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Theological Seminary, 



^**'*^^> -Dwsion, 

f^'»^fJ) Sectior 



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J, .kl. I'lnun^-x^tuT-^C^ 



James Henley Thorn well, d.d., ll.d., 









Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by 


in trust, as 

Treasurer of Pcblication of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 

Church in the United States, 

in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at 'Washington. 


1. These collected writings of James Henley Thoen- 
WELE will probably fill six volumes, of which four will 
contain all his Theological works, and be published by the 
Presbyterian Cliurch in the United States. The remaining 
two will consist of very valuable miscellanea, but it is not 
yet determined under whose auspices as publishers they 
shall be given to the public. Some of these are metaphys- 
ical and some few political ; the major portion are sermons 
and sketches of sermons, addresses, etc., etc. 

Of the four volumes to be issued by the Presbyterian 
Committee of Publication at Richmond, the First may pro- 
perly be entitled Theological ; the Second, Theological 
AND Ethical; the Third, Theological and Conteo- 
VEESiAL ; the Fourth, Ecclesiological. 

The present volume contains sixteen Lectures in Theology, 
never before printed, besides three separate articles published 
during the author's lifetime. All these constitute his dis- 
cussion of that portion of Theology which relates to God 
and to Moral Government essentially considered, or to the 
same as modified by the Covenant of Works. To this vol- 
ume, by way of appendix, are added his Inaugural Dis- 
course, his Questions on the Lectures to his classes, his 
Analysis of Calvin's Institutes and his Examination Ques- 
tions thereupon. 

The next volume will discuss that portion of Theology 
which relates to Moral Government as modified by the 
Covenant of Grace. These two volumes are not a treatise 


ou Theology written by our distinguished j)rofessor, but 
consist of all that he left behind him upon those topics, 
gathered together since his decease by the hand of friend- 
ship, and systematized as well as possible according to his 
conception of the science of Theology. The sixteen Lectures 
may be reckoned his very latest productions. Upon some 
of the topics in the second volume, what we have to present 
the reader will be some of his earlier writings ; there 
is not one of them, however, but bears the same impress of 
genius — not one of them but is instinct with the same unc- 
tion of the Spirit of truth and love. 

Accompanying what the second volume will contain upon 
the Doctrines of Grace, there will be found a partial discus- 
sion of the Morals which necessarily flow out of those doc- 
trines. Dr. Thornwell did not write on the other two 
departments of Ethics — Justice and Benevolence — but he 
wrote and published a separate volume of seven Discourses 
on Truth. The place assigned to them in this collection of 
all his writings is judged to be logically the most suitable 

The third volume will contain an elaborate discussion of 
the Canon, the Authority of Scripture, Papal Infallibility, 
the Mass, the Validity of Popish Baptism, and the Claims 
of the Romish Church to be reckoned any Church at all. 
In the discussion of Popish Baptism the author ^^^as led into 
a thorough consideration of the Christian doctrine of Justifi- 
cation, and hence that whole argument might well have 
been placed in the second volume. Connected as it was, 
however, by other ties with the Romish controversy, it was 
judged best, after mature reflection, to place it in the volume 
of the Theological and Polemic writings. 

The discussion of the Canon and of Papal Infallibility ap- 
peared first in the newspapers, where Dr. Thornwell was 
forced to defend himself against Bishop Lynch. His assail- 
ant having quit the field, he prosecuted the discussion for a 
time, and then published both sides of the controversy in a 
volume which is now out of print. These questions have 

editor's preface. V 

been made to assume in our time a fresh interest, and we 
shall hasten to present to the public Dr. Thornwell's very 
masterly and learned contributions to their elucidation. 

In the fourth volume will be gathered whatever else Dr. 
Thorn well has left behind him touching the question of the 

2. The editor is responsible for the correction of numerous 
clerical errors in the manuscript lectures and typographical 
ones in the printed pieces ; for the arrangement and classifi- 
cation of the matter ; for the Table of Contents ; for the In- 
dex ; and for the side-headings of the Theological Lectures, 
excepting those belonging to Lecture I., which are Dr. 
Thornwell's. These side-headings were undertaken in order 
to make the remaining lectures correspond in that particular 
with the first one. It is hoped they may sometimes assist 
beginners in Theology somewhat better to comprehend the 
abstruser parts of these Lectures. 

3. In the preparation of these volumes the editor has been 
indebted for counsel and encouragement to his three col- 
leagues, Drs. Howe, Plumer and Woodrow, to Dr. Pal- 
mer of New Orleans, and to Stuart Robinson. For im- 
portant assistance rendered his thanks are due to Dr. T. 
DwiGHT WiTHERSPOON of Memphis. To Dr. J. L. Gi- 
rardeau of Charleston he is under special obligations for 
the large drafts which he has kindly allowed to be made 
continually upon his learning, judgment and taste, and for a 
vast amount of actual labour by which he has assisted to 
prepare these writings for the press. Dr. Thornwell's 
friend, loving and beloved, as well as the editor's, this has 
been with him of counse a labour of love ; yet it is proper 
here to record this public acknowledgment of the toil he has 
without stint bestowed upon these works. There are two 
other persons without whose aid this task could never have 
been performed. They may not be named here; but the 
author, whilst he was with us, was their revered and beloved 
friend, and the severest and most protracted literary drudgery 
for his sake has been joyfully performed by them. Faith- 

vi editor's preface. 

fully have they wrought in erecting this monument to our 
illustrious dead. 

There is still a debt of obligation to be acknowledged. 
Soon after the war, informal arrangements with the Messrs. 
Carter of New York were entered into for the publication 
of these works. It was then expected to collect from the 
friends of Dr. Thornwell the means of stereotyping them, 
and to present the plates to his widow. Mr. Robert Carter 
claimed that he was one of this class, and as a contribution 
generously gave his beautiful plates of Thornwell on Truth. 
When it was finally concluded, however, to adopt the octavo 
form for these collected writings, those plates, being in duo- 
decimo, were returned to their liberal donor, and a new edi- 
tion has since aj^peared, upon which the customary royalty is 
paid to Mrs. Thornwell. Matters stood thus when Dr. 
Baird of the Richmond Committee expressed a strong desire 
for our Church to own and publish herself the works of her 
beloved son, and the idea commended itself so strongly to 
the editor's feelings and judgment that he frankly solicited 
of the New York publishers a release from his engagements 
to them. It was unhesitatingly and very politely granted. 
Very recently the same gentlemen were asked to allow the 
Discourses on Truth to make part of this collection. The 
answer was in these short and pithy terms : " Your letter 
was received this morning, and we accede at once and cor- 
dially to your request." Not many words are needed to ex- 
press a deep sense of so much kindness so kindly done. 

It is proper to say that while the stereotype plates of this 
collection will belong to our Church, the family of the de- 
ceased will receive from the Committee, who bear all the 
expenses of printing, binding, etc., a very liberal royalty on 
all sales in 'perpetuo. 





Relative importance of the science of Theology. Its Nomenclature 
and its Scope. 

I. Nomenclature of Theology. Vindication of the term Theology. Its 
usage among the ancient Greeks. Patristic usage. Scholastic usage. 
Modern usage. Scholastic distinctions of Theology. Komish and Re- 
formed Scholasticism. 

II. Scope and nature of Theology. 1. Definition of Theology. Is 
Theology a science? Its relation to religion. Object of Theology. 2. 
Plan of these lectures answering to a threefold division of Theology. 3. 
Source of our knowledge of Theology. Principle of Theology according 
to Romanists ; according to Rationalists ; according to orthodox Protest- 
ants. Respective spheres of Reason and Revelation Page 25 



The union of all our powers in the recognition of the Being of God. 
Religion, or the spiritual knowledge of God, is the highest form of life 
and the consummation of our being. The method of proof is to consider 
man first as a rational, secondly as a moral, and thirdly as a religious 

I. The testimony of speculative reason. The root of this faculty is the 
law of causation. This law defined as both a law of thought and a law 
of existence. In the Theistic argument the contingency of the world 
proves an eternal and necessary cause, and this by immediate inference. 
This Cosmological argument vindicated from the charge of soi)histry, 
yet defective. The general order and special adaptations in the universe 
prove an intelligent cause. This Teleological argument the complement 



of the preceding ; and the two comLmed prove the being of an Infinite 
Intelligence. The Ontological argument criticised. 

II. The testimony of man's moral nature. Personal responsibility in- 
fers the Being of God. 1. Commands imply a lawgiver. 2. Duty im- 
plies a judge. 3. Sense of good and ill d&sert imjalies moral government. 
Hence, Conscience an immediate affirmation of God. It reveals the same 
God with reason, but in higher relations. 

III. The testimony of man's religious nature. The principle of wor- 
ship in man implies the Being of God. Under the Gospel the knowledge 
culminates in communion with Him. Thus man finds the complement 
of all his powers in a living and personal God. In what sense the know- 
ledge of God is innate, li is mediate and representative Page 53 


man's natural ignokance of god. 

Man led to God by the structure of his own being, yet unassisted reason 
always ignorant of Him. 

I. The nature of this ignorance explained as due to some foreign influ- 
ence. Statement and consideration of its two causes : 1, the malignity 
of Satan ; and 2, the depravity of our nature. The influence of depravity 
(1.) in the sphere of si>eculation — perverting first the reason and then the 
imagination ; (2.) in the sphere of morals through a perverted conscience ; 
(3,) in the sphere of worship, by means of idolatrous inventions. 

II. The profounder ignorance of man's heart even where there is 
speculative knowledge. Divine influence the only remedy. 

III. The question of the resiionsibility of the heathen for their igno- 
rance of God. Heathenism the consummation of depravity in the intel- 
lectual, moral and religious nature of man Paye 74 



Two extremes of opinion : that He is perfectly comprehensible and that 
He is perfectly incomprehensible. In the middle, betwixt these extremes, 
the truth that God is at once known and unknown. As absolute and in- 
finite He is unknown, but He is manifested through the finite. As pro- 
perties reveal substance, so the finite reveals the infinite. Our concep- 
tions of the attributes of God derived from the human soul and embrace 
two elements : one positive — the abstract notion of a particular perfection 
ascribed to God in the way of analogy and not of similitude ; the other 
negative — a protest against ascribing to God the limitations and condi- 
tions of man, and a regulative principle at once to warn and to guide. 
This relative analogical knowledge of God the catholic doctrine of theo- 


Tlie objection rebutted tbat this knowledge gives no true representation 
of the Divine Being. Equally valid against all knowledge. It is not 
only true and trustworthy, but adequate for all the purposes of religion. 
Characteristic of man, whether in a state of unmixed probation, of sin, or 
of partial recovery. Does not weaken but strengthens the grounds of re- 
ligious worship. This relativeness of our knowledge of God in harmony \Jt^ . 
with the teachings of Scripture. 

It follows that no science of God is possible. The belief of the contrary 
is the source of most heresies. Our ignorance of the Infinite solves the 
most perplexing problems of Theology., Page, 104 



God's nature and perfections disclosed in the use of personal and at- 
tributive names. Each one contributes its share to the Ecvelation. They 
diminish in number as the Revelation advances. Comparative predomi- 
nance of the names Elohim and Jehovah in the Pentateuch. Import of 
the name Elohim as indicating the Trinity in Covenant ; — of the name 
Jehovah as expressing absolute plenitude of being and His relation to 
man as his Redeemer and Saviour ; — of the name Jah as setting forth 
God's beauty and glory ; — of the name Adonai as implying dominion 
founded in ownership ; — of Shaddai as representing God the Almighty 
and Supreme ; — of El as indicating His irresistible power ; — of Elyon as 
revealing God as the Most High. The Greek names Kvptoq and feof ex- 
plained Page 143 



God as He is in Himself cannot be defined. But we may represent our 
conceptions of Him in language. He must be conceived of as substance 
and attributes. Two definitions of God considered. The best definition 
is that of the Shorter Catechism. This, after having a defect supplied, 
will best answer the two questions. Quid sit Deus f and, Qualis sit Beus ? 

Our notion of the Attributes, whence derived ? These are not separa- 
ble from the Essence of God. Said to be all radically one. This is dis- 
proved first from the doctrine of the Trinity, and secondly from the law 
of our own minds. The distinction of virtual or eminent and real differ- 
ence which plays so important a part in theological treatises. Applied 
to the question of the oneness of all the Attributes, God is shown to be 
eminently all that the universe contains, and accordingly One, but giving 
rise to diversity. This is ingenious, but unsatisfactory juggling with scho- 
lastic technicalities. We are constrained to make distinctions in the at- 
tributes of God, but the whole subject transcends the sphere of our 


Since we can know God only as of distinct attributes, some classification 
of them is important. Seven schemes of distribution are signalized. 
Substantially they are nearly all the same. The fundamental distinction 
is between those attributes which refer to God's necessary existence and 
those which refer to Him as a Personal Spirit. Classifications of Dr. 
Hodge and Dr. Breckinridge considered. The simplest division is 
grounded in the distinction between those which pervade the whole 
being of God and those which are special and determinative — these latter 
being subdivided into intellectual and moral. 

It is proposed, accordingly, to treat first of the Nature of God, and then 
to unfold the Attributes in the order here set forth Page 158 



This the foundation of all religious worship. Also the foundation of 
the Divine attributes. Scripture proof of it. The ancient heathen phi- 
losophers concur. Both a negative and a positive truth. 

I. It is negative in that it denies to Him the properties of matter. 
Ancient and modern Aiithropomorphites. Defence of Tertullian from 
this charge. The Anthropomorphism of Scripture explained. The im- 
materiality of God implied in the prohibitions to figure Him by images. 

II. It is positive in that it affirms Him a person possessed of intelli- 
gepce and will. This implies separateness of being in opposition to every 
form of Pantheism. The notion of God's spirituality involves — 1. Life in 
Himself and necessary activity ; 2. This activity one of thought and will ; 
3. The unity and simplicity of His being ; 4. His power of communion 
with our spirits ; 5. That He cannot be represented by images. Accord- 
ingly, Idolatry is a twofold falsehood Page 173 



These are universal and all-pervading, characterizing the whole being 
and every perfection of God. 

I. His Independence. The term used with reference to the grounds 
of God's being, and implies that He is uncaused. This mystery not more 
incomprehensible than caused being. Both transcend our faculties. 
Certain modes of expression regarding this subject criticised. God's in- 
dependence involved in every argument for His being. The Scriptures 
also presuppose it throughout. It pervades every determinate perfection 
of God as well as His being. 

II. His Eternity. This term used with reference to the duration of 
His being. Vain attempts by the Schoolmen to define it. All our con- 
ceptions of it must be purely negative. But these negations cover trans- 
cendent excellence. 


III. His Immensity. This term used with reference to tlie extent of 
His being. How distinguished from His Omnipresence. Precludes all 
mixture with other beings or objects. Not the mere virtual presence of 
His power, which is to deny His infinity. The Scriptures full of this 
amazing perfection of God, and herein make manifest their own Divine 
origin. Special sense in which the Scriptures sometimes speak of God's 
presence. His immensity as incomprehensible as His eternity. Practical 
uses of the doctrine. 

IV. His All-sufBciency. This term used with reference to the contents 
of His being. He contains the plenitude of the universe. The sense ex- 
plained in which the perfections of all creatures are in Him formally, 
eminently or virtually. The value of this truth as a regulative principle 
of faith. 

V. His Immutability. This applies to the permanence of God's being. 
Only another form of asserting the simplicity and oneness of the Infinite. 
A self-evident truth, and abundantly proclaimed in Scripture. Appears 
to be contradicted by the fact of creation. By reason of our ignorance we 
cannot solve the difficulty. The Divine essence not modified by the In- 
carnation of the Son, nor by any changes which take place in the universe. 
Scriptures which ascribe change to God. Foundation of all our hopes 
and fears. It is the immutability of goodness and truth. Disparity be- 
twixt God and the creature. Rebuke of arrogance, cavilling and mur- 
murs Page 189 



Five hypotheses of the relations between the finite and the infinite : 
viz. — 1, that of the Atheists ; 2, that of the Eleatics ; 3, that of the Pan- 
theists ; 4, that of the Dualists ; 5, that of the Theists. The first two dis- 
counted immediately, as having in our times no advocates of considera- 
tion. The fourth is also to be discounted at once, as being a disguised 
Atheism. The only scheme which remains inconsistent with Creation is 
Pantheism, which is the prevailing tendency of modern philosophy. 

The fundamental postulate of Pantheism is the impossibility and ab- 
surdity of Creation. A fourfold outline of the Pantheistic objections. 
All these arguments have the same capital vice of attempting to grasp 
what transcends our faculties. The infinite is not to be known, but 

Detailed reply to these objections of Pantheism. The first one shown 
to be based on a double misconcej)tion. The second one retorted on the 
Pantheists. In the third place, it is shown that Pantheism does not ob- 
viate the difficulties which arise from the knowledge and from the will 
of God ; that it transcends our power to conceive of the nature of Divine 
knowledge or the operation of the Divine will, while yet there are grounds 
upon which we can conceive that God might choose to create. Fourthly, 


Pantheism aggravates instead of diminishing the objection to Creation 
from the existence of evil by lodging it in God's very nature. 

Positive argument for creation from the data of consciousness : 1, The 
world has a real, separate existence ; 2, it is finite ; 3, these two imply 
that it began ; 4, it had a cause, and that cause the Creator. The inva- 
riable tendency of speculation to contradict the most palpable deliver- 
ances of consciousness. 5. The Creator must be eternal and necessary. 
Only God can create or annihilate. This principle is vital in Theology 
and fundamental in the Evidences Page 206 


Calvin's definition of true wisdom as the knowledge of God and of our- 
selves. Man a microcosm. The subject to be considered : I. As to the 
distinguishing characteristics of man ; II. As to his condition when he 
came from the hands of his Maker ; III. As to the destiny he was to 

I. Man essentially a person. Keason and Will distinguish humanity 
and involve the existence of a soul in man. Vindication of man's im- 
mortality upon other than scriptural grounds. 

II. The question of man's being created in infancy or with his powers 
matured. Pelagian and Popish theories. In puris naturalibus. 1. Adam 
not created an infant, either in mind or in body, 2. Not created indif- 
ferent to holiness and sin. 3. The indirect testimony of Scri^jture on this 

• subject : (1.) Adam had the gift of language in its most difiicult and com- 
plicated relations ; (2.) Eve was created a mature woman ; (3.) The pair 
received a commission which involved their being mature ; (4.) Adam 
was not a rude, warlike, destructive savage. 4. The direct testimony of 
Scripture is not definite as to Adam's knowledge of nature, but very ex- 
plicit as to his moral condition. A looser and a stricter sense of the ex- 
pression, " image of God." The strict and proper sense is holiness mani- 
fested in knowledge and righteousness. Adam was endowed with both 
the knowledge of God and rectitude of disposition. The Devil has a per- 
sonal and spiritual nature, but not the " image of God." In what sense 
the holiness of Adam was natural. 5. Adam's holiness was natural, but 
not indefectible. The difference between confirmed and untried holiness. 
How could the understanding be deceived and the will perverted in the 
case of a holy creature ? Several unsatisfactory solutions of this problem 
considered : those of Pelagians, of certain Papists and of Bishop Butler. 
The Orthodox solution brings in the freedom of man's will. The differ- 
ence between freedom not yet deliberately chosen and freedom as a neces- 
sity of nature. This is the doctrine of Calvin, of the Confession, of Tiir- 
rettin and of Howe, but fundamentally diflerent from the Pelagian. 

III. The end of man's creation. Man's relation to God was that of a 
servant Page 223 




The subject of consideration is — I., the essential principles of moral go- 
vernment ; and II., Avhat is implied in the relation of a servant. 

I. The essentials of moral government are — first, that the moral law 
should be the rule of obedience ; and secondly, that rewards and punish- 
ments should be distributed on the principle of justice. The notion of 
justice is founded in our moral nature. Analysis of conscience into three 
cognitions : 1, the perception of right — an act of the understanding ; 2, 
the feeling of obligation — which belongs to the emotions ; 3, the conviction 
of merit or demerit — a sentence passed by the mind upon itself. These 
are logically distinguishable, but fundamentally the same. The sense of 
good and ill desert is a jDrimitive notion. It is an indissoluble moral tie 
which binds together merit and right, demerit and wrong. This morail 
principle of administration constitutes government moral. Conscience 
expresses itself in hopes as well as fears, but obliterates all claims from a 
past righteousness. It demands perfect obedience, and counts all other 
null. The creature's whole immortal life is one, and at whatever moment 
its perfection is lost, all is over. Eepresentation an admissible, yet not 
necessary, principle of pure moral government. 

II. The relation of servant. Three differences betwixt a servant and a 
son : 1, the expectation of a servant is based on his own merit — of a son 
on the fullness of Divine benevolence ; 2, the access of a servant to God is 
not full and free and close like that of a son ; 3, to a servant the law 
si^eaks of obligations, to a son of privileges. 

These views of moral government and the relation of a servant are 
scriptural. Exposition of Romans ii. 6-11, and of Ezekiel xxxiii. 12, seq. 

Moral government to be carefully distinguished from moral discipline. 
The law knows no discipline but growth. Discipline provides for the 
formation of holy habits and the eradication of propensities to evil. The 
law knows how to punish, but not to reform. It knows no repentance ; 
once a sinner, always and hopelessly a sinner. Four distinctions between 
government and discipline specified. In fine, Discipline is of Grace — 
Government, of Nature Page 252 



The way is now open to examine the peculiar features of the dispensa- 
tion vinder which man was placed immediately after his creation. The 
servant was to become a son, and so there was grace in the first covenant 
as truly as in the second. Although the adoption was of grace, yet it 
must also be a reward of obedience, for man was not to be arbitrarily pro- 
moted. An important modification of the general principles of moral 


government is introduced by which probation is limited as to time. This 
brings into the Divine economy a new feature, viz. — justification. These 
are free acts of God's bounty, and accordingly are matters of pure revela- 
tion, as the religion of man must always be. The dispensation under 
which these modifications of moral government are introduced is called 
the Covenant of Works. 

This covenant defined, and the precise sense given in which the term 
covenant is applied to this dispensation. The two essential things of the 

Prior to the discussion of these, another modification of moral govern- 
ment is considered, by which the probation is limited as to the persons in- 
terested, and Adam becomes the representative of all his race. This is a 
provision of pure goodness. Adam, the root, because to be the head. 
Kepresentation of grace. Imputation proceeds from the federal tie and 
not from the natural. 

Thus two principles have entered which pervade every dispensation of 
religion to our race — the principles of justification and imputation — key- 
notes both of the legal and evangelical covenants. 

I. The fii'st essential of the Covenant of Works is its condition. This 
was obedience to a positive precept. Bishop Butler on the difference be- 
twixt moral and positive precepts criticised. The real difference stated. 
Butler criticised again on the ground of preference of the moral to the 
positive. Peculiar fitness of the positive to be the condition of the Cove- 
nant of Works. Why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was 
called by that name. The explanation overturns various hypotheses — as 
that the effects of the fruit of the two trees were physical effects, and that 
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a sacrament. 

The positive, however, cannot supersede the moral law nor repeal it, for 
that law was written upon the heart of man. The positive was added to 
the moral, and Adam was placed under a twofold law. Through the posi- 
tive the issue to he tried might be determined more speedily and more 
fully ; yet it was the whole twofold law, both moral and positive, under 
which man was placed. This view confirmed by Scripture. Moreover, 
the sanction of the positive must have been wholly unintelligible, unless 
the moral law had established the conviction of good and ill desert. Tlie 
importance of this whole discussion set forth. 

II. The second essential is the promise of the covenant. Moses, respect- 
ing it, says nothing directly. But the Scriptures must needs arbitrate, 
and both indirectly and positively they do teach what was the promise of 
the covenant. Under four heads the Scripture doctrine set forth that the 
promise was eternal life. The tree of life was a sacramental seal of the 
promise. Warburton's view of the covenant criticised. 

III. The penalty of disobedience. Warburton's and two otlier theories 
discussed. Tlie true view of the penalty. It includes all pain. It is 
death, spiritual, temporal and eternal. 

IV. The conduct of man under all this display of Divine benevolence. 


The record is a history of facts. An evil spirit is present. The sin of 
man was tlie deliberate rejection of God, aggravated by his relations to 
God, by the nature of the act, and by its consequences. 

V. The relations of man to the covenant since the fall Page 264 



The phrase Original Sin as used in a wide sense by the Westminster 
Assembly, in a narrower one by Calvin, Turrettin and nearly all the Ee- 
formed. The author of the expression was Augustin, who had three uses 
for it. In this lecture it is employed in the narrower sense, yet the notion 
of guilt is not excluded. For the question how guilt can precede existence 
must be met. It is remitted, however, until the second part of the discus- 

I. How all the early confessions, Lutheran and Reformed, held Original 
Sin : 1. As being the very mould of man's nature. 2. As negative, the 
destitution of all holy principles ; and as positive, an active tendency to 
all evil. These but two sides of one and the same thing. 3. As universal 
and all-pervading. But they distinguished between loss of faculties and 
extinction of spiritual life. Man retained reason, conscience and taste. 
Yet these faculties, though not destroyed, were all weakened. Augustin's 
language on this point Avas objectionable. The phrase total depravity used 
in two senses, and might be used in a third ; but it never was employed to 
signify that men are as wicked as they could be. 4. As hereditary. 

The doctrine as thus stated, if true, is appalling ; if not true, it ought to 
be easily disproved, for the facts of the case are patent, and the reasoning 
short and simple. 

The doctrine must be true, but as it may be exaggerated, it should be 
examined with the utmost candour and solemnity. 

In investigating the facts upon which it is grounded, the first fact en- 
countered is, that of the universality of sin. Every human being has often 
done wrong. The second is, that in all there is a stronger tendency to evil 
than to good. The third is, that the best of men complain of its indwelling 
power. The fourth is, that it makes its appearance in the youngest chil- 
dren. These extraordinary facts can be explained only upon the doctrine 
of Original Sin. 

But a tendency to sin may be admitted without confessing the total de- 
pravity taught by the Reformers, and the question arises : Is there no 
middle ground between Pelagians and the Reformed ? The Sensationalists 
have their theory and the Semi-Pelagians theirs, which maintain a natural 
ability quite different from that of the Arminians. We must consider, 
therefore, if there be really anything good in man. 

If there be, he must both perceive the excellence of God and desire to 
commune with Him, for both these elements belong to holiness. But 
Scripture denies to man both of these, and the experience of all the re- 


newed confirms the Scripture. The case of unrenewed men of high prob- 
ity does not at all contradict this testimony ; eminent conscientiousness 
may be conjoined with eminent ungodliness. The virtue of the Stoics was 
pride; that of Christianity is humility. Holiness and morality differ as 
the Ptolemaic and Copernican systems. As the one puts the earth in the 
centre, the other the sun, so the one makes man supreme, the other God. 

A passage of Miiller on Sin is criticised at length, and four distinctions 

pointed out between holiness and morality. In what sense man is capable 

of redemption. The real tendencies of human nature are exhibited 

amongst tlie heathen. The summing up shows that man is totally desti- 

■; tute of holiness and dead in trespasses and sins. 

II. The question of hereditary guilt now recurs. There are two ques- 
tions : First, how sin is propagated ; Second, how that which is inherited 
can be sin. The various theories of Stapfer, Pictet, Turrettin and Edwards 
are considered, and the whole difficulty is found to lie in Avhat to these 
divines presents no difficulty : viz. — in the imputation of guilt. Respect- 
ing this second question, the difficulty is stated in its fullness. Then, by 
way of approaching a solution, the question is first considered, whether 
hereditary depravity can really be sin. The views of Papists and Remon- 
strants, as represented by Bellarmin and Limborch, pass mider review ; also 
those of Zwingle, and then of the other Reformed divines. Then the tes- 
timony of Scripture is taken, and arguments from Scripture definitions of 
sin, and from the relation of inward principle to outward action, and from 
death behig the penalty of original sin, are combined to prove that the de- 
pravity in which we are born constitutes us really guilty before God. Then 
the testimony of our conscience concludes the argument. 

Touching the way in which we receive this corruption only two suppo- 
sitions are possible : One, that the sinful act which produced it was our 
own act ; the other, that it was the act of another. 

The question of ante-mundane i^robation is introduced, and Pythagoras, 
Plato, Origen, Kant, Schelling, Miiller are quoted as holding that theory. 
Two insuperable objections are brought against it, and then it is also shown 
to be totally inconsistent with Scripture. It is then considered whether 
our relation to Adam may not furnish a ground for imi^utation. Adam 
was our natural head, and he was also our federal head, and the only point 
to be examined is whether this latter is founded in justice. An affirmative 
conclusion has been reached on two different grounds : 1, that of generic 
unity ; 2, that of a Divine constitution, 

1. If there was a fundamental unity between Adam and his race, it is 
clear that he could justly be dealt with as their federal head. He was the 
race, and could be treated as the race without any fiction of law. Plere we 
see the precise relation betwixt the federal and the natural unity — the 
former presupposes the latter. Imputation harmonizes the testimony of 
conscience. According to the Scriptures it is immediate and not mediate, 
as one class of theologians have taught. Two other statements of the case 
are considered, and the conclusion is reached tliat a generic unity between 


Adam and his sons is the true basis of the representative economy in the 
Covenant of Works. 

2. The second theory of an arbitrary Divine constitution is summarily 

How the individual is evolved from the genus which contains it is ac- 
knowledged to be a mystery. 

The theory of representation alone consists with Scripture and with con- 
science Page 301 



Theological importance of the doctrine of the Fall. We can know 
neither ourselves, nor God, nor the Redeemer, without appreciating the 
moral features of our present ruin. 

I. The first question is. What is Sin ? And our first determinations of it 
must be objective ones. 1. It is the transgression of the moral law, and 
this law is concerned not only with action, but also with the will and with 
the dispositions which lie back of it ; with the heart as well as with the 
life. 2. It is disobedience to God. 3. It is the contradiction of God's 

Our second determinations of sin are subjective. Man's relation to God 
as the expression of His will and the product of His power is the true 
ethical ground of right and wrong. The specific shape which obedience 
must take is supreme devotion and undeviating conformity. This supreme 
devotion is expressed in Love, yet love does not, as Miiller supposes, ex- 
haust the whole of duty towards God. It is the motive, but not the whole 
object-matter of obedience. Toward the creature Love is also to be 
grounded on the common relation to the Creator. Sin, therefore — 1, in- 
volves a denial of dependence on God. 2. The next step is positive es- 
trangement from God. 3. Then it resolves itself, thirdly, into self-aifirma- 
tion. The whole subjective determination of Sin, therefore, may be stated 
as self-afiirmation. 

An objection maybe made to this analysis from certain affections in )/f. 
man which seem to evince disinterested love. And here divines of New 
England have erred, who put self-love for the subjective determination of — 
sin, and hold to a reflex operation of the mind in the case of all those af- 
fections. But the true explanation is that those elementary principles are 
a part of our nature itself, and that they exist back of the will. 

It is to be noticed that both the objective and the subjective determina- 
tions of Sin coincide and harmonize in Selfishness, which is the root of our 
disturbed moral life. 

II. But there remains the question, What is the formal nature of Sin ? 
1. Some have sought to ground moral distinctions in the Will of God, but 
this is itself grounded in His Nature, which is their ti-ue ground. Tlius, 
they are eternal and immutable, and they make us to be like or unlike 


God. 2. Some ground them in the tendency to make ourselves or others 
happy, but this is to ground them in the creature. If grounded in any 
tendency at all, it should be in the tendency to promote God's glory. 
But we can neither know our own good, nor the good of others, nor the 
glory of God, until we know what Good itself is. And the question recurs, 
What is the Right? To this question the answer is, that the Eight is an 
original intuition which conscience apprehends, as consciousness the ex- 
ternal world and ourselves. Conscience does not make, but declares it. 
The right is a reality, but under manifold forms, as truth, justice, benevo- 
lence, temperance ; and the common relation of all these to conscience is 
grounded in their common relation to the holiness of God. 3. The third 
step is to investigate the nature of Holiness. It differs from the right as a 
faculty from its object. It is a subjective condition. It is not a single at- 
tribute, but is an attribute of all God's attributes, and is the fullness and 
unity of His nature. In man holiness is not a detached habit, but a na- 
ture, and the Scriptures illustrate it by life. It is supreme devotion to 
God as the supreme good. It is the notion of the right carried up to the 
notion of the good, and the heart must respond to the conscience in choos- 
ing it. The right and the good are objectively the same, and the same 
subjectively in all holy things ; but not in sinners, for man has lost the 
perception of the good. 4. The fourth step is to consider the nature of Sin 
from the same qualitative point of view. It is the not-right. The dis- 
tinction of privation and simple negation considered. The Augustinian 
doctrine of sin as privation. Peter Lombard quoted. The motive of the 
doctrine with Augustin was to vindicate God from the authorship of Sin. 
Van Mastricht, De Moor and Burmann quoted. The Master of the Sen- 
tences quoted again. The distinction by later theologians of Sin in the 
concrete and in the abstract. An expression of Augustin explained. The 
Vitringas and Wesselius referred to as refuting and defending this theory. 
Objections to the theory : (1) founded on a double confusion ; (2) fails of 
the purpose for which it was invented ; (3) contradicts consciousness and 
requires an extravagant and shameful distinction ; (4) destroys all real 
significance in the creature, and abolishes the distinction between the effi- 
cient and the permissive decrees. On these grounds the theory must be 
rejected. Moral distinctions not exclusively subjective. There is a prin- 
ciple of unity in the life of sin as there is in the life of holiness. It is op- 
position to God ; it repudiates His authority, and it commits treason against 
His sovereignty. 

This qualitative consideration of good and evil conducts to tlie same re- 
sults in relation to the nature of Sin reached by estimating its objective 
and subjective aspects regarding the law ; and the formal i)rinciple of Sin 
is seen to be enmity against God. 

III. It has been, assumed throughout this discussion that only a rational 
being can sin, but the precise conditions of responsibility remain to be 
stated. Holiness demands the living unity of all our higher faculties, and 
sin is the perversion of them all. In particular, there is no moral worth 


in acts where tlie consent of the heart and will is not found. But the acts 
and the habits which are beyond the control of a sinner's will, are they by 
his inability stripped of their sinfulness ? A distinction must be made 
here between inability original and inability penal. What the advocates 
of what is called natural ability really mean by this term. Man's inability 
is the result of his own choice, and is therefore penal. He is competent 
only for Sin, but is held responsible for the nature God gave to him ; and 
the law of God must ever be the standard of his life. To apostate creatures 
actual ability, therefore, can never be the measure of obligation. Two ap- 
palling facts of every sinner's consciousness Page 352 



Two inseparable properties or effects of sin — pollution and guilt. 

1. The notion of the macula or stain of sin exhibits the connection of the 
beautiful and the good, the deformed and the sinful. Ground of the con- 
nection ethical and not aesthetic. Sin is the real and original ugly, and its 
power to make us disgusting is its jjolluting power. As the vile and mean 
it makes ashamed. Our sensibility to the estimation in which others hold 
us is a clear instance of a moral administration carried on in this life, and 
the full elucidation of the filthiness of sin demands that it be explained. 
Public opinion abashes us only when it accords with our inward senti- 
ments, and was designed to have force only as representing the judgment 
of truth. But our own moral nature is never alive to the full shame of sin 
so long as we can fancy it concealed. At the judgment sin is to be ex- 
posed, and a perpetual source of torture for ever to the wicked will be the 
everlasting contempt to which they shall awake. 

2. Guilt divided into potential and actual; the one is intrinsic ill desert, 
the other condemnation. Popularly it is taken in the former, theologi- 
cally in the latter sense. The sense of guilt or remorse contains two ingre- 
dients — the conviction that sin ought to be punished, and the conviction 
that it will be punished. The second conviction involves the other ele- 
ment of guilt — that is, actual condemnation ; for guilt in the conscience is a 
present sentence of death by God. The punishment of sin is no less neces- 
sary than certain. The object of penal justice is not the reformation of the 
offender, but the vindication of law. Scruples about capital punishment 
always a sign of moral degeneracy. This account of the sense of guilt in- 
volves two propositions — first, one sin entails on us a hopeless bondage to 
sin ; second, one sin involves endless punishment. The sense of guilt in- 
tolerable now, but two circumstances in the future will add inconceivably 
to its terrors — first, it will operate more intensely ; second, it will for ever 
reproduce the past at every moment. This illustrated in dreams and the 
experience of persons drowning. Nothing ever forgotten. How shall the 
lost tolerate for ever their own memory ? 

The Scriptures sustain these theological determinations of guilt. With 


out this distinction of the stain and the guilt of sin, we could not under- 
stand Imputation, nor the diflerence between Justification and Sanctifica- 
tion. This distinction pervades Scripture and lies at the foundation of the 
whole scheme of Redemption. A distinction of guilt by Papists approved, 
but their use of it condemned Page 400 



Stoical parados. Testimony of Scripture. Jovinian and Pelagius. 
Doctrine of the Reformers and of the Westmmster Assembly. Two 
grounds of distinction amongst sins : the first is in the object-matter of the 
law ; the second in the subjective condition of the agent. Yet some sins 
of ignorance reveal greater malignity than some sins against knowledge. 
The erring conscience necessitates sin whether resisted or obeyed, and the 
only remedy is spiritual light. A precise scale of iniquity, like that of the 
Romish confessional, preposterous and delusive. Sins classified as — 1, of 
presumption ; 2, of ignorance ; 3, of weakness — but all malignant and 
deadly. The Papal distinction of veiiial and mortal sins. Protestants hold 
that no sin is venial in its own nature, yet all, save one, may be cancelled 
by the blood of Christ. To a very partial extent a modified sense of the 
Papal distinction has been adopted amongst Protestants. The unpardon- 
able sin is not final impenitency ; nor insult to the Person of the Spirit ; 
nor peculiar to the times of the miraculous efiusion ; but is sin agaiiast the 
Spirit in His oflicial character Fage 425 


Thought and action neither contradictories nor opposites, and the great 
debater was not unlikely to prove a great teacher of Theology. 
^yU The argument from final causes for the being of a God as presented in 
-I ' modern systems of Theology not only inconclusive, but pernicious. It 
— makes Deity but a link in the chain of finite causes, and degrades the 
Creator to the huge Mechanic of the world. Dr. Breckinridge gives to 
final causes their true place, which is to set forth the nature and the per- 
fections of God ; — given a Creator, we can deduce from them that He is 
intelligent and spiritual. 

The conception of this book is the grandeur and glory of Theology con- 
sidered simply as an object of speculation, which leads the author to sepa- 
rate the consideration of the Truth from the consideration of its effects, 
and also from the consideration of errors. And it is in this form an 
original conception. The clue to his plan is the method of the Spirit in 
the production of faith. 


Following Foster in part, Dr. Breckinridge argues illogically against 

He concentrates liis energies upon the third book, which treats of the 
Nature and Attributes of God. Tlie central ideas of his division of these 
are three: viz. — Being, Personal Spirit and Absolute Perfection, And 
he makes five classes of Attributes, calling them Primary, Essential, Na- 
tural, Moral and Consummate. This division and the nomenclature criti- 

In relation to the great problem of modern philosophy concerning the 
Infinite and Absolute, this work takes' very definite ground, and that 
ground the safe and true middle, that we know the existence of the Infi- 
nite as truly as of the finite, but cannot comprehend it. The views of 
Cousin, Hamilton and Kant compared. Dr. Breckinridge's views quoted \i 

and strongly commended. 

Beginning with a survey of man in his individual and social relations, 
and demonstrating his universal and irremediable ruin, this treatise pro- 
ceeds in a second book to consider the Mediator in His Person, Offices and 
Work ; and as in Christ only we know God, the Divine character, perfec- 
tions and glory are the culminating points in Book Third. In another 
book the sources of our knowledge of God are consecutively considered, 
and then the fifth and last book brings us back to Man in his ruin and 
misery. Primeval Innocence, the Covenant . of Works, the Entrance of 
Sin, the FaU, Election and Eedemption, are all now discussed in sixty 
pages, the rigid method of the author requiring that the philosophy of all 
these questions be remitted to his third volume, and that now, for the 
most part, only the Scripture facts and doctrines be presented. 

The wish expressed that Dr. Breckinridge had dwelt more largely on 
the Nature of sin, and particularly the First sin. How a holy creature 
could sin is a profoundly interesting question, and it is to be regretted that 
the author, with his evangelical views, had not grappled with it like 
Bishop Butler, and given us more satisfactory results. 

The doctrine of the work respecting hereditary depravity and imputed ■ 
guilt criticised. 

Having viewed the whole treatise, the judgment is expressed that the 
author has realized his own ideal as far as it could possibly be done. The 
unction of the book is beyond all praise, and it pervades the whole. 

The peculiarities of Dr. Breckini-idge's teaching are thus seen to be the 
separation of dogmatic from polemic Theology, and the concatenation of 
the truths of religion upon the principle of ascent and descent, or induc- 
tion and deduction. The question is now raised, whether Dr. Breckin- 
ridge's peculiarities as a theological teacher should be copied, and it is 
answered in the negative. 

In conclusion, the attempt is made to find a central principle which 
shall reduce to unity all the doctrines of religion, and Justification is set 

forth as that central principle Page 445 

Vol. I.— 2 

_ V 



Ancient representations, uninspired and inspired, tliat God cannot be 
known, and a modern one that His very essence is compreliensibility. To 
explain such contradictory conclusions, we must understand what has ever 
been the problem of Philosoi^hy and the methods by which she has in- 
vestigated it. That problem is to unfold the mystery of the universe— 
whence it came and how it was produced — being in itself and in its laws 
— the causes and the principles of all things. In every such inquiry the 
answer must be — God. But when the further question is, What is God, and 
how do all things centre in Him ? difierent results are reached, according 
to the difierent views of the nature of the universe and its relation to its 

Three ancient theories of the universe stated — the third one named 
makes God the essence of all things, and they but manifestations of His 

Modern speculation has pursued essentially the same track, but has 
taken its departure from a difierent point. The Material was the ancient 
point of departure, but the modern is Consciousness. God is made to be 
the complement of primitive cognitions. Thus both ancient and modern 
speculation reduces everything to a stern necessity. Pantheism and Posi- 
tivism, however differing in other respects, unite to deny a Personal God. 

I. What is it to be a Person ? A simple and primitive belief is not to 
be defined, but we may describe the occasions on which it is elicited in 
consciousness, and the conditions on which it is realized. 

1. The first circumstance which distinguishes this notion is Individualitij. 
Every instance of knowledge is the affirmation of a self and a not-self. 
When we assert the Personality of God, we mean to assert that He is dis- 
tinct from all other beings and objects. 

2. Intelligence and will belong to the idea of Personality. 

3. Absolute Simplicity is equally essential to self-hood. 

These are the properties which we affirm in maintaining the Personality 
of God. He is an absolutely simple Intelligence, having consciousness and 
will, who can say " I am," " I will," " I know," and He is not a blind 
fatality, nor a mere necessary princii^le or law. 

Tliis statement corrects the ignorant misapprehension that person im- 
plies bodily figure or material shape. God is a Personal Spirit. 

II. The difTerence immense between admitting and rejecting such a 

1. In the field of Speculation. Pantheism in every form of it deduces all 
from God with rigorous necessity, and makes all philosophy a priori and 
deductive. The belief of God makes the universe to be whatever He may 
will, and philosophy becomes an inquiry into His designs, and the method 
of induction becomes the true and only method of inquiry. The counsel 
of His will then becomes the goal of philosophy. . 


A comparison of what the inductive philosophy has accomplished, with 
the results of Pantheism. 

2. In the field of Morals. Theism makes God a ruler and man a sub- 
ject. Pantheism deprives us of will and puts us under inviolable neces- 
sity. It annihilates all moral diflerence of actions and makes Sin a fiction. 
It is hostile to every principle which holds society together, which imparts 
to states their authority and to the family its sacredness. S]jeculations 
which strike at the Personality of God cannot be harmless. 

3. In the field of Religion. To make God everything can be no better 
than to make Him nothing. Piety is subverted when there is no object 
of its regards. Religion consists necessarily in veneration and love, whicli 
must presuppose a Person. The highest form of religion is communion 
with God. It comes to an end when you remove a Personal God. 

4. As to the credibility of Revelation in itself and in its miraculous cre- 
dentials. Intelligence and will controlling subordinate intelligences may 
well render miracles necessary. And then if God be a Person, He may 
be expected to delight in intercourse with His creatures, for Personality 
seeks union Pmje 491 


The central topic of this book is the doctrine of Original Sin. It claims 
to relieve the question of hereditary sin of most if not all of its difficulties. 
Acknowledging its great merits in other respects, it is pronounced in refer- 
ence to its main design a failure. The theory is a numerical identity of 
nature between Adam and his posterity, so that his sin is not constructively 
and legally, but strictly and properly, theirs. Generation communicates 
not a like nature, but the very same. The father substantially and essen- 
tially, though not personally, is reproduced in his offspring. 

Nothing new in all this — as old as the introduction of Realism into 
Theology. The book is a reaction against the entire ciu-rent of modern 
thought, both in Theology and philosophy — a formal protest against Nom- 
inalism and the spirit of the inductive philosophy grounded in Nominalism, 
and also against the received system of orthodoxy grounded in the same. 
Statement here of the qualified sense in which the author gives his alle- 
giance to Realism. 

1. The first j^oint considered is Dr. Baird's notion of nature, and it is 
concluded to be the bond of unity to the whole race^ sustaining the same 
relation to human persons which the substance of the Godhead does to the 
inefiable Three. Adam and his posterity are one substance. 

2. The next point is the relation between person and nature — it is that 
of efiect and cause ; person is a product of the nature. The person is but 
an instrument through which the nature works, and it is no great thing to 
be able to say " I." 


3. The third point is the law of generation, which, according to the 
author, is such that the first man is the efficient cause of the existence of 
all other men. The reasonings of Dr. Baird in relation to the nature of 
man resemble those of the Pantheists in relation to the nature of God. 
Sundry difliculties in the way of his theory of generation suggested. 

Upon these grounds the writer explains our interest in Adam's sin ; it 
was strictly ours — as strictly as if committed in our own persons. Adam 
was every man, and so every man sinned in Adam. But some other con- 
clusions will follow as rigidly as this one : namely — first, that every man 
is responsible for every sin of Adam, seeing that his nature was implicated 
in every sin of his life ; and secondly, that Adam, penitent and believing, 
must have begotten penitent and believing children, seeing that the natui'e 
always flows from parent to child as it is in the parent. 

The consequences of Dr. Baird's theory to our current theology are — 

1. There is no imputation of Adam's sin, but his sin is ours, and we are 
held to be actually guilty of it. 

2. That the twofold relations of Natural and Representative head in 
which Adam stood to the species are confounded. 

That the Reformers did not hold such a theory is proved not by quota- 
tions, which would require too much room, but by several considerations 
— among them that they held our sins to be imputed to Christ. Here 
Dr. Baird is forced to retract, and does retract altogether, his entire phi- 
losophy of guilt and punishment. 

Dr. Baird's theory completely solves all difficulties in relation to heredi- 
tary sin ; the only difficulty is in that theory itself. Given a numerical 
identity of nature transmitted from father to sons, and the moral condition 
of it in tlie one is as inexplicable as in the other. But Adam's children 
being not Adam, but themselves, two questions arise which have ever been 
difficult to solve : one, how that which now and here begins its being can 
begin it in a state of sin without an imputation on the character of God ; 
the other, how that which is inherent can be our crime. Dr. Baird exults 
in the thought that he has demolished the fortress of Edwards and his 
disciples, but while their doctrine has difficulties, his is an absurdity. 

There are but three hypotheses supposable : 1, That we had an ante- 
mundane being and sinned then, which conditions our mundane liistory ; 
2, that we had a being in our substance and committed sin in our sub- 
stance, though not in our persons ; 3, that we sinned in another standing 
in such relations to us as to make us morally one with him. The first two 
remove the difficulty, but substitute a greater one. The third is the 
scheme of the Bible. 

Dr. Baird's account of the Covenant of Works seriously defective. 

His representations of the propagative property of man fanciful, and 
also degrading to the Divine image in man Page 515 



Discourse delivered by Dr. Thornwell, upon being inaugxj- \/ 

RATED AS Professor of Theology Page 573 

Questions upon the Lectures in Theology., Page 5S3 


Analysis of Calvin's Institutes, with Notes and Comments. 

Page 597 

Questions on Calvin's Institutes Pat/e 642 


Sixteen Lectures are here given to the Public : Lecture I. Preliminary 
and setting forth the Nomenclature and Scope of Theology ; Lecture II. 
On the Being of God ; Lecture III. On Man's Natural Ignorance of God ; 
Lecture IV. On the Nature and Limits of ovir Knowledge of God ; Lecture 
V. On tlie Names of God ; Lecture VI. On the Nature and Attributes of 
God ; Lecture VII. On the Spirituality of God ; Lecture VIII. On the 
Incommunicable Attributes ; Lecture IX. On Creation ; Lecture X. On 
Man ; Lecture XL On Moral Government ; Lecture XII. On the Covenant 
of Works ; Lecture XIII. On Original Sin ; Lecture XIV. On the State 
and Nature of Sin ; Lecture XV. On the Pollution and Guilt of Sin ; 
Lecture XVI. On Degrees of Guilt. 

Tlie Author proposed to divide Theology into three parts : the first 
treating of God and of Moral Government in its essential principles ; the 
second of Moral Government as modified by the Covenant of Works ; and 
the third of the same, as modified by the Covenant of Grace. These Six- 
teen Lectures cover with tolerable completeness the ground of the first 
two parts. Death cut short the full execution of his plan. In the good 
providence of God, hoAvever, it has been so ordered that the writings he 
published during his lifetime may be classified so as to constitute, in 
connection with these Lectures, in some degree, a full and systematic pre- 
sentation of the whole of Theology, as he conceived of that Science. 

Dr. Thornwell prepared these Lectures for his classes in Theology, and 
he wrote them all twice over, but he did not prepare them for the press. 
This will account for the somewhat fragmentary appearance exhibited in 
the closing parts of one or two of them. Sundry loose papers in his hand- 
writing being found laid away in some of the Lectures, and marked as 
Addenda, they have been put into brackets and inserted, in a different 
type, in the margin of the pages where they seemed respectively to belong. 

At the opening of Lecture VIII. the Author speaks of his intention to 
take up the subject of the Trinity immediately after closing that discussion 
of the Attributes ; but this promise was evidently forgotten by him, and 
he proceeds at once, in the Ninth Lecture, to the subject of Creation. 
Instruction to his classes respecting the Trinity was of course given, Cal- 
vin's Institutes being his text-book. 


Lectures in Theology. 



IF the place of a science depends upon the dignity of its 
object, the worthiness of its ends, or the intensity and 
purity of the intellectual energies it evokes, the science to 
which I am now about to introduce you, must confessedly 
stand at the head of all human knowledge. It is conversant 
about the sublimest object, aims at the noblest ends, and 
calls into play the whole spiritual nature of man. Aris- 
totle, from the intrinsic excellence of the being whose reality 
and nature it is its business to investigate, pronounced it the 
first philosophy and the most exalted of sciences ; Locke 
places it " incomparably above all the rest," where it is cul- 
tivated according to its own liberal and free spirit, and not 
degraded " into a trade or faction ;" and both Aristotle and 
Locke regard it " as the comprehension of all other know- 
ledge," so that without it all other knowledge is fragment- 
ary, partial and incomplete. Let us briefly attend first, to 
the nomenclature, and then, to the scope of this science. 
I. Its common title is Theology ; a word nowhere found 
in the Sacred Scriptures, though the simple 

Nomenclature. p -..■., . -, „ 

terms oi which it is composed are of not 
unfrequent occurrence. As it was not the office of inspira- 
tion to present the truths of salvation in a scientific form, 



no more than it is the office of nature to jiresent the facts of 
the universe in a scientific form ; as God 

Vindication of the „l • /• ii.1' 

^, , never makes science tor us, but only gives 

term Theology. ' •' o 

US the data out of which we must construct 
it for ourselves ; it is not to be expected that a word shoukl 
be found in the Scriptures designating a science which it 
was not their function to realize. The progress of specula- 
tion gives rise to technical terms in religion as well as in 
philosophy ; and when they have been introduced to relieve 
an obvious need, they are not to be rejected because they 
are not expressly written in the Scriptures. Many other 
words, such as Original Sin, Trinity, Homoouslan, and Pe7'- 
son, as applied to the distinctions of the Godliead, which the 
necessities of controversy led the Church to adopt for the 
2)urpose of fixing scriptural truth and guarding against the 
insinuations of error, are not to be met with in so many 
syllables in the Sacred Volume. " They are not there," as 
Turrettin ^ remarks, " as to sounds and syllables, formally 
and in the abstract ; but they are there as to sense, or the 
thing signified, materially in the concrete." " AYhere 
names," says Calvin,^ " have not been invented rashly, we 
must be^vare lest we become chargeable with arrogance and 
rashness in rejecting them." And in reply to those who, 
like the ancient heretics, insist upon confining us to the 
ipsissima verba of Scripture, to the exclusion of all foreign 
terms, we may adopt the language of the same illustrious 
Reformer in another passage of the same illustrious book : ^ 
" If they call it a foreign term, because it cannot be pointed 
out in Scripture in so many syllables, they certainly impose 
an unjust law — a law which would condemn every interpre- 
tation of Scripture that is not composed of other words of 
Scripture." Equally judicious are the remarks of Owen, 
^\\\o, though persuaded that Theology was not precisely the 
term by which the Christian Doctrine should be designated, 
was yet content to waive his scruples and to merge his diffi- 

1 Loc. I., Quest. 1, ? 2. « i^gt. Lib. I., c. xiii., | 5. 

^ Lib. I., c. xiii., ? 3. 


culties into acquiescence in prevailing usage. " Many/' 
says he/ "pertinaciously oppose the use of the words 
theology and theologians. Inasmuch as these words have 
been imported from the heathen, and have no counterparts 
in the Sacred Scriptures, it is useless to debate about them 
with any great zeal. When a name is too pompous and 
imposing for the thing to which it is applied, its application 
is injurious ; and when its use is a question of keen and in- 
genious disputation, the uncertainty which attaches to the 
name is apt to be transferred to the thing. Moreover, as 
these words have been employed to designate an art and a 
class of men skilled in it, inconsistent with the simplicity 
of the Gospel, they seem, neither in their origin nor use, to 
be adapted to express the Christian Doctrine or its teachers. 
Still, as in every inquiry, the subject of it must have some 
name, let us, with proper precautions, remain content with 
that which common consent has introduced. Let us only 
be careful to expound with accuracy the thing which the 
name is designed to represent." 

Among the ancient Greeks, Theology was applied to any 

Cage of the term cbsscrtation, whcthcr in prose or poetry, of 

Theology among the whicli the gods wcrc the subjcct. It was 

ancient Greeks. • ' < n ~ mi • i • i ■ , i 

Aoyo:: Tie[)t oeuu. Iheir genealogies, births 
and works, their battles, amours and marriages, were all 
called Theology; and the writers who treated of these 
matters were all called Theologians. Pherecydes of Syros 
was the first who received the name. He was the teacher 
of Pythagoras, and wrote a book the title of which has been 
variously given, kTzzd/iu-j^oc, dsoxpama, deoyovca, dsoXoyia. 
He is said to have been the first person who treated of such 
subjects in prose. The poets and mythologists, such as 
Homer, Hesiod and Orpheus, were all, in the Greek sense 
of the term. Theologians. Aristotle was the first to use 
Theology in a scientific sense. He distributed speculative 
philosophy into three principal branches — Physics, Mathe- 
matics, and Theology ; among which he assigned the first 

1 Tlieologoum, Lib. I., c. 1, I 3. 


place to Tlieology, by which he intended to denote the 
science of pnre existence, or the science of being as being, 
abstracted from all consideration of its sensible accidents.^ 
Theology with him, therefore, was only another name for 
ontology or metaphysics. 

The Christian fathers used the term to desiji-nate the 
general doctrine concerning God, whether 

Patristic usage. ° 

essentially or j^ersonally considered. Any 
one who treated of God and the Holy Trinity was said to 
theologixe. They applied it siDecially to the doctrine of the 
Divine nature of Jesus Christ in contradistinction from 
economy, dcxovofiia, the doctrine of His human nature. 
Peter Abelard, in the twelfth century, was the first to 
employ the term in reference to the scientific 

Scholastic usage. j. .' /» , -, „ -,. . xt 

treatment of the truths of religion. He 
was followed by the schoolmen, and from them, with occa- 
sional protests, sometimes against tlie term itself, and some- 
times against the latitude of meaning allowed to it, it has 
come down to us. 

It is now used in a wider or in a narrower sense. In the 

wider sense, it embraces not only a particular 

Modern usage. Wide discipline, but all the brauches of know- 

sense. i ' 

ledge that are tributary to it. It includes 
whatever is necessary to fit the teacher of religion for his 
work — apologetics, hermeneutics, the history of the Church 
and of doctrines. Even pastoral care and the composition 
and delivery of sermons are considered, in the curriculum of 

study, as so many departments of Theology. 

Narrow sense. . ' . . . ^ "^ 

In its narrow sense, it is restricted to a par- 
ticular science, the science of Religion. 

Before proceeding to a more detailed account of its nature, 
it may be well to apprise you of some of the divisions and 
distinctions which have been accustomed to be made. 

The first is that oi Archetypal and Ectypal. Archetypal 
theoloffv has been defined the infinite 

Ardietypal and Ec- ^'' 

typai. knowledge which God possesses of Himself. 

^ Metaphys., vi. 1. 


But in this sense, it obviously cannot be the standard or 
measure of knowledge to us. It cannot be the pattern to 
which ours has to be conformed. Omniscience cannot be 
separated from the essence of God, and we should have to 
be infinite and self-existent ourselves, before we could know 
as God knows. The definition has, therefore, been re- 
stricted by others^ to the standard existing as an idea in 
the Divine mind of the knowledge which God has willed 
that we should attain. He has manifested Himself to intel- 
ligent creatures, and manifested Himself for the purpose of 
being known. The measure of knowledge which He thus 
chooses to communicate is before Him as the archetype or 
pattern in conformity Avith which ours must be regulated. 
When thus conformed to the Divine ideal, our knowledge 
becomes Ectypal — the express image or resemblance of that 
which God has proposed as a model. 

But even in this sense, it is evident that the idea in the 
divine mind can never be the immediate standard of truth 
to us. We cannot enter into tlie consciousness of God, and 
therefore cannot know His thoughts, as they lie in His infi- 
nite understanding, without some medium of external reve- 
lation. They must, in some way, be manifested or else re- 
main for ever a secret with Himself. That revelation or 
manifestation becomes, accordingly, our immediate stand- 
ard — that is, the archetype of which our knowledge must 
be the immediate ectype or expression. " No doubt," says^ 
Owen,^ " God has in His own mind an eternal idea or con- 
cept of that truth which He wills that we shall attain. 
And upon this all our theology depends ; not immediately, 
indeed, but upon that act of the Divine will by which it has 
pleased Him to reveal this knowledge to us. For no one 
has seen God at any time ; the only-begotten who is in the 
bosom of the Father, He hath revealed Him.^ The revela- 
tion, therefore, of the mind and will of God — ^that is, the 
Word — is that doctrine concerning which we treat, in con- 

1 De Moor, c. T., ? 7. See also Turrett., Loc. I., Quest. 2, | 7. 
* Theologoum, Lib. I., c. iii., § 2. ^ John i. 18. 


forinity with which all our concepts of God, of His worship, 
and of the obedience due to Him, must be framed." In other 
words, the true archetypal theology is not the idea, as a 
thought or concept in the mind of the Eternal, but that idea 
as revealed and expressed in the Sacred Scriptures. Hence 
archetypal theology resolves itself into what is called the 
theologic principle. 

Theology has again been divided, according to the condi- 
union, Vision, sta- ^^o^ ^^^ wliicli the possessors of it are con- 
'^'"°i- templated, into the Theology of Union, the 

Theology of Vision, and the Theology of the Stadium. 

The Theology of Union is the knowledge of God and of 
His will which pertains to the human nature of the Lord 
Jesus Christ by virtue of its personal union with the eternal 
Word. This knowledge, though finite, is far more perfect 
in degree than that which any of the saints can acquire. 
He was anointed with the Spirit above measure. Hence, 
as implying the unction of the Spirit, it has also been called 
the Theology of Unction. The unction of the Spirit, how- 
ever, is common with Christ to all believers, and though He 
possesses it in a larger measure, it is yet not a term which 
designates what exclusively belongs to Him. The Theology 
of Union is, therefore, the more distinctive phrase.^ 

The Theology of Vision, called also the Theology of the 
Country, from heaven the dwelling-place of the saints, and 
the region in which this theology is enjoyed, is, first, the 
knowledge which angels possess who stand in the presence 
of God ; and next, the knowledge which the spirits of just 
men made perfect possess when translated to their heav- 
enly home.^ 

The Theology of the Stadium is that which pertains to men 
while strangers and pilgrims in this mundane state. They 
are regarded as running a race ; the goal and the ]irize are 
still before them. It is also called the Theology of Travel- 
lers, Viatorum, in contrast with the theology of the country, 
because its possessors are contemplated as engaged in a jour- 
1 De Moor, c. L, § 8. ^ De Moor, c. i., § 9. 


ney to the eternal world. They seek a city which hath 
foundations. From the circumstance, too, that it is depend- 
ent upon study as the ordinary means of acquiring and aug- 
menting it, it has received the name of the Theology of 
Study} This, of course, is the only theology with which 
we have to do, and when the term is used without a quali- 
fying epithet, it is this alone which is meant. " The term," 
says Turi'ettin, " is equivocally and abusively employed 
when it is applied to the false theology of Gentiles and 
heretics ; less properly when predicated of the original and 
infinite wisdom by which we conceive God as knowing 
Himself in an ineffable and most perfect manner (for the 
word theology is not competent to exjjress the dignity of 
this knowledge), or when applied to the theology of Christ 
[that of union], or the theology of angels ; it is properly em- 
ployed when applied to the theology of men as travellers."^ 
Theology has further been distinguished as Natural and 
Revealed; these epithets indicating the 

Natural and Revealed. i • i i 

sources irom which the knowledo-e is de- 
rived. In this sense, natural theology is that knowledge 
of God and of human duty which is acquired from the 
light of nature, or from the principles of human reason, 
unassisted by a supernatural revelation. Revealed theol- 
ogy, on the other hand, is that which rests on Divine reve- 
lation. This distinction is real, but it is useless. There 
are truths which reason is competent to discover, as there 
are other truths which can only be known by a special com- 
munication from God. But tlie religion of man has never 
been conditioned exclusively by natural truth. In his un- 
fallen condition he was placed under a dispensation which 
involved a supernatural revelation. He has never been 
left to the sole guidance of his reason, and therefore a mere 
natural theology, in the sense indicated, has never been the 
sufficient explanation of his state. 

Natural Theology has been otherwise defined in con- 
tradistinction from Supernatural, as the science of Natural 
1 De Moor, c. i., I 10. 2 Lo^. I., Ques. 1, I 9. 


Religion, or the knowledge of that religion which springs 
from the relations, whether essential or 
natural™^ ''"'^ ^^^^^' instituted, wliicli subsist between God and 
the rational creature. It was the theol- 
ogy of Adam before the fall— the theology of the covenant 
of M'orks ; and though remnants of it still linger in the 
human mind, the perfect knowledge of it can only be ob- 
tained from the Christian Scrij^tures. Supernatural theol- 
ogy is the science of salvation — the doctrines of man's 
religion considered as a sinner and as redeemed by the 
mediation of Christ. The true contrast, therefore, is not 
that of natural and revealed, but that of natural and super- 
natural — ^the natural indicating the religion of man in one 
aspect ; the supernatural, his religion in another. Both are 
equally revealed. The only difference is, that we could 
know absolutely nothing of the supernatural without reve- 
lation, while we can know something of the natural by the 
unassisted light of reason. 

The distinction of theology into True and False is sim- 
ply, as Turrettin remarks, an abusive ap- 

Trne and False. i- x- J? i X^ 1 ^^ J 

plication 01 terms, jbrror can be called 
science only by catachresis. True Theology is the only 
theology, and the doctrines of Pagans, Mohammedans and 
Heretics receive the appellation in consequence of their rela- 
tion to. the same general subjects. 

Theology has been divided, according to its matter, into 

TJieoretioal and Practical, or Dogmatic and 

Theoretical and -,^71 • i i • 

Practical; Dogmatic Moral — the tcrius 111 cach coutrast being 
and Moral. vlQq^ syiionymoiisly. The theoretical or 

dogmatic treats of the doctrines of religion ; the practical 
or moral, of the graces and duties. 

According to the manner of treatment, theology has again 

Thetic and Antithe- ^ccn divided iuto Thctic aud Antithetic; or 

tic; or Didactic and Didactic aud Polcmic ; or Dogmatic and 

Polemic ; or Dogmatic , r^ • • i 7-17 1 • rm 

aud Polemic, or criti- Fokmic, OY Critical, or ±jlenctic. Ine 

cal.orElcnctic. ^^^^ ^^^^ J^^ ^^^.^^ ^f ^.J^ggg COUtrastS, tlictic, 

didactic, dogmatic, implies that the doctrines are discussed 


without reference to the controversies to which they have 
given rise. The design is simply to state, to prove and to 
ilhistrate the truth. The second term, antithetic, j^olemic, 
critical, elenetic, implies that the errors of heretics are dis- 
tinctly refuted. The mode of treatment is controversial. 
The two methods are often combined, and the theology is 
then called didactico-polemical, or dogmatico-polemical, or 
elenetic. It may be well to remark that the phrase dog- 
matic theology does not always bear the sense assigned to it 
above. The word oojua may signify either an opinion con- 
cerning a doctrine or the doctrine itself. In the former 
sense, dogmatic theology is the history of opinions concern- 
ing the doctrines of religion. In the latter sense, it is the 
scientific statement of the doctrines themselves. In the 
former sense, it is principally used in the Church of Rome, 
and was so employed by Protestant writers until the com- 
mencement of the eighteenth century.^ 

Theology may be considered as a habit of knowledge 
resident in the mind, or as a body of truth 

Sulijective and Ob- , j.'ll l Txi^f 

. ^jj^.p systematically arranged. in tiie lormer 

aspect it is called Habitual, Subjective, 

Concrete and Utens ; in the latter it is Objective, Abstract, 

Systematic and Docens. 

Theology has again been distinguished with reference to 
the order and arrangement of its contents. 

Scholastic and Posi- l j.i i j. i j? t • ' i 

ti^g and the general style ot discussion, into 

Scholastic and Positive. "The positive," 
says Marck,^ " is not rigidly restricted to logical rules. The 
scholastic proceeds in a method more truly disciplinary, a 
most useful and ancient institution." " Positive and scho- 
lastic are not to l)e distinguished from each other," says De 
Moor,^ " as if the one were conversant about the exposition 
of Scripture, and the other a treatise of doctrines and com- 
monplaces. For doctrines are obviously to be treated in 
the exposition of Scripture, and commonplaces and doc- 
trines must depend upon the genuine sense and authority 
^ Knapp, vol. i., p. 28, 29. ^ Medull. I., xxv. ^ Comment., c. i., xxv. 
Vol. I.— 3 


of Scripture. The true distinction is that Positive Theology 
is not strictly confined to logical rules ; it gives itself more 
oratorical freedom of style. Scholastic Theology proceeds 
in a method more disciplinary [more strictly adapted to 
teaching] and reduces Divine truths to certain heads accord- 
ing to the rules of logic for the use of Christian schools." 

It must be remembered that Marck and De Moor were 
both advocates of the Scholastic Theology, and have conse- 
quently failed to j3oint out its most objectionable feature. 
Its great defect was not its logical method, nor its contempt 
of the embellishments of rhetoric, but the manner in which 
it used its method. It gave no scope to the play of Chris- 
tian feeling ; it never turned aside to reverence, to worship 
or adore. It exhibited truth, nakedly and baldly, in its ob- 
jective reality, without any reference to the subjective con- 
ditions which, under the influence of the Spirit, that truth 
was calculated to produce. It was a dry digest of theses 
and propositions — perfect in form, but as cold and lifeless as 
a skeleton. What it aimed at was mere knowledge, and its 
arrangements were designed to aid intelligence and memory. 
A science of religion it could not be called. 

The most perfect examples of this method — those who, in 
the Reformed Church, have been called, by way of emi- 
-mence, Scholastics — are the divines of the Dutch school. It 
reached its culmination in Gisbert Voetius.^ 

There arose in the same school in the time of Voetius 

another class of divines who, from their method of treating 

the truths of religion, were distinguished as Federalists.^ 

The celebrated Cocceius was the founder 

Federalists. /. i . ^ . i • t • i 

01 this class. Among his disciples are 
ra*iked Burmann, Braun and Witsius. The regulative 
principle of their method was the doctrine of the Cove- 
nants. They consequently treated religion according to the 
historical develoj)raent of the covenants, and infused into 
their works a decidedly subjective, experimental s])irit. 
The true method of Theology is, no doubt, a combination 

1 Ebrards' Cliristl. Dogmat. Abs., ii., ^ 39. ^ Id., ^ 40. 


of the Scholastic and Positive. Truth must be exhibited 
warm and glowing from the fullness of the Christian heart. 
It must be not nakedly truth, but truth according to god- 
liness. The writer must know it, because he has been 
taught by the Spirit and feels its power. This living con- 
sciousness of its preciousness and sweetness and glory is 
absolutely essential to save a system from the imputation of 
a frozen formalism. There must be method, but method 
without life is a skeleton. Infuse life, and you have a noble 

It may be well to guard you against confounding the 
Reformed Scholastics with those of the 

Romish Scholasticism. /« t-> mi 

Church of Rome. They had this in com- 
mon, that they were slaves to a logical method. But they 
differed widely in the source from wdiich they derived their 
materials, and, of course, in the nature of the materials 
themselves. The Reformed Scholastics acknowledged Scrip- 
ture as the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Their 
problem was to digest, under fit and concatenated heads, the 
doctrines and nothing but the doctrines of Scri^iture, with 
the inferences that lawfully follow from them. The Scho- 
lastic Theology of Rome, on the other hand, received as 
authoritative, in addition to Scripture, the opinions of the 
Fathers, the Decrees of Councils, the Bulls of Popes, and 
even the philosophy of Aristotle. It is commonly divided 
into three periods: 1. The period of its rise. It began in 
the twelfth century with Peter Lombard's Four Books of 
Sentences, in which he compendiously arranges the Theologv 
of his time under Distinctions and Sentences, taken for the 
most part from Hilary, Ambrose and Augustin. The First 
book treats of God, His Unity and Trinity; the Second 
treats of Creation, particularly the creation of angels and 
men, of Free Will, Divine Grace, and of Sin, both native 
and actual ; the Third treats of the Incarnation, of Redemp- 
tion, of Faith, Hope, Charity, and of the Ten Command- 
ments ; the Fourth treats of the Sacraments and of Escha- 
tology. 2. The second period is signalized by the writings 


of Albertus Magnus, wlio introduced the philosophy of 
Aristotle as a principle or source of authoritative truth in 
questions of Tlieology. He flourished in the thirteenth 
century, and such was his industry that his published works 
fill twent}^-one folio volumes. To the same period belongs 
Thomas Aquinas, the celebrated pupil of Albert, who, in his 
great work, the Summa Theologice, brought the Scholastic 
Theology to perfection. 3. The third period begins in the 
fourteenth century, and may be characterized as the period 
of frivolous discussions. This was the age of Durandus, the 
Doctor Resolutissimus, and of the still more celebrated Duns 
Scotus, the Doctor Subtilissimus. 

II. Having adverted to these preliminary distinctions in 
order that you may be at no loss to under- 

Scope of the Scieuce. • i i 

stand them whenever you meet with them 
in your reading, I now proceed — 1, to define the science ac- 
cording to my own conception of its nature ; 2, to develoj) 
the plan upon which these Lectures shall be prosecuted ; and 
3, to indicate the source from which our knowledge must be 
authoritatively derived. 

1. I accept the definition, now generally given, that 

Theology is the science of religion ; that is. 

Definition of Theology. ,.■,'" (, -, ...■,,■• 

it IS the system ot doctrine m its logical 
connection and dependence, which, when spiritually dis- 
cerned, produces true piety. There is a twofold cognition 
of Divine truth — one natural, resulting from the ordinary 
exercise of our faculties of knowledge, and the other super- 
natural or spiritual, resulting from the gracious illumination 
of the Holy Ghost. The habit which corresponds to the 
first, like every other habit of science, is mere speculative 
knowledge. The habit which corresponds to the other i.s 
true religion. The doctrine, to use the expressive analogy 
of St. Paul,^ is the mould, and religion the image that it 
leaves upon the heart, which the Spirit has softened to re- 
ceive the impression. There is, first, the truth, and that is 
theology ; there is next the cordial and spiritual apprehen- 
1 Eom. vi. 17. 


sion of it, and that is the obedience of faith, which is synon- 
ymous with true religion. In other words, the truth object- 
ively considered is Theology ; subjectively received, under 
Divine illumination, it is religion. In relation to religion, 
therefore, Theology is a science only in the objective sense. 
It denotes the system of doctrine, but not the mode of ap- 
})rehension. The cognition which produces the subjective 
habit to which Theology corresponds is not knowledge, but 
faith ; and depends, not upon speculation, but upon the Word 
and the Spirit of God. It knows, not for the purpose of 
knowing, but for the purpose of loving. 

Some have been unwilling to concede to Theology the 
title of Science, partly on the ground above 

Objections to calling -Tiijiiii ii-j t j -i 

it a Science. indicated, that the habit corresponding to it 

is not natural, but supernatural ; and partly 
on the ground that it does not spring from principles 
of reason, nor proceed by logical deductions. It does not, 
in other words, find a place under the Aristotelic definition 
of science. These objections are easily discharged. The 
first is obviated at once by the simple consideration that 
science is used only in an objective sense. And surely no 
one will deny that revealed truths constitute a logical and 
coherent system. They are mutually dependent and con- 
nected, and capable of being digested under concatenated 
heads. They form a true theory of religion. In the next 
place, it is not to be overlooked that there is a natural 
knowledge of theology which is pure science ; which rests in 
speculation ; which knows, according to the familiar adage, 
only that it may know. This natural knowledge is the in- 
strument of spiritual cognition. It is the seed which the 
Holy Spirit quickens into vital godliness. We must first 
know as men before we can know as renewed men. Theol- 
ogy, as thus ending in speculation or in theory, can be 
taught, but religion must be implanted. 

As to the other objection, it may be replied that science 
should not be arbitrarily restricted to systems excogitated 
by the wit of man. As one science may begin from prin- 


ciples demonstrated in another, so there is no reason why 
that shoukl not be denominated a science which is logically 
constructed from the data of faith. We may as readily 
accept from revelation as from the intuitions of reason our 
first principles. In each case we begin with the indemon- 
strable and the given.^ 

AVith these explanations and distinctions, it is easy to 
solve the difficulty which has been raised as to the question 
whether theology is a speculative or practical science — whe- 
ther its end, in other words, is knowing or doing. Emi- 
nent divines have pronounced it to be practical, on the 
ground that truth is in order to godliness, or that the end of 
the doctrine is the sanctification of the heart. But it must 
be recollected that it is not as science that the truth sancti- 
fies. It is not the doctrine which transforms by its own 
inherent and native energies, but the Spirit by a power 
beyond the truth, and of which the truth is only the instru- 
ment. If the question be, however, whe- 

Nature of Religion. -,,.-, ■, ■, > 

ther religion, the supernatural product of 
the truth, is speculative or practical, the answer is, that it is 
exclusively neither. It is not cognition alone, neither is it 
action alone, nor feeling alone. It pertains exclusively 
neither to intelligence, emotions nor will, but it is a pecu- 
liar state, a condition of life in which all are blended in in- 
dissoluble unity. It is at once love, obedience and know- 
ledge. Spiritual cognition is not bare knowledge, but it is a 
state of the soul which involves all the energies of our be- 
ing. It knows by loving and loves by knowing. It dis- 
cerns and feels by the same operation. It is a form of 
spiritual life which includes and fuses the intellectual, the 
active and the emotional elements of our nature. It is the 
health of the wdiole soul, the consummation and perfection of 
our being ; or, as Solomon expresses it,^ " the whole of man." 
Here our faculties all centre and rest with the fullness and 
satisfaction of unimpeded exercise. To know is not relig- 

1 Thos. Aquin., Sum. Pars Prima, Quest. 1, Art. 2. 

2 Eccles. xii. 13. 


ion, to feel is not religion, to do is not religion ; bnt to know 
by a light which at once warms and enlightens, which makes 
us, at the same time and in the same energy, know and feel 
and do — that is eternal life — the life of God in the soul of 
man. Logically, we can discriminate the elements which 
enter into this unity, but really, they can never be divided or 
separated in the exercises of true religion. We can distin- 
guish, but we cannot disjoin. 

As religion involves in unity, cognition, emotion and will, 
there must be some object in which the 
qualities adapted to these functions and 
energies are indissolubly united. There must be some object 
which at once presents truth to the understanding, beauty 
and grandeur to the emotions, and rectitude to the will. 
There must be some object in which they become one, as 
religion is a subjective unity in which they are inseparably 
blended. There must be an outward corresponding to the 
inward. That object is God.' He is at once the true, the 
beautiful, the good. As the true. He addresses Himself to 
the intelligence, as the beautiful to the emotions, as the good 
to the will. He must be known, and known by spiritual cog- 
nition, or there is no religion. " This is life eternal," said 
the Divine Teacher,^ " that they might know Thee, the only 
true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." He, in 
what we are able to know of His character, perfections and 
works, is the object of all religion. His will, in its purity 
and holiness, is the measure of all duty, and His glory the 
standard of all beauty. He is absolutely one ; and truth, 
beauty and holiness are one in Him, and therefore one in 
the spiritual energies which they evoke in us. It is of the 
highest importance to understand that religion is not wholly 
subjective and one-sided. It is not a vague sense of depend- 
ence, nor a blind craving, nor an indefinite feeling of emp- 
tiness and want. It consists of determinate states of con- 
sciousness, which can be logically discriminated as those of 
intelligence, emotion and will ; and these states are condi- 
^ Aquin., Sum. Pars Prima, Quest. 1, Art. 7. ^ John xvii. 3. 


tioiied by conscious relations to an outward object. There 
can be no religion without truth ; there can be no religion 
without love; there can be no religion without the spirit 
of obedience. There must, therefore, be something known ; 
something perceived as beautiful ; something acknowledged 
as supreme. There must be a determinate object or quality 
for each department of our nature. If religion did not de- 
mand determinate cognitions, emotions and volitions, dis- 
tinct exercises of the spiritual nature conditioned by an 
object suited to elicit them, a man might be justly called 
religious whatever he believed, however in other respects he 
felt, or however he acted, if inwardly he cherished the sen- 
timent of vague dependence and want into which the advo- 
cates of exclusive subjectivism resolve the essence of j)iety. 
It would signify nothing wdiether he believed in one God 
or a thousand, whether he worshipped stocks or stones, or 
the figments of his own mind; as long as he possessed 
a certain indescribable subjective state, he could be called 
truly religious. 

In our notion of religion, therefore, there are two errors 
which we must seek to avoid. The first is, that it is a com- 
bination of separable habits ; that the knowledge, love and 
obedience involved in it are successive states, which may be 
disjoined from each other, but which in their coexistence 
constitute piety. This is a mistake. Spiritual cognition 
includes the perception of the beautiful and the good. The 
same energy wdiich knows God unto salvation knows Him 
in the unity of His being as the perfection of truth, beauty 
and holiness. The perception of His glory is the effulgence 
of this unity. 

The second error is, that religion can be understood apart 
from its object. It must be distinctly recognized as condi- 
tioned and determined by the object. It is the nature and 
relations of the object which make it what it is. The know- 
ledge of God, therefore, as a manifested object, is the indis- 
pensable condition of all true religion. The subjective 
states, as conditioned by this object, differ from analogous 


subjective states, as conditioned by other objects, in the cir- 
cumstance that in the one case they are or ought to be in- 
dulged without measure ; in the other, under limitations 
and restrictions. An infinite being demands the homage of 
the whole soul ; a finite being, a homage graduated accord- 
ing to the degree of its excellence. We must love a creature, 
and trust a creature, with a moderated confidence and love. 
We must love God and trust God with the whole soul, 
strength, and heart. Religion, in other words, contemplates 
its object as the infinite and the absolutely perfect. It is 
this quality of the object which determines the peculiar 
character of our religious energies. 

2. Man being the subject and God the object of religion, 
it is evident that we can never hope to un- 

The Plan of these ^lerstaud itS doctriuCS without kuowiug 
Lectures. o 

something of both terms of this relation. 
Calvin was right in resolving true wisdom into the know- 
ledge of God and of ourselves. It' is the relations betwixt 
us on which religion hinges. God must be given, man 
given, and the relations between them given, in order to 
construct a solid science of Theology. It is further evident 
that these relations are either such as spring from the very 
nature of the beings, giving rise to duties and obligations, 
on man's part, that are essential and unalterable ; or such 
as have been instituted by the positive will of the Creator. 
Given God as Creator and Moral Ruler, and there necessa- 
rily emerges a moral government, or a government adminis- 
tered on the principle of distributive justice. Rectitude to 
a moral creature becomes the natural and unchanging law 
of its being. God, however, in His goodness, may transcend, 
though He can never contradict, the principle of justice. 
He may do more, though He can never do less, than simple 
equity demands. If He should choose to institute a dispen- 
sation under which a greater good than we had any right 
or reason to expect is held out to us, the nature of this dis- 
pensation would have to be considered in treating of the 
doctrines of religion ; and if more than one such disjiensation 


^ were established, each would have to be considered, and con- 
sidered in its historical development, in determining the re- 
lations which condition religion. Religion never contem- 
plates its object absolutely, but in relation to us ; and insti- 
tuted relations are as real, and give rise to as real duties, as 

The Scriptures assure us that two such dispensations ha\'e 
been instituted, aiming at the same general end, but contem- 
plating man in different states or conditions, and therefore 
accomplishing the result by different means. One, called 
the Covenant of Works, contemplates man as a moral being, 
able to obey and fulfil the will of the Creator ; the other, 
called the Covenant of Grace, contemplates man as a fallen 
being, a sinner, incapable of propitiating the favour of God. 
Both contemplate the exaltation of man to a higher condition 
of being, to the adoption of sons into God's family. 

A complete Treatise of Theology, according to these state- 
Answering to a ments, must fall into three parts: (1.) The 
Thieefoui Division of dcvclopment of tliosc csscutial rclations 


betwixt God and man out of which arises 
a moral government, together with an exposition of the fun- 
damental principles of such a government. This part, 
embracing the being and character of God, the original state 
of man, and his natural duties and obligations, might be 
called Preliminary, or Introductory. (2.) The development 
of the modification of moral government in its principle and 
application, as realized in the Covenant of Works. This 
part might be called Natural Religion, as it treats of the 
form in Avhich man became related to God immediately 
upon his creation. (3.) The development of the Covenant 
of Grace or the scheme of Redemption. This part may be 
called Supernatural Religion, or the Religion of Grace, and 
embraces all that is peculiar to Christianity. To state the 
same thing in another form : the first part treats of God and 
of moral government in its essential principles ; the second 
part treats of moral government as modified by the Covenant 
of Works ; the third part treats of moral government as 


modified by the Covenant of Grace. The point of unity 
between the two covenants is their concurrence in a common 
end ; the point of divergence, the different states in which 
man is contemplated. Both are answers to the question, 
How shall man be adopted into the family of God ? But 
the Covenant of Works answers it with reference to man as 
a moral creature, in a state of integrity ; the Covenant of 
Grace answers it with reference to man as a sinner, under 
the condemnation of the law. These three divisions seem 
to me to exhaust the whole subject of Theology. 

3. We come now to the question, Whence are we to de- 
rive the truths of Theology, and how are 
ledgTrTheZgy"" ^c to kuow that they are truths? that is, 
What are their sources, and what is their 
measure ? It is the question concerning what is called the 
Principle of Theology. Three answers have been given — 
that of the Romanist, that of the Rationalist, and that of the 
orthodox Protestant. 

The principle of the Romanist is the authority of the 
Church. Nothing, in the sphere of religion, 
mruis"^'*^ °^ ^'"^ ^" ^^ ^^ ^® accepted as true or received as an 
article of faith, which has not been proposed 
and defined by the Church. She still retains the Apostolic 
commission, and is the onlv accredited orran of God's 
Spirit for the instruction of mankind in all that pertains to 
life and godliness. Her voice is heard, first, in the Scrip- 
tures, which are not only received upon her testimony, but 
are dependent upon her authority for their right to regulate 
the faith and practice of mankind. They are absolutely 
nothing except as she endorses them and interprets them. 
She speaks, in the next place, through the tradition of the 
Fathers ; and, finally, through the writings of Doctors, the 
decrees of Councils, and the bulls of Popes. The Church, 
in this view, is the Supreme Oracle of God. She is the final 
depository and infallible teacher of all the truth that pertains 
to the salvation of a sinner. She occupies precisely the place 
which the apostles occupied in the first age of Christianity. 


It is needless to say that the Theology which thus emerges 
is a stiff and lifeless body. Its members are mechanically 
joined without the organic unity of life. It is a digest of 
aphorisms and dicta, dry as a skeleton and cold as an iceberg. 
The whole theory misconceives the office and functions of 
the Church. She is the product and not the principle of 
truth, and her own claims must be vindicated on the same 
grounds on Avhich every other article of faith ultimately 
rests. The thcologic principle must lie back of her, or she 
could never be recognized as the institute of God. The 
truth has made her, she has not made the truth. She is a 
teacher, it is true, but she teaches only as she has been 
taught ; and the principle of Theology must be sought in 
the principle upon which she proposes the doctrines that she 
teaches. While, however, the Church is not to be accepted 
as an arbiter of faith, Ave must avoid the opposite extreme 
of treating her instructions with levity and indifference, as 
if she were entitled to no more respect than a private 
teacher. Her testimony is a venerable presumption in 
favour of the Divine authority of all that she proposes. 
As an organic body, having an historical existence grounded 
in great truths, having an historic life implicated in these 
truths — as she has grown out of them and sprung from 
them — it is obvious that they must have pervaded the con- 
sciousness of her children, and that her testimony to them 
is entitled to a respect analogous to that Avhich attaches to 
states and empires concerning their origin, their constitu- 
tion and their government. The Church is not an accidental 
society that owes its existence to the voluntary compact of 
its members. It is not a mere political or moral organiza- 
tion. It is a society Avhich has grown out of the facts of 
redemption. It is the body of Christ ; and as appointed to 
teach, the presumption is that it teaches in His name, and 
by His authority, the very truths which lie at the basis of 
its own existence. Its own authority is nothing ; it claims 
to be only a witness, and its testimony is entitled to pro- 
found respect until it has been sJKnvn that it is not sup- 


ported by the Word. It is important that we learn to 
venerate the Church. The unhappy division into sects, and 
the perverse abuse of the principle of private judgment, have 
had a tendency to degrade the Church, in the eyes of many 
Protestants, to the level of a mere voluntary society. They 
look upon it as an association for religious purposes, analo- 
gous to societies for the promotion of temperance or any 
other moral end. They overlook its Divine constitution, its 
historic connection with the facts of redemption, and its 
organic unity as the supernatural product of the Holy 
Spirit. They forget that, in its origin and idea, it is the 
embodiment of the Gospel. INIelancthon ^ has, in a few preg- 
nant W'Ords, happily defined its sphere and jurisdiction : 
" As the gospel commands us to hear the Church, so I say 
that the assembly in which is the Word of God, and which 
is called the Church, must be heard, even as we are also 
commanded to hear our pastors. Let us therefore hear the 
Church teaching and admonishing, but let us not regulate 
our faith by the authority of the Church. The Church has 
no right to make articles of faith; she can only teach and 
admonish." So also in the Loci Communes, under the 
head De Ecclesia : " The Church is, indeed, to be heard as 
a teacher, but faith and invocation depend upon the Word 
of God, not on human authority. Let us not despise the 
Church as teaching, but let us know that the only judge or 
arbiter of truth is the Word itself." ^ This testimonial and 
teaching function of the Church is a safeguard against rash 
innovations, presumptuous speculations and fantastic crudi- 
ties, and in this light the Reformers steadily maintained it. 
It is a check upon bold and audacious spirits, who, if they 
did not hear the Church, might be tempted to indulge in 
the most absurd and extravagant excesses of doctrine.' 
The principle of the Rationalist is that human reason is 
Principle of the Ka- the sourcc aud mcasurc of all religious 
*'°"'^"^'^- as of all natural truth. Religion is con- 

* De Ecclesia et Auctoritate Verbi Dei. Opera Omnia, Pars Secunda, p. 124. 

* Opera Omnia, Pars Prima, p. 129. ^ Loci Com., Ibid. 


sidered simply as a department of philosophy, and noth- 
ing is to be accepted in it, any more than in any other 
sphere of philosophical inquiry, which does not authenti- 
cate itself to intelligence as the explicit evolution of what 
is implicitly contained in the human consciousness. Man, 
according to this theory, is the measure of the universe. 
The difference betwixt the Rationalist and the Romanist 
reminds one of the difference noted by Bacon betwixt the 
empirical and rationalist philosojDhers. " The empirical 
philosophers," says he, " are like pismires ; they only lay up 
and use their store. The rationalists are like the spiders ; 
they spin all out of their own bowels. But give me," he 
adds — and this, as we shall afterward see, illustrates the 
Protestant principle — " give me a philosopher who, like 
the bee, hath a middle faculty, gathering from abroad, but 
digesting that which is gathered by his own virtue."^ 

The defectiveness of this principle is seen, first, in the 
fact that it precludes the supposition of any supernatural 
revelation. It construes the human mind into an absolute 
standard of the possibility of truth. It authoritatively 
pronounces that there can be no intelligible reality beyond 
the domain of human consciousness. Theology, according 
to this view, can embrace nothing but what we liave called 
the introductory or preliminary portion of it. This is the 
only field in which mere reflection and analysis can find 
materials for working on — the only field in which the data 
of science can be extracted from ourselves. If there are 
dispensations superinduced by the voluntary goodness of 
God, which are solely the offspring of will, and not the 
evolutions of eternal principles of rectitude, they can, of 
course, only be known by express and positive revelation. 
Rationalism undertakes to say that no such dispensations 
can exist — that there can be no such transactions betwixt 
God and the creature as those implied in the Covenants of 
Works and of Grace. The only jjrinciple upon which such 
a doctrine can be maintained is the impersonality of God, 

^ Apophthegms. 


and the consequent reduction of all the forces in the uni- 
verse to a law of blind, immanent necessity. Kationalism, 
in other words, if maintained as a logical necessity, subverts 
the first principles of Theism. 

In the next place, even in the sphere to which it restricts 
religious truth, it leaves the theologic development in a very 
precarious and unsatisfactory state. If religion is not a habit 
of science, but a new and Divine life — if it is not a mode 
of speculation, but a new mode of being — the analysis of 
our spiritual phenomena, considered as so many manifesta- 
tions in consciousness, cannot be expected to give us the key 
to that Divine life, that work of the Spirit, which underlies 
all these appearances. Indeed, we should have, consist- 
ently with Rationalism, to deny the facts of any such life. 
The work of the Spirit is as completely subverted as the 
gracious dispensations of the Father. But should we ad- 
mit that there is nothing in Christian experience transcend- 
ing our natural consciousness, still the difficulty of repro- 
ducing its phenomena accurately in reflection, and generaliz- 
ing the laws upon which they are dej^endent (a difficulty 
common to all moral and intellectual speculations), is greatly 
enhanced by the mixture of good and evil, the confusion 
of holy impulses and remaining depravity, the oscillations 
of our hopes and fears, which would render it next to im- 
possible to separate the precious from the vile, and to exhibit 
in scientific form the real principles which constitute piety. 
Hence, unless we are prepared to restrict the possibility of 
religious truth to the low sphere of mere natural relations ; 
unless we are prepared to limit the condescension and good- 
ness of God, and to deny to Him any exercise of free-will 
in His dealings w^ith His creatures ; unless we are prepared 
to change the very nature of religion, and to make it simply 
a development in the sphere of morality and law, — we are 
compelled to renounce the principle of the Rationalist as an 
inadequate source of theologic truth. There are more things 
in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in a narrow philos- 
ophy. Given dispensations above nature as conditioning 


religion, and a revelation express and positive must inter- 
vene. Instituted by the voluntary goodness of God, they 
can only be known by a communication from Him. Pro- 
ducts of free-"\vill, and not the result of thejjature of things, 
they can be known only as they are reveal^. Here reason, 
however it may authenticate, can discover nothing by its 
own light. The relations being given, it can see the duties 
and obligations thence arising ; but the facts which consti- 
tute the relations, being deductions from no necessary prin- 
ciples, have to be accepted as matters of faith. To the extent, 
then, that religion involves anything more than the funda- 
mental and essential elements of moral government, it in- 
volves the necessity of Divine Revelation. God alone is 
competent to testify to His own free acts and determinations. 
Hence, we are driven to the Protestant doctrine, that the 

true principle, the only infallible source 
Principle. "^ ^^ ^" ^"^^ mcasure of religious truth, is the Word 

of God — such a revelation being neces- 
sary to a full and perfect development of the laws which 
determine all our spiritual exercises, and absolutely indis- 
pensable to furnish the objects out of which most of them 
spring. AVhen we speak of Revelation as the final and 
ultimate authority in theology, we mean the Sacred Scrip- 
tures. JSTothing else can present the credentials without 
which the claim to inspiration must be dismissed as uncer- 
tified. Tradition can hardly preserve the simplest narrative 
from exaggeration or perversion for a single month, and to 
suppose that it has transmitted, unimpaired, Christian doc- 
trines for eighteen centuries is to suppose a miracle which 
we have no right to expect. Writings are the only perma- 
nent records of truth, and God has illustrated His infinite 
goodness in giving us a perfect and infallible rule of relig- 
ious truth in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, 
which are His Word. The Bible, therefore, is the Religion 
of Protestants — the supreme standard of faith and duty. 
The authority of the Bible depends upon the question of its 
inspiration, and the final and conclusive proof of that elicits 

Lect. L] preliminary observations. 49 

a princii^le in Protestantism which exempts its theology 
from the dead, traditional formalism of the theology of 
Home. That principle is, that the truths of the Bible 
authenticate themselves as Divine by their own light. 
Faith is an intuition awakened by the Holy Ghost, and the 
truth is neither known nor believed until it is consciously 
realized by the illuminated mind as the truth of God. In- 
tuition does not generate, but it perceives the truth. Rea- 
son, under the guidance of the Spirit, appropriates and 
digests it. The knowledge is immediate and infallible. 
The Bible becomes no longer a letter, but a spirit, and 
religion is not a tradition, but a life. Hence, Protestantism 
has all the warmth and vigour and spirituality of Ration- 
alism, without its dangers of confounding fancies with facts, 
dreams with inspiration. The Word supplies an external 
test, Avhich protects from imposture and deceit. The Spirit 
educates and unfolds a Divine life under the regulative 
guidance of the Word. The Bible and the Spirit are there- 
fore equally essential to a Protestant theology. Theolo- 
gia (says Thomas Aquinas) a Deo docetur, Deum docet, et ad 
Deum dudt. It springs from God as the source, treats of 
God as its subject, and tends to God as its end. 

The respective spheres of Reason and Revelation, accord- 
ing to the foregoing views, are very dis- 

Reason and Revela- .'.i ii tji i , ■/> 

tion, tmctly marked. In the department of 

necessary moral truth — that is, of essen- 
tial rectitude — reason is a source of knowledo-e ; but as it is 
darkened and obscured by sin, its princij)les and deductions 
are not infallible. Revelation presents these data, as the 
reason would have presented them, in its normal state, free 
from uncertainty and error. When so presented, even the 
fallen reason accepts them, perceives their autopistic charac- 
ter, and rectifies its own aberrations and mistakes. Here 
revelation brings out into the clear light of reflection what 
before was involved in spontaneous consciousness, but not 
distinctly eliminated, or, if eliminated, mixed witli false- 
hood. The primitive intuitions of reason are always cer- 
VoL. I.— 4 


tain, but it is one tiling to feel their power and quite an- 
other to reduce them to formal and precise propositions. 
No revelation can contradict them, but it may elicit them 
as distinct and manifest phenomena of consciousness. 

In the next place, in reference to supernatural dispensa- 
tions, reason, though wholly incapable of discovering the 
data in the free acts of the Divine Will, yet when these are 
once given by revelation as matters of fact, can discern the 
obligations which naturally arise from them. It can dis- 
cern the fit and becoming, the pulchrum et honestum in the 
new circumstances in which we are placed, and it can col- 
lect, compare and elaborate into scientific unity the truths 
which are brought within its reach. But in no case is rea- 
son the ultimate rule of faith. No authority can be higher 
than the direct testimony of God, and no certainty can be 
greater than that imparted by the Spirit shining on the 
Word. An accredited revelation, like an oath among men, 
should put an end to controversy. 

But the question may arise. Can that be an accredited 
revelation which contains things that are contradictory to 
reason ? If by reason we are here to understand the com- 
plement of those primitive truths and cognitions, with the 
legitimate deductions from them, which enter into the uni- 
versal consciousness of the race, spontaneously considered, 
there is and can be but one answer. These fundamental 
facts of consciousness cannot be set aside without annihilat- 
ing all intelligence. To deny them, or to question them, is 
to reduce all knowledge to zero, or to skepticism. No reve- 
lation, therefore, can contradict them without committing an 
act of suicide ; it would destroy the very condition under 
which alone it can be known and received as a revelation. 

But suppose that the laws of intelligence and the jn-imitive 
intuitions of the soul are not violated by what jirofesses to 
be a Divine revelation, is reason competent to judge, upon 
internal grounds, of the truth or falsehood of its contents ? 
Here we must make a distinction. The contents of revela- 
tion may embrace things that are strictly natural, that fall 


within the sphere of human experience and observation. 
There may be alhisions to geography and history, to civil 
and political institutions, to the manners, customs and con- 
dition of different countries and people. Surely, in relation 
to these the human understanding, when furnished with the 
proper sources of knowledge, is competent to judge. It de- 
serves to be remarked, however, that truth in these respects 
is only a presumption but not a proof, of truth in others. 
A book may contain no blunders in the sphere of the natural, 
and yet not be from God. Neither, on the other hand, 
would error in these respects convict a professed revelation 
of imposture, unless it claimed to be infallible in all matters. 
It is conceivable that God might leave men to themselves 
Avhen touching upon subjects within the compass of their 
natural powers, and yet supernaturally guard them from 
error in all that transcends the sphere of experience. The 
contents of a revelation may — indeed to justify its name it 
must, contain things that are strictly supernatural — things 
"which eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither have 
entered into the heart of man to conceive. In relation to 
this class of contents, reason has no standard of judgment. 
It cannot say beforehand what a revelation ought to contain ; 
it cannot even prescribe the form in which it should be 
given ; and therefore cannot object to it for containing 
things contrary to an arbitrary opinion. The objects of 
cognition, both in the natural and supernatural world", must 
alike be given. As it is the office of intelligence to study 
nature as it is, and not to deny its existence because it hap- 
pens not to be what our vain fancies imagine it ought to be, 
so it is the office of reason to study the facts of revelation as 
they are given, and not to indulge in chimerical speculations 
as to what oua-ht or ousjlit not to have been communicated. 
The attitude of reason here is simply that of a recipient. It 
listens and accepts the Word. As the outer world manifests 
itself, and is not created by reason, so the supernatural 
world is manifested through revelation, and is not the pro- 
duct of speculation. As we depend absolutely upon our 


senses and faculties for the knowledge of material phe- 
nomena, so we must depend absolutely uj)on Divine revela- 
tion for all supernatural phenomena. They may be mys- 
terious ; that is to be expected. They may be incompre- 
hensible; that naturally results from their transcendent 
character. But we have mysteries in nature, and we carry 
in our OAvn bosoms proofs of a substance whose reality can- 
not be doubted, but whose being cannot be fathomed by the 
line of human intelligence. The soul and self are as inex- 
plicable as the sublime mysteries of Scripture. 

But while reason cannot judge of the truth or falsehood 
of supernatural data upon any internal grounds, there is an 
important function which she may perform. She may illus- 
trate the harmony of Divine truth, not only with itself, but 
with all other truth. She may show that the same eternal 
principles which are exemplified in ISTature are exemplified 
also in Grace, and that the same objections which an arro- 
gant philosophy arrays against the one press with equal 
force against the other. God is one, and however manifold 
His works, they must all bear the marks of the same hand. 
They are all really, though in different degrees, impressions 
of Himself. They are all, in a certain sense. His word. 

Reason may also derive an internal proof of the authen- 
ticity of Revelation from the beauty, symmetry and glory 
of the dispensation it makes known. The supernatural 
world is not a chaos. Redemption is not an arbitrary 
series of events. A glorious plan pervades it, and the 
whole scheme from its beginning to its consummation is a 
marvellous exhibition of the manifold wisdom of God. 
Unassisted reason, when it inquires in a candid spirit, can 
partially discern the traces of Divine intelligence and glory, 
but when illuminated by the Spirit it wants no other evi- 
dence of Divine interposition. The truth overpowers it 
with a sense of ineffable glory, and it falls down to worship 
and adore ; for faith is only reason enlightened and recti- 
fied by grace. 



THERE arethree questions in relation to God which a com- 
petent theology must undertake to solve : the first con- 
cerns His existence, the second His nature, 
the third His perfections, — An sit Deusf 
Quid sit Deus f Qualis sit Deus ? We begin with the first. 
Religion, which is the spiritual knowledge of God, we 

have seen, is not a single energy, intellect- 
Religion, the high- i i j.' i j. j. i? 

est unfty of our being, ^al, moral or cmotional ; nor a state of 

mind in which each energy succeeds the 

other so rapidly as to make the impression that it is com- 

^ [1. If the amount of speculation which a subject has elicited is any in- 
dication of the difficulties which surround it, the question of the Being 
of God must be the most difficult within the compass of human inquiry. 
It would seem to be the universal sentiment of philosophers, the answer 
of SImonides the poet to Hiero the king. But in this case, it is not so 
much the difficulty as the transcendent importance of the subject that 
has provoked such a mass of discussion. The number of books upon the 
elementary question of Theology is perhaps greater than upon any other 
topic within the whole sphere of speculation. The controversy with 
Atheists has perhaps exceeded in the mass of its contributions the contro- 
versy with Deists. The confessed importance of the two inquiries, Is 
there a God ? and. Are the Scriptures a revelation from God ? is the secret 
of the interest they have elicited. 

