« AnteriorContinuar »
and this, surely, falls but little short of a denial of their Divine inspiration.
2. The language in which the inspired writers describe the mor· al state of unrenewed men, proves that their hearts are void of holiness. The sacred writers uniformly represent unrenewed men, as being spiritually deaf, spiritually blind, and spiritually dead. But, as it would not be proper to represent those as naturally deaf, blind and dead, who can hear and see, and have even some feeble remains of animal life; so neither would it be proper to represent those as spiritually deaf, blind and dead, who have some spiritual sense and discernment of spiritual things, and some degree of spiritual life. It is as absurd to say, that a man is spiritually dead, who has some holy affections of heart, as to say, that a man is naturally dead, who breathes and moves, and has the use of his senses and mental faculties. When, therefore, the prophet, speaking of unrenewed men, says, "Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see-Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears;" his words imply, that they are void of that spiritual discernment, which consists in holy affections of heart. -And when the apostle says to saints, "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" his words imply, that before their regeneration, they were entirely destitute of that spiritual life, which consists in holy love to God and men. But, what saints were, before their regeneration, sinners are now.
void of all holy affections and exercises. The sacred writers uniformly denominate all those saints or renewed persons, who have any true love to God, any true repentance for sin, any true faith in Christ, any self-denial, or any other holy exercise, in any degree. We never find them stating the quantity of holiness, which one must have, in order to be a saint. They say, without the least qualification," He that loveth, is born of God." We may justly conclude, therefore, that in the view of the inspired writers, the hearts of all unrenewed men are utterly void of every holy affection and exercise. And indeed, if there be any conceivable difference between saints and sinners, between the regenerate and unregenerate, it must lie in this, that saints have some holiness of heart, whereas sinners have none. For, there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not.' Every saint has sinful affections and exercises, more or less, intermixed with his holy ones. But, if saints have some sinful exercises, intermixed with their holy ones; and sinners have some holy exercises, intermixed with their sinful ones; how is it possible to point out any real and essential difference between them? If we say, that a saint is one who has more holy exercises than others; we only express a comparative and not an essential difference between them; which is as really the difference between one saint and another, as it is supposed to be, between a saint and a sinner. If we say, again, that a saint is one, who has more holy exercises than sinful ones; this does not mark any 3. That the manner in which the essential difference between saints sacred writers distinguish unre- and sinners: and upon this supponewed persons from the regene-sition, none, but the Searcher of rate, sinners from saints, affords conclusive evidence, that the hearts of men, in their natural state, are
It may be added,
hearts, could ever tell, who are saints and who are sinners; and He, only by a direct revelation
from heaven. If, therefore, the sacred writers are correct, in making an essential distinction between saints and sinners, it must be true, that the hearts of unrenewed men are entirely void of every holy affection and exercise.
Having attempted thus briefly to establish the truth deduced from our text, I shall now ask your attention to a few, plain inferences, which seem, unavoidably, to follow, from what has been said.
