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need of it, and making them gladly accept it upon
God's own terms.
Leaving therefore that trite objection to the unthinking vulgar, once more, judicious reader, summon all your rational powers; and, after imploring help from on high to use them aright, say, whether these last arguments do not prove, that no christian can deny the complete fall of mankind, without renouncing the capital doctrines of his own religion; overturning the very foundation of the gospel, which he professes to receive; staining the glory of the Redeemer, whom he pretends to honour; and impiously taking from his crown, wisdom, truth, and charity, the three jewels that are its brightest ornaments...Sum up then all that has been advanced, concerning the afflictive dealings of God's providence with mankind, and the base. conduct, or wicked temper of mankind towards God, one another, and themselves....Declare, if all the arguments laid before you, and cleared from the thickest clouds of objections that might obscure them, do not cast more light upon the black subject of our depravity, than is sufficient to shew that it is a melancholy truth....And finally pronounce, whether the doctrine of our corrupt and lost estate, stated in the words of the sacred writers, and of our pious reformers, is not rationally demonstrated, and established upon the firmest basis in the world, Matter of fact, and the dictates of common sense.
WHEN a doctrine has been clearly demonstrated, the truths that necessarily spring from it, cannot reasonably be rejected. Let them common sense decide, whether the following consequences do not necessarily result from the doctrine of the fall, establised in the preceding parts of this treatise.
I. INFERENCE. If we are by nature in a corrupt and lost estate, the grand business of ministers is to rouse our drowsy consciences, and warn us of our imminent danger: It behoves them to cry aloud and spare not, to lift up their voice like a trumpet, and shew us our transgressions and our sins: Nor are they to desist from this unpleasing part of their office till we awake to righteousness, and lay hold on the hope set before us.
If preachers, under pretence of peace and good nature, let the wound fester in the conscience of their hearers, to avoid the thankless office of probing it to the bottom: If, for fear of giving them pain by a timely amputation: they let them die of a mortification: Or if they heal the hurt of the daughter of God's people slightly, saying Peace! Peace! when there is no peace; they imitate those sycophants of old, who, for fear of displeasing the rich and offending the great, preached smooth things, and prophesied deceit.
This cruel gentleness, this soft barbarity is attended with the most pernicious consequences, and will de
servedly meet with the most dreadful punishment. Give sinners warning from me, says the Lord to every minister: When I say to the wicked, the unconverted, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, he shall die in his iniquity, in his unconverted state; but his blood will I require at thy hand. See Matt. xviii. 3. Ezek. iii. 18. and xiii. 10.
II. INFER. If we are naturally depraved and condemned creatures; self-righteousness and pride, are the most absurd and monstrous of all our sins. The deepest repentance and profoundest humility become us: To neglect them, is to stumble at the very threshold of true religion; and to ridicule them, is to pour contempt upon reason, revelation, and the first operations of divine grace on a sinner's heart.
III. INFER. If the corruption of mankind is universal, inveterate, and amazingly powerful, no mere creature can deliver them from it. They must remain unrestored; or they must have an almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, unwearied, infinitely patient Saviour; willing day and night to attend to the wants, and public or secret applications of millions of wretched souls; and able to give them immediate assistance throughout the world; in all their various trials, temptations, and` conflicts both in life and in death. Is the most exalted creature sufficient for these things?
When such a vast body as mankind, spread over all the earth for thousands of years, made up of numerous nations, all of which consist of multitudes of individuals, each of whom has the springs of all his faculties, and powers enfeebled, disordered, or broken: When such an immense body as this, is to be restored to the image of the infinitely holy, glorious and blessed God, common sense dictates, that the amazing task can be performed by no other than the original Artist, the great Searcher of hearts, the omnipotent Creator of mankind.
Hence it appears, that notwithstanding the cavils of Arius, the Saviour is God over all blessed for ever,
all things were made by him, he upholds all things by the word of his power, and every believer may adore him, and say, with the wondering apostle, when the light of faith shone into his benighted soul, My Lord and my God!
IV. INFER. If our guilt is immense, it cannot be expiated without a sacrifice of an infinite dignity: Hence we discover the mistake of heathens and carnal jews, who trusted in the sacrifices of beasts: the error of deists, Mahometans, and Socinians, who see no need of any expiatory sacrifice; and the amazing presumption of too many christians, who repose a considerable part of their confidence in the proper merit of their works; instead of placing it entirely in the infinitely meritorious sacrifice of the immaculate Lamb of God, humbly acknowledging that all the gracious rewardableness of the best works of faith, is derived from his precious blood and original merit.
V. INFER. If our spiritual maladies are both numerous and mortal, it is evident, we cannot recover the spiritual health that we enjoyed in our first parents, but by the powerful help of our heavenly Physician, the second Adam. How absurd is it then to say, that we are saved, or recovered by doing good works, without the quickening grace of a Saviour?
A wretched beggar is lame both in his hands and feet: An officious man, instead of taking him to a person famous for his skill in relieving such objects of distress, assures him that the only way of getting well is to run of errands for his prince, and work for his fellow-beggars. You justly wonder at the cruelty and folly of such a director: But you have much more reason to be astonished at the conduct of those miserable empirics, who direct poor, blind, lame sinners, labouring under a complication of spiritual disorders, and sick even unto eternal death, to save themselves merely by serving God, and doing good to their neighbours; as if they needed neither repentance towards God, nor faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, nor yet free grace to en
able them to repent, believe, and serve God acceptably.
How much more rational is the evangelical method of salvation! we are saved, says the apostle, we are restored to saving health, and a spiritual activity to serve God and our neighbour, not by works, not of ourselves; but by grace, by mere favour; through faith, through such an entire confidence in our Physician, as makes us gladly take his powerful remedies, abstain from the pleasing poison of sin, and feed on those divine truths which communicate angelical vigour and happiness to our souls. Eph. ii. 8.
VI. INFER. If our nature is so completely fallen and totally helpless, that in spiritual things we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing truly good as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God; it is plain we stand in absolute need of his Spirit's assistance, to enable us to pray, repent, believe, love and obey aright. Consequently, those who ridicule the Holy Spirit, and his sacred influence, despise the great helper of our infirmities, and act a most irrational, wicked, and desperate part. Rom. viii. 26.
VII. INFER. If by nature we are really and truly born in sin, our regeneration cannot be a mere metaphor, or a vain ceremony; our spiritual birth must be real and positive. How fatal therefore is the mistake of those, who suppose that the new birth is only a figurative expression for a decent behaviour! How dreadful the error of those, who imagine that all, whose faces have been typically washed with material water in baptism, are now effectually born again of living water and the Holy Spirit! And how inexcusable the case of the multitudes, who in the church of England, are under this dangerous mistake, so prudently guarded against by our pious reformers!
In our chatechism, they clearly distinguish between the outward visible sign or form in baptism, and the inward, spiritual grace: And by defining the latter, a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness,