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truth to every man's conscience, giving you an understanding to know the Scriptures" and yourselves.

I am to prove to you that man is a fallen creature; yea, wholly departed from God. And here I shall make use of two chief arguments, namely, the testimony of the scriptures and universal experience; each of which, I trust, will convince those who reverence the authority of God, and coolly examine the evidence, that our state is truly deplorable and corrupted. O! that it may lead every soul of us to him, "who alone is able to save to the uttermost, all who come unto God by him." (Heb. vii. 25.)


1st, The testimony of the scriptures.

And in a point of such weight and importance, you may be sure to meet with the strongest assertions of it. I will select a few of the principal, as they lie their order, and open their contents that we may feel their force.

That God made man after his own image you have heard; an image to have been perpetuated to his posterity, had he continued in obedience. He fell God's image was effaced. The curse hath succeeded. When Adam therefore begat a son, the holy Ghost peculiarly notes, that it was " in his own likeness," (Gen. v. 3.) not the likeness of God, in which originally he gloried, but of his fallen nature: a pregnant evidence of which presently ensued, when brother imbrued his hands in brother's blood, soon after, if not in the very act of sacrificing, the appointed means of acknowledging their guilt, and the season when they were peculiarly called upon to be humbled for and repent of it.

From such an early specimen of man's nature, we may the less wonder at the following relation. When God saw the earth filled with violence,


and that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, for every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Gen. vi. 5, 11.) Such is his description, "who knew what was in man." The heart of man was then evil; yea every thought of it; yea every imagination, before the thought is framed or desire perfected: it was evil and only evil, not the least mixture of spiritual goodness remaining; nor was aný moment excepted, evil continually flowed, as the stream from the fountain.

But it may be objected, the evil mentioned here was not natural but acquired; that men were not born wicked, but made themselves so. This point then let the next declaration of God determine. Does he not say to Noah after the flood, in the view of generations yet unborn, that he "will not again curse the ground for man's sake," though the same provocation would again and must for ever exist," because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth?" (Gen. viii. 21.) Here it is evident that evil is charged upon the heart of man as its genuine produce. No reference is there in these words to the persons then in being, or the influence of their or any future examples or instructions; but it is mentioned as arising simply from the corruption of nature.

In consequence of this the rising generation, influenced by the same cause as their forefathers, turned every man quickly to their ways; so that in the days of Abraham idolatry reigned universally.

Well then may we join holy Job in asking, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one :" (Job xiv. 4.) and subscribe the Psalmist's confession," Behold, I was shap


en in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psal. li. 5.) The nature is in fault : the fountain is marred at its head, and the streams must flow polluted.

As we advance we have increasing proofs of the universality of this corruption. The holy Ghost by the mouth of David assures us, that when "the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that would understand, and seek after God; Lo! they were all gone out of the way, they were altogether become abominable, there was none that did good, no not one." (Psal. xiv. 2.) And what was revealed to the father, was by the same Spirit manifested to the son; for this, among the first evils under the sun, the Preacher found, and indeed the origin of all the rest: "That the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead." (Eccles. ix. 3.) The heart is a fountain full of evil; and all the time men live upon the earth, this hereditary madness shews itself, till death closes the scene, and becomes at once its cure and its punishment.

Such apprehensions the holy Prophets had also of the state and temper of men: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jer. xvii. 9.) It is a great deep of corruption: when we have fathomed it with the longest line of observation, and found it to be indeed desperately wicked, still "the half is not told us." Who can know the fulness of evil, which dwells in an apostate


Our blessed Lord therefore, when himself upon earth, among other divine lessons he pointed out what peculiarly defileth the man, declares it arises from his heart: "Out of the heart pro

ceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, thefts, false-witness, blasphemies; these come from within." (Matt. xv. 19.) There is the seat of sin where Satan dwelleth: there the conceptions of of it are formed, and thence they flow, as from the subterraneous fire proceed the earthquake, the sulphurous exhalation, and the burning lava.

And this is the necessary effect of being born into the world. For "whatever is born of the flesh, is flesh." (John iii. 6.) The nature is called wholly flesh, because it is wholly void of the Spirit, and become enslaved to fleshly lusts and appetites, & hath by its fall sunk almost into the beast.

Our nature thus declared to be evil, we must expect to hear it condemned; and so it is written, "by nature children of wrath :" (Ephes. ii. 3.) wrath follows sin as closely as the shadow does the body: where sin is, there wrath will be; and where wrath is, there we may be always assured sin hath been.

From all these, and many the like testimonies which might be adduced, and indeed from the entire system of divine revelation, where this is implied throughout all the transactions and methods taken for our recovery, I presume it will incontestably appear, that man is at present a fallen, corrupted creature, wholly defiled in his nature, and in consequence become loathsome and hateful in the eyes of divine purity. Such was the conclusion our pious Reformers drew from these views of scripture in the IXth Article, "Original sin standeth not (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) in the following of Adam, but is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original

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* The original, quam longissime, is much stronger than our translation, very far.

righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh always lusteth contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world it deserveth God's wrath and damnation."

2dly, That the fact is really so, experience abundantly confirms. The truth is certain, though it be denied; but it is immediately confessed, when the heart begins to be really enlightened to know itself. The ignorance of the blind, or their disputing against the light, prevents not the shining of the sun, nor can persuade us that at mid-day there is darkness.

1. The experience of all ages to the present attests the corruption which God's word reveals. It was not only in the first ages of the world, that "the wickedness of man was great in the earth;" the complaints of every succeeding age shew the same cause operating uniformly throughout. Consult the Heathens; they observed it, confessed it, lamented it, in theory at least, and talked of precepts, though impotent to restrain the power of corruption. Consult the scriptures; they describe all the nations, and even the chosen people of God "as a seed of evil-doers;" (Isai. i. 4.) and their Prophets rising up continually reproached them for their ungodliness. The account St. Paul (Rom. i. and ii. chapters) gives of the Jews and Gentiles, learned and unlearned alike, shews the deplorable and universal deluge of sin. And what succeeding times have mended the account? Surely not our own. Cast your eyes round, and read man's present apostasy, written as with a sun-beam: see how iniquity lifts up its hydra-head and hisses on every side.

By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery," says the prophet, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.


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