THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF IMPUTED SIN AND RIGHTEOUSNESS.
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“1. SIN is ‘a transgression of the law;’ of that law of God to which a rational creature is subject. ‘Righteousness’ is a fulfillment of, or conformity to, that law. This is the proper scriptural sense of the words. But as sin involves the creature in guilt, that is, a liableness to punishment, the same words are often used to denote either sin itself, or guilt and punishment. On the other hand, righteousness denotes, not only a fulfilling of the law, but also a freedom from guilt and punishment; yea, and sometimes all the rewards of righteousness.” (Pages 1,2.)
“Accordingly, to impute sin, is either to impute sin itself; or guilt on the account of it. To impute sin itself to a person, is to account him a transgressor of the law, to pronounce him such, or to treat him as a transgressor. To impute guilt to a person, is to account him obnoxious to a threatened punishment, to pronounce him so, or to inflict that punishment. So, to impute righteousness, properly so called, is to account him a fulfiller of the law, to pronounce him so to be, and to treat him as righteous. And to impute righteousness, as opposed to guilt, is to account, to pronounce, and to treat him as guiltless. “Thus much is agreed. But the point in question is, ‘Does God impute no sin or righteousness but what is personal?’ Dr. Taylor positively asserts, he does not. I undertake to prove that he does; that he imputes Adam’s first sin to all mankind, and our sins to Christ.” (Page 5.)
“1. God imputes Adam’s first sin to all mankind. I do not mean that the actual commission of it was imputed to any beside himself; (it was impossible it should;) nor is the guilt of it imputed to any of his descendants, in the full latitude of it, or in regard to its attendant circumstances. It constitutes none of them equally guilty with him. Yet both that sin itself, and a degree of guilt on account of it, are imputed to all his posterity; the sin itself is imputed to them, as included in their head. And on this account, they are reputed guilty, are ‘children of wrath,’ liable to the threatened punishment. And this cannot be denied, supposing,
(1.) Man’s original righteousness:
(2.) Adam’s being the federal head of all mankind.” (Page 6.)
(1.) Man’s original righteousness has been largely proved. Let me add only an argument ad hominem . Supposing (not granting) that the Son of God is no more than the first of creatures, either he was originally righteous, or he was not. If he was not, then time was when he was not ‘the Holy One of God;’ and possibly he never might have been such, no, nor righteous at all; but instead of that, as ungodly, guilty, and wretched, as the devil himself is. For the best creature is (Dr. Taylor grants) alterable for the worst; and the best, when corrupted, becomes the worst. Again: If the Son of God was a mere creature, and as such made without righteousness, (which every creature must be, according to Dr. Taylor,) then he was not, could not be, at first as righteous, as like God, as the holy angels are now, yea, or as any holy man on earth is. But if these suppositions are shockingly absurd; if the Son of God could not have become as bad as the devil; if he never was unrighteous; if he was not originally less holy than angels and men are now; then the assertion, ‘that righteousness must be the effect of a creature’s antecedent choice and endeavor,’ falls to the ground.” (Pages, 7, 9,10.)
“But the Hebrew word jasher , Dr. Taylor says, ‘does not generally signify a moral character.’ This is one of the numerous critical mistakes in this gentleman’s books. Of the more than one hundred and fifty tests in which jasher , or the substantive josher , occurs, there are very few which do not confirm our interpretation of Ecclesiastes 7:29 ‘But jasher is applied to various things not capable of moral action.’ It is; and what then? Many of these applications are neither for us, nor against us. Some make strongly for us; as when it is applied to the words or ways of God and man. But the question now is, what it signifies when applied to God or to moral agents, and that by way of opposition to a vicious character and conduct. Is it not, in the text before us, applied to man as a moral agent, and by way of opposition to a corrupt character and conduct? No man can deny it. Either, therefore, prove, that jasher , when opposed, as here, to a corrupt conduct and character, does not signify righteous, or acknowledge the truth, that God ‘created man upright,’ or righteous.” (Page 11.)
“To evade the argument from Ephesians 4:24, Dr. Taylor first says, ‘The old man means a heathenish life;’ and then says, ‘The old and new man do not signify a course of life.’ What then do they signify? Why, ‘The old man ,’ says he, ‘relates to the Gentile state; and the new man is either the Christian state, or the Christian Church, body, society.’ But for all this, he says again, a page or two after, ‘The old and new man , and the new man’s being renewed, and the renewing of the Ephesians, do all manifestly refer to their Gentile state and wicked course of life, from which they were lately converted.’ “When, then, the Apostle says, ‘Our old man is crucified with’ Christ, ( Romans 6:6) is it the Gentile state or course of life which was so crucified? No; but the corrupt nature, ‘the body of sin,’ as it is termed in the same verse. And ‘to put off the old man,’ is, (according to St. Paul,) ‘to crucify’ this ‘with its affections and desires.’ On the other hand, to ‘put on the new man,’ is to cultivate the divine principle which is formed in the soul of every believer by the Spirit of Christ. It is this of which it is said,
(i.) It is created; and in regard to it we are said to be ‘created unto good works.’
(ii.) It is renewed; for it is indeed no other than original righteousness restored.
(iii.) It is after God, after his image and likeness, now stamped afresh on the soul.
(iv.) It consists in righteousness and holiness, or that knowledge which comprehends both.” (Pages 13, 14.)
“Again: To that argument, ‘Either man at first loved God, or he was an enemy to God,’ Dr. Taylor gives only this slight, superficial answer: ‘Man could not love God before he knew him;’ without vouchsafing the least notice of the arguments which prove, that man was not created without the knowledge of God. Let him attend to those proofs, and either honestly yield to their force, or, if he is able, fairly confute them. The doctrine of original sin presupposes, — “
(2.) Adam’s being the federal head of all mankind. Several proofs of this having been given already, I need not produce more until those are answered. “2. God imputes our sins or the guilt of them, to Christ. He consented to be responsible for them, to suffer the punishment due for them. This sufficiently appears from Isaiah 53, which contains a summary of the Scripture doctrine upon this head. ‘He hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows.’ The word nasa (born) signifies,
(1.) To take up somewhat, as on one’s shoulders:
(3.) To take away : And in all these senses it is here applied to the Son of God. He carried, as a strong man does a heavy burden, (the clear, indisputable sense of the other word, sabal ,) our sorrows; the suffering of various kinds which were due to our sins. ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities.’ Wounds and bruises are put for the whole of his sufferings; as his death and blood frequently are. He was wounded and bruised, not for sins of his own; not merely to show God’s hatred of sin; not chiefly to give us a pattern of patience; but for our sins, as the proper, impulsive cause. Our sins were the procuring cause of all his sufferings. His sufferings were the penal effects of our sins. ‘The chastisement of our peace,’ the punishment necessary to procure it, ‘was’ laid ‘on him,’ freely submitting thereto: ‘And by his stripes’ (a part of his sufferings again put for the whole) ‘we are healed;’ pardon, sanctification, and final salvation, are all purchased and bestowed upon us. Every chastisement is for some fault. That laid on Christ was not for his own, but ours; and was needful to reconcile an offended Lawgiver, and offending guilty creatures, to each other. So ‘the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all;’ that is, the punishment due to our iniquity.” (Pages 16-20.)
“It is true, as Dr. Taylor says, ‘sin and iniquity often signify affliction or suffering.’ But why? Because it is usual for a cause to give denomination to its effect. And so the consequences of sin are called by the same name. But this rather hurts Dr. Taylor’s cause than helps it. For sufferings could with no propriety be called sin, if they were not the proper effects of it. Man, in innocence, was liable to do suffering or sorrow; he was indeed tried, but not by suffering. All sorrow was introduced by sin; and if man is ‘born to trouble,’ it is because he is born ‘in sin.’ God indeed does afflict his children for their good; and turns even death into a blessing. Yet as it is the effect of sin, so is it in itself an enemy to all mankind; nor would any man have been either tried or corrected by affliction, had it not been for sin.” (Pages 21, 22.)
“The Lord’s laying on Christ ‘the iniquity of us all,’ was eminently typified by the High Priest putting all the iniquities of Israel on the scapegoat, who then carried them away. ‘But the goat,’ says Dr. Taylor, ‘was to suffer nothing.’ This is a gross mistake. It was a ‘sin-offering,’ (Verse 5,) and, as such, was to ‘bear upon him all the iniquities’ of the people into the wilderness; and there (as the Jewish doctors unanimously hold) to suffer a violent death, by way of punishment, instead of the people, for their sins ‘put upon him.’ Yet Dr. Taylor says, ‘Here was no imputation of sin.’ No! What is the difference between imputing sins, and putting them upon him? This is just of a piece with, ‘A sin offering that suffered nothing;’ a creature ‘turned loose into a land the properest for its subsistence,’ while bearing upon him all the iniquities of God’s people!” (Pages 23-25.)
“Thus ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.’ Dr. Taylor, when he wrote his late books, was not apprised of the usual scripture meaning of this awful word, curse . It is often put to signify the legal punishment of sin. What the law of God threatens against transgressors, or the threatening itself, is frequently called by this name. What signifies then his trifling observation, ‘that God inflicted no curse on our first parents?’ ( Genesis 3:16-18) that is, he did not say, in so many words, ‘Cursed art thou, O man,’ or ‘O woman.’ But God’s cursing the ground for man’s sake, was really a curse pronounced against him; and what the Lord said to the woman was really a curse, a penalty legally inflicted on her. For God is then said to curse, when he either threatens to punish, or actually punishes, his creatures for sin. See Deuteronomy 27:15, etc.; 28:16, etc.; Jeremiah 17:5; Zechariah 5:3.” (Pages 39, 40.)
“To conclude: Either we must allow the imputation of Adam’s sin, whatever difficulties attend it, or renounce justification by Christ, and salvation through the merit of his blood. Accordingly, the Socinians do this. Whether Dr. Taylor does, let every thinking man judge, after having weighed what he writes, particularly at pages 72, 73, of his ‘Scripture Doctrine.’ ‘The worthiness of Christ is his consummate virtue. It is virtue that carrieth every cause in heaven. Virtue is the only price which purchaseth everything with God. True virtue, or the right exercise of reason, is true worth, and the only valuable consideration, the only power which prevails with God.’ These passages are indeed connected with others, which carry with them a show of ascribing honor to Christ and grace. But the fallacy lies open to every careful, intelligent, unprejudiced reader. He ascribes to Christ a singular worthiness; but it is nothing more than superior degree of the same kind of worthiness which belongs to every virtuous man. He talks of Christ’s consummate virtue, or his obedience to God, and good will to man. And to this virtue of his, as imitated by us, he would teach us to ascribe our acceptance with God; which is indeed to ascribe it to ourselves, or to our own virtue; to works of righteousness done by us, in direct opposition to the whole tenor of the gospel. To what dangerous lengths are men carried by an ignorance of God, as infinitely holy and just; by a fond conceit of their own abilities, and a resolved opposition to the doctrine of original sin! Rather than allow this, they renounce Christ as the meritorious procurer of salvation for sinners. They may seem, indeed, to acknowledge him as such, and talk of ‘eternal life as given by God through his Son.’ But all this is mere show, and can only impose on the ignorant and unwary. They dare not profess, in plain terms, that Christ has merited salvation for any; neither can they consistently allow this, while they deny original sin.” (Pages 80, 81.)
“Let not any, then, who regard their everlasting interests, entertain or even tamper with doctrines which, how plausibly soever recommended, are contrary to many express texts, nay, to the whole tenor of Scripture, and which cannot be embraced without renouncing an humble dependence on Christ, and rejecting the gospel method of salvation.” (Page 82.)
“God grant every reader of this plain treatise may not only be convinced of the truth and importance of the scripture doctrines maintained therein, but invincibly confirmed in his attachments to them, by an experimental knowledge of their happy influence on faith.; holiness, and comfort! Then shall we gladly say, We, who are made sinners by the disobedience of Adam, are made righteous by the obedience of Christ. His righteousness entitles us to a far better inheritance than that we lost in Adam. In consequence of being justified through him, we shall ‘reign in life’ with him. Unto whom, with God the Father, and the sanctifying, comforting spirit, be ascribed all praise forever!” (Page 83.)
THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN EXPLAINED AND VINDICATED.
“THE phrase, original sin so far as we can discover, was first used in the fourth century. The first who used it was either St. Chrysostom, or Hillary, some of whose words are these: ‘The Psalmist says, Behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother conceive me. He acknowledges that he was born under original sin and the law of sin.’ Soon after Hillary’s time, St. Augustine, and other Christian writers, brought it into common use.”(Pages 2, 3.)
“The scriptural doctrine of original sin may be comprised in the following propositions: — “I. Man was originally made righteous or holy. “II. That original righteousness was lost by the first sin. “III. Thereby man incurred death of every kind; for, — “IV. Adam’s first sin was the sin of a public person, one whom God had appointed to represent all his descendants. “V. Hence all these are from their birth ‘children of wrath,’ void of all righteousness, and propense to sin of all sorts. “I add, VI. This is not only a truth agreeable to Scripture and reason, but a truth of the utmost importance, and one to which the Churches of Christ, from the beginning, have born a clear testimony.” (Page 8.)
