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absolutely at the divine discretion, and cutting off all hope whatever but what shall arise from the sovereignty of God.
ON NATURAL AND MORAL INABILITY.
ON this subject I find it difficult to collect the real
sentiments of P. Sometimes he seems to admit of the distinction, and allows that I have written upon it with "perspicuity." (63.) At other times he appears utterly to reject it, and to reason upon the supposition of there being no difference between the one and the other; and that to command a person to per form any thing with which it is not in the power of his heart to comply, (for that, he must know, is the only idea we have of moral inability) is as unreason able, unless grace is bestowed, as to "command a stone to walk, or a horse to sing." (44.) If this is indeed the case, the distinction ought to be given up. Be that however as it may, whether there be any real difference between natural and moral inability in point of blame-worthiness or not, P. knows I suppose there is; by what rule of fair reasoning, therefore, he could take the contrary for granted, is difficult to determine.
But passing this, From the whole of what P. has written on this subject, I observe there are three things which, some how or other, either severally or jointly, are supposed to constitute even a moral inability blameless. One is, men could not avoid it; they were depraved and ruined by Adam's transgression—Another is, its being so great in degree as to be insuperable And the last is, if grace is not "If, says he,
given sufficient to deliver us from it. men could never avoid it, and cannot deliver themselves from it, and the blessed God will not deliver them; surely they ought not to be punished for it, or for any of its necessary effects." (67.)
The first two of these suppositions, be it observed, are admitted by P. as facts. Men are, he acknowledges, born in sin, and "their inability to do things spiritually good is real and total." (44. 57.) They cannot love God, nor keep his holy law. Now these facts either do excuse mankind in their want of conformity to the law, or they do not. If they do not, why are they produced? If they do, there is no need for what respects the last supposition. There is no need surely for grace to deliver men from a state wherein they are already blameless. The justice of God, one should think, would see to that, and prevent the innocent from being condemned.-But let us give each of these subjects a separate consideration.
I. Men being BORN IN SIN, or inheriting their evil propensities from Adam's fall.It has been observed already, that P. admits the fact; now to admit this
fact is, I should think, to admit a consituted union having taken place between Adam and his posterity. And yet the whole of what he says upon this subject proceeds from the supposition of no such union taking place; for he all along speaks of Adam and his descendants in a separate capacity. Thus he insists upon it that " we could not be to blame, for what we could not avoid," with many passages of the like kind. Very true, but if the notion of a union between Adam and his posterity be admitted, then it cannot properly be said we could not avoid it; for in that case, he was the head, and we the members, the whole constituting one body, or as it were one person. A union of this nature must either be admitted, or denied; if admitted, why consider the descendants of Adam in a separate capacity? If denied, why speak of inheriting any thing from him, unless it were by ill example?
Infants are not to blame in a personal capacity; but if there be a union between the parent of mankind and his posterity, through which their depravity is derived, as it is supposed there is, they must be to blame relatively. No one, I suppose, can be to blame in a personal capacity till he is capable of the knowledge of right and wrong; but it does not follow from thence that till then he is in every sense blameless, for that would be the same thing as to be sinless; and if so, I see not how they can be said to be born in sin. If there is not blame somewhere, it will be difficult to account for the misery and death to which infants are exposed; and for the apostle's mode of
reasoning, who first asserts that before the Mosaic law sin was in the world, and then proves this assertion by the reign of death even over them who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression.*
That this is a difficult and awful subject is allowed, and so is the introduction of moral evil into the world, be it upon what hypothesis it may: it is a sub. ject however, which in my apprehension, I must either admit, or reject the authority of the bible; and when I had done that, my difficulties instead of being diminished, would be abundantly increased. I therefore admit it upon the credit of divine revelation; and herein it seems I have the happiness to agree with P. He admits that men become sinners in consequence of Adam's fall. The question then between us seems to be this, whether to be a sinner is the same thing as to be a subject of blame; or whether there be a sort of sin which has nothing blame-worthy in it, and a sort of sinners who nevertheless are blameless beings?
P. admits of our being born with impure propensities, and yet supposes these propensities in themselves. to be blameless. He reckons the whole blame to lie not in being the subject of these propensities, but in the exercise, and indulgence of them. (65, 66.) I confess I cannot understand how this can consist either with his own sentiments, or with the nature of things. Not with his own sentiments, for he allows
Rom. v. 13, 14.
that "men are ruined and depraved by Adam's fall." But how can we be ruined and depraved by that which does not in any sense constitute us blame-worthy? What though we derive impure propensities [ from him, yet if these propensities are innocent, how can they ruin us? how can they deprave us? Our depravity must consist in, and our ruin arise from that which constitutes blame, and that alone; and if blame lies merely in the indulgence of impure propensity, and not in being the subject of the thing itself; why, then it is there we have to look for the beginning of depravity and ruin, and no where else. How far these sentiments will agree likewise with the doctrine of human depravity, which P. assures us, he by no means intended to oppose, may deserve his attention.
Farther, I see not how the above sentiments can consist with the nature of things. If blame does not lie in being the subject of an evil disposition because as individuals we could not avoid it; then for the same reason it cannot lie in the exercise of that disposition, unless that also can be avoided. And this is what P. seems to allow, for he extends blamelessness not only to evil dispositions, but to all their "necessary effects." (67.) Now there is either a possibility of that exercise being totally avoided, or there is not-there is either a possibility, for instance of a person living all his life without a foolish thought, or there is not. If there is, then there is a possibility of going through life in a sinless state; and if so, how are we depraved by Adam's fall? If there is not, then, it must follow, that the exercise of evil disposi