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do. Besides, the establishment of this truth, upon other evidence than that of scripture, ought to have a powerful influence in inducing men to believe the other truths in scripture, that are connected with and founded upon it. I think it therefore highly proper to lay before you what evidence we have of our loft state, from the observation of the world, though the scriptures had been filent. I would likewise recommend to all, what shall be said on this subject, to preserve your faith unshaken, and keep you from blasphemous, unbelieving thoughts, if at any time you should be tempted to them : fince, even unenlightened reason confirms the foundation of Divine truth, and nature and providence conspire in preaching the doctrine of Divine Grace.
Now, doth not our experience, as well as the observation of others, shew us, that we are born in fin, and conceived in iniquity ? May we not say from our own knowledge, that the imaginations of the heart of man are only evil from his youth, and that continually? Is there not a proneness and tendency to evil, universally to be observed in mankind, and a backwardness and aversion to that which is good ? Is not this apparent even in children, upon the first dawn of reafon in their minds, and the first sight of choice or inclination in their hearts ? Surely it must be owned, that in that early period, they are at least comparatively innocent. If any among us is without fin, it must be the youngest; yet folly is bound in the heart of a child.—How hard is it to guard them from evil, and to inspire them with good dispositions, even by the wiselt and earliest care in their instruction? And even after the most succefsful pains, are there not still many remaining blemishes, through the prevalence of corrupt nature, which shew, that the ground-work itself was faulty? But, on the contrary, how casily do
men learn that which is evil? Do they need to be tavights Is is not enough to give them licence ? How just is that description in Jeremiah? They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. I am far from denying, that men are improved and forwarded in fin, by instruction and example, as well as in that which is good : but it is plain, they are far apter scholars in the first than in the last; which plainly shews, they are more powerfully disposed to it by nature. Nay, is it not evident, from the universal experience and testimony of those who act from a principle of religion, that it is extremely difficult, with all the care they can take, to resist the propensity of nature to the contrary; and that in the best, it often gets the superiority, when they are off their guard? Is not this an evidence of the depravity and corruption of human nature, and its tendency to evil? Are those who hate fin often overcome by it, and shall those who love it, presume to say they are free from it?
If any should ask, how I prove that that course of ac. tion to which human nature is inclined is evil, without the assistance of scripture? I answer, from reason ; and that many ways-from its pernicious effects on societies, and private persons ; from the testimony of the world in general, when others than themselves are concerned, and from the testimony of every man's conscience, in his own case. Who is there, that does not often feel in himself a powerful tendency to what he cannot but in his heart condemn? Is not his consciente God's vicegerent! and doth not natural religion, as well as the religion of Christ, declare him corrupt? So that I may say with the Apostle Paul, not citing the passage as a proof, but as an illustration and description of the character and state of natural men-For when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law: these having B 4
not the law, are a law unto themselves, which few the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts, the mean while, accusing or else excusing one another.
Thus there is as much light remaining with us fince the fall, as to shew, that we are out of the way, but not to bring us back to it again.
*As a serious consideration of the state of the wicked may shew us our natural impurity, so it hath been long ago discovered, and confessed by many of the ancient Heathens, who never heard of the name of Christ, nor knew of the remedy. These, discerning by nature the perfectly pure and holy nature of God, and comparing it with the dispositions prevalent in man, could not reconcile them together; but concluded, that a creature so corrupt could not come in that condition out of the hands of its Creator. This difficulty some of them endeavoured to solve by a state of pre-existence, which bears some resemblance to the true solution given of it in the holy scripture, viz. the apostacy of our first parents, which entailed a corrupted nature upon their posterity, in which the light of nature and revealed truth seem almost wholly to coincide.
It is to the same thing that I cannot help attributing the practice that so universally prevailed over the Heathen world, before the coming of Christ, of offering facrifices, to appease the wrath of the deity supposed to be offended. That the custom of sacrificing prevailed very generally, perhaps universally among the Heathen nations, at the greatest distance from, and having no correspondence with each other, is a certain and unquestionable fact. Neither do I fee to what cause we can ascribe it, unless to one of these two; either an ancient tradition from the beginning of the world, and spread with the inbabitants
through the several parts of it, as they separated and peopled it, or to the common condition of human nature, which dictated the same thing to persons in such distant places.
If the first of these suppositions is embraced, which indeed I suppose to be the truth, it appears, that facrifices were appointed by God to man in his fallen state, for the pardon of fin, and that they had reference to the great propitiatory sacrifice of Christ upon the cross.
If we prefer the last supposition, it would seem as if the consciousness of guilt had uniformly prompted men in all ages and nations to offer up some atonement for their offences. In both cases, it equally serves to prove the corruption and finfulness of human nature.
Now, as what hath been said plainly proves the impurity of man in his natural state, so his misery and liableness to punishment may also be proved, both as a natural consequence of his finfulness, and even more plainly by itself. There is not only a confiderable degree of actual misery in the world, but plain presages of more to follow it in the world to come. Need I take up much time in enumerating the several miseries and calamities incident to human life? Are not oppression and injury from one another, poverty, fickness, pain and death, the plain fruits of sin, and visible tokens of God's displeasure? Man, with some marks of superiority and excellence of nature, is even, by means of his superiority, his knowledge, and foresight of his own sufferings, more miserable than any other of the creatures that is equally subjed to the stroke of death.
To the whole, I shall only subjoin one confideration moré, which is applicable to both parts of the argumentI have often thought, that the natural terror and fear quith which men are porfid, of the prefens of God, om
any remarkable token of bis power, is nothing else but an indication of guilt, or an apprebension of wrath.
You'may see some incidents in scripture, from which it is natural to conclude, that when God makes any vifible manifestation of his glory, or sends any of his angels or ministers from heaven to earth, those who are present are filled with the utmost dread and terror. ! Thus, in the relation given of God's appearance upon Mount Sinai, it is said, And so terrible was the right, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake. See another example in Isaiah:-Then said I, Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hofts. And in the New Testament, in the Apostle John,-And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.
And is not this always the case, in all ages, that upon any remarkable appearance of an inhabitant of the other world, or even when any such thing is falsely appre. hended, the inhabitants of this world are filled with extraordinary terror? What is this do you imagine, but consciousness of guilt, and apprehension of vengeance ?
Innocence has no enemy, and it has nothing to fear. We are all in much the same case with Adam, immediately after his first transgression; when he heard God's voice in the garden, he was afraid, and fled, and hid bimfelf.—We read of no such fear poffeffing him while he retained his innocence; but as soon as he had finned, he began to dread an avenging God.
From all this, then, I would conclude, that reason accords with scripture, in saying, that all have pinned and come sort of the glory of God: that man in a natural state is wretcbed, and miferable, and poor, and blind, and naked.