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This view of human nature is, I know, very different from that given by heathens, and even by many who call themselves Christians. The heathens, generally, represented man as naturally disposed to goodness, and as capable, by his own exertions, of rising to the sublimest height of moral excellence. And strange as it may seem, there have been, and there still are many, who " name the name of Christ,” and with the Bible in their hands, venture to hold similar language. This, perhaps, never obtained more, at any time, than in the present century, and never more in any part of the world, than in our own coun. try. Many, both divines and moralists, hold up, what they call, " the fair side of “ human nature, and if they allow any thing wrong at all, they do not choose to give it the offensive name of sin ; but smooth it over with the softer name of frailty or imperfection. Now, if such a representation be just, men have suffered little or nothing from the fall of our first parents ; but are still, as at the beginning, only “ little lower than the angels.” Suppose then, for a moment, that we are ready to admit this representation, what must we do
with our Bibles ?. They too, like most things here below, most submit to change : we must expunge from them, for ever, this, and all similar passages ;—“ the wickedness " of man is great in the earth, and every “ imagination of the thoughts of his heart " is only evil continually.” But whatever others do, let us hold fast the form of sound words. Let us believe that God is true, though every man should be made a liar. Now, this representation is not the representation of man, but of God.-Let us, therefore, state more particularly the evidence which we have for believing it. We can adduce our evidence from the Scriptures, from all History, and from Experience.
The doctrine now to be discussed is not one of those light things which we may believe, or not believe, at our pleasure. If we do not believe, and be not deeply impressed with a sense of the depravity of human nature, we cannot embrace, and believe, as we ought to do, the Gospel of “God
our Saviour. Without believing that there is disease, we shall never apply for a remedy.
First, Let us consider what evidence we have, from the Scriptures, for believing in the depravity of human nature.- We cannot open the Sacred Volume without finding evidence of this woful fact meeting us in, almost, every page. Before Adam himself was depraved, the sacred historian informis us, that he was in the Divine, likeness. But when recording events posterior to the Fall, he varies his style, and when speaking of Adam having a son, remarks, that he begat him, not in the Divine, but in his own likeness : And that the most careless reader might advert to the melancholy change, Moses marks it by an emphatical repetition : He adds, after his image.
66 Adam lived an “ hundred and thirty years, and begat a “son in his own likeness, after his image *,” in contradistinction to the image of God, after which he himself was created. The phrase appears still more striking, when we recollect, that this is affirmed, not of Cain, but of Seth, the most excellent of Adam's children, and the father of the holy seed. Does it not imply, that in consequence of the Fall, every child of Adam is the heir
* Gen. v. 3.
of corruption ? It unquestionably does, and accordingly we find this original corruption spreading with the human race ; infecting the heart and polluting the practice of every mere man, without one single exception. Even prior to the flood, we find Almighty God himself declaring, " that the wicked
ness of man was great in the earth, and “ that every imagination of the thoughts of “ his heart, was only evil continually: “ And it repented the Lord that he had “ made man on the earth, and it grieved “ him at his heart*.”—This, I confess, is a gloomy picture of the human mind; but though a gloomy, it cannot be an unjust one. No, for it came from that Hand which painted the canopy of heaven, and touched all the pictures of nature into such inimitable perfection.
But lest this account of mankind should be thought to have no reference, but to the generation then existing, we find God repeating the charge, and bringing it forward against those also, who survived the deluge. —“ I will not again, curse any more the
* Gen. vi. 5, 6.
ground for man's sake, for the imagina66 tion of man's heart is evil from his
youth *:"—that is, depravity cleaves to his nature ; even judgments the most severe will not correct him; he will not learn righteousness; he is stubborn, and will go on in the error of his ways. And the farther we proceed in the Bible History, we find the evidence of human corruption constantly accumulating Israel is still
Israel is still prone to evil. Their whole history is a history of rebellion against the Lord.— Ye have been rebel“ lious against the Lord, since the day that “ I knew you,” says Moses. They were, as holy Stephen expresses it, “stiff-necked “ and uncircumcised in heart and ears, and “ did always resist the Holy Ghost.” Let us hear too, the sad confessions of even their most illustrious characters. What saith David ? “I was shapen in iniquity, and in “ sin did my mother conceive me.”—What saith Isaiah ? " Woe is me! for I am un
done, because I am a man of unclean • lips."—What saith Jeremiah? “The heart “ is deceitful above all things, and despe“ rately wicked; who can know it ?”— And
* Gen. viii. 21.