I. “Man was originally made righteous or holy; formed with such a principle of love and obedience to his Maker as disposed and enabled him to perform the whole of his duty with ease and pleasure. This has been proved already; and this wholly overturns Dr. Taylor’s fundamental aphorism, ‘Whatever is natural is necessary, and what is necessary is not sinful.’ For if man was originally righteous or holy, we may argue thus: It was at first natural to man to love and obey his Maker; yet it was not necessary; neither as necessary is opposed to voluntary or free; (for he both loved and obeyed freely and willingly;) nor, as necessary means unavoidable; (this is manifest by the event;) no, nor as necessary is opposed to rewardable; for had he continued to love and obey, he would have been rewarded with everlasting happiness. Therefore that assertion, ‘Whatever is natural is necessary,’ is palpably, glaringly false; consequently, what is natural, as well as what is acquired, may be good or evil, rewardable or punishable.” (Page 10.)
“Man’s original righteousness was lost by the first sin. Though he was made righteous, he was not made immutable. He was free to stand or fall. And he soon fell, and lost at once both the favor and image of God. This fully appears, 1. From the account which Moses gives of our first parents, where we read,
(1.) ‘The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked;’ ( Genesis 3) that is, they were conscious of guilt, and touched with a pungent sense of their folly and wickedness. They began to find their nakedness irksome to them, and to reflect on it with sinful emotions of soul.
(2.) Immediately they were indisposed for communion with God, and struck with such a dread of him as could not consist with true love. (Verse 8.)
(3.) When questioned by God, how do they prevaricate, instead of confessing their Sin and humbly imploring forgiveness! which proves, not only their having sinned, but their being as yet wholly impenitent.
(4.) The judgment passed upon them was a proof of their being guilty in the sight of God. Thus was man’s original righteousness lost; thus did he fall both from the favor and image of God.” (Pages 14, 15.)
“This appears, 2. From the guilt which inseparably attends every transgression of the divine law. I say, every transgression; because every sin virtually contains all sin; for ‘whosoever keepeth the whole law, and offendeth in one point, he is guilty of all.’ Every single offense is a virtual breach of all the commands of God. There is in every particular sin, the principle of all sin; namely, the contempt of that sovereign authority which is equally stamped upon every command. When, therefore, our first parents ate the forbidden fruit, they not only violated a particular precept, but the entire law of God. They could not sin in one instance, without virtually transgressing the whole law of their creation; which being once done, their title to God’s favor and their original righteousness were both lost.” (Page 16.)
“This appears, 3. From the comprehensive nature and aggravating circumstances of the first transgression. For it implied,
(1.) Unbelief: Man did not dare to break the divine command till he was brought to question the truth of the divine threatening.
(3.) Ingratitude: For what a return did they hereby make to their Creator for all his benefits!
(4.) Pride and ambition; affecting to be ‘as gods, knowing good and evil.’
(5.) Sensuality: The woman looked upon the fruit with an irregular appetite. Here the conflict between reason and sense began. To talk of such a conflict in man before he fell is to represent him as in a degree sinful and guilty even while innocent. For conflict implies opposition; and an opposition of appetite to reason is nothing else than a repugnance to the law of God. But of this our first parents were no way guilty, till their innocence was impaired; till they were led by the temptation of the devil to desire the forbidden fruit.
(6.) Robbery: For the fruit was none of theirs. They had no manner of right to it. Therefore their taking it was a flat robbery of God; which cannot be less criminal than robbing our fellow creatures. So comprehensive was the nature, so aggravated be circumstances, of man’s first transgression.” (Pages 17, 18.)
“Hereby he incurred death of every kind; not only temporal, but also spiritual and eternal. By losing his original righteousness, he became not only mortal as to his body, but also spiritually dead, dead to God, dead in sin; void of that principle which St. Paul terms, ‘the life of God;’ ( Ephesians 4:18) St. John, ‘eternal life abiding in us.’ ( 1 John 3:15) A creature formed with a capacity of knowing, loving, and serving God, must be either ‘dead in sin,’ or ‘alive to God.’ Adam in his primitive state, was ‘alive to God;’ but after he had sinned, dead in sin, as well as dead in law.” (Page 20.)
“But Dr. Taylor is sure, only temporal death was to be the consequence of his disobedience. ‘For death is the loss of life, and must be understood according to the nature of the life to which it is opposed.’ Most true; and the life to which it is here opposed, the life Adam enjoyed, till lost by sin, was not only bodily life, but that principle of holiness which the Scripture terms, ‘the life of God.’ It was also a title to eternal life. All this, therefore, he lost by sin. And that justly; for ‘death is the’ due ‘wages of sin;’ death, both temporal, spiritual, and eternal.” (Page 21.)
“Adam’s first sin was the sin of a public person, — one whom God had appointed to represent all his descendants. “This also has been proved. In one sense, indeed, Adam’s sin was not ours. It was not our personal fault, our actual transgression. But in another sense it was ours; it was the sin of our common representative: And, as such, St. Paul shows it is imputed to us and all his descendants. Hence, — V. “All these are from their birth ‘children of wrath;’ void of all righteousness, and propense to sin of all sorts. “In order to clear and confirm this proposition, I intend, “1. To consider a text which proves original sin in the full extent of it. “2. To explain some other texts, which relate either to the guilt or the corruption we derive from our first parents. “3. To add some arguments which Dr. Taylor has taken no notice of, or touched but very slightly. “4. To answer objections. “And, 1. To consider that text, ‘And were by nature children of wrath, even as others.’ ( Ephesians 2:3) In the beginning of the chapter, St. Paul puts the Ephesians in mind of what God had done for them. This led him to observe what they had been before their conversion to God: They had been ‘dead in trespasses and sins;’ but were now ‘quickened,’ made alive to God. They had ‘walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh with energy in the children of disobedience.’ ‘Among such,’ saith the Apostle, ‘we all had our conversation in times past;’ the whole time before our conversion; ‘fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature children of wrath, even as others.’ On this I observe, — “
(1.) The persons spoken of are both the believing Ephesians and the Apostle himself. For he says not, ‘Ye were,’ speaking in the second person, as he had done, verses 1, 2; but, ‘We were,’ — plainly with a design the more expressly to include himself. Indeed, had he still spoken in the second person, yet what is here affirmed would have been true of him as well as them. But for the sake of more explicitly including himself, he chose to say, ‘We were;’ — you, Ephesians, who were descended of heathen parents, and I who was born in the visible Church. “
(3.) ‘Children of wrath,’ is an Hebraism, and denotes persons worthy of, or liable to, wrath. And this implies the being sinners; seeing sin only exposes us to God’s displeasure and the dreadful effects of it. “
(4.) This charge the Apostle fixes on himself and them, as they had been before their conversion. He does not say, We are, but ‘we were, children of wrath.’ (Page 29.)
(5.) He speaks of himself and the converted Ephesians as having been so equally with others. There is an emphasis on the words, ‘even as others;’ even as the stubborn Jews and idolatrous Heathens; even as all who are still ‘strangers and enemies ‘to Christ. These are still s children of wrath: ‘But whatever difference there is between us and them, we were once what they are now. “
(6.) He expressly says, ‘We were children of wrath even as others, by nature,’ or, from our birth. He does not say, We became so by education, or by imitation, or by custom in sinning; but, to show us when it is that we commence sinners, by what means we become ‘children of wrath,, whence it is that we are so prone to evil from our infancy and to imitate bad rather than good examples, he says, ‘We were children of wrath by nature;’ we were born fallen creatures; we came into the world sinners, and, as such, liable to wrath, in consequence of the fall of our first father. “But, it is affirmed
(i.) That ‘by nature means, by habit or custom.’ I answer, Though the term, nature , with some qualifying expression annexed, is sometimes taken for inveterate custom, yet it is never so taken when put singly, without any such qualifying expression. When, therefore, the Apostle says absolutely, ‘We are children of wrath by nature,’ this, according to the constant sense of the words, Drust mean, We were so from our birth.” (Page 31.)
“It is affirmed,
(ii.) That ‘because the original words stand thus, tekna fusei orghv , children by nature of wrath ; therefore, children by nature means only truly and really children of wrath.’ I answer, The consequence is good for nothing: For let the words stand as they will, it is evident that tekna fusei are, children by birth ; or, such as are born so, in distinction from those who became such afterward. “It is affirmed,
(iii.) ‘That fusei, by nature , signifies no more than truly or really .’ I answer, First, It is not allowed, that any good Greek writers ever use the word in this sense. Secondly, Whatever others do, the writers of the New Testament always use it in another sense. So Galatians 2:15: ‘We who are Jews by nature,’ fusei Ioudaioi ; that is, We who are born Jews , in contradistinction to proselytes. ‘Ye did service to them which by nature are no gods;’ ( Galatians 4:8) mh fusei ousi qeoiv persons or things which are partakers of no divine nature . ‘The Gentiles do by nature the things contained in the law;’ ( Romans 2:14) that is, by their own natural powers, without a written law. Neither here, nor anywhere else, does the word fusei signify no more than really or truly .” (Page 32.)
“It remains, then, that the word which we render by nature does really so signify. “And yet it is allowed, we are not so guilty by nature, as a course of actual sin afterward makes us. But we are, antecedent to that course, ‘children of wrath;’ liable to some degree of wrath and punishment. Here, then, from a plain text, taken in its obvious sense, we have a clear evidence both of what Divines term, original sin imputed, and of original sin inherent. The former is the sin of Adam, so far reckoned ours as to constitute us in some degree guilty; the latter, a want of original righteousness, and a corruption of nature; whence it is, that from our infancy we are averse to what is good, and propense to what is evil.” (Page 33.)
“I am, 2. To explain some other texts which relate either to the guilt or the corruption which we derive from our first parents. “ Genesis 5:3: Here the image of Adam, in which he begat a son after his fall, stands opposed to the image of God, in which man was at first created. Moses had said, ‘In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him.’ (Verse 1) In this, speaking of Adam as he was after the fall, he does not say, He begat a son in the likeness of God; but, He ‘begat a son in his own likeness, after his image.’ Now, this must refer to Adam, either as a man, or as a good man, or as a mortal, sinful man. But it could not refer to him merely as a man. The inspired writer could not design to inform us, that Adam begat a man, not a lion, or a horse. It could not well refer to him as a good man; for it is not said, Adam begat a son, who at length became pious like himself; but, He ‘begat a son in his own likeness’ It refers to him, therefore, as a mortal, sinful man; giving us to know, that the mortality and corruption contracted by the fall descended from Adam to his son: Adam, a sinner, begat a sinner like himself. And if Seth was thus a sinner by nature, so is every other descendant of Adam.” (Pages 35, 36.) “Dr. Taylor takes no notice of the antithesis between ‘the likeness of God,’ (Verse 1) and ‘the likeness of Adam:’ (Verse 3) On the other hand, he speaks of these two as one; as if Seth had been ‘born’ in the very same image of God wherein Adam was ‘made.’
But this cannot be admitted; because Adam had now lost his original righteousness. It must therefore be ‘the likeness’ of fallen, corrupted Adam which is here intended. “‘And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’ ( Genesis 6:5) Here Moses, having observed, as the cause of the flood, that ‘God saw that the wickedness of man was great,’ to account for this general wickedness, adds, ‘Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil;’ yea, was ‘only evil,’ and that ‘continually.’ The heart of man is here put for his soul. This God had formed with a marvelous thinking power. But so is his soul debased, that ‘every imagination,’ figment, formation, ‘of the thoughts’ of it, ‘is evil,’ only evil, ‘continually’ evil.
Whatever it forms within itself, as a thinking power, is an evil formation. This Moses spoke of the Antediluvians; but we cannot confine it to them. If all their actual wickedness sprung from the evil formations of their corrupt heart; and if consequently they were sinners from the birth, so are all others likewise.” (Page 37.)
“‘I will not again curse the ground anymore for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing.’ ( Genesis 8:21) I will not be provoked to this by the wickedness of mankind; for they are inclined to sin from their childhood. Was I, therefore, to do this as often as they deserve, I must be continually destroying the earth. The word ( rxy ) — imagination — (as was observed before) includes the thoughts, affections, inclinations, with everything which the son, as a thinking being, forges and frames within itself.
And the word we render youth , includes childhood and infancy, the earliest age of man; the whole time from his birth, or (as others affirm) from his formation in the womb. “Indeed Dr. Taylor would translate the text, ‘Although the imagination of man’s heart should be evil from his youth.’ But,
(1.) Though the particle ( yk ) sometimes signifies although ; yet for is its common meaning. And we are not to recede from the usual signification of a word without any necessity.
(2.) If we read although it will not at all invalidate our proof. For still the plain meaning of the words would be, ‘I will not send another general flood, although every figment or formation of the heart of every man is evil from his earliest infancy.’” (Page 39.)
For what reason, but to show that these two, ‘sin’ and ‘affliction,’ are inseparable? Sin is the cause of affliction; and affliction, of whatever kind, is the genuine effect of sin. Indeed it is incompatible with the justice and mercy of God to appoint afflictions of any kind for the innocent. If Christ suffered, it was because the sins of others were imputed to him. If, then, every one of the posterity of Adam ‘is born to trouble,’ it must be because he is born a sinner:
For man was not originally made to suffer. Nor while he preserved his innocence was he liable to suffering of any kind. Are the angels, or any pure, sinless creatures, liable to any sorrow or affliction?
Surely no. But every child of Adam is. And it is in consequence of his sin, that the present life of man is short and affective; of which the very Heathens were deeply sensible. They also saw, that ‘great travail is created for every man, and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam, from the day that they go out of their mother’s womb, till the day that they return to the mother of all things.’” (Page 40.)
“‘Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt;’ ( Job 11:12) in the original, ‘though man be born’ (will be born in every age) ‘the colt of a wild ass.’ Dr. Taylor owns, ‘We are born quite ignorant.’ But this is far from reaching the plain import of the text, in which man, as born into the world, is compared to an animal most remarkably stupid and intractable.
