Imatges de pàgina

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were cold and barren spirits without God for his goodness) to capacity, and destitute of invention, a child in the way he should go," and that others were unable to compare was encouraged by the delighttol hope two ideas together and draw a rational that when he shall “come to be old, conclusion; that some were as desti- he will not depart from it.” tuie of memory as others of invention, I had seen that “a wise son useth I had seen idiots and creditors with his father's instruction and maketh a good memories, and poets and debtors glad father,” therefore I said My with none at all; I had scen souls of son be wise and make my heart glad fire and souls of ice. Seriously, I that I may answer him that reproaches accounted for the poetic imagery of me:" I said to my neighbour “ corDavid in Psalm li. from the depth reci thy son and he shall give thee of his guilt, the strength of his feel- rest, yea he shall give delight unto thy ings, and the radical nature of his soul.” I read Prov. x. 7, that the just penitence, expressed in the figurative man walketh in his integrity, his language of an highly wrought Eastern children are blessed after him,—that imagination.

even a child is known by his I knew that there was nothing to doings whether his work be pure and he found in the sacred records which whether it he right," rer. 11.' I read David possessed to justify the literal Psalm cxxxvii. that “Childreir are an sense of his remark, a sense as contra- heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of dictory to the tenor of his own wri- the womb is his reward.” I knew tings as to reason. I could not there who had said, “Suffer little children fore help rejecting that passage con- to come unto me and forbid them not, sidered as a proof of the universal for of such is the kingdom of heaven." propagation of a radical and corrupt Except ye be converted, and be. moral nature, derived from the first come as little children, ye shall not sinner or the imputation of his guilt see the kingdom of heaven." I thereth all his descendants. I turned over fore began to think that they did not the pages

of revelation till I came " as soon as they were born deserve to Psalm lviii. 3. There I read God's wrath and eternal damnation." that “the wicked are estranged from I now looked around me with the womb, they go astray as soon as pleasure: I thought I had travelled they be born, speaking lies.” This ihrough half my journey, that the passage I had heard freqnently quoted prospect was clearing up, the clouds to prove the universal and original dispersing, light rising out of obscudepravity, of the heart of human rity, the heart-cheering sun began to beings. I could not accept this as a spread around me its life-nourishing proof of it; I knew that new born beams; but a Reverend Gentleman infants had no power to do good or quoted a passage in Jer. xvii. 9, on the evil, that they were incapable of a deceitfulness of the heart: he asserted moral choice, that they were destitute indeed that all who did not believe of the faculty of speech, that they his explanation must be bad men; he were too helpless to go astray, and seemed to glory in the baseness of his that so far from speaking lies, they nature; he told me that the will, the could not speak at all. I was free to conscience, the understanding, all the admit that the children of the wicked powers of the mind, and all the promight be corrupted in early life by pensities of the heart of every inan the bad example of their parents, that under the sun were by nature deceitthey might go astray from nature and ful above all things, and desperately virtue, and thus be estranged from wicked; he added that whoever denied the womb, and I had been often this fact, proved it by the very denial ! grieved to see the direful contagion of I read the passage, and contest. vice spreading itself, like a fatal There I found, Jer. xvii. 1, that “the .plague, infecting the very souls of sin of Judah is written with a pen of youth and childhood. I had seen iron, and with the point of a diamond, with terror lying, deccit, dishonesty, graven upon the table of their hearts, debauchery, villainy, pride, illiberality and upon the horns of the altar." I and hypocrisy, propagated in the saw that the man whose heart departs heart's core of she rising generation, from the Lord and trusts in man shall by the wickedness and folly of parents. be like the heath of the desert, inhabite But I was directed also, (blessed being the parched places of the wilder

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Scriptural Examination of Original Sin.

519 ness, where falls no dew, no former sinned or his parents that lie was born nor latter rain, whose sandy plain blind," but I wondered not at all, at yields no nourishment, produces no

