Imatges de pÓgina

shows itself in the face of the holiest and purest example.

(c) It is asserted that hereditary sin is simply the result of the necessary order of the development of man's powers, i. e., first, the animal; second, the intellectual; third, the moral. By the time the moral faculties come into play, the physical and merely mental have attained strong and misleading sway. But this would make sin of physical origin and a material quality, whereas matter possesses no freedom for responsible choice or action. Moreover, this account, while refusing the Biblical doctrine of a fall, concedes a real enslavement of the spirit to the flesh and makes God the actual author of the condition.


(d) Of similar import is the evolutionist theory representing sin as but the remaining force and manifestation of the animal nature in man. Prof. John Fiske says human progress "means throwing off the brute inheritance." And he prophesies that in the gospel of Darwinism salvation will come: "The ape and the tiger in human nature will become extinct." To this it is enough to say: first, that this suggested origin of man from brute ancestry is far from being proved-is, in fact, confuted by what are yet insuperable scientific difficulties; secondly, that it confesses the bad brutishness which, in fact, blots the nature of the race; thirdly, it discredits its anthropology by its failure to explain the genesis of the human conscience except as mere inherited judgments of utility; fourthly, in pointing the hope of salvation to the slow movement of evolutionary extinguishment of the race brutishness, it is voiceless as to divine help for the millions on millions of the individuals of the 1"Destiny of Man,” p. 103.


generations till that tardy natural relief may come. evolutionism rejects the idea of supernatural revelation and leaves man to himself and the laws of nature.

2. This "original sin," as a race inheritance, is intrinsically a moral fault. That is, it is not a mere physical corruption or evil, dwelling simply in the flesh, but belongs to the soul, as a sinful condition of the psychical nature, of the personal, self-determining ego that acts in intelligence and choice. The old Manichæistic identification of the principle of evil with matter still reappears in various phases.' But in whatever shape it comes, both Biblical teaching and sound reason require its emphatic rejection. That sin is lodged in the mind, or exists as forms of mental action or state, is evident from various points of view. Biblically, the sin in which the fall took place was an act of the human will in deciding to follow a temptation rather than a known divine direction. The appeal to physical appetite or other appetencies, morally indifferent in themselves, was the tempter's persuasion addressed to the will. The initial sin was an act of the choice. Moreover, from the very nature of sin as something for which there is responsibility, it must have its seat in the voluntary power. Mere physical ailment or disease is not voluntary, and, therefore, not essentially sin or guilt. The physical human organism, with its appetencies, belongs to man for the sake of his higher personal life in the image of God. It is part of that range over which the "dominion" of mind, ethical reason, and righteousness was to hold. The moral sovereignty of conscience and freedom is set in obligation to

1 As in Schleiermacher, "Christliche Glaube," I., 361-364, and Rothe, “Dogmatik,” I., 300-302.

rule the sensuous nature while using it, and its not doing so lodges the responsibility on itself. It is dis tinctly confirmatory of this view of the origin and seat of evil, that many of the most heinous sins, when analyzed, are found wholly destitute of any sensuous element, as pride, anger, malice, enmity to God. Sin is not “bred in the bone,” but created in the choices, states, and activities of free-agents. But the decisive evidence in the question is the incarnation. That the Divine Son should take human “flesh ” into fellowship in His own person for His earthly life-time, and have no sin in Him, shows that there is no inherent evil in matter itself. Sin consists in the action or attitude of the will.

3. The degree of corruption belonging to this "sin.” Since the days of Augustine and the Pelagian controversy, extreme views have been in strife. From the Pelagian denial of "original sin,” its reality has been confessed by theology generally in different types of positiveness, culminating in wide acceptance of Augustine's teaching that the depravity is “ total,leaving man “one mass of perdition.” “The first man made himself a total damnable mass. Protestant theology has largely accepted the Augustinian anthropologyexplanatory and modifying statements, however, accompanying the acceptance. The term “ total ” involves a point requiring such explanation.

Negatively stated : (a) This original sin is not total in the sense that man is so depraved that he cannot be or grow worse. In fact, beyond all doubt, the birth-degree of depravity attains larger and stronger force as unimpeded sway is allowed to its tendencies, and no limit can

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1 For fuller statement of the origin of sin, see pp. 281-288. Augustine, Sermons XXVI. and CLXV.


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be fixed beyond which it may not advance. (6) Nor is it total in the sense that it does not leave in man any better elements or capacities, such as conscience, perception of right, and sense of obligation. He has such powers, though obscured and impaired, on which God's grace may take hold and operate. Else there would be no capacities left in him through which spiritual truth and moral powers could enter and move him to repentance. (c) Nor yet is it total in the sense that he is incapable of many natural and moral virtues, as love of kindred, admiration of excellence, kindness, friendship, disinterested, self-sacrificing affection and action. As a matter of fact, unregenerate men show these virtues—often in impressive beauty and true heroism. And these virtues are not sins. Augustine and many others since have been wont to class them as “splendid sins.” Theologians and preachers have often foolishly spoken of all natural virtues in this way as sins all the more condemnable by reason of their being virtues. But this is to blot out the very distinction between right and wrong, in which the guilt of sin rests. These virtues in the unregenerate, by being without the true and high motive of love to God are, indeed, imperfect, partial, and insufficient as ground of desert before God. But to claim that they are “sins," is both false to fundamental ethical principles and uncalled for by any fair interpretation of the word of God. The justice, honesty, truthfulness of men, in their natural state, are not sins so far as they are justice, honesty, truthfulness, etc. We must preserve fundamental distinctions and not confound the question of what is right with the question of what is perfect (infinite) or justifying before God. The Biblical doctrine of original sin can never be rightly understood through obliteration of the prime ethical distinctions.

Positively stated, this depravity may justly be held as total, (a) in the sense that all man's powers, intellect, sensibility, and will have been directly or indirectly injured or corrupted by the disordering power of sin in the soul's nature. No faculty is unaffected by it. (6) And in the sense that the whole is depraved in and by the depravity or alienation from God and holiness of the governing disposition. That which the Scriptures call “the heart,” the affectional nature, being perverted, without true and ruling love of God and righteousness, and dominating the will, the whole man is held enslaved in bondage to evil. His personality is as the governing quality of his nature. (c) And in this, too, that the total nature is thus helplessly subservient to this ruling evil—the present degree of sin, growing by ascendency, moving toward the complete depravity of which the present is the potency and prophecy. Self-salvation is not man's opportunity. Divine redemptive grace is the economy of the Adamic world.

4. But there are some further affirmations which theology has felt constrained to add in explaining the Scripture doctrine of original sin. Their aim is to express the elemental conceptions or ingredients which must be included in a true and full view. Two of them, often represented as involving serious metaphysical difficulties, and, in fact, forming the crux of long, earnest, acute, and still continued controversy, must be briefly considered here.

(a) The truth that this corruption or inborn evil is “truly sin." This, as already said, is the affirmation of the Confession of our Church. It is the prevalent faith

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