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great measure, ou a pretended degeneracy of beasts, which I am not bound to admit upon your bare assertion.
Min.—You may safely adunit it upon the following proofs :
1. Reason tells us, that the bad properties of beasts never came from a good God: And as beasts were not created with them, it necessarily follows that they have degenerated.
2. Moses confirms this, when he says, that~ God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was VERY GOOD :' But the cruelty of tigers, and the poison of serpents, are not good at all: Therefore tigers were not cruel, nor asps venomous, when they came out of their Creator's hands.
3. We read, that God gave Adam dominion over every living thing that njoveth upon the earth; and brought every beast of the field to him, to see what he would call them.' (Gen. i. 26; ii. 19.) But had they been wild, untractable, and ravenous, as they are now, far from governing them, or staying to give them names, he would have wished for the swiftness of the hind to run out of Paradise, before they had torn him in pieces.
4. Isaiah, describing the paradisiacal state of the earth, after the restitution of all things, informs u3, that the wolf shall (again) dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid, and the calf with the lion, which shall eat straw (or grass] like the ox. He adds, that the suckiug child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child put his hand on the cockatrice’den;' and that 'they shall not hurt vor destroy in all God's holy mountain.' (Isa. xi. 6, &c.) In this picture of the restitution, we clearly see what the animal creation once was, by what it will be when it is restored to its original state ; and we may well con. clude from this, that if beasts themselves must uudergo a change, it is not contrary to reason to affirm, that man must also be born again, that is, be totally changed,
5. St. Paul confirms Isaiah's prophecy of the resti tution of the animal world, when he assures us, that the creature degenerated, or, as he expresses it, was 'made subject to vanity,' but not without hope of recovery; for, adds he, “it shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God.' (Rom. viij. 21, compared with Pr. civ. 30, and Acts iii. 21.)
Par.—You have so cleared your first argument from my objections, that I desire to hear a few more of your rational proofs of our depravity and misery.
Min.-SECOND ARGUMENT.–Our vicious inclinations, which too often lead us out of the path of duty, in spite of all the remonstrances of conscience; and our sensual appetites, which impel us forward in the ways of sin, notwithstanding the clearest dictates of reason, prove that human nature hath suffered as great a revolution, as these realms did, when a king was seev bleeding on the scaffold, and an usurper placed in the seat of majesty.
THIRD ARGUMENT.—The universal corruption of the morals of mankind, and the innumerable crimes committed in all parts and ages of the world, notwithstanding the restraint of human and divine laws, are such bitter fruits, as could never universally grow without a bitter root: And unprejudiced reason tells us, that this root can be no other, than our natural depravity.
Par.-I apprehend you give way to prejudice yourself: We can easily account for the corruption of mankind, from a particular constitution, bad education, or ill example: There is no need of supposing it natural.
Min.- graut that a peculiar habit of body, and a bad education, or ill example, will, like rich soil and rank manure, cause the weeds of natural corruption to shoot the higher : But, that we bring the seeds of it into the world with us, is evident, from the wilfulness, selfishness, greediness, anger, revenge, or obstinacy, which little children betray, before they can take notice of ill examples, understand bad counsels, or be at all wrought upon by youthful temptations : And these vices break out even in the presence of the most pious parents, who too often complain that the evil propensities of their children baffle the force of the earliest precepts and best examples.
Par.-You are very apt to make the worst of a bad matter. Immorality is not so general as you suppose. Thousands, I hope, live free from bad inclinations and bad practices.
Min.- None live so exemplarily as God's children; and none are so ready to acknowledge, with the pro. phet, 'the deceitfulness of our desperately wicked heart." (Jer. xvii. 9.) As they see by the light of divine grace, * the abominations that every man hath 'portrayed in the dark chambers of his imagery,' (Ezek. viii. 10, 12,) they can say with David, that their heart sheweth them the wickedness of the ungodly :' (Ps. xxxvi. 1 :) And, discovering their natural depravity more clearly, they lament it also more deeply than the rest of mankind. See Jer. ix. 1.
