by the successive labors of Hopkins, Emmons, Dwight, Taylor, and Finney. It is held at present by New School Presbyterians and by the larger part of the Congregational body.
According to this theory, all men are born with a physical and moral constitution, which predisposes them to sin, and all men do actually sin so soon as they come to moral consciousness. This vitiosity of nature may be called sinful, because it uniformly leads to sin but it is not itself sin, since nothing is to be properly denominated sin but the voluntary act of transgressing known law.
God imputes to men only their own acts of personal transgression; he does not impute to them Adam?s sin, neither original vitiosity nor physical death is penal infliction; it is simply consequence, which God has in his sovereignty ordained to mark his displeasure at Adam?s transgression and subject to which evils God immediately creates each human soul. In
<450512> Romans 5:12, ?death passed unto all men, for that all sinned,? signifies ?spiritual death passed on all men, because all men have actually and personally sinned.?
Edwards held that God imputes Adam?s sin to his posterity by arbitrarily identifying them with him, identity, on the theory of continuous creation (see pages 415-418), being only what God appoints. Since this did not furnish sufficient round for imputation, Edwards joined the Placean doctrine to the other and showed the justice of the condemnation by the fact that man is depraved. He adds, moreover, the consideration that man ratifies this depravity by his own act. So Edwards tried to combine three views but all were vitiated by his doctrine of continuous creation, which logically made God the only cause in the universe and left no freedom, guilt, or responsibility to man. He held that preservation is a continuous series of new divine volition, personal identity consisting in consciousness or rather memory, with no necessity for identity of substance. He maintained that God could give to an absolutely new creation the consciousness of one just annihilated and thereby the two would be identical. He maintained this not only as a possibility but also as the actual fact. See Lutheran Quarterly, April, 1901:149-169; and H. N. Gardiner, in Philos. Rev., Nov. 1900:573-596.
The idealistic philosophy of Edwards enables us to understand his conception of the relation of the race to Adam. He believed in ?a real union between the root and the branches of the world of mankind, established by the author of the whole system of the universe. The full
<- Previous Table of Contents Next ->
Was this article helpful?