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seeing it saps the very foundation of all revealed religion, whether Jewish or Christian. “Indeed, my Lord, said an eminent man to a person of quality, I cannot see that we have much need of Jesus Christ." And who might not say, upon this supposition, “I cannot see that we have much need of Christianity.” Nay, not any at all; for “ they that are whole, have no need of a physician;" and the Christian revelation speaks of nothing else, but the great Physician of our souls: nor can Christian philosophy, whatever be thought of the Pagan, be more properly de.. fined than in Plato's words: it is ega tela tuxns. The only true method of healing a distempered soul. But what need of this, if we are in perfect health? If we are not diseased, we do not want a cure. If we are not sick, why should we seek for a “medicine to heal our sickness ?” What room is there, to talk of our being renewed in knowledge or holiness, “ after the image wherein we were created,” if we never have lost that image? If we are as knowing and holy now, nay, far more so, than Adam was immediately after his creation? If therefore, we take away this foundation, that man is by nature foolish and sinful, fallen short of the glorious image of God, the Christian system falls at once: nor will it deserve so honourable an appellation, as that of a “cunningly devised fable.”
5. In considering this Confutation of the Christian system, I am under some difficulty from Dr. Taylor's manner of writing. It is his custom to say the same thing (sometimes in different, sometimes in nearly the same words) six or eight, perhaps twelve or fifteen times, in different parts of his book. Now I have accustomed myself for many years, to say one and the same thing once only. However, to comply with his manner as far as possible, I shall add at proper intervals, extracts from others, expressing nearly the same sentiments, which I have before expressed in my own words.
6. I am sensible, in speaking on' so tender a point as this must needs be, to those who believe the Christian system, there is danger of a warmth which does no honour to our
cause, nor is at all countenanced by the revelation which, we defend. I desire neither to shew, nor to feel this, but to speak the truth in love,” (the only warmth which the gospel allows,) and to write with calmness, though not with indifference. There is likewise a danger of despising our opponents, and of speaking with an air of contempt or disdain. I would gladly keep clear of this also; well knowing that a diffidence of ourselves, is far from implying a diffi- , dence of our cause : I distrust myself, not my argument. O that the God of the Christians may be with me! That his Spirit may give me understanding, and enable me to think and “speak as the Oracles of God,” without going from them to the right hand or to the left!
LEWIGILAM, Nov. 30, 1756.
DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN,
&c. &c. &c.
The past and present State of Mankind.
BEFORE we attempt to account for any fact, we should be well assured of the fact itself. First, therefore, let us inquire what is the real State of mankind? And in the second place endeavour to account for it.
I. First, I say, let us inquire, What is the real State, with regard to Knowledge and Virtue, wherein mankind have been from the earliest times? And what state are they in at this day?
I. 1. What is the state, (to begin with the former branch of the inquiry,) with regard to knowledge and virtue, wherein, according to the most authentic accounts, mankind have been from the earliest times? We have no authentic account of the state of mankind in the times ante. cedent to the Deluge, but in the writings of Moses. What then, according to these, was the state of mankind in those times? Moses gives us an exact and full account: God then “ saw that the wickedness of man was great, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," (Gen. vi. 5, 12, 13.) And this was not the case of only part of mankind; but “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” And accordingly God said, “The end of all flesh is come, for the earth is filled with violence through them.” Only Noah was “righteous before God," (ch. vii. 1.) Therefore he and his househoid were spared, when God " brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly,” and destroyed them all from the face of the earth,
"Let us examine the most distinguishing features in this draught. Not barely the works of their hands, or the words of their tongue, but “every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was evil.” The contagion had spread itself through the inner man ; had tainted the seat of their principles, and the source of their actions. But was there not some mixture of good ? No; they were only evil. Not so much as a little leaven of piety, unless in one single family. But were there no lucid intervals? No happy moments wherein virtue gained the ascendency? None: Every imagination, every thought was only evil continually.'
2. Such was the state of mankind for at least sixteen hundred years. Men were corrupting themselves and each other, and proceeding from one degree of wickedness to another, till they were all (save eight persons) ripe for destruction. So deplorable was the state of the moral world, while the natural was in its highest perfection. And yet it is highly probable, that the inhabitants of the earth were then abundantly more numerous, than ever they have been since, considering the length of their lives, falling little short of a thousand years, and the strength and vigour of their bodies, which we may easily gather from the time they were to continue: to say nothing of the fertility of the earth, probably far greater than it is at present. Consequently it was then capable of sustaining such a number of inhabitants, as could not now subsist on the produce of it.
3. Let us next take a view of the Families of the sons of Noah, the inhabitants of the earth after the Flood. The first remarkable incident we read concerning them is, that while “they were all of one language, they said one to another, Let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” It is not easy to determine, what were
* Mr. Hervey’s Theron and Aspasio, Dial. 11.
the peculiar aggravations which attended this attempt. But it is certain, there was daring wickedness therein, which brought upon them the very thing they feared. For “the Lord by confounding their language," (not their religious worship: Can we suppose God would confound this ?) 6 scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth,” (Gen. xi. 4--9.) Now whatever particulars in this account may be variously interpreted, thus much is clear and undeniable, That all these, that is, all the inhabitants of the earth had again “ corrupted their way;" the universal wickedness being legible in the universal punishment.
4. We have no account of their reforming their ways, of any universal or general repentance, before God separated Abraham to himself, to be the father of his chosen people, (Gen. xii. 1, 2.) Nor is there any reason to believe, that the rest of mankind were improved either in wisdom or virtue, when “Lot and Abraham separated themselves, and Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom,” (ibid.) Of those among whom he dwelt, it is particularly remarked, “ The men of Sodom” (and of all “ the cities of the plain) were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly,” (xiii. 13.) “so that not even “ ten righteous persons” could be found
among them : the consequence of which was, that “ The Lord rained upon them brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven," (xix. 24.)
5. We have no ground to suppose, that the other inhabitants of the earth, (Abraham with his family and descendants excepted,) had either the knowledge or the fear of God, from that time till Jacob went into Egypt. This was then, as well as for several ages after, the great seat of learning: insomuch that “ the wisdom of the Egyptians," was celebrated even to a proverb. And indeed for this end, (as well as “ to save much people alive,” (Gen. 1. 20, did “God send Joseph into Egypt, even to inform their prinées after his will, and to teach their senators wisdom," (Psm. cv. 22.) And yet not long after bis death, as their king knew not Joseph, so his people knew not God. Yea, they set him at defiance; they and their king provoked him