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thou hast kept the good wine until now. THE BLINDING INFLUENCE OF MORAL O friends could you believe this? I shall be blessed forever, I shall quick- The proper seat of moral depravily be in eternal glory. I have hereto- ty has been much disputed by differfore thought it an hard thing to die, ent denominations of Christians, who but now I find it is not so. Oh, bles- acknowledge the general depravity of sed be God for Jesus Christ.” One mankind. Some suppose that all de. standing by, observed to him,“ Sir, pravity is seated in the understanding. the Lord hath enlarged your faith.”. Some suppose it equally belongs to all He replied, “Friend, this is sense ; the the powers and faculties of the soul.Lord hath even satisfied my sense ; 1 And some suppose it is seated wholly am sensibly satisfied of everlasting glo- in the heart. This last opinion appears ry.” He pronounced his affectionate to be maintained by the apostle, when blessing upon New-England; adding, he says, “Having their understanding “ The Lord hath planted that land with darkened because of the blindness of a noble vine; and blessed hast thou the heart.” He places all moral darkbeen, O land, in thy rulers.” In March ness, ignorance, blindness and deprav1657, in the city of London, he expir-ity in the heart. And the truth of this ed, in the fifty-eighth year of his age. will appear from various considera
In the disposition of his property, he tions. manifested the same charitable spirit It appears from the nature of mor. which had distinguished his life. His al depravity. This is altogether difwhole estate in New-England, he gave ferent from natural depravity, which to charitable and public uses. After consists in wounds, bruises, or putreseveral individual legacies, one thou- fying sores, and affects only the body. sand pounds were given for the support There is no criminalty in the infirmiof Grammar Schools in Hartford and ties, or defects of the corporal system. New-Haven. Those funds are still If we lose the use of an eye, or an ear, preserved. From his estate in Eng- or even of any of our intellectual powland, he ordered five hundred pounds ers, there is no criminality in this natuto be paid to trustees whom he nained ral depravity. But the least degree of in the colonies “for the upholding and moral depravity is criminal, and renpromoting the kingdom of the Lord ders us obnoxious to the divine displeaJesus Christ, in those parts of the earth. sure. Every affection, volition, or exThis fund is held by Harvard Col-ercise of the heart has a moral quality lege.
and is of a criminal nature. Hence it
is evident that moral depràvity cannot We seldom find nobler thoughts or more
be seated in the understanding, which energetic expressions in an Epitaph, than in
is a faculty of perceiving, arranging the one inscribed to Gov. Hopkins.
anal comparing our ideas, and of dis
cerning their agreement, or disagreeEPIT.IPH.
ient with each other. This faculty
is the proper seat of what we call specPart of EDWARD HOPKINS, Esq.
ulative knowledge ; in which there is
not the least degree of criminalty.-. But Heaven, not brooking that the Earth Nor can moral depravity lie in the conshould share
science, which is another distinct facIn the least atom of a piece so rare,
ulty of the soul, by which we discern Intends to sue out, by a new revise,
the nature of moral objects, and deterHis Habeas Corpus at the Grand Assize.
inine what is good and evil, right and Con. E. Mag
wrong in a moral view. The exercise of this faculty, as distinguished from the heart, is neither virtuous nor vicious, but only a judgement of what
heart. This may be totally depraved ||ments which he has inflicted upon hinh while the understanding and con-| in the course of more than six thou. science, and every other intellectual sand years. No illumination of the unfaculty remain in their full strength, | derstanding, no conviction of the conand without the least moral corrup-science of a sinner, will have the least tion.
