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tradicts that assumption. It confirms, in a remarkable manner, what we have endeavoured to show must have been the original moral condition of man, if the Mosaic history be credited by the supporters of the doctrine.
iii. 7.—“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” As already remarked, God had named the tree that of the knowledge of good and evil. God is likewise stated to have said, that the consequence of the man and woman having eaten of the fruit, was no other thing but their “ becoming as one of us, knowing good and evil.” In the verse just quoted as one of the grounds for the doctrine of corruption, the effect is confined to the discovery of their being destitute of clothing. What then was their state of intelligence before they knew this? It must have been that they had no sense of modesty. If to have acquired a sense of modesty be to be “ wholly defiled,” it is a kind of corruption in our nature of which few theologians, if moral men, would wish man to be devoid.
iii. 8.—" And they heard the voice of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord, amongst the trees of the garden.” This is quoted as a proof of total defilement. It would have been but fair to have added the reason why they hid themselves, which is stated in a subsequent verse. “I was afraid, because I was naked.” So it appears that the acquirement of a sense of modesty was defilement in the eyes of the divines.
These are all the facts that could be found in the history of the first pair, on which the doctrine is founded. We shall now consider others.
Ecclesiastes vii. 29.-—" So, this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." There are two distinct statements in this verse. The first, God hath made man upright. This is given as an accurate translation, not of the language of the historian of creation, but of another writer who appeared long after Moses. The words make no allusion to the state of man originally, as connected with a second state. Had the writer said, God made the first man originally upright, there might have been a definite meaning, to which the supporters of the doctrine might have appealed. The expression, however, refers to the idea of the writer respecting the condition of man, as it was when he was created—as naturally upright; but as swerving afterwards from uprightness, on account of having sought out many inventions ; not on account of his having eaten of the forbidden fruit.-We may here
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introduce from another part of scripture, what appears conclusive of this being the proper meaning of the words of Ecclesiastes, and of the erroneousness of the doctrine. It was said by Jesus Christ, “ that joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.” We infer from these words, that persons denominated just, did exist in the world. If this had not been the case, the comparison could not have been made; or if made, could not have been comprehended. Admitting the fact on such authority, it contradicts the doctrine; because, if all the descendants of Adam were, “ wholly defiled in all the faculties, and parts of soul and body," it is impossible to conceive that any of them could be just, and need no repentance. The Apostle Paul says, “ for when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts." Here the Apostle who is chiefly appealed to in the concoction of the doctrine, confirms what Christ said, in a most remarkable manner. He tells us that, by nature, some men fulfil the law; that is, that they are just persons. The divines who composed the collection of doctrines in the Confession of Faith, tell us that at his creation, “ man had the law written in his heart, and power to fulfil it," as the grand distinction between his perfect first state, and his corrupted second state. But St. Paul tells us plainly that, in his time, men existed who also “ had the law written in their hearts," and who fulfilled it. The conclusion from these statements is most decidedly against the doctrine.
Ecclesiastes, as quoted above, is right in declaring that God made man upright; and we consider him also correct in his theory of man having become otherwise,—“but he has sought out many inventions.” He has been led away into the abuse of what is intrinsically and originally good, not in consequence of having acquired a knowledge of good and evil, (which has been given him to keep him from the latter,) but of having neglected the fact of his having been made part of a system, conformable to it, and bound to obey its laws as soon as he discovers them, and equally bound to search for them.
Now let us return to the supposed proofs of the doctrine in question.
Romans iii. 23.-" For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We have no disposition to deny this. For even just persons, such as the apostle describes, can scarcely affirm that they have not in some respect or other sinned. But we affirm, that if St. Paul, in the above sentence, alludes to man's nature having become defiled, in the sense of the doctrine of corruption, he flatly contradicts what he himself had previously written, and what Christ said. If all had sinned and come short of the glory of God, in consequence of the first pair having eaten of the forbidden fruit, no one could be blamed for this, since it was an unavoidable consequence, to remove which Christians believe Christ to have appeared. But that sin was not the consequence, and that man had the power to walk uprightly, and was liable to punishment, if he did not so walk, is clear from the denunciations against wickedness, which we find dispersed through the histories in the Bible. God never could have spoken by His prophets, threatening judgments for that which He Himself had brought about, and which He, according to another Christian doctrine, was anxious to undo, and after reflecting during some thousands of years, at length devised the plan, to satisfy His own conscientious scruples, of sending Jesus Christ into the world. The mission of Christ, however, does not appear to have undone the curse, for man continues to sin, certainly in no less a degree, though it may be in a manner more refined. It would be well if Christian teachers, and those who are taught, were to keep before them the attributes they ascribe to God, and avoid holding Him forth as acting in opposition to them. Men, it is to be feared, are too apt to imagine themselves the pattern, and that God would act just as they would do. But if they would keep in mind a saying by which churchmen often try to evade argument, that God's ways are not as our ways; if they would first lay down a rule of morality which could not be departed from by a wise and good man; if they would but take the guidance of common sense, when they set about the invention of doctrine, it is probable that the great bulk of mankind would agree in matters of religion, come to see their true interests resting on justice, truth, and moderation of desire, and that the religion taught by Jesus Christ, when divested of the fable, the mystery, and the doctrine, that the cunning of men has wrapt around it, was the true religion of the One God, whom he called his Father, and who is our Father also. Even over this pure and simple religion, which the Jews had the great merit of preserving amidst the grossest idolatries and superstitions, much unnecessary obscurity has been thrown, even by the Jews themselves, who, like the rest of mankind, through ignorance of the constitution of man in relation to external things, and the laws which bind him to all nature, have fallen into error. Among the Jews, knowledge has been increasing; and while they have differed among themselves in reference to the light in which some of the
contents of their sacred books are to be viewed, they are, nevertheless, as one.*
The foregoing quotations in the Confession of Faith were made by its authors to confirm the proposition that the first pair “ fell from their original righteousness and communion with God.” The next proposition attempted to be proved is, that they “ became dead in sin.”
