Adrien Jean Quentin Beuchot.

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ness, and proceed to a consideration of the second, viz. that of an in-
herited sinful noftffe.

And here we are prompted to inquire, first of all, what is intended
by a sinful nature. If it means nothing more than internal tinfid
affedihne^ which are natmul to us^ we will not object, except to the
terms. But if it means something in the very state and constitution
of the soul, something back of, and distinct from, sinful affections,
and out of which such afiections grow ; in this sense of the words in
question, we caimot account fisr the sin of infants, by supposing them
to possess a sinAil nature. A nature, in this sense, cannot, as it seems

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to us, be sinfuL It is not a thing of which rin or holinesB can be

This is not the place to go into a prolonged discassion of the vexed
Question as to the nature of sin. Suffice it to say, that the advocates
of a sinful natare, in the sense explained, present as with two enUrtlif
diferent kinds of tin; original and actual, the sin of nature and of
practice. Whereas the Bible speaks of only one kind of sin. ^ Sin,**
says the Apostle John, ^ is the trantgrettion of the law.** And as
though this alone were not enough, he adds : ^ Whosoever eommiUMk
sin, transgresseth also the law." (1 John 8: 4.)

Again ; the advocates of a sinful nature, in the sense explained,
present us with a kind of sin, which can with no propriety be made
the subject of prohibition. Why prohibit that whidi belotigs to our
very nature, and of which we cannot rid ourselves, if we would ?

Still again ; we have here a kind of sin (if sin it be) of which God
alone is the responsible aiiMor. Who is the author of it, if he is not ?
Certainly, we have had no concern in originating it, more than in
originating any other part of our nature, or our very souls.

Further ; we have here a kind of sin (if it be sin) for which we
are not to be called to an account in the day of judgment Ood wiH
bring every work into judgment. Men will be rewarded or punished
in the other world, not for their natures, but fer their deeds.

In short, this supposed fbrm of sin, which attaches to our natures,
and not to our exercises, of which we are not the actorsy but the ptu-
$ive iubjeeUy is properly no sin at alL It is an abuse of the term to
call it sin. The Bible presents us with no such form of sin as this.

We reject, then, the second theory as to the sin of infants, and are
brought to a consideration of the third, vis. that the infant has active
moral affections from the first, and that these are selfish and sinful.

And what objection is there to this supposition ? If the infant is
a human being, then it has a human soul, an intelligent, immortal
soul, a soul possessed of all the faculties requisite to moral agency ;
and the presumption is, that these faculties are aetiv. It is not too
much to say, indeed, that we know they are active.

According to the most approved metaphysicians, the three great
departments of the human mind are the iwkUetty undhiHties and wiU;
and we know that the infant possesses all these, and that they are
acHv€y from the first. As before remarked, the infant begins to receive
ideas from the outer world, the moment it enters it ; which shows that
the inteUeet is active. These ideas or impressions awaken feeling,
whidi is almost immediately manifested, in one way or another.

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IMt.] Th$ Okarach^ o/AftmU, 757

Thk shows that the mmUlkie$ are aetire. Very shortly, too, the
masoles, the limbs begin to mote, not as, ante partum, from the
life of the mother, but from the child's own uparaUj individual
Ufa ; which shows that the vfiU is active. Here now is a haman sonlf
having all the facolties, the susceptibilities of a soul, and each of them
in an active state. What objection, then, to the supposition, that this
soul has internal exercises and affections, and that these may be

Our belief is, that in the conceptions ordinarilj entertained as to
the capacities of infant children, we do them great injustice. They
have not, indeed, sufllcient knowledge to warrant the supposition that
tiiey are preezistent spirits from some other world. But their capa^
cities are much more vigorous and acdve than we are wont to imag-
ine. It cannot be doubted, that the child of ordinary capacity receives
more new ideas, during the first year of his life, than in any subse*
quentyear. It becomes fkmilinr with all surrounding objects. It
acquires, among a thousand other things, the elements of a ]angui^[;e.
If it cannot speak (as many can) its mother tongue, it can understand
it, in all its simpler and more common uses. And yet it has been
made a question, whether Httle children have souls, whether they
have any intelligenoe at all, whether they are capable of knowing
anything. We would as soon doubt whether the man who raises
such a question, has a soul, as whether the child has of whom he

