:—

Αs Turretin’s laboured opposition to the Copernican system, and his adoption of the latent Pantheism of the Dominican theory touching God’s providential concursus; or Dr. Hodge’s views of popish baptism, the “Idea of the Church,” and subscription to our creed, which were such as to compel the dissent of almost all his own denomination.

As in the previous discussion, so here we shall find the history of the question instructive. The French National Synod of 1645, at Charenton, found it necessary to adopt the following enactment against Joshua De La Place, or Placæus, a theological professor in Saumur. Quick’s Synodicum:—

“There was a report made in the Synod of a certain writing, both printed and manuscript, holding forth this doctrine:—

That the whole nature of original sin consisteth only in that corruption which is hereditary to all Adam’s posterity, and resides originally in all men; and denying the imputation of his first sin. This Synod condemneth the said doctrine, so far as it restraineth the nature of original sin to the sole hereditary corruption of Adam’s posterity, to the excluding of the imputation of that first sin by which he fell. And it interdicteth, on pain of all church censures, all pastors, professors, and others, who shall treat of this question, to depart from the common, received opinion of the Protestant Churches, who (over and besides that corruption) have all acknowledged the imputation of Adam’s first sin to his posterity,” etc.

Placæus, to evade the implied condemnation of this decree, afterwards said, that he only disputed “an antecedent and immediate imputation” of Adam’s guilt; but admitted “a mediate and subsequent imputation,” through the criminality of each man’s own inherent corruption. This many of the Reformed conceived as a virtual denial of that imputation, inasmuch as they supposed Placæus to mean, that men are virtually made obnoxious to penalty only «on account of their own corruption. But on this history several very instructive remarks are to be made. One is, that no National Synod of the French Church pursued Placæus, either with discipline or any further legislation. This would seem to imply that his explanation was held sufficient by the supreme church court, though very unsatisfactory to his antagonists, and especially to Andrew Rivet, their leader.

The second remark is, that this ill-starred distinction, and this pair of ambiguous terms for expressing it, were the invention of Placæus; they “were no part of the theology of the Reformers. So far as we know, they were never heard of before. So says the Princeton Review, (October, 1839). The distinction was evidently a ruse, adopted by him to shelter himself and entrap his accusers. Had they been discreet they would not have been misled by controversial heat to step into the trap thus prepared for them by one whom they themselves charged with mala, fides. They should have refused the ensnaring distinction in both its branches, and should have asserted, with the Synod of Charenton and all the previous Confessions, neither an “antecedent immediate” nor “mediate consequent” imputation, but simply a true and proper imputation of Adam’s sin. The distinction is like that of supralapsarian and infralapsarian, an attempted over-refinement, which should never have been made, which really explained nothing in the decree, and which only led to corollaries dishonourable to God. We state briefly the grounds of this assertion, as a foreshadowing of our train of discussion. 

The alternative adopted by Placæus is incorrect, because, like the Arminian scheme, it offers the fact that God should have extended the law, “Like begets like,” to man’s moral nature and will, as an explanation of the fact. Natural laws are of God’s institution and sustentation; what they effect, he ordains. The question therefore recurs:— 


On what judicial basis did this ordination, to propagate hereditary depravity in men, rest? Secondly; Placæus’s scheme is false to the facts of the case, in that it represents God as though he conceived of Adam’s posterity as having an antecedent depraved existence, at least for a moment, before they passed under condemnation; whereas the Scriptures tell us they are torn condemned.

See Ephesians 2:3. The opposite alternative is untenable, not only because it encumbers the doctrine of original sin with unnecessary difficulties, when the unavoidable ones are in all conscience, serious enough, but because it connects itself with erroneous views of justification, and the mystical union to the second Adam, and especially that it also is false to the facts of the case. It represents man as having a separate, undepraved, personal existence, for an instant at least, until, from innocent, it is turned into depraved, by God’s act, as a penal consequence of Adam’s guilt imputed; whereas, in fact, man now never has any personal existence at all, save a depraved existence. As he enters being condemned, so he enters it depraved. This over-refinement therefore leads to an inaccuracy, which is the counterpart of that resulting from the opposite scheme. Now, when both of the alternatives in this attempted distinction lead thus to error, the argument is as strong as can well be conceived to show that the distinction should never have been made.

Will the stringency of this argument drive any advocate of immediate imputation, so called, to deny that this scheme involves the conception of Adam’s posterity as penally made depraved from undepraved, on the exclusive ground of imputed guilt? If that denial could be substantiated, we should have, so far, no ground of difference with him. But it cannot. If his “immediate precedaneous imputation” only meant a true and proper imputation, we should be agreed, so far. But it does not. This is obvious from the logical order of thought. In that order, though perhaps not always in the order of a temporal succession appreciable by our senses, every cause goes before its effect. If imputed guilt is the sole cause, and depravation the penal effect, then, in that sense, the recipient must have the imputation before the depravity. What else does “immediate precedaneous” mean? Again. The friends of immediate imputation went along with us very sociably in charging the exact counterpart as a result of Placæus’s theory, that it would follow, the soul must be first personally depraved in order to become guilty. Impartiality must make the same objection against Dr. Hodge’s theory.

Thirdly:—

Turretin fully asserts, and Dr. Hodge favours, “Creationism.” Now, if God creates the soul, it must be created innocent; for a holy God cannot create depravity. Hence, there must be a conceivable instant, as this soul passes from its Maker’s pure hand into the putatively guilty human person, in which instant it undergoes the penal transition from innocent to depraved.

And lastly:—

The advocates of the scheme consistently make an express admission of what we charge.

Chalmers’s Theological Institutes, Vol. I., page 485:—

“We have been all dealt with as sinners, and this anterior to any personal or actual sin of ours.” “We have been made corrupt” (he means, turned into corrupt persons), “because we had sinned in Adam, and so are held guilty as he was, and treated accordingly.” (Page 486.)

So on page 497:—

“Or rather, if we speak according to the order of cause and effect, or the natural precedency of guilt to punishment, we have been held so anterior to infancy.”

So Thornwell, Vol. I., page 346:—

“Hence, in the order of thought, his sin must always be conceived as imputed before they can be conceived as depraved.”

Page 347:—

“Hence the Scriptures teach explicitly, that we are first charged with the guilt of Adam’s sin, and then, as the legal consequence, are born with natures totally corrupt.”

Page 349:—

They “ are still personally innocent, while putatively guilty.”

Hodge on Romans 5:13:—

“It” (the penalty) “comes on men before the transgression of the law of nature, or even the existence of inherent depravity.”

Theology, Vol. II., page 210:—

“The guilt, in the order of nature and fact, precedes the spiritual death, which is its penal consequent.”

