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tion, learned and ignorant, are free, and therefore they may agree in acting wickedly, if they please (though they do not consult together.) Men in all ages are free, and therefore men in one age may all agree with men in every other age in wickedness, if they please, (though they do not know how men in other ages have acted) &c. &c. Let every one judge whether such an account of things can satisfy reason. Evasion 3. It is said by many of the opposers of the doctrine of Original Sin, that the corruption of the world of mankind may be owing, not to a depraved nature, but to bad example. And I think we must understand Dr. Taylor as having respect to the powerful influence of bad instruction and example, when he says, p. 118. “The Gentiles, in thcir heathen state, when incorporated into the body of the Gentile world, were without strength, unable to help or recover themselves.” And in several other places to the like purpose. If there was no depravity of nature, what else could there be but bad instruction and example, to hinder the heathen world, as a collective body, (for as such Dr. Taylor speaks of them, as may be seen p. 117, 118) from emerging out of their corruption, on the rise of each new generation 3 As to their bad instruction, our author insists upon it, that the heathen, notwithstanding all their disadvantages, had sufficient light to know God, and do their whole duty to him, as we have observed from time to time. Therefore it must be chiefly bad example, that we must suppose, according to him, rendered their case helpless. Now concerning this way of accounting for the corruption of the world, by the influence of bad example, I would observe the following things: o, 1. It is accounting for the thing by the thing itself. It is accounting for the corruption of the world by the corruption of the world. For, that bad examples are general all over the world to be followed by others, and have been so from the beginning, is only an instance, or rather a description of that corruption of the world which is to be accountcd for. If mankind are naturally no more inclined to evil than good, then how comes there to be so many more bad examples than good ones, in all ages? And if there are not, how come the bad examples that are set, to be so much more fol. lowed than the good? If the propensity of man's nature be not to evil, how comes the current of general example, every where, and at all times, to be so much to evil And when opposition has been made by good examples, how comes it to pass that it has had so little effect to stem the stream of general wicked practice 2 I think from the brief account the scripture gives us of the behavior of the first parents of mankind, the expressions of their faith and hope in God's mercy revealed to them, we have reason to suppose, that before ever they had any children, they repented, and were pardoned, and became truly pious. So that God planted the world at first with a noble vine ; and at the beginning of the generations of mankind, he set the stream of example the right way. And we see, that children are more apt to follow the example of their parents, than of "any others ; especially in early youth, their forming time, when those habits are generally contracted, which abide by them all their days. And besides, Adam's children had no other examples to follow, but those of their parents. How therefore came the stream so soon to turn, and to proceed the eontrary way, with so violent a current 2 Then, when mankind became so universally and desperately corrupt, as not to be fit to live on earth any longer, and the world was every where full of bad examples, God destroyed them all at once, but only righteous Noah, and his family, to remove those bad examples, and that the world of mankind might be planted again with good example, and the stream again turned the right way: How therefore came it to pass, that Noah's posterity did not follow his good example, especially when they had such extraordinary things to enforce his example, but so generally, even in his life time, became so exceeding corrupt: One would think, the first generations at least, while all lived together as one family, under Noah, their venerable Father, might have followed his good example; and if they had done so, then, when the earth came to be divided in Peleg's time, the heads of the several families would have set out their particular colonies with good examples, and the stream would have been turned the right way in all the various divisions, colonies, and nations of the world. But we see verily the fact was, that in about fifty years after Noah's death, the world in general was overrun with dreadful corruption; so that all virtue and goodness were like soon to perish from among mankind, unless something extraordinary should be done to prevent it. Then, for a remedy, God separated Abraham and his family from all the rest of the world, that they might be delivered from the influence of bad example, that, in his posterity, he might have an holy seed. Thus God again planted a noble vine; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob being eminently pious. But how soon did their posterity degenerate, till true religion was like to be swallowed up 2 We see how desperately, and almost universally corrupt they were, when God brought them out of Egypt, and led them in the wilderness. Then God was pleased, before he planted his people in Canaan, to destroy that perverse generation in the wilderness, that he might plant them there a noble vine, wholly a right seed, and set them out with good example, in the land where they were to have their settled abode. Jer. ii. 21. It is evident, that the generation which came with Joshua into Canaan, was an excellent generation, by innumerable things said of them.” But how soon did that people, nevertheless, become the degenerate filant of a strange vine * And when the nation had a long time proved themselves desperately and incurably corrupt, God destroyed them, and sent them into captivity, till the old rebels were dead and purged out, to deliver their children from their evil example; and when the following generation were purified as in a furnace, God planted them again, in the land of Israel, a noble vine, and set them out with good example ; which yet was
not followed by their posterity.
