By Job Hupton
That which divines very properly call the moral law, is the immutable and eternal standard of righteousness. In exact conformity to this law, existing in the divine mind, the first man was created as the head and representative of his numerous posterity; holy, just, and good. Upon his perfect performance of all that it required, depended his life and happiness, and the life and happiness of all his sons ; and with his disobedience were inseparable connected his own and their condemnation, misery, and death.
Of all the trees in Eden he might freely eat, the tree of' the knowledge of good and evil excepted : the fruit of that tree he was forbidden, on pain of death to touch. "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat," was the grant of his munificent, Creator; " but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it," was the prohibition of his rightful sovereign in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,' Was the tremendous threatening of his awful judge. Thus the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was, by a sovereign act of the divine legislator, made the test of his obedience; and had he performed the easy duty, so justly and kindly imposed upon him, he would, by that means, have preserved entire all that innocence, dignity and happiness with which he was invested in the day of his creation, both for himself and all his posterity.
But alas ! he fell! He took, he ate, and in one fatal moment threw off his allegiance to his beneficent sovereign, fell, with all his unborn seed in his loins, from the most elevated state of' parity, honor, and felicity that could possibly be filled and enjoyed upon earth; and sunk into the deepest guilt, disgrace, and misery that could possibly be felt out of hell.
Behold now the forlorn apostate ! Once the glory of this lower creation and the intimate associate of Deity; now, to the last degree execrable, only fit for the society and fellowship of devils. Stripped of the divine image, deprived of his Maker's presence, forbidden to approach his offended Lord, justly condemned by the law which he has broken, exposed in the hand of Omnipotence, stung with connseious guilt, and smitten with keen despair, he flees, flees with confusion and precipitance, roll, that God in whom he once delighted, as the centre and source of all his joy, and essays, but in vain, to conceal, at once, himself and his guilt from the scrutinizing eye of divine omniscience. Look now on which side soever he will, nothing presents itself, for him or his posterity, but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.
The holy law, in its nature immutable and in its demands inflexible, still requires of all who are under its authority, unsullied innocence in thought, in word, in deed. But alas ! Innocence is fled, is gone ! Fled from all the human race, gone for ever, past recovery from the power of it created arm. Not even a shadow of it is to be seen in any part of our apostate nature ; all is depravity, defilement, and guilt. The understanding is darkened ; the judgment is perverted; the mind is carnal and replete with enmity against God ; the will is filled with rebellion and enslaved by Satan ; reason has lost her empire and is degraded from her excellency; the affections are vitiated and in alliance with forbidden objects; the conscience is polluted and torpid ; the heart which was chaste is become a harlot; in its pristine state righteousness lodged in it, but now thieves and murderers ; in fine, the inward parts are very wickedness; every faculty and every member is most awfully contaminated, and our whole nature teems with moral evil.
That no injustice is done to human nature in this delineation of its condition is evident from the language of infallibility. "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually ;-their inward part is very wickedness ;-the wicked through the pride of their countenance will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts;-the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked;-for from within, out of the heart of plan proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, all evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness." Nor is this humiliating detail of the sins of the human heart referable to a part only of the sons of men, it has respect to the whole species. For by natural generation every father communicates to his offspring his own nature, with every innate principle he possesses. Adam begat Seth in his own likeness, after his own image; not merely in regard to his external natural form, but chiefly with respect to internal moral principle. And thus, age after age from the beginning, the corruption of human nature has passed entire from father to son, and will continue to do so to the end of the world. All, therefore, who lineally descend front Adam inherit his whole nature with its nefarious infernal principles. ''Were ten thousand stems to arise out of the same root, each would ready possess the very essence of that root; or It streams in mumerable were to issue from the same fountain, they would all alike partake of its qualities, whether salutary or pernicious. David knew and confessed that he was shapen in iniquity, and that in sin his mother conceived him. The same is true of' men, and the above humble and pathetic acknowledgement would well become the mouths of all human creatures, in every age, and in every nation of the world ; there is no inequality, no distinction here : the prince and the poor; the civilized and polite European, and the rude and savage Indian ; the inhabitant of Britain, and the inhabitant of Africa; Jews, Pagans, Mahometans, and nominal Christians ; men of every clime, of every colour, and of every distinction and rank stand upon the exactest level in regard of natural depravity and distance from God.
It is, indeed, confessed, that, in external appearance and conduct, there is at very material dissimilitude between, not only the inhabitants of different countries, but those of the same nation; nay, in thousands of instances, between the branches of the sauce family. Some spend their days, and mouths, and years, in rioting and drunkenness, in chambering and wantonness, and in multiplying iniquities of the most heinous nature and the greatest magnitude, till they ruin their characters, their constitutions, and their estates; and in the end, conclude an awful series of complicated crimes, by an ignominious exit on a gibbet or block. Others observing the laws of decency and sobriety, of modest and chastity, of justice and kindness, refrain from all atrocity, extend the hand of beneficence to bless the indigent, pay strict regard to all the exteriors of religion, study to make themselves agreeable and useful in every department, pass through life with so much decorum as scarcely to merit human censure, and, at last, leave the world, beloved and applauded, leaving behind them an external moral character worthy to be imitated by all ranks in every succeeding age.