Page 203:—

“Penal evils…come upon all mankind prior to anything in their state or conduct to merit such infliction.” Can anything be plainer? Shall we be told that these writers also say, and imply, that putative guilt and corruption are simultaneous in first action, as the Scriptures say? Very likely. That is to say, they contradict themselves; a very natural result, when good men are betrayed into a position contrary to Scripture. Let us repeat, that it is only against the peculiarity of Dr. Hodge’s doctrine as thus evolved that we have any debate. And it is in this sense that we firmly assert it is not the peculiarity of the Reformed theology, but an exaggeration into which a few of its distinguished names have been betrayed. Any impartial mind examining Rivet’s Consensus sees that, as supports for the peculiarity above depicted, his array is a failure. The Reformed Confessions all assert an imputation of Adam’s guilt; as does the decree of Charenton; but as to the point to which we except, not one speaks in favour of Dr Hodge’s position. A few theologians, like the supralapsarian Beza, sustain him explicitly; the great current, like Calvin, stop short of or even repudiate his peculiarity. Passing to more recent times, we find Stapfer, the great Edwards, and Breckinridge, against Dr. Hodge. The two first of these may show how much more of assertion than of research we meet upon this subject. Dr. Hodge has said that Stapfer and Edwards adopt the vicious theory of Placæus; and many others, echoing Dr. Hodge, say the same, but all erroneneously!

Let us hear the men themselves. Stapfer’s Polemic Theology, Vol. IV., Chapter XVII., §78, Note:—

“The whole of the controversy they” (the adversaries of the doctrine of original sin) “have with us about this matter evidently arises from this, that they suppose the mediate and the immediate imputation are distinguished one from the other, not only in the manner of conception, but in reality. And so indeed they consider imputation only as immediate, and abstractedly from the mediate; when yet our divines suppose that neither ought to be considered separately from the other. Therefore I CHOOSE NOT TO USE ANY SUCH DISTINCTION, or to suppose any such thing, in what I have said on the subject; but have only endeavoured to explain the thing itself and to reconcile it with the divine attributes. And therefore I have everywhere conjoined both these conceptions concerning the imputation of the first sin, as inseparable, and judged that one ought never to be considered without the other. “While I have been writing this note, I have consulted all the systems of divinity which I have by me, that I might see what was the true and genuine opinion of our chief divines in this affair; and I found they were of the same mind with me,” etc.

Edwards, Part IV., Chapter III., Original Sin, says:—

These things “said by Stapferus are in several respects to the present purpose.”

Another weighty protest against the exaggeration of Dr. Hodge appears in a large body of Calvinists, represented by Dr. Samuel J. Baird, Dr. W. G. T. Shedd, and the venerable father, Augustine, to whom Dr. Thornwell finally gave in his virtual adhesion, whose views Dr. Hodge repudiates as realism. These hold, as we do, a true and proper imputation; but they are so unwilling to accept the peculiarity of the theory of Rivet, Turretin, and Hodge, that to avoid it they resort to the theory of “generic identity.” The race sinned in Adam, because the whole nature was in him when he sinned; and we each have that same nature, and so each one truly and literally sinned in that first sin. The nature they define as an entity, but not a substance, being, namely, the aggregate of all the moral and intellectual forces transmitted by generation, and qualifying each person of the race as a moral agent. We have no mission to defend this theory, not holding its peculiar feature. But it cannot be called realism. It expressly says that the nature, as separated from each individual, is neither substance nor person, yet not a mere abstraction. It may be unintelligible, but it is not realism; for the corner stone of that theory was, that generic ideas are res. We are only interested in the scheme of generic identity as a protest against Dr. Hodge’s peculiarity.

As another witness to the true complexion of the doctrine in the Protestant theology, we quote D. G.

Sohn, Professor in Heidelberg, 1590, commended by Dr. Archibald Alexander, as a representative of orthodoxy. Commenting on Romans 5:12:—

“By one man sin entered into the “world, and. death by sin,”

He says:—

The apostle “does not mean merely that Adam had become a sinner, but that it had come upon all his descendants, that is, upon all the men in the world; for he does not say in this place that guilt had entered, but that sin had entered into the world. And this is not left to be inferred, but is expressly asserted in the same verse, ‘in whom all have sinned,’ or, ‘for that all,’ etc. Moreover, when he declares that all are subject to death and condemnation by the sin of one, it is a just inference that they are all partakers of his sin, and are born in a state of moral pollution.

In the Romans 5:19 it is said:—

‘By the disobedience of one many are constituted sinners.’ Now to be constituted sinners includes the idea, not only of being made subject to the penalty, but partaking of the nature of sin; for they who are entirely free from the stain of sin cannot with propriety be called sinners…Infants are depraved, ‘children of wrath,’ and guilty on account of their own personal depravity.”

Vogelsang, quoted by De Moor, Commentarius, Vol. III., page 275, says:—

“Certe neminem sempiterna subire supplicia, propter inobedientiam protoplasti, nisi mediante cognata perversitate.”

Marckius, in De Moor, says:—

If Placæus meant nothing more by mediate imputation than that, “hominum natorum actualem punitionem ulteriorem non fieri nudo intuitu Adamicæ transgressionis, absque interveniente etiam propria corruptione, et fluen-tibus hinc sceleribus variis, neminem orthodoxorum possent habere obloquentem.” But that is just what Calvin, Stapfer, and their company, do mean, and nothing more.

Let us add a testimony from among that “Westminster divines. Samuel Rutherford, in his Trial and Triumph of Faith, says:—

“And truly it is bad divinity for Dr. Crispe to say, ‘ As we are real, actual sinners in Adam, so here. God passeth really sin over on Christ; for we sinned intrinsically in Adam, as parts, as members, as being in his loins; and we are thence ‘by nature children of wrath.’ (Ephesians 2:3.) But it is blasphemy to say that our blessed Saviour sinned intrinsically in us, or that he is a Son of God’s wrath, for sin intrinsically inherent in him as it is in us,” the latter being Rutherford’s conception of our sinning in Adam.

But our most explicit witness is the greatest—John Calvin. Dr. Thomwell first gives him up, and then, on grounds of inference, claims him. We indulge in no inferences as to what is meant, but cite his express words. Dr. Hodge apologizes that some of the Papists pushed the putative element of original sin so exclusively that the Reformers of Calvin’s day were constrained to exaggerate the hereditary element to restore the balance; and that thorough discussion and analysis had not then taught them the bearings of the question between mediate and immediate imputation. Je, me moque de tout cela! Calvin did not exactly know what he was about, quoth ‘a! Let us see whether he does not look the matter fully in the face, and give an intentional and intelligent decision. In his Commentary, on Romans 5:12, “Sin entered into the world,” we read:—

“Observe what order he places here; for he says that sin preceded, death followed from it.

