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could have no good grounds to judge, that any thing apper. taining to the qualities or properties of the mind, which is invisible, is general or prevailing among a multitude or collective body, unless we can determine how it is with each individual. I think I have sufficient reason, from what I know and have heard of the American Indians, to judge, that there are not many good philosophers among them; thougi the thoughts of their hearts, and the ideas and knowledge they have in their minds, are things invisible; and though I have never seen so much as a thousandth part of the Indians ; and with respect to most of them, should not be able to pronounce peremptorily concerning any one, that he was not very knowing in the nature of things, if all should singly pass before me. And Dr. Taylor himself seems to be sensible of the falseness of his own conclusions, that he so often urges against others; if we may judge by his practice, and the liberties he takes, in judging of a multitude himself. He, it seems, is sensible that a man may have good grounds to judge, that wickedness of character is general in a collective body ; be- . cause he openly does it himself. ( Key, p. 102.) After declaring the things which belong to the character of a true Christian, he judges of the generality of Christians, that they have cast off these things, that they are a people that do err in their hearts, and have not known God's ways. P. 259, he judges that the generality of Christians are the most wicked of all mankind ; when he thinks it will throw some disgrace on the opinion of such as he opposes. The like we have from time to time in other places, as p. 168, p. 258. Key, p. 127, 128.
But if men are not sufficient judges, whether there are few of the world of mankind but what are wicked, yet doubtless God is sufficient, and his judgment, often declared in his word, determines the matter. Matth. vii. 13, 14. “ Enter ye in at the strait gate ; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that Icadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat : Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it.” It is manifest, that here Christ is not only describing the state of things, as it was at that day, and does not mention the comparative
smallness of the number of them that are saved, as a consequence of the peculiar perverseness of that people, and of that generation ; but as a consequence of the general circumstances of the way to life, and the way to destruction, the broadness of the one, and the narrowness of the other. In the strairness of the gate, &c. I suppose none will deny, that Christ has respect to the strictness of those rules, which he had insisted on in the preceding sermon, and which render the way to life very difficult to mankind. But certainly these amiable rules would not be difficult, were they not contrary to the natural inclinations of men's hearts; and they would not be contrary to those inclinations, were these not depraved. Consequently the wideness of the gate, and broadness of the way, that leads to destruction, in consequence of which many go in thereat, must imply the agreeableness of this way to men's natural inclinations. · The like reason is given by Christ, why few are saved. Luke xiii. 23, 24. “ Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few saved? And he said unto them, strive to enter in at the strait gate: For many I say anto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” That there are generally but few good men in the world, even among them that have those most distinguishing and glori. ous advantages for it, which they are favored with, that live under the gospel, is evident by that saying of our Lord, from time to time in his mouth, many are called, but few are chosen. And if there are but few among these, how few, how very few indeed, must persons of this character be, compared with the whole world of mankind ? The exceeding smallness of the number of true saints, compared with the whole world, appears by the representations often made of them as distinguished from the world ; in which they are spoken of as call. ed and chosen out of the world, redeemed from the earth, redeemed from among men ; as being those that are of God, while the whole world lieth in wickedness, and the like. And if we look into the Old Testament, we shall find the same testimony given. Prov. xx. 6. “ Most men will proclaim every man his own goodness : But a faithful man who can find ?” By a faithful man, as the phrase is used in scripture,
is intended much the same as a sincere, upright, or truly good man; as in Psal. xii. 1, and xxxi. 23, and ci. 6, and oth, er places. Again, Eccl. vii. 25....29. “I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to find out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness : And I find more bitter than death, the woman whose heart is snares, &c.... Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account, which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not : One man among a thousand have I found ; but a woman among all these have I not found. Lo, this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” Solomon here signifies, that when he set himself diligently to find out the account or proportion of true wisdom, or thorough uprightness among men, the result was, that he found it to be but as one to a thousand, &c. Dr. Taylor on this place, p. 184, says, “ The wise man in the context, is inquiring into the corruption and depravity of mankind, of the men and women, that lived in his time." As though what he said represented nothing of the state of things in the world in general, but only in his time. But does Dr. Taylor or any body else, suppose this only to be the design of that book, to represent the vanity and evil of the world in that time, and to shew that all was vanity and vexation of spirit in Solomon's day? (Which day truly we have reason to think, was a day of the greatest smiles of heaven on that nation, that ever had been on any nation from the foundation of the world.) Not only does the subject and argument of the whole book shew it to be otherwise ; but also the declared design of the book in the first chapter; where the world is represented as very much the same, as to the vanity and evil it is full of, from age to age, making little or no progress, after all its revolutions and restless inotions, labors and pursuits, like the sea, that has all the rivers constantly emptying themselves into it, from age 10 age, and yet is never the fuller. As to that place, Prov. xx. 6. « A faithful man, who can find ?” There is no more reason to suppose that the wise man has respect only to his time, in these words, than in those immediately preccding,
counsel in the heart of a man is like deep waters ; but a man of understanding will draw it out. Or in the words next following, The just man walketh in his integrity : His children are blessed after him. Or in any other Proverb in the whole book. And if it were so, that Solomon in these things meant only to describe is own times, it would not at all weaken the argument. For, if we observe the history of the Old Testament, there is reason to think there never was any time from Joshua to the captivity, wherein wickedness was more restrained, and virtue and religion more encouraged and promoted, than in David's and Solomon's times. And if there was so little true piety in that nation that was the only people of God under heaven, even in their very best times, what may we suppose concerning the world in general, take one time with another?
Notwithstanding what some authors advance concerning the prevalence of virtuc, honesty, good neighborhood, cheerfulness, &c. in the world ; Solomon, whom we may justly esteem as wise and just an observer of human nature, and the state of the world of mankind, as most in these days (besides, Christians ought to remember, that he wrote by divine inspiratior) judged the world to be so full of wickedness, that it was better never to be born, than to be born to live only in such a world. Eccles. iv, at the beginning. “ So I returned and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun; and behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter : And on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore, I praised the dead, which were already dead, more than the living, which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been; who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.” Surely it will not be said that Solomon has only respect to his times here too, when he speaks of the oppressions of them that were in power ; since he himself, and others appointed by him, and wholly under his control, were the men that were in power in that land, and in almost all the neighboring countries.
The same inspired writer says, Eccles. ix. 3. « The heart of the sons of men is full of evil; and madness is in their heart while they live ; and after that they go to the dead." If these general expressions are to be understood only of some, and those the less part, when in general, truth, honesty, good nature, &c. govern the world, why are such general expressions from time to time used? Why does not this wise and noble, and great soul'd Prince express himself in a more generous and benevolent strain, as well as more agreeable to truth, and say, Wisdom is in the hearts of the sons of men while they live, &c.... instead of leaving in his writings so many sly, illnatured suggestions, which pour such contempt on the human nature, and tend so much to excite mutual jealousy and malevolence, to taint the minds of mankind through all generations after him?
If we consider the various successive parts and periods of the duration of the world, it will, if possible, be yet more evident, that vastly the greater part of mankind have, in all ages, been of a wicked character. The short accounts we have of Adam and his family are such as lead us to suppose, that far the greatest part of his posterity in his life time, yea, in the former part of his life were wicked. It appears, that his eldest son, Cain, was a very wicked man, who slew his righteous brother Abel. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years before Seth was born ; and by that time, we may suppose, his posterity began to be considerably numerous : When he was born, his mother called his name Scth; for God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel. Which naturally suggests this to our thoughts; that of all her seed then existing, none were of any such note for religion and virtue, as that their parents could have any great comfort in them, or expectation from them on that account. And by the brief history we have, it looks as if (however there might be some intervals of a revival of religion, yet) in the general, mankind grew more and more corrupt till the food. It is signified, that whon men began to multiply on the face of the earth, wickedness prevailed exceedingly, Gen. vi, at the be. ginning. And that before God appeared to Noah, to com. Vol. VI.