But then, this difference of conduct is not the effect of any intrinsic difference in nature in these opposite characters, but is owing, in some, to what is called good breeding, or the art of politeness, and pride in practicing; that art; in others, to religious education received in early life ; in others, to legal fears of hell and hopes of heaven; and in all, what means so ever are employed, to an all wise, all powerful, all pervading Providence which bounds the raging lusts, restrains the tumultuous passions, and checks or disposes the minds of ungodly men according to the sovereign pleasure of him, whose infinite wisdom and might, perform all his will in every part of his vast empire, making even enmity itself, with till its infernal productions in the natures of men and of devils, entirely subservient to his eternal and immutable, deep and mysterious, vast and wonderful designs : " Surely the wrath of man," yes, and of devils too, " shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." If the unconverted refrain from the commission of' flagitious crimes, it is in consequence of divine restraint; if they perform works truly beneficial to themselves or others, they act under the sovereign influence of the divine government; yet, in both these cases, being totally ignorant of the power which moves them, and insensible of the influence under which they act, and conceiving that they are self-Moved, they attribute to themselves great merit, sacrifice to their own free will, and burn incense to their own self-sufficiency. Psa.lxxvi. 10. See also Gen. xx. 6. xxxi. 24, 29, and Gen. xxvii. 41, compared with xxxiii. 4: Exodus vii. 2, 3, 4, 5, and xii. 31, 32, 33, compared with ix. 17: also Sam. ii. 2.5. The Almighty says to the wild impetuous lusts and passions of men, as to the proud waves of the restless ocean, "Thus far shall ye go but no further, here shall ye be still." But for this, nothing would be heard but obscenity, falsehood, and blasphemy; no thing would be seen but uncleanness, ferocity, cruelty, rapine, devastation, and murder, till the whole world became a perfect Aceldama, or field of blood.
The doctrine of equal and total depravity among the sons and daughters of Adam, however incompatible with the proud and lofty notions of carnal minds respecting human purity, power and dignity, mast be maintained as truth, as truth divine most expressively attested in the sacred page, from which there can be no appeal. There we learn that the scrutinizing eve of divine omniscience takes a general survey of the huuman race ; infinite wisdom forms a just and impartial estimate of every latent quality in each individual of' human kind ; and infinite justice and faithfulness publish to all the world, the equal degeneracy and apostasy of all men. Psa.liii.2,3. "God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God: every one of them is gone back, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." And what is asserted on the melancholy subject of human depravity by the divinely inspired Paid, in his epistle to the Romans, refers to the whole race of mankind. For having mentioned some particular characters who manifested the most pernicious principles by the most ungodly practices, he asks; "What then, are we better than they'" And replies, ``no, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin."
In the above appellations all the posterity of Adam is included. And the faithful apostle, without making any distinction or exception whatever, declares; "'There is none righteous, no, not one, there is none that under standeth, there is none that seeketh after God, they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no, not one; their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their ways, the way of peace they have not known, there is no fear of God before their eves." What an affecting picture of human nature !
0, ye wise men after the flesh ! ye proud disputers of this world, who strenuously contend for the fabled purity and dignity of man, speak no more proudly, let not arrogancy come out of your lips God hath spoken ! The Infinite Eternal, at whose presence the universe is moved, and at whose look even hell trembles and is afraid, hath uttered his voice, and proclaimed to all the nations under heaven, the total depravity, the awful apostasy, and the tremendous guilt of every human tribe and individual on earth. Say not that he errs in judgment, nor think that his testimony is untrue. Remember that he is wise in heart and of infinite knowledge; a God of truth and without iniquity, Just and right in all his thoughts and all his words. He can neither deceive nor be deceived. His judgment is always according to truth, and his testimonies are very sure. Deny the truth of his testimony and you are deists ; question the infinity of his knowledge and you are atheists ; and in either case you proclaim both your ignorance and impiety ; are evidently taken by the Lord in your own craftiness, and while you profess to be supremely wise, you are truly guilty of the most consummate folly; for, in direct opposition to your intentions, You stand forth as indubitable evidence of the truth of those very things which you deny. God, long since, in the sacred Scriptures, foretold your impious denial of his word and your infernal blasphemy conceived and uttered against his wisdom and truth; and with an accuracy which, at once, bespeaks his understanding infinite, and his testimony true, has delineated your principles and depicted Your characters; as long, therefore, as we are blessed with the use of our mental powers and are capable of comparing your principles and conduct with his word, we cannot but read in you the clearest proof of his infinite knowledge and unimpeachable truth written in the Scriptures. And while either you or other, in direct contradiction to the positive language of God in the Scriptures, deny the fall of Adam and its awful consequence, the total depravity of his offspring, we shall never be in want of proof, the most incontestable, of the solemn truth you deny. Denial of the truth of God avouched in the Scriptures is the effect and evidence of enmity against the nature and will of God, and such enmity is the very quintessence of depravity; while, therefore, we have before our eves the baneful effect, how can we doubt the existence of the pernicious cause, or avoid considering the opposers of the doctrine of man's fall and depravity, as it stands revealed in the oracles of God, as undeniable witnesses of its truth, and the denial of it as among the best means of its confirmation.