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Every day's experience adds to their first existence ; many contheir conviction, that in them sider it merely as the accidental there is, naturally, no good thing, effect of the temptations, to and that the apostle can be charg- which they are early exposed, or ed with no extravagance or of some unpropitious circumharshness, when he describes 'stances attending their education. the unrenewed heart as enmity Most people imagine, that dewith God. They have no more pravity is very partial, by no doubts of their moral corruption means extending to the whole and vileness, than they have of moral nature, or to all the moral their existence.
actions of man. They consider That the disease of sin is deep- it as their misfortune rather, ly wrought in the very nature of than their sin, exculpating them. man, rests upon evidence of the selves, because their state is the same kind with any principle in consequence of Adam's transnatural philosophy. No philo- gression. And some, who advosophic truth is supported by cate the doctrine of total depravmore evident appearances or ity, represent it in a light, which more numerous operations, than is plainly inconsistent with the the doctrine of native depravity. free agency, the moral obligaThe facts of a moral nature, tion and accountability of sinners. which prove this doctrine, may But without enumerating all be ranked with the facts of a the errors respecting this docphysical nature, which prove the trine, which are entertained and doctrine of gravitation. The defended at the present day ; it fruits of human corruption ap- is my design to guard the pear so early'; they are so vari- churches of Christ against those ous, so constant, and so copious, errors, by pointing out the sour that we can with no more reason ces from which they proceed, and doubt its existence, than the ex- the various hurtful effects which istence of any natural appetite or they produce. passion.
One perpetual source of error But notwithstanding the vari. respecting the character and acous and abundant proofs, upon tions of lapsed man is, the prace , which this doctrine rests, it is rice of judging by a wrong standoften denied and opposed. Atard. If men would keep their this day there is a general dispo- eye steadily fixed on the moral sition manifested, especially a- excellence of God, the perfect mong the learned, to change or pattern of all goodness ; or would conceal its awful scripture form, duly consider the nature and exand to consider it as of small tent of what his law requires ; consequence, in what manner it they would be convinced of the is believed, or whether it is be- entire moral depravation of man. lieved at all. Instead of the in- In the light of divine holiness spired sentiment, that mankind they would see, that the thought are shapen in iniquity and con- of the imagination of his heart is ceived in sin, or that depravity evil continually and from hiş affects their moral nature from youth. Judging by the perfect Vol. III. No. 8.
and unchangeable law, they fect.
they fect. We must not set them up would readily admit the exact as infallible guides ; nor suffer truth of the following description them to occupy the place of Je. of mankind, in Rom. iii." There sus Christ. Our attachment to is none righteous, no, not one. their virtues should not lead us There is none that understand to admire their weaknesses, or eth, there is none that seeketh to justify or imitate their faults. after God. They are all gone I have suggested two of the out of the way, they are togethe false standards of judgment on er become unprofitable ; there is subjects of a moral nature ; the none that doeth good, no, not corrupt opinions and maxims of: one. Their throat is an open the world, and the characters of sepulchre ; with their tongues men admired for their talents, they have used deceit, the poison their exploits, or their virtues, of asps is under their lips. With such false standards of Whose mouth is full of cursing judgment before them, men are and bitterness. Their feet are induced to “ call evil good, and swift to shed blood. Destruction good evil ; to put darkness for and misery are in their ways; light, and light for darkness." and the way of peace have they Judging by these delusive rules,
There is no fear of they form very inadequate and God before their eyes.” Buton erroneous opinions of human this sulaject, men judge by a corruption, greatly mistating or wrong standard ; a standard not wholly rejecting a doctrine, which only different from the moral law, lies at the foundation of evangelbut opposite to it. Instead of ical truth. Beware, then, Christhe holy commands of God, they tians, of these, and indeed of all set up, as a rule of judgment, the false rules of judgment. The word corrupt opinions and maxims of of God is your only infallible the world ; maxims, which justi. standard. When you would form fy what the law condemns, or, at a correct opinion of the character best, substitute a regular external of mankind, in general, or of the deportment for holiness of heart. nature of any particular disposi.
