Alexander Campbell The Christian System: CS - 07-07 Man as He Is

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Alexander Campbell The Christian System: CS - 07-07 Man as He Is

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"God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions." Adam rebelled. The natural man became preternatural. The animal triumphed over the human elements of his nature. Sin was born on earth. The crown fell from his head. The glory of the Lord departed from him. He felt his guilt, and trembled, he saw his nakedness and blushed. The bright candle of the Lord became a dimly smoking taper. He was led to judgment. He was tried, condemned to death, divested of his patrimonial inheritance, but respited from immediate execution. A prisoner of death, but permitted to roam abroad and at large till the King authorized his seizure and destruction.

The stream of humanity, thus contaminated at its fountain, cannot in this world ever rise of itself, to its primitive purity and excellence. We all inherit a frail constitution, physically, intellectually, but especially morally frail and imbecile. We have all inherited our father's constitution and fortune: for Adam, we are told, after he fell "begat a son in his own image," and that son was just as bad as any other son ever born into the world: for he murdered his own dear brother, because he was a better man than himself. "Thus, by one man sin entered into the world, and death by that one sin, and so death, the wages of sin, has fallen upon all the offspring of Adam," because in him they have all sinned, or been made mortal--and consequently are born under condemnation to that death which fell upon our common progenitor, because of his transgression.

In Adam, all have sinned; therefore "in Adam all die." Your nature, gentle reader, not your person, was in Adam when he put forth his hand to break the precept of Jehovah. You did not personally sin in that act; but your nature then in the person of your father, sinned against the Author of your existence. In the just judgment, therefore, of your heavenly Father, your nature sinned in Adam, and with him it is right, that all human beings should be born mortal, and that death should lord it over the whole race as he has done in innumerable instances even "over them that have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression;" 1: e., by violating a positive law. Now it must be conceded, that what God can righteously and mercifully inflict upon a part of mankind, he may justly and mercifully inflict upon all; and therefore those that live one score or four score years on this earth, for the sin of their nature in Adam, might have been extinguished the first year as reasonably as those who have in perfect infancy perished from the earth. Death is expressly denominated by an Apostle, "the wages of sin." Now this reward of sin is at present inflicted upon at least one fourth of the human race who have never violated any law, or sinned personally by any act of their lives. According to the most accurate bills of mortality, from one third to one fourth of the whole progeny of man die in infancy, under two years, without the consciousness of good or evil. They are thus, innocent though they be, as respects actual and personal transgression, accounted as sinners by him who inflicts upon them the peculiar and appropriate wages of sin. This alarming and most strangely pregnant of all the facts in human history, proves that Adam was not only the common father, but the actual representative of all his children.

There is, therefore, a sin of our nature as well as personal transgression. Some inappositely call the sin of our nature our "original sin;" as if the sin of Adam was the personal offence of his children. True, indeed, it is, our nature was corrupted by the fall of Adam before it was transmitted to us; and hence that hereditary imbecility to do good, and that proneness to do evil, so universally apparent in all human beings. Let no man open his mouth against the transmission of a moral distemper, until he satisfactorily explain the fact--that the special characteristic vices of parents appear in their children as much as the color of their skin, their hair, or the contour of their faces. A disease in the moral constitution of a man is an clearly transmissible as any physical taint, if there be any truth in history, biography, or human observation.

Still, man, with all his hereditary imbecility, is not under an invincible necessity to sin. Greatly prone to evil, easily seduced into transgression, he may or may not yield to passion and seduction. Hence the differences we so often discover in the corruption and depravity of man. All inherit a fallen, consequently a sinful nature; though all are not equally depraved. Thus we find the degrees of sinfulness and depravity are very different in different persons. And although without the knowledge of God and his revealed will, without the interposition of a mediator, and without faith in him, "it is impossible to please God;" still, there are those who, while destitute of the knowledge and belief, are more noble and virtuous than others. Thus admits Luke when he says, "The Jews in Berea were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether these things were so. Therefore, many of them believed." Act_17:11. But until man in his present preternatural state, believes the gospel report of his sins and submits to Jesus Christ as the only Mediator and Saviour of sinners, it is impossible for him to do any thing absolutely pleasing or acceptable to God.

Condemned to natural death, and greatly fallen and depraved in our whole moral constitution though we certainly are, in consequence of the sin of Adam; still, because of the interposition of the second Adam, none are punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, but those who actually and voluntarily sin against a dispensation of mercy under which they are placed: for this is "the condemnation of the world, that light has come into the world, and men choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil."