« AnteriorContinuar »
SIN A GROSSNESS OF HEART.
Matt. xiii. part of v. 15.
NEVER was truth more undeniable or consistent with itself than that great pervading principle of scripture-that man has very far departed from original righteousness, and is by his own nature prone to evil. Even if we should hesitate to admit, on their own authority, the accuracy of a statement which is interwoven with the very texture of all the divine revelations we possess, still there would remain evidences from common experience itself to the same effect which it were almost impossible to resist ; evidences which meet our eye in all that multitude of self-inflicted evils--the consequences of sin
which encompass humanity, in the turbulence of man's guilty passions and uncontrolled desires, and in those many and complicated disorders which distract society, and which have too often turned into a scene of misery and strife that which God had originally designed to be a paradise of peace and joy. Yet, in the very proofs which tell us how greatly fallen we are, there are some intimations still to shew how much more perfect we have been. The temple of the soul of man, once so symmetrical and glorious a structure, is indeed in ruins ; but on the decayed and disjointed fragments, overgrown as they are and obscured with weeds, we yet may read the traces of a once consummate architecture, and the melancholy memorials of a former greatness. Perverted as are the faculties of man's moral and intellectual nature, we are still not wholly without indications of the purposes for which they were made, and to which they were originally applied. Though enlisted in the cause of an usurper, we can perceive an unfitness,
an incoherence,-a want of harmony and adaptation, as far as regards them, in the details of his government, which declare that he is not their lawful sovereign, por this their appointed path of cluty. The will is corrupted, the intellect is undermined, the whole spirit is materialized and debased; but, in the midst of this general derangement, there is a feeling and consciousness of order,—a feeble transcript of some completer system, engraved upon the soul, which retrospectively points to some period of past perfection, or anticipates a better destiny hereafter. The scriptures too expressly speak of man, with all his helpless insufficiency for good, as no mere passive instrument in the hands of infinite power, or inert recipient of impressions from without; but as one who retains still, on the subject of religion as well as in the engagements of this life, some spontaneous energies, some moral capacities, at least, of his own, to which the language of persuasion may successfully appeal; or, to use the scripture metaphor, as one who “has eyes, though he sees not; and ears, though he hears not; and a heart, though he will not understand.” And further, they always address themselves to us as beings who do not require to go back to the first rudiments of morality, and “the beggarly elements of the law,” ere we can receive benefit from the fountain of grace, but as retaining, amidst our present infirmities, some perceptions of what we were designed to be, and some traces, miserably disfigured though they have become, of that image of God which was at first imprinted on the soul.
Thus, from the multiplied sources of intelligence, such as they are, which are open to the enquiry of all, we could glean some notices, independently of His revealed word, of what was the will and design of God as manifested in his creation, and of the things in which the perfection of humanity would properly consist. And, from considerations like these, and a view of her own internal constitution, nature herself (as St. Paul intimates in the second chapter of Romans, and a great Christian philosopher * has explained in a digested system) could erect a preliminary standard of right to which revelation itself does not disdain to appeal as a witness of its aptitude and truth, and the principles of which the gospel has confirmed and carried out into a variety of sublime and stupendous consequences to which the utmost stretch of unaided intellect could have never reached.
Now the scriptures inform us that the infidelity and sinfulness of man not only involve a violation of the more express revelations of the will of God, but amount even to an infraction of this law and standard of our own nature itself. There is in them such an excess of moral turpitude, such an extreme of mental infatuation, that they are not only a breathing defiance to the
* Bishop Butler.