But it will be said that sin is the transgression of a known law ;
and, as the infant has no knowledge of Qod or his law, therefore, it
is incapable of sinning. ^ Sin," according to the Scriptures, ^ is the
transgression of the law," not of a known law ; though in a qualified
sense, it may be admitted that the latter is true. But how much is
meant, when it is said that sin is a transgression of a knoitn law?
Must the child, before it can sin, be old enough to be instructed as to
the existence and government of God, and the claims of his law ?
Then many adult persons cannot sin. On this ground, the whole
class of uneducated deaf-mutes would be incapable of sinning ; and
the same may be said of a large proportion of the heathen. These
have never been instructed as to God or his kw, and have no proper
conceptions of either. It will not be pretended, therefore, that sin is
the transgression of known law, in such a sense as this.

Every human bemg may be sapposed to have, in the language of
Paul, ^ the law of God written <m the heart" (Bom. 2; 15). In other
words, every human being has the ca^pandij €i moral perception, and

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has some degree of each perception, eome knowledge of the right, in
diatioction from the wrong. This the heathen have. This also has
the deaf-mute. This the child has very early, and may kave^ for
anght we know to the contrary, from the first. AVhy may it not as
easily and as early perceive the differenoe beM?een right and wrong, as
that between different colors, or sounds ? Of this law written on the
heart of every human being, sin is a transgression ; and if infants are
human beings, they are capable of it. Yea, more than this, they are
chargeable with it ; for we have before proved that they are sinners.

Selfishness, in a human being, is always sin. This proposition is
indubitable. And of this hateful affection, children are as capable in
infancy, as they ever are. Indeed, they begin to manifest their self-
ishness, and various other forms of sin, as soon as they exliibit any-
thing, almost as soon as they are bom. How long do children ordi-
narily live, before they begin to manifest peevishness, fretfulness,
impatience, or stubborn will, resistance to parental authority, and
other like forms of wickedness ?

But we read of some in the Bible, it is said, who '< had no knowl-
edge between good and eviL" Such persons, surely, could not sin.
Moses does indeed say, in a single instance : '' Your children which,
in that day, had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall in-
herit the land, and unto them will I give it" (Deut. 1: 39.) But
does Moses mean to represent these children as without the faculties
of moral agents ; without any character, good or bad ; as having little
more than an animal existence ? We do not so understand the pas-
sage. Moses here adopts a very common description of little chil-
dren, whose knowledge is limited, and who have had no positive
instruction respecting God or his law. Of such children it may be
said, in a qualified sense, that they ^' have no knowledge between
good and evil,** comparatively none ; while yet they may " have the
law written on the heart,^ and may habitually transgress it. Does
any one doubt, that the children, in that congregation which came
out of Egypt, were selfish beings ; or that selfishness, in a human
heart, is always sin ?

We have now shown that infant children have a moral and sinful
character, and on what grounds they are to be regarded as possessing
such a character ; not that they come into the world sinners from
some preexistent state ; nor that they have a sinful nature, but no
actual sin. lliey are sinners, because they are selfish creatures.
They have the germs, the buddings, the beginnings of selfishness from
the first ; and all selfishness is sin.

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1852.] Tht CharacUr of hifcrnU. 769

And now if any one ask us^ how such infants are to be saved, we
answer: In much the same manner as adults. The adult has a sinful,
selfish heart, which must be changed by the Holy Spirit, if he is ever
saved ; and so has the infant The adult must be forgiven through
the atonement of Christy and so must the infant Both are saved,
if saved at all, through the washing of regeneration, and the sprink-
ling of atoning blood.

Those who regard the infant mind as disordered on account of the
fall, but not sinful, believe that the Holy Spirit comes into it, and
corrects its disorders, and they call this correction regeneration.
But it is no regeneration, in the Gospel sense. B^eneration is a
change of hearij of the morcU affeoUonSy from sin to holiness. But
the infant, according to the supposition, has no moral affections to be
changed. It has no sinful heart to be renewed. It is as incapa-
ble of regeneration, in the proper sense of the term, as a brute. And
as to its indebtedness to Christ for the forgiveness of sins, this too is
impossible ; because it has no sins to be forgiven.

