Images de page
PDF
ePub

of that loss, in a mode which might be perverted to a bad use. Considering man as a moral agent, he is "very far gone" from his original state, and as a sufferer he is "wholly deprived" of it. To have gone far, very far, from a given state of mind, must signify, if plain language have any definite meaning, that the state intended was entirely lost;" and that, regarded as a privilege, man was wholly deprived of it.

[ocr errors]

§ 9. Upon the whole, therefore, it does not appear that the rejection of the Assembly's proposal implied any disagreement of sentiment, but rather turned upon the most unexceptionable mode of expressing it. The article, however, is sufficiently explicit in shewing that man has lost his pristine perfection, no less than if it were said, that he is "wholly deprived" of it. No man who is unchanged by gracious influence, has even the nature of true wisdom, much less its perfection. He is essentially defective as to the end he aims at, and consequently the means he adopts cannot have the nature of righteousness, whatever sagacity, or comparative wisdom, he may discover in the use of them,

10. To insist much on this doctrine has the most salutary effect on the minds and conduct of men, as being very frequently attended

with a divine blessing and gracious influence; while a neglect of stating it in a close and searching manner, in a course of Christian instruction, is in fact found to be highly injurious to vital religion. Until men are thoroughly convinced of their deplorable defects, and their mental maladies, there is no probability that they will mourn for their sins, become poor in spirit, or hunger and thirst after righteousness. That unguarded and crude representations have been made of the doctrine is but too true; yet even this has not been so fatal to the interests of real Christianity as the contrary extreme. Because in the one case, however disgusting or frightful the representation may be, an appropriate remedy is held forth; whereas a picture encouraging self-flattery, tends to eclipse the grace of Christ, or to diminish, in the sinner's view, the gospel remedy. Among converts of the latter class, I should expect but little gratitude to God, or love to Christ, or zeal in propagating his gospel. How far this remark accords with matter of fact, is left with the candid enquirer to determine from observation.

11. His Lordship farther asserts that every good affection was not eradicated. All idea ' of distinction between right and wrong was 'not obliterated from the human mind, or ' every good affection eradicated from the human

6

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

heart.'* The heart was in a high degree depraved, but every good affection towards God ' and towards man was not totally extinguished.' 'Let us next consider the parable of the sower, and particularly the explanation of that 'seed which fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit; "that on the good ground," says Christ," are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience:" here we have again our Saviour's authority for saying, 'that there is some honesty, some goodness of heart in the human race; and that different men 'possess these virtuous qualities in different degrees, since of the seed which fell upon good ground, some brought forth" an hundred fold, * some sixty, some thirty."+

[ocr errors]

§ 12. Every good affection was not cradi'cated-was not totally extinguished--there is some goodness of heart in the human race.' These positions appear to be advanced against the supposed tenets of Calvinists. But in one sense of the terms employed, they are not at all opposed to Calvinism; for what Calvinist would maintain that affections, conjugal, pareutal, filial, paternal, friendly, patriotic, or loyal,—are not good? The question is, in what sense are Ibid, p. 14.

* Refut. p. 3. + Ibid, p. 10.

such affections good, previous to a supernatural influence? They are, doubtless, comparatively good; that is, compared with their opposites. Yet this they may be, while essentially defective compared with the will of God, and the revealed rule of righteousness; since they are exercised by many persons who are "fast bound with the chains of their sins," and in a very degraded state of moral depravity. A person may have a sincere and strong affection to another, which is good compared with "envy, hatred, and malice," without possessing what is essential to real virtue and moral goodness.

[ocr errors]

§ 13. What his Lordship asserts, that all 'idea of distinction between right and wrong I was not obliterated from the human mind,' might lead the reader to suppose that Calvinists held the contrary opinion. So far however is this from being the case, that they feel no reluctance in extending the assertion to fallen angels, as well as to men; and are in the habit of reciting these words of their poct with approbation: "The devils know, and tremble too; but Satan cannot love."-But his Lordship proceeds to say, that every good affection towards God

[ocr errors]

was not totally extinguished.' That a carnal mind, under the dominion of sin, and led captive by Satan at his will, may have some sense of gratitude to the bountiful Creator and Benefactor,

and some kind of love to him, is readily granted; but the question is, whether that love has not in it "the nature of sin," while the object of it is made subservient to selfish ends,such ends as are opposed to the standard of righteousness? This is what Calvinists maintain, according to the sacred oracles, which declare that "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. They that are in the flesh cannot please God."*" The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."†

§14. The observations made on the parable of the sower, will be thought by most readers,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I presume, very remarkable. There is some honesty, some goodness of heart in the human 'race.' Supposing the four kinds of hearers to represent the human race,' three parts out of four appear fruitless, without honesty or goodness of heart. How then can this be an apology in point for the honesty and goodness of the 'human race?' And respecting the fourth part, that bare good fruit in different degrees, what reason is there for concluding that the success

Rom. viii. 7, 8.

+ 1 Cor. ii. 14.

« PrécédentContinuer »