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Most IMPORTANT AND INTERESTING SUBJECTs.
JAMES HERVEY, A.M.
The memorial of thine abundant kindness shall be shewed, and
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SERIES OF DIALOGUES.
Walk upon the Terrace—Depravity of human nature laid open and proved from experience—Uses of its doctrine, and its subserviency to the grand point.
THE morning had been wet. At noon the rain ceased ; but the heavens still continued gloomy. Towards evening, a gentle eastern gale sprung up, which dissipated the dead calm, and cleared the face of the sky. The sun, which had been muffled in clouds, dropped the veil. Disengaged from the dusky shroud, he shone forth with peculiar splendour: his beams, endeared by their late suspension, were doubly welcome, and produced unusual gaiety. At this juncture, Theron and Aspasio walked abroad. They walked alternately on the terraces, one of which was opposite to the country, the other contiguous to the parterre; where the gales, impregnated with the freshest exhalations of nature, breathed the smell of meads, and heaths, and groves; or else, shaking the clusters of roses, and sweeping the beds of fragrance, they flung balm and odours through the air. At a distance were heard the bleatings of the flock, mingled with the lowings of the milky mothers; while more melodious music warbled from the neighbouring boughs, and spoke aloud the joy of their feathered inhabitants: and not only spoke their joy, but spread an additional charm over all the landscape ; for, amidst such strains of native harmony, the breathing perfumes smell more sweet, the streaming rills shine more clear, and the universal prospect looks more gay.
Then was experienced what Milton so delicately describes:If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet Extend his evening beam, the fields revive, The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings. With wonder and delight our friends observed both the exquisite beauty and the immense magnificence of things: they were struck with the most profound veneration of that Almighty Majesty, who hung the sun in vaults of azure, and clothed his orb with robes of lustre; whose ‘right hand spanneth the heavens,” and stretcheth them out as a tent,” for innumerable creatures, worlds, systems, “to dwell in.” Charmed they were at the consideration of the Creator's boundless beneficence, who lists up the light of his countenance, and joy is shed; who opens his munificent hand, and plenty is poured throughout all the regions of the universe, insomuch that even inanimate beings seem to smile under a sense of the blessings; and though they find not a tongue to praise, yet speak their acclamations by their gladdened looks. Ther. How very different, Aspasio, is this delightful appearance of things, from your ill-favoured doctrine of original guilt and original depravity! Your doctrine is a contradiction to the language of nature. Nature says, through all her works, “that God is good, and men are made to be happy;’ whereas your opinion would turn the whole world into a vast hospital, and make every individual person a leper or a Lazarus. Asp. I join my with Theron, and with universal nature, in bearing witness to the goodness of our God: and nothing, I am persuaded, displays it more, nothing manifests it so much as the doctrine of our fall in Adam connected with our recovery in Christ; only in one particular I am obliged to dissent: it is not my opinion that would make, but the sin of our forefather which has made, the whole world an infirmary, and every individual person a leper. Ther. At this rate you would crowd into that single act of disobedience, evils more numerous and more
* Isa, xlviii. 13. t Isa, xl. 22.
fatal than the plagues which were lodged in Pandora's box, or the troops which were stowed in the Trojan horse. - . . Asp. Far more numerous, and infinitely more pernicious. The fable of Pandora's box seems to have been a shred of the doctrine picked up by the heathen wits, and fashioned according to their sportive fancy. This would, if there was any occasion for such weak assistance, bring in the Pagan theology as a subsidiary evidence to our cause. The Trojan horse poured ruin upon a single city; but the primitive transgression entailed misery upon all generations. t Ther. You have advanced this heavy charge pretty strenuously I must confess, but without descending to facts, or appealing to experience; all the invectives are general and declamatory, none pointing and particular. Asp. It is easy, my dear friend, too easy to draw up a particular bill of indictment; and not only to specify the facts, but to demonstrate the charge. Experience, sad experience will furnish us with a cloud of witnesses, and prove my remonstrances to be more than invectives. Were we to dissect human nature, as in our last conference you treated the animal system, we should find the leprosy of corruption spreading itself through our whole frame: for which reason it is styled by an inspired writer, “the old man.” Old, because in its commencement it was early as the fall, and in its communication to individuals is coeval with their being; man, because it has tainted the body, infected the soul, and disordered the whole person. - St. Paul, describing a profligate conversation, speaks in this remarkable manner: ‘fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.'t By the desires of the flesh he means those irregular inclinations which correspond with the animal part of our constitution; by the desires of the mind he denotes those evil propensities which are more immediately seated in the intellectual faculties; and by both he very strongly expresses the total depravation of our nature.