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ceptions, through a new sense, or by means of a new fan culty, or instinct, created in the soul, the unregenerate man is no more under obligation to understand and approve of spiritual things, and act accordingly, than the blind man can be, to perceive and understand colors, or the deaf man -sounds. Without the capacity or faculty, requisite to perceive and understand the truth, all moral obligation would cease; and, accordingly, the Saviour has authorized us to believe, that the ignorance and blindness of men, on spirit. wal subjects, is not owing to the destitution of any of the natural faculties or capacities for mental action, employed in the perception of truth. Whatever derangement sin may have produced in our moral nature, one thing is certain it has not robbed us of any distinctive power, or capacity, with which we were originally endowed by our great Cre ator, It is not a necessary consequence of the fall, that any of the natural operations of the human mind should be destroyed. Instances, it is true, do occasionally occur in the case of idiots and lunatics, where the rational powers are withheld, suspended, or not developed, --sad proofs, indeed, of the havoc which sin has made, but not the necessary and infallible consequences of the fall. For, he that would conclude from such facts, that the fall of man has deprived us of any mental faculty, must, by the very same mode of reasoning, infer from the fact of some being born blind, and others being naturally deformed, or deaf mutes, that it has also deprived us of corporeal powers. The absurdity of this last idea is obvious; and, therefore, by a parity of reasoning, we are forbidden to conclude, that the fall has divested the human mind of any of its natural capacities or powers, and, consequently, that illumination no more consists in restoring the lost capacity, than in imparting new. Man is still posessed of all those powers, which are necessary to constitute him a moral agent. To deny this, iş 1o deny buman accountability,
4. Nor does spiritual illumination consist, in removing any natural imbecility of mind, or “depravation of the faculty" of understanding, which may be supposed to prevent the exercise of the intellectual powers, in the perception of spiritual truth. Dr. Owen speaks of "a lwo-fold impotency on the minds of men, with respect to spiritual things. 1. That which immediately affects the mind, a natural impotency, whence it cannot receive them, for want of light in itself. 2. That which affects the mind by the will and affections, a moral impotency, whereby it cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God, because, unalterably, it will not." This is a legitimato inference, from the doctrine of physical depravity. To present truth to the mind of man, thus disabled, would be just as absurd, as to reason with an idiot. If, however, the mind is not physically disabled,created defective, spiritual illumination cannot consist in restoring, by a new creative process, what had not been lost.
5. Neither does illumination consist in any new and peculiar mode of mere intellectual perception of truth. For both the renewed and the unrenewed, possess the same essen. tial capacities, and are governed by the same general laws of thought. And the former, sustaining no change in the essence of their being, nor receiving any superadded facul. ty or sense, their intellectual operations cannot differ, essentially, from those of the latter. How far the exercise of the intellectual powers, on the part of the unrenewed, may be impeded by the corruption of their hearts, is a question we shall not undertake to solve. That in regard of spiritual and moral truth, the perceptions of men of quick understanding have been greatly blunted by the disordered state of their hearts--by the prevalence of corrupt inclinations, is a fact, of which there is abundaat proof. And,
1 Owen on the Spirit, rol. I, p. 417.
inasmuch as almost all our intellectual knowledge has, or may be made to have, some bearing on moral and spiritual things, the man of depraved taste, who is not only destitute of a relish for holiness, but actually disrelishes it, labours under the influence of prejudices, which may, and often do prevent him from perceiving truth perfectly obvious. He is actually, in this state of mind, disqualified for iin partial investigations, so that the very energies of his mind may be employed, in the miserable attempt to confirm and illustrate, what is absolutely false. The apostle has told us, that "the world, by wisdom, knew not God—They became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; prosessing themselves to be wise, they become fools,"l and he gives us the most palpable proof of it in the fact, that they changed the glory of the incorruptible Gor!, into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and to four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” The christian man, whose mind is free from the prejudices against God and holiness, engendered in a depraved heart,' is unquestionably, all other things being equal, more likely to make the most rapid and extensive acquisitions in valuable science. And facts will confirm the assertion. Any advantage, however, which a renewed man may possess, in this respect, is not to be attributed to the removal of any constitutional or peculiar obliquity, or imbecility of intellect, but to the healthful exercise of all the moral powers, secured by the Spirit of Life. The advantage, in respect of moral and divine truth, is undeniable.
But this is not owing to any thing in the truths of the Bible, beyond the natural capacities of the human mind, or requiring peculiar modes of intellectual perception. We are distinctly told, that, as it regards the great truths of the Bible, “the way-faring men, though fools, shall not err therein." The law of the Lord is declared to be perfect and right, making wise the simple,” and “enlightening the eyes."?? It is true, that it discloses to our view a variety of facts, which are altogether mysterious and inexplicable, and which never could have been conceived of by the human mind, if they had not been made known to us. But the doctrines, i. e. the propositions founded on these facis, are just as intelligible, as are any advanced in elementary 1rcatises in the sciences. Nay, in this respect, the Bible claims superiority to all the writings of men.
1. Rom. i, 21--23.
Iis mysteries are not more inexplicable, than are some of the facts, on which mathematical reasoning is based, or, than the innumerable phenomena on which the doctrines of chemistry and natural philosophy rest. He that can comprehend the axioms of the former, is capable of appreheoding the doctrines of Revelation. We do not say the fuct; and hence we find many, who, with but little mental cultivation, have been able to understand and discuss all the doctrines generally comprised in a system of the vlogy, and who could never perhaps be made to comprehend a single proposition of Euclid. We now speak of mere scientific, or intellectual acquaintance with the truths of Scripture, by those that are confessedly unrenewed. The fact is not to be disputed, that multitudes, who give no evidence whatever of a saving illumination, understand the doctrines of revelation-which fact farnishes strong and incontestible proof, that there is nothing in them which transcends the natural capacities of the human mind; and consequently, that, in whatever spiritual illumination may consist, it is not, in any peculiar modes of intellectual perception of truth,
Yet there is no denying the fact, that human corruption impedes the pereeptions of the understanding. We have
1. Isai, xstr.8. 2. Lisailing in
a striking example of this sort proposed in the case of Christ's hearers. They seemed to labour under some great and pressing difficulty,—something, which, as it were, blinded their minds, and rendered it impossible for them to understand Him. “Why do ye not understand my speech, even because ye cannot hear my words.":1 But alas! they are not the only example! How many sit under the preaching of the Gospel for years, and remain utterly ignorant of its grand and peculiar truths! They have eyes, but see not--minds, but they perceive not, and seem to be illustrations of the dreadful scntence of Heaven,--" It is a people of no understanding, therefore, He that made them, will not have mercy upon them, and He that formed them, will show them no favour." ? But these facts no more prove that men are destitute of intellectual capacities to perceive the truth, than does the stupidity of one and another with regard to the process of mathematical analysis, prove the human mind to be destitute of a capacity for the apprehension of such truth. It is not only in respect of sc:iptural truth, that ihe perceptions of the mind, are impaired by the corruption of the heart. Passion, and prejudice, and various sinful affections, have an injurious influence on it, even in respect of those subjects which are properly intellectual and scientific.
The Saviour has Himself anticipated and answered tho inquiry, whence arises the difficulty in apprehending the truth by the unrenewed mind. When He said of those whom He addressed, that they could not hear His words, and assigned that as the reason of their not understanding his speech, he certainly did not mean to say, that they could not perceive the sound of His voice through the external sense of hearing. They were not deaf. By hear
1. JO!1, rin. 43.
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