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were any otherwise involved in his crime and guilt than that human nature was originally and entirely corrupted in consequence of his apostacy. The first parents being sinful, frail, mortal, and miserable, such are their offspring. The doctrine of a real transfer of character, and imputation of guilt, over and above all this, would suppose “ the childrens' teeth to be set on edge” with a vengeance. Yet volumes have been written to make it out; absurdities have been heaped upon absurdities: thousands of pages have been written to show that we all acted in Adam; and men have strained their eyes to see how that could be, till they became bloodshot-nay, even blind. And they remind me of Erasmus' story of seven men, who went to take a ride, one clear fine day, with Poole. As they were riding along the road, Poole, to make himself sport, looked up into the heavens, and suddenly crossing himself in pretended surprise, declared he saw in the sky a monstrous dragon with fiery horns, and his tail turned up into a circle. They all, very much astonished at the declaration, looked up, but saw nothing. “Can't you see it," continued Poole, “ It is there? You must certain. . ly be blind. Amazing! How terrible it looks. Don't you see it yet? Oh! I never saw such a sight in all my life before. You certainly must see it." In short, after awhile, one, a little more credulous than the rest, said, I think I do see it. Yes, yes, I see it plainly. At this, another fancied he saw it. And, says Erasmus, some, by force of imagination, others, fearing they should be thought less sharp-sighted than the rest, confessed they saw it: and they soon all came in, without a dissenting voice. The next day a particular account of the prodigy was published in the papers, authenticated by the testimony of six or seven credible men.
To candid, unprejudiced men, I shall use but one argument to prove we did not act in Adam; and that is, because we did not exist till long after Adam left the world.
DEPRAVITY consists in the want of holiness, or, if you please, Jove of siv; and has no connexion, strictly speaking, with a man's ability to do right or to do wrong. In this sense I consider mankind by nature as totally depraved, for they have no love to God, to his law, or government, or gospel. They have no incapacity to do right but what arises from their love to do wrong; there is no bar in the way of their doing their whole duty, but their disinclination to do it. Their love of sin, though voluntary, is so decided and uniform, their disinclination to obey God, though free, is so determined and strong, that some have been pleased, for the sake of distinction, to term it a moral inability.
If it must be admitted as a perfection and felicity, in any language when it is stored with words and phrases fully adapted to express, without tedious circumlocution, the various ideas we may wish to convey, it surely cannot be denied that the phrase, moral inability, is both useful and necessary. If it be convenient to have a phrase which shall express, in a clear and simple manner, the impediment which arises from a strong disinclination to do a thing, or a voluntary determination not to do it, the phrase before us is convenient. I am unable to pluck the sun from his station in the heavens ; this is called a natural inability. I am unable to ascend a tower and throw myself down; this is a moral inability. And, using words according to their common and popular import, in the former of these cases there is a want of ability ; in the latter a want of will.
However the sinner's inability may be considered, whether natural or moral; whether in want of ability, or in want of will, one thing is certain, the above distinction exists, and has been recognised by the ablest, most perspicuous, and most classical wri. ters in our language, and probably in all languages. Indeed, there is not a day passes, there is scarcely an occurrence in which this phraseology is not adopted; and I am bold to say none use it oftener than those very persons who inveigh so bitterly against moral inability as an idle and useless distinction. Every body, learned and unlearned, old and young, uses the phrase, and under
stands it. Every one is in the habit of saying, when he feels an utter disinclination to do a thing, “ I cannot do it:" When he is determined not to do a certain act, “I cannot do it: I am unable to do it.” This phrase prevails in all sorts of business, on all occasions, in all books, and in all languages, and the man who condemns the distinction has nothing to shield him from the charge of dishonesty but incorrigible ignorance.
Now, no great stretch of metaphysics is necessary to perceive, that if it be proper for me to say I cannot do an act, merely because I am determined not to do it, it is proper also to call that a moral inability, to distinguish it from that inability which arises from want of power.
Having shown what I mean by a moral inability; having said, as I think, enough to put the adversaries of this distinction both to silence and to shame, I now proceed to observe, in brief, that mankind labour under no other kind of inability to perform the whole duty which God requires of them. In proof of this, had I time, I might quote almost the entire volume of Scripture. Were a hundred prisoners chained, like Baron Trenck, by massy Jinks and staples to the floor and walls of their prison, should a man go into the prison and begin to exhort them to hasten out without delay ; what would they think of him ? they would take him either for a ty rant come to insult their helplessness, or for a madman or an ideot; and they would reply to his exhortation, do you not see these chains ? why do you insult us?
