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sentiment. Attend also to the language of the Reformers, and especially to the founders of the English church. “ Forasmuch (say they) as the true know““ ledge of ourselves is very necessary to come to the “ right knowledge of God, ye have heard how humbly “ all good men ought always to think of themselves.”
" The Holy Ghost, in writing the holy Scriptures, 6 is in nothing more diligent than pulling down man's “ vain-glory and pride, which of all vices is most uni“ versally grafted in all mankind, even from the first “ infection of our first father Adam.” “ Of our“ selves we be crab-trees that can bring forth no " apples. We be of ourselves of such earth, as can “ but bring forth weeds, nettles, brambles, briars, “ cockle, and darnel. Our fruits be declared in the “ fifth chapter of Galatians. We have neither faith, “ charity, hope, patience, chastity, nor any thing else " that good is, but of God; and therefore these « virtues be called there the fruits of the Holy “ Ghost, and not the fruits of man.”— “ We are, “ of ourselves, very sinful, wretched, and damnable. “ Of ourselves, and by ourselves, we are not able “ either to think a good thought, or work a good deed, 6 so that we can find in ourselves no hope of salvation, “ but rather whatsoever maketh unto our destruction. “ O Israel, thy destruction cometh of THYSELF, but in “ ME only is thy help and comfort.” (w)
“ Our very virtues (says Richard Hooker), may be “ snares unto us. The enemy that waiteth for all « occasions to work our ruin, hath found it harder to : (r) Homily on the Misery of all Mankind : see also Article the 9th.
“ overthrow an humble sinner, than a proud saint. 66 There is no man's case so dangerous as his whom 66 Satan hath persuaded that his own righteousness 66 shall present him blameless in the sight of God. “ If we could say, we were not guilty of any thing at - all in our consciences (we know ourselves far from “ this innocency; we cannot say, we know nothing by « ourselves; but if we could) should we therefore plead s not guilty before the presence of our Judge, who “ sees farther into our hearts than we ourselves can do? “ If our hands did never offer violence to our brethren, 66 a bloody thought doth prove us murderers before « him: if we had never opened our mouth to utter any “ scandalous, offensive, or hurtful word, the cry of our “ secret cogitations is heard in the ears of God. If 6 we did not commit the sins, which daily and hourly, « either in deed, word, or thoughts, we do commit; “ yet in the good things which we do, how many « defects are intermingled! God, in that which is & done, respecteth the mind and intention of the doer. 66 Cut off, then, all those things wherein we have re“ garded our own glory, those things which men do to “ please men, and to satisfy our own liking, those 6 things which we do for any by-respect, not sincerely 6 and purely for the love of God; and a small score 66 will serve for the number of our righteous deeds. “ Let the holiest and best things which we do, be con“ sidered: we are never better affected unto God than « when we pray; yet when we pray how are our affec“ tions many times distracted! How little reverence 66 do we show unto the grand majesty of God, unto “ whom we speak! How little remorse of our own 66 miseries! How little taste of the sweet influence “ of his tender mercies do we feel! Are we not as “ unwilling many times to begin, and as glad to make “ an end, as if in saying, call upon me, he had set us “ a very burthensome task ? It may seem somewhat “ extreme, which I will speak; therefore let every one “ judge of it, even as his own heart shall tell him, and 6 no otherwise ; I will but only make a demand :-If “ God should yield unto us, not as unto Abraham:- If “ fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, yea, or if ten good persons “ could be found in a city, for their sakes that city “ should not be destroyed: but, and if he should make 66 us an offer thus large; search all the generations of “ men, since the fall of our father Adam, find one 6 man that hath done one action, which hath past 66 from him pure, without any stain or blemish at all, 6 for that one man's only action neither man nor “ angel shall feel the torments which are prepared for 6 both. Do you think that this ransom, to deliver “ men and angels, could be found to be among the “ sons of men ? The best things which we do have “ somewhat in them to be pardoned. How then can 6 we do any thing meritorious, or worthy to be re6 warded ? Indeed, God doth liberally promise what“ soever appertaineth to a blessed life, to as many as “ sincerely keep his law, though they be not exactly “ able to keep it. Wherefore, we acknowledge a duti“ful necessity of doing well; but the meritorious 6 dignity of doing well we utterly renounce. We “ see how far from the perfect righteousness of the
“ law; the little fruit which we have in holiness, it is, “ God knoweth, corrupt and unsound: we put no con6 fidence at all in it, we challenge nothing in the world 6 for it, we dare not call God to reckoning, as if we “ had him in our debt books: our continual suit to “ him is, and must be, to bear with our infirmities, " and pardon our offences.” (x)
But many will say in opposition to all this, “We • admit the fact of the great, though not universal, • wickedness that prevails in the world: but we cannot
assent to what you give as the Natural History of • it. We do not think it inseparable from man's pre
sent nature, but an accidental acquisition; we do not • ascribe it to the influence of an hereditary taint, but • conceive it to be the effect of imitation and custom, • of acquired habit, of corrupt example, of injudicious • tuition. This, by the way, is only saying in other words, that depravity is the effect of depravity. Let us, however, examine the matter a little more closely. That vile passions may in some be the result of improper tuition or of imitation, I have no inclination to deny; but they cannot always be referred to such an origin. How often do we see children in the veriest infancy exhibit strong and unquestionable indications of boisterous tempers, of obstinacy, or impatience ? How often do children of the most pious parents, who. are so brought up as during the first six or seven years of their lives, never to witness any species of crime, any instances of ingratitude, of falsehood, or deception, or any indulgence in irascible passions, furnish painful ... (x) Hooker's Discourse on Justification, 87.
proofs that they can be deceivers, wilful liars, ungrateful, passionate, malignant, and unforgiving? These instances, I will venture to say, occur very frequently when it is impossible to ascribe them to imitation. But suppose the contrary were admitted, the opposers of the Scriptural doctrine would gain nothing by the concession. For of whom could a child acquire iniquity by imitation, but of some one who was born before him ? And whom did that person imitate, but some one born before him? And where must this series terminate? If you say any where short of the first man, you have to account for the remarkable phenomenon of sin's making its first inroad at the identical time, and fixing upon the identical person you have selected ; and this will be found infinitely more difficult than extending the series to the great progenitors of the human race. Besides, does not the very circumstance of an aptitude to imitate evil, and rather to imitate evil than good, indicate something like that hereditary taint, which it is brought forward to contravene and supersede? Can an inherent tendency to imitate evil, an undeviating propensity to slide into vice, (unless the strong hand of moral discipline, or the suasive influence of Divine grace, prevents,) be fairly or rationally ascribed to any thing less than such a cause as that with which the Bible makes us acquainted ? Pursuing this train, you will see that the Scriptural solution of the difficulty before us is reasonable ; and that it has the farther advantage of showing, that moral evil was not, as some have been presumptuous enough to assert, produced by the Creator, but con