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Lorenzo. I acknowledge, reason, experience, and revelation plainly show that mankind are naturally selfish, but deny they are totally so; for I believe they have ability to do good as well as evil.

Evander. I fully agree with you as to the ability mankind possess; but it is not ability we are talking about, but the natural disposition.

Lorenzo. I will thank you to point out the evidence, that mankind are all totally depraved.

Evander. I think it is very evident from their history, from Adam to the present day: blood, cruelty, revenge, idolatry, tyranny, debauchery, ungodliness, with all the long catalogue of vices, have continually stained its pages. Infants give evidence of total selfishness as soon as they are capable of action; they incline to possess every thing that comes within their reach; they show anger and revenge in meeting the least repulse; and this temper constantly increases with time; they think every thing around them is made to subserve their interest and pleasure, until taught the contrary by painful experience. It is farther evident from every idea we have of justice, that mankind possess a criminal nature independent of actual transgression. We can conceive of no way wherein it can be compatible with justice, to inflict the least possible pain or punishment, on a perfectly pure, innocent, accountable being; neither can we believe it just to punish one for the crime of another: benevo

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lence might voluntarily receive it, but justice could not require it. God has said, “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father," but " the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon bim.” Again, “ who ever perished being innocent? or where were the righteous ever cut off? Says Abraham, “ wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked ? that be far from thee; shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" If the Judge of all the earth does right, does it look probable, that infants would suffer pain, sickness, and death, unless they possessed criminal natures? but admitting they do not, what propriety is there in baptizing them for the remission of sins ? After Adam became a sin. ner, the Scriptures inform us, that he begat children in his own likeness; which, if he did, they must be shapen in iniquity. It is proper every thing should be treated according to its nature. We treat, and with propriety, poisonous serpents and harmless doves differently, though neither have done actual harm to our knowledge. But the Scriptures declare that *“ The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born ;” they are said to be " by nature children of wrath ;" " the carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to his law, nor indeed can be.” Mankind are represented as naturally deaf and blind, in a moral sense. “ Hear ye deaf, and look ye blind;" “ bring forth the blind that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears." The representation of having eyes and ears, and still being blind and deaf, implies the possession of ability, but the want of a will to exercise it. They are further represented as being spiritually dead. “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins;" “awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Man is represented wholly and continually sinful, for “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, is only evil continually.”. This passage cannot be construed to imply any thing short of total depravity, I humbly conceive, without wilful misrepresentation. . The inspired psalmist says, " Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother, conceive me.” The Holy Ghost, by the mouth of the Apostle, declares, “ They are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth 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 way; and the way of peace they have not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes.” If there is no fear of God before their eyes, they are destitute of moral goodness; for “ the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I think it impossible to evade the idea,

that two distinct characters are clearly held up to view in the sacred Scriptures, which are sometimes distinguished by the holy and unholy, righteous and unrighteous, just and unjust, children of light and children of darkness, and a variety of other phrases. If mankind by nature possess the least degree of holiness, there is a gross impropriety in keeping up an entire distinction of characters, unless one class is perfectly holy; but the Scriptures are express on the subject : " he that says he is without sin, deceiveth himself, and the truth is not in him." If you attempt to describe a sinner possessed of the least degree of moral goodness, you describe a saint; for he that has the spirit of Christ “is born of God.” If the doctrine of total depravity is not true, all the distinction that can with reason be made, is comparative degrees, as, more good, less good, more evil, less evil, &c. but how contrary is this to the tenor of the Scriptures. Our blessed Saviour says to the Jews, “I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.” If my statement has been correct, then the doctrine of total depravity is plainly taught in the Scriptures, and we are in duty bound to believe it.

Lorenzo. I acknowledge the arguments look plausible, and would appear conclusive of two objections were removed. Evander. What are they?

Lorenzo. Whenever I read the Scriptures, I have a criterion by which to try my understanding. I weigh every sentiment by the standard of God's perfections; and if it does not agree with them, I then conclude I do not understand the doctrine, and rest contented that the Scriptures on that point are above my comprehension; and for God to create beings totally depraved, I think is inconsistent with his benevolence, and it gives a degrading idea, both of his works and human nature.

Evander. Mankind are poorly qualified to determine, in every instance, what is, and what is not consistent with God's perfections, as it is impossible for them, by searching, “to find out the Almighty to perfection,” and “ the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” God's ways are not as man's ways, for they are as high above man's

ways, as the heavens are above the earth. You say it gives a degrading idea of God's works. In the first instance, he created man upright, but he has sought out many inventions. · But I shall not deny that it is degrading to human nature, for it is the most soul-humbling doctrine of the gospel ; it strips the creature of all ground of boasting, and lays him at the footstool of sovereign mercy. I will thank you to point out wherein total depravity is inconsistent with the benevolence of the Deity.

Lorenzo. If we are by nature totally depraved,

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