An exhortation or command to do a duty, always implies a belief in the one who exhorts, that he, to wbom the exhortation is given, is capable of doing the duty enjoined upon him. If this great principle be denied, the plainest dictates of common sense and justice are abolished and done away, and the Bible becomes a book of riddles and contradictions. It is, indeed, such gross perversion of the plainest dictates of reasor:, justice, and common sense, that has filled all christendom with infidels, atheists, and apostates ;~that has shrouded the Christian church with darkness-filled her with impurity and rottenness, and sinitten her with decline and consumption.
A great part of the Bible is made up of exhortations, persuasions, and commands to mankind, to forsake their sins, and to
love and obey God. But a set of preachers come forward and employ a large portion of all their sermons in persuading people that they capoot do any of these things, which God, and his prophets and apostles have exhorted and commanded them to do, any more than they can pluck the sun from the heavens. And when one endeavours to relieve the difficulty, by showing that their inability is only of the moral kind, consisting in want of will, and not of power, an outcry is raised, he is hooted and scouted as an Arminian, and the people assured, over and over again, that their inability is a true and natural incapacity, or want of power.
Every one knows that universal assent, (“ quod est norma loquendi,”) has rendered it as proper for me to say, I cannot throw myself into a furnace, or from a precipice, as it is to say, I cannot overturn a mountain. But these “cannots” are of a very different character-one is a mere want of will, the other is a total want of power. What rational ground of objection is there to calling one a natural, the other a moral inability? The distinction is clear-it is easily perceived—it is useful; for, in fact, none is more used; it is necessary, because no other simple phrase can express it. Who does not perceive how it alters the case, whether a man is prevented from doing his duty by want of will, or by want of power? And, I add, this distinction applies to one of the most important doctrines of religion. Yet these triangular divines cannot perceive it: but their cannot is a will not. And how difficult it is to make a man see what he will not; for none are so blind as those who will not see. If you even seize them by the shoulders, and turn tbem by main strength round towards the object, they will then turn away their face. But if you force their heads round in the direction, they will then shut their eyes; force open their eyelids, and they will roll away their eyeballs.
'The violent opposition to tbis grand and obvious distinction arises from this, that, if once admitted, their scheme of depravity is overthrown. Their successful opposition is, to them, worth as much as victory.
The scripture writers wrote long before modern controversies had given a technical meaning to half the terms in theology ; long before the church had been dressed up in the stays of Aristotle, or tricked out in rags, ribands, and fringes of oriental philosophy. They stood in no fear of the pedantic square and compasses of the learned Dr. Buckram. Their style, though bold and figurative, was free and popular, and easy to be understood. Indeed, as to the great doctrines of religion, it is easy to be understood by us, at this distant day, except where covered by the cobwebs of biblical critics, and entangled by the bewildered and bewildering brains of learned theorists, who sit plodding in their studies, till they become enveloped in clouds and vapours, and are fairly led into the great, great dismal, by an ignis fatuus; or, like one of the most learned and best of men, imagine themselves a teapot.
It is impossible to follow the strain of exhortation which flows unceasingly through the Old and New Testament, and not perceive that it was given on the full persuasion and assurance that men are fully able to do what they are exhorted to do; that their only impediment lies in the will, and is, of course, their crime; whereas, if it lay in want of power, it would be their ex
But I am mortified, I blush for human nature, that it is necessary to insist on this point. That it should ever have been doubted is full proof of moral depravity--of wilful blindness.
Those who insist on a true and natural inability in the sinner to obey God, furnish him with the best excuse imaginable; for he will say, I cannot do right, and, therefore, I am not to blame. Whereas, those who lay all the blame on the will, devest him of all excuse, and effectually convince him of criminality. And this is probably the clue to that faming zeal to abolish the distinction of moral inability evinced by many, and the readiness to embrace the doctrine of these teachers, by a still greater number. While paying, as they imagine, a profound compliment to the sbrine of humility, they find their pride and sloth sufficiently gratified.
But the advocates and disseminators of error have generally sterner and more cogent motives, than are intrinsical to their system, otherwise their mighty structures would soon crumble to their foundation, and vanish "into air--thin air." These motives grow out of their particular circumstances: in short, they