« PreviousContinue »
words) for arising from infirmity or defect ; nor does any invincible propensity to sin, cease to be a propensity to such demerit of eternal ruin, because the proneness arises from such a cause.
It is manifest, that this tendency which has been proved, does not consist in any particular external circumstances, that some or many are in, peculiarly tempting or influencing their minds ; bút is inherent, and is seated in that nature which is common to all mankind, which they carry with them wherever they go, and still remains the same, however circumstances may differ. For it is implied in what has been proved, and shewn to be confessed, that the same event comes to pass in all circumstances, that any of mankind ever are, or can be under in the world. In God's sight no man living can be justified; but all are sinners, and exposed to condemnation. This is true of persons of all constitutions, capacities, conditions, manners, opinions and educations ; in all countries, climates, nations and ages; and through all the mighty changes and revolutions, which have come to pass in the habitable world.
We have the saine evidence, that the propensity in this case lies in the nature of the subject, and does not arise from any particular circumstances, as we have in any case whatsoever ; which is only by the effects appearing to be the same in all changes of time and place, and under all varieties of circumstances. It is in this way only we judge, that any propensities, which we observe in mankind, are such as are seated in their nature, in all other cases. It is thus we judge of the mutual propensity betwixt the sexes, or of the dispositions which are exercised in any of the natural passions or appetites, that they truly belong to the nature of man ; because they are observed in mankind in general, through all countries, nations, and ages, and in all conditions,
If any should say, though it be evident that there is a tendency in the state of things to this general event, that all mankind should fail of perfect obedience, and should sin, and incur a demerit of eternal ruin ; and also that this tendency does not lie in any distinguishing circumstances of any particular people, person, or age ; yet it may not lie in man's
nature, but in the general constitution and frame of this world, into which men are born ; though the nature of man may be good, without any evil propensity inberent in it; yet the nalure and universal state of this earthly world may be such as to be full of so many and strong temptations every where, and of such a powerful influence on such a creature as inan, dwell. ing in so infirm a body, &c. that the result of the whole may be a strong and infallible tendency in such a state of things, to the sin and eternal ruin of every one of mankind,
To this I would reply, that such an evasion will not at all avail to the purpose of those whom I oppose in this controversy. It alters not the case as to this question, whether man is not a creature that in his present state is depraved and ruined by propensities to sin. If any creature be of such a nature that it proves evil in its proper place, or in the situation which God has assigned it in the universe, it is of an evil nature. That part of the system is not good, which is not good in i's place in the system ; and those inherent qualities of that part of the system, which are not good, but corrupt, in that place, are justly looked upon as evil inherent qualities. That propensity is truly esteemed to belong to the nature of any being, or to be inherent in it, that is the necessary consequence of iis nature, considered together with its proper situation in the universal system of existence, whether that propensity be good or bad. It is the nature of a stone to be heavy; but yet, if it were placed, as it might be, at a distance from this world, it would have no such quality. But seeing a stone is of such a nature, that it will have this quality or tendency, in its proper place, here in this world, where God has made it, it is properly looked upon as a propensity belonging to its nature: And if it be a good propensity here in its proper place, then it is a good quality of its nature ; but if it be contrariwise, it is an evil natural quality. So, if mankind are of such a nature, that they have an universal, effectual tendency to sin and ruin in this world, where God has made and placed them, this is to be looked upon as a pernicious tendency be longing to their nature. There is, perhaps, scarce any such thing in beings not independent and selfexistent, as any pow. er or tendency, but what has some dependence on other beings, which they stand in some connexion with, in the univers sal system of existence : Propensities are no propensities, any otherwise, than as taken with their objects. Thus it is with the tendencies observed in natural bodies, such as gravity, magnetism, electricity, &c. And thus it is with the propensities observed in the various kinds of animals ; and thus it is with most of the propensities in created spirits.
It may further be observed, that it is cxactly the same thing, as to the controversy concerning an agreeableness with God's moral perfections of such a disposal of things, that man should come into the world in a depraved, ruined state, by a propensity to sin and ruin ; whcther God has so ordered it, that this propensiiy should lie in bis nature considered alone, or with relation to its situation in the universe, and its connexion with other parts of the system to which the Creator has united it; which is as much of God's ordering, as man's nature itself, most simply considered.
