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that in so strong a degree, as actually to prevent that close observation, and those discriminating perceptions, which are necessary to a fuller knowledge of it, and which, if had, would counteract its illusions. The child will not be effectwally prevented from catching at the name of the candle, till it has burned its little hand. The knowledge thus gained by experience, will exert a more efficient influence, than all it had acquired from the frowns and prohibitions and other demonstrations of its nurse.
Now, every human being is brought into existence under the operation of these and similar laws of his very nature, and that too, under circumstances altogether unfavourable to the acquisition of the knowledge necessary to determine always to conduct promotive of his real benefit. Sensible objects first appear, and caress his attention, and attract and win his heart. There is a strong bias towards them produced by the pleasure afforded, and the indulgence allowed, before that intellect has been sufficiently developed to discover their real character, and their bearing on his true happiness. There is, moreover, a particolar readiness or inclination to experiment for himself, and to learn practically, rather than to take the word of one more competent to judge.
Thus was it in some respect with our first parents while innocent, and it was on this very principle of their nature, that Satan operated successfully to secure their sin and ruin. The influence of passion, excited by the view of the fruit, and conversation with the tempter, becoming prevalent, and not being counterarted by any knowledge of evil which our first mother derived from the law or prohibition of God, the readiness to experiment and practically to know for hersell, overpowered her faith in the testimony of God, and she plucked and ate the forbidden fruit. It was manifestly, in her, the triumph of her sensitive orer her intellectual nature. Her passions and appetites prevailed, notwithstanding she was in possession of an understanding fully developed, and furnished with demonstrative knowledge.
Need we then think it strange-Is it not most natural, that her offspring should successively make the same fatal error, especially when they are placed in circumstances vastly more unpropitious than she was, having in fact been brought under the strong influence of sensitive indulgence, before that their intellectual powers have been sufficiently developed, to discern and know the will, or law of God which declares what is holy,good, and true, and to be sought, and what is evil, and ruinous, and to be avoided? The mere knowledge of God, and of His law, intellectually acquired, has to combat with the strong influence of passion, inipelling, ostimes, to what is prohibited, so that, from the very first moment in which the child begins to act, there takes place a manifest derangement in the exercise of its moral powers, or of those capacities and susceptibilities, which fit it for noral action. It becomes a sinner, therefore, must naturally:-nothing, indeed, can be more natural than such a result, considering all the circumstances under which it is placed. And yet there is no absolute necessity, arising out of the constitution of its being, or from the presence of some latent, intangible cause, or foundation, wrought into the very structure of the human soul. But, when it becomes a sinner; or, in other words, when it first commits sin, it does it most voluntarily. For what is it to act voluntarily, but to act according to the prevalent motive? The man naturally, and without resistance, yields to the motive, which, at the time, seems to him to be most important, and to have the most direct bearing on his pleasure or happiness. In so far as he has power to weigh and balance the several motives for or against an action, is he actually and perfectly free. This power, however, it niust be obvious, will never be brought into full energy, where
sed Redeemer, as He probably does, in the case of those that die in infancy, and let the developing process, be in the high and holy exercises of those redeemed by His blood, and elicited by circumstances, inconceivably propitious to happiness and holiness;—or, if he brings the rebel mind, already arrayed in opposition to His government, to submit to His sway, and believe upon His Son, and then commence its renovated life, and high career of glory, to Jesus must be all the honor and all the praise ascribed. Great and ineffable will His glory appear, as it shall be seen, that man has risen from a state of mere emptiness and wants, from the lowest and despicable of beginnings, to such a degree of perfection, that there shall not be found a creature so lofty, as to excite his envy, or so low as to be treated with disdain;—and that thus, upon the very same principle, which the first rebel perverted to misery, corruption and death, God has raised, and purified, and enlarged the capacities of poor, degraded, fallen man, to the highest conceivable and possible degree of holiness and bliss. Oh, the depths of the wisdom and goodness of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.
THE NECESSITY AND CAUSE OF REGEN
The necessity of a change of heart inferrible from the fact of total depra
vity—The present disqualification of the impenitent sinner for the happiness of Heaven-A comparison of Christ's and the world's philosophy on this subject--His conversation with Nicodemus, John iii. 2-8-The evidence which substantiates the fact—The special and direct influence of the Spirit its only satisfactory cause-Some attempts to refer it to natural causes—Two remarks preliminary to an examination of some of them-1. Conversion not the natural effect of EARLY EDUCATION-2. Nor of TAE DISCIPLINE OF CIRCUMSTANCES—3. Nor of the power of strong belief to REALIZE the thing believed— Two remarks as to all the hypotheses, which admit not the special and direct agency of the Spirit-The attempt to identify Baptism and Regeneration.
We have seen that the moral exercises of man are deranged; and that instead of the capacities of his nature, his powers of mind and the affections and passions of his heart, being carried forth in harmonious exercise towards God, as the supreme good,-in which consists his spiritual life, there is an awful disorder prevailing, in which the world has usurped the place of God; and while it attracts and binds the thoughts and purposes and desires of the soul, to what is altogether inappropriate, excites an aversion and hatred to the former, evincive of a radical derangementa total depravity. With the restoration of their disordered powers and affections to appropriate and harmonious action, or in other words, their being actually brought into blissful play around God as the great centre, and spring of all our delights, commences spiritual life.
Whatever objections, therefore may have been urged against the necessity of a change of heart, froin the alleg
ed virtue of man, it is obvious, that, being based entirely on false grounds, they cannot lie. Assuredly no one will pretend, that, take man as we find him—the subject of various sinful passions and emotions, which bind him down to earth, and render him forgetful, neglectful, and hateful, with respect to God,--he is, or can be qualified for a happy entrance into Heaven. Remove the impenitent sinner to the bright scenes of bliss and glory, that fill with transports of delight, the “spirits of just men made perfect,” and he could not be happy. His heart is altogether unattuned to such scenes. No chord in his soul vibrates in unison with the soft melody of the skies. The nearer his approach to the infinitely Holy and righteous One, the more intense must become his misery, while his heart retains its enmity against Him. We need not conjure out of the strong metaphorical language of scripture, an Hell of material flame for the torturing of the damned.
Every impenitent sinner carries the elements of Hell in his own bosom, and all that is wanting to the perfection of his misery, is to place him in circumstances, where the various passions and affections now elicited by prohibited objects, and modified by his aversion from God, shall be fully developed. If the dim and very imperfect view, which the sinner, in this world, has of the character of God, oftimes lashes into fearful and hellish excitement, the pride, and rage, and malice of his soul, and throws him into paroxysms of despair and anguish; how much more intense will be these things, when the scenes of earth shall recede, and the veil which now covers the eternal world, shall be removed, and he shall see, as in full blaze, the grandeur and glory-the brilliant lustre of Jehovah? Oh how will the poor soul recoil, and prey upon itself, with the most agonizing reflections, when it shall be brought to see and know, who and what He is, against whom it rebelled, how holy, and just, and righteous, and true, and immutabte are lis judgments!