2. In this case, as in many others, it has happened that the very sim- 
plicity of the truth has been an occasion of perplexity. Many have 
sought for erudite proofs of what God meant should be plain and ad- 
dressed to every understanding. Self-evident truths require no proof; 
all that speculation can do is to distinguish them and to indicate the cha- 
racteristics which define them. The attempt to i^rove the existence of 
matter, of an outward world, of our own souls, is simply absurd. They 
authenticate themselves. All that philosophy should undertake is to 


54 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

posed of them all as separate and separable elements. It is 
the whole energy of our being carried up to the highest unity. 
It is the concentration of our entire spiritual nature into one 

show that these are primitive cognitions, and to be received upon their 
self-manifestation with an absolute faith. The Being of God is so nearly 
a self-evident truth that if we look abroad for deep and profound argu- 
ments, or expect to find it at the end of a lengthened chain of demonstra- 
tion, we shaU only confuse what is plain, and mystify ourselves with 
vain deceit. 

3. If the end of our being is religion, if we are made to glorify God 
and to enjoy Him for ever, there must obviously be a special adaptation 
of our nature to the knowledge of God. If religion is not wholly a de- 
lusion, the evidence of the Being of God must lie very close to us. This 
was the confession of the ancient philosophers, of Socrates and Plato. 

4. Hence, we find that the belief of a Deity has been coextensive with 
the race. It is as natural to man to be religious as to be social or politi- 
cal. His mind craves a God even more intensely than his heart craves 
society. There must, therefore, be something in man which recognizes 
the existence of God, without the necessity of laboured and formal dem- 
onstrations. It must be an obvious and a palpable truth. The diflicul- 
ties which have emerged in speculation have been the result of trying 
to be deep where the subject was plain and patent. 

5. This is confirmed by the fact that the very same process of specula- 
tion which has superinduced doubt in relation to the Being of God, has 
also superinduced doubt as to the existence of an outer world and the 
existence of our own souls. The arguments which have led men to say 
that there is no God, have also led them to deny the reality of any sub- 
stance, whether material or spiritual. 

6. The result of these skeptical speculations has been not the proof of 
the non-existence of God, but the impossibility of proving that He does 
exist. There is and can be no demonstration of Atheism. The utmost 
that can be done is to affirm that if a God exists we cannot certify the 
fact to our own consciousness. 

7. There is no doubt that there is an antecedent credibility in favour of 
the existence of God, from the fact that this hypothesis is a satisfactory 
solution of all the phenomena of the universe. It gives one mystery, the 
Divine Being Himself, and solves every other mystery. It pours a flood 
of light upon all else besides. It begins with the incomprehensible, but 
it ends in the comprehensible. Every other system begins and ends in 
the incomprehensible. If the question of God had none but a specula- 
tive interest connected with it, this presumption would perhaps be more 
readily acknowledged. 

8. Revelation is as really a proof of the existence of God as nature. 
It is not exclusively a question of natural theology, in the sense of that 
theology which depends upon the unassisted light of reason.] 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 55 

form of life. It is a condition in which intellect, conscience 
and heart are blended into perfect union. One exercise 
cannot be separated from the others. It is hence neither 
speculative nor practical — it is a state in which speculation 
and practice completely coincide. If this view of the na- 
ture of religion be correct, the cognition of God, who is the 
, , , object matter of religion, must be the con- 

The knowledge of J . 

God, the contiibntion tributiou of all our facultics, and not the 
result of any single department of our 
nature. Give man mere intellect without conscience, will 
or heart, and he could never attain to any just conception 
of his Maker. He might comprehend a single relation of 
God — that of cause ; but apart from the power necessary to 
produce the given effect and the intelligence necessary to 
explain the order of the world, he would know nothing of 
what his philosophy compelled him to postulate as the first 
cause. A God who is merely intelligence and power is no 
God at all. He might be sufficient to satisfy the needs of 
speculation in the sphere of ontology — a substance among 
substances, a cause among causes — but there Avould be no 
more impulse to worship Him than there is to worship 
the secondary causes which emerge in the same region of 
thought. The other faculties necessarily imply intelligence. 
There can be no conscience without knowledge — it is a pecu- 
liar form of cognition. There can be no emotion without 
knowledge — that also is a special form of cognition. 

In appreciating the argument for the Being of God it is 
important to recollect that each higher de- 
esfformTf ufl, ^'^'" g^^^ ^f life cmbraccs all the others. The 
animal has all that belongs to the vege- 
table, and something more ; the rational has all that belongs 
to the animal, and something more ; the moral has all that 
belongs to the rational, and something more ; and the re- 
ligious has all that belongs to the moral, and something 
more. The addition in each case is not something capable 
of being detached — it is fused into the other. The two 
make a new form of life as simple and as indivisible as each 

56 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

element separately. The animal is not the vegetable, plus 
a something which you can separate from it, but the vege- 
table in perfect fusion with the something that modifies it. 
In the same way, the rational and the animal are not two 
factors which make up a compound in which you can dis- 
criminate the precise posture of each, but a whole, as single 
and indivisible as each of the factors it combines. But 
while every higher includes every lower form of life, and 
reduces it to the unity of its own being, yet what is really 
inseparable may be considered as logically distinct, and we 
may approximate a just view of the higher by apjjrehending 
the nature of all the lower it absorbs. Religion, accordingly, 
being the highest form of life, constituting 

and the consiimniatiou ,i p i^' d ••jII* 

ofouriieiucr. ^^^^ '^'^ry periectiou ot our spu-itual bemg, 

and fulfilling all the functions ascribed by 
the Greek philosophers to their Wisdom, though possessing 
a strict and perfect unity, may be considered in reference to 
the lower forms of life it includes, and in this way a clearer 
notion conveyed than could be attained without this logical 
resolution. The best way to authenticate our knowledge of 
God is to show that it is the consummation of our beina; — 
that without God. man is left a maimed and imperfect crea- 
ture. Each element of his spiritual being points to God, 
and when all are combined they give, in their normal condi- 
tion, the true and living God of Revelation. This method 
of presenting the subject is simple and progressive, and the 
result when attained is seen to be exactly the being that we 
seek. It is felt to be the same God whom every part of our 
nature proclaims, since the voice of every j)firt is finally 
taken up in the voice of the whole. 

In conformity with this method we may look upon man 
successivelv as a rational beino;, as a moral 

Threefold constitu- ^^j^^^^ ^ ^ rcligious bciug ; and wc shall 

see that speculation in its fundamental law 
reveals a God; moral distinctions are grounded in His 
nature and government ; and religion contemplates Him as 
a being of ineffable beauty and glory. 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 57 

I. Let us consider, first, the testimony of speculative 

reason. By speculative reason we mean 

The testimony of ^j^^^ principle in man which prompts him 

speculative reason. ■•• -i J- a 

to account for existing phenomena. His 
apprehensive faculties furnish him with the materials of 
knowledge ; reason digests these materials into science by 
generalizing the facts and ascertaining the causes upon which 
they depend. It answers the question, Why things are as 
we see them to be ? The root of this faculty is the law of 
causation. This law is not, as some philosophers have rep- 
resented it, a deduction from experience ; nor is it, as Ham- 
ilton imagines, a confession of our impotence to conceive an 
absolute commencement. It is a fundamental law of belief 

The law of causa- ^7 ^hich the ordcr of existence is made 
tion, a fundamental Capable of detcction by human intelligence. 
This law is not, as Kant would have us 
believe, a merely regulative principle, which adjusted the 
relations of our thoughts without any objective validity or 
any power to certify that things really were as we thought 
them. On the other hand, every law of thought is, at the 
same time, a law of existence. If oiu* thoughts represent 
real beings, the connections of our thoughts will answer to 
the connections of the things. If they represent imaginary 
beings, then the connections are connections that would ob- 
tain if the things were real. The truth is, intelligence 
would be a mere delusion if the fundamental law of reason 
were shut up within the limits of a rigorous subjectivity. 
It would be impossible to extend our knowledge beyond the 
circle of actual experience. Even the testimony of others as 
a source of knowledge would have to be excluded, since the 
ground upon which we ultimately credit the reports of others 
is this same law of cavise and effect. Taking, then, the law 

This law is a law ^^ causatiou as at once a law of thought 
of existenco, as well and a law of cxistcncc, whenever it sets out 

as of thought. o ^ i • mitt 

from the real it must necessarily lead to the 
real. If we have effects that are real, we must find causes 
that are real. In the theistic argument we begin, in the 

58 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

first place, with beings that are real. We set out from facts 
which fall w^ithin the sphere of our experience. We start 
from the Avorld around us. Here is being, and being in a 
constant state of flux and change. It is being that began. 
If it were necessary, it would be immutable. Whatever 
necessarily is, necessarily is just as it is and just what it is. 
f The contingency of the world is as obvioxis 

The contingency of O J 

the world proves a ne- as its existcuce. An infinite succession 

cessary, eternal cause. ^ ^ . -, ^ i i i • 

ot finite and changeable objects is a contra- 
diction. If the world began, it must have had a Maker. 
The conclusion is as certain as the law of causation. The 
conclusion is not that we must think it as having had a 
Maker — that to us it is incogitable in any other relation, 
though in truth it might have had an absolute beginning — 
but that it exists under this condition of having been caused. 
To put the argument in another form : If there is any being 
at all, there must be eternal, unchangeable, necessary being. 
If there is any existence, there must be self-existence to ex- 
j)lain it. Either the beings that we see are self-existent, or 
they have been made. If they have been made, there must 
be a Maker — and as there cannot be an infinite regression 
of causes, the Maker must be absolutely underived and self- 
sufiicient. This is the argument in a brief compass which 
results from the law of causation as applied to the contin- 
gency of the world. It is simple, conclusive, unanswerable. 
You will perceive that it consists of two elements : one, a 
'posteriori, given in experience — the contingency of the world ; 
the other, a priori, contained in the constitution of our nature.^ 

^ [The existence of God is really a cognition of the human soul, like 
the cognition of matter or of ourselves. It is so inseparable from the de- 
velopment of reason that wherever we find a man, we find one who is not 
a stranger to the existence of God, The real problem of Theology is not 
to prove that a God exists, as if she were instructing the ignorant or im- 
parting a new truth to the mind, but to show the grounds upon which we 
are already in possession of the truth. It is to vindicate an existing 
faith, and not to create a new one. The belief itself is universal — as uni- 
versal as the belief in the soul. However men may differ on other points, 
they agree in this. Religion is prior to civilization, and has been justly 
represented as the first teacher of the race. The question is : How this 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 69 

The a jrnori element is a guarantee for the objective validity 
of all that the reason in obedience to it deduces from the 
other. You can state the argument in the form of a syllo- 
gism, but you are not to suppose that the conclusion flows 
from the major premise as something contained in it.^ On 
the other hand it is simply legitimated by it, and the real 
„, , . , ^ ^ . character of the ratiocination is that of im- 

The beiug of God is 

proved by an immedi- mediate inference. By the very nature of 
the reason, in apprehending the world as 
contingent we apprehend it as having been originated. We 
are not conscious of any succession of ideas at all. It seems 
to be an intuition of God, which is awakened in the soul 
upon the occasion of its coming into contact with the world. 
But God is not an object of intuition. If He were, we 
would know Him by some faculty of immediate perception. 
We know Him only mediately through a law of reason 
which gives His being as an immediate inference from the 
facts of experience. 

The argument from the contingency of the world ^ is what 
, . , Kant has called the cosmological proof. 

This cosmological o ^ 

argument not sophis- Like all tlic othcr proofs from pure reason, 
he has pronounced it to be a specious 
sophism ; and yet he admits again and again that it is the 
necessary progress of our reason. It is certainly remark- 
able that our reason should be so constituted as necessarily 
to seduce us into error; that in obeying its most urgent and 

belief arose, and upon what grounds it may be authenticated ? We shall 
attempt to show that it is the necessary oflspring of reason — that it springs 
from the very constitution of the soul.] 

^ [The argument is not a syllogism, it is not a demonstration ; and God 
is not the object of an intuition, but it is an immediate inference, like the 
connection between thought and existence. One truth necessarily implies 
another, and this necessary connection is intuitively perceived, lleason 
is so constructed that as soon as it cognizes any being, it must cognize 
God. The inference from one to the other is immediate, intuitive, neces- 

^ [The argument from the contingency of the world is also developed 
by Des Cartes, in another form, as an argument from the imperfection of 
the world. It is beautifully expanded by Cousin, p. 127, seq.J 

60 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

imperative impulses we should only entangle ourselves in 
the mazes of delusion, instead of being conducted into the 
clear light of truth. If reason in such inquiries were pre- 
sumptuous or perverted, if she were acting in contradiction 
to her own laws, the fallacious result could be easily ex- 
plained. But when it is confessed that she is pursuing the 
tendencies of her own nature, that she is imjjelled by the 
very nature of her constitution not only to engage in these 
speculations, but to draw these very conclusions, the infer- 
ence would seem to be that reason was given, not as an 
organ of truth, but as a faculty of deceit. The manner in 
which Kant undertakes to convict reason of sophistry in the 
conduct of the cosmological argument will have no weight 
with those who are not imbued with the principles of the 
Critical philosophy as to the nature of human knowledge. 
He takes for granted that the laws of thought have only a 
subjective validity, and that the matter of our knowledge is 
only a series of subjective phenomena. Of course the argu- 
ment must be deceitful according to a philosophy like this. 
It must be admitted, however, that this cosmological ar- 
gument fails to give us any other concep- 

yet it is defective. , r»/^iii i* 

tion of God that that of necessary being. 
It stops at His absoluteness. From His necessity and eter- 
nity you can infer nothing as to His nature and attributes. 
He is the first substance, the cause of all things, while un- 
conditioned Himself. 

Reason, in obedience to the same law of causation, takes 

another step in which she equally sets out 

The teleological ar- /> lA e i. c • t^ • • 

gy^jpjjj from the lacts ot experience. It is impos- 

ble to contemplate the universe, as far as it 
falls under our observation, without perceiving that it is 
really a kosmos, a scene of order and of law. The most 
untutored peasant, as well as the profoundest philosopher, 
is alike capable of apprehending the general fact. The 
motions of the heavenly bodies, the succession of the sea- 
sons, the alternation of day and night, the exquisite organi- 
zation of plants and animals, and especially the structure 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 61 

of the human frame, are such conspicuous manifestations 
of order that the most careless observer 

General order, , , . , , ,^, 

cannot fail to be impressed with it. The 
perception of this order does not require a knowledge of 
the ends to be answered by it. We may be satisfied that 
it exists where we do not understand its ultimate pur- 
pose or design. A man ignorant of machinery may feel 
that there is a plan in the structure of a watch, or of 
a ship, or of a cotton-mill, though he does not compre- 
hend the subordination of the parts, nor how the end they 
aim at is answered. He may see some ancient monument 
of art, and be struck with the order that reigns in it, though 
he has no idea of the purpose for which it was intended. 

General order is one thing, special adapt- 
timis ^^'^ "^ atapta- ^tions are auotlicr. In special adaptations 

we know the end and understand the means 
by which it is accomplished. The eye as adapted to vision is 
an instance of special adaptation ; the stomach as adapted to 
the functions of digestion is another. Science is constantly 
enlarging our knowledge in the wonderful adaptations of 
nature, and science is daily deepening the impression of 
general order. Indeed, the tendency of physical science is 
to make a god of the law of order — to resolve it into a 
primordial necessity which precludes the possibility of any 
breach upon its course. Now here is an effect, a phenome- 
non, to be accounted for. There must be a cause of this 

order, and reason intuitively perceives that 

prove an intelligent •j.ii- • J.^ i 1 j_- /> •j_ 

^g^^gg intelligence is the only explanation oi it, 

as necessary being is the only explanation 
of contingent being. Order implies thought, purpose, de- 
sign. It is the prerogative of mind alone to plan and to 
arrange. The adjustment of means to ends is a combina- 
tion of reason, and reason knows her own footprints. This 
is what Kant calls the physico-theological argument. It is 
commonly called the argument from final causes, or the 
teleological proof. Kant^ admits that it deserves to be 
1 Crit. Pure Keason, p. 383. Bolin's Trans. 

62 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

mentioned with respect. " It is," he says, " the oldest, the 
clearest, and that most in conformity with the common rea- 
son of humanity. It animates the study of nature, as it 
itself derives its existence and draws ever new strength 
from that source. It introduces aims and ends into a sphere 
in which our observation could not of itself have discov- 
ered them, and extends our knowledge of nature by direct- 
ing our attention to a unity, the principle of A^hich lies 
beyond nature. This knowledge of nature again reacts 
upon this idea — its cause — and thus our belief in a Divine 
Author of the universe rises to the power of an irresistible 
conviction. For these reasons it would be utterly hope- 
less," he adds, " to attempt to rob this argument of the 
authority it has always enjoyed. The mind, unceasingly 
elevated by these considerations, which, although empirical, 
are so remarkably powerful and continually adding to their 
force, will not suffer itself to be depressed by the doubts 
suggested by subtle speculations ; it tears itself out of this 
state of uncertainty the moment it casts a look upon the 
wondrous forms of nature and the majesty of the universe, 
and rises from height to height, from condition to condi- 
tion, till it has elevated itself to the supreme and uncondi- 
tioned Author of all." 

It must be confessed, however, that this argument, if 

taken alone, fails to demonstrate the exist- 
snffioienrofTe'Jn "" ^^^^ of au Infinite Author of the universe. 

It proves intelligence, but it does not prove 
that that intelligence may not be derived. It exhibits God 
as arranging the order which prevails. He is only, in the 
light of it, the Architect of nature. For all that appears, 
matter may have existed independently of His will ; and His 
knowledge of it may have been derived from observation 
and experience analogous to our own. He may have 
studied the jjroperties and laws of the materials He has 
used in the structure of the universe, and His power may, 
like ours, consist in obedience to the laws of the substances 
with which He had to deal. The argument, in other words, 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 63 

does not conduct us beyond a subtle anthropomorphism. 

In itself, therefore, it is incomplete, but when added to the 

cosmological which gives us a Creator — 

but it complements . „ , ■. T> • 

the preceding one, and au luiinite, eternal, necessary Jieing — we 
together they demon- perceivc that this Being is intelligent, that 

Btrate God. ^ _ °, ^ i i i 

He is an almighty Spirit, and that the 
thoughts of His understanding have been from everlasting. 
Here, too, as in the other case, the argument is an imme- 
diate inference from a determinate form of experience, that 
of order and beauty, to a designing mind — the inference 
being guarantied by a law of thought which is, at the same 
time, a condition of existence. 

These two arguments exhibit the steps by which, in the 
Reason in its nor- sphcrc of specuktiou, the rcasou ascends to 
mai use, ascends to ail intellio;ent Autlior of the Universe. 
They are steps which, in the normal de- 
velopment of reason, would seem to be inevitable. It is 
prompted, by its very nature, to inquire into the causes of 
things. This is the foundation of all philosophy. Take 
away the notion and the belief of cause, and the idea of a 
Kosmos becomes absurd, and that of philosophy a palpable 
contradiction. Unless, therefore, our reason is a lie, there is 
a God who made us and ordained the order which constitutes 
the beauty and the glory of the Universe.^ These heavens 
and this earth, this wondrous frame of ours and that more 
wondrous spirit within, are the products of His power and 
the contrivances of His infinite wisdom. External nature, 
to reason in her normal state, becomes an august temple of 
the Most High, in which He resides in the ftdlness of His 
being, and manifests His goodness to all the works of His 
hands. I^othing is insignificant, nothing is dumb. The 
heavens declare His glory. The firmament showeth His 

^ [We must study God in His works, as children who cannot look the 
sun in the face behold its image in the limpid stream. Simon., p. 25. 

One mav almost define philosophy in all its branches as a method of 
reaching the infinite through the finite. Simon., p. 29. 

He adds, " all philosophy is full of God, and all the sciences are full of 

64 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

handiwork. The day elicits from the countless multitude 
of beings revealed by its light a tribute to His praise ; and 
the night, with its array of planets, suns, and adamantine 
spheres wheeling unshaken through the void immense, utters 
a sound which is audible to every ear and intelligible to 
every heart. Science, when it has con- 

and adores Ilim. /-nt 

ducted us to God, ceases to speculate and 
begins to adore. All the illustrations which it has gathered 
in the fields it has explored are converted into hymns, and 
the climax of its inquiries is a sublime doxology. 

Among the arguments of speculative reason, it has been 
usual to class what has been called the 

The ontological i i • i r ^^■^ • j. J j. l, 

proof criticised. ontoiogiccd proot. Ihispreteuds to be an 

a iwiori demonstration of the existence of 
God. It is found, in its germ, in the philosophy of Plato, 
and under different forms of development it has been trans- 
mitted, through the Schoolmen, to Des Cartes and Leibnitz, 
The German philosopher put the last touch to it. Indeed 
he has so modified it that it requires careful attention to 
recognize, in its new form, the speculations of Anselm, and 
even of Plato before him. The new form, as given by 
Kant,^ is substantially this : " Perfect being contains all 
reality, and it is admitted that such a being is possible ; that 
is to say, that its existence implies no contradiction. Now, 
all reality supposes existence. There is, therefore, a thing 
possible in the concept of which is comprised existence. If 
this thing be denied, the possibility of its existence is also 
denied, which is contradictory to the preceding." The ar- 
gument is thus expressed by Leibnitz himself: " Uns, ex 
cujus essentia sequitur existentia, si est jyossibile, id est. Est 
axioma identicum demonstratione non indigens. Atqui Deus 
est ens ex cvjus essentia sequitur ipsius existentia. Est de- 
jinitio. Ergo Deus, si est possible, existet per ipsius conceptus 
neGessitatem." This means that God is, if He is possible, 
because His possibility — that is to say. His essence itself — 
carries with it His existence, and because it would be a 
1 Cousin, Pliilos. Kant, pp. 120, seq. 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 65 

contradiction to recognize this essence and refuse to it 

To me, the objections of the German critic to the conclu- 
siveness of this argument are perfectly insuperable. A sub- 
jective necessity of thought implies an objective necessity 
of existence only when the thought is a real thing. We 
may imagine a being, and attribute to it attributes which 
necessarily imply other attributes ; but these attributes can- 
not be inferred to have a real existence unless the subject to 
which they are ascribed is first postulated as real. We may 
conceive a being in which necessity of existence is posited as 
an attribute ; but if the subject is only a conception of the 
mind, the necessity of being is equally subjective. We can- 
not pass from thought to existence unless the thought begins 
in existence. " Existence," as Kant has justly remarked,^ 
" is not an attribute, a predicate which determines tlie idea 
of the subject. When I say that God is all-powerful, the 
attribute all-poioerful determines the idea of God ; but when 
I conceive God as simply possible or real, the idea of Him 
rests the same in both cases ; here it is certain the real in- 
volves nothing more than the possible. If it were otherwise, 
the idea which we have of any thing would not be complete 
until we had conceived it as possible. It follows that if I 
conceive a being as perfect, I may perplex myself as much 
as I please by trying to evolve from the idea the real exist- 
ence. The question of existence always remains, and it is 
not from the conception of the object conceived as possible 
that we can draw the concept of its reality. We are there- 
fore obliged to quit the concept of an object if we would 
accord to it real existence." 

Whatever charm this species of reasoning has for spec- 
ulative minds, it is certain that it can ter- 

It terminates in « , i • j. l, j. x' mi 

empty abstractions. mmatc ouly m empty abstractions. The 

truth is, the secret of its influence is the 

firm conception and belief of a necessary being as actually 

existing which we derive from the cosmological proof. 

1 Cousin, Phil. Kant, p. 123. ^ Cousin, ibid., p. 122. 

Vol. .1—5 

66 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

There we start out from the real and are conducted to the 
real in this most sublime and overpowering of all concep- 
tions. The idea of necessary being never emerges until the 
fact of contingent being is given/ and then in this fact the 
reason perceives by immediate intuition that the eternal and 
independent is given too. Having thus reached the concept 
of necessary existence, we proceed to draw inferences from 
it as a real characteristic of God. 

From the nature of the case, the being of God never can 
be demonstrated in the strict and proper sense of the term. 
He is contained in nothing. It may be manifested, but not 

Consigning, therefore, this argument to the tender mer- 
cies of the metaphysicians, let us see the 

esn owiic \\e pesult to wliicli wc arc conducted bv the 

have been conducted. " 

other two. If the conclusion which they 
yield is an immediate inference guarantied by the funda- 
mental law of intelligence, the conclusion inevitably fol- 
lows that we can know nothing aright without knowing of 
God. He becomes the principmm cognosccnd'i , as well as 
the principium cssendi. He is the fountain to which all the 
streams of speculation converge. Truth is never reached — 
the why is never adequately given until you ascend to Him. 
Intelligence finds its consummation in the knowledge of 
His name. 

II. We come now to a higher spiritual energy or a higher 

form of spiritual life. We are to contem- 

Conscience in man ^ 

demands the existence platc man as a moral bciug, and we shall 

find that his conscience, still more imper- 

[1 We may observe, further, that we do not positively think necessary 
being ; we only believe it as the indispensable condition or cause of the 
contingent. It does not lie in the consciousness as an absolute dictum — 
" There is necessary being ;" but only as a hypothetical consequent — " There 
must be if there is contingent being." The whole force of the belief 
turns upon this if. Take away contingent being, and consciousness knows 
nothing of the necessary. We deny, therefore, the Cartesian assumption 
that we have the idea of a necessary being as an original and absolute 
datum of consciousness. To admit its hypotlietical character is to resolve 
the argument into the cosmological.] 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 67 

atively than speculative reason, demands the existence of 
God. Our moral cognitions are wholly unintelligible upon 
any other scheme than that of a personal God. The pecu- 
liarity of these cognitions is that they involve the sense of 
personal responsibility. The right comes to us in the form 
of commands and not of simple propositions ; it is known 
as duty ; it is felt to involve the distinction of merit and 
demerit, or of rewards and punishments administered upon 
the principle of distributive iustice. Now 

Three aspects m ^ -"^ ^ •'^ 

which our moral cog- there are three aspects in which these cog- 
nitions lead to the im- j^- . ^^^j. ^^^ immediate inference of a 

mediate inference of J J 

this just and right- jnst aud rightcous God : 1. Considered as 
commands they imply an Author who has 
a right to prescribe laws — an Author wdiom we are bound 
to obey. A law without a lawgiver is unmeaning jargon. 
Conscience appears in us as the organ of an authority not 
its own. It is in its normal state the voice of God in the 
soul of man. 2. Consider these commands as giving rise to 
a sense of duty, and there emerges the idea of a judge to 
whom we are responsible. Obligation and superior will are 
correlative terms ; where there is no superior will there may 
be rectitude, but there cannot be duty. God is in no sense 
the subject of obligation. Conscience, then, in proclaiming 
a duty proclaims a supreme will. 3. Consider conscience 
as giving rise to the conviction of good and ill desert, of 
rewards and punishments justly and righteously distributed 
in contradistinction from mere pleasures and pains, and you 
have first a moral government directly affirmed, and then the 
prospect of perfect happiness to the righteous uncondition- 
ally held out. This connection betwixt happiness and vir- 
tue must be a sheer delusion unless He who promises is 
able also to perform ; but He cannot be able to perform un- 
less He possesses unlimited dominion over all beings, states 
and conditions. Hence emerges the notion of an infinite 
and all-powerful Euler, with a will morally determined, as 
well as with intelligence and mere benevolence of character. 
This is an outline of the argument from our moral 

68 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

cognitions -which might be impressively expanded. It is 
enough to put you in possession of the steps of the reason- 
ing. This argument, it is conceded by 

Kant and Hamilton rr x i O" •xtt-it tt 'Ij. 

upon this argument. ^aut and feir W iHiam Hamilton, is con- 
clusive and irresistible. In conscience 
they recognize an immediate affirmation of God. How 
upon the principles of the Kantian philosophy it is any 
more valid than the arguments from speculative reason, I 
am unable to comprehend. If intelligence is false in its 
fundamental utterances, it is difficult to see upon what 
ground the veracity of conscience can be consistently main- 
tained. If man's nature is a lie in one respect, it may be a 
lie ill the other. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. 

But Avhat I wish particularly to impress upon you is, 
that as man rises to a higher sphere of 

In the higher sphere ^ ^ • -i 

of life man rises to Spiritual lifc, lic nscs to more precise and 
uons of God Tnd To clefinitc couccptious of the character and 
the sense of responsi- attributes of God, and lias the highest 
evidence that the subject which he cog- 
nizes in the sphere of speculation is precisely the same 
subject that meets him in the sphere of duty. To the 
notions of intelligence and goodness are now added the 
notions of rectitude, of justice, of will. To the relations 
of a Creator and great First Cause are now added the rela- 
tions of law, of responsibility, of moral government, of 
rewards and punishments. Every element of personality 
is now secured. We have a Being tliat knows, that wills, 
that judges. Then, as in the notion of the ultimate felicity 
of virtue there is implied an absolute dominion over all 
things that exist, the God whose law is virtue is seen to be 
the same as He who created the heavens and the earth, and 
gave to them their exquisite beauty and order. There is 
no pretext for saying that intelligence reveals one God and 
conscience another. In the notion of responsibility, they 
both meet, and are found to be one and the same. 

The sense of responsibility, or the authority of conscience, 
is perhaps the argument most efficacious of all in keeping 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 69 

alive the sense of God. As long as it is implicated in 
the conviction of duty, men must obliterate 

Conscience an argu- J ' 

ment for God in our from their miuds all moral distinctions 

homes and bosoms. i/> ,i , •, p,i iTf«r» 

belore they can get quit ot tlie beliei oi 
a God. It is an argument which we carry with us. It is 
in our homes and our bosoms. We need not ascend into 
heaven to seek the Author of the moral law, nor descend 
into the deep to learn the mystery of His being. The 
Word is nigh us, in our hearts and in our mouths. 

If this reasoning be just, we perceive that all moral 

philosophy must find its ultimate ground 

God the ground of -^^ q^^_ rpj^^ distiuctiouS of mOral gOOd 

all moral distinctions, o 

and the soul of every aucl cvil arc a riddlc, au enigma, an in- 

social and political in- tit -pi • r^ -\ 

etitution. explicable mystery, it there is no God. 

The entire system of social order, the fab- 
ric of government, the criminal jurisprudence of states be- 
comes unmeaning, or is reduced to a mere system of pru- 
dential and precautionary measures to prevent j)hysical 
hurt. Take away God, and, considered in his ethical con- 
stitution, man becomes the sport and the scandal of the 
universe. He is au enormous lie, and those very elements 
of his being in which he exults that he is superior to the 
brutes, — those grand conceptions of the true, the good, the 
just — are mere chimeras, which foster a pride that in the 
eyes of those who know his real condition makes him 
ridiculous, and cheats him of pleasures that he might enjoy, 
by .empty phantoms. But if the law of causation in the 
world of speculation and the law of duty in the moral 
world are true and faithful witnesses — and these are the 
principles which guarantee the argument in their respective 
spheres — then as certainly as man has a reasonable soul, so 
certainly there is a God. He cannot explain himself with- 
out God. He perceives »s clearly as the light of the sun that 
either he himself is a mere bundle of contradictions, or he 
was made in the image of a supreme Creator, who is holy 
and wise and good. Speculative reason might perplex 
itself about the first substance, but when conscience speaks 

70 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

the personality of God is as plain as the law of duty. He 
is felt to be no primordial necessity, no self-developing life 
of nature, no soul of the world ; but He is Jehovah, dis- 
tinct from all and yet pervading all — the everlasting God 
who speaks and it is done, who commands and it stands fast. 
III. There is still a higher form of life than that of in- 
. tellio-ence or duty. There is a state of 

The testimony of o J 

man's highest form of tlic soul wliicli calls out cvcry Spiritual 
energy in delighted and unimpeded exer- 
cise. It transfers to the elements of intelligence and obli- 
gation an element borrowed from the heart. It is the ele- 
ment of love — an element involving not only tlie cognition 
of the true, the just, the right, but the cognition of the 
beautiful and glorious. Rectitude is no longer appre- 
hended as a duty, and clothed in the cold garb of author- 
ity ; it comes to us in the freshness and sweetness of life, 
and we delight in it as the highest and purest energy of the 
soul.^ This new form of life is religion. To know that 
there is a God is not to be religious ; to know that virtue is 
our law is not to be religious ; even to practise from the 
sense of obligation is not to be religious. You must con- 
template God under the forms of beauty — the beauty of 
holiness — and imitate His life of spontaneous and blessed 
rectitude before you become truly religious. Hence, in 
religion every department of our nature is called into play, 
and called into play under the law of love, or worship, or 
adoration. Now when our nature reaches this stage, the 
knowledge of God as existing becomes a fixed element of 
our consciousness. We have the witness in ourselves. But 
this stage is never perfectly reached in this life, and no- 
, where reached at all, except among those 

Tlie principle of / x o 

worship universal in who arc illuminated by the grace of the 

gospel. But in all men there exist traces 

1 [The religious nature manifests the identity of the object of its wor- 
ship with the God revealed in conscience, tlirough the medium of the 
notion of rectitude, which is the measure of holiness objectively consid- 
ered. The moral ruler of conscience is the God of beauty and glory of 
the heart.] 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD. 71 

of the principle of worship — there exist sentiments of 
pious veneration which show what man's nature normally 
is, and which serve to complete the argument from the 
human soul for the being of God. Men everywhere 
must worship. They feel that their being is not complete 
without an object of worship. Hence the schemes of 
superstition, of idolatry; hence the temples, the altars, 
the sacrifices which exist among all people. Hence, 
too, the systems of Divination, of Sorcery, of Magic. 
There is a tie which binds man to the spiritual world. 
He craves communion with it and resorts to vain eiforts to 
penetrate its mysteries. As the religious principle exists 
in the form of a blind craving where it has any develop- 
ment in the life, we can conclude nothing from it as to the 
character of the beino; it seeks. Having lost the element 
of a genuine adoration, grounded in the ineifable holiness 
of God, it creates objects for itself that are but the reflec- 
tion of the moral state of the worshipper's own soul. But 
the reliy-ious sentiment does certainly prove 

If man s nature is ~ •' J- 

to worship, there must that tlicrc uiust be au objcct corrcspoudiug 
to it. If it is the nature of man to wor- 
ship, there must be a being to be worshipped, or that nature 
is again a lie. But when this law of worship is developed 
under the gospel, it becomes not merely the knowledge of 
God, but it becomes communion with God. It reveals His 
personality in the most convincing light, because we know 
that He speaks to us and we speak to Him. It reveals 
His glory. Here our knowledge reaches its culmination. 
We find the true centre and rest of our being — to glorify 
God and to enjoy Him for ever. 

I have now given you an outline of the arguments by 
_ .,, . ,, , . which man fortifies his faith in the being 

Faith in the being O 

of God springs out of of God. I havc taken the human soul in 

man's nature. i-i /. /••, ••, it/. 

tlie higher forms ot its spiritual hie — as 
rational, as moral, as religious, and I have shown that the 
laws, under which these departments of his being operate 
and act, lead necessarily to the immediate inference of a 

72 THE BEING OF GOD. [Lect. II. 

God, infinite, eternal, necessary, intelligent, moral, volun- 
tary, free — a personal Being ineifably glorious in the light 
of His holiness. I have pictured the normal progress of 
reason, or rather of the whole spiritual man, and I have 
shown that man finds the complement of his intelligence, 
his conscience and his propensity to worship only in such a 
living and personal Jehovah. The argument lies close to him 
— so close, that if he can know any thing he can know God. 

You can now understand the sense in which the doctrine 
In what sense the should bc undcrstood that the knowledge 
knowledge of God is of God is inuatc. Thc thcory of innate 
ideas in the sense of formed and developed 
propositions has been long since exploded. So far as any 
objective reality is concerned, the child is born Avith a mind 
perfectly blank. Consciousness is dormant until experience 
awakens it by the presentation of an object. But though 
destitute of formed knowledges, the mind has capacities 
which are governed by laws that constitute the conditions 
of intelligence. Under the guidance of these laws it comes 
to know, and whatever knowledge it obtains in obedience to 
them is natural. Now, as the knowledge of God necessarily 
emerges from the operation of these laws as soon as our 
faculties are sufficiently matured, that knowledge is natural 
— as natural as that of the material world or of the existence 
of our own souls. We cannot think rightly without think- 
ing God. In the laws of intelligence, of duty and of wor- 
ship He has given us the guides to His OAvn sanctuary, and 
if we fail to know Him, it is because we have first failed to 
knoAV ourselves. This is the conclusion to which we are 
legitimately conducted. 

This view of the subject dispenses with the necessity of 

postulating a presentative knowledge of 

ness, and"' our know- God, through a faculty of apprchensiou 

ledge of God mediate adapted to thc coguitlon of the Divine 

and representative. i ~ 

Being, as perception is adapted to the cog- 
nition of external objects. God is not given to us as a phe- 
nomenon of experience. There is no God-consciousness apart 

Lect. II.] THE BEING OF GOD, 73 

from the necessary inferences of reason. All our knowledge 
of Him is mediate and representative. He is what intelli- 
gence finds in the inquiries which it raises upon the phe- 
nomena of experience. But the fact that philosophers have 
The conviction of Tesortcd to sucli thcorics as those of the in- 
God lies close to our tuitioual thcologj is a proof of how closely 
the conviction of a God lies to our nature. 
INIen have felt, wdth irresistible certainty, that He exists. 
The fact being indisputable, when they have been driven by 
sophistical objections from one method of certifying it, they 
have immediately resorted to another. When they have 
been unable to vindicate it as an inference, they have re- 
solved it into immediate perception ; when they could not 
ground it in discursive reason, they have grounded it in 
faith, and made faith a faculty instead of a mental function. 
The import of all is, that the notion of God cannot be ex- 
pelled from the human soul. He is, and our nature pro- 
claims that He is, however we may explain the manner of 
the fact. 



WE have seen that the human mind has been constituted 
with a special reference to the knowledge of God. It 
was made to know Him. It contains elements of faith, or 
laws of intelligence, which, when normally 

Man made for the t i , j i i i* 

knowledge of God, applied to the phenomena of experience, 
necessitate the inference that there is a 
God, and, apart from all disturbing influences, would con- 
duct to a just apprehension and a true worship of His name. 
The very principles by which man is capable of knowing 
any thing have their proper termination in God. Indeed, 
he cannot justly be said to know at all without the recogni- 
tion of the First Cause. This knowledge, we have seen, is 
not a remote deduction, but an immediate inference. The 
finite and contingent give the infinite and eternal upon the 
same principle on which thought gives existence. The ar- 
gument, The world exists, therefore God is, is of the same 
kind with the celebrated enthymeme of Des Cartes : Cogifo 
ergo sum. But while the grounds of the knowledge of God 
are thus laid in the very structure of the mind, while its 
primitive and indestructible faiths find their natural ter- 
mination in Him, it is yet matter of experience that no one 
has ever, in point of fact, attained to right 
yo^^.oes no a ain ^^^ worthy conccptioiis of the nature and 
character of God by the unassisted light of 
reason. The world by wisdom knew not God. Here, then, 
is a singular phenomenon. Reason, under sound and 
healthful culture, must, from its very laws, reflect the image 


Lect. III.] man's natueal ignorance of god. 75 

of God. INIatured by a normal growth, it could not fail to 
find in Him the source of knowledge as well as the fountain 
of being. Man has implicitly, therefore, what he never 
realizes explicitly — a germ which never expands and ma- 
tures — a seed which never springs up into a vigorous plant 
nor bears healthful fruit. This is the positive testimony of 
Scripture, as well as the dictate of observation and experi- 
ence : " Because that which may be known of God is mani- 
fest in them ; for God hath showed it unto them. For the 
invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are 
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, 
even His eternal power and Godhead ; so that they are with- 
out excuse. Because that when they knew God, they glori- 
fied Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became 
vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was dark- 
ened. Professing Uiemselves to be wise, they became fools, 
and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an 
image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four- 
footed beasts, and creeping things." ^ 

The question now arises, How is this singular anomaly to 
be explained? How is it that while all 

A siugular anomaly. i i i • /> 

may know, and ought to know, none in fact 
do know? To answer this question is the design of the 
present lecture. 

But let us settle, in the first place, precisely the nature of 
that ignorance with which we have to deal. If it were ab- 
solute and entire, if the reigning doctrine of the human race 
were the hypothesis of Atheism, it would be impossible to 
vindicate Theism upon any grounds of reason. Were there 
no sense of God and no sense of religion, it would be as idle 
to speculate upon theology, as to speculate upon morals 
where no sense of obligation and of rectitude obtains. The 
argument of our last lecture sliows conclusively that a vague 
sentiment of religion, of dependence, responsibility and wor- 
ship, and a corresponding conviction of the existence and 
moral government of a supreme intelligence, are coextensive 
' Rom. i. 19-24. 

76 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. hi. 

■with the race. What we affirm is, that while the existence 

A more precise state- o^ ^ocl and a general sense of onr relations 

ment of man's natural to Him are SO groundcd in the soul as to 

ignorance of God. , , i • f» i t • 

make man, wherever he is found, a religious 
creature, no just and consistent notions of His nature, His 
character and His attributes are anywhere compassed by 
natural light ; and that wherever apprehended at all. He is 
apjjrehended in no such light as to generate the dispositions 
and emotions which constitute true piety. In other words, 
apart from revelation. He is nowhere rightly represented in 
thought, and even with revelation He is nowhere truly 
loved and worshipped without special grace. The speculative 
knowledge of the heathen is not only defective, but grossly 
erroneous ; and spiritual cognition is the product of the Holy 
Ghost alone by the Gospel. That this is the truth, the re- 
ligious history of mankind abundantly demonstrates. What 
Paul wrote centuries ago has always been true of those who 
are destitute of the light of revelation — there is none that 
understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Amid 
all the temples and altars and sacrifices and costly oblations 
which figure in heathen and superstitious worship, there is 
nowhere an offering to the true, except as to the unknown 
God. Throughout the earth there is not a heart which 
beats in love at the mention of His name or is touched with 
a sentiment of pure devotion to His service, except where 
the Word and the Spirit of Christ have taken their lodg- 
ment. The whole world lieth in wicked- 

Explanation demanded. in i • i • 

ness. How shall we explain this mourn- 
ful phenomenon ? 

I. It is clear that this state of things is most unnatural in 

the strict and proper sense of the term ; that is, it contradicts 

the ideal of humanity. It is equally clear that a force 

originally foreign must have entered as a 

A foreign disturbing ^lig^urbing clemeut into the development 

element; twofold. ^ '-' e> i 

of reason, and turned it aside from the line 
of its right direction. There must be a steady and perma- 
nent cause, where the effects are so uniform and constant. 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance op god. 77 

We are justified by Scripture, and warranted by observation 
and analogy, in asserting that this foreign, disturbing force 
is twofold : the power of sin as a principle of evil within us, 
a law of death continually counter-working the law of the 
Spirit of life ; and the power of Satan, the evil one himself, 
whose influence upon the human race has only been increased 
by the success of his first experiment. These two powers, 
in their joint operation, are sufficient to explain the aston- 
ishing anomalies of the religious history of the species. To 
these two causes, the depravity of man and the malignity of 
Satan, we owe it, that while there is a general, if not an 
universal, conviction of the existence of a Supreme Being, 
when men undertake to frame a just and consistent concep- 
tion of His character, relations and works they pass through 
every conceivable shade of error, from the disgusting 
grossness of Fetichism to the deceitful refinements of Pan- 
theism. The God they represent in thought is often a mon- 
ster, sometimes a beast, but never the living and true Jeho- 
vah. Let us advert in the first place to the power of Satan. 
1. Since the fall this malignant spirit has entered into 
, , . , , human nature in a manner somewhat anal- 

The kind and ex- 
tent of Satan's power ogous to that in wliich tlic Spirit of God 

in and over men. i -n . ,1 -1 . />it tt ^ 

dwells m the hearts or believers. He has 
an intimate access to our faculties, and though he cannot, 
like the Holy Ghost, work at their roots so as to change 
and transform their tendencies, he can yet ply them with 
representations and delusions wliich shall effectually incline 
them to will and to do according to his pleasure. He can 
cheat the understanding with appearances of truth, fascinate 
the fancy with pictures of beauty, and mock the. heart with 
semblances of good. By a whisper, a touch, a secret sug- 
gestion, he can give an impulse to our thoughts, and turn 
them into channels which shall exactly subserve the pur- 
poses of his malice. In all this he does no violence to the 
laws of our nature. He insinuates himself into our facul- 
ties, and works by them and through them according to 
their own constitution. He disturbs neither the spontaneity 

(8 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

of the understanding nor the freedom of the will. As the 
work of the Holy Ghost in the saints is by no means incon- 
sistent with their full responsibility and their entire moral 
agency, so the work of the devil in the rcin'obate makes it 
none the less their work, and leaves these dupes of his malig- 
nity and craft without excuse for their sin. Unlike the 
Holy Ghost, he has no creative power. He can impart no 
new nature. He can only avail himself of what already 
exists to his hand. His power, like that of every other 
finite being, consists in obedience to the laws of the subject 
upon which he operates. Its secret lies in his knowledge 
and his skill. In our fallen condition he has no need to 
change our nature ; it is already adapted to his purposes. 
It is a fit instrument for executing his fell designs against 
the kingdom and the glory of God upon earth. These 
representations of the indwelling of Satan in the human 
soul, and of his consequent power and influence for evil, 
are the uniform teachings of Scripture. He is there de- 
scribed as the prince of the power of the air ; the sjiirit 
that now worketh in the children of disobedience ; the god 
of this world, who blinds the minds and hardens the heart 
of the impenitent and reprobate and seals them up in final 
unbelief; the strong man armed, who holds undisturbed 
possession of the palace of the human soul, until a stronger 
than he invades and casts him out. Men, on the other 
hand, are represented as his servants, his children, his cap- 
tives, his dupes, and the obedient subjects of his will. His 
dwelling in them as a spiritual fact was authenticated be- 
yond the possibility of doubt by its extraordinary manifes- 
tations in the case of the demoniacs of the New Testament. 
To all this must be added that, in that pregnant passage 
which spans the history of time, the contest betwixt light 
and darkness — betwixt the children of God and the im^ieni- 
tent — is described as a contest betwixt two opposing armies, 
the heads and leaders of which are the Seed of the woman 
and the Scrjient. This passage teaches us, too, that the 
kingdom of darkness is not a series of occasional insurrec- 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 79 

tions, but an organized conspiracy of evil. Its deeds of 
wickedness are not sudden, spasmodic, extemporaneous 
eifusions of desperate and impotent malice ; they are parts 
of a plan, a great, comprehensive scheme, conceived by a 
master mind and adjusted with exquisite skill, for extin- 
guishing the glory of God. The consolidated empire for so 
many centuries of Paganism, the persecuting edicts of im- 
. , perial Rome, the rise and brilliant suc- 

An organized sys- a ' 

tern of evil in the ccss of Mohanimedauism, the corruptions 
of the Papacy, and the widespread deso- 
lations of modern infidelity, can never be adequately under- 
stood without contemplating them as parts of an organized 
system of evil, of which the gigantic intellect of the devil 
is the author, while men have been the guilty and unwit- 
ting instruments. They have answered his ends and played 
obsequiously into his hands, while they vainly supposed 
that they were accomplishing purposes of their own. He 
has, in his sphere, a providence in imitation of that of God, 
and to this providence his children and subjects are adroitly 
moulded. They take their place and act their part under 
his superintending eye. 

The ultimate design of Satan in all his machinations is to 
-,, ^ . , „ , insult the majesty of God. A liar from 

The design of Satan J *' 

as to God, and as to the beginning, his first lie was a blasphemy, 
and every other has been like unto it. 
His great aim, in reference to man, is to transfuse into the 
human soul his own views of the Divine character, works 
and government. His ready access to our faculties, his in- 
timate union with us by virtue of our native depravity, 
his familiar acquaintance with the laws of our being, his 
long experience and his angelic skill, render it easy for him 
to insinuate his own thoughts and impart his own spirit to 
the minds of those whom grace has not rescued from his 
hands. Where he cannot destroy he perverts and cor- 
rupts. As he cannot extinguish reason, and therefore can- 
not utterly eiface the general sense of a superior power, he 
exerts his ingenuity to distort all the elements of reason, 

80 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

understanding, conscience and religion into vehicles of slan- 
derous impressions of God. As we must have a God and 
a religion, he will take care that the God whom we acknow- 
ledge shall be unworthy of respect, and the religion which 
we j)rofcss a disgrace to our nature. AVith such a teacher, 
and with such hearts as ours have been rendered liy the 
fall, it is no wonder that men have everywhere come short 
of the glory of God and changed it into an image made 
like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts 
and creeping things. 

It is a fearful truth that our nature is in such intimate 

alliance with the Devil. But there is 

Nothing incredible j^^thing incrcdiblc in it. If there be a 

in all this. o 

spiritual world and we are spiritual be- 
ings, that world must touch us in some points. God's works 
are not disjointed and isolated. All is dependent upon each, 
and each is dependent upon all. The eternal throne is the 
only independent thing in the universe. That spirit can be 
present to spirit is manifest from the daily intercourse of 
life, from the power of friendship, and especially from the 
ties of the family. That spirit can enter into actual union 
with spirit is apparent from the fundamental facts of re- 
demption. Christ is in us aiid we in Him, and God in 
both. Believers, too, are one with each other. The union 
of Satan with the world is not the same in kind with the 
union of Christ and His people ; it is only analogous to it. 
He is not our sin in the full sense that Christ is our life. 
He has no creative power, but he is our tempter, our 
seducer, an ever-present prompter of evil to our thoughts 
and hearts, an ever-present sophist to disarm truth of its 
point and to commend falsehood to our embrace. To say 
that all this is mysterious is to say nothing to the point. 
The soul is a mystery, thought itself is a mystery, all know- 
ledge begins and ends in mystery. The moral history of 
man, whether with respect to the fall or redemption, loses 
itself in clouds of mystery which no understanding can 
penetrate but the infinite understanding of God. It is for 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 81 

us to accept the facts, however their explanations transcend 
our faculties. 

2. While, however, man's ignorance of God is to be 
largely attributed to the craft and sophistry of the Devil, 
we are not to forget the human side of the phenomenon, and 
construe ourselves into innocent victims and dupes. We 
have already said that Satan does no violence to the liberty 
or faculties of man. He avails himself of the constitution 
of our own nature, and especially of our depravity as fallen 
beings. He gives an impetus and direction to our own 
spontaneous tendencies. His power is purely moral. Apart 
from our corruption he can only annoy ; he cannot deceive. 
To understand, therefore, the immediate cause of man's mis- 
representations of God, we must consider the power of de- 
pravity as a law of abnormal develop- 
^^^in, a iseasem e j-^g^^ -^ ^j^g goul. As a pcrvadiug State 

it has a necessary tendency to distort the 
faculties from their legitimate bent and expression. It is to 
the mind what disease is to the body. Holiness, on the 
other hand, is health, and communion with God, life and 
power. We might as reasonably expect that the secretions 
of the animal system should go on comfortably and smoothly 
amidst the heat and agony of a fever, as expect sound con- 
clusions in relation to Divine subjects from a reason to which 
Gocl is not present as the Father of lights. Sin is as really 
blindness to the mind as it is hardness to the heart, and the 
soul under the dominion of sin must be turned aside from 
the normal evolution of its real and original tendencies. 
Its activities, however intense and vigorous, must be set in 
the wrong direction. It is a great error to imagine that 
depravity confines its mischief to the heart, or to those fac- 
ulties which are immediately conversant about the distinc- 
tions of right and wrong. Its seat is the 

It extends to all our i jj. ' ^ i i_ i c 

p^^^j,,.g soul, and not any smgle department of our 

spiritual nature, and as disease extends its 

influence to all the functions of the body, so sin extends to 

all the powers and faculties of our being. In sin, therefore. 

Vol. L— 6 

82 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

as the disturbance of the normal exercise of our faculties, as 
distorting and perverting our energies, as a law of abnormal 
development, we see a cause that is adequate to explain 
the phenomenon in question. But this general view is 
not sufficient to content our thoughts. We look abroad 
upon the world, and as we contemplate 

A more partinilar .■> •pi-ir> n t • ,i 

statement neoUfui. ^he manitold lorms 01 religious error, the 
various superstitions, the disgusting rites 
of worship, the monstrous and hideous symbols of the 
Godhead, and the cruel penances and gross immoralities 
which prevail in heathen lands — when we consider all the 
abominations which have long passed and still pass under 
the sacred name of worship — we wish to see how these errors 
have been engendered, and how they have been propagated 
and spread. It does not satisfy us to trace them to sin in 
the general. That does not explain how these errors rather 
than others have arisen. We want to know tlie causes 
which have set the human mind in these particular direc- 
tions. We desire to see the forms which sin has assumed in 
producing these disastrous effects. The general notion of 
depravity already contains in it the notion that man must 
be ignorant of God, but there must be special influences 
of depravity to account for the enormous lies which have 
taken the nartie of truth, and the awful blasphemies which 
have taken the name of worship. 

We do not pretend to be able to indicate the immediate 
origin of all the errors that prevail. That would require an 
amount of learning, an amount of philosophy and an amount 
of historical detail altogether unsuited, even if we possessed 
them, to lectures like these. Our task is humbler and more 
limited. We propose to illustrate how" de- 
dcpnivuy!' ^^^^"^^ °^ pravity enters as a disturbing and pervert- 
ing element into the sphere of speculation, 
and gives rise to false gods ; how it enters into the sphere 
of morality, and corrupts the first principles of duty ; and 
how it enters into the sphere of worship, and converts the 
temple of God into the abode of monsters. Man never 

Lect. III.] man's natural IGNORANCE OF GOD. 83 

degrades God until he has first degraded himself, and the 
degradation of God keeps pace with the degradation of him- 
self. He must become unnatural before he can have an un- 
natural religion. 

(1.) Let us examine, first, the influence of depravity upon 
the speculative knowledge of God. This 

Its influence on the • ^ ^ • -t n ^ ^ t lj.j' 

speculative knowledge IS the kiud 01 kuowlcdgc Contemplated m a 
of God through the gyg^gj^ ^f gound philosophv or metaphvsics. 

reason. •' i i ^ i ^ 

It is the knowledg-e which results from the 
application of the law of causation to the phenomena of ex- 
perience. This species of knowledge, one would think, 
being so accessible, lying so near to our faculties, ought to 
be sound and true ; and yet it is always erroneous, defective 
and debasing when not corrected by Divine revelation. 
]N'ow, in this sphere, sin first appears in the form of vain 

speculations. Those speculations are vain 

Tanity of mind. i • i i • i i i 

which relate to questions that transcend the 
scope of our faculties — which undertake to comprehend the 
incomprehensible and to carry knowledge beyond its first 
principles. The creature, as dependent and finite, can never 
hope to compass an absolute knowledge of any thing. In- 
telligence begins with principles that must be accepted and 
not explained ; and in applying these principles to the phe- 
nomena of experience, apparent contradictions constantly 
emerge that require patience and further knowledge to re- 
solve them. But the mind, anxious to know all and restless 
under doubt and uncertainty, is tempted to renounce the first 
principles of reason and to contradict the facts which it daily 
observes. It seeks consistency of thought, and rather than 
any gaps shall be left unfilled, it plunges every thing into 
hopeless confusion. Instead of accepting the laws of intelli- 
gence, and patiently following the light of reason, and sub- 
mitting to ignorance where ignorance is the lot of his nature, 
as limited and finite, and joyfully receiving the partial 
knowledge which is his earthly inheritance, man, under the 
impulse of curiosity, had rather make a world that he does 
understand than admit one which he cannot comprehend. 

84 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. Ill, 

When he cannot stretch himself to the infinite dimensions 

of truth, he contracts truth to his own little measure. This 

is what the Apostle means by vanity of mind. To illustrate 

it by an example : Reason asks, and asks 

Example. it-) 

very properly, vV hence came the world '. 
The law of causation, an original and therefore an incompre- 
hensible faith — a principle to be accepted, not proved — 
answers that it was created. Curiosity asks : How is it pos- 
sible that a thing can be created out of nothing ? and because 
it cannot comprehend the mystery of the commencement of 
being, it fancies a contradiction in the notion of creation, and 
then denies the original principle of faith, which positively 
affirms that God is a Creator. It must know all, or it will 
know nothing. Apparent contradictions, accepted as real, 
force it upon hypotheses which the primitive data of intelli- 
gence do not justify, and which, therefore, must be false. 
So with the immortality of the soul. It is an elementary 
principle of reason, a spontaneous and 

Another example. n • ^ o i ^ t\ 

necessary faith oi the human race. But 
instead of accepting it as a fact as certain as our conscious- 
ness, and waiting for further light to solve the mysteries 
which comj)ass it, .vain speculation undertakes to reconcile it 
with the double fact of the unity of man as compounded of 
soul and body, and the dissolution of the body ; and because 
it fails to make thought consistent with itself, denies what 
its own nature intuitively affirms. It pronounces immor- 
tality to be impossible, because the identity of man depends 
upon the coexistence of soul and body, and the body un- 
questionably perishes. The problem in all speculation is 
harmony of view ; thought must be consistent with itself. 
Aiming at this ideal, a creature of imperfect knowledge 
must often be tempted to deny the plainest truths, because 
it cannot see how they are to be made to correspond with 
other truths which are equally indisputable. Difficulties 
appear as contradictions, and as the mind cannot think at 
all but in obedience to the laws of identity and contradiction, 
these difficulties must lead it into serious and fatal error. 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 85 

But were the reason sound and healthful, it would perceive 
at once that there could be no contradiction in the case — 
that things equally proved to be true must be harmonious ; 
and it would instantly resolve all further perplexity into its 
ignorance, and wait patiently for more light. In this im- 
patience to compass consistency of thought, 

This vanity of mind, ^ • j j coufusiou aS tO the boUudaricS 

proof of tlie disturbing 

power of Bin, and the of faith and spcculatiou, there is proof of 

fruitful source of error .it.i- /»• -r, • i •, 

in relation to God, the disturbing power 01 sm. it IS depravity 
which so perverts the soul as to make it 
violate the laws of its own constitution and the essential 
conditions of knowledge. In its normal state it would see 
at once that none of its original beliefs could be questioned, 
and that any speculation which leads to such a result must 
be suicidal. This vanity of mind is a fruitful source of error 
in relation to God. It may not only deny Him as Creator, 
but it may deny the very law upon which His existence, as 
a first cause, is demonstrated. It may find contradictions in 
the law, if extended beyond the world of phenomena, and 
conclude that there is no bridge between the visible and the 
invisible. It may find in finite and contingent being the 
grounds of its own phenomena, and thus preclude the neces- 
sity of going beyond the world for the solution of its mys- 
teries. For examples of this vanity we need not go back to 
the ancient philosophers. We have them in our own age 
and at our own doors. The very same 

in our own age as well ,iir> i,- ^ • ^ • ' i 

as of old. method oi speculation which m ancient 

times made matter eternal and reduced 
God to the level of the finite and conditioned, has, in modern 
times, denied with equal confidence the possibility of creation, 
and reduced God to a substance without attributes or a being 
without determinations. He has been degraded to a level 
with nothing, or treated as merely the infinite possibility of 

The root of this vanity is most certainly pride. Man is 

The root of it is unwilliug to acknowledge his condition as 

P'''^^- one of only partial knowledge. He is 

86 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

hence reluctant to comply with the terms upon which alone 
any solid knowledge is attainable. In the eifort to be omni- 
scient he trangresses the laws of thought, and the consequence 
of intellectual transgression is no less fatal in the sphere of 
speculation than of moral transgression in the sphere of duty. 
He is struck with blindness, his foolish heart is darkened. 
It is this same pride which kept the world for so many 
^„ , , ., centuries ignorant of the true method of 

Effects of pnue up- o 

on philosophy in the philosophy. That mctliod is only a state- 
''''^* ' ment of the form and limits of our know- 

ledge, and as long as man was not content to restrict him- 
self within those limits ; as long as he aspired to compass 
in his thought the essential nature and properties of being 
and the whole system of the universe, he was left to blunder 
as a fit retribution for his presumption. It was not weak- 
ness, it was pride, that seduced him from the way of truth. 
Pride, in the sense of self-independence and self-sufficiency, 
is the very core of sin, and it was but a development of its 
real spirit and temper when man undertook to make his 
own understanding the absolute measure of truth. We are 
apt to represent the aberrations of philosophy as springing 
from infirmity, from the want of proper guides or suitable 
helps, like the mistakes of a child in its first effi)rts to walk. 
But this is an error ; the law of truth is in man's reason, 
and if he errs it is because he presumptuously overlooks, 
denies or despises it. He has the guide, but will not fol- 
low it. His vain speculations are in defiance of, and not 
in obedience to, the intellectual laws of his own constitution, 
and his errors are at once sins and judgments. 

We have seen how vanity of mind superinduces a denial 
of the primitive cognitions of reason, and plunges specula- 
tion into regions inaccessible to our faculties, or sets man on 
efforts to attain a species of knowledge which is not adapted 
to his nature. To this may be added the 
^^crotchetsforprinci- ^^.^^^^^^^^3 ^^ ^cccpt crotchcts for princi- 
ples, and analogies for inductions, upon 
slight and accidental grounds — grounds of superficial plans- 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 87 

ibility or apparent competency to explain a given class of 
phenomena. These false maxims, once admitted, work mis- 
chief in the whole extent of their application. If accepted 
as universal truths, they must convert philosophy into a 
vast collection of delusions. Take, for example, the 
crotchet that in all knowledge there must be a resemblance 
between the immediate object and the mind — that the soul 
can cognize only through something analogous to itself — 
and you have at once the foundation of an absolute system 
of idealism. You deny the possibility of an immediate 
perception of matter — an immediate knowledge of any things 
but our own thoughts — and the step is easy from the denial of 
the knowledge of the external world to the denial of its exist- 
ence, and then the progress is natural to universal skepticism. 
Another element which must be taken into the account 
in estimatino; the tendency of sin to per- 

Influence of sin upon ~ j i. 

speculation through vcrt spcculatiou is tlic irrcgular influence 

the imagination. r>. -j.- r\ "D^Tlx Ij. 

ot imagination. Our iiiugnsh translators 
seem to have regarded Paul as particularly signalizing this 
faculty as the seat of vanity ; " they became vain in their hn- 
ax/inations." Butler styles it a " forward delusive faculty." 
Its true office is to be a handmaid to the understanding, 
vivifying its conceptions and imparting a glow of life and 

beauty to the knowledge of nature. It is 

The true office of ,i -i • ,i i i • i, i.' 

thisfticuitv "^^ medium through which our emotions 

are excited in the absence of their appro- 
priate objects. By imagination we mean not simply the 
power of vividly representing to the mind the objects of its 
past perceptions or of its present thoughts, but that combi- 
nation with other faculties by virtue of which new forms 
and new objects are created. It is by virtue of this faculty, 
in this sense, that theories in science are constructed from 
remote analogies — that accidents give intensity to the con- 
ception of particular objects, and make them the centre of 
associations which exist only in the heated mind. Taken 
in this sense, we may say with Hunie,^ that " nothing is 
^ Treat. Human Nat. b. i., p. iv., ? 7. 

88 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

more dangerous to reason than the flights of unagination, 

and nothing has been the occasion of more mistakes among 

, ., philosophers. Men of bright fancies may, 

Delineation of its ••■ •■• '-> •' ' 

influence wiieu per- in this rcspcct, bc Compared to those an- 
gels whom the Scriptures represent as cov- 
ering their eyes with their wings." The influence of im- 
agination in perverting speculation appears in the tendency 
to frame an hypothesis from slight and accidental coinci- 
dences. The imagination represents the connected things 
so vividly that we are tempted to cognize the connection as 
a necessary part of themselves. Hence the substitution of 
fancied for real causes; hence superstition substituted in 
the place of j)hilosophy ; hence arise the arts of magic and 
the belief of prodigies and signs. We can see how, through 
the irregular influence of the imagination, objects that have 
become strongly associated with our joys and sorrows may 
be invested with attributes that do not belong to them ; as, 
for example, the vegetable, the mineral, the beast, that from 
some accidental circumstance has been the occasion of im- 
j^arting to us a valued good or delivering us from a dreaded 
evil. The object henceforward becomes the centre in our 
minds of a whole class of associations waked up by the 
vividness of our emotions. We insensibly attribute to it 
intelligence and design, and end by making it a god. The 
imagination takes the place of reason, and attributes to the 
fancied cause all the properties and attributes of the real 
Author of our blessings. In the same way natural objects 
become centres of thoughts awakened by disgust, and end 
in being made the personal objects of hatred and contempt. 
The causes which first set the fancy to work in particular 
directions it is impossible to specify. Here Satan has a 
commanding field of operation. But the fancy once set to 
work we can readily perceive how the facts 

Key to polytheism. . i , i i c l^ 

of experience and the phenomena ot nature 
can be completely transformed. We have the key to the 
polytheism which has prevailed in all heatlien lands. We 
know the forge in which its innumerable gods have been 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 89 

made. We know the author of their various attributes and 
works. Now, here is a pregnant proof of the disturbing 
power of sin. A faculty which God intended to be a hand- 
maid and minister is made the guide of our nature. Rea- 
son takes the place of a subordinate, and man creates by the 
same process both worlds and gods for himself. Here, too, 
we see the same principle of pride — the exaltation of his 
own being. He makes and unmakes ; he becomes creator 
and Lord ; he becomes the supreme God of all. 

Combine now these two causes, a perverted reason and a 
perverted imagination ; replace the laws of belief by ground- 
less crotchets, and picture the world in the colours of fancy ; 
let false principles and a lively imagination unite their re- 
sources, and let the end be consistency of thought in a 
scheme of the universe ; and we have a key to human delu- 
sions in the sphere of speculation. We can see the door 
through which sin introduces the prolific progeny of error, 
superstition, witchcraft, sorcery, idolatry and even athe- 
ism itself. 

(2.) But we proceed to signalize another form in which 
sin still more fearfully perverts the nature 

The perverting in- *' ■■■ 

fluciice of sin in the aud character of God. It is through the 

sphere of morals, • n c m • itt i 

iniiuence ol an evil conscience. We do 
not propose to consider the manner in which depravity dis- 
torts our moral judgments themselves, often leading us in 
speculation to question the first principles of right or to 
resolve them into modifications of pleasure and pain. We 
do not allude to its power in misleading its victims in the 
estimate of their own character, or in blinding the mind to 
the atrocity of particular instances of wickedness. The 
. „ . , ,. point we have in view is to illustrate the 

especially in relation i 

to the character of tcudcncy of a pervcrtcd conscience to mis- 
represent the nature and character of God. 
McCosh^ has strikingly illustrated what he calls " an attract- 
ing and repelling principle" in the religious life of our fallen 
race. " First, there is a feeling in man," says he, " prompt- 
' Divine Government, p. 44. 

90 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. ni. 

ing him to seek God, if haply he may find him. Transient 
feelings of gratitude, the fear of danger, the keen sense of 
sin, the fear of punishment, all these would draw or drive 
him into the presence of God." After enumerating the cir- 
cumstances under which this feeling conspicuously operates, 
he proceeds to mention that " there is also a repelling prin- 
ciple, and it is the latter which is so very mysterious. It is 
a fact — and the explanation is to be found in an evil con- 
science — that there is something in human nature which 
would drive man away from his ISIaker. When his better 
feelings would prompt him to fall down before God, a hand 
from behind is felt to be holding him back, and he hesitates 
and procrastinates till the time for action is over." To the 
action and reaction of these opposite principles he traces the 

" strange contradictions of the human soul " 
thotrir '"^ in relation to_ religion. "It is drawn to 

God, and yet it is repelled from God when 
it comes near him, as the electrified ball is repelled as soon 
as it comes in contact with the object which attracted it. 
Man is constrained to acknowledge God, and constrained to 
tremble before the God whom he acknowledges. He would 
escape from God only to feel that he is chained to him by 
bonds which he cannot break. He would flee fi"om God, 
but feels himself helpless as the charmed bird with the eye 
of the serpent fixed upon it. He would go forth like Cain 
from the presence of the Lord, but he has God's mark upon 
him, and is still under his eye in all his wanderings. He 
would flee from the presence of God, like the rebellious 
projihet, into a region of thought and feeling where the re- 
membrance of God can never trouble him, but it is only to 
find himself brought back by restraints laid upon him. In 
his conduct toward his God there is prostration and yet 
rebellion ; there is assurance and yet there is terror. When 
he refuses to worship God, it is from mingled pride and 
alarm ; when he worships God, it is from the same feelings ; 
and the worship which he spontaneously pays is a strange 
mixture of presumption and slavish fear. Hence, the vibrat- 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 91 

ing movements of the world's religious history. Under 
this double influence, attractive and repulsive, man's eccen- 
tric orbit is not so much like that of the planets, with their 
equable motion and temperature, as like that of the comets, 
now approaching, as it were, within the scorching beams of 
the central heat and light, and again driven away into the 
utmost and coldest regions of space, and seeming as if they 
were let loose from all central and restraining influence." 

To appreciate the result produced by the joint operation 
of these two principles, so happily signalized by McCosh, it 
must be borne in mind that the attraction is without love, 
and the repulsion without reverence. The sympathies which 
draw men to God do not spring from any sense of the Divine 
excellence or any apprehension of the Divine glory. There 
is nothing approximating to a spirit of fellowship. Their 
needs and their burdens, their weaknesses and dangers, or 
the transient play of emotions upon sudden occasions of 
benefits received or ills averted, — these are the cords which 
attract us to our Maker. In the effort to escape from God 
guilt is the predominant controlling motive. \Ye fear and 
tremble, but we are not awed into any just 

Fearing, yet hating, . . 

reverence lor His majesty, or any just con- 
ception of the sanctity of His justice. We hate while we 

When now we call to mind that a man seeks harmony in 
his conscience as well as in his speculations — that he is as 
anxious to be at peace with himself in the reflections which 
he makes upon his own life and character as to be sensible 
of mutual consistency and coherence in his philosophical in- 
quiries — we can easily perceive that an evil conscience must 
evil conscience ^^ ^ perpetual sourcc of false representations 
must misrepresent of God. Whcn guilt raulvlcs iu tlic brcast, 
the man blasphemes the justice of his Judge. 
His self-love will prompt hira to stigmatize the punishment 
of himself as remorseless cruelty ; and taking the hue of liis 
own feelings, he will clothe God in colours of blood. He 
will become a monster who must be avoided or appeased. 

92 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. Ill, 

Hence those savage religions which startle as much by the 
ferocity of their rites as by the enormous blasphemy of their 
doctrines. Or, when the rites of propitiation are less revolt- 
ing, they still lead to a degradation of God by figuring Him 
as a being who can be bribed, wheedled or cajoled. A 
guilty conscience, unwilling to relinquish its iniquities and 
yet anxious to be delivered from apprehensions of punish- 
ment, prompts a man to represent the Deity as subject to 
the weaknesses and follies of humanity. The whole system 
of worship is projected upon the principle of ministering to 
the vanity of the Almighty. As His justice is regarded as 
personal revenge, the satisfoction of that justice consists in 
soothing His wounded pride. God is to be flattered and 
caressed with external marks of submission and esteem ; He 
is to be flattered or insulted accordingly as He conducts Him- 
self well or ill to the worshipper. The real spirit of idola- 
trous worship, as a spirit of bribery, flattery and deceit, is 
seen in the manner in which the heathen were accustomed 
to treat their gods when they refused to succour them in 
times of distress. Thucydides tells us that during the 
prevalence of the plague in Athens the temples and images 
and altars were entirely deserted and religion treated with 
contempt, because their prayers had not been successful in 
staying the progress of the pestilence. " The ancient Egyp- 
tians," says McCosh, " in times of severe national distress, 
took their sacred animals to a secret place and put them to 
death, and threatened their gods that if the calamity did 
not pass away they would disclose the mysteries of Isis or 
expose the members of Osiris to Typhon. Augustus re- 
venged himself for the loss of his fleet by storms on two 
several occasions, by forbidding the statue of Neptune to be 
carried in the procession of the gods." Conscience fills the 
mind with prejudices against the nature and character of 
God, as a personal insult to ourselves fills our hearts with 
prejudices against the man, however excellent in himself, 
who has mortified our self-respect. We cannot judge rightly 
of one whom we hate and one whom we fear. In this way 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 93 

the guilty are betrayed into the most insulting reproaches 
of their Maker, The being whom their fears picture is a 
strange and hideous combination of malice, of weakness and 
of vanity. No wonder that under the united influence of 
guilt, self-love and the power of sin, under the united in- 
fluence of an evil conscience and of evil passions, men have 
made to themselves a God whom it is a shame to worship. 
When to these causes we add the force of imagination, when 
we give it impetus and energy by the very intensity of the 
feelings, we have the key to the monsters which, under the 
name of deities, have accelerated that degradation of the 
species in which they took their origin. Here we have the 
The true solution of truc solutiou of supcrstitiou and will-wor- 
Bupeistition and will- ship, whether they appear in forms of 
cruelty and blood, or in the softer shapes 
of flattery and pretended praise. These same causes also 
lead to a bold denial of providence. The repulsive principle 
drives off all thoughts of God and the Divine government ; 
and it is even made a proof of His dignity and blessedness 
that He takes no interest in the affairs of men. If He exist 
at all. He exists in solitary selfishness, and never permits 
His eternal slumbers to be broken by such petty concerns as 
the acts or fortunes of His creatures. He is despoiled of 
His providence in compliment to His majesty. The Epi- 
curean, in his refusal to worship, illustrates, only in a differ- 
ent way, the same low thought of God as a victim of vanity, 
which the devotee of superstition carries out in his deceitful 
homage. Thus it comes to pass that none know God. The 
Ajjostle touches the core of the difficulty when he traces it 
to their invincible repugnance to give Him the glory which 
is His due. They refuse Him the love to which His infinite 
holiness is entitled. His light departs from the soul; it 
henceforward gropes in darkness ; stumbles at the first prin- 
ciples of truth ; enthrones imagination as the regulative 
measure of thought ; and when roused by a guilty conscience 
and evil passions gives us a being whom it would be our 
honour to despise. The heart begins in malice, and ends 

94 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

by the creation of a Deity who is a fit subject for that 

(3.) We have now seen how conscience, in the bosom of a 
sinner, becomes a fruitful source of ignorance and mistake in 
relation to God. We have seen how it crouches and flatters — 
how it seeks to purchase peace by rites and sacrifices that 
involve any suffering but that of the crucifixion of sin. But 
there is a principle which prompts man to worship some- 
thing as an object in which it can find complacency. It is 
not content with distant homage ; it wants something in 
which it can feel that there is a mutual sympathy with 
itself — something which shall take the place of that commu- 
nion with God which constitutes the essence of true religion. 
The perverting in- ^his principle of worship or of fellowship 
fluence of sin in the -with God, uudcr tlic pcrvcrtlng influcncc 

sphere of worship. r» • i i i • • i /» • 

oi sm, becomes an additional source of ig- 
norance and error. The God whom it seeks cannot be found. 
The living God has retired ; He has left the soul to dark- 
ness and solitude. Hence a substitute must be found, and 
the result is the invention of images as symbols of a presence 
whij3h is no longer real. We imitate communion by the 
embrace of the idol. We transfer to it the sentiments of 
reverence which we profess for God, and by a natural de- 
lusion we impart to it a fictitious consciousness of our rev- 
erence and respect. This want of a present God, and this 
determination to make Him present, have no doubt exerted 
a wide influence in the inventions of idolatry. The reaction 
of the image upon the mind of the worshipper, in depressing 
his religious knowledge, is too obvious to require illustration. 
This seems to have been also the opinion of Calvin^ as to 
the origin of idolatry : " That idolatry has its origin in the 
idea which men have that God is not present with them 
unless His presence is carnally exhibited, appears from the 
example of the Israelites. Up, said they, make us gods 
which shall go before us ; for as for this Moses, the man 
that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not 
^ Instit. Lib. I., c. xi., § 8. , 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 95 

what is become of him. (Ex. xxxii. 1.) They knew, 
indeed, that there was a God, whose power they had ex- 
perienced in so many miracles, but they had no confidence 
of His being near to them, if they did not Avith tlieir eyes 
behold a corporeal symbol of His presence as an attestation 
to His actual government. They desired, therefore, to be 
assured by the image which went before them that they 
were journeying under Divine guidance. And daily expe- 
rience shows that the flesh is always restless, until it has 
obtained some figment like itself with which it may vainly 
solace itself as a representation of God. In consequence of 
this blind passion, men have, almost in all ages since the 
world began, set up signs on which they imagined that God 
was visibly depicted to their eyes." According to this view 
idolatry is a confession that God has departed. It is the 
effort of human presumption to countervail the consequences 
of His absence, or rather the invention of human pride to 
do without Him. It is literally bringing Him down to us. 
The account which has now been given of the causes of 
man's ignorance and errors in relation to 

These views con- r^ i . , i • i ,i 

firmed by Paul, ^OQ sccms to me to DC preciscly the same 

as that which Paul has given in the pas- 
sage from his Epistle to the Romans, already cited. The 
root of the evil was the depravity of their hearts, manifested 
in their refusal to glorify God as God. They had no real 
love to His name, they saw no beauty in His holiness, and 
felt no sympathy with His glory. They were destitute of 
true religion. Instead of contemplating the Divine Being 
%vith reverence, gratitude and delight, they became vain in 
their reasonings — in their speculations upon his nature, his 
attributes and his relations to the creatures. Sin appears in 
the understanding as a principle of vanity, and, in leading 
men to deny the first principles of intelligence, makes their 
minds cease to be intelligent. Their unintelligent heart was 
darkened. Intelligence in its fundamental laws being sub- 
verted, men become a prey to their passions, their fancies, 
their prejudices and their fears, and pass through all the 

96 man's natueal ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

stages of religious degradation until they make themselves 
as vile as the gods they have invented. 

Substantially the same is the teaching of Solomon, that 
God hath made men upright, but they have 

and by Solomon. . . 

sought out many inventions. ihe word 
translated inventions has special reference to the subtleties 
of vain speculation. It is applied (2 Chron. xxvi. 15) to 
" the engines invented by cunning men" introduced by 
Uzziah into Jerusalem, "to be on the towers and on the 
bulwarks to shoot arrows and great stones withal." It ex- 
actly expresses, as Hengstenberg suggests, " those so often 
plausible and brilliant reasonings of the natural under- 
standing which perplex the heart and lead away from the 
wisdom that is from above ; those speculations of a heart 
turned away from God, which are perpetually penetrating 
into the Church from the world; those profane and vain 
babblings and oppositions of science, falsely so called, 
against which the apostle utters his warning in 1 Tim. 
vi'. 20." Hengstenberg very justly adds : " Since the fall, 
man has forgotten that he should, in the first instance, take 
up a receptive position in relation to the wisdom that is 
from above, and that such a position is the only right one ; 
but instead of that he goes hunting after his own phantastic 
and high-flown thoughts. The only way of throwing off 
this severe disease, and of escaping from the bonds of one's 
own thoughts and imaginations, is to unlearn the serpent's 
lesson, ' Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil ;' to re- 
turn to our dependence on God ; to renounce all self-acquired 
knowledge ; and leaving all our own fancies and conclusions 
to sink in Lethe's stream, to accept the Divine teachings 
alone, according to our Lord's saying in Matt. xi. 25 : ' I 
thank thee, O Father, that Thou hast hid these things from 
the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.' " ^ 
If we have succeeded in exhibiting the real causes of re- 
ligious error and perverseness — if we have shown that there 
is a disturbing power in sin which hinders and counteracts the 
' Comment on Eccles. vii. 29. 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 97 

normal development of reason, the religious condition of the 
world, however low and revolting, has no tendency to diminish 
the arguments which the light of nature affords to the being 
and attributes of God. That which may be known of God 
is clearly manifested, though men may put a veil upon their 
eyes and refuse to see it. They may shroud themselves in 
the darkness of their corruptions, but the light shines around 
them notwithstanding their blindness. To prove that 
human ignorance upon this subject is universal is only to 
prove that corruption is universal. The effects must be 
coextensive with the operation of the cause. In the sense 
of nature as created, all may and ought to know God ; in 
the sense of nature as corrupted, practical atheism is our 
sad inheritance. 

II. But if man in his fallen and degenerate condition 
could yet compass a just speculative know- 

The profounder igno- it r r^ t ii" j.j-1 

ranee of man's heart. l^dgC of God aud hlS government, there IS 

a profounder ignoraiice which would still 
settle upon his heart. This speculative knowledge is largely 
attained in countries which are distinguished by the light 
of the Christian revelation. The humblest peasants are 
familiar with truths of which Plato and Aristotle had no 
glimpse. They are sound upon questions which distract, 
perplex, torment, confound the understandings of presump- 
tuous sophists. They know that God is an eternal, inde- 
pendent, personal Spirit ; that He made the heavens and the 
earth ; that He governs all creatures and all their actions ; 
and that He is infinitely good as He is infinitely great. But, 
with all this knowledge, they yet fail to glorify Him as God. 
They want that loving light which warms as well as con- 
vinces. They want the beams of that beauty and glory 
which shall make them love and adore. They have no 

communion with Him. Sin, as the nega- 

Sin Winds us to the ,• /» .i i-n /• /^ i • . i i p 

glory there is in God. ^^^^ ^^ ^'^^ l^^G of God lU thc SOul of man, 

is a principle of blindness to all that in 
God which makes Him an object of delighted worship. 
Corrupted nature can never give birth to a single affection 
Vol. I.— 7 

98 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

which is truly religious. Depravity seals the man against 
all the energies which are involved in genuine holiness. In 
order to this spiritual, vivifying Divine knowledge, there 
must be an influence from above, opening our blind eyes 
and touching our wayward hearts ; and in order to this in- 
fluence there must be redemption, atonement, reconciliation 
with God. The cross is the only place where men can 
truly find God, and the incarnate Redeemer the only being 
in whom a sinner can adequately know Him. Apart from 
the mediation of Christ there is and can be no real godli- 
ness in any portion of our fallen race. All had gone astray, 
and all were perishing upon the dark mountains of error. 
Still, though the speculative knowledge of God can pro- 
indirect benefit, ^lucc uo truc rcligiou, it docs always pro- 
froni the mere specula- ducc an amendment of public manners. It 

tive knowledge of God. . . . • i • 

drives away superstition with its cruel and 
its deceitful rites ; it elevates the standard of general moral- 
ity ; and, if it does not make man intrinsically better, it 
makes him externally more decent. The morality of Chris- 
tian nations is far in advance of that of heathenism in its 
palmiest days. Crimes to which Athens and Rome attached 
no stigma — the unnatural lusts which were there indulged 
without shame — dare not confront the public opinion of any 
Christian state. Speculative knowledge gives a right di- 
rection to the conscience ; restraining influences are multi- 
plied, even where sanctifying grace is not felt. Read Paul's 
appalling description of the civilized heathen society of his 
day, and you will be sensible, at once, of the prodigious 
change which Christianity, as an external institute, has 
wrought in the manners of the people among whom it is re- 
ceived. The crimes which he mentions would be driven in 
Britain and America to cover themselves with the darkness 
of night and hide their heads in holes and corners. It is 
not that men are intrinsically better; they are only less 
wicked. It is not that their hearts are changed, but Chris- 
tianity has hemmed them in with restraints. They love 
God no more now than in the days of Nero ; but their depravity 


Lect. Ill], man's natural ignorance of god. 99 

has been tiirnecl into other channels, and moral forces are 

combined to repress their lusts, of which the heathen never 

had a notion. The Gospel, therefore, is an immense bless- 

„, „ , „ ins;, even where it does not communicate 

The Gospel exalts o' 

where it may not re- salvatiou. It cxalts man where it does not 
redeem him. It sets moral powers to work 

which are mighty in their effects, even though they fail to 

reach the seat of the disease. 

III. A question now remains which in a mawkish and 
skeptical age deserves to be thoroughly un- 

Heathenism : a mis- i x j j.i x* • j.i 1 

fortune or a crime ? dcrstood— the qucstioii conceming the moral 
estimate which should be put upon the 
errors and superstitions of those who are destitute of the 
light of revelation. There are many who represent hea- 
thenism as a misfortune and not a crime, and exhibit its 
victims as objects of pity and not of indignation. Men have 
gone so far as to maintain that the primitive condition of 
man was one of rudeness and ignorance, and that the various 
superstitions of the world have been successive steps in the 
progressive education of the race. The abominations of 
idolatry are the innocent mistakes of childhood. It has been 
further alleged that they are sincere in their worship, and 
as they honestly aim to pay homage to His name, God will 
graciously accept the will for the deed. These and all 
similar apologies are guilty of a fundamental error. They 
mistake the real secret of man's ignorance of God. So far 
are the heathen from feeling after Him w^th any real desire 
to find Him in His true character, that the grand purpose 
of their inventions is to insult and degrade Him, and to 
reign supreme in His place. Looked at in its true light, 
heathenism is a crime, or rather a combination of crimes, so 
enormous and aggravated that the marvel is how a God of 
infinite justice and purity could endure it for a single day. 
Its mother is sin and its daughter is death. In judging of 
it, men imperceptibly lose sight of the fact that the heathen 
are men like themselves, rational, moral, religious ; that they 
have a nature in all respects like ours — the same primitive 

100 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. Ill, 

cognitions, the same laws of belief, the same conscience in 
its fundamental commands, and the same instinct for personal 
communion and worship. Their constitution, as spiritual, 
responsible beings, in no respect differs from our own. 
Taking this thought along with us, we must of course judge 
of their principles, their character and conduct as the prin- 
ciples, character and conduct of rational beings. To the bar 
of reason they are certainly responsible. Now our whole 
argument has shown that these reasonable beings, in close 
conspiracy with the devil, have systematic- 

A systematic perver- ii ,t -i j.Ij.1" 

sion of reason. ally corruptcd and perverted their reason. 

They have suppressed its utterances when- 
ever it speaks to them of God. They have listened to it in 
the affairs of life, but when it points to the Invisible and 
Supreme, they have boldly said to it that it lied, and that 
they would follow another light. Is there nothing monstrous 
in this ? Heathenism is really an attempt to put out the 
eye of the soul — nay more, to extinguish the very being of 
the soul ; for its essence is intelligence, and intelligence is 
sujjpressed in these very contradictions to first truths implied 
in heathenism. Then, again, rational beings are bound to 
regulate their faith by the laws of evidence. They are not 
to believe without just proof. They must give a reason for 
the faith that is in them. Bring heathenism to this test, and 
what are its proofs of its countless rabble of gods ? What 
evidence can it adduce for the Divine appointment of its 
monstrous systems of worship ? If the question were asked, 
Who hath required this at your hands ? what rational 
answer could these reasonable beings give ? These systems 
are so manifestly the products of their imagination, the 
spawn of a whorish fancy by a corrupt heart, that they 
would, perhaps, be amazed that any evidence were exacted. 
Then what shall we say to the crimes which 
The crimes which it ^j^^j^. religiou has sauctificd ? Those brutal 

sauctines. o 

lusts ; those bacchanalian revels ; the open 
contempt of all the ties which bind man to his fellows ; 
homicide, fratricide, parricide ; what shall we say of these. 

Lect. in.] man's natural ignorance of god. 101 

and of the men who have made it a merit, an act of devotion 
to God, to be stained with these enormities ? Their con- 
sciences judge right in the ordinary relations of life ; they 
know the obligations of truth, justice and benevolence. 
How can they be justified in extinguishing this conscience, 
this voice of God within them, when they touch the subject 
of religion ? If they are responsible at all, surely they are 
responsible for crimes like these. Nothing can excuse them 
which does not remove them from the rank of moral beings. 

Add to this that in the matter of worship they oifer 
flattery for praise, bribes for penitence, and wages for sin. 
They have no love to God, no spiritual communion with 
their Maker, though their nature tells them this is the very 
life and soul of worship. Instead of this holy and spirit- 
ual exercise they substitute the presence of stocks and stones, 
of birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things, and 
would j)alm oif this mummery to an image as an adequate 
compensation for the absence of holy love. 

If anything can be said with truth, it is that heathenism 
is unnatural and monstrous. And how can it be main- 
tained that a man is innocent when he has done violence to 
all that is great and noble about him ? What is heathen- 
ism in its last analysis but a determined effort in the alli- 
ance and interests of hell to extinguish reason rather than 
admit the true God? As to the notion that idolaters are 
sincere in their worshij^, if it means that 

The plea of their lie- ,i it j.1 • i • j.1 j. • xl 

ing" sincere." ^^^^J oelicve thcu^ lics, that IS the very core 

of the charge against them. How can 
they as reasonable beings believe without guilt a mass of 
stupendous falsehoods which outrage common sense ? Their 
reason never brought them to this pass ; it was something 
which silenced reason. If by " sincerity" is meant that 
they design the honour of God, then the core of their guilt 
again is that they have such thoughts of God as to suppose 
that He can be pleased with what would degrade a man. 
He who thinks to honour me by slander and insult, by 
making me approve and reward the most abominable crimes, 

] 02 man's natural ignorance of god. [Lect. III. 

has certainly strange notions of honour ; and the more sin- 
cerely they honour God after this fashion the more they 
deserve to be damned for hushing that monitor of God 
which speaks spontaneously in their consciences. 

It is a shame to apologize for idolaters. We may pity 
them, but we must condemn them. They are without ex- 
cuse. Their ignorance is wilful and obstinate. 

The true view of heathenism is, that it is the consumma- 
„ ,, . . ^^ tion of human depravity. It is the full 

Heathenism is the i -^ 

consummation of de- development of the principle of sin in its 
'"'*" ■^' workings upon the intellectual, the moral, 

the religious nature of man. It is a development directly 
counter to that which is normal and right. It is the last 
stage which the mind reaches in its retrograde movement. 
It is as complete an unmaking of the work of God in man 
as it is possible to conceive. The only sense in which it is 
a preparation for the gospel is that it shows the hopelessness 
of man Avithout it. God has permitted it to take place on 
a large scale that He might demonstrate the real tendencies 
of sin. If the fact were not before our eyes, we might be 
tempted to doubt whether reasonable beings could sink so 
low. If we knew nothing of history, and for the first time 
were made acquainted with the various schemes of idolatry 
and superstition, we should hesitate in attributing to those 
who invented and those who received such systems the epi- 
thet of rational. They could not, we should be apt to feel, 
be men like ourselves. But there stands the fact, and there 
it stands as an unanswerable proof, that sin is the murderer 
of the soul. It extinguishes the life of intelligence, the 
life of conscience and the life of religion. It turns man 
into a monster and clothes his Maker in garments of slianie, 
and when it has done its Avork of death it complacently 
wipes its mouth and says, " I have done no evil." Surely 
the Avicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations 
that forget God. 

As to the first authors of idolatry, it deserves further to 
be mentioned that they not only sinned against the light 

Lect. III.] man's natural ignorance of god. 103 

of reason, but against the light of revelation. Adam and 
^, ^ . , , ^ the patriarchs were not left Avithout Divine 

The first idolaters '■ 

sinned against reveia- guidance in relation to the worship of God. 
They had an express law which they 
knew to be from Him. Those who departed from this 
law, or corrupted it by their own arbitrary inventions, were 
guilty of wilful and deliberate apostasy. They did not like 
to retain God in their knowledge. The principle which 
prompted their apostasy is the principle which lies at the 
root of all the subsequent aberrations of their children. 
None sought after God, none desired the knowledge of His 
ways, none were disposed to glorify His name ; and the con- 
sequence was that they were given up to walk in the light 
of their own eyes and after the imagination of their own 
hearts, and instead of light to embrace only the shadow 
of death. 



"ITrE have already said that all the speculations of the 
' ' human mind in relation to the Supreme Being may 
be reduced to three questions : An sit Deus f Quid sit Deus f 
Qualis sit Deus f — that is, they all have reference either to 
His Existence, His Nature or His Attributes. The first has 
been the subject of the precedino; lectures : 

Quid sit Deus? '' ^ ^ ' 

the second now demands our attention. 
To the question concerning the nature and extent of our 
Two contradictory kuowledgc of God, two auswcrs directly 
answers : (1.) God per- contradictory havc bccu returned by philo- 

I'ectly comprehensible. , ^-^ ■, ,^ ti/-^t 

sophers. One party has amrmed that God 
is not only comprehensible in Himself, it being His nature 
to be intelligible, but that the actual compreliension of His 
essence, as made up of the ideas which constitute absolute 
reason or intelligence, is the condition of intelligence in re- 
lation to every other object. We may not only know Him, 
but we can know nothing else without knowing Him. 
" Philosophy," says Cousin,' " will not deny the accusation 
of wishing to penetrate into the depths of the Divine essence 
which common opinion declares to be incomprehensible. 
There are those who Avould have it incomprehensible. 
There are men, reasonable beings, whose vocation it is to 
comprehend and who believe in the existence of God, but %vho 
will believe in it only under the express condition that this 
existence is incomprehensible. What does this mean ? Do 

^ Introduc. to Hist. Phil., Linberg's Trans., p. 132. 


they assert that this existence is absolutely incomprehensi- 
ble? But that which is absolutely incomprehensible can 
liave no relations which connect it with our intelligence, 
nor can it be in any wise admitted by us. A God who is 
absolutely incomprehensible by us is a God who, in regard 
to us, does not exist. In truth, what would a God be to us 
who had not seen fit to give us some portion of Himself, and 
so much of intelligence as might enable His wretched crea- 
tui'e to elevate himself even unto Him, to comprehend Him, 
to believe in Him ? Gentlemen, what is it to believe ? It 
is, in a certain degree, to comprehend. Faith, whatever be 
its form, whatever be its object, whether vulgar or sublime — 
faith cannot but be the consent of reason to that which rea- 
son comprehends as true. This is the foundation of all 
faith. Take away the possibility of knowing, and there 
remains nothing to believe, for the very root of faith is re- 
moved. Will it be said that God is not altogether incom- 
prehensible? — ^that He is somewhat isomprehensible ? Be 
it so, but let the measure of this be determined, and then I 
will maintain that it is precisely the measure of the com- 
2)rehensibility of God which will be the measure of human 
faith. So little is God incomprehensible that His nature is 
constituted by ideas, by those ideas whose nature it is to be 
intelligible. . . . God, the substance of ideas, is essentially 
intelligent and essentially intelligible." 

The other party represents the Divine nature, in common 
with the nature of every other being, as 
inSipSlnsTwe!'"^ Utterly beyond the reach of thought. It 
never can be a positive element of con- 
sciousness. God is and ever must be the great unknown. 
The language in which the writers of this school sometimes 
express themselves is so strong as to convey the notion that 
God is so entirely aloof from all relation to our faculties 
that we know, and can know, absolutely nothing about Him 
but the bare fact of his existence. 

" We cannot," says Bishop Browne, as quoted by Pro- 


fessor Fraser/ " be said only to have indistinct, confused and 
imperfect apprehensions of the true nature of God and of 
His real attributes, hut none at all in any degree. The true 
meaning of the word incomj)rehensible is that we have no 
idea at all of the real, true nature of God." Those patris- 
tic representations of the Deity which make Him " the un- 
known subject of attributes absolutely unknown/' to which 
Bishop Browne subsequently refers, are traced by Berkeley^ 
to the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. This author, 
Berkeley observes, " hath written upon the Divine attri- 
butes in a very singular style. In his treatise of the Celes- 
tial Hierarchy he saith that God is something above all 
essence and life, ut:e(} Tzaaav ouaiav xai qtorjV) and again in his 
treatise of the Divine names, that He is above all wisdom 
and understanding, u>t£/> no.aav aoifiav xal auveatv ; ineffable 
and innommable, dypr^ro^; xal, di^wi^v/uoc; ; the wisdom of God 
he terms an unreasonable, unintelligent and foolish wisdom, 
TT^v dXoyov xal dvouu xal fio)f>dv aotfiav. But then the reason 
he gives for expressing himself in this strange manner is, 
that the Divine wisdom is the cause of all reason, wisdom 
and understanding, and therein are contained the treasures 
of all wisdom and knowledge. He calls God uTiipaoifoz 
xal uTtiit^w^, as if wisdom and life were words not worthy 
to express the Divine perfections ; and he adds that the 
attributes, unintelligent and unperceiving, must be ascribed 
to the Divinity, not xaz iUst<f'iu by way of defect, but xad' 
bTiEpoY^YjV, by way of cminency, which he explains by our 
giving the name of darkness to light inaccessible." This 
mode of dealing with the Divine nature Berkeley very 
happily characterizes as " the method of growing in expres- 
sion and dwindling in notion, as clearing up doubts by non- 
sense and avoiding difficulties by running into affected con- 

Sir William Hamilton, whose philosophy by no means 
leads to a total denial — on the other hand it expressly pos- 
tulates a necessary faith and a relative knowledge — of trans- 

• Essays in Philos., p. 216. ^ Minute Pliilos., Dial, iv., § 19. 

Lect. IY.] limits of our KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. 107 

ceudcnt Existence, has yet, at times, expressed himself in 
terms which justify the remark of Professor Fraser,' that 
" the Scottish philosopher seems to cut away every bridge 
by which man can have access to God." To maintain the 
absolute incognoscibility of God is to maintain the absolute 
imj)ossibility of religion. The philosopher, accordingly, 
who in modern times has so triumphantly demonstrated 
that ontological science is a " mere fabric of delusion," was 
but consistent with himself when he resolved the essence of 
religion into obedience to the moral law. 

The truth lies between these extremes ; God is at once 
known and unknown. In His transcendent 

Truth in the midJle. -p, . , i i • n ' 

Beuig, as absolute and infinite, though a 
necessary object of faith. He cannot be an object of thought. 
We cannot represent Him to the understanding, nor think 
Him as He is in Himself. But in and through the finite 
He has given manifestations of His incomprehensible reality, 
which, though not sufficient to satisfy the demands of spec- 
ulation, are amply adequate for all the ends of religion. 
Human knowledge is the same in form, whatever may be 
the diversity of its objects. The knowledge of God is, con- 
sequently, not different in kind from the knowledge of any 
other being. Though unlimited in Himself, the absence of 
limitation in Him does not remove the limitation of our 
faculties, and we are compelled to know Him, as men, under 
the same conditions and restraints under which we know the 

finite. There are three conditions which 

Three roiiditions of • , -i rri 

all kuowiedge. cousciousncss iicvcr can transcend, ihe 

first is, that the immediate matter of our 
knowledge is not things as they are in themselves, but things 
as they appear — phenomena, and not the transcendent reality 
which underlies them and imparts to them their coherence 
and their unity. We know matter, we know mind, not 
absolutely as matter or mind, but as that which appears to 
us under the forms of extension, solidity, figure, motion, etc., 
or that which appears to us under the forms of thinking, 
1 Essays in Philos., p. 222. 


feeling, willing. Our knowledge, therefore, is confined to 
phenomena, and to phenomena only. Another condition is, 
that we know only those appearances of things which stand 
in relation to our faculties. There may be other appearances 
which they are capable of presenting to other intelligences. 
It would be unphilosophical to assume that our senses ex- 
haust all the properties of matter, or our consciousness all 
the properties of mind. All that we can say is, that they 
exhaust all the appearances or phenomena which we are ca- 
pable of knowing. Others may exist, but their existence to 
us is a blank. De non apparentibus et non existcntibus eadem 
est 7'atio. The third is, that in knowing phenomena, and the 
phenomena related to us, we are irresistibly impelled to pos- 
tulate a transcendent something beyond them, as the ground 
of their coexistence and uniformity. As these " phenomena 
appear only in conjunction," says Sir William Hamilton,^ 
" we are compelled by the constitution of our nature to think 
them conjoined in and by something ; and as they are phe- 
nomena, we cannot think them the phenomena of nothing, 
but must regard them as the properties or qualities of some- 
thing that is extended, solid, figured, etc. But this some- 
thing, absolutely and in itself — i. e., considered apart from its 
phenomena — is to us as zero. It is only in its qualities, only 
in its effects, in its relative or phenomenal existence, that it 
is cognizable or conceivable; and it is only by a law of 
thought which compels us to think sometljing absolute and 
unknown, as the basis or condition of the relative and known, 
that this something obtains a kind of incomprehensible 
reality to us." To this unknown something, in its generic 
sense, as comprehending the basis of all phenomena, we ap- 
ply the name of substance ; in its specific sense, as indicating 
the basis of the phenomena of extension, we call it matter ; 
as indicating the basis of the phenomena of consciousness, 
we call it mind or spirit. " Thus mind and matter " — I re- 
sume the Avords of Hamilton — " as known and knowable, are 
only two different series of phenomena or qualities ; mind 
' Metaphys., Lect. viii. 


and matter, as unknown and unknowable, are the two sub- 
stances in which these two different series of phenomena or 
qualities are supposed to inhere." 

Hence in our knowledge of the finite there are evidently 
two elements or factors. There is, first, the 

PliPiioniena and sub- 1 j.' 11 ll'l i 

gjj^^^g relative and phenomenal, winch can be con- 

ceived and known ; this is the j)roper object 
of thought. There is, secondly, the substance or substratum, 
the quasi absolute, which cannot be represented in thought, 
but which is positively believed as existing. One element 
addresses itself to intelligence and the other to faith. Both 
are felt to be equally true. Both concur in every cognition 
of the finite. Take away the belief of substance, and you 
destroy the unity of phenomena ; take away the conception 
of phenomena, and you destroy the conditions under which 
the belief of substance is realized. It is in and throuo-h the 
phenomena that substance is knoicn; they are the manifest- 
ations of it as a transcendent reality ; it is a real existence 
to us under these forms. As, then, the properties of matter 
Properties reveal ^"^ miud are rclativc manifestations of 
substance, and the fi- transccndeut rcalitics beyond them, so the 

nite the infinite. . • i i i • 

finite, considered as such, is a relative 
manifestation of an absolute and infinite being; without 
whom the finite is as unintelligible as a phenomenon with- 
out substance. The notion of cause is a necessary element 
of reason. The notion of the finite is the notion of an eifect, 
of something dependent in its being. A finite absolute is a 
contradiction in terms. The causal nexus as much necessi- 
tates the belief of the infinite and absolute when we contem- 
plate the finite and dependent, as the nexus of substance and 
accident necessitates the belief of substance when we contem- 
plate phenomena. Without the infinite, no finite — without 
the absolute, no relative, is as clear and unambiguous an ut- 
terance of human reason as no properties without a subject. 
"The really necessary causal judgment," says Professor 
Fraser,^ " has, as it seems to us, another reference altogether, 
1 Essays, p. 242. 


than to laws of nature and uniformities of succession among 
the finite changes of the Universe. It is a general expression 
of the fundamental conviction of reason, that every finite event 
and being dependfi on and practically reveals infinite or trans- 
cendent Power. It is a vague utterance of dissatisfaction 
with an absolutely finite Universe — totum, teres atque rotun- 
dum — and of a positive belief, not only that finite objects 
exist, but that they do not exhaust existence, seeing that they 
depend on God. We are intellectually dissatisfied as long 
as the object of which we are in quest is within the range of 
logical laws, and therefore recognized as a power only in- 
definitely great. The dissatisfaction projects reason beyond 
the realm of finite, and therefore scientifically cognizable, 
existence. The mental necessity which thus conducts us to 
the Transcendent Being and Power, with or without the in- 
tervention of finite beings and second causes, is the root of 
the only truly necessary causal judgment we can discover." 
The finite accordingly is a real, though oi;ily a relative, 
manifestation of the infinite. It gives the fact of its exist- 
ence; we know that it is, though we do not know it as 
it is. 