And such all the sons of Adam naturally are, particularly with regard to the things of God; from their infancy slow to learn what is good, though impetuously propense to learn and practice what is evil.” (Pages 43, 44.) “ Job 14:4, and 15:14. I join these, because the latter confirms the former. ‘Who can bring a clean thing,’ or person, ‘out of an unclean? Not one.’ This is express. Job had been reflecting on the sorrowful, uncertain, imperfect state of all Adam’s children in the present world. (14:1-3) Then he carries his thoughts to the spring of such a state, the original corruption of man. ‘Who,’ what creature, can make an innocent, righteous person proceed from a parent defiled by sin? ‘Not one.’ Through the whole Scripture we may observe, ‘sin’ is described as ‘uncleanness,’ and a sinner as an unclean thing. On the contrary, holiness is expressed by ‘cleanness’ of heart and hands; and the righteous man is described as clean. Agreeably to which, the text asserts the natural impossibility of any man’s being born clean, guiltless, and sinless, because he proceeds from them who are unclean, guilty, and defiled with sin. “The Septuagint translate the text, ‘Who shall be clean from filth?
Not one; even though his life on earth be a single day.’ And this rendering, though not according to the Hebrew, is followed by all the Fathers; and shows what was the general belief of the Jews be fore Christ came into the world.” “‘But since the heavens and stars are represented as not clean , compared to God, may not man also be here termed unclean, only as compared with him?’ I answer,
(2.) When ‘the heavens’ and man’ are mentioned in the same text, and man is set forth as ‘unclean,’ his ‘uncleanness’ is expressed by his being ‘unrighteous;’ and that always means guilty or sinful. Nor, indeed, is the innocent frailty of mankind ever in Scripture termed ‘uncleanness.”’ (Pages 45,46.) “‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ ( Psalm 51:5) The Psalmist here confesses, bewails, and condemns himself for his natural corruption, as that which principally gave birth to the horrid sins with which he had been overtaken. ‘Behold!’ He prefixes this to render his confession the more remarkable, and to show the importance of the truth here declared: ‘I was shapen;’ this passive verb denotes somewhat in which neither David nor his parents had any active concern: ‘In’ or with ‘iniquity, and in’ or with ‘sin did my mother conceive me.’
The word which we render ‘conceive,’ signifies properly, to warm , or to cherish by warmth . It does not, therefore, so directly refer to the act of conceiving as to the cherishing what is conceived till the time of its birth. But either way the proof is equally strong for the corruption of mankind from their first existence.” (Pages 47, 48.) “‘The wicked are estranged from the womb: They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.’ ‘They are estranged from the womb;’ ( Psalm 58:3,4) strangers and averse to true, practical religion, from the birth. ‘They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.’ Not that they actually speak lies as soon as they are born; but they naturally incline that; way, and discover that inclination as early as is possible.” (Pages 51, 52.) “‘Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.’ ( Proverbs 22:15) ‘The rod and reproof give wisdom: But a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.’ ( 29:15) These passages put together are a plain testimony of the inbred corruption of young children. ‘Foolishness,’ in the former, is not barely ‘appetite, or a want of the knowledge attainable by instruction.’ Neither of these deserve that sharp correction. But it is an indisposedness to what is good, and a strong propensity to evil. This ‘foolishness is bound in the heart of a child;’ it is rooted ill his inmost nature. It is, as it were, ‘fastened to him by strong cords;’ so the original word signifies.
From this corruption of heart in is very child it is, that the ‘rod of correction’ is necessary to give him ‘wisdom:’ Hence it is, that ‘a child left to himself,’ without correction, ‘brings his mother to shame.’ If a child were born equally inclined to virtue and vice, why should the wise man speak of foolishness, or wickedness, as fastened so closely to his heart? And why should ‘the rod and reproof ‘be so necessary for him?’ These texts, therefore, are another clear proof of the corruption of human nature. “‘Those things which proceed out of the mouth, come from the heart, and they defile the man. For from within, out of the heart, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, murders: — All these things come from, within, and defile the man.’ ( Matthew 15:18 19; Mark 7:20-23) Our Lord here teaches, that all evil thoughts, words, and actions, of every kind, flow out of the heart, the soul of man, as being now averse to all good, and inclined to all evil.” (Pages 55, 56.) “ Romans 5:12-19. Let the reader please to read the whole passage very carefully. The Apostle here discourses of Adam and Christ as two representatives or public persons, comparing the ‘sin’ of the one, with the ‘righteousness’ of the other.” (Page 66.)
“On this I observe, “
(1.) The ‘one man,’ spoken of throughout, is Adam, the common head of mankind: And to him (not to the devil or Eve) the Apostle ascribes the introduction of ‘sin’ and ‘death.’ The devil was the first sinner, and Eve, seduced by him, sinned before her husband. Yet the Apostle saith, ‘By one man sin entered into the world; through the offense of one many are dead; the judgment was by one to condemnation; death reigned by one. By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men; by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.’ Now, why should the Apostle lay all this on Adam, whose sin was posterior both to the devil’s and Eve’s, if Adam was not appointed by God the federal head of mankind? In regard to which the Apostle points at him singly, as the type or ‘figure of Him that was to come.’ According to Dr. Taylor’s doctrine, he should rather have said, ‘By the devil sin entered into the world;’ or, ‘Through the disobedience of Eve, many were made sinners.’ But, instead of this he likes on our first father alone, as bringing sin and death on all his posterity.’” (Page 67.)
(2.) ‘The sin, transgression, offense, disobedience,’ here spoken of, was Adam’s eating the forbidden fruit. It is remarkable, that as the Apostle throughout his discourse arraigns one man only, so he ascribes all the mischief done to one single offense of that one man. And as he then stood in that special relation of federal as well as natural head to his descendants, so upon his committing that one sin, this special relation ceased. “
(3.) The ‘all,’ (Verses 12, 18) and the ‘many,’ (Verses 15,19) are all the natural descendants of Adam; equivalent with ‘the world,’ (Verse 12) which means the inhabitants of it.” (Page 69.)
(4.) The effects of Adam’s sin on his descendants, the Apostle reduces to two heads, sin and death. ‘By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for that all have sinned.’ ‘Sin’ sometimes means ‘punishment;’ but not here: ‘Sin’ and ‘death’ are here plainly distinguished. The common translation is therefore right, and gives us the true meaning, of the words. ‘Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned;’ namely, in or with their first father. And this agrees with the context; the purport of which is, that all have sinned, and are therefore liable to the death originally threatened; which is evident from this: That ‘until the law sin was in the world;’ — in the ages that preceded the law of Moses, all men were sinners in the sight of God: ‘But sin is not imputed where there is no law;’ — none can be sinners in the sight of God if they are not transgressors of some law, for the transgressing of which they are reputed guilty: ‘Nevertheless death reigned’ all the time ‘from Adam to Moses’ over all mankind. Now, if none is liable to death, but for sin; if ‘sin is not imputed where there is no law;’ and if, notwithstanding this, all mankind in all ages have died; infants themselves, who cannot actually sin, not excepted; it is undeniable, that guilt is imputed to all for the sin of Adam. Why else are they liable to that which is inflicted on none but for sin? “This is the purport of the Apostle’s arguing, (Verses 12-14) which having led him to mention Adam as a figure of Christ, he then draws a parallel between them. The substance of it is this: As through the ‘offense of Adam many are dead,’ as ‘by the disobedience of him many are made sinners;’so through the righteousness or ‘obedience of Christ many are made righteous.’
But how are many dead, or made sinners, through the disobedience of Adam? His first sin so far affects all his descendants as to constitute them guilty, or liable to all that death which was contained in the original threatening.”(Page 72.)
“But Dr. Taylor avers, ‘To be made sinners, means only to be subjected to temporal death.’ “I answer, “
(1.) Whatever it means, the disobedience of Adam had a proper, causal influence upon it; just as the obedience of Christ has upon our being made righteous. “
(2.) What ‘to be made sinners’ means, must be learned from the opposite to it, in the latter part of the verse. Now, allowing the Apostle to be his own interpreter, ‘being made righteous’ is the same with ‘justification.’ (Verse 16) Of this he had treated largely before.
And through the whole of his discourse, ‘to be justified’ is to be acquitted from guilt, and ‘accepted of God’ as righteous.
Consequently, ‘to be made sinners’ is to be ‘condemned of God,’ or to be ‘children of wrath,’ and that on account of Adam’s sin.” (Page 73.)
“‘By man came death: In Adam all die.’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) Let the reader please to bear in mind the whole of the two verses and the context. By ‘man,’ in the twenty-first verse, is meant Adam. The ‘all’ spoken of are all his natural descendants.
These ‘all die;’ that is, as his descendants, are liable to death, yea, to death everlasting. That this is the meaning appears hence: That the ‘being made alive,’ to which this dying stands opposed, is not a mere recovery of life, but a blessed resurrection to a glorious immortality. Hence I observe,
(1.) Man was originally immortal as well as righteous. In this primitive slate he was not liable to death.
(2.) Death is constantly ascribed to sin, as the sole and proper cause of it. As it was threatened only for sin, so the sentence was not pronounced till after man had sinned.
(3.) All men are mortal from their birth. As soon as they begin to live they are liable to death, the punishment denounced against sin, and sin only.
(4.) This is the genuine effect of the first sin of our first father. The Apostle does not attribute it to the devil; neither does he say, ‘In Adam and Eve all die.’ But here also he mentions Adam singly. Him he speaks of as ‘a figure of Christ.’ (Verses 45, 47, 48) And here, as the sole author of death to all his natural descendants. ‘In Adam,’ or on account of his fall, ‘all’ of mankind, in every age, ‘die;’ consequently, in him all sinned. With him all fell in his first transgression. That they are all born liable to the legal punishment of sin proves him the federal as well as natural head of mankind; whose sin is so far imputed to all men, that they are born ‘children of wrath,’ and liable to death.” (Pages 74-77.) “Thus have I considered a large number of texts, which testify of original sin, imputed and inherent. Some are more express than others, of which kind are Job 14:4; Psalm 51:5; 58:3; Romans 5:12, etc.; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:3.
That in Ephesians presents us with a direct proof of the entire doctrine Those in Romans and Corinthians relate directly to original sin imputed, and are but consequential proofs of original corruption. The rest refer particularly to this, and are but consequential proofs of original sin imputed. “And as this doctrine stands impregnable on the basis of Scripture, so it is perfectly agreeable to sound reason; as may appear from a few plain arguments which confirm this scripture doctrine.” (Page 79.)
(1.) If the first man was by God’s appointment, as has been shown, the federal head of all his descendants, it follows, that when Adam sinned and fell, they all sinned in him, and fell with him. And if they did, they must come into the world both guilty and unclean. “‘But we had no hand in Adam’s sin, and therefore cannot be guilty on account of it.’ “This, ‘We had no hand in it,’ is ambiguous. It means either, ‘We did not actually join therein,’ which no one denies, or, ‘We were wholly unconcerned in it;’ the contrary to which has been fully proved. “
(3.) Either Christ is the Savior of infants, or he is not; if he is not, how is he ‘the Savior of all men?’ But, if he is, then infants are sinners; for he suffered death for sinners only. He ‘came to seek and save’ only ‘that which was lost;’ to ‘save his people from their sins.’ It follows, that infants are sinners; that they are lost, and, without Christ, are undone for ever. “
(4.) The consequences of the contrary opinion are shockingly absurd: — “
(i.) If original sin is not, either death is not ‘the wages of sin,’ or there is punishment without guilt; God punishes innocent, guiltless creatures. To suppose which is to impute iniquity to the most Holy.” (Page 84.)
(ii.) If we are not sinners by nature, there are sinful actions without a principle, fruit growing without a root. ‘No; men contract sinful habits by degrees, and then commence sinners.’ But whence is it that they contract those habits so easily and speedily? Whence is it, that, as soon as ever we discover reason, we discover sinful dispositions? The early discoveries of reason prove a principle of reason planted in our nature. In like manner, the early discoveries of sinful dispositions prove those dispositions planted therein.” (Page 85.)
(v.) A denial of original sin not only renders baptism needless with regard to infants, but represents a great part of mankind as having no need of Christ, or the grace of the near covenant. I now speak of infants in particular, who, if not ‘guilty before God,’ no more need the merits and grace of the Second Adam than the brutes themselves. “Lastly. A denial of original sin contradicts the main design of the gospel, which is to humble vain man, and to ascribe to God’s free grace, not man’s free will, the whole of his salvation. Nor, indeed, can we let this doctrine go without giving up, at the same time, the greatest part, if not all, of the essential articles of the Christian faith. If we give up this, we cannot defend either justification by the merits of Christ, or the renewal of our natures by his Spirit. Dr. Taylor’s book is not, therefore, subversive of a particular branch, but of the whole scheme, of Christianity.
“The doctrine, therefore, of original sin is not only a truth agreeable to Scripture and reason, but a truth of the utmost importance. And it is a truth to which the Churches of Christ, from the beginning, have born a clear testimony. “Few truths, if any, are more necessary to be known, believed, and thoroughly considered. For if we are not acquainted with this, we do not know ourselves; and if we do not know ourselves, we cannot rightly know Christ and the grace of God. And on this knowledge of Christ and the grace of God depends the whole of our salvation. St. Augustine, therefore, well remarks, ‘Christianity lies properly in the knowledge of what concerns Adam and Christ.’
