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Now, the fact is just the reverse of this supposition. Trinitarianism is the novel heresy engrafted on Christianity. The doctrine of the Trinity did not begin to be heard of till the third century, and was not elaborated into its full and perfect form, until more than a hundred years after that time. It was the slow birth of Oriental philosophy, and vain strifes about words, and successive councils during more than one hundred and fifty years. Unitarianism, taught by the founder of Christianity and his apostles and the faith of all the early Christian Fathers, did not disappear till it was swallowed up in the dark and swelling stream of corruption which ended in the Catholic church. Orthodoxy was the middle stepping stone-_"the half-way house”—from the Faith as first delivered to the Saints, to Papacy. Instead of being a new thing, Unitarianism is like those works of classical antiquity, written over during the middle ages in some Monk's cell, with histories of Saints and Martyrs, and lost to scholars, till discovered in later times by some more acute eye, the Monkish legend has been erased, and the original writing restored. The Unitarianism of the first centuries faded slowly into errors much resembling those of modern orthodoxy-but the departure from the true faith having once begun, errors rushed on, like night on a tropical sunset, till the Catholic and Greek Churches supplanted the Primitive Church, and the darkness of the middle ages shrouded Christendom. The worship of the Virgin Mary followed close upon the deification of our Saviour, and it was not long before the first germs of those errors, which terminated in the doctrine of transubstantiation, appeared. During the middle ages, a false philosophy and religion, mutually corrupting each other, formed but a mass of absurdity:

With the Reformation, better times began. But it could not be expected that such a mighty system of error, interwoven as it was with the philosophical speculations, the religious faith, and the associations and habits of the Christian world, should be done away at once. Corruptions had been accumulating during 1300 years;-was it to be expected that the world was to stride back over this path of centuries in a single day! It was not to be expected that even the leaders of the Reformation should be entirely emancipated from hereditary

What we call the Reformation, was but the beginning of reform-a twilight giving augury of a bright day--but still only a twilight, that in many cases, threw distorting shadows, and left much in dimness, and much more in former darkness. Wickliff, and Luther, and Calvin, are remarkable, not because they arrived at truth, but because they stood at the cross-roads and guided the passing multitude from the way of error, into that which led to truth;just as Bacon is to be held in honor, not because he taught true philosophy (we know that he shared with his contemporaries in their philosophical errors,) but because he taught the true way to philosophise. He did not make known the true relations of the solar system to each other, but he prepared and showed the way for the discoveries of Newton. So the Reformers led the way to a true theology, by establishing the principle that “the Bible and the Bible only is the rule of faith. It was enough for them so far to emancipate themselves from the authority of the Romish church as to do this. Others have started with the advantage of their labors, and making the Reformers, not masters, but guides, have interpreted the Bible and understood it far better than the ablest of the leaders of Reform.


When mind was set free by the Reformation, and every man was taught to read and interpret the Bible for himself, of course all did not think alike. When Protestantism emerged from the bosom of the Catholic church, a large number of conflicting sects appeared. Some were Lutherans, some Calvinists, some followers of Zuingle and some, -not many in number, but in character and ability, ranking among the ablest theologians of the times, were Unitarians.

Many desire to be acquainted with, and it is our purpose to show, the gradual decline and corruption of the primitive faith, as taught by Christ and his apostles. In this article we propose to give some account of the doctrine of Original Sin. We shall make our remarks as brief as possible, our only purpose being to show the gradual progress of corruption, which Christian truth underwent. There is no readier mode of doing this, than by referring to the opinions held on this subject in successive centuries.

CENTURY I.—For the opinions of this century, we refer to the New Testament. In this, we find no account of original sin or native depravity, having its source in Adam's transgression, and incapacitating his descendants for doing any good thing. It were blasphemy to suppose that God so trifles with and tyrannizes over his creatures as to command them to do what they are unable to perform. Now moral precepts, with their sanctions of rewards and punishments, abound in the New Testament, and men are warned and expostulated with, and pressed with the most earnest entreaties, to turn from their evil ways, that they may live and not die. Every law, every precept, every motive in the New Testament, is in the same spirit and pre-supposes that man is not born with that depraved tendencies, which render him unable to do the will of God.

But do not the Scriptures teach that all men sinned in Adam's fall, and that by his fall all are rendered unable to do the will of God? No. What was the real effect of Adam's sin on his posterity? What was the curse pronounced on him? Nothing like what is generally supposed. It had nothing to do with his nature, nor with his ability or inability to do the will of God. Whoever will turn to Genesis iïi, 17, 19, will find that the curse embraces nothing but the laborious cultivation of the earth, and mortality. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." This is the whole of the curse pronounced on Adam, and the one pronounced on Eve is in its spirit like unto it-physical pain and sorrow in this world, and no more. Nothing is said here or in any other part of the Bible, of any change in Adam's nature: and still less is anything said of any corruption flowing on from him to deprave the natures of his posterity, and to render them unable to do the will of God.

