Before his fall, Adam had not the power to believe, because there was no necessity for faith; God, therefore, could not require faith from him after the fall.
Unless I was well acquainted with the disposition of certain persons, I could have taken a solemn oath, that the ascription of this article to me, as the words now stand, is an act which is attributed to them through calumny. Can I be of opinion that |before his fall Adam had not the power to believe; |and, forsooth, on this account, |because there was no necessity for faith.| Who is unacquainted with that expression of the apostle? |He who approaches to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.| I do not think, that there is a single Mahometan or Jew who dare make any such assertion as this article contains. The man who will affirm it, must be ignorant of the nature of faith in its universal acceptation. But who is able to love, fear, worship, honour and obey God, without faith, that is the principle and foundation of all those acts which can be performed to God according to his will?
This calumny against me is audacious and foolish. But I think, it was the wish of its inventors to have added the words, |the power to believe in Christ;| and indeed they ought to have made this addition. Yet perhaps some one is insane enough to say, that |all faith in God is faith in Christ.| being inclined to such persuasion by the argument |that there is now no true faith in God, which is not faith in Christ.| I say therefore, I affirm and assert, I profess and teach, |that, before his fall, Adam had not the power to believe in Christ, because faith in Christ was not then necessary; and that God therefore could not require this faith from him after the fall:| That is to say, God could not require it on this account, |because Adam had lost that power of believing by his own fault,| which is the opinion of those who charge me with the doctrine of this article. But God could have required it, because he was prepared, to bestow those gracious aids which were necessary and sufficient for believing in Christ, and therefore to bestow faith itself in Christ.
But since I here confine myself to a simple denial, the proof of these three things is incumbent upon the brethren who affirm them. (1.) The Proposition, (2.) The Reason added, and (3.) The Conclusion deduced from it. The PROPOSITION is this:
|Before his fall, Adam had the power to believe in Christ.|
The REASON is, |because this faith was necessary for him.| The CONCLUSION is, |Therefore God could of right demand this faith from him after the fall.|
1. A certain learned man endeavours to prove the PROPOSITION, which he thus enunciates. |Before his fall, Adam had an implanted power to believe the Gospel,| that is |on the hypothesis of the Gospel;| or, as I interpret it, |If the Gospel had been announced to him.| The argument which this learned man employs in proof is, |Because Adam did not labour under blindness of mind, hardness of heart, or perturbation of the passions; (which are the internal causes of an incapacity to believe;) but he possessed a lucid mind, and an upright will and affections, and, if the Gospel of God had been announced to him, he was able clearly to perceive and approve its truth, and with his heart to embrace its benefits.|
2. I do not suppose any one will disapprove of the REASON which they assign, and therefore I do not require a proof of it from them; yet I wish the following suggestions to be well considered, if faith, in Christ was not necessary for Adam, to what purpose was the power of believing in Christ conferred upon him?
3. But the necessity of proving the CONCLUSION is incumbent on our brethren, because they express it themselves in those terms, and indeed with a reason added to it, |Because Adam by his own fault through sin lost that power.| Out of respect to the person, I will abstain from a confutation of this argument; not because I account it incapable of a satisfactory refutation, which, I hope, will in due time make its appearance.
I will now produce a few arguments in proof of my opinion.
FIRST. With regard to the Proposition, I prove, |that, before his fall, Adam did not possess the power to believe in Christ.| (1.) Because such a belief would have been futile. For there was no necessity, no utility in believing in Christ. But nature makes nothing in vain; much less does God. (2.) Because, prior to his sin, God could not require of him faith in Christ. For Faith in Christ is faith in Him as a saviour from sins; he therefore, who will believe in Christ ought to believe that he is a sinner. But, before Adam had committed any offense, this would have been a false belief. Therefore, in commanding Adam to believe in Christ, God would have commanded him to believe a falsehood. That power, then, was not capable of being produced into an act, and is on the same account useless. (3.) Faith in Christ belongs to a new creation, which is effected by Christ, in his capacity of a Mediator between sinners and God. This is the reason why He is called |the Second Adam,| and |the New Man.| It is not, therefore, matter of wonder, that the capability of believing in Christ was not bestowed on man by virtue of the first creation. (4.) Faith in Christ is prescribed in the Gospel. But the Law and the Gospel are so far opposed to each other in the Scriptures, that a man cannot be saved by both of them at the same time; but if he be saved by the Law, he will not require to be saved by the Gospel; if he must be saved by the Gospel, then it would not be possible for him to be saved by the Law. God willed to treat with Adam, and actually did treat with him, in his primeval state, before he had sinned, according to the tenor of the legal covenant. What cause, therefore, can be devised, why God, in addition to the power of believing in Himself according to the Law, should likewise have bestowed on Adam the power of believing the Gospel and in Christ? If our brethren say, |that this power was one and the same,| I will grant it, when the word |power| is taken in its most general notion, and according to its most remote application -- that of the power of understanding and volition, and also the knowledge of common things and of all notions impressed on the mind. But I shall deny the correctness of their observation, if the word |power| is received as signifying any other thing than what is here specified. For that wisdom of God which is revealed in the Gospel excels, by many degrees, the wisdom which was manifested by the creation of the world and in the law.
SECONDLY. With regard to the reason, |Because there was no necessity for Adam in his primitive condition to believe in Christ.| No one will refute this argument, unless by asserting, that God infused a power into man, which was of no service, and which could be of none whatever, except when man is reduced to that state into which God himself forbids him to fall, and into which he cannot fall but through the transgression of the Divine command. But I must here be understood as always speaking about a power to believe the Gospel and in Christ, as distinct from a power of believing in God according to the legal prescript.
THIRDLY. With regard to what belongs to the Conclusion which is to be deduced from the preceding, I will burden it only with one absurdity. If matters be as they have stated them, |that man in his primeval state possessed a power to believe in Christ,| when no necessity existed for the exercise of such faith in Christ; and if this power was withdrawn from him after the fall, when it began to be really necessary for him; such a dispensation of God has been very marvelous, and completely opposed to the Divine wisdom and goodness, the province of which consists in making provision about things necessary for those who live under the government and care of these attributes.
I desist from adding any more; because the absurdity of this dogma will not easily obtain credit with such persons as have learned to form a judgment from the Scriptures, and not from prejudices previously imbibed. I will only subjoin, that this dogma never obtained in the church of Christ, nor has it ever been accounted an article relating to faith.