Dr.Taylor, (p. 188, 189) speaking of the attempt of some to solve the difficulty of Cod's being the author of our nature, and yet that our nature is polluted, by supposing that God makes the soul pure, but unites it to a polluted body, (or a body so made, as tends to pollute the soul) he cries out of it as weak and insufficient, and too gross to be admitted. “ For, (says he) who infused the soul into the body? And if it is polluted by being infused into the body, who is the author and cause of its pollution ? And who created the body," &c. But is not the case just the same, as to those who suppose that God made the soul pure, and places it in a polluted world, or a world tending by its natural state in which it is made, to pollute the soul, or to have such an influence upon it, that it shall without fail be polluted with sin, and eternally ruined ? Here, may not I also cry out, on as good grounds as Dr. Taylor, who placed the soul here in this world? And if the world be polluted, or so constituted as naturally and infallibly to pollute the soul with sin, who is the cause of this pollution ? And who created the world?
Though in the place now cited, Dr. Taylor so insists upon it, that God must be answerable for the pollution of the soul, if he has infused or put the soul into a body that tends to pollute il ; yet this is the very thing which he himself supposes to be fact, with respect to the soul's being created by God, in such a body as it is, and in such a world as it is ; in a place which I have already had occasion to observe, where he says, “ We are apt, in a world full of temptation, to bę drawn into sin by bodily appetites.” And if so, according to his way of reason, God must be the author and cause of this aptness to be drawn into sin. Again, page 143, we have these words, “ Who drinketh in inquity like water? Who is attended with so many sensual appetites, and so apt to indulge them ? In these words our author in effect says the individual thing that he cries out of as so gross, viz. the tendency of the body, as God has made it, to pollute the soul which he has infused into it. These sensual appetites, which incline the soul, or make it apt to a sinful indulgence, are either from the body which God hath made, or otherwise a proneness to sinful indulgence is immediately and originally seated in the soul itself, which will not mend the matter for Dr. Taylor.
I would here lastly observe, that our author insists upon it, page 42, S. that this lower world where we dwell, in its present state, “is as it was, when, upon a review, God pronounced it, and all its furniture, very good. And that the present form and furniture of the earth is full of God's riches, mercy, and goodness, and of the most evident tokens of his love and bounty to the inhabitants.” If so, there can be no room for such an evasion of the evidences from fact, of the universal, infallible tendency of man's nature to sin and eternal perdition, as that the tendency there is to this issue, does not lie in man's nature, but in the general constitution and frame of this earthly world, which God hath made to be the habitation of mankind.
That Propensity, which has been proved to be in the nature of
all mankind, must be a very evil, depraved and pernicious Propensity ; making it manifest, that the soul of man, as it is by nature, is in a corrupt, fallen, and ruined state ; which is the other part of the consequerce, drawn from the proposition laid down in the first Section.
THE question to be considered, in order to determine whether man's nature is not depraved and ruined, is not, whether he is not inclined to perform as many good deeds as bad ones ; but which of these two he preponderates to, in the frame of his heart, and state of his nature, a state of innocence and righteousness, and favor with God; or a state of sin, guiltiness, and abhorrence in the sight of God. Persevering sinless righteousness, or else the guilt of sin, is the alternative, on the decision of which depends, (as is confessed) according to the Dature and truth of things, as they are in themselves, and * according to the rule of right, and of perfect justice, man's being approved and accepted of his Maker, and eternally blessed as good; or his being rejected, thrown away, and cursed as bad. And therefore the determination of the tendency of man's heart and nature, with respect to these terms, is that which is to be looked at, in order to determine whether his nature is good or evil, pure or corrupt. sound or ruined. If such be man's nature, and state of his heart, that he has an infallibly effectual propensity to the latter of those terms; then it is wholly impertinent to talk of the innocent and kind actions, even of criminals themselves, surpassing their crimes in numbers, and of the prevailing innocence, good nature, industry, felicity, and cheerfulness of the greater part of mankind. Let never so many thousands or millions of acts of honesty, good nature, &c. be supposed; yet, by the supposition, there is an unfailing propensity to such moral evil, as in its dreadful