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Corruption of the Heart. [Ess. IX. produce the fruit of sin. Soon after the prophet Jeremiah had described the "sin of Judah," as "written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond," he was led to point out the true source of the transgressions which he thus lamented; and that source was to be found, not in the peculiar circumstances of that favoured people, but in the nature of the whole species to which they belonged." The heart,” says the prophet, "is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (or, as in the Hebrew, desperately diseased); who can know it?" xvii, 1, 9. “Yea, also," says Solomon, in perfect accordance with the testimony of Jeremiah, “ the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead :” Eccl. ix, 3.

When David prayed God to create in him "a clean heart ;" when he cried out, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow"-he was sensible, not only of his actual transgressions, but of the natural corruption from which they spring. “Behold," said he, “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me!" Ps, li, 5, 7, &c. Nor can it be denied, that this natural corruption of our inward part was indirectly adverted to by our Saviour himself, when he promulgated the doctrine, that a man is defiled, not by that which “goeth into the mouth," but by that which “cometh out of the mouth;" because out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:" Matt.

xv, 11, 19.

The struggles of our evil nature, which continue to be felt even after we have been awakened to a sense of divine truth, are described by the apostle Paul

W12X Vid. Job xxxiv, 6; Jer. XXX, 12, 15; and Taylor's Conc. in voc.

Ess. ix.] Spiritual Darkness and Ignorance. 205 in the language of painful experience: “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" Rom. vii, 21-24. Soon afterwards, he describes the disposition of man to evil as the "carnal mind" which "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," viii, 7; and the diseased nature, in which this disposition dwells, he elsewhere denominates "the flesh." " For the flesh,” says he, “lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary, the one to the other:" Gal. v, 17; comp. v, 19–21.

2. Man, in his natural condition of degradation from original virtue, is, in the second place, often represented by the sacred writers as the child of ignorance, misled by his own false notions of wisdom, and utterly incapable in himself of rightly apprehending divine truth. “ The light shineth in darkness," says the apostle John, "and the darkness comprehended it not,John i, 5; a doctrine which corresponds with the declaration of Paul, that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned :" 1 Cor. ii, 14. On the other hand, although we may construct many plausible systems of morality, gratifying to our pride, yet the "wisdom of this world" is "foolishness with God :" 1 Cor. iii, 18-20. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death:” Prov. xiv, 12. In short, unregenerate men are

- darkness :" they are sitting "in darkness, and in the shadow of death,” Luke i, 79; they are under the

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Universal Sinfulness

[Ess. IX. “power of darkness :" Col. i, 13. The rulers of the darkness of this world,” Eph. vi, 12, are their governors. Their king is the “prince of the power of the air,” Eph, ii, 2; and the god of this world has“ blinded” their eyes, "lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them :" 2 Cor. iv, 4.

3. Being thus prone to evil, and destitute of a right apprehension of divine things, mankind in their fallen nature are “dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph. ii, 1; they are universally sinners. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us:" 1 John i, 8. " All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God :" Rom. iii, 23. “God made man upright,” says Solomon, “but they have sought out many inventions:" Eccles. vii, 29. And if we would understand the moral character of these inventions, we may consult the apostle Paul, who thus describes, in glowing and comprehensive language, " the whole world,” which lieth in wickedness :" 1 John v, 19. “ What, then, are we (the Jews) better than they (the Gentiles ?) No, in no wise ; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin, as it is written: There is none righteous, NO NOT ONE ; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God: they are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, NO NOT ONE: their throat is an open sepulchre: with their tongues they have used deceit: the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood : destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped,

Ess. IX.]

Proved from History.

207 and ALL THE WORLD may become GUILTY BEFORE GOD:” Rom. iii, 9–19.

The doctrine of Scripture respecting the wickedness of mankind is powerfully confirmed by the records contained in it of their history-a history which affords astonishing evidences of a strong, determined, natural, bent towards moral evil. What was the character of the antediluvians, to whom was communicated the original revelation of the divine will? We read, that God beheld them, and “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,” and that "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart" was “only evil continually:" Gen. vi, 5. With the exception of a single family, the whole of one generation of mankind was destroyed by the deluge ; and the earth was again peopled by a new race, of which the sons of Noah were the progenitors. But the bias of human nature was unaltered. The descendants of Noah sunk by degrees into almost universal idolatory and sin. The Canaanitish nations, more especially, were so full of iniquity, that they became the conspicuous subjects of the divine vengeance; and God selected a peculiar people, to whom he had condescended to reveal his will, and to commit the keeping of his divine oracles, to be the instruments of his wrath. That people was favoured above all the nations of the earth by the Supreme Being, and instructed by the frequent miraculous displays of his love and power. Yet, even in them we perceive an almost unvarying propensity to rebellion and transgression. “Ah! sinful nation," cried their prophet Isaiah, "a people laden with iniquity; a seed of evil doers; children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord; they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger; they are gone away backward."

"From the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises,

L

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Remnant of Virtue in Man. [Ess. IX. and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment:" Isa. i, 4-6. Thus degraded and corrupted, the Israelites were themselves chastised by severe temporal calamities, and were at length carried captive into the land of their enemies. At an appointed period, however, a certain proportion of them were permitted to return into the country of their fathers, and to rebuild their city and temple, under the renewed and especial manifestations of divine love. Yet a depraved nature soon again displayed itself in this favoured race. Although they abstained from idolatry, it is evident, from various passages in the New Testament, that they became exceedingly vicious, and at length they consummated their national criminality by crucifying their Messiah.

That modern history affords abundant lessons to the same effect, and that the knowledge which we have of the lasciviousness, pride, covetousness, and cruelty, still so prevalent in the world—not to mention the secret "plague” of our own hearts-amply confirms these lessons, will scarcely be denied by any person who reflects on the subject with calmness : who takes a just view, on the one hand, of the requisitions of the divine law, and, on the other, of the innumerable iniquities by which it is infringed.

True indeed it is, that, with the evil abounding in the world, there is still to be found, in almost every class of mankind, a considerable mixture of good. Ruined as man is by nature, it may readily be acknowledged, that he retains some few traces of his original excellence : and that, although ever prone to sin, he is not solely, entirely, exclusively, sinful. Such an allowance, however, requires to be carefully guarded ; nor can I venture to make it, without observing, first, that much of the virtue sometimes apparent in persons who have little serious sense of religion ought proba

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