Christ's answer,

Neither hath this green thing, and no seed for the sup- man sinned nor his parents.” I read port of the famished traveller, no of evil thoughts and evil deeds prospring, no purling brook to quench his ceeding out of the heart of man, and thirst, where only the dry and worth- I knew that nothing upon earth beless sand moss, the heath of the sides could produce theni. desert," preserved the semblance of I heard the human heart described, vegetation, like that moss, he shall Matt. xii. 35, as a treasury. “A good never partake of the gentle dew from man out of the good treasure of his heaven, nor of the blessings of the heart bringeth forih good things, and fertile earth, “he shall not see when an evil man out of the evil ireasure good cometh.” I saw that sinners of his heart bringeth forth evil things." were ingenious to deceive themselves I read in the parable of the sower, and others : I saw that the heart of Luke xv. of seed “sown in the good Judah with sin engraved upon it thus ground of an honest and good heart.” must be deeply and desperately wick- I saw the man Jesus, che son of Adam, ed, and that the altars upon which Abraham, Judah, David, Manasseh, sin in its blackest colours was written one of the wickedest tyrants that ever (altars consecrated to idols) “ whilst lived, and traced among his ancestors their children remembered them, and many great sinners, and I was sure their groves by the green trees upon that he derived his nature from his the high hills," where they worship- parents, yet I believed that he was ped Baal and Moloch and the Queen without sin," touched with a feeling of heaven, must be an abomination in of our infirmities, tempted in all the sight of God, “ who searches the points as we are, our brother, partaker heart, and tries the reins, even to give of our flesh and blood. Here a good every man according to his ways, and old lady interrupted me; she said that according to the fruit of his doings.” she was satisfied of the existence of I might err, I was not infallible, my corrupt nature, because infants cry heart might deceive me, but I sought when they are born! Good old lady! evidence, I think I was not influenced If you could be literally born a second either by hope or fear to reject this time, and have all your teeth to cut passage, like the rest that went before over again, you would cry too, but it, as wholly inconclusive testimony they evince passion before they can when produced to witness the univer- speak; yes, they are not blocks of sal, radical, original and moral corrp- marble, they have nerves and feel, rion of huaan nature.

they express their sense of uneasiness, I went on, I opened the New Testa. hunger, cold and pain: blind puppies, ment, I read Christ's Sermon on the too, whine from the same causes; Mount: there I found every thing to but if you cannot distinguish between prove that man was a frail, sinful mor- the natural expression of animal feel. tal, but not a vessel filled by nature to ing, want, and passion, and original the very brim with moral corruption, sin, neither probably do you see the made under the wrath and curse of difference between a sinner and a God. I read of the pure in heart, of fool by nature, an unhappy circumthe merciful, of inherent righteous- stance, which will efiecually prevent ness, of a righteousness that must be us from plunging together into this produced, very far beyond that of the deep subject. Scribes and Pharisees, to fit a man I certainly found nothing in the for the kingdom of heaven. I read of Old Testament to support this docattainable perfection, of a good tree trine; but I am again interrupted. A producing good fruit, and a corrupt philosophical Calvinist, one of the tree evil fruit: I read of doing the rational brethren, who accounts for will of God, and hearing, and doing every thing, came forward with his the sayings of Jesus Christ, that the text, “ He answered and said, verily, wise man built his house upon this no one can bring a clean thing out of rock. I read John ix. of a blind man an unclean," Job xiv. 4, and context. restored to sight by Jesus Christ, and “Certainly not, therefore God will was surprised to hear the disciples not require more of such a creature, asking hin“ whether this man had than he is capable of performing, nor


cause him to suffer more than is out of the Scriptures, he told thçın necessary and salutary.”

