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AN

ESSAY ON MAN.

CHAP. I.

Of Man under Sin.

·

DURING the state of man's innocence, an harmony was established between the body and the spirit. The ruling principle preserved its superiority, and the inferior was under due regulation: the appetites were subordinate to the will; sense was governed by reason; the body was subject to the spirit; and all were in obedience to God. Peace was the immediate fruit of this subjection; and immortality would have been its reward. But it is the uniform doctrine of the Scripture, that since the entrance of sin, human nature is become degenerate; and that under this degeneracy, sense overcomes reason, the appetites corrupt the will, and the will is so inclined to evil, that it cannot be turned toward God, till it is called and moved thereto by his grace. When the Scripture speaks of man in

this state, it represents him as alienated from God, darkened in his understanding, averse to righteousness, in captivity and bondage to sin, and subject to wrath and condemnation. The reason and equity of all this I am not enquiring into : I speak only of the fact; and it will appear from the Scripture, compared with the natural state of man, that the fact is as it is here represented. It is not necessary that we should take a large compass in order to shew this: the Apostle St. Paul, who insists frequently and earnestly upon this subject, hath saved us the trouble, by collecting into one view the most remarkable passages in the Old Testament relating to the depravity of the human character.

In his Epistle to the Romans, he begins with describing the deplorable corruption of the Gentiles under their apostasy.

And as the Jew was apt to value himself upon comparison with them, the Apostle checks his vanity, by informing him, that nature is the same in all men : that the Jew had little advantage of the Heathen, except that the oracles of God were committed to him. Coming still nearer to the point, he asks, TV hat then? are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. Then he proceeds to confirm this by an induction of particulars from the writings of the Old Testament. “ As it is written ; there is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They

gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doth 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

are all

their eyes.

misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before

These expressions, collected from the Psalms and the Prophets, are to be understood as evidences of the proposition before advanced, that Jews and Gentiles are all under sin : and they mark out so particularly the several species of depravity, to which the sinfulness of nature extends, that instead of searching for other parallel declarations, it will be sufficient that we examine into the truth and meaning of these. They to whoin the Apostle addressed himself, were well convinced of the corruption of the Gentiles : but they were apt to consider themselves as another species of men. They boasted of their freedom as the children of Abraham, and had no notion of that natural bondage of sin, from which the Son was to make them free. Therefore the Apostle argues with respect to them, that as all these things were written in the law, they were spoken to those who were under the law, even to the elect children of Abraham, who thought themselves excepted from the rest of mankind, that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world might become guilty before God. A sense of self-sufficiency, native dignity, and independence, was the ruin of Lucifer : and if there were any thing of natural purity in man, he might be boasting of it, and setting up for merit in opposition to his Creator. But under the present constitution of things, all men are guilty, and every mouth is stopped: that is, every mouth is stopped in reason, though not in fact. They, who know themselves, will be silent; but many

mouths of the ignorant are still open; and they will continue so, till the great day of inquisition, when the mouth of all iniquity shall be as effectually stopped, as it is now confuted. And what do we lose by this conviction ? Nothing, but the gratification of pride, a base principle; a lust as hurtful to the spirit, as the foulest appetites are to the body. In every other respect we are gainers. We are still in the hands of a merciful Being, whoin we may safely leave to make his own terms with us, and who humbles us for no end, but that we may be the more effectually exalted.

But let us now attend to the Apostle's description; the particulars of which arrange themselves under three distinct heads: and relate, first, to the thoughts of men; secondly, to their words; and thirdly, to their works. The subject' opens with these wordsThere is none righteous, no not one. The chief thing here to be observed, is the universality of the corruption asserted. Jews and Gentiles are condemned without the exception of any individual: and this general application of the words, on which the Apostle so much insists, will teach us how the first verse of the 14th Psalm is to be understood, as I shall take occasion to remark in another place. The word righteous is a term proper to a court of justice. The law says, If there be a controvery between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. Therefore to be righteous, is to be clear of the offence of which any one is accused. But mo man ever was or ever will be qualified by nature to abide such a trial in the sight of God. The law, which should direct him to perfection, serves only to expose his guilt; and hence the Apostle calls the law, the strength of sin ; the instrument by which sin prevails against man, to convict him of unrighteousness. If this be true, how is it that the Scripture speaks of so many righteous men, and particularly of the righteousness of Abraham? The answer is obvious enough, that the righ

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