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possibility, and therefore a most unreasonable thing; and he is ready, either to dismiss the subject from his thoughts and repose in unconcern, or inwardly accuse and censure God as tyrannical and cruel in His demands. He may sigh and groan over his misfortune, and the misery of his condition, but he has no sense of guilt in his present delay or refusal to repent and turn to God. And the advice, so often furnished to one in this case, which puts him with an impenitent and unbelieving heart, upon the use of the means of grace, as though that will issue in due season in this new creation, is calculated to bind him fast in the damning guilt of unbelief and impenitence. Multitudes dream away a whole life waiting God's time, as they say, to form the new creature within them, and at last sink down to Hell under the awful guilt of a despised gospel and a rejected Saviour. Reader, do you urge this plea ? It is the syren song that will lull your soul asleep till you sink in the arms of death, if you do not turn a deaf ear to all its dulcet notes.
6. We add but another objection, which is, that the idea of a physical regeneration, is suggested by a false assumption with regard to the nature of human depravity. It is taken for granted that the soul of man, in its very physical constitution is corrupt that it is itself simply as a creature anterior to, and irrespective of, all moral exercises whatever, sinful and only sinful. Thence it follows, that before ever it can put forth holy exercises, it must be remodelled, CREATED ANEW, by the same plastic hand of the Great Créator, which, originally, by an act of physical power, gave it being.
Could we resolve the operations of the intellectual and spiritual world into some system of mechanism, then might this idea derive support, as it has done from a sort of mechanical philosophy; but it receives no countenance in the word of Crod, It is, indeed, found involved in the technics of Theologians as suggested by a false philosophy, and has crept into various creeds and confessions of faith, and there lies buried in certain unintelligible and indefinite forms of speech; but it is not taught as a fact revealed to us by the sure and unerring testimony of God. The subject, however, is so very intricate and important, as to require a minute and careful examination, which shall be attempted in the following chapters.
THE FACT AND GENERAL NATURE OF
PERFECTIBILITY claimed for man, without renewing grace-Scripture tes
timony, Eph. iv. 17—19: i. 12: Rom. i. 28–32—This description not exclnsively applicable to the heathen world—Facts noticed-Rom. i. ii. and iii. 9—19~The history of the world—Melancholy exposition of human depravity-Quotation from Dr. Dwight-Attempts to account for human corruption through the influence of example unsatisfactory-Christian example has an irritating effect-Aninquiry as to the nature of depravityWhether selfishness is the essence of sin-There can be no evidence of being savingly interested in the death of Christ, when selfishness prevails—An inquiry why selfishness is sin-Man is at war with the constitution of GodWhat is the nature of selfishness—Various modes of speech with regard to human depravity-The exact point of disputes at present agitated on this subject--Some appropriate cause of human depravity-Traced to the wilful perversion, on the part of man, of God's constitution.
Some votaries of reason and sighing sentimentalists have claimed perfectibility for man, denying his depravity, and rejecting the direct influence which is offered from God, to render him perfect, even as our Father which is in Heaven is perfect. With what degree of truth such things are dune, it may be well to inquire. Correct views, with regard to the fact and nature of human depravity, are indispensably necessary to the right understanding of the doctrine of Regeneration.
So far from man's being the pure and upright being that needs no change, he is described as the enemy of God, and as having all his moral powers in a characteristic and deranged exercise. Mind and heart are alike affect
ed, by the dreadful alienation which has taken place. Thus the apostle Paul in one place describes the unrenewed world as walking "in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart : who, being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness,” and in another place, as "being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise; having no hope, and without God in the world."
In the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans, there is a very full and accurate sketch of the corrupt state of unrenewed men, although it is adapted to the state of society in general, rather than to the circumstances and characteristics of individual corruption; yet it is manifest, that the mass of men-the whole race is depraved, and that this depravity is developed in different individuals, in every variety of corrupt passions, actions and habits. "As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inrentors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful, who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
This description of human depravity, is supposed, by some, to refer to the heathen world, and therefore, it is said, it should be received with considerable allowance, when applied to mankind as modified by christian institutions. It is certain, however, that it is as applicable to the state of society in pagan countries at this day, as it was in the apostle's to pagan Rome—the proud mistress of the world. And even though the influence of christianity may have greatly restrained the exhibitions of human depravity, yet are they to be seen close upon the footsteps of the church of God. All the courts of justice, and all the great principles upon which investigations before them are conducted, are based on the fact, that man is depraved. His word will not be believed, but he must solemnly asseverate on oath. Nor will the oath be admitted, when personal pecuniary interests stand affected. These are the practical comments of men, in their collective wisdom, on the depraved character of individual man.
1. Eph. ir. 17--19.
2. Eph. ii. 12.
3. Rom. i. 28, 32
And such too is the practical comment of men on each other, even when their theories on the subject are directly opposed to it. What are all the impeachments of motiveassigning of false intentions-suspicions-jealousies, and the like, which are so current in society, but manifestations of the practical sense or conviction which is entertained of the universal depravity of man? The truth is, man is a fallen creature, and let him he found where he may, till he is renewed by the Spirit of God, he is under the dominion of depraved affections.
The same apostle who has given us such a melancholy sketch of the moral character and condition of the gentile world, has also given us a full portrait of man by 'nature, when situated under the external influence, and enjoying the advantages, of a clear revelation of the will of God. In his second chapter to the Romans, he proves that Jews, to whom had been committed the oracles of God, and who know his will distinctly, were under the same condemnation with the gentiles; and in the third chapter confirms