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of the soul, it will be impossible to prove that they are not capable of moral action." Here I would observe, Mr. H. begs the question again. It is his business to prove that they are capable of moral action. This it seems he cannot do, and therefore he wishes to set his opponents at work to prove the negative. We trust however that we have before shown that the thing is impossible. But he goes on-"They must be as capable of exercises, according to the strength of their faculties, as adults." True, but not moral exercises; for this implies a knowledge of a moral law which infants do not possess. But, “ These exercises must have a nature." Certainly, but not a moral nature, for the reasons already assigned. He goes on
And that nature must be either in conformity to the law, or opposed to it; and it is as easy for the Deity to discover which, as in the most prominent actions of adalts." With regard to the exercises of infants being either in conformity to the law, or opposed to it, I deny that they are either; for they are not performed under a consciousness of any accountability whatever. But “the Deity can dis
O'yes, and it is equally as easy for him to discover, that sin is not imputed where there is no law. But let us hear him a little farther. It is supposed by many, that no being can be guilty of violating a law, who does not possess a knowledge of that law.” “ But if this be true, the heathen cannot be guilty of sin, as they know nothing about the law.”
It is believed, and justly too, that no being can be guilty of violating a law, who has no knowledge of that law; but I am surprised that Mr. H. should assert that the heathen have no knowledge of the law! I am the more surprised at this, as, (notwithstanding the mutilated manner in which he has quoted Rom. ii. 14, 15) he had the whole passage full before
To justify his assertion, that the heathen have no
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knowledge of the law, he says, “And yet the Apostle tells us, that as many as have sinned without law, shall perish without law."
To show the utter absurdity of the sense which Mr. H. would draw from this text, we only need to compare it with Rom. v. 13–“But sin is not imputed where there is no law.', Now can a man sin without any law ? and if not, did not the Apostle, in the former text, mean that they who sinned without the written law, should perish without that law? The Apostle, it would seem, was aware that an advantage might be taken by some of the above expressions, (they who have sinned without law shall perish without law) and therefore throws in the 13th, 14th, and 15th verses, to show that the Gentiles are not totally destitute of a law, Again, to show that my assertion is just, that Mr. H. has quoted these pas. sages in a mutilated manner, I shall just transcribe them from his book, as he has quoted them, and then as they stand in the Bible. His words are these?" He also observes,”". (that is the Apostle) “ that · When the Gentiles, which have not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written on their hearts.'--It seems to be distinctly conveyed by this passage, that in some sense, the law is written upon the hearts of all men by nature."
The following is as it stands in the Bible For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves; Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”
It would seem that to avoid the strength of this passage, Mr. H. with Mr. Scott, attempts so to explain it, as to make it appear, that the work of the Holy Spirit, on the hearts of men,
is a s natural sense of right and wrong." But it
does not require a very great degree of penetration to discov. er, that a sense of right and wrong is a flower that does not grow in nature's garden.—Especially, since the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."
I submit the following explanation of Rom. ii. 14, 15, for the consideration of the reader. -For when the Gentiles which have not the written law, do by the light of the Spirit on their hearts, the things contained in the written law, these not being blest with the written law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts by the Spirit—their conscience also by the same light accusing or else excusing one another, according to the tenor of their moral conduct. If this be a just sense of the text, then the meaning of the Apostle in the 12th verse is, that every man, whether Jew or Gentile, shall be judged according to the light of the dispensation under which he lives. See the 9th and 10th verses.
The reader can now judge whether the assertion of Mr. H. that “the heathen have no knowledge of the law," is to be relied on as true.
Again, he remarks" The most plausible objection which we recollect to have seen to this view of the subject, is, its supposed inconsistency with the doctrine of total depravity." Well, what has this to do with proving " that infants are actual sinners as soon as they are born ?” What if adults do have a sense of right and wrong,-does this prove that infants have, as soon as they are born ?-Surely not.
In the next place, Mr. H. labours to show that the simpressions of right and wrong on the minds of children," are not altogether according to their education ; but that they also have a natural sense of right and wrong. But it is easy
and an actual sinner, as a wild ass's colt, and no more.When, therefore, Mr. H. can prove that a wild ass's colt is an actual sinner, we shall begin to think it may be that infants are, but not before. The ass is principally noted for its stupidity and untractableness, and therefore is a fit emblem of that state of ignorance and stupidity in which man is born into the world. Mr. Benson observes on this text, “For, or, yet, vain man would be wise.-Man, who, since the fall, is void of all true wisdom, petends to be wise, and able to pass a censure upon all God's ways and works.Born like a wild ass's colt-ignorant, and dull, and stupid, as to divine things, and yet heady and untractable. Such is man by his birth; this evil is now natural, and hereditary, and therefore common to all men."
Upon the whole, it is presumed that every person must see, that the arguments of Mr, H, in this question, are all fruitless attempts to establish a favorite scheme. And had he succeeded in his attempt, it would have been easy for him to have established the doctrine of infant damnation!
But unfortunately for his system, and fortunately for the infant race, he has failed in his attempt. And not a person have we heard speak of this part of his book, but in terms of disapprobation. The sentiments which dir. H advocates in the seventh section of his work, is not, as one might hope, peculiar to himself. A number of gentlemen, some of them men of science, by recommending the book, have publickly adopted it as containing their own faith.It is, then, not the faith of one individual only, but of many of the ministers, at least of that order, that infants are actual sinners as soon as they are born!!
On the Atonement.
The eighth section contains the views of Mr. H. on the : atonement : and, I am happy to say, that the greater part of that section, in my judgment, contains sound doctrine.There are a few things, however, which are deemed exceptionable ; upon
these we shall make a few remarks. Upon p. 109, we have the following question- How extensive is the atonement ?" The answer which Mr. H. gives to this question is, in itsell, a truly good one ; but connected with other parts of his system, it seems to involve some serious contradictions. He observes," Upon the same principles which rendered it just for God to pardon one sinner, might any number be pardoned. The atonement, therefore, knows nothing about limits : it is a provision as extensive as the wants of our world." To these declarations he has added a number of texts, to prove that the atonement was designed for the benefit of all mankind; and finally states that “the offers of salvation being free, and indiscriminate, is another proof, that the atonement is unlimited.”
These statements are full and emphatical, and well exe hibit the universality of the atonement; but whether this sentiment is reconcilable with the system of Calvinism in general, is a question. It is taken for granted that Mr. H. believes, that God, from eternity, unalterably decreed the damnation of a part of the human race. His arguments in the fifth section, abundantly show that this is his sentiment. Did God, then, make an atonement for the sins of those whom he had unalterably determined to cast off? That