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thentic titles, the Scriptures, the same mass of evidence, the same solemn judgments and universal practices of the church, which we have produced in support of original sin, are equally applicable to every other doctrine which Christians contend for, Had we nothing else to offer in vindication of the ancient faith against modern philosophy, this argument alone would be sufficient to decide the question ; for we are confident, that there is no court of justice in the world, in which a cause, supported with such irresistible arguments as the above are, would not carry off the palm of victory,
SECOND OBJECTION FROM REASON. LXVIII, Can man sin before he exist ? Could the infant, that
is born six thousand years after Adam, consent or dissent to his prevarication? How could a just God impute a sin ta those who had no share in it ?
ANSWER. 1. To these, and other like difficulties, I shall here premise a general answer, which is this : It is a maxim received by all true philosophers and divines, and grounded on the very essence of things, that when a fact or proposition is de, monstratively proved to be self-evident, it cannot possibly be false ; from that moment, whatever difficulties may be alleged Against the said fact or proposition, and how unanswerable soever they may seem, the said fact or proposition ought to be considered as most certain and incontrovertible, and the objections urged against it as empty sophisms, void of weight and conclusiveness. Thus, as the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, rest upon intrinsic and most evident demonstrations, the few objections of some libertines against them, although you were gratuitously to suppose them irrefragable, can, in no ways, affect the absolute certitude of those fundamental truths. This maxim is founded on this first praeple of all sciences; the same thing, considered in the zame point of view, cannot at once be and not be, cannot be true and false at the same time. As, therefore, original guilt is proved beyond the possibility of a doubt, (as are likewise the other Christian doctrines,) the objections advanced against it cannot be of any weight whatever.
But lest this general observation should induce our oppo. nents to conclude that their arguments are unanswerable, we shall immediately proceed to their examination.
First, we are asked: Can a man sin before he exists ? Could an infant, that is born six thousand years after Adam, possibly consent to, or dissent from, his prevarication ?
LXIX, Answer. These, and the like objections, copied from the anti-christian sophisters, and founded on a pitiful equivocation on the word sin, confound actual and original sin with each other: and setting out with these confused notions, the disputes against religion are interminable,
“Can a man sin before he exists?" No, assuredly he cannot sin actually, by his own actual and physical will, before he actually and physically exists. But it is not thus man sinned in Adain: Adam alone personally committed original sin, by his own free physical will; or rather, what we call original sin, was in Adam an actual and personal sin, but not so in his posterity, who are not guilty of the sin of Adam, but in as far as they are the unhappy children of a guilty parent, in whom they were all morally contained, as in the moral head, the parent and representative of all mankind. Adam was appointed by the Almighty, head and representative of all men, with regard to the observance of the commandment which he imposed on him: Adam, as such, prevaricates, by his own personal free will, in consequence of which he is disgraced for his own personal guilt, and with him, all his descendants, not for their own actual guilt, but because they are the children of a rebellious parent, in whose fall and disgrace, as being in a moral sense, one person with him, they are involved. Thus original sin, in the first man, is a true, personal, actual guilt, but as far as original sin relates to the unhappy children of Adam, it is by po'means a personal and actual sin, but rather a moral and habitual guilt, transmitted by their first pa. rent, their moral head; it is an original sin, because physically committed by Adam, the very origin and principal of the human race, and contracted by his descendants in deriving their origin from him; it is the sin of human nature, because committed by the will of him who was its parent and its principal. As actual sin renders the whole man a sinner, so the sin of Adam rendered all human nature sinful, in every one that belongs to it, insomuch that God, having established Adam the principal of the human race, and entrusted him, as such, with every thing for his own person and his posterity, by his prevarication the whole human race became in him, as it were, one culprit, after nearly the same manner as the decay of the root suffices to blast the whole plant. This sin, considered in the descendants of Adam, chiefly consists in the privation of the sanctifying grace, and, (in case this be not restored by baptism received either in fact or in desire,) in the exclusion from eternal life. It is thus original sin, when considered as existing in the children of Adam, is explained by the fathers of the church, and the most able theologians : “A newly born child, (says St. Cyprian,) has sinned po other. wise, except that being born according to Adam, after the flesh, it has contracted the contagion of ancient death in its first birth."*
LXX. Objection. But how can God, consistently with his justice, punish the children for the guilt of the parents, which they did not physically, but only morally, commit?
