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duct, and which even then the slightest circumstance reexcites. Is an illegitimate child to blame for the aberration of a mother? Yet who is ignorant of the fact that, in very few conditions of society, such a son is placed on a level with the issue of lawful wedlock? So the world over, we approach the son of the drunkard, the murderer, and the traitor, with all these terrible suspicions. The father's deeds shut our doors against him. Nor can he be raised to the level of his former state, but by a long course of purity and well-doing. Now in all these cases, we see a general course of things in divine providence corresponding in important respects to the case of Adam and his descendants. We do not deem the child guilty, or ill-deserving, but society is so organized, and sin is so great an evil, that the proper effects cannot be seen, and the proper terror be infused into the mind to deter from it, without such an organization. It is true, that these results do not take place with undeviating certainty. It is not always the case that the child of a drunkard is intemperate, idle, or illiterate, while it is always the case, that a descendant of Adam is a sinner. In the former case, there may be other laws of government to prevent the regular operations of the plan. In the latter, God has not seen fit wholly to interrupt the regular process in a single instance. Even when men are renewed as the child of the drunkard may be removed from the regular curse of the parent's conductthe renewed man still is imperfect, and still suffers pain and death.
But, we know, there is an appearance of much that is formidable in the difficulty, that a single act, and that a most unimportant one, should result in so many crimes and calamities. But the objection, as we have seen, lies against the course of nature as truly as against the revealed facts resulting from the connection of Adam and his descendants. To lessen the objection, we would further remark, that it is not the out
ward form of an action which determines its character and results. The blow which, in self-defence, strikes a highwayman to the earth, may have the same physical qualities as that which reached the heart of the venerable White of Salem. It is the circumstances, the attendants, the relations, the links that bind the deed to others, the motives, which determine the character of the action. Adam's act had this towering preeminence, that it was the first in the newly-created globe, and committed by the first of mortals; the prospective father of immense multitudes. In looking at it, then, we are to turn from the mere physical act, to run the eye along the conduct of his descendants, and to see if we can find any other deeds that shall be first in a series, and then to mark their results, and in them we shall find the proper analogy. Now it is evident, that here we shall find no other act that will have the same awful peculiarity as the deeds of our first father. But are there no acts that can be "set over against" this to illustrate its unhappy consequences? We look, then, at the deed of a man of high standing whose character has been blameless, and whose ancestry has been noble. We suppose him, in an evil moment, to listen to temptation, to fall into the wiles of the profligate, or even to become a traitor to his country. Now who does not see how the fact of this being the first and characteristic deed may entail deeper misery on his friends, and stain the escutcheon of his family with a broader and fouler blot? Or take an instance which approaches still nearer to the circumstances of our first parent's crime. One false step, the first in a before-virtuous female of honourable parentage, and high standing, spreads sackcloth and wo over entire families, and sends the curse prolonged far into advancing years. It needs no remark to show how much that deed may differ in its results, from any subsequent acts of profligacy in that individual. The first act has spread mourning throughout every circle of friends. Lost now to virtue, and
disowned by friends, the subsequent conduct may be regarded as in character, and the results terminate only in the offending individual. It is impossible, here, not to recur to the melancholy case of Dr. Dodd. His crime differed not from other acts of forgery except in his circumstances. It was a first deed, the deed of a man of distinction, of supposed piety, of a pure and high profession, and the deed stood out with a dreadful pre-eminence in the eyes of the world; nor could the purity of his profession, nor the eloquence of Johnson, nor the voice of thirty thousand petitioners, nor the native compassion of George III., save him from the tremendous malediction of the law-a death as conspicuous as the offence was primary and eminent.
We think, from this peculiarity of a first offence, we can meet many of the objections which men allege against the doctrines of revelation on the subject. If further illustration were needed, we might speak of the opposite, and advert to the well-known fact, that a first distinguished act in a progenitor may result in the lasting good of those connected with him by the ties of kindred or of law. Who can reflect without emotion on the great deed by which Columbus discovered the Western world, and the glory it has shed on his family, and the interest which, in consequence of it, has arisen at the very name, and which we feel for any mortal that is connected with him? Who can remember without deep feeling the philanthropy of Howard, and the deathless lustre which his benevolence has thrown over his family and his name? Who thinks of the family of Washington without some deep emotion running back to the illustrious man whose glory has shed its radiance around Mount Vernon, around his family, around our capitol, and over all our battle fields, and all the millions of whom he was the constituted political father? There is a peculiarity in the great first deed which sheds a lustre on all which, by any laws of association, can be connected with it.
Compared with other deeds having, perhaps, the same physical dimensions, it is like the lustre of the sun diffusing his beams over all the planets, when contrasted with the borrowed, reflected rays of the moon which shines upon our little globe.
Now we think there is an analogy between these cases and that of Adam, because we think it is a fixed principle in moral as in natural legislation, that the same law is applicable to the same facts. We find a series of facts on the earth, and a similar series in the movement of the planets, and we have a single term to express the whole--gravitation. We deem it unphilosophical to suppose that nature is there, in the same facts, subjected to different laws from what passes before our own eyes. So when we find one uniform process in regard to moral conduct-when we find results, consequences, and not crimes, travelling from father to son, and holding on their unbroken way to distant ages, why should we hesitate to admit, that to a great extent, at least, the facts respecting Adam and his descendants fall under the same great law of Divine providence? We do not here deny, that there may have been beyond this a peculiarity in the case of Adam, which must be referred to the decisions of Divine wisdom, and justified on other principles than those of any known analogy. But we never can adopt that system which tramples on all the analogies which actually exist, and holds men to be personally answerable, and actually punished by a just God, for an act committed thousands of years before they were born. Such a doctrine is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures.
2. As the result of this act of Adam, Christianity affirms that man is depraved. It has marked the character and extent of this depravity, with a particularity which we wonder has ever been called into debate.* It affirms that man is by
* Rom. i. 21-32; iii. 10-19; v. 12; viii. 6, 7; Gen. viii. 21; Ps. xiv. 1-3; Eph. ii. 1-3; 1 John v. 19; John iii. 1–6.
nature destitute of holiness, and it is on the ground of this fact that the Christian scheme was necessary. There is one great principle running through the whole of this scheme, which renders it what it is, viz.-the appointment of a Mediator. It regards man as so fallen, and so helpless, that but for an extraordinary intervention—the appointment of some being that should interpose to save-it was impossible that any native elasticity in the human powers or will, or any device which human ingenuity might fall on, should raise him up, and restore him to the favour of God. Now the thing which most manifestly characterizes this system is the doctrine of substitution—or the fact that Jesus Christ lived for others, toiled for others, and died for others; or, in other words, that God bestows upon us pardon and life in consequence of what his Son has done and suffered in our stead. The peculiarity which distinguishes this system from all others, is, that man does not approach his Maker directly, but only through the atonement of the Son of God.
Now in recurring to the analogy of nature, we have only to ask, whether calamities which are hastening to fall on us are ever put back by the intervention of another? Are there any cases in which either our own crimes or the manifest judgments of God are bringing ruin upon us, where that ruin is turned aside by the intervention of others? Now we at once cast our eyes backward to all the helpless and dangerous periods of our being. Did God come forth directly and protect us in the defenceless period of infancy? Who watched over the sleep of the cradle, and guarded us in sickness and helplessness? It was the tenderness of a mother bending over our slumbering childhood, foregoing sleep, and rest, and ease, and hailing toil and care that we might be defended.
* John i. 29; Eph. v. 2; 1 John ii. 2; iv. 10; Isa. liii. 4; Rom. iii. 24, 25; 2 Cor. v. 14; 1 Peter ii. 21.