11. Mediate Imputation.

The fourth solution attempted for the great objection, brings us to the nth question: the scheme of mediate imputation. The author and history of this are succinctly stated by Turrettin. Placaeus said that the imputation of Adam’s sin was only mediate, and consequent upon our participation in total native depravity, which we derive by the great law, that like begets like. We, being thus depraved by nature, and, so to speak, endorsing his sin, by exhibiting the same spirit and committing similar acts, it is just in God to implicate us in the same punishments. Let it be remarked, first, that the charge made in the National Synod of Charenton, was, that Placaeus had denied all imputation of Adam’s guilt, and had made original sin consist exclusively in subjective depravity. This is precisely what the Synod condemned. It was to evade this censure, that he invented the distinction between an " antecedent and immediate imputation " of Adam’s guilt, which he denied, and a " mediate and subsequent imputation," which he professed to hold. It appears then, that this invention was no part of the theology, of the Reformed churches, and had never been heard of before. So thought Dr. A. Alexander, (Princeton Review, Oct. 1839.) The distinction seems to have been a ruse designed to shelter himself from censure, and to lay a snare for his accusers. It was unfortunate that they, like his chief opponent, Andrew Rivet, fell into it, by advocating the “antecedent and immediate imputation,” as the only true view. It docs not appear to me that those who, with Rivet, have labored to show that this is the doctrine of the Reformed Symbols, have at all proved their point. The distinction is, like that of the Supralapsarian and Infralapsarian, an attempted over-refinement, which should never have been made, which explained nothing, and whose corollaries increased the difficulties of the subject.

Turrettin, and those who assert the “antecedent immediate imputation,” charge that the scheme of Placaeus is only Arminianism in disguise, and that it really leaves no imputation of Adam’s guilt at all; inasmuch as they say it leaves the personal guilt of the child’s own subjective corruption, as the real ground of all the penal infliction incurred by original sin. While these objections seem just in part, I would add two others: First. Placaeus, like the lower Arminian, seems to offer the fact that God should have extended the law “like begets like,” to man’s moral nature, as an explanation of original sin. This, as I urged before, is only obtruding the fact itself as an explanation of the fact. To extend this law of nature to responsible persons, is an ordination of God. The question is: on what judicial basis does this ordination rest? Second: Placaeus’ scheme is false to the facts of the case, in that it represents Adam’s posterity as having, in God’s view, an actual, antecedent, depraved existence, at least for a moment, before they passed therefor under condemnation; whereas the Scriptures represent them as beginning their existence condemned, as well as depraved. See Eph. 2:3.

Immediate Imputation.

In opposition to this scheme, Turrettin states the view of immediate imputation, which has since been defined and asserted in its most rigid sharpness by the Princeton school. It boldly repudiates every sense in which we really or actually sinned in Adam, and admits no other than merely the representative sense of a positive covenant. It says that the guilt of Adam’s first sin, which was personally nobody’s but Adam’s own, is sovereignly imputed to his posterity. Depravity of nature is a part of the penalty of death, due to Adam’s sin, and is visited on Adam’s children purely as the penal consequence of the putative guilt they bear. For sin may be the punishment of sin. Very true, after depravity of nature thus becomes personally theirs, it also brings an addition of personal guilt, for which they are thenceforward punished, as well as for actual transgressions. The grounds for this statement are chiefly these two: 1. That Rom. v: 12-20 asserts an exact parallel between our federal relation to Adam and to Christ, so that, as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us, conceived as personally unrighteous, goes before procuring our justification, and then ah sanctifying grace is bestowed working personal sanctification, as purchased by Christ’s righteousness for us; so, we must conceive Adam’s guilt imputed to us, we being conceived as, in the first instance, personally guiltless, but for that guilt; and then depravity given us, working personal sin and guilt, as the mischievous purchase of Adam’s federal act for US. And, as the parallel must be exact, if this view of original sin be rejected, then the view of justification must be modified “to suit;” making it consist first in an infusion of personal righteousness in the believer, and then the consequent accounting to us of Christ’s righteousness. But that is precisely the Romish justification. 2. The connection between the second Adam and His believing people, in the covenant of grace, includes an imputation which is the exact counterpart of that of the first Adam’s guilt. This is the two-fold imputation of our sins to Christ, and of His righteousness to us. But the former of these is strictly an imputation of peccatum alienum to Christ; and the latter is an immediate imputation of His righteousness to us. Hence, if we deny this scheme of antecedent, immediate imputation, we must give up salvation by imputed righteousness, and there remains no way of escape for sinners.

