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Thy feverest adversities “ work together for "good.” The ways of thy God may now seem covered with darkness. But in a little thou shalt see, that they have been all “ prepared as the “morning.” Wait, therefore, on the Lord thy God. Commit thy way to him, and he will bring it to pass.
Many sorrows shall be to the wick“ed: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy " shall compass him about.”'
The Natural Depravity of Man.—Example insufficient to account for the Symptoms or Universality of Human Corruption.---This proved to be Natural, from its Early Appearance ;-from the History of Seth ;--- from the Names given to the Antediluvian Patriarchs ;-from the Death of Children ;--from the circumstances which allude to the Manner in which Sin is transmittel.
We have already taken a cursory view of human depravity ; of its rapid progress and almost universal dorninion, of its influence on the heart, and of its fatal effects. Let us now trace this to its origin; and it will appear that man is indeed “ a tranfgressor from the womb.” From the nature of this work, it would be improper to introduce those proofs that are merely of a doctrinal kind : and I shall not even call the attention of the reader to all the historical evidence which the Scripture affords. The doctrine of our original corruption might be proved, from the nature of that federal transaction into which God entered with man in a state of innocence; from the covenant being made with Adam before the formation of Eve, although it included her as well as her husband, and on the same principle, the posterity of both; from the curse pronounced on the ground, for the sake of man, which undoubtedly affects the descendants of Adam, no less than it did himself; from the circumstance of his calling his wife Eve, that is, “ the mother of all living," not immediately after God had blessed them, saying, “ Be fruitful and multiply," nor while they continued in a state of integrity, but after the fall. This, as it clearly shews his persuasion that all those of her posterity who should in a spiritual sense deserve the name of living, should be made alive by virtue of that Seed, who, according to the promise, was to spring from her ; at the same time testifies his conviction that they should all by nature be under the sentence of spiritual and eternal death. Without entering into a particular consideration of these, and of several other proofs of the same kind, I shall confine myself to a few of a different description.
1. It is plain from Scripture-history, that the corruption of man proceeds not merely, or chiefly, from example. Imitation is indeed a power
ful principle in our nature ; but it cannot produce all the effects which have been ascribed to it. If there be no corrupt bias in the heart of man, the principle of imitation must, where circumstances are equal, have equal effects, although of an opposite kind. It must operate as powerfully in following a good, as an evil, example. But how far this is from being the case, let the experience of mankind declare.
The crime of Cain was not only heinous in itself, but highly aggravated. It was not merely murder, one of the most horrid crimes that can be perpetrated by man, but fratricide; and fratricide committed under the form of persecution for righteousness' sake. Abel had given no provocation to his brother. He had trampled on no law human or divine. He had not directed a single word of reproach against Cain. But “ he flew “ him, because his own works were evil, and his “ brother's righteous '.”
He committed this crime in the very face of God, after being favoured with an immediate revelation, warning him of his duty, and encouraging him by a promise of acceptance, as well as of dominion over his brother w.
The wickedness of Cain could not proceed from imitation : for he was the firft murderer. It could not be the effect of a gradual progress in guilt, in consequence of a long course of personal iniquity, or the influence of example in a long Juccession of ages. Although the first man born
John iii. za.
w Gen. iv. .
of woman, he was as wicked as any who have fince existed. He went as far as he possibly could, according to the nature of his fin; and we can scarcely form the idea of one more horrid. His guilt was further aggravated by subsequent arrogance, obduracy, and impiety.
New modes of finning may be devised, in confequence of the exercise of man's fertile invention in the service of Satan. But these are only va. ried operations of the fame corrupt principle. Or fin may become more general, from the influence of example and persuasion. The ways of man may become more flagitious; but the principle in the heart is continually evil *. It
may be said perhaps, that the example of Abel, although in the same family, affords a proof that the corruption of Cain was not hereditary. But let it be observed, that we find nothing in the history of Cain, which distinguishes him as naturally a worse man than his brother. It was only “in process of time,” when he presented an offering to the Lord, that the wickedness of his heart appeared. We are informed indeed that Abel was righteous, while the character of Cain was quite the reverse. But did the righteousness of Abel originate from a better nature, or from the exercise of his own powers ? No;
No; “ by faith he “ offered unto God a more excellent facrifice than « Cain, by which he obtained witness that he “ was righteous y.” Now, as “ faith is not of ourselves, but is the gift of God;" this clearly
. Gen. vi. 3. 12. comp.
y Heb. xi. 4.
ihews that righteousness was not more natural to Abel than to his brother, but given him from above.
Such is the univerfality of this corruption, that we must necesarily conclude that it is born with us. Were not man naturally corrupt, it is inconceivable that in the course of only nine generations from Adam, corruption should be so univerfal, that only one man should be found righteous in the whole world ; and so great, as to exhaust the long-suffering of the God of mercy ; especially when we consider the longevity of the patriarchs; the consequent opportunity afforded to their posterity of being instructed with respect to the creation, the fall, and the revelation of grace; and the appearance of at least one illustrious prophet during this period. There might be some ground to plead the influence of example, did only the children of the wicked follow their ways. But we learn from Scripture, what is confirmed by observation in every age, that even the children of the most pious parents, who have been strictly educated in the ways of God, and as far as possible preserved from the company of the wicked, discover the same corrupt inclinations with others. I shall not mention the ungodly and undutiful Ham, lest it should be said that he was tainted by the wickedness of the antediluvian world. Did not Abraham receive this fignal tertimony from God himself? “I know him, that “ he will coinmand his children and his house“ hold after him; and they shall keep,” or “ that