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THE MORAL CERTAINTY OF HUMAN DE
We are exposed, from the earliest period of our moral history to the indu
ence of causes which secure a deranged exercise of our moral powersDifficult to trace the influence of these things—An harmony in his moral exercises, originally characteristic of Adam— This harmony was de. ranged through the sublety of Satan's temptations-One wilful act changed the whole moral aspect of the world— Noticed particularly in respect of the moral feelings of our first parents-Traced in respect of their progeny-Inquiry as to what brings men under the actual government of law–Difference between God's providential and moral government-Out of place to ask whether, and how infants sin—The theory of moral unity or representation in Adam noticed-Some remarks to prevent mistake-A brief view of man as furnished with various capacities for thought, feeling and action—The law of reproduction applicable here--Psalm ii, 5.-Conscience affected not by theories, but by personal crime-General laws affecting the development of human capacities–These laws perverted—Instinct-Animal sensation--Passions and affections Inquiry whether infants possess moral character-Moral character the result of moral acts---Neither sin nor holiness predicable of infants personally—More abundant causes for men's universally sinning, than for the first sin of our progenitors.
In the chapter before the last, we digressed into a consideration of the question of human ability, as it presented itself in the course of our investigations on the subject of derived corruption. In the chapter preceding that, the fact had been noticed, that men inherit from Adam, a constitutional nature, which is subjected to a forfeiture of privileges and immunities that would have been secured by his obedience; and also, that they come into being, under circumstances, which render it morally certain, that they will sin, as soon as they are capable of moral agency. It is our object, in this chapter, to adyert to the developements of human character, as from the very earliest period of their history, men are exposed to the influence of causes nr circumstances, which render it morally certain that they will universally sin as soon as they are capable of moral action.
It were an endless task, to unfold the eyer-varying modifications of corrupt character. They are as numerous, as the individuals of our race, and as diversified, as the combinations of human passion, which may be excited by ever-varying circumstances. To analyse these, we shall not attempt. To do so, would render it necessary, among other things, to investigate the excedingly perplexed and intricate subject of insanity.--For, it is very manifest that, many of its manifestations are owing to the inordi. nate growth, and ascendant influence of some one partic. ular passion. All that we can adventure is, some general reflections to guide the further inquiries of the reader.
We have already seen, that when Adam was created, there was an harmony in the exercise of all his moral powers.
His intellectual perceptions, his sensitive emotions, and his voluntary actions, were in unison. As his mind perceived, his heart felt, and his will determined. The operations of his self-love, or the instinctive desires of his soul after happiness, were in perfect accordance with his duty. On yielding to their impulses, and in seeking his enjoyment in the things which God had prescribed, he incurred not the accusations of conscience.
On the contrary, he secured its approbation, without which he could pot have been blessed.
The templer contrived to destroy this harmony. He awakened emotions, which obscured his perceptions of
truth, and induced him to act directly contrary to the divine will. A desire for knowledge, a general respect for the character of God, the natural appetite for food, the influence of animal senses, entire practical ignorance of sin, were all appealed to, and roused into action, and through the specious reasonings of the tempter, our first mother made the desperate experiment, determining to do, and doing what God had probibited. From that very moment, a moral derangement took place. That one resolute act of will, drew with it most fearful consequentes in her own moral history, and that of her race. She instantly became the tempter of her husband in her turn, and having persuaded him to sin, their offspring after them, evince through all their generations, the same alienations of mind and heart.
It is a subject of very deep interest, and to the christian niinister of awful moment, to inquire how far a deliberate and determined effort of will, in one special case, tends to shape the whole subsequent history, and character, and even to effect the generations to come. To the grief and anguish of the soul of a godly minister, he not unfrequently finds, that one decided and desperate effort of will, on the part of an awakened sinner, by which he acts with energy, either in refusing to believe on Jesus Christ, or in shaking off his convictions, is followed by insensibility, rapidly increasing depravity, utter desertion by the Spirit of God, and eternal death; nor does it stop here, but his children after him, oftimes imitate his example, imbibe his spirit, follow in his steps, and pursue him down to Hell. No man can tell, but that any and every, affort of will in rejecting Christ and his salvation, and in refusing to repent, shall be followed with eternal consequences, both in himself, and in those to whom he may give birth. The whole iniquity that has been teeming in the world, and ruining our guilty race, and spreading havock
and desolation over it, has followed from that one act of will on the part of our first mother, when she ate the forbidden fruit.
By it she armed conscience, and enlisted all the constitutional and characteristic principles of her nature, in a warfare against herself, as well as in rebellion against God. Conscience, which before had been a minister of bliss, became a demon of torment. The constitutional principles, or the susceptibilities of her nature, remained the same; but their action was totally deranged, and she became totally depraved. The proper balance, if we may so speak, which was to regulate all the motions of the moral man, was lost, and every thing was thrown into wild and frightful disorder. An hurried action instantly took place, and the rebellion, commenced in one deliberate act of will, has been driven forward with resistless celerity, into frantic excitement and resentments even against God Himself.
Such was the process of depraved developments in the first man.
“ The woman which Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”'l said guilty and impenitent Adam, charging God Himself with being the author of his misery and his crime, and hundreds and thousands of his rebellious offspring malignantly renew and reiterate the charge. The very principles of Adam's nature, the susceptibilities and instincts of the moral being whose excitement and actings had before been blissful as they were directed to legitimate objects, immediately, on his sin, lent their powerfulinfluence to perpetuate those acts of will, which would detain, and sink him, still deeper, and deeper, in wretchedness and rebellion. By the one act of disobedience, he had changed all his moral re
1. Gen. iii, 12.
2. The Apostle, in the 5th chapter of his epistle to the Romans, is very careful to designatedhe first sin of our progenitors. Ile calls it so I'lpeaxbp4 TIN υμμετολοι κατεστάθησαν οι πολλοί, &c. κατεσταθησαν- from a verb which $ 8n fi us to stand or put in a place-to appoint or establish in an office as an overscer of servants, Luke xii, 42--to lead into, or conduct, Acts xvii, 15, to render or effect, 2 Pet. 1, 8. The Apostle describes the process by which men become sinners. It is die by means of tas ******** The offence of Adun, is the instrumental cause of their sin, not the very thing which constituted their sin. It leads to or operates to secure Swinth. iiuliu andre der tromsinners,
lations, and all his hopes of bliss in communion and intercourse with God, and contributed to corrupt the character of his whole progeny.
The very objects that had contributed to his high and ennobling enjoyment, proved productive of the keenest anguish. The gentle step of God, once so beloved, now breaks upon his ears as rattling peals of thundering vengeance. The bright smiles of universal nature, that had once beamed bliss into his soul, are now like the piercing frowns of some wrathsul executioners of the Almighty menace. The very light of Heaven was too intensely glorious for our guilty parents to bear, and as they parted with their hopes and desire of bliss in fellowship with God, and obedience to Ilim, the very same instincts and constitutional susceptibilities which had inclined to these things, now urged them to attempt an absolute separation of themselves from Him, as the only conceivable method of escape from deserved damnation. The instinct of our nature, which makes us shrink from pain, and every passion of the heart that ordinarily incites to action, were all brought into full and effectual play to beleaguer the will of man, and prevent forever his return to God. And had it not been that God, in mercy, intended to recover te rebel to Himself, and reveal what he never possibly
Tald--the ore---the stumbling block over which we fall-proprie: lansus ofensio, cum ad rem, invia jacentem, pedem, impingentes prolabimur. Schleusneri. Lex. a. vir. 599? 14
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