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receive it, is that which proceeds from a deep acquaintance with the spirituality of the law of God, with the claim which it justly advances, to the whole and undivided affections of our heart. He who can, at once, enter into the spirit of the Divine law, and into the innermost feelings and sentiments of his own mind, will have no more doubt of his being a fallen and guilty creature, than he will have of his own existence,
No greater injury can be done to any doctrine, than is done by mis-stating it. Some who deny the doctrine of human depravity, have given such representations of its tendency, as to excite great prejudice against this article of our Holy Religion; and perhaps the unmeasured and incautious language of some who have believed in the doctrine, has afforded them no inconsiderable advantages on this subject. It has been represented as the necessary consequence of the doctrine, that there can be no such things as humanity, benevolence, beneficence, or the exercise of the social affections, or the love of justice, among men, but what is grafted upon the stock of Christianity; and as some bright examples of those amiable dispositions have been found, among those who had not derived them from the healing virtue of the Gospel, they have been produced as an argument to confute the doctrine. But this is entirely a misrepresentation of the human deprarity taught in the Scriptures. The Scriptures themselves record instances of such dispositions existing in heathens, and consequently can never be supposed to deny the facts. The doctrine of the Scripture on this subject is, that as God is the head of the universe, he is also that of the moral system, and that what actions soever do not proceed from the supreme love of Him, from a regard to His authority, and a desire VOL. 1.
iv pieuse Him, are necessarily defective, and destitute of original righteousness. The actions themselves are proper, and useful to mankind; but as they are done from wrong principles, they are not only destitute of moral goodness, but have also the nature of moral evil. The Scriptures represent the love of God as the root of all morality, and where there is no root, there can be no branches. They pronounce a state of mind, from which the love of God is excluded, as the governing principle, and in which self-love has usurped its place, to be a state of enmity with God, because its disposition and tendency are, to subvert his moral government, and to counteract his laws. With this state of mind they charge all deliberate transgressors, and, as they acknowledge men in no other character than that of sinners, they describe the character of Christians, antecedent to their conversion, as that of the enemies of God." When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”Rom. v. 10.
This doctrine formed an essential article of the Apostolical churches. It forms an article of the Greek church : and the church of Rome, which has corrupted many of the truths of Christianity, has preserved this one of the corruptions of human nature, with, indeed, one absurd exception. The Council of Trent declares, that all mankind have lost their holiness and righteousness, by the sin of Adam, except the Virgin Mary.* They surely ought to have heard her own sentiments on this subject, before they set her down as an exception. It is certain that she did not think herself any exception, for Mary said “ My
• Session v, Sect. 2.
spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” Both the Latin and Greek Churches, by a ceremony which they have added to the institution of Baptism, show what importance they attach to it. Before they baptize children, they use a form of exorcism, conjuring the evil spirit to come out of them. This practice was used in the Church, of England, during the first years of Edward VI. The doctrine of human depravity, constitutes an article of the Churches of England and Scotland ; of all the Lutheran Churches; and of all the Protestant Churches, with the single exception of that body who are called Unitarians.
Some pious men, in endeavouring forcibly to state the doctrine, have gone so far as to identify men with devils, and some have even represented men, as the worse of the two. That the Scripture identifies the cause in which both are engaged, rebellion against God, is certainly a just observation. It represents those men who continue dead in trespasses and sins, as the children of the wicked one,” because they take a decided part with him, who is at the head of the combination against God's moral government. But, as it never represents impenitent men as having all made the same progress in iniquity, or the crimes of all as equally complicated, so it does not represent the measure of any man's sins as filled up, till he be dismissed from the land of the living, and from the place of hope. It describes the righteous as well as the wicked, as growing to the harvest, and as ripe, only when the harvest comes. The cup of the wicked not yet being full, they cannot, with propriety, be confounded with those evil spirits, whose wickedness is matured, whose doom is sealed, and who, stung with everlasting despair, are reserved in darkness, to the judgment of the great day. The impenitent ought, however, to reflect, on the one hand, that they are every day making nearer advances to the confirmed guilt, as well as to the horrors of those evil beings. They should also consider, on the other, that many of those things which men have agreed to call by the name of virtue, are compatible even with the state of those beings, who are complete in wickedness. Submission to their prince, harmony in co-operation, and fidelity to one another, may be called their system of morals. But, as it is a system not only not founded on the love of God, but in hatred to him, it forms one of the most atrocious circumstances of their guilt, and is an awful warning to men, not to trust in a scheme of virtue which has no better foundation.
On the doctrine of Original Sin, the reader may con. sult President Edwards's Treatise, Dr. Jenning's Vindication, &c., Dr. Watts's Ruin and Recovery of Mankind, Mr. Wesley's Doctrine of Original Sin, according to Scripture, Reason, and Experience, (Works, vol. 21,) in answer to Dr. Taylor's Doctrine of Original Sin. The last writer has treated this doctrine, as he did the others of Atonement, &c. He has retained the name of the doctrine, that he might reduce it to nothing. How much more honourable and honest is the conduct of Dr. Priestley, of Mr. Belsham, &c., who openly and avowedly reject it altogether!
If the depravity and corruption of human nature be a doctrine of Christianity, and if the end of that religion be the restoration of man to the favour of God, and to holiness, Regeneration appears to be a part of the plan abso. lutely necessary to attain that end. Regeneration being nothing but the restoration of the soul to the supreme love of God and of goodness, which was lost by original sin, must approve itself to every candid mind, as a most important, as well as a most-rational article of the Christian faith. But, by what power shall this change be effected in the human heart? To this question it is far from being a sufficient answer to say, that the mind has within itself the principle of its own restoration, in its freedom of willing and acting. For, if that depravity was consistent with the freedom of the will, it does not appear how the freedom of the will can remove that depravity. The corruption of the will is the very disease to be cured, and its total aversion from the cure, renders the case entirely hopeless. If such a recovery is to be effected at all, it must be effected in another manner. « Vitiated hearts," says Dr. Paley, “will not change themselves ; not easily, not frequently, not naturally, perhaps not possibly. Yet (without holiness no man shall see God.' How then are the unholy to become holy ? Holiness is a thing of the heart and soul. It is not a few forced constrained actions, though good as actions, which constitute holiness. It must