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conduct them. In place of that, the fact is, and has at every period been distinctly recognised, that, inconsistent as it may be, they, nevertheless, formally hold and zealously inculcate most of the essential truths, which their theory would legitimately lead them to reject. The whole object aimed at in this branch of the discussion accordingly, is, to demonstrate that their principles, whether so regarded by themselves or not, are suited to carry them to the results that are involved, as construed by myself, in the doctrine of physical depravity.
I. In regard to the discussions on this subject, the first remark I have to offer is, that whether the conclusion from its statements and reasonings, that the current doctrine exhibits depravity as a physical attribute, is legitimate or not; the allegations themselves on which that conclusion is founded that it imputes depravity to nature in distinction from voluntary agency-that it exhibits it as existing antecedently to the exertion of actions, and as the cause that those that are exerted are sinful,-are indisputably correct, and are fully sustained by the admissions and statements -to which controversy respecting it has given birth—of the parties whose views the question most intimately respects.
Of this, sufficient evidence is furnished in the recent discussions of the subject by Dr. De Witt, Dr. Griffin, and the Editors of the Biblical Repertory, as is seen from the following passages.
"My object in this discourse is to defend the main principles comprised in the doctrine of regeneration. Those principles briefly are, that the depravity of the unregenerate man consists in the loss of original righteousness, and in an unconquerable disposition to moral evil; and that in regeneration the Holy Ghost removes this disposition to moral evil, and communicates to the soul a disposition or principle of holiness, which inclines it to holy action.
This view of the subject presupposes a marked difference between the moral actions of men, and the moral dispositions or principles which give impulse and character to all their moral efforts. The doctrine itself as thus explained, is conceived to be clearly and fully expressed.
“We stated, that in regeneration the depraved disposition of the heart is removed by the immediate and direct agency of the Holy Spirit, and that a new and holy principle, inclining the soul to holy action, is implanted. In the elucidation of this doctrine, it was stated, that both in common experience, and in the holy Scriptures, a marked distinction is drawn between moral action, and the moral disposition, or principle of the mind, which gives impulse and character to all its moral efforts.
"This proposition has been recently made the subject of strenuous controversy, among brethren who, on the great leading doctrines of the gospel, belong to the same school of theology. The doctrine which has been stated, is conceived to be clearly and fully expressed in Holy Writ; and to have been embraced and professed from the earliest periods of Christianity. It was maintained by Chrysostom, Hilary, Cyprian, Augustine, Jerome, and, as you may learn, from the first two Provincial letters of the celebrated Pascal, by the soundest part of the Romish church. It was supported by the ablest Reformed divines of Great Britain, of continental Europe, and of America. In its favor we find the names of Luther, Calvin, Owen, Charnock, Edwards, Hopkins, Bellamy, and Dwight. Here stood the fathers of the Synod of Dort, and the Westminster divines. It is the doctrine professed in the confessions of the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Reformed Dutch churches in the United States."-Sermon on Regeneration by the late Rev. John De Witt, D. D. p. 3, 4.
"By regeneration the Scriptures sometimes mean the change both in the temper, and in the exercises which follow; namely, that in which the man is active, as well as that in which he is passive, and perhaps I may add conviction also."--"The old divines found it convenient to divide this change (throwing out conviction) into two parts. That change in the temper, antecedent to exercise, which is produced by the Spirit, they called regeneration; that change which consists in the new exercises of the moral agent, or in his actual turning to God, they called conversion."
"There is a taste or temper distinct from exercise. There is a stated propensity to feel and act thus and thus, which does not lie
merely in the stated mode of God's operation, but belongs to the man, and makes a part of his character, even when the temper is not in exercise." "Why are we pleased with one object rather than another? The answer from every tongue is, because it is adapted to our taste. Who can doubt that every man has a great variety of tastes, fitted to relish a still greater variety of objects in nature, in art, in science, in literature, in business, in amusements, in society? The long disputed question about a standard of taste turns on this, whether in the race at large, there is such a similarity of constitution as fits them to relish the same objects, and to be disgusted with the same. These tastes which exist anterior to the pleasure or disgust, are certainly in the mind, and are so connected with desire, love, hatred, and other affections as their cause, that they must be referred to the heart. Allow one of this family of tastes to stand related to divine objects, and I have found what I sought."
"You say you cannot conceive what that temper is. But you can conceive of an appetite of the mind, antecedent to desire, as easily as you can conceive of an appetite of the body, antecedent to hunger. You can conceive of a tendency of the heart to a certain kind of exercise as easily as you can conceive of a heart prepared to exercise at all-as easily as you can conceive of any faculty of the mind, or of the mind itself, distinct from exercise. And certainly you can con. ceive of this moral temper, as easily as you can conceive of those tastes which predispose men to relish the beauties of nature and art?
