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mystery unknown as to the manner of it, John iii. 8.... 13. Now if pious souls have been regenerated from the beginning of the world, without exactly knowing how; is it reasonable to deny that souls are generated, merely because we cannot exactly account for the manner, in which that wonder takes place.
Secondly, Should my objectors be versed in natural philosophy, they need not be told, that even the kind of generation, which they allow, is as much a mystery to man, as the movement of a watch is to a child, that just sees the case and the glass. If they will not believe me, let them believe him, who " gave his heart to search out by wisdom, concerning all things that are done under heaven," and who, touching upon our question, says: "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so, thou knowest not the works of God, who maketh all." Eccl. xi. 5.
For my part, I do not see, why the same Almighty Preserver of men, who (as St Paul tells us) “ made of one blood the bodies of all nations of men," might not of one active thought, and ardent desire, have made the souls of all nations of men also. Have not thought and desire as great affinity to the nature of the soul, as blood has to that of the body? and consequently are not our ideas of the traduction of the soul, as clear as those, which we can form of the generation of the body.
Having dwelt so long upon the manner in which mankind naturally propagate original corruption, together with their whole species, I hope, I may reasonably resume the conclusion of my argument, and affirm, that, if Adam corrupted the fountain of human nature in himself, we, the streams cannot but be naturally corrupted.
God being a Spirit, reason and revelation jointly inform us, that his law is spiritual, and extends to our thoughts and tempers, as well as to our words and actions. At all times, and in all places, it forbids every thing that is sinful, or has the least tendency to sin; it commands all that is excellent, and enjoins it to be done in the utmost perfection of our dispensation.
Therefore, if we have not always trusted and delighted in God, more than in all things and persons: if for one instant we have loved, or feared the creature more than the Creator; we have had another god besides the Lord. Col. iii. 5. Phil. iii. 19....Have we once omitted to adore him in spirit and in truth inwardly, or at any time worshipped him without becoming veneration outwardly; we have transgressed as if we had bowed to a graven image, Jolin iv. 24.... Though perjury and imprecations should never have defiled our lips yet, if ever we mentioned God's tremendous name thoughtlessly, or irreverently in prayer, reading, or conversation, we have taken it in vain, and the Searcher of hearts will not hold us guiltless, Phil. ii. 10....And if it has not been our constant practice and delight, to enter his courts with praise, and spend the whole sabbath in his blessed service, we have polluted that sacred day, and the guilt of profaneness may justly be charged upon us. Isa. lviii. 13.
Did we ever shew any disrespect to our superiors, or unkindness to our equals and inferiors; we have violated the precept that commands us to honour all men, and be punctual in the discharge of all social and relative duties. 1 Pet. ii. 17....Did we ever weaken our constitution by excess, strike our neighbour in anger, wound his character with an injurious word, or only suffer hatred to rise in our breast against him; we have committed a specie of murder; for, "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in
danger of hell-fire ;" and "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer," Mat. v. 22. 1 John iii. 15.... Are we "the friends of the world," an apostle brands us with the name of adulterers, because we are false to our heavenly bridegroom, James iv. 4. And if we have only "looked on a woman to lust after her,” Christ declares that we "have committed adultery with her already in our heart,” Mat. v. 28. Have we overcharged our customers, exacted upon any one in our bargains, insisted on a full salary for work done by halves, defrauded the king of any part of his taxes, or taken advantage of the necessity and ignorance of others to get by their loss: we swell the numerous tribe of reputable thieves and genteel robbers, Matt. xxii. 21. Neglecting to keep our word and baptismal vow, or speaking an untruth, is "bearing false witness against our neighbour, ourselves, or Christ who stiles himself" the truth," Rev. xxii. 15. And giving place to a fretful, discontented thought, or an irregular, envious desire, is a breach of that spiritual precept, which made St. Paul say, "I had not known lust, or a wrong desire to be sin, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet," Rom. vii. 7.
Such being the extreme spirituality of the law, who can plead that he never was guilty of breaking one, or even all of the ten commandments?
And if we have broken them all, either in their literal or spiritual meaning, and are threatened for every transgression, with a curse suitable to the Lawgiver's infinite majesty, who can conceive the greatness of our guilt and danger? Till we find a sanctuary under the shadow of a Saviour's wings, are we not as liable to the strokes of divine vengeance, as a felon, guilty of breaking all the statutes of his country, is liable to the penalty of human laws?
If this is not the case, there is no justice in the court of heaven, and the laws given with so much terror from the Almighty's throne, like the statutes of children, or the pope's bulls, are only "bruta fulmina," words without effect, and thunders without lightnings.
Some indeed flatter themselves that "the law, since the gospel-dispensation, abates much of its demands of perfect love." But their hope is equally unsupported by reason and scripture. The law is the eternal rule of right, the moral picture of the God of holiness and love. It can no more vary, than its eternal, unchangeable original. The Lord" will not alter the thing that is gone out of his mouth." He must cease to be what he is, before his law can lose its power to bind either men or angels; and all creatures shall break sooner than it shall bend; for if it commands us only to "love God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves," what just abatement can be made in so equitable a precept? Therefore man who breaks the righteous law of God as naturally as he breathes, is and must continue, under its fearful curse, till he has secured the pardon and help offered him in the gospel.
Nor is the gospel itself without its threatnings; for ifthe Lord, on the one hand, "opens the kingdom of heaven to all believers ;" he declares, on the other, that "they all shall be damned who believe not the truth," when it is proposed to them with sufficient evidence ; and that "he who believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God, 2 Thess. ii. 12. John iii. 18. From these awful declarations, I draw the following argument.
If faith is so essential a virtue, how depraved and wretched is man, who is so excessively slow of heart to believe the things that concern his salvation! Matter of fact daily proves, that we readily admit the evidence of men, while we peremptorily reject the testimony of God. Commodore Byron's extraordinary account of the giants in Patagonia is or was every
where received: But that of Jesus Christ, concerning those who "walk in the broad way to destruction," is and has always been too generally disregarded. Matt. vii. 13.
On reading in a news-paper an anonymous letter from Naples, we believe, that rivers of liquid fire flow from the convulsed bowels of a mountain, and form burning lakes in the adjacent plains: But if we read in the scripture, that Tophet, the burning lake, is prepared of old for the impenitent, we beg leave to withhold our assent; and unless divine grace prevents, we must fall in, and feel before we will assent and believe, Isa. xxx. 33.
Who, that has seen a map of Africa, ever doubted, whether there is such a kingdom as that of Morocco, though he never saw it, or any of its natives? But who, that has perused the gospel never doubted, whether "the kingdom of heaven within us," or that state of "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," which God opens to believers upon earth, is not a mere imagination? Though Christ himself invites us to it, and many pious persons, not only testify they enjoy it, but actually shew its blessed fruits in heavenly tempers, a blameless life, a triumphant death. Mark i. 14. Luke xvii. 21. Rom. xiv. 17. Rev. i. 6.
With what readiness do we depend upon an honest man's promise, especialy if it is reduced into a bond? But with what reluctance do we rely on the "many great and precious promises" of God, "confirmed by an oath," delivered before the most unexceptionable witnesses, and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ? 2 Pet. i. 4. 2 Cor. i. 20. Heb. vi. 17.
And ye, numerous tribe of patients, how do ye shame those who call themselves christians! So entire is the trust which you repose upon a physician's advice, whom perhaps you have seen but once, that you immediately abstain from your pleasant food, and regularly take medicines, which for what you know, may be as injurious to your stomach, as they are of