« VorigeDoorgaan »
and let the dead bury their dead." "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear shall live." If you say these were Jews, let us go then within the pale of the Christian Church: "Honour widows that are widows indeed;-but she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." "These are spots in your feasts of charity;-trees whose fruit withereth, twice dead, plucked up by the roots." "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead."
The dismal picture which the apostle draws in the 3d chapter of Romans, by composing into one form the different features of the "wicked" which had been traced in the Old Testament; and his declaration that the features were originally intended for the whole human family, authorizing thus the universal application of the term wicked as it stands connected with these delineations; are sufficient in themselves to settle this question. Pray read that description, (and add to it the dreadful account of the whole heathen world in the first chapter;) and after being thus taught to apply to all natural men the allegations of the Old Testament against "the wicked," read the descriptions of the wicked contained in the 21st chapter of Job, the 10th, 14th, 36th, 50th and 73d Psalms, and to mention no more, the 59th chapter of Isaiah.
Argument IV. The representations in the Psalms and chapters above referred to are abundantly confirmed by the history of the world.
But a few ages had elapsed after the fall of man before "the earth was filled with violence," and the whole world, with the exception of a single family,
*Gen. vi. 5. Eccl. viii. 11. and ix. 3. Isai. i. 5, 6. Jer. xvii. 9. Mat. viii. 22. John iii. 6. and v. 25. Rom. vii. 18. and viii. 5-9. Gal. v. 17-24. Eph. ii. 1, 4,5. Col. 1 Tim. v. 3, 6. Tit. i. 15, 16, 1 Pet. iv. 6. Jude 12.
Rev. iii. 1.
must be swept away with a flood. As soon as men began to multiply again on the earth, the whole race, except one family preserved by a succession of miracles, apostatized to idols. "Professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made li corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.-For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections," to wallow in the most unnatural and brutal lusts. "As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind;-being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventers of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful," "murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers." Only collect the crimes committed in the Assyrian and Persian courts, including the frequent murder of the nearest relations to open a way to the throne, and without looking further this whole catalogue of charges stands supported. Sodom was but a specimen of the heathen world.
And if you turn from this wilderness to the vineyard on which all the culture of heaven was bestowed, you see little else than the grapes of Sodom and clusters of Gomorrah.† Under the glories of the burning mount, while the voice of God was still sounding in their ears, they constructed a molten calf and stupidly cried, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Their unbelief and rebellion never ceased. From generation to generation their lust after
* Rom. i. 22. 32. 1 Tim. i. 9, 10. † Deut. xxxii. 32, 33. Isai. v. 1-7. Exod. xxxii. 1—6.
other gods could scarcely be restrained by all the miracles wrought before their eyes,-by all the fervid expostulations of anxious prophets. Those prophets they slew, and at length filled up the measure of their iniquity by the murder of the Son of God.
And what has the Christian world exhibited? Must I retrace that apostacy which gave one half of the Church into the hands of the Saracens and Turks? Must I measure over those scenes of pride and pollution which laid the other half at the feet of the man of sin? Must I revisit the faggots of the martyrs, and wade through the seas of blood which have been shed by hands bearing the cross? Look where you will the deep depravity of man on every side appears. The history of the world is a history of crimes. The earth has been from the beginning a great Aceldama, a shambles of blood. And lest it should be thought that Christianity and science and modern refinement have tamed the natural heart, the most polished nation on earth, in the centre of the Christian world, has been selected to take the lead in that scene of atheism and violence reserved for the latter day, reserved to make a full developement of the human character, that the millennium might be introduced without a remaining doubt on earth of the total depravity of man.
This horrid scene, in the centre of the Christian Church, was foretold by astonished prophets. "This know, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their ownselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." "And
there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for the plague thereof was exceeding great."*
Such is the history of man,-of man under every form of society, pagan, Jewish, and Christian. And it furnishes a fair illustration of what selfishness will do in spite of all the affections of nature, when divine restraints are taken off and sufficient temptations occur. It may then be regarded as the history of every man left to himself. For "as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." The conduct of those wretches who are recorded as prodigies of iniquity, is only an exemplification of selfishness and a specimen of what every man would do if left of God. All doubt on this subject will be removed as soon as the wicked enter the eternal world and begin to exercise the rage of the damned. Hence in the descriptions of man which are drawn by the Holy Ghost, crimes, that have not been acted out by all, but by a part as a sample of the rest, are set down among the characteristics of the whole human. family.t
But men will be slow to believe all this, because they are ignorant of themselves. No man knows. what is in his heart further than he is tried; because no man knows what selfishness, restrained only by nature, is capable of doing. Hazael could say, "Is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing?" and yet he did it. The Jews who crucified the Saviour of the world, thought that if they had lived in the days of their fathers they should not have slain the prophets. And if any of you are dreaming that, left to yourselves, you should not go the length of those whose history you have reviewed, let that dream end at this spot,-"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it ?"
Rom. iii. 9-20.
* 2 Tim. iii. 1-9. 2 Kin, viii. 13.
Rev. xvi, 21.
NATURAL AFFECTIONS NOT HOLINESS.
HEBREWS xii, 14.
FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL MEN, AND HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD.
SALVATION depends very much on possessing a correct view of our native ruin and need of a Saviour. For want of this many disdainfully reject the offers of grace and undertake to recommend themselves to God in a way more gratifying to human pride. None will apply to the physician till they feel that they are sick.
The most holy and devout portion of the Christian Church have always held, with the fathers of NewEngland, that mankind by nature are totally depraved; by which they have meant, not that they are as bad as they can be,-not that they are all equally wicked, not that the form of their actions is always wrong; not that they are wholly destitute of love to men, of all moral sense,-of all regard for the natural fitness there is in virtue,-of all disgust at the natural unfitness there is in vice; but merely this, that they are utterly destitute of holiness. And this our text evidently implies. It virtually declares that none shall be debarred from seeing the Lord but they who are "without holiness;" which is to say,