For there are persons who contend that we are ruined by Adam’s sin in such a Way as though we perished by no fault of our own:—

Thus, as though he only had sinned in us. But Paul affirms distinctly that sin is propagated in all who pay its penalty. And he then urges that more closely, when, a little after, he assigns the reason why all Adam’s posterity is subject to death’s empire. To wit, saith he, because we all have sinned. That ‘peccare,’ moreover, signifies to be corrupted and vitiated. For that natural depravity which we bring from our mother’s womb, although it yield not its fruit so quickly, is nevertheless sin before the Lord, and deserves his vengeance. And this is what is called original sin. For as Adam at his first creation received the endowments of divine favour as well for himself as for his posterity; thus, upon apostatising from the Lord, he corrupted our nature in himself, defiled, depraved, ruined it; for when fallen from God’s likeness, he could only beget a seed similar to himself. We therefore all sinned, in that we are all imbued with natural corruption, and so unrighteous and perverse.”

So, on Romans 5:15, Calvin says:—

”What the apostle delivers, ‘perished through the offence of one,’ understand thus:—

That corruption is transfused from him into us. For neither do we thus perish by his fault as though we were ourselves without fault;

but because his sin is the cause of our sin, Paul ascribes our death to him. Our sin I call what is inborn in us,” etc. On Romans 5:17, “For if by the offence of one,” he says:—

“Moreover, it is important to note here two differences between Adam and Christ, which the apostle did not thus omit because he deemed they should be neglected, but because it did not at all concern the present argument to enumerate them.

The first is, that in Adam’s sin we are not condemned through imputation alone, as though the penalty of another man’s sin were exacted of us; but we thus sustain its punishment, because we are also guilty of fault, so far, to wit, as our nature vitiated in him is involved in guilt before God. But, through the righteousness of Christ, we are restored to salvation in another mode. For it [Christ’s righteousness] is not thus held to be accepted by us, as though it were within us, but because we possess Christ himself, bestowed upon us by the Father’s generosity, with all his benefits. Accordingly, the ‘gift of righteousness’ signifies not a quality with which God imbues us, as some erroneously interpret, but a gratuitous imputation of righteousness; for the apostle is expounding what he understood by the word grace. The other difference is, that the benefit of Christ does not reach to all men, as Adam involved his whole race in condemnation. And the reason is at hand; for since that curse which we draw from Adam is derived into us by nature, it is not surprising that it embraces the whole mass. But in order to come to a participation of the grace of Christ, we must needs be inserted into him by faith.” Calvin repeats the same view under Romans 5:19.

The grounds upon which Dr. Hodge rests his peculiar theory, against Calvin and the current of the Reformed divines, may be included in two. He assumes, first, that the imputation of Adam’s sin to us must be not only a true imputation, which we fully admit, but that it must be exactly identical, in all its circumstances, with the imputation of our sins to Christ, and of his righteousness to us. He assumes, secondly, that the correct interpretation of Romans 5:12, 13, demands his peculiar view, the exact identity of the two imputations granted. And he argues his interpretation chiefly from the premise of that identity; thus reasoning in a circle. Now,. as to this much belaboured passage, we are free to say that Calvin’s exposition seems, on the whole, founded on the truest insight into the apostle’s scope, and the fairest and most scholarly. But we have no theoretic motive to reject Dr. Hodge’s exposition; for his exegetical conclusions contain nothing inconsistent with our doctrine. But we shall show that the doctrinal use which is attempted to be made of the passage is not only unnecessary to the analogy of the faith, but untenable and self-contradictory.

Dr. Hodge would ask, “Whether the covenants of works and of grace are not both grounded in the principle of imputation? We reply, Yes. And whether we can deny it in the one without overthrowing the other? Again we answer, No. But stay; we do not concede his postulate above. It is a principle fundamentally involved in both covenants, that under the government of a sovereign and righteous God, guilt may be justly transferable from one moral agent to another under certain conditions; but not therefore under any conditions whatsoever. We have never seen a system which denied the latter.

Dr. Hodge concedes it. (Vol. II., page 196. Turretin, Loc. IX., Ques. 9.) Let us suppose that when Satan fell, Gabriel had been far distant, in the holy and perfect performance of the mission of love entrusted to him by his divine Master, and that when he returned he had been told that he must be cast into hell for the sin of Satan, because it was imputed to him, while there was no tie of race nor dependency between them, and he was not consenting to, or even cognizant of the sin. Does any one hold that the righteousness or benevolence of our God could justify this dispensation? We can only say, that were we to meet with a man who held thus, we should certainly not attempt to reason with him. That is a case in which the conditions of a just imputation are certainly lacking.

Let us suppose again, that Achan’s children had been personally as holy in nature and conduct as Adam was before he fell; does any rational man suppose that they would have perished under the law of Exodus 20:5? These instances, ordinary and extraordinary, where God visits the iniquity of fathers upon the children, are cited by Dr. Hodge as though they implied this, and were identical with the case of Adam and his posterity. And yet Dr. Hodge knows that all Calvinistic doctors teach, that the two cases present only an analogy, and not a perfect parallel. A parent now is not a federal head under a covenant of works.

Our relation to our fathers is not identical with our relation to Adam; the guilt of their sins is not imputed to us precisely as Adam’s first sin is. Yea, we are taught that the guilt of none, even of Adam’s sins after the first, is thus imputed to us. In this visiting of parents’ sins on posterity, we have a different case, of just imputation, yet requiring different conditions. The children must be already sinners—already personally obnoxious, at least for inherent depravity, to God’s holiness. Moses tells us, Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9, that this visiting of parents’ sins is upon the third and fourth generations of them that hate GW. Our Saviour (Matthew 23:32-35), teaches the same; telling the Pharisees that their “filling up the measure of their fathers” was the condition of their inheriting the penalty of all the righteous blood shed from Abel to Zacharias. The prohibition in Deuteronomy 24:16 proves the same thing; human magistrates might not put the children to death for the fathers’ sins. Is it said that God still did it, as in the case of Achan’s and Saul’s posterity? True, and the explanation exactly confirms, our argument. A magistrate may not slay a criminal’s children, because, to him, in the limited sphere of his jurisdiction, they are not offenders. But God may, because in his wider sphere of judgment they are sinners. God never does injustice “that good may come;” but when the righteous ends of his providential rule dictate it, he justly makes sinful children suffer with sinful progenitors. While the penal infliction is occasioned by the progenitors’ crimes, yet a community of sinful character between the children and them is the condition requisite for a righteous imputation in these cases. The latter point Turretin reluctantly teaches, against the interests of his own erroneous logic. (Loo. IX. Ques. 9.) Thus we find in this extensive class of providences cases of what Dr. Hodge deems, and correctly deems, true imputation; but the conditions are not identical with the imputation of Adam’s sin to us.

