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and in favor of the total dependence of the Christian upon the Saviour and his atoning merits, instead of his own works, for his acceptance, need not be sought and is not required.
Ve have found that the entire life of the Christian must be a life of strict dependence upon the merits of Christ; and that the moment he should be judged by the character of his own acts, compared with the rigor of divine justice, he would be condemned without mercy. All that Wesley asserts, in the following evangelical lines, is therefore strictly true of every soul:
“Every moment, Lord, I need
The merit of thy death.”. Of course this must include the state in which sanctification is incomplete. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Not "to regulate our moral powers,” but “to cleanse us.” And, “if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Thus we think it fully appears, that the inference of the fact of perfect legal obedience from the immutable claims of the law is a non sequitur.
We now enter upon the direct question :-Is Christian perfection Adamic perfection ? And if not, what is it? And we claim that the controversy is now reduced to comparatively narrow limits. We have removed one by one the great pillars upon which the author's theory rests. He depended upon psychology to prove that the Adamic state was quite imperfect, but it proved no such thing. It became clear, upon examination, that his conclusions were based upon imperfect analysis, and his processes conducted by mistaken analogies: that the only sources of truth upon the subject were the perfections of God and the Holy Scriptures; and that these formed the conclusion of man's finished physical and mental (including moral) perfection.
He invoked the spirit of philosophy to prove upon Adam, previous to his fall," the conscious desire to seek gratification in a forbidden object,”—such desires as we now sometimes have; but there was no response. It was found that these desires could not coexist with perfect purity.
He sought psychologically to develop a depravity that implied no inward corruption, and that consisted only in the derangement of powers still the same as before the fall, resulting from the absence of love to God, and hence requiring no destruction of inward sin to restore the soul to its pristine state; but there were the stubborn
facts of a totally depraved life, incontestibly indicating a lotally depraved mind; there was the universal failure to love God, arguing, conclusively, the universal sinfulness from which it sprang.
And then he seized upon a glorious truth—the unchangeable character of the law-(in the support of which, however, he found no room for “our psychology")—which it seemed must surely imply Adamic perfection; but no such conclusion would follow his premises. The Scriptures would insert, as utterly indispensable, the blood of Jesus between the best actions of men and the rigorous claims of the law; and hence this strong reliance failed to uphold the new philosophical system. Other minor arguments there are, in considerable numbers, scattered through the book, which we deem it unnecessary to examine in this review. The following reasons for denying Adamic perfection, under the gospel, will, we think, properly close this discussion :
1. Adam was a perfect man. A perfect man must be one whose body and soul are right, compared with a perfect standard, as it exists in the mind of the Deity. He knows what is right; and that knowledge is his law. From his infinite knowledge he must compare every fact of man with perfect truth. And first, in regard to the character of body and mind: he knows what ought to exist in them. He knows what every organ and tissue of a human body ought to be; and this knowledge is, of course, the standard by which he would judge of the physical powers of Adam. And we claim that, by the test of this law, they were perfect. The proof, as we have before seen, is the fact that he made them just as they were. Now had they, in any sense, deteriorated from the time when they left his forming hand, they must still have been compared with that perfect standard, and would have been imperfect. But there could have been no deteriorating cause operating upon the constitution of man previous to the fall. There was perfect health in a sinless state. We can conceive of the law of progress and development in full force at that period, though we cannot of the action of disorder and decay.
Mental character must have been compared with the same infallible standard. The knowledge of what it ought to be, was complete in God; and that was his law. This required perfection in the power of intelligence, the power of thought, the power of reasoning, the power of feeling, and the power of determining. It was the same, whether these powers were appropriated to natural or moral subjects. Had they been less in kind than God knew they ought to be, they would have been imperfect. But could God have made them so? No one would admit it. The power of knowing
the right, of choosing the right, and of doing the right, was, therefore, certainly perfect; or, in other words, exactly what God knew it ought to be. And the capability of indefinite mental progression must have been complete also, compared with the same law. So far we can see no room for cavil.
Next, as to the use of these powers. Here we are compelled, by our starting point, which is the character of God, to set up the same claim. What may have been the character and extent of physical action and development, we do not now know. But it is certain that if there had been any abuse of the physical laws, such abuse would have been sin. God knew what ought to be the action of every muscle in the body, the function of every organ. The slightest variation from this standard would, of course, have been a physical wrong, and condemned by the knowledge of God. This knowledge, or what God knew to be right, must have been the law to which man was responsible for the use of his body. To assert that this law was violated would be to predicate sin of a sinless state which is impossible.
