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be stated, calculated to cast light on the subject, and to relieve the minds of honest and candid enquirers.
1. It is possible, in the nature of things, that finite moral beings, who are created perfectly holy, should become sinful and depraved, both in heart and practice. A created moral agent is as capable of sin, as of holiness. And God's solemn treatment of Adam and Eve, before their fall, and while they were in a state of special and particular probation for a confirmation in holiness, clearly indicated, even their danger of apostacy. Had there been, in their case, no danger of sin and ruin ; why did the Lord charge and admonish them, so strictly, to refrain from the interdicted tree? Being then perfectly holy, was not, in itself considered, the least security for their perseverance in holiness : because they were very capable of transgression, and might be disposed to transgress the law of God. Holiness and sin are equally the voluntary exercises and acts of free agents; and one is as possible as the other. We therefore see no propriety in saying, as is often said, that, “our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sioning against God.” They invariably enjoyed the freedom of their own will, whether in a state of perfect holiness, or perfect sinful.
And this was essential to moral agency. Without this freedom, they would have been utterly incapable of sin or holiness, and incapable of moral government.
2. More fully to solve the difficulty, and to account for the fall of man, which, in itself considered, was a most awful and disastrous event ; the scriptures warrant us to state, that God saw it to be most for his own glory, and for the highest good of the universe, so to order events in his providential government, that sin should take place, both in men and angels. He foresaw, because he had wisely determined, that the wrath of man, and the malice of devils should praise him. So that, instead of embracing the most absurd idea, that the Almighty labored, and labored in vain, to prevent the introduction of moral evil ; we ought to entertain the rational and consoling idea, that he always holds the throne of the uni
verse, that he is subject to no defeat, no disappointment, do rivalship with the powers of darkness. For our great consolation, we ought to be established in the belief, that nothing can take place, under the wise and holy administration of Jehovah, more than was, from eternity, comprised in his infinitely holy and unsearchable decree. That the eternal plan and covenant of redemption, by the death of the Mediator, was embraced in the divine decree, all christians will grant. But this plan, in which the glory of God, and the welfare of his kingdom were to be most richly displayed, clearly implied the fall of men and angels. Without the fall of man, redemption would have been needless; and without the fall of angels, the part allotted to the devils could never have been acted. The whole system of redemption and salvation by grace, declared by David as a divine decree, clearly implies, that, by the same divine decree, sin came into the world ; and has pervaded all the human race. This is the only possible way to account for the fall of man, and for every other event whatever. It is God 66 who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."
But here let it be remembered, and kept distinctly in mind, that the divine decree is a thing entirely different from the moral agency of mankind ; and has no influence at all, to destroy, or in any measure, to impair human liberty or free agency. When angels and map rebelled, they rebelled against the law of God. This they violated; but not his decrees. Had they violated his decrees, infinite reproach would have been attached to his character, and universal ruin
would have been brought on the universe. But since God's counsel stands, and he has done, and will do all his pleasure ; we may rest assured, that his own glory, and the best interests of the universe are secured. Though the apostacy from God, and the existence of sin and misery may seem mysterious, and most lamentable ; yet there remains a most substantial ground of confidence, and rejoicing in the Lord. Every truly humble and benevolent heart, feels relieved from the darkness and despondency of mind which arises from a view of the immense flood of evils occasioned by
the fall of man. In a view of the universality of God's decrees, and the execution of them all, by the agency of his wise and holy providence, benevolence is satisfied. Every humble heart is satisfied, and comforted. Satan is confounded, fallen man is reproved, and humbled ; and the glorious
scheme of redemption is revealed. The Lord alone is exalted, and his enemies are found liars. Ultimately, The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent....AMEN.
HAVING, in the preceding essay, considered the temp. tation and fall of our first parents ; we now proceed to an investigation of their subsequent character and state. That a very great change took place, in consequence of their apostacy and rebellion against God, all must acknowledge. But how great this change was, is a subject of much dispute. By many it is contended, that by the fall, man but partly lost the moral image of God, and
; that all his posterity have sustained the same mixed character ; being deeply corrupted in heart, being partly, but not totally depraved. Others maintain the opinion, that the immediate, and the abiding consequence of the first transgression, was total sinfulness and depravity of heart. This is the opinion now to be vindicated, as a branch of the system of divine truth.
Whether it was a matter of necessity, in the nature of the case, that if man sinned at all, he should sin with all his heart; we are not informed. But supposing it had been possible, that he should apostatize only in part, retaining still a measure of real virtue and holiness; yet this was not the case in fact. In his first transgression, his whole heart was evidently involved in sin, and dis
gave me of
affection to his God. This was his appearance, when he was called to an account for his transgression. He had foolishly attempted to hide himself from the presence of the Lord, among the trees of the garılen ; and to conceal the shame of his nakedness, by a garment of figleaves, These were strong indications of total depravity. And when he actually appeared before his God, and was interrogated by him, “ Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldest not eat ?” he tacit. ly acknowledged the fact; but made no retraction. He was full of shame and guilt; but, to exculpate himself, he indirectly cast the blame on God himself.
66 The woman whom thou gavest to be with me,
she the tree, and I did eat.” Is it possible, that any degree of depravity, short of that which is total, could produce such insolence as this ? Christians, who are but partly sanctified, take all the blame of their transgressions to themselves. But Adam and Eve offered to God their apologies ; which proves, that they were totally destitute of holiness.
It is further evident, from God's threatening to our first parents, “ Thou shalt surely die,” that their fail was total. This death we have found to mean eternal death ; or eternal misery, in the region of devils and damned spirits. Now if their apostacy tad been but partial; and if they had still retained a good degree of virtue, and holiness of heart; surely, they were not prepared, by their first transgression, for that death that was threatened. They were, by no means, prepared to be the companions of devils and damned spirits, forever. This threatening was not indeed executed, in the day of Adam's fall, but a reprieve was granted, and pardon was granted to the truly penitent, only through the mediation and atonement of the divine Redeemer; which plan of divine mercy was immediately after the fall, revealed to our first parents; and in this way, the divine threatening was established and vindicated, by the blood of Christ; and redemption was purchased for all who embraced the Saviour. Adam and Eve doubtless embraced the Saviour, and the plan of redemption by his blood. For they im
mediately commenced religious sacrifices, and appeared, thereafter, to enjoy the favor of God. But this whole scheme of redemption by the blood of Christ, is grounded on the doctrine of the total depravity of our first parents. By this plan, the whole law of God, with all its threatenings was established, magnified and made honorable. And “ Christ hath redeemed” Adam and Eve, and all other penitent sinners, “ from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them." All this implies the total depravity of mankind.
But, whether our first parents, in their apostacy from God, were totally involved in sin or not; yet it is ahunJantly evident, that this was the character, and still continues to be the character, of all their posterity: The first divine testimony on this point, was pronounced long before the flood. 6 God saw, that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and, that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." It is added in the connection, that the imagination of inan's heart is evil from his youth ;" or infancy. These are very strong expressions of the total, and even universal depravity of the human heart. Lest
man should imagine, that depravity is chiefly limited to the heathen; and that the Jewish and Christian nations have been in a good measure free from the contagion; the Apostle Paul, by a most thorough investigation, proved, that both Jews and Gentiles, meaning the whole human race, in their natural state, are all under sin. And this he proved from the old testament, “ As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way; they are together becoine unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips : whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way
have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This is a very full and decisive testimony of