We approach the issue more nearly in our third case, that of the imputation of our guilt to Christ. This Dr. Hodge would make his strong point, urging that if we do not admit his exaggerated view of immediate imputation, we cannot admit the imputation of our guilt to Christ. And, since there is no other way of justification for sinners, he intimates that the man who will not go all lengths with him, cuts himself off from all hope of heaven! Does not this appear to be the very wantonness of dogmatism, when we remember that the Scriptures expressly make two cardinal differences between the conditions of the imputation in Christ’s case and Adam’s? In the case of the imputation of our sins to Christ, Dr. Hodge urges that the guilt of that which was purely and solely peccatum alienum is transferred to Christ on the ground of a community of nature, without his having a particle of personal depravity or sin common between him and the sinful race. True; but the Scriptures tell us the propriety of it was grounded in two other conditions also, totally peculiar. Christ volunteered to assume the penalty; he having, what no creature could have, autocracy of his own being and powers, authorizing him to make the voluntary offer.

Will any one be rash enough to say that a community of nature alone would have ever prompted the sovereign holiness and justice of the Father to lay the load of imputed guilt on the God-man, his co-equal Son, if he had dissented from the sacrifice? Again we say, that with such a man we should not dream of reasoning. Every system of theology we ever read treats Christ’s voluntary consent as an essential condition. He says so himself in John 10:18, Dr. Thornwell, in his admirable missionary sermon on that text, says:—

“It [Christ’s covenant of redemption] binds, not by virtue of a right to command, but by virtue of a consent to obey.”

See also Butler’s Analogy, Part II., Chap. V., Sec. 7:—

“Nay, if there were any force at all in the objection [that vicarious sufferings cannot be just], it would be stronger in one respect against natural providence than against Christianity; because under the former we are in many cases commanded, and even necessitated, whether we will or not, to suffer for the faults of others, whereas the sufferings of Christ were voluntary. The world being under the righteous government of God does indeed imply that finally and upon the whole every one shall receive according to his personal deserts; and the general doctrine of the whole Scripture is, that this shall be the completion of the divine government.” So concludes Chalmers—honest man!—against the interests of his own false logic.

See Institutes of Theology, Vol. I., p. 498:—

“For there is an element in the latter [Christ’s] which does not belong to the former imputation. Christ was willing” etc.

See also Owen on Justification, p. 194:—

“And this voluntary sponsor was one ground of the imputation of our sin to Christ. He took on him the person of the whole church that had sinned, to answer for what they had done against God and the law. Hence that imputation was fundimentaliter ex compacto, ex voluntaries sponsione; it had its foundation in his voluntary undertaking,” etc.

The other essential difference between the two cases of imputation is that pointed out by the apostle in Romans 5:16-19, and Romans 6:23. The one was a transaction of strict judicial righteousness; the other of glorious free grace. “The judgment was by one to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.” God displayed liberality in proposing to lift Adam and his race from the condition of servants to that of sons forever, on the easy terms of a temporary obedience. So the covenant of grace involves a vicarious obedience and sacrifice, by which the law is satisfied, while its captives are ransomed. But the Scriptures still correctly say, that the first covenant was a transaction of law, the second of grace. “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law:—

That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” (Romans 10:5.) “And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace.” (Romans 11:6.) Now can any righteous judge be imagined who would allow himself equal latitude in his judicial convictions with that he allows himself in his acts of beneficence? Would not every such judge answer, that in condemning he felt himself bound by justice within the strict merits of each case; but that, in his benefactions, he was accustomed to give way to the generous impulses of his heart, provided no principle of righteousness inhibited him, and to bestow more than the recipients could claim of right? It may be praiseworthy to dispense blessings above the deserts of the beneficiaries; it cannot be other than injustice to dispense penalties beyond the deserts of the culprits. Here then is a second essential difference between the two Adams in the two covenants. While there is a true and proper imputation in each case, this prepares us to expect a difference in the circumstances conditioning them.

There is still another difference in the two cases not mentioned by Calvin. In the case of the first Adam, the representative’s action as federal head preceded the sin. In the case of the second Adam, the sin preceded not only the action of Christ as substitute, but preceded even the constitution of his person. We may find that this circumstance will have to be regarded in our adjustment. Lastly, there is the difference pointed out by Calvin:—

The imputation of Adam’s guilt goes with the blood; all who are naturally descended from him share it. The federal connection with Christ does not go with the blood; it is limited to believers, and its benefits applied through faith, which is an intelligent, voluntary act of the beneficiaries’ souls We may find that this circumstance will have to be regarded in our adjustment.

To Dr. Hodge’s second line of argument, then, for immediate imputation in his peculiar sense of it, we have several answers. The argument is:—

That we must make an exact parallel in all particulars between Adam and Christ; that if we do not represent God as visiting the penalty of corruption on Adam’s posterity solely at first for his imputed guilt, they being conceived as otherwise initially guiltless and sinless, we must be consistent, and represent justification as first, in order of thought, an infusion of inherent sanctification, and thereupon, secondarily, an imputation of the righteousness of Christ’s satisfaction. But this is precisely the popish theory of justification. Now, the first answer is, that the apostle did not mean to institute an exact parallel in every circumstance between Adam and Christ. Both are federal heads. From both there is an imputation, and a proper one. But the imputations are inevitably differentiated, in some conditions, by the differences of the two cases. Of these the apostle mentions some. Calvin suggests others. And among these he expressly asserts that very difference which Dr. Hodge denies, between imputation of sin and imputation of righteousness, and expressly repudiates that popish theory on the latter point, which, Dr. Hodge says, any one in Calvin’s position is bound to accept. We differ from the Princeton divine in remarkably good company,

But our second answer is that an assertion of the exact parallel which Dr. Hodge wishes to establish will inevitably lead to erroneous results, which he and every other Reformed divine must anxiously repudiate.

If this is the order of thought in immediate imputation:—

That we, conceived as otherwise personally sinless and guiltless initially, receive Adam’s guilt by imputation, and then inherent depravity as the penalty, at first, of that alone, then the theory of justification which must result from a rigid parallelism must be this:—

That we are personally depraved and dead in trespasses and sins at the epoch of our justification, and afterwards, in the order of causation, we receive quickening grace, as the first fruit and effect of justifying righteousness imputed. But as justification is instrumentally by faith, faith must be in order to justification, and of course in order to quickening! That is, the sinner has true faith first, and is regenerated afterwards! Every one who has a modicum of theological knowledge knows that this is precisely Arminianism. A moment’s reflection shows that it is inevitable synergism. Every Calvinist distinguishes between inherent and legal righteousness; as does Dr. Hodge excellently well, Vol. II., page 195. As to the merit of a personal inherent righteousness worthy to procure our acceptance before God; we have none at all at the time of our justification, nor ever after. But as to subjective condition, the believer is not spiritually dead at the instant of justification. All the Reformed divines, so far as we know, with Dr. Hodge, fix. the following order of sequence.

