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even as it were a beast before him.' (Psalm lxxiii. 22.) They send him to the ant and swallow to learn diligence and wisdom, in the things that concern his future welfare. (Prov. vi. 6; Jer. viii. 7.) They affirm, that he is more stupid, in religious matters, than the ox and ass are in civil affairs. (Isa. i. 3.) They compare him to the lion for fierceness: (Psalm lviii. 6.) To the bull for madness: (Psalm xxii. 12.) To the fox for mischievous craftiness (Luke xii. 32.) To the dog for baseness, churlishness, and rage. (Mark vii. 28; Phil. iii. 2; Matt. vii. 6.) To the swine for brutish sensuality. (Matt. vii. 6.) And to the sow wallowing in the mire, or the dog returning to his vomit,' for execrable filthiness. (2 Pet. ii. 22.) In short, they declare, that he is as venomous as the poison of a serpent, even like the deaf adder that refuses to hear the charmer's voice.' (Psalm lviii. 4.)
Par.-St. James, far from aspersing the human race at this rate, intimates, that men ought not to curse one another, because they are made after the similitude of God.' (James iii. 9.)
Min.-This expression of the Apostle agrees exactly with what I said before. In Adam we were originally made after God's moral image; and since the fall, we have still glorious remains of his natural likeness in our understanding, will, aud the eternal duration of our souls. These grand ruins ought not only to make us avoid cursing each other, but should also induce us to honour all men.' (1 Pet. ii. 17.)
Par. And is it
honouring all men,' to say, that
they are all abominable by nature? slandering all men together?
Is it not rather
Min.-The expression you exclaim against, is not mine, but David's, who had it from the God of Truth. (Psalm xiv. 4.) And I hope you will allow your Maker to speak a lamentable truth without being called to your bar as a slanderer. If a physician, under pretence of honouring his sick prince, obstinately declared him immortal, and in perfect health, would he hereby do honour either to him, or his own judgment?—
Without waiting for the obvious auswer, I conclude, that they who extol the rectitude of our sin-sick nature, far from honouring all men,' pass a bitter jest upon them, and expose their own want of selfknowledge.
Par. If this doctrine respecting our fallen state were true, our Saviour would have preached it; but I do not remember that he once touches upon it in all his discourses.
Min.-Inattention and prejudice can veil the plainest truths. Why did our Lord so strongly preach to Nicodemus the necessity of a new birth,' and to his disciples, that of 'conversion,' but because we are all 'conceived in sin,' as well as David; and children of wrath by nature,' as well as St. Paul? (John iii. 3; Matt. xviii. 3.) Why did he say again and again, that 'the whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick,' if it were not to make us deeply sensible that the mortal disease of sin is upon us? (Matt. xi. 12; Mark ii. 17; Luke v. 31.) Why did he invite those 'that travail, and are heavy laden, to come to him for rest,' if we have not all a burden of iniquity to part with? (Matt. xi. 28.) Why did he declare, that he was come to seek and save that which is lost,' if we ́are not all in a lost estate? (Matt. xviii. 11.) Why did he tell his Apostles, that, without him, they could do nothing; and that no man can come unto him except the Father draw him,' but to convince them and us of our total inability to do spiritual good? (John xv. 5; vi. 44.) In short, why did he affirm, that except we do eat his flesh, and drink his blood, we have no life in us;' (John vi. 53;) that he who believeth not on him, is condemned already ;'—that 'the wrath of God abideth on him ;'-that he shall die in his sins?' Why? but because the most unblamable and moral, without him, are loaded with guilt, and ripe for destruction. (John iii. 18, 36; viii. 24; Mark xvi. 16.)
Par.-It appears, by these Scriptures, that our Saviour looked upon all as helpless, guilty creatures ;
but he made some difference between persons of a decent behaviour and notorious offenders; whereas, according to your uncharitable doctrine, both are in equal danger of endless ruin.
Min.-Certainly they are till they be converted; and the difference which our Lord made, confirms the doctrine which you oppose. There is no doubt of the lost state of scandalous sinners, for the Father of mercies says of one of them who had repented, 'This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' (Luke xv. 24.) The question is, whether Christ spake more favourably of those who depended upon their morality and forms of piety, that is, the Scribes and Pharisees: Let his own words decide it : Ye are of your father the devil.'-' Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?'' Publicans and harlots shall enter into the kingdom of heaven before you.' (John viii. 44; Matt. xxiii. 33; xxi. 31.) Thus in our Lord's account, both those who are seemingly virtuous, and those who are openly vicious, till they are in him new creatures,' travel, though by different roads, to the same mansions of horror: And if the one way is more apt to deceive the traveller than the other, it is that of the Pharisee. Par.-Shocking! At this rate the notorious sinner hath an advantage over persons of a reputable charac
How do you account for this strange paradox in our Lord's doctrine ?
