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Thousands indeed boast of the goodness of their hearts ; they flatter themselves that to be righteous, it is enough to avoid the gross acts of intemperance and injnstice: With the Pharisees they shut their eyes against the destructive nature of the love of the world, the thirst of praise, the fear of men, the love of ease, sloth, sensuality, indevotion, self-righteousness, discontent, impatience, selfishness, carnal security, unbelief, hardness of heart, and a thousand other spiritual evils. Full of self-ignorance, like Peter, they imagine there is 110 combustible matter of wickedness in their breasts, because they are not actually fired by the spark of a suitable temptation. And when they hear what their corrupt nature may one day prompt them to, they cry out with Hazael, “Am I a dog that I should do this thing?' Nevertheless by and by they do it, if not outwardly as he did, at least in their vain thoughts by day, or wicked, lewd imaginations by night. So true is the wise man's saying, 'He that trusteth his own heart is a fool.'
II. “ If historians give us frequent accounts of the notorious wickedness of mankind,” say the advocates for human excellence, “it is because private virtue is not the subject of history; and to judge of the moral rectitude of the world by the corruption of courts, is as absurd as to estimate the health of a people from an infirmary."
And is private vice any more the subject of history than private virtue ? If it were, what folios would contain the fulsome and black accounts of all the lies and scandal, the secret grudges and open quarrels, the filthy talking and malicious jesting, the unkind or unjust behaviour, the gross or refined intemperance, which deluge both town and country?
Suppose the annals of any one numerous family were published, how many volumes might be filled with the details of the undue fondness, or forbidding coldness; the variance, animosity, and strife which break our between husbands and wires, parents and children, hrothers and sisters, masters and domestics, upper and lower servants, &c.! What ridiculous, impertinent
scenes would be open to public riew! What fretfulness, dissimulation, envy, jealousy, tale-bearing, deceit ! What concealed suspicions, aggravated charges, false accusations, underhand dealings, imaginary provocations, glaring partiality, insolent behaviour, loud passions !
Was even the best moralist to write the memoirs of his own heart, and give the public a minute account of all his impertinent thoughts, and wild imaginations ; how many paragraphs would make him blush! How many pages, by presenting the astonished reader with a blank or a blot, would demonstrate the truth of St. Paul's assertion, They are all gone out of the way, there is none that doeth good,' but spoils his best works by a mixture of essential evil ! Far then from finding|| those vastly superior numbers, who in safe obscurity are virtuously and innocently employed. we may every where see the truth of the confession, which our objectors make in the church,“There is no health in us.”
I say every where ; for is cahal confined to the court, any more than lewdness to the army, and profaneness to the navy? Does not the same spirit of self-interest and intrigue, which influences the choice of mivisters of state, preside also at the election of members of parliament, mayors of corporate towns, burgesses of boroughs, and petty officers in a country parish? We may, then, (notwithstanding the unfortunate compari.. son, on which this objection is founded,) conclude without absurdity, that, as all men sooner or later by pain, sickness and death, evidence their natural weakness and mortality, whether they live in infirmaries, palaces, or cottages ; so all men sooner or later by their thoughts, words, and actions, demonstrate their natural corruptions, whether they crowd the gaol-yard, the drawing-room, or the obscure green of a country village.
III. The same objectors will probably reply : “ If corruption is universal, it cannot be said to be equal : For numbers lead a very harmless, and not a few a very useful life.” To this I answer, that all have naturally “ a heart of
# See the note (marked † ] page 61.
uubelief,' forgetful of and “departing from the living God.' In this respect 'there is no difference ; all the world is guilty before God.' But thanks be to the Father of mercies, all do not remain so. Many cherish the seed of supernatural grace, which we have from the Redeemer; they bow to his sceptre, become 'new creatures, depart from iniquity, and are zealous of good works.' And the gracious power, that renewed them, is at work upon thousands more; hourly restraining them from much evil, and daily exciting them to many useful actions.
