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it does not altogether overlook the awful realities of the invisible world, which is too frequently the case ! how busy is it to reason away faith, and raise objections against the most evident truth, * even that which I now
* A late publication in vindication of Pelagianism appears to me no small instance of this. The Rev. Author takes his estimate of human nature, not from universal experience, but his indulged imagination ; not from St. Paul the chief of the apostles, but from Dr. Taylor, to whom he acknowledges his obligations for several of the best passages in his sermon. Passing over the exposition of his text, where he oddly supposes that our Lord meant, by the drawing
ogs of God, the natural powers of man; which is as reason able as to suppose, that when he said, without me ye can do nothing, he meant that me should signify ourselves :.... Passing this over, I shall just point out his capital mistake. He tells us, that all our faculties and powers are good and beautiful in their order, (that they were so before the fall is fully granted] and tend naturally to the happiness both of the individual and the system; and he adds, that How weak soever and imperfect our intellectual faculties may be, yet to speak reproachfully of them in general is a species of blasphemy against our Creator. If to expose the present weakness of our rational faculties, and shew how greatly they are disordered and impaired by the fall, is what this divine calls speaking reproachfully of them, have not the best men been found guilty of this pretended blaspheny? How far the Apostles and Reformers carried it, may be seen in the first part of this treatise. How he can clear himself of it, as a subscriber to the gth, roth, and 35th articles of our church, I cannot see: And by what means he will justify his conduct to the world, in receiving hundreds a year to maintain the doctrine of the church of England, while he publicly exposes it as a species of blasphemy, is still a greater mystery. Far from seeing that all the faculties and powers, by which this is done, are good and beautiful, I cannot help thinking that some of them are materially defective; and that though such a conduct may very much tend to the emolument of the individual, it has little tendency to the happiness of the systeni. For may pa were I to commence advocate for the uprightness of human nature, I would save appearances, lest Dr. Taylor himself should say, Non defensoribus istis, &C........But dropping this point, I appeal to common sense : Who is most gulity of blasphemy against our Creator; he who says God made man both holy and happy, affirming that the present weakness of our rational powers, is entirely owing to the original apostacy of mankind : Or he, who intimates, that the gracious Author of our being, formed our intellectual faculties weak and imperfect as they now are ? If it is not the latter, my understanding is strangely defective........ In vain does this learned divine tell us, that the candle of the Lord which was lighted up in man at first, when the inspiration of the Almighty gave hina
contend for? And when right reason has been worsted by sense, how ready is the impostor to plead against the faculty which it personates ! How skilful in cloaking bad habits under the genteel name of human forbles!” And how ingenious, in defending the most irrational and dangerous methods of losing time, as“ innocent sports, and harmless diversons !"
These observations, which must appear self-evident to all, who know the world or themselves, incontestably prove the degeneracy of all our rational powers, and consquently the universality of our natural corruption.
When the whole head is sick, is not the whole heart faint ? Can our will, conscience, and affections, run parallel to the line of duty ; when our understanding, imagination, memory, and reason are so much warped from criginal rectitude? Impossible! Eperience, thou best of judges, I appeal to thee. Erect thy fair tribunal in the reader's breast, and bear an honest testimony to the truth of the following assertions.
Our will, in general is full of obstinacy : We must have our own way, right or wrong. 'Tis pregnant with inconstancy : we are passionaelty fond of a thing one day, and tired of it the next : We form good resolutions in the morning, and break them before night. 'Tis impotent: When we see what is right, instead of doing it with all our might we frequently remain as inactive, as if we were bound by invisible chains , and we wonder by what charm, the wheels of duty thus stop against our apparent inclination : till we discover that the spring of our will is broken, or natu rally works the wrong way: Yes, it is not only unable to follow the good, that the understanding approves; but full of perverseness to pursue the evil, that reason disapproves : We are prone to do, contrary to our design, those things which breed remorse and wound conscience ; and sooner or later, we may all say with the heathen princess, who was going to murder her child,
understanding, was not extinguished by the original apostacy, but has kept burning ever since, and that the divine flame has catched from father to son, and has been propagated quite down to the present generation. If it is reasonable to charge with a species of blasphemy those, who reverence their Creator too much, to father our present state of imperfection upon him, I must confess my reason fails : I have outlived the divine flame for one, or it never catched from my father to me.........A fear lest some well-meaning person should mistake the taper of Pelagius, or the lamp of Dr, Taylor, for the candle of the Lord, and follow it in the destructive paths of error, extorts this note from my pen. Sec the obja tions that follow the xxii. Argument.
