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and the experience of all past generations, of the uncertainty of life, and its enjoyments? Psalm xlix. 11, &c. “ Their ioward thought is, that their houses shall continue forever. .... Nevertheless, man being in honor, abideth not : He is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly, yet their posterity approve their sayings. Like sheep are they laid in the grave."
In these things, men that are prudent for their temporal interest, act as if they were bereft of reason : « They have eyes, and see not ; ears, and hear not ; neither do they understand : They are like the horse and mule, that have no understanding." Jer. viii. 7. “ The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming ; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord."
These things are often mentioned in scripture, as evidences of extreme folly and stupidity, wherein men act the part of enemies to themselves, as though they loved their own ruin; Prov. viii. 36. “Laying wait for their own blood.” Prov. j. 18. And how can these things be accounted for, but by supposing a most wretched depravity of nature? Why otherwise should not men be as wise for themselves in spiritual and eternal things, as in temporal ?' All Christians will confess that man's faculty of reason was given him chiefly to enable him to understand the former, wherein his main interest, and true happiness consists. This faculty would therefore undoubtedly be every way as fit for the understanding of them, as the latter, if not depraved. The reason why these are understood, and not the other, is not that such things as have been mentioned, belonging to men's spiritual eternal interest, are more obscure and abstruse in their own nature. For instance, the difference between long and short, the need of providing for futurity, the importance of improving proper opportunities, and of having good security, and a sure foun-. dation, in affairs wherein our interest is greatly concerned, &c. these things are as plain in themselves in religious matters, as in other matters. And we have far greater means to assist us to be wise for ourselves in eternal, than in temporal
things. We have the abundant instruction of perfect and infinite wisdom itself, to lead and conduct us in the paths of righteousness, so that we may not err. And the reasons of things are most clearly, variously, and abundantly set before us in the word of God; which is adapted to the faculties of mankind, tending greatly to enlighten and convince the mind : Whereas we have no such excellent and perfect rules to instruct and direct us in things pertaining to our temporal interest, nor any thing to be compared to it.
If any should say, it is true, if men gave full credit to what they are told concerning eternal things, and these appeared to them as real and certain things, it would be an evidence of a sort of madness in them, that they shew no greater regard to them in practice ; but there is reason to think, this is not the case, the things of another world being unseen things, appear to men as things of a very doubtful nature, and attended with great uncertainty. In answer, I would observe, agreeably to what has been cited from Mr. Locke, though eternal things were considered in their bare possibility, if men acted rationally, they would infinitely outweigh all temporal things in their influence on their hearts. And I would also observe, that the supposing eternal things not to be fully believed, at least by them who enjoy the light of the gospel, does not weaken, but rather strengthen the argument for the depravity of nature. For the eternal world being what God had chiefly in view in the creation of men, and the things of this world being made to be wholly subordinate to the other, man's state here being only a state of probation, preparation, and progression, with respect to the fuiure state, and so eternal things being in effect men's all, their whole concern ; to understand and know which, it chiefly was, that they had understanding given them; and it concerning them infinitely more to know the truth of eternal things than any other, as all that are not infidels will own ; therefore we may undoubtedly conclude, that if men have not respect to them a's real and certain things, it cannot be for want of sufficient evidence of their truth, to induce them so to regard them ; especially as to them that live under that light, which God
has appointed as the most proper exhibition of the nature and evidence of these things ; but it must be from a dreadful slupidity of mind, occasioning a sottish insensibility of their truth and importance, when manifested by the clearest evidence.
That Man's nature is corrupt, appears in that vastly the greater
part of mankind, in all ages, have been wicked Men.
THE depravity of man's nature appears, not only in its propensity to sin in some degree, which renders a man an evil or wicked man in the eye of the law, and strict justice, as was before shewn ; but it is so corrupt, that its depravity either shews that men are, or tends to make them to be, of such an evil character, as shall denominate hem wicked men, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace.
