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u have no need of a physician, but those that are sick. I " came not to call the righteous, but finners to repen"tance.” 'Those who are not fenfible that they are finners, will treat every exhortation to repentance, and every offer of mercy, with disdain or defiance.
But where can we have a more affecting view of the corruption of our nature, than in the wrath of man, when exerting itself in oppression, cruelty and blood? It must be owned, indeed, that this truth is abundantly manifest in times of the greatest tranquility. Others may, if they please, treat the corruption of our nature as a chimiera: for my part, I see it every where, and I feel it every day. All the disorders in human fociety, and the greatest part even of the unhappiness we are exposed to, arises from the envy, malice, covetousness, and other lufts of man. If we and all about us were just what we ought to be in all respects, we Mould not need to go any further for heaven, for it would be upon earth. But war and violence prefent a spectacle flill more awful. How affecting is it to think, that the lust of domination should be so violent and universal? That men should so rarely be satisfied with their own poffeffions and acquisitions, or even with the benefit that would arise from mutual service, but should look upon the happiness and tranquility of others, as an obstruction to their own? That, as if the great law of na- ture, were not enough, “ Duft thou art, and to dust thou " shalt return,” they should be fo furiously set for the destruction of each other? It is shocking to think, since the first murder of Abel by his brother Cain, what havock has been made of man by man in every age. What is it that fills the pages of history, but the wars and contentions of princes and empires ? What vast numbers has lawless ambition brought into the field, and delivered as a prey to the deftru&ive sword?
If we dwell a little upon the circumstances, they become deeply affecting. The mother bears a child with pain, rears him by the laborious attendance of many years; yet in the prime of life, in the vigor of health, and bloom of beauty, in a moment he is cut down by the dreadful inilruments of death. “Every battle of the warrior is with
“confused noise, and garments rolled in blood;" but the horror of the scene is not confined to the field of slaughter. Few go there unrelated, or fall unlamented; in every hostile encounter, what must be the impression upon the relations of the deceased ? The bodies of the dead can only be seen, or the cries of the dying heard for a single day, but many days shall not put an end to the mourning of a parent for a beloved fon, the joy and support of his age, or of the widow and helpless offspring, for a father taken away in the fullness of health and vigor.
But if this may be justly said of all wars between man and man, what shall we be able to say that is suitable to the abhorred scene of civil war between citizen and citizen? How deeply affecting is it, that those who are the same in complexion, the fame in blood, in language, and in religi. on, should, notwithstanding, butcher one another with un. relenting rage, and glory in the deed ? That men lould say walte the fields of their fellow subjects, with whose provision they themselves had been often fed, and consume with devouring fire those houses in which they had osten found a hospitable shelter.
These things are apt to overcome a weak mind with fear, or overwhelm it with sorrow, and in the greatest number are apt to excite the highest indignation, and kindie up a spirit of revenge. If this last has no other tendency than to direct and invigorate the measures of selfdefence, I do not take upon me to blame it, on the con. trary, I call it necessary and laudable.
But what I mean at this time to prove by the preceding reflections, and will to impress on your minds, is the depravity of our nature. James iv. 1.“ From whence come " wars and fighting among you? coine they not hence even “ from your lulls that war in your members ?” Men of lax and corrupt principles, take great delight in speaking to the praise of human nature, and extolling its dignity, without dislinguishing what it was, at its first creation, from what it is in its prelent fallen state. These fine fpeculations are very grateful to a worldly mind. They are also much more pernicious to uncautious and unthinking youth, than even the temptations to a diffolute and fenfu.
al life, against which they are fortified by the dictates of natural conscience, and a sense of public shame. But I i appeal from these visionary reasonings to the history of all ages, and the inflexible testimony of daily experience. These will tell us what men have been in their practice, and from thence you may judge what they are by nature, while unrenewed. If I am not mistaken, a cool and can. did attention, either to the past history, or present state of the world, but above all, to the ravages of lawless power, ought to humble us in the dust. It should at once lead-us to acknowlege the just view given us in scripture of our lost state ; to desire the happy influence of renewing grace each for ourselves; and to long for the dominion of righteousness and peace, when "men shall beat their swords "into plow-Ihares, and their spears into pruning hooks; “ when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nei“ther Mall they learn war any more.”*
Mic iv. 3.
