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24 SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF MAN'S his corruptions weaken? The words of the apostle answer, No: “We ourselves, also, were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” “God looked down from heaven upon the chil. dren of men, to see if there were any that did understand.” And what is the dreadful result of this examination ? « Every one of them is gone back; they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
§ 4. This sinfulness of your nature, my young friend, is not partial; it is not confined to some of your powers or faculties; but, like a mortal poison, spreads through and pollutes the whole. är The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; from the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores." The heart, which should be the best part of man, is now the worst. “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Such are the windings of its corruption, that no eye but that of Jehovah can trace them out. It is full of evil; not merely tainted but filled with sin; and “madness dwells in it.” From this corrupt fountain, flows as corrupt a stream.
« Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, theft, false witness, blasphemies, covetousness, wickedness," or malevolence, “ deceit, lasciviousness," or immodesty, "envy, pride, foolishness,” or levity. Not merely is the heart thus polluted, “but the lusts of men war in their members.” The
Is. i. 5, 6. Jer. xvij. 9. Ecc. ix. 3. Matt. xv. 19. Mark, vii. 22. Jam. iv. l.
Tit. iii. 3.
Ps. liii. 2.
FALLEN AND SINFUL STATE.
hands, the feet, the lips, are all defiled by different sins; and the tongue, that member which was formed peculiarly for its Creator's praise, “is now a world of iniquity; and is set on fire of hell.” Man is elsewhere represented as born in that state which is called flesh; a name ap. plied to this corruption of our nature. “ That which is born of the flesh, is flesh" And “the works of the flesh,” says an inspired apostle,
are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” Such is man when the corruptions of his nature have opportunity for appearing; and has he any deeds of righteousness to counterbalance this exceeding sinfulness? O, let the evangelical prophet answer : “ We
e are ALL as an unclean thing; and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” So far are our best actions, in our natural state, from helping, that even they are polluted and loathsome; and sin, like a whirlwind unopposed, sweeps us on to perdition.
§ 5. But I foresee an objection, which some may make to parts of this statement.
Perhaps you, my young friend, exclaim, "I have not committed many of the sins here named.” Perhaps not. I am here showing you your own lost condition, by referring you to those sad fruits which your depraved heart, unless by one means or other prevented, would produce; and which in millions of cases have
Jam. iii. 6. John, iii. 6. Gal. v. 19, 21. Is. Ixiv. 6.
been produced. The restraints of education, or other things, may in you have checked some of these corruptions; but this makes no alteration as to your natural sinfulness.
If in spring you were to cast one handful of wheat into the ground, and lay another by in a drawer, would you, in autumn, say of that which had been laid by, this is not wheat, because it might not have put forth the blade and the ear? No, it would still be wheat, still be of the same nature as that scattered in the ground, though its situation had prevented its growing, and producing fruit like that. So it is with human nature: in some situations its corruptions may not be so visible as in others; in some situations those corruptions may not have the same nourishment as in others; or may meet with more restraints; like the grain of corn, which is buried so deep that it can scarcely push its blade above the surface of the soil. All this may take place. All this does take place, in thousands of instances; but human nature, in its radical corruption, is every where the same; like wheat which is wheat still, whether it vegetates in the furrow, ripens in the ear, or is treasured up in the barn.
§ 6. Allow me, my young friend, after this general view, to descend into particulars.
The word of God, in describing your natural condition, represents it as so extremely sinful, that while in it nothing which you do can be pleasing to God. “They that are in the flesh” (under the government of that corruption which is named flesh), “cannot please God.” So entire is this corruption, that an apostle confesses, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwell
Rom. viii. 8. vii. 18.
27 eth no good thing.” So completely is the soul indisposed by it for all that is really good, that men are “dead in trespasses and sins.” How awful is their delusion, who are strangers to real religion, and yet flatter themselves that there is something good in them to recommend them to God. Their best actions flow from corrupt motives, and are in his sight but a kind of splendid sins.
§ 7. Man is not only so extremely sinful that he cannot please God, but so blind, that he is entirely ignorant of what is acceptable in his Maker's sight. Our Lord himself declares, that the design of his gospel is to open the men, “and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God."
He assures us that he came to "preach recovering of sight to the blind.” His most distinguished apostle affirms, "that even the followers of Christ were sometime darkness;” that he and they had been “delivered from the power of darkness;"' and humbly confesses, “we ourselves also were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived;” being blinded by those false hopes and delusions, which blind thousands now. So destructive is this blindness, that men “know not the way of peace.” So entire, that the sullen ox and stupid ass know more of their masters, than unenlightened man of his God. “ The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider.” So awful is this blindness, that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him.” Even “ the Eph. 2. 1. Acts, xxvi. 18. Luke, iv. 18. Eph. v. 8. Col. i. 13: Titü. 3. Rom. iii. 17. ls. i. 3. I Cor. ii. 14. 1. 18,
28 MAN'S SUBJECTION TO SATAN. preaching of the cross itself, is, to them that perish, foolishness.” And so wilful, that “men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil; and proceeding in their career of madness, “ fools make a mock at sin.” Is it possible, my young friend, to give a sadder repre. sentation of the natural blindness of the heart, than these passages give ? Sin, which God declares to be the cause of misery, death, and bell, men treat as a matter of foolish ridicule and mad laughter; while that glorious plan of sal. vation, which so magnifies the wisdom and love of God, that it astonishes the angels of heaven, even this is folly in the view of poor unconverted men. The man who should laugh at a thousand swords aimed at his defenceless head, or pointed at his naked breast, were wiser than he who laughs at sin. Less foolish were the wretch who should treat as folly, a plan to deliver him from the condemned cell, the halter, the gibbet, or the fire, than he who thus treats the wondrous plan which God has devised, to save him from the flames of hell.
§ 8. Shall I stop here? The word of God does not. The sacred writers continue the deplorable account of fallen man, by declaring that he is not only polluted and blind, but under the influence of the worst foe of God and
The devil, on account of his extensive reign, is called by them, “the god of this world;" “the prince of the power of the air ;" and he and the wicked spirits that have fallen with him, “are the rulers of the darkness of this world.” The ungodly are of their “father John, iii. 19.
2 Cor. iv. 4. Eph. ii. 2. vi. 12,
Prov. xiv. 9.