tendency to remove his moral deprav. Again-It appears from the ex-lity. This Solomon long ago observpress declarations of scripture, that the ed; “Though thou shouldest bray a heart is the seat of moral depravity.- fool in a mortar among wheat with a In describing the wickedness of the pestle, yet will not his foolishness deungodly world, God says, “Every im-part from him.” If depravity lay in agination of the thoughts of their heart the understanding, or the conscience, is only evil continually.” Solomon or any intellectual faculty, it seems declares that “the hearts of the sons that the exhibition of proper light and of men is full of evil.” The prophetsuitable motives wolud remove it. Jeremiah
- The heart is deceit-|And since these have always failed of ful above all things, and desperately producing this effect, we are constrainwicked.” Our Savior represents the ed to conclude, that depravity lies in heart, as the source of all moral evil. | the heart, and that nothing but a change “O generation of vipers, how can ye, of heart will take it away. And this being evil, speak good things ?! for leads me to observe, once morem out of the abundance of the heart That a change of heart will entirely the mouth speaketh. A good man remove moral depravity. Let the out of the good treasure of the heart heart of any man only be purified by bringeth forth good things : and an the influence of the divine Spirit, and evil man out of the evil treasure bring-his moral depravity will be effectually eth forth evil things." All the inspir- removed. Accordingly, when God ed writers agree in representing the promises to purify his people Israel, heart as the seat of moral depravity.- and cleanse them from their moral It is a scriptural proverb, “ As a man pollution and depravity, he says he thinketh in his heart so is he.” His will do it, by sanctifying their hearts. heart determines his moral character, " A new heart will I give you, and a and denominates him either a saint, or new spirit will I put within you ; and a sinner. God no where in his word I will take away the stony heart out condemns men for any thing but their of your flesh, and I will give you an hearts, and the actions which flow from heart of flesh.” And the apostle repthem. This is a clear proof, that mor- | resents God as enlightening the underal depravity lies wholly in the heart. standing, by shining into the hearts of
Again-No application to the hu- believers. “For he, who commandman mind can remove moral depravi-ed the light to shine from darkness, ty, without a change of heart. God hath shined in our hearts, to give the tried the Israelites in the wilderness light of the knowledge of the glory of with mercies and judgments; but no God in the face of Jesus Christ."addresses to their understandings and Now, if God removes the blindness consciences, to their hopes and fears, of the mind, and takes away moral eould remove their evil heart of un-depravity, by shedding abroad his love belief. The preaching, the miracles, in the heart, then, it is very evident, the sufferings, the death and resurrec-that depravity is wholly seated in the tion of Christ were likewise insufficient heart. For, if depravity did not lie in to cure the perverse Jews of their mor- the heart, the changing of the heart al depravity and hardnes of heart.-would have no tendency to remove it. And the depravity of satan bas with-|These observations seem sufficient to stood all the light, which God has pla-establish the point that moral depraviced before him, and all the punish- ty lies wholly in the heart. Yet this
depravity has a darkening, or blinding keeps his eyes shut, he can receive no influence upon all the intellectual fac- light from the sun, norinformation from ulties of the mind. This the apostle surrounding objects. So the apostle asserts when he says, The understand. John tells us, the light of divine truth äng is darkened, because of the blind- will have do influence upon those, ness of the heart. And this appears to whose understandings are darkened be the general representation of scrip-by the blindness of the heart. The ture. Our Saviour plainly conveyed light shined in darkness, and the darkthis idea when he said, " The light of|| ness comprehended it not.” It was the body is the eye: if therefore thine the depravity of heart, that prevented eye be single, thy whole body shall be the Jews from hearkening to Christ, full of light. But if thine eye be evil, and receiving divine light and instructhy whole body shall be full of dark-tion from him. Depravity of heart nes. The apostle Paul says, “ The has restrained thousands and thounatural man receiveth not the things of sands from attending to divine objects, the Spirit of God: for they are foolish- and hearkening to divine instruction, ness unto him: neither can he know which has kept them in a state of dethem, because they are spiritually dis- |plorable ignorance and darkness, in recerned. And again he says, “Unto the gard to those things, which most nearpure, all things are pure; but unto them|ly concern them, both in time and eterthat are defiled and unbelieving isnity. But, nothing pure; but even the mind and Again, If those, whose hearts are toconscience is defled.” All moral de tally depraved, do attend to divine ob. pravity consists in selfishness, which jects, yet their depravity makes them must blind every mind that is under totally blind to the beauty of holiness. the influence of it in respect to every They cannot discern the moral excelthing that is of a moral and religious | lence of God, or of Christ, or of any nature. A totally selfish heart will af- holy object in heaven, or in earth.fect all the intellectual faculties of the Selfishness is total enmity to holiness, soul and either prevent or pervert their and alienates the heart from all holy proper exercise.
beings, and objects. Though Satan The depravity of the beart directly has not lost any of his intellectual face tends to prevent sinners from attend- ulties, yet he has become totally blind ing to moral and religious subjects.- to that moral beauty, which he once Those who do evil, hate light, and will saw in God and the inbabitants of heanot come to the light, lest their deeds ven. Just so it is with those whose should be reproved. Selfishness per- minds are under the blindning influfectly hates holiness, and will, if possi-ence of moral depravity. They canble, divert the attention from all holy not discern the beauty of holiness in objects. It is owing to the depravity of God, or his creatures, who bear his the heart, that sinners like not to retain moral image. Could they see all the God in their knowledge, and say unto glory of God, all the glory of heaven, him depart from us, we desire not the and all the moral excellence of all hoknowledge of thy ways. The apos-ly beings completely displayed, they tle tells us that the blindness of the could discern nothing lovely in their heart darkens the understanding, by view; but amidst so much light would alienating the affections from God.- feel themselves involved in total morThe great ignorance of natural men al darkness. This is the representain respect to divine things is greatly tion of scripture from beginning to owing to the depravity of their hearts, end. Sinners are represented as blind, which prevents their employing their as deaf, as ignorant, and even as dead; intellectual faculties upon God, and which are figurative expressions to his ways and word. So long as a man signify, not their want of natural pow.
VOL. 2 T
end. Sinners are represented as blind,|| time coincides with the dictates of as deaf, as ignorant, and even as dead; their reason, or natural faculties. which are figurative expressions to It is also objected, that the scripture signify, not their want of natural pow-represents depravity as consisting in ers of perception and understanding, ignorance, which supposes that it lies but their total blindness, to the beauty wholly in the understanding.--But of holiness and the supreme excellence when the scripture represents depraviof divine objects. But though what|ty, as consisting in ignorance, it always has been said may convince us of the means that ignorance which arises from truth of the general observation, that the blinduesss of the heart. This is the the moral depravity of sinners blindsignorance of which the apostle speaks, all their intellectual faculties; yet it when he says,'Having the understandmay be proper and necessary to take ing darkened, being alienated from the notice of some objections against this life of God, thro' the ignorance that is doctrine.
in them, because of the blindness of the It may be objected, that there is not heart.” Besides, the scripture represuch a great distinction between the sents light and knowledge in the unheart and the understanding, as lias| derstanding, not as removing moral debeen represented, for the scriptures pravity from sinners, but as increasing sometimes use them synonimously.-it. “To him that knoweth to do good To this it may be answered, that tho' and doeth it not to him it is sin.”the scripture may sometimes use thel“ He that knoweth his master's wilt word heartin a loose and general sense, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with so as to comprehend the understanding many stripes." And again_“This is or oiper natural faculties of the soul; the condemnation, that light is come yet the inspired writers do often make into the world, but men loved darka distinction between the heart and all|ness rather than light." These passaother powers of the mind. They dis- ges demonstrate that ignorance in the tinguish the desires, affections and vo-|| understanding, is not inoral depravity, litions of the heart, from all the ex-but ignorance of the heart is, which ercises of reason, conscience and ev. blinds the understanding, and opposes ery other natural faculty. And this its dictates ;-To this it may be added distinction is founded in nature and dis- | -That to suppose moral depravity covered by experience. All men of consists in the wantofintellectual light, ten find the desires and affections of is contrary to common sense and the their hearts, in direct opposition to the nature of moral depravity. For ignodictates of reason and conscience, rance in the understanding, or want of which affords intuitive knowledge that information always excuses men.-the heart is totally distinct from all the When they act up to the knowlede natural faculties of the soul.
