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served the character which the prophet gave him. “ Is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing ?” And Jehu, when he cut off the house of Ahab, and destroyed the worshipers of Baal, would have felt himself abused, to be told that he was actuated by the love of praise. When the rulers of the Jews were charged with murdering the Lord of life and glory, though they had done this very deed, thought Peter a slanderer, in his attempt to bring this blood upon them. So Saul of Tarsus supposed that he was doing God service, while persecuting to death the disciples of the Lord Jesus. Thus may men act from the very worst of motives, and yet suppose them the very best. They do not consider it important to know what their designs are, and have not that familiarity with their hearts that would render it easy to discover. And thus they are led to controvert the truth, and quarrel with God, his word, and his ministers, who all give them the very character they have.
III. The doctrine of the text is often controverted to support schemes with which this sentiment would not compare. The sinner's entire depravity, is a fundamental doctrine, on which there can be built only one, and that the gospel system. Make this doctrine true, and it sweeps away, as with the besom of destruction, every creed but one from the face of the world. It settles the question, that God may righteously execute his law upon all unregenerate men ; that “ by the deeds of the law there shall -no flesh be justified;" that the doings of unregenerate men are unholy; that even repentance will not take away the curse that has lit, and must rest, upon the man who has not continued in all the things written in the book of the law to do them ; that an atonement, such as God has provided, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, is the only medium through which we can purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God. It further decides the question, that men will not seek after Godthat he must be found of them that sought him not, must give repentance unto life, must take away the heart of stone and give a heart of flesh; that in the regenerate he must work, to will and to do of his own good pleasure ; and finally, that he must be an Almighty Saviour, who could redeem beings so lost, and put them back again into the favour of a justly offended God.
Thus it is only one scheme of truths that this doctrine will support; the faith once delivered to the saints. If men depart from the truth, as we are told they shall in these last days, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, they must thus come into close and comfortless contact with a doctrine, which if true, gives the lie to all their false and delusive schemes. Hence we wonder not that “the foe of God and man, issuing from his dark den,” has here displayed, in every age of Zions conflict, his
mightiest chieftainship. Here must be the edge of battle, in every conflict between the gospel, and the systems invented by men ; between the friends and the foes of truth. This is the fortress that has been taken and retaken ten thousand times, where has been tried the prowess of God's people, and his enemies ; where has been displayed the power of God, and been put to the test the endurance of his elect, in all the ages that have gone by.
IV. This doctrine has been controverted through the pride of the human heart. Depravity is a most degrading doctrine, and entire depravity intollerable, . till the heart has been humbled by the grace of God. There is in apostate men great pride of character. We would all be considered friendly to what is good and great, and such is God, even in the profession of the most depraved;. such is his law, and such is his government. With the promptness, with which we fly the touch of fire, does pride resist imputation. Hence enquires the unregenerate man, Would you deny me the credit of loving my Creator, Preserver and Benefactor ? Do I never obey his law, or do a deed from motives that please him ? And is there, among my noblest actions of kindness to men, nothing that amounts to love? In my gladness for the good things that God bestows, is there not a shred of gratitude ? in my admiration of his perfections, and his works, no love ? in my belief of his word, no faith? in my expectation of heaven, no
hope ? in my sorrow for sin, no repentence ? in my endurance of adverse events, no submission ? and in my gentleness and condescension, no humility ? Are my prayers sin, and my sacrifices abomination? Do I thus, on all occasions, break the first and great commandment of the law ? and on all occasions the second also ? In all my noble generosity, is there no benevolence ? in my soft deportment, no meekness? and in my tears for the miserable, no pious sympathy ? Must every deed I do have the same moral deformity ? and God hate me, and his law condemn me, when I follow the kindest dictates of that nature he has given me ?
Thus men feel, that if this doctrine be true, it goes to defame and ruin their character. It makes them go astray soon as they are born, speaking lies. It makes their righteousness as filthy rags. When they have washed themselves in snow-water, and made their hands never so clean ; this doctrine, with ruthless hand, plunges them in the ditch, and their own clothes abhor them. When they industriously provide for their household, they are aceused of loving the world, while the love of the Father is not in them. When they would go to the sanctuary, and pay their vows, there they hear from heaven, “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth?
Thus, at every point, this doctrine comes in, to mar their reputation, and make them hypocrites,
and cover them with shame and blushing. Hence the Jehovah, who will give men this character, may reign in other hearts; and the bible, that will teach this doctrinė, may lie neglected; and the ministry that will publish it, may starve; and the cringing multitude, who will believe it, may herd together, and together sink into the contempt they covet. Thús God is treated, and thus his word, and thus his ministers, and thus his people, because they maintain a doctrine, the sinner's disgust at which, establishes beyond the possibility of doubt, or the danger of mistake. It so degrades the characters of men, that they will not believe it, if they perish contradicting it.
I could offer other reasons, why this doctrine has been so frequently assailed, but shall proceed to offer some reasons for esteeming it a very important doctrine.
1. The fact, that it is plainly revealed, testifies to its importance. God would not have cumbered his word with a doctrine of no value. If we find it there, who will venture to deny its importance ? and if not there, how does it happen, that those are its warmest advocates, who are most familiar with the bible, and mosti ready to regard" its dictates? The context contains a very dark review of man's native character: and it would be infidelity to suppose it too highly coloured. “There is none righetous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth,