(f) Man?s present state of corruption, condemnation, and death, is the direct effect of Adam?s transgression.
The Westminster Confession, ch. vi, G 4, declares that ?we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil.? To Pelagius, on the contrary, sin is a mere incident. He knows only of sins, not of sin. He holds the atomic, or atomistic, theory of sin, which regards it as consisting in isolated volition. Pelagianism, holding, as it does, that virtue and vice consist only in single decisions, does not account for character at all. There is no such thing as a state of sin, or a self-propagating power of sin. And yet upon these the Scriptures lay greater emphasis than upon mere acts of transgression. <430306>John 3:6 ? ?That which is born of the flesh is flesh? ? ?that which comes of a sinful and guilty stock is itself, from the very beginning, sinful and guilty? (Dorner). Witness the tendency to degradation in families and nations.
Amiel says that the great defect of liberal Christianity is its superficial conception of sin. The tendency dates far back: Tertullian spoke of the soul as naturally Christian ? ?anima naturaliter Christiana.? The tendency has come down to modern times: Crane, The Religion of Tomorrow, 246 ? ?It is only when children grow up and begin to absorb their environment that they lose their artless loveliness.? A Rochester Unitarian preacher publicly declared it to be as much a duty to believe in the natural purity of man as to believe in the natural purity of God. Dr. Lyman Abbott speaks of ?the shadow which the Manichean theology of Augustine, borrowed by Calvin, cast upon all children, in declaring them born to an inheritance of wrath as a viper?s brood.? Dr. Abbott forgets that Augustine was the greatest opponent of Manicheanism, and that his doctrine of inherited guilt may be supplemented by a doctrine of inherited divine influences tending to salvation.
Prof. G. A. Coe tells us that ?all children are within the household of God?, that ?they are already members of his kingdom? and, that ?the adolescent change? is ?a step not into the Christian life, but within the Christian life.? We are taught that salvation is by education. Even though education is only a way of presenting truth, it still remains needful that the soul should accept the truth. Pelagianism ignores or denies the presence in every child of a congenital selfishness which hinders acceptance of the truth, and which, without the working of the divine Spirit, will absolutely counteract the influence of the truth. Augustine was taught his guilt and helplessness by transgression while Pelagius remained ignorant of the evil of his own heart. Pelagius might have said with Wordsworth, Prelude, 534 ? ?I had approached, like other youths, the shield Of human nature
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