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these doctrines. If the truth is the means and the only means by which the Holy Spirit sanctifies the hearts of men, then they can be sanctified no further than they know the truth.
If doctrinal knowledge is the foundation of true religion, then the dissemination of this is the best means of promoting true religion among mankind. It is that without which no other means can be successful. This is that without which men do not know, and cannot know how to be truly pious ; that which presents before them the strongest inducements to become truly pious; and that without which the Holy Spirit never makes them truly pious. Doctrinal knowledge is not, indeed, true religion. It is well known that many have a large share of the former, who are entirely destitute of the latter. But still as this is the means by which the Holy Spirit renews, and sanctifies the hearts of men, there is much more reason to hope that they will become truly religious, if they are acquainted with the doctrines of the Bible, than if they are ignorant of them. Parents, who instruct their chil dren thoroughly in the doctrines of the Bible, have more reason than they could otherwise have, to hope that they will be subjects of grace. Ministers of the gospel, who preach the doctrines plainly and fully to their people, have more reason to expect that true religion will flourish among them, than those can have, who only temporize on this subject. And the Church, when she is the most active in spreading the light of truth through the world, has the fairest prospect of its conversion to God. The circulation of books that contain not genuine Christian doctrine, the labors of missionaries who “shun to declare the whole counsel of God," and religious excitements that are not produced and guided by the light of truth, will all prove useless instruments in the cause of true religion.
The dissemination of doctrinal knowledge is the best means of counteracting the efforts of the enemies of true religion. It is worthy of particular notice that the enemies of religion always level their artillery against the doctrines of the gospel. If they can succeed in refuting these, or bring them into contempt, or even in keeping them concealed from public view, they consider their
work as done. Now with what success can they be met without a thorough knowledge, and a full developement of the doctrines. This knowledge is obviously necessary to prevent people being “ led away by the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive.'
It is equally necessary to qualify individuals to refute, expose, and counteract the errors with which the gospel is assailed.
Christians, in order to be stable, consistent, useful, and happy, must be thoroughly instructed in the doctrines of the Bible. Unless they are able to distinguish truth from falsehood in respect to the great subjects of revelation, they are liable to be “ driven about by every wind of doctrine.” Unless they know what the doctrines of the Bible are, they will often be at a loss with respect to its duties, and this will lead them to act at one time inconsistently with what they do at others. Their wavering opinions and inconsistency of conduct will diminish their influence and consequently their usefulness. As it is through the medium of the doctrines of the Bible, that all the sources of religious consolation are made accessible to creatures, the happiness of Christians must be diminished in proportion to their ignorance of these doctrines.
It is exceedingly inconsistent for any, who profess to be friendly to true religion and desirous of its promotion, to make light of doctrinal knowledge. Their conduct is just like that of a man who is zealously engaged in erecting the superstructure of a magnificent building, while he despises the care and effort necessary to lay a good foundation. It is just as easy to conceive of a building without a foundation, as it is to conceive of true religion without doctrinal knowledge. People might just as well hope to erect a building, without giving themselves the trouble of laying a foundation, as to live in the exercise and practice of true religion, without taking any pains to acquire doctrinal knowledge. They might as well hope that a building erected upon the loose sands of the river's brink, would stand firm and unshaken when the tempest and the flood beat violently against it, as to hope that a religion, which is not based upon the doctrines of the gospel, will stand in the day of trial. They might as well pretend that a deep and solid foundation endangers the superstructure, or diminishes its convenience and
beauty, as to pretend that a full exhibition of the doctrines of the Bible is unfavorable to experimental and practical religion.
THE GOSPEL THE POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION.
What shall the dying sinner do,
How shall we get our crimes forgiven,
This is the pillar of our hope,
Let men or angels dig the mines,
PUBLISHED BY THE
AMERICAN DOCTRINAL TRACT SOCIETY.
PERKINS & MARVIN, AGENTS,
MANKIND UTTERLY DEPRAVED
FALL OF ADAM.
In the Mosaick account of man's formation, it is said that God created him in his own image, after his likeness. That this divine image or likeness impressed upon man, when he came from the forming hand of his Creator, consisted “in righteousness and true holiness," is evident from the scripture, which says, 66 God hath made man upright.” Yet Adam did not retain his original rectitude, as appears from the succeeding clause of the same passage, “but they have sought out many inventions." Man disobeyed his Maker's prohibition. He ate the forbidden fruit. He rose in rebellion against that God who constituted him the public head and representative of his posterity, and suspended their character upon his.
That Adam's race are born into the world sinners, in consequence of his fall, is plainly taught in the oracles of God. There it is said expressly, By one man's disobedience many were made sinners, or as it might have been rendered, were constituted sinners; and, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." In these passages, the fall or first transgression of Adam, and the consequent sinfulness of his posterity, are asserted with such plainness, that no real believer in revelation will ever doubt the truth of the facts. Sin, however, as well as holiness, is strictly personal, and cannot be trans ferred from one to another. By this I mean, that no sin ful act of one person can ever become the sinful act of
another person. Although fallen Adam's posterity are constituted sinners, by means of their connexion with him as their public head; yet his sin is not their sin. And they are sinners, not because they ate the forbidden fruit, but because they transgress the law, as it is said,
all have sinned ;" which is the reason assigned why death has passed upon them all. This is doubtless the true construction ; for God declares, “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die;" and in connexion with this he teaches that no person shall bear the iniquity of another, but only his own; that no person shall be punished for the sin of another, but only for his own sin. Thus it appears, that in consequence of the first offence of the first man, all his descendants have become sinners.
The brief remarks that follow, are designed to show the nature and degree of that sinfulness or moral depravity, of which, as now stated, mankind have become the subjects.
" Sin,” says an apostle, “is the transgression of the law.” This law is that of pure, disinterested love, or charity, the charity which “ seeketh not her own.” The sinfulness of mankind, then, being the opposite of that benevolent love which the divine law requires, must consist primarily in selfishness. Each of them places his supreme affection on himself, or loves himself more than he loves all other beings in the universe, and makes his own interest his supreme object. On this object his whole heart is fixed. With a view to its attainment all his designs are formed. He may have a thousand other objects of desire ; but they are all chosen and sought for the sake of this. This spirit of selfishness pervades the entire mass of mankind by nature. For God's word teaches that they are “ lovers of their own selves," and that they “ all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.” Such is human nature in its fallen state. Hence, they are just as sinful as they are selfish. But their selfishness is entire. They cease not to love and choose their own things with all their heart and strength. This renders all their moral actions wholly sinful. And that the native depravity of mankind is total, the scriptures furnish conclusive evidence. A portion of this evidence will now be exhibited.