I propose to dwell upon this question a little more than its intrinsic importance deserves. Having pronounced it a useless and erroneous distinction, I might be expected to dismiss it with scant notice. But it receives an incidental importance from the important truths connected with it. These are, most prominently, the difficulties concerning the righteousness of the imputation of Adam’s guilt, and also, the nature of imputation in general, justification, union to Christ, God’s providence in visiting the sins of parents on children, (Ex. xx: 5,) and the manner in which the ethical reason should be treated, when it advances objections against revealed truth.

I sustain my position, then, that this distinction between “mediate," and " immediate” imputation should never have been made, by showing that it causelessly aggravates the difficulties of the awful doctrine of original sin, exaggerating needlessly the angles of a subject which is, at best, sufficiently mysterious; that the arguments by which the immediate imputation must be sustained misrepresent the doctrines of the spiritual union and justification; and especially, that it is false to the facts of the case, in a mode the counterpart of Placaeus’. It represents the child of Adam as having a separate, undepraved, personal existence, at least for an instant; until from innocent, it becomes depraved by God’s act, as a penal consequence of Adam’s guilt imputed as peccatum alienum solely.1 But in fact, man now never has any personal existence at all, save a depraved existence. As he enters being condemned, so he enters it depraved. This over-refinement thus leads us to an error in the statement of fact, which matches that resulting from the opposite scheme. Does not this show very clearly, that the distinction should never have been made? And can those who advocate the “immediate, precedaneous imputation,” after applauding the refutation of Placaeus’ scheme by the parallel argument, justly recoil from its application to themselves?

But it is argued, that since the imputation of our guilt to Christ is an immediate imputation of peccatum alienum, grounded in His community of nature with His people, the parallelism of the two doctrines shuts us up to a similar imputation of Adam’s guilt to us. I reply: the cases indisputably differ in two vital respects. It may be asked if both covenants do not rest on the principle of imputation? The answer is, of course, yes; both covenants involve the principle, that God may justly transfer guilt from one moral agent to another, under certain conditions. But it does not follow, that He will do this under any conditions whatever.2 Does any one suppose, for instance, that God would have condemned holy Gabriel for Satan’s sin, without any assent, complicity or knowledge, on the part of the former? But we shall find that the cases of Adam and Christ are conditioned differently in two important respects. First: Christ’s bearing our imputed guilt was conditioned on His own previous, voluntary consent. See Jno. x: i8. All theologians, so far as I know, regard this as essential to a just imputation of peccatum alienum directly to Him. See, for instance. Dr. Thornwell’s Mission Sermon of 1856. “It” (Christ’s covenant with the Father), "binds not by virtue of a right to command, but by virtue of a consent to obey." Butler’s Analogy, pt. II, chap. 5, § 7. Owen on Justif. p. 194. Chalmers’ Theol. Inst., vol. I, p. 498.) If a man were to hold that the Father would have made this imputation of another’s guilt upon His Son, in spite of the Son’s exercising His legitimate autocracy to refuse and decline it, I should consider that man past reasoning with. But Adam’s infant children receive the imputation, when they are incapable of a rational option or assent about it. The other difference in the two cases, (which it seems amazing any one can overlook,) is the one pointed out in Rom. v: 16-19, and vi: 23. For the judgment was by one to condemnation; but the free gift (verse 15, "gift by grace ") is of many offences unto justification." The imputation of Adam’s sin was a transaction of strict, judicial righteousness; the other transaction was one of glorious, free grace. Now, can any righteous judge be imagined, who would allow himself equal latitude in his judicial convictions, which he claims in his acts of voluntary beneficence? Would not the righteous magistrate answer, that in condemning, he felt himself restricted by the exact merits of the parties; but that in giving, he felt himself free to transcend their merits, and bestow what his generous impulses prompted? It may be praiseworthy to dispense blessings above the deserts of the beneficiaries; it cannot be other than injustice to dispense penalties beyond the deserts of the culprits. We thus find that the imputation to us from Adam, and from us to Christ, are unavoidably conditioned in different ways in part; in other respects they are analogous.