For, certainly, if we do not know Christ, we know nothing to any purpose; and we cannot know Christ, without some knowledge of what relates to Adam, who was ‘the figure of Him that was to come.’ “‘But if this doctrine is so important, why is so little said of it in Scripture, and in the writings of the ancients?’ “This is a grand mistake. We totally deny that the Scripture says little of it. Dr. Taylor, indeed, affirms, ‘There are but five passages of Scripture that plainly relate to the effects of Adam’s fall.’ Not so: Many Scriptures, as has been shown, plainly and directly teach us this doctrine; and many others deliver that from which it may be rationally and easily deduced. Indeed, the whole doctrine of salvation by Christ, and divine grace, implies this; and each of its main branches — justification and regeneration — directly leads to it. So does the doctrine of man’s original righteousness, than which nothing is more clearly revealed.” (Page 88.)
“And if the writers before St. Augustine say little concerning it, is not the reason plain? The occasions of their writing did not lead them to enlarge on what none had ever opposed or denied. For none had ever opposed or denied this doctrine. ‘Who,’ says Vincentius Lirinensis, ‘before Celestius, denied all mankind to be involved in the guilt of Adam’s transgression? ‘Yet they are not silent concerning it. Justin Martyr speaks of ‘mankind as fallen under death and the deceit of the serpent;’ of ‘all Adam’s descendants, as condemned for his sin; and all that are Christ’s, as justified by him.’ (Dial. with Trypho .) In Irenaeus there are numerous, strong, express testimonies, both to original righteousness and original sin in the full extent: ‘What we lost in Adam, that is, a being after the image and likeness of God, this we recover by Christ.’ (Irenmus , 1. 3. c. 20.) Again, ‘They who receive the ingrafted word return to the ancient nature of man, that by which he was made after the image and likeness of God.’ (Ibid . 1. 5, c. 10.) He likewise speaks of our ‘sinning in Adam:’ ‘In the first Adam,’ says he, ‘we offended God; in the Second Adam, we are reconciled:’ And frequently of ‘man’s losing the image of God by the fall, and recovering it by Christ.’ Tertullian says, ‘Man was in the beginning, deceived, and, therefore, condemned to death; upon which his whole race became infected and partaker of his condemnation.’ (De Testimony Animae .) Cyprian is express in his Epistle to Fidus. Origin says, ‘The curse of Adam is common to all.’ Again: ‘Man, by sinning, lost the image and likeness of God.’
And again: ‘No one is clean from the filth of sin, even though he is not above a day old.’” (Page 93.)
“‘The whole of me,’ says Nazianzen, ‘has need of being saved, since the whole of me fell, and was condemned for the disobedience of my first father.’ Many more are the testimonies of Athanasius, Basil, Hillary; all prior to St. Augustine. And how generally since St. Augustine this important truth has been asserted is well known.
Plain it is, therefore, that the Churches of Christ, from the beginning, have born clear testimony to it. “To conclude, “1. This is a scriptural doctrine: Many plain texts directly teach it. “2. It is a rational doctrine, thoroughly consistent with the dictates of sound reason; and this, notwithstanding there may be some circumstances relating thereto which human reason cannot fathom.” (Page 91.)
“3. It is a practical doctrine. It has the closest connection with the life, power, and practice of religion. It leads man to the foundation of all Christian practice, the knowledge of himself; and hereby, to the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of Christ crucified. It prepares him for, and confirms him in, just conceptions of the dependence of his salvation, on the merits of Christ for justification, and the power of his Spirit for inward and outward holiness. It humbles the natural pride of man; it excludes self-applause and boasting; and points out the true and only way whereby we may fulfill all righteousness. “4. It is an experimental doctrine. The sincere Christian, day by day, carries the proof of it in his own bosom; experiencing that in himself, which is abundantly sufficient to convince him, that ‘in him,’ by nature, ‘dwelleth no good thing; but that it is God alone who worketh in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure.’”\parLEWISHAM, March 23, 1757.
I HAVE now gone through, as my leisure would permit, this whole complicated question; and I have spoken on each branch of it with plainness and openness, according to the best light I have at present. I have only a few words more to add, and that with the same openness and simplicity.
What I have often acknowledged, I now repeat. Were it not on a point of so deep importance, I would no more enter the lists with Dr. Taylor, than I would lift my hand against a giant. I acknowledge your abilities of every kind; your natural and acquired endowments; your strong understanding; your lively and fruitful imagination; your plain and easy, yet nervous style. I make no doubt of your having studied the original Scriptures for many years. And I believe you have moral endowments which are infinitely more valuable and more amiable than all these. For (if I am not greatly deceived) you bear “goodwill to all men.” And may not I add, you fear God?
O what might not you do with these abilities! What would be too great for you to attempt and effect! Of what service might you be, not only to your own countrymen, but to all that bear the Christian name! How might you advance the cause of true, primitive, scriptural Christianity; of solid, rational virtue; of the deep, holy, happy, spiritual religion, which is brought to light by the gospel! How capable are you of recommending, not barely morality, (the duty of man to man,) but piety, the duty of man to God, even the “worshipping him in spirit and in truth!” How well qualified are you to explain, enforce, defend, even “the deep things of God,” the nature of the kingdom of God “within us;” yea, the interiora regni Dei! (I speak on supposition of your having the “unction of the Holy One,” added to your other qualifications.) And are you, whom God has so highly favored, among those who serve the opposite cause? If one might transfer the words of a man to him, might not one conceive Him to say, Kai su ei ekeinwn< kai su, teknon ; Are you disserving the cause of inward religion, laboring to destroy the inward kingdom of God, sapping the foundations of all true, spiritual worship, advancing morality on the ruins of piety? Are you among those who are overthrowing the very foundations of primitive, scriptural Christianity? which certainly can have no ground to stand upon, if the scheme lately advanced be true. What room is there for it, till men repent? know themselves? Without this can they know or love God? O why should you block up the way to repentance, and, consequently, to the whole religion of the heart? “Let a man be a fool,” says the Apostle, “that he may be wise.” But you tell him, he is wise already; that every man is by nature as wise as Adam was in paradise. He gladly drinks in the soothing sound, and sleeps on and takes his rest. We beseech those who are mad after earthly things, to take knowledge of the dreadful state they are in; to return to their Father, and beg of him “the spirit of love and of a sound mind.” You tell them, they are of a “sound mind” already. They believe, and turn to their husks again.
Jesus comes to “seek and save that which is lost.” You tell the men of form, (though as dead to God as a stone,) that they are not lost; that (inasmuch as they are free from gross sins,) they are in a good way, and will undoubtedly be saved. So they live and die, without the knowledge, love, or image of God; and die eternally!” “They will be saved.” But are they saved already? We know all real Christians are. If they are, if these are possessed of the present salvation which the Scripture speaks of, what is that salvation? How poor, dry, dull, shallow, superficial a thing! Wherein does it excel what the wiser Heathens taught, nay, and perhaps experienced? What poor pitiable creatures are those Christians, so called, who have advanced no higher than this! You see enough of these on every side; perhaps even in your own congregation. What knowledge have they of the things of God? what love to God, or to Christ? what heavenly mindedness? how much of “the mind which was in Christ Jesus?” How little have they profited by all your instructions! How few are wiser and better than when you knew them first! O take knowledge of the reason why they are not? That doctrine will not “make them wise unto salvation.” All it can possibly do, is to shake off the leaves. It does not affect the branches of sin. Unholy tempers are just as they were. Much less does it strike at the root: Pride, self will, unbelief, heart idolatry, remain undisturbed and unsuspected.
I am grieved for the people who are thus seeking death in the error of their life. I am grieved for you, who surely desire to teach them the way of God in truth. O Sir, think it possible, that you may have been mistaken! that you may have leaned too far, to what you thought the better extreme! Be persuaded once more to review your whole cause, and that from the very foundation. And in doing so, you will not disdain to desire more than natural light. O that “the Father of glory may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation!” May He “enlighten the eyes of your understanding, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints!”\parLEWISHAM, March 24, 1757.
THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN.
BECAUSE of the unspeakable importance of thoroughly understanding this great foundation of all revealed religion, I subjoin one more extract, unrelating both to the original and the present state of man: — “God ‘made man upright.’ By man we are to understand our first parents, the archetypal pair, the root of mankind. This man was made right, (agreeable to the nature of God, whose work is perfect,) without any imperfection, corruption, or principle of corruption, in his body or soul. He was made upright; that is, straight with the will and law of God, without any irregularity in his soul. God made him thus; he did not first make him, and then make him righteous: But in the very making of him he made him righteous; righteousness was concreated with him. With the same breath that God breathed into him a living soul, he breathed into him a righteous soul. “This righteousness was the conformity of all the faculties and powers of his soul to the moral law; which implied three things: — “First. His understanding was a lamp of light. He was made after God’s image, and, consequently, could not want knowledge, which is a part thereof. And a perfect knowledge of the law was necessary to fit him for universal obedience, seeing no obedience can be according to the law, unless it proceed from a sense of the command of God requiring it. It is true, Adam had not the law writ on tables of stone; but it was written upon his mind. God impressed it upon his soul, and made him a law to himself, as the remains of it even among the Heathens testify. And seeing man was made to be the mouth of the creation, to glorify God in his works, we have ground to believe he had an exquisite knowledge of the works of God. We have a proof of this in his giving names to the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, and these such as express their nature: ‘whatsoever Adam called every living thing, that was the name thereof.’ And the dominion which God gave him over the creatures, soberly to use them according to his will, (still in subordination to the will of God,) implies a knowledge of their natures. “Secondly. His will lay straight with the will of God. There was no corruption in his will, no bent or inclination to evil; for that is sin properly so called; and, therefore, inconsistent with that uprightness with which it is expressly said he was ended at his creation. The will of man was then naturally inclined to God and goodness, though mutably. It was disposed by its original make to follow the Creator’s will, as the shadow does the body. It was not left in an equal balance to good and evil; for then he had not been upright, or conform to the law; which no more can allow the creature not to be inclined to God as his end, than it can allow man to be a God to himself. “Thirdly. His affections were regular, pure, and holy. All his passions, yea, all his sensitive motions and inclinations, were subordinate to his reason and will, which lay straight with the will of God. They were all, therefore, pure from all defilement, free from all disorder or distemper; because in all their motions they were duly subjected to his clear reason and his holy will. He had also an executive power, answerable to his will; a power to do the good which he knew should be done, and which he inclined to do; even to fulfill the whole law of God. If it had not been so, God would not have required perfect obedience of him. For to say that ‘the Lord, gathereth where he hath not strewed,’ is but the blasphemy of a slothful servant. “From what has been said it may be gathered, that man’s original righteousness was universal, and natural, yet mutable. “1. It was universal, both with respect to the subject of it, the whole man; and the object of it, the whole law: It was diffused through the whole man; it was a blessed leaven that leavened the whole lump. Man was then holy in soul, body, and spirit: While the soul remained untainted, the members of the body were consecrated vessels and instruments of righteousness. A combat between reason and appetite, nay, the least inclination to sin, was utterly inconsistent with this uprightness in which man was created; and has been invented to veil the corruption of man’s nature, and to obscure the, race of God in Christ Jesus. And as this righteousness spread through the whole man, so it respected the whole law. There was nothing in the law but what was agreeable to his reason and will. His soul was shapen out in length and breadth, to the commandment, though exceeding broad; so that his original righteousness was not only perfect in parts, but in degrees. “2. As it was universal, so it was natural to him. He was created with it. And it was necessary to the perfection of man, as he came out of the hand of God; necessary to constitute him in a state of integrity.
Yet, — “3. It was mutable: It was a righteousness which might be lost, as appears from the sad event. His will was not indifferent to good and evil: God set it towards good only, yet did not so fix it, that it could not alter: it was movable to evil, but by man himself only. “Thus was man made originally righteous, being ‘created in God’s own image,’ ( Genesis 1:27) which consists in ‘knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.’ ( Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24) All that God made ‘was very good,’ according to their several natures. ( Genesis 1:31) And so man was morally good, being ‘made after the image’ of Him who is ‘good and upright.’ ( Psalm 25:8) Without this he could not have answered the end of his creation, which was to know, love, and serve his God. Nay, he could not be created otherwise; for he must either have been conform to the law in his powers, principles, and inclinations, or not. If he was, he was righteous: If not, he was a sinner; which is absurd and horrible to imagine. “And as man was holy, so he was happy. He was full of peace as well as of love. And he was the favorite of Heaven. He bore the image of God, who cannot but love his own image. While he was alone in the world he was not alone; for he had free, full ‘communion with God.’ As yet there was nothing to turn away the face of God from the work of his own hands; seeing sin had not as yet entered, which alone could make the breach. “He was also Lord of the world, universal emperor of the whole earth. His Creator gave him ‘dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, and everything that moveth on the earth.’ He was God’s deputy-governor in the lower world; and this his dominion was an image of God’s sovereignty. Thus was man ‘crowned with glory and honor,’ having ‘all things put under his feet.’ “Again: As he had perfect tranquillity in his own breast, 80 he had a perfect calm without. His heart had nothing to reproach him with; and, without, there was nothing to annoy him. Their beautiful bodies were not capable of injuries from the air. They were liable to no diseases or pains; and though they were not to live idle, yet toil, weariness, and sweat of the brows, were not known in this state. “Lastly. He was immortal. He would never have died if he had not sinned. Death was threatened only in case of sin. The perfect constitution of his body, which came out of God’s hand, was ‘very good;’ and the righteousness of his soul removed all inward causes of death. And God’s special care of his innocent creature secured him against outward violence. Such were the holiness and the happiness of man in his original state. “But there is now a sad alteration in our nature. It is now entirely corrupted. Where at first there was nothing evil, there is now nothing good: I shall, “ First , prove this. “ Secondly , represent this corruption in its several parts. “ Thirdly , show how man’s nature comes to be thus corrupted. “First, I shall prove that man’s nature is corrupted, both by God’s word, and by men’s experience and observation. “1. For proof from God’s word, let us consider, “
(1.) How it takes particular notice of fallen Adam’s communicating his image to his posterity. ‘Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image.’ ( Genesis 5:3) Compare this with verse 1: ‘In the day that God created man, in the image of God made he him.’ Behold here, how the ‘image’ after which man was ‘made,’ and the ‘image’ after which he is begotten, are opposed. Man was ‘made’ in the likeness of God; a holy and righteous God ‘made’ a holy and righteous creature: But fallen Adam ‘begat’ a son, not in the likeness of God, but in his ‘own likeness;’ corrupt, sinful Adam begat a corrupt, sinful son. For as the image of God included ‘righteousness’ and ‘immortality,’ so this image of fallen Adam included ‘corruption’ and ‘death.’ Moses, giving us in this chapter the first bill of mortality that ever was in the world, ushers it in with this observation, — that dying Adam begat mortals.