Those who hold to the sin of nature, without actual sin, believe
that the blood of atonement is in some way applied for the cleansing
of this nature, after which the subject is prepared for heaven. But
we see no adaptedness in the atonement to effect such a result, nor is
it likely that it was ever efiected. What is the atonement ? Not
the payment of a debt, or the washing away of sin, nolene volene.
The atonement is simply SLfoundationy on which sin, when forsaken,
can be forgiven. Of itself, the atonement saves nobody. The blood
of atonement washes away no sin, whether original or actual, whether
in the adult or the infant, until that sin, through the grace of the
Spirit, is repented of and put away.

But it will be asked : If the infant is capable of sinning, is it ca-
pable also of repenting of his sins, so that they may be washed away ?
To this we reply : If the infant has moral affections at all, then these
may be changed, from selfishness to benevolence, from sin to holiness ;
in which case it will have the elemerU of repentance, though not,
perhaps, the precise form of it. It has that which will he repent-
ance, the moment it comes to a sight and sense of its sins. In this
respect, the case of the infant resembles that of a pious heathen.
We can conceive of a heathen, who may be saved by Christ, though
he has never heard of him, and, of course, has never exercised that
form of holiness which we call faith. But if he is truly pious, he
has the element of faith, though not the form. He has that which
will be faith, the moment he comes where his Saviour is. And so of

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740 I%$ COkafaekr of JB^ohU. [Oot^

the renewed iafant. Iti affeotiooi being changed firom sin to holi*
ness, he hai now the element of aU holinets. And his holiness will
assume the different forms of repentance, faith, submission, lore^
whencTer the appropriate objects of these scTeral graces are pre^
sented to its mind.

It is a recommendation of the view here taken as to the character
and prospects of infants, that it places them among the human raoa^
and makes the ground oi their salvation the same as that of the rest
of mankind. If they are sared at all, as we hope and trust thej are,
they are saved, like other sinners, on the ground of the G^peL
Thej are renewed, pardoned, adopted into the family of Qod, and
become his children. And when they are taken up to heaven, they
will stand there, not on the ground of their own merits, neither as
beings whose disorders have been corrected, but who have nought to
be forgiven. They will stand up in the midst of the ransomed throng,
and unite with them in singing : ^ Thou art worthy to take the book^
and to open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain, and hast redeewtsd
9$ to God by iky bloody out of every kindred and tongue and people
and nation."

There is yet another advantage of the view we have taken. It
removes all embarrassment as to the Hme when infont chiMren begia
to act for themselves, and holds out the strongest inducements to pa-'
rental fidelity. The question iq frequently asked : When do children
begin to be moral agents, to act for themselves, and to be guilty of
actual sin ? On the theories we reject, these are impracticable qucjfi-
tions. They never have been answered, and never can be. But on
the theory we propose, there is no difficohy. The child begins to be
a moral agent, to act for himself, and to commit sin, from the first
It receives its soul, as Adam did his, with the first breath of bfe,
and sets up for itself, a moral agent, as soon as it is bom. It§
Capacities are indeed feeble, its exercises feeble, and its sin of smaS
account, compared with what it will be^ if persisted in, in future years s^
still, it is selfishness, it is sin, it is of the same hateful nature as other
sin, and, if left unrestrained and unbroken, will soon branch forth into
the most frightful forms of wickedness.

And now if it be asked : How long may this little one's sahratioD
be hoped for, ca an infant^ in case it is removed by death, — we
answer : its salvation is not to be looked for at all, except as it is re-'
Hewed by the Holy Spirit, and washed in the atoning blood of Christ^
So kmg as the infant is incapable of parental iostraction, it may b#
hoped that the Spirit will do for it, wUhmt sock instruction, wha^

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1852.] Alleged DisoffrBement between Paul and Jamee. 761

later in life, it could only be expected to do with it And as soon as
the period of instrnction arrives, and arrive it will very soon, if par-
ents arc faithful to the souls of their children, they have abundant
reason to hope that, living or dying, God will bless them with his

Let them, then, commence early, and pursue assiduously, the work
which €rod has given them to do. From the first, their children
should be the objects of earnest prayer. From the first, they should
be consecrated and devoted to the Lord. And as the infant mind
begins to open, to receive impressions from parental lips, let their
^ doctrine drop as the rain, and distil as the dew ; as the small rain
upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." For
although, as we said, so long as the child is incapable of parentid in-
struction, the Spirit may be relied upon to bestow his blessing with-
out it ; yet the Holy Spirit will never wink at parental nnfaithfulness.
He will not tolerate it, or connive at it He will not make himself,
in this way, the minister of sin. Parents who carelessly neglect their
duties to their children, and trust to the Spirit for their conversion,
will probably be disappointed. It will be no more than jusHce, if
they should be.