Our next point is founded on the admission, in which we are all agreed, that the imputation of Adam’s guilt to us, is in part grounded, essentially, in the community of nature. But with which nature of Adam, are we united by the tie of race; the fallen, or the unfallen? Adam had no offspring until after he became a sinner. Then he begat even Seth, the father of the holy seed, “in his own likeness, after his image.” (Gen. V: 3.) The Scriptures, from Job to Christ, assure us, that the thing which is born of the flesh is flesh. The race union obviously unites us with Adam fallen, in his corrupted nature. Hence we argue, that if this race union is one of the essential grounds of the imputation, it cannot be antecedent to that subjective corruption of nature, on which it is partly grounded. This reasoning has been felt as so forcible, that the advocates of immediate imputation have found it necessary to study evasions. One is, to argue that our federal union was with the nature of Adam unfallen, because the moment he fell, the covenant of works was abrogated. I reply: Not so; for if that covenant was then abrogated, it is strange that we are still suffering the penalty of its breach! The true statement is, that the broken covenant still remains in force, against all not in the second Adam, as a rule of condemnation; its breach by our representative only made it ineffectual as a rule of life. Another evasion is, to say, that our Nature had its representation and probation in Adam, before any of us had a personal existence, and while the nature in him was unfallen. I reply by asking: What sense do the words, "our Nature," have in this statement? Is it of the imputation of Adam’s guilt to the Nature, that we are debating? or of its imputation to persons? Now, it is only a metaphor to speak of beings as bearing a relation to each other, while one of them, (Adam’s descendant) is non-existent as yet. Only existing beings sustain actual relations. The only other sense, in which the relation between me and Adam had an actual being before I existed, was as it stood in God’s decree. This may be illustrated’ by the counterpart doctrine of justification. The Conf. chap ii, § 4, says: “God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect. * * * nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.” By parity of reasoning I hold, that God did, from all eternity, decree to condemn all men federally connected with Adam in his fall, nevertheless, they are not condemned actually, until they actually begin to exist in natural and federal union with their fallen head. But this is almost a truism.

