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THE FREENESS,

ETC.

CHAPTER I.

ON ORIGINAL SIN.

An obscure or imperfect view of one doctrine often leads to the rejection of another. Thus I have always found, that those who conscientiously reject the doctrine of election, do so from an inability to take into the account, the absolutely free and unconditional nature of God's grace in pardoning sinners; and I believe the clearness of our views of this latter doctrine to be, in most cases, commensurate with our deep and abiding conviction of man's utter and original depravity.

This may happen to real Christians. A person may see enough of the sin of his heart

or

even

and life to come heartily to Christ for salvation ; and yet he may not be so deeply convinced of his entire ruin in the fall, and of the desperate wickedness and utter helplessness of his nature from the very womb, as to perceive the justice,

the necessity, of the doctrine of election.

Yet a very clear conviction of our natural enmity against God, and of our entire inability to seek or to choose any thing that is good, plainly involves with it a conviction that if we love God, it must be because He first loved us; that if we choose Christ and his way at all, it can be ascribed to no other cause than that He first chose us, - or in other words, that we are elect, according to the foreknowledge of God. Such being my view of the case,

I entreat

my reader's attention while I say a few words on the doctrine of original sin. It is the very first lesson in the school of Christ; and it is only by being well rooted and grounded in these first principles, that we can hope to go on to perfection. The doctrine is written in Scripture as with a sun-beam. If we do not feel some conviction of it in our own hearts, it affords a sad proof that we still belong to that “generation that is

pure in their own eyes, and yet is not

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washed from their filthiness. 1" “ All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” ? With Him a high look, and a proud heart, an idle word, and a light thought is sin. His law is spiritual, reaching to every thought and intent of the heart. “ Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” 3

If then we say that we have no sin, we make God a liar ; but if we allow that we sin at all, then must we allow that our whole nature is sinful and corrupt. At least our Saviour thought

He declares that corrupt fruit only can come from a corrupt tree : corrupt doings of a corrupt nature. “ A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." 4 As if our blessed Saviour had said : · Be consistent; either say at once that ye know no sin, or if indeed conscience witnesses that ye do sin every day, and every hour of your lives, then confess that your corrupt doings proceed from a nature inherently corrupt.

If your nature were a good, a holy nature, it could not be thus continually putting forth the evil fruit of unholy actions. The clusters that bow down the branches of the vine

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1 Prov. xxx. 12. 3 James ii. 10.

2 Prov. xvi. 2. 4 Matt. vii, 18.

me.

may become less luxuriant, but still they are grapes ; no change of season or of climate can cause it to teem with the unsightly fruit of the bramble, or the tasteless berries of the thorn. Look then no longer for any thing good in yourselves; it is to look for grapes on thorns, or figs on thistles. Once I had planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed; but now are ye turned to the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto

The parent stock became corrupt, and spread corruption through all its branches. One only hope remains for you. Confess your sin and misery, and seek to be grafted, contrary to nature, into me the true vine : thus abiding in me, and I in you, ye who in yourselves can do nothing, shall in me, bear much and good fruit.' The fountain of humanity has been poisoned at its very head, and will bring forth nothing but pollution : “ the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ;” 1 out of it flow,

; as from their natural source, evil thoughts, adulteries, murders, and all that train of corruptions mentioned by our Lord in Mark vii. 21, 22. Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God.”2 These words

1 Jer. xvii. 9.

2 Mark x. 17.

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of our Lord again seem to imply, ‘Be consistent; either admit that I am God, or if

you

will have it that I am but a mere man like yourself, then ascribe no goodness to me; for know, that in man dwelleth no good thing. Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

."1' «That which is born of the flesh is flesh. They that are in the flesh cannot please God.”3 Why so ? Because “ the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.": 4 0 how the very opinions of men on this subject prove the depth of their blindness and perverseness: that they will persist in saying, “ I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing : ” when He who tried the heart and reins has affirmed of them, that they are “ wretched, and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.”5

The Scripture History of man opens with these words, And God said, let us make man in our own image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him.” 6 God is a spirit;”? it

1 Luke xiii. 2, 3. 2 John iii. 6. 3 Rom. viii. 8. 4 Rom. viii. 7.

5 Rev. iii. 17. 6 Gen. i. 25, 27.

7 John iv. 24.

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