Another false standard of judg- tions or actions ; ask not what. ment is the character of those are the maxims adopted by the men, whom many writers and the fashionable, unthinking world ; world in general treat with the nor what is the opinion of people highest respect and honour. in general. Look not at those, Their spirit and conduct, differ- who are admired for their splening widely from that rule of mor- did circumstances, accomplishal excellence which the Bible au- ments, or actions.
Confide not thorises, lead to very erroneous implicitly even in those, who conclusions respecting good and are held in high estimation for evil. Even characters deserved- Christian wisdom and goodness. ly esteemed for Christian piety But look to God's holy law, and cannot, without danger, be con- to the character and life of Jesus, sidered as the standard of our where the excellence and judgment. In this world, the broad extent of that law appear best Christians are very imper with living beauty. With a con
stant and reverential regard to particular, are so defiled, so crimthat character and law, you will inal, and so degraded, as the be directed to proper views of scripture declares them to be? apostate man. You will see that in opposition to the serious belief none of his actions or inclinations, of this doctrine all the imposing while destitute of renewing eloquence of pride and every corgrace, can be pronounced holy. rupt passion is exerted. No won: You will be able, with great ease, der, that a truth so wounding to to remove the delusive veil of selfconceit, so destructive to unexternal decorum, which so of- lawful pleasure, so alarming and ten conceals internal deformity. distressing, is so seldom believe When the outward actions of ed; so much obscured, and so visinners appear most fair and en- olently assaulted.
No wonder, gaging, your habit of judging, considering what the human according to the judgment of heart is, that any error, however God, will still lead you to say, palpable, is admitted, rather than an evil tree cannot bring forth
a doct ne, which sullies man's good fruit. Do men gather glory, and covers him with disgrapes of thorns, or figs of this. honour and shame. Here is the tles ?" Thus you will be satisfi- grand source of mistake on this ed, on scripture grounds, that subject. If there were less pride man's heart is by nature wholly in the world, the doctrine of hucorrupt, and that this radical man depravity would meet a less corruption diffuses itself univer- vigorous resistance. From this sally through his actions, which, source even Christians are in considered in relation to the mor- danger. Although the scripal law, are all unholy. In this tures are open before them, and sentiment you may de part ex- the pure light of heaven has ceedingly from the common shone in their hearts; still their opinion ; but you will secure the pride is not wholly subdued, and advantages of agreeing with the they are not sufficiently disposed Spirit of truth.
to submit, without reservation, But there is another unfailing to the whole word of God. Let source of error on this subject, the churches of Christ, therewhich must not be overlooked; fore, guard with sacred vigilance that is, the delusive influence of against the influence of every unpride, and the other evil passione hallowed passion, so that they of the heart. These passions are may preserve from diminution a dark mist, which prevents clear and alteration the doctrine of huvision. Pride excludes spirit- man corruption, as it stands in ual light. Under its influence, the sacred volume. 'Let the men turn away from that picture whole salutary truth be received of human nature, which is drawn and felt, however painful to those by the pencil of truth. They feelings, which would shun can readily understand and adınit the light ; and let every error speculations, which leave to pride and misrepresentation, however the full possession of the heart, soothing to human nature, be reits chosen throne. But how can jected as the bane of Christian they admit the mortifying belief, virtue. that mankind, and themselves in
It was my design not only to are affected with their own guilt, hint at the sources of prevailing deformity, helplessness, and miserror on this subject, but also to ery, the more clearly do they potice the pernicious effects, discern the necessity, the nature, which those errors produce. In and the glory of the atonement. order to this, it is necessary to While they have proper views of observe, that the doctrine of the their own character, every petientire moral corruption of man tion for pardon, every desire of is closely and inseparably con- salvation, every hope of the eternected with the other great doc- nal inheritance is associated with trines of inspiration ; so that the the precious blood of Jesus. But denial of the one involves the if persons are insensible of their denial of the others, and errone- pollution and ill desert; what ous views of the one are followed can they understand of Christ's by erroneous views of the others. mediation? What conception To descend to a few particulars; can they have of the infinite valit is a well known fact, that those ue of the sacrifice, which he who deny the moral corruption offered up to God? of man, deny also the atonement The doctrine of depravity is of Jesus Christ. And it is con- nearly related to the doctrine of sistent that they should. For if regeneration. When our Saviour mankind be not by nature in taught the necessity of the new the most depraved, guilty, ruin- and heavenly birth, he taught it ed state, the common notion of in connexion with the innate redemption by the Son of God is corruption of man. marked with absurdity. Christ's which is born of the flesh, is dying for all implies that all were flesh; and that which is born of dead in trespasses and sins. If the Spirit, is spirit.” So did the man were not of this character, apostle. “ You hath he quickand therefore justly obnoxious to ened, who were dead in trespass. the endless wrath of God, the es and sins." What need of cross of Christ would lose its quickening, if mankind are not - glory and be turned into foolish- dead? What need of a new creaness.