In all this there is nothing peculiar either in our know- 
ledge or our ignorance of God. The mystery which shrouds 
His being is the same in kind with the mystery which 
shrouds the being of every other object. In both cases 
there are the same elements — an incomprehensible reality 
■which transcends the capacit}' of thought, and comprehensi- 
ble phenomena which are readily moulded into the forms 
of the understanding ; and in both cases the comprehensi- 
ble is the exponent, the manifestation, the all that is know- 
able by us, of the incomprehensible. Properties reveal sub- 
stance, and the finite reveals the infinite — not that properties 

are like substance, or the finite like the In- 
infinUel'b-irreTelis u! ^"1^. Wc havc uo right to make the one 

rejiresentative of the other. But projicr- 
ties arc the modes under which substance appears to our 
understandings, and the finite the mode under which the 


absolute appears. " We know God," says Calvin/ " who is 
Himself invisible only through His works. Therefore the 
apostle elegantly styles the worlds za jxr] ex (faiuo/xii^cou 
^Xenofitva, as if one should say, ' the manifestation of things 
not apparent.' This is the reason why the Lord, that He 
may invite us to the knowledge of Himself, places the fab- 
ric of heaven and earth before our eyes, rendering Himself, 
in a certain manner, manifest in them. For His eternal 
power and Godhead, as Paul says, are there exhibited. 
And that declaration of David is most true, that the heav- 
ens, though without a tongue, are yet eloquent heralds of 
the glory of God, and that this most beautiful order of 
nature silently proclaims His admirable wisdom. ... As 
for those who proudly soar above the world to seek God in 
His unveiled essence, it is impossible but that at length they 
should entangle themselves in a multitude of absurd fig- 
ments. For God, by other means invisible, as we have 
already said, clothes Himself, so to speak, with the image of 
the world in which He would present Himself to our con- 
templation. They who will not deign to behold Him thus 
magnificently arrayed in the incomparable vesture of the 
heavens and the earth, afterwards suffer the just punish- 
ment of their proud contempt in their own ravings. There- 
fore, as soon as the name of God sounds in our ears, or the 
thought of Him occurs to our minds, let us clothe Him with 
this most beautiful ornament ; finally, let the world become 
our school, if we desire rightly to know God." 

As it is the causal nexus which upon the contemplation 

of the finite elicits in consciousness the necessary belief of 

the Infinite, and as the effects which we behold, being effects, 

cannot be the attributes or properties of God, the question 

arises. What are the intuitions by which 

The question. • i i i 

we represent in thought the comprehen- 
sible element of our knowledge? How, in other words, 
do we think God ? AVhat are the data which we combine 
in the conception, and what is our security that these data 
' Comment, on Genesis, Argument (Calvin Transl. Soc), vol. i., pp. 59, 60. 


are +he real appearances of such a Being to minds like 

To this the only satisfactory answer which can be given 
is, that all the intuitions, or, as Locke would express it, all 
the simple ideas, which enter into the complex notion of 
God, as thought by the human understanding, are derived 
from the human soul. The j)0ssibility of theology depends 
upon the postulate that man reflects the image of His 
Maker. We have seen that reason is so constituted that 
when adequately developed it spontaneously ascends from 
the phenomena of exj^erienee to a First Cause, an abso- 
lute and infinite Being which it is constrained to construe 
as intelligent, powerful and good, as a just moral Ruler 
and the supreme object of worship) and adoration. Intelli- 
gence, wisdom, power, liberty, goodness, justice, truth, right- 
eousness and beauty, — these are attributes without which 
God is God no more. Whence do we derive these con- 
cepts ? Whence are our notions of know- 

All concepts of God i -i -t l x j.1 o ^Tti 

from the humaa soul, ledge, gooduess and truth? \\ hence our 
notion of power? Most evidently they 
spring from our own minds. Our own consciousness is the 
storehouse from which they are drawn. We can conceive 
no intelligence but the human ; Ave can think no power but 
that which is suggested by the energy of our own wills ; we 
can have no moral intuitions but those which are given by our 
own consciences. Man, therefore, sits for the picture that 
he sketches of God. But is God only man upon a larger 
scale? Is the infinite only a higher degree of the finite ? It 
is a saying of the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite — and it 
has generally been accepted as a sufficient indication of the 
truth — that in ascending from the creature to God we pro- 
ceed by the method of causality, of negation and of emi- 
nence. In the way of causality I am constrained to affirm 
that every perfection which is contained in the effect was 
previously contained in the cause. But as the perfections 
of the creature exist under many limitations and conditions 
which are inconsistent with the notion of the Infinite, I am 


led in the way of negation to remove those restrictions and 
defects, and to posit the perfections in the abstract. Then, 
by the way of eminence, I strive to represent these perfec- 
tions as expanded even to infinity. Thouglit struggles to 
magnify until it sinks back upon itself exhausted in the 
effort. Examples of all these methods the Scholastic 
divines^ profess to find in the Scriptures. Thus, Psalm 
xciv. 9, 10 is an instance of the way of causality : " He 
that planted the ear, shall He not hear ? He that formed 
the eye, shall He not see ? He that chastiseth the heathen, 
shall not He correct ? He that teacheth man knowledge, 
shall not He know?" In Numbers xxiii. 19 we have an 
illustration of the method of negation : " God is not a man, 
that He should lie ; neither the son of man, that He should 
repent. Hath He said, and shall He not do it ? Or hath He 
spoken, and shall He not make it good ?" The method of 
eminence is signalized in Isaiah Iv. 8, 9 : " For my thoughts 
are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 
the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so 
are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than 
your thoughts." 

This is the- process — and it is a process natural to reason, 
as inevitable as the laws of thought — by which we are 
led to the belief of an absolutely perfect being. The 
notion of an ens realissimum is not the arbitrary product of 
the fancy, but the necessary result of speculation, when a 
cause is sought for the manifold phenomena of the finite. 
Relative perfection is construed as the manifestation of the 
absolute. It is the form under which it aj)pears to our con- 
ditioned consciousness. It is not the same with it, nor like 
it, but reveals it — reveals it as existing ; reveals it as a neces- 
sary article of faith conceived only under analogy. The 
relative perfection, in other words, is the form or symbol 
under which the absolute appears. 

And here let me explain the terms absolute and infinite in 
their relation to God, which have become household words 
1 De Moor, c. i., ? 13. 
Vol. I.— 8 


of modern philosophy. The absokite is that which is self- 
existent and underivcd — which exists with- 
Jd%'nuTLvi^'l out dependence upon, or necessary relation 
to, any other being. The infinite is that 
which includes all reality, all being and all perfection within 
itself. It is the totality of existence. It is not the unfinish- 
able of Sir William Hamilton, for that is essentially imper- 
fect. It is that . absolute which he has described as the 
Telecoz of the Greeks — a complete whole, to which nothing 
can be added and from which nothing can be taken. In 
the senses here explained the infinite and the absolute co- 
incide. They are only different phases of one and the same 
thing. There can be no infinite without the absolute, no 
absolute without the infinite. There cannot be necessary 
self-existent being which is not also unconditionally un- 
limited being. Hence, among divines, the absolute and in- 
finite are, for the most part, interchangeable terms. " The 
metaphysical representation of the Deity," says Mansel,^ "as 
absolute and infinite, must necessarily, as the profoundest 
metaphysicians have acknowledged, amount to nothing less 
than the sum of all reality. ' What kind of an absolute 
being is that,' says Hegel, ' which does not contain in itself 
all that is actual, even evil included?' We may repudiate 
the conclusion with indignation, but the reasoning is unas- 
sailable. If the absolute and infinite is an object of human 
conception at all, this, and none other, is the conception re- 
quired. That which is conceived as absolute and infinite 
must be conceived as containing within itself the sum, not 
only of all actual, but of all possible modes of being. For 
if any actual mode can be denied of it, it is related to that 
mode and limited by it ; and if any possible mode can be 
denied of it, it is capable of becoming more than it now is, 
and such a capability is a limitation. Indeed it is obvious 
that the entire distinction between the possible and the actual 
can have no existence as regards the absolutely infinite ; for 
an unrealized possibility is necessarily a relation and a limit. 
^ Limits of Eel. Thought, Lect. ii. 


The scholastic saying, Deus est actus purus, ridiculed as it 
has been by modern critics, is in truth but the expression in 
technical language of the almost unanimous voice of philo- 
sophy, both in earlier and later times." To this quotation 
may be added a confirmatory quotation from the Living 
Temple of John Howe : ^ " Necessary being is most unmixed 
or purest being, without allay. That is pure which is full of 
itvself. Purity is not here meant in a corporeal sense [which 
few will think], nor in the moral ; but, as with metaphysi- 
cians, it signifies simj)licity of essence. And in its present 
use is more especially intended to signify that simplicity 
which is opposed to the composition of act and possibility. 
We say, then, that necessary being imports purest actuality, 
which is the ultimate and highest perfection of being. For 
it signifies no remaining possibility, yet unreplete or not filled 
up ; and consequently, the fullest exuberancy and entire con- 
fluence of all being, as in its fountain and original source. 
We need not here look further to evince this than the native 
import of the very terms themselves, necessity and possibility ; 
the latter whereof is not so fitly said to be excluded the 
former, as contingency is, but to be swallowed up of it; as 
fullness takes up all the space which were otherwise nothing 
but vacuity or emptiness. It is plain, then, that necessary 
being engrosses all possible being, both that is and (for the 
same reason) that ever was so. For nothing can be, or ever 
was, in possibility to come into being, but what either must 
spring, or hath sprung, from the necessary self-subsisting 
being. So that unto all that vast possibility a proportionable 
actuality of this being must be understood to correspond. . . . 
Necessary being can never alter, and consequently can never 
come actually to be what it already is not ; upon which ac- 
count it is truly said. In ceternis, posse et esse sunt idem. 
Wherefore in it is nothing else but pure actuality, as profound 
and vast as is the utmost possibility of all created or produ- 
cible being ; i. e., it can be nothing other than it is, but can 
do all things ; of which more hereafter." 
1 Pt. I., chap, iv., I 2. 


Now the question arises, What can we know, or rather 

what can we think, of absohite and infinite perfection ? As 

The absolute not de- infinite and absolute, it is obvious that we 

finable, yet the mind canuot represent it in thought at all. We 

demands it. i p • i • 

cannot define it so as to make it enter as a 
jJositive element in consciousness. But still absolute per- 
fection is an imperative demand of reason ; the relative is 
unmeaning without it. The human mind cannot dispense 
with the faith of it. So far from being a chimera, or a mere 
illusion of metaphysical speculation, it is rooted and grounded 
in the very structure of the soul. But because we cannot 
conceive the perfections of God, as they are in themselves 
and as they exist in Him — that is, because we cannot think 
them as infinite and absolute — does it follow that in trying to 
think them we think nothing at all ; or if we think anything, 
we think only a delusive appearance ? 

This brings us back to our original question, to answer 
which it must be recollected that our con- 

The question answered. . /. . f r-i -i 

cejjtion of the perfections of God embraces 

two elements — a positive and a negative one. The positive 

one is the abstract notion of any particular perfection, such 

Positive and negative ^s wisdom, intelligence, justice, truth, be- 

eiements of the con- nevolcncc Or powcr, fumishcd by the phe- 

ception. . 

nomena of our own consciousness. Ihe 
negative one is a protest against ascribing the perfection to 
God under the limitations and conditions of human experi- 

A perfection abstractly considered is only a generalization 
of language ; it is incapable of being realized in thought ex- 
cept as given in some special and definite manifestation. 
Knowledge in the abstract, for example, has no real exist- 
ence ; it is only a term expressive of that in which all single 
acts of knowledge concur, and applicable alike to every form 

of cognition. It marks a relation which uni- 
Go^wviedgir''" versally obtains. Now, when we attribute 

knowledge to God, we mean that there exists 
in Him a relation analogous to that signalized by this term- 


among us. "Wlien we undertake to realize the relation as it 
exists in God, we transcend the limits of our faculties. "VVe 
can only say that it is to Him what the highest perfection 
of cognition is to us. But as we are obliged to think it in 
some concrete form, we conceive it as a species of intuition, 
in which the Divine consciousness penetrates at a glance the 
whole universe of being and possibility, and surveys the 
nature and relations of things with absolute, infallible cer- 
tainty. The relation in Him expresses all that we compass 
by intuition, reasoning, imagination, memory and testimony. 
The analogy is real and true. The things analogous are by 
no means alike. God has not faculties like ours, which are 
as much a badge of weakness as a mark of distinction and 
honour. He knows without succession, and apprehends all 
relations without reasoning, comparison or memory. He is 
not subject to the condition of time nor the necessities of in- 
ference. But though knowledge in Him is manifested dif- 
ferently from knowledge in us, yet the essence contained in 
the abstract relation finds its counterpart in a manner suited 
to an infinite consciousness. Hence we think Divine, under 
the analogy, not under the similitude, of human cognition. 
There is that in Him which stands in the same relation to 
certainty as intuition to us. And Locke long ago remarked 
that we can have a clear and precise notion of relations, even 
when the things related are very partially or obscurely ap- 

In the same way power, abstractly considered, expresses the 
relation of a cause to its effect. In itself 

and how we attribute • •, • •. i 

to Him power, ^^^ ^^^1 ^^ morc conccivc it lu its humau 

than its Divine manifestations. It is that 
in the cause which produces the effect, and we think it only 
in connection with its effects. Now, this relation is con- 
ceived as subsisting in God with reference to the products of 
His sovereign will. There is something in Him analogous 
to what we experience in the operations of our own Avills. 
We think of void space. We conceive it occupied by body 
which has just been called into being. We cannot repre- 


seut the rationale of creation, but we can clearly compre- 
hend the kind of relation implied in the creative fiat. It 
is as intelligible as that between impulse and motion. 

The same holds in the case of goodness, justice and love, 
and all the moral and intellectual perfec- 

goodness, justice, love. , i • i -i i * i • i 

tions which we ascribe to the Almighty. 
The abstract notions are generalizations from the sphere of 
our own experience, and we think them in God as some- 
thing; which is the same to Him as these relations are to us. 
The thing positively represented is the human manifestation 
in its purest form, but it is attributed to God in the way of 
analogy, and not of actual similitude. His infinite perfec- 
tions are veiled under finite symbols. It is only the shadow 
of them that falls upon the human understanding. Such is 
the process. A perfection is given in man under manifold 
forms and conditions. The perfection is reduced to an ab- 
stract notion, equally realized in all and equally cogitable in 
all, but in itself actually inconceivable. We ascribe it to 
God in the perfection of its essence as an abstract notion, 
and endeavour to think it under relations in Him analogous 

to those in which it is revealed in us. We 
aiw^rau^gSr"' ai-e sure that there is something in Him 

which corresponds to these relations in us. 
Hence the positive element in our efforts to think God is 
always analogical. 

"Thomas Aquinas," says Berkeley,^ "expresseth his 
sense of this point in the following manner : All perfec- 
tions, saith he, derived from God to the creatures are in a 
certain higher sense, or (as the Schoolmen term it) eminently 
in God. Whenever, therefore, a name borrowed from any 
perfection in the creature is attributed to God, we must ex- 
clude from its signification everything that belongs to the 
imperfect manner wherein that attribute is found in the 
creature. Whence he concludes that knowledge in God is 
not a habit, but a pure act. And, again, the same doctor 
observes that our intellect gets its notions of all sorts of 
1 Minute Philos., Dial, iv., U 20, 21, 


perfections from the creatures, and that as it apprehends 
those perfections, so it signifies them by names. Therefore, 
saith he, in attributing those names to God we are to con- 
sider two things : first, the perfections themselves, as good- 
ness, life and the like, which are properly in God ; and, 
secondly, the manner which is peculiar to the creature, and 
cannot, strictly and properly speaking, be said to agree to 
the Creator. And although Suarez, with other Schoolmen, 
tcacheth that the mind of man conceiveth knowledge and 
will to be in God as fiiculties or operations by analogy only 
to created beings, yet he gives it plainly as his opinion that 
when knowledge is said not to be properly iu God, it must 
be understood in a sense including imperfection, such as dis- 
cursive knowledge, or the like imperfect kind found in the 
creatures ; and that none of those imperfections in the know- 
ledge of men or angels, belonging to the formal notion of 
knowledge, or to knowledge as such, it will not thence fol- 
low that knowledge in its proper, formal sense may not be 
attributed to God ; and of all knowledge taken in general 
for the clear, evident understanding of all truth, he expressly 
affirms that it is in God, and that this was never denied by 
any philosopher who believed a God. It was indeed a cur- 
rent opinion in the schools that even being itself should be 
attributed analogically to God and the creatures. . . . But 
to prevent any man's being led by mistaking the scholastic 
, , , ,. , ,^ use of the terms analogy and analogical 

Scholastic use of the "^ "^ ^ ^ 

term anaingicai ex- into an opiuiou that wc canuot frame in 
^ '""^ ■ any degree a true and proper notion of 

attributes applied by analogy, or, in the school phrase, 
'predicated analogically, it may not be amiss to inquire into 
the true sense and meaning of these words. Every one 
knows that analogy is a Greek word used by mathematicians 
to signify a similitude of proportions. For instance, when we 
observe that two is to six as three is to nine, this similitude 
or equality of proportion is turned analogy. And although 
2')roportion strictly signifies the habitude or relation of one 
quantity to another, yet in a looser and translated sense it 


liatli been applied to signify every other habitude, and con- 
sequently the term analogy comes to signify all similitude 
of relations or habitudes whatsoever. Hence the School- 
men tell us there is analogy between intellect and sight, for- 
asmuch as intellect is to the mind what sight is to the body, 
and that he who governs the state is analogous to him who 
steers a ship. Hence a prince is analogically styled a pilot, 
being to Ijie state as a pilot is to his vessel. For the further 
clearing of this point, it is to be observed, that a twofold 
analogy is distinguished by the Schoolmen — metaphorical 
and proper. Of the first kind there are frequent instances in 
Holy Scripture attributing human parts and passions to 
God. When He is represented as having a finger, an eye or 
an ear — when He is said to repent, to be angry or grieved — 
every one sees that analogy is merely metaphorical, be- 
cause those parts and passions taken in the proper significa- 
tion must in every degree necessarily, and from the formal 
nature of the thing, include imperfection. When, therefore, 
it is said the finger of God appears in this or that event, 
men of common sense mean no more but that it is as truly 
ascribed to God as the works wrought by human fingers are 
to man, and so of the rest. But the case is different Avhen 
wisdom and knowledge are attributed to God. Passions 
and senses, as such, imply defect, but in knowledge simply, 
or as such, there is no defect. Knowledge, therefore, in the 
proper, formal meaning of the word, may be attributed to 
God proportionably — that is, preserving a proportion to the 
infinite nature of God. We may say, therefore, that as 
God is infinitely above man, so is the knowledge of God 
infinitely above the knowledge of man, and this is what 
Cajetan calls analogia proiwih facta. And after this same 
analogy we must understand all those attributes to be- 
long to the Deity which in themselves simply and as 
such denote perfection. We may, therefore, consistently 
with what hath been premised, affirm that all sorts of per- 
fection which we can conceive in a finite spirit are in God, 
but without any of that alloy which is found in the crea- 


tures. This cloctriDe, therefore, of analogical perfection in 
God, or of knowing God by analogy, seems very much mis- 
understood and misapplied by those who would infer from 
thence that we cannot frame any direct or proper notion, 
though never so inadequate, of knowledge or wisdom as they 
are in the Deity, or understand any more of them than one 
born blind can of light and colours." 

This passage of Berkeley, aimed at the theory of Bishop 

Browne, maintained in the Divine Analogy, which seems to 

l^reclude the possibility of any real or certain knowledge of 

God, labours under one defect. It takes 

Berkeley criticised. , . 

for granted that we have a positive notion 
of knowledge, wisdom and every other human perfection, 
simply and in themselves. Yet no one has more conclusively 
shown than himself that abstract terms have no objects cor- 
responding to them, but are only contrivances of language 
for the abridgment of human thought. They express noth- 
ing that can ever be conceived apart frOm individuals. We 
cannot, therefore, think knowledge in general except as mani- 
fested in some particular instance of cognition. In the given 
instance we can leave out of view what is special and distin- 
guishing, and attend only to what equally belongs to every 
other instance ; but something that has been given in intui- 
tion must be represented in thought. Hence, to attribute 
knowledge to God is to think Him as knowing in some way. 
We must take some form of human consciousness and trans- 
fer it to Him. But the most perfect form, that of intuition 
itself, is manifested in us under conditions which cannot be 
applied to God. But the most perfect form is the highest 
under which we can conceive it. As, therefore, we cannot 
attribute it in this finite form to God, all that we can say is 
that knowledge in Him is analogous to knowledge in us. 
It is a relation which implies absolute certainty and infalli- 
bility. We attribute the finite to God 
mel^t'aprotesr '''" ^^^^^ ^ protcst that the finite form only 
expresses a similarity of relation. 
Again, the difference betwixt Divine and human know- 


ledge is not one simply of degree. It is a difference in kind. 
God's knowledge is not like ours, and therefore we are 
utterly unable to think it as it is in Him. We can only 
think it under the analogy of ours in the sense of a simi- 
larity of relations. It is to Him what ours is to us. It is 
to the whole universe of being, actual and possible, what ours 
is to the small portion that presents itself to our faculties. 

This protest is only a series of negations — it affirms sim- 
ply what God is not, but by no means enables us to conceive 
what He really and positively is. It is the infinite and ab- 
solute applied to the attributes which we are striving to 
represent. Still these negative notions are of immense im- 
portance. They are clear and pregnant 

Importance of these /• • j.i j. j.i • • x j j. 

negative ideas. couiessions that there IS a transcendent 

reality beyond all that we are able to con- 
ceive or think, in comparison with which our feeble thoughts 
are but darkening counsel by words without knowledge. 
They reveal an unknown sphere to which the region of the 
the known bears no more proportion than a point to infinite 
space. They stand as an awful warning of the immensity 
of human ignorance. Besides this, they are regulative prin- 
ciples, which indicate how far Ave are at liberty to reason 
from the positive element of our knowledge, and apply our 
conclusions to God. When the potency of these conclusions 
lies in the finite forms under which the abstract perfection 
is thought, and not in the perfection itself, abstractly con- 
sidered, we may be sure of error. We are then making 
God altogether such a one as we ourselves, and transfer- 
ring to Him the limitations and conditions which attach to 
our finite consciousness. Incalculable mischief has been 
done by reasoning from human conceptions of the attributes 
of God under their human manifestations, and silently over- 
looking those salutary negations which if attended to would 
at once convict our conclusions of blas- 

The negative ele- 

m nt of positive ng- phcmy. Hcucc the negative in thought 
has a positive regulative value. It is a 
beacon to warn us and to guide us. 


The result of this inquiry into the nature and extent of 
our knowledge of God may be summed up 

Sum of results. • ^ n ^^ • ' ' A 1 

ni the lollowmg propositions. As we know 
only in and through our own faculties, our knowledge must 
be determined by the nature of our faculties. The conditions 
of consciousness are such that we can never directly appre- 
hend aught but the phenomenal and relative ; and yet in the 
apprehension of that we are constrained to admit a real and 
an absolute as the necessary explanation of appearances. 
The infinite is never apprehended in itself; it is only known 
in the manifestations of it contained in the finite. As exist- 
ing, it is known — it is a positive affirmation of intelligence ; 
but it cannot be translated into the forms of the understand- 
ing — it cannot be conceived, except as the annihilation of 
those limitations and conditions which are essential to the 
possibility of human thought. We know that it is, but we 
know not lohat it is. In our actual concept of God, while 
we are constrained to recognize Him as an infinite and ab- 
solutely perfect being, yet we are unable to realize absolute 
and infinite perfection in thought. We only know that it 
must be ; but our utmost efforts to grasp it amount to nothing 
more than the transmutation of a series of negations into de- 
lusive affirmations. The matter of our thought, in repre- 
senting the Divine perfections, is taken from the phenomena 
of human consciousness. The perfections which we experi- 
ence in ourselves are reduced to their utmost abstraction and 
purity, and then applied to God in the way of analogy. We 
do not know His perfections, consequently, as they are in 
themselves or in Him, but as they appear to us under finite 
forms and symbols. This analogical conception, however, is 
accompanied with the belief that the relative necessarily im- 
])lies the absolute ; and therefore in the very act of imperfect 
thought our nature protests against the imperfect as an ade- 
quate or complete representation. We feel that we see 
through a glass darkly — that it is only a glimpse of truth 
that we obtain ; but the little, though partial and defective — 
a mere point compared to the immense reality — is inexpress- 


ibly iirccious, for its object is God. If it is only the hem 
of His garment that we are permitted to behold, it impresses 
us with a sense of His glory. 

This relative, partial, analogical knowledge of God is the 
Catholic doctrine of theologians. If au- 
heie.''° "^"'"^ ^* °'"' thorities were needed, I might quote them 
even ad nauseam. Let a few examples suf- 
fice. " His essence, indeed," says Calvin,^ " is incompre- 
hensible, utterly transcending all human thought; but on 
each of His works His glory is engraven in characters so 
bright, so distinct, and so illustrious that none, however dull 
and illiterate, can plead ignorance as their excuse." Again : ^ 
" Hence it is obvious that in seeking God the most direct 
path and the fittest method is not to attempt with presump- 
tuous curiosity to pry into His essence, which is rather to be 
adored than minutely discussed ; but to contemplate Him in 
His works, by which He draws near, becomes familiar, and 
in a manner communicates Himself to us." 

" The terms by which attributes are predicated of God," 
says Cocceius,^ " are employed in condescension to our modes 
of thinking and speaking. For, as Nazianzen affirms, to 
know God is difficult, to speak Him is impossible ; or rather, 
to speak God is imj^ossible, to know Him is still more im- 
possible. His attributes are to be understood analogically. 
The perfections which we find in the creatures testify to a 
fountain inconceivably more perfect in God, to whicli the 
creature is in some measure assimilated and bears M'itness." 

" We cannot have," says Charnock,^ " an adequate or suit- 
able conception of God. He dwells in inaccessible light — 
inaccessible to the acuteness of our fancy, as well as the 
weakness of our sense. If we could have thoughts of Him 
as high and excellent as His nature, our conceptions must be 
as infinite as His nature. All our imaginations of Him can- 
not represent Him, because every created species is finite ; it 
cannot, therefore, represent to us a full and substantial notion 

1 Inst., Lib. I., c. v., I 1. ^ i^gt.^ Lib. I., c. v., ? 9. 

2 Sum. Theol., c. ix., ? 33. * Works, vol. i., p. 274. 


of an infinite being. We cannot think or speak worthily 
enough of Him, who is greater than our words, vaster than 
our understandings. Whatsoever we speak or think of God 
is handed first to us by the notice we have of some perfection 
in the creature, and explains to us some particular excellency 
of God, rather than the fullness of His essence. . . . But the 
creatures whence we draw our lessons being finite, and our 
understandings being finite, it is utterly impossible to have 
a notion of God commensurate to the immensity and spirit- 
uality of His being. God is not like to visible creatures, 
nor is there any proportion between Him and the most 
spiritual." In another place he says,^ " God is, therefore, a 
spirit incapable of being seen, and infinitely incapable of 
being understood. . . . There is such a disproportion be- 
tween an infinite object and a finite understanding, that it is 
utterly impossible either to behold or comprehend Him." 

" It is a true rule of theologians," says Macrovius,^ " that 
God and the creature have nothing in common but the name. 
The reason is, because God differs from a creature more 
than a creature from nonentity." ^ 

" God," says Augustin,^ " is ineffable ; we can more readily 
say what He is not than what He is." 

I come now to consider the objection, that if our know- 
ledge of God is only relative and analogical, 

The objection that . ® •' . o ^ 

relative and auaiogi- it canuot DC acccptcd as any just or true 
cai knowledge does not representation of the Divine Being, but of 

represent God to us. i ~' 

something essentially different. It is not 
God that we know, but a mere series of appearances — the 
products of our own minds, which we have substituted in 
His place and hypostatized with His name. If nothing 
more were meant than that we do not know God as He is 
in Himself, and as, consequently, He knows Himself, the 
objection would certainly have to be admitted. No such 
knowledge is competent to the creature. The finite can 

^ Vol. i., p. 256. ^ Theol. Polem., c. iv. 

3 Cf. Th. Aquin. Sum. Theol., Pars Prim., Qu. xii., 3, 4. 
* Enarrat. in Psalm Ixsxv. 12. 


never hope to comprehend the Infinite as the Infinite com- 
prehends itself. But if it is meant — which it obviously must 
be if the objection is designed to destroy the foundations of 
religion — tliat our knowledge of God does not apprehend the 
appearances which such a being must make to minds con- 
stituted like ours, that the things which we think are not 
real manifestations of the Infinite, adapted to our faculties 
of intelligence, the objection is assuredly without reason. 
Either our whole nature is a lie, or the Being whom we thus 
know under finite symbols is the supreme and everlasting 
Jehovah. We know Him as the cause, the prime producing 
cause of all that exists ; and this is no delusion. The re- 
lation in which He stands to His works is clear and unam- 
biguous, though the mode in which He realizes it transcends 
our capacity of thought. We know Him as intelligent and 
good. Wisdom and benevolence are conspicuously displayed 
in the general order and special adaptations which fall within 
the compass of our experience; and unless that primitive 
law of intelligence which compels us to think design as the 
only adequate explanation of such phenomena is a lie, then 
we are sure that God is wise and knowing and good. Con- 
science gives Him as a moral ruler, and consequently as the 
supreme disposer of all things ; and unless conscience is false, 
the testimony must be accepted as true. Every part of our 
nature points to Him, and bears record to His character in 
the relations which He sustains to us. We must, therefore, 
construe our whole nature into an organ of deceit, or recog- 
nize these partial and relative conceptions as just conceptions 
of God as far as He appears to us. Beyond that appearance 
we do not venture to go. Every step we take in reaching 
our highest conceptions of God is a step under the impulse 
and direction of principles of belief which constitute an es- 
sential part of our being, and without which we should be 
little better than the beasts that perish. Our knowledge as 
far as it goes is true, if our faculties are not false. If our 
faculties are false, any other knowledge which was in and 
through them would be equally liable to suspicion. The 


symbols under which we represent God are not arbitrary 
creatures of the fancy, but the necessary products of thought 
in obedience to laws which it cannot transgress ; and which, 
while a proof of limitation and defect, are, at the same time, 
a guarantee of truth. All that we pretend is to know God 
as He appears, and what we maintain is that it is really He 
who does so appear. 

The objection in question is equally valid against all 

human knowledge. It is the old cry of 
all knowfedge"*^ ^ ° tlic skcptic. It is uot matter that we 

know, it is not mind that we know ; it is 
only the phenomena of which we are conscious, and these 
phenomena may be the fantastic creations of the thinking 
subject, or shadows which come and go upon the surface of 
our being without any cause to which we can assign them. 
How do we know that the j^roperties which we attribute 
to matter really represent anything in matter, or how do we 
know that such a thing as matter exists at all ? How do 
we know that thought, volition, feeling are the properties 
of any j)ermanent subject, rather than transient events 
which succeed each other in time without being at all de- 
pendent upon each other, or upon aught else, for their 
existence ? 

There is but one answer to all such sophistical objections. 

We are obliged to trust in the veracity of 
Answer to the ob- cousciousncss. We kuow bccausc wc be- 


lieve. Consciousness assures us of our own 
existence as a thinking subject, and consciousness also assures 
us of the existence of another world without us. We accept 
matter and mind as facts, because our nature constrains us 
to believe them. The phenomena under which we think 
them, the same consciousness represents as the appearances 
which the'i/ make to us ; and therefore we accept them as 
their appearances, as their attitude and relation to our intel- 
ligence. It is precisely the same with our knowledge of 
God. The man, therefore, Avho is free from scruples as to 
the existence of the soul or the material world, who is per- 


suadcd that the phenomena which they present to him are 
not vain and delusive shows, but sober and permanent real- 
ities, is inconsistent with himself in denying equal certainty 
to our knowledge of God. His argument, legitimately car- 
ried out, would land him in universal skepticism. It is 
enough that we have the same guarantee for the truth and 
certainty of our knowledge of God as we have for the truth 
and certainty of our own being and the existence of an outer 
world. The knowledge of both is subject to the same lim- 
itations, the same suspicions, the same cavils. They stand 
or fall together. If one is shadow, all is shadow ; if one 
is solid, all is solid and substantial. There is no middle 
ground. We know absolutely nothing, or what we know 
is true as far as we know it. Our knowledge is imperfect 
because we are imperfect. The plenitude of being cannot 
appear to us, but what our faculties are capable of receiving 
is none the less to be relied on because they do not receive 
all that actually exists. 

" It does not follow," says Mansel,^ " that our representa- 
tions are untrue because they are imperfect. To assert that 
a representation is untrue because it is relative to the mind 
of the receiver, is to overlook the fact that truth itself is 
nothino; more than a relation. Truth and falsehood are not 
properties of things in themselves, but of our conceptions, 
and are tested not by the comparison of conceptions with 
things in themselves, but with things as they are given in 
some other relation. My conception of an object of sense 
is true when it corresponds to the characteristics of the ob- 
ject as I perceive it, but the perception itself is equally a 
relation and equally implies the co-operation of human 
faculties. Truth in relation to no intelligence is a contra- 
diction in terms. Our highest conception of absolute truth 
is that of truth in relation to all intelligences. But of the 
consciousness of intelligences different from our own we 
have no knowledge, and can make no application. Truth, 
therefore, in relation to man admits of no other test than 
'^ Limits of Eel. Thought, Lect. v. 


the harmonious consent of all human faculties, and as no 
such faculty can take cognizance of the Absolute, it follows 
that correspondence with the Absolute can never be re- 
quired as a test of truth. The utmost deficiency that can 
be charged against human faculties amounts only to this : 
that we cannot say that we know God as God knows Him- 
self — that the truth of which our finite minds are susceptible 
may, for aught we know, be but the passing shadow of some 
higher reality which exists only in the Infinite Intelligence." 

Confusion has no doubt been introduced into the subject 
by silently interpreting phenomenon and appearance as equiv- 
alent to a sham or dream. They are contemplated as void 
of reality. But what is reality ? What is the only reality 
which our faculties can grasp ? It is not a thing in its ab- 
solute nature, as it exists in itself independently of any per- 
ceiving mind ; nor even a thing, as Mansel expresses it, " as 
it must manifest itself to all possible intelligences under all 
possible laws of apprehension." But reality is that which 
we perceive to exist, and we perceive it as existing under 
the relation in which it stands to our faculties. The phe- 
nomenon is nothing but the reality manifested to conscious- 
ness under the conditions of consciousness itself. It is 
not, then, a sham, a dream, a mere shine. The contrast 
of reality is those fictions or creatures of imagination wliich 
in dreams may be mistaken for realities, but which in our 
waking moments we know to be manifestations of nothing 
apart from ourselves. Hence a phenomenal or a relative is 
none the less a real knowledge ; it is the knowledge of real 
existence as that existence is manifested to us. The exist- 
ence is independent of us ; the manifestation is in and 
through the relation of the object to our consciousness. 
But I proceed to affirm, in the next place, that our rela- 

This knowledge of ^^^e analogical knowledge of God is not 
God both true and only truc and trustworthy, but amply ade- 

adcquate. r> ii i c t • t 

quate lor all the purposes oi religion. It 
does not satisfy the needs of speculation, but it is admira- 
bly adapted to the ends of devotion. If it is lacking in that 

Vol. I.— 9 


characteristic which has a tendency to puff up, it is not lack- 
ing in the other and nobler quality — the tendency to edify. 
In order to appreciate the force of this consideration, it 
must be borne in mind that man's j)resent 

It is also adapted to t,. . i /» i i t , i , 

our present condition, couditiou IS uot hual and Complete, but 
initial and preparatoiy. He is looking 
forward to a better and more exalted state. The know- 
ledge which he needs is the knowledge which will best 
adapt him to acquire and intensify those habits of thought 
and of feeling and of action which shall find their full 
scope in his future condition. His present business is 
education, and not satisfaction or enjoyment. To say 
that he needs education is to say that he is imperfect, 
and that there are impediments to his proficiency which 
it demands patience, industry, energy and perseverance to 
surmount. These imj)ediments serve at once as a motive to 
stimulate exertion, and as the means of fixing more firmly 
into the character the activities they call forth. The inten- 
sity of an action measures its tendency to generate and ma- 
ture a habit. To a being under discipline an absolute know- 
ledge of Divine things, were such a knowledge conceivable or 
possible, would be wholly unsuitable. There would be no 
room for faith, for consideration, for candour, for the bal- 
ancing of motives ; there would be no trial of one's love of 
truth, or duty, or good. If we knew as God knows, we 
should be as God is. What discipline requires is a mixed 
state, in which men may to some extent control their opin- 
ions and regulate their choice — a state in which evil, to say 
the least, is possible. In such a state the real principles 
which determine and constitute the moral character of the 
man are capable of being fully displayed. Error may be 
accepted as well as truth, temptations may prevail as well as 
be overcome, man may revolt from as well as obey God. 
But the great thing to be attained is the habit of entire 
acquiescence in the will of God as a matter of free, volun- 
tary choice. God presents Himself as a portion to the soul 
to be chosen, not forced upon it ; and in order that the choice 


may have its full significancy in determining and express- 
ing character, it must be made under circumstances in which 
there can be motives and inducements to the contrary. 
Hence our imperfection in knowledge is the badge of our 
probationary condition. Absokite, demonstrative certainty 
would preclude all trial, all choice — that is, a state to be 
won as a prize, and not one in which to begin a moral 

In our present condition we have just that kind of know- 
ledge which is suited to our circumstances and our destiny. 
Man's earthly state may be contemplated in three aspects : 
1. As a state of pure and unmixed proba- 

Three aspects of ,• . i-ii ,i o , r»i' 'iii 

man's earthly state. ^^^n, lu which by thc free act of his will he 
was to determine the permanent type of his 
being. 2. As a state of sin and misery, the legal and natural 
consequence of his free determination in his previous state. 
3. As a state of partial recovery, in which he is to acquire a 
meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. Contem- 
plated in his first estate, he had to the full that relative ana- 

The relative analo- logical kuOwlcdgC which falls tO the lot of 

gicai knowledge of ^ig facultics. He kucw his relations to 

God suited to tlie first, r^ t t • 

(jrod as his creator, his moral ruler and his 
final reward. He knew the rule of his duty, both natural 
and positive, and was w^arned of the consequences which 
must result from transgression. But his knowledge, as im- 
perfect and analogical, was founded in faith ; it rested upon 
principles which he was obliged to accept, but which he could 
not explain. He was thus brought, even in the sphere of 
the understanding, face to face with the will of God. He 
was capable of asking questions which he could not answer. 
He could project his reason beyond the limits which circum- 
scribed his faculties. All this was admirably suited to him, 
as a being to be confirmed in perfect acquiescence with the 
will of God. If he should be content with his prescribed 
limits, and make the law of his life " not my will, but Thine 
be done," he had the gracious promise that what he knew 
not now, he should know hereafter. To complain, therefore. 


of the limitations of his knowledge is to complain that he 
was put upon probation at all. Higher knowledge would 
have rendered all trial a mockery. To have been able to 
answer all questions Avould have been equivalent to the im- 
possibility of being deceived or seduced. Hence Adam's 
knowledge was exactly the kind of knowledge suited to his 
religion. Had he followed his nature — simply believed 
where it prompted him to believe without the ability to com- 
prehend ; had he been content to know only where science 
was possible to his faculties ; had he been willing to accept 
as facts what he could not explain as science, — had he, in 
other words, submitted with cheerfulness to the appointment 
of God, he might have maintained his integrity for ever. 
An absolute knowledge is as incompatible with probation as 
mathematical certainty with doubt. The understanding 
would have absolute control if it had absolute knowledge. 
But there is no medium between absolute and relative know- 
ledge. The latter may differ from itself in degrees, but all 
the decrees of it are in contradiction to absolute science. 
The objection we are considering is not to the degree in 
which man, as man, has it, but to the kind of knowledge 
itself. The objection would abolish all limitation, and have 
our theology the ectypal theology of God. 

In the next place, contemplate man in his fallen condition 
as a sinner, and the knowledge which he 

and to the second, , • i i n i • 

has IS, as precisely, adapted to his state. 
It is enough to make manifest his guilt and depravity. It 
reveals the abnormal tendencies of his soul. It affords a 
conspicuous proof of the charge which God brings against 
the race, and at the same time prevents the race from sup- 
pressing its real dispositions under a constraining, external 
pressure. Man is lai'gely at liberty to express himself — to 
develop the very core of his moral condition. The diffi- 
culties and perplexities he encounters in solving the enigmas 
of his being only afford opportunity of exhibiting in brighter 
colours the real enmity of his heart against God. They 
enable him to prove that he is a sinner beyond the possi- 


bility of doubt. At the same time they furnish the instru- 
ments bj which the Holy Spirit prepares him for the recep- 
tion of the gospeL They give rise to a conflict, a struggle ; 
the tendency of which, under the influence of grace, is to 
mould and subdue. To give an elect sinner absolute know- 
ledge would be to dispense with the whole j)rocess of con- 
viction of sin, and all those conflicts of pride, faith and un- 
belief by which, in humility, he is led to the Saviour. 
There Avould be no room for self-examination, for faith or 
for prayer. To give a non-elect sinner absolute knowledge 
would be to make him a devil and to drive him to despair. 
If we contemplate man in his state of partial recovery, 
relative knowledge is the knowledge which 

and to the third aspect i • 1j.1j.1*1j_' tt i i 

of our condition. alouc IS adapted to his duties. He has to 

form a holy character ; he has to form it 
within comparatively a short period. His graces must be 
put to the test and tried and strengthened. He must be 
liable to the assaults of doubt, of fear, of unbelief. He must 
be exposed to imposture and deceit, that his candour, sin- 
cerity and love of truth may have scope for exercise, and in- 
crease in their intensity. He must walk, therefore, by faith, 
and not by sight. Now all this is incompatible with abso- 
lute knowledge ; it is incompatible with even much higher 
degrees of relative knowledge than we now enjoy. Hence, 
in every aspect our knowledge is enough for the ends of 
religion. All that is required is true humility — a spirit of 
perfect contentment with our lot. If we see through a glass 
darkly, it is because a brighter vision would be destructive 
of the ends of our present moral state. 

Then, again, the finite symbols under which we know 

It also converts our ^^^^ ^"11 a natural transitiou from our 

daily life into an ar- natural to our rcligious life ; or rather are 

gument for devotion. , , i-i i •^ ^• o • 

the means by which our daily life is con- 
verted into an argument for devotion. If it is only in the 
creature that we see God, the creature should be obviously 
subordinated to the glory of God ; and if human affections 
are to be directed toward God, the relations under which 


they are developed with reference to each other are the 
relations under which they must fasten on Him. " We 
are not called upon," says Mansel/ "to live two distinct 
lives in this world. It is not required of us that the house- 
hold of our nature should be divided against itself — that 
those feelings of love and reverence and gratitude which 
move us in a lower degree toward our human relatives and 
friends should be altogether thrown aside and exchanged 
for some abnormal state of ecstatic contemplation, when we 
bring our prayers and praises and thanks before the footstool 
of our Father in heaven. We are none of us able to grasp 
in speculation the nature of the Infinite and Eternal, but 
we all live and move among our fellow-men, at times need- 
ing their assistance, at times soliciting their favours, at times 
seeking to turn away their anger. We have all, as chil- 
dren, felt the need of the supporting care of parents and 
guardians ; we have all, in the gradual progress of educa- 
tion, required instruction from the wisdom of teachers ; we 
have all offended against our neighbours, and known the 
l)lessings of forgiveness or the penalty of unappeased an- 
ger. We can all, therefore, taught by the inmost conscious- 
ness of our human feelings, place ourselves in communion 
with God when He manifests Himself under human im- 
ages. ' He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen,' 
says the Apostle Saint John, ' how can he love God whom 
he hath not seen?' Our heavenly affections must in some 
measure take their source and their form from our earthly 
ones ; our love toward God, if it is to be love at all, must 
not be wholly unlike our love towards our neighbour ; the 
motives and influences which prompt us when we make 
known our wants and pour forth our supplications to an 
earthly parent are graciously permitted by our heavenly 
Father to be the type and symbol of those by which our 
intercourse with Him is to be regulated." 

There is another aspect in which our partial knowledge, 
so far from weakening the grounds of religious worship, 
1 Limits of Eel. Thought, Lect. iv. 


has a tendency to strengthen them. If there were an absolute 
ignorance of God, there could be no wor- 

Our partial know- 1 1 • r> i i i i i 

ledge strengthens all ship at all J II tlicrc wcrc au absolute know- 
the grounds of wor- j^j^^^ ^^.^ sliould bc the cquals of God, and 
consequently free from all obligation to wor- 
ship. It is our dependence, marking us out as finite beings, 
which renders us creatures of religion. It is this which gives 
rise to prayer, to gratitude, to obligation, to trust and to duty. 
Religion cannot be predicated of the infinite and self-suffi- 
cient. It is the characteristic of the rational and intelligent 
creature. Those finite symbols under which God is repre- 
sented to us, and thought by us, furnish just the intimations 
of His character which are suited to be the basis of reve- 
rence and love. He is our Creator, our Redeemer, our 
Benefactor, our Ruler and our Judge. He is wise and 
powerful and good. He is faithful, merciful and just. 
These are the attributes which inspire confidence, and these 
are the relations under which religious affections are elicited 
and fostered. But if we should stop at the finite symbols, 
our religion would degenerate into earthly forms. We 
should love God as we love a man, and reverence His cha- 
racter as we honour a superior. Hence, to complete the 
notion of religious worship we must introduce the other ele- 
ment of our knowledge, in which God is negatively pre- 
sented as transcending the capacity of thought. It is only 
as we believe that He is independent of all limitations and 
conditions — that He is self-sufficient, unchangeable and eter- 
nal, that the heart can freely go out to Him with the full- 
ness of its homage. There is no limit upon our affections 
when the object is known to be unlimited in its right and 
fitness to receive them. The very darkness which shrouds 
this infinitude reacts upon our worship, and expands our 
emotions into rapture and adoration. An awful sense of 
sublimity, grandeur and majesty is awakened in the soul. 
The ground on wdiicli we tread becomes holy ground ; we 
are constrained to take the shoes from our feet, and stand in 
wondering awe as we gaze upon the glory of the Lord. 


Separate from God the finite iuiages in which we clothe 
His perfections, and there would be nothing to justify or 
regulate our worship. Restrict Him to these finite appear- 
ances, and there would be nothing to warrant the peculiar 
condition of mind which we call religion. Combine the two 
elements together, and you have the object upon which the 
soul can pour forth all its treasures, and feel itself exalted 
in the very act of paying homage. The positive element 
of our knowledge provides the basis for extending to God 
our human aifections ; the negative element transforms those 
affections into a sublimcr offering than any creature would 
be authorized to receive. A finite superior may be admired ; 
only an infinite God can be adored. " I love God," says 
Gregory Nazianzen, " because I know Him. I adore Him 
because I cannot comprehend Him." " What we deny of 
God," says the venerable John Owen, " we know in some 
measure, but what we affirm we know not ; only we declare 
what we believe and adore." We have light enough to see 
that the object is transcendently glorious, and when it 
passes beyond our vision into regions of illimitable excel- 
lence, where we have no faculties to pursue it, we are only 
the more profoundly impressed with the exceeding riches 
of its glory. It is the very light of eternity which darkens 
time. It is the brilliancy of the blaze which dazzles and 
confounds us. My ignorance of God, therefore, in the par- 
tial glimpses which I get of Him is only a stronger argu- 
ment for loving Him, If what I see is so inexpressibly 
sublime and worthy — and what I see is only a point com- 
pared with what I do not see — surely I should have no fears, 
no hesitation or reluctance in surrendering myself unreserv- 
edly and for ever to Him whose name is only a synonym 
for the plenitude of glory. How admirably is our know- 
ledge adapted to the ends of religion ! He who would 
quarrel with the present arrangement could never be con- 
tent unless God should seat him as an equal upon His 
throne, for as long as he remains finite he can have no 


other kind of knowledge, however it may differ in degree 
from that which he now enjoys. 

The account which has been given of the nature and ex- 

This view of our *^°* ^^ '^^^^' knowledge of God is in perfect 

knowledge of God harmouy with the teaching of Scripture. 

agreeable to Scripture. _ ,, i i ^^ • i 

In no respect/ says Mansel, ' is the 
theology of the Bible, as contrasted with the mythologies of 
human invention, more remarkable than in the manner in 
which it recognizes and adapts itself to that complex and 
self-limiting constitution of the human mind which man's 
wisdom finds so difficult to acknowledge. To human reason 
the personal and the infinite stand out in apparently irrecon- 
cilable antagonism ; and the recognition of one in a religious 
system almost inevitably involves the sacrifice of the other. 
The Personality of God disappears in the Pantheism of 
India ; His infinity is lost sight of in the Polytheism of 
Greece. In the Hebrew Scriptures, on the contrary, 
throughout all their variety of books and authors, one 
method of Divine teaching is constantly manifested, appeal- 
ing alike to the intellect and to the feelings of man. From 
first to last we hear the echo of that first great command- 
ment : ' Hear, O Israel ! the Lord our God is one Lord ; 
and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, 
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.' God is 
plainly and uncompromisingly proclaimed as the One and 
the Absolute : ' I am the first, and I am the last : and be- 
side me there is no God.' Yet this sublime conception is 
never for an instant so exhibited as to furnish food for that 
mystical contemplation to which the Oriental mind is natu- 
rally so prone. On the contrary, in all that relates to the 
feelings and duties by which religion is practically to be 
regulated, we cannot help observing how the Almighty, in 
communicating with His people, condescends to place Him- 
self on what may, humanly speaking, be called a lower level 
than that on which the natural reason of man would be in- 
clined to exhibit Him. While His personality is never suf- 
' Limits of Kel. Thought, Lect. v. 


ferecl to sink to a merely liuman representation — while it is 
clearly announced that His thoughts are not our thoughts, 
nor His ways our ways — yet His infinity is never for a mo- 
ment so manifested as to destroy or weaken the vivid reality 
of those liuman attributes under which He ajjpeals to the 
human sympathies of His creature. ' The Lord spake unto 
Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.' He 
will listen to our supplications ; He will help those that cry 
unto Him ; He reserveth wrath for His enemies ; He is ap- 
peased by repentance ; He showeth mercy to them that love 
Him. As a King, He listens to the petitions of His sub- 
jects ; as a Father, He pitieth His own children. It is im- 
possible to contemplate this marvellous union of the human 
and Divine, so perfectly adapted to the wants of the human 
servant of a Divine Master, without feeling that it is indeed 
the work of Him who formed the spirit of man and fitted 
him for the service of his Maker. ' He showeth His AVord 
unto Jacob, His statutes and ordinances unto Israel. He 
hath not dealt so with any nation ; neither have the heathen 
knowledge of His laws.' " 

" But if this is the lesson taught us by that earlier mani- 
festation in which God is represented under the likeness of 
human attributes, what may we learn from that later and 
fuller revelation which tells us of One who is Himself both 
God and man ? The Father has revealed Himself to man- 
kind under human types and images, that He may appeal 
more earnestly and effectually to man's consciousness of the 
human spirit within him. The Son has done more than 
this : He became for our sakes very man, made in all things 
like unto His brethren ; the Mediator between God and man, 
being both God and man. Herein is our justification if we 
refuse to aspire beyond those limits of human thought in 
which he has placed us. Herein is our answer if any man 
M'ould spoil us through philosophy and vain deceit. Is it 
irrational to contemplate God under symbols drawn from the 
human consciousness? Christ is our pattern, for Mn Him 
dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.' Is it un- 



philosophical that our thoughts of God should be subject to 
the law of time ? It was when the fullness of time was come 
God sent forth His Son. Does the philosopher bid us strive 
to transcend the human, and to annihilate our own person- 
ality in the presence of the infinite ? The Apostle tells us 
to look forward to the time when we shall ' all come in the 
unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, 
unto a perfect man ; unto the measure of the stature of the 
fullness of Christ.' Does human wisdom seek, by some 
transcendental form of intuition, to behold God as He is in 
His infinite nature ; repeating in its own manner the request 
of Philip, ' Lord, sliow us the Father, and it sufficeth us ? ' 
Christ Himself has given the rebuke and the reply : ' He 
that hath seen Me hath seen the Father ; and how sayest 
thou, then, Show us the Father ? ' " 

The principle which we have endeavoured to illustrate, 

Consequence, of the touchiug the limits of humau knowledge in 

principle herein iiius- relation to Diviuc thlugs, is prcguaut with 

trated : 

important consequences. 
1. In the first pkice, it conclusively shows that there can 
It shows that there ^6 uo such thing as a scicucc of God. We 
is no such thing as a can hardly use the terms without the sus- 

science of God. . . n t ^ i -xtr i • 

picion 01 blasphemy. Were such a science 
possible, it would lay bare the whole field of existence ; it 
would reveal the nature of creation ; the relation of the finite 
and the infinite in all the points of their contact ; and the in- 
most essence of things. It would be the very knowledge 
which God has Himself. But if we are restricted to ap- 
pearances, or to the relative manifestations of realities, our 
science, at best, can be but the result of multiplied com- 
parisons, and can hardly extend beyond the order and suc- 
cession of phenomena. Real being, as it exists in itself, or 
in relation to the Divine mind, must remain an impenetra- 
ble secret. AVe have to assume it as a fact, but we can 
neither explain nor conceive it. We cannot make it a term 
in logic, and reason from an analysis of its contents. Science 
can o'o no farther than observation can accumulate its facts. 


The inexplicable must ahvays be of larger extent than the 
simple and comprehensible. As, then, the limits of human 
thought encounter mysteries in every department of nature — 
mysteries which we are obliged to accept, though they defy 
every effort to reduce or overcome them ; as matter is a 
mystery, mind is a mystery, substance is a mystery, power 
is a mystery — surely we must expect nothing less than mys- 
teries when we enter the sphere of the infinite. God is, in- 
deed, the great incomprehensible. As the principle of all 
things, if we could comprehend Him we should in Him 
comprehend everything besides. As the sum, therefore, of 
all incomprehensibility, whenever we touch His Being or 
venture to scrutinize His purposes and plans we must ex- 
pect clouds and darkness to be round about His throne. A 
theology which has no mysteries ; in which everything is 
level to human thought, and capable of being reduced to 
exact symmetry in a human system ; which has no facts that 
command assent while transcending the province of human 
speculation, and contains no features which stagger the wis- 
dom of human conceit ; — a system thus thoroughly human 
is a system which is self-condemned. It has no marks of 
God upon it. For His footsteps are on the sea, and His 
paths in the great waters, and His ways past finding out. 
There is no searching of His understanding. Such a system 
would be out of harmony with that finite world in which 
we have our place. For there mystery encompasses us be- 
hind and before — in the earth, the air, the sea and all deep 
places, and especially in the secrets of our own souls. INIan 
lives and breathes and walks amid mystery in this scene of 
phenomena and shadows, and yet he would expect no 
mystery in that grand and real Avorld of which this is only 
a dim reflection ! 

2. In the next place, this principle suggests the real 
-^ . , , ,, cause of most of the errors in theology, and 

It iioiiits out the o. ' 

real cause of most thc rcal solutiou of its uiost pcrplcxing 

heresies. , , 

Most heresies have risen from believing the serpent's lie, 


that our faculties were a competent measure of universal 
truth. We reason about God as if we possessed an absohite 
knowledge. The consequence is, we are lost in confusion 
and error. We assume the infinite in our words and think 
the finite in our minds ; and the conclusion can only be a 
contradiction or a falsehood. The Unitarian professes to 
understand the Infinite Personality of God, and rejects the 
doctrine of the Holy Trinity with a smile of contempt. He 
forgets meanwhile that his argument has only proved that 
there cannot be three human persons in the same numerical 
essence. He has quietly eliminated the very element which, 
for aught he knows or can show, redeems the doctrine from 
all reasonable objection. Until he can tell us lohat the In- 
finite is, we need not listen to him while he undertakes to 
inform us lioni the Infinite is. It is so easy to slide into tlie 
habit of regarding the infinite and finite as only ditfcrent 
degrees of the same thing, and to reason froni one to the 
other with the same confidence with which, in other cases, 
we reason from the less to the greater, that the caution 
cannot be too much insisted on that God's thoughts are not 
our thoughts, nor God's ways our ways. To treat the power 
which creates and the human power which moves a foreign 
body as the same thing ; to apply to creation the laws and 
conditions which limit the mechanisms of man ; to represent 
the infinite as only a higher degree of human knowledge ; 
and to restrict each to the same essential conditions and 
modifications, is to make man God, or God man — a funda- 
mental falsehood, which must draw a fruitful progeny in its 

3. Our ignorance of i\\e Infinite is the true solution of the 

It solves the most ^^^^t pcrplcxiug problcms whicli cncouuter 

perplexing problems us at evcry stcj) iu the study of Divine 

of Theology. , -j^-, , . , / • ■ i 

truth. NVe have gained a great ponit when 
we have found out that they are really insoluble — that they 
contain one element which we cannot understand, and with- 
out which the whole must remain an inexplicable mystery. 
The doctrines of the Trinity, of the Incarnation, of the Pre- 


science of God and the Liberty of Man, the Permission of the 
Fall, the Propagation of Original Sin, the Workings of Ef- 
ficacious Grace, all these are facts which are clearly taught ; 
as facts they can be readily accepted, but they defy all efforts 
to reduce them to science. Their feet rest upon the earth, 
but their head is lost in the clouds. Our wisdom is to be- 
lieve and adore. The limits of human knowledge are a 
sufficient proof that thought is not commensurate with exist- 
ence ; that there are things which the very laws of thought 
compel us to accept, when it is impossible to reduce them 
into the forms of thought ; that the conceivable is not the 
standard of the real ; that " there are more things in heaven 
and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy." 

It is a great lesson when man has learned the enormity 
of his ignorance. True wisdom begins in humility, and 
the first dictate of humility is not to think of ourselves 
more highly than we ought to think. 



AMONG the methods whicli the Scriptures employ to 
answer the question concerning the nature and per- 
fections of God is the use of personal and attributive names. 
These names, unlike proper names among 
..l°,\n!inl J7" men, not only serve to denote the object 

names among men. j j J 

and to make it a subject of predication in 
thought, but they also signify, or, in the language of the 
schools, connote, the qualities by which the object is distin- 
guished. They are not unmeaning marks, discriminating 
one individual from another, as if by an arbitrary sign, but, 
like general terms, they are expressive of concepts which 
are realized only in God. They are applied to Him be- 
cause they contain a meaning which suits Him. They were 
assumed in condescension to our weakness, that we might be 
assisted in coming to a knowledge of His being and His 

character. They are a part of God's plan 
T t!l!.J„„ „°.,v ™L^° of teaching the race, as it is through the 

of teaching our race. o " o 

explanation of names in Avhich the sum 
of human attainment is recorded and preserved that the 
parent and teacher develop the opening faculties of the 
child, and stimulate and encourage its expanding curiosity. 
In relation to those which are not attributive, their very 
employment as proper names to designate a definite object 
of thought has obscured the connotation on account of 
which they were originally selected. They have ceased, in 
a great measure, to answer any other end than to single out 
the Deity as the subject of predication. They express Him 


144 THE NAMES OP GOD. [Lect. V. 

as a whole, and not under any particular aspect. We must 
trace them to their origin if we would understand the j^re- 
cise share they have contributed in the gradual progress 
of revelation to the Christian concept of God. Each has 
played a part in the j)roduction of the general result, and it 
is curious as well as instructive to trace the successive steps 
by which God has progressively unfolded 

God has gracUially tt- ir • . j ^ ±- . 

unfolded uimsuif. Mimseli lu ucw aspccts and relations to 

the human mind, until it has reached its 
present relative maturity of knowledge. Many streams 
have discharged their contents into a common reservoir, 
and it is remarkable that as the reservoir has increased 
„, ..... in quantitv the number of tributaries has 

The names diminish i / 

in number as the rev- bcCU diminished. TllC HcbrCW, the ear- 
elation advances. t i p i • 

liest language oi revelation, was quite co- 
pious in its names of God. The Greek, the next and only 
other language, with the exception of a very limited use of 
the Chaldee, employed by inspiration, has but two terms to 
designate the Divine Being as a total object of thought. 
And yet these two terms contain the fullness of the Hebrew 
vocabulary. When the idea was in process of being formed 
and matured there were many concurrent elements which 
were specially marked and distinguished. When the idea 
was fully completed, or as fully as the limits of human 
thought will allow, the elements were no longer distin- 
guished from each other, but the object was thought in its 
collective unity as a whole. One or two comprehensive 
names include everything. 

Jerome,^ following the computation of the Jews, enume- 
rates no less than ten names of God in Hebrew : " El, 
Elohim, Eloe, Sabaoth, Elion, Eser-Ieje, Adonai, Jah, 
Jehovah and Saddai." But Eloah and Elohim are evi- 
dently the same name in different numbers, one being sin- 
gular and the other plural. Sabaoth is not a name itself, 
but only a descriptive epithet applied to other names of 
God, particularly Jehovah. It is usually translated hosts, 
^ Epist. ad Marcell. de Decern Nom. 

Lect. v.] THE NAMES OF GOD. 145 

and seems to be a compendious expression for the universal do- 
minion of God. The Lord of Hosts is the Lord of all worlds 
and of all their inhabitants. Three others in the list are pro- 
bably variations of one and the same name — Jehovah, Ehyeh 
and Jah. The two most important desig- 

Two of the Hebrew . p nt i l_ • i • ji tt i 

names predominant. natious of God which occur m the Hebrew 
Scriptures are unquestionably Elohim and 
Jehovah. These are the most common and the most com- 
plete. They seem to contain within themselves every attri- 
bute which every other title connotes, and are consequently 
rendered, and rendered very properly, by dso^ and xupio^ in 
Greek. The use of them in the Pentateuch is very remark- 
able.^ There are (a) sections in which the name Elohim 
either exclusively or predominantly obtains ; (b) there are 
sections, again, in which the name Jehovah is tlie exclusive 
or ^predominant one ; (c) there are other sections in which 
the names are promiscuously used ; and then (d) there are 
others in which no name of God appears at all. From the 
seventh chapter of Exodus onward, with two or three ex- 
ceptions, the name Elohim almost entirely disappears, 
(a.) The sections in which the name Elohim prevails are — 
1. From the beginning of the first chapter 

Elohim sections. . ii.i 

of Genesis to the third verse of the second — 
the account of the creation. 2. The fifth chapter of Gene- 
sis — the generations of Adam, Avith the exception of the 
twenty-ninth verse. 3. The sixth chapter, from the ninth 
to the twenty-second verse — the generations of Noah. 
4. The seventh chapter, from the ninth to the twenty- 
fourth verse — the entrance into the ark, except that in the 
sixteenth verse the name Jehovah appears. 5. The eighth 
chapter, to the nineteenth verse — the end of the flood. 
6. The ninth chapter, to the seventeenth verse — the cove- 
nant with Noah. 7. The seventeenth chaj)ter — the insti- 
tution of circumcision. Here also the name Jehovah ap- 
pears in the first verse. 8. The twentieth chapter — 

1 Delitzsch, Com. Gen. Einleit, p. 30. Conf. note, p. 63, the substance 
of which is given in the text. 
Vol. I.— 10 

146 THE NAMES OF GOD. [Lect. V. 

Sarah's deliverance from Abimelech. Here again Jeho- 
vah is found in the eighteenth verse. 9. The tAventy-first 
chapter, to the twenty-first verse — the birth of Isaac and the 
sending away of Ishmaeh Jehovah here again appears in 
the first verse. 10. The twenty-first chapter, from the 
twenty -second to the twenty-fourth verse — Abraham's 
league with Abimelech. In the thirty-third verse we 
have Jehovah again. 11. The twenty-fifth chapter, to the 
eighteenth verse — the sons of Keturah, Abraham's death 
and the generations of Ishmael. The word, however, 
occurs but once in all this section. 12. From the forty- 
sixth verse of the twenty-seventh chapter to the ninth 
verse of the twenty-eighth chapter — Jacob's dismission 
to Haran, and Esau's marriage. We have Elohim once 
and El-Sliaddai once. 13. The thirty-first chapter — 
Jacob's departure from Laban, with the exception of the 
third and tlie forty-ninth verses, in whicli we have Jehovah. 
14. Chapter thirty-third — Jacob's return home. 15. Chap- 
ter thirty-fifth — Jacob's journey to Bethel. 16. From chap- 
ter forty to chapter fifty — the history of Joseph in Egypt. 
In the eighteenth verse of chapter forty-nine we have Jeho- 
vah. 17. The first and second chapters of Exodus — Israel's 
oppression in Egypt and the first preparation for deliverance. 

With Elohim is interchanged in these sections El-Shad- 
dai and El ; in connections, such as El-Elohe-Israel (chap, 
xxxiii. 20), or by itself alone (chap. xxxv. 1 , 3), and only 
once Adonai (chap. xx. 4). 

(b.) The sections in which the name Jehovah prevails 
are — 1. From Genesis, second chapter, 

Jehovah sections. /> i i • t i 

fourth verse, to third chapter, twenty- 
fourth verse — the beginning of the history of man. 2. 
Chapter fourth — the history of the first seed of the woman. 
3. Chapter sixth, from the first to the eighth verse — the 
increasing corruption before the flood. 4. Chapter sev- 
enth, from the first to the eighth verse — entrance into the 
ark. 5. Chapter eighth, from the twentieth to the twenty- 
second verse — Noah's altar and Jehovah's blessing. 6. Chap- 

Lect. v.] the names of god. 147 

ter ninth, from the eighteenth to the twenty-ninth verse — 
Noah's prophecy of the nations. 7. Chapter tenth — the 
table of original settlements. 8. Chapter eleventh, from 
the first to the ninth verse — ^the confusion of tongues. 9. 
Chapter twelfth, from the first to the ninth verse — Abram's 
journey to Canaan upon Jehovah's call. 10. Chapter 
twelfth, from the tenth to the twentieth verse — Abram in 
Egypt. 11. Chapter thirteenth — Abram's separation from 
Lot. 12. Chapter fifteenth — Abram's faith and covenant- 
offering. 13. Chapter sixteenth — Ishmael's birth, Hagar's 
flight and return. 14. Chapter eighteenth — Jehovah's visit 
to Abraham in his tent. 15. Chapter nineteenth — the de- 
struction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot's last history. 
16. Chapter twenty-fourth — Isaac's marriage. 17. Chap- 
ter twenty-fifth, from the nineteenth to the twenty-sixth 
verse — the birth of the twins. 18. Chapter twenty-sixth — 
Isaac's sorrows and comforts. 19. Chapter twenty-seventh, 
first forty verses — transition of the birth-right to Jacob. 

20. Chapter thirtieth, from the twenty-fifth to the forty- 
third verse — a new covenant between Jacob and Laban. 

21. Chapter thirty-eighth — the birth of Pharez and Zarah. 

22. Chapter thirty-ninth — Jehovah with Joseph in Poti- 
phar's house and in prison. 23. Exodus, chapter fourth, 
from the eighteenth to the thirty-first verse — the return of 
Moses to Egypt. 24. Exodus, chapter fifth — Pharaoh's 
rouffh treatment of the messengers of Jehovah. 

In these sections, from Genesis, second chapter, fourth 
verse, to end of chapter third, the name Jehovah-Elohim is 
the prevailing usage, a combination which occurs only once 
more (Ex. ix. 30) in the whole Pentateuch. The name 
Elohim occurs in this section only in the mouth of the ser- 
pent and the woman. The exceptions to the universal use 
of Jehovah in the other sections are very few. The word 
Adonai most frequently interchanges with Jehovah, but it 
is always used in the form of a compellation or address. 
(Gen. xviii. 3, 27, 30, 31, 32 ; xix. 18.) The combination 
Adonai-Jehovah is characteristic of Deuteronomy. It is 

148 THE NAMES OF GOD. [Lect. V. 

found in Genesis, fifteenth chapter, verses second and eighth, 
and, with the exceptions of the passages in Deuteronomy, 
occurs nowhere else in the Pentateuch. As in the Elohini 
sections that title interchanges with El, so in the Jehovah 
sections that title interchanges with Adonai. The title 
Adonai, however, is used by Abimelech in one of the 
Elohim sections. 

(c.) The sections in which Jehovah and Elohim are pro- 
miscuously used are Genesis, fourteenth 

Sections, where used i , ii , ii,i -.i ,i i> 

promiscuously. Chapter — A Dram s battle with the four 

kings; twenty-second chapter, first nine- 
teen verses — the offering up of Isaac ; twenty-eighth chap- 
ter, from the tenth to the twenty-second verse — Jacob's 
dream at Bethel ; from chapter twenty-ninth, verse thirty- 
first, to chapter thirtieth, verse twenty-fom-th — the birth 
and naming of the sons of Jacob. Another section (Gen. 
xxxii.) in the beginning and end is Elohimish, and in the 
middle Jehovish. In Exodus, from the tlxird chapter, first 
verse, to the fourth chapter, seventeenth verse — ^tlie call of 
Moses — besides the name Jehovah, Elohim, with the article, 
occurs eight times. 

[d.) The sections in which no name of God apjjears at all 
are Gen. xi. 10-32 ; xxii. 20-24 ; xxiii. ; 

Sections, where not c-*— r> j •' a-i a tr- • -i m-\ 

used at all. ^xv. 27-34; xxvu. 41-45; xxix. 1-30; 

xxxiv. ; xxxvi. ; xxxvii. 

It would seem, from such an extent and variety of usage, 

that it would be easy to discriminate the precise shades of 

meaning by which these names are distinguished from 

each other. But it must be confessed, after all the efforts 

of elaborate ingenuity, that a steady and 

The use is often in- •/■ t i* j^* • i i j. 

discriminate uniiomi distuictiou IS by uo mcaus kept up. 

There are numerous passages in which no 
reason can be given for the use of one in preference to the 
other. It is impossible to explain, for example, as Delitzsch 
has remarked,^ why in all the sections — Gen. vi. 9-22, ix. 
1-17, XX. 1-17, XXXV. — the name Jehovah is nowhere used. 

^ Comment. Gen. Einleit., p. 32. 

Lect. v.] THE NAMES OF GOD. 149 

If it were declined by design, we are unable to detect the 
because both names ^ature of tlic motive. The truth is, both 
are complete designa- naiucs werc rcvereuced and honoured as full 

and complete designations of God. They 
denoted the same object, and denoted it in the integrity of 
its attributes. Hence it was often a matter of indiflPerence 
which was employed. The writer consulted his taste, and 
used sometimes one and sometimes the other, merely to give 
an agreeable variety to his style. Where there was no 
danger of ambiguity there was no need of special caution in 
the selection of his terms. 

But still there are passages in which the use is the evident 
result of design ; and it is in these passages, assisted by the 
etymology of the words, that we are to seek for their true, 
original connotation. 

I begin with Elohim, because that is the first name of 

God which appears in the Hebrew Bible. 

It is the title under which He is described 
as the Creator of the world. It was Elohim who called into 
being the heavens and the earth — who spake light into ex- 
istence, and separated the day from the night. It was He 
who stretched out the firmament ; collected the waters ; up- 
raised the dry land ; and who peopled the earth with all its 
variety of plants and animals. It was He who studded the 
sky with stars, and appointed the seasons of the earth. It 
was He who made man in His own Divine image. We can- 
not but think that the selection of this term in the account 
of creation was a matter of design. There must have been 
a peculiar fitness in it to express the relation of the Creator 
to His works. We pass through the work of the days until 
we come to the origin of man. There the Elohim appears 
as not only one, but as also plural. He seems to be in con- 
sultation with Himself: " Let us make man, in our image, 
after our likeness." The noun, too, is in the plural number; 
and while its concord with singular verbs indicates unity, 
its plural form indicates plurality. These are all facts which 
lie upon the surface. 

150 THE NAMES OF GOD. [Lect. V. 

The first inference which I draw is that this word by its 
very form is intended to express the trine 
T^Zlm. *''' *"" Personality of God. It is the name of the 
Trinity — the Father, the Son and the Holy 
Ghost. The consultation in Genesis i. 26 cannot be con- 
sistently explained upon any other hypothesis. That alone 
is enough to set aside the notion of a pluralis majestaticus, 
or a pluralis intensionis. Then, again, we find that the work 
of creation is promiscuously ascribed to each Person of the 
blessed Godhead. It was, in fact, the work of the Trinity. 
If this is a clear and indisputable truth, we should interpret 
the narrative in Genesis in conformity with its light. Thus 
far, I think, the ground is firm beneath us. "When the 
great God is first announced to us. He is announced to us 
by a name which proclaims Him as the Father, Son and 
Holy Ghost — the God whom we adore, in the new creation, 
through the Lord Jesus Christ. 

But the question now arises. Why has this particular 
word been selected to reveal this mystery ? "What special 
significancy, apart from this personal allusion, does it con- 
tain ? Here I confess myself perplexed. Among the con- 
flicting etymologies which have been proposed, there are 
only two which seem to me worthy of 
serious consideration. The first is that 
which derives it from nSx, alah in the Arabic signification 
of the root, to reverence, to worship, to adore. According to 
this etymology, it is applied to the Trinity as the sole object 
of religious worship. The God who exists in these three 
Persons is the only being to whom we are at liberty to direct 
our prayers or our praises. We are His, for He made us, 
and we are bound to honour Him in His threefold subsist- 
ence ; for in this mysterious relation He is infinitely worthy. 
Delitzsch takes the Arabic root in the sense of fear, and of a 
fear which deprives us of our self-possession. He supposes 
that it is applied, by a natural association, to the object 
which excites this fear ; and pre-eminently to God, as the 
truly terrible one. But this exposition is liable to insur- 

Lect. v.] the names of god. 151 

mountable objections. Such fear is not the normal relation 
betwixt a rational creature and God — it is the product only 
of sin ; and such fear, so far from being acceptable worship, 
is utterly inconsistent with the genuine spirit of devotion. 
God presents Himself to us to be loved and trusted. He is 
only terrible to the workers of iniquity. The other etymology 
derives the word from nSx, alah, to swear, and represents 
the Trinity as engaged in an eternal covenant, which was 
ratified betwixt them by the solemnity of an oath. It is 
certain that the Son was constituted a priest for ever after the 
order of Melchizedek by an oath. The council of peace was 
between them both, and reference is supposed to be had to 
this august transaction — a transaction which, in its historic 
accomplishment, unfolds, in full proportion, the glorious 
doctrine of the three in one — when God is introduced as 
erecting the stage upon which the historic fulfilment should 
take place. This, I think, is the real im- 

The true import of j. i? xl j.1 rn • 'x • i 

giyjji^j port 01 the name — the irinity in covenant 

for man's redemption ; and if this be so, it 
is very suggestive that the first title by which God proclaims 
Himself to our race should be a title of blessedness and grace. 
He appears in the old creation only as preparing the way 
for the new. He is God the Creator, that He may be also 
God the Redeemer. 

The analogical application of this title to kings and mag- 
istrates is compatible with either etymol- 

This title applicaUo -r/* r^ -\ • nil tt • 

tojjiugs ogy. it God IS so called because He is 

the object of reverence and fear, then the 
intimation is that subjects are bound to treat their rulers 
with honour and respect. If the allusion is to the eternal 
covenant as ratified by an oath, then the implication is that 
magistrates arc ministers of God, bound by an awful sanc- 
tion to be a terror to evil-doers and a praise to them that do 
well. They are reminded that their authority is a sacred 
trust, and that their claim to the hoinage of their people 
depends upon the fidelity with which they discharge their 
duties. The people, too, are reminded of their duties, espe- 

152 THE NAMES OF GOD. [Lect. V. 

cially the duty of reverencing authority as an ordinance 
of God. 

Cocceius adopts the derivation of Elohim from alah, to 
swear, but interprets the oath as the sign not of the Eternal 
Covenant betwixt the Persons of the Godhead, but of the 
covenant into which God enters with men in the dispensa- 
tion of His grace. The reference, according to him, is to 
the promises of the gospel, and the faithfulness with which 
they shall certainly be fulfilled to all who believe. The 
jjredominant idea in this case, as in the other, is that of a 
God in covenant, so that this, however explained, may be 
taken as the fundamental meaning of the word. 

The next title of God which appears in the Pentateuch, 
and which is everywhere used with awful 

Jehovah. . i ,> 

reverence, is the tetragrammaton, the lour- 

lettered word, Jehovah. The Jews since the exile have 

ceased to pronounce it. The Talmud 

Jewish superstition. i • i i 

amrms that the angels in heaven dare not 
utter it, and denounces fearful vengeance upon the bold 
blasphemer who should attempt to profane it. But that 

the name was familiar to the patriarchs, 

The patriarchs used . i i -i j. i x xi r 

the name. ^hat they wcrc accustomed to the use oi 

it, and knew of no superstition which con- 
verted it into a charm, is manifest from many passages of 
the Pentateuch. Eve repeats it without hesitation and 
alarm when she gives thanks that she had gotten a man 
from the Lord [Jehovah] (Gen. iv. 1 ). In the days of Enos 
it is expressly said that then men began to call upon the 
name of the Lord [Jehovah]. Between Bethel and Hai, 
Abram is said to have pitched his tent, to have built an 
altar, and to have called upon the name of the Lord [Jeho- 
vah] (Gen. xii. 8, conf Gen. xiii. 4; xiv. 22; xxvii. 16). 
It is the angel of the Lord [Jehovah] who appears to 
Hagar, predicts the future fortunes of her son and sends her 
back to her mistress (Gen. xvi. 7-14). It would be tedious 
to quote the passages all through the patriarchal history 
which abundantly and conclusively show that the fathers 

Lect, v.] the names of god. 153 

were familiar with this august and glorious name. They 
used it in their solemn worship and in their religious trans- 
actions with one another. 

The Jewish superstition seems to derive some counte- 
nance from the memorable passage, Ex. vi. 
tefpTeted/'' '' ' "" 2, 3: "And God spake unto Moses and 
said unto him, I am the Lord [Jehovah], 
and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob 
by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was 
I not known to them." The correct interpretation of this 
passage will give us the key to the precise aspects of His 
character in which God would be contemplated under the 
name Jehovah. The meaning is, not that the name was 
unknown to them, but that there was something in the name 
which they had not yet been in a condition to realize. It 
contained a virtue, the efficacy of which they had not pre- 
viously experienced, but which they were now about to be 
privileged to witness. To appreciate the force of this ob- 
servation, we must distinguish betwixt the absolute mean- 
ing of the word, and the relation of that meaning to the 
children of Israel. Absolutely, and in itself, it expresses 
the essential nature of God, as the One, the Infinite, the 
Eternal and the Unconditioned. It is a synonym for all 
those perfections which transcend the capacity of thought, 
and mark God out as the only true Existence in the uni- 
verse — the ovTCDQ ov. It is derived from the substantive 
verb to he; it is, indeed, the third person future of that 
verb, and literally signifies he is or will he. When God ap- 
plies it to Himself, without relation to the manner in which 
a third person would speak of Him, He uses the first person, 
and says, n^nx, Eliyeh, I am, or I will he ; or, '^IT}^ "^^^^ ^"D^y 
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, I am ivhat I am, or I am what I will he. 
It is equivalent to the " Who was, who is, and who is to 
come," or " shall he," of the New Testament. It expresses 
the absolute plenitude of being, an esse in which, to use the 
language of Cocceius, there is no deesse. It includes eter- 
nity, self-existence, immutability, simplicity, omnipotence, 

154 ■ THE NAMES OF GOD. [Lect. V. 

omniscience, and, in short, the consummation of all possible 
perfections. It means, in brief, the entire essence of God 
as He is in Himself 

All this the patriarchs knew. But this absolute being 
presents Himself, in this title, under a special relation to 
His people. It implies that what He is in Himself He 
will be to them, according to the measure of their capacity. 
From the fullness that is in Him they shall receive and 
receive abundantly, even grace for grace. His Jehovahshij) 
is the pledge of the absolute fulfilment of all His promises. 
He is all, and therefore can become all, to those who fear 
Him. Hence to call Himself Jehovah is to proclaim the 
stability of His covenant, and to pawn His very existence 
in proof that He will become, and that from Himself, the 
satisfying portion of His saints. It was this relation, most 
precious and interesting, of the Absolute to us, which the 
fathers had not yet fully apprehended. They knew God as 
the Author of blessings, but the relation of those blessings. 
to Himself — the fact that it was He in the blessing that 
constituted its value — this great idea had not taken posses- 
sion of their souls. They had not learned that God was in 
all that He freely gave, and that it was only as He was in 
it that the gift was really worth receiving. Hence this is 
precisely the name which suits God as a Saviour and Re- 
deemer. It exactly represents the relations of the Son 
when He became flesh, gave Himself a ransom for our sins, 
and becomes to us, by a mysterious but glorious union. 
Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption. 
We are in Him and He in us. We are because He is, and 
because He lives we shall live also. 

Hence, from the nature of the case this name cannot be 
analogically transferred to any creature, 

This title not trans- . ^ ^ 

ferabie to any crea- liowevcr cmincut or cxalted. JNo crcature 
*'^'"^' can communicate as from Himself He 

can only give what he receives. His sufficiency is from 
God. But the peculiarity of Jehovah is, that He gives what 
is His own. He is life, and therefore imparts it. He is 

Lect. v.] THE NAMES OF GOD. 155 

holiness, and therefore infuses it. He is blessedness, and 
therefore communicates it. He is salvation, and therefore 
bestows it. All that he promises He is, and therefore 
His promises are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. It is 
this relation of the Absolute to the creature that con- 
stitutes the peculiar signijficancy of the name of Jehovah. 
And, therefore, in a different sense, we may adopt the lan- 
guage of the Jew, and pronounce this to be a glorious and 
an ineffable name. It is a name at which devils may well 
tremble, for it reveals the unutterable depths of their pov- 
erty, while saints and angels tremble and adore. This God 
is our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide even 
unto death. 

The application of this name to Jesus Christ, which the 

writers of the New Testament do not scruple to make, is a 

pregnant and unanswerable proof of His absolute divinity. 

Indeed it is only in Jesus Christ that the 

Full import of it p n • j_ i} iA • • ^ i 

oniyinJesLcinist. ™11 import of this name IS or can be real- 
ized to us. Here and here alone is Jeho- 
vah, as Jehovah, known by the rich experience of the heart. 
If this exposition be correct, there was a peculiar propriety 
when God was about to appear as the Redeemer of Israel 
in His appearing under this name. It revealed Him as an 
object of assured and steadfast faith. There is also a pro- 
priety in the prominence which is given to it when the 
sacred writers leave the history of the world at large, and 
confine their narratives for the most part to the fortunes of 
God's redeemed people — His Church. There is also an ex- 
quisite beauty in God's appearing under the name Jehovah 
when He summons the guilty pair into His presence, and 
comforts them in their sorrow under the prospect of a great 
Deliverer. There is also a peculiar force and emphasis in 
the combination Jehovah-Elohim, as condensing the entire 
sum of the relations in which the creature can stand to God. 
The third name, Jah, is generally re- 
garded as an abbreviated form of Jehovah. 
Like it, it is exclusively appropriated to the Sujjreme God. 

156 THE NAMES OF GOD. [Lect. V. 

It is peculiar to poetry, and especially the poetry of praise. 
Its combination with Jehovah might seem incompatible 
with the notion that it is simply an abridgment of the same 
word. Cocceius derives it from the word hn;, yaah, in the 
sense of decency and Jitness; and in this sense it expresses 
the harmony, beauty and glory of the Divine perfections. 
It is the affirmation that God is, in all respects, like Him- 
self, and the absolute standard of all that is becoming and 
beautiful in the creature. According to this exposition, it 
represents God in that very asj)ect of His being which 
renders Him the object of our praise. It is, in other words, 
a compendious expression for His unutterable beauty, and is 
fitly joined with hallelu, as an exhortation to praise the Lord. 
Adonai, pointed with a quametz, is also a name exclusively 
applied to God. It implies sovereign do- 

Adonai. ^j- , , \ ^ == _ 

mimon, and is equivalent to Lord and 
Master. It implies a dominion, however, which is founded 
in ownership, and is therefore peculiarly appropriate to God, 
whether we contemplate Him as Creator or Redeemer. We 
are His, for He made us, and we belong pre-eminently to 
Christ, for He has bought us with His own precious blood. 
This is the word which the Jews substitute for Jehovah 
wherever Jehovah occurs in the sacred text. 

Shaddai, sometimes preceded by El, sometimes alone, is a 

term by which God is represented as Al- 

Shaddai. "^ . 

mighty and Supreme. It is rendered by the 
Septuagint Tzavroxpdrtop. It is plural in its form, jjossibly 
to express the intensity and fullness of the Divine power. 
El, derived from S-ik, aul, or from Vn, ayl, properly sig- 
nifies the Strong One. Used absolutely and 
in the singular, it is restricted universally 
to the true God. It represents Him as irresistible in His 
purposes, vanquishing all obstacles, subduing all enemies, 
and bringing His own purposes to pass. 

Elyon, from nS;?, ahdi, to ascend, is pro- 

Elyon. •' ' . ' . 1 1 . 

perly an adjective with a superlative sense, 
and describes God as the Most High ; or the High and Lofty 

Lect. v.] the names of god. 157 

One who inhabiteth eternity. It is equivalent to the iK/udTOi; 
of the Greeks. It simply reveals, by an easy and obvious 
figure, the absolute supremacy of God. 

These are the names by which the nature and perfections 
of God are compendiously set forth in the Old Testament. 
There are many other titles which designate special relations, 
such as Judge and Lawgiver, but these can in no sense be 
regarded as proper names. 

In Greek we have deo^ and xupio;;, which, whatever may 

Two Greek titles ^^vc becu the Original ground of their use, 

answering to Eiohim i;iow dcuotc tlic Suprcmc Jcliovah, and 

and Jehovah. . • /, , . , ^ tt-* 

signify at the same time the sum oi His 
perfections, and of the essential relations in which He stands 
to His creatures. The fundamental notion in xupcoz, Lord, 
is certainly that of power and of rightful dominion ; but, in 
the Sejjtuagint and New Testament it is made synonymous 
with Jehovah, and must consequently be taken in the full 
sense of that glorious name. The fundamental notion of 
deoQ, God, may be that of the Arranger — God as the author 
of the beauty and order in the Universe ; but the Septuagint 
has made it equivalent to Eiohim, and we are to employ it 
in no more restricted sense. Indeed, it was the only strictly 
proper name among the Greeks for the supreme and ever- 
lasting God. 

These Divine names served a most important purpose 
among the patriarchs in recording, preserving and giving 
unity to their knowledge of God. They could hardly have 
been dispensed with. The concept of an earthly object re- 
quires a sign to hold its elements together ; much more does 
such a concept as that of God. We see the value of names 
in the instruction of children. It is through the explanation 
of words that they are slowly and progressively conducted 
to the knowledge of things. How graciously has God con- 
descended, in the revelation of Himself, to our weakness and 
our faculties ! 



WHEN we come to a closer determination of the nature 
and attributes of God, we encounter the question, 
Whether there is any sense in which He can be defined ? 
That no human language can represent Him as He is in 
Himself is perfectly obvious from the fact, that no human 
thought can conceive Him in His infinite and absolute 
essence. Here, in the words of the venerable Cyril of Jeru- 
salem,^ our highest knowledge is to confess our ignorance. 
The very notion, moreover, of defining the infinite, seems to 
involve a contradiction. To define is to limit, to determine, 
to restrict; but the infinite must cease to be infinite in 
coming under these conditions of human 

God indefinable, , . ..irti 

thought. As it exists in itself, therefore, it 
is manifestly indefinable. Add to this, that God transcends 
all the distinctions of Logic which definition presupposes. 
He is neither genus nor species. Intensely and exclusively 
singular, He stands alone in His being ; there are none on 
earth to be compared with Him, none in heaven to be ranked 
with Him. " To whom then will we liken God, or what 
likeness will ye compare unto Him ?" ^ 

But the case is different in relation to our own finite oon- 
butwecanexpressour ccptious. Tlicsc, though inadequate to rep- 
finite conceptions of rcscut God, may themselves be adequately 

represented in language. If we cannot 
answer the question, what God is in Himself, we can certainly 
answer the question, what God is as He appears to us. We 

1 Catechis., vi. 2. 2 Isa. xl. 18. 



can combine our knowledge and our faith in the terms of a 
description which, though not conformable with the laws, 
may answer all the ends of a logical definition. Our ana- 
logical concepts we can refer to a genus, and this genus we 
can distinguish by the properties which we know and believe 
We must conceive of ^ be csscutial to God. Wc think the 
God as substance and Divinc, as wc do cvcry otlicr being, under 

the relation of substance and attribute ; the 
substance being determined by the attributes, and the at- 
tributes conceived as manifestations of the substance. When 
asked. Quid sit f we answer in terms descriptive of the sub- 
stance ; when asked, Qualis sit f we answer in terms descrip- 
tive of the attributes. In conformity with this view various 

definitions have been given of God. Some 

A definition of God t n tt* xI i i j i c i ^ • 

considered. defiuc Him as the absolutely perfect bemg 

— heing the genus ; and absolutely perfect, 
the specific difiference. But the difficulty here is that no 
positive knowledge is conveyed. We begin with a series of 
negations, and can never translate ourselves beyond the 
sphere of darkness in which we have placed ourselves. We 
confound a faith in an unknown reality with a positive de- 
termination of human thought. To this and all such defi- 
nitions pretending to posit the essence of the absolute, the 
following remarks of Van Mastricht^ are applicable : " This 
is no more a legitimate definition of God than to say of man, 
He is the most perfect sublunary being, would be a legitimate 
definition of him. And yet who would accept such a defini- 
tion, or admit it as any real explication of the human essence? 
No more is that a genuine definition of God which simply 
represents Him as the absolutely perfect being. For neither 
the genus heing, to which He is assigned, nor the difference, 
absolutely perfect, contains any real explication of His essence. 
Not being, for that rather proj)Oses than explains it ; affirms 
that it is, rather than what it is. Not absolutely perfect, be- 
cause that seems to express a relation or comparison, by 
which the essence of God surpasses the essence of every other 
^ Quoted in De Moor, cap. iv., § 11. 


thing. Everything whatever, as long as it is, is a something 
perfect. Hence, by j^^rfection simjily, the essence of God 
cannot be accurately discriminated from the essence of any 
other thing. The addition of the qualifying epithet abso- 
lutely, only institutes a comparison, but determines nothing 
as to the nature of the things compared." 

Perrone,^ the distinguished professor of theology in the 

Jesuit College at Rome, makes the essence of God to consist 

in His independence and self-existence. According to him, 

an essence should always fulfil four condi- 

A second definition ,• -iTii ill j1' •,•• 

considered. tious : 1. It sliould DC Something lutrmsic 

to the thing; 2. It should distinguish it 
from every other thing ; 3. It should be first in the order 
of thought when we undertake to conceive the thing ; and, 
4. It should be construed as the fons et origo of all its per- 
fections. These conditions in relation to God, he maintains, 
are realized in the notion of self-existence. This, then, is 
the Divine essence. But what do we know of self-existence 
apart from the denial of a cause ? What positive concept have 
we from which we can deduce any positive conclusion what- 
ever ? Just give to a man what he calls the notion of self- 
existence and nothing else — the mere negation of a cause — 
and what is he likely to achieve in the way of revealing the 
only true God of our worship ? The negative can give no- 
thing but the negative. Remove the manifestations which 
God has made of Himself in the works of creation and 
providence — remove the Scriptures, and leave us nothing 
but the naked concept of necessary being — and it seems to 
me intuitively obvious that it would be as barren of results 
as the baldest identical proi^osition. As regulative, in the 
sphere of positive thought, it is immensely important. But 
as a fons et origo of perfections, it is as sterile as the sands 
of Arabia. 

"VYe dismiss, therefore, as frivolous all efforts to represent 
the essence of God, as thought, in terms of the absolute. If 
we ascribe to Him any attributes at all, we are constrained 
^ Prselect. TheoL, Pt. I., c. iii., prop. iii. 


by the constitution of our nature to think Him as a sub- 
stance or subject in which these attributes inhere. That 
substance must be determined by the nature of the attributes 
themselves. And as we know of but two substances, mind 
and matter, we are constrained to represent God under the 
analogy of one or the other, according as the manifestations 
in His works and the revelation of His vford shall decide. 
He is either material or spiritual. Between these, so far as 

known to us, there is no middle ; and which 
to be asptru^'""^ ^^ ^^ thcsc most fitly represents the nature of 

God is hardly susceptible of doubt. 
The best definition, in a brief compass, is that contained 
in the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly : 

God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and un- 

The best definition. . tt- i • • 7 

changeable m Uis being, wisdom, power, 
holiness, justice, goodness and truth. Here the genus to 
which the substance of God is referred is spirit, in strict 
accordance with the Scriptures and the manifestations of 
His nature which are made by His works ; the difference, 
those qualities which belong to spirit in its full and normal 
development, heightened beyond all bounds of conception 
by terms which are borrowed from God as an object of 
faith. In this definition there is an admirable combination 
of what we know with what we are only able to believe, 
and God is represented in language precisely as He appears 

in thought. There is but one defect. It 

But it is defective. 

seems to me that the peculiar personality 
of God should have been distinctly and prominently an- 
nounced. He is not only Spirit, but Personal Spirit, and 
not Personal barely, but Tri-persoual — the Father, the Son 
and the Holy Ghost. To describe Him as a Spirit subsist- 
ing in three Persons, and then as infinite, eternal and un- 
changeable in all the perfections which are proper to Spirit, 
is to make as near an approximation to an accurate defini- 
tion as it is possible for our faculties to compass,^ Spirit 
expresses the nature and answers the question, Quid sit? 

1 Cf. De Moor, c. iv., § 12. 
Vol. L— 11 


The properties express the perfections and answer the ques- 
tion, Quails sit f One can only be thought 
Answer to the two ^^ ^^^ correlative of the other.' We know 


the nature, as a 2")ermanent, unchanging 
subject, only through the attributes by which it is revealed, 
and know it only as their ground and centre of unity. 

The notion of attributes arises from the nature of the 
effects which we are constrained to ascribe to the agency of 
God. We know what He is by seeing what He does. We 

remark the traces of order and design 

How we get our no- o 

tions of God's attri- whicli are everywhere conspicuous around 
us, and we immediately feel that the Au- 
thor of the universe must be possessed of knowledge and 
wisdom. We listen to the teachings of our own consciences, 
and cannot but collect that He who compels us to distinguish 
in our own souls betwixt the right and the wrong is Himself 
a being of rectitude. The products of His will, in the 
mighty works of His hands which are everywhere dis- 
played to view, are in the same way confessions of His 
power. Attributes, therefore, may be defined as the deter- 
minations of the Divine Being to human thought, suggested 
by the relations in which He stands to His works. They 
are the modes under which we conceive Him. 

All the attributes of God are essential ; that is, they are 

nothing separate and distinct from God, 

They are not sepa- ^ (j ^ Himsclf manifested in such and 

rable froni His essence. -^ >-' ^ ^ ^ 

such forms. The same may be said of the 
faculties of the human soul ; they are not something distinct 
from the soul, and added to it as a complement to its being, 
but are only the soul itself existing in such and such modes 
of consciousness. We can logically discriminate betwixt 
essence and properties ; and in every other being there are 
properties which may be conceived as detached from the 
essence, but in the case of God the essence and the proper- 
ties completely coincide. He has no separable accidents. 
All that He is. He is essentially. The importance of this 
principle has been illustrated in the controversy with the 


Socinians, who were willing to acknowledge the Holy Ghost 
as an attribute of God, but were not willing to acknowledge 
Him as God. 

It is commonly maintained by divines not only that the 
attributes are not distinct from the essence, 

Their being all rad- ^^^ ^j^^^ ^j^ ^^,^ ^^^^ ^^^^jj distiuct from 
ically one, '' 'i 

one another. They are all radically one. 
Wisdom, goodness, justice, power, anger, pity, love, — all 
these, as they exist in God, are really one and the same 
mode of consciousness. This conclusion is supposed to be 
necessitated by the doctrine of the simplicity of God. He 
is held to be absolved from every species of composition, 
physical, logical and metaphysical. He is not a whole 
made up of parts. He admits of no distinctions of genus 
and species, or of substance and quality. He is nakedly 
and absolutely one. There are and can be no differences or 

distinctions in His nature. It is said, ac- 
Sioi^u'LT"'^' cordingly, that if weascribe to Him attri- 

butes really distinct from each other, each 
would be a different thing, and the unity of God, instead 
of being one, simple and indivisible, would be an aggregate 
or sum of different qualities. I can understand how the 
simplicity and unity of God absolve Him from physical and 
loo:ical distinctions. I can understand that He is not com- 
posed of parts, like body, nor capable of being classed under 
genera and species, but I cannot understand why the meta- 
physical distinction of substance and quality is at all incon- 
„ , .,,.,, sistent with the most perfect simplicity. 

Reply to this state- J- i ./ 

ment from the doc- If all distinctious of cvery kind are to be 

trine of the Trinity, i i i /• .1 /^ Jl j r • -j. 

excluded from the Godhead, how is it pos- 
sible to reconcile the doctrine of the Trinity with the abso- 
lute unity of the Divine nature? The very core of the 
doctrine is that there are distinctions, and distinctions in 
the essence of the Godhead without which there would and 
could be no God at all. The truth is, absolute simplicity is 
to us wholly unintelligible ; it is only the negation of every 
form of composition. But when every form of composition 


is removed, the positive thing that remains transcends our 
capacity of thought. We know not what it is, and it is 
idle to undertake to reason from it as if it were a positive 
element of knowledge. 

To us the law of substance and quality is an intrinsic 
condition of existence, independently of which we are un- 
able to think any object whatever ; and as the law of human 
knowledge is that of plurality and diifer- 
our owu^iinds '^^ ° eucc, qualities must be presented as distinct 
manifestations of their substance, or they 
convey nothing to the mind. Absolute identity to beings 
constituted as we are would be as bootless as absolute non- 
entity. Tf the simplicity of the human soul is not disturbed 
or impaired by distinct modes of consciousness, if it con- 
tinues permanently one in the midst of the many, I see no 
heresy in supposing that something analogous may obtain in 
the infinite being of God, and that He reconciles variety 
with unity, distinctions with simplicity, in a manner which 
does not detract from His absolute perfection. 

How the one in God appears as the many to us is ex- 
plained by the distinction betwixt virtual or eminent and 
„^ ^. ,. , . real difference. This distinction plays so 

The distinction of r J 

eminent and real dif- important a part in theological treatises 
' that I shall take this opportunity to ex- 

plain it. Distinction or difference is the negation of iden- 
tity. Things can differ either in themselves or in our modes 
of conceiving them. When they differ in themselves, the 
difference is said to be real. When the difference is only in 
our modes of conceiving, it is said to be virtual or eminent. 
The reason of the term is this : the thing, though one and 
simple in itself, in the manifold effects which it produces 
and the manifold relations in which it is thought, is con- 
strued as equivalent to them all, and as containing them in 
a higher form of perfection than that in which they are real- 
ized. A grain of Avheat, for example, is one and simple 
in itself, but it may be conceived in various aspects and rela- 
tions. It may be thought simply as a body, composed of 


parts ; it may be thought as an article of food ; it may be 
thought merely as a seed. Here are three modes of con- 
ceiving the same thing, which yet abides in its unity. So 
God, absolutely simple in Himself, contains in Himself what 
is equivalent to all the effects He has produced. He is 
potentially all that He does. That is eminently in Him — 
that is, exists in the form of a higher perfection in Him — 
which is realized in the outward universe.^ 

It is maintained, accordingly, that while in the intrinsic 

relation of existence there is no real differ- 
tfon^'Iud*" ^^^^ '^"''^ 6^1^^ among the attributes of God, all being 

equally God Himself, in the extrinsic rela- 
tions of working and manifestation differences emerge, but 
the differences are in the effects and not in the cause. As 
we conceive the cause, however, in relation to the effects, we 

1 [" Distinction or difference is the negation of identity. Things are dis- 
tinguished v/hich are not the same. A thing can be different from another, 
either in itself or in our conception. When diiferent in itself, the distinction 
is called real ; when only in our conception, it is called rational or mental. 

" Things differ in themselves, either because they are separate, as Peter 
and Paul ; or separable, as soul or body ; or relatively opposed, as father 
and son. This species of distinction is called realis major. Things may 
differ solely as the mode differs from the thing modified, as figure and 
body, cogitation and mind. This distinction is called modal, or distinctio 
realis minor. To these John Duns Scotus added a third — namely, between 
two or more properties of the same thing, when they diflfer only in their 
formal reason, as in man, animality and rationality ; in God, essence and 
attributes ; and among the attributes themselves, as justice and mercy are 
formally distinguished. This was called formal difference or distinctio 
realis minima. 

" Mental distinction is of two kinds — one purely arbitrary, as when we 
distinguish between Peter and Cephas, there being no foundation for the 
distinction in the thing itself, it is called distinctio rationis ratiocinanfis ; 
the other is when there is a foundation in the thing, which though one and 
absolutely simple in itself," is yet equivalent to many different things, and 
on account of the variety of its effects causes us to consider it in different 
aspects and relations, as a grain may be seed, food or body. So God, ab- 
solutely simple in Himself, produces different effects, and therefore con- 
tains in Himself what is equivalent to these effects, or rather superior to 
them — contains it eminently. The same thing in Him makes differences 
among the creatures. This is the distinctio rationis ratiocinatce, or virtual 
difference." — Perrone, Pt. II., c. i.] 


give it a different determination according to the nature of 
the effect. Knowledge and power, for examj)le, in God are 
one and the same, but knowledge and power terminate in 
different effects, and the difference of determination given 
by these effects involves a corresponding difference in human 
conception. This difference, depending upon the difference 
of effect, and upon a corresponding difference in our mode 
of conceiving, is called a virtual or eminent difference. 

If the extrinsic relations under which we think do not 
coincide with the intrinsic relations under which the attri- 
butes of God exist, it would seem that our knowledge is 
deceitful and illusive. To this it is replied, that the know- 
ledge is real as far as it goes. It fails to tell us what God 
is in Himself; in that aspect he is wholly incomprehensible ; 
but it does unfold to us His relations to the creature. These 
relations are real ; and though they seem to reveal a mani- 
fold perfection in God, they are not delusive, so long as they 
reveal what is still higher and better than anything which 
can be conceived as many. Properly interpreted, the mani- 
^ , , . , ^ fold in nature only teaches that there is 

God shown to be One, ^ •'^ 

without any divers- that iu God wliicli is Competent to produce 
'*^' it. He is eminently, in the resources of 

His being, all that the universe contains. As one, He gives 
rise to diversity, but the diversity is not in Him. 

All this is ingenious, and to some extent intelligible, but 

is very far from being a satisfactory account 

Ingenious, but not ^ ^ distiuctiou which wc are coustraiued 


to make in the attributes of God. No jug- 
gling with scholastic technicalities can ever confound or fuse 
into one modes of consciousness so really distinct as those 
of intelligence and will. It may be that in the absolute 
they are reduced to unity, but it is perfectly certain that we 
cannot see how they are virtually the same. It may be that 
pity and justice completely coincide as they exist in God, 
but it is impossible for us to comprehend how the one is 
eminently the other. The true view is, that this whole 
subject transcends the sphere of our faculties. We can only 


obey the law of our nature ; and the very determinations 
which lead us to ascribe any attributes to God lead us, at 
the same time, to distinguish them. The differences may 
be only apparent, but to us they must be construed as real 
until the delusion is detected. That, however, never can 
be done by abstract speculations on simplicity. 

Seeing that we can know God only under the relation of 
distinct properties and attributes, it is im- 

Classification of at- j. j. j. i j_ i • l 

tributes necessary. portaut to adopt somc comprchensivc mode 
of classifying and arranging these mani- 
festations of the Divine Being. In some treatises the 
method is simply synthetic — adding attribute to attribute 
as each is unfolded in the process of the argument. For 
instance, they set out with Being; the temporal and the 
contingent give the eternal and the necessary. Here are 
two predicates to be applied to the first being. Eternity 
implies immutability and infinity. Here are two other 
predicates. Through the traces of order and design the 
predicates of intelligence and goodness are collected ; and 
so on through the whole list of the known attributes of God. 
Here there is no classification. There is simply a process of 
synthesis by means of a previous analysis. In this way the 
attributes are generally treated in works on Natural Theology. 
Among the schemes of distribution proposed by theolo- 
gians the following divisions may be signalized: 1. Into 
Absolute and Relative. The Absolute em- 

Seven schemes of dis- i . i f ,• f r^ ^ , c 

tribution signalized. "^races the pcrfcctions of God as out of 
relation to the creature ; the Relative, the 
same perfections as in relation to the creature. " Thus," to 
use the illustration of De Moor, appropriated by Dr. Breck- 
inridge,^ " goodness would be considered an absolute attri- 
bute, while mercy would be considered a relative one, as 
being founded in goodness, but having a special relation to 
the creature ; and in like manner immensity would be con- 
sidered an absolute, and omnipresence a relative, attribute ; 
holiness an absolute, and punitive justice a relative, attribute ; 
' Object. Theol., Book iii., c. xvii. Cf. De Moor, c. iv. I 19. 


and so of the rest." 2. Into Positive and Negative. The 
Positive are those which can be affirmatively predicated of 
God — such as wisdom, goodness, justice ; the Negative are 
those which can only be expressed by negations — such as 
infinity, eternity, immensity. 3. Into Quiescent and Active 
or Operative. The Quiescent coincide with what have been 
called the immanent perfections of God; the Operative, Avith 
the transient. 4. Into Primitive and Derivative — those 
from which others are derived, and those so derived. 5. 
Into JNIetaphysical, Physical, or Natural — for all these 
terms have been used to express the same class — and INIoral, 
embracing those connected with intelligence and will. The 
first set of terms includes all the attributes of God consid- 
ered simply as the infinite and absolute ; the second, those 
which belong to Him as a Personal Spirit. The most com- 
mon distribution is — 6. Into Communicable and Incommu- 
nicable.^ The Communicable refers to those of which some 
analogy can be found in the perfections of the creature ; the 
Incommunicable, to those which admit of no such analogy. 
7. Into Internal and External ; " which division," says De 
Moor,^ " is accommodated to the philosophy of Des Cartes, 
according to which the whole nature of God is resolved into 
mere cogitation, to the exclusion of everything else which, 
except thought, can be conceived. From this jorinciple are 
deduced only two internal attributes of God — Intellect and 
Will ; because there are only two general modes of thought 
— ^perception or the operation of intellect, and volition or 
the operation of will. Hence all the other attributes of 
God are considered merely as external denominations." 
These distinctions, though variously expressed, are nearly 
All these pervaded ^11 fundamentally the same. They are per- 
i>y a common vein of yadcd by a commott veiu of thought — a 
fact which cannot be explained without 
admitting that they have a real foundation in the nature of 
our knowledge of God. And yet the common idea which 

^ Howe, Principles, etc., Part i., Lect. 17. Turrett. Loc. iii., Qu. 6, 
2 Chap, iv., ^ 19. 


pervades them has not been distinctly and consciously seized ; 
otherwise the attributes would have been determined by 
it, and not by the aspects in which they happen to be 
contemplated. There is evidently this fundamental distinc- 
tion between one of these classes and the other — that, in 
the one case, what are called attributes or properties are not 
specific determinations, but characteristics of every attri- 
bute and property manifested in the relation of God to His 
works. They are not a mode of consciousness or being, 
co-ordinate with other modes of consciousness or being. 
They are not related as memory and imagination in the 
human soul, but rather as consciousness — the universal con- 
dition of intelligence — to the whole soul. They are not ex- 
pressive of particular forms of Divine agency, but are rather 
pervading conditions — if we may indulge the solecism — 
of the Divine existence. God is not wise and infinite, but 
He is infinite in His wisdom as well as in His being. 
"What He is determinately to human thought, that He is 
infinitely, eternally and unchangeably. This is the dis- 
tinction w^liich all these divisions tacitly recognize. It is 
the absolute of faith transferred to the manifested and 
known. It is God as believed lying at the basis of all that 
is revealed, and never for a moment to be divorced from it. 
The one set of properties might therefore be callc«i modes 
of being — the other, properties of nature or determinative 
properties. The one set may be referred to the fundamental 

notion of necessary existence, the other to 
disunctior"'"""*" the fundamental notion of a Personal Spirit. 

Around these two central points we may 
collect and arrange all that we can know of God. The first 
notion gives Eternity, Immensity, Independence, Immuta- 
bility ; the second gives Intelligence and Will, and all those 
perfections which are included in the idea of a perfect Spirit. 
Unity and Simplicity are included in both. 

Communicable and incommunicable are terms very badly 
chosen to express the ideas which they were intended to 
convey. They seem to imply that the perfection in man is 


an emanation from the corresponding perfection of God, or 
at least that the two are formally the same. But there is 
really nothing that is strictly common betwixt them but the 
word. They are analogous, but not alike. The relations 
are the same, but the things themselves differ as widely as 
the infinite and finite. 

Dr. Hodge, in the " Outlines of Theology," ^ published 
by his son, has suggested a classification 

Classifications of /• .i ta* • jj*ii ^ • ^ • ' ^ 

jjpj^g ol the JJivme attributes wdiich coincides 

almost precisely with that which I have 
proposed. He makes four classes — "1. Those attributes 
which equally qualify all the rest: Infinitude, that which 
has no bounds ; Absoluteness, that which is determined 
either in its being or modes of being or action by nothing 
whatsoever without itself. This includes immutability. 

2. Natural attributes ; God is an infinite Spirit, self -existent, 
eternal, immense, simple, free of will, inteUigent, pjoioerful. 

3. Moral attributes. God is a Spirit infinitely riyhteous, 
good, true and faithful. 4. The consummate glory of all 
the Divine perfections in union — the beauty of holiness." 

Dr. Breckinridge, in his " Objective Theology," proposes 
a classification much more complicated and 

and of Breckinridge. . i • i 

elaborate. It is developed in the seven- 
teenth chapter of the work. A general view of it is con- 
tained in the summary of the closing section : " According 
to this method we are enabled to contemplate God succes- 
sively — 1. As He is an infinite Being, and endowed Avitli 
the proper perfections thereof. 2. As He is an infinite 
Spirit, and endowed with the proper perfections thereof. 
3. As being both, and endowed with all perfections that 
belong to both, considered with reference to the eternal and 
ineifaceable distinction between true and false, which is the 
fundamental distinction with which our own rational facul- 
ties are conversant. 4. As being endowed with all perfec- 
tions with reference to the eternal and ineffaceable distinc- 
tion between good and evil, which is the fundamental 

1 Page 104. 


distinction with which our moral faculties are conversant. 
5. As being endowed with all perfections which underlie, 
which embrace or which result from the union of all the 
preceding perfections. And so the classes of his perfections 
would necessarily be — 1 . Those called Primary Attributes — 
that is, such as belong to an infinite and self-existent Being, 
simply considered. 2. Essential Attributes — that is, those 
belonging to such a Being considered essentially as an infi- 
nite Spirit. 3. Natural Attributes — that is, such as apper- 
tain to an infinite Spirit, considered naturally, rather than 
morally or essentially. 4, Moral Attributes — that is, such 
as appertain to such a Being, considered morally, rather 
than naturally or essentially. 5. Consummate Attributes — 
that is, such as appertain to such a Being considered com- 
pletely and absolutely." 

It is obvious, in the first place, that the terms in which 
this classification is expressed are unhappily chosen. "When 
we read of Primary Attributes, we expect to meet as a matter 
of course with others that are Secondary. But in this case 
the protasis has no apodosis. Fundamental would have been 
a better word than Primary. Then Essential and Natural 
are so nearly synonymous that it can only breed confusion 
to use them in contrast. Besides, all attributes of God are 
equally essential. There are none, therefore, entitled, by 
way of j)re-eminence, to usurp this distinction. 

In the next place, the classification is confused. God as 
Spirit is distinguished from God as intelligent. The natural 
attributes are made pendants of the essential, as if there were 
a faculty of knowledge in God apart from His knowledge 
itself. Abating the perplexity and confusion both of thought 
and language, the classification is substantially the same as 
that of Dr. Hodge. The Primary attributes are those which 
I have described as Modal, or all-pervading, and Dr. Hodge 
has spoken of as qualifying all the rest. The Essential and 
Natural are those which Dr. Hodge has called simply Nat- 
ural — avoiding the implication that there is any distinction 
between faculty and acts in the Divine understanding. The 


JNIoral arc the same in both divisions. The Consummate 

do not exactly coincide, but they differ only in extension. 

The simplest division is that ^^•hich is 

The Bimplost divisiou. i i • i i . 

grounded in the obvious distinction between 
those perfections which j^ervade the whole being and every 
other perfection of God, and those which are special and de- 
terminative. Here the boundaries are clear and distinct. 
The determinative attributes of God may be subdivided into 
Intellectual and Moral — the two great outlines which include 
all the excellence of a personal Spirit. The Consummate 
attributes seem to me to be a needless distinction. 

In the development of this subject the plan which I shall 
pursue will be first, to treat of the nature of God as Spiritual 
and Personal ; and then to unfold the attributes in the order 
in which they have here been classed. 



THE spirituality of God is the foundation of all religious 
worship. It is only as a spirit that He is possessed of 
those attributes of intelligence, goodness, 

This truth, the foun- .,• it i,,i i-i 

dation of the worship, justice, powcr, holuiess and truth which 
make Him the object of our prayers, our 
praises, our confidence and hopes. It is only as a spirit that 
He is a person, and, consequently, only as a spirit that He 
can enter into communion with us and communicate to us 
the tokens of His favour and His love. A blind force, a 
stern and irresistible necessity, might be an object of terror 
and of dread, but it would be absurd to pray to it, to trust 
in it, or to love it. Our Saviour, in His interview with the 
woman of Samaria, makes the spirituality of God determine 
the nature and the kind of worship which we are to render 
to the Father of our spirits. But the argument goes much 
farther — it determines the ground of the possibility of wor- 
ship. There could be no true worshippers at all, for there 
would be nothing to which worshij) could be consi.stently 
adapted, if God were not spirit. 

More than this : the spirituality of God is not only the 
foundation of all religious worship — it is 
butes'^of God! '^''"" ^^^ foundation of all the Divine attributes. 
Without spirit there could be no life; 
without life, no activity ; without activity, no causal agency. 
Infinity, immensity, eternity, simplicity and immutability, 
as well as omniscience, holiness, goodness and truth, are 
grossly incompatible with the notion of matter as compound, 



divisible, disecrptible, clestriictible. Hence, to deny that 
God is spirit is tantamount to Atheism. 

There is only one passage of Scripture in which it is ex- 
plicitly affirmed that God is a spirit, but 

Scripture proofs of ,i i j • • • t •,^ , - i • n 

tho doctrine. '^"^ doctriuc IS imphcitly contained in all 

the representations which it makes of His 
nature and perfections. In John iv. 24 the direct testimony 
of Christ has been evaded by making Spirit the accusative 
case, and supplying the word seeks from the preceding verse. 
The sense would then be not that God is a spirit, but that 
God seeks the spirit, or demands the spirit from His wor- 
shippers. This is the interpretation of Vorstius. The 
reason which he assigns is, that the argument from the nature 
of God to the nature of the worship He exacts is not valid 
and consequential. It is not His nature, but His will that 
determines the character of worship. But to this it may be 
readily replied that the nature determines the will ; so that 
the nature of God is the foundation, while the will of God is 
the rule or measure of religious worship.^ If the reasoning, 
it is contended, from a spiritual nature to a spiritual worship 
is valid, then the inference would be sound from a bodily 
worship, such as that enjoined upon the Jews, to a bodily 
nature. But it is forgotten that the body is not the wor- 
shipper, but only an instrument of w^orship. It is the means 
of manifesting the inward condition — the outward expression 
of the invisible spirit. Apart from this relation, bodily ex- 
ercise profiteth nothing. There seems to be no good reason, 
therefore, for departing from the ordinary interpretation : 
God is a spirit. But even if we should adopt the exposition 
of Vorstius, the spirituality of God might still, as Limborch - 
suggests, be fairly collected from the text. Why should He 
demand a spiritual worship if He were not a spiritual being ? 
Why should He exact an homage that was wholly inconsist- 
ent with his essential perfections ? — an homage, in fact, by 
which the worshipper shows himself superior to the wor- 

^ Charnock, vol. i., p. 245. * Theol. Christ., Lib. ii., c. iv. 


Among the passages in which tlie spirituality of God is 
obviously implied are Numbers xvi. 22, in which lie is en- 
titled The God of tlie spirits of all flesh ; and Hebrews xii. 
9, in which He is denominated The Father of spirits. He 
is evidently their Father, in the sense that they spring from 
Him and are like Him. The contrast betwixt God and the 
Egyptians in Isaiah xxxi. 3, " that the Egyptians are men 
and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit," proceeds 
upon the assumption that God is pre-eminently spiritual. 
The Third Person of the Trinity is unquestionably spirit. 
Holy Spirit or Holi/ Ghost (for ghost and spirit are synony- 
mous) is His proper name, and as Pie is substantially the 
same with the Father and the Son, the Father and the Son 
must be spirit also. All those passages, moreover, which 
ascribe wisdom, knowledge, counsel, purjjose and decrees to 
God — which represent Him, in other words, as possessed of 
intellectual and moral perfections — are so many proofs of a 
spiritual nature. As the stream cannot rise higher than the 
fountain, the existence of finite and dependent spirits in the 
case of angels and of men involves the existence of the Su- 
preme and Absolute spirit as their principle and source. He 
that planted the ear, shall not He hear ? He that formed 
the eye, shall not He see ? He that chastiseth the heathen, 
shall not He correct ? He that teach eth man knowledge, shall 
not He know ? Abolish this doctrine of the Divine spirit- 
uality, and the Scripture testimonies to God become a tissue 
of contradictions and absurdities. It lies at the root of 
everything they teach. 

The ancient heathen philosophers concur in the same fun- 
damental truth. The supreme God of 
The ancient phiios- pj^^^^ ^^^^^ Aristotlc figurcs as thc Supreme 

ophers coucur. o l 

intelligence or mind. Socrates sought Him 
as the explanation of the principle of order, and pursues the 
argument from final causes in the very spirit of modern 
teleologists. Plutarch^ calls Him a pure intelligence, simple 
and unmixed in His own nature, but mingling Himself with 
' Quoted in Owen, vol. viii., p. 147. 


eveiytlilng besides. And whatever may be said of the Pan- 
theistic vein, the testimony to God as Mind is clear and de- 
cisive in the well-known lines of Virgil : 

" Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus 
Mens agitat molem." ^ 

The spirituality of God is both a negative and a positive 
truth. As negative it denies of Him the 
loftTlrmateriar' propcrties and ^ affcctions of matter; it is 
equivalent to immaterial. Hence He is 
not a being who can be represented to sense, nor figured in 
the imagination. He is not divisible into parts, nor circum- 
scribed by space. He exists as an unit, simple and indis- 
cerptible, and therefore indestructible. It is clear that a 
material being cannot be infinite, or if he could be infinite 
it would destroy the possibility of all finite matter. Its 
nature is to be bounded by figure, and to exclude every 
other matter from the space which it occupies. As bounded, 
it cannot be infinite : as exclusive, if it were infinite, it would 
absolutely fill the immensity of space and preclude the co- 
existence of finite portions. 

There have been those M'ho have interpreted literally the 
language of Scripture which predicates of God bodily mem- 
bers and organs, and have conseqaently sunk Him to the 
low condition of corporeal existence. This coarse anthro- 
pomorphism or anthropopathism, as it has 

Ancient and n i -i i i t^i • 

been called, was attributed to the Jibion- 
ites, to the monks of Egypt and to the sect of the Audians. 
It has certainly been maintained, in modern times, by more 
than one disciple of Socinus. It was the 
ThiteT "°*'^''°P°"°'- doctrine of Vorstius ; the doctrine of Bid- 
die in the Catechism, so conclusively re- 
futed by Owen in the Vindicice Evangeliccc; the doctrine of 
Hobbes ; and still more recently the doctrine of Priestly. 
It is now abandoned by the Socinians, who have approxi- 
mated more closely than their predecessors to the spiritual 
Deism of philosophy. 

1 ^n. vi., 726, 727. 


Tertullian has been accused of attributing a body to God, 
and so far as the letter of the accusation is 

Tertullian defended. i i i • • i i • j. 

concerned the charge is unquestionably just. 
But by body he evidently means nothing more than substan- 
tial existence — something permanent and abiding, and not 
like a breath of air or a transitory vapour. In the same 
sense he predicates a body of the human soul, but yet de- 
scribes it in a manner which precludes the notion of mate- 
rial composition.^ Indeed he tells us articulately^ what he 
means by hochj. " Nothing can exist," says he, " but as 
having something by which it exists. As the soul, however, 
exists, it must needs have something by which it exists. 
That something is its body. Everything is a body of its 
own kind. Nothing is incorporeal which has real exist- 
ence." Body is, therefore, nothing more nor less than the 
indispensable condition of existence. It is the permanent 
element amid the variable and changing, and it is material 
or spiritual according to the nature of the object. A passage 
quoted in Kitto's Cyclopcedia, under the title Anthropomor- 
phism, will show how far this celebrated father was from 
anything like a material conception of God. "Divine 
affections," says he, "are ascribed to the Deity by means 
of figures borrowed from the human form, not as if He 
were indued with corporeal qualities. When eyes are 
ascribed to Him, it denotes that He sees all things ; when 
ears, that He hears all things ; the speech denotes His will ; 
nostrils, the perception of prayer ; hands, creation ; arms, 
power ; feet, immensity ; for He has no members and per- 
forms no office for which they are required, but executes all 
things by the sole act of His will. How can He require 
eyes who is light itself ? or feet who is omnipresent ? How 
can He require hands who is the silent Creator of all things ? 
or a tongue to whom to think is to command ? Those mem- 
bers are necessary to men, but not to God, inasmuch as the 
counsels of men would be inefficacious unless their thoughts 

^ See Burton's Bampton Lectures, note 59. 
2 Ad Prax., c. 7. 
Vol. I.— 12 


put their members in motion ; but not to God, whose ope- 
rations folloAV His will without effort." 

Tlie Scriptures themselves sufficiently guard against the 
perverse application of their bold metaphors in attributing 
the organs of the human body to the supreme God, when 
they articulately remind us that His arm is not an arm of 
flesh, nor His eyes eyes of flesh, neither seeth He as man 
seeth.^ The same wonder which in one place is ascribed to 
the " finder of God " is attributed in another to the imme- 
diate agency of the Holy Ghost ; cf Luke xi. 20 ; Matt, 
xii. 28. To the candid reader there is no danger of being 
misled by such representations. They are obvious con- 
descensions to the infirmities of human 
of£;^:S::: thought, and are designed to signify that 
there are acts of God analogous to those 
for which we employ these members. When he is said to 
see or to hear, the meaning is that He knows with as abso- 
lute a certainty as we can obtain by the evidence of the eye 
or the ear. These organs are simply symbols of knowledge. 
His arm and hand the symbols of power, and His bowels 
the symbol of tender compassion.^ The exposition of Ter- 
tullian quoted above is clear and satisfactory. 

It is remarkable, too, that no organs are ascribed to God 
similar to those by which we perform the mean and disrep- 
utable functions of the body, and no offices which savour 
of weakness or of imperfection. The intent of Scripture 
could not be more nicely discriminated. " To eat and sleep 
are never ascribed to Him, nor those parts that belong to 
the preparing or transmitting nourishment to the several 
parts of the body, as stomach, liver, veins nor bowels, under 
that consideration, but as they are significant of compas- 
sion. But only those parts are ascribed to Him whereby 
we acquire knowledge, as eyes and ears, the organs of learn- 
ing and wisdom ; or to communicate it to others, as the 
the month, lips, tongue, as they are instruments of speak- 

1 2 Cliron. xxxii. 8 ; Job x. 4. Cf. Owen, vol. viii., p. 154. 

2 See Charnock, i., pp. 262, 263. 


ing, not of tasting ; or those parts which signify strength 
and power, or whereby we perform the actions of charity 
for the relief of others. Taste and touch, senses that ex- 
tend no farther than to corporeal things, and are the grossest 
of all the senses, are never ascribed to Him." ^ 

The immateriality of God is clearly implied in all those 
God immaterial, as ^xts which represent His glory as being 
not to be figured by incapablc of being -figured by images. The 
second commandment forbids the making 
of any graven image, or the likeness of anytliing that is in 
heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters 
under the earth. Moses reminds the Israelites that they saw 
no manner of similitude when the Lord spoke to them in 
Horeb out of the midst of the fire ; and enjoins upon them 
to take heed to themselves lest they should be seduced to 
make them a graven image, the similitude of any figure.^ 
The Apostle Paul reminds the Athenians that the Godhead 
is not like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and 
man's device ; ^ and the Saviour Himself appeals to the Jcavs 
that they had never heard the voice at any time, nor seen the 
shape of God.* 

In the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus there occurs a 
passage which, at the first view, seems to be inconsistent 
with the general teaching of Scripture : " Then went up 
Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the 
elders of Israel ; and they saw the God of Israel ; and there 
was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire 
stone, and as it were the body of heaven in its clearness." 
(Vv. 9, 10.) Onkelos renders it the glory of the God of 
Israel ; and when we remember that God is invisible in 
Himself, dwelling in light which no creature can venture to 
approach, there can be no doubt that the allusion is to some 
brilliant symbol of the Divine presence, in keeping with the 
majestic pediment upon which it stood. "The colour of 
sapphire," says Calvin,^ " was presented to them to elevate 

^ Charnock i., p. 263. ^ j)eut. iv. 15, seq. » Acts xvii. 29. 

* John V. 37. 5 Harm. Pent., vol. iii., p. 323. 


their minds by its brightness above the workl, and therefore 
it is immedia:tely added that its appearance was as of the 
clear and serene sky. By this symbol they were reminded 
that the glory of God is above all heavens ; and since in His 
very footstool there is such exquisite and surpassing beauty, 
something still more sublime must be thought of Him- 
self, and such as would ravish all our senses with admi- 

The positive thing which is involved in the sjjirituality 
Positively, the doc- ^f God is that Hc is a self-conscious sub- 
trine ascribes to God jcct, a Pcrsou posscsscd of intelligence and 
will. We can conceive an immaterial sub- 
stance which is not a person — such as the vital principle in 
brutes, and the plastic nature which the ancients invented as 
the soul of the world. There may be a receptivity of im- 
pressions, of sensations, of presentations, and even of repre- 
sentations of the imagination in memory, without any dis- 
tinct consciousness of self. The phenomena appear and dis- 
appear like the images of a mirror, but there is no feeling 
which collects them into a common centre, and reduces them 
to unity as the varied experiences of a single, permanent, 
abiding subject. The brute knows not itself; it only knows 
its sensations. It can never say, 3Iy thought, my wish, my 
desire. What we call its soul is never realized to it as an 
unit ; it appears only as a series of phenomena. When Ave 
have learned to discriminate between our fleeting and tran- 
sitory modes of consciousness and that which successively 
subsists in these modes, when we learn to distinguish be- 
tween the thinker and his thoughts, then we come to the 
knowledge of ourselves. The broad and impassable dis- 
tinction between mind and matter, between a person and a 
thing, is, that the one knows and knows that it knows, while 
the other is only an object to be known. The one has a free 
activity, the other moves only as it is moved. The one acts, 
the other is acted upon. Perhaps the clearest realization of 
self-hood is in the phenomena of will. It was the doctrine 


of Locke and the Scotch philosophers that our own exist- 
ence was not directly given in consciousness, 

Locke. •^.*' ' 

but was a matter of inference and necessary 
belief. All that we can directly know are the phenomena 
of self — its thoughts, sensations, desires ; but not self, or the 
thinking principle itself. This principle has been success- 
fully combated by Sir William Hamilton 

Hamilton and Mansel. i-»»- -»«- i n i i t 

and Mr. Mansel, and the dualism of con- 
sciousness brought out in a strong and clear light. Mr. 
Mansel has pressed the phenomena of will as decisive of the 
question. " If," says he,^ " in the mental state which cor- 
responds to the judgment, I will, there is no consciousness 
of /, but only of will, it is impossible to place the essential 
feature of volition, as has been done above, in the conscious- 
ness of myself having power over my own determinations. Will, 
and not I, being the primary fact of consciousness, the 
causative power of volition must be sought in the relation 
between will and some subsequent phenomenon ; and so 
sought, it will assuredly never be found. It cannot be found 
where Locke sought it, in the relation between the deter- 
mination of the will and the consequent motion of the limb ; 
for the determination is not the immediate antecedent of the. 
motion, but only of the intervening nervous and muscular 
action. I cannot therefore be immediately conscious of my 
power to move a limb when I am not immediately conscious 
of my power to produce the antecedent phenomena. Nor 
yet can the causative power be found where Maine de Biran 
sought it, in the relation of the will to the action of the 
nerves and muscles ; for this relation may at any time be 
interrupted by purely physical causes, such as a stroke of 
paralysis ; and in that case no exertion of the will can pro- 
duce the desired effect. We can escape from this difficulty, 
the stronghold of skepticism and necessitarianism, by one 
path only, and that is by a more accurate analysis of the 
purely mental state, which will discover an immediate con- 
sciousness of power in myself, determining my own volitions.'^ 
^ Metaphys., p. 175. 


Here, then, is an immediate revelation of myself, and of my- 
self as a power — as a real, abiding, subsisting thing. So far 
is it from being true that our knowledge of matter is su- 
perior to our knowledge of mind, that it is precisely the re- 
verse which holds. The reality of matter I can never seize 
at all, but the reality of self is given in every act of con- 
sciousness. It is the only reality, apart from phenomena, 
that falls within the province of our faculties. It is the only 
thing that we are entitled to denominate being, as contra- 
distinguished from appearance. " Personality," says Man- 
sel,^ " like all other simple and immediate presentations, is 
indefinable ; but it is so because it is superior to definition. 
It can be analyzed into no simpler elements, for it is itself 
one element of a product which defies analysis. It can be 
made no clearer by description or comparison, for it is re- 
vealed to us in all the clearness of an original intuition, of 
which description and comparison can furnish only faint and 
partial resemblances." God is a Spirit. God is a Person. 
This is the highest conception which our finite faculties can 
frame of His nature ; it is the noblest tribute which we are 
capable of paying to His being. 

• In paying this tribute, let it be mentioned, as distinctly 
implied in personality, that we separate God from every 
other being besides. He is not the universe. He is not 
law. He is not the result of material organization. He is 
in Himself, by Himself, and for Himself. His existence is 
pre-eminently and absolutely His own. Separateness of 
being is as essential to ijersonality as sim- 

Separateness of . . . i i- r* 

being in opposition to plicity or uuity. It distinguishes and dii- 
everyformofPanthe- fepences. Heiicc, cvcry form of Paiithcism 
is inconsistent with the noblest idea which 
we are able to frame of God. He affirms Himself in affirm- 
ing that He is not the finite ; as we affirm ourselves, as sub- 
jects, in affirming that Ave are not the objects of our know- 
ledge. Self and not-self divide existence, and each excludes 
the other. 

1 Metaphys., p. 182. 


Let us consider some of the elements that are contained 
in the proposition that God is a Spirit. 

1. In the first place, it is equivalent to saying that God 
has life ; and as the infinite Spirit that He 

As spiritual, God is i ^•^ ' tt* ij? tt • j_i i 

necessary life, lias liie lu Hmiseli. He IS the source and 

fountain of all life, and possesses in Him- 
self, in perfect fullness, what He has distributed in various 
portions to the creatures of His hands. Hence, He claims 
it as His prerogative to be the only living as well as true 
God. He only hath immortality in Himself; and the high- 
est and most solemn guarantee of truth which even a Divine 
oath can give is found in the immutability of the Divine 
life. " As I live, saith the Lord," is the most awful adju- 
ration which even God can make. We know not what life 
is, in any of its forms, in its own essential nature. It is so 
subtle that it escapes the knife of the anatomist, the tests of 
the chemist and the skill of the physiologist. It is every- 
where present in the animal frame, but nowhere to be seized 
and detected apart from its phenomenal effects. We know 
what it does, but we are wholly unable to explain what it is. 
It is the badge of honour among the works of God — as they 
increase in life, they rise in dignity and worth. It is the 
excellence of man's life, as a spiritual, thinking being, that 
constitutes man's glory in the domain of sublunary exist- 
ence. " On earth there is nothing great but man ; in man 
there is nothing great but mind." This 

and activity. t p • t . . 

life implies activity — a power of self-motion 
and of self-determination. The grounds of its action, in 
reference to God, are solely within Himself. He is not 
moved or impelled from without ; the springs of His energy 
are all within, in the fullness and depths of His own being. 
He never rests, never slumbers, never grows weary, never 
relaxes His activity. To live is His blessedness as well as 
His glory. Ceaseless action is the very essence of His nature. 
It is a badge of imperfection among us that our energies be- 
come fatigued by exertion, and that we require intervals of 
relaxation and repose. One half of our lives is lost in sleep ; 


and even in our waking moments continued intensity of 
thought has a tendency to consume the frame which carries 
so active a tenant. The brighter the candle burns, the more 
rapidly it wastes away. We sigh for the period when we 
shall be clothed with our spiritual bodies, and introduced into 
a world in which there is neither sleep nor night ; in which 
exertion shall be uninterrupted and complete ; in which all 
the powers of the soul shall be eternally and intensely ex- 
ercised, but exercised in such just and beautiful proportions 
that the rapture shall become sobriety and the excitement a 
calm. Yet even in its purest and most exalted state our 
activity is limited and derived. It is and ever must be de- 
pendent on conditions. But the activity, the life of God 
is without restriction or defect. Self-originated and self- 
sustained, it is equal to itself from everlasting to everlasting. 
" My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Could God 
jjause in the ceaseless flow of His energies, the heavens must 
cease to roll and the earth to move ; rivers cease to flow and 
the ocean to receive them ; the general pulse of life would 
cease to beat, and the awful silence of death pervade the 
universe. It is as God lives that all else live besides. 
They live and move and have their being in Him. The 
pledge of universal safety is that He never slumbers nor 
sleeps. How different is such a God from the indolent idol 
of Epicurean philosophy ! How different the happiness 
which flows from the fullness and energy of unimpeded ex- 
ercise from the voluptuous repose which possesses attractions 
only for ignoble natures ! It is true that man's sin has 
added pain to labor and converted work into toil. But in 
itself, the highest and freest activity is the highest bliss; 
and God is infinitely blessed only as He is infinitely active. 
2. But in the next place, the activity of God is not mere 

motion or agitation. It is the highest and 
thought Ind^Si.''"^ noblest of all activity--the activity of 

thought and will. He is to Himself an 
inexhaustible fountain of knowledge and action. He is 
not a blind principle operating by a stern necessity, uncon- 


sclous of the laws which determine and regulate His move- 
ments. He is no remorseless fate, no soul of the world, no 
abstract substance without definite qualities and attributes. 
He knows what He does, and does it because He knows it 
to be right and wise. He is the master of Himself. His 
will is absolutely and unchangeably free, and in its free- 
dom is never divorced from wisdom and justice. He is no 
necessary cause, but He creates only because he chooses to 
create. He dispenses His gifts according to His own sove- 
reign pleasure. He rules in the armies of heaven and 
among the inhabitants of earth, and none can stay His 
hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou? He worketh 
all things according to the counsel of His own will. It is 
in this Being of knowledge and liberty, this Being of pure 
sjDiritual life, that we recognize the God who made the 
heavens and the earth, and in whom we live and move 
and have our being, and whom we are bound to worship 
with our whole souls. This is the God whose right it is to 
reign, for He is worthy. What energy can be compared 
with intelligence ? What Being so exalted as He who can 
say, "1 know and I will"? These simple monosyllables 
bridge a boundless chasm in the order of existence. And 
how glorious must He be who stands at the head of this 
order, and concentrates within Himself all the resources of 
wisdom and knowledge and goodness — who gathers into the 
burning focus of His own being every ray of intellectual 
and moral beauty that is anywhere reflected in the bound- 
less universe ! How glorious is God, who is all knowledge 
and all will, whose very life is to know and will, with whom 
to be and to know are synonymous ! One soul is greater 
than a whole universe of matter. AVhat, then, must God be 
who is an infinite Spirit ! 

3. In the third place, we may see the sense in which we 
are to understand the unity and simplicity 

The nature of God's /»/^l t j_1'j.'' '^ i-i 

unity and simplicity. ^^ ^od. I mcau the intmisic unity which 
pertains to His essence, and not the rela- 
tive unity which excludes more than one such being. The 


unity and simplicity are certainly the unity and simplicity 
of spirit — an unity which is attested in every act of con- 
sciousness. The human soul is one ; it cannot be resolved 
into parts ; it cannot be divided, so that a portion shall be 
here and a portion there. It always exists and acts in its 
totality. The / is the very perfection of simplicity. But 
when theologians go farther, and from abstract speculations 
on the infinite preclude every species of distinction in the 
modes of its existence, they are warranted by no finite an- 
alogies, and transcend accordingly the limits of human 
thought. What they say may be true, but they have no 
means of verifying their assertion. The relative unity or 
onliness of God precludes genera and species. His intrinsic 
unity precludes separable accidents, but what warrant is 
there for precluding the distinction of substance and attri- 
bute, or precluding distinctions among the attributes them- 
selves? The thing may be just and proper, but we can 
never prove it to be so, and the only unity accordingly which 
we are authorized to attribute to God is an unity analogous 
to that of the human soul. 

4. In the fourth place, because God is a Sjsirit, He can 

Because spiritual, ^uter ^ iuto commuuiou with our spirits. 

God can commune This is oue of the most mystcrious attri- 

with our spirits. , r« • i i i i • i • 

butes ot mnid — the power by which it can 
impart to others the knowledge of what passes within itself. 
It is this jieculiarity which lies at the foundation of the 
possibility of society. If each soul existed only as an in- 
dividual, and there was no medium by Avhich its thoughts 
and feelings and affections could be communicated to other 
souls, there might be contiguity in space, but there could be 
no such moral unions among men as those which are pre- 
sented in the Family, the Church and the State. Intense 
individualism would be the law of all human life. We are 
so familiar with the interchange of thoughts and feelings, 
that we have ceased to marvel at the mystery it involves. 
But it is a mystery notwithstanding, and a mystery Avhich, 
while all must accept it as a fact, no human philosophy 


can explain. Mind does hold commerce with mind. The 
thoughts of one man can be transferred to another — the con- 
sciousness of one man can to some extent be laid bare to 
another. And so God can communicate with His intelli- 
gent creatures. He can make known to them His attitude 
in relation to them. He can enter into their souls, and 
warm and irradiate them with the tokens of His favour, or 
depress and alarm them with the sense of His displeasure. 
It is His spirituality which enables Him to be communica- 
tive, and which consequently enables Him to become the 
jiortion of their souls. Apart from this He could not be 
the supreme and satisfying good. Hence His spirituality 
lies at the foundation of all true religion. Take that away, 
and there is and can be no symjsathy betwixt the worshipper 
and the worshipped. There may be contiguity and impact, 
but there can be no union, no communion. Each would 
still be a stranger to the other. 

5. This subject reveals to us the real folly and danger of 

Because Bpirituai, idolatry. By idolatry I here mean any 

God cannot be repre- attempt to represent God by images, whe- 

sented by images. i i • inn 

ther those images are regarded really as 
God, or only as symbols of His presence. The two things 
are substantially the same. To worship the image, and to 
worship God in and by the image, produce similar effects 
upon the mind of the worshipper. His thoughts in either 
case are regulated and determined by the object before Him. 

Now every image is a falsehood in two 

The idol, a twofold , t l^ n , ^ • , 

ijg respects. In the lirst place, it represents 

the living by the dead. That which has 
life in itself, whose essence it is to live, is figured by that 
whose nature is essentially inert. There is no point of re- 
semblance betwixt mind and matter. They exist only as 
contrasts. Hence the image must be a doctrine of false- 
hood ; it must lead the mind into wrong trains of thought 
in reference to the nature of God ; it must degrade Him to 
some of the conditions of matter. 

In the next place, the image is a falsehood, inasmuch as it 


represents a free activity by that which is the victim of a 
stern necessity. God, as self-moved, cannot be symbolized 
by any object whose law is to move only as it is moved. 
Mechanical necessity can never figure freedom of will, and 
yet this is the very core of the Divine Personality. It is 
that which makes God the object of our worship. 

These two fundamental errors must prove fatal in the 
moral education of the worshipper. It is impossible to 
think by the image and yet think in accordance with the 
truth. A mechanical religion is the only w^orship that can 
spring from idolatry. Hence it is that the Divine law 
guards so sacredly the purity of Divine worship. To admit 
images is to necessitate the moral degradation of God ; and 
to degrade God is, inevitably, in the final reaction, to de- 
grade ourselves. From the nature of the case, idolatry must 
wax worse and worse as its fundamental falsehoods acquire a 
stronger hold upon the mind. The only remedy is to pre- 
vent the beginnings of the evil, and that is done in the stern 
decree of the second commandment. A spiritual God can 
only be worshipped in spirit and in truth. A free Personal 
God can only be worshipped with a free personal will. 



TTAVING discussed the spirituality, and in a general 
-■— '- way the personality, of God, the next thing in order 
would be the peculiar mode of the Divine Personality in the 
doctrine of the Trinity. But as that is an extensive topic, 
and its introduction here would break the continuity of the 
discourse in relation to the attributes, we propose to postpone 
it until the subject of the attributes has been completed. 
The topic, accordingly, which is now to engage our attention 
is that division of the attributes which is commonly called 
incommunicable, and which we have seen 

Universal and all- . i in t i x 

pervajing attributes, ^rc uuiversal and all-pervadmg, character- 
izing alike the whole being and every per- 
fection of God. They are special aspects of the absolute and 
infinite — or rather applications of the general notion of the 
infinite to special aspects in which God may be considered. 
Contemplated with reference to the grounds of His being, 
the infinite gives rise to the notion of independence or self- 
existence ; with reference to the duration of His being, to 
eternity ; with reference to the extent of His being, to im- 
mensity ; with reference to the contents of His being, to all- 
sufficiency ; with reference to the identity of His being, to 
immutability. Independence, eternity, immensity, all-suf- 
ficiency and immutability are therefore the forms under 
which we recognize the distinctions which separate God by 
an impassable chasm from every work of His hands. These 
are the badges of Divinity — that glory which He will not 
and cannot give to another. Without these, He would only 



be a man or an angel on a larger scale. These, too, consti- 
tute the veil which hangs over the mystery of His being — a 
veil which, according to the inscription upon the temple of 
Isis, no mortal will ever be able to remove. We can only 
stand afar oif and gaze at the ineffable glory. We can adore 
where we cannot understand. Let us treat of them in order ; 
and first of Independence. 

I. Independence, self-existence, necessary existence, ab- 
solute being, are only so many different 

Independence. . 

modes of expressing one and the same 
thing, and that thing is the negation of a cause. God has 
never begun to be. His existence is dependent upon no 
species of cause, either that of a superior will, or that resulting 
from the union and combination of elements, which may 
again be separated and reduce Him to nothing. He is be- 
cause He is. " I am that I am." We can go no farther in 
explaining the grounds of His being. The understanding is 
paralyzed, but faith is not staggered. If there be caused 
The mystery of ^^iug, there uiust bc uucauscd being ; and 
caused and uncaused jf t^q are disposed to sliriuk from the mys- 
tery of uncaused being, let us reflect again 
and see whether caused being is any more easily comjire- 
hended. Can we solve the mystery of power ? Can we ex- 
plain how that which was nothing ever began to be ? Is 
not creation as dark and inscrutable as underived existence ? 
Do not the very limits of our faculties warn us of a world 
beyond which those faculties were never designed to pene- 
trate, save with the torch of faith ? The fact of creation, 
the fact of a creator, we can easily grasp ; but how the one 
came to be, and the other always was, is beyond our compass. 
We have enough to regulate our worship, but not enough to 
satisfy curiosity. 

There are modes of expression in relation to tlie independ- 
ence of God which, however they may be 

Some modes of ex- ' j^' n i ^ ±^ j. f l j. 

pression criticise 1. Justified by the poverty of language, are yet 

liable to gross perversion and abuse. He 

is said to be the ground of His own existence in a way which 


seems to imply that He is His own proper cause. Now 
self-existence should never be taken in a positive, but a 
negative sense. No being can originate itself. The very 
notion is self-contradictory — for it involves existence and 
non-existence at the same time. All that is meant is the 
denial to the being of any origin at all. It has no cause, 
nothing anterior or superior on which it depends. Necessity 
is also sometimes represented as a ground of the Divine 
existence, in such a way as to imply that it is a real, pro- 
ductive cause, or at least a something prior in the order of 
thouo-ht to the being; of God. Dr. Clarke is not free from 
censure in this respect. He certainly treats necessity as 
something closely akin to a cause, and deduces inferences 
from it as if it were a positive principle which we were 
able to apprehend. But necessity, like existence, is only 
negative in its application to God. It expresses the fact 
that, the finite being given, we cannot but think the existence 
of the infinite. To us, that existence is necessary as the ex- 
planation of what is caused and dependent. The necessity, 
however, only involves again the denial of a cause. It is 
simply the declaration that there must be an unoriginated 

The independence of God is contained in every argument 

Independence in- ^^^ich prOVCS His being. To dcuy it is, 

voived in the very be- therefore, to deny the existence of any 
°° ' God at all. If all is dependent, all is 

finite, all is made, and yet there is nothing to depend upon 
and nothing to make. We shall have an universe of crea- 
tures and no creator — a chain of a limited number of links, 
with nothing to hang on at the top and nothing to lean on 
at the bottom ; or if the series be considered as infinite, we 
shall have the contradiction of a whole which has no begin- 
ning made up of parts each of which began. The first 
aspect under which God appears to us in the field of specu- 
lation is as the underived and independent. The mind 
seeks an extra-mundane cause. It wants something to sup- 
port the finite, and it never rests until the infinite is re- 


vealed to its faitli. The Scrij)tures, too, 

and everywhere pre- i , i • i i 

BuppoHcdiu Scripture, eveijwhere presuppose the independence 
of God. It is implied in His name Jeho- 
vah, in His being the Creator of the heavens and the earth, 
the first and last, the beginning and the end of all things. 
A point so plain it were superfluous to establish by the 
citation of jDassages. 

It must not be forgotten that this independence pervades 
every determinate perfection of God as well 

Pervades every de- tt* i • tt • • i i i • ^ 

terminate perfection. «« ^^^^ beuig. Hc IS mdcpcndent lu know- 
ledge ; He derives nothing from without ; 
He has no teachers ; and He has nothing to learn. If in any 
respect He were ignorant, in that respect He would be de- 
pendent for His knowledge. He has no partners in coun- 
sel ; His wisdom is as original as His nature ; and His power 
is free from all limitations and conditions. He does what 
He will among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of 
earth, and none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What 
doest Thou? So, also. His righteousness, holiness, good- 
ness and truth are as absolute as His nature. On the same 
ground that He is at all, He is what He is. 

II. Contemj)lated with reference to the duration of His 
beino;, God is said to be eternal. His 

Eternity. ■ . -, n -i ^ -r, ^ • i i 

eternity is denned by iJoethius to be the 
possession, at once total and perfect, of an interminable life. 
It is represented by the Schoolmen as a stationary point — a 
permanent and unchanging now, so as to exclude the notions 
of succession and change. These are abor- 
definru." '''°'*' '° tive efforts to realize in thought what trans- 
cends the conditions of our consciousness. 
We are subject to the law of time, and can think nothing 
apart from the relation of time. A duration which is not 
time is as completely beyond our conceptions as a place 
which is not space. Even in regard to time we can think 
it only " as an indefinite past, present or future." We can- 
not represent it as absolutely beginning, for that would sup- 
pose a consciousness within and out of time at the same 


moment ; and for tlie same reason we cannot suppose it as 
absolutely ending. We cannot think the indivisible mo- 
ment, the point which separates the past from the future ; 
it is always gone before we can seize it. Eternity has been 
divided into eternity a 'parte ante and a 2:)arte post, but the 
division evidently involves a contradiction — the contradic- 
tion of an eternity begun and an eternity concluded. We 
are therefore obliged to maintain that time is not the same 
as eternity ; and, inconceivable as the thing is, we are obliged 
to affirm that eternity admits of no succession of parts. It 
has no past, present or future. We are obliged to come to 
the conclusion of Boethius and the Schoolmen, and yet when 
we have reached that conclusion what is it that we positively 
know ? Nothing but the fact that God in the mode of His 
existence transcends time. We only deny to His conscious- 
ness and to His being the limitations of 

Our conceptions all T> j. l j. j. '^ • • -j^ li^ 

negative, ^^^ O'wn. But what ctcrmty is in itself 

we are as ignorant of as we were before. 
We deny to God beginning of life or end of days ; we deny 
to Him succession of thought or change of state ; we deny 
to Him the possibility of age or decay ; He is neither young 
nor old. Beyond these negations we cannot go, but these 
negations impress us with the conviction 

yet Imply transcend- r» . i , n mr , 

ent excellence. ^i transcendciit exccllence. ihey assert 

an absolute immortality which surpasses 
all power of imagination or of thought. Time with its 
remorseless tooth destroys everything around us ; kingdoms 
rise and fall ; generation succeeds generation to the regions 
of the dead ; trees wither and fade and perish -, the moun- 
tain falling Cometh to naught ; Nature herself waxes old and 
is ready to vanish away, but the Eternal God remains fixed 
in His being, the same yesterday, to-day and for ever. His 
years fail not. He is always the great " I Am." Eternity 
is a mystery, but it is a mystery which shrouds and covers 
unspeakable glory. How delightful to think in the midst 
of universal change and desolation, that there is one Being 
who liveth and abideth for ever — one Being who, when the 

Vol. I.— 13 


heavens shall be rolled up as a vesture, the sun blotted out, 
and the moon and stars bereft of their brightness, can lift 
His awful hand and swear by Himself, " Behold, I live for 
ever !" Before the earth was, or the stars of the morning 
sang together, or the sons of God shouted for joy, Jehovah 
was. Were all the creatures annihilated by a single blow, 
and the void of nothing to take the place which is now 
filled by a teeming and a joyous universe, Jehovah would 
still be. Above and beyond time and all its phenomena, 
He is untouched by its changes and disasters. Eternity is 
His dwelling-place, and " I Am" is His name. 

III. Contemplated in reference to the extent of His be- 
ing, God is said to be immense. This ex- 

Immeiisity, t • i • 

presses His relation to space, as eternity 
expresses His relation to time. It implies that God in the 
fullness of His essence is present to every point of space 

in every point of time. Omnipresence is 

flistineuished from tt- • •, • ^ t • ij* i- 

omnipresence. ^^^ immensity coiisidcrcd m reiation to 

His creatures. It is His presence to them ; 
but as the created universe is limited. His presence, if He be 
infinite, must extend infinitely beyond it. He is where the 
creatures are, but He is also where creatures never are, 
never have, been and never Avill be. But the immensity 
of a simple essence is as incomprehensible as eternity. We 
cannot conceive of infinite space, much less can we conceive 
of an inextended substance, pervading every portion of this 
boundless field in the entire plenitude of His being. 

How spirits are related to space at all it is impossible to 
say. They are not circumscribed by it 

Relation of spirits ti i i ,i i , r-n •. 

to space. hke body; they do not occupy or fall it; 

and yet they are so restricted to it in their 
energies and operations that we can properly say they are 
here and not there. They have a presence of some kind, as 
the soul is present in the body and the angels present in 
prescribed spheres, necessitating locomotion in enlarging the 
area of their working. 

As God's immensity precludes all extension, so it pre- 


eludes all mixture with other objects that exist in sj)ace. 

Mixture with other ^^^ ^^^^^ being excludes another from the 

objects in space, pre- same place. Two souls never exist in the 

same body, and two angels have not the 
same presence to any given locality. But God pervades 
every other being without mixture or confusion. He is 
as intimately present to our own souls as our own con- 
sciousness. He knows every thought, He perceives every 
desire ; there is not a word in our tongue, but lo ! He know- 
eth it altogether. The whole universe stands naked and 
bare to His inspection. And yet He is as perfectly distinct 
from the universe and from every object in it as if He 
dwelt in distant and inaccessible regions. One finite being 
is not so completely diverse from another as God from every 
creature that He has made. He is separated from the finite 
by a chasm as boundless as His immensity. 

Some have resolved the universal presence of God into 

Not the mere vir- ^^^ virtual prcscncc of His power — mean- 

tuai presence of His ing nothing morc than that He is capable 

of producing effeists beyond His own im- 
mediate locality, and that the symbols and means of His 
authority are everywhere diffused, as a king may be said in 
a modified sense to be present in every part of his domin- 
ions. But such a presence is constructive, and to attri- 
bute only such a presence to God is to deny His infinity. 
If His essence sustains not the same relation to all space — 
if there is a region, no matter how large, to which it is re- 
stricted in its actual being — then God becomes finite and de- 
pendent. The region beyond is aloof from Him, and He 
can only act on it through instruments and means. 

The Scriptures are abundant in their references to this 

amazing perfection of God. " Whither," 
^^^OTpture testimony ^^^^^ ^j^^ Psalmist,^ " sliall I go from Thy 

Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy 
presence ? If I ascend up into heaven, Thqu art there ; if 
I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there ! If I take 
1 Ps. cxxxix. 7-10. 


the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts 
of the sea, even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy 
right hand shall hold me." " Behold, the heaven of heavens," 
says Solomon,^ " cannot contain Thee." " Am I a God at 
hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any 
hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him ? saith 
the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth ? saith the Lord." ^ 
It were useless to multiply passages. This is one of the 
points in which the Sacred Scriptures show their immense 
superiority to all the devices of human wisdom and policy. 
The gods of the heathen were all local deities. They were 
circumscribed in space, and subject to the conditions of time 
and matter. It was reserved for a rude people, just escaping 
from bondage and degradation, to reveal a sublimer theology 
than the Porch, Academy or Lyceum ever dreamed of. A 
spiritual, eternal, omnipresent, infinite God is the pervading 
doctrine of a race, unskilled in letters and 

and provea the Bible , , i , i • , j • 

to be not of man. coustautly prouc to rclapsc mto supersti- 

tion. How clear the proof that the Bible 
is no contrivance of man ! 

It may be well to remark that, besides the essential pres- 
„ . , . ence, the Scriptures sometimes speak of a 

Special sense in ' 1 i 

which God is said to prcscuce wliicli cousists in peculiar mani- 
festations of the Divine favour or anger. 
In the first sense God was present in the Jewish temple. 
He there manifested His mercy and grace to the j^eople. It 
was there He showed Himself pleased with their worship, 
and answered the prayers and intercessions they made to 
Him. In this sense, too, He is present in heaven. He 
there communicates to saints and angels the richest tokens 
of His love. They have free and undisturbed communion 
with Him as the Father of their spirits. In the second 
sense He is present in hell. He there reveals the tokens 
of His justice. The impenitent and devils are made to feel 
the Avcight of His displeasure against sin. And so God is 
said to withdraw Himself and to hide His face ; not that 
1 1 Kings viii. 27. ^ Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. 


His essential presence is diminished, but the marks of His 

favour are withheld. He ceases to show Himself proj)itious. 

The immensity, like the eternity of God, transcends all 

finite conception, but as a regulative fact it 

Practical uses of the ' i* ,i , , • . mii -j 

doctrine. IS of the utuiost nnportancc. io the samt 

it is full of comfort. He can never be re- 
moved beyond the reach of his Redeemer and his Friend. 
Go where he may, he is still surrounded with God, who 
compasses him before and behind, and lays His hand upon 
him. He knows our hearts infinitely better than we know 
them ourselves. Those desires which we cannot utter, and 
those penitent distresses which can only reveal themselves in 
tears and groans, He thoroughly comprehends. Our whole 
hearts are before Him in the nakedness of a perfect, infallible 
intuition. He understands our wants, appreciates our weak- 
ness and can accommodate His grace precisely to our case. 
Men may misconstrue us ; they may impugn our motives, 
traduce our characters and assail us with unjust reproaches; 
how delightful the truth that there is One who knows us, 
and who will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and 
our judgment as the noonday ! What a rebuke, too, is this 
truth to every species of hypocrisy ! How idle to think of 
concealment from Him to whom the night is even as the 
day, darkness as transparent as light ! And what a check 
should it be to wickedness that we are ever with God — that 
there is no darkness or shadow of death whither we can 
escape from His presence. He pursues us more closely than 
our own shadows in the sun. He is with us in the very 
depths of our soul, in the most secret recesses of our con- 
sciousness. Awake or asleep, at home or abroad, in sickness 
or in health, by land or sea, we are still with God. Such 
knowledge is too wonderful for us ; it is high, we cannot at- 
tain unto it. Hence, too, under the Gospel, prayer can be 
made everywhere, for everywhere the ears of the Eternal 
are open. It is no longer at Jerusalem, nor yet at Gerizim ; 
but in every spot of earth trodden by the foot of man true 
worship may be offered, if offered in the name of Christ. 


The whole earth has become a temjDle, and every place a 
place for prayer. 

IV. We come next to the all-sufficiency of God, which is 
the infinite and absolute considered with ref- 

AU-sufficiency. /. i -i-v* • -r» • 

erence to the contents oi the Uivine ±>eing. 
It means that God contains within Himself the fullness of 
perfection and blessedness — that nothing can be taken from 
Him and nothing added to Him. He is His own satisfying 
portion, and the end and portion of all His 
tuSortreLnlyelr" intelligent creatures. He can never want ; 
he can never be subject to unsatisfied de- 
sire ; he can never be disturbed by care or solicitude. He is 
the jDcrfect good. All the perfections of all the creatures 
are in Him, formally, eminently or virtually. Let me ex- 
plain these terms. Perfections, according 

Scholastic terms ex- ■.icill T'lJ'xx 

pij^ijjgjj to the bchoohnen, were divided into two 

classes, those that were absolutely simple — 
shnplidter simpUces — and those that were only relative per- 
fections, or perfections secundum quid, called also mixed. 
An absolute jjerfection had no imperfection in it, and is bet- 
ter than its opposite, or than any other thing with which it 
is incompatible in the same subject. These perfections in 
their own formal and essential nature, abstracted from the 
conditions under which they manifest themselves in us, are 
predicated of God, and are therefore said to be formcdiy in 
Him. Mixed perfections have an element of imperfection 
in them ; they are only relative to certain kinds of things, 
and are called perfections because these things admit nothing 
higher and better. They would cease to be what they are 
if adorned with higher and better. Human reason, human 
will, human intelligence are relative perfections, but they 
are mixed with limitation and defect. The properties of 
gold with reference to that metal are perfections, but they 
are not simply better than other qualities with which in gold 
they cannot co-exist. Now those perfections which are im- 
perfect by limitation and defect are predicated of God in 
the way of eminence — that is, they exist in Him in a higher 


degree and more eminent degree. Perfections which are 
purely relative, purely secundum quid, neither formally nor 
eminently exist in God ; they are only in Him as in His 
230wer to produce them, and are therefore said to be vir- 
tually in Him.^ In this way God is made to contain the 
23lenitude of the universe. His being is absolutely ex- 
haustless in its contents, sufficient for Himself and sufficient 
for all the creatures. 

Here, too, is a truth too mighty for the grasp of our in- 
tellects, and yet of the utmost consequence 

Value of this truth. ' . . , „ „ , , t- • 

as a regulative principle of faith. It is 
this infinite fullness of God that makes Him the end and 
felicity of the creature. Poor in ourselves, Avithout strength, 
without resources, feeble as a reed, and easily crushed before 
the moth, we are yet rich and valiant and mighty in God. 
We have treasures which can never be consumed, resources 
which can never be exhausted, and strength which can never 
fail. With the everlasting God as our refuge we can bid 
defiance to the universe besides. Though the earth be re- 
moved and though the mountains be carried into the midst 
of the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, 
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, yet 
we need not fear. Nothing can be lost so long as God re- 
mains our friend. He is all in all. 

V. We come now to consider the infinite and absolute 

Avith reference to the permanent identity 

Immutability. p /-* -ii y • ni- 

or God s being, and this gives rise to the 
notion of immutability. Immutability is indeed pnly an- 
other form of asserting the simplicity and oneness of the 
infinite. That which never began and can never end, to 
which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be 
taken, which knows na succession and is dependent upon 
nothing without, is evidently incapable of change. Change 
implies succession, and is possible only to a being conditioned 
by time ; change implies causation, and is possible only to a 
being limited and dependent ; change implies addition or 
^ Cf. Perrone, also De Moor, c. iv., § 18. 


subtraction, and is possible only to the defective or super- 
fluous. The complete, the perfect, is beyond its reach. 
Change is either from better to worse or from worse to bet- 
ter, and is grossly incompatible with the notion of the infi- 
nite, which contains the absolute fullness of perfection. This 
truth, self-evident in itself, if the notion 

Self-evident, yet also i» j.1. • £ -x l_ xi x* t i 

Bet forth in Scriptme. «! ^^le mfinitc has cveu the negative valid- 
ity which must certainly be assigned to it, 
is abundantly proclaimed in Scripture : " For I am the 
Lord ; I change not ; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not 
consumed."^ "Of old hast Thou laid the foundation of 
tlie earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. 
They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure ; yea, all of them 
shall wax old like a garment, as a vesture shalt Thou change 
them, and they shall be changed ; but Thou art the same, 
and Thy years shall have no end."^ "God is not a man 
that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should 
repent ; hath He said, and shall He not do it, or hath He 
spoken, and shall He not make it good"?^ "Every good 
gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down 
from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, 
neither shadow of turning." * " Jesus Christ, the same yes- 
terday, and to-day, and for ever." * " The counsel of the 
Lord standeth for ever ; the thoughts of His heart to all 
generations." ^ 

The absolute immutability of God seems to be contradicted 
by the fict of creation. A new relation was 
.£:il^:T certainly superinduced._ The answer com- 
monly given is : Relations ad extra imply 
no change in the essence related ; God acquires a new de- 
nomination, but no new accession to His being ; the title 
Creator imports no addition to His nature ; the only real 
change in the case takes place in the creatures which pass 
from nonentity to being. But the question is, whether there 
is not a modification of the Divine will in passing from non- 

1 Mai. iii. 6. « Ps. cii. 25, 26. ^ Num. xxiii. 19. 

* James i. 17. * Heb. xiii. 8. ^ Ps. xxxiii. 11. 


creation to creation. The universe began, and wlien it began 
by the fiat of the Almighty, was not His will diiferently 
determined from what it was before ? This difficulty we 
conceive it impossible to answer. To say that He willed 
from eternity to create just when He did — that the purpose 
included the time and mode of its execution — does not solve 
the problem. A will to create and a will creating do not 
seem to be the same. It is true that the universe adds no- 
thing to God and takes nothing from Him ; but does not 
This question not to ^^c crcatiou of the universe imply a new de- 
be solved, by reason of termination of His will ? This is one of 

our ignorance. , . i • i • i 

the questions which remind us of our igno- 
rance whenever we undertake to speculate on the absolute. 
"VVe shall meet it again when we come to the doctrine of 
creation. In the mean time, let us be content to acknowledge 
that our j^owers are not commensurate with the domain of 

It has also been contended that the Divine essence was 

The Divine essence modified by the incarnation of the Son. 

not modified by the But tlic iucamation was only a new mani- 

Incarnation, . n r^ -i -r itti. 

testation ot (jrocl. It added nothing to the 
essence of the Logos, into Personal union with whom the 
humanity was apprehended. 

The changes which take place in the universe are no 

proof of the mutability of God, for to will 
thlunivers^ ''°^*'^'° cliaiiges, and to change the will, are, as 

Turrettin^ very justly remarks, very dif- 
ferent things. 

Those passages of Scripture which represent God as 

changing His mind or purpose, as repenting 

Scriptures wliich as- -i ... -■ . . , , , 

cribe change to God. aucl regretting and grieving, are all to be 
interpreted as other anthropomorphisms. 
They express no change in God, but a change in the events 
of His providence — a change analogous to tliat which would 
be produced in us under the influence of these feelings. 
They are condescensions of the Divine Teacher to our narrow 
1 Loc. iii., Qu. 11, § 7. 


capacities ; and as they are so thoroughly guarded from 
abuse, they are admirably adapted to give vivacity and em- 
phasis to the real idea they are intended to convey. It is 
indeed one of the marks of the divinity of Scripture that it 
can thus venture to clothe God in the forms of earth without 
depressing His majesty or marring His glory. No human 
author could have ventured on such a style without incurring 
the certain risk of degrading the Almighty. 

I need not add that the immutability of God is the foun- 
dation of all our hopes. It is here that the 
ourTrpt^s'""" °' "^^ heirs of the promise have strong consola- 
tion. He can never deceive us in the ex- 
pectations which He excites. He never falls short of, but 
often goes immeasurably beyond, what He had led us to ex- 
pect. Here is the pledge of His faithfulness, — He can never 
change ; His counsel shall stand, and He will do all His 
pleasure. The impenitent, too, may be assured that, with- 
out a change in them, the threatenings of 
His M^ord will be infallibly executed. He 
will by no means clear the guilty. He can never be induced 
to countenance or to tolerate sin. All efforts to secure His 
favour Avhile we cling to our lusts are only insults to His 
character, which represent Him as capable of being soothed 
by flattery or bribed by rewards. It is the misery of sin 
that it makes God altogether such an one as we ourselves. 
It forgets His glory, and changes it into a lie. 

It is delightful, too, to think that the immutability of God 
is the immutability of wisdom and goodness 
."dneilandTr^ and truth. It is no blind fate utterly re- 
gardless of all moral distinctions. It is 
rectitude itself ever abiding one and the same, and rendering 
to all according to their dues. Injustice can never enter the 
government of such a God. All will at length prove well. 
I have now briefly and rapidly surveyed those attributes 
which characterize God as the Infinite and Absolute. I 
have contemplated Him in relation to the grounds, the du- 
ration, the extent, the contents and the identity of His being. 


and have reached results which we are constrained to accept 
as facts, but which we are wholly incompetent to explain. 
These are the attributes which distinguish God ; it is these 
which render every other perfection Divine. To deny any 
one of them is to deny all, and to reduce existence to the 
limited and contingent. 

I cannot close without pointing out the immeasurable dis- 
parity which this subject reveals between 
Go^Td the creaTum ^lic uiost cxaltcd crcaturc in the universe 
and its infinite creator. The tallest angel 
has only a derived existence — it is absolutely dependent upon 
the will of God. It sprang from a cause, and subsists only 
in its cause. There was a time when it was not ; it could 
again cease to be if God should so decree. Whatever in- 
crease it has made in knowledge, power or excellence, it is 
no nearer to independence to-day than when the light of con- 
sciousness was first kindled within it. But how different 
with God ! He leans u2)on nothing. He lives no borroAved 
life. He asks no leave to be. He is because He is. His 
throne is stable as eternity. His being immovable as des- 
tiny. Strike out all the creatures, and He still is — glorious, 
holy, majestic and blessed as when the morning stars sang 
together and the sons of God shouted for joy. The universe 
has added nothing to His bliss and can subtract nothing from 
His fullness. Think, too, of an underived knowledge — a 
knowledge which was never acquired ; which came from no 
impressions from without ; which admits of no reasoning, of 
no memory, of no succession of ideas ! Whence came this 
knowledge? Thought reels and staggers at the problem, 
and can only answer that it is like His being, independent 
and original ; He knows because He knows. Think, again, 
of its extent — all beings, all possible things, all the vicissi- 
tudes of all the histories of all worlds — the whole universe, 
with all its events from the first dawn of creation through 
the endless cycle of ages, — all this present to His infinite 
consciousness with an intuition easier and simpler than the 
simplest perception of sight. The ages are but an instant. 


and creation but a point. How little are we compared with 
such a God ! Think, too, of an underived power — a power 
to which there is nothing difficult ; to which it is as easy to 
create a world as to move a feather, to uphold all things as 
to speak a word. The universe lies in His hands as nothing ; 
the nations are the small dust of the balance. He taketh up 
the isles as a very little thing. He speaks and it is done. 
He commands and it stands fast. What is man, what is an 
angel, what is a seraph, compared to a being like this ? 

In the next place, let us consider the disparity in the du- 
ration of His existence. We are of yesterday, and know 
nothing ; our age is but a span, our days but a hand-breadth. 
We come forth in the morning, disappear in the evening, 
and straight are seen no more. But from everlastino; to 
everlasting the God that made us abides the same. Before 
time began He was ; and when time shall cease He will 
still be. Nothing can touch His being, for Eternity is His 
dwelling-place. The earth has existed for ages which defy 
all calculation ; it has witnessed stupendous changes ; it is 
destined to witness more ; yet there was a time when there 
was no earth, no sun, no moon, no stars, no angel, no man. 
But there never was a time when there was no God. We 
pass from infancy to age ; we add month to month and year 
to year. But God has no age. He is no older now than 
millions and billions of years before time began to roll. In 
undecaying vigour He ever and ever abides. What a being 
is God ! 

Think, besides, of His immensity. Here we are confined 
to a spot of earth. Our being is limited to a narrow sphere. 
We cannot stretch ourselves to the regions beyond. We are 
fixed to our places. But where is the place of God "? Where 
are the limits that circumscribe His being ? Where is the 
point of space that eludes the scrutiny of His eye ? Go to 
the eternal snows of the north, the burning deserts of the 
tropics ; climb from world to world and from sun to sun ; or 
sink even to the deep vault of hell — everywhere you shall 
meet God. It is His hand that sustains the mountains. His 

Lect. yiii.] incommunicable attributes of god. 205 

breath that scorches the desert, and His arm that upholds 
the worlds. Surely we may ask with the Psalmist, What 
is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that 
Thou visitest him ? We are indeed as vanity and less than 
nothing in His sight. 

Think, too, of His all-sufficiency. His infinite fullness, 
the boundless wealth of His being. He needs nothing. 
He has no occasion to go beyond Himself for absolute bless- 
edness. In the person of the Trinity is a glorious society ; 
in the infinite perfections of His essence is perfect good. 
He can receive nothing from the creature, for it is only a 
faint reflection of Himself. How diiferent is man — poor, 
feeble, dependent man ! We have nothing that we can call 
our own. The breath we breathe is borrowed ; we live only 
as we are kept. The treasures we have to-day may be gone 
to-morrow; we are the sport of accident and chance. A 
straw can wound us, a fly can kill us. If you add to all 
this the immutability of God, and then consider our chang- 
ing and fitful history, the contrast is complete betwixt us 
and the Author of our being. 

With such an immense disparity how al^surd in us to 
Rebuke of airo- tkiuk of Comprehending the plans of the 
gance, cavilling and Almighty ! How arrogaut to arraign His 
wisdom at our bar ! We presume to sit in 
judgment upon His schemes, we question the arrangements 
of His providence, we cavil at the unequal distribution of 
His favours, we complain that the world might have been 
made better, and we murmur and repine when our own lit- 
tle plans are crossed or disappointed. But who are we that 
presume to rise against God ? What wisdom is that which 
ventures to condemn the counsel of the Holy One ? Who 
is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge ? 
Let us learn the lesson of our ignorance, and where we can- 
not understand, let us not be tempted to censure or repine. 
It is enough that God does it. That word God is a guar- 
antee that all is right. 



THE fact of creation is vital in Theology, as upon it de- 
pends the question of the relation betwixt the world and 
God, and even of the absoluteness and independence of the 

Divine Being. There are but five conceiv- 
po^Tser'"''"'''" ^ible hypotheses upon which the relations 

of the finite and infinite can be adjusted. 
The first is that of the Atheists, which denies the existence 
of the infinite, and acknowledges the reality only of the 
world ; the second is that of the Eleatics, which denies the 
existence of the world, and admits only the reality of the 
infinite ; the third is that of the Pantheists, who admit both, 
but resolve them into unity by making them phenomenal 
modifications of the same substsinae ; the fourth is that of 
the Dualists, who recognize two eternal substances, mind and 
matter, of which the one is essentially passive, the other 
active ; and the fifth and last is that of a genuine Theism, 
which makes God the creator of the world, and makes the 
world a real thing, separate and distinct from God. We 

may here discount the first two hypotheses 
The first two dis- ^^ havius^ in our times no advocates who are 

counted ; o 

entitled to much consideration. But it is 
clear that Dualism is inconsistent with the infinity and 
absoluteness of the Supreme Being. If matter exist inde- 
pendently of Him, His knowledge of its laws and proper- 
ties has been acquired. He has had to learn them. His 
power, too, like that of man, is conditioned by the nature 
of the material upon which He has to work. Like ours it 

Lect. IX.] CREATIOX. 207 

is the handmaid of knowledge, and consists in obedience to 
laws that He has discovered. The eternity of matter evi- 
dently, then, reduces God to the category of the finite, the 
limited, the conditioned. He ceases to be self-sufficient. 
He ceases, in other words, to be God. He may be a skil- 
ful workman, an admirable contriver, a wonderful mechanic, 
but all in consequence of acquired knowledge. He is a man 
on a large scale. Dualism, therefore, is disguised Atheism. 
Hence creation is invested with so much importance in the 
Scriptures. God is everywdiere presented in them as the 
Creator of the w^orld, and not as the skilful architect of 
nature. This hypothesis of Dualism may, 

also the fourth. it t .it 

consequently, be discounted as essentially 
Atheistic. The only scheme inconsistent with creation 
which remains is that of Pantheism. This is the prevail- 
ing tendency of modern philosophy. If 
PanthcTstic!' ' °^°^ ^^ wc admit both the finite and the infinite, it 
is clear that they must either be the same 
or different. There is no medium. The Pantheist affirms 
that they are the same ; the Theist that they are different. 
The Pantheist resolves the finite into a phenomenon of the 
infinite ; it is its mode of appearing or of manifestation. 
The Theist affirms that it is a different thing— a real sub- 
stance, separate and distinct from the eternal and infinite 
substance. The natural impressions of the mind are in 
favour of Theism. It is only the difficulties which are en- 
countered in the problem of Creation that have driven ■ 
modern speculation into Pantheism, as it drove the ancient 
philosophers into Dualism. 

The fundamental postulate of Pantheism is that creation 
is impossible — that it is self-contradictory 

Fundamental postu- i i i -r» on' •^ -t/ 

late of Pantheism. aud absui'd. Bccauseof the impossibility 
of creation, and only because of it, has the 
hypothesis been invented wdiich seems most naturally to 
account for the facts of consciousness in default of creation. 
If now this postulate of the Pantheist is rashly assumed, 
if it can be shown that creation involves no contradiction 

208 CREATION. [Lect. IX. 

and terminates in no absurdity, then it must be conceived 
as established. If speculation cannot refute it, as the most 
natural and consistent scheme it must be admitted. The 
question, therefore, which vre have to resolve is simply 
whether creation is possible. Let us examine the process 
by which the Pantheist reaches a negative answer. 

1. Creation, it is said, involves the notion of making 
„ ,,. „ „ ,, somethino; out of nothino;. It makes that 

Outline of Panthe- & o 

istic objections to ere- to be wliicli had uo being before. Nothing 
is therefore a material upon which one 
works — a subject about which an agency is employed. Now 
this is self-contradictory. To be a material or subject of 
operation is already to be something. The maxim is self- 
evident that out of nothing nothing can be made. But if 
we look to our notion of poioer, Ave shall see that it excludes 
the notion of creation. We know power from its effects, and 
all effects with which we are acquainted are mere changes in 
existing objects. To produce without a pre-existing mate- 
rial, to work without something to work upon, is an anomaly 
which no experience either of what passes within or without 
us justifies us in asserting. In fact, we can attach no mean- 
ing to the words. 

2. The second objection is drawn from the nature of God 
as implying plenitude of being. He is the sum-total of 
reality. As the fullness of being He must be one — He must 
exclude all other realities. If you admit the existence of 
another real being, separate and distinct from God, you 
might conceive that being added to God, and then God is 
not the all. As far forth as the other being has reality, God 
is wanting in omnitude of being. The all must be one, per- 
fect and complete. Nothing can be added to it, nothing 
taken from it. Hence real existence admits no distinction 
of plurality and difference. 

3. A third objection is drawn from the will of God. If 
creation be supposed, God created either necessarily or freely. 
If necessarily, then the world would seem to be part of Him- 
self. There was no foreign impulse to determine His will, 

Lect. IX.] CREATION. 209 

and a necessity ab intra would seem to terminate upon His 
own being. Again, if the world be admitted as separate and 
distinct from God, a necessitating influence ad extra would 
be a determination of the Divine being inconsistent with Plis 
all-sufficiency and His unconditional absoluteness. It is the 
same as to condition Him from without. 

But if tliis difficulty were obviated, we are perplexed to 
understand how the will of God can be determined to the 
contingent, the finite, the imperfect. If the world be a free 
product, its being limited and conditioned would make the 
limited and conditioned both objects of the Divine knowledge 
and of the Divine will, either of which would seem to imply 
an imperfection. We cannot understand how God can will 
anything but the infinite and eternal. 

Further, if the will of God be eternal, the world must be 
eternal, or an interval has elapsed betwixt the will and the 
execution. That interval implies succession, consequently 
change, and consequently a denial of- God's eternity. The 
will and its execution must co-exist. If the will existed only 
when creation began, then there was something new in God. 
Hence the world must be eternal. Besides, all duration is 
the same. There is no reason why creation should have 
taken place when it did, rather than earlier or later. No 
reason for preference can be found in the duration. There- 
fore, to select one point of time rather than another, when 
the claims of all time were exactly equal, is to attribute to 
God an arbitrary proceeding, a will without wisdom. Hence 
creation must be eternal. On the same ground it must be 
infinite in space. All the parts of space are equal. No 
motive can be conceived for selecting one part rather than 
another, and to avoid an empty choice we must project cre- 
ation in the whole void. 

Again, if God has freely created the world. He desired it. 
Will without motive is inconceivable. Upon this supposition 
we have two difficulties : (1.) That an infinitely perfect and 
blessed being should desire the imperfect and limited. This 
seems to us to be a degradation — a letting Himself down 

Vol. I.— 14 

210 CREATION. [Lect. IX. 

from the heights of His felicity. (2.) If the world be not 
eternal, and yet has been an object of Divine desire, that de- 
sire, having been eternal, is a confession in God of eternal 
want. Hence, He is not all-sufficient. 

Further still, the world has been created either perfect 
or imperfect. If perfect, it has fullness of being in itself, 
and there is no need for God. If imperfect, all the difficulties 
connected with a world beginning in time, limited in space, 
conditioned in being, emerge. 

4. To these difficulties must be added those which spring 
from the existence of evil, of positive disorder, crime and 
misery in the world. These evils seem to be utterly incon- 
sistent either with the benevolence or the omnipotence of 
God. He could either have prevented them or He could 
not. If He could have done it and refused. He is not abso- 
lutely good ; if He would have done it but could not. He is 
not all-powerful. In either case He ceases to be God. 

This is the brief outline of the arguments against the 
possibility of creation, as they are very clearly and felici- 
tously stated by Jules Simon in his spirited little book on 
natural religion.^ 

Of these four classes of arguments this general criticism 
may be made, that they labour under the 

Capital vice of all 'j. ^ ' r ±± ±' ^ i • 'xi • 

these arguments. Capital vicc of attcmptuig to bmig withm 

the forms of the understanding what tran- 
scends the capacity of thought. They assume the infinite, 
the unconditioned, the absolutely perfect, as a thing about 
which we are as competent to speculate as the facts of expe- 
rience. • They bring it into the relations and under the 
conditions of our faculties of knowledge without being con- 
scious that the very circumstance of subjecting it to these 
limitations destroys its nature. It is the infinite no longer 
if it is comprehended within the narrow sj^here of human 
cogitation. What is apprehended as the infinite and rea- 
soned upon as the infinite is a tissue of negations ; which, the 
human mind accepting as positive elements of consciousness, 
1 Chapter iii. 

Lect. IX.] CREATION. 211 

becomes involved in an endless series of contradictions. 

Hence such absurdities are not arguments. They are only 

puzzles or logical riddles. They prove 

They are liut puz- j.1 • i j. j.i • j. p ^ 

zies or logical riddles, nothing but the niipoteucy of reason, and 
the incompetency of philosophy to trans- 
cend with its logical forms the sphere of experience. It 
cannot be too strenuously insisted on that the infinite is 
believed, not known — that as existing it is a necessary 
affirmation of intelligence, a thing which we cannot but 
accept. But when we undertake to represent the object of 
this faith, we can only do it by recurring to the conditions 
under which it is awakened, and by divesting what is posi- 
tively given of all limitations. This negation of limitations 
puts the object beyond the grasp of the understanding, and 
we are guilty of a gross paralogism when we reduce it to 
the forms and categories of our human thought. We may 
reason about it, but we cannot reason from it. Now in the 
question of creation the great difficulty is the coexistence of 
finite and infinite, the one and the many, the perfect and 
the imperfect. In attempting to adjust the relations be- 
twixt them, we imperceptibly take for granted that we know 
the positive properties and attributes of the infinite, as we 
know the positive properties and attributes of the finite, 
whereas we know the infinite only as the negation of the 
finite. These negations wx preposterously make positive. 
We confound, in other words, a non-positing of the infinite 
with a real positing, and setting out with a fundamental 
blunder, it is no wonder that every step should plunge us in 
deeper darkness. He that reasons upon no as if it were 
yes, must not be sm^prised at the perplexity of his conclusions. 
A detailed consideration of the difficulties alleged against 
the notion of creation will show that even 
in this point of view it will not suffer in 
comparison with Pantheism, or any other hypothesis touch- 
ing; the nature and oria!;in of the world. 

1. The objection that the idea of creation is self-contra- 
dictory and absurd, proceeds upon a double misconception. 

212 CREATION. [Lect. IX. 

It first assumes that nothing is a positive subject of operation 
— a real pre-existing material upon which 

First objection based ± o i. 

on a double miscon- powcr is exertcd. It takcs for granted 
"^^ '°°' that the preposition ex in the philosophic 

axiom ex nihilo nihil fit, represents the material cause. This 
is a gross mistake. Nothing is simj)ly the term from which 
existence begins. The meaning is, that something now is 
where there was nothing before ; that something, in other 
words, has begun to be. Creation is an energy of God, an 
effect of the Divine omnipotence, produced without the con- 
currence of any other principle. His power as infinite is 
without limits. It is, therefore, not restricted, like that of 
the creature, to the modification of a pre-existing material ; 
it not only changes, but makes its objects. There is no 
more contradiction in the notion of power as giving being 
than there is in the notion of power as changing being. 
Both may be incomprehensible, but neither is absurd. The 
second error is, that the notion of power is determined to 
only one class of effects. It is true, experience presents 
us with no instances of power but those produced through 
the medium of motion. But the concept may be separated 
in thought from any specific form in w hich it is realized ; 
it is simply that Avhich produces effects without reference to 
their nature or the conditions under which it is exerted. 
Hence, creation as an effect is as clearly an instance of power 
as motion. It is, indeed, the highest exemplification of it. 
To say that God wills and a world follows, requires no other 
simple idea to understand it than is involved in the asser- 
tion, I will and my arm moves. The mode in which the 
power operates is different, but the idea of power is the 
same. In neither case do we understand the mode of ope- 
ration. Because one is a matter of daily experience we 
confound familiarity with knowledge, and think we under- 
stand it when we do not. What power is in itself we are 
unable to conceive. It is a mystery in every form of its 
exhibition, and as we cannot grasp it in itself, it is perfectly 
preposterous to limit it to one class of effects. There is con- 

Lect. IX.] CREATION. 213 

sequently mystery, but no absurdity, no self-contradiction, 
in saying that the worlds were made by the power of God. 

2. To the second objection, which makes creation contra- 
dict the plenitude of the Divine Being, it may be replied 
that the creature has no reality which it does not derive 
from God. Though separate and distinct from Him, it is 
not independent of Him. His will is the basis of all the 
reality it contains. Lot that will be withdrawn, and it be- 
comes nothing. Hence the whole sum of its being was in 
Him virtually and potentially before it existed, and creation, 
therefore, has neither added anything to Him nor to the 
amount of positive reality in the universe. God alone is 
equal in the sum of being to God plus the universe. But 
if this answer should not solve the diffi- 

The second objec- 1j.*j. i j_j.1j.1j. j.1' 

tion retorted. culty, it may bc retorted that pantheism en- 

counters it in another and still more objec- 
tionable form. The world is a phenomenon of God, a mod- 
ification of His being. The phenomenon has some reality, 
it has some kind of existence ; otherwise nothing could be 
predicated of it. Now the appearance of the phenomenon 
either adds its own being to that of God, and then He was 
not absolutely perfect before ; or it does not, and then there 
is some reality which cannot be affirmed of Him. The dif- 
ficulty presses the Pantheist as sorely as the Theist, unless 
the Pantheist is prepared to maintain that His phenomenal 
modifications are pure nothings. The difficulty, in truth, is 
one which lies against every hypothesis which recognizes the 
All-perfect as one and simple and complete. To deduce the 
manifold and plural from the one and simple, to exjilain their 
coexistence without destroying unity, is a problem which the 
understanding cannot solve, whether the manifold and plural 
be that of thought, of phenomenon, or of finite substance. 
"We have not the data for even apprehending the real nature 
of the problem — it embraces terms which transcend the 
limits of human speculation. The fundamental error is in 
taking for granted that we know the absolute in itself. The 
very fact that the difficulty attaches to all systems, shows 

214 CREATION. [Lect. IX. 

that it is grounded in the impotency of human reason, and 
not in the nature of the things themselves, if we had the 
faculties to seize them in their essential reality. 

3. In relation to the difficulty arising from the knowledge 
and Avill of God, it must first be remarked 

DifiBcuIties from i ■ t i i t • i • 

knowledge and will of that tliis, like tlic preceding, IS not obvi- 
Sntheil'.""'*''' "'' ated by adopting the scheme of the Pan- 
theists. On the contrary, it assumes in 
that scheme the appearance of a series of positive contradic- 
tions. The limited, contingent, imperfect is made a part of 
God ; it pertains to the very essence of the Divine nature. 
God does not realize the fullness of His own being without 
those phenomenal modifications of weakness and imperfection 
which it is supposed to be incredible that He should create. 
He can possess them in Himself, and yet be infinite ; but 
He cannot make them, as substances separate from Himself, 
without ceasing to be God. Betwixt the two propositions, 
God creates the finite and God is the finite, there is no com- 
parison as to the difficulties that they respectively involve. 
One is encumbered with perplexities, the other with absurd- 
ities. The real difference, in this matter, between the Theist 
and the Pantheist is, that one refers all weakness and im- 
perfection to a creature that is not God ; the other places 
them in God himself. But, in the next place, we must 
remember that we are incapable of conceiv- 

It transcends our , r> tn- • i i i i 

powers to comprehend ing the iiaturc 01 JDivinc knowlcdgc or the 
^=;:r::r operation of the Divine wm. What God's 
consciousness is, how subject and object in 
Him are related, how He knows, we are unable even to con- 
jecture. We can think of His knowledge only in the terms 
of human consciousness. We distinguish the subject and 
object. Now if the object of Divine knowledge be Himself, 
it is certainly infinite, and there is no difficulty ; — if Him- 
self, the infinite, virtually and potentially contains the finite — 
that, as included in Himself, must fall within the sphere of 
His consciousness, considered as infinite. There is no more 
difficulty in God's knowing the finite than there is in the 

Lect, IX.] CEEATION. 215 

existence of the finite, whatever form it take, whether of 
substance or phenomenon. The knowledge of the infinite 
inckides all that the infinite can produce, whether as modifi- 
cation or real being. The difficulty, therefore, subsides into 
that of the possibility of the finite, as fact. 

In regard to the will of God, it is evident that He Him- 
self must be the beginning and the end of all His determi- 
nations. He must act from Himself and for Himself. We 
cannot conceive that the finite has been chosen for its own 
sake — that the will of God terminates upon it as the last 
end. Such a procedure would indeed be a degradation. 
Grounds upun which ^u* it is possiblc that there may be in the 
we can conceive God finite, as au objcct of the Diviuc will, rela- 

might choose to create. . ,.„. i-i- •/•• 

tions to the infinite which justify its crea- 
tion as a transcendent proof of wisdom and goodness. It 
may be that these very perfections have determined the pro- 
duction of the universe of creatures, and therefore that the 
finite is willed only on account of the infinite. It may be, 
too, that a goodness which delights to communicate itself, 
and creates worlds that it might floAV out upon them in holi- 
ness and joy, as it exists in an infinite being may be com- 
patible with the most perfect self-sufficiency and self-beati- 
tude and blessedness. God is not rendered more holy and 
more blessed in making creatures to behold His glory and 
taste His love, but it may be that a nature perfectly blessed 
may freely choose to impart bounties. It may be that infi- 
nite goodness has nothing approximating to selfishness. We 
cannot reason from mere metaphysical grounds in relation 
to a moral being. The question turns here upon higher 
principles than the mere balancing of the amounts of entity 
or substance. The true end of the creation, and therefore 
the true motive of the Divine will, must be sought in a 
higher and nobler sphere than that of mere being. The 
difficulties which emerge to speculation in one sphere dis- 
appear before morality in another. 

The will of God as eternal does not by any means involve 
an eternal creation. It implies an eternal decree to create — 

216 CREATION. - [Lect. IX. 

„, , , , thatis, an eternal decree to beo;in time. The 

■ The decree to create ' & 

and its execution not execution of a decrec may not be co-exist- 

co-existeut. . ■, . f, . -, ■, . 

ent with its lormation, and yet the inter- 
val imply no change. Otherwise there could be no succes- 
sion of events at all. The argument goes the whole length 
of affirming that all things must be simultaneous, or they 
are not the objects of the Divine will. As to the notion 
that all the parts of duration and space are equal, that 
there is no motive for choosing between tliem, and that 
consequently creation must be unlimited in both respects, — it 
proceeds upon the assumption that time and space are real 
things, and not the logical conditions of existence. To 
those who deny them any reality, there is no difficulty ; to 
those who regard them as real, the difficulty arises, but it 
may be resolved into the incomprehensibility which attaches 
to the nature of the Divine will. 

4. The fourth class of objections drawn from the exist- 

Objections to crea- ^ucc of cvil is Icss formidable upon the 

tion from the exist- scheiiie of Theisiii than that of Pantheism. 

enoeof evil not dimiu- ^-^ -, t. ■• . /. 

ished, but aggravated, God, accordiiig to the partisaiis of creation, 
by Pantheism. -^ ^^^ ^^^ subject of cvil ; it cxists Separate 

and apart from Him. The Pantheist lodges it in His own 
nature. He is, if not evil, yet far from being the absolutely 
good. The truth is. Pantheism is obliged to repudiate all 
moral distinctions. Right and wrong are reduced to the 
contrasts of nature out of which is evolved universal har- 
mony. The bad is as necessary as the good. The propor- 
tions of the universe equally demand both. If evil appears 
as disorder, it is only from our partial view of it. If we 
could take in the whole scene of things, we should perceive 
that the perfection of the wdiole would suffer without it. 
In this broad contradiction to the dictates of our moral 
nature we see that Pantheism not only removes no difficul- 
ties in the notion of creation, but that it introduces absurd- 
ities and paradoxes which defy the possibility of unsophis- 
ticated assent. It annihilates man's highest distinction, 
prostrates his noblest hopes and chills his warmest aspira- 

Lect. IX.] CREATION. 217 

tions. He has no real being — he is only a shadow projected 
for a moment upon the surface of the infinite, soon to vanish 
and disappear for ever. He is to be absorbed in the all-com- 
prehending substance. His individual, personal conscious- 
ness must perish ; immortality is a more stupendous con- 
tradiction than creation. Shadows we are, shadows we 
pursue ; as shadows we are cheated, and as shadows we 
must finally be dissolved. These are the propositions which 
are so plain, so simple, so comprehensible that we are in- 
vited to exchange for them the doctrine of a real existence, 
a real destiny, a real immortality, a real heaven or hell ; — so 
obvious that to find these we must be willing; to lose our- 

The Pantheistic hypothesis rests upon the assumption that 
the world has no substantive reality, or that it is not a sep- 
arate and distinct thing. The metaphysical subtleties by 
which this paradoxical scheme has been supported have all 
originated from inattention to the limits of human know- 
ledge, and from a desire to know what 
thrown by the deiiv- trausccuds tlic rcacli of our facultics. The 
eranees of conscious- ^j.^^ proccdurc of pliilosopliy is to iuquirc 
what are the delivcances of consciousness, 
to accept these as ultimate principl 'S, and to regulate our 
conclusions by these data. If we take this method, the con- 
troversy can soon be brought to a close. 

1. Consciousness unequivocally avers that the world has 
The first is that the ^ real, scparatc, substautive being. It is 
world has a real, sep- the uuivcrsal faith of thc racc. Panthe- 
ism, the highest form of idealism, is a 
speculation of the schools, and can never be carried out into 
practical life. It is a species of skepticism w'hich we may 
persuade ourselves to adopt as a conclusion of philosophy, 
but which we can never realize as a fact of experience. In 
every case of external perception we are conscious of two 
things — of ourselves as percipient subjects, of the external 
world as a perceived object. We know them both, and we 
know them both as real existences. They stand in contrast 

218 CREATION. [Lect. IX. 

to each other, and their distinction in the act of perception 
is but the reflection of their distinction in reality of being. 
They are both cognized under that intrinsic law of exist- 
ence by which alone we recognize a substance. Conscious- 
ness, therefore, reveals matter as substance, mind as sub- 
stance, and each as distinct from and contrasted with the 
other. To repudiate the testimony of consciousness is to 
repudiate the possibility of knowledge ; it is to annihilate 
all intelligence. The universality of this conviction proves 
it to be natural ; the impossibility of divesting ourselves of 
it as a practical conviction confirms the inference. Either, 
then, consciousness is false, and all knowledge impossible, 
or mind and matter are real, distinct, separate, substan- 
tive beings. 

2. Subject and object, mind and matter, as revealed in 
consciousness, though real substances, are limited, condi- 
tioned, dependent. They recipi'ocally condition each other. 
They are bounded by time and space. The world presents an 

aspect of mutability, a successive influence 

The second is, that n i ff j i i • i i 

the world is finite. ^* causc aud eticct, a coustaut interchange 
of action and reaction. Its history is a his- 
tory of vicissitudes. The world is finite. This is as clearly 
the testimony of consciousness as that the world exists. It has 
no principle in it that resists succession and change. On the 
contrary, it is bound to time, which necessarily implies both. 

3. These two facts, that the world exists and that the 

world is finite, imply another, that the world 

From these two pro- , ■, , . . • , i i 

ceeda the third, that UlUSt liaVC bCgUU. A SUCCCSSIOU WltUOUt 

the world had a begin- beffiuuiug is a coutradictiou in terms. It 

ning. . . 

is equivalent to eternal time. A being of 
whose existence time is the law cannot be eternal. But 
time is the law of all finite existence ; therefore, none can 
be eternal. Or, to put the argument in another form : an 
infinite series of finite things is a contradiction. According 
to the hypothesis, everything in the series had a beginning, 
but the series itself had none — that is, what is true of all 
the parts is not true of the whole. A chain without a first 

Leot. IX.] CREATION. 219 

link is impossible, but a first link annihilates the notion of 
eternal being. The world therefore had a beginning. 

4. Having reached this point, we are led to an inevitable 
disjunction. If it had a beginning, it began spontaneously — 
that is, had an absolute commencement, or it sprang from a 
cause. An absolute commencement is not only inconceiv- 
able, but contradictory to that great law 

The fourth is, it had c • i if i*it ij^ 

g^^^^^gg 01 intelligence which demands tor every 

new appearance a cause. The world, there- 
fore, must have been caused, but a cause which begins exist- 
ence, creates. The world, therefore, must have been created. 

In this argument we have done nothing but reprockice the 
facts of consciousness, and unfold explicitly what they im- 
plicitly contain. They give us a real world, subject to the 
law of time, which must have begun, and must therefore have 
had a creator. 

This deduction is so simple and natural that it may seem 

strange that the reality of creation has ever been called in 

question. The wonder will disappear when we call to mind 

what the history of philosophy so abund- 

Speculation has ever .i -n ^ x ^1 x j_t j. l I* 

tended to contradict autly illustrates, that the tendency of 
the facts of conscious- spcculatiou lias cver been to explain the 


incomprehensible, and thus to lose itself in 
contradictions to the most palpable deliverances of conscious- 
ness. Instead of looking into consciousness, and accepting its 
primitive utterances as ultimate and supreme, tliey have been 
turned into propositions to be proved; and as, from the 
nature of the case, no proof could be given, and as their 
denial would involve intelligence in a war upon itself, the 
result has been the doubt in relation to matters which would 
have been perfectly obvious if speculation had not obscured 
them. Hence the denial of an external world ; of personal 
identity ; of the immortality of the soul ; of moral distinc- 
tions ; of the being of God. These are all fundamental ele- 
ments of reason — a part of the natural faith of mankind ; 
and, practically, nature has always asserted them in defiance 
of the sophistries of a perverse philosophy. 

220 CREATION. [Lect. IX. 

For ages, philosophers, instead of interpreting aright the 
fact of consciousness in external perception, laid it down as 
a first principle that the object known was diiferent from the 
object perceived. This crotchet, accepted without examina- 
tion and transmitted in different forms, was never questioned 
until it brought forth the fruit of universal skepticism. In 
the same way, the principle that out of nothing nothing can 
be made — true only in relation to nothing as efficient cause — 
has been universally applied to nothing as material cause, 
or terminus a quo, and has not only excluded the possibility 
of creations, but contains in its bosom the seeds of absolute 
atheism. As, in the one case, the testimony of nature was 
silenced by a dogma, so in the other ; and as, in the one case, 
nature made reprisals by plunging the understanding in 
hopeless darkness, so in the other it inflicts the yet greater 
curse of leaving us without a God. 

5. There is still another step which we are authorized to 
mv. «fti • ti f fi . take. As the finite is limited to time, and 

The nitn is, that the ' 

Creator is eternal and aS timC bcgiuS witll the finite, tllC bciug 

who creates must be independent of time. 
That the first creature should have been made by a finite 
being, is equivalent to saying that time was before it began. 
It is, therefore, a contradiction in terms to attribute all be- 
ginning to the begun. The Creator there- 
God only can create, ,1,11 rri 

lore must be eternal antl necessary. Ine 
first act of creation is the sole prerogative of such a being. 
But are we authorized to say that no creature can, under 
any circumstances, create ? Are we authorized to say that 
no new beings can now begin from the agency of others who 
have also begun ? There is evidently a difference between 
the first beginning and any subsequent commencements. It 
does not follow that because creation in the first instance is 
limited to God, that therefore it must always be restricted to 
Him. But there is another aspect in which this conclusion 

presents itself as little less than self-evident. 

or annihilate. -i m , 

To create and to annihilate are expres- 
sions of the same kind of power — they are both equally ex- 

Lect. IX.] CREATION. 221 

pressions of omnipotence ; that is, they are expressions of 
power unlimited and unconditioned. To annihilate, so far 
from implying subjection to any conditions of actions, de- 
stroys them all. It removes time, empties space, abolishes 
substance, and leaves nothing to be conditioned. This, 
surely, is inconsistent with the notion of the finite. The 
power to abolish all conditions is the power to be infinite. 
But creation is just the reversed view of annihilation. Cre- 
ation makes the transition from nothing to something ; an- 
nihilation makes the transition from something to nothing. 
They are correlated as altitude and depth. Now if the power 
to annihilate be contradictory to the notion of a creature, the 
same must be true of the power to create. Divines have 
illustrated the infinitude of power involved in creation by 
representing the distance betwixt something and nothing as 
infinite. They are contradictory opposites, and no being 
can bridge the abyss which separates them but the infinite 

All finite power is limited to obedience to the laws of 
nature. It is conditioned by the properties and attributes 
of the substances upon which it operates. These substances 
must be given as a pre-existing material, and the creature 
can then work within the limits of the capabilities of the 
subject. This limitation to the properties and laws of exist- 
ing substances seems to be the characteristic distinction of 
finite agency. Hence, all that it achieves is to arrange, com- 
bine, change, modify. It produces new effects only by ad- 
justments, which bring into i^lay, in new forms, the forces of 
nature. Beyond these conditions it can never pass. Hence, 
creation as an unconditioned exercise of power ; as requiring 
neither material, instrument, nor laws; as transcending 
change, modifications, or adjustments of existing things, is 
the sole prerogative of God. It is His to create as it is His 
to destroy. The principle is vital in the- 

This principle is i ti' i. i l j. xi 

vital iu theology, ^^^SJ- I^ crcaturcs could create, the uni- 

verse would not be, or might not be, a 
revelation of God, These heavens and this earth, our own 

222 CREATION. [Lect. IX. 

bodies and souls, might have been the products of being as 
dependent as ourselves. The great decisive proof of revela- 
and fundamental in ^lon, involvcd in the idea of miraculous 
the evidences of Chris- powcr as the exclusivc prerogative of God, 
would be swept away. A miracle would 
cease to be the infallible credential of a Divine Messenger. 
Revealed and Natural Religion would be put in equal jeop- 
ardy. But the truth is so obvious that creative j50wer be- 
longs only to God that it has commanded the testimony of 
the race, with a few partial exceptions, and that in forms of 
the strongest assurance. The very fact that philosophers 
have denied the possibility of creation is a pregnant proof 
that they regarded it as involving a power even transcending 
that of God. The few who have ventured to suggest that a 
creature might create have affirmed, at the same time, that 
he could create only as the instrument of God ; and even in 
that case very few have been willing to say that the power 
could be habitual and resident in it. It may, therefore, be 
taken as the universal faith of mankind that creation cannot 
be the work of a creature. It is the prerogative of God, and 
of God alone. 



/CALVIN has very properly remarked that true wisdom 
^ essentially consists in the knowledge of God and the 
knowledge of ourselves. Each is indispensable to the other. 
All the positive notions which we frame of the attributes of 
God are derived from the properties of our own souls, and 
without some just apprehension of our own nature, capaci- 
ties and destiny the conception of religion becomes unintel- 
ligible. We must know ourselves in order to know aught 
else aright. 

That man is the centre in which, so far as this lower world 

is concerned, all the lines of creation con- 
Man a microcosm. i i • i 

verge and meet, that he is the crowning 
glory of God's sublunary workmanship, is evident alike 
from the peculiarities of his being and from the inspired 
history of his production. He unites in himself the two 
great divisions of the creature — persons and things ; he is 
at once subject and object, mind and matter, nature and 
spirit. He has elements which work under the blind and 
necessitating influence of law — which enter into the chain of 
causes and effects extending through all the impersonal uni- 
verse ; he has other elements which mark the intelligent 
and responsible agent, which separate him from the whole 
sphere of mechanical agencies, and stamp him with the 
dignity and the high prerogative of intelligence and free- 
dom. All the forms of life which are distributed among 
other creatures are concentrated in him. He has the growth 
and assimilating properties of the jilant, the motion and 


224 MAN. [Lect. X. 

spontaneous properties of the animal, and to these he adds 
the sublimer endowments of personality and reason. He 
is, therefore, a representation, a miniature embodiment of 
all other creatures. He is the kosmos upon a small scale; 
tlie whole creation finds its counterpart in him ; he contains 
the fullness of created being. The history of his creation 
completely accords with this account of his position. He 
was the last of God's works, and the Almighty proceeded 
to his formation with a solemnity of counsel that indicated 
the place he was destined to occupy in the 'scale of being. 
" Let us make man," is a formula of consultation employed 
in the production of no other creature. Then, earth and 
heaven are laid under tribute to furnish the materials. His 
body is curiously and Avondrously "wrought from the clay, 
and life is infused into him from the breath of the Almighty. 
He became a living soul. We are not to suppose that the 
process of forming the body was completed, and that then 
the endowment of reason was imparted. There was no in- 
terval between the organization of the one and the infusion 
of the other. They w^ere simultaneous operations. Man 
became a living soul in the very process of receiving the 
body so wonderfully and beautifully ]jade. 

