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were in substantial agreement. Hopkins, who first gave this treatise on original sin to the public, expressed no dissent from it, and regarded President Edwards as having entirely baffled his opponent. At a later period, he dropped the distinction between original sin and actual transgression, which Edwards and the New England theologians have generally held, and resolved all sin into action.
Edwards also stood on the true Calvinistic ground. “Original sin,” says the Genevan divine, “ appears to be an hereditary pravity and corruption of our nature diffused through all the parts of the soul.” Adam's transgression “not only procured misery and ruin for himself, but also precipitated our nature into similar destruction. And that, not by his personal guilt, as an individual, which pertains not to us, but because he infected all his descendants with the corruption into which he had fallen.” “And this liableness to punishment arises not from the delinquency of another; for when it is said that the sin of Adam renders us obnoxious to the divine judgment, it is not to be understood as if we, though innocent, were undeservedly loaded with the guilt of his sin, but because we are all subject to a curse on account of his transgression, he is therefore said to have involved us in guilt. Nevertheless we derive from him not only the punishment, but also the pollution to which the punishment is justly due." *
Anselm, before Edwards or Calvin, had taken the same view: “When an infant is condemned for original sin, he is not condemned for Adam's sin, but for his own, for if he had not his own sin, he could not be condemned.” Augustine held that “vitium originale” is “ vitium hereditarium.” And of Tertullian's traducianism, the transmission of a sinful nature was the very essence.
Upon this ancient and honorable platform, the Methodist theology upon this subject fairly and fully places itself. It is an interesting fact that Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley were occupied at the same time in elaborate replies to Dr. Taylor. Edwards finished his treatise in May, 1757, and Wesley his in August of the same year.
* Institutes, B. II, Chap. I. Sec. 6–8.
On the main questions at issue, the moral corruption of man's nature, and the imputation of Adam's sin,—the total fall of the race in the first man, and inability to good in that state except by grace,-they were in essential agreement, and substantially Calvinistic. Their illustrations of the subject and modes of vindicating the divine government, though original, are, in some cases, strikingly similar. The Congregationalist is the more philosophical and profound, the Methodist the more laconic, pithy and practical. Both wrote from a deep Christian experience, from spiritual conflicts, and a breadth of religious consciousness, which carried them far above cold speculation into the warm life of things.
" Original sin,” says Wesley, “is that sinful impurity which every man brings into the world,” a “nature tinted with sin." “We came into the world with sinful propensities, sinful dispositions derived from Adam.” “God does not look upon infants as innocent, but as involved in the guilt of Adam's sin, otherwise death, the punishment denounced against that sin, could not be inflicted upon them.”
Wesley's treatise contains a minute defence of the Westminster propositions respecting original sin. His letter to Dr. Taylor a year or two after he published his reply, is graphic and characteristic :
“REVEREND Sır: I esteem you as a person of uncommon sense and learning; but your doctrine I cannot esteem. . . . Either you or I mistake the whole of Christianity, from the beginning to the end ! Either my scheme or yours is as contrary to the Scripture as the Koran is. Is it mine or yours? Yours has gone through all England, and made numerous converts. I attack it from end to end. Let England judge whether it can be defended
or not." *
In this view of the derivative character of the Edwardean theology, it is something more than a provincialism. Nor can it properly be regarded as an improvement, except in its modes of statement and defence. Its affiliations are clearly with the genuine Calvinistic school. It brings nothing essentially
* Wesley's Works, Vol. 5, p. 669.
new to that school, and excludes from it nothing of substantial doctrine that is old. If we do not mistake, it is in substance identical with it, and with it the Augustinian and Pauline . theology which preceded it.
