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cause of the falling of an apple from a tree, took it as a guide, and starting into the immensity of space, explored the universe, and saw it all moving, and preserved in liarmonious order, by virtue of the same law--systems after systems, whirling, with all their suns, and planetary, and satellitical, and cometary, and astroidal worlds, with as unerring certainty, as the apple tended to the earth, and then returning, unfolded the mysteries of the tides, the motions of the winds, the oscillations of the pendulum, and a thousand other phenomena, that present themselves around this globe?
When we have ascertained a principle of divine government, we should not fear to pursue it in all its legitimate applications; nor through any of those grand illustrations, which, as it were, stand forth in bold relief, in the providence of God. Such a principle, we think, is discernible in the great law of reproduction, and of assimilating development, which marks the providential agency of God. Its bearing, on the subject of human depravity, we shall endeavour to trace. But, in the mean time, would caution the reader, against supposing that we advocate the idea of any seminal principles, physically innate or latent in the soul, which are derived by natural descent. What the Confession of Faith says of our first parents, viz: that “They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this (the first) sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation," is sufficiently intelligible, without resorting to the supposition of there being, in our very constitutional properties, an operative principle, which is the efficient cause of sin, and renders it physically necessary.
1. Westminster Confession of Faith, c vi. sec. 3.
THE DERIVATION OF DEPRAVITY.
An inquiry as to the origination of the human soul-The idea of all human
souls being concreated with Adam's cxamined-Does not relieve the doctrine of Adam's representation, and the imputation of guilt — The facts in the case as far as they are ascertainable—The creation of the human nature of Adam, of Eve, and of Christ throws no light on the subjectThe law of development observable in the production of human be, ings- Various analogical illustrations of this great principle of the divine government-Its application to the circumstances and condition of human beings-1. A constitutional nature is derived from Adam, which is subjected to a forfeiture of privileges and immunities that could have been secured by his obedience-Subject to disease and death--Inquiry whether eternal life is included in that forfeiture-2. Men come into existence, under circumstances which render it morally certain, that they universally will sin, as soon as they are capable of moral agency-An inquiry whether there is in man's nature, an efficient cause, whose operation renders it certain, that men will sin—Quotations from RivetOwen—The distinction between natural and moral inability--Some remarks on the whole subject.
It may perhaps be thought extravagant, and tresspassing into the regions of conjecture, to treat of the origination of the human soul. Yet as men have speculated on this subject, and there is reason to suspect, that some of their speculations have been assumed as verities, and have ex. erted, both a practical influence on their conduct, and a controling influence on their belief in some important matters, it cannot be pronounced presumptuous, to attempt, as far as reason and scripture, and the observation of facts may aid, to ascertain the truth.
The idea that all human souls were created simullaneously with Adam's, and are introduced into human bodies according as they are prepared for them in ordinary genesation, as indeed, all the schemes with regard to pre-existence and transmigration, whether adopted by ancient philosophical heathen, or advocated by more modern authors, scarcely deserves attention. There is no proof, as to the matter of fact, to be drawn, either from human consciousness, from the history of the world, or from the declarations of scripture. Analogy would lead us to a very opposite opinion. Nor are the reasons assigned for the probability of its being the fact, at all satisfactory.
li is unsafe to reason from our ignorance. Because we do not know a thing is not so, therefore it may be; and because, we do not know but that such a thing may be, therefore it is, j; a most fallacious species of argument. And, as to the difficulties, in which, the successive production of rational creatures, consessedly depraved, seems to involve the divine agency, and the occasion which it is supposed to furnish for animadversion on the divine character, they are not at all obviated by the supposition of the preeristence and simultaneous creation of human souls.
Nor can it at all relieve the theory of representation and the consequent imputation of guilt. In the ordinary alfairs of life, we do indeed act on the principle, that the constituents and representative, are both in being; yea, and that the latter has been constituted such by the will of the former. If, in the relation between parent and offspring, there seems to be a departure from the principle recognized in other repesentative relations, a very satisfactory reason can be assigned for it, in the circumstance, that the offspring are brought into existence, through the instrumentality of the parent, and are, for a considerable portion of their existence, dependent on his care. The act of the representative or ngent in ordinary cases, affects the constit
uents; and, it is admitted justly enough, because the latter have employed, deputed, or, if we may so speak, by their own selection and commission, and instructing of hin, have, as it were, identified themselves with him. No one however, pretends that the act of a parent affects the child, because of any consent ur instruction, actual or implied, given by the child previously. The law however, guards carefully, against the parents being affected-save in those moral respects, which human law cannot obviateby the act of the child, except in those cases where it was done by the authority or with the consent and approbation of the parent. To contend therefore, for the pre-exist. ence of human souls, in order to vindicate the conduct of God, as the great moral governor, in making the character and condition of human beings, dependent on the act of Adam, the primitive parent, and thus to account for the derivation of depravity, will be of no avail. It is pushing the idea of representation too far, and does indeed secure nothing in the respect for which it is mainly intended.
There is no proof, nor ean there be, that the world of human souls, supposed by some, to have been created when God breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul, consented to, and approved of the act of God, in making him their great representative to act for them, in the high concernments of their eternal destiny. It will not do, it is not safe, to run analogies too far. They may illustrate, and shadow forth, or help to some conception of, a thing of the full and accurate apprehension of which we are incapable. To press them further, is dangerous: and it is perhaps, more than mere conjecture, that not a little of the obscurity and mysticism, on the subject of human depravity, arises out of confused notions of Adam's representative character_his representation of the human race, being viewed as essentially the same with the various forms and modifications of it, with
which we mect in common life, and which are sometimes adduced in illustration of it.
Unquestionably there must be some features in the relation which existed between Adam and his progeny, which are not to be traced in those resemblances of it occurring in ordinary life, and we therefore ought not to allow ourselves to conceive of it entirely by what we see, but carefuily endeavour, by an observation of facts, and the great principles which mark the government of God, to ascertain it. Suppositions, resorted to, or necessary to sustain a theory, might safely, in every instance, be questioned. Undoubtedly they may be safely rejected, and such is the character of the supposition which we at present contemplate. It is recommended mainly, because it is thought to throw some light on the representative character of Adam, and relieve the doctrine of derived depravity, from the apparent ground which it affords, to object against the purity of God the Creator.
In this latter respect, it fails as entirely as in the former. For, if it cannot be supposed that God creates a being physically impure, and that therefore, all human souls, must have been created before the fall, and that they become impure by virtue of their being introduced into bodies propagated from the guilty parents of our race, how is the justice or purity of God relieved? Are they not as deeply implicated, as upon the supposition of their progressive formation, if not more so? As rational beings, they must have been under the government of law; and if they were, the justice of God could not have re
mained unimpaired, had He, by an arbitrary constitution, . made the future character and condition of innocent creat
ures already existing, yea, and their eternal destiny, dependent on the conduct of one being, differently situated, under a different moral constilution, and subjected them because of his rebellion, to misery and degradation, by