Having sinned, he became ‘mortal,’ according to the threatening. And so he ‘begat a son in his own likeness,’ sinful, and therefore mortal; and so ‘sin and death passed on all.’” “
(2.) That text, ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.’ ( Job 14:4) Our first parents were unclean; how then can we be clean? How could our immediate parents be clean? Or how shall our children be so? The uncleanness here mentioned is a sinful uncleanness; for it is such as makes man’s days ‘full of trouble.’ And it is natural, being derived from unclean parents. ‘How can he be clean that is born of a woman?’ God can ‘bring a clean thing out of an unclean;’ and did so in the case of the man Christ; but no other can. Every person then that is born according to the course of nature is born unclean; if the root be corrupt, so are the branches. Neither is the matter mended, though the parents be holy. For they are such by ‘grace,’ not by ‘nature:’ And they beget their children as men, not as holy men; wherefore, as the circumcised parent begets an uncircumcised child, so the holiest parents beget unholy children, and cannot communicate their grace to them as they do their nature. “
(3.) Hear our Lord’s determination of the point: ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh.’ ( John 3:6) Behold the corruption of all mankind; all are ‘flesh.’ It does not mean, all are frail; (though that is a sad truth too; yea, and our natural frailty is an evidence of our natural corruption;) but, all are ‘corrupt’ and ‘sinful,’ and that naturally.
Hence own Lord argues, that because they are ‘flesh,’ therefore they ‘must be born again,’ or they ‘cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ (Verses 3, 5) And as the corruption of our nature evidences the absolute necessity of regeneration, so the necessity of regeneration proves the corruption of our nature. For why should a man need a second birth, if his nature were not ruined in the first birth? Even infants must be born again; for this rule admits of no exception; and therefore they were circumcised under the Old Testament, as having ‘the body of the sins of the flesh,’ (which is conveyed to them by natural generation,) the whole old man, ‘to put off’ ( Colossians 2:11) And now, by the appointment of Christ, they are to be baptized; which shows they are unclean, and that there is no salvation for them, but ‘by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.’ “
(4.) ‘We are by nature children of wrath.’ We are worthy of, and liable to, the wrath of God; and that ‘by nature;’ and therefore, doubtless, we are by nature sinful creatures. We are condemned before we have done good or evil; under the curse ere we know what it is. But ‘will a lion roar in the forest while he hath no prey?’ Until a holy and just God roar in his wrath against man, if he be not, by his sin, made a prey for wrath? No, he will not, he cannot. We conclude, then that, according to the word of God, man’s nature is a corrupt nature.” “2. If we consult experience, and observe the case of the world, in the things that are obvious to any person, we shall, by its fruits, easily discover the root of bitterness. I shall instance but in a few: — “
(1.) Who sees not a flood of miseries overflowing the world? Every one, at home and abroad, in city and country, in palaces and cottages, is groaning under some unpleasing circumstance or other. Some are oppressed with poverty or want; some chastened with pain or sickness; some are lamenting their losses; none is without a cross of one sort or another. No man’s condition is so soft but there is some thorn of uneasiness in it. And at length death, ‘the wages of sin,’ comes, and sweeps all away. Now, what but sin has opened the sluice?
There is not a complaint or sigh heard in the world, or a tear that falls from our eye, but it is an evidence, that man is fallen as a star from heaven. For God ‘distributeth sorrows in his anger.’ ( Job 21:17) This is a plain proof of the corruption of nature; forasmuch as those that have not actually sinned have their share of these sorrows; yea, and draw their first breath weeping. There are also graves of the smallest as well as the largest size; and there are never wanting some in the world, who, like Rachel, are ‘weeping for their children, because they are not.’ “
(2.) How early does this corruption of nature appear! It is soon discerned which way the bias of the heart lies. Do not the children of fallen Adam, before they can go alone, follow their father’s footsteps?
What pride, ambition, curiosity, vanity, willfulness, and awareness to good, appear in them! And when they creep out of infancy, there is a necessity of using ‘the rod of correction, to drive away the foolishness that is bound in their heart.’ “
(3.) Take a view of the outbreakings of sin in the world. ‘The wickedness of man is yet great in the earth.’ Behold the bitter fruits of corrupt nature! ‘By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out,’ (like the breaking forth of waters,) ‘and blood toucheth blood.’ The world is filled with all manner of filthiness, wickedness, and impiety. And whence is this deluge of sin on the earth, but from the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep, ‘the heart of man,’ out of which ‘proceed adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness?’ Ye may, it may be, thank God, that ye are not in these respects ‘like other men:’ And you have reason; for the corruption of nature is the very same in you as in them. “
(4.) Cast your eye upon those terrible convulsions the world is thrown into by the wickedness of men. Lions prey not on lions, nor wolves on wolves; but men bite and devour one another. Upon how slight occasions will men sheath their swords in one another’s bowels!
Since Cain shed Abel’s blood, the world has been turned into a slaughterhouse and the chase has been continued, ever since Nimrod began his hunting; as on the earth, so in the seas, the greater still devouring the lesser. Now, when we see the world in such a ferment, every one stabbing another with words or swords, these violent heats among the sons of Adam speak the whole body to be distempered; ‘the whole head to be sick, and the whole heart faint.’ “
(5.) Consider the necessity of human laws, fenced with terrors and severities. Man was made for society; and God himself said, when he created him, it was not good for him to be alone. Yet the case is such now, that, in society, he must be hedged in with thorns. And from hence we may the better discern the corruption of man’s nature, consider,
(ii.) No man would willingly adventure to live in a lawless society; and, therefore, even pirates and robbers have laws among themselves.
(iii.) How dangerous soever it is to break through the hedge, yet many will do it daily. They will not only sacrifice their conscience and credit, but, for the pleasure of a few moments, lay themselves open to a violent death, by the laws of the land wherein they live.
(iv.) Laws are often made to yield to man’s lusts. Sometimes whole societies break off the fetters, and the voice of laws cannot be heard for the noise of arms: And seldom there is a time, wherein there are not some persons so great and daring, that the laws dare not look them in the face.
(v.) Observe even the Israelites, separated to God from all the nations of the earth; yet what horrible confusions were among them, when ‘there was no King in Israel!’ How hard was it to reform them, when they had the best of magistrates! And how quickly did they turn aside again, when they had wicked rulers! It seems, one grand design of that sacred history was; to discover the corruption of man’s nature.
(vi.) Consider the remains of natural corruption, even in them that believe. Through grace has entered, corruption is not expelled; they find it with them at all times, and in all places. If a man have an ill neighbor, he may remove; but should he go into a wilderness, or pinch his tent on a remote rock in the sea, there it will be with him. I need not stand to prove so clear a point: But consider these few things on this head: 1st . If it be thus in the green tree, how must it be in the dry? Does so much of the old remain even in those who have received a new nature?
How great, then, must that corruption be in those, where it is unmixed with renewing grace! 2nd . Though natural corruption is no burden to a natural man, is he therefore free from it? No, no. Only he is dead, and feels not the sinking weight. Many a groan is heard from a sick bed, but never one from a grave. 3rd . The good man resists the old nature; he strives to starve it; yet it remains. How must it spread, then, and strengthen itself in the soul, where it is not starved, but fed, as in unbelievers! If the garden of the diligent find him full work, in cutting off and rooting up, surely that of the sluggard must needs be ‘all grown over with thorns.’ “I shall add but one observation more, that in every man naturally the image of fallen Adam appears: To evince which, I appeal to the consciences of all, in the following particulars:— “
(1.) If God by his holy law or wise providence put a restraint upon us, to keep us back from anything, does not that restraint whet the edge of our natural inclinations, and make us so much the keener in our desires? The very Heathens were convinced, that there is this spirit of contradiction in us, though they knew not the spring of it. How often do men give themselves a loose in those things, wherein if God had left them at liberty, they would have bound up themselves! And is not this a repeating of our father’s folly, that men will rather climb for forbidden fruit, than gather what Providence offers to them, when they have God’s express allowance for it? “
(2.) Is it not natural to us, to care for the body, at the expense of the soul? This was one ingredient in the sin of our first parents. ( Genesis 3:6) O how happy might we be, if we were but at half the pains about our souls, which we bestow upon our bodies! if that question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ did but run near so often through our minds, as those, ‘What shall we eat? What shall we drink?
Wherewithal shall we be clothed?’ “
(3.) Is not every one by nature discontent with his present lot, or with some one thing or other in it? Some one thing is always missing; so that man is a creature given to change. If all doubt of this, let them look over all their enjoyments, and, after a review of them, listen to their own hearts, and they will hear a secret murmuring for want of something. Since the hearts of oar first parents wandered from God, their posterity have a natural disease, which Solomon calls, ‘the wandering of desire;’ literally, ‘the walking of the soul.’ ( Ecclesiastes 6:9) This is a sort of diabolical trance, wherein the soul traverseth the world, feeds itself with a thousand airy nothings, snatcheth at this and the other imagined excellency; goes here and there and everywhere, except where it should go. And the soul is never cured of this disease till it takes up its rest in God through Christ. “
(4.) Do not Adam’s children naturally follow his footsteps, in ‘hiding’ themselves ‘from the presence of the Lord?’ ( Genesis 3:8) We are just as blind in this matter as he was, who thought to ‘hide himself from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden.’
We promise ourselves more security in a secret sin than in one that is openly committed. ‘The adulterer saith, No eye shall see me.’ And men will freely do that in secret, which they would be ashamed to do in the presence of a child: As if darkness could hide from an all seeing God. Are we not naturally careless of ‘communion with God?’ nay, and averse to it? Never was there any communion between God and Adam’s children, where God himself had not the first word. If he would let them alone, they would never inquire after him. “
(5.) How loath are men to ‘confess sin,’ to take guilt and shame to themselves! And was it not thus in the case before us? Adam confesses his nakedness, (which indeed he could not deny,) but not one word does he say about his sin. It is as natural for us to hide sin as to commit it. Many instances of this we see daily; but how many will there be in that day when God ‘will judge the secrets of men?” Many a foul mouth will then be seen, which is now ‘wiped, and saith, I have done no wickedness.’” “Lastly. Is it not natural for us to extenuate our sin, and transfer the guilt to others? As Adam laid the blame of his sin on the woman: And did not the woman lay the blame on the serpent?
Adam’s children need not be taught this; for before they can well speak, if they cannot deny, they lisp out something to lessen their fault, and lay the blame upon another. Nay, so natural is this to men, that, in the greatest of sins, they will charge the fault on God himself: blaspheming his providence under the name of ill luck, or misfortune, and so laying the blame of their sin at Heaven’s door.
Thus does ‘the foolishness of man pervert his ways; and his heart fretteth against the Lord.’ Let us then call Adam, Father: Let us not deny the relation, seeing we bear his image. “I proceed to inquire into the corruption of nature in the several parts of it. But who can take the exact dimensions of it, in its breadth, length, height, and depth? ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it?’ However, we may quickly perceive so much of it as may show the absolute necessity of regeneration. Man, in his natural state, is altogether corrupt, through all the faculties of his soul: Corrupt in his understanding, his will, his affections, his conscience, and his memory. “1. The understanding is despoiled of its primitive glory, and covered over with confusion. We are fallen into the hands of our grand adversary, and are deprived of our two eyes;. ‘There is none that understandeth;’ the very mind and conscience of the natural man are defiled or spoiled. But to point out this corruption of the understanding more particularly, let the following things be considered: — “First. There is a natural weakness in the minds of men, with respect to spiritual things. How hard is it to teach them the common principles of religion; to make truths so plain, that they may understand them! Try the same persons in other things, speak of the things of this world, and they will under stand quickly; but it is hard to make them know how their souls may be saved, or how their hearts may find rest in Christ. Consider even those who have many advantages above the common run of mankind: Yet how small is their knowledge of divine things! What confusion still remains in their minds! How often are they mired, and ‘speak as a child,’ even in the matter of practical truths! It is a pitiable weakness, that we cannot perceive the things which God has revealed. And it must needs be a sinful weakness, since the law of God requires us to know and believe them. “Secondly. Man’s understanding is naturally overwhelmed with gross ‘darkness’ in spiritual things. Man, at the instigation of the devil, attempting to break out a new light in his mind, instead of that, broke up the doors of the bottomless pit, by the smoke whereof he was covered with darkness. When God at first made man, his mind was a lamp of light; but sin has now turned it into darkness. Sin has closed the window of the soul. It is the land of darkness and the shadow of death, where ‘the light is as darkness.’