With respect to the harmlessness, for which some unrenewed persons are remarkable, it cannot spring from a better nature than that of their fellow-mortals ; for the nature of all men, like that of all wolves, is the same throughout the whole species. It must then be owing to the restraining grace of God, or to a happier eonstitution, a stricter education, a deeper sense of decency, or a greater regard for their character ; perhaps only to the fear of consequences, and to the want of vatural boldness, or of a suitable temptation and fair opportunity to sin. Nor are there few who pass for temperate, merely because the diabolical pride lurking in the heart scorns to stoop so low as to indulge their beastly appetites : While others have the undeserved reputation of good-natured, because they fiud more de. light in quietly gratifying their sheepish indolence or brutal desires, than in yielding to the uneasy, boisterous tempers, which they have in common with devils.
As to the virtues by which some of the unconverted distinguish themselves from others, they either spring from God's preventing grace, or are only vices in disguise. The love of praise, the desire of honour, and the thirst of gold, excite thousands to laudable designs, and useful actions. Wicked men, set on work by these powerful springs, do lying wonders in the moral world, as the magicians did in the land of Egypt.
They counterfeit divine grace, and for a time seem even to out-do believers themselves. Hence it is, that we frequently see the indolent, industrious; the coward, brave; the covetous, charitable; the Pharisee, religious; the Magdalene, modest; and the dastardly slave of his lasts, a bold assertor of public liberty. But the Searcher of hearts is not deceived by fair appearances : He judges of their actions according to the motives whence they spring, and the ends for which they are performed : “You are,” says he to all these seemingly virtuous sinners,“ like whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly ; but withiu are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness."
Were I to describe the saints of the world by a comparison, I would say that some of them resemble persons, who artfully conceal their ulcers under the most agreeable appearance of cleanliness and health. Many that admire their faces and looks, little suspect what a putrid, virulent fluid runs ont of their secret sores. Others of them, whose hypocrisy is not of so gross a kind, are like persons infected with a mortal disease, who, though the mass of their blood is tainted, and some noble part attacked, still walk about, do business, and look as freshcoloured as if they were the picture of health. Ye sons of Esculapius, who, without feeling their pulse, and carefully weighing every symptom, pronounce them very well upon their look alone, do ye not blunder in physic, just as my objectors do in divinity ?
IV. But still they urge, “ that it is wrong to father oor sinfulness upon a pretended natural depravity, when it may be entirely owing to the force of ill example, the influence of a bad education, or the strong ferments of youthful blood."
All these, I reply, like rich soil and rank manure, cause original corruption to shoot the higher, but do not form its pernicious seeds. That these seeds lurk within the heart, before they are forced up by the heat of temptation, appears indubitable, if we consider, (1.) That all children, on particular occasions, manifest some early inclination to those sins, which the feebleness of their bodily organs, and the want of proper ferments in their blood do not permit them to commit. (2.) That infants betray envy, ill-humour, impatience, selfishness,
and obstinacy, eren before they can take particular notice of ill examples, and understand bad couusels : And, (3.) That though uncleanness, forvication, and adultery, on account of the shame and danger attending them, are committed with so much secresy, that the examples of them are seldom, if ever, given in public; they are nevertheless some of the crimes which are most universally or eagerly committed.
Besides, if we were not more inclined to vice than virtue, good examples would be as common, and have as much force as bad ones. Therefore, the generality of bad examples cannot arise but from the general sinfulness of man and to account for this general sinfulness by the generality of bad examples, is begging the question, and not proving the point.
Add to this, that as weeds, since the curse, grow even in fields sown with the best wheat; so vice, since the fall, grows in the midst of the best examples, and the most excellent education: Witness the barbarous crimes committed by pious Jacob's children, and penitent Adam's eldest son.
V. “But If Cain sinned,” say our objectors, “ and all mankind sin also, it is no more than Adam himself once did by his own free choice, though he was created as exempt from original depravity as an angel. What need is there then to suppose, that he communicated to his posterity an inbred proneness to sin ?"
To this I reply : It is not one accident or single event, but a continual repetition of the same event, that proves a proneness. If a man, who is perfectly in his senses, by some unforeseen accident falls into a fit of madness, we may account for his misfortune from that accident; and no certain judgment can be formed of the bodily habit of his family. But if all his children through a hundred generations, are not only subject to the same mad fits, but also die in consequence of them, in all sorts of climates, and under all sorts of physicians ; common sense will not allow us to doubt, that it is now a family disorder, incurable by human art. The man is