Hence we pass to a corresponding argument from the dependence of the actual imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us upon a certain union between Him and us. All again admit this. What species of union is it? The spiritual union. This question and answer, like the touch-stone, reveal the unsoundness of the opposing logic. The student will remember how it argues: That inasmuch as we must make an exact parallel between the imputation of Adam’s guilt and Christ’s righteousness, we must hold that the imputing of the guilt of Adam’s first sin precedaneously and immediately as solely peccatum alienum must go before, upon the offspring conceived as so far personally innocent: and then, we must consider his subjective depravity as following that putative sentence, and as the penal result thereof Else, the symmetry of the two cases will lead us from Placaeus’ ground, to conceive of justification thus: that God finds in the sinner an inherent righteousness, which mediates the imputation to him of the subsequent righteousness of Christ for his full acceptance. But this is virtually the vicious. Popish view of justification. True, I reply: this explodes Placaeus: but it also explodes their own scheme. For if we make justification correspond, by an exact symmetry, to the scheme of their “immediate, antecedent imputation,” then we must get this doctrine of justification: viz. The sinner, while still in his depravity, get’s Christ’s righteousness directly, gratuitously and antecedently, imputed to him; and then, as part of the consequent reward of that imputed merit, has regeneration wrought, infusing the sanctified nature of his redeeming Head into his soul. But as faith is in order to justification, this speculation must lead us to the following order. First, the convicted sinner, while unrenewed, exercises the initial saving faith. Second, he is thereupon justified. Third, he then procures, as one of the fruits of the reconciliation, a holy heart, like his Savior’s. Now, a moderate tincture of theology will teach any one that this is precisely the Arminian Theory of justification. And a little reflection will show, that he who makes faith precede regeneration in the order of causation, must, if consistent, be a synergist. Thus it appears that this scheme cuts off the Calvinistic doctrine of justification as rigidly as it does Placaeus. That doctrine, as none have stated more clearly than Dr. Hodge, [as Theol. vol. 2, p. 195,] distinguishes between inherent and legal righteousness. The latter no justified sinner has of his own, either at the moment he is justified, or ever after. The former, every believer partakes, through the grace of effectual calling, in order to the faith by which he receives justification. All intelligent Calvinists, so far as I know, teach that the application of redemption begins with effectual calling. The order they give is this: First, regeneration, implanting Christ’s spiritual life, by which the sinner is enabled to believe: Second, faith, and then justification. In short, the believer is not first justified in order to become a partaker of Christ’s nature. He is made a partaker of that nature, in order to be justified. The vital union is both legal and spiritual: community in Christ’s righteousness is one fruit; holy living is the other. Once more: All Calvinists will concur with Dr. Hodge in stating, [Theol. vol. 2, pp. 196, 211], that since the ground of the imputation of Adam’s guilt to us is the union of nature, the consequences of the fall come on us in the same order as on Adam. But now, I ask, was Adam’s depravity solely a penal consequence of his first transgression? Surely not; for unless a depraved motive had prompted his act, it would not have carried guilt. The intention of the crime is what qualifies the act as criminal. In Adam’s case, the subjective depravation (self-induced) and the guilt, were simultaneous and mutually involved. Then, according to the concession made, the scheme of immediate, precedaneous imputation is surrendered. We return, then, to the consistent statement with which the discussion of original sin began: That the federal and representative union between Adam and his offspring, in the covenant of works, was designed to result thus: whatever legal status, and whatever moral character Adam should win for himself under his probation, that status, and that character each of his children by nature should inherit, on entering his existence. I have not appealed to the illustrative cases in which God visits the iniquities of parents on their children; because I do not regard them as strictly parallel to our federal union with Adam. Our parents now are not acting for us under a covenant of works. In this sense they are not our federal representatives, as Adam was. But as the attempt has been made to wield these cases against me, I willingly meet them. It has been said, for instance, that Achan’s infant children, incapable of the sin of political treason and sacrilege, were put to death for their father’s guilt. Does any one suppose, that they would have died by God’s order, if they had been as pure before Him, as the humanity of the infant Jesus? Hardly! The doctrine as taught by God, (Deut. v: 9; Matt, xxiii: 32-35) is, that He now visits the guilt of sinful parents on sinful children. The Pharisees’ filling up, by their own sins, the measure of their fathers, was the condition of their inheriting the penalty of all the righteous blood shed from Abel to Zacharias. This Turrettin teaches, Loc. ix: Qu, 9, against the interest of his own erroneous logic. Thus, we find, in this extensive class of providential dealings, cases of what Dr. Hodge correctly deems, true imputation. But the conditions arc not identical with those which he claims for Adam’s case.

I have said that the attempts made by Rivet and other later divines, to prove that their doctrine of immediate, precedaneous imputation is that of the Reformed Churches and symbols, are vain. My conviction is, that this scheme, like the supralapsarian, is a novelty and an over-refinement, alien to the true current of the earlier Reformed theology, and some of Placaeus’ day were betrayed into the exaggeration by the snare set for them by his astuteness, and their own over-zeal to expose him. I beg leave to advance one or two witnesses in support. Stapfer, who has been erroneously quoted, as on Placaeus’ side, says, (Vol. iv; ch. xvii: § y8. Note.), “the whole controversy they,” (impugners of the justice of imputation):

have with us about this matter, evidently arises from this: that they suppose the mediate and the immediate imputation are distinguished one from the other, not only in the manner of conception, but in reality. And so indeed, they consider imputation only as immediate, and abstractedly from the mediate, when yet our divines suppose that neither ought to be considered separately from the other. Therefore I choose not to use any such distinction. * * * While I have been writing this note, I have consulted all the systems of divinity which I have by me, that I might see what was the true and genuine opinion of our chief divines in this affair, and I found they were of the same mind with me.

