dreamers-and also in their dreaming, generally stumbled on the same individual monstrous opinions, and so the world might be blinded for a while-yet, why did they not hearken to that wise and great man, Pelagius, and others like him, when he plainly held forth the truth to the christian world? Especially seeing his instructions were so agreeable to the plain doctrines, and the bright and clear light of the gospel of Christ, and also so agreeable to the plainest dictates of the common sense and understanding of all mankind; but the other so repugnant to it, that (according to our author) if they were true, it would prove understanding to be no understanding, and the word of God to be no rule of truth, nor at all to be relied upon, and God to be a Being worthy of no regard!

Besides, if the inefficacy of the gospel to restrain sin and promote virtue be owing to the general prevalence of these doctrines, which are supposed to be so absurd and contrary to the gospel, here is this further to be accounted for; namely, Why, since there has been so great an increase of light in religious matters (as must be supposed on Dr. T.'s scheme) in this and the last age, and these monstrous doctrines of original sin, election, reprobation, justification, regeneration, &c. have been so much exploded, especially in our nation, there has been no reformation attending this great advancement of light and truth: But on the contrary, vice, and every thing opposite to practical christianity, has gone on to increase with such a prodigious celerity as to become like an overflowing deluge; threatening, unless God mercifully interposes, speedily to swallow up all that is virtuous and praiseworthy.

Many other things might have been mentioned under this head-the means which mankind have had to restrain vice and promote virtue-such as wickedness being many ways contrary to men's temporal interest and comfort, and their having con. tinually before their eyes so many instances of persons made miserable by their vices; the restraints of human laws, without which men cannot live in society; the judgments of God brought on men for their wickedness with which history abounds, and the providential rewards of virtue; and innumerable. particular means that God has used from age to age to curb the wickedness of mankind, which I have omitted. But there would be no end of a particular enumeration of such things. They that will not be convinced by the instances which have been mentioned, probably would not be convinced, if the world had stood a thousand times so long, and we had the most authentic and certain accounts of means having been used from the beginning, in a thousand times greater variety; and new dispensations had been introduced, after others had been tried in vain, ever so often, and still to little effect. He that will not be convinced by a thousand good witness48


es, it is not likely that he would be convinced by a thousand thousand.

The proofs that have been extant in the world, from trial and fact, of the depravity of man's nature, are inexpressible, and as it were infinite, beyond the representation of all similitude. If there were a piece of ground which abounded with briars and thorns, or some poisonous plant, and all mankind had used their endeavours, for a thousand years together, to suppress that evil growth—and to bring that ground by manure and cultivation, planting and sowing, to produce better fruit, all in vain; it would still be over-run with the same noxious growth-it would not be a proof that such a produce was agreeable to the nature of that soil, in any wise to be compared to that which is given in divine providence, that wickedness is a produce agreeable to the nature of the field of the world of mankind. For the means used with it have been various, great and wonderful, contrived by the unsearchable and boundless wisdom of God; medicines procured with infinite expense, exhibited with a vast apparatus; a marvellous succession of dispensations, introduced one after another, displaying an incomprehensible length and breadth, depth and height, of divine wisdom, love and power, and every perfection of the godhead, to the eternal admiration of principalities and powers in heavenly places.


Several Evasions of the arguments for the Depravity of Nature from Trial and Events considered.

Evasion I. Dr. T. says, (p. 231, 232.) " Adam's nature, it is allowed, was very far from being sinful; yet he sinned. And therefore, the common doctrine of Original Sin is no more necessary to account for the sin that has been or is in the world, than it is to account for Adam's sin." ""* Again, (p. 5254. S. &c.) "If we allow mankind to be as wicked as R. R. has represented them to be; and suppose that there is not one upon earth that is truly righteous and without sin, and that some are very enormous sinners, yet it will not thence follow that they are naturally corrupt.-For, if sinful action infers a nature originally corrupt, then, whereas Adam (according to them that hold the doctrine of Original Sin) committed the most heinous and aggravated sin that ever was committed in the world; for, according to them, he had greater light than any other man in the world, to know his duty, and greater

* Belsham.

power than any other man to fulfil it, and was under greater obligations than any other man to obedience; he sinned when he knew he was the representative of millions, and that the happy or miserable state of all mankind depended on his conduct; which never was, nor can be, the case of any other man in the world:-Then, I say, it will follow, that his nature was originally corrupt, &c.-Thus their argument from the wickedness of mankind, to prove a sinful and corrupt nature, must inevitably and irrecoverably fall to the ground.-Which will ap pear more abundantly, if we take in the case of the angels, who in numbers sinned and kept not their first estate, though created with a nature superior to Adam's.” Again, (p. 145 S.) "When it is inquired, how it comes to pass that our appetites and passions are now so irregular and strong, as that not one person has resisted them, so as to keep himself pure and innocent? If this be the case, if such as make the inquiry will tell the world how it came to pass that Adam's appetites and passions were so irregular and strong that he did not resist them so as to keep himself pure and innocent, when upon their principles he was far more able to have resisted them; I also will tell them how it comes to pass that his posterity does not resist them. Sin doth not alter its nature by its being general; and therefore how far soever it spreads, it must come upon all just as it came upon Adam."