"It was the old way of thinking, that every animal had a nature, and acted it out; that the horse acted thus, because it had the nature of a horse and not of a serpent: that the different natures of birds, fish, and worms, were the causes of their different actions. But now it seems, there is no cause of any distinctive animal action, in the animal itself, except the mere organization of brute matter. Sin has no root in the human soul. The heart acts so because it acts so. To make depravity the reason, would only be to make a thing the cause of itself. There is nothing in the fountain which causes it to send forth bitter waters rather than sweet. If you say, the task will be as great to find a cause for the depraved temper, I answer: the well known process of induction, is the inferring of a general law from particular facts. That law, which is regarded as the cause of the facts arranged under it, may be resolved into another still more general, until you come to the most general that can be discovered. And for that, you can assign no other reason than that such is the will of our Creator. Now the question is, whether, when you have
found that the exercises of the heart are sinful, you have come to the most general conclusion possible, or whether, from the universal and continued exercise of sin, we may not infer a sinful nature or disposition in the race, just as we infer the law of gravitation from the frequent fall of heavy bodies. And if we may, and can go back no farther, we are not to be reproached with presenting a fact without assigning a cause."—Dr. Griffin's Sermon on Regeneration; in the National Preacher, Vol. VI. p. 322-326.
"We gather from the review itself-that the leading objections to the new Divinity, are those which have been urged from various quarters against some of the doctrines of the Christian Spectator.We need, therefore, be at no loss for the distinguishing features of the New Divinity. It starts with the assumption that morality can only be predicated of voluntary exercises: that all holiness and sin, consist in acts of choice or preference."-" Yet it is in behalf of this radical view of the new system, that the authority of Edwards, Bellamy, Witherspoon, Dwight, Griffin, Woods, as well as Augustine, and Calvin, is quoted and arrayed against Mr. Rand. Almost every one of these writers, not only disclaims the opinion thus ascribed to them, but endeavors to refute it."
"It would be an endless business to quote all that might be adduced to prove, that Edwards did not hold the opinion which the reviewer imputes to him. There can, it would seem, be no mistake as to his meaning-Neither is there any room for doubt, as to the sense in which he uses the words, disposition, principle, tendency, &c., because he carefully explains them, and characterizes the idea he means to express, by every one of the marks which the reviewer and others give, in describing what they spurn and reject under the name of principle,'' holy or sinful taste.' They mean something distinct from, and prior to, volitions; so does President Edwards; it is that which, in the case of Adam, to use his own word, was 'concreated;' it was a disposition to lovenot love itself—a relish for spiritual objects, or adaptation of mind to take pleasure in what is excellent; it was a kind of instinct, which as to this point, (i. e. priority as to the order of nature to acts) he says, is analogous to other instincts of our nature. He even argues long to show that unless such a principle of holiness existed in man prior to all acts of choice, he never could become holy. Again, the 'principle' or disposition' which they object to, is one which is represented as not only prior to voluntary exercises, but determines their character, and is the cause of their being what they are. So, precisely, President Edwards; it is a foundation laid in the nature of the
soul, for a new kind of exercise, of the faculty of the will.' This, he assumes in the case of Adam, to have existed prior to his choosing God, and determined his choice; what, in the case of men since the fall he assumes as the cause of their universally sinning; and in those which are renewed, as the cause of their holy exercises. If President Edwards did not hold and teach the doctrine, which the reviewer rejects and denounces, then no man ever did hold it, or ever can express it. The case is no less plain with regard to Dr. Dwight, who also gives the two characteristic marks of the kind of disposi. tion now in question, viz. its priority to all voluntary exercises, and its being the cause of the character of those exercises. Both these ideas are expressed with a frequency, clearness, and confidence, which mark this as one of his most settled opinions."-" Thus, he says, Adam was created holy; i. e. with holy or virtuous dispositions, propense to the exercise of holy volitions."" Again, he makes original sin, or depravity, derived from Adam, to consist in this sinful disposition— a contaminated moral nature-and argues that infants are depraved before they are capable of moral action.""
We have referred to the leading confessions of the period of the Reformation, to show that they all represent, as the constituent, essential idea of original sin-a corrupted nature—or hereditary taint derived from Adam, propagated by ordinary generation, infecting the whole race, and the source or root of all actual sin. This is not the doctrine therefore of Calvinists merely, but of the Reformed churches generally, as it was of the Catholic church before the Reformation. It is the doctrine too, of the great body of Arminians."-Biblical Repertory, Vol. IV. p. 279, 280, 281, 290.
These passages, then,-and a multitude of similar import, might be added from other discussions to which the controversy has given rise-abundantly verify the accuracy of the representation of the common doctrine, which is made the ground of the charge against it, of exhibiting depravity as a physical attribute-that it defines it as an affection of nature, represents it as existing prior to the commencement of voluntary agency, as the cause of the exertion of sinful actions, as transmitted by generation, and as removed in regeneration by a purely physical agency. All these