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ises of the gospel. The doctrine of total depravity is one of the most essential doctrines of christianity...The gospel cannot be clearly and consistently preach ed, either theoretically, or practically to sinners, or to saints, without plainly explaining and proving the total depravity of sinners.
5. It appears from what has been said, that no sinners have a right to think they are christians. They all have the witness within themselves, that they are totally depraved and graceless. Christ has told them, that they have not the love of God in them ; and the apostle has told them, that they have a carnal mind, which is enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. That this is true, all their moral exercises of heart, ever since they had any, unitedly prove. And if they would only look into their hearts and view them as God views them, they could no more doubt of their total depravity and graceless state, than they could doubt of their own existence. Their moral exercises are essential parts of their existence, as much as their reason and conscience; and they can know as much about them, as they know about any of their natural faculties. As they know what their reason and conscience are, so they know what the free and the voluntary exercises of their hearts are.
And as they are conscious, when they reflect upon their past and present exercises of heart, that they have always loved themselves supremely and not God ; that they have always sought their own interests and not the interests of others ; that they have always desired happiness more than holiness ; that they have always sought to please themselves rather than to please God ; and that they have always disliked, if not opposed, the di
vine commands and the terms of the gospel. And the consciousness of such a constant, uninterrupted and persevering train of selfish and sinful affections, gives them plain, sensible, irresistible evidence, that they are in the state of nature and under the dominion of a totally selfish, wicked heart. This consciousness of self-condemnation the apostle represents as the infallible criterion, by which sinners may know that they are totally depraved, absolutely graceless and essentially different from the children of God. He declares, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” That is, he cannot sin constantly as sinners do. " In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God.” That is, whosoever never does righteousness, but always sins as sinners do. And again he says, “ Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God. But if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things.” Here the apostle asserts, that all sinners may know that they are so, by the infallible testimony of their own heart. If their heart condemn them they may assure themselves, that God who knows all things and is perfectly acquainted with all the inward motions and affections of their hearts, knows and condemns them as totally sinful and graceless. No sinners, therefore, let them be ever so apparently amiable and virtuous, have a right to think they are christians, nor to doubt whether they are dead in trespasses and sins. There are a great many professedly doubting sinners, but they have no just ground to doubt. The case is clear in God's view; and ought to be in their own. Let them impartially ask their hearts and they will tell them the truth, and justly condemn them for all their internal exercises and external actions.
6. It equally appears from what has been said, that christians have no right to think that they are sinners. Though they have been totally depraved, yet they are not now totally depraved. Though they have not yet attained, neither are already perfect ; yet they desire to be perfect and free from sin. Though, when they would do good, evil is present with them, and they often fail of that perfect obedience to the will of God, which they are conscious they habitually desire to perform, yet they have the witness in themselves, that their hearts have been changed, and that whereas they were once blind, they now see ; as they once hated God, they now love him ; as they once disobeyed God, they now obey him ; as they once loved their own interest more than his glory, they now seek his glory more than their own temporal, or eternal good. Such holy exercises all real christians have ; and these are the only criterion by which they are to assure themselves that they are of God, are his children and heirs of eternal life. They have no right to disbelieve the witness, which God has given them in their hearts and set up another standard to try their spiritual state. Their own standard will always lead them astray; and they will refuse to be comforted in the way God has appointed to give them comfort. God gives every christian evidence enough, that he is born of the Spirit, if he would only seriously and impartially attend to it. This is true, at the time he becomes a new creature, and ever afterwards. No christians, therefore, have a right to think they are sinners, and have no title to the great and precious promises of the gospel. They ought to go on their way rejoicing in God, in prosperity and adversity ; and even under the hiding of God's face. He requires them to rejoice in himself, always and evermore. Christians are always to blame, if they think they are not the children of God.
Finally, in the view of this subject, all are called upon to judge righteous judgment with respect to their own hearts. The only criterion has been exhibited. It is the criterion proposed by the beloved disciple John, who tenderly and sincerely wished, that both saints and sinners might know their own hearts. And if all, who are now present, would apply the criterion, which the apostle has given them, there would not go away from this house one doubting christian, nor one doubting sinner.
THE HOLINESS OF GOD BINDS MEN TO BE HOLY.
I. PETER, 1. 16.—Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
This epistle is addressed to christians in general ; and therefore its precepts and exhortations justly considered as applicable to christians in every age, as well as in every part of the world. It becomes christians now, as much as ever it did, to be ho. ly in all manner of conversation, for the reason which the apostle assigns in the text. " Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” We find this written in Leviticus XI. 44, where God says to his people “I am the Lord your God : ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves; and ye shall be holy, for I am holy.” The same sentiment is expressed in several other passages in the Old Testament. But since all men are equally the creatures of God and equally need his favor, this text equally applies to all men of all ages, characters and conditions ; and equally proves the duty and necessity of one man's being holy as well as another. For if the holiness of God be a reason why one man should be holy, it is as good a reason why every man should be holy. The creator's holiness lays all mankind under a moral obligation and necessity of being conformed to his moral image. Therefore, we may understand God as saying to all men, without distinction, “ Be ye holy ; for I am holy.” Taking the words in this extensive sense, they sug. gest this important truth;