Markius, in DeMoor, says: If Placaeus meant nothing more by mediate imputation, than that “hominum natorum actualem punitionem ulteriorem non fieri nudo intuitu Adamicæ transgressionis, absque interveniente etiam propria corruptione, et fluentibus hinc sceleribus variis, neminem orthodoxonem posset habere obloquentein.” DeMoor quotes Vogelsang, (Com. vol. iii: p. 275,) as saying: “Certe neminem sempiterna subire supplicia propter inobedientia protoplasti, nisi mediante cognata perversitate." Calvin in his Inst, but more distinctly in his exposition of Rom. v: 12-19, teaches just the view I have given. This much belaboured passage has been often claimed, as clearly teaching the immediate, antecedent imputation. Thus Dr. Hodge assumes. He claims that the correct interpretation of this passage, demands his view of the exact identity of the two imputations, in the Covenant of works, and of grace. He then, reasoning in a circle, defends his interpretation chiefly from the assumed premise of that identity. The details of his exposition seem to be more akin to those of the Socinian expositors, and of Whitby, than of the old Reformed. To me it appears, that Calvin shows a truer insight into the scope of the Apostle’s discourse, and gives more satisfactory meanings of the particular phrases. The question is urged: Since Paul illustrates justification by original sin, must we not suppose an exact parallel between the illustration and the thing illustrated? I reply: We must suppose so real a resemblance as to make the illustration a fair one; but this does not include an exact parallel. Few scriptural illustrations present an exact one. I have showed that Dr. Hodge’s effort here to maintain one, is deceptive; and that if it were faithfully carried out, it would land us all in Arminianism, (where Whitby stood). The Apostle himself, in verse 13-17, makes exceptions to the exactness of his own parallel! In view of these facts, and of the silence of our Confession touching the exaggerated scheme, we treat the charge that we are making a defection from Calvinism by preferring the old, Calvinistic doctrine to the new one of Princeton, with the entire indifference it deserves. But it is time to return to the rationalistic objection against the justice of imputation, which has been the occasion of the speculations reviewed. (See p. 338,). Dr. Hodge seems to dispose of this objection, by simply disregarding it. The amount of satisfaction he offers to the recalcitrant reason, is: God makes this immediate imputation, and therefore it must be right, whatever reason says. Whether this is wise, or prudent, or just logic, we shall see. All the other writers I have read, who incline to the extreme view, betray a profound sense of this difficulty, by their resort to uneasy expedients to evade it. (We have seen those of Wesley and of Edwards: who belong to different schools of opinion from Turrettin, and from each other). But these evasions, if they satisfy themselves, do not satisfy each other. That adopted by Dr. Hodge, from Turrettin, (Loc. ix: Qu. 9: § 14; Theology, Vol. ii: p. 21 1), is, that the penalty we incur from Adam’s imputed guilt is, (a) privative, and (b), positive. The former, involving simply the lack of original righteousness, is visited on us by the immediate, precedaneous imputation. The latter, carrying spiritual death and all positive miseries, is imputed mediately. Though the second inseparably follows the first, yet they are to be thus distinguished. Dr Thornwell effectually explodes this evasion for us. (Works, Vol. I: p. 333). He asks: if the child of Adam is initially pure, is there any less difficulty in a just and Holy God’s treating him as a sinner, than in His causing him to be a sinner? And if this penal treatment (on imputation of peccatum alienum does cause him to be a sinner, have we not both the difficulties on our hands? For, second: the distinction between a privative, and a positive depravation is, for a Calvinist, utterly inconsistent. Turrettin, when arguing against Pelagians and Papists, has himself proved that the privative state of a lack of original righteousness is, ipso facto, positive depravity. So says common sense. That a rational creature of God, knowing His perfections, and His own accountability, should fail to love and reverence Him, is itself to be in a positively unholy state. I add, third, that even if the distinction were allowed, yet if from the privative, the positive depravation unavoidably and naturally follows, then the same judicial act which inflicts the one has also inflicted the other. The executioner, who swings off the felon to be hanged, from the platform of the gibbet, does thereby choke him to death.