2. The more you are acquainted with yourself, with the history of the dead, and the transactions of the living ; the more you will be persuaded that the distemper is universal, affecting all ranks of people, in every age and country, and working, more or less, through all sorts of constitutions.
3. Some, it is true, boast of their harmlessness, and the goodness of their hearts : They suppose they have no vice, because they live outwardly in none; they fancy that the tree of sin is dead, because it is stript of its leaves, and the fruit does not appear; they ima. gine that the fountain of corruption is dried up, because the main stream runs under ground, or in a new chapnel : Bnt experience and time will convince them, that their innocence is only like the sceming harmlessness of Paul's viper ; as soon as the fire of temptation comes
near enough to stir it, it will unexpectedly bite, if grace do not interpose, even to eternal death.
This melancholy truth is confirmed by striking examples. The Apostles, after they had left all to follow Jesus,' needed to take heed of such beastly sius as surfeiting and drunkenness.(Luke xxi. 34.) Peter, the oldest of them, after the strongest protestations of fidelity, lied, cursed, swore, and denied his Lord. And good-natured Hazael was at last guilty of that barbarity, the bare mention of which made him say, “Am I a dog that I should do this thing?' (2 Kings viii. 12.) So true is Solomon's saying, 'that he that trusteth his own heart, is a fool!' (Prov. xxviii. 26.) So just is that observation of David, “The children of men are deceitful upon the weights, they are altogether lighter than vanity itself” (Psalm lxii. 9.).
Par.-If all the children of Adam are naturally depraved, their depravity must be equal, for the same cause will produce the same effect : But as this is not the case, our depravity cannot be natural.
Min.-They are altogether become abominable,' says David, Ps. xiv. 4. But they do not all remain so. The renewing grace of God makes a real difference in those who receive it: For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.' (2 Cor. v. 17.) With regard to the harmlessness, for which some of the unregenerate are remarkable, it is not owing, I am afraid, to a better pature, but to a happier constitution, a cooler blood, a stricter education, or a greater measure of restraining grace ;—perhaps also to the want of natural boldness, and of a fair opportunity, or suitable temptation to sin. As for the seeming virtues of the unconverted, a little attention will shew you that they spring from real vices. The fear of contempt, the desire of praise and popularity, or, it may be, secret envy, excite the voluptuous to generous actious: The thirst of money, or of a title, stirs up the indolent to industry and diligence : Cowardice, or the love of pleasure, keeps the ambitious loyal and quiet; and while ostentation makes the miser or spendthrift charitable, self-righteousness renders the Pharisee religious. But the richest spring of the natural man's morality, if he is moral at all, is a sense of decency, a particular regard for his character, a desire to make a figure by his goodness among his fellow-creatures ; or at most, the impious conceit of making amends for his sins, purchasing heaven by his works, and so becoming his own Saviour. By these antichristian motives, his depravity is contined to his heart, as a wild beast is coufined to his den by the light of the sun : But, as the couching lion is a lion still, though he appears quiet as a lamb, so the natural man remains abominable, though he seems as moral as a Christian. Our Lord confirms this by comparing him to a 'whited sepulchre, which indeed appears beautiful outwardly, but within is full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." (Matt. xxiii. 27.)
Par.-If we are all depraved, and have brought this depravity with us ivto the world, it is as natural to us as a black complexion to the Ethiopians ; nor can we be blamed for not being virtuous, with any more jus. tice than a negro for uot being white.
Min.—Your objection hath more subtilty than strength. Though we cannot help our being boru corrupted, we can ofteu choose whether we will let our natural corruption break out into external sins, or not; and we may use or neglect those means which God hath appointed, under Christ, to remedy it.
2. A moral depravity which we have increased our selves by the wilful commission of sins which were avoidable, leaves us as accountable for it, as an Ethiopian would be for his blackness, if he contrived to bathe in ink daily.
3. Suppose a negro were credibly informed, that his natural complexion would cost him his life, and that no. thing in the world could change it, but a liquid made with his prince's blood; and suppose, that being presented with the precious wash, he were obstinately to reject it, and roll hinëself in a heap of soot, would he not be justly punished for remaining black, suppose he were excusable for being born 30 ? This is exactly the