1. If the hearts of men are naturally void of holiness, then they are full of sin. As the heart is voluntary, all its exercises have a moral quality. There are but two sorts of moral exercises, holy and sinful. And as the affections and feelings of the heart, always extend to all the moral objects in view of the understanding; so the heart of every person may be said to be always full of holiness or full of sin. Since, therefore, the hearts of unrenewed men, are wholly destitute of holy affections and exercises, they must, of course, be full of sinful affections and exercises. Accordingly, we have this account of fallen man, in Genesis: "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, was evil, only evil, continually." Solomon writes; "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil." To which the apostle adds; "The carnal mind is enmity against God." Hence,
rive all their moral qualities. The actions of men, therefore, are good or bad, as their hearts are holy or sinful. Since, then, the hearts of unrenewed men are void of holiness and full of evil; it follows, that all their actions are sinful and displeasing to God. And so they are represented to be, in the scriptures of truth. In the fourteenth Psalm, we read; They are corrupt; they have done abominable works; there is none that doeth good. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God.They are all gone aside; they are together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Solomon says, that the plowing of the wicked is sin, and his prayer abomination." In his epistle to the Romans, Paul writes- We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous; no, not one; there is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known." To which the apostle adds, in the
2. It follows, that all the actions of unrenewed men, are sinful.-eighth chapter of the same epistle, The heart is the seat of moral ac- "The carnal mind is enmity against tion. The motions of the bodily God; for it is not subject to the organs, are actions, only as they law of God, neither indeed can be; are connected with choice and so then, they that are in the flesh volition. Whenever men act as cannot please God." To which rational, accountable creatures, we may subjoin the words of the their actions flow from their hearts. great Teacher sent from God, A From the feelings and exercises of corrupt tree bringeth not forth good the heart, the actions of men de-fruit-An evil man, out of the evil
treasure of the heart, bringeth forth evil things.' Hence,
3. There is propriety in saying, that unrenewed men are totally depraved. By this phrase, it is not meant, that the material organs of the body, or the natural faculties of the mind are depraved. But, the meaning is, that every thing in unrenewed men, which is of a moral nature, is depraved. And the truth of this directly and necessarily follows from what has been advanced. For, if the hearts of unrenewed men are not only void of holiness, but full of evil; and if all their actions, which flow from their hearts, are, consequently, sinful and offensive to God; then their moral depravity is total; and there can be no reasonable objection to the use of the term. If it be said that this term is not found in sacred scripture, the same may be said of the term morality, and of many others in common use. If we may never use a word, which is not found in scripture, then we must never explain scripture, or tell in what sense we understand it. The scriptures can never be explained by barely repeating the words and phrases of the sacred writers. It is presumed, that no one will object to the use of the term total depravity, who is willing to admit the true and scriptural idea, as expressed by the evangelical poet, that in their natural state,
The hearts of men are all unclean,
And all their actions guilt.' 4. If there is no holiness in the hearts of unrenewed men; we may hence learn, why all sorts of sinners need to be regenerated, in order to be admitted into heaven. This was the emphatick declaration of our Lord, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man (any man) be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." This has
appeared strange to thousands, besides Nicodemus.
But, if the hearts of all sinners are totally unholy; it is not difficult to see, that they must experience a change of heart, in order to be received to heaven; for "Without holinesss, no man shall see the Lord." The moral sinner needs precisely the same change of heart, as the vicious sinner; the pharisaical professor needs precisely the same change of heart, as the profane infidel. No sinner is qualified to endure the presence of the holy God, or to join in the employments and partake of the enjoyments of the heavenly world, without a radical change of heart.
5. We may infer, from what has been said, that the doctrine of universal salvation is groundless. If, as Arminians hold, there were some holiness in the heart of every man by nature, it would be difficult to refute the doctrine of the Universalists; for, according to the scriptures, the exercise of holiness, in any degree, is connected with salvation. Upon supposition, that none of mankind is destitute of holiness, it seems as easy to prove from scripture, that all will be saved, as to prove that any will be saved. Besides, as the sentiment that there is some holiness in the hearts of men by nature, denies the essential difference between saints and sinners; if it were true, it would seem difficult to see, as Dr. Paley suggests, why the condition of the least sinner, in the world to come, should be worse than that of the least saint. And hence it is, that Arminians so easily slide into the notion, that all
mankind will be saved.
But if, as we have seen, there is an essential difference between saints and sinners; if the hearts of sinners are void of holiness and full of sin; it must follow, that all
who die unrenewed, will be excluded from heaven. The essential difference between the moral characters of saints and sinners, furnishes a good reason for the wide separation, which, as the word of God informs us, will be made between them, at the day of judgment.
