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vails, the creature assumes the place of the Creator, and seeks his own gratification, honor, and interest, as the ultimate end of all his actions. Hence, when the apostle describes men under a variety of wicked characters, the first link in the chain is lovers of their own selves. Hence, also, the first and grand lesson in the Christian school is, to deny ourselves.
Crisp. Almost all evangelical writers, I believe, have considered men as totally depraved and that not by education, or any accidental cause or causes, but by nature, as they are born in the world.
Gai. They have; this was manifestly the doctrine generally embraced at the Reformation; and which has been maintained, by the advocates for salvation by sovereign grace, in every age.
Crisp. Yet one should think, if men were totally depraved, they would be all, and always alike wicked.
Gai. If by total depravity you mean that men are so corrupt as to be incapable of adding sin to sin, I know of no person who maintains any such sentiment. All I mean by the term is this, That the human heart is by nature totally destitute of love to God, or man as the creature of God, and consequently of all true virtue. A being may be utterly destitute of good, and therefore totally depraved (such, it will be allowed, is Satan) and yet be capable of adding iniquity to iniquity without end.
Crisp. I should be glad if you would point out a few of the principal evidences on which the doctrine of human depravity is founded.
Gai. The principal evidences that strike me at this time may be drawn from the four following sources: Scripture testimony, history, observation, and experience.
Crisp. What do you reckon the principal Scripture testimonies on this subject?
Gai. Those passages which expressly teach it; such as the following: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good; no, not one. Both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous; no, not one. Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. The whole world lieth in wickedness. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."* Those passages also which teach the necessity of regeneration. If men were not essentially depraved, a reformation might suffice; but if all be corrupt, the whole fabric must be taken down: "Old things must pass away, and all things must become new.”
Crisp. What evidence do you draw in favor of this doctrine from history?
Gen. vi. 5. Ps. liii. 2, 3. Rom. iii. 9, 10, 16-18. viii. 7.. 1 John v. 19. Eph. ii. 3.
Gai. If our limits would allow us to survey the history of mankind, from their first apostacy to this day, the amount would go to prove what the Scriptures affirm that, “the whole world lieth in wickedness." The circumstances and changes amongst mankind have been various. They have greatly differed in their man: ners, custom, and religion; one age has established what another has demolished; in some ages they have been enveloped in ignorance, in others irradiated by science; but in all ages, and in all circumstances, they have been alienated from the love of God.
Crisp. The history of the world, though it appears to favor the doctrine in question, yet seems to be too large and complicate an object to be viewed distinctly. Suppose you were to single out one nation as a specimen of the whole.
Gai. Very well; and suppose this one nation to have been attended, above all others, with mercies and judge ments, Divine laws, Divine interpositions, and every thing that could have any tendency to meliorate the hearts of men.
Crisp. You seem to have in your eye the nation of Israel.
Gai. I have; and the rather, because I consider this nation as designed of God to afford a specimen of huinan nature. The Divine Being singled them out, crowned them with goodness, strengthened them with the tenderest encouragements, and awed them with the most tremendous threatenings, wrought his wonderful works before their eyes, and inspired his servants to give us a faithful history of their character-I need not repeat what this character is. Excepting the conduct of a few godly people amongst them, which being the effect of Divine grące,argues nothing against the doc, trine in question, it is a series of rebellion and continued departures from the living God.
Crisp. What evidence do you draw in favor of this doctrine from observation?
Gai. In looking into the composition of the human mind, we observe various passions and propensities; and if we inspect their operations, we shall see in each a marked aversion to the true God, and to all true religion. For example: Man loves to think, and cannot live without thinking; but he does not love to think of God; “God is not in all his thoughts.” Man delights in activity, is perpetually in motion; but hath no heart to act for God. Men take pleasure in conversation, and are never more cheerful than when engaged in it; but if God and religion are introduced, they are usually struck dumb, and discover a wish to drop the subject. Men greatly delight in hearing, and telling news; but if the glorious news of the gospel be sounded in their ears, it frequently proves as unwelcome as Paul's preaching at Athens. In fine, man feels the necessity of a God; but has no relish for the true God. There is a remarkable instance of this in the conduct of those nations planted by the king of Assyria in the cities of Samaria. They were consumed by wild beasts; and'considered it as an expression of displeasure from the God of the land. They wished to become acquainted with him, that they might please him. An Israelitish priest is sent to teach them the manner of the God of the land. But when he taught them the fear of Jehovah, his character and worship do not seem to have suited their taste; for each
VaL. III. *7
nation preferred the worship of its own gods, 2 Kings xvii.
Crisp. What evidence do you draw in favor of this doctrine from experience?
Gai. The best of men, whose lives are recorded in Holy Scripture, have always confessed and lamented the depravity of their nature; and I never knew a character truly penitent but he was convinced of it. It is a
strong presumption against the contrary doctrine, that | the light minded and dissipated part of mankind are gen
erally its advocates; while the humble, the serious, and the godly, as generally acknowledge, with the apostle, that, “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, they were by nature children of wrath, even others."
Crisp. I have several more inquiries to make on this interesting subject, which I must defer till another opportunity.
DIALOGUE NINTH BETWEEN CRISPUS AND GAIUS.
ON THE TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF HUMAN NATURE.
I THINK you said, Crispus, at the close our last conver. sation, on the depravity of human nature, that you had several questions to ask upon the subject.
Crisp. I did so: I never thought of a subject more interesting, and more pregnant with important consequences. The doctrine of total depravity, according to your own explication of it, seems to imply that all that is called virtue in unregenerate men is not virtue in re