These things are delivered with much assurance. But is there any reason in such a way of talking? One thing implied in it, and the main thing, if any at all to the purpose, is, that because an effect being general does not alter the nature of the effect, therefore nothing more can be argued concerning the cause from its happening constantly, and in the most steady manner, than from its happening but once. But how contrary is this to reason? Suppose a person, through the deceitful persuasions of a pretended friend, once takes a poisonous draught of liquor to which he had before no inclination; but after he has once taken of it, he is observed to act as one that has an insatiable, incurable thirst after more of the same, in his constant practice, obstinately continued in as long as he lives, against all possible arguments and endeavours used to dissuade him from it. And suppose we should from hence argue a fixed inclination, and begin to suspect that this is the nature and operation of the poison, to produce such an inclination, or that this strong propensity is some way the consequence of the first draught. In such a case, could it be said with good reason, that a fixed propensity can no more be argued from his consequent constant practice than from his first draught? Or, suppose a young man, soberly inclined, enticed by wicked companions, should drink to excess, until he had got a habit of excessive drinking, and should come under the power of a

greedy appetite after strong drink, so that drunkenness should become a common and constant practice with him: And suppose an observer, arguing from this general practice, should say, "It must needs be that this young man has a fixed inclination to that sin; otherwise, how should it come to pass that he should make such a trade of it?" And another, ridiculing the weakness of his arguing, should reply, "Do you tell me how it came to pass, that he was guilty of that sin the first time, without a fixed inclination, and I will tell you how he is guilty of it so generally without a fixed inclination. Sin does not alter its nature by being general: And therefore, how common soever it becomes, it must come at all times by the same means that it came at first." I leave it to every one to judge, who would be chargeable with weak arguing in such a


It is true there is no effect without some cause, ground, or reason of that effect, and some cause answerable to the effect. But certainly it will not follow that a transient effect requires a permanent cause or a fixed propensity. An effect happening once, though great, yea, though it may come to pass on the same occasion in many subjects at the same time, will not prove any fixed propensity or permanent influence. It is true, it proves an influence great and extensive, answerable to the effect, once exerted, or once effectual; but it proves nothing in the cause fixed or constant. If a particular tree, or a great number of trees standing together, have blasted fruit on their branches at a particular season- —or if the fruit be very much blasted, and entirely spoiled-it is evident that something was the occasion of such an effect at that time; but this alone does not prove the nature of the tree to be bad. But if it be observed, that those trees, and all other trees of the kind, wherever planted, and in all soils, countries, climates, and seasons, and however cultivated and managed, still bear ill fruit, from year to year, and in all ages, it is a good evidence of the evil nature of the tree. And if the fruit, at all these times, and in all these cases, be very bad, it proves the nature of the tree to be very bad. If we argue in like manner from what appears among men, it is easy to determine whether the universal sinfulness of mankind-all sinning immediately, as soon as capable of it, and continually, and generally being of a wicked character, at all times, in all ages, in all places, and under all possible circumstances, against means and motives inexpressibly manifold and great and in the utmost conceivable variety-be from a permanent internal great cause.

If the voice of common sense were heard, there would be no occasion for labour in multiplying arguments to shew that one act does not prove a fixed inclination; but that constant pursuit does. We see that, in fact, it is agreeable to the rea

son of all mankind, to argue fixed principles, tempers, and prevailing inclinations, from repeated and continued actionsthough the actions are voluntary, and performed of choiceand thus to judge of the tempers and inclinations of persons, ages, sexes, tribes, and nations. But is it the manner of men to conclude, that whatever they see others once do, they have a fixed abiding inclination to do? Yea, there may be several acts seen, and yet not be taken as good evidence of an established propensity, even though that one act, or those several acts, are followed by such constant practice as afterwards evidences fixed disposition. As for example; there may be several instances of a man drinking some spirituous liquor, and those instances be no sign of a fixed inclination to that liquor: But these acts may be introductory to a settled habit or propensity, which may be made very manifest afterwards by constant practice.

From these things it is plain, that what is alleged concerning the first sin of Adam, and of the angels, without a previous fixed disposition to sin, cannot in the least weaken the arguments brought to prove a fixed propensity to sin in mankind, in their present state. From the permanence of the cause has been argued the permanence of the effect. And that the per manent cause consists in an internal fixed propensity, and not in any particular external circumstances, has been argued from the effects being the same, through a vast variety and change of circumstances. But the first acts of sin in Adam or the an-/ gels, considered in themselves, were not permanent, continued effects. And though a great number of the angels sinned, and the effect on that account was the greater and more extensive; yet this extent of the effect is a very different thing from that permanence, or settled continuance of effect, which is supposed to shew a permanent cause or fixed propensity. Neither was there any trial of a vast variety of circumstances attending a permanent effect, to shew the fixed cause to be internal, consisting in a settled disposition of nature, in the instances objected. And however great the sin of Adam, or of the angels was, and however great the means, motives, and obligations were against which they sinned—and whatever may be thence argued concerning the transient cause, occasion, or temptation, as being very subtle, remarkably tending to deceive and seduce, &c.—yet it argues nothing of any settled disposition, or fixed cause, either great or small; the effect both in the angels and our first parents, being in itself transient, and, for ought appears, happening in each of them under one system or coincidence of influential circumstances." *

* See vol. I. p. 398. note.

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