7. We infer from what has been said, that the condition of unrenewed sinners is very dangerous. They are void of holiness, full of sin, unfit for heaven, and fitted for
6. If what has been said be true; then saints have reason to be humble. They were by nature chil-destruction. And though their dedren of wrath, even as others.' It was not because they were better than others, that they were made the happy subjects of renewing grace. They were totally depraved, and did nothing but sin and offend God, till renewed by the Holy Spirit: as the apostle says to the Ephesians, "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. ? Well, then, may all saints adopt the words of the same apostle, "Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy hath he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ."
pravity is seated in their hearts, and is therefore voluntary and inexcusable; yet it will remain, until they die in their sins, unless their hearts shall be renewed by the Holy Spirit; which they have no reason to expect: for, as they are averse from all the feelings and exercises of the new heart, and therefore never use means to get it; so they resist the strivings of the Spirit, and by their continual sinning provoke God to with hold from them his renewing grace.
But, not only were the hearts of saints void of holiness, before they were born of God; they are often void of holiness since. Even now,
FOR THE HOPKINSIAN MAGAZINE.
ON THE SABBATH.
Though professed Christians have generally been agreed as to the obligation which men are under, to observe a Sabbath; yet they have differed respecting the ground of the obligation, the day to be kept, the time when it begins, and the manner of keeping it. The subject is, confessedly, of sufficient
Such is the real state of all unTheir case renewed sinners. would be hopeless, if God were not able to raise the dead, and quicken whom he will. Their case would be hopeless, were it not for this glorious truth, against which their hearts never fail to rise, that God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.'
importance to claim a serious and attentive consideration.
The word Sabbath originally means rest. The Sabbath is a day of rest from the ordinary labours and pursuits of life, for the purpose of worshipping God, and attending, in a special manner, to the duties and exercises of Religion.
As the light of nature teaches men, that there is a God; so it teaches them, that it is their duty to worship Him, and perform reli
gious services. And if God ought to be worshipped, then there ought to be some particular portion of time set apart for that purpose.— As there are but a few of mankind, who have sufficient leisure, amidst the ordinary cares and concerns of life, to attend to the duties of Religion; it is necessary, that there should be a cessation of labour, for this end, as well as for the rest and refreshment of the body. It is also obvious, that there should be some fixed and stated portion of time set apart for Divine worship; that those, who belong to the same society or community, may not interrupt and disturb one another. And, without doubt, there is some particular proportion of time, better suited, in the nature of things, than any other, to answer the purposes of a Sabbath. The stated seasons of rest and devotion, may be too far asunder, so as not to afford sufficient refreshment to the laborious part of mankind, nor give sufficient opportunity for refigious worship; or they may be too near together, so as to hinder the necessary employments and avocations of life. But, though there is, unquestionably, a certain proportion of time, best suited, in the nature of things, to the important purposes of a Sabbath; yet reason alone is not able to discover, precisely, what that proportion of time is, whether one day in six, or one day in seven, or one in eight. To teach men their duty in this respect, as well as in a thousand others, there was need of a Divine Revelation. Accordingly,
had no sooner finished the work of creation, than he separated and sanctified a seventh part of time, to be observed as a holy Sabbath. Of this the sacred Historian gives us an account in the second chapter of Genesis. "Then the heavens and
the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the sev
enth day, God ended his work, which IIe had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all his works, which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his works, which God created and made." It is very evident from this passage, that it is the will of God, that mankind. in all ages, should observe a weekly Sabbath. It is expressly said, that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: and the reason assigned, is, that, after the six days' work of creation, He rested, on the seventh day, from all his work, which He had made. God might have created the universe in six seconds, as well as in six days, if He had seen fit. It is not to be supposed, that He was fatigued with the work of creation. When it is said, He rested, the meaning is merely, that He ceased. And thus He taught all men, by his Divine example, to labour six days, and rest on the seventh, devoting it to God and religion.
Dr. Paley, and others, who deny the perpetual obligation of the Sabbath, labour to make it appear, that, as Moses wrote this passage in the second chapter of Genesis, after the giving of the Law on Mount Sanai, his meaning must be, not that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day then, immediately upon the creation; but that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day, at the time of giving the Law, for this reason, because He made the world in six days, and
rested on the seventh.
But, to this it may be replied: First, That to take this to be the meaning of Moses, is to suppose
that he wrote very immethodically, and in a way calculated to deceive his readers; which is not easily reconciled with the infallibility of an inspired penman. But,
Secondly, Admitting that Moses