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tion, and provided a Savior for them. Christ said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” To execute this gracious design, Christ declares, “ he came to seek and save them that are lost.” According to these infallible declarations, the native depravity of mankind lies at the foundation of christianity. It is as necessary to believe this doctrine, as to believe the gospel ; and it is as important to maintain this doctrine, as to maintain the gospel. If any one doctrine of the gospel may be said to be more fundamental, essential and important than another, it is the doctrine of the NATIVE DEPRAVITY of all mankind, without a single exception. In this important light, it has been viewed, believed and defended in every age of the christian Church. And it is as important now as ever it was, to believe, to approve and to defend this humiliating doctrine. For the denial of it directly tends to corrupt the hearts and destroy the souls of men, and to subvert every other fundamental doctrine of the gospel . It is well known, that there is a tendency in those, who deny the doctrine of the native de pravity of all mankind, to deny the doctrine of the atonement, the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of regeneration, the doctrine of election, the doctrine of eternal punishment and the doctrine of the plenary inspiration of the scriptures. When all these doctrines are exploded from the gospel, is there one peculiar, or essential doctrine left ? I would not be understood to assert, that every one, who denies the doctrine of native depravity, runs all these lengths in error. Some are not capable of seeing the connection between one error and another. Some are too indolent to trace the connection. And
sónie stop short, through fear of plunging into the abyss of gross infidelity. But this is no evidence, that the denial of native depravity does not naturally tend to lead men into all the fatal errors, which have been mentioned. It is extremely important, therefore, that the doctrine of native depravity should be plainly taught, properly explained and firmly supported, to guard men against an approximation towards the errors, which are zealously propagated, by those who lie in wait to deceive and destroy. It is one evidence of native depravity, that mankind so generally love error better than truth. This led Christ to tell those who rejected the doctrines he taught, “Ye believe not, because I tell you the truth.”
6. If all men are by nature depraved ; then all sin. ners are in a very guilty and dangerous condition. They have always been totally destitute of the least degree of true holiness. They have never had the love of God in them, nor ever exercised one right affection towards him, or any other object ; but every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts has been evil, only evil continually. They began to sin as soon as they were capable of sinning and have continued sinning without interruption, through every day and period of their lives. Their sins have been increasing from childhood to youth and from youth to manhood, in number, magnitude and aggravations. For they have misimproved and abused their time, their talents, their interests, their influence and all the means and
opportunities they have enjoyed of doing and getting good. All these evil things have flowed from the plague of their hearts or native depravity. God has been justly angry with them every day; and his wrath still abides upon them; yet nevertheless, they rush on the thick
bosses of his buckler. It is certainly of the Lord's mercies, that they have not been consumed. He has always been able to destroy them, while he has been waiting upon them, to be gracious to them. Have they not great reason to fear his patience is nearly exhausted and that there is but a step between them and temporal and eternal death? There is nothing but their criminal stupidity, that now prevents their seeing and realizing their guilty and deplorable condition.This stupidity would be immediately removed, if they would only shew themselves men, turn off their eyes from beholding vanities, and realize the plague of their own hearts and the dreadful effects which have flowed from it, through the whole course of their past lives. Why then do they not look into their own hearts and realize their guilty and perishing condition? The faulty cause is their native depravity, which blinds their understanding and sears their conscience. But,
7. It appears from what has been said concerning their native depravity, that it affords no excuse for their past transgression, and is no obstacle in the way of their immediately performing the gracious and condescending conditions of salvation. Their native depravity does not consist in any corrupt nature or dormant principle entailed upon them by Adam, without their knowledge, desire, or consent; but it consists in their own free, voluntary exercises of selfishness, which is the essence of their criminality and admits of no excuse. They did not begin to sin, before they became free, moral agents.
Their first sinful exercises were as really criminal, as any of their past sinful exercises. They began to sin freely and voluntarily, as Adam did at first ; and they have al
ways continued to sin freely and voluntarily. The reason why they have not always loved God, is because they have hated him without a cause. The reason why they have not come to Christ, is because they would not come to him, that they might have life.--Such free, voluntary enmity to God and to Christ, is unspeakably criminal and admits of no excuse; and is the very thing for which they deserve eternal death.--And of course, it lays them under no natural inability to love God supremely, or to believe in Christ immediately. They can act as freely in loving, as in hating God and in believing in Christ, as in rejecting him. They have no excuse for neglecting to do their first work, till a more convenient season. God now commands every one, who is in the state of nature, to put away his native depravity and immediately comply with the terms of mercy, which he has proposed in the gospel. He does not allow him to plead his old, obstinate heart as an excuse ; but requires him to put off the old man and put on the new and walk in newness of life the residue of his days. Life and death are now set before every one ; and his free choice must determine his eternal destiny.
I must not conclude this discourse, without applying it to parents in particular, who are deeply concerned in it, not merely on their own account, but more especially on account of their children. These are committed to their peculiar care and instruction. Notwithstanding their children have so many amiable natural qualities, which excite their most fond affections ; yet they are by nature depraved and children of wrath.--Their hearts are fully set in them to do evil and soon as possible, they go astray, speaking and acting wrong. They carry about with them evil hearts, which expose them to run into the paths of the destroyer, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience..-And it depends, under God, upon parents whether they shall avoid every evil and false way and pursue the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.--You do, in a very important sense, carry the temporal and eternal interests of your children in your own hands. And can you bear the thought, that they should perish forever, through your guilty negligence? God has required you to give up your children to him, and bring them up for him.
for him. It never more concerned parents to instruct and restrain their children faithfully, than at this day. All the duties of parents are very nearly connected ; but there seems to be a more visible connection between the duty and happiness of parents, in respect to their children than in respect to almost any other duty. If you neglect your duty to your children, your children will very probably correct you for your neglect, in ways that will pierce your hearts with the keenest sorrow and anguish.--But have you any reason to expect, that you shall take proper care of your children, if you do not take proper care of yourselves ? You must give God your hearts, before you can give your children to him, or expect that he will teach you to teach them. Will you for a moment, anticipate the tremendous consequences of neglecting yourselves and your children! Be entreated to avoid those tremendous consequences and resolve to do all in your power, to prepare yourselves and your children for the kingdom of glory.