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remark, it would not, in any measure, invalidate the conclusion, that mankind are, by some means or other, children of wrath: it only relates to the manner of their becoming such. But the remark itself, though it has all the aid, which learning and talents can give, still remains destitute of any support from the common use of the term in the New Testament. It is there invariably used in its ordinary signification. The fourteenth verse of the eleventh chapter of 1. Corinthians, affords no exception. The apostle is there shewing the propriety of preserving a distinction between the habits of men and women, and the indecency of annihilating this disinction. “Doth not even nature itself teach, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him * “The emphasis used, avrn on quous, nature itself, shows, saith an able writer, that the author does not mean custom, but nature in its proper sense. It was, indeed, long custom, which made having the head covered a token of subjection, and of a feminine habit and appearance: but nature itself, nature, in its proper sense, teaches, that it is a shame for a man to appear with the established signs of the female sex, and with significations of inferiority.” On the subject before us, the opinion of Celsus ought not to pass without observation. “This is indeed, very true,” saith he, “that mankind is, someway, naturally disposed to sin.” (Glass. iv. 322.) If it be asked, what is meant, when we say, that the doing of wrong is natural to man; I answer, Thut moral course may be considered, as natural to man, which, without any divine influence on the heart, he generally or universally pursues. That may be considered, as not being natural to man, which, without such influence, he seldom or never pursues. Now, it is the language, both of Jewish and christian scriptures, that holiness, or moral rectitude is the result of divine operation. Jesus said, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God: he informs us afterwards, that to be born again is the same thing, as to be born of God. The alteration expressed by this language, is doubtless of a moral kind. Previously, therefore, to this change, extraneously produced, there is a want of moral qualifications for heaven; i.e. there is a want of piety, a want of real virtue. But, if piety, or real virtue would not exist in the heart, without the agency of God, a want of this quality is natural to man. The term, which Christ used, in his discourse with Nicodemus, is as general, as can be conceived. He does not say, “except a heathen be born again;” nor, “except an extravagant prof. ligate be born again:” but “except any man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Finally, the doctrine in question receives much support from the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. The inspired writer there considers the whole human family, as consisting of those, who are in the flesh, and those, who are in the spirit. The character of the former is, that they mind the things of the flesh; the character of the latter, that they mind the things of the spirit. It is implied further, that all would be of the former description, i. e. all would make the present world, the center of their desires and efforts, were none the subjects of an external influence. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be the spirit of God dwell in you. As many as are led by the spirit, they are the sons of God. But if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. It would be easy to multiply quotations of the same import. Now, when we consider the nature of the christian economy; the object, which it has professedly in view; the passages, already quoted, relating to the character of man; when we consider the testimony of ancient and modern history; the conduct of men, whether civilized or barbarous; whether enveloped in the horrors of Gentile superstition, blest with that partial light, which dawned upon the Jews, or enjoying the unmixed radiance of christianity; when we observe, in a country, professing to acknowledge the divine origin of this light, crimes, various and without number; universal unwillingness to make the Supreme Being the subject of contemplation or discourse: especially when we look into our own hearts, and perceive a perverted taste, aversion from the commands of reason, and the Almighty; conscience asserting the claims of rectitude, and the will pertinaciously
refusing them; when we view all these considerations in their connexion, one with another, is it reasonable to deny the universal, and native depravity of man Though it should be allowed, as doubtless it must, that there are considerable difficulties, attending the doctrine, the denial of it is accompanied by those, which are still greater. May God enable us to seek truth with impartiality, and in all cases to give that degree of assent, which is proportionate to the evidence exhibited.
My present object is, I. Briefly to inquire as to the extent or degree of that corruption, the existence of which, I have before endeavoured to prove : II. To notice some objections to the doctrine in question additional to those, which have been already mentioned: III. Inquire, whether there is any connexion between the sin of our first parents, and the present moral character of their descendants. I. As to the extent or degree of that corruption, the existence of which I have endeavoured to prove. It is not implied, in the remarks which have been made, that the disorders, common to the human heart, are the greatest conceivable. The scriptures, with great clearness and frequency, inform us, that there will be diversity, not only in the rewards, bestowed on the righteous, but in the sufferings, endured by the wicked. Though the wicked will find no period to their punishment, the degree awarded to some, will be less, than that inflicted on others. He, who knows not his Lord's will, and does things worthy of stripes, will be beaten with less severity, than he, who does the same things with more distinct knowledge of his duty. On the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, will doubtless be laid, in the day of judgment, no common burden of infamy and pain; which will, however, be exceeded by theirs, who contemned the personal ministry of Jesus Christ. Punishment will be proportionate to guilt. Therefore, all sinners are not, in the same degree, guilty. But in one particular, there is universal similarity. They are all destitute of that
holiness, or moral goodness, which is implied in love to the Supreme Being. If not, all the difference between those whom God will receive, and those whom he will reject, consists not in the nature of their characters, but in their degrees of goodness. Those, who have much of divine love, will be received, and made eternally glorious; those, who have little of this quality, are made the objects of their Maker's displeasure. Now, it would be quite inconsistent with the general import of scripture, to suppose, that any, who have any sincere affection for their Creator, on account of his moral rectitude, will be treated as incorrigible enemies. But if the moral character of God, is not the object of our love, such love can neither be the foundation of virtue, nor necessarily connected with it. Further: It is asserted by St. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, that they who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans, viii. 8.) What is meant by this term, appears by the connexion, in which it stands. Those to whom this term applies, and those who are led by the spirit, constitute the whole human family. Persons of the latter description, are called the sons of God; and it is said concerning them, that they shall live: Of the others, who live after the flesh, it is said, they shall die. But this assertion is true in relation to all, who are not led by the spirit. Of all such, then it is true, that they cannot please God. Of persons, who have love to the Supreme Being, on account of his holiness, or moral rectitude, this cannot be asserted. Therefore, all, who are not led by the spirit, are destitute of this quality; and consequently of all virtue, of which this quality is the foundation. It is further said, that the carnal mind is enmily against God: that it is not subject to the law of God; neither undeed can be. It cannot be questioned, that the carnal mind is the mind of those, who, agreeably to the apostle's language, are in the flesh. As the apostle must have had some meaning, when he asserted, concerning such persons, that their minds are