Nor could there have been any perversion of mental powers in this perfect state. The ability to know was brought into action where and as God knew it ought to be. The acquisition of intelligence from perception, consciousness, and reason, must have been exceedingly rapid. How rapid we cannot tell; but God's law was its literal standard. Thought was always pure, always right, as to the character, subjects, and extent of it. Had it varied in any of these respects, from what God knew it should be, it would have been sin against that faultless law. The sensibilities were exactly what they were expected and required to be. Every emotion, every desire, reached the standard of immaculate holiness. The same principle secured the correct determination of the will.
Thus, in character and conduct, Adam was a perfect man. Not merely "morally perfect,” as our author has claimed, but physically and mentally, in precisely the same sense compared with the same standard—the knowledge of God as to what he ought to be. This is Adamic perfection.
And we now inquire, Are there any such perfect men? This is a question of fact; but one which every person is able satisfactorily to answer. The Scriptures aid us in this judgment. “We are fools for Christ's sake; but ye are wise in Christ : we are weak; but ye are strong: ye are honorable ; but we are despised," &c. * My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “For when I am weak then am I strong.” “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” How, we ask, would these expressions have suited the condition of Adam
and Eve before the fall ? “We are weak,” “perfect in weakness," “ when I am weak," "sorrowful," and the like. No physical or mental “weakness” was true of them; and hence a sense of it would have been impossible. But here are Paul and his associates, among the most eminent and perfect of Christians, realizing and confessing the weakness of poor human nature in themselves, and more than intimating their power as Christians, or, in other words, the extent to which they appropriated, by faith, the power of Christ, depended upon their true sense of it; while others, of most defective Christianity, imagined they were strong. With his eye upon his own imperfections, compared with the stern law of God, and also upon Christ, who strengthened him, Paul could consistently say, "Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in disfresses, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying : ye have compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you : for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing." Surely Adam never could have said this.
But further; upon the question of fact, experience and observation are decisive. No individual has anything more than to know himself to be aware that he is a very imperfect man. Those who have deepest understanding of the facts of their own hearts, have the most overwhelming sense of their own utter unworthiness; and that even compared with their own knowledge of the intended and required character and destiny of man. And if so in the light of what they know, how must it be in the light of what God knows they ought to be? Sometimes indeed fancy has arrayed a human being in the garb of complete perfection; but, at near approach, the vision has always vanished. Bodily condition is below the standard of divine formation, showing, at every point, with more or less distinctness, depending upon the truthfulness of the view, the sad effects of the fall. Nor can its practical use be vindicated by the law, as it has always and invariably existed in the mind of the Deity. It neither moves so truly nor so briskly as it should, to fulfill its Maker's high behests. The soul is clogged by its dull mortality, and enfeebled by its relation to a long line of degenerate ancestry. Its discriminations often fail; its impulsions are comparatively weak; and its retributions often untrue. The relations it holds to God and man are but obscurely perceived, and the duties they demand frequently unknown till it is too late to perform them. Ah! these are very imperfect bodies-imperfect minds.
2. Adam had no need of a Mediator. His intercourse was direct with God. He asked for nothing through the name of another, or for the sake of another. His own perfect rectitude was the ground and the condition of his full and instant gratification, whether his wants were of physical or spiritual origin. The fact that no Mediator was provided, is the proof. And can our author, can any man, claim this degree of excellence for any Christian? If a servant of Christ were as perfect as Adam, he must have the same rights, and be met with divine supplies upon the same terms. The laws of divine communication are immutable. Admitting the necessity of atonement for the forgiveness of sins, the soul, brought into precisely the same state of perfection with Adam, would sustain the same relation to God, and of course have no more need of the name of Christ than he. Upon this theory you should therefore never hear a perfect Christian pray, 0, Lord, bless me for Christ's sake; hear and answer me for Christ's sake ; save me for Christ's sake! for in perfect legal Adamic obedience he is already blessed-he is heard, and answered, and saved on his own account, or by virtue of fulfilling the law.
But no Christians approach God thus. Their first experience is a view of their need of Christ, and an act of sincere dependence upon him; and their mature experience is an utter renunciation of self, and a total reliance upon Christ for everything and at every moment. Observe the life of such a man; listen to his prayers, and see the all-absorbing charm of his soul. O it is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Nay, feel the power of perfect faith, and drink perpetually from the living fountain of purity, and see how totally you will accord with the sentiment of the apostle, “ Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me;" or with the dying exclamation of the sainted Wesley,
“I the chief of sinners am ;
But Jesus died for me." The actual intervention and indispensable necessity of a Mediator to give the best of men audience with the Deity, to supply all their deficiencies by the merit of his blood, and plead for them before the throne, without ceasing, therefore proves incontestibly that theirs is not Adamic perfection.
Other arguments there are in proof of this great truth ; but, for the purposes of this review, they are not necessary, and hence will be omitted.
Now a brief attention to the question, What perfection is attainable in this life? We answer, Christian perfection; or, that which