It will be seen, then, how closely this subject urges upon all par-
ents to be faithful. Let them do their work, and the Spirit wUl do
his. But let them neglect their appropriate work, as parents, and
trifle with their obligations, and there is little hope either for thdr
children or themselves.


By E. P. Barrows, Jr., Prof. Sacred Literature in Western Reserro College.

It is not because we believe that the mass of Protestant readers
find serious difficulty in reconciling the language of James respecting
justification with that of Paul, that we devote an article to the subject
of the alleged discrepancies between these two inspired writers*

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768 AUeged Di$&j /nem m U hetwe m Pmd and Jatkn. [Oct.

On the oontrarj, H has ever been to us a trefghty argometit for their
«abstaiiiial harmotij, that plain, unsophisticated men, who take the
whole Scriptures lor their mle of fioith and practice, feel no real con-
tradietion between the teachings of Panl and JasMs. For this
ease &Us nnder the common principles of interpretation, by which
every man of good sense, though he may never hate stated them
to himself in a scientific form, or have heard them so stated by others,
is, nevertheless, oonstantly guided in ascertaining the true import of
an autiior's words. When men write, as did Panl and James, for
the coounon mind, the meaning wfat^ the common mind naturally
gathers ^m their language^ may be lawfully received as the true
meaning* An exception may be, indeed, allowed in the case where
aUttsioos to ancient costoma, institiitions, or modes of thought, require
the light of learned research to place the modem in the etB/d position
of the ancient reader. But the present is not such a case^ On the
subject of justification the New Testament is its own interpreter, and
needs not for its illustration the light of archaeological lore. JusUy,
thea, may we adduce the fact that the great body of readers have never
found serious difficulty in bringing the doctrines of Paul and James into
harmony with each other, in evidence of their substantial agreement

W^ think, n ev er theless , that aa iavestigation of the allied dis-
agreement between these twe writers will be pn^table, as ftimishing
an occasion for ilkMtrating some important principles of ieterpreta-
tion ; and, we would add, for showing how learned critics may dwell
upon difierenoes in the mode of apprehending, exhibiting or applyitig
the self-same truth, until these difierenoes grow, in their view, into
irreconcilable contradictions of doctrine.

We begin with a statement of the points on which it is conceded
that there is no contradiction between the views of James and

1. Both teach that true faith is e$$eniialkf connected with good
worktj 90 thai an alleged faith that is without good works, is vain, and
cannot avail to jusHficaHon before Ood

This idea of faith without works James illustrates by two simili-
tudes. The first is that of a man who shall say to the hungry and
naked : <' Depart in peace : be ye warmed and filled," but shall refuse
to give << those things which are needful to the body." Here it is
manifest that he means to exhibit an empty and tmyW fiuth. For
the love with whioh he compares it, being unaccompanied by deedh
of mercy, is an empty and unreal love — a love which consists in
word and in tongue only, not in deed and in truth.

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M5S.] AUeged I)Mafre0nmU hkffem I\»id and Jim$i^ 76&

The odier simUkode la drawn from the faidi of devilfl. ^Thoa
bolievest that there is one God; Ihon doeet wdl: Ike derik aba be^
Ueve, and tremble.** In this he exhibits a iheartiicai fhith nneon*
neeted with love and obedience. The faith of devils does^ indeed^
differ from the dead faith set forth hj the first similitode. It is, in a
oertain sense, real, for it produees trembling. Bat, since it is noi
coBAected with love and good woriss, it agrees with the former kind
ot faith in the main point of being Afake^ and not a true fiuth.

These two comparisons, taken together, show that, in the mind of
Jame» << faith without works" is a sporiooe faith, and not that whieb
the Gospel demands.

