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much that it repented the Lord that he had made man, and it grieved him at his heart.' (Gen. vi. 5.)
Par. This was spoken of the impious generation which was destroyed in the days of Noah.
Min.-The waters of the flood which washed that generation from off the face of the earth, could not wash inbred sin from the hearts of the surviving few; for the Lord charges upon them, after the deluge, what you would confine to the Antediluvian world, i. e., the corruption of the imagination of man's heart from his youth.' (Gen. viii. 21.) Noah, the best of them, as it were to prove the charge true, 'lies uncovered in his tent ;' and that second parent of mankind makes himself so vile by his drunkenness and nakedness, that he becomes a laughing-stock even to his accursed son. (Gen. ix. 41.)
Par. The prophets who came after Moses spake more favourably of mankind than he.
Min.-Not at all :-They describe the baseness and ́sinfulness of man as fully and clearly as he does. One of Job's friends observes, that man is born like a wild ass's colt;' like the ass, whose stupidity is natural; like the wild ass, which is unruly as well as stupid; nay, and like the wild ass's colt, which is still more refractory and blockish than its dam. (Job. xi. 12.)
"The Lord looked down from heaven,' says David, ' upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek after God: They are all gone aside, they are altogether become abominable; there is none that doeth good, no not one.' (Psalm xiv, 3.) And no wonder, for St. Paul informs us, that the 'carnal mind,' the mind of every natural man, is eumity with God.' (Rom. viii. 7.) Jeremiah confirms the mournful truth, where he says, 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked :' (Chap. xvii. 9 :) And our Lord himself sets his seal to it where he tells us,- Out of the heart, [as out of their natural source,] proceed evil thoughts, mur
ders, adulteries, blasphemies,' and all moral evil. (Matt. xv. 19.)
Par.-1 apprehend that these scriptures must be understood of Heathens, and not of mankind in general, much less of the people of God.
Min.—Your apprehending this to be the case, does not prove it. The words Man, Mind, and Heart, are all unlimited, and belong to every individual of the human race; and God, so far from supposing his people better than others by nature, complains, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel does not know, my people doth not consider : It is a sinful nation, a nation laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers :-Jacob is a transgressor from the womb.' (Isa. i. 3; xlviii. 8.)
Par. This respects the corrupted state of the Jews, and hath no reference to Christians.
Min.-Suffer the Prophet to answer, and the Apostle to silence your objection. Isaiah says, iu speaking of those for whom the Messias was wounded, (and I hope you will not exclude Christians from that number,) 'All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one unto his own way;' (Isa. liii. 6 ;) and St. Paul adds, Are we better than they? No, in no wise, for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles,' which make up the whole world, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.' Therefore, till grace comes, there is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Every mouth is stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.' (Rom. iii. 9, 19, 22.)
Par.-God forbid that there should be no natural difference between me and an Heathen! The Apostle's rule is not without exception.
Min.-Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, without spot and blemish,' because he was conceived of the Holy Spirit, is the only exception to the fatal and universal rule: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh,'
(John iii. 6.) Had there been any other, the man after God's own heart,' or he who was separated of God from his mother's womb,' might have made a better claim to it than you. But hear David's lamentable confession: 'Behold I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin hath my mother conceived me.' (Psalm li. 5.) Hear St. Paul's mournful declaration : 'I know that in me, that is, in my flesh,' in my natural self, 'dwelleth no good thing. I am carnal, sold under sin. -O wretched man! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' (Rom. vii. 18, 24.)
Par.-The Apostle does not complain here of his natural depravity, but of bad habits he had contracted in his youth.
Min.-You affirm this, but I hope to prove the contrary. "Touching the righteousness of the law, he was so blameless,' that his enemies who had known his manner of life from his youth,' could lay no immorality to his charge. (Phil. iii. 6; Acts xxvi. 4.) Nevertheless, tracing the streams of his depravity to their source, he declares, that both he, and the Christians to whom he wrote, were, not by habit or education, but by nature, children of wrath even as others.' (Eph. ii. 3.)