* See Jer, ii. 2, 3. Psal. lxviii. 14. Josh. xxii. 8, and xxiii. 8. Deut. iy. 3, 4, Hos. Xi. 1, and iz, 10. Judges ii. 7, 17, **, and many other places.
when again the corruption was become inveterate and despcrate, the Christian church was planted by a glorious outpouring of the Spirit of God, causing true virtue and piety to be exemplified in the first age of the church of Christ, far beyond whatever had becn on earth before ; and the Christian church was planted a noble vine. But that primitive good example has not prevailed, to cause virtue to be generally and steadfastly maintained in the Christian world: To how great a degree it has been otherwise, has already been observed. After many ages of general and dreadful apostasy, God was pleased to erect the Protestant church, as separated from the more corrupt part of Christendom ; and true piety flourished very much in it at first; God planted it a noble vine : But, notwithstanding the good examples of the first reformers, what a melancholy pass is the Protestant world come to at this day 2 When England grew very corrupt, God brought over a number of pious persons, and planted them in Newengland, and this land was planted with a noble vine. But how is the gold become dim . How greatly have we forsaken the pious examples of our fathers | So prone have mankind always proved themselves to degeneracy, and bent to backsliding. Which shews plainly their natural propensity; and that when good has revived, and been promoted among men, it has been by some divine interposition, to oppose the natural current; the fruit of some extraordinary means, the cfficacy of which has soon been overcome by constant, natural bias, and the effect of good example presently lost, and evil has regained and maintained the dominion: Like an heavy body, which may by some great power be caused to ascend, against its nature, a little while, but soon goes back again towards the centre, to which it naturally and constantly tends. So that evil example will in no wise account for the corruption of mankind, without supposing a natural proneness to sin. The tendency of example alone will not account for general wicked practice, as consequent on good example. And if the influence of bad example is a reason of some of the wickedness that is in the world, that alone will not account for men's becoming worse than the example set, and degenerating more and more, and growing worse and worse, which has been the manner of mankind. 2. There has been given to the world an example of virtue, which, were it not for a dreadful depravity of nature, would have influence on them that live under the gospel, far beyond all other examples; and that is, the example of Jesus - Christ. God, who knew the human nature, and how apt men are to be influenced by example, has made answerable provision. His infinite wisdom has contrived that we should have set before us the most amiable and perfect example, in such circumstances, as should have the greatest tendency to influence all the principles of man's nature, but his corruption. Men are apt to be moved by the example of others like themselves, or in their own nature; therefore this example was given in our nature. Men are ready to follow the example of the great and honorable; and this example, though it was of one in our nature, yet it was of one infinitely higher and more honorable than kings or angels. A people are apt to follow the example of their prince : This is the example of that glorious person, who stands in a peculiar relation to Christians, as their Lord and King, the Supreme Head of the church; and not only so, but the King of kings, Supreme Head of the Universe, and head over all things to the church. Children are apt to follow the example of their parents : This is the example of the Author of our Being, and one who is in a peculiar and extraordinary manner our Father, as he is the Author of our Holy and happy Being; besides his being the Creator of the world, and everlasting Father of the Universe. Men are very apt to follow the example of their friends: The example of Christ is of one that is infinitely our greatest friend, standing, in the most endearing relations of our Brother, Redeemer, Spiritual Head and Husband; whose grace and love expressed to us, transcends all other love and friendship, as much as heaven is higher than the earth. And then the virtues and acts of his example were exhibited to us in the most VoI. VI. 2 F