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quired daily to deny himself, and no longer to participate in those vanities which are usually peculiarly gratifying to ardent and sanguine tempers: if such requisitions as these be made, then commences the struggle; and we too frequently behold those, who are foremost in every active duty, shrink with disgust from the resignation of worldly pleasure.
On the other hand, men of indolent and phlegmatic dispositions would never perceive their enmity towards God, were Christianity a mere negative system of quietism. Persons of this description, who begin to feel the importance of religion, will hear with equal complacency, a warm exhortation to the duties of the closet, and a vehement remonstrance against dissipation. They forthwith give themselves up to prayer and devout meditation: they read the Scriptures daily: and they steadily resolve never more to frequent the haunts of vanity and folly. All this they perform without any difficulty: and, therefore, they conclude, that their inclinations are perfectly in unison with the will of God, and that
they have arrived at a considerable degree of eminence in the school of Christianity. But what are their pretensions to superior piety, if they be closely scrutinised? They diligently perform those duties, to which simply from their natural constitution they have no repugnance: and they resolutely deny themselves all those fashionable follies, for which they previously entertained the most profound indifference. In such a state of mind, let a course of active duty be urged upon them; and they will be effectually convinced of their natural hatred to the Law of God.
Men are very ready to obey, so far as obedience is not entirely inconsistent with their inclinations: hence the opulent will never take offence at the clergyman, who happens to preach a concio ad populum against theft; nor the populace at him, who censures the vices of their superiors'. But if he faithfully tell
1 I have somewhere seen a story of Doctor Johnson, which may serve not inappositely to exemplify this remark; though I by no means think the Doctor's implied censure of his mother just. I remember, said he to one of his friends, when
both parties their faults; if he force his reluctant congregation to take a survey of their inward corruptions; and if he declare, that no man can enter into the kingdom of heaven unless a complete and radical change take place in his heart: he will find none satisfied with him but those, who are resolved to make the service of God the main business of their lives. In a similar manner, if he assure such of his flock as make a great outward profession of religion, that a vehement zeal for certain particular doctrines, a staunch adherence to party, a never-ceasing eagerness to discuss theological topics, an intemperate thirst of hearing sermons, and a too exclusive partiality for favourite preachers, are no certain marks of grace; if he solemnly warn them, that the doers, not the hearers of God's word, are treading the path which leads to heaven; and if he remind them, that the shibboleth of a sect
I was a child, that my mother, by way of spending a Sunday evening profitably, made me read to her a chapter from The Whole Duty of Man against stealing. The truth of the doctrine was undeniable: but I felt no inclination to be a thief.
is by no means an evidence of real Christianity: it is far from improbable, that his plain-dealing will be very ill received. So long as he prophesies smooth things, and accommodates himself to the humour of his congregation, whatever that humour may be; just so long they will speak well of him: but let him put forth his hand, and touch their bone and their flesh; and they will curse him to his face'.
(4.) What has been said is amply sufficient to prove, that the carnal mind is enmity with God. If any person still doubt it, let him but vigorously apply himself to those allowed duties which are most irksome to him; and he will quickly find an argument in his own breast, infinitely stronger than any that have been here adduced 2.
1 Job ii. 5.
2 Quid aliud in mundo quam pugna adversus diabolum quotidie geritur; quam adversus jacula ejus et tela conflictationibus assiduis dimicatur? Cum avaritia nobis, cum impudicitia, cum ira, cum ambitione, congressio est: cum carnalibus vitiis, cum illecebris secularibus, assidua et molesta luc
2. Closely connected with the bitter animosity which the heart entertains against God (connected, indeed, with it, in the way of cause and effect), is its extreme depravity.
Theological writers have not unfrequently been accused of exaggeration in treating of the depravity in question; but the conscience of every one, whose understanding has been enlightened with self-knowledge, will readily acquit them of the charge.
Since the fall, the nature of man has been blind and corrupt; his understanding darkened, and his affections polluted. Upon the face of the whole earth, there is no man, Jew or Gentile, that understandeth and seeketh after God. The natural man, or man remaining in that state wherein the fall left him, is so far from
tatio est. Obsessa mens hominis, et undique diaboli infestatione vallata, vix occurrit singulis, vix resistit. Si avaritia prostrata est, exsurgit libido: si libido compressa est, succedit ambitio: si ambitio contemta est, ira exasperat, inflat superbia, vinolentia invitat, invidia concordiam rumpit, amicitiam zelus abscindit. Cyprian. de Mortal. Oper. vol. i. p. 157. Oxon.