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Should others chance to cast an eye on the following pages, they will probably regard them with various feelings; but you, my brethren, will certainly read them with candour and kindness, and especially the numerous proofs adduced from the Word of God. On these I beseech you to ponder with deep and solemn attention, and with many prayers. By the Book which furnishes these proofs, we must all be judged in the Day that shall decide the eternal destinies of men. He is an infidel who will not suffer that volume absolutely to govern his faith, in spite of preconceived opinions or present reasonings. It was to be expected that a Revelation of the Infinite God would rise above the blinded reason of man. “ My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” If any of you should feel as though some parts were too much against you, before
you decide recollect that you are a party concerned. Whotver sits down to these sheets with a proud determination, whatever the Scriptures may decide, to think for himself, will be likely to rise with his old opinions. But he who enters on the investigation with humility and prayer, will be guided into all truth, whether he finds it in these pages or not. If any man is resolved not to bow implicitly to the Word of God, I beseech him to close the book here.
In these Discourses you will find no reasonings on points foreign to godliness,-no theories about the ORIGIN OF SIN,– no challenge for a CONDITIONAL CONSENT TO BE DAMNED, no perplexing speculations about TASTE and EXERCISE ;but the fundamental and practical truths of our holy reli
gion, a simple defence of the faith of our fathers. pressing my own views of truth I have had no wish to give offence or pain to others. I have spoken plainly, as time and circumstances seemed to require, and expect to have my motives re-examined at a tribunal from which there is no appeal. If I have censured without the gentleness of the Christian spirit, may God forgive ; if with right views and feelings, to Him be the praise.
My heart's desire and prayer to God is, that even these Discourses may prove of some advantage to you and your children.
With affectionate respect,
Your brother and servant in the LORD.
EDWARD D. GRIFFIN.
Boston, March 26, 1813.
GENESIS VI. 5.
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.
Such was the character of the whole antediluvian world, with the exception of a single family. And unless human nature is essentially changed, such is the character, with the exception of those who are renewed by grace, of the whole modern world. But human nature is not changed. It never was tainted with any thing worse than inordinate selflove; it is tainted with that still. Human nature considered in itself, like the nature of other ani. mals, remains essentially the same in every period and condition. “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man."* Different restraints may be imposed by light, by example, by civilized habits, by divine and human laws, by motives growing out of peculiar circumstances, by more or less activity in the social affections; but
* Prov. xxvii. 19.
till a new nature is imparted, selfishness gives essentially the same form in the sight of God to every human character. He that “ hateth his brother is a murderer;" he that cherishes an impure desire is an adulterer; he that covets is an idolator. * In this polluted principle lurk the seeds of all sin; and where nothing else of a moral nature exists, as in all cases where “ true holiness” is wanting, it constitutes the whole character in the sight of God. Of course the character of all unholy men, however variously compressed by restraints, is specifically the same.
What then does our text affirm of all unsancti. fied men ? That every imagination of the thoughts of their heart is only evil continually. It is impossible for language more fully or plainly to assert that fundamental doctrine of our holy religion, which I shall lay at the foundation of these Lec- . tures, that mankind by nature are totally depraved.
But what is meant by Total Depravity? Not that men are as bad as they can be, for in general they lie under strong restraints. Not that they are all equally wicked, for some are more restrained than others. Not that they are destitute of every thing useful and lovely in society; their humanity and social affections are decidedly of this character. Not that the form of their actions is always wrong; the contrary is manifestly true. It is only meant that they are utterly destitute of holiness,
Mat. v. 28. Eph. v. 5. Col. iï. 5. 1 John iii. 15.