« PreviousContinue »
be blamed for being born with a depraved nature, they are nevertheless regarded as creatures possessed of a sinful nature (and such in truth they are), and are subjected to a participation in the punishment which was inflicted on Adam (1). For, the reason why all men must die, is, because all are treated as sinful creatures (ruaprov Rom. 5: 12. $ 55. Ill. 6). Now it is evident, even from the diversity between the body and soul of man, that the death of the body does not necessarily involve the death of the soul (Matth. 10: 28). On the contrary, the constitution of our moral nature excites in us the expectation (Rom. 2: 15 &c. $ 17, 18, 24), that our soul will survive the dissolution of the body. Moreover it is inconsistent with the holiness and justice of God (2), to suppose that it should be impossible for those who had been labouring in this world to improve in moral excellence, and who had really made some small advances in holiness, to make still farther progress in the work of sanctification; that those who laboured daily to subdue their inclination to sin, should eventually be blotted out of existence; and that all human happiness should be confined within the limits of the present life, in which the prosperity of the virtuous is often surpassed by that of the wicked. But this necessary
belief in the future existence of the human soul, gives rise to the apprehension, that just as the body is subjected to mortality on account of innate depravity (3), so also the soul, which survives the dissolution of the body, may also be treated as the soul of a sinful creature. Nay, it is undoubtedly true, that those who abuse the gracious influence of God, which was given to aid them in the pursuit of holiness, and perseveringly obey the unlawful propensities of their depraved nature, will, on account of their depravity (4), be exposed to the penalty of
the divine law (5). But even those who have actually repented and reformed, and who may justly entertain pleasing anticipations of the salutary effects of their reformation, can still not expect a future happiness of their spirit, unmingled with pain, as well on account of their sinful conduct
previously to their change, as of the indolence in their conflict with the sinful propensities of their nature of which they have since then been guilty, unless a pardon of their sins is provided for them (6). And even the souls of those who, on account of their innate depravity (8 55), die in their infancy, although they are themselves innocent, still participate in some degree in the punishment inflicted on Adam, inasmuch as they are justly regarded unworthy to be fellow-members of the society of angels and the just made perfect in the kingdom of heaven, and partakers of the blessedness (7) which they enjoy.
1. Meaning of the word punishment as applied to this subject.—Rom. 5: 18, ELS xalaxpqua to condemnation. The meaning of the word punishment, when applied to the sin of Adam as imputed to his posterity, is thus defined in the work on the Object of the death of Christ (p. 585, 657): “Punishment does not in this instance signify sufferings which we have ourselves deserved, but sufferings which are entailed upon us in consequence of a judicial sentence on account of sin.” “It is the consequence of punishment, and it is also itself punishment in this respect, that the judge foresaw this consequence and nevertheless decreed the punishment."1
II. Matth. 5:6, blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Rom. 2:6–10.
1 Reinhardt's Dogmatik, S. 653.
2 Thess. 1: 4 &c. The first of these
contains an important evidence for the immortality of the soul; for Christ intimates, that the most noble exertions after moral purity would be unhappy exertions indeed, if their object could not be attained, yea if the possibility of attaining it might not be supposed to be secured by God, who implanted in our breasts this holy desire. In the work De vita beata,' we have made the following remarks: “ The constitution of our moral nature points us to a future existence of the soul ; nor can we believe that God, who is the Instructor, the Father of our spirits, would suffer all the pleasing fruits of his paternal instruction to be buried at once in annihilation-and nothing but a belief in a moral government of the world and in the declarations of Holy Writ, can secure us against doubts, in a matter which we can never learn from the testimony of our senses." The evidence derived from Matth. 5: 6, resembles the postulate which Kant adopted relative to the immortality of the soul : “Reason requires that we regard the perfect conformity of the will to the moral law, i. e. holiness, as possible ; but this can possibly be attained only by a process of improvement which extends into infinity, and this is possible only on the assumption of an existence which is likewise infinite, i. e. only on the assumption of an immortality.”
