Page images
PDF
EPUB

I. THE PRIMITIVE STATE OF MAN.

The Augustinian Theory.

Adam possessed a rational nature made after the divine likeness. This nature was highly developed, so that he was more noble, wise and excellent than any who ever came after him. He likewise possessed free will, as a power to sin or to refrain from sinning. This free will was not sufficient of itself to enable him to stand: but the aid of grace was afforded which rendered it sufficient; and yet this grace was not irresistible grace. The free will of man was one of inferior degree. He possessed the posse non peccare—the ability not to sin ; but not the non posse peccare--the inability to sin. The power to do good, and the non posse peccare constitute the highest form of freedom. This is the freedom of God as the immutable good, of angels, and the “just made perfect.” But man, being made out of nothing, is at first an inferior and mutable good. Had Adam persevered, he would finally have attained to the higher freedom, the non posse peccare.

Before the fall the passions were subject to the reason. Hence there was no inordinate and evil concupiscence of any kind. “The connexion of the sexes would indeed have taken place in Paradise ; but in such a way, that either no sensual passion would have been excited, or it would have been subject to the dominion of reason, and would not have risen in opposition to its dictates."

The body which he inhabited corresponded to the purity and excellence of his mind. It was majestic, beautiful, free from disease and pain, and immortal. He did not possess the ima mortality of angels, and of the bodies of the risen saints. It was an immortality which depended upon the fact of his not sinning. Had he persevered in holiness, with the attainment of the non posse peccare, there would have been conjoined the impossibility of dying; and he would have passed into a spiritual body.

Eden was the fitting habitation of a being so holy and happy. Even the beasts were tame and gentle, and lived on the common vegetable aliment. And“ if extreme old age would finally have worked their dissolution, so that human nature alone should possess eternal life; they would have been removed from Paradise, or would have gone forth, led by a sense of impending SECOND SERIES, VOL. V. NO. I.

18

death; so that death might happen to no living thing in that place of life.”

The Pelagian Theory. “ The state of man before the fall was the same as it is now.” He was a being of intelligence, free will and passions, with the ability to sin or to refrain from sinning. Then as now, his body was subject to disease and death. Hence,“ the words, in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, referred to spiritual death, i. e. sin.” “ The primitive state of the first man was superior only in this, that no example of sinning had yet been presented for imitation; and the first man who came into the world as an adult, had the full use of reason at the beginning,” and the perfect exercise of his freedom. “Even concupiscence, which Augustine held as something evil, and as the mother of all evil, but which the Pelagians explained as a natural passion, was found in Paradise.”

“ Julian, a follower of Pelagius, admitted that Adam was created immortal, in the sense, that if he had not sinned, he would have obtained immortality by eating of the tree of life.”

II. FREE Will.

Augustinian Theory. Augustine represents the will before the fall as an activity, entirely able and free to sin; also able and free to do good by the aid of grace actually communicated. Since the fall, it is an activity free only to sin, and totally unable to do good. The highest form of freedom is the non posse peccare.

Pelagiun Theory. In the original constitution of man, the will is an activity capable of both good and evil. In this lies its freedom; and in this “ freedom to good and evil consists the superiority of the

[ocr errors]

III. THE FALL OF ADAM AND ORIGINAL SIN.

Augustinian Theory. Adam was free to sin, and he sinned. This Augustine takes as a primary fact. He does not account for the sin of Adam out of Adam himself: he was the cause of the first transgression.

Original sin is Adam's sin considered as participated in by all his posterity. Adam, as the first man, comprehended within himself his whole posterity. In the very act by which he sinned, they sinned likewise. And hence, whatever consequences affected Adam personally, affected his posterity. These conse quences are condemnation to eternal death; temporal death; evil concupiscence or disordered passion in general, and sexual desire in particular—attested by the shame of nakedness; the pains of parturition; the necessity of labor, and the production of thorns and thistles; all moral and physical evils, and the loss of personal beauty. “The nature of man, both in a physical and a moral view, is totally corrupted by Adam's sin.” All these consequences are penal consequences.

In this sin, Adam, and all his posterity in him, lost the ability to do good and became the slaves of sin. Even infants, although they should die while infants, are guilty, and subject to penal consequences, because they sinned in Adam.