Genesis ii. 17.4" But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” As the man and woman did not die in consequence of eating of the tree, it became necessary for the divines, in order to escape the contradiction in the history, to suppose that the word “ die” meant “becoming dead in sin.” But we are not to assume the meaning to be what is supposed by them; we must take the word as the first pair understood it. That they understood it in its literal sense, appears from its having been necessary for the serpent to assure the woman, when she described the penalty which she dreaded, that she would not die. She did not fear becoming dead in sin, but simply dying like the creatures around her.
We do not find it recorded that our first parents were guilty of any second offence. The punishment of the first is distinctly narrated; but there is not the slightest hint of their original nature having been changed, nor of any such thing as their posterity being doomed to partake in their change. There is nothing certainly in the above quotation to justify any such conclusion. The only other text quoted in support of it is, Epistle to the Ephesians, v. l. “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” This was addressed to the people of Ephesus; and the sense in which any unbiassed person would understand the matter is, that before they were informed of the preaching of Christ, they had been great sinners, but had become better men. If the doctrine be correct, they could not have got rid of the defilement; because all men, according to it, are defiled in consequence of a change in the nature of man, and must continue to be so Were the doctrine just, there could be no repentance, because. repentance implies not that man is dead in sin, but capable of getting rid of it, which he could not do, unless his nature be now as it has always been, much better than the divines would have it to be.
* It is a remarkable sign of the times, that the churches established by the arm of the law should be totally regardless of what he whom they regard as their master said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Of this the Roman catholics are aware, and they have no doctrinal dissensions. The protestants alone are divided ; and it is impossible that each division of them can be right. From our present discussion it may appear that the Romans are in error as well as the protestants, and that the religion given by God to the Jews is not to be changed ; that Christ, as he himself said, did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. He would have reformed it-he would have restored religion to its primitive purity and simplicity. But man did not understand him; and a more mighty superstition than that which he strove to correct, was attached by designing men to purity itself, and soon involved it in darkness.
We now come to the cream of the doctrine; the proofs, as they are called, of the proposition that our first parents and their posterity became, in consequence of the forbidden fruit having been eaten, “wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body."
Epistle to Titus i. 15.-" Unto the pure all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” Against what is contained in this verse we have nothing to urge. As it contains simple and distinct propositions which we believe to be strictly true, we fully and entirely assent to it. To its application, as confirming the doctrine of defilement, we cannot assent.
“Unto the pure, all things are pure.” Who are referred to here as the pure? They are the men whom the apostle referred to in another epistle, as having the law written in their hearts; to whom Christ referred as just persons who need no repentance; those of whom he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” The words of Christ entitle us to affirm that such persons have existed, and do exist, however rare they may have been and still are. But if man be wholly and innately defiled and corrupt, their existence would be impossible. Therefore, this pretended Christian doctrine appears to us to contradict Christ and his apostles, who are more worthy of credit than divines, who, by their own confession, were wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. That there are defiled and unbelieving persons is a truth, and to them nothing is pure; and it is equally true that their minds and consciences are defiled. It is undeniable, that, at this day, ninety-nine out of a hundred professing Christians are, in practice, heathens. But while beings of an opposite description are found, and their existence, even among the Gentiles, acknowledged by Christ and his apostles, we cannot admit the doctrine to be true, or calculated to serve any purpose, except that of degrading man in his own eyes, and rendering him careless of improvement, and of the will of God.
Genesis vi. 5.-" And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of his heart was only evil continually.” This refers to a period long subse