It would be wasting words to show that to such a spmiovs fidtk
the Apostle Paul would denj, with as much rehemenoe as Jamesy
all saving ^oacj. His view of faith makes it necessarilj operative
in good works ; and of those who, profbssing to hold the doctrine oB
ik» cross, continue in the iH>»ctice of sin, he aftrms peremptorily that
Ihej "^ shall net inherit the kingd<Nn. of God." (1 Cor. 9: 10.)

2. BM tsaeh thai^ they who do rigfOewumH $hatt he Jueiified omA

A proud, self-righteous dependence upon works, as the meritorioM
ground of justificatioB, the Apostle Paul does indeed oembal with all
the vehemence of Scriptural Mrgnmentation. Works performed ia
audi a spirit have, with him, only the outward form of righteousnesa
without its substance ; nay more, they are positively sinful and abomi«
nable in God's sight. To be tmly good) they must be done ia the
spirit of love, and in humble, believing dependence upon GUmI's mercy«
And here there is an entire agreement between him and James.
The Epistle of the latter is throughout thoroughly opposed to the
spirit of self^righteousness. He ia not contendingybr works without
faith, into which pride must of necessity entsi: as an essential elemeaty
but against faith without works. With him, not less thaa with tte
Apostle of the Gentiles, the life of a Christian is cast in the^ mould
of constant prayerftil dependence upon God. In proof of this let as
look for a moment at a single passage of his Epistle. ^ If any of yon
lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and
upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith,
nothing wavering. For he thiU wavereth i» like a wa^e of the seit
driven with th# wiad mid. tossed Por let not ii^ mm^ think tba^ bo
sbaUraceive aagttfaiBg of the LoaA A d#ubte-miaded maoc'^-^dfe
vided between fwlii and nnbeUefi— <^ia unstable in att. his w^
(1:«— 8.)

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76^ Jlkged lX$agr €em m U ieiufem Pond and Jama. [Oct*

The tuhfed^iuttier of the prayer here recommended is *^ wisdom,''
which implies io the petitioner a humble, self-distrustful spirit The
farm is that of unwavering faith in God's goodness and liberality ;
and this, again, carries, by necessary implication, the idea that the
petitioner renounces all claim to the gift on the ground of his own
merit The expression, '^ and upbraideth not," presupposes, on the
part of him who offers the prayer, a deep consciousness of his many
infirmities and short-oomings^ and of the just ground which Grod has
to withhold his gifts, or to accompany them with merited reproaches.
The dosing remark, '* a double-minded man is unstable in all his
ways" (which implies the constancy of the man of single-minded
faith), brings to view the influence of such a humble, dependent,
prayerful spirit, or of its opposite, upon the life. Here, then, we
have that life of faith upon which the Apostle Paul insists, though
not in a form so definite and perfectly developed.

Besides the above^ and other similar passagesi where faith is ex-
pressly recognized as the principle of the Christian life, it is to be
further observed that the writer, through the whole progress of the
Epistle, is continually dealing out heavy blows against that spirit of
worldliness and pride which constitutes the very essence of Phari-
seeism, as it was encountered by the Apostle Paul. This is admira-
bly exhibited by Neander in his brief Commentary on the Epistle to
James, in which he shows the entire unity of spirit and aim between
the two writers. To this work we refer the reader, contenting our-
selves with a single extract firom it

** The Pauline view of &ith presupposes the strongly marked distinction
between Law and Gospel^ a doctrinal ^k)6ition oppo^d to legal righteous-
ness, to the merit of one's own works. Opposition to the Jewish tendency
to externals was the precise ground on Which it planted itself; and where
that tendency previdled, a perverted form of this view could as little gain
admission as the view itself

** Bat to resume our question : may not this particular error,''— the fidse
idea of fidth and over-estimation of mere faith, — which James opposes, be
also traced back to the same radical tendency ? Let us only compare what
precedes and what follows the discussion of this topic in the second chapter^
It is preceded (chap, i.) by a rebuke df those who founded an imaginary
claim on the mere hearitag of tlie Word, on the mere knowledge of it, without
holding themselves botind to practiM it ; to which u added the rebuke of a
mere &ncied and seeming serride Of God. What now is this but that very

Online LibraryAdrien Jean Quentin BeuchotThe Bibliotheca sacra and American biblical repository → online text (page 87 of 98)