Pelagian Theory. Adam sinned only for himself. His sin is not original sin in relation to his posterity. Every one who comes after him is born into the world as pure and free as Adam was created, and is in a less advantageous position, only in respect of the weakness of infancy, and the necessity of growing up under the influence of sinful example.

IV. BAPTISM.

Augustinian Theory. The subjects of baptism are infants and adults. In general baptism is indispensable to salvation. The only exceptions are

heathen, as they are destitute of both faith and baptism, are lost. The damnation of infants will be of a milder form: and the heathen, who lived comparatively just and pure lives, will be adjudged to milder punishment than licentious idolaters.

The efficacy of baptism, in respect to infants, is to remove the guilt of original sin. All who are baptised in infancy, if they die before they are capable of actual transgression, will assuredly be saved. It is presumed, however, that the grace of the Holy Spirit is given at the time of baptism, for their spiritual regeneration. In the case of adults, baptism effects a complete redemption from sin, both original and actual. “Baptism, in Augustine's view, was the means, not only of obtaining pardon from all sin, but of being freed from all evil.”

The Eucharist is involved in baptism; so that all the baptised are to be at once admitted to its participation. Hence it is to be administered even to infants.

In the case of infants, baptism alone is sufficient for salvation, because they are incapable of exercising faith. In the case of adults, faith and baptism are alike indispensable, unless the rite is clearly impossible. In the case of adults as well as infants, while the external rite was imperatively demanded, so that even faith could not, in ordinary circumstances, save without it; still the regeneration of the heart was effected by the accompanying influences of the Holy Spirit: but these influences were secured by the performance of the rite.

Pelagian Theory.

In the case of adults, the Pelagians affirm the efficacy of baptism no less than the Augustinians, except in respect to original sin, which the former deny. In the case of infants, there is no efficacy in baptism to the removal of original sin, because there is no original sin. But inasmuch as both parties practised infant baptism, and united in attributing to it an efficacious operation on the soul itself, it became necessary for the Pelagians to show the necessity and uses of baptism in an uncorrupted being. This they attempted, by making the extraordinary distinction between eternal life and the kingdom of heaven. To the first the infant is entitled, on the groun.I of

infant baptism to be the remission of sins, which should afterwards be committed.

Baptism, as generally expounded and practised in the church, was based upon the theory of original sin. The Pelagian dared not rebel against the authority of the church in relation to this rite, and therefore he found himself in an awkward position when he broached his doctrine. The Augustinian, on the other hand, employed the generally received notion of the efficacy of baptism as an argument for the doctrine of original sin: but then he had to meet the consequence of an indiscriminate condemnation of all unbaptised persons, heathen, infants, and even adult believers, unless the baptism of the latter were impossible.

V. GRACE.

Augustinian Theory. By the fall, Adam, with all his posterity as comprehended in him, lost all freedom of will to the performance of good. If man, therefore, be left to rely wholly upon himself in this fallen condition, he cannot attain to any good whatever. Now, “God has in himself the hidden causes of certain acts, which he has not implanted in the things he has made; and these causes he puts in operation, not in that work of Providence by which he makes natures to exist, but in that by which he manages as he will, the natures that he constituted as he chose. And there is the grace by which sinners are saved. For as it respects nature, depraved by its own bad will, it has of itself no return, except by God's grace, whereby it is aided and restored.” This grace or special

power of God must be prevenient to every act, emotion, or movement, even the slightest, which man makes for the recovery of holiness. Hence, faith, love, the knowledge of what is truly good, the “power to will good," and every good act in particular are all dependent upon the supernatural and immediate inward operation” of grace or these “ hidden causes.'

" In bestowing this grace, God has no respect to the worthiness of man—for man can have no worthiness at all-but God here acts after his own free will. By what reasons of proprie ety he is influenced it is not for us to decide.” This grace is irresistible. Man cannot controvert its effects if he would ; or, rather, working in his will to restore his freedom, resistance on his part is not supposable. The operation of these hidden causes,” or grace, does no violence to the original constitution of man, but is in accordance with it.

« PreviousContinue »