Not only the necessity, tion, if they are not the subjects but the propriety and justice of of radical and native corruption ? God's sending his Son to suffer What occasion for being born and die, rest upon the question, again, if the first birth left them What is the moral state of man ? pure? If they retain any degree If he be so depraved and criminal of real goodness, that goodness, that, according to God's holy without a renovation of nature, law, he is without help and with- may be cultivated, improved, and out hope, righteously doomed to perfected. How can they, who everlasting punishment; then deny or overlook the complete redemption appears the work of sinfulness of their nature, be infinite wisdom and love.
convinced, that they must be These two doctrines are as in- regenerated by the Spirit of timately connected in the expe- God, in order to be admitted into rience of believers, as in correct heaven? This important scripreasoning. The more deeply they ture doctrine is weakness and
folly to all, who see not the others of the divine favour, imdesperate wickedness of their plies the denial of the scripture. hearts.
doctrine of human guilt. Duly The doctrine of justification by attending to this doctrine, and the grace of God rises or falls ac- deeply impressed with it, we cording to men's ideas of them- shall easily understand the conselves. If we consider our mor- sistency and necessity of divine al nature, as totally alienated from predestination.
We shall perGod, and our actions altogether ceive the richest grace in God's unholy ; on what can we found electing sone to everlasting life, our hopes of justification before and the purest justice in his God, but the perfect righteous- punishing the rest according to ness of Christ? But if we are
their demerit. If we object so blinded by pride, as to con- against God's exercising his sovsider our nature pure, and our ereign wisdom and love in this life only interspersed with oc- manner, it must be because we casional deviations from rectie ignorantly overrate our own mertude ; what idea shall we have of it, and think ourselves too good justification by the free and a- to be threatened on such princibounding grace of God? How ples. Insensibility to the moral unmeaning or disgusting must state of man will always lead to this doctrine be to the self-right- wrong conclusions respecting the eous, arrogant spirit of unhum- purposes and ways of God, and bled sinners!
will, especially, conceal the beauThe same connexion is obvi- ty, consistency, and sublimity of ous between the doctrine now the doctrine of eternal predestiunder consideration, and the gode nation. But to those, who yield pel doctrine of sovereign election. full and cordial assent to the awAdmitting that mankind ful account, which scripture gives universally in a state of such ex- of apostate man, the doctrine of treme sinfulness, or criminal de- sovereign election will not only pravity, as the scripture affirms, appear plain, and worthy of humwe at once conclude, that ever- ble belief; but will be reviving lasting punishment might be and glorious, the spring of all justly inflicted upon the whole their hopes, the firm ground of world, and that the salvation of their confidence, the rock of their any part of such a guilty race salvation. must be the effect of mere mer- It would be easy, if needful, су. . And as similar traits of to show in a more enlarged view moral character belong to all ; the natural and unalterable conthose who are saved must be nexion between this doctrine and considered the objects of dis- the other principles of evangelicriminating grace. The hypothe- cal truth.
cal truth. There can be no just sis, that God eternally chose men notion of these without the beto salvation, on account of any lief of human depravity. If we virtue or good works foreseen in do not believe this doctrine, we them, or that they are actually may as well cast away the whole regenerated, on account of any Bible, and return to the darkuess thing in their character, which of heathenism. And let me add, renders them more worthy than brethren, that there is no danger