Abbildungen der Seite

ed, by the dreadful alienation which has taken place. Thus the apostle Paul in one place describes the unrenewed world as walking in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who, being past feeling, hare given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness,” and in another place, as "being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise; having no hope, and without God in the world."

In the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans, there is a very full and accurate sketch of the corrupt state of unrenewed men, although it is adapted to the state of society in general, rather than to the circumstances and characteristics of individual corruption; yet it is manifest, that the mass of men--the whole race is depraved, and that this depravity is developed in different individuals, in every variety of corrupt passions, actions and habits. “As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inrentors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful, who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."3

This description of human depravity, is supposed, by some, to refer to the heathen world, and therefore, it is

1. Eph. ir. 17--19.

2. Eph. ii. 12.

3. Rom. i. 28, 32

said, it should be received with considerable allowance, when applied to mankind as modified by christian institutions. It is certain, however, that it is as applicable to the state of society in pagan countries at this day, as it was in the apostle's to pagan Rome—the proud mistress of the world. And even though the influence of christianity may have greatly restrained the exhibitions of human depravity, yet are they to be seen close upon the footsteps of the church of God. All the courts of justice, and all the great principles upon which investigations before them are conducted, are based on the fact, that man is depraved. His word will not be believed, but he must solemnly asseverate on oath. Nor will the oath be admitted, when personal pecuniary interests stand affected. These are the practical comments of men, in their collective wisdom, on the depraved character of individual man.

And such too is the practical comment of men on each other, even when their theories on the subject are directly opposed to it. What are all the impeachments of motiveassigning of false intentions--suspicions-jealousies, and the like, which are so current in society, but manifestations of the practical sense or conviction which is entertained of the universal deprayity of man? The truth is, man is a fallen creature, and let him he found where he may, till he is renewed by the Spirit of God, he is under the dominion of depraved affections.

The same apostle who has given us such a melancholy sketch of the moral character and condition of the gentile world, has also given us a full portrait of man by 'nature, when situated under the external influence, and enjoying the advantages, of a clear revelation of the will of God. In his second chapter to the Romans, he proves that Jews, to whom had been committed the oracles of God, and whơ knew his will distinctly, were under the same condemnation with the gentiles; and in the third chapter confirms


his conclusion, by many passages taken from the Old Tes. tament scriptures, asserting entire depravity as the universal characteristic of man, whether Jew or gentile. “We have,” says he, “before proved both Jews and gentiles, that they are all under sin. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that docth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God."

of the fact of universal depravity, no man can doubt, who admits the truth of the sacred record. The thoughts of the imaginations of the heart are evil, and that continually. The aboundings of that evil have been so great, at different times, that God has found it necessary to come down, in all the terrors of his vengeance, to consume the transgressors. He swept the old world with the desolating fury of the deluge. He poured down lightnings from the skies, and consumed the cities of the plain. Nation after nation has he overthrown, and all their memorials have been obliterated with them. Empire after empire has he dashed to pieces like a potter's vessel, when their iniquity was full. The history of the world is one unvarying and melancholy exposition of human depravity.

Should any one doubt the fact, notwithstanding all this array of proof, that men are corrupt beings, we present the

1. Pe m. ii, 9, 19.

follow i ng sketch of the face of modern and christian society, as drawn by a faithful and masterly hand. “No ingenuity on the one hand, and no suffering on the other, has, in any country, been sufficient to overcome this propensity, and so far to change the character of man as to exterminate even a single sin. To this head ought to be referred all the means furnished by law, of safety to our persons and our property; the bolts, bars and locks by which we endeavour to defend our houses and their contents, our persons and our famiilies, especially in the night, against the inroads of theft and violence; the notes, bonds and deeds by which we endeavour to secure our contracts, prevent the mischiefs of fraud, and compel dishonesty to fulfil its engagements; the gaols and dungeons, the chains and galleys, by which we endeavor to confine villains and prevent them from disturbing by their crimes the peace of society; the post, the pillory and the gibbet, by which we punish some culprits, and labour to deter others from repeating their perpetrations. All these and the like things are gloomy and dreadful proofs of the corruption of the world in which they exist. They exist wherever men are found of sufficient capacity and in proper circumstances, to attempt a regular opposition to crimes, a continual preservation of peace, and a general catablishment of personal safety. The sinfulness, therefore, which they intend to resist, is equally universal.”'I

A variety of suppositions have been resorted to, in order to account for human depravity. We shall not pretend to examine all. Every sober and diligent inquirer will very soon perceive, that the most specious of them all, which resolves the whole into the influence of example, is utterly

For there are too many melancholy facts to shew, that the very worst specimens of human depravity are found, precisely where the examples of christian purity and


1. Dwight's Theol. v. 1, p. 433.

devotedness have shone with the most brilliant lustre. From the bosom of the family where God has been honoured, and his name most reverently adored, and all his counsels and commands have been received and obeyed, has issued the youth of dissipated habits, of wanton profanity, and of the boldest and most shocking impiety. And in christian lands, travellers commonly remark, that the vices of the vulgar are more appalling and degrading, and evincive of much greater depravity, than in pagan countries, where the influence of christian example is not selt.

The truth is, that the specimens of piety which the ehurch furnishes, have an irritating effect upon the ungodly world, just as the apostle has apprised us the law of God, when apprehended in its spirituality and extent, had on his lustful heart. Such is the indisputable fact. "I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them,” says the Saviour, in reference to the effect which evangelical example and piety had upon men of ungodly minds. “Sin," says the apostle, “taking occasion by the commandment wrought in me all manner of concupiscence."? Now, why should such results flow from such causes? Why should christian example have a corrupting effect? Upon the principle of the objection, it should have a contrary. And it would and must have a salutary tendency, were not the hearts of men naturally depraved, so that there is nothing in unrenewed man on which such example can operate, and to which it can appeal with success. The heart is in the contrary direction. Men naturally and universally incline to evil. We see it in the infant, as soon as it is capable of knowing evil. Fierce passions rage in the little breast, and, as it advances, its deportment verifies the observation of the wise man, that “ the wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." ;

1 John xvii. 14.

9. Rom. vii. &

3. Psalm lrii. 3.

« ZurückWeiter »