Quickening of the dead soul, or regeneration in its strict sense, by which. Christ’s spiritual life and holiness are initially implanted.

Saving faith is exercised.

The union to Christ is thereby constituted, which divides into legal union and spiritual union.

As “we are legally united to him, we are justified; as we are spiritually united, we convert” (Isaiah 6:10), and the work of sanctification proceeds in us. We thus see that Dr. Hodge must relinquish the theory of an exact parallelism, or ha finds himself in a dilemma, whose two horns are. Arminianism and the scheme of Placæus, both abhorred by him and by us. “We advise him to retreat from his exaggeration, and find the safe position alongside of John Calvin and the great current of Reformed divines, with his humble reviewer. It is too late for him to escape the dilemma, by .pleading that the only thing discussed in Romans 5:12, etc., is the legal relation of the two Adams to their federated bodies, and that the spiritual relations should be left out of the debate. Leave them out then, and nothing can be proved from this passage, against our view or for Dr. Hodge’s. We repeat:—

If the spiritual and subjective relations of the represented to the representatives are out of the debate, this whole argument is as irrelevant for Dr. Hodge as for us. But he will not leave those relations out; he cannot; they must come into the argument, and then it is in our favour.

For, thirdly, if there is in every particular an exact parallelism between the two cases of imputation, then it must hold in this:—

That both are conditioned on a parallel union between the represented and the representatives. In this particular we claim the parallel. Dr. Hodge cannot demur; because he says there must be a parallel in every particular. Here then, for once, shall we travel together sociably? “Let us see.

Dr. Hodge says, Vol. II., page 196:—

“The ground of the imputation of Adam’s sin, or the reason why the penalty of his sin has come upon all his posterity, according to the doctrine above stated, is the union between us and Adam.”

Also on page 211:—

“These consequences come on his posterity in the same order,”

(as on Adam):—

“First, the loss, or rather destitution, of original righteousness; and secondly, corruption of nature; and thirdly, exposure to eternal death.”

So also Thornwell, Vol. I., page 346:—

“If there were not a real unity between Adam and the race, the covenant of works could not, by an arbitrary constitution, treat them as one.”

One application which we make of this excellent doctrine is to explain the valuable and instructive remark of Jonathan Edwards:—

That we should so conceive of our sin and fall in our federal head, according to our close natural and federal union with him, as to place the two elements of inherent depravity and guilt in the same relation, in ourselves and in him. This Dr. Hodge expressly admits, as we have thus seen. Now common sense tells us, that when a holy creature committed his first sin, the depravation of his heart and the falling under guilt were, temporally speaking, synchronous; but that, causatively speaking, the depravation, or subjective corruption, must precede, and the guilt follow.

The reason is plain:—

It is sinful acts which incur guilt. But the character of acts is decided by their intention, to speak popularly; decided by their subjective motive, to speak philosophically. The thing which qualified Adam’s act in plucking the forbidden fruit as evil, was the evil emotion that prompted it. But in the order of causation, motive precedes volition. This is but to say that a holy being cannot perform an unholy act; he must begin to become unholy in order to do so. Any other view is simply absurd. It is very true that, after Adam became a customary sinner, the series of sinful acts fostered the sinful disposition; yea, that his very first wrong act gave an impulse to the wrong affection which prompted it.

But the other truth remains:—

That a sinful act must imply a sinful motive as a priori to it in the order of production. We can scarcely imagine that any one will be so thoughtless as to object that this would represent God as bringing the penal evil of subjective corruption on Adam before he found Adam guilty.

The answer is too plain:—

That it was not God who did it; but Adam brought it on himself.

That is to say, God did not corrupt Adam; he corrupted himself. Having found this order of relation between Adam’s first corruption and his first guilt, we have the authority of both the rival parties to this discussion for saying we should find the same order in the case of his posterity. That is, we should describe them as temporally guilty when corrupted, and corrupted when guilty; and causatively, in the initial determination of matters, guilty because corrupted, rather than corrupted because guilty.

We proceed now to apply the concession of a union between Adam and his posterity in another point of view. All are agreed that the imputation of Adam’s guilt is conditioned on our natural as well as our federal union with Adam. Now we raise the very simple question:—

In what nature are we united to Adam?—his holy or his fallen nature? Will any one say, In both? Then, we must have had a literal preëxistence for six thousand years! For, let the reader notice, the question is about our natural union with Adam, not our federal. We are naturally united only to Adam fallen; for he had already fallen before he had posterity. All divines agree that, if Adam is redeemed, his regenerated holiness does not federally concern us; that is not his natural, but his supernatural quality. There is, then, no moral nature of the first Adam to which we can be naturally united, save his fallen nature.

To this emphatically agree the Scriptures. Genesis 5:3:—

“And Adam…begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth.” 1 Corinthians 15:48, 49:—

“As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy…And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” “Put off…the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,…and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24.) These words, in requiring conversion, allude to the two unions; the first, corrupt; the second, holy. (Compare Colossians 3:9, 10.) Our opponents have expressly conceded—not bethinking themselves what they were conceding—that the imputation of Adam’s guilt to us is conditioned on a natural and a federal union. Now it turns out that the one of these conditions is a union in a depraved nature. It is too late for them to recoil. We forewarned them that there was a difference of fact between the first Adam’s covenant and the second Adam’s; that the first representative was before the sin; but that the sin was before the second representative. We now see that a difference of adjustment, in this particular, is inevitable from that fact.

It is vain for Dr. Thornwell to seek escape from this conclusion, by saying that each individual sinner of us has had a federal existence before we were conceived; that we bore a covenanted or legal relation before we existed. If this language means anything more than a reference to the divine foreordination and foreknowledge about us, it is incorrect. Common sense will decide with us, that nothing can be truly related until it exists; a nonentity cannot be party to a relation. Before we individually began to exist, each of us was nonentity, save in the foreordination of God viewing us as in posse, and before we began to exist, the only true relation connecting each of us individually with Adam, or with anything else, was the one subsisting in God’s prescience and purpose. Let the clear, convincing language of the Confession of Faith, touching the counterpart subject of justification, illustrate this statement. Chap. XI., Sec. 4:—

“God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect; and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.” By parity of reasoning, we hold that God did, from all eternity, decree to condemn all men descended from Adam by ordinary generation; and that Adam did, some time after his creation in holiness, sin and fall for them, as well as for himself; nevertheless, individual fallen men are not condemned in him until such time as their existence doth actually unite them to Adam. And then it is a corrupted Adam to whom they are united.

