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What could I have done more for my vineyard that I have not done. How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a bird gathereth her brood under her wings, and ye would not. O that thou hadst known! My people will not consider." Now such language as this, is mere mockery of human wo, unless it was by their own conduct, the guilt lamented, was incurred, and unless they had power to do otherwise. Why lament an evil which he himself had caused, by bringing them into the world with a depraved nature, and which, none but he, can ever cure? It is impossible to reconcile these expostulations with the idea, that, at any moment, the occasion might instantly have been removed by the divine power, and that without a special interposition on the part of God, there was no possibility of its removal. We ought to consider them as sincere; and if we do, we must conclude that the people concerned in them, had been the authors of their own ruin, and always possessed the ability to prevent it.

The Bible abounds with Precepts. For whom? A being, who, by his nature, is utterly unable to observe them?

The views of future Retribution, exhibited in the same volume, are so many contradictions to native depravity. We are taught that we shall be judged by our deeds. And they only, who have done evil, shall arise to condemnation. But what influence have our deeds upon that sentence, which was passed ages ago on the whole race, and by which we are "liable to the pains of hell?" The judgment is already completed, when we begin the race of life, and cannot be reversed by all we

may perform. Is this being rewarded according to our deeds?


All men are represented, as alike interested in the blessings of Christianity, and its invitations are accordingly addressed to all with the same earnestness. Jesus knew what was in man, both our strength and our weakHe was without guile. He ever spake the truth. If, then, these calls of divine goodness were not designed for every one's acceptance, or if none had power to comply with them, would he not have said so? If our natural depravity be the origin and cause of all our actual offences, would he not have said so? He might have lamented our blindness, but he could not have asked," "Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?" He might have been anxious for our unbelief, but could not have inquired, "Why do ye not believe ?" He might have exhorted us to wait patiently for the coming of the Holy Ghost, but could not have upbraided us for a guilt which that coming only could terminate. He might have expatiated on the miseries of our condition, but could not have held up the promises which concerned none but the elect, to a dying world; thus adding fresh anguish to their helpless woes.

But we are not taught in the New Testament that our nature is depraved. Our Lord once exclaimed, “How can ye believe, who seek honour one of another," but never, "How can ye believe, who were altogether born in sins." He uniformily ascribes the ruin of the wicked to their own immediate fault, and not to any foreign cause, least of all to one prior to their existence. There are no words in the Bible, by which a bare statement of the

doctrine we oppose, can be made out, with even a shew of fairness. From a few passages, it has been extorted, however; and the candid reader of Scripture, may justly express surprise at the manner in which a sentiment, so inconsistent with its whole spirit and instructions, has been drawn from it. As I have before observed, most of the passages relied upon in the argument, contain vivid and striking descriptions of the vices of particular men, communities, or generations. Some only declare the general truth," There is no man that liveth and sinneth not." And scarce one can even by force, be made to allude to human nature itself, abstractly considered.

Three texts are cited always on this occasion; and they are all which I shall now notice. Both because the mode of interpretation which applies to these, may apply to every other which is referred to, and because constant use of these, shews the dearth of good proof sufficiently to indicate the weakness of the cause they are supposed to establish.

One of these passages lies in the 51st Psalm. David is there giving utterance to some very strong emotions of his heart, excited by the recollections of his own crimes. The whole piece is an exercise of private, personal devotion, and should be interpreted as such. Shall we take up his words and analyse them, as if they were the language, not of emotion, but cold philosophy? Shall we read his Psalm as a lecture, instead of an humble prayer of private penitence? If any one supposes David designed to be understood literally, when he says, " I was shapen in iniquity," then let him be consistent, and equally literal in such sentences as the following; "The

wicked go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." That is, infants speak as soon as they come into the world, and they speak lies too. "Rivers of water run down mine eyes." Here you may imagine his cheeks two channels or beds of rivers. 66 Purge me with hyssop." That is, take the herb hyssop and cleanse me. "Break the teeth of the young lions." "There is no soundness in my flesh, because of my sins." It is easily seen to what absurdities we are led by this mode of interpretaion; yet no reason exists for applying it to the words of the penitential hymn, which does not equally require its use in those just recited. The truth is, all these passages are properly regarded as the expressions, which naturally suggest themselves to the mind of an oriental poet, in a state of strong emotion; but not as literal representations of fact or opinion.

Ephesians ii. 5, is another text much relied upon in this argument. "And were, by nature, children of wrath, even as others." To whom is this said? To persons recently converted from idolatry; who had, in times past, "walked according to the prince of the power of the air, who were Gentiles in the flesh, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel." This heathenish state with its attendant vices, Paul contrasts with the condition into which Christianity had brought them. The phrase, “by nature" occurs in another Epistle, in a manner which illustrates its meaning here. "We, who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles." Now it is certain Paul does not intend their nature as human beings, for that is peculiar to no nation, and makes us simply men, not Jews nor Gentiles. The latter clause proves that

we are to understand the former thus, if any proof were needed. For sin, as an attribute of man, is surely not limited by national divisions, and the phrase “sinners of the Gentiles" would have no sense, if we did not know that, by this title, the Jews were accustomed to distinguish idolaters from their own people. To be a Jew by nature, is to be one by parentage, education, and affinity. "Children of wrath, children of disobedience," are terms significant of the actual character of those to whom they apply, a character acquired by themselves, when they "gave themselves over to lasciviousness, and walked according to the course of this world." So Peter styles similar characters, "cursed children," indicating their liability to punishment for their vices. And, in like manner, virtuous Christians walk as "children of the light." If any one prefers to understand the Apostle as affirming that the Ephesians were proper subjects of divine wrath, on account of their birth simply, without any regard to their own subsequent conduct, he may enjoy his opinion. But he turns aside entirely from the argument of the writer, to hang a fond notion of his own upon the naked words. ·

The only remaining passage I shall notice, lies in the Epistle to the Corinthians. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God." A wrong translation alone, occasions the least mistake here. The Greek word does not signify what the English term implies. Its true meaning is expressed in Jude xix, "sensual." So also in James iii. 15, "sensual" is the rendering. It is found in three places in this Epistle besides the passage just quoted. Paul, speaking of the human frame, says,



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