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Gentiles, what their character formely was, he adds, such was the character of us all, who were Gentiles; and we were by nature, i. e. by custom, children of wrath, even as other Gentiles. It must be considered, as a great inconvenience, to say the least, attending this explanation, that St. Paul was not a Gentile ; and, therefore, if he ranked himself among them, it was by mere courtesy. In this chapter, let it be noticed, he speaks distinctly of Jews and Gentiles; of the wall of partition, which had formely kept them separate; which wall was then to be demolished. Now, it is highly unreasonable to suppose, that St. Paul, when distinguishing Jews from Gentiles, should take himself from the Jews, to whom he belonged, and rank himself among the Gentiles, to whom he did not belong. The fact seems to be this, that when the apostle uses the term, ye, throughout this whole chapter, he designates Gentiles particularly: where he uses the term, we, he speaks of christians in general, whether of Jewish or Gentile origin ; and when speaking of the Jews distinctly, be mentioris them in the third person: e. g.
in verse seventeen; Christ came and preached peace to you, that were afar off, i. e. to the Gentiles, and to them, that were
nigh, i. e. the Jews. If he meant to rank himself with the + Gentiles, why did he not say, Christ came and preached
peace to us, that were afar off? We surely ought not without necessity to suppose, that the writer uses the terms we
and ye indiscriminately; but necessity is so far from requir*ing this, that on such a supposition, the chapter is far less t intelligible. Besides, that these terms are not thus indis
criminately used throughout the chapter, is conceded by the advocates of this explanation.
Hence it is reasonable to believe, that when the apostle : said, we all are, by nature, children of wrath, even as others, he
spake in general terms, and had no distinct reference to Gentile converts.
The second important point in the explanation, which we are considering is, that the term nature, as used in this place, means nothing more than custom. Should this prove a just
remark, it would not, in any measure, invalidate the conclusion, that mankind are, by some means or other, children of wrath: it only relates to the manner of their becoming such. But the remark itself, though it has all the aid, which learn. ing and talents can give, still remains destitute of any support from the common use of the term in the New Testament It is there invariably used in its ordinary signification. The fourteenth verse of the eleventh chapter of 1. Corinthians, affords no exception. The apostle is there shewing the propriety of preserving a distinction between the habits of men and women, and the indecency of annihilating this dis
inction. “Doth not even nature itself teach, that if a man have long huir, it is a shame unto him ?” “ The emphasis used,
, avtn'n quois, nature itself, shows, saith an able writer, that the author does not mean custom, but nature'in its er sense. It was, indeed, long custom, which made having the head covered a token of subjection, and of a feminine habit and appearance: but nature itself, nature, in its proper sense, teaches, that it is a shame for a man to appear with the established signs of the female sex, and with significations of inferiority.” On the subject before us, the opinion of Celsus ought not to pass without observation. - This is in
deed, very true," saith he, “ that mankind is, someway, nat. urally disposed to sin." (Glass. iv. 322.) If it be asked, what is meant, when we say, that the doing of wrong is natural to man; I answer, Thut moral course may be consid ered, as natural to man, which, without any divine influence on the heart, he generally or universally pursues. That may be considered, as not being natural to man, which, without such iniluence, he selilom or kiter pursues. Now, it is the language, both of Jewish and christian scriptures, tha: holiness, or moral rectitude is the result of divine operation. Jesus sail, Ercept a mun be boril openin, lie cannot see thie kingdom of God: be informs us cruris, that to be born again is the same thing, is to be born of God. The alteration expressed by this language, is doribiless of a moral kind. Previously, therefore, to this change, extraneously produced.
there is a want of moral qualifications for heaven; i. e. there is a want of piety, a want of real virtue. But, if piety, or real virtue would not exist in the heart, without the agency of God, a want of this quality is natural to man. which Christ used, in his discourse with Nicodemus, is as general, as can be conceived. He does not say, “ except a heathen be born again;" nor, “except an extravagant profligate be born again :” but “ except any man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Finally, the doctrine in question receives much support from the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. The inspired writer there considers the whole human family, as consisting of those, who are in the flesh, and those, who are in the spirit. The character of the former is, that they mind the things of the flesh; the character of the latter, that they mind the things of the spirit. It is implied further, that all would be of the former description, i. e. all would make the present world, the center of their desires and efforts, were none the subjects of an external influence. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be the spirit of God dwell in
many as are led by the spirit, they are the sons of God. But if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
It would be easy to multiply quotations of the same import. Now, when we consider the nature of the christian economy; the object, which it has professedly in view; the passages, already quoted, relating to the character of man; when we consider the testimony of ancient and modern history; the conduct of men, whether civilized or barbarous; whether enveloped in the horrors of Gentile superstition, blest with that partial light, which dawned upon the Jews, or enjoying the unmixed radiance of christianity; when we ohserve, in a country, professing to acknowledge the divine origin of this light, crimes, various and without number; universal unwillingness to make the Supreme Being the subject of contemplation or discourse: especially when we look into our own hearts, and perceive a perverted taste, aversion from the commands of reason, and the Almighty; conscience asserting the claims of rectitude, and the will pertinaciously
refusing them; when we view all these considerations in their connexion, one with another, is it reasonable to deny the universal, and native depravity of man? Though it should be allowed, as doubtless it must, that there are considerable difficulties, attending the doctrine, the depial of it is accompanied by those, which are still greater. May God enable us to seek truth with impartiality, and in all cases to give that degree of assent, which is proportionate to the evidence exhibited.
LECTURE X I.
My present object is,
1. Briefly to inquire as to the extent or degree of that corruption, the existence of which, I have before endeavoured to prove :
II. To notice some objections to the doctrine in question additional to those, which have been already mentioned:
III. Inquire, whether there is any connexion between the sin of our first parents, and the present moral character of their descendants.
I. As to the extent or degree of that corruption, the existence of which I have endeavoured to prove. It is not implied, in the remarks which have been made, that the disorders, common to the human heart, are the greatest conceivable. The scriptures, with great clearness and frequency, inform us, that there will be diversity, not only in the rewards, bestowed on the righteous, but in the sufferings, endured by the wicked. Though the wicked will find no period to their punishment, the degree awarded to some, will be less, than that inflicted on others. He, who knows not his Lord's will, and does things worthy of stripes, will be beaten with less severity, than he, who does the same things with more distinct knowledge of his duty. On the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, will doubtless be laid, in the day of judgment, no common burden of infamy and pain ; which will, however, be exceeded by theirs, who contemned the personal ministry of Jesus Christ. Punishment will be proportionate to guilt. Therefore, all sinners are not, in the same degree, guilty. But in one particular,
, there is universal similarity. They are all destitute of that