Dr. Thornwell, in turn, after looking the doctrine of immediate precedaneous imputation steadily in the face, finds himself constrained to seek a palliation for its difficulty, in the same direction from which he had sought to recall Dr. S. J. Baird a few years before. On pp. 349, 350, of his Lectures, he says:

On these grounds I am free to confess, that I cannot escape from the doctrine, however mysterious, of a generic unity in man, as the true basis of the representative economy in the covenant of works. The human race is not an aggregate of independent atoms, but constitutes an organic whole, with a common life springing from a common ground. * * * 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.

Thus, the stress of the rationalistic objection appears to him so heavy, that it drives him to the solution he had before refuted. For the reasons stated on p. 339, this resort appears to me invalid. It is true, Adam was " the root of all mankind.” This race unity is, as our Confession states, an all-important condition of the federal union. But apart from each human person, we see in this race-unity no moral, and still less any personal entity, to be the subject of responsibility.

The difficulty then recurs Is the doctrine of original sin founded on that which seems to the natural conscience an intrinsic injustice, punishing innocent persons, without their consent, for another man’s sin? Let the student bear in mind, that we have no intention of denying the mysteriousness of the divine dispensation of the fall of our race in their first father. It is an inscrutable providence. But while the view I sustain, leaves it enveloped in a mystery which the wisest and best of us most clearly see will never be solved in this world; the advantage I claim is, that it leaves the doctrine in a state where no man can convict it of injustice. This advantage appears in two ways. First: man reasons chiefly by parallel instances; his reasoning is comparison. Consequently, in a case wholly unique, where there is no parallel, while he may not comprehend, he cannot convict of injustice. The case is above his grasp ; he has no experimental scales in which to weigh it. Second : our fall in Adam, as properly stated, lacks the essential point wherein the caviller finds, in the instance of his pretended parallel, the intrinsic injustice. But it is evident, on consideration, that, upon the theory of immediate imputation, that essential point is yielded to the caviller. It is, that the innocent is punished, without his consent, for the guilty. Let us suppose the case usually cited for illustration, the peaceful citizen charged, under human laws, with the putative guilt of a murder to which he had not consented. This injustice is indisputable. But let us see what is involved in the fact of personal innocency in this case; for there lies the basis of our moral judgment about it. It means that this peaceful citizen has complied with the prohibitory laws of his country, in refraining from all injury to others’ lives. But a law, sustained by sanction, is of the nature of a covenant with the citizens. The man who has actually kept the law has thereby earned his covenanted title to immunity. This is what this man means, by claiming his innocency. He has been invested by the covenant of the law itself, with this title to immunity, before the putative murder was committed, and he can now be righteously divested of this title only by his own transgression. To impute to this man now, the guilt of peccatum alienum, divests him of this pre-existent righteous title to immunity. There is the impregnable ground upon which he will resist the charge.

Now, let us represent imputation as the Scriptures do, and the sinner fallen in Adam has no such argument to use. He does not approach the judicial issue clothed with a pre-existing, personal title to favor, derived from a previous, personal rectitude under a covenant of works. For, previous to his condemnation in Adam, he has no personal, innocent existence, not for one moment, not even in any correct order of thought; for he has had no actual existence at all. He enters existence depraved, as he enters it guilty; he enters it guilty as he enters it depraved. This is the amount of his federal union with Adam; that the offspring shall have, ab initio, the same legal status and moral nature, which his head determined for himself, by his acts while under probation. This statement is strictly correspondent to the facts revealed and experienced. And it has this great advantage, that it leaves the sinner, fallen in Adam, no pretext to complain that he has been stripped of any just personal title to immunity, by thus bringing him under putative guilt. For he had no such personal title to be stripped of, seeing he had no personal existence at all, prior to the depravity and guilt. This dispensation of God, then, remains unique, without any parallel in any human jurisprudence. It is solemn, mysterious, awful; but it is placed where it is impossible to convict it of injustice on God’s part. That His exercise of His sovereignty in this strange dispensation is holy, righteous, benevolent, and wise, we have this sufficient proof; that He has given His own Son, in free grace, to repair the mischiefs which human sin causes under the case. Let us remember, that the covenant of paradise was liberal, equitable, and splendidly beneficent in its own character. Its failure was exclusively man’s and Satan’s fault. God has not been the efficient of any man’s sin or depravation, but only the permissive Disposer: the only efficients of both evils have been men and their spiritual seducers. In the great, gospel Remedy, God is real Efficient.

