תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

magnifying the Lord of heaven, and in demanding our homage. But, alas ! so insensible is man, that he will not behold the Majesty of the Lord, nor attend to his gracious solicitations.

8. Another mark of this moral pravity is, the ignorance which the natural man discovers respecting God, his own state, and the distinct nature of good and evil. It is not to be greatly wondered at, that the Fall, having produced an estrangement of the heart from God, should render us blind to the purity, excellency, and spirituality of his nature. Hence that glorious Being, whom the Divine Records pronounce unalterably holy, just, and good, is strangely mistaken, and unknown. Men think him altogether such as themselves f. Though he solemnly assures them that his justice obliges him to avenge unrepented guilt", yet they presumptuously confide in his uncovenanted mercy ;'and thus go on in sin, under the fatal hope that he will overlook, and not punish their trespasses.

The same mistake prevails with respect to the worship due to God. Not aware that he requires sincerity and uprightness of mind in them that draw nigh unto him, and a cheerful obedience springing from proper motives, man, in an unrenewed state, contents himself with offering unto the Lord the hypocritical service of the lip, rather than the sacrifice of a contrite and devoted spirit. He is scrupulous enough in observing the form, but hates and denies “the power of godliness .

9. The opinion which fallen man entertains of his own condition, is an affecting proof of his debasement. He is not sensible of the wickedness of his heart, nor of his exposure to wrath on account of it.

Psalm 1. 21. "ib. vii. 11-13. 6 2 Tim. iii. 5.

Though God declares that the imaginations of the heart are evil, without any mixture of good to correct them"; yet he is not aware of his disease, or the danger with which it threatens him. He goeth on frowardly in his ways, falsely persuading himself that he is on good terms with his Maker, and that his virtuous actions will outweigh and atone for his misdeeds. Hence he unwarrantably concludes, that if he does but abstain from those foul offences which affront and injure society, his partial observance of some precepts of religion will give him strong claims to the favour of God,

whom he ignorantly regards as his debtor. Insensible of his spiritual malady hn, he seeks not the grace of God to illuminate and sanctify his whole nature, nor does he ask pardon for the numerous sins which he has committed. And thus, if the Divine mercy interpose not, he drops into the gulph of perdition, a victim to a deceived heart which has turned him aside from the paths of righteousness and bliss i.

10. The wrong judgment formed of present and · future things displays, in a most affecting light, the bitter consequences of our apostacy from God. Though his smile and eternal life are unquestionably the chief good", yea, the only blessing that can satisfy our souls ; though Jehovah commands his rational creatures to seek his favour as their all-sufficient portion, and encourages them to hope for the attainment of it, in obedience to his will; yet so dark and corrupt is man, that he foolishly covets the world and its vanities in preference to God. To these he sacrifices his time and attention. In the morning he forms schemes of worldly gain and pleasure, which Gen. vi. 5–7.

Eph. iv. 18, 19.
Isa. xliv. 20.

ii John xvii. 3.

hh

i

[ocr errors]

are actively pursued throughout the day. His first and last thoughts are occupied about the idols of his affection ; and every fresh opportunity of gratifying his inordinate thirst after them, affords new delight. On the other hand, he contrives to exclude God from possessing any share in his heart, or any place in his thoughts. The concerns of the soul never once engage his attention. Death, judgment, eternity, heaven, and hell, are kept out of sight. His mind is so engrossed with the cares and business and pleasures of this life, that he allows himself no time to inquire, Where am I going? What is likely to be the result of my present conduct? Shall I awake up to endless joy, or "to shame and everlasting contemptk?"

11. The last, though by far the most awful feature of man's depravity, is his enmity to God. That a Being so benevolent, gracious, excellent, and lovely, should be an object of hatred, is truly astonishing; because he is possessed of every thing that ought to endear him to our minds. Heis the Father of Lights, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift. Can any creature, then, throughout theuniverse, be so base as to despise a God so absolutely holy and so exuberantly kind ? Yes, the criminality of such conduct attaches to man, upon whom he daily lavishes his blessings with an unsparing hand, and still is forgotten and insulted. The righteousness of God, and the holy service which he enjoins, draw forth the hatred of the fallen heart, which is decidedly averse to them'. Unregenerate men fly from the face of Jehovah, break his commands with iinpunity, and, engaging in open acts of treason against him,cast off his authority, and challenge him to execute his vengeful wrath upon their crimes. What the Lord approves, corrupt man dis* Dan. xii. 2.

Rom. viii.6, 7.

likes ; and that which is odious in his sight, depraved creatures intensely love. Hence his commandments, thoughfar from being grievous, are a burden they cannot bear; and this accursed hostility generates pride, independence, and all those daring acts of impiety, which render men more like Satan himself, than Beings originally formed after the Divine image. At a yiew of such enormous guilt, we may

well join in the complaint of the Prophet, who calls upon the creation to pass sentence upon it: “ Hear, O heavens! and give ear, O earth! for the Lord hath . spoken : I have nourished and brought up children, , and they have rebelled against me"."

This degeneracy is coeval with our birth, and progressively increases with our days. Being conceived in sin, the seeds of vice take root in the heart before we can speak or act; and growing with our growth, soon attain a fatal maturity. Before we arrive at years of discretion, the blossom and even the fruit of our corruption are discernible, in perverse tempers, ungovernable passions, impure desires, sinful imaginations, vicious conversation, and immoral practices. Neither the instruction of tutors, nor the authority of parents, nor the rebukes of conscience, nor shame and disgrace, nor the displeasure of God, nor the terrors of a judgment to come, can effectually restrain the violent propensities of a youthful breast. Hurried along by the blind impulse of depraved affections, the young choosé evil rather than good, and pursue the deceitful pleasures of sin, while they neglect the beauties of holiness. Age strengthens and confirms, rather than corrects the depravity of the heart. Before we enter on plans of intercourse with a polluting world, the con

u Isa. i. 27.

science is more or less susceptible of right inpressions : but as men advance in years, their minds. gradually acquire a lamentable degree of hardness, which prepares them to resist all the monitions of conscience, the denunciations of Divine wrath, and the kindly influences of the Holy Spirit ; who, slighted and provoked by their impenitence, abandons them : and thus becoming “dead in trespasses and sins,” they perish through obstinacy and unbelief.

13. This doctrine is very offensive to the natural pride of “ the carnal mind, which is enmity against God.” But it is nevertheless undeniably true, as will appear from the judgment which the Almighty forms concerning the actual state of man, in every age, climate, and country, throughout the habitable globe. His testimony should be received without distrust; because, as a God of truth, he can have no pleasure in libellously degrading his own creatures. “ 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...” “ The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores ".'

66. There is none righteous, no not one."

All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God P.” “ Wherein, in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 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; mm Gen. vi. 5-7. viii. 21.

* Isa. i. 5, 6. Psalm xiv. Rom. iii, 10-19.

P Rom. iii. 23.

« הקודםהמשך »