« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
different, for although they disputed among themselves what kind of punishment was due to infants, on account of original sin, whether of loss or of sense, yet there was an almost universal consent among them, that in consequence of original sin, we are children of wrath, and obnoxious to eternal punishment; and, moreover, that baptism was for the remission of sins; and that by baptism infants were regenerated, and thus made partakers of life and eternal felicity.
Augustine often brings up this subject, and may be considered as speaking the sentiments of the whole church in his time. "I do not affirm” says he “that infants dying without baptism will be in a worse condition than if they had never been born, for our Lord uses this expression respecting sinners of the most abandoned character: for from what he says about Sodom, and does not restrict to the wicked inhabitants of that city, that it will be more tolerable for them than some others in the day of judgment, the inference is clear that there will be a difference in the future punishment of men; who then can doubt but that unbaptized infants, who are chargeable with the guilt of original sin only, which has not been aggravated by any actual transgressions of their own, will fall under the lightest punishment of all ? But what will be the nature or the degree of their punishment, although we cannot define, yet I should not dare say, that it would have been better for them never to have been born, than to exist in the state which will be allotted to them.” Again, “ It may be truly said, that unbaptized infants, leaving the body without baptism, will suffer the very mildest punishment; yet he who says that they will fall under no degree of condemnation, both deceives others and is deceived himself; for the apostle has said that the condemnation is of one sin; and that by one offence condemnation hath come upon all men." “We say that little children should be baptized; and of this no one doubts, for even they who differ from us in other points, all concur in this; we maintain, however, that this is that they may be saved, and may inherit eternal life, which they cannot possess unless they are baptized in Christ; but they say, it is not for salvation, not for eternal life, but for the kingdom of God."
Jerome also, in book iii. against the Pelagians, says “ This one thing I say, and will then conclude: either you should have another creed, which after the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, should contain a clause, that ye shall baptize infants for the kingdom of heaven; or if you use the same baptism for infants and adults, you should confess that the former as well as the latter are baptized for the remission of sins.”
Paullinus, in his book addressed to Zosimus, after the condemnation of Pelagius and Cælestius, says, “They strive against the apostolical doctrine of original sin, which hath passed on all men, for our race will possess that inheritance received from Adam, even unto the end of the world, and which is only by the sacrament of baptism removed from infants; who cannot inherit eternal life nor obtain the kingdom of God by any other means.” A multitude of testimonies might be adduced of the same import, but it is unnecessary. The reader will perceive from those above cited, what is exceedingly evident to every one in the least conversant with ecclesiastical history, that the fathers of this period seem universally to have fallen into the mistake of confounding baptism with regeneration. From an erroneous interpretation of John, iii. 5, they concluded that there was no salvation without external baptism; and the next step was that the internal grace of regeneration uniformly accompanied the external rite; and this notion had taken such full possession of their minds, that they commonly gave the name regeneration to baptism. We have not kept back the evidence of this fact, whatever may be its operation; for we now have to act the part of faithful historians, and to exhibit fairly to the view of our readers the opinions of the ancient church on an important point of doctrine, which may be considered as lying at the foundation of the Christian system.
The cardinal point of the Pelagian system was the denial of original sin; this was their actor feudos, their radical error, from which all the rest naturally germinated. The controversy did, however, include many other distinct points of no small interest, concerning which our limits do not permit us to say any thing at present. Probably, in some future number we shall resume the subject, and exhibit a view of other controversies which have arisen in the church respecting original sin. It is attended with many advantages to bring into view ancient heresies; for often what modern innovators consider a new discovery, and wish to pass off as a scheme suited to remove all difficulties, is found upon ex
amination to be nothing else than some ancient heresy clothed in a new dress. That the doctrine of original sin is involved in many difficulties, which no mortal has the wis dom to explain, we are ready to admit: but the question with us is,-is it taught in the Bible? And if any one choose to move a previous question, it will be,~can that book be diviñely inspired which contains such a doctrine? And here, if we could get clear of the thing by rejecting the Scriptures, something would be gained; but the evidence of original sin is deeply recorded in the acknowledged depravity of our race, and in the dispensations of God towards us. To account for the facts which experience teaches beyond all possibility of contradiction, we need the testimony which the Bible contains, which if we reject we may escape one set of difficulties, but shall assuredly plunge into others more formidable and unmanageable, although they may be more out of sight.