12. That one’s view of original sin will be decisive of his whole system of theology, is obvious from the familiar truth; that the remedy is determined by the disease. As is the diagnosis, so will be the medical treatment. If the Pelagian view of human nature prevails, the corresponding view of its regeneration must prevail. Thus, faith, repentance, and the other essential graces of the pew life, will be traced to the human will as their source. Then, the office-work of the Spirit will be degraded; and the Socinian result, which denies His personality will be natural. The analysis of Nestorianism will show us also, how the same view of human nature and of free-agency, will modify the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, preparing the way for. a belief in a merely human Christ.

But if the scriptural doctrines of native depravity and federal representation be firmly held, then there will follow, as reasonable corollaries, all the points of the Calvinistic, or Augustinian scheme, supernatural regeneration, unconditional election, perseverance in grace, divinity of Christ, and personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost.

Robert L. Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1972), 340-34. [Some spelling Americanized; some reformatting, footnote values modernized, marginal sub-headers cited inline; footnote content original, italics original, and underlining mine.]


1That the drift of the scheme makes the infant soul initially pure, may be seen from Hodge on Rom. v: 13. Theol. vol. 2, pp. 210, 203. Thornwell, vol. 1, pp. 346,. 34.7, 349. Chalmers’ Theo. Institutes, vol. i, pp. 485 and 497.

2See Hodge’s Theol. vol. 2, p. 196. Turrettin, Loc. ix, Qu. 9.

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6 comments so far



If God cannot do it ALL…then He would really wouldn’t be much of a God. And we would become little gods unto ourselves. Which. in fact, is what we try to do anyway.

Thanks, very much, David.

December 14th, 2012 at 6:02 am

Would you mind elaborating on your comment? God is the ultimate cause of all things, but he uses second causes, namely human agents. So for example, God does not believe for me. I believe.
Thanks for stopping by,

December 14th, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Sure, David.

We are in bondage to sin, and cannot free ourselves. We will not to. We will to sin. We don’t stop sinning because we don’t want to. We want what we want. Idolatry is what we do.

But through it all He has decided to save some.

“Faith is a gift of God”. “No one can come to the Father except those whom He has drawn” (compelled is the more accurate translation).

If we believe, then God gets ALL the credit ( “no one seeks for God”)…if we do not, then we get ALL the blame.

That’s the picture that the Bible paints about it.

Thanks, David.

December 15th, 2012 at 7:48 am

Okay I see now what you are saying. I don’t disagree with anything you say so. I liked Dabney’s point that one can have mediate imputation, but in such a way that its not simply inheriting a sickness as per Wesleyanism, which is only part of the truth.

Thanks for the clarification,

December 17th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I’m not sure I understand all that Dabney is saying here, but at least a key link seems to be this: “But now, I ask, was Adam’s depravity solely a penal consequence of his first transgression? Surely not; for unless a depraved motive had prompted his act, it would not have carried guilt.”

I rather prefer this view from an older divine: “Most probable it is that though Adam had sinned, yet by that one act of disobedience he would not utterly have lost the image of God, had it not been taken away from him according to the terms of the Covenant of Works. It was rather forfeited by law than destroyed by the contrariety of sin. So that, it is only upon the account of the covenant that both his nature and the nature of his posterity were corrupted by that first transgression.” (Ezekiel Hopkins, “Doctrine of the Two Covenants”).

December 21st, 2012 at 12:01 pm

By the way, thanks for the post. It was very interesting…. I like your site.

December 21st, 2012 at 12:03 pm

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