Can any escape from this be gained by saying that the whole covenant of works ceased and was revoked as soon as Adam broke it once; and that the legal union of subsequent men must therefore have been before that date? The premise is expressly untrue, tried by Scripture or common sense. The statement is precisely as preposterous as this:—

“A given murderer broke the statute of murder at a given time; and consequently that statute was thenceforward abrogated and wholly revoked as to him, as a legal covenant.” “We presume that when hanging-day came, the murderer would be very much mystified to know under what law he was to be hung on that theory. How could that statute hang him, if it was abrogated as to him? No; the simple truth is, it has not been abrogated by his breach of it; but abides in full force over him in its condemning power, only, it has ceased to be a possible rule of justification for him. See Romans 3:20. So the broken covenant of works is still in force over Adam’s race as a ride of condemnation. It is for that reason that “we are all by nature children of wrath, even as others.” God’s elect are born under the force of that covenant as a rule of condemnation, “even as others.” It passes human wit to see how, if the covenant of works were wholly revoked, as soon as broken by Adam, sin is still imputed under it in “this year of grace” 1873; how in the “year of grace” , our Lord Christ was placed under both its preceptive and penal terms as a surety; and how, in thirty-three years thereafter, he so repaired and fulfilled it as thereby to purchase for the elect the very “adoption of sons” which that covenant had first proposed to Adam.

See Galatians 4:5:—

“These be the two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which, now is, and is in. bondage with her children” Does not every Reformed expositor explain that the Sinai covenant, as perverted, broken, end misapplied by legalists, reverts into the covenant of works? We never heard of any other way of explaining the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians.

They uniformly represent that there are two covenants, and only two:—

Of works, of grace; that all men are born under the first, and born condemned, because they are born under it, its breach in Adam having rendered it a ministry of condemnation; that we all live under it, until, by union to the second Adam, we pass under the other, the covenant of grace.

The epoch of transition is when we are effectually called and believe. Romans 7:6:—

“But now we are delivered from the law,” etc. When? When we are “married” to Christ. The truth remains, then, that our natural union to Adam is a union to a corrupted nature; and it is confessed on all hands that such union is one of the essential grounds of the imputation of his guilt to us. We return, then; to that view of this imputation presented by Calvin in the citations given above, as the consistent one.

But Dr. Hodge, following Turretin, urges, that unless we accept their strained view of immediate imputation, we really get no imputation at all. The whole residuum is, that men are punished in no sense for Adam’s sin, but exclusively for their own concurrence of will and conduct in that sin. Now we reply to this:—

First, it is strange that so large a number of the greatest, clearest, and most orthodox minds, like Calvin’s, Vitringa’s, Stapfer’s, Rutherford’s, Edwards’, should have deceived themselves with so sheer a cheat, and should have supposed that they had a true imputation, when there was none. They teach that a community of evil nature is the concurrent condition of this imputation. Dr. Hodge’s charge is, that it excludes all real imputation. Let us see.

We reply, secondly:—

All the Reformed divines agree that the mystical union with Christ, establishing a community of spiritual life with him, is the essential concurrent condition for the imputation of his righteousness. Here is the parallel case. Do they, does Dr. Hodge, therefore concede that there is therefore no proper imputation of Christ’s merits; and that believers are justified after all on account of the infused spiritual life? Not one of them. In the other case, the imputation of our sins to Christ, it is conditioned on his natural union with the race, and his optionary assent. But no theologian ever argued thence, that the real transference of guilt was obscured or lost, and that Christ was really punished on account of his, act in consenting to assume humanity. The view of the Reformed churches is plain enough as to original sin; it makes the elements one coetaneous complex.

The Shorter Catechism says:—

“The sinfulness of that estate where into man fell consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature,” etc. The word guilt here must be intended by the Westminster Assembly in the sense of “potential guilt,” including the idea of criminality; for it is a part of a “ sinful estate.” Actual guilt alone, mere obligation to penalty for “peccatum alienum,” is no “sinfulness of estate.”

The doctrine of original sin is acknowledged by all divines to be difficult, mysterious and awful. It is liable to cavils which are hard to explode, at least with such a full solution as will satisfy the unrenewed mind. The objections to the righteousness of such a dispensation, as we suppose, may virtually be resolved into two:—

One aimed against the justice of God’s providentially placing us in our subjective condition; the other, against the justice of his imputing to us Adam’s guilt. Under the first head, it is argued that it cannot be just to hold us guilty for a state which is natural, nor for any actions necessarily flowing therefrom, seeing it was not selected for us at first by our own choice, but imposed from a source above or before our wills.

To this cavil we shall not now advert further than to approve the positions of Turretin and Hodge:—

That this corrupt estate, while not the result of an act of personal choice by us, is yet voluntary in us, in the sense of being spontaneous, and that this being so, our reason always holds a moral agent meritorious for what he spontaneously is, without asking how he came to be such; as witness our judgments touching God, eternally and necessarily holy; angels created holy; and Satan fallen, we know not how. “Under the second head, it is argued that it is intrinsically unjust to punish one creature, without his consent freely given, for another’s act. And this is the great cavil, hurled perpetually at our doctrine by rationalists, Socinians, Pelagians, modern papists, now usually semi-Pelagian; and, in a word, by every unbelieving mind.

Here are specimens of the way they put the cavil:—

“Suppose a murder done by a man over whom you could have no control, in your absence, without your approval; suppose that the magistrate was about to hang you along with the murderer, on this fiction of imputed guilt and against your earnest protest! Could any sophistical refinement make you regard it as anything else than a monstrous iniquity? Such appears the orthodox theory of original sin.” We give the cavil, not as our own, but as the unbeliever’s.

Now, the last objection we urge against Dr. Hodge’s presentation of immediate imputation is, that it is unwise causelessly to exasperate a difficulty, even seemingly besetting the truth. We have shown that this exaggeration of the angles of the doctrine is causeless. The logical and exegetical necessities by which Dr. Hodge supposed himself constrained are imaginary. The fifth of Romans does not demand it. The imputation of our sins to Christ and his righteousness to us, the great corner stone of our salvation, does not require it. Then why increase the ground of cavil causelessly?

“We remark that all the writers who incline to the extreme theory of imputation betray a profound sense of the difficulty involved, by their anxious resort to expedients to evade it. But their expedients, if they satisfy themselves, do not satisfy each other. That adopted by Turretin, (Loc. IX., Ques. 9, §14) and by Dr. Hodge, Vol. II., page 211, is as follows:—

“The punishment which Adam’s sin brought on us is either privative or positive, The former is the lack and privation of original righteousness; the latter is death, both temporal and eternal, and in general all the evils which are sent upon sinners. Although the second, from the nature of the thing, always follows the first, except the mercy of God intervene, nevertheless it should not be confounded with it. As to the first, we say that Adam’s sin is imputed to us immediately for the privative punishment, because it is the cause of the privation of original righteousness, and so ought to precede the corruption, at least in the order of nature; but, as to the latter, it may be said to be imputed mediately with reference to the positive penalty, because to that penalty we are not obnoxious, except after we are born and corrupted.”