“ His days that “ forasmuch as we are the offare determined, the number of his spring of God in whom we live, move, months are with thee, thou hast ap- and have our being, we ought not to pointed his bounds that he cannot think that the Godhead is like unto pass, turn from him that he may gold or silver, or stone graven by art, accomplish as an hireling his day. and men's device, that God overlooked Corrupt nature, he replied, is produced the times of ignorance but now comby natural generation, for all men mandeth all men every where to existed in Adam, and all fell in him. repent.” I thought that if some had So then, may it please your reverence, preached to these Heathen they would moral evil is propagated, like the king's have begun with the total depravity of evil. I thought a fame nourished by human nature, as the cause of all fætid oil, and glimmering in a dirty their idolatry and vices; that they lamp, might kindle a thousand gems would have shewn them the need of a of light, as pure as the flame of an Saviour by teaching their utter helpaltar produced by the lightning of lessness as dead sinners; that they heaven. I had no conception before would have taught them that they had that moral qualities were animal secre- no hearts to understand and obey the tions. I read the four Gospels, not a gospel; and that therefore it was in word nor a hint did I find in them to vain to preach it to them, that such countenance this strange opinion of sinners have no business with it, and corrupt nature, but much, completely that in consequence (the consistency to destroy it. Man is addressed there of these people is complete) they have as a free moral agent, and as no Christ to offer them. accountable being ; his reason and Others more inconsistently would conscience are addressed, his sins are teach them the universal corruption of laid at the door of his inclinations, nature by the fall, and yet spur on “Why do ye not of yourselves judge these dead sinners to faith, repentance, that which is right;"—“ men love and all the moral duties enjoined by darkness rather than light, because Jesus Christ; that, instead of God's their deeds are evil;" " ye will not “winking at" (overlooking) the igcome to me;" every one that doeth norance of these idolaters in times evil hateth the light neither cometh to past, they were all born so ignorant the light, lest his deeds should be re- and sottishly opposed to the true God, proved, but he that doeth truth as to be by nature not the objects of cometh to the light, that his deeds his forbearance but of his abhorrence! may be made manifest that they are that it was yet their duty to love this wrought in God.”. “The hour is God, and to serve him perfectly, coming when all that are in their which as they neither could, nor graves shall hear the voice of Jesus would do, they must perish everlast. Christ, and shall come forth, they ingly; yet if they believed and did that have done good unto the resurs what they by nature could not believe rection of life, and they that have and do, they might be saved; that done evil to the resurrection of dam- somehow or other there is a natural nation." “ If thou wilt enter into ability, and a moral inability, both life, keep the commandments.” Thus arising out of nature as it now is, but our Lord taught, nor could I reconcile that his moral inability is total, and these truths with the unaccountable universal, completely preventing all doctrine of radical, total, universal, men from taking a step in the narrow moral corruption. I examined the road that leads to life; that even the Book of Acts: there I saw nothing will and choice are by nature wholly about the fall of man, nothing about blind, and corrupt, so that no man corrupt nature, though I read much can choose what is good, though his of the wickedness of the world, of the judgment may perceive it. I thought sin of idolatry, many exhortations to if Paul had believed all this he would faith and repentance, and the practice pot have preached as he is recorded to of righteousness. I heard Paul ad- have done. dressing the reason and consciences of I now proceeded to examine the his hearers, at Lycaonia, at Athens, apostolic writings : I read in Paul's at Ephesus, at Jerusalem, and at Epistles an awful description of the Rome. Yes, he reasoned with them state of the world, at the time of our

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On Mr. Rutt's Edition of Priestley's Works.

521 Lord's appearance, but I did not see God and righteousness. I thought that he complained of nature but of the of that passage in Jer. xiii. 23—" Can abuse of it. 'He tells us that when men the Ethiopian change his skin, or the knew God, they glorified him not as leopard his spots ? then may ye also God neither were thankful. He taught do well that are accustomed to do that all had sinned, and all needed mer- evil." I knew that the first man was cy: he shews to what an extent vice the first sinner, and that death entered prevailed among the idolatrous Gentiles, by sin. I doubted not that many and superstitious and bigoted Jews. became or were made singers by this He says nevertheless, that "man is man's disobedience, that his posterity the image and glory of God." i Cor. were exposed to a thousand natural xi. 7. He tells us that glory, honour evils, and consequently temptations to and peace shall be to every man that the commission of moral evil, which worketh good, that when the Gentiles would never have existed had Adam who have not the law do by nature the never transgressed. I saw that men things contained in the low, these were naturally prone to wander from having not the law are a law unto God; the conduct of our first parents themselves, their consciences also proved that they were; therefore I was bearing witness, and their thoughts the less astonished at the abounding the mean while accusing or else ex- wickedness and folly of mankind. cusing one another : and I thought “ Lo, this only have I found, that that these facts were wholly, subver- God hath made man upright; but sive of the doctrine of original, univer- they have sought out many invensal and total depravity. I read of the tions." Eccles. vii. 29. I read through reconciliation of sinners to God, of the the Epistles, but I could find nothing carnal mind, of the works of the flesh, in them to countenance the doctrine and of men dead in trespasses and of a nature universally, totally, and sins, and that in this state the people radically corrupt. Nothing in Paul, at Ephesus, and the Jews among the nothing in Peter, James and John, rest, were by nature the children of not omitting Jude. wrath even as others in similar cir. I wondered with great astonishment! cumstances: I was certain that a man Where could this doctrine originate? I destitute of revealed religion, and one thought it began in the synagogue, whose morals had been neglected, that it was a refinement upon the Brawould grow up, a savage, a victim to minical doctrine of the metem psychosis: numberless evil passions, and I was I suspected that the apostles were not surprised to hear Paul describing tainted with this error till better taught the condition of the Jews as not being by Jesus Christ, or why did they ask much better than that of the Gentiles that strange question John ix. 2. I “ fulfilling the desires of the flesh and traced it to africa, to Europe, to the of the mind,” for I had read their Vatican, to Lambeth Palace, to the history, and did not doubt that a state convocation, to the synod ;-I saw of uncultivated nature would produce original sin approaching me in the this evil fruit : I saw an instance of it habit of the holy office, an inquisitor in Adam, I read of sin entering into of the order of St. Dominic, I bowed the world by one man and death by not, but I thought it high time to sin, and that by one man's dis- retire.