The prince of darkness ‘reigns therein, and nothing but the ‘works of darkness’ are framed there. That you may be the more fully convinced of this, take the following evidences of it: — “ “1. The darkness that was upon the face of ‘the world’ before, and at the time that Christ came. When Adam by his sin had lost his light, it pleased God to reveal to him the way of salvation. ( Genesis 3:15) This was handed down by holy men before the flood, yet the natural darkness of the mind of man so prevailed, as to carry of all sense of true religion from the old world, except what remained in Noah’s family. After the flood, as men increased, their natural darkness of mind prevailed again, and the light decayed, till it died out among the generality of mankind, and was preserved only among the posterity of them. And even with them it was near setting, when God called Abraham ‘from serving other gods.’ ( Joshua 24:15) God gave him a more full revelation, which he communicated to his family: ( Genesis 18:19) Yet the natural darkness wore it out at length, save that it was preserved among the posterity of Jacob. In Egypt, that darkness so prevailed over them also, that a new revelation was necessary. And many a dark cloud got above that, during the time from Moses to Christ. When Christ came, nothing was to be seen in the Gentile world but ‘darkness and cruel habitations.’ They were drowned in superstition and idolatry; and whatever wisdom was among their philosophers, ‘the world by that wisdom knew not God, but became more and more vain in their imaginations.’ Nor were the Jesus much wiser: Except a few, gross darkness covered them also. Their traditions were multiplied; but the knowledge of those things wherein the life of religion lies was lost. They gloried in outward ordinances, but knew nothing of ‘worshipping God in Spirit and in truth.’ “Now, what but the natural darkness of men’s minds could still thus wear out the light of external revelation? Men did not forget the way of preserving their lives; but how quickly did they forget the way of saving their souls! So that it was necessary for God himself to reveal it again and again. Yea, and a mere external revelation did not suffice to remove this darkness; no, not when it was by Christ in person; there needed also the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Such is the natural darkness of our minds, that it only yields to the blood and Spirit of Christ. “2. Every natural man’s heart, how refined soever he appear, is full of darkness, disorder, and confusion. The unrenewed part of mankind are rambling through the world, like so many blind men, who will neither take a guide, nor can guide themselves, and therefore fall over this and the other precipice into destruction. Some are running after their covetousness, some sticking in the mire of sensuality, others dashing on the rock of pride; every one stumbling on one stone of stumbling or other, as their unmortified passions drive them. And while some are lying along in the way, others are coming up and falling headlong over them. Errors swarm in the world; all the unregenerate are utterly mistaken in the point of true happiness. All desire to be happy; but, touching the way to happiness, there are almost as many opinions as there are men. They are like the blind Sodomites about Lot’s house; all seeking to ‘find the door,’ but in vain. Look into thine own heart, (if thou art not born again,) and thou wilt see all turned upside down; heaven lying under, and earth at top; look into thy life, and see how thou art playing the madman, eagerly flying after that which is not, and slighting that which is, and will be for ever. Thus is man’s understanding naturally overwhelmed with gross ‘darkness’ in spiritual things. “Thirdly. There is in the mind of man a natural bias to evil: Let us reflect a little, and we shall find incontestable evidence of it.” “1. Men’s minds have a natural dexterity to do mischief; none are so simple as to want skill for this. None needs to be taught it; but as weeds, without being sown, grow up of their own accord, so does this ‘earthly, sensual, devilish wisdom’ naturally grow up in us. “2. We naturally form gross conceptions of spiritual things, as if the soul were quite immersed in flesh and blood. Let men but look into themselves, and they will find this bias in their minds; whereof the idolatry which still prevails so far and wide is an incontestable evidence; for it plainly shows men would have a visible deity; therefore they change the ‘glory of the incorruptible God into an image.’ Indeed the Reformation of these nations has banished gross idolatry out of our churches: But heart reformation alone can banished mental idolatry, subtle and refined image worship, out of our minds. “3. How difficult is it to detain the carnal mind before the Lord! to fix it in the meditation of spiritual things! When God is speaking to man by his word, or they are speaking to him in prayer, the body remains before God, but the world steals away the heart. Though the eyes be closed, the man sees a thousand vanities, and the mind roves hither and thither; all many times the man scarce comes to himself, till he is ‘gone from the presence of the Lord.’ The worldly man’s mind does not wander when he is contriving business, casting lap his accounts or telling his money. If he answers you not all first, he tells you he did not hear you, he was busy, his mind was fixed. But the carnal mind employed about spiritual things is out of its element, and therefore cannot fix. “4. Consider how the carnal ‘imagination’ supplies the want of real objects to the corrupt heart. The unclean person is filled with speculative impurities, ‘having eyes full of adultery.’ The covetous man fills his heart with the world, if he cannot get his hands full of it.
The malicious person acts his revenge in his own breast; the envious, within his own narrow soul, sees his neighbor laid low enough; and so every lust is fed by the imagination. These things may suffice to convince us of the natural bias of the mind to evil. “Fourthly. There is in the carnal mind an opposition to spiritual truths, and an aversion to the receiving them. God has revealed to sinners the way of salvation; he has given his word. But do natural men believe it? Indeed they do not. They believe not the promises of the word; for they who receive them are thereby made ‘partakers of the divine nature.’ They believe not the threatenings of the word; otherwise they could not live as they do. I doubt not but most, if not all, of you, who are in a state of nature, will here plead, Not Guilty. But the very difficulty you find in assenting to this truth, proves the unbelief with which I charge you. Has it not proceeded so far with some, that it has steeled their foreheads openly to reject all revealed religion? And though ye set not your mouths as they do against the heavens, yet the same bitter root of unbelief is in you, and reigns and will reign in you, till overcoming grace captivate your minds to the belief of the truth. To convince you of this, — “Consider, 1. How have you learned those truths which you think you believe? Is it not merely by the benefit of your education, and of external revelation? You are strangers to the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness with the word in your hearts; and therefore ye are still unbelievers. ‘It is written in the Prophets, And they shall be all taught; of God. Every one therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father,’ saith our Lord, ‘cometh unto me.’
But ye have not come to Christ; therefore ye have not been ‘taught of God.’ Ye have not been so taught, and therefore ye have not come; ye believe not. “Consider, 2. The utter inconsistency of most men’s lives with the principles which they profess. They profess to believe the Scripture; but how little are they concerned about what is revealed therein! How unconcerned are ye even about that weighty point, whether ye be born again, or not! Many live as they were born, and are like to die as they live, and yet live in peace. Do such believe the sinfulness of a natural state? Do they believe they are ‘children of wrath?’ Do they believe there is no salvation without regeneration? and no regeneration, but what makes man ‘a new creature’ O no! If ye did, ye could not live in your sins, live out of Christ, and yet hope for mercy. “Fifthly. Man is naturally high-minded. Lowliness is not a flower which grows in the field of nature. It is natural to man to think highly of himself and what is his own. ‘Vain man would be wise;’ so he accounts himself, and so he would be accounted by others.
His way is right, because it is ‘his own;’ for every way of man is right in his own eyes.’ He is ‘alive without the law;’ and therefore his hope is strong, and his confidence firm. It is another tower of Babel; the word batters it, yet it stands. One while breaches are made in it, but they are quickly repaired. At another time, it is all made to shake; but it is still kept up; till God’s Spirit raise an heart quake within the man, which tumbles it down, and leaves not one stone upon another.” “Thus much of the corruption of the understanding. Call the understanding, ‘Ichabod; for the glory is departed from it.’
Consider this, ye that are yet in the state of nature, and groan ye out your case before the Lord, that the Sun of Righteousness may arise upon you, before ye be shut up in everlasting darkness. What avails your worldly wisdom? What do all your attainments in religion avail, while your understanding lies wrapped up in darkness and confusion, utterly void of the light of life? “2. Nor is the will less corrupted than the understanding. It was at first faithful, and ruled with God; but now it is turned traitor against God, and rules with and for the devil. To open this plague of the heart, let the following things be considered: — “First. There is in the unrenewed will an utter inability for what is truly good in the sight of God. Indeed a natural man has a power to choose and do what is materially good; but though he can will what is good and right, he can do nothing aright and well. ‘Without me,’ that is, separate from me, ‘ye can do nothing;’ nothing truly and spiritually good. To evidence this, consider, — “ “
(1.) How often do men see the good they should choose, and the evil they should refuse; and yet their hearts have no more power to comply with their light, than if they were arrested by some invisible hand! Their consciences tell them the right way; yet cannot their will be brought up to it. Else, how is it, that the clear arguments on the side of virtue do, not bring men over to that side? Although heaven and hell were but a may be, even this would determine the will to holiness, could it be determined by reason. Yet so far is it from this, that men ‘knowing the judgment of God, that they who do such things are worthy of death, not envy do the lame, but have pleasure in them that do them.’ “
(2.) Let those who have been truly convinced of the spirituality of the law, speak, and tell if they then found themselves able to incline their hearts toward it. Nay, the more that light shone into their souls, did they not find their hearts more and more unable to comply with it?
Yea, there are some who are yet in the devil’s camp that can tell from their own experience, light let into the mind cannot give life to the will, or enable it to comply therewith. “Secondly. There is in the unrenewed will an awareness to good.
Sin is the natural man’s element; and he is as loath to part with it, as the fishes are to come out of the water. He is sick; but utterly averse to the remedy: He loves his disease, so that he loathes the Physician. He is a captive, a prisoner, and a slave; but he loves his conqueror, gaoler, and master. He is fond of his fetters, prison, and drudgery, and has no liking to his liberty. For evidence of this awareness to good in the will of man, — “Consider, “1. The untowardness of children. How averse are they to restraint!
Are they not ‘as bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke?’ Yea, it is far easier to tame young bullocks to the yoke, than to bring young children under discipline. Every man may see in this, as in a glass, that man is naturally wild and willful; that, according to Zophar’s observation, he ‘is born a wild ass’s colt.’ What can be said more? He is like a ‘colt,’ the colt of an ‘ass,’ the colt of a ‘wild ass; a wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away?’ “2. What pain and difficulty do men find in bringing their hearts to religious duties! And what a task is it to the natural man to abide at them! to leave the world but a little, and converse with God! When they are engaged in worldly business or company, time seems to fly, and is gone before they are aware. But how heavily does it drive, while a prayer, a sermon, or a Sabbath lasts! With many the Lord’s day is the longest day in the week; and therefore they must sleep longer that morning, and go sooner to bed that night, than ordinarily they do, that the day may be of a tolerable length. And still their hearts say, ‘When will the Sabbath be gone? “3. Consider how the will of the natural man ‘rebels against the light.’
Sometimes he is not able to keep it out; but he ‘loves darkness rather than light.’ The outer door of the understanding is broken open, but the inner door of the will remains shut. Corruption and conscience then encounter; till conscience is forced to give back; convictions are murdered, and truth is made and ‘held’ prisoner ‘in righteousness.’ “4. When the Spirit of the Lord is working a deeper work, yet what ‘resistance’ does the soul make! When he comes, he finds the ‘strong man keeping the house,’ while the soul is fast asleep in the devil’s arms, till the Lord awakens in the sinner, opens his eyes, and strikes him with terror, while the clouds are black above his head, and the sword of vengeance is held to his breast. But what pains is he at to put a fair face on a black heart! to shake off his fears, or make head against them! Carnal reason suggests, If it be ill with him, it will be ill with many. When he is beat from this, and sees no advantage in going to hell with company, he resolves to leave his sins; but cannot think of breaking off so soon; there is time enough, and he will do it afterwards.
When at length he is constrained to part with some sins, others are kept as right hands or right eyes. Nay, when he is so pressed, that he must needs say before the Lord, he is willing to part with all his idols, yet how long will his heart give the lie to his tongue, and prevent the execution of it! “Thirdly. There is in the will of man a natural proneness to evil.
Men are naturally ‘bent to backsliding from God;’ they hang (as the word is) towards backsliding. Leave the unrenewed will to itself, it will choose sin and reject holiness; and that as certainly as water poured on the side of a hill will run downward and not upward.” “1. Is not the way of evil the first way wherein the children of men go?
Do not their inclinations plainly appear on the wrong side, while they have not cunning to hide them? As soon as it appears we are reasonable creatures, it appears we are sinful creatures. ‘Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, till the rod of correction drives it from him.’ It is bound in the heart, woven into our very nature; nor will the knots loose; they must be broke asunder by strokes. Words will not do; the rod must be taken to drive it away. Not that the rod of itself will do this; the sad experience of many parents testifies the contrary.
And Solomon himself tells you, ‘Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.’ But the rod is an ordinance of God, appointed for that end; which, like the word, is made effectual, by the Spirit’s accompanying his own ordinance. “2. How easily men are led into sin! persuaded to evil, though not to good. Those whom the word cannot draw to holiness, Satan leads to wickedness at his pleasure. To learn doing ill is always easy to the unrenewed man; but to learn to do good is as difficult as for ‘the Ethiopian to change his skin.’ Were the will evenly poised between good and evil, one might be embraced with as much ease as the other.