Dr. Thornwell shall answer this evasion for us. Works, Vol. I., page 333:—

“This theory…takes it for granted that there is no contradiction to God’s holiness in treating a being as a sinner who has never sinned, but there is a contradiction to his holiness in making him a sinner. But where is the difference?

Suppose the being as coming from the hands of God is in fact spotless, how can he be treated as a sinner?

If not treated as a sinner, then there is no guilt; and if no guilt, then no need of withholding original righteousness.”

“In the next place, to be destitute of original righteousness is sin. That a moral, rational and accountable being should exist without a disposition to love God and to reverence his holy law is itself to be in a positively unholy state. Want of conformity with the moral law is as truly sin as open and flagrant transgression. When these very men are arguing against the doctrine of the papists, they insist upon the impossibility of an intermediate condition betwixt sin and holiness; and yet when they wish to explain the mode of the propagation of sin, they distinguish between simple nature and the moral qualities which perfect and adorn it. I do not see, therefore, that this theory obviates any difficulty at all.” So far, Dr. Thornwell.

This is unanswerable. It shows that Turretin, under the stress of the difficulty which his exaggeration had raised for him, resorted to one of those very Pelagian principles which he himself explodes so completely.

In addition, we object, that if, “from the nature of the thing,” the positive depravation “always follows” the privative or negative, then in immediately visiting the latter on the exclusive ground of peccatum alienum. God has virtually visited the latter also. If, “from the nature of the thing,” the man who is pushed over the edge of a precipice always goes to the bottom, then it seems to us that he who pushed him over also broke his bones.

The expedient adopted by Dr. Baird in his Elohim .Revealed, is that which Dr. Hodge classes, with others, as substantially realistic. As stated by Dr. Thornwell (Vol. I., page 561), it is, “that we had a being in our substance, but not in our persons, which has determined the attitude of that substance.” Of this he remarks, “that it removes the difficulty, but it substitutes a greater one.”

Of himself. Dr. Thornwell says, page 334:—

“I confess that to me the “whole difficulty lies in “what to these divines presents no difficulty at all—in the imputation of guilt.” It is after he looks this doctrine steadily in the face that he feels himself constrained to seek a solution of this difficulty, in substantially the same theory which a few years before he had condemned in Dr. Baird.

On pages 349, 350 we find these words:—

“On these grounds I am free to confess that I cannot escape from the doctrine, however mysterious, of a generic unity in man as the true basis of the representative economy in the covenant of works. The human race is not an aggregate of independent atoms, but constitutes an organic whole, with a common life springing from a common ground.”…”There is in man what we may call a common nature.

That common nature is not a mere generalization of logic, but a substantive reality.”…”As, then, descent from Adam is the exponent of a potential existence in him, as it is a revelation of a fact in relation to the nature which is individualized in a given case, it constitutes lawful and just ground for federal representation.” Here, after all, the stress of the difficulty on Dr. Thomwell is so great that he adopts a theory even more realistic than the one he had refuted. Dr. Baird never said that human nature was “ a substantive reality.” He said that it was an entity, but not a substance, and denned it as the aggregate of all the constitutive moral forces of man’s essentia, which are transmitted by generation from our first parent.

Thus, in this case, Dr. Thornwell answers Dr. Thorn-well. He convinced us, in his earlier publication, that the notion of a substantive, generic unity is deceptive; and we have the misfortune to remain convinced.

True, Adam was “the root of all mankind.” There is between us and him an all-important community of race and nature, which is one of the essential conditions of imputation, as our Confession states. But that the nature, apart from each person who has it, is a moral entity, we see not; still less that it is a personal entity; and does not responsibility for guilt require personality in its subject? If this generic unity is so substantive, it connects us equally with Christ; and why do we not obey and atone in him as essentially as we sinned and fell in Adam? And “why is not the imputation of Christ’s righteousness also as universal as the nature?

The rational difficulty presented by our adversaries recurs, then. We are compelled to consider the question, Whether such an imputation, without our complicity or consent, is not inevitably unjust. It has been Dr. Hodge’s wont to override that question. Is this right? Is it wise? The answer is:” God does it, therefore it must be right.” To this “short method” there are two objections:—

It is not so certain that God does it, seeing that Dr. Hodge can quote no express Scripture, nor even any human creed, to prove it, but only his own inferences.

If a thing is impossible to be right, then any man’s saying that God did it would be a demonstration that that man misrepresented God.

Let us state a few of those propositions in which all the Reformed divines agree. Revelation is to be accepted, though it teach mysteries entirely above reason. But it could not be accepted, if it taught inevitable contradictions, which are against reason. For no man could believe, were he to try, against those intuitive laws of thought which constitute him a thinking and believing creature. But in applying this criterion to revelation these caveats must be observed:—

The Scripture proposition which is accused of outraging reason must exist in express terms; if it is only a human inference, it may be that the fallible expositor, and not the Scripture itself, is responsible for the outrage. Secondly, the rational conviction outraged must be a primitive, necessary, and universal judgment of the reason; because, if it is only an inferential conclusion, the source of collision may be in the fallible reason, and not in the infallible book.

Thirdly, the mind which presumes to charge such inevitable contradiction on the Bible should be a sanctified mind, not arrogant and hostile to God and his truth, but holy, humble, and enlightened by God’s Spirit. The carnal man receiveth not the things of the Spirit:—

They are foolishness unto him.

But we repeat:—

Provided these conditions are observed, the occurrence, not of a mystery above reason, but of an inevitable self-contradiction against reason, necessarily releases the mind from the obligation to believe.

(See Turretin, Loc. I., Ques. 10.) One would suppose that a moderate tincture of theological knowledge would secure the admission of these familiar rudiments of the science; but we cite authority, lest some may suppose us to utter, even in this alphabet of admitted principles, some dangerous novelty.

Now the advocates of the greatest theological absurdities never, in fact, assail these principles. Their plea is that their favourite propositions are only mysteries, and not contradictions. Thus the Papist seeks to excuse transubstantiation, the old-school Lutheran consubstantiation, the Mercersburg school, the spiritual, yet literal communion in Christ’s corporeal body, which yet is not ubiquitous. Along this line, whether the dogma is only a mystery above reason or a contradiction outraging reason, have been fought all the battles of superstition. The discrimination should always be made with caution and deliberation.