they have, they act perfectly right and It is sometimes objected that the un stand justified before God and in their derstanding is the leading faculty of own consciences. It is impossible, the mind, and consequently the heari that there should be the least moral cannot blind and control the understan- evil in the conduct, or feelings of men, ding, But the understanding is not while their hearts are free from moral the leading faculty of the soul, if by depravity and perfectly benevolent. leading faculty is meant, that which|| The supposition, therefore, that depravexcites men to action. For men ality lies in the understanding is totally ways act according to the inclination inconsistent with any such thing as of their hearts, but not always agreea-moral evil in the universe. All morbly to the dictates of their reason.- al agents must be conscious of beAnd when they do act agreeablying free from sin, while they perto the dictates of their reason and confectly act up to the dictates of reason scionce, it is because the heart at thail and conscience. But whenever their hearts oppose those dictates, then, and depravity, so evidently, that nothing then only, do they find themselves need be said to prove it. It is further chargeable with blame. Thus it ap-said, that sinners are as tender and pears, that all moral depravity lies in compassionate to objects of distress as the heart, and can exist, and be found saints. On this account it is confidentin no other corner of the mind. ly affirmed that they are not totally de
As the subject to which we have praved. But the tenderness, compasbeen attending in the present essay, ission and sympathy, which sinners feel intimately connected with the leading towards objects of distress are consistdoctrines of divine reyelation, it may ent with total selfishness. They do ofbe proper to suggest a number of re- ten exist and appear in the worst of flections.
But there is an essential differ1. Since moral depravity is wholly | ence between the natural tenderness in the heart, there is no absurdity in and compassion of sinners and that hothe doctrine of total depravity. Ma-1 ly love which is the essence of moral ny deny that sinners are totally depra- virtue. Correct views of the moral deved; because, they say, total depravi-pravity of sinners will show that there ty is a plain absurdity, and contradictis no absurdity in the term, nor in the ed by universal observation and expe-doctrine of total depravily. Their torience. They say, sinners are capa- tal depravity, is a plain matter of fact. ble of knowing as much about the 2. Since moral depravity lies wholworld, the arts and sciences, and evenly in the heart, sinners are so far from about the bible, as saints ; and there | acting according to the greatest appafore they cannot be totally depraved. rent good, that they never do act acIt is true that sinners have the same cording to it. They do not in a state natural faculties as saints; and are as of stupidity. For stupid sinners know capable of correct speculative knowl-that there are greater and better obedg as saints. But the highest degreesjects than they pursue and love. When of such knowledge are cousistent with sinners are awakened and seriously total depravity. The depravily of sin-concerned about their eternal interests, ners always increases with their they do not love and choose what they knowledge. It is said, that sinners are convinced are the most worthy have as clear discernment of right and and important objects. Their underwrong as saints. It must be admitted standing and conscience always dictate that ihis agrees with the instructions and enjoin obedience to God. But of scripture and the dictates of experi- though they know the importance ence. But-suck discernment is consis- and excellence of obeying him, thro' tent with total lepravity: If they were the depravity of their hearts they renot naturally capable of discerning befuse to do it. tween moral good and evil, they 3. Since it is through their moral decould not be guilty of that depravity, pravity that sinners are in darkness which is charged upon them in the ho- respecting divine objects, their spirituly scriptures. If sinners could not dis- al ignorance is altogether criminal and cern between moral good and evil, inexcusable. They often excuse themthey never could be convicted of any selves, and think they are not to be wickedness and ill desert. Total de- blamed, because they are ignorant of pravity could not exist in moral agents divine subjects. But since they are without that moral discernment of ignorant“ because of the blindness of which sinners are capable. But with the heart," their ignorance is their this discernment sinners are totally de-crime. praved. It is also said that sinners 4. If the moral depravity of sinners can perform all the duties of religion blinds their natural faculties, then we externally, as well as saints. This is may see in what that light and know! true. But this is consistent with total edge, which God gives to his pec