SIGMA. obedience many were made sinners. I knew that ihe carnal mind was SIR,

August 12, 1816. enmity against God: I had seen and

U PONY perusing with usual interest felt it to be so; I had suffered by it, and I thought that if men were less Repository, I was sensibly affected by carnally minded, they would not be the indirect information contained in so ready to find excuses for their sins, page 386, (and the more official intelbe more humble before God, and not ligence page 392), that the proposal of plead their nature as an hardened cri- Mr. Ruit for a New Edition of Dr. minal pleads an alili. I thought that Priestley's Theological Works is lanthis would be but a poor excuse at guishing for want of sufficient support the day of judgment: I knew that froin the Unitarian public. Allow me where bad habits and the love of sin to state that when I first became acgoverned the heart, men were dead to quainted with the proposal, by means

of the Repository, I experienced the theology, but are aware how much they genuine pleasure which results from are indebted to Dr. Priestley for the the contemplation of the noble and present improved principles of theolodignified character of Dr. Priestley, gical education; and lastly, the sons of and the probability that by this addi- our respectable laymen, many of whom, tional means the world would become I doubt not, have the cause of rational still better acquainted with his excel- religion at heart, and who are from lencies, and still more enlightened by time to time collecting those books by his serious and sagacious investigation which they will store their minds with into true religion. From that period the most valuable materials for future to the present I have had little oppor- reflection and meditation. tunity of learning what progress might With respect to the first class, many be made towards the accomplishment have Dr. Priestley's Works already in of the design, except by the occasional their possession ; and though probably hints which have been given in the a fair proportion of the hundred sub Repository. Confiding in the high scribers which have hitherto been prosense which is so generally and de- cured, are from this class, yet it is not servedly maintained among us of Dr. perhaps from them that the prosecution Priestley's religious and theological of the object may be expected. The character, I had continued to cherish second class have probably nearly all the the expectation that the plan would Theological and Miscellaneous Works ere long be in actual preparation, and of Dr. Priestley in their present colhad on various occasions contributed, lection; and as a superfluity of money I venture to say, to excite the interest can seldom fall to their lot, their perI felt myself in the minds of others. - sonal contribution would hardly seLet it not be supposed that I am in- cure the plan under consideration. The duced 10 occupy your present attention third class, or young ministers, no doubt by the selfish feeling of disappointment feel peculiar interest in the object under in my individual and anxious hope. I consideration ; but of these, the greater have no doubt whatever that the in- proportion, having it may be but rcformation which your last Number cenily surmounted the difficulties of contained has produced similar regret an expensive education, however they in the breasts of many of your readers; could wish it, are not in a condition to and whether they adopt the same plan spare the ten or eleven guineas out of as myself, are ready to pronounce sen- their scanty salaries. The object detence upon that indifference to which volves then pretty much upon the fourth alone the possible failure of such an class, consisting of the sons of respectobject among us can be owing. Happy able and wealthy laymen, to whom should I be if by any thing which I the expense, divided probably into two can offer, in conjunction with the ap- or three years, can be no hinderance propriate suggestions of your worthy whatever, and who would by their asCorrespondent in your last Number, sistance, have a most excellent opporsuch feelings may be inspired into the tunity of testifying their concern for breasts of our young laymen, as may the religious welfare of their fellow place the projected plan beyond the men. This appeal is not made to probability of failure.

those young men, who, attracted by There are four classes of persons to the false glare of fashion, are, to the whom we might appeal for assistance unspeakable regret of their families, in in the publication of the new edition danger of forsaking those principles and of Dr. Priestley's Works. The respect- that cause, which their fathers after able laymon in our connexion, who duly much patient investigation, and serere prize ihe importance of rational in- sacrifices of family consideration, have formation on religious subjects; the nobly supported : such can hardly be ministers of some standing, who have had expected to lend their helping hand to much experience in the prevalent opi- the cause of virtue and truth the apnion, and have learned duly to estiinate peal is more to the truly interesting these Works, which have been so (and it is hoped numerous) class of great a means in the hands of Provi- young persons, who, blessed with the dence of contributing to the reforma- means of benevolent exertion and with tion which is going on; the young the inestimable blessing of a liberal ministers, who have been taught indeed education, have conceived a deep inteto make the Bible their chjef book of rest in the religion of Jesus, soberly and

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