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with exhorting them to such things as they can comply with, and still retain their enmity against God. But what authority have they for such a conduct? When did Christ or his Apostles deal in such compromising doctrine? Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, were the grand articles on which they insisted. So far from hesitating to exhort their carnal auditors to what was spiritually good, it may be safely affirmed, that THEY NEVER EXHORTED THEM TO ANY THING ELSE. It would have been unworthy of God, and of his servants, to exhort to any thing short of the heart, or its genuine expressions.
To conclude, the following supposition may serve to illustrate the foregoing subject. A ship's company rise against their officers; put them in chains, and take the command of the ship upon themselves. They agree to set the officers ashore on some uninhabited island, to sail to some distant port; dispose of the cargo, and divide the money. After parting with their officers, they find it necessary, for the sake of self-preservation, to establish some kind of laws and order. To these they adhere with punctuality, act upon honor with respect to each other, and propose to be very impartial in the distribution of their plunder. But while they are on their voyage, one of the company repents, and becomes very unhappy. They inquire the reason. He answers, "We are engaged in a wicked cause!" They plead their justice, honor, and generosity to each other. He denies that there is any virtue in it: "nay, all our equity, while it is exercised in pursuit of a scheme which violates the great law of justice, is itself a species of iniquity." "You talk extravagantly; surely we might be
worse than we are if we were to destroy each other as well as our officers." "Yes, wickedness admits of degrees, but there is no virtue or goodness in all our doings; all has risen from selfish motives. The same principles which led us to discard our officers would lead us, if it were not for our own sakes, to destroy each other." "But you speak so very discouraging, you destroy all motives to good order in the ship: What would you have us do?" "REPENT, RETURN TO OUR INJURED OFFICERS AND OWNERS, AND SUBMIT TO MERCY.” “O, but this we cannot do; advise us to any thing which concerns the good order of the ship, and we will hearken unto you." "I cannot bear to advise in these matters! RETURN, RETURN, AND SUBMIT TO MERCY!" Such would be the language of a true penitent in this case; and such should be the language of a Christian minister to sinners who have cast off the government of God. I am affectionately yours,
CONSEQUENCES RESULTING FROM THE DOCTRINE OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY.
From CRISPUS to GAIUS.
-n, March 9, 1795.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
YOUR two last letters have occupied much of my attention. I confess I feel the force of the argument; and though there are difficulties in my mind which I scarcely know how to state in form, yet I must ingenuously confess that the grand objections which I advanced are answered. The subject is more interesting to VOL. III.
me than ever: it affects all the great doctrines of the Gospel. My thoughts have already been at work upon its consequences. I could wish, after having discussed the subject, we could examine its bearings on the different systems which are embraced in the religious world. With your leave, I will mention a few of those consequences which have struck my mind, as resulting from it; and shall be obliged to you for your opinion of their propriety, and the addition of any thing wherein you may perceive me defective.
First, if your views be just, I perceive that all mankind, without any distinction of sober and profligate,
are UTTERLY LOST, AND ABSOLUTELY IN A PERISH
ING CONDITION. All men will acknowledge that they are sinners; that they have broken God's commandments, most or all of them, in thought or in deed, at one time or other; and that the best of their works have their imperfections. Such acknowledgments are seldom or ever expressive of any deep concern. On the contrary, it is common for men, while they speak thus, to discover a spirit of indifference, supported by a kind of hope, that God will pardon a few sins, and make up for a few imperfections; otherwise, they say, he must keep heaven to himself. But, if your views be just, their whole life has been one uninterrupted course of foul revolt and abominable apostacy; and the irregularities of their lives bear no more proportion to the whole of their depravity, than the particles of water which are occasionally emitted from the surface of the ocean to the tide that rolls beneath. Nor is there any propriety in men of this description acknowledging their imperfections: imperfections relate to a standard, and
imply an habitual aim to conform to it. Such language is properly applied to the righteous, the best of whom fall short of the mark; but the life of wicked men is, in one shape or other, an uninterrupted course of evil. Secondly, If your views be just, they seem to afford a presumptive, if not more than a presumptive proof of OUR NEED OF A SAVIOR; and not of a Savior only, but of A GREAT ONE! I do not know, whether I can exactly trace the operation of these principles, or their opposites, in the human mind; but this I know, it is a fact sufficiently notorious, that those professors of Christianity, who reject the proper deity and atonement of Christ, at the same time entertain very diminutive notions of their own depravity. I have known many persons, who, as soon as they have begun to lean towards the Socinian, Arian, or Arminian systems, have discovered an inelination to treat this doctrine with contempt. Those Popis on the other hand, who have but under such preaching as hath led them to entertain, low thoughts of Christ, and the grace of the Gospel, if at some period of their life, they have been convinced of their guilty and perishing state as sinners against God, have soon given up their other notions, and embraced the deity and atonement of Christ with all their hearts, and that with but little if any persuasion on the part of their friends. Nor does this appear very difficult to be accounted for: as the whole need no physician, but those that are sick; so it is natural to suppose that in proportion as a person feels the depth and danger of his malady, he will estimate the necessity, the value, and the efficacy of the remedy.
Thirdly, If your views be just, I perceive that the work of turning a sinner's heart must be altogether of God, and of free grace. If a sinner could return to God of his own accord, or even by Divine influence helping or assisting him, it must be upon the supposition of his having some will, wish, or desire to set about it. But if men are totally alienated from God, all desire after him might be extinct; and all the warnings, invitations, or expostulations of the word, will be ineffectual: yea, Divine influence itself will be insufficient if it falls short of renewing the heart. We have heard much of late concerning political regeneration: it has been warmly contended by many in behalf of the change which has taken place in a neighboring nation, that things were too bad for a mere reformation; that therefore regeneration was necessary. Is it not on similar principles that we are told, Ye must be born again? Old things must pass away, and all things must become new. If men be so depraved as you suppose, the necessity of a divine and entire change must be indubitably evident.
Fourthly, If your views be just, the doctrine of free or unconditional election may be clearly demonstrated, and proved to be a dictate of right reason. If men be utterly depraved, they lie entirely at the discretion of God, either to save or not to save them: If any are saved, it must be by an act of free grace: if some are brought to believe in Christ, whilst others continue in unbelief (which accords with continued fact,) the difference between them must be altogether of grace. But if God make a difference in time, he must have determined to do so from eternity: for to suppose God to