Answer. Nearly after the same manner, we see the same done every day among men, without any one censuring such a procedure. Does not human justice itself punish the children 'for the crimes of their parents ? and are there not laws in almost every government, which degrade from the state of nobility, not only the criminal, but also all his posterity? These laws do not appear to men unjust. Or, would
* “ Infans recens natus nihil peccavit, nisi quod secuudum Adam carnaliter natus, contagionem mortis antiquæ prima nativitate contraxit." St. Cyprianus, Epist. 59 ad Fidum..
you deem it unjust in a sovereign to act after this or such like manner, with one of his subjects : “ If you be loyal and faithful to me, and take my interest to heart, I shall raise you to the first degree of nobility, make you my prime minister, and bestow on you an extraordinary pension; my favours shall not die with you, but pass to your descendants from generation to generation. But, on the contrary, if, instead of being loyal to me, you turn out a traitor, or rebel against me, then not only you in person, but all your posterity, shall be for ever deprived of the above advantages." Now this is, after our manner of considering things, nearly the way in which God proceeded with Adam, our head and representative, and who, of course, in this respect, was morally all men : “ If thou obey my voice, (such we conceive was the covenant which God made with Adam,) and abstain from the forbidden fruit, then not only thou shalt remain in the possession of sanctifying grace, of immortality, and be free from rebellious concupiscence, and the other miseries of life, but thou shalt transmit the same exalted privileges and munificent gifts to thy whole posterity': but if thou prevaricate, not only thou, but thy whole posterity, shall be stript of the same glorious endowments : for I have established thee their head and representative, and placed, as it were, their future fate in thy hands." Now, I ask, is there any thing blameable in this conduct? · LXXI. There is, replies the Unitarian, for how could God make my fate depend on the free will of another?. · He could do it, nearly after the same manner as the sovereign, in the above example, causes the fate of the children to depend on the loyalty of their parents; and after the same manner as the law considers the will of the guardian, as the moral will of his pupil, insomuch that whatever the guardian does in his capacity of guardian, is deemed to be done by the pupil himself.
LXXII. But how does it comport with the justice of God, to strip, in punishment for the guilt of the sinful parent, all his children, who had but a moral share in it, of sanctifying grace, of immortality, and, unless reborn in Christ, of eternal life?
This agrees as perfectly with the justice of God, as it agrées with the mortal sovereign abovementioned, to deprive the children of a rebellious subject of those gratuitous favours, which he had designed for them, had he continued faithful and loyal to him. And why is there not even a shadow of injustice in this ? The reason of it is obvious: because justice is then only violated, when you withhold from another that which is strictly due to him, and to which he has a strict claim. Now does the sovereign under consideration, by depriving the disloyal subject and his children of the promised favours, strip them of any thing that was strictly due to them, and to which they had an unalienable previous right? By no means : for it is manifest, that the said sovereign was in no wise bound to promise or bestow such extraordinary gifts upon his subject and his posterity, that he might have refused them, without the smallest violation of justice, even if his subject had always given him the strongest marks of his loyalty, because those favours are mere gratuitous gifts, they are privileges, and the free effects of royal benevolence, to which no one can lay a strict claim, with how much more reason then can he refuse them when the subject rebels against him? This example in some measure explains the case before us : for 1 ask, does God, by depriving men, in punishment of the crime of their first parent, of sanctifying grace, of the state of immortality, and the other appendages of original integrity, deprive them of any thing that is strictly due to them? No, the exalted prerogatives of original justice were so many grátuitous gifts and extraordinary privileges, which God no wise owed men, and which He might have refused, even if man had never sinned : so little were they due to him, so little was their requisition proportioned to the natural exigency of his nature. If God, then, without deviating from the dictates of his justice, might have refused these gifts to man when innocent, how much more so, to man when guilty ? But that the prerogatives of the state of original innocence, were mere gratuitous gifts of the infinite liberality of the Creator, is the constant doctrine of all Christian philosophers and divines,