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xii. 5. 20, 21.
a solitary case now; that of a man's own personal entrance into holiness. It is only in its operation that religion becomes social; its root
and principle is single and separate. The reason Cf. Matth. why so many fall away is, that they have not
root in themselves. They build upon “ fashion;" upon “custom;” upon precedent;” upon"abuse;" upon “ corruption;" and by necessary conse quence, they fall; for their only root has been-in others. He that would at once endure
unto the end, and have peace with others also, Cf. Mark must have salt within himself. ix, 50.
Referring, then, to the satisfaction of an individual conscience, look what is the genuine and innate tendency of any of the great Christian doctrines.
Look (for example) at the sense of natural corruption ; of “ original guiltiness” in the sight
of a perfect and a holy Being, in whose sight Job xxv.5. the very stars are not pure. What objection
shall be made to this, as being of a “mis“chievous” tendency ? That it destroys man's happiness ? his inward comfort ? degrades him in his own eyes, and paralyzes his efforts to attain excellence. . ,
If such were either its intention or necessary result, the objection might be urged justly. But the very reverse of such effect is its proper in
fluence. It does degrade man (we admit) from Lect. iv. the perilous height of an intemperate pride,
down to a true consciousness of his original; but why? to put him on his guard; to make him watchful and careful; lest being lifted up 1 Tim. iii. with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Grant, however, that such knowledge is, by itself, ever so dangerous : it comes not, it does not stand alone. Its illustration and corrective comes with it. The same record that unfolds to us “ corruption,” awakens us to “ renovation" also. Look at man now, either in his “ soul" or in his “ body;" the prospect is the same. The cure is at least co-extensive with the wound and sickness of either. Whether we look to “ death 6 and resurrection," or to “ sin and grace," there is one interpretation ; As in Adam all die, even 1 Cor. xv. so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Let any other of the doctrines of the Gospel be examined in the same way. If there be found one, without that corresponding encouragement which tends to inlist all on the side and in the service of the purest virtue, let it be rejected! If not, alas ! for him, who (under other evidences so richly supplied to him) shall run the hazard of treading under foot the Son of Heb. x. 29. God; of counting the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing ; and of doing despite unto the Spirit of grace!
cI am well aware, how much may here appear to be wanting to the argument, as well in respect of a more full
2 Cor. xi. II. But we speak thus far, as concerning re
proach only, as though we had been weak. Another tone more befits the persuasion—that we have the REVELATION and the will of God. It is to be contended, therefore, secondly, that “ not only are the great Christian doctrines not “ hurtful in their tendency;" not only not superfluous or unsuitable to their proposed object; but they are indispensable. They fill up the very chasm that was void in the history and philosophy of man. They are themselves the pregnant evidences of their own truth. They demand admission into our hearts, and find it there, as in a proper home. There is nothing but these that can satisfy the soul, to its conviction and comfort. Deprive Christianity of the “ atonement,” and the salt has lost its savour.
Deprive the atonement of its explanatory cause CF. Lect. ir. and antecedent necessity, and not only is holy pp. 107–8.
Scripture no longer honestly comprehensible, but we are no longer comprehensible to our own
vindication of the doctrine of " original corruption," as of a detailed examination of other doctrines. But it will be obvious, that the compass of the present work does not admit of either extension. I have instanced the doctrine likely to be most offensive to an objector : to estimate tbe proper consequences of those of the “ atonement" and of “spiritual in“ fuence” respectively, let reference be made to Paley's Şermons. (Serm. xx. and xxv.) I can hardly conceive any other of the doctrines here mentioned (or implied) to be made chargeable with hurtful effect. .
selves. The wants and consciousness of man are still unprovided for.
For, no longer resting any thing on suppositions, but on (what we conceive to be) facts ; I presume, that the veriest enemy of Christianity will not maintain, that man has retrograded in morals since the introduction of the Gospel. If, then, there be found among mankind that now are, a leaning of the thoughts of the heart to evil; a general disposition to unrighteousness ; a na tural distaste for spiritual things, without disci, cine and cultivation ; how are such phenomena to be accounted for, and how judged of?
And here, let it not be idly taken for granted, that " the world is wicked,” and “ man corrupt," merely because we have often heard it said so; and without any thought or sincere persuasion in ourselves, that the real truth is thereby spoken. We know better than to expect a man in full health to believe us, if we tell him that he is desperately sick. Let it be ascertained clearly, whether such a disposition does exist or not.
Now, in collecting such estimate, our first thoughts will naturally tend towards atrocious crimes, and the more shocking cases of human depravity, which have either fallen within our own experience and recollection, or of which we have heard from others. And truly, these its practical and palpable forms, in which the operation of " sin” meets us, are its worst influences, and those most obviously dangerous in the eyes of society. Yet let us understand, that it is not, cannot be, for any sum, or number of atrocious crimes actually committed, that the world in mass is called “ wicked" (as it is) either in Scripture, or by the good and wise. It would be treating the virtuous and the vicious just alike, to pronounce judgment so!
The “ wickedness” for which the world stands condemned has a much earlier and deeper root. We shall discover it in that want of principle, by which the rebellious will of the natural man rejects the things of the Spirit of God; by which it passes over the thought of “heaven,” and of an “incorruptible treasure' only, as vanity and“ foolishness :" by which (again) persons that are long come to ripeness of understanding, know not whose they are, nor whom they serve; and (of course) know not how they should think of their fellow-servants, and behave to them, during their passage and time of trust.
What wonder, therefore, is it, if they begin to Luke xii. smite these, and evil entreat them; and to cat
and drink, and to be drunken?
Let the charge be denied, if it be not strictly true : but is it not thus—that men, even Christian men, take up the world in a spirit of contention, as if all lay there? as if it were a man's sole business to serve and provide for his own interest; and (for this end) to overtake, or outstrip