It is our opinion, therefore, after looking on all sides, and contemplating the bearing and consequences of all theories on this subject, that no one is on the whole so consistent with facts, with the Scriptures, and with itself, as the old doctrine of the ancient church, which traces all the sins and evils in the world to the IMPUTATION of the first sin of Adam; and that no other theory of original sin is capable of standing the test of an impartial scrutiny.
THE MEANS OF REPENTANCE.
The hcarers of the gospel are often disposed to ask, when the obligation to immediate repentance is urged upon them, how are we to repent? a question which we ought not to be unprepared to meet. The prophet Hosea, chap. v. 4, has, we think, clearly shown the true answer to that question. He there teaches that the way of repenting or turning to God, is to frame one's doings to that end: an expression of which an explanation seems needless. Universally, when men would accomplish any thing requiring the use of means, they frame their doings, or direct and order their conduct to
the proposed end; and the same, the prophet takes it for granted as a matter understood and unquestionable, is the way to repent or turn to God.
In order, however, to present this subject in a just and proper light, it is necessary, first, to show, notwithstanding the prophet's clear assumption of the point, that there is a way of repenting as well as of doing other things; secondly, to declare that way, or how a man's doings must be framed in order to repent; and, thirdly, to vindicate our doctrine against objections.
I. There is a way to repent. Repenting is a thing to be done in the use of means and endeavours, and not otherwise.
Repenting, or turning to God, is a state of mind which man cannot bring himself into by one mere volition. He cannot repent simply by resolving or saying within himself, I will repent. That resolution may fix his mind on repenting, and be the beginning of a series of mental acts and exercises which will result in his repentance; but his repentance is not its immediate sequent, any more than a man's becoming pleased or pensive, or affected in any way, is the immediate result of a volition to become so affected. If a man determine that he will be in any frame of mind whatsoever, he does not find himself in that frame as soon as he forins the determination; he finds himself using the means—the necessary volitions and exertions, in order to get bimself into it: he finds his thoughts and affections employed about those things which have a tendency to produce the desired frame: in this way, and not otherwise, he fulfils his purpose. If a man would revive in his heart a lively affection for an absent friend, the affection does not instantly glow in his breast as the immediate effect of his volition; it may exist there very quickly, but not until he has given some thoughts to the absent person's image and excellencies. Thus is it in respect to repentance: it cannot be experienced by the mind in any other way than by the mind's action and exercise towards those things which have a tendency to produce repentance. These are the things the mind must address itself unto and employ itself about, in fulfilling the obligation to repent and turn to God. If a man, when commanded to repent, would obey that command, these are the things he undertakes in order to obey it; for in the nature and necessity of the case, it cannot be obeyed in any other way.--We are sometimes much in earnest when we are urging
men to immediate repentance, to obtain from them a promise to do what we press upon them; but if they give us a promise, it amounts only to this, that they will employ their minds about those awful and holy objects of which repentance in the soul is the impress and counterpart. And, perhaps, if instead of exacting a promise we would give our whole labour to the business of making these objects stand out before them in their grand importance and excellence, we should be more likely to gain our point.
Perhaps these observations may be regarded by some in the light of mere assertions: to us, however, they are full of evidence; and we cannot but think they must appear to all who will give them due consideration. It strikes us as a thing hardly needing more than correct statement to produce conviction, that the mind, to be justly affected by things without itself, must have those things present to its thoughts and contemplations; and we have only been inculcating this principle in respect to the matter of repenting or turning to God.
All we have said is, that in order to repent, the things that work repentance in the mind must be thought of and considered ;—that this is truly the way to repent—and can any one doubt it? If testimony from scripture be demanded, many other passages besides that of our prophet are explicit. David shows us that there is a way to repent, and to some extent what that way is, when he says " I thought on my ways and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” And Ezekiel, in chap. xviii. 28, “Because he considereth and turneth away from his wickedness, he shall save his soul alive."
II. There is then a way to repent, and that way has been vaguely brought into view. But here more precision and care are necessary, and therefore have we proposed it as a distinct topic, to show what a man must do in order to repent.
We have said he must employ his mind about those things which have a tendency to induce its repentance. Let this condensed view of the course to be pursued be justly expanded, and the way to repent will be fully understood.
What then are those things which have a tendency to bring a man to repentance, or without which his repentance is an impossibility ? Here it is obvious that men, being in different circumstances, and having shades of difference in character, are not all under a necessity to pass through the