Par.-You would make us believe that children are born with a sinful nature, as young vipers are with a venomous one; but St. Paul himself says, that the children of believers are holy. (1 Cor. vii. 14.)
Min.-The word holy often means, consecrated to God, and set apart for his service: 'Holy sabbath, holy vessels, holy garments,' are common scriptural expressions: In this sense the children of believers are holy, having been consecrated to God from the womb, by many prayers, and dedicated to him at their baptism. And if some are holy in a higher sense, i.e., sanctified by the Spirit, this is not owing to nature, but to grace, early subduing their natural corruption, and blessing the endeavours of pious parents, as the case of Timothy. (2 Tim. i. 5, and iii. 15.)
Par.-Our Lord had more favourable thoughts of children than you: 'Suffer little children,' says he,
'to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' Now, if the kingdom of God be theirs, how can they be naturally depraved as you suppose?
Min.-The portion of scripture you quote establishes what you want to overthrow; for if infants must come to Christ, it follows they are lost sinners, through the depravity of their nature, though not yet doubly lost through the corruption of their lives: Otherwise, they would not stand in need of being brought to the Physician of souls, who came to seek and to save [ouly] that which was lost.' And if our Lord added,' of such is the kingdom of heaven,' i. e., the dispensation of the gospel and the church of Christ, it was to show that infants are in as great want of the gospel, of the advantages of church-fellowship, and as welcome to them as persons of riper years.
Par. If children were naturally sinful, our Lord would never have told his disciples, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'
Min.-This passage refers no more to the natural state of children, than that where Christ says, 'I will come as a thief,' refers to the dishonesty of a thief.—If our Lord affirms that we must become as little children, it is not in natural sinfulness and foolishness: But in 'desiring the sincere milk of the word, as new-boru babes desire the breast;' (1 Pet. ii. 11 ;) in being conscious of our ignorance and helplessness;-iu submitting to the teaching of our heavenly Master, without unbelieving reasonings; and in gladly beginning the spiritual life, as children begin the natural one.
Par. Do you really think then that infants are sinful?
Min.-I not only think it, but am persuaded you will make no doubt of it yourself, if you consider three things: FIRST, the provideuce of a just God who condemns them to drink their daily share of the cup of sorrow and death, which is the wages of sin.' (Rom. vi. 23.)-SECONDLY, their early propensity to do evil.
not only before they are taught it, but also when it is expressly forbidden. They are froward even from their mother's womb,' says David. 'As soon as they are born they go astray, and tell lies as soon as they can speak.' (Psalm lviii. 3.) We have a third proof of their depravity in one of the sacraments, both in the Jewish and Christian Church. The Lord, who knows what is in man,' ordered them to be circumcised under the law, because they stand in need of the circumeision of the heart;' of which that in the flesh was only an emblem: And under the gospel they are admitted to baptism, both because they want the sprinkling of Jesus's blood, typifièd in that ordinance; and because the promise of the regenerating Spirit belongs to us and our children,' who therefore stand in need of it on account of their origiual corruption, as well as we on account of our actual pollutions. (Acts ii. 39.)
Par. You surely mistake when you say, that infants have a sinful disposition: What can look more inno cent and harmless than a suckling babe?
Min.-If your argument holds, it will prove, that young vipers have no mischievous disposition, and sucking lions no bent to fierceness, because they are really very harmless, and look exceeding pretty in their kind: But you know that the apparent harmlessness of those dangerous creatures, is wholly owing to the feebleness of their organs, and their want of bodily strength.
Par. You love to pour contempt on the dignity of human nature; I would blush to compare my fellowcreatures to beasts that perish,—to vipers and lions, some of the worst of them.
Min.-I do not blush to follow the Scriptures; and if you allow me to quote them, you will see that they go much further in this respect than I do. They inform us, that man is like the beasts that perish,' (Psalm xlix. 12;) that he might see that he himsel is a beast,' (Eccles. iii. 18;) and that till he is taught of God, he is 'foolish and ignorant,' in spiritual things