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may be found to claim an exemption from the charge, on behalf of themselves, and two or three of their friends. Indeed, the belief of human depravity is absolutely necessary, to arm us against those numberless men of prey who prowl around us. Such has been the state of human so. ciety, and such it continues to be, that men, in ages the most distant from one another, in walks of life extremely different, and of religions the most opposite, have been obliged to admit the doctrine of human depravity, and have formed various hypotheses to account for it. The ancient philosophers had recourse to the doctrine of the pre-existence of our souls, in a purer state, from which they supposed them to have fallen, by the too eager pursuit of sensual pleasure, and, as a punishment, they supposed them doomed to inhabit bodies of a grosser nature. Their various systems of philosophy they proposed as effectual remedies, for the restoration of human nature to its original dignity. The poets pretended to account for the depravity of mankind, and the natural evils to which they were subject, by the fabulous story of a Prometheus, who stole fire from Heaven, and for the punishment of his theft, Jupiter, they said, sent a package of diseases, which being opened, the disorders flew out among mankind. Even the religion of the ancient Pagans carried on the face of it indisputable marks, that it considered men as a fallen race.
In many of its rites it was a religion of terror, which being associated with the consciousness of guilt, sought to appease the anger of its gods, with human victims. At this very day, a conviction of human depravity, and the dread of future vengeance, make innumerable multitudes in Asia, seek the forgiveness of their sins, by traversing deserts of burning sand, while with the bones of those before their eyes, who have fallen sacrifices to the same superstition.
One of the most indisputable evidences of the corruption and depravity of our nature, consists in those anxieties, disappointments, and alarms, to which every man is more or less subject. What cares corrode, what fears agitate, and what sense of the uncertainty of all human enjoyments do the most prosperous labour under, besides the bodily infirmities and pains, to which every man is heir! Now, it is certain that human happiness formed an essential part of the design of God, in the creation of man; and upon the review of all his works, God pronounced them to be very good. And yet, where is the man who is happy, whose life is unruffled by solicitude, undisturbed by the fear of change, or by danger, or exempted from bodily labour, and from bodily weakness, or pain? Why are even men of genius, and of strong intellectual vigour, forced to complain that “Man was made to mourn,” while they want that spiritual perception of Divine truth, which alone can teach them to read the cause of those evils of which they feel the effects ?* The Scripture in few words, accounts for the existence of this world of misery. “ All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Man never can taste the fountain of the water of life, till he is brought to drink that living water, which the Saviour has promised to give to those who believe in him.
Again, where has the man ever been found, who has been able to elude the stroke of death? But death, even in the natural sense of the word, is the consequence,
See a Poem by Mr. Burns, called "Man was made to Mouro."
though certainly not the most awful consequence, of sin. How shall we otherwise account for the diseases which, in every age, have made havoc of mankind, and hurried them into untimely graves ? How, otherwise, shall we explain and vindicate those inflictions of Providence, by which infants, who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, often suffer the most exquisite pangs of distress, or linger for years, the prey of consumption, and of gradual death? Review the history of the world, from the remotest period to which the records of human society extend, and you will find every page of it filled with lamentations, and mourning, and
You will find the impetuous passions of men dashing nation against nation, and embroiling one another in wars, interminable but with the ruin of one, or of both the contending parties : “ For every battle of the warrior is, with confused noise, and with garments rolled in blood.” Thus has society, in every age, been convulsed, and to the din of war have succeeded, the groans and sighs of the widow, and of the fatherless children. In our common rebellion against God, we have sown the seeds of our mutual dissensions and feuds, and when our peace with him was broken, the golden chain of our mutual harmony was snapped asunder. Examine also the history of religion, see the whole world, with the exception only of the family of Abraham, addicted to the most absurd idolaatry, turning, deliberately, away from the service of the God in whom they lived, and moved, and had their being, to fall down before stocks and stones, and to say to them, “ye are our gods.” Consider also, how great a majority of the human race still continue the slaves of the same abject superstition, and are drenched in all its miseries and crimes. Observe, too, how much more congenial the spirit of false religion is to the dispositions and feelings of the human mind, than the pure and exalted truths of the Gospel. Into the former, the minds of men easily and naturally slide, without any effort; but the other is the strait gate, and the narrow way, into which there is no entrance without striving. When you have examined these natural and moral phenomena, say, whether reason and experience do not, in unison with Christianity, pronounce that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Among the moral features of the human character, there is perhaps not one that more strongly marks the depravity of man, than his ingratitude for the blessings of Provi. dence. All men receive from God, life, and the things which are necessary to its preservation. But how seldom do men, in general, reflect upon these obligations, or feel the force of gratitude! The rich, who, of all others, receive the most, are generally the most insensible of the favours they receive from Heaven. That prosperity and affluence are the great corrupters of the mind of man, has long since been received into the number of proverbs, and has been the result of the observation, both of the sage, and of the peasant. Is it possible to say any thing worse of human nature than what this axiom carries in it; that the more God heaps his favours upon men, the more they are disposed to rebel against him, and to pervert the bounties of his goodness, to purposes directly the opposite of those for which they are bestowed ? Even the form of devotion is generally suffered to die in those families, whom God has most distinguished by his munificence. They have received so much from the hand of God, that in the multiplicity of his gifts, they have entirely forgotten Himself. If, from this general observation,
there are a few exceptions of men, whose piety to God, and whose expanded charities to their fellow-men, bear some proportion to the benefits they have received, it is to the reception of the grace of God in the Gospel, that this discriminating wisdom is to be ascribed.
Even upon the subject of the gratitude that man owes to man, how extremely defective does human nature generally appear! Existence and benefits received, make impressions far less strong and durable, than existence and benefits conferred; and the affection of children to their parents is seldom, if ever, so powerful a principle of feeling and of action, as the attachment of parents to their children. The God of nature has, by a secret instinct, planted the former affection in brutes, as well as in the souls of mankind, for the preservation of the different species of beings with which the earth is stocked. Nor need we wonder, if, in irrational animals, the remembrance of kindnesses received, should soon be worn out and effaced. But that man, a creature endued with reason, capable of reflecting upon the existence he has received ; on the tenderness and anxiety which watched o. ver his helpless years, and which sheltered him from every storm; on the care with which his little, but pressing wants were supplied ; and on the affection with which he was laboriously reared to a state of bodily and intellectual vigour; that, notwithstanding these things, man's impressions of the benefits he has received should be so feeble, and the memory of them so easily obliterated, as we generally see they are, prove the depravity of the heart, either by the total.want, or by the coldness, of human affections.
Of the corruption and depravity of human nature, the most powerful and convincing evidence to him who can