As thus deliberately made, thus strangely mingling heaven 
and earth, he is fitted to occupy a place in which he shall 
represent God to the creatures and the creatures to God. 
He is fitted to collect all those traces of Divine wisdom 
and goodness ^vhich are so conspicuous in the works of the 
Divine Hand, and to render to the Supreme Architect, as 
the high priest of nature, the tribute of praise which the 
creatures can reflect, but cannot express. Hence he is des- 
tined to exercise dominion over them. He becomes their 
lord. Through him and for him they accomplish the end 
of their being — they are for him as he is for God.^ 

But it is necessary to take a more detailed view of those 
excellencies wdiich give to man his dignity and pre-eminence. 
"VVe shall consider, first, those peculiarities which distinguish 
1 Kurtz, Bib. and Ast., p. 152. 

Lect. X.] MAN. 225 

him as man, and without which lie could 

Threefold division .-i iiii 'xxi 

of the subject. ^^* "^ regarded as belongmg to the species. 

We shall then consider his condition 
when he came from the hands of his Maker ; and, thirdly, 
the destiny which he was required to achieve. 

I. His distinguishing characteristics as man may be 

summed up in the attributes of reason and 
person ^^^''"*'"^ ^ * of will, or intelligence and freedom. Or 

the whole may be expressed in the single 
term person. All other terrestrial creatures are things. 
They live in the sphere of blind impulses and successive 
impressions. Their spontaneity is a mere force, and their 
consciousness is only a continued series of perceptions or 
sensations, without any distinct affirmation of a self or re- 
flective contrast of subject and object. Brutes do not know ; 
they only feel. They are conscious of this or that impres- 
sion, but they are not conscious of themselves. They can 
never say I or Thou. Now in order that sense and the 
phenomena of sense may yield knowledge, there must be a 
principle which reduces all these perceptions and sensations 
to a conscious unity. We must recognize them as ours, as 
belonging to us, and we must recognize them as proceeding 
from objects which are not ourselves. But in addition to 
this, there must be conceptions which constitute the forms 
into which all individual experiences are cast and under 
which they are arranged. These forms or categories or con- 
cepts generalize the singular, unite the manifold, and make 
experience the parent of a fixed and abiding knowledge. 
These concepts or categories or regulative principles of rea- 
son are the indispensable conditions of intelligence ; there 
can be no thought without them. Judgment can only real- 
ize itself in and through them. Take away such notions as 
those of unity, of plurality, of difference, identity, equality, 
cause, uniformity, and it would be impossible to compare 
our individual impressions or to attain to the conceijtion of 
general laws. All knowledge is just the application of the 
primitive concepts of the understanding to the materials of 

Vol. I.— 15 

226 MAN. [Lect. X. 

sense or consciousness. When we pass beyond the sphere 
of exj)erience, and demonstrate the existence of the super- 
sensible, it is by the aid of primitive beliefs which consti- 
tute the very substratum of intelligence. Now these primi- 
tive concepts, whether they exist as faith or as mere regula- 
tive forms of thought, are the essence of reason. They make 
knowledge and experience to be possible. By these man 
knows, and by these he extends his knowledge beyond the 
sphere of sense. He draws the distinction betwixt truth 
and falsehood. This is the first office of reason. The word 
truth, the word error or fuheliood, would be altogether 
unmeanino; to the brute. But reason also draws the line 
between right and wrong, between a duty and a crime. 
Reason, in the form of a conscience, gives us the concepts of 
rectitude, of obligation, of merit and demerit. It prescribes 
a law to the will, to the impulses, the appetites and all our 
springs of action, and constitutes man a moral and responsi- 
ble creature. He has a will which is capable of being influ- 
enced by the declarations of reason, and which, as it acts in 
obedience to reason, elevates our impulses into a higher 
sphere, and gives them a dignity to which the appetites of an 
animal can lay no claim. By virtue of the joint possession 
of reason and will man is able to love and hate. The brute 
can do neither. Love is not mere desire ; it is not blind 
attachment or headstrong passion ; it is founded in the 
perception and the embrace of the good. It is will deter- 
mined by intelligence. It is, therefore, a rational principle. 
Brutes cannot hate ; they may have ferocity and violence, 
but they have no malice. That is a will perverted from 
reason, divorced from intelligence and enslaved to selfish- 
ness. So all the passions — pride, envy, charity, compassion 
as a principle — are conditioned upon the possession of reason 
and will. These attributes, therefore, are 

Reason and will ilis- x* i ^ i • ±_ rr^i i 

ti..gui8h humanity, csseutial to humanity. They make man a 
person. Through them he has rights, is 
susceptible of society, recognizes truth and duty, and is an 
intelligent, moral, responsible being, and not a thing. 

Lect. X.] MAN. 227 

These attributes involve the existence of a principle in 

man which cannot be resolved into any modifications of 

matter. They involve the substantive ex- 

and involve a soul in . . /. ■• r^\^ t , • , • i , • , 

man. isteucc 01 a soul. llie distinction betwixt 

soul and body turns upon the conscious 
difference of their respective attributes. We know sub- 
stance only in and through its properties, and where the 
properties are contradictory ojjposites we are compelled to 
infer that the substances cannot be the same. Thought and 
extension have no points in common. Matter is essentially 
divisible, consciousness essentially indivisible. The same 
reasoning will prove this soul to be naturally immortal — 
that is, incapable of destruction by any natural causes. The 
simplicity of its being precludes dissolution, and that is the 
only form of destruction with which we are acquainted. 
God, it is true, may annihilate the soul ; it has no life in 
itself. But we have no reason to believe that anything 
which has ever been called into being will ever cease to be, 
and whatever God has rendered incapable of discerption, 
we are to infer that He designs shall always exist in the 
same form. 

It has been debated in the schools whether the three-fold 
life of man, sensitive, animal and rational, is the result of 
the same spiritual substance in its union with the body, or 
whether each is the manifestation of a different immaterial 
principle. We are certainly not to multiply causes beyond 
necessity. The higher forms of creation seem to take up 
into themselves the principles of the lower. The life of the 
vegetable is taken up into the life of the animal, as a fuller 
expansion of the principle of life ; and so reason in union 
with the body contains the life of the animal. The same 
soul may manifest itself under different conditions in different 
forms ; it may have a higher and a lower sphere. The ques- 
tion, however, belongs to physiology rather than religion. 
Whatever answer we give to it, the essential proj^erties of 
man remain still the same. 

228 MAN. [Lect. X. 

i„>mortaiity yindi- The immortaliiy of the soul, apart from 
catea apart from the positlve teaching of Scripture, may be 
vindicated upon the following grounds : 

1. It is the natural and spontaneous sentiment of man- 
kind. It has never been denied except by philosophers, and 
that on speculative grounds. It is the universal sentiment 
of the race. 

2. It follows from the simplicity of the soul — the indi- 
visible unity of consciousness. 

3. It flows from the sense of responsibility, which is 
alwaysva prospective feeling. 

4. It flows from the nature of knowledge and from the 
nature of virtue. (The Socratic argument.) 

5. From the insufficiency of the speculative grounds on 
which the contrary hyj)othesis is maintained — That death 
will destroy us ; that our identity is lost when a portion of 
our being is gone. 

6. The 071US probandi is on the other side. 

II. Having considered the essential properties of man, we 
come now to inquire into the condition in 

Was man created an t_*i.t_ r j.ii i ^i,-/^ 

infant or in maturity? ^^ich hc camc from the hauds of his Cre- 
ator. Was he introduced into the w^orld in 
the maturity of his jDOwers, with habits of knowledge and 
virtue and language, or w^as he framed in an infantile state, 
simply with capacities of acquiring knowledge, virtue and 
language, but destitute of any actual possession of any of 
them ? 

This question becomes important in consequence of the 

efforts of Pelagians to escape from the doc- 

thewLT^"^" "^'^ trine of original sin, and the distinctions 

of the Papists in consequence of which 

some loop-hole is left for the doctrine of free-will. The 

theory is, that man was created in puris 

In puris naluralihus. i • i i • i 

naturahbus — that is, he Avas created in the 
possession of all those attributes and properties which dis- 
tinguish him as a species, and without which he could not 
be man, but destitute of all the habits and accomplishments 

Lect. X.] MAN. 229 

which perfect and adorn his nature. He had sense, reason 
and freedom of will, but these existed in the form of capa- 
cities, and not of developed energies. It is particularly 
maintained that he had no holy habits ; the Pelagians affirm- 
ing that all holiness had to be the acquirement of his own 
free-will, and that he was framed indifferent to rectitude or 
sin ; the Papists maintaining that holiness was superadded 
to him as a supernatural endowment. It belongs" not to the 
sphere of nature, but to the higher sphere of grace. In 
either case, original sin is reduced to very small proportions. 
Upon the Pelagian scheme it is totally denied ; we are all 
born as blank in relation to character as Adam was made. 
Upon the Popish hypothesis, it is rather a loss of something 
above nature than a corruption of nature itself. Holiness 
was a garment in which Adam was clothed after his creation, 
but was no part of the furniture that belonged to him as a 
creature. Original sin is the removal of the garment and 
tlie reduction of the race to its primitive nudity. The differ- 
ence, according to Bellarmin, betwixt Adam in Eden and 
his descendants is the difference betwixt a clothed man and 
a stripped man. Now, in opposition to this theory, reason 
and the Scriptures concur in teaching that the first man 
must have been created in comparative maturity, with his 
faculties expanded by knowledge, his will charged with rec- 
titude, and his whole nature in unison with his moral and 
personal relations. He was not an infant, but a man. His 
mind was not a blank, but a sheet well inscribed with Di- 
vine instructions. He was created in a state that harmonized 
at once with all his duties, and enabled him to fulfil his 
high vocation as the representative of God to the creatures 
and of the creatures to God. He was in actual possession 
of knowledge, righteousness and true holiness. 

1. The hypothesis that man was created an infant in mind 

Adam not created an ^anuot be Carried out without the most 

infant, either in mind yiolcnt and incredible suppositions. It 

or in body. , . p . , , 

postulates a series ot miracles, protracted 
through years of his existence, out of keeping with the whole 

230 MAN. [Lect. X. 

analogy of Divine Providence. Man's body was either fully 
developed, or that also was the body of an infant. If it 
were fully developed, then it had the strength and comjjact- 
ness of maturity and growth. Now an infant mind in a 
matured body can consist with the preservation of life only 
hy a constant miracle. The infant knows nothing of the 
properties of matter ; has not yet learned to judge of distance 
by the eye, or to determine the magnitude, hardness and 
solidity of bodies by the eye. It cannot calculate the di- 
rection of sounds by the ear, and it knows nothing of their 
significancy. It is a stranger to its own strength. It has 
no discernment of the qualities of food and poison. It would 
have to learn the use of its senses — to acquire by slow expe- 
rience all those cognitions which we now acquire in our early 
years, and which have become so habitual that we mistake 
them for immediate and original perceptions. In this con- 
dition of helj)less ignorance it Avould run against the hardest 
obstacles ; be liable to pitch down the steepest precipices ; 
mistake poison for food ; and expose itself without appre- 
hension to the greatest dangers. The life of such a being 
could not be preserved for a single day without a perjoetual 
miracle. Its matured body would be a curse to it. The in- 
congruity of such a constitution is sufficient to stamp it with 
incredibility. But if we suppose that the body of the first 
man was that of an infant, then we have to j)Ostulate a mi- 
raculous guardianship through the whole period of its being, 
from the first moment of creation until it has reached maturity 
of knowledge. God would have to be to it a nursing mother 
and a protecting father. It would have to be miraculously 
fed, miraculously nursed, miraculously guarded, until it ac- 
quired the habits and exj)erience necessary to enable it to 
take care of itself. In the present order of providence, in- 
fant minds are put in infant bodies ; and the body is not 
allowed to reach the power of self-motion until the mind has 
acquired the skill to direct it. We are prevented from 
walking until we have sense enough to walk with some 
safety. We are put under the guardianship of parents and 

Lect. X.] MAN. 231 

friendS; and their experience supplies our deficiencies until 
we have laid in a stock of our OM^n. The matured body 
always implies the matured mind. It is clear therefore, from 
the nature of the case and from the analogy of providence, 
that if Adam were created in maturity of body, he must also 
have been created in maturity of mind. But maturity of 
mind consists in habits of knowledge. It is knowledge 
which makes mind grow and expand. There is no difficulty 
in supposing that the first man was created with the know- 
ledge resident in him that we acquire by slow exjjcrience. 
When he first looked upon the world he had the use of 
senses, as we learn it, and he thus derived, at once, all those 
impressions which we deduce by long habits of association. 
To this extent he must have had knowledge, or he could 
hardly have lived an hour. 

2. Incredible as the supposition is of a pure nature with- 

A,]a,n not created ^^^^ ^^^^itS of kuOwlcdgC, it is UOt SO absUrd 

injiifiient to holiness as tlic suppositlou of a purc moral nature 
without habits of righteousness. There is. 
no middle betwixt sin and holiness. Every moral being 
must be either holy or sinful ; there is no such state as that 
of indifference. The will is, from the very nature of the 
case, under formal obligation to coincide with the moral law. 
There is no moment of time when this obligation does not 
hold. It must, therefore, in order that the man may not be 
guilty, incline to that law, so that, in all concrete cases, it 
shall choose the right. Hence, to say that man had simply 
the capacity to become holy or sinful, but that at his creation 
he was neither, is to say that there was a time, an interval 
of his being, when he was under no moral obligation, and 
therefore an interval of his existence when he had neither 
reason nor will ; that is, it is a plain self-contradiction. To 
be indifferent to rectitude is itself sin. Hence, it is clear that 
man must have had determinate moral habits of some sort, 
and could not be produced in purls naturalibus. An infant 
now has a determinate moral character. It may not actually 
have sinned in specific voluntary acts, but its will is im- 

232 MAN. [Lect. X. 

bued with the law of sin, and as soon as it wills it wills 

3. The Scripture testimonies upon this subject may be 
reduced to two heads, direct and indirect — 
of'scHpTure.'"*""'' ^hosc which explicitly state what the con- 
dition of man really was, and those which 
obviously imply it. Let us consider the indirect first : 
(1.) Man is represented as in possession of language. 
Now language without thought is impossi- 
inttTerJ^ctiof "' blc. It bccomcs ncccssary in the higher 
spheres of thought, so that all inference 
beyond particulars is conditioned upon its existence. Adam 
had language in its most difl&cult and complicated relations. 
His words were not merely proper names, or expressive of 
single, individual phenomena. They were generic terms, 
and implied the distribution of the objects of creation into 
corresponding classes. " And Adam gave names to all cat- 
tle, and to the fowl of the air and to every beast of the field." 
To suppose that he appropriated a name to each individual 
as its own distinctive title is simply preposterous. His 
vocabulary would have to be boundless and his memory 
equally marvellous. The plain meaning is, that he knew 
them and named them as genera and species. The notion 
of an infant conducting such a process is fit only for those 
who have not yet ceased to be infants themselves. 

(2.) In the next place. Eve was evidently framed in full 
maturity as a woman. She was recognized 

Eve created a ma- rAl ± Hj. l ±\ 

ture woman. "^7 Adam at ouce as a nt and worthy com- 

panion. Now the argument from this cir- 
cumstance is twofold : If Eve were created in such matu- 
rity as to be a suitable helj) for man, why not Adam have 
been created in corresponding perfection? But Eve was 
created on the same day with Adam. He must, therefore, 
have marvellously developed in a few hours if he could so 
soon acquire language, learn the distribution of animals and 
come to a sense of his own need of society. If Eve had 
been created in the infancy of either mind or body, and he 

Lect. X.] MAN. 233 

had been mature, she would have been a burden and not a 
companion. If he had been still in the ignorance and im- 
becility of infancy, he would not have known that he wanted 
an associate. Hence, on either supposition the narrative 
becomes contradictory and absurd. But admit the maturity 
of Adam as to mind and body, and the whole story becomes 
simple and consistent. No one, in fact, can read the account 
of the creation of the first pair without being struck with 
the impression that they are treated from the very first as 
beings who have the use of their reason, and who are fully 
at home in their new circumstances and relations. They 
understand the scene in which they are placed. They are 
not children, but adults — endowed not with capacities only, 
but with the knowledge that enlarges and exercises them. 
(3.) The command to the first pair, " to be fruitful and 
„, . , multiply, and replenish the earth and sub- 

They received a r J ? i 

commission involving duc it, and liavc domiuiou over the fish of 
the sea and over the fowl of the air, and 
over every living thing that moveth upon the earth," be- 
comes absolutely ludicrous if conceived as addressed to in- 
fants or children. It implies a complicated and extensive 
knowledge — a knowledge of the creatures and a knowledge 
of God, and a knowledge of themselves — as the indispensable 
condition of understanding, much more of fulfilling, the 
Divine mandate. All finite power is exerted through knoAV- 
ledge, and as the dominion of man was to be the dominion 
of intelligence and reason, it implied an apprehension of 
the nature and relations of the objects to which it extended. 
These three circumstances — that man is represented as in 
possession of language and the knowledge which language 
necessarily symbolizes ; that he felt his need of companion- 
ship on the very day of his creation and received a help 
suited to his wants ; and that he received a commission in- 
volving a very high degree of intelligence in order to con- 
vey any meaning to his mind — are grounds from which we 
may confidently conclude that man was not created in a 
state of pure nature ; that he was something more than a 


234 MAN. [Lect. X. 

realization of the logical essence of the sjoecies. He must 
have had the accidents which though logically separable 
can never be separated in every degree from his nature. 
(4.) The general tenor of the narrative contradicts, too, 
the notion that in his primitive condition 
he was a savage, rude and uncivilized, de- 
voted to sensual indulgences and ignorant 
of a higher end. The knowledge of the creatures which he 
possessed, enabling him to classify and distinguish them, 
far transcends in its extent and accuracy the rough and pal- 
pable discriminations of the savage. His relish of compan- 
ionship shows a development of social ties which is of the 
very essence of refined life. And his commission to multi- 
ply and replenish the earth, and to make nature the obedient 
minister of his will, implies a state of mind exactly the 
reverse of that which delights in war and destruction, and 
in which the only monuments of jDOwer that are prized are 
monuments of ruin. The command implies a spirit of love 
to the species and of regard to the other creatures of God 
totally incompatible with the fierce and vindictive passions 
that characterize savage life. Adam, in the picture of 
Moses, was no barbarian. He is the loving father of the 
posterity contained in his loins, the tender and aifcctionate 
husband, and the considerate master of this lower world. 
His mission is to bless and not to blast, to promote and 
not destroy the happiness of his subjects. Tliese are the 
impressions which the narrative makes apart from any 
express and positive declarations as to the state and 
condition of man. This is their general and pervading 

4. But evidently as these considerations refute the notion 
of an infantile or savage commencement 

These testimonies /> , i ,^ , /v> • x j_ 

not definite as to of the racc, thcy are not sufficient to give 
Adam's knowledge or ^^g precise aud definite information in rela- 

holiness. ^ 

tion to the condition of the first man. 
They show him to have been intelligent, refined and civil- 
ized, but they do not reveal to us the extent of his know- 

Lect. X.] MAN. 235 

ledge, nor the degree of perfection which as a moral being 
he enjoyed. 

(1.) Upon the first point the Scriptures are nowhere ex- 
upon the first point pli^'^*' Thcj Icavc US in the dark as to 
the Scriptures are uot tJic amouut of natural kuowledgc — that is, 
the amount of knowledge in relation to the 
objects and laws of the universe — which he possessed. It 
was substantially what every man who reaches maturity 
must acquire from experience. The naming of the whole 
animal creation would seem to intimate that it was much 
more. It is useless to speculate without data, and M'here we 
have only hints we should not push our conclusions beyond 
them. AYe should avoid the extreme of considering Adam 
as endowed with faculties which intuitively penetrated into 
the whole scheme of the universe, and laid the treasures of 
all human science at his feet, while we insist upon the ma- 
turity of reason which must have pertained to him. The 
Scholastics erred in attributing to him too much ; the Socin- 
ians and many modern divines have equally erred in attrib- 
uting to him too little. 

(2.) But in reference to his moral condition the Scriptures 
are very explicit. They have left no room 

but upon the second n i i , xx- • -i' < , 

very explicit. ^^r douot. His primitive state is repre- 

sented as a state of integrity, in which every 
part of his constitution was adapted to the end for which 
he was created. This is what is meant when it is said that 
he was made upright. As the end of his creation was moral, 
he must have possessed the knowledge and the dispositions 
which were necessary to the attainment of it. As the moral 
law bound him from the first pulsation of his life, that law 
must have been impressed upon his nature, and his first acts 
of consciousness must have been in conformity with its spirit. 
It must have been written upon his heart ; it must have 
formed an original element of his being. That this was the 
case is articulately taught in all those passages which repre- 
sent him as bearing in his primitive condition " the image of 
God." The proper explication of this phrase will explain 

236 MAN. [Lect. X. 

the perfection of his moral state. A slight 
hastwo'sTnfrs° " examination will show that it is used in a 

looser or stricter sense. In a looser sense 
it indicates those spiritual proj^erties which belong to man 
as a person — the faculties of intelligence, conscience and 
will. But a close inspection will show that even in the 
passages in which the phrase is thus loosely taken there lies 
at the foundation a tacit reference to the other and stricter 
meaning. For example, in Gen. ix. 6 : " Whoso sheddeth 
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed ; for in the 
image of God made He man ;" the argument manifestly 
turns upon the moral nature of man, the rights which con- 
sequently accrue to him, and the perfection which he is pre- 
cluded from attaining by prcmatui'e death. So James ex- 
poses the wickedness of cursing our fellow-men because they 
are made after the similitude of God — that is, moral perfec- 
tion is their destiny, that to which they should aspire, and 
of which they are capable. The reason that the phrase is 
transferred to our spiritual and personal nature apart from 
any direct implication of positive holiness, is that this nature 
is the indispensable condition of holiness ; it is the subject 
in which that must inhere. Hence it has been called the 
natural or fundamental image of God ; it is the condition 
on which alone man can realize that image. But the strict 
The strict and prop- ^ud propcr acccptatiou of the phrase is 
er sense is holiness, holiucss — holiucss of uaturc, or habitual 

manifested in know- it t • • i i f 

ledge and rigiiteous- holincss, as contradistiuguished irom spe- 
''®^^' cific exercises or acts. The decisive pas- 

sages are Eph. iv. 23, 24 ; Col, iii. 10. From these pas- 
sages we learn that the image of God consists generally in 
true holiness, and that this holiness, as the universal spirit 
or temper of the man, manifests itself in knowledge and 
righteousness. It is that state of mind which })roduces 
these results. To define it more accurately we must ascer- 
tain the meaning of the terms knowledge and righteousness, 
as liere used by the apostle. Here we are at no loss. It is 
the knowledge of God which results in faith, love and true 

Lect. X.] MAN. 237 

religion. It is, in other words, a spiritual perception of His 

beauty, excellence and glory. Adam, as en- 

i .^? /n 1 "^ dowed with this knowledge, looked abroad 

knowledge of Uou, o ? 

upon the creation and saw what science 
with all its discoveries so often fails to discern — the traces 
of the Divine glory. He saw God in all above, beneath, 
around. Nature was a vast mirror, reflecting the Divine 
beauty, and as he saw he loved and adored. God to him was 
everywhere present ; the whole universe was full of his name. 
It was written upon the starry vault, the extended plain, the 
lofty mountain, the boundless sea ; upon every living thing, 
from the reptile that creeps upon the ground or the tiny in- 
sect that flutters in the breeze, to the huge leviathan or his 
own noble frame and nobler soul. The first light of day that 
beamed upon his eyes was accompanied with a richer light that 
radiated from his soul, and clothed all nature in the garb of 
Divine beauty and loveliness. He knew God with a spiritual 
discernment as a being to be loved, feared, trusted, worsliipped. 
This was holiness as it irradiates the understanding:. This 
knowledge of God in the creature is the perfection of know- 
ledge. Science, until it reaches this point, does but fumble. 
It misses the very life of true knowledge ; it is only a learned 
and pompous ignorance. 

But this habit of spiritual discernment was accompanied 

with righteousness or rectitude of disposition 

and also this rectitude. . ^ i . ^ . 

— that IS, a state of soul m conformity with 
the requisitions of the Divine law — a propensity to universal 
obedience. The law was the bent of his being. As soon as 
the concrete occasions should present themselves, he had that 
within him which would at once reveal and incline to the 
right. The intuitive perception and the prompt disposition 
manifested his holiness, and induced all forms of actual right- 
eousness which his circumstances and relations demanded. 

This, then, was the primitive condition of^ 

The primitive con- » t tt i • j^i • p r^ -i 

dition of the first man. Adam. He was made in the niiage of God 

— as being an upright creature, with reason 

enlightened in the spiritual knowledge of God as that know- 

238 MAN. [Lect. X. 

ledge was mediated through the creatures, with a will prone 
to obey the dictates of reason thus enlightened and therefore 
in accordance with the spirit of the Divine law. He knew 
his relations to God, his relations to his wife, his relations to 
his children and his relations to the world ; and knew them 
with that spiritual apprehension which converted his know- 
ledge into one continued act of religion. 

That true holiness is the strict and proper sense of the 
image of God, appears from the contrast 
sonai^anrspii-itulfnT bctwlxt thc iuiagc of God aud that of the 
tnre, but not the image Pevil. If the posscssiou of a pcrsoual, 
spiritual nature were the image of God, the 
Devil and his angels would bear it. But their image is, in 
the Scriptures, made directly contradictory to the image of 
God. Hence, that image must consist in those moral per- 
fections which Satan has lost, and which man, since the fall, 
acquires only by a new creation. 

The holiness which man possessed at his creation was 

In what sense the natural— uot in the logical sense that it per- 

hoiiness of Adam was taiucd to liis csseuce as man, or was a prop- 

natural. . i i r- • i • i 

erty inseparable irom it, but m the sense 
that it coexisted as a habit with that nature. Man was not 
first created and then holiness infused, but holiness was con- 
created with him. He was holy as soon as he began to be. 
Hence it is not scriptural, with the Papists, to make it a 
supernatural gift, something superadded to nature by grace. 
It was no more of grace than creation itself was of grace. It 
was the inheritance of his nature — the birth-right of his being. 
It was the state in which all his faculties received their form. 
5. We have now considered the distinguishing character- 
istics of man, and the condition in which he was when he 
came from the hands of his Creator. "VVe have seen that he 
was neither an infant nor a savage, but a man — in the full 
maturity of his powers, endowed with knowledge, righteous- 
ness and holiness, and prepared to enter at once upon the 
career assigned him as a moral and responsible creature. As 
long as he retained his integrity, he enjoyed the blessedness 

Lect. X.] MAN. 239 

which springs from the harmony of a soul proportioned and 

balanced in all its powers, and from the consciousness of the 

favour of God and the exercise of communion with Him. 

. J , , ,. , But it remains to be added, in order to com- 

Aclam 8 holiness nat- ' 

uiai, but not in<\ofect- pletc tlic picturc of mau's primitive estate, 
that his holiness, though natural, was not 
indefectible. He was liable to fall. That man, as a creature, 
was necessarily mutable, in the sense that he was capable of 
indefinite improvement — of passing from one degree of ex- 
pansion to another — is easily understood ; but that a holy 
being should be capable of a change from the good to the 
bad — that he should be able to reverse the uprightness of his 
make, to disorder his whole inward constitution, to derange 
its proportions and the regulative principles of its actions — is 
one of the most difficult propositions that we encounter in 
the sphere of theology. Hoav could sin enter where all was 
right ? If the understanding rejoiced in truth, the will in 
rectitude, and the affections in the truly beautiful and good, 
how could error, impurity and deformity find a lodgment 
within the soul ? What was to suggest the thought of any- 
thing so monstrous and unnatural ? It is clear that there 
must have been some defect in the moral state of man at his 
creation, in consequence of which he was liable to fill — some 
defect in consequence of which he might be deceived, taking 
falsehood for truth, and confounding the colours of good and 
evil. When we speak of a defect, we do 

What was the defect ? , 

not intend to convey the notion that any- 
thing Avas wanting to quali^^ man for his destiny ; but that 
whatever the difference is betwixt a state of confirmed holi- 
ness and a state of untried holiness, that difference was the 
secret of the possibility of sin ; and the absence of what is 
implied in confirmation is a defect. It was something which 
man had to supply by the exercise of his own will in a course 
of uniform obedience to God. It is certain that no creatures, 
either angels or men, have been created in immutable integ- 
rity. Sin has entered into both worlds, and it is equally 
clear that there is a great difference betwixt beings in whom 

240 MAN. [Lect. X. 

holiness has become, as it is with God, a necessity of nature, 
and beings who are yet caj^able of being blinded with error 
and seduced into transgression. But are we able to say pre- 
cisely what this difference is ? Are we able 

A problem to be, -j^xi ii Ijt i 

gjji^gjj to point out how the understanding can be 

deceived and the will perverted in the case 
of any being that possesses a sound moral and intellectual 
constitution ? This problem, which may be called the psy- 
chological possibility of sin, is confessedly one of great diffi- 
culty. The solutions which have been attempted are un- 
satisfactory ; either as denying some of the 

Unsatisfactory solu- x* l j^ j. i' j_i j^ i x* 

tions of it. essential lacts oi the case ; or postulating 

principles which are contradictory to con- 
sciousness; or reducing the first sin to an insignificance 
utterly incompatible with the Divine providence in relation 
to it. 

(1.) The Pelagian has no difficulty, because man at his 
creation had no character. His will was 
indifferent to good or evil ; he could choose 
the one as readily as the other. Upon this scheme there is 
really no problem to be solved. But the scheme itself con- 
tradicts one of the essential facts in the case. It contradicts 
the fact that man was made in the image of God ; that holi- 
ness was a constitutional endowment ; that the same grace 
Avhich made him a creature made him upright. 

(2.) The Papist — that is, one school of theology among the 
Papists — finds in the blindness of our im- 
pulses, which it calls concupiscence, a suffi- 
cient explanation of the difficulty. Our impulses in them- 
selves possess no moral character ; they have a natural tend- 
ency to excesses and irregularities ; the mere existence of 
these irregular desires is not sin, and therefore not inconsistent 
with integrity of make. And yet they may prove stronger 
than reason; they may bewitch the understanding by soph- 
istry, and cajole the will by false appearances of good, and 
thus seduce man into sin. Reason, indeed, is no security 
against them in a state of innocence without supernatural 

Lect. X.] MAN. 241 

grace. This theory labours under the fatal defect of denying 
that to be sin which the Scriptures affirm to be sin. Our 
impulses are not destitute of moral character when they be- 
come irregular or excessive. They are as much under law 
as any other part of our nature. The very terms irregular 
and excessive imply as much ; and a constitution, therefore, 
is not sound which generates passions and appetites incon- 
sistent with the supreme end of the individual. Paul makes 
concupiscence to be not only sin itself, but the fruitful mother 
of sin. Of course, if we give the mother, under whatever 
specious name, a residence in man's nature, we need not be 
surprised that she is soon surrounded with the children. To 
say that our impulses have no moral character is to contradict 
all human consciousness. Our desires, our appetites, our 
hopes, our fears, all have a determinate relation to the will, 
which brings them within the sphere of moral responsibility, 
and makes them the real exponent of a man's character. 
We measure our approbation of others more by these passive 
impressions than by the acts which are the immediate pro- 
ducts of will. 

(3.) A theory akin to this, but modifying its most offensive 
feature, is that of Bishop Butler, so ably 

Bishop Butler's theory. ,.. , ,, ,. 

and ingeniously and modestly presented in 
the Analogy of Religion. It proceeds from the same prin- 
ciple of the blindness of impulse ; that is, that all our simple 
emotions are excited, independently of the will, by the pres- 
ence, real or ideal, of their proper objects. There are quali- 
ties in things which cannot be contemplated Avithout awa- 
kening these feelings. The eye affects the heart. The ap- 
prehension of danger has a natural tendency to generate 
dread ; the prospect of good elicits hope ; the sight of misery 
produces pity ; and the contemplation of meanness and filth 
produces disgust. The emotion is awakened without the in- 
tervention of the will, without the deliberation of the under- 
standing or the verdict of reason. The mere apprehension 
of the object does the work. Now, Butler does not postulate 
that in a sound state of the mind any impulses tending to 

Vol. I.— 16 

242 MAN. [Lect. X. 

sin could exist ; lie does not lodge in us a concupiscence, in 
its natural promptings, contradictory to reason and to con- 
science, and here he avoids the Papal extravagance. In a 
sound state of the mind our j)assive impressions coincide 
with rectitude, but still they are not elicited by a conscious- 
ness of rectitude. ISTo act of intelligent thought precedes 
them, and as thus excited, without any previous estimate of 
the value of their objects, they are blind ; and here is a 
defect in our nature, which, though not sin itself, may open 
the door for sin. The security against this defect is the 
forming of a habit of never yielding to an impulse, or per- 
mitting it to influence the will without reflection. The 
danger of the impulse is that we may act without thought ; 
the security is a habit, formed by a course of vigilance, of 
never acting Avithout thought. But it may be asked. If the 
impulses coincide with rectitude, what danger is there for 
betraying us into sin? None, if man's determinations 
always centred only upon wdiat is essentially right. If 
nothing were ever presented to his choice but what was in- 
trinsically evil or intrinsically good, there is no danger of 
his passive impressions misleading him. But things indif- 
ferent, neither good nor evil in themselves, may be rendered 
subjects of positive command. They are suited in their own 
nature to excite our emotions. These emotions are not sinful 
in themselves, as their objects are not sinful in themselves. 
Under the influence of these emotions the will may be in- 
clined to the unlawful indulgence, the understanding may be 
tempted to plead for it, and thus sin and error be introduced 
from the impulses of man coming in collision with positive 
commands in relation to things inherently indifferent. This 
is a brief outline of the psychological explanation of that 
great master of thought, in a work which will live as long 
as sound philosophy has votaries. 

There are some circumstances in the biblical narrative of 
the temptation of our first parents that seem to coincide with 
this account. The prohibition which constituted the test of 
man's obedience did not relate to a malum in se; the eating 

Lect. X.] MAN. 243 

or abstaining from a given fruit was in itself indifferent, and 
only brought into the moral sphere by the accidental cir- 
cumstance of a positive command. That fruit had the same 
tendency to provoke appetite as any other fruit in the gar- 
den, and accordingly Eve is represented as arrested by its 
promising appearance as food and its fitness to make one 
wise. " And when the woman saw that the tree was good 
for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to 
be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, 
and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and 
he did eat." 

But plausible as this hypothesis is, it is exposed to objec- 
tions which are not easily resolved. 

In the first place, it accounts only for the sin of Eve. It 
might be said that Adam was seduced bv 

Two objections to it. , , , *' 

the passive impression of love to his wife, 
had not the apostle told us that the man was not deceived. 
It is remarkable that when the guilty pair were summoned 
before their Judge, the woman puts in the plea that she had 
been beguiled, she had been cheated and taken in, but the 
man ventures on no such allegation. He simply says : 
" The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me 
of the tree and I did eat." 

Again, this theory diminishes the malignity of the first 
sin. It becomes an act of inadvertence or inattention. It 
was an error incident to a suspension of vigilance, and spring- 
ing from principles which constituted a part of human nature. 
To suppose that man was merely taken in, and did not mean 
to transgress the law of God, that he sinned ignorantly and 
by involuntary mistake, is to make a representation which 
every moral understanding will instantly pronounce to fall 
far short of the intense rebellion which the Scriptures uni- 
formly ascribe to the first sin of the first man. It was a 
fiilling away from God; a deliberate renunciation of the 
claims of the Creator ; a revolt from God to the creature, 
which involved a complete inversion of the moral destiny 
of man. We cannot avoid the feeling that if Butler's ex- 

244 MAN. [Lect. X, 

planation is the whole of the matter, our first parents were 
deserving of pity rather than severe reprobation — their 
offence was weakness and not deliberate guilt. 

The common explanation in all the orthodox creeds is, 
that the true ground of the solution is to 

Orthodox aolution. i • i ^ i mi -nr 

be sought m the nature oi the will. Man 
is represented as having fallen because he was left to the 
freedom of his own will. His transgression was voluntary, 
and as voluntary had to be deliberate. His sin was done 
on principle. It was not an accident, but a serious, solemn 
and deliberate rejection of the Most High as his God and 
portion. But this, it will be seen, is not a solution of the 
problem, but the statement in another form of the fact to be 
explained. The only approach which it makes to a genuine 
solution is in indicating the sphere in which the solution 
must be sought — the sphere of the will. There must be 
something in freedom before it has become necessity of 
nature out of which the possibility of sin can arise. We 
must, therefore, turn our attention to this point, and ascer- 
tain, if we can, what is the difference between freedom 
as necessity and freedom as the beginning of a moral 

Freedom as necessity of nature is the highest perfection 

of a creature. It is the end and aim of 
sif "^ornatiire "'^'^^^ ^^^ moral culturc. When a being has the 

principles of rectitude so thoroughly in- 
wrought into the whole texture of the soul, when it is so 
thoroughly pervaded by their presence and power, as that 
they constitute the life of all thought and of all determina- 
tion, holiness stands in the most inseparable relation to it in 
which it can be conceived to stand to a creature. This is to 
be pre-eminently like God, who is perfect truth and perfect 
righteousness. This entire subjection to the law of God, in 
which it becomes so completely identified with ourselves 
that we cannot think or act in contradiction to it, is the 
ideal of freedom which the Scriptures propose to us as our 
inheritance in Christ. This is eternal life. Now, at the 

Lect. X.] MAN. 245 

commencement of a moral career, our upright constitution 
has not been completely identified with our 

Freedom not yet de- Tj. i -j. i j. ' 'j. i. 

liberateiy chosen. personality, bccausc It has not, m its ten- 

dencies and disj)Ositions, been taken up by 
our wills and deliberately chosen and adopted. It is the 
determination of the will which fixes our natural disposi- 
tions as principles. When they are reviewed by the under- 
standing and deliberately chosen by the will, they then be- 
come ours in a nearer and closer sense ; they are reflectively 
approved, reflectively endorsed, and through that energy by 
which acts generate a habit they become fixed elements of 
our life. If such an exercise of reflection and such an act 
of will must supervene in order to impregnate our person- 
ality with holiness and to convert native dispositions into 
settled principles, it is evident that there must be in the 
primitive condition of a moral being occasions in which it 
stands face to face with its own nature and destiny, and on 
which it must determine whether the bent of that nature 
shall be followed and its true normal development promoted, 
or whether it shall choose against nature another course and 
reverse its proper destiny. If the will has to decide the 
case, the issue must be made. Good and evil must stand 
in actual contrast, and there must be postulated under these 
circumstances a power — wilful, heady, perverse, yet a real 
power — to resist truth and duty. God gives man a constitu- 
tion that points to Himself as the supreme good. He places 
before him the nature and consequences of evil as the con- 
trast of the good. If man chooses the good, he fixes it in 
his very person ; it becomes so grounded in the will that 
the will can never swerve from it. If he chooses the evil, 
he also grounds that in the will ; it becomes a part of his 
very person ; he becomes a slave, and can never more, by 
any power in himself, will the good or attain to it. 

This I take to be the sense of the great body of the Re- 

Tiiis the doctrine of formed thcologiaus, and of all the Reformed 

Calvin, of our Confes- Confessious that havc expressly embraced 

sion and of Turrettin, , t • , Ti • i r^ -i • ^ 

the subject, it is what (Jalvin means by 

246 MAN. [Lect. X. 

" an indifferent and mutable will," wliicli he attributes to 
man in his state of infancy. It is what the Westminster 
Confession means when it affirms that man had originally 
" freedom and power to will and to do that which is good 
and well pleasing to God, but yet mutably, so that he might 
fall from it." Turrettin^ resolves the first sin into the 
" mutability and liberty of man." " The j^roximate and 
proper cause of sin, therefore," says he, " is to be sought 
only in the free-will of man, who suffered himself to be 
deceived by the devil, and at the instigation of Satan 
freely revolted from God." Howe has articulately discussed 
these views. 

This account of the matter is fundamentally different 

and fundamentally dif- f^'O^ ^^^ PclagiaU hypothcsls of the Uat- 

ferent from the Peia- ural indiffcrcuce of the will to the distinc- 
tions of right and wrong. On the other 
hand, it recognizes the law of God as the normal jjrinciple 
of the will ; it maintains, farther, that the spontaneous actions 
of man, all his impulses, desires and primitive volitions, 
were in conformity with that law. His spontaneity was all 
right. It was reflectively that the will renounced its law, 
changed its own tendencies, made out and out a new deter- 
mination. The reflective man, when the ground or root of 
action was to be himself, perverted the spontaneous man 
whose ground of action was in God. The will did not first 
make a character, but change a character ; did not first give 
man a moral disposition, but perverted the dispositions 
which God had given. By this theory we preserve the 
Scripture testimony concerning man's possession of the im- 
age of God, and harmonize the malignity which the sacred 
writers everywhere ascribe to the first sin of the first man. 
To unfold the psychological process which led to such a 
perversion of his nature is perhaps impossible ; we are not 
sufficiently acquainted with the mystery of the will. All 
that we can say is, that it possessed this power of arbitrary 
self-determination, in defiance of reason, conscience and 
^ Locus ix., Quest. 7. 

Lect. X.] MAN. 247 

nature, as an essential element of its being. We have the 
traces of the same power in arbitrary resistance to our own 
reason and conscience in many events of our present fallen 
condition. We have lost all holiness, but there are often 
cases in the ordinary sphere of our activity where our de- 
terminations seem to be obstinately wilful and capricious. 
They seem made only to assert our own intense egoism. 

But whatever explanation may be given of the possibility 
of sin, we know that it now exists, and that the seeds of it 
were not implanted in the nature of man as he came from 
the hands of God. It is no normal development of his facul- 
ties or life. He has introduced it, and therefore we are com- 
pelled to say that his primitive condition, though holy and 
happy, was mutable. He was not established in his integrity. 
His noble accomplishments were contingent. 

III. Having now considered the essential elements of 
humanity, and the condition in which the 

The end of ruau's /> , i i •< • i • • 

gj.^a^tio„ nrst man was created, it remams to inquire 

w^hat was the immediate end of his creation, 
and what the relation in which, as a moral creature, he stood 
to God. His chief end was evidently to give glory to God. 
He was to learn more and more of God from the Divine 
works, and the administration of that great scheme of pro- 
vidence which was beginning to unfold itself before him. 
He was to render to the Almighty in his own name, and in 
the name of all the creatures over whom he had been consti- 
tuted the head, the tribute of adoration and gratitude which 
the Divine goodness demanded. He was the high priest of 
nature ; and every mute tiling, every dumb beast, every 
lifeless plant, the majestic heavens, the verdant earth, the 
rolling sea, mountains, cataracts and plains — every province 
of being in which he saw the traces of the Divine hand — 
were to find their tongue in him and through him to pour 
into the ears of the Most High their ceaseless song of praise. 
They spoke to him, and he was to repeat their language to 
the Great Supreme. He stood as the head of an immense 
family of worshippers. Creation was a vast temple. Every 

248 MAN. [Lect. X. 

living and lifeless thing brought its offerings to the altar, 
and man was to present the grateful oblation to the Maker 
and Preserver of them all. It was a noble, a sublime posi- 
tion. To know was to love, and to love was to enjoy. 
The relation in which he stood to God may be more ac- 
Man's relation to curately defined as that of a servant, and 
God was that of a the law of liis life as obedieucc. Obedience, 

servant. , „ ^ n • • i i 

as expressive oi perfect coniormity with the 
will of God, comprehends the whole scope of his existence. 
This obedience involved the preservation of the image of 
God ; the culture of his moral faculties by reflection, con- 
templation and the reflective adoption, as principles of his 
will, of his natural holiness ; and a prompt performance of 
whatever duties pertained to his circumstances or were es- 
pecially enjoined by God. The will of a servant must co- 
incide with the will of his master ; in this his faithfulness 
consists. Man's will was to make the will of God its su- 
preme and only law. But it pertains to the condition of a 
servant that his continuance in favour depends on the con- 
tinuance of his obedience, and that his expectations from 
his master are measured by his faithfulness. This, then, 
was man's estate. He was a creature ; a servant under the 
moral law as the rule and guide of his obedience ; bound to 
glorify God in perfect conformity with its requisitions, and 
authorized to expect the continuance of his present happiness 
in the sense of God's approbation as long as he persevered 
in the way of faithfulness. He had no evil to apprehend, 
either to his body or his mind, from within or from with- 
out. As long as he was faithful to his Master, he had a 
right to expect that his Master would protect him and bless 
him. There could be no death while there was no sin. But 
the servant must obey from himself. As a servant, man 
could never look to any interposition of God that should 
destroy the contingency of his holiness. His probation, in 
that aspect, must be commensurate with his immortality. 
There could never come a period in which lie could have 
any claim upon God to render liis integrity indefectible, or 

Lect. X.] MAN. 249 

to draw him into any closer relations with himself. What- 
ever arrangements might be made with a reference to these 
ends must spring from the pure benevolence of the Creator ; 
they must be the offspring of grace and not of debt. Man 
must always stand or fall by his own obedience in the exer- 
cise of his own free-will. Through the law of habit a con- 
stant course of obedience would constantly diminish the 
dangers of transgression, but the possibility would always 
remain ; and whatever security man might compass through 
the energy of will in fixing the type of character, he must 
always stand in that relation to God which measures his ex- 
pectations by his service. 

That the destiny of man, considered simply as a creature, 
was obedience in the relation of a servant is evident from 
the very nature of moral government as revealed in the 
structure of our own consciences. 


[This is one of the most difficult questions in the whole compass of 
Metai^hysical Philosophy or Christian Theology. Its inherent difficulties 
have been aggravated by the ambiguities of language. All the terms 
which are introduced into the discussion have been so abusively employed 
that it is hard to fix clearly and precisely the points at issue, or to deter- 
mine the exact ground which we or others actually maintain. We im- 
pose upon ourselves, as well as upon others, by the looseness of our term- 
inology. Liberty, necessity, contingency, possibility, are all used in various 
senses, are applied in different relations, and without the utmost caution 
we are likely to embarrass ourselves by a latent confusion of these differ- 
ent significations. 

Necessity is used metaphysically to express that the opposite of which 
involves a contradiction ; naturally, to express the connection betwixt an 
effect and a cause, an antecedent and a consequent ; and morally, in the 
twofold sense of obligation or duty, and the connection betwixt motive 
and volition. Liberty is used in relation to the absence of liindrance and 
restraint in the execution of our plans and purposes, and refers exclusively 
to the power of acting ; or, to denote mere spontaneity — the mere activities 
and energies of our inner being according to their essential constitution ; 
or, to the exclusion of a cause apart from itself in determining the decisions 
of the will. Contingency is used in the sense of the undesigned or acci- 
dental ; and, in the sense that another reality was at the same time produ- 
cible by the same cause. The possible, again, is the metaphysical non- 
existence of contradiction, or the contingent in the sense last explained. 

250 MAN. [Lect. X. 

These instances of ambiguity of language are sufficient to illustrate the 
nature of the difficulties upon this point. 

The will is indispensable to moral agency. A being without a will 
cannot be the subject of rewards and punishments. Where there is no 
will there is no responsibility. In investigating, therefore, the freedom 
of the will, the conditions which a just exposition must fulfil are these: 

1. Freedom as a confirmed state of holiness — an inward necessity of 
holiness, in which the perfection of every moral being consists, must be 
grounded .and ex^jlained. Any account of the will which leaves the per- 
manent states of heart of holy beings without moral significance ; which 
deprives character and rooted habits of moral value ; which attaches 
importance only to individual acts, and acts considered apart from their 
expression of inward and controlling principles, is radically defective. 

2. Any account of the will which does not ground our sense of guilt, 
our convictions of ill-desert, and which does not show that these convic- 
tions are no lie, but the truth, is also defective. I must show that my sin 
is mine — that it finds its root and principle in me. 

3. Hence, a just account of the will must show that God is not the 
author of sin. To say that He is its author is to destroy its character — 
it ceases to be sin altogether. 

4. A just account of the will must also solve the problem of the inabil- 
ity, and yet of the responsibility, of the sinner — that he cannot, and yet he 
ought, and justly dies for not doing what he confessedly cannot do. 

The fulfilling of these conditions is indispensable to a broad-sided, ade- 
quate exposition of the will. To leave out any of them is to take partial 
and one-sided views. 

1. Tried by this standard, the theory of Arminians and Pelagians is 
seen to be essentially defective. Two forms of the theory — indifierence 
and equilibrium. Miiller, ii., 17, 21. 

(1.) These theories contradict an established holiness, and deny any 
moral character to the decisions of the will — they are mere caprice. 

(2.) They do not account for character at all — they put morality in 
single acts. 

(3.) They deny the sinner's helplessness and even sinfulness — the sin- 
ner is as free as the saint, the devil as the angel. 

2. The theory of Edwards breaks down. 

(1.) It does not explain guilt; it does not rid God of being the author 
of sin. 

(2.) It does not explain the moral value attached to character. 

(3.) This theory explains self-expression, but not self-determination. 
Now, a just view must show how we first determine and then habitually 
express ourselves. In these determinations is found the moral significance 
of these expressions. Otherwise my nature would be no more than the 
nature of a plant. Will supposes conscience and intelligence — these 
minister to it ; the moral law — this is its standard. 

3. There are two states in which man is found — a servant and a son. 

Lect. X.] MAN. 251 

The peculiarity of the servant is that his holiness is not confirmed. It 
exists rather as impulse than habit, and the law speaks rather with author- 
ity — sense of duty. Now, the province of the will was to determine — 
that is, to root and ground these principles as a fixed nature. There was 
power to do so. When so determined, a holy necessity would have 
risen as the perfection of our being. 

There was also the possibility of determining otherwise — a power of 
pervei'ting our nature, of determining it in another direction. The power, 
therefore, of determining itself in one or the other direction is the free- 
dom of a servant preparing to become a son, and the whole of moral cul- 
ture lies in the transition. 

This theory explains all the phenomena, and has the additional advan- 
tage of setting in a clear light the grace of regeneration. 

In the moral sphere, and especially in relation to single acts, this free- 
dom is now seen in man. It is neither necessity nor a contempt of the 
principle of law.] 



IN order to appreciate aright the dispensation under which 
man was placed, soon after his creation, in the garden of 
Eden, it is necessary to have a clear conception — 

I. Of the essential principles of moral government; 

II. Of what is implied in the relation of a servant. 

I. Moral government is a government in which the moral •^ 
law is the rule of obedience. This is obvious 

The first essential of n .i ..i .i i-i-i* t^- ' i i 

a moral government. ^^^^^ ^hc Cpithct by whlch it IS distinguished. 

But the moral law is the rule of obedience 
under every dispensation of religion. It expresses those 
eternal distinctions of right and wrong upon which all 
spiritual excellence depends ; and which God cannot disre- 
gard without renouncing the perfections of His own nature. 
Every believer under the Gospel aims at conformity Avith 
that law, and feels that his character is defective and his sal- 
vation incomplete until it has pervaded his Avhole soul, and 
moulded every power and faculty in harmony witli its spirit. 
The characteristic principle of a moral government, there- 
fore, is the principle upon which rewards 

The second essential. ,. ., -, ,^. 

and punishments are distributed. I hat 
principle is distributive justice. When men are rewarded 
and punished in precise proportion to their merits and de- '' 
merits, then the government is strictly and properly moral. 
The notions of justice, and of merit and demerit, are 

]>rimitive cognitions of our moral nature, 
tiou indicated.*'''* "^ or of that practical understanding by which 

we discriminate betwixt a duty and a crime. 



Conscience, in one single, indivisible operation, gives us cog- 
nitions which can be logically separated and distinguished. 
There is first the perception of right, which 
reo cognitions |^ represented in terms of intellio-ence 

given by conscience ; 1 to 

and defined as an act of the understanding. 
There is next the sense of duty, the feeling of obligation, 
which seems to partake of the nature of the emotions and to 
be properly defined by tei^ms of sensibility. Then there is 
the conviction of merit or demerit, according as the rule has 
been observed or neglected, which seems to be the practical 
conclusion of a judge in applying the law to a concrete in- 
stance. It is the sentence which the mind passes upon itself 
according to the nature of its works ; and yet in its simplest 
manifestation in consciousness it is a feeling — a sense that 
such and such acts or dispositions deserve well, such other 
acts and dispositions deserve ill. It is that phenomenon of 
conscience which connects happiness with right and misery 
with wrong. It is the root of the whole conception of justice. 
Without this primitive conviction there could be no notion 
of punishment and no notion of reward. Pain and pleasure 
receive their moral significance exclusively from that senti- 
ment of good and ill desert which connects them ,with con- 
duct as judicial consequences. 

Though conscience is thus resolvable into three logical 
logically distinguish- coguitioiis wliich are casily distinguished in 
able, yet fundament- tcrius, tlicy are all fundamentally one and 

ally the same. - ^p,, . f • -i i 

the same. Ihe perception oi right, the 
sense of duty, and the conviction of good and ill desert are 
precisely the same cognition reflectively surveyed from dif- 
ferent points ; or, rather, they are different forms of express- 
ing one and the same original deliverance of conscience. 
There is not first an intellectual act, which, in the way of 
speculation, pronounces a thing to be right ; then an emo- 
tional sanction, which, in the way of feeling, instigates to 
obedience; and then a judicial sentence consequent uj^on the 
course actually pursued. There are not three separate and 
successive states of mind, which reciprocally condition and 


depend upon each other. Tliere is but a single act of con- 
sciousness, and in that single act these logical discriminations 
are held in perfect unity. To say that a thing is right is to 
say that it involves obligation and merit ; to say that it is a 
matter of obligation is to say that it is right. Obligation 
has no meaning apart from rectitude, and rectitude has no 
meaning apart from obligation and merit. The perception 
of right is not a speculative apprehension ; it is not the 
affirmation that something is. It is the apprehension which, 
in its very nature, implies the peculiar feeling which we call 
a sense of duty — it is the apprehension that something ought 
to be. The cognition of the right and the feeling of duty 
are the same ; the feeling of duty is the very form, the very 
essence of the cognition. Hence, rectitude is an intuition of 
our moral understanding, which can be explained by nothing 
simpler than itself. You might as well undertake to define 
red or blue to a man born blind, or loud or loiv to a man 
born deaf, as to represent right to a man whose conscience 
■ , PA had never given him the sense of duty or 

The sense of good & .' 

and ill desert a prim- the couviction of merit. It is a primitive 

itive notion. . , , r- i • i i • ■ 

notion, capable ot being resolved into no- 
thing else. The events of experience furnish the occasions 
upon which the notion is developed ; it manifests itself 
through the sense of duty, and through the praises or censures 
which we bestow upon our own conduct or upon the actions 
of others. When reflection analyzes the grounds of these 
judgments and elicits the principles which, in every instance, 
determine and regulate them, we then compass the funda- 
mental principles of morals in the form of abstract proposi- 
tions. We then have the rules which we can subsequently 
apply reflectively and by design. 

From this analysis it is clear that merit and right are in- 
separably united — that demerit and wrong 

Merit and right, •Till j. l rp, 

demerit and wrong, ai'c as ludissohibly connectccl. liie man 
bound indissoiuMy by ^^j^^ j^gg 'i^^ ^^ j^^ ^^ j^g rewarded, the 

a moral tie. o o ' 

man who does wrong ought to be pun- 
ished; this is the form in which the radical notion of justice 


first expresses itself in the human soul. Its language is, 
that happiness is due to virtue as a matter of right, and 
misery is due to sin as a matter of right. This connection 
by a moral tie defines the notions of reward and punish- 
_, . , ■ ■ , ment. Now, a government which distrib- 

TIus moral principle ' o 

constitutes a govern- ^tes plcasurc aud paiii cxclusivcly in the 

nient moral. „ i i • i i • 

way ol rewards and punishments, and in 
precise proportion to the good or ill desert of the agents, is a 
moral government. That was the government under which 
man from the moment of his creation necessarily came as a 
moral creature. In the image of God he had the law writ- 
ten uj^on his heart which constituted the rule and measure 
of his obedience ; and in the sense of duty he had the supreme 
authority of that law grounded as a first principle in the 
very structure of his conscience ; and in the conviction of 
good and ill desert he had engraved upon his soul that im- 
perishable notion of justice which, if not sufficient to pro- 
tect from the foul wrong of apostasy, would for ever justify 
God to his own conscience for the penal retributions which 
doomed him to misery and death. God interwove into the 
very elements of his being the essential articles of the dis- 
pensation under Avhich he was placed as a creature. He 
found himself, as soon as he began to be a subject to law, 
a servant to his master. This relation was stamped upon 
his conscience. 

When we proceed more narrowly to examine the import 
of the conviction of good and ill desert, 
hopeTSlV """' ^ve find that it resolves itself into the expec- 
tation of favour from the Supreme Ruler, 
or the apprehension of His displeasure. It expresses itself 
in the language of hope or fear. There is a still more re- 
markable phenomenon ; the sense of guilt or the sense of 
demerit is found to obliterate all the claims of past right- 
eousness. One sin brings the soul into 
bnt condemns the ^^^^^.j-ncss and tciTor. If mau had obeyed 

righteous for one sin. J 

for years and then in an evil hour had been 
tempted into an act of disloyalty, that one act would have 


changed his whole relations to the lawgiver and have effaced 

the entire merits of his past life. There is no compromise 

in merit. Obedience must be complete or 

Imperfect obedience >, ^ n'j_ i j^i j_-j. 

pyjj it loses all its value; the very moment it 

fails all is over. There is no such thing in 
a strictly moral government as a balancing of the good and 
bad, as weighing them in scales together, and dealing with 
the agent according to the preponderance. Obedience is 
merit, disobedience is demerit, and obedience ceases Avhen- 
ever disobedience begins. Perfect moral government keeps 
a creature under probation until it has sinned. Then its 
relations are changed. It becomes bound to misery by 
the eternal law of justice, and can never be received into 
favour until the claims of that law are cancelled. The rea- 
son is very obvious why a single transgression cancels a 
whole career of virtue. The law can ex- 

The creature's whole , ,■•• i, f i t t i 

immortality, one life. ^^t llOtlling DUt pcrtcct ObCcllCnCe, aucl aS 

the creature is one, its whole life is one, and 
a departure in any period of its life mars the perfection of 
its obedience, and makes it morally null. A line may be 
straight for a great distance, and yet if it has a single crook 
in it at any part of its course, it ceases to be a straight line. 
Perfect obedience is that alone which is obedience at all, and 
the very moment the perfection is lost everything entitled 
to reward is lost. All merit vanishes for ever. The reward 
which moral government postulates is the continuance of 
the Divine favour through the period of obedience — noth- 
ing more, nothing less. There must be no unhappiness, 
there must be no want, no pain while there is no transgres- 
sion. The very language of the law as written upon the 
heart is, Do and live, for while you do you shall live. The 
infliction of pain upon a perfectly holy being seems to con- 
tradict the deepest instincts of our moral nature, for such a 
being is necessarily contemplated as the fit subject of re- 
wards, and as having a claim for exemption from all that is 
evil. I have no hesitation in saying that it would be unjust 
that the righteous should die, and equally unjust that the 


wicked should live. It is no more consistent with God's 
character to exclude the upright from His favour than to 
receive the wicked into favour. He might just as easily 
bless the sinner as curse the saint. The law of distributive 
justice equally forbids both. 

There is another feature of pure moral government that 

deserves to be particularly noticed, and that is, that it may 

deal with men exclusively as individuals, 

Kepresentation not , ii • i • -r-< i 

a uecessary principle aucl not collectively as a spccics. Jiiach 
of pure moral govern. ^-^^^^^ may bc rcquircd to stand or fall for 

ment. _ •' '■ 

himself alone. There is no principle of 
justice which necessitates the complication of others in our 
guilt or obedience. On the other hand, there is no princi- 
ple of justice which precludes it. In our social constitution, 
and the unity of race which includes in one blood all the 
descendants of Adam, a foundation is laid for these arrange- 
ments of goodness which shall modify our individual inde- 
pendence and render possible the participation of others in 
our own personal merit or demerit. But this is not abso- 
lutely necessary. The principle of representation might 
have been ignored, and no one could comjjlain that any in- / 
justice had been done him. This principle, therefore, can- 
not be regarded as an essential element of moral government 
in itself considered. If Adam, in the light merely of a 
moral subject, had retained his integrity and had begotten 
children, their perpetuity in holiness might have been wholly 
independent of his. They would have run their own moral 
career ; their relations to their father and the rest of the 
species would only have been the occasions of complicated 
and interesting duties, in the discharge of which each was to 
give account solely for himself. Under these circumstances, 
none would have been benefited but by their own obedience, 
none injured except by their own transgression ; that is, none 
would have been directly rewarded or directly punished. 
Indirect aids in maintaining their uprightness all would 
have received from the good, and injury in the way of temp- 
tations to disobedience all would have received from the bad. 

Vol. I.— 17 


We have now briefly enumerated the essential elements 
of a proper moral governmeut. It is one 

Recapitulation. . i • i i 

in which the moral law is the rule of obe- 
dience, in which distributive justice is the principle of the 
disj)ensations of rewards and punishments. We have traced 
this principle to its root in human nature, have found it in 
the primitive sense of good and ill desert, have seen that it 
secures favour to the righteous only during the terra of his 
obedience, and that the very moment he transgresses it binds 
him over to the penal visitations of guilt; that it pronounces 
nothing to be obedience which is not perfect, and that as the 
life of the man is one, it must cover the whole of his im- 
mortality or fail entirely' and for ever. 

Under a purely -^-i- , , , 

moral government the -tieuce hc caii iicvcr Under mcrc moral 
creature never safe p;overninent bc excmpt from the possi- 

from falling. '^^ _ '^ ^ 

bility of falling. He can never be ren- 
dered absolutely and immutably safe. 

II. Having thus defined the nature of a pure moral gov- 
ernment, let us next consider a little more distinctly what 
is involved in the relation of a servant. 

It is contrasted in the Scriptures with the relation of a son, 
and when we have obtained a clear conception of the dis- 
tinguishing peculiarities of adoption into the fomily of God, 
we shall perceive in what respects the condition of a ser- 
„. , ,.„ , vant is huinl)ler and less glorious. Xow, 

First difference be- o J 

twixt a servant and a [n the CaSC of tllC SOU, the grOUud of llis 

expectation from God is not his own merit, 
but tlie measureless fullness of the Divine benevolence. God 
deals Avith him not upon the principle of simple justice, but 
according to the riches of the glory of His grace. The ques- 
tion is, not what he deserves, but what God's goodness shall 
prompt Him to communicate. 

From this peculiarity arises another : tlie access to God 

is less full and free in the case of a serv- 

Socond difference. i . i « mi • i 

ant than m that of a son. I here is not the 
same richness of communion. There is not the same near- 
ness, the same unreserved confidence. How this distance 


realized itself in the instance of an obedient subject, how 
God manifested His favour, and what was the real extent 
of man's privilege in his primitive condition in relation to 
his appearance before God — the precise peculiarities of his 
subjective state — we are unable to represent. But we know 
that there is this marked difference betwixt a servant and a 
son. The condition of the saints nnder the Law is com- 
pared to that of servants, and the reason assigned is that the 
way of access to God was not so fully and distinctly revealed 
as under the Gospel. 

There is a further difference between the two states in re- 
lation to the Law. To a servant it addresses 

A further tlifference. . , r, -,..■,.-, r, 

itself more distnictly m the way of com- 
mand. Its requisitions are recognized as duties ; to the son 
it is rather a life than a law, and its injunctions are privileges 
rather than obligations. AVhatever may have been the spon- 
taneous pleasure of the first man in obedience to the Law, his 
exercises were acts of conscious obedience and performed in 
the spirit of duty. Love gave him alacrity in all his acts ; 
but it was a love Avhich consecrated duty, and which only 
sweetened, without absorbing, the authority of law. The 
same difference, as exhibited between the saints of the old 
and new dispensations, is characterized respectively as the 
spirit of bondage and the spirit of adoption. There was, of 
course, nothing like slavish fear in the bosom of unfallen 
Adam, and there was no irksome attention to his duties as a 
grievous and revolting burden, but there was the operation 
of conscience which adapted him to moral government, and 
which kept constantly before his mind the ideas of merit and 
demerit, the eternal rule of justice as the measure of his 
hopes, and the hypothetical uncertainty which hung upon 
his destiny. He could not have had that rich and glorious 
freedom which belongs to the sons of God. 

That the account which has been given of the essential 

These views of moral priuciplos of moral government and of the 

government and the g^cral rclatiou of a scrvaut is not a flmciful 

relation ol servant, ~ 

scriptural. representation, but a just statement of the 


attitude in which God and Adam stood to each other at 
the commencement of man's existence, is easily collected 
from the whole tenor and from many explicit passages 
of Scripture. In the teachings of the Old and New Tes- 
taments in relation to the economy of grace in the different 
stages of its development, there is a constant allusion to those 
great facts of moral government which underlie the whole 
scheme. Whatever is presupposed as essential to Chris- 
tianity in the relations of man to God under the Law, be- 
longs to this subject ; and these presuppositions determine 
the Scripture doctrine of what moral government actually is 
and must be. Founded in immutable justice, its laws and 
sanctions can never be set aside. Now, in explaining man's 
condition as a sinner, and the truths which must be pre- 
supposed in any scheme of justification, the essential relations 
of man as a subject of law are clearly brought out. In the 
Epistle to the Romans, Paul begins by a distinct enunciation 
of the rule of distributive justice which we have seen is its 
regulative principle : " Who will render to every man ac- 
cording to his deeds ; to them who by jjatient continuance in 
well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, 
eternal life ; but unto them that are contentious and do not 
obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and 
wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that 
doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile ; for 
there is no respect of persons with God." ^ This passage is 
very conclusive — it endorses almost everything that we have 
endeavoured to set forth. First, the judgment of God is de- 
termined by the actual merit or demerit of men. They will 
be tried by their works. Those who have obeyed the law 
shall be entitled to the rewards of their virtue, and those 
who have transgressed must expect to receive the conse- 
quences of their guilt. In the next place, the judgment is 
personal and individual — it is to every man. There is a 
distinction made by grace betwixt the Jew and the Gentile 
— no such distinction is known to the law. Moral govern- 

1 Eom. ii. 6-11. 


ment knows only the obedient and the disobedient. It is a 
grave error to imagine that in this passage Paul's design was 
to set forth the possibility to man, in his present circum- 
stances, of justification by the Law. He means to imply no 
such thing. On the contrary, his purpose was to evince, 
from the principle here laid down, the futility of all such 
hopes. To do this he signalizes the conditions of a legal 
justification — perfect obedience, the ground on which the 
reward is dispensed, and distributive justice; and from these 
conditions proves the utter hopelessness of standing before 
God in our own righteousness. It is by means of this prin- 
ciple that he shuts up all under sin, and leaves no way of 
escape but in the free mercy of God through Jesus Christ. 
He points out to them what they must do if they would se- 
cure favour by their works, and as the requirements are be- 
yond their strength, it is evidently vain to place any reliance 
upon the Law. 

In EzekieP we have certain abstract propositions laid 
down, which, whatever may have been their immediate scope 
and significancy, as abstract propositions sustain all that we 
have said : " Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the 
children of thy people. The righteousness of the righteous 
shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression. As 
for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby 
in the day that he turneth from his wickedness ; neither 
shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in 
the day that he sinneth." Here the intrinsic merit of obe- 
dience and the intrinsic demerit of disobedience are broadly 
asserted. It is affirmed that the value of righteousness ceases 
with the first act of sin. In the day that the righteous man 
sins he forfeits the right to life. But there seems also to be 
maintained that the demerit of sin can be cancelled by sub- 
sequent obedience, and that the sinner by penitence may put 
himself again in the position of a righteous man. If this 
were the meaning, the second proposition would be contra- 
dictory to the first. The abstract proposition is, that a man 
^ Cli. xxxiii. 12, seq. 


cau never perish considered as righteous, and that upon the 
supposition of a sinner becoming really and truly righteous, 
he would not be a fit subject for punishment. Such a change, 
however, is impossible except under a system of grace, which 
expiates guilt and renews and sanctifies the heart, and im- 
putes to our obedience the merit which purchased the grace 
wherein we stand. The general notion of the whole passage 
is, that righteousness — true and real righteousness — is, in 
itself, acceptable to God ; but that true righteousness is in- 
consistent with the least sin. The soul that sinneth must 
surely die. Hence, the prophet is far. from saying that a 
sinner can repent by virtue of any provisions of the Law. 
He only says what would be his condition and his j)rospects, 
provided he could be found again in a state of righteousness ; 
and the very necessity of repentance is a testimony that God 
cannot communicate the sense of His love while the love of 
evil continues to reign in the heart. 

Moral government must be carefully distinguished from 

Moral government, moral discipline. Thc ouly discipline which 

how distinguished ^lic Law rccognizcs is the discij)line of growth. 

from moral discipline. , . . - . -, 

ihe servant may increase in knowledge and 
ability, and with every step of his progress the circle of his 
duties increases. But a process of education, by which habits 
of holiness are formed and propensities to evil eradicated, 
belongs to an economy under which sin can be pardoned, 
and imperfect and sincere eiforts to obey accepted as perfect 
obedience to the Law. Without provisions for expiation of 
guilt and the communication of God's grace, a state of moral 
discipline to a sinner is a palpable absurdity. The Law pun- 
„, . ,, T , ishes, but never seeks to reform the criminal. 

v\ hat the Law knows, ' 

and what it does not Jt puts him to dcath, but nevcr seeks to 

know. 17 • 1 

restore him to life. And punishment, apart 
from grace, has no natural tendency to ameliorate — it only 
hardens the heart. Conscience makes us desperate, but 
never penitent. The Law knows nothing, therefore, of re- 
pentance. Once a sinner, according to it, always and hope- 
lessly a sinner. The line that has one crook can never be 


made straight. The obedience that fails once fails in all. 
The relation, too, of holiness to the favour of God shows 
that no provision can be implied in the nature of the Law 
for restoration to good. 

Moral Discipline and Moral Government are distinguished : 
1. As to their principle; the principle of discipline is love — 
that of moral government is justice. 2. As to their end ; 
the end of moral discipline is the improvement of the sub- 
ject — the end of moral government is to maintain the 
authority of law. 3. In their penalties ; sins in moral dis- 
cipline are faults to be corrected — in moral government they 
are crimes to be punished. One is the administration of a 
father over his children — the other a dispensation of the 
magistrate to subjects. 4. Righteousness in the one is a 
qualification — in the other a right. The distinctions are so 
broad and j^alpable that nothing but confusion can result 
from treating them as essentially the same. Indeed, many 
of the most ingenious hypotheses .invented to explain the 
evil of the universe have plunged their authors into irre- 
Discipiine is of tricvablc perplexities by the capital mistake 

grace ; government is Qf confouudiug what SO obvioUsly bclouo; tO 
of nature. ° ,,..,. 

ditierent spheres. Moral discipline per- 
tains to the kingdom of grace — moral government is the 
essence of the kingdom of nature. 

[In recasting this lecture, attend to the following suggestions : 

I. Moral government distinguished — 1. By its rule. 2. By its principle, 
distributive justice. 3. Perpetual innocence, its requirement. 4. Repent- 
ance impossible. 5. Individual in its claims. 

II. The relation of a servant. Bring out the idea that the law is 
looked on more as an expression of will — its authority prominent. In the 
case of a son, the prominent notion is that of imitation — imitators of God 
as dear children.] 



HAVING considered the essential principles of moral 
government, and what is involved in the relation of a 
servant, we are prepared to understand and appreciate the 
peculiar features of the dispensation under which man was 
placed immediately after his creation. Though God in jus- 
tice might have left man to the operation of a pure moral 
government, conducted by the rule of distributive justice, 
and might have for ever retained him in the attitude of a ser- 
vant, yet the Divine goodness seems to have contemplated 
from the very beginning a nearer and tenderer relationship, 
and a destiny of inconceivably greater dignity and glory 
than mere justice would or could have awarded. It was 
always God's purpose to turn the servant 
into a son. What sonship implies it is 
impossible for us adequately to conceive. 
The Apostle John declares in reference to the sonship of the 
saints, " It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but when 
He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him 
as He is." The ground of a son's right to the blessings he 
enjoys is the love of the father, and the principle on which 
he possesses it is that of inheritance and not of debt. To 
be a subject in whom God may express the infinite goodness 
of His own nature, to be an heir of Him who is fullness 
of joy and at whose right hand there are pleasures for ever- 
more, is certainly to be exalted to the highest excellence of 
which a creature can be possessed. Then, a son has un- 
limited access to his father's presence. His communion 


The servant to be- 
come a son. 

Lect. xil] the covenant of works. 265 

with him is full and rich and free. The conception of 
such a purpose, so far transcending all the demands of jus- 
tice, is a conspicuous display of the grace and goodness which 
have characterized all the dispensations of God in relation 
to our race. It was a great thing to be a man, endowed 
with capacities of truth and knowledge and duty ; a great 
thing to have been made susceptible of all the refined and 
tender sensibilities which belong to our race — sensibilities 
which convert the contemplation of the scenes of nature into 
a feast, which drink beauty and joy and rapture from the 
grand and sublime spectacles which greet us in the starry 
canopy above us, the swelling mountains around us or the 
majestic sea before us — sensibilities which convert the ties 
of domestic life into charms, and make society in all its com- 
plicated relations the minister of good ; it was a great thing 
to have been created in the image of God, with a heart to 
love and adore His great name and exemplify the holiness 
of His character, to have been made immortal and capable 
of an everlasting sense of the Divine favour — to have been 
thus made a man, a holy man, an immortal man, with the 
prospect of endless good, surely this w^as grace ; it was grace 
upon grace ! Plato said that there were three things for 
which he blessed God: 1. That he had been made a man, 
and not a beast ; 2, that he had been born a Greek, and not 
a barbarian ; and 3, that he had been permitted to live in 
the age of Socrates. With how much more fervour should 
the first man have celebrated the Divine goodness as he 
walked forth upon the new creation in all its loveliness and 
beauty, and was regaled on every hand with the tokens of 
the Divine regard ! How must his heart have overflowed 
as he sounded the mysterious depths of his own being, and 
felt the grand and glorious capacities with which he was en- 
dowed ! His first utterance must have been praise, his first 
impulse to throw himself upon the ground and bless that 
God who made him what he was. It was amazing good- 
ness to have furnished him with all the blessings that 
crowned his lot, considered merely as a servant. But what 


shall we say of the goodness that could not stop here — that 
as it recognized in man the capacity of closer ties Avith itself, 
yearned to take him to its bosom and pour upon him a 
richer tide of glory and of joy than the cold relations of 
law and justice could demand? Surely, our God is love; 
creation shows it as well as the cross ! 

Grace in tUo first c< i /^ i • xi £ j_ 

covenant. ourcly, our (jrod IS gracc ; the nrst cove- 

nant proves it as truly as the second ! 
In order that the change from the condition of a servant 
to that of a son might take place, it was necessary that the 
man should prove himself faithful in the first relation. 
Adoption was to be a rcAvard of grace, but 

Adoption of grace, .-n-i ,i tTj^ x 

and yet a reward. s^ill it was to bc a rcward. It was not a 

favour to be conferred in defiance of the 
relations that naturally subsisted betwixt God and His 
creature. Man was not to be arbitrarily promoted. His 
dignity was to come as the fruit of his obedience. It was 
much more than he deserved, much more than he could de- 
serve. But in the plenitude of His own bounty, God pro- 
posed to add this boon of adoption over and above all that 
man was entitled to receive for his service if he should prove 
faithful to his trust. The purpose, therefore, to adopt the 
servant into the family and make him an heir, introduces an 
imiiortant modification of tlie oeneral prin- 

Probation limited as ■'^ ox 

to time, and thus jus- ciplcs of uioral government in the limita- 

tification introduced. . />,i -ip ^ j • 1j1' 

tion 01 the period ot probation, and tins 
limitation introduces a new feature in the Divine economy, 
even that of justification. Under the original relations of 
man to God, his probation was coextensive with his immor- 
tality, and perpetual innocence was his only righteousness, 
and was only a security of perpetual favour. No jxist obe- 
dience could exempt from the jiossibility of a future fall. 
Man's condition was necessarily precarious. To limit pro- 
bation is to make a temporary obedience cover the whole 
compass of immortality, to make it equivalent to what per- 
petual innocence would have been, and thus, from the nature 
of the case, render apostasy after the limitation had ex^^ired 


impossible. The veiy essence of justification is to produce 
as its eifect indefectibility of holiness. If God chooses to 
gather our whole being into a short probation, and to make 
the obedience of that period equivalent to an immortality 
spent as faithful servants, the supposition that after the 
period was passed we could sin involves the monstrous idea 
that there can be a perpetual right to God's favour on the 
part of those who are destitute of His love — that men can 
be at one and the same time the objects of the Divine com- 
placency and disgust. The essential notion of justification 
is, that obedience for a limited time shall place the subject 
beyond the possibility of guilt. If he is faithful during the 
stipulated period, he is safe for ever, he is confirmed immu- 
tably in life. That this must be the case results from another 
consideration. If God treats limited as perpetual obedience, 
he must make limited secure perpetual obedience. Other- 
wise His judgment will not be according to truth. Adop- 
tion is grounded in justification. The state of a son in 
which man is placed in such relations to God as to secure 
him from the possibility of defection is founded upon that 
limitation of obedience which gathers up the whole immor- 
tality in its probationary character into a brief compass, and 
then makes its real complexion depend upon the fidelity or 
infidelity displayed in the trial. Adoption, in other words, 
depends upon justification, and justification is unintelligible 
without the contraction of the period of trial. The very 
moment trial ceases the attitude of a servant ceases, a new 
relation must necessarily supervene ; and God has consti- 
tuted that new relation according to the riches of His grace. 
These modifications of moral government are the offspring 
of the Divine will. They do not flow from any necessary 
principles of His nature or His government. They are the 
Free acts of Gods ^cc acts of His bouuty. Heucc, the dis- 
bounty, and matters pcnsatiou of rcligiou wliich thcy superin- 

of pui-e revelation. . - „ . 

duce must be a matter of pure revelation. 
Adam could not have dreamed of it without special com- 
munication with God. He never was, unless for a very 


short time, under a mere system of natural religion. He 
M'as placed at the beginning of his career under an economy 
whicli looked far beyond the provisions of mere nature, and 
at the very outset of his career was made the subject of 
special Divine revelations. 

This is a very important and a very striking thought. 

Man's religion must ^au's rcligiou has always been conditioned 

always be a revealed \,y revclatiou. That is uot a peculiarity 

of the Christian system. It marks all 
God's dealings with the race. The reason is obvious : His 
goodness has always been greater than our deserts. Our 
moral nature is adjusted to a scheme of pure justice, and 
wdienever God's love prompts Him to outrun its demands, 
our expectations must be determined by special revelation 
of His purposes and plans. His free acts cannot be antici- 
pated by any measure of reason or conscience. If known 
at all, they have to be made known by Himself. To deny, 
therefore, that our religion must be revealed, is to say that 
God can never do more than our merits can exact ; it is to 
limit and contract His goodness. Let His love be infinite, 
and it is morally certain that He will entertain purposes 
which we could not conjecture, and which He must impart 
to us. The same love that transcends justice in the purj^ose 
will transcend nature in the knowledge. What prompts 
Him to do more than nature calls for, will prompt Him to 
teach more than nature can discover. Hence, the religion 
of Adam was really a revealed religion ; it was conditioned 
by a dispensation introducing important modifications into 
the general principles of moral government, the nature of 
which, as purposes of the Divine mind, could not be ascer- 
tained apart from His making of them known. 

This dispensation is known as the Covenant of Works. 

This covenant is a scheme for the justifica- 

The Covenant of,. llj.' r l • ill 

Works definid. ^^^^^ ^^^^'^ acloptiou ot uiau, aucl IS callccl a 

coi'cnuni because tlie promise was suspended 

upon a condition with which man was freely to comply. It 

was not a covenant in the sense that man was at liberty to 


decline its terms. He was under obligation to accept as a 
servant whatever God might choose to propose. He had no 
stipulations to make ; he was simply to receive what God 
enjoined. It is also implied in the use of the word covenant 
that the faith of God was pledged in case the condition were 
fulfilled. Nothing sets in a stronger light the kindness and 
condescension which have signalized all the dealings of the 
Most High with our race than that the very first dispensa- 
tion of religion under which man, still a servant, was placed 
— than that the very words by which it is described should 
seem to savour of a treaty u\ which parties met and stipulated. 
And some have pushed the words so far as really to repre- 
sent man as treating upon something of a footing of equality 
with God. All such inferences should be carefully avoided. 
The covenant was essentially a conditioned 

The two essential • l • l • xl • /■ i • 

tjjjy promise, winch man, ni the exercise oi his 

own free-will, might secure or forfeit. The 

essential things, therefore, in it are the condition and the 


Before proceeding, however, to consider these, it is well to 
notice another modification of moral govern- 

Limitationof prolia- ,i • -i .i i. •,,• />,i • -i n 

tiou as to the persons, ^cut bcsidcs thc limitation of the period of 
probation introduced into this economy ; 
and that is, the limitation as to the persons put on trial. 
We have seen that simple justice deals with men as individ- 
uals. Each man stands or falls accordinp- to his own inteo-- 

o o 

rity. But in the covenant of works one stood for all. 
Adam represented all that were to be descended from him 
by ordinary generation. They were tried in him. Had he 
stood, they would have been justified through his righteous- 
ness, and adopted into God's family as sons. As he sinned, 
they sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression, 
and thus became outcasts and aliens. The provision by 
which Adam was made a public person, and 

A provision of pure .. , -i •j.-T'Ii- 

goodness. ^^^t treated as a private individual, is as 

much a provision of pure goodness as any 

other provision of the whole scheme. If he had maintained 


his integrity, and avc had inherited life and glory through 
his obedienee, none would ever have dreamed that there was 
aught of hardship or cruelty in the scheme by which our 
happiness had been to us so cheaply secured. The difference 
of result makes no difference in the nature of the principle. 
But those who object do not bear in mind that the hnv which 
made Adam our head and representative is the law by virtue 
of which alone, so far as we know, the happiness of any man 
can be secured. Without the principle of representation it 
is possible that the whole race might have perished and 
perished for ever. Each man, as the species successively 
came into existence, would have been placed under the law 
of distributive justice. His safety, therefore, would have 
been for ever contingent. It is possible that if the first man, 
with all his advantages, abused his liberty and fell, each of 
his descendants might imitate his example and fall also. It 
is possible, therefore, that the whole race might have been 
involved in guilt and ruin. Some might have stood longer 
than others, but what is any measure of time to immortality? 
Who shall say that, in the boundless progress of their 
immortal being, one by one, all may not have sinned ? It 
is certainly possible and probable that this would have been 
the ease. It is certain that nniltitudes would have abused 
their freedom and perished. But to sin under such circum- 
stances is to sin hopelessly. There can be no redeemer if 
each man is to be treated exclusively as an individual. If 

we cannot sin in another, we cannot be re- 
No salvation witli- i i i .i ^r- .1 • • i /• 

out representation. dccmcd by auothcr. U tlic principle of 
representation is to be excluded from God's 
government, salvation to the guilty must also be excluded. 
Under this princi])le multitudes are in fact saved, when with- 
out it all might have been lost. Hence, it is clearly a pro- 
vision of grace — it was introduced for our good ; for our 
safety, our happiness, and not as a snare or a eui'se. God 
seems to have had an eye to it when He constituted our 
species a race connected by unity of blood, and not a collec- 
tion of individuals belonging to the same class, simply be- 

Lect. xii.] the covenant of works. 271 

cause they possess the same logical properties. He made 
Adam the root, because He designed to make 
s^Zt:tT- hnn the head; the father, because He de- 
signed to make him the representative of all 
mankind. The generic constitution evidently looks to the 
federal relation. We are one by birth, because we were des- 
tined to be one by covenant. In all the instances in which 
God has appointed that one should federally represent others, 
there has been some natural tie — especially the tie of blood 
— between the head and the members. There is no case in 
which the appointment has been arbitrary. It is always the 
parent who stands for his children ; the king who stands for 
his subjects. There is, therefore, a significancy in this pecu- 
liarity of our species. The angels have no blood connection, 
and, so far as we know, the principle of representation has no 
place in the Divine economy with reference to them. We 
are not competent to say that a logical unity of species, even 
where there is no tie of race, may not be an adequate foun- 
dation for federal headship ; we cannot say that the govern- 
ment of God over angels must necessarily have contemplated 
them exclusively as individuals, because they are not de- 
scended one from another, and have not the unity of a com- 
mon stock. We do not know sufficiently the essential 
grounds and conditions of the representative relation to pro- 
nounce dogmatically that it can never be instituted, where 
the same circumstances do not obtain whicli are found in 
the case of man. It may be that a common blood is indis- 
pensable — that there is something in this natural unity which 
so identifies the moral interests of the race as to render it 
extremely proper that the branches should be determined by 
the root, the destiny of the children by the fortunes of the 
father. This may be so, but we have no positive data for 
saying that it must be so. All we know is, that natural de- 
scent determines representation in reference to man — that 
our being one blood is the ground of our being treated as 
one man, in the person of our first father. He represented 
all who descend from him by the ordinary law of the propa- 


gation of the species. He was the whole of his posterity 
inchulcd in his loins, who would have been introduced into 
the world in the ordinary way had not sin entered. An 
extraordinary descendant, introduced into the world apart 
from that law, and forming no part of the race according to 
its original destination, would not be represented. He was 
not in the root ; he was not i)roperly in the loins of Adam ; 
he was not one who would have been born if the species had 
followed its normal development. Hence, representation is 
confined to the descendants who spring from Adam according 
to the established law of propagation ; and these sustain to 
him the double relation of children to a parent, and of mem- 
bers to a covenant head. He stood for them in the first dis- 
pensation of religion. They were tried in his person. The 
whole species was considered as contained in him. He was 
not only a man, but Man, and the state in which they find 
themselves must be traced directly to his disastrous agency. 
The natural tie is the ground of the federal tie ; we were 
represented by our father because we were really and truly 
in the loins of our father. This modification of the principles 
of moral government, by which all were included in one and 
probation limited to a single individual, is no less remark- 
able than that which concentres an immortality of trial Into 
the space of a brief period. The ruling 

Representation of j j^-^j^ induCcd thc modification WaS 


grace ; and however the principle has been 
perverted by man, and made the instrument of Involving 
the race In ruin, it has been revealed in Its real significancy 
by God, who has made it the Instrument of peopling heaven 
with innumerable myriads of souls who might have been 
hopelessly lost had not His government over us admitted 
the possibility of laying help upon One who was mighty and 
able to save. In redemption, God illustrated It according 
to its true scope and in its genuine spirit. It was engrafted 
upon the economy of man's religion, that men might speedily 
achieve a destiny of incalculable glory, or, failing in the trial, 
might yet be rescued from complete and universal perdition. 

Lect. xil] the covenant of works. 273 

It must not be forgotten that although blood, or anity of 
race, is the ground of federal representation, yet federal rep- 
resentation is the ground of either benefit or injury from the 
success or failure of our head. Had Adam stood, we should 
all have been justified and confirmed in glory by the impu- 
tation of his obedience; that imputation 

Imputation proceeds ill 11* Tj_i 

from the federal tie, ^ould havc procccdcd immediately upon 
the federal and not upon the natural unity. 
Had not Adam been appointed to represent us, the mere cir- 
cumstance that he was our first parent would not have in- 
volved us in the legal consequences of his sin, nor would it 
have entitled us to the legal rewards of his righteousness. 
His fall is ours, because in the covenant we were included 
in him. Without this federal relation we should have been 
born in the same relations to God in which he was created. 
His character would have affected us only in the way of ex- 
ample, education and influence ; but not in the way of im- 
putation. It is not by the law of propagation, or the prin- 
ciple that like begets like, that we are born sinners. Sin 
does not belong to the essence of man — it is a separable acci- 
dent ; and as propagation determines the species and not its 
accidents, it could never shape our character. Our blood 
relation to Adam would only settle the fact that we must be 
men, and not beasts or plants ; it would not determine 
whether we should be holy or sinful men. That would de- 
pend upon the state in which it was fit that God should in- 
troduce us into a state of personal probation. That would 
be determined by the same law which determined the cha- 
racter of Adam when he came from the hands of his Maker 
— a law which renders it absolutely necessary that we should 
be endowed with all the habits and dispositions that qualify 
us for the destiny we are appointed to work out. The 
natural tie determines only who are represented ; the federal 
tie actually causes them to be represented. We sinned in 
Adam, and fell with him in his first transgression, because 
the covenant was made with him for us, and not because 
we have sprung from his loins. Still, our being sprung 
Vol. I.— 18 


from his loins is the ground of our being represented by 

If natural descent regulated the transmission of character, 
then no reason can be given why the chil- 

and not from the nat- ^ i?'a.lll j.!,!^ ii 

^j.^1 dren oi samts should not be born holy. 

They are themselves new creatures, and why 
are not their descendants born after this type? To say that 
they generate as men, and not as saints, is to give up the 
question, for to generate simply as man is to generate with- 
out character. To say that they must generate according to 
their first type as sinners is to give up the question in an- 
other form, for the first type of Adam was holiness. Sin 
was a superinduced state, and if he had to generate accord- 
ing to his first type, all would have been born holy. 

These two modifications of moral government — the limit- 
ation of probation as to time, and the limitation of proba- 
tion as to jjersons, have introduced two 

Two all-pervading • • i i • i i t 

principles. pmiciples wliich pcrvadc every dispensa- 

tion of religion to our race — the princijile 
of justification and the principle of imputation. They are 
the very key-notes both of the legal and evangelical cove- 
nants. Strike them away from the economy of God toward 
man, and the whole Bible would be stripped of all its signi- 
ficancy. They are principles grounded in grace, sjiringing 
from the free and spontaneous goodness of God — purposes of 
kindness of which nature and reason gave no prophecy nor 
hint, and therefore necessitating that the religion pervaded 
and conditioned by them must be supernaturally revealed. 
They imply a covenant, and in the very natui*e of the case 
a covenant is not an inference of reason. 

I. We have already seen that the dispensation of religion, 

commonly called the Covenant of Works, as founded in a 

goodness and contemplating a reward which nature could 

not have anticipated, necessarily implies the 

The condition of the • , ,• n -i ,• rn^ !•,• 

covenaut positive. intervention of revelation. The condition 

of the covenant brings out another pecu- 
liarity which is incidental to a revealed system, and which 


is equally removed from the suggestions of human reason. 
I allude to the distinction betwixt moral and positive duties. 
The prohibition which God gave to the first pair in the gar- 
den of Eden was not grounded in essential rectitude, but in 
sovereign command. In itself considered, the fruit of the 
forbidden tree was no more inconsistent with the image of 
God in man than the fruit of any other tree in the garden. 
It was a sin to eat of it, not because the thing was inhe- 
rently wrong, but because it was expressly forbidden. 

The distinction betwixt the two classes of duties has 

Butler on the differ- hardly becu rcsolvcd by Bishop Butler 

ence betwixt moral -^vith liis usual prccisiou. Hc malvos the 

aud i)ositive duties. -\'/>o t • i • 

diiierence to Jie in the cn-cumstance that 
in the one case we see, and in the other we do not see, the 
reason of the command. " Moral precepts," he remarks, 
" are precepts the reason of which we see ; positive pre- 
cepts are precepts the reasons of which we do not see. 
Moral duties arise out of the nature of the case itself prior 
to external command. Positive duties do not arise out of 
the nature of the case, but from external . command, nor 
would they be duties at all were it not for such command 
received from Him whose creatures and subjects we are." 
And yet Bishop Butler admits that the positive duty, in so 
far as it is imposed by an authority which we are morally 
bound to obey, is in that respect to be considered as moral. 
But that is simply saying that considered as a duty at all it 
is moral. We see the only reason which makes it obligatory 
upon us, and consequently, according to the distinction in 
question, it takes its place among the moral and not among 
the positive j)recepts — that is, the distinction annihilates 
itself. It admits in one breath that there are duties which 
as duties may be regarded as positive, and in the very next 
affirms that as duties they are not positive. 

The real difference is grounded in the relation of the 
thing commanded to the Divine nature. 

The real difference. i i • 

When the thing commanded springs from 
the holiness of God, or the essential rectitude of the Divine 


Being, the precept is moral ; when the tiling commanded 
springs from the free decisions of the Divine will, or the 
free determinations of Divine wisdom, the precept is posi- 
tive. The moral could not have been otherwise than com- 
manded; the positive might not have been commanded. 
The moral is eternal and necessary right ; the positive in- 
stituted and mutable law. The moral is written upon the 
conscience of every responsible being ; the positive is made 
known by express revelation. The moral is the image of 
God's holiness ; the positive is the offspring of the Divine 
will. One is essential ; the other made right. The imme- 
diate ground of obligation in respect to both is the same — 
the supreme authority of God. The positive, in so far as 
the form of duty is concerned, is moral ; in so far as the 
matter is concerned it is arbitrary. The moral obligation 
in respect to one is as perfect and complete as in respect to 
the other. We are as much bound to obey God enjoining 
the indifferent, and thus making it cease to be indifferent, 
as when He enjoins the eternal rules of rectitude. 

In case of a collision between the moral and positive. 
Bishop Butler gives the preference to the 

Butler on the prefer- i ii-i itijI 

ence of the moral. moral, ou a grouud wliich cau hardly stand 
examination, to wit : that we can perceive 
a "reason for the preference and none against it" — that is, 
because in the one case we see the reason of the command, 
and in the other we do not. But although we do not see 
the reason why the thing is commanded, we do see the rea- 
son why it is obligatory. We do not see why God has 
selected this rather than any other positive institution, but, 
being selected, we do see the reason why Ave are bound to 
respect it. The will of God is the highest formal ground 
of obligation, and when that will is known to us, nothing 
can be added to make the duty more perfect. The posi- 
tive, therefore, is as completely binding, creates as com- 
plete a moral obligation, as the moral, and hence no reason 
for preference can be found in the formal autliority of the 
precepts. The true reason is unquestionably the one which 

Lect. xil] the covenant of works. 277 

he next assigns, " that positive institutions are means to a 
moral end, and the end must be acknowledged more excel- 
lent than the means." This relation proceeds from the 
very nature of the case — the positive, as decrees of wisdom 
are subsidiary to the ends of holiness. They are the crea- 
tures of a will regulated necessarily by right, and subordi- 
nating every contingent determination to essential and eter- 
nal good. God's nature determines His will. What, there- 
fore, contradicts essential rectitude ceases to be the will 
of God. The command foils Avhenever the contradiction 
emerges. There is consequently no conflict of duties — the 
positive is ipso facto repealed. To assert otherwise is to 
assert that God can annihilate the moral; that He can 
make virtue to be vice and vice to be virtue, truth to be a 
crime and a lie to be duty ; that He can deny Himself. 
Under a dispensation which was to try the fidelity of man 
Peculiar fitness of ^f ^ scrvaut preparatory to his introduc- 
the positive as the tiou iuto a higher statc, there was a pecu- 
liar fitness in making the matter of the 
trial turn upon positive observances. This species of pre- 
cept brings the will of the master to bear distinctly, in its 
naked character as will, upon the will of the subject. The 
whole issue resolves itself into a question of authority. The 
case is simply. Which shall be the supreme, the will of man 
or the will of God ? The whole doctrine of sin and holi- 
ness in their last determinations is found precisely here. 
Sin is essentially selfishness, as we shall see hereafter ; holi- 
ness in a creature is the complete submergence of his will in 
the will of his Maker. " I have a right to be and do as I 
please," is the language of sin. " The will of God should 
alone be done," is the language of obedience. The very 
core of moral distinctions, the central principle upon which 
men are determined to be either sinful or holy, is brought 
out into trial under circumstances which make it certain 
that it shall be a trial purely without foreign and extra- 
neous influences, an unmixed trial of its supremacy in man, 
by making the question of his destiny turn immediately upon 


a positive command. The very depths of his moral nature 
were sounded and explored in that command. We can con- 
ceive of no mode of probation better suited to the end in 
view. We have seen already the relation in which the will 
must stand to our moral dispositions and habits in order to 
make them personal and reflective principles ; to translate 
the^n from the sphere of tendencies and instincts into that of 
intelligent, conscious, voluntary activity. The end to be at- 
tained is that the finite creature shall make God its supreme 
end ; the will of God its supreme law ; the glory of God its 
highest good. To attain this end the creature must renounce 
its own self as a law, and determine its will only by the will 
of God. The degree to which it renounces self-will and em- 
braces the Divine will determines the degree in which it is 
conformed, consciously and reflectively, to the moral law. 
If, therefore, the main question is that of the relation of the 
finite to the infinite will, it ought to be so stated as to rule 
out all secondary and collateral issues. God's will must 
come into contact with man's, nakedly and exclusively, as 
will. The command must seem to be arbitrary — no reason 
in the nature of the thing presented. The case will then 
test man's faith in God, and his readiness to follow Him 
with implicit confidence, simply and exclusively because He 
is God. There is, consequently, the profoundest wisdom in 
the Divine dispensation which made the trial of the first 
pair turn upon a positive command. It brought their wills 
face to face with the will of God ; it asked the question. Who 
should reign ? It made no side issues ; it put at once upon 
test the fundamental principle upon which alone their native 
purity could be made the ingredients — the fixed contents of 
their will. 

Hence, the tree in relation to which the prohibition was 

Why the tree of the givcu, aud which constitutes the expressed 

knowledge of good and couditiou of thc covcuaut, is Called The 

evil, so called. i' i i 77 r 7 t -i -xt i 

tree of the knowledge oj good and evil. JNlan s 
conduct in regard to that tree was to determine whether he 
should choose the good or the evil ; whether the type of cha- 


racter which he should permanently acquire through the 
exercise of his will should be holy or sinful. The know- 
ledge spoken of is that practical knowledge which consists in 
determinations of the will, and not the speculative appre- 
hension or intelligent discernment of moral distinctions. 
Man already knew the right and the wrong ; the law of God 
was written upon his heart, and the whole constitution of his 
nature was in unison with the essential and immutable dis- 
tinctions of the true and the good. But as he was mutable, 
as that mutability lay in his will, and as his will had to 
decide whether he should preserve or lose the image of God 
in which he was created, that which was to determine what 
his choice should be might well be called his means of 
knowing, in the sense of cleaving to or einbracing, good or 
evil. The tree was simj)ly the instrument of trying the hu- 
man will ; and if, instead of the knowledge of good and 
evil, you call it the tree of the choice of good and evil, you 
will have what I take to be the precise import of the in- 
spired appellation. Knowledge is often put for the practical 
determinations of the Avill. Our moral nature is called a 
practical understanding, and its decisions may therefore be 
properly represented in terms of knowledge. 

This explanation is so natural, so obviously in harmony 
with the whole design of the prohibition, 

This view overturns t i i i i , • , i . i 

sundry iiypotheses. ^ud SO Completely accordaut with the usus 
loquendi of the Sacred Scriptures, that one 
is at a loss to conjecture how commentators could have per- 
plexed themselves so grievously as some have done in rela- 
tion to tlie nature and functions of the tree. The difficulty 
has arisen, in most cases, from not perceiving the fitness of 
a positive precept as the immediate matter of man's trial. 
Hence, the Mosaic account has appeared unreasonable and 
absurd, and various hypotheses have been invented to bring 
it within the sphere of our notions of propriety. One finds 
in the whole description of the paradisaical state a figure to 
illustrate the operations of sense and reason. Another finds 
in the nature of the two prominent trees of the garden, and 


the effects of their fruit upon man's physical constitution, the 
ground of the prohibition in the one case 

The effects of the 1j1 •• -ji ji TjI 

fruit not physical. ^ncl the pcrmissiou in the other, and the 
origin of their peculiar names. We are 
gravely told that the tree of life bore healthful and nutritious 
fruit, and Avas specially calculated to immortalize the frame ; 
it was a tree of life, because it secured and perpetuated life. 
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on the other 
hand, was " a hurtful, poisonous tree ;" ^ and the prohibition 
in regard to it was only a salutary premonition of danger 
proceeding from the apprehension of God that Adam, if left 
to himself, might poison his system. The import of the 
command was simply. Do not poison thyself. It was called 
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because it Avas a 
means of teaching man prudence : " If he ate of the fruit of 
the tree, it would be to his hurt ; and by the evil he would 
suffer, he would become wise and learn in future to be more 
circumspect." Others, again — and in this opinion the Dutch 
divines of the Federalist school generally 

This tree uot a sa- i j_i • ^ j_ i 

crament. concur — regard this tree as a sacramental 

symbol. The notion which they mean to 
convey may be right enough, but the language is altogether 
inappropriate. A sacramental symbol is at once a sign and 
a seal. Of what was this tree a sign ? Not of the prohibi- 
tion. It was the very matter of the prohibition — the thing 
itself, and not a representative. Not of the moral law or 
the principle of universal obedience. That whole principle 
was involved in the issue of man's conduct in relation to the 
tree. It was not a putative, but a real guilt ; not a symbol- 
ical, but a real sin that he would commit in eating of the 
forbidden fruit. The entire law, in that which determines 
its formal character as law or an expression of the Divine 
will, was itself broken in the contempt of the Divine autho- 
rity, which the eating of the fruit involved. Hence, we can- 
not, without a violent catachresis, make that sacramental and 
symbolical which signified and scaled nothing but itself. 
^ Knapp, i., p. 385. 