Prof. Fisher, in a compact and instructive article in the New Englander* appears to class Edwards and Calvin with the immediate imputationists. But these men, on the subject of original sin, we believe do not admit this classification. In respect to President Edwards, they regard it as one of his very few mistakes that he held the mediate doctrine. Historic fairness is leading them to relinquish Calvin also, and to place him in the same category with Edwards. The history of the immediate imputation doctrine, which includes the workings of some of the noblest minds of the Reformed Church, is for the most part, post-Calvinistic, and seems to have been brought forward against the Arminian movement. We submit that both Cal. vin and Edwards belong more exactly to Prof. Fisher's second class than to the fourth ;-to those whose doctrine rests on the assumption that moral evil, like physical evil, is hereditary." Both adopt the doctrine of an “inherited corruption of character which is culpable.” Both deny that the descendants of Adam, being innocent, are accounted guilty for his transgression, and teach that, inheriting an evil disposition from himas a penal consequence of his sin, they are accountable for their
It is not our object to inquire whether this Edwardo-Calvinian doctrine of Imputation and Original Sin is true or false, but to indicate our belief that it is much older and has a more honorable progenitor than Joshua Placaeus, or any theologian of the 17th century. As the radix of New England Theology it is not an exotic. It has struck deep into the native soil of the church, and borne in all climes branches of the tree of life, as they have been grafted into it and made fruitful by the supernatural culture of the divine husbandman. It may not furnish a solution of the difficult problem satisfactory to all. Nor does any other theory. But it has the advantage of a solid basis in the following generally admitted facts.
* Vol 18, No. 3, p. 698.
1st. The unity of the human family in one common human nature. 2d. The present abnormal condition of the race in a state of hereditary moral evil. 3d. This evil in the race is traceable through successive generations, up to the first sin of the first man. 4th. A federal or covenant transaction with Adam as the representative of the race, in accordance with which they were to stand or fall with him, as he obeyed or transgressed the law. It accounts for these facts by saying, as all reasonable theories must do: it pleased God, as a wise Creator, to constitute men on the plan of unity, as a race. It pleased him, as a wise, moral governor, to make Adam the representative head under law for the whole. When he transgressed it pleased God, as a just Judge, to withdraw communion from him as a penalty for his sin, through which his sin. ful disposition became a confirmed principle in him and in his posterity.
We have aimed in this expose of the Theology of President Edwards, to act the part of the historical interpreter—not to put our thoughts into his words, but to let him speak out his
Our object has been not eisegesis, but exegesis, to unfold the ground-work of the system—its self-consistency in the harmony of the internal and internal, the pistis and gnosis. Some will dissent from our construction on this hand, and some on that, as they fall into the right or left wing of this central body of New England Theology. Some take the prestige of Edwards' name for the New Divinity, and some for the Old. Some claim him as an Old Calvinist, and some as a Hopkinsian or New Calvinist. One party says he was the founder of a new school, another that he was only an original and most successful teacher in the old. His son wrote an essay on half a score of “Improvements made in Theology” by his father. But the honor of several of these improvements, he gave to certain "followers” of his father, who, by a metaphor, called their aberrations from their master, his improvements. By the same figure of speech, theories which the elder Edwards never taught, and some of which he repudiated, are sometimes called Edwardean, simply bécause held by the younger Edwards, or some other reputed follower of Edwards.
Hopkins, the pupil, the fireside friend and biographer of the father, says he was a Calvinist, “on the maturest examination of the different schemes, and the comparison of them with the oracles of God.” He also represents the younger Edwards, when a student in theology, as in positive and self-confident opposition to several of the main positions of the father, and it is evident that to some of them he never became reconciled. Pres. Edwards himself says he should not take it amiss to be called a Calvinist, though he disclaimed believing the doctrines he held because Calvin taught them, and also believing in every thing just as he taught. If by the Old Theology is meant that Adam's sin is immediately imputed to his posterity antecedently to their real sinfulness, so that they, being innocent, are held as personally guilty of his act, and by the New, that imputation is mediate, through the transmission of a sinful nature, which is the antecedent and ground of imputation, Pres. Edwards was doubtless with the New. But if by the New Theology is meant that happiness is the chief end of God in Creation, and that self-love is the primal motive in virtuous affections,—that God would have prevented sin, but conld not, and therefore permitted it; and by the Old, that holiness and God's excellence and glory are the chief end, both of God and good men, and that God was able to prevent moral evil, but saw it best to permit and overrule it, to something higher than prevention ;--if the New holds that depravity comes by each one's own intelligent voluntary act, in a nature that tends to sin, but which we stigmatize when we call it sinful, from disordered sensibilities and bodily appetites, and that the fall was of the animal rather than of the man; that original sin is each one's first transgression of known law, and that each has plenary power, as well as faculties, for all duty ;-if this be the New, Edwards, in the elaborate and masterly defence of the * Calvinistic Divinity," was unquestionably with the Old, and against the New. And in no one of his treatises, is he more explicitly and fully so than in the last on Original Sin. Hence the difficulty in conciliating its teachings with those antiEdwardean schemes, called by his name simply because taught by his son or son's followers.