III. Rom. 5: 12. 8: 10, το σωμα νεκρον δι' αμαρτιαν the body is dead on account of sin.
IV,(V). Natural depravity a cause of our punishment.-Eph. 2: 3, QUOEL TEXVA oorns by nature children of wrath. Le Clerc has proved, that quois [nature] signifies natural faculties and dispositions. The apostle, in the passage before us, is not speaking exclusively of the Jews, but, as Koppe 3 has justly remarked, he embraces in the two expressions ημεις και οι λοι
1 Dissert. de Vita beata, p. 3 sq. Opusc. acad. Vol. II. p. 75. ff. 2 Ars. crit. sect. I. c. 7.0 7. Vol. I. p. 210. 3 Excurs. II. in Epist. ad. Ephes. p. 394, ed. I.
1101 we-and others, or the rest, the Jews and all other nations. He must, therefore, here refer to a natural state which is common alike to all men. Nature (quois] is here equivalent to flesh [capš]" in the beginning of the verse ($ 56. Ill. 1); the apostle is therefore speaking of a depraved natural condition, in which the Jews, on account of their wicked lusts, had sinned, as well as the other nations, inasmuch as they had gratified the sinful lusts of their hearts, and had abandoned themselves to the depraved propensities of their nature so that their hearts had become fleshly [gapxixos Rom. 7:14), and they fulfilled the will of the flesh [Genuata] ? in their life and conduct. Now the Ephesians had indeed rendered themselves culpable and obnoxious to punishment (“children of wrath”), by voluntarily yielding to these sinful propensities (TALS Enlóvulais ens capxos] and planning their purposes and actions in obedience to them [ETTOLOVV TO θεληματα της σαρκος και των διανοιων]. But the fact, that their voluntary obedience to the dictates of their sinful nature, and their living in accordance with them, exposed them to the punishment of the divine law, shows that they became subjects of the divine wrath through their depraved nature and the lusts of it. 4 Now, although we must first consent to the sinful dis
1 EV Enigvuldis ins odpxos—Ev i. e. secundum, comp. 4: 17. Heb. 10: 10, and other passages, thus the Heb. 5 Gen. 1: 26. arxa, see Schleusner's Lex. art. εv No 26.
εν παραπτωμασιν ανεστραφησαν-εν οις ν. 3, refers to παρantwuaoi v. 1 ; just as ev ais v. 2, does to dugotiais v. 1. See Comment. on Heb. 9: 10, Note c.
τα θεληματα της σαρκος και των διανοιων i. e. των σαρκιxwv diavolov.—This is a hendiadys of which various other examples are given in the Dissert. de sensu vocis ainoouo, no. 60. in the LXX, diavolai answers to 535 (33) Num. 15:39. Aiavocat xai gap, therefore, here means “animos, qui tales sunt, quales natura esse solent."
4 This may serve as a refutation of Koppe's remark on Ephes. 2: 3 (Nov. Test. Vol. I. p. 392), that quois does not mean innate depravity, because an abandoned life and conduct are spoken of in the context, i, e. voluntary acts of transgression, which are alone deserving of punishment. 1 On the Object of the death of Jesus, p. 644.
positions of our nature, before we can be culpable, although the guilt with whicb the punishment (death) is connected, is only a consequence of our own consent (James 1: 15,); still we may with propriety say that the sinful propensity, which invites us to voluntary obedience, and which, though through our own fault, actually succeeds in every case in which we do not avail ourselves of the divine assistance to resist it, is the source of the evil which results from obedience to its dictates. It may, therefore, be said of the natural depravity of our nature, not that it is the exclusive cause, but, in general, that it is the cause of sin, and of the punishment consequent on sin; or to use the language of the apostle Paul, (Rom. 8: 2), that it is vouos ins auagtias xal tov Javatov, i. e. the law of sin and death, or, a law which is the cause of sin and of the punishment which follows it. 1
VI. In the work on the Object of the death of Christ, (p. 578, 586,) we have unfolded and dwelt upon, the idea, “ that, according to the strict principles of the divine justice, even those who have repented and reformed, could not expect a state of happiness in the future world, but a condition approximating nearly to this life, being mingled with pleasure and pain."
VII. See the Dissertation on the death of Christ (p. 584, 504, 688), where is this remark : “ The fact that little children, even in their most tender infancy, have a depravity in them which renders them unfit for the society of uncorrupted, holy spirits in heaven, is a consequence of that act by which Adam ruined not only his own sinful nature but also that of his descendants.” 2
[2 Upon the important subject of the natural depravity of man, its imputation, and consequences, the intelligent reader will be pleased to see the language of other high ecclesiastical authorities. In the venerable Augustan Confession, the mother symbol of Protestantism (Art. II. de pec