* Video meliora, proboque, Deteriora sequor.
Nor is Conscience itself untainted. Alas: how slow is it to reprove in some cases! In others, how apt not to do it at all ! In one person, it is easy under mountains of guilt ; and in another, it is unreasonably scrupulous about mere trifles : It either strains out a gnat, or swallows a camel : When it is alarmed, in some it shews itself ready to be made easy by every wrong method ; in others, it obstinately refuses to be pacified by the right. To day, you may with propriety compare it to a dumb dog, that does not bark at a thief; and to-morrow, to a snarling cur, that flies indifferently at a friend, a foe, or a shadow; and then madly turns upon himself, and tears his own flesh.
If conscience, the best power of the unconverted man, is so corrupt, Good God! what are his Affec
, * lf the reader wants to know the English of these words, he may find it, Rom. vii. 15.
tions ? Almost perpetually deficient in some, and excessive in others, when do they attain to, or stop at, the line of moderation ? Wlio can tell, how oft he has been the sport of their irregularity and violence ? One hour we are hurried into rashness by their impetuosity : the next, we are bound in sloth by their inactivity. Sometimes every blast of foolish hope, or illgrounded fear; every gale of base desire, or unreasonable aversion ; every wave of idolatrous love, or sinful hatred ; every surge of misplaced admiration, or groundless horror; every billow of noisy joy, or undue sorrow, tosses, raises, or sinks our soul ; as a ship in a storm, which has neither rudder nor ballast. At other times, we are totally becalmed ; all our sails are furled, not one breath of devout or human affection stirs in our stoical, frozen breast; and we remain stupidly insensible, till the spark of temptation, dropping upon the combustible matter in our hearts, blows is up again into loud passion : And then, how dreadful and ridiculous together, is the new explosion!
Ifexperience pronounces, that these reflections are just, the point is gained. Our whole heart is faint, through the unaccountable disorders of our will, the lethargy or boisterous fits of our conscience, and the swooning or high fever of our affections : And we may without hypocrisy, join in our daily confession, and say, There is no health in us.
The danger of these complicated maladies of our souls, evidences itselfby the most fatal of all symptoms, our manifest alienation from God. Yes, shocking as the confession is, we must make it, if truth has any dominion in our breast: Unrenewed man loves not his God. That eternal beauty, for whose contemplation ; that supreme good, for whose enjoyment he was created, is generally forgotten, despised, or hated. If the
thought of his Holy Majesty presents itself, he looks upon it as an intruder : It lays him under as disagreeable a restraint, as that, which the presence of a grave, pious master puts upon a wanton idle servant: Nor can he quietly pursue his sinful courses, till he has driven away the troublesome idea; or imagined, with the Epicure, a careless God, who wants resolution to call him to an account, and justice to punish him for his iniquity.
Does any one offer an indignity to his favourite friend, or only speak contemptibly of the object of his esteem, he feels as if he was the person insulted, and reddening with indignation directly espouses his cause: But every body, the meanest of his attendants not ex. cepted, may with impunity insult the King of kings in his presence, and take the most prophane liberties with his name and word, his laws and ministers : He hears the wild blasphemy, and regards it not ; he sees the horrid outrage, and resents it not; and yet amazing infatuation ! hè pretends to love God.
If he goes to the play, he can fix his roving eyes and - wandering mind, three hours together upon the same
trifling object, not only without weariness but with uncommon delight. If he has an appointment with the person, whom he adores as a deity; his spirits are elevated, expectation and joy flutter in his dilated breast: He sweetly anticipates the pleasing interview, or impatiently chides the slowly flowing minutes : His feelings are inexpressible. But if he attends the great congregation, which he too often omits upon the most frivolous pretences, it is rather out of form and decency, than out of devotion and love; rather with indifference or reluctance, than with delight and transport. And when he is present there, how absent are his thoughts! How wandering his eyes! How trilling, supine, irreverent * his whole behaviour ! he would be
.....................Men homage pay to men,