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THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE
ON HUMAN DEPRAVITY.
Shall enmity and strife,
The injunction “ know thyself,” was revered by heathen sages as fraught with the wisdom of inspiration. They were not insensible to the importance of this kind of knowledge, and they knew it to be of very difficult attainment. On earth, the individuals who aspire to the greatest good, generally impose upon themselves the greatest labour. In the matter now to be considered this is especially manifest. Men fail to know themselves, when they fail to become students for the purpose; and it is only as their attention is concentrated on this point, that Wisdom is justified of her children.
But it is not from the oracles of heathenism that the true character of man may be learnt. Nor is this wisdom to be derived from the exercise of our own unaided thoughtfulness, however profound, or however ingenuous that thoughtfulness
It is reserved for the oracles of God fully to unveil the human heart. The book which alone reveals the full glory of the Almighty, can alone determine the extent of our obligations ; and, as a consequence, the extent of that delinquency, or disorder which now pertains to us. It is the office, moreover, of the Divine Spirit, to give to the truth—the unwelcome truth—thus exhibited, the force of demonstration. The testimonies of heathenism corroborate the truth; they do not supply it. The view of human nature which they place before us is indeed a painful one, but it fails to present the darker and more appalling features of the reality. It is to the sacred scriptures, then, that our attention must be directed, if we would form a correct judgment with respect to the moral condition of our race; and with respect to ourselves, as parts of the whole. May the promised aids of the Holy Spirit be vouchsafed to us !-we shall then understand the things written for our learning. The entrance of thy word giveth light.
On this subject, there are two questions which seem to have special claim to consideration. What is the Extent of that Depravity which the scriptures attribute to mankind ? And, what do we know with regard to the Origin of this state of human nature ?
I. It is obvious that we live in an evil world ;in a region where the lusts of the flesh and of the mind are constantly assuming all the possible forms of deception, ever practising their impositions on mankind, and not unfrequently on the individuals who indulge them. It is a scene where every man is more or less a deceiver and deceived; and one, accordingly, in which every thing good must be exposed to danger, like a plant which has to contend against a soil and a climate not a little unfriendly to it. And the hazards to which every thing good is exposed on earth, will be found to result from the weakness of its friends, almost as much as from the enmities of its foes. The history of the church affords confirmation of this statement, which is but too abundant. There is scarcely a doctrine of the gospel which has not suffered as much from those who have received it in substance, as from those who have rejected it altogether. In some instances it has been softened down, or blended with partial error, so as to lose its true character and efficiency; and in others it has been pushed to excess in an opposite direction, so as to produce a needless revolt both of the understanding and of the heart. Thus has it been with the doctrine of human depravity. While some' men have abridged its meaning in a manner unauthorized