But may not that which it would be wrong for man the creature to do be right in God the infinite Sovereign? The equally plain answer of the alphabet of theology is:—

Sometimes, but not always. God’s infinite wisdom, proprietorship and sovereignty often render it right and holy for him to exercise a breadth of discretion in applying righteous principles of action which we could not presume on without crime. But his own glorious perfections ensure that, however sovereign, he will never act on a principle intrinsically wrong. And while we admit a wide, almost an infinite difference arising out of God’s perfections and sovereignty, between the boundaries of his righteous discretion and ours in details; yet we must hold that the righteousness enjoined on us in his precepts, and written by his creative hand in our consciences, is identical in its intrinsic principles with his righteousness. This is manifest, because otherwise God and we could never understand each other as ruler and subject; because man was made in his rational and moral image, and is restored towards it by sanctifying grace; and because he tells us that our holiness is to be in imitating him. Let us, then, suppose a case where a given action would be intrinsically wrong in principle, no matter how the details of its circumstances might vary, where such was the unavoidable, intuitive primary judgment of the unbiased human conscience; then, in that case, we pronounce that God’s perfections make it as impossible that he should do that act, however sovereign, as that it should be right for us to do it. And that is so plain that it is almost a truism.

If any man, professing to be a doctor or a prophet, told us that it was our duty to believe God had done that act and made it right for himself to do it, our consistent answer would be:—

“Then you, Mr. Prophet, have rendered me absolutely incompetent to have intelligent knowledge of moral perfections in God, and of moral obligations on me; you have denationalised me; I am now on your basis just as suitable a subject of religious relations as the horse I ride.” For what can be plainer than this, that if the very ground principles which are the constitutive norms of our moral judgments are contradicted, an intelligent, moral judgment becomes for us impossible?

Now the unbelieving rationalist says, that if Dr. Hodge’s theory of imputation were true, we should unquestionably have just such a case. He claims that the injustice would be as inevitable as though a peaceable, righteous citizen of a commonwealth were hung under its laws for the putative guilt of another man, over whom he had no control, of whom he had even no knowledge, who had murdered a person without any consent or complicity whatsoever on his part. The rationalist claims accordingly, that it is impossible God should have made such an imputation. The reader may ask whether on this point we hold with the rationalist? We reply explicitly that we do not. That is to say, while we regard it as unnecessary, rash and incorrect to dogmatise with Dr. Hodge upon it, we regard it more rash and incorrect to dogmatise with the rationalists upon it. But such appears to be the jealousy of some of the advocates of the exaggeration which they call immediate imputation, that they will hardly venture to admit an intrinsic unrighteousness in the case of secular imputation which the rationalist cites above, lest they should compromise their favourite speculation. And yet God does not hesitate to denounce the intrinsic unrighteousness of such an act of secular government. (See Deuteronomy 24:16.) So far we have good countenance.

Now, to return, while we will not dogmatise with the rashness of the unbelieving caviller upon this point, we cannot but believe that his difficulty is needlessly and rashly enhanced by the dogma which we criticize. The great advantage of Calvin’s view of the matter—in other words, of the scriptural view—is this, that it takes the imputation of Adam’s sin manifestly out of that category in which the rationalist’s illustration puts it, and in which, if it really belonged there, its unrighteousness would be inevitably self-evident. Calvin’s view shows that the Illustration does not contain a true parallel, and. is therefore inconclusive. Calvin’s view lifts the case of imputation of Adam’s sin into a category where it stands by itself, and is wholly unique; “where it has no illustration whatever among the usages of secular governments, whether just or unjust. Surely that is a solid advantage. For while this view leaves original sin enveloped in a mystery, which, as Dr. Thornwell declares, no man will ever solve in this world, it places the doctrine in a status where no man can convict it of intrinsic, self-evident injustice. And then comes in, the legitimate application of the devout principle, acquiescing in our unavoidable ignorance, and saying, “Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.” This advantage attending Calvin’s view appears in two ways:—

First, man reasons chiefly by parallel instances. His reasoning is comparison.

Consequently, where there is no parallel, while he may not comprehend, he cannot convict. The case is above his grasp; he has no scales in which to weigh it. Secondly, the case of original sin, as stated by Calvin, differs as to the essential trait wherein the caviller finds, in the case of his pretended parallel the self-evident injustice; and Dr. Hodge’s view seems to concede the presence of that trait and the correctness of the parallel Suppose the peaceful citizen charged, under human laws, with a putative guilt of a murder to which he had not consented. Every thoughtful mind sees the line of argument on which wise counsel would defend him. The argument would be:—

“May it please tin court, our statute of murder, under which my client has lived and is now tried, has its alternative sanctions:—

To him who murders, it threatens death; to him who respects the life of his fellowmen, it promises immunity. That statute is of the nature of a covenant with the citizens. Now here, may it please you honour, is our impregnable ground:—

MY CLIENT HAS PERSONALLY KEPT THAT COVENANT. 

He has thereby earned and is in possession of an existing title to immunity, with which he was invested, by virtue of his innocency, before this murder was committed, am. therefore he can only be divested of it by his own persona] criminal act or his own consent.” Now this is impregnable But let us represent the imputation of Adam’s guilt as the Scriptures do, and the sinner condemned in Adam has no such argument to use. He does not approach the judicial issue clothed with the existing, personal title to immunity derived from previous innocency of personal existence under the covenant of works. For, previous to his condemnation in Adam, he has no innocent existence personally, not for one moment, not even in the metaphysical order of thought, for he has no actual existence at all. He enters existence corrupted, as he enters it guilty. He enters it guilty, as he enters it corrupted. This is the character of the federal union between him and Adam that Adam’s conduct should determine for his posterity precisely this result, namely, that their personal existence should absolutely begin in that moral estate and under that legal relation which Adam procured for himself; that the two elements of this result should be mutually involved and coetaneous, as they were personally in Adam. This statement is strictly correspondent to the revealed facts. And now, this is its advantage, that it leaves the sinner fallen and condemned in Adam no pretext to complain that he has been stripped of a personal title to immunity by thus bringing him under putative guilt and inherited depravity; for he had no such personal title to be stripped of, seeing he has had no personal existence prior to the depravity and guilt. This dispensation of God then remains unique, without any exact parallel in human events, solemn, mysterious; but it is placed where it is impossible to convict it of any injustice. Why God should ordain such a federal union in his righteous sovereignty, which he foresaw would result in the determination of a depraved and condemned individual existence for a whole race of creatures, none should presume to speculate. We see that he has done so.

We can only perceive this ground of propriety for it in the light of natural reason:—

That it appears to be the most natural constitution for a company of creatures united to a first parent by that tie of race and propagation which is so fundamental a feature of humanity, and, comparing us with God’s other rational creatures, so peculiar a feature of our existence.
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