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GENESIS VI. 5.
AND GOD SAW THAT THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS GREAT IN THE EARTH,
AND THAT EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS
ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLI.
Such was the character of the whole antediluvian world, with the exception of a single family. And unless human nature is essentially changed, such is the character, with the exception of those who are renewed by grace, of the whole modern world. But human nature is not changed. It never was tainted with any thing worse than inordinate selflove; it is tainted with that still. Human nature considered in itself, like the nature of other animals, remains essentially the same in every period and condition. 66 As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man."* Different restraints may be imposed by light, by example, by ciyilized habits, by divine and human laws, by motives growing out of peculiar circumstances, by more or less activity in the social affections ; but
* Prov. xxvii. 19.
till a new nature is imparted, selfishness gives essentially the same form in the sight of God to every human character. He that “ hateth his brother is a murderer;" he that cherishes an impure desire is an adulterer; he that covets is an idolator. * In this polluted principle lurk the seeds of all sin ; and where nothing else of a moral nature exists, as in all cases where 66 true holiness” is wanting, it constitutes the whole character in the sight of God. Of course the character of all unholy men, however variously compressed by restraints, is specifically the same.
What then does our text affirm of all unsanctified men ? That every imagination of the thoughts of their heart is only evil continually. It is impossible for language more fulły or plainly to assert that fundamental doctrine of our holy religion, which I shall lay at the foundation of these Lectures, that mankind by nature are totally depraved.
But what is meant by Total Depravity? Not that men are as bad as they can be, for in general they lie under strong restraints. Not that they are all equally wicked, for some are more restrained than others. Not that they are destitute of every thing useful and lovely in society; their humanity and social affections are decidedly of this character. Not that the form of their actions is always wrong; the contrary is manifestly true. It is only meant that they are utterly destitute of holiness,
* Mat. v. 28. Eph. v. 5. Col. üi. 5. 1 John üi. 15.
and of course sinful so far as their feelings and actions partake of a moral nature. It certainly is not meant that they are necessarily inclined to evil, without power to resist. They possess ample power, and in all their wickedness are perfectly free.
This is the precise shape of the doctrine to be supported. The principal arguments on which it rests will be detailed in this and the three following Lectures.
Argument I. By the first creation or birth mankind are united to the first Adam, and inherit the character which he possessed immediately after the fall, until by a second creation or birth they are united to the Second Adam, and become partakers of His holiness.-It is necessary to view this argument by parts.
I. Depravity is derived from Adam.
(1.) From the universal depravity of man. “God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted his way.”. “ The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand and seek God. They are all gone aside ; they are together become filthy; there is none that doth good, no not one.”
66 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 unprofit
able; there is none that doth good, no not one. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.” “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” “If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.--If we say that we have not sinned we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” God now commandeth ail men every where to repent.
So deeply is sin rooted in the human heart, that the continued struggles of the best men, with all the means and aids derived from heaven, have never prevailed in a single instance to eradicate it entirely. “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, , I am pure from my sin ?" 6. There is not a just man upon earth that doth good and sinneth not.” “ In many things we offend all.” “For there is no man that sinneth not." +
Now here is a wonder to be accounted for ;--sin tainting every individual of Adam's race, in every
, age, country, and condition, and surviving in every heart all exertions to destroy it. One would think this might prove, if any thing could prove, that sin belongs to the nature of man, as much as reason or speech, (though in a sense altogether compatible with blame,) and must be derived, like other universal attributes of our nature, from the original
* Gen. vi. 12. Ps. xiv. 2, 3. and cxxx. 3. Acts xvii. 30. Rom. iji. 9-12, 20. Gal. iii. 22. 1 John i. 8, 10.
* 1 Kin viji. 46. Prov. xx.-9. Eccl. vii. 20. James iii. 2.
parent,--propagated like reason and speech, (neither of which is exercised at first, ) ---propagated like many other propensities, mental as well as bodily, which certainly are inherited from parents,
-propagated like the noxious nature of other animals. If the phenomenon is not accounted for in this easy and natural way, so analogous to that great law by which all animals propagate their kinds, and their dispositions, it must remain to the end of the world an unsolvible mystery. I prove the derivation of sin from Adam,
(2.) From the fact that mankind are born depraved.
Whether the depravity of infants consists in exercises or disposition, or whether from the first, or at what age, they begin actually to sin, I shall by no means allow myself to inquire. Without denying what others may choose to assert on these points, all that I can feel authorized to say is, that, as the young lion is born, not an elephant, but with a carnivorous nature, though he does not at first feed on flesh; and as the serpent is not a dove, but possesses a poisonous nature, while yet in the egg; and both will certainly act out their peculiar nature when they arrive at maturity; so infants are born with a nature, which, not by necessity, but by the free consent of the heart, will in all cases actually sin as soon as they are able. Without denying that more is true, I mean to assert no more when I speak of the depravity of infants, and when I call them sinners. Least of all do I undertake