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IV. Corruption of Human Nature. How greatly will Love and Praise predominate over dissatisfaction and murmur, when the artificial gloom, which a corrupt religion has spread over the world, shall be dispelled by Thy internal revelation !* Who that believes the dark tragedy of the Fall of Man, and the destructive workings of Original Sin, can, at present, raise a smiling countenance to heaven? Howl and bewail, oh children of Adam ! Cheerfulness and joy are equally absurd and sinful in you. Are you not doomed to perdition from the first moment of animation? Was not your existence, from its unconscious beginning, an offence against the author of all being? You are an abomination in his eyes : you are objects of his undying hatred; for you are descended from a human couple, who though made perfect by God, allowed themselves to be deceived by a serpent (which means Satan), and ven
• A constant experience, extending from the earliest dawn of the prevalent Christianity to our own days, proves its tendency to produce a gloomy enthusiasm, when seriously made a leading rule of life. Cecilius, the character that personates the heathen in the Dialogue of Minucius Felix, entitled Octavius, written about A.D. 220, has drawn a general picture of the Christians, which might be taken for a portrait of the Saints and Methodists, as well among Protestants as Catholics. Vos verò suspensi interim atque solliciti honestis voluptatibus abstinetis : non spectacula visitis, non pompis interestis: convivia publica absque vobis; sacra certamina, præcerptos cibos et delibatos altaribus potus abhorretis ...... pallidi, trepidi, misericordia digni...... In another place :-latebrosa et lucifuga natio, in publicum muta, in angulis garrula.
tured to eat of a fruit, which God, knowing they were not strong enough to resist the temptation, had forbidden them to touch on pain of death! What God foresaw, could not but happen; our first Parents ate of the fatal Tree. It is true that they did not die on that day, as had been threatened; but all their future descendants died on that very instant; or, what the Interpreters of the Bible declare to be the same, all were doomed to suffer through eternity. So doomed, we are born; so doomed, we live: can we, then, under that awful sentence, relish life for an instant ?
“O, full of all subtilty and mischief (I hear them answer me), thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord ? Wilt thou stop thine ears against the words of wisdom, which God has sent through us his servants, in explanation of what thou, most cunningly, dost involve in difficulties? True it is that we are all born children of wrath, and heirs of eternal fire: but why dost thou not disclose the wonderful remedy provided against that evil? Has not Redemption been granted ? Are we not saved by the blood of Christ ? Did he not hang like a malefactor, on the cross, to purchase heaven for us? Oh, wicked man! dost thou despise the blood of the Lamb, slain for us from the beginning of the world? As sin entered into the world by one man, and death through him, so that in Adam all die, do you not know that through a greater man—-"
Ah, forgive my impatience, and let me finish the happy sentence—“All men are equally made spiritually alive.”—So, then, there is an Original Salvation. As sin ruins us even when unconscious of our being, so the work of Redemption saves all, without the least chance of failure.—Thanks be to heaven! though the cause of our danger, as you explained it, was incomprehensible, and quite unsatisfactory, I will not dispute that point. Let the remedy be as universal and effectual, and I will instantly raise the hymn of joy.
“ Man (I hear), thou art a mocker.”—God, Thou knowest I do not mean to trifle or insult. But Thou hast given such power to thy Truth, that it reflects contempt on those who grossly offend it. In vain do men strive by anger and assumed solemnity to check that very peculiar manifestation of instinctive good sense, which, because it produces involuntary laughter, is called Ridicule. It is not true that Truth and Error, that true Reasoning, and Sophistry, that unpretending simplicity, and conscious affectation, are equally exposed to the shafts of Ridicule. As Beauty, under all circumstances, carries a halo of loveliness and dignity about it, that abashes the boldest insolence, so does Truth remain unmoved at the grimaces of mockery. Neither is it possible that sincere piety can appear ridiculous; that sublime sentiment is inseparable from truth and simplicity of expression. Who will laugh at the Fire-worshipper, who on discovering the first rays of the sun from a mountain top, prostrates himself to the earth, and remains for a time in silent
devotion ?-No: the boldest fanatics, on the contrary, cannot silence the internal suggestions of common sense, which tell them they deserve contempt. To escape this consciousness, they raise a clamour of impiety whenever their absurd idols, mental or tangible, are closely examined by sound reason. What a monstrous picture do most divines draw of thy divine Being, my God! How unjust, odious, tyrannical, they make Thee appear, oh, model of all that is lovely, good, and beneficent! But if any one declares that, instead of the true God, those men have drawn a demon; if in a fit of just indignation, the truly pious man declares that it would be easier to submit to the empire of the commonly described Satan, than to that of such a God, they will run frantic, as if it had been asserted that Thou, oh glorious Father, wert really inferior in nature to the Devil. In vain they are told that the assertion is made only of the false image which they themselves have set up as God. Their mind is insensible to all reasoning ;—" you, bold and wicked philosopher, hast made God inferior to the Devil.”—But I ask them again ;-who drew the false and detestable image on which I vent my contempt?-He is the blasphemer who describes God as a monster.
Revealed Writings. “ To the Law and the Testimony” is their favourite appeal, as soon as Thy light within us begins to shine so pure as to make them despair of raising a cloud about it. The best chance of wranglers is a law of words. Wonderful, indeed, art Thou, oh God, in all thy manifestations, but especially in those surprising means, through which thou enablest thy rational creatures to convey in material signs the most delicate processes of their own minds. Verbal language, in its structure and powers, attests thy Deity, as much, if not more than the multitude of suns that proclaim Thee from the boundless firmament. If man derived any part of his instruction immediately from Thee, it must have been in the first model of articulate speech. But language, though wonderful, betrays in its imperfections that it is a derivation of the human faculties. Its foundations are material images. In vain do we strive against this original imperfection. A practised mind follows so rapidly a chain of analogies, that we are tempted to believe we have separated the primitive verbal sound from the sensuous image or sentiment, which first gave it currency in language. Why is it that Thou hast no Name, though the ignorant Jews believed thou hadst made a display of Grammar and Etymology in appointing one, which, after all such refinements, could not pass the lips without crime? Having for ages