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(Is. xlii. 21,) and that “He is FAITHFUL AND JUST to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John i. 9.)
Thus, then, we find God revealed in the New Testament, as well as in the Old, as “ a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside” Him. (Is. xlv.
Of the moral condition of Man-The view which the Old Testament gives of his exceeding sinfulness and pollution-- This is opposed to the proud conceits which prevail among men-But entirely consistent
with the declarations of the New Testament. We have next to enquire, Whether the New Testament gives a different view of the natural state and moral condition of Man, from that which is uniformly presented to us in the Old ?
Before the Flood, we have a fearful view of the state of a fallen world. “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.” (Gen. vi. 5.) And though, since that awful event, we may perhaps allow, that some restraints have been put, in providence and grace, upon the more violent actings and overflowings of wickedness and rebellion, yet it is evident, that we still remain children of the same corrupt and fallen
“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? not one." (Job. xiv. 4.) Accordingly we find, that, immediately after the Flood, God renews the most important and emphatic part of the foregoing declaration, and applies it to mankind at large; “ The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." (Gen. viii. 21.)
Take Man under the most favourable circumstances. When God, by signs and wonders, with an outstretched arm, had separated a people to Himself, and given them his ordinances and commandments, and bestowed upon them every privilege,--we should expect to find them, in a remarkable manner, preserved from the corruption and pollutions of the idolatrous world around them. What, then, are the declarations of the Scriptures respecting this
highly favoured and peculiar people ? and what are the facts of the history of Israel ? Observe the plain declarations of that eminent servant of the Lord, in whose name you are so commonly disposed to boast yourselves. “Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land : but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go in to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for Thou art a stIFF-NECKED PEOPLE. Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness : from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD. -Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people : Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their pame from under heaven : and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they. So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire : and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands. And I looked, and behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you.-And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-battaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath. Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice. YE HAVE BEEN REBELLIOUS AGAINST THE LORD FROM THE DAY THAT I KNEW YOU." (Deut. ix. 4—7, 13-16, 22–24.) Such is the testimony of Moses respecting Israel; and, in all his prayers and intercessions for them, he acknowledges their guilt and unworthiness. The long continuance of those prayers, for forty
days and forty nights together, is a remarkable proof of the deep sense he entertained of their sinfulness in the sight of God.
Of the guilt of Israel, as an affecting proof of the deep depravity of human nature, we have also remarkable testimonies in Judges ii., 2 Kings xvii. 6—23, and Psalms Ixxviii. and cvi.; to which passages
for further proofs and illustrations of the corruption which evidently prevailed in the hearts—even of God's chosen people.
David gives a similar view of the state of the world at large. " The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy : there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm xiv. 1-3.) He does not exempt himself from this universal charge, but confesses, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity ; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. li. 5.) And the same acknowledgement of universal guilt is brought before us, with peculiar force, in his prayers for pardon :
“ If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O LORD, who shall stand ? ” “ Enter not into judgement with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” (Ps. . cxxx. 3, cxliii. 2.) The moral depravity of the whole species is fully admitted by Job and his friends throughout the whole of their dispute. Job himself says, “ How should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean ; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. And Eliphaz expresses the same truth in language equally decided : “ What is man, that he should be clean ? and he which is born of a woman that he should be righteous ? Behold, He putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight! How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water !" To which also Bildad agrees : “ How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job ix. 2, 3, 30, 31, xv. 14—16, xxv. 4.)
In perfect harmony with these representations are the
declarations of the prophets. Do they speak in special reference to the people of Israel ? It is in terms like these :
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters : they have forsaken the LORD, they. have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores : they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” (Is. i. 246.) Do they speak of mankind at large? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked : * who can know it?” (Jer. xvii. 9.) Is it not also so manifest, that all the faithful servants of God, in all ages, have had very deep views of their own vileness and unworthiness, as to make it needless to transcribe pas
And, it is remarkable, that, in the prophecies respecting the future restoration of Israel, this people are uniformly represented as returning to the Lord under a very deep sense of their own guilt and pollution. “ We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
And there is none that calleth upon thy Name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast
* Desperately wicked. Heb. x mortiferus, ægerrimus, from the root wzp ægrum fuit, mortaliter ægrotavit, whence wiax Homo, i.e. mortalis.
The word would be more literally translated desperately or mortally sick; and so it is rendered in some translations. But sin is the sickness of the soul, and the meaning must be ascertained by a comparison with Is. i. 5, 6, quoted above. There can indeed be no doubt that our translators have given the sense correctly; though an adversary might cavil at the word used. The context also requires the same sense. In Jer. xv. 18, xxx. 12, 15, and Job xxxiv. 6, the same word is translated incurable.
consumed us, because of our iniquities." (Is. Ixiv. 6, 7.) “ Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your
abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you : be ashamed and confounded for your own ways,
house of Israel.” (Ez. xxxvi. 31, 32.) On which last passage I would observe that we are taught, first, how deep the feeling of humiliation and self-loathing will be: and then, by the express declaration of the Lord, what good and sufficient reason for such feelings there is.
All these passages, taken in connexion, give us a very peculiar view of human nature. Whatever illustrations of these humiliating truths, and whatever occasional acknowledgments (forced from them by facts which stare us in the face) may be gathered from the writings of philosophers and unbelievers, it is manifest that their representations of the moral condition of man, are, on the whole, totally different. Ignorant of God, and ignorant of themselves,- beguiled with mere external shows of virtue, in which the true and living principle is wanting,-looking only for so much of outward decency, and obedience to human laws and customs, as is barely sufficient for the maintenance of social order and of civil government,and having (through the blindness of their hearts) no notion of inward holiness and devotedness to God,-they indulge in lofty declamations about the excellence and dignity of human nature, which will not bear the test of fact and experience, and which are directly opposed to those true sayings of God, (the only proper Judge in this case,) which we have already quoted.
But, while all who are ignorant of the Scriptures maintain a very different view of human nature, we find the Scriptures of the New Testament alone (and the sentiments and feelings of all true Christians, in every age and nation) exactly coinciding with these declarations of the Old. To prove this, we need only refer to the whole of St. Paul's argument, Rom. i. 18—iii. 20, concluding, as it does, with the following series of quotations from the Old Testament. “ As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out