But experience testifies it is not; yea, the experience of all ages. How often did the Israelites forsake the almighty God, and dote upon the idols of the nations! But did ever one of those nations forsake their idols, and grow fond of the God of Israel? No, no. Though man is naturally given to change, it is but from evil to evil; not from evil to good. Surely then the will of man stands not in equal balance, but has a cast on the wrong side. “3. Consider how men go on still in the way of sin, till they meet with a stop from another hand than their own. ‘I hid me, and he went on forwardly in the way of his own heart.’ If God withdraws his restraining hand, man is in no doubt which way to choose; for the way of sin is ‘the way of his heart;’ his heart naturally lies that way. As long as God suffereth them, all nations ‘walk in their own way.’ The natural man is so fixed in evil, that there needs no more to show he is off of God’s way, than to say, He is upon ‘his own.’ “Fourthly. There is a natural contrariety, a direct opposition, in the will of man to God himself. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the love of God, neither can be.’ “I have a charge against every unregenerate man and woman, to be proved by the testimony of Scripture, and their own conscience; namely, that, whether they have the form of religion or no, they are heart enemies to God; to the Son of God, to the Spirit of God, and to the law of God. Hear this, all ye careless souls, that live at ease in your natural state! “1. Ye are ‘enemies to God in your mind.’ Ye are not as yet; reconciled to him. The natural enmity is not slain, though perhaps it lies hid, and ye do not perceive it. Every natural man is an enemy to God, as he is revealed in his word, — to an infinitely holy, just, powerful, and true Being. In effect, men are naturally ‘haters of God;’ and if they could, they would certainly make him another than what he is.” “To convince you of this, let me propose a few queries:
(1.) How are your hearts affected to the infinite holiness of God? If ye are not ‘partakers of his holiness,’ ye cannot be reconciled to it. The Heathens, finding they were not like God in holiness, made their gods like themselves in filthiness; and thereby discovered what sort of a God the natural man would have. God is holy. Can an unholy creature love his unspotted holiness? Nay, it is ‘the righteous’ only that can ‘give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.’ God is light: Can creatures of darkness, and that walk in darkness, rejoice therein? Nay, ‘every one that doeth evil hateth the light.’ For what communion hath light with darkness?
(2.) How are your hearts affected to the justice of God? There is not a man who is wedded to his sins, but would be content with the blood of his body to blot that letter out of the name of God. Can the malefactor love his condemning judge; or an unjustified sinner a just God? No, he cannot. And hence, since men cannot get the doctrine of his justice blotted out of the Bible, yet it is such an eyesore to them, that they strive to blot it out of their minds; they ruin themselves by presuming on his mercy, saying in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.’
(3.) How are ye affected to the omniscience and omnipresence of God?
Men naturally would rather have a blind idol, than an all-seeing God; and therefore do what they can, as Adam did, to ‘hide themselves from the presence of the Lord.’ They no more love an omnipresent God, than the thief loves to have the judge witness to his evil deeds.
(4.) How are ye affected to the truth of God? How many hope that God will not be true to his word! There are thousands that hear the gospel, and hope to be saved, who never experienced the new birth, nor do at all concern themselves in that question, — whether they are born again or not. Our Lord’s words are plain and peremptory: ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’
What, then, are such hopes, but real hopes that God will recall his word, and that Christ will prove a false Prophet?
(5.) How are they affected to the power of God? None but new creatures can love him for it. Every natural man would contribute to the building another tower of Babel, to hem it in. On these grounds I declare every unrenewed man ‘an enemy to God.’” “2. Ye are enemies to the Son of God: That enmity to Christ is in your hearts, which would have made you join the ‘husbandmen who killed the heir and cast him out of the vineyard.’ ‘Am I a dog,’ ye will say, ‘to have so treated my dear Savior? ‘So said Hazael, in another case.
Yet how did he act? Many call him dear, to whom their sins are ten times dearer than their Savior. He is no otherwise dear to them, than as they abuse his death, for the peaceable enjoyment of their sins; that they may live as they list in this world, and, when they die, be kept out of hell. To convince you of this, I will lay before you the enmity of your hearts against Christ in all his offices: — “
(1.) Every unregenerate man is an enemy to Christ in his prophetic office. For evidence of this, consider, — “
(i.) The entertainment he meets with, when he comes to teach souls ‘inwardly’ by his ‘Spirit.’ Men do what they can to stop their ears, that they may not hear his voice. They ‘always resist the Holy Ghost;’ they ‘desire not the knowledge of his ways.’ The old calumny is thrown upon him again: ‘He is mad; why hear ye him?’ ‘The spirit of bondage’ is accounted by many mere distraction and melancholy:
(ii.) Consider the entertainment he meets with, when he comes to teach men outwardly by his word.” “ 1st . His written word, the Bible, is slighted. Many lay by their Bibles with their Sunday clothes. Alas! the dust about your Bibles is a witness of the enmity of your hearts against Christ as a Prophet. And of those who read them oftener, how few are there that read them as the word of the Lord to their souls in particular, so as to keep up communion with God therein! Hence they are strangers to the solid comfort of the Scriptures; and if at any time they are dejected, it is something else, and not the word of God, which revives their drooping spirits. “ 2nd . Christ’s word preached is despised. Men can, without remorse, make to themselves one silent Sabbath after another. And, alas! when they ‘tread his courts,’ how little reverence and awe of God appears on their spirits! Many stand like brazen walls before the word, on whom it makes no breach at all. Nay, not a few are growing worse and worse, notwithstanding ‘precept upon precept.’ What tears of blood are sufficient to lament this! Remember, we are just the ‘voice of one crying.’ The Speaker is in heaven: Yet ye refuse Him that speaketh, and prefer the prince of darkness before the Prince of Peace. A dismal darkness over spread the world by Adam’s fall, more terrible than if the sun and moon had been extinguished. And it must have covered us eternally, had not ‘the grace of God appeared’ to dispel it. But we fly from it, and, like the wild beasts, lay ourselves down in our dens. Such is the enmity of the hearts of men against Christ in his prophetic office. “
(2.) The natural man is an enemy to Christ in his priestly office. He is appointed of the Father ‘a Priest for ever,’ that, by his sacrifice and intercession alone, sinners may have access to, and peace with, God.
But ‘Christ crucified’ is ever a stumbling block and foolishness to the unregenerate part of mankind. “None of Adam’s children naturally incline to receive the blessing in borrowed robes, but would always climb up to heaven on a threads spun out of their own bowels. They look on God as a great Master, and themselves as his servants, that must work and win heaven as their wages. Hence, when conscience awakes, they think that, to be saved, they must answer the demands of the law; serve God as well as they can, and pray for mercy wherein they come short. And thus many come to duties, that never come out of them to Christ. “Indeed, the natural man, going to God in duties, will continually be found, either to go without a Mediator, or with more mediators than one. Nature is blind, and therefore venturous; it puts men on going immediately to God without Christ. Converse with many hearers of the gospel on their hopes of salvation, and the name of Christ will scarce be heard from their mouth. Ask them, how they think to find the pardon of sin. They say, they look for mercy, because God is a merciful God; and this is all they have to trust in.
Others look for mercy for Christ’s sake. But how do they know Christ will take their plea in hand? Why, they pray, mourn, confess, and have great desires. So they have something of their own to recommend them to him. They were never made ‘poor in spirit,’ and brought empty-handed to God, to lay the stress of all on his atoning blood. “
(3.) The natural man is an enemy to Christ in his kingly office. “How unwilling are natural men to submit to the laws and discipline of his kingdom! However they may be brought to some outward submission to the King of saints, yet sin always retains its throne in their hearts, and they are ‘serving diverse lusts and pleasures.’ None but those in whom Christ is formed do really put the crown on his head. None but these receive the kingdom of Christ within them, and let him set up and put dawn in their souls as he will. As for others, any Lord shall sooner have the rule over them than the Lord of glory. They kindly entertain his enemies, and will never absolutely resign themselves to his government.
The natural man is unholy, and loves to be so; and therefore ‘resists the Holy Ghost.’ The work of the Spirit is to ‘convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.’ But O, how do men strive to ward off these convictions, as they would a blow that threatened their life!
If the Spirit dart them in, so that they cannot avoid them, does not the heart say, ‘Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?’ And indeed they treat him as an enemy, doing their utmost to stifle their convictions, and to murder these harbingers that come to prepare the way of the Lord into the soul. Some fill their hands with business, to put convictions out of their head, as Cain, who tell to building a city. Some put them off with fair promises, as Felix did; some sport or sleep them away. And how can it be otherwise? For it is the work of the Holy Spirit to subdue lusts, and burn up corruption. How then can he whose lusts are dear as his life fail of being an enemy to Him? “Lastly. Ye are enemies to the law of God. Though the natural man ‘desires to be under the law,’ as a covenant of works; yet as it is a rule of life, he ‘is not subject to it, neither indeed can be.’ For,
(1.) Every natural man is wedded to some sin, which he cannot part with. And as he cannot bring up his inclinations to the law, he would fain bring down the law to his inclinations. And this is a plain, standing evidence of the enmity of his heart against it.
(2.) The law, set home on the awakened conscience in its spirituality, irritates corruption. It is as oil to the fire, which, instead of quenching, makes it flame the soar. ‘When the commandment comes, sin revives.’
What reason can be assigned for this, but the natural enmity of the heart against the holy law? We conclude then, that the unregenerate are heart-enemies to God, his Son, his Spirit, and his law; that there is a natural contrariety, opposition, and enmity in the will of man, to God himself and his holy will. “Fifthly. The unrenewed will is wholly perverse, in reference to the end of man. Man is a merely dependent being; having no existence or goodness originally from himself; but all he has is from God, as the first cause and spring of all perfection, natural and moral. Dependence is woven into his very nature; so that, should God withdraw from him, he would sink in to nothing. Since then whatever man is, he is of Him, surely whatever he is, he should be to Him; as the waters which came out of the sea return thither again. And thus man was created looking directly to God, and his last end; but, falling into sin, he fell off from God, and turned into himself. Now, this infers a total apostasy and universal corruption in man; for where the last end is changed, there can be no real goodness. And this is the case of all men in their natural state:
They seek not God, but themselves. Hence though many fair shreds of morality are among them, yet ‘there is none that doeth, good, no, not one.’ For though some of them ‘run well,’ they are still off the way; they never aim at the right mark. Whithersoever they move, they cannot move beyond the circle of self. They seek themselves, they act for themselves; their natural, civil, and religious actions, from whatever spring they come, do all run into, and meet in, this dead sea. “Most men are so far from making God their end in their natural and civil actions, that he is not in all their thoughts. They eat and drink for no higher end, than their own pleasure or necessity. Nor do the drops of sweetness God has put into the creatures raise their souls toward that ocean of delights that; are in the Creator.
And what are the natural man’s civil actions, such as buying, selling, working, but fruit to himself? Yea, self is the highest end of unregenerate men, even in their religious actions. They perform duties for a name; for some worldly interest; or, at best, in order to escape from hell. They seek not God at all, but for their own interest. So that God is only the means, and self their end. “Thus have I given a rude drought of man’s will in his natural state, drawn from Scripture and our own experience. Now, since all must be wrong where the understanding and will are so corrupt, I shall briefly despatch what remains. “3. The affections are corrupted; wholly disordered and distempered.
They are like an unruly horse, that either will not receive, or violently runs away with, the rider. Man’s heart is naturally a mother of abominations: ‘For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness.’ The natural man’s affections are wholly misplaced; he is a spiritual monster. His heart is, where his feet should be, fixed on earth: His heels are lifted up against heaven, which his heart should be set on: His face is toward hell, his back toward heaven. He loves what he should hate, and hates what he should love; joys in what he ought to mourn for, and mourns for what he should rejoice in; glories in his shame, and is ashamed of his glory; abhors what he should desire, and desires what he should abhor. If his affections are set on lawful objects, they are either excessive or defective. These objects have either too little of them, or too much. But spiritual things have always too little.” “Here is ‘a threefold cord’ against Heaven, not easily broken,— a blind mind, a perverse will, disordered affections. The mind, swelled with pride, says, The man should not stoop, the will, opposite to the will of God, says, He will not; and the corrupt affections, rising against the Lord, in defense of the corrupt will, say, He shall not. And thus we stand out against God, till we are created anew in Christ Jesus. “4. The conscience is corrupt and defiled. It cannot do its work, but according to the light it hath to work by. Wherefore, seeing ‘the natural man discerneth not spiritual things,’ his conscience is quite useless in that point. It may indeed check for grosser sins; but spiritual sins it discerns not. Thus it will fly in the face of many for drunkenness; who yet have a profound peace though they live in unbelief, and are utter strangers to spiritual worship and ‘the life of faith.’ And the light of his conscience being faint and languishing even in the things which it does reach, its incitement to duty, and struggles against sin, are very remiss and easily got over. But there is also a false light in the dark mind, which often ‘calls evil good, and good evil.’ And such a conscience is like a blind and furious horse, which violently runs down all that comes in his way. Indeed, whenever conscience is awakened by the spirit of conviction, it will rage and roar, and put the whole man in a consternation. It makes the stiff heart to tremble, and the knees to bow; sets the eyes a weeping, the tongue a confessing. But still it is an evil conscience which naturally leads only to despair; and will do it effectually, unless either sin prevails over it to lull it asleep, as in the case of Felix, or the blood of Christ prevail over it, sprinkling and ‘purging it from dead works.’ “Thus is man by nature wholly corrupted. But whence came this total corruption of our nature? That man’s nature was corrupt, the very Heathens perceived; but how ‘sin entered’ they could not tell.