Min.-You must not suppose, that gross sinners can be saved without conversion, or that we must be guilty of enormities to be proper subjects for converting grace. Far be these wild notions from us, as they were from our Saviour. His meaning is, that those who depend on the imaginary rectitude of their nature, and the chimerical merit of their works, look at him with as much indifference as a healthy man looks at the physician; while those who have no seeming merit to cover their guilt and depravity with, see them without a veil, and stoop more readily to the Saviour of the lost.
Par.-I do not blame you for affirming, that all are sinners, and stand in need of Divine Mercy: But what you say of our misery and danger in a state of nature, is enough to provoke any one.
Min. What the Scriptures say of it, is enough to provoke any one,-not to anger,—but to repentance. O that it had that happy effect upon us! They represent the unrenewed man as the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.' (Isaiah lvii. 20.) They paint him as either weaving the spider's web,' working out an useless and filthy righteousness, or hatching cockatrice eggs, till the viper break out,' contriving vanity or mischief in his heart, till it break out in his conversation. (Isa. lix. 5.) Par.-How can the natural man be always sinning, as you suppose he is?
Min. He is not always doing what is evil, but the uninterrupted depravity of his heart corrupts those actions which otherwise are good or indifferent in themselves: Therefore all that he does is sin. (1.) His natural actions are sin, whether he eats or drinks, or does any thing else,' he sins, by not doing it to the glory of God. (1 Cor. x. 31, compared with Zechariah vii. 6.)-(2dly.) His civil actions, having no higher principle or end, than self-interest or his own glory, are sinful: The ploughing of the wicked is sin :' (Prov. xxi. 4.)-(3dly.) His religious duties are sin, because he performs them not in spirit and in truth.' (John iv. 24.) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: Therefore, if he offers an oblation, it is as if he offered swine's blood; because he hath chosen his own ways;' (Prov. xv. 8; Isaiah lxvi. 3;) and if he receives the Lord's Supper, he eats and drinks his own condemnation, not discerning the Lord's body.' (1 Cor. xi. 29.) In short he is lost; for, says St. Paul, If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them:' (2 Cor. iv. 3, 4 :) Whence you see, that,
previous to our being savingly acquainted with the gospel, we are all, without exception, in a lost estate, and blinded by Satan, the god of this world. And as blind Sampson did grind for the Philistines, so we work for our spiritual enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil: We are the servants of sin, and yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin' (Rom. vi. 19, 20:) 'Making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof :''Yea, the lusts of our father the devil we do.' (Rom. xiii. 14; John viii. 44.)
Par. If the natural man sins in all that he does, he is not bound either to pray or work, for no one is bound to sin.
Min. He is bound to pray and work, though he is not bound to sin in doing either. As it is a less offence to do one's duty badly, than to omit it entirely, of two evils he is to choose the least. Or rather he ought, with the next breath, to apply to the Saviour of the lost for pardon and strength; and He that justifies the ungodly,' will forgive and help him for his own name's sake.'
Par. Notwithstanding all that you say of the natural man's misery, he often thrives in the world better than those who make much ado about their souls.
Min. This thriving proves an addition to his misery; 'his eyes may swell out with fatuess, and he may do even what he lusts; but how suddenly will he perish, and come to a fearful end,' if he become not a new creature! (Psalm lxxiii. 7, 18.) So long as he remains ' an enemy in his mind, by wicked works,' (Col. i. 21;) 'the curse of the Lord is in his house.' (Prov. iii. 33.) 'I have cursed his blessings,' says the Lord, (Mal. ii. 2,) ́ his basket and store are cursed,' (Deut. xxviii. 17,) 'his table is a snare to him,' (Rom. xi. 9,) he abuses alike the rod and staff of the Lord, adversity and prosperity: As on one hand temporal chastisements harden him, as they did Pharaoh; so on the other, 'the good things he receives in this life,' make him venture upon the next, thoughtless as the wealthy farmer, and unprepared as the rich glutton. (Luke