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akin to them than its advocates are willing to admit. If the love of God and man be left out of our religion, it matters but little what we substitute in its place. Whether it go by the name of Reason, or Superstition, Religious Ceremony, or Evangelical Liberty, all is delusion; all arises from the same source, and tends to the same issue. Good men may in a degree have been beguiled, and for a time carried away with these winds of false doctrine; but I speak of things, and their natural tendencies, not of persons. In short, we may safely consider it as a criterion by which any doctrine may be tried: if it be unfriendly to the moral law, it is not of God, but proceedeth from the father of lies.
Crisp. What you have observed seems very clear, and very affecting. But I have heard it remarked that these systems naturally attach their adherents to the works of the law.
Gai. This is very true; but there is a wide difference between an attachment to the law, and an attachment to the works of the law as the ground of eternal life; as much as between the spirit of a faithful servant who loves his master, loves his family, loves his service, and never wishes to go out free, and that of a slothful servant, who, though he hates his master, hates his family, hates his employment, and never did him any real service, yet has the presumption to expect his reward.
Crisp. This distinction seems of great importance, as it serves to reconcile those scriptures which speak in favor of the law, and those which speak against an attachment to the works of it.
Gai. It is the same distinction, only in other words,
which has commonly been made respecting the law as a rule of life, and as a covenant.
Crisp. Will you be so obliging as to point out a few of the consequences of denying the law to be the rule of life, and representing it as at variance with the Gospel?
Gai. First, This doctrine directly militates against all those scriptures which speak in favor of the moral law, and afford us an honorable idea of it: such as the following: O how I love thy law! The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, just, and good, I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law, I delight in the law of God after the inner man, I with my mind serve the law of God. Secondly, This doctrine reflects upon God himself for having given a law under one dispensation, which is at variance with a gospel given under another. Thirdly; It justifies the sinner in the breach of the law. There can be no evil in sin, but in proportion to the goodness of that law of which it is a transgression. Fourthly, It is in direct opposition to the life and death of the Savior. By the former he obeyed its precepts; by the latter endured its penalty; and by both, declared it to be holy, just, and good. Every reflection therefore upon the moral law is a reflection upon Christ, seeing he has magnified it, and made it honorable. Fifthly, It strikes at the root of all personal religion, and opens the flood-gates to iniquity. Those who imbibe this doctrine, talk of being sanctified in Christ, in such manner as to supersede all personal and progressive sanctification in the believer.
Crisp. I thank you, my dear Gaius, for your obser
DIALOGUE EIGHTH BETWEEN CRISPUS AND GAIUS. ON HUMAN DEPRAVITY.
I THANK YOU, my dear Gaius, for your observations on various important subjects; and now if agreeable I should be glad of your thoughts on the painful but interesting subject of Human Depravity.
Gai. An interesting subject indeed! Perhaps there is no one truth in the Scriptures of a more fundamental nature with respect to the gospel way of salvation. I never knew a person verge towards the Arminian, the Arian, the Socinian, or the Antinomian schemes, without first entertaining diminutive notions of human depravity, or blame-worthiness.
Crisp. Wherein do you conceive depravity to consist? Gai. In the opposite of what is required by the Divine law.
Crisp. The sum of the Divine law is love; the essence of depravity then must consist in the want of love to God and to our neighbor; or in setting up some other objects, to the exclusion of them.
Gai. True; and perhaps it will be found that all the objects set up in competition with God and our neighbor may be reduced to one, and this is Self. Private self-love seems to be the root of depravity, the grand succedaneum in human affections to the love of God and man. Self-admiration, self will, and self-righteousness, are but different modifications of it. Where this preVOL. III.
vails, the creature assumes the place of the Creator, and seeks his own gratification, honor, and interest, as the ultimate end of all his actions. Hence, when the apostle describes men under a variety of wicked characters, the first link in the chain is lovers of their own selves. Hence, also, the first and grand lesson in the Christian school is, to deny ourselves.
Crisp. Almost all evangelical writers, I believe, have considered men as totally depraved and that not by education, or any accidental cause or causes, but by nature, as they are born in the world.
Gai. They have; this was manifestly the doctrine generally embraced at the Reformation; and which has been maintained, by the advocates for salvation by sovereign grace, in every age.
Crisp. Yet one should think, if men were totally depraved, they would be all, and always alike wicked.
Gai. If by total depravity you mean that men are so corrupt as to be incapable of adding sin to sin, I know of no person who maintains any such sentiment. All I mean by the term is this, That the human heart is by nature totally destitute of love to God, or man as the creature of God, and consequently of all true virtue. A being may be utterly destitute of good, and therefore totally depraved (such, it will be allowed, is Satan) and yet be capable of adding iniquity to iniquity without end.
Crisp. I should be glad if you would point out a few of the principal evidences on which the doctrine of human depravity is founded.
Gai. The principal evidences that strike me at this time may be drawn from the four following sources:
Scripture testimony, history, observation, and experi
Crisp. What do you reckon the principal Scripture testimonies on this subject?
Gai. Those passages which expressly teach it; such as the following: "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. God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good; no, not one, Both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous; no, not one. Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. The whole world lieth in wickedness. 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; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."* Those passages also which teach the necessity of regeneration. If men were not essentially depraved, a reformation might suffice; but if all be corrupt, the whole fabric must be taken down: "Old things must pass away, and all things must become new."
Crisp. What evidence do you draw in favor of this doctrine from history?
* Gen. vi. 5. Ps. liii. 2, 3. Rom. iii. 9, 10, 16-18. viii. 7.. 1 John 7. 19. Eph. ii. 3.