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much more like the language of one who had song reflected upon, been seriously affected with, and formed mature conclusions from the sad subject than of one who was but just now struck with a conviction of his sins, and a sense of his miserable state.
Secondly, observe also the clear and consident declaration which he makes concerning Jesus. This man bath done nothing amiss. Can we suppose this declaration made by a man who had not known any thing of the person to whom he bears this testimony before this unhapp,' occasion? Doth it not seeirr rather the attestation of one who had had considerable knowledge of the rectitude of his character and the unblameableness of hrs conduct?
There are, I readily acknowledge, many difficulties attending the history of the penitent thief, which I have no occasion to consider in this place, it being sufficient for my present purpose to shewthat the doctrine of the probability of repentance at the article of death proving acceptable will no longer have countenance from it.
John. vi. 44. 65. No man can come to me except it were given him of my Father. Every man therefore that hath heard, and learned of the Father cometh untd
me.' No man can cotne to me, except the father who
hath sent me drow him. Now how is it that God is elsewhere said to draw men, but by the force ef motives and instructions, which suppose that
alien have a power of attending to them and improving by them. It is also to be observed that, in the whole of the discourse, in which the words quoted above are introduced, Jesus is blaming the jews for their insidelity; and it would be very extraordinary, indeed, if for this purpose he should make use ofan argument, which would intirely exculpate them, intimating that it was not in their power to daotherwise.
Our Lord sufficiently gives us to understand in what sense he uses the word drawing in the passage quoted above. He explains himself v. 45. It is -written in the prophets, (Isaiah liv. 13.) And they Jhail be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and learned of the father cometh unto me. This was the way in which God the Father drew some of the jews to Christ at that time; viz. such of them as, influenced by reverence, love and duty to him, heard attentively, and learned the truths which he had already taught them by Moses and the prophets; but they who were of a different spirit and conduct, with respect to the divine truths already revealed, could not come to Christ, who constantly reserred them to the testimonies of Moses and the prophets' ^n proof of his divine mission. To them it was not given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Matt. xiii. 11. Agreeably hereto he says on another occasion, If any man will do his will, he Jhall know of-the dofirine, whither it be of God, or '. whether whether I speak of myself John vii. 17. And he thus remonstrates against the unbelieving jews, chap. v. 39. &c. Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.—But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you—How can ye believe, wh* receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only. This appears plainly to be the language of one who considered the cause of the unbelief of these jews as arising, not from natural inability, or the with-holding of the grace of God, but from contracted evil principles and habits, to which they determinedly adhered; as he speaks v. 40. Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life,
II. Of Original Sin.
That mankind are considerabky^w* in consequence of the fall of Adam, is not denied; but all the evils which Moses specifies as affecting his posterity on that account, are of a corporeal and temporal nature, viz. labour, sorrow, and death. It is possible, indeed, that the body being more subject to disease, the mind may be more seeble, and therefore more prone to comply with some temptations; but then it should also be considered, that a sickly constitution is favourable to many virtues, and we see that a slate of confirmed health is often highly dangerous in a moral respect; so that
upon the whole it is probable that our condition is more savourable to virtue than that of Adam. That the sacred writers did not consider it as, upon the whole, worse than his, is evident from their never giving the least hint, that any allowance will be made to men for that natural disadvantage. Nay many of the sinful posterity of Adam are blamed more severely than he was for his sin: and if we consider his situation and the circumstances of his sall, we cannot suppose that he had greater strength of mind to resist temptation that we are now possessed of. Since, however, some particular texts are alledged, to prove that the nature of man is totally depraved by the sall, insomuch that all mankind, without exception, are now altogether incapable of any good thought, word, or action; and, moreover, that we are all subject to the everlasting wrath of God on account of the sin of Adam, I shall give a brief explication of the principal of those texts.
Gen. vi. 5. 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. If we understand this passage literally, it will be contradicted by the character which is immediately asterwards given of Noah, of whom it is said*, ver. 9, that he was a just man, and perfect in his generation, and that he walked with God. But it is plain that this wickedness of mankind was not owing to any natural depravity, which their derivation from Adam rendered necessary, but that it was a voluntary corruption, and had its rise from themselves only; fcr it is said, ver. 12. that God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. Besides, this state of the world is alledged as a justification of the divine proceedings against them, whereas, if they had been corrupt by the necejjity of nature, it must have operated as a plea in their favour, with that being who considers our frame, and remembers that we are but dust. If he makes suitable allowance for the infirmities of our bodies, much more would he consider the natural and necessary disorders of our minds.
Job xiv. 4. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. This is a proverbial expression, signifying that nothing can be more persect than its original; but Job is not speaking in this place of the guilt and pollution of man, but of his sorrows and mortality.
. Psalm li. 5. liehold, I wasjbapen in iniquity, and in fin did my mother conceive me. This also has very much the air of a proverbial expression, signifying great depravity of heart, and' very early habits of vice. That it was not intended to express a natural and invincible propensity to vice, is plain, because that would be inconsistent with the tenor of. the whole psalm, in which the humble author seems