It has been said, that the doctrine of man's native depravity is a humbling doctrine. Perhaps it is. It is a humiliating view of man's nature to suppose him incapable of doing any good thing. But if this doctrine places man in a humiliating point of view, it represents God as a being infinitely more degraded; for it represents Him as commanding men to do, under the severest penalties, what they are from the natures He has given them, (for whatever our natures may be, they are what they are by the will of God,) incapable of doing. The “humbling character” of this doctrine affects God more than man.

CENTURY II.Justin Martyr, who flourished A. D. 140, was one of the most eminent of the Christian Fathers, and the first whose works have come down to us. He says, “that if it were decreed by fate, that one should be good and another bad, no praise would be due to the former, or blame to the latter."*

Again he


“God has not made man like

* We have taken these quotations from the Fathers, from Priestley's History of Corruptions, Vol. I., and from an admirable article in the Christian Éxaminer, Vol. I. No. I. In either of these works our readers will find a full discussion of this subject.

the beasts, who can do nothing from choice and judgment; for he would not be worthy of reward or promise, if he did not of himself choose what was good, but was made good; nor, if he was wicked, could he be justly punished, as not having been such of himself, but only what he had been made." Certainly Justin had no idea that man was infected with a depravity, which rendered him unable by nature to do the will of God.

Tatian, A. D. 172, says: “That he who is wicked may be, justly punished, being made wicked by himself; and that he who is just may deservedly be praised on account of his good actions, having through his power over himself, not transgressed the will of God. Such is the nature of angels and men.

How differently this reads from the Assembly's Confession of Faith.

Irenæus, A. D. 178, says: “And God has preserved to man a will free, and in his own power, not only in works, but also in faith;" and quoting Matt. ix, 29, viii, 13, and Mark ix, 23, he says: “All such expressions show that man is in his own power with respect to faith.”

CENTURY III.—In this century lived Origen, of whom Coleridge in his Table Talk, says: “He seems to have been almost the only very great scholar and genius combined, among the early Fathers." The language of Origen on this subject, is: “that not a single one is formed wicked by the Creator of all things, but that many men become wicked by education, by example and by influence.” No language can be more explicit than this, and none more opposite to the great standards of Calvanism.

CENTURY IV.- Eusebius A. D. 315. “Everything," he says, "is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature!"

During this century, and not before, what is now called Calvinism, began to be taught, and towards the close of the century, so many had embraced this, then new heresy, that Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, thought it worth the while to publish a work in five books, written expressly against those who said, that men sin by nature, and not by will and choice.”

At the close of the fourth and beginning of the fifth century flourished Augustine, Bishop of Hyppo, from whom the

doctrines of grace, native depravity and predestination, in their perfected shape, date as their source. The immaculate character of his speculations may be judged of from the fact, that he was zealous in establishing various monasteries of monks and nuns in Africa. He was in advance of his times, only in advancing more rapidly than others into the shadows and darkness of the Romish church. Yet this man is the father of the doctrines, since termed Calvanistic. Calvin himself says: "Perhaps I may be thought to have raised a great prejudice against myself, by consessing that all the ecclesiastical writers, except Augustine, have treated this subject with such ambiguities or variations, that nothing certain can be learned from their writings.” Jansenius, the founder of the sect of Jansenists among the Catholics, a sect which held Calvinistic sentiments, also says; “That Augustine was the first among the Holy Fathers, who taught Christians the meaning of the New Testament.”

These doctrines assumed their settled form in the controversies of Augustine with Pelagius, near the beginning of the fifth century. Pelagius was a British monk, and admitted to be of irreproachable morals by even Augustine himself. He resided in Rome about the year 400, when his opinions seem to have met no opposition, but after this went to the East, where the controversy with the Bishop of Hyppo commenced. It originated in the earnest opposition of Pelagius to certain abuses and superstitions, especially with respect to the ordinance of baptism. This rite was supposed to have the power of washing away sin. But Pelagius argued that baptism of itself could not be of any avail to the pardon of sins, because it was applied to infants, who had no sin. He maintained that nothing but good works are of any avail in the sight of God; and that to these alone, which it is in every man's power to perform, the pardon of sin is annexed. Augustine, on the other hand maintained with respect to original sin, that infants derive sin from Adam, and that his guilt was entailed upon them, so that they are obnoxious to punishment on account of it. To prove that infants had sinned in Adam, he urged that otherwise Christ could not be their Saviour. But, apparently shocked by the thought that infants should be cast into the torments of hell on account of the sin of Adam alone, he maintained that though they were in hell, their punishment was so little, that they would prefer to exist under it, rather than not exist at all. In this his ideas were milder than those of the Assembly's Confession of Faith, which teaches that only the elect infants are saved, while all the rest suffer the torments of the damned on account of Adam's sin.

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