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per influence of virtuous examples on children, born virtuous, among the early descendants of Adam.
If mankind are born with neutral characters, not inclined either to good or to evil, the difficulty will not be seriously lessened. In this case men ought now to be as generally virtuous as sinful; because this character furnishes exactly the same probability of the prevalence of virtue, as of sin. But no such equality has at any period of time existed. On the contrary, men are now, and ever have been, without an exception, sinners.
Uniform sin proves uniform tendency to sin : for nothing more is meant by tendency, in any case, but an aptitude in the nature of a thing to produce effects of a given kind. With this meaning only in view, we say, that it is the nature, or tendency, of an apple-tree to produce apples; and of a fig-tree to produce figs. In the same manner we must, I think, say, if we would say the truth, that it is the tendency, or nature, of the human heart to sin.
It is further objected, that the uniformity of sin in children, and therefore in all the human race, may be fairly explained by the nature of Moral Agency.
It is to be observed, that such, as make this objection, suppose the Freedom of the Will to lie in self-determination; the liberty of indifference; and the liberty of contingency. By persons, who hold this scheme, a more unfortunate objection to the doctrine could not, I apprehend, have been easily devised.
If the freedom of the will is the freedom of Contingency; then plainly its volitions are all accidents ; and certainly the chances, arithmetically considered, are as numerous in favour of virtuous volitions, as of sinful ones. There ought therefore, on this plan, to be, and ever to have been, as many absolutely virtuous per. sons in the world, as sinful. Plainly all ought not to be sin. ful.
If the freedom of the will is the freedom of Indifference; the same consequence ought to follow: for, if there be no bias in the mind towards either virtue or sin, at the time immediately preceding each of its volitions; and the freedom of each volition arises out of this fact; then certainly, there being no bias either way, the number of virtuous, and that of sinful, volitions must naturally be equal: and no cause can be assigned, why every man, independently of his renovation by the Spirit of God, should be sinful only.
If the Liberty of the Will consist in Self-determination ; and the mind, without the influence of any motive, first wills that it will form a second volition ; and this volition depends for its freedom on the existence of such a preceding one ; then it is plain, that from these preceding volitions as many virtuous as sinful ones ought to be derived; because the preceding, or self-determining, volitions, are by the supposition, under no influence or bias from any cause whatever.
Thus it is evident, that according to all these suppositions there could be no preponderancy, much less an universality, of sin in the world. The state of facts is, therefore, contradictory to the objection, as supported by them all.
Further, the Freedom of Will, and consequently Moral Agency, in Man in this world, is the same with that of the Spirits of just men made perfect in Heaven; the same with that of Angels; the same with that of the Man Christ Jesus. Whence, then, does it come to pass, that the same moral agency leads, or influences, these beings universally to virtue, and men in this world universally to sin? This question the objectors are bound to answer.
V. The last proof of the Doctrine, which I shall adduce at the present time, is the Death of Infants.
A great part of mankind die in infancy, before they are, or can be, capable of moral action; in the usual meaning of that phrase. Their death is attended with all the apparent suffering, usually experienced by persons of riper age, and with such suffering, at least, as plainly is often intense. Their death is, also, an ordinance of God; a dispensation of his immediate government. The language of this dispensation cannot, I think, be mistaken ; and its meaning cannot be that of approbation. It is also the language, literally, of the Curse, denounced against our first parents; and the execution of that Sentence, so far as this world is concerned. So St. Paul has directly declared, Death has passed upon all men for that all have sinned. The wages of sin is death. Death then, the fruit, or wages of sin, the punishment denounced against it in the original sentence, must, I think, be acknowledged to be indubitable evidence of the existence of de
pravity in every moral being; that is, every being capable of depravity; who is the subject of death.
It ought here to be remembered, that death arrests Infants in every form of distress and terror, in which it befals persons of riper years. They, together with others, are swept away by the immediate hand of God in those various judgments, with which He awfully punishes Mankind. They are swept away by the silent, awful hand of the pestilence ; are consumed by the conflagration; overwhelmed by the volcano; swallowed up by the earthquake; and wasted by the lingering agonies of famine. At the same time, they suffer, from Mankind, all the deplorable violence of war, and the unnatural cruelties of persecution.
With these facts in view, we are compelled to one of these conclusions; either that Infants are contaminated in their moral nature, and born in the likeness of apostate Adam ; a fact irresistibly proved, so far as the most unexceptionable analogy can prove any thing, by the depraved moral conduct of every infant, who lives so long, as to be capable of moral action: or that God inflicts these sufferings on moral beings who are perfectly innocent. - I leave the alternative to the choice of those, who object against this doctrine.
There are but two objections to this argument within my knowledge. The first is, that beyond the grave Infants may be compensated for their sufferings by receiving superior degrees of happiness. This Objection will be easily seen to be of no validity. It is certainly unnecessary for God to make Infants unhappy, here, in order to make them happy in any manner whatever, hereafter. Angels are made completely happy in heaven, without having suffered any preceding unhappiness. Plainly, Infants might be made happy, to any degree, in the same manner. But if the sufferings of Infants are unnecessary, then they are causeless, on the scheme of this Objection ; and God is supposed to create so much misery, merely to compensate it by so much future enjoyment. I think this conduct will not, soberly, be attributed to the Creator; since it would plainly be disgraceful to any of his Intelligent creatures.
The second Objection is, that God governs the Universe by General Laws; and that in their operation, inequalities, and evils, ought to be expected. There are two answers to this objection. The first is, that God cannot be supposed to establish any general law, which produces injustice; such as the suffering of virtuous beings must be acknowledged to be. The second is, that this is itself a general law; extending probably to one third, or one fourth, of the human race. The dispensation therefore, and not the exceptions, is unequal and evil, according to this scheme. Surely the difficulty is not lessened by such a supposition.
It will probably be farther said that so many difficulties attend this part of the doctrine, as to perplex, and distress, the mind no less than the suppositions already refuted. The difficulties, attending the existence of Moral Evil are, I readily acknowledge, very great, and they easily become very distressing; whatever scheme of thought we may adopt concerning this subject; that is, if we pursue it to any extent. But, I apprehend, the chief of those difficulties, which necessarily attend us, will be found to lie in the Fact, that Moral Evil exists. To these we may, or may not, as we please, add others, found in the particular scheme of doctrine, which we choose to adopt. The doctrine, asserted in this discourse, is, I think, unanswerably supported by Revelation, and by Facts. Of course, it adds to the original difficulties, inherent in the existence of Moral Evil, no new ones of its own.
The schemes, which I am opposing, contain, on the contrary, a new series of embarrassments, beside those, which are common to them and to the doctrine of this discourse. The truth is, the subject of Moral Evil is too extensive, and too mysterious, to be comprehended by our Understanding. Some things, the Scriptures teach us concerning it; and these are usually furnished with important evidence from facts. Many other things, pertaining to this subject, lie wholly beyond our reach. What we can know, it is our duty, and our interest, to know. Where knowledge is unattainable, it is both our duty and interest to trust humbly and submissively to the instructions of Him, who is The ONLY Wise.
But in this so difficult and perplexing dispensation there is nothing more absolutely inexplicable, than in many others, which, because we are less interested in them, we generally consider as scarcely mysterious at all. I will mention one, out of very
many. The state of the Animal world, generally, is such, as to baffle all human investigation. Why most animals exist at all, and why any of them are unhappy; are subjects, which defy and silence, the most ingenious inquiries of Man. Nor is it originally strange, that the dispensations of a Being, whose ways are above ours, as the heavens are higher than the earth, should be incomprehensible, and inexplicable, by us.
It ought to be here remembered, that that, which is true, is not affected by any difficulty whatever, so far as its truth merely is concerned; and that that, which is known, is not rendered less certain by that, which is unknown; whatever connexion may exist between them; or whatever embarrassments may arise concerning that, which is unknown.
It was with these views, that I chose to state the doctrine of this discourse in the words, in which it was expressed. I observed, that in consequence of the Apostasy of Adam all men have sinned. The universality of sin was, I trust, proved sufficiently in two preceding discourses. In this, if I mistake not, it has been proved, that the sin of Mankind has existed in consequence of that Apostasy. By this language I presume my audience un
I derstand me to intend, that if Adam had not fallen, sin would not hade entered this world. To this single fact I have confined all my observations; because this is the simple account, given in the Scriptures ; and because I supposed it capable of being easily comprehended, and satisfactorily proved.
I shall only add, that a Cause of human depravity is here alleged, of which all the characteristics, mentioned in the commencement of this discourse, may be truly predicated: viz. The corruption of that Energy of the Mind, whence volitions flow; and which I have heretofore asserted to be the seat of moral character in Rational beings. This cause must be acknowledged to be universal; to be every where the same ; and not to have always existed. It must also be conceded, that it began to exist, according to the Scriptures, as early as the effects, which have given birth to all our inquiries concerning the Corruption of Mankind.