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In entering upon a concise statement of the Doctrines of this Society, it seems most consistent with the natural order of things, to take, in the first place, a view of the Original and Present State of Man.
The Scriptures bear testimony, that man was made in the image of his Creator: "In the Image of God created he him: male and female created He them.” Gen. i 27. In this state, which was his by creation, he lacked neither wisdom nor understanding. He lacked nothing that was necessary to enable him to exercise the domis nion that was given him in the world; or that could perfect his happiness, or secure acceptance in the Divine sight: otherwise he could not have been in the image of God; nor would it have been said that “God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Gen. i. 31. Accordingly, we find that he had a clear sense of the relation in which he stood to the Almighty; was favoured with communion with him; and, when the
various orders of animated beings were brought before him, he had such a sense and understanding of natural things, as enabled him to give them all appropriate names. This was not acquired knowledge. But all these faculties and capacities were the endowments with which he was furnished; and made up his Original Character.
Thus constituted, our first parents were placed in a situation adapted to their comfort and convenience: “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden ; and there He put the man whom He had formed.” Gen. ii. 8. And though there may be a mystical signification in these terms, representing that spiritual communion and fellowship which the saints obtain with God, by Jesus Christ; yet we do not thence call in question the historical fact, that they were provided with a residence, in all respects adapted to their condition. Nor do we doubt that, when they lost their happy condition by disobedience, they lost also the residence which was adapted only to that condition. But these truths respecting the outward affairs of our prime ancestors, are not so deeply interesting to us, as those relations in which they stood before and after their transgression. And as the inspired historian was led to touch very briefly on these outward affairs, so we believe it is not necessary, or even safe, to run out into speculation concerning them. But so far as the Holy Scriptures record historical facts, respecting the first and all subsequent ages, those facts we admit as truth.
Though man was created such a being as has been described, and was so eminently favoured, in relation both to temporal and spiritual things ; yet the sequel proved that he was placed in a state of probation; and that he was permitted to choose good or evil, according to. his own free will. He received a command; and the penalty of death was annexed to its violation: “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Gen. ii. 17.
As he was constituted in due rectitude of body and mind as he was, in his first estate, in the Divine Image, he must have had power to stand. How is it possible that he could be in that Image, if he had not power to reject evil, and to remain in a state of acceptance ? That he had this power, is evident not only from the character which is clearly given of him, but from the Divine attributes themselves. Therefore, as surely as we believe that God is merciful and just, so surely we believe that Adam was enabled to obey the command that was given him. (Vide Art. Universality of Grace.)
In the freedom of will with which our first parents were endowed, they disobeyed the Divine command. As the Divine Image was the predominating part of the human character in the beginning, it was said: “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” And this sentence was accomplished, in the loss of all that constituted that Image. In the loss of the Divine Life, death actually passed upon him, in the day of his transgression. (Vide Barclay's Apol., Prop. 4. Phipps on Man, Chap. I.) He became fallen, degenerate, and dead; retaining nothing superior to his animal and rational faculties; and even these were depraved.
“ Adam, by his fall, lost his glory, his strength, his dominion, by which he could have easily withstood the Devil; and came under great weakness, whereby the enemy's temptations had a ready access to him; and he
became very obnoxious to fall under them. And so all his posterity are come under the same weakness and obnoxiousness to the enemy's temptations, who influenceth them, by entering into them, and powerfully inclining them to sin. And this malignant influence is that seed of sin in all men, whereunto they become obnoxious by reason of the fall.” (Barclay's Works, fol. ed. pp. 768, 310.) Thus, in the language of the apostle, “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon
all men, for that all have sinned.” Nor do we question that the visible creation suffered some change, in consequence of the lapse of him to whose accommodation it was so remarkably adapted. In the sentence pronounced upon Adam, it was said: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake;"_"thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” Gen. iii. 17, 18. Thus we believe, that the whole posterity of Adam is affected by his fall; but we do not believe that it is with guilt, but with in. firmity and a proneness to sin. For, “though we do not ascribe any whit of Adam's guilt to men, until they make it theirs by like acts of disobedience, yet we cannot suppose that men who have come of Adam naturally, can have any good thing in their nature, as belonging thereto, which he, from whom they derived their nature, had not, himself, to communicate to them.
“If then we may affirm, that Adam did not retain in his nature, as belonging thereto, any will or light, capable to give him knowledge in spiritual things, then neither can his posterity. For whatsoever good any man does, it proceeds not from his nature, as he is man, or the son of Adam, but from the Seed of God in him, as a new visitation of life, in order to bring him out of his natural condition. So that though it is in him, it is not of him.” But we deny the doctrine of original sin;" and cannot suppose that sin is imputed to infants, till they actually commit it; for this obvious
that “they are ‘by nature the children of wrath, who walk "according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience. Here the apostle gives their evil walking, (and not any thing that had been committed by Adam,). as the reason of their being children of wrath. And this is suitable to the whole strain of the Gospel, where no man is threatened or judged for what iniquity he hath not actually wrought.” (Vide Barclay's Apol., Prop. 4.)
Thus, we conceive it contrary to the attributes of the Almighty, his mercy, and his justice, to charge any of his creatures with guilt, for offences in which they had no agency. It is even contrary to the simplest principles of right and wrong, which we consider binding on men; and we dare not charge the Divine Character with being thus far below that standard of justice which is set up for human actions.
Though the posterity of Adam could not be chargeable with guilt, on account of his transgression; yet he being dead, as to the Divine Image, could neither renew himself up again into his former condition, nor transmit to his posterity what he had not himself. Thus they became objects of Redeeming Love. Even those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, stood in need of Redemption out of that state of atter incapacity in which they were involved; and which the apostle calls “ death.” Rom. v. 14. For this great object a remedy was provided. Even