« ForrigeFortsæt »
difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; and that the moral law denounces a general curse against its violators, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Rom. iii. 9 to 23. vi. 19. Eph. ii. 2.
If man is thus corrupt and guilty, he must be liable to condign punishment. Therefore as the prophets and apostles agree with our Lord, in their dismal descriptions of his depravity; so they harmonize with him, in their alarming accounts of his danger. Till he flies to the Redeemer as a condemned malefactor, and secures an interest in the salvation provided for the lost, they represent him as on the brink of ruin.
They inform us, that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, not only against some atrocious crimes, but against all unrighteousness of men. Rom. i. 18. That every transgression and disobedience, shall receive a just recompence of reward, Heb. ii. 2. That the soul that sinneth shall die, because the wages of sin is death. Ezek xviii. 4. Rom. vi. 23. They declare, that they are cursed, who do err from God's commandments: That cursed is the man, whose heart departeth from the Lord: That cursed is every one, who continues not in all things, which are written in the book of the law to do them: That whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty ofall: And that, as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law. Ps. cxix. 21. Jer. xvii. 5. Gal. iii. 10. Jam. ii. 10. Rom. ii. 12.
They intreat us to turn, lest we should be found with the many, in the broad way to destruction. Ez. xviii. 23. Mat. 7. 13. They affectionately inform us, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God: That our God is a consuming fire to the unregenerate that indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, hang over every soul of man who doeth evil: that the Lord shall be revealed from heaven in
flaming fire, to take vengeance on them, who know him not, and obey not the gospel: That the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God that they shall be punished with eternal destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power: And that they all shall be damned, who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. Heb. x. 31. and xii. 29. Rom. ii. 9. 2 Thes. i. 8. and ii. 12. Ps. ix. 17.
Nor does our Lord, who is both the fountain and pattern of true charity, speak a different language. He bids us fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell: Luke xii. 5. He solemnly charges us to oppose corrupt nature with the utmost resolu-, tion, lest we be cast into hell, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark ix. 43. With tenderness he informs us, that whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool! shall be in danger of hell-fire; that not only the wicked, but the unprofitable servant shall be cast into outer darkness, where will be weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth: And that he himself, far from conniving at sin, will fix the doom of all impenitent sinners, by this dreadful sentence: Depart from me, ye cursed: into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Mat. v. 22. and xxv. 30. 41.
II. I flatter myself that the doctrine, which we are to try by the touch-stone of reason, has been already sufficiently established from scripture. Nevertheless, that the reader may have the fullest view of so momentous a subject, I shall yet present him with a recapitulation of the whole, in the words of our pious reformers, taken out of the Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy of the church of England,
The 9th article thus describes our depravity and danger: "Original, or birth-sin, is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is
of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation."
The 35th article gives sanction to the Homilies in the following words: "The book of Homilies contains a good and wholesome doctrine, and therefore we judge them to be read in churches, by ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understood by the people." Let us then see, how they set forth the good and wholesome, though lamentable and humbling doctrine of our lost estate.
The title of the 2d is, "A sermon of the misery of mankind, and of his condemnation to death everlasting by his sin." In the close of it, the contents are summed up in these words: "We have heard how evil we are of ourselves; how of ourselves, and by ourselves we have no goodness, help, or salvation : but on the contrary, sin, damnation, and death everlasting
Our church is uniform in her woeful accounts of man's misery. Hear her in the 1st Homily for Whitsunday: "Man of his own nature (since the fall) is fleshly and carnal, corrupt and naught, sinful and disobedient to God, without any spark of goodness in him, without any virtuous or godly motion, only given to evil thoughts and wicked deeds."
In the Homily on the nativity she speaks thus : "He (disobedient man) was now cursed and abhorred: Instead of the image of God, he was now become the image of the devil, the bond-slave of hell. Altoge ther spotted and defiled, he seemed to be nothing else but a lump of sin; and therefore, by the just judg ment of God, he was condemned to everlasting death. Thus, in Adam, all men became universally mortal, having in themselves nothing but * everlasting damnation of body and soul."
Prejudiced persons, who, instead of considering the entire system of truth, run away with a part detached from the whole,
The same doctrine is delivered with the same plainness in the 2d part of the Homily on the passion. "Adam died the death, that is, became mortal, lost the favour of God, and was cast out of paradise, being no longer a citizen of heaven, but a fire-brand of hell, and a bond-slave of the devil. And St. Paul bears witness, that by Adam's offence death came upon all men to condemnation, who became plain reprobates, and cast-aways, being perpetually damned to the everlasting pains of hell-fire.
Agreeably to this, we are taught, in the 2d part of the Homily on repentance, that "part of that virtue consists in an unfeigned acknowledgment of our sins to God, whom, by them, we have so grievously offended, that if he should deal with us according to his justice, we deserve a thousand hells, if there were so many."
The same vein of wholesome, though unpleasant doctrine, runs through the Liturgy of our church. She opens her service by exhorting us not to dissemble nor cloak our manifold sins and wickedness. She acknowledges in her confessions, that we have erred and strayed from God's ways, like lost sheep....that there is no help in us....that we are miserable sinners, miserable offenders, to whom our sins are grievous, and the burthen of them is intolerable.
She begins her baptismal office, by reminding us, that all menare conceived and born in sin. She teaches in her catechism, that we are by nature bornins n, and the Cildren of wrath. She confesses in the collect be
will be offended here, as if our church "damned every body." But the candid reader will easily observe, that, instead of dooming any one to destruction she only declares, that the Saviour finds all men in a state of condemnation and misery, where they would eternally remain, were it not for the compassionate equity of our gracious God, which does not permit him to sentence to a consciousness of eternal torments, any one of his creatures, for a sin, of which they never were personally guilty; and of which, consequently, they can never have any consciousness.
fore the general thanksgiving, that we are tied and bound with the chain of our sins, and entreats God to let the pitifulness of his great mercy loose us and im her suffrages she beseeches him to have mercy upon us, to spare us, and make speed to save us; a language that can suit none but condemned sinners.
Duly sensible of our extreme danger, till we have secured an interest in Christ, at the grave she supplicates the most holy God, not to deliver us into the bitter pains of eternal death; and in the lit ny she beseeches our Lord Jesus Christ, by his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, to deliver us from his wrath and everlasting damnation. Thus is our church every where consistent with herself, and with the oracles of God, in representing us as corrupt, condemned creatures, in Adam; till we are penitent, absolved believers in Jesus Christ.
The doctrine to be demonstrated in this treatise being thus fully stated, in the consentaneous words of the sacred writers, and our pious reformers, I shall close this part by an appeal to the reader's candour and common sense. If such are the sentiments of our church, are those church-men reasonable, who intimate that all the maintainers of them are either her open or secret enemies? and may they rank with modest, humble christians, who instead of the self-abasing scripture doctrine here laid down, boldly substitute pompous, pharisaic descriptions of the present dignity and rectitude of human nature?....without waiting for the obvious answer, I pass to the first class of arguments, on which the truth of this mortifying doctrine is established.