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sin of our first Parent has caused every individual descended from him, to be born into the world an imperfect and depraved creature. But though a propensity to evil and wickedness, universal in extent and powerful in its effects, was thus transmitted to mankind, yet all idea of distinction between right and wrong was not utterly obliterated from the human mind, or every good affection eradicated from the human heart. The general approbation of virtue and detestation of vice, which have universally prevailed, prove, that the moral sense was not annihilated (b); and that Man did not become by the Fall an unmixed incorrigible mass of pollution and depravity, absolutely incapable of amendment, or of knowing or discharging, by his natural powers, any part of the duty of a dependent rational being. And it will appear that the Gospel scheme of Redemption, so far from rejecting all co-operation of Man, requires human exertions as indispensably neces
(b) “ Peace and delight,” says Bishop Butler, “ in some degree and upon some occasions, is the necessary and present effect of virtuous practice ; an effect arising immediately from the constitution of our nature.
We are so made that well-doing as such gives us satisfaction, at least in some instances; ill-doing as such in none.” And, upon another occasion he observes, that “this moral nciple is capable of improvement by discipline and exercise.” Anal, of Religion, pp. 81 & 135.
sary to obtain the effectual assistance of the Holy Spirit.
I do not think it necessary to repeat the arguments, which I have stated in a former Work (c), in support of the doctrine of the general corruption of human nature, but shall confirm the truth of what has been now advanced respecting the degree of that corruption, by a particular reference to the Old and New Testaments; I shall then shew that the Public Formularies of our Church are strictly consonant to Scripture, and cannot be reconciled with the Calvinistic tenets upon Original Sin, Free-will, and Divine Grace, subjects necessarily connected in every system of Christian Theology.
We are told in the Book of Genesis, that ss The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering (d);" and unto Cain he said, “ If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door (e).”
(c) Elements of Christian Theology. (d) Gen. c. 4. v. 4.
(ej Gen. c. 4. v.7. My argument is not affected by the doubts entertained by the learned, concerning the meaning of the last words of this passage. I desire to refer my Readers, who may wish to see this subject fully discussed, to Dr. Magee's Discourses on Atonement and Sacrifice, v. 1. p. 57. and v. 2. p. 243, a work of great learning, and of very superior merit.
May we not hence infer that the immediate sons of Adam lived under a divine law, which they had the power of obeying or of disobeying? The doing well, or the doing not well, the acceptance, or the imputation of sin, imply a practicable rule as the criterion of the worthiness of their actions. The progress of sin after the Fall was very rapid and excessive; but we are informed that, amidst the general dcpravity, « Enoch walked with God (f):” and that “ Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and walked with God (g).” The former “ was translated that he should not see death (h);" and the latter was *preserved with his family, when a flood of waters destroyed all other flesh upon the earth. Between the flood and the promulgation of the Law lived Abraham, who was called by God himself “the Friend of God (i);” Isaac, to whose prayer it pleased God to listen (k); and Job, who “ was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil (1).” Do not these instances bespeak a rule of life instituted by God himself, and a capacity of distinguishing between good
of Gen. c. 5. v. 24.
and evil, and of acting according to the determination of reason? The very same conclu- . sions follow still more clearly, from the great prevalence of wickedness in the ante-diluvian world, and the consequent destruction of the whole huinan race, with the exception of eight persons; for, where no law is, there is no transgression (m);"_“Sin is not imputed, when there is no law (n):” The Punishment proves the existence of Sin-Sin proves the existence of a Law—and a Law given by a righteous and merciful God, proves the possibility of Obedience.
If we turn to the history of the Jews living under a peculiar Dispensation, we shall find that though in general they were a perverse and wicked people, and frequently drew down upon themselves the just vengeance of an offended God, yet there were many on whom was poured the spirit of prophecy, and several of their kings are celebrated for“ walking in the commandments of God.” Even in the idolatrous days of Ahab and Jezebel, when the covenant was forsaken, and the altars of God overthrown, there were 7.000 in Israel, who had not bowed their knees to Baal (o); and at the last there were some who
“ departed (m) Rom. c. 4. v. 15.
(n) Rom. c. 5. v. 13. rod i Kings, c. 19. v. 18.
departed not from the Temple, but looked for redemption in Jerusalem (P);” and “there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven (9).” In the inspired writings of the Prophets, some degree of uprightness, and also a power of abandoning sin, in consequence of reflection, are unequivocally acknowledged ; “When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done, shall be die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickelness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and turneth away from all his transgressions that he bath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die (r).” “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man bis thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon (s).” " Cast
your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel ? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord
(P) Luke, c. 2. v. 37 & 38. (9) Acts, c. 2. v. 5. Pr) Ezek. c. 18. v. 26–28. (s) Is. c. 55.v.7.