The prohibition did not represent, but was itself, the condi- 
tion of the first dispensation of religion. What those who 
adopt this view mean to condemn by making the tree sym- 
bolical is the preposterous notion, fit only for Socinians and 
Rationalists, that this tree was the sole condition of the cove- 
nant ; so that man might have violated the moral law, and 
yet if he abstained from this fruit he could not have been 
subject to death : death was an evil specifically annexed to 
this prohibition and to nothing else. 

It is obvious, however, from what has already been said, 
that the positive can neither supersede nor 

The positive, how- , , , , _,, , 

ever, cannot supersede repeal tlic moral law. lliat law was writ- 

the moral, written up- ^^j-^ ™qj^ ^]-^g }^gj^^,f ^^-^^ Jj.g obligation COuld 

on the heart. j- ^ o 

no more be revoked than the nature of 
man destroyed or the holiness of God expunged. That 
law, in the conviction of good and ill desert with which it 
was attended in the conscience, contained moreover an ex- 
plicit promise to obedience and an explicit threat to disobe- 
dience. Hence, there needed no revelation to communicate 
in relation to it what man knew already, and knew from the 
constitution of his own mind. The only thing in regard to 
which supernatural teaching was required was the positive 
precept and the penalty under which it was enforced. That 
It was added to the ^as placed ou the same footing of author- 
morai,aiKi man placed jty with tlic moral law by thc express will 

under a twofold law. n r^ -i mi «> r> i • 

ot (jrod. ihe eiiect of this revelation was 
to make the ^vhole law under which man was placed two- 
fold, and to render it necessary that he should obey both in 
order that his obedience might be perfect. The positive 
was added to the moral, not substituted in the place of it, 
and enforced under the same sanction ; and to fail in either 
was to fail in both. The import of the positive command 
is, that over and above those eternal rules of right which 
spring from the necessary relations betwixt God and the 
creature, and which were already fully revealed in the very 
structure of the moral understanding, there was now im- 
posed upon man by external revelation a jjositive prccejit to 


which the same penalty was attached which conscience con- 
nected with the moral law. His obligations were enlarged, 
and not contracted. This resnlts from the very nature of 
the case. Had man sinned by falsehood, malice, cruelty, or 
any other breach of the law written upon his heart, the 
The question of couscquences would have been the same as 

man's allegiance more ^\^qqq ^yhich followed thc Catlug of the for- 
speedily and fully de- _ _ . i • n 

termiiied through the bidden fruit. But tlic qucstiou of his alle- 
^°^'*'^®' giance to God could evidently be brought 

more speedily to a crisis by the intervention of a positive 
command. The issue would be brought on by the natural 
apj)etite and desires of the flesh, and will be arrayed face to 
face with will by the collision which harmless lust superin- 
duced with command. In this way the question could be 
raised in the human soul whether the formal principle of 
obligation to the whole moral law should be supremely re- 
spected or not. Hence, the positive is all that appears in 
the narrative, not because it was all that was real in the 
covenant, but because it was all that needed revelation to 
teach it, and because it was the only point in relation to 
which the question of obedience was likely to come to an 
issue ; it was the only point in which a real trial of man's 
fidelity was likely to be made. Hence, the condition of the 
covenant must not be restricted to the positive command. 

It was the whole law under which man 
undeTtheTwIoi^'itw.'' was placcd, uioral and positive— the whole 

rule of duty, whether internally or exter- 
nally made known. 

That the moral law was enjoined upon him under the 
same sanction as the positive precept we know, not only 
from the testimony of conscience, but from the express 

teachings of Scripture in other parts of the 
t£Zr """""' sacred volume. Paul, in the Epistle to 

the Romans, makes the merit of righteous- 
ness and the demerit of sin the fundamental doctrine of 
moral government. What those gain who perfectly obey is 
life ; what those incur Avho disobey is death ; and, what is 


remarkable, he represents the heathen as knowing that those 
who flagrantly transgress the moral law are worthy of death. 
The wages of sin, he assures us — and sin is the transgression 
of any law of God — the wages of sin is death. The whole 
scheme of redemption proceeds upon this postulate. The 
law as law, and without reference to the distinction of posi- 
tive and moral, is and must be enforced by a penal sanction, 
or it degenerates into mere advice. There is another con- 
sideration which is decisive, and which I do not remember 
ever to have seen presented, and that is 

the moral law tho that UulcSS the moral law, through the con- 
positive precept couW viction of good and ill desert, had con- 

have had no forco. " _ ■' 

nected favour with obedience, and death 
with disobedience, the sanction of the positive precept must 
have been wholly unintelligible. It could not have been a 
moral motive. It could only have addressed itself to our 
hopes and fears, and operated upon us as caresses and kicks 
operate uj)on a brute. But the feeling that he who dis- 
obeyed ought to die, that there was a ground in justice and 
in right for his being accursed, could not have arisen un- 
less there were previously in the soul the formal notion of 
justice. Moral obligation, as contradistinguished from mere 
inducement, could not have been conceived. But given the 
primitive cognition of justice, and of moral obligation as 
involving the notion of merit and demerit, and then the 
case is plain. The will of God creates the j^ositive duty ; 
that will lays a moral ground for obedience ; transgression, 
therefore, becomes morally a crime, and the conscience nat- 
urally connects it with death as its just and righteous retri- 
bution. Hence, the obligation and authority of the moral 
law are presupposed in order that the obligation and author- 
ity of the positive might be understood. Man cannot be 
dealt with as a moral being by positive precepts without 
taking for granted the presence and power of these primi- 
tive cognitions, upon which the very essence of the moral 

The importance of accurate notions in relation to what 


was the condition of the Covenant of Works depends upon this, 
that our opinions on this point materially 

Importance of this t/i .• • ji • • 

discussiuu. moclity our notions concerning tlie primi- 

tive condition of man. If the positive pre- 
cept were the sole condition of the threatening, then either — 
(1) we must suppose that man was in a state of comparative 
infancy, and that God was leading him by a process of sen- 
sible discipline to the expansion and growth of his moral 
and intellectual nature — was training him, as a father trains 
a child, to just notions of truth and virtue, and with conde- 
scending kindness accommodated his instructions, in the 
selection of striking analogies from the sphere of sense, to 
his tender capacities ; which is to deny that man was under 
a moral government in its Srtrict and proper acceptation, 
because that supposes that he is fully competent to obey, 
that he has all the necessary furniture of knowledge, habits 
and strength which the law presupposes, and that he appre- 
hends thoroughly his true posture and relations — or, (2) we 
must assume with Warburton that death was not so much a 
penalty as a failure to attain a supernatural good, and that 
the only effect of disobedience was to remand him to his 
original condition. All such incongruities are completely 
obviated by the explanation which has been given. The 
tree was a test of man's obedience ; it concentrated his pro- 
bation upon a single point, and implicitly contained the 
whole moral law. 

II. The next and most important point is the promise 
which was to crown the successful trial of 
covetr"'"°'"" the pair. Everything depends upon the 
nature of that promise. If it Avere nothing 
more, as some have maintained from the silence of the his- 
torian, than the general expectation of impunity, and of the 
continuance of his present state of favour during the period 
of his innocence, man certainly gained nothing by his transfer 
to the garden of Eden but the enlargement of his duties by 
the addition of a positive command. The dispensation was 
one of restraint rather than of liberty ; an abridgment of his 


privileges rather than the concession of new advantages. It 
is true that Moses says nothing directly of 
direcuyr^-cungif » promisc ; he givcs no intimation of the 
nature of the reward which was proposed 
to fidelity, nor does he even affirm that one was proposed ; 
but the whole tenor of the narrative bears upon its face 
that God was meditating the good of his creature; and that 
the restrictions which he imposed looked to blessings of 
which these restrictions were a very cheap condition. There 
was not only, in no proper sense, a covenant, but there was 
no modification of the period of trial involved in the notion 
of moral government — there was no limitation to the extent 
of man's probation — unless there was some special promise 
annexed to the peculiarities of his present circumstances. It 
does not follow, moreover, that because the promise is not 
recorded in the brief history of the transaction, therefore the 
promise did not exist. It may be implied from the nature 
of the case, or it may be articulately stated in other portions 
of the sacred volume. The omission here may be supplied 
by other texts, and by what we are taught concerning the 
import of the Divine dispensations toward man. Unless 
The scripturea must ^^^ Scripturcs directly or indirectly autlien- 
arbitiate, and they do ticatc a promisc, wc are not to presume 

teach us ou this sub- 
ject, both iiKiirectiy that a promisc was made. What is not 
and positively. Contained in positive declarations, or de- 

duced by necessary inference, we are not to receive as the 
word of God. Now I maintain that the Scriptures, indi- 
rectly, teach us that there must have been a promise, and 
positively declare what the promise was. I am willing to 
admit that nothing can be inferred from the threatening. 
We cannot deduce one contrary from another. The sole 
promise involved in a threat is impunity as long as the 
threatening is respected. 

1. But it is morally certain that a peculiar promise of 
some sort must have been given, dependent upon a limited 
obedience, from the circumstance that Adam was made the 
representative of the race. He could not have been treated 


as a public person and yet placed under the law of perpetual 
, innocence. To supi)Ose this were to sup- 

The promise argued i i i 

from Adam's headship, posc the moustrous auomaly that his 
descendants might have successively come 
into being, and yet without being justified have been exempt 
from the possibility of sin, or in case of sin have been ex- 
empt from the penalty of transgression. If there were no 
limit to his probation, he could never be justified ; they, 
therefore, could never be justified through him. The moral 
condition of both would be contingent and precarious. But 
as they were on trial only in him, they must be either pre- 
served from sin by special grace, or in case of sin be pre- 
served from the imputation of guilt. That moral agents 
should exist in circumstances of this sort is utterly prepos- 
terous.^ Hence, the constitution which made Adam a rep- 
resentative, and which put the race on trial in him, contains 
on the face of it a limitation of probation. There was a 
period when the scene should be closed, and when his des- 
tiny and that of his descendants should be determined either 
for sin or holiness. Before they were born it was to be set- 
tled, and settled by him, under what law they should be born, 
whether that of righteousness or death. Every passage of 
Scripture which teaches that Adam was a 
fureT"* " "'' ''"'" P^^blic person, and that his posterity sinned 
in him and fell with him in his first trans- 
gression, teaches by necessary implication that the probation 
was designed to be definite, and that there was the same op- 
portunity of securing justification as of incurring condemna- 
tion. There is a beautiful harmony in the whole scheme 
of God, and, whether in nature or in grace, you cannot strike 
out a part without destroying the symmetry of the whole. 
I cannot forbear to notice, too, that those who account for 
the propagation of sin ui)on the law of generation alone 
cannot upon their theory infer any provision for justifica- 
tion in the Adamic economy from the universal prevalence 
of sin and death. If men are not condemned in Adam, 
1 See Eldgely, vol. i., p. 317. 


but only inlierit liis nature by the law of descent, tliere is 
no reason to postulate a constitution in which they might 
have been justified through him, and there is no reason to 
infer that he or any of his race had in his state of innocence 
the prospect of ever being confirmed in holiness. But upon 
the hypothesis of representation the possibility of justifica- 
tion is an inevitable inference. 

2. It is besides expressly declared that the law was 

ordained unto life. Obedience is through- 
More Scripture teach- jji O'j • T iii 

i„gg out the bcnptures as indissolubly associ- 

ated with life as disobedience is associated 
with death. " If thou wilt enter into life, keep the com- 
mandments."^ "Who will render to every man according 
to his deeds ; to them who by patient continuance in well- 
doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal 
life." ^ This passage is decisive, as its design is evidently to 
show the nature of the disj^ensation under which man was 
placed in innocency as preparatory to a just apprehension of 
the provisions of the Gospel. The promise of eternal life 
is no part of the law as such ; it is peculiar to it by virtue 
of the limited probation upon which man was placed. The 
law of creation was life during the j)eriod of obedience, and 
eternal life could only be the reward of eternal obedience. 
But the law as modified by grace was patient continuance in 
well-doing for a season, and then everlasting security and 
bliss. This was the law under which all men were placed 
in Adam ; this the promise explicitly announced to them as 
the incentive to fidelity. " And the commandment which 
was ordained to life I found to be unto death."' "For 
what the law could not do, in that it Avas weak through the 
flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful 
flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the right- 
eousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not 
after the flesh, but after the Spirit."^ This passage teaches 
unequivocally that the law proposed a scheme of justifica- 

1 Matt. xix. 17. 2 Eom. ii. 6, 7. 

* Kom. vii. 10. * Kom. viii. 3, 4. 


tion — a scheme by virtue of which men could be reputed not 
merely innocent, but righteous, and that the reason why 
eternal life has not been secured by it is not the inadequacy 
of its own promise, but the failure of man to comply with 
the condition. No candid mind can weigh these texts with- 
out being impressed with the conviction that Paul views 
man as having been placed in a state in which he might 
have secured everlasting life by a temporary obedience. 
The law contemplated man as under a promise, to which the 
preservation of his innocence for a given period would have 
entitled him ; and this j^romise necessarily implies the possi- 
bility of justification. Hence, we are fully warranted, not- 
withstanding the silence of Moses, in saying that the essen- 
tial principles of moral government were so modified by the 
goodness of God as to render it possible for man to pass from 
a servant to a son, from labour to an indefectible inheritance. 
3. But the text last quoted gives us a third argument, 
which is even more conclusive still ; and tliat is, that the 
work of redemption has only achieved for us the same 
blessings — the same in kind, however they may differ in 
degree — which the law previously proposed as the reward of 
obedience. Christ has done for us what the law was ordained 
Thepromisetbrough ^0 do, but failed to do ouly through the 
Christ the same with fiiult of uiau. Whatcvcr, therefore, Christ 

the promise to Adam. , i i a i • i i • i 

has purchased, Aclam might have gamed. 
The life which Christ bestows was in the reach of Adam ; 
the glory which Christ imparts was accessible to our first 
head and representative. AVhatever Christ has procured for 
us, he has procured under the provisions of the law which 
conditioned human religion in Eden. The principles of the 
dispensation then and there enacted have not been changed; 
they have only been carried out and fulfilled. From the 
nature of the dispensation under which the second Adam 
was placed, we may learn that which pertained to the first; 
and the result of the comparison will be the confirmation of 
every doctrine we have stated in relation to our first father's 
posture. First, Christ was a public person ; so was Adam. 


Each represented his seed. Secondly, Christ's probation was 
limited ; it was confined to the period of his humiliation. 
Adam's, to preserve the analogy, must have been limited 
also. Thirdly, Christ had the promise of justification to 
life as the reward of his temporary obedience ; the same 
must have been the case with Adam. Hence, through the 
work of Christ, and the relations of that work to the law, 
we are explicitly taught that eternal life was, and must have 
been, the promise of the Covenant of Works. 

4. As the promise through Christ is essentially the same 

as the promise to Adam, we are prepared, in the next place, 

to consider what the life is that was promised. The term in 

Scripture not only indicates existence, but 

The life promised i.i i. i} ^^ ^ ' 'j_ ' • j. 

was eternal. ^Iso the property of well-bemg ; it is exist- 

ence in a state of happiness. Eternal life 
is the same as eternal well-being or happiness. As long as 
man's happiness was contingent, he was not in a state of 
life, in that high and emphatic sense which redemption se- 
cures. Innocence is the condition of life, but it is not life 
itself. There are two things which belong to life. First, 
It implies a change of inward state or character. Secondly, 
A change of outward state or relation. In relation to Adam, 
the inward change would have consisted in removing the 
mutability of his will. If he had kept the law, he would 
have been rendered indefectible in holiness by an influence 
of Divine grace moulding his habits so completely into his 
will that he never could have departed from the good 
pleasure of God, He would have attained, by the blessing 
of God, in the way of reward to his obedience, that moral 
necessity which is the noblest freedom and which constitutes 
the highest perfection of a rational creature. His security 
would not have been the result of habit. No course of obe- 
dience, however protracted and however it might be con- 
stantly diminishing the danger of transgression, would ever 
have rendered man invulnerable to sin. The mortal point, 
like the heel of Achilles, would always be found in muta- 
bility of will. A probationary state necessarily implies the 

Vol. I.— 19 


possibility of defection anJ the relations of the will to the 
law in such a state are essentially different from its relations 
in a state of justification. This great benefit, therefore, a 
will immutably determined to the good, would have charac- 
terized the life of the first man if he had been faithful to his 

The second element is a change of relation. He would 
have been adopted as a son, and no longer under the law as 
a servant. Whatever of joy, privilege, blessedness and glory 
are implied in this relation was held out to Adam as a mo- 
tive to fidelity. Confirmed in holiness ; admitted into the 
closest communion with God ; treated as a child ; honoured 
as an heir ; what more could God have done for him ? This 
was life, eternal life ; and this life in both its elements would 
have accrued from his justification. Temporary obedience, 
being accepted as perpetual innocence, would have secured 
perpetual innocence ; and probation being closed by a full 
compliance with the conditions — which is justification — would 
have rendered man a fit subject for receiving, as he was able 
to bear it, from the infinite fullness of God. To sum up all 
in a single word, the promise to Adam was eternal life ; and 
eternal life includes the notions of indefectible holiness and 
of adoption, w'hicli are inseparably linked together. 

From this exposition of the promise we need have no 

difficulty as to what the Scriptures teach in relation to the 

tree of life. It is very idle to suppose that it received its 

title from any property that it had to perpetuate existence 

or to prevent the incursion of disease. It 

The tree of life -was a i i i • i r* ii 

seal of ti.e promise. was merely a symbol or memorial of the 
promise — a token to man, constantly re- 
minding him through his senses of what great things God 
had prepared for him. It is perhaps because this tree was 
the exponent of the promise that Moses has not expressly 
recorded it. Some have inferred from the precautions taken 
to prevent man from eating of its fruit after his defection 
that it had some innate virtue to stay the tide of death. 
"We should rather infer that these precautions were solemn 

Lect. XIL] the covenant of works. 291 

signs that he had forfeited all right to the blessing it sym- 
bolized. He was not allowed to approach the tree because 
he had lost that from which the tree derived its significancy 
and importance. To have allowed him to touch the sign 
might have been construed into the assumption that he 
might yet compass the reality. In conformity with this ex- 
planation are all the subsequent allusions in the sacred vol- 
ume. " To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the 
tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God."^ 
" Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may 
have a right to the tree of life." ^ The tree of life is here 
evidently a figure of eternal glory. 

I cannot close this consideration of the promise of the 
Covenant without calling your attention to the ingenious 

and paradoxical theory which Warburton 
critidled"^ °" ^ ^"^^'^ ^^^^ P^^^ fortli in liis Divine Legation of 

Moses. He admits the distinction which 
I have elsewhere drawn between man's natural state under 
moral government and the supernatural state in which he 
was placed in the garden. He lays down the essential prin- 
ciples of moral government with sufficient accuracy, except 
that he represents repentance as a natural atonement for our 
violations of the moral law. But he errs grievously in the 
low estimate which he puts upon the character and qualifi- 
cations of man in his primitive condition. He degrades the 
image of God to the mere possession of the attribute of rea- 
son, and contends that immortality is no part of our native 
inheritance. Man was when he came from the hands of 
God a subject of law, and rewardable and punishable for his 
actions ; but rewards and punishments were equally tempo- 
rary. Nature contained no hope of immortality. The 
design of the revealed dispensation was to give man the 
prospect of endless existence, to exempt him from the pos- 
sibility of death. As immortality was a free gift, it was fit 
that it should be suspended upon an arbitrary condition. 
Man's disobedience only remanded him to his original con- 
1 Eev. ii. 7. ^ Kev. xxii. 14. 


dition of mortality. He had forfeited his being. He was 
put back where he was before, under a pure system of moral 
government. Christ restored to us what we lost in Adam, 
mere immortality. His sacrifice was an arbitrary appoint- 
ment by which God was pleased to communicate the gift a 
second time, and faith in Him is an arbitrary condition on 
which the possession is suspended to us. The peculiarity 
of this theory is, that the supernatural does not modify the 
natural, but is co-ordinate with it. Moral government goes 
on as it would go on without the supernatural ; the super- 
natural is only an expedient by which the subject of this 
government is rendered immortal. Of course, after wliat 
has already been said, it would be worse than idle to attempt 
an articulate refutation of a scheme which only excites your 
wonder that a man of genius and learning should have 
adopted it, elaborately expounded it and persuaded himself, 
and tried to persuade his readers, that he had found the key 
to unlock all the mysteries of Christianity. Paradox was 
the bane of Warburton's life. But he occasionally devel- 
ops principles which throw light upon the dispensations 
of God. Unfortunately, he develops them only to mis- 
apply them. 

III. The last thing to be considered in relation to the 

Covenant of Works is the penalty annexed 
obedieifco'!'^ ^ ° '^' 'to disobedieucc. That is contained in the 

threatening, " in the day thou eatest thereof, 
thou shalt surely die." What was really the death that was 
denounced has been a question variously answered, according 
to the views entertained by different expositors of the artic- 
ulate doctrines of the Gospel with respect to sin and redemp- 
tion. The type of a man's theological opinions can be readily 
determined by the estimate which he puts upon the judicial 
consequences of the first sin. Warburton makes the death 

of the covenant to be nothing more than 

Warburton's theory. ■,...■, 

the remanding of man to his original con- 
dition of mortality. He was created subject to the law of 
dissolution. His existence was destined under the appoint- 


ment of nature to a total extinction. The covenant proposed 
to exalt him to a state of immortality. Had he kept the 
injunction to abstain from the forbidden fruit, he would 
have been endowed with the prerogative of an endless exist- 
ence. His failure only placed him where he was before. 
There was properly neither fall nor apostasy; there was 
simply the missing of a proffered boon. Others, again, 
anxious to evade the proof of original sin 
derived from the sufferings and death of 
infants, exclude the dissolution of the body and temporal 
diseases from the death of the covenant. These they make 
the original appointments of nature, and not the penal visit- 
ations of transgression. They suppose that men would have 
suffered and died whether they had sinned or not. Others, 
again, anxious to mitigate the malio-nitv of 

still anotber. . i ^ • i i n • n ^ 

Sin, and to do away with the doctrine of the 
endless punishment of the wicked, have resolved the whole 
punishment of man into the death of the body and the evils 
which precede and accompany it. In all these cases it is 
clear that theologio prejudice is the real father of the different 
theories advanced, and that none of them are drawn from a 
candid and disjiassionate comparison of the teachings of the 
word of God. Men have put their opinions into the Bible, 
and have not extracted their doctrines from it ; they have 
made rather than interpreted Scripture. The truth upon 
this subject cannot be reached by the dissection of words and 
phrases. Scripture must be compared with Scripture, and 
the whole tenor of revelation in relation to sin and redemp- 
tion must be caipfully studied, in order that any just concep- 
tion may be formed of the real significancy of that portentous 
word, death. The result of such an examination will be, 

that it is a generic term expressing the idea 

The true view of the n • -ji j_ ^ j^ -^ /• 

p^.jjj^uy of misery, without respect to its form or 

kind, judicially inflicted. Any and every 
pain, considered as a penal visitation, is death. As life is 
not simply existence, but well-being, so death, its opposite, 
is not the nesration of existence, but the negation of all the 


pleasure of existence. As to live, in Scripture phrase, is to 
be happy, so to die is to be miserable. But is all misery or all 
pain penal in its origin ? If so, the question as to the ex- 
tent of the penalty can be easily settled. Now, I maintain 
that under a just and righteous government there can be no 
suffering without guilt. The innocent are entitled to the 
Divine favour, and to the bliss which results from it, as long 
as they maintain their integrity. Those who most strenu- 
ously deny that the creature, in any strict and proper sense, 
can merit, yet as strenuously maintain that it is inconsistent 
with justice to visit the sinless with pain. If they have no 
right to a reward over and above the pleasure of existence 
in the state in which they were created, the equity of God 
forbids that a being given in goodness should be made a 
burden. The form in which the notion of justice is first 
manifested in the conscience is through the conviction of 
good and ill desert, connecting well-being with well-doing, 
and misery with guilt. A discipline of virtue through evil 
suj)poses a dispensation of grace in consequence of which sin 
has been pardoned, and offences come to be considered as 
faults to be corrected, and not as crimes to be punished ; it 
supposes at the same time the presence of evil as of a thing 
to be removed and abolished. Moral discipline, in this as- 
pect, is possible only to pardoned sinners. But a discipline 
through evil where no sin has entered, a discipline through 
suffering where there has been no crime to be corrected, is 
contradictory to every just notion of righteous retribution. 
Hence, we have no hesitation in saying that all misery, all 
pain, all suffering, all that interferes with the comfort and 
satisfaction of existence, all that is contradictory to well- 
being, is penal in its origin. Not a pang would ever have 
been felt, not a sigh would ever have been heaved, not a 
groan would ever have been uttered, not a tear would ever 
have been shed, if sin had not invaded the race. All phy- 
sical evil is penal ; all misery is penal ; all 

It includes all pain. . . ^ . . . , 

pain IS death. Hence, to niquire into the 
extent of the penalty is simply to inquire into the extent of 


the miseiy to which man has rendered himself subject by 
his apostasy from God. As lie would have been free from 
all evil by the preservation of his integrity, so every calamity 
that he experiences must be referred, for its ultimate ground, 
to the guilt of the first sin. The condition in which he now 
finds himself is the condition to which his sin reduced him, 
and in this condition we read the true interjiretation of the 
threat, " In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely 
die." What man became that day, or the change which 
took place in his state and prospects, is the death that was 

1. There was a change in the habits and dispositions of 
his soul. He lost the image of God. His 

Death spiritual. 

nature took the type of the evil that he 
chose. His character became permanently and hoj^elessly 
corrupt. The very point to be settled by his probation was 
the fixed impression of his moral character. To choose the 
good was to become immutably holy and happy ; to choose 
the evil was to become hopelessly corrupt and miserable. 
The bondage of sin was the necessary consequence of the 
choice of sin. He at once lost all power to will or to choose 
what was acceptable to God. This loss of the image of 
God, or of the principle of holiness, is commonly styled 
spiritual death, as being the death of the soul in respect to 
what truly constitutes its life. It has been made a question 
how Adam could all at once have been deprived of those 
spiritual perceptions and concreated propensities to good 
which he inherited as the birth-right of his being. It has 
been asked how a single sin could all at once have depraved 
the entire constitution and perverted the whole current of 
his nature. If we were left to conjecture and speculation, 
we might suppose that as a habit is not likely to be formed 
from a single act, the principle of rectitude would still re- 
main, though weakened in its power, and by vigorous and 
systematic efforts might recover from the shock which to 
some extent had disordered the moral constitution. Bishop 
Butler speaks with hesitation in relation to the degree of 


injury wlilcli might be expected to accrue from the first full 
overt act of irregularity, though he has no backwai'dness iu 
regard to the natural results of a confirmed habit. Each 
sin has not only a tendency to propagate itself, but to de- 
range the order of the moral constitution ; but as the propa- 
gation of itself in the formation of specific habits is ob- 
viously gradual, it would seem that the general derange- 
ment would also be progressive. The difficulty is created 
by overlooking the circumstance of a judicial condemnation, 
and not properly discriminating betwixt holiness and moral- 
ity. We are to bear in mind that as we are under a penal 
sanction as well as possessed of a moral constitution, sin has 
judicial consequences which must enter into the estimate of 
the extent of injury sustained by the inner man. We must 
further recollect that as holiness, which is the foundation of 
the virtuous principle, the life of all merely moral habits, 
the keystone of the arch which maintains an upright na- 
ture in its integrity, consists essentially in union with God, 
whatever offends Him must destroy it. This is precisely 
what every sin does ; it provokes His curse, breaks the har- 
mony of the soul with Him, and removes that which is the 
fundamental principle of all true excellence. His moral 
habits may remain as tendencies to so many specific forms 
of action materially right, but the respect to God has gone. 
Spiritual life breathes only in the smile of God ; the mo- 
ment that He frowns in anger death invades the soul. It 
is the judicial consequence of sin, and hence every sin, like 
a puncture of the heart, is fatal to spiritual life. Hence, 
the universal dominion of sin is a part of the curse — its 
reign is hopeless in so far as human strength is concerned. 
One sin entails the everlasting necessity of sin. The law, 
as we have seen, knows no repentance. 

2. Besides spiritual death, the penalty of the law includes 
all those afflictions and sufferings of the 

Dentil temporal. i • /. i . i . . 

present life which terminate in the disso- 
lution of the body. The fatigue and pain connected wdth 
labour or the fulfilment of any of our natural functions ; 


the diseases to which we are constantly exposed ; the wear 
and tear of our physical frame ; the decrepitude of age ; the 
vexations and disappointments of life ; the final separation 
of the soul from the body, and the resolution of the body 
into its original dust, — all these constitute what divines are 
accustomed to denominate temporal death. To this must be 
added the disorder which has taken place in external nature ; 
the change in the temper and disposition of beasts; the 
sterility of the earth ; its poisons ; the deadly exhalations of 
the atmosphere, — all things which render the earth disagree- 
able and trying as the abode of man are obviously included 
in the curse. 

3. Then there is a state of suffering, after the close of the 
present life, in which first the soul, and 

Dentil eternal 

afterward both soul and body united, are 
the subjects of visitations in which God expresses the in- 
tensity of His hatred against sin. This last stage of pun- 
ishment is called, pre-eminently-, the second death. The 
Scriptures represent it by figures which impress us with an 
aAvful idea of its horrors. It is a worm that never dies — a 
lake that burns with fire and brimstone. "What the suffer- 
ings of the lost actually are we are unable to conceive ; but 
we know them to be terrific, because they are designed to 
express the infinite opposition of God to sin, and because 
they produced the unspeakable tragedy of Calvary. To 
which must be added that they are as endless as the exist- 
ence of the soul. This death is called eternal death. "When, 
therefore, we speak of the penalty of the Covenant, we must 
be understood to include the bondage to sin, the subjection 
of man to all the evils of this life, and to the still greater 
evils of the life to come — the whole of the misery which the 
fall has brought upon the race. When it is said that these 
evils are the penalty of the Covenant, it is not meant that 
they all xesult directly from it, or that they were all visited 
upon the person of the first transgressor. Adam did not 
suffer every species of pain and calamity to which any of his 
descendants have been exposed. But the meaning is, that 


the first sin prepared the way for them all ; it introduced a 
state of sin from which has resulted a general state of death. 
All the ills that flesh is heir to are either the immediate or 
remote consequences of the first transgression. The threat- 
ening of death had reference to that whole fallen and miser- 
able condition into which the race would be plunged by dis- 

IV. We have now seen the nature of the dispensation 
under which man was placed in the garden of Eden. We 
have considered the Condition, the Promise and the Penalty, 
and have been struck with the goodness of God in His gra- 
cious purpose to exalt the creature to a higher state, and to 
make him an inheritor of richer blessings, than his natural 
relations would authorize him to expect. He had an easy 
work and a great reward. It remains to 

Mau's conduct. .-,-,. -• -■ i. iii 

consider his conduct under this remarkable 
display of Divine benevolence. How long he stood we have 
no means of conjecturing — not long enough to be the father 
of a son. The circumstances connected with his fall are 
briefly narrated by the historian, and the account which we 
have may be called. The natural history of sin in relation to 
our race. 

1. In the first place, it is evident that the record contains 

a true history of facts as they occurred, and 
Jyl/fZ' '' ' "'" not an allegory setting forth the conflict of 

the higher and lower principles of our na- 
ture — of reason and sense ; nor yet an apologue, illustrating 
the change from primitive simplicity to refinement, luxury 
and corruption. The tree of tlie knowledge of good and 
evil was adapted to the trial of man's integrity, and is pre- 
cisely the kind of test which the nature of the case demanded. 
The tree of life was a fit symbol of the promise by which 
man was encouraged to obedience, and the threatening must 
surely be taken in its literal sense. The narrative, more- 
over, contains decisive evidence that sin did not originate 
from any collision between appetite and reason ; it originated 

Lect. xil] the covenant of works. 299 

as inucli in the higher principles themselves as in the lower. 
Our first mother Avas prompted by the desire of knowledge; 
she saw that the tree was suited to make one Avise, as well as 
fair to the eyes and attractive to the taste. 

2. In the next place, w^e must recognize, in the serpent, 

the presence of an evil spirit who under- 

An evil spirit present. , i , , ^o r ± i. o • 

took the oince ot a tempter, oin was 
already in the universe. That he who is described by the 
Saviour as a Liar and a Murderer from the beginning was 
the real but disguised agent in the transaction, is obvious 
from repeated allusions to the subject by the writers of the 
New Testament.^ That this was the opinion of the Jews 
before the time of Christ is apparent from the Book of Wis- 
dom.^ The promise, too, that the seed of the woman should 
bruise the serpent's head, has evidently a much higher sig- 
nificaney than any literal application to the serpent-tribe 
could give it. An ingenious effort to explain the malice of 
the Devil has been given by Kurtz in his Bible and xlstro- 

3. The sin of man was deliberate. He had the case be- 

fore him. It was not an instance of sud- 

The sin was deliber- -\ • n •. nr\\ ^ • 

^jg den infirmity. ilie case was argued out, 

and judgment rendered upon the argument. 

4. It involved a deliberate rejection of God as the good 

of the soul — a deliberate rejection of the 

It was the rejection i o /~i i j i t f ' i 

pfQQ(j glory ot (jrod as tlie end ot existence. 

Hence, it was unbelief, apostasy, pride. 

5. It was a most aggravated sin — aggravated by the re- 

lations of the person to God : by the na- 

Aggravations of it. n i i • 

ture 01 the act ; by its consequences. 
V. The relations of man to the covenant since the fall. 
1. He is condemned. 

Fallen man's rela- rs tx i p /• -i n j1 • 

tions to the covenant. 2. He has forfeited the promise. 

3. Individually under the general princi- 
ples of moral government. 

1 See John viii. 44 ; 1 John iii. 8 ; Rev. xii. 9. 

2 Chap. i. 13, 14 ; ii. 23, 24. 



[There are three points to be considered — 

I. What was the formal nature of the sin ? 
II. How it was possible that a holy being could sin. 
III. The consequences of this sin. 

I. "What was the formal nature of the sin ? — that is, what was the root 
of it? Was it pride? W\as it unbelief ? 

1. It was a complicated sin ; it included in it the spirit of disobedience 
to the whole law. 

2. It was aggravated — (1) by the person; (2) by his relations to God; 
(3) by the nature of the act ; (4) by its consequences. 

3. The germ of it was estrangement from God, which is radically un- 
belief. It was an apostasy, which in falling away from God set up the 
creature as the good. 

II. How could a holy being sin ? 

1. W^e must not lower the account so as to remove difficulties. Many 
make it the growth of an infant to maturity, having its powers quick- 
ened by errors and mistakes. 

2. Others make it allegorical, representing the conflict of sense and 
reason. This is contradicted by the narrative. Intellect is prominent in 
the cause of sin. Eve desired wisdom. 

3. Others make it an apologue intended to illustrate the change from 
primitive simplicity. 

4. Others, as Knapp, make the thing venial, but degrade the meaning 
to physical phenomena. 

5. W^e must regard it as the natural history of sin — the manner in 
which it was introduced into our world. 

6. It is not enough to say that man was mutable ; that explains the pos- 
sibility, but not the immediate cause of sin. 

(1.) It was owing to temptation. Here explain the nature of temptation. 

(2.) Desires might be excited, in themselves innocent, accidentally 

(3.) The general principle of virtue — Watch. Here was the first slip. 
Desires produced inattention to the circumstances under which they 
might be indulged ; here was a renunciation of the supreme authority 
of God. Want of thought, want of reflection. 

(4.) These desires, by dwelling upon the objects, engross the mind and 
become inflamed. They become the good of the soul. Here was the 
renunciation of God as the good. They prevail upon the will and the 
act is consummated. 

III. Consequences — immediate and remote. 

1. Shame and remorse. 

2. Loss of the image of God. This a penal visitation. Not the mere 
force of habit.] 



IF, as we have previously seen, Adam in the Covenant of 
Works was the representative of all his natural pos- 
terity — that is, of all contemplated in the original idea of 
the race, and descended from him by the ordinary law of 
propagation — then the condemnation in which he was in- 
volved pertains equally to them, and the subjective condi- 
tion of depravity to which he was reduced by his transgres- 
The phrase ori^r«aj ^iou must also bc fouud in them. They 
Sin as used in its wide must bc at oucc guilty and corrupt. This 
state of guilt and corruption, as that in 
which they begin their individual personal existence, is by 
one class of divines called Original Sin. The phrase in- 
cludes both the imputation of the guilt of Adam's first sin, 
and the inherent depravity which is consequent ifpon it. 
In this wide sense it is probably used by the Westminster 
Assembly of divines. The guilt is the 

Westminster Assem- iif> • ii'j_j^ij_ 

biy of divines; Doud ot uuiou Dctwixt the trausgrcssion 

of Adam and the moral condition in which 
they are born. Others restrict the terms original sin exclu- 
sively to the corruption in which men are born, though in 

calling it sin they presuppose that it has 
sMso '" '*^ ""'"^"'^ been created by guilt. They represent it 

as a penal condition, but the j)rominent 
idea is the moral features of the condition itself, and not 

the cause by which it has been produced. 

by Calvin and others. . . .... 

There is consequently some ambiguity m 
the phrase. The more common usage is unquestionably 



that of Calvin, Turrettin and nearly all the Reformed 
Confessions in which original sin and native depravity are 

synonymous terms. The word was intro- 
tnftrtt^rr duced by Augustin in his controversy with 

the Pelagians. He wanted a term by 
which he could at once represent the moral state, which is 
antecedent to all voluntary exercises of the individual, which 
conditions their character and determines the whole type of 
the spiritual life — that state of sin or pravity in which each 
descendant of Adam begins his personal history. He called 
this state of native sin, original sin ; first, because our per- 
sonal, individual existence begins in it. The species was 
created holy in Adam, but since Adam every individual of 
the species commences his temporal being in a state of cor- 
ruption. Our origin is in sin. In the next place, he called 
it original to indicate its close and intimate connection with 
the first sin of the first man. Adam's transgression, as the 
beginning and cause of all subsequent human aberrations, 
was pre-eminently original sin — the original sin — and to 
indicate its causal relation to all other sins it was called 
peccatum originale originans. The depravity of nature 
which resulted from it was called peccatum originale origina- 
tum, and when the phrase original sin, without a qualifying 
epithet) is used, it indicates the originated sin, and in the 
word original points back to the first sin. In the third 
place, he used the phrase to indicate that our inborn cor- 
ruption was the origin or source of all our actual sins ; it 
stood at the head of all the transgressions of our subse- 
quent life. 

No doubt, the most prominent idea suggested by the 

phrase is, that as Adam's transgression stands at the head 

of all human sins, begins and conditions the series, so the 

In this lecture em- native depravity of each individual stands 

ployed in the nar- ^t, the licad of all liis aberrations and de- 
rower sense, but the . . , ,^ -i • i i 

notion of guilt not ex- temiines the manilestations oi his whole 
'''"'''"^" moral life. Adam's sin is absolutely origi- 

nal to the species; native depravity relatively original 


to each individual of the species. In the sense, then, of 
that inherent corruption in which the descendants of Adam 
begin their earthly career, I shall employ the term in the 
present lecture. Still, the notion must not be lost sight of 
that this inherent corruption could not be strictly and prop- 
erly sin, unless it were grounded in guilt. If the species 
had begun to be in the state in which each individual is 
now born, no blame could have been attached to its irregu- 
larities and deformity. If the idea of man as it lay in the 
Divine mind had included the nature which we now find 
cleaving to our being, that nature could not have been 
chargeable with aught that deserved censure. Hence, the 
notion of guilt underlies all the moral disapprobation which 
w^e attach to our present natural condition. It is a penal 
state — one into w^iich we have fallen, and not one in which 
we were made. The moral history of the individual does 
not begin with his own personal manifestation in time ; that 
manifestation has evidently been determined by moral rela- 
tions to God that have preceded it. Hence, the very term 
sin applied to our present state carries with it the idea of 
something anterior ; it announces it as an originated and not 
The question, how ^s au Original condition. How there can 
guilt can precede ex- bc guilt antecedently to the existence of 

istence, must be met; i • i- • i i m i • i t 

the individual — a guilt, too, which condi- 
tions and fixes the very type of that existence — is a question 
that must be answered, or it is impossible to vindicate origi- 
nal sin in any other sense than that of misfortune or calam- 
ity. If it is not grounded in the ill deserts of the creature, 
but in the sovereign will and purpose of God, it loses all 
moral significancy, and is reduced to the aesthetic category 
of beauty and deformity, or the category of mere jihysical 
contrasts. The question of guilt, therefore, must meet us 
in the discussion of original sin. But as we shall be better 

able to encounter it when we shall have 

but it is romitted for • t i • i j. i j • 

the present. considercd our inherent and native corrup- 

tion, we remit the investigation of it to 
the close of our present inquiry. It will come in as the 


exjilanation of the state in which we actually find our- 
selves to be. 

I. Let us, then, take up the question of native depravity. 

Original sin, as the What is the statc in which every man is 

doctrine was taught boHi ? It is amaziug witli what perfect 

by all the Reformers. , „ . ni a r^ o • ii 

uniiormity all the early Coniessions, whether 
Lutheran or Reformed, represented the teachings of the 
word of God upon this subject. There is not a discordant 

1. In the first jjlace, they unanimously represented this 

corruption as the very mould of the moral 

Sin was the mould i. n 'T'lii^il 

of man's moral being, ^euig of cvery mdividual of the species. 
It was prior to all voluntary agency; it 
was prior to any and every manifestation of consciousness. 
While Pelao;ians tauo;ht that the individual was created 
without any moral character at all, and that the habits which 
he exhibited were the results of his own voluntary acts, the 
Reformers, following in the footstej)S of Paul and Augustin, 
strenuously maintained that there was a generic and all- 
comprehensive disposition which lay behind the will in all 
the manifestations of individual life, and determined the di- 
rection which it would always take in the great contrasts of 
holiness and sin. There was a general habitude which lay 
at the root of the will and of our whole spiritual being, and 
which determined the general type which every act of choice 
must bear. This corruption they represented as a nature in 
the sense of an all-conditioning law — a sense which I have 
already explained in unfolding the scriptural idea of holi- 
ness. So strong was the language of Luther upon this point 
that he has trodden closely upon the verge of Manichsean 
forms of expression. He speaks of sin as pertaining to the 
very substance, the very being, of the soul. He speaks of 
it not merely as de natura, but as de essentia hominis, and 
calls it peccaium substantiate or essentiale. His design, in 
these strong expressions, is to point out the intimate connec- 
tion in which sin stands to the very being of the individual. 
It is not something Avhich he has acquired — something which 


has invaded him in the development of his earthly life. It 
is interwoven in the very texture of his soul — began with 
the beginning of his faculties, and inseparably cleaves to them 
in all their exercises. Sin is the law of his temporal exist- 
ence. It is his nature in the same sense in which ferocity 
is the nature of the tiger, cunning the nature of the serpent, 
and coarseness the nature of the swine. It was an original 
principle of motion within him, and not an accidental im- 
pulse. When man sins, he expresses his inmost moral being. 
He is so bound up in sin, the fibres of his soul are so inter- 
tAvined with it, the springs of all his energies are so poisoned 
by it, that he could as soon cease to be a man, by any power 
in him, as cease to be a sinner. He lives and moves and 
thinks and feels in sin. It was precisely in this sense of an 
all-conditioning law of the moral life that sin was represented 
as the natural state of fallen man, and this representation 
contained a protest against every form of error which sought 
to explain the irregularities of the individual by causes that 
have sprung up since the commencement of his individual 
existence. Sin and that existence were synchronous. Sin 
was the mould, so to speak, in which the faculties of the soul 
were run. The man and the sinner were twins from the 
womb, or rather were one. 

2. In the next place, this natural depravity was repre- 
it was negative- rented in a twofold point of view, negative 
destitution of every ^ud positivc. lu a negative aspect, it im- 
plied the total destitution of all those habits 
and dis^^ositions which constituted the glory of the first man. 
and enabled him to reflect the image of God. Every prin- 
ciple of holiness was lost. As a nature, it is an all-pervading 
habit, and exists as an unit or does not exist at all. It must 
be wholly lost or wholly retained. As a life, it either is or 
is not. There is no intermediate condition ; a man is either 
in life or death. This total destitution of holiness or spirit- 
ual life was called a state of spiritual death ; and the Re- 
formers, without a single exception, in the first stages of the 
Reformation, exhibited the imbecility of man in his natural 
Vol. I.— 20 


state in relation to anglit that was holy and divine, as abso- 
lute and complete. There is no doctrine which they have 
more strongly asserted or more vigorously maintained than 
the hopeless bondage of the will. However Melancthon 
afterwards modified his doctrine, no Reformer ever expressed 
the inability of man in more exclusive and uncompromising 
terms than himself, in the earlier editions of the symbols 
prepared by his hand. 

In its positive aspect, natural depravity included a posi- 
and rositiv.-an ac- ^^^^c corruptiou ; tliat is, an active disposi- 
tive teiukncy to all tiou to what was evil and inconsistent with 
the perfections and holiness of God. It 
resulted from the nature of man as an active being that if 
he wei'c deprived of the principle of holiness, he must mani- 
fest the opposite. His actions could not be indifferent ; 
they must, as springing from a rational and accountable 
being, liave a moral character of some sort, and if holiness 
were precluded, nothing but sin remained. Hence, there 
was a foundation for every species of evil. Tlic determinate 
habits in different individuals might be very different ; some 
might manifest a proclivity to one form of sin, and others to 
another. One might give himself to low and degrading 
lusts, and another might practice a more refined licentious- 
ness. Some might become slaves to sense, and others slaves 
to the subtler sins of the spirit. Accident and education 
might determine the definite bias ; but all, without excep- 
tion, would plunge into sin, would contract specific habits of 
iniquity, and if left to themselves would steadily wax worse 
and worse. A foundation was laid in every human heart 
for every form of evil. The poison was there, though it 
might ha repressed by circumstances. All the currents of 
the human soul were in one general direction ; they were 
from God and toward sin. There was not only nothing 
good, but there was the germ of all evil ; the tendency was 
to universal and complete apostasy. 

The negative and positive aspects of original sin are ob- 
viously only different sides of the same thing. The priva- 


tion of righteousness is, as Calvin lias properly remarked, a 
general aptitude for sin. The soul cannot 

These but two sides • j_ • i j • i i 'j_ j. 

of one thing. cxist lu a merely negative state ; it must 

affirm something, and where it is precluded 
from affirming God, it must affirm something that is not 
God. Where its exercises are not determined by holy love, 
they Avill be determined by a love that is not holy. 

3. In the next place, natural depravity was represented as 
universal and all-pervading. It extended 

It was universal and -.i ii 4ni' i 

all-pervading. ^^ ^'^^ whojc man. All his powers and 

faculties of soul and body were brought 
under its influence. It was not confined to one department 
of his being — to the will, as contradistinguished from the 
understanding, or to the understanding, as contradistin- 
guished from the will ; it was not restricted to the lower ap- 
petites, as contradistinguished from our higher principles of 
action ; nor did it obtain in the heart alone, considered as 
the seat of the affi^ctions. On the contrary, it was a disease 
from which every organ suffered. As found in the under- 
standing, it was called blindness of man, spiritual ignorance, 
folly ; as found in the will, it was called rebellion, perverse- 
ness, the spirit of disobedience ; as found in the affections, it 
manifested itself as hardness of heart, or a total insensibility 
to spiritual and Divine attractions. It perverted the imagi- 
nation, and turned it into the instrument of lust and the 
pander to low" and selfish indulgences. It not only affected 
all the faculties, so as to produce a total disqualification for 
any holy or spiritual exercise in any form, whether of cog- 
nition or of choice, but it crippled and enervated these 
faculties in their exercise within the sphere of truth and 
morality. They were vitiated in relation to everything that 
wore the image of truth, goodness and beauty. 

Here a distinction was made. The fall did not divest 
man of reason, conscience or taste. This 

A distinction made. i i i i i • 

would have been to convert him into 
another species of being. As reason remained, he still had 
the power of distinguishing betwixt truth and falsehood ; 


conscience still enabled liini to distinffuisli betwixt rio-ht and 
wrong, betwixt a duty and a crime ; and taste enabled him 
to perceive the contrasts in the sphere of the beautiful. The 
extinction of his spiritual life destroyed the unity of action 
which pervaded these faculties, and rendered the exercise of 
them no longer expressions of holy dependence upon God. 
The mere possession of them has no moral value ; it i& the 
mode of using them — it is the principle in which their 
activity is grounded — that makes them truly good. Now, 
with the loss of the image of God, these faculties not only 
lost their unity, but lost their original power. They became 
diseased ; and hence the reason blunders in the sphere of 
truth, the conscience errs in the sphere of right, and taste 
stumbles in the sphere of beauty. This distinction Augustin 
expressed by saying that the fall had de- 

Augustin's language • -t ^ n i i r> j • 

criticised. prived us 01 all supernatural perfections 

and vitiated those that were natural. The 
idea which he intended to convey is just, and has been very 
ably elucidated by Calvin, but the phraseology is certainly 
objectionable. The image of God in which man was created 
was in no proper sense supernatural. On the contrary, as 
we have already shown, it was the only condition jn which 
it is conceivable that man could have come from the hands 
of God. It was, therefore, his natural state. The form of 
expression which Augustin ought to have adopted was that 
of all holy endowments man was completely dispossessed, 
and 4iis natural endowments were grievously injured. 

The whole notion of original sin as a subjective state is 

conveyed by a phrase w^hich, from the controversy with the 

_, , , , , , Remonstrants, has become the o-eneral forra- 

The phrase total ae- ' o 

praviiy. Three senses ula for tlic cxjircssion of the doctriuc ; that 
phrase is iotal depravity. The epithet total 
is employed in a double sense — (1.) to indicate the entire 
absence of spiritual life, the total destitution of holiness ; 
(2.) in the next place, to indicate the extent of depravity in 
relation to the constituent elements of the man ; it pervades 
his whole being or the totality of his constitution. There 

Lect. xiii.] original sin. 309 

is still a third sense in which its employment might be 

legitimate, as conveying the notion of a positive habitude of 

soul in which every form of evil might be grounded — a 

tendency to the totality of sin. But the 

What it does not mean. 

word Mas never used to express the de- 
grees of positive wickedness attaching to human nature. It 
never was employed to convey the idea that men were as 
wicked as they could be, or that there were no differences 
of individual character among them. On the contrary, the 
most strenuous advocates of total depravity have acknow- 
ledged the difference between men and fiends, and betwixt 
one man and another in reference to moral conduct. While 
they contend that all are equally dead, they are far from 
affirming that all are in the same state of putrefaction. 
There ts every gradation, from the man of unblemished 
honour and integrity to the low and unprincipled knave or 
cut-throat. They undertook to explain these varieties in the 
moral features of humanity upon principles which would 
not conflict with their doctrine of total dej^ravity, show- 
ing conclusively that the two things were not, as they could 
not have been, with any show of decency, confounded. 
4. In the last place, this depravity was represented as 

hereditary, as bound up with the law by 

It was liereditary. i . , , . . i tvt i 

which tlie species is propagated. JNo hu- 
man being could escape it who came into the world in the 
ordinary way. It was an inheritance which every man 
brought with him into the world. The production of his 
nature as human and his nature as sinful was inseparable. 
There was no conception, in the ordinary way, which was 
not a conception in sin — no birth which was not the birth 
of a sinner. Hence, there could be no exception to the 
universality of sin which was not also an excej)tion to the 
usual mode of generation. Whatsoever was born of the 
flesh was flesh. Hence, hereditary corruption, native de- 
pravity and original sin Avere promiscuously used to convey 
one and the same idea. 

I have thus briefly stated what is meant by the doctrine 


of original sin, and if true it pi'esents a melancholy, an 
The doctrine as appalling picturB of the iiioral condition 
stated, If true-, appall- of the racB. It is beyond all controversy the 
thorniest question in the whole compass 
of theology, but its importance is fully commensurate with 
its difficulties. Here lies the disease which redemption was 
designed to remedy, and our concejDtions of the i^rovisions" 
of grace must be modified by our conceptions of the need 
they were arranged to meet. The natural state of man is 
the key for unlocking the peculiarities of the state into 
which he is introduced by grace. No man can ever know 
God in Jesus Christ until he knows himself. If tlie doc- 
trine is not true, it would seem to be the 

if not true, it ought to • i, i • i J^ • • i , 

beWy to be refuted. Simplest aud casicst thing in nature to re- 
fute it. Man is before us ; our own con- 
sciousness is a volume whicli we can all to some extent read 
and understand ; and the question is concerning the inner- 
most ground of that consciousness as it pertains to God and 
to all spiritual good. The doctrine professes to give a tran- 
script of what is found in the soul of man ; it takes the 
jDhenomena of human life, analyzes them, explains them 
and reduces them to their principle. If there is an error, it 
must be in the facts or in the reasoning. The facts, as mat- 
ters of experience, speak for themselves, and the error, if it 
lies there, can surely be detected and exposed. The reason- 
ing is short and simple, not at all complicated ; there is but 
a step betwixt the premises and the conclusion, and the 
error, if it lies there, ought also to be easy of exposure. 
Under these circumstances, if the doctrine is false, if it is 
only a caricature and not a true and faithful portrait, is it not 
strange that the most earnest and self-scrutinizing minds, 
the most zealous and faithful and devoted saints, have been 
precisely the persons who have insisted most tenaciously 
that this is a just account of themselves apart from the grace 
of God, that this is just what they have found in their own 
souls, and what observation and Scripture alike teach them 
to look for in the souls of others ? How such a doctrine 


could have originated, obtained currency, been handed 
down from generation to generation among such men, 
and been defended with the zeal of a warfare for hearths 
and altars, is an inexplicable marvel if after all it is a 
mere libel upon poor human nature. Tlie presumption 
would seem to be in its favour. It could not have lived and 
spread and reigned as it has done in the 

It must be true, /> /-i n • /> • i i t /> • 

Church ot (jod, it it had no liie ni it. 
There must be something in it ; there must be a preponder- 
ance of truth in it. ]\Ien are too much interested not to 
believe it, to render it credible for a moment that it should 
have formed a part of the faith of Christendom, if it were 

not radically true. Still, it may be exag- 

but is it exaggerated ? i-i ii-i 

gerated, it may be overwrought, and it be- 
comes us -with the utmost candour and solemnity to examine 
the grounds upon which it has been supposed to rest. 

1. The first thing that claims our notice in investigat- 
ing the facts upon which the doctrine is 

First fact of expe- i i • ji • i*j £> - tt 

rience, siu universal. gi'oundcd, IS the universality of sin. Here 
the Scrij)tures and experience completely 
coincide. There is not a human being who has reached the 
period of moral agency of whom it cannot be confidently 
affirmed not only that he has sinned, but that he will still 
continue to sin. " There is no man," says Solomon, in his 
sublime prayer of dedication, " that sinneth not," ^ '' There 
is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth 
not."" "How should man be just with God? If he will 
contend with Him he cannot answer Him for one of a thou- 
sand."^ The doctrines of repentance, pardon, justification 
by faith, the promises of daily strength — in fact, all the dis- 
tinctive features of the Gospel — take for granted the absolute 
universality of human sin. The race is everywhere con- 
templated, both in the Old and New Testaments, as a race of 
sinners. When we encounter a human being, there is noth- 
incf in regard to him of which we are more certain than 
that he has often done what was wrong. And we should 
1 1 Kings viii. 4G. ^ Eccles. vii. 20. ^ Jq}, [^ o, 3, 


look upon the man who dealt with his fellows upon the sup- 
position that any of them were free from sin and not liable 
to be seduced into it, as much more to be pitied for his weak- 
ness than commended for his charity. If now all have 
sinned, if every mouth must be stopped and the whole 
world become guilty before God, there must be some cause 
which is com^jetent to explain this universal efTect. The 
cause cannot be partial and accidental ; as sin is not the 
peculiarity of a few individuals nor the preposterous fash- 
ion of single tribes or peoples, it can be explained by no 
cause M'hich is not coextensive in its influence with the 
entire human race. An universal fact implies an univer- 
sal cause. Phenomena which always accompany humanity 
are in some way grounded in its nature. From the univer- 
sality of reason, conscience, intelligence and will we infer 
that they belong to the constitution of the species. Opera- 
tions which can only be ascribed to these faculties, as causes, 
justify the inference that they exist as universally as the 
effects, and are inseparable from the conception of a human 
being. On the same principle there must be something in 
man, something which is not local and accidental, but some- 
thing which cleaves to the very being of the species, that 
determines every individual to sin. It is only by an origi- 
nal tendency to evil, or an ajDtitude to sin lying at the root 
of the will, that we can solve the phenomenon. Let us sup- 
pose that every human being came into the world free from 
every irregular bias, that the will was exclusively deter- 
mined to good, or, as Pelagians hold, indifferent to either 
alternative ; and how does it happen among so many mil- 
lions who have lived upon the earth, through so many ages 
and generations, in so many nations and empires, and under 
so many different forms of social and political life, that not 
one has ever yet been found of whom Behold, he is clean ! 
could be said with justice ? 

2. Sin is not only universal, but the tendency to it, accord- 
ing to the confession of the race, is stronger than the tendency 
to good. Men have to be carefully educated to virtue; 


vice requires no preparatory training. The solicitude of 
Second fact the P^rcnts for tlicir children, the precautions 
stronger tendency is of cvcry commuuity agaiust crime, the 
checks which every constitution has to 
frame against the abuse of power ; our bars, bolts and dun- 
geons, our racks, gibbets and all the paraphernalia of penal 
justice, are conclusive proofs that we look upon each other 
as beings not to be trusted, that the motives of virtue re- 
quire to be propped by external supports, and tliat even 
when thus propped they are counteracted by the superior 
energy of evil. Every government is framed upon the sup- 
position that men are disposed to crime, and even where the 
disposition has not been elicited, it is yet very likely to be 
acquired. Here, then, is a prevailing tendency to sin — a tend- 
ency which all laws acknowledge, and a tendency which, if 
it should be overlooked and not guarded against in any com- 
monwealth, would soon bring that commonwealth to ruin. 

3. To this may be added the experience of the most earn- 
„, . , f . ., . est and devoted men in the culture of moral 

Thira fact, its in- 
dwelling power in the excellence. They complain of the pres- 

best men. p . . i • i it 

ence ol sm ni tliem as an nidwelling power, 
manifesting its evil in sudden temptation or sly and surrep- 
titious suggestions, or in crippling and unnerving the prin- 
ciple of good. They cannot concentrate their energies upon 
the holy and divine. Their souls are rendered sluggish, 
their moral forces are dissipated and scattered, and languor 
seizes upon their spiritual life. This mode of operation 
clearly reveals the habitual character of sin ; it is evinced 
not to lie in single, isolated acts, but in a permanent, abid- 
ing disposition, a fixed habit of the soul. 

4. This conclusion is further confirmed by the early age 
Fourth fact, it be- ^^ ^hich siu makcs its appcaraucc in chil- 

gins to appear in ear- drcu. As soou as tlicy bcgiu to act, tlicy 
bcffin to show that self-will and self-affir- 
mation are as natural as thought and reflection — they begin 
to unfctld in their narrow sphere those same tempers and 
dispositions which, carried over to mature life and transferred 


to the relations of business and social intercourse, are branded 
as odious and disgusting vices. Particularly in children does 
the spirit of self-seeking very early develop itself in the 
form of self-justification, and make them impatient under 
rebukes, surly to their superiors, and prone to falsehood as 
an expedient for maintaining their reputation free from re- 
proach. Augustin has signalized these perversities of his 
childhood ; and those who can recall their own childish ex- 
perience, or who have watched the development of character 
in other children, can be at no loss for arguments to dispel 
the common illusion concerning the innocence of childhood. 
It is true that there is a class of sins, the offspring of expe- 
rience and of a larger knowledge of the world, from which 
it is free ; it is also free from the corresponding virtues. It 
has not yet learned distrust and caution — it is marked by 
simplicity of faith and freedom from suspicion ; but it is 
equally marked by the principle of self-affirmation, whether 
the character be gentle and mild or bold and impetuous. 
The type of sin, which the after-life will unfold, begins from 
the dawn of consciousness to unfold itself. 

Xow these facts are certainly extraordinary if there is no 
such thing as a law of sin in human nature. 

These facts to be ex- -y^ , i • i i p • t 

piaiued only by tiie J^vcry hypotliesis Dut that ot uativc de- 
doctnne of original p^avity Utterly breaks down in attempting 
to explain them. Sin is universal as a fact. 
It is found, without exception, in every human being who 
reaches the period of awakened consciousness. It is found 
in those who are striving to obey the law of virtue ; it per- 
vades their faculties and enfeebles their energies and relaxes 
their efforts. It is stronger in the race than the tendency to 
virtue ; and society can only protect itself against it by the 
powerful support of penal laws. It begins to unfold its po- 
tency at the very dawn of consciousness, and is as truly 
present in the child as in the full-grown man. These are 
not hypotheses, but facts ; they are matters of daily observa- 
tion, and matters upon which the institutions of the world 
turn. Admit an original aptitude for sin, an original bias 


to evil, and the phenomena are at once explained. Deny it, 
and, as Hume says of the Gospel, all is mystery, enigma, 
inexplicable mystery. It is beyond controversy that every 
man looks upon his neighbour as having that within him 
which has to be watched. Whatever he may think of his 
own virtue, he is not willing to venture very far upon the 
mere integrity of other men, apart from securities extraneous 
to the innate love of right. 

But a tendency to sin, as a fixed and abiding disposition. 

Is there any nudd.e Hiay bc admitted tO Cxist without ascribiug 

ground of truth be- ^q q^^y uaturc that complctc and hopeless 
ri'the't^lS moral desolation which the Reformers in- 
doctrine? cludcd in the notion of the privation of 

original righteousness and the corruption of the whole 
nature. The Pelagian doctrine^ that sin is accidental to 
every individual, and that the uniformity of the effect does 
not involve the steady operation of a permanent cause, may 
be discarded without adopting the views concerning the de- 
gree and extent of depravity which characterize the Augus- 
tinian school. Sin may be recognized as a habit co-ordinate 
with other and opposite habits ; it may be represented as a 
diseased condition, which weakens without suppressing, 
hinders without extinguishing, spiritual life. Though it 

' [Apart from the Pelagian scheme, which really denies any fall at all, 
there are four hypotheses as to the extent of the injury that human nature 
has received. The first is that of some Papists, who represent original sin 
as merely the deprivation of supernatural endowments, leaving man in 
full and entire possession of all his natural gifts. Original righteousness 
was a supernatural furniture for a supernatural end. It constituted no 
part of man's nature, considered simply as human, and considered as des- 
tined to an earthly existence. All that is necessary to his temporal being 
he still possesses, and possesses without injury. With reference to a 
higher and nobler end, transcending the pure idea of his nature, he is 
wholly unfurnished. The second is that of the Sensationalists, who con- 
fine the mischief of sin to the insubordination of the lower appetites— the 
undue preponderance of sense over reason and conscience, of flesh over 
spirit. The third is that of the Semi-Pelagians, who admit the pervading 
influence of sin as extending to the whole soul. The fourth is that of the 
Reformers, which we have already signalized as maintaining the total 
corruption of the whole nature.] 


cleaves to the nature, it only enfeebles, but does not disable 
it ; makes it languid and sluggish in its desires after good, 
but does not destroy the truth and reality of holy aspirations. 
Something good still clings to the soul. There are still 
traces of its pristine beauty, impressions of its original glory. 
The spiritual and divine have not been wholly lost by the 
fall. One party has represented sin as 

The Sensationalists. i • i • i 

seated m the sensational nature, and con- 
sisting in the undue strength of corporeal appetites and pas- 
sions. The higher principles of action, the principles of 
reason and conscience, exist in their integrity, but they are 
unable to subdue and regulate the inordinate motions of 
sense. The flesh is stronger than the spirit. It is in this 
want of proportion between the lower and the higher, the 
want of proper adjustment, that sin essentially consists. 

Others admit that the disorder of sin ex- 

The Semi-Pelagians. 

tends to tlie whole soul, that the entire 
nature is brought under its influence ; but that there still re- 
mains in man a point of attachment for Divine grace — an 
ability by which he can concur with or decline the influences 
of the Holy Ghost. He has points of sympathy with the 
good by virtue of which he is differenced from devils and 
made capable of redemption. They admit his bondage, but 
contend that there is that still left in man which causes him 
to abhor it, to sigh for deliverance from it, and to accept 
cheerfully the friendly hand that proffers to him assistance. 

This natural ability is a very different 
fereiicid "^^^ '^'^'^ " tiling froiii that Avliich Arminians attribute 

to the race through grace. It belongs to 
man independently of the work of the Spirit, and is precisely 
that which conditions the result of that work. Tlic Armi- 

niaii admits that man since the fall has no 

from Arniiiiiaiis. i i -i 

natural ability to good, and ascribes to re- 
deeming mercy that attitude of the will by virtue of which 
it is enabled to accept the offer of salvation. The ability is 
the same in kind, but different in its origin, from that main- 
tained by those who contend for something still good amid 


the ruins of the a2)ostasy. The question, therefore, which 
we have to discuss is, Whether the sinner, 

Is there anv good • i i j.i /? 1 

naturally i.. man? independently of grace, possesses any ele- 
ment that can be truly and properly called 
good ? Whether any seeds of holiness are still deposited in 
his nature ? Whether he is able in any sphere of cognition 
or of practice to compass the holy and divine? There are 
but two sources of proof: Scrijjture and experience — the 
word of God and the consciousness of those who have been 
renewed by the Holy Ghost. 

If there be any spiritual good in man, it must manifest 

If there be any good i^Sclf iu the doublc foHU of Spiritual pcr- 
in man, he must l)Oth CCptioU and of holy loVC, aS an act of cog- 
know and love God. . . , (1 Ml T • i1 1 

nition and an act ol will, it is the charac- 
teristic of holiness that it holds in unity all the elements of 
our rational and moral being. We can separate logically 
betwixt thought and volition, betwixt the understanding 
and the heart, but in every holy exercise there is the indis- 
soluble union of both. The perception of beauty and ex- 
cellence cannot be disjoined from love. The peculiarity of 
the cognition is just the discernment of that element to 
which the soul immediately cleaves as the divine and good. 
Now if man independently of grace possesses any germ of 
holiness, he is able to some extent to perceive and appre- 
ciate the infinite excellence of God ; he must in some de- 
gree love Him as the perfect good, and desire conformity 
with Him as the true perfection of the soul. Wherever 
there is no element of love to God as the good there is no 
real holiness. Wherever there is no sense of the glory of 
God as the supreme end of life there is nothing divine. 
Tried by this test — and it is the only test which is at all 
applicable to the case — every mouth must surely be stopped 
and the whole world become guilty before God. The testi- 
mony of Scripture is explicit, both as to 

Scripture denies ? • i -Tj, x • xl 1 i* 

both respecting him. "lau s inability to pcrccivc the glory of 

God, and the total absence from his heart 

of anything answering to a genuine love. Every Scripture 


which teaches that liis understanding is blinded by sin, that 
his mind is darkness, that he needs a special illumination 
of the Spirit of God in order to be able to cognize Divine 
things, teaches most explicitly that in his natural condition he 
is destitute of the lowest germ of holiness. If he cannot see 
he surely cannot relish beauty. If he is incapable of apjire- 
hending the qualities which excite holy aftections, he is 
surely incapable of possessing the emotions themselves. 
There is nothing in the unrenewed sinner corresponding to 
that union of all the higher faculties in one operation which 
is implied in every exercise of holiness. He neither knows 
God nor loves Him. Hence, all who have been renewed 

The experience of , ^^^^ COUScioUS that thcy liaVC bcCU iutrO- 

aii renewed men con- duccd iuto a ucw type of life. There is 

firms the Scripture. i i i n i • i 

not the development oi something that 
was in them before, dormant or suppressed, but all things 
have become in a most important sense new. Their facul- 
ties are moved by a principle of which they had previously 
experienced no trace, and a harmony and unity are imparted 
to them which make them like really new powers. It is 
useless to recount the numerous passages of Scripture which 
teach the natural blindness of men, the hardness of their 
hearts, the perverseness of their wills and their obstinate 
aversion to the Author of their being — useless to cite the 
manifold texts which describe man in his natural state as 
an enemy to God and a slave to his lusts, to Satan and the 
world. Their plain and obvious meaning would be ad- 
mitted at once if there were not certain appearances of 
human nature which seem to be contradictory to the natural 
explanation, and which therefore demand a sense in harmony 
with themselves. If these appearances can be reconciled 
with the scheme of total depravity, then that scheme must 
be accepted as the one taught in Scripture. 

Among these appearances, the one on which most stress 
„, f ,, is laid is the exhibition of a character dis- 

The case of the un- 
renewed man of high tinguislicd by high probity and scrupulous 

moral character. . . , _,, 

inteffritv amono- unrenewed men. ihere 


are those who make conscience of duty, who recognize the 
supreme authority of right, and who endeavour to regu- 
late their lives by the principles of reason. These men 
are not to be put in the same category with abandoned 
knaves or heartless voluptuaries. They have something 
about them spiritual and divine ; they are good men. Such 
was the young man who presented himself to the Saviour 
as an inquirer after life, and whom even Jesus is said to 
have loved. Here the real question is as to the root of this 
morality. If it can exist apart from the love of God, and 
apart from any spiritual perception of the beauty and ex- 
cellence of holiness, it is no more a proof of Divine life 
than the loveliness of a corpse is a proof that the soul still 
lingers in it. It must be borne in mind that the fall has 
destroyed no one faculty of man. It has not touched the 
substance of the soul. That remains entire with all its en- 
dowments of intelligence, conscience and will. These facul- 
ties have all, too, their laws, which determine the mode and 
measure of their operation — principles which lie at their 
root and which condition the possibility of their exercise. 
Intelligence has its laws, which constitute the criteria of 
truth and falsehood, and without the silent influence of which 
no mental activity could be construed into knowledge. 
Conscience has its laws, which constitute the criteria of right 
and wrong, and without which the sense of duty or of good 
and ill desert would be wholly unintelligible. Taste has its 
laws, which constitute the criteria of beauty and deformity, 
without which aesthetic sentiments would be nothing but 
arbitrary and capricious emotions. These are all co-ordi- 
nate faculties, and each has a sphere that is peculiar to itself. 
Collectively, they constitute the rational, moral, accountable 
being. They point to three distinct spheres of thought and 
life — truth, virtue, beauty. Intelligence is the faculty of 
truth, conscience is the faculty of virtue, and taste is the 
fticulty of beauty. They all have an essential unity in 
the unity of the human person. They are grounded in 
one and the same spiritual substance. It is obvious that 


the mere possession of these faculties does not make a 
being holy, otherwise holiness could not be lost without 
the destruction of the characteristic elements of human- 
ity. They exist in the fiend as really as in the saint. 
Neither, again, does every mode of exercising them deter- 
mine anything as to the holiness of the agent. There may 
be a spontaneous exercise in which the ground of satisfac- 
tion is the congruity between the faculty and its object. 
Truth may be loved simply as that which is suited to 
evoke the peculiar activity which we term knowledge. 
Duty may be practiced, in obedience to the authority of con- 
science, to prevent schism and a sense of disharmony in the 
soul; each faculty may seek its object and delight in its 
object only from the natural correspondence betwixt them. 
When this is the spring of action and the ground of pleas- 
ure, there is nothing but a manifestation of the essential ele- 
ments of humanity. There may be in this way much truth 
acquired, and duty as a demand of the nature may be stead- 
ily and consistently practiced, and in all this the man never 
rise above himself. He is acting out his own constitution, 
and the law of his agency is that it is his constitution. His 
cognitions of duty are really in this aspect upon a level with 
his cognitions of truth, and he himself is the centre of both. 
Given his present constitution, he might act and think as 
he docs if there were no God to whom he is responsible. 
In order that the exercise of these faculties may be holy, 
there must be something more than the substantial unity 
of the person ; they must be grounded in a common princi- 
ple of love to God. As truth, beauty and goodness are one 
in Him, so they must be one in us by an unity of life. 
Truth must not only be apprehended as something suited 
to my faculties of cognition, but as something Avhich reflects 
the glory of God, and be loved as a ray of His excellence ; 
beauty must not only be admired as something suited to 
my taste, but as the radiance of Divine excellence, the 
harmony of the Divine perfections; and the good must 
not only be a2)prehended as a thing that ought to be, the 


right and obligatory, but as the secret of the Divine life, 
the soul of the Divine blessedness. Where the heart is per- 
vaded by holy love all these faculties move in unison and 
all derive their inspiration from God. Hence, in these 
various spheres, the cognitions of a holy and an unholy 
being are radically different ; they look at the same objects, 
but they see them in a different light. One perceives only 
the relations to himself; the other perceives the marks and 
traces of God. One sees only the things ; the other sees 
God in the things. To one the objective reality is all ; 
to the other, the objective reality is only the dress in 
which Deity makes Himself visible. In one, each faculty 
has its own separate life grounded in its own laws ; in the 
other, they all have a common life grounded in love to Him 
who is at once the true, the beautiful and the good. Hence, 
as there may be knowledge and taste without holiness, so 
„ . ^ . there may also be virtue. Eminent con- 

Eminent conscien- J 

tiousness with emi- scicntiousness may be joined with eminent 

nent ungodliness. ,,. i • i c -\ , ii 

ungodliness — a nigh sense ot duty as the re- 
quirement of our own nature with an utter absence of any real 
sense of dependence upon God. The most splendid achieve- 
ments, therefore, of unrenewed men are dead works — ob- 
jectively good, but subjectively deficient in that which alone 
can entitle them to be considered as the expressions of a 
Divine life. That this reduction is true may be inferred 
from the fact that there is a tendency in all integrity which 
exists apart from the grace of God to generate a spirit of 
pride. The motives to right-doing are apt to crystallize 
aronnd this principle as their central law. The great argu- 
ment for virtue is the dignity of human nature ; the life of 
virtue is self-respect, and the beauty and charm of virtue is 
the superiority which it impresses upon its votaries. This 

tendency is strikingly illu.strated in the 

The virtue of the i i l> xl. Oi. • rr\\. • i:> 1 i ^ 

gjj,jj.j, school ot the otoics. iheir fundamental 

maxim was. Be true to yourselves; and the 

difference betwixt the genius of their philosophy and the 

philosophy of Christianity is, that in the one, man is com- 

VoL. I.— 21 


pared to a palace in which the personal individual reigns as 
a king, and in the other, to a temple in which God mani- 
fests His presence and His glory. The virtue of one exalts 
the creature ; the virtue of the other glorifies the Creator. 
The one burns incense to his own drag and sacrifices to his 
own net ; the other lays all its tribute at the feet of Divine 
grace. The one, in short, is the virtue of pride, and the 
other is the virtue of humility. The difference betwixt 
holiness and morality is like the diiference between the 
Ptolemaic and Copernican systems of the universe. One 
puts the earth in the centre and makes the heavenly bodies 
revolve around it ; the other, the sun. One makes man 
supreme ; the other, God. Without denying the reality of 
human virtue, or reducing to the same level of moral worth- 
lessness all the gradations of human character, it is possible 
to maintain that independently of grace there is none that 
doeth good in a spiritual and divine sense, no not one. 
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seek- 
eth after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are 
together become unprofitable ; there is none that doeth good, 
no, not one. There is no fear of God before their eyes. 
There is a passage in Miiller's profound work upon the 
Muiier on Sin, criti- Christian Doctrine of Sin, in which, through 
cised as concerning inattcntiou to tlic radical distinction betwixt 

holiness and morality. i i. -i t i i • • i 

holiness and morality, he has maintained a 
view of human nature apart from grace which cannot be 
reconciled with the teachings of Scripture or the fixcts of 
Christian experience. And as the whole strength of the ar- 
gument against total depravity is condensed in his remarks, 
it may be well to expose their error. 

" We have already," he says,^ " directed our attention to 
the fact, that in general there are, even for the determined 
villain, still deeds of crime at which, if only for a passing 
moment, he shudderingly turns away when the temptation 
to the same presents itself to him. This is an unambiguous 
testimony that even such an one is still capable of aggrava- 

' Vol. ii., p. 269, 271. 



tino; his state of moral villainousness. But where aggrava- 
tion is still possible, there must also exist a remnant of some 
power of good to be overcome, however deeply buried under 
the ashes of an unbridled life of crime the sparks of the same 
may be smouldering. Neither shall we be able altogether 
to deny the deeply debased man, in general, the ability of 
delaying or of hastening the progress of his debasedness. 
The will, as the governing middle point of the inner life, 
does not, even in abandoned, obdurate debasedness of life, 
become entirely lost in its own complicate entanglement 
with sin, but there ever remains, so far as we are acquainted 
with human conditions, and in so far as the human has not 
yet passed over into diabolical evil, down in the very deep 
of the soul an unvanquished remnant of moral, self-deter- 
mining power — an ability, if ever so limited, of self-decision 
between the moral requirement and the impulses of wicked 
lust. And if this must be admitted in the most degenerate 
phenomena of the natural condition, how much more shall 
we be required to do so with respect to its better forms ! 
Human nature has been created by God so noble that it is 
not easily possible, even in its aggravated and deeply fallen 
state, entirely to destroy the traces of its origin which exhibit 
themselves in the power of the good." Further on man's 
natural condition is represented, in the words of Neander, as 
consisting of " two mutually conflicting principles — the prin- 
ciple of the Divine offspring, the God-alliance in the endow- 
ment of the God, and the therein grounded moral self-con- 
sciousness, the reaction of the religio-moral original nature 
of man ; and the principle of sin, spirit and flesh — so, 
however, that the former principle is impeded in its devel- 
opment and efficiency, and therefore held captive. Man, in 
his natural condition, without the peace of reconciliation, is, 
just because this peace is the truth of his very life, not an 
essence which is compact, restful in itself, but one which is 
in itself disunited, disquiet and full of contradictions." 
" The highest activity, therefore, of the still existent power 
of the good in the human natural condition, is not to deter- 


mine to produce from itself an activity corresponding to the 
Divine requirement — for that it is by no means able to do — 
but to drive man to the humble and self-surrendering at- 
tachment to the salvation of Jesus ; and that which in itself 
is excellent becomes in the reality the very worst perversion 
when it self-sufficiently and perversely sets itself up over 
against the offered salvation." 

This passage exhibits the whole of the philosophy in which 
the doctrine of the bondage of the will is sought to be recon- 
ciled with the active concurrence of man in the application 
of redemption. It endeavours to maintain, on the one hand, 
the hopeless ruin of the race apart from the grace of God, 
and to ground, on the other, the different reception of the 
Gospel on the part of men in the state of their own wills ; 
it is an effort to teach depravity without efficacious grace — 
inability without predestination. It wishes to make man 
the immediate arbiter of his own destiny. The passage, 
therefore, deserves to be carefully considered. 

1. In the first place, because there are degrees of wicked- 
Four distinctions be- ness, it is a singular confusion of ideas to 
twixt hoiintss anil infer that any can be good. One state may 
be worse than another Avithout being less 
virtuous. One stage of degradation is certainly lower than 
another, but it does not follow that there is anything lofty in 
either. The development of wickedness is one thing, the 
presence of holiness is another ; and the mere absence of 
certain measures or forms of wickedness is not the affirma- 
tion of any positive element of goodness. Miiller has here 
evidently confounded that relative goodness %vhich is only a 
less degree of badness with the really good — the non -presence 
of types of sin with the actual presence of a principle — of a 
germ — of holiness. We might as well say that because the 
recent corpse was less loathsome, it was therefore less dead 
than that which is rapidly sinking in decay and putrefaction. 
2. In the next place, to represent the resistance which a 
man makes to his own conscience in every successive stage 
of sin as a struggle against the good which still exerts itself 


within him, is to overlook the distinction betwixt the au- 
thority of conscience and the love of God. The conscience 
certainly remonstrates and enforces the right in the form of 
an absolute, unconditioned imperative — it threatens him with 
the destruction of his peace if he perseveres in his career ; 
but the right comes to him as restraint, as force — as some- 
thing against which the current of his soul is set. There is 
neither love to it, nor respect to the will of God as declared 
by it. There is no struggle of inclinations, of opposite 
loves, but there is a struggle of love and inclination against 
positive j)rohibition. To know duty and to be reluctant to 
perform it is no proof of goodness in the heart. On the con- 
trary, as we have already seen, there may be a real satisfac- 
tion of duty as the demand of our own moral nature, without 
the slightest tincture of complacency in God or the slightest 
reference to the supreme end of our existence. 

3. In the third place, the conflicts which take place in the 
breast of the natural man are not conflicts between the love 
of God and the inordinate desires and passions of a fallen 
nature. They are conflicts between conscience and his lusts ; 
and the deepest mortification which he experiences under the 
sense of his degradation is the injury done to his pride. 
There is no penitence before God, and there is no shame for 
having brought reproach upon Him or fdr having come 
short of His glory. 

4. In the last place, the disjointed, miserable condition to 
which the sinner finds himself reduced has no tendency to 
dispose his mind to a favourable reception of the Gospel. 
The rejiresentations, in which a class of writers is prone to 
indulge, of the heart of fallen man as conscious of its bondage 
and sighing for deliverance, looking out eagerly for some 
method of escape from the degradation and ruin of sin, are 
mere figures of the fancy unsustained by a solitary fact of 
experience. Man has struggles and conflicts, but they are 
struggles, not to escape from sin, but to escape from his own 
conscience and the law. His misery is that he cannot sin 
with impunity. His great eifort, in the development of sin, 


is to extinguish the sense of obligation ; and the peace which 
he seeks is a peace which shall reconcile God to him and not 
him to God. There is nothing in the subjective condition 
of the sinner which renders redemption welcome to him ; 
there is neither a longing for it before it comes, nor a joyful 
acceptance after it has been revealed. The Scriptures every- 
where attribute to the grace of God those spiritual percep- 
tions which present the Saviour to us as an object of faith 
and love, and enable us to appreciate the fullness and freeness 
of pardoning mercy. It is only the Divine Spirit who pro- 
duces the hatred of sin as sin, and the desire to be liberated 
from it on account of its inherent vileness. There is nothing; 
in man to which redemption attaches itself as sympathizing 
with its own distinctive provisions and predisposing the 
heart for its message ; and it is proverbial that the very last 
to submit to its overtures are precisely those who have the 
greatest degree of that moral good which consists in con- 
scientiousness and integrity. If mere morality is of a piece 
with holiness, it would seem that the more moral a man 
was, the readier he would be to accept the offers of salvation ; 
but the language of our Saviour in relation to the Pharisees 
of His own generation holds in relation to the same class in 
all ages. Publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of 
heaven before them. 

But it may be asked. Is there not a capability of redemp- 
tion? Is there nothing upon which the 

In what sense, man r^ -i 'xixiii i- i 

capable of redemption. Gospcl cau scizc that shall cvokc au ccho 
of the unrenewed heart to its doctrines and 
promises ? The answer is, that there is no natural sympathy 
between them ; but there is a deep and profound sympathy 
produced by the Divine Spirit when He awakens the con- 
sciousness of need. The consciousness of need is awakened 
through the impulse which He gives to the operations of 
conscience. He employs our natural faculties ; through them 
He convinces of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, and 
by His secret touch they are brought into the attitude in 
which they are prepared to listen to the joyful tidings of 


salvation. We have the elements out of which a sympathy 
can be established, but that sympathy results entirely from 
the direction which the Holy Ghost impresses upon these 
elements. Left to themselves, they would everlastingly 
struggle in their blindness against God, holiness and heaven. 
The real tendencies of human nature left to itself are found 
„ „ . ^ in heathenism. If there is in man a sense 

Heathenism snows 

the real temiencies of of the lioly, of tlic Spiritual and divine, 

liuman nature. . /. i . i i , ^ • i' 

if there is a real and earnest longing lor 
emancipation from the bondage of sin, we should expect to 
see it embodied in some of the forms of religious worship in 
which man has given utterance to the deepest and profound- 
est instincts of his soul. Do we find any such yearning in 
the ritual of heathenism ? Is it the effort of a sinful crea- 
ture to restore itself to God in the fellowship of holy love ? 
Does it hold fast, while it confesses its own weakness and 
aberrations, to the infinite goodness and the adorable excel- 
lence of God? Is its language that He is glorious and 
deserves to be praised and loved, while we are vile and 
ungrateful in withholding the tribute that is due ? So far 
from it, that no explanation can be given of its absurdities 
and monstrosities, its contradictions to reason and con- 
science, its violent perversions even of taste and decency, 
but that it is the determined effort of a moral being, cut 
loose from its Maker, to extinguish all right apprehensions 
of His name. It has utterly exploded the notion of holi- 
ness as 'an attribute either of God or man ; it has outraged 
reason by creations that contradict the first principles of 
common sense; it has outraged conscience by putting the 
stamp of religion upon crimes and atrocities which one, it 
would seem, could never have dreamed of, if he had not 
been resolutely set on becoming as unnatural as it was pos- 
sible ; it has outraged taste by transferring to the sphere of 
worship all the forms of deformity, ugliness, hatefulness 
which it is possible for the human imagination to picture. 
If the problem had been to devise a scheme in which not a 
single element that belongs to the hio-lier nature of man 


slioukl enter, in which all truth, all goodness and all beauty 
should be entirely and completely banished — ^a scheme in 
which it was proposed to reach the climax of contradiction 
to the noblest features of humanity — nothing more conso- 
nant to such a purpose could have been excogitated than the 
system of heathenism. It shows us what the human soul 
longs for, and while it reveals man's need of redemption 
it reveals at the same time the malignant opposition which 
it must expect to encounter. 

In every view of the case, therefore, whether we look at 
man in his wdckedness or in his virtues. 

The case summed up. ii i i i ■ 

we are compelled to say that he is totally 
destitute of any holy love to his God. His is dead in tres- 
passes and sins. He has an understanding which is able to 
distinguioh betwixt truth and falsehood, which can explore 
the mysteries of nature and reduce the manifold in her com- 
plicated phenomena to the unity of law ; but in all the mul- 
titude of his discernments he cannot find the Father of his 
own soul, and the real source of all the truth that he appro- 
priates in fragments. His knowledge misses the very life 
and soul of truth, and his science is but a dead form. He 
has a conscience which reveals to him the eternal distinc- 
tions of right and wrong and unveils the awful majesty of 
virtue. He recognizes the deep significance of law and 
duty, but he fails to ascend to the primal fountain of all 
rectitude, and is destitute of that Divine life in which the 
right is realized as the good, and law divested of all" appear- 
ance of constraint in the sweet inspiration of loving obe- 
dience. He has a fancy which delights in forms of beauty, 
and he contemplates with intense rapture the starry heav- 
ens, the rolling earth, and all the types of loveliness and 
grandeur which are impressed upon the visible things of 
God ; but that beauty which is above all, from which all 
have sprung, and to which all point as to their centre, his 
heart has never caught and his soul has never adored. 
Nay, without the most strenuous efforts his life in all these 
spheres is prone to ceaseless degradation. Having lost the 


principle which gives them consistency, he is constantly prone 
to lose the things themselves. In everything that bears 
upon the true, the beautiful and the good, he evinces that 
there is a something within him which cripples and retards 
and perverts his efforts. Holiness is spiritual health and 
strength, and where that is gone the whole action of the 
soul is morbid. Hence, the liability to error, the influence 
of prejudice, the misapprehension of the true method and 
scope of philosophy, are confessions that man has fallen 
from his pristine purity. Depravity impedes all the nat- 
ural exercises of our faculties ; it is as much the secret of 
false philosophy as of false religion. It is the disease, the 
paralyzing touch of sin, that makes the memory treacherous, 
the imagination unchaste, the attention inconstant, the 
power of thought unsteady, reflection painful and arduous, 
association arbitrary, and the fancy the storehouse of fleet- 
ing and deceitful images of good. With a holy faith utterly 
gone — the true light of the spiritual firmament — man gropes 
his way in darkness, relieved by the glimmering of the few 
stars that stud his natural sky. Without God he cannot 
but be without health and peace. The creature mocks him ; 
he mocks himself; he walks in a vain show, mistakes dreams 
for realities, and embraces a cloud for a divinity. 

II. Having considered original sin, both in its nature as 

a habit and in its characteristics as the total destitution of 

all holiness and as a tendency or disposition to universal 

evil, I come now to treat of the mode of its transmission, 

in consequence of which it is stvded heredi- 

Hereditary guilt. _ *' 

tary sin or hereditary guilt. It is handed 
down from j)arent to child in the line of ordinary gene- 
ration. Adam after his fall begat a son in his own moral 
likeness, and all his posterity have perpetuated to their 
descendants the character which began with him. That 
the notion of transmitted or hereditary sin is beset with 
difficulties which human speculation is unable to sur- 
mount, it were folly to deny. But these difficulties, it 
should be remembered, are not property of any j^eculiar 


theory. All schemes are beset with them, and there is no 
method of escaping them but by plunging into the greater 
difficulties of denying facts "which form a part and parcel 
of every human consciousness. We may deny that human 
nature is perverted from its normal development ; that man 
is failing to realize the idea of his nature; or that there 
exists any special hindrance to the formation of a perfect 
character ; but the conscience of every human being not 
totally dead to the truth and import of moral distinctions 
will remonstrate against such an abuse of speculation. Our 
Avisdom is to look at the flicts precisely as they are, to fol- 
low the explanations of the Scriptures as far as God has 
thought proper to resolve our perplexities, and what still 
lies unresolved to leave where we found it until we reach 
an elevation of greater light. 

There are two questions with which we have to deal in 
treating of the hereditary character of origi- 
nal sin. The first question is how sin is 
propagated — how the child in the first moment of its ex- 
istence becomes a participant of natural corruption, with- 
out making God the author of its impurity. The second 
question is, how that which is inherited, which comes to us 
from without as a conditioning cause and not a conditioned 
effect, can be strictly and properly regarded as sin — how, as 
it exists in us independently of any agency of ours, it can 
be contemplated with moral disapprobation or render us 
personally ill-deserving. The detailed examination of these 
two questions will lead us to a view of all tlie theories which 
have ever been proposed on this vexed subject; and if it 
should not answer all objections to the doctrine of the Re- 
formed churches, it will at least show that this doctrine is 
less liable to exception than any other scheme. 

1. In relation to the first question, one class of writers 
seem to regard it as a complete and satis- 

Stapfer's tlioory. '^ . i i . • 

factory solution to say that like begets like. 
" The state of the parents," says Stapfer,* " is morally im- 
1 Vol. i., p. 234, chap, iii., U 851, 853. 


perfect ; of a state morally imperfect a perfect state Can by 
no means be the consequence, for it is absolutely impossible 
that more should be in the effect than in the cause. It fol- 
lows, therefore, that if the state of the parents is morally im- 
perfect, that of the children must be so also, otherwise infants 
would be possessed of a perfection of which there is no nat- 
ural cause." " As, therefore, the connection between the 
moral state of children ah.d their parents is that of cause 
and effect, moral imperfection is propagated in the way of 
natural effect." According to this theory, the child is really 
the product of the parent — the parent the efficient cause of 
its existence. The parent expresses himself in the child, 
because the child is potentially included in him as a part of 
his own being. But in what sense is the parent the cause, 
of the child ? Does he produce by a conscious exercise of 
power and with a predetermined reference to the nature of 
the effect to be achieved ? Can he fix the sex, bodily con- 
stitution or personal features of his offspring? Can he 
determine the bias or extent of the intellectual capacities ? 
Has his Will anything to do with the actual shaping and 
moulding of the peculiarities which attach to the foetus ? He 
is in no other sense a cause than as an act of his constitutes 
the occasion upon which processes of nature begin entirely 
independently of his will, and these forces or laws of na- 
ture are the immediate causes of the origin, growth and de- 
velopment of the child in the womb. He simply touches a 
spring which sets powers at work that he can neither con- 
trol nor modify. He is only a link in a chain of instru- 
ments through which God calls into being; and the efficient 
power which gives rise to the effect is not in him, but in 
that great Being who holds all the forces of nature in His 
hands. It is, therefore, idle to say that the father makes 
the child, and can make him no better than he is himself — 
that he puts forth all his causal power, but as that is limited 
the results must bear the marks of the limitation. The 
relation of parents to children is not that of cause and effect ; 
they are the instruments or conditions of the existence of 


the offspring, but God may use an instrument to achieve 
results that very far transcend its OAvn nature or capacities. 

The other theories which we shall notice admit that the 
causal relation of the parent extends only to the body — that 
the soul is immediately created by God ; and contend that 
as created by Him it is uncontaminated, and account for 
its subsequent defilement in one or the other of the follow- 
ing ways : 

Pictet^ supposes that the mind of the mother during her 
pregnancy operates upon the mind of the 

Pictet's theory. , ., i i • i n^ 

child, and impresses the type oi lier own 
sinful thoughts ; as the imagination of the mother very fre- 
quently marks the body of her offspring with representations 
of the objects that had strongly affected herself. From this 
account women still have a grievous burden to bear — they 
are not only the authors of the first sin that was ever com- 
mitted, but they are the active instruments in the production 
of all the sin that still continues to afilict the world ! They 
make every other human being corrupt as they seduced 
Adam from his innocence ! But seriously, this theory is only 
a desperate resort. It was invented to save the consistency 
of speculative thought. And it cannot maintain itself with- 
out admitting that the soul is not created in its primitive 
condition ; it admits weakness independently of the mother, 
and a weakness which renders corruption absolutely certain. 
How God is vindicated in this aspect of the case it is hard 
to understand. 

The other explanation is that of Turrettin and Edwards, 
who contend that the soul is created spot- 
Jtnl andEdwlIr" less, yet it is destitute of original righteous- 
ness as a punishment of Adam's first sin ; 
and accordingly they distinguish between a soul's being 
pure, so as the soul of Adam was when it was first created — 
that is to say, not only sinless, but having habits or inclina- 
tions in its nature which inclined it to what was good — and 
its being created with a propensity or inclination to evil . . . 
* Pictel, vol. i., p. 446, seq. 


and as a medium between both those extremes in which the 
truth lies, they observe that tlie soul is created by God des- 
titute of original righteousness, unable to do what is truly 
good, and yet having no positive inclination or propensity 
in nature to what is evil.^ 

Upon this theory the notion of original guilt is su]5posed 
to involve no difficulty, but only the notion of original cor- 
ruption. It is taken for granted that there is no contradic- 
tion to God's holiness in treating a being as a sinner who 
has never sinned, but there is a contradiction to His holiness 
in making him a sinner. But where is the difference ? Sup- 
pose the being as coming from the hands of God is in fact 
spotless, how can he be treated as a sinner ? If not treated 
as a sinner, then there is no guilt ; and if no guilt, then no 
need of withholding original righteousness. 

In the next place, to be destitute of original righteousness 
is sin. That a moral, rational and accountable beina; should 
exist without a disposition to' love God and to reverence 
His holy law is itself to be in a positively unholy state. 
Want of conformity with the moral law is as truly sin as 
open and flagrant transgression. When these very men are 
arguing against i\\Q doctrine of the Papists, they insist upon 
the impossibility of an intermediate condition betwixt sin 
and holiness ; and yet when they wish to explain the mode 
of propagation of sin, they distinguish between simple nature 
and the moral qualities which perfect and adorn it, I do 
not see, therefore, that this theory obviates any difficulty at 

Suppose we should say that the principle of representation 
conditions the creation of the child in sin, that God gives 
him a being according to the determinations which the Cove- 
nant of Works requires, does that make God any more the 
author of sin than His daily and hourly conservation of sin- 
ners ? If they are to be at all, they must be sinners, because 
they are guilty in their federal head — they exist in the Di- 

1 See Edwards on Original Sin, p. 330, seq. ; also Turrettin, Loc. ix., 
Qu. 12, \ 8, 9, as quoted in Eidgley, vol. ii., p. 131, upon Question xxvi. 


vine mind as sinners. What contradiction, therefore, is there 
in realizing this decree of justice ? I confess that to me the 

whole difficulty lies in what to these di- 
liefwir'niputauol!^ viucs prescuts no difficulty at all— in the 

imputation of guilt. Grant that, and justice 
then demands, first, that men should exist, and secondly, 
that they should exist as sinners — that they should exist in 
an abnormal and perverted condition. Why should not God 
fulfil this requirement of justice? But it may be safest to 
treat the whole matter as an insoluble mystery. We know 
the fact that ^ye are born into the world in a state of sin 
and misery ; that we inherit from our parents a nature which 
is wholly destitute of original righteousness, and contains the 
ground of the most grievous departures from God — a nature 
which is absolutely unable to compass a single holy exercise. 
Whether our being is wholly derived from our parents, 
whether our souls are immediately created by God, whether 
defilement is consequent upon the union with the body, or 
the result of the generating act, or of the imagination of the 
mother, or of any other cause, it may be bootless to inquire. 
And on this subject the Reformed Church has settled nothing 
as the definite revelation of God. 

2. The question which we have now to discuss is, how 
that moral condition in which we are born, and which has 
been propagated to us independently of our own wills, can be 
truly and properly regarded as sin ; how that can be im- 

inited to us as guilt which we have inher- 

The flifficulty stated. T , , . . „ 

ited as the constitution of our nature, and 
not determined by the free decision of our own personality. 
Guilt presupposes causation by the agent — that he is the 
author of the actions or of the dispositions for which he is 
held responsible. " In the notion of sin," as Miiller^ very 
justly observes, " lies only the objective, namely the exist- 
ence of a fact, whether it be an act or condition contradic- 
tory to the Divine M'ill ; with the idea of guilt arises the sub- 
jective side, an author to whom it can be imputed." Hence, 
' Vol. i., p. 208. 


as he had previously stated, " the first element in the notion 
of guilt is this, that the given sin must be ascribed to the 
man in whom it is, as to its author." The notion of cau- 
sality as lying at the root of the notion of guilt he does not 
fail to notice as signalized by the Greek term for guilt, which 
has also the general signification of cause. It would seem, 
therefore, that where a given condition cannot be traced to 
him in Avhom it is found as its cause, where he receives it as 
a datum, and has neither directly nor indirectly procured it 
by his own agency, he cannot possibly be subject to the im- 
putation of guilt. Objectively considered, the state in ques- 
tion may have all the qualitative features of sin, it may be 
materially the stain and the blot, but, subjectively consid- 
ered, the man is rather a patient than an agent, rather suf- 
fers than does evil, and his condition accordingly is one of 
calamity and affliction, and not of sin. The difficulty is 
very pointedly put byMiiller:^ "Only a personal essence, 
and not a mere creature of nature, can render itself a sub- 
ject of guilt. This arises from the fact that only a personal 
essence is able to be the real author of its actions and states, 
so that they may be imputed to it. Where there is no per- 
sonality, consequently no freedom of the will whatever, there 
the power of an original self-determination is wanting ; that 
which here appears as a self-determining, if traced into its 
true causes, resolves itself into a being determined. Accord- 
ingly, actions and states can only in so far be considered as 
criminal as they have their ultimate, deciding ground in 
the self-determination of the subject. If, on the contrary, 
the subject is in them merely the transition point for deter- 
minations which it receives from another power, whether it 
be a power of nature or a personal one, then these his states 
and activities are not his fault, unless that by some preced- 
ing self-determination he had rendered himself open to the 
power of such determining influence upon him. Now, the 
dogma of original sin teaches that the iurooted sinfulness, 
which according to the canon. Semper cum raalo origlnall simul 
1 Vol. ii., p. 340. 


sunt peceata actuaUa, necessarily produces all kinds of sin, 
is in us according to its universal, everywhere equal nature, 
solely as the consequence of the first sin of the parents of 
our race. But if this sinfulness is in us solely by the action 
of other individuals without our own aid, then it cannot be 
imputed to us as its authors, but only to those individuals ; 
it is then in us not as guilt, but solely as evil and calamity. 
Moreover, in all the actual sins which arise out of this sin- 
fulness, it is not strictly speaking w'e wdio act, but the first 
of mankind by us ; but how" then should our apparent 
action still be real sin on account of which we may become 
reprobated ?" 

Such is the difficulty. Perhaps the most satisfactory 
method of aj)proaching the solution, will 

Is hereditary de- i n j. j. ' • 'xi-l j.* I» 

pravity really sin? ^C, first, tO lUqUirC DltO the qUCStlOU of 

fact whether hereditary depravity is or is 
not really sin — that is, is or is not damnable in the sight of 
God. Does it make a man guilty of death ? 

The Papists are reluctant to condemn it as- chargeable 
with guilt, especially as it manifests itself in the involuntary 
excitations of the regenerate. Its first motions in them they 
do not represent as sin, but only the encouragement which is 
given by the will to these irregular impulses. Bellarmin^ 

indeed admits that concupiscence is non- 

Bellarmin's views. , .iii n.-i^i 

conformity with the law, and sin, if these 
words be taken largely and improperly, as every vice and 
departure from rule and order, not only in manners, but also 
in nature and art, may be called sin. But in a strict and 
proper sense the determinations of sin cannot be applied to 
the yet unsanctified nature of those who have been renewed 
by baptism. " We assert," says he, " that corruption of na- 
ture or concupiscence, such as remains in the regenerate after 
baptism, is not original sin, not only because it is not im- 
puted, but because it cannot be imputed, since it is not in its 
own nature sin." And the Council of Trent declares that it 

^ De Amiss. Grat., lib. v., cap. xiv. Controv., torn, iv., cap. vii. De 
Moor, cap. xv., § xxiii. 


is, in the Scripture, called sin, not because it is sin, but be- 
cause it springs from sin and leads to sin : Ex peccato est et 
ad peccatum indinat. The Remonstrants in their Apology 
articulately maintain " that original sin is 

The Eenioiistrants. "^ _ ° 

not to be considered sin in the sense that it 
renders the race unworthy of the Divine favour, or exposes 
them to punishment in the strict and proper sense, as con- 
tradistinguished from calamity ; but it is to be viewed only 
as evil, infirmity, misfortune — it brings with it no guilt." 
^ . ^ , Limborch,^ one of the most learned of the 


Remonstant divines, repeatedly enounces 
the doctrine that what is natural cannot be sinful, and that 
the imbecility under which the posterity of Adam labours, and 
which, he thinks, has been grievously exaggerated by the 
Reformed theologians, cannot be properly associated with 
the notion of guilt. He admits that human nature has been 
injured by the fell; that we are born with appetites less 
pure than those of our first parents ; that there is a stronger 
inclination to evil, in consequence of which Ave are seduced 
into sin with less provocation ; but still he maintains that 
this concupiscence, in as far as it is natural, and not a habi- 
tude contracted by our own voluntary acts, cannot be pro- 
perly denominated sin. The fundamental position of the 
Arminian school, that ability is the measure of duty, neces- 
sitates this conclusion. Whatever has not freely originated 
from ourselves cannot be imputed to ourselves; it is not 
ours, but must be attributed to the cause which really deter- 
^ . , mined it. The language of Zwino-le,^ too, 

Zwingle. ^ o o & ? ) 

however it has been attempted to explain 
away its obvious import, conveys the same idea. He styles 
original sin as a disease, and not as strictly and properly sin. 
™, „ , , ,. . On the other hand, the Reformed divines 

Tlie Reformed divines. _ ' 

have uniformly maintained that the de- 
praved condition in which all the descendants of Adam are 
born is not only the fruitful parent of sin, but is in its own 
nature sin, and makes the man truly guilty before God. It 

1 Limborch, lib. iii., c. 3, H- ^ De Moor, cap. sv., | xxiii. 

Vol. I.— 22 


is itself damnable iu its being, motions and ret^ults, and 

without any actual transgression is a just ground of exclusion 

from the favour of God. This conclusion 

Testimony of the • n .•ni,i ,,• p 

Scriptures. ^^ equally sustained by the testnnony oi 

Scripture and the authority of conscience. 
It is admitted by Bellarmin and the Council of Trent that 
the word of God pronounces it to be sin. The whole argu- 
ment in the seventh chapter of Romans proceeds upon the 
supposition not only that it is evil, calamity, misfortune, but 
that it is guilt ; that it makes a man damnable — the subject 
of the righteous retribution of death. The declaration of 
Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians, that we are by nature 
the children of wrath, can by no possibility be evaded. We 
are there expressly said to be under the condemnation of 
God, on account of the condition in which we are born. 
David, too, aggravates the guilt of his actual sin, in the fifty- 
first Psalm, by tracing it back to the sinful principles which 
he inherited from his mother's womb. The whole treatment 
of our natural condition in the New Testament is grounded 
in the notion that it is a state of guilt ; that our imbecility 
is blameworthy ; and that it has to be dealt with not as 
disease, but as moral perversion and disorder. All the pro- 
visions of grace imply this, or are utterly unintelligible. 