This may be argued from several things which have been already observed ; as from a tendency to continual sin, a tendency to much greater degrees of sin than righteousness, and from the general extreme stupidity of mankind. But yet the present state of man's nature, as implying or tending to a wicked character, may be worthy to be more particularly considered, and directly proved. And in general, this appears in that there have been so very few in the world, from age to age, ever since the world has stood, that have been of any other character.
It is abundantly evident in scripture, and is what I suppose none that call themselves Christians will deny, that the whole world is divided into good and bad, and that all mankind at the day of judgment will either be approved as righteous, or condemned as wicked ; either glorified as children of the kingdom, or cast into a furnace of fire, as children of the wicked one.
I need not stand to shew what things belong to the character of such as shall hereafter be accepted as righteous, according to the word of God. It may be sufficient for my present purpose, to observe what Dr. Taylor himself speaks of, as belonging essentially to the character of such. In p. 203, he says, “ This is infallibly the character of true Christians, and what is essential to such, that they have really mortified the flesh with its lusis ; they are dead to sin, and live no longer therein ; the old man is crucified, and the body of sin destroyed ; they yield themselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and their members as instruments of righteousness to God, and as servants of righteousness to ho. liness.” There is more to the like purpose in the two next pages. In p. 228, he says, " Whatsoever is evil and corrupt in us, we ought to condemn; not so, as it shall still remain in us, that we may always be condemning it, but that we may speedily reform, and be effectually delivered from it ; other. wise certainly we do not come up to the character of the true disciples of Christ.”
In page 248, he says, “ Unless God's favor be preferred before all other enjoyments whatsoever, unless there be a delight in the worship of God, and in converse with him, unless every appetite be brought into subjection to reason and truth, and unless there be a kind and benevolent disposition towards our fellow creatures, how can the mind be fit to dwell with God, in his house and family, to do him service in his kingdom, and to promote the happiness of any part of his creation.” And in his Key, § 286, page 101, 102, &c. shewing there, what it is to be a true Christian, he says among other things, " That he is one who has such a sense and persuasion of the love of God in Christ, that he devotes his life to the honor and service of God, in hope of eternal glory. And . that to the character of a true Christian, it is absolutely neces. sary that be diligently study the things that are freely given him of God, viz. his election, regeneration, &c. that he may gain a just knowledge of those inestimable privileges, may taste that the Lord is gracious, and rejoice in the gospel salvation, as his greatest happiness and glory. It is necessary
that he work these blessings on his heart, till they become a vital principle, producing in him the love of God, engaging him to all cheerful obedience to his will, giving him a proper dignity and elevation of soul, raising him above the best and worst of this world, carrying his heart into heaven, and fixing his affections and regards upon his everlasting inheritance, and the crown of glory laid up for him there. Thus he is armed against all the temptations and trials resulting from any pleasure or pain, hopes or fears, gain or loss, in the present world. None of these things move him from a faithful discharge of any part of his duty, or from a firm attachment to truth and righteousness ; neither counts he his very life dear to him, that he may do the will of God, and finish his course with joy. In a sense of the love of God in Christ, he maintains daily communion with God, by reading and meditating on bis word. In a sense of his own infirmity, and the readiness of the divine favor to succor him, he daily addresses the throne of grace, for the renewal of spiritual strength, in assurance of obtaining it, through the one Mediator Christ Jesus. Enlightened and directed by the heavenly doctrine of the gospel,” &c. * • Now I leave it to be judged by every one that has any degree of impartiality, whether there be not sufficient grounds to think, from what appears every where, that it is but a very small part indeed, of the many myriads and millions which overspread this globe, who are of a character that in any wise answers these descriptions. However, Dr. Taylor insists that all nations, and every man on the face of the earth, have light and means sufficient to do the whole will of God, even they that live in the grossest darkness of paganism.
Dr. Taylor in answer to arguments of this kind, very imi pertinenily from time to limc objects, that we are no judges
of the viciousness of men's characters, nor are able to decide : in what degree they are virtuous or vicious. As though we
* What Dr. Turnbull says of the character of a good man, is also worthy to be observed, Christian Philosophy, p. 86, 258, 259, 288, 375, 376, 409, 1:01