But the Scripture is very plain in the point: ‘By one man sin entered into the world.’ ‘By one man’s disobedience many’ (all) ‘were made sinners.’ Adam’s sin corrupted man’s nature, and leavened the whole lump of mankind. We putrefied in Adam as our root. The root was poisoned, and so the branches were envenomed.
The vine turned ‘the vine of Sodom,’ and so the grapes became ‘grapes of gall.’ Adam, by his sin, became not only guilty, but; corrupt; and so transmits guilt and corruption to his posterity. By his sin he stripped himself of his original righteousness and corrupted himself. We were in him representatively, as our moral head; we were in him seminally, as our natural head. Hence we fell in him; (as Levi ‘paid tithes’ when ‘in the loins of Abraham;’) ‘by his disobedience’ we ‘were made sinners;’ his first sin is imputed to us. And we are left without that original righteousness which, being given to him as a common person, he cast off. And this is necessarily followed, in him and us, by the corruption of our whole nature; righteousness and corruption being two contraries, one of which must always be in man. And Adam our common father, being corrupt, so are we; for, ‘who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?’ “It remains only to apply this doctrine.
Then, “1. No wonder the grave opens its devouring mouth for us as soon as the womb has cast us forth. For we are all, in a spiritual sense, deadborn; yea, and ‘filthy,’ ( Psalm 14:3) noisome, rank, and stinking, as a corrupt thing; so the word imports. Let us not complain of the miseries we are exposed to at our entrance, or during our continuance, in the world. Here is the venom that has poisoned all the springs of earthly enjoyments. It is the corruption of human nature, which brings forth all the miseries of life. “2. Behold here, as in a glass, the spring of all the wickedness, profaneness, and formality in the world. Every thing acts agreeable to its own nature; and so corrupt man acts corruptly. You need not wonder at the sinfulness of your own heart and life, nor at the sinfulness and perverseness of others. If a man be crooked, he cannot but halt; and if the clock be set wrong, how can it point the hour right? “3. See here why sin is so pleasant, and religion such a burden, to men: Sin is natural; holiness not so. Oxen cannot feed in the sea, nor fishes in the fruitful field. A swine brought into a palace would prefer the mire. And corrupt nature tends ever to impurity. “4. Learn from hence the nature and necessity of regeneration.
(1.) The nature: It is not a partial, but a total, change. Thy whole nature is corrupted; therefore, the whole must be renewed. ‘All things’ must ‘become new.’ If a man who had received many wounds were cured of all but one, he might still bleed to death. It is not a change made by human industry, but by the almighty Spirit of God. A man must be ‘born of the Spirit.’ Our nature is corrupt, and none but the God of nature can change it. Man may pin a new life to an old heart, but he can never change the heart.
(2.) The necessity: It is absolutely necessary in order to salvation. ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ No unclean thing can enter ‘the new Jerusalem:’ But thou art by nature wholly unclean. Deceive not thyself: No mercy of God, no blood of Christ, will bring an unregenerate sinner to heaven. For God will never open a fountain of mercy to wash away his own holiness and truth; nor did Christ shed his precious blood to blot out the truths of God.
Heaven! What would you do there, who are not born again’ A holy Head, and corrupt members! A Head full of treasures of grace, members filled with treasures of wickedness! Ye are no ways adapted to the society above, more than beasts to converse with men. Could the unrenewed man go to heaven, he would go to it no otherwise than now he comes to the duties of holiness, that is, leaving his heart behind him. “We may apply this doctrine, Secondly, for lamentation . Well may we lament thy case, O natural man; for it is the saddest case one can be in out of hell. It is time to lament for thee; for thou art dead already, dead while thou livest.
Thou carriest about a dead soul in a living body; and because thou art dead, canst not lament thy own case. ‘Thou hast no good in thee;’ thy soul is a mass of darkness, rebellion, and vileness, before God. Thou ‘canst do no good;’ thou canst do nothing but sin. For thou art ‘the servant of sin,’ and, therefore, free from righteousness; thou dost not, canst not, meddle with it. Thou art ‘under the dominion of sin’ a dominion where righteousness can have no place. Thou art a child and a servant of the devil as long as thou art in a state of nature. But, to prevent any mistake, consider that Satan hath two kinds of servants. There are some employed, as it were, in coarser work. These bear the devil’s mark in their foreheads; having no form of godliness; not so much as performing the external duties of religion; but living apparently as sons of earth, only minding earthly things. Whereas, others are employed in more refined work, who carry his mark in their right hand, which they can and do hide, by a form of religion, from the view of the world. These sacrifice to the corrupt mind, as the other to the flesh. Pride, unbelief, self-pleasing, and the like spiritual sins, prey on their corrupted, wholly corrupted, souls. Both are servants of the same house, equally void of righteousness. “Indeed, how is it possible thou shouldest be able to do any thing good, whose nature is wholly corrupt? ‘Can an evil tree bring forth good fruit? Do men gather grapes of thorns?’ If then thy nature be totally evil, all thou doest is certainly so too. “Hear, O sinner, what is thy case! Innumerable sins compass thee about; floods of impurities overwhelm thee. Sins of all sorts roll up and down in the dead sea of thy soul; where no good can breathe, because of the corruption there. Thy lips are unclean; the opening of thy mouth is as the opening of a grave, full of stench and rottenness. Thy natural actions are sin; for when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?’ ( Zechariah 7:6) Thy civil actions are sin: ‘The ploughing of the wicked is sin.’ ( Proverbs 21:4) Thy religious actions are sin: ‘The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.’ The thoughts and imaginations of thy heart are ‘only evil continually.’ A deed may be soon done, a word soon spoken, a thought pass; but each of these is an item in thy accounts. O sad reckoning! As many thoughts, words, actions, so many sins; and the longer thou livest, thy accounts swell the more. Should a tear be dropped for every sin, thine eyes must be ‘fountains of tears.’
For nothing but sin comes from thee; thy heart frames nothing but evil imaginations; there is nothing in thy life, but what is framed by thy heart; therefore, there is nothing in thy heart or life but evil. “And all thy religion, if thou hast any, is lost labor, if thou art not born again: Truly then thy duties are sins. Would not the best wine be loathsome in a foul vessel? So is the religion of an unregenerate man. Thy duties cannot make thy corrupt soul holy; but thy corrupt heart makes them unclean. Thou wast wont to divide thy works into two sorts; to count some good, and some evil. But thou must count again, and put all under one head; for God writes on them all, ‘only evil.’ “And thou canst not help thyself. What canst thou do to take away thy sin, who art wholly corrupt? Will mud and filth wash our filthiness? And wilt thou purge out sin by sinning? Job took a potsherd to scrape himself, because his hands were as full of boils as his body. This is the case of thy corrupt soul, so long as thou art in a state of nature. Thou art poor indeed, extremely ‘miserable and poor;’ thou hast no shelter, but a refuge of lies; no garment for thy soul, but ‘filthy rags;’ nothing to nourish it, but husks that cannot satisfy. More than that, thou hast got such a bruise in the loins of Adam, that thou art ‘without strength,’ unable to do anything. Nay, more than all this, thou canst; not so much as seek aright, but liest helpless, as an infant exposed in the open field. “O that ye would believe this sad truth! How little is it believed in the world! Few are concerned to have their evil lives reformed; but fewer far, to have their evil nature changed. Most men know not what they are; as the eye, which, seeing many things, never sees itself. But until ye know every one ‘the plague of his own heart,’ there is no hope of your recovery. Why will ye not believe the plain testimony of Scripture? Alas! that is the nature of your disease. ‘Thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.’ Lord, open their eyes, before they lift them up in hell, and see what they will not see now! “Meantime, let us have a special eye upon the corruption and sin of our nature. What avails it to take notice of other sins, while this mother sin is unnoticed? This is a weighty point; in speaking to which, I shall, — “1. Point at some evidences of men’s overlooking the sin of their nature. As
(1.) Men’s being so confident of themselves, as if they were in no danger of gross sins. Many would take heinously such a caution as Christ gave his Apostles: ‘Take heed of surfeiting and drunkenness.’
(2.) Untenderness toward them that fall. Many, in this case, cast off all bowels of compassion; a plain proof that they do not know, or ‘consider themselves, lest they also be tempted.’ Grace, indeed, does make men zealous against sin, in others as well as in themselves. But eyes turned inward to the corruption of nature, clothe them with pity and compassion, and fill them with thankfulness, that they were not the persons left to be such spectacles of human frailty.
(3.) Men’s venturing so boldly on temptation, in confidence of their coming off fairly. Were they sensible of the corruption of their nature, they would beware of entering on the devil’s ground; as one girt about with bags of gunpowder would be loath to walk where sparks of fire were flying. “2. I shall mention a few things in which ye should have a special eye to the sin of your nature.
(1.) In your application to Christ. When you are with the Physician, O forget not this disease! They never yet knew their errand to Christ, who went not to Him for the sin of their nature; for his blood to take away the guilt and his Spirit to break the power of it. Though ye should lay before him a catalogue of sins, which might reach from earth to heaven, yet if you omit this, you have forgot the best part of the errand a poor sinner has to the Physician of souls.
(2.) Have a special eye to it in your repentance. If you would repent indeed, let the streams lead you up to the fountain, and mourn over your corrupt nature, as the cause of all sin, in heart, word, and work. ‘Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.’
(3.) Have a special eye to it in your mortification. ‘Crucify the flesh with its affections and desires.’ It is the root of bitterness which must be struck at, else we labor in vain. In vain do we go about to purge the streams, if we are at no pains about the Muddy fountain.
(4.) Ye are to eye this in your daily walk. He that would walk uprightly, must have one eye upward to Jesus Christ, another inward to the corruption of his own nature. “3. I shall offer some reasons, why we should especially observe the sin of our nature.
(1.) Because, of all sins, it is the most extensive and diffusive. It goes through the whole man, and spoils all. Other sins mark particular parts of the image of God; but this defaces the whole. It is the poison of the old serpent cast into the fountain, and so infects every action, every breathing of the soul. “
(2.) It is the cause of all particular sins, both in our hearts and lives. ‘Out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries,’ and all other abominations. It is the bitter fountain; and particular lusts are but rivulets running from it, which bring forth into the life a part oddly, not the whole, of what is within. “
(3.) It is virtually all sins; for it is the seed of all, which want but the occasion to set up their heads. Hence it is called, ‘a body of death,’ as consisting of the several members which constitute that ‘body of sins,’ ( Colossians 2:11) whose life lies in spiritual death. It is the cursed ground, fit to bring forth all manner of noxious weeds. Never did every sin appear in the conversation of the vilest wretch that ever lived. But look into thy nature, and thou mayest see all and every sin in the root thereof. There is a fullness of all unrighteousness there; — Atheism, idolatry, adultery, murder. Perhaps none of these appear to thee in thy heart; but there is more in that unfathomable depth of wickedness than thou knowest. “
Sinful actions are transient, though the guilt and stain of them may remain. But the corruption of nature passes not away. It; remains in its full power, by night and by day, at all times, till nature is changed by converting grace.” “You may observe three things in the corrupt heart:
(ii.) There are particular lusts or dispositions of that corrupt nature, such as pride, passion, covetousness.
(iii.) There is one of these stronger than all the rest, — ‘the sin which doth so easily beset us.’ So that the river divides into many streams, whereof one is greater than the rest. The corruption of nature is the river head, which has many particular lusts wherein it runs; but it mainly disburdens itself into that which we call the predominant sin.
But as in some rivers the main stream runs not always in the same channel, so the besetting sin may change; as lust in youth may be succeeded by covetousness in old age. Now, what does it avail, to reform in other things, while the reigning sin retains its full power?
What, if a particular sin be gone? If the sin of our nature keep the throne, it will set up another in its stead; — as when a watercourse is stopped in one place, it will break forth in another. Thus some cast off their prodigality; but covetousness comes in its stead. Some quit their profaneness; but the same stream runs in the other channel of self-righteousness. “That you may have a full view of the sin of your nature, I would recommend to you three things: — 1. Study to know the spirituality and the extent of the law of God; for that is the glass wherein you may see yourselves. 2. Observe your hearts at all times; but especially under temptation. Temptation is a fire that brings up the scum of the unregenerate heart. 3. Go to God through Jesus Christ, for illumination by his Spirit.
Say unto him, ‘What I know not, teach thou me!’ and be willing to take in light from the word. It is by the word the Spirit teacheth; but unless he teach, all other teaching is to little purpose. You will never see yourself aright, till he light his candle in your breast.
Neither the fullness and glory of Christ, nor the corruption and vileness of our nature, ever were, or can be, rightly learned, but where the Spirit of Christ is the teacher.” “To conclude: Let the consideration of what has been said commend Christ to you all. Ye that are brought out of your natural state, be humble; still coming to Christ, still cleaving to him, for the purging out what remains of your natural corruption Ye that are; yet in your natural state, what will ye do? Ye must die; ye must stand at the judgment seat of God. Will you lie down, and sleep another night at ease in this case! See ye do it not. Before another day you may be set before his dreadful tribunal, in the grave clothes of your corrupt state, and your vile souls cast into the pit of destruction, to be forever buried out of God’s sight: For I testify unto you, there is no peace with God, no pardon, no heaven for you in this state. There is but a step betwixt you and eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord. If this brittle thread of life, which may be broke with a touch in a moment, or ever you are aware, be broke while you are in this state, you are ruined forever, and without remedy. But come ye speedily to Jesus Christ. He hath cleansed as vile souls as yours. ‘Confess your sins;’ and he will both ‘forgive your sins, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.’”\parBRISTOL, August 17, 1757.