Then, again, if the Scripture definitions of sin are to be 
Argument from maintained, they cannot but include our 
Scripture definitious native corruptiou. It surely is want of 
conformity with the law. It is the very 
defect which the law stigmatizes as the form of sin. Wher- 
ever there is not conformity, there is and must be sin in a 
subject capable of obedience. The man who is not what he 
ought to be, or who is what he ought not to be, the Bible 
uniformly treats as a sinner, and takes for granted that in 
some way or other the blame must be ultimately visited upon 
himself. It knows nothing of a non-conformity which is 
innocent. It assumes that the fact must always be grounded 
in guilt. 

In the third place, if original corruption were not sin, it 


would be difficult to explain how the acts to which it excites, 
and which are only the outward expressions 
from Scripture^"'"''" ^'^ itself, could bc Considered sinful. If the 
original imjjulse is innocent, how can its 
gratification be sin ? How can its motions and excitations 
undergo a change in their own nature in consequence of their 
being humoured or encouraged ? There is surely no harm 
in yielding to the suggestions of innocent impulses. The 
Saviour teaches us to judge of the tree by its fruits. When 
the fruits are good, the tree is good. The Arminian tells us 
that all trees are in themselves good, but that some are un- 
fortunately afflicted Avith evil fruits ; yet that the evil is 
only in the fruit. 

In the last place, original sin is certainly visited with 
death, and if death be the exponent of 

A fourth argument 'ixj.! ••!• . i •, ^ 

from Scripture gui^*^ ^lien Original sm must make its sub- 

ject guilty. 
Our own consciences are equally explicit with the Scrip- 
tures. They condemn the dis230sitions and 
habitudes which are grounded in our na- 
ture as the very core of the sinfulness 
which appears in our life. It is the malice, the hardness 
of heart, the insensibility, the unbelief, which cleave to us 
as the legacy of birth, which constitute the very life of our 
wickedness. The disposition or principle determines the 
moral significancy of the act ; the state of mind which lies 
at the root of the will conditions the degree of guilt which 
attaches to the act. The awakened sinner is particularly 
struck with the appalling wickedness involved in the fixed, 
abiding condition of his soul. His attention may first be 
arrested by his transient acts, but under the guidance of the 
Spirit he is soon led to inspect the moral attitude of his 
heart, and to pronounce the sentence of the prophet, " the 
heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." 
Conscience condemns us, then, for what we are no less un- 
equivocally than for what we do. We cannot, therefore, 
evade the conclusion that native corruption is sin ; that it 

Testimony of our 
own conscience. 


carries with it exposure to the Divine condemnation ; that 
it ends in death. Scripture and conscience cannot tolerate 
the palliatives of a deceitful philosophy ; they know noth- 
ing of a heart destitute of love to God as only unfortunate 
and not criminal, and they never deal with unbelief as in- 
firmity, but not guilt. Both, in directing us to look at our 
nature, stop our mouths and compel us to acknowledge that 
we deserve to die. 

It is an important point to have clearly settled in the 

These testimonies J^i"^^ ^^^^^ Original siu is accompauied with 

prove that original il] dcscrt. It establishes beyond the possi- 

sin involves guilt. m-i- /»iii • i 

sibility ot doubt that m some way or other 
we must be the responsible authors of it. Conscience in 
condemning us as guilty on account of it, and the Word of 
God in ratifying that sentence, pronounce us at the same 
time to be the voluntary cause of its existence. Other- 
wise there would be a palpable contradiction. Even if it 
were granted that we are utterly unable to detect the causal 
relation, if it eludes our closest scrutiny, if the result of all 
philosophical inquiry gives only the appearance of our being 
absolutely conditioned by a foreign agency, — still, we should 
not be authorized to contradict a fundamental deliverance 
of conscience on account of our inability to apprehend the 
grounds of its truth. It must be assumed as unquestion- 
able, whether we can explain it or not. Its voice is final, 
whether we can understand the reason of its verdict or not. 
If conscience says that we are guilty on account of our 
native turpitude, that is a declaration that we stand in a 
personal relation to it which makes it justly imputable to 
us as our fault. We have in some way or other procured 

it. Now the question arises, How and 
procured? ^^^ ^'^^ ' when ? It is perfectly clear that if it must 

be ascribed to us, it must either be in con- 
sequence of some voluntary act of ours or in consequence of 
the voluntary act of another that can be justly construed as 
ours. A sinful state can only spring from a sinful act. It 
is always the penal visitation of transgression. Original 

Lect. xiil] original sin. 341 

sill, therefore, as a permanent, abiding condition mnst be 
penal, as Augustin and the Reformers persistently assert, or 
it cannot be sin at all. The sinful act which produced it 
must have been the personal decision of each human will — 
that is, each man must have fallen by his own personal 
transgression — or it must be the act of another so related to 
us as that we may be held accountable for 

Only two supposi- •, npi • xi • i 

tions possible. ^^- J-^^ere IS no third supposition possi- 

ble — no medium betwixt our own act and 
the act of another. 

Shall we say, then, that each man fell for himself? That 

would necessitate the notion of a state of existence prior to 

our birth in this world ; of an ante-mun- 

Ante-mundane pro- i ij- • i-i n •■! -i -i 

batiou. dane probation m which we failed, and 

the consequence of w^hich is the disordered 
condition in which we find ourselves beginnino; our earthlv 
life. There have been intrepid logicians who have reso- 
lutely followed up the datum of conscience in relation to 
the guilt of original sin, and have found in it the unquali- 
fied assertion that we lived, moved and willed before we 
were born. The reasoning is short and apparently decisive. 
Our nature is sinful ; it could not have been made so with- 
out our act ; that act which corrupted the nature could not 
have taken place in time, for the corruption begins with our 
life in time ; there must, therefore, have been a transcendent 
existence in which this indispensable prerequisite of original 
sin was realized. 

There are many phenomena connected with our present 
mundane life Avhicli the deepest thinkers have felt them- 
selves unable to comprehend without the supposition of a 
pre-existent state. Pythagoras, it is well 

Pythagoras. | i i i ^ O 7 

known, looked upon the present as a penal 
condition to which we were degraded for our abuse of a 
higher and nobler state. Plato felt him- 
self equally at a loss to explain the pheno- 
mena of knowledge or of sin Avithout the same presuppo- 


sition. Origen could find satisfaction in dealing with the 
delivei'ances of the human conscience, and 

Origen. , ... . . r- o • i 

the explicit testimonies oi fecripture, only 
by adopting the same hypothesis. " Kant, despairing of 
finding liberty anywhere in the iron chain 
of motive and action as stretching from the 
beginning to the end of our empirical existence, sought it in 
the higher world of the unconditioned ; and 
Schelling, as early as 1809, in his cele- 
brated essay on Freedom, in which he traced sin to a prin- 
ciple of darkness existing in God, and uniting itself with 
the free-will of man, expressly declared that original sin 
was committed by every man before his temporal being, and 
drew all the sins of life after it with rigorous necessity. 
Life was ]:)0und, but it was bound by an antecedent act of 
liberty, and thus the intuitions of conscience were defended 
by a bulwark too high for the reach of skepticism, and free- 
will stood invincible with its back to the wall of eternity,"^ 
Miiller, in his great work on Sin, finds 
himself driven by the exigencies of con- 
sistent speculation to a timeless state in which each man by 
his own free act conditioned his moral development in time. 
But there are insuperable objections to such a scheme. 
In the first place, the notion of a timeless 
,:::J::^:^1 existence is Itself utterly unintelligible. 
Every finite being is conditioned, and con- 
ditioned both by time and space, and an intelligible world 
of real substantive existences without temporal relations is 
altogether contradictory. 

In the next place, it is wholly unaccountable how such a 
state, signalized by so momentous an act as that which pro- 
duced original depravity, has so entirely passed from the 
memory as to leave no trace behind. Surely, if anything 
had impressed itself upon our minds, such a condition, so 
different from the present and so fruitful in its consequences, 
could not have failed to be remembered. If there had been 
1 North British Kev., 1850. 


such a state, the Scriptures woukl not only have recognized 
it, but pressed it upon us as a full vindication of the justice 
of God in His dealings with the race. The recollection of 
this primitive act of freedom would have silenced all cavils, 
stopped every mouth, and explained to every human soul 
how and when it became the author of its own ruin. 

But the doctrine is palpably inconsistent with the Scrip- 
ture account concerning the origin of the 

Totally inconsistent i • i , i i t , . . 

with Scripture. numau species, and the moral condition m 

which the first of the race began his mun- 
dane being. We must look for that act which entails our 
depravity in the sphere of time and in the sphere of temporal 
conditions. We cannot carry human existence beyond 
Adam, nor Adam's existence beyond that creative fiat 
which gave him his being on the sixth day. Then and 
there the species began and began holy. The Scriptures 
further inform us when and where and how he lost his in- 
tegrity. From the time of his disobedience in the garden 
in eating the forbidden fruit he and all the race have borne 
the type of sin. There has been no holiness in the species 
from that hour to this unless as supernaturally produced by 
the grace of God. It would seem, therefore, that the all- 
conditioning act which has shaped the moral impress of the 
race was no other than the act which lost to Adam the image 
of his God. And such seems to be the explicit testimony 
of Scripture : " By one man's disobedience many were made 
sinners." Either we are guilty of that act, tlierefore, or 
original corruption in us is simply misfortune and not sin. 
In some way or other it is ours, justly imputable to us, or 
we are not and cannot be born the children of wrath. We 
must contradict every Scripture text and every Scripture 
doctrine which makes hereditary impurity hateful to God 
and punishable in His sight, or we must maintain that we 
sinned in Adam in his first transgression. There human 
sin historically began. Before that time the sijecies was 
holy ; since that time there has been none that doeth good, 
no, not one. That, therefore, is the decisive act — that was 


tlic point on which the destinies of the race turned. Btit 
the question arises, How could that act have been ours in 
such a sense as to justify the imputation of guilt? What 
causal agency could we possibly have had in bringing it 
about ? Was Adam ourselves, or were ourselves Adam, or 
Our relation to Adam could wc and hc bc personally ouc ? Let 
as a ground for impu- ^g look at our relation to him, and see if 

we can find anything in which to ground 
the notion of our participating in the guilt of his trans- 

In the first place, he was the natural head of his posterity 

— the father of all mankind. But the act 

Adam our natural t} j. • j. l j.1 x l" 

,jp,^j, 01 a parent is not by any means the act oi 

the child. If the parental relation, such as 
it now obtains in the species, exhausted Adam's relations to 
the race, it would be impossible to explain how they could 
be guilty on account of his sin, or why they should be guilty 
on account of the first sin xather than any other. Even if it 
were granted that as a father he must propagate his own 
moral features, his children would receive them simply as a 
nature, without being blamable on account of them, as a 
child might innocently inherit a distorted body which the 
parent had brought upon himself by guilt. The natural re- 
lation is, therefore, wholly incompetent to bear the load of 
hereditary sin. There must be something more than parent 
and child in the case. It is vain to appeal to those analogies 
in which the offspring share in the sufferings incurred by the 
wickedness of their fathers. The offspring indeed suffer, 
but they do not charge themselves with blame — they have 
no sense of ill desert. They look upon their sufferings dis- 
tinctly as calamities, and not as punishments to them, though 
they may be punishments of their fathers through them. 
In the next place, Adam was the federal liead or repre- 
sentative of his race. He was on probation 
head'''" ""■" '''""'' for them, as well as for himself, in the 
Covenant of Works. He was not a private 
individual — he was the type of universal humanity. In 


him God was dealing witli all who should afterward spring 
from his loins. Now, that he sustained this relation is clear 
from the explicit testimony of the Scriptures ; and that it, 
if justly founded, is adequate to solve the problem of hered- 
itary guilt, is beyond dispute. If Adam were the agent of 
us all, his act was legally and morally ours. Qui factt per 
alium, fac'd jjer se. 

The only question is. Whether this federal relation is 
founded in justice? We have already 

Is this founded in j.i x j.1 • • ^ • i? 1 

• jgjj^gj seen that the principle is one ot benevo- 

lence, and furnishes the only hope for the 
absolute safety of any portion of mankind. Without this 
principle, the whole race might have perished without the 
possibility of redemption. But its benevolent tendencies 
are no proof of its essential justice. Can we vindicate it 
upon principles of reason? Is there any such union in the 
nature of things betwixt Adam and his descendants as to 
justify a constitution in which he and they are judicially 
treated as one ? An affirmative answer has 

Two grounds. . 

been given on two grounds: 1. I hat oi 
generic unity ; and 2. That of a Divine constitution. 

If a fundamental unity subsisted betwixt Adam and his 
species, it is clear that he could be justly 
fuIdamel'tTunUy. "" ^Icalt with as the federal head or represent- 
ative of the race. He was the race, and 
therefore could fairly be treated as the race. What he did, 
it did ; his act was the act of Mankind, and his fall was the 
fall of ]Man. There was no fiction of law ; there was no ar- 
bitrary arrangement when he was made the representative 
of all who were to descend from him by ordinary generation. 
There was a real and an adequate foundation in nature for 
that covenant under which he was put upon trial, not only 
for himself, but for all his posterity. 

Relation of the fed- HcrC, toO, WC SCC thc prCcisC rclatioU of 

era! to the natural tlic federal aud natural union betwixt Adam 

and the race. The federal presupposes the 

natural. The federal is the public recognition of the fact 


implied in the natural, and is a scheme or dispensation of 
religion founded upon it. If there were not a real unity 
betwixt Adam and the race, the covenant of works could not, 
by an arbitrary constitution, treat them as one. In the no- 
tion of a generic identity of human nature, both ideas blend 
into one. Adam's sin becomes imj)utable, and as guilt in 
him becomes the parent of depravity in them. Hence, in 
the order of thought, his sin must always be conceived as 
imputed before they can be conceived as depraved. They 
must be regarded as guilty before they can reap the penal 
consequence of guilt. 

By this doctrine of imputation the testimony of conscience 
is completely harmonized. It makes us 

The testimony of con- . t ., ,i i^ i^ 

science harmonized. recogmze our dcpravity as the result of our 
own voluntary act; it was our voluntary 
act in the sense in which Adam and we were one. It makes 
us pronounce ourselves guilty on account of the corrujition 
of our nature, and to the extent of our participation in the 
generic character of the race we are blameworthy. We 
are responsible for this as we are responsible for every habit 
contracted by our own voluntary acts. 

The only point in which this explanation fails to give 
satisfaction is in relation to the question whether the notion 
of generic unity is an adequate basis for grounding a per- 
sonal participation in the sin of Adam. In consequence of 
this difficulty, one class of theologians has 
diSfbuf hnn"edire^ rccoilcd from tlic doctriuc of the immediate 
imputation of Adam's first sin, and resolved 
the guilt of native depravity into our subsequent concurrence 
in it. That is, it becomes sin in us only by our free consent 
to its impulses — we make it sin by endorsing it. But if it 
be given to us as a part of our constitution without any fault 
justly chargeable upon us, it is hard to understand how a 
life s]3ontaneously manifesting itself in conformity Avith ex- 
isting conditions can be criminal in man any more than in 
the brute, unless the whole of his moral probation be sum- 
med up in the duty of resisting his nature. If sin only then 

according to the Scrip- 

Lect. xiil] original sin. 347 

begins wheu his will has adoptedlhe suggestions of corrupt 
lust, then it is implied that not only up to that point he is 
innocent, but that he is fully competent to mortify the flesh 
and extirpate his depravity. If he has not the power to re- 
sist and subdue, if his will is mastered by his nature, it is 
clear that the same reasoning which exempted native cor- 
ruption from the imputation of guilt, must also exempt all 
the acts necessitated by it. To maintain a will stronger 
than depravity is contrary to the whole teaching of Scripture 
concerning the extent and degree of that depravity, and is 
also inconsistent with the doctrine of the necessity of redemp- 
tion. Unless therefore we begin with guilt, we can never 
end with guilt. Either Adam's sin must be imputed, or all 
his race must be pronounced free from aught that is blame- 
worthy or deadly. Hence, the Scriptures 
teach exjjlicitly that we are first charged 
with the guilt of Adam's sin, and then, as 
the legal consequence, are born with natures totally corru])t. 
The matter may be put in another light. The disobedi- 
ence of Adam was, unquestionably, the be- 

Another statement • • r • ' j.1 rri. j. T 1 T 

of the case giuning 01 SHi u\ the race. Ihat disobedi- 

ence determined the moral habitude or 
condition of his own soul, and determined it by a judicial 
sentence. He lost the image of God because he was guilty. 
The whole human race are born destitute of that image. 
Now, their destitution is beyond doubt the consequence of 
his sin. In what way or on what principle the consequence ? 
There are but two possible suppositions : a consequence 
either implying or not implying blameworthiness in them 
— a mere process of nature or a decree of justice. If a mere 
process of nature, then their existence absolutely begins with 
their birth, and the state in which they find themselves is 
an appointment of God analogous to that which determines 
the qualities of a tree or the propensities of a beast. They 
are just what God made them. But it can be no sin to re- 
ceive a nature which you cannot determine. If now the 
nature conditions the life, there can be no sin in that life in 


as far as it answers to the nature. If, on the other hand, 
our depravity is the judicial consequence of the first trans- 
gression, then it supposes not only that we existed, but that 
we acted, in Adam ; and then we have a point for all the 
subsequent determinations of guilt. The nature is wicked 
in me on the same principle that it was wicked in Adam — 
it was contracted by a wicked act. 

Others are content with the general statement of Adam's 

natural and federal relations to the race, 
ment!' """"'^'^ ^*^*''" witliout attempting to explain how the one 

is grounded in and justified by the other. 
They are willing to admit that the existence of every indi- 
vidual begins at the moment of his personal manifestation 
in time. But they contend that the judicial sentence of the 
covenant conditions the type of that manifestation, and ne- 
cessitates the appearance of every descendant of Adam as a 
sinner. If asked, Whether representation can be arbitrary? 
they answer. No ; there must be a bond between the head and 
the members. If asked. What is the tie between Adam and 
his race ? they answer. That of blood. His natural headship 
fits and qualifies him for federal headship. This theory, in 
avoiding the metaphysics of personal unity, and resolving 
the whole connection into a moral and political community 
founded in blood, has some advantages. It is justified by 
many analogies — by the present constitution of families, 
commonwealths and states — and avoids the difficulty growing 
out of the limitation of Adam's influence upon us as to his 
first sin. But it has also serious drawbacks. It does not 
explain the sense of guilt as connected with depravity of 
nature — how the feeling of ill desert can arise in relation to 
a state of mind of which the subjects have been only passive 
recipients. The child does not reproach himself for the 
afflictions which his father's follies have brought upon him ; 
and the subject does not feel that he is punished in the ca- 
lamities which a wicked ruler brings upon a nation. He 
makes a marked distinction between those ills which he ex- 
periences in consequence of his social and political connec- 


tions with others, and those which he experiences in conse- 
quence of his own fault. Our inborn corruption we do feel 
to be our fault — it is our crime as well as our shame. Be- 
sides, this theory fails to explain the necessity of spiritual 
death. It does not show why God, in justice, must renounce 
the communion of those who are still personally innocent 
while putatively guilty. He might visit them with evil as 
a magistrate, and still treat them with sympathy and love 
in their personal characters. They might suffer without be- 
coming depraved. If they are not in themselves the proper 
objects of odium, why should they be hated ? These are 
difficulties connected with the account which recognizes no 
deeper unity than the natural and political. This theory, 
however, is the one commonly accepted in this country. Its 
simplicity recommends it. But I confess the leaning of my 
own mind to some theory which shall carry back our exist- 
ence to the period of Adam's probation. 

On these grounds I am free to confess that I cannot escape 
from the doctrine, however mysterious, of 

Generic unity the ... , ^ . n 

true basis. ^ geucric uuity m man as the true basis of 

the representative economy in the covenant 
of works. The human race is not an aggregate of separate 
and independent atoms, but constitutes an organic whole, 
with a common life springing from a common ground. 
There is an unity in the whole species ; there is a point in 
which all the individuals meet, and through which they are 
all modified and conditioned. Society exerts even a more 
powerful influence upon the individual than the individual 
upon society, and every community impresses its own pecu- 
liar type upon the individuals who are born into it. This 
is the secret of the peculiarities of national character. 
There was one type among the Greeks, another among the 
Asiatics, and still another among the Romans. The Eno-- 
lishman is easily distinguished from the Frenchman, the 
Chinese from the European, and the Negro from all. In 
the same way there is a type of life common to the entire 
race in which a deeper ground of uuity is recognized than 


that which attaches to national associations or the narrower 
ties of kindred and blood. There is in man what we may 
call a common nature. That common nature is not a mere 
generalization of logic, but a substantive reality. It is the 
ground of all individual existence, and conditions the type 
of its development. The parental relation expresses, but 
does not constitute it — propagates, but does not create it. In 
birth there is the manifestation of the individual from a na- 
ture-basis which existed before. Birth consequently does not 
absolutely begin, but only individualizes humanity. As, 
then, descent from Adam is the exponent of a potential exist- 
ence in him, as it is the revelation of a fact in relation to the 
nature which is individualized in a given case, it constitutes 
lawful and just ground for federal representation. God can 
deal with the natural as a covenant head, because the natural 
relation proceeds upon an union which justifies the moral. 

The second explanation is that of Edwards, who endea- 
vours to reduce all identity to an arbitrary 
arbUraJconsutuUoT. coustitutiou of God, and finds the same 
ultimate ground of the personal unity of 
Adam and the race as for the personal identity of the same 
individual in diiFerent periods of his existence, or the con- 
tinued identity of the same substance in the successive 
changes of its being. This doctrine is unquestionably a 
paradox, and, however ingeniously put, sets at defiance the 
plainest intuitions of intelligence. 

But it may be asked. Do you mean to say that each indi- 
vidual will actually expressed itself in the prevarication of 
Adam — that each man actually ate of the forbidden fruit ? 
As individuals certainly not ; as individuals none of us then 
existed. In our separate and distinct capacity his sin was 
no more ours than our sins are his. But as the race, which 
was then realized in him as it is now realized in all its in- 
dividuals, his act was ours. How the individual is related 
to the genus, how the genus contains it, and how the indi- 
vidual is evolved from it, are questions which I am utterly 
unable to solve. But their mystery is no prejudice to their 


truth. Our moral convictions demand that we should pre- 
dicate such an unity of mankind; and 

Mystery, no preju- xU U •in. 

dice to truth. tJiougli a great mystery itself, it serves to 

clear up other mysteries which are pitch 
darkness without it. 

If this account of the representative principle should be 
rejected, we can only fall back upon the testimony of Scrip- 
ture, and treat it as an ultimate fact in the moral govern- 
ment of God until a satisfactory explanation can be given. 
We must accept it as we accept other first principles, and 
patiently wait until the difficulties connected with it are dis- 
sipated by further light. It does explain hereditary sin and 
hereditary guilt ; it does unlock the mystery of God's deal- 
ing with the race ; it does meet all the requirements of con- 
science in reference to our own moral state and condition. 
^^ ,^ , ^11 that it leaves unsolved is the ground 

The theory of rep- ^ . . ° v^^ii^i 

reseutation alone con- 01 its owii righteousucss. Every othcr 
InironSrcr t^^^^y ^^ obliged to deny native depravity, 
and to contradict at once the explicit teach- 
ings of Scripture and the articulate enunciations of con- 



WE liavc now traced the history of man, and of God's 
dealings with him, from Creation to the Fall. We 
have seen him in his primitive innocence when he walked 
in the light of his Creator's countenance, was regaled wuth 
the beauties of nature, received the homage of the creatures, 
and exulted in the prospect of a blessed immortality. He 
was at once a king and a priest — a king to whom the garden 
was a palace, and who exercised undisputed dominion over 
every lower rank of sublunary being — a priest in the great 
temple of nature, Avho gathered first from the fullness of 
his own heart, and then from the various perfections of the 
creatures, the manifold praises of God and poured them forth 
in doxology and adoration into the ears of the Eternal. He 
occujiied a noble elevation. He had a grand destiny before 
him. But how 

" Little knows 
Any, but God alone, to value right 
The good before him, but perverts best things 
To worst abuse or to their meanest use !" ^ 

The scene becomes woefully changed, and instead of truth, 
justice, innocence and sanctitude severe, we are presented 
with the brood of ills that have sprung from the pregnant 
womb of sin. We must now survey the race amid the ruins 
of the fall, and we must never lose sight of the consideration 
that the condition in which we now find ourselves is one of 
condemnation and of guilt. The frowning aspect of Provi- 
1 Par. Lost, iv., 1. 201-204. 


dence which so often darkens our world and appals our 

minds, receives its only adequate solution in the fact that 

the fall has fearfully changed the relations of God and the 

creature. We are manifestly treated as 

state of sin. ... , , 

criminals under guard. We are dealt 
with as guilty, faithless, suspected beings that cannot be 
trusted for a moment. Our earth has been turned into a 
jjrison, and sentinels are posted around us to awe, rebuke 
and check us. Still, there are traces of our ancient gran- 
deur ; there is so much consideration shown to us as to jus- 
tify the impression that these prisoners were once kings, 
and that this dungeon was once a palace. To one unac- 
quainted with the history of our race the dealings of Provi- 
dence in regard to us must appear inexplicably mysterious. 
The whole subject is covered with light when the doctrine 
Theological import- 0^ ^hc Fall is uudcrstood. The gravest 
auce of the doctrine of thcological crroi's witli rcspcct alike to the 

character of God and the character of man 
have arisen from the monstrous hypothesis that our present 
is our primitive condition, that Ave are now what God origi- 
nally made us, and that the exactions of his law have always 
been addressed to the circumstances of disadvantage and im- 
becility which now unquestionably attach to us. This were 
surely to cast a grave imputation upon the Judge of all the 
earth ; and so strongly has the injustice of such an adminis- 
tration been felt that others have not scrupled to modify 
the principles of the Divine government so as to make them 
square with the imperfect condition of the species. It can- 
not be denied that if the present be assumed as our natural 
state, it is impossible to vindicate God's justice if he con- 
demn us for that which He Himself of His own sovereign 
will implanted in us, and equally impossible to vindicate 
His holiness in implanting sin within us, or in not punish- 
ing it when He finds it there. Most of the errors touchinsr 
human ability have arisen from inattention to the relations 
in which the fall has placed us to God. The whole doctrine 
of redemption is conditioned upon these relations, and we 

Vol. I.— 23 


can therefore neither know ourselves, nor God, nor the Re- 
deemer, without the knowledge of the moral features of our 
present state. It is represented in the Scriptures as a state 
of sin aud misery, and our own experience abundantly jus- 
tifies the melancholy record. But if we would compass in 
any just measure the magnitude of our ruin, we must in- 
quire into the nature of sin, and see whence it derives its 
malignity and bitterness ; we must then survey the extent 
to which we are involved in sin, and trace the steps by 
which we have sunk to this degree of degradation ; we 
must finally vindicate the justice and goodness of God in 
His dispensations toward us, and when we have taken this 
wide survey, we may return prepared to appreciate the bless- 
ings of the Gospel. 

I. The first point to be considered is the nature of sin, or 
the answer to the question, What is sin? 

What is sin? rr^^ r' i i • i • • 

The first and most obvious determuiation 
of it, and that to which the mind instantly reverts, is its re- 
lation to the moral law. Where there is 

First: Objective tie- i xi a j.i j.1 i 

terminations. "^ ^^^^f ^lic Apostlc assurcs US there can be 

no transgression. The moral law is the 
standard, or measure, by which the man must l^e tried. It 
prescribes alike what he is required to be and what he is re- 
quired to do. It extends to the whole sphere of his volun- 
tary being. It is the mould into which his w*hole life must 
be run. Whatever, therefore, in him is not in accordance 
with the law is sin. Hence, sin is described by John as 
being essentially dvojAa — a state of non-conformity wdth the 
law. It is a matter of no consequence how 
JnolT^uZluZ. the law is made known, whether through 
the operations of conscience or an express 
revelation from God ; its authority does not depend upon 
the mode of announcing it, but upon its inherent nature as 
the standard and measure of moral rectitude. No matter 
how proclaimed, the soul of man instantly resj)onds to it as 
holy and just and good. He feels that it speaks Avith au- 
thority, aud that perfection neither in being nor condition 


can be attained to apart from its requisitions. "Wlien the 
question is asked, What does the law demand ? some have 
sought to restrict it to external actions, others have con- 
fined it to chosen and deliberate purposes, but it is generally 
maintained that its domain is coextensive with the domain 
of the will. That it is not to be limited to external acts is 
evident from all those testimonies of Scripture which affirm 
it to be spiritual, and from the universal conscience of the 
race, which condemns the motive even more severely than 
the act, and conditions the morality of the agent more by his 
purposes than his actual doings. When, however, the obli- 
gation of the law is said to be measured bv the extent of the 
will, the statement is not to be accepted without an explana- 
tion. If by will is meant only the conscious volitions, or the 
conscious preferences of the man, the statement is quite too 
narrow. Those states or habitual dispositions from which 
these conscious preferences proceed, those permanent condi- 
tions of the mind which determine and shape every motive 
and every act of choice, are as truly within the jurisdiction 
of the law as the volitions themselves. There is a something 
which we ought to be as well as a something which we 
ought to do. The law is as much the rule of our being as 
of our life. If it should be asked how we can become re- 
sponsible for original habits and dispositions which exist 
prior to any exercise of will, and condition and determine 
all its choices, we must either resolve the thing into a primi- 
tive and inexplicable deliverance of our moral nature, or 
presuppose that, in our primitive state, these constitutional 
peculiarities are the result of an act of will. Man was made 
without any tendencies to evil ; these he has superinduced 
upon himself by voluntary transaction, and they are, there- 
fore, related to the will as its prosier product. This is evi- 
dently the case in relation to acquired habits ; they spring, 
in the first instance, from the will, and afterwards master it. 
So the whole inheritance of native depravity which we bring 
with us into the world, with all those tendencies to evil 
which hold the will in bondage, arc the fruits of a free act 


of choice. But whatever may be the exjjlanation, Scripture 
and experience concur in attributing a moral significancy to 
the dispositions which, in our present state, lie back of the 
will. The malice which prompts to murder is as hateful as 
the murderous deed ; the propensity which kindles at temp- 
tation is something more than a weakness — it is a positive 

If now the law regulates the being and the life of man, it 
is clear that our first determination of sin, taken from its 
relation to the law, extends its sphere to the inward condi- 
tion as well as the outward expression of the soul — to the 
state of the heart as Avell as to the actions of the life. What- 
ever is not in exact accordance with the spirit and temper 
of the law, whatever is out of harmony with it, either in the 
way of defect, omission or overt transgression, is of the 
formal nature of sin. 

But sin is not distinguished from a crime, or an immoral- 
ity, or a vice, by this determination. We 

It is disobedience to j.ii ±t i j_i/* 

(Jq^ must add anotner element beiore non-con- 

formity with the law is entitled to be called 
sin. That term indicates a special relation to God — nothing 
is sin which does not directly or indirectly terminate in Him. 
Hence, the law must be considered as the expression of His 
will, and then our determination by the external standard 
or measure is complete, and sin, as transgression of the law, 
becomes disobedience to God. It is the want of correspond- 
ence betwixt His will and ours. But when we have reached 
this point, do we feel that our inquiries are satisfied ? Is it 
enough to say that such is the will of God, or such is the 
law, to satisfy the demands of our moral nature ? Must we 
not go further, and inquire into the grounds of that will ? 
Is it arbitrary, capricious, and can moral distinctions be 
created by a simple act of the Divine will considered with- 
out reference to any ulterior ground or motive ? As moral 
character in man depends upon dispositions and principles 
back of his volitions, must there not be something analo- 
gous in God, something in the very nature and grounds of 


His being wliich determines His will to command and for- 
bid what it does ? Unquestionably there is ; it is the holi- 
ness of the Divine nature, that essential rectitude of His 
being, which constitutes His glory and without which we 
could not conceive Him to be an object of worship or reve- 
rential trust. Holiness is represented in the Scriptures as 
the very life of God. In all other beings it is an accident 
separable from the essence ; in God it is His very self It 
pervades all His other attributes and perfections, and makes 
them to be pre-eminently divine. His infinite knowledge, 
tempered by his holiness, becomes wisdom. His infinite 
power, wielded by this same holiness, becomes the guardian 
of justice, truth and innocence. His infinite will, impreg- 
nated with holiness, becomes the perfect standard of right- 
eousness and duty. This perfection is God's crown and 
glory, and hence sin appears as the contrast to God's holiness 
and the coming short of God's glory. It 

It is the contradic- . j. ' ^ ' ± • t t -,. 

tion of God's holiness. ^^ uot Simply trausgrcssion, disobedience; 

it is the want of holiness. These are all 
Scripture determinations. They are derived from the com- 
parison of man's character and life with an external stand- 
ard ; they are objective representations of sin, and it is these 
alone through which the conscience is first awakened and 
man convinced of the evil that is in him. 

But although these objective determinations are enough 
for duty, they are not enough for speculation. They do not 
satisfy the wants of science. We are impelled to go far- 
ther and inquire whether there is any specific quality which 
distinguishes sin, and by virtue of which all its forms and 
manifestations can be reduced to unity. Let us, therefore 

now notice its subjective determinations. 
ive dTterJinationr ^^ fixiug thcsc, the first thing to be borne 

in mind is the ethical ground of God's rio-ht 
to the service of man. This ethical ground is the complete 
dependence of man upon God. The creature lives only in 
the will of the Creator, Its life, faculties and powers are 
only continued expressions of the will that underlies them. 


The obvious relation implied in the term creature is that of 
absolute dependence on the will of the Creator. In him- 
self, man is nothing. He is something only in his relations 
to the will of God. This gives to God an absolute right of 
property in him. The true ethical ground, therefore, is 

The true ethical i^^'^^^'s rcktion to God as the expression of 
ground of right and His will and the product of His power. 
Now, as the ground of man's life is the 
will of God, the law of his life must also be that will. De- 
pendence as being necessitates dependence as moral being'. 
The moment you lose sight of this dependence you have, in 
so far as I can see, no ethical ground of right whatever. 
You cannot ground it in power, for superior power gives no 
right. For the same reason, you cannot ground it in wis- 
dom. If the ground of man's existence be found in him- 
self, and of God's in Himself, then from these elements there 
will emerge as clearly the idea of personal independence as 
there would in the relation of two creatures to each other. 
Hence, it is impossible to take a right start in tracing the 
doctrine of sin without taking in the idea of creation. 

We are now prepared to see the specific shape wliich obe- 
dience must take. There must a supreme devotion in the 

T„„..i„.= „. c„ will of the creature to that of the Creator, 

Involves our su- ' 

preme devotion to and tliis dcvotiou is suprcmc when there is 
not the slightest deviation of the former 
from the latter. This supreme devotion constitutes the 
moral condition of the soul indispensable to true holiness. 
Now, how is this condition to be expressed ? Unquestion- 
ably in Love. But although love is the expression of obe- 
dience to law, we are not to suppose, as Miiller has done in 
his work on Sin, that love exhausts the whole sphere of 
duty, and that everything commanded may be logically 
deduced from love. The duties of justice cannot by any 
possibility be construed into forms of benevolence. To 
speak the truth is not to love God, though love to God en- 
sures truth. Love is the expression of that state of the 
heart which will induce and ensure universal obedience. 


Thus, while it is the motive and ground of obedience, it 
does not constitute the whole object-matter of that obe- 
dience. It is the universal form, but not the universal 
matter. It is the ground-form, the motive-principle, but 
not the logical genus. We can now understand, also, the 
place which love to the creature occupies. Rule out the 
notion of creation, and where is the ethical ground of a sin- 
gle obligation of one creature to another ? The whole ques- 
tion of right and obligation would resolve itself into one of 
power, wisdom or utility. The ethical ground would be 
gone. But introduce the idea of creation, place all other 
creatures in the same relation to God with our ourselves, 
and my relations to the creature are at once determined by 
our common relations to the Creator. In order to deter- 
mine how I may love and use the creature aright, I must 
view it in its relations to the purpose of God. It was cre- 
ated for the manifestation of the Divine glory, and I love 
and use it aright when I do so with a view to the promotion 
of that glory in the purpose for which it was created. The 
subjective state of mind, therefore, which constitutes true 
holiness is that which corresponds to the sense of absolute 
dependence upon God as a creature, which expresses itself 
in supreme devotion to His will, and attaches itself to the 
creature only in its relations to God. 

We are now prepared to find a clue to the nature of sin. 
(1.) It involves a negation of the feeling of 

Sin is the denial of -i -i rr^^ • • i • . i • 

dependence on God. dependence, ihis implies the impression 

of independence. Here we find the root 

of sin. This notion of independence, whether imperceptibly 

influencing the mind or consciously present, lies at the basis 

of all sin. (2.) Then comes another step — 

It is estrangement .lip •,• , , a r^ i 

from God. ^"'^^^ ot positivc estrangement from God. 

This assumes the form. of direct opposition 
or open enmity to God. (3.) Then the subjective state into 

which sin resolves itself is that of self-affir- 

It is self-affirmation. 

mation, or love to the creature from self- 
relations, not from its relations to God. Self-affirmation is 


a supreme law in relation to self-dependence, just as affirma- 
tion of God is a supreme law in relation to dependence upon 
God. Therefore, in the ultimate analysis, if you commence 
with self-dependence or independence as the ethical ground, 
you are obliged to end in self-affirmation. Most Calvinistic 
divines make the subjective state to be affirmation not simply 
of self, but of the creature. The creature, as well as self, is 
God. But in my opinion this view is defective. As love 
to the creature in a state of holiness is determined by its re- 
lations to the purpose of God, so, in a state of sin, that love 
is determined by relations to our own views and selfish pur- 
poses. Self is the central point from which everything, 
even God Himself, is contemplated. 

If this analysis be correct, I resolve the whole subjective 

determination of sin into self -affirmation. To this there is 

one objection. It apparently conflicts with 

Objection from cer- , i i n ^ • l • 1 

tain natural affection., ^hosc phcnomcna of our iiaturc in which 
we seem to act from principles independent 
of self — phenomena which seem to imply an entire forget- 
fulness of self and a disinterested attachment to the good of 
others — phenomena such are seen in the love of a mother 
for her offspring, in gratitude, compassion, etc. Now how 
will you explain these phenomena? Here, New-England 
divines are involved in serious error. They 
laud divines. '^"^ "^ P^^ sclf-lovc for the subjective determina- 
tion of sin. They hold to a reflex opera- 
tion of the mind in all such cases as those above, the man 
first considering the effect which the particular act will have 
upon himself, and then acting in reference to that effect. 
But you cannot explain in this way those elementary prin- 
ciples of our nature, those constitutional tendencies which 
Bishop Butler has so conclusively shown to exist back of the 
will. They do not admit of this reflex operation of the 
mind. But take the view of sin which I have presented, 
and the thing is plain. These princijjles 

The true explanation. ^ i r> • ^ o 

are a part and parcel of our nature itself. 
Their exercise is but the evolution of what is within us. 


The actions to which they prompt are performed not in con- 
sequence of their relations to God and to holiness, but simply 
because the principles which lead to them are part of our- 
selves, and for no other reason. According to this limita- 
tion, we take in the whole of those principles embraced under 
the heads of virtue and prudence, bringing tliem all, from 
their relations to self, under the category of sin. I recom- 
mend to the class on this subject the work of Miiller on the 
Christian Doctrine of Sin. His first book 

MUIler on Sin. . ..,,,,. 

IS not SO clear as it might be, but his second 
contains many very striking thoughts. He makes the sub- 
jective determination of sin to be self-affirmation. I agree 
with him, therefore, as to his conclusion, though I differ as 
to the steps by which he reaches it. 

We have considered the nature of sin with respect both 
to its objective and subjective determinations. In the first 
aspect, it presents itself as the transgression of the law, dis- 
obedience to God and contradiction to His holiness. In 
the second, it appears as contradiction to the principle of 
absolute dependence implied in the very notion of a creature, 
and as a vain effijrt to realize the taunting lie of the tempter : 
"Ye shall be as gods." The law of sin, as an operative 
element in the soul, is the virtual assertion of self-supremacy 
and self-sufficiency. It makes man a God to himself. 
" What else is sin," says the venerable Howe/ " in the most 
comprehensive notion, but an undue imitation of God — an 
exalting of the creature's will into a supremacy, and oppo- 
sing it, as such, to the Divine ? To sin is to take upon us 
as if we were supreme and that there were no Lord over us ; 
'tis to assume to ourselves a deity as if we were under no 
law or rule, as He is not under any but what He is to Him- 
self. Herein to be like God is the very core and malignity 
of sin." According to this reduction, sin is essentially 
apostasy — a dissolution of the tie which binds the creature 
in willing subjection to the Author of its being. It is a vir- 
tual denial of its own creaturehood, and a consequent rejec- 
^ Blessedness of the Eighteous, chap, iv., § 1. 


tion of the rights of the Creator. Its language is : "I am, 
and I am my own, and, therefore, have a right to live to 
myself." Considered as the renunciation of dependence 
upon God, it may be called unbelief; as the exaltation of 
itself to the place of God, it may be called pride ; as the 
transferring to another object the homage due to the Supreme, 
it may be called idolatry ; but in all these aspects the central 
principle is one and the same. " Self is the centre and end," 
as Howe ^ expresses it, " in which all must meet and termi- 

It is interesting to notice how the objective and subjective 
determinations of sin completely coincide 

e s ness is tie | hamiouize. Selfishness is not only a 

root of sin. •i 

motive principle which will infallibly en- 
gender all the forms of evil forbidden in the law, but it is 
itself a condensation of the very spirit of evil. It is itself a 
compendious violation of every precept of the laAv. In the 
first place, it begins in a lie ; its first utterance is a false- 
hood, and that falsehood is blasphemy. In the next place, 
it is a fraud — a foul breach of justice — as it robs God of His 
rights and gives His glory to another. And what greater 
contempt can there be of the spirit of benevolence than to 
treat men as instruments of our own pleasure, and make our- 
selves a centre around which they must revolve ? If the 
great fundamental requisites of the law can be reduced to 
truth, justice and benevolence, then the very essence of sin 
is contained, not only potentially but formally, in the prin- 
ciple of selfishness. It is falsehood, injustice and malice. 
When we have reached this principle, we have gone to the 
root of our disturbed moral life. 

II. But while the objective determinations of sin indicate 
the things which are commanded or forbidden, and its sub- 
jective determinations fix the attitude in 
nauirforsi*n^ ^'"™'' wliicli tlic siuucr stauds, and detect the 
immediate ground of his transgressions, the 
question still remains, What constitutes the formal nature of 
^ Blessedness of the Kighteous, chap, iv., I 8. 


sin ? Why are certain actions commanded by the law, and 
others forbidden ? On what ground is one posture of the soul 
pronounced to be right and another wrong ? These questions 
go to the bottom of the subject. To answer them will be to 
explain the reason of the law and the malignity of selfish- 
ness, and to reduce to unity both classes of determinations. 

1. There are those who have reduced moral distinctions 
to the arbitrary decisions of the Divine will. They refuse 
^ Moral distinctions ^o seck auy higher ground of the nature 
not giuuuded in God's of virtuc than that God commands it, or 
of the nature of vice than that God forbids 
it. They see no reason why the constitution of things might 
not have been so essentially different from what it is as that 
what we now commend as duty might have been condemned 
as a crime, and that what we now reprobate as sin might 
have been applauded as holiness. The only answer which 
they will allow to be given to the question concerning our 
moral judgments is that God has so willed. His will makes 
right and wrong as freely as it creates contingent beings. 
Virtue is right and vice is wrong for the same reason that 
some beings are rational and others dumb. This notion 
has been supposed to commend the supremacy of the Divine 
will. " But such authors," as Dugald Stewart justly re- 
marks, " do not recollect that what they add to the Divine 
jwwer and majesty they take away from His moral attri- 
butes, for if moral distinctions be not immutable and eter- 
nal, it is absurd to speak of the goodness or of the justice of 
God." ^ The history of this opinion, as it appeared among 
the scholastics, and subsequently rea]ipeared among the high 
Calvinists of the Supralapsarian school, it is unnecessary 
here to investigate. It is enough to say that it cuts up by 
the roots every effort to apjirehend the character of God 
from the works of His hands. If His will be arbitrary, 
groundless, what He wills cannot reveal what He is. He 
does not express Himself in His works. " By such a de- 
termination," Miiller acutely observes,^ "the contents of the 
1 Works, vol. vi., p. 299. ^ Doctrine of Sin, vol. i., p. 98. 


moral law would become for God Himself, although the pro- 
duct of His will, a foreign, an external one, because it would 
have no relation whatever to His nature. To say that the 
will of God is determined by the fullness of His own being, 
is in no sense to limit or condition Him. It is simply to 
affirm that He is Himself, that He acts like Himself and 
can never deny Himself. To make an arbitrary separation 
betwixt His will and His intelligence, and to suppose that 
He is capable of acting from mere caprice, is to condition 
Him by imperfections which are disreputable to a creature. 
God's nature is the ground of God's will. 

but in His nature, , 

It always has a reason, and that reason is 
found in His own necessary and immutable perfections. 
His will is Himself, the fullness of His wisdom and good- 
ness and holiness in action, as well as of His power. To 
Him the right is not law — it is His life ; it is not duty — it 
is His being, and it becomes law to the creature through the 
intervention of His wise and holy will. There is no eter- 
nal law of duty ; law begins with the creature, but there is 
in the Divine Being an eternal ground of law or measure 
of right. 

One important step ^ve have gained. We have traced 
moral distinction to the nature of God. As He is the foun- 
tain of all being, He is the fountain of all righteousness. 
The sublime declaration, " I am," is without a predicate, 
because it has a fullness of contents which precludes any 
other predicate than itself. It is an important point we 
have gained. Moral distinctions are seen to be as eternal 
and immutable in their ground as the nature of God. They 

are further revealed as making us either 

and make us like or ti ti r^ i ml • x • xl j. i • i 

unlike God. likcor unlikc God. ihc just IS that which 

assimilates to Him ; the unjust that which 
contradicts His image. Likeness to God is holiness ; un- 
likeness, sin. 

2. But the question still returns upon us. What is that 
quality or property the possession of which makes us like 
God — the absence of which, unlike? What is that specific 


thing called righteousness which the law declares, and which 
springs from the very being of the Almighty ? This ques- 
tion has been variously answered. Some make the common 
quality of rio:;ht to consist in the relation 

They are not ground- I J o 

ed in any finite of tlliugS tO OUr OWU happiuCSS ; aud OthcrS, 

*'°"^' in the relation to the happiness of our fel- 

low-men ; and others again have combined both tendencies 
in their theories of virtue. These theories, however, all 
give to virtue an origin in the creature ; they ground it in 
finite relations. If we are to make it relative and resolve 
it into tendencies of any kind, it would be far more consist- 
ent with its source in the nature of God to define it by its 
tendency to promote His glory. All such solutions are un- 
satisfactory, because they presuppose that we are already in 
possession of what we are seeking ? It is clear that we can 
know neither our own good, nor the good of others, nor the 
glory of God, until we know what good 
We must know what .^^^^^^ j^^ rp^ ^^^^^^ determined the good is 

good itself IS. *^ 

to have settled the whole question. The 
only unity in right according to this method of procedure is 
an unity of relation ; there is no unity among the things 
themselves which we denominate from it. They agree in 
nothing but a common tendency. The question, therefore, 
still recurs upon us after all these solutions, What is right ? 

AVe answer that it is, as Locke would ex- 
The right, an origi- ^^^^ •. ^ gimple idea, or, as more recent 

nal intuition. 1 ' >■ ' ' 

philosophers might prefer to designate it, 
an original intuition, which we are no more capable of ex- 
plaining than we are of defining any other ultimate truth. 
It is the thing apprehended by reason in the operations of 
conscience, as the world or ourselves are apprehended in per- 
ception and consciousness. It is the fundamental datum of 
the moral understanding. In every operation of conscience 
there is involved a perception as well as a feeling. Though 
these are indissolubly united in the act, they are separable in 
thouoht. The feeling is the sense of duty and the sense of 
merit and demerit ; the perception is that the thing is right. 


Conscience does not make the right, it only declares it ; the 
right exists independently of it, as the world exists inde- 
pendently of onr senses. We could not know it without 
conscience, but a condition of knowledge must not be con- 
founded with a condition of existence. 

A reality, but rr«i • i • tit 

iJie right IS a reality whether we perceive 
it or not, and when perceived it is perceived as an absolute 
reality, a reality for all minds. 

But conscience recognizes the right under manifold forms. 
Truth is right, iustice is right, benevolence is 

under maiiifolil forms. o ^J ^ . i i i i •> i • i 

right, temperance is right— the habits which 
j)rompt to the observance of these are right ; but are all 
these one and the same right ? If one, in what does their 
unity consist ? The actions of truth are certainly different 
from those of temperance ; the actions of benevolence are as 
clearly different from those of justice ; the habits are obviously 
so many different subjective states. Where, then, is the unity, 
and why is the same term applied in common to them all ? It 
is obvious that no analysis of duties and no comparison of the 
things commanded by our moral nature can ever conduct us 
to any other unity than that of a common subjective affirma- 
tion. They are all right because they all sustain the same 
relation to conscience. Like truth, their coincidence is 
found in the possession of the same subjective necessity of 
affirmation. But is there not a higher unity in which all 
these laws are ultimately grounded ? Is there not a common 
ground of their common relation to the conscience ? Un- 
questionably there is. If righteousness springs from the 
Divine nature, if it is founded in the very being of God as 
wise, good and intelligent, then it has an objective unity 
All these have a which is determined by the mode of its sub- 
common relation to jectivc affirmation in God. Righteousness 

the holiness of God. ., i-iit nn -r-»'i/ 

IS that which holiness affirms. Kighteous- 
ness applies to the matter of right objectively considered ; 
holiness applies to the Divine intelligence as loving, appro- 
ving and commanding it. Whatever a holy God enjoins, 
that is the thinfr which is rinht. 


We have now reached a second step. We have seen, jivst, 
that moral distinctions are eternal and necessary as grounded 
in the nature of God. We have seen, next, that the unity of 
rectitude, considered as an object and as predicable of actions 
and motives, consists in their relation to the holiness of God. 
Their repugnance to or congruity with that determines the 
point wliether they are right or wrong. What God's holy 
will embraces, that is right; wdiat it rejects and abhors, that 
is wrong. 

3. Our next step must be to investigate the nature of 
holiness. It is evidently distinguished 

The nature of holiness, . ^ i . . 

from right as a faculty is distinguished 
from its object. It is properly expressive only of a subjec- 
tive condition. But is it a single attribute in God co-ordinate 
with those of truth, justice, goodness ; or a single habit in 
man co-ordinate with other single habits of S2)ecific virtues ? 
If so, there is no absolute unity in rectitude ; there would be 
different forms of right, answering to the different moral per- 
fections of God, and each as distinct from the others as in- 
telligence in God is distinct from wdll. There would be no 
unity among human virtues but their common relation to 
the laws of conscience. But holiness is not to be thus re- 
stricted. It is not co-ordinate with the other moral perfec- 
tions of God, but inclusive of them. It is that in which 
they are contained, from which they spring, and by which 
they are determined. They are all so many expressions of 
it. " It comprehends," as Howe justly re- 
marks, " His righteousness and veracity, 
and, indeed, whatever we can conceive in Him under the 
notion of a moral excellency. It may, therefore, be styled 
a transcendental attribute, that, as it were, runs through the 
rest and casts a glory upon every one ; it is an attribute of 
attributes. Those are fit predications, holy power, holy 
truth, holy love, etc. And so it is the very lustre and glory 
of His other perfections ; He is glorious in holiness. Hence, 
in matters of greatest moment He is sometimes brought in 
swearing by His holiness, which He is not wont to do by 


any one single attribute, as though it were a fuller expres- 
sion of Himself, an adcequatlor coneeptus, than any of the 
rest."^ The reason of such representations is that holiness 
implies the fullness and energy of God's delight in right- 
eousness. It is the very life of that love and blessedness 
which flows from His own infinite self-sufficiency. God is 
love. His being is love, and the expressions of that love 
are the different streams of right, which originally in Him, 
flow out upon rational creatures in the form of law and 
righteousness. In other words, God, as a holy being, con- 
templates Himself as His own infinite good ; and the bless- 
edness of the Divine nature is but the delight of the Divine 
holiness in His beino- what He is. Without this infinite 
delight in Himself as the good, moral distinctions could not 
possibly emerge. Without the presence of love, the good 
could not be thought of — it would be an unmeaning term. 
It is the fullness of love to His own perfections which de- 
termines Him to express them, and to stamp them in some 
degree upon every work of His hands. Hence, His holiness 
pervades His whole being ; underlies every divine activity ; 
prompts every divine energy. It actuates every perfection. 
God could not move without it ; — He would cease to be God. 
As thus taken uj), or rather contained, in the infinite love 
of God, infinite righteousness becomes something more than 
the right — it becomes the good ; and is the right precisely 
because it is the good. This is the highest point that we 
can reach. This is the highest unity which we can find in 
rectitude. It is the centre of the Divine love, the spring of 
the Divine life, and the perfection of the Divine blessedness. 
Remove this love in God, and you destroy the unity of His 
whole nature. 

So holiness in man is not a detached habit co-ordinate 
with other habits and states, neither is it a 

and in man. . /. , 

compendious expression tor a complement 
of habits. There may be specific virtues, such as truth, 
temperance, fortitude and courage, but these are not suffi- 
^ Blessedness of the Eighteous, chap, v., p. 68. 


cipnt to entitle a man to the distinction of holiness. As a 
state in contradistinction from its exercises, holiness is a 
nature, and by a nature we understand not the collection 
of i^roperties which distinguish one being from another, 
but a generic disposition which determines, modifies and 
regulates all its activities and habits — the law of its mode 
of life. It is that out of which specific habits grow, from 
which every single action ultimately proceeds. It is not 
to be confounded with the substance of the soul, the actions 
of the soul, or definite conditions of the soul ; it lies back 
of them all, and conditions them in all their operations. 
There is a nature in the lion, the tiger and the dog which 
determines their manner of life — a nature in all beings 
which makes them what they are. Without it there could 
be no character, no habits, no consistent action; it is the 
invisible thread of unity which runs through the whole life 
and gives it its coherence. As lying out of consciousness, we 
cannot define it, but its eifects are so obvious and palpable 
that we are compelled to accept it as a necessary faith. 
Those who reject it on the ground that the consciousness 
reveals nothing but faculties and acts, will find themselves 
involved in inextricable difficulty in their attempts to solve 
some of the simplest problems of life. They must deny all 
habits as states of mind, whether original or acquired, and 
especially must they deny that there are any such things as 
moods of feeling which modify and colour the succession of 
our thoughts. They must deny a cheerful temperament, a 
morose temperament or an equable temperament, or that 
any such generic peculiarities exert an influence upon the 
flow of our thoughts. 

But as there are within the sphere of our daily experience 
various generic dispositions, each of which serves as the 
basis of very difterent habits, there is nothing incredible 
in supposing — nay, unless we propose to dismember human 
life, it is absolutely necessary to suppose — that there must be 
one great central disposition in which all others are rooted. 
The general temper of sadness has numberless manifesta- 

VoL. I.— 24 


tions ; the same is true of joy ; and why should there not 

be a tone of mind in which all virtuous activities are united ? 

To illustrate the all-pervading influence of holiness as a 

nature, the Scriptures employ the striking 

Illustrated in the i j? Tj? "Vin l xl 

Scriptures by life. aualogy of lifc. Wheu we ask the ques- 

tion, What is life ? we soon become sensi- 
ble that we are dealing with a subject which eludes the capa- 
city of thought. We cannot seize it in itself. AVc see its 
effects, we witness its operations, we mark the symptoms 
which distinguish its presence. But the thing itself escapes 
our nicest analysis. We can only speak of it as the myste- 
rious, unknown cause of numberless phenomena which ex- 
perience forces on our notice. Where is life? Is it here 
and not there? Is it there and not here? Is it in the 
heart, the head, the hands, the feet ? It evidently pervades 
the man ; it is the condition, the indispensable condition, of 
the organic action of every part of the frame. The body 
may be perfect in its structure, it may have every limb and 
nerve and muscle, and foreign influences may be made to 
mimic the operations of life, bat if life be not there these 
actions or rather motions are essentially distinct from those 
of the living man. In like manner holiness pervades the 
soul. Though not a habit, nor a collection of habits, it is the 
indispensable condition of them all. It is not here nor there, 
but is diffused through the whole man — the understanding, 
the will, the conscience, the affections ; it underlies all dis- 
positions and habitudes, and is felt in all the thoughts and 
desires. xVll moral qualities inhere in it as their fundamen- 
tal form. It is the point of unity to the whole spiritual life. 
In its exercises and manifestations in consciousness it is 
the delight and rest of the soul in God as the perfect good, 
because the perfectly just. It sees in righteousness not 
only the authority which makes it duty or the rectitude 
which makes it merit, but it sees a beauty and glory which 
makes it blessedness. Its longings are after God distinctly 
as the holy God, and its deepest utterances are those of pro- 
found adoration and praise on account of His immaculate 


purity. It is ravished with the glory of the Lord because 
„ ,. that fflory is only the splendour of His holi- 

Holiiiess IS supreme O J J r 

love to God as the su- ncss. It is fundamentally the principle 
piemegoo . ^^ suprcmc lovc to Him as the supreme 

good. His holiness is the central point of attraction, and 
all His other perfections — His independence, omnipresence, 
omnipotence and omniscience — all that belong to the eter- 
nity and immutability of His being, are awful and vener- 
able as they are pervaded and inspired by His infinite right- 
eousness. He might be an object of dread and terror, and 
might extract the homage of slaves and vassals, if He were 
possessed only of infinite power and infinite knowledge, but 
He could never be loved, trusted and adored. He could 
awaken no feeling which deserves to be called religious if 
He were not the Holy One who inhabiteth the praises of 
eternity. Now in this supreme love to God as the good 
there are included in inseparable unity a perception of the 
understanding and a sentiment of the heart. Both are given 
and both are contained in one single, indivisible oj^eration 
of consciousness. The perception is of the beauty of holi- 
ness, the ultimate standard of every other form of beauty. 
It is seen to be intrinsically glorious ; it appeals directly to 
our lovc ; it presents that which is fitted to awaken it. The 
sentiment of the heart is the response of love which it freely 
sends forth ; it looks with delight upon the glorious object. 
The soul burns with the ardour of desire, and sees in the 
possession of the lovely object a perfect and a satisfying good. 
The Avill is necessitated to choose what is presented under 
these aspects of beauty and attraction, and its spontaneous 
lano-uao;e is, " Whom have I in heaven but Thee ? and there 
is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. I shall be 
satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness." Hence, holiness 
in man pervades the soul in all the forms of its existence as 
a nature or as in exercise. It is light in the understanding, 
beauty to the heart, and good to the will. It appeals to 
every faculty and addresses itself to every energy, and it is 
in man as in God, his life and his glory. It is that in which 


action and speculation are fused into one ; thought be- 
comes sentiment and sentiment becomes thouglit, and the 
essence of botli is love. 

From this investigation of the nature of the ideas of right 

and holiness, it is an obvious inference that there can be no 

holiness in any creature in which the notion of the right is 

not carried up to the notion of the good. 

It is the right car- -^ . , . , . 

ried up into the good it IS uot cuough to rccognizc a thing as 
and heart must re- dixty, as that which ouglit to bc douc, and 

spond to couscience. . . 

which entitles the agent to commendation 
for obedience. This is the sphere of a cold and cheerless 
morality. There must be the love of the thing as beautiful 
and becoming, as assimilating the soul to God and bringing 
it into a condition to enjoy His favour. The heart must 
respond to the conscience, and the intrinsic blessedness of 
rectitude must be its highest and sweetest commendation. 
The man who can ask the question why he should choose 
the right, or what is the ground of the authority of the duty, 
shows that he has never risen to the sphere of spiritual life, 
and has yet to have awakened within him the Divine cogni- 
tion of the good. His eyes have never yet gazed upon real 
beauty, nor his heart been warmed with real love. 

The right and the good are, of course, objectively the 
„.., . ,. same, and in all holy beings they are sub- 

With sinners, the " ./ o ./ 

right and the good do jectivcly tlic sauic, or ratlicr the right is 
apprehended intuitively as right because it 
is the good. But in sinners the case is quite different. The 
notion of the right precedes the notion of the good, and in 
multitudes the notion of the good is never realized at all. 
It is a notion which the law must presuppose, but which it 
cannot give. Where it has been lost it can be restored only 
by the supernatural illumination of the Spirit. Conscience 
always remains, but all that it can do is to proclaim the 
right as duty, to awaken the sense of obligation, to appeal 
to our hopes and fears. This right is clothed with awful 
majesty, and sometimes speaks in tones of thunder, but it 
knows no avenue to the heart. Its asj^ect for the most part 


is cold and passionless ; it exists as a rigid rule with as lit- 
tle sweetness and flexibility. It attracts no love, it inspires 
no warm and glowing emotion, it never captivates nor rav- 
ishes. We have to throw around it external associations 
of pleasure and delight; we have to dwell upon its prom- 
ises of good or its threats of evil ; we have to descend from 
its own lofty sphere and clothe it in the dress of the lower 
objects around us which fascinate and please before we can 
make it enlist our sympathies or elicit our affections. We 
endeavour to bribe our children into the love of it by the 
charms of its dowry and the utter poverty which must waste 
those that are destitute of its rewards. These expedients 
of daily experience, the general tendency to confound the 
right with the useful, or to resolve it into some modification 
of pain and pleasure, are melancholy confessions that man 
in his blindness has lost the true perception 

for man has lost the ^ , ^ -, /-, i i i i . i 

perception of the good. 01 tlic goocl. Oould hc scc the right as it 
is in its own nature, could he behold its 
beauty, its glory, its transcendent loveliness, the heart would 
turn with disgust from any lower motives for embracing it 
than those which are drawn from itself. As the good it is 
its own perfect argument ; it needs no other advocate and 
no other plea than its own intrinsic excel- 

An error of Kant. ^ ^^^^^ 

lence. Kant deifies duty, apostrophizes it 
in glowing terms as an idol, and maintains that the more 
thoroughly an action is determined by tlie sole consideration 
of duty the more deserving it is. On the contrary, if the 
whole foregoing speculation is not a delusion, it is indisput- 
ably clear that he who is influenced solely by a sense in con- 
tradistinction from the love of duty — he, in other words, who 
acts because he must on pain of penalties, and not because 
he delights in the act as just— is as truly pervaded by the 
principle of sin as he who chooses a lower good at the risk 
of a greater ill. The naked sense of duty can make an obe- 
dient slave, but never make a holy man. Duty is grand 
and glorious when the object of duty is first apprehended as 
the good, and it is a sublime principle of action when the 


sense of duty coincides with the percej)tion and love of the 
holy, just and true. 

4. Having thus analyzed the nature of the qualities which 
we denominate right into primitive cognitions, and having 
seen under what condition alone the apprehension of the 
right dignifies a being with the distinction of holiness, we 
Sin considered from procced to noticc wliat coustitutcs the uaturc 
this qualitative point of siu Considered from the same qualitative 
point of view. The question here is at- 
tended with little difficulty, from the manifest relation of 
contrast and opposition in which sin and holiness stand to 
each other. 

As holiness, materially considered, is the right, it is ob- 
vious that sin must, first of all, be cleter- 

Sin is the not-riglit. . . . p , 

mined as the absence or privation ot the 
right. It is the non-right. Whenever right is not found 
where it should be found, the absence is sin. The distinc- 
tion betwixt privation and simple negation is of vital import- 
ance in appreciating this determination. Each denotes, as 

the Schoolmen and all Calvinistic divines 

Privation and simple i i j_ij. 1j.ii 

negation havB bccu accustomcd to remark, the ab- 

sence of something positive in the subject ; 
but they differ in this, that mere negation obtains when the 
subject is not naturally cajiable of the wanting reality — lyri- 
vation when it is capable. Simple negation denies to a sub- 
ject qualities which do not belong to its nature ; privation, 
qualities which ought to be found in it. We can say of a 
stone that it cannot see — this is simple negation. We cannot 
say of it that it is blind — that would be privation, and would 
imply the notion that vision was a perfection of which a 
stone was competent. On the other hand, we can predicate 
blindness of man, because the power of vision naturally be- 
longs to him. Privation has been further distinguished into 
p)hysical and logical; it is physical when it denotes the ab- 
sence of a perfection that might be present, but whose ab- 
sence implies no censure and involves no positive detriment ; 
logical, when it denotes the absence of a perfection which 


ouo-ht to be present, and whose loss implies censure or in- 
volves serious evil. Physical privation removes pertections, 
but does not mutilate the conformity of a being with its idea ; 
logical privation mutilates the very idea of the being. This 
is the kind of privation to which the determination of sin 
must be referred. It is the want of a perfection which be- 
longs to the idea of a subject. The heart into which it enters 
wants the positive perfection of rectitude ; the state of mind 
to which it is applied is a state of mind discriminated as evil 
by the circumstance that it is not right. In all omissions 
of duty the privation is found in the absence of the acts 
themselves, which, in the given circumstances, were right. 
From the days of Augustin down this determination of 
sin as privation — as simply the not-right — 

The Augustuiian i .-.. \ . /> /^ l • 

doctrine of sin as pri- j^qs bceu the prevailing doctrine ot Caivin- 
'"'''°°' istic divines. It has been resolutely main- 

tained that sin has no positive being of its own— it has no 
real entity, but apart from the notion of defect in a given 
act, state or habit, is a mere nothing. The act, state or habit 
wants something. The something which it wants is a posi- 
tive perfection — it is the quality of rectitude. But the want 
itself represents a pure vacuum ; it is equivalent to saying 
that there, where the perfection ought to be, there is empti- 
i^ess — a blank moral space which is nothing. The acts, 
states or habits, considered in themselves — that is, as far forth 
as they have a real positive being and express the exercise 
of positive faculties, or the positive condition of the faculties — 
are good. An act is never sinful in itself, but only per ac- 
cidens; as far forth as you can say of it that it is, so far 
forth it is good ; it is only when you say of it that it is not, 
and only in relation to what it is not, that it can be called 
sinful. The whole substance of this theory is pregnantly 
condensed into a few words by the Master of the Sentences : 
" Quidam aufem diUgenter attendentes verba 

Peter Lombard quoted. . ... ./ . • 7" rr • ^ 

Aur/usfim, qmbus supra et in alus 6erij)turce 
locis iditur, non indode tradunt voluntatcm malam et actus 
malos, in quantum sunt, vet in quantum actus sunt, bona esse ; 


in quantum vero mala sunt, peccata esse; qui voluntatem et 
actum quemcunque bonam Dei naturam esse dicunt, in quan- 
tum actus est vel voluntas, et ex Deo auctore esse ; in quantum 
vero inor'dinate et contra legem Dei Jit, et fine debito caret, 
jjeccatum est; et ita. in quantum peccatum est, nihil est. 
Nulla enim substantia est, nulla natura estJ' ^ 

The motive, as seen in this extract, which prompted Aii- 
gnstin and those who have followed in his 

Motive of t)ie doctrine. ~; . . 

footsteps to insist so strenuously upon the 
purely privative character of sin, was the laudable desire to 
vindicate God from the imputation of being, in any proper 
sense, the author of evil. Recognizing His will as the first 
and supreme cause of all real existences, they could not at- 
tribute to sin a nature and a being ; they could not predicate 
of it anything that was positive without bringing it into the 
category of creatures, and thus making it the product of the 
Almighty. The dilemma was. It is either a creature or it is 
not. If it is a creature, God made it. The blasphemy here 
being too shocking to be believed, they took the other horn 
and affirmed that it was no creature, and that therefore in 
itself considered it was nothing. " It presupposes," says 
Van Mastricht, "something positive in 

Van Mastricht quoted. ,.■,,.■, . ■, . ■, . -, ,, 

which it inheres as in a subject, but itsell 

is nothing positive or real. If it were, it would require the 

First Cause as its author, inasmuch as nothing positive or real 

can exist which is not necessarily dependent upon him. In 

the mean time, it is not to be regarded as purely negative, 

since then it would neither be evil nor punishable by God. 

Nothing, therefore, remains but to regard it as privative, or 

as the absence of a moral good which ought to be present." ^ 

De Moor, the able and learned, but very little known 

commentator on the Compendium of jSIarck, 

says, substantially : " Everything physical, 

everything real and positive, is from God ; therefore, every 

act, considered as act, or as a certain quantum of reality. 

Hence, sin cannot be anything real or positive. Should it 

1 Lib. ii., dist. 35, g 4. s Theol., lib. iv., cap. secund,, ^ xxi. 


be asserted that sin has a positive existence, then it must 
follow that there are motions and acts, as, for example, in 
theft and whoring, which according to their real being can- 
not be referred to God as their first cause. We must go 
even farther, and posit the existence of substances produced 
by these independent acts or motions, as in the case of for- 
nication and adultery, which are independent of God, and 
of which He is not the autlior or creator. In a word, we 
must either, with the Manichees, postulate another and an 
independent principle as the cause of evil, or with the Pela- 
gians reduce the providence of God in relation to our actions 
to a naked conservation of our own energies and powers, or 
to a general influence subject to be determined by the will 
of the creature."^ I cannot forbear to add here a passage 
which De Moor quotes' with unequivocal approbation from 
Burmaun : " I am of opinion," says he, 
BmmAunquotcc. u ^^^^^^ .^]^ ^jj^ jg privativc, and that the dis- 
tinction betwixt the act itself and the sinfulness of the act is 
of universal validity, not only in relation to acts which are 
materially good, but become accidentally evil — as when one 
gives alms from the desire of applause — but also in relation 
to acts which are regarded as intrinsically bad, such as the 
blaspheming of God. Xo sinful act can be conceived wdiich 
is not founded in some natural and positive act, for sin always 
dwells in another's soil. In the case of homicide, there is 
first a natural and positive act ; to this is added a privation. 
Remove the privation, and the act becomes morally good, as 
in the execution of a criminal by the command of the magis- 
trate. So blasphemy is nothing without the natural motion 
of the mind or tongue, to which the want of conformity with 
the law is added. Unless now you distinguish betwixt these, 
you fall into inextricable difficulty. For if that natural ac- 
tion, which is something positive and real, is to be with- 
drawn from God, then He will not be the author of all that 
is positive or real ; which is the same as to say that He is 
not God, as the very notion of God includes the dependence 
1 Gap. XV., I 4, p. 0, 6. ^ Ibid. 


of all tilings upon Him. If, on the other hand, you refer 
all that is positive to God, and yet maintain that sin is some- 
thing positive, you then, by inevitable necessity, make God 
its cause and author. How you can escape from this dilemma 
I see not. Paul preached to the Athenians that in Him we 
live and move and have our being. Think you that he 
meant only the pious and good motions of the Gentiles, of 
which there wei'e manifestly none, or they were very rare ? 
Were not their inordinate motions, whether natural or moral, 
in so far as they were real and positive, moved in God in 
whom they lived and Avere ? Therefore the homicide, the 
thief, the blasphemer, exercising the hand and tongue in 
wickedness, will either move themselves independently of 
God in these motions, as far forth as they are natural and 
positive, or, if they are moved in God, He becomes the 
author of their crimes. Upon the hypothesis that the 
sin and the act are not to be discriminated, there is no 
alternative between withdrawing from God the princi])al 
part of His providence, or making Him the author of sin." 
The same argument is much more pithily expressed by the 
Master of the Sentences : " To those who 
maintain that all acts, as far forth as they 
have a being, are good, it is objected — If all things that are, 
as far forth as they are, are good and are natures, then adul- 
tery, murder and the like are good and are natures, and con- 
sequently from God. Those accordingly Avho commit such 
crimes do good, which is palpably absurd. The reply is, 
that adultery, homicide and the like do not simply denote 
acts, but the defects of acts ; that the acts themselves, as far 
forth as they contain reality, are from God, and are good 
natures ; but not in as far as they are adultery and murder"^ 
— that is, not in as far as they want a reality which they have 

Later theologians^ have resolved the diiHculty by distin- 
guishing betwixt sin in the concrete and sin in the abstract. 
Sin in the concrete is improperly and loosely taken ; sin in 
1 Lib. ii., dist. 35, ? 8. ^ yjae De Moor, eh. 15, | 4, p. 8. 

Lect. xiy.] the state and nature of sin. 379 

the abstract is that alone which is strictly and properly sin. 
Sin in the concrete includes the notion of 
andTn'the abZct.'*' ^^^^ act or subjcct, whicli is hcncc called sin- 
ful ; sin in the abstract expresses nothing but 
the privation which obtains, which, considered in relation to 
itself, is a mere nothing, and cannot be conceived, but in rela- 
tion to the being in whom the defect is found, it can be con- 
ceived through the negation of the perfection which is re- 

The theory of privation consistently can'ied out denies to 
sin the metaphysical distinctions of matter and form. In 
its concrete sense the act itself may be considered as mat- 
ter, and the nonconformity with law the form. But in the 
abstract, which is the only true sense, the terms matter and 
form have no legitimate application. Every physical act 
as such has its own matter and form, and both, considered 
as belonging to the sphere of real being, are good. But 
privatioA obviously has no matter, for it is nothing, and as 
obviously no form, for form is perfective of matter, and 
privation renders it imperfect.^ 

From this view of the privative theory of sin the import 
of an expression of Augustin, which has 
AugLtIn expZed?^ bccu gricvously misuuderstood, or, if not 
misunderstood, most perversely applied, can 
be readily collected. "There is no sin," says he, "which 
does not attach itself to the good." The meaning simply 
is, that sin presupposes a real subject, and every real subject 
to the extent of its reality is good. If found in an action, 
the action as a physical entity is good ; if found in a habit, 
the habit as implying facility of action is good ; if attri- 
buted to an agent, the agent in so far as he has being at 
all is good. All that is is good, and is the creature of good. 
What is not is not good, and is not the creature of God. 
Hence, his famous comment on the passage, "All things 
were made by Him, and without Him was not anything 
made that was made." 

1 De Moor, ch. 15, I i, p. 8. 


Those who Avish to see an able refutation on the one hand 
^, ,,., . „ , and defence on the other of the theory of 

The \ itnngas lefutt', J 

and wessoiius ditoiicis privatioH as the sole theory of sin, will 
find ample satisfaction in the Anitings of 
Yitringa, father and son, and in a learned dissertation 
of Wesselius, to which De Moor constantly refers. In its 
exclusive features we find it impossible to adopt it. While 
we are prepared to say — and our previous analysis requires 
us to say — that all privation of the right where it should be 
found is sin, and that all sin also includes privation, we can- 
not reconcile it with the facts of consciousness or the teach- 
ings of Scripture to say that all sin is mere negation. This 
is to make of it a shadowy ghost which the next breath of 
speculation may dissolve into thin air. 

(1.) In the first place, the theory is founded upon a double 
^, . . ., . confusion, that of positive and real with 

OlijectLoiis: it is ' ^ 

founded upon a dou- substantial bciug, and that of being with 
the good. Its favourite postulate is, what- 
ever has real being is a good nature, and is from God. 
Here, real being means a separate and independent being, 
or a being which has a definite quantative measure. A 
being that is a nature is a being that has the law of its 
operation in itself; it is a thing of itself, and liencc cannot 
be regarded as the state or quality of another existence. 
When these divines speak of moral perfection as a reality, 
they evidently impose upon themselves the illusion that 
they have found something which has a higher quantum of 
existence than a mere ens raiionis, and they evidently take 
for granted that the virtuous man has more being in him 
than the wicked. But it must be remembered that the 
words beinc/, existence, reality, are the widest predicates that 
any language admits — that they refer to all that is cogitable, 
and are determined in their import by the subjects of M'hich 
they are affirmed. There is subjective existence as a matter 
of thought, as when a centaur is represented in the imagina- 
tion ; there is objective existence as a substance or attribute ; 
there is logical existence as a quality, or condition, or rela- 


tioii. Ill all these cases being is affirmed ; in fact, every 
proposition is the predication of existence : even when sin is 
said to be privation, existence is attributed to the nothing. 
Hence, it does not follow that existence involves necessarily 
any substantive j^roperties which require the subject of it to 
be regarded as a creature of God. There may be qualities 
and states of being which depend upon ourselves; there 
may be postures of our wills ; there may be positive deter- 
minations of our wills which have a reality, but a reality 
which w^e ourselves put into them. There may be loves 
and hates which God never made, but which are as posi- 
tively thinkable and as positively felt as the holiest affec- 
tions which spring from Him. The devil, considered in 
relation to the mere quantum of existence, may have as large 
a mass of entity as an angel or a seraph. 

The other confusion is that of metaphysical and moral 
good. When mere being is called a good, we are moving in 
a very different sphere of thought from that in which we 
affirm that virtue is a good. When non-being is affirmed to 
be evil, it is in a very different sense from that in which evil 
is predicated of sin. To make the quantum of existence or 
the amount of reality that any subject contains the measure 
of good, is to make every finite creature to the extent of its 
finiteness evil. All limitations of existence are deprivations 
of good. If now moral and metaphysical evil are to be 
confounded, it is evident that virtue must be placed in being 
and sin in non-being. This consummation was actually 
reached both by Edwards and Augustin. The former makes 
the very essence of virtue consist in the love of being as 
such, and the latter does not hesitate to assert that the cha- 
racteristic of sin is its tendency to non-being. It is an 
eternal gravitation toward nothing. These are the errors 
whicli disfigure the great work of Leibnitz. He refers sin 
for its possibility to the necessary limitations of the crea- 
ture ; he makes it spring from defects of being, and goes 
very near towards confounding it with the simple notion of 
the finite. Such speculations, which, after all, are a mere 


juggle with words, have a strong tendency to dissipate the 
consciousness of sin ; they reduce it from the proportions of 
strong and positive contrast — may I not say of strong and 
kisty reality ? — in which it is presented in the Scripture to an 
empty shade, a phantom that haunts the imagination, but 
has no real existence in nature. 

(2.) In the next place, the theory does not advance us 
-. , ., „ ,, one step in solving the riddle for wdiich it 

It fails of the pm- 1 >^ 

pose for which in- has bccu SO elaborately worked out. It 
leaves the question of God's relation to the 
origin of evil precisely where it found it. Evil, it is said, 
is no real being, no creature, therefore God did not make it. 
It would seem to be as legitimate a conclusion, therefore, 
man did not make it ; and another step seems to be inevitable, 
therefore it does not exist. But a perfection is not where it 
ought to be. Now the perfection either never was in the 
creature or it has been removed. If it never was in the 
creature, then God certainly, as the author of the creature, is 
the author of the defect. If it was once there, but has been 
removed, either God removed it or the creature. If God 
removed it. He is still the author of the evil. If the crea- 
ture removed it, the act of removing it was either sinful or 
it was not. If the act were sinful, the whole theory is aban- 
doned, and we have sin as something real, positive and work- 
ing ; if the act were not sinful, how can sin proceed from a 
good volition ? The truth is, the theory utterly breaks down 
when it approaches this great question, and the result of its 
boasted solution is that moral evil is reduced to zero. 

(3.) In the third place, the theory is utterly inconsistent 
with our own consciousness, which affirms 

It contradicts con- j j .^^ j^^^^^j^^ .^^^ .| dispOsitioUS 

sciousncss. i 

and acts as strongly positive as those which 
are holy. There is a power of evil as intensely real as the 
energy of holiness. Malice is as intensely real as love ; 
revenge as intensely real as gratitude ; avarice as intensely 
real as liberality. Whatever meaning you apply to the 
terms being, real, positive, in the one case, we feel that it 


holds equally in the other. Tlie quantum is as strongly 
marked on the side of the bad as of the good. I do not 
know that I can place this point in a clearer light than by 
extracting from Wesselius a passage in which he undertakes 
to explain how a malignant disposition can be good con- 
sidered as a creature, and evil considered as malignant. He 
is replying to the objection of Vitringa, that the sinfulness 
of an act cannot be separated from the act, except in thought. 
" The greatest difficulty," says he, " is found in the pre- 
cepts touching the love of God, which is absolutely indis- 
pensable, and in relation to the prohibition of idolatry, 
blasphemy and profaneness, in which the hatred of God 
becomes consjiicuous. Can these ever physically exist apart 
from their viciousness ? Can there ever be the worship of 
the sun and stars and the blasphemy of God without sin ? 
Can the act as a physical entity be distinguished from its 
moral wickedness ?" Wesselius admits that these acts are 
in their nature evil, but he does not grant that they could 
not physically exist without crime. He affirms that they 
are " immutably and unchangeably bad in man, as contra- 
dictory to an immutable and eternal law. Their sinfulness, 
however, does not arise from the nature of the acts as phy- 
sical entities, but from the nature of the Divine law, and 
from the condition of man as a moral agent under that law. 
These same acts could exist as physical entities in other be- 
ings without blame ; as, for example, in a brute or an idiot. 
If he should call upon the sun or an idol, he might exhibit 
the same external act, he might even have the internal im- 
pulse to bend the knee ; and if a parrot should mimic words 
of blasphemy against God, would not in these cases the acts 
exist as physical entities without sin ? For sin is non-con- 
formity with law, and law is competent only to a free agent 
endowed with reason. Hence, an act cannot be morally 
sinful from the nature of the act itself, but from the condi- 
tion of the agent, who is under law ; and therefore the nature 
of moral evil can neither lie in the act nor its mode, physi- 
cally considered, for they can be posited without sin, but in 


its non-conformity with law, which being posited sin is 
posited, and whicii being removed sin is removed."^ Did 
it not occur to these divines that they had as completely 
annihilated virtue as vice? — that this process of reasoning 
reduces all moral distinctions to sheer abstractions ? 

To admit that sin is inseparable from these things as per- 
formed by a rational being, is to give up 

Action must be moral. iii • ii 

the whole question ; and the reason pre- 
cisely is, that it is only as performed by rational beings that 
they become, in any proper sense, actions at all. It is not 
enough to constitute an act that there should be animal life 
or physical force ; it is not the amount of exertion that it 
involves nor the tension of muscle that it exacts. Mere 
motion is not action ; it wants what belongs to the very 
essence of action — a relation to thought and purpose. None 
but an intelligent being can act ; others can live and move^ 
but it is the prerogative of reason alone to give birth to 
actions. An action is properly the language of the will, and 
its real significancy is the motive or end which the will puts 
into it. The motion, without this rational consent, would 
be as far removed from the nature of an act as the senseless 
cries of a brute from the articulate speech of a man. As it 
is its relation to the will which constitutes the very essence 
of an action, it is clear that the question as to the possibility 
of separating in thought betwixt an action and its moral 
character is really the question whether the determinations 
of the will, whether the thoughts and purposes of the heart, 
can be abstracted in thought from the moral qualities which 
attach to them. If there are cases in which this separation 
cannot be made — in which the very being of a given volition 
or of a given purpose is sin, as in the instances specified of 
blasphemy and idolatry; if in the only sense in which these 
things can be considered as actions in contradistinction to 
mere motions instinctively or mechanically produced, they 
cannot be detached from their moral significancy — it is clear 
that the whole hypothesis which makes the action entirely 
1 De Moor, cli. 15, § 4, p. 8. 


independent in its origin of any evil import falls to the 
ground. We are compelled to say that some actions at least, 
considered as actions, are sinful. 

There is one class of writers who, seeing how utterly vain 

The theory requires ^^ Is tO attempt aU CSCapC froUl this COUclu- 

an extravagant and sion, and yet determined to maintain the 

shameful distiuction. , i • i r^ -t • i i p 

hypothesis that (jrod is the author oi every- 
thing that has a real and positive existence, have sought to 
save the character of God in exciting within men wicked 
thoughts and purposes by a distinction which, of itself, is 
enough to cover the whole theory with shame and confusion. 
Sin, say they, is determined by the law, and always supposes 
that he who commits it is a subject of law. God is under 
no law ; on the contrary. He is above all law, and therefore 
incapable of sin. He excites within men thoughts, purposes 
and volitions, and moves them to acts which in them are 
sinful, because forbidden by the law under which they are 
placed, but in Him they are not so. He, therefore, as being 
above law, is guiltless in stirring those to rebellion who are 
under law. To place the matter in another light : Every 
act of man is also the act of God — He is the first cause, and 
He determines the human will in every motion of it by an 
irresistible influence. As far as the act is the work of God, 
it is without sin, because as His it is contradictory to no 
law ; as far as it is the act of man it is sin, because contra- 
dictory to the law of his being. " God," says Wesselius,^ 
" does not sin in producing, as the first cause, the act which 
the sinning creature produces as a second cause, because no 
such defect can be attributed to Him as attaches to a creature 
in consequence of its relation to law. God would sin in 
moving the sinning creature if He were subject to the same 
laws which bind the creature. Adam sinned in eating of 
the forbidden fruit, because in him it was contradictory to 
law ; God did not sin in moving him to the act, because 
there was no law to prevent the Divine motions. Fallen 
and corrupted man continually sins inwardly and outwardly 
1 De Moor, cli. 15, § 4, p. 8. 
Vol. I.— 25 


by violating the eternal law of love to God and liis neigh- 
bour ; God commits no sin in moving man according to his 
corrupt nature, because the royal law is for man alone, and 
does not extend to God, otherwise God would be bound to 
invoke worship and adore His own name." And again : 
" The same act is put forth by God and the creature, yet so 
as that the creature sins and not God, because God is beyond 
or above law. The prince sins who should slay a son in the 
place of his father, because the prince is bound l)y the law 
which prohibits such conduct. God does not sin in punish- 
ing the sins of parents in the persons of their children, be- 
cause, in this res])ect. He is beyond the law — to whom be- 
longs supreme jurisdiction as the sovereign Lord." 

These are specimens of the extravagant lengths to Avhich 
consistency in maintaining a crotchet has 

Zeal of Augnstin -, . • i i mi 

and of his successors drivcu cvcu wisc and good men. Ihe re- 
for this theory ac- ^.q^j q^ Auo;ustin from tlic monstrous hy- 

counted for. ^ ~ _ 

pothesis of the Manichees accounts for the 
prominence and shape which he gave to the scheme of pri- 
vation ; and the zeal of his successors to vindicate the Divine 
purity, while asserting at the same time the Divine su- 
premacy, accounts for the nice distinctions by which sin has 
been really deprived of its revolting features, and all moral 
distinctions almost buried in a remorseless fate. Theology 
may well exclaim as she surveys the apologies and pleas 
which ingenuity has reared in her defence : " Save me from 
my friends ! Non tall auxilio, etc." 

(4.) The last and most fatal objection to this scheme is, 
-, , , „ , that it maintains a doctrine of providence 

It destroys all real i 

sigDificance in the which is totally inconsistcut with any real 
significance in the creature. It makes God 
all in all in a sense so absolute that if it 'be not strictly 
chargeable with Pantheism, it comes to the same practical 
result. It does not confound God with His works, nor re- 
duce the finite and infinite to the unity of a common sub- 
stance ; but it does so completely annihilate the creature as 
to any real being and real efficiency that nothing is seen or 


recognized but God Himself. The creature, practically, is 
nothing and does nothing. It is merely the medium through 
which God operates and acts. He is the only real cause 
that exists. He produces every positive effect that takes 
place. All power is lodged exclusively in Him, and the 
motions and determinations of other beings are only the re- 
sults of His moving and controlling energy. The creature 
has no power of originating any beginnings in itself. There 
is no sphere in which it can act by virtue of its own consti- 
tution maintained and upheld by the Divine support. That 
there is a concursus of God, without which beings could 
neither exist nor act, is implied in the very notion of de- 
pendence ; that this concursus strips them of every property 
and reduces them, especially personal agents, to mere instru- 
ments or organs of the Divine energy, is equally destructive 
of any real being at all. The Scriptures teach explicitly 
that we live and move and have our being in God ; they just 
as explicitly teach that we do live and move and have a 
being. We are not a sham — we are a something ; and, as 
being a something, can do something. 

Of course, this scheme which deserves the reproach of 

Crypto-pantheism, implied in the argument of Schweizer, 

abolishes the distinction, so vital to any consistent main- 

, , ,, „ tenance of the doctrines of grace, between 

and confounds tlie em- o :' 

cient and the permis- the cfficicnt and pcrmissivc decrees of 
God. The moderate Calvinists — who have 
seen the prominence which the Scriptures everywhere give 
to human agency, especially in the matter of sin ; who have 
felt in their own souls that there were thoughts, words and 
deeds, states and affections of soul, which were truly theirs, 
which began in the will as the immediate cause — have been 
compelled to admit that there is a sphere in which God leaves 
personal agents to themselves, and in which they are per- 
mitted to act as real efficient causes. So in innocence Adam 
was left to the freedom of his will. Tliis field is not be- 
yond His providence ; there are limits to the permission, 
and every act that takes place in it is made to play its 


part ill the whole economy of the Divine dispensations, and 
is ordered and overruled for the accomplishment of His 
ends. The Divine ordination in this sphere of liberty does 
not impinge upon the creature's efficiency ; he is the author 
of the deeds. How this can be — that is, how we can rec- 
oncile an universal and absolute decree with this causative 
power in the creature — is a question perhaps of insuperable 
difficulty, but what question is there touching the relations 
of the infinite and finite which does not transcend our capa- 
cities ? Both doctrines are revealed, and both are evident 
to reason and consciousness, and we should accordingly 
accept both, and wait for a higher form of knowledge for 
the solution of the mystery. We should give to God the 
glory of His supremacy ; we should not deny to the crea- 
ture the properties that God has bestowed. We should not 
be afraid to say, My act, or My thought, or My feeling, be- 
cause whatever is positive or real in these functions should 
be ascribed only to God. They are ours by a power which 
God imparted to us, and every abuse of these faculties is an 
act which must be ascribed in all its relations to the will of 
the creature, and the creature alone. AVhen Adam ate of 
the forbidden fruit, or Avhen a sinner now blasphemes God 
and sheds the innocent blood of his neighbour, God does 
not move him to these acts. They are, in no proper sense, 
from God ; they are his own, and if he is moved to them, 
he is moved to them only by himself or the Devil. 

On these grounds we are constrained to dissent from the 
theory which resolves sin into privation and all sinfulness 
into an empty abstraction. While there is privation in 
every sin, there is something more ; there is a real and posi- 
tive potency to mischief. It is a pow^r, 
raS,!' °°* '"'" ""' as holiness 'is a power, but a power work- 
ing to disorder, confusion and death. It 
is not simply the absence of beauty ; it is the presence of 
deformity ; not simply the unlovely, but the positively hate- 
ful ; not simply the want of order, but real disorder. As 
we have seen that righteousness expresses objectively the 


qualities which constitute the good, and holiness the sul:)- 
jective state which apprehends them in all their manifesta- 
tions as good, so sin must be taken in a corresponding sense 
as denoting the qualities opposed to righteousness — the bad, 
the unjust, and the state which embraces and inclines to 
these qualities. In the first sense, it is applicable to actions 
or failures to act, and indicates that they want the property 
of rectitude or are positivel}^ contradictory to law ; they are 
wrong or cruel or unjust. In the second sense, it indicates 
habits and dispositions of the soul which either fail to ap- 
prehend and delight in the right as also the good, or which 
positively take pleasure in and exalt to the place of the 
good other objects which in that relation are not good at all. 
Man must have a good; he must love something, and as 
holiness loves God, so sin loves the personal creature itself. 
We must guard against the error of making moral dis- 
Morai distinctions tinctious cxclusively subjcctivc. We have 
not exclusively sub- geeu thatGod,as object to Himself, is the 
standard of perfect righteousness, and that 
consequently whatever is in harmony with the Divine nature 
is, on that account, righteous ; that God, as subject, contem- 
plates His own perfections with infinite complacency and 
delight ; and that this infinite love to His own infinite right- 
eousness constitutes the Divine holiness. In the same way, 
holiness in man is that subjective state which takes de- 
light in the good as an objective quality, which loves God 
supremely for His righteousness, and loves whatever is 
accordant with the character of God. Unless this distinc- 
tion is maintained we annihilate the moral differences of 
actions. Everything will depend upon the motive ; if that 
is good the deed, no matter how disastrous or revolting, is 
to be accepted as right. There must, therefore, be admitted 
an objective rectitude which distinguishes the love that we 
denominate holiness from every other love. On the same 
ground there must be maintained an objective quality in 
sin, either privative or positive, and in the subjective state 
which can choose the things defiled by this quality without 


being revolted or disgusted. The sin may be in the act as 
and sin may be in the ^ell as in the motive. True holiness loves 
act as well as the mo- only the really good — that is, the really 

right. The love of anything else under 
the disguise of right is the counterfeit of holiness, and not 
the Divine reality. »The love to a thing that is not right, 
whether its unrighteousness be the ground of the love or 
not, is sin, because a holy being would instantly recoil from 
what was contradictory to the good. To constitute sin it is 
not required that a man should actually mean to do wrong. 
The probability is that the deliberate choice of evil as evil, 
or the making of it, because it is evil, the good of the soul, 
is a degree of wickedness very seldom reached by men in 
this world. That is the characteristic of lost spirits in the 
world of woe. It is enough that a thing is embraced as a 
good notwithstanding it is evil .; that the heart can cleave to 
it while it is abominable to God and destructive of the come- 
liness and beauty of our own natures. 

As a nature which manifests itself in supreme love to the 

supreme good is the bond of unity in a holy 

Is there any princi- i-r. ,1 ,• • -tTri , • j.1 

pie of unity in the bis, tlic qucstiou aoscs, VVnat IS the prin- 
ciple of unity in the life of sin ? Is there 
any common ground in which all the cor- 
rupt habits and dispositions of the sinner meet and from 
which they proceed ? Or are they to be considered as so 
many broken and detached fragments, which have no cohe- 
rence but their common subjective relation to one and the 
same person ? Is the sinner, in the absence of the uniting 
principle of holiness, to be considered as the victim of im- 
pulses, successively excited by the objects which present 
themselves in the course of his experience ? Or is there some- 
thing within him which answers to the stability and fixed- 
ness of character ? Is there a sinful as there is a holy nature, 
in the sense in which nature has already been defined ? It 
is not a satisfactory answer to this question to say that a 
state of sin, subjectively considered, is illustrated by the 
analogy of death. Nothing more can be extracted from this 

life of sin ? And what 
is it? 


term, taken alone, than the absence of life. It implies the 
removal of all those forces and energies which belonged to 
the living being — but nothing more, ex vi termini. But 
there are other expressions which teach, very distinctly, that 
there is such a unity in sin. The carnal mind is said to be 
enmity against God ; sinners are represented as the enemies 
of God ; and the notion of redemption as implying recon- 
ciliation presupposes an attitude of hostility in which the 
parties stand to each other. Now, enmity is not simply the 
absence of love — a condition of mere indifference ; it is a 
principle of repugnance, of active opposition, of open and 
decided resistance. It implies that there is in man and in 
every sinner a generic disposition which determines all his 
volitions and habits, and determines them in positive con- 
tradiction to the Divine will. The moral 

It is opposition to fn r, . . -i . ■, 

God; hte ol sm turns ujion the single pomt of 

opposition to God. Here, all forms of sin, 

however various and inconsistent in other respects, centre 

and harmonize. "Its proper formal object," says Owen,^ 

"is God; it is enmity against God It hath, as it 

were, that command from Satan which the Assyrians had 
from their king : ' Fight neither with small nor great, save 
only with the king of Israel.' It is neither great nor small, 
but God Himself, the King of Israel, that sin sets itself 
against. There lies the secret, formal reason of all its op- 
position to good, even because it relates unto God. May a 
road, a trade, a way of duties be set up, where communion 
with God is not aimed at, but only the duty itself, as is the 
manner of men in most of their superstitious worship ; the 
opposition that will lie against it from the law of sin will 
be very weak, easy and gentle. Or, as the Assyrians, be- 
cause of his show of a king, assaulted Jehosliaphat, but when 
they found it was not Ahab, turned back from pursuino- 
him ; because there is a show and appearance of the worship 
of God, sin may make head against it at first, but when the 
duty cries out in the heart, that, indeed, God is not there, 
^ Indwell. Sin, chap. iv. 


sin turns away to seek out its proper enemy, even God Him- 
self, elsewhere. The law of sin makes not opposition to any 
duty, but to God in every duty." If now the formal nature 
of sin is enmity against God — and such it must be if sin is 
not only the negation but the positive contrast of holiness — 
this enmity must, first of all, manifest itself in the denial or 
rei^udiation of that fundamental relation of absolute depend- 
ence which essentially characterizes the 

it repudiates His au- , rni ^ • • • n j i • 

t2jo,.ity. creature. 1 he subject manitests his enmity 

to his prince by striking at the root of his 
authority and committing treason against his sovereignty. 
The sinner, in like manner, strikes at the very root of the 
Divine jurisdiction over him, and sets up for himself. He 
will not have God to reign over him, but is resolved to be 
his own master. He denies God to affirm himself. The 
claims of God are always those of a rival, and always pro- 
voke his opposition and rebellion. Hence, self, as the rival 
, .. ., . and the enemy of God, becomes the rulino; 

and it commits trea- J ' to 

son against His sov- principle of siii, and collects together all the 
threads of the complicated and various life 
of the sinner into the single web of treason against the ab- 
solute sovereignty of God. 

From this qualitative consideration of good and evil we 
are conducted to the same results in relation 

The same results ■ .1 ± i* • t • l 1, 

reached as before, ^O tllC naturC of SlU whlch WC haVC prCVl- 

ously reached from an estimate of its ob- 
jective and subjective aspects in relation to the law. It was 
there shown that it is disobedience to God, as the law is only 
an authoritative expression of the will of God ; it has been 
here shown that the law is also a revelation of the nature of 
God as infinitely righteous and just, and consequently sin 
must stand not only in opposition to His Avill, but in equal 
opposition to His being and His glory. It was there shown 
that the inward principle which prompts a man to violate 
or come short of the glory of God is the virtual denial of 
his real position as a creature, and the practical assumption 
of an attitude of independence and self-sufficiency which re- 


nounces all the rights of the Creator — self-seeking in the 
place of God-seeking. It has here been 

and sin is seen to be i j_i x j^i j* ^ • • i i* ' • 

enmity against God. ^hown that the formal principle of sm is 
enmity against God — an attitude of hos- 
tility to His nature, His being and His law ; and enmity 
can only be conceived as manifested in throwing oif its alle- 
giance and claiming to be its own master. From every 
point of view, therefore, we are conducted to substantially 
the same conclusion ; and that conclusion presents sin in an 
aspect which should make every reflecting being shudder. 
The notion of a creature, whose being is a gift, setting itself 
up against the great God, and assuming a position of open 
and undisguised enmity, is surely enough to fill our minds 
with horror and dismay. Sin stands revealed in awful ma- 
lignity as a profane attempt to dethrone the Most High and 
to exalt ourselves to His glory and sovereignty. Whilst it 
strikes at God, it recoils upon ourselves, and in separating 
us from the source of all real and solid good, it robs our 
souls of their native beauty and excellence, pollutes them in 
every f\iculty with foul deformity, and makes them a hideous 
and ghastly spectacle — a loathsome and putrid mass to all 
intelligent beings that have retained their integrity. In our 
present condition we can form no adequate conception of how 
utterly despicable sin is ; much less can we conceive its 
fearful tendencies to mischief and anarchy and ruin. To 
strike the sun from the heavens, and to break the stars loose 
from the influence of the forces which now retain them in 
their orbits, to set every planet rushing wildly and darkly 
through space and bring ten thousand worlds in furious col- 
lision, are but slight matters compared witli that havoc 
which sin seeks to make in the moral universe in seeking to 
expel God from the supremacy ; to break the forces which 
now hold angels and men in harmony, peace and order from 
their common subjection to Him ; and to make every creature 
that has a will the mortal enemy or the remorseless tyrant 
of every other rational being. In this world the tendencies 
of sin are constantly repressed and checked. It is never 


permitted to exist in full and complete development. It is 
ever mingled with the good in the form of the right, where 
it does not recognize the right as being the divinely good. 
It is never found as completed enmity to God, wdien every 
fragment of the law is effaced from the conscience and the 
soul stands as the embodiment of selfishness and hate. 
Were this consummation realized, the earth would vomit 
out its inhabitants as being unable to endure their abomina- 
tions. Such a condition of things will be found in hell. 
There sin w^ill have its perfect work. There will be anarchy. 
There will be a state utterly and for ever intolerable. The 
single statement that the native tendency of sin is to destroy 
God, and instead of a will infinitely wise and just and holy, 
to enthrone millions of wills in selfish isolation and in deadly 
hostility, gives us a clue to the chapter of horroi-s which sin 
would inevitably Avork out in the universe if it were per- 
mitted to realize its own inborn instincts. Well may it be 
called the abominable thing which God hates. It is a 
marvel of patience that He can bear with the transgressor a 
single instant — a marvel of love, an incomprehensible mys- 
tery of grace, that He should ever forgive it, and much more 
that He should raise traitors to the dignity and glory of 
sons. How wonderful are His judgments, and His ways 
past finding out ! 

III. In the foregoing discussion concerning the nature of 
sin, while it has all along been tacitly assumed that a ra- 
tional, intelligent being is the only subject that is capable 
of it, the precise conditions of responsibility have not been 
articulately stated. From the analysis of holiness it evi- 
dently demands all the higher faculties of our nature ; it is 
the consummation in living unity of intelligence, reason, 
conscience and taste. Sin, on the other hand, is the perver- 
^, , ,. ,, ,. sion of all. But in what relation do holi- 

The relation of holi- 
ness and sin to tiie ^^egg and siu staud to the will ? And how 

far does the question of power condition the 

reality of guilt or righteousness ? Are wc prepared to say 

that no action is ffood w^hich has not been done with the 


free consent of the agent, and that no action is bad which it 
was not in his power to have avoided ? As to the first ques- 
tion, little need be added to what has already been said. 
The lov^e of righteousness is indispensable to works of right' 
eousness, and any acts, however just and proper in them- 
selves, which have not been performed under the influence 
of this love, are destitute of moral worth. But are the 
acts and habits which a sinner finds to be beyond the con- 
trol of his will stripped of their sinfulness by the circum- 
stance of his inability ? Here a distinction must be made. 
We must distinguish between inability as original and in- 
ability as penal. Moral power is nothing 
and'iMbimyp''L'uai"^^ morc uor less than holy habitudes and dis- 
positions ; it is the perception of the beauty 
and the response of the heart to the excellence and glory of 
God, and the consequent subjection of the will to the law of 
holy love. Spiritual perception, spiritual delight, spiritual 
choice, these and these alone constitute ability to good. 
Now, if we could conceive that God had made a creature 
destitute of these habits, if we could conceive that he came 
from the hands of the Creator in the same moral condition 
in which our race is now born, it is impossible to vindicate 
the obligation of such a creature to holiness upon any prin- 
ciple of justice. It is idle to say that his inability is but the 
intensity of his sin, and the more helpless the more wicked. 
His inability is the result of his constitution ; it belongs to 
his very nature as a creature, and he is no more respoiisible 
for such defects than a lame man is responsible for his hob- 
bling gait or a blind man for his incompetency to distin- 
guish colours. He is what God made him ; he answers to 
the idea of his being, and is no more blameworthy for the 
deformed condition of his soul than a camel for the de- 
formity of its back. The principle is intuitively evident 
that no creature can be required to transcend its powers. 
Ability conditions responsibility. An original inability, 
natural in the sense that it enters into the notion of the 
creature as such, completely obliterates all moral distinc- 


tions with reference to the acts and habits embraced within 

its sphere. And if this had been what the advocates of 

„.^ .. „ , natural ability meant, their position would 

W hat IS really meant •' ' ^ 

by t)ie advocatfis of havc bccu impregnable. But this is not 
what they mean ; they do not represent the 
natural as that which pertains to the idea and original state 
of the creature. In this sense, moral and natural ability 
are not distinguished as separate species, but the moral is 
the natural ability ; the moral habits are the very things by 
which a moral creature possesses any ability to do good at 
all. They contend, on the other hand, that there inay be 
the entire absence of all holy principles, of all spiritual dis- 
cernment and love, and yet that the creature thus destitute 
of these may be possessed of a power of another kind to do 
good, upon which his responsibility is conditioned. Upon 
their hypothesis it is conceivable that a man may be origi- 
nally corrupt as a creature, and yet under obligation to keep 
the perfect law of God. Their ability when narrowly ex- 
amined turns out to be a mere play with the ambiguity of 
language, or the denial in one form of what they have 
affirmed in another. Sometimes it is represented as the 
mere possession of the faculties and attributes of reason, 
intelligence and will, abstracted from any determinate states 
in relation to holiness or sin. A being thus existing in 
jmris naturalibiis we have already seen to involve an absurd- 
ity ; its very attitude of indeterminateness to good would be 
sin. It is precisely in the character of its determinations, 
and of them alone, that its good and evil consist. At other 
times it is represented as an inherent power of the will to 
choose either good or evil. But to choose good without 
loving it is not holiness, and unless the will can directly 
produce the spiritual perception of the beauty, and the 
spiritual delight in the excellence of the good, its choice is 
utterly worthless. It is the blind fumbling in the dark; 
tiiough he may chance to be walking among jewels, they 
are nothing more to him than charcoal or dung. The most 
offensive form in which this doctrine of natural ability has 


been stated is that in which it is said that every act of will 
is determined by the personal relations of the good to our- 
selves, and that although we may not choose God because 
we love Him and delight in Him, we may choose Him be- 
cause His favour is our highest interest; that this act of 
choice, on account of the nature of its object, is holy, and 
Avill ultimately lead to spiritual habits and perceptions. 
This is really to make sin the minister of holiness, and that 
selfishness which is the very essence of rebellion the produc- 
tive cause of righteousness. 

These distinctions and evasions show conclusively that the 
natural ability which I make essential to responsibility is a 
very different thing from that which many divines have 
invented as the condition on which man is responsible since 
the fall. 

But there is another, a penal inability. It is that which 
man has superinduced by his own volun- 

Man's inability the , , . . tt , n 

result of choice. ^ary transgressiou. He was naturally 

able — that is, created with all the habi- 
tudes and dispositions which were involved in the loving 
choice of the good. Rectitude was infused into his nature ; 
it entered into the idea of his being ; he was fully compe- 
tent for every exaction of the law. He chooses sin, and by 
that very act of choice impregnates his nature with con- 
trary hal^its and dispositions. His moral agency continues 
unimpaired through all his subsequent existence. He be- 
comes a slave to sin, but his impotence, hopeless and ruin- 
ous as it is, results from his own free choice. In the loss 
of habits he loses all real power for good ; he becomes com- 
petent for nothing but sin ; but he is held responsible for 
the nature which God gave him, and the law which consti- 
tutes its eternal norm according to the Divine idea and the 
spontaneous dictates of his own reason can never cease to 
be the standard of his being and life. All his descendants 
were in him when he sinned and fell. His act was legally 
theirs, and that depravity which he infused into his own 
nature in the place of original righteousness, has become 


their inheritance. They stand, therefore, from the first 
moment of their being, in the same relation to the law 
which he occupied at his fall. Their impotence is prop- 
erly their own. Here is not the place to show how this can 
be. I am only showing that there is a marked distinc- 
tion between the inability which begins with the nature of 
a being and the inability which it brings upon itself by sin ; 
that in the one case responsibility is measured by the extent 
of the actual power possessed, in the other by the extent of 
the power originally imparted. No subject by becoming a 
traitor can forfeit the obligation to allegiance ; no man can 
escape from the law by voluntary opposition to law. The 
more helpless a creature becomes in this aspect of the case, 
the more wicked ; the more he recedes from the Divine 
idea, from the true norm of his being, the more guilty and 
the more miserable. To creatures in a state of apostasy 
actual ability is not, therefore, the measure of obligation. 
They cannot excuse themselves under the plea of impotency 
when that very impotence is the thing charged upon them. 
For what is their impotence but the presence of vicious and 
corrupt habits ? That was the very thing forbidden to 
them, and their having disregarded the prohibition when 
they w^ere fully able to comply with it is the gravamen 
of their offence. 

The consciousness of every sinful being contains two facts, 

which, however difficult to reconcile with 
Bi^Zl^lTonJLTnZ each other, beautifully harmonize with the 

teaching of the Scriptures. The^^rs^ is the 
conviction that I might have been different — that my nature 
has been perverted and abused. This consciousness of hav- 
ing had the power to be otherwise is the groundswell of 
man's original condition. It is not implied in it that there 
is a present possession of power, but only that this power 
belongs to the idea of our natures as rational and intelligent 
and as creatures of God. Philosoj^hers, finding this con- 
sciousness in every guilty soul, have construed it into a de- 
claration of present ability, but it is the consciousness of 


Adam passing over into the bondage of the fall. It is an 
echo which God awakes and keeps alive in the soul to its 
pristine condition. The second is that my present state of 
sin is my own, it is the result of my own folly. These 
facts of consciousness the understanding sometimes attempts 
to suppress and smother by sophistical distinctions ; by 
attempts to make our being as a nature begin at our indi- 
vidual birth ; by charging upOn God our corrupt and crazy 
constitution ; or endeavouring to evade responsibility under 
the pretext of our present confessed inability. All these 
subterfuges prove mere refuges of lies. Our consciousness 
answers from its lowest depths, "You might have been 
otherwise, and you have made yourselves what you are. 
God gave you a sound constitution, and you have poisoned 
it with disease and death. God made you upright, but you 
have sought out many inventions." Apart from these con- 
victions we cannot conceive of the possibility of a conscious- 
ness of sin. 

Hence, to us in our present state the question of present 
ability does not condition the reality of sin. Whatever is 
contrary to the Divine ideal of man, according to the origi- 
nal constitution of the species, is sin. Our blindness, our 
hardness of heart, our ignorance of spiritual things so far 
as the knowledge of them pertained to our primitive con- 
dition, all must be imputed as sin. The whole law must 
be fulfilled ; to violate it on any point, no matter on what 
plea or pretext, is to become a transgressor before God. 



THE nature of sin in general having been discussed, the 
next thing that remains to be considered is those in- 
separable properties or effects which divines 

Inseparable, proper- i i j ^ ±^ j_ 

tiesoreflectsofsiu. ^^e accustomcd to cxprcss by the terms 
pollution and guilt — macula and reatus. 
Both are personal relations of sin, and though neither con- 
stitutes its formality or essence, neither can be detached 
from its being. Wherever there is sin, there is a stain ; 
Connection of the ^ud whcrcver thcrc is a stain, there is guilt. 
good and the beauti- The uotion of a stain shows the close con- 
nection between the conceptions of the 
beautiful and the good. This connection is founded in na- 
ture ; it is recognized in Scripture, and lies at the basis of 
the etliical value of art. In all languages, as Miiller has 
justly remarked, the same terms are employed " to denote 
perversion in both the spheres ;" and we instinctively feel 
that there is something of violence and disorder wlien the 
loveliness of external beauty is disjoined from the loveliness 
of internal harmony. The Scriptures constantly speak of 
the beauty of holiness, the beauty of the Lord our God, and 
especially of His glory, which is just the sj^lcndour or efful- 
gence of His beauty. It is through the sympathy of the 
beautiful and good that Art is made the minister of moral 
culture. It awakens the sense of propriety, refines the con- 
ception of decency and fitness, and trains us to those im- 
pressions of harmony in character which can only be realized 
through the culture of our moral nature. No representations 



of sin are more common than those which are derived from 

this connection. It is the ugly, the mon- 
ths sinful and tlic (ie- , j.1 1 i" 1 "x 1 'j. l • j. 

fy^jjjgj strous, the cletormed, it renders its subjects 

odious and disgusting ; they are foul, filthy, 
unclean ; and the analogy reaches its climax when the Sa- 
viour compares them to a cage of unclean birds. It was 
through the notion of uncleanness particularly that the Le- 
vitical ritual educated the people to a just appreciation of its 
malignity. It was figured in leprosy, the most loathsome 
disease to which the human frame was subject; it was 
graphically pictured in a dead body, which, at first shocking, 
becomes gradually, as the process of putrefaction goes on, 
intolerably offensive. Wounds, bruises and putrefying sores 
are familiar similes. The connection, indeed, of the two 
notions of the beautiful and the good, the deformed and the 
sinful, pervades the moral teaching of both Testaments. 
It is important to observe, however, that the ground of 
this connection is ethical and not sesthetic. 

Ethical, nut aesthetic. . „ , . , 

The first beautiful is the good, and to re- 
verse the order is to pervert our moral culture from the 
education of principles to the indulgence of mere sensibility. 
To reduce righteousness to a matter of taste, and to make its 
regulative authority depend upon its appeal to our aesthetic 
sentiments, is to inflict a fatal blow upon the proper con- 
sciousness of right, and to make holiness amount to nothing 
but a refined imagination. The pesthetic sentiment should 
be regarded as a reflection from the moral sphere ; a transfer 
to the sensational world of those perceptions which are found 
in their purity only in the region of the spiritual and divine. 
It is as nature and art imitate the harmony, loveliness and 
glory of the truly good, that they become the truly beautiful. 
The charms of sense are but feeble echoes of the bliss of 
spirit; the melody of sounds a faint echo of the higher 
music of the soul. There is a first perfect and first fair ; 
and these coincide with the first good, and from it must 
take their measures and significancy. This supremacy of 
the moral sentiments must be maintained in order to give 

Vol. T.— 26 


health and consistency to the pleasures of taste ; they are apt 
to evaporate into a sickly and morbid sentinientalism unless 
braced and invigorated by clear, moral perceptions. 

In conformity, therefore, with this mode of representation, 
sin is the really and originally ugly, and 

Pin is the real and ji • • i j. • i? 

original «i/j^. nothmg IS Ugly except in consequence of 

its analogies to sin. But deformity, un- 
cleanness, filth, and such like expressions, indicate not only 
a property of sin objectively considered, but they imply 
rather the effect which it produces upon its subjects. It 
leaves the impress of its odious features behind it. Where- 
ever it touches it leaves its slime ; wherever it is permitted 
to lodge it leaves its likeness. It makes the soul the reflec- 
tion of its own deformity. The man becomes filthy, odious, 
abominable. This power of sin to mutilate the soul, to 
deprive it of the harmony of its proportions, to spoil it of 
all moral beauty and to make it hateful and disgusting, is 
what is meant by its polluting power. 
What IS meant ly rpj uo;liness wliicli it crcates is its blot 

its polluting power. o 

or stain. It is a great mistake to suppose 
that even transient acts of sin pass from the soul and leave 
it as they found it. They always impress it with a tendency 
to reproduce themselves. They give it a determinate bias 
to the repetition of the same kind of acts. They leave 
their image in the very mould of the moral nature. Be- 
sides the tendency to generate themselves, which by repeti- 
tion grows into a fixed habit, they derange the whole struc- 
ture of the soul and put it out of joint for all that is good. 
They pervade the entire man like a disease, which, however 
it may at first affect a single organ, soon spreads through all 
the parts of the body. Habits of sin arc all so many blots 
or stains, and when there is a general habitude to sin it is 
like an universal ulcer. Such is the condition to which 
the sinner is brought. He is morally ulcerated from 
head to foot ; he is one universal mass of gangrenous mat- 
ter. No holy being can look at him without disgust. He 
is covered with filth, and repels all approach of the pure 

Lfxt. XY.] the pollution AND GUILT OF SIX. 403 

and good by his shocking outrages upon all that is decent 
and comely. 

The sentiment which is proper to sin, considered as the 
vile, the ugly, the dirty or the mean, is 

Sin as the vile and ■! j. p i tj^ • ±^ /» t it i 

mean makes ashanned. ^^at of shame. It IS the fcelmg that We 

arc justly exposed to contempt — that we 
are fit for nothing but to be despised. The man who is con- 
scious of sin in this relation feels that he is degraded — de- 
graded in his own eyes and in the eyes of all who are com- 
petent to judge. His pride fails to sustain him, for its very 
food is gone ; his self-respect vanishes before the withering 
revelation of his baseness. As the emotions of both honour 
and shame depend upon the opinion of others, it is neces- 
Expianation of our ^ary, in ordcr to a full elucidation of the 
sensibility to the opin- filthincss of sin, to cxplaiu the nature of 

ions of others. , , m •!• 

that nice sensibility to character or the 
estimation in which we are held by others which gives to 
their opinions the power to strengthen or annoy. No part 
of our constitution has attracted more general attention, or 
been investigated with less accuracy and philosophical dis- 
crimination, and no part of our constitution contains a clearer 
revelation of the moral character of God, or a clearer instance 
of a moral administration carried on in the present life. 
Bishop Butler was aware of the significance of the topic, 
and the brief hints which he has thrown out are pregnant 
with meaning. The fact is indisputable : God has made 
our hearts almost as responsive to the sentiments of others 
as we are to our own. Their censures distress us, their 
praises elate us, their approbation is a spring of serenity 
and peace. We enjoy their smiles, we dread their frowns. 
Hence arises the proverbial power of public opinion, and 
the power of concentrated opinion in any club or societv, 
however small. The individual quails before the mass, or 
derives new courage and zeal from the cheers and conffratu- 
lations of those around him and with whom he is united. 
But opinion, though it may mortify and distress, never 
really degrades a man until it accords with his own innate 


sense of unworthiness and meanness. It is only when it is 
the echo of the secret judgment of his own soul that he 
cowers before it, and is unable to hold up his head for 
shame and confusion of face. On the other hand, he is 
rather rebuked by his own inward nature when he yields 
to it in contradiction to the dictates of his oy\ni conscience. 
He feels it to be noble, and the world acknowledges it to be 
heroic, to stand out against the multitude when he is per- 
suaded that the multitude is wrong. The sublimest in- 
stances of virtue are those in which good men have braved 
popular prejudice and popular fury, and dared to be right 
amid storms of calumny and denunciation. It is clear, 
then, that opinion was designed to have force only as it 
represents the judgment of truth and righteousness. It is 
the consciences of others that must condemn us before their 
censures can really harm us. It has obviously been the 
aim of God to fortify our own moral sentiments by those 
of our fellow-men — to make each man's conscience operate 
through opinion upon the conscience of every other. In 
this way society strengthens virtue, the approbation of 
society being a sanction of the same kind, and as powerful, 
in vindication of integrity as the approliation of our own 
hearts. The sentiments of honour and shame lend new 
support to the sentiment of right, and impart a new sting 
to the horrors of remorse. Now, it is a singular circum- 
stance that our own moral natures never become fully alive 
to the baseness of sin as long as we can fancy it concealed. 
We may recognize ourselves as shameworthy, but we turn 
away from the spectacle of our own meanness until it has 
been exposed to the gaze of others. Detection removes all 
masks and evasions, and as it. brings public sentiment upon 
the offender in concurrence M'ith his own inward condemna- 
tion of himself, the sense of shame becomes insupportable if 
the transgression has been flagrantly disgraceful. So in- 
tense is the agony under these circumstances that the strong- 
est passions of human nature are not unfrequently subdued 
by it, and the most powerful impulses held in absolute abey- 


ance. The virgin who has lost her chastity will overcome 
the mightiest instinct of a mother's heart, love for her own 
offspring, and make way with the child of her infamy and 
guilt that she may screen her crime from exposure and 
escape the withering scowl of shame. She maintains the 
struggle against herself as long as it is confined to her own 
bosom, but she knows that she must yield and forfeit the 
last remnant of self-respect the very moment her wicked- 
ness is brought out into light. The scowl of society, the 
finger of scorn, the contempt of the virtuous and pure, — 
these are tortures which our sensibility to the opinion of 
others, when we know that opinion to be just, connects with 
the baseness of crime, and tortures against which no forti- 
tude can effectually steel the heart. It is the reaction of 
the pollution of sin upon the sinner's own soul. The light 
of opinion reveals the enormity of the case, as the sun 
shines upon sinks of filth, and lays bare their loathsome- 
ness. This pollution, as it constantly increases with the 
increasing power of evil, will be a perpetual source of tor- 
ture throughout the endless duration of 
tempt a perpetual the soul. The wickcd, wc are told, shall 
source of torture to a^yakc to sliamc and everlasting contempt. 

the wicked. ^ . 

In the morning of the resurrection they 
will be presented before the bar of God in dreadful con- 
trast with the pure, the holy and the good. They will feel 
that they are degraded ; that they have disgraced their na- 
ture ; that they are utterly mean and vile, and unable to 
hold up their heads for shame and confusion of face ; they 
will be ready to slink away like a dog detected in what he 
knows will provoke the scorn of his master. Men prate of 
their honour now, and swell with conceit of their dignity 
and beauty, but every sinner then will be deeply conscious 
that his honour is lost, that infamy is his lot, and that ever- 
lasting scorn and contempt must be poured upon him from 
the throne of God and the general assembly of the just. 
Sin is vile, it is disgraceful and degrading, but sinners in 
this world shun exposure and keep one another in counte- 


nance by lowering the standard of public reprobation. 
Hereafter, the shame of their nakedness will be made to 
appear, and under the withering agony of mortification and 
disgrace they would account it a privilege to die. 

When we compare the sense of shame which accompanies 
moi'al degradation with that which acconi- 

The shame of sin • , i . ^ , -, 

like no other shame. pames cvcry othcr spccics of indecency, we 
see at once that there is a marked difference. 
Deformity of any kind is apt to be mortifying ; but the mor- 
tification which we experience in consequence of a disfigured 
limb, a distorted countenance or a hobbling gait is not to 
be confounded with that shame which we experience when 
detected in a mean and dirty act. Physical ugliness may be 
offensive, but it inspires no such emotions as those which are 
excited by moral obliquity. In this case, shame borrows a 
shade from another element — it easily 

Glides into remorse. . t • n 

glides into remorse, ihe peculiarity oi 
moral excellence is, that it is felt to be intriiisically worthy 
of reward ; of moral evil, that it is felt to be intrinsically 
worthy of punishment. The elements of good and ill desert 
condition every moral cognition, and impart the peculiarities 
which belong to moral beauty and deformity. The stain of 
sin is a stain sui generis — it cannot be washed out by tears 
or removed by penances ; it has that about it which demands 
the interposition of a judge and the hand of the executioner. 
It has put the transgressor in a relation to law and justice 
which, as his own conscience assures him, makes him the 
righteous victim of death. This property of sin, which is 
inseparable from its nature, and which makes its stain so 
peculiar and so fatal, is one which particularly demands our 
investigation. It is called guilt, and is the connecting link 
between the crime and its punishment. It is commonly 
divided into potential and actual} Potential guilt is only 

1 [Guilt is commonly represented as the obligation to punishment 
arising from the ill desert of sin ; and as this oliligation may be either 
moral, springing from the inherent righteousness of the case, or judicial, 
springing from the sentence of the law, divines are accustomed to re- 


another name for the intrinsic ill desert of sin ; it expresses 
its punisliableness, or, what is the same 

Guilt, potential and , i • , i '111 r ±1 

g^pj^ij^, thing, the punishableness oi the sinner 

on account of it. Wherever the stain of 
sin adheres to any being, it carries along with it this expo- 
sure to righteous condemnation. He who has the blot de- 
serves to die. Actual guilt is the same as condemnation — it 
is the sentence of a judge dooming the man to death. Of 
course, it presupposes guilt in the former sense ; a man must 
be punishable before he can be condemned. In ordinary 
language, guilt is probably taken, for the most part, in the 
first sense. It is used to denote the notion that an individual 

solve guilt into two determinations — potential and actual. Potential 
guilt is only another name for the intrinsic ill desert of sin. Actual guilt 
is actual condemnation, or the positive ordination to punishpient in con- 
formity with the sanction of the law. Potenti;iJ guilt is the moral neces- 
sity of punishment — cligniias 'pance ; actual guilt is the judicial necessity 
of j^unishment — obligatio ad pcenam. It seems to me, however, that the 
potential is the only real guilt ; and that the actual is not so much guilt 
as the consequence of guilt. The sentence makes no man guilty — it only 
l^resupposes that he is so. Guilt is the ground and not the essence of con- 
demnation. I should therefore restrict the proper notion of guilt to the 
moral necessity of punishment arising from the ill desert of sin. It is 
that which justly exposes a man to punishment — the righteous and formal 
ground of it. ■ He is guilty who deserves to be condemned, whether he is 
actually condemned or not This is the sense in which the word is uni- 
versally employed in human tribunals. Every criminal prosecution aims 
first to ascertain the guilt of the accused — that is, his dignitas pee) ice ; and 
then the sentence is pronounced according to the facts of the case. At the 
Divine tribunal it must be admitted that the two things always coincide. 
With God dignitas pcBntB and obligatio ad poenam are but the same thing, 
as Owen observes, in divers words. To be worthy of deatli and to be 
doomed to death are always inseparable ; and though the logical distinc- 
tion betwixt them still holds as a matter of thought, yet as a matter of 
fact they can never be sundered. In the manifestation of guilt through 
tlie conscience, both are given in one and the same operation, so that the 
feeling of ill desert and the feeling of condemnation blend into perfect 
unity. In consequence of this necessary connection, the two determina- 
tions of divines may be retained without injury, though the language is 
unfortunate in wliich they are expressed. It is certainly incongruous to 
represent that as only potential, only in the way of becoming guilt, which 
is the very essence of the thing, and without which the actual is mere 


has really perpetrated an offence, and is justly obnoxious to 
punishment on account of it. It is only in theological lan- 
guage that the actual subjection to the sentence of condem- 
nation is expressed in terms of guilt : " He is guilty of 

The mode in which the sense of guilt manifests itself is 
through the feeling of remorse — the most painful and ex- 
cruciating (especially when mingled, as it always is, "^vith the 
sense of shame) that the human bosom is capable of enduring. 
Remorse, or the ^^ ^s always occasioucd by reflection upon 

sense of guilt, Ims two the wickcdnCSS of COuduct. It is the sen- 
ingredients : first, tlie . i • i 

conviction tiiat sin tcucc 01 Condemnation which we pass upon 
ought to be punished ; ou^-geives for havliig acted or being in a 
state contradictory to rectitude. There are obviously two 
ingredients which enter into this cup of bitterness. There 
is first tlie conviction — the prime element of guilt — of ill 
desert. We feel, not only that we have done wrong, that 
we have departed from a rule, and that w^e are what we 
ought not to be, but that our transgressions deserve punish- 
ment. It is the conviction of this intrinsic ill desert of sin 
that lies at the foundation of all penal statutes and civil ex- 
ecutions. This makes us contemplate crime as a punishable 
thing. We make a distinction betwixt the excesses of the 
maniac and the excesses of those wdio are in full possession 
of their faculties. The lunatic takes away life by an act of 
violence — his act does not reflect itself upon his own soul 
either as a stain or as guilt. It leaves no trace of itself. 
We never think of stigmatizing it as murder, or the agent 
as a criminal. We may confine him on principles of pru- 
dence and precaution, and deprive him of all instruments 
and opportunities of mischief; but his restraint is no more a 
punishment than the caging of a wild beast to prevent him 
from doing mischief. The reason is, we associate no feelings 
of demerit or ill desert with his actions, however violent or 
hurtful. He is neither felt to be nor treated as responsible. 
That the sense of ill desert is painful and distressing, those 
need not be reminded wdio have ever experienced in their 


own souls what it is to be conscious that they are worthless. 
It is the convict's feeling, whose heart tells him that he has 
forfeited his position in society, and is no longer entitled to 
enjoy the rights and privileges which pertain to other men. 
No man under its influence can raise his head or walk at 
ease among his fellows, or enjoy the goods of life. He feels 
— he cannot but feel — that sin brands him as an outcast, and 
that he has lost his title to the ordinary lot of humanity. 
Like the ancient leper, he must stand aloof from the contact 
of other men, and with the symbols of his degradation about 
him constantly exclaim, " Unclean ! unclean ! " 

In the next place, remorse involves a fearful looking-for 

of judgment arising from the condemning sentence which 

we arc constrained to pass upon ourselves. The sense of 

. „ . . demerit, or the conviction that sin ought to 

second, the conviction ' o 

that sin will be pnn- \)q puuislicd, ucccssarily givcs rise to the 
still more painful conviction that sin will 
be punished. " For wickedness condemned by her own wit- 
ness is very timorous, and being pressed with conscience 
always forecasteth grievous things." Bishop Butler has 
conclusively shown that the operations of our moral nature 
involve a promise not only implied, but express, on the part 
of God of reward to the obedient and a corresponding 
threat of punishment to the guilty. There is in the bosom 
of every transgressor a trembling apprehension of future 
judgment, and so clear and definite is the reference of con- 
science to the awards of a higher tribunal, that the best and 
wisest philosophers have not scrupled to assert the absolute 
impossibility of atheism as long as this faculty continues to 
exert its power in the breast. It is a witness for God and 
a witness for retributive justice which sophistry and philoso- 
phy, falsely so called, find it impossible to bribe or silence. 
It deserves to be remarked, however, that the dread of pun- 
ishment is one thing and the punishment itself another. 
There is in remorse, as in all fear, torment, but it is not the 
torment of the actual infliction of the penalty of the law ; 
it is the agony which, in a nature like ours, anticipated evils 


are fitted to produce. Conscience condemns us in God's 
name, and it is the awful shadows of God's wrath projected 
beforehand upon the soul which fill it with consternation 
and terror. That wrath is yet to be revealed. Conscience 
is not the curse, but its sure forerunner. It is the expecta- 
tion of death, and the expectation of death distinctly be- 
cause it is felt to be deserved. 

This expectation obviously involves in it the other ele- 

The other element Hicnt of guilt, actual Condemnation, or ob- 

of guilt involved here; noxiousuess to punlshmcnt. The revela- 

and guilt in the cou- , n i • i 

science is God's pres- tiou 01 the punishmcnt as a thing that 
ent sentence of death, gj^^jj certainly take place is a present sen- 
tence of death. The sinner fears because he feels that he is 
already condemned. He is already under the judicial dis- 
pleasure of God. The decree has gone forth against him. 
Conscience manifests its terrible reality in the depths of his 
soul, and because he knows from the intrinsic demerit which 
sin has reflected upon him that it will and must be executed, 
he is filled with consternation and dread. 

The connection betwixt the manifestation of guilt in the 
conscience and the punitive justice of God has already been 
pointed out in the illustration of the nature of moral gov- 
ernment. It can only be evaded by misrepresenting the 
phenomena of remorse. To apprehend clearly the funda- 
mental notion of demerit is to recognize not only the cer- 
tainty but the necessity^ of punishment in contradistinction 

^ [The truth is, tlie inexorable necessity of the penal imperative is just 
as remarkable as the absolute authority of the precept. It is admitted 
on all hands that the obligation to obedience is unconditional and 
supreme ; nothing can dispense with it, nothing can absolve from it. 
The law addresses itself to the will in a categorical imperative which 
receives no excuses, accepts no apologies, and listens to no pleas or eva- 
sions in behalf of disobedience. The claims of duty are paramount and 
supreme. No man, under any circumstances or under any pretext, is at 
liberty to do wrong. But the law is not more unconditional in its com- 
mands than in its threatenings. The moral necessity of the precept is 
sustained by the moral necessity of the sanction. The obligation to obey 
is not more absolute than the obligation to suffer in case of disobedience. 
They are the counterparts of each other, and it is through their inviola- 


from all forms of disciplinary suffering. Penal justice does 
not aim at the reformation of the offender, but it asserts the 
awful inviolability of the moral law by the terrible wretch- 
edness with which it reacts upon the soul of the offender. 
It is the recoil of that law upon the person of him who had 
the audacity to resist it, and no surer sign 

Scruples about ciuii- n i i i /» T 

teipuuishineutahvays of moral dcgcneracy can be tound among 
asiguofmuraidegen- ^ people than a slckly fastidiousness in 

eiacy. -^ ■■■ "^ _ 

relation to the demands of justice. The 

following remarks of Miiller in his great work on sin ^ have 

as much significancy for us as for his own countrymen : 

" According to the moral necessity of punishment here 

recognized, we must regard it as one of the 

Miiller quoted. i • i i (» i ii t 

most decided symptoms oi a deadly disease 

ble relation that the equilibrium of the Divine government is maintained. 
The necessity of punishment, therefore, is as inexorable as the necessity 
of obedience. An unconditional dispensation with the penalty is no less 
a flagrant breach of justice than a dispensation with the precept. It is 
as wicked to say to the sinner, " Thou shalt not die," as to say to him, 
" Thou art at liberty to sin." Hence, punishment, in the ground of it, is 
not a matter of choice. It is not a thing which God may institute or 
abolish at will without reflecting on his glory. It is a tiling that He 
must do, or cease to be the holy and just God. Many lose the formal 
notion of justice by confounding it with discipline. They look upon it 
as designed to ameliorate and reform the offender, a species of education 
in which he is led away from sin to the love and practice of holiness. 
This is a great error. The end of punishment is to uphold tlie majesty 
of law. It seeks not to remove the offence, nor to change the personal 
character of the offender, but to express the intrinsic ill desert of the sin 
by the terrible rebound with which it recoils on the sinner in the form 
of suffering. It is a satisfaction to law, and can no more be separated 
from the notion of ill desert than duty can be separated from the notion 
of right. It is this sense of the inexorable necessity of the penal imper- 
ative that makes the sinner tremble. He sees that he must die, that the 
idea of an unconditional pardon is self-contradictory, that there is no 
hope without an adequate satisfaction, and of that nature gives no clear 

One of the worst signs of the times is the slender hold which the idea 
of punitive justice has upon the public mind. Moral order cannot be 
preserved without it, and it is a fatal symptom that a nation is tending 
to anarchy when it becomes indifferent to the first principle of prosperity.] 

1 Vol. i., p. 267. 


which gnaws at the heart of our national life, that our peo- 
ple, at least in so far as it is represented by the prevalent 
opinions of our educated classes, no longer earnestly believe 
the character of sin and crime to be that which deserves 
pmmhment. Whoever gives his attention to the discussions 
of our representative assemblies concerning capital punish- 
ment, political crime, civil offence, and the like, will every- 
where find this dissipation of the moral consciousness to be 
the fundamental feature. No one is more sure of the ap- 
plause of the majority than he who discovers some new 
means (under the protest of humanity, and of the partici- 
pation of the legislature and even of the judge in human 
weakness and the like) of disarming justice and of making 
the scoundrel and villain unpunishable before the law, and, 
where possible, before public opinion too. The first form 
which this moral rottenness theoretically assumes is com- 
monly that of a coarse or more cultivated doctrine of deter- 
minism. The actor is not the author of his act, but the 
circumstances, or the bad education, or the deficiency in 
social arrangements, which should make it easy for him to 
procure without resorting to crime the necessary means of 
subsistence. Crime is misfortune, not guilt, and then, of 
course, naturally enough, it appears very unjust to visit him 
who has been so unfortunate as to assassinate some one, with 
' the greater evil of his death.' Amongst those who think 
more deeply we then meet with the real consequences of 
this opinion in a decided moral skepticism, to which the 
moral law is only matter of arbitrary invention and social 
agreement. Here, too, the old rule holds good that he who 
has separated himself from God becomes a traitor to his own 
conscience. From the stagnant pool of moral corruption 
which the recent revolution discovered to us, there is no 
outlet for our nation until it has learned penitentially again 
to bow down to the earnest majesty of the Divine law. It 
is rather genuine humanity to recognize in the moral judg- 
ment of one who, deeply sunk in crime (for example, the 
murderer), places himself in the hands of justice with the 


consciousness of having forfeited his life with respect to 
both natural and legal rights, that he stands incomparably 
higher than the legislator or judge who will not pass the 
sentence of death upon him, because he is only to be pitied, 
not to be punished. The former has assaulted the law, but 
he is readily willing to make for the greatest violation the 
greatest satisfaction which he as a member of human society 
is able to make ; this latter destroys altogether, so far as he 
is able, the authority of the law." 

From the account which has been given of the sense of 
guilt, it seems to imply two propositions, which are some- 
times represented as peculiar to the Christian revelation, but 
which a more careful examination shows to be natural to the 
human mind. The first is, tliat from the 

One sin entails hope- , r" -ij. • j. '1 1 

less bondage to sin. ^cry uaturc of guilt ouc SHI eutails a hope- 
less bondage to sin. As the law makes no 
provision for pardon, and as all self-devised satisfactions are 
felt, in proportion to the degree of moral illumination, to bo 
delusive and worthless, the natural effect of guilt is to widen 
the breach betwixt the sinner and God. Sensible of the Di- 
vine displeasure, he is prone to withdraw farther and farther 
from the Divine presence. Like Adam, when he hears the 
voice of the Lord God walking in the' garden, he seeks to 
hide himself from the Divine eye. Every augmentation of 
guilt is an augmentation of his estrangement ; the more the 
sinner sins, the broader is the gulf betwixt him and God. 
Hence, all experience shows that the native tendency of 
punishment is to harden. It provokes the malignity of the 
heart against the law, against the judge, against all holy 
order. It exasperates the spirit of rebellion to unwonted 
fierceness, and makes the sinner desperate in sin. The 
apostle speaks of the la^v as provoking his secret lusts, in- 
stigating the opposition of the heart to God and working in 
him all manner of concupiscence. The picture which Thu- 
cydidcs draws of the moral effects of the plague at Athens 
(which the Greek theology taught them to regard as a pun- 
ishment from heaven, and which their own consciences could 


not have failed to accept in that light) is a pregnant illustra- 
tion of the native tendency of guilt when separated from the 
hope of pardon. " The historian tells us ' that, seeing death 
so near them, they resolved to make the most of life while 
it lasted by setting at naught all laws, divine and human, 
and eagerly plunging into every species of profligacy.' Nor 
was this conduct by any means confined to the most vile 
and worthless of the community ; for he complains of a 
general and permanent depravation of morals, which dated 
its origin from this calamity." ^ If this be so, the first sin 
must always be the commencement of a career to which 
there is no limit but the extinction of our being or a mar- 
vellous intervention of redeeming grace. He who begins to 
fall must continue to fall for ever, unless relief be found 
elsewhere than in himself To sin once is to be doomed to 
sin for ever, unless a ransom be found. The inexorable im- 
perative of penal justice puts a gulf betwixt the sinner and 
God which bars all hope of return. A froAvn rests upon the 
face of the judge which repels the transgressor and seals him 
up in despair. How little do men reflect what an awful 
thing sin is ! How little do they know of its inborn malig- 
nity ! How feebly conscious of the tremendous fact that it 
carries death in its very womb ! 

The other truth is, that as the state into which one sin 
introduces us is hopeless, the punishment 

One sin involves ^ ^ eudlcSS. If WC mUSt COUtiuUe tO 

endless punishment, 

sin, we must continue to die. The deeper 
we plunge in guilt, the deeper we sink in death. This truth 
seems to be shadowed forth in the very nature of the fear 
which enters into the constitution of remorse. A guilty con- 
science dreads the future ; it is always looking for a wrath 
to come. Even in our endless state, when we shall have 
entered upon the experience of penal fires, there Avill always 
be, in the prospective apprehension of guilt, a revelation of 
still deeper woe. The future will always be blacker than 
the present — the night ahead more appalling than aught 
1 Tlmcyd., ii., c. 35. Whately, Prel. Diss., p. 4G1. 


behind. Hell will be thick darkness, waxing blacker and 
blacker and blacker, for ever ! 

What a thing must sin be, when the mere sense of guilt, 
imperfectly revealed as it is in the conscience, is capable of 
producing such agony ! And what a thing must the second 
death be, when its mere shadows, projected upon our path, 
are so intolerable ! It is true that in the present life the 
consciousness of guilt is never co-extensive with the reality. 
JSIany are thoughtless ; many dissipate their moral convic- 
tions by sophistical evasions ; many are stupid. The moral 
nature has not been fairly developed. The amount of human 
guilt collectively, the amount of each man's own personal, 
individual guilt, is beyond anything that has ever entered 
into the consciousness of the race. The revelation that is to 
be made is appalling beyond the power of language to ex- 
press ; and when the roll is unfolded and the reality bursts 
upon each man's vision, the agony which it will produce, 
apart from any direct penal inflictions, will be unutterable. 
How conscience can torment us even here in this land of lies 
and deceit ! Are there not moments in which it rises in 
majesty, scatters the sophistries of a wicked heart and a 
duped understanding, and speaks in a language loud as 
thunder and clear as light in defence of truth, of righteous- 
ness and of God ? There are times when 
intoiIrabiTLw. ^"' ^^ makes the sinner tremble in the deepest 
recesses of his soul ; when it peojiles his 
solitude with ministers of vengeance ; disturbs his dreams 
with visions of wrath ; — when the fall of a leaf can strike 
him with horror ; when in every shadow he sees a ghost, in 
every tread he hears an avenger of blood, and in every sound 
the trump of doom. There is no anguish to be compared 
with that of remorse. The spirit of a man will sustain his 
infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear? 
Two circumstances There arc two circumstanccs which will 

in the future will add t •• • i ji i- a • . 

inconceivably to its distmguish thc Operations of conscience in 
"''■'■°'''- the future state, and which must add incon- 

ceivably to the horrors it now excites. In the first place, 


it will act with greater intensity than it does or can 

act here. The mind will be wound up to the highest 

pitch of excitement — its chords will be 

First, it will operate j^ • i ± _ii • i_ j_ _l • rm 

more intensely ; strauied to thcir utmost tcusion. ilie 

energy of the passions and emotions will 
consequently task the deepest capabilities of the soul. There 
will be as much intensity of eifort, as much condensation of 
spiritual power in a single exercise, as under ordinary cir- 
cumstances at present is embodied in a multitude of acts. 
Conscience, accordingly, will put forth all its vigour ; it will 
bury its whole sting in the heart of its victim. Every pang 
second, it will for ever ^ill be like a dcath-knell. In the next 
reprochice the past at placc, it will havc Constantly before it, in 

every moment. n ^^ ii . • iii • n 

full and luminous view, all the crimes of 
the whole life. Here, many are forgotten -, many are pro- 
nounced to be trivial ; many are excused, and the attention 
is diverted from more ; and it is only here and there, upon 
a few singular, bold and prominent transgressions, that con- 
science puts forth anything of its fury. But, hereafter, the 
whole life will be spread out like a map ; memory will be 
quickened to amazing rapidity and accuracy ; and the dis- 
tinctness of recollection will be like a stream of brimstone 
to feed the flames of remorse. Vice, it should never be for- 
gotten, through the principle of guilt is destined to immor- 
tality. Those deeds of darkness which we have forgotten, 
and which we have vainly hoped are consigned to oblivion, 
will rise before us in the future world like the ghosts of the 
murdered, and demand from eternal justice vengeance on 
our heads. There is nothing secret that shall not be made 
manifest, nothing buried that shall not be dug up and re- 
vived. The whole past must be reproduced ; we must con- 
front it face to face and abide the consequences. That 
rapidity of thought by which the history of years can be 
compressed into moments — by which, in a single second, 
months and years may be lived over in their full duration — 
by which the soul seems to escape from the limits of time, is 
one of the most mysterious properties of our being. In a 


dream, as we are all conscious, we can cross oceans, traverse 

continents, encounter numberless perils, and 

j)^ss through varied scenes of prosperity 

and suffering ; we can seem to experience all the diversified 

incidents of a long life, and it shall appear long to us at the 

time, and when we awake the hand may not sensibly have 

moved upon the face of the dial. There is in man a power 

to conquer time — it is dimly shadowed in our sleeping 

hours ; but when the future comes we shall then be able to 

collect all the past in every present and to appropriate much 

of the future. " I was once told," says De Quincey in a 

passage quoted by McCosh, " by a near relative of mine, 

that, having in her childhood fallen into a river, and being 

on the very verge of death but for the 

Drowning. . . , . i»i iii i 

critical assistance which reached her, she 
saw in a moment her whole life in its minutest incidents ar- 
ranged before her simultaneously, as in a mirror, and she 
had a faculty developed as suddenly for comprehending the 
whole and every part. This, from some ojaium experiences 
of mine, I can believe. I have, indeed, seen the same thing 
asserted twice in modern books, and accompanied by a re- 
mark which I am convinced is true : viz., that the dread 
book of account of which the Scriptures speak is, in fact, the 
mind itself of each individual. Of this, at least, I feel as- 
sured, that there is no such thing as forget- 
for-etting. ""^ ''^ ^^"S possiblc to the mind. A thousand ac- 
cidents may and will interpose a veil be- 
tween our present consciousness and the secret inscriptions 
on the mind ; accidents of the same sort will also rend away 
the veil ; but alike, Avhether veiled or unveiled, the inscrip- 
tion remains for ever, just as the stars seem to withdraw 
before the common light of day, whereas in fact, as we all 
know, it is the light which is drawn over them as a veil, and 
that they are waiting to be revealed when the obscuring 
daylight shall have been withdrawn." 

These two circumstances, the intensity with which it will 
operate and the power to reproduce the entire past in every 

Vol, I.— 27 


moment of the present, will give to remorse in the future 
world unspeakable power to torment. One shudders to 
think of it; it will indeed be a worm that never dies, a 
fire that is never quenched. If the remembrance of a sin- 
gle crime here can drive the criminal to madness, what shall 
be the distraction of his soul when all his sins shall rise 
from the grave before him, and the whole scroll of the past 
visibly and distinctly written be unrolled to his conscious- 
ness, overwhelming him with a sense of shame, ill desert 
and guilt ! How shall he feel himself accursed as con- 
science pursues him with the torch of memory, and forces 
him to confess, anxious as he may be to deny it, that he is 
guilty before God ! How shall the sense of guilt sink him 
like lead in the mighty waters ! Then in the morning they 
shall say. Would to God it were even ! and at even they shall 
say. Would to God it were morning ! for the fear of their 
heart wherewith they shall fear and for the sight of their 
eyes which they shall see. The murderer, we are told, can- 
not revisit the spot where he perpetrated his deed of blood, 
for the rushing memories which sweep over his soul. Who 
, „ ^, , . can endure the memories that must eter- 

IIow shall the lost 
tolerate for ever their nally SWCCp OVCr the SOul of llini wllOUl a 
own memory? -.^. •!, j. • j.1 i" o 

liielong guilt stares in the lace .' 
Such is guilt in its own nature and in its manifestations 
in the conscience. It is the ill desert of sin and its conse- 
quent obnoxiousness to punishment. It is the distinguish- 
ing property of sin — nothing else, no other disturbance of 
our life produces guilt. We may be annoyed with disap- 
pointments ; we may regret imprudences ; we may feel pain 
and uneasiness at deformity or accidents, but guilt belongs 
only and exclusively to sin. That always, when reflectively 
considered, produces the conviction that we are deserving of 
punishment, and must in the natural course of things receive 
it. To deny guilt is, therefore, to deny sin in its most essen- 
tial characteristic, in the very property which distinguishes 
the cognition of moral turpitude from every other species 
of deformity. It is to reduce the distinctions of right and 


wrong from the lofty elevation of duties and crimes to the 
low proportions of sentiment and taste. 

The scriptural representations of guilt are in accordance 
with the determinations of divines. The 
rep^I^t'gu'ur'""" ruling idea is that of ill desert— the poten- 
tial guilt, or guilt in adu primo of the 
Schools. The terms expressive of it are also applied to 
condemnation, or the judicial sentence consequent upon the 
worthiness of death — the actual guilt, or guilt in adu secundo 
of the Schools. In the Old Testament there are various 
phrases and circumlocutions by which the general notion is 
conveyed, but the only single words which in the Hebrew 
correspond to the English term are the derivatives of ^pi<, 
asham. The verb, the noun and the adjective are in many 
passages precisely equivalent to guilt and its derivatives in 
English. A few examples will suffice to illustrate the usage : 
" We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we 
saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us and we 
would not hear ; therefore, is this distress come upon us." ' 
Here was the consciousness of ill desert ; their conduct to 
their brother had been flagrantly wicked, and their con- 
sciences led them to connect their present distress as a judi- 
cial visitation with their gross and unnatural cruelty. The 
meaning is. We deserve to die, and therefore are we now suf- 
fering. " And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done 
unto us ? One of the people might lightly have lien with 
thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon 
us."^ That is. We might have been considered as criminals 
and treated as worthy of punishment. " Destroy thou them, 
O God, let them fell by their own counsels."^ In the He- 
brcAV it is. Condemn or make them guilty. The idea is 
that of the adual guilt of the theologians. " Evil shall 
slay the wicked, and they that hate the righteous shall be 
desolate."* In the Hebrew, Shall be guilty — that, is pun- 
ished on account of their ill desert. " The Lord redeemeth 

1 Gen. xlii. 21. ' Gen. xxvi. 10. 

3 Psalm V. 10. * Psalm xxxiv. 21, 22. 


the soul of his servants, and none of them that trust in Him 
shall be desolate." Again, in the Hebrew, it is. Shall be 
guilty — that is, exposed to punishment as ill-deserving. 
" Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that 
dwell therein are desolate." ^ In the Hebrew, Are reckoned 
guilty — that is, as justly exposed to punishment. " Ashavi 
is taken by some of the earlier writers in the sense of being 
desolate. Its true sense is that of being recognized as guilty 
and treated accordingly ; it, therefore, suggests the ideas 
of both guilt and punishment." " For Israel hath not been 
forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the Lord of Hosts, though 
their land was filled with sin [in Hebrew, with guilt] against 
the holy One of Israel." ^ That is, though they have richly 
deserved punishment, they have not been dealt with accord- 
ing to their deserts. In these citations from the Old Testa- 
ment I have purposely avoided all the passages in which 
the term is used in relation to the guilt-ofPering. The dis- 
tinction of these offerings from the sin-oifering is so obscure 
that I have not felt at liberty to present any theory, or to 
deduce any inference from the use of the word. The cases 
quoted are sufficient to elucidate the general usage. 

In the authorized version of the New Testament the term 
guilty occurs about six times, and its meaning in each case 
is clear and definite, though it is conveyed in the original 
by diiferent words. " Whosoever shall swear by the altar, 
it is nothing ; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is 
upon it, he is guilty."^ The original is d(/i£i?.ei, he is a 
debtor, and the word is so translated in the preceding verse. 
It is only in reference to their guilt that sins can be rep- 
resented as debts, and sinners as debtors. The notion 
which underlies this mode of representation is, that the 
obligation to render satisfaction to the law is as truly 
grounded in justice as the obligation to discharge a pecu- 
niary claim, and that God is no less defrauded of His rights 
when a sinner escapes with impunity than a creditor is 
robbed of his dues when left in the lurch by a dishonest 
' Isaiah xxiv. 6. ' Jer. li. 5. ' Matt, xxiii. 18. 


debtor. " What think ye ? They answered and said he is 
guilty of death," ^ Ivoyo^ &av6,zou iatc — that is, he is worthy 
of death, or he deserves to die. The term ivoy^oc: expresses 
the general notion of being under the arrest of the law, and 
is construed with the dative or genitive of the punishment, 
or the dative of the tribunal to which the culprit is respon- 
sible ; euo-)[oz d-avdvou accordingly means, held by the law to 
death, or liable to death under the laio. It unites the notions 
of guilt and punishment. This is remarkably the case in 
Mark xiv. 64 : " And they all condemned him to be guilty 
of death," xarsxptvav autov icuac ei^oyou ^avdzou. He was 
not only considered as worthy of death, but actually sen- 
tenced to death. He was dealt with according to his alleged 
demerit. In Rom. iii. 19 we have still a diiferent mode of 
indicating guilt : " That every mouth may be stopped and 
the whole world become guilty before God," uTtodcxo^ yiur^ra: 
Ttdi; b xoajjiO!; tm ^uo. Here the notion of condemnation is 
evidently the prominent one. The consciousness of ill desert 
is signalized in the speechlessness which seizes the criminals 
at the bar, and the consequence of their crimes is expressed 
by the sentence which proceeds from the omniscient Judge. 

From these passages it is clear that the theological deter- 
minations of guilt are strictly scriptural ; it expresses the 
relation of sin to the penalty of the law, the state of one 
who is justly exposed to condemnation or who has already 
received the sentence. It is the link which connects the 
sinner with his doom, the bond which unites transgression 
with death. Its primary and radical notion, as Owen re- 
marks, is desert of punishment, and all other applications 
are grounded in that. 

It is extremely important to have clear views of the dis- 

without this dis- tinction betwixt the stain and the guilt of 

tinction of the stain gjn. Witliout them it is impossiblc to un- 

and guilt of sin, inipu- i i • • /• j • 

tuition cannot be un- dcrstaud thc imputation 01 one man s sin to 
derstood; aiiothcr. If it be meant that the personal 

character of one is transfused into another, that the habits 

1 Matt. xxvi. 66. 


which belong to one are made the subjective property of 
another, and that the acts performed by one are really made 
to be the acts of another, the doctrine would be simply con- 
tradictory and absurd. It would amount to saying that two 
beings are different and yet the same ; that their personal- 
ities are distinct, but their personal identity is one. To im- 
pute sin involves no such confusion of the subjective states 
of different agents ; it means merely that one is held respon- 
sible for the acts of another. Whether this can be done 
justly is one question — whether it involves a contradiction in 
terms is quite another. If reference be had to the stain of 
sin, such an imputation is a sheer impossibility, but if to the 
guilt of sin, it is plain and obvious to the feeblest intelli- 
gence. Most of the objections to the imputation of sin are 
founded upon a gross inattention to this distinction. They 
deal with it as if it involved a transfer of subjective states 
or acts, the transfusion of the stain, and not the imputation 
. ., A-»- of ffuilt. In the next place, the distinction 

nor yet the dirfei-ence o i ' 

between Justification bctwixt tllC doctriuCS of justification and 

and Sanctification. ,.«,• , ji Tj-^- 

sanctincation turns upon the distinction 
betwixt pollution and guilt. Sanctification is an inward 
subjective change, removing the stain or filth of sin, and 
restoring the image of God in knowledge, righteousness and 
holiness. Justification is an external change, touching our 
relations to the law, and removes the guilt and condemna- 
tion under which we lie. Sanctification infuses habits of 
grace — justification cancels the necessity of punishment. 
Sanctification conforms us with the precept — justification 
delivers us from the penalty of the law. One deals with 
the stain — the other with the guilt of sin. 

The terminology of the Scripture in relation to sin is such 
as to keep the distinction between these two proi)erties prom- 
inently before the mind. V.'lien our sins 

This distinction per- t -i i t j 

yades Scripture, and arc dcscribcd as discascs, as %\'ounds, as 
lies at the foundation ulccrs, as filth aud impuritv, the reference is 

of Redemption. ' , ttt-i 

to the stain — the macula. When our sins 
are described as debts, as crimes, as offences, as trespasses 

Lect. xy.] the pollution and guilt of sin. 423 

as injuries or wrongs, the reference is to the guilt of sin. 
The distinction not only pervades the phraseology of Scrip- 
ture, but lies at the foundation of the whole scheme of re- 
demption. The Gospel is a riddle without it. 

The distinction drawn by the Papists betwixt reatus culpce 
and reatus poence has been denounced by 
approver^iuT'"'^'""' Protcstants as self-contradictory and ab- 
surd, but I think without reason. It is 
really their own distinction between poteniial and actual 
guilt, or guilt in the first and second acts. The reatus culpce 
is the essential ill desert of sin — that property by virtue of 
which it renders the transgressor a just subject of punish- 
ment; quo, peccator ex se indignus statuitur Del gratia, 
dignus vero ipsius ira et danmatione. This is surely nothing 
but the familiar dignitas poence. Meatus poence, on the other 
hand, is actual condemnation, or the positive ordination of 
the offender to merited punishment ; quo, obnoxius est dam- 
nationi et ad earn obligatur. The thing to be blamed is not 
the distinction itself, but the use which is made of it. The 
Papists wish to lay a foundation for their 
aeZir^"" ''"''" (loctrine of purgatory and of penitential 
satisfactions, and have, consequently, in- 
vented a distinction of pardons, by virtue of which a man 
may be received into favour, and yet held partially respon- 
sible for his sins. The culpa may be remitted, and the poena, 
to some extent, retained. Though accepted in Christ, the 
penitent transgressor may yet be required, either in this life 
or the next, to undergo sufferings which are strictly of the 
nature of satisfactions to the justice of God. This is the 
point to be condemned, and it is here in the doctrine of a 
partial pardon — a remission of guilt without the removal of 
the whole penalty — that the absurdity lies. This is a con- 
tradiction, to say that a man can be pardoned and yet must 
be punished — that his ill desert is removed, but its judicial 
consequence remains. The whole sum of their doctrine we 
may, with Hooker,^ reduce to these two grounds : " First, 

^ Works, vol. iii., p. 799, Oxford edit., 1836— Serin, iii. 


the justice of God requireth that after unto the penitent sin 
is forgiven, a temporal, satisfactory punishment be, notwith- 
standing, for sin, inflicted by God on man. Secondly, the 
same doth also require that such punishment being not in- 
flicted in this world, it be in the world to come endured ; 
that so, to the justice of God, full and perfect satisfaction be 
made." The language of the Council of Trent ^ is : Si quis 
post acceptam justijlcationis gratiam, cuilibet peecatori poeni- 
tenti, culpam ita remitti et reatum ceternce poence delerl dixerit, 
ut nuUus remanent reatus poence temporalis exsolvendce, vel in 
hoc seculo vel in futuro pwgatorio, antequam ad regna coelo- 
rum aditus patere possit, anathema sit. I need add nothing 
to the able and conclusive refutation of the doctrine con- 
tained in the third book of Calvin's Institutes, chap, iv., 
§ 25, to the end. The whole plausibility which even Thomas 
Aquinas has been able to impart to it arises from a singular 
confusion of chastisement with punishments — a tojiic which 
has already been discussed. 

^ Sess. vi., De Just. Can. xxx. 



THAT all sins are not equal, but that there is a difference 
in degrees of guilt, is, at once, the doctrine of common 
sense and of the Word of God. The Stoical 

stoical paradox. . . i i /> i i i /-n- 

paradox, ingeniously deiended by uicero, 
carries no more conviction with it than similar sophisms 
against the possibility of motion or the reality of the infi- 
nite. To say that there is as niucli malignity in a foolish 
jest as in a deliberate slander, in an angry word as in a 
premeditated murder, is to contradict — nay more, to outrage 
and shock — the moral sentiments of mankind. It is one 
thing to say that offences are equally sins ; it is quite another 
to say that they are equal sins. One simply predicates 
reality — the other, degree. All poisons are equally poisons 
— that is, all are really and truly poisons ; but all poisons 
are not equal as poisons — that is, are not possessed of the 
same degree of virulence. 

That sins admit of a greater and a less is not only dis- 
tinctly stated in the Scriptures, but implied 

Testimony of Scripture. . ^o^^c n i. rri •,• 

in maniiold lorms oi argument, liie cities 
in which our Saviour performed his mighty works are rep- 
resented as accumulating by their impenitence a degree of 
guilt transcendino; that of the cities of the Plain. It shall 
be more tolerable, is the oft-repeated declaration of the Son 
of man, for Sodom and Gomorrah, than for such cities. So 
in Luke xii. 47, 48 : " And that servant which knew his 
Lord's will and prepared not himself, neither did according 



to his will, shall be beaten with many striates. But he that 
knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be 
beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is 
given, of him shall be much required ; and to whom men 
have committed much, of him they Avill ask the more." 
The sin of those who delivered the Saviour to Pilate is ex- 
pressly said to be aggravated by the superhuman dignity of 
his character. " Thou couldest have no power at all against 
me, except it were given thee from above ; therefore he that 
delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." ^ The Apostle 
John makes a distinction of sins, which, however the lan- 
guage in which it is expressed may have been perverted and 
abused in the notorious distinction of venial and mortal sins, 
is wholly unintelligible except upon the supposition that 
there are degrees of malignity in sin. The same truth stands 
prominently out in what our Saviour teaches concerning the 
blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and what Paul teaches 
concerning a final and irretrievable apostasy. So, too, the 
arguments of the Scriptures are often from a less to a greater : 
"If the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every 
transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of 
reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salva- 
tion ? " ^ " He that despised Moses' law, died without mercy 
under two or three witnesses ; of how much sorer punish- 
ment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath 
trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the 
blood of the Covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an un- 
holy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace! "^ 
The same doctrine pervades the ritual of the Old Testament, 
in which different offerings were prescribed according to the 
different degrees of guilt. 

Jovinian, a monk in the age of Augustin, is said to have 
been the first who attempted to graft the 

Jovinian. o • i /■ i t p • 

Stoic paradox of the equality of sins upon 
the Christian faith ; but his efforts were wholly unsuccessful. 
Indeed, it is not certain that his opinions have been candidly 
1 John xix. 11. 2 Heb. ii. 2, 3. » Heb. x. 28, 29. 


and impartially represented. It has been surmised that the 
doctrine was attributed to him not in consequence of any 
articulate statement of it, but as an inference from other doc- 
trines which he taught, and which it was attempted to cover 
with odium by charging them with this absurdity. He ex- 
pressly maintained that widows and virgins acquired no 
more merit by celibacy than marriage, and from this it was 
inferred that he asserted the absolute equality of merits, and, 
by consequence, the absolute equality of sins.^ The doctrine 
has also been attributed to Pelagius, but I 

Pelagiiis. '^ ' 

suspect upon no better grounds than those 
on which it was ascribed by some of the Papists to the Re- 
formers. It was merely an exaggerated form to which his 
real opinions were reduced. 

In their controversy with Rome the Reformers had equally 
to guard against the extreme of a minimum 

The Reformers. J^ . ° 

of guilt m which the essential character of 
sin was lost and the obligation to punishment reduced to 
zero, and the extreme of making all crimes equally culpa- 
ble. With one voice they protested that all sin, in its own 
nature and apart from the provisions of grace, was deadly, 
and yet that all sins were not equally heinous. Death was 
due to the least, but death had its degrees, and in the ad- 
justment of these to the degrees of guilt the justice of God 
was realized. Baier, who was extremely happy in reducing 
truth to formulas, has expressed precisely the universal 
sentiment of the Reformation : Peceata alia graviora, alia 
leviora esse recte affirmantur ; neque tamen propterea cxisti- 
mari debet, aliqua peceata ex se et sua natura ita levia esse, ut 
damnationem ceternam non mereantur. It is easy to see how 
the misrepresentation could arise if the Protestants held that 
all sin was worthy of eternal death ; that seemed to be equi- 
valent to saying that they amounted to the same thing in 
the end, and as eternal death stood to the mind as the maxi- 
mum of all evil, each sin, as containing it potentially, ad- 
mitted of nothing greater. The distinction of majus and 
^ Baieri Comp. Theol. Hist., Loc. viii., ^ 2. 


minus vanished before this greatest. Still, candid Papists 
cheerfully acquitted them of maintaining the Stoical paradox. 
The Protestant doctrine as to the degrees of sin is ex- 
pressed with some fullness in the West- 
trile!'*'"'"''"' '"" minster Standards: "All transgressions 
of the law of God are not equally hein- 
ous, but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several 
aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than 
others. Sins receive their aggravations — 1. From the per- 
sons offending ; if they be of riper age, greater experience 
or grace, eminent for profession, gifts, place, office, guides to 
others, and whose example is likely to be followed by others. 
2. From the parties offended ; if immediately against God, 
his attributes and worship, against Christ and his grace, the 
Holy Spirit, His witness and workings, against superiors, 
men of eminency, and such we stand especially related and 
engaged unto ; against any of the saints, particularly weak 
brethren, the souls of them, or any' other, and the common 
good of all or of many. 3. From the nature and quality 
of the offence ; if it be against the express letter of the law, 
break many commandments, contain in it many sins ; if not 
only conceived in the heart, but break forth in words and 
actions, scandalize others, and admit of no reparation; if 
against means, mercies, judgments, light of nature, convic- 
tion of conscience, public or private admonition, censures 
of the Church, civil punishments, and our prayers, pur- 
poses, promises, voavs, covenants and engagements to God 
or men ; if done deliberately, wilfully, presumptuously, 
impudently, boastingly, maliciously, frequently, obstinately, 
with delight, continuance or relapsing after repentance. 
4. From circumstances of time and place ; if on the Lord's 
day, or other time of Divine worship, or immediately be- 
fore or after these, or other helps to prevent or remedy 
such miscarriages ; if in public or in the presence of others 
who are thereby likely to be provoked or defiled." ^ 

These determinations are not only fortified by Scripture, 

1 Larg. Cat., Ques. 150, 151. 


but the}' commend themselves to every unsophisticated con- 
science. They are founded in truth and reason. The prin- 
ciple, however, upon which they rest is not evolved, and 
therefoi'e as a scientific reduction they cannot be accepted as 
complete. We want a law by virtue of which we can 
explain the circumstance that transgressions vary in malig- 
nity. That law must be sought in the nature of sin as 
involving a subjective condition and an objective matter. 
There is the thing commanded or forbidden ; there is the 
attitude of the mind in relation to it. Now, among the 
things commanded or forbidden — that is, in 

One ground of the ,1 i • , ,_, f»ji 1 n 

distinction. ''"^^ objcct-matter 01 the law — there is an 

obvious difference in magnitude and im- 
portance. Some precepts respect rights which are inhe- 
rently of greater moment than others, and in this aspect 
some of the commandments may be regarded as greater 
than others. There is one which our Saviour tells us de- 
serves to be called The first and the great commandment. 
The arrangement of the Decalogue turns upon the intrinsic 
importance of the various spheres to which the precept or 
prohibition pertains. First come God and the whole de- 
partment of Divine worship ; then comes the family, the 
very keystone of the arch which sustains society ; then 
come the interests of man in the order of their magnitude — 
first, the protection of life, next the purity of families, then 
the rights of property, and finally the security of character. 
Here, therefore, is an obvious ground of distinction in the 
object-matter of the law. It is intrinsically a greater evil 
to insult God than to reproach our neighbours, because 
God is greater than our neighbours. It is a greater sin 
to be contemptuous to a parent than wanting in respect 
to others, because the parental is the most solemn and 
sacred of all social ties. It is a greater crime to rob a 
fellow-man of his life than to defraud him of his prop- 
erty, because life is more than meat or raiment. It is a 
greater crime to defile a man's wife than to circulate a lie 
to his injury, because the purity of families can never be 


restored when once lost, but an idle lie may be refuted or 
lived down. 

The other ground of distinction is in the subjective con- 
dition of the agent. The degrees of guilt, 
of distiuctilii. ^™"" ^^ ^^^^^ aspect, will depend upon the degree 
of intensity in the sinful principle of ac- 
tion — that is, the degree of opposition to the authority of 
conscience and the law. The more a sin indicates the power 
and presence of evil in the soul, the more flagrant it becomes. 
The more it asserts the principle of self-seeking and self- 
sufficiency, — the more it reveals of the spirit of apostasy from 
God, — the more aggravated it is. Now, as a general rule, 
the potency of the inward principle of sin is measured by 
the light which is resisted. If a man is conscious of his 
duty, or, in the language of the Saviour, "That servant 
which knew his Lord's will and prepared not himself, 
neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with 
many stripes." Or, to state this aspect of the case in an- 
other form : The degree of guilt depends upon the degree 
of completeness with which the sinful act has been produced 
by the will of the agent,^ or the degree of fullness with 
which the will has entered into it ; and this again Avill be 
measured by the degree of consciousness that it is sin. The 
highest form of evil is reached when a man deliberately 
perpetrates what he knows to be wrong upon the ground 
that it is wrong ; when, like Milton's Satan, he deliberately 
makes evil his good ; and every approximation to this con- 
dition is an increase of guilt. 

Still, it is not to be denied that there are sins of ignorance 

which reveal a deeper malignity of the power of evil than 

even sins against knowledge when they have not reached the 

„ , . heiffht of presumptuous malice. There are 

Yet Ignorance, some- fe 1 1 

times from desperate cascs iu wliich tlic iguoraucc itsclf is a con- 
fession of desperate depravity — in which it 
could not be conceived as possible without a monstrous per- 
version and degradation of the moral nature. Wherever 
1 Miiller, vol. i., p. 218, 


ignorance pertains to the essential principles of rectitude — 
those eternal rules of right which have been written on the 
heart of man and which constitute the indispensable condi- 
tion of his moral agency ; there, ignorance itself is a sin, and 
a sin in the moral sphere analogous to suicide in the sphere 
of life. Such ignorance is always the result of sin, as well 
as the cause — the child as well as the parent. It is con- 
demned by casuists as voluntary in its origin, and as im- 
parting a voluntary character to all its products. The crimes 
to which it leads are extenuated in guilt only in the sense 
that they are less heinous in those who are thus degraded 
than they would be in those who committed them with the 
full consciousness of their malignity. The heathen are guilty 
for their idolatries, superstitions and profane worship — their 
guilt is of frightful magnitude ; and the only sense in which 
their blindness extenuates it is that these same abominations 
are not so odious in them as they would be in those who 
enjoy the light of the Christian revelation. The only cases 
in which ignorance absorbs the sin are those in which the 
ignorance has no connection with the proper exercise of the 
moral understanding. Whenever the application of an 
habitual rule is conditioned by outward circumstances, con- 
tingent and mutable, then a mistake in the application, 
through an error in the facts, is not formally sin. If, for 
example, the sister of a young man had been separated from 
him in early life, and he had satisfactory reasons for believing 
that she was dead — if, under these circumstances, he should 
subsequently meet with her as a stranger and contract an in- 
timacy ending in marriage — no sin could be imputed to him. 
He would be unfortunate, but not criminal. The ignorance 
was not of that kind which implies a perversion of the moral 
nature. The distinction has been clearly pointed out by 
Midler : ^ " And assuredly there is a so-called sin of igno- 
rance, in which the ignorance entirely removes the guilt, 
and therewith altogether the character of real sin. One dis- 
tinguishes in the ignorance which is here under consideration, 
as is well known, ignorance of the obligatory law and unac- 
1 Vol. i., pp. 219, 220. 


quaintance with its own action according to its full determi- 
nateness. Now the knowledge of one's own conduct refers, 
according to one of its sides, to the sphere of the external, to 
the infinite manifoldly conditioned relations in which every 
action takes place. But in this sphere confusion and igno- 
rance may very well take place, and therefrom an error in 
conduct arise, without the smallest degree of guilt in the in- 
dividual acting, through any deficiency of attention or the 
like. If any one, for example, disposes of another's property 
in the opinion fully warranted from the circumstances that 
it is his own, there exists, it is true, a violation of right, 

although there is only a civil but 710 moral guilt 

Therefore this kind of error has no place here; but that 
which arises from the inordinate selfish endeavour, and thus 
contradicts the^ moral law, is guilt, whether the faulty indi- 
vidual be conscious or not conscious of this contradiction. 
Certainly, if it Avere altogether impossible for any one to be- 
come acquainted with the contents of the moral law, and in 
consequence he could not at all become conscious of that in- 
ordinate striving as of that which ought not to be, the impu- 
tation to such an one of that which may appear in his life as 
sin would certainly be made void, but equally therewith the 
completeness of human nature. The distinction too between 
the insurmoxintahle and the surmountable ignorance in the 
moment of decision may indeed condition the degree of guilt, 
but cannot decide concerning the presence or non-presence 
of guilt. To be in ignorance or error in the sphere of the 
outward, the accidental, the mutable, does not bring reproach 
to man ; but not to know the essential truth which an- 
nounces itself in the conscience, and its relation to the indi- 
vidual act, is, itself, just the consequence of a sinfully dis- 
ordered condition of his inward life." 

The subject of an erring conscience is treated by Taylor 

with considerable minuteness in the first 

Infelicity of th. err- ^ -^^ ^ ^j^^ Ductor Dubitautium : and he 

ing conscience. ' 

shows by many apt and painful illustrations 
that such " is its infelicity that if it goes forward, it enters 
into a folly ; if it resists, it enters into madness ; if it flies, it 


dashes its head against a wall, or falls from a rock ; if it 
flies not, it is torn in pieces by a bear." The victim of moral 
ignorance is under the fatal necessity of sin, whether he 
resists or obeys his conscience. If he resists conscience, he 
acts undei* the formal notion that he is doing wrong, and 
thereby reveals the principle of evil ; if he obeys, he rejects 
the materially good, and thereby evinces the moral disorder 
of his soul. He can turn neither to the right nor to the left 
without sin — it is the curse which cleaves to his condition ; 
and the only remedy is in the removal of the evil by the 
communication of spiritual light. 

^yhile the general doctrine is maintained that there are 
degrees of guilt, and that these are conditioned by the ob- 
jective nature of the crime and the subjective condition of 
the agent, it is preposterous to suppose that a scale of iniquity 
can be framed by which the precise malignity of every offence 

Scale of the Romish ^hall bc determined.. The whole system of 
Confessional prepos- the Romisli Confessioual is founded in de- 
lusion. The same act, materially considered, 
varies in culpability in every instance in which it is per- 
formed by the same person or by others. The subjective 
state of the agent is not a fixed but a fluctuating quantity ; 
and even things materially insignificant may be rendered 
aggravated crimes by the state of the heart which j^roduces 
them. The disposition, too, to measure in scales the amount 
of our misdeeds is a bad symptom. The heart that is truly 
penitent feels that all guilt is enormous — that even its lightest 
oifences are intolerable burdens ; and is so thoroughly im- 
j3ressed with the magnitude of its wickedness that instead 
of attempting to extenuate its fault in comparison with 
others, it is ready, with the apostle, to confess that it is the 
very chief of sinners. 

Sins, classified according to their guilt, may be obviously 

Three classes of sins, ^educed to sins of prcsumptiou, sins of igno- 
according to their raucB and sins of weakness. Sins of pre- 

guilt. . 

sumption vary according to the degree of 
deliberation and malice which they respectively involve, 

Vol. I.— 28 


until they culminate in that highest and most appalling of 
all offences, the sin against the Holy Ghost. Sins of igno- 
rance vary according to the extent to which the ignorance is 
voluntary — that is, more precisely stated, according to the 
degree in which the ignorance implies a perverted develop- 
ment of the moral nature. Sins of infirmity, which consist 
in the power of temptation to prevail over the authority of 
conscience where the duty is known, or in the force of 
sudden impulses and passions in preventing reflection, vary 
according to the strength of the temptation and the depth 
and earnestness of the struggle. They are 

yet all malignant and n t ; ,i i j. • • j^t. 

^g^j, all malignant ; the least is poison ; the 

touch of any is death. But what a picture 
does even this graduated scale of guilt present of poor human 
nature ! From weakness up to deliberate malice — a weak- 
ness which is itself a sin and a sign of general ruin and 
decay, up to a presumption which reveals a kindred between 
man and devils ; this is the line which the human heart is 
always tracing and human life ceaselessly exemplifying. If, 
by comparison among themselves, some offences are smaller 
than others, by comparison with God, with the holy law, 
and the perfect ideal of human nature, the least is enough to 
fill us with horror and dismay ; and not the least evidence 
of the fearful wreck of our nature is the tendency which un- 
spiritual men cherish to look upon some as absolutely small. 
Well may we say with Cicero : Parva res est, at magna 

Hence, Protestants, with one voice, with the exception of 
the Socinians — and they are no more en- 
ven::it:::;tSr:;^ titled to be considered as Christians than 
Mohammedans — have rejected with abhor- 
rence the Papal distinction between venial and mortal sins. 
They have unanimously asserted from the very dawn of the 
Reformation — Lutherans as well as Calvinists, in harmony 
with apostles and the earliest and soundest confessors of the 
truth — that "every sin, even the least, being against the 
sovereignty, goodness and holiness of God, and against His 


righteous law, deserveth His wrath and curse, both in this 
life and that which is to come, and cannot be expiated but 
by the blood of Christ."^ By venial sins the Papists un- 
derstand those which are not inconsistent with spiritual life, 
and which are not subversive of a supreme and steady regard 
to the great end of our being. Thomas Aquinas says that 
they are not against the law, but beside the law — not contra 
legem, but prceter legem. The meaning is, that they are not 
so against the law as to be destructive of the end of the com- 
mandment, which is charity, but beside the law, as they 
imply something of disorder and inconsistency with the per- 
fect harmony of the soul. They are slight irregularities, 
but not real disturbances of the spiritual life. They are said 
to be of three kinds, according as they are determined by the 
nature of their object-matter, the imperfect causation by the 
agent, or the insignificance of the act. The first are venial 
ex genere; the second, ex imperfectione operis; the third, ex 
parvitate materice. When the object-matter of an act, though 
implying some irregularity, does not turn one aside from the 
supreme end of his being, nor contradict the principle of 
charity, the offence is denominated venial from its own na- 
ture — it does not deserve death. To this class belong such 
irregularities and indecencies as idle words, frivolous jests 
and excessive laughter.^ To the second class belong those 
irregularities which, though pertaining to an object-matter in 
itself deadly, have not a full and complete causation by the 
agent — his will does not thoroughly enter into them. Such 
are the sudden emotions of luxury, pride, resentment. Here, 
as the deliberation is imperfect, the act is not complete, and 
consequently does not amount to a consent of the will in the 
deadly object. In this way any mortal sin can be rendered 
venial. To the third class belong those offences in which, 
although the object-matter is deadly, yet the act is so insig- 
nificant as to make it incongruous to punish it with death. 
To this head are reduced petty thefts, in which the amount 
stolen is too small to be called a real injury ; delicate scandal ; 
1 Larg. Cat., Qu. 152. ^ Aqui., Sum. Pars Prim. Sec, Qu. 88. 


a little too much drink ; and a voluntary distraction for a 
short time in Divine worship. Mortal sin, on the other 
hand, is that which is destructive of spiritual health and 
life — it is, in its own nature, deadly and deserves the pun- 
ishment of eternal death. 

Now the point which Protestants maintain is tliat there 
are no irregularities, however slight, in the moral sphere which 
it would be unjust in God to punish with death — no irregu- 
larities, that can be properly called sins, which in their own 
nature are such that temporal inconvenience is the only 
mark of disapprobation which it becomes the holiness of 
God to impress uj^on them. There are no sins inherently 
and essentially venial. It is cheerfully conceded that all 
With Protestants, ^"^•'^> ^^^^^ ouc, are rendered venial through 
no sins vcniui in their the blood of tlic Lord Jcsus Christ. That 

own nature. , in 1 1 • i i • • 

cleanseth trom all sm, but the question is 
not concerning the efficacy of the atonement to cancel guilt, 
but the nature of the guilt itself. Is there a guilt which 
does not need the blood of the Redeemer — a guilt which of 
its own nature and from the sentence of the law does not 
exclude from the Divine favour? It would seem that the 
simple statement of the question would suggest the answer. 
The notion of a sin which is not in itself contradictory to 
spiritual health and life, which does not leave a stain that mars 
the beauty and harmony of the soul, is a contradiction in 
terms. To prove that an act does not involve any turning 
away from God, does not disturb the supreme and steady 
prosecution of our highest end, is to prove not that it is 
venial, but that it is no sin. What is not inconsistent with 
that love w^hich is the fulfilling of the law, it would be 
wise above what is written to pronounce a transgression of 
the law. Those irregularities which seem to us so slight 
are slight only by comparison. They are mingled with 
such deep and fearful disorder that their intrinsic nature is 
hid in tlie profound darkness which surrounds them. But 
figure to yourselves an angel or a glorified saint indulging 
in these peccadilloes in heaven ! The supposition is so 


monstrous and revolting that Aquinas has admitted, and 
not only admitted but proved, that a perfectly holy being is 
incapable of a venial sin, and that it is not until he has lost 
his integrity by mortal sin he can be betrayed into these 
weaknesses.^ But if they are obliged to be the result of 
deadly sin — that is, if they can only be conceived as spring- 
ing from a condition of moral apostasy — they must partake 
of the nature of their cause. It is impossible in estimating 
their guilt to detach them from the collective moral state 
of the agents. That creates them, and therefore that must 
determine their significancy. Hence, I cannot but think 
that Miiller has fallen into error in the countenance which 
he has given to the distinction of the Papists. He seems to 
think it possible to isolate the individual act from the gene- 
ric condition which originates it, and he overlooks the dis- 
turbing influence which " the smallest precipitation or inat- 
tentiveness" would necessarily exert upon the character of 
a sinless creature. But whatever may be our speculations, 
the authority of Scripture is decisive. " The wages of sin is 
death." ^ The alternative is inevitable — either venial sin is 
not sin at all, or it deserves to be visited with death. " Cursed 
is every one who continueth not in all things written in the 
book of the law to do them." ^ Here again the alternative is 
inevitable — either venial sin is not prohibited by the law, or 
it brings the transgressor under the curse. If it is pro- 
hibited by the law, there is as really a contempt of the 
Divine authority (which is the formal ground of the obli- 
gation of the law) in these small irregularities as in the 
weightier matters which pertain to the rights of God and 
our neighbours. To every unsophisticated conscience the 
venial offences which spring from the imperfection of the 
act or the insignificance of the matter are as really sins as 
the finished transgressions or the more important matters of 
the same class. The sudden invasions of passion, of anger, 
malice and revenge show an unsound state of the heart, 

1 Sum. Prim. Sec, Ques. 89, 3. 

2 Kom. vi. 23. 3 q^i i[i iq 


reveal a disease which is essentially fatal ; and the man Avho 
can see any difference, except in degree, between the steal- 
ing of a shilling and the stealing of a thousand pounds, 
who can see any difference which removes one and' leaves 
the other under the category of knavery, possesses either 
extraordinary acuteness or extraordinary dullness of spiritual 
perception. Surely we should suppose that he who apolo- 
gized for his dishonesty by pleading the smallness of his 
thefts was not grounded in the nature and root of moral dis- 

There is a modified sense in which the distinction betwixt 

venial and mortal sins has been tolerated 

tion of a modified i^ the Protestaut Church. It is not that 

sense of this distinc- gome are whilc otlicrs are not deservinar of 

tion. , ° 

eternal death, but some are more violently 
contradictory to a state of grace than others. Some are 
totally incompatible with the health and comfort of the 
Divine life ; they destroy all peace of conscience, all sensi- 
ble communion with God, and provoke his severe and griev- 
ous chastisements. They bring about a spiritual declension, 
which without the provisions of grace would terminate in 
the total extinction of the Divine life. They cancel the con- 
sciousness of a state of grace. These sins are -par eminence 
mortal. There are others which do not disturb our spiritual 
peace — which, though the occasions of a constant conflict, 
are yet the means of a more vigorous and watchful exercise 
of prayer and faith.^ But it is certainly illogical to treat 
as contraries what differ only by accidental circumstances. 
All these sins are in their own nature mortal — that is, de- 
serving of eternal death — all are pardonable and are actu- 
ally pardoned through the blood of Christ. It would be 
much better to signalize them by terms expressive of that 

1 In other words, mortal sins are those which separate from the king- 
dom of God, and which therefore must be totally abandoned if we hope 
to be saved. Venial sins are those which cleave to us as remnants of in- 
bred corruption until the period of our complete sanctification ; they are 
the lustings of the flesh which shall never cease until the flesh is laid 
aside in the grave. See De Moor, cap. xv., § 38. 


which really distinguishes them — different degrees of the 
same kind of guilt. Indeed, the terms venial and mortal 
have been very partially adopted ; they never harmonized 
with the conscience of the Protestant Church. 

There is one sin, however, about which there can be no 
mistake. It is marked by a bold pre- 

One sin wliich can- . /. .1, I'l Tj' -i -j 

not be forgiven. eminence 01 guilt which distinguishes it 

from every form of iniquity in which man 
can be involved. It precludes the possibility of pardon by 
putting beyond the pale of redeeming blood. Our Saviour 
twice signalized it in his own earthly teachings, and branded 
it as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.' John alludes to 
it without specifically describing it, and calls it a sin unto 
death, which we are not at liberty to pray for when we know 
that it has been committed. Paul, twice in the course of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, makes mention of its hopeless cha- 
racter, and in one passage enters into a somewhat detailed 
description of the offence itself. That John and Paul have 
their eye upon the same sin which our Saviour had so 
awfully reprobated is to be gathered from the fact that the 
sin unto death and the irrevocable apostasy agree in their 
distinguishing j^roperty with the sin against the Holy Ghost, 
and the still further fact that the language of our Saviour 
evidently implies that there is but one sin possessed of this 
fearful malignity. It is, therefore, by a comparison of all 
these passages that we must settle the nature of the sin. 
It is clear, in the first place, that it cannot be, as Augustin 
and others have imagined, the sin of final 
^^Not final imponi. jj^pgnitency. Final impenitency differs 
only in the accident of time from any 
other impenitency, and therefore is not unpardonable from 
its own nature, but from the relation in which it happens to 
stand to the remedy. Impenitence itself, divested of the 
relation of time, is constantly pardoned, and it is the very 
thing which the invitations, promises and motives of the 
Gospel are designed to induce men to lay aside. 
1 Matt. xii. 31 ; Mark iii. 29 ; Luke xii. 10. 


Neither can this sin be regarded as any peculiar insult to 
the Person of the Holy Ghost. Those 
Pe^onofTiIe Spirit!" thoughts of blasphcmy against Him— 
those horrible and revolting expressions of 
wickedness and reproach which Satan often injects into the 
minds of the saints, in order to torture them with the fear that 
they have fallen into irrevocable guilt, have no more malig- 
nity in them than similar offences against the first or second 
Persons of the Trinity. If it were the personal aspect of 
these sins that imparted to them their malice, it would seem 
that the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost would be less 
affsravated than that ao;ainst the Father and the Son. As 
God, they are all one, the same in substance, equal in power 
and glory ; as Persons, the Father is the first, the Son is the 
second, and the Holy Spirit the third. There is an order 
according to which the last place belongs to the Holy Ghost, 
Hence, no form of mere personal reproach can be meant. 

Neither, again, was it an offence so connected with the 
... .. miraculous period of the dispensation of 

Not peculiar to the i -i 

time of tlie miraculous thc GoSpcl aS tO bc UO loUgCr pOSsiblc whcu 

signs and wonders ceased to attest the 
Divine origin of Christianity. To attribute the miracles 
of Christ to the agency of Beelzebub was no more to blas- 
pheme" the Holy Ghost than to blaspheme the Father or the 
Son. Jesus ascribes these miracles more frequently to the 
Father than to the Spirit, and not unfreqiiently finds in Him- 
self as His own personal property the power by which He 
performed them. No traduction, therefore, of His super- 
natural agency in the sphere of the outward world can be 
construed into this sin, and we are not authorized from any- 
thing recorded in relation to it to limit its possibility to the 
comparatively short period of miraculous gifts. 

The Holy Ghost as the object of this sin is to be regarded 
^, . . .... in His official character — the agent who re- 

It IS sin against the " 

Spirit in His official ycals Christ to tlic hcarts and consciences 
of men as an adequate and complete Sa- 
viour. His work is to take of the things of Christ and 


make them known to the darkened understanding of the 
sinner. The sin, therefore, must be a sin which pertains 
directly to Christ as He is manifested in the Gospel, and 
manifested by the Spirit to the minds of men. With this 
key the celebrated passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews 
unlocks the mystery as far forth as we can ever expect to 
have it unlocked in the present life. It is there described, 
and in this exposition I but repeat the 

Sentiments of the ,• , n n ^ • rn i ;• ivr 

Keibnuers. seutimcnts 01 Lalviu, lurrettin, Maresms, 

Marck and the great body of Reformed 
theologians, that it is a total apostasy from the true religion 
(with a full conviction supernaturally produced that it is the 
truth of God), arising from intense and malignant opposi- 
tion to the truth itself — an opposition so intense and malig- 
nant that it would delight to repeat the tragedy of Cal- 
vary out of mere hatred to Christ, and actually vents itself 
in bitter reproaches, and, as it has oj^portunity, bitter per- 
secution of all true believers. It is just the spirit of the 
Devil incarnate. It is mad and furious hate, the very ex- 
uberance of malice, breaking forth in the midst of a light 
which is as irresistible to the conscience as it is detestable to 
the heart. It is distinguished by this light from every sin 
of ignorance, by the nature of the light from a sin of infirm- 
ity, and by the virulence of its hate from every other sin 
of presumption. It turns man into a fiend. It is a com- 
bination of Satanic intelligence wdth satanic hate. Such is 
its general nature, and the reason why it is unpardonable is 
perhaps the same as that which has left the devils without 


The following article is inserted here because its contents pertain 
chiefly to the topics which Dr. Thornwell regarded as belonging to the 
first two parts of Theology — all which, according to our classification of 
his writings, will be embraced in this first volume. 

It was written about one year after his inauguration as Professor of 
Theology, for the Southern Presbyterian Eeview, and appeared in the 
January No. of that work for 1858. 

The propriety of inserting in this volume of Theological dissertations 
an article containing so much that is personal, may be questioned. But it 
would have been impossible to leave out what was interwoven with the 
whole texture of the production. Moreover, as affording an exhibition of 
Dr. Thornwell's heart as well as mind, it was deemed proper to publish 
it just as it was written. The reader will take pleasure in noting the ad- 
miration and love expressed by the author for one who, at the time he 
wrote, was fighting side by side with him for principles which he held 
inexpressibly dear. 





IN the general notice which we have ah-eady taken of this 
book^ we promised, in our present number, to make it 
the subject of a more distinct consideration. That promise 
we proceed to redeem. 

^ The notice referred to was as follows : 

It is generally regarded as an evil incidental to Theological Seminaries 
that they withdraw a large amount of talent, piety and learning from the 
service of the pulpit, and to that extent have a tendency to weaken the 
energies of the Church. This book is a triumphant refutation of all 
charges of the sort. Our Theological Professors are Preachers upon a 
large scale — Preachers not only to preachers, but to all the congregations 
of the land. In their studies they are putting forth an influence which, 
like the atmosphere, penetrates to every part of the country. The ener- 
gies of the Church can only be competently developed when there is a 
due mixture of action and speculation, of private study and public labour ; 
and although the two things are not in themselves incompatible, and 
must be found in every minister of the Gospel, yet they are not likely to 
be wisely blended unless there are men whose business it is to give them- 
selves, some to one, some to the other, predominantly, if not exclusively. 
We must have representatives of each, and the character formed from 
their combined agency is the character needed in the service of the pulpit. 
We congratulate the young Seminary at Danville on the omen which it 
gives of extensive and profound usefulness. Dr. Breckinridge's book 
will take its place by the side of the works of the greatest masters, and 
none will feel that they are dishonoured by the company of the new- 
comer. It has peculiar merits. It is strictly an original work — the pro- 



Dr. Breckinridge has been so eminently a man of action, 
and the impression so widely prevails that action and spe- 
culation demand intellects of different orders, that a very 
general apprehension was entertained, when this work was 
announced as in press, that it was destined to be a failure. 
Few could persuade themselves that the great debater was 
likely to prove himself a great teacher — that he who had 
been unrivalled in the halls of ecclesiastical legislation should 
be equally successful in the halls of theological science. 
There was no foundation for the fear. Those qualities of 
mind which enable a man to become a leader in any great 
department of action are precisely the qualities which en- 
sure success in every department of speculation. Thought 
and action are neither contradictories nor opposites. On 
the contrary, thought is the soul of action, the very life 
of every enterprise which depends on principle and not on 
policy.^ It is the scale upon which the thinking is done 

duct of the author's own thoughts, the offspring of his own mind. He 
has studied and digested much from the hibours of others, but has bor- 
rowed nothing. No matter from what quarter the materials have been 
gathered, they are worked up by him into the frame and texture of his 
own soul before they are sent forth ; and in this respect he has produced 
a book widely different from the miserable compilations with which, on 
almost every subject, the country is flooded. The plan, too, adapts it to 
general use. The humblest Christian can read it with almost as much 
profit as the minister. It is pure, unmixed Gospel, presented in a form 
at once suited to edify and instruct. It is not a dry, didactic treatise — 
but a warm, living, glowing representation of the truths of religion in 
their beauty, their power and their glory. The author's soul is always 
on fire. He knows God only to love him, and he seems to feel that he 
has taught nothing until he has kindled the same flame in the minds of 
his pupils. 

Thus much, in general, we have tliought proper to say in relation to 
this remarkable work. But we cannot, in justice to our readers nor in 
justice to one who has been so eminently blessed in his labours for Christ 
and His Church, pass it over with this vague commendation. We pro- 
pose in our next number to make it the subject of a full and articulate 
notice ; and in the mean time we trust that all our readers will put them- 
selves in a condition to appreciate our criticisms by studying the work 
for themselves. 

^ Non viribus ant velocitatibus aut celeritate corporum, res magnre gerun- 
tur, sed consilio, auctoritate, sententia. Cic. de Senect., c. (5. 


that determines the scale upon which measures are projected 
and carried out. Bacon was none the less a philosopher 
because he was a great statesman, and the highest achieve- 
ments of Greek genius were among those who were as ready 
for the tented field as the shades of the Academy. The 
small politician, the brawling demagogue, the wire-worker 
in elections, the intriguing schemer and the plausible man- 
ager can never succeed in any walk of meditation ; not be- 
cause they are men of action, but because they are incapable 
of anything that deserves to be called action. Restlessness 
and action are no more synonymous than friskiness and 
business ; and the interminable piddler, the miserable maggot 
of society that can never be still for a moment, might just as 
well be confounded with the industrious citizen as the man 
of tricks with the man of action. He who is able to em- 
body great thoughts in achievements suitable to their dig- 
nity, he who can think illustrious deeds, is precisely the 
man who will think most forcibly in fitting words. Actions 
and words are only different expressions of the same energy 
of mind, and the thought in language has generally preceded 
the thought in deeds. Convinced that the popular impres- 
sion in regard to the incompatibility of action and specula- 
tion was a vulgar prejudice, we were prepared to anticipate 
from Dr. Breckinridge in the field of speculative theology 
as brilliant success as in the field of ecclesiastical counsel. 
We expected to find the same essential qualities of mind, 
the same grasp of thought, vigour of conception, power of 
elucidation and skill in evolution. We dreaded no failure. 
We should not have been disappointed at marks of haste 
and carelessness in the composition, or occasional looseness 
of expression, or such bold metaphors and animated tropes 
as belong to the speech rather than the essay. We knew 
that Horace's precept had not been observed as to the time 
that the work had been kept under the eye. Blemishes 
attaching to it as a work of art we were not unprepared to 
meet with, but we were certain that the thoughts would be 
the thoughts of a man with whom thinking had been some- 


thing more than musing — the system, the system of one who 
had not been accustomed to sport with visions. We ex- 
pected to see tlie truth in bold outline and harmonious pro- 
portion — the truth as God has revealed and the renewed soul 
experiences it, clearly, honestly, completely told. That Dr. 
Breckinridge has realized our expectations seems to be the 
general verdict of the public. The work has been received 
with unwonted favour. It has been j)raised in circles in 
which we suspect the author's name has been seldom pro- 
nounced with approbation. We have seen but a single 
notice of it in which censure has been even hinted at, and 
that was in reference to a point in which the work is enti- 
tled to commendation. We allude to the place to which it 
consigns the argument from final causes for the being of a 
God. That argument, as it is presented in modern systems 
of Natural Theology, is not only inconclusive, but pernicious. 
The God that it gives us is not the God that we want. It 
makes the Deity but a link in the chain of finite causes, and 
from the great Creator of the universe degrades him to the 
low and unworthy condition of the huge mechanic of the 
world. For aught that appears, matter might have been 
eternal, its properties essential attributes of its nature, and 
He may have acquired His knowledge of it and them by 
observation and experience, as we acquire ours. His power 
may only be obedience to laws which He has inductively 
collected, as knowledge on our part, according to the phi- 
losophy of Bacon, is the measure of our power. The argu- 
ment turns on the arrangement of things. Its strength lies 
in the illustrations of general order and special adaptation 
which the universe supplies. It does not follow that God 
made the things which He has arranged. He who uses this 
argument either collects in the conclusion more than he had 
in the premises, or he limits the infinite and conditions the 
unconditioned. Surely no intelligent advocate of Theism can 
be content with a result like this. The true place for the 
consideration of final causes is just where Dr. Breckinridge 
has put them in forming from the works of God some con- 


ception of His nature and perfections. Given a Creatw, 
we can then deduce from the indications of design that He 
is an intelligent and spiritual being, and this is the light in 
which, until Scotch psychology had almost succeeded in 
banishing from the halls of philosophy metaphysical specu- 
lations, all the great masters had regarded this argument. 
The Schoolmen use it to illustrate the intelligence, not the 
being, of God. That they rested on a very different aspect 
of the great question of causation. Howe elaborately dem- 
onstrates a Creator before he comes to Wisdom or Design. 
The process is instructive through which this argument has 
come to be invested with the importance which is now con- 
ceded to it ; and if it were not that the mind is all along 
preoccupied with the notion of a Creator, if it received its 
impressions of God from the study of final causes alone, we 
should soon see that the God of contrivances is not the God 
in whom we live and move. Creation, as a mysterious fact, 
putting the nature and operations of the Supreme Being 
beyond the category of all finite causes, removing God im- 
measurably from the sphere of limited and conditioned 
existence, is indispensable to any just conceptions of His 
relations and character. Hence, the Scriptures uniformly 
represent the ever-living Jehovah as distinguished from all 
false deities by his creation of the heavens and the earth. 
This is His memorial throughout all generations. He is not 
an architect of signal skill and gigantic power, who works 
materials ready to His hand, and the qualities of which 
He has mastered from long and patient observation ; but by 
a single exercise of will He gives being to all the substances 
that exist, with all their properties and laws, and arranges 
them in the order in which they shall best illustrate His 
knowledge, wisdom and omnipotence. The finite is depend- 
ent on Him for its being as well as its adjustment, and 
providence is a continued exercise of the energies of crea- 
tive power and love. 

But it is time to proceed to the book itself. Dr. Breck- 
inridge treats Theology as the knowledge of God unto sal- 

VoL. I.— 29 * 


vation, and his aim is "to demonstrate, classify and expound " 
those manifestations of the Divine Being from which this 
knowledge is derived. These manifestations are Creation, 
Providence, the Incarnation, the Work of the Spirit, the 
Sacred Scriptures, and the Self-conscious Existence of the 
Human Soul. The grand departments of theology — that 
is, the great topics of which its treats — are God Himself, 
the God-man who is the Mediator between God and men, 
and Man himself in his self-conscious existence as created 
and re-created by God. The system of truth which Dr. 
Breckinridge has developed from these sources and digested 
under these heads is that which in all ages has been the 
life of the Church — that which constituted the ancient creed, 
and has been embodied in modern confessions, and particu- 
larly in the Standards of the Presbyterian Church. Dr. 
Breckinridge makes no claims to novelty in doctrines. He 
has trod in the footsteps of the flock. Satisfied with the 
old, he has sought no new Gospel, and one of his chief 
merits is that he has presented the ancient truths of salva- 
tion with a freshness, an unction and a power which vin- 
dicate to them the real character of a Gospel. What 
he claims as his own, " that which makes the work in- 
dividual," is "the conception, the method, the digestion, 
the presentation, the order, the impression of the whole." 
In these respects he thinks he has rendered some service to 
the cause of theology, which, in common with Aristotle, he 
pronounces to be " the noblest of all sciences." As these 
are the points in reference to which he wishes his success or 
failure to be estimated, it is but fair to him that his critics 
should try him on his own chosen ground. 

What, then, is "the conception" of the book? Surely 
not its definition of theology, which is neither new nor even 
logically exact.^ It is rather the great idea which underlies 

1 What we mean is that it is too narrow. " The knowledge of God 
unto salvation" defines only the religion of a sinner, or what Owen calls 
evangelic theology, and cannot, without an unwarrantable extension of the 
terms, be made to embrace the religion of the unfallcn. Calvin gives 
iheobgy a wider sense, comprehending both the religion of nature and the 


the wliole plan, and furnishes the model after which the 
whole work has been fashioned. This is both original and 
grand. Let us explain ourselves. Theological truth may 
be contemplated absolutely as it is in itself, relatively as it 
is in effects, and elenchtically in its contrasts to error. In 
the first case it is merely a matter of thought ; in the sec- 
ond, of experience ; and in the third, of strife. The result, 
in the first case, is a doctrine ; in the second, a life ; in the 
third, a victory. In the first case the mind speculates ; in 
the second, it feels ; in third, it refutes. The first Dr. Breck- 
inridge calls objective theology.^ We should prefer to style 

religion of grace. It is, in his view, that knowledge of God which is 
productive of piety. Neque enim Deum, proprie loqnendo, cognosci 
dicemus, ubi nulla est religio, nee pietas. Lib. 1, c. 2, § 1. Theology, 
considered as a body of speculative truth, may very jsroperly be defined 
as the science of true religion. 

^ We cannot altogether approve of the selection of the terms objective 
and subjective to denote different parts of a scientific treatise. Science ia 
subjective only when considered as the actual possession of the mind that 
knows ; it indicates a habit, and a habit under the formal notion of in- 
hering in some subject or person. It is mine or yours, and subjective 
only as inhering in you or me. The very moment you represent it in 
thought it becomes to the thinker objective, though as existing in the per- 
son who has it it is still subjective. If even the possessor should make 
it a matter of reflection, it becomes to him, in this relation, objective. The 
thing known or the thing thought, whether it be material or a mode of 
mind, is always the object ; the mind knowing, and under the formal re- 
lation of knowing, is always the subject. Hence, theology subjectively 
considered, or the knowledge of God subjectively considered, can mean 
nothing, in strict propriety of speech, but the personal piety of each in- 
dividual believer considered as the property of his own soul. It is sub- 
jective only as it exists in him. To a third person, who speculates upon 
it and examines its laws and operations, it is surely objective. Everj' 
scientific treatise, therefore, must deal with its topics, even when they are 
mental states and conditions, objectively/. There is no way of considering 
the knowledge of God but by objectifying it. And this accords precisely 
with the usage of the terms among theological writers. By objective the- 
ology they mean Divine truth systematically exhibited ; by subjective the- 
olor/y, holy habits and dispositions considered as in the souls of the faithful. 
The first they also call abstract, and the second concrete — to convey the 
idea that, in the one case, truth was contemplated apart from its inhesion ; 
in the other, in connection with its inhesion, or under the notion of its in- 


it abstractive or absolute, as indicating more precisely the 
absence of relations. The second he entitles subjective. We 
should prefer the epithet concrete, as definitely expressing 
the kind of relation meant. The third he denominates 
relative. AVe prefer the old name, polemic or critical, as more 
exactly defining the kind of relation which is contemplated. 
These three aspects embrace the whole system of theoretical 
theology, and upon the principle that the science of contra- 
ries is one, and that truth is better understood in itself by 
beina: understood in its contrasts, controversial and didactic 
Divinity are in most treatises combined. The peculiarity of 
Dr. Breckinridge's method is that he has separated them ; 
and not only separated them, but separated the consideration 
of the truth in itself from the consideration of it in its effects. 
The " conception " or idea which suggested this departure 
from the ordinary method was the intense conviction of the 
grandeur and glory of the Divine system contemplated 
simply as an object of speculation. The author felt that it 
ouo-lit to be presented in its own majest