* I cannot help embracing this opportunity of making a remark or two upon a virulent reflection thrown out against this doctrine, in a well known pamphlet, Common Sense. The author of that work expreffes himself thus : “ If the first king of
any country was by election, that likewise establishes a pre“ cedent for the next; for to say, that the right of all future “ generations is taken away, by the act of the first electors, “ in their choice not only of a king, but of a family of kings “ forever, hath no parallel in or out of scripure, but the doc“ trine of original fin, which supposes the free will of all men " loft in Adam; and from such comparison, and it will admit “ of no other, hereditary succesion can derive no glory. For
as in Adam all finned, and as in the first elcctors all men “ obeyed; as in the one all mankind were subjected to Satan, " and in the other to fovereignty ; as our innocence was lost so in the firít, and our authority in the last ; and as both disable * us from re-aliuming some former state and privilege, it un"answerably follows that original fin and hereditary fucceffion " are parallels. Dishonorable rank! Inglorious connexion ! " Yet the most subtle fophist cannot produce a jufter fimile."* Without the ifadow of reasoning, he is pleased to represent the doctrine of original fin as an object of contempt or abhorrence. I bez leave to demur a little to the candor, the prudence, and the justice of this proceeding.
1. Was it modesi or candid for a person without name or character, to talk in this fupercilious manner of a doctrine that
* Common Sense, age !1, Bradljord's Edition.
2. The wrath of man praifeth God, as it is the instrument in his hand for bringing fịnners to repentance, and for the correction and improvement of his own children. Whatever be the nature of the afliction with which he visits either persons, families, or nations; whatever be the disposition or intention of those whose malice he employs as a fcourge; the design on his part is, to rebuke men for iniquity, to bring thein to repentance, and to promote their holiness, and peace. The falutary nature and fanctifying influence of afiličtion in general, is often taken notice of in fcripture, both as making a part of the purpose of .
has been espoused and defended by many of the greatest and best men that the world ever faw, and makes an essential part of the eftablished Creeds and Confeflions of all the Protestant churches without exception? I thought the grand modern plea had been freedom of sentiment, and charitable thoughts of one another. Are fo many of us, then, beyond the reach of this gentleman's charity? I do affure him that fuch presumption and self-confidence are no recommendation to me, either of his character or sentiments.
2. Was it prudent, when he was pleading a public cause, to fpeak in such approbious terms of a doctrine, which he knew, or ought to have known, was believed and profefied by, I suppose, a great majority of very different denominations. is this gentleman ignorant of human nature, as well as an enemy to the Christian faith ? Are men fo little tenacious of their religious sentiments, whether true or false? The prophet thought otherwise, who said, Hath a nation changed their gods achich yet are no guds? Was it the way to obtain the favor of the public, to defpife what they hold sacred? Or shall we suppofe this author fo astonishingly ignorant, as to think that all men now, whose favor is worth asking, have given up the doctrine of the New Testament? If he does, he is greatly mistaken.
3. In fine, I ask, where was the justice of this proceeding? Is there so little to be faid for the doctrine of original fin, that it is not to be refuted, but defpifed? Is the state of the world ftch, as to render this doctrine not only false, but incredible? Has the fruit been of such a quality as to exclude all doubts of the goodness of the tree ? On the contrary, I cannot lielp being of opinion, that such has been the visible state of the world in every age, ils cannot be accounted for on any other principles than what we learn from the word of God, that the imagination of the heart of man is only coil from his youth, and that cuni inually. Gen. yi. 5.--viii. 21.
God, and the experience of his faints, Heb. xii. 11. • Now, no affliction for the present seemeth to be joyous, “ but grievous : Neverthelefs, afterwards it yieldeth the
peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are ex. "ercised thereby.” But what we are particularly led to observe by the subject of this discourse is, that the wrath of man, or the violence of the oppressor that praifeth God in this respect, it has a peculiar tendency to alarm the secure conscience, to convince and humble the obstinate sinner. This is plain from the nature of the thing, and from the testimony of experience. Public calamities, particularly the destroying sword, is so awful that it cannot but have a powerful influence in leading men to consider the presence and the power of God.
ver of God. It threatens them not only in themselves, but touches them in all that is dear to them, whether relations or possessions. The prophet Isaiah says, If. xxvi. 8, 9. “ Yea, in the way of thy “ judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee, for
when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of " the world will learn righteousness. He considers it as the most powerful mean of alarming the secure and subdu. ing the obstinate. If. xxvi. 11. “ Lord when thy hand is " lifted up, they will not fee, but they shall see and be • ashamed for their envy at the people, yea the fire of " thine enemies shall devour them.” It is also sometimes represented as a symptom of a hopeless and irrecoverable itate, when public judgments have no effect. Thus says the prophet Jeremiah, Jer. V. 3. “ O Lord, are not thine
eyes upon the truth ? thou hast stricken them, but they " have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have "refused to receive correction : they have made their fa" ces harder than a rock, they have refused to return." We can easily see in the history of the children of Israel, how fevere ftrokes brought them to submission and peni. tence. Pl. lxxviii. 34, 35. " When he flew them, then
they fought him, and they returned and inquired early " after God, and they remembered that God was their
rock, and the high God their redeemer.”
Both